Thursday, August 9, 2018

Review: A Wallflower Christmas

A Wallflower Christmas A Wallflower Christmas by Lisa Kleypas
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Wallflowers are back together again. It doesn't quite have the magic of the others in the series, but I enjoyed it.

The girls are reunited for the holidays, and Lilian and Daisy's rake of a brother, Rafe Bowman, is visiting from America to meet the lovely Natalie. Rich and beautiful, she is on the hunt for a husband, and while she wants a peer this match might work for her too. Ah, the days of marrying for position and advantage, rather than love. So glad I live in these modern times where I can do and say what I want. But I digress.

What you have here is an unlikeable lead and a prim miss of a love attraction in Hannah. She puts up with way too much, but Rafe finally redeems himself and they all get their HEA, and you know that's my favorite part. This book needed to be about 100 pages more to really pull me in, but I still enjoyed it. 3 stars.

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Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Review: The Call of the Wild

The Call of the Wild The Call of the Wild by Jack London
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Oh Buck! You and your friends went through so much.

A little emotional about this book. Jack London threw a lot at me. Buck, stolen and forced to work. Treated cruelly, starved, worked to the bone. I just can't. I wanted to grab a club and hit those men until they couldn't get up.

Along comes a bright, shiny savior. John Thornton is a good man, and he does his best for Buck. Too many spoilers lie ahead, so I will leave you with this advice. Read this when you want to have all the feels, and be ready for anger, sadness, and triumph. A good story with an unexpected ending. 3 stars. Hey, it's a classic for a reason. Read it, but have something ready afterwards that will make you happy, like chocolate and an episode of Parks & Rec.

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Review: The Help

The Help The Help by Kathryn Stockett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I. Love. This. Book. When I initially read it I rated it 4 stars, but I am rounding up to 5 this time, because it's just that good. I think it is because I listened to it on audio, and it was excellent with multiple narrators. It brought the story to life in a different way, and I loved it.

Skeeter. Aibileen. Minny. Their world in the tumultuous South in the 1960s is about to be turned upside down. Skeeter is fresh out of college, full of ideas and itching to make her way into adulthood. Aibileen and Minny have been working for the white women of Jackson, Mississippi for their entire lives. As times are changing, so are a few attitudes, including Skeeter's. She's about to turn all of their lives upside down. She's an aspiring writer, you see, and she gets a wild idea to write about the lives of the black women who are "the help" in her town. Look out, Jackson. Skeeter's coming for you.

Filled with realities of a time I can't even wrap my brain around, the characters really come to life, the storyline is full of humor and drama (just like real life) and you will find yourself both glad you don't live in Jackson and wishing you could have been a part of this time of change. 4.5 stars that I'm rounding up to 5 because the audio is so amazing. Please read this book.

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Monday, August 6, 2018

Review: Opal Fire

Opal Fire Opal Fire by Barbra Annino
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Really struggled to get through this one. It's about what you would expect from the cover art, though.

Stacy is a reporter, but she doesn't seem to be a very good one. She's also a witch, but she wants to ignore her magic (insert eye roll here). She lives in a small town and is surrounded by annoying people who I would never want to spend a minute with if they were real: a quirky witch family, a cousin named Cinnamon who is a brash bar owner with an awful personality -- this woman threatened to beat everyone up in the book without provocation, an annoying photographer at the paper. Come on, now. Why do you write such unlikeable, unrealistic characters?

The mystery was dumb, the characters were unrealistic, the dialogue stilted, and the love triangle unnecessary. 1.5 stars but rounding up because I do enjoy books with dogs.

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Friday, August 3, 2018

Review: Last of the Breed

Last of the Breed Last of the Breed by Louis L'Amour
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Cold War. U.S. vs. U.S.S.R. Spy vs. Spy. Welcome to the 80's, my friends.

Joe Mack is an American Air Force pilot who is shot down behind enemy lines, captured, and taken to a Soviet prison camp. In Siberia, no less. I can't think of a more 80's plot line, so cue the Rocky IV soundtrack. Because he's American, but mostly Native American, he makes a daring escape and we spend the rest of the book running with him across frozen Siberia as he tries to make his way back home. He's tracked, of course. By the best of the best--another "native" tracker who always gets his man but can't be counted on to bring him home alive.

Survival, patriotism, and a glimpse at life in a harsh land. I've read this book 5 times at least and enjoy it every time. 3 stars.

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Monday, July 30, 2018

Review: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Can't believe I haven't reviewed this book before. It's one of my favorites in the series. So much happening to Harry and his friends. Umbridge, Dumbledore's Army, the return of He Who Must Not Be Named. And at the center of it all is Harry, who should be putting all of his efforts into becoming the best wizard he can be, but does the silly rebellious teenager thing and doesn't stay focused.

There is loss. There are bad decisions. You will be angry and sad and frustrated by this book. But in the end you realize all of the things that happen had to happen to get us to the final pages of book 7. I had to go through all of the steps of grief while reading. I had to take a series break because I know what happens in the next book and I'm just not emotionally ready for it all.

Jim Dale really brings it all to life on audio. If you haven't listened to this series yet, you are in for a treat. 4 solid stars and an extra hug for Neville.

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Sunday, July 29, 2018

Review: The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie

The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

An enjoyable entry to the series. I might have loved it even more if I hadn't started with book 3.

Ian Mckenzie has "issues". He is, for lack of a better term, autistic. He doesn't like to be touched. He doesn't look people in the eyes. He says the wrong things, speaks out of turn, and generally has a hard time getting along in the world. Misunderstood by everyone but his amazing brothers, he has adapted. Now he is facing an attraction that he hasn't experienced before and doesn't quite know how to proceed.

Luckily for Ian, Beth knows how to handle him. She's experienced true love before, being a young widow. She figures out his quirks, gives him space, and accepts him for who he is. Nice, right? Throw in some drama, false accusations, and a bit of a mystery and you've got yourself a find new series. If you love strong women, unconventional heroes, and historical romance, give this one a look. 3.5 stars.

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Friday, July 27, 2018

Review: The Dark Horse

The Dark Horse The Dark Horse by Craig Johnson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I wrote a long, long, review about this book. Goodreads was over capacity and ate it. I'm not sure I can muster the energy to repeat myself, but here we go.

You know how sometimes a book in a series you love just doesn't hit the mark? That's this one for me. I'm not sure why. It has all of the pieces you would expect in a Longmire mystery. Walt and Henry. Ruby and Vic and Lucian, but in very limited amounts. Some fun undercover moments for Walt. Lots of Dog. And horses. However, I'm left wanting more but can't figure out why. Maybe it was the constant time jumps. Maybe it was Walt trying to be undercover in his hometown. Seriously, Walt? You're pretty well-known. And Henry even more so. But anyway...

Walt is investigating a murder of a man no one is going to miss, and a bunch of horses that everyone will. And a missing horse, and a near-comatose wife who is in the middle of it all. You know Walt. He can't help but be involved now. It's just who he is.

Like I said, the components are all there, and it is actually pretty good, but not as great as some of the others. 3 stars.

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Thursday, July 19, 2018

Review: I Hunt Killers

I Hunt Killers I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Well, that was a wild ride! I went in expecting something totally different, but I loved this book.

Jasper Dent is the son of a VERY prolific serial killer. He is alone in the word (well, except for his crazy grandmother) and trying to convince himself that he can have a normal life. Dude, you stayed in the same small town and expected people to not look at you sideways? All the while your grandma is crawling all over the floor thinking she is under attack and other crazy things. Your life will never be normal, but I'm applauding your spirit. But you do have a great BFF in Howie and a wonderful girlfriend in Connie. You are lucky in a lot of ways. And I'm hoping not nearly as messed up as you seem to think you might be. Fingers crossed!

You get to follow along with Jasper and how he puzzles out a copy-cat killer while trying to work through his messed up emotions. It's really well-written, and I loved it on audio. You should check this one out. I think you'll like it. It gets a bit dark in places, especially for a young adult book, but how else can you write about serial killers? 4 stars.

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Sunday, July 15, 2018

Review: Elephants Can Remember

Elephants Can Remember Elephants Can Remember by Agatha Christie
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It's always a treat when I discover a Christie novel I haven't read before. Especially one with Poirot, since he's my favorite. Not sure how I missed this one.

We have a twisted case brought to us from Ariadne Oliver. She has a curious inquiry regarding a long-past case dropped in her lap by a pushy woman, and she can't stop thinking about it so she calls up her old friend Hercule Poirot. Hey, if I was friends with him I would do the same thing. Let him employ those little gray cells and help me sort it all out. And naturally, that is what happens. What else would you expect from Dame Agatha?

Red herrings abound, and I totally thought I had the case cracked 58% in but alas, Agatha fooled me again. You saucy minx, you really are the greatest mystery writer of all time. Subtracting a half star because no actual elephants are featured in the book. (Just kidding, Agatha, you earned all three enjoyable stars).

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