Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Tiger Eyes

Tiger EyesTiger Eyes by Judy Blume

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love revisiting some of my favorite authors from growing up, and Judy Blume wrote some great ones. However, I hadn't read Tiger Eyes. Shocking, I know.

Davey's father is killed in a tragic holdup at their convenience store, and her family tries to find a way to move on. They visit her aunt and uncle in New Mexico and each person grieves and moves on in their own way. It's sad, and it's real, just like all Judy Blume books. Definitely worth the quick read.

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Saturday, December 20, 2014


19841984 by George Orwell

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

A frightening look at the dangers of total government control, the loss of freedom of speech and thought, and the importance of continuing this discourse before it happens to us. Some might say it already has, but this book shows how terrible it really can be.

“He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.”
― George Orwell, 1984

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Saturday, December 13, 2014

Another Man's Moccasins (Walt Longmire #4)

Another Man's Moccasins (Walt Longmire, #4)Another Man's Moccasins by Craig Johnson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Another great installment to the Longmire series. It just keeps getting better and better.

This time we get some flashbacks to Walt and Henry's time in Vietnam, as the current day mystery has ties to their past. The body of a young Vietnamese woman is found in Walt's jurisdiction, and the Crow Indian found near the scene is accused of the murder. As Walt finds himself faced with proving a man's innocence, he is struck by the similarities to a case he had as a Marine investigator in Vietnam. The mystery is smartly woven together and I was guessing until the end.

Read this series. Just read it. You will like it.

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Academ's Fury (Codex Alera #2)

Academ's Fury (Codex Alera, #2)Academ's Fury by Jim Butcher

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

More journeys in Alera. I just love this series!

Set two years after the first book, we join Tavi at the Academy. A threat is coming to Alera, and all of our favorites work to save the Realm from the four corners of the land. Yes, you get lots of Bernard and Amara goodness. Yes, Isana is still the same strong, reticent woman. Yes, Tavi continues to grow up. There's political intrigue around every corner. Trust no one. Except Doroga. Always trust Doroga. Another great installment in the series with good character growth all-around.

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Monday, December 8, 2014

The Winter People

The Winter PeopleThe Winter People by Jennifer McMahon

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

An interesting book, and not anything I would typically read.

A story with two intertwining timelines, we journey in the past with Sara Harrison Shea, who was found dead after the death of her five-year-old daughter, Gertie. In the present day, we journey with Ruthie, who now lives with her family in Sara Harrison Shea's farmhouse in Vermont. After her mother disappears, Ruthie and her little sister Fawn find a copy of Sara's diary hidden in the floorboards of her mother's bedroom. As Ruthie searches for her mother, the past and the present collide and the truth comes out.

Suspenseful and a little scary, the story left me guessing at every turn. I don't usually read the horror genre, but enjoyed this one.

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Friday, December 5, 2014

The Crossing Places (Ruth Galloway #1)

The Crossing PlacesThe Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I picked up this book because I thought it would be a fantastic book. Archaeology? Check. Mystery? Check. Series? Check. I wanted to love it. I just like it.

Ruth is a forensic archaeologist, which is fascinating to me. I'm a bit jealous, actually. But this series hasn't crossed into "favorite series" territory for me, at least not yet. My nitpicks: Ruth constantly complains about her weight and is jealous of basically all other women in the world because of it, despite having men hitting on her all of the time. She has a real beef with her parents because they are Born Again Christians. You are nearly 40, Ruth. Be an adult, accept that they hold different beliefs than you, and move on. Or cut ties. And I have a real issue with violence against animals and children, and extra-marital affairs. This book hits all of my hot buttons. But I bought the first four books before reading any of them, so I will at least read through those before giving up on Ruth and company.

(And the mystery did keep me guessing--it had a lot of twists and red herrings, so that's nice.)

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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Road

The RoadThe Road by Cormac McCarthy

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I thought this book was fantastic.

Bleak and depressing, it tells a tale of what our future could be. The imagery is cold. I needed a warm blanket and a cup of tea while reading it. It's the tale of a father's love, a tale of hope, and a tale of life continuing on.

Cormac McCarthy has a way with words. I could picture every location as they traveled along the road. I could feel every cold wind in my bones, and my stomach was clenched in fear and hunger for our travelers. If you haven't read this book, just do it. It left me changed. 4 1/2 stars.

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Monday, December 1, 2014

Kindness Goes Unpunished (Walt Longmire #3)

Kindness Goes Unpunished (Walt Longmire, #3)Kindness Goes Unpunished by Craig Johnson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It's time for a road trip!

Walt and Henry take a road trip from Wyoming to Philadelphia (with Dog, naturally) where Henry will be presenting old Mennonite photographs found on the reservation to the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts while Walt visits Cady, the greatest legal mind of our time. But when Cady gets hurt after they arrive, Walt is on the case and working with the cops in Philly to solve a crime. Way outside of his jurisdiction with some serious conflict of interest going on, but we'll let that slide.

Lots of fun in this one. We get to meet Vic's family, and they don't disappoint. I love Vic's mom. Not what I would have expected based on how rough Vic is, but she is great. Vic's dad, however, is exactly what I pictured. We got more insights into Walt's relationship with Cady and the ending sets us up for some interesting potential plot lines in the next books.

Another great installment to the series.

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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Winter's Bone

Winter's BoneWinter's Bone by Daniel Woodrell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow. Not what I was expecting. Really good.

Drugs. Guns. Violence. Ree Dolly lives in poverty in the Ozarks. Her father skips bail, leaving it up to Ree to take care of her mother and two little brothers while trying to track him down before they lose the farm. The Dolly clan lives up to a code, if you cross the line, you pay the consequences. Ree finds herself caught in the middle of family loyalty and doing the right thing for herself and her future.

This book is bleak, but riveting. Ree is a fighter, and she does whatever it takes to help her family survive. Every scene made me feel cold and grateful not to live in poverty in meth country around psychotic kin. A really great read.

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Friday, November 28, 2014

Find a Stranger, Say Goodbye

Find a Stranger, Say GoodbyeFind a Stranger, Say Goodbye by Lois Lowry

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Lois Lowry, I love you.

Some of my favorite books growing up were written by Lois Lowry. "Anastasia Krupnik," "A Summer to Die" (sob!), The One Hundredth Thing about Caroline." As an adult, it has been nice to re-read some of the ones I loved before and explore newer books as well, like "The Giver." She's really amazing. Ms. Lowry, if you are reading this, I want to meet you and tell you how much "A Summer to Die" impacted me growing up!

"Find a Stranger, Say Goodbye" is a book about young woman searching for her birth parents during the summer between high school and college. Commencement is a time of beginnings, and Natalie feels she needs to discover this unknown piece of her past before starting college and her adult life.
It's classic, tug at the heartstrings Lowry. Natalie ends up learning more about herself during the journey and grows up a bit along the way.

Poignant and touching, Lowry tells a story that will stick with anyone who was adopted, loves their family, or has felt like they don't fit in. So pretty much anyone. She's that talented.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Furies of Calderon (Codex Alera #1)

Furies of Calderon (Codex Alera, #1)Furies of Calderon by Jim Butcher

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I can't believe I have never reviewed this book, as it is my favorite series of all time and I recommend it to people constantly. Jim Butcher is an absolute master at world building. Jim, if you are reading this, please know how many hours of enjoyment your books have brought me. You are awesome.

Furies of Calderon is set in the world of Alera, where, as people mature, develop a bond with at least one of the elemental furies of earth, air, fire, water, wood, and metal and use those talents throughout their lives. We journey with Tavi, who is fifteen and is considered a freak because he hasn't developed any furies. It's a story about how he overcomes this obstacle and learns to live on his wits without furies. But it is also a story about politics, war, and loyalties. Good vs. evil, treachery and deception, all in an epic fantasy setting.

In book 1, Tavi stumbles upon the sneak invasion of the Marat, a savage enemy whose last battles in Alera ended with the death of the Princeps. As chaos breaks out over the Calderon Valley, he has to find a way to survive on his own. Meanwhile, the First Lord is surrounded by betrayal and loyalties to the Realm are called into question, reaching from the far steadholts of Garrison to Alera Imperia.

If you love sword fighting, magical creatures, political intrigue, strong family bonds and a little bit of romance, check out the Codex Alera series. It's fantasy at its best.

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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Death Without Company (Walt Longmire #2)

Death Without Company (Walt Longmire, #2)Death Without Company by Craig Johnson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Sheriff Longmire, I think I have a literary crush on you and Henry Standing Bear.

In book 2, Walt finds himself investigating a death at the Durant Assisted Living facility where former sheriff and current part-time dispatcher Lucian Connelly lives. Lucian knows something's not right about Mari Baroja's death, and calls Walt in to look into it for him. The investigation spans back 50 years, uncovering skeletons in a lot of closets in Absaroka County, Wyoming and giving us more insight into Lucian's past. We also get introduced to new deputy Santiago Saizarbitoria, who I hope is sticking around for the long haul. He adds a much needed balance to Vic Moretti and will be good for Walt, too. We also get to meet Walt's daughter, Cady, and other new characters are introduced to Durant as well. And there is snow. Lots of snow. Way too much snow for me.

Overall, a fun mystery series that makes me glad I don't live in the blizzard climate of Wyoming. Looking forward to starting book 3 soon.

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Friday, November 21, 2014

L is for Lawless (Kinsey Millhone #12)

L is for Lawless (Kinsey Millhone, #12)L is for Lawless by Sue Grafton

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Oh Kinsey. You are a glutton for punishment. You let your love of dear sweet Henry Pitts drag you into a pro bono case with no upside at all for you. And you continue to allow your family issues to cloud your judgment.

This time around, Kinsey is pressed into service by Henry to help one of their neighbors, and both of them have no idea what she is actually walking into. Kinsey, impulsive to the last, ends up hopping a plane to Texas where she goes undercover (naturally) and stumbles into a series of life-threatening situations. And she gets home in time to play bridesmaid for Rosie and William.

It's fun to take a walk back to the 80s with Kinsey. This time, I found myself chuckling at the lack of airport security. She basically walks into the airport with no luggage, no tickets, and stalks someone right onto the plane without arousing any suspicion. That would never happen in this day and age. But the plane ticket was roughly what one would pay now, so the more things change, the more they stay the same. And I still maintain that Kinsey would be the world's best PI with today's technology. Give that girl a smart phone and she could solve any crime, any time. Another good installment in the alphabet series. Enjoy!

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentlemen Bastard #1)

The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastard, #1)The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Imagine a group of con men--disguises, fake identities, the works--with a particular set of skills honed over years of discipline, training and research. Now imagine them in a medieval setting. Sound good so far? Part Ocean's 11, part Oliver Twist, Locke Lamora and his band of merry men run complex cons in a fantasy land.

The writing is clever and the worldbuilding is strong. You journey with the gang in both past and present tense, learning about how they came together and the capers they are pulling now. You will get attached to the characters and want them to win. They are likable, to be sure, and who doesn't love an underdog? But the best laid plans don't always work out, and they run into obstacles along the way. You will find yourself pulling for Locke and cursing his enemies. And when you get to the end, you will want to continue your journey. Good news! You can in the next book, Red Seas Under Red Skies. Perfect for fantasy fans who are looking for their next smart, plot-driven world.

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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Love in the Time of Cholera

Love in the Time of CholeraLove in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

One of biggest pet peeves is selfish people. This book is filled with them.

Florentino Ariza falls madly in love with Fermina Daza when they are both young. Her father intervenes, and Fermina marries a wealthy doctor--a practical decision, but she comes to love Juvenal Urbino over the years and they have a solid marriage for the majority of their time together. As marriages go, it is filled with the ups and downs expected in a long-term relationship: loss, grief, betrayal, love, happiness, change, contentment. Through their fifty years of marriage, Florentino Ariza is biding his time through hundreds of love affairs, waiting patiently for Fermina's husband to die so they can be together once again. Yes, you read that correctly. He spends his entire life marking time for the girl he briefly loved in his youth. He is unlikeable and selfish. Terrible consequences happen to others as a result of his affairs, and he seems either not to notice, or not to mind. Either way, I hate him. He wasn't someone I was pulling for or wanted to see triumph in the end.

The saving grace of this book is the absolutely gorgeous writing style. Even though I hated the characters, I loved the writing and could picture the setting. It's a gorgeous book, to be sure, I just didn't feel the romance others rave about.

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Sunday, November 9, 2014

Missing: A Memoir

Missing: A MemoirMissing: A Memoir by Lindsay Harrison

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Since this is a memoir, I will try to be honest in my judgments, yet spare the snark for the most part. After all, it's about a real-life family living through a real-life drama; one to which thankfully I can't relate.

Missing is one young woman's story about the 40 days her mom was missing, and the aftermath of finding her body. But it is more than that. It's the story of one dysfunctional family, a messed-up mother / daughter relationship, and of growing up and recovering from an unspeakable tragedy.

Lindsay Harrison is immature, but honest. She doesn't try to make herself out to be the hero, or the one holding the family together. She lays it out there, flaws and all, and it makes her unlikeable. There were times when her bad decisions, immaturity, and rudeness made me want to shake some sense into her. I can't imagine what the family went through during this time. Unfortunately we only get Lindsay's thoughts, and reading about the perspective of her brothers and her father would have made the story more complete. Instead we are stuck inside the head of a pot smoking 20-year-old who seems to need counseling from the years of living with her manipulative, selfish, potentially mentally ill mother. Her POV just didn't do it for me.

This book is just ok. Not great. Not particularly captivating. Something was missing from making it "un-put-downable" for me, but it was still finishing from my "to be read" shelf. Two 1/2 stars.

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Saturday, November 8, 2014

The Cold Dish (Walt Longmire #1)

The Cold Dish (Walt Longmire, #1)The Cold Dish by Craig Johnson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I might have found a new favorite mystery series! So glad I read this.

Close your eyes and picture with me, if you will. Small town in Wyoming. Trucks. Pancake breakfasts. Rifles and shotguns. Mountains. Snow. Log cabins. Politics. And a lot of interesting characters. Welcome to Absaroka County, Wyoming.

Walt Longmire is the sheriff of Absaroka County, and he's been sheriff for 24 years. The book kicks off with Longmire investigating the death of Cody Pritchard, who was found dead in an apparent hunting accident. Pritchard was convicted a few years back in the gang rape of a local Cheyenne girl who, born with fetal alcohol syndrome, had diminished capacity. Many in the community felt the sentence was too light and justice wasn't served. Walt's investigation leads him throughout the local communities and the Cheyenne reservation, uncovering skeletons and a lot of old wounds for everyone.

Craig Johnson does a great job of painting colorful characters and realistic relationships. The friendship between Walt and Henry Standing Bear was one of my favorite parts of the book. He has a unique team assisting him at the sheriff's department, from sassy Ruby, his dispatcher / den mother, to Vic Moretti, his foul-mouthed deputy and hand-picked replacement when he retires. But beyond the characters, who I dearly love, Johnson crafted a good mystery with lots of twists and turns. I had no idea how it would end, but when he got us there I could see how the clues fit together.

If you are looking for a good mystery series with great characters, give this one a try. I can't wait to start the second book.

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Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice  Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Some of you adore this book. Some of you recommend it as your "favorite book of all time!" Some of you may want to stop reading now.

On the surface, there is nothing objectionable about Pride and Prejudice. It's a classic; one that makes most school reading lists. I didn't necessarily love Austen's writing style. The characters aren't particularly well-drawn and I didn't get emotionally attached to anyone. The plot is slow with not a lot of consequence happening over the course of the book. Neither main character is particularly likable. I do not understand the love people have of Elizabeth or Darcy. In my opinion, they are welcome to each other.

I went in expecting a love story, and I came away with a book about rich people's problems and bad manners. I found myself slogging through to finish it. I can only assume the million movies are better than the book, because I feel like I'm the only one who doesn't get the punchline to a joke and I'm looking around the room confused about what I missed. Only read it if you feel you must cross it off your life list and discuss with others.

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Sunday, November 2, 2014


NeverwhereNeverwhere by Neil Gaiman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ah, where to start? I'm of two minds about this book. As I progressed through it, I thought, "Yes, I get it. This book is good. I'm enjoying the fantasy world of London Below. Three solid stars." But now, I find myself thinking about the book at odd moments, and I think I will have to upgrade my rating to 4 stars. It's sticking with me. The world building in Neverwhere is top notch.

Average Joe Richard Mayhew, through an act of kindness to a young lady in peril, ends up in London Below, a magical, scary place where the "other" people of London--some different, some with powers, some on the outskirts of regular society--live their lives unknown and unseen by those in London Above. Richard finds himself on a quest of sorts as he trudges the road back to his old life. You may find Richard annoying and weak, like I did. He kept me from rating this book 5 stars, to be sure. But as you explore more of the story, you may find yourself pulled into the various characters who inhabit London Below. You may find yourself attached to them by the end, flaws and all.

Did I mention how much I loved the characters of London Below? My personal favorite was the Marquis de Carabas. He was multi-faceted, complicated, and clever. I. Loved. Him. While I was lukewarm on the Lady Door at the beginning, I found myself fascinated by her background and cheering her on by the end. And Hunter? Suffice to say, she surprised me and I understood her journey more than I expected.

Enjoy the world of the floating markets. Enjoy the rat people. Enjoy Croup and Vandemar, the duo you love to hate. Absorb yourself in this amazing world, and simply enjoy.

*Disclaimer: I listened to the "Author's Preferred Text" edition on audio, read by Neil Gaiman himself. I have no idea what was added or subtracted to this edition, but I am glad I listened to him read his own words in his own voice. It added something to it for me.

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Thursday, October 30, 2014

K is for Killer (Kinsey Millhone #11)

K is for Killer (Kinsey Millhone, #11)K is for Killer by Sue Grafton

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

As we kick off letter K, Kinsey finds herself investigating a ten month old potential murder at the request of the victim's mother. Lorna Kepler's badly decomposing body was found in her cabin, leaving the police unable to determine cause of death. Accident? Natural causes? Asthma attack? Or was it murder? Janice Kepler wants answers about her daughter's death, and hires Kinsey to see what she can find out.

Along the way, Kinsey takes a fascinating trip into seedy underbelly of the porn industry, and meets some amusing characters from Lorna's past. We are also introduced to Cheney Phillips, who investigated Lorna's case and is now with vice, and it looks like he might become a regular in the books. Thrown off with timeline assumptions and false clues, we are led along a bit in the dark like Kinsey, but once you get the final piece of the puzzle everything drops into place with a satisfying "clunk".

Kinsey's emotions get the best of her by the end, and she makes a rash decision that has lasting impact. Should she feel guilty? I would not if I were her. You reap what you sow, as they say. I thought it was a satisfying ending to a twisted mystery.

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Friday, October 17, 2014

Fahrenheit 451

Fahrenheit 451Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Imagine a world where books are outlawed. The government dictates what you know. You receive information through television and radio. Technology is everywhere, and free thinking is suppressed. Fireman no longer put out fires, instead they start them, sent out on calls to burn the homes of people who have books.

Guy Montag is a fireman. He burns books for a living. His wife, Millie, lives in a world of television and sleeping pills, and can't (or won't) break away from her technology to really connect with the world, to think, to question. Guy slowly wonders what might be in all of these books being burned. The spark of knowledge takes hold. Montag's internal revolution begins, and opens his eyes to an entirely different world.

Often thought to be a book about the dangers of government censorship, Bradbury says it is instead about how he felt television was destroying literature. I can see why Bradbury feared this, and I think it's important that we always balance our advancements in technology with open thought and discourse. Don't be afraid to speak your mind and argue. Don't be afraid to be wrong. Don't be afraid to learn.

This book an important reminder of how damaging censorship can be, and how important it is to challenge the status quo. Encourage people to read. Read things you don't like. Read things that make you think. Expand your horizons. Then put down your book, and talk about it with someone. Argue, or agree, but share your thoughts. Diversity of thought is vital to maintaining a strong society of advancement and innovation.

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Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Kite Runner

The Kite RunnerThe Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

You know how some books are emotionally draining to read, yet you end up glad you read them? That's this book for me.

Frequently on banned and challenged book lists, the Kite Runner is filled with violence, sexual situations, and extremely unlikeable characters. It's not a happy book. It's the story of an flawed, privileged boy growing up in pre-war Afghanistan who searches for forgiveness and redemption for the mistakes made in his youth. Some scenes were extremely difficult to read. Some scenes made me sad for the characters. Some scenes left me indigent to the violence in the world--the stadium scene specifically. It's a story about how secrets can shape our lives, and it's a story about relationships.

If you can't take dangerous, violent situations involving children, give this one a pass. You will not be uplifted by the end, but I think it's worth reading. Just be sure to have something funny and sweet ready to read immediately after you are done to restore your faith in humanity. Maybe a good Dave Barry book, or The Princess Bride.

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Saturday, October 11, 2014

Around the World in 80 Days

Around the World in Eighty Days Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I first read this book when I was growing up, and it was part of what sparked a life-long wanderlust in me. Imagine dashing around the world, speeding through countries on all modes of transport: trains, boats, elephants, and even a sled. Meeting people from different cultures, seeing others' traditions, and all the while taking on daring feats of heroism. That's what this book is for me. I listened to it on audiobook this time around, and Jim Dale is the very best choice for any English setting. If you didn't fall in love with his narration from the Harry Potter books, you are missing out. He adds an extra layer of special to this book.

In case you haven't read it, eccentric English millionaire Phileas Fogg takes a bet with his fellow chaps at London's Reform Club that he (or really anyone with the time and means) can travel around the world in 80 days.
Oh, you silly Reform Club members with nothing better to do than play Whist and make exorbitant bets with each other. Your life must be very different from mine. Fogg wagers 20,000 pounds that he will return by 8:45pm on Saturday, December 21, 1872. Fogg runs home, grabs his newly hired manservant Passeportout, and rushes off on his quest. Unbeknownst to them, a bank robber matching Fogg's description has robbed the Bank of England, and Detective Fix thinks he has his man in Fogg. He follows them on the trip around the world, deceiving both Passeportout and Fogg and causing delays along the way while he awaits his arrest warrant on British soil.

While racing across India, Passeportout and Fogg save a widowed princess names Mrs. Aouda from a ritual sacrifice and she joins them on the rest of their journey. Spoiler alert! They fall in love as they travel, and are married by the end. This part is the best, and part of my deep, abiding love for this book. Yes, I'm a sap. Obstacles abound, and both manmade and natural delays happen to take them off of their timetable. You will be on the edge of your seat as the party moves across the globe on a race against the clock. It's so good! I especially love the final chapter--such a satisfying ending.

Two things to keep in mind: This book was first published in 1873, and a lot has changed in nearly 150 years. Verne's portrayal of other cultures was quite normal for the time period. As with any classic literature, you need to set aside how society functions now while reading. It's an interesting glimpse into how things have changed, and a great reminder that travel is one of the best ways to expand your mind and thinking. The more you are exposed to people and new cultures, the more you realize how very similar we are at our cores, and learn to celebrate our differences. Travel, explore, learn. Expand your horizons and your perspective. Also, never, ever watch this movie. It is terrible, and a travesty to one of my favorite books.

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Friday, October 10, 2014

The Haunting of Hill House

The Haunting of Hill House The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This might not be a book to read late at night if you have an active imagination.

Have you ever been in an old house and felt some strange energy? The feeling of eyes on you while your back is turned? Of unexplained sounds, shadows, or smells? Older houses can have a sense of presence that isn't found in newer homes, whether it be from the residual energy of the lives lived in it over the years, or a collection of old items filled with memories. Welcome to Hill House, perfectly drawn with a turret, doors and windows that shut on their own, mazes of rooms, and an oppressive presence around every corner.

A classic story of psychological terror, the Haunting of Hill House tells the tale of an old mansion which holds many secrets. Supernatural researcher Dr. Montague rents Hill House in an attempt to prove, or disprove, the claims of a haunting. He invites a collection of people who have been rumored to have past experience with the supernatural, but only 2 join him: Eleanor Vance, a shy woman who has spent her life caring for her invalid mother until she passed away, and Theodora, a free-spirited, bohemian artist. They are all joined by Luke Sanderson, the heir to Hill House and who must be present as part of the terms of the lease.

Soon after arriving, Eleanor and company begin having unexplainable experiences. Whether or not all of these events are supernatural is left up to the reader to decide, but the circumstances seem to be centered around Eleanor, and the book is very much about her and her journey. Gothically dark and spooky, Jackson takes us on a ride full of twists and turns, and it all culminates is an ending that leaves you wondering, but is still strangely satisfying.

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Monday, October 6, 2014

The Queen of Attolia (The Queen's Thief #2)

The Queen of Attolia (The Queen's Thief, #2)The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was told by many people that book 2 in the series is stronger than book 1. I'm not sure I agree, but I can see how it would hold a different appeal. The Queen of Attolia is a different type of book than The Thief--more "politics of the kingdoms" instead of a traveling adventure heist. The political maneuverings were interesting and the 3rd-person perspective gave things a more well-rounded feel, but still something was missing for me.

I can't quite put my finger on why I don't love these books. While I enjoy the storyline and the characters, there is something that doesn't connect with me about the writing style. The pacing is slow and steady, even when it should be exciting like an escape or a battle. And both books lacked in details so I kept feeling like I had missed something along the way. I still like the series and I will continue reading, but it could easily fall into 4 star territory and it's missing the mark so far, and almost verging into 2 stars instead.

I did enjoy Eugenides more than I did in The Thief. I felt we got more insights into him this time around and I thought she did a good job with the portrayal of his PTSD. Oddly, this made him a more likable character to me. Rather than immediately move past things after the action in the beginning, we get insights into how Eugenides is coping, or not coping with his return to Eddis. It helped me to better understand him. But I still felt a lack of insight into Attolia. I understood more about Eddis than I did about her. I needed more information to truly accept the ending from both Eugenides and Attolia's perspective. It felt a bit like, "Surprise! Here's all of the things you didn't know. The End. Read book 3 to find out what you missed in book 2!"

I know it sounds like I hate the series, but I really don't. I like it, and the books are well-written, but something is lacking. Maybe I will feel differently about book 3.

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Friday, October 3, 2014

Eleanor and Park

Eleanor and ParkEleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I adored this book. I picked it up at the library based on just the title, having heard it recommended as a fantastic read by someone on Reddit. I'm glad I didn't read any reviews or the synopsis before getting it, as it was a bit like unwrapping a present.

Eleanor is a misfit from a poor, dysfunctional family. Her stepfather is deplorable, and her mother is broken and weak. Park is the token Asian kid in this neighborhood of Omaha (half-Korean), and straddles between his popular friends and being himself. Thrown together on the bus, an odd friendship evolves into romance. Rowell did a great job of capturing first love and the awkwardness of high school / finding your place in the world. The dichotomy of Park's family (they were pretty fantastic, lucky boy) and Eleanor's awful home life (not only poor, but abusive and scary) was perfectly drawn for me. My heart ached for Eleanor, and for Park as he was introduced to a world that he never imagined from the safety of his home.

The ending wasn't what I expected, but still satisfying. To be honest, I'm a little emotionally wrecked by the last few chapters, and need a moment to collect myself. Definitely recommended--4 stars.

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Shades of Earth (Across the Universe #3)

Shades of Earth (Across the Universe, #3)Shades of Earth by Beth Revis

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A mostly satisfying conclusion to the Across the Universe series. The ending was cheesy, but I liked it. Don't judge me for liking a happy ending the best.

Amy, Elder, and half of the population have left Godspeed to form a new colony on Centauri-Earth. The new planet is dangerous and isn't the world Amy hoped it would be, even with her parents unthawed along with the rest of the team from Earth. And quickly find they aren't alone and must pull together, shipbornes and earthbornes, to survive.

The dynamics of the series change with the new setting. We get far less of Elder and more about Amy, her relationship with her parents, and her survival on the planet. Even Elder's thoughts were mostly about her. I felt book 2 was more of a focus on Elder, and this book evens things out by having more of a focus on Amy. The one thing I would have liked was a epilogue set in the future to let us know how the colony survived, because I like to tie a bow on things.

I'm glad I checked out this series from the library without knowing anything about it. It is a good addition to the ever-growing young adult dystopian fiction world with the added bonus of being set in space. 3 stars.

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Monday, September 29, 2014

The Giver (The Giver #1)

The Giver (The Giver, #1)The Giver by Lois Lowry

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I simply loved this book. I picked it up to read in honor of Banned Books Week, and I'm glad I did.

Jonas lives in a quasi-Utopian society where everything is strictly laid out for them. From birth to death, the people follow the rules, or are "released". When the children turn twelve, they are placed in their job, and Jonas is selected to be the next Receiver of Memories, a rare and honored position in the society. As the Receiver, he uncovers things that he didn't know, and did not want to know, about his life and the lives of those around him. He and the former Receiver (now the Giver) are left with their singular knowledge of life and are faced with the hard choices that come with the knowledge of both good and evil.

Definitely not an uplifting book, but one that will stay with you afterwards.

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Sunday, September 28, 2014

Silence (Silence #1)

Silence (Silence, #1)Silence by Natasha Preston

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

When I was in 7th grade, my best friend and I wrote a book together. It was written much like this one. Teen angst, cringe-worthy dialogue, and a weak plot. And I could forgive all of these things from a budding author, but what I can't forgive is the lack of editing. Riddled with typos, poor punctuation, and grammatical errors, this book was nearly unreadable. Quite frankly, I am shocked that the overall star rating is 3.86. When an author confuses "you're" and "your", it makes it nearly impossible to take anything else seriously.

Silence had the potential to be riveting. It's a sensitive topic and the author builds it up around the mystery of why Oakley hasn't spoken since she was five years old. But instead of drawing you into a dramatic storyline, we have 150 pages of, "Does my best friend Cole like me?" "Oh, I hope he likes me!" "Does she like me back?" I felt like I was reading a note passed in fifth grade English. "Do you like me? Check yes or no" and the girl makes a new box that says "maybe". Come on. Nothing struck me as realistic, from the dialogue to the characters. Also, I found her brother Jasper to be one of the most unlikeable, annoying characters ever written. A disappointment overall, and not recommended.

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Saturday, September 27, 2014

Banned Books Week 2014

"Freedom is hammered out on the anvil of discussion, dissent, and debate."

Hubert H. Humphrey

FREEDOM!  Freedom of thought.  Freedom to choose.  Freedom to learn about anything and everything.

As Banned Books Week draws to a close, I find myself reflecting on the dangers of censorship.  Books are my refuge, my delight, my passion.  I am curious about everything in the world, and want to read it all--no topic is off limits.  

Much like the society in The Giver, censorship can stifle learning, ideas, and progress.  We must allow people access to knowledge we deem both good and bad to help them make their own decisions and choices.  Diversity of thought is one of the things that makes life so interesting.  

Join me in my challenge to read one banned book per month.  Pick up something outside of your comfort zone.  Gain a perspective different than your own.  And share your thoughts and ideas afterwards.  Debate.  Explore.  Challenge.  Come away different than what you were before.

Will you take the challenge?

What is Banned Books Week?  The site says it best:
"Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community –- librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types –- in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.
Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. More than 11,300 books have been challenged since 1982 according to the American Library Association. There were 307 challenges reported to the Office of Intellectual Freedom in 2013, and many more go unreported."

To read more about Banned Books Week, visit BannedBooksWeek.org

Thursday, September 25, 2014


MockingbirdMockingbird by Kathryn Erskine

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I loved this little book! What an unexpected surprise.

Mockingbird is told in the voice of Caitlin, a young girl with Aspergers, moving on with life after her brother is killed in a middle school shooting. She is working to understand her father's feelings, being accepted at school, and living life without her older brother. I enjoyed seeing the world through her eyes, and often found myself completely understanding her point of view. Like the book says, we all fall somewhere on the autistic spectrum. I may be a little closer to Caitlin than other people, and that's ok.

If you like getting inside a character's head who might cause you to view the world a little differently, it's definitely worth the read. So good!

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Monday, September 22, 2014

The Silkworm (Cormoran Strike #2)

The Silkworm (Cormoran Strike, #2)The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I am really enjoying this series. I love both Cormoran and Robin, and can't wait to read about their next big case.

I enjoyed The Silkworm a bit more than The Cuckoo's Calling. I feel the characters were better developed, and the mystery had great twists and turns. In fact, I thought I knew "whodunit" for 3/4 of the book and was surprised by the ending, and the clues I had missed along the way.

I really enjoy Cormoran, and my only complaint is I don't get insights into what he is necessarily feeling. Some of the sections were leaving us in the dark by design (Robin's mysterious errand, for example) but I do want to know a bit about his motivations.

Also, I am dearly hoping we have heard the last of his terrible ex-fiance. She is absolutely the world's worst. Please put that to bed and leave her in the past. More of Al, though. Let's dig into the family stuff a bit to give us more insights into Strike.

Looking forward to reading book #3. This may become one of my favorite private detective series.

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Friday, September 19, 2014

A Million Suns (Across the Universe #2)

A Million Suns (Across the Universe, #2)A Million Suns by Beth Revis

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

We pick up where we left off at the end of Across the Universe. Elder is now running things on Godspeed, and Amy is struggling to accept her life onboard now that she has been unfrozen a few months. Elder and Amy stumble upon a big, big secret, and it changes the lives of everyone aboard. Decisions must be made, but at what cost?

Part sci-fi, part teen angst, part political exploration, book 2 is action-packed. The people on board now have free will, and many struggle with it after a lifetime of control. Rebellions, deceptions, and deaths are happening throughout. And you are left at the end waiting to see how it all will conclude in the final book.

I am definitely enjoying the storyline in this series, but I don't feel emotionally connected to any of the characters. I want to better understand the motivations and feelings in both Amy and Elder. The chapters are from their first-person POV, and we could go so much deeper. We could have better insights into the inner struggles of both main characters, but we don't. Still, it's an entertaining story, just lacking in character depth, keeping it in solid 3-star territory.

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Thursday, September 18, 2014

My Story

My StoryMy Story by Elizabeth Smart

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have let this books sit in my mind for a couple of days before writing my review. As the mother of a 14-year-old daughter, I can't imagine the pain and suffering Elizabeth Smart and her family went through during her nine month ordeal. I want to approach my review with sensitivity and the knowledge that I can never truly understand what she was thinking or feeling during her kidnapping and captivity. But, as always, I need to be honest with my opinions as well. Please understand this while you read my thoughts.

I chose to listen to this book on audio rather than read it because Elizabeth Smart narrates it herself. I wanted to hear her words in her own voice, and I'm glad I did. It was a constant reminder of how young she was when she was taken, and how young she still is now. The teenaged inflections, the utter disdain that comes through, really made her thoughts come to life.

But while she was very detailed about the beginning weeks of her captivity, she time-jumped quite a bit towards the end. They spent six months in California but she told fewer stories about that time. I don't know if it was from monotony or if she has forgotten or did not want to share specifics, but it left me with some lingering questions. And that's ok; it's her private life.

A few things I am left with: 1) it bothered me that she kept referring to herself as a little girl. She was adamant about this, and referred to herself as "just a little girl" numerous times. As the mother of a 14-year-old girl, and having once been a 14-year-old myself, I found this odd. I understand that people are different, and perhaps it was because she was somewhat sheltered, but I don't know any young lady around that age who refers to themselves as a little girl. That is the age they are entering high school and are striving to grow up. I feel it is more likely that she now looks back on it and realizes she was way too young to experience such depravity, and is applying it to how she might have felt at the time.
2) she was very adamant that she did not bond with her captors or attempt to get along with them. This seems unlikely as well. She made it a point to tell us this so many times that I felt it was like she was testifying at a parole hearing to keep them behind bars. Elizabeth, absolutely no one would blame you if you did whatever it took to stay alive. If you were pleasant to them or tried not to make waves, we completely understand. This is at complete odds with the fact that you had numerous opportunities to either escape or alert someone, including police questioning you, of your identity. I am not saying you wanted to be with them, not at all. But you were in public places many times in both California and Utah with questioning eyes on you, and I would think that you would have wanted to get to safety at any cost. That's all. Again, I'm not judging, just speculating what I would do in that situation.
3) her faith is amazing. I can't imagine holding onto faith in a god who would allow me to be kidnapped, raped, and emotionally terrorized for nine months. My brain can't wrap around it. It is nice that she still has her faith, because I'm sure other people would be bitter after what she has been through. She claims to have seen no counselors, received no therapy, and has grown up to be a successful young woman, so good for her.

Overall, an interesting story, and I would definitely recommend the audio version so you can hear it in her own voice.

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Monday, September 15, 2014

White Night (The Dresden Files #9)

White Night (The Dresden Files, #9)White Night by Jim Butcher

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Still loving my Dresden Files journey. Book 9 doesn't disappoint. Harry is still deeply flawed with a heart of gold, solving crimes and keeping the streets of Chicago safe from the supernatural.

It begins with Harry reluctantly continuing to be a warden, and also tutoring Molly so she doesn't turn to the dark side. Murphy has been busted down to Sergeant, and she brings Harry in covertly on a murder masquerading as suicide. Harry catches the clues, naturally, and it's off to catch another supernatural killer. Yes, the White Court is still up to their shenanigans, and Laura Raith is still running the show. It ends in a fantastic battle that will not disappoint.

Things I loved: Gentleman Johnny Marcone. I like him now that we see more of his layers. He's complex, conflicted, and the enemy Harry knows. Rameriz as Harry's warden partner (love him even more now that Laura outed his secret). Thomas as a White Court knight in shining armor (literally). Murphy because she kicks ass, always. Mouse. He's simply the best part of Harry's life. The conclusion with Lasciel was more satisfying than I would have imagined.

Things I didn't love: Not enough Bob. Elaine. She's bad news for Harry, and I don't want her around. No Michael Carpenter--every book should have Michael.

Butcher has set things up for an interesting showdown between the White Council and the Black Council, but I'm ready for the war with the various vampires to be over. Looking forward to the next book in the series.

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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer

Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's KillerManhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer by James L. Swanson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Manhunt follows the events surrounding the days before Lincoln's assassination and the 12-day search that followed for John Wilkes Booth and his co-conspirators. It is a fascinating true story of how the plot was hatched, how each piece fell into place (and the ones that didn't) on that tragic night in April 1865, and how Booth ultimately evaded capture until his luck ran out.

As I was reading, I kept reflecting on how much our world has changed with technology. Part of Booth's luck in escaping Washington was due to people not hearing about the assassination yet. Now we hear almost instantly when something happens, good or bad. I don't think Booth or any of his cronies would have made it 1 hour if they attempted their scheme today. I also thought about how, due to events like this, our presidents would not be able to freely ride about town with their spouse in an open carriage. Thanks a lot, John Wilkes Booth. Jerk. Crazy zealots like you ruining it for everyone.

Great book! I enjoyed it more than "Killing Lincoln". A definite recommendation for history buffs.

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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Into the Still Blue (Under the Never Sky #3)

Into the Still Blue (Under the Never Sky, #3)Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I'm a little disappointed in the final installment of the trilogy. I had a hard time staying focused on what was happening. Sable was a terrible character--predictable and a bit ridiculous. I liked that everything wasn't a happy ending, though, the bad guys were overcome by the end, as you would expect.

We join the Tides as they are looking for a way through the Still Blue to what they hope is safety from the Aether storms. After several run ins and nonsense plot twists with Sable and Hess, we finally get on our journey. By the end of the book, everyone loses someone dear to them and while they ultimately reach their goal, they are each left a little broken for it.

Still an ok series, but I guess I wanted more. 2 1/2 stars.

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Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Two Mrs. Abbotts (Miss Buncle #3)

The Two Mrs. Abbotts (Miss Buncle #3)The Two Mrs. Abbotts by D.E. Stevenson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

We return to the world of Barbara Buncle, now the happily married Mrs. Abbott #1, and Jerry, who married a cousin to Barbara's husband (Mrs. Abbott #2). World War II is going on, Jerry's husband Sam is off fighting, and Barbara and Jerry are up to their usual adventures. Really more about Jerry than Barbara this time around, we get a glimpse of everyday life at home during the war. We finally see more about Archie Chevis-Cobb, Jerry's brother, as he keeps the farm going to support the boys on the front.

I really like these cute books, and I'm sad that I have reached the end. I understand Barbara and Jerry are a brief part of The Four Graces, and I will be hunting down that one next. Fun little series, and worth the read.

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Book of Life (All Souls Trilogy #3)

The Book of Life (All Souls Trilogy, #3)The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow, a lot happens in the final book of the trilogy. So many characters, and so many story lines that I feel like I need another read-through to keep it all straight. Matthew and Diana have returned to the present, and are assembling a gang of supporters to help find the missing pages of Ashmole 782, revoke the covenant, and allow all creatures to live in harmony and co-mingle as they would like.

Along the way, there is some sketchy science and little to no secret keeping. What happened to the trepidation and reluctance everyone had in book 1? Everyone just runs around pell-mell in this book, telling roomfuls of humans their secrets. And everyone, and I mean everyone, takes it in stride. Like the government wouldn't have both Matthew and Diana locked in a laboratory somewhere once they started blabbing their secrets all over New England. ESPECIALLY since she is pregnant. With twins.

And speaking of pregnancy, did I miss a wrap up with Sophie and Nathaniel Wilson and their witch / demon baby? So much was happening, it's possible I have forgotten.

Matthew is far less controlling in this book, and Diana is less of a Mary Sue. I like how they evolved over time, and I wanted to punch them far less this time around. Plus, I love how Harkenss wove history into an interesting storyline. Definitely made the history nerd in me a happy gal.

Anyway, I liked the conclusion, and I'm a little sad the series is over. For Gallowglass alone I would keep reading.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Island of the Blue Dolphins

Island of the Blue Dolphins (Island of the Blue Dolphins #1)Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

*Part of the "Reviewing Children's Classics Series".

This "based on a true story" children's novel tells the story of Karana, a young girl left stranded on her island home when her tribe is taken by missionaries to Santa Barbara. It is based on the true story of Juana Maria, a Native American left alone on San Nicolas Island from 1835-1853.

Similar to the survival stories found in Hatchet and Sarah Bishop, we get a glimpse into the fictionalized life of Karana and how she survived on her own. Her adventure begins at the age of 12, and she learns to defend her home from wild animals, hide from the Aleuts who come to hunt otters, hunt for food, and survive without being taught many skills.

The real star of the show is Rontu. In the interest of not spoiling anyone who hasn't read it, I'll just say that I fell in love with him, and tears were shed in his honor. Rontu, I love you and your yellow eyes. If I were stranded on an island alone (and at times that sounds like a slice of heaven, to be honest), I would want Rontu with me.

I love that it is based on a true story, and I love reading about the minutia of her daily life. Great classic, and one that is often required reading in schools. If you haven't read it and like survival novels for kids, you should enjoy.

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My Brother Sam Is Dead

My Brother Sam Is DeadMy Brother Sam Is Dead by James Lincoln Collier
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

*Part of my "Reviewing Children's Classics" series.

I don't remember reading this one growing up, which is strange because of my love of books and all things history. I now see I didn't miss much, although my perspective might have been different if I had read it when I was 11 instead.

Tim is growing up during the turbulent times prior to and during the American Revolution. He adores his obnoxious big brother, Sam, who is attending Yale and appears to be the smuggest, least likable person in the world. If I had to hear the phrase, "scored a telling point" one more time, I might have thrown the book away. Seriously, dude, you are the world's worst. Anyway, Tim has some serious hero worship going on for his big brother, who decides to drop out of Yale, steal his father's rifle (really, Sam? You are a bad person) and join the revolutionaries. Sam's parents are opposed to this, naturally, as no parent wants their 16-year-old son to join the military during war time. Sam does what he wants, and ultimately we get to the title of the book.

Between Sam running off to enlist and the ending where he dies, a lot of sad, depressing things happen. It's Revolutionary times. Besides the war, you have cholera outbreaks, hunger, and decapitations. Plus you have to endure Sam's girlfriend Betsy Read, who is tied with Sam for "most unlikeable character is a children's book". For a young woman who should have been behaving like an adult, she acted like an obnoxious child.

I'm sure there are better historical fiction books out there about the American Revolution. The only thing that saved this from one-star territory was the authors' notes at the end. I liked how they explained who and what were historically accurate and where they embellished or created things for the book. For the additional interesting information, I added one star. My recommendation? You can skip this one.

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Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Thief (The Queen's Thief #1)

The Thief (The Queen's Thief, #1)The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I bought this book based on nothing but a recommendation from a member of a book group I am in. She said, "Hands down, this is my favorite series. Ever." Well, with that kind of recommendation, how could I not? I got about 3/4 of the way through it before I understood why she was raving. It's good. But the beginning is slow, the main characters are, quite frankly, unlikeable, and the plot isn't clear. It's the ending that you need to hang in for. Once I got there, I knew I would be reading book 2. And from what I hear, book 2 is better than book 1.

In the interest of not spoiling too much of the story, I will keep my description brief. Gen is released from prison by the Magus to retrieve an ancient treasure. Gen is a skilled thief, and joins the Magus and his band of merry men on the quest, and with rotting in prison as the alternative, why not? Gen turns out to be as skilled a thief as his reputation states, and begins to earn a small bit of respect from the Magus by the end. Obstacles and treachery are at every turn, and it's a pretty good read if you enjoy YA fantasy worlds.

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Saturday, August 23, 2014

Graduation Day (The Testing #3)

Graduation Day (The Testing, #3)Graduation Day by Joelle Charbonneau
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The final installment of The Testing series left me a little let-down. We wrap up the conspiracies, double-crosses, triple-crosses, and rebellions we found in Independent Study, and get a small glimpse of the new future. I can't quite put my finger on why I'm disappointed, though. There was a lot of telling us what Cia was doing, her gathering things for her magical bag of holding, and thinking through her plans. But action? Not a ton until the end.

And Tomas? After the build up in book one about their love, we left it behind in books 2 and 3. He was barely a footnote in either book. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't looking for heartfelt declarations of love or constant mooning, but Cia struck me a robotic at times. I swear, she took a page out of Katniss's book and took it to a new level. I liked Tomas, and wanted more page time with him.

Overall, I still recommend the series, and I did like the ending. It felt true to character. But I expected a bit more from what could have been a dramatic conclusion. I would love to read a novella 10 years in the future letting us know how the rebuilding is going and what has happened with each character. Joelle, are you listening?

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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Across the Universe (Across the Universe #1)

Across the Universe (Across the Universe, #1)Across the Universe by Beth Revis
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I came across this book while browsing my local library's site, and it just happened to be available. I went into it knowing nothing about the book at all, and ended up pleasantly surprised.

We open with Amy, a 17-year-old daughter of a scientist and a top military official who are all being cryogenically frozen to be transported to a new planet 300 light years away. Despite her hesitations, she chooses to go with her parents, and they are all placed on Godspeed for launch to the new world. The Earth is dying, and the essential personnel aboard are to help populate and develop life on the new planet.

Elder is next in line to lead the people of Godspeed. Unaware of the cryo people being transported in the bottom levels of the ship, he only becomes aware when someone thaws Amy's pod years before it was time. Amy and Elder are thrown together to find the answers they are both searching for, and being the only two of the same age group, also fall in love.

There was a little left to be desired on the world building aspects, but overall it was an entertaining start to the series. I will be reading book 2.

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Monday, August 18, 2014

Proven Guilty (The Dresden Files #8)

Proven Guilty (The Dresden Files #8)Proven Guilty by Jim Butcher
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Harry's back, newly (and reluctantly) promoted to his role of warden for Chicago. Lots of fun in this one! Set mainly at a horror convention (Splatter Con! haha), we are re-introduced to Molly, Michael Carpenter's all grown up daughter, and she has a big girl crush on Harry. Harry, my favorite white knight in a leather duster, is having none of it. But you know what he wants to have? Murphy, in a big, big way. Yes, my favorite star-crossed lovers may never happen, but at least Harry is taking baby steps in the right direction. Murphy, open your damn eyes, please. Harry is amazing.

My least favorite character, Charity, plays a big role in this one. I'm not saying I like her, but at long last I understand part of her deep-seeded loathing for Harry. Misplaced, mostly, but understandable. All of my favorites are here: Ebenezer, Mac, Mouse, Thomas, Bob and Michael. Michael, in his typical fashion, is the ultimately the savior. Damn, I love him.

We get unexpected allies in the Summer Court and Mab and her Winter Court cronies make another appearance. It's all fun, and as usual, Harry can't catch a break without help from the people around him. Possibly my favorite book of the series so far.

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Saturday, August 16, 2014

Dead Man's Folly

Dead Man's FollyDead Man's Folly by Agatha Christie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

More of my favorite eggheaded Belgian detective! Love the setup for this one. Hercule Poirot's old friend, mystery novelist Ariadne Oliver, is coordinating a murder mystery party at an estate. She suspects she is being manipulated to set up the mystery for a real murder, and calls in her pal Poirot to thwart the killer.

This is classic Christie at her best--twists and turns, and just when you think you know who the killer is, she throws you another curve ball. All is resolved by the satisfying ending. Give it a read.

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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-TimeThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Prime numbers are what is left when you have taken all the patterns away. I think prime numbers are like life. They are very logical but you could never work out the rules, even if you spent all your time thinking about them.”

Weird confession. I like prime numbers. They make sense to me. I'm a tiny bit like Christopher, and I think that's why I love this book so much.

What's it all about? It's an interesting perspective into the mind of a boy who is autistic, intelligent in many ways, but still immature to the ways of the world.

Journey with Christopher as he solves the mystery of his neighbor's dog. Travel with him as he strikes out on his own to discover what happened to Wellington, and why. Like me, you might be surprised by the ending. Christopher doesn't necessarily get the answers he wants, but instead gets a lesson in life.

I really enjoyed the different narrator voice from Christopher. I didn't find it gimmicky like some readers, instead I found it to be a delightful journey. Check it out for yourself and see what you think.

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Friday, August 15, 2014

Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain

Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and GainUnbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain by Portia de Rossi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love to play armchair therapist. Books about addiction and recovery are a personal favorite of mine. It's fascinating to hear what drives others to the decisions they make, and to try to figure out what caused it all. In Portia de Rossi's case, it seems to be a destructive cocktail of her father dying at an early age, her drive for acceptance through modeling and acting, and hiding the fact that she is a lesbian, with a side dish of her feeling her mother wanted her to be perfect, pretty, and straight. Whether this is actually true or just what she heard internally, we can't really be sure, but she seems to have worked through most of it. I found myself wanting to sit her down and tell her that who she is will be enough, and to just enjoy life.

I first discovered Portia de Rossi on Arrested Development, one of my all-time favorite shows. I was never a fan of Ally McBeal so I had never watched her on it, and had only heard with half an ear about her struggles with her weight in the tabloids. To me, she will always be Lindsey Bluth. It was interesting to read about her descent into the depths of her eating disorder and how she finally came to terms with being who she really is, although hopefully she understands that's a journey that never ends, and she will be in recovery for the rest of her life. A well-written account of the struggles with an eating disorder. WARNING: some of her stories may trigger behaviors if you have struggled with ED in the past, so be careful.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Fault in Our Stars

The Fault in Our StarsThe Fault in Our Stars by John Green
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

For those of you living in a cave without access to internet or television, The Fault in Our Stars is about 2 teenagers living with and dying of cancer. It's sad. Not sad enough to make me cry, shockingly, because I love to cry at sad books and movies. Out of Africa makes me sob hard enough to throw myself on the couch wailing. But I digress.

If you don't know the story, I refuse to spoil it for you. Just read it. It's pretty good. And I have read the criticisms that Hazel and Augustus don't talk or act like typical teenagers. It's because they aren't. They are dying, they are a little bit hipster, and they have been forced to look their own mortality in the eye and deal with it. I can't imagine what that would feel like at 16, and I would bet neither can you. Their witty banter and interesting conversations are what kept me from the eye rolling, honestly. The part that bugged me most was her father. Please stop crying about everything around your daughter. Man up, dude. She's the one dying. It struck me as incredibly selfish.

TL:DR. Cancer sucks, and this book is sad.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Some Enchanted Evening (Lost Princesses #1)

Some Enchanted Evening (Lost Princesses, #1)Some Enchanted Evening by Christina Dodd
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The first book in a trilogy. Fairly enjoyable; I might read the others.

Clarice is a princess without a country. She is exile with her little sister, hiding from those intent on taking her country and removing her grandmother from power. She is the second sister of three, and travels around peddling beauty products to young ladies throughout the UK. Undercover (so to speak), she calls herself a princess but doesn't say where she is from, which seems strange to me, but I will let it go. Classic historical romance hero Robert not only ferrets out who she really is, but also falls madly, deeply in love with her. Nothing new with the storyline from other novels of the type, but I did find it an amusing way to pass the afternoon.

What saved it for me was the last chapter and the epilogue. It took it from "meh" to "maybe I will read the other two." What can I say, I'm a sucker for "happily ever after."

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