Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Tolstoy and the Purple Chair

Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical ReadingTolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading by Nina Sankovitch

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I love books about books, and I love books about grief. This book covers both.

Nina Sankovitch's sister was diagnosed with cancer and died four months later. In an attempt to work through her grief and terrible loss, she sets a goal to read and review a book a day for an entire year. She and her sister shared a love of books right up until the end, and she felt it would be a fitting tribute to their relationship while helping her heal.

First of all, I'm jealous. I know I shouldn't be since it took the death of her sister to help her reach this goal, but I am. I would love to have the ability to read a book a day. Fortunately the author was a stay-at-home mom during this time and had 6-8 hours of time per day to knock out her books. She has a remarkably patient husband. He sounds great and she is lucky to have him. Secondly, I found so many books to add to my TBR shelf that I may never work through them all. Conveniently the author lists all 365 books at the end so you too can load up your TBR shelf with hidden gems. But mostly I enjoyed reading how she tied the books she read into working through her grief while still being a mother of 4 and a wife of 1. Definitely a book for book lovers!

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A Natural History of Dragons (Memoir by Lady Trent #1)

A Natural History of Dragons (Memoir by Lady Trent, #1)A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I don't know what I was expecting with this book. I had a hard time getting into the writing style, then fell in love with her modern ideas in a victorian setting. I do think I expected more dragons. But I did enjoy her adventures and I rather think I would feel as out of time as she did had I lived in that age. Overall an enjoyable read, but I don't know that I will continue the series.

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The Bean Trees

The Bean TreesThe Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Have you ever wanted to reinvent yourself? To escape your old life and start over where no one knows you? I know I have. So begins our journey into the desert of Tucson.

Overall, I really enjoyed it. The settings really come to life. The characters were each unique although I wanted more development, especially with Taylor and Lou Ann. She could have gone deeper into each of their stories and extended the book 100 pages without making it drag. I enjoyed reading about Taylor and Turtle's journey together and how they both changed in their new lives. I especially enjoyed the side plot about Esteven and Esperanza and how it all came together at the end.

I enjoy Barbara Kingsolver so I can't imagine why I waited to read this book. This one was her first novel, and it was good. Glad I finally got to it.

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Monday, March 30, 2015

As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride

As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess BrideAs You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Great book about the making of one of my favorite movies. I loved reading the anecdotes and the perspectives added by the other actors along the way.

A must read for fans of The Princess Bride. Now go read the book and watch the movie!

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Saturday, March 28, 2015

Louisiana Longshot (Miss Fortune Mystery #1)

Louisiana Longshot (Miss Fortune Mystery #1)Louisiana Longshot by Jana Deleon

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Cute start to a new series. Fortune Redding is a CIA assassin (but I can't see that she was actually all that good at her job, but anyway...) and she is in hiding in a small Louisiana town of Sinful until the Middle Eastern assassins looking for her give up. She takes on the identity of her director's niece and reluctantly integrates herself into small town Southern life. Suspend all disbelief and enjoy this cozy mystery. The cast of characters are entertaining. The old lady mafia running the town made me laugh, and the storyline, while silly, kept my entertained. Lots of fun girl power and amusement in this one. I'll give book 2 a try.

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Friday, March 27, 2015

To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a MockingbirdTo Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I thoroughly, completely love this book. Scout, Jem, Calpurnia, and especially Atticus. In many ways, it's a simple coming of age story. But it is more than that, too. It's about equality, and prejudices, and hatred. And I loved it. And I just might have a big huge crush on Atticus Finch.

I'm not sure what else to say. If you haven't read it, please do yourself a favor and read it now. It's a classic for a reason.

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Thursday, March 26, 2015

All the Light We Cannot See

All the Light We Cannot SeeAll the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

World War II. Occupied France. Two young lives in different places, both impacted by the conflict. They come together in this unique, well-written work of historical fiction. The writing is both beautiful and sad. My heart broke into a million pieces several times while reading.

I fell in love with Marie Laure, her father, and Entienne. Marie Laure was an unusual heroine who filled me with hope. And I felt sympathy for Werner, who grew up fighting for the Nazis. In war, there are no winners, only survivors. Marie Laure and Werner both found a way to survive despite the world around them.

Read it. You just might, like me, find yourself leaving a piece of your heart in Saint Malo.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Kneading to Die (Pawsitively Organic Mystery #1)

Kneading to Die (Pawsitively Organic Mystery #1)Kneading to Die by Liz Mugavero

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

You know it is a bad sign when the main character annoys you in the first chapter. What is up with all of the "theme song" nonsense? Between that and the constant brand-name dropping and needless clothing / physical descriptions of everyone, I barely soldiered on. Plus, her name annoyed me.

HOWEVER, the mystery was ok enough to finish it without too much eye rolling. I'm down with the whole small-town, organic living, pet loving world. I'm not standing in my kitchen whipping up pet food from scratch with all organic fresh ingredients, but I have enjoyed many a farmer's market in my day. So the setting was quaint, and I enjoyed many of the side characters, even though the author threw in so many that you barely got to know any of them. She did waste half the book on a boyfriend you knew from the first line wouldn't be sticking around for book 2, and that annoyed me. I get it; it sets up the heroine for the small-town love interest in book 2.

This book was just ok. I didn't hate it. I didn't love it. 2 stars.

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Sunday, March 22, 2015

A Charming Cure (Magical Cures Mystery #2)

A Charming Cure (Magical Cures Mystery, #2)A Charming Cure by Tonya Kappes

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

My interest in this series is quickly dwindling. Book 1 was cute, and I was intrigued by the colorful characters in Whispering Falls, Kentucky. But I don't know if I can continue. The dialogue is terrible. It reads like a high school creative writing project at times. The purple prose pops up at the most awkward times and completely pulls me out of the story. I could overlook this and just enjoy the plot, but I am discovering how much I dislike the main character, June. June is insecure--a character trait I absolutely hate. She eats ding dongs non-stop, which is strange, but more importantly, she just isn't very smart. If she would stop and think before acting she would avoid most of her troubles. She is ridiculously naive about her relationship with her best friend, Oscar. I can handle the, "will they or won't they" nonsense. Hey, they are both 25 years old. No need to rush into anything. But her inner dialogue makes me cringe, and I just don't like her.

I will give book 3 a final shot before throwing in the towel, but it isn't looking good for me continuing the series. Sorry, June, you may have to continue on without me.

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Saturday, March 21, 2015

Forever, Interrupted

Forever, Interrupted: A NovelForever, Interrupted: A Novel by Taylor Jenkins Reid

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I rarely read chick lit, but this one was pretty good.

Elsie Porter loses her new husband, Ben, after only nine days of marriage. A whirlwind, six-month romance culminating in a romantic elopement, Elsie is left to pick up the pieces and find a way to move on while faced with meeting her new mother-in-law for the first time after the accident. It's a story of grief, a story of growth, and a story of finding your way through it all.

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Thursday, March 19, 2015


Landline: A NovelLandline: A Novel by Rainbow Rowell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My second book by Rainbow Rowell, and I loved it just as much.

What would you do if you got a second chance to make things right? Georgie and Neal have a tenured marriage. Tense, with typical troubles, Georgie makes the decision to stay home for Christmas to work. Neal, understandably, gets mad and takes the girls to Omaha as planned. Georgie finds a way to communicate with Neal, but it's Neal from 15 years ago. This helps her to reevaluate her life, her marriage, and the choices she made in the past.

I was prepared to hate both Georgie and Neal from the beginning. Georgie suffered from a lack of confidence, and Neal struck me as a bully. However, as the story unfolded I began to understand their relationship, and it was really sweet. And messy. And complicated, just like real life. It made me appreciate my marriage and reminded me how fortunate I am.

It's not what I expected, but it was still really good. Just read it. Rainbow Rowell hasn't disappointed me yet.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

As the Crow Flies (Walt Longmire #8)

As the Crow Flies: A Walt Longmire MysteryAs the Crow Flies: A Walt Longmire Mystery by Craig Johnson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My favorite sheriff Walt Longmire saves the day again. I just love this series!

This time we miss most of the usual cast of characters, as Walt is teamed up with Lolo Long, new tribal police chief as they investigate a potential homicide. The colorful folks Walt works with and investigates over the course of the case make the story fun even as the body count mounts, and we still get enough of a dose of Henry and Dog to make it typical Longmire.

Time marches on, and in the end the greatest legal mind of our time enjoys her nuptials. It remains to be seen what is in Walt's future. On to book #9!

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Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive #1)

The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive, #1)The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow, what a beginning! This book is a time investment, but it's good. Really good.

We are following 4 main characters: Szeth, Kaladin, Shallan and Dalinar; seemingly unrelated characters whose lives come together over the course of the story. Sanderson builds a large, complex world full of military strategy, magic, and morality tales, and one not easily forgotten.

My favorite storyline is Kaladin, by far. He's a flawed, everyman hero who usually does the right thing. He is my favorite kind of character, and the reason I can't wait to read the next book in the series.

Stick with the confusing web of characters and stories at the beginning, and you will be glad you took the journey. Good stuff.

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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1)

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1)Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a great start to a series! Good stuff. Can't wait to read the next one.

Celaena is my favorite kind of character. Strong, independent, a little sassy, but still can be hurt, both emotionally and physically. She's not super-human. She's like Katniss in a fantasy setting. She says the wrong things sometimes and isn't perfect, but people still like her. In fact, there are several similarities between this book and The Hunger Games. Competition for their lives, evil leaders, love triangle. It's similar, yet different enough to work. I enjoyed the supernatural/magical element, the setting, and the characters. A very solid 4 stars for me.

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WaldenWalden by Henry David Thoreau

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Dear Henry,
I'm so sorry, but your book was not what I was hoping for. I thought it would be a story of survival, of reflection, of getting back to nature. There was a little of the reflection and nature, to be sure. But seriously, Thoreau, you were right outside of town. You were near the railroad tracks. You were BORROWING someone's land. Not exactly roughing it, were you? You entertained friends and really didn't get away from it all like you seemed to think.

I don't think it was you, friend. I think it was me. I went in with high expectations, and came away underwhelmed. No hard feelings?

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Sunday, March 8, 2015

Cat Among the Pigeons (Hercule Poirot #32)

Cat Among the PigeonsCat Among the Pigeons by Agatha Christie

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Another good Poirot mystery. Another one that I had not read towards the end of the series.

Set in a prestigious private school in England, Poirot is summoned by a student to solve the crimes. Murder is afoot. Not just one murder, but two. Who will be next? Well, besides our good friend Hercule Poirot, no one is safe. But not to worry, because he always gets his man. Or woman, as the case may be.

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Friday, March 6, 2015

Yellow Crocus

Yellow CrocusYellow Crocus by Laila Ibrahim

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Loved this book. What a nice surprise.

Set in the years before the Civil War, we follow the lives of Lisbeth, young mistress of the manor, and Mattie, her house slave. Yes, it's a nice historical fiction piece. I knew it would be. We see some glimpses into the daily lives on a plantation in the south pre-Civil War. But I loved the unexpected turns and character development. The ending, while not a complete surprise, was still enjoyable. I'm glad I read it.

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Thursday, March 5, 2015

Harvesting the Heart

Harvesting the HeartHarvesting the Heart by Jodi Picoult

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It's amazing how your opinions change over time. I have read this book three times. Once before I had kids, once when my kids were young, and now when they are nearly grown. I have viewed it differently and taken something different from it each time.

I have more mercy for Paige and Nicholas this time around, but the real standout for me was Astrid. The first time, I felt I understood May. The second time, I felt I understood Paige. And this time, I relate most to Astrid. It's like I was a different person each time I read it, and I suppose I was.

Marriage is hard. Motherhood is hard. Growing up is hard. Anyone who tells you differently is a liar.

Anyway, Jodi Picoult, I still love your books, no matter what version of myself is reading them.

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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death & Hope in a Mumbai Undercity

Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai UndercityBehind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I'm still thinking about this book.

So much poverty. So much corruption. So much sadness. I am so glad I read this book. I am glad I live in America, and I feel a little guilty for the easy life I lead. I hadn't stopped to consider that so much of your start in life depends on your birthplace. The people chronicled in this book started out on the wrong side of luck and never found their way out. It's hard to believe that so many people live like this in Mumbai. A powerful story.

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Monday, March 2, 2015

Paper Towns

Paper TownsPaper Towns by John Green

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I liked it better than "Looking for Alaska" and less than "The Fault in Our Stars".

But Margo was selfish. One of my hot buttons. Girl, seriously, your parents are part of the reason you are messed up, but grow up.

Overall, just ok.

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Sunday, March 1, 2015

Amber (Jewel #3 / Chase Family Series #4)

Amber (Jewel, #3)Amber by Lauren Royal

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Amber is the third book in the Jewel trilogy, and instead of following one of the Chase brothers on their search for love, we get to follow Kendra. Spirited Kendra, with her long red hair, refusing her brothers' chosen suitors at every turn. Since this is set during the Restoration, she is required to stop living with her big brother and find a husband. Heaven forbid this girl run off and manage her own life. She's smarter than the rest of them put together.

However, she stumbles upon an outlaw / Duke who she can't seem to stay away from, and hilarity and drama ensue. Another decent installment in the Chase Family historical romance series. Not my favorite, but still enjoyable.

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