Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Nightingale

The NightingaleThe Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A beautifully written, heartbreaking piece of historical fiction. Set in World War II France during the Nazi occupation, we follow the lives of two sisters who both deal with the war in very different ways. Young, impulsive Isabelle rushes headlong into the Resistance, while her older sister Vianne is just trying to keep her daughter alive until her husband returns from the Front.

This book will leave you emotionally shredded, for sure. So much sadness and senseless death. War is never an easy read and especially when it involves the atrocities committed by the Nazis in WWII, but Hannah does a wonderful job weaving the lives and stories together in a way that might just leave you curled up in a ball crying. It's that good. Do yourself a favor and read it while you are alone so you can absorb yourself in the storyline and then take a little time to decompress. I suggest having something light-hearted on hand to immediately read as a tonic afterwards.

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Saturday, May 30, 2015

Storm Front (The Dresden Files #1)

Storm Front (The Dresden Files, #1)Storm Front by Jim Butcher

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Supernatural Chicago, the Windy City, city of my heart, and where my love affair with Harry Dresden begins. This is one of my favorite series of all time. Harry has it all, tall, dark and lanky with so much snark, bravery, and chivalry that I can hardly bear it.

The plot is a little weak in places but it introduces all of the characters well and sets us up for so many future plot lines. Gentleman Johnny Marcone and his seedy criminal underworld. We get to enjoy steak and ale at McAnally's with the ever reticent Mac, and we get a glimpse of the partnership between Murphy and Dresden that sustains the series over many books. And while we hardly get enough Bob, it's an introduction to his shenanigans and he is always good for a laugh. So much goodness here that I will choose to ignore my hatred of Susan.

Read it. Butcher is the best.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Death of a Gossip (Hamish MacBeth #1)

Death of a Gossip (Hamish MacBeth Mystery)Death of a Gossip by M.C. Beaton

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Another one to add to my "quick read cozy" shelves. First book in the series, and nothing too objectionable here.

Hamish MacBeth is a constable in the Scottish village of Lochdubh. He seems slow, dim, and lazy, but that helps him to solve crimes when others underestimate him. In this first book, murder comes to Lochdubh, and it happens on Hamish's watch. A fly fishing school. A group of strangers. And a dead body. Hamish is pushed aside by the city cops who come in to solve the murder. As it is a cozy, and Hamish is the star, you know he will get his man, or woman, in the end.

Humorous and old fashioned (it was written in 1985), it is interesting to see how much things have changed over 30 years. You might find yourself laughing at some of the outdated ideas and silly character choices, but the mystery is fun and I didn't guess the killer until the very end. Reminiscent of Agatha Christie but not as smartly done, you might enjoy the plotting, setting, and Hamish himself. He grew on me enough by the end to move on to book 2.

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Monday, May 25, 2015

Linger (Wolves of Mercy Falls #2)

Linger (The Wolves of Mercy Falls, #2)Linger by Maggie Stiefvater

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

You know how you can have a love / hate relationship with a book? Welcome to Mercy Falls.

I can't stand Grace. She is a petty child who infuriated me at every turn. And while I don't hate Sam (I rather like him), he is hit by my wrath towards Grace as her partner in crime. I think as the parent of two high schoolers it hit too close to home for me. I am so glad Grace isn't my daughter.

But then we have Isabel and Cole. I just love them. And suddenly I am reduced from angry parent to moony-eyed teenager myself. Hey, I'm a mess of paradoxes. Sue me.
Overall 3 stars.

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Sunday, May 24, 2015

Burial Rites

Burial RitesBurial Rites by Hannah Kent

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book took me by complete surprise. Walking into it, I didn't realize it was a based on a true story. It's well-written and an interesting piece of historical fiction.

We are told the story of Agnes, the last person to be executed in Iceland, through the eyes of others--the family she was housed with while awaiting execution and the priest she asked to atone her sins. Through the course of the book you get to see glimpses of Agnes, but do you ever truly know what happened, or why? Can you trust her version of events? Did she deserve to be executed for the crime? The book is will leave you guessing until the end and it will be up to you to decide.

The writing is bleak and cold, like the setting. it's a story culled together by the historical documents and it becomes a compelling tale of a women in her final days, of acceptance and the unfolding of the truth.

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Cursor's Fury (Codex Alera #3)

Cursor's Fury (Codex Alera, #3)Cursor's Fury by Jim Butcher

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I adore everything about this series. Jim Butcher, I love you. Not in a weird, trap you in my basement way, but in a "thank you for building this world and these characters and sharing them with us" way.

Tavi has graduated from the Academy and is now serving Gaius Sextus and Alera as a cursor for the realm. He is sent undercover as Captain Rufus Scipio to work with the First Aleran Legion and quickly finds himself fighting to preserve the Realm and their way of life. Classic Tavi, always smack in the middle of conflict.

Almost all of your favorites are back, and there are some major character developments by the end. Some of the battle scenes wind on for too long, keeping me from rating this 5 stars, but it is still the Alera you know and love. The battle scenes are crucial for moving the plot to the next book so hunker down and get through them because the payoff at the end is perfect. Once you finish, you will immediately want to start on the next book...the sign of a great series.

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Saturday, May 16, 2015

A Dying Fall (Ruth Galloway #5)

A Dying Fall (Ruth Galloway #5)A Dying Fall by Elly Griffiths

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I don't know why I keep torturing myself with these books. Ruth is the worst. I grow to hate her more with each book I read. Actually, no, I take that back. I don't hate Ruth, I just don't like her. It's Harry I hate.

In this one, a huge contrivance of events takes Ruth and Harry back to his hometown (separately, of course) where ridiculous things happen. Along the way there is danger for Ruth, she feels terrible about herself and is jealous of her supposed best friend, and has guys falling for her regardless. Same MO as the other books in the series, with a slight twist that I won't ruin for you here. But you do get Cathbad, and that should be enough but it's really not.

I read this one because I accidentally skipped it and read book six first, but I won't be continuing on. Ruth and Harry can figure out their boring lives without me.

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Friday, May 15, 2015

Enclave (Razorland #1)

Enclave (Razorland, #1)Enclave by Ann Aguirre

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Dystopian future. Earth in peril. Tribes of people surviving in the underground subway tunnels of New York City. Welcome to Enclave.

Deuce has reached adulthood in her underground enclave on her 15th birthday--the day she receives her adult name and job. She is a huntress, and is paired up with Fade, a hunter who joined them after growing up Topside. The pair uncover danger from the Freaks during one of their hunting runs and are exiled for their discovery. Forced Topside, they have to learn to work as a team to survive.

Deuce and Fade make a great team. She is brave, but not unrealistically so, and is decently flawed. Fade, while taking the lead Topside, is smart enough to work with Deuce to help him survive as well. It's an interesting dynamic and the ending leaves you eagerly awaiting the next book.

Better than a lot of the standard YA dystopian fare out there. 3 1/2 stars.

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Thursday, May 7, 2015

Crocodile on the Sandbank (Amelia Peabody #1)

Crocodile on the Sandbank (Amelia Peabody #1)Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It's a very good thing I was born in these modern times, otherwise I would have turned out to be exactly like Amelia Peabody. Unmarried, outspoken, finding ways around the conventions of long skirts and subservient attitudes. We find her sassy self traveling to Egypt to see the archaeological sties and picking up friends along the way.

The high point of the book for me is the banter between Radcliffe and Peabody. The two of them make me laugh with their jabs and bickering. How dare a women know something about first aid? Or keep a level head? Radcliffe and his brother have met their match in dear Miss Peabody. I enjoyed their interactions so much that the weak points of the plot were easily overlooked.

The archaeology and history make this interesting, and the characters make it fun.  Looking forward to seeing how the next few books hold up.

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Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet [New Folger edition]Romeo and Juliet [New Folger edition] by William Shakespeare

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I haven't read this since high school. I remember enjoying it, but found I enjoyed it a bit more this time. The first blush of young infatuation. Love at first sight. Family feuds. And death. The play that spawned a thousand movies and has set an unrealistic, strangely morbid bar for teens everywhere. I would blame Leonardo DiCaprio but I know this obsession was there long before our pal Leo caused millions of ladies to swoon. The family conflicts are so outdated in this day and age, but the insanity of pubescent hormones are alive and well even now. Read it, debate it, perform it--it's a classic for a reason.

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The Saint and the Sinner

The Saint and the SinnerThe Saint and the Sinner by Barbara Cartland

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Typical Barbara Cartland, with overly drawn dramatic characters and ultra-tame romance. I loved reading these when I was 12 or 13. Many hours were spent pouring over my mom's copies, but I don't remember reading this one.

Poor Pandora is a complete Mary Sue. A wide-eyed orphan with so much family loyalty it is pouring out her young, innocent ears. Enter the dashing bad-boy cousin, the Earl. He has a chip on his shoulder about his family inheritance as deep as the ocean. Poor little rich boy! Pandora drops into his lap and shows him the error of his ways, and they live happily ever after.

Barbara almost made me snap with the weird phrasing and dialogue for Pandora. She - kept talking - like this. Was she - slow - in the - head? Did she - have a terrible - stutter? Unsure what the deal was, but I nearly threw the book down in frustrating a few times. At least it was a quick read.

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Monday, May 4, 2015

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown

The Coldest Girl in ColdtownThe Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Vampires. Teenagers making impulsively bad decisions. Welcome to Coldtown.

I liked this book. I'm surprised at how much I liked it, actually. I've read a string of YA paranormal this spring and this one is one of my favorites so far. Tana was a decent heroine--independent, yet vulnerable. She did stupid things and made bad decisions, but she was aware when she did. She's drawn to Gavriel even though she knows it is a bad decision. She tries to help Aidan even though he doesn't deserve it. And she is brave even when she doesn't want to be.

As for the ending, I thought it fit the book perfectly and I am oddly glad it is a stand-alone novel.

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Sunday, May 3, 2015


FangirlFangirl by Rainbow Rowell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It's official; I love Rainbow Rowell. This is the third book I have read by her and I can safely say now that I love her work. She writes realistic, flawed characters and I always feel like I can relate. Her relationships have rung true for me in all three books. And while I don't write fan fiction, I can completely understand Cath's social anxiety and just plain being an introvert. When you find yourself nodding your head to scenes as you read, you know you have found the right author for you. Loved it. 4 stars.

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Friday, May 1, 2015

The Rose Garden

The Rose GardenThe Rose Garden by Susanna Kearsley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a lovely book! It hits all of the right notes: historical fiction, romance, time travel, mystery. If you haven't read Susanna Kearsley before be prepared for dual timelines, because they all seem to have them, and she does them well.

Eva returns to Cornwall coast to grieve her sister's death. She finds her childhood friends still tending the home where they stayed with the beautiful rose gardens. Weird happenings begin occurring to Eva, and she finds herself in the middle of a strange mystery that crosses generations. This book unfolds slowly and it ends up going to a place I didn't expect but fully loved.

Well-worth the read, and stands up to a re-read. Lovely.

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