Thursday, July 30, 2015

Nine Minutes

Nine Minutes (Nine Minutes, #1)Nine Minutes by Beth Flynn

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Holy Stockholm Syndrome, Batman! My mind is reeling. I have never read a book like this. I still don't know what to think. I'm conflicted on my rating, so for now it's getting 3 stars.

Fifteen-year-old Ginny is abducted by a motorcycle gang member and "given" to the leader, Grizz. What follows is a twisted, dark story of violence, love, betrayal, and loyalty. I don't want to give too much away because what happens is interesting. It's written from Ginny's point of view, but you get some other perspectives as well as the book unfolds. I've seriously not ever read anything like this book. I'm sure there are other books out there like this, but since it's not my typical genre my head is spinning a little.

The writing was decent but not perfect and I had to suspend disbelief quite a few times--seriously, if someone kidnapped me I would do anything to escape rather than just shrug my shoulders and give up--but the story was interesting. 3 stars for now.

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Sunday, July 26, 2015

Storming the Castle (Fairy Tales #1.5)

Storming the Castle (Fairy Tales, #1.5)Storming the Castle by Eloisa James

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

"And they all lived happily ever after." Just like I like my romances. I'm a sap. Don't judge.

Cute follow up to A Kiss at Midnight--this time starring Wick. We have a slightly modern woman in Phillipa Damson, running from a marriage looming in her future to make her own way. She runs right into the nearby castle to assist the princess with her ailing infant. Luckily for everyone, Phillipa's uncle is a skilled, if unconventional, physician, and she uses what she's learned from him to save the baby. Wick, like everyone, is impressed by this undercover lady posing as a nanny. Misunderstandings and flirtations abound, and we come to the conclusion we knew was coming and hoped for. Like all fairy tales, they all seem to live happily ever after.

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Saturday, July 25, 2015

The Perfume Collector

The Perfume CollectorThe Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After a slow start, I found myself captivated by this book.

It's a story about the power of life's choices. It's a story of love, of sacrifice, and of family. But at it's core it is the story of how two women's lives are intertwined, and how the past catches up with the future.

I also found myself intrigued about the process of capturing scents to make perfume. I have never been a big perfume person but after reading this book I want to run out and find a scent that really speaks to me. Or, better yet, have someone create a scent especially for me. An extravagance, to be sure, but the book made it seem so special.

Overall, an interesting piece of historical fiction. 4 stars.

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Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Old Man and the Sea

The Old Man and the SeaThe Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Reading my way through the classics and thought I would dive into my first Hemingway. I can't say I was disappointed.

We journey to Cuba to fish with Santiago, the old man of said title, and go with him out to the sea. Santiago has had a bit of a dry spell, not catching anything for 84 days. 84 days! What is this poor old man living on? Well, nothing but the kindness of Manolin, his sometimes apprentice. Determined to turn his luck, Santiago heads far out to search for a big catch.

Part man vs.nature, part reflections from an old man on a long life, this final book by Hemingway has many layers. I liked it. 3 stars.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Play Dead (Allie Babcock Mystery #1)

Play Dead (An Allie Babcock Mystery)Play Dead by Leslie O'Kane

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I really wanted to like this book because the idea of a mystery series with a dog psychologist / amateur sleuth sounded fun, but it just didn't deliver for me.

A couple of things: The mystery was way over complicated and a bit ridiculous. I felt the main character was annoying, yet she had men tripping over themselves to get to her. Her office partner was in all kinds of insta-love for her, her blind date was crazy about her after 5 minutes, etc. I think she was supposed to be smart and plucky, but it did not come across in the writing. And her roommate was written to be a sniveling, needy psycho--basically the world's worst person who no one in their right mind would tolerate. Pretty much every male character was written to be a total jerk. I would never talk to any of these people in real life, ever, except the mom and the cooking class instructor (but only if she promised not to make me eat vegan food).

The depiction of Boulder was pretty spot on, though. Well done, author, for capturing the hippie-uniqueness that is Boulder.

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The Anatomist's Apprentice (Dr. Thomas Silkstone Mystery #1)

The Anatomist's Apprentice (A Dr. Thomas Silkstone Mystery #1)The Anatomist's Apprentice by Tessa Harris

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I wish I had judged this book by its cover and left it at that. The cover was nice, but the mystery wasn't very good. I was expecting a cool historical mystery with interesting forensics happening to solve the crime. I was let down. Some nits to pick:

First of all, the title. Who is the anatomist and who the apprentice? Is Thomas the anatomist in the title? Because he seems to be, but then I don't know who his apprentice is supposed to be. If Thomas is the apprentice, who is the anatomist? One of the old anatomists? Because he's fully graduated into his profession. I kept waiting for the apprentice to appear. This did not happen.

Insta-romance abounds, starring Lydia. She was at the center of everything, and every man loved her, but we are never shown why she would cause such a reaction. She was boring. Not a good character in any way. The romance was unnecessary and the dialogue was eye-rollingly bad.

The ending was just short of ridiculous--completely disappointing and over the top. Not going to read another book in the series. There are so many good historical mysteries out there and this is not one of them.

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Monday, July 20, 2015

Fool Moon (The Dresden Files #2)

Fool Moon (The Dresden Files, #2)Fool Moon by Jim Butcher

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

More fun and mayhem with Harry and friends!

Werewolves. In Chicago. And it's up to Harry to solve the mystery and save the town. As usual, he rises to the occasion while taking an ass-whipping. Harry, seriously, take those martial arts classes with Murphy. I have never seen a man get beaten up as much as you.

There were twists and turns in this one, and a sad part in the police station that shocked me. But it all worked out in the end, natch, and now Harry has a new set of friends to call upon when Chicago is in peril. Because you know it will be, because that's how it all works.

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Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Glass Castle

The Glass CastleThe Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Nature vs. nurture. It's a long-standing debate. I personally think nurture has a more to do with how you turn out as a person, but Jeannette Walls might have just proved me wrong.

This is the story of growing up with two parents who, to put it nicely, both have issues. My armchair psychiatrist degree says they both just might be mentally ill. Definitely co-dependent. And really bad parents. Jeannette and her siblings grow up roaming from place to place as her parents run from people of the real and imaginary sort. They are poor, and hungry, and really don't seem to realize how crazy their upbringing truly is. I can't believe no one stepped in and helped these kids, but I'm sure there are families right now who have it just as bad or worse and are under the radar like them.

This book made me mad. And sad. I realize it could have been worse for the Walls children. But what was there was bad enough. Now get off the computer, go hug a loved one, and be grateful for all that you have. It's a miracle Jeannette Walls grew up to make something of herself, so her nature won out over the terrible nurture she received. 4 stars for Jeannette and a virtual high five from me.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Eat Move Sleep

Eat Move Sleep: How Small Choices Lead to Big ChangesEat Move Sleep: How Small Choices Lead to Big Changes by Tom Rath

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I read this book because now that I'm in my 40's I want to take better care of myself. I have been remarkably healthy throughout my life, and I don't want that to change as I enter middle age. I have never been a healthy eater (no orange or green foods for me, thanks!) so I am making baby steps into adulthood. Enter "Eat, Move, Sleep". Tom Rath has suffered from rare health problems his whole life so he has gone to extremes in being healthy to prolong his life. There are great suggestions for anyone in this book to make small changes to be healthier, especially in the lists at the end of the book. However, the book is preachy and extremist. No one who is on a quest to be healthier and take better care of themselves is going to read this book and implement all of the extreme changes he recommends, often without citing a source. How much of this is based on real science, vs. articles he has read in Men's Health? It's unrealistic and discouraging for me, someone who has never touched peas or carrots since being forced in her youth, to make the extreme changes he says you need to make for a long, healthy life.

What would have worked much better is for him to be more encouraging in the small changes people can make to lead a healthier life. Step off the soap box, Tom, remove your white wig, and start cheering people on! You just come across as a huge jerk right now, and I don't want to hang out with you. Buzzkill.

For those of you who want to be healthier but don't want to read this book, here is your TL:DR:
EAT - be mindful of what you eat, and how much. Try to eat real foods in moderation, not chemically processed, artificial crap.
MOVE - get exercise every day. This helps your body last longer. Don't be lazy. Take the stairs, park at the back of the lot, and get those lungs filled with good, clean air.
SLEEP - rest and let your body regenerate. Sleep enough and get your circadian rhythms in line with nature.

There you go. You're welcome.

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M is for Malice (Kinsey Millhone #13)

M is for Malice (Kinsey Millhone, #13)M is for Malice by Sue Grafton

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Oh, Kinsey. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Dietz is back, Henry is still awesome, Kinsey's cousins are still trying to build a relationship with her while she snarls and snaps like a scared, wounded animal, and she solves the mystery through sheer tenacity and stubbornness. Because she's Kinsey, and she's awesome.

Imagine a world where you have to solve crimes through legwork instead of computers. Where you can miss important calls because cell phones aren't a thing. Where you have to send off a form, in the mail, with a real stamp and everything, to get a copy of a DMV report. Grafton's choice to freeze Kinsey in the late 80s makes the mystery more interesting in a lot of ways. Crime fighters today have it so easy! A google search on your iPhone, and bam, the bad guys go to jail!

This one is about the prodigal son, an inheritance, and redemption. I would have never guessed the culprit--in fact, she kept me guessing right up until the reveal, but it all made sense in the end. Dietz might be back, or not, and I'm as conflicted as Kinsey on whether or not he should be. And the beat goes on.

This is the first one that I've noticed didn't end with Kinsey's case notes. I missed the "Respectfully Submitted, Kinsey Millhone" ending. Not sure why she chose to end this one differently, but it made the ending seem less tied up for me. All in all, classic Kinsey. 3 solid stars.

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Sunday, July 12, 2015

A Wicked Snow

A Wicked SnowA Wicked Snow by Gregg Olsen

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book was like a see-saw to me. Back and forth, up and down. At first it was boring and confusing. Then it sucked me in and I thought it was great. Then back to boring and drawn-out, then exciting, then implausible, and then...the end.

The mystery was pretty solid and could have been fantastic with different characters. Parts of the plot were not necessary or even cohesive, but the idea and setting were interesting. My main beef with this book were the characters. No one was particularly likable and I found myself with no one to root for, no one to care for, and this is a problem when you should be emotionally tied to the main characters and hoping they live. Overall I was let down and while the ending was intriguing it didn't make up for the rest of the plot. More like 2 3/4 stars, but I'll give it a 3 because of the ending.

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Love is Dangerous

Love Is DangerousLove Is Dangerous by Barbara Cartland

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a different sort of Barbara Cartland romance, one with a bit of a mystery and intrigue. And limited stilted dialogue, so it didn't break my brain.

Melina is working as a secretary in Morocco, and is dismissed out of jealousy. Insert eye-rolling here. Dame Barbara, your age is showing. But worry not, as her balcony is invaded by a dashing young man on the run. She gamely jumps to his rescue and they embark on a tale of intrigue and drama. Bing (Bing, really?) isn't very nice, but somehow she falls for him anyway. And then we encounter a Deus ex machina so large we need a separate room for it. As with all Cartland romances, the ending will be abrupt and you will wonder what hit you when it was done.

Giving this an extra star due to her controlling herself around--the stilted--dialogue she--loves and the twist on a late 60's spy novel.

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Saturday, July 11, 2015

Born with Teeth

Born with TeethBorn with Teeth by Kate Mulgrew

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Captain Janeway is my favorite Starfleet captain, so when I saw this book I knew I had to read it. Kate Mulgrew has lead an interesting life. Impulsive, a bit crazy. Pretty much what you would imagine an actress's life to be like.

She shares the stories of her childhood, stories of getting stared as a young actress, and stories of her marriage and family. Entertaining and interesting, but I feel like it was very surface. While she let us catch glimpses of her world, she didn't actually let us in. Even during her story of giving her daughter up for adoption, a heart wrenching tale, she kept the reader at arm's length. The ending was abrupt, as well, and I actually thought I was missing chapters in my book at first.

I was expecting more, but enjoyed what I read. 3 stars.

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A Charming Spell (Magical Cures Mystery #4)

A Charming Spell (Magical Cures Mystery, #4)A Charming Spell by Tonya Kappes

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I know I said I was done with this series, but apparently I am a glutton for punishment. Plus I own books 4 and 5, so I guess I need to finish up what I have.

June is inexplicably still village president with absolutely no qualifications for the position and is doing the job you would expect. Oliver is still missing his memory of June and the magical world. Why did we hit the reset button in book 3? Oh, right, because the plot wasn't working. Anyway, June is still incompetent, and self-centered, and eating those damn Ding Dongs. And sticking her nose in everyone's business. I can take annoying from my characters. What I can't take is stupidity. She makes bad decisions, puts herself and other in danger, and is consistently selfish. She lost me completely when she chose to pick on Oliver's new girlfriend. Very "Mean Girls", and is the perfect example of why June is a bad character. I pretty much hate her at this point.

Aside from the atrocities of the plot and characters, these books are riddled with typos and grammatical errors that are unforgivable and make the books read like a high school writing project. The dialogue is stilted and amateurish, and the plots are inane. Don't waste your time and money on this series--there are much better options out there.

P.S. Every time I had to read, "Hidden Hall A Spiritualist University" (which was about 100 times) I wanted to gouge my eyes out. The name is stupid and you don't need to write out the full name every. damn. time.

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Friday, July 10, 2015

The Darkest Minds (The Darkest Minds #1)

The Darkest Minds (The Darkest Minds, #1)The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

We enter a world where the youth either die at puberty or develop amazing powers. Once you develop powers, the government is coming to get you and put you in a camp. To rehabilitate you. Right? Trust your government. But no! You are now too dangerous, and you must either be locked up, or die. The choice is yours.

Ruby develops her power at the age of 10, and off to the camp she goes. How it happened and what she can do with her power will be unfolded along the way. We also get a prison break, road trip, and buddy comedy. Plus love. Because it wouldn't be young adult dystopian without it. The side characters are decent and you might find you are more attached to them than fearless Ruby, but I'll leave that to you to decide.

So much here that I wanted to love! But in the end, I rated it 3 stars. I liked it, but didn't fall in love with it. I will continue to the next book to see where this is all going.

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Wednesday, July 8, 2015

A Letter of Mary (Mary Russell #3)

A Letter of Mary (Mary Russell, #3)A Letter of Mary by Laurie R. King

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I love everything about this series. Holmes and Russell are my favorite duo of all time.

Mary is the perfect balance for the arrogant aging Holmes. She is independent, and intelligent, and very secure in her own skin. She's truly one of my favorite characters ever. You get the cleverness you expect from Sherlock Holmes, but with a new twist that makes Holmes more human, and more likable.

In this one, the newly married Russell and Holmes are visited by an old friend who leaves them with an artifact of dubious provenance. It's the perfect blend of theology and mystery to get the couple on the case when their friend is killed. Along the way we get time with my favorite brother Mycroft and Inspector Lestrade, and the quartet works together to unwind the clues and bring the killers to justice. A solid 3 1/2 stars.

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Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Death of an Outsider (Hamish Macbeth #3)

Death of an OutsiderDeath of an Outsider by M.C. Beaton

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Oh Hamish. What have you gotten yourself into this time?

We find ourselves exiled with Hamish to Cnothan to cover the local Constable's three month vacation. We step away from our regular band of locals to a more hostile crowd. But gangly Hamish, with his red hair and easy smile, wins them over in the end. Or at least most of them. The crime in this one wasn't one you could look back and solve. Lots of clues were missing, and even when it was explained you didn't know it was coming. But Hamish is fun and it was nice to get to see him in a new environment. I'm hoping we've seen the last of Blair--he's incredibly two-dimensional. And in the end our boy returns home to the life he knows best. A quick read and an average mystery, but still three stars. Hey, what can I say, Hamish has grown on me.

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Friday, July 3, 2015

Fascination in France

114. Fascination in France (The Eternal Collection)114. Fascination in France by Barbara Cartland

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Oh Barbara---your stilting---prose makes--my head--hurt.

Silly, fast read about two young ladies who are sent to a rich man's house, one to be married off in the interest of a business partnership. The other sent to chaperone her cousin. Expect a classic Cartland switch-a-roo with the Duc falling for the other one unexpectedly. Yes, there will be perils for our young heroine. She will be in danger, but will pluckily save the day and everyone will live happily ever after. But if you weren't looking for a HEA, you wouldn't have read a Barbara Cartland romance.

Plus for the book being short, and the main characters not horrible in the end. Minus for the dumb cousin who was annoying and nothing but a plot device.

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Thursday, July 2, 2015

The One (The Selection #3)

The One (The Selection, #3)The One by Kiera Cass

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Somewhat surprised at the resolution to the series, but I liked it.

We are in the finals for the Selection, and you just know America will become "The One". But the road along the way actually surprised me. There were some frustrating parts, some sad parts, and some overall really good parts. I would say I ended up liking it enough to give it a solid three stars. Maxon was my high point. I didn't hate Celeste by the end, and America grew up, mostly. If you read the first two you will read this one to learn how it all resolves.

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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Fallen (Fallen #1)

Fallen (Fallen, #1)Fallen by Lauren Kate

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Well, I find myself a bit underwhelmed by the kick off to this series. Color me disappointed.

It's not necessarily the characters. I liked Luce, I liked Daniel, and I loved Penn. It wasn't the setting. The boarding school was interesting and colorful. And I didn't hate the writing style. I can't put my finger on what was lacking, but I find myself torn about continuing to book 2. Maybe it was the whole over-the-topness of the good vs.evil, maybe it was because I wanted more backstory. Anyway, lukewarm for me at best. 2 1/2 stars for the gorgeous cover.

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