Sunday, April 30, 2017

Finishing up

So tired. I will do a better wrap up later-
1. Which hour was most daunting for you?
2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a reader engaged for next year?
3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next season?
4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?
5. How many books did you read?
6. What were the names of the books you read?
7. Which book did you enjoy most?
8. Which did you enjoy least?
9. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?
Image result for just keep reading
 I don't know how I am going to last :P But as Dori says - Just keep reading and as Marlin says:
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Hour 19

5 more hours....I'm not sure I am going to make it. But gosh dang it I will try.

1829148730556097Since we last met I have listened to one little fluffy piece...and read another.

They are both on the same vein - something not to taxing to read in the later hours.

I have realized that I can get E-audiobooks through my library. Which makes me very happy and so I can stay awake and crochet/knit while listening to more books.

I really am hoping that this is going to make the next stretch work out.

Another thing I have been doing is alternating between chapters of different non-fiction books - 5 all told.

A Random Walk Down Wall Street.
The Hero with A Thousand Faces
It Starts with Food
Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment
and
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.


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It may be a bit scattered, but I have noticed in past years that this is the time when I am getting too tired to focus on one thing for too long. Check back in an hour!





Saturday, April 29, 2017

Hour 11 - Almost Halfway There

I fell asleep - just for a bit. I really need to get better at the night time sleeping thing.
1022701

But I just finished Twilight Child. "Gentle" is the best word that I can use to describe this book.

It's a nice little story about Eleni - a child born at twilight and therefore gifted to see the other folk - the fey. Her life takes her from Finland to Scotland when her father decides to take her after her mother's death. She finds herself in Tobermori, a small town in the Scottish highlands.

My Thoughts:

Its a short nice read about Eleni and her life and experience with the other from the tonttu of the Finnish sauna to the brounies of her Scottish home.

I read it once years ago and remembered it as a nice read and wanted to go back to it. I was glad that I did because it was a nice story. But I believe that's the best I can say of it. It was nice.

Well now I am in for the harder bit of staying up for the next 12 hours.

Wish me luck and I hope you all are enjoying your marathon!



Hour 7

Lucky Number 7.

A School for Unusual Girls (Stranje House, #1)I have just finished the second book of the day "A School for Unusual Girls" by Kathleen Baldwin.

Set between Napoleon's exile to Elba and his attempt to reclaim the continent Georgiana Fitzwilliam finds herself trying to develop a truly invisible ink to help the British in maintaining peace.

A cast set with 4 girls and their teacher Ms. Stranje this school is far more than meets the eye. Each girl having their own special talents they train to be able to enter the world of espionage.

My Thoughts:
This is definitely for a younger crowd than my last read. Shinn is more for college and beyond whereas this felt more high school. Not that I didn't enjoy it but it definitely felt younger. Several of the characters and some of the dialogue felt flat - and the action a little rushed. I found myself thinking - ah yes, here is the "oh my he touched me and I can still feel it even though we just met and I'm sure he hates me" cliche.

I do recognize that it's an extremely specific cliche but when you think about it - you know I'm right...it happens a lot.

It was fun - it did veer off of the history path which is always fun. Revised Historical Fiction is one of my favorite genres and I think I will find myself seeking out the sequel and reading it with pleasure.

Hour 3 update

I have finished my first book from today's Read-a-thon. It is one that I was coming back to reread.  Royal Airs by Sharon Shinn.
Royal Airs (Elemental Blessings, #2)
I love this series. I love Sharon Shinn, she is one of my favorite writers and I can't wait for the final installment of this series to come out...Any word on that Sharon??

Hers is a world based on the classic 5 elements and their human counterparts (I have already shared my feelings about Troubled Waters and deeper feelings on Royal Airs read deeper if you so desire) and it is one I love going back to. The next Chapters Jeweled Fire and Unquiet Land are just as jam-packed of adventure, with well rounded characters and I love them dearly.

They are actually one of the few series I own that is in hard back. Because I know that I will read them over and over.

I have a habit of signing and dating my books every time I finish them. (just the ones I own, not the ones borrowed from either library or friends.) I find that it's great to go back and to see when the last time I read it was. And think how much I have changed since my last reading

Anyway. I have already taken a shower break and I really don't know how but I'm already a little drowsy....ok I do know how - not nearly enough sleep last night...oops.

Check in with everyone later.

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Hour 0 Prep/Getting to Know Me.

Image result for too earlyGood Morning Happy People.

The sun is not out yet, the birds are singing and it is earlier than I would ever consider waking up under normal circumstances 
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...but these are not normal circumstances and I am so happy to be doing this.  

So to answer a couple of get to know me questions:

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?
Salt Lake City, Utah
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?


Toss up between "The Accidental Empress" by Allison Pataki or "The Hero with a Thousand Faces" by Joseph Campbell"

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?
I didn't go all out on the snack front this year, just popcorn, swedish fish, little spearmints to get me going. So I'm pretty chill.
4) Tell us a little something about yourself!
I'm living with a couple of roommates who aren't huge readers but who are wonderfully supportive of the read-a-thon plans. I really shouldn't be doing this this week as I'm going to Europe with a couple of friends on Tuesday...so I should be prepping for that...
5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?

This is not my first rodeo. I have done at least 4 other read-a-thons in the past. This time I will be a little more lax in the timing and probably will end up taking a nap somewhere between the 8-12 hour mark (not the whole time but for a bit) so that I can stay awake longer. I really do want to participate in as much as I can so I figured that for me this was the best way to go.


Anyway. Happy Reading everyone!

It's that time of year again!!!

Displaying 20170428_223201.jpgIt's time for the Dewey 24 hour Read-a-thon!!! I have done this several times in years past and I am so excited to get back to it. I have been prepping, stocking up on caffeine and popcorn and have a deep pile of books I'm hoping to get through.

I check in regularly and also be trying to get a handle on the whole instagram thing....I know I should be able to do that by now but hey, I'm late to the party social media-wise.

Anyway I hope you check in occasionally and I also hope that you read along - doesn't have to be for the full 24 hrs, but still feel free to join in and let me know what you are reading!


Friday, April 14, 2017

In the Shadow of Lakecrest


In the Shadow of LakecrestIn the Shadow of Lakecrest


By: Elizabeth Blackwell
Genre: Fiction, Historical, Gothic
Rating: 3.5 stars
Summary:
The year is 1928. Kate Moore is looking for a way out of the poverty and violence of her childhood. When a chance encounter on a transatlantic ocean liner brings her face-to-face with the handsome heir to a Chicago fortune, she thinks she may have found her escape—as long as she can keep her past concealed.


After exchanging wedding vows, Kate quickly discovers that something isn’t quite right with her husband—or her new family. As Mrs. Matthew Lemont, she must contend with her husband’s disturbing past, his domineering mother, and his overly close sister. Isolated at Lakecrest, the sprawling, secluded Lemont estate, she searches desperately for clues to Matthew’s terrors, which she suspects stem from the mysterious disappearance of his aunt years before. As Kate stumbles deeper into a maze of family secrets, she begins to question everyone’s sanity—especially her own. But just how far will she go to break free of this family’s twisted past?


My Thoughts:


I will start out by saying that Gothic stories are not my favorite. I don't have much patience for the woman going mad story. I prefer to cut to the chase, figure out what is going on and actually having problems that you are capable of facing. Ghosts are not my things, thinking that you are being driven insane is also not my thing, being put in a position where you feel that all of your power is taken away from you - MOST DEFINITELY NOT. MY. THING.

 
I read it in just 2 days - so it was compelling. Irritating as anything, but compelling.


Kate makes a case for not marrying a man until you know who your mother-in-law is going to be. The first Mrs. Lemont is controlling, cold, manipulative and really I couldn't find anything redemptive about her. She is the spider and everyone in her family is caught in a web of her design and she comes across - at least to me - as flat out evil. Emphasis on the "flat" there wasn't enough of a development of her character to make her compelling. 


With all of the frustration from the MIL I will say that this was a book that made my lunch hours fly by. I was entertained by it and I needed to read it faster so that the book would actually get to the part that it had been hinting at so heavily.

If I find more of Elizabeth Blackwell's work I will definitely give it a go though this isn't a book that I would buy for my shelves. 


I was given a galley of this book in exchange for an honest review. 





Monday, March 13, 2017

Everything


AlwaysAlways


by 
Genre: General Fiction
Rating 3.5 stars

Summary:

While enjoying a romantic candlelit dinner with her fiance, Ryan, at one of Seattle's chicest restaurants, Kailey Crane can't believe her good fortune: She has a great job as a writer for the Herald and is now engaged to a guy who is perfect in nearly every way. As they leave the restaurant, Kailey spies a thin, bearded homeless man on the sidewalk. She approaches him to offer up her bag of leftovers, and is stunned when their eyes meet, then stricken to her very core: The man is the love of her life, Cade McAllister. 

When Kailey met Cade ten years ago, their attraction was immediate and intense everything connected and felt "right." But it all ended suddenly, leaving Kailey devastated. Now the poor soul on the street is a faded version of her former beloved: His weathered and weary face is as handsome as Kailey remembers, but his mind has suffered in the intervening years. Over the next few weeks, Kailey helps Cade begin to piece his life together, something she initially keeps from Ryan. As she revisits her long-ago relationship, Kailey realizes that she must decide exactly what and whom she wants. 



My Thoughts:


I have difficulty figuring out how I felt about this book. There aren't very many books that I actually like the whole flip-flopping between two time periods. Kate Morton is one of the few authors where I have to read what is going on with each generation/time period. About halfway through I just passed on all of the parts taking place in the 90's. I knew how that part would end and that the mystery wouldn't be resolved there but rather in the present time.


It was good subject matter. I live and work in an area that has a rather high homeless population and it really is easy to forget that these people didn't start out here, they had a past and perhaps - if they accept help - they can have a much better future. 


Kailey is a well rounded woman - at least she would be if Cade hadn't suddenly popped into her life. The feminist part of me is thinking "Girl, finish your work focus on the life you have and don't let some boyfriend from the past mess it up." The nurturing part of me thinks "good job, way to take care of your man - even if he hasn't been yours for a long time." The only thing that drove me nuts was the fact that she wasn't straight up and honest with Ryan.  I think that it was a childish move and that she could have avoided a lot of pain had she done the adult thing and practiced open communication with her partner.

Overall I thought it was decent. I'm not racing out to purchase my own hard copy, but if I see anything else by Jio I most likely will get it. 


I received a galley for free in exchange for a review. 

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Victoria


30841109Victoria

Genre: Historical Fiction

Rating: 5 Stars

Summary: In 1837, less than a month after her eighteenth birthday, Alexandrina Victoria – sheltered, small in stature, and female – became Queen of Great Britain and Ireland. Many thought it was preposterous: Alexandrina — Drina to her family — had always been tightly controlled by her mother and her household, and was surely too unprepossessing to hold the throne. Yet from the moment William IV died, the young Queen startled everyone: abandoning her hated first name in favor of Victoria; insisting, for the first time in her life, on sleeping in a room apart from her mother; resolute about meeting with her ministers alone.

One of those ministers, Lord Melbourne, became Victoria’s private secretary. Perhaps he might have become more than that, except everyone argued she was destined to marry her cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. But Victoria had met Albert as a child and found him stiff and critical: surely the last man she would want for a husband….


My Thoughts:

"Your subjects are not dolls to be played with...To be a queen, you have to be more than a little girl with a crown."

I love Goodwin. She is one of my top 5 current authors and I always want to read whatever she has written. The American Heiress is one of my absolute favorites. So when I saw she wrote about the beginning of Queen Victoria's reign I was so excited.

She didn't disappoint.

I have read a lot about Victoria - her tempestuous relationship with her mother, her love story with Albert and of course the scandals in the beginning of her reign with the whispers of Lord Melbourne - and Goodwin wove all of the history together brilliantly. I often forget that the greats of history were teenagers at some point - I mean I'm currently 7 years older than Victoria was when she took her crown and while she was more prepared than I will ever be to run a country, Goodwin allowed for her to be an 18 year old and showed her missteps and corrections.

It was beautiful to read. Well written, well researched and simply a joy. I would recommend this for anyone who has any interest at all in Queen Victoria.

I was given a galley copy in exchange for an honest review

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The Magdalen Girls


The Magdalen GirlsThe Magdalen Girls


Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 3 Stars
Summary: Dublin, 1962. Within the gated grounds of the convent of The Sisters of the Holy Redemption lies one of the city’s Magdalen Laundries. Once places of refuge, the laundries have evolved into grim workhouses. Some inmates are “fallen” women—unwed mothers, prostitutes, or petty criminals. Most are ordinary girls whose only sin lies in being too pretty, too independent, or tempting the wrong man. Among them is sixteen-year-old Teagan Tiernan, sent by her family when her beauty provokes a lustful revelation from a young priest.

Teagan soon befriends Nora Craven, a new arrival who thought nothing could be worse than living in a squalid tenement flat. Stripped of their freedom and dignity, the girls are given new names and denied contact with the outside world. The Mother Superior, Sister Anne, who has secrets of her own, inflicts cruel, dehumanizing punishments—but always in the name of love. Finally, Nora and Teagan find an ally in the reclusive Lea, who helps them endure—and plot an escape. But as they will discover, the outside world has dangers too, especially for young women with soiled reputations.


My Thoughts:

Wow - well first off, I didn't know what I was getting into when I picked this up. It was definitely judging a book by it's cover - because I really love it. But the subject matter was hard for me to read. It was a part of history that I didn't know existed - at least in this fashion. I knew about women being locked in insane asylums when they didn't fall in line with the societal norms but I didn't know the religious side of it. 

Alexander did a good job at trying to not demonize the Catholic church while still showing the indignities that occurred. 

It was a book that left me angry and frustrated for the characters - for the fact that there was no way for their voice to be heard - for the lack of justice and mercy. It went against the grain of innocent until proven guilty and just left me with a bad taste in my mouth. I think Teagan was the one who gave me the most grief. She was put in simply because a priest (who really had no business joining the clergy) was having "impure thoughts" about her. And just like that her parents signed her over to the custody of the nuns with no sign of ever taking her back. So many times she tried to tell the truth, explain what happened and no one would listen to her simply because she was fallen. 

Being a Christian myself the whole scenario left me feeling terrible. In no way did the actions reflect the teachings of Christ - but as I earlier stated, Alexander wrote this in such a way that while the local leaders we dealt with drove me crazy she didn't condemn the Church as a whole.

Overall, if you want to find out more about a little known bit of history go for it.

I was given a galley copy in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

What a Disappointment...


Harry Potter and the Cursed Child


By: John Tiffany and Jack Thorne.
Genre: Drama (It's a script after all)
Rating: Goodness, like 2 stars.


Here it is, the big one, the one we've all been waiting for...Harry Potter and the Cursed Child!

And what a load of rubbish it was. Let's make one thing very clear - ROWLING DID NOT WRITE THIS. Her's might be the biggest name on the cover but she didn't write this book. I am very disappointed with the results Jo. And so is Minerva.


While perhaps the story might have come from her, the words most certainly did not. I was not at all reading the same characters in this script which I grew up reading and listening to almost daily at some points. (It helped me go to sleep as a child, it's almost impossible for me to read the books without Jim Dale narrating for me.)

The story was good and when I get to go and see the play I know that it is going to be phenomenal. The magic that those stage hands are going to have to do, the technical work that will have to be done. Goodness it is going to be amazing. 
But this was not Rowling's characterization, these were not her words. It got frustrating at times to read because all I could think of is THIS. IS. NOT. RIGHT.  
The part that was the worst was the fact that in the alternate universe they freely used the Dark Lord's name. Voldemort was said all over the place. That is in direct conflict to what Voldemort stood for - the fear, mystery and intimidation which surrounds him. We remember that "fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself." Even in the 7th book when the ministry had fallen and the dark powers were in charge he made it taboo. That part of his mentality was never going to change.
Nor was he capable of having a child. Nope, nope, nope. His lust was for power, his drive was all funneled toward his ambitions, his release from death and torture. To imagine that he had a child with Bellatrix? Esp. when we clearly saw a not at all pregnant version of her when escaping from Malfoy Mannor.



Read on if you dare, there are spoilers in the rants.

And then there is the relationship between Scorpius and Albus which while reading makes me wonder if Scorpi's obsession with Rose is merely a cover up. 

This is NOT the 8th installment of the series. This is just bad fan fiction - granted it did better by the Harry Potter series than 50 Shades did to Twilight. But goodness, not worth the hype, time or money. (But I am still excited for the play, just because the stage directions promise that this will be great.)

Friday, February 27, 2015

Friday Reads - Save Me


Save MeSave Me

By: Kristyn Kusek Lewis
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4 stars

Summary:
Daphne Mitchell has always believed in cause and effect, right and wrong, good and bad. The good: her dream job as a doctor; Owen, her childhood sweetheart and now husband; the beautiful farmhouse they're restoring together. In fact, most of her life has been good--until the day Owen comes home early from work to tell her he's fallen head over heels for someone else.

Unable to hate him, but also equally incapable of moving forward, Daphne's life hangs in limbo until the day Owen's new girlfriend sustains near-fatal injuries in a car accident. As Daphne becomes a pillar of support for the devastated Owen, and realizes that reconciliation may lie within her grasp, she has to find out whether forgiveness is possible and decide which path is the right one for her.

My Thoughts:
"You can never know the truth about anyone's marriage, including your own" -Nora Ephron

That was a great quote to set the book rolling. Daphne is coming home from a business trip - something routine, she plans for her husbands birthday dinner, only to come home to the announcement that he has fallen in love with someone else. 

This was enough of a draw to get me involved. Not because of the physical messiness that was potential here. But because Lewis did her best to go through all of the various shades of emotional turmoil that this kind of event - which sadly is all too common - could cause.  Owen easily could be written off as the bad guy and this turn into another one of those books of woman independence, finding yourself outside of your relationships, and whatnot which are very prevalent in today's culture. But Lewis did far more than that.

She explored where relationships come from, what they need to thrive and how and when is the time to draw the line. Owen was far from the bad guy. He wasn't excused for his actions. But it seemed to be a case of life rather than something where you can suddenly point fingers and everything is black and white.

I was surprised by it's ending. And am still not quite sure how I feel about it. But it was definitely one that left me thinking. 

This novel explores fidelity, love and what is needed to keep a marriage going and I recommend it. 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

YA Wednesday - Princess of Thorns


Princess of ThornsPrincess of Thorns

By; Stacey Jay
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Rating: 4 stars

Summary:
With the kindom at the mercy of soul-stealing ogres, the next generation of Sleeping Beauty  is in for a fight that no amount of fairy blessings could prepare them for. 

Given fairy blessings from her mother, Princess Aurora has been given the tools needed to end the reign of her evil step mother. Given superior fighting abilities, mercy and bravery Ror has everything necessary. But all magic comes with a price and Ror was also cursed to destroy the free will of any male who kisses her. Disguised as her brother, she goes out to save the kingdom, in the process finding the cursed Prince Niklaas who joins her in her quest to fight legions of evil and free her brother from the ogre queen who stole Aurora's throne ten years ago. 

My Thoughts:
Well, this was a sequel that I had never thought about. This takes what happens after "Happily Ever After" to a whole new meaning.  It also shows how not all blessings are blessings and even things which seem like curses can be to our benefit.

Princess Ror is impetuous, cunning and loyal to a fault. She loves her brother and would do anything to save him from the ogres who hold him captive. This requires raising an army, staging a revolt and killing the ogre queen all before the end of summer. She is a princess who sometimes is impossible to like. She pushes away others ideas, can't seem to see any other path than what is before her and will stop at nothing to achieve her goals.

In short she is a teenager -  a very driven teenager, I'll give you that but a teenager none the less. She knows what is best even if it hurts pretty much everyone around her in the process. And with this hubris, she is going to need her growing up moment and that is a painful, but almost beautiful thing to watch.

I love fairy-tales, always have, and I found this blend of a young woman who seemed to come out of Divergent''s 'dauntless' group an interesting fit. She actually did remind me of Tris, in how Ror tried to push out every spark of mercy she could to achieve her ends. (That was why I really didn't like Divergent. I didn't feel like there was any redemption for Tris...) But it was Ror's ending which redeemed her and which made the book a great read.

I liked the weaving narrators - of seeing the ogre's thoughts and motivations. Of seeing the sudden realization of Ror when it all comes coming to pieces around her and her determination to build back up.

If you like fairy-tales and remakes, or strong female leads (WITHOUT LOVE TRIANGLES!!! YAY!!!) then give this a shot. You will enjoy it.


Monday, February 23, 2015

Misc Monday: Love Water Memory


Love Water MemoryLove Water Memory

By: Jennie Shortridge
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 3.5 stars
Caution for conservative readers - multiple uses of strong expletives and adult content.

Summary:
Who is Lucie Walker? Even Lucie herself can't answer that question after she comes to, confused and up to her knees in the chilly San Francisco Bay. Back home in Seattle, she adjusts to life with amnesia, growing unsettled by the clues she finds to the selfish, carefully guarded person she used to be. Will she ever fall in love with her handsome, kindhearted fiance, Grady? Can he devote himself to the vulnerable, easygoing Lucie 2.0, who is so unlike her controlling former self? When Lucie learns that Grady has been hiding some very painful secrets that could change the course of their relationship, she musters the courage to search for the shocking, long-repressed childhood memories that will finally set her free.


My Thoughts:
What an interesting premise. What would you do if one day you found yourself somewhere with no memory of how you got there, nor of who you were? And what are you to do if that happens to someone you love?

It was an idea which got me thinking. What would I do in that position. Which of my habits would I go back to and what would I think was idiotic/strange/foreign? Lucie wonderfully captured what I imagine all of the confusion, heart ache and loss which would come with such an event. So many times trying to figure out who she was, and who she is going to choose to become. It was great to see her rebuild from the tragedy and become a woman even better than she was before. 

Throwing in an approaching wedding added a depth of complexity. Could Grady still love a woman who was so entirely different from the one he proposed to? Both versions of Lucie were so completely different but Grady managed to find the similarities, and I liked seeing the two of them begin to reconnect.

I just wished that it hadn't been so needlessly laced with profanity. Are there times that call for it - occasionally it can be justified. But there was just too much of it for me personally.

I liked the premise and the characters, it was well executed. 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

The Secret Keeper


The Secret Keeper The Secret Keeper

by: Kate Morton
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 5 stars

Summary:
1961 England. Laurel Nicolson is sixteen years old, dreaming alone in her childhood tree house during a family celebration at their home, Green Acres Farm. She spies a stranger coming up the long road to the farm and then observes her mother, Dorothy, speaking to him. And then she witnesses a crime.

Fifty years later, Laurel is a successful and well-regarded actress, living in London. She returns to Green Acres for Dorothy’s ninetieth birthday and finds herself overwhelmed by memories and questions she has not thought about for decades. She decides to find out the truth about the events of that summer day and lay to rest her own feelings of guilt. One photograph, of her mother and a woman Laurel has never met, called Vivian, is her first clue.

My Thoughts:
I love Kate Morton, always have. I still have difficulties determining which of her books are my favorites. This one just might take the cake. I finished it three days ago and I still can't get over how amazing it is. So many twists and turns in Laurel's search to find the truth and if a book can keep me guessing we know that excellent plot logic is at work. 

One of my favorite parts of all of Morton's work is how she writes. She writes for those who love literature and the written word. 

This story just kept me going and going and going. There were about 50 pages left and I was wondering how she was going to tie everything together and then when she did I just had to put the book down for the second and say "wow." It left me thinking about it and nothing else for a good day or so after I had finished it.

And so my friends if you find yourself stuck inside because of snow, or if you have a weekend and you want to get caught up in a novel - please, please, pick up The Secret Keeper. It really is one of the best books I have read. 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Friday Read - All Other Nights


All Other NightsAll Other Nights

By: Dara Horn
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 4 stars

Summary:
"How is tonight different from all other nights? For Jacob Rappaport, a Jewish soldier in the Union army during the Civil War, it is a question his commanders have already answered for him - on Passover, 1862, he is ordered to murder his own uncle in New Orleans, who is plotting to assassinate President Lincoln. After this harrowing mission, Jacob is recruited to pursue another enemy agent, the daughter of a Virginia family friend. But this time, his assignment isn't to murder the spy, but to marry her." Based on real personalities such as Judah Benjamin, the Confederacy's Jewish secretary of state and spymaster, and on historical facts and events ranging from an African American spy network to the dramatic self-destruction of the city of Richmond, All Other Nights is a story of men and women driven to the limits of loyalty and betrayal. It is also a parable of the rift in America that lingers a century and a half later: between those who value family and tradition first, and those dedicated, at any cost, to social and racial justice for all.

My thoughts:
I listened to this one rather than reading it - but it was a great way to pass time in the car as I drove around on errands and heading to and from my classes.

This was an aspect of history that I had never even thought of - spies in the Civil War. And then to get even more detailed let's take it up a notch with Jewish spies in the Civil War. This topic was wonderfully researched and chosen in my mind. The attention to details, to how the lines moved back and forth, adding in the Jewish culture - so often over looked in the finaces and weaving in characters such as Judah Benjamin and Edwin Booth made the listening experience so enjoyable.

Jacob was hard to listen to sometimes - I just wanted him to grow a spine, to say no. To refuse to kill his uncle or to have more strength than to play with the heart of a girl, even if she was a confederate spy. I wanted him to stand up to his commanding officers and make them realize what all they were asking of him. But the beauty of the book is that Jacob wanted the same things of himself.He was horrified to see how easily he did it himself.  It was an example of  how flawed a character can be and yet we still root for him. Because in him we find ourselves.

There were some amazingly cringe-worthy moments of antisemitism in there too. But it was accurately reflecting sentiments of the time. I am amazed at how far we have come. Not because of where we are now, but because of how bad the world used to be. 

For those who are wanting a Civil War novel (it is most definitely a novel) with a thrilling plot which keeps going until the end I would highly recommend All Other Nights.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

YA Wednesday - Royal Airs


15808431Royal Airs

By: Sharon Shinn
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 4.5 stars

Summary:
Josetta is a princess of one of the Five Families. But she is far from the throne, so she is free to spend her days working in the poorest sections of the city. 

Rafe Adova, an outcast since he was born, lives the life of a career gambler in those slums. He has no ambition other than cheating at the card tables—until the night he decides to help a girl named Corene, who looks like she's stumbled into the wrong bar. She, too, is a princess—sister to Josetta, who finds her with Rafe. He fascinates her. 

Josetta has never encountered anyone like him—someone seemingly devoid of elemental blessings. He is drawn to her, though he thinks they are unlikely to ever meet again—but their connection grows strong when she nurses him back to health after he is assaulted by foreign mercenaries.

And when they learn the reason he's being hunted, they know that the truth about his history could endanger not only their love but also their very lives...

My Thoughts:
I love Shinn, she is one of my favorite authors, so when I saw the second book of a series that I absolutely love I was so happy! This world is one of the favorites that I have read. (see Troubled Waters the first in the series) Along with wonderful world building, there are great characters. Josetta is the kind of woman who I would want to go to lunch with, and to see a young woman just trying her best to make the world better was a breath of fresh air.

And Rafe is a great male lead. It is great to see how the two of them help each other in thier whole comming-of-age journey. Rafe is resourceful, honorable, intelligent, but oh so directionless. I feel very much the same right now (directionless...I'm not sure how I measure on all of the other traits) and to see him fighting to find his own way felt real.

One of my favorite lines was about - when seeing something good and normal come into Josetta's life - her body guard tells her "You have led such an extraordinary life until now, it is nice to see something ordinary happening to you." The idea that love and family are the ordinary things in our lives was so sweet. 


The whole story was well woven, well written and I read it in one night. I can't wait for the next in the series to come out and I hope that she continues through all of the elements of her world.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

YA Wednesday - The Girl in the Steel Corset


The Girl in the Steel Corset (Steampunk Chronicles, #1)The Girl in the Steel Corset

By: Kady Cross
Genre: Steampunk, YA
Rating: 3.5 Stars

Summary:
In 1897 England, sixteen-year-old Finley Jayne has no one... except the "thing" inside her.

When a young lord tries to take advantage of Finley, she fights back. And wins. But no normal Victorian girl has a darker side that makes her capable of knocking out a full-grown man with one punch...

Only Griffin King sees the magical darkness inside her that says she's special, says she's one of them. The orphaned duke takes her in from the gaslit streets against the wishes of his band of misfits: Emily, who has her own special abilities and an unrequited love for Sam, who is part robot; and Jasper, an American cowboy with a shadowy secret.

Griffin's investigating a criminal called The Machinist, the mastermind behind several recent crimes by automatons. Finley thinks she can help and finally be a part of something, finally fit in.

But The Machinist wants to tear Griff's little company of strays apart, and it isn't long before trust is tested on all sides. At least Finley knows whose side she's on even if it seems no one believes her.

My Thoughts:
This book, has a great story, a fun plot, characters who I adore - it's steampunk, which is my favorite thing ever right now, but it did not in anyway live up to the standards set by Gail Carriger (and one more). The writing, or better said editing, didn't help the story reach it's full potential. I loved Finley, and how different sci-fi stories such as Jekyll and Hyde, Journey to the Center of the Earth, and Frankenstein were all woven into the narrative. I am not a love triangle fan, but this one was ok, I am excited to see how Finley will resolve this in the future. 

My main problems are best summarized in how when asking for forgiveness a character just looks and says "We good?" WHAT? This isn't taking place in downtown LA or in modern society for that matter. If you are trying to convince me that this is in London, stop with the slang and let the characters speak how they are supposed to. It irked me to no end to see this pop up through out the novel. Also if I figure things out about 250 pages before the characters it's a problem. 

It had potential to be amazingly wonderful, but because of poor editing it fell flat. Though, I will be reading the sequel because I love the characters that much

Buried Secrets

Buried Secrets By: Rachel Good Genre: Christian Fiction Rating: 4 stars Summary: Three years after the accident that almost claimed he...