Monday, August 31, 2015

Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas

   This is the third installment in the Throne of Glass series.   It was quite enjoyable as it continued to grow the story and introduce new characters, who I am not sure yet how they will weave into the larger plot.

All our favorite characters are there:  Aelin ( celeana)  has finally accepted who she is and accepted her destiny - a destiny that only she can fulfill.  Darion - has embraced his power, loved and lost.  Choal continues to decide just who's side he's one... once and for all.

In addition to all that though, we get three of my favorite characters:  Manon, Abraxius, and Rowan.   Manon is a wtich working for the King of Ardlan.  Abraxius is her wyvern - once a bait dragon, now wing commander of the 13.  Will Manon and Abraxius actually fight for Ardalan?   It remains to be seen but their relatioship definitely adds something to the story.  And of course, Rowan, the Fae warrior who teaches Celaena.   I love his sorrow, his anger, his loyalty..... These are all great and well developed characters.  I am really looking forward to seeing how this series ends and yet, dreading the end, all at the same time.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen

Product DetailsIt's that time of year when I start thinking about fall and all things magical.  This one had been on my TBR pile for a little bit.  I loved the first book I read of hers, Garden Spells, so I thought I would give this one a try.

It is the story of Eby and her husband George.  It is also the story of Kate and her daughter, Devin.  The story moves back and forth in time and touches on not just these main characters, but a colorful cast of individuals from the real estate tycoon who wants to develop Lost Lake to Selma, a regular visitor who believes she can use charms to attain any married man that she sets her cap for.

It's a wonderful book about love and second chances, but also about finding what you need.  I enjoyed it thoroughly and have just added all her other books to my already burgeoning TBR pile.  If you enjoy a touch of magic, make sure to pick this one up.  I gave it 4 out of 5 stars.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Flight of Fantasy Update - Buy, Borrow, Bypass

It's been about a month and a half since I updated my progress on my Flights of Fantasy progress.  I read 7 books from the fantasy genre to add to my list - now making my count 30 out of my goal of 50.

Here they are.  First the BUY choices:

~Emily and Einstein by Linda Francis Lee.  This is an endearing novel of second chances  with a healthy dose of the supernatural.  If you are an animal lover, this one is a must.  So touching!

~The Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard.  I was a little hestitant about this one at first.  I was worried it was going to get too caught up in the romance but it surprised me.  I LOVED this one and already have the sequel, The Glass Sword, on preorder.  I can't wait.

~Armada by Ernest Cline.  It's not Ready Player One, but then it's a different genre really.  If you are a lover of Star Wars, Star Trek, and all things 80's.... this one is for you.

~Daughter of Smoke and Bone - by Laini Taylor.  This one was so beautifully written, so detailed and descriptive.  I could see the places and people and I thought that plot had very unique aspects.  I will definitely be finishing this series.


~The Girl in Between by Laekan Zea Kemp.   This book has the most amazing premise - it's about a girl with a sleeping disorder who isn't supposed to dream, but she does.  Her dreamscape is comprised mostly of memories until one day, a boy she doesn't not know washes up on the beach. I am looking forward to book 2.  I may even buy it.

Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson - Tiger Lily was always my favorite character in Peter Pan and I always felt she was the least developed.  This book made me see Tiger Lily and all my favorite characters in a new light.


~Sabriel by Garth Nix.  I have to say that for me, this one was a huge disappointment.  It just didn't engage me.  I thought that the characters were two dimensional and I didn't really feel a connection with any of them.  I will not be finishing this series.  I just didn't care enough to continue.

The Girl in Between by Laekan Zea Kemp

   I read this book because the title and the cover intrigued me.  I had just gotten my new Kindle and this book was free, so I thought I would try it out.  It's a very interesting premise.  This is the story of Bryn, a girl with a rare sleeping disorder.  Sometimes she sleeps for months at a time and she dreams.  What's weird is that she isn't supposed to.

Her dreamscape is more like a collection of places and things from her memories.  Until one day, a boy she has never met before shows up on the beach.   I don't want to give too much away but I will say that nothing is coincidence.  Fast paced, intruiging romance with a healthy dash of mystery thrown in.  I gave this one 4 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Book Store

  I happened upon this book by accident.  Oh, it's been sitting on my TBR list for a while, neither moving up nor down.   I had heard some buzz about it here and there but not enough to move me in a positive direction.   Then, the other day, I was at the library to get my new card.  I had a list of 10 books that I wanted to check out.  ( The library only had one of them and it's terrible....)  At any rate, as I was searching the stacks.... there it was.... as if by magic.

This is the story of Clay, an unemployed artist who gets a job at a 24 hour book store and solves a great mystery in the process.   I truly can't say more than that as I don't want to give the discovery away.   I will say that I loved the abstract connection to my own life and a submarine that my husband was stationed on the USS West Virginia.

I loved this book.  Every minute of it.  The right book at the right time, indeed.   Find that comment crytic?  Do yourself a favor and move this one up to next on your own TBR pile.  It's that good.  5 out of 5 stars.

Friday, August 14, 2015

A Ride Into Morning: The Story of Tempe Wick by Ann Rinaldi

A Ride into Morning: The Story of Tempe Wick   I have a thing for historical fiction and the Revolutionary war is one of my favorite time periods.   This book hit on both counts.   This is the story of a young woman, Tempe Wick, and her cousin Mary who do what they can to survive the war and aid the Patriots.

The story takes place in Pennsylvania, not too far from Valley Forge.  It is the true story of the Pennsylvania line and the mutiny that almost happened.  Tempe is a legend for refusing to give her horse to the mutineers.  This is her story.

As a side note   I love the symbolism in the book - the way that so may assocaited Tempe's horse, Colonel, with Freedom.  The imagery of riding so fast that you "ride into morning"  really gives you an image in your mind of what that horse must have been like.   All and all it was an enjoyable read.  4 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Commoner by John Burnham Schwartz

The Commoner    This is the endearing story of Haruko, a commoner, who marries the Crown Prince of Japan in the 1950's.   It's about a departure from tradition,that isn't as much of a departure as one may hope.

I loved the beginning part of this book - parts 1 and 2.   These describe Haruko's childhood, her education and most importantly, her relationship with her parents.  The interactions between Haruko and her father are especially endearing.   Enter the Crown Prince.  They meet at a tennis match.   He falls in love with Haruko because of her independent spirit but, even so, it is obvious from the beginning that a relationship between them will face challenges.

The biggest of these challenges is the current Empress of Japan - one of the most odious characters ever captured in print.

My biggest critique of this book is that I wanted MORE.  I wanted more details.  I wanted the characters, other than Haruko, to be fleshed out a bit more.  I wanted to know how an independent woman could let certain things happen?  The book could have been twice as long and I think would have been improved by more heft.  Still,  I enjoyed.  3 out of 5 stars for a skimpy second half.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The End of an Era, Why I'm Leaving Barnes and Noble for Good....

I have been a loyal Barnes and Noble customer for more years than I can remember.  My membership card is older than my 16 year old daughter and I have been a Nook customer since the first edition came out in 2009.  This is it.  The end of an era.  I am leaving Barnes and Noble for good.

It all startd with an order of 6 books for my daughter's birthday.  I ordered them on the 5th of July and by the 15th they still hadn't shipped.  I had, however, been charged 4 times for the same order.  So essetially Barnes and Noble had over $200 of my money somewhere out in limbo for an order that wasn't even on it's way to me.  No problem,  I called customer service expecting a quick and speedy recovery of my funds.   Not so.   I called and was assured by their sales audit department that my money would be put back into my account.  Two days later that still had not happened.  I called back and talked to a sales audit supervisor, named Odell to rectify the situation.  He was outright RUDE.  He told me that I hadn't been injured by the fact that his company had my money for an order they hasn't even filled.   I warned him this would happen.  Poor customer service is just not something I can tolerate and this was the absolute worst.  It took me going to my bank and telling them that these charges were unauthorized to rectify the situation.  Almost 5 days after the initail report of the incident.  Unacceptable.
I finally had to cancel the order and place it with Amazon.  Two days later, my order was delivered.  It was that simple.  No extra charges.  No bullshit.  Just DELIVERY of the product that I ordered.  This seems really simple but somehow Barnes and Noble was incapable of it.

Still, I had my Nook and I loved it.  I had 60 unread books on it, so I continued on.  Then something catastrophic happened - who knows what - and my nook broke.  Of course it was past it's warranty.  S So, I began to research the benefits of an Amazon Paperwhite.  It turns out there are many:  connectivity to social media, faster connections to dictionary lookup, battery time equivalent or better to that of glowlight, bigger memory storage, cheaper books ( 6 out of 20 randomly selected from my TBR list were significantly cheaper at Amazon, the others were the smae cost at both) and the list goes on.  So I ask myself, why should I be loyal to a company that clearly doesn't deserve it?  The answer is simple - it doesn't.  So I'm shredding my membership card, taking my over $500 a year in books alone and moving my business to Amazon.  Sorry Barnes and Noble, you had your chance. And you blew it.

This Song Will Save Your Life by Leilia Sales

This Song Will Save Your Life (German-language edition)   Well, my Nook is STILL busted so this was one of my Better World Books selections.  I gave it a 2 out of 5 stars, which some may think is a bit harsh, but I have my reasons.

This is the story of  Elise Dembowski, an awkward girl looking for her place to fit in. She struggles in highschool, not because she isn't smart, but because she is socially inept.   The beginning part of the book is about her attempt to take her own life, which even she realizes at the time that she does't actually want to do but that she is just seeking attention.  Months go by and she starts sneaking out of the house at night... just wandering when she comes across a warehouse nightclub where she seems to fit in.

I didn't like this book beacuse Elise engages in all sorts of harmful behaviors all for the need to fit in.  One of the worst, in my opinion  is engaging in a "relationship" of sorts with a boy/ that she knows is a snake. I'm so tired of female characters needed to be validated in some way by a man.  Hell I'm tired of it for real women, too.   The target audience is YA but I feel that this book is just too simplistic to have much in the way of real value.  I would not encourage my teenage daughters to read it.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Emily and Einstein by Linda Francis Lee

Emily and Einstein  My Nook died and I have been forced to read what was on hand.  Thankfully, this absolute treasure was in my TBR pile here at home. This was a powerful and uplifting book about second chances.

Sany Portman isn't a great guy, he's all charm and bluster.  His wife, Emily, is desperately in love with him but Sandy just can't keep it together.  He's going to ask for a divorce.... but then fate intervenes.

I don't want to go into the story too much, or give too much away.  It was wonderful - from start to finish.  I loved Emily's generous heart and her strength.  I highly recommend this book, and I give it 5 out of 5 stars.  It's like A Wonderful Life meets Marley and Me.  Have your kleenex handy but in a good way.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Open Road Summer by Emery Lord

Open Road Summer  I picked this one from Better World Books mainly for my daughter.  Then, my Nook died and I got desperate for something to read.  It is exactly as it appears: a simple, quick, quasi enjoyable YA novel about friendship and relationships.  It doesn't take a brain trust to read it and it will never change the world, but it was an entertaining way to spend an afternoon by the pool.  3 out of 5  stars.

Beneath the Surface: Killer Whales, SeaWorld and the Truth Beyond Blackfish by John Hargrove

Beneath the Surface: Killer Whales, SeaWorld, and the Truth Beyond Blackfish   I have been reading this book for a while.  It took me some time because it was very difficult for me to read.  It wasn't difficult because of the writing style, to the contrary, I found it extremely well written.  No, rather it was difficult because of the subject matter and I could only go so far at one time.

I know that SeaWorld was quite upset with this book, even going so far as to release decades old video of the author without his consent in an attempt to discredit him.  All that aside, I believe that John Hargrove went out of his way to be honest and fair.  This isn't a bash SeaWorld book but rather a real discussion on exactly what happens to Orcas in captivity and why.

The book starts off with a starry -eyed young man who dreams of whales.  Oh how I could relate!  I've always dreamt of whales and loved them, from the time I was a child.  Seeing them is like magic that every person, I believed, could experience.  Even as a child though, deep in my heart of hearts, I knew that being able to experience that magic wasn't right, that what brought me so much joy, brought them so much sadness.

John discusses in detail what it was like to be a trainer -the background necessary, the tests and education you had to have, the experiences.  It was very eye opening.  I loved how he talked about every interaction between whale and trainer had to be documented at SeaWorld - a practice that he believed and stated promoted safety for both parties.  But the other things - the food deprivation, the processes of artificial insemination, the boredom of those poor whales.  It was all just so horrific.

I know and have always know that Orcas are simply too big, too socially complex and much too intelligent to be held in captivity.  I know it's right to empty the tanks.  If you doubt any of that, this book truly is an honest evaluation of the treatment of Orcas by SeaWorld.  Read it and judge for yourself.   5 out of 5 stars.