Friday, October 30, 2015

The Symmetry of Snowflakes by Paul Michael Peters

Product Details This story is set at Thanksgiving time and I was looking for something to help me start to wind up that holiday spirit.   I wasn't sure what to expect from this one, but for the most part, I really enjoyed it.  

Hank has a really complitcated family life.   His parents are divored and both had remarried several times.  His Thanksgiving routine to see all his relatives is something of an Olympic event.  He visits the grandparents, his multiple step - parents and even his estranged Dad.   It is a nice reminder that we all have relationships that can be complicated.   I could see the holiday parade and taste the hot chocolate.  I loved the friendships that Hank had with his friends from college.  I loved the nicknames because, for me, that made the characters more real.  I think that guys do give one another stupid nicknames and each one fit.

The only aspect in the book that I found.... confusing.... is the relationship between Hank and Erin.   Hank worked through so much to be with Erin but she didn't seem like she was always willing to do the same.

All in all though, this book was a solid 4 out of 5 stars for me and if you are looking for a book to kick off your holiday season, this is a good choice.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Stray by Elissa Sussman

 Aislynn is a princess, but her life isn't as charmed as it seems.  She is 16 and just coming out for her Introduction.   She needs to find a husband by the end of her 16th year, but if she fails, she will be Redirected from her path to become a fairy godmother.

I love fariytales.   I always have and I suspect I always will.  There is something about the magic, the life lessons, the warnings entailed in them all warning us not to stray.   This book is no different.  It is a highly original reimaging of classic fairytales- so new in fact that the reader may remember aspects of a story but the whole plot doesn't apply to this retelling.

Aislynn is a bit of a sheep in this book. always willing to believe what other people tell her.   Brigid, one of the kitchen help, is a much more interesting character, in my opinion.  Still, I have high hopes for Aislynn as the story continues.  This is a series and I expect to continue on with it at some point.   I gave this one 3 out of 5 stars and I look forward to seeing how this author further develops the story.

Friday, October 23, 2015

The Boy in Her Dreams by Laekan Zea Kemp

The Boy In Her Dreams by Laekan Zea Kemp    I read the first book in The Girl in Between series earlier this year.  I thought the premise of the first book was original and engaging.   This is the second book in the series.

Bryn has found Roman and managed to wake him from his coma, but not everything is as it seems.  Disheartened, she goes to Germany for further treatment of her sleeping disorder.  While there, both she and Roman gain insight into who and what they really are.

I'm all about fantasy novels.  I enjoy them quite a lot.   I loved the idea of a girl who could go into her dreams and effect changes in the real world.  However, even I had difficult suspending my disbelief for the revelations in this second book.   It just got a little too complex and strange.   The character development and relationships between characters wasn't nearly as good as it was in the first book.  This was just eh for me  Not continuing on with the series.   2 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Flights of Fantasy Reading Challenge Update - Buy, Borrow, Bypass Edition

 At my last update,  I had read 30 books out of 50 for this challenge,   I have seven new titles to add to this Buy, Borrow, Bypass post, bringing my total to 38 out of 50 for the challenge.  12 more to go!

So without further adieu....

The books that, if you love reading this genre as I do, you should buy and buy now.

Product Details

Product Details  Sara J. Maas is a masterful storyteller.  I have loved reading every single minute of her Throne of Glass series.   It has everything:  magic, dragons, strong female characters, friendships, evil  bad guys and epic battles.  Read it now if you haven't already.  Can't wait to read more from this author.  Just added her new book, A Court of Thorns and Roses to my TBR pile.

Product DetailsJust started this series, but after the first book, so far it has everything going on.   I love the premise of a girl who needs to hide who she is.   I love the friendships and the love traingle, but most of all,  I love the strong female lead in Alexa Hollen.    I can't wait to read the rest in this series.

Product Details  This is the story of a woman who agrees to electroshock therapy after losing her twin brother and her husband.   This is a great book that makes you question the things that are really important.  I enjoyed this one so much more than I initially thought I would.  

The Borrows:
Product DetailsI really do love Sarah Addison Allen's body of work.  She has a very lyrical way of writing and this book is no different.   It's about a woman who, after losing her husband, takes her daughter to a place from her childhood.  It's about friendship, family and forgiveness.   If you like books with a touch of magic, this one is for you.

Product DetailsThis was a new author for me, recommended by my mom.  It's a dystopian future where only some get to attend university.   The things that one needs to do to get there are often unimaginable.  Think of a cross between The Give and Divergent and you nailed it.   I loved the premise and I look forward to reading more in this series and more from this author.


Product DetailsThis one really pains me for several reasons.  First,  I really love this series - The Iron Fey.   I highly recommend books 1-4 for anyone who enjoys the genre - they are imaginative and wonderful!  I really love this author, I think she has so much potential - her world and character building  are fabulous.  BUT.... this book, just doesn't have it.  It's hard for me to believe this is even the same author.  I struggled to even finish it.  If you read the Iron Fey series - let it end at book 4.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Undivided by Neil Shusterman

Product Details  I started reading this series a few years ago.  It took me some time but I have finally completed the Dystology.   It is difficult to discuss UnDivided without going into my thoughts on the whole.  

In this final installment,  Lev, Risa and Connor are all working to finally end Proactive Citizenry.   Thanks to friends made along they way, they have in their possession, the means to end the need for unwinding forever.   Of course, those behind the Juvie cops and Proactive Citizenry aren't just going to sit around and allow that to happen.

Connor has always been a leader, but never more so that in this final installment.  I loved his compassion for those who would do him harm, as seen especially in the end of the book.   I really loved Cam in this book.   Cam is a person who was created by Proactive Citizenry as a composite from over 100 Unwinds to be the perfect soldier.  He is the perfect example of how life doesn't always work out the way that you expect it to.   The most touching part of this book for me was how PC inserted nanites into Cam's brain to make him forget Risa.   The thing is though, love can never really be erased.

All this said,  UnDivided was my least favorite of the Dystology.  It does an adequate job of wrapping up all the loose ends, (Pun intended)   but just didn't have the same energy as the first couple of books.   UnWind will forever be my favorite of the Dystology.

Still,  I highly recommend this series.   It is imaginative and worst of all,   you could almost see how this  dystopian future isn't that unlikely.   3 out of 5 stars for this book, 5 out of 5 for the series as a whole.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Modern Monsters by Kelley York

Product Details  I have to admit, the premise of this one intriguied me - a young man wrongly accused of rape from his perspective and how it impacted his life.   Vic goes to a party with his best friend, Brett.   While there, he sees a girl he knows, Callie, drunk out of her mind and throwing up.   He takes he inside the party, helps her, finds her a quiet place to lay down, gets her a waste paper basket and leaves her.  

Someone rapes Callie and the only person she can remember is Vic.  Her memories of him are hazy, because she was so drunk, so she accuses him of the heinous crime.  

The beginning part of the book - where Vic has to undergo  evidence collection and how the people in his life respond to him was interesting.  I am sure that this would be very similar to what  would happen.   After that, the book takes some strange turns.    Vic somehow becomes involved with Callie's best friend, Autumn.   Most girls I know would not get entangled with a  person accused of raping their friend, so this seemed either very unrealistic or extremely open minded for a teenage girl.

I thought that the interpersonal relationships between Brett and Vic and Vic and his mother, especially, could have been better developed.  For starting off in such a promising way, this book - for me- was only ok.  3 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells by Andrew Sean Greer

Product DetailsThis is the story of a woman who has undergone terrible tragedy.  She just lost her brother - her twin and then, to add insult to injury, her husband leaves her.    To deal with the tumult in her life, she decides to undergo electroshock therapy.   During the treatments, Greta somehow slips to alternative lives taking place in 1918 and 1941, as well as her own time, 1985.

In each life she finds all the people and places she loves.  Sometimes they are altered and Greta imagines perfected somehow.   What if you had a chance to glimpse your alternate lives, if such a thing were real?  What if you could hold on to the ones you loved just a little longer?

This book is sweet and very quick and yet, it really makes you question and have real, philosophical thoughts.  There were so many quotes in the this book that just really challenged me.  I'm going to share a few here:

THERE ALMOST HAS to be a heaven. If other worlds surround us, just a lightning bolt away, then what would stop us from slipping there? If love has left us, well, then there is a world where it has not. If death has come, then there is a world where it has been kept at bay. Surely it exists, the place where all the wrongs are righted, and so why had I not found that place?

“Who are we when we’re not ourselves?”

This is a powerful little book that gives you lots to think about.  It's magical.  5 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Defy by Sara B. Larson

Product Details
 This is the story of Alexa and her brother Mical.  They watch as their parents are murdered before their eyes by the invading Blevon army led by a black sorcerer.  In order to hide her identity and avoid the Breeding house, Alexa poses as a boy and joins the army.  Years later, she becomes the head of Crown Prince Damian's personal guard.

Things are not as they seem in this book.   Those that we think of as enemies are not necessarily so.  It's a book about friendship and being who you are.  Most of all, it's a quick enjoyable read.

 This is a wonderful fantasy YA novel with a very creative plot line.   I give this one 4 out of 5 stars.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

After You by Jojo Moyes

    I waited too long to read Me Before You ( the prequel to this book), so, when this book came out I purchased it right away.  I'm so glad I did!  

I loved all the characters in Me Before You but my favorites, of course, were Will and Lou.   I wanted Lou's story to go on, and it has in such a brilliant way!  Twists and turns in fate that I never saw coming challenge Lou in new ways.    This book is about holding on to what is important while, at the same time, letting go of the past to find the future.  As usual with Jojo Moyes, it is beautifully written with a rich cast of characters all fully developed.  There are new characters to love and dislike, old characters make a visit ( Patrick)  and old friends are all there waiting.

I never thought that I could love this book as much as Me Before You but I did.  If I could give them both 10 out of 5 stars, I would.   If, heaven forbid, you haven't read Me Before You,  DO IT NOW!   Then, when you finish, give yourself a few days and continue on with this lovely book.   This was  brilliant birthday present!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

Product Details  I have wanted to read this forever and having been putting it off for nearly as long because I knew it would be exactly what it is.... a fabulous book that made me cry.  A LOT.

It's a philosophy book hidden inside the wonderful story of a dog, Enzo, and his family.   His human, Danny, is a race car driver that is sort of down on his luck, he never seems to find the right brakes... and then he meets Eve and they have a beautiful daughter together.  It sounds like everything comes up roses, right?   Not exactly.

This book is about life and learning to deal with everything that it throws at you - the metaphorical title - you learn how to race in the rain.  I loved this book but it was extremely difficult for me to read.  You see, I've done the Cancer dance now and I really don't ever want to do it again.  My beloved Grandmother had the same type of cancer that one of the characters in the book gets.  The chapter with Enzo guarding this person through the night - it just KILLED me.

I also couldn't understand why Enzo thought humans were so wonderful, why he thought that dogs envolved into humans.   As for me, I think it's the other way around and maybe, if I'm lucky enough and work hard enough,  I'll come back as a dog in my next life.   This is a wonderful book, but have your tissues handy because you will need them   I was balling before the first chapter even finished.

5 out of 5 stars.

The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley

   This one has been waiting on my TBR pile for some time - it happens when your pile is well over 1000 books.   I came across it while I was browsing what was available on Kindle Unlimited and it, happily, moved to the top of my pile.

I have been a fan of books set in Scotland since I first fell in love with Jamie Frazer.  If you are a fan of Outlander, ( and who isn't?) , you know what I am talking about.   I also enjoy the occassional historical fiction.  This one is about a little known, but accuraate, period of time - a Jacobite uprising in 1708 - long before the Battle of Culloden.

I enjoyed this book thoroughly as it moved back and forward through time.  I found both the setting and characters to be delightful.  I gave it 5 out of 5 stars just for the pure joy of it.