Friday, December 30, 2016

Twisted Fate by Norah Olson

Twisted Fate by Norah Olson   I read this book for my goodreads challenge - a book with two perspectives.  This is the story of two sisters, Ally and Syd, and one boy - Graham.   The book didn't have a very promising start, but since my goal this year is to finish what I start, I pushed on.  I'm glad this book turned out to be more than I originally anticipated.

Graham is the boy next store.  He's good looking and troubled - your basic catnip for teenage girls.  I originally thought that this was going to be the story of how one boy gets in between two sisters, but the story didn't quite turn out like that.

It turns out that Graham has a troubled past and it seems that he is up to his old tricks.  I don't want to give too much of the plot away here, but his activities are extremely troubling.  I was amazed at the way that he found to use the internet to cover his wrong doings.

I did enjoy the plot twists that finally came into play about 1/3 of the way through.  I didn't enjoy the author's trite way of describing the sisters - the "good" girl - sweet, blonde, apple of her parents eye etc.... and the "bad" girl Syd - dark, skater, smart, rebellious, troubled.   Please.  This is tired.  Because of that I gave this book a 3.  It was only Eh for me.

Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty  This was the first book crossed off my list for my 2017 reading challenge.   I really enjoy Liane Moriarty's books and this one has been waiting on my kindle for a while.  I'm glad to get it read.

This is the story of a friendship between two women -  Clementine and Erika.  Both are married, seemingly happily,  but only Clementine has children.   Erika is the child of a hoarder and because of the conditions that she grew up in, she is unable to have children.  She and her husband, Oliver, have undergone multiple rounds of IVF to no avail.  Finally, they decide to approach Clementine about being an egg donor.   That's the basic back story for this book.

Erika and Oliver invite Clementine and Sam over to ask.   Meanwhile, their neighbor, Vin, has invited both couples to a BBQ at his house to which Erika agrees.   The majority of the events unfold at the BBQ.   In typical Moriarty fashion, the story moves backwards and forward through the storyline until bit by bit, what truly happens the night of the BBQ  to all the participants, is finally revealed.

I used this one for my 52 week reading challenge - a book from the 2016 goodreads award.   I gave it 4 stars.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Reading Goals for 2017.

So every year I set a reading goal.  I may not always achieve the weight loss, but if reading were a way to lose weight, I'd be the skinniest bitch you knew.   Seriously.   At any rate, my primary goal this year is to be more mindful and present when I'm reading, and to read more non-fiction.   I have at least 12 nonfiction books on tap this year and I'm both looking forward to that and a little nervous about it as they usually take me longer to process.  I also want to focus on books I already own and read those first, so those books were prioritized on my list.    I'm doing two reading challenges - PopSugar and Read Harder.    I know a lot of my friends think that I'm strange for doing these challenges but really,  I do it to read outside the box.  Invariably I find that one book that I just love - like Mr. Penumbra's Bookstore - that I would never have read if left to my own devices. 
I also have to have a PLAN   So every year I find the challenge I want to do and then plan out what I'm going to read.   This helps focus my reading.  Sometimes I read something for a category other than what I planned but it's good to start with a road map.  Here is mine for 2017.   I must say,  at least for literature,  it looks like a promising year. 

Reading Goals 2017
Wednesday, December 28, 2016
8:37 AM

Goodreads 2016  AwardsTruly Madly Guilty

A book with two perspectives - Twisted Fate

A Book you meant to read in 2016 - Creativity, Inc.

A Title that doesn't have an E - Two by Two

Historical Fiction - Mischling

A book being released as a movie - Hidden Figures

Animal on the cover - Wild Ones or Memoirs of a Polar bear

Book written by a person of color - The Darkest Child

Middle of TBR pile - Boy, Snow, Bird

Dual Timeline novel - The Shadowy Horses

Category from another challenge- Some Boys

Based on myth - The Penelopiad

Recommended by a favorite author - The Parable of the Sower

A Strong Female Character - Fang

Written or set in Scandanavia- The Rabbit Back Literature Society

A mystery- The Perfect Girl

Book with illustrations- Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World's Most Famous Bear

Book with 600 pages

NYT best seller- Modern Lovers

Already Owned  - The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper

Next in Series -  King's Cage

Author you haven't read before - Natchez Burning

BBC The Big Read list - The Wasp Factory

Written by two authors - The Queen

Book about a historical figure - Fire From Heaven

Adventure book - The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

Book by favorite author - the Horse Dancer

Non-fiction - Valiant Ambition

Indie published - The 100 Lies of Lizzie Lovett

Good Reads top 100 books - The Sky is Everywhere

5 words in the title - The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

Magical realism - Bone Gap

Author from southern hemisphere - The Secret Daughter

Main character is royalty - Sisters of Treason

Hugo award winner - The City and the City

Random choice - The Bone Clocks

Inspired by Classical Literature - Solsbury Hill

Epistolary Fiction - The Readers from Broken Wheel Recommend

Published in 2017 - Carve the Mark

Unreliable narrator - The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer

Best book of the 21st century - Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

Chilling atmosphere - Cold

What should I read next - The Kiss of Deception

One Word Title - Heartburn

Time Travel - the Invisible Library

Past Suggestion that didn't win -

Banned book - Cut

Book from someone else's shelf

Penguin Classic - The Woman in White

Short Stories - Paris for One

Set in a fictional location - The Wrath and the Dawn

A book recommended by a Librarian - Our Chemical Hearts

A book from bottom of TBR pile - The Stastistical Probability of Love at First Sight

A book of letters - Memoirs of an Invisible Man

A book with a season in the title - When Autumn Leaves

A book that is a story within a story - Scythe

An espionage thriller - Red Sparrow

A Book with a cat on the cover -

A book whose author uses a psuedonym

Best seller from genre you don't read - Slammed

A book about a person with a disability -  The  Princess Diarist

A book involving travel - Doon

A book published in 2017 - A Court of Wings and Ruin

A book involving mythical creatures - Seraphina

A book that makes you smile - The Year We Turned 40

A book about food -  Heartburn

A book with career advice - The Energy Bus

A book from a nonhuman perspective - Tooth and Claw

A steampunk novel - The Subtle Knife

A book with a red spine - This is where they found her

A book set in the wilderness -

A book you loved as a child - The Outsiders

A book from an author from another country - Britt Marie was here

A book whose title is a character's name - Bridget Jone's diary

A novel set during wartime - The Zookeepers Wife

Unreliable narrator - Remember Me This Way

A book with pictures - Finding Winnie - the True Story of the Worlds most Famous Bear

A book where the main character is a different ethnicity - Love in the Time of Global Warming

A book about an interesting woman - A Woman's Crusade

A book set in a different time period - Mischling

A book with a month or day in the title - The Wednesday Sisters

A book set in a hotel - a Gentleman in Moscow

A book written by someone you admire - The Heart Goes Last

A book set around Christmas - Dash and Lily's Book of Dares

First book in a series - The Shadow Queen

A book you bought on a trip -

A book recommended by an author -

A best seller from 2016 - Underground Railroad

A book with a family term in title - The Widower's Wife

A book that takes place over lifespan - Life After Life or dog book

A book about an immigrant - The Sun is also a Star

A book from a genre you've never heard of - The Slade House

A book over 800 pages - Shogun

A used book -  Johnny Got His Gun

Book Mentioned in another book -

Book about a difficult topic - If I Were Your Girl

Non- fiction to read:
Lost Girls
Leaving Orbit
No Better Friend
Spare Parts
How Children Succeed
Twelve Mighty Orphans
Girls of Atomic City
Darwin's Ghost

15 from TBR Pile:
The Book that matters Most
The Defense
Love and Summer
The Someday Jar
Gone Gone Gone
The Winner's Curse
Perfect match
City of Dark Magic
The Gift
The Unimagineable
Rebel of the Sands
Hawthorne and Heathcliff
The Outliers

Monday, December 26, 2016

The Best of 2016

Because I just have to be contrary,  I couldn't possibly come up with the top 10 books of the year,  I could only limit it to 12.   I rated 36 books as 5 stars this year.  You can see them on my 2016 challenge here   2016 Good Reads Challenge by Rating.   But in my opinion, the following were the best of the best that I read this year:

12.   Dark Matter by Blake Crouch   I absolutely love Blake Crouch.  His work is mind bending and really makes you think.  It started last year with The Pines and then, I saw this one.  I loved it from start to finish.  So much so that the phrase "Somewhere in the multiverse...."  is now common in my family.  If you enjoy books that alter your reality and make you think, check this one out.

The Humans by Matt Haig   This wonderful work was a book club read this year.  It's the story of an alien who comes to Earth to stop us from achieving dangerous potential.  What he learns is how to be human.  It was so much fun to see how humans might be perceived by other intelligent life.  The advice given in the book on what it means to be human is some of the best that I have read.  Uplifting and unusual. 

10. Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt  This was also a book club selection.  I would never have chosen to read this one for myself, but I loved it from start to finish.  As a child of the 80's  I remember Ryan White, the Aids epidemic and so much that happens in this book.   I loved the complexities of the relationships.  It was wholly satisfying from start to finish.

9.The Circle by Dave Eggers  I just finished this one and it still made it into the best of the year.   Very Orwellian in nature, I have no doubt that someday we will look back on this book and see how prophetic it was.

8. milk and honey by Rupi Kaur  I'm not usually into poetry but this book was so worth the read.  It's real and heartfelt and so relative, I really think that there is something that everyone can relate to in this book.  It's brave.  Probably one of the bravest things I've ever read because the author really lays herself bare for all the world to see.

7.A Thousand Boy Kisses by Tillie Cole  This book looks simple.  I read it because I loved the cover and I thought it would be this quick and easy YA novel.  This book was nothing that I expected it to be.  It packs ALL the feels from the very first page! I laughed, I cried and I loved every minute.   I highly recommend it.

6. Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult  Probably my favorite Picoult ever.  Previously my favorite was 19 Minutes, and if you read that book, you have to know how wonderful this one is to have unseated it as my favorite.  This tells a very complex story about race relations.  It's timely and it made me see my life in a whole new way.  It isn't every book that can do that.  Read it.

Mischling by Affinity Konar  Chosen by the NY Times as one of the best books of the year - they weren't kidding.  It's the story of a set of twins - Pearl and Sasha- who find themselves "patients" of Dr. Mengele in Aushwitz.   It's a timely reminder  of what happens when we register people and separate them for being different.

4. My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry by Fredrik Backman  This book and it's author, Fredrik Backman, was the discovery of the year.  I loved this book so very much!  This book tells relates how stories effect us and influence us, how we relate to one another through their pages.  Fredrik Backman is perhaps the greatest storyteller of our time.  Many authors write books but they don't all tell stories.  I also read A Man Called Ove and And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer.  They were ALL 5 stars but this one was my favorite.  I already have Britt Marie was Here on my TBR list for 2017 and his new book, Bear Town, on automatic download on my Kindle.  This author is one who, whatever he writes,  I will read it.  He's THAT good.

3.It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover  The most powerful book I read this year.   What a great message told within a beautiful story.   I love Colleen Hoover, anyone who reads my blog knows I am a big fan.   This is her best - bar none.  If you haven't read it, stop what you are doing and read it now.  Now.

2.A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas  I'm in love with this series.  As much as I loved the original book, A Court of Thorns and Roses,  this sequel is 1000 times better.  I love the strong female characters but then, all the characters have a depth to them - all are more than they appear.  It's refreshing to read a writer who puts so much into character and world development.  I read everything that Sarah J. Maas writes - she never disappoints.  I am waiting on pins and needles for the next installment.  I MUST know what happens.   I had a book hangover for weeks after finishing this one...

and the BEST book that I read in 2016, and you can see it's in some pretty exclusive company...
1.Morning Star by Pierce Brown  I never thought I would elevate another author into the same sentence with Tolkien and Rowling but Pierce Brown wrote a completely original and compelling story that just captures the imagination.  I laughed, I cried, I HOWLED.    I can honestly say that no book has ever made me feel like I needed a cigarette when I was finished until this one.  It's exhilarating right up to the very last page - no kidding!   I loved all the characters, except those you aren't supposed to.  I wanted to crawl into their world and join them in their quest to live for more!  I can't wait for the release of Iron Gold in August of 2017.  Obviously on automatic download.   Pierce Brown - You're the Man! 

Red Rising series - GoodReads Book of the Year for 3 consecutive years and it is truly worthy of the honor.  Read it.  You won't be sorry.

The Circle by Dave Eggers

Image result for the circle   This one has been sitting on my TBR list for over two years now.  I was finally motivated to read it when I saw that there is a movie coming out in the new year starring Tom Hanks and Emma Watson.  I love both of them!  We have a rule in our house - you can't see the movie until you've read the book.  It's a great rule and so,  I picked up the book and began to read.

It starts off slowly with Mae getting a job at a social networking company called The Circle with the help of her friend, Annie.   The book starts off with what her life is like at her new job, how utopian it is and how the Circle is helping so many people in many different ways throughout the world.  I don't want to give too much of the plot away here.

I will say that it took me about 135 pages to really get into the story but once I was in, things started to happen quickly.  I'd like to say that I can't see how things that happened in the book could happen in reality but the truth is,  I can see EXACTLY how those things happened.  I mean, I read a book and what am I doing?  I'm here on social media sharing my thoughts on what I read.  It's what we do. 

The Circle struck me as very Orwellian in nature and I suspect, that like Orwell, one day this book will be considered prophetic.  One quote in particular stayed with me and I want to leave you with it:

Secrets are Lies
Sharing is Caring
Privacy is Theft.

I gave this one 5 stars.  Powerful and thought provoking.

Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

Product DetailsI'm not usually one for poetry but I had heard some buzz about this book and I thought that I would check it out.  I'm so very grateful that I did.  What I found upon reading was a braze and heartfelt examination of life, pain, love, and loss.

I enjoyed the fact that most of the poems in this book were succinct.  Each one used just precisely the words that it needed to.  It isn't verbose for the sake of using more words.  It's elegant.  I was able to read a poem or several poems at a time and really reflect on each one.  There is so much in this work, that while different from my own life experiences was powerful and relatable.

You were a dragon long before
he came around and said
you could fly

You will remain a dragon
long after he's left.

Image result for dragon

5 stars for this breathtaking work.

Mischling by Affinity Konar

Product DetailsIt just so happened that I saw this book, with it's amazing cover, on the NY Times list for best books of the year.  Later that same week, it was on sale on Amazon for $1.99.   I love it when that happens.  I figured that I had nothing to lose!

This is the story of two twins, Pearl and Stasha, that happen to be Jews.  Their story begins on the train into Aushwitz when they are approximately 13 years old.   They are taken from their family and selected for "special treatment"  by Dr. Mengele because they are twins.

The good doctor does horrible experiments on children who are multiples and also those with any type of genetic mutation like dwarfism, albinos, etc.     While those selected are treated better than others at the camp in that they receive more food, they undergo the most horrific experiences.   The worst part of this particular story is to know that while Pearl and Stasha were likely not real people - Dr. Mengele and his experiments were VERY real.

This story seems particularly important in light of recent societal events - particularly the election of Donald Trump and his desire to create a registry of people.  Now more than ever, it is important to remember what happened the last time we allowed people to be categorized based on religion or nationality.  I gave this one 5 stars and recommend it highly.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls

Product DetailsJune and Delia were  inseperable when they were young.  Something happens as they get older which causes a rift between the two.   Apparently no one told them the old adadge - Boys are here today, but friends are here to stay.

At any rate, June, although estranged from Delia, is deeply affected when she learns that her former friend has committed suicide.  She barely has time to grieve when Delia's boyfriend shows up and convincers her that Delia was murdered.

June feels compelled to find out what happened to her friend.  She feels badly that she didn't help her in life, so she chooses to investigate her death.

The result is crazy, topsy- turvy ride that the reader could never expect.   I gave it only three stars because the story gets a little convoluted at the end and seems to lose it's way.  Still, it was enjoyable and I like it when I can't foresee how things will end up.   I gave it three stars.

Three Dark Crowns by Kendra Blake

Product Details Well, this story was really something different.   It's the story of three sisters- all born at the same time but with different abilities.  All meant to be queen, but in the end, only one of them will be.

They are separated at a very young age and given to their own faction - for lack of a better word - to be raised.  There is  Katharine- the poisoner.  She can supposedly ingest the most deadly of poisons without the slightest stomach ache.   Mirabella is an elementalist. She can light fires and conjure deadly storms.  Finally, the third sister is  Arsinoe - a naturalist.  She can control the forces of nature. 

On their sixteenth birthday, the battle for the crown begins. The three must fight until only one queen remains.  But what happens when one or all of the queens have a different idea for their own destiny.

The plot is wonderful.  Extremely original.  The writing style was somewhat simple which is what made this book a 4 instead of a 5.   I will definitely finish the story though and I hope that the story will grow as the series progresses. 

Halo by Alexandra Adornetto

Product DetailsThe forces of good send three angels to a small town to give the people hope, light  the way in the darkness.   There is Gabriel - the warrior, Ivy- the healer, and Bethany - a young angel with no particular relevant experience who falls in love with a mortal boy - something which is strictly forbidden, of course.

There must be some reason that Bethany was chosen for a mission like this, but what could it possibly be?  While she attempts to show the world love and goodness, she risks her own immortal soul.

I have a weakness for books about angels.  I guess it's my Catholic upbringing raising it's head;  but this one was just average.  While there are more books in the series,  I am unsure whether I will even finish it.   I gave it three stars.  It was entertaining while I read it, but I don't feel compelled to learn what happens to the characters as there story goes on.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Evelyn, After by Victoria Helen Stone

Product DetailsI got this book on Kindle First.   If you aren't familiar with Kindle First, it's an amazing program which allows Prime members to choose one book to own one month prior to it's actual release date. You never know what you are going to get, but in this case, it was a real gem.

This is another case of an unreliable narrator.  Evelyn is unhappily married and her psychiatrist husband has prescribed pills as a sleep aid.  One night, after taking her medication,  Evelyn receives a call from her husband - he's hit a deer and he needs Evelyn to come and get him.   At the accident site, Evelyn thinks she sees another woman and begins to suspect that her husband is having an affair.

The book is about Evelyn before and after that night - how she responds to tragedy and stress.  It definitely took some unexpected twists and turns though I did think that Evelyn seemed to lose her way.   It was enjoyable, especially for a debut novel.  I gave it three stars.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

What Light by Jay Asher

What Light by Jay Asher  I picked this book up for two reasons:  I love the author and I love the color.  I didn't know what to expect from the book but it was a very heartwarming Christmas story - the perfect way to start the Christmas season.

It's the story of Sierra and her family who have a Christmas tree farm.  Every year they load there trees and sell them on a lot in California.  Things have been getting harder and harder for the family and they wonder if they will be able to continue selling their trees on the lot.   It's also the story of  Caleb - a boy with a very troubled past.

Even though Sierra only has a brief time with Caleb, there are sparks right away.  She is able to look beyond his baggage and see him for who he is now.  I love stories of redemption and second chances and this definitely fits the bill.

If you are looking for a light and meaningful seasonal read, you may want to check this one out.  4 stars.

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult    Let me start by saying that I am a Jodi Picoult fan.  If you have been reading my blog for any length of time, you already know that.  Up to this point, 19 minutes was my favorite Picoult.    My only complaint with Ms. Picoult's writing is that in a rush to find something controversial to write about, her story lines sometimes become formulaic, so I approach new releases with a cautious curiosity.

The title and cover of this one intrigued me.   I knew within the first page that it was going to be amazing and by the end of the first chapter, I knew it would replace 19 Minutes as my favorite.  This is the story of Ruth, a black woman who has worked for 20 years as a labor and delivery nurse.  She shows up to work one day, goes into the room to help a couple who has just had a baby and is met with the worst sort of discrimination.   She is removed from helping the patient because the parents are white supremacists. 

I don't want to give the plot away, but I will tell you that the twists and turns just keep coming.  This book opened my eyes in ways I couldn't have imagined - as we go shopping with Ruth and her lawyer and see the way Ruth is treated because of her color.  Even the way her co-workers respond to the worst sort of discrimination was absolutely reprehensible and like so many, they didn't even realize it.

I loved every minute of this book.  It was almost impossible to put down, and it was a very quick read.  I gave it five stars but if I could give it 20, I would.  It's THAT good.

Love, Lies and Spies by Cindy Anstey

Product Details The title and the cover intrigued me.  I love a good spy novel but this is really a fun and frivolous thing.  On the back it is compared to Jane Austen.  To be honest, had a read that, I probably wouldn't have read this book.  I loathe Austen - once you've read one, you've read them all.

Happily I didn't find Juliana much like any of Ms. Austen's so -called heroines.   She is bright, resourceful, inquisitive and not looking for a husband!  Quite the contrary, she is going to London for the season in an attempt to find a publishing house to publish her scientific works.  The fact that she meets a handsome spy along the way really doesn't play into her goals initially.  Even when she does work out an arrangement with Mr. Northam,  it is to help her friend with a beau not promote herself. 

A light enjoyable read.  If you enjoy romance and a Victorian setting, this may be worth checking out for you.  I gave it three stars.

Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands by Chris Bohjalian

Product Details  This one was a difficult read because the potential of the story is very real.   This is the story of Emily Shephard, a teenage girl whose parents work at the local nuclear power plant.  This book is about the potential outcomes if the unthinkable were to happen.

There is a lot of discussion of Fukishima in this book.  Emily starts her day going to school when the unthinkable happens.  She can't get in touch with her parents, but everyone knows that something went very wrong at the plant.  Emily's father is being blamed.

This is the story of what Emily needs to do to survive in a world impacted by disaster. I'm glad I read it but I can't say I would recommend it.  It is a cautionary tale for our time and it is well written.  I gave it three stars.

A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray

Product Details  This is my second book that I have read this year dealing with the subject of the multiverse.  Something about that topic must really be pulling at my thoughts and imagination.

This is the story of Maugerite.  Her parents are world famous physicists who have created an ability to travel to different versions of our world in the multiverse.  This technology is called The Firebird.  Working with them, there are two very talented interns - Paul and Theo.

Paul kills Maugerite's father and then uses the Firebird to escape.  Together, Maugerite and Theo uses another Firebird to follow him and bring him to justice. 

I really enjoyed the twists and turns in this story.  I enjoyed the various worlds that Maugerite visited and how each one - each version of herself - changed and somehow complimented her.  I thought the story line was very creative and I am looking forward to continuing on with the series.  I gave it four stars.

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Product Details This has been on my TBR pile for a while, and after reading My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry by the same author, I moved it up on the list.   Although it didn't grab me as immediately as the other story did,  I loved it.  

I don't want to give away too much of Ove's story because I want you to read it for yourself.  Don't be daunted if it is a little slow developing, trust me, it will.   I laughed and cried.  Ove reminded me so much of my Dad, in so many ways.  I loved all the characters in the book except for the men in the white coats.  The cat annoyance was my second favorite, after Ove.

I love how Backman tells the story, moving backwards and forwards through Ove's life, weaving layer upon layer like a well worn suit.   In my opinion,  Backman is one of the great story tellers of our time.  I am currently reading another short book of his called And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer, and the book I am most looking forward to reading in the new year is Britt Marie Was Here.

If you haven't read any of Fredrik Backman's books - stop procrastinating and do it now.  He really is amazing.  I gave this one five stars.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

NutShell by Ian McEwan

Nutshell by Ian McEwan    There was a lot of buzz before this book came out.   I have enjoyed other books of Ian McEwan's books, so I wanted to give this one a try.   This is the most original book that I have read in a very long time!

It's a murder mystery/ suspense novel.   The story is told entirely from the perspective of the unborn child inside the mother's womb as she and her lover plot to kill the child's father.   I loved all the twists and turns.   I enjoyed the child's philosophical musings about his life, his parents and society at large.  I can honestly say that I have never read a book like this one.

On originality alone it gets 5 stars but it is also well written and a very quick and enjoyable read.  I highly recommend it!  

Empire of Storms by Sarah J Maas

Product DetailsAnyone who reads this blog knows that I am a big Sarah J Maas fan!  In fact, her book A Court of Mist and Fury was the second favorite book that I have read this year.         ( Second only to Morning Star by Pierce Brown, which is saying something). 

I have been following the story of Celaena Sardothien  since Throne of Glass came out.   I love that our heroine is strong, determined, smart and independent.   I have been waiting for this book for over a year, so I was pretty excited when it was released. ( Automatic download onto my Kindle!) 

The battle scenes are awesome and the twists and turns  in the plot - enjoyable.  My favorite characters remain Manon Blackbeack and her beloved wyvern, Abraxsos.   All that said, here are my thoughts on this book.  Stop reading now if you do not want spoilers.

Ok, the thing that I love about Throne of Glass series  and a Court of Thorns and Roses series is that they are both original.  Different.   That is, up to this point.....

I don't know if it happened because the series are being written somewhat simultaneously but I feel like I just read a Court of Mist and Fury again just with different characters.   It cheapened both stories for me and that just makes me angry.   Let's see:  there is a soul mate type of bond between the two main characters, there is an aspect of immortality with at least one of them,  there is a villain who is attempting to break the bond between them, there is a secret marriage that occurs and there is a twist at the end that leaves our brave heroine in the hands of the enemy while her love is left to save her.   Ugh.

Please, Ms. Maas..... keep the stories separate.  Throne of Glass was so unique up to this point, it was disappointing to feel it devolve in this way.   So much so that if I have to pick just one of the series to read ( because they are so similar in plot) I will read  A Court of Thorns and Roses and call it good.   Really sad and disappointed.

The Couple Next Door

Product DetailsI love mystery and suspense and this one really kept me guessing.   It all started with a dinner party.....

Anne and Marco seem to have it all - a great relationship, a thriving business, a beautiful baby girl.   But, on the night of their neighbors birthday party, the babysitter cancels.   Marco comes up with the bright idea that they can leave their baby sleeping and take the baby monitor next door to the party and just check on the baby every half hour, which the couple agrees to do.   Both Anne and Marco have more to drink than they should but everything seems to be going fine until..... they get home at 1:30 am and find their baby missing.

Things are revealed through the course of their story that all is not as it appears.   The author does a great job of casting doubt in many different directions.  Who could have taken the baby and why?   There were many unexpected twists and turns throughout the plot which I enjoyed.  I really hate it when I can guess what is going to happen.   I would recommend this one to a friend who also enjoys mystery and suspense.  I gave it four stars.

The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist

Product DetailsSo this is a dystopian novel where once a person reaches the age of 50 and has no children or no significant other, they are viewed as unnecessary by the surrounding society.  Just after their 50th birthday, the government comes to take them to live in the Unit - a type of communal living where they can stay and be useful.

How are they useful you ask?  Well, the government uses them for experimentation and finally for donations - that's right, they provide organs and such for others that society deems "necessary".

This is the story of Dorrit,  a woman who is happy living quietly on her own with her beloved dog.   Of course, she can not take the dog into the Unit with her, so she has to give him up.  When in the Unit, Dorrit makes friends and finds a certain kind of dignity in being deemed useful.

She also finds love and other unexpected complications.  

This book is really about the things we value as a society and what we deem as necessary.   I found the whole idea of it to be offensive - the fact that a person should have to give up their life and that it's just expected.   That goes against the grain of everything it means to be free.   

I was so disappointed in Dorrit and her choices.   I just couldn't understand how she would just give it all away.   It isn't in me to quit like she did.   I thought this book had some really wonderful insights and a very unique and compelling story but I could only give it 3 stars because I expected more from Dorrit.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

The Sound of Us by Ashley Poston

Product DetailsAfter the last book I read, I needed something light and fluffy.   This one fit the bill nicely.  This is the story of a pop star whose fame came too quickly and at a horrible price.   This book finds him hiding who he is from everyone, in Myrtle Beach - of all places!!!  ( God I love Myrtle Beach!)  At any rate, while hiding he meets radio aficionado, Junie Baltimore.  What a name, right?

Junie is not into pop stars or pop music.  She's a classic rock kind of girl.  ( A girl after my own heart....)   She is recovering from the loss of her father and desperately trying to save his bar, The Silver Lining.  Boy meets Girl, they fall in love... problems ensue. 

It's a feel good YA romance that has a little bit of mystery and suspense.   Not great but entertaining.  I gave it three stars.   If YA romance is your thing, give it a try.

Behind Closed Doors by B.A Paris

Product Details  One of the most disturbing books I have read in a long time.  I don't usually choose to bring this kind of evil into my life, but once I started reading, it was like a train wreck that I couldn't look away from.  I had to know how the main character, Grace, was going to survive the situation that she is in.

Jack and Grace are the perfect couple:  beautiful house, beautiful friends, beautiful dinner parties.  The thing is, there is something wrong with Grace.  She makes plans that she never keeps.  She never uses the phone.   She rarely  leaves the house except to see her disabled sister.    Things are not as perfect as they seem.


I recognized right away what Jack was, but the breadth and depth of his depravity were hard to read and impossible to understand.   I absolutely loved Millie's character.  She was the smartest one of all, she had it all figured out and even helped her sister find her way out.    I literally felt sick reading parts of this book.   It is something that will stay with me for a very long time because as a person who worked with victims of domestic violence,  I know that there are many Jack's out there.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Product DetailsI read this book in celebration of Banned Book Week.  Of course I had heard about this book and it had been on my radar, but I hadn't picked it up and read it until now.   I'm so glad that I was finally inspired to move it to the top of my list.

Like most banned books, this book was wonderful.  I loved every single minute.  Alexie is a moving and masterful story teller.  He had me in tears in the second chapter.  Seriously - tears.   This book is funny, sad, insightful, and compassionate.   It gives real insight not just into the lives of Indians on reservations but into the lives of those who are indigent, those who are hopeless.  

It never ceases to amaze me what works of literature that the closed minded seek to keep from others, but this is a wonderful book for middle and high schoolers in particular to read.  I highly recommend it.  It's always a good idea to broaden your horizons - it's by far the best cure for ignorance and intolerance.  I gave this moving book 5 stars.

Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige

Product DetailsSo if you read my blog or my book reviews, you already know I'm a fan of Danielle Paige.  She also writes the Dorothy Must Die series.   This is her new work - the first in a series.  

This is the story of Snow, a young girl who has spent most of her life in an insane asylum for trying to go through the looking glass.  In the asylum, she has one friend, Bale, who is also her love.    One night, Snow has a strange visitor, someone who speaks to her about her dreams and her nightmares.  Not long after, something happens to Bale that forces Snow to go on an unexpected journey.   I don't want to give too much of the story away, but that is the beginning gist of the plot.

Snow is a strange mixture of Snow White and the Snow Queen.   Once again, Danielle Paige creates worlds that are familiar and yet, at the same time, completely unique.  Her world building sklls are really very impressive.   With the Dorothy Must Die series, I thought the first book was the best and the subsequent books have yet to live up to the first.  In this series, I see the potential for the series to get better with each passing book.  I am looking forward to hearing what happens to Snow and her friends.

I gave it four stars. 

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

Product DetailsFinally a book worth all the hype.   Again, this one had been on my TBR pile forever.  A friend recommended it for our November book club discussion, so it finally got moved to the top of the pile.  I loved every single minute of this book - it was amazing!

This is the story of June, her sister, Greta, her beloved uncle, Finn and Toby.   It is definitely one of the top ten books that I have read this year.   The story is set back in the 1980's at the height of the AIDS epidemic.   There are historical things that are mentioned in the book - like the speech that Reagan gave - that I remember happening.    This book brought all the angst and insecurity that people had in dealing with one another during this time back into painful detail.   I remember being afraid of being in the same room with someone who had AIDS because no one really knew how it spread.   Now we know more.

This is a wonderful book of love, compassion, understanding and acceptance.   The story is rich with symbolism and meaning.  I loved the relationship between Greta and June and how the story finally ended up.   It is a work of genius.  Truly a book that will stay with me for a very long time!

Ms. Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Product DetailsThis book has been getting buzz for forever.   Some have even deigned to call it "the next Harry Potter".   I usually avoid books with this kind of hype like the plague, but I finally gave in.  My youngest wants to see the movie and the rule in our house is that you have to read the book first.  So I did.

It starts out with a very unique concept.  I love the idea of Peculiar children and the monsters who chase them.    The pictures included with the book created a surreal air to the characters that the book creates.  The pictures were actually my favorite thing about the book.

So now down to the nitty gritty.  The next Harry Potter?  I think not.   In my estimation, and keep in mind that I am a sci-fi/ fantasy reader,  this book created more questions than it answered. 


First of all, why were the time loops necessary?  Was this simply to keep the children safe from the Hollows?   At the end of the book, when the loop collapses and the children go off on their adventure, how do the explain the answer of the children aging suddenly?   The fact is that this, while pointed out in other parts of the book as to why the children can't leave, was completely ignored at the end. 

I gave this book 3 stars.  It was entertaining, but nothing great.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Things We Wish Were True by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen

Product Details  This was a Kindle First Read - that means that this comes out before it is actually released and is available to kindle readers.    It is now on Kindle Unlimited for free.  You have to love that about your kindle if you have one.   There are loads of really good free books!

This is the story of Jencey - a mother of two daughters whose marriage is falling apart. She wakes up one morning, and nothing is as she thought it would be, and she ends up going back home to stay with her mother and father while she works things out.   Life in a small town never really changes - her old friends are still there,  the town creep is still creepy,  the nebby neighbors are still in everyone's business..... but some things DO change -  like how Jencey's first love is now married to her best friend.

This is an interesting story woven from different points of view about the events of one summer.   I love the quote about the local pool,  "Where strangers are family" - that is what this book begins to feel like as stories are told and secrets begin to unravel.

I really enjoyed it.  I gave it 4 stars.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Say You'll Stay by Corinne Michaels

Product DetailsPresley has everything - a business that she loves, a beautiful home, a loving husband, adorable twin boys.... until one night, all of that is shattered in an unspeakable way.

Then Presley is left with only one option, to return to the home that she swore she would never come back to and to face the boy who left her behind. 

This book was beautifully written.  The reader definitely goes through the full range of grief with Presley as she faces the enormous and unexpected ways that her life has changed.  The scenes with Presley and Wyatt and Presley and Zach are especially enjoyable.

The book did seem to meander along towards the middle though and then, finally came back to life in the last 50 pages or so.   I gave it a three.  A fair rating for a romance novel which usually aren't my cup of tea. 

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Creature of Moonlight by Rebecca Hahn

Product DetailsWell, one good thing about having a tooth extracted and having to limit what you do, there is plenty of time for reading!   That's two off my list that were waiting to be read on my Kindle.

This is the story of Marni - a beautiful young girl, living with her Grandfather and selling flowers from their garden.  But Marni's grandfather has a secret..... he was once a king and Marni is a princess with a very mysterious and powerful father.  The creatures of the forest have always been close to Marni, but now, the threaten the kingdom as they move closer and closer onto the lands the people need to survive.   Can Marni learn the truth and save them?

This book had so much potential when it  started.   I loved parts one and two but in part three, though that aspect of the story is necessary, the plot started to drag.  There were many unanswered questions.  I suspect that this is a series, though to be honest, I haven't looked.  I would be curious to learn what happens with Marni's story.  She is a very strong female lead and I definitely enjoyed where she displayed her independence.

I gave this one 3 stars and will continue on if it is a series at some point.  On to Tell the Wolves I'm Home for book club.

Don't Try to Find Me by Holly Brown

Product DetailsI've had this one on my Kindle for a while, I'm trying to get through all the books just waiting there before buying new ones.   That's a feat nearly impossible for a bibliophile like me, but I'm working on it.

This is the story of Marley, her mother Rachel and her father.   They may look like the perfect family on the outside but they are hiding many, many secrets.    The main plot point in the story is that Marley runs away.  I'm not really giving anything away here, I mean, look at the title.    She is catfished -  involved in a relationship with a fake online persona.

I have to say that in today's world, this is every mother's worst nightmare.  You have an abuser find your child online, isolate them from their family and friends and lure them away to another location where God knows what can happen to them.   That's this story.

Of course there is so much more going on, like why did Marley really leave?   What is going on with her parents, especially her mother?   And there is the all important reminder that we are modeling to our children, whether we think they are watching or not, the kind of relationships that they should build in their own lives.   It's certainly a sobering thought.

This book kept me interested enough to keep reading.   I gave it a 3 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert

Product DetailsI loved Dune and I, initially, had no idea that it was part of a series.  Once I did know it was a series, I thought it had been carried on by Frank Herbert's children - which is true of the later books - but the first three were written by Frank Herbert, himself.

This story picks up slightly after Dune left off.  Paul Atreides is now Imperial Emperor.  He sets himself up as heir to everything that he originally hated.   He is struggling to obtain an heir.  The Bene Gesserit want him to father a child with the Harrkonen princess Irulan.   Paul wants his love, Chani, to be the mother of the future.  

There's a lot of politics and philosophy in this book.  Maud'dib experiences much self doubt and reflection.  I love the questions that Herbert raises about cloning, souls,  and the very nature of Heroes and gods.  If you enjoyed Dune, this adds to the understanding of their characters but in some ways also muddies the waters.

I gave it three stars.

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

Product DetailsI loved in  a Dark, Dark Wood so much that I pre-ordered this title.

All I can say is,  it's difficult to believe that the books were written by the same person.   While both books rely upon an unreliable narrator, that is where the similarities end.

In this book,  Lo is a reporter for a travel magazine.   Because her boss is on maternity leave, Lo gets the opportunity that she has been waiting for - an exclusive cruise with the higher ups that she can interview and showcase on a cover story.

Just before Lo leaves for her trip, she is burglarized.  Don't ask me why this is relevant, let's just say that it sends her on an emotional and alcoholic bender from which it is difficult to recover.  Finally, she joins the crew and passengers of the Aurora Beorealis on it's maiden voyage.   Once there, she asks the woman in Cabin 10 if she can borrow her mascara.  

After a night of drinking, she hears a woman scream, a crash and a splash.   She becomes convinced that the woman next door has been thrown overboard.   She reports this to boat security, only to find out there is no woman in cabin 10.  Duh, duh. duh.......

I won't go in to the insanity that follows.  I can best describe it as this. 2/3 slugfest ( Slow...... slow.......S--------L---------O--------------------------------W)   followed by 1/3 insanity.  All three thirds were not my cup of tea.  If you liked the completely overrated The Girl on the Train then you will probably like this book too.  If you, like me, think that book was complete garbage, then you should probably avoid this book as well.  I gave it two stars and that was a gift.

I think this author is very talented but this book was just awful.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Wicked by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Product Details  I love stories about the Fae and this one really had a creative twist.  This is the story of Ivy,  a member of the Order that protects humanity from the Fae and helps to keep the doorways to the Otherworld firmly closed.   Lately though, there seems to be an increase in Fae activity in New Orleans and Ivy must get to the bottom of it. 

Enter Ren - a member of the Elite - a special branch of the Order from Colorado.  It's Ren's job to track down Ancient Fae - those who can not be killed with Iron.  He teams up with Ivy and discovers that the two of them have a rather remarkable chemistry.

Can they figure out what lies between them and save humanity?   Or are there just too many secrets they feel that they can not share?   This is a trilogy, of which currently only two books have been released.   I will read the other two books and I look forward to seeing how the conflicts will be resolved.  I have read other works by this author that I have also enjoyed.  If you enjoy books about the Fae or supernatural romance,  give this book a try.   Three stars.