Saturday, January 30, 2016

ShearWater by D. S. Murphy

Product DetailsI intended to read this for my book challenge, but I had already used all the catergories were it would fit.   Here are some places that it could be used, should you, dear reader, be so inclined: YA book, Fantasy, a debut novel, published in 2016, guilty pleasure and a book that takes place on an island.

This is the story of Clara.  Her parents die in a car accident and she is sent to live with a grandfather that she didn't know existed - in Ireland.   Now Ireland is still a land full of magic... leprechauns, fae and most especially mermaids.  I'm always a sucker for a story about Mermaids.

While in Ireland, Clara meets Sebastian.  He's handsome, charming and nearly irresistible.  What is it about him?    He seems to want Clara to be closer and yet pushes her away.  Will he help Clara get to the bottom of the mystery that surrounds her mother and grandmother's past? 

This was a quick, easy and entertaining read.  I thought the characters should have had more Irish names but all in all not a bad way to spend the afternoon.  I gave it 3 out of 5 stars and may read the rest of the series out of curiosity.

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

Product DetailsI read this one for my book club.  It also fits nicely into my reading challenge.  I am using this for task 37 - a book about books.   It would also work for: a best seller, a book recommended by someone I just met, a book that takes place during the summer and a book about a  "road trip".

This book is the story of Jean Perdu, a man living in Paris.  Jean runs a bookstore that uniquely is housed on a boat, appropriately called The Literary Apothecary.  You see, Jean believes that books can cure those things that ail us, perhaps not physically but spiritually.  It's also the story of Max ( and a whole host of wonderful, secondary characters) who is a young writer looking for his next story, looking for inspiration.

Jean fell in love once with a beautifully free woman named Manon, but she left.   For 20 years, Jean does not know why until he finds a letter. This is the story of Jean's journey and the things that he and Max discover along the way.  It's a story about holding on and letting go and of forgiveness.  

It is beautifully written, though a little slow at times.  It is definitely worth the read.  4 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Never Never Part 3

Product Details  So, if you read my blog at all, you know that I'm a Colleen Hoover fan and I have been for over a year now.  She wrote this book in conjunction with Tarryn Fisher and it was fascinated me since I started it.   Two teenagers, Charlie and Silas, neither one can remember anything about themselves - their lives.  They seem to be forgetting everything every 48 hours and so, they work to piece together the mystery of their lives.  What happened?  Why did it happen? And most importantly, what can make it stop?

This was the third and final installment.  Thank you for not leaving me on yet another cliff hanger - I was worried.  I'm glad to finally have an answer, though it was nothing like what I thought it was going to be. 

I used this for the PopSugar challenge - book under 150 pages.   Difficult task done and questions answered.  My work here is done.  Not my favorite Hoover but satisfactory.  I gave it three out of five stars.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Gifts of the Blood Angels Edge 1 by Vicki Keire

Product Details

I read this for my book challenge.  For me, this was task 43 - a free book and task 22 (from the official popsugar reading challenge) first book in a series.  And I have to say, I'm a bit of a sucker for books about Angels.  If you have read my blog for any length of time, you already know that about me.

This book is about Caspia and her  brother, Logan.  Their parents died when they were younger and they have made their way, alone in the world.  Now, Logan is sick - dying from cancer and Caspia is struggling to support him and deal with his illness.  In addition to this, Caspia also has a unique gift... she sometimes paints the future.  Enter Ethan.  Caspia paints him and then he shows up.  Is he there to help or hurt?  What is the dangerous cloud swirling around him in Caspia's painting and why has the painting disappeared?  What are the secrets lying in Caspia's blood?

I really liked this story.  It was a quick, easy bit of fluff but for all that, it had a very strong female lead - unless you count being "wobbly", a great sibling relationship, a close friendship and the beginning of an epic romance.  If you enjoy paranormal romance, this has the makings of a very good series.  I gave it 3 out of 5 stars.  I thought the plot was original and worth continuing.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. DIck - task 2 a Hugo Award winner

This book won the Hugo award in 1963.   I became interested in this book after seeing promos for the Amazon series of the same name.  This is an alternative reality, in which the Axis powers actually won the war.   The Nazis and the Japanese manage to get the bomb first and drop it on Washington, DC.  They then split our country into the New Reich, which is the East Coast and the Pacific States which is the west coast.  In the middle - the neutral zone where just about anything goes.

I loved the premise of this book, but I had some issues with it.  The plot is slow to develop and with so many characters all interacting, it quickly becomes tedious remembering who they are and how they are relevant to one another.  I found it annoying that the writing of The Grasshopper Lies Heavy, which is a critical part of the plot, was left to the I-Ching, which is an ancient Chinese text that is used for divination.  Although the truth revealing the truth is an interesting concept, after all the effort of reading about the various characters involved in this story, particularly the Man in the High Castle, it felt like a bit of a let down.   This book was not all I hoped it would be.  I gave it two stars.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Confess by Colleen Hoover task 45 book recommended by a friend

  Well,  Colleen Hoover delivers big - AGAIN.   This book has ALL the feels   I love this author so much.  There are so many things she does well - you get inside her characters heads, you feel what they are feeling, and best of all she has plot twists that you never see coming.  If you haven't read Colleen Hoover yet, what are you waiting for???  I've reviewed plenty of her books here - pick one.  Any one of them is a winner, but I think that this one is my favorite to date.

This is the story of Auburn and Owen.   They meet and have an instant connection.  Both are hiding secrets  Both are telling lies.  Will they ever be able to work it all out and finally end up together?     I loved both Auburn and Owen - they are both extremely relatable characters.  I don't know about you, but I have a hard time getting into a book if I can't relate to the characters and I just don't care about them.  Colleen Hoover has never let me down - she builds beautiful, real characters that I think everyone can relate to.

I used this book for my reading challenges. For my 52 books in 52 weeks challenge, this was the book from the Goodreads Awards.   For my PopSugar challenges this book could go in the following catergories: YA, book because of it's cover,  book recommended by a friend, Guilty Pleasure, wild card, book you can finish in a day and a book with a beautiful cover.  I gave this one 5 out of 5 stars.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

The Oddfits by Tiffany Tsao

   I was going to read this for my free book category but as I couldn't finish the book,  I chose not to inclue it into any category.  I wanted to take some time to explain to my readers why I couldn't finish this book

This is the story of Murgatryod Floyd - a blonde, blue-eyed boy growing up in Singapore.   But Murgatrody doesn't fit in  and it isn't just his looks that make him an outsider,  he's an Oddfit - someone who is capable of seeing more than the Known World.

I was really excited about reading this book.  The ideas in it were fascinating and the authors ability to change perspectives are among the best I've ever read.

That said,  I couldn't finish it.  Why?  Well,  Murgatroyd works for a time as a waiter at a restaurant.  At this restaurant, there is an arena in the middle where the animals people eat for dinner are slaughtered.  This was explored.  I'm a HUGE animal activist and I couldn't get past it.

This author has a lot of talent and I would definitely read another book by her.   This book wasn't for me, but that doesn't mean that it isn't for you.

Heir of Night by Helen Lowe

Product Details It turns out that this particular book doesn't really fit into any particular catergory for the reading challenge for me so I am using it as a wild card or a book with a blue cover.    This could also be used for  a fantasy or YA book.

Malian is the Heir of Night - her family is what stands between the Dark Swarm and the Derai - her people.   In her world, the warrior class and the heirs are seperated from the priestly class - or those who have the "Old Powers".    When her family is betrayed, Malian realizes that she has some powers of her own.  Her father intends to send her into exile, but Malian has plans of her own.

The plot is complex with aspects of the past woven into the story in a very creative manner.   The aspects of magic that the author uses to create this world were very unique.  I read a lot of fantasy books and often these abilities tend to all sound the same, so I really enjoy it when an author does something really fresh in their world creation.  

I enjoyed reading this book.  I am giving it 4 out of 5 stars for creativity, strong female characters, and being well written.  I will definitely complete the series.  The other two books in the series are  The Gathering of the Lost and Daughter of the Blood.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

You Me Him by Kris Dinnison

   I read this one for several reading challenges.  Catergories where it would fit include:YA book, a book because of its cover, a guilty pleasure, wild card, and   a goodreads book of the year nominee.

High school is complicated.  Anyone who has gone to highschool or is currently in highschool knows that  it isn't the golden years - it's hell.   You just have to survive it.  This book poignantly makes that point.  It's about a girl named Maggie and her best friend Nash  Maggie is overweight  and Nash is gay   They are outsiders looking in, to say the very least.

Then, new guy Tom arrives and both friends find themselves crushing on the same boy.  This book is about the value of friendship and what it means to sort out who you are   I enjoyed it.  I would highly recommend it to anyone currently in highschool  or the middle grades, or anyone who enjoys YA.
I gave it 4 out of 5 stars.

Monday, January 4, 2016

The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe

  I read this book for the group book challenge task 31 - A Book Your Father Loves.    It would also work for a book made into a movie, a book about heroes, n inspirational story, and a book with a blue cover.  

I actually remember my Dad reading this book.  My mom got it for him when I was about 8 or 9.   It was just before the Space Shuttle Columbia's original launch so there was a lot of interest in astronauts.  My Dad was a retired fighter pilot by then, so for him, there was always a lot of interest in astronauts.

I remember my Dad talking about Chuck Yeagher.  He was the pilot of the X-15 who was the first man to break the sound barrier.  I could never understand why Yeagher was not an astronaut, but Wolfe does a brilliant job explaining why in his book.    The official story is that he wasn't qualified because he didn't have a college degree but the fact is, Yeagher was a pilot  and the Mercury astronauts didn't actually fly the capsules.

I thoroghly enjoyed this book.  I grew up with my Dad and men like him - fighter pilots - those that had "the right stuff".    I've never had who they are more exacty described then here, in Wolfe's wonderful book   I am fascinated by this time in history and I love reading about astronauts and test pilots.   I thought this book did a fantastic job describing what life was really like for these men and what inspired them to do the things they did  It also provides an excellent historical and political backdrop to all the factors that escalated the space race.   Another wonderful book, if this topic interests you is The Astroanaut Wives Club by Lily Koppel.

Aside from the fantastic subject matter, Wolfe is- quite simply- a brilliant writer.  His flow and word choice - impeccable.  Just reading his writtten thoughts is a joy in itself.  I loved every minute of this book, had a hard time putting it down.  I recommend it highly!  5 out of 5 stars.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

My Reading Goal for 2016

Every year I set a goal for myself - just a little something to keep me focused.  Every year, I do the Goodreads challenge - if you aren't my friend on goodreads look me up! ( )  

 This year my goal on Goodreads is 135 books.    I also am part of the PopSugar Reading challenge group on facebook.  This year, we selected our own tasks, which I am really excited about.   Part of my personal goal is to encourage more diversity  in my own reading - more male authors, more authors from different cultures, more genre variety, etc   I think this list is going to help me accomplish that.  Check it out!

1.            Newbury Award winner – Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
2.       Nebula/ Hugo Award Winner- Red Shirts by John Scalzi
3.       Man Booker Prize Winner – Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel
4.       Russian Classic – In the First Circle by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
5.       Book of Poetry – A Bit of Tickle for the Mind by Melinda McIntosh
6.       A Self help book – Savor: Living Abundantly Where You Are, As You Are by Shauna Niequist
7.       A YA book – Emmy and Oliver by Robin Benway
8.       Sports Themed Book – The Gipper: George Gipp, Knute Rockne and the Dramatic Rise of Notre Dame Football by Jack Cavanaugh
9.       Biography of a person you admire – JRR Tolkien: A Biography
10.   Fantasy – The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
11.   Science Fiction – Morning Star by Pierce Brown
12.   Dystopian – Not on Fire but Burning by Greg Hrbek
13.   American Literature – The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
14.   NonFiction – The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
15.   Historical Fiction
16.   Best Seller
17.   Debut Novel – The Pocket Wife by Susan Crawford
18.   Book with Alliteration in the Title – Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by John Le Clare.
19.   A book because of it’s cover – You, Me, Him by Kris Dinnison
20.   A book with Summer in the Title – Summer House with Swimming Pool  by Herman Koch
21.   A book with Winter in the title – The Winter Journey by Diane Armstrong
22.   A book with a yellow cover – Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson
23.   Author Shares my first name – The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halsie Anderson
24.   New Author from 2015 challenge – The Men We Reaped by Jessmyn Ward
25.   A book set in Asia – The Courtesan by Alexandra Curry
26.   A book set in the state where you were born:  Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews
27.   A book about your heritage
28.   A book about a state you would like to visit – We Never Asked for Wings by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
29.   Main character has the same profession – The Freedom Writers Diary by Erin Gruwell
30.   A book about music – The Magic Strings of Frankie Pesto by Mitch Albom
31.   A book your father loves
32.   A book about an Island – The Rumor by Elin Hilderbrand
33.   The Main character  is an animal – The Humans by Matt Haig
34.   Book dealing with social issues – Crazy Love by Leslie Morgan Steiner
35.   Opposing Political Point of View
36.   A book bout time travel – All our Yesterdays by Cristinn Terrill
37.   A book about books – The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George
38.   A book about pirates
39.   A Retelling – Alias Hook by Lisa Jensen
40.   Published in 2016 – All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders
41.   A book over 100 – Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott
42.   A book outside my comfort zone –
43.   A free book – The Oddfits by Tiffany Tsao
44.   Inspirational Story – Rescue Road: One Man, Thirty Thousand Dogs and a Million Miles on the Last Hope Highway by Peter Zheutin
45.   Book a friend recommended
46.   A Guilty Pleasure – The Distance Between Us by Kasie West
47.   A book that doesn’t fit anywhere else
48.   A book that will make you smarter – Creativity, Inc by Ed Catmull
49.   Bit Lit – Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
50.   A book that promotes women’s rights
51.   Erotica – The Woodsman by Belle Scarlette
52.   Adventure Novel – To Kill the Potemkin by Mark Joseph
53.   A book everyone’s read but me – Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
54.   A book about heroes – The Right Stuff by Thomas Wolfe
A book where the protagonist is a different gender

The Distance Between Us by Kasie West

Product Details  I was looking for something quick and easy to read and this one fit the bill.  I read it as my task # 46 guilty pleasure.   It's the story of young love, coming from different backgrounds and not judging a book by it's cover.   It's about not letting your emotional baggage determine the course of your future.

Caymen grows up with her mom, living above their business selling dolls.   Her mother was disowned by her parents when she fell in love with a rich boy and become pregnant.  He headed for the hills at the first sign of the pregnancy, leaving Caymen and her mom all alone.

Fast forward.  Caymen is 17 and living the life of a 40 year old   She can't get away from the store and feels like she has more responsibilities than she should.  Enter rich boy, Zander, who  is trying to figure his own life out.   Zander and Caymen just sort of fit - much to Caymen's mother's dismay.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see how this one turns out, but if you're a sucker for a happy ending without much effort,  this one is entertaining.  I gave it 3 out of 5 stars.

Friday, January 1, 2016

The Woodsman : Enchanted Lovers volume 1 by Belle Scarlett

Product Details  I don't usually do erotica, but the point of a reading challenge is to read things outside your comfort zone and so here we are.  I read something quick and easy.  It's a retelling of a fairy tale so that part was enjoyable.  As for the erotica - not bad if that is your thing  Entertaining enough and done quickly - took me about 30 minutes.  I gave it a three out of five stars.  Task 51 out of 55 in the bag, though I am certainly not doing these in order.  I also could have used this as a book that I got for free - thanks Kindle Unlimited.

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Product DetailsThe first book of 2016 is in the bag.    I read this one for task #40 Brit Lit of this years reading challenge.  Although the author sounds Japanese, he was actually born and raised in Great Britian.

This also could have worked for a Dystopian novel, it was a Man Booker prize finalist, and an Oprah book club book if you are doing the Popsugar Reading challenge.

So this is the story of three friends: Kathy, Ruth and Tommy.   They grow up together at a special school, Hailsham, for very special children.  They grow up, apart, in the idyllic English countryside, until one day, it is their duty to enter society and live up to their purpose.

This book is a real mind bender.  It makes you think about so many things - what is a soul?  What is the true purpose of our lives?  I loved it.  My only critique isn't a critique really, but the style of the book is intentionally choppy.  Kathy will start sharing a memory to move the story and will have to stop and go back two weeks further to get to the point.   It's a little disconcerting at first but you get so involved in the story, that eventually I didn't even notice.  It was a great way to kick off  2016.

Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott

"Dark sits the evening upon the thanes' castle,      The black clouds gather round;      Soon shall they be red as the blood of the valiant!      The destroyer of forests shall shake his red crest against          them.      He, the bright consumer of palaces,      Broad waves he his blazing banner,      Red, wide and dusky,      Over the strife of the valiant.":   I read this for the reading challenge - a book over 100 years old task.   I love Ivanhoe, it's one of my favorite books and this isn't my first time reading it.  It's set during the reign of  King Richard the Lionheart/ Prince John, his evil brother. It's full of chivalry, romance, loyalty, adventure and intrigue.   What's not to like?

Ivanhoe's father has disinherited him because, Ivanhoe is a Saxon and Richard a Norman and yet, Ivanhoe has sworn fealty to Richard which his father considers to be an act of treason.   Richard has gone missing - many are spreading the rumor that he is dead - when in fact, he is being held by the King of Austria for ransom.  John has no intention of ransoming Richard but means instead to steal his crown.

Ivanhoe has returned from the crusades to save Richard by raising the money.  He is helped in this quest by Isaac, a Jew and his daughter.  The largest part of this plot is how badly the Jews were treated, even in England.  Yet Isaac and Rebecca help Ivanhoe many times in order to find a better world for themselves and their people

This is a fantastic story  If you haven't read it, you really should.