Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Year in Review So Far - A Challenge Breakdown.

PopSugar Facebook Challenge:  19/55 challenges complete.
Nebula/ Hugo Award winner - The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick
Book of Poetry - A Bit of Tickle for the Mind by Melinda McIntosh
YA book - Emily and Oliver
Fantasy - A Girl of Fire and Thorns
Science Fiction - Morning Star by Pierce Brown
Debut Novel - The Pocket Wife by Susan Crawford
A Book because of it's cover - You, Me, Him
A Book about a State that I would Like to Visit - We Never Asked for Wings
A book my father loves - The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe
A book about books - The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George
A book published in 2016 - All the Birds in the Sky
A book over 100 years old - Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott
Free book - Gifts of the Blood by Vicki Keire
A book a friend recommended - Confess by Colleen Hoover
Guilty Pleasure The Distance Between Us by Kasie West
A book that doesn't fit anywhere else - The Glass Sword by Victoria Avelard
Brit Lit - Never Let Me Go
Erotica - The Woodsman by Scarlette Belle
Adventure Novel - To Kill the Potemkin
A Protagonist of a different gender - The Life We Bury.

Read Harder Challenge 9/33 tasks completed
Book under 150 pages - Never Never by Colleen Hoover
NYT best Seller - The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens
A book you can finish in a day - The Distance Between Us by Kasie West
Oprah Book - Never Let Me Go
Recommended by Family member - Confess by Colleen Hoover
Published in 2016 - Morning Star by Pierce Brown
Murder Mystery - The Pocket Wife by Susan Crawford
A book of Poetry - A Bit of Tickle for the Mind

Goodreads 52 books in 52 weeks challenge - 7/52 tasks complete
A Book you meant to read in 2015 - You, Me, Him
A book from Goodreads Awards - Confess by Colleen Hoover
A books about books - The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George
First Book in a New Series - A Court of Thorn and Roses
Next Book in a series - The Sword of Glass
Crime Story - The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens
Published in 2016 - Morning Star by Pierce Brown

The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens

This one just captured me - the cover, the title... all of it. I read this for my reading challenge task #55 -protagonist of a different gender.   I could also have used it for: a book from the best seller list, murder mystery, a book title that starts with L, a book with an anti-hero and a debut novel, if you are looking for something to work into those categories.

This book is the story of Joe Talbert, a college student who has worked hard to remove himself from difficult life circumstances.   He has an English assignment to write a biography but doesn't wish to use anyone from his own family. Instead, he goes to the local nursing home where he is introduced to Carl Iverson, a man suffering from cancer who was convicted of murder in the 1980's.

I don't want to tell too much about this book except to say that I loved it from start to finish.  The characters were all beautifully developed, with strong background stories even for supporting characters.  I have added other works by this author to my TBR list.  I give this one 5 out of 5 stars and highly recommend it to all.   Outstanding book.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

I read this book for my reading challenge - task 40 - a book published in 2016.  It also could have been used for a YA book or science fiction.   The story is about two children, Patricia and Laurence.  They are both somewhat odd - Patricia embraces nature and magic, while Laurence is drawn to science and technology.

They achieve something wonderful as children, something that they don't even realize. 

They grow up and both end up living in San Francisco.  A series of events keeps bringing them together while the world around them is falling apart.  Patricia is a very powerful witch and Laurence is working on a machine that he hopes will save humanity.

I really liked the premise of this book, I thought the ideas behind the characters were very unique.  The writing was somewhat choppy though.  First their children, then he's in military school, then they are grown ups.  It moves around in a discombobulated way that is difficult to follow.

I loved the ultimate resolution of the conflict ( sort of ) in the story and the use of symbolism.  If you read this book,  birds are everywhere and Peregrines are mentioned specifically.   They are symbolic of wisdom as we seek to solve dilemmas in our world - the rising above the situation.  It's very appropo here.

Even though I really enjoyed this book, I only gave it 3 stars due to the choppy nature of the story. 

Monday, February 15, 2016

Morning Star by Pierce Brown

I would tell you that I read this book for my reading challenge, but the fact is, I have been sitting on the edge of my seat waiting with baited breath for this book to be released.  I read the first book in the series, Red Rising, in December of 2014.   I just loved the story and was thrilled to learn that it would be a series.  Lucky for me,  the next book, Golden Son, came out in February of 2015 so I didn't have long to wait.   As much as I loved Red Rising,  I thought Golden Son was even better, which is rare
for me with middle of a series books.   And the cliff hanger that it leaves on??  Well,  I had to wait a year to find out how that all would be resolved.   On to my thoughts of Morning Star.

It was worth every single second that I had to wait!   Every second.   It left me depleted and completely satisfied, which is so rare in a book.  The author successfully ties up every loose plot line.  From the start of this series to the end, the action continues to build and build - right up to LITERALLY the last minute of Morning Star. 

WOW.  MIND BLOWN.   Pierce Brown has rocketed his way into my heart and his series is in my top three of all time, joining JRR Tolkien and JK Rowling and, in the words of Albus Dumbledore, "that is saying something".   It is my most fervent hope that Pierce Brown continues to write and I think he is completely brilliant.   And hey, if a movie deal came out of all of this, I would be the first in line.   If I could give this book 10 stars I would, that's how much I love it.  If you haven't read the series, all I can say is,  What are you waiting for????  DO IT NOW.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

The Last Girl by Joe Hart

  Let me start by saying that I love dystopian fiction, it's one of my favorite genres.   This story is about a virus that hits which effects the fertility of women across the world, making it increasingly rare that they will give birth to a girl.  Eventually, the virus somehow mutates (??)  and actually kills larges portions of the population.  Needless to say, females become quite the commodity and the government rounds them up both to protect them and attempt to find a cure.

Zoey has been isolated and treated as a test subject for most of her life.  None of what those in the ARC have been telling Zoey ring true, though.   Where do the other women go when they enter the Program?  Are they really reunited with their families?  What is happening on the 5th floor?   This all starts out great!  It's like a modern day Handmaid's Tale and I'm in! 

But then.....  SPOILER ALERT!

Zoey manages to escape from the ARC and here is where the author gets lost, in my opinion.   We wind on for pages upon pages of survival and chases.    Zoey's wounded, she's bleeding, they're hunting her - ad naseum.   This part of the book just DRAGS on forever!   I get it.  She escaped.  Of course they are after here, she's supposedly one of only 6 girls left.   Of course her initial experiences in the world outside the ARC aren't all that positive - people are greedy. 

And what was with the jumping around in the middle going back to the story of Zipper the Owl?  I get that he's a metaphor for Zoey herself, but going back and forth at inappropriate times was just confusing.

The story finally winds it's way back to the ARC and the other women, but for me, it was much too late.  I'd stopped caring about what happened to Zoey long ago.  Her internal monologue is annoying and whiny.  I was so disappointed in this book because I just loved the first part and it fell completely apart.  If you like survival books, perhaps you will enjoy this one much more than I did.

2 out of 5 stars and that was only because the beginning was so promising.

To Kill the Potemkin by Mark Joseph

I read this book for several reasons.  For me, it satisfied my book challenge reading task #52 an adventure novel.   I also love submarine books.  The adventure challenge was a difficult one for me.  Initially, I thought it was a genre that I really didn't enjoy.  When I set about selecting a book for this category, it turns out that I have read so many of what people consider to be adventure novels.

My husband used to be  stationed on board both a nuclear submarine and a fast attack.  He never could talk about his job, and still doesn't, but you know what they say, curiosity killed the cat.  Having no other outlet to satisfy my curiosity, I turned to books about submarines.  I have read many.  Some of my favorites:  Run Silent, Run Deep, Blind Man's Bluff, Scorpion Down, The Ice Diaries and of course, The Hunt for Red October.   To Kill the Potemkin now takes it's place among my favorites.

One of the most recent losses of a submarine to the United States Navy was the mysterious sinking of the USS Scorpion back in May of 1968.  She was lost with all hands in a mysterious manner.  In my opinion,  To Kill the Potemkin is excellent conjecture as to what could have happened to Scorpion.

To Kill the Potemkin is about another skipjack class submarine, The Barracuda, sent to the Med on special assignment.  While there, she comes across a new class of Russian submarine, the Potemkin.  Her assignment becomes to find out as much about the Potemkin that she can.  What happens is a series of unfortunate events.  I loved this book because the characters are robust and real.  The pictures they paint of the otherwise Silent Service,  were rich and accurate.   I enjoyed that fact that the author wrote this book from both the perspective of the Americans and the Russians.   If you, like me, enjoy a good adventure novel,  To Kill the Potemkin has it all.   I gave it 5 out of 5 stars and I hated to finish it.