Saturday, April 23, 2016

Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel.

Product DetailsApparently Brits like their literature the way they like their history - very dry.  I read this book for my reading challenge - the category- a winner of the Man Booker Prize.  On the cover, the enigmatic and well known face of Anne Bolyen - the woman who truly changed the world.

This book was about the final weeks prior to Anne's fall and mockery of a trail for adultery.   The book is seen through the eyes of Thomas Cromwell, who not only assisted in Anne's rise, but was also instrumental in  her decline.  Although I'm sure that Cromwell was a fascinating person around whom much of British history revolves, one would certainly not know it from this book.

I had hoped that the book would be mostly about Anne's trial.  Other historical references have discussed Anne's defense and her oratory arguments at length.  That was also not to be found in this book.  Instead, the author saw fit to focus on the men surrounding Anne - Thomas Wyatt,  her beloved brother, George Boleyn, Mark Smeaton, Henry Norris, and Francis Weston.    The author even went on to suggest that George offered up evidence against Anne without torture.  The only man in this account who seemed to be even remotely worthy of Anne was Harry Percy, a man she is claimed to have a precontract with prior to marrying Henry.   They ( Cromwell, the king and others) forced Harry to deny this contract so that Henry and Anne could marry, then they wanted him to claim he committed perjury so that they could bastardize Anne's daughter, Elizabeth.  Percy refused.  Good for him.  In punishment, they made him sit in judgement of a woman he once loved.

Here we have one of the most fascinating characters certainly of English history and possibly in the world and the author allows her to languish and her story to be told by others.  What a pity.

Finally, I have some words about the Booker Prize and the attitude by some that British literature is so superior to American.  First I would say that I love my Tolkien, Lewis and Rowlings - that can not be denied.   But as to others,  I will take my Twain, Hawthorne, Rand, Wharton, Mitchell and more over Austen etc......

I have this book three stars because it is grammatically correct and manages to tell a story; however, I am a history buff and I had to STRUGGLE just to get through.  Chose to read it at your own risk.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

How to Save a Life by Emma Scott

Product DetailsThis book was free with Kindle Unlimited.  I love  having the access to so many books with only a minimal cost per month.   My Kindle has been a wonderful thing!  So glad I switched from Nook which provided minimal benefits, at best.  

This book could be used for a book with the same title as a song ( I love that song by the Fray) and also a book about a road trip.  

This is the story of Josephine Clark, a girl whose flawed outside is a reflection of the flaws she thinks lurk on the inside.   She blames herself for so many things and moves around from place to place with her caretaker.   Jo has given up on love, until she meets Ethan.   He's the class freak - ostracized from his peers at school, adopted and unaccepted by his "brothers", Ethan has his own problems.  But he sees behind Jo's mask and together they sort of make sense.

The story has such promise for a YA romance but it's frustrating.  Jo and Ethan both get caught up in making the same mistakes over and over.   And then, the book has a trite Fire with Fire ( circa 1986)  ending.  Don't get me wrong, I was glad that in spite of impossible odds the book ends happily, it just felt a little too easy at the end.  

I gave this one 2 out of 5 stars.   It was ok, but not something I would recommend to a friend.  However, if you are looking for quick and easy to fill the above mentioned categories for a reading challenge - go for it.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

What She Knew by Gilly MacMillian

Product Details  I needed a book that had Who, What, Where or Why in the title.  This one had been loitering on my TBR list for a while, so this seemed like a good reason to pick it up.

This book is every mother's worst nightmare - you let your child out of your sight for a single moment and your living hell is now your reality.  Rachel is a single mother - divorced.   She and her 8 year old, Ben,  are learning to adjust to their new circumstances.   Rachel, Ben and their dog, Skittle go to the woods for a walk.  Ben asks if he can run ahead with Skittle.  Then the nightmare starts.

Rachel, like any mother, blames herself for her son being missing.  Her ex blames her, too.   This book is full of a cast of potentially shady characters, and even the ones you view as trustworthy all have something to hide.   This story is definitely full of twists and turns.

It was a bit slow at times and the stroy switches perspectives from the mother, Rachel, to the lead detective.   It even inlcuded some interviews with the lead detective conducted by some sort of internal affairs.   I thought these interviews greatly detracted from the pace and nature of the story.  That is why I gave it three out of five stars.  If you enjoy this genre, it is definitely worth looking into.


That said, why is it that this is the second book of this nature where the teacher or the teaching assistant turns out to be the villian.  Really, people??

George by Alex Gino

Product Details

I read this one for a middle grade book for my book challege.   It sounded intriguing.

This is the story of George, a little boy who identifies as a girl.  In her heart of hearts, she calls herself Melissa.   But, like most transgendered children, she has problems.   How will she tell her mom?  What will her older brother think?  Will her best friend, Kelly, accept her?

The crux of the story begins with Charlotte's Web.   George/ Melissa can relate to Charlotte and wants to be the spider in the class play.   However, of course, her teacher explains that this is a girls part.   Geroge just knows that if her mother could only see her on stage, then should would understand that George isn't gay, she is actually a girl.

There are so many gems in this short book.  I guess the best message is Be who you really are.  It's hard but in the end, being true to that is really all that matters.  And of ourse, this lends itself to the absolute Suessism " Those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind".   Real love is about accepting people for who they are, regardless of our own expectations and aspirations for them.  In the end, Melissa comes out on top.  I wish life were always so neat and easy for those struggling to figure out who they truly are.

Not for everyone but definitely a worthwhile read and I am so glad that children who need it, have books like this and characters like Melissa to relate to.  5 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Flawed by Cecilia Ahern

Product DetailsI am a tremendous fan of this author.  I have loved every book of hers that I have read, which is many.    I started reading her stuff 2 years ago and she does not disappoint.  This is her first YA novel.

This is the story of Celestine, a young girl who is , well, perfect.   She comes from the perfect family, has perfect grades, all the right friends and the perfect boyfriend.  And then an ordinary bus ride changes everything.

What if you lived in a society where a small group of individuals were allowed to determine what is morally right?  And what if, based on the determination of others, you could be deemed to be Flawed?   That is exactly what happened to Celestine.  

I loved this novel because, at the very heart of it, we are all flawed and who are we to sit in judgement of one another?   It really makes you think.  I am looking forward to the second novel !   If you enjoy YA this is a must.  5 out of 5 stars.

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

Product Details This was recommended by someone in my favorite Facebook group.  I love getting recommendations from fellow book lovers, so I picked this one up quickly.   I am so glad I did!

I absolutely loved this book!  I loved  everything about it!  It starts off with a bang and then goes back in time.  This is the story of Lavinia, a white indentured servant being raised by slaves on a plantation in Virginia prior to the Civil War.

The characters are all so real and very well developed.  I loved them all - from Mama Mae and Papa George to Miss Martha.   This story was brilliant in it's breadth and scope and tells quite the tale about this time in American History.    It's reminiscent of Uncle Tom's Cabin but not quite....

If you enjoy historical fiction, this book is a must.   I gave it 5 out of 5 stars. 

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Product DetailsI have been a fan of Greek mythology for as long as I can remember.  My favorite hero when I was young was Perseus because he was lucky enough to ride Pegasus.  What little girl doesn't dream of Pegasus?   But as I grew older, I read many, many of the Greek tragedies including The Odyssey, The Illiad, Oedipus Rex, and Antigone.  

I was having trouble coming up with a book for the category "A book about a major world event" for my goodreads challenge.  I love reading nonfiction but I don't really like reading about natural disasters or bank collapses.  I had already read The 6th Extinction, so I was at a lose and then I came across this.  I remembered the story of the Trojan war of beautiful Helen and the "face that launched a thousand ships".   I was sold.

This is the story of Achilles, as told through the perspective of his companion, Patrocles.  I love that the author made this story, what I believe to be historically accurate.  No, I don't mean that Achilles is the son of a goddess,  I mean culturally accurate.  I believe that this book represented some of the attitudes and practices of the time.    It was a quick read and I enjoyed every minute.   If you enjoy Greek mythology too, you definitely want to look into this one.   4 out of 5 stars. 

Finding Jake by Bryan Reardon

Product Details  This one had been on my TBR list for a while and it finally went on sale for $1.99 on Amazon.  SCORE!   I picked it up and started reading right away.   At first, it felt weird reading this so close to We Need to Talk About Kevin.   They are both about school shootings and they both go into the time before the shootings happen.   This book starts off with the happy couple finding out that they are pregnant.  The wife makes more than the husband, so it is decided that he will be a stay at home dad.   Initially I was concerned that this was going to become self absorbed and get caught up in the father's life.... It doesn't.

I loved this book because it takes nothing for granted.  Nothing is quite what it seems and yet the characters of Simon and Jake are especially well developed.  The author does a fantastic job of just revealing a little at a time.  We know that there has been a school shooting.  We know that the police are looking for Jake.

That's all I'm going to say because I don't want to ruin this wonderful book for you!  I am so glad I read it.  I HIGHLY recommend it.  5 out o5 stars


To the author, I just want to say thank you for creating a character like Jake.  Too often people jump to the wrong conclusions.  You book showed how easy that is to do and how very wrong a person can be.   I loved your book.

Monday, April 4, 2016

1/4 of the way through the year

Reading Challenge update.   I am currently involved in 4 reading challenges:   the monthly reading challenge, the unofficial popsugar challenge from facebook page, the official pop sugar challenge and around the world in 52 books on goodreads.   My own rules:  I NEVER repeat a title within a particular challenge but I can use the same title across challenges.   Here is my breakdown so far.  Completed tasks:

Unofficial PopSugar Challenge - 52 total tasks. 27 complete.
Nebula Award winner - Man in the High Castle by Philip K Dick.
Book of Poetry -  A Bit of Tickle for the Mind by Melinda McIntosh
YA Book - Emmy and Oliver
Fantasy - Girl of Fire and Thorns
Science Fiction - Morning Star by Pierce Brown
Debut Novel - The Pocket Wife by Susan Crawford
Book With Alliteration in the Title - Little Lamb Lost
A Book Because of it's Cover - You, Me, Him
New Author from the 2015 Challenge - The Men We Reaped by Jessmyn Ward
A Book Set in the State Where you Were Born - Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.
A book set in a state you would like to visit - We Never Asked for Wings
A Book your Father Loves - The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe
Main Character is an animal - Worthy
Time Travel Book - The Rose Garden
A book about books - The Little Paris Bookshop
A Book about Pirates - A Darker Shade of Magic
Retelling of a Fairy Tale - A Court of Thorn and Roses
Published in 2016 - All the Birds in the Sky
A Book over 100 years old - Ivanhoe
A book outside your comfort zone - The Humans by Matt Haig
Free Book - Gifts of the Blood by Vicki Keire
Friend Recommended - Confess by Colleen Hoover
Guilty Pleasure - The Distance Between us by Kasie West
Doesn't fit anywhere else - The Glass Sword
Brit Lit - Never Let me Go
Erotica - The Woodsman
Adventure Novel - To Kill the Potemkin
Protagonist of a different gender - The Life We Bury
A book about Heroes - The Song of Achilles

The Official PopSugar Challenge
Based on Fairy Tale - A Court of Thorn and Roses
A YA Best Seller - The Yellow Brick War by Danielle Paige
Book set in Home State - Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
Translated into English - Missing Pieces by Heather Gudenkauf
Book under 150 pages - Never, Never part 3 by Colleeen Hoover
NYT bestseller - The Life We Bury
A Book you can finish in a day - The Distance Between Us by Kasie West
A Book with 600 pages - After
Oprah Book - Never Let Me Go.
Science Fiction - The Last Girl
Recommended by a family member - Confess by Colleen Hoover
Published in 2016- Morning Star by Pierce Brown
Takes place during Summer - Whisper Beach
Murder Mystery - The Pocket Wife.
Book of Poetry - A Bit of Tickle for the Mind
Takes Place on an Island - A Darker Shade of Magic

Goodreads Challenge -
Meant to read in 2015 but didn't - You, Me, HIm
Book from Goodreads awards - Confess by Colleen Hoover
Book by author discovered in 2015 - Men We Reaped
Book with a title that starts with L - Life as We Knew It
A Book about books - The Little Paris Bookshop
Book from summer reading list - Whisper Beach
A Book with a first name in the title - We Need to Talk about Kevin
First book in a series - Gifts of the Blood by Vicki Keare
The Next book in a series - The Glass Sword
Main Character has interesting Profession - A Darker Shade of Magic
YA - Raven Boys
16th book on my TBR list - Little Lamb Lost
Seen Movie but Haven't Read the book - StarDust by Neil Gaiman
Anti-hero - After
Favorite Genre Novella - King of Beasts by Danielle Paige
Top 100 Fantasy Novel - A Court of Thorn and Roses
Scary Novel - Finding Jake
Book Embarrassed to Read in Public - Bookishly Ever After
Crime Story - The Life We Bury
Published in 2016 - Morning Star.

Monthly Challenge -
A book made into a movie - Stardust
A Book Recommended by a friend - The Life We Bury
Published in 2016 - Morning Star

Sunday, April 3, 2016

A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab

Product Details This book worked nicely in several categories for the different challenges I am doing.  I used it for a book about an island in my PopSugar Challenge and for a book about pirates in the Goodreads challenge. 

I picked this up because someone recommended the book A Gathering of Shadows, which is book 2 in the series.   Well, you can't exactly read book 2 without book 1.   I'm so glad that I read this, it was very original.

It's the story of Kell, a traveler who uses magic to move between parallel universes - London to be exact.  There is Red London, White London, Grey London and Black London.  Kell is a messenger, he carries monthly missives from his King to the other royals in the other Londons.    But he has a terrible habit, he likes to collect artifacts from the other universes, which is strictly forbidden.

Enter Delilah Bard - a cut purse and wanna be pirate.   She steals something of Kells - a token that he desperately needs.  

Its a fascinating story with a strong female character.   I thoroughly enjoyed it and I can't wait to read about the further adventures of Ms. Bard in A Gathering of Shadows.   I gave this one 4 out of 5 stars.