Saturday, January 28, 2017

Where They Found Her by Kimberly McCreight

Where They Found Her by Kimberly McCreight  I'm a fan of Kimberly McCreight.  I loved Reconstructing Amelia that I read a few years ago.   She is one of a handful of authors who I will read without question.

Molly has been struggling with the unexpected loss of her second child while still in utero.  Like any mother, she blames herself.   She became depressed causing a strain on her marriage and on her daughter.   To get away, she and her family move to a new place and Molly becomes resumes her job as a journalist with a small paper.  She usually handles the social columns but, while the lead reporters are out of town, a story lands in Molly's lap.  It's a murder - and the victim is a newborn baby.

Molly's husband is afraid that the story will bring up Molly's depression about the loss of their own child, but Molly feels like this is a story that she has to tell.

There are so many twists and turns through this cast of memorable characters.  I really enjoyed reading it.  I gave it four stars and I love that I never saw it coming.  At least not completely.

A Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson

The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson  This one has been on my TBR list for a very long time.  Finally, one of my categories for my Goodreads challenge was a book from another's  list.  What did I find?  Here was this book, just waiting for me.

This is the story of Lia,  a princess whose parents have arranged a marriage with a neighboring kingdom to solidify peace.  Lia wants to be able to marry for love, like her brothers, so she runs away to make her own destiny.   With her she takes secret documents from the Chancellors secret stash.

Lia is a very different type of princess - willing to get her hands dirty, work hard,  and sacrifice for her friends.  She doesn't care about fine clothes or jewelry.  In fact she leaves it all behind in her quest for finding a better life.  All she takes with her is her best friend and they find work in a tavern.

While there she meets many interesting characters  - some who want to help her and one  who wants to kill her.  Will she be able to discern the truth and do what is right?

I gave this one three stars.  I really liked Lia but the story got a little long winded and convoluted in parts.  That said, I will continue on with the series because I think it has a lot of promise and I want to know how Lia's story ends. 

Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World's Most Famous Bear by Lindsay Mattick

Finding Winnie by Lindsay Mattick   I need a book with illustrations and my children have long been fans of Winnie the Pooh.  I found this absolutely gorgeous book at the local book store and I just new that my students would love it - an all around win!

This is the true story of Winnie -  the bear, the REAL bear, that Winnie - the - Pooh was based upon.   She was found by a veterinarian at a train depot - on a leash after a trapper had killed her mother.   The young veterinarian, Harry Coleburn, payed $20 to save the bear back in 1917.   He named her Winnie after his home town of Winnipeg.   She became a beloved member of his regiment, but when they were sent to the front lines,  Coleburn sent Winnie to live at the London Zoo.

It was there that she met and befriended Christopher Robin Milne who was allowed into Winnie's enclosure because they had such a good and true friendship.   Christopher Robin named his own stuffed bear after Winne - who was a GIRL, btw - and the rest, as they say is history.

This was a wonderful, wonderful book with fabulous illustrations.  I would recommend it to anyone.  Five stars.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher

The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher  This was on my list as a Christmas gift.   I had it for the book written by someone I admire and book about someone with a disability challenge.   When Carrie Fisher died just after Christmas, I was devastated.  I grew up loving Leia and wanting to be her.   She was the first "princess" in my lifetime that showed me that we could save ourselves.  And the boys, too.

Of course I've been a Star Wars fan all my life.  I saw the first one when I was 7 years old.  It made quite the impression.   I loved Luke Skywalker - what can I say?  I was young.   Things changed when Empire Strikes Back came out and my taste for tall, dark and handsome was firmly settled.  I never knew that Carrie and Harrison had a relationship in real life, though it definitely doesn't surprise me.

I loved reading Carrie's reminiscing of that time during her life.  She didn't glamorize it but just gives it to the reader straight up -no chaser.  I hadn't read any of her other books but I was delighted to see how conversational her writing style was and most of all how absolutely hysterical she was.  I'm definitely adding the others onto my TBR pile. 

This could be nothing less than 5 stars.  I loved every minute and most of all, I loved getting a clearer picture of the girl behind the buns. 

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

The Underground Railroad     If you have read my blog for any length of time, you know that I usually avoid Oprah's book choices like the plague.     I find them usually to be over rated and the lemmings that do whatever Oprah tells them to perpetuate the illusion.  It was worse when she had her talk show but it's still bad.  Try this tea!  Oprah loves it!   So?  I most often feel that Oprah wouldn't know a good book if it bit her on the ass, but occasionally we all get lucky.

No I don't think it's the best book of the century but it is beautifully written with deep and compelling characters. I adored Cora.  I thought she was brave and smart.   In fact the only characters that I didn't like are the ones that  the reader isn't supposed to.

Parts of the book - the plantation, South Carolina, the transits..... were action packed and riveting.  Other parts - North Carolina - for example were a little slow and dry.  That's why this book only gets a four not a five.  I enjoyed it.  I'm glad I read it but it didn't quite make me feel what Cora felt, see what she saw, smell what she smelled.  I just feel slightly shy. 

Twisted Fate by Norah Olson

Twisted Fate by Norah Olson  I read this one for the story told from two perspectives task  of my goodreads challenge.  This is the story of two sisters -  Ally and Syd and their new next door neighbor, the hot boy, Graham.

Of course one sister is pure and good and light.  She's blonde and listens to her parents and gets good grades.  She's bland and boring.   Then there's Syd - who's dark and bad and troubled and smart.   Have a I mentioned that I really hate when authors use such a trite mechanism as physical attributes to define a character.  Ugh.   This book was not off to a good start.

Grahm is trouble.  He's parents think he's "gifted" and "artistic" but the only one that seems to be onto him is Syd.  I thought this book was going to be two sisters in love with the same boy.  I'm glad it at least had a little more meat to it than that.

I found what the story grew into to be surprising and disturbing.   I gave it three stars based on the fact that it wasn't as awful as it initially appeared and the author did provide unexpected plot twists.  I probably wouldn't read another book of hers though.

Fang by James Patterson

Fang by James Patterson   I started to read the Maximum Ride novels when I was younger.  I really enjoyed reading about Max and her flock, but I never finished the series.  My youngest reminded me of it when she came home to tell me about this "awesome" book she had been reading. 

So, I decided that I would pick it up and finish the series.   I chose this one also for a book with a strong female lead because I think that anyone who has read this series can agree that Max is that, and even though the title of the book suggests it's about Max's male counterpart, it also does a fantastic job showcasing what an excellent leader Max is.

It was a quick read and fun.  Two more to go - Angel and Nevermore.  I gave this one four stars.  I love James Patterson.

Hidden Figures

Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly  My goal is to read more nonfiction books this year.  This one was number 1 out of 12.   I also read this for my reading challenge task book being made into a movie. 

When I was a girl,  I had trouble with math.  When I was in highschool, I asked a teacher for help.  His response was, "Don't worry about it.  You're a girl and your brain will never understand algebra".   Because of him,  I took four times the math requirement in college.   This book made me feel so vindicated in so many ways.

I loved the story, though it was a bit dry at times.  I think this is often the downfall of nonfiction - they have so many facts that they feel they have to work into the story that it weighs it down.  For example,  I didn't need to know how much they made doing laundry during the summer. I get that provides background knowledge of the characters but it didn't feel relevant to their work for NASA.

I'm really glad that this story was told and that this women were finally given the recognition that they deserve.  I really want to see the movie at some point.  I gave this one four stars.  Worth reading.

Monday, January 2, 2017

The Rbbit Back Literature Society by Pasi Ilmari Jaaskalainen

The Rabbit Back Literature Society   The first book of the new year, but not my first book for the 2017 challenge.  I've been working on that for a few weeks now.  I read this book for the author from another country category.    When I first picked this book up, in spite of the author's name, I had no idea that this was the case.  I had no idea that the author was from Finland and with my recent Backman  fascination,  I guess I'm starting to have a thing for Scandanavian writers.

This is one of the most original books I have read in a long time.  It's the story of Ella, a substitute English teacher who lives in the small town of Rabbit Back.  Here, the famous children's author, Laura White, is the local celebrity.  She has chosen 9 children to become members of the Rabbit Back Literature Society.  It is her intent to raise them up to be writers, which does, in fact happen.

After submitting a story to the local paper, Ella is invited to join the society.  This book is about what she learns after she becomes a member.  I enjoyed all the twists and turns and that it really kept you guessing.  The Game was a bit creepy, in my opinion.

I think that this book would also work as Magical realism because it definitely works to bridge the every day and the magical.  There is even a touch of horror in the story.  I gave it three stars.