Friday, March 27, 2015

Rebel Queen by Michelle Moran

Rebel QueenRebel Queen by Michelle Moran
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After I checked out this book, I noticed it was by the same author who wrote Madame Tussaud: A Novel of the French Revolution, so I wasn't thrilled. However, I was pleasantly surprised by this one, mainly because I learned so much about Indian history.

Sita is a poor Indian girl from the village of Jhansi, but her father has big dreams. She is trained to become a female protector of the rani (the queen) of India. She eventually becomes one of her Durga Dal, but the British are already in India. I found the history fascinating--how Britain kept the Indian rulers as puppet leaders, and how the weak Indian king had more interest in playing a girl in plays than ruling a country. Qheen Lakshmi had the real power--she even practiced with her female warriors and was educated.

My only qualm? There were times when I felt like the author was shoving definitions of Indian words down my throat. I would rather have her write the words in context--let me figure out what they mean. Heck, there's a glossary in the book anyway! (Not that I ever check those).

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Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Escape by David Baldacci

The Escape (John Puller, #3)The Escape by David Baldacci
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I had forgotten how much I enjoy reading Baldacci's books. I always claim that Patterson, Grisham, and King's new stuff isn't as good as the old, but I think Baldacci has held up well during popularity.

I feel silly for reading Book #3 in the series first--guess I'll have to play catchup.

John Puller's brother escapes from the most secure Army prison at Ft. Leavenworth and an unknown dead man is found is his bunk. Robert Puller was in prison for treason--but maybe he was innocent? As the secrets come out, a lot of people die. Both brothers have top secret pasts in the NSA, Army/Air Force, and various governmental abbreviations. I enjoyed the espionage and movie-like action--relaxing and fast-paced book!

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Monday, March 23, 2015

The Girl with All the Gifts by M. R. Carey

The Girl with All the GiftsThe Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Once again, it's the end of the world. But, ahh, man, this one pulls at the heartstrings.

Melanie is a child at a school. She's strapped into a chair every day by security guards, and is taught things like Greek myths and the Periodic Table. Eventually she learns why she's strapped into a chair and, whoa, prepare to keep reading the book until you're finished!

This is a thrill ride--nonstop action for the last 3/4 of the book, and the characters make it heart-wrenching. This kind of character development doesn't usually happen in an apocalyptic novel, so it was a refreshing read. I'm impressed--looking forward to the next one by this author.

And I blame the bags under my eyes today on this novel--I had to finish it last night once I had started it.

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Friday, March 20, 2015

Pen & Ink: Tattoos and the Stories Behind Them by Isaac Fitzgerald and Wendy MacNaughton

Pen & Ink: Tattoos and the Stories Behind ThemPen & Ink: Tattoos and the Stories Behind Them by Isaac Fitzgerald
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Does it make me sound old when I say that the book's font was difficult for me to read? I know it's supposed to look cool, but I hate when I have to read slowly because of a publisher's decision! The cursive conjunctions drove me nuts! Nuts, I say!

But I still read some of the stories as I flipped through and looked at the tattoos. My favorite is actually the first one--the guy who got the cute little bunny on his back when everyone else was getting tough guy tattoos.

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Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Station ElevenStation Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It's the end of the world again--this time, it's a flu. It hit America (and the world) quickly and the few remaining survivors are trying to re-build civilization.

That story has been told before, but Mandel tells her story well. It's a fast read--you get to know some characters that you'll care about. There's a traveling group of actors who perform Shakespeare and play classical music, an aging Hollywood star with many ex-wives, a little girl who is given graphic novels, and an ex-paparazzi photographer who decides to become a paramedic. The book covers Ground Zero to Year 15. People survive. And thrive. People who love the arts will love this one!

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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Phantom Instinct by Meg Gardiner

Phantom InstinctPhantom Instinct by Meg Gardiner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sometimes I need to read a book that is like a Jack Bauer episode and this thriller worked for me! In fact, I read it in one day--that's the sign of a book that grabs your attention!

Harper's boyfriend is gunned down in a shooting at a nightclub, and a year later she is still mourning. But she's also still investigating the crime--she swears there was a third shooter, but the detectives don't believe her. She finds an unlikely ally in a police officer who was working at the club that night--Aiden also believes there was a third shooter, but he was injured in the fire at the club that night and he's not mentally stable enough to carry a gun. The two of them know that the 3rd shooter is following them, and, sure enough, he is. Eventually there is a 24-hour scene straight out of a movie that results in gunfire, backstabbing, new alliances, and corrupt corporations. All in all, it was an enjoyable fluffy treat!

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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

You Can Buy Happiness (and It's Cheap): How One Woman Radically Simplified Her Life and How You Can Too by Tammy Strobel.

You Can Buy Happiness (and It's Cheap): How One Woman Radically Simplified Her Life and How You Can TooYou Can Buy Happiness (and It's Cheap): How One Woman Radically Simplified Her Life and How You Can Too by Tammy Strobel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I liked the message so much that I didn't care if the writing was disjointed. I can tell the author is a blogger--I have a feeling this book was pieced together from multiple blogposts, but that's okay. I enjoyed the stories of the author and her friends, as well as how she name dropped so I have other books and blogs to look for. I loved how she included small things that anyone can do to downsize their life--makes it easier to start the process.

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Sunday, March 15, 2015

Midnight in Peking: How the Murder of a Young Englishwoman Haunted the Last Days of Old China by Paul French

Midnight in Peking: How the Murder of a Young Englishwoman Haunted the Last Days of Old ChinaMidnight in Peking: How the Murder of a Young Englishwoman Haunted the Last Days of Old China by Paul French
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It helps that I just visited Shanghai and Beijing as I finished this book! But, it's, oh, so sad since it's a real story. China was crooked in 1937. When young and pretty Pamela Werner is found brutally murdered, an investigation ensues, and this book tells the tale of the investigation. So many secrets and mysteries and corrupt officials. So, so, sad for Pamela and her father.

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The Remaining by D.J. Molles

The Remaining (The Remaining, #1)The Remaining by D.J. Molles
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Holy fast-moving zombie novel! It's like Rot and Ruin and adult was sniper books all rolled into a popular series. Now I want the sequels.....the novella that was included at the end isn't enough! And I was scared when I read this alone in my Beijing hutong hotel room. Had to read until the end to make sure everything turned out okay. And of course, I still don't know! Ugh!

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The Alex Crow by Andrew Smith

The Alex CrowThe Alex Crow by Andrew Smith
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Well, this isn't quite as weird as Grasshopper Jungle. But Andrew Smith is getting quite the odd reputation. Several stories come together at the end of this and I can't say too much without giving a lot of away. But there is a scene of extreme violence that really bothered me--that makes this for older YAs. Smith still likes to talk about masturbation a lot--I'm wondering if he can write a book that doesn't talk about pleasuring a penis constantly? Is it possible?

I guess I'm burned out. I thought Grasshopper Jungle was unique and was happy it got Printz recognition. But I don't think this one will. I'm feeling like it's another Paper Towns after Looking for Alaska--a repeat of an earlier novel by the same author that received much praise.

I'm ready for something new from Andrew Smith. The masturbation scenes aren't enough anymore.

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