Friday, July 31, 2015

Review: What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding

What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding by Kristin Newman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Just what I needed to read today!

This travel memoir made me laugh out loud--some things seemed eerily familiar to my own travel experiences. I'm jealous of her travels--she is more of a people person than me, and she's able to make good friends easily and bum her way across New Zealand staying in people's houses.

Love the title, but I was surprised that she didn't travel much by herself--she always seemed to need/want a travel buddy. Her international romance tales were the best.

Now I need to go to Brazil.

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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Review: The Valley

The Valley The Valley by John Renehan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I had nightmares last night after finishing this book. At 2:07 am, I woke up standing next to my window with my heart pounding--no idea how or why I was there. Then an hour or so later, I woke up after having a dream where I was running blindly through woods with someone chasing me.

So, um, yeah, I say this is a very realistic mystery thriller novel set in Afghanistan.

Lt. Black is working a fifteen-six at COP Vega, at the heart of an Afghan valley close to the Pakastani border. It was just warning shots fired into the air, so he figures it'll be an easy write-up after interviewing the soldiers involved. The convoy only arrives on Sundays, so he thinks the week will be a break from living on the FOB.

(I really liked learning all the military jargon--yes, I'm a geek)

But the soldiers don't want to talk and he catches them lying. There have been many KIA at this outpost and the sergeants aren't helping. And so Black gets sucked into the mystery. He is great at digging into things, figuring things out, and, well, he does mess up occasionally.

Lots of shooting, soldiering, intrigue, and beautiful parts of Afghanistan. I'd love to hear from someone who served in Afghanistan to see how accurate this is--the author was Army infantry in Iraq, and it seems like he did his research.

My nightmares proved it.

I'm looking forward to the next book by this first-time novelist.

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Sunday, July 26, 2015

Review: Another Man's Moccasins

Another Man's Moccasins Another Man's Moccasins by Craig Johnson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Best Walt Longmire book yet.

When a young Vietnamese woman ends up dead in his county, Walt starts having flashbacks to when he and Bear were in Vietnam. And things aren't pretty. He was a MP back then, and caught up in a twisted world of drugs, sex, and lies--all always common during war, right?

Enjoyed the mystery in this one, but really loved getting to know more about Walt and Bear back when they were young.

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Saturday, July 25, 2015

Review: A Lasting Impression

A Lasting Impression A Lasting Impression by Tamera Alexander
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this author's To Whisper Her Name, but this first book in a series was flat to me. I found myself rolling my eyes and reading a few sentences aloud to people around me because of the corniness. And that's exactly what I DIDN'T see with the other novel I read by her! Sigh. I'll give it one more shot and try one more from her.

This had things I liked--post-Civil War Nashville, girl trying to make it on her own, artwork, rich people, and class warfare. But the whole Oh No I Can't Let Them Find Out About My Past Thing was stretched too far. The romance wasn't a surprise either. I won't read the rest in this series.

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Review: The Good Girl's Guide to Getting Lost: A Memoir of Three Continents, Two Friends, and One Unexpected Adventure

The Good Girl's Guide to Getting Lost: A Memoir of Three Continents, Two Friends, and One Unexpected Adventure The Good Girl's Guide to Getting Lost: A Memoir of Three Continents, Two Friends, and One Unexpected Adventure by Rachel Friedman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Great travel memoir about traipsing through Ireland, Australia, and South America. I related to Friedman traveling alone and her reasons for doing so, but I'm not sure I could go off for months on end. Maybe when I retire? I've never stayed at a hostel anywhere, and I think I may be too spoiled and old to do so now! If I could get a private room--maybe I could handle a shared bathroom. Maybe. Ha! I'm so selfish. Not as many quotable moments as in Without Reservations: The Travels of an Independent Woman, but it's more like I learned what I DON'T want to do!

No Bolivia for me. No biking down Death Roads.

Although I wouldn't mind meeting the love of my life in another country like this author did....

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Review: I'll Meet You There

I'll Meet You There I'll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Skylar is trying so hard to get out of her middle-of-nowhere town in California. Art scholarship is lined up, but her deadbeat mom might make her stay home--who else can make sure she pays the rent? Skylar's job at the local pay-by-the-hour motel is all that keeps food on the table, but her job is the last thing on her mind now that Josh is home from Afghanistan. Josh is missing a leg thanks to the war, and suffering from PTSD and hot/silent/brooding/popular stud syndrome. Skylar doesn't want a relationship to mess up her virginity or her future college career, but sometimes things get complicated.

Great love story, coming of age story, and traditional families sometimes suck story. Luckily Skylar has other supportive people in her life. Perfect read for high school seniors and new college students contemplating life changes.

This one reminded me of really good old Sarah Dessen books.

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Review: Binky: License to Scratch

Binky: License to Scratch Binky: License to Scratch by Ashley Spires
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

No one is ever too old to read Binky.

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Review: The Irish Princess

The Irish Princess The Irish Princess by Karen Harper
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I'm a sucker for anything Irish, especially if you throw a Tudor into the mix. Gera is an Irish princess--a pissed off one because King Henry VIII has killed off most of the men in her family because of rebellion. Since she's a mere young lady (a pretty one, though, of course), she becames a lady of the courts of future and current queens, all the time plotting how she can kill the king of England. The plotting was a little overdone--can some Irish princess be that independent while flirting with young men and helping other ladies dress?

But it was a fun vacation read.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Review: Perfect Fifths

Perfect Fifths Perfect Fifths by Megan McCafferty
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I read all the books in this series that started with [b:Sloppy Firsts|138202|Sloppy Firsts (Jessica Darling, #1)|Megan McCafferty||2975988], but for some reason I never read the fifth book that ended it all. Maybe I'm more of a cynic now, but the rekindled high school love story thing just didn't work for me. And the witty airport dialogue was most of the entire book, which, whew, was exhausting. However, I will have to say that Marcus Flutie and Jessica Darling will remain one of the great couples of YA literature for a long time!

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Review: The Venetian Bargain

The Venetian Bargain The Venetian Bargain by Marina Fiorato
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

You throw the Black Death and Venice together in about any story, and I'm going to enjoy it! I've read several of Marina Fiorato's other books and they are great historical romance fiction. This didn't disappoint! Great vacation read! And now I want to go to Venice....

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Review: Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town

Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town by Jon Krakauer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a MUST-READ for all incoming college freshmen. Get this on the summer reading lists, now, people! This is a hard listen, as I kept having flashbacks to my freshman year of college, when the senior frat boys loved taking advantage of naive little country girls like me. No one had ever told me what rape was, which is a huge shame, because it's a discussion that should happen with all high school students. This book focuses on Missoula, and how the rape culture of the town was horrific. The football boys got away with rape and "thuggery" and the women who dared to accuse them were vilified and scared to go out in their hometown. Every time I hear "She asked for it" or "she's a slut" or "she's so drunk she doesn't know what she's doing" makes me cringe. Alcohol is NO excuse. Know what consent is and teach the men and women in your life what consent is. Worst/best part of the book? The interview with Frank where he discusses how he takes advantage of freshmen girls. He has no idea that he's a rapist. Ugh. Sad. Gross. Get this book in your college classes. Please.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Red Queen by Victoria Abeyard

Well, I don't see why there's a lot of hype for this title--it felt like something I had read before. 

Mare is born a Red, which means she is doomed to be a servant/slave/nothing to the Silvers who run her country.  But when she magically manifests powers of lightning from her hands, the Silvers "adopt" her and engage her to a prince.  (okay, that part I had a real problem with) She joins the rebellion (of course she does), but finds out that people betray her easily and she's a sucker for a pretty face and lies.

I really kept thinking of other books as I read this one, and that's not a good thing for me.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Firefight by Brandon Sanderson, Book #2 in The Reckoners

Firefight (Reckoners, #2)Firefight by Brandon Sanderson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Brandon Sanderson kicks ass! I can't believe I didn't read this sequel to Steelheart when it first came out, but I'm glad I found it when I did!

The epics are playing dirty again, trying to destroy cities of innocent civilians. But Steelslayer, aka David, is working with the Reckoners to kill all epics. David is one of the few who knows that their leader the Prof is also an epic, and he's one of the reasons why David starts to believe that epics can use their powers for good. They just have to figure out how, right?

Nonstop adventure with snarky dialogue and lots of jumping between buildings and shooting things. Love this series! It's marketed YA but easily crosses over to adult. Read this if you're a fan of superhero stuff.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell.

MechanicaMechanica by Betsy Cornwell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Reviewed from ARC. Expected to be published August 25th 2015. I'm a sucker for fairy tale stories, so I enjoyed this take on Cinderella.

It is NOT Cinder, folks, and I wish people would realize that are tons of Cinderella remakes out there--not just Cinder.

Nicolette is an orphan forced to work as a servant in her own house, thanks to her step-mother and step-sisters. But she thrives in her mother's workroom, where she invents things to make her job easier. Fairy objects might be banned now, but her mother used them to make magic happen in their house--special powder that magically cleaned chimneys, little metal bugs that can clean and sew, and a special glass horse that seems like a best friend.

When Nick befriends Caro and Finn, they encourage her to sell her wares at the market, and Nick uses the money to build something fabulous to show at the kingdom's exhibition of the arts and sciences.

Nick does get her shot at the prince, but she is more interested in finding a financial backer for her projects so she can create a life of her own--you go, girl!

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Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman

Challenger DeepChallenger Deep by Neal Shusterman

If I were on the Printz committee this year, I would have to read this.

But I'm not! And so I'm choosing not to. I read the first 20 pages and wasn't thrilled with the ship/captain stuff, so I moved onto to something more enjoyable to me.

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Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us by Michael Moss. Read by Scott Brick.

Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked UsSalt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us by Michael Moss

Listening to the first disk of this audiobook made me stop at Dollar General and buy Goldfish, which is probably the opposite of what the author wanted me to do.

I know this book is important--the food giants (Nabisco, General Mills, Kraft, etc.) purposely try to add food additives to their products that addict us to their salt/sugar/fat products. And it works--I'm living proof. Processed food is the devil--you can tell by how fat and unhealthy Americans are.

Best bet? Don't go into the middle aisles of the grocery store--stick to the produce and meat aisles. Nothing with more than a few ingredients is good for you, even if it tastes like heaven.

I'm looking at you, Velveeta.

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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Absolute Power by David Baldacci. Read by Scott Brick.

Absolute PowerAbsolute Power by David Baldacci
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The president is an asshole. He uses and preys on women and relies on the Secret Service to cover his tracks.

That's the premise for David Baldacci's first novel. As I was listening to the audiobook, I realized that I had read the book years ago, but I was okay with that. It was exciting--and how often are the LAWYERS the good guys in books? I appreciated that there were NO gunshots in this audio production--I'm not a fan of those in the more recent audio productions.

Scott Brick is a solid narrator, too. The next book I started was Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us, and I couldn't believe that it was Scott Brick again. What are the chances?

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Monday, July 13, 2015

More Happy than Not: a Novel by Adam Silvera

More Happy Than NotMore Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh, I hope this gets some Morris Award love.

It's a great readalike for Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe--more gritty and real and urban though.

MTV blurbed it: "Eternal Sunshine for the now generation."

Set in the Bronx, this YA novel tackles homosexuality, depression, suicide, "turning straight," first loves, friendship, housing projects, being a man, and so much more.

Aaron Soto's voice is amazing--I want to give him hugs and good YA novels to read.

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Saturday, July 11, 2015

Faith (The Remaining, Book #4.6) by D. J. Molles

Faith (The Remaining, #4.6)Faith by D.J. Molles
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Short little teaser novella continuing the story between books 4 and 5 in the series. I'm glad I was able to check it out through the 3M Cloud Library at my library!

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Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Fractured (The Remaining series) by D. J. Molles

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

Book #4 of this series and I'm still loving it!

The Infected are getting more mobile and nimble--not just wandering and eating, now they are hunting prey and climbing fences.

Capt. Lee Harden's plan to split his forces sounded like a good idea in Book #3, but everything that could go wrong did. Now he's injured and reliant on others to pick up the slack. Most importantly, they must get rid of isolationist Jerry who is already injuring the people by not scavenging the area for antiobiotics and other valuable resources.

Lots of shootouts, brave people, and idiots--just the way I like my war books. Next up will be some novellas that were published before Book #5.

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Monday, July 6, 2015

One Thing Stolen by Beth Kephart

One Thing StolenOne Thing Stolen by Beth Kephart
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Not my thing. Good thing I'm not on the Printz committee this year--I don't HAVE to read anything!

It's a bit too mentally disturbing and all over the place for me right now, so I'll continue on to something else on my to-read list. Loved the Florence setting though....

I read the first 50 pages and the last 20 or so on my lunch break. Interesting. But not my thing.

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A Cold Day in Paradise by Steve Hamilton

A Cold Day in Paradise (Alex McKnight, #1)A Cold Day in Paradise by Steve Hamilton
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was a fan of The Alex Award winning The Lock Artist, so when I found out that this author had a huge private detective series, I wanted to give it a go.

I enjoyed the read so much that I finished it in one night. I'm really not a fan when the bad guy has a monologue at the end where he tells all though. There has to be a better way to find out the goods.

The ending is unsatisfactory, too, but I have a feeling the rest of the series will address some of Alex McKnight's problems left unsolved.

And yay for the Michigan setting!

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Sunday, July 5, 2015

The Poison Throne by Celine Kiernan

The Poison Throne (Moorehawke Trilogy, #1)The Poison Throne by Celine Kiernan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Young Wynter is an apprentice to her carpenter father, but his health is failing. They return to the household of their king, but things have changed. Her childhood friend Razi is no longer the well-liked bastard son of the King. Now he's to take his brother's place at the side of the King, and the kingdom isn't happy. Neither is Razi, and the hunt for the true heir is on.

Of course, that doesn't happen in this book--hello Book #2 in the series, I assume.

I enjoyed the read, but I probably won't move onto #2. I could have had about 100 pages cut out and enjoyed it more. Too much sickbed talk for me.

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Little Tree by Loren Long

Little TreeLittle Tree by Loren Long
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sweet, gentle story about embracing change from the creator of Otis. The poor little tree refuses to drop "his" leaves (why is the tree male?) and so his friends grew up tall around him, while he remained little. Eventually he has the guts to drop his leaves and he begins to grow, too.

The animals who come to check out the tree are the best part--cute deer and critters.

Not sure why the publisher sent me two matted illustrations from this book. If anyone wants one and is in my library system, let me know.

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All the Rage by Courtney Summers

All the RageAll the Rage by Courtney Summers
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Such a hard read that I had to put it down and watch some episodes of The Last Ship before I went back to finish it. I cried, I hurt, and this book brought back many thoughts and feelings that I didn't want to re-feel.

Romy's school is cruel (thank God my high school wasn't this bad). She is branded a slut and doesn't stand up for herself against the cool kids that she used to be a part of. She tried to tell her story earlier and it got shot why talk? But now when her former best friend goes missing, all the dark feelings come out again.

Romy does feel rage, and she has every right to feel it. This town is tight and holds secrets and doesn't believe anything negative against its golden boys. The part where Romy hopes a pregnant lady doesn't have a daughter was just heartbreaking to me. Romy is without hope.

This is a must-read for all teenagers--male and female. It is the Speak for this generation. So good and powerful and dark and haunting.

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A Crucible of Souls by Mitchell Hogan

A Crucible of Souls: Book One of the Sorcery Ascendant SequenceA Crucible of Souls: Book One of the Sorcery Ascendant Sequence by Mitchell Hogan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Perfect crossover title for young adults! So glad this was one of the ten or so ARCs that I picked up at ALA Annual. (Years ago I used to ship titles home--now I'm picky).

Caldan is a young orphan who is raised at the monastery. While there he learns sorcery, book learning, and sword-fighting, but when he accidently injures a noble's son, he is asked to leave. Luckily he finds refuge at the Sorcerer's Guild, where he hones his own mysterious talent. When his city is attacked, Caldan must do his best to save his friends.

Give this to fans of The Name of the Wind. It won the 2013 Aurealis Award in Australia, so I'm glad it's being published this year in the USA.

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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan

Daughter of Deep SilenceDaughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I enjoyed The Forest of Hands and Teeth, so this one was hard to finish because it was so amateurish. There might be a fourteen-year-old out there somewhere who has no idea what reality or love or friendship is who will love this. Maybe.

So many off the wall things happen. Almost all the passengers aboard a small cruise ship die. Someone takes someone's identity. And it goes on and on. But the real kicker is that the main character is in love (she swears! True love all started when she was 14!) with the senator's son. The same senator whom she believes killed her parents. Ugh. So unbelievable. I mean, she really wants to get revenge and kill him, but then she tingles when he's around? Yuck.

Setting was a real problem here, too. At times, it felt like the story took place about the time the Titanic sank, but then the character would hold out a cell phone, and it threw me. The setting just didn't feel consistently modern.

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Abolitionista! by Thomas Estler. Art by Delilah Buckle and Lizbeth R. Jimenez

Abolitionista! (Vol. 1)Abolitionista! by Thomas Estler
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This graphic novel for tweens/teens explains how easy it is to fall victim to sex trafficking. This story needs to be told--that older guy who "loves" you is really just wanting to use you, dear.

It's told in manga format, which I don't really understand since it didn't originate in Japan, but I did appreciate the artwork.

In this story, the victims are 12. At the back of the book, there are cards that can be pulled out and distributed to young people needing help.

There is no violent rape or sex in the book, but it is hinted at, as well as the fact that the support system doesn't always work the way it should in these situations.

There was a misspelled word on page 43--too bad someone didn't edit this before printing. The cards at the end don't line up perfectly either.

I am adding this book to our library collection, simply because I think it's a story that needs to be told.

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Home Front by Kristin Hannah. Read by Maggi-Meg Reed

Home FrontHome Front by Kristin Hannah
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I had to stop at Disk 5. Why? Because I couldn't handle the way the children were written. They were brats--complete and total children that needed to be grounded forever.

Jolene Zarkades, the main character, is a strong woman. She pilots Blackhawk helicopters and is a national guard captain. She is married to a husband who is a lawyer, so neither one of them should be so pitiful when it comes to raising children. But somehow they both allow their kids to treat them with so much disrespect. They are whiny and selfish, and I couldn't listen to anymore. I'm sure that later in the book, the bratty 12-year-old learns to "respect" her mother who is serving in Iraq, but I couldn't put up with it anymore. I think it's worse in audio--even the voices of the kids are annoying.

The lawyer dad I wanted to smack, too. He's a complete idiot father who left everything to his wife to handle, and then has to rely on his mommy to get through his wife's term of duty. Disgusting.

And I also couldn't stand the main character. Yes, her childhood was horrible. But spoiling her kids isn't helping anything, and neither is treating her husband like another child.

Ugh. This book was everything I hate about popular dramatic fiction.

I still want to read a book about a mother going off to war, though, so let me know a title of a good one.

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