Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Review: News of the World

News of the World News of the World by Paulette Jiles
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ah, I love well written westerns! Add in a smooth talking audiobook narrator with a great voice, and I'm in love!

Capt. Kidd doesn't want to be the one who delivers a silent, dirty 11-year-old to her aunt and uncle for $50, but he does. Years ago, the Kiowa had murdered her parents and stolen her, and she was fully adopted into their world. Now, like most child captives, she isn't acting thrilled to be returning to her old ways. Their journey is the story and they encounter a lot of trouble along the way!

Captivity stories are their own kind of trouble, I know, but I've read them since I was first introduced to Indian Captive: The Story of Mary Jemison when I was little. When I taught high school American lit, I introduced my students to the first American bestseller written by a woman, The Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson. This one can be grouped together with those as a captivity story, but it's so much more than that, mainly because Capt. Kidd becomes a better person because of his relationship with Johanna. She brings out the good in him. Even I teared up a little at the end!

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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Review: Calamity

Calamity Calamity by Brandon Sanderson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I don't know how Sanderson does it, but he writes the best kind of fantasy for me! Love how his books make me stay up too late, laugh, and grow attached to his characters. I hadn't read Book #1 and #2 in years of this series, but I was able to quickly pick up where I/they left off.

David and his Reckoners save the day (of course)!

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Monday, November 28, 2016

Review: The Sun Is Also a Star

The Sun Is Also a Star The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book had its sweet romantic moments, but moved very slowly to me. I listened to the audiobook and I was wishing that I could jump ahead during Disk 2 and 3 of the 7 disk audio. The narrators did a great job--loved having three separate people narrate the different perspectives.

New York City setting (again), but the Korean-American and Jamaican teenagers provided interesting backstories to the one-day-in-the-life-of romance novel. I think this is the first YA novel I've read about deportation, so I'm glad that a popular YA novel about such a topic was published.

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Saturday, November 26, 2016

Review: Deception's Princess

Deception's Princess Deception's Princess by Esther M. Friesner
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This author can whip out these princess books like crazy--I'm impressed because she's a decent writer. This one is all about Maeve in Connacht, and, yes, folks, she's a lot like very other Irish princess story you've ever heard. Acts like a man but is beautiful, smart as a whip, great at warfare, and has a dad that she has whipped. Nothing new in this book, but good for those tweens who want clean historical fiction with a touch of the fairy world.

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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Review: Rise the Dark

Rise the Dark Rise the Dark by Michael Koryta
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Parts of this action thriller hit to close to home. A domestic terrorist group is planning to take out a huge electrical plant that would make the northwest cities go dark. In doing so, they infiltrate dozens of online crazy groups (you know, the ALT-RIGHT ones), and feed on their ignorance to stir everyone up. And, um, it works.

In the meantime, Mark Novak is after the murderer of his wife, and ends up twisted into his family history in the mountains of Wyoming and Montana. The crazies are out in full force in this novel, but, whoa, it hits home after reading the "news" this morning. It's all about the message, folks, and the spindoctors who put it out there. I really enjoyed this and stayed up way too late to finish it--that's the sign of a good novel!

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Monday, November 21, 2016

Review: Thunder Boy Jr.

Thunder Boy Jr. Thunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I had to bring this one home so my 13-year-old daughter could read it to me. If I tell her that it's a possible medal winner, she's always willing to give a picture book a try. She wasn't thrilled with this one, but she did like the artwork in the guitar and some of the other illustrations. As did I!

I appreciate the little boy wanting to have a different name from his dad, but I was hoping he would find it himself! :)

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Sunday, November 20, 2016

Review: A Drop of Night

A Drop of Night A Drop of Night by Stefan Bachmann
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I can pick some former freshmen students who would have loved this book, but I think I'm just way too old for it. Love the concept--it's very The Grounding of Group 6, which was one of my favorite books growing up. But it just fell short to me--too many unanswered questions.

Some teens are selected from the US to travel to a secret underground palace in France to be the first ones to explore its mysteries. Sounds unreal, right? Um, yes. Someone is out to kill them and they must try to escape the booby-trapped (think Goonies!) palace and the wandering ghosts. This book isn't really all that scary, but I can see some young tweens loving it. I did love the cover and the mix of the modern day with the French Revolutionary time period.

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Review: All Is Not Forgotten

All Is Not Forgotten All Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a disturbing book to listen to in audio. There are graphic descriptions of rape, assault, and things you just don't want to listen to while you're driving down the road. The narrator is one asshole of a therapist that will make you doubt the efficacy of therapy for the rest of your life, too.

In general, the book is about a teenage girl who is raped at a party. She is treated with drugs to "forget" the details, but the treatment doesn't help her forget her feelings, and so she begins therapy to bring back the lost memories. Her family is a mess, she grasps onto thing she shouldn't, and her therapist is only concerned about himself. If you like disturbing reads, give this one a try.

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Saturday, November 19, 2016

Review: Remember the Ladies

Remember the Ladies Remember the Ladies by Gina L. Mulligan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Perfect for this election season--a reminder of the power of gender in DC and how women have to "work" men to get their votes. It's not based on a true story, other than the title coming from Abigail Adams' letter to her husband about remembering the ladies.
Amelia Cooke didn't have much of a life in an orphanage, and she took a risk going to DC to turn herself into a lobbyist in 1887. But she manages to learn how to turn her looks into her favor, and also manages to live at a hotel by herself, when every man around her wants her to be married and pregnant. She learns how Washington works, and it was interesting to see how the partnerships were made back then--lots of crooked deals, favors being pulled, and secrets being discovered for blackmail.

After reading this one, I don't see how any women could NOT vote in every possible election. Women fought HARD for the right to vote. It's not something that should be taken lightly.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Review: Hard Knocks

Hard Knocks Hard Knocks by Zoë Sharp
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Charlie Fox is my new favorite mystery-solving bad ass. She's pretty good at getting into scrapes, but since she teaches self-defense and was a victim of a horrific attack years ago, she's excellent at getting out of them now. Now the pendulum swings the other way--she's terrified that she's going to kill someone instead of simply maiming them.

When her old British Special Forces officer/lover contacts her to find out why a colleague mysteriously died at a bodyguard training facility in Germany, Charlie reluctantly agrees to go undercover and figure it out. But there are bigger problems--children are getting kidnapped, guns are being traded, and lowlife European gangsters are involved, too. Charlie takes care of business though, of course.

This series was first published in Britain, so it's difficult to find all of the books in America in my library system, which is why I skipped from Killer Instinct to Book #3 that I had to read in large print. Hoping the rest of the series will be easier to find!

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Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Review: The Underground Railroad

The Underground Railroad The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Oprah, you still know how to pick them!

Loved this book, although I have to admit I'll be pushing for Homegoing to win more prizes since I loved it more.

Interesting twist of having an actual underground railroad in the South in this alternative history, but the pain and suffering of Cora is so, so real. There is some literary genius going on in this novel--the symbolism and deep characterization will stick with me. And it might be alternative history, but bits and pieces of the alternative parts are oh-so-true in reality. It's one of those books that could use a re-read by me if I had the time.

Read it and see what the hype is all about!

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Monday, November 7, 2016

Review: The Gilded Years

The Gilded Years The Gilded Years by Karin Tanabe
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Interesting historical fiction novel about the first African-American woman to graduate from Vassar. In order to do so, she claimed she was French and English on her application, and led a double life when traveling between college and Roxbury in Boston. I'm always a fan of historical fiction about the gilded age, so the fictionalized world of Anita Hemmings was a perfect fit. Learning seven languages? Pretending to be engaged? All those fancy houses and horrible dresses and up-dos? I'm not sure if the author handled Anita's internal struggles about "passing" accurately, but I know I sure felt some of her pain. What a horrible situation--having to pretend to be someone you're not in order to attend the college of your dreams.

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Review: Redemption Road

Redemption Road Redemption Road by John Hart
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

John Hart is good--he's like John Jakes and Pat Conroy rolled into one. Southern, slow mystery with a cowboy-esqe feel and a slow-talking, redemption-seeking hot fallen cop who has just gotten out of prison. Now more young women are ending up dead at the abandoned church and he and his kinda woman must figure out who did it.

This book is full of disgusting small town secrets and examples of how the rich and connected get away with stuff because, you know, their last name. Great mystery! And wonderful audiobook--Scott Shepherd can talk to me all he wants!

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