Showing posts from 2016

Book 160: "Red Dragon" by Thomas Harris

Title: Red Dragon (Hannibal Lecter 1)
Author: Thomas Harris
Read in: Mass Market Paperback
Genre:  Thriller
Publisher: Berkley

This is outside my usual genres. I am not really a thriller reader, in general. However, my book club is helping me to break my habits and re-explore little read by me genres. I chose this book, in all honesty, because I do have a thing for creepy serial killers. I can't tell you why, but their histories (not their deeds) fascinate me. It is for that reason that I love the Hannibal Lecter movies. They focus less on the actual crimes of serial killers but on the why. So, when my book club chose to read a spooky book for fall; I decided it was more than time for me to read the books to the movies I appreciate so much. As is almost always (excepting the case of maybe 3 books) the book was SO much better.

I really enjoyed this book. It is well written, well developed (both plot and characters), and it definitely keeps the reader turning the page. It's just the…

Book 159: "The Halloween Tree" by Ray Bradbury

Title: The Halloween Tree
Author: Ray Bradbury
Genre: Children's Adventure/ Mythology
Publisher: Yearling
Read in: Trade Paperback

I have to admit I've only read Fahrenheit 451 of Bradbury's many, many works- that is until now. I actually enjoyed this book much more! While I appreciate Bradbury's classic; it has never really spoken to me. This book really has nothing to do with Fahrenheit 451 except for the author. I just wasn't sure what to expect.

I really enjoyed this book. It's a story of a troop of boys on Halloween that go to their local haunted mansion. One boy gets kidknapped and the rest join a spirit guide through the many ages and traditions that make up Halloween to rescue him. The book is fun, educational, and one you can tear apart (if you want to). This is the perfect Halloween story for children and adults. It has spooky and heartwarming moments. Really, I recommend everyone read it for Halloween- or any time.

Book 158: "Once Upon a Zombie" By Billy Phillips & Jenny Nissenson

Book: Once Upon a Zombie: Book One: The Color of Fear
Authors: Billy Phillips and Jenni Nissenson
Read In: Nook ePub
Genre: YA Zombie/Fairy Tale
Publisher: Toon Studio, Inc

I hate zombie books. It is simply a genre I've never really enjoyed. So when my book club chose Zombies as our theme a couple months ago- I was less than thrilled. I searched for the least zombie, fastest read I could find. I found it and was pleasantly surprised. This book was cute, not super original, but cute. It also sends a message that I wouldn't exactly want my teenage girl to read though it is paired with a message that is good. Let me explain.

This book is set in our world and the world of Fairy Tales. The Fairy Tale world has been struck with a Zombie plague by the Queen of Hearts. The Royalty of the land are the only ones that, though zombified, have retained their own free will and personalities. They need the help of a mortal girl, who they lure in through graves. The Disney Princesses are the main…

Book 157: "Imprudence" by Gail Carriger

Title: Imprudence (Custard Protocol Series #2)
Author: Gail Carriger
Genre: Steampunk Fantasy
Publisher: Orbit

 As you have probably guessed, I really liked this book! Carriger has yet to fail me with her stories.

This is the second book of the Custard Protocol Series. Book 1 was, Prudence. I am sad, my fellow readers, to let you know that Carriger won't be releasing book 3 of the series next year. However she is providing us with Novellas instead, which, if they are all as wonderful as Poison or Protect, should tide us over, almost. I can be patient- like I have a choice.

I apologize for digressing. As usual, I really enjoyed Imprudence. It is action packed, has fantastic characters, it made me laugh, and yes, even cry a little. I won't provide spoilers. But I believe I enjoyed this book even more than the first of the series. I'm really growing to love the offspring of the Parasol Protectorate characters just as much as their parents.

So read this book AFTER you have read: …

Banned Books Week: In Defense of the Censored

It's that time of year, Banned Books Week. I did a post last year that explained why Banned Books Week is important (you can read that here). This year, I will probably repeat myself. I was hoping to have the review done for the Banned Book I'm reading in honor of this week, but, alas, I have been distracted and not finished that book. (I'm reading The Curious Incident of the Dog in Night- Time, banned in 2015 for containing offensive language, a.k.a. swearing) So you will have to read that review in the next few weeks, once I get it posted.
I get absurdly excited for Banned Books Week. I can't even really say why. Nothing about my week changes, I go to work, go home- do all of my normal things. It might be that it's an entire week focused on reading. It is also because I think acknowledging that books are still getting censored and banned today is important. I think fighting this censorship is even more important. The things that make us uncomfortable are the thin…

Book 156: "Black Silk" by Jan Gordon

Title: Black Silk
Author: Jan Gordon
Read in: Nook ePub
Genre: Paranormal Romance

I unknowingly picked up this book thinking it was a cool twist on the were story- with were panthers! While yes, they are were-panthers...this is a romance novel, pure and simple. Well, not really pure. There is very little plot in any other context aside from the small-town girl who owns a bookstore falls for a were-panther who mysteriously shows up in town storyline. Of course she's in danger so he's extra possessive in the name of protection and they fall in love. Oops- I ruined the ending.

If you can't tell that the paragraph above is less than impressed, don't worry. I'm not too worried about spoiling the ending for you because really- I just saved you time. This book is not good. It is trite, shallow, and really only has one purpose- to make women swoon. Don't read it. Just don't.

Book 155: "Poppy" by Avi

Title: Poppy
Author: Avi
Read In: Trade Paperback
Publisher:  HarperCollins Publishers
Genre: Children's Animal Adventure

I am not a fan of stories where the only characters are animals. I'm not sure why. There are many great books where this is the case. But I've simply never been one to be able to identify well with animals. I have read many of over the years and have just never managed to connect.

Avi is one of my favorite children's authors. I thought that if anyone could break my dislike of animal characters it would be him.

Poppy is a well-written kids book. I live Avi because he's never afraid to address the dark side of life. Even kids know there's a dark side and Avi does this in a way that is kid friendly. Poppy is no different.
Poppy tells the story of a mouse family under the rule of a very mean owl. It is the story of them trying to break free for the benefit of their quickly growing family. I can't say much more without spoilers, so I won't.

If …

Book 154: "Poison or Protect" by Gail Carriger

Title: Poison or Protect
Author: Gail Carriger
Genre: Novella, Steampunk, fantasy
Publisher: Gail Carriger, LLC
Read in: Nook ePub

Have you noticed that I adore Gail Carriger and everything she writes? Not yet? Well, now you know. This is the first in a series of novellas that Carriger plans to write. As with all of her work thus far, I loved it.

This novella series will follow the Finishing School characters once they are adults. This first installment is a story about Preshea. I can't say too much, given the short nature of this story, without giving spoilers. But I loved learning more about a character that was in opposition to the main characters of Finishing School. (If you can deconstruct that sentence). Be forewarned... it's steamy! This was the perfect tide-over story to get me through until Imprudence released (review to come soon!) and I'm counting on the coming releases of more novellas to get me through the next two years until the next installment of The Custard P…

Book 153: "A Question of Will" by Alex Albrinck

Title: A Question of Will
Author: Alex Albrinck
Read on: Nook ePub
Publisher: Alex Albrinck

I haven't ventured into the self-published arena since the last couple I tried to read were so full of grammar and plot errors, I couldn't get through them. This restored my faith that if authors are willing to put in the work self-publishing can work.

This book is the first of The Aliomenti Series; I will most likely read the next book at some point. The story is very original. It is science fiction written with the feel of an urban fantasy. The story is set on the premise that there is a secret society, called the Aliomenti, that is always far above and beyond the rest of the world technologically. They keep it this way so that can stay in power and wealth.

Will is mistaken to be a rogue escaped from the Aliomenti, but also possibly the most powerful within their history. I can't tell you much more without giving key plot points away. But it really is a good story.

The plot is well c…

Book 152: "Seriously...I'm Kidding" by Ellen Degeneres

Title: Seriously... I'm Kidding
Author: Ellen Degeneres
Read in: Trade Paperback
Genre: Humor
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

This book is exactly what you expect from Ellen Degeneres. It reads like one of her stand-up routines. It's a really fast read and is entertaining. There really isn't much more to it than that.

The book is sort of about Ellen's life, but also just teaches the lessons Ellen is known for teaching. Don't take life to seriously, try to relax and fun, take care of yourself, etc. These take-aways are really well done in a humorous way.

I do suggest you do not read it straight through, as I did. I think it reads better a chapter or so at a time. Especially if you just need a quick pick-me-up on a rough day. 

To end this short and sweet review, I enjoyed this book. It was funny. However, I think I'll just stick to watching Ellen perform from here on out.

From the Archives: Book 58: "Something Borrowed" by Emily Giffin

Book 58: "Something Borrowed" by Emily Giffin Verdict: I'm Unsure After reading "Something Borrowed" I find myself conflicted as to how I feel about it. It captured my attention, I enjoyed reading it, and it is well written. However, I still am unsure of how I feel about the actual story. For those of you who have yet to read this book-or see the movie, which was surprisingly accurate- be aware that this review is a spoiler, so if you want to be surprised, stop reading now.
The main character of this story is Rachel and the book is written in first person from her point of view. Rachel is a very likable character, she is an all-around good person, excepting the fact that she falls in love and has an affair with her best friend's fiance. Though this is not acceptable, she does not pretend that it is, which I appreciate. Darcy, her lifelong best friend, is also very difficult to like. She is selfish, greedy, attention hogging, and not a very good friend. Dex, Da…

Book 151: "Under the Banner of Heaven" by Jon Krakauer

Title: Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith
Author: Jon Krakauer
Genre: True Crime, Non-Fiction
Read in: Trade Paperback
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group

I'm honestly not sure where to start with this review. Having finished the book on Monday, I've been ruminating over it all week and trying to figure out exactly what to write about. It is definitely a good book; well-written, compelling, and (obviously) gets the reader thinking.

This non-fiction true crime book discusses the 1984 murders of Brenda Lafferty and her infant daughter Erica by Ron and Dan Lafferty (Brenda's brother-in-laws). The reasoning behind the brothers committing the murders is rooted deep in the history of Mormonism and their practice of Mormon Fundamentalism. Krakauer digs into the history and origin of the Mormon faith and the schisms of Fundamentalists it has since produced.

I will be honest that much of this book is terrifying. The history of Mormonism, much like any other ma…

From the Archives: Books 55, 56, and 57: The King Raven Trilogy by Stephen Lawhead

Books 55, 56, and 57: The King Raven Trilogy by Stephen Lawhead
Verdict: An interesting new take on Robin Hood

This trilogy is a new take on the Robin Hood legends. Set in the Medieval era in England, it tells the story of Bran ap Brychan fighting to regain his usurped kingdom and protect the now oppressed people of his realm. The trilogy is comprised of the books, Hood, Scarlet, and Tuck

Hood is the first book and is written mostly from the perspective of Bran. The storyline covers the orgins of Bran's tale: how his throne is usurped; how he becomes an outlaw; and his first attempts to have his throne returned. It introduces most of the characters that are well known in the legends, Marian, Tuck (Aethelfrith), and Little John (known as Iwan). There are also narratives from other characters, as well as third person narrative when speaking of the invaders activities; a format that continues throughout the series.

Book two, Scarlet, is written from Will Scarlet's Point of view. Th…

From the Archives: Books 53 and 54: Two installments of the Sookie Stackhouse series

Book 53: "Dead Reckoning" (Sookie Stackhouse #11) by Charlaine Harris  Verdict: If you've read the others, why not read this?
"Dead Reckoning" is the latest installment of the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris. The book before this was definitely not the strongest of the series, but Harris made a comeback with "Dead Reckoning". This book returned to what makes this series great. Some things that returned to this book include: action, mystery, old favorite characters, and new characters as well.  Among my favorite returns are Bubba and, of course, Eric. This book leaves you hanging on the edge for more, so beware, you'll be dying for the next book. All that being said, Harris really does need to end the series soon. I hope that she does so while the story-lines are still good, before it all gets old. I really don't want to see this series go on past its prime.
Book 54: "Deadlocked" (Sookie Stackhouse #12) by Charlaine Harris

Book 150: "Calamity" by Brandon Sanderson

Title: Calamity (Reckoners Series #3)
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Read in: Nook ePub
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Genre: YA SciFi/Fantasy, alternate reality

This is the final installment to Brandon Sanderson's Reckoners Series. I really enjoy these books. The series includes: Steelheart, Mitosis (short story set in this world), Firefight, and Calamity. They are suspenseful, funny, entertaining, and character driven. They also manage to surprise me and keep me guessing about what, exactly, is going to happen. To recap, this series is set in an alternate reality where people began developing superpowers, following the appearance of Calamity, a bright red light in the sky. Those that develop powers are called Epics. For some unknown reason, Epics are selfish, power hungry, evil individuals; regardless of who they were prior to becoming an Epic. The Reckoners are an underground group of people that fight and/or kill Epics. Each book, they learn a little more about why Epics…

Book 149: "All The Light We Cannot See" by Anthony Doerr

Title: All the Light We Cannot See
Author: Anthony Doerr
Publisher: Scribner
Read In: Hardcover
Genre: Historical Fiction

This book won the Pulitzer Prize and it should have. The first book in a while that I loved. It was hauntingly beautiful and sad. Set in WWII, it follows the story of Werner Pfennig, a gifted orphan who is drafted into the Nazi army to pinpoint enemy radios in his attempt to escape the fate of his parents, who died in a coal mine. It also follows Marie-Laure LeBlanc, a blind french girl who helps her father protect a precious artifact from the Parisian nature and history museum. Then there is the German Nazi who is helping Hitler hunt down the gems, art, and valuable artifacts of the nations they invade to add to the great collection Hitler believes the new order will need.

There are hundreds, millions of books that are about and take place in WWII. The atrocities and complexities of the event can never be explored thoroughly enough. But the amount of information out t…

From the Archives: Books 51 and 52- Dwarves Series 1 and 2

Books 51 and 52: The Dwarves and The War of the Dwarves by Markus Heitz Verdict: Good, but not a must read

As you can probably tell by the titles, this two part* (as far as I know) series is a fantasy series about Dwarves. This is really what drew me in to reading them. Dwarves, if you read fantasy, are always side characters, loveable friends, or the misunderstood race. This book features Dwarves as the heros and the protagonist is, of course, a Dwarf. Other than the main characters being Dwarves and a deeper peek than I've ever had into Dwarven culture, these books are your basic epic fantasy. The Hero has to save the day.
So, overall, the books are interesting and well-written. They are even original in their characters. However the plot line was not as original an idea as I hoped the Dwarven theme would take on. Read or don't read. They are enjoyable and I liked them, but I don't think you would be missing a classic if you didn't read them.

*Present Day*
There are now…

From the Archives: Book 50: "Fables: Legends in Exile" by Bill Willingham

Book 50: "Fables: Legends in Exile" by Bill Willingham Verdict: Definite Read for any Graphic Novel Lover
"Fables" Is a graphic novel series that takes fable, fairy tale, and legendary characters and puts them in exile in New York City, with their own underground society. They take a Noir form (gritty with a mystery to solve) and are fantastic. I loved it, they hit on everything you realize is weird as an adult. For instance; why does every princess marry Price Charming? Well in "Fables", Price Charming is one very sleazy man. Really, it is highly amusing. I suggest you read it.
If you have not read a graphic novel before, however, I don't suggest that this be your first one- there are others that are better for people who are unaccustomed to this style of storytelling.
**Present Day note** There are now 22 volumes of this graphic novel series. Volume 22 is the final volume, so now is a great time to start because you KNOW that you'll only be catching…

From the Archives: Book 49: "Three Cups of Tea" by Greg Mortenson and Davis Oliver Relin

Book 49: "Three Cups of Tea" By Greg Mortenson and Davis Oliver Relin "Three Cups of Tea" by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin
Verdict: Read for a new view on the Middle East and a much better solution to the war on terror
"Three Cups of Tea" is a non-fiction story that follows Greg Mortenson's life as he strives to bring schools to children of the Middle East. What struck me most was not what Mortenson manages to accomplish, but what he sacrifices to do so. For much of the journey he lives in his car to save money for his cause. The caption of the book call's Greg Mortenson an "ordinary man" but I really have to disagree, not only because he has personally accomplished so much but mostly because nothing about his life has been ordinary. Mortenson was raised in Africa with missonary parents, a father who builds the first teaching hospital in the area that is actually run by African citizens. He then becomes an avid climber and strives…

From the Archives: Books 45, 46, 47 and 48: The Starcatcher's Series

Books 45, 46, 47, and 48: Peter and the Starcatchers, Peter and the Shadow Thieves, Peter and the Secret of Rundoon, and Peter and the Sword of Mercy Verdict: Fun, Easy Adventure Books! Peter and the Starcatchers, Peter and the Shadow Thieves, Peter and the Secret of Rundoon, and Peter and the Sword of Mercy are a 4 book series that tells the story of how Peter Pan becomes Peter Pan. They are written by co-authors Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson. The books are funny, easy, fun adventures. They are written for the Independent Reader or Grade 3rd through 6th, but with Dave Barry humor, anyone will enjoy them.

Book 1, "Peter and the Starcatchers" is the story of how Peter Pan goes from orphan to flying boy. The Starcatchers are an ancient secret society whose job it is to find and return Starstuff to wherever it comes from. Starstuff is a magical substance that gives humans many different powers; most notably, the ability to fly and be ageless. Peter befriends a Starcatcher in tra…

Book 148: "Green Island" by Shawna Yang Ryan

Title: Green Island
Author:  Shawna Yang Ryan
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Read In: ePub
Genre: Historical Fiction

Green Island is a novel that begins with the February 28 Incident of Taiwan. (I didn't know about this event, so if you don't know either, here's the Wikipedia link :
The story is told primarily from the point of view of the youngest daughter born during the February 28 Incident into the family of Dr. Tsai. It tells the story of her father's internment, her family's escape from Taipei, and follows her as she grows to adulthood and through her emigration to the United States.

This book is well written. I like that it provides insight into a piece of  history which, due to American politics of the time, is often overlooked by history classes. I honestly know very little about Taiwan's history; this book made me want to learn more.

While many of parts of this book were interesting, I found…

From the Archives: Book 44: "Eats, Shoots and Leaves" by Lynne Truss

"Eats, Shoots and Leaves" by Lynne Truss

Verdict: READ, not just for punctuation sticklers- everyone should read!
Okay, so I guess it shows how much of and English nerd I am that I would absolutely love a book entirely about punctuation... but I do. This book is phenomenal. Not only does it point out punctuation mistakes that happen everywhere and constantly drive me nuts, it tells the reader why they are wrong, how to fix them, and why punctuation is so important to the written word. This book makes it clear that punctuation does serve a purpose in writing. That purpose is to make what we write understandable and concise when read by someone other than ourselves. Truss also brings in the history of why punctuation is what it is and where it comes from. Truly, the book refreshed my memory on things I forgot, made me laugh, and made me want to give a copy to everyone I know; further helping to prevent future punctuation error. So if you haven't read this book, please do.

Book 147: "Far From Madding Crowd" by Thomas Hardy

Title: Far from the Madding Crowd
Author: Thomas Hardy
Genre: Victorian Classic- Pastoral
Read in: Trade Paperback (Movie Edition)
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group

My feelings are varied on this novel. There were moments I was enthralled. There were moments when I was bored. And there were moments I was angry. I generally enjoy Hardy's work because it differs from most Victorian classics as his books are generally set in the country, with every-day working characters, instead of the elite high society of England.

Most of my mixed feelings arise from the characters. I loved Gabriel Oak. He is steady, complex, and overall a good person. The main female of the novel, Bathesheba Everdene, I can't stand. She made me so angry. I tried, very hard, repeatedly, to like her; I never managed to succeed. My biggest problem with her is that she could have been the perfect embodiment of the reality of female strength in an era that greatly needed more of that in literature. She is in…

From the Archives: Books 42 and 43: Mordant's Need

Books 42 and 43: "The Mirror of Her Dreams" and "A Man Rides Through" by Stephen R. Donaldson Verdict: READ NOW

"The Mirror of Her Dreams" and "A Man  Rides Through" by Stephen R. Donaldson are the two books that comprise the fantasy series Mordant's Need. These books were unlike any fantasy I have read and immediately jumped into my favorite fantasy books. In these books, magic is carried out through the use of mirrors. You create an image in a curved or flat glass and then anything in that image can be translated from or to that image. This land is called Mordant. Mordant, however, is in need of a hero. Enter Terisa Morgan, a modern day girl of our world. An apprentice imager mistakenly finds her and brings her back to Mordant believing her to be an Arch Imager- the most talented with mirrors. She, being from our world, is then thrown into a political struggle full of intrigue and political powers that she knows nothing about. The only person…