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Friday, June 17, 2016

Book Review: Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

Hello again, blogging world! Sorry for the radio silence - life gets in a way a lot lately. Plus, I pretty much single handedly planned girls camp (a youth camp for my church for girls aged 12-18). It was crazy times. And blogging is really falling by the wayside. But here! Have a random book review!

Bone Gap by Laura Ruby
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication date: March 2015
Pages: 368
Source: e-book from library
For: I heard good things and those shiny award stickers didn't hurt

Summary (from goodreads):
Everyone knows Bone Gap is full of gaps—gaps to trip you up, gaps to slide through so you can disappear forever. So when young, beautiful Roza went missing, the people of Bone Gap weren’t surprised. After all, it wasn’t the first time that someone had slipped away and left Finn and Sean O’Sullivan on their own. Just a few years before, their mother had high-tailed it to Oregon for a brand new guy, a brand new life. That’s just how things go, the people said. Who are you going to blame?

Finn knows that’s not what happened with Roza. He knows she was kidnapped, ripped from the cornfields by a dangerous man whose face he cannot remember. But the searches turned up nothing, and no one believes him anymore. Not even Sean, who has more reason to find Roza than anyone, and every reason to blame Finn for letting her go.

My thoughts:
I got really sucked into this story - right from the start. It's amazingly written, with gorgeous lyrical writing and there's some serious suspense going on. It also has a lot of surprising elements, though I did go in knowing there was an element of magical realism/fantasy. I liked figuring things out one little bit at a time and wondering if I'd been imagining it wrong all along. And I liked it. Worth the read, I think, despite some rather disturbing and adult-ish things.

Read-alikes:
Uh, drawing a blank here

BOOK CONTENT RATINGS:
s-factor: !@#
there is some in there (no f-bombs, that I recall)

mrg-factor: X
some stuff

v-factor: ->->
it's been a while, but I think some intense stuff happens :)

Overall rating: ****

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Book Review: These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Publication date: December 2013
Pages: 374
Source: e-book from the library
For: At Suey's suggestion
Series: Starbound, Book 1

Summary (from goodreads):
Luxury spaceliner Icarus suddenly plummets from hyperspace into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive – alone. Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a cynical war hero. Both journey across the eerie deserted terrain for help. Everything changes when they uncover the truth. 
I enjoyed this a LOT more than I expected to. Generally, I've found a lot of YA space books to be kind of lacking in good solid science. Not that this is super good with science (there's a lot of stuff that you kind of have to roll with), but I found that those things didn't bother me. I was intrigued enough by the plot and the characters that I kind of forgot to be bothered. I found the ending to be surprising and I'm wanting to read the next books. Glad I listened to Suey and got my hands on this. I needed a good YA space book that entertained me enough to ignore the bad science :)

Read-alikes:
Reminded me a bit of Patrick Ness' Chaos Walking series

BOOK CONTENT RATINGS:
s-factor: !
maybe one or two

mrg-factor: X
some implied stuff

v-factor: ->->
a bit of fighting gore

Overall rating: ****

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Mini Reviews 20

The Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson
Summary: *spoilers for The Kiss of Deception*
Lia and Rafe are being held captive in the kingdom of Venda with no chance of escape. While trying to navigate the horrors of being prisoners, they are also trying to learn all they can about their captors and are surprised to find much to praise in them. But their situation becomes more dire as the Komizar is determined to use Lia and her gift for unknown purposes.

My Thoughts:
Honestly, I can't remember what happens. I read it a few months ago now and I did like it. It was interesting how nothing they did was easy and no way out seemed plausible. Although I thought a few things seemed mighty convenient. Pearson managed to get all the characters into some seriously dire straits and I just didn't know what was going to happen to Lia. Now I need to read up on what actually went on.


The Outlaws of Sherwood by Robin McKinley
Summary:
This is not the Robin Hood you remember from those sweet, sly foxes in the Disney film. Robin an his band of grim and tired outlaws are nearly forced into hiding and inundated with those who also loathe sheriff of Nottingham and all he does to his people. But will things work out for them in the end or is there no happy ending in sight?

My Thoughts:
I love how it was messy and not what you expect. I loved Robin and I loved how very realistically it was portrayed that, yeah, they lived in the forest: no roofs, rain, dirt, etc. They didn't have an easy or terribly envious lifestyle. Things were not idealized, and I loved how Marian rocked the bow. Rather sad to read at times, but so glad I finally did it (thank you, Angie).


Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman
Summary:
When her father is brutally murdered, Kate is drawn into a world full of revenge, secrets, and hidden gold. She follows the trail of those who killed him, determined to take them on single-handed, but ends up in an alliance with some unlikely characters, soon to be friends.

My Thoughts:
This one was kind of good and bad for me. I think I was most interested in it for the local factor - a lot of it takes place right here in Arizona and even some of it near to where I am. That made it more interesting to me. Otherwise, I was kind of meh about the story and the characters. Her whole motivation for chasing folks down and being insane and doing stuff she shouldn't, at times was a bit unbelievable. I did, however, enjoy the story. For a wild west flavor, check it out.


Winter by Marissa Meyer
Summary: *Spoilers for the first three books*
Winter has been stuck under the thumb of her stepmother for years, but despite her delicate appearance and wandering mind, she's got more power than anyone knows. Cinder is ready to take on Queen Levana and determined to incite the Lunars to rise with her. With the help of her friends and some new allies, they are ready for an uprising, until everything seems to go wrong.

My Thoughts:
A nice finish for a series I adore. I loved how things worked out in the end, I loved seeing how hard it was for Cinder and all the characters. Winter was a really unique kind of person and I often had a hard time figuring out what to think of her and what she was thinking. All together, I think this is a fabulous and unique fairy tale retelling series that I just plain enjoy.

Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson
Summary:
Lee has a gift, an unusual power that her family has tried to hide for years: she can sense gold. Her life seems ordinary enough, until all she has and loves is suddenly taken from her unexpectedly. Now Lee must make her way across the country, hoping to escape her past and make a future, but how can she when everyone around her would do anything for gold?

My Thoughts:
Interesting, unique, a bit strange. Reminded me a bit of Dust Girl by Sarah Zettel. I loved Lee and the things she was determined to do. She had a difficult life and I thought her reactions to things was realistic. I didn't like how everything seemed to be put off for a later book, but I guess they had plenty of troubles along the way. A different kind of story, you don't often read about people going west and the difficulties that must have been.Though, two westerns in one mini review post!

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Book Review: All Fall Down by Ally Carter

All Fall Down by Ally Carter
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication date: January 2015
Pages: 310
Source: Library
For: Ally Carter
Series: Embassy Row, Book 1


Summary (from goodreads):
Grace Blakely is absolutely certain of three things:
1. She is not crazy.
2. Her mother was murdered.
3. Someday she is going to find the killer and make him pay.

As certain as Grace is about these facts, nobody else believes her -- so there's no one she can completely trust. Not her grandfather, a powerful ambassador. Not her new friends, who all live on Embassy Row. Not Alexei, the Russian boy next door, who is keeping his eye on Grace for reasons she neither likes nor understands.

Everybody wants Grace to put on a pretty dress and a pretty smile, blocking out all her unpretty thoughts. But they can't control Grace -- no more than Grace can control what she knows or what she needs to do. Her past has come back to hunt her . . . and if she doesn't stop it, Grace isn't the only one who will get hurt. Because on Embassy Row, the countries of the world stand like dominoes, and one wrong move can make them all fall down.

Things I Liked:
This book was unusual and at times a bit annoying.  I liked how convoluted the plot became and I really didn't have any idea of where it was going.  It's different from what I expected of an Ally Carter book, but that doesn't make it bad. I'm intrigued and want to know more. I loved the action and the mystery of the book. I'll take anything you have to offer, Ms. Carter!

Things I Didn't Like:
I think I was a bit annoyed at times with how angry Grace tended to get.  And how she didn't seem to be able to see what kinds of stupid mistakes she was making.  But, I think that she was pretty realistically portrayed for what happened to her. 

Read-alikes:
The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall and Gallagher Girls books by Ally Carter

BOOK CONTENT RATINGS:
s-factor: !
perhaps a few

mrg-factor: none

v-factor: ->->
some frightening stuff happens

Overall rating: ***

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Book Review: The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski

The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux
Publication date: March 2015
Pages: 402
Source: e-book from the library
For: Love the series!
Series: Winner's Trilogy, Book 2


Summary (from goodreads): *Spoilers are inevitable for The Winner's Curse*
The engagement of Lady Kestrel to Valoria’s crown prince means one celebration after another. But to Kestrel it means living in a cage of her own making. As the wedding approaches, she aches to tell Arin the truth about her engagement... if she could only trust him. Yet can she even trust herself? For—unknown to Arin—Kestrel is becoming a skilled practitioner of deceit: an anonymous spy passing information to Herran, and close to uncovering a shocking secret.

As Arin enlists dangerous allies in the struggle to keep his country’s freedom, he can’t fight the suspicion that Kestrel knows more than she shows. In the end, it might not be a dagger in the dark that cuts him open, but the truth. And when that happens, Kestrel and Arin learn just how much their crimes will cost them.

Things I Liked:
Yes! Love this second book in the series.  More complicated and painful twists and turns and strategy and you don't know what Kestrel can do to get out of her difficulties.  It feels very constricting, just as it was for Kestrel.  I loved this one, felt like it didn't lack or lag in the second book department.  World is still fascinating, writing still very strong, characters still very real. 

Things I Didn't Like:
And love story still leaving me a bit meh.  Still, I'm really invested in the other aspects of Kestrel's story.

Read-alikes:
Reminded me a little of Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith

BOOK CONTENT RATINGS:
s-factor: !
one or two

mrg-factor: X
some implied stuff

v-factor: ->->
a few scenes

Overall rating: *****

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Book Review: The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson

The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson
Publisher: Tor Books
Publication date: August 2007
Pages: 796
Source: Purchased
For: Fun
Series: Mistborn, Book 2


Summary (from goodreads): *Spoilers for Mistborn are inevitable*
The impossible has been accomplished. The Lord Ruler – the man who claimed to be god incarnate and brutally ruled the world for a thousand years – has been vanquished. But Kelsier, the hero who masterminded that triumph, is dead too, and now the awesome task of building a new world has been left to his young protégé, Vin, the former street urchin who is now the most powerful Mistborn in the land, and to the idealistic young nobleman she loves.

As Kelsier’s protégé and slayer of the Lord Ruler she is now venerated by a budding new religion, a distinction that makes her intensely uncomfortable. Even more worrying, the mists have begun behaving strangely since the Lord Ruler died, and seem to harbor a strange vaporous entity that haunts her.

Stopping assassins may keep Vin’s Mistborn skills sharp, but it’s the least of her problems. Luthadel, the largest city of the former empire, doesn’t run itself, and Vin and the other members of Kelsier’s crew, who lead the revolution, must learn a whole new set of practical and political skills to help. It certainly won’t get easier with three armies – one of them composed of ferocious giants – now vying to conquer the city, and no sign of the Lord Ruler’s hidden cache of atium, the rarest and most powerful allomantic metal.

As the siege of Luthadel tightens, an ancient legend seems to offer a glimmer of hope. But even if it really exists, no one knows where to find the Well of Ascension or what manner of power it bestows.
Things I Liked:
Brandon Sanderson - he has a gift for creating these intriguing worlds and people in them.  I really like his stuff and I always feel very engrossed when I'm reading his books.  The worlds come to life for me and there is so much depth and history.  I also really don't have a clue where the plot is going, even when I think I do.  Give me more of this story (I mean, it's already out there, but I just need to pick up the book). I kept being surprised by what happened and what motivated people.

Things I Didn't Like:
They are very, very long.  I keep thinking there has to be stuff to cut, and I'm sure there is, but all of it kind of seems relevant.  Still: long.

Read-alikes:
Start with Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
Reminds me a bit of Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith

BOOK CONTENT RATINGS:
s-factor: !
a few

mrg-factor: none
that I recall

v-factor: ->->
there's always some fighting

Overall rating: ****

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Book Review: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
Publisher: Razorbill
Publication date: April 2015
Pages: 446
Source: Library
For: Heard good things
Series: An Ember in the Ashes, Book 1


Summary (from goodreads):
Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.
Things I Liked:
I read this one after Winner's Curse and I think it suffered a bit in comparison.  The Roman inspiration for both was evident.  This one was a LOT more gritty and violent and depressing. It felt like a very real story with no easy answers and just a lot of bad stuff happening.  The Winner's Curse is a lot more about strategy than about violence.  I do have to admit, it was impossible to put down.  I had to know what would happen next - compulsively readable.  I'll be interested in more, though I'm not sure how I feel about love quadrangles and such.

Things I Didn't Like:
The violence was too much for me on a number of occasions.  Very gritty.

Read-alikes:
Reminded me of The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski

BOOK CONTENT RATINGS:
s-factor: !@
some

mrg-factor: XX
yup

v-factor: ->->->->
a lot, as I mentioned

Overall rating: ***

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Book Review: The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski

The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux
Publication date: March 2014
Pages: 355
Source: e-book from Library
For: Fun
Series: Winner's Trilogy, Book 1


Summary (from goodreads):
As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions.

One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin.

But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined. 
Things I Liked:
Ooh, I enjoyed this one.  It was both what I was expecting and completely not - more! I loved the characters and especially the world - I seriously want to play bite and sting, but know I have very poor strategizing skills.  I just love how she thinks and how she knows what to say and not say, but also makes mistakes.  I don't know what exactly it was that drew me in, but I fell hard for this story.  I'm not even that big a fan of the romance, but I love how very impossible it feels and then how it isn't easy and nothing happens conveniently.  Very realistic world and very well drawn.

Things I Didn't Like:
Can't remember anything.

Read-alikes:
A bit like An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

BOOK CONTENT RATINGS:
s-factor: !
a very few

mrg-factor: X
mostly talk

v-factor: ->
a little

Overall rating: *****

Friday, February 26, 2016

Book Review: Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication date: July 2015
Pages: 278
Source: Library
For: Harper Lee, duh!
Series: Sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird


Summary (from goodreads):
Maycomb, Alabama. Twenty-six-year-old Jean Louise Finch--"Scout"--returns home from New York City to visit her aging father, Atticus. Set against the backdrop of the civil rights tensions and political turmoil that were transforming the South, Jean Louise's homecoming turns bittersweet when she learns disturbing truths about her close-knit family, the town and the people dearest to her. Memories from her childhood flood back, and her values and assumptions are thrown into doubt. Featuring many of the iconic characters from To Kill a Mockingbird, Go Set a Watchman perfectly captures a young woman, and a world, in a painful yet necessary transition out of the illusions of the past--a journey that can be guided only by one's conscience. 
Things I Liked:
I enjoyed a number of parts of this book.  I really liked seeing Scout and just who she had grown up into and the funny things she said and thought.  I loved that part of her.  I really struggled with what the story was actually about, her seeing the truth of her hometown and father and not idolizing them anymore.  It was hard to read, hard for me to understand, and just not what I wanted to read, I guess.  It was a smart book, and definitely changes your perspective and thoughts in relation to To Kill a Mockingbird.  Still, I found as it went on that I wasn't much enjoying my read.  I did like it, but I didn't like it too.  Makes perfect sense, right? I read the book probably six months ago, but I'm only posting it now, just in time to hear of Harper Lee's death. Wish we had more from her!

Things I Didn't Like:
Think I covered both in the previous paragraph.

Read-alikes:
Well I'd start with To Kill a Mockingbird...and maybe end there too :)

BOOK CONTENT RATINGS:
s-factor: !
a few

mrg-factor: none

v-factor: ->
maybe a little off-page

Overall rating: ***

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Book Review: Pioneer Girl by Laura Ingalls Wilder and Pamela Smith Hill

Pioneer Girl by Laura Ingalls Wilder and Pamela Smith Hill (editor)
Publisher: South Dakota State Historical Society
Publication date: November 2014
Pages: 400
Source: Library
For: Fun



Summary (from goodreads):
Pioneer Girl follows the Ingalls family's journey through Kansas, Missouri, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, back to Minnesota, and on to Dakota Territory sixteen years of travels, unforgettable experiences, and the everyday people who became immortal through Wilder's fiction. Using additional manuscripts, letters, photographs, newspapers, and other sources, award-winning Wilder biographer Pamela Smith Hill adds valuable context and leads readers through Wilder's growth as a writer. Do you think you know Laura? Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography will re-introduce you to the woman who defined the pioneer experience for millions.
Things I Liked:
This took me AGES to read.  Mostly because I could only check it out two weeks at a time and everyone kept putting it on hold, so I couldn't renew it.  It is also a very big book and a bit daunting at times.  Still, I am so glad I persisted.  I don't even remember if I've read the Little House books all the way through, or just listened while my mom read them to my siblings.  It didn't really matter, because this story is the true one.  I loved how very detailed and full of notes it was.  I can't read something with that many footnotes often, but when I do, I usually love it.  It was fun to see the author differentiate between what was real and what they changed for the kids novels.  If you are a huge fan of the Little House books, pick this one up.  It will more than satisfy every question about her life you may have.

Things I Didn't Like:
It was a bit dry at times.  I guess life can be that way :). You have to be a real fan to take this one on, I think.

Read-alikes:
The Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder :)

BOOK CONTENT RATINGS:
s-factor: none

mrg-factor: none

v-factor: none

Overall rating: ****

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Book Review: Silver in the Blood by Jessica Day George

Silver in the Blood by Jessica Day George
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Publication date: July 2015
Pages: 368
Source: Library
For: Fun
Series: Probably?

Summary (from goodreads):
Society girls from New York City circa 1890, Dacia and Lou never desired to know more about their lineage, instead preferring to gossip about the mysterious Romanian family that they barely knew. But upon turning seventeen, the girls must return to their homeland to meet their relatives, find proper husbands, and—most terrifyingly—learn the deep family secrets of The Claw, The Wing, and The Smoke. The Florescus, after all, are shape-shifters, and it is time for Dacia and Lou to fulfill the prophecy that demands their acceptance of this fate... or fight against this cruel inheritance with all their might.
Things I Liked:
This was a fun fantasy tale.  I liked the Dacia and Lou, though I got annoyed on a number of occasions with one or both of them.  I really liked the unique Romanian setting - I had a chance to visit the Czech Republic a few years ago and it felt a lot like what I remember of that trip.  Also, my sister spent some time in Romania, so I feel like I have a little connection to it (but not really).  Either way, it was different and that in and of itself kind of recommends the book to me.  It did kind of disappoint in a few ways, but overall, I enjoyed it.  It felt rather empowering for the young ladies too.

Things I Didn't Like:
I felt like something was lacking, not sure I even know or understand what.  I do know, that a month or two later, I don't remember quite how it ends.  It did seem rather vague and quickly resolved near the end.  Still, I do know I enjoyed it.

Read-alikes:
Hm, I am drawing a blank...

BOOK CONTENT RATINGS:
s-factor: none

mrg-factor: none

v-factor: ->
a little bit of action

Overall rating: ***

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Book Review: The Princess in Black by Shannon Hale

The Princess in Black by Shannon Hale
Publisher: Candlewick Pres
Publication date: October 2014
Pages: 90
Source: Library
For: Fun
Series: The Princess in Black, Book 1


Summary (from goodreads):
Princess Magnolia is having hot chocolate and scones with Duchess Wigtower when . . . Brring! Brring! The monster alarm! A big blue monster is threatening the goats! Stopping monsters is no job for dainty Princess Magnolia. But luckily Princess Magnolia has a secret —she’s also the Princess in Black, and stopping monsters is the perfect job for her! Can the princess sneak away, transform into her alter ego, and defeat the monster before the nosy duchess discovers her secret? From award-winning writing team of Shannon and Dean Hale and illustrator LeUyen Pham, here is the first in a humorous and action-packed chapter book series for young readers who like their princesses not only prim and perfect, but also dressed in black.
Things I Liked:
Yes! I love this book.  Short, silly, fun, quirky, and best of all it can easily help little girls feel like they can have the best of both worlds - pretty dress ups and fighting bad guys.  I feel like I love this book even more because of Shannon's extensive blogging about girls and boys and writing and stereotypes.  But really, just get this book for every young girl you know. 

Things I Didn't Like:
Want. More.

Read-alikes:
Nothing comes to mind...

BOOK CONTENT RATINGS:
s-factor: none

mrg-factor: none

v-factor: none

Overall rating: *****

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Book Review: Code Talker by Chester Nez

Code Talker by Chester Nez
Publisher: Berkley
Publication date: September 2011
Pages: 320
Source: Library
For: Interesting!

Summary (from goodreads):
Although more than 400 Navajos served in the military during World War II as top-secret code talkers, even those fighting shoulder to shoulder with them were not told of their covert function. And, after the war, the Navajos were forbidden to speak of their service until 1968, when the code was finally declassified. Of the original twenty- nine Navajo code talkers, only two are still alive. Chester Nez is one of them.

In this memoir, the eighty-nine-year-old Nez chronicles both his war years and his life growing up on the Checkerboard Area of the Navajo Reservation-the hard life that gave him the strength, both physical and mental, to become a Marine. His story puts a living face on the legendary men who developed what is still the only unbroken code in modern warfare.
Things I Liked:
This book really intrigued me.  I loved reading about those Native Americans who played such a unique and vital role in WWII.  His particular experiences made me realize just how little I know about the treatment of Native Americans in our history. I mean, I know it's always been bad, but this wasn't even always deliberately bad, just neglect and ignoring the kinds of things they experienced.  It was eye-opening and just plain sad.  I liked hearing it from his perspective and he never sounded bitter or angry about it.  His experiences during the war seemed so different from what the "usual" soldiers might have felt, but was still very painful and hard.  An inspiring and interesting read.

Things I Didn't Like:
I did like how it was really his words written down, but that also made for some grammar issues that I would notice and be annoyed about before remembering it was his direct narrative.

Read-alikes:
Can't think of any

BOOK CONTENT RATINGS:
s-factor: !@
some

mrg-factor: none

v-factor: ->->->
he went to war!

Overall rating: ****

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Book Review: The Bungalow by Sarah Jio

The Bungalow by Sarah Jio
Publisher: Plume
Publication date: 2011
Pages: 320
Source: Library
For: Recommended by a friend


Summary (from goodreads):
In the summer of 1942, twenty-one-year-old Anne Calloway, newly engaged, sets off to serve in the Army Nurse Corps on the Pacific island of Bora-Bora. More exhilarated by the adventure of a lifetime than she ever was by her predictable fiancé, she is drawn to a mysterious soldier named Westry, and their friendship soon blossoms into hues as deep as the hibiscus flowers native to the island. Under the thatched roof of an abandoned beach bungalow, the two share a private world-until they witness a gruesome crime, Westry is suddenly redeployed, and the idyll vanishes into the winds of war.
Things I Liked:
I picked this one up after a friend of mine raved about it - her favorite book! This was kind of a sweet story with some dark elements to make it feel more realistic.  I have to admit at times it was a little unbelievable, but I sure don't know enough about that time and place to really know.  I thought it was interesting and engaging, but kind of lacked a little substance.  There are a few things that you pick up on long before the main character, which can be annoying.  Still, the ending was surprising and a little bittersweet.

Things I Didn't Like:
I wanted something more from it. Not sure what, but I just felt like it never quite achieved what it could have.

Read-alikes:
I can't think of any right now...

BOOK CONTENT RATINGS:
s-factor: !
maybe a few

mrg-factor: X
some vague scenes

v-factor: ->

Overall rating: ***

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Book Review: As You Wish by Cary Elwes

As You Wish by Cary Elwes
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Publication date: October 2014
Length: 7 hrs, 1 min
Source: Audiobook from library
For: Fun!


Summary (from goodreads):
The Princess Bride has been a family favorite for close to three decades. Ranked by the American Film Institute as one of the top 100 Greatest Love Stories and by the Writers Guild of America as one of the top 100 screenplays of all time, The Princess Bride will continue to resonate with audiences for years to come.

Cary Elwes was inspired to share his memories and give fans an unprecedented look into the creation of the film while participating in the twenty-fifth anniversary cast reunion. In As You Wish he has created an enchanting experience; in addition to never-before seen photos and interviews with his fellow cast mates, there are plenty of set secrets, backstage stories, and answers to lingering questions about off-screen romances that have plagued fans for years!

Things I Liked:
I listened to this on audio, read mostly by Cary Elwes, as suggested by a number of people.  I do recall my mind drifting during quite a bit of the beginning where Elwes tells his story about joining the cast and meeting everyone and all that preproduction stuff.  When it finally got to the stories from the movie, I really enjoyed it.  I loved all the funny, quirky, and hilarious antics they all seemed to get up to.  It sounds almost like an extended family reunion.  It was a lot of fun to hear it in their own voices (some of them) too.

Things I Didn't Like:
Yeah, the beginning was hard for me.  Otherwise, it was super fun to hear about one of my favorite movies.  I watched it again not that long ago and took great pleasure in pointing out things about the scenes that I learned from the book to my husband.

Read-alikes:
Can't think of anything...

BOOK CONTENT RATINGS:
s-factor: !
maybe one or two

mrg-factor: none

v-factor: none

Overall rating: ****

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Book Review: The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton

The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 2012
Pages: 669
Source: Library
For: More Kate Morton stuff


Summary (from goodreads):
During a summer party at the family farm in the English countryside, sixteen-year-old Laurel Nicolson has escaped to her childhood tree house and is happily dreaming of the future. She spies a stranger coming up the long road to the farm and watches as her mother speaks to him. Before the afternoon is over, Laurel will witness a shocking crime. A crime that challenges everything she knows about her family and especially her mother, Dorothy—her vivacious, loving, nearly perfect mother.

Now, fifty years later, Laurel is a successful and well-regarded actress living in London. The family is gathering at Greenacres farm for Dorothy’s ninetieth birthday. Realizing that this may be her last chance, Laurel searches for answers to the questions that still haunt her from that long-ago day, answers that can only be found in Dorothy’s past.

Dorothy’s story takes the reader from pre–WWII England through the blitz, to the ’60s and beyond. It is the secret history of three strangers from vastly different worlds—Dorothy, Vivien, and Jimmy—who meet by chance in wartime London and whose lives are forever entwined. The Secret Keeper explores longings and dreams and the unexpected consequences they sometimes bring. It is an unforgettable story of lovers and friends, deception and passion that is told—in Morton’s signature style—against a backdrop of events that changed the world.
Things I Liked:
This book has a complicated plot filled with all kinds of secrets and mysteries and written in the perfect way to keep you guessing all the way to the ending.  This was signature Kate Morton (though, I'm pretty sure I've only read two of her other books).  It was also quite long.  It was engaging and I couldn't stop reading to find out just what in the world happened all those years ago. I was completely thrown for a loop when some of the stuff was revealed, though I did have an inkling about other things.

Things I Didn't Like:
Yeah, it is dark and creepy and at times kinda depressing.  Also, long.  But, I am really impressed at Morton's skills at weaving a complex web of uncertainties all the way to the end.  And I really have no idea how Laurel could even pretend to feel normal after what she saw.

Read-alikes:
Other Morton books will satisfy your "like this book" craving

BOOK CONTENT RATINGS:
s-factor: !#$
a fair few

mrg-factor: X
some

v-factor: ->->
rather more than I enjoy

Overall rating: ****

Monday, January 25, 2016

Book Review: 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson

13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication date: 2002
Pages: 322
Source: purchased e-book
For: Fun
Series: Little Blue Envelope, Book 1


Summary (from goodreads):
Inside little blue envelope 1 are $1,000 and instructions to buy a plane ticket.

In envelope 2 are directions to a specific London flat.

The note in envelope 3 tells Ginny: Find a starving artist.

Because of envelope 4, Ginny and a playwright/thief/ bloke–about–town called Keith go to Scotland together, with somewhat disastrous–though utterly romantic–results. But will she ever see him again?

Everything about Ginny will change this summer, and it's all because of the 13 little blue envelopes.

Things I Liked:
I do rather like the premise of this book - Aunt dies abroad and leaves letters for her niece to follow.  I often wondered how that premise actually could work out, though.  It is kind of a stretch at times and the reasons behind it are a bit vague even by the end.  I did like seeing Ginny sort of wade through a new culture and become acclimated by jumping right in. 

Things I Didn't Like:
Yeah, I guess I missed the point of the book, cause I can't seem to recall there being one.  It could be, however, that I read this one months ago and I just forgot.  Either way, that's not exactly an endorsement, right?

Read-alikes:
Um, can't think of anything...

BOOK CONTENT RATINGS:
s-factor: none
that I recall :)
mrg-factor: none
 
v-factor: none

Overall rating: ***

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Book Review: As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust by Alan Bradley

As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust by Alan Bradley
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication date: January 2015
Pages: 392
Source: e-book from library
For: Flavia!
Series: Flavia de Luce, Book 7

 
Summary (from goodreads): *Spoilers are inevitable for the first 7 books*
Hard on the heels of the return of her mother’s body from the frozen reaches of the Himalayas, Flavia, for her indiscretions, is banished from her home at Buckshaw and shipped across the ocean to Miss Bodycote’s Female Academy in Toronto, her mother’s alma mater, there to be inducted into a mysterious organization known as the Nide.

No sooner does she arrive, however, than a body comes crashing down out of the chimney and into her room, setting off a series of investigations into mysterious disappearances of girls from the school.

Things I Liked:
More Flavia! It was different, what with being in a completely different setting.  It was kind of fun to see her try to figure things out in her school.  I got rather confused a number of times, since I could never tell which student or teacher to rely on.  At least at home she could depend on certain people to be good, but here everyone was a suspect.  It was a boarding school romp for Flavia and such fun for me to read.

Things I Didn't Like:
The ending left me a bit confused - why did she go there in the first place? I'm trying not to spoil it, though I doubt it would ruin the story, but it seemed like everything was negated by the ending.  I'm hoping for more, just so I can read more Flavia.

Read-alikes:
Start with The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley

BOOK CONTENT RATINGS:
s-factor: !
maybe one or two

mrg-factor: none

v-factor: ->
there's a bit of the macabre

Overall rating: ****

Monday, January 18, 2016

Book Review: Three Wishes by Liane Moriarty

Three Wishes by Liane Moriarty
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Publication date: 2003
Pages: 356
Source: e-book from library
For: Book Group

Summary (from goodreads):
Lyn, Cat, and Gemma Kettle, beautiful thirty-three-year-old triplets, seem to attract attention everywhere they go. Together, laughter, drama, and mayhem seem to follow them. But apart, each is dealing with her own share of ups and downs. Lyn has organized her life into one big checklist, Cat has just learned a startling secret about her marriage, and Gemma, who bolts every time a relationship hits the six-month mark, holds out hope for lasting love. In this wise, witty, and hilarious novel, we follow the Kettle sisters through their tumultuous thirty-third year as they deal with sibling rivalry and secrets, revelations and relationships, unfaithful husbands and unthinkable decisions, and the fabulous, frustrating life of forever being part of a trio.

Things I Liked:
And, more of the same rather depressing lives of Moriarty characters (shouldn't have read it back-to-back with Big Little Lies).  I really didn't much care for any of the sisters, though I could relate a few times to what they experienced.  I'm not quite sure what to make of the ending, as it isn't really happy, just kind of accepting.  Plenty of twists and drama and of course the terrible husbands that make appearances in all of her books (I am avoiding The Husbands Secret, as I already know that's a terrible husband book).

Things I Didn't Like:
Just not really that enjoyable to read.  Kind of like watching a soap opera, though, if you like those.

Read-alikes:
Her other books seem rather similar

BOOK CONTENT RATINGS:
s-factor: !@$#@
tons

mrg-factor: XX
yep

v-factor: ->->
unfortunately

Overall rating: **

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Book Review: Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
Publication date: January 2014
Pages: 512
Source: Library
For: Because I liked What Alice Forgot

Summary (from goodreads):
Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?).

Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn’t be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay.

New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all.
Things I Liked:
I have to admit Moriarty can really write interesting stories about everyday people.  But man, her characters' lives really suck.  It seems that only bad things happen to them and everyone around them and pretty much every man everywhere is cheating on his wife.  This one kind of broke my heart with the children and their stories.  Also, that ending was a little bit crazy and I'm not entirely sure what to make of it, but I suppose it's telling you about it all along. Not ready to be a school mom yet :)
 
Things I Didn't Like:
It's full of vulgarities and isn't something to read when you're already feeling depressed about life.  I guess her books are just full of really crappy lives to me.

Read-alikes:
Like Moriarty's other books, really

BOOK CONTENT RATINGS:
s-factor: !@#$%
lots!

mrg-factor: XX
lots of this too!

v-factor: ->->->
domestic violence

Overall rating: ***

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage
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