Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Yes Please by Amy Poehler

The only thing I took away from this book is:

Amy knits!

Ok, not really the only thing.... This is a book full of personal stories, funny bits and memories and some advice. I also took away that she loves Pema Chodron, as do I, and she seems to take her advice pretty seriously. Smart lady.

I'll admit to not really watching SNL while Amy was on and I've only caught a few episodes of Parks and Recreations. She seemed like an interesting person, as does Tina Fey (Bossypants), so I wanted to try out her book first. The same thing is happening now with Amy that happened with Tina: after reading the books, I want to watch their shows, their comedy, THEM. Thank goodness for Youtube and Netflix.

I don't have any great review of this book except it's a good one to read and just sit back and enjoy it!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Flesh and Blood by Patricia Cornwell

This is why I get Cornwell's books from the library and why I quit buying them. I am a sucker.

I'm sincerely disappointed in the Scarpetta series now. I spend more time angry at Lucy and Benton and Marino, people who shouldn't even exist in the Scarpetta sphere. They do nothing but keep secrets, be evasive and annoying.

I miss the Scarpetta of old, I miss the medical examiner, I miss the forensics.

This one started off with a decent plot, a decent mystery. Then it just fell apart by pulling in characters (who I still don't care about) from the past. There was no wrap up. There was, I guess, supposed to be a showdown that literally took 1 page and then *poof* we're in the future with no resolution.

*waving white flag*

I give up.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast

I think this was my first graphic novel this year. Discovered through Books on the Nightstand, episode 300, I am SO happy my little library had this.

I always find it difficult to review graphic novels, so I will just say the graphic portion is well done.

Now the meat of this book and why I gave it 5 stars on Goodreads:

I cried. I cried like a kid. Chast presents to us a memoir of her parents end-of-life portion of aging and it was heartbreaking. They were the same age, met as kids and married. They had one child, Roz, and lived well into their 90s together, completely dependent on one another and liking it that way. The novel details their decline and their transition from Brooklyn apartment to nursing home.

It is truly a great novel to read and might not affect everyone the way it did me. Reading this brought back many memories of my dad's decline with Parkinson's Disease. His dementia (much like Roz's father - oh, I felt her pain) that led to falls and finally a nursing home. Virtually everything in her book was very familiar as my dad passed away only 5 years ago.

So I cried.

And it was cathartic.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O'Connor

I picked this book from my first postal book club and ...


I don't think I realized what I was picking!

The first story, A Good Man is Hard to Find, seems simple enough. Family goes on vacation (road trip!) and grandma is nervous about a killer on the loose. The writing is amazing, every word drops into a perfect place, and the story tugged me along until it beat me over the head. Dark, I tell ya. I was surprised at what I read and had to stop.

And then I went back....

The River was another that surprised me at the darkness at the end. Was anything sacred here?

No, not really. I kept on reading: through the strangers encroaching on innocent people and turning their worlds upside down, through women trying to survive on their own with devils on their shoulders shouting at them, through religion being brought up over and over and causing me to wonder if these people would be better off without it.

Dark turns and twisted paths. And, frankly, it all mimics the real world. The Displaced Person actually sounded like it could have come from some members of my family (deceased and/or no longer in touch with). The real world is dark and twisted and O'Connor sums it up quite amazingly in this book.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Revival by Stephen King

I've been looking forward to King's 63rd (!) book and I wasn't disappointed. It was a truly good book that told a wonderfully good story. However.....

It didn't frighten or scare me as much as the hype led me to believe it would. I easily see where some folks will not be able to handle the ending but it was just a good story to me.  As King said in his interview on the Today Show "People with faith have a lot further to fall"

I think the Terrible Sermon and the things that are said about faith and religion will be upsetting to some, but I'm on the leaning that no one, not even Stephen King, knows what will happen after death. No One. So why sweat it? Don't be an asshole here on earth and live your best life and where you end up is where you end up.

Pastor Jacobs wasn't content with this philosophy. After a terrible tragedy (written very much in King-style) befalls Jacobs, he changes. Jaime Morton is the young boy who knew Jacobs before the tragedy and keeps ending up crossing paths with him for the rest of his life. The crossings are not happy circumstances.

There are no monsters in this book. Once again, King has made the humans the monsters.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

I picked this up through and loved the narrators. They really made the book, although the book itself was pretty fantastic too.

We are set in 1986 and are following 2 high school students, Eleanor and Park, over the course of a school year. If there was anything to bring back the horror and misery of high school, this is the book.

Eleanor is new to the school, is a misfit with bright red hair and outlandish clothes. Park is a punk Asian kid who listens to Fugazi and knows martial arts. It seems very typical high school until we delve deeper into their lives as they begin to fall in love (over comic books and mixed tapes!).

Park's family is relatively normal, but he still has doubts and misgivings being Asian in a predominantly white neighborhood and school. Eleanor lives with her mother, stepdad, and 4 siblings in a tiny house, doing her best to stay out of the evil stepdad's way (and yes, he truly is evil and I hated this man).

Listening to the book, I remembered the reasons I hated high school. But I was happy for Eleanor and Park because I did not have the booming first love that they experienced.

I don't want to give anything away because you should experience this without knowing anything up front.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Deadline by John Sandford

It's another Fuckin' Flowers book!!!!!!

If he wasn't just a character in a book, I would marry that man.

So Virgil is on a dognapping case, which actually upset me more than the people who were getting killed. Poor pups. Flowers is with his friend, Johnson Johnson, and trying to find the dogs that have been stolen before they are sold off to bunchers for medical laboratories.

But then....

They stumble on to a meth lab operation that means getting the DEA involved and putting the dognapping case on the back burner.

But then....

A body of a local newspaper writer shows up dead in a ditch, shot 3 times in the back

And then more bodies pile up, the school board is unraveling as Flowers gets closer and closer to their embezzlement scheme and, seriously, they have no issues with killing people who get in the way. I hope real life school boards aren't this blood thirsty and money hungry.

Without giving away anything, the action with all 3 cases ramps up to high gear and made me take a longer lunch than usual because I just couldn't stop reading.

I love that Flowers.

Eating on the Wild Side by Jo Robinson

This sounded intriguing. A book about how we have basically genetically altered our food into un-nutritious oblivion.

Not quite. True, this book does go through a lot of wild fruits and veggies vs the ones we have now to pick from the supermarket. It also gave some really good advice on how to pick the best fruits and veggies from markets and farmer's markets.

The chapters are broken up into fruit and vegetable families: wild greens and lettuce, alliums, corn, potatoes, root vegetables, tomatoes, crucifers, apples, berries, citrus, etc.

She includes quite a few charts that you could take with you when you go shopping so you know what are the most nutritious kinds of produce to buy. There are a lot of hints about storing produce and the best way and time to eat everything. I had no idea that if you cut garlic, you should let it rest for 10 minutes before you heat it so you can get the maximum amount of allicin ( a cancer fighting enzyme). If you heat garlic immediately after chopping/pressing for even 30 seconds, 90% of the cancer fighting enzyme is gone. Kind of disheartening when you think you've been doing something good for yourself!

I've made a few changes to my diet based on this book, including drinking purple carrot juice daily (it's amazing what this stuff has been shown to achieve in studies). Some of the advice, I will probably never do even if it does help me, just because of time, or lack thereof, on my part.

Well worth reading and keeping as a reference. I originally got this from the library but ended up buying the kindle version to keep.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

I've been picking up books and putting them back down after a few pages A LOT lately. I wandered through my library's online ebook catalog and saw this one. Eh. Give it a try, I guess.

Pretty much from page one, I was sucked in.

Jacob is 16 and thinks his grandpa is the best adult ever, despite the strange stories and photographs he has from his childhood. That's all Jacob thinks they are: stories. One day, Jacob gets a frantic call from his grandpa while he is at work and rushes to his grandpa's house. He witnesses .... is it.... a monster.... near his grandpa's dying body. His grandpa whispers some cryptic words before he dies.

Jacob is left feeling crazy and disoriented because he knows what he saw, but no one else saw the monster and no one believes him.

From this point, he's determined to figure out his grandpa's last words and find the orphanage his grandpa ended up in during WWII. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.

Jacob and his dad travel to the fairly deserted island where the home was and Jacob, literally, tumbles down the hole that leads him on a peculiar and thrilling adventure.

This is the first in a series and it did end with a bit of a "What?? What happens next?!?".  I'm excited to read the next book, Hollow City.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

FINALLY finished it.

This was not up my alley at all. I've surprised myself when I read Jane Austen - surprised as in I really enjoyed her works. The book club I'm in was reading Little Women and I thought it would be along the same lines. Nope. I did not enjoy this at all.

I started reading it, the actual physical book, but switched to Craftlit to get the audio and Heather's commentary. I feel like I did this because I wasn't interested in the story as I read it. I listened to the audio for a while and it wasn't bad, but I was still bored of the story.

The characters were not interesting to me. It was too sweet and too "Marry a rich man!" & "We're poor but we have a servant!" for me.

Jo wasn't a terrible character but I was annoyed by her as well (25 and a spinster!).

I tried. I really did.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Struggling Through The Books

I'm in a lull with reading and I'm not sure why. I think I just need a break to read some frivolous book because the ones I have been struggling to get through are just tedious....

I'm still working through Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, last month's book club book, simply because I feel like I am too far into it (Beth just died - spoiler) and it's now a mission to get it done. But OH, is it boring and so not anything like I would have ever read. I care nothing for those girls and just want to see that last page. Really, the only thing keeping me going is the fact I have the cool Little Women, with the cover by Julie Doucet.

The other book started off as an audiobook from the library, Eating on the Wild Side, that was informative enough that I bought a Kindle copy to keep (and finish reading) as reference. Now I'm stalled. Bedtime reading just isn't right when you are reading about fruits and vegetables.

These two books have stopped me cold :( But I feel like I need to get them done and off my plate before I can really keep going. I'm so close to finishing both that it will be one heck of a victory to be done.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

I'm happy I got this one done for the book club night next week (I'm still plodding through Little Women even though that was last month's book).

I have such mixed feelings about this book. It was beautiful writing. I love wading through the sentences and seeing where they would end. But there are zero likable characters in this book. None. I hated all of them.

Our narrator is Nick Carraway, who has moved East in hopes of pursuing a job in bonds. He finds himself on West Egg next to the titled Jay Gatsby. Gatsby comes across as very shallow and secretive, much skilled at hiding his past, with a great deal of money to burn. And burn it does. He throws lavish (gaudy) parties every weekend and anyone who wants to be invited just shows up. Not much fun to live next door to until Nick himself is actually invited to the party.

Nick comes to find out that Gatsby is in love with Daisy Buchanan, his cousin, who is married to an oaf, Tom. Daisy is a pretty horrific character in of herself but she almost appeared likable next to her husband. Jordan Baker, a famed golfer, is the last of the main characters. Take a guess... unlikable.

We end up winding our way through this "romance" as Gatsby declares his love (and tries to win Daisy with a show of money - of which she has no need), Tom's mistress getting killed (ironically by Daisy), Tom realizing Gatsby wants Daisy and suddenly trying to be a good husband and Daisy just being a horrible woman, leading on every man who professes love.

The sadness of the book really lies in the ending. Gatsby is killed and no one shows for his funeral except for Nick and Gatsby's father (and a strange man we don't know anything about). Of all the supposed friends from all the lavish parties, no one really cared for the man Gatsby. In the end, that was the part of the book that did move me.

It seems people hate or love this book, but I think I'm on the fence.

NPR's Fresh Air has a segment on this book

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Skin Game by Jim Butcher

Do you know how disappointing it is to be on a long wait list for a book at the library, only to have it become available when you are out of the state? Then you get back on the wait list and you are 10th in line...again.

It took me a bit to get to the 15th book in the Harry Dresden series, but it was worth the wait.

Harry is still hanging out on Demonreach, jumping prisons for exercise, when Mab shows up to summon him to an assignment. It's not something he can say no to since he is still her Winter Knight. Off they go, only to confront Harry's enemy, Nicodemus Archleone, who needs Harry to pull off a heist.

Sounds simple enough until you find out it's stealing from Hades' vault. Yes, that Hades.

Harry is still fighting skull crushing headaches from a parasite in his brain. Or is it a parasite? Ah, the added complications in the life that is Harry Dresden.

Nicodemus pulls together a crack team to steal the Holy Grail (yes, that one) from Hades' vault and things just start to unravel.

Some of the scenes involving Murphy made me a bit nauseous and worried. The Carpenter's also make a glorious appearance that made me dance with joy. I love that family.

And Butters. Ah, Butters.

This really did not disappoint and just makes me that more excited for the next one.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Church of Mercy by Pope Francis

I saw this in the new audiobook section of my library online and decided to give it a shot. I'm not Catholic (or Christian for that matter) but there is something about the new Pope that I really like. He seems more open minded to the current state we are in and that's actually a nice change.

This is a Vatican-approved collection of his speeches, homilies, and papers. Since it was audio, I honestly don't remember what each section was called, but some overlapped. Basically, among the biblical verses and teachings, he spoke of universal truths, much like His Holiness The Dalai Lama does. These are things everyone, regardless of religion, can do to make the world a better place.

Helping the poor and downtrodden is a huge service that the Pope pushes (for lack of a better word). Not getting caught up in money or things. I appreciated the sections about trying to get the hypocrisy out of the church so people respect the Catholic church again. Getting rid of gossip among the parishioners. These are all things everyone can work on to improve everyone's lives.

This was a very short audio (about 4 hours) but it was a good listen. Much like the Buddhist books I enjoy, it did make me come away wanting to be a better person, to myself and to others.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

I took this on vacation, just planning to read it in the room in the evening. Turns out, it was so good and so engrossing I took it to the beach (*gasp* a library book on the beach!).

Another recommendation from Books on the Nightstand...

This was beautiful, sad, heartbreaking and uplifting. An amazing book that I just couldn't stop reading... until I was forced to.

Marie Laure lives in Paris with her father and she became blind at a very young age. Her father, Daniel LeBlanc, is an amazing dad, who built Marie a small model of their entire neighborhood - exact model - so she could learn her way around and not depend on anyone.

Werner Pfennig lives in Germany as an orphan in an orphanage with his sister. He is a whiz at fixing radios and is a very smart boy. Unfortunately, in the time of Hitler's law, smart young boys are pulled in to the Hitler Youth and into the war.

Our main characters lead us on a horrifying path through World War II and Hitler's Nazi regime. Every character we come in contact with leaves a mark, they are so well-written and fleshed out that you feel like you are standing there with them, having a conversation.

We all know how WWII ends, but the fates of some of the beloved characters and our main characters aren't necessarily happy endings.

A beautiful must-read.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

My second book for beach reading and it was a little bit more than I had anticipated. I thought I just grabbed a no-brainer YA book. Wrong.

Speak is an amazingly good book about a high school freshman, Melinda, who is entering high school as a complete social outcast. She became an outcast over the summer when she called the cops on a party she was at and her friends would not forgive her. The book shows Melinda now but shows us that she has become a completely different person than everyone knew.

I figured out pretty early what happened to Melinda at the party and, despite that, the book keeps a fairly light voice to it even as Melinda falls apart.

It is painful to read about such an outcast (I was not remotely close to popular or covered in friends in high school either) and it irritated me so badly that her parents just lectured instead of TALKING to try and find out what happened.

I ran through this one pretty fast, as it was a good read.  I'm leaving it at the hotel for another person to enjoy.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Desert Heat by J.A. Jance

One beach read down and given to the hotel library... or another hotel patron. I don't know where it ended up.

I swear I've read this. Goodreads seems to think I've read this. But I only knew the character Joanna Brady but none of the story. So I think I've read later books with Joanna as sheriff but not the first? I have no idea.

I think I plowed through this in a day at the beach (and an evening on the balcony).

Joanna Brady and her husband, Andy, live in a little desert town where Andy is running for sheriff. Unfortunately for him, someone decides to kill him. Joanna is left with her 9 year old daughter, fighting to clear Andy's name of suicide, drug dealing and being a dirty cop.

This felt like a standard mystery, which actually kept some things a mystery until they were revealed, and although some of the sex scenes were just too much, it was a good book.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Bird Box by Josh Malerman

Another spot on the Bingo card for summer reading ... down. I have 2 boxes in a row now. Yay.

Another recommendation by Books on the Nightstand and this one was a doozy. They warned it was creepy. It was. I think, but don't quote me on this, that this is the most unusual psychological thriller I think I've read.

We have no idea what is going on except that when people see something, they end up going insane and killing loved ones and then themselves (or just themselves if they are alone). No one knows what they see: creatures? monsters? radio waves? We just know that the characters in the book are forced to live life with their eyes closed or shut up in a house with covers over the windows.

We know it lasts at least 4 years, as that is how old Malorie's children are in present time. She found out she was pregnant at the time the "visual plague" started. We flip back and forth to present to when the phenomena started happening and, honestly, none of it makes sense but the unknown horror that looms out there makes your skin crawl.

Excellent book. Well-written and sufficiently creepy to keep making me look over my shoulder.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Third in the Divergent series (and final), this one didn't fall flat like some of the other 3rd books in trilogies (looking at you, Mockingjay).

Tris, Tobias and crew are stuck inside Chicago where Evelyn, Tobias' mother, leads the new city, by forbidding factions and keeping the factionless armed and patrolling the city. Just another tyrant on the wall.

The Allegiant is formed, a group of people who want the old way of life and who want to follow Edith Prior's video of leaving the city walls. A small group of Divergent, including Tris, Christina and Tobias, head out and discover..... an airport. Otherwise known as the government who is using people as experiments. Now we're getting creepier.

Allegiant explains the purpose of the Chicago experiment and genetically "damaged" vs genetically "pure". It all got very Hitler/Nazi-esque to me, which I suppose is what it was supposed to do.

Someone has to rise against, and they do, with some dire consequences to some main characters. I'll give props to Roth on the ending. Quite powerful.

Since I refuse to spoil, I'll finish with: this is a great ending to a great series. Bravo!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Another recommendation by Books On The Nightstand podcast. Another GREAT recommendation.

A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

I can't, wouldn't, give away anything in this review, because it is a jaw-dropper. A WTF? book. A go-back-to-the-beginning-and-reread-instantly book to see HOW you possibly missed this.

You missed the twist, the WTF moment because the book is so well-written. Cadence Sinclair, one of the first Sinclair grandchilden, one of the golden ones, has an accident on the family's private island. Her memory is lost and we step into the book where she's trying to remember her accident and the events surrounding it.

This is a book that would appeal to adults and young adults. It's a short 240 pages. I didn't read it in one sitting, although I would have if I could have. But there was nothing that I picked up that would have pointed out the twist. Once I caught a glimpse of it, I was hooked.

Go. Read. NOW. 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Mr Mercedes by Stephen King

How did cars become so evil?

At least in Mr. Mercedes, the car is just the medium for evil, it's not the source thereof.

The source is an incredibly disturbed young man who decides it would be great fun to run a stolen Mercedes through a crowded parking lot full of job fair seekers. We learn that he kills 8 of them, including a baby and her mother. Right off the bat, King has made you despise this man.

We meet with Bill Hodges, a retired detective, who despite his impressive list of closed cases, never managed to find Mr. Mercedes. Until one day, contemplating suicide, Hodges gets a letter from....

Which sparks his interest in re-investigating the case. Which leads him to the sister of the owner of the car, who committed suicide months before.....

Which leads him to the cousin of the sister, Janey, who is very neurotic and smothered by her mother...

and downward we go into a spiral of mass terrorism.

I'd rather you read this instead of me telling all. Because this one, this is a classic King novel, and it needs to be enjoyed and it needs to freak you out too.

Tequila Mockingbird: Cocktails with a Literary Twist

For some reason, I enjoy reading drink recipes that either famous authors enjoyed (Hemingway & Bailey's Bartending Guide to Great American Writersor, in this case, are based on books. 

I grabbed this one from the library as a fun read. It didn't disappoint. It's a excellently illustrated book with just enough tidbits of info about the major books the drinks are based on to keep you entertained. And if you are mixing up the cocktails as you go, hey, more power to you.

I'm not a cocktail girl, preferring my drinks straight as they come, but I had the makings of at least one of the drinks: Rye and Prejudice. Rye whiskey and grapefruit juice. The first sip was bracing but the rest was just excellent. I've made note of the rest of the drinks to try, leaving out exceptionally fruity concoctions, and we will see how it goes. This is a good reason for me to beef up the liquor cabinet with mixers!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

B-I-N-G-O!! Wait...Wrong Kind...

So once again, Books On The Nightstand podcast has brilliant things to share. For your summer reading enjoyment, they are offering up Bingo cards. What? Yes, you read right. Bingo!

Episode 282 explains the whole concept and links to the cards. Each time you hit refresh, you get a new card. I helpfully supplied the link here.

I'm all about this kind of stuff, so I went, hit refresh and printed out the first card - basically without looking at it. I also made a shot to share with you here.

I'm making it even harder on myself by deciding that all the books I read for this bingo MUST come from my library here at home (which is over 1,000 books and growing). I have a ton that I haven't read, but picked up because I wanted to read them someday. Well....someday is here.

Where to start? How should I play this card? I'm fairly certain my book "With a red cover" is going to be Living Buddha, Living Christ by Thich Naht Hanh that I recently picked up and keep eyeballing. That means I can go horizontal and get the free square (Ann recommends watching a movie based on a book for that one) or vertical and hit a translation.  Hmmmm....

This will be an interesting summer.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

A lot of hoopla surrounds this book.

Well-deserved hoopla.

I've been thinking about this one since I finished it a few days ago and I just wasn't sure what to write. I read other reviews and, aside from the ones FULL of animated gifs, I kept saying "Yeah, kinda right".

I think I'll write this review starting with some background - brief background. I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis when I was about 7 years old. It's a horrible disease but still a better disease than some others. Colitis, like Crohn's Disease, can turn deadly quickly or slowly. Mine chose to go quickly. Within 2 years, I had my entire colon and rectum removed because eagle-eyed, intelligent doctors at Riley Children's Hospital in Indianapolis saw that cancer was a very definite possibility. I am a lucky one but it was a scary, horrific ordeal and I'm well aware that I got a second chance. The "big surgery" came with a warning that I might not make it. UC is never cured but I'm still thankful that I never had cancer.

That kind of experience, as a kid, saddles you for the rest of your life. While your cohorts and peers are running around, having a blast and enjoying life.... you are not so much doing that. You are aware that things are bigger, scarier, and, honestly, that kids die. Being at Riley for so much of my childhood, that was very apparent. Kids. Die.

I was looking for a notebook to write in the other day and grabbed a random one. In it was a listing of my free-flowing thinking from 2 years ago that all started with "I want....". It spanned four pages and started with: "I want to leave behind something bigger than me".

And there is exactly why I loved this book.

Green pegged the cancer kids, the sick kids, exactly. The love story of Hazel and Gus was an uplifting thing to read, don't get me wrong. I wanted those two crazy kids to work out. But Gus' almost-obsession with needing to leave something great behind, because otherwise - really - what's the point in dying young, made me keep nodding along. Yes. I want that too. It is almost an obsession, a drive, to have all the struggles and pain mean something. But Hazel's sentiments are probably the correct ones. Tread lightly and love deeply but not widely. Move on to whatever is next.

Hoopla well earned. Plus it was so fun to have it set in my town (or near town). I've spent my time on Funky Bones, watching the stars. It's a well written, well meaning, well worded book.

This is not an ordinary review. Except I still leave you with READ THIS. It's worth it.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Field of Prey by John Sandford

Book 24 of the Lucas Davenport series....

I won't mention names but there are some series I just stopped reading because the author was churning out the same thing, over and over. Then there are series that I dread will end. Sandford's books are the ones I don't want to ever stop because even though we have had the same characters for 24 books now, it's not old. New people are introduced into each book, make you like them and they go away only to pop up in another book or series.

Davenport is in charge again with the usual round of characters in the background: Flowers, Del, etc. In Field of Prey, we meet Catrin Mattsson, a detective who is part of the investigation for the Black Hole Killer. Multiple skulls and body pieces are found in a cistern out in the middle of nowhere, all pointing to a serial killer, spanning over a decade of killings. The case is lukewarm turning cold for a bit, as per usual, then speeds up into a fairly horrifying conclusion.

I did yell at Davenport once when he got the name of the killer, in a batch of 3 possible names, and only investigated two... obviously not the killer. D'oh! There were same strange twists and turns in this one and one complete WTF moment where I had to go back and re-read some sections (applauding Sandford for that one) and still never picked up on that plot twist!

My only complaint isn't really a complaint. I get that this is part of the story of the sexual deviancy of the killer bothered me. I KNOW there are people like this IRL but, towards the end, it was rough to read.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Insurgent by Veronica Roth

I think I forget what being a 16 year old girl is like. Through quite a bit of this book, I was sighing at Tris and rolling my eyes. But as it progressed, I got it.

I had a rocky upbringing but obviously wasn't taught to battle, use guns and take over Erudite headquarters as a 16 year old. I didn't watch my parents die bloody deaths and I didn't have to kill my best friend. (thank goodness).

Tris is now having panic attacks when she has to hold a gun (don't blame her there) and seems to be recklessly throwing herself in the path of death and mayhem for no particular reason, although she'll be happy to give you all the reasons she made up. Naturally, Tobias (aka Four aka Tris' boyfriend) is getting fed up with all of this especially since they are in the midst of a deadly war between factions.

Spoilers, dear reader.

The Dauntless end up back at their home base when it's clear the other factions would rather turn them over than stick their own necks out. Sweet. Anyway, they attempt to blind all of the cameras that the Eurdite have placed in Dauntless headquarters but they miss some. That results in very young Dauntless being mind-controlled to commit suicide until a Divergent (such as Tris or Tobias) hands themselves over to Eurdite headquarters. Tris, suicide mission bound again, walks herself right in to hell. Good girl.

She's experimented on by the head of Eurdite and lo and behold, Tobias walks himself right into hell with Tris because, at first it was a "You die, I die" deal (very Shakespearean) but then it becomes clear Tobias has no intention of dying with Tris and is trying to find the control rooms of the headquarters for an attack later. Fortunately, he doesn't want Tris dead either and they do make it out.

From there, an attack on the Eurdite headquarters is planned by Dauntless and the factionless. Tris joins up with others to get there first because the data must be saved.

And I leave you there. Because it's quite a fiery, bloody end to the book which leaves you hanging and desperately cursing the library for not having enough copies of Allegiant. Not that I would curse the library.....

Thursday, May 22, 2014

A Storm of Swords by George R R Martin

According to Goodreads, it took me 2 years to read this. Why, you ask? It's not because it was boring or a terrible book. It's because someone told me all about the Red Wedding. Details, in fact. I was spoiled and I couldn't bring myself to keep reading.

Here's a hint: someone says "Hey, I'm reading such-and-such book!" Your response should never be "Did you get to the part where there's a wedding and so-and-so and so-and-so are murdered? And the direwolf.... " etc. etc. Instead, say "Where are you at in it?"

Common sense, people!

I hated knowing the red wedding was coming so I plodded. But then, GoT on HBO showed the purple wedding and before I could log off Facebook someone posted all about it. Fork, just stick me.

I was told by friends who had read it to keep reading, that the story is well worth it even though I was rudely spoiled on 2 of the biggest events. So I took it on my vacation and finished it.

Now, I kindly tell you, dear reader, spoilers are ahead.....

What a fantastic  book! Despite knowing the horrific red wedding and the exceedingly pleasing purple wedding, once I got back, I was sucked in entirely. So absorbed, I got sunburnt on vacation because I got lost in the book. I'll only hand out a few spoilers here because if you haven't read this, you should.

First off.... Jon Snow and Ygritte. Holy moses, I felt horrible for both of them through the course of this book. He was clearly getting smitten with wild woman Ygritte, and she with him ("You know nothing, Jon Snow!") and, while he did have to get back to the Wall, I was sad that she continued to attack and was killed. They could have lived in that cave forever and happy.

Dany and her story line didn't really do much for me and didn't draw me in very well. I am shocked that Jorah was banished and curious when we will see him again.

The red wedding. It has to be said. I was still horrified reading it, even though I knew what was going to happen. Catelyn and Robb dying such horrible deaths at the hands of Frey for.... revenge? That was a bloody massacre and it seemed commonplace when it was discussed among other families ("Yup, the Starks are out of the way"). I'm getting really upset with what is happening to the Starks. Sansa getting out of the Lannister land is good but to end up with Littlefinger and batshit aunt who tries to kill her? Oy. Arya. I have such mixed feelings about Arya. I love her but bad luck just follows the girl. I have honestly never cared for Bran's portion of the books, so I don't really have comments on him.

Now the purple wedding. Holy snikey.... little bastard King Joffrey is finally dead!!! And his mom/uncledad have sex right next to his dead body. What??! Keep it classy, Lannisters. We know Joffrey was poisoned and, if Littlefinger isn't lying, who killed him was a surprise (yay, something I wasn't spoiled on!).  Uncle Tyrion is accused of the murder (but really, I think almost anyone in the book could be a suspect) and stands trial. Everything falls in his sister's favor and he's sentenced and thrown in a cell. Dun dun duuuun! Only to have his now one-handed brother Jaime break him free! Dun dun dunnnnn! But first! Before he goes...... let's kill daddy Lannister! Didn't see that coming!

Not a lot of people survived this book but damn, what a ride.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Divergent by Veronica Roth

A lot of hype because of the movie so I was sucked in. I got this from the library just a day before my vacation and sat out in the sun reading this, beginning to end.

I'm hooked!

It's no Hunger Games and honestly, that's good. I did love the first 2 books of The Hunger Games so don't get me wrong.

Divergent is set in dystopian Chicago, of all places, with groups of people divided up into factions. We have Candor (honest), Dauntless (brave), Erudite (intelligent), Amity (peaceful) and Abnegation (selfless). The theory is that all factions make up one excellent society.... *cough*

The Dauntless are the soldiers and Abnegation is the government. Beatrice and her brother Caleb are part of the Abnegation faction and, as per the rules, once they turn 16 they take a test to determine which faction they will stay in, either the one they are born in or one of their choosing. They get one shot at it or else they become factionless.

Possible spoilers.....

Both Caleb and Beatrice choose to leave Abnegation. Beatrice, hereby known as Tris, chooses Dauntless and begins her training as a soldier. She meets several other Dauntless folks, including Christina from Candor and Will from Erudite. She also meets Four, her trainer. Sparks started flying early on, but surprisingly it didn't ruin the plot of the book.

Ok, no more spoilers....

Except people die because there is no utopian way of doing things!!! People never learn.

Ready for book two......

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Black Magic Sanction by Kim Harrison

Number 8 in The Hollows series with Rachel Morgan.

Short and sweet review: this is another good book in the series. Rachel is shunned by the witches coven because they believe she is a demon (mostly true) and dabbles in black magic (true) but it still grates on her that she is shunned. Mostly because the coven keeps trying to kill her and her friends.

All the old characters are back, and even though there was a sad death in there, nothing terribly surprising happens. Not to say it's not a good story because I did enjoy the book, but it was a Rachel Morgan book. And, as Martha says, that's a good thing!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Children Playing Before a Statue of Hercules by David Sedaris

I had the audio book for this one and since it was under 3 hours and short stories, I tackled it. David Sedaris is just awesome, so awesome, I'm happy to listen to him reading other people's work.

Color me surprised then when I see that the printed book version had many more short stories than the audio book. Now I feel like I missed something.

The audio book covered

"Where the Door is Always Open and the Welcome Mat is Out" by Patricia Highsmith, read by Cherry Jones
"Bullet In the Brain" by Tobias Wolff, read by Toby Wherry
"Gryphon" by Charles Baxter, read by David Sedaris
"In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson Is Buried" by Amy Hempel,read by Mary-Louise Parker
"Cosmopolitan" by Akhil Sharma, read by the author

I am having difficulty choosing which story I liked best, not that I am forced to choose, mind you. All were really excellent and read incredibly well.

I do think I need to get the printed version because if the selection for the audio book was this good, I don't think I want to miss the others.

Shift (Omnibus) by Hugh Howey

Holy hell...this audiobook was 18+ hours long. And I could not stop listening....

Hopefully, you will read/listen to Wool (Omnibus) first even though Shift is the prequel. I frickin' loved Wool and there were so many things left at the end that just confused me. How did these people come to live in Silos? What happened to America that forced so many people underground? Shift explains.

Shift flips between the somewhat current years with politicians (I KNEW it had to be politicians ruining the earth!!!) planning a nuclear waste area in Georgia, including building an underground silo that would be used in case there was a nuclear "issue" and all the workers had to go somewhere in an emergency. Donald is the very green congressman tasked with designing this silo. He commits a great deal of time to it, working with his ex from college and a senior congressman's daughter, Anna.

Then we flip to many many years in the future and the silos are in full use. Silo 1 has shifts of people who work for 6 months and then are frozen for a period of time until their next shift. Troy comes on shift and is the head of the silos. He is struggling with his shift because, despite the medication given to him, he remembers.

The omnibus continues to flip back and forth between pre-silo and post-apocalyptic silos. I am loathed to give anything away because of how many times I was surprised when I was listening.

Truly, read this series but start with Wool.

Shift (books 6-8)

Book 6 - Legacy
First Shift is a prequel to the story in the first five Wool novels, where the actions that led to the status quo of the world are explained through the eyes of Donald, a young congressman, in two different timelines.
Book 7 - Order
Second Shift follows a few of the characters of Book 6 when they are woken from cold-sleep 100 years later to be consulted on some unresolved problems, as well as a young new character in silo 18 named Mission, where they are experiencing internal fighting which threatens their survival.
Book 8 - Pact
Third Shift brings a close to the prequel trilogy. It tells the story of the fall of Silo 17, and the transformation of Jimmy into Solo, as well as the continued story of Donald Keene in Silo 1.

The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs

Sometimes, when I'm trying a new type of knitting pattern, I can puzzle over it and try to make sense of it and feel like tearing my hair out (baby booties come to mind) and declare that I just don't need to make that pattern. But then I get hold of myself and decide to just quit over thinking and follow along exactly without worrying about the final product.

Amazingly, I got a nice pair of baby booties out of that.

This book was actually tackled the same way. I had issues with the writing and some of the characters and was struggling at first to get through it. But I decided to just throw myself into the story, forget that it was a bit clichey and the characters seemed off, and just go with it.

Once I did that, I enjoyed the story.

Georgia Walker owns a yarn store called Walker and Daughter. Her daughter, Dakota, is almost a teenager but was written to appear to be 10. I had a rough time with her character, but I digress. Anita is Georgia's mentor and also works in the shop. As per the title, a Friday night knitting club ends up, rather spontaneously, in Georgia's shop with a hodgepodge of ladies who are brought together by the love of yarn. Or something like that.

Most of this book was pretty formulaic. Single mom, struggling business, jealous friends, major trauma, etc. etc. But just go along with the flow, dive in and enjoy (this is a definite beach-type read).

Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert

For this one, I thank Jon Stewart's The Daily Show for this one. He had Elizabeth Kolbert on the show and I was really interested in the book. I recommend following the link to go to the interview!

The Sixth Extinction covers the mass extinction happening right now to many plants and animals. There have been 5 extinction events previously, with the dinosaurs being the newest (relatively speaking). The cause of the sixth event turns out to be.... us.

Kolbert lays out the evidence that humans are, purposefully or not, pushing species right off the ledge of extinction. She lays out different issues in each chapter, ranging from the ever present but still poo-poo'd climate change, ocean acidity, coral reefs breaking down to how modern humans wiped out Neanderthals (after having sex with them).

It's not a horribly in-depth book, so you don't need a science degree to understand it, but it delves enough into each scenario to make you worry about the future of the earth. As one scientist noted we are liable to wipe ourselves out along with other species. And that is pretty scary.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

I'm trying desperately to remember if I've read The Shining or if I've seen the movies. I know this sounds bad, but it's such a well-known story, I feel like I've read it even though I really don't think I have. I've seen enough of the movie, enough of King's miniseries of the movie and The Simpson's episode.

Doctor Sleep is the sequel to The Shining and it's a damn good one. Little Danny Torrance and his mom Wendy survived the Overlook hotel and moved on to make a (somewhat sad) life for themselves. We start with Danny as a kid, still seeing the ghosts from the Overlook and learning tricks from Dick to keep his sanity.

Danny grows up and is basically a shadow of his father, giving in to his alcoholism and drifting around the US. The book mostly races through this time of Dan's life, focusing on one pivotal moment of a drunken haze, and blazing forward into a town called Frazier. And there we stay, while the events of Dan's life play out.

I don't think there are major plot points to give away but we are introduced to the True Knot, led by Rose the Hat. They are vampires of a sort, traveling the country in RVs, finding kids with shining to feed upon, suck dry and bury in shallow graves.

Dan still has his shining and he teams up with a young girl, Abra, with more power than he can even imagine to stop the True Knot.

Classic King. I was determined to finish the last third of the book in one day and my poor dog was neglected (she says). I love it when books suck me in like this.

Saturday, March 22, 2014


I haven't completed any new books but am still reading 2 from the local library. I had varicose veins removed on Friday the 14th and I thought I would happily spend time on the couch reading for my recovery. Buzz!

Sharp, stabbing pain in the leg just isn't complementary to happily reading.

I'm still reading The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert and it really good. But I had to stop temporarily to read something not so in-depth and brainy.

I switched to Doctor Sleep by Stephen King and, while I haven't actually read The Shining, I'm really enjoying this one. So much in fact, my knitting has taken a hit. Maybe I should have gotten the audio....

I'm on a short wait list for Catching Fire on Netflix which is disappointing, so I'm appeasing myself with Season 2 of Deadwood. My, but the F-word is dropped a lot.

And that's the ketchup...

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Ashfall by Mike Mullin

Ashfall (and the trilogy) was recommended by a friend on Facebook. YA books are becoming mainstays in my reading pile because they are much improved from back in my day (yes, I'm old). Mullin is also an Indianapolis author and I like to support the natives :)

I had a seen a documentary a bit ago about supervolcanos and Yellowstone was listed as one of the greats. It detailed the catastrophic nature of what would happen if it erupted again. It's erupted about 3 times previously, millions of years ago, and people are saying it's "due".

I visited Yellowstone on a family vacation and was pretty young. I never really fathomed that there was a volcano under there. It was just stinky and pretty.

Ashfall gives us Alex Halprin, in Cedar Falls, IA, home alone while his family visits other family in Illinois. Something crashes into his house, collapsing it and starting a fire. He escapes and stays with his neighbors and thus begins the fallout of Yellowstone erupting. Thunderous noise and ash falling so fast and furious that no light can be seen keeps them all in terror for the first of this disaster. Almost immediately, looters are prevalent (which is disheartening) and Alex begins a journey to Illinois to find his family.

He encounters many shady characters, some good people and some scary government people. His trip is difficult and I appreciated his ingenuity in his journey.

I'd rather not give away any more plot points so I will say this reminded me of a teen version of The Road with more emphasis on teen love and less lyrical in it's storytelling. I'm disappointed that cannibals appear so quickly as they did in The Road. Is that really what we will immediately resort to? Ugh.

I'm definitely reading the next books in the series. This is a good one.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton

This is the next one in the book club I have yet to attend and I finished it!

I chose a Librivox audiobook for this even though I had the actual book because I needed to keep knitting! The version I downloaded was 4 hours and done quite well (version 2).

I am unsure what to say about this one. I am unsure that I really like Wharton's books. I keep listening and reading because there is something about the story that gets me, but in the end, I wonder why I did. Ethan is a not very old man (52, I believe) when an outsider to the town meets him. He was crippled in an accident and we get the whole sad story. Sad. Depressing story. With a sledding accident.

At the time, Frome is about 28 and his wife's cousin comes to live with them because she has no one else. His wife, Zeena, is quite the woman. Suspicious and a hypochondriac. Mattie, her cousin, is young and pretty and she and Ethan take a liking to each other.

I suppose I could have thought this book would be hopeful. I suppose they could have went off and lived happily ever after. But a miserable existence was in their cards. And what a miserable one it is.

I need an uplifting book to read now.

Storm Front by John Sandford

And here's another Fuckin' Flowers book. Can I say I love Virgil?

I downloaded the audiobook from because I was too busy knitting for the Ravellenic games to actually *gasp* pick up a book. I needed my hands free for this one...

Because it's an audio book, I have no idea of the spelling of anything in this book. Somehow I grabbed my first ever audio of a Sandford book and it's filled with Israeli and Lebanese names. So pardon me if things are misspelled in this review...

Elijah Jones is a religious man who has been on many archeological digs in Israel and just so happens to find an artifact that could change the biblical face of things. So he naturally smuggles it out of Israel and straight down the road from Virgil Flowers. Lucas Davenport, his boss and main guy of the Prey series, assigns Virgil to pair with an Israeli agent to get the stone back.

Things get much worse as Jones puts the stone up for auction and many "bad guys" come in to town to place their bids. Bad guys is in quotes simply because it felt more comical than scary. Even with the Turks who cut off testicles....still seemed more funny. The baddies just weren't....bad.

The search for the stone wasn't as nail-biting and there wasn't a lot of mystery.

This sounds like I was unhappy with the book and that's not true. I still love Flowers and it was a new take on what he can do (or who he can do). I'm happy it didn't get all biblical/Dan Brown like and it was a good story.

I was happy to go along for this less-bumpy ride.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

While googling, I just saw this is a movie now. This was such a powerful book, I don't know that I'd want to see the movie. But I did just add it to the queue....

I do think this is a really great book but I was bothered by some aspects. So onwards.... Sarah of the title is a little girl in WWII Paris and, unfortunately for her at the time, Jewish. The only way you don't know about Nazis and what happened during WWII is if you live under a rock or are willfully ignorant. But, I have to admit, that I did not know about the situation in Paris at the time.

Sarah was part of the Vel' d'Hiv roundup (aka Operation Spring Breeze - really??) where over 13,000 Jews were arrested and placed in "holding" in a a Velodrome that quickly became a filthy, sickly, horrendous place to be. From there, they are moved to "camps" and, at that point, most people knows where things go.

Julia is an American journalist in Paris who is tasked with writing about the anniversary of this event. The more she learns, the more horrified she becomes, and the more she realizes that the French would rather pretend it never happened. What's the good of reliving the past? (So you don't repeat it??). Her marriage to Frenchman, Bertrand, is in trouble and becomes more troubled when she finds out she's pregnant.

As the stories separately continue, we start seeing where they mesh together. Past and present are linked and the journey for the truth of what happened to Sarah becomes a quest for Julia.

I loved the story. It kills me the monstrous acts that humans inflict on one another and each time I think it's as bad as we get... I find it gets worse. The majority of the Jews arrested that day in Paris? Children. Around 4,000 of those rounded up were children.

The youngest on record being sent to Auschwitz? 18 months old.

Dads went sent directly away while later on, mothers were forcibly ripped from their children and sent to their death.

Everyone has to face their history. This is the history of our world, that everyone was involved in. Either fighting against or going along with. I strongly encourage everyone to do research into this and learn.

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

I read this one for a new book club, that I have yet to get to. This time I failed to make it because my car blew a radiator hose and I was unable to make the drive. But I finished the book!

I don't actively seek out Jane Austen because the romantic goo is not up my alley. I want to say that if you go back and re-read any of my Austen reviews, I'll say the same. Usually something has to prod me to read her books.

Jane Austen? Why I go so far as to say that any library is a good library that does not contain a volume by Jane Austen. Even if it contains no other book. ~Mark Twain
Sorry, I had to :)

Sense and Sensibility focuses on the Dashwood sisters, Elinor and Marianne. I disliked them both. I disliked their brother, his wife, their neighbors and friends. I wanted to actively punch Mrs. Palmer and Lucy Steele. I don't know if this was the desired effect but it was the effect.

Elinor is the steadfast, mature sister while Marianne is the dreamer and self-centered sister. They have moved to Barton Cottage after the elder Mr. Dashwood has passed. The Middletons are their neighbors (re: Sir John "He's as stupid as the weather") and leave little to be desired in the name of entertainment.

The gist, I gather, is the stringent search for a man to marry. Marianne and Elinor both believe they have found their mate only to be disappointed. No one really comes out and says YES HE'S MY MATE, it's all guessed at and hinted at and gossiped about so it's not surprising how jacked up things get.

The ending was a non-surprise and a surprise. In the end though, I have to say the characters, as much as I disliked them and would never want to be near such people in real life, entertained with their audacity and shallowness.

A great audio version of this is available at Look for version 4 by Karen Savage. It really is excellent.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Takedown Twenty by Janet Evanovich

There's a reason I only get some books from the library. Oh Janet.... why are all your Stephanie Plum books exactly the same?!?! I LOVED this series when I started at One for the Money. Kept loving it and buying the books up into the double digits. But now, now.... I keep reading in hopes that something changes.

I guess there was a change in this one. A giraffe named Kevin. That was new.

But Lula and Stephanie... the same. Grandma... the same.  Ranger and Morelli and the "inner turmoil" at having 2 gorgeous guys in lust with her..... the same. No resolution for anyone but Kevin.

There are still laugh out loud moments. But things are repeated so much it feels like Evanovich is writing these so that people can start anywhere in the series and get the ENTIRE back story. We know the back story. Please quit telling us.

I'm sure I'll read 21, 22, 23, etc. I'll keep going as long as the library stocks them. And I'll keep hoping. Hoping for something to happen besides a giraffe named Kevin.

Lincoln's Last Days by Bill O'Reilly

I borrowed this one from a friend after I saw the movie Lincoln, which was an amazing movie. I refuse to comment on the author because it seems most reviews of this book are actually either rants about O'Reilly or people defending him and frankly, I don't care. It's annoying when I was just trying to find a good review of the book.

To me, this book is technically historical fiction. It's not possible that anyone knew the level of detail that is depicted here and since it reads just like a novel, my bet is that the story was beefed up a bit to entice more people. This isn't a bad thing, but good to know so people don't take it word for word as historical and fact.

The author takes us through the end of the Civil War and into the last days of Lincoln and the manhunt for Booth and company. Fun fact: I didn't know there was a "and company" involved with Booth.

Through history classes, movies, books I have come to really like Lincoln. There's not much about him that you would feel is of bad character and frankly, what he endured is amazing.

This book is apparently Killing Lincoln with pictures. I haven't read Killing Lincoln so I can't say, but the pictures were good in this one. The timelines and all the additional information at the end were very interesting. I would recommend this book, regardless what side of the political fence you run your life on.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

The final book in the Hunger Games trilogy.... spoilers abound. You've been warned.

"Do you still feel like the girl who volunteered for your sister?" she asks me. "No" I answer.

I've decided that I'm not happy with this one. I don't know what happened to Katniss or the other characters but I'm not pleased with the path they went down. One of the main reasons I enjoyed The Hunger Games so much is that Katniss Everdeen was a kickass survivor. She remained that way, for the most part, in Chasing Fire but here in Mockingjay, I wanted to slap her, repeatedly. She had no part in her fate, she ran away from everything and was acting like a petulant child through most of the story.

Obviously, being in the Hunger Games, twice, is going to have a mighty effect on a person. But I didn't expect the near complete mental breakdown Katniss was having, the constant stays in the hospital while everyone else planned a war, the many outright assertions that Katniss "isn't a thinker" or a "brain". She's basically, now, just a weapon and the face of a rebellion. Just the face, they don't really allow her to speak.

I kept reading because I really did want to see the Capitol overthrown. I'm disappointed in Gale, especially how he just left. Nothing left to say, just disappeared completely from the story with an excuse of a "fancy new job". Based on Katniss' and Gale's relationship in the first two books, I don't buy this.

Peeta's mind being hijacked was a good twist and his wanting to hurt/kill Katniss would have added something good to the plot if Katniss wasn't off hiding in a closet (!) telling herself she deserved to die.

The plot was a good one. I'm just confused and upset with the characters. Where did they go? People just don't change that drastically.

As much as I don't like movies based on books, I do love Jennifer Lawrence's portrayal of Katniss. I'm actually hoping that they change Mockingjay enough to let her continue to be the strong role model she should be. And leave the literary Katniss in the closet, hiding.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Turn of The Screw by Henry James

I listened to the audio through Craftlit, as part of the older episodes. I wasn't sure what I expected and I'm still not sure about it. It's tagged as a ghost story novella and I can get why it's a "big deal". But I'm in the area of "What a good plot!" and "Why can't it sound....less laborious?".

Classics, especially Victorian era classics, do have a certain method of speech and I get that, however this made me feel pulled out of the story more than it made me interested. Honestly, if not for Heather's commentary about the story, I would have missed a lot.

The plot is good and nicely ambiguous. A young governess is hired by a man to look after his niece and nephew. Mrs. Grose is the housekeeper and is the governess' confidante throughout the story. The young boy, Miles, has been kicked out of school for unknown reasons and the young girl, Flora, appears to be a sweet young girl.

The governess starts seeing ghosts and, once described to Mrs. Grose, finds the ghosts to be the former employees, including the former governess. Things start getting weird because we just aren't sure what is happening. It's clear she saw the ghosts. But does she continue seeing them? Are the children seeing them? Is the governess just losing her mind?

It's interesting to see her spiraling downward and seeing where it eventually ends up. The ending was crazy abrupt and still so up in the air that I'm not sure yet what really happened.

Since it's so short, I wouldn't tell people NOT to read it, but if you can focus on the plot and the twists and turns instead of the language, you will probably enjoy it.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The Year in.... 2013

So my books from 2013 are here. But I want to highlight the best of.....

 My two favorite literary podcasts this year were Books on the Nightstand and CraftLit. I've mentioned them often and with good reason. I was rarely steered wrong with BotN. I enjoyed every book I read that they recommended. Craftlit is different, it threw me back in the past to the classics that I probably never would have read. Heather is a teacher and so good at walking everyone through the literature, telling you want to look for and giving you so much insight it's like being in an awesome literature class in college.

As for books, I think the best of the year was The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. I can't wait to see the movie and you will hardly ever hear me say that. It was a beautiful book, told from the perspective of Death as he handles Nazi Germany. You really must read.

Next up, Wool (Omnibus collection) by Hugh Howey. This has all books, 1-5, in one set. I heard about this from the CraftStash podcast because there is some knitting involved. But trust me when I say this isn't a knitting centered book. It's a great story of people forced to live in silos because the earth is uninhabitable.

Wonder by R.J. Palacio is a great little book about a boy who is living with a disfigurement and it's such a good story, I blew off several outings with friends to read. This was recommended through Joan of Dark's blog

Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt. Beautiful and painful first time novel. Please read.

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne just killed me. Everytime I read about Nazi Germany, I die a bit because humanity was so bad. But then a story comes along that shows there were some good people out there.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. A departure for him but what a beautiful one. I'm very glad I took that trip.

And lastly, but certainly not least, the book I hugged because I wanted to hug the characters so bad.

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra. Get lost in here and just go with the characters. You'll be glad you did.

Happy Reading in 2014!

32 in 2013

Sadly, I did not reach my goal of 40 books this year. I fell 8 short. But that's ok, because I know this year has been so busy with work (I'm not happy about that but I'm aware of it) and by the time I'd get home and be done working, I was too tired to read.

The last few books of the year were:

The Knitter's Book of Socks by Clara Parkes. Yes, this is technically a book, with patterns. I got it from the library and ended up asking for it for Christmas, which I got. It's very informative and will help my sock knitting skills grow.

Brick by Brick by David Robertson. I have to admit I got bored with this real quick. I stuck it out but, as much as I appreciate LEGO, I just didn't care for the book.

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins.
Had to read before I see the movie. Very good. The first book in the trilogy was excellent. I don't think many serial books are excellent all the way through but I did enjoy the twists in Catching Fire.

I have another goal of 40 books for 2014. I'm hoping to re-focus on my personal life in 2014 rather than work. I think the fact that I am single makes it easier for me (and others) to push work instead of "family" personal time. But I see that changing :)