Week 29 – 2017

Hello Everyone! I’m going to jump right in today. Week 29 covers July 17 – 23. As always, feedback is encouraged.

Paris for One & Other Stories by Jojo Moyes – I borrowed this as an actual book from the Boston Public Library. I love this author. Aside from Me Before You, I thought One Plus One was outstanding. This book is short stories and they all have a bit of a twist to them. They are single serving delights. The title story is quite good and there is another one about a jewel heist that I especially enjoyed. I’m giving this 4 stars.

The Cranes Dance by Meg Howrey – I borrowed this as an e-book from the BPL. I will read ANYTHING about ballet dancers. This one is incredibly good. It tells the story of 2 sisters who are competing for spots in the same dance company. Kate is quickly becoming a drug addict and Gwen had to return home to deal with a recent bout of mental illness. Kate is haunted by the fact that she was the one to alert her parents but also she questions her judgment and whether it was jealousy that lead her to turn in her sister. I thought it was beautiful in every way. I’m giving it 5 stars.

A Tranquil Star by Primo Levi – I borrowed this as an audiobook from the BPL. This is a collection of short stories by an Italian author that was imprisoned in Auschwitz for 11 months. In one of the stories, he re-imagines his capture by the Nazis. I thought that was the best one of the lot, but they are all good in their own way. I like a different perspective. I’m giving it 3 stars.

 

The Return by Hisham Matar – I borrowed this as an e-book from the BPL. This was something I recommended. This is a memoir by an author who returns to Libya in order to find out the truth of what happened to his father, since his kidnapping 22 years prior. I thought this was brilliant. It sort of reads like a novel, and I kept having to remind myself that these were not characters in a story, but rather actual people who really lived. It is incredibly well written. I’m giving it 5 stars.

And that is it for Week 29. Let me know what you think. I love hearing from all of you.

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Week 28 – 2017

Greetings Book Lovers! I’m really closing the gap this year. Week 28 covers July 10 – 16. As always feedback is encouraged. Also remember that these are just my opinions and something I didn’t like a great deal could be your next favorite book, so keep an open mind. I love all of the books, but not equally or without bias.

Gork, the Teenage Dragon by Gabe Hudson – I received this as an e-book from the publisher via NetGalley. It’s funny. It’s entertaining. Did I totally love it? Not really. I think I need a better imagination to totally get this one. So dragons I get, in theory, except not too sure how they don’t set fire to themselves. But there is a lot of weird ass shit in this book that my brain didn’t really like. Like swapping the brain of a lion for a worm. Really? And I get the concept that a dragon might be able to grow a new tail or new horns, but an entire foot? Or a wing? That just seems improbable. Of course I had no problem with nanobots, so I’m sort of all over the place with this. If you just accept this book the way that it is, it’s quite funny. I’m going with that. I’m giving it 3 stars.

The Kommandant’s Girl by Pam Jenoff – I borrowed this as an actual book from the Boston Public Library. This was a book club pick. A member of the group had The Orphan’s Tale on a list that they brought to the June meeting so I suggested this earlier book by the same author. I liked it nearly as much. The only criticism I have is that it wraps up a little too nicely in a bow. But it’s a novel, so I guess whatever. Maybe I’m just a little too used to all of the best characters dying. This may also be considered young adult or new adult, which tend to have nice endings. Nothing follows any real rules anymore. That seems to be the new rule. I didn’t even describe the book. Here is the synopsis. I’m giving it 4 stars.

The Devil & Sherlock Holmes by David Grann – I borrowed this as an e-book from the BPL. This is non-fiction. It is different scenarios about obsession. The first is about a Conan Doyle enthusiast who ends up dead, mostly because of his obsession. There are murders and mobsters and scientists trying to capture a giant squid. It is all excellently researched. It’s quite impressive. The author did a great job with this. I’m giving it 3 stars.

The Samurai’s Garden by Gail Tsukiyama – I borrowed this as an actual book from the BPL. This was another book club pick. I was actually late to the meeting because I was in a scramble to finish it. This tells the story of a Chinese student, Stephen, who is sent to Japan to recover from tuberculosis. The Japanese are in the process of invading China. Stephen stays in his grandfather’s beach house with a servant, Matsu, who takes care of him. There is an undercurrent of prejudice running throughout the novel. It is quite good and I liked it overall, but it’s not a very exciting book. I’m giving it 3 stars.

And that’s it for Week 28. I need to get going or Week 30 is not going to have any content. If you have any feedback, I love hearing from all of you.

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Week 27 – 2017

I’m nearly current! I’m really going to have to clean my apartment now. Week 27 covers July 3 – 9. At least 2 of these books made me cry, but I’m not telling which ones. You’ll have to read them to figure it out. As always, feedback is encouraged.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein – I borrowed this as an e-book from the Boston Public Library. This book is amazing. Set during World War II, it tells the story of 2 unlikely friends, girls, who find themselves stranded in France when their plane crashes. They aren’t together. One has been snatched by the Nazis and the other is hiding in a barn with the help of the Resistance. One is apparently spilling all of the secrets while the other is trying to find her, rescue her, and get both of them back to England. The author makes a few leaps but doesn’t venture entirely into the improbable. This is fiction, and in my opinion, allowed for the sake of the story. I’m giving it 5 stars.

Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare – I borrowed this as an e-book from the BPL. This was one that I recommended. It is Dark Artifices #2. This author has an incredible imagination. The original series was Harry Potter fan fiction (supposedly), but this has totally taken on a life of its own. Read Lady Midnight and then read this. I have no way to describe this without giving spoilers. This ends on such a cliff hanger that I didn’t even know what to do with myself afterward. It rips your heart out. And then stomps on it for a bit. And then rolls it around in the dirt. And then you wonder what went so horribly wrong. If you need happy endings and it bothers you when the main characters are all slaughtered at the end like something out of a George R.R. Martin, this is not for you. None of this author’s books are for you. I am anxiously waiting for the author to please write another. I’m giving it 4 stars.

Morningstar : Growing Up with Books by Ann Hood – I received this as an actual book in a Goodreads giveaway. This is a book about books. It’s an author’s memoir of reading. She tells about all of the books that lead her through childhood and into the adult she eventually became. She picks topics that the books helped to guide her through and books that really resonated with her at the times when she read them. I thought it was really interesting. She picks some books that would not have been obvious choices and I admire her for that. She is clearly someone who values all books for whatever they imprint on the reader. It’s really short and if you like books about books, I definitely recommend it. I’m giving it 3 stars.

You can probably guess which of these didn’t make me cry. So much for keeping secrets.

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Week 26 – 2017

I hope you are all enjoying whatever it is you do when the weather is nice. I’m still trying to force myself to be productive. If anyone wants to come clean my apartment, let me know, lol. Just kidding. No one will ever volunteer for that. So Week 26 starts on June 26th, which is fitting, and goes to July 2nd. As always, feedback is appreciated.

Girl in Snow by Danya Kukafka – I received this as an e-book from the publisher via NetGalley. Absolutely stunning. And this is a debut novel from a young author. I never would have guessed the ending, which is the best, in my opinion. I could not put this down. I keep blaming the weather for my tiredness, but it’s really this book. Nothing could convince me to go to bed yesterday before finishing. I highly recommend it. I’m giving this 5 bright, shiny stars.

Lady Cop Makes Trouble by Amy Stewart – I borrowed this as an e-book from the Boston Public Library. This is Kopp Sisters #2. I received the 3rd on in a Goodreads giveaway, so obviously I needed to read this one first. I really like these. I was first interested because of the cover of the first one and the title. They continue to be outstanding. In this one, Constance is the women’s jail warden and she needs to find a criminal that escaped on her watch. I thought it was great. I’m giving it 4 stars.

We Are Never Meeting in Real Life. by Samantha Irby – I borrowed this as an e-book from the BPL. This was something I recommended and they put me on the waitlist when it was purchased. Because obviously this cover. And the title. This is essays by a blogger and she’s really very funny. She talks about relationships and her cat, who she has imagined conversations with. She talks about being fat and how much the cat hates her and not being a kid person. I thought it was great. It’s totally relateable, which is sadly not a real word. It spoke to me. I got it. I’m giving it 4 stars.

Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire – I borrowed this as an e-book from the BPL. I’m not sure what I thought this was about, but I didn’t expect it to be a romance novel, which essentially it is. One that everyone on the planet has read because it surfaces everywhere. It totally sucked me in and I read half of it in one sitting. I was late going to a friend’s house (where we promptly did nothing) because of this book. Even if you’re not normally into romance novels, I definitely recommend this. It’s well written, there’s an actual story, and it flows really well. I’m giving it 4 stars.

And that’s it for Week 26. Let me know if you have any opinions or any suggestions as to what I should read next.

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Week 25 – 2017

Hi All! I am getting really close to being caught up and I am super excited. So Week 25 covers June 19 – 25. As always, feedback is encouraged.

Swing Time by Zadie Smith – I borrowed this as an e-book from the Boston Public Library. I sort of love this author but her books are incredibly deep. The title refers to a Fred Astaire movie in which some of the characters appear in blackface. It’s sort of indicative of themes within the novel. It’s the story of dance and race and a bit of prejudice. I can’t really do this one justice. Even the blurb about it on Goodreads is not that great at giving an idea of what this is about. You’ll just have to read it. I’m giving it 4 stars.

Geekerella by Ashley Poston – I received this as an actual book via a Book Riot giveaway. I thought this book was great. It’s a fangirl retelling of Cinderella. As in, the main character, Elle, is a super fan of a (fictional) TV series about outer space. When a new movie is being made with a new cast, she writes a post on her blog speculating about the actor that was cast as the lead. Then, of course, she decides to enter the costume contest at the nearby con. The other narrator in the book is the actor playing the lead in the new movie. When he tries to text the person running the con, he ends up with Elle instead. Of course neither knows who they are texting and becoming friends with. I’m not describing this well. You know how Cinderella goes. This is probably closer to the Ever After movie version (which I love), but modern and with geeks. I’m a little sad that I finished it, actually. I really liked it. I’m giving it 5 stars.

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin – I borrowed this as an e-book from the BPL. This was really interesting.I’d categorize it as fantasy. The main character is an ambassador from Earth who arrives on Winter where the people are genderless. It is an interesting concept. Of course, these people of Winter are afraid of the first emissary from planet Earth (Genly) and they cause assorted problems for the Genly and the people who try to help him and assert his agenda which is to bring Winter into an alliance with other planets. This is the story of friendship, ultimately. I enjoyed it. Le Guin has an amazing imagination. I’m giving it 4 stars.

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid – I received this as an actual book in a Goodreads giveaway. This is a really interesting take on migration. The main characters are living in a country that is at war. It is also a love story. There is also a hint of fantasy to it. Doors to other places begin appearing and people begin moving through them, not just from poor or war riddled nations, but also from nice places to other nice places. Entire communities of refugees begin to develop in some of the better places in the world. People encounter others and begin relationships that would never have been possible otherwise. Some people stick to their original culture while others explore new things and develop new aspects of their personalities. Late in the book, the author comments on what it means to be a native and how long a person’s ancestors would have had to reside in a country to be considered a native. I thought it was extremely intuitive and while the story itself wasn’t overly gripping, the author’s message was well thought out and very interesting. I’m giving it 4 stars.

The Other Girl by Erica Spindler – I received this as an e-book from the publisher via NetGalley. This one is really good. I couldn’t put it down. It definitely took way less than a day to read it. I had to force myself to stop periodically so that I could accomplish other things, but it was definitely a struggle. If all books were like this, I’d probably starve because no way would I ever leave my apartment. In this, Miranda is a cop in a small town and her past is about to come back to haunt her. A beloved professor is found murdered in a rather unsavory manner and the clues are pointing to Miranda as the murderer. I hope that doesn’t give too much away. It is so gripping. I recommend this to anyone that enjoys a good mystery. It gets extra points because I didn’t figure it out until the main character did. I’m giving it 5 stars.

This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Díaz – I borrowed this as an e-book from the BPL. If you go into this thinking that each chapter is a short story collection of sorts, I think it will make more sense to you. This didn’t really flow for me until I started treating the chapters as separate entities. There is some overlap of characters from The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. I don’t know if this is meant to be autobiographical, but the pictures of the author suggest there is no way he gets this much game. Appearances can be deceiving, however, so who knows. I guess the real point here is that Yunior seems like a real person, which I suppose is a narrative feat in its own right. Especially if the author flat out made this dude up out of his imagination. I’m giving it 3 stars.

Thankfully, that was the last one. How did I finish this many books in a week? Some of these really sucked me in, though so I do get it. Others were nearly finished before the week began. As always, if you have any suggestions, let me know. I look forward to hearing from you.

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Week 23 and 24 – 2017

I just finished a second book in a row that made me cry. That’s my intro today and I’m going with it. I love a book that sucks you in to a point where you are emotionally invested in the characters and what happens to them in the narrative. If you know what I mean by this, let me know what books affected you in this way. In the meantime, I’m going to get on with the Week 23 blog post, which covers June 5 – 11. And apparently I only finished 1 book that week, so we might as well do Week 24 as well, which covers June 12 – 18.

Week 23

Two Nights by Kathy Reichs – I received this as an e-book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is a stand alone novel from the author of the Bones series. I thought it was really good. Actually. I sort of hope that she turns it into a new series because I really loved these characters. Sunday Night is former law enforcement how is contacted by an eccentric old woman to track down the people that killed her daughter and grandson and kill them, in addition to finding her granddaughter who has been missing since the tragedy. Sunnie is a kick ass female heroine and a bit of a smart ass. I loved it. I would recommend this to anyone who likes thriller / mystery novels and / or strong female leads. Again, I hope this ends up being just the first in a series. I’m giving it 4 stars.

Week 24

Drowning Ruth by Christina Schwarz – I borrowed this as an e-book from the Boston Public Library. This was a book club book. I have no idea how we stumbled upon this one, but I am really glad that we did. This is basically the story of a woman who gives up everything to save her niece. That is an oversimplification, but you will get it when you read the book. It is funny and tragic and dark and all sorts of other good things that make it complex and entertaining. I’m giving it 5 stars.

The Kill by Émile Zola – I borrowed this as an e-book from the BPL. This is Les Rougon-Macquart #2. I haven’t read any of the others. I generally stay away from French books in translation, as I’d rather just read them in French, but it takes longer, and I can be quite lazy. Zola is the master of the story that haunts you long after you finish reading. The characters are terribly real and they tend to do awful things. I quite enjoyed this. I’m giving it 3 stars.

The Paris Spy by Susan Elia MacNeal – I received this as an e-book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is Maggie Hope #7. I think this may be the best one yet. And that says a lot, because the entire series is pretty great. In this, Maggie Hope is in Paris to find a missing operative and to hopefully track down her half sister who went missing when they were attempting to extract her. Sarah and Hugh are also working on their own objectives. Plus there is a mole that they need to uncover. Coco Chanel also makes an appearance and that part is especially realistic. The author clearly did her research there. For anyone that is excited to read this when it comes out, let me just tell you that you will not be disappointed. Also, this ends on quite a cliff hanger, so I am looking forward to seeing how Maggie gets herself out of the next mess she has found herself in. I’m giving this 5 stars.

And that’s it for Weeks 23 and 24. As always, feedback is encouraged. I truly enjoy hearing from all of you, so please don’t be shy.

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Week 22 – 2017

Did anyone else have a totally crazy week? I am glad that Saturday is here. Working a full week is going to be brutal next week. Possibly. Anyway, I’m back to being behind schedule, so I’m going to jump right in. Week 22 covers May 29 – June 4. As always, feedback is greatly appreciated.

I’ll Eat When I’m Dead by Barbara Bourland – I borrowed this as an e-book from the Boston Public Library. This is one that I recommended to the library. Between the cover and the title, it’s obvious why I was interested in this one. I really liked it. It’s a mystery of sorts. A magazine editor is found dead in a locked room and the cause of death is listed as starvation. Her best friends work to find out what actually happened, while also living their own glamorous lives. The ending is a bit weird, but it’s highly entertaining and I definitely recommend it. I’m giving it 4 stars.

Portrait of a Spy by Daniel Silva – I won this as an audiobook in a Kindles & Wine giveaway. I have an audiobook CD of this book and it took me forever to read. It doesn’t help that I bought a new car that doesn’t have a CD player. This is not one of my most favored genres, the spy novel, but it was well written. Simon Vance is an incredible narrator. If you like spy novels, I definitely recommend this. I’m giving it 3 stars.

Madame Zero by Sarah Hall – I received this as an actual book in a Goodreads Giveaway. I really liked this volume of short stories. Each one is a single serving of entertainment. I had actually already read one of these because it was included in Reader, I Married Him: Stories Inspired by Jane EyreReader, I Married Him: Stories Inspired by Jane Eyre. If you enjoy short stories, I would definitely recommend this to you. I’m giving it 4 stars.

Here Comes the Sun by Nicole Y. Dennis-Benn – I borrowed this as an e-book from the BPL. This book is set in Jamaica and that is where the author is from. It shows what life is like for the people that actually live in Jamaica and work in the tourist industry. It also tells the tale of what it’s like to have nothing and have a desire to fit in with the world around you. Two of the main characters are in a lesbian relationship. The youngest is in a private school and desperate to fit in with her rich and lighter skinned classmates. The mother sort of does what she can to get by even if that isn’t necessarily the best way to go about things. I thought it was good. I like learning about different cultures and circumstances. Ultimately, I’m giving this 3 stars.

The Prague Sonata by Bradford Morrow – I received this as an e-book from the publisher via NetGalley. I thought this book was excellent. The story is intriguing. It’s well written. It takes place mostly in Prague, which I love. This is the story of a sonata that was divided into three parts during World War II, the people who had the three parts, and the musicologist that is tasked with bringing them back together. I love novels like this where there is historical fiction and some sort of mystery in the present that needs to be solved. I definitely recommend this. I’m giving it 4 stars.

The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America by Douglas Brinkley – I borrowed this as an e-book from the BPL. I actually had to borrow it more than once. This is quite a tome. If you’re interested in Theodore Roosevelt (doesn’t like to be called Teddy, it seems), then definitely read this. It concentrates mostly on the establishment of national parks. It also helped me to understand executive orders and the fact that we as Americans are entrusting one elected official to sometimes make decisions on our behalf without the consensus of any other part of the government involved. It seems like we put an awful lot of trust in one person. I understand why this is important but it is also a bit alarming at the same time. I’m giving this 3 stars.

And that is it. Finally. This is why some of the previous weeks were a bit thin. As always, let me know what you think or if you have any recommendations or books you would be interested in getting my opinion about. While I try not to give away endings, I try to be really honest about my opinions.

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