Week 34 – 2017

Hello, All! Today is a lovely rainy day here in Boston. I hope wherever you are it is nicer. The good thing about the rain is that it is an excuse to stay inside and read. I have also been tasked with finally watching Jaws because it is now on Netflix. That doesn’t honestly sound that appealing, but I promised a friend that I would watch it. But maybe not this weekend. We’ll see. Week 33 covers August 21 – 27. This should further help to improve my NetGalley percentage. Hopefully. As always, I love to hear from you. Feedback of any sort is encouraged.

Her Darkest Nightmare by Brenda Novak – I borrowed this as an e-book from the Boston Public Library. This is Evelyn Talbot #1. I had read a prequel to this series previously and I thought it was quite good. This falls into that weird genre called Romantic Suspense. Basically it’s a thriller with romance. Evelyn was tortured and left for dead by her boyfriend as a teenager and grew up to be a criminal psychiatrist. She studies serial killers. And the prison she has established for that purpose is in a remote part of Alaska. I bet you can’t see anything going wrong there. There is a lot going on in this book. Her friends are turning up dead, the local cop would like to be romantically involved, one of her coworkers is out to discredit her, there is shady stuff going down at the prison, one of the inmates escapes, and there’s lots of snow. Do you think that’s enough? I bet I missed some things. I’m giving it 4 stars.

Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker – I received this as an e-book from the publisher via NetGalley. This one is really good. It isn’t creepy exactly, but it’s pretty twisty. Emma and Cass disappear and 3 years later, only Cass reappears. Cass tells the story of how they were taken away and kept isolated on an island with no contact other than a couple and their errand runner. How did Cass get away? Will Emma be there when they finally find the island? The FBI is on a search for the island, the couple, the boatman and Emma and Emma’s daughter. Will they find any of them? Is any of it real? Perhaps Cass is crazy like her mother suggests. I really liked this because I didn’t have it all figured out until the end. I definitely recommend it. I’m giving it 5 stars. 

Frenchman’s Creek by Daphne du Maurier – I borrowed this as an e-book from the BPL. I originally read this as a young teen. I think I know now where my fascination with pirates began. Bored with London society, Dona takes her children and flees to the manor house in the country. There are many oddities apparent when they arrive. Where are all the servants? Who has been sleeping in her bed? Where does the servant go in the middle of the night? Then she stumbles upon a pirate ship in the creek on the property and makes the acquaintance of the pirate captain. Adventure ensues. I may have enjoyed this more as an adult. I’m glad I decided to reread it. I rarely reread anything these days. I’m giving it 4 stars.

The Dream Keeper’s Daughter by Emily Colin – I received this as an e-book from the publisher via NetGalley. This was quite an interesting story and I liked it a lot. Isabel’s mother has been missing for six year and then the day after she tells her boyfriend Max that she is pregnant, he disappears as well. Eight years later, on an archaeological dig in Barbados, Isabel receives a call from Max and then starts having dreams about him and then she finds her mother’s necklace in the dig. But how could her mother have been in Barbados and especially in the 1800s. When she returns to South Carolina, her daughter also starts having strange dreams of her father. This is just the opening. I don’t want to give away spoilers. The story is compelling and the historical detail was very interesting. I found it compelling. If you can get your mind around the time travel aspect, or if that appeals to you anyway, I definitely recommend this book. I’m giving it 4 stars.

And that’s it for Week 34. It just occurred to me that this is Week 35 and I am finally caught up. Woot, Woot! I’m pretty pumped. Let me know what you think. I need to get back to reading or I’m only going to have 3 for the next post.

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Week 33 – 2017

Hello, Fellow Book Lovers! I hope you are all enjoying the weekend. I’m a little sad that summer is actually over, but only because time seems to pass too quickly. I do love the Fall. Week 33 covers August 14 – 20. As always, feedback is encouraged. I love it when you all reach out to me, even when you disagree.

I Know a Secret by Tess Gerritsen – I received this as an e-book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is Rizzoli & Isles #12. This latest installment in the Rizzoli and Isles series is really good. I love this series. The characters, at this point, are really well developed. The TV series of the same name has diverged from the book series, but I enjoy both of them a great deal in their own ways. In this latest book, people are being murdered in an unknown manner and only classified as murder because they are staged postmortem according to the death of the saints associated with their birth dates. Rizzoli struggles to find a connection between the victims and it finally leads back 20 years to the disappearance of a 9 year old girl. I’m going to stop there before I reveal too many spoilers. I thought the story was brilliantly weaved. I recommend the entire series and this one stands out as one of the best. I’m giving it 4 stars.

A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab – I borrowed this as an e-book from the Boston Public Library. This is Shades of Magic #2. This series is quite good. The author has quite an impressive imagination. These tell of different lands that exist in the same time and space, but are entirely different and only a skilled magician can move between them. In this installment, Lily as tricked her way onto a pirate ship and is making a name for herself among the crew. The captain is also teaching her magic. The princes, Rhy and Kell, are dealing with the consequences of their new bond and preparing for a magic tournament. It is all very exciting. It also ends on a cliffhanger, so you can be sure to see my take on the next book in the not too distant future. I’m giving this 4 stars.

The Stolen Marriage by Diane Chamberlain – I received this as an e-book from the publisher via NetGalley. This book was really hard to put down. Imagine making a mistake that changes your life completely. That is what happens in this book. Tess is on her dream path. She’s about to become a nurse and marry her childhood sweetheart and then everything becomes totally derailed and she ends up married to a stranger and living in a small town where everyone sees her as an interloper and gold digger. She nearly dies in the prologue, so I guess we know that she will ultimately persevere. I really liked this book and I am grateful to the friend that turned me onto this author. This definitely gets my recommendation. I’m giving this one 5 stars.

That is it for Week 33. It doesn’t seem like a lot to me and then I remember that normal people might read 3 books in an entire month. Let me know what you think or if I have convinced you to add any of these to your to read list.

 

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Week 32 – 2017

Greetings Book Lovers! Thank you for taking the time to read this. I appreciate all of you and I hope you are all well. I’m going to bounce right in. Week 32 covers August 7 – 13. Let me know what you think, as feedback is always appreciated.

The Last Days of Dogtown by Anita Diamant – I borrowed this as an e-book from the Boston Public Library. I found this appealing mostly because I know where it is. I have not been there. The idea of an abandoned town intrigues me. What happened to the people that lived there? Why did they leave? Did something catastrophic happen? What make a town just die? In this case, I just think it’s a place that isn’t that inhabitable. The land is rocky and it would probably take too much money and effort to change that, despite its proximity to Gloucester. In this novel, the author uses the legends associated with the town to create a story of the last people that were living there and how and why they may have left. I thought it was quite good. I’m giving it 4 stars.

The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne – I received this as an e-book from the publisher via NetGalley. This was an incredible story. This may be my new favorite for the year. I have read a couple of books by this author, but usually it’s YA fiction centered on WWII. His YA books are normally horrifying. This is adult fiction, so don’t expect him to hold anything back. This tells the story of Cyril and what it was like to grow up in Ireland as a homosexual. But it is also about the church being unforgiving and what popular opinion can do to someone’s reputation. It also deals with prejudice and so many other things. This story is really well written and it is compelling. I had a hard time putting it down. I was actually late to a party because I HAD to finish. I’m not going to give all of the details. This book will probably make you cry at least once. Regardless of that fact, I definitely recommend this one. I’m giving it 5 stars.

And that is it for Week 32.

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Week 31 – 2017

Starting over…. I’m going to be positive. I just bought a very expensive vacuum and gloated about it (and doing it again). Officially a grown-up. Weird. My TBR is sort of out of control, but I am trying to fix that. Unfortunately, I keep going for the books on my kindle instead of the actual books piled in stacks in my apartment. My mother was sort of horrified the last time she was here. At the same time, I bet she has even more books in her house. They are just not all in one place. Week 31 covers July 31 – August 6. Feedback will be cherished if you leave any. I’m going to try a new format. Let me know if you hate it.

The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee – I borrowed this as an e-book from the Boston Public Library. This was a book club pick. I loved it. No one else was able to follow it at all. I get that most people aren’t into opera and that the story does bounce back and forth between the past and the present. So this is about an opera star and it tells all about how she got there. It is set mostly in Paris during the Second Empire (Napoleon III for those of you that aren’t quite so nerdy about French history as I am). Lilliet is presented with a new opera, an original role, but when she reads it, realizes that it is based on her actual past and she needs to find out who revealed her secrets, ultimately leading her to find someone she assumed was dead. I loved it no matter what anyone else thought about it. I’m giving it 4 stars.

Backstrap by Johnnie Dun – I received this as an e-book from the publisher via NetGalley. I love shipping containers. It’s just one of those things. It’s all about math. They are pretty little boxes that you fill with other boxes and then you fit them all together on a boat and send them places. It’s like Legos with velocity as an actual grown up job. Someone actually pays me to do Geometry all day long. I love it. I requested this book on NetGalley because it had a shipping container on the cover. And then it turned out to be about a smuggling ring. The story was exciting and intriguing. Callie goes to Guatemala to find her friend Rachel and ends up in the middle of a drug and human smuggling operation (though it made the novel more exciting and allowed it to flow better, I’m pretty sure I’d never send both of these things together on one boat but I’m not actually a criminal, so who knows), which may cause harm to her family. It was really different from most of the books I read and I really liked it. You don’t have to be a logistics or shipping nut to enjoy it either, so don’t be put off by the geekiness of my review. There is little to no actual math in the book itself.

An aside, Hapag-Lloyd is mentioned (I hope the spelling was fixed in edit) and I happened to read that part on a day that I had spoken to someone from Hapag-Lloyd (my favorite steamship line) twice on the phone, and that almost never happens. It made me laugh.

I’m giving this one 4 stars.

The Last Days of Night by Graham Moore – I borrowed this as an e-book from the BPL. This is another book club pick. Different book club. I thought this was very informative and really well written, but also sort of dull. The only character that I really liked was Tesla. This is a novelization of the patent war between Edison and Westinghouse over the light bulb patent. Tesla and Bell are also characters in the novel as well as Westinghouse’s young lawyer and a young stage performer. I’m not entirely sure if those last 2 were real people or if the author made them up. I would Google it, except I don’t actually care. One thing I thought was excessively weird was that the author used quotes from modern technology innovators as the chapter headings. Quotes from Steve Jobs and Bill Gates and the like seemed out of place to me. But I get why the author did it. I’m giving it 3 stars.

 

Ghosts by Henrik Ibsen – I borrowed this as an audiobook from the BPL. This is a full play and it has a full cast reading.  This author was totally creepy. His plays, probably not the actual author. This was a guy before his time. In this, a mother is trying to make amends for her sexually depraved, deceased husband. She has spent the money intended for their son on building an orphanage. Which then burns to the ground after the local pastor (parson? minister? whatever) advises against insuring it, and may have actually set it on fire himself after hearing the depravities of the man it was named for. And that is just the surface of all of the things that happen in the play. It was good. It was a bit disturbing. I’m giving it 3 stars.

Genevieve’s War by Patricia Reilly Giff – I received this as an actual book in a Goodreads giveaway. This is supposedly a children’s book, middle grade or something of the sort. I loved this author when I was a child, so I requested it in a Goodreads giveaway. It is a wonderfully well written book with a great story and definitely the sort of book that children should be reading. It tells the story of Genevieve who gets trapped in Alsace with her grandmother as World War II is beginning and the Germans are about to reclaim Alsace as their own. Had I known this was about Alsace, I would have started this much earlier, as that was where I did study abroad in college. Gene helps her grandmother to take care of the farm and she helps her friends in the resistance, all under the nose of a German staying in their house. Gene makes some mistakes along the way but her bravery and perseverance are her best assets. I basically read this in one sitting. I definitely recommend this one, even to adults. I’m giving it 5 stars.

The Life She Was Given by Ellen Marie Wiseman – I received this as an e-book from the publisher via Netgalley. This book is absolutely stunning. This author just keeps getting better. This tells the story of Lilly who spent the first 10 years of her life locked in her parents’ attic. Her deeply religious mother calls her an abomination and there are no mirrors allowed in the attic, so Lilly doesn’t understand why this is the case. I was having flashbacks to reading Flowers in the Attic, which the author admits to being a fan of. One night, when her father is away, the mother sells Lilly to the circus. And you’ll have to read the book to find out what else happens. It also tells the story of Julia who has run away from Blackwood Manor (same house with the attic) and is struggling to make ends meet until a lawyer tracks her down and informs her that she has inherited Blackwood Manor upon the death of her mother. Julia returns to her childhood home and starts unraveling the mysteries contained within. There is also a strong theme about cruelty to animals which adds an extra layer to the novel, sort of filling it out. I thought this was truly wonderful and I cannot wait to see what this author comes up with next. I’m giving this 5 stars.

And that is it for Week 31. A couple of these were impossible to put down. Let me know what you think or if you have any suggestions as to what I should be reading next.

 

 

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Week 30 – 2017

Apparently, when you are busy for one weekend, it is easy to get behind schedule. I hope that you are all enjoying the summer! I know my mom friends are ready for fall. Week 30 covers July 24 – 30. I’m going to hop right in. Let me know what you think. Feedback, as always, is greatly encouraged.

Mrs. Sherlock Holmes by Brad Ricca – I borrowed this as an e-book from the Boston Public Library. This is non-fiction. I’m not sure I realized that when I requested it from the library. It tells of one of the first women lawyers in New York City. Through research and detective work, she solves many cases and rights many wrongs. When a young girl goes missing, the family requests her assistance. Unfortunately, the book isn’t just about that particular case, which is very interesting, but about the entire biography of this woman. It’s good and it’s interesting, but in my opinion, it’s too long and a lot of the material could have been eliminated. But that’s just my opinion. I’m giving it 3 stars.

White Trash Zombie Apocalypse by Diana Rowland – I borrowed this as an e-book from the BPL. This is White Trash Zombie #3. Sometimes you just need to read something for entertainment. I really enjoy this series. There is something about the main character that appeals to me. She may be white trash, and a zombie, but she’s making every effort to make the best of things and turn her “life” around. Before you judge, you should just read them. They are entertaining, there’s always some sort of mystery, and the writing is good. I’m giving this one 4 stars.

Good Me, Bad Me by Ali Land – I received this as an actual book in a Goodreads giveaway. This is a psychological thriller of the highest order. I couldn’t put it down once I started reading. Annie’s mother is a serial killer and after she turns her in, she is given a new identity and a foster family to look after her, while waiting for her mother’s trial, where she will be a witness. Bit by bit the story is revealed but Milly tries to keep her secrets safe from her psychiatrist foster father. The play within a play is Lord of the Flies which is an apt representation of the girls at school. Though I did find it weird that an all girls school would put on Lord of the Flies, as it is all boys in the novel, but the author’s reason became apparent. This book was excellent. I definitely recommend it. I’m giving it 5 stars.

That’s it for Week 30. As usual, my book selections are all over the place. If you have any comments or recommendations for future books, please don’t hesitate to leave a note. I love hearing from all of you.

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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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