Week 11 – 2017

I’m absurdly busy lately. Work is totally bonkers. People are annoying. So I’m taking a break because technically it is lunch time.

Week 11 covers March 13 – 19. I must have been hibernating this week. There are all sorts of books that got finished.

The Light Between Oceans by ML Stedman – I borrowed this as an e-book from the Boston Public Library. This was a book club pick. I loved it. I thought it was great. The moral dilemma faced by the husband is really the most compelling part of this story. I’m giving it 4 stars.

B Is for Beer by Tom Robbins – I borrowed this as an e-book from the BPL. It is an incredibly fast read. It is very funny and highly entertaining. It’s impossible to describe this author unless you are already familiar with his books. He’s absolutely insane. Clearly. I love it. I’m giving this one 4 stars.

Leviathan by Scott Westerfield – I borrowed this as an audiobook from the BPL. This is Leviathan #1. This was read by Alan Cumming. I feel like if every audiobook were read by men with British accents, I’d go through a whole lot more of them. This book is highly entertaining in its own right. The audiobook just enhances the awesomeness. I’m giving it 4 stars.

Eleanor by Jason Gurley – I received this as an e-book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an excellent book about how one event can change everything. It took me a while because I kept hitting sad parts and I had to put it down. It is also fantasy and some of the settings are inside dreams. It’s about how Agnes’ mother disappeared when she was a small child and how everything spiraled out of control from that point forward. How do you help someone that has never been happy? Someone that has been sad since before you were ever born? I don’t want to give anything away. You’ll just have to read it and find out for yourself what a great and creative story this is. I’m giving this 4 stars.

Zombies vs. Unicorns by Holly Black et al. – I borrowed this as an e-book from the BPL. I needed a title that started with a z and this was the only thing on my TBR that fit the profile. That’s how it went down. That being said, I truly enjoyed this. It is a bunch of popular YA fantasy writers going back and forth with zombie and unicorn stories. Some have both. The editors (YA authors themselves) bicker between chapters about which is better. There’s something Mystery Science Theater about it that I can’t quite put my finger on. It’s quite awesome. I’m giving it 4 stars.

The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff – I received this from the publisher as an e-book via NetGalley. This is historical fiction at its best. The author takes research about real people’s lives and turns it into a fictional story. I read this really quickly because the story just flows. You feel compelled to find out what will happen to the characters. The story centers around Noa, a young Dutch girl that is thrown out of her house after she becomes pregnant with a German officer’s child, and Astrid, who is a Jewish woman forced to divorce her German officer husband. Both begin the story being betrayed by their loved ones. Noa rescues a baby from a train and is found by a circus where Astrid is also hiding. It seems a bit improbable, but apparently there were circuses sheltering Jews during WWII. I like that they are all fictional characters but that their stories are loosely based on people who did actually exist. I definitely recommend this. It’s a great story and it is well written. I’m giving it 5 stars.

As always, feedback is encouraged. Let me know if you have any books you’d like my opinion about or if you can think of any I might really like.

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Week 10 – 2017

And this is how we get behind…. I haven’t posted in a couple of weeks, because I’m extremely busy. May is going to be insane. Let’s just do this. Week 10 covers March 6 – 12.

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson – I borrowed this as an e-book from the Boston Public Library. This was a book club pick. This is an incredibly wonderful story about overcoming prejudice in a small town. There is a reason that everyone talks about this book. It’s amazing. I’m giving it 4 stars.

A Brief History of Montmaray by Michelle Cooper – I borrowed this as an e-book from the BPL. This is Montmaray Journals #1. I thought this was good. It is certainly entertaining.I found it compelling enough to add the next one to my wish list. I’m giving it 3 stars.

A Certain Age by Beatriz Williams – I received this as an actual book from a Goodreads giveaway. I wish I had known at the start that the plot for this novel is based on an opera by Strauss. I feel like that may have further enhanced my experience (and perhaps made me read it more rapidly). It is about the struggle between old and new. In the author’s own words, “the angsty rivalry between a beautiful young ingenue and a lady of a certain age.” If google doesn’t think angsty is a word, it needs to get with it (it’s telling me I have a spelling error). This is the second novel I have read by the author (The Secret Life of Violet Grant is the other) and I look forward to reading her others. I definitely recommend this. I’m giving it 4 stars.

The Witch’s Daughter by Paula Brackston – I borrowed this as an e-book from the BPL. This is Shadow Chronicles #1. I REALLY wanted to like this. And I did. Sort of. I’m not sure I want to read the next one, which is rare. I’m giving it 3 stars.

Yay! I’m done. Sorry. It’s been a long day. It may seem like this was short, but it sort of took 5 hours with interruptions. As always, feedback is encouraged. I love to hear from you.

 

 

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Week 9 – 2017

Happy Day after Easter! And Patriot’s Day! Marathon Monday! Woo! I know you’re pumped. Week 9 covers February 27 – March 5. I’ll just get on with it. As always, comments and other feedback are greatly encouraged.

Flight of Dreams by Ariel Lawhon – I borrowed this as an e-book from the Boston Public Library. This is a fictionalized account of what happened aboard the Hindenburg on its last, doomed voyage. As the author notes, these are real people, so she did not change their fates. The rest of the story and interactions between the passengers is entirely made up. It’s probably way more entertaining than what actually went on. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I’m giving it 4 stars.

The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett – I borrowed this as an audiobook from the BPL. This is Discworld #30 and Tiffany Aching #1. This is YA fantasy. It’s pretty great. I’m always sad when I finish these now that the author has died. There will never be any more once I read them all. I feel this way about several authors, actually. In this one, Tiffany wants to be a witch and she has to save her brother. This is totally girl power. If you know any pre-teens (showing my age there, but I always feel like a total turkey when I use the word tween), then you should definitely buy this for them. In any format. I’m giving it 4 stars.

The Woman Who Stole My Life by Marian Keyes – I borrowed this as an e-book from the BPL. I’m totally biased. I absolutely love this author. I would read anything that she wrote. If this woman wrote the history of baseball, I would read it. I hate baseball. Like really hate it (oddly, do not mind going to games). That’s how much I love this author. Not that she’d ever write about baseball (most obviously because she’s Irish among other things), but you get it. If you need a synopsis, like you don’t just blindly trust me or something, go here. I’m giving it 4 stars.

That’s it. I highly recommend all of these books, depending on your taste. I, of course, like just about anything (other than baseball). If you have any suggestions, as always, let me know.

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Week 8 – 2017

I have a serious reading hangover. I finished 4 books this weekend. I’m taking a break to watch Batteries Not Included. I love this movie. I haven’t seen it in years. Week 8 covers February 20 – 26. As always, feedback is encouraged.

Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick – I borrowed this as an audiobook from the Boston Public Library. This author’s books all seem to deal with mental illness. Apparently I read another of his books almost exactly a year previously, Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock. This is quite good, however, it took me a while not to feel like the narrator was pretty annoying. I did enjoy it overall. I’m giving it 3 stars.

Swamplandia! by Karen Russell – I borrowed this as an e-book from the BPL. This one deals with some tough subjects and is not for the feint of heart. In a way, it reminds me of Salvage the Bones. In this one, a gator wrestling theme park is struggling to survive after its lead performer has died. The family is quickly spiraling out of control when a new park opens nearby. The brother leaves, the father heads to the mainland, the sister has an affair with a ghost and runs off with him to commit suicide, and the narrator goes off in the swamp with a seriously shady dude. To see how it all turns out, you will have to read it. I’m giving it 4 stars.

 

Soulless by Gail Carriger – I borrowed this as an e-book from the BPL. This is Parasol Protectorate #1. The book opens with Alexia being attacked by a vampire. Thankfully, she is more than capable of protecting herself. The leader of the werewolves comes to investigate. If you like books about vampires and werewolves, I definitely recommend this. Actually, I just borrowed the second in the series because talking about it made me want to read the next one. I’m giving it 4 stars.

Island by Aldous Huxley – I borrowed this as an e-book from the BPL. This kept appearing on lists of dystopian fiction. It was interesting. It’s more or less a social commentary. Thankfully it wasn’t very long. I’m giving it 2 stars.

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman – I borrowed this as an e-book from the BPL. I was on hold and had to wait for this for a long time. It was well worth the wait. A little girl’s grandmother has died and as her last wish, she has to deliver her messages. Each letter leads Elsa to a new discovery and new friendships. This was excellent. I’m giving it 4 stars.

I nearly forgot to finish this post. Anyway, there it is. Let me know what you think or if there are any books that you recommend.

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Week 7- 2017

I’m just going to speed through this one. If I’m going too fast, tell me to slow down. Just kidding, but feedback is encouraged. Week 7 covers February 13 – 19. And I probably read a lot, because I live in Boston and there is no sense in leaving the house in February.

The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen – I borrowed this as an e-book from the Boston Public Library. This is Queen of the Tearling #1 (shocking). All jokes aside. I really enjoyed this book. It’s fantasy (obvs. the girl has super powers). There is a summary here. I just put a hold on the second in the series. I’m hopeful that this is the new thing. Like when I was pumped about Graceling. Apparently I like fantasy book series. Who knew? I’m giving this 4 stars.

The Adventures of John Carson in Several Quarters of the World by Brian Doyle – I received this as an actual book from the BPL. This was definitely entertaining. This is a story within a story. The narrator is Robert Louis Stevenson and he recounts the stories as told to him by the people he meets in San Francisco where he was living briefly, waiting for Fanny’s divorce to be finalized. The author takes real people and uses source material to create the story. It’s an interesting concept and the author’s ability to channel RLS, even down to his narrative style is pretty impressive.I’m giving it 3 stars.

Behind Closed Doors by BA Paris – I borrowed this as an actual book from my friend Carol. She brought it to book club and I grabbed it, knowing that she really enjoyed it. Enjoyed is a weird concept in relation to this one. This is a psychological thriller. I read it within a day. It sucks you right in and spits you out the other end. I liked this book immensely. I could NOT put it down. I struggled to rate this. I’m giving it 4.5 stars. I never give anything half a star. I was really torn on this one.

The Girl Before by JP Delaney – I received this as an e-book from the publisher via NetGalley. I also found this one really hard to put down. I had to go to book club with a brain full of mush after reading the 2 of these in a row. Here’s my original review. This is a really good psychological thriller. It tells the story of 2 women, Emma is telling her story from the past (mostly because she is dead) and Jane who has her own set of issues and becomes obsessed with finding out what exactly happened to Emma. Both of these women are at a point in their lives where living in an austere house with a million rules to follow has an appeal. Emma because she has experienced a robbery and the security of the house appeals to her, and Jane because her daughter was stillborn and needs to begin her life again. Finding out what actually happened to Emma is central to the story and it becomes a sort of cautionary tale for Jane who intends to avoid the mistakes that led to Emma’s death. The story really draws the reader in and all of the twists and turns lead to a great story. I definitely recommend it. This one’s getting 4 stars. Oh and if you told me this was JK Rowling, I would not even pretend to be surprised. That’s the level we’re on with this one.

Only 4 books this week. Such a slacker…. If you have any comments or suggestions, please do not hesitate to let me know.

 

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Week 6 – 2017

I’m back already. I have a little down time, so I thought I’d take a crack at getting another one of these out. Week 6 covers February 6 – 12. The funny thing about this time of the day is that I type 3 sentences and then I get interrupted.

Bad Monkeys by Matt Ruff – I borrowed this as an e-book from the Boston Public Library. Frankly, this one was a bit weird. And I like weird, so I was entertained, and you may be too. But I’ll have a hard time explaining this book. So the Goodreads summary is here. I’m giving it 3 stars.

The Doors of Perception by Aldous Huxley – I borrowed this as an audiobook from the BPL. I know that I said the last one was weird, but this one is beyond fucking weird. So our pal Aldous goes on a mescaline trip and writes a journal about what happened. And calls it “fiction.” Right, Aldous. We believe you. It was ok. It was pretty short. I’m giving it 2 stars.

The Best of Adam Sharp by Graeme Simsion – I received this as an e-book from the publisher via NetGalley. I really like this author. Or I really liked The Rosie Project. This was good. A man approaching 50 reexamines a lost love from over 20 years previous. Adam took a job in Australia in his 20s and met and fell in love with a local actress. But probably only because he can play the piano. This is a love story and it questions everyone’s morals. It examines the question of how far you would let your spouse push you before you decided it was enough and you needed to leave. So this one is sort of about ending relationships. Rather than starting them. It’s well written and while the characters may not all be likable, they are realistic. I’m giving it 3 stars.

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly – I received this as an e-book from the publisher via NetGalley. This one took me a long time to read and I have no idea why, because it’s really quite good. I would read part and then set it aside and read other books, many of which weren’t nearly as good. One reason is that I felt this deserved my undivided attention. It just wasn’t that easy to follow if I put it on text to speech and let the Kindle read it to me. One of the more astonishing things about this book is that the events and some of the characters are real. Caroline is a New York socialite (real person) who is dedicated to charity causes, like French orphans. Kasia is a Polish teen (fictional but based on an amalgamation of real people) who gets caught up in the Polish Resistance. Herta is a German doctor (real person) who is pushed into dermatology because she is female. The story is set up as a narrative from each woman’s perspective and how their lives all ultimately intersect. Oh and there’s a fake made up love story for Caroline that sort of detracts from the main story. I think this could have been better if the Caroline story had focused more on her girl power. I think women need more examples of women who succeeded in their goals without their lives having to revolve around love and men. I do definitely recommend this because it’s really very good. I’m giving it 4 stars.

The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin – I borrowed this as an e-book from the BPL. It is Remembrance of Earth’s Past #1. This is one of those books that everyone else thinks is great. Everyone else. I like fantasy and sci-fi and I can definitely be up for some really weird shit sometimes. But this. This was not for me. I’m giving it 2 stars.

I don’t know if I was cranky during Week 6 or if I was just making some really poor decisions, but this is how it all went down. Let me know what you think. Feedback is definitely encouraged.

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Week 5 – 2017

I have been absolutely devouring books so far this year. It’s bound to slow down, but it’s nice to be ahead of my Goodreads goal. Week 5 covers January 30 – February 5. As always, feedback is encouraged.

Love Anthony by Lisa Genova – I borrowed this as an actual book from the Boston Public Library. It was a book club pick. I love this author. She has a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Harvard, so she is really great at explaining the medical conditions in her novels. She’s also a local, having grown up in MA. Her bio lists her as happily divorced, which I find pretty amusing. I feel like I learn something whenever I read one of her books. This one is about an autistic boy who died and the mother that is trying to grieve and also to understand life from her little boy’s perspective. All of this takes place on Nantucket. A full summary is here. I’m giving it 5 stars.

All the Single Ladies by Rebecca Traister – I borrowed this as an e-book from the BPL. This is nonfiction. It looks at the fact that women are waiting longer to marry if at all and the impact it is having on American society. She looks at a wide array of subjects from across the socioeconomic spectrum. This kept making all of the feminist book lists following the women’s marches, and it has a snappy title, so I thought I’d give it a whirl. It’s well written and well researched. I’m giving it 4 stars.

Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman – I borrowed this as an audiobook from the BPL. Neil Gaiman is the narrator. If you follow this blog, you’ll already know that I will listen to anything narrated by Neil Gaiman. In this one, Odd encounters Odin, Thor, and Loki in their animal forms. Odd has to help them get back to their world and take it back from the frost giants. This is better if you know Norse Mythology pretty well, but an entirely enjoyable story all on its own. I’m giving it 4 stars.

The Pox Party by M.T. Anderson – I borrowed this as an e-book from the BPL. This is Octavian Nothing #1. This is another one that kept popping up in lists. This was a little hard to read. Basically it’s about a boy from Africa (the son of a princess) who ends up in the hands of a scientific association and they study him and do experiments. The titled pox party is an experiment to find an inoculation for small pox, basically by infecting them all and keeping them quarantined. Octavian escapes and since he is considered property a reward for his capture is offered. It’s all kind of horrible, but sadly based on events that could have plausibly occurred at that time period. I guess it shows what it’s like to have no freedom and no autonomy (those are sort of the same thing I realize, but subtly different enough to compel me to list them both). I’m giving it 3 stars.

For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund – I borrowed this as an e-book from the BPL. This is the first in a series. This is a retelling of Persuasion by Jane Austen (which I haven’t read so don’t expect me to compare them). This is dystopian science fiction. In this, we are shown what happens after GMOs and other technology have caused a mutation in the DNA of the majority of the population. The Luddites, who have shunned technology, are now running things. I’m not going to explain it all. Obviously there’s a love story and it’s complicated (Hello. Jane Austen.). It’s actually a really cute story and it’s highly entertaining and a quick read. I’m giving it 3 stars.

Is 5 books enough for 1 week? I think so. It’s seems to be the current average. Let me know what you think or if you have any suggestions.

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