Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Yellow BirdsThe Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I wish I liked this book more.  I thought the writing was stellar.  But I just didn't connect with the story.  I didn't feel anything for the characters, and didn't really understand the plot half the time.

This would be a great book for reading groups. I'm sure with careful study and discussion, there would be so much more to explore in this book - symbolism, character's motivations, etc.

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Monday, November 12, 2012

Enclave (Razorland, #1)Enclave by Ann Aguirre
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow - I really loved this book!  I've had several people recommend it, so even though I just finished another distopian book (The Dog Stars), I figured this would be different enough. The best part of waiting so long to read it?  I can go straight to the next book in the series!  Outpost is sitting here, ready to be read - yay!

I love strong female characters - Deuce has grown up preparing to be a Huntress.  She's strong and brave, but still tender.  She is partnered with Fade, a boy who is an "outsider" - not born in the enclave, but brought into it as a young boy.  Together, they fight the "freaks" and grow close, learning to depend on each other more than on those in charge of the enclave.

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Thursday, September 6, 2012

Tell The Wolves I'm HomeTell The Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A beautiful book on the surface about a young girl who has lost her beloved uncle to AIDS, and her growing friendship with his lover.  But with as much depth as this book has, it's hard to describe it that simply and do it any justice.  It's a coming-of-age, it's a romance, it's about two sisters finding their friendship again, it's about honoring a dying person's wishes.  It's about first love, and saying goodbye.  And doing bad things for the right reasons, and forgiveness.

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Saturday, September 1, 2012

A Monster CallsA Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is one of those rare books that not just pulls you in and brings so much emotion out, but is so beautifully written that you have to go slowly and savor each word.

Even now, a month after reading it, I still am haunted by it.  On the surface:  A young boy with a dying mother is visited by a monster who tells him stories.  On a deeper level, the monster serves to help him deal with the loss of his mother.  But there's even more than that.  It's a story about stories, about loss, about love, and relationships.

I will definitely read this one again - I will have a copy on my keeper shelf and share it with as many people as I can talk into reading it.

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Friday, January 27, 2012

It Takes a Witch (A Wishcraft Mystery, #1)It Takes a Witch by Heather Blake
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As a HUGE fan of the Lucy Valentine books, I was really excited to get my hands on this one!

And.... I liked it - a lot.  But I didn't love it like I love the Lucy Valentine series, so I felt disappointed.  And that's really not fair, because this was a very cute book and I really think the series has so much potential.  There are great characters, an AWESOME setting, and a really unique take on witchcraft.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Witches of East End (The Beauchamp Family, #1)Witches of East End by Melissa de la Cruz

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Despite lots of bad reviews, I decided to go ahead and read this, and I'm so glad I did!  I actually really enjoyed it.

Basically, three witches (a mother and two daughters) begin to use their magic (they'd been forbidden to practice since the Salem witch trials).  At the same time, strange things start to happen in their town, and they work together to solve the mysteries.

True, it could have been better - lots better.  The book was definitely short on details - I would have loved to hear more about their past, the ancient goings-on that led to the current situation, etc.  But for a short, easy read, it was good.

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Kabul Beauty School: An American Woman Goes Behind the VeilKabul Beauty School: An American Woman Goes Behind the Veil by Deborah Rodriguez
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

(This is the audio version)

I liked it - didn't love it.  The narrator was very good, but the story really dragged in some places.  And like others have said, it seemed out of chronological order, making it hard to follow.

Still, the stories were good and it does make you aware of the plight of Afghan women.

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Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Innocent (Vanessa Michael Munroe #2)The Innocent by Taylor Stevens
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Vanessa Michael Munroe is one of my favorite characters.  In The Informationist, she is hired to find a missing daughter.  In this book, she's again hired to find and extract a daughter, this time a young girl being hidden by The Chosen, a religious cult operating in Buenos Aires.

Again, she teams up with Miles Bradford and with her friend Logan and two others, travels to South America and infiltrates the cult.

I love the complexity of this character.  She grew up with missionaries but ended up living on her own, teaming up with some mercenaries.  There, she was trained to be a fighter, and she learned well.  She was also tortured on a regular basis by one of the men there - and who she eventually killed.  All this creates a fascinating character with unique skills.

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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

When She WokeWhen She Woke by Hillary Jordan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a very good book. As a retelling of The Scarlet Letter, it can't quite compete with the classic. Still, as a dystopian novel, it definitely has some very good things going for it. It's beautifully written, and Hannah is a haunting character.  Yes, some parts are a bit of a stretch but overall it's a good story.

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Monday, January 2, 2012

The Drop (Harry Bosch, #16)The Drop by Michael Connelly
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another terrific Harry Bosch novel!

I've been a fan of Michael Connelly since his 3rd book - I read the first three Bosch novels in a row and since then I've waited anxiously for each new book.  Harry Bosch is one of the best characters written - he's developed over the years, faced some of his own demons, and moved forward.  Now he's a single father of a 15 year old daughter, trying to balance work and family.

This book has him working two cases - a open-unsolved case involving the murder of a young girl and he's called in to investigate Irvin Irving's son's death.  If you've read the series, you will be familiar with the animosity between Bosch and Irving.  Irving has requested Bosch personally for the investigation, and Bosch is now in the middle of political "high jingo" which he doesn't like.  And the murder case leads him to a pedophile (and the psychiatrist who works with him).  Bosch has to work with both to get to the murderer.

Of course, both cases are solved, but not without some personal torment and loss.  Still, Bosch stays true to his convictions, even though he questions them.  I think that's why I love this character and these books - there's much more depth than just solving the crime.

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Thursday, December 29, 2011

11/22/6311/22/63 by Stephen King

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Absolutely fantastic!!!  Be prepared to be sucked in for a while with this one - it's long and involved, but well-worth the time.

Jake is shown a way to travel to the past and encouraged to do something huge - prevent Kennedy's assassination.  Since he can only travel back to 1958, he spends the time between then and 1963 building a life that has more value to him then the one he left.  But - here's the rub - he will HAVE to travel back to present time once he stops the assassination to make sure everything's ok.  Once he does that, he can't go back.

Stephen King is one of the best wordsmiths there is.  While some of his books are definitely better than others, they are all great, in my opinion.  This one stands at the top of the list though - one of my favorite King books has always been It (and yay! some It characters make a showing in this book!).  11/22/63 comes close to taking over the top spot (and only doesn't because I just LOVE when King gets truly creepy).

I give this one all 5 stars without hesitation.

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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Emory's Gift

Emory's GiftEmory's Gift by W. Bruce Cameron

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is such a gem!!  It's heart-warming and thought-provoking.  Charlie is an 8th grade boy who has lost his mother, has trouble relating to his father, and is trying to find his social place at school.  Things are not happy for him, and then he sees a grizzly bear in the wild - and somehow they connect.  The grizzly comes home with him and stays in his barn - and apparently is a reincarnated Civil War soldier with a message.

Like his other book, A Dog's Purpose, Cameron has written a book with an animal as a main character - one who is more than "just" an animal.  Even though this book focuses mostly on Charlie, the magic of an animal being "more" is a big part of the novel, and is what makes both books so magical.

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Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Hour I First Believed

The Hour I First BelievedThe Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is another wonderful book by Wally Lamb.  I absolutely loved "I Know This Much Is True" but for some reason, I held off reading this for a long time!  Finally, I picked it up and was immediately engrossed in it.

In a nutshell:

When high school teacher Caelum Quirk and his wife, Maureen, move to Littleton, Colorado, they both get jobs at Columbine High School. In April 1999, while Caelum is away, Maureen finds herself in the library at Columbine, cowering in a cabinet and expecting to be killed. Miraculously, she survives. But when Caelum and Maureen flee to an illusion of safety on the Quirk family's Connecticut farm, they discover that the effects of chaos are not easily put right.

While Maureen fights to regain her sanity, Caelum discovers five generations' worth of diaries, letters, and newspaper clippings in his family's house. As unimaginable secrets emerge, Caelum grapples with the past and struggles to fashion a future from the ashes of tragedy. His quest for meaning is at once mythic and contemporary, personal and quintessentially American.

Expect to fall in love with the characters, flawed as they are, and expect to cry when you close the book.

This one joins his other books on my keeper shelf!

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Monday, August 29, 2011

Hush by Eishes Chayil

HushHush by Eishes Chayil

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a truly heart-rending story of a young girl living in a Chassidic Jewish community in New York who witnesses the molestation of her best friend at the hands of her friend's older brother. Gittel didn't understand what was happening, couldn't protect her friend, and when her friend, Devory, commits suicide, she is told to forget about her and everything that happened.

Told in alternating narratives from Gittel as a 9 year old and then as a young adult graduating high school and getting married, we see how the experience has haunted her and continues to affect her until she finally speaks out. Again and again and again until people finally start listening, believing, and acting on what she says.

Based on her own experiences, the author (who writes under the pseudonym Eishes Chayil) has shed light on an issue that has been so hushed up and ignored for so long in her community.

Highly recommend.

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Saturday, July 9, 2011

Smokin' Seventeen by Janet Evanovich

Smokin' Seventeen (Stephanie Plum, #17)Smokin' Seventeen by Janet Evanovich

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I loved this one!  I was disappointed with the last two books but I love Stephanie Plum so much, I read this as soon as I could get it - and it was so good!  Stephanie is cursed, her and Lula have the usual adventures, and there's still the Ranger/Morelli dilemma - but it seems a bit fresher than it has been in a while.  I hope this upswing continues with the next book!

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