Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Christmas Cottage/Ever After by Samantha Chase (Read 12/28/15 to 12/30/15)

This was a book I received in my December Lit-Cube Box.   The description is "THE CHRISTMAS COTTAGE:  Lacey Quinn does not believe in happily-ever-after or the legend of the Christmas Cottage. But her best friend does, and she’s the one getting married. It’s Lacey’s job to make sure everything at the cottage is perfect for the newlyweds. Instead, she finds herself snowed in with the best man, and she begins to wonder if fairy tales really can come true.
EVER AFTER:  Ava Callahan wants desperately to believe in love everlasting. But when Brian McCabe walks back into her life and upsets her carefully organized world, her commitment to perfection makes it hard to accept the love that’s right in front of her. Will it take a night in the Christmas Cottage for Ava and Brian to find their happy ending?"
I am not normally a romance reader, but it was christmas time and after the Fisherman I wanted something I knew would have a happy ending, and Romances have a formula that include a happy ending, so this was my next read.  This fit the bill pretty perfectly.  The two stories are intertwined, and flow together very nicely.I forget how perfect romance novels make love seem, that once in love all the troubles go away because love conquers all.  It was a nice change of pace.  Enjoyable and an easy read.

Monday, December 28, 2015

The Fishermen: A Novel by Chigozie Obioma (Read 12/20/15 to 12/28/2015)

This was a book I received in one of my Book Riot boxes. The description is "In a Nigerian town in the mid 1990's, four brothers encounter a madman whose mystic prophecy of violence threatens the core of their close-knit family.  Told from the point of view of nine year old Benjamin, the youngest of four brothers, The Fisherman is the Cain and Abel-esque story of an unforgettable childhood in 1990's Nigeria, in the small town of Akure. When their strict father has to travel to a distant city for work, the brothers take advantage of his extended absence to skip school and go fishing. At the ominous, forbidden nearby river, they meet a dangerous local madman who persuades the oldest of the boys that he is destined to be killed by one of his siblings.  What happens next is an almost mythic event whose impact-both tragic and redemptive-will transcend the lives and imaginations of its characters and its readers. Dazzling and viscerally powerful, The Fishermen never leaves Akure but the story it tells has enormous universal appeal. Seen through the prism of one family's destiny, this is an essential novel about Africa with all of its contradictions-economic, political, and religious-and the epic beauty of its own culture."
This book has a ton of great reviews about how magical the writing was and how profound the story was.  I found it depressing.  Their lives and what happened to the narrator at the age of 10 was depressing and awful.  I did not find it magical or enthralling.  I was not drawn to the characters or the story, I found myself forcing myself to finish it, telling myself that in the next chapter it would get better.  It didn't.  Obioma's writing was great, he was smooth and the story moved at a nice pace.  I just wasn't invested in the story.  I think I may have been in the wrong mood for the book, I wanted something with a happy ending and I didn't get it with this book.

A Few Seconds of Radiant Filmstrip: A Memoir of Seventh Grade by Kevin Brockmeier (Read 11/12/15 to 11/19/15)

 This was a book I received in one of my Book Riot boxes. The description is "At age twelve, Kevin Brockmeier is ready to become a different person: not the boy he has always been—the one who cries too easily and laughs too easily, who lives in an otherland of sparkling daydreams and imaginary catastrophes—but someone else altogether.  Over the course of one school year—seventh grade—he sets out in search of himself. Along the way, he happens into his first kiss at a church party, struggles to understand why his old friends tease him at the lunch table, becomes the talk of the entire school thanks to his Halloween costume, and booby-traps his lunch to deter a thief."
I really was not thrilled with this book.  The cruelty of the 7th grade boys hit a little too close to home for me I guess.  I found myself forcing myself to read and just hurry the f**k through.  The problem wasn't the writing, he had great writing, it was the storyline.  I felt too much like the bullying I experienced in 7th grade and I didn't want to relive those feeling through another character, my experiences were enough.  I did force my self to finish, and the ending was a little better than the beginning.  Junior High is a rough time, and this reminded me just how much.  I suppose it is a credit to Brockmeier that his writing did resurface so many memories.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson (Read 12/6/15 to 12/22/2015)

This was the BOTM selection for December. The description is "A reluctant centenarian much like Forrest Gump (if Gump were an explosives expert with a fondness for vodka) decides it's not too late to start over.  After a long and eventful life, Allan Karlsson ends up in a nursing home, believing it to be his last stop. The only problem is that he's still in good health, and in one day, he turns 100. A big celebration is in the works, but Allan really isn't interested (and he'd like a bit more control over his vodka consumption). So he decides to escape. He climbs out the window in his slippers and embarks on a hilarious and entirely unexpected journey, involving, among other surprises, a suitcase stuffed with cash, some unpleasant criminals, a friendly hot-dog stand operator, and an elephant (not to mention a death by elephant).  It would be the adventure of a lifetime for anyone else, but Allan has a larger-than-life backstory: Not only has he witnessed some of the most important events of the twentieth century, but he has actually played a key role in them. Starting out in munitions as a boy, he somehow finds himself involved in many of the key explosions of the twentieth century and travels the world, sharing meals and more with everyone from Stalin, Churchill, and Truman to Mao, Franco, and de Gaulle."
I did the audiobook version for this month's read, audiobooks are harder for me to focus on, and I find myself re-listening to large chunks because I loose focus and miss stuff.  I like all the characters, they are all screwy and screwed up, in some ways they remind me the Royal Tenenbaums.  Their background stories make me chuckle.  Overall I would say that it was 3 star.  It was chuckle worthy and entertaining, but I wasn't ready to rush out and recommend this book to everyone I know.  It ran a little long, and wrapped up a little too nicely.  But if you want a light, laughable book this one fits the bill rather nicely.

Friday, December 25, 2015

The Fangirl's Guide to the Galaxy: A Handbook for Girl Geeks by Sam Maggs (Read 12/6/15 to 12/20/15)

This was a gift from my husband.  The description is "Fanfic, cosplay, cons, books, memes, podcasts, vlogs, OTPs and RPGs and MMOs and more—it’s never been a better time to be a girl geek. The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy is the ultimate handbook for ladies living the nerdy life, a fun and feminist take on the often male-dominated world of geekdom. With delightful illustrations and an unabashed love for all the in(ternet)s and outs of geek culture, this book is packed with tips, playthroughs, and cheat codes.  Plus, insightful interviews with fangirl faves, like Jane Espenson, Erin Morgenstern, Kate Beaton, Ashley Eckstein, Laura Vandervoort, Beth Revis, Kate Leth, and many others."
This was a fun and entertaining read.  It had a lot of great geeky resources and gave me some ideas of books/comics/shows to read/watch.  It also gave me some great resources for Cons (I have never been to one, but I know my Hubby likes them).  I may attempt one in the future with him at my side.  It was an informative read.  I liked the layout and the interviews.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Royal Progress by Pen Fairchild (Read 12/14/15 to 12/16/15)

This was a early reviewer selection.  The description is "Somewhere in space, in the last domain, 743 years from now... A princess dreams of a different reality. Her name is Bettina – ‘Bettie’ to her friends – and she thinks that anything would be better than her position as the spare behind a very irritating heir. She’s wrong.  Even princesses must grow up, but Bettie never expected to have to do it on the run. Not that it’s all negative, but can learning who your friends are when the chips are down offset the risk of beheading at the hands of a ruthless tyrant? Can growing stronger neutralize a close call with sex slavery? Can finding true love compensate for devastating betrayal? Can learning what went wrong in the Outlands help you save your “designed to be perfect” domain? Can the boy you loved, the boy you love, and the boy who loves you most of all work together with you to save your world?"
First of all I started with the Prequel which is on smash words for free, and it set things up nicelyI felt.  It really let me know what I was in for.
As for Royal Progress itself, I really liked it.  The characters were relatable and engaging, they made me want to know what happens.  I'm a little disappointed I need to wait for the next book.  Fairchild's writing is very smooth and simple, but also allows the characters to grow and evolve.  The Bettie at the start of the book is nothing like the Bettie at the end of the book.  I think it will be a great series with a lot of potential.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Naked in Death (In Death Series #1) by JD Robb (i.e. Nora Roberts) (Read 12/8/15 to 12/10/15)

This is NNCC book for January. The description is "Eve Dallas is a New York police lieutenant hunting for a ruthless killer. In over ten years on the force, she's seen it all--and knows her survival depends on her instincts. And she's going against every warning telling her not to get involved with Roarke, an Irish billionaire--and a suspect in Eve's murder investigation. But passion and seduction have rules of their own, and it's up to Eve to take a chance in the arms of a man she knows nothing about--except the addictive hunger of needing his touch."
This was really good.  You can tell Robb, i.e. Roberts, has a lot of writing skills under her belt. I could tell it was a romance, but there is enough mystery, action, and sic-fi to make me immediately check my library for the whole series, which they don't have, but you can bet I requested.  The romance storyline is not obnoxious and the crime parts of the story are very well written, and she did a good job of keeping me guessing on who the murder was.  I really liked it.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Half-Resurrection Blues: A Bone Street Rumba Novel by Daniel José Older (Read 11/11/15 to 11/12/15)

This was a book I received in one of my Book Riot boxes.  The description is "Carlos Delacruz is one of the New York Council of the Dead’s most unusual agents—an inbetweener, partially resurrected from a death he barely recalls suffering, after a life that’s missing from his memory. He thinks he is one of a kind—until he encounters other entities walking the fine line between life and death.   One inbetweener is a sorcerer. He’s summoned a horde of implike ngks capable of eliminating spirits, and they’re spreading through the city like a plague. They’ve already taken out some of NYCOD’s finest, leaving Carlos desperate to stop their master before he opens up the entrada to the Underworld—which would destroy the balance between the living and the dead.  But in uncovering this man’s identity, Carlos confronts the truth of his own life—and death.…"
I really liked this book, in fact about halfway through the I pre-ordered the second book from, which is coming out in January!  Carlos reminded me of a wonderful mix of Odd Thomas and Harry Dresden.  So good!  The bad guys seemed a little day to defeat and I didn't really care for the ending, but I saw it coming.   My only other comment is that sometimes the language felt a little rough, it just didn't have a smoothness to it I was expecting, and the storyline jumped around some.  Thankfully this is a series so there is a chance the next one can do it a little better.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant (Read 11/3/15 to 11/25/15)

This is BOTM for November.  This is the story of Dinah, daughter of Jacob and sister of Joseph from the bible. This was told from Dinah's point of view, and it tells of her many brothers and her father's journey from Paddan Aram to Canaan,  and eventually Shechem and the events surrounding her rape.
I really enjoyed this book.  Diamant's writing was smooth and really drew me into the story.  It was a wonderful perspective from the women's side of things, and I really had a hard time putting it down.
Diamant's writing was so enthralling, she was really able to draw me into the characters lives, I was very invested in what happened both to them and with them.  I NEEDED to know how they were going to evolve to meet the needs of the bible story and how the bible story was the bare bones and not the whole truth.The book made me sad in so many ways, Dinah had a hard life and there were many tragedies in it, but even with the sadness she never gave up and she continued, she was a strength unto herself.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Beekeepers Apprentice by Laurie R. King (Read 10/18/15 to 11/1/15)

This is NNCC book for November.   Sherlock Holmes has long ago retired, and is studying honeybees in Sussex Downs.  It is here that he stumble, literally across Mary Russell.  She is an orphan that has intellect to match his own.  Sherlock sees her potential and she quickly becomes his apprentice and partner in a way Watson never could.  Then an elusive villain enters the picture and their partnership is truly put to the test.
I like this book a lot.  I loved the introduction and the story behind how the story came to be.  Mary Russell is a strong smart woman and Sherlock sees that from the start.  The writing really drew me in and I had a hard time putting it down.  The book is thicker and more complex than it looks and it made me happy.  I wanted to immediately pick up the next one in the series.  I really enjoy how much independence Mary gets and how much Holmes trusts her.
I do feel the morarity storyline and the suicide were a bit redundant.  Mainly because I recently re-watched Sherlock and since essentially the same storyline was used there, it felt overplayed.  But maybe Sherlock stole the idea from Laurie R. King.