Posts Tagged With: Book

Series Review: The Lunar Chronicles – (an enthusiastic) 4 of 5

Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and (in 2015) Winter.

There’s a lot to love about this series:

1) Cinder was born of NaNoWriMo (the greatest thing ever for those of you who don’t know about it) and, to my understanding, much of the rest of the books were drafted in November as well.  I have a special place in my heart for NaNo books.

2) While having a core plot throughout, each book focuses on one Bad-A** lady from a fairy tale.  The plot line of her story more-or-less follows the trajectory of the classic tale while holding true to the core, original, plot.  Those are some mad skillz.

3) That original plot I mentioned? It’s creative and interesting and complex without being confusing.

4) The dudes are adorable.

There’s more, but I thing those are really the main highlights.  Yes, it’s YA, and as I’m not a YA myself any longer, there is many times where I can’t stop an eye-roll at some of the young thoughts and emotions that come flying off the page. The key is to let yourself go.  Immerse yourself into what’s happening and you’ll have a great time.

cinder


Cinder is spunky, unique, and manages to stay in line with the traditional ideas of Cinderella – the evil step-mother, the step-sisters, and, of course, that dashing, heart-throbbing prince. What isn’t traditional is that our heroine is a messy mechanic cyborg.  Sha-zam.

Admittedly, because of how well we know the classic fairy tale, it is a bit predictable, but the character development keeps any dull feelings at bay. Meyer does such a  good job of creating each character as an individual. Every character is dynamic – I particularly found the evil step-mother and the Doctor very well designed. There isn’t just one static “this person is good/bad” feel to it.  How is it that, of all the characters, I love the android Iko the best?  That’s good writing.

Oh yeah, and did you know it takes place in future China-ish? Awesome!  It’s the little nuances that really make this first book shine. 

scarlet

Where Cinder was an awkward yet confident, down-trodden yet finding herself, kind of main character, Scarlet takes it all up a notch.  This girl kicks butt left and right and doesn’t break a sweat.  She’s sassy and sweet. Scarlet forms as a great second heroine while somehow not taking the sparkle off Cinder’s own adventures.

Of the three books out right now though, it is my least favorite. It’s a good gateway to the next but it’s also the least believable.  This might get a touch spoiler-y but I had two main issues throughout – the sudden deep but really quite unnerving attraction with Wolf, and Scarlet’s dedication to the grandmother.

Let me explain.  It’s not that I don’t think both of those things aren’t good and important for the book – they are – but the way things shook out were over the top.  I know Wolf is loyal (like a dog, get it, lolz) but the way he constantly threw himself in front of Scarlet got old (mostly because Scarlet is totally able take care of herself).  And – and this will sound calloused – Scarlet’s insistence to sacrifice herself for her grandmother became exasperating. No offense to my grandmother, but I think 99% of reasonable people would realize that a young, vibrant woman shouldn’t risk everything for an already dying old lady. Just saying.  I know we needed that for forward motion but it was insane.

Even with my few irks, Meyer was really able to make the additional characters shine – and be different – from the ones in the previous book.  Our cast is growing without any harm, and that’s wonderful.

I almost forgot – Thorne.  He is hysterical.  Total favorite.  He is this year’s Han Solo.

cress

Now, we have Cress.  She’s the perfect next main character because she’s wonderfully different.  Don’t get me wrong – she’s still a bad-a** with her seriously impressive hacking skills but she’s not going to beat anyone up.  In fact, she’s much more apt to hide in a corner, but that doesn’t mean shes’ a damsel in distress, either.  Meyer has made such a great balance of showing how her ladies need help sometimes, but that doesn’t make them weak.

A lot of things go down in Cress and they are all interesting.  One thing, after reviewing Game of Thrones, is that I do wish I could have believed a little bit more that bad things were actually going to happen. Sure there are cliffhangers and worries and the like but it was hard to ignore the fact that it is a YA book and, despite the dire circumstances, things were obviously going to work themselves out.

So, I maybe didn’t worry as much as I should have, but I still liked what I saw.  Emotions get deep in Cress – there’s insanity, near-fatal and irreparable wounds, deserts, disease, death, maiming, kidnapping, genocide, and the list goes on.  I don’t mean to say it’s depressing through.  How can it be when a character like Thorne is on so many pages?  He’s adorable and  he and Cress are a fantastic duo. Even more, when we do get back to the rest of the group, they still hold true to their own character traits.

Well, except for maybe Wolf.  You know, for being a “big, bad, wolf” he is a sally.  Seriously.  Whimper a little more, why don’t you? Suck it up and get the job done, bro.

*Cough* Anyway, as I was saying, like the rest, the story follows the trajectory of  a fairy tale, this time Rapunzel. The core plot is at the forefront and it’s intense.  Cress is set up beautifully for another book and I’m definitely ready for it.

All in all – a slow clap, high five, jig, and kudos to Marissa Meyer!

Categories: Pick Ups, Weekly Review, Young Adult | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

2013 End of the Year Book Survey

The Perpetual Page-Turner‘s 4th annual End Of The Year Book Survey

Jamie, a wonderful person and amazing book blogger, has posted a survey for the end of the year.  Once I saw it I immediately started making my list.  I can’t help it – I freaking love filling out surveys!

Seriously, though, if you’ve never checked out her blog, you have to.  She puts my blog to shame.

This year I read 70 books – here are some of my selections!

1) Best Book You Read In 2013?

This, of course, is a really hard question to answer.  I want to cheat and put down a couple but I’m going to get my focus together and make a commitment. Drum roll please….!

inarabiannights

This book just gave me so many FEELS.  It touched me, it fascinated me, and it made me really believe in the idea of traveling (not that I didn’t before) for the sake of meeting people but also for meeting myself.  Tahir Shah is a man who really understands the written word and it humbles and excites me all at the same time.  Not to forget just how beautiful the stories in this book are as well.

2) Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

This one was much easier to choose.

wayofkings

Man. I took me forever to commit to this book.  I had heard such good things but it’s so LONG that I never felt like I had time to read it. So when Eric and I went on a 40 hour road trip we thought this would be perfect.  But the end of the trip it was torture.  This book is just so long winded!  It could be half the length.  Even though the story is good and the writing is interesting the length just ruined it.  So disappointing.

3) Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2013? 

rads

I know very few people have read this, will want to read this, or will ever read this, but it’s the best answer for this survey.  This book is about a bombing that happened on the University of Wisconsin – Madison campus back in the ’70s. I had this book on my life forever but never got around to reading it.  When I finally got it from the local library I almost choked – it is over 400 pages long!  Dullsville, I assumed.  I still checked it out, however, thinking I would just skim the interesting parts and return it.  I didn’t though. I ended up finding it fascinating and learned so much about the school I call home.  I found myself talking about it and recommending it.  It totally surprised me!

4) Book you read in 2013 that you recommended to people most in 2013?

Unbroken

It’s hard to say, because I recommended quite a few, but I think this was the most likely.  I loved this book and I think it’s one of those books that I lot of people could like.  It’s fascinating because of its truth but it’s also just an incredible story.  As a memoir buff I realize that not everyone gets the same kick I do when truth-sounds-like-fiction but I think the popularity of this book shows that the author really did it right.

5)  Best series you discovered in 2013?

outlander

Hands down.  I put off reading this forever because it was so daunting.  Not only are the books long in of themselves but the series is long – and still going!  I didn’t want to make a commitment to something that would take up so many hours of my life.  But I don’t regret it one bit. I’ve been power-reading these books on audible and I don’t often do the one-after-another read when it comes to series. I have had one of these books in my currently reading list for the majority of the year and I’m not even close to being sick of Davina Porter’s voice.  Love it!

6) Favorite new author you discovered in 2013?

number

Okay, so I’ve only read one book by her so it’s hard to call her a favorite author for the year but I really loved I’ve Got Your Number.  It was so damn FUN!  You can just tell she’s good and she really gets the whole chick-lit scene. I would love to be able to write books like her and I fully intend to make my way through others by her.

7) Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?

christie

This was out of my comfort zone for a couple reasons – one being, as you can see, it was written in Spanish.  My Spanish is pretty competent but I still read with a dictionary and it takes some time.  Pair that with it being a mystery and my first Agatha Christie novel this was definitely not a typical read for me.  I loved it though and will definitely be getting more of Christie’s books under my belt- probably in English next, though. 🙂

8) Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2013?

gone-girl-review_320

There a lot of books that I power-read but “thrilling” is an entirely different category.  Gone Girl is pretty dense and I still ate it up.  In the end it didn’t hold as being a favorite book of mine but it still did the trick in the moment.

9) Book You Read In 2013 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

caravan

I’m not the kind of person that re-reads books very often.  Even my favorite book of all time, The Catcher In The Rye I’ve only read two or three times.  Caravan was a re-read for me this year, actually, and I freaking loved in.  Gilman is a master writer and Caravan is a story of such twists and such a strong protagonist.  I love it and will likely read it again, if not next year, sometime in the next couple years.

10) Favorite cover of a book you read in 2013?

cinder

It’s just cool.  I like covers that not only are pleasing to the eye but also tell you a little about a story – Cinder’s cover is just perfect.  You know it’s a Cinderella re-telling but you also know it’s totally different but any other retelling you’ve heard!

11) Most memorable character in 2013? 

Shadowandbone

The Darkling (Shadow and Bone)

I don’t want to say much since The Darkling’s character is, in of itself, a kind of spoiler.  Let me just say that I loved how dynamic The Darkling is – I also love how he has no name.  It’s kudos to the author that this character kept me guessing.  As a reader I definitely find him arousing and terrifying all at once.

12) Most beautifully written book read in 2013?

timeinbetween

This book was just really well done, such an interesting story and when it got exciting it got really  exciting.  I love when you’re reading a book and you can just take a deep breath and think, “This.  This is a book of beauty.”  This is one of those.

13) Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2013? 

somalymam

Somaly Mam – she knows how to tell you like it is.  Because I really like to read memoirs I think I already knew more about the sex trade than a lot of people in the U.S. do and this still shocked me. Maybe what shocked me even more is how Mam has survived.  This is a book that people can’t read without feeling it’s impact, I believe.

14) Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2013 to finally read? 

slaughterhouse

I’m very much a read-such-and-such-book-before-you-die kind of person. When I hear from the masses that something is good or a classic, I tend to pick it up.  As much as I disdain the public opinion sometimes I still can’t withstand the curiosity of picking up a well-known book.  I picked up Slaughterhouse Five probably 10 years ago, read a few pages, got confused, put it down, and never picked it up again.  I finally got around to reading it here.  I was no less confused, but I definitely appreciated it more.

15) Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2013?

bossypants

“Do your thing and don’t care if they like it.” – Tina Fey, Bossypants

16) Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2013? 

christmas finebalance

All I want for Christmas was just a fun little novella.  A Fine Balance was polar opposite of that.  A Fine Balance was truly a wonderful book that I would never wish upon anyone. (Don’t think too hard about that. Just trust me.)

17) Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc.) Be careful of spoilers!

drums

This is the fourth book in the Outlander series.  My husband is reading all the Outlander books after me, but he’s one book behind.  Something happened in this book that I was positive couldn’t happen and I almost exploded for wanting to talk about it.  But, of course, he’s not to this part yet so I am STILL waiting!

18) Favorite Relationship From A Book You Read In 2013 (be it romantic, friendship, etc)

outlander

Jamie and Claire from Outlander

I know, Diana Gabaldon is taking over this survey but Jamie and Claire are the reason why those books are what they are. Seriously, so good.  It’s so believable and real and for one of the first times in a series I can see a parallel between my relationship with my husband and the characters.  No, Eric is not a 7 foot tall Scotsman, but I do really love him.

19) Favorite Book You Read in 2013 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

lola

I’ve actually read a lot of new authors this year so this is a bit hard.  That being said, Lola and the Boy Next Door is just adorable and I had loved Stephanie Perkin’s Anna and the French Kiss too.  I’m excited to get my hands on Isla, too!

20) Best Book You Read In 2013 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else:

kitchen

I never in a million years would have picked up this book (okay, that’s not true, but I doubt it would have crossed my path).  But I kept seeing it pop up on my GoodReads feed from friends and decided to give it a true.  I’m so glad I did!  This book is heartbreakingly beautiful.

21) Genre You Read The Most From in 2013?

ifistay

Young Adult

I think I’ve read more Young Adult this year than I have since I was a young adult.  One of the reasons is because there are so many new young adults out there and a lot that have excellent ratings. The other was that I decided to write young adult for my NaNo novel this year and I wanted to do some “research” 🙂

22) Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2013?

Divergent

Four/Tobias

Let’s face it – Four is a lovely brooder.  When it comes to real like I love it when men are sweet and cuddly.  But when it comes to a novel I’m more than happy to find someone who is totally scary.

23) Best 2013 debut you read?

Print

This book is so good.  She’s balls to the wall about how she talks about her experience, which is so brave.  I know that Lundhout had a co-author as well but I’ll still give her a lot of credit for telling us so much about her incredible ordeal.

24) Most vivid world/imagery in a book you read in 2013?

night circus

It’s not very often that I am excited for a book to be made into a movie – normally I’m pretty nervous about it.  This book, though, is going to be an incredible movie.  The writing is so vivid and there are so many wonderful things happening.  It’ll look great with real visuals.

25) Book That Was The Most Fun To Read in 2013?

number

I cracked up over this book.  Giddy, maniacal laughter in public, the lot of it.  It was just a blast to read.  Literary books that are all deep and stuff are good, too, but this stuff is just awesome.

26) Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2013?

The_Fault_in_Our_Stars

This is a book about kids with cancer and I don’t have a heart made of stone.  ‘Nuff said.

27) Book You Read in 2013 That You Think Got Overlooked This Year Or When It Came Out?

caravan

Can’t help it – this book has always  been overlooked.  It is SO good.  All must read!

28) One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2013 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2014?

worldafter

I know that Angelfall is popular in its own right but I never really hear much about it. I feel like I’m getting ahead of the bandwagon curve which is a pretty new location for me and I’m excited to stay there.  Angelfall left off in such an interesting spot, I am so curious to see what Ee does next!

29) Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2014 (non-debut)?

cress

It feels like so long since I’ve read Scarlet!  I love Meyer not only for her books but for being a NaNoWriMo author.  So curious to learn about the next step in this series!

Categories: Lists, Pick Ups, Young Adult | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

YA Book Review: Wild Cards – 4 out of 5

Wild Cards by Simone Elkeles

WildCards

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m just not going to argue with a book I read so fast. Whenever a book makes me flip page after page after page, it has something going for it. That’s how I have been with everything Elkeles has written. When I go back through and analyze afterwards I can usually identify things that bother me, that I wish were different. But I’m not going to ignore the fact that in the moment I was there and loving it. That’s what I really want in a book in the long run.

So, we have Derek and Ashtyn. Don’t be fooled – this isn’t a book about plot. Yes, there is one, since you need one in a book but that’s not what this is about. It’s about these two characters and how they fall in love. There’s no suspense or question that this will be how them book ends. Derek and Ashtyn are going to be together and we’re just reading a book on how that happens. If you want some kind of suspense about that when you read a book then this is not for you.

Elkeles does a really good job of making these two characters exist in real life. They have plenty of their own baggage and they are definitely teenagers. This is one of those books where the characters act their age. They are young, hormonal teenagers and because of this they sometimes do stupid things. You can see them learning and faltering along the way and as a reader you can’t help rooting for them. You want them to figure out their life because you hope if they can, then maybe you can, too.

Okay, that might have just been me. What I’m saying is that it’s easy to connect.

There were two things that bothered me about the story.

1) Ashtyn’s main character flaw. She projects herself as such a strong, independent young woman, a football player who, despite living with her father seems to have raised herself. For all of that, though, she can’t seems to handle herself and it’s bothersome. I wanted her to figure out about Landon on her own. For all the time she spent around guys I just don’t see how she or even her guy friends would have let her be with someone so negative to her life. I don’t see why Derek had to point out as many of these things to her as he did. I wanted her to do more on her own – but it wasn’t a deal-breaker on how I liked then.

2) Derek’s grandmother lives in Texas and the football clinic is in Texas and miraculously they are located withing CABBING distance? Texas is huge – what were the chances of them being in the same exact place?!

I’m kidding about that last point – kind of.

If you love cute, fun, YA RomCom, you’ll love this. That’s all you need to know.

Categories: Pick Ups, Weekly Review, Young Adult | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

YA Book Review: If I Stay by Gayle Forman – 4/5 stars

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

ifistay

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Let’s keep this short and sweet.

There are times when I read a YA book and I am overly aware of my own age. (For the record, I am 25 years old and married. I’m old). If I Stay made me feel that way. As I’m thumbing the pages, turning quite quickly, I might add, I felt hyper aware of how perfect her family was, how I knew what he ending was going to be, how it all just felt so obvious.

That doesn’t mean I didn’t cry. I was totes tearing up on the Metra (ahh, the life of a commuter – crying on the train).

What I mean is that this really is a great book, it’s a fantastic book if you’re 16. It feels a little funny when you’re older because you start identifying with the mother more than the child (whoops).

I don’t think her life had to be perfect for this accident to be so traumatic. I don’t think each part, in that respect, had to be so obvious. This is why I rated it as I did – but really, it’s a fast read that, depending on the person could really move you. Me? I might forget it. That doesn’t mean I didn’t like it, it just means it wasn’t for me.

Categories: Pick Ups, Weekly Review, Young Adult | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Book Review: How Not To Write A Novel by Howard Middlemark

How Not to Write a Novel: 200 Classic Mistakes and How to Avoid Them–A Misstep-by-Misstep Guide by Howard Mittelmark

notwrite
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book, a book about writing, had me laughing aloud on the commuter train. Yup, I was that person going to crazy-town, the kind of person you aren’t sure you want to sit next to (though, I’m starting to realize that can be a good thing for others to think… it can mean a seat all to myself!) Back on subject now – this is a gem of comedy. At one point there is a quiz to help you identify just how stereotypical your characters are and there’s a part about “grandma” and, well, I don’t want to spoil it. Just trust it’s good. Comedy in of itself is a good reason for this book to be part of your life. Add that to the fact that it gives some lovely advice and you have a truly excellent piece of work.

This is a quick read. It’s laid out in a number of quirky little essays that give you a blunder (which, occasionally, made me cringe as I remembered these mistakes being my own) and then tell you just why this is a problem and why you should do to avoid it. Usually the advice was just not to do it. If the solution wasn’t that simple then it gave a couple more examples, all remaining tongue in cheek. It’s a brilliant and easy to read book that is a good reminder of some novel best practices.

Still, this didn’t quite earn top marks just because I hold writing books to a high standard. I want the book to be hard to get through because I’m constantly setting it down to fix something or compose something new. While this book did get me to jot down a couple notes to improve my current work, it didn’t draw me away enough. In fact, to a certain extend, the book was a distraction because it was so darn funny.

What a paradox! It’s a strange thing to downgrade a book for, but there it is. I think all kinds of people, even the casual writer, will benefit from the easy suggestions of the book. More importantly, everyone can value a good chuckle on the train, even my slightly weirded out seat-mate.

Categories: Pick Ups, Uncategorized, Weekly Review, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Book Review: First Comes Love, Then Comes Malaria by Eve Brown-Waite

First Comes Love, then Comes Malaria: How a Peace Corps Poster Boy Won My Heart and A Third World Adventure Changed My Life by Eve Brown-Waite

malaria
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Man. What a good title. It’s catchy, it’s nimble, and it’s accurate. Can’t ask for much more than that.

Brown-Waite knew what she was doing when she wrote this book. Her writing style just flows; her pacing is done exceptionally well. I’ve found that somewhere in a memoir things can start to drag and, while Brown-Waite is no exception, she knew how to keep the process moving. I found that pretty impressive considering how many years this spanned with really no large breaks in between.

It’s also nice to read a book where a young woman really goes somewhere with some adventure. Brown-Waite spends part of this book in Ecuador and another part in Uganda. She integrates the beauty and extreme poverty of the locations she experienced along with her own life. Sometimes I felt like she did a great job with this – sometimes she would tell a story that showed her own emotions right alongside with what life is like there.

However there were other times when Brown-Waite got in her own way of the storytelling. She relied heavily on self-deprecation for her humor which, while often funny, sometimes became redundant. She talked about her whining and inability to figure out how to cook, or really exist, in Uganda a lot. Believe me, I would have been terrible about it, too, but it wasn’t until the very end that I realized maybe she was more self-reliant than she led us to believe. I think I missed some of the parts where she is a woman who has the ability to live and make decision on her own… something I would have liked emphasized.

Still, overall it’s a quick read for its size and interesting to boot. Another good travel memoir to add to the list!

View all my reviews

Categories: Debuts, Pick Ups, Travel, Weekly Review | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

6 Books to Remind Us of Bigger Problems Than Bad Calls in Football

Last night, my Facebook news feed exploded. It was one in the morning and almost everyone I knew was up in arms – the most horrible thing had happened. They were tearing their hair out, cursing their lives, rolling in agony. The Wisconsin Badgers lost to Arizona State University on a terrible call – or lack of call as it may be.

Now, I am guilty of this behavior as well. I even woke up still angry about it. (Really, it was crap – the refs just walked off the field! I mean – well, never mind. You can read about/see the madness here. )

That being said, I felt a bit sheepish this morning.  How is it that football is the only thing about which we can jointly get overwhelmed?  Shouldn’t we be much more upset about the lack of world peace and starving children?  I’m no bleeding heart, but sometimes there are just bigger things in life.  To make up for my own shortcomings, I decided I would make a short list of books that have helped to give me a bit of perspective.

1) The Road of Lost Innocence: True Story of a Cambodian Heroine by Somaly Mam
www.somaly.org

   somalymam

Sometimes it’s not about the quality of the writing, or the style. Sometimes it’s just the purpose of the story, the reason for writing it. That alone makes this book worth reading. Mam’s ability to tell her story and the stories of others with a real, intricate, and critical eye just makes it that much better.  I don’t think I need to give you any more information about that – I think this book should be read in an effort to make people, especially those in the west, understand that human trafficking and forced prostitution is a huge and horrendous problem and there are people out there still living with it, and people like Mam, who are actively fighting against it.

2) Little Princes: One Man’s Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal by Conor Grennan
http://www.nextgenerationnepal.org/


littleprinces

This book is unbelievable – it is SO good. If you can listen to the audio book version; do it. Conor Grennan narrates it himself. He’s fantastic at it and unbearably funny – something I did not expect to find in a book with such a serious and heartbreaking subject. It adds a great element to reading non-fiction like this and I really appreciate it. He had such an incredible experience and story. There are so many parts that will make your heart stop. Wonderfully done.

3) Wine to Water by Doc Hendley
http://winetowater.org/


winetowater

I saw Doc Hendley speak at a conference, prompting me to buy his book. Why did I buy it, you ask? Well, I’m a sucker for any memoir, particularly one where the individual goes off and does something pretty awesome. So I know I would like this book before I even read a single word. Doc Hendley is obviously an amazing person. I had the opportunity to speak with him briefly and sneak a picture with him. He’s a guy who decided to get passionate about helping the world. I’m both envious and guilty/thankful that I haven’t done the same.  It’s definitely hard work to go out there and do good.

To the point of the book itself, I do have to say he’s obviously not a writer. The book isn’t painful, and it’s really quite quick for how reasonable thick it is, but I didn’t find it completely drew me in like other books I have read that take place in the area. To me, the book seemed repetitive – certain stories and situations came up numerous times without a clear distinction of their difference. Plus – since I saw him speak – I had heard some of the stories before (obviously that won’t be most people’s problem but it still challenged my reading).

That aside it is worth reading the book just to understand how lame most of us are in comparison. It’s also worth reading the book to persuade you to donate; or volunteer somewhere yourself.

4) A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah


alongwaygone

Ishmael Beah told his story straight up – this is what happened and this is what he felt. This is one of those stories where I had to keep reminding myself, “This is a memoir, this is not fiction.” I honestly can’t say much about this other than that you should read it. It is one of those books that really means something. Great memoir.

5) Survival in Auschwitz by Primo Levi


survival

“If I was God, I would spit at Kuhn’s prayer.”

I found this to be one of the most powerful lines out of a book that, if you let yourself really see, always kept you gasping for air. This is a book that never should have been written, because it is a tragedy that never should have happen. But because it did, we must all read and never, ever understand.

5) We Wish To Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families: Stories From Rwanda by Philip Gourevitch

rwanda

“Odette nodded at my notebook, where I was writing as she spoke. ‘Do the people in America really want to read this? People tell me to write these things down, but it’s written inside of me. I almost hope for the day when I can forget.'”

Mind numbing, mind boggling, and mind blowing. Gourevitch manages to write this book with clarity and depth and in a way that tells me all the brutal facts but without completely overwhelming me as a reader. I really appreciate that I felt he was able to really convey to me the horrors and emotions but didn’t do it in such a way that I had to put the book down for a while. Because this is kind of lengthy, I really value that aspect.  Well done and I think a great reminder that while this was published in 1999 there are still horrible things happening in that region.

Categories: Lists, Pick Ups, Weekly Review | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Book Review(s): Outlander and Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon

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I can’t help it, I love these darn books.

To be honest, I didn’t really want to – let’s just say I can be pretty snooty about books that do really well in the eyes of the general public. I tend to over criticize them and decide to dislike them just because I wouldn’t be original if I did like them. Still, despite my efforts, the Outlander books have me hooked.

In my opinion, what’s not to like? Suspense, history, romance, adventure, this book is exactly what it’s cracked up to be. Somehow even with the dense, incredible amount of words this book has I was with it all the way. I adore Gabaldon’s descriptions – she’s managed to create a word with such meaningful detail. She doesn’t just tell us about the dew reflecting the cool, low sun on the horizon in the Highlands just because she wants to create a setting, she does it because it’s part of the story. I’ve never felt like the descriptions of place and people to feel quite so natural as with Gabaldon’s writing.

Now, I can’t speak too much to reading the dialect in the dialogue, something which apparently some people have a challenge with, based on reviews I had read. I have enjoyed both of these books on audio book – and, though I am sure the real book is nice to – I highly recommend you listen to the story. The narrator is incredible. She has so many beautiful accents and excellent rhythm. I truly believe Jamie and Claire, the two main characters, have come alive not only because of Gabaldon’s writing, but because of Davina Porter’s excellent performance. Even the smallest character has their own feel and cadence. As much as I love to read, it’s not often I feel a deep connection with a character and am truly sad to see him/her go. I won’t say anything more about the story because there are many twists and I don’t want to give any spoilers.

kilt

If I weren’t already married to someone who is decidedly not Scottish…

Anyway, Outlander is great, and so is Dragonfly in Amber. This sequel to the first has just as much adventure, just as much love and sexy time, and one more added element to shake it all up – a realization of what the future truly is. It’s unnerving. In Outlander we didn’t know what the future would hold, truly. In Dragonfly we don’t know it all, but many, we know enough…

Okay, I won’t say any more. Chat with me if you want to gush – feel free to comment below. And If I said it once I’ll say it again -give this audiobook a try. It’s glorious.

PS – I started Voyager immediately after I finished this. Onward!

Categories: Pick Ups, Weekly Review | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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