Thursday, July 4, 2013

Summer Hiatus

Dear Readers,

I'll be taking a break from reviewing for the summer but I expect to be back this fall.


Saturday, June 8, 2013

The Last - W.D. McKay

Searching the universe for signs of intelligent life, world-renowned astrobiologist David Mace is about to realize his dream. But not even Mace could have predicted the magnitude of the changes descending upon the Earth. It's not until he teams up with Bobbi-Lynne Allen that he discovers the unimaginable truth.

Absolutely amazing!

This book will make you question all your preconceptions about...well...everything! It has changed how I look at the world. What if McKay has stumbled upon the truth? Could we handle it?

The characters are wonderful. Bobbi is brilliant and terrifying, yet sweet and fiercely protective. Absolutely love her.

The story moves along well with, surprisingly, no dry spells whatsoever. And it keeps you glued to it; I had a hard time going to sleep at night knowing The Last was out there waiting for me to continue it.

A spectactular science fiction adventure. I can't wait for book two of the trilogy!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Tigers in Red Weather - Liza Klaussmann

Nick and her cousin, Helena, have grown up sharing sultry summer heat, sunbleached boat docks, and midnight gin parties on Martha's Vineyard in a glorious old family estate known as Tiger House. In the days following the end of the Second World War, the world seems to offer itself up, and the two women are on the cusp of their "real lives": Helena is off to Hollywood and a new marriage, while Nick is heading for a reunion with her own young husband, Hughes, who is about to return from the war.

Soon the gilt begins to crack. Helena's husband is not the man he seemed to be, and Hughes has returned from the war distant, his inner light curtained over. On the brink of the 1960s, back at Tiger House, Nick and Helena - with their children, Daisy and Ed - try to recapture that sense of possibility. But when Daisy and Ed discover the victim of a brutal murder, the intrusion of violence causes everything to unravel. The members of the family spin out of their prescribed orbits, secrets come to light, and nothing about their lives will ever be the same. Brilliantly told from five points of view, with a magical elegance and suspenseful dark longing, Tigers in Red Weather is an unforgettable debut novel from a writer of extraordinary insight.

This story is amazing. Klaussman does an amazing job revealing the mental processes of each of her characters. They're all so unique and their voices really shine through the writing.

I love how real, how normal all the characters are. Well, normal in the sense that we all have secrets, we've all lied and cheated, done things we shouldn't have, have unfulfilled desires and a need to protect those we love... Normal.

This is definitely a book I'll be reading again and again. I fully recommend it to everyone.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Girl Who Married An Eagle - Tamar Myers

When Julia Elaine Newton, a young, pretty Ohio girl, volunteered to go on a mission to the Belgian Congo, she knew it was going to be a huge change. But she never expected to wind up teaching at an all-girls boarding school primarily populated by runaway child brides!

Much to her chagrin, Early Dusk was born beautiful. If only she'd been ugly, Big Chief Eagle would not have noticed her. Escaping an arranged marriage, the scrappy eight-year-old girl finds her way to Julia Newton and the school. But this time her jilted husband will not be denied.

It's up to Julia and Early Dusk to try to save the school as Congolese Independence looms and Big Chief Eagle embarks on his revenge. With the help of Cripple and her husband, and even Amanda Brown, these plucky women must learn to save themselves.
Such a lovely story.

I love the diversity and depth of the characters. Julia's frustrations and Buakane's confusion in their first days at the school are captured perfectly. And who couldn't love a child like Clementine!

The Girl Who Married An Eagle captivated me from the very beginning. But it was over far too fast. Just as things were getting going, poof it was all over. I wish the story had continued longer instead of jumping ahead so suddenly.

I fully recommend this book to those looking for a quick read that will thrust you into the heart of Africa with characters you will never forget.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Wolfhound Century - Peter Higgins

Inspector Vissarion Lom has been summoned to the capital in order to catch a terrorist. A totalitarian state, worn down by an endless war, must be seen to crush home-grown insurgents with an iron fist. But Lom discovers Mirgorod to be more corrupted than he imagined: a murky world of secret police and revolutionaries, cabaret clubs and doomed artists. Lom has been chosen because he is an outsider, not involved in the struggle for power within the party. And because of the sliver of angel stone implanted in his head.
One of the most unsatisfying books I've read in a long time.

I feel like I missed half the story, like every other page was missing - and those were the key pages to alleviate my confusion.

The book was interesting in the sense that I kept pushing forward, waiting for the big reveal, for everything to come together in some brilliant explanation. But it never came. And, to be honest, I couldn't even give a brief synopsis of this book for someone; I am that lost.

It was filled with such wonderfully descriptive scenes that I often had no idea what was actually going on - what was real and what was simply metaphor.

So many threads have been left untied, which makes me think Higgins is planning another book. As much as I want a satisfactory conclusion, I will not be reading a sequel if there is one.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Prophet of Bones - Ted Kosmatka

Paul Carlsson, a brilliant young scientist, is summoned from his laboratory job to the remote Indonesian island of Flores to collect DNA samples from the bones of a strange, new species of tool user unearthed by an archaeological dig. The questions the find raises seem to cast doubt on the very foundation of modern science, which has proven the world to be only 5,800 years old, but before Paul can fully grapple with the implications of his find, the dig is violently shut down by paramilitaries.

Paul flees with two of his friends, yet within days one has vanished and the other is murdered in an attack that costs Paul an eye and nearly his life. Back in America, Paul tries to resume the comfortable life he left behind but can't cast the questions raised by the dig from his mind. Paul begins to piece together a puzzle that seems to threaten the fabric of society, but the world's governments and Martial Johansson, the eccentric billionaire who financed Paul's dig, will stop and nothing to silence him.
This 'thriller' had no thrill!

It simply plodded along, occasionally going for a brief sprint before returning to its trudging pace.

I thought this book would be fascinating, but it often lost me in its technical jargon. I often felt like I needed some form of forensic/biology degree just to get through various passages.

Not even the characters could redeem this book. They were all painfully flat and superficial, and the only interesting aspects that they might have possessed were only glanced over and never delved into. The character I was most curious about only had a small part before he was killed and we never got to learn who he was beneath the surface. Disappointing.

I wouldn't recommend reading this book unless you already possess knowledge of DNA analysis and a basic grasp of early hominid types.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Battle Royale - Koushun Takami

Koushun Takami's notorious high-octane thriller envisions a nightmare scenario: a class of junior high school students is taken to a deserted island where, as part of a ruthless authoritarian program, they are provided arms and forced to kill until only one survivor is left standing. Criticized as violent exploitation when first published in Japan - where it became a runaway best seller - Battle Royale is a Lord of the Flies for the 21st century, a potent allegory of what it means to be young and (barely) alive in a dog-eat-dog world.
Oh. My. Gosh!

What an ending! I kind of saw it coming, and then I didn't, and then I was completely blindsided!

This book is incredible. Brutal, but incredible. I loved the detail it went into with each death; it truly added to the horror.

Introducing so many characters right off the bat can often cause confusion for readers, especially with such similar names, but Takami handled it perfectly. We spent enough time with each person or group, in their own unique set of circumstances, to be able to easily discern them from their fellow classmates. This made it really easy to follow.

I would definitely recommend this book to everyone. I just hope you have a strong stomach because mine did churn once or twice.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Karma Beat - Juli Alexander

Not every seventeen-year-old girl works part time for the U.N.I.V.E.R.S.E., but when you're a genie, you have obligations. I'd rather spend my time rocking with my older brother's band. I've been waiting years to replace the last drummer. Just when it's looking good for me, Leo Fuller shows up, and this bad boy genie's after more than just my drummer gig.

Male genies are dangerous, volatile, bad-boy types, and I'm finding him way too attractive. If we're caught together, we could both lose our powers and be banished to the other realm. I know helping Leo will be a really bad idea. What I don't know is why I'm doing it anyway.
Interesting but super light.

I'd never read a book about genies before so the book was refreshing in that sense, but it was really light. I felt like we were only ever scratching the surface of the characters and the whole genie world. We never got to dig deep.

The plot was entertaining enough to keep me reading, although it was definitely a book I could toss aside mid-chapter for several weeks or months without a second thought.

If you're looking for light-hearted fluff you can speed through in an evening, then check out this book. But if you want in-depth characters, you won't find them here.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Africa In My Blood - Jane Goodall & Dale Peterson

Africa In My Blood is an extraordinary self-portrait, in letters and commentary, of Jane Goodall's early years, from childhood to the landmark publication of In the Shadow of Man. It reveals this remarkable woman more vividly and clearly than anything that has been published before, by her or about her. We see Goodall grow from a schoolgirl into the promising young candidate whom the legendary Louis Leakey sent to a wildlife preserve on the shores of Lake Tanganyika to undertake a revolutionary study of chimpanzees. At Gombe we see her immerse herself in the lives of wild animals as no one had done before. Africa In My Blood is a dramatic, moving, funny, and important book that tells the story of how an English girl who loved animals became one of the greatest scientists of the twentieth century.
Before reading this book, Jane Goodall had always just been "that monkey lady" to me - little did I know, chimps and monkeys aren't even the same species! The book taught me a lot about Jane (and chimps), but it could have been far briefer.

The early letters were rather boring and dry, although it was evident from a young age that she was fascinated by animals. Where the book really picked up and hooked me was when Jane was finally sent out to the reserve. After that point, I was engrossed.

Jane's voice and passion shine through in every letter - be it personal or professional. It was hard not to share in her excitement.

I'd recommend this book to anyone who wants to peer in to Jane Goodall's personal life and early career. If you can survive the first half, the second half is well worth it.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Pedophilia: A Cause and A Cure - Steve A. Mizera

Steve A. Mizera reveals what life in orphanages was like for him in the middle 1940s and 1950s Pennsylvania. After suffering physical, emotional and sexual abuse, he runs away and lives on the streets of Philadelphia. His survival techniques could serve as an operating manual for today's runaways.
A product of a dysfunctional family and not having any bonding in infancy, he predictably has little success with relationships in the USAF or in employment. Nevertheless with this handicap he starts a weekly newspaper in a small northern California town and vents his anger while taking on the establishment. Believing the pen is mightier than the sword, he conducts his battles while attending law school and working as a conductor on the railroad.

Steve reveals his deepest secrets for a very personal reason and discusses a despicable crime for which he has to learn survival once again in Folsom State prison, the most violent US prison in the 1980s.

In his final chapters of his life he does experience both solid relationships and love which turn his life around completely.

I couldn't finish this book. I expected it to be an interesting enough autobiography but it was written without any kind of flair. It felt like reading a list of facts, not a story.

I understand that in an autobiography you want to keep it accurate and factual but that does not mean you can't still tell it like a story rather than simply listing occurrences.

I'm sure Mizera has a fascinating tale to tell but I just could not get into it.