Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Review: The One-in-a-Million Boy

The One-in-a-Million Boy The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you loved A Man Called Ove or Guiness world records, you'll love this.

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Sunday, August 6, 2017

Review: The Book Jumper

The Book Jumper The Book Jumper by Mechthild Gläser
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Kids on a remote Scottish island have "superpowers" to jump inside storybooks and mingle with the characters. It was clever.

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Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Review: The Bear and the Nightingale

The Bear and the Nightingale The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

2.5 stars
Do not let the quaint, soft focus, idyllic cover fool you -- this is a creepy, blood-thirsty novel, full of woodland creatures, gnomes, goblins, vampires, walking-dead, a frost demon, and a massive bear-like man who feeds on death and fear. Seriously -- Russian folklore/fair-tales are freaky and scary! That being said, Vasya, was a hardass. Like a Russian, magical Wonder Woman. There is a sequel to this book, which normally I would touch -- but Vasya intrigued me. Given enough time away from this -- I could be persuaded to continue her story. Maybe. If I don't have nightmares.

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Friday, July 14, 2017

Review: Al Franken, Giant of the Senate

Al Franken, Giant of the Senate Al Franken, Giant of the Senate by Al Franken
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Funny, serious, thoughtful, empowering, and now I want to move to Minnesota.

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Review: The Inquisitor's Tale: Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog

The Inquisitor's Tale: Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog The Inquisitor's Tale: Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog by Adam Gidwitz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Spiritual, whimsical, thought-provoking, imaginative, creative, masterful storytelling. And while a juvenile fiction book, I think it transcends ages. I'd easily consider it for book club...so much to discuss.

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Thursday, June 29, 2017

Review: The Dry

The Dry The Dry by Jane Harper
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

An apparent murder-suicide of a young family in the outback of Australia leaves a small town unsettled and looking for answers.
I'm not a mystery reader, so my opinion may be biased. I thought the story, for the most part, was a snoozer. Nothing really happened until the last 100 pages. And even then I'm not sure the "twist" was that much of a shocker. The final moments were alarming, but by then I was ready for it to be over.
I'm still not sure what the Australian definition of "bugger" means.

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Sunday, June 25, 2017

Review: Girl in the Blue Coat

Girl in the Blue Coat Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

German occupation, Dutch resistance, a case of mistaken identity, hiding Jews, black market intrigue -- of all these elements make an intriguing and page turning YA WWII historical fiction novel. In fact, there were so many twists and turns at the end, I could have easily started the book again, to re-read what I missed the first time. For those who loved Salt to the Sea or Code Name Verity.

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Saturday, June 24, 2017

Review: She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World

She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World by Chelsea Clinton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"Sometimes being a girl isn't easy. At some point, someone will probably tell you no, will tell you to be quiet, and may even tell you your dreams are impossible. Don't listen to them."
My only issue with this book is there are far too few women mentioned.
Persist. Always.

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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Review: Words in Deep Blue

Words in Deep Blue Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 stars
This is a hard one to review.
Things I loved: Henry and Rachel's love of books; their letter writing; the bookshop; their deep discussions of poetry and literature; their friendship; her grief over Cal; the final letter from Frederic -- wow, it was beautiful.
Things I didn't love: She was really awful to him in the beginning; Amy; Greg; the overabundance of Fbombs -- like, on every page -- I grew so weary of reading that word.



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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Review: The Garden of Small Beginnings

The Garden of Small Beginnings The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

4.5 stars
I only bought this book only because I had a "Cartwheel" coupon from Target that made the purchase a bargain $8. Well worth my literary money.

This is a quaint, witty novel about a woman who is still trying to recover and find balance after the death of her husband. It's about complicated family dynamics and unexpected friends. It's about relationships and overcoming fear. And it's about growth and change -- much like the gardening that anchors the book.

I loved the multiple characters and the sharp, bantering dialogue. It made me want to take a gardening class.

A perfect summer novel.

*Language including the Fbomb


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Saturday, May 27, 2017

Review: Dark Matter

Dark Matter Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

4.5 stars
A family of three goes on a mind-bending, physics-altering, time-warping, metaphysical journey thorough time and space, and the reader is along for the nail-biting ride. Wow!

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Sunday, May 21, 2017

Review: Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Currently, Pawhuska OK is most famous for Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman, and her Mercantile Store, that brings as many tourists/shoppers to this small town as it has residents.

But at the turn of the century, Pawhuska was knows for oil. And lots of it. And it was owned by the Osage Indian tribe.

In riveting and engrossing detail, author David Grann, details the nearly systematic elimination of the Osage by Whites because of money. Nothing else. The Osage had it. The Whites didn't. By means of murder, poison, explosion, anything to get the "headrights" to the Osage's land and mineral rights.

Growing up, my dad use to tell me stories of the Osage and their wealth -- one I remember was that when one of their cars would run out of gas, instead of filling up the tank, they'd discard it and buy a new one...true or tale, who knows...but as a Oklahoman, I had a vague knowledge of the Osage wealth. I had no idea that many attempted to kill them off because of it.

An extraordinary book. One I could easily start over from page one and read straight through again.


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Sunday, April 30, 2017

Review: Alex and Eliza

Alex and Eliza Alex and Eliza by Melissa de la Cruz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Alex and Eliza sitting in a tree...
K I S S I N G...
First comes love...
Then comes marriage...
Then comes Hamilton's scandalous affair with Maria Reynolds, and lastly, his death at the hands of Aaron Burr.

But before that, in this YA fictional account, they were the Elizabeth Bennett and Mr Darcy of the Revolutionary set.

I adored this book (and the musical), even if it's a work of fiction and Hamilton turned out to be an adulterer.

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Sunday, April 16, 2017

Review: Under a Painted Sky

Under a Painted Sky Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Annamae and Samantha are both on the run: Annamae as a runaway slave, Samantha as a fugitive after killing her attempted rapist. Both find refuge with a trio of cowboys: Cay, Peety and West. What transpires is their quest across the plains, and the "band of brothers" they form as a quintet.

An atmospheric novel, with lovely prose, well developed characters, and a page turner - I had to suspend belief on much of the story line: an abundance of food and water on their trek (have I read too many Donner party accounts?), miraculous escapes from the law, lightening strike survival, among others, that I was often eye-rolling some of the narrative.

That being said, I loved both Annamae and Samantha and their relationship. True Friends.

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Friday, April 7, 2017

Review: Princess Cora and the Crocodile

Princess Cora and the Crocodile Princess Cora and the Crocodile by Laura Amy Schlitz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A delightfully silly story about a Princess and her pet crocodile, who causes all sorts of trouble and likes to eat cream puffs.


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Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Review: Daughter of the Pirate King

Daughter of the Pirate King Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 stars
Pirate map ✔️
Prisoners ✔️
Swashbuckling ✔️
Mysterious island ✔️
Pirate romance ✔️
Highly entertaining pirate escapade - first in a series.

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Monday, March 27, 2017

Review: We Were the Lucky Ones

We Were the Lucky Ones We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After the invasion of Poland by the Germans at the onset of WWII, the Kurc family was forcibly scattered, abused, detained and imprisoned across Europe and Asia because they were Jewish. For the entirety of the war, most family members don't know the others whereabouts or whether they are dead or alive.

This was an epic family drama. Author Georgia Hunter vividly tells her family's history during the war. However, the written narrative didn't always excel at telling what was truly a remarkable story. The timeline was often confusing, as well as keeping track of each individual family member and where they were at any given point in time. One of my biggest literary peeves was the use of rhetorical questions, "Were they alive?" "Where are they?" "Would I ever see them again?" were repeated over and over again...

Initially I was only going to give this book 3 star rating -- but the ending was such that I gave it the benefit of the doubt based on the truly miraculous nature of the author's ancestry.

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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Review: Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk

Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

On New Year's Eve 1984, Lillian Boxfish decides to walk her Manhattan neighborhood and reminisce about her long life (she's now 84 or 85 depending on what date she's willing to claim). What transpires is a glorious narrative of accomplishments, family, friendships, travel, regrets, unhappiness -- everything you'd find in a life well lived.

I loved this book. I loved the writing - full of wit, repartee, reflection, emotion -- I would reread passages because they were so beautiful. I was so caught up in Lillian's life and her experiences that I felt like she was REAL, only to discover that this book was influenced by life and career of the late Margaret Fishback, a successful advertising writer prior to WWII. Now I'm dying to read Margaret's original work, only to discover that they are all out of print (all published in the 1930s, so that makes sense) and not available at the library.

This was an absolute treat to devour.

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Thursday, March 2, 2017

Review: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It was unintentional that I picked this book, set in 1917, to read for the first time in 2017, but it ended up being the absolute right choice.
I loved everything about this book: Francie, her family, her home, her experiences, her hardships, her education, her employment -- I savored this book for three weeks, because I didn't want it to end.
An emotional, satisfying reading experience.

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Thursday, February 9, 2017

Review: The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto

The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Frankie Presto is an accomplished musician, but with a sad, complicated, painful, yet beautiful, life story. And his story, appropriately enough, is narrated by the talent he embodies, Music. From his beginnings as an abandoned baby, to an orphan, to a guitar student, to an immigrant, to a musical success phenomenon (possibly better than Elvis!), the reader is swept away with tales of his life with preeminent musicians, to his battles with memories and addictions.
I loved this story and was constantly nudging minutes out of the day to read. I wasn't ready for it to end.
This was our book club choice for February - and served as a reminder why I love book club: this is a book I would never have read on my own, or voluntarily picked up to read. I was gloriously rewarded.

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Friday, February 3, 2017

Review: The Girl Who Drank the Moon

The Girl Who Drank the Moon The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A stunning, elaborate, fantastical fairytale about the power of love and loss. I loved the characters - from the creatures, to the humans, to the witches - I cherished my time with them.
A beautifully written story.

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