Monday, January 22, 2018

Into the WaterInto the Water by Paula Hawkins
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

arghhh.........so disappointing. The story is not particularly exciting, too many POV's , the characters unlikable, writing uneven. This could have been edited to half its size and been a decent novella. It felt like it was written to meet publisher deadlines. I "read" the audio version which was well executed with several narrators.

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Chains (Seeds of America, #1)Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It is 1776 and the Colonies are fighting for freedom from England. In New York a 13 year old girl, Isabel, is looking forward to her own freedom from slavery. She has witnessed her loved elderly owner sign a release from slavery for herself and her younger sister, Ruth, upon the lady's death, but when her owner dies, a distant nephew and the lady's only heir states the promised release from slavery does not exist, and claims the girls as his property.

Isabel and her sister are sold at auction when she meets Curzon, an older boy with ties to the Patriots. He tries to convince her to spy upon her new Loyalist owners. But she is unsympathetic and declares she will aid either Patriot or Loyalist as long as they can help her to break through her own chains. The girls endure harsh work conditions and hateful treatments that are getting worse and worse. "Madam," her mistress is an especially nasty piece of work. Isabel becomes spy for the Patriots after they promised her freedom. She becomes disenchanted with them when it becomes clear they only want freedom for white people. When she learns the Royalists offer freedom to slaves who escape and join the army she switches sides to help them. However, once again she becomes disenchanted when she learns that if a slave does escape from a Loyalist household, that’s a whole different matter.

Her friend Curzon is captured and cruelly treated in a Royalist Prison and she is reluctantly drawn back into the Patriot cause against the Crown, carrying messages from prison to captured officers and back.

The historical context isn't simplified, the Patriot cause isn't glorified, and the characters on both sides are flawed, complex, and rich. A masterful use of period turns of phrase and vocabulary along with a touch of dialect give Isabel a narrative voice that conveys a convincing picture of her times.
Each chapter begins with a quote from a primary source of that time period, which could spark discussion around blending multiple texts, author's craft moves, and integrating non-fiction sources.

Extremely well-written with wonderful metaphors and similes, impeccably researched, exciting, and heart-clenching, this is a fabulous read and a definite contender for the Newbery Award.

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

This is a wonderfully written fantasy, with a sprinkling of magic in it. It is a tale of love, loss, and the inevitable. The characters are delightful. If made into a movie it will be a box office hit. I listened to the audio version which was very well cast. Highly recommend this heartwarming tale.

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Magpie MurdersMagpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a well crafted mystery within a mystery, told from two points of view. It is rich in detail with multi faceted characters and even occasional humor. Engaging but at 500 pages a bit too long for me.


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Undaunted Courage: The Pioneering First Mission to Explore America's Wild FrontierUndaunted Courage: The Pioneering First Mission to Explore America's Wild Frontier by Stephen E. Ambrose
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Meriwether Lewis and William Clark's incredible trek West to discover an all water route to the Pacific Ocean is certainly one of the most American stories ever. Ambrose has written a detailed account of the courage, determination and resourceful self sufficiency displayed by these men and their companies to complete the expedition, giving great attention to the science, geography and their everyday life on the journey. This was a wonderful, informative and highly enjoyable read.

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As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess BrideAs You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I so loved reading the Princess Bride many years ago that I encouraged my kids to read it and then we really enjoyed the movie. I reread the book probably 10 years after the first reading and was delighted last year to read Elwes' account of the making of the film. Such a fun read that we watched the movie again on Netflix.

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Textbook Amy Krouse RosenthalTextbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I LOVED this quirky, fun, sweet, optimistic, highly relatable book. An "experimental memoir," it is a wonderful glimpse into a woman's life and feels like chatting with a best friend. It is an interactive book that contains a pre-test, midterm, and post-test for the reader. It can be read in just a few hours, but if you are like I you will want to get your own copy, reread it, and give it as a gift to people you love. It is whimsical, poetic and unlike anything I've ever read. It will make you smile, ponder, laugh, and pikes shed a tear or two. It contains lots of good visuals...photos, diagrams, drawings, illustrations. Don't wait to read this one!

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Saturday, December 16, 2017

All the Little Live ThingsAll the Little Live Things by Wallace Stegner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Read this probably 30 years ago, but the story, characters and their relationships, and the feelings are stillin my memory. Because of the prose Stegner is one of my all time favorite writers.

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A Thousand AcresA Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Modern King Lear. Sounds just like the hard life Iowa farmer/ rancher personalities of my husband's large paternal ancestor family. They were hard working, hard Swedes and 100 years later none of their descendants has much to do with each other. Sad, but very good reading.

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The Other Boleyn Girl (The Plantagenet and Tudor Novels, #9)The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A bookclub choice, read several years ago. Very interesting, but loses 2 stars due trite writing style, and to overall unnecessarily crude language & sex.

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