Friday, September 30, 2016

Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles, #2)Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a decently crafted, fast paced sequel to Cinder, of the Lunar Chronicles Saga. It is a combination sci-fi, dystopian, fairytale themed series with adventure, humor, mystery, innocent romance, and creatively drawn characters. I enjoyed the new character, Scarlet, and was intrigued by her search for her grandmother. I would like to have read more about Cinder ....she is included only in the form of building background for this book and setting up the next in the series, which at this time consists of at least 6 books. I may or may not read the rest of them but highly recommend the series to young adults.

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Monday, August 22, 2016

The Night GardenerThe Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a well written scary tale about two orphaned siblings, Molly and Kip, who end up becoming involved with a strange family in an eerie house. The plot is intriguing, comparable to Irving and Poe, with plenty of suspense. The atmosphere of impending doom builds from page one to the final showdown. Completely appropriate for middle school, it is sure to entertain young adults and mature readers as well. Audio version narration is exceptional.

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Friday, August 19, 2016

One True ThingOne True Thing by Anna Quindlen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

5 stars because Quindlen is a wordsmith. This is about a daughter who gives up brilliant career to care for her dying mother, only to be accused of her death. It is a thought and emotion provoking story with a great twist at the end. There is a time, hopefully, in all daughter's lives when they begin to see their mother as a real person. As the protagonist discovers more about who her mother is, she discovers more about herself. Quindlen explores what we think we know about ourselves and those closest to us.
I feel the same as goodreads reviewer, ☮Karen, who said, "I just love Anna Quindlen. She understands life, she understands death, grieving, and our complex human emotions. And her writing is perfection; beautiful enough to bring me to tears. Quindlen had me contemplating how I view my own family stories. Are our relationships really how we imagine them, or just a 'vast web of misunderstandings, a tinted and touched up family portrait, an accurate representation of fact that leaves out only the essential truth'?”

“I wondered why I hadn't loved that day more, why I hadn't savored every bit of it...why I hadn't known how good it was to live so normally, so everyday. But you only know that, I suppose, after it's not normal and every day any longer.”

“All of life like a series of tableaux, and in the living we missed so much, hid so much, left so much undone and unsaid.”

“For so long I'd thought about myself as a girl who'd walked away from her mother's life that it would be a long time before I would start to think about the other part of the bargain, how easily she'd let me go.”

and my FAVORITE quote:
“You make concessions when you're married a long time that you don't believe you'll ever make when you're beginning. You say to yourself when you're young, oh, I wouldn't tolerate this or that or the other thing, . . . But time goes by and you've slept together a thousand nights and smelled like spit-up when babies are sick and seen your body droop and get soft. And some nights you say to yourself, it's not enough, I won't put up with another minute. And then the next morning you wake up and the kitchen smells like coffee and the children have their hair all brushed and the birds are eating out of the feeder and you look at your husband and he's not the person you used to think he was but he's your life. The house and the children and so much more of what you do is built around him and your life, too, your history. If you take him out it's like cutting his face out of all the pictures, there's a big hole and it's ugly. It would ruin everything. It's more than love, it's more important than love...

It's hard. And it's hard to understand unless you're in it. . . You can be hard, and you can be judgmental, and with those two things alone you can make a mess of your life the likes of which you won't believe. It's so much easier...the being happy. It's so much easier, to learn to love what you have instead of yearning always for what you're missing, or what you imagine you're missing. It's so much more peaceful.”

Warning: movie with Meryl Streep is very good, but does not do the book justice. Don't delay reading this because you saw the movie already.

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Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles, #1)Cinder by Marissa Meyer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

4.5 stars
This is a squeaky clean YA futuristic Cinderella fantasy with cyborgs, androids, aliens (evolved humans), and hover cars. The future of earth hinges upon a feisty heroine, Cinder, who is a gifted mechanic, AND a second-class citizen CYBORG with a frequently missing foot, a mysterious past, & an evil stepmother. The author Marissa Meyer, has cleverly created a well-crafted world with fascinating characters, especially the wicked Lunar Queen. It is a bit predictable but it kept me up at night, I really enjoyed it, and the humorous dialogue gave me some good laughs. This is book #1 in a series, and it stands alone, but there are enough unanswered questions, e.g. (spoiler alert): Cinder does not marry the Prince, but ends up in prison.....what will happen next? I am wondering what fairy tale themes are in sequel. So my lengthy "to-read" list now includes Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles #2)!

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Friday, June 3, 2016

Fortune Cookie (Culinary Mystery)Fortune Cookie by Josi S. Kilpack
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It is really nice to see growth in a writer and I really could see it in this 11th of the series. One of her better mysteries as I was perplexed about who had committed the murder. I appreciated the insights into bipolar disorder and Chinese-American culture, as well as the visit to San Francisco. And the book made me hungry for Chinese food, and other yummy goodies for which recipes are supplied. Beyond the mystery, Sadie shows us some of the problems that can occur in a real life romance.

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Friday, May 13, 2016

The Magic Strings of Frankie PrestoThe Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom

This beautifully written book is Mitch Albom's best work yet and I am hoping it will be made into a film. The story is mesmerizing and I couldn't put it down. It is a phenomenally crafted work of literature because Albom has managed to make music, the narrator of the book, convincing, reliable and alive. The full-cast audio audition includes "memories" of music greats such as Burt Bachrach, Tony Bennett, Lyle Lovett, Ingrid Michaelson, Wynton Marsalis, Darlene Love, John Pizzarelli, this will be enjoyed most as an audio book. Highly Recommend. Guitar enthusiasts will especially enjoy it.

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Monday, May 9, 2016

I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the TalibanI Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5 stars
Malala and her story are amazing, but the writing leaves much to be desired. It would likely be 5 stars had there been a different co-author. I listened to the audio book, narrated by Malala herself which made it very interesting. I likely would have been frustrated reading it.

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EverymanEveryman by Philip Roth
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.75 stars...
This a short beautifully written yet depressing book about an unhappy old man reviewing his failure at life. I did not love it, and didn't really enjoy it, but I liked it because it held my interest and the prose alone is deserving of 5 stars.

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Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible ThingsFuriously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Yes, she is very funny, but due to her unnecessarily crude language I couldn't get past the first 12 minutes of the audio book.

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Miller's ValleyMiller's Valley by Anna Quindlen

Quindlen, one of my favorite authors, is such a gifted storyteller. This is a character driven novel with a strong, realistic plot that includes love, loss, friendships, and the realities of life. Quindlen gives you the sense that you are right there with her, watching it all happen, experiencing the same nostalgic reminiscing as Mimi, the protagonist narrator.
A family secret is discovered that helps her to understand some family dynamics that have puzzled her throughout her life yet the reader must come to his/her own conclusions. It is a satisfying ending. I loved every word in this beautifully written story and just did not want the book to end, yet it did end, in a strangely satisfying way.
Favorite quote:
"No one ever leaves the town where they grew up, not really, even if they go."

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