Sunday, January 12, 2014

A Thread of GraceA Thread of Grace by Mary Doria Russell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was deeply moved by this story and am impressed by Mary Doria Russell's ability as an author. She has created characters that one can't help but love and care about. Favorite quote, and summation of the book's message ....“No matter how dark the tapestry God weaves for us, there's always a thread of grace.”
This is a beautiful but painful book that will stay with me for a long while.
more favorite quotes:
“God save us from idealists! They dream of a world without injustice, and what crime won't they commit to get it! I swear, Mirella, I'll settle for a world with good manners.”
“The world is filled with unreasonable hate. What's wrong with unreasonable love?”
“I suppose I should warn you, Padre. In the absence of male supervision, my mother has become a revolutionary." ~Renzo Leoni”

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Ready Player OneReady Player One by Ernest Cline
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I don't even like sci-fi dystopian novels, am not a gamer, geek, or techie. I was too busy being a mom to 5 kids in the 80's to be little more than worried about the influence of its pop culture. I was not only terrible at Mario but I could see no point in wasting my time as it made me tense and jittery. Now as a grandma I have even stronger feelings about online gaming and its violent, addictive qualities. All that being said, I REALLY liked this crazy book about an unattractive, overweight male teen who barely has a life outside of gaming. I don't think it is very well written, but due to the compulsive nature of my reading it, in the end I decided it doesn't matter, because I liked it.
I agree with another reviewer who pointed out that the book looks at how we deal with the online "friends" we've never actually met and how certain segments of society wall themselves off from the real world living almost exclusively in a virtual world.
It is a fun, escapist read, a blend of "tech version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," The Matrix, and The Hunger Games. I predict a sequel and a movie adaptation.
I listened to the audio version which is exceptionally well done. I don't think I would have enjoyed text version as well. I knocked off a point for crude language and mediocre writing.

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A Thousand SunsA Thousand Suns by Jim Haberkorn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh man, this was an excellent read and I can't believe I didn't rate and review it 8 months ago when I read it….undoubtedly because I was in the process of moving (twice) to new homes and a new town. One does not often read a second book by a new author that is as good as the first book, but that is certainly the case here.
In fact, this book was even better than Haberkorn's first book, which I also rated 5 stars. I'm hoping there will be a third novel! If you are looking for a fast-paced thriller that is hard to put down and which also has some truly wonderful humor, look no further. His characters are well drawn and believable, the settings varied and descriptive, the story exciting, and the writing is superb. I especially give it kudos for being a squeaky clean read, proof that such a thing is possible even in gritty modern spy novels. Yay!

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Thursday, January 9, 2014

And the Mountains EchoedAnd the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Almost 5 stars. This was difficult to follow at first, perhaps because I listened to audio version (?), and it was a few chapters before I really got into it but then I couldn't put it down and truly I didn't want it to end. It is a beautifully told tale with many people and their individual stories and how after 60 years they meld into a satisfying conclusion. The book really touched me. Did not feel it was quite as good as Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, but will likely appeal to readers who did not enjoy those books due to the darkness in both, but although much of the book deals with Afghanistan and its people the storyline and overall theme of this book is completely different, more positive and heart warming.

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