Top Ten Tuesday: Thankful for…

Top Ten Tuesday

Welcome to another contribution to the wildly popular Top Ten Tuesday hosted by The Broke and The Bookish.  This week they ask us to share lists on the following:

 November 21: Top Ten Books I’m Thankful For

 

First off, Happy Thanksgiving to all of my followers in the United States.  I hope you have a good holiday.  This week I’m going to pick books that have had a profound influence on either my personal life or reading taste over my life.  So I’m not going to limit myself to reads from just this year.  Many of these titles you will have seen before on my TTT lists.

Ten books that I’m thankful for.

  1. Twilight (Twilight, #1)  Going to start off with this title and while I know it isn’t a masterpiece of literary fiction I was a huge fan of the Twilight series.  While I have moved on from this author I am grateful for its opening me up to the world of genre fiction and vampires especially.  I might never read it again but it shall forever hold a special place in my heart.
  2. A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy, #1)  This is the book I credit with helping me move on from the world of Twilight.  After falling for this series I have never picked up the Twilight series again, I’ve read it three times.  This series taught me that paranormal books can be so much more.
  3. The Shining I have long since broken up with this author but I’m grateful for The Shining because it was a way for a 13-year-old to connect with a mother she had just lost.  I read this book because it was one of her books and it was a way to keep a piece of her in my life.  It no longer has its cover but it will always have a place on my shelves.
  4.   A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1) This book I credit for showing me that high fantasy doesn’t have to be as awful as The Lord of The Rings… That was just painful to read.
  5. The Martian This is one of my all-time favorite books and I am so thankful for the Blogging for Books program that introduced me to Andy Weir.
  6. Journey of Souls: Case Studies of Life Between Lives I’m sure this isn’t the first book on reincarnation that I read as a teen but I’m going to use it as an example.  I’m eternally grateful for the books I’ve read over the years on this subject.  They have helped me to form a personal ideology that feels true to my soul and cope with the passing of loved ones in my life.  These books have brought me much comfort and enlightenment over the years.
  7.   Fantasy Lover (Dark-Hunterverse #1) Can’t have a list of books I’m thankful for without the first book I read by my favorite author.  This is the one that started it all for me.
  8. First Grave on the Right (Charley Davidson, #1) I’m grateful for this series!  It has brought me so much delight since I found it.  I also credit it with helping me move into other areas of paranormal fiction beyond just vampires.
  9. Redshirts This was the first book I read by Mr. Scalzi and what inspired me to take an evening out of my Chicago trip and go meet him in person.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have a copy of Redshirts for him to sign but it was so cool to meet him even if it wasn’t until I read two or three more books for me to realize how cool it was.  I now have my own copy of Redshirts and a first edition of Old Man’s War that I hope to have him sign someday in the future.
  10. The Diary of Adam and Eve  This was the first book by Twain that I ever read and I credit it with showing me that not all classics are going to suck.  I’ve not read anything else by him but I hope to someday.

 

There is my list for the week and once again I hope you have a great Thanksgiving!

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Top Ten Tuesday: Recommendations for young people.

Top Ten Tuesday

Welcome to another contribution to the wildly popular Top Ten Tuesday hosted by The Broke and The Bookish.  This week they ask us to share lists of the following:

 November 14: Top Ten Books I Want My Future Children to Read (Or nieces and nephews, Godchildren, etc.)

 

Wasn’t sure I wanted to do this week’s list but I skipped last week and thought I should at least try.  I don’t have kids.  I don’t have young nieces or nephews, which I think was the intention of this list idea.  I simply don’t have kids in my life and that is by design.  I do have opinions however and decided to look for books that I’ve read that I think young people should read.  I know that I’m a librarian and helping people select reading material is part of my job.  But there is a big difference between helping someone find something they want to read and selecting something that people should read.  One takes into account what the reader’s interests are and the other the recommenders’ personal moral code.  Note: I’m recommending books for readers age 16 and up.  

Ten books that young people should read.

  1. The Handmaid's Tale There is going to be several dystopian novels on the list because I truly believe it is one of the best ways to get people questioning government control.  This one also makes the reader think about the role of women in society.
  2. Impossible (Impossible, #1) This book I would recommend because it deals with the topic of mental health and rape.
  3. A Thousand Splendid Suns This is not an easy book to read and does not have a pleasant ending for one of the main characters but I feel that we tend to live in such an isolated privileged society that we forget that many people in the world have much harder lives.  This is a great book to remind young people how good they have it in life.
  4. Matched (Matched, #1) Another great book to get teens questioning the big brother also known as big government.
  5. Mr G: A Novel About The Creation Despite the fact that we are not a Christian nation but instead a secular one I feel more people need to read something that challenges the traditional ideas of who or what God is.  This is a fun book that makes people think in a pretty non-threatening fun way.
  6. Strength in What Remains: A Journey of Remembrance and Forgiveness The civil war was the last time we had an armed conflict on American soil and I feel like everyone should read what it is like to live in a country at war.  To not feel safe in your own home.  Too often America is the aggressor in the world maybe if more people knew what it was like to live with war around you then we would be less likely to inflict war upon other countries.  Also, we need a healthy reminder of why people flee their homelands.  It isn’t to take our jobs it is to save their lives.
  7. Two Is Enough: A Couple's Guide to Living Childless by Choice  Too often young people are taught that they need to grow up, get married, and start a family of their own.  Meaning they need to have kids.  Not everyone is fit to or wants to have children and that’s okay.  This book would help show them that they have options.
  8. Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1) This book has a strong female lead and questions authority.
  9. Across the Universe (Across the Universe, #1) Another book to get teens questioning society and topics of control and do the ends justify the means.
  10. Infinity (Chronicles of Nick, #1) Ms. Kenyon does epic good vs evil and takes characters that have had everything thrown at them and raises them up to be heroes despite the adversity they have faced in life.  Sometimes we just need to be reminded that yeah life can suck but that doesn’t mean you can’t overcome it.

Artemis by Andy Weir

Book Review

 


ArtemisBook Genre: Science Fiction, 

Book Series: N/A

Released: 11/14/17 by Crown Publishing

Pages: 384 Price: $27.00 Hardcover

Links:  Goodreads, Author’s Site

Buy the Book: Amazon Artemis: A Novel

Source: I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

Book Synopsis:

Jazz Bashara is a criminal.

Well, sort of. Life on Artemis, the first and only city on the moon, is tough if you’re not a rich tourist or an eccentric billionaire. So smuggling in the occasional harmless bit of contraband barely counts, right? Not when you’ve got debts to pay and your job as a porter barely covers the rent.

Everything changes when Jazz sees the chance to commit the perfect crime, with a reward too lucrative to turn down. But pulling off the impossible is just the start of her problems, as she learns that she’s stepped square into a conspiracy for control of Artemis itself—and that now, her only chance at survival lies in a gambit even riskier than the first.

My Review:

Let me start this review off by stating that I love The Martian,  I mean really love that book.  If you follow my blog then you already know this because it seems like I am constantly pimping the book.  I have reviewed it three times after all…(all linked in this review) I was super excited to get my hands on Mr. Weir’s second title because I have also enjoyed many of his short stories that he has published on his website.  Let me also get this out-of-the-way, Artemis is not as strong a story as The Martian.  It simply isn’t.  That’s okay, though, there was a lot to live up to in The Martian and that doesn’t mean that Artemis isn’t a thoroughly enjoyable book because it is.  I’m still giving it five stars, not that I think they are equal, just that The Martian probably deserved like ten stars from me.

Before I started my review I decided to check out some of the other blogger’s thoughts on Artemis and found a mixed bag, some glowing some more critical.  I tend to agree with many of the points of either type of review but they didn’t sway my opinion and decision to give this book five stars.  Let me tell you why.

Lets start with Jazz who seems to receive most of the harsh criticism from reviewers.  Yep she is a little rough around the edges and it can be difficult for a male author to capture the essence of female-hood.  Not that it can’t be done, but it can be a challenge, just as the opposite can be true of a female writing a male.  The tendencies to get carried away with stereotypes can be strong, also sometimes the character can come off feeling a bit off.  Personally I liked Jazz.  I thought she was well written, sure a bit awkward at times and juvenile, but that isn’t necessarily mean she isn’t authentic.  When you take into account the history of the character I think Jazz is pretty true to form.  She was a young girl raised by a single father on the moon.  She is a tomboy and probably didn’t have a strong female role model in her life.  I think she works and have known people in real life like her.  She was smart and funny and I appreciated the strong moral code she lived her life as a smuggler under.  She was flawed but redeeming which makes for a pretty strong character in my book. Just because you might not like someone and think they are awkward doesn’t mean they are lacking.

Now for what I love most about Andy Weir’s books.  The science!  I love that his science fiction is based in real science.  He doesn’t cheat, at least to my non-scientific liberal-arts fine art-degree mind that is.  I might not understand everything he explains in his stories but I love the fact that he takes the time to anyway and doesn’t make me feel stupid in the meantime.  I also enjoy how the lead character talks to the reader, breaking the fourth wall can be tricky.  Easily overdone but not in this instance.  Weir uses it to keep the reader engaged and invested in the story not to mention for comedic reasons.  I loved it!

On last point in this book’s favor that I feel has been overlooked in all the reviews I’ve read thus far.  The diversity in this book is amazing!  I can’t think of a more diverse cast of characters in any book that I’ve ever read, and there have been quite a few.  I don’t know if this speaks more to my reading taste or the industry in general but one of us needs to expand our horizon’s more.  This book was amazing in this regard.  Jazz is a Muslim Saudi female who is the hero of this story!!!  I don’t want to spoil anything else (that was leaked already by Mr. Weir on Facebook) but this book does an excellent job of portraying a diverse blended society.  One other thing I noticed in this book was the lack of Americans.  I’m sure they were there but most of the main functions of this society were not run by companies or people from The United States.   Hmm.  I wonder if this was a bit of social commentary by the author of what might happen to a powerful society that rejects science.  I think it does.

Is the book perfect.  No it can feel a little awkward at times but it was still fun and the ending was amazing.  I can’t wait to add this title to my home library permanently.   I also can’t wait to share this review and book with you my followers and my library patrons.

My Rating: 5 Stars

Monday Morning Check-In: Plugging Along

Good Monday morning everyone.  Managed to get some reading done over the weekend.  Not a lot but I had a lot of alone time and managed to make some progress in my current read.  The bad news is I’m not that excited about it.  I managed to make it about a third of the way through and after a slow start I started to get into it then it took a turn and I’m not sure I’m into it.  I feel like I’ve been searching for something to excite me for an eon and I just can’t find a book or series that speaks to me.

Might be a bit of my current frame of mind or might be that everything I’m picking up is crap.  Anyway, I will try to finish this one and move on to one of the books from the new crop of review titles I requested.  Three non-fiction titles which are unusual for me but one is a self-help book that I’m hoping will help fix the current mood I’m in and the other two are about chickens.

Well, I want to work on tomorrow’s Top Ten Tuesday so I’ll leave this here.  Have a good week!

Happy Reading ~Amy

A Christmas Blizzard by Garrison Keillor

Book Review

 


A Christmas Blizzard: A NovelBook Genre: Fiction, Holiday, Humor

Book Series: N/A

Released: 10/25/11 by Penguin Books 

Pages: 181 Price: $14.00 Paperback

Links:  Goodreads, Author’s Site

Buy the Book: Amazon A Christmas Blizzard: A Novel

Source: I borrowed this book from my library

 

 

Book Synopsis:

The inimitable Garrison Keillor spins “a Christmas tale that makes Dickens seem unimaginative by comparison” (Charlotte Creative Loafing) Snow is falling all across the Midwest as James Sparrow, a country- bumpkin-turned-energy-drink-tycoon, and his wife awaken in their sky- rise apartment overlooking Chicago. Even down with the stomach bug, Mrs. Sparrow yearns to see The Nutcracker while James yearns only to escape-the faux-cheer, the bitter cold, the whole Christmas season. An urgent phone call from his hometown of Looseleaf, North Dakota, sends James into the midst of his lunatic relatives and a historic blizzard. As he hunkers weather the storm, the electricity goes out and James is visited by a parade of figures who deliver him an epiphany worthy of the season, just in time to receive Mrs. Sparrow’s wonderful Christmas gift. Garrison Keillor’s holiday farce is the perfect gift for the millions of fans who tune into A Prairie Home Companion every week.

My Review:

It took me a week to get through this 181-page story that should be enough to tell you what I thought of it.  This was a book that was selected for a book talk at the library where I work so please know that I did not select this title on my own.  If I had I would have DNF it after 20 pages and you would not have this review.  But I did read it and feel that has earned me the right to criticize it.

This story sucked.  Majorly.  It started off coherent and then took a nose dive into strangeville about half-way through.  The characters were all over the place and I struggled to find one that I even liked.  Lots of stereotypes that were meant to be funny but did not come off that way to me, more offensive in my opinion.  There is actually supposed to be a lot of humor in this story but I don’t think that I laughed once. There was also too much talking about politics for a Christmas story for me.  The ending fit the book in that it came totally out of left field and did not make sense.  The book is just trying too hard to be a Christmas miracle and come off as weird or stupid.

The only redeeming quality that this book held for me is that it was short but somehow I still ended up wasting a week on it.  I’m not a fan of Christmas.  I’m not a fan of folksy humor.  This is simply not a book for me and I don’t think I will be picking up anything else by this author.

My Rating: 1 Star

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson

Book Review

 


Astrophysics for People in a HurryBook Genre: Non-Fiction, Science, Audiobook, Physics

Book Series: N/A

Released: 5/2/17 by W.W. Norton

Pages: 222  Price: $18.95 Hardcover

Links:  Goodreads, Author’s Site

Buy the book: Amazon Astrophysics for People in a Hurry

Source: I borrowed this book from my library

 

 

Book Synopsis:

The essential universe, from our most celebrated and beloved astrophysicist.

What is the nature of space and time? How do we fit within the universe? How does the universe fit within us? There’s no better guide through these mind-expanding questions than acclaimed astrophysicist and best-selling author Neil deGrasse Tyson.

But today, few of us have time to contemplate the cosmos. So Tyson brings the universe down to Earth succinctly and clearly, with sparkling wit, in tasty chapters consumable anytime and anywhere in your busy day.

While you wait for your morning coffee to brew, for the bus, the train, or a plane to arrive, Astrophysics for People in a Hurry will reveal just what you need to be fluent and ready for the next cosmic headlines: from the Big Bang to black holes, from quarks to quantum mechanics, and from the search for planets to the search for life in the universe. 

My Review:

Not quite sure why I put this on my library wish list.  Oh sure I like science fiction but this is science fact and quite frankly I’m not that smart.  Still, I’m a fan of smart people and have enjoyed this author’s cameos on some of my favorite shows like The Big Bang Theory.  I must have been drawn to the beautiful cover of this book and hoped that it wouldn’t be too far above my ability to understand.

Good news!  It wasn’t.  Thanks to some of my favorite shows for basing their plots on real science I did find myself familiar with much of the terms and ideas in this set of essays.  It also helped that Mr. Tyson does an excellent job of making the topics discussed in this book accessible to most people.

The author narrates the book as well in the audio format which was delightful and really made the dad humor come to life.  I found my self both chuckling and groaning while I listened to this fairly short book.  It was just under 4 hours long and I was able to finish it on a quiet morning before work.

There are also some great quotable lines in the book too.  Not to give too much away but these are some of my favorites: ” The Universe is under no Obligation to make sense to you“, “We are stardust brought to life, then empowered by the universe to figure itself out” (this one really spoke to me today), and perhaps the most fun quote ” Yes, Einstein was a badass.

As someone who is disheartened with the anti-science tone that The United States is embracing politically and culturally, I simply loved this book.  It is exactly what I needed to give me hope that all is not lost in this country as long as scientists continue to pursue truth.  Hopefully, reason and science will once again reign in this country.  After all “The Power and beauty of physical laws is that they apply everywhere, whether or not you choose to believe in them.  In other words, after the law of physics, everything else is an opinion”.

My Rating: 4 Stars

Monday Morning Check-In: Lots of DNF….

I feel like I’m stuck in another loop of DNFing titles lately.  I just can’t seem to find anything that scratches my reading itch.  Two or three review books didn’t work for me and I decided to not review them.  Then I was so excited to try listening to the first book in the Cat and Bones series by Frost and had to abandon that one pretty quick.  Not that I don’t enjoy the series but the narrator just did not work for me.  Her British accent for Bones was going to ruin the character for me.  Instead of a sexy accent, it came off sounding creepy and pretty fake.  Now I know I could not pull off a foreign accent, with the exception of my husband’s on occasion, so I don’t fault the voice artist for trying I simply didn’t want to have that voice in my head any time I decide to return to the series and its spin-offs.

Busy week as I am working the city elections tomorrow and will not be posting a Top Ten Tuesday.  I need to get laundry, dishes, and everything I need for a 15 hour day tomorrow and I wouldn’t mind getting some reading in today as I have a book talk at work next Monday and I’ve not even started the book yet.  It is only about 180 pages so not a big deal but it would be nice to get it read.  I should be back the following week but not really a topic for me as I don’t have kids.  I have thought up a spin on the topic so I won’t be skipping two weeks in a row.

Well have a great week and don’t forget to vote in your city elections tomorrow.  Depending on where you are it will most likely be a slow day for your poll workers.  Going to vote, even if you have uncontested races, gives them something to do and makes the day go faster for them.

Happy Reading!

Month in Review: October 2017

Month in Review

Read this month:  5 Books, 888 Pages 

Read this year:  68 Books, 17,008 Pages 

Pack Intensity (Chronicles of Nick, #8) The Rings of Haven (The Frontiers Saga #2) Relentless (Vampires in America, #11.5) The Trouble with Twelfth Grave (Charley Davidson, #12)

Looking Back:

I did way better than I thought I had when I sat down to start this monthly review.  I was super busy this month and did not get much reading done in the first half.  Of course, three of these are short books/stories and two are audio but since I met my goal for the year a long time ago I’m going to not sweat not reading much.  I just feel bad when I go a week or two without any reviews to post.  Even though I feel like my reviews are beginning to sound all alike and I need a heavy dose of originality here on the blog.  Not going to worry about that either at this time.  So I’m going to call the month of October a win.

Looking Ahead:

I have four review books to read and two reviews already scheduled for November.  If I can get all of my review books finished up in November and listen to a couple of audiobooks I will call it good.  I did download the first book of the Night Huntress series in audio format, a series I’ve read before but I thought it might be fun to listen to this time.  Basically, I’ve run out of new books that I’m interested in at my library and decided to revisit old favorites and try listening to them instead of rereading.  Might be a great way to make sure I always have something I enjoy audiobook wise.  Well, that’s all I got for October.  Can’t believe the year is almost over!

Happy Reading ~Amy

Pack by Jeaniene Frost

Book Review

 


PackBook Genre: Paranormal, Romance, Short Story, Audio

Book Series: N/A

Released: 8/4/15 

Pages: 54  Price: $1.99

Links:  Goodreads, Author’s Site

Buy the Book: Amazon Pack

Source: I borrowed this audiobook from my library

 

 

Book Synopsis:

 Previously published in the Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance and the Under Her Skin anthologies—now updated to include over 20% more sizzling extra material. 

Marlee isn’t alone in the woods. Daniel is sworn to keep the existence of werewolves a secret. Yet Marlee is awakening Daniel’s most primal urges, and soon, neither one of them will be able to resist the call of the wild.

My Review:

This was a short listen that I download for the drive to my doctor’s appointment on Monday.  Not used to shifter stories from Ms. Frost as she is more widely know for her Bones and Cat vampire series.  This was an enjoyable story felt that the heroine, Marlee, was a little on the weak damsel in distress side but she did have some steel backbone moments in there too.  I liked Daniel but wished we would have seen more of him.  I know it was a short story but it felt that he didn’t get enough page time but maybe that’s just because I liked him better.  I think my only real problem with this story is that it was too short.  This was an interesting world and I wanted to know more.  I wanted to dive into this society and learn how and why things worked.  I wanted to to the supporting character’s better.  Frost teased us with another character being interested in Marlee but it never developed into anything.  Oh well.  If you are in need of something short and sweet then I highly suggest giving this one a try the only disappointment you may face is that it is far too short.

My Rating: 4 Stars

The Trouble with Twelfth Grave by Darynda Jones

Book Review

 


The Trouble with Twelfth Grave (Charley Davidson, #12)Book Genre: Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance

Book Series: Charley Davidson #12

Released: 10/31/17 by St. Martian’s Press

Pages: 352  Price: $26.99 Hardcover

Links:  Goodreads, Author’s Site

Buy the Book: Amazon  The Trouble with Twelfth Grave: A Novel (Charley Davidson Series)

Source: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through Net Galley for an honest review.

 

Book Synopsis:

Ever since Reyes escaped from a hell dimension in which Charley accidently trapped him, the son of Satan has been brimstone-bent on destroying the world his heavenly Brother created. His volatile tendencies have put Charley in a bit of a pickle. But that’s not the only briny vegetable on her plate. While trying to domesticate the feral being that used to be her husband, she also has to deal with her everyday life of annoying all manner of beings—some corporeal, some not so much—as she struggles to right the wrongs of society. Only this time she’s not uncovering a murder. This time she’s covering one up. 

Add to that her new occupation of keeping a startup PI venture—the indomitable mystery-solving team of Amber Kowalski and Quentin Rutherford—out of trouble and dealing with the Vatican’s inquiries into her beloved daughter, and Charley is on the brink of throwing in the towel and becoming a professional shopper. Or possibly a live mannequin. But when someone starts attacking humans who are sensitive to the supernatural world, Charley knows it’s time to let loose her razor sharp claws. Then again, her number one suspect is the dark entity she’s loved for centuries. So the question becomes, can she tame the unruly beast before it destroys everything she’s worked so hard to protect?

My Review:

This book took me so long to get through.  Not because I struggled with the story but life got in the way, majorly.  I wish I had held off starting this book until I had the time to commit to reading it straight through.  I know I missed bits and pieces because some days I only had time to read a page or two.  The last hundred pages I was able to sit down and focus and was blown away by how much this book made me laugh, I don’t want this series to end.  Book number 13 will be the last and I get it, better to end on top than let the series stretch on and compromise its integrity.  My only hope is that Ms Jones brings us a new series to fall in love with because I would miss fresh titles to look forward to from her.  Her humor is something I need in my life.

The 12 instalment of this series felt much like the books near the beginning of the series.  Reyes was absent from much of the book thanks to plotting but when he was there he had that dangerous bad-boy feel to him again.  I did miss him for much of the book but felt that those moments he did show up were all the more delicious.  While this book had the feeling of earlier books it is an interesting twist to have Charley fully aware of who she is and the role she plays in the universe.  Her grasp on her powers is almost complete yet she continues to be the Charley Davidson that we all fell for.

Being the book before the last book there was movement on loose plot threads that are beginning to be wrapped up.  Some surprises that I did not see coming and a character that has been around but up until now had no page time is summoned and I found the way Ms Jones handled that fascinating.  No spoilers so I won’t say more.  Of course, the book ended with a major cliffhanger that I am super curious to see how this new issue is going to be resolved and only one book left in which to tie it up in!

If you are a fan of this series I would not miss this book or the next.  There isn’t much further to go before getting some resolution in this world.  Personally, I plan to reread the series before the last book which comes out in October of next year.  I simply adore this couple and will be sad to let them go but you have to give it to the author it has been one helluva ride!

My Rating: 4 Stars