Sunday, December 9, 2012

Review: For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund

Synopsis: It's been several generations since a genetic experiment gone wrong caused the Reduction, decimating humanity and giving rise to a Luddite nobility who outlawed most technology.

Elliot North has always known her place in this world. Four years ago Elliot refused to run away with her childhood sweetheart, the servant Kai, choosing duty to her family's estate over love. Since then the world has changed: a new class of Post-Reductionists is jumpstarting the wheel of progress, and Elliot's estate is foundering, forcing her to rent land to the mysterious Cloud Fleet, a group of shipbuilders that includes renowned explorer Captain Malakai Wentforth—an almost unrecognizable Kai. And while Elliot wonders if this could be their second chance, Kai seems determined to show Elliot exactly what she gave up when she let him go.

But Elliot soon discovers her old friend carries a secret—one that could change their society . . . or bring it to its knees. And again, she's faced with a choice: cling to what she's been raised to believe, or cast her lot with the only boy she's ever loved, even if she's lost him forever. (from the back of the book)

Review:  I picked this up only because it is a sci-fi retelling of Jane Austen's Persuasion. I'm not sure what I expected but this was more. Peterfreund does an excellent job of keeping the core of Austen's story while adding a futuristic twist that blends nicely with Austen's themes. Peterfreund's writing has a repetitive quality that mildly annoying, but did not distract from the story. I would recommend this story to anyone who enjoys Austen, and perhaps wants to read a unique retelling.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 12-5-2012
Pages: 407

Review: Chicken Every Sunday: Life with Mother's Boarders by Rosemary Taylor

Synopsis: Rosemary's family lives in Tuscon, Arizona, one of the first families there. Her mother takes in boarders, teachers, tradesmen, salemens, couples on vacation or there for health reasons. This is a memoir of a lively family and their adventures.

Review: I'm not sure what attracted me to this book. I picked it up for pennies as a thrift store. It was charming, delightful and several times made me laugh aloud. I enjoyed the vignettes, the droll way Taylor spoke of her family and the cheery nature of the writing. I recommend this is anyone who enjoys memoirs from around the turn of the century.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 12-4-2012
Pages: 307

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Review: Chain Reaction by Simone Elkeles

Synopsis: Luis Fuentes is a good boy who doesn't live with the angst that his big brothers, Alex and Carlos, have always lived with. Luis is smart, funny, and has big dreams of becoming an astronaut. But when he falls for the wrong girl, Luis enters a dark world he's never known, and just when he thinks he's got life all figured out, learns some disturbing news about his family that destroys his positive outlook on life. Will that Fuentes bad boy streak come out with a vengeance and lure Luis to live on the edge like his new girlfriend and his own father? (back of the book)

Review: This is the third in Elkeles' Perfect Chemistry series. Again, I was pleased to see the characters from the previous two books have pivotal parts in this one, although it focused on the youngest Fuentes brother, Luis. Elkeles did an excellent job of creating different characters who feel related. I enjoyed this book and would recommend it as a pleasing, satisfying read.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 11-30-2012
Pages: 308

Review: Rules of Attraction by Simone Elkekes

Synopsis: When Carlos Fuentes returns to America after living in Mexico for the past year, he doesn't want any part of the life his older brother, Alex, has laid out for him in Colorado. When he meets Kiara Westford, a good girl totally unlike any of the girls he's usually drawn to, Carlos assumes Kiara thinks she's too good for him. But will he put his pride aside when he realizes that being with Kiara might finally allow him to be his true self? (from the back of the book)
Review: This is the second in Elkeles' Perfect Chemistry Triology, centering on the second Fuentes brother, Carlos. I enjoyed this as much as the first, and was pleased to see the two main characters from the first novel make an appearence - and even have a bit more story themselves. While this is a teen romance novel, it doesn't have the normal angst and nonsense one usually finds. I recommend as a pleasent read.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 11-30-2012
Pages: 324

Review: Redwall by Brian Jacques

Synopsis:  Matthias, a young mouse, must rise above his fears and failures to save his friends at Redwall Abbey.  Cluny the Scourage, one of the most deliciously despicable rats of all time, is the villian. The unforgettable cast of supporting characters includes the stalwart badger Constance, an irrepressible hare named Basil Stag Hare, and the elderly wisemouse Brother Methuselah.
But most of all there is Matthias, seeking his true destiny in a journey that will lead through danger and despair to true wisdom. (from the back of the book)

Review: I've heard of this book for many years. I finally read my copy and was pleasently surprised. This was an excellent read, one I had trouble putting down. I might compare it to Lewis' Chroncles of Narnia. Worth reading if you find a copy.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 11-29-12
Pages: 352

Review: The Hound of Heaven by Francis Thompson

Synopsis: A 182-line poem, published in 1893, about God's Love chasing us. It is considered one of the best mystical/religous poems of the later time period.

Review: I'm not one for mystical poetry, finding it vague, flowery and verbose. This was none of those things. Simple words, strung together like beads, describe God's pursuit of us in gorgeous, haunting language. I highly recommend.

Bookmarks: 8 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 11-28-2012
Pages: 26

Friday, December 7, 2012

Review: Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Synopsis: With great wisdom and insight Lindbergh describes the shifting shapes of relationships and marriage, presenting a vision of life as it is lived in an enduring and evolving partnership. A groundbreaking, best-selling work when it was originally published in 1955, Gift from the Sea continues to be discovered by new generations of readers. With a new introduction by Lindbergh’s daughter Reeve, this fiftieth-anniversary edition will give those who are revisiting the book and those who are coming upon it for the first time fresh insight into the life of this remarkable woman. (back of the book)

Review: This was a small volume of Lindbergh’s thoughts inspired by the sea. It’s light and prosy, and a bit vague, but worth reading. She makes excellent points about time and modern lives.
Bookmarks: 6 of 10

Awards: None
Date Finished: 11-26-2012
Pages: 132

Review: The Matchlock Gun by Walter D. Edmonds (Author) and Paul Lantz (Illustrator)

Synopsis:  Edward lives in upstate New York with his parents and little sister as one of the earliest settlers to in the New World. When his father leaves to fight Indians, it’s up to Edward to help his mother fight for their lives when the Indians attack them.

Review: This was a quick read, with surprising depth for its brevity. The characters become clear and solid in a few words and the story is excellent. I highly recommend.
Bookmarks:  7 of 10
Awards: 1942 Newbery Medal
Date Finished: 11-24-2012Pages: 17

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Review: Hank Zipzer: Holy Enchilada! by Henry Winkler

Synopsis:  Hank Zipzer’s class is celebrating the visit of the Principal of their sister school in Japan by having a multicultural luncheon. And Hank gets chosen o host the principal’ son in his home – who happens to be the coolest boy anyone has ever met! Hank and his friends agree to make enchiladas for the luncheon. Hank is on top of the world until a small mistake in recipe spells disaster! Will Hank be able to save the day? Or will everyone in P87 hate him forever….
Review: I adore the Hank Zipzer books. I laughed out loud at every one, but they aren’t flippant books. Hank struggles with learning disabilities, in a real and relatable way. Surrounded by a crazy cast of secondary characters, Hank struggles through with a little humor and imagination – and a bunch of love for those around him. I highly recommend for children age 5-13, and for anyone who wants a good quick read that will make you laugh.
Bookmarks: 8 of 10
Awards: None
Date Finished: 11-24-2012
Pages: 160

Review: Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles

Synopsis: When Brittany Ellis walks into chemistry class on the first day of senior year, she has no clue that her carefully created “perfect” life is about to unravel before her eyes. She’s forced to be lab partners with Alex Fuentes, a gang member from the other side of town, and he is about to threaten everything she's worked so hard for—her flawless reputation, her relationship with her boyfriend, and the secret that her home life is anything but perfect. Alex is a bad boy and he knows it. So when he makes a bet with his friends to lure Brittany into his life, he thinks nothing of it. But soon Alex realizes Brittany is a real person with real problems, and suddenly the bet he made in arrogance turns into something much more. (from the back of the book)

Review: I picked this up only because it won a RITA award and I was curious. It seemed like another angsty  teen romance . I was wrong. Elkeles writes with surprising depth, her characters real, flawed, round and solid. Add a believable romance and danger, and you have a book worth reading. I highly recommend.
Bookmarks: 7.5 of 10
Awards: 2010 RITA Award for Best Young Adult Romance
Date Finished:  11-22-2012
Pages: 368

Review: Fair Weather by Richard Peck

Synopsis: Thirteen-year-old Rosie Beckett has never strayed further from her family's farm than a horse can pull a cart. Then a letter from her Aunt Euterpe arrives, and everything changes. It's 1893, the year of the World's Columbian Exposition-the "wonder of the age"-a.k.a. the Chicago World's Fair. Aunt Euterpe is inviting the Becketts to come for a visit and go to the fair. (from the back of the book)

Review: As with all the other Peck books I’ve read, I enjoyed this one immensely. Peck’s way of writing is phenomenal. His characters feel real, their adventures and drama believable and his ending always satisfying. I highly recommend this – and all – of his books.
Bookmarks: 8 of 10
Awards: None
Date Finished 11-15-2012Pages: 160

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Purge 2012

I'm not sure what got into me, but I was rather ruthless with this purge. 370+ books - gone! It feels grand, to say the least. Several friends have picked through them, taking what they wanted. But I still have so many left.

I plan to take some to a department at work that has a lending library, others I will take to a book shop for credit and the remainder will be given to a local thrift store.

In addition to purging, I've begun loading all my books onto my LibraryThing account. It's marvelous. I can access it from work, or by cell phone - no more buying books I already own.

If you wish to see what I own, you can look at my catalog here. It is not complete. I have only uploaded about 1/4 of my books, being that it takes time to do so. Also, I haven't gone back through the last load of books and corrected titles are versions. It's a delightful task.

This, of course, makes my goal of reading all my books that much easier. The smallish goal is to have at least 50% read. Once I load all my books into LibraryThing, I shall be able to calculate my read to un-read ratio and then we shall see where I stand.

And that's enough booky goodness for today.

Review: Anastasia at this Address by Lois Lowry

Synopsis: To 13-year-old Anastasia Krupnik, this Single White Male from the magazine personals section sounds perfect. And really, she's not lying when she writes to say she is tall, young, hates smoking, has seen Casablanca so many times she can recite some of it, is quite sure she would like Caribbean vacations, and is definitely ready for romance. And later, when she writes to say she owns a sloop and that she races occasionally, well, that's not exactly a lie either. Tension and hilarity build as Anastasia digs herself deeper into this embroilment. When SWM writes to say he would like to meet her, it looks like the jig is finally up. How will our outspoken, fast-thinking, SWF get herself out of this mess? (from the back of the book)

Review: Lowry is known for her marvelous books, and this is no exception. Anastasia is a believable character and I enjoyed reading about her adventure. Lowry creates solid secondary characters, and a story with the right balance of humor, moral and drama. I would recommend for young girls, age 10-15, and anyone who enjoys a pleasant read.
Bookmarks: 7 of 10
Awards: None
Date Finished: 11-15-2012Pages: 143

Review: Sleeping Ugly by Jane Yolen

Synopsis: Sleeping Beauty, the princess, meets an ugly farmer’s daughter and a clever old witch and learns a lesson about how to treat people – or would, if they ever woke her up.

Review: I enjoyed this retelling of Sleeping Beauty. It’s a quick read with stylized drawings and an amusing tale. I would recommend for children from 6-10, and for anyone who enjoys a light-hearted retelling of an old classic.
Bookmarks: 7 of 10
Awards: None
Date Finished: 11-10-2012
Pages: 16

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Review: Leese Webster by Ursula K. LeGuin

Synopsis: A spider weaves incredible art with her web, but her life changes when humans discover the work.

Review: This was a clever little tale, although nothing extraordinary. Younger children will enjoy the artsy spider and her explorations.
Bookmarks:  6 of 10
Awards: None
Date Finished: 11-10-2012
Pages: 12

Monday, December 3, 2012

Review: Debbie's Dollhouse by Barbara Kunz Loots

Synopsis: Debbie moves to a new town and finds making friends isn’t hard when you share what you love with other people – in her case, a towering dollhouse.

Review: This was a tad saccharine, but the message is worthwhile and I enjoyed reading about the dollhouse.  I’d recommend for young girls, age 6-10.
Bookmarks: 6.5 of 10
Awards: None
Date Finished 11-10-212
Pages: 14

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Review: Unchained by C.J. Barry

Synopsis:  She'll risk everything to clear her family's name... including everything he has. Cidra Faulkner saw her family murdered and her people condemned for a crime they didn't commit. Now a skilled Kin-Sha warrior, she vows to track down the true culprit and exact justice, both for her family and all the Kin-Sha. Intergalactic treasure hunter Grey Stone had no intention of helping Cidra until his old mentor tricked him into it. Now he's trapped into helping the daughter of the man who brought about the downfall of his people -- a woman whose very presence jeopardizes all he's worked for. But honor won't let him say no. And love won't let him turn back. (from the back of the book)

Review: I picked up this book because Barry’s Unmasked was marvelous! This was not as good. The story had solid characters, action-packed plot, a believable villain, a few twists I didn’t see coming and even a dash of humor. My complaint was how quickly the hero and heroine fell in love.  It seemed – rushed and hard to believe. It lacked a depth that made me care - which is spoiled some of the story. I would recommend her other work before this one.

Prude Note: There are several sex scenes, clear but not graphic and easy to skip. I think I skipped all of them because they didn't add anything to the story.
Bookmarks: 6.5 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 11-2-2012
Pages: 210