Monday, July 25, 2011

The Postmistress

I'm not even half way through yet but it's really very good.  I'm reading an ARC I got years ago but getting pregnant, having a baby and not really being coordinated enough to hold an actual book and a baby kept me away.

The point ...

"She believes that if you are in the world without parents or someone who loves you, you are invisible.  That no one sees you, because no one needs to.  No one needs to watch out for you."

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Paris Wife

The Paris Wife, Paula McLain

I wrote a research paper on Ernest Hemingway sometime in high school.  I had just read the Sun Also Rises and he was one of the people on a list we could choose from and he was a great American writer and that appealed to me.

After I wrote my research paper, I never really liked him all that much.

The Paris Wife is a work of fiction focusing on Hem's early life in Chicago and Paris, with his first wife, Hadley Richardson.  The story is told from Hadley's point of view.  She was a good strong, midwesterner, and she was a level, even soul for the tumultuous, manic depressive Hemingway (manic depressive is my diagnosis).  He clung to her after, because she made him feel better and safer after his war years, and his jilting by Agnes, the nurse who healed him.

I mean seriously you could look at all his issues and just talk about how he was looking for a mother figure, and what that means about his mom, but this story is about Hadley.

Anyway.  So Hadley and Hem take off for Paris on next to nothing, live on next to nothing, and he's a reporter working on writing and they meet all sorts of fabulous people in Paris (Gertrude Stein, Scott Fitzgerald) and it's all fun and games and then Hadley gets pregnant on accident.

Things start falling off (at least in the books interpretation) right about then.  Hem was not ready to be a dad and Hadley just weeks before the baby announcement had lost his entire lifes work on a train.  These two events were near each other, and in the book Hemingway blames his loss of trust in Hadley on the loss of the work ... but I'm thinking the baby cramping his style didn't help much either.

Everyone knows Hemingway's story is not a happy one, so this book is not very cheerful.  There are pockets of happiness but after Bumby is born it's all down hill.  He had multiple wives (5) so their marriage was going to end, and it did, with Hemingway's affair with Pauline.  I don't believe that Pauline was his first affair (she certainly wasn't his last) but that's sort of what the book eludes to, at least from Hadley's perspective.

This was difficult to get through because the beginning is so very dry and not much happens as Hem is looking for friends to help him get noticed in the literary community, and as he tries to write his great novel.  After the baby is born it got more interesting for me, and I was able to finish quickly.

Hemingway is one of my favorite writers (probably because I know more about him than the others) but I say that with a caveat; he really was a terrible human being.  This book, though a work of fiction, didn't do anything to change that impression.  Worth reading.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Small Sacrifices

Small Sacrifices, Ann Rule

This is a genre really new to me, true crime.  It was written by a former detective and is about the story of Diane Downs, who in 1983 tried to kill her three children.  She succeeded in killing one, and left the other two critically injured.

This book took me too far down the rabbit hole that is Diane Downs life.  Her past is sad, her family life is sad, and the crazy things she did (who let her become a surrogate mother?!) just hurt my heart.  For the place that I'm in in my life (young new mom) this just was hard to read.  But she evidence (not that we needed any) that women can become addicted to being pregnant, and how everyone is so nice to you and treats you special when you are pregnant.


Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins

This was okay. I liked the first two much better. Peeta's role in this was so minor, and Katniss just isn't very likeable. The resolution of the triangle was believable but HORRIBLE. And seriously, it ended pretty quickly, without everyone understanding what Katniss figured out. That sort of bothered me. I guess we are left to assume that they all did learn. But ...

A very good series, but Peeta carries it in my opinion as the most likable character and his absence in this book is felt. I wish Katniss was a more moral character, but she just isn't. I think I would ahve reservations about my 7th grader reading this without my talking about it. First the whole series is VERY violent and the lead, like I said, doesn't seem very moral or really worth respecting as the leader of a rebellion.

Which brings me to what I think the author was trying to do ... I think the author was trying to say that rebels are just as evil as oppressers? Or at least just as guilty of violence, and Katniss's confusion is supposed to show how bad both sides are? And the fact that the rebels, as soon as they've "won" start implementing the same regime that was in place before, just sort of proves that to me. Even in the rebel camp, the rules there were as bad as the capitol, the leader as bad the oppressive leader they were overthrowing.

The end result of this book, what we're left with, is that human beings suck, and it's better to live on a farm alone than be with people.

Which, for the record, I completely disagree with.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Catching Fire

Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins

Peeta and Katniss have made it out of the Hunger Games, but they are in even more danger from The Capitol.  Their behavior in the arena has made them the match point in the beginnings of an uprising against the Capitol, and President Snow can't have that.  It's the 75th Anniversary of the Hunger Games, and an example needs to be made so that people know that even the strongest among them are subject to the capitol's rules.  As such, Katniss and Peeta are selected to enter the arena again, and surely they can't survive twice.

I don't think I can explain the draw here.  It's a dark and twisted premise.  Teenagers pitted against each other in combat to the death.  This time, they aren't teenagers, it's two teenagers against 22 adults, but the to the death part remains the same.

We still have love triangle crap to deal with, as in the early chapters Gale professes his love for Katniss, and Peeta is forced to propose marriage or risk the Capitol killing their families.

I'm totally on team Peeta, by the way, Gale is great but he isn't Peeta.

Katniss, great character that she is, is not very likeable.  And she's even less likeable in this book.  She wants to run away, she wants to let the Capitol win, she is all about planning to kill people that she's become friends with ... not very likeable at all.  She's comes round, as she did in the last book.

This story is compelling and awesome.  I already bought and started the third one.  Can not wait to see how this whole thing ends.  So glad I don't have to wait for it to be released like those that read these when they first came out.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins

I'm late to the party on this one.  Hunger Games takes place in North America, in a strange dystopian world were The Capitol is in control and the people of the 12 districts live in constant fear of violance from their leaders.  We are introduced to Katniss Everdeen on the morning of The Reaping, when the capitol holds a draft in each district for one girl and one boy to be enlisted to participate in The Hunger Games.  The tributes, as they are called, are age 12 - 18, and are drawn at random.  Slips of paper with the kids name on them are added for each birthday between 12 and 18, and then kids can "get" more slips dropped in the bucket for things like, oh food for their families.

Now the games themselves?  Brutal.  The winner is the last surviver.  The remaining 23 tributes are either dead based on the horrific elements that the gamemakers subject them to, or at the hands of one of the other tributes.

And this is young adult fiction.  I would not let anyone under the age of 16 read this book, and it's recommended for 7th graders.  Not my 7th grader.  Death is very real and the book is brutal and bloody and vicious.  I don't know how the movie (which is coming out in 2012) is going to get a PG-13 rating with some of the subject matter.

That being said ... I loved this book.  It's fascinating in it's brutality.  Though one of the commentors on Amazon nailed it on the head ... this situation would not happen.  As no parent would ever send their child to die so willingly, without a fight.    I know I wouldn't.  And our lead, Katniss, has a salient point in that she will not have children because she will not subject them to the games.

I am positive that other people would have the same thought, and thus the population would quickly dwindle.

But it's fiction, you suspend reality a bit.  And it's YA fiction (sort of) and kids always think they know more than their parents, so it feeds into that.

Katniss is a great character.  She's smart and caring but she's hardened by the life she's been forced to live and her callousness feels very real to me.  I understand it.  She does not give Peeta (the other lead, the male tribute from her district) enough credit for intelligence and that bugs me, and her treatment of him bothered me a lot.  I could not understand why she wouldn't admit that she cared about him as a person, even if she didn't care about him romantically.

It felt immature to me (it's supposed to, I know) that she couldn't figure out how she felt about her hunting partner back home (Gale) and how that related to Peeta.  To me they were two different people that held different roles in her life.  But, we all know how all YA books have to have a love triangle.

Wait ... why is this again?

For once I would like to read just ONE YA book that didn't involve a girl lead who is blindly adored by two boys.  Seriously.  Please?

Also - for those of you that are wondering.  I read so much YA because 1 - I like to know what the kids are reading and 2 - I live in an area that is very kid friendly, and as such our public library gets all the latest teen fiction, but not all the new adult fiction.  Who knew.  And most of what's available on the digital collection (my favorite thing ever) that is current, is young adult.

Monday, April 11, 2011


Spells, Aprilynne Pike

The sequal to Wings starts 6 months after we left Laurel and David and Tam.  Laurel has been summoned to Avalon for faerie training for the summer, and she goes.  She sees Tam a lot during this time, and David not at all.

Insert appropriate love triangle conversations / events here.

After her summer in Avalon, Laurel goes home and starts her normal school year with David.  She has been given new warnings about staying away from trolls, who are out for revenge after they were out manuevered for the property in the last book.  She ignores this, of course, gets in trouble, has to be saved, and then gets in trouble again, and is saved again.

All leaving room for the final installment that's due out in the fall.

This was as good as Wings.  The relationships are better than in some other YA.  But again, I grow tired of love triangles and young girl characters that everyone just seems to fall all over because they are oh so beautiful.  The foundation, I think, has been laid for Laurel to end up with Tam and David to end up with their friend who's name escapes me.  But, who knows.

If the third one is at the library I'll read it.  There is more sexuality in this book.  So not for tweens, in my mind.

Saturday, April 2, 2011


Wings, Aprilynne Pike

Laurel has moved to Crescent City with her parents and has started her first year of main stream school.  She has been homeschooled the first fifteen years of her life.  At school she meets David, a very nice young boy who is very nice to her.  Midway through the fall, Laurel has some strange stuff happen and ends up discovering she's a faerie, and not human at all, but a plant.  And that there are trolls out there that want to own the land her old house is on, and trolls are bad and kill faeries.  She meets Tamani, a faerie sentry that protects her old house, and who is also very attractive and who is also in love with her.

This was a quick read.  Took no time at all, and it was pleasant.  Laurel is cute and David and Tam are fun.  Faerie background bores the living daylights out of me.  Faeries hold very little interest to me.  But, this was easy to get through so it must not have been that bad.  I also picked up the second one (like I've said before - all YA is a triology now) from the library so ... if you're looking for a quick fun, YA ... Wings is a good bet.

I'm always up to looking at what the kids are reading.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Scent of Rain and Lightning

The Scent of Rain and Lightning, by Nancy Pickard

Jody Linder is famous in small town Rose, KS because when she was three years old, during a bad Kansas storm, her father was murdered, and her mother mysteriously disappeared.  But then 23 years after the incident, the main arrested and sent to prison is released, raising a whole bunch of new questions about what really happened that night.

There was a lot I liked about this.  Thunderstorms in Kansas kind of have their own special magic.  Maybe it's that way in all of the Midwest?  I don't know.  I am familiar with Kansas storms, so I liked that part of this book.

The ranch parts were interesting, which I know a little bit about (very, very little) just because of a friend of mine who's father does that sort of thing.

The original story was great.  After we got through the back story into the "present" it sort of got hard.  Jody was not likeable.  The entire Linder families single minded obsession with Billy being the murderer just made them all appear stupid and ... not racist (cause race isn't a factor) but elitest?  The author wanted us to think they were good people because "oh look they hired troubled youth out at their ranch but poor Billy couldn't be saved," but I just didn't buy it.  The author also took it a bit far.  Billy was such a bad seed he was almost a cartoon character.

It did not help that the reader knew Billy hadn't done it from very early on.

I think my public defender (in Kansas courts no less) friends should read this book.  They'd be appalled. Actually maybe they shouldn't read it, as it is sort of appalling how the rich family in the small town railroaded the poor, lower class guy with no family and he spent 23 years in jail because they were CERTAIN he was guilty.

The ending wasn't satisfactory.  I wanted some sort of vindication for Billy, but again, the cartoon character comes into play and he was just really guilty, just not of the particular crime he was accused of.

I gave this three stars on good reads, because it was interesting.  But not four because there were problems.

Saturday, March 19, 2011


Fallen, by Lauren Kate

Lucinda Price is sent to a reformatory school after a suspicious fire kills a boy in her class.  Here she meets a bunch of crazy people, including two boys, Cam and Daniel.  Cam is instantly nice to her and Daniel is a jerk.  Of course she likes Daniel best.

But the school kids are all dysfunctional and have wierd secrets.  And Luce has dreams about wings and flying and bright lights and sees scary shadows during the day, coming to get her.  Come to find out the secrets involve fallen angels, a 100 years battle between good and evil, and an old rule that angels can't fall in love with humans; ever.  Lest the powers that be get mad and the human dies.

So, as with all things YA lately, this is a triology (mayhap a series?  I think there are four?).  And that always makes the first book feel like a preface chapter, versuses a stand alone book.  Word to publishers: please quit taking books that only need one and turning them into three.  You artificially lengthen them and we, the readers, know it.

That being said, Fallen was good.  Not Harry Potter good, or even Twilight good, but good.  I didn't care for the way the author spelled the peoples names (how would you pronounce Arriane? Or even Luce?  Is that Luc-y?  Or Luce as in Loose?).  But the plot was inventive.  The common criticism I've read is that nothing happens until the final two chapters.  Sort of true.  Nothing is resolved.  In fact, I have more questions at the end of the book than I did in the middle.  Is Cam a good guy?  Or a bad guy?

But, like I said, it's a triology.  Torment is already out, and Passion comes out in June.  If I can get them from the library (how I read Fallen) I'll continue.  If not ...

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Help

The Help, Kathryn Stockett

It's 1962 in Jackson, MS.  Skeeter Phelan came home from Ole Miss trying to  be a writer, and a woman in NYC advises her to find a good idea.  Skeeter decides to write a novel about the black maids that raise white children in Jackson, and what happens to those children and those women after that caregiver relationship ends.  And how the maids are treated by the white women who pay them.

This book was really good.  I enjoyed reading about Aibileen and how she cares for the babies and Minny was hillarious and heartbreaking.

This time period is always hard for me to read about, as it just seems so foreign.  Like another planet.  Not the same country that I live in just 50 years earlier.  The segregation, the racism, the crazy Junior League women who think they run the world.  Oh wait those women still exist.

I tease but it was hard to read.  Worth reading, but hard to read.  I've recommended it to the bookclub I'm in.

My only complaint would be the ending, though I'm not sure why.  I found myself turning another page, looking for the rest.  I don't know what would have made me happy.  But it was so sad and heartbreaking.  I really felt for the characters.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Something Blue

Something Blue, by Emily Giffin

Darcy Rhone thought she had it all figured out: the more beautiful the girl, the more charmed her life. Never mind substance. Never mind playing by the rules. Never mind karma. But Darcy's neat, perfect world turns upside down when her best friend, Rachel, the plain-Jane good girl, steals her fiance, while Darcy finds herself completely alone for the first time in her life with a baby on the way.

Darcy tries to recover, fleeing to her childhood friend living in London and resorting to her tried-and-true methods for getting what she wants. But as she attempts to recreate her glamorous life on a new continent, Darcy finds that her rules no longer apply.

It is only then that Darcy can begin her journey toward self-awareness, forgiveness, and motherhood. Something Blue is a novel about one womans surprising discoveries about the true meaning of friendship, love, and happily-ever-after. It's a novel for anyone who has ever, even secretly, wondered if the last thing you want is really the one thing you need.  FROM GOODREADS.
I read Something Borrowed for a book club in December and just finished this second one yesterday.  I enjoyed this one much more than I did the first.  And I think that's because I could root for the characters in this story, and in the first one I kind of thought they all stunk.
Darcy's transformation was believable, and her romance was too.  I liked it bunches.  The pregnancy stuff was interesting to me too, but I think that's just because I can relate to that stage of life.
Definitely a good beachy read or if you want something fun and feel-goody.  You have to read the first one though, because this does not stand alone.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

ReReads: The Host and Breaking Dawn

So my book club choose The Host for the book to read for the February meeting.  I had read it two years ago (see linked review) but I wanted to reread it so I could talk intelligently about it, and with details.  I just finished it again today.

But before I read that one, I reread Breaking Dawn, because it was available for download to my iphone from the public library, and I've needed an Edward fix.

I have to say, I enjoyed Breaking Dawn a lot more the second time.  I could still do without just about everything after she turns into a vampire.  Actually, I can pinpoint it better than that.  Everything after Irina sees the baby in the forest.  Everything after that is crap.

But the 500 pages before that were enjoyable.

The Host, I enjoyed less the second time around.  I remembered LOOOVING it so I think I had no where to go but down.  I still liked it.  But the simplicity of it really bothered me.  Meyer took such the lazy way out with the science of the medicine, specifically.  It really bothered me.  "Smooth?"  Really?  "No Pain?"  Really?  And even when decribing other planets, she kept saying over and over again, "the word for it in this language is, chases bears by river, but it has a much prettier name in their language."  Being able to say that is sort of a cop out, isn't it?

Still ... I enjoyed it again.  Would recommend it again.  The wierd love quaderangle is fun.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


Matched, by Ally Condie

Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander's face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate . . . until she sees Ky Markham's face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.

The Society tells her it's a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she's destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can't stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society's infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she's known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.  - From GoodReads

This is probably the best book I've read in a while.  At least since November.  The society was fascinating but also, scarily realistic.  I could easily see how some of the things we're even doing today evolve into the programs talked about in this book.  (Which is of course, I think, how the author gets there herself).

Cassia was really likeable, and I grew with her.  From her blind acceptance of this is how things her, to the point in which she goes, "hey this isn't fair," to her desire to resist.  It all flowed beautifully.  The relationships were just very well written.

And best of those, the love story was believable and I saw it develop organically.  It made SENSE given the scenarios the teenagers were in.  That was so refreshing.  Most YA novels these days, girl sees guy and WHAM - instantly just loves him.

This book was not like that.

Also, I know the summary sort of eludes to a love triangle.  But it was not like that.  Cassia did not start out loving Ky, she knew she was Matched with Xander.  She wanted to start her life with Xander, she was excited about that.  But as her friendship with Ky grows, she starts to realize that Xander was never HER choice, someone had choosen him for her, from the very beginning.  She doesn't really have a "I love him, no I love him" dialogue (which I appreciated).  The only conflict (I thought) is between her desire to maintain the status quo, and find her independence.

My other favorite part ... that learning to write is the turning point.  Throughout history, it seems to me that writing, books, learning are the first things that people start to demand when they want to be free.  It was cool.  I don't even know how to explain what I'm thinking here.

This book makes me think about banning books and burning books.  Governments that control people are always burning books, keeping people ignorant.  You can not be free and keep people from books.  Any books.  I also found it intriguing that the Society picked 100 books, 100 poems, 100 paintings, 100 songs ... and that was all there was.  So sad.

As with all books these days, this is part of a trilogy (why make money on one when you can make money on three - rolls eyes).  The second one comes out in the Fall.  I don't know how I'm going to stand it.

Because I HAVE to find out what happens next.  Seriously.

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Matchmakers

The Matchmakers, Jennifer Colgan

This was free via Amazon for the Kindle, which is super fun.  It got good reviews so I said sure, why not.  Something to read while rocking Grady.

Our story is, Calliope is a Faerie who's been punished for ... something.  Anyway, her punishment is that she has to match three people in true love before the Oak Moon or she will lose love forever.  Freya, the Faerie Queen, tells her she has to have Nick (human) help her or he will lose love forever too.  Why, I never quite worked out.  But, there it is.

Parts of the writing were a bit rough and elementary.  And I'm noticing that these freebies or (independent works) are not as well edited as the glossier, main stream tomes.  Which is okay, I can move past most of them.  And this book by far was better edited than some I've skimmed through.

It was a sweet story and, aside from one scene, surprisingly chaste.  Which I appreciated.  You never know what you're going to get.  I'd look for other work by this lady.  At the moment she's not my favorite ... but the price is right and it was entertaining and it didn't hurt to get through it.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


Shiver, by Maggie Stiefvater

the cold. 
Grace has spent years watching the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf—her wolf—watches back. He feels deeply familiar to her, but she doesn't know why. 

the heat. 
Sam has lived two lives. As a wolf, he keeps the silent company of the girl he loves. And then, for a short time each year, he is human, never daring to talk to Grace...until now. 

the shiver. 
For Grace and Sam, love has always been kept at a distance. But once it's spoken, it cannot be denied. Sam must fight to stay human—and Grace must fight to keep him—even if it means taking on the scars of the past, the fragility of the present, and the impossibility of the future  From Good Reads 

I don't remember how I found this book.  But I saw it and wanted to read it.  Of course, in a post-Twilight world there are lots of comparables.  But Maggie Stiefvater says she wrote this before Twilight was written (who knows) and I didn't see enough similarities to think anything.  Vampire and werewolf stories have been around for a really, really long time.  I think it's funny how Stephenie Meyer gets credit for the current craze of paranormal romances when Dracula was written in 1897 and Anne Rice has been making money off this stuff for decades too.


I listened to this book on audio.  It was read by two actors, which irritated the heck out of me.  The book is told from two perspectives, Grace and Sams, so I guess that's why they did that.  But oh my the reader for Sam ... his inflection was not good.  So that made it difficult for me to like him as a character.  Eventually I had to focus on the words and less on the person saying them.  And I was able to get passed it and enjoy the story.

To that end, I really like the middle and end sections, the beginning was wicked slow.  And it seemed like there were a ton of story lines introduced with very little explained.  I think that will be rectified some in the later books (it's a triology).

By the end of the book I really liked Grace and Sam.  But my favorite character would have to be Isabelle.  She's hillarious.  I'll probably read Linger.  When it's available at the library.

Fans of Twilight will really like this book, I think.  But I'd stay away from the audio version.  The readers' distract from the story.

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Phsyick Book of Deliverance Dane

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, by Katherine Howe

Connie Goodwin is a Graduate student at Harvard.   After a phone call from her mother, she ends up having to move into her Grandmother's old house in Marblehead, to fix it up and sell it so they can pay the back taxes on it.  She finds an old Bible in the house that leads her to the name Deliverance Dane.  When she talks to her advisor about her discovery, he pushes her to research it thoroughly.

Turns out, Deliverance Dane was accused of witchcraft during the Salem witch trials.

The story takes us through Connie's research, with "interludes" (chapters) from Deliverance's (and her ancestors) point of view.

I really liked this.  I listened to the audiobook, and I swear it's a completely different experience sometimes.  But I really liked the interlude chapters and wish there were more of those, and less of Connie?  Connie's chapters were just okay, whereas the colonial Massachusetts parts were really good.

The love interest was okay.  The nose ring threw me.  But whatever.  He was an interesting dude.

The author is obviously very knowledgable.  And in the postscript we learn that Katherine Howe is actually related to two of the accused witches.  Which I sort of figured when she said one of the girls names was Sarah Howe.

At any rate.  This was definitely worth reading.  I had avoided it because of the cover art.  It reminded me of all those Nicholas Flemmel books (who's mentioned in this book) and just eh.  But mom recommended it and it was indeed very good.