Tuesday, April 29, 2014

To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether LewisTo Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis by Andra Watkins
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Genre: Historical Fiction/Fantasy/Paranormal

My Likes About This Book:

*The unique way the author wove the historical character of Meriwether Lewis into the story, it was very Highway to Heaven.

*All the different people who Merry and Em meet along the way who risk everything to help them. We all have those moments when we question if there are really any good people left in the world and when we are down and out this is when we question it the most so those that helped Merry and Em just to help restored a little humanity to the human race.

*A happy ending who doesn’t like those!

My Dislikes About This Book:

*As the chapters switched it was hard to keep up with who was narrating each part since there were at least three separate narrators, this confused me for more than it should have which made me at first want to put the book down but after awhile I got used to it and figuring out who was narrating, but I shouldn’t have had to.

*There is talk of violence of a sexual nature about a child that was just so hard to read about.

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Saturday, April 26, 2014

Dead in the Water: A Marjory Fleming ThrillerDead in the Water: A Marjory Fleming Thriller by Aline Templeton (DI Marjory Fleming #5)
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Genre: Mystery/Crime/Thriller

My Likes About This Book:

1.)All my favorite characters are back to work in this one making for an always amusing read due to the comradeship between the series mainstays and well just their odd sense of humors.

2.)Marjory Fleming Thrillers can be read as a series but they are written wonderfully as a stand alone read also. The author adds in a bit of dialogue so you know what you need to know that might have happened in past books in the series but it is not overwhelming which is excellent for those who chose to read these books as a series.

3.)Another great twist in the plot! I didn’t have this one figured out at all not until it was revealed who killed who was then the mystery solved.

4.)Glad Big Marge was able to look into the past to connect with her dad in her own way.

My Dislikes About This Book:

1.)I found the connection between Big Marge’s house helper, Karolina, and Kasper, a Polish troublemaker to be semi out of place in the story, but do not fret about this because later in the story your shown the connections and then you go “Oh, thats what thats all about.” So don’t not finish the book because of the confusion there is quite a connection in the end.

2.)A couple of dry pats that seemed to run on a little longer than they needed to, in my opinion.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Idea of Him: A NovelThe Idea of Him: A Novel by Holly Peterson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Genre: Contemporary Chick-lit

My Likes About This Book
The characters in this story don’t just live on the page or in a scene, they are well-formed, they have a back story to them. When characters are not well-formed they seem more like actors acting out a badly written play instead of as real as you can get to real people, luckily this book has all the well-formed characters and less of the actors acting badly, these characters are as real as someone you bump into at the supermarket.
Allie’s back story is incredibly sad but also very raw, out of all the parts in the book these are my favorites because it shows how our experiences shape us and effect how we allow others to treat us.
I was pleasantly surprised at the end of the book when we learn Jackie’s motivations for doing what she did.
I liked that two women banded together to bring about justice. Very Batman (Jackie) and Robin (Allie).
The theme that I found in this story is that sometimes us ladies feel we need to do it all; we work, take care of the kids and the home basically solo, and all the while supporting out husbands and their careers all while smiling. Hopefully that didn’t sound to bitter but this is more the norm than the exception so there it is.

My Dislikes About This Book
Tommy, couldn’t stand this guy or the scenes he was in, he was to sexually intense and it just felt inappropriate to me. Allie’s past is talked about in the scenes with Tommy the most so even though those flashes into the past were my favorite parts they ended, I was back in the present, and Tommy was just as annoyingly gross.
The relationship of Allie and James is totally confusing, I understand they survived something horrible together but jeesh cut me a break.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Sinners and the Sea: The Untold Story of Noah's WifeSinners and the Sea: The Untold Story of Noah's Wife by Rebecca Kanner
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Genre: Christian Historical Fiction

A person’s faith is as unique as we all are from each other, sure there are some things that are alike in humans but there are still many differences, I think faith is the same way. Let me explain a little further so there is no confusion, you read a verse of scripture with a friend that friend says this verse means one thing while you feel that it means another, that is our own individual faith, one that cannot be found in a church but one that resides within us and is an extension of a personal relationship with whatever higher being we believe in, that is what drew me to Sinners and the Sea. I believe in many things but I still struggle through faith in things that cannot be proven scientifically which is another reason I picked up this book, but enough about this one to the review!

I really enjoyed this book. This is the first time that I have read a historical fiction novel that pulls characters and events from the Bible so I was a little skeptical when I started to read it and even though it was not as action packed as those easy to read for entertainment reads I still kept continuously turning the pages.

First daughter, than wife and last mother. We are all defined by our relationships and our narrator is no different but she ends up being the beginning of well a whole new beginning, evolutionary wise. Scorned, shunned, scared, and unsure our narrator grows into the role that she is to play in the lord’s plan. So even though the odds stacked against her for the port wine stain on her face, which pretty much everyone deems the responsibility of a demon that lives inside our narrator , she overcomes, her differences made her stronger.

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Monday, April 14, 2014

Saigon LaundrySaigon Laundry by Hughes Keenan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Genre: Mystery/Crime/Thriller

Saigon Laundry will take you from the streets that cops won’t even get out their cars on to that of the art world and the wealthy who surround it. You will read some things that will turn your stomach and somethings that will restore your faith in people. A sex and violence filled mystery mixed with a little bit of the movie, The House of Usher (2006), it had me both intrigued and a little horrified at the same time.

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Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Collector of Dying Breaths (Reincarnationist, #6)The Collector of Dying Breaths by M.J. Rose (Reincarnationist #6)
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Genre: Historical Fiction

* This review may contain some spoilers.

A love for all things alchemy first drew me to this book. Potions. Poisons. Perfumes. Who could resist? Add in past lives, a Medici, and a myth, well, no one could resist.

The story begins when Rene le Florentin, the perfumer to Catherine de Medici, is writing a letter to his son to be read at the time of his death, in the letter Rene is reminiscing about the last 40 years of his life. The author sets a powerful scene of Rene exualting that if he had not been called a murderer on that night those 40 years ago that then "there might not be any perfume in Paris today." (pg. 13)

Rene rambles on about love. Not young love but a love that comes to those later in life and how a love like that can be the cruelest sort. He talks of his one true love, Isabeau, and how he dreams of her. The way that he speaks about her, with her silken skin and "her own natural perfume richer and more luxurious that anything..." he "...ever could have created and bottled." (pg.14) You can feel how tormented and lonely Rene has become.

The Isabeau of Rene's dreams teases him that once he finishes the elixir than and only than can he have all of her. He is driven a bit mad about it, rambling on about the cruelty of the fates for giving him " love at that moment after a lifetime of holding it back." (pg.14) He wants revenge on the fates, those crones, who made love walk into his life at all just to yank it out from under him when true happiness was within his grasp.

Throughout the story we the reader are zigzagged across time, from the present to the 1500's, but you will not find yourself lost because each time frame is marked either in the chapter heading or is transitioned well in the story so there shouldn't be any confusion as to what time period you are reading about. I pinpoint most of the back story of Rene, a character from the past, in the beginning because his story is interconnected with a character of the present, Jac.

Rene's story starts for us in 1573, all alone after the death of his mentor Dom Serapino, a monk and the chief apothecary of a monastery in Florence, Rene is accused of poisoning his mentor and is handed over to the local authorities since he was only an apprentice to a monk not a monk himself so the monastery could not punish him. Rene is languishing in jail but just in the nick of time comes a beautiful lady that pulls Rene from out of the pits of the jail and takes her on a journey to France, this lady was Catherine de Medici. Catherine is being wed to the second in the line for the throne of France and knows that she will need as many allies from her previous life that she can take along with her. Rene cannot stay in Florence for obvious reasons and this salvation that Catherine provides Rene makes him loyal to her to the very end. But Catherine didn't just bring Rene to France for his perfumes her plans looked towards the future and Catherine knew that she would need Rene's knowledge of poisons to hold her place in the French court. Rene does his work for Catherine and even has his own little shop where he sells his wares to others, he becomes independently wealthy, but Rene still cannot get the last experiment that him and Dom Serapino were working on right before he died, it was for an elixir that would reanimate someone's last dying breath.

Isabeau walks into Rene's life, she is one of Catherine's ladies-in-waiting and also one of her best spies, and Rene falls instantly in love. Isabeau of course cannot wed without Catherine's permission but Catherine always seems to have a need for Isabeau always blocking the way for a marriage between Rene and Isabeau. Soon scandal erupts in the court and Catherine's daughter is right in the middle of it and Isabeau is the one that ratted her out to Catherine. The daughter of course finds out who betrayed her and she extracts revenge with the help of Rene who is completely ignorant that he is creating poisoned gloves that will kill the woman he loves.

While Rene's story is unfolding another story this one in the present is unfolding alongside Rene's story and that story is Jac L'Etolie's story.

Jac L'Etolie is no ordinary woman her abilities to see the connection between people in the present with the lives they've lived in the past will lead her on a dangerous journey to uncover past secrets that will hopefully enable her to complete Rene's elixir to reanimate a person's dying breath so that they may once again live.

Jac has recently suffered the lose of her brother, Robbie. Unable to bear the grief Jac finds herself aimlessly wandering through daily life in a fog always searching out her brother's presence. Before his death Robbie was working on some experiments for Melinoe, an eccentric billionaire, who want to live forever. Robbie's death puts a stop to these experiments unless Melinoe can convince Jac to carry on Robbie's work. So what made first Robbie and than Jac so perfect to work on the elixir, well they are perfumers, actually they come from a long line of perfumers and their company is world famous for its perfumes. So like Rene both Robbie and Jac may hold the key to unlocking the mystery of the elixir so that death wouldn't really be the end. Melinoe, accompanied by Serge, her step-brother, try to convince Jac of the importance of the elixir and that there is even the possibility of bringing Robbie back from death.

Jac is not only interested in the possibility of bringing her brother back from death. She is also fascinated by how this elixir is a part of her past and her present through her past lives. Continuing episodes of her past lives play out for Jac like a movie would to us bringing her closer each day to finding out how to complete the elixir. Jac soon finds that Melione and Robbie's quest had included many people from her own life including her ex-fiance Griffin, who was helping Robbie translate some of the strange symbols on the artifacts surrounding the myth of the elixir. Jac soon links the connection between her life now and the past life regressions she has been experiencing and it doesn't take long for her to compare her and Griffin to Isabeau and Rene.

Griffin starts to suspect that Melinoe is more dangerous than she seems and that her obsession with the elixir is putting Jac in danger. Jac figures out that the elixir is more death than life. Robbie broke one of the vials right before he took sick, the elixir is what killed him. Melinoe however refuses to believe it and decides the best way to get to Jac is to threaten her, so Melinoe kidnaps Griffin and threatens harm to him unless Jac does what Melinoe wants. Unable to escape because Melinoe has trapped her in the house as well Jac sees no end to the situation they find themselves in. A fight ensues when Melinoe throws a lit candelabra at Jac and soon the chateau is engulfed in flames. Jac, Serge and Griffin all get out but Melinoe is inside and Serge cannot bear it he runs back inside the burning house. Serge and Melinoe never come out.

Griffin and Jac well I am not going to give that away since I gave away pretty much the rest of the story but I will leave you with this quote:

Love, like energy, never dies. You lose people only in the moment. But time is a long road that circles back. At some point the missing turns into love and returns. It's returned now.

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Saturday, April 05, 2014

The Here and NowThe Here and Now by Ann Brashares
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Genre: YA Sci-fi/Time Travel

*This review may contain some spoilers.

Love as a teenager is never easy, but add time travel, a race to change a horrible future, and a dangerous cult-like community and love becomes damn near impossible but in the midst of all this Prenna and Ethan still find that one thing that everyone needs, love.

Everyone loves a love story. Especially a story about forbidden love, for the slow seduction, the tease so to speak, keeps all of us turning the pages, sometimes even skipping over the dull parts to get to the good ones. The Here And Now is one of these reads. A great guilty pleasure that will have you devouring almost every word (there are a few dull parts, at least in this reader’s opinion).

This love starts like all love stories, when boy meets girl, but this girl just appears our of thin air, well to be a little more technical she walks through time, she’s a traveler. Disoriented and naked Prenna and Ethan’s first encounter is not the sort that conjures an image of how a great romance should start, but there are many unique aspects to Prenna and Ethan’s relationship. No sooner does Prenna than she is off to find the others for she didn’t come to 2010 alone. Than is dumbfounded but he will not be able to get Prenna’s image out of his mind, including the number 51714 that was on her arm. What does it all mean? How is any of what he saw even possible?

{This occurs first thing in the story and that number has me wanting to know more.}

Fast forward four years later to 2014 and Prenna is assimilating herself into society, which includes going to high school, the same school that Ethan goes to, and since she started two years ago her and Ethan have formed their own type of friendship. Much of how Ethan and Prenna’s relationship forms and develops is based on the community rules for travelers, like Prenna. They are:

1.) We must uphold absolute allegiance to the community, to it’s survival and it’s safety, and accept the guidance of our leaders and counselors without question or discussion.

2.) We must respect time’s integrity and her natural sequence.

3.) We must never employ the experience gained in postremo to knowingly intervene in that natural sequence.

4.) We must never challenge that sequence to avoid misfortune or death.

5.) We must uphold absolute discretion about postremo, the immigration, and the community at all times and in all places.

6.) We are forbidden to seek medical attention or submit to medical care of any kind outside the community.

7.) We must use only the services provided by our medical team in all circumstances and to employ the emergency protocol if required.

8.) We must avoid entering the historical archival record, whether in print, photography, or video.

9.) We must avoid places of worship.

10.) We must make strenuous effort to fit into society and not to bring attention to ourselves or our community in any manner.

11.) We must avoid contact with any individual know to us from postremo who did not take part in the immigration.

12.) We must never, under any circumstances, develop a physically or emotionally intimate relationship with any person outside the community.

(pgs. 13-14)
All of these rules place a strain on Prenna and how she can act towards others that are naturals and not travelers like herself. Soon though Prenna is going to have to go against all the rules in order to change the horrendous future that she is from but to also break apart the control that head community leaders have on her and the other travelers. Ethan of course comes along for the ride and him and Prenn must stop a murder from happening. There seems to be a connection between this murder and why everyone in the future has to worry about deadly mosquitoes.

{I know I really only had to share rules 11 and 12 with you to really explain why Ethan and Prenn’s friendship is so strange, but I wanted to emphasis the others so that you can really imagine the strain placed on Prenn.}

Ethan and Prenn soon trace down Mona Ghali, who they must save from being murdered by Andrew Baltos, well, that is at least what they think. Despite their best efforts Mona still dies and Andrew is arrested. With some clues from Andrew, Ethan and Prenn find out that it wasn’t Mona that they were suppose to save it was actually Ethan he was suppose to die that night to. As more details become exposed Prenna and Ethan find out that Andrew was the very first traveler and that through intimate relationships with some naturals that he is the one who is the carrier of the “blood plague” that decimates the future. Prenna is able to bring down the totalitarian rule of certain community members and even though the future begins to look not so bleak Prenn knows that until they find out more answers about how the disease is passed that her and Ethan can never be together.

{See this is the tease part I was talking about, is it not a killer? Hate when this happens. Oh and that number on Prenna’s arm when she first appeared, 51714, was the date that Ethan was supposed to have died and the fate of the world would have changed.}

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Wednesday, April 02, 2014

The Storied Life of A.J. FikryThe Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Genre: Contemporary Fiction

When we first walk into Island Books with Amelia there is something foreboding in the air. A living ghost is shadowing everything with his grief and if he doesn’t do something about it soon, A.J. Fikry, could lose his bookshop sooner rather than later.

Amelia walks into A.J. Fikry’s life as a sales rep for Knightley Press and he is far from an easy sell.

{I thought I was picky about what I read but than A. J. Fikry taught me what being truly picky is and I no longer classify myself as a picky snob. He’s brash and condescending to Amelia and I found myself not caring for A. J. very much in the beginning.}

After throwing his dinner against the wall and getting truly smashed off a bottle of wine, A.J. wakes up and finds that his precious copy of Tamerlane by Edgar Allan Poe is missing or heaven forbid has been stolen. He rushes to the police but soon finds that his precious book may be lost forever along with the money it would have brought in so that he could just give up on the bookshop and retire.

Finding it increasing, “difficult to be here all the time” (pg. 35), A.J. is finding the death of his wife, Nic, to be just to much for him to accept as his new reality and who can blame him for acting the way he does towards others and his own life.

{I know if Jeremy, my husband, died I wouldn’t even want to interact with people so at least A.J. is putting up some kind of effort even though it is only a half hearted attempt.}

That is until a package of the small human variety is left in his bookshop just for him.

Maya, a precious two-year-old, is left in A.J.’s book shop with a note that says;

To the Owner of This Bookstore:

This is Maya. She is twenty-five months old. She is

VERY SMART, exceptionally verbal for her age, and a

sweet, good girl. I want her to grow up to be a reader. I

want her to grow up in a place with books and among

people who care about those kinds of things. I love her

very much, but I can no longer take care of her. The father

cannot be in her life, and I do not have a family that can help, I am desperate.


Maya’s Mother

(pg. 49)

Why did Maya’s mom choose this place? Why Alice Island? To leave her baby? And to kill herself?

Marian Wallace’s body washes up on shore of the Alice Island Sound and it didn’t take long to connect the dots to realize that Marian was Maya’s mother.

Soon another inner struggle presents itself to A.J. , should he or should he not take on Maya as his daughter? After deciding to become Maya’s guardian A.J. needs a lot of help so Ismay, A.J.’s sister-in-law, steps up along with other woman in the community to help A.J. in the raising of baby Maya. Even though parenthood scares the bejesus out of A. J. his love for Maya grows in leaps and bounds everyday.

{I love how the author ties in titles of numerous books throughout the text, these references really show how a bookshop works, that a live person can ask you a question and then miraculously lead you to a book that you buy and then fall in love with, that is the power of a true bookshop one that Amazon cannot buy. }

Amelia is still in our story, she comes and goes with each of the publishing seasons and presents and orders books for A. J. but that is all it is until A. J. finds his heart thawing and his thoughts straying to Amelia constantly. A lunch halts A.J.’s idea when he finds out that Amelia is engaged. Discouraged A.J. goes back into the same mundane relationship with Amelia, that of bookshop owner and sales rep. Coincidentally this thawing of the heart doesn’t just stop when Amelia reveals that she is to be married, no A. J.’s heart’s thawing is not because of Amelia it is Maya’s doing. Pretty soon Island Book’s is running book clubs and having events and as A. J. lets more people into his life he also lets different types of books in as well.

{Amelia is one of those girls though out of their twenties they still have a sweet outlook on life and they were eclectic vintage clothes, and some may see them as weird I see them as creative and whimsical individuals and this is why Amelia is my favorite character in this book.}

Amelia hurts her ankle and is unable to get to Alice Island for her and A. J. appointment to go over this seasons publishing list, so they go over the list on Skype, and A. J. and her talk some but even after the call ended A. J. cannot get Amelia out of his head. So he decides to act and him, Maya, Lambiase, who is the chief of police for the island and A. J. ‘s best friend, go to Providence to see Amelia. Love of course ensues and life works out for A.J., Maya, and Amelia for awhile. One of their friends however hasn’t been so lucky and after a fight with her husband Daniel about if he could be Maya’s biological father, Ismay and him get into a horrible accident and Daniel dies and Ismay is badly injured. After a hard recovery Ismay finds that the Island’s Chief of Police, Lambiase, has set his sights on winning her heart.

{I love that Lambiase and Ismay get together, ssshhh, don’t tell anyone.}

After a few dates Lambiase soon finds himself an overnight guest and is left in Ismay’s bedroom while she is making him breakfast the next morning. So of course he snoops!

{Don’t tsk at this part you know we have all snooped in a relationship before, so let’s be truthful about ourselves when it come to this because Lambiase’s actions were very human.}

He does come upon something of interest, a child’s book back, which is weird because Ismay has no children. Opening the bag reveals something everyone gave up on years ago, but ever the tender heart, Lambiase afraid to upset the balance in more that one person’s life puts the bag and its contents back where he found them.

{Unbelievable happiness is hard to come by and when you have it and something or someone bursts that bubble on you it is even harder to deal with because there was so much happiness.}

A.J. finds out that he’s sick, really sick, and their happiness bubble gets busted. He needs surgery but lacks funds so somehow an “old friend” that he thought he would never see again mysteriously finds its way back to him and even though it is marked it still brings a good price at auction so that A. J. can have his surgery and radiation.

When nothing seems to reduce the size of the tumor A.J. prepares himself and the ones he loves for his death. Particularly Maya whom he writes to.

{These letters are really short story recommendations that A. J. wants her to read so she understands the life lessons he slips into each letter which also correspond with the story. Each of these letters are found at the beginning of each chapter. Each chapter is also named after the short story that A. J. is writing about, there are: Lamb to the Slaughter by Roald Dahl, The Diamond as Big as the Ritz by F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Luck of Roaring Camp by Bret Harte, What Feels Like the World by Richard Bausch, A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor, The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County by Mark Twain, Girls in Their Summer Dresses by Irwin Shaw, A Conversation with My Father by Grace Paley, A Perfect Day for Bananafish by J. D. Salinger, The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe, Ironhead by Aimee Bender, When We Talk about When We Talk about Love by Raymond Carver , and The Bookseller by Roald Dahl. These are A.J.’s way of saying goodbye to Maya but that he is still there for her even after death.}

Towards the end A. J. gets it right when he says:

Maya, we are what we love. We are that we love.

We aren’t the things we collect, acquire, read.

We are, for as long as we are here, only love.

The things we loved. The people we loved.

And there, I think these really do live on.

(pg. 251)

A. J. dies and I cry. The bookshop sits empty of life like it just lost its best friend and I cry.

My heart gladdens a bit when Ismay and Lambiase buy the bookstore.

{I start to really think about that happiness bubble burst I talked about earlier, about the hard things being truly harder on those that have true happiness, and then I think about A.J.’s life and I realize that he had an amazing life and no matter the hardships and sicknesses that faced him later in life he still knocked living out of the park.}

{This is a truly amazing book and if you love anything to do with books and reading this is a must read!}

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