Saturday, December 30, 2017

Stone Baby by Michelle Sacks

Stone Baby stories
Author: Michelle Sacks
Publisher: TriQuarterly Books
Publish date: December 15, 2017

As a debut novel by Michelle Sacks, this collection of 12 Stories scans the world. We first read the story of Kingdom, a man fleeing from war in Africa who becomes a hired mercenary. Each story has a main character and a few minor characters. Those minor characters tend to turn into the main character in the next story or somewhere down the line in other stories intersecting with other characters lives. 

It took me many stories to finally decide I liked the stories over all. It was a little too grungy for my tastes. Too many violent scenes and language for me, however the stories themselves were creative, thought-provoking and definitely something different than anything else I’ve read. Each character is fleeing from something and gaining an understanding of a trait they needed to learn. I appreciated the personal development and/or lack of personal development each main character experiences in each of the 12 stories. I think my favorite story of the collection was the title’s own story- Stone Baby. It was emotionally distraught, soul searching and happy all at the same time. You will live through so many emotions reading these stories.

Ms. Sacks does a good job of visualization, character development and care-ability (or making you interested in the stories themselves) throughout the collection.

If you love to read dark, deep, developmental stories this book is for you. I gave the book a 3 out of 5 because I said, it was just a little too dark for me. 

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Endurance by Scott Kelly, book review

by Scott Kelly
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Publish Date: October 17, 2017
As someone who has attended so many shuttle launches (one of which was Mr. Kelly’s flight in 1999) and landings and dreams of what its like to be in space, I was stoked to find out I was being given Endurance by Scott Kelly to review.

I find outer space fascinating I follow the flight paths of the International Space Station (ISS)(which oddly enough will be crossing over my home at 6:22 p.m. tonight, and I am planning on watching it travel along on its journey with my high power binoculars). This book adds to my fascination.

Retired Astronaut Scott Kelly is the longest occupying American resident of the ISS with 340 straight days in 2015-2016.

Endurance is his memoir of that record-breaking stay and the rest of his “Lifetime of Discovery.”

Selected to a "year-long mission" starting with Expedition 43, he then commanded Expedition 44 and 45, Mr. Kelly had put into practice what it was like to live on the Space Station two years before with his 5 months stay on the ISS during Expedition 26. His life journey through hardships in his childhood, his service in the Navy as a Pilot, fighting Prostate Cancer and those months of Expedition 43 prepared him for what came next.

Endurance is the closest I will ever get to space and I ate up every word Mr. Kelly wrote. His struggles from being away from his family, his relationships, his joys, his mental and physical health, working with various countries Astronauts delving in Biomedical Engineering, his vivid explanations of the day to day jobs he completed were like a sci-fi novel turned reality.

Can you imagine what it would be like to look at the earth and see it in all its glory, it’s distinguishing attributes? You don’t have to, Mr. Kelly gives you his view and feelings on what it is like. He makes you feel as if you are there, working, playing and traveling through zero gravity. 

The knowledge that you don’t have control over anything that happens on earth to your family is something that Mr. Kelly finds out about when his sister-in-law Congresswoman Gabriella Giffords is shot in Arizona at a Safeway grocery store parking lot meeting with constituents. Mr. Kelly had a few months left of his stay.
A few things of what Mr. Kelly says of that experience, while leading the nation in a moment of silence concerning the horrific assassination attempt and deaths of six people and 13 injured that day in Tucson struck me as something to really chew on and change, and also some huge foreshadowing, “Those of us who have had the privilege to look down on the Earth from space get the chance to take a larger perspective of the planet and the people who share it. I feel more strongly than ever that we must do better” He explains after the moment of silence "on the space station, we followed our normal routine. But I knew that on Earth somethings would never be the same.”

Mr. Kelly’s life experiences told throughout this book show everyone that someone can come from obscurity and land into whatever they dream of becoming and beyond those dreams. This book is worth reading especially if you have any inkling of journeying from your own life to someone else’s and obviously if you love space exploration. This book hits one of my top five memoirs. Read it, you won’t regret it.

Thanks to Bookish First for sending me a copy of Endurance: A Year in Space, A lifetime of Discovery I thoroughly enjoyed it. This book was given to me in lieu of my honest opinion. 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Landscapes of Anne of Green Gables: The Enchanting Island that inspired L.M. Montomery

The Landscapes of Anne of Green Gables
Author: Catherine Reid
Photographer: Kerry Michaels
Publisher: Timber Press
Publishing Date: April 18, 2018

As a little girl, I thought Anne and I were kindred spirits. I still think we are kindred spirits. Doesn't matter where I go there is always a house with a name, a lake that shines and trees that talk to me.  So, when I found out that there was a book, The Landscapes of Anne of Green Gables, about to come out filled with the landscapes of Prince Edward Island and the inspiration for Avonlea. I had to take a chance and request to read it!  I'm so glad to have been able to read and review this book.

The pages are beautifully filled with photos of the island taken by photographer Kerry Michaels others taken personally by Lucy Maud Montgomery. The inside journal snippets from Maud's journals are a delight.

My only dislike of the book is the repetitive nature of some of the writings. Even though they are lovely, and show Maud's kinsmanship with the forests, the trees and all the rest of nature surrounding her, the book tends to share the same memories over and over. I feel that the book would have been better served if there were less instead of more of the same and let Maud's words fill the pages simply.

If you are a fan of L.M. Montgomery's and haven't had the chance to visit Prince Edward Island this book is the perfect way to tamper the ache of not having visited. I know it did for me.

I was blessed to read this book courtesy of Timber Press via NetGalley for my honest opinion.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

I was Anastasia: A Novel by Ariel Lawson

I Was Anastasia
Author: Ariel Lawhon 
Publisher: Double Day
Publish Date: March 27, 2018

The Romanov's... one of most mysterious tales in all of Russian History. Is she or Isn't she the Tzars daughter Anastasia Romanov? Like a photo album that has missing pages throughout its covers, I was Anastasia was told in gaps and back views, this non-linear story feels like said missing-paged photo album. 

Ariel Lawhon does a marvelous job convincing you that Anna Anderson is absolutely Anastasia Romanov from heart-breaking journeys into exile, traumatic train rides, death-defying slaughters, and yet, you still have to wonder if anyone can survive what Anna Anderson claims she has.

The story is poetic, filled with all that you can imagine of tragedy but also, loving memories of family, friendship, and compassion from those who selfishly provide for Anna if only to gain notoriety and material wealth.

It did take me a while and sometimes still after the first 100 pages I tended to have to go back to keep the pages in order of timelines. However, when you reach the end of the story, you understand what the author is achieving. 

This story is a must if you have ever wondered about Anna/Anastasia's identity.

I gave this book 4 stars.

*I received this book courtesy of Double Day Books via NetGalley in lieu of my honest review.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Everyone Toots by Joe Rhatigan

Everyone Toots
Author: Joe Rhatigan
Illustrator: Alejandro O-Kif
Publisher: MoonDance Press
Publication Date: October 17,  2017

Everyone Toots is a fun, rambunctious book written by Joe Rhatigan. My children would have thoroughly enjoyed the irreverent pictures with page after page of different animals acting like people and tooting.

I must admit I giggled a time or two myself while reading it.
A favorite part of the book for me was the Hedgehog on the school bus that toots and the toot lifts him off the seat.

The pages are filled with gorgeous, happy, bright colors illustrated by Alejandro O-Kif that make this book even more appealing to kids.

I’m not sure all parents will love the story, but I know many that will find it hysterical.
This book is a must to “toot about” to my friends who have kids.

I definitely will be buying this book for my future grandchildren.

I received this book courtesy of MoonDance Press via Edelweiss+ for my honest review.

I give this book 5 stars.

Friday, December 01, 2017

Is It Warm Enough for Ice Cream?

Is It Warm Enough for Ice Cream?
Author: DK
Publisher: DK Children
Publishing Date: February 13, 2018

Is It Warm Enough For Ice Cream? Is a colorful board book. Toddlers will love the bright colors and the realistic pictures.

Each page describes a season of the year. Toddlers will learn about different items that show up in the season highlighted.

Finally,  it’s warm enough for ice cream and the colors pop even more than on the previous pages.

This book made me want to create a list of things to achieve for each season- like Ice Skating, wandering through the woods, looking for hiding animals, flying kites,  and definitely eating ice cream.

I would buy Is it Warm Enough for Ice Cream? for my friend’s children

I give this book 5 stars.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Eves of Destruction by Kate Carlisle

Eves of Destruction
Author: Kate Carlisle
Publisher: Berkely Press
Publication Date: November 7, 2017
5th Fixer Up Series

If you love Hallmark Channel type stories, this book is for you. If you love Agatha Christy mysteries, this book is for you. If you love "cozy" easy reads this book is for you.

Shannon Hammer is a master carpenter by day,  Super Sleuth by night.
Shannon owns Hammer Construction, an award-winning construction business hired by a few homeowners to spruce up their homes in time for the annual Victorian Home and Garden tour in Light House Cove, California.
In order to keep up with the demands of her jobs, she hires another master carpenter, new-to-town Amanda Walsh to help ease Shannon's workload. One home, in particular, is making Hammer Construction's job problematic: Petsy Jorgenson is a cantankerous woman who treats people as "less than" dirt under her shoes.
The City Inspector is lurking around always trying to shut down a job site, and with Petsy Jorgenson thrown into the mix, you can feel hi jinx is in the air.

Eves of Destruction has been called a "cozy" murder mystery by the New York Times. If "cozy" means comfortable with the lovable protagonist, Shannon Hammer, her employees, family and her town then bundle up you're in for a "cozy" ride.
The characters in Eves of Destruction are well fleshed out, the murders realistic and the houses showcased are visualized gorgeously in my mind through Kate Carlisle's writing.

I Live in Northern California, love the descriptions of the town so much, that I would love to find the Northern California town Ms. Carlisle bases Light House cove on. This book makes me want to take a weekend drive to the coast. :)

I give Eves of Destruction 4 stars for the building of clues, having a mystery within a mystery and imagery.

Sadly, I took a star off for some awkward, unrealistic communication between Shannon and Mystery Writing boyfriend MacKintyre Sullivan. The communication sometimes felt forced and formal, other times comfortable and realistic. I wished it was always the latter since they are such a fun couple to observe together. ;)

I received Eves of Destruction from Berkley Press via Edelweiss+ in lieu of my honest review.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Faith Journaling For The Inspired Artist by Stephanie Ackerman

Faith Journaling for the Inspired Artist
Author: Stephanie Ackerman
Publisher: Walter Foster Publishing
Publication Date: November 21, 2017
Step by Step Illustrations

Faith Journaling For The Inspired Artist is a how-to and practice workbook based on Stephanie Ackerman’s love of creative art through her spiritual journey in life.

I love the pages where Ackerman lets the reader practice whether it’s working on font writing techniques, doodle drawings or just better understanding how to glean ideas from the page of your Bible reading. I found it very informative and helpful to someone who always craves perfection, as she continues to stress to just have fun and “play around" with your hands-on journey.

Giving a highlight with step by step ways to create mixed media in your bible was just pure fun for this reader. My mixed media attempt didn’t turn out as I  planned, however, I had fun getting my hands dirty.

My only critique is that Ackerman shows in the first chapter, “Introductions to Journaling” under the Alternate Page, that you can adhere an alternate page to the Bible pages, but doesn’t give a “how-to” walkthrough of how that can be done. This would’ve been extremely helpful to the reader. Now, this might be something that she describes on her website, however with a book like this it might be better To have that in her stand-alone book.

You can buy this book here at Amazon.

I received this book from Walter Foster Publishing via Edelweiss+ for my honest review.

I give this book 4 stars.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Secrets for the Mad by Dodie Clark

Secrets For The Mad
Author: Dodie Clark
Keywords Press, Atria Books
Publication Date: November 7, 2017

Secrets For The Mad written by Dodie Clark contains Ms. Clarks’s truths and shares her heart in the midst of her struggle with Depersonalization Disorder. Her learned life lessons about sex, drinking, love, heartbreak, bullying and friendship are depicted through, lyrics, photography, doodles and poignant humor.

Secrets For The Mad is a sad, funny heartbreaking and honest book.  If you love Dodie on YouTube and Instagram as @doddleoddle then you will love this book. What makes this book different than other mental health memoirs/autobiographies is the fact that Dodie can tell her truths all the while making you feel as if you are in her inner circle; that you are kindred spirits; that she is sitting across the table from you while you are having lunch together.  Not everyone can capture an audience like Dodie can.
I especially loved her advice to young girls about Self Identity, Sexual relationships, Sexual Harassment and how to be precautious when it comes to having sex.  The topics are relevant, helpful and all told in an educational, yet lighthearted way.
This reviewer will even be using some of Dodie’s advice when it comes time to talk to her own daughter about sex and boys. The advice is laid out simply, and covers all the bases. As I mom I appreciate her desire to help younger women who look up to her as a role model in a loveing, productive and sincere way.

Music and Poetry may be Dodie’s passion and the outlet for her many struggles and feelings, however her writing is as exceptional as her music.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
I received this book from Atria Books via Net Galley I’m exchange for an honest review.

I give Secrets For The Mad 4 stars.

Monday, November 06, 2017

Gregory and the Grimbockle by Melanie Schubert: a book review

Gregory and the Grimbockle
By Melanie Schubert
Illustrated by Abigail Kraft
Music by Jared Kraft
New Wrinkle Publishing
Release date: November 9, 2017

My initial thought on looking at the illustrations throughout this book was, “man, this is going to be a fun book! I wonder what it’s about? That little purple character looks quite impish.”

Gregory has “ an enormous oddly shaped mole above his top lip... like a great big dripping of chocolate that had melted down a table in the sun.” People are always trying to wipe it off. One night the “grumpy old women who lived down his street” basically tries to tear it off his face. Poor kid. Gregory is miserable. Later that night, something miraculous happens. Gregory meets a Bockle named Grim.

Gregory and the Grimbockle geared for 8 to 12 year olds is not only fun with its theme of out-of-this-worldly characters, but also has a good value driven message. Who wants to have weakened  “Exoodle threads”? No “hoo-man” that’s for sure. The illustrations are hand sketched in a comforting quality, as if you are creating your own journal with a black graphite pencil on white pages. The two page spreads are impactful additions that help point out the focus for the upcoming chapter. 

A book of 194 pages is nothing to sneeze at for an 8 year old, but it doesn’t seem overwhelming, nor complex for that age level. I think it is because the story is so full of great antics. Twelve year olds won’t think this book is simple either, because as I said before, the value driven message will more than likely affect them the most. Especially as they are stepping into their teen years and their “Exoodle threads” may or may not become thinner in regards to some relationships they might be moving away from.  Even this adult found profound the message of the story. It made me pick up the phone and call my parents. 

As the impish and dutiful worker, Grimbockle the repairer of the “Exoodle threads” shows you the ins and outs of his job, you fall more and more in love with him. He is adorable with his purple skin, red clothes and wavy hair. What an endearing creature Melanie Schubert has created.

Gregory and the Grimbockle has an accompanying soundtrack that helped make this book almost cinematic. I enjoyed the background music with its quiet lulls and dramatic rises while reading the book. Jared Kraft’s music compliments the feel of Ms. Schubert’s book and Abigail Kraft’s illustrations.

Ms. Schubert’s writing style reminds me of Neil Gaiman’s Unfortunately The Milk, in it’s creativity and the fun adventure you happen to experience while reading Gregory and The Grimbockle. Her story lets us step into a world, like Alice going through the Looking Glass, of human compassion, the importance of human relationships and most importantly does it all with an imagination that only a child or someone with a child-like imagination will appreciate.  

I give this book 5 stars for it’s creativity, value driven message and the cinematic quality of the book’s sound track. 

recommend you give Gregory and the Grimbockle to your favorite 8 to 12 year old for Christmas.

You can preorder Gregory and the Grimbockle and it’s accompanying soundtrack from Amazon Gregory and the Grimbockle or from Barnes and Noble Gregory and the Grimbockle

* I received this book from New Wrinkle Publishing in lieu of my honest opinion.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Detective Nosegoode and the Museum Robbery

Detective Nosegoode and the Museum Robbery
By Marian Orton, translated into English: Eliza Marciniak, illustrator: Jerzy Flask
128 pages
On Sale Date: May 22, 2018

Detective Nosegoode and the Museum Robbery written by Marian Orlon, Illustrated by Jerzy Flisak is the third in a series of mysteries starring Detective Ambrosius Nosegoode and his little dog, Cody translated into English by Erika Marciniak. 

This book is actually three stories in one. First is the story of the "Museum Robbery" where we meet some very quirky robbers. The antics of this story is laugh out loud fun!  

The second story is about a "Game of Chess" and a robbery at the Ashworth Chess Club. It was full of not so easy to decipher clues that might stump anyone, that is except to say he wonderful Detective Nosegoode.  

The third story in the book was "The Sad End of the Elusive Hand" This interestingly enough is the only mystery that Detective Nosegoode at first gets wrong and then gets right.  I believe it has a good message for children not to jump to conclusions, which is what the good Detective did.
I think that middle-grade children, especially the younger age in the spectrum will enjoy this book as much as  this child-at-heart reader. 

* I received this book in lieu of my honest review courtesy of Pushkin Children's books through Edelweiss. 

Detective Nosegoode and the Kidnappers

Detective Nosegoode and the Kidnappers 
By Marian Orton, translated into English: Eliza Marciniak, illustrator: Jerzy Flask
128 pages
On Sale Date: April 10, 2018

Detective Nosegoode and the Kidnappers by Marian Orlon is the second in a trilogy of books translated from Polish by Eliza Marciniak.

The illustrations by Jerzy Flisak are fresh, endearing and fun. 

Having read Detective Nosegoode and the Music Box Mystery, I was looking forward to reading this book to my nephew and niece. They are a little on the older side of the middle-grade spectrum, but they liked the story of Detective Nosegoode trying to rescue his beloved dog Cody. They especially enjoyed to "story within a story" of Cody trying to help the kidnappers, just so he could bust them at the same time. They laughed at the antics that Cody gets involved in.

 Mr. Orlon does a very good job of helping 8 to 12 year old readers to anticipate, and sleuth the clues to a not always apparent outcome and then feel satisfaction at the end of the book when they solve the mystery.
I appreciate Ms. Marciniak bringing this book to the english readers. It is a nostalgic look at childhood mysteries.

I received this book from Pushkin Children’s Book in lieu of my honest review. 

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Book Review: Detective Nosegoode and the Music Box Mystery

Detective Nosegoode and the Music Box Mystery Book Review

Author: Marian Orlon, Illustrated by Eliza Marciniak, Translator: Jerzy Flisak
Originally published in Polish, 1976

English Translation from the Polish published by Pushkin Children's Books

On Sale Date: February 13, 2018

 "The first in a series of irresistibly charming, beautifully illustrated children’s classics - the adventures of Detective Nosegoode and his talking dog, Cody." Pushkin Children's Books

Detective Nosegoode is famous and retired. He spends his retirement walking his “shaggy mutt,” Cody; gardening his radishes, sitting on a bench reading the paper and playing his flute in the evenings. Life is slower than what the good detective is used to. Who would know that an adventure is about to begin?

A mysterious Bearded man who lives next door at Mrs. Hardtack’s house watches the detective and Cody whenever they walk out their front gate. This makes Cody, a very special dog nervous. Especially after the Detective is asked to solve the robbery of Mr. Swallowtail, the chemist’s very old music box stolen from Mr. Blossom’s Clock shop.  Who has stolen the music box, is it the Bearded Man or someone else? Read the book to find out. I enjoyed the mystery in this story. I thoroughly enjoyed Cody, the Detective’s dog. Some of the characters were well developed and children will love them. The Bearded Man might scare a younger child, just like he did Cody, however for middle-grade children it will just give them another person to wonder about. Never fear, Detective Nosegoode is here and the guilty party will be found!

This story reminds me of a childhood book that I loved (and read to my children) called “Tee-Bo the Talking Dog”. Cody, like Tee-Bo, can talk. Detective Nosegoode is lucky to have such a good friend, and Cody is lucky to have the detective too. 

Mr. Orton does a good job of taking middle-grade children through their, possibly, first chapter book mystery. He sets them up for the clues and even walks them through solving the case. That is a perfect for an 8-year-old when they are just learning about sleuth books.

I appreciate, Ms. Marciniak, translating this book into English. It’s not one that a child should miss.

I received this book from Pushkin Children’s Books in lie of my honoest review. 

Thursday, September 28, 2017

The Far Away Brothers by Lauren Markham

The Far Away Brothers 
By Lauren Markham
  • Print Length: 322 pages
  • Publisher: Crown (September 12, 2017)
  • Publication Date: September 12, 2017
  • Sold by: Random House LLC

“The deeply reported story of identical twin brothers who escape El Salvador's violence to build new lives in California—fighting to survive, to stay, and to belong."

Growing up in rural El Salvador in the wake of the civil war, Ernesto Flores had always had a fascination with the United States, the distant land of skyscrapers and Nikes, while his identical twin, Raul, never felt that northbound tug. But when Ernesto ends up on the wrong side of the region's brutal gangs he is forced to flee the country, and Raul, because he looks just like his brother, follows close behind—away from one danger and toward the great American unknown.

In this urgent chronicle of contemporary immigration, journalist Lauren Markham follows the seventeen-year-old Flores twins as they make their harrowing journey across the Rio Grande and the Texas desert, into the hands of immigration authorities, and from there to their estranged older brother's custody in Oakland, CA. Soon these unaccompanied minors are navigating a new school in a new language, working to pay down their mounting coyote debt, and facing their day in immigration court, while also encountering the triumphs and pitfalls of life as American teenagers—girls, grades, Facebook—with only each other for support. With intimate access and breathtaking range, Markham offers a coming of age tale that is also a nuanced portrait of Central America's child exodus, an investigation of U.S. immigration policy, and an unforgettable testament to the migrant experience.”

I read this book with an open-heart and open-mind. Living in California, I have heard so many stories like the Flores Twins. 

Lauren Markham has done a wonderful job writing of the hard, terrorizing journey of kids who leave their countries to avoid danger, hardship and potential death and come to a country that doesn’t quite know what to do with them.

 As a daughter of an immigrant from Germany after World War Two, I know the harsh reality of a teenager trying to fit in, even though doing so legally. The Flores twins have to try and find their way to make the connection from illegal to becoming a citizen of the United States. I am not sure what is the right way for that to happen, however, I am thankful that people like Lauren Markham exist. 

This book will help all those who read it to see that these teens are just like their teens, to an extent, hopefully, more people will come to an understanding that kids are still kids and need to be looked after, taken care of and nurtured, no matter their legal standing.

I received this ebook through Penguin's First To Read ARC for my honest review.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Hotel Scarface by Roben Farzad


Hotel Scarface
By: Roben Farzad 
Print Length: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley (October 17, 2017)
  • Publication Date: October 17, 2017
  • Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
This is a 4-star reading. Based on research depth, plot and author’s storytelling. 

“In the seventies, coke hit Miami with the full force of a hurricane, and no place attracted dealers and dopers like Coconut Grove’s Mutiny at Sailboat Bay. Hollywood royalty, rock stars, and models flocked to the hotel’s club to order bottle after bottle of Dom and to snort lines alongside narcos, hit men, and gunrunners, all while marathon orgies burned upstairs in elaborate fantasy suites.
Amid the boatloads of powder and cash reigned the new kings of Miami: three waves of Cuban immigrants vying to dominate the trafficking of one of the most lucrative commodities ever known to man. But as the kilos—and bodies—began to pile up, the Mutiny became target number one for law enforcement.
Based on exclusive interviews and never-before-seen documents, Hotel Scarface is a portrait of a city high on excess and greed, an extraordinary work of investigative journalism offering an unprecedented view of the rise and fall of cocaine—and the Mutiny—in Miami.”

Living in Florida for a total of 12 years and visiting my sister, who lives in Miami. I’ve always wondered what Miami was like in the earlier days. I was excited to read about its history in the late 70’s and 80’s. I knew Miami was the vibe for the rich and famous, just didn’t know how integrated the rich and famous and the drug lords were. 

Hotel Scarface was intriguing— the ins and outs of the world of drugs, and controlling the realm of greed and excess, the way the people who worked for the Drug Lords lived. Their life was hazy, dangerous and fluid. 

Roben Farzad, of Full Disclosure (PBS) fame, did a fantastic job at researching the history of Miami- the inside look at the players, the Mutiny and its role in the world of Cocaine conspiracies and death. I’ve been to the Mutiny and so reading about its history was an eye-opening experience. Miami Vice- the television show has nothing on this book. 

I would like to thank Penguin First to Read for the opportunity to read this book.

*I received this ebook through Penguin's First To Read ARC for my honest review.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Human relationships and mystery abound in this novel. 

I give this book 5 stars!! 

As a fan of Celeste Ng, I was really excited to read Little Fires Everywhere. This book didn't let me down. 

The poetic use of imagery pulled so many emotions out of my heart. Sadness for the contempt one can have for their own child. Happiness for the freedom some of the Richardson children gained. Awe for the talent that Mia possessed, and despisement and frustration for the shallowness that people can have when dealing with others, not of their "station." 

Ms. Ng does a wonderful job of building her characters, helping you to really, truly care about what is going on in the story and moving the story along at a good pace. Only once did I feel a total hatred within the story, and that was when Mrs. Richardson uses her job to become mean-spirited and dishonest. Man, she really annoyed me! This to me is a good sign of a great book = evoking so many emotions. The novel was entertaining at times, lesson teaching throughout, and just a pure good read. I couldn't put it down. 

Thanks to Ms. Ng, I seriously stopped to think about life in my own little world and what needs to be fixed or what I could do better in my community to help others.

*I received this e-book through Penguin's First To Read ARC for my honest review.

Friday, September 01, 2017

Reincarnation Blues by Michael Poore

What would it be like to live 10,000 different lives to be with the one you love- who in all reality can't really live as she, Suzy is better known as Death and risk disappearing into the ether if you don't achieve perfection?
Read this book and you will find out.

This book fascinated me! I know Michael Poore's book was compared to Neil Gaiman, who I simply adore and have read all his written, even his essays, however, I think Michael Poore's book is even better than a lot of Gaiman's stories. This comes from a creative mind filled with of a couple hundred stories of different lives that can be lead.

The lives Milo leads are random, unique, ironic, continuous in some places and completely different at many, many times. Poore fleshes out all ages, all scenarios of what a life can be, even through all the past histories and futuristic fantasies (those were my favorite.) All the while Poore tells the stories well. Even, chapter 14, "The Hasty Pudding Affair," where I didn't enjoy the prison sex allusions (3 times- no telling, no showing, just alluding) I loved, because of the detail that Poore does in all these lives Milo Lives! The story made me think- what would it be like to go home after accepting and becoming happy in a tough situation at 15 years old? Could you truly ever adjust?

The characters are well fleshed out, the writing poetic at times, raw at other times which makes this book even better than I thought it would be.

A must read and rated a 5 from me! I'll buy it just to read again, as I feel I might have missed a few great tidbits.

A must read if you love futuristic stories and/or wonder what its like to be reincarnated 10,000 times.

*I received this ebook through Penguin's First To Read ARC for my honest review.

Monday, August 28, 2017

The Massacre of Mankind- Stephen Baxter

It had been a decade or so since I read H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds. I was afraid I'd need to go back to read it before Mr. Baxter's novel, so I did. You didn't really need to read WOTW, although I think that it might help to get the feel of the underlying story. 

I had a really hard time reading The Massacre of Mankind. I am not sure if it was because there was too much explaining of the times between attacks (back and forth between the first war and the war happening in current times), the description of the Martians was tedious at times. 

The characters were developed well and I really liked Ms. Elphinstone. I just felt the novel was too wordy and unnecessarily so. The switching back and forth between points of views wasn't always easy to decipher as some were narrated, some first person and others just a telling vs. showing and not done well for me to envision.

I give Stephen Baxter credit for trying to stick to the original feel of WOTW! However, it fell flat for me. This is rated a 2 for me. 

*I received this ebook through Penguin's First To Read ARC for my honest review.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

The Best of Adam Sharp by Graeme Simsion

The Best of Adam Sharp by Graeme Simsion
Published Date: May 20, 2016
Printed in the United States by St. Martin's Press

Book Jacket description:
"Two Decades ago, Adam Sharp's piano playing led him into a passionate relationship with Angelina Brown, an intelligent and strong-willed actress. They had a chance at something more- but Adam didn't take it.

Now Adam has the life he's planned for himself. He's happy with his partner Claire, he excels in music trivia at quiz night at the local pub, he looks after his mother, and he does the occasional consulting job in IT. But he can never quite shake off his nostalgia for what might have been.
And then, out of nowhere, from the other side of the world, Angelina gets in touch. What does she want? Does Adam dare to live dangerously? 

Set to the soundtrack of our lives, The Best of Adam Sharp follows along with emotion and humor as one man looks back on his past and decides if having a second chance is worth the risk."

Music- the lifeline of my life, is also the life line of Adam Sharp's life. The day that he met Angelina Brown, soap actress, the love of his life, he was playing Brown Eyed Girl by Van Morrison at Shanksy's bar in Melbourne, Australia.

Angelina was strong-willed, she was already married, the night at the bar she and her husband were fighting, she asked Adam if she could sing with him. She asked him if he knew, Because of the Night by Patti Smith and Bruce Springsteen, he did. She fell in love with Adam when she was only supposed to be having a fling, just as he did her. They were perfect for each other.

Graeme Simsion does a fabulous job of feeding the feeling of forbidden love that can't be controlled and can't be squelched. After Adams' consulting job ends in Melbourne he would be moving on to New Zealand and then back to London. He and Angelina have only that time to decide whether they continue together and she divorce her husband or call it quits from their affair... What will they do?

I thoroughly enjoyed the character development that happens in the story. We learn so much about Angelina and Adam very quickly, just as fast as their relationship starts coalescing round each other. 

Twenty years later, Adam gets an email from Angelina in the middle of the night. He is happy in his no-challenging relationship with Claire, whom he has been living with for years. I get really annoyed by the boredom of his and Claire's relationship, to me, it is a scheduled, loveless, non-energy charged cohabitation.  Maybe this is why after that initial email from Angelina, Adam answers with a few words and starts onto an "emotional affair".

When Angelina asks him to holiday with she and her husband Charlie, I am flummoxed that he accepts. What in the world was he thinking?

Then the story gets strange in such a confusing wonderful way. Will Angelina and Adam get back together? Will she let go of Adam for good or choose Charlie again?  You will have to read the story to find out...

I enjoyed the story so much I gave it 5 stars on Goodreads. :)

Have you read The Best of Adam Sharp? What did you think of it?  

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Rise of the Rocket Girls by Nathalia Holt

You know when you find a book that takes you into your past and helps you to want to learn more? That for me is this book. I enjoyed meeting, learning and being encouraged by the female "computers" of the Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, California.

My father was a computer programer, reading about the different computers, different ways of programing those electronic computers from Pin punch cards to, FORTRAN to BASIC programing language it was a blast from the past for me.  I still own punch cards that my dad saved from the trash heap of change. Those punch cards served as late note pleas to allow me to enter class without a tardy, a pass from missing a day at school and gathering homework on those months that I needed to be monitored because I wasn't turning work in. Those punchcards meant to much to me and still do. I use them diligently, once they are gone, there are no more to gather... It is a reminder of a history gone.

Barby Canright was JPL's first computer before it was JPL and was just a nerdy boys rocket group consisting of 4 men and Barby. These men attended CALTECH but breathed rocketry. :0)

The women of the JPL computing division were intelligent, hard working and not equal to their male counterparts if doing other work at the lab. There in the Computing division they were top dog. They  forecasted the paths of war missles, satellites and rockets to the moon. Also, helped solved design flaws (such as Appollo I's door restriction that kept Ed White, Cafferty and ????   From escaping during a horrific fire.)

These women were expected to quit their jobs when they got married and started a family. Most of the JPL ladies did as expected then returned because they were usually too smart to just throw dinner parties, take care of their children and run the daily household. They were going crazy not being involved.
Modern electronic computers were starting to come to use while the young JPL computers were adjusting to the possibility of being outsourced to the machines. These women made themselves non-expendable by being the first ones to learn the procedures, languages and foibles of those machines. Continuing their careers with advanced college learning, encouraged by each other to become faster, smarter, more reliable. These women to me were superstars!!!

Can you imagine the satisfaction that they felt knowing they were doing something that made a significant impact on the world through out the 40's to today?  I am in awe of these women who paved the way for other women to be NASA engineers and Astronauts.

The Rise of the Rocket Girls might have been a little technical for the average reader, however I thoroughly enjoyed the technicality. The look into their private lives, their careers and the friendships that they held for lifetimes was refreshing and uplifting. Little girls, women of my age group (oh, heck, all women) need to hear these stories more often.

The book is a great catalyst for the continued conversation of the need for females to excel in STEM programs.

Author Nathalia Holt did a fantastic job sharing the early history of missles and Pre-NASA Rockets, through an engaging story carried over decades of success, disappointment, death and the frustration that was felt for the women working at the Pasadena Jet Propulsion Laboratory

This book has feed my desire to visit the JPL my next jaunt down to Southern California.

If you love Rockets, NASA, and Space this book will not disappoint you.

I gave this book a 4 star rating for carrying the message of female scientists,