Sunday, January 1, 2017

What's In A Name 2017

I've been doing this challenge for a few years without signing up or posting reviews. This year I signed up so I will be sharing my reviews here.

For this challenge, you need to read 6 books with 6 different things in the title. Go to The Worm Hole's blog if you want to find out more and play along!

I just joined the 2017 Monthly Keyword Reading Challenge!

I'm trying a new challenge this year. Each month you choose a book to read that has a title with one of the keywords.

I think this will be a fun way to read from my tbr pile this year. Visit My Soul Called Life to read more about it.

Who else wants to play?

Monday, December 26, 2016

Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood

I received Hag-Seed as an Early Reviewer. It is a retelling of The Tempest by William Shakespeare. I tried reading The Tempest first because I thought it would help me understand Hag-Seed. I hadn't read any Shakespeare since high school, and it wasn't as easy as I remembered. So I abandoned The Tempest and started Hag-Seed.

Hag-Seed is the story of a man who has been usurped as artistic director of a theatre festival. He goes into a self-imposed exile and begins planning his vengeance on the men responsible for his downfall. After several years he gets a new job teaching prisoners Shakespeare, where he finally realizes how he can give retribution with a production of The Tempest.

I loved how the story kept me guessing about how you could really exact revenge on some people with a play. On its own it is an enjoyable story. After reading the book I went back to The Tempest and the play made more sense. Although the book helped me understand the play, reading the play after helped me appreciate a few of the details that I at first felt were a little tidy at the end of the book. I had way too much fun figuring out which character in the book was which character in the play.

I am thankful for The Hogarth Shakespeare project for keeping Shakespeare alive and loved.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Library of Luminaries: Frida Kahlo: An Illustrated Biography by Zena Alkayat & Nina Cosford

This is a cute little picture book biography about Frida Kahlo. Even though I feel like I know the basics about "one of history's most celebrated artists and feminist icons," I still read a few new Frida facts. I was surprised that it did not contain any of Frida Kahlo's artwork, but it was fun to see Nina Cosford's interpretations instead.

I have always thought of Frida's life through her autobiographical artwork and from her perspective. It was interesting to look at her through another artist's eyes. The illustrations of Frida's tragic life story seem whimsical in this book. I liked thinking about Frida in a joyous way. One of my favorites was "Frida's Wardrobe," which I'm pretty sure made me giggle. I've never imagined Frida packing before. Thank you.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

"Guns Don't Kill People, People Kill People": And Other Myths About Guns and Gun Control by Dennis A. Henigan

Have you ever thought to yourself, wow, the NRA is overreaching? It's only the tip of the clip. In "Guns Don't Kill People, People Kill People": And Other Myths About Guns and Gun Control the author tears apart each bit of NRA "bumper-sticker logic" with statistics and actual logic. He then sights how gun control in our nation has already helped us, and other ways that gun control can help us all live with our guns in a safer way. (Spoiler alert: none of the ideas are to take away everyone's precious guns!)

Although the author ends with an empowering message, I still feel defeated. Regardless, I would recommend this book as excellent, vomit-in-your-mouth new knowledge, reference-filled nonfiction.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Michael's Wallet

My wedding scrapbook was still a project I felt too overwhelmed to tackle up until a few years ago when I set a simple goal: 1 scrapbook page for every year of marriage.
It was sentimental and it got me started. Today I finished my 17th page since we celebrated another anniversary yesterday.

I used this sketch from Sketches in Thyme:

And I also used the B&W + Color Challenge from rukristin Scrapbook Sleepover Challenges for inspiration.

It took 17 years but I got another favorite story from that special day documented!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Running with Rhinos by Ed Warner

When I requested Running with Rhinos: Stories from a Radical Conservationist by Ed Warner through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program I imagined I would be reading stories about rhinos: rescues, births, and poachers. When I started reading, I learned right away that the most important rule of rhino tracking is that you must always have a tree nearby. Oh boy. Foreshadowing! Instead, the stories were written by someone working behind the scenes. Although Mr. Warner's role in Sand County Foundation was equally important as that of a vet tech, it just wasn't as interesting. He goes to fundraisers and orders supplies. One of the stories was about how he accidentally overpaid $8 at the grocery store. A more appropriate title would be, "Running through Customs."

I bet the author is a good campfire story teller. I really wanted to like this book just based on the fact that the black rhino rescue in Zimbabwe is named after Aldo Leopold's land ethic. I just don't feel confident recommending this book to people based on the cover and title, and the lack of scrambling-for-a-nearby-tree moments.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Ashley Bell by Dean Koontz

Bibi Blair is too young to be told she only has a year to live. She's in the hospital after being told she has a very rare form of brain cancer when a mysterious man and Golden Retriever visit her in the middle of the night. After the dog licks her hand, she wakes up believing she is cured, and she is. It isn't long before she discovers getting her life back comes at a price. She, in turn, has to save Ashley Bell, a girl she's never heard of.

Leave it to Mr. Kootnz to take us along on Bibi's journey in a suspenseful and exciting way. Don't be put off by the length. If you like Dean Koontz, you will like Ashley Bell.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Lord of Misrule by Jaimy Gordon

I like to read a horse racing book every year during Triple Crown Season. Lord of Misrule won a National Book Award so I thought it would be a good choice.

Although this is a fiction story, I think it gives you an idea of what horse racing is really like if you're not Bob Baffert or Todd Pletcher. Overall I liked this story of racing people and life in their barns, but I had a little hangup. Every other chapter was written in second-person narrative. Those chapters were really about the creepy racehorse owner/bad boyfriend of the groom, and I didn't like being "you" when it was him. It made me feel like I was reading a Choose Your Own Adventure, but without the choices.

It wasn't the best or the worst book I read last year, so you can choose for yourself if you think this book will be a good reading adventure.

P.S. This book counts for my Sports category of the 2015 Eclectic Reader Challenge.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

The True Story of Hansel and Gretel by Louise Murphy

This retelling of Hansel and Gretel puts a Nazi twist on the classic fairy tale.

The True Story of Hansel and Gretel is more historical fiction than fairy tale though. Hansel and Gretel are two Jewish children hiding from the Nazis in the woods in Poland. They are taken in by a "witch," and the reader is invited to imagine the lives of one small village during WWII. Find out what the bread crumb trail and witch's oven were really about.

Although the story is dark, you can't stop wishing for a fairy tale ending. It was one of my favorite books I read this year.

P.S. This book counts as my Retelling for the Eclectic Reader Challenge.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson

This is the third book in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series. I had heard that it wasn't as good as the other 2 books, but I still had to find out what happened to Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist.

I struggled for about the first 100 pages of The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson. I was expecting the fire and drama of the first two from the series, but felt bogged down by a lot of mob talk and cop talk that didn't interest me. After I made it through those pages though, I was rewarded with an exciting conclusion to the series.

P.S. This counts as my Book Set in a Country Starting with the Letter S (Sweden) for the Eclectic Reader Challenge.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

2016 Eclectic Reader Challenge

Sign me up for the Eclectic Reader Challenge again in 2016! I like how the challenge helps me get books off my shelf and into my head. Here are the categories for next year, and the books I have already that I can use:

A book about books (fiction or nonfiction):

84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff

The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore: A Novel by Robin Sloan

Serial killer thriller: Killing for Company: The Story of a Man Addicted to Murder by Brian Masters

Paranormal romance:

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Classic Regency Romance-now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem! by Jane Austen

Enchanted, Inc. by Shanna Swendson

A novel set on an island:

The Last Summer (of You and Me) by Ann Brashares

Coastliners by Joanne Harris

Investigative journalism (non fiction): Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman by Jon Krakauer

Steampunk sci fi: Serenity 2: Better Days by Brett Matthews, Joss Whedon

(Okay, I read a whole battle on a message board about whether or not Serenity can be considered Steampunk. In the end I would lean toward no, but it definitely has Steampunk elements and I've been wanting to read this graphic novel so...)

Any book shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize:

Jamrach's Menagerie by Carol Birch

Atonement by Ian McEwan

Psychology (non fiction): The Minds of Billy Milligan by Daniel Keyes

Immigrant Experience fiction: What is the What by Dave Eggers

YA historical fiction:

The Foretelling by Alice Hoffman

Crows and Cards by Joseph Helgerson

A debut author in 2016

Any books you recommend on my list? Want to play along with me?

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas!

Wishing everyone peace, love, and happiness today and in 2016!

What’s In A Name – 2016

I'm signing up for the What's In A Name Challenge officially for 2016. I participated unofficially this year and had fun clearing a few books off of my tbr pile. Here are the categories and the books I have on hand that I can use:

A country:

The Australia Stories by Todd James Pierce

Lives on the Boundary: A Moving Account of the Struggles and Achievements of America's Educationally Underprepared by Mike Rose

An item of clothing:

The Shoe Queen by Anna Davis

Any Place I Hang My Hat by Susan Isaacs

Under the Duvet: Shoes, Reviews, Having the Blues, Builders, Babies, Families and Other Calamities by Marian Keyes

In Her Shoes by Jennifer Weiner

The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger

An item of furniture: Frida's Bed by Slavenka Drakulic

A profession:

Ranch Schoolteacher by Eulalia Bourne

Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

The Bartender's Tale by Ivan Doig

The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie

City Girl, Country Vet by Cathy Woodman

Mr. Darwin's Shooter by Roger McDonald

The Nanny Diaries by Emma Mclaughlin

The Last Witchfinder by James Morrow

A month of the year:

The March by E. L. Doctorow

The Door to December by Dean Koontz

A title with the word ‘tree’ in it:

Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burn

The Drowning Tree by Carol Goodman

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

Do you see any on my list that you recommend? Do you want to play along with me?

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

When We Were Orphans by Kazuo Ishiguro

Earlier this year I read When We Were Orphans with my book club. We read Never Let Me Go by the same author awhile ago, and everyone else loved it. I thought it was just ok, but I thought maybe Ishiguro deserved another chance.

I immediately liked the main character, Christopher Banks, and following him as a child living in Shanghai. I loved reading about his friendship with his neighbor, Akira, and the games they imagined together. Unfortunately Christopher is orphaned when his parents disappear, which brings us to Christopher's story as an adult. He has become a famous private investigator, and has decided it's time to solve the mystery of his parents' disappearance. That's where the story turned for me. It became uninteresting, bizarre, unlikely, and hard to follow.

My book club had the same complaints as me. I think I'm done with Ishiguro. I really want to like him because of all the good reviews he gets, but we just don't click.

P.S. This book counts as my PI Crime book for the Eclectic Reader Challenge.