Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Gun Seller

The author's name drew me to the book and when I saw the words action-packed, fast-paced and funny I was sold.  While there is blackmail, conspiracy, turncoats, and sarcasm I don't think all three of those words really describe the book. The story took a long time to start making sense, it was mystery after mystery and the main character is so confused about what is going on I kept thinking I was missing something. The characters just kept coming, the end was  big moment where the main character was asking his friends to trust him but we barely knew those characters they came in so late in the book.There were also some strange leaps in time after the it settled into the story so I would say it is sometimes fast and sometimes very slow-paced with rare sequences of action. I loved the main character's humor and wit though, the book was more than funny and I laughed numerous times reading it.
  Absolutely funny but the plot was slow-moving with weird breaks. It had an extremely satisfying ending, with a shoot out and big twists.
Enjoyable level: 6.4

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Catch up: A Spot of Bother, The Alchemist, Forbidden, Seventh Son, Tuesdays with Morrie, and Pope Joan

Sorry about waiting so long, I am currently planning a wedding and moving to a new country so even though I kept up with my reading I have neglected to write about anything. That being said,  most of these will probably be short. Do not think that because they are short I enjoyed them any less and hopefully it comes across when I write about them. 
Anywho, we'd better get started...

 Being a nurse, I see a lot of confused patients so the description of a man trying to politely go insane really captured my attention. It was enlightening seeing a mental health issue from the patients perspective. At one point the main character did not want to make a toast and he ended up hiding in a bush and at no point did I think 'that is where he went into a crazy thought'. Every step made perfect sense at the time but the string of things together led him into crazy things, like trying to remove a lesion from his thigh with some scissors in the bath tub. The wife and two children's storylines were all compelling. I wasn't bored by any of them and each storyline had a satisfying ending.
Enjoyable level 7.5/10
I wrote this title on my list of things to read a while ago and then when I went to the bookstore I saw the other The Alchemist, which is of course the first in the Nicholas Flamel books I wrote about in an earlier post. Later, in another bookstore (I basically spend 90% of all my free time in bookstores and usually every date my fiancee and I go on includes a bookstore) I saw this and remembered that I had read this back cover before and wanted to read it. I cannot say it enough, I LOVE this book. It is about taking risks to find and follow your life's destiny and persevering through difficult moments holding you back from the things you want. My fiancee and I are in the middle of moving to London from the US and jobs/visas/housing (just a few of the things currently driving us crazy) have caused us endless worrying sessions the past few months. Reading this book was such a good reminder that jobs can be found again, money can be made again, but an opportunity to do something you love is always worth trying and struggling for. Inspirational. Love it.
Enjoyable level 9.9/10

Ted Dekker is one of my absolute favorite authors, if you haven't read Thr3e by him you should go read it. Now. I'll wait. ....Okay, so on to the book at hand, cowritten with Tosca Lee.  The story is similar to The Giver and Divergent only it is feelings that have been stripped from the world in an apocalyptic manner. A few individuals have a serum that make them an exception to the unfeeling human race and they have a mission to try to bring feelings back to the world. The plot seemed straightforward, enjoyable but very familiar. Also, you may notice the fine print above the title says The Books of Mortals. Yep, this is, very sneakily, the first of a series, which I did not find out until I got to the end and though 'wait, there are so many things not tied up'. No time to continue to the series now, but I wouldn't mind continuing when I have more time.
Enjoyable level  7/10
Orson Scott Card is another of my favorite authors. When I bought this book it had a sticker on the bottom middle of the cover so, like the Forbidden, when I got to the end and said, 'hey, where's the rest of the story?' I found out it was the beginning of a series. The book incorporates evangelical christians and sorcery/superstition, playing them off of one another. The powers that the seventh son of the seventh son had were incredible and it was unique that his power was tied to an element. I really liked that the universe was almost the nemesis in that the world was working to destroy this boy who was so powerful and unnatural in the world. It also allowed to see a small view of medicine in the past which is always a topic I am interested in. I would read this again and definitely hope to read the rest of these books.
Enjoyable level 8.4/10

I recently read 'The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto' by Mitch Albom and numerous times while reading it people suggested this book so the next time I saw it on the shelf I bought it. The book was wonderful, a touching depiction of an intergenerational relationship.  I loved the story because it understood the perfect amount of plot, not invoking unneeded twists and turns, and instead encourages stimulating dialogue.
Enjoyable level: 8/10

A historical fiction book about a female disguising herself as a man and becoming the Pope. Brutally honest about the lives of women during the Medieval times.  The main character really resonated with me, Joan is a dreamer, a scholar, and a fighter. There was a surprising amount of action (I bit my nails numerous times hoping she wouldn't be discovered) and I was delighted to find out from my fiancee that it has a film adaptation which I desperately hope to see.
Enjoyable level 9.2/10

I could write so much more about many of these books but due to time constraints and being halfway through yet another book, this will have to do. Cheerio, next time I write will be from across the pond!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Out of Dust

              Another trip to the children's books section brought me to this book, the story of a young girl growing up in Oklahoma during two years of the Dust Bowl. An important note is that this book is written in free verse poetry. At first, I was very bothered by this, feeling like I couldn't properly immerse myself in the story because of each sentence being spaced between lines and a new idea for each new poem seemed to make the story jumbled up in my mind.
 Eventually, after learning a little about the characters and their life the poems didn't seem so haphazard. Some of the poems were so heart-wrenching that I was glad they ended quickly and she spoke of another day, reminding me her life continued on. The time period was fascinatingly devastating and it made me wonder why I had read so little about it before.
It was a great reminder of how lucky I am to grow up in this time and place and while I probably won't reread this I got a lot out of it and would recommend it to a friend of the philosophical variety.

1 day to read.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

The Gilmore Guys ( a fantastic podcast) Michelle Obama and Rory Gilmore all decided I should read this book and you can just get ready for the gushing now because I really really loved it. 
It is a coming of age story about a young italian girl named Lenu and her best friend Lila, and yes it unfortunately is the first in a series of 4 books called the Neopolitan novels. (where do you find non-series anymore?) 
 Her line of thinking resonates within me from an adoring child to insecure middle schooler to self searching teenager I felt deeply connected with the main character (Lenu). And as Lenu and Lila grow apart the desperation with which they need each other, love each other, and yet have no idea how to still be part of each other's lives takes over my soul with its truthfulness. Every few pages a thought or feeling would so move within me I could picture the exact moment I felt or reacted that way to my best friend within my life.  And the utter honesty with which it is told simultaneously convicts me because of the connections I see to myself and the approval-seeking, jealous, selfish thoughts of an adolescent while also bringing me joy and nostalgia of childhood, growth and perseverance of true long-term female relationships bound by real caring. 
I want everyone I know to read it so I can have deep discussions with them about it. It leaves you hanging and I must read the rest of this series. I feel like it will explain to me my life now and even tell me my future, not in exact moments or experiences but in thought processes and emotions. I don't know how to explain it, I need a book club specifically for this book and the rest of the series which I will definitely be reading. After I finish the pile I have...

The Immortal Nicholas Flamel series by Michael Scott

You may think wow she read the whole series, 6 entire books! It must be great! Nope, I'm just that committed to reading what's in front of me. It wasn't bad, it was simply ok. The first book was actually very intriguing. I love the idea of everyone having an aura they can shape into magic but using that aura depletes the energy available to them. Perenelle Flamel was an exceptionally interesting character even though she spent most the books separated from the other main characters I always wished for more of her storyline.
However, as it went on the characters and stories just seemed to pile on and pile on rather than fit together.  I went on a road trip with my fiancĂ© but was very close to the end of the 6th book so I had him read the last 20 or so pages out loud to me while I drove.  About every 3rd paragraph he would just give me a look like 'what the heck is happening?' and I just gave him the 'I know, I know, keep reading' look back. First adding mythical gods, then crazy beasts of legend and every famous person from Virgina Dare and Billy the Kid to Shakespeare and Joan of Arc. It felt like a movie with too many cameos.  
They also constantly stop and list the insane events that have been occurring or the amount of famous people they are with. Again it reminds me of when shows or movies point out the crazy to show, 'hey, we are aware of how crazy this is and the fact that we acknowledge it makes it okay'. It just ruins the flow of the story and the amount with which its done causes a lot of repetition. In fact, there is quite a lot of repetition in the books in general.  Again, these weren't bad, just ok, not a reread kind of book.

Etiquette and Espionage

My sister found this book on sale at borders and quickly passed it on to me, saying she loved it, and I have to agree with her. This book is part of a series which is the last thing I need to be starting considering the pile of books waiting on me and my imminent move but fortunately for me it is a very stand alone book, the entirety of the story is wrapped up and while I would love to read more of the series I feel I can wait and go back to it when I have the time.
This is a steampunk novel about a girl being forced to go to a finishing school only to find it is actually a school for spies, which she quite excels at. She makes friends and enemies of teachers and students and meets a werewolf and a vampire (though neither of those takes up a big part in the story which I was thankful for, I mean the school and the main character were interesting enough).
Good, 300 pages or so, fairly quick read. I look forward to more of them.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Samuel Blink and the Forbidden Forest

I was at second and charles ( a book store near us) and they were having a sale, buy 3 fiction books, get 2 free and I found this as one of my free ones. This story is about a brother and sister whose parents die and they have to go live with their aunt in a remote norweigan village next to a forest. They are forbidden to go in the forest which, of course, only makes it absolutely positive that all the main characters will enter. They find that what they thought was a dark place filled with evil creatures is actually a confused place oppressed by a tyrannical leader.
For storytelling this book gets 10/10. I adore the different fantasy creatures created in these pages and how each one has changed during this strange time in the forest.  The truth pixie in particular had me rolling around in bed laughing. In originality it gets a 7.  During the first couple of chapters where the brother and sister get sent to their aunt and told about the forest I was sure this book was just another Fablehaven and was already tired of reading it. Also, there is one character who is missing at the beginning of the book and it is incredibly apparent where they are and how they will be revealed from the beginning of the book.  However, things were not as played out as I thought. There were twists and deaths and a horribly gruesome turn where Samuel gets turned into a rabbit and meets the friends of the rabbit he ate a couple days before.  I was simultaneously loving it and thinking 'what is happening?'.
Basically, this book has a lot of character and interest but you have to make an effort through the first couple of chapters. If another Samuel Blink novel (yes, there are more, nothing is a stand alone story anymore :(  )  were to end up on my desk I would read it but I don't think I will search out any more of these books.