Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Monster Hunter Vendetta

Monster Hunter Vendetta
by Larry Correia
Baen Books, 2010, 656 pgs. Sci Fi

Owen Zastava Pitt has faced werewolves, zombies, and a pack of man eating chupacabras but nothing compares to planning a wedding and trying to figure out how to introduce your fiancĂ© to your family. Everything goes helter skelter when the Immortals put a ransom on Pitt’s head and they will use whomever they need to get their hands on him. The gloves come off when the Shadowman attacks his family and Pitt will have to face a whole lot more than zombies to keep those he loves alive.

I am really enjoying reading this series. Who knew I am not a B-rated horror films fan but I really enjoy the banter between all of the characters as they kick supernatural butt. The plot had me on the edge of my seat and “Oh my gosh” when you find out who Agent Franks is!!! I really had a lot of fun reading this book.

MH

The Blue Sword

The Blue Sword
 by Robin McKinley
Puffin Books, 2000, 272 pgs, Young Adult.

“Harry” makes the long journey to the desert to live with Sir Charles and Lady Amelia ,her elder brother’s benefactors, after her parents death. While there she is a witness of a strange encounter with the king of the Free Hillfolk who is trying to protect his people from invasion and comes seeking the help of the Outlanders. The Outlanders cannot help and so the king is compelled for reasons he does not entirely understand to kidnap Harry and take he with them on their journey, she is soon found to be invaluable to the camp and may change the future forever.

This is one of my absolute favorite books I love Harry’s personality and the friendships she makes along the way. I love her strength as she learns the ways of the Hillfolk and her force of personality as she confronts the king. I have loved this book since I was 12 and it gets better with every reading.

MH

Flocks

Flocks
by L. Nichols
Secret Acres, 2018. 332 pages. Graphic Novel

It can be hard to figure out where you "belong" in life. Imagine how much harder it would be if the community you've grown up in and loved considers who you are to be a perversion, a sin against God and nature. L. Nichols takes us on his  journey of self-discovery, from his conservative Christian upbringing, as a female, in Louisiana, through his struggle with his identity and all the "flocks" - friends, family, communities - which shaped him.

Of all the wonderful things about this book, I have to start by saying that L. Nichols' has an incredible talent for connecting emotionally through his art and storytelling. The art alone in this book is a wonder; neither the story nor the art overtakes the other, but balance to engage you not just as a reader, but as a confidante. No matter your background, you'll connect with and feel for  L. Rather, you'll feel with him, and I dare anyone to read this book and tell me they felt otherwise. FLOCKS is precisely what the doctor ordered for a world that's in dire need of opening its heart to the people it too often casts aside and ridicules.

MW

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

The Winter of the Witch: A Novel

The Winter of the Witch: A Novel 
by Katherine Arden
Del Rey, 2019. 372 pgs. Fantasy.

 This epic conclusion to the Winternight trilogy starts the day after the events at the end of The Girl in the Tower. Much of Moscow has burned, and Vasya finds herself alone in the hands of an angry mob that blames her for the fire. The Grand Prince is on a path that leads to war and ruin, a wicked demon is on the loose determined to spread chaos between men and chyerti, and the winter-king is nowhere to be found. Vasya is caught in the middle of the conflict between men and chyerti, the conflict between brothers, and the conflict between Rus and her enemies. As she desperately tries to save Rus, Morozko, and the chyerti she must come to understand her mother’s past and her own magic if she is to save anything at all.

I can’t express how much I loved this book! The writing is superb and the story is complex. Of the three books in this trilogy, I think this one is the best and it is certainly my favorite. I loved finally learning Vasya’s family background, I loved watching Vasya grow into her magic, and seeing her learn to understand the chyerti and her relationship to them. I highly recommend this series to anyone willing to read fantasy. The first book has a slow pace but it picks up in the next two and the story is well worth it.

 ER

Storm Siren

Storm Siren 
by Mary Weber
Thomas Nelson, 2014. 341 pgs. Young Adult Fiction.

Nym shouldn’t exist. Elementals, able to manipulate weather, are always born male and always killed at birth, but Nym is a 17-year-old female Elemental. When she is exposed as such at the slave auction, a court emissary sees her as a powerful weapon in the ongoing war and purchases her. While Nym is training to hone her abilities, time is running out for the kingdom. Nym may be all that stands between her country and destruction, but she must learn trust and control amid a growing number of difficult challenges before she will be able to save anything and even then it may not be enough.

My husband and I listened to this one on Libby, and we both enjoyed it. I like that the main character exhibits personal growth and gains some self-confidence throughout the course of the book. My husband really liked the magic system and how different abilities played into the story. This is a good book for those interested in young adult fantasy or dystopia genres. I especially think those that liked Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard will enjoy Storm Siren.

ER

Monday, January 28, 2019

The Beatles: The Biography

The Beatles: The Biography
By Bob Spitz
Little Brown, 2005. 983 pages. Biography

Though I am a big Beatles fan, I didn't have a good chronological understanding of their story, so I set out to find a good biography on them.  Rather than a simple recitation of the when and where and who of the Beatles saga, this biography brings their story to life, lending insight into how people were feeling throughout and adding color to their many remarkable experiences.  This book of course has its "take" on some events, but it isn't afraid to recount The Beatles' shortcomings while still acknowledging their genius.  In order to maintain a compelling narrative, this book can't cover everything - even a few major elements of the Beatles story aren't quite fully discussed.  Still, I definitely came down with some "Beatles-mania" while reading this and had to stop several times to listen to their songs, even though I've heard them probably a hundred times before.  The story ends with the break up of the Beatles, including a quick nod to things to come in future years, and even after 10 hours it felt like it was over a little too soon (which is a great metaphor for the Beatles themselves). I listened to the audiobook, and the narrator does a great job bringing the story to life, especially quotes from the Fab 4 themselves.

BHG

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Handmade Houseplants


by Corrie Beth Hogg
Timber Press, 2018. 298 pgs. Nonfiction

Learn how to make realistic plants from paper in this debut book. There are instructions at the beginning for the various techniques and materials used, as well as details for each project. These include tools, materials, and finished size. There are cutting and painting templates included, some of which do need enlargement. There are 30 different plants included with colors ranging from light green to pink and purple.

I am moving soon and want to add some greenery to my house. However, I am very bad at keeping plants alive, and thought that paper might be a good alternative. There are over 70 pages of instructions at the beginning, which felt a little overwhelming, but once I got into the individual projects, it was easy to find specific ones that I liked and only focus on those materials and techniques. I especially liked the variety of colors, sizes, and shapes that were included. I felt that some plants looked more realistic than others, but overall the book felt comprehensive and makes me want to try at least a few of the plants.

TT

The Bird and the Blade

The Bird and the Blade
By Megan Bannen
Balzer + Bray, 2018. 416 pgs. Young Adult

Set in the Mongol Empire around the 12th century, Jinghua is a young slave with a secret past in the Kipchak Khanate. She swears to serve young Prince Khalaf, but when invaders force Khalaf and his father out of their homeland and out of power, Khalaf believes the only course forward is to pursue a marriage with Turandokht, daughter of the Great Kahn. However Turandokht has no desire to wed, and has devised a challenge of three near impossible riddles. If a suitor can solve all three riddles she will agree to marriage, but failure means death. Jinghua strives to help Khalaf, but her feelings for him grow, and as her past unwinds her loyalties will be called into question.

The setting of this book is what made me pick it up to begin with, but the amazing characters and plot made me fall in love with it. The story unfolds over time as the perspective alternates between past and present, making for some massive revelations as the story progresses. This book is based on the Puccini’s opera, Turnadot, but changes the focus from Turnadokht and Khalaf to Jinghua. While I loved this book, you may want to read it with tissues nearby.

ACS

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Code Girls

Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers Who Helped Win World War II
by Liza Mundy
Hachette Books, 2017. 416 pages. Nonfiction

The Allied forces of World War II owed much of their success, if not most of it, to the throngs of young American women who served in the U.S. Army and Navy as code-breakers. As their work demanded the utmost secrecy, their story and efforts remained all but unknown until recent declassification of World War II records. Including thorough research and interviews, readers will learn the history of women's involvement in American military, how "code girls" were recruited, their invaluable work in breaking Axis codes, and their camaraderie with their sisters-at-arms.

I love me some history, especially when I get to learn something new about a time/event I feel familiar with, and even more especially when it involves women. I loved learning about the evolution of military code-breaking in America, how societal notions of the time influenced leaders to seek out women for this important work, and the tremendous sacrifice those women made to turn the tide of WWII. This book was so well-researched, and it's clear that Mundy's research was fueled with passion for the subject. I loved how Mundy included insight into the personal lives of several women; their characters popped up throughout the book as insight into what life was like for them as well as when code-breaking victories could be attributed to their individual efforts. My favorite "character" was Dottie! I also loved reading about the group of librarians recruited who upon arrival in Washington DC, disgusted by the disorder of the records, dug into the mess and built a organization system from scratch (hail librarians!). This is a great read for fans of HIDDEN FIGURES and WWII history.

MW

Batman: White Knight

Batman: White Knight
by Sean Gordon Murphy
DC Black Label, 2018. 323 pages. Graphic Novel

Bruce Wayne has always done what it takes to be the hero Gotham City needs, even if it means tapping into his darker nature. But lately Batman lingers more and more in darkness, and one fateful encounter with the Joker leaves Batgirl, Nightwing, and even Commissioner Gordon and the whole of Gotham questioning if the Dark Knight is any kind of hero at all...if ever. And Joker is more than happy to show them how...by giving them a White Knight: Jack Rapier.

Iconic. Epic. Gripping. Flawless. There are not words enough to describe how fantastic this book is. This is the ultimate Batman comic, right up there with THE KILLING JOKE. Maybe...dare I say...even better than THE KILLING JOKE (gasp!) This book has everything. You've got the killer dynamics of Joker vs. Batman which makes for great stories alone, but used to examine Batman's character, methods, and legacy - and it's incredible! Don't miss out!

MW

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Mercy Thompson: Homecoming

Mercy Thompson: Homecoming
by Patricia Briggs
Ballantine Books. 2009. 112 pgs. Graphic Novels

Have you ever wondered what life was like for Mercy when she first moved to the Tri Cities? Mercy has just graduated college and wants to find a teaching position in the Tri Cities and she is having a hard time because the school values someone who can coach sports more than how well they teach history to their students. And in true Mercy like fashion she got in way over her head within hours of showing up in town.

So I am slowly easing my way into the world of graphic novels. It is such a different story telling mechanic than the traditional way books are presented. I loved the way the art conveys the emotion and the setting without having a long explanation. Personally I loved imagining the characters more than seeing them on the page but I thought they tied in a lot of the set up information presented in other books really nicely.

MH

Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty

Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty
By Charles Leerhsen
New York : Simon & Schuster, 2015. 449 pages.

An authoritative, reliable and compelling biography of perhaps the most significant and controversial player in baseball history, Ty Cobb, drawing in part on newly discovered letters and documents.

This biography forces the reader to push aside any previous notion they had of Ty Cobb. Known as an overly aggressive man on and off the field, as a racist, and a hater of women and children, Ty Cobb continues to create enemies long after his death. Leerhsen's travels to Cobb's home state of Georgia and also to Detroit (home of the Detroit Tigers, the ball club he belonged to) brings forth brilliant research that challenges the Ty Cobb we think we know. His inquiries and findings are balanced, therefore Ty Cobb is neither seen as saint or sinner, but simply as a man.

In addition to enlightening the reader about Cobb, Leerhsen also educates the reader about the game of baseball that was played during Cobb's lifetime. I believe that this knowledge greatly enhances the reading experience. My one critique is that the book has a bit of a disorganized feel at times due to the fact that the reader is often jumping back and forth between different people, places, and events. I hope anyone even slightly familiar with Ty Cobb will give this book a chance and find out if they truly know Ty Cobb.

NS 

Long Journey Home

Long Journey Home
By Sarah M. Eden
Mirror Press, 2018. 363 pgs. Romance

Maura O'Connor became a war widow at a young age and struggled to raise her son in the slums of New York. That life has taken a toll on both of them and finally, out of desperation, she moves them both to the small western town of Hope Springs. She hasn't had contact with her late husband's family for ten years, but she hopes that they will accept her son and give him the family and stability he needs. Ryan Callahan has been working the land that belonged to the late Granny Claire for years, with the hopes that he could one day buy the land and move himself and his mother out of his brother's house. Granny Claire's home is unexpectedly given to a young widow and her son and his dreams of owning his own land become uncertain. Both Maura and Ryan desperately need the home and the land, but only one of them will be able to keep it.

This is the fourth book in the Hope Springs series. I liked that I finally got to learn Maura's story. She is mentioned briefly in previous books but this definitely filled in a lot of details. Sarah Eden is one of my favorite authors. I love how she deepens her characters through each additional book in the series.

AL


Friday, January 18, 2019

The Long Walk

The Long Walk: The True Story of a Trek to Freedom
By Slavomir Rawicz
Lyons Press, 1997. 242 pgs. Nonfiction

Rawicz was a Polish Army lieutenant who the Soviets claimed was a spy, and was imprisoned after the German-Soviet invasion of Poland. Escape seemed impossible, but life in a Siberian Gulag camp was unbearable, so he and six other prisoners made a daring escape. To get to the safety of British India, they walked out of Siberia, through China, the Gobi Desert, Tibet, and over the Himalayas. As they marched thousands of miles by foot, hunger, thirst, illness, wounds, and death marked their journey.

This is an incredible tale of endurance and teamwork. There has been a lot of controversy over the validity of Rawicz’s account, and while there are passages that seem quite unbelievable, I also know that truth can be stranger than fiction. Whether this story really is an honest account, entirely fictional, or a combination of the two, I’m not qualified to judge, but I do know it’s powerful, moving, and an incredible testament to the human spirit.

ACS

Dry


By Neal Shusterman
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2018. 390 pages. Young Adult.

In Southern California, when residents are asked to stop watering lawns and filling up swimming pools, no one expects the drought will last for too long. When the taps run dry, everyone assumes they’ll be back on soon, that someone is going to take care of the problem. As it starts to become apparent that this is not the case, as neighbors begin to turn on each other, and people’s humanity is replaced with fear and desperation, it may already be too late to leave. Faced with few options and fewer resources when their parents don’t return from a trek to a promised water station, teenage Alyssa and her younger brother must decide what drastic or dangerous actions they are willing to take to survive.

I deeply enjoy my apocalyptic tales with a side of realism and this one felt totally plausible considering some water crises that have been in the news in recent years and the rumored shortages that may be imminent. While it is a little less realistic that the teens in this novel are as resourceful and knowledgeable as they are described, it’s easy to suspend that disbelief because the storytelling and world building is that good- and listening to the audiobook with fantastic narrators was a treat as well. This book made me reconsider the running time of my showers and spurred me to stock up on emergency essentials, with plenty of water!

RC

Thursday, January 17, 2019

The Belles


By Dhonielle Clayton
Freeform Books, 2018. 434 pages. Young Adult.

The Belles are women born with a magical power to change the way people look, to make them physically beautiful, which is revered above all else in the world of Orleans. While any imaginable transformation is possible, Belles are brought up to follow strict rules, and laws are in place to prevent certain dramatic or unsafe trends or transformations. There are those who push these boundaries and desire to use the Belles’ power for their own personal gain at the expense of others. When one of those people is royalty, can a Belle continue to do her duty to beautify as commanded, when what is asked of her conflicts with own moral compass, the law, and may bring a great evil into power?

While there is no shortage of YA books that question societal beauty norms and the dangers that can come from a fixation on appearance, this one adds to that narrative in ways that didn’t feel played out or repetitive. There were plenty of twists and turns that helped the story feel fresh and characters with questionable motives who kept me, and the Belles, wondering who they could trust. This is the first book in a series and I am looking forward to revisiting the world of Orleans to find out what happens next when the second book is released later this year.

RC

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Down and Across

Down and Across 
by Arvin Ahmadi

New York, New York : Viking, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC, 2018. 320 pages. Young Adult.

His friends know what they want to do with the rest of their lives, but Scott Ferdowsi can hardly commit to a breakfast cereal, let alone a passion. With his parents pushing him to settle on a "practical" career, Scott sneaks off to Washington, DC, seeking guidance from a famous psychologist who claims to know the secret to success. He meets Fiora Buchanan, a ballsy college student whose life ambition is to write crossword puzzles. Now Scott is sneaking into bars, attempting to pick up girls at the National Zoo, and even giving the crossword thing a try. Will he be able to find out who he is-- and who he wants to be?

This book will resonate with any young adult as it hits on major teen issues such as self-discovery, success and failure, and relationships. The plot is unique, but seems lost and even unrealistic at times. I appreciate the diversity found in characters, but feel that their backgrounds weren't explored nearly enough. I listened to this book as an audiobook in the Libby app. and feel the narrator gets the job done, but does not provide the listener with an extraordinary listening experience. I would recommend this book for a teen who needs inspiration to find their place in the world, but not to someone who would like a solid, good read.

NS


Tuesday, January 15, 2019

One Dirty Tree

One Dirty Tree
by Noah Van Sciver
Uncivilized Books, 2018. 166 Pages. Graphic Novel

In this brief memoir, the artist switches between two significant periods of his life: 1994, living with his large Mormon family in a cramped, derelict home, and 2014, as his 30th birthday approaches. Amidst his struggle to gain a foothold in the comics business and a navigating the future (or lack therof) of his long term romantic relationship, the artist finds himself reflecting on the past. His mind is drawn to his years at One Dirty Tree, so nicknamed by his older brothers, and how his tumultuous childhood has, and continues, to influence him decades later.

Firstly, I think this book is more accurately described as a mini-memoir, or autobiographical essays in comic format. Thinking of it that way, rather than a memoir, it works for what it is. The artist is a great storyteller, and each section draws you in. The Van Sciver family dynamic is fascinating, and fans of Jeanette Walls (THE GLASS CASTLE) will find a similar look at family dysfunction. This book mostly leaves it up to the reader to make the connections and identify the effects of the past as they apply to the (near) present, which can turn into a compelling exercise in self-reflection. That all said, I'm gonna warn you, this book is a tease. I don't mean to contradict myself; I meant everything I said before. But, these short vignettes make me want to write the author and beg, "More! Write more!"

Becoming

Cover image for Becoming
Becoming
By Michelle Obama
Crown, 2018, 426 pages, Memoir

In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. As First Lady of the United States of America, she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private. A deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations.

I enjoyed learning more about Michelle Obama’s childhood growing up in the South Side of Chicago, along with her early career and meeting her husband, Barack Obama, and then seeing the change her life took as her life was lived more and more in the view of the public. Learning of Obama’s background helped me find a lot in common with her, even though our lives are fairly different. I especially appreciated that she has dedicated her life to improving the lives of those who are often overlooked or in the minority.

I listened to the audiobook version of this book, which is read by the author in a well-written, conversational style. It was like driving around town while listening to the captivating stories of a good friend at the same time.

Those who enjoy this book may also enjoy other memoirs of politicians, but I was especially reminded of Sonia Sotomayor’s memoir, My Beloved World.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

A Noble Masquerade

A Noble Masquerade
By Kristi Ann Hunter
Bethany House, 2015. 365 pgs. Romance

Lady Miranda Hawthorne is entering her fourth season and has pretty much given up on finding a match, especially with her vibrant younger sister debuting this year. Miranda is frustrated but her mother has trained her to be a proper lady in every way so she acts the part. She longs to be bold and carefree and she copes by writing secret letters to her brother's school friend where she pores out her innermost heart. She has never met the boy and has no intentions of ever mailing a single letter. Meanwhile, she is finding herself strangely attracted to her brother's new valet, but she knows that falling in love with a servant is out of the question. Soon the valet mails one of her letters and she is mortified to receive a letter back from the Duke.

This Regency romance had lots of twists and turns and more intrigue than most. I really loved Miranda's character. There aren't many romance books where the girl gets to punch the Duke in the face and still have everything work out. This is the first book I've ready by Kristi Ann Hunter but I will definitely by reading more of her books!

AL

Friday, January 11, 2019

Boots on the Ground: America's War in Vietnam

Cover image for Boots on the ground : America's war in Vietnam
Boots on the Ground: America’s War in Vietnam
by Elizabeth Partridge
Viking, 2018, 213 pages, Young Adult Non-Fiction

An exploration of the Vietnam War from many different perspectives including American soldiers, a nurse, and a Vietnamese refugee.

This young adult nonfiction book does a great job of shedding light on a really complex topic without dumbing the topic down. Each chapter tells the story of the Vietnam War from the perspective of one person, based mostly on interviews conducted by the author. Those covered in the book cover the gamut of experiences, from soldiers on the ground in Vietnam, to politicians in Washington D.C., to protesters at Woodstock, and to refugees fleeing Vietnam for their lives. By telling the story this way, readers get insights into many different aspects of the war, and the author doesn’t take sides on the divisive topic of whether the U.S. should have fought the war or not. Instead, the focus of this story is on the dignity and experiences of all of the people involved.

Most touching to me was the last chapter of the book, which covers the building of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C., and discusses what a healing experience building this memorial was for the nation at large.

This book helped clarify a topic that was always a bit fuzzy to me, and I think anyone, old or young, will benefit from reading it. A great companion piece to this book is Ken Burns’ ten-part documentary on the Vietnam War.

MB

Monday, January 7, 2019

The Annotated Little Women

The Annotated Little Women
by Louisa May Alcott
W.W. Norton and Company, 2015. 652 pages. Fiction

This annotated edition is curated by renowned Alcott scholar John Matteson and includes full page, color illustrations and stills from the various film versions of the book. The annotations range from explanations of pickled limes to descriptions of objects and authors mentioned in the story. The annotations make the timeless story of the four sisters more accessible and fresh. The volume also contains essays about the literary importance of Little Women and how it has influenced other stories about children and young adults ever since its publication.

This giant book was a pleasure to read. The only reason it is so huge is because of the 200 illustrations and the annotations that go into quite a bit of depth about different aspects of the story. The annotations were so fun to read and really added context to the story. It was delightful to revisit this childhood favorite as an adult to celebrate its 150th anniversary. 


Saturday, January 5, 2019

From Ash and Stone

From Ash and Stone
by Julie Daines
Covenant Communications, Inc. 2018, 240 pgs, Romance

Lady Margaret Grey from Hartfell had everything. Her father was a knight with a loving family, until one day when the raiders came and she lost everything and gained an ability she would rather not have. She has spent many years in London stealing to survive and has finally returned home to take her revenge on the man who stole everything she held dear from her.

This was a nice feel good romance and it was a lot of fun imagining the countryside this took place in. It was interesting following this character and the struggle she experienced from having to spend so much time without physical contact because when she touches someone she can hear and feel all of their passing thoughts and feelings.

MH

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Lies Jane Austen Told Me

Lies Jane Austen Told Me
By Julie Wright
Shadow Mountain Publishing, 2017. 315 pages. Romance

Emma loves all things Jane Austen. She believes Jane knows everything there is to know about love and romance. When Emma's boyfriend, Blake Hampton, invites her to his parents house for the weekend she expects to come home with a ring. Unfortunately, Jane Austen's assumption that a man with a good fortune must be in want of a wife is proven thoroughly untrue. Feeling betrayed by both Jane and Blake, Emma throws herself into her work and slowly finds herself attracted to her new coworker, Lucas. There's just one problem. He's Blake's brother.

This book popped up on my suggested books list a few times, so I decided to give it a shot. I liked that each chapter started off with a quote from one of Austen's novels that foreshadow what was to come. It follows the basic plot that Austen uses in her own books but modernizes it. I liked Emma and enjoyed her progress from getting over her ex to discovering new love. However, I occasionally rolled my eyes at her. Lucas was a gem. He gave the illusion of being a realistic man while still meeting the expectations of a fictional romantic interest. This romance was clean, happy, and light.

HS

Perfect Set: Game On

Perfect Set: Game On
By Melanie Jacobson
Covenant Communications, 2018, 215 pages, Romance

Bree Mercer is a sports reporter with one rule: never date a professional athlete. Ever. This rule helps her build credibility and avoid heartbreak. When she is assigned to write about Kade Townsend, a beach volleyball player, she knows it will be a tough job. After all, he hates reporters. But as she works to gain Kade's trust, she realizes that he is more than just a cocky athlete. He's kind, sincere, and persistent. Will he be the one she breaks her rule for?

I started off my holiday break by reading Perfect Set and I was not disappointed. I wanted a light, fun, and clean romance and Jacobson delivered. I liked Bree and Kade's relationship and that they both grew as the book progressed. The plot was predictable, but that's what you want and expect when you pick up a book like this. It's a great read if you want a lighthearted romance with a happy ending.

HS

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

A Madness So Discreet

A Madness So Discreet
by Mindy Mcginnis
Harper Collins, 2015, 384pgs. Young Adult

Grace Mae has been incarcerated in an insane asylum. She has been committed to hide the shame and unwedded pregnancy brings to a family and is treated in the most deplorable manner. Her life suddenly changes when she is offered the opportunity to use her talents to help a doctor with his practice. What will become of this young woman so close to the edge of sanity herself and will she be able to make a difference in the world.

Can I just say there are facets of this story lights a rage inside my soul for the history of mental health fortunately there are many forces at work making sure such things happen less often but asylum history and lobotomies make me angry. That soap box aside, I really enjoyed this book. I found it to be an engaging read as I wondered what would happen to Grace and if she would find the strength to pick up the pieces of her life and carry on. I feel like this would be a fascinating read for anyone who is interested in a fictional representation of some of the history in psychology.

MH

The Feather Thief

The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century
by Kirk Wallace Johnson
Viking, 2018. 320 pgs. Non-Fiction.

One evening in July 2009, twenty-year-old American flautist Edwin Rist broke into the Tring Museum, an outpost of the British Museum of Natural History. His objective? To make off with as many rare bird specimens as his suitcase could carry. Rist planned on keeping some of them for his own personal use, but others he planned to sell to fund a new gold flute he had his eye on. Who would (illegally) buy dead birds? Let me introduce you to the Victorian salmon fly-tying community. 

I first heard a version of this story on the podcast This American Life and worried that reading the book would feel really repetitive. That was not the case! Johnson includes so many details from Wallace’s scientific expeditions (the guy who caught the birds in the first place), to the history of fly-tying, to details on the heist itself. He also does a great job of conveying information without info-dumping. I would recommend this book for anyone who enjoys true crime stories in general, but particularly as a non-violent/gory true crime option.

AU