Saturday, May 19, 2012

"Gideon's Sword"

By Doug Preston & Lincoln Child
342 Pages

I had heard wonderful things about this author duo.  I was expecting this book to be a really good read. I read the whole book , but have to admit that I am not sure that I will read the next in the Gideon Crew series.  Gideon sees his father gunned down and on his mother's death bed, finds out that his dad was used as a scapegoat and his mother wants him to get revenge. Well, he does and does such a great job that an "agency" hires him to do an assignment that no one thinks he can do since he is an amateur.  Well, he finished the assignment but in doing so the authors have him getting by with  very unrealistic things. I love mystery/suspense novels and this didn't hold my interest very well. I like to be on the "edge of my seat" and wasn't with this book.

"Celebrity In Death"

By J. D. Robb              
389 pages

If you have read all of the other "In Death" books by J. D. Robb you will enjoy this one just as much as her other books.  Typical Eve Dallas style, only this time the murder happens while she, Roarke, Peabody, McNab, Nadine, and the Miras are all at a dinner party celebrating the making of the movie about the Icove murders - which came from the book Nadine wrote about the Icoves. This time is more personal, not only because they were in attendance when the murder occurred, but also because the actress playing Peabody is the one who is murdered and they all struggle with the resemblance. A quick and easy read and although there isn't as much " butt kicking" as usual, it is still a good book.

Friday, May 18, 2012

"Cult Insanity" by Irene Spencer

330 pages

Life was never easy for Irene Spencer. She was born into a polygamist family and at a 16 became the second wife of a much older man named Verlan LeBaron. She would eventually bear 13 of his 54 children and struggle to provide for all of them. Irene put up with it all because she was raised to believe that living in polygamy was the only way to get to heaven. However, things got even worse when her brother-in-law Ervil gained power as a self-proclaimed prophet sent by God to put His people in order. As he became more and more extreme, it became clear that Ervil was insane. Irene realized that she would have to go against everything she'd been taught to keep herself and her children safe.

This is a really intense memoir. I thought it felt a bit repetitive at times, but for the most part Irene did a great job of telling her story. The way that she stayed strong and fought for what she cared about throughout the whole ordeal is an inspiration. Considering that she'd been 
brainwashed from the time she was born, it's amazing that she managed to break free of the cult. A definite must-read for anyone who is interested in modern polygamist groups. 

"Insurgent" by Veronica Roth

525 pages

At the end of "Divergent," everything in Tris' world fell apart. She found out that war is brewing between factions, and she lost people she loved in the first battle. Now, in "Insurgent," she's on the run with some of her fellow Dauntless. They don't know where to go or whom to trust. To make matters worse, it appears that the Erudite leadership is looking for and rounding up the Divergent--and the reason for that can't be good. Tris, Tobias, and the others have to make some serious choices about where their loyalties lie. 

As far as the plot goes, I loved this story. The action begins on the first page and doesn't let up at all. I like that there is some gray area when it comes to the bad guys--who they are, their motives, etc. There are some good surprising twists along the way. I like the way that Tris is strong but a little unsure of herself--I feel like she's a good role model because she has doubts (which makes her easy to relate to) but she ultimately trusts her own instincts and judgment. However, I felt like the rest of the  characters fell flat in this one. For some reason, I don't really like Tobias and I don't see what Tris sees in him, and their relationship feels totally superficial to me. Also, wish there was more about Caleb. He's a really interesting character, and I wish Roth had developed his part of the story more. Despite those few complaints, I think "Insurgent" is a strong follow-up to "Divergent."

"The Buntline Special" by Mike Resnick

320 pages

The year is 1881. The Mississippi River divides the United States from the Indian nations of the West. The only thing keeping the US from expanding is the magic of powerful Indian medicine men. The America government is desperate to expand its territory (since it's the "destiny" of the US and all), so it sends Thomas Edison out West to the town of Tombstone, Arizona, to discover a scientific answer to the Indians' magic. When he arrives, he brings some of his other inventions to the town: horseless carriages, electric streetlights, and *ahem* robotic prostitutes. Meanwhile, Wyatt Earp and his brothers are hired to protect the genius. Problem is, Edison and Earp have enemies who make the Indian threat seem tame--the Clayton gang. When they find themselves in over their heads, Earp's old friends Doc Holliday and Bat Masterson ride into help. Though you'd think they'd get some good-karma by offering their assistance, Bat is turned into--what else--a bat and Doc is stalked by a zombie gunslinger. The gang will have to do some quick thinking--and shooting--to get out of this one.

I enjoyed every bit of this fast-paced story. Usually I want some more character development than what this one has, but because it's so action-oriented I was okay with a little less info in that department. I loved all the funky steampunkness and the wacky dialogue. The book kept me guessing about what was going to happen next and made me laugh as well. Fun, fun, fun!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Book Thief

by Markus Zusak
Narrated by Allan Corduner
552 pages

This is an incredible novel about a German girl living in Nazi Germany during World War II.  This novel, narrated by Death, tells how Liesel became a book thief.  This is the story of Liesel, the people she loves, and the negative impact of the Nazis.  This is an incredibly sad and moving tale.  Be prepared to cry.

I loved this book.  This is a great book for teens and adults.  However, I would not necessarily recommend this one for pre-teens because there is a fair amount of cursing in both German and English in this book.  If cursing is not an issue, this is a great read.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Curses! A F***ed-Up Fairy Tale by J.A. Kazimer

308 pages, 2012

If you like alternative fairy tales such as Fractured Fairy Tales, Shrek, Once Upon a Time or Grimm you will probably enjoy Curses! But be warned -- this is not a child's fairy tale.

RJ finds himself with a lot of extra time on his hands after he is released from the villians union. Not only does he not have the support of the union, but he can't even perform dasterdly deeds due to a curse cast on him. What's a villian to do but get roped into solving a royal murder.

Full of the fairy tale characters you've grown to love, including Prince Charming, Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood, along with contract killing bluebirds, this tongue-in-cheek fairytale had me laughing outloud more than a few times. I can't wait for Kazimer's next F***ed-Up fairy tale.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Dressmaker

The Dressmaker
by Kate Alcott
304 pages

Tess Collins is an aspiring seamstress wanting to escape her servant role in England.  With some gumption and a bit of luck, she lands the role of personal maid to Lady Duff Gordon, a world famous designer, who is traveling on the Titanic.  Even though it's still a servant role, Tess takes the position under the promise Lady Duff Gordon makes to her to show her the way into the fashion world.
While on the Titanic, Tess meets two men: one, a rough around the edges but sweet sailor, and the other a charming millionaire from Chicago.  Both are wildly different, but they both capture her heart in some way.  When the Titanic hits the iceberg, both men make sure that Tess is on one of the life boats.  Lady Duff Gordon ends up in a different lifeboat, and the aftermath of that night is what sets the stage for the rest of the book.

I really liked the book.  Historical fiction is my favorite genre of books, and while Tess may be a fictional character, the events that she lived through were very real.  It was interesting to read about the aftermath of the Titanic.  I didn't know about the court proceedings or what was being printed in the newspapers.  This book is an excellent read to get a different aspect of the tragedy that is the Titanic.