Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Book Review: Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult @jodipicoult

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult book cover and review
Small Great Things reads just like a Picoult novel, and that's a good thing! She has the ability to put the reader inside the story.

Ruth, an African American, has been a labor and delivery nurse for 20 years.  She is stunned when the parents of a newborn ask that she not be allowed to touch their baby. She's even more stunned when her supervisor puts a note in the chart adhereing to those wishes.

During an emergency, when Ruth is the only one available to watch the baby, he goes into cardiac arrest, and Ruth is torn about what to do.  I turns out the baby dies, and Ruth is charged with murder.  Can you say "moral dilemma?"

The other main character is Ruth's white public defender, Kennedy, who has never handled a murder case before.  It's a rocky road, given that Kennedy is adamant that you don't mention "race" in a courtroom, when Ruth knows that's exactly what this case is about.

As a white person, I was most intrigued by Kennedy's journey. It's a book that made me think about racism and what that really means.

Yes, Picoult is white.  She discusses that in her note at the end of Small Great Things, and how she didn't know if she was "qualified" to write this story.  I won't give an opinion, because I suppose that's up to the African American people that read the book.  But, I will say (again) that Small Great Things gets you thinking, and I would highly recommend it.

I don't buy many adult novels for my high school library -- I just don't have the budget -- but I think Small Great Things needs to be read by teens as well as adults, so I'm going to order it.

Funny story:  I read this book on my iPad, and since you never see the cover, I didn't think this was by Picoult.  I have a book by another author that I intend to read soon, and I thought this book was by her.  All through the book, I kept thinking, "Boy, she writes a lot like Jodi Picoult!"  Duh....

Published by Ballentine, October 11, 2016
eARC obtained from NetGalley
480 pages

Rating: 4.5/5

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Monday, October 3, 2016

Book Review: Incognita by Kristen Lippert-Martin

Incognita by Kristen Lippert-Martin book cover and review
Wow!  Incognita kept me glued to the pages.  I haven't read a book that has done that in a long time.

As I said in my review of Tabula Rasa, the premise is way out there.  But you know what? It doesn't matter.  The writing is good, I cared about the characters, and the plot clips along.

Sarah (mostly known as Angel in this book) is safe at the end of Tabula Rasa. She and Thomas are going to be reunited, and go on their first real date.  Of course all hell breaks loose.  People are after Angel again, and Thomas is kidnapped.  She gets help from another kid who seems like he's been through the same thing Angel has.  But can she trust him? It's never quite clear.

The teens are running out of time because Thomas and the new kid need the antedote to whatever strange drug they have been given or they will loose all of their memories.  The attacks are relentless.  Every time it seems they are close to surviving, they are again thwarted by "the bad guys," of which there are many.  They can trust no one.

Incognita has a resolution for all of the characters, although it might not be the ideal we are hoping for.  I would definitely recommend reading Tabula Rasa first. The series is supposed to be a trilogy, and I'm looking forward to the third book, because I want a happier ending!

Published by Carolrhoda, October 1, 2016
eARC obtained from Edelweiss
272 pages

Rating: 4/5

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Saturday, October 1, 2016

The Other Side of Life - Fall Decorating

I've been posting about building and decorating my new house at my other blog:  If you are interested, you can check out all of my posts.  But here's my Fall Decorating entry:

Having a new house has made decorating for the seasons much more fun! I don't like to fill the house up -- I'm very much anti-clutter, but I've added a few subtle touches to our house for fall.

#millsnewhouse Burlap wreath, Fall decorating, front door decorations
Burlap wreaths are all the rage right now, but let me tell you, I did not find this very easy to make.  It took a lot of time (and a lot of ribbon - 50 feet!) And my fingers were sore by the time I was finished.  But I'm happy with the way it turned out. I plan to replace the bow for Christmas and maybe the rest of the holidays too!

#millsnewhouse Burlap wreath, Fall decorating, front door decorations

#millsnewhouse Burlap wreath, Fall decorating, front door decorations

I also added a few things to the mantle and hearth.  Silk leaves and a few mini clothespins is all it took.

#millsnewhouse Fall mantle, Fall decorating

#millsnewhouse Fall mantle, Fall decorating

My sister made this centerpiece and it looks great on my dining room table (built by The wreath is made from a dropcloth!

#millsnewhouse fall decorating, drop cloth wreath, fall centerpiece

Thanks for stopping by.  I'd love to see your fall decorating ideas in the comments!

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2016 EBook Challenge - Post Your October Reviews Here

2016 EBook Reading Challenge
Hard to believe it's October already! I hope you are making more progress than I am on your EBook Reading Challenge!  Thanks for joining us.

You can sign up for the 2016 EBook Reading Challenge here.

You can see my progress on my 2016 Reading Challenges Page.

Here's a link to the page to record you September Reviews.

Post your October reviews below:

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Monday, September 26, 2016

Book Review: Like a River Glorious by Rae Carson @raecarson

Like a River Glorious by Rae Carson book cover and review
Like a River Glorious is more relentless than the first book, Walk on Earth a Stranger.

Leah (Lee) and her friends are subjected to one hardship after another as they try to stake their claims and defend themselves against claim jumpers and much worse.

I like Leah because she's so strong. She makes a decision and goes for it.  She has come to love the rest of the caravan like family and is constantly worried for their safety, given she knows her Uncle Hiram is coming after her. I love every character in this book, even those that are evil.  Carson is really good at building them up. Every time Hiram appeared on the page I got an uncomfortable feeling in my stomach.

Jefferson is still her good friend, and he has made it clear he wants more than friendship. I won't say any more about that.  Leah's powers are continuing to help, and there's more to that aspect of the story too.

I enjoy these stories because the are historically accurate, and history is my favorite genre. But, they have the little touch of magic that adds additional excitement and intrigue.

The ending is satisfying.  They are in a good place.  But I'm sure it's not going to stay that way since there's going to be another book.  Like a River Glorious can be recommended to teens who like historical fiction or magic -- this one should satisfy both. But I highly recommend reading Walk on Earth a Stranger first.

Published by Greenwillow, September 27, 2016
eARC obtained from Edelweiss
416 pages

Rating: 5/5

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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Book Review: Yesternight by Cat Winters

Yesternight by Cat Winters book cover and review
In YesternightCat Winters has once again woven together a compelling tale of the supernatural with the historical.

It's 1925 and Alice is a psychologist who spends her time traveling around giving IQ tests to school children to identify those that need assistance.  But what she finds in Gordon Bay, Oregon, is something quite unexpected.  Janie O'Daire remembers things from a different time and place as if she's lived through these events.  She remembers her sister and a life in Kansas. She remembers drowning.

Being a scientist, Alice cannot believe these stories.  But the child is also a math genius, and as Alice begins to investigate, she can't overlook the facts.  Janie is the reincarnated version of a girl named Violet.  Being a female in a male profession is hard enough for Alice, but investigating a reincarnation is sure to ruin her professionally.  But investigate she does.  She and Alice's father and mother take Alice to Kansas to meet the person who was once her sister.  All of Alice's feelings are confirmed, and she is convinced of Alice's reincarnation.

Alice herself has a somewhat cloudy past and as she begins to believe, she also wonders if some of the weird things she has experienced are because she is also reincarnated.  The rest of the story follows Alice, assisted by Janie's father, as she investigates her own possible past life at a hotel called Yesternight.

Yesternight is well paced and kept my interest, as Winters always does.  The resolution was unexpected and I'm not sure I liked it, but I guess it fit.  Winters is a favorite author of mine, and I've read all of her books. Yesternight isn't my favorite, but I'll still look forward to reading her next creation.

Yesternight is an adult book (she's written for both teens and adults) and contains more sexual references than any of her other novels. I would only recommend this to mature teens.

Published by William Morrow, October 4, 2016
eARC obtained from Edelweiss
400 pages

Rating: 4/5

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Sunday, September 18, 2016

The Other Side of Life - Visit My Other Blog!

I haven't posted to my other blog for several years, but I'm in the process of completing a year-long house build and am now decorating, so I'd like to share my journey with you if you are interested.  Below I've posted part of my first post.  If you are interested, please follow me at

To start out, I'm just going to post a few pictures of the whole project.  My son is my contractor, which made this all the more special. It was very much a "hands on" project for me, so we are all proud of our accomplishments.

My son, the contractor, makes beautiful things! You can see many of creations at Follow him to see the beautiful furniture and other pieces he creates.

#millsnewhouse Land Cleared

#millsnewhouse basement

#millsnewhouse Framing
#millsnewhouse Almost finished!
Almost Finished! Taken July 1, 2016
We began clearing the land in early September, 2015.  Follow me, and I'll share our journey with you!

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Friday, September 16, 2016

Stacking the Shelves - A Thriller

I couldn't resist one book this week.  A thriller, compared to Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train. This book doesn't even release until January but it's already been optioned for a film.

For Review:

The Girl Before by J. P. Delaney book cover
The Girl Before, by J. P. Delaney from NetGalley

Did you find some thing that you couldn't pass on this week? Let me know! Thanks for stopping by and don't forget to visit our hosts, Team Tynga's Reviews. Happy Reading!

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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Book Review: The Hawkweed Prophecy by Irena Brignull

The Hawkweed Prophecy by Irena Brignull book cover and review
The Hawkweed Prophecy is a book about witches.  If you like witch stories, this is a good one, even if a bit long.

The 100-year-old prophecy says that one of the Hawkweed sisters will give birth to the next queen.  Raven Hawkweed is bound and determined that her daughter will be the queen, so she uses all her witchly powers to make sure her sister, Charlock, does not give birth to a baby girl.  When she finds out that Charlock is pregnant with a baby girl, she switches the baby with another newborn.  So Ember Hawkweed is a witch with no powers.

Poppy is a misfit.  Weird things are always happening around her, and she feels responsible, but she doesn't know why these things happen.  She and her father have had to move to new schools several times because of things that happen around Poppy.

When Ember and Poppy meet, an unlikely and serendipitous friendship occurs. And, we couldn't have a story without a boy.  Poppy meets Leo, and for some reason he gets her.  He doesn't think she's weird, and the attraction is strong.  Then Poppy takes Leo to meet Ember, and Ember falls hard for Leo.

The Hawkweed Prophecy rambles a bit, especially in the middle.  Poppy and Ember are building a relationship but it seemed like it took a long time, and things could have moved a bit more quickly.  There really wasn't a need for Leo, but what's a teen book without a romance?  The lore was interesting and the way the coven lived intrigued me.  I felt sorry for both Poppy and Ember - both were obviously not happy living their lives.

The ending was exciting and sad too.  At times the writing seemed like this one was more appropriate for younger teens, but I think fans of fantasy, especially involving witches will love The Hawkweed Prophecy.

Published by Weinstein Books, September 6, 2016
ARCobtained from the publisher
363 pages

Rating: 3/5

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Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Audio Book Review: Torn from Troy: Odyssey of a Slave, by Patrick Bowman

Torn from Troy by Patrick Bowman book cover and review
Torn from Troy is a retelling of The Odyssey from the point-of-view of a 15-year-old Trojan slave. For a book that I didn't have much hope for, I was really entertained.

Alexi is "Torn from Troy" when they are invaded by the Greeks.  He is enslaved by none other than Odysseus himself.  Alexi despises the Greeks, and has difficulty holding his tongue, which gets him into trouble over and over.  The only thing that saves him is his knowledge of Trojan healing methods, which are more advanced than the Greeks'.

They face a harrowing, storm-ridden sea journey and have to fight off an advancing army. They are almost taken under the spell of the Lotus-eaters and almost eaten by a Cyclops. Alexi learns some secrets and is also keeping some of his own. He earns some respect from Odysseus.  And in the end, we are left hanging as to what will be Alexi's fate.

I must admit that I know only the basic facts about The Odyssey, so I'm not sure how exactly this portrays that story. But Torn from Troy was exciting and fast-paced.  Both Odysseus and Alexi are clever and get themselves (and all the Greeks) out of several life-threatening situations. Yes, some of it is a bit over the top and there is a lot of luck, but it's all great entertainment.

The audiobook, narrated by Gerard Doyle, is very good.  The voices were helpful and not over the top.  Very easy to listen to and understand.

There are two more books in the series, Cursed by the Sea God and Arrow through the Axes, and I'm looking forward to continuing. Recommend this to younger readers who enjoy mythical adventures.

Published by Ronsdale Press, 2011, audio by Post Hypnotic Press
Audiobook obtained from Sync YA Literature
200 pages

Rating: 4/5

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