Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Book Review: A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas book cover and review
Wow! A Court of Wings and Ruin is just stunning in its complex world and nonstop action.

Feyre and Rhys and all of the High Lords of Prythian are in the fight of their lives (again.) As the book opens, Feyre is with Tamlin pretending that she was forced to be with Rhys and the Night Court.  She's gathering information to help learn how to defeat Hybern's massive army. She eventually returns to the Night Court and much of the book is spent preparing for this inevitable attack, trying to get the other High Lords to band together to save the world as they know it.  But will it be enough?

A Court of Wings and Ruin is a long book.  And I worried that the detail would bog down the plot. There would be a slow moving section of the story.  But I didn't find that at all.  There were constant challenges and obstacles to overcome.  Additional characters appeared and the addition of many twists all throughout the story made the entire book compelling.

A Court of Wings and Ruin, as are all the book in the series, is very detailed.  It's hard to keep all the lords and courts straight.  Keeping track of the characters and constantly changing allegiances is challenging. But that's also what made me love this series.  I very rarely plan to read a series again (I'm just not a re-reader, in general), but there is enough that I missed in the first book (and second) that I think I would thoroughly enjoy reading all three books again at some point.  Things that you gloss over and think aren't important become very meaningful in future books.

I highly recommend A Court of Wings and Ruin and the entire series (A Court of Thorns and Roses and A Court of Mist and Fury) to mature young adults and adults. "Mature" because these books are pretty sexually graphic. It is a great fantasy world that will keep you captivated.

Published by Bloomsbury Childrens, May 2, 2017
Copy obtained from the library
720 pages

Rating: 4.5/5

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Monday, August 21, 2017

Audio Book Review: Gray Mountain by John Grisham

Gray Mountain by John Grisham book cover and review
It's been a while since I've read a John Grisham, and while I enjoyed Gray Mountain, it wasn't a typical, heart-pounding drama like The Firm (one of my favorites of his.)

Gray Mountain is the story of a person, Samantha Kofer, not of a dramatic court case.  Samantha has been laid off from her mega law firm in New York because of the recession. She is working as an unpaid intern for a legal aid clinic in back woods Appalachia. Throughout the book, Samantha is deciding if she wants to return to New York and make a lot of money in a city she loves working at a job she hates, or stay in Brady, Virginia, where she feels like she can really help some people, but there's no social life and little opportunity for a large salary.

From the beginning, a savvy reader will know where Samantha is going to end up, but not exactly how she will reach this decision.  Grisham writes well and makes it interesting.  There are several other very interesting characters and a surprising twist in the middle of the book. The horrors of the coal industry, which if Grisham has done his usual research are mostly true, are horrifying and heartbreaking.  So there is an "issue" here, but not one large case filled with courtroom intrigue.

We get an ending for Samantha--a decision.  But there isn't any real closure to the many other side stories and cases that are outstanding  I've seen some reviewers who wonder if there will be another story about Samantha so we can find the answers that are missing from Gray Mountain, but nothing from Grisham.

The audiobook is narrated by Catherine Taber, who is a bit slow paced, but not enough for me to speed it up. All of her southern accents sound the same, so once in a while, I got confused about which character was speaking, but once again, it wasn't too big of a problem.

Gray Mountain is a worthwhile read, but a bit different that Grisham's usual courtroom sagas.

Published by Doubleday, 2014, audio book by Random House
Audiobook obtained from the library
480 pages

Rating: 3.5/5

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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by Rowling, Tiffany, & Thorne

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child book cover and review
We are all desperate for more Harry Potter and the story of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was great but left me wanting...

Harry and Draco Malfoy's kids, Albus and Scorpius, are going to Hogwarts. Surprisingly, they become friends.  When they decide to steal a time turner and go back in time to save the life of an old character, all hell breaks loose.  Well, of course it does.  Everyone knows you can't go back and change a huge event without serious consequences in the present.  And Albus and Scorpius find this out very quickly.  And then they try to undo what they've done.

You can probably guess this is a very exciting story. Fit for Harry Potter.  But the writing, that of a play script, just didn't do it for me.  I so wanted J. K. to just tell the story.  Give me the descriptions of setting and characters.  I wanted to feel immersed as I did with the other Harry Potter novels.  But Harry Potter and the Cursed Child felt very superficial.  Like I was being told a story instead of living in it.

I want more.  I feel cheated.  But I would still recommend Harry Potter and the Cursed Child to Potter fans.  After all, it's the only game in town.

Published by Arthur A. Levine Books, 2016
Copy obtained from the library
327 pages

Rating: 3/5

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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Book Review: After the Game by Abbi Glines

After the Game, by Abbi Glines book cover and review
I'm picky about my romantic contemporary novels, but After the Game has enough substance included, and I really enjoyed it.

The story of Riley and Brady is a high school romance with an emphasis on family, forgiveness, and responsibility. Riley and her parents have recently returned to Lawton, Alabama, after being run out of town because she accused Rhett, the high school football star, of rape.  They have returned to take care of Riley’s grandmother, who is suffering from Alzheimer's.  Riley has also brought a child that was a product of that rape. Rhett is away at college, living the dream as if nothing happened.

Riley is shunned, and sometimes worse, by pretty much everyone in the town. No one believed her about the rape, and no one knows about the baby.  No one has been welcoming; in fact, her old friends have been much the opposite-- until Brady, a football star who was Rhett's best friend, picks her and the baby up during a rainstorm.

Riley’s parents are refreshingly present and supportive.  The story follows the expected path, but there is some depth added with the Alzheimer’s angle and also Brady dealing with seeing his father having sex with a woman who is not Brady’s mother.

Brady is the best quarterback in the nation, and the team is on their way to a state championship.  So developing a relationship with Riley and revealing his father’s transgressions are not something Brady needs to focus on with his scholarship on the line.  But he cannot avoid either one of these issues.

Brady is a “too good to be true” guy and Riley is a  bit perfect for a teen mom, but their relationship takes a natural, slow progression that is refreshing. For teens who enjoy a feel-good high school romance, this one will definitely satisfy.

Published by Simon Pulse, August 22, 2017
ARC obtained from Libraries Unlimited
352 pages

Rating: 4/5

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Monday, August 14, 2017

Book Review: Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

Everything, Everything, by Nicola Yoon book cover and review
Everything, Everything is a quick, enjoyable read with an interesting premise.

Maddy has a disease that has made her allergic to everything. She has to stay in her house in isolation from everyone and everything besides her mother and her nurse.  Anyone coming to visit has to go through a pretty severe decontamination process.

A new family moves in next door and Olly, a teen boy, catches Maddy's eye.  They begin to communicate through their windows, and then on the computer.  Soon Maddy's nurse is allowing Olly secret visits, as long as they don't touch.

Eventually Maddy's mom finds out, and puts an end to it.  Maddy is depressed and can't stand not being allowed to communicate with Olly, but she knows it's a relationship destined for ruin. Or is it?

As a reader, you really want the story to have a happy ending, and Yoon devises a way.  I suspected something like this -- but didn't know exactly how it would play out.  So you get some closure and a satisfying conclusion.

Everything, Everything is very quick and hard to put down. It's fluff, and a bit predictable, but sometimes that's what you want.  I'm pretty picky about my contemporaries, and I'm glad I chose this one.

Published by Delacorte, 2015
Copy obtained from the library
 310 pages

Rating: 4/5

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Monday, August 7, 2017

Book Review: Scythe by Neal Shusterman

Scythe, by Neal Shusterman, book cover and review
I don't know what's the matter with me, but Scythe is yet another "did not finish" for me.

I really like the unique premise.  Since there is no more natural death by accident or disease, there are a group of people called Scythes that pick and choose which people must die to keep population growth to a minimum.  The story is about two teens that have been chosen to be trained to be Scythes.

I read half of Scythe and decided it was not for me.  I've been reading for over a week, and I'm only halfway through! I just keep finding things to do besides reading.  So, why?

I think one thing is the flippant, almost tongue-in-cheek tone of the story.  It almost seemed light and humorous at times.  I found this incongruous.  Secondly, I felt the pace really bogged down.  It was time for something to happen, and I was losing patience.

The premise is great, and I'm looking forward to the movie, but when I find myself hesitating to read, then I need to move on.

A couple of my book club kids really loved Scythe, so this is a "me, not the book" thing (and, after all, I'm not the intended audience.)

Published by Simon & Schuster BFYR, 2016
Copy obtained from the library
250/435 pages

Rating: DNF

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Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Book Review: Blight by Alexandra Duncan @DuncanAlexandra ‏

Blight, by Alexandra Duncan book cover and review
I was pleasantly surprised by how absorbed I became while reading Blight

We are introduced to a dystopian world controlled by big corporations. Yes, it is a somewhat familiar trope, but like I said, it was good.  Tempest is our main character.  She lives on a giant corn farm in Georgia.  It is run by AgraStar.  She was taken in and raised by the corporation after she was orphaned.  She now works as a security officer for them.  Basically, she's an indentured servant.  But she's happy.

Until...things go wrong on a security assignment, and they end up being attacked by scavengers - people who steal rather than work for the company.  And, as this attack is happening a bad explosion occurs at the research facility for AgraStar. Very quickly all of the vegetation around them is dead. And the blight continues to spread. Tempest finds herself on the run with an unlikely companion - one of the scavengers named Alder.  She and Alder keep on the run to avoid the Blight.  But they also must avoid AgriStar and most importantly, the gangs that will capture and kill both of them, no matter what their beliefs.

Of course, Tempest gets introduced to the beliefs of the scavengers and begins to question everything she has believed for her entire life. When she finally does reach safety -- she's not so sure she is safe.

As you can probably tell, there is a multitude of moral dilemmas touched upon in Blight. And it's also a suspenseful adventure story with characters that you might become attached to. I think my teens will enjoy this.

Published by Greenwillow, August 1, 2017
eARC obtained from Edelweiss
400 pages

Rating: 4/5

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