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Monthly Archives: August 2012

Feature & Follow (4)

So this week, it looks like Parajunkee and Alison Can Read, the hosts of this great meme have 2 different questions – so i’m going to answer them both ;)

Q: Best Cover? What is the best cover of a book that you’ve read and didn’t like?

This question came from Parajunkee and made me think. So often I am drawn in by a cover and then the book is only so-so…so I went to dig through my goodreads records of books that I have read this year and since I am sitting at 250+ books it took a few minutes. But I finally found one. I think I might be one of the few people in the world who read, but didn’t really enjoy Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally. It wasn’t so much the romance aspect of the book that I had issues with (although there were some that I had, mostly focused on a TSTL high school female…and yes, I remember being like that once), but rather the perpetuating of the dumb jock stereotype (taking shop class as a senior in high school, while trying to get into the University of Alabama), or the fact that the author used a real NFL team in the book but made up her own players (I would have preferred that she make up a team – would have made it more believable). But I did like the cover – very simple, whimsical and you can obviously tell that it is going to be a YA romance off the bat.

Q: Best cover? What is the best cover of a book that you’ve read and loved?
Alison Can Read’s question was much easier to answer and I knew what book I was going to use as soon as I read it. The cover of Daughter of Smoke and Bone immediately drew me to it and I was soon sucked into the audiobook. The narrator was awesome and only served to enhance the plot. This book had a great mix of contemporary and fantasy elements and made me want to visit Prague. I loved the mysterious nature of the cover, the person with the mask trying to hide their identity, but at the same time, the blue of the mask marking them more of as an individual. This book got my first 5 star read of the one, and one of only 5 that I have given out so far. However, I am now stuck waiting (albeit rather impatiently for the next book to come out, and the cover for it, seems to be equally as great and mysterious).

 
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Posted by on August 31, 2012 in Blog Hop, FEature & Follow

 

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Review – Code Name Verity – Elizabeth Wein

Code Name Verity
Author: Elizabeth Wein

Book Description:
I have two weeks. You’ll shoot me at the end no matter what I do.

That’s what you do to enemy agents. It’s what we do to enemy agents. But I look at all the dark and twisted roads ahead and cooperation is the easy way out. Possibly the only way out for a girl caught red-handed doing dirty work like mine — and I will do anything, anything, to avoid SS-Hauptsturmführer von Linden interrogating me again.

He has said that I can have as much paper as I need. All I have to do is cough up everything I can remember about the British War Effort. And I’m going to. But the story of how I came to be here starts with my friend Maddie. She is the pilot who flew me into France — an Allied Invasion of Two.

We are a sensational team.

Review:
I should have enjoyed the book more than I did. Its set during WW2 which is a time period of interest to me; it featured 2 teenage girls in interesting/difficult situations and in general, the description just sucked me in. Unfortunately, it just didn’t work. I can’t describe what it was or why I struggled with it – I just know that once I put it down, I wasn’t all that motivated to pick it up and while I did finish reading it, it wasn’t a completely enjoyable read, but it wasn’t completely horrendous either (I don’t even know if that makes sense)…

Maybe others will enjoy it more than I did, but the highest I can give it is 2 stars – meaning that it was ok but not enough for me to want to recommend it. However, if you are interested in reading it, the following are the links for purchasing it on Amazon:

Code Name Verity (Hardcover)
Code Name Verity (Kindle)

 
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Posted by on August 31, 2012 in Book Review

 

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Read-Along – Les Miserables

Thanks to Tien of Tien’s Blurb for hosting the above read-along.

I have to admit that I love the musical of Les Miserables, but I have never actually read the book. So with the upcoming new movie that is being released in December, I am excited to join in this read-along.

If anyone is interested in joining us, you can click on the Les Miserables image above and it will take you to the hosting blog. The schedule for the read-along is as follows:

15 Sept – 28 Sept: Fantine
29 Sept – 12 Oct: Cosette
13 Oct – 26 Oct: Marius
27 Oct – 9 Nov: Saint Denis
10 Nov – 23 Nov: Jean Valjean
1 Dec: Final Review

Tien will be using the Signet Classics version of the book available through Amazon Les Misérables (Signet Classics). I am still looking for a good kindle version to read – so ideas are welcome and I will post my version choice when I figure it out.

I look forward to chatting with people about it.

 
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Posted by on August 30, 2012 in Read-Along

 

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Review – Seriously…I’m Kidding – Ellen DeGeneres

Seriously…I’m Kidding
Author/Narrator: Ellen DeGeneres
Run Time: 3 hrs, 7 minutes

Book Description:
“Sometimes the greatest things are the most embarrassing.” Ellen Degeneres’ winning, upbeat candor has made her show one of the most popular, resilient and honored daytime shows on the air. (To date, it has won no fewer than 31 Emmys.) Seriously… I’m Kidding, Degeneres’ first book in eight years, brings us up to date about the life of a kindhearted woman who bowed out of American Idol because she didn’t want to be mean. Lively; hilarious; often sweetly poignant.

Review:
I’ll be the first to admit that I am not a huge Ellen DeGeneres fan – I don’t know why, but I just don’t really like her. However, I did enjoy her narration of Dory in Finding Nemo…I mean, I walked around for days with “just keep swimming” stuck in my head…lol! However, when I was browsing the shelves at the library for a short-ish audiobook to fill in the time towards the end of a month, and I saw that this one was only 3 hours, I figured what the heck…why not.

I’ll also admit that authors for narrators typically don’t work for me because they don’t have the training that I feel they need in order to be successful. But I was proved wrong. Ellen’s narration had me in tears several times during this relatively short listen. I’m sure my co-workers were looking at me like I was insane because I was definitely laughing out loud.

One of the things that I really enjoyed about the book was how she took it from a listeners perspective and said listeners, instead of readers…she even devoted a chapter to random noises just for the audiobook people (and no I’m not kidding about that). Either way, I would recommend this for a quick, lite listening, if you need a bit of humor to get through the day. Overall, I’d give it 3 stars

 
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Posted by on August 30, 2012 in Book Review

 

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Review – Monique and the Mango Rains – Kris Holloway

Monique and the Mango Rains
Author: Kris Holloway & John Bidwell

Book Description:
Monique and the Mango Rains is the compelling story of a rare friendship between a young Peace Corps volunteer and a midwife who became a legend. Monique Dembele saved lives and dispensed hope in a place where childbirth is a life-and-death matter. This book tells of her unquenchable passion to better the lives of women and children in the face of poverty, unhappy marriages, and endless backbreaking work. Monique’s buoyant humor and willingness to defy tradition were uniquely hers. In the course of this deeply personal narrative, as readers immerse themselves in the rhythms of West African village life, they come to know Monique as friend, mother, and inspired woman.

Review:
Over the last few months, I have discovered that various peace corps memoirs are a trove of information for various countries in my around the world challenge, because they are often set in countries that don’t have all that many book set in them, or written about them. Monique and the Mango Rains was no exception – through it we are told of the friendship that developed over the course of the 2 years that Kris Holloway was assigned to Mali for her Peace Corps job, working with Monique, who was one of the few midwives in the area, and the one who had the highest success rate in working with the women and children.

For me, it was a look at two lives that were so vastly different growing up, that merged for that two year period, and then remained merged over the next several years. They never truly diverged from each other. I felt myself want to cheer with Monique and Kris when they helped save a baby from dying of malnutrition, or when they were able to replace the birthing house with funds provided by the Peace Corps. There was just so much to be learned through-out the course of the book. Ultimately through, there was a sad ending which is disclosed in the opening to the book and I felt myself tearing up as I read that.

This book is a quick read, but I highly recommend it if people would like an incite into life in Western Africa in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s.

Monique and Kris’s story can be purchased from Amazon here: Monique and the Mango Rains: Two Years with a Midwife in Mali (paperback). And personally, I’ll be donating the copy that I bought to the library because who knows, maybe a teenager reading this book will be inspired to join the Peace Corps just like Kris and maybe they’ll meet their own Monique.

 
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Posted by on August 29, 2012 in Book Review

 

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Review – Cold Comfort – Quentin Bates (@graskeggur)

Cold Comfort
Author: Quentin Bates
Series: #2 in the Gunnhilder Mystery

Narrator: Davina Porter
Run Time: 12 hours, 12 min

Review Copy Provided by AudiobookJukebox Solid Gold Reviewer program

Book Description:
Officer Gunnhildur, recently promoted from her post in rural Iceland to Reykjavík’s Serious Crime Unit, is tasked with hunting down escaped convict Long Ommi, who has embarked on a spree of violent score-settling in and around the city. Meanwhile, she’s also investigating the murder of a fitness guru in her own city-center apartment. As Gunna delves into the cases, she unearths some unwelcome secrets and influential friends shared by both guru and convict. Set in an Iceland plagued by an ongoing financial crisis, Gunna has to take stock of the whirlwind changes that have swept through the country—and the fact that at the highest levels of power, the system’s endemic corruption still leads, inevitably, to murder.

Review:
I have to admit after reading the first book in the series, I wasn’t sure if I was going to continue. The author provided an interesting look into the world of financial crime, but for some reason it just didn’t really work for me. It wasn’t in the writing style, but rather the subject. However, I typically have a rule of trying at least 2 books in any series before deciding one way or another whether I’ll continue or not. So when the second book showed up as a review copy, I jumped on the chance to listen to it, and see if maybe that changed my level of enjoyment of the series (as it has been known to before – either for the good or the bad). And I was pleasantly surprised.

Cold Comfort pick up a few months after the events of Frozen Assets, and for me, it was like seeing into the lives of Gunnhildur and her family and friends. When it came to character development, I found that this installment had much more description and I felt like I got to know them. Having the narration of Davina Porter also helped, because I can only assume that she received training in how to say certain names and words in Icelandic – although since I don’t speak the language, i can’t say so for sure…The mystery is the story kept me guessing until the very end and the person who did it, wasn’t the one that I expected it to be.

I’ll have to admit that i have a certain bias when it comes to Davina Porter’s narration – to me, she is the epitome of an audiobook narrator and I judge many of the other books that I listen to against my experiences listening to her. And her narration of Cold Comfort didn’t disappoint. For a non-Icelandic speaker, the pronunciation of certain names/words sounded authentic (although, I would love to hear the authors take on that) and it helped me be able to visualize in my head how to sound them out in the future. Although Icelandic, Finnish or another Scandinavian language is on my to-learn pile for sometime in the future. Although I have to admit that a few times while I was listening, I thought that I picked up on more of an English accent than what I assume an Icelandic one would be – but it wasn’t enough to distract me from the narration.

I have been impressed with previous audiobooks released by AudioGO in the past and this one was no exception. I’ll definitely continue to look to them for more audiobooks in the future. All in all, I have to say that I was glad I continued with the series and hope to see book 3 in the near future (the author has the title posted to his website, so I can only hope). I would recommend this series to people who like the slower pace of Henning Mankell, vice the faster Steig Larsson, as well as anyone who likes James Thompson, although Bates isn’t quite as dark.

You can purchase the book from Amazon Cold Comfort: An Officer Gunnhildur Mystery (Officer Gunnhildur Mysteries) (Hardcover), Cold Comfort: An Officer Gunnhildur Mystery (Officer Gunnhildur Mysteries) (Kindle) or Cold Comfort: An Officer Gunnhildur Mystery (Audiobook). If can also be purchased from audible.com (account required).

 
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Posted by on August 28, 2012 in Book Review

 

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Recommend A…book with a character who plays a sport

Playing Hurt – Holly Schindler
Flux – March 8, 2011
Tradesize Paperback – 312 pages

Purchase from Amazon Playing Hurt (Paperback) or Playing Hurt (Kindle)

Star basketball player Chelsea “Nitro” Keyes had the promise of a full ride to college—and everyone’s admiration in her hometown. But everything changed senior year, when she took a horrible fall during a game. Now a metal plate holds her together and she feels like a stranger in her own family.

As a graduation present, Chelsea’s dad springs for a three-week summer “boot camp” program at a northern Minnesota lake resort. There, she’s immediately drawn to her trainer, Clint, a nineteen-year-old ex-hockey player who’s haunted by his own traumatic past. As they grow close, Chelsea is torn between her feelings for Clint and her loyalty to her devoted boyfriend back home. Will an unexpected romance just end up causing Chelsea and Clint more pain—or finally heal their heartbreak?


What I liked the most about this book wasn’t that it focused on the sport, but rather the recovery after getting hurt and it wasn’t idealized in a way that made no sense. You saw the pain the Chelsea was going through to try and regain herself, how she felt like she had lost a part of her. And you could see the same reflected in Clint. Although, I did want to beat them over the head a few times with dumb teenager stuff…but I figure that is the case in most YA…Overall, I gave it 3 stars and will be interested to check out more of the authors stuff in the future.

 
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Posted by on August 27, 2012 in Recommend A...

 

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