Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Astronaut Wives Club: A True Story by Lily Koppel

The Astronaut Wives Club gives you a glimpse into history and our race to be the first to the moon.  The behind the scenes stories are intriguing and rather intimate.

These women were essentially thrown into the frying pan and had to find a way to navigate their lives around the challenges that being an astronaut wife caused them. They had to be the "perfect" wife  and have the "perfect" marriage in order for their husbands to "ride". The success or failure of their husbands career rested on their shoulders.

This novel, is about several different groups of astronaut wives and their husbands. Each group dealt with different obstacles and despite being in similar circumstances they could never bond with one another for a variety of reasons.

The walk on the moon happened decades before, I was born but the stories told easily bring me into that period of time. This "dark" side of the space program will keep you turning the pages and hoping for a sequel.

This book is full of triumph, joy, sadness and heartbreak. Be prepared for an emotional roller coaster.

Grade: A

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Hush Little Baby by Suzanne Redfearn

Hush Little Baby is an emotional story about abuse, love, betrayal and survival.

On the surface, The Kane's are a perfect family but behind closed doors domestic violence is a way of life. Gordon is a police officer,  Jillian is an architect. They have two children, the older boy fears his father's wrath and try's for perfection in every aspect of his life. Little,  Addie is to young to be aware of the dire situation in her home.

Jillian hides her bruises well for, Gordon knows just exactly how and where to harm her so that it doesn't show. Jillian, finally reach's her breaking point --- she can no longer handle living with, Gordon.  With little thought or resources she packs up her children and flees. While on the run she lives in constant fear that Gordon will find them and end their peaceful life.

This story will keep you up all hours of the night. It is gripping and impossible to but down. An, impassive, debut from Redfearn.

Grade: A

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Up in Smoke: A Dr. Zol Szabo Medical Mystery by Ross Pennie

I must be on a roll here, dear readers. This is second book in a row, that I just don't like.
Do, I hate it? No.
Do, I love it? Obviously not but ... I can see why some might find it read worthy and entertaining.

I pushed myself to finish this book because the investigation is complex and the characters are well developed.  The idea of tobacco causing panic and deaths due to liver disease is a very intriguing and Pennie either really knows biological processes or did extensive research.

As, far as not liking this novel --- I just wasn't pulled into it and at times, it was wordy and lengthy. However, keep in mind that this is the first novel of, Pennie's that I've read. There are two other novels before this one, that had I read. might have changed my entire perspective on this novel. Because I would know the characters better and have more experience with Pennie's particular writing style.

I don't think this is a novel someone who loves medical mysteries should pass up but I strongly encourage them to read the two previous ones, so that they can have a more positive experience than, I did.

Grade: C

Overview [B&N]

Epidemic investigator Dr. Zol Szabo and his team are called to a high school in the heart of Ontario’s tobacco country, where unexplained deaths from liver failure are creating panic. The team begins to suspect a link with contaminated, cut-price cigarettes manufactured on nearby Grand Basin Indian Reserve led by the Badger, the multimillionaire kingpin of the illicit Native tobacco trade. First-responders from the local fire department become the epidemic’s next victims, and when Zol confronts the Badger, he is rebuffed by the leader’s lust for blood, money, and ancient artifacts. High-level government authorities, cowed by the weight of Native influence, order Zol to shut down his investigation. As the Badger’s contaminated tobacco spreads across the country, he stalks Zol’s family and executes witness after witness. Can Zol dig deep enough to find a creative solution before it’s too late?

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Fall of Five (Lorien Legacies, Book 4) by Pittacus Lore

After reading, "The Fall of Five"  I am sorry, I started reading this series. The first novel had so much promise but each book after has just progressively gotten worse. Nothing terribly new or exciting happens, much less anything entertaining.

All the characters more or less become narcissistic jerks. The story line is weak and there is a high degree of predictability. Only two note worthy events happen and it is the development of a legacy and another event that I don't  want to give away, as it would be a major spoiler.  You could basically take about 25 pages from this book and make a decent short novella from it. This book seems to be more of a "filler" or money maker.

A major disappointment.

Grade: F

Overview [B&N]

John Smith—Number Four—thought that things would change once the Garde found one another. They would stop running. They would fight the Mogadorians. And they would win.
But he was wrong. After facing off with the Mogadorian ruler and almost being annihilated, the Garde know they are drastically unprepared and hopelessly outgunned. Now they're hiding out in Nine's Chicago penthouse, trying to figure out their next move.
The six of them are powerful, but they're not strong enough yet to take on an entire army—even with the return of an old ally. To defeat their enemy, the Garde must master their Legacies and learn to work together as a team. More important, they'll have to discover the truth about the Elders and their plan for the Loric survivors.
And when the Garde receive a sign from Number Five—a crop circle in the shape of a Loric symbol—they know they are so close to being reunited. But could it be a trap? Time is running out, and the only thing they know for certain is that they have to get to Five before it's too late.
The Garde may have lost battles, but they will not lose this war.
Lorien will rise again.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Just Like Other Daughters by Colleen Faulkner

Alicia is a single mother and professor. Her 25 year old daughter, Chloe has downs syndrome. Chloe is sweet, loving, innocent and child like in every way imaginable.

Alicia has loved her daughter from the moment she was placed in her arms. She has raised, Chloe as, though she was "normal" and this along with her ever lasting love, has created a strong unique bond between them. This bond is about to be tested when, Chloe mets Thomas. Thomas is mentally disabled and attends the same classes as, Chloe.

Chloe and Thomas are enamored with one another and quickly "fall" in love. Alicia like any other mother is worried about her daughter and his relationship, especially when, Chloe announces that she wants to marry Thomas. Alicia doesn't even
want to consider it. Neither, Chloe or Thomas are independent enough to function on their own much less as a couple.

As, Alicia and Chloe's story unfolds you'll find yourself emotionally wrapped up in their lives. Faulkner writes from the heart and she has you questioning what constitutes a good life and how sometimes the choices we make can cause our world to tumble down like a stack of dominoes.

Faulkner captures the life of an individual with Downs beautifully. This is one story you'll finish reading in one sitting. I stayed up way past my bedtime because I simply couldn't put it down. I had to know what was going to happen and you will too.

Grade: A+

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism by Naoki Higashida, KA Yoshida and David Mitchel

The Reason I Jump gives some perspective and understanding of autism. With the help of others,  a teen boy is able to tell his story and give readers a glimpse into his mind, his thoughts and feelings.

This book provides a plethora of information on thoughts, behaviors and actions of those who are autistic. It gives one a larger degree of understanding and knowledge, maybe even patience.

This book is written from the heart and with passion, nothing is held back. The young author doesn't claim that his feelings are universal in fact he gives some theories on why certain things such as touch or bright lights can cause distress in those with autism.

This is a short little non-fiction book, that will draw your full attention and leave you wanting to know more.  This is a one of a kind book.

Grade: A

Saturday, November 16, 2013

UnSouled (Unwind Dystology) by Neal Shusterman

UnSouled is ... not the last book in the series and that is a huge relief because there are so many things left unanswered.

This book isn't quite as fast paced as the other two. It is more about character and story development. Characters grow by leap and bounds and old characters make cameo's. There are some new and major revelations, that will change everything you thought you knew about this series.

Unsouled has a large focus, on the promotion, acceptance and "selling" of unwinding.  It deals with the consequences and long term effects of unwinding on humans and society alike.

Unsouled is most definitely a set up for the next novel, that should be explosive and all revealing.

Grade: B

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty

"The Husband's Secret" is a thought provoking read. The secret isn't what one would expect or even suspect.  Moriarty knows how to write a story without giving anything away!

The characters are well developed, the story shifts and weaves as it transforms to interlock their lives. The story gives you pause in your own life to assess and consider the complexities of life and how one action can change a variety of individuals lives. 

Once you start reading, you won't be able to put this down.

Grade: A

Overview [B&N]
My darling Cecilia, if you're reading this, then I've died...." Her husband had not intended that she read the letter until after his demise, but Cecilia's curiosity betrayed him. The unsettling words that she read forever changed the life of this once contented wife and mother; yet this well-intended posthumous missive also becomes the spur that enables Cecilia to connect with two other women recently pushed towards crossroads

Monday, November 4, 2013

Allegiant (Divergent) by Veronica Roth

"Allegiant" is the final novel in the, Divergent trilogy.

The ending is predictable and if you don't see it coming, then you don't really understand Roth's world or character development. I've read a variety of reviews, in which one after another hated the ending but for me, it tied in the entire trilogy and stayed true to the characters, storyline and dystopian world.

"Allegiant" reveals the the sinister truth behind, what being divergent means. As, the lies unravel, society falls further apart and the quest to find out more puts everyone on a dangerous path.

Expect a lot of dialogue (much of it unnecessary), a variety of plot changes, teen angst and new characters with little to no character development.  Tris and Tobia's  point of view chapters are at times difficult to differentiate but the "big" reveal, the truth, the experiments, make this book  go from an F read to a C.

It is worth the read, to find out exactly how those who are divergent came to be.

Grade: C+

The Embalmer by Caillé Anne-Reneé and Mullins Rhonda

The Embalmer is a short book around 80 pages or so. It's not as macabre as I was hoping but it is rather interesting. The book centers a...