Thursday, February 28, 2013

Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet

My goal is to read 100 books by the end of 2013.  I just finished book 20.


Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet by Darynda Jones
Summary:  Her fourth book featuring Charley Davidson, the Grim Reaper.  This book is a continuation of the series as she discovers more about her powers and explores her love/hate relationship with Reyes, the son of Satan.

I really enjoy this series, but this book was a bit of a letdown.  It was good, but after eagerly anticipating this book based on the first three in the series, "good" is a little disappointing.  Although the last few chapters read very quickly after a twist that completely surprised me, it was a slow start and felt like the main purpose of this book was to give backstories and set up plots for the fifth book (and beyond, I'm sure).

I would recommend this series if you enjoy the paranormal genre.  Although I always recommend starting a series with the first book and reading them in order (I can't stress this enough - series are meant to be read in order!),  it is necessary in this case; her books build off of each other and jump right in where the previous book left off.

Quote of the Blog:
"I had a soft spot for crazy people" ~ Darynda Jones (Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet)

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Hazelet's Journal

My goal is to read 100 books by the end of 2013.  I just finished book 19.

I would like to thank NetGalley and Old Stone Press for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Hazelet's Journal by George Cheever Hazelet
Summary:  This book is the unedited journal of George Cheever Hazelet, covering the years of 1898-1902 and his experiences in Alaska during the Gold Rush as he hopes to strike it big so he can return to and provide for his family.

I am a history nut and am especially drawn to photos and writings from the actual people as they lived the event.  This journal was very detailed and must have been an absolute treasure to find, both for the family of George Cheever Hazelet and for historians documenting the Alaska Gold Rush.  That being said, it was a little difficult for me to get into on a personal level because I don't have a lot of knowledge about this time period and wasn't terribly interested in the mining process.  Also, while I appreciate that the journal wasn't altered in any way, it might have helped to have an editor's note at times (such as explaining the long lapse between one entry and then returning with an entirely new company in the next entry).  I loved all of the photos and was happy they were included in the digital copy I received.

While I would only recommend this book to people with a specific interest in the Alaska Gold Rush, that is not meant to take anything away from the value of this book from a historical perspective or the interest it would hold for the people in that specific audience.

Quote of the Blog:
"He took with him little more than what was absolutely necessary, except for the luxury of a notepad and a pencil to record his incredible journey" ~ L. Douglas Keeney (describing Hazelet in a forward for this book)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Women's Literary Society

My goal is to read 100 books by the end of 2013.  I just finished book 18.

I would like to thank NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Women's Literary Sociey by Amy Hill Hearth
Summary: Set in Naples, Florida in 1962, this fiction novel is the story of seven people, all misfits for one reason or another, that form a literary society and become unlikely friends.  Jackie, who comes from Boston and shakes things up (she starts the society); Dora, 30ish and divorced (she is the narrator of the book); Miss Lansbury (the librarian); Mrs. Bailey White (an elderly woman recently released from prison after serving time for the death of her husband); Priscilla (a young colored girl - using the terminology from the book); Plain Jane (a single woman in her 50's that writes poetry); and Robbie-Lee Simpson ("Collier County's only obvious homosexual").

This was a quick, light, "fluff" read.  That is not an insult, I like fluff - while I couldn't live on it, it's refreshing and comforting sometimes to pick up a book and know that no matter what happens during the story, there will be a neatly wrapped resolution at the end.  This book did not disappoint.  I like the author's writing style and appreciate that she knows that fluff doesn't have to equal formulaic.        

Recommended if you're looking for a light read, but not something I would make a huge effort to seek out.

Quote of the Blog:
"We were a little band of oddballs trying to survive in a time and place where sameness was revered." ~ Amy Hill Hearth (from the book Miss Dreamsville...)

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Caleb's Crossing

My goal is to read 100 books by the end of 2013.  I just finished book 17.

Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks
Summary:  Set in the late 1600's, this book is narrated by Bethia and follows her journey from daughter of a preacher/missionary attempting to convert Indians to Christianity through her frustration at the educational limits placed on her based on her gender, and finally into old age as we discover the path she chose to follow.  Although the title implies Caleb (the Christian name given to an Indian Bethia befriends) is the main character and he does factor prominently in the book, the story is really Bethia's.
*Note: although this is a fiction book, Caleb and some other males were real people and documents support the general idea of the situations that occurred in the book.  There is no record of female thoughts during this time period, of course, so Bethia is entirely fictional.
*Note: I used the term "Indian" instead of "Native American" in my summary to keep with the terminology of the book.

This book was absorbing but a bit slow in places.  It would be easiest to break down my review into the following sections:
Pages 1-50: Interesting but a bit slow.  It felt like I was reading for a long time but not many pages had passed.    
Pages 51-250: Engrossed.  Stayed up way too late because I wanted to see what happened next.
Pages 251-280:  Still interesting but getting slow again.  Anxiously awaiting the end.
Pages 281-the end:  Closing the book in tears.  

Recommended, especially for those who like historical fiction.  It may not grip you the entire time, but it's worth it for the emotional roller coaster this book will take you on.

Quote of the Blog:
"She was like a butterfly, full of color and vibrancy when she chose to open her wings, yet hardly visible when she closed them." ~ Geraldine Brooks (Caleb's Crossing)

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Spacewalker

My goal is to read 100 books by the end of 2013.  I just finished book 16.

I would like to thank NetGalley (Bookmasters, Inc.) for the opportunity to download a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Spacewalker by Jerry L. Ross and John Norberg
Summary:  Jerry Ross was the first astronaut to launch into space 7 times, and this biography covers his childhood and career (7 spaceflights, 9 space walks, almost 1400 hours spent in space).  His career spanned the entire U.S. Shuttle program, and this book is full of his personal experiences as well as more general information about NASA (including the tragedies of Challenger and Columbia).

This book was full of detail and I could feel his passion for space and excitement for his job very easily.  While the majority of the book covering his career was fascinating (my nerdy self found many "fun facts" to share with my equally nerdy husband), the beginning of the book covering his childhood dragged a little, and the last few chapters covering the ending of the Shuttle program were a little too political for my tastes.  Overall, I enjoyed it but recognize that this book, while enjoyable to a specific target audience, may not appeal to a wide general audience.

Recommended to someone that is very interested in space and the technical details behind spaceflight.

Quote of the Blog:
"I observed the universe face-to-face.  It was like I could see to the beginning of time." ~ Jerry Ross

Sunday, February 10, 2013

It Looked Different on the Model

My goal is to read 100 books by the end of 2013.  I just finished book 15.

It Looked Different on the Model by Laurie Notaro
Summary:  Humorous stories about her marriage and life.

I feel like I should have liked this book more than I actually did.  I've liked almost every other author I've read in this genre (sassy female writing memoirish tales about behaving badly; I enjoy reading about them because I don't have to deal with them in real life, and it is the exact opposite of how I would react in similar situations), but I didn't find this book enjoyable.  That is difficult to write because these are her real life experiences and I don't want to say, "Your life? Yeah...just didn't work for me".  I also take some responsibility because I may be burned out on this genre based on how many I've already read this year.  Also, I read this book quickly and I might not have grown so tired if I had read one or two chapters at a time, similar to the way I would read a blog.

She doesn't stand out in the crowded field of humorous life essays for me but as always, I will probably try another book of hers (read in shorter chunks over a longer period of time) before writing her off completely.  However, I wouldn't recommend this particular book.

Quote of the Blog:
"It's not you, it's me." ~ too many people to ever cite correctly

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Maine

My goal is to read 100 books by the end of 2013.  I just finished book 14.

Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan
Summary:  This book is told in alternating viewpoints of 4 women in the Kelleher family as they spend the summer at their family cabin in Maine.  

I didn't like this book but I can't figure out why exactly.  The book was a very realistic portrayal of a dysfunctional family, but at some point in these type of stories the characters either have to make an unrealistic change to keep the story going, or they must be so compelling that you become invested in them even though it hurts your heart to do so.  This book did neither.  Even though I wanted to bang my head against the wall at the way the women were treating each other and I wanted to finish it and see what happened, I just wasn't in any hurry to pick it up after I put it down.  I chose cleaning out my linen closet, sorting socks, and testing the pens in my junk drawer over reading, explaining how it took a week for me to complete this book.  

Although I personally didn't enjoy this book, I wouldn't go so far as to say "not recommended".  And I think enough of the author's writing style that I will try another book of hers.

Quote of the Blog:
"The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice". ~ Peggy O'Mara