May 2015 archive

Review: Bone Gap

Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

From Goodreads: Everyone knows Bone Gap is full of gaps—gaps to trip you up, gaps to slide through so you can disappear forever. So when young, beautiful Roza went missing, the people of Bone Gap weren’t surprised. After all, it wasn’t the first time that someone had slipped away and left Finn and Sean O’Sullivan on their own. Just a few years before, their mother had high-tailed it to Oregon for a brand new guy, a brand new life. That’s just how things go, the people said. Who are you going to blame?

Finn knows that’s not what happened with Roza. He knows she was kidnapped, ripped from the cornfields by a dangerous man whose face he cannot remember. But the searches turned up nothing, and no one believes him anymore. Not even Sean, who has more reason to find Roza than anyone, and every reason to blame Finn for letting her go.

As we follow the stories of Finn, Roza, and the people of Bone Gap—their melancholy pasts, their terrifying presents, their uncertain futures—acclaimed author Laura Ruby weaves a heartbreaking tale of love and loss, magic and mystery, regret and forgiveness—a story about how the face the world sees is never the sum of who we are.

Jennie’s Thoughts: This was an unexpected read for me. See, up through the first fifty or so pages, I wasn’t sure I would even finish it. But then the magic of Bone Gap pulled me in and I read the rest in a mad dash. I had to know what would happen. I had to know what the heck was going on!

I don’t even know how to write a proper review of this, honestly. So, I’m going short and sweet: this might be an unexpected favorite of 2015.

It’s:
Creepy
Swoony
Crazy Intense
Feminism Hell Yeah
Bees
Sass
A kick ass horse
Love

Audio Review: As You Wish – Inconceivable Tales From the Making of The Princess Bride

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From Goodreads:  From actor Cary Elwes, who played the iconic role of Westley in The Princess Bride, comes a first-person account and behind-the-scenes look at the making of the cult classic film filled with never-before-told stories, exclusive photographs, and interviews with costars Robin Wright, Wallace Shawn, Billy Crystal, Christopher Guest, and Mandy Patinkin, as well as author and screenwriter William Goldman, producer Norman Lear, and director Rob Reiner.

Erin’s Thoughts: Smooshy, lovely, happy sighs.  This was absolutely delightful!  I generally don’t listen to a lot of audio, but when I saw that this book was not only read by Cary Elwes, but also included the voices of many of the cast and crew from The Princess Brides, I was sold.  I was expecting it to be fun, but I was not expecting to love As You Wish as much as I did.  I thought I might hear a couple of cute stories and then just zone out while driving.  I could not have been more wrong.  Elwes is a truly wonderful storyteller, and I was completely enchanted the entire time I was listening.  I laughed, I cried, I laughed so hard I cried.  It was so wonderful to hear that the cast and crew of one of my most beloved films felt the same way about making the film.  Swordfighting! Humor! Vengeance! Love! And the absolute sweetest and most moving stories about Andre the Giant.

If you love The Princess Bride, love movies, or just love hearing how a group of people came together to create something magical, check out this book.  I cannot say enough good things about listening to the audio version.  I was almost late to work on several occasions because I never wanted to get out of the car!  So, go have a listen and when you are finished, watch the film again and be giddy because you know why Westley sits down like that!

 

Review: Saint Anything

Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

From Goodreads: Peyton, Sydney’s charismatic older brother, has always been the star of the family, receiving the lion’s share of their parents’ attention and—lately—concern. When Peyton’s increasingly reckless behavior culminates in an accident, a drunk driving conviction, and a jail sentence, Sydney is cast adrift, searching for her place in the family and the world. When everyone else is so worried about Peyton, is she the only one concerned about the victim of the accident?

Enter the Chathams, a warm, chaotic family who run a pizza parlor, play bluegrass on weekends, and pitch in to care for their mother, who has multiple sclerosis. Here Sydney experiences unquestioning acceptance. And here she meets Mac, gentle, watchful, and protective, who makes Sydney feel seen, really seen, for the first time.

The uber-popular Sarah Dessen explores her signature themes of family, self-discovery, and change in her twelfth novel, sure to delight her legions of fans.

Jennie’s Thoughts: I’m one of the many who counted down to this book’s release date. I took my youngest for a trip to the “Train Table” at B&N as my excuse to use a birthday gift card on that wonderful Tuesday. And then I dove into Sarah Dessen’s words. It was like the hug of a hammock on a warm spring day.

I think I hit the 25 page mark and just new this was going to be a new favorite SD book, and that feeling continued through the entire thing. Sydney is a character to root for, to hug, to cry over, and more. Her emotional relationship with her parents felt honest as it felt tough. And, the Chathams were real, flawed and beautiful and I wanted to take a trip to the woods with them.

The scene when the cover image suddenly make sense: Dreamy and Perfection. I will read anything Sarah Dessen writes. I closed the cover on this one and immediately considered rereading it. It was that good.

Review: The Girl With All the Gifts

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From Goodreads: Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite, but they don’t laugh.

Erin’s Thoughts: The description from Goodreads was all I had to go on when I picked up this book, but it was enough to intrigue me.  Well, that and a stamp of approval from Joss Whedon.

This is the story of a girl who lives in a cell.  Every morning she and the other children, also in cells, are strapped to wheelchairs while guns are pointed at their heads and then wheeled into a classroom.  There, the students are taught lessons by a variety of teachers.  Lessons that, as it turns out, they really never need to learn.

The main players in this tale are Melanie, her teacher, a military sergeant, and a medical researcher.  When their research facility is destroyed, these four find themselves hurled out into a dangerous world with little to protect themselves from the world around them or from each other.

A mysterious pathogen that is terrorizing humankind, real, gripping characters, a surprisingly touching story,  and an ending I never saw coming.  This book wasn’t about what I expected.  If a horror story can have heart, this is it.

Review: Lyndon B. Johnson

Lyndon B. Johnson (The American Presidents #36) by Charles Peters

From Goodreads: Few figures in American history are as compelling and complex as Lyndon Baines Johnson, who established himself as the master of the U.S. Senate in the 1950s and succeeded John F. Kennedy in the White House after Kennedy’s assassination on November 22, 1963.

Charles Peters, a keen observer of Washington politics for more than five decades, tells the story of Johnson’s presidency as the tale of an immensely talented politician driven by ambition and desire. As part of the Kennedy-Johnson administration from 1961 to 1968, Peters knew key players, including Johnson’s aides, giving him inside knowledge of the legislative wizardry that led to historic triumphs like the Voting Rights Act and the personal insecurities that led to the tragedy of Vietnam.

Peters’s experiences have given him unique insight into the poisonous rivalry between Johnson and Robert F. Kennedy, showing how their misunderstanding of each other exacerbated Johnson’s self-doubt and led him into the morass of Vietnam, which crippled his presidency and finally drove this larger-than-life man from the office that was his lifelong ambition.

Jennie’s Thoughts: So, I had no idea that Johnson was such a fighter for Civil Rights. I feel slightly ashamed that I was unaware of this fact, but now that I’ve read this biography I feel that I’ve rectified my lack of knowledge. I knew Johnson and Vietnam, but reading about his presidency related to this provided a deeper look into such a tragic event/experience/war.

As with each President that has picked up the reins after mid-presidency death, I find the transition so interesting and fascinating. Johnson wasn’t just coming into the Oval Office from death, but from the assassination of one of the more beloved presidents…that’s a heavy weight to carry. I was pleasantly surprised by how much this biography went into that transition.

This book crammed in a lot of information in a short amount of pages, but I never felt rushed, or bored for that matter. Though, knowing what I know now about LBJ, I think I’d pick a longer biography to get an even deeper insight into this complex and woman-obsessed man.