Friday, April 17, 2015

the cousins o'dwyer trilogy

dark witch
shadow spell
blood magick
nora roberts
published 2013-2014

With indifferent parents, Iona Sheehan grew up craving devotion and acceptance.  From her maternal grandmother, she learned where to find both: a land of lush forests, dazzling lakes, and centuries-old legends. 


With the legends and lore of Ireland running through his blood, falconer Connor O'Dwyer is proud to call County Mayo home.  It's where his sister, Branna, lives and works, where his cousin, Iona, has come, and where his childhood friends form a circle that can't be broken.

County Mayo is rich in the traditions of Ireland, legends that Branna fully embraces in her life and in her work as the proprietor of The Dark Witch shop, which carries soaps, lotions, and candles for tourists, made with Branna's special touch.  Her strength and selflessness hold together a close circle of friends and family - along with their horses and hawks and her beloved hound.  But there's a single missing link in the chain of her life: love.

This is one of those trilogies that just felt kind of like the same book over and over again.  Not that they were boring reads.  They're quick and fun and full of Irish.  It's just that everything was pretty predictable.  I mean, they're fighting an evil witch and there's three books so you know the first two times they try they're going to fail so.....not much to guess at.  It did get a little too repetitious by the third book and I just wanted them to get on with it.  To be honest, the story of Sorcha and her children was more interesting than the present day witches.

Not my favorite trilogy from Nora Roberts, but let's not kid, of course I would have read them no matter what!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

the vanishing season

the vanishing season
jodi lynn anderson
published 2014

Girls started vanishing in the fall, and now winter's come to lay a white sheet over the horror.  Door County, it seems, is swallowing the young, right into its very dirt.  From beneath the house on Water Street, I've watched the danger swell.  The residents know me as the noises in the house at night, the creaking on the stairs.  I'm the reflection behind them in the glass, the feeling of fear in the cellar.  I'm tied - it seems - to this house, this street, this town.  I'm tied to Maggie and Pauline, though I don't know why.  I think it's because death is coming for one of them, or both.  All I know is that the present and the past are piling up, and I am here to dig.  I am looking of the things that are buried.

The only other book I read by Jodi Lynn Anderson is Tiger Lily, a dark retelling of Peter Pan from the perspective of Tiger Lily.  It was beautiful and so, so dark.  I expected a murder mystery with The Vanishing Season, something also a little dark and brooding with a bit of magic.

I did not get what I expected.

I spent most of the time wondering how everything connected, or what the outcome would be.  In the end I was so flabbergasted.  After two books I've come to realize that Jodi Lynn Anderson does not write happily ever afters.  Her books are sad and unfair and beautiful.  There is no way to talk more about this book without ruining it for you so I will stop now.  Read it and it will be hard to forget.

ready player one

ready player one
ernest cline
published 2011

In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place.  The only time teenager Wade Watts really feels alive is when he's jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS.  Wade's devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world's digital confines - puzzles that are based on their creator's obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them.  But when Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize.  The race is on, and if Wade's going to survive, he'll have to win - and confront the real world he's always been so desperate to escape.

Ready Player One is like a geek version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory drenched in 80's nostalgia.  I read a review that said something about the book being 'sprinkled' with 80's references, but I really feel that no, it was drenched.  You cannot find a page in the book that does not bash you over the head with it.

Now, I love my 80's stuff and geek culture is where my heart is.  This book would have been lovely, but it was sooooooooo 'let me explain every reference to you'.  There was a part where two characters are looking at a scene and one says, 'It looks like Rivendell.' to which the other character responds, 'It looks like Rivendell, from Lord of the Rings.'  Oh, I'm sorry, was the first character talking about a Rivendell from another book?

It was stuff like that that began to get on my nerves.  I listened to the book because it was read by Wil Wheaton, and hello! Wil Wheaton.  But even he couldn't make me not want to scream out loud when 2 and a half hours into the book I've listened to listings of nearly every movie, tv show, band and book that existed in the 1980's.  I almost gave up on the book, but friends assured me that there was a story yet to come.

Once things did get going it was somewhat better.  I don't think I really got into the book until near the end at the final hunt and the epic battle that hopefully will translate to screen very well.  I think that this is one of those books that could possibly make a better movie than a book because it will be forced to edit down quite a bit and this book needed editing.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

crazy rich asians

crazy rich asians
kevin kwan
published 2013

When Rachel Chu agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, she envisions a humble family home, long drives to explore the island, and quality time with the man she might one day marry.  What she doesn't know is that Nick's family home happens to look like a palace, that she'll ride in more private planes than cars, and that with one of Asia's most eligible bachelors on her arm, Rachel might as well have a target on her back.  Initiated into a world of dynastic splendor beyond imagination, Rachel meets Astrid, the It Girl of Singapore society; Eddie, whose family practically lives in the pages of the Hong Kong socialite magazines; and Eleanor, Nick's formidable mother, a woman who has very strong feelings about who her son should - and should not - marry.

I don't know what I expected when I finally got my hands on Crazy Rich Asians, but I wasn't quite prepared for what I got!  Crazy Rich Asians was like a cross between Gossip Girl, Sex and the City and Pretty Little Liars.  I have no dislike for fashion or reading about the ridiculous opulence, but it did get kind of monotonous having to hear every designer of every piece of clothing, jewelry, handbag, shoe, glasses, china, table, bedding, car, etc. etc. etc.  If something could be expensive we were battered on the head with its pedigree.

On the other hand, I loved Astrid, liked Rachel a lot and really had fun with the story.  Sure, it's not anything new (except the insertion of Asians) - girl meets boy who she thinks is just a normal guy, turns out he's filthy rich and doesn't tell her until she's confronted with his rich, snobby family - but the characters were colorful and fun.

I listened to the audiobook as well as read though it on my kindle.  I liked being able to hear the Mandarin and Cantonese pronunciations, but the reader's British accents and male voices (she's a female) were slightly distracting.

Kevin Kwan's second book China Rich Girlfriend comes out in June, a sequel to Crazy Rich Asians and I'm sure I'll read it.  I have to find out what happened to Astrid!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

yes please

yes please
amy poehler
dey street books
published 2014

In her first book, one of our most beloved funny folk delivers a smart, pointed, and ultimately inspirational read.  Full of the comedic skill that makes us all love Amy, Yes Please is a rich and varied collection of stories, lists, poetry, photographs, mantras and advice.

I'm 80% sure I have never seen any movie that Amy Poehler was in.  I have never seen an episode of Parks and Rec.  But she was in my two all time favorite SNL skits, Debbie Downer's first appearance where everyone broke character, and in the same episode when Lindsay Lohan and Kaitlin have a sleepover.  So good.  Oh wait, I just remembered I saw They Came Together.  But I hated it.

Anyway, I decided to listen to Poehler's memoir because I had listened to Tina Fey and Mindy Kaling's books and they both talk about how great she is and since she also reads her book I thought, why not?

There were some funny parts, I loved her 'Birthing Plan'.  Loved it!  I loved her chapter My Boys.  And Patrick Stewart reading her haiku - so good.

I'm going to watch me some Parks and Rec now.

big little lies

big little lies
liane moriarty
published 2014

Sometimes it's the little lies that turn out to be the most lethal....A murder, a tragic accident, or just parents behaving badly?  What's indisputable is that someone is dead.  But who did what?  Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive.

This book was fantastic!  I've never read any of Liane Moriarty's books despite owning two of them so this was my first.  Someone in my book club had raved about it as she had just finished it and I thought I'd pick it up.  I checked on Amazon and it was on sale for the Kindle for $2.99!  I took that as a sign and snapped it up.

From the start you know someone dies at the school trivia night, but you don't know who, how or why and it's maddening!  But in the most delicious way.

The story focuses on three women and as I got to know them I desperately didn't want them to be the victim who meets her demise.  There was so much that reminded me of the gossiping and backstabbing that goes on with school moms.  Of course, no one has died at our school auction, but I could see glimpses of real life in so much of Big Little Lies.

Of course, now that I've read this book I've got to finally read her others.  One is already on my tbr list for that challenge!


jack reacher #19
lee child
delacorte press
published 2014

Someone has taken a shot at the president of France in the City of Light.  The bullet was American.  The distance between the gunman and the target was exceptional.  How many snipers can shoot from three-quarters of a mile with total confidence?  Very few, but John Kott - an American marksman gone bad - is one of them.  And after fifteen years in prison, he's out, unaccounted for, and likely drawing a bead on a G8 summit packed with enough world leaders to tempt any assassin.

Things I loved:
Jack Reacher
Casey Nice
Jack kicking ass as usual

What I didn't love:
I don't even know what happened

Well, that's not true, but it kind of is.  Reacher is looking for Kott.  We know he's looking for Kott and we know that someone is helping him, hired him, and they have to go through them to get to him.  So there are approximately 270 pages dealing with the gangs, one gang in particular mostly and 3 pages dealing with Kott.  I felt cheated.

There just wasn't much to this one.  I didn't feel that same ole' Reacher magic and it made me sad. :(

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