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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

July Reads:

1.  Cleo:  The Cat Who Mended a Family (5/5)
2.  The Shade of the Moon (YA) 4.5/5  4th in series
3.  Sergeant Rex (3.5/5)
4.  The Ocean at the End of the Lane (3.5/5)
5.  Dear Girls Above Me (4/5)
6.  Lone Wolf (4.5/5)
7.  The Night Circus (4/5) Kindle
8.  Saturday Night Widows (4/5)
9.  The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap (4.5/5)
10.  The World's Strongest Librarian (4/5)
11.  One Breath Away (5/5) Kindle

66 books read in 2013 so far

One Breath Away

Book #66 Read in 2013
One Breath Away by Heather Gudenkauf

Augie and PJ are sent to their grandparents after their mother is horrifically burned in a kitchen fire.  As if that isn't traumatic enough, the day before spring break finds them being trapped in their school by a deranged gunman.  The police are outside of the school trying to negotiate with the gunman in the hopes of getting the students and teachers out safely.  But will that happen in time?

This was a thrilling read.  It showed the bravery of people in horrible situations.  The gunman's identity was not known for most of the book and there were a variety of suspects.  I figured out who it was about 2/3 through the book (and the gunman wasn't revealed for about another 15%) but that did not take away from the reading interest of the book.  Gudenkauf is one of my favorite authors.  I've read all of her books and they are all edge of your seat thrillers.  I recommend it.

The World's Strongest Librarian

Book #65 Read in 2013
The World's Strongest Librarian by Josh Hanagarne

Josh is 6 foot, 7 inches tall, competes in strong man contests and has a severe case of Tourette's Syndrome.  His occupation?  A librarian.  Not exactly what one would think for a career of someone who suffers from Tourette's Syndrome and has loud, verbal tics as part of  this.  Josh loved books from a young age and learning and reading was important to him at his core, so this translated into a career as a librarian.  It was also a way for him to challenge himself to see if he could control some of his tics.  Told in a honest manner, Josh details his growing up with this syndrome, his wish for his young son and his connection to his wife and parents.  I enjoyed it.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap

Book #64 Read in 2013
The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap by Wendy Welch

This is a great non-fiction  read.  It tells the story of Jack and Wendy, a married, artsy couple,  who decide to open up a used bookstore in Big Stone Gap, an Appalachian coal town.  The book honestly details the struggles of opening the bookstore, keeping it afloat, building a customer base and being allowed into the inner circles of the town.  The writing style is great in that the book reads like fiction and the townspeople/characters are vividly described in wonderful detail.  They are quite the crew.  I very much enjoyed this book.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Saturday Night Widows

Book #63 Read in 2013
Saturday Night Widows by Becky Aikman

This is a memoir of six widows and how they move through their grief to get on with their lives.  They form their own support group and bring their very different stories of loss to the circle of support.  Each month they get together to do an event--a trip, a day at the spa, a visit to the museum etc.  These trips show their progression and healing and offer them a safe spot to voice their worries and asks their questions about life after loss.

Saturday Night Widows reads like fiction.  The writing style flows well and is extremely readable.  The widows are people who are down to earth and ones that readers will care about and connect with.  I enjoyed this book a lot.

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Night Circus

Book #62 Read in 2013
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Marco and Celia are bound to each other by a competition they have been entered into by their father/guardian.  They do not truly understand the lengths that this competition will bring them to and the venue for the competition is the night circus.  The circus performers are all tied into the competition so the weight of many lives are weighing on Celia and Marco.  The two fall in love which complicates the competition, to say the least.  This book has great characters, a paranormal aspect that is woven expertly throughout the story and twists and turns to keep readers engaged.  I enjoyed it.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Lone Wolf

Book #61 Read in 2013
Lone Wolf by Jodi Picoult

As Picoult typically does with her books, this one has an edgy topic at its core--when does family have the right to "pull the plug" on a loved one?  Luke has researched and lived with wolves.  This was done at the expense of his family.  He and his wife Georgie divorced, his son Edward has not spoken to him for years but his youngest child, daughter Cara, still lives with him and idolizes him.  Then there is a horrific accident that involves Luke and Cara.  Both are hurt but Luke is being kept alive by machines.  Cara wants to give Luke time to heal, fully needing to believe that her father will recover.  Edward wants to terminate life support and donate Luke's organs.  A court battle ensues to try to decide what Luke would want if he could tell them.

This book is told in chapter alternating between different points of views of different characters.  Picoult is masterful at this technique--allowing readers access to the minds of many characters, keeping single loyalty to one character at bay.  All of the character are complex yet well-developed--none perfect but all with interesting flaws.  I enjoyed this book.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Dear Girls Above Me

Book #60 Read in 2013
Dear Girls Above Me by Charlie McDowell

This book details the conversations had by his upstairs neighbors by the author.  The girls, Claire and Cathy, cover a variety of "important" topics like boob jobs, hot men, sex and other matters of interest.  Charlie receives an earful on a regular basis.  Some of the talk is educational for him, some too much information but all of it hilarious.  It will also be hilarious for his readers.  Charlie's writing makes me want to give him the title of the "male Jen Lancaster" which is high praise in my book of realistic, gritty and always hilarious writing.  I laughed out loud several times throughout this book.    I recommend this book.  I received a copy of this book from the Amazon Vine program.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Book #59 Read in 2013
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

A middle aged man returns to his childhood home for a funeral.  He begins a journey down memory lane, where he remembers a scary monster who tried to possess him, a family of witch-like woman who helped save him and the tribulations of a growing boy.  This book was in turn creepy and a coming of age story.  It had horror, a paranormal aspect, mystery and great writing.  The main character was interesting.  The Hempstock women were an interesting crew of powerful females.  This was a decent read.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Sergeant Rex

Book #58 Read in 2013
Sergeant Rex by Mike Dowling

Rex is one of the first Marine Corps K9 dogs to be used in the war in Iraq.  Dowling is his handler.  This book details the strong connection between handler and dog, the horrors of war and the relationship formed by the men and women fighting it together.  I learned some things about military dogs that I did not know.  This book was a bit slow at times but overall I liked it.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

The Shade of the Moon (YA)

Book #57 Read in 2013
The Shade of the Moon (YA) by Susan Beth Pfeffer

This is the fourth book in the series that began with the book Life as We Knew It.  I loved the first two books in this series and the third one was good.  I did not know until recently that a fourth book was coming out, so when I had a chance to grab it to review, I had to get a copy.

In this book, two years have passed since book 3.  Jon is living with his stepmother Lisa and his half brother Gabe in a better town than White Birch--where his mother, sister Miranda and brother in law Alex are still living in poverty.  Jon has food to eat, clean air to breathe and attends a decent school.  He has begun to take this all for granted until he meets Sarah, the new girl, who questions why everyone should not have these things.  Jon and Sarah fall for each other but he has to be careful that he doesn't break the rules by taking her side.  During the book, Jon realizes what the true priorities are but that does not happen without great cost.

I enjoyed this installment in the series.  This book bounced  the series back in my estimation.  It had action, romance, and a plot that kept me riveted from start to finish.  The ending leaves enough of an opening that a book five could happen....and I hope it does.

I received this book from the Amazon Vine program in exchange for a review.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Cleo: The Cat who Mended a Family

Book #56 Read in 2013
Cleo: The Cat who Mended a Family by Helen Brown

This book begins with a tragic death.  Helen's family is trying to deal with their grief when a little kitten comes there way and their lives are forever changed by Cleo.  Cleo is an intelligent cat who brings a smile back to their faces when they never thought they would smile again.  Cleo immediately becomes part of their family and is an important member of such.  This is a must read for cat lovers...but it is not just a cat book.  This book is also a well written memoir of a family struck by tragedy and how they overcame that.   I loved it.

Monday, July 1, 2013

June Reads

June Reads:

1.  The Husband's Secret (4.5/5)
2.  The Reading Promise (5/5)  Kindle
3.  Amy Falls Down (3.5/5)
4.  Together Tea (4/5)  Library book
5.  The Life List (5/5)
6. I'd Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I've Ever Had (5/5) Kindle
7.  City of Women (4/5)  Kindle
8.  Hearse and Buggy (4/5) 1st in series

Year to date:  55 books read