Tuesday, March 31, 2015

March Wrap-Up and April TBR

Books I Read:

    Looking for Alaska by John Green. 4/5 Stars. 
      Pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed this one. I see the appeal others find in it. 
        

    The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. 3/5 Stars. 
      There is wisdom in this novel that seems more of a parable than anything. The ideas were plainly written and repeated over and over. 
        

    Y: The Last Man #1: Unmanned. 4/5 stars.
    Y: The Last Man #2: Cycles by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra. 4/5 stars. 
       I am enjoying this series! I should buy the rest!


    Emissary by Chris Rogers. 3/5 stars. 
      My review with the Prequel is posted on the blog. Obtained through NetGalley.

    Never Go Home: Prequel Short-Story to Emissary by Chris Rogers. 4/5 stars. 
      Perfect companion to Emissary! 








Currently Reading:

    Freedom by Jonathan Franzen. 

    Forbidden by Kimberley Griffiths Little.  





Reading Challenge Progress:  
    
    I did not complete the two books for Letter A: The Alchemist and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. I am behind by 1 books on my GoodReads challenge. I started a series I said I wanted to start this year from my Top 5: Y: The Last Man. 

     11/50 Goodreads 2015 Challenge.



Blog Posts: 



Books Bought: 
    
    The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkein. 
      -I've been wanting to read this books for ages! This is the next book I obtained form the 5 before you buy project. (Black Greek Coffee, *Not That Kind of Girl, *We Were Liars, The Alchemist, Y; The Last Man: Unmanned

    Aside from the 5 to read before you buy 1 I couldn't pass up purchasing some Persephone books for the first time! It was Dorothy Whipple's birthday and they were having an offer! I finally got to get my hands on them and one other I had been eyeing for awhile! =4 total

   Then I went to a charity shop and picked up for cheap a few books that I had been wanting to read. These I will give back to the charity once I'm done reading them so that they can make more money off of them.










April TBR: 

    -The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. 
    -Fearsome Magics by Jonathan Strahan.
    -A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray. 
    -Gunpowder Alchemy by Jeannie Lin. 

Top Ten Tuesday: Books You Recently Added To Your TBR



These are the latest books I've added to my TBR that look the most fascinating! No particular order than what I added most recently to earlier.

1.Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews
2. Shades of Milk and Honey (Glamourist Histories #1) by Mary Robinette Kowal
3. Elijah's Mermaid by Essie Fox
4. The Truth and Other Lies by Sascha Arango
"Dark, witty, and suspenseful, this literary crime thriller reminiscent of The Dinner and The Silent Wife follows a famous author whose wife—the brains behind his success—meets an untimely death, leaving him to deal with the consequences. “Evil is a matter of opinion…”" - Goodreads
5. Money by Amis Martin
6. Passing by Nella Larsen
7. An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
8. The Mermaid's Sister by Carrie Anne Noble
2014 Winner — Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award — Young Adult Fiction
9. Folklore (Salt Modern Poets) by Tim Atkins
10. The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant (The V Trilogy #1) by Joanna Wiebe









Monday, March 30, 2015

Review: Emissary and Prequel: Never Go Home by Chris Rogers

Title: Emissary by Chris Rogers
Publisher: Chart House Press
Publication Date: December 2, 2014
Series: Yes!
Page Count: 440 pages
Info: Goodreads / Amazon / B&N


"On a desperate mission to save his entire race from extinction, Emissary Ruell travels to Earth equipped with his two most powerful bargaining currencies -- health and longevity -- hoping to convince the most powerful leader in the free world that collaboration can save both of their civilizations. Having no way to communicate directly with humans, Ruell must inhabit President Addison Hale's body to carry out his mission. 

He quickly discovers, however, that humans are more complex and volatile than anticipated. Only after admitting defeat does he encounter Kirk Longshadow, an ordinary cop who might be Ruell's last chance."


Review:  

   If you like crime/conspiracy novels you would like this. However, this one has a science fiction kick to it.  The novel has a great and innovative merging of political thriller and science fiction.  In this novel the United States has elected a woman, President Hale, from a third party, Forward America, for President who has apparently succeed at implanting a greener way of living with the help of her husband, Grant. This USA is the ideal future people today would be happy to see. The first half of the book centers on Ruell, a Szehen Emissary, adapting to President Hale's body and human mannerisms. Ruell is an Emissary from the Szehen people who are trying to find new hosts to live in after their planet was destroyed. The Szehen survivors are mostly energy beings who need living hosts to recharge and prosper. Ruell has been chosen to go to Earth to see if the Human-Szehen bonding will succeed. President Hale is deemed as the best for trial host due to the seat of power the United States has compared to the other countries in the world. As another reviewer mentioned it was pretty slow for the first half of the book and then the pace increased. The first half of the book was Ruell adapting and giving readers a sense of the character for later in the book and future ones. 

   I have not read any books by John Grisham or Dean Koontz, but I feel like fans would like this if they are not close-minded to extraterrestrials added in. For me, in the end Longshadow redeemed himself as a good protagonist. Longshadow is a police officer in Houston, Texas who is coping with the loss of his wife, son, and brother who was a fellow cop. He is the struggling character who has the most potential for developing as a character. There is a climactic scene towards the middle of the novel that finally brings Longshadow and Ruell together. From there they delve deeper into the actions that happened and it takes them to locations they had never been before. It takes a while for Longshadow to become active in the story due to the recent losses earlier in his life putting him into a depressed, alcoholic state. Together, there is a lot of character development with Ruell and Longshadow in the novel that pairs with the pace of the story. 
     I am curious about what other situations the duo of Ruell and Longshadow will put themselves in. I'm interested to see how they will live with their symbiotic relationship. This is going to be a series of novels, the amount I do not know, but I look forward to see what Chris Rogers has next for the characters. 

This was obtained via NetGalley for review. Thank you to Chart House Press!





Never Go Home: An Emissary Short-Story Prequel
Page Count: 25 pages
Info: Goodreads / Amazon 

"Twenty-two emissaries have been posted in this sector, as yet without success. Of the four who have returned, not one survived without impairment. And now there is so little time. Does Earth offer a better chance of refuge? Or will the chaos tear an Emissary apart?​"

A great glimpse of Ruell's training to be an Emissary before he was sent to Earth. This is a great companion to Emissary and everyone should read it if they enjoyed Emissary. I want to read more about Ruell's life and the Szehen life before they had to leave their planet. I can't wait for the next book in the series!


-Katie
Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Top Five Wednesday: Books That Made Me Think

T5W


   This week's T5W is about books that made you think. As a way of explanation of why I chose these books I will tell you what I thought after I read them. I will not include a synopsis for them. 


-The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho - Am I on the right path of my Personal Legend? Am I listening to my heart? There is always the fear of being 50 years old and realizing I never did what I wanted, never tried to accomplish what I feel would make me the happiest.  

-Reason for Hope by Jane Goodall - We need to believe in humanity and treat our environment with more respect. Jane Goodall is such a huge inspiration to me. 

-Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg - I should have gone to a better school for a good career? Can I still have a great career? Also, I think about how I will prepare myself for sexism in and out of my job. 

-The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro - Am I living my life to the fullest without regrets? Am I doing something with my life I won't regret? Something to think about when you move around based on your husband's career...

-Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro - What if you found out your sole existence was to help your clone and you were discarded and bound to die? That would be so tragic and you feel so much more empathy for the characters. Could this happen in the future? Complete humans with consciousness and who can feel pain and loss?






What are some books that made you think and what did you think?

-Katie

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: For Readers Who Like Historical Fiction



  To  go along with a Top Ten I missed a week or two ago I'm going to put the top ten Historical books I would recommend for those who love the genre as much as I do. Until a few years ago, HF was my go-to genre, but now I'm more obsessed with SFF. Here are 10 books that I felt are good at immersing you into the story and incorporating the period in which is was set it beautifully. 


10. A Room with a View E.M. Forster. Set in a time when the only freedom women were allowed to feel was travelling to foreign countries chaperoned by matronly cousins, this book may seem quiet, but speaks loudly of the kind of the human struggles between two young people.  

9. The Good Earth by Pearl. S. Buck. A novel about the repercussions of holding your possessions above your family. 

8. The Children's Book by A.S. Byatt. A detailed novel following the lives of a family in the Victorian era to WW1. 

7. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. From the imagination of a teenager in the 1960s. 

6. Cider House Rules by John Irving. 

5. Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt.  A memoir technically, but you have to read it! The first book that made me cry.  

4. A Rose for a Crown by Anne Easter Smith. Really good at capturing the time period and creating a captivating story.  

3. The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert. Gilbert pays incredible attention to historic detail.

2. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden.

1. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. I think I've praised this book quite enough on my blog. 








If you'd like to participate in Top Ten Tuesday here is a link to the topics for each week: http://www.brokeandbookish.com/p/top-ten-tuesday-other-features.html
Monday, March 9, 2015

Review: Black Greek Coffee by Konstantina Sozou-Kyrkou


Title: Black Greek Coffee by Konstantina Sozou-Kyrkou
Publishing Date: November 28, 2014
Publisher: Troubador Publishing LTD
Page Count: 192 pages
ISBN: 9781784620356
More Info: Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble



"Want to see the darker side of Greek life?

Black Greek Coffee is a collection of twenty-three short stories, most of them set in rural 20th century Greece. Laced with harrowing truths, these stories deal with the darker side of life in Greece – the domestic violence, male domination, superstition and ignorance, the strong influence of religion and suffocating traditions. 

Konstantina Sozou-Kyrkou paints a vivid picture of everyday life in a Greek village. Culture, landscape and traditions are a backdrop to the divisions, gaps and barriers that lie between people and their relationships. There is a prejudice and unjustified animosity that hangs in the air around them, dividing and troubling them… 

This series of short stories touches on themes of self-righteousness, religion, migration, chauvinism, illness, loss, death, war, superstition, honour and gender issues. Stories of the domestic, and occasionally reaching into the supernatural, they surprise, educate and challenge the reader’s intellect. 

Written from the author’s own experiences, whether she has witnessed events or met people who have faced the misunderstandings that take place in the book, Black Greek Coffee is an exciting read for any fans of powerful fiction with a sting in its tail."



Review: 

A fascinating collection of short stories revolving around one small village outside of Athens. The dates are not specifically dated in the stories, but you get a sense of reading stories from different generations where some stories remark on characters from before at an older age. The stories focus on the darker side of life among modern-day Greek people. It portrays an image that is not completely unlike other cultures. The people are religious, superstitious, patriarchal, and have defined gender roles who undervalue women. I enjoyed the first 75% of stories more than the last 25%. The stories do not blatantly express the message or happenings in the end, but leave it for you to figure out and reflect upon it. I think those who love short stories and like contemporary fiction will enjoy this book. Greek words are included in the story and for some it wasn't obvious to me what they meant so I looked them up. This could cause some disconnection with the story and make it less enjoyable, but including the Greek words solidified the topic and sense of Greek culture of the book. Sozou-Kyrkou did great at capturing little nuances, like using Greek sayings, and portraying different points of view for each story that readers will be able to grasp life in the village easily.   

I would give this 3.75/5 stars because I didn't love it (otherwise it would have been a 5/5) and there were some minor instances that I felt should have been read through by an editor for better flow, for instance. I personally love to read about the gritty aspects of people. I'm interested to read more from this author and found I really enjoy short story collections. 


This was obtained via NetGalley for review.







About the Author:

Konstantina Sozou-Kyrkou was born in a small mountainous village in Western Greece. She travelled to Athens to study in 1985 and has been living there since then with her husband and two children. She holds a BA(Hons) in Literature and an MA in Creative Writing from Lancaster University. One of her stories has appeared in the anthology Even Birds are Chained to the Sky and many more have been published online in literary magazines.















       


-Katie
 
Sunday, March 1, 2015

February 2015 Wrap-Up and March TBR

Books I Read:

    Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She's "Learned" by Lena Dunham. 2/5 Stars. 
        Didn't have high expectations for this book, but was an entertaining read.  

    We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. 4.75/5 Stars. 
        I really enjoyed this YA Novel! It was well thought out. I figured out what was happening 34% of the way through and I was still completely into the story!

     The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd. 3.75/5 Stars.
        I enjoyed the dual narration and the struggle for freedom for both characters. I didn't realize until the end that it was based on true characters. You can read through it easily and there are many quotable passages.





Currently Reading:

    Looking for Alaska by John Green. High hopes for this one. Library Kindle.

    Emissary by Chris Rogers. Received for review from NetGalley.

    The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. Part of my A-Z Challenge. 



Reading Challenge Progress:  
    
    I am not very far on any of my reading challenges. I did not complete the two books for Letter A: The Alchemist and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. I went on a bit of a reading slump. I was so hyped to start the year with these challenges and am behind on 3 books on my GoodReads challenge. Maybe I set myself too high and it is dragging me down that I need to complete it. I've felt some longing for a few other books on my shelf that I wanted to read and forced myself to stick to the ones I have. I hope to do better in March. 



March TBR: 

    -Emissary by Chris Rogers
    -The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
    -Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
    -Looking for Alaska by John Green