Source: from publisher for review

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Review: Motions and Moments

March 6, 2016 Memoir, non-fiction 11

Review: Motions and MomentsTitle: Motions and Moments: More Essays on Tokyo
Author: Michael Pronko
Source: from publisher for review
Links: Amazon|Indiebound |Goodreads
Rating: five-stars

Summary: I loved the way each of these short stories bring curiosity, wonder, joy to an everyday moment.

Although I suspect that Michael Pronko’s observations of Tokyo are possible in part because he’s an expat living there, I would be just as happy to read essays he wrote about any country. I enjoy learning about Tokyo, the little details of another culture that make it unique and that are only visible to someone who has lived there long enough, but what I really love is the way the author captures moments in daily life.
Read more »

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#FuturisticFriday Review and Giveaway: A Tyranny of Petticoats

March 2, 2016 Fantasy, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Magical Realism 13

#FuturisticFriday Review and Giveaway: A Tyranny of PetticoatsTitle: A Tyranny of Petticoats: 15 Stories of Belles, Bank Robbers & Other Badass Girls
Author: Jessica Spotswood
Source: from publisher for review
Links: Amazon|Indiebound |Goodreads
Rating: five-stars

Summary: Hit or miss, like all multi-author short story collections, with the misses primarily being too simplistic and the hits mostly being moving stories about important historical events and/or those with great fantasy world-building.

Short story collections, especially by multiple authors, are always hit or miss for me, but the focus of this book on young women in history was too interesting for me to pass up. Surprisingly, an awful lot of them also turned out to have elements of magical realism or were full-on urban fantasy.  I thought the editor did a great job organizing the stories, which progressed chronologically and generally moved from those with fantasy elements to those without fantasy elements and with more solid grounding in specific historical events. In addition to the diverse genres, I enjoyed that every story was set in a different location and at a different time period and that many stories features main characters who were non-white, LGBT, and/or differently abled. Read more »

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Review: Why We Came to the City

February 28, 2016 Fiction 18

Review: Why We Came to the CityTitle: Why We Came to the City
Author: Kristopher Jansma
Source: from publisher for review
Links: Amazon|Indiebound |Goodreads
Rating: five-stars

Summary: This book was so perfect – the writing, the author’s ability to capture the feel of being a young professional, but mostly the writing.

I’m tempted to skip describing the plot, because it’s really beside the point. I’d read a grocery list if Kristopher Jansma wrote it, that’s how much I loved his writing. Here we go though… This was a story that’s what I wish the New Adult genre had become. Four college friends and an acquaintance who has re-entered their lives have all moved to New York City and share a New Year’s Eve celebration together. “Amid cheerful revelry and free-flowing champagne, the friends toast themselves and the new year ahead—a year that holds many surprises in store. They must navigate ever-shifting relationships with the city and with one another, determined to push onward in pursuit of their precarious dreams. And when a devastating blow brings their momentum to a halt, the group is forced to reexamine their aspirations and chart new paths through unexpected losses.” (Source) Read more »

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A Reluctant Romantic Review: Anything For You

February 27, 2016 Romance 8

A Reluctant Romantic Review: Anything For YouTitle: Anything for You (Blue Heron, #5)
Author: Kristan Higgins
Source: from publisher for review
Links: Amazon|Indiebound |Goodreads
Rating: three-stars

Summary: This was a sweet story, but a little bland and unadventurous for my tastes.

After a secret, on-again-off-again relationship of 10 years, Connor O’Rourke finally gets up the courage to ask Jessica Dunn to marry him. When she turns him down, he’s stunned and refuses to keep seeing her. Although Jessica is heartbroken, she believes her past reputation and current responsibility for her younger brother make a normal relationship impossible. Fortunately, she and Connor may both have a difficult time moving on. Read more »

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#Futuristic Friday Review and Giveaway: Pandemic

February 26, 2016 non-fiction 14

#Futuristic Friday Review and Giveaway: PandemicTitle: Pandemic: Tracking Contagions, from Cholera to Ebola and Beyond
Author: Sonia Shah
Source: from publisher for review
Links: Amazon|Indiebound |Goodreads
Rating: five-stars

Summary: I couldn’t ask for more than from my nonfiction than this engagingly told story with its mix of history, science, and important predictions about the future of medicine.

Although every pandemic seems uniquely and surprisingly deadly, there are some common principles that can be  learned from our past. Using cholera as a case study, Sonia Shah describes some of the factors that can lead to pandemics. She also explores how those factors have changed or stayed the same over time and describes some of the challenges that might face us when the next pandemic strikes. Read more »

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Review and Giveaway: No Ordinary Life

February 15, 2016 Uncategorized 4

Review and Giveaway: No Ordinary LifeTitle: No Ordinary Life
Author: Suzanne Redfearn
Source: from publisher for review
Links: Amazon|Indiebound |Goodreads
Rating: three-stars

Summary: The main character was almost frustrating enough to ruin this for me, but the writing and plot were good enough to make this an enjoyable read.

After Faye Martin’s husband abandoned her and her three children, it seems like a miracle when her daughter is discovered on YouTube and rapidly becomes the star of a successful TV show. However, Faye quickly discovers that fame comes at a cost. From pressure to allow her daughter to work more than legally allowed to creepy stalkers and cutthroat coworkers, Faye is faced with a whole new set of challenges. Read more »

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Review: Shylock is My Name

February 11, 2016 Uncategorized 5

Review: Shylock is My NameTitle: Shylock Is My Name
Author: Howard Jacobson
Source: from publisher for review
Links: Amazon|Indiebound |Goodreads
Rating: four-stars

Summary: This was a clever, creative retelling, but I sometimes felt as though the author was trying too hard to be clever.

This retelling of The Merchant of Venice is the first book I’ve read in the exciting new Hogarth Shakespeare collection of retellings. Not only does this story include a modern retelling of The Merchant of Venice, mostly from the perspective of the modern day Shylock, the original Shylock himself shows up to have philosophical discussions, give advice, and possibly interfere. Read more »

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#FuturisticFriday Review and Giveaway: In the Land of Armadillos

February 3, 2016 Uncategorized 29

#FuturisticFriday Review and Giveaway: In the Land of ArmadillosTitle: In the Land of Armadillos: Stories
Author: Helen Maryles Shankman
Source: from publisher for review
Links: Amazon|Indiebound |Goodreads
Rating: five-stars

Summary: I loved how these connected short stories revealed more layers of each character as they went and also how the magical realism and surprising acts of kindness brought hope to otherwise bleak stories.

This collection of connected short stories is set during the Nazi occupation of Wlodawa, Poland. The people we meet there include “a cold-blooded SS officer dedicated to rescuing the creator of his son’s favorite picture book, even as he helps exterminate the artist’s friends and family; a Messiah who appears in a little boy’s bedroom to announce that he is quitting; a young Jewish girl who is hidden by the town’s most outspoken anti-Semite—and his talking dog. And walking among these tales are two unforgettable figures: the enigmatic and silver-tongued Willy Reinhart, Commandant of the forced labor camp who has grand schemes to protect “his” Jews, and Soroka, the Jewish saddlemaker and his family, struggling to survive.” (source) Read more »

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Review: The Stargazer’s Sister

January 20, 2016 Uncategorized 27

Review: The Stargazer’s SisterTitle: The Stargazer's Sister
Author: Carrie Brown
Source: from publisher for review
Links: Amazon|Indiebound |Goodreads
Rating: five-stars

Summary: This was fantastic historical fiction, with a fascinating time period and main character, both brought vividly to life.

Although you may recognize the name of William Herschel (astronomer, first to observe Uranus, designer of a new telescope), you may not know how involved his sister, Caroline, was in his work. Rescued from a life of drudgery with her uncaring mother, Lina was deeply grateful to come live with her brother. She embraced the knowledge he was able to share, becoming not only a capable assistant, but an impressive astronomer in her own right. Her abilities and independence gave her great joy, but, given her brother’s obsession with his work, they sometimes came at a high cost to her health and happiness as well. Read more »

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#FuturisticFriday Review: The Geography of Genius

January 19, 2016 Uncategorized 9

#FuturisticFriday Review: The Geography of GeniusTitle: The Geography of Genius: A Search for the World's Most Creative Places from Ancient Athens to Silicon Valley
Author: Eric Weiner
Source: from publisher for review
Links: Amazon|Indiebound |Goodreads
Rating: four-stars

Summary: This an enjoyable, engaging microhistory, full of lots of fun facts about some really interesting places.

Travel writer Eric Weiner’s exploration of genius begins with the observation that, historically, geniuses often appear in clusters, with many geniuses originating in one place during one era. To explore what made these places inspire genius, Eric visits places of past and present genius, from Athens to Silicon Valley. He observes  similarities and differences between the places he visits and connects them to many theories about what inspires creative thinking. Read more »

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