Source: from publisher for review

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Review: The Summer Before the War

April 6, 2016 Fiction, Historical Fiction 6

Review: The Summer Before the WarTitle: The Summer Before the War
Author: Helen Simonson
Source: from publisher for review
Links: Amazon|Indiebound |Goodreads
Rating: three-stars

Summary: This was a cute story, but too predictable to be complex and not quite happy enough to justify the predictability.

In East Sussex, in the summer before the start of WWI, the big news is the progressive choice of a female Latin teacher, Beatrice Nash. The wealthy Agatha Grange, who pushed for Beatrice’s appointment, is determined that Beatrice prove herself a good choice, despite being more attractive and independent than might be considered proper in a Latin teacher. Meanwhile, Agatha’s two nephews have their own problems as they slowly get pulled into preparations for war. Read more »

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#FuturisticFriday Review and Giveaway: Lab Girl

April 5, 2016 Uncategorized 24

#FuturisticFriday Review and Giveaway: Lab GirlTitle: Lab Girl
Author: Hope Jahren
Source: from publisher for review
Links: Amazon|Indiebound |Goodreads
Rating: five-stars

Summary: This book succeeds as both an approachable primer on some cool science and as a relatable, moving memoir.

“Acclaimed scientist Hope Jahren has built three laboratories in which she’s studied trees, flowers, seeds, and soil. Her first book is a revelatory treatise on plant life—but it is also so much more. Lab Girl is a book about work, love, and the mountains that can be moved when those two things come together. It is told through Jahren’s stories: about her childhood in rural Minnesota with an uncompromising mother and a father who encouraged hours of play in his classroom’s labs; about how she found a sanctuary in science, and learned to perform lab work done “with both the heart and the hands”; and about the inevitable disappointments, but also the triumphs and exhilarating discoveries, of scientific work.” (Source) Read more »

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Review: All Stories Are Love Stories

March 27, 2016 Fiction, Literary 8

Review: All Stories Are Love StoriesTitle: All Stories Are Love Stories: A Novel
Author: Elizabeth Percer
Source: from publisher for review
|Goodreads
Rating: three-stars

Summary: I enjoyed most of this book and it did remind me of Station Eleven, but the writing wasn’t as beautiful and I dropped a star because of the ending.

“On Valentine’s Day, two major earthquakes strike San Francisco within the same hour, devastating the city and its primary entry points, sparking fires throughout, and leaving its residents without power, gas, or water. Among the disparate survivors whose fates will become intertwined are Max, a man who began the day with birthday celebrations tinged with regret; Vashti, a young woman who has already buried three of the people she loved most . . . but cannot forget Max, the one man who got away; and Gene, a Stanford geologist who knows far too much about the terrifying earthquakes that have damaged this beautiful city and irrevocably changed the course of their lives. As day turns to night and fires burn across the city, Max and Vashti—trapped beneath the rubble of the collapsed Nob Hill Masonic Auditorium—must confront each other and face the truth about their past, while Gene embarks on a frantic search through the realization of his worst nightmares to find his way back to his ailing lover and their home.” (Source) Read more »

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Review: In Other Words

March 9, 2016 Memoir 16

Review: In Other WordsTitle: In Other Words
Author: Jhumpa Lahiri, Ann Goldstein
Source: from publisher for review
Links: Amazon|Indiebound |Goodreads
Rating: three-stars

Summary: I enjoyed this beautifully written glimpse into the experience of learning a new language, but I felt emotionally disconnected from the author.

I find the way in which this book was written fascinating. The author, Jhumpa Lahiri, grew up in the US, speaking Bengali at home and English in school, but along the way, she also fell in love with Italian. This is her first attempt to write a book in Italian and the version I read was translated back into English by someone else, translator Ann Goldstein. In it, Jhumpa discusses her love of Italian, her experience learning the language, and a bit about what motivates her to write. Read more »

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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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