Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Review: The Chaperone

Title The Chaperone
By Laura Moriarty
Genre Adult Historical Fiction
Format Audio
Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Cora's children are grown and off on their own so when the chance to travel to New York City as a chaperone for the beautiful 16 year old Louise Brooks comes up, she jumps at the opportunity. She has her own secret reasons for going to New York and can use this opportunity to fulfill her goal. But where Cora is traditional and a bit uptight, Louise is wild and modern. The two struggle to understand each other and get along as they spend the hot summer together and learn about each other and themselves.

First Sentence
The First time Cora heard the name Louise Brooks, she was parked outside the Wichita Library in a Model T Ford, waiting for the rain to stop.

I can't remember when I first heard about this one but it must have caught my attention because I added it to my TBR list. When it came up on Overdrive I downloaded it as began to listen.

There's a reason this book is a New York Times best seller. It was rich with details and heart and I cared deeply for the characters. Cora was incredibly traditional. In the early 1920s when hemlines were raising she still wears a corset. Watching her interact with a young, modern and headstrong teenager was amusing. I loved how Cora grew as a person and was open minded enough to realize maybe her way wasn't the best. It was one of my favorite things about this book.

I really felt for Cora. She had a pretty awful life. It could have been worse but a lot of things that happened to her were just unfair and frustrating. I was rooting for her happiness through the whole book.

I love when historical fiction is done right. When you can love the characters enough to gladly follow them through lots of historical events with out a single yawn I think the author has done their job. Not that the '20s and '30s were boring but I can see how some people might think so.

I really liked this epic story and won't soon be forgetting it. I want to check out what else the author has written and get my hands on it.

Should you read it
I think this one has A LOT of things going on in it so there's something for everyone. I'd recommend it!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Review: How To Train Your Dragon

Title How to Train Your Dragon (How to Train Your Dragon #1)
By Cressida Cowell
Genre Middle Grade Fantasy
Format Print
Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️

On the island of Berk boys go through a right of passage by capturing their own baby dragon and training it to compete in a contest. When Hiccup ends up capturing the most boring kind of dragon there is he's certain he won't win. Especially because is dragon doesn't even have teeth. How's a boy to become a man with such a sorry excuse for a dragon?

First Sentence
Long ago on the wild and windy isle of Berk, a smallish Viking with a longish name stood up to his ankles in snow.

I read this one for book club. It was an easy read. I think I read the whole thing in about an hour in one sitting.

Obviously everyone who's seen the movie thinks the movie was WAY better than the book. I love the movie too so I can see why people feel that way but I wanted to defend this little book.

First of all, it's not fair to compare the two. The movie is great but before it came along the book was being loved and admired for itself. If the movie never existed would the book be as "boring" as we think it was? I don't think so.

The book was cute. As soon as I stopped trying to compare it to the movie I quite enjoyed it. Yes, it was a bit young for me but I wasn't the target audience so I was fine with that.

I think it had a good message about finding your own way to become a hero and using your natural talents to do so.

Should you read it
I think it deserves a chance. I particularly think young kids should read it.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Review: The Woman In The Window

Title The Woman In The Window
By A.J. Finn
Genre Adult suspense
Format ebook
Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Anna is an agoraphobic. Living alone in her New York City home she spends her time drinking too much wine, watching old movies and spying on her neighbors. When she witnesses a murder but no one believes her she starts to questions her own sanity.

First Sentence
Her husband's almost home.

I thought the premise of this one sounded a lot like the old movie, Rear Window, so I had to give it a read.

This is Finn's first book and I was blown away by his unique writing style. I can't believe I'm going to say this but I haven't actively noticed unique writing like this since Markus Zusak. I don't mean Finn writes like Zusak but they both have this unusual style that makes you pause and reread the sentence with goosebumps running up and down your arms.

The entire time I was reading this I was so immersed in the story and writing that I started feeling like the character. Foggy headed, delusional and a little crazy. I just wanted to go outside and feel the wind and breath! I couldn't stand that she never went out and never cracked a window. I could almost smell the staleness of her house.

A lot of the twist and turns in this one were fairly obvious to me but a few things caught me by surprise which is always good. While I didn't love the ending and found the "villain" cliche, I enjoyed the journey and can't WAIT for more books by this author.

Should you read it
You should. And tell me what you think of his writing style.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Review: White Tears

Title White Tears
By Hari Kunzru
Genre Adult Literary Fiction
Format Print
Rating ⭐️

The only thing Seth and Carter have in common is their love of music. Particularly old blues recordings. When Seth accidentally records a song at the park Carter edits and posts it on the internet claiming it's a song by a blues artist known as Charlie Shaw. The whole thing is made up but then they learn that maybe Charlie Shaw really existed and the past begins to haunt their lives in ways they never expected.

First Sentence
That summer I would ride my bike over the bridge, lock it up in front of the bars on Orchard Street and drift through the city on foot, recording.

Another Tournament of Books read. Oi! Some of these are hard to read but usually, if I stick with them, they pay off. Not so much with this one.

While it took a bit to get into it, I found myself easily making my way through this one. It was, for the most part, easy to read. About half way through it, however, it got really, really weird. It started to feel like some strange hallucinatory fever dream and I found myself wondering what the hell was going on! I stuck with it hoping my efforts would be rewarded but, alas, they were not.

At it's heart this is a book about racism and, quite frankly, I'm tired of all the talk about racism. If all we do is talk, talk, talk about it nothing gets better and we just keep feeding the machine. Books like this aren't helping. They too are just fueling the machine.

Personal feelings aside, this book just didn't work. It starts out telling a story and then gets so convoluted and far fetched with in your face agenda pushing that it just didn't work. I felt like I'd been taken in with the promise of a story and handed, instead, a pamphlet on why I should feel like crap for being born white. It's the old bait and switch. I should have just set it aside.

Should you read it
No. There are much more beautiful books out there that handle this subject with no agenda and a more hopeful message of love.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Review: Places No One Knows

Title Places No One Knows
By Brenna Yovanoff
Genre YA contemporary
Format Audio
Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Waverly puts on a facade of happiness at school and at home for her friends and family. She's the perfect "good girl" but all is not as perfect as it seems. Her unhappiness is eating into her nights giving her insomnia. Marshall is a nobody. He drinks and does drugs to dull the pain of his miserable home life. He's the typical "bad boy" When Waverly somehow dreams her way into Marshall's room and the two form a tenuous romance they'll have to decide if carrying it into the day time hours is possible or even worth it.

First Sentence
There's something awful about the sun.

I've really enjoyed Yovanoff's writing in the past so I've been working my way through her books. This one sounded intriguing.  What's not to love? You've got the "good girl" dreaming herself into the "bad boy's" bedroom at night. Sounds good, right?

I was expecting a much more light fluffy read then I got. Not that, that's a bad thing. This book dealt with some serious issues. I should have known it would. Yovanoff seems to get down to the nitty gritty of people and deal with the hard issues. It's one of the thing's I love about her writing.

As much as I found myself pleasantly surprised with this one and having an overall good experience listening to it, I found in unmemorable. I read it a few weeks ago and I'm already forgetting a lot of it. I do, however, remember that it felt important. Like teens should read this. I think they'll feel understood and relate to it.

Should you read it
I'll always recommend Yovanoff. I find myself liking her more and more with every one of her books I read.