Posts Tagged: Books

That Time When a Book was More Than I Thought….

November 13, 2015 Audio Books, Book Reviews, Books 3 ★★★★★

That Time When a Book was More Than I Thought….The Penguin Lessons: What I Learned from a Remarkable Bird
Narrator: Bill Nighy
Length: 6 hours 6 minutes
Published by Random House Audio
on October 27, 2015
Genres: Memoir
Pages: 240
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible
I was hoping against hope that the penguin would survive because as of that instant he had a name, and with his name came the beginning of a bond which would last a life-time.'

Tom Michell is in his roaring twenties: single, free-spirited and seeking adventure. He has a plane ticket to South America, a teaching position in a prestigious Argentine boarding school, and endless summer holidays. He even has a motorbike, Che Guevara style. What he doesn't need is a pet. What he really doesn't need is a pet penguin. Set against Argentina's turbulent years following the collapse of the corrupt Perónist regime, this is the heart-warming story of Juan Salvador the penguin, rescued by Tom from an oil slick in Uruguay just days before a new term. When the bird refuses to leave Tom's side, the young teacher has no choice but to smuggle it across the border, through customs, and back to school.

Whether it's as the rugby team's mascot, the housekeeper's confidant, the host at Tom's parties or the most flamboyant swimming coach in world history, Juan Salvador transforms the lives of all he meets - in particular one homesick school boy. And as for Tom, he discovers in Juan Salvador a compadre like no other... The Penguin Lessons is a unique and moving true story which has captured imaginations around the globe - for all those who dreamed as a child they might one day talk to the animals.

Okay, I admit it. I picked this book for the cover. So sue me. In my defense, LOOK at that cover. Is there anything cuter than a penguin wearing a long scarf? Okay, I could probably go for an owl or a fox wearing a long scarf, or a Doctor (wink), but not many animals, or people, can pull off this look.

Judging by the cover, I was expecting a sweet, slightly whimsical, and completely charming story of a man and his penguin. I got all of that. But I also got so much more, for during the time Michell owned his pet penguin, he lived in Argentina and it was an Argentina in turmoil. It is the post-Perón years and it is a time period I absolutely knew nothing about. So, intermingled with adorable stories of a penguin who rules a boarding school in Argentina are stories of coups and all the problems of living in an impoverished country where violence, deprivation, and uncertainty run rampant.

Now really. Is there a better way to learn some history about a time period and place you know little about? Surround any history lesson with stories of a cute penguin (or an owl, fox, or octopus to name a few others) and I think one could teach anybody anything.

The absolutely icing on the cake, for me, was Bill Nighy’s narration. Yes, ole Davy Jones himself reads the book and he reads it masterfully. He can read to me, anything, anytime. Loved it.



Nonfiction November 2015

October 29, 2015 Books, Lists 5


I cannot begin to tell you how happy I am that Nonfiction November is here. Along with my Harry Potter Binging (see previous post), I will also be binging nonfiction. All kinds of nonfiction. I have a varied pile on my table, in my iPad, and my phone (the audiobooks are there). So, any bets how many books I can read this month? I think I’ll go for 15 again.

So. Oh, yes. My nonfiction list. So many excellent sounding books!

From the library:

  • American Bloomsbury : Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry David Thoreau : their lives, their loves, their work by Cheever, Susan.
  • Galileo’s middle finger : heretics, activists, and the search for justice in science by Dreger, Alice Domurat
  • Murder by candlelight : the gruesome crimes behind our romance with the macabre by Beran, Michael Knox,
  • A reader on reading by Manguel, Alberto.
  • The woman who would be king by Cooney, Kara.

On the iPad:

  • On the Trail of Genghis Khan: An Epic Journey Through the Land of the Nomads by Tim Cope
  • Alphabetical: How Every Letter Tells a Story by Michael Rosen
  • The French House: A quirky and inspiring memoir about turning a ruin into a home by Don Wallace
  • Shadows in the Vineyard: The True Story of the Plot to Poison the World’s Greatest Wine by Maximillian Potter
  • The Orchid Thief: A True Story of Beauty and Obsession by Susan Orlean
  • A Perfect Red by Amy Butler Greenfield
  • Periodic Tales: A Cultural History of the Elements, from Arsenic to Zinc by Hugh Aldersey-Williams
  • Unruly Places: Lost Spaces, Secret Cities, and Other Inscrutable Geographies by Alastair Bonnett
  • Tinseltown: Murder, Morphine, and Madness at the Dawn of Hollywood by William J. Mann
  • A History Of The Wife by Marilyn Yalom
  • Savage Harvest: A Tale of Cannibals, Colonialism, and Michael Rockefeller’s Tragic Quest for Primitive Art by Carl Hoffman
  • This Book Is Overdue!: How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All Marilyn Johnson
  • Maps and Legends: Reading and Writing Along the Borderlands by Michael Chabon
  • Tracks: One Woman’s Journey Across 1,700 Miles of Australian Outback by Robyn Davidson
  • Curse Amazon and their sales. There are more. And I may read one of them. But I’m tired of looking. I think you get the idea. I have a lot of nonfiction I want to get through next month.

Have you read any of these? Which do you recommend?



That Feeling When One of Your Favorite Authors…Disappoints You?

October 28, 2015 Book Reviews, Books 10 ★★★½

That Feeling When One of Your Favorite Authors…Disappoints You?The Rest of Us Just Live Here
by Patrick Ness
Published by Walker Books
on August 27, 2015
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 352
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
What if you aren’t the Chosen One?

The one who’s supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever the heck this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death?

What if you’re like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again.

Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week’s end of the world, and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life.

Even if your best friend is worshipped by mountain lions.

Award-winning writer Patrick Ness’s bold and irreverent novel powerfully reminds us that there are many different types of remarkable

I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week’s end of the world and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life.


Okay, no, not crushed, but I am at a loss for words because…I didn’t love this book. I was….I was…I was all…


I DID LIKE IT. Do not get me wrong. I did like it. But I have become accustomed to a certain level of…complete and absolute adoration…when it comes to Patrick Ness’s work that, when I don’t feel it, I’m left feeling confused, bereft, and severely lacking in my mental acumen. In other words, I am at a loss for words. I’m left wondering what is wrong with ME, that I don’t like this like I should? It had all the usual Ness-excellent writing. The characters were fun. I liked the story-within-a-story aspect. The INDIE kids and how the world was ending for them (again) and how the normal, regular kids, were worried about love, and school, and graduating before the high school blew up (again).

Or, well, yeah. It DID feel a little gimmicky, I’ll give you that. And no, I didn’t really feel engaged with any of the characters. I never felt…connected…. Despite their being “normal” and “not the Chosen ones,” I didn’t identify with them at all. And I don’t feel like that’s because they are all teenagers and I am most assuredly not a teenager any more. Still, I was a teenager once. I remember what it was like. It has not prevented me from identifying with teenagers in other books.

No, upon closer examination, it was determined, by me, that my standards are set impossibly high. Certainly I can’t expect this brilliant, impossibly engaging man, to hit them all out of the park. Can I? No. I cannot.

And, just to prove that the writing is still awesome:

Not everyone has to be the Chosen One. Not everyone has to be the guy who saves the world. Most people just have to live their lives the best they can, doing things that are great for them, having great friends, trying to make their lives better, loving people properly. All the while knowing that the world makes no sense but trying to find a way to be happy anyway.

Feelings don’t try to kill you, even the painful ones. Anxiety is a feeling grown too large. A feeling grown aggressive and dangerous. You’re responsible for it’s consequences, you’re responsible for treating it. But Michael, you’re not responsible for causing it. You’re not morally at fault for it. No more than you would be for a tumour.

Have you read this book? What did you think? What was I missing????



A More Diverse Universe – Mare’s War by Tanita S. Davis

October 8, 2015 Book Reviews, Books 7 ★★★★★

A More Diverse Universe – Mare’s War by Tanita S. DavisMare's War
Series: diversiverse, mare's war, tanita s. davis
Published by Random House Children's
on June 2009
Genres: Historical Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 352
Source: Library

There are a great many things I find fascinating.  Family history.  WWII history.  Teenagers.  (No really, they are!) And road trips, for a start.

Mare’s War features all of these, so there was no way I wasn’t going to love this book.  And I did, I sooooo did.

Going on a road trip with their… unusual grandmother Mare is the last thing teens Tali and Octavia want to do with their summer.  At the insistence of their mother, the girls reluctantly get in the car and take off to a mysterious family reunion on the other side of the country, in Alabama.

The girls, like most teenagers, don’t know how they will survive the trip with Mare.  Before they have even left the driveway, their grandmother is getting on their nerves with her smoking and Mare is annoying with Tali constantly listening to music on her MP3 player.  The two make a pact; Mare will not smoke if Tali will give up the music.

To make the time go faster, Mare begins telling the girls stories, stories of her younger years.  The girls are astonished to hear about Mare’s youth in Alabama, about how she grew up during the Great Depression, the lengths she went to to protect her own sister and her differences with her mother.  The biggest surprise of all is learning how Mare ran away from home to join the WAC (Women’s Army Corp) and served during World War II.  Mare’s struggles at home with her mother and her mother’s abusive man make joining the army feel like a piece of cake.  It gives her a safe place to live, three meals and day and gives her strength and a belief in herself that could never be bought.

Yet, even though the WAC gave immeasurable help to their country while fighting the Nazi’s in Europe, the segregation that Mare and all the other colored soldiers in the 6888th Battalion, Company C, face is much harder to defeat.  Mare’s tough spirit and pride in her Company and all the women she served with  remain with her and become a huge part of who she is. After all she’s been through, is it any wonder she thinks Tali and Octavia are a little bit spoiled?

The girls are fascinated.  Who knew their grandmother had done such amazing things?  Mare’s stories are eye-opening to say the least.  By the end of their trip, the three have grown closer and the girls have a new respect for Mare – and Mare for them.

Tanita S. Davis has written a thoughtful, powerful tale about women, African-Americans, and the struggles they have faced in, not only the racist past, but in the still racist present we live in now.  Not only that, but it fills in a blank part of all American’s history of World War II, the brave way the women of the 6888th Battalion, Company C, helped end World War II.  And it’s powerful message of family, of history, of knowing your place in the world and the sacrifices of those who came before us, help shape every reader’s perception of themselves.  I hate to admit that I knew next to nothing about the 6888th Battalion, Company C, so I was so happy to learn more about these amazing women.  It’s a shame that their story has been so hugely lost to history and many props to Ms. Davis for bringing their story back to the light.  This is a book everyone woman, no matter their color, should read.

As for whether a teenager will sit through a book about history, I love what Liz B at A Chair, A Fireplace, and a Tea Cozy has to say about that:

Oh, and if you have teens who you know will like this book but may be turned off by the history, because some teenagers eyes glaze over when you say “and it’s about women soldiers in World War II!” Simply say, “and then Mare went after her mother’s boyfriend with a hatchet.” Imagine hearing THAT about your grandma.

Not to mention Tali and Octavia do a lot of growing up during the course of their road-trip.  Octavia especially, a quiet, shy girl, learns to find courage within herself and that is always fun to read. And the dynamic between the two girls, typical sisters, friends and fighters, is well written and felt true to life.

Mare is one tough grandma and I couldn’t help but come to adore her (and the girls!) over the course of this book and is definitely why this was one of my favorite reads ever.



Reading Notes: On Reading an Author’s Final Work

September 9, 2015 Book Reviews, Books 9

Reading Notes: On Reading an Author’s Final WorkThe Shepherd's Crown
by terry pratchett
Narrator: stephen briggs
Length: 7 hours 49 minutes
Published by Harper Audio
on 9.1.15
Genres: Fantasy
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible
Deep in the Chalk, something is stirring. ¬The owls and the foxes can sense it, and Tiffany Aching feels it in her boots. An old enemy is gathering strength.

This is a time of endings and beginnings, old friends and new, a blurring of edges and a shifting of power. Now Tiffany stands between the light and the dark, the good and the bad.

As the fairy horde prepares for invasion, Tiffany must summon all the witches to stand with her. To protect the land. Her land.

There will be a reckoning. . .



For your information, I’m not really going to write a review of The Shepherd’s Crown. If you’ve read Terry Pratchett, or at least the Tiffany Aching series, you’re going to read this book. If you haven’t even read the Tiffany Aching series, you won’t read this book, at least not yet. This is going to be more of a discussion of the experience of reading this book, for me anyway. It’s going to be hard for me to write, it’s probably going to be disjointed, and emotional, yes, there may be some tears, and run-on sentences, and maybe even a touch of hysterics(!) but you know what? I don’t care. I have some things I need to get, this is my forum for getting things out and so, it is going to happen.

The Shepherd’s Crown tore my heart to pieces. And then, it put all back together again in the most beautiful way….

On March 12, 2015, the beloved author Terry Pratchett died after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease. I came late to his work, when, after getting several recommendations as to where exactly to start, I started with Nation. That, as they say, was that. There was no looking back. While I still haven’t come close to reading all his books, I became a die-hard fan. When he died, I cried just as hard as his longtime fans had, and, begrudgingly began to look forward to what was suddenly his last book; The Shepherd’s Crown. It is not impossible to read an author’s last book. Thousands of writers have lived, and died, and left behind a last work. I think perhaps a last book is seldom written by an author who has stared death in the face for years and knows, beyond a shadow of doubt, that He is near. Terry Pratchett knew.

And it glows throughout his last book.

Death has always been a prominent figure in Pratchett’s books. He has appeared several times to usher a character into the next world. He appears early on in this book, and, while he is speaking to another character, one can’t help but feel that the author is “breaking the fourth wall” so to speak and using Death to speak directly to the reader.

I HAVE WATCHED YOUR PROGRESS WITH INTEREST, ESMERELDA WEATHERWAX, said the voice in the dark. He was firm, but oh so polite. But now there was a question in his voice. PRAY TELL ME, WHY WERE YOU CONTENT TO LIVE IN THIS TINY LITTLE COUNTRY WHEN, AS YOU KNOW, YOU COULD HAVE BEEN ANYTHING AND ANYBODY IN THE WORLD? “I don’t know about the world, not much; but in my part of the world I could make little miracles for ordinary people,” Granny replied sharply. “And I never wanted the world—just a part of it, a small part that I could keep safe, that I could keep away from storms. Not the ones of the sky, you understand: there are other kinds.” AND WOULD YOU SAY YOUR LIFE BENEFITED THE PEOPLE OF LANCRE AND ENVIRONS? After a minute the soul of Granny Weatherwax said, “Well, not boasting, your willingness, I think I have done right, for Lancre at least. I’ve never been to Environs.” MISTRESS WEATHERWAX, THE WORD “ENVIRONS” MEANS, WELL, THEREABOUTS. “All right,” said Granny. “I did get about, to be sure.” A VERY GOOD LIFE LIVED INDEED, ESMERELDA. “Thank you,” said Granny. “I did my best.”

He did his best indeed.

Endings figure prominently throughout the book. Yet, most beautifully of all, so does reassurance

Tiffany thought of the little spot in the woods where Granny Weatherwax lay. Remembered.

And knew that You¹ had been right. Granny Weatherwax was indeed here. And there. She was, in fact, and always would be, everywhere.

and change

Why? Why not do things differently? Why should we do things how they have always been done before? And something inside her suddenly thrilled to the challenge.

and comfort

“The end of times?” said Nanny. “Look, Tiff, Esme tol’ me to say, if you want to see Esmerelda Weatherwax, then just you look around. She is here. Us witches don’t mourn for very long. We are satisfied with happy memories – they’re there to be cherished.”

For in the end, Terry is still here. His many books, thoughts, and wisdom live on to be cherished, to be learned from, to be loved. Thank you Terry and mind how you go.

¹sidenote: You is Granny’s cat.




Reading Notes – August 27 ,2015

August 27, 2015 Books, Reading Notes 7


I feel kind of weird doing a Reading Notes post, seeing as I’m still not doing a ton of reading, but it’s part of my new schedule and I want to get off on the right foot. I just typed food, so I think you can see where my mind is at.

fivedaysatmemorialAs for reading, I’ve been listening to Five Days at Memorial by Sheri Fink and Holy Cow Guacamole. The full title is Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital by Sheri Fink and for good reason. I knew Katrina was bad, who didn’t know Katrina was bad, but I HAD NO IDEA and I bet you didn’t either. The news focused so much on the looting and the mismanagement by the government that this story, and so many others I’m sure, went ignored. I’m glad it wasn’t ignored for long.

Emergencies are crucibles that contain and reveal the daily, slower-burning problems of medicine and beyond – our vulnerabilities; our trouble grappling with uncertainty, how we die, how we prioritize and divide what is most precious and vital and limited; even our biases and blindnesses.

And hopefully those that need to know, learned from it. I can’t wait to get back to my listening. And how serendipitous that I managed to be listening during the anniversary of the storm. Way to go me!

Another book I’m reading The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage by Syndey Padua. lovelaceandbabbageAda Lovelace and Charles Babbage were real people. Ada Lovelace was the daughter of Lord Byron and, somewhat surprisingly, something of a mathematical genius. Charles Babbage was something of an inventor who had the idea for a proto-computer, but never really built anything. I have been fascinated by Lovelace for a long time. How does the daughter of such a celebrated poet become interested in mathematics? How does she write what is basically the beginnings of computer programming theory? Where does that come from?

And what could she have done if she hadn’t died so very young?

This book explores that. I have just reached the end of what was real, and am entering the part of the book that imagines. I wish I had more time to pick it up. I can’t wait for the weekend!

therestofusLastly, being such an impatient cuss, I started The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness. I would say I feel a little apprehensive about this book and I’m pretty sure a few of you would understand why. I seriously LOVE Patrick Ness. Adore him. Feel he can do no wrong. And that can be dangerous, because more often that not, an author like that will let you down. Plus, I don’t read as much young adult as I used to because, well, it sometimes gets on my nerves.

Happily, even though I’m only about 25% into the book, it is NOT getting on my nerves. Unhappily, I’m not exactly sure what it is doing to me. The premise is great. What WOULD it be like to not be the star? To be the one on the outside of all the adventure? To be the one looking in, wondering what it’s like to be the hero?

I will let you know.

So, how is your reading week going?



Reading Notes: On a Long Walk with Stephen King

June 25, 2015 Book Reviews, Books 4 ★★★★½

Reading Notes: On a Long Walk with Stephen KingThe Long Walk
by Stephen King
Published by Signet
on July 1979
Genres: Horror
Pages: 370
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
On the first day of May, 100 teenage boys meet for a race known as The Long Walk. If you break the rules, you get three warnings. If you exceed your limit, what happens is absolutely terrifying...

100 boys. 100 boys, assembled on a hill in Maine. They are from all over the country. They don’t know each other, have never even seen each other before. But they are about to embark on a journey, a journey where only one will come out alive, for they are to walk. Walk until there is only one boy left standing. Along the way, profound things will be learned, friendships will be made, and at the end…does anything really change?

I’m so take it or leave it with King. And it’s not because I don’t think he’s a fantastic writer. I do! I looooooved The Stand. I’m so terrified of The Shining that I am 99.9% sure I will never touch it, even with that proverbial 10-foot pole. I thought Misery was tolerable (I was a teen when I read it, so I really barely remember it). I adored his book On Writing. The movie Pet Sematary threatened my relationship with cats for quite some time and I am a cat. lover. In short, I’m never quite sure where I stand on the guy. Basically he warms by belly in anticipation and chills my blood with apprehension.

So, when I read this book was compared to The Hunger Games, I was unsurprisingly interested and wary.

And, as these sorts of comparisons usually go, I found it remarkably different from The Hunger Games and I was completely okay with that. In many ways, The Long Walk isn’t as political. The reader is never told exactly why these boys walk every year. There is no feeling that they are a sacrifice. There is no visible government, other than the Major and the soldiers who follow the boys, and kill them when they fall. There is obviously a winner and the winner does win a prize (seemingly of a large sum of money). The focus of The Long Walk is more on the boys, their thoughts, their feelings, the process of the long walk and what it does to their minds and bodies. I’ve never really thought about it, but walking, without stopping, at a certain speed, for a long period of time would wear on your body and your mind.

In short, I know I would go completely nuts.

This book was more thought-provoking and interesting than I anticipated and I’m actually really glad I read it. I’m glad Uncle Stevie and I are starting to see things the same way. I appreciated that nothing really changed. No governments were overtly challenged, no minds were changed (except those boys), and the reader can imagine that the same thing will happen next year, and the next, and the next. Sometimes things don’t have to be all wrapped up in a bow and I love the occasionally ending that embraces that. Way to go Uncle Stevie!






Reading Notes: Some More Thoughts on Pirates and Adventure

June 18, 2015 Book Reviews, Books 3 ★★★★★

Reading Notes: Some More Thoughts on Pirates and AdventurePirate Hunters: Treasure, Obsession, and the Search for a Legendary Pirate Ship
by Robert Kurson
Published by Random House
on June 16th 2015
Genres: Biography, Mystery, Nonfiction
Pages: 304
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
A thrilling new adventure of danger and deep-sea diving, historic mystery and suspense, by the author of the New York Times bestseller Shadow Divers

Finding and identifying a pirate ship is the hardest thing to do under the sea. But two men—John Chatterton and John Mattera—are willing to risk everything to find the Golden Fleece, the ship of the infamous pirate Joseph Bannister. At large during the Golden Age of Piracy in the seventeenth century, Bannister’s exploits would have been more notorious than Blackbeard’s, more daring than Kidd’s, but his story, and his ship, have been lost to time. If Chatterton and Mattera succeed, they will make history—it will be just the second time ever that a pirate ship has been discovered and positively identified. Soon, however, they realize that cutting-edge technology and a willingness to lose everything aren’t enough to track down Bannister’s ship. They must travel the globe in search of historic documents and accounts of the great pirate’s exploits, face down dangerous rivals, battle the tides of nations and governments and experts. But it’s only when they learn to think and act like pirates—like Bannister—that they become able to go where no pirate hunters have gone before.

Fast-paced and filled with suspense, fascinating characters, history, and adventure, Pirate Hunters is an unputdownable story that goes deep to discover truths and souls long believed lost.

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


Is there anything better than a good pirate book? Especially in the summer? Arrrr! I didn’t think so.

Way back when, I read a fantastic book about German U-Boats and deep sea divers called Shadow Divers: The True Adventure of Two Americans Who Risked Everything to Solve One of the Last Mysteries of World War II by Robert Kurson. One of the divers, John Chatterton, may perhaps be familiar to you? If not, you are missing the adventures of one of the last, great adventurers.

John Chatterton (born 1951) is an American wreck diver. Together with Richie Kohler, he was one of the co-hosts for the History Channel’sDeep Sea Detectives, for 57 episodes of the series. He is also a consultant to the film and television industries and has worked with 20th Century Fox, Paramount Pictures, and CBS. – From Wikipedia

After reading Shadow Hunters, I (and my extension, my husband, being the history nuts we both are) became obsessed with deep sea diving. We watched Deep Sea Detectives and other such shows frequently. I read Kurson’s next book, Crashing Through; A True Story of Risk, Adventure, and the Man Who Dared to See, even though it had nothing to do with diving, because I just loved his writing. In other words, I really loved the book, the author, and the topic. So imagine my delight when I saw that not only did Robert Kurson had another book coming out, but it featured John Chatterton again! And pirates! Yo ho!

Pirate Hunters: Treasure, Obsession, and the Search for a Legendary Pirate Ship has it all. Adventure. History. Danger, greed, and of course, riches. Pirate riches. Gold doubloons, cannons, fine china, and more. I appreciated it all. The reading is fast paced. The research meticulous but not so didactic that it bogs everything down. The tension exquisite. And all to find, not on the ship, but the man who manned it; John Bannister, gentleman pirate. Bannister, lost to history and other pirates more famous, was a singular man with a fascinating story.

One feature of all of Kurson’s books are of man’s determination to be more, to push themselves to be more, than they ever thought possible. In Shadow Divers, Chatterton, Kohler, and company risk their lives to dive to unthinkable depths. Mike May, from Crashing Through, was blinded at the age of three, yet he went on to break records in downhill speed skiing, he joined the CIA, and became a successful business man, inventor, and family man. And again, in Pirate Hunters, Chatterton is thought by many to be too old to be diving at such depths. Now in his sixties, he does it anyway, risking his life, to find the impossible; a real, authenticated pirate ship and make history for finding the actual SECOND pirate ship ever to be found (and authenticated). In my mind, this outlook on life can be inspiration for anyone who wants to be more than they think they can be. Just get out there and do it!

Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of this fantastic book. It will look great in your beach bag!




Reading Notes: What is it about a Book with a Book on the Cover?

June 10, 2015 Book Reviews, Books, eBooks 12 ★★★★★

Reading Notes: What is it about a Book with a Book on the Cover?The Library at Mount Char
by Scott Hawkins
Published by Crown
on June 16, 2015
Genres: Contemporary Fiction
Pages: 388
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
"Neil Gaiman meets Joe Hill in this astonishingly original, terrifying, and darkly funny contemporary fantasy."

Carolyn's not so different from the other human beings around her. She's sure of it. She likes guacamole and cigarettes and steak. She knows how to use a phone. She even remembers what clothes are for.

After all, she was a normal American herself, once.

That was a long time ago, of course--before the time she calls "adoption day," when she and a dozen other children found themselves being raised by a man they learned to call Father.
Father could do strange things. He could call light from darkness. Sometimes he raised the dead. And when he was disobeyed, the consequences were terrible.

In the years since Father took her in, Carolyn hasn't gotten out much. Instead, she and her adopted siblings have been raised according to Father's ancient Pelapi customs. They've studied the books in his library and learned some of the secrets behind his equally ancient power.
Sometimes, they've wondered if their cruel tutor might secretly be God.

Now, Father is missing. And if God truly is dead, the only thing that matters is who will inherit his library--and with it, power over all of creation.

As Carolyn gathers the tools she needs for the battle to come, fierce competitors for this prize align against her.

But Carolyn can win. She's sure of it. What she doesn't realize is that her victory may come at an unacceptable price--because in becoming a God, she's forgotten a great deal about being human.

I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


There are (quite) a few things that make me pick up a book immediately. Things I am helpless against. First, putting a book or books on the cover. It appeals to my bookish nature. Second, compare it to a favorite author. I know I shouldn’t let this work on me, because more often than not, it doesn’t actually work out that way, but I can’t help it. Marketing works, sometimes. Lastly, Let me read it for free for a review. I’m a sucker.

The Library at Mount Char has a burnt book on it’s cover, with comparisons to Neil Gaiman and Joe Hill, and the publisher let me read it for free FOR MY HONEST OPINION. So I’m going to give it to you: I loved it. So there you go.

I don’t know much about Joe Hill. I’ve only read his comics. So, I’m mainly coming at this as a Neil Gaiman/Fantasy fan. And I felt so many shades of American Gods, in the best possible way, and I also felt shades of something new. Something unique. Something undeniably Scott Hawkins. The world he has created here, the characters, the story; all remarkable. He’s created a whole new world, a world where people can become gods, where a Library can hold all the power in the universe, where a person can be brought back to life again and again, and where a person can learn incredible things, like reincarnation, terrible savagery, and startling humanity. And behind it all is the sly, deadpan, quirky voice of a new talent. Surprising at every turn, The Library at Mount Char is not to be missed.

Favorite Bits:

“The librarians I know are into, like, I dunno, tea and cozy mysteries, not breaking and entering.”

“Yeah, well. This is a different kind of library.”

“It’s about the Library,” Carolyn said. “Right now the only thing that matters is who takes control of Father’s Library.”

“Library? Who gives a damn about a library?”

Carolyn rolled her eyes. “Americans.”

“With this particular species of crazy, you stop trying to make things better. You start trying to maximize the bad. You pretend to like it. Eventually you start working to make everything as bad as possible. It’s an avoidance mechanism.” Jennifer looked Carolyn directly in the eyes. “It can’t actually work. That’s why they call it crazy.”

Steve walked over and squatted down. There, almost invisible in the shadows, he found it. “It’s a book?”

She smiled. “Of course it’s a book.”



Denton Little’s Deathdate by Lance Rubin

May 28, 2015 Book Reviews, Books, eBooks 1 ★★★

Denton Little’s Deathdate by Lance RubinDenton Little's Deathdate
by Lance Rubin
Series: Denton Little #1
Published by Knopf
on April 14th 2015
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 352
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Denton Little's Deathdate takes place in a world exactly like our own except that everyone knows the day they will die. For 17-year-old Denton Little, that's tomorrow, the day of his senior prom.

Despite his early deathdate, Denton has always wanted to live a normal life, but his final days are filled with dramatic firsts. First hangover. First sex. First love triangle (as the first sex seems to have happened not with his adoring girlfriend, but with his best friend's hostile sister. Though he's not totally sure. See: first hangover.) His anxiety builds when he discovers a strange purple rash making its way up his body. Is this what will kill him? And then a strange man shows up at his funeral, claiming to have known Denton's long-deceased mother, and warning him to beware of suspicious government characters…. Suddenly Denton's life is filled with mysterious questions and precious little time to find the answers.

Debut author Lance Rubin takes us on a fast, furious, and outrageously funny ride through the last hours of a teenager's life as he searches for love, meaning, answers, and (just maybe) a way to live on.

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


You know, I’m not sure what’s wrong with me. I’ve been going through something of a book identity crisis. You see, I used to LOVE young adult books. Then I didn’t love them quite so much any more, but I still read my favorite authors. And then, I wasn’t feeling the pull to read my favorite authors (of YA that is) either. Yet, somehow, inexplicably, this book called to me from the shelf of NetGalley and I was like sure. What the heck. It might be good.

It was good.

But, just good.

In the world Denton Little lives in, everyone knows when they will die. Down to the very day. And everyone celebrates their death day, because, why not? Denton’s death date is, tragically, early. He will die on prom night, in his 17th year. Dude has been busy. So many firsts in his last days! As the book opens, Denton has his first hangover. Upon waking he discovers he’s had his first sex (and totally missed it because booze) which leads to his first love triangle (because dude has a girlfriend and sex was not with her).

Things are dramatic.

Then he discovers the beginnings on a rash making its way up his body. Is this what will kill him? He’s disappointed. Because teenage boy.

If things don’t seem dramatic and crazy enough, things are about to get worse, when a strange man shows up at his funeral. Since you know when you’re going to die, you go to your own funeral. Fun times.


  • It’s funny. Very witty. Lance Rubin is quite the funny, witty, guy.
  • It is fast paced. I can see kids (boys especially) appreciating the quick action.
  • There’s a mystery. Mysteries are always fun.
  • The characters are fun. I’m saying fun a lot, am I not?
  • The sex isn’t handled lightly. The cheating isn’t either, which I appreciate. The drinking kind of is.
  • The adults are present, which is nice. Adults tend to go missing in YA.

All in all, it’s a fun read. Kids will love it. I finished it, which I think says a lot. I may even make an effort to read the next one. And, if I had a kind old enough for it, I would push it off on them.

Recommended, for those younger than me.