Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Dead Heat by Patricia Briggs (Alpha & Omega #4)

Dead Heat (Alpha & Omega, #4)Dead Heat by Patricia Briggs
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It's been so long since we last heard from Anna & Charles but on March 3rd we get the newest book in Anna & Charles' world! And this new chapter in their story doesn't disappoint. The mated couple travel down to Arizona so that Charles can visit his old friend Joseph, before Joseph dies from cancer. Seeing as Charles doesn't keep many people close, Anna is intrigued by the visit and surprised to know that Charles has opened his heart to a human at all. Joseph's family raises horses and since Anna's 26th birthday is approaching they decide the trip will also serve to get Anna a new horse as her gift. Though excited for her gift, it is not exactly what Anna most wants. What she wants is to have children with Charles.

This book reads like a suspense-thriller with paranormal flair and I enjoyed every bit of it. It includes characters from previous books and we get to learn a lot more about Charles along with Anna as she takes measure of his emotional history in an effort to open him up to the idea of children. The details about horses and riding are seamless and will make any horse-lover happy as several of the animals become pivotal to the plot. Joseph Sani's family and Navajo culture also make it easy to invest yourself quickly and I especially loved getting to know the Sani kids: Max, Mackie, and Michael. They are funny and loving and I couldn't help but have a soft spot for them.

My only problem with the book is that it ended so abruptly for me. But that says more about me than the writing, because when it comes to Patricia Briggs I just always want more. In actuality, the ending isn't so much abrupt as it is an obvious closing point for this one book and very apparent that there's more to come in the Alpha & Omega series. And thank goodness for that because I adore Anna, Charles, and of course Mercy Thompson. Can't wait for more :D

Thank You to Penguin Group for the review copy via NetGalley!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

The AlchemistThe Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I read this a while back but it's still in the back of my mind as I think about and read other books on philosophical topics. I think the main reason is because I read it for the first time just last year, and it was in preparation for an Oprah Super Soul Sunday discussion that included the author. Had those things not been a part of my reading process I might not have been affected by the book at all.

And here's a sentence I thought I'd never say:
I'm in a really intense period of spiritual growth and learning. So much so that Super Soul Sundays have become a favorite for me.

When Paulo Coelho was the guest he discussed The Alchemist and it's 25th anniversary. The book had almost not been published, and then even when it was finally published it was not selling. So Coelho went door to door to hand-sell it and as the fates would have it, one of those doors would be the second publisher for the book. Coelho says it was the Universe doing what it does (when you allow it) for everyone, "conspiring to help us" achieve what we want once we make a decision.

There are omens, signs, etc to guide us on our paths. These are part of the language of the world. The language of the world is in everything, from the rhythm of the seasons to the energy of the animals and nature. And every one of us has a personal legend. Our personal legend is akin to our destiny, calling, or purpose in life.
These concepts seem simple, I know, and I can hear many people asking, "what the hell man?!" lol. I know this because I would have been one of those people not very long ago. But, as is probably self evident by my blog's title, my heart and mind have been cracked open by trauma and grief in the past and it's made me struggle to do even basic living sometimes. When grief strikes your life it has a way of swallowing you up and blocking out any light, any joy. For me, books were my one little piece of respite. It's the only thing I could do that came close to allowing escape of any circumstance.
Now many years later, I am finally reading about things I didn't understand before and learning how spirituality and religion are not the same things. I'm learning that it's possible to find myself at any age and never too late to pursue my personal legend as long as I'm alive. Hearing Oprah and Paulo discuss the book in depth at the same time as I've read the book did wonders for me. It helped me see beyond the simple story and through to what are the universal messages: the Universe is conspiring to help me, I am the Universe, YOU are the Universe, we are all star stuff.

This book was a personal copy.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Ick! Yuck! Eew! Our Gross American History

Ick! Yuck! Eew!: Our Gross American HistoryIck! Yuck! Eew!: Our Gross American History by Lois Miner Huey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Do you ever reminisce about the good old days? Ever wish you lived back then because it seems romantic and easier than today?
Do you wonder why bathrooms are still sometimes called powder rooms?

It's not because women "powder their noses" with cosmetics in them. It's because in the days when people wore wigs they had a separate room where they literally powdered their wigs white and the powder got everywhere. It was a messy, yucky process and the wigs often had lice in them. These are the kinds of fun tidbits you learn reading this book.

On page 20 they talk about flies being so plentiful and bothersome that people had to put out fly strips. But the dead ones would pile up and have to be swept up at least 4 times daily in the summer!

This reminded me of the 2 or 3 awful summers here in central Texas when weather made it good hatching conditions for insects and yucky black crickets were everywhere! They piled up like crazy outside of HEBs (our local grocery) because they were drawn by the parking lot lights. Their smell (yes they have a smell O_O) was disgusting, and so was trying to simply get to your car or inside the store without getting the nasty creatures hopping on you lol. So gross!
Ick! Yuck! Eew!

This is EXACTLY the kind of book I wanted to read as a kid. And as an adult, I thoroughly approve of the book making history relevant, more accurate, and not as sanitized as a Disney film. This should be required reading for kids in schools:)

This book was a library copy.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

In Real Life by Cory Doctorow

In Real LifeIn Real Life by Cory Doctorow
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I actually intended to post this review a looooooong time ago because I loved it so much and basically read it all in one sitting! That's huge for me because I rarely do that lol.

But time got away from me and I started the review but never finished writing it out, so now I'm rectifying that. I was actually reminded by the goodreads vote for best graphic novel of the year, and when I didn't see "In Real Life" there I wrote it in as my vote! Hope yall will consider doing the same:)

As for my thoughts on the book:
I first picked it based entirely on the cover alone. It's a beautifully done dichotomy of a girl. One side shows her "IRL" and the other is her gamer self, her avatar. I didn't know that when I first saw the cover, I was just attracted to the artwork and the interesting look of both girls in juxtaposition to one another. But I'm not a gamer, not even a little bit, so I'm sure other readers will have a better clue what the cover is showing.

It's the best feeling in the world when I go into a book cold, not knowing a thing about it and the story turns into something so enjoyable. Happily, that's my experience with In Real Life. It's actually a very quick read and the story flows easily through the dialogue text and illustrations. Never was I lost or confused, even though I went into it not knowing anything about the premise or even about gaming. So if I'm using any of the terminology incorrectly I apologize. Cory has an introduction that explains the concept though, and in it he explains how In Real Life is about games and economics, globalization and technology, and how it affects us all.

Thank You to First Second for the review copy via NetGalley.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Say "I love you". 好きっていいなよ。

Just saw an anime based on the manga Say "I love you". ( 好きっていいなよ。) and it was so sweet! I loved the relationship that develops between Mei and Yamato,  as well as the friendships and new connections with their classmates. 

I didn't much care for the English dubbing so I watched them in the original Japanese with subtitles instead. The opening song is beautiful!

The story is about a very shy girl named Mei that has given up on friendships because she was blamed and rejected by peers years ago. Still wanting to avoid bullying, Mei is now in high school and avoiding socialization. But Yamato, the most popular boy in school, notices her and finds her interesting and refreshing in her honesty and quirkiness. Ultimately, it's a cute romance and about learning to risk some hurts in order to find connection, love, and acceptance.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Star Child by Claire A. Nivola

Star ChildStar Child by Claire A. Nivola
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the cutest little picture book about life and how we come to earth that I've ever read. Religious stuff typically turns me off with all of its strictures and confines but lately spirituality in general has been of interest to me. Especially the idea of why we're here and how one might find a purpose or useful means of service to this planet.

This book simply answers those questions with a story of one little boy, referred to as Star Child. Star Child is a boy that was in the sky, far away from earth where he existed as a "flame of vapor". But he was mesmerized by earth and all it's brightness and strangeness. He yearned for a visit and to do so he had to be born as a human. Elders warned him that doing so would mean not just joy but also disappointment, not just pleasure but also fear, and not just wonder but also sadness. And in the midst of these confusions and delights he'd forget where he came from and probably become attached to earth but still have to leave eventually. Learning all this Star Child still chose to come, and when asked if he was glad to do so he answers "Yes."

Love the simplicity and wonder of it all.

                                                 This book was a personal copy.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Outlander (Outlander, #1)Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book has been on my to-read list a long time but what finally made me read it was a quick n crazy review by Taystee (to Poussey in the prison library) on OITNB! lol

Earlier this month I was marathoning Season 2 and then in the last episode this happened:
...And I'm like:
Hey! I have that book, still on my to-read list though...
Hmm…heard it's good but can't recall why I put it down?...
Ugh that's right, I'm not into time travel novels...
Jajajajaja! I gotta try reading this book again...
SOLD! thanks for the kick ass rec Taystee lol
Wtf?! jajajaja! Oh man, that's hilarious; I'm not big on "gingers"
either but I'm dying to give this book another shot now

And THAT is how Netflix and OITNB convinced me to try reading Outlander, stat. Now, I'm in love with a red haired highlander named Jamie, and can't get the story outta my head! I'm addicted to the series now and have already started book 2 and intend to consume the series back to back all this month. Well, maybe summer since they're really long books lol. But it's perfect timing because in August the Starz channel is premiering their new Outlander tv show and I'm just too damn excited about it all! lol

Here's the poster:

So if you're into historical fiction, romance, adventure sagas, or hot Scots in kilts then this is a MUST read. Be warned though, this is NOT a genre romance novel. It's much more like historical fiction with a passionate romance in it, elements of magic and fantasy, and intense gritty action and drama. This reads much more like Game of Thrones than it does romcom. But it's soooo worth it; promise.

This book was a personal copy.