Wednesday, October 29, 2014

(60) The Martian

Title: The Martian: A Novel by Andy Weir
Publisher: Random House
Pages: 385
Format: ebook
Genre: Sci fi / Fantasy/ high tech

I received this an e-copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for a fair review

Synopsis: Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars.

Now, he's sure he'll be the first person to die there.

After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive.

Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old "human error" are much more likely to kill him first.

But Mark isn't ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

Review: This was a tech heavy book.  I almost stopped reading it was so technical but I thought there may be hope if there was more to the story.  If you are into technical details of surviving on Mars, creating water from gas, and atmospheric pressures you will love how richly detailed this book is for those of us not so interested be prepared to skim or skip the book altogether because there is quit a bit of skimming to do.

Between the technicalities of surviving on Mars with not a lot of food and only 70's TV shows, Disco music and some English mysteries, there is the story of how the people on Earth try to figure out how to save Mark.  Of course the media turns Mark into a star, too bad he isn't there to witness it.  Meanwhile between just trying to survive, Mark plans for if he doesn't make it, writing letters to his parents, and his friends.

While interesting, I wouldn't call this a riveting read, unless you are a tech head and love all things space, for me the saving grace was Witney's sense of sarcastic humor which brought a nice distraction to the story.  It did get better the more I read which is the only reason I kept reading, plus I wanted to know if he got off Mars! (no I'm not saying) So if you are looking for something new or like space travel or enjoy technical stuff this book is for you, if not you may want to take a pass.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

(59) Beneath the Secrets (Tall Dark & Deadly Volume 3)

Title: Beneath The Secrets (Tall, Dark, and Deadly) (Volume 3) by Lisa Renee Jones
Publisher: Lisa R Jones
Format: ebook (kindle)
Pages: 224 pages
Genre: Romance

Synopsis:Two will paths collide. Two people who will do anything, including sleeping with the enemy, to avenge or save someone they love. But what if everything isn't as it seems and the enemy isn't the enemy at all? Can these two broken people drawn together by their sizzling hot attraction see beyond their pain and their need for vengeance Undoubtedly, they will face the ghosts of their pasts, but will those ghost destroy them or forever bind them?

Review: Blake is the broken brother. Shattered by the death of his finance by the cartel that he blames himself for. He has sworn that he will bring this cartel down and doesn't care if it brings him down too. With nothing to lose he hides his investigation from his brothers who he knows would stop him.  When trying to get in deeper with the cartel he winds up naked, drugged with his merchandise stolen by the woman who was supposed to be his contact. He finds himself facing her again only a few days after their last encounter, she is definitely more than she seems.

Another of the hot Walker men finds a woman who can crack the hard outer shell that they seem to have build up around themselves.  After breaking through this shell Blake finds himself facing not only his own insecurities and emotions but also the strong determined woman who won't allow him to sacrifice himself.

Another good edition to the Tall Dark & Deadly series. I like that the women are strong, determined and smart, not in any way weak or terrified shrinking violets. A fun quick, mind candy story.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Teaser Tuesday October 14

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
Grab your current read.
Open to a random page.
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page.
(make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My Teasers:

“She'd confessed her heartache to him, and he'd confessed absolutely nothing. He'd promised nothing, not even a desire to stay alive.”  -Beneath the Secrets (Tall, Dark & Deadly Vol 3 by Lisa Renee Jones 

Monday, October 13, 2014

(58) Dangerous Secrets (Tall, Dark & Deadly Series book 2)

Title: Dangerous Secrets (Tall, Dark, and Deadly) (Volume 2) by Lisa Renee Jones
Publisher: Lisa R. Jones
Format: e-book
Pages: 228
Genre: Romance

Synopsis: Being a divorce attorney for the rich and famous isn't all it's cracked up to be. Julie Harrison has learned that love doesn't last, and she's sworn never to make the same mistakes as her mother, or her clients. She uses the games men play to keep them at a distance. The only man who managed to break down her walls was Luke Walker, a Navy SEAL who loved her and left her, and changed her forever

Review: The Walker brothers are sexy, gorgeous and deadly.  Julie is on her way to her best friends wedding to one of these sexy men when she runs into the brother who broke her heart.  What she doesn't realize is that she touch his too but he had no choice when he left the first time and he doesn't intend on letting her go this time around.

Julie finds herself tangled within a stolen art ring that is funded by a Canadian cartel.  Luke is not going to let anything happen to her but battling her nerves and battling her growing emotions for Luke may prove too much for Julie.

Well written romance, with a good mystery attached.  I'm liking these Walker boys, can't wait to read the next one.

Friday, October 10, 2014

(57) Cage of Bones

Title: Cage of Bones: A Novel by Tania Carver
Publisher: Pegasus
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 288
Genre: Mystery/ Thriller

Synopsis: An abandoned building. A dank cellar. And inside it, a cage of bones—with a shocking surprise lurking within. Carver's new thriller will scare the daylights out of you.

Into the house. Down the stairs. Through the dripping dark of the cellar. Someone is there. Someone that shouldn't be there. As a building awaits demolition, a horrifying discovery is made inside the basement: a cage made of human bones—with a terrified, feral child lurking within.

Unbeknownst to Detective Inspector Phil Brennan and psychologist Marina Esposito, they have disturbed a killer who has been operating undetected for thirty years. A killer who wants that boy back. But the cage of bones is also a box of secrets—secrets linking Brennan to the madman in their midst. With the death toll rising and the city reeling in terror, Brennan and Marina race to expose a predator more soullessly evil than any they've ever faced—and one who is hiding in plain sight.

Review: These books are just downright scary.  They remind me of when I first started reading the author Jeffrey Deaver, and how horrifyingly realistic some of his murder plots were.  The fact that they were so random terrified me, and while these murders were not so random its so crazy and gruesome I could see it actually happening.  I don't know what that says about me and my imagination but these books freak me out but I also can't put them down!

Tania Carver knows how to set the stage and make you squirm.  Some of her descriptions may be a bit graphic for some people but she always manages to surprise me.  Normally I can figure out mystery novels and who did what when but her stories are a bit more complex and while I may have an idea of where her stories are headed there is usually a surprise twist.  If you like scary you will like Tania Carver.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

(56) End of Your Life Book Club

Title: The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe
Publisher: Random House
Pages: 354
Genre: Biographies
Format: Audio Book
Narrated by: Jeff Harding
Length: 9 hrs and 40 mins

Synopsis:“What are you reading?”

That’s the question Will Schwalbe asks his mother, Mary Anne, as they sit in the waiting room of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. In 2007, Mary Anne returned from a humanitarian trip to Pakistan and Afghanistan suffering from what her doctors believed was a rare type of hepatitis. Months later she was diagnosed with a form of advanced pancreatic cancer, which is almost always fatal, often in six months or less.

This is the inspiring true story of a son and his mother, who start a “book club” that brings them together as her life comes to a close. Over the next two years, Will and Mary Anne carry on conversations that are both wide-ranging and deeply personal, prompted by an eclectic array of books and a shared passion for reading. Their list jumps from classic to popular, from poetry to mysteries, from fantastic to spiritual. The issues they discuss include questions of faith and courage as well as everyday topics such as expressing gratitude and learning to listen. Throughout, they are constantly reminded of the power of books to comfort us, astonish us, teach us, and tell us what we need to do with our lives and in the world. Reading isn’t the opposite of doing; it’s the opposite of dying.

Will and Mary Anne share their hopes and concerns with each other—and rediscover their lives—through their favorite books. When they read, they aren’t a sick person and a well person, but a mother and a son taking a journey together.

Review: Having a sick and dying parent is difficult for most but Will Schwalbe found a way to take the short time they had left together and made it count. Will and his mom used their love of reading as bridges to conversations that they may not every have had. Throughout the book are synopsis and descriptions of various other books that they read together and now I have books to add to my TBR list.

This book isn't just about reading though, its about relationships, its about whats important in your life, taking stock and ultimately its about dying.  Its about what its like to be the son of woman who is going through stage 4 cancer, its about coming to grips with the thought of losing a parent, and looking at your own life and figuring out if it is what you really want and what changes you can make to make it better. Its about living in the moment and not wasting opportunities. Its also a beautiful account of his mothers life and her passions for helping others and her dedication to refugees.

Will and his mom found a way to share meaningful conversations and learn more about each other through books and the topics those books brought up.  It made me pause and wonder about the conversations I have with my mother which are usually more superficial or have something to do with work.  It made me pause and think if there was anything I would want to talk to her about or learn about before its too late. Maybe it will make you pause and take stock a bit too.

Monday, October 6, 2014

(55) Hexed (Iron Druid Chronicles)

Title: Hexed (Iron Druid Chronicles) by Kevin Hearne
Publisher: Del Rey
Pages: 320
Platform: Paperback
Genre: Fantasy

Synopsis: Atticus O’Sullivan, last of the Druids, doesn’t care much for witches. Still, he’s about to make nice with the local coven by signing a mutually beneficial nonaggression treaty—when suddenly the witch population in modern-day Tempe, Arizona, quadruples overnight. And the new girls are not just bad, they’re badasses with a dark history on the German side of World War II.

With a fallen angel feasting on local high school students, a horde of Bacchants blowing in from Vegas with their special brand of deadly decadence, and a dangerously sexy Celtic goddess of fire vying for his attention, Atticus is having trouble scheduling the witch hunt. But aided by his magical sword, his neighbor’s rocket-propelled grenade launcher, and his vampire attorney, Atticus is ready to sweep the town and show the witchy women they picked the wrong Druid to hex.

Review: Book 2 in the Iron Druid series.  I love Atticus and his dog Oberan. I particularly love the dog who loves to watch movies and live in character - right now he is all about the 60-70's and "sticking it to the man". All the characters in the book are great.  The whole book just waffles back and forth between serious and outright funny.  Atticus may be centuries old but he has learned how to fit into modern day and tries to fly under the radar but its getting harder after killing a God.  Now it seems everyone is either scared of him or trying to take him out, not to mention he seems to be caught in a fight between two Godesses both who seem to want a piece of him (literally). Since his cover of being a stupid geeky book store owner is slowly being carved away by incidents beyond his control he now finds himself being more himself, which can be dangerous.  He can sometimes be found wandering the streets naked, riding around town with a sword strapped to his back and turning into different animals to help him escape different situations. So far this series hasn't disappointed and it just seems to be getting better. Can't wait to see what is in store for the druid and his friends next time.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Booking Through Thursdays

Booking Through Thursday is a weekly meme about (mostly) books and reading.

What do you read when you’re sick and just want something easy and comforting? Or do you watch TV instead?(Assuming you’re not napping, of course.)
When I'm too sick I find it difficult to focus on a book no matter how much I would like to.  I tend to watch tv or movies or sleep.  I can actually tell that I'm getting better when I am able to pick up a book and focus on it for more than 5 minutes. 
What about you? 

(54) Megan's Birthday Tree

Title: Megan's Birthday Tree: A Story about Open Adoption by Laurie Lears
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company
Platform: ebook
Pages: 19
Genre: children / adoption / open adoption

Synopsis: Megan is adopted, but she and her parents keep in touch with her birth mother, Kendra. Every year, Kendra decorates the tree she planted when Megan was born and takes a picture of it to send to Megan. Megan cherishes this Birthday Tree, for it ties her and Kendra together. But one day Kendra writes that she is getting married and moving to a different town. Will she forget Megan, without the tree to remind her?

Review: Many adoptee's wonder about their adoption, their past, their birth parents and why they were placed for adoption.  Open adoption helps to answer those questions for families and adopted children by giving them access to their birth parents.  In this story Megan loves looking through the letters she gets from her birth mother and gets excited when she receives a picture every year of her birth mother standing next to a tree she planted when Megan was born.  Megan loves to see the tree grow.  When she learns her birth mother is moving she is scared that her birth mother will forget her.

This story is sweet and honest.  The fears that Megan shares are real and they are handled very well in this story.  In the end Megan's birth mother assures her that she could never forget her that she is very important to her.  Then she shows her that she had dug up the birthday tree to take it to her new home.  This book shows how important open adoption can be to help eliminate children's fears and answer their questions. Nice story that fills the gap in adoption books - this is one of the only ones that really deals with open adoption written for children. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

(53) Family Medical History: Unknown/Adopted

Title: Family Medical History: Unknown/Adopted: How a Routine Inquiry Led to Unexpected Answers for an Adopted Woman by Nancy Kacirek & Rebecca Crofoot
Publisher: Becknan Books
Pages: 182  pages
Genre: Adoption

Synopsis:Knowing where you came from often determines Who you are…
At the age of 45, Nancy Feldman knew how her doctor appointment would go. They would ask her about her family’s health history, and she would hear the doctor’s familiar sigh after she answered, “I don’t know, I’m adopted.” Being perfectly happy with the loving family she had, Feldman never took an interest in finding her biological parents until diagnosed with a disease that she passed on to her son. Suddenly, Nancy’s lack of family history was affecting someone else. Nancy wrote a letter to the Nebraska Children’s Home Society for help, and the adoption agency assigned her case to Rebecca Crofoot. This began a 17-year journey between the two women who were determined to find information about a family that might not know, or want to know, Nancy existed.

Review: Many adult adoptees know the pain of not knowing their family medical history and the awkward conversations that can be had at doctors offices when trying to explain that they were adopted.  In fact medical history is a big reason why many adoptees search for their birth parents.

While this is not a particularly well written book it does describe the process and the roller coaster of emotions that are involved with searching for your roots. Nancy tells most of the story from her perspective through narrative, letters, and emails.  Becky, the social worker for the agency that Nancy was adopted through helps fill in some of the legal gaps and letting readers know what is normal and expected along the way.  I thought this book was very well balanced and honest.
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