The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko, Scott Stambach

The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenkospolier alert

Title: The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko

Author: Scott Stambach

Pages: 336

Genre: YA, Literary Fiction

Part of a series: No

Publish Date: August 9th, 2016


                First, I bow down before the powers that are Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press.  Words cannot express my gratitude for being able to get an advanced copy of this book to read.  It was hilarious, sometimes vulgar, sweet and heartbreakingly beautiful all wrapped up in the not-so-pretty bow that was Ivan Isaenko and Polina Pushkin.  This is the story of a young man in a hospital in Belarus who had been deformed at birth and lived in Mazyr Hpsoital for Gravely Ill Children.  When a leukemia patient comes in, Ivan is in no way ready for Polina Pushkin.  I warn you now, this is not the sweet fuzzy novel that First Love was, nor even the Fault In Our Stars.  Stop considering this book if you can’t take perverse humor, foul language or talk of illness.

                Ivan was born deformed.  He has stubs for legs, one hand and three fingers.  Mentally, he is brilliant- emotionally he is a bit of a gutter mouth and a jerk.  What is one supposed to do at a hospital all day every day for life?  Read copiously, study the other patients and terrorize the nurses of course.  At seventeen he is a bit of a pervert and far too enamored of his Hui.  There is only one in the whole hospital that he feels truly loves him- Nurse Natalya.  When Polina comes in with Leukemia, Ivan doesn’t know what to make of her.  She is interesting, beautiful and… perfect.  She doesn’t belong at this hospital surrounded by mutants.  As the two get to know one another and their bond grows stronger, something amazing happens.  As Polina wastes away, Ivan learns to care, give and love.  He learns to be braver, stronger and better.  After her passing, he begins to write her story- their story- so that she will never be forgotten.  The story is mainly about life- one in particular.  Ivan Isaenko’s- before, during, and after Polina. 

                So… let’s discuss what I loved.  The book was masterfully written, the characters colorful and interesting.  I loved how Ivan could bring me to tears one moment with the most heartbreaking or gorgeous thought, and then seamlessly make me spew coke out of my nose laughing.  In fact, I may or may not know how to be extremely vulgar in Russian now- or at least in writing because I doubt I would say it right.  I loved the musical and literary references, I loved the play with words.  There are so many little gems that I would love to quote, but as I have a copy that may be edited for publication I don’t dare.  I was so glad that Ivan had Natalya and Polina.  Can we also discuss how much I loved Nurse Natalya- far too maternal and giving.  She is the sneaker of comforts.  Books for Ivan, music for Polina, chocolate for another.  She is the perfect mother figure for this boy. 

                Now, what I didn’t like…. This is going to be short.  I wish I could have known more about the other patients.  Or about Ivan after Polina.  Or even more insight into Polina- though the way the author brings her forward is masterful.  I know, I know, the things I want would fill another book.  I suppose I am just not ready to let go.  All in all, Five Stars.  Honestly, I would add another simply because the book was so surprisingly unique. 

On the Adult Content Scale, due to heavy issues, drugs, sexual content, language and all around naughtiness I give it an eight.  I think it is meant to be for older teens to adults.   adult content road sign

This book comes out August 9th.  Read it, though maybe not at work… everyone thinks you’re crazy when you ball, then laugh, and keep reading.

Link to book:

Amazon Kindle

Amber pro_reader_120





What’s New Wednesday Week 9

What’s new with me?

IMG_20150825_133444.jpgMy cat Sassy Britches is either a genius or dumb as a box of rocks.  She has learned to hide and then start crying like she is sick/stuck.  This is apparently my husband’s cue to go around the house searching for her.  Once found he picks her up, calls her a “pretty kitty” and takes her to his desk chair where he gives her treats.  He calls it playing Marco Polo.  My cat has trained my husband to play hide and seek with her for a reward.  That said, she often dives under the covers and forgets how to get out.  This is also the cat that has nearly burned her whiskers off trying to get close to a candle (we don’t have those anymore) and singed her fur by wrapping herself against a portable heater (we also don’t have these anymore).  The icing on the cake, though, today she leapt onto our toilet (she liked sitting on the one in the guest bath because the lid is always down- ours is not).  When she discovers she is above water, she gives us a “I meant for this to happen” look and tries to make herself comfortable while contorting her body around the seat.  At one point she is stretched over the bowl trying to figure things out while I wait to save/ bathe her.  She figured it out, but it was hilarious.  That probably counts as my non bookish fact too- I own a really stupid (or smart) cat.

What’s new in the news?

  • LGBT friendly destinations: The New York Times has pieced together a list of locals that are safe and friendly.  While I disagree with the necessity, and worry that this may put a target on the establishments backs, I am glad that the story was written. Read full story here.

What’s new in Books:

The Invisible Life of Ivan IsaenkoThe Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko By Scott Stambach is coming out Auguest 9th.  Thanks to Netgalley I have received an advanced copy.  This boy was born deformed and left to spend his life at a hospital in Russia where he can do little more than be smart and terrorize everyone.  His life is upended by the admittance of a young woman that he doesn’t believe belongs there.  Polly is perfect- save for illness.  She doesn’t belong with what he considers the freaks.  He gorws to love Polly and losing her hits him hard.  This is the story of his life.  I am so excited to read it!

So that’s it for me, what’s new with you?



The Games, James Patterson and Mark Sullivan

the Gamesspolier alertTitle: The Games

Author: James Patterson, Mark Sullivan

Pages: 400

Genre: Mystery/ PI

Part of a Series: Yes, number 11.

Released: June 27th, 2016.

Rio is gearing up to host the Olympic Games.  So many are excited, and people from all over the world are coming in to see the games.  A new stadium has even been built!  While all this is going on there are groups of volunteers in the Favelas helping the poor.  Two volunteers are kidnapped amid gunfire that kills their Private bodyguards.  The twin girls are gone without a trace leaving Jack Morgan to make some phone calls.

When Private Investigations was hired not only to help with security for the games, but to keep an eye on the Wise twins.  Losing two heiresses is just about as bad as it gets right?  Wrong.  The parents come to Rio and the father is ordered to be the one to deliver ransom.  Everything goes smoothly, until it doesn’t.  Somehow Andy Wise gets kidnapped during the exchange.  A group calling themselves Favela Justice is taking credit for the kidnapping and using it to put him “on trial” for the “rape and persecution of Brazil’s poor through his company’s profiteering” (they were the company to sell much of what went into the stadium.

This is enough to make a story right?  Wrong, the Private series often has more than one competing storyline.  Enter a jaded doctor who had lost his family tragically.  The one who discovered a terrible disease two years ago and got hushed up because the politicians didn’t want it getting out.  For years he has been gearing up toward this moment, working on a strain of the same virus he discovered until it was much more deadly.  Once released, even the government will not be able to hush this up!  It’s so corrupt- only the rich getting help.

As Morgan and his lover/ head of Private Rio Tavia rush to put a stop to all of this lives will be lost and Private will change forever.

As I have said before, Private is not my favorite series.  It always seems to be a bit of a jumble to me.  I really felt like it was finding it’s footing with Private Paris… but this one was a step in the wrong direction for me.  I understand the need for Tavia the love interest…. and I agree that a good action suspense has a lot going on at one time…. but this got ridiculous.  It was choppy and disjointed in parts where others were predicable.  I fear this was not his best work.  Three Stars.

On the adult content scale, I would give it a five.  Sexual content, violence and language.  mature audience.

The book is out now, if you liked the rest of the Private series this one is very similar in type.

Link to Book:

Amazon Kindle





Top Ten Tuesday- Free Topic


Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  This week we are doing free form- basically we pick our topic.  I have decided to do ten things I wish I did/ ten things I wish were still  a thing.

  1. Book Buds: One of my coworkers was telling me last week about how they used to mail books between a group of friends.  This sounds awesome!  I always wanted a friend that I could do this with.  Pre-eBook, there were a few coworkers that I would share my books with but we never really talked about them.  What I envision is having a paper book that I have read and mailing it to one of my friends.  For instance, I just bought a great book at the discount book store; if it is as good as I think it will be I think By Hook or By Book would love it.  After reading I would send her the book with a little note.  Maybe I would even have my tabs still in there… I don’t know.  By Hook or By Book would do another review (I would have done one before sending… or maybe we would converse through email to have our reviews come out at the same time so it is more like a discussion.).  By Hook or By Book would then have the option to send it to someone else, donate it to her local library, or send it back to me with her notes.  (An aside to By Hook or By Book, I apologize for using you as an example.  You are actually one of the few I can see this working with.  With that in mind if you are interested, contact me!)  She would then send me a book.
  2. Book Clubs: Due to my odd schedule book clubs are hard for me, though I feel like I would love to do this.  I tried to on line ones, but they seemed so odd and often jumped topics.  It was hard to keep up, and rarely seemed to be about the book.  I feel like I would prefer one where everyone had so much time to read a book and met in person (or live chat) to discuss.
  3. Journaling: I have always felt the urge to start a journal, but never keep up with it.  Let’s face it, I am 30 odd years old with no children.  I am a cashier and a book nerd.  Not much happens in my life to write about.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my life and actually usually love my job as well…. It just isn’t something to write home about.
  4. Scrapbooking: See journaling for most of the reasons why this doesn’t work for me.  I love the idea of it though, and wish I were the type of person to do this.  I am not really crafty though.
  5. Ladies Night: I have several friends and family members in town that I would love to get together with for ladies night out.  I don’t mean picking up men, more like dinner- maybe a drink- movie or dancing type thing.  I am lazy though so this isn’t happening.  Hell, I would even love to go to someone’s house for popcorn and movie or pot luck meal ladies night.  You know, just hang.
  6. Letter writing: no emails, just getting nice paper or a blank card and writing someone.  I did this with my mother in California for a while, but I never got a letter back and well, began to feel like maybe they were an imposition.  Also, what does one write about when very little actually happens?
  7. Walks: Not running, or jogging… just walking through town.  I used to do this all the time (then I got a license, and lazy).  I would just grab my backpack and walk down Main Street or where ever, and go into stores that struck my fancy.  Or I would stop at a park and read.  You know, just meander around.

Well nuts… I can’t come up with anymore.  Sorry guys!  What are some things you guys wish you did?


A World Without You,

a world without youspolier alert

Title: A World Without You

Author:  Beth Revis

Pages: 384

Genre: YA

Part of a series? No

Release Date: July 19th, 2016

                I received an advanced copy of this book from First To Read.  I was so excited to read this book- the premise was just amazing!  It was to the point where I worried that the actual book would disappoint me… I had such high expectations.  If anything, the book exceeded them.  A World Without You blends reality and fiction with such a deft hand that there are times where you, who know the truth, begin to wonder.  It is deep and intricate, beautifully written… I’m gushing aren’t I?  My Apologies.

                Bo is a student at Brookshire Academy in Massachusetts.  It is special insofar as it breaks students into groups that will have their classes and therapy together.   Ryan is a narcissist, Harold is quiet-weak- and has difficulty interacting with people often found in the corner talking to himself.  Gwen is a pyromaniac with trust issues.  Then there’s Sofia… sunk into depression after the loss of her mother and sisters in a car accident.  Bo likes it here, feels more in control of himself, safer.  He falls for Sofia hard.

                When Sofia commits suicide Bo breaks.  There is a world of delusion where he has powers, they all do (which is why they need the special school, to help them learn to control their powers).  He can control time- or at least the past.  One day he takes Sofia back in time with him and loses her there.  He has to figure out how to get back there and save her!  But everyone at school is acting like she committed suicide.  As Bo tries to fix everything, things get worse.  He loses track of time- days, weeks.  Things come to light that make him realize that his reality, where he has powers and can have Sofia….well, it may not be the real reality.  When given the chance to keep his delusional state, to keep Sofia and his powers, or to join the real world which will he choose?  How can he move forward?

                I loved this book!  Each character was special and unique.  I especially loved Bo and Phobe.  Neither really know what to do with the other, having never been close.  Phoebe has always felt the need to be perfect- the good daughter, straight A student, well rounded and ready for college.  Her parents wouldn’t be able to handle two broken children.  The only thing that scares her is Bo- his issues and instability.  She doesn’t know how to help him, can’t control him.  That scares her.  Bo, on the other hand, always saw her as self-absorbed, never really caring about him.  For his part he never knew how to reach his sister that he always saw as this spinning, busy thing.  Their care for one another is touching in each of their parts, their worry and fear.  It pained me that they could not see it in one another. 

                There was nothing to dislike in this book- the story was told artfully and the cast of characters were perfection.  I often found myself lost in Bo’s fantasy.  Honestly I thought it was masterfully done.Five Stars

                On the adult content scale I give it a three.  There are some deep issues about depression, suicide and mental illness; but so long as that is understood ahead of time I would give this to a preteen without fear.  General.svg

                This book comes out 7-19-2016.  Go get it!

Link to Book:

Amazon Kindle


My dream of owning a library

When I was little I wanted a library. Books were magical to me, always.  They were so precious! I would dream of a home lined with book shelves so full they spilled to the floor. Beautiful hard back novels, paperbacks, cookbooks. I wanted large text books on literature and mythology, an encyclopedia set, and a dictionary and thesaurus. I am a bit hard on books, so they would be imperfect, well read…. the adult me would live in her own library!
Adult-me understands room constraints, fire hazards and the pain in the ass that is moving hundreds of books from home to home. She also has to cohabitate with a husband that also has a bunch of stuff. Thus due to limited space many of my paper books are in storage.
Have no fear, I still have my library. It just isn’t the one I dreamed of. Over the last decade I have amassed 700 ebooks through KOBO, Nook and Kindle. I love that I can have my stories so close. I adore that neither Warren nor I are breaking our backs moving these books. It is very nearly everything I dreamed of as a girl….
It saddens me,though, that I will never sit in a nice recliner and stare at the beauty of my amassed books, never touch the spine, inhale the scent. I will also never be able to easily share these books, unless I hand my friend my device. I can’t hand Aunt Janis my copy of I Shall Not Hate to read on her way to California. On the other hand I also won’t be rebuying my favorite book seven times over the years (I did that, before Ebooks…. Eva Luna by Isabel Allende. My eBook was my eighth copy of that book and only two were given to others. I would read it so often spines would snap and pages fall out.)
I do wish it were easier to share my library, but I am sane enough to realize that a digital library is the only way I can safely and sanely collect all the books I want.


*****UPDATE***** I forgot about my archived library from Nook.  There were roughly 500 books there, so the number is more like 1,200 books.  I thought that first number was low… On the plus side, I was apparently in a group lawsuit I forgot about and got back money from Apple, Barnes and Nobles and Kobo.  Let’s just say I have a good amount of book money to feed my addiction.


The Season, Jonah Lisa Dyer

the seasonspolier alert

Title: The Season

Author: Jonah Lisa Dyer

Pages:  326

Genre: YA, some romance.

Part of a series? No.

Publish Date: July 12th, 2016

I received an advanced copy of this book from First To Read for the price of an honest review.  Megan McKnight is the hard as nails soccer player.  She is a bit crass and eats too much, caring only for her history major, soccer, and her family.  When it is time to post the Blue Bonnet Debutantes for the year, her sister Julia is an obvious choice.  Smart and sweet, Julia is also gorgeous and loves all things girly- a perfect fit.  What doesn’t fit, is the other name in the list.  Hers. 

                When fighting her parents on this matter proves useless, she begins to see what this means to her parents.  She isn’t heartless after all… but she refuses to give up soccer.  How hard can it be to do both?  I mean the season is just some parties, right?

                Riding to orientation tea with her dress flying behind her and a tiara glued to her helmet might have been embarrassing enough, but she mistakes ultra-rich Andrew Gage as a hot valet.  So… not a great start.  Already late, she rips her dress and has to do quick repairs with a stapler.  As one can imagine, first impressions did not go well.  Told to back out at every turn, Megan only becomes more obstinate.  She can do this- it means something to her mother and father.  She will do this. 

                As the season progresses, Megan learns a lot from the classes and other debutantes plus those helping her.  She grows from a self-centered girl to a lady, always remembering what is important to her.  There are snags along the way, though.  Not only can Megan do well getting in her own way, but there is the guy she likes (two really, but the other one’s a jerk).  Hank seems great- sweet funny and really into her.  When he starts trying to help her parents sell the ranch land off to be built into houses, Megan is over the moon.  This is just what the family wanted.  But things aren’t always what they seem.  When Julia runs into a scandal and has to leave the debutantes, Megan is alone in a society that she never had any use for.  Andrew Gage goes from being smart and sweet to a jerk in moments, plus if what Hank says is true, he isn’t to be trusted.

                When everything comes tumbling down and Megan realizes that she has been used, can she salvage everything and remain a lady?  And is there still a prince waiting in the wings for this princess?

                So I loved this book.  I loved that there were so many times through the story where you could see the characters coming up with their opinions of one another- often erroneous.   I loved tough Megan and sweet Julia.  I really loved Anne.  The cast of characters here was just so amazing!  The story was interesting and well written.    I found it interesting to see the lengths that Megan went through to try to keep her worlds together.  Watching her grow was amazing.

                I did not like how some of the issues that seemed major just kind of got swept aside in an almost magical step.  Boom- the contract is gone.  Boom- Hank is gone.  Boom- the plans for the ranch are changed and everyone is happy.  She fought for endless paragraphs about a curtsey and these things get barely a paragraph?  Maybe it’s just me.  I did really like the book though, and give it four stars.  Four Stars

On the adult content scale, I give it a five.  There is some sexual content- done tastefully, language, violence and alcohol.  mature audience.  Teens, yes- but not thirteen… more like 17 and up?

This book comes out 07-12-2016.  I highly recommend it!

Link to book:

Amazon Kindle