Posted in Book Reviews, Uncategorized

The Library of Fate, Adita Khorana

The library of fates

Title: The Library of Fates

Author: Aditi Khorana

Pages: 354

Genre: YA, romance, adventure

Is this part of a series?  No.

Published: July 18, 2017

            It is said that everyone has a book where their whole life is listed.  If you can Find the Library of All Things, and get the guardian to let you in, you can change your fate.  After seeing her father die and losing her home, Princess Amrita is on a mission with a young seer Thala to do that.  Armed with an old map that had been left for her, and a jeweled dagger, they set off toward the temple of Maya. 

            Secrets come to light as Amrita discovers who she realy is and what she is capable of.

          I was lucky enough to receive an eARC of this book from First to Read in exchange for an honest review.  My thanks.  To start, can we talk about the cover.  I just love it!  In fact, it may have been 60% of why I picked this one.  I loved the way they wove lore into the story, and the strength of the characters.  I liked that each one was flawed- there was no “perfect hero”, and that each character had some growth through the book.  The beginning dragged for me a tiny bit, but it quickly found it’s stride, and the last half the book went very quickly for me.  Besides the pacing of the beginning of the book, my only other issue was the sort-of-not-really love triangle.  It made sense toward the last third of the book, but was it necessary?  Why do we always have a love triangle?  That aside, this was still a four star book for me.

Three Stars 

          As far as the adult content goes, there is some violence, substance abuse, and language- very moderate on most fronts.  I will be getting a copy for my niece, so I give this one a three.

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The book came out today!  Get ye to the book store!

Link to book:

Amazon

Amber

 

 

 

Posted in weekly wrap-up

Weekly Wrap-up! July 9th-16th

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Personal life:

Hey guys!  Ugh, it has been a week and a half from Hell.  I got the normal monthly ick with the violently ill thing my body likes to do….. for ten days.  I didn’t really blog.  I didn’t go for my walks.  The gym didn’t happen.  What did I do?  Gain two pounds.  I am getting back into the swing of things.  I took a two mile walk today, and went to the gym and walked yesterday.  While the gym will never be somewhere I am excited to go, I know I need to.  It is an important aspect of the healthier living lifestyle I am working towards.  So, no more excuses!  I need to walk and go to the gym.  I really need to work on my arms.

Warren is doing great on his plan, mostly because he does a lot more manual labor than I do (building the shed, pouring concrete, and apparently walking way more than I do at work).  I am both super proud and envious at the same time lol.

Bookish life:

I finished The Library of Fates, which I loved and will review tonight.  It was a great book!  I am now on The Library of Light and Shadow, but I am having trouble getting into it.  Sadly I am not finishing this book before it comes out tomorrow.  On a side note, I am pretty sure I chose both these books largely on the cover art.

Amber

Posted in Book Reviews, Uncategorized

The Confusion of Languages, Siobhan Fallon

the confusion of LanguagesTitle: The Confusion of Languages

Author: Siobhan Fallon

Pages: 336

Genre: contemporary fiction

Is this part of a series? No

Published?  June 27th, 2017

I received an eARC of this book from First to Read.  My Thanks.

Two very different women follow their soldier husbands to Jordan.  After two years, Cassie knows how to follow the rules, what’s expected.  Margaret sees a chance to explore… and nothing else.  When a fender bender sends Margaret to the police station, Cassie is left with her son in their apartment.  As the hours go by, Cassie is getting more and more nervous.  Finding Margaret’s journal,  Cassie discovers a world she never knew.

I loved this book.  I enjoyed Cassie’s narrative, even if it was jaded at times by her troubles in her marriage.  I thought that allowing Margaret a voice in the form of her journal was ingenious and added a lot to the story.  The misunderstandings between husband and wives, and between the two friends, was painful to watch at times.  It reminds me that our own feelings very much color every interaction we have.    The story stalled in parts a bit, for me, and that made the writing a bit more choppy than I like.  Over all I would give this book a three.  Three Stars

On the adult content scale, I give it a five.  There is a lot of language, and sexual content.  I don’t think my niece would be interested in it… but I wouldn’t feel comfortable letting her read it.  mature audience.

The book is out!  Have you read it?

Link to book:

Amazon

Amber

 

Posted in Book Reviews, Uncategorized

The Windfall, Diksha Basu

the windfallTitle: The Windfall

Author: Diksha Basu

Pages: 304

Genre: contemporary fiction, cultural

Is this book part of a series?  No.

Published June 27th, 2017

I was given an eARC of this book from First To Read in exchange for an honest review.  My thanks.

What is it like to be noveu rich in modern India?  One family finds out first hand when Mr. Jha makes the business deal of a life time.  No more cramped spaces and gossipy neighbors, no more cutting corners and worrying about money.  Mr.  Jha is ready to live the good life- better house, good car, the works.  Mrs. Jha is more subdued, liking her life but also hoping for some nice things- a better kitchen, help, and a better life for their son Rupak.  Rupak, for himself, is enjoying his new life as a business student in America with money to spend a bit too much.  He’s having so much fun he isn’t passing!

As we watch the family move through the ins and outs of socials casts here, you learn a lot about India and about each character’s dreams and ambitions.  How much is too much?  How far must one go to “keep up” with the neighbors?  This is a light weight social satire about the precarious balance of social status and being true to yourself.

Personally, while I felt like the writing was a bit choppy in parts, I loved this book.  I enjoyed that I got to see several points of view- all the Jhas and some neighbors.  I feel like that added something really great to the story.  While Mr.  Jha could have turned into a caricature a few times, we stayed clear of that to my mind.  Yes, he feels in competition with everyone to prove that he’s made it- that he’s won, but he has his reasons.  He wants more for his family, he wants that respect, and it slays him that his mother never saw him succeed like this.  There is a sweetness and love behind the mania that made me love him even as he went to extreme lengths.

I feel that Rupak was very relatable, every kid let loose for the first time stretches their wings a bit… sometimes too far.  This is the time where we learn who we are and what we really want, and yet deeply ingrained is the desire to also please our family.  Even more so, it seems, in Indian culture.  It was interesting to see him slowly devolve and then remake himself.  For me, this was a five star book.  Five Stars

On the adult content scale, there is some sexual content, drug use and language.  None are extreme, but be advised.  I would still let my teen niece read this.  I give it a four.  Parental Guidance

The book is out now!  Have you read it?

Link to book:

Amazon

Amber

 

Posted in Uncategorized, weekly wrap-up

Weekly Wrap-up! June 27th- July 4th

Personal life:

     Happy fourth of July guys!  I am a little late on my wrap up this week.  It’s been hectic.  Warren is working hard on getting a storage shed set up (he says it’s for me, so that I can get some of this stuff out of my house… but seriously, this is so that I don’t toss his three bikes- one of which will be made into a pedal-assist bicycle.  He’s talked about this for years… who knew this would be the pipe dream to happen?)  He and Dad got the old concrete out back leveled up with a whole lot of new, and it looks great.  We have ordered the shed from Home Depot and then the fun begins.

My sister Mei and her husband Scott are in town this week, and I will see them tonight after work.  I am really excited!  I love O’hana days.  Now I will admit, I hate fireworks.  They’re gorgeous, yes, but they are loud and can be dangerous (especially when drinking is involved).  I have seen too many idiots that I wouldn’t trust with a zippo lighting huge fireworks.  Plus, around my place it lasted until the 10th last year.  Every night until about one or two in the morning.  Anyway…. Rant ended.

I went to the nearby park today for a short walk in between rain showers.  It was nice and everything worked out fine.  When I got into the car to drive to work, though, my brakes failed before the first turn away from the house.  I drove slowly around the block to be sure I was right, and then called Warren.  My brake line snapped, we think.  I was able to park safely because I slowed down so much, but he was not amused.  Apparently I should have just used the e-brake wherever I was when I first noticed and called him.  (So, boys and girls that is apparently what we do- pull over immediately.  Call for help.)  I doubt my husband’s mechanic will be open today, but we’ll get it taken care of.  Until then, we still have Dad’s non-descript white van (you know those work vans you see everywhere covered in logos?  That’s Dad’s new van-minus logos.  I swear I want to spray paint “free candy” on the side.  It’s an awful joke, but it was my first thought upon seeing this monstrosity).  I may get Dad to let me drive it for a bit.

Bookish life:

I finished The Windfall this week and loved it.  I am on The confusion of Language now.  I still haven’t figured out how to incorporate more reading time into my new lifestyle.  It is really weird for me because before I was reading like 13-15 books a month- it was my life.  Now I might read an hour or two a day tops.  In the evening I find that I am having more trouble concentrating on books.  I’ll get my groove back, I just hope everyone bears with me until then.

Happy Fourth of July guys!  Be safe and have fun!

 

AmberFireworks4_amk

Posted in bookish rambles

Where is the love?

Over the last few days I have been seeing a lot of people talk about the best books of the year so far- both in YA and adult categories.  While I thought long and hard about doing this as well (and still might), it got me thinking about some of the books that I have loved in the past- I mean went fan-girl bananas for-but haven’t seen much chatter about.  So I present to you my list of hype worthy books that never got the hype they deserved.

  1. I Shall Not Hate, Izzeldin Abuelaish.  This book is one of the most inspiring that I have ever read.  Izzeldin was a doctor working in hospitals on both sides of the Gaza Strip.  In this book he is very candid about the war, prejudices, his treatment on both sides, and the loss of his daughters who were killed.  I still tear up when I talk about it.  I cannot imagine having something like this happen, but what really floored me is his reaction.  It would be easy to lay blame, become hardened, hurtful…. instead he is still an advocate for peace.  He did not let this tragedy destroy him, or his remaining family.  He chose not to hate, and instead insist upon peace, love, and understanding.
  2. Eva Luna, Isabel Allende.  This has long been my favorite book.  With a touch of magical realism and a flare for words Allende brings to life this intriguing woman.  We follow Eva as she tells us the story of her life, loves, and discoveries.  The characters are unique and charming, and the world she built in the jungle is so real that on cold nights I open up that book just to feel the humid heat.  How does this book not have a fandom?!?
  3. Kids of Appetite, David Arnold.   This was definitely a YA fave from last year.  We open to Vic and Mad stalling for time, each in their own interrogation room (seriously, what an opening)!  As he attempted to fulfill his father’s last wish, Vic is engulfed in a group of street kids.  Having a birth defect, he had never been able to really interact with people easily, but Mad, Baz, Zuz and Coco take him into their little family and life changes for all of them.  I don’t want to go too far into it, you can read my review here.  All I am going to say, is that this book needs hype.  Everyone should read it!  I loved it and am still mildly obsessed with it.
  4. A Taste For Monsters, Matthew J Kirby.  Another favorite from last year, this book blew me away.  Evelyn Fallows is a down on her luck young woman who had been disfigured badly in her previous job.  As a madman called Leather Apron is terrorizing London, Evelyn finds safety in a hospital as a probationer.  She looks after John Merrick, also known as the Elephant Man.  As the two get close, she notices that Merrick is visited by ghosts- Leather Apron’s victims- looking for closure.  Kindhearted man that he is, he wants to help and give comfort, but it is taking a toll on him.  To protect her new friend, can Evelyn find the strength to find the answers herself?   Seriously guys, this book is fantastic and I just didn’t find that many reviews on it.  How are we not talking about this book still- and always?
  5. Passenger, Alexandra Bracken.  I guess there were a lot of books from last year that I am still obsessed with.  On the night of her big performance, Etta learns a secret.  Her family can jump through time!  Practically kidnapped and thrown back in time, Etta tries to come to terms with this new reality and discover who is friend and foe.  With an amazing caste of characters and gorgeous world building I feel like this deserves at least Hunger Games level hype.  The sequel, Wayfarer, was even better, allowing for some fantastic character development.
  6. Learning to Swear in America, Katie Kennedy.  An end-of-the-world novel where our hero is a socially awkward teen genius from Russia who is just now learning the ins and outs of dating and human interaction.  Yuri and his friends were fantastic, well developed characters that you loved to death.  The book was both hilarious and heartfelt.  I remember seeing it reviewed here on WordPress and thinking…. I have to have this.  It took me over completely.  I am still waiting for I<3 Yuri shirts and memorabilia.
  7. The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko, Scott Stombach.  All his life (seventeen years), Ivan has lived the a Belarus hospital for Gravely Ill Children where he spices up the day to day hum drum by manipulating everyone around him.  He is a brash potty mouthed little demon that is both hilarious and annoying, often getting the better of his nurses.  Then Polina shows up.  While she is, indeed, terminally ill, there is such a life force to her that Ivan knows she doesn’t belong.  As the two get to know one another they both grow as people, maturing before our eyes.  The personal growth I saw in Ivan was mind blowing.  This was just a really great read- and I may or may not know how to call someone a “beef whistle” in Russian.  Seriously, lets get some merchandise out for this one.  I would totally wear that shirt!
  8. The Eagle Tree, Ned Hayes.  I have to say, this is one of the most unique narrators I have ever read.  March Wong is autistic, and has a lot of trouble being understood.  His obsession of trees, and climbing them, has landed him in some hot water in the past and with the threat of having him taken away, his mother is trying to curb that.  It is his love of trees, though, that allows him to find his calling and branch out, allowing others into his world.  I felt like Hayes did an exceptional job with this book, making March the hero of his own story and bringing the struggle that people with autism and their loved ones go through.  March needs a fan club.
  9. Love in Lowercase, Francesc Miralles.  Samuel is a loner.  A linguist and a genius, he never did learn how to interact with others and has no one in his life.  When Mishima, a stray cat, arrives at his apartment and refuses to leave, Samuel is forced out of his comfort zone and into an intriguing world with unforgettable characters.  Again, where is the merchandise?!?!  Where are the Samuel/ Mishima fan clubs?
  10. Invisible, Shari Shattuck.  Ellen is severely overweight and self conscious.  She has learned to make herself so unnoticed as to be invisible.  Having lived her adult life hoping never to be seen, Ellen isn’t ready for the moment when everything changes.  Coming off the bus, Ellen notices a young blind woman being robbed and rushes in without thinking.  Temerity doesn’t care what Ellen looks like, only that Ellen was there.  She takes her new friend in hand and with the help of her brother Justice starts giving Ellen the things she needs for a better life- basic nutritional education and a whole lot of confidence.

I may love this one best because it has such a great message.  No one made Ellen change her life- there was no boy that would fall for her if only…. instead this is about a woman not only beginning to learn how to love and take care of herself, but a testament to the power of friendship and encouragement.  Sometimes I think Ellen has partially inspired my own drive to become healthier.  Both she and Temerity need fan clubs.

Of course, I could name a hundred others… but you get the point.  Which books do you think did not get the hype they deserved?  And what are you still obsessed with?

Amber

Posted in Book Reviews, Uncategorized

Believe Me, Eddie Izzard

believe meTitle: Believe Me: a memoir of love, death, and jazz chickens.

Author: Eddie Izzard

Pages: 368

Genre: auto biography, nonfiction

Is this part of a series?  No.

Published: June 13th, 2017

             I received an Arc of this book from First to Read in exchange for an honest review.  My apologies for being late.

Eddie Izzard is a hilarious British stand-up comic ( “cake or death?”).  I have always enjoyed his stream-of-conscious comedy and respected him for being “out” as a transvestite at a time when it was very hard.  We say Transgender now, but I don’t know if that completely covers it- he feels both masculine and feminine and refers to himself often in the book as an “action transvestite”, loving sports and GI Joe and girls…. and sometimes their skirts and makeup.

Reading this book gave me a new respect for Izzard as an individual and a professional.  Loosing his mother at a young age to cancer, Eddie and his brother then went to boarding school- not the easiest thing for anyone, especially a grieving boy with confusing feelings about himself.  We face the drama of puberty, flirting, self discovery, and hacking one’s way into the comeday set (street performing, the London circuit, tours, America and acting); all the while trying to make it so that his sexuality is not the only thing he’s known for.  It is sad, honest, and often hilarious as Izzard bears all to let us into his world.

This is a five star book for me.  Five Stars  In fact, I loved it so much I bought it so that I could check the printed version and give quotes.  I loved the flow of the book- a tiny bit choppy and out there as if you are just sitting listening to him talk.  He speaks here much like he does in his stand-up (and, indeed some of my favorite zingers here were one show or another).  As someone with a transgender person close to me, knowing what they have been through even now, it was nice to hear Izzard’s take.

As far as the Adult Content Scale, it was maybe a three.  There is a great amount of language, but not much else.  General.svg

Now, for the quotes:

(On having the confidence to ask a girl out)  If you don’t have the confidence to walk out the door and say, “Hey, who wants to have a relationship with me?  I’m a teenage guy with no real experience or confidence!  But it’s going to be fun,” then it’s just not going to happen.

(How he came out as trans during one of his routines)  I had one joke about being TV that I had been carrying around for about four or five years.  It was this:  “If you’re a comedian, it’s good to have something to rail against.  So if you’re from the working class background, you can say ‘Oh, the rich people!  They’re always in control.’ If you’re a woman  you can say “oh, men!  They’re always getting paid more!’ If you’re from an ethnic background, you can say, ‘Oh, white people.  They’re always making it hard for every ethnic group.’ But if you’re a white, male, middle class, stand-up, you have no one to rail against.  So thank god I’m a transvestite!” …. When I finally told the joke it got a laugh, but people didn’t actually believe that I was a transvestite.  They thought I was joking!

(On his choice to go in “girl mode” sometimes).  …How I dress and what I look like is not a character.  It’s me.  I’m just talking.  And sometimes I just happen to be wearing lipstick.

(On his constant drive to push himself) Most of us think that while we are here on earth if we eat cake and watch television, that’s fine.  That’s what we’re supposed to do.  But that’s now what our bodies are built for.  I believe we can all do more than we think we can do.

(His outlook on our differences) …If you look at what makes us all similar instead of looking to find what makes us different, you’ll see that there is one thing that is the same for all of humanity: And that is love.

……..We are all worth fighting for.  Running and hiding and separating, building walls, hating the Muslims, hating the Jews, hating immigrants-none of this builds a better world.  The twenty-first century is a key century for us on this planet.  Either we make a world, where all seven billion people have a fair chance in this century-or forget it.  I don’t think we are going to make it as a species.  Despair is the fuel of terrorism and hope is the fuel of civilization, so we have to put more hope into the world than despair.  Hatred and separation and building walls is not the way to progress.

….Some people say I am a nonbeliever.  But I am a believer; I believe in humanity.  I believe in people.  I believe in our ability to make the world a better, more compassionate, and more civilized place.

Link to book:

Amazon

Amber