spindle

Spindle

The second in a series by E. K. Johnston, Spindle is a re-telling of the tale of Sleeping Beauty. A demon has cursed The Little Rose and is biding its time until it can take control of her and her kingdom once she has wed. The curse has affected the everyone in her lands but especially the spinners who fall ill if they spin and face compulsions to do so as a result most spinners have left the kingdom in search of a new land where they can continue their trade. When the children of spinners set off to find a place where they can earn a living in their trade, they have a sudden change of plans and decide to try to break the curse themselves.
This book is has it all, intrigue, adventure, magic, friendship, loyalty and love. Both books in this series are outstanding reads and I highly recommend them both.

index

The Girl From the Train

Irma Joubert’s novel The Girl from the Train is the story of Gretchen Schmidt who is pushed from the train by her grandmother as they on their way to Auschwitz. It is also the story of Jacob Kowalski who finds the little orphan girl and takes her home to care for her until war’s end. After the war, Jacob can no longer take care of her and decides that the best thing to do is to drop an unwilling Gretchen off at an orphanage in Germany. Joubert delves into the lives of German war orphans who are adopted  by South African German families known as Afrikaners.  Gretchen is given a new name and anew identity with a safe and loving family, but she never forgets Jacob until the day fate brings them together once more.

Joubert’s book is well-written and well-researched, but it does drag just a little bit. However her characters are colorful and realistic and the circumstances in Gretchen’s life are based on the real lives of children sent far from home to live in a strange, new land among strange. new people. She rediscovers a small piece of history that has been nearly forgotten for over 70 years.

Things Too Huge

Things Too Huge to Fix by Saying Sorry

What do you do when your best friend and childhood crush has been instructed by his family to no longer speak to you? In 8th grade, in modern Mississippi, Dani finds herself in the middle of a humiliating experience that has evolved out of decades of sour race relations, old wounds, and mysteries. Dani, granddaughter of renowned Civil Rights historian, Ruth Beans, is well aware of how misunderstandings and blind hatred can impact life, even in the enlightened 21st century. She also knows that the surface does not need much scratching before darker events are exposed.

In 1962, the University of Mississippi desegregated and allowed the first black student to enroll.  It was not a peaceful integration. Thousands turned out to protest, and military protection was required for escorting the young, black student to campus. Despite intervention from the U.S. Army, many were wounded and two were killed. These events really happened. Author Susan Vaught reaches into the past and places these experiences at the heart of her novel, Things Too Huge to Fix by Saying Sorry. Vaught wraps the tragic episode in a tale revolving around friends and enemies spanning different races and generations.  In Vaught’s historical fiction, Dani’s African- American grandmother, Ruth Beans, and her best friend, the best-selling, white author Avadelle Richardson were both there the night that a churning sea of hate finally broke loose on the campus of Ole Miss. In the midst of chaos that night, something happened which would end their friendship, yet never be spoken about.

Over forty years later, the rift between Ruth’s and Avadelle’s family still has the strength to poison the friendships of a younger generation. As Dani’s grandmother is dying from Alzheimer’s, she reaches out to Dani to help solve the mystery of what, exactly, happened on the campus of Ole Miss during a night of burning hatred and hope. Dani is given a key and a whisper from her grandmother, and then begins a race to answer questions. Not knowing whether her actions will bring peace or more pain, Dani only knows that she must find the truth of what really happened.

Susan Vaught has written a novel ostensibly for children and young adults. However, the issues she explores so delicately, yet probingly, in Things Too Huge to Fix by Saying Sorry are worthy of any age group’s interest.  With a plot that will keep the reader up too late at night and leave questions lingering the next day, Vaught has written a beautiful tribute to friendship and growth while teaching everyone a little more history.

17305016

Dreamer’s Pool (Blackthorn and Grim #1)

In exchange for help escaping her long and wrongful imprisonment, embittered magical healer Blackthorn has vowed to set aside her bid for vengeance against the man who destroyed all that she once held dear. Followed by a former prison mate, a silent hulk of a man named Grim, she travels north to Dalriada. There she’ll live on the fringe of a mysterious forest, duty bound for seven years to assist anyone who asks for her help.

Oran, crown prince of Dalriada, has waited anxiously for the arrival of his future bride, Lady Flidais. He knows her only from a portrait and sweetly poetic correspondence that have convinced him Flidais is his destined true love. But Oran discovers letters can lie. For although his intended exactly resembles her portrait, her brutality upon arrival proves she is nothing like the sensitive woman of the letters.

With the strategic marriage imminent, Oran sees no way out of his dilemma. Word has spread that Blackthorn possesses a remarkable gift for solving knotty problems, so the prince asks her for help. To save Oran from his treacherous nuptials, Blackthorn and Grim will need all their resources: courage, ingenuity, leaps of deduction, and more than a little magic. (–Goodreads.com)

index-82

Blood & Whiskey: The Life and Times of Jack Daniel

Besides the fact that Jack Daniel’s has been the whiskey of choice in my family for as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated with it and the man behind it since we took a tour of the Jack Daniel’s Distillery way back in 1981. The cave and the statue are very real and awesome to behold. The fact that this whiskey is distilled in a dry county was amazing in and of itself. I was enthralled with the facts of Jack’s life and that of his family who continued the tradition after his death. Jack Daniel was inventive, industrious, and extremely loyal to his family. They always came first and he made sure everyone remotely related to him was taken care of and provided for in his will. There have been a lot of ups and downs in the whiskey business, but through them all, the Old No. 7 has stayed true to its origins and even though there are now more varieties and better marketing, the whiskey is still charcoal-filtered and barreled according to Jack’s specs from way back in the 1800’s. Well worth the read even if you’re not a whiskey lover, but admire someone who came from nothing and never forgot how he got to the top.

The first-ever biography of the man who created America’s most famous whiskey. Born in Lynchburg, Tennessee, in 1850, Jack Daniel became a legendary moonshiner at age 15 before launching a legitimate distillery ten years later. By the time he died in 1911, he was an American legend – and his Old No. 7 Tennessee sipping whiskey was an international sensation, the winner of gold medals at the St. Louis World’s Fair and the Liege International Exposition in Belgium. Blood and Whiskey captures Daniel’s indomitable rise in the tough-edged world of the nineteenth-century whiskey trade – and shows how his commitment to quality (his whiskey was always charcoal-filtered) and his flair for marketing and packaging (he launched his distinctive square bottle in 1895) helped create one of America’s most venerable and recognizable brands. Peter Krass (Hanover, NH) is the author of Carnegie, cited by Barron’s as the “definitive” biography and selected by Library Journal as one of the best biography/business books of 2002.

Descriptive content provided by Syndetics, a Bowker service.

 

index 118

Heartless

I really wanted to like this book; however, I was disappointed. While there were parts I enjoyed, most of the time I felt like I was inside a Tim Burton movie. The world was very detailed, but mostly unnecessary since I already have tons of visions of Wonderland from multiple books and movies. There were lots of new and old characters described, the in-depth development of was lacking, especially in the main characters. I figured out the ending way to early and was left with a long drawn out plot that advanced at a snails pace. I found myself more interested in the land of Chess and confused by two “red” queens, one of hearts and one just red. More information on these facts would have been helpful. As usual, the sarcastic Cheshire Cat is still my favorite character and I’m sure that was not Meyer’s intent at all.

Long before she was the terror of Wonderland – the infamous Queen of Hearts – she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love. Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next queen. Then Cath meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the king and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship. Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans. In her first stand-alone teen novel, the New York Times best-selling author dazzles us with a prequel to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Goodreads.

The Left-Handed Fate

The Left-Handed Fate

Lucy Bluecrowne lives at sea on the Left-Handed Fate. Her father is it’s captain and the ship is her world. The Fate has been hired by Max Ault to finish the mission his father started: find the pieces of an ancient machine that will stop war as we know it. The problem is they are not the only ones looking for the pieces. It is 1812 and Britain and America are at war. Britain is also at war with France and Napoleon. The French are also on the hunt for the pieces of the machine as is a mysterious black ship that seems to appear out of nowhere.

The Fate traces a piece of the machine to Norfolk and attempts to take it from the ship carrying it. Unfortunately, the US Navy notices and the Fate is captured and Captain Bluecrowne dead. Young Oliver Dexter is given command of the Fate and told to bring it back to Norfolk. His mission goes awry when both the French and the Black Ship attack. They are forced to flee to Nagspeake in the Atlantic and Oliver is forced to depend on Lucy and the crew of the Fate to survive. He becomes part of their quest to find the machine, not always working towards the same purpose, but learning to work with each other.

I loved these characters and this story though at times I felt like I was missing something having not read the previous book Bluecrowne. However, Lucy, Max and Oliver make this story come alive. Lucy’s younger brother Liao adds an extra element to the story as well. He hates war and battle and just wants to be left in peace to create his fireworks. Every scene that featured Liao seemed just a bit brighter. I adored his enthusiasm and quiet strength. Lucy, Max and Oliver don’t always seem like the most comfortable of companions, but they each bring their own strengths and vulnerabilities to the team and these compliment each other so well.

I did think the fantastical elements of the machine and the black ship were probably the least interesting to me. I loved the actual historical elements and the adventure of it all. I thought Nagspeake was fascinating even though it was part of the fantastical bit. I could definitely read an entire novel set in Nagspeake with all its interesting people and landscapes. This does make me want to go back and read some of Milford’s other books since I have only read Greenglass House in addition to this one. Superb writing and wonderful storytelling.

Be afraid

Be afraid

The Fear Is Terrifying

When police rescue five-year-old Jenna Thompson from the dark closet where she’s been held captive for days, they tell her she’s a lucky girl. Compared to the rest of her family, it’s true. But even with their killer dead of an overdose, Jenna is still trying to find peace twenty-five years later.

But The Truth

On leave from her forensic artist job, Jenna returns to Nashville, the city where she lost so much. Instead of closure, she finds a new horror. Detective Rick Morgan needs Jenna’s expertise in identifying the skeletal remains of a young child. The case jogs hazy half-buried memories–and a nagging dread that Jenna’s ordeal hasn’t ended.

Is Even Worse

Now other women are dying. And as the links between these brutal killings and Jenna’s past becomes clear, she knows this time, a madman will leave no survivors.

–from Goodreads.com.

Shiver

Shiver

Samantha Jones is the best damn repo woman on the books. The streetwalkers, the drug pushers, the bands of looking-for-trouble punks haunting the mean streets at midnight don’t intimidate her. These are her people. The guy she finds bound and bloodied in the trunk of a flashy new BMW is a different breed entirely.

Daniel Panterro knows he hasn’t seen the last of the vicious drug runners who kidnapped him from protective custody and left him for dead. His only recourse is to take his pretty savior and her four-year-old son hostage and force her to help him. With ruthless killers stalking their trail, Sam must trust this handsome, menacing stranger. But as she relinquishes control, she feels an unmistakable desire. What is the price of falling in love with a man who operates on the edge of danger—her heart, her life . . . or both?

–from Goodreads.com.

The Secret of Goldenrod

The Secret of Goldenrod

When Trina and her father move into an abandoned wreck of a mansion called Goldenrod, Trina thinks her life is finally coming together. She can put down roots at last. Maybe she’ll even have a best friend! But the kids at school make fun of her, and it seems like Goldenrod itself is haunted.

Then Trina finds Augustine, a tiny porcelain doll left behind when the house was boarded up a century ago. Augustine isn’t like other dolls: she talks and talks and talks. Augustine helps Trina realize that Goldenrod is trying to tell her an important secret . . . one that may just change her life.

–from Goodreads.com

27191315

Buddha’s Diet: The Ancient Art of Losing Weight Without Losing Your Mind

I found this book very different from most diet how-to books. It is all about your mindset, attitude, and being realistic. It doesn’t promise you will drop 6 sizes or 50 lbs, but it does help you find a middle road that will make your life more comfortable and your health easier to handle, The book talks about timing on when you eat and how often you do so. It also gives you different ways to feel better about yourself and your body. Mostly it teaches you not to be obsessed with food or with your body image. Now I’ll see how I do.

There’s a lot you probably don’t know about the Buddha. For one, the real Buddha was thin. And before he became the “Enlightened One,” he was a pampered prince named Siddhartha. He tried starving himself in his quest for inner peace, but found that extremes brought him no closer to enlightenment. Instead, he sought a “middle way” between unhealthy overindulgence and unrealistic abstinence. The instructions he gave his monks about eating, more than 2,500 years ago, were surprisingly simple. Fast forward to toady. Cutting edge scientific research tells us something Buddha knew all along. It’s not what you eat, but when you eat that’s most important. You don’t need to follow the latest fads or give up your favorite foods. You just need to remember a few guidelines that Buddha provided – guidelines that, believe it ot not, will help you lose weight, feel better, and stop obsessing about food. Sure, Buddha lived before the age of cronuts, but his wisdom and teachings endure, providing us with a sane, mindful approach to eating. With chapters that ponder questions like “What would Buddha drink?” and “Did Buddha do Cross-fit?” Buddha’s Diet offers both an attainable and sustainable strategy for achieving weight-loss nirvana.

Goodreads.

 

Last Wish

A Tyranny of Petticoats

22020592

Criss-cross America — on dogsleds and ships, stagecoaches and trains — from pirate ships off the coast of the Carolinas to the peace, love, and protests of 1960s Chicago. Join fifteen of today’s most talented writers of young adult literature on a thrill ride through history with American girls charting their own course. They are monsters and mediums, bodyguards and barkeeps, screenwriters and schoolteachers, heiresses and hobos. They’re making their own way in often-hostile lands, using every weapon in their arsenals, facing down murderers and marriage proposals. And they all have a story to tell.

With stories by:
J. Anderson Coats
Andrea Cremer
Y. S. Lee
Katherine Longshore
Marie Lu
Kekla Magoon
Marissa Meyer
Saundra Mitchell
Beth Revis
Caroline Tung Richmond
Lindsay Smith
Jessica Spotswood
Robin Talley
Leslye Walton
Elizabeth Wein

(–Goodreads.com)

Last Wish

The Dark Days Club (Lady Helen #1)

15993203

London, April 1812. On the eve of eighteen-year-old Lady Helen Wrexhall’s presentation to the queen, one of her family’s housemaids disappears-and Helen is drawn into the shadows of Regency London. There, she meets Lord Carlston, one of the few who can stop the perpetrators: a cabal of demons infiltrating every level of society. Dare she ask for his help, when his reputation is almost as black as his lingering eyes? And will her intelligence and headstrong curiosity wind up leading them into a death trap? (–Goodreads.com)

Temeraire

His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik.

Sea Captain William Laurence captures a French frigate and finds himself with a captured dragon egg about to hatch on his hands.  For better or for worse, the hatchling bonds with Laurence who must now give up his service in the Navy for a position in the less reputable Aviators branch.  England is at war with Napoleon and needs every resource at their disposal.

 

I really enjoyed this series the first time I read it.  My husband and I enjoy reading books to each other before going to sleep.  I’ve had difficulty choosing books that are new to me (and him), so I’ve resorted to rereading books that I’ve read by myself previously.

pennyroyal academy

Pennyroyal Academy

A girl runs through the forest covered only in spiderwebs. She has no name but is running towards something. Her path is blocked by a cabin which turns out to be the home of a witch. She rescues a boy captured by the witch and together they set off to their destination. They are headed to Pennyroyal Academy. The girl is going to join the princess corps and the boy, Remington, plans to train as a knight. At Pennyroyal, the girl is given the name Cadet Eleven but shortens it to Evie. Evie becomes friends with a few of the other princess hopefuls in the Ironbone Corps. The girls are training to be princesses so they can go out into the world and fight the evil witches. They are walking in the footsteps of the great princesses like Pennyroyal and Snow White and Cinderella. Princesses are the only hope in stopping the evil witches and their plans to take over the world. The boys are training as knights so that they can fight the dragons.

If Evie had known what being a princess was all about she might not have come to Pennyroyal. Turns out Evie is under a memory curse and can’t recall what her life was like. All she remembers is the last few years with her family: her mother, father and sister. She tried to fly like her sister and almost killed her father and that is when she realized just how different she was from the rest of her family. She ran away because she isn’t a dragon and doesn’t want to cause her dragon family anymore pain. At Pennyroyal, Evie does learn more about her background and her curse. Everything comes to a head during one of the training exercises when the truth behind her real family is revealed.

I loved this book a lot more than I thought I would. It is one book that when I finished reading it I immediately wanted another book in the series. I loved the different take on fairy tales; princesses are not born they are trained to become who they are. I really enjoyed the fact that Larson was able to so successful intertwine actual fairy tale stories with this tale. Evie is a fantastic character. She makes mistakes and isn’t the most knowledgeable but she has what every good princess is supposed to have: courage, compassion, kindness and discipline. I can’t wait to see where the next book will go and if it will answer some of the other questions that arose during this book.

Missing

Missing

Winter Crane lives in the small Kentucky town of Reeve’s End. It is just her and her abusive, drunk father since her mother died and her sister ran off. Winter endures her father by hiding out in a shack in the woods and working as much as possible (as a tutor and at a medical clinic). She wants to get out of town and go to medical school. One day while in the shack, she hears the local feral dog pack howling and discovers they have treed a young man. Lennon has been beaten and doesn’t seem to remember much except that he was trying to find his friend Edie. Turns out Edie is also Winter’s friend. Winter tries to help Lennon, but he quickly disappears as well. Then his brother Jude shows up. Jude is nothing like laid-back Lennon. He is intense and wants to know where his brother is. Jude and Winter discover more than just Edie and Lennon are missing and there might be a dark past in Jude and Lennon’s background that is behind everything.

This was a pretty intense read. The story moves and a pretty good pace and really leaves you wanting to find out what is going. Does the final result make sense? Not entirely. There are a few twists that seem just a little too over-the-top. However, I really liked both Winter and Jude and their determination to find out what is going on and to not compromise who they are in the process. It was a nice change of pace to have two such strong-willed characters in the lead of this story. It is also a bit different from what I am used to from Kelley Armstrong. There are no paranormal elements, just twisted psychotics.

I received this book from Netgalley. Expected publication April 18, 2017.

24820159

Drinking in America: Our Secret History

I found this to be an interesting take on American events that were effected by alcohol. I especially like the chapter “Alexander Hamilton and the Whiskey Rebellion, John and Abigail Adam’s Sons and Grandsons.” It was a whole new view on that period in history. Also I never really thought of Johnny Appleseed in relation to hard apple cider – only the pleasant man planting trees. Quite an eye-opener in that chapter. It is astounding how much alcohol and alcoholism has effected American history and still today is such an important part of so many of our celebrations. This book is a very sobering look at our past, present, and possible future with all the various kinds of alcohol the U.S. loves to consume and the effects it has on the people that make and sell it, those that consume it, and those that love them .

In DRINKING IN AMERICA, bestselling author Susan Cheever chronicles our national love affair with liquor, taking a long, thoughtful look at the way alcohol has changed our nation’s history. This is the often-overlooked story of how alcohol has shaped American events and the American character from the seventeenth to the twentieth century. Seen through the lens of alcoholism, American history takes on a vibrancy and a tragedy missing from many earlier accounts. From the drunkenness of the Pilgrims to Prohibition hi-jinks, drinking has always been a cherished American custom: a way to celebrate and a way to grieve and a way to take the edge off. At many pivotal points in our history – the illegal Mayflower landing at Cape Cod, the enslavement of African Americans, the McCarthy witch hunts, and the Kennedy assassination, to name only a few – alcohol has acted as a catalyst. Some nations drink more than we do, some drink less, but no other nation has been the drunkest in the world as America was in the 1830s only to outlaw drinking entirely a hundred years later. Both a lively history and an unflinching cultural investigation, DRINKING IN AMERICA unveils the volatile ambivalence within one nation’s tumultuous affair with alcohol.

Goodreads.

27905123

Symptoms of Being Human

I am so glad I listened to this audio-book. Besides the fact that it made my trip to Indy go by faster, I think hearing the story and the subtle nuances spoken aloud let me feel more and understand better this complex life that Riley Cavanaugh is leading. I can’t imagine trying to deal with the uncertainty of who you are, let alone what gender you are, on a day to day changing basis. I approve of the way Jeff Garvin never truly comes out and states what physical gender Riley is. Every time I thought I had decided from the subtle clues and expressions of the parents, it was just a matter of time before I changed my mind. This book explains gender-fluid in simple, yet meaningful ways, and this book should be a must read for anyone who wants a better understanding of what it is like to not be comfortable in the body you are born into. Garvin doesn’t gloss over the ugly side of prejudice, but displays an amazing understanding of someone who just wants to belong and be accepted for who he/she is on any given day.

A sharply honest and moving debut perfect for fans of The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Ask the Passengers. Riley Cavanaugh is many things: Punk rock. Snarky. Rebellious. And gender fluid. Some days Riley identifies as a boy, and others as a girl. But Riley isn’t exactly out yet. And between starting a new school and having a congressman father running for reelection in uber-conservative Orange County, the pressure media and otherwise is building up in Riley’s life. On the advice of a therapist, Riley starts an anonymous blog to vent those pent-up feelings and tell the truth of what it’s really like to be a gender fluid teenager. But just as Riley’s starting to settle in at school even developing feelings for a mysterious outcast the blog goes viral, and an unnamed commenter discovers Riley’s real identity, threatening exposure. And Riley must make a choice: walk away from what the blog has created – a lifeline, new friends, a cause to believe in or stand up, come out, and risk everything. From debut author Jeff Garvin comes a powerful and uplifting portrait of a modern teen struggling with high school, relationships, and what it means to be a person.

Goodreads.

Princess of the Silver Woods

Princess of the Silver Woods

Princess of the Silver Woods is the third book in the Princesses of Westfalin trilogy. In this final book, the sisters are back fighting the King Under Stone. Princess Petunia is the focus of this book. She is on her way to stay with the Grand Duchess Volenskaya and her grandson Prince Grigori. Her carriage is attacked on the road and she is kidnapped by the leader of the Wolves Oliver. Oliver is a bandit because his earldom was divided up after the war and he has to feed his people. Oliver delivers Petunia to the Duchess’ estate (which used to be his) and learns that she is in danger from shadowy figures. He decides it is time to finally give up his life as a bandit and appeal to the king to get his earldom back. Plus he really wants to protect Petunia since he fell in love with her on their first meeting.

Turns out all twelve princesses are beset by nightmare visitations from the King Under Stone. They are again forced to dance the night away, although this time it is in their dreams not in person. All twelve come together, with a few of the husbands, to try and defeat the King Under Stone for the final time. They are joined by Oliver and the magic workers of Walter, the Crone and the Bishop.

I love Jessica Day George and I really enjoyed this series, but this was probably the weakest of the books. One of the things I liked about the previous books were the ties to their original fairy tales: the Twelve Dancing Princesses and Cinderella. This book kind of ties in Little Red Riding Hood with maybe a hint of Robin Hood, but it is very loose. Petunia wears a red cape and is visiting an old lady, Oliver wears a wolf’s head and robs the rich to feed his people, Prince Gregori is a hunter and that is about it other than a scene with the Duchess in bed and Petunia remarking on her big teeth. I wish the fairy tale aspect would have been a bit stronger. I am also not really sure what the purpose of the second book was since it seems to have no part in this story.

Other than the fairy tale aspect, the character of Petunia was probably the biggest miss for me. After Poppy in book 2, Petunia was a let down. She just seemed a bit dim and really couldn’t see what was before her very eyes. She learns that the Duchess is one of the nine Russian princesses who gave birth to shadow babies and doesn’t connect that to the King Under Stone or believe the Duchess could be evil until she is told explicitly by the Duchess. She runs off after a yellow rose bush that is clearly magic even though everyone tells her not to and they are in the middle of a crisis. Of course it leads her to the Kingdom Under Stone. She just makes stupid decisions throughout when her sisters were very smart about what was happening in their books. It was a glaring change.

That being said, I still really enjoyed this story and like how everything got tied up. I just wish the plot would have been a little bit more cohesive and the characters a bit more interesting. I will still read everything Jessica Day George writes however.