Sunday, July 1, 2018

Review: This Heart of Mine

This Heart of Mine This Heart of Mine by C.C. Hunter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

4.5 stars.

Very clever. Written with a lot of heart. No pun intended.

View all my reviews

Review: Great Soul of Siberia: Passion, Obsession, and One Man's Quest for the World's Most Elusive Tiger

Great Soul of Siberia: Passion, Obsession, and One Man's Quest for the World's Most Elusive Tiger Great Soul of Siberia: Passion, Obsession, and One Man's Quest for the World's Most Elusive Tiger by Sooyong Park
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I feel a little blind sided by this book. I have an interest in tigers so I thought I would read just a bit and see how I liked this guy’s research. turns out that “this guy” immersed himself in the study of this nearly extinct tiger. By the time I was interrupted, I’d become captivated by Bloody Mary and her cubs and was terrorized by her destruction of Park’s bunker. I tried to explain the book to my husband but realized I knew too many details that were important and gave up trying to explain it to him.

With a mere 350 Siberian tigers in the world, Sooyong concentrated his research on one family and her progeny. The reality is that they are highly elusive and it is highly unlikely one will ever actually see the animal. To increase his chances, Park spent the summer studying the land, the trees with food for ungulates, watching for pug marks or tiger trails, measuring the pads and strides, then carefully constructing very small bunkers within the earth then staying very still, very solitary, and very dark and watched with his cameras going.

Tiger activity was few and far between but what he captured and experienced is far more than any other researcher. He found relationships, nurturing, independence, and personalities of the tigers. There is far too much to express about what I loved about this book but the narrative naturally led to poachers. It was heart breaking. The tigers are faced with the natural enemy of the unforgiving landscape but then the encroaching civilization takes up the territory they used to claim. Then poachers illegally hunt the magnificent animal which has brought it nearly to extinction.

I loved the book. I am in awe of the Siberian tiger and also what the author sacrificed to capture so much knowledge and footage to share.

View all my reviews

Review: The Death of Mrs. Westaway

The Death of Mrs. Westaway The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Absolutely delightful spine chiller! Clues dropped sparingly with a few red herrings and an excellent resolution for the ending. I felt the chill throughout as Hal, alone and far too young to be alone, was trapped in Brighton until the letter from the solicitor. Her options so grim, her decision to pursue a possible inheritance looked to be the best choice of action.

Chilling is the best word to describe this book; not only spine chilling, but the setting is also chilly. The large house is always cold. The snow is cold. The characters are somewhat cold. Hal, the protagonist, trapped as she may be, finds options, anyway.

View all my reviews

Review: Jar of Hearts

Jar of Hearts Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Twisty and unpredictable ending. We may not know the characters as well as I think we do.

View all my reviews

Review: The Ones We Choose

The Ones We Choose The Ones We Choose by Julie Clark
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Well written book that questions ethical duty when faced with possibly knowing something about your DNA or your child's DNA that might impact others. Interesting.

View all my reviews

Review: The Mermaid

The Mermaid The Mermaid by Christina Henry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was a little afraid to read this book simply because I loved "The Greatest Showman" so much. Of course, I read a little more about Barnum and so I wasn't expecting a saint. On the other hand, I didn't want my version of him to be sullied. I have absolutely no doubt that Christina Henry began this book long before "The Greatest Showman." In fact, she admits that she spent a great deal of time researching P.T. Barnum and eventually created a man that fit her purpose which, incidentally, is very near the kind of man my mind created. Human, fallible, complicated, interested in making money, and a very good showman.

"...the trick, really - making sure nobody could prove what Barnum wasn't true."

"A bird in a cage still knows it's in a cage, even if the bars are made of gold."

The author creates a story of the "Fee Jee Mermaid." The book begins by telling the story of a lonely fisherman who catches a mermaid and cuts her loose. The mermaid recognizes the loneliness in the fisherman and chooses to come ashore and be his wife. For the years of the fisherman's life, Amelia, the mermaid, lives as a human woman, Jack's wife, weathering the wagging tongues of where she came from and why she never ages, and also returns to the sea at night to swim and be who she is. But Jack grows old and eventually dies. Amelia continues to be a young woman and she waits for Jack. For decades.

Enter P.T. Barnum, or rather, Levi, his lawyer. Little is known of Levi hence the author takes creative license to create him perfectly for the story. He is sent to offer the alleged mermaid a place in his museum. The story navigates this beautiful, terrifying, and honest creature through the constructs of P.T. Barnum's belief system of acquiring interesting objects of curiosities including animals, creatures, and different human beings. Barnum is not the main character, by any means, yet he makes decisions that drive the story.

The author brings depth to characters both real and fictional. Amelia is an interesting and complex character who sees things honestly and simply without all the political tainting of modern(ish) society. There is a lovely interchange she has with Levi as he tries to explain to her what "savages" are on the Cook Islands. Her reasoning is so innocent and beautiful and his is so entrenched in society. Additionally, and relevant to this point, Amelia has grown close to Charity and Caroline, Barnum's wife and oldest daughter.

"Amelia finally realized it was because he himself did not understand what it meant to be different and to have people expect you to change for their sake. She realized that no man could understand this, really, though they expected their wives to do so every day."

Really wonderful book. Great for a book club.

View all my reviews

Review: Slayer

Slayer Slayer by Kiersten White
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Nina is the underdog. She's Artemis' twin who is strong and quick. Her father was a Watcher who died in the line of duty to save a Slayer.

The story, as it is now written, begins after a big epic battle occurred and a whole lot of stuff happened. I don't know if this happened in the "Buffy" series or not so I guess I can't be critical that I was confused and felt like I walked into the middle of a movie. Truthfully, White does a good job catching the reader up on the main points of the battle and what happened.

I feel a little disappointed, as I often do with first books in series, however. I don't like all the hanging threads and I don't like where the characters are at the end of this book. I do, however, LOVE the last little twist at the end. That twist will make the remainder of the books in the series much, much more fun.

I was provided a review copy of this book by the publisher via Edelweiss in return for an honest review.

View all my reviews

Review: The Incendiaries

The Incendiaries The Incendiaries by R.O. Kwon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fascinating story/book. On a college campus, Will, with a troubled childhood behind him and secrets of his own, meets Phoebe, a Korean born immigrant, daughter of an estranged Christian Reverend and strong, supportive mother, recently deceased. Will spent his childhood trying to "save" souls and save his mother.

A third character sneaks into the life of Phoebe, feeling out the hole she has from her survivor's guilt, her anger at her father, her aimless life. He fills it with religion which quickly turns dangerously cult.

So many aspects to explore. So many ideas to inspect. Will is the skeptic yet has a huge hole where God used to reside within him. He is such a complex character, as is Phoebe. Most of the book is narrated by Will with only a few snippets from Phoebe and John Leal. But Will provides the most meat with his POV. He wants to please Phoebe yet he wants to be true to himself. He looked to God, loved God, burned of God and then burned out. I got the feeling that Will hasn't stopped yearning for God, he has simply been completely disappointed and can find no reason to believe in God. Which leaves him empty.

Phoebe is empty in another way with the added layer of the estranged father who is a leader in a Christian church. Then enter John Leal, a mystery character. Charismatic and well studied in human behavior, he weaves stories of his time in North Korea as a prisoner being tortured, giving details that seem to change yet those who are devoted to him will do whatever he asks. Sacrifice everything.

Very fascinating book.

View all my reviews

Review: Under a Dark Sky

Under a Dark Sky Under a Dark Sky by Lori Rader-Day
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is the kind of thriller that kept me guessing until the end. First impression is completely different from how the novel developed. The intriguing part is the way the friends are willing to throw one another under the bus then suddenly be best friends again. The POV is told by Eden, the outsider.

Very difficult to put down.

View all my reviews