Monday, November 17, 2014

Review: A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout and Sara Corbett

 A House in the Sky 

Synopsis: At the age of nineteen, Amanda Lindhout moved from Red Deer to Calgary and began to travel the globe. She backpacked through Latin America, Laos, Bangladesh, and India, and, emboldened by each experience, went on to travel solo across Sudan, Syria, and Pakistan. In war-ridden Afghanistan and Iraq, she carved out a fledgling career as a TV reporter. And then, in August 2008, she traveled to Mogadishu, Somalia - 'the most dangerous place on earth' - to report on the fighting there. On her fourth day in the country, she was abducted and then held captive for fifteen months.
   Vivid and suspenseful, as artfully written as the finest novel, A House in the Sky is the searingly intimate story of an intrepid young woman and her search for compassion in the face of unimaginable adversity.

Sometimes you read a book and it changes your entire perspective on life. A House in the Sky is one of those books. It is a horrifying glimpse into Amanda's experience in captivity. The abuse she suffered at the hands of her captors including starvation, torture, and rape is at times excruciating to read. There were times when I had to put the book down for a few minutes just to process what I had read. I can't imagine how much worse it would be to actually experience the things she went through. But she did and she survived to tell her story and even though it is hard to read, I believe it is one of those books that should be read by everyone. It is about hope and compassion and how to stay strong even when it seems that things will never get better. 

I admire Amanda's strength and resilience throughout but most of all I admire her compassion and empathy. It is a very rare person that can go through something like this and come out with a sense of hopefulness and gratitude.  

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Reading Wishlist: November 2014

 Nov. 4

#1) So John Cleese
So, Anyway...

Genre: Autobiography
What It's About: Comedy legend John Cleese recounts events from his childhood and adolescence leading up to his time before joining Monty Python.
Anticipation Factor: 7/10/. I am a huge Monty Python fan and John Cleese is my favorite Python. I can't wait to read this book which promises to be both funny and insightful.

#2) The Retribution of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer #3) by Michelle Hodkin
The Retribution of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer, #3)

Genre: YA Paranormal
What It's About: This is the third and final installment in the Mara Dyer trilogy.
Anticipation Factor: 6/10. I haven't read this series yet but I've heard very good things.

#3) A Thousand Pieces of You (Firebird #1) by Claudia Gray
A Thousand Pieces of You (Firebird, #1)

Genre: YA Science Fiction
What It's About: Marguerite's father has invented the Firebird: a machine that allows users to travel to parallel universes. But when a murderer escapes into the Firebird after killing her father, Marguerite must follow him through parallel worlds to capture him.
Anticipation Factor: 8/10. After seeing Interstellar, I am excited to see another person's take on multiple dimensions. 

#4) Mortal Heart (His Fair Assassin #3) by Robin LaFevers
Mortal Heart (His Fair Assassin, #3)

Genre: YA Fantasy
What It's About: Annith has been training her whole life to be an assassin - but the convent where she grew up has other ideas for her.
Anticipation Factor: 9/10. I've already bought the other two books in the series and can't wait to add the final installment to my collection...and maybe finally get around to reading the series!

#5) Forbidden by Kimberley Griffiths Little

Genre: YA Historical Fiction/Romance
What It's About: A forbidden love unfolds between two teens from two warring tribes in the Mesopotamian desert.
Anticipation Factor: 7/10. I am a sucker for historical romance and forbidden love stories. 

#6) The Walled City by Ryan Graudin
The Walled City

Genre: YA Dystopian
What It's About: The Walled City is a lawless labyrinth run by crime lords and street gangs. Jin races against time to find her lost sister and escape the city.
Anticipation Factor: 9/10. This book is getting some serious buzz and that cover (a special edition exclusive to Indigo) is to die for.

#7) Empire of Shadows (Bhinian Empire #2) by Miriam Forster
Empire of Shadows (Bhinian Empire, #2)

Genre: YA Fantasy
What It's About: The sequel to City of a Thousand Dolls.
Anticipation Factor: 7/10. I'm always eager to add another fantasy series to my collection.

#8) A Map of Betrayal by Ha Jin
A Map of Betrayal: A Novel

Genre: Fiction
What It's About: From Goodreads: a spare, haunting tale of espionage and conflicted loyalties that spans half a century in the entwined histories of two countries—China and the United States—and two families as it explores the complicated terrain of love and honor.
Anticipation Factor: 7/10. You know those authors that you've never read but you just somehow know that you are going to like their work? I feel that way about Ha Jin.

#9) Visitors (Pathfinder #3) by Orson Scott Card
Visitors (Pathfinder, #3)

Genre: YA Fantasy
What It's About: The final book in the Pathfinder series.
Anticipation Factor: 5/10.

#10) Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky
Gracefully Grayson

Genre: YA Contemporary
What It's About: Twelve-year-old Grayson Sender hides a secret from everyone he knows - 'he' is really a girl trapped inside a boy's body.
Anticipation Factor: 8/10. I've heard very good things about this book and it is encouraging to see more books published that deal with transgender issues.

#11) Killer Instinct (The Naturals #2) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Killer Instinct (The Naturals, #2)

Genre: YA Thriller
What It's About: Seventeen-year-old Cassie Hobbes is part of an elite FBI team made up of teens with exceptional crime-solving capabilities. In this sequel to the first installment, Cassie and her team track down a brutal serial killer.
Anticipation Factor: 6/10. The premise sounds interesting but I have yet to read the first book.

#12) Crashland (Twinmaker #2) by Sean Williams
Crashland (Twinmaker #2)

Genre: YA Dystopian
What It's About: Takes place in a future world where technology that can transport you anywhere can also be used to make humans stronger, faster, and more beautiful.
Anticipation Factor: 5/10.

#13) Mermaids in Paradise by Lydia Millet
Mermaids in Paradise

Genre: Fiction
What It's About: From Goodreads:Mermaids, kidnappers, and mercenaries hijack a tropical vacation in this genre-bending sendup of the American honeymoon.
Anticipation Factor: 7/10.

 #14) Citizen Coke: The Making of Coca-Cola Capitalism by Bartow J. Elmore
Citizen Coke: The Making of Coca-Cola Capitalism

Genre: Non-Fiction
What It's About: The history of the Coca-Cola company and how it became one of the most recognizable brands of all time.
Anticipation Factor: 7/10. I'm not going to lie - I love Coca-Cola and I'm always fascinated by stories about the company's beginnings.

#15) The Heart Does Not Grow Back by Fred Venturini
The Heart Does Not Grow Back: A Novel

Genre: Science Fiction
What It's About: After a bizarre accident, high-school student Dale Sampson discovers he has the ability to regenerate his limbs and organs.
Anticipation Factor: 9/10. This sounds like it will be a unique, interesting read. I love books like this.

#16) Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation by Bill Nye
Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation

Genre: Science
What It's About: Bill Nye the Science Guy explains evolution and why it matters to us today.
Anticipation Factor: 8/10. I used to watch his show when I was a kid and I am very supportive of his efforts to educate people about evolution and show that it's not 'just a theory.'

#17) Dreamer's Pool (Blackthorn and Grim #1) by Juliet Marillier
Dreamer's Pool (Blackthorn and Grim, #1)

Genre: Fantasy
What It's About: Magical healer Blackthorn must rescue Prince Oran from a disastrous marriage to a brutal woman who threatens his kingdom.
Anticipation Factor: 6/10.

#18) Empire of Dust: A Psi-Tech Novel by Jacey Bedford
Empire of Dust: A Psi-Tech Novel

Genre: Science Fiction
What It's About: Mega corporations use agents called psi-techs to go out and discover resources throughout the galaxy. One psi-tech, Cara Carlinni, manages to escape the corporation she works for and becomes a fugitive on the run.
Anticipation Factor: 8/10.

#19) Willful Child by Steven Erikson
Willful Child

Genre: Science Fiction
What It's About: A playful homage to Star Trek, this sci-fi space adventure follows the exploits of Captain Hadrian Sawback on the Starship Willful Child.
Anticipation Factor: 7/10. I'm kind of hoping this will be a lot like The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Nov. 11

#20) Revival by Stephen King

Genre: Horror
What It's About: From Goodreads: A dark and electrifying novel about addiction, fanaticism, and what might exist on the other side of life.
Anticipation Factor: 9/10. It's new Stephen King!

#21) The Bane Chronicles by Cassandra Clare
The Bane Chronicles (The Bane Chronicles)

Genre: YA Fantasy
What It's About: A collection of ten short stories featuring Magnus Bane, a character from Clare's Shadowhunter series.
Anticipation Factor: 8/10. I've only ever read the first book in the Mortal Instrument series. I'm slowly and steadily working on adding each book to my library.

#22) The Three-Body Problem (Three Body #1) by Liu Cixin, Translated by Ken Liu
The Three-Body Problem (Three Body, #1)

Genre: Science Fiction
What It's About: A secret military project sends signals into space hoping to make contact with aliens. The aliens pick up the signal and respond by planning to invade Earth. Different factions form on Earth, each one wanting to either help or destroy the invading aliens.
Anticipation Factor: 8/10. This is the kind of sci-fi story I'm bound to fall in love with.

#23) Nothing is True and Everything is Possible: The Surreal Heart of the New Russia by Peter Pomerantsev
Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible: The Surreal Heart of the New Russia

Genre: Non-Fiction
What It's About: An exploration of modern Russia and its surreal and terrifying politics.
Anticipation Factor: 7/10.

#24) Young Woman in a Garden: Stories by Delia Sherman
Young Woman in a Garden: Stories

Genre: Fantasy
What It's About: A collection of fantasy stories from the author of Changeling.
Anticipation Factor: 6/10.

#25) Homefront by Scott James Magner

Genre: Science Fiction
What It's About: In a future Earth struggling to reinvent itself after a technological disaster and in the midst of a civil war, super soldier Jantine is sent there to establish a secret colony.
Anticipation Factor: 8/10.

Nov. 18

#26) Superheroes Anonymous by Lexie Dunne
Superheroes Anonymous

Genre: Science Fiction
What It's About: When Gail Godwin repeatedly needs to be rescued by a villain, the media dubs her Hostage Girl. Now Gail is drawn into the bizarre world of superheroes and she must learn to discover her strengths and weaknesses.
Anticipation Factor: 7/10. I love superhero stories.

Nov. 25

#27) Girl Online by Zoe Sugg
Girl Online

Genre: YA Contemporary
What It's About: Penny blogs all about her life under the alias GirlOnline. When she falls for guitar-player Noah she must decide how much to reveal to him - and how much to reveal to her followers.
Anticipation Factor: 6/10.

#28) Endsinger (The Lotus War #3) by Jay Kristoff
Endsinger (The Lotus War, #3)

Genre: Fantasy
What It's About: The final book in the Lotus War series.
Anticipation Factor: 9/10. I have the first two books in the series and can't wait to buy this one so I can read them all in succession.

Release dates are subject to change.
The Anticipation Factor reflects my personal desire to read the book and does not reflect the opinions of the larger reading community.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Book Review: Half Bad (Half Bad Trilogy #1) by Sally Green

 Half Bad (The Half Bad Trilogy, #1) 

Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Nathan lives in a cage: beaten, shackled, trained to kill. In a modern-day England where two warring factions of witches live amongst humans, Nathan is an abomination, the illegitimate son of the world's most terrifying and violent witch, Marcus. Nathan's only hope for survival is to escape his captors, track down Marcus, and receive the three gifts that will bring him into his own magical powers - before it's too late. But how can Nathan find his father when his every action is monitored, when there is no one safe to trust, not even family, not even the girl he loves?

I have not been so engrossed by a book since the first time I read The Hunger Games. I read this book is four hours, holding it up close to my face and gripping it by the edges the entire time. Half Bad has everything I love: a compelling, fast-paced plot, solid world-building and a complex, intriguing hero.

Nathan is full of contradictions - he has the ability to be both extremely violent and surprisingly tender but it is these contradictions that make him seem real. It also helps that Sally Green created such an original and believable world of witches living in modern society with their own social codes, prejudices, and attributes. I loved the idea of the two warring factions, the Black and the White, and how neither side could claim to be completely good or completely bad. I loved getting to explore this complex world and learn more about it as the story went along. 

All of the side characters were equally compelling and well-drawn. (With the exception of the love interest. She was a bit boring, IMO.) My favorite was Gabriel, a boy that befriends Nathan on his journey to find his father.

If you loved The Hunger Games, you will definitely love this book. This is no light read: Half Bad explores some dark themes and there are even a couple of scenes that feature torture and cruelty. But if you can stomach that, Half Bad should be put at the top of your TBR list.

The sequel, Half Wild, is set to be released March 24th, 2015.
Half Wild (The Half Bad Trilogy, #2)

Monday, November 10, 2014

Book Review: The Rosie Effect (Don Tillman #2) by Graeme Simsion

 The Rosie Effect 

Don and Rosie are back in this delightful sequel to The Rosie Project. The couple have relocated to New York City and big changes are in store - Rosie is pregnant and hilarity ensues. 

This book is just as funny and heartwarming as the first but readers be warned: it's not all sunshine and rainbows in this book. Don and Rosie face serious issues in their marriage and reading about them being in love is slightly less fun than reading about them falling in love. To be perfectly honest, I dislike Rosie for most of the book. There are moments where she is unreasonable, angry and just plain unfair to Don. However, this does make her seem more like a real character; a complaint I had when reading the first book was that Rosie didn't quite come to life for me.

Thankfully, Don Tillman is the star of the show and I am amazed at Simsion's ability to create a romantic hero who is both incredibly endearing and unbelievably frustrating. What is so great about Don is that he is genuinely trying to do his best - and that's usually when disaster strikes. Thankfully, everything works out in the end and Don is as lovable in this book as he was in the first. 

If you loved The Rosie Project you're going to love The Rosie Effect just as much, if not more. I would definitely read another book featuring Don and Rosie. And I can't wait for the film adaptation of The Rosie Project!

Book Haul: September/October 2014

Books Mentioned:
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black
Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1) by Sarah J. Mass
Code Name Verity (Code Name Verity #1) by Elizabeth Wein
Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami
The Rosie Project (Don Tillman #1) by Graeme Simsion
The Rosie Effect (Don Tillman #2) by Graeme Simsion
Half Bad (The Half Bad Trilogy #1) by Sally Green
The Girl of Fire and Thorns (Fire and Thorns #1) by Rae Carson
The Crown of Embers (Fire and Thorns #2) by Rae Carson
The Bitter Kingdom (Fire and Thorns #3) by Rae Carson
The Girl of Fire and Thorns Stories by Rae Carson
Across the Universe (Across the Universe #1) by Beth Revis
A Million Suns (Across the Universe #2) by Beth Revis
Shades of Earth (Across the Universe #3) by Beth Revis
Tiger's Curse (The Tiger Saga #1) by Colleen Houck
Tiger's Quest (The Tiger Saga #2) by Colleen Houck
Tiger's Voyage (The Tiger Saga #3) by Colleen Houck
Talon (Talon #1) by Julie Kagawa

Other Stuff:
The Walt Disney Legacy Collection: Mary Poppins
The Fault in Our Stars Blu-ray
Hannibal Season 2 DVD
Embossed journal from Chapter's/Indigo