What I'm Reading Now:

Sunday, September 18, 2016

In Too Deep (The 39 Clues #6)


Title: In Too Deep (The 39 Clues #6)

Author: Jude Watson

Pages: 4 discs

Genre: Children's Fiction

Grade: B

Synopsis: The clue hunt takes Amy, Dan and their au pair Nellie to Sydney Australia where they meet up with Shep who is an old friend of their parents.  He flies them across Australia and then to Indonesia as they continue to try and follow the path for clues and the journey their parents took many years before. Through it all Dan and Amy continue to outsmart all of the other teams in the clue hunt.

My Review: I always enjoy the clue hunt books that take place either somewhere that I've been or somewhere that I'm going.  Ada and I continue to enjoy each step of the journey.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

The Greater Journey - Americans In Paris


Title: The Greater Journey - Americans In Paris

Author: David McCullough

Pages: 16 discs

Genre: History, Non-Fiction

Grade: B+

Synopsis: During the 19th century not all pioneers went west.  Many American artists, doctors, writers and others made journey eastward across the ocean to study and hone their craft in Paris. Between the 1830's and 1900 hundreds of Americans went to Paris seeking inspiration, education and the chance to mingle with the greatest minds of the day.

My Review: I don't put this on the same pedestal as John Adam, Truman or The Path Between the Seas (my favorites of the 7 David McCullough books that I've read), but this was another interesting, unique and enjoyable book by one of my favorite authors.  I especially enjoyed the book because I read it in the weeks leading up to my own first visit to Paris and many of the same wonders that were present in the city over a hundred years ago are still there today.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Too Far From Home


Title: Too Far From Home

Author: Chris Jones

Pages: 304

Genre: Non-Fiction, Science

Grade: B+

Synopsis: When the Columbia space shuttle disintegrated on its return to earth there were three astronauts orbiting the earth in the International Space Station.  Once the disaster struck nobody knew for a long time how or when these men would get home. This book focuses on the lives, careers and time spent in space of the Americans Don Petit and Ken Bowersox and the Russian Nikolai Budarin.  At the time, the International Space Station was fairly new, as was spending long amounts of time in space.  It was supposed to be a routine 14 week mission, which turned out to be much longer.

My Review: It took me a while to really get into this book, and it took me longer than I would have liked to finish it, but I did enjoy it.  It's not really a thriller, but it is centered around events that most of us probably remember.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Silk


Title: Silk

Author: Alessandro Baricco

Pages: 132

Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction

Grade: B

Synopsis: Herve Joncour is a Frenchman who deals in silkworms.  After an epidemic decimates the European supply in the late 1800's, Joncour begins to travel further and further to find healthy silkworms to bring back to France.  On his visit to Japan he comes across a woman with whom he never speaks, but who enchants him and becomes an obsession for him.

My Review: This is a short read (I finished in around an hour I think) and is a lovely story.  I believe the book has since been made into a movie, but I have not seen it.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

All the Light We Cannot See


Title: All the Light We Cannot See

Author: Anthony Doer

Pages: 530

Genre: Historical Fiction, Pulitzer Prize

Grade: A-

Synopsis: Marie-Laure is a blind French girl who lives with her father in Paris. Her father works at the Museum of Natural History and builds elaborate models of the neighborhoods where they live to allow Marie-Laure to feel her neighborhood with her hands in order to learn her way around. Once Paris is occupied during WWII, Marie-Laure and her father flee to Saint Malo, near the coast in France to live with Marie-Laure's great uncle.

Werner is an orphan in Germany and is brilliant with electronics and radios.  He is recruited at a young age into the Nazi Army where he is put to work on their electronics.

This is the story of how their lives collide.

My Review: This is a book that I would say was beautiful.  It was on the artsy side as far as the writing is concerned, and it took me a little work to get into it, but once I did I really enjoyed everything about it.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Born to Run


Title: Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen

Author: Christopher McDougall

Pages: 287

Genre: Non-Fiction

Grade: A-

Synopsis: This book explores whether or not humans are built to run, and what our anatomy, history and genetics may have to do with it.  Intermingled in this research are stories of great runners in history, including the Tarahumara Tribe that lives secluded in the Copper Canyons of Mexico, but who are known to be able to run 100 miles or more at the drop of a hat.

My Review: I don't run, I don't particularly enjoy running, but I really enjoyed this book.  The science and research is very well interwoven with the stories about great runners and a race that the author participates in with the Tarahumara Tribe and other invited long-distance runners. If you're a runner, you'd probably love this book, but I'd recommend it to anybody with legs.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Holes


Title: Holes

Author: Louis Sachar

Pages: 233

Genre: Children's Fiction, Newbery Medal

Grade: B+

Synopsis: Stanley Yelnats and his father and his grandfather have always been cursed with very bad luck, which was mainly due to Stanley's no-good dirty rotten pig stealing great great grandfather. However, Stanley and his dad have always felt like their luck was on the brink of changing. That is until Stanley is sent to a juvenile detention center on an old lakebed, where everyday the campers are forced to dig holes.  One hole per person, 5 feet in diameter, 5 feet deep.

My Review: I'm surprised that I've never reviewed this book on here before.  I've like it for years.  It's not earth-shattering or anything, but it's quite enjoyable and the story has always seemed to be pretty clever.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Gwenhwyfar: The White Spirit


Title: Gwenhwyfar: The White Spirit

Author: Mercedes Lackey

Pages: 404

Genre: Historical Fiction

Grade: C-

Synopsis: This book is a spin on the tale of King Arthur.  Gwenhwyfar lives at a time when gods walked among their pagan worshippers and a woman was expected to live her life doing a woman's work.  However, some women did learn to fight and became great warriors, which was the path Gwenhwyfar chose.

My Review: In full disclosure, I didn't actually finish this book.  I made it about 30% of the way through and just found that I had absolutely no interest in the book.  I've come to the conclusion that life is too short to spend time on books that are not interesting for me.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter


Title: Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter

Author: Seth Grahame-Smith

Pages: 336

Genre: Historical Fiction

Grade: B+

Synopsis: Abraham Lincoln has gone down in history as an excellent President and a strong leader. He guided the country through the emancipation of the slaves and the civil war. What is less well-known about his history is his personal reasons for fighting slavery so boldly.  Abraham's mother was killed by a vampire in his youth (although he didn't find out the truth until he was much older). Once he did, he dedicated his life to the eradication of vampires, many of whom would prey on slaves.

My Review: This book is not for everybody.  Written in a similar style as Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, the book intricately weaves Abraham's fight against vampires into his biography.  I really enjoyed it and found myself often thinking, what if...?  All the while learning about our 16th President.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close


Title: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Author: Jonathan Safran Foer

Pages: 326

Genre: Fiction

Grade: A-

Synopsis: Oskar Schell is nine-years old and lives in Manhattan with his widowed mother after his father is killed in the attacks on the World Trade Center.  Oskar (who carries his own business cards) identifies himself as an inventor, explorer, jeweller, vegan, pacifist, percussionist and many other things.  One day after his father's death he finds a key in his father's closet and he is convinced that it was left for him. Now the only thing left for him to do is to track down the lock that this key fits.

My Review: Oskar Schell always seems to have about a million things going through his mind and this book seems to capture everything perfectly.  He's a bit of an unusual nine-year old kid, but one that becomes endearing after you get used to his quirks and manias. I really liked this book.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

The Black Circle (The 39 Clues #5)


Title: The Black Circle (The 39 Clues #5)

Author: Patrick Carman

Pages: 4 discs

Genre: Children's Fiction

Grade: B+

Synopsis: Dan and Amy Cahill have followed the clues to Russia where they are being helped by an anonymous individual who signs all messages with the initials NRR. Dan and Amy aren't sure if this is somebody who they can trust, but they feel like they don't have any other options.  The tasks they're given require them to join up with another team as they have a very limited time to criss cross Russia searching for clues.

My Review: Another [unbelievably] amazing adventure for Dan and Amy Cahill.  I especially enjoyed this one because it took place throughout Russia. Ada gives it two thumbs up as well.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

The Candy Shop War


Title: The Candy Shop War

Author: Brandon Mull

Pages: 8 discs?

Genre: Children's Fiction

Grade: B+

Synopsis: A new Candy Shop opens on Main Street and Nate, Summer, Trevor and Pigeon are especially excited after they meet the sweet shop owner, Mrs. White, who recruits them to help her out with a few things.  As payment the children are given candies that allow them to do all sorts of things, such as defy gravity, change their appearance or become unbreakable.

My Review: Ada and I listened to this book on our short, ill-fated visit to Las Vegas (where we watched the Utes get creamed by Oregon in the Pac-12 Conference Tournament).  It was perfect for such a trip and Ada just loved it.  I think that she ended up listening to most of the book a couple more times before I had to return the discs to the library.  I like Brandon Mull's Fablehaven Series better than this book, but it was still an enjoyable read.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Following the Light of Christ into His Presence


Title: Following the Light of Christ into His Presence

Author: John Pontius

Pages: 255

Genre: LDS, Religion

Grade: B

Synopsis: Just as the title describes, this book is about following the Light of Christ through personal revelation.  Holding onto the iron rod and recognizing and acting upon the promptings of the Spirit are all keys for doing this.

My Review: The content in the book is decent (although it felt like about 1/3 of the book was just quotes from Bruce R. McConkie), but something about the material presentation just felt a bit off-putting and often came across in a holier than thou style (Not to mention that it took me almost 3 months to slog through).  However, as is usually the case, there was still plenty to think about and ideas and impressions of behaviors to implement in my own life.

Monday, May 2, 2016

The Boy in the Suitcase


Title: The Boy in the Suitcase

Author: Lene Kaaberbøl

Pages: 10 discs?

Genre: Fiction

Grade: B

Synopsis: Nina Borg is a nurse for the Red Cross who is contacted by her friend Karin with a key to a public locker in a train station.  When Nina gets to the locker she finds a heavy suitcase and upon opening the suitcase she is shocked to find a young boy inside.  The boy speaks no English (or Danish as in the original), so Nina embarks on a quest to find out more about this boy in the suitcase.  When her friend Karin is brutally murdered, Nina realizes that her life is in danger as well.

My Review:  It was tough for me to get into this book as it jumped around quite a bit and things were hard to follow in the audio version as I wasn't always sure when a new section started and it was sometimes difficult to catch the different place-names.  Once I had that down, then I started enjoying the book more.  Apparently it was quite popular in Denmark, but it just ended up being ok for me.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Nineteen Minutes


Title: Nineteen Minutes

Author: Jodi Picoult

Pages: 18 discs

Genre: Fiction

Grade: B+

Synopsis: The book takes place in a small town in New England.  An unhappy high school student brings an arsenal of guns to school looking for the jocks and popular kids killing 10 and wounding many others.  The best witness for the defense is the judge's own daughter, but she claims to not be able to remember anything about the whole ordeal.

My Review: I initially started listening to this book without knowing anything about it and when I realized that it was about a school shooting then I was going to skip it and move onto a different book (I didn't have a whole lot of interest in getting into the details of a school shooting).  However, after reading some reviews of the book online I decided to stick with it and I was glad I did because the book wasn't that bad and it makes a good case that there are always two sides (or more) to every story.  The shooter isn't excused from the damage or killing that was done, but you certainly feel for him as well as the victims.