What I'm Reading Now:

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Insurgent (Divergent #2)


Title: Insurgent

Author: Veronica Roth

Pages: 10 discs?

Genre: Science Fiction, Young Adult

Grade: A-

Synopsis: After the Dauntless attack while under simulation serum took place in the last book, Tris and the others are not hiding out with the Amity. While there Erudite and Dauntless traitors attack in an effort to find any Divergent who may be hiding out.

My Review: I actually read this book back in the spring, but failed to put a review together.  I don't remember a ton about the book (beyond the main plot), but I do recall enjoying the book but not as much as the first.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Emperor's Code (The 39 Clues #8)


Title: The Emperor's Code (The 39 Clues #8)

Author: Gordon Korman

Pages: 4 discs

Genre: Children's Fiction

Grade: B

Synopsis: Dan and Amy get into a big argument, Dan runs away and is kidnapped on Tienanmen Square in China by the Kabras.  He ends up in Jonah Wizard's candy factory, where Jonah finds him and hides him from Amy and their au pair Nellie.

My Review: The books are rushing towards the final clues and the end of the clue hunt.  Many more unbelievable occurrences and experiences, but another easy and enjoyable read.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Me Talk Pretty One Day


Title: Me Talk Pretty One Day

Author: David Sedaris

Pages: 6 discs?

Genre: Humor

Grade: B+

Synopsis: This book is a collection of humorous essays written about Sedaris' life, most of them focused on the time period around his move from New York City to Paris.

My Review: I listened to the audiobook version, which the author reads himself, and some of the essays were recorded in front of live audiences.  I enjoy listening to Sedaris. He has a bit of a nasally voice, but his reading and intonation definitely play a role in the humor of the book.

Disclaimer: There is a bit of language, but I don't recall it being too terrible.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Viper's Nest (The 39 Clues #7)


Title: The Viper's Nest (The 39 Clues #7)

Author: Peter Lerangis

Pages: 4 discs

Genre: Children's Fiction

Grade: B

Synopsis: Amy and Dan's search for the 39 clues continues.  They've just survived a house fire in Indonesia, that was meant to kill them, but actually killed one of the Lucians (who Amy and Dan never would have guessed was on their side).  The hunt takes them to South Africa and Madagascar, where they continue searching for clues.

My Review: Honestly, I hardly remember this book as they're all starting to run together now.  I think I liked it about as much as all of the other books.

Monday, October 24, 2016

The Executioner's Song


Title: The Executioner's Song

Author: Norman Mailer

Pages: 1056

Genre: Creative Nonfiction, Pulitzer Prize

Grade: A

Synopsis: Gary Gilmore lived in Utah County in 1976 when he robbed two men on separate occasions and then shot them both at point blank.  This is Gilmore's story, from his release from prison, to the murders, then his fight FOR death on death row.  Gilmore was the first person executed in more than 10 years, after the Supreme Court had declared the death penalty constitutional. The lengths to which the Attorney General's office of the State of Utah went to finally execute Gilmore are fascinating, while it seems that everybody else wanted to fight for Gary's life, even though he himself was fighting for his sentence to be served.

My Review: This book was a pretty epic undertaking.  At over 1,000 pages it covers Gilmore's life after being paroled in extreme detail from extensive interviews (both with Gilmore while alive and with his acquaintances after his death), and explores his obsession with his girlfriend Nicole, which in a way led to his killing of two innocent and random victims.

Disclaimer: This book does not hold any punches, nor does it sugar-coat or censor any of Gilmore's letters or interviews.  His letters and conversations with Nicole are often vulgar and the language overall is quite strong.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother


Title: Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

Author: Amy Chua

Pages: 242

Genre: Non-Fiction

Grade: B+

Synopsis: Everybody knows that Chinese parents in America expect their children to be the best.  What people don't usually see is what goes on behind the scenes.  This book is a look how Amy Chua raised her two daughters, Sophia and Lulu, to be the best (at least in everything except gym and athletics). To do this, she and her daughters made tremendous sacrifices, such as having friends outside of school (or having playdates), practice the violin or piano for 6 hours/day, participate in any after-school extra-curricular activities, etc.

My Review: I really enjoyed this book.  It seems to be a very honest account of the things that Amy did right, as well as including the things that she may have done wrong, but she generally leaves the interpretation of her parenting decisions up the reader. From verbal abuse, to forcing her children to practice their instruments in hotel rooms, or wherever they could locate a piano while traveling, this was no holds barred parenting. While I don't subscribe to all of her methods, I was impressed with her dedication to helping her children be the best.  That is something that I can certainly improve upon.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Michael Vey - The Prisoner of Cell 25


Title: Michael Vey - The Prisoner of Cell 25

Author: Richard Paul Evans

Pages: 326

Genre: Children's Fiction

Grade: B

Synopsis: Michael Vey is an ordinary 14 year old living in Idaho. Except that he has Tourette's Syndrome, and except that he has the ability to more or less control electricity and shock people. He's not popular in school and when the hottest cheerleader in the school takes an interest in him, little does he know the danger this will bring.

My Review: The book was a little formulaic (except for the part where Michel Vey absorbs and releases electricity), but I still found it enjoyable. I read it just after Ada, and she really liked it. It's a great book for 4th grade and up, and one that adults can enjoy as well.

Monday, October 10, 2016

The Pyramid


Title: the pyramid - and four other kurt wallander mysteries

Author: Henning Mankell

Pages: 10 discs

Genre: Mystery

Grade: B

Synopsis: The book contains 5 stories from the Swedish detective Kurt Wallander.  The stories range from the a murder case during the beginning of his career, to a complicated double homicide case that is eventually linked to a nearby plane that has crashed.

My Review:  I haven't read any other Kurt Wallander mysteries, but I still found these stories to be very enjoyable and easy to follow.  All could have been read as stand-alone mysteries.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz


Title: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Author: L. Frank Baum

Pages: 5 discs?

Genre: Children's Fiction

Grade: B

Synopsis: Everybody is familiar with the story, originally written in 1900, about Dorothy Gale from Kansas who befriends a scarecrow, tin man and cowardly lion while making her way to the Emerald City after her house fell on the wicked witch and killed her. Phew. That was a long one-sentence synopsis.

My Review:  The author wanted to write a book similar to the fairy tales of old, and I think he pretty well succeeded, especially considering the big-screen success of the classic 1939 film.  The movie follows the book pretty closely, except for a few scenes in the book that didn't make the final cut in the movie.  For kids, it was excellent. For me, it was pretty good.

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.