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Mr. Impossible

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Ancient Egypt! Roguish adventurers! Assassins! Beautiful scholars! Thrills! Chills! Romance!This book is chock full of everything I love. It's a swashbuckling romp. If it were a movie, it would be The Mummy. This has been my first Loretta Chase novel, but if her books always have this level of excitement and humor, it will be far from my last.
Vampirates: Demons of the Ocean

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I don't really have much to say about this. It's been long enough since I read middle-grade books that I can't really tell if I would have liked this or not. As a reader today, I just know that I long for more. More action. More terror. More world building. I can't tell if this would appeal to the young folks anymore, my perspective is just too changed. (A friend even called me a raunchy librarian. Harsh, but not exactly wrong.) But I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to a middle grades reader. It's not bad, I'm just not its audience.
The Cinderella Deal

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I love Jennifer Crusie. She's so dependable. I can trust that when I read her books, they will be funny, and charming, and have smart, quirky, flawed characters. I will have fun! Glad to have rediscovered her all over again.
Your Own, Sylvia

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That was unexpected.I spent the first half of the book bemoaning the fact that I was reading yet another book in verse when I know that books in verse are really, really not my thing. It's true. I hate them. They just don't speak to me. But then I started the second half of the book, and while I still wish it hadn't been in verse, I found myself connecting rather strongly with the story.I find myself kind of...enraged...on behalf of Sylvia Plath. I realize that she suffered from depression, the really dark, bad kind, and probably would have no matter what. But it's hard to believe that she wouldn't have been better in a more modern society, where a woman academic, a poet, a scholar wouldn't have been seen as "unfeminine." Where she wouldn't have been encouraged to abandon her own talents, her own career, to be a wife, housekeeper, and mother. Where she wouldn't have felt pressured to be everything to everyone, jamming her art into stolen moments. Where she wouldn't have had to manage a home, two children, her husband's effing career (and why couldn't he manage this himself? HE wasn't raising two children and keeping house...), and trying to build her own career on top of that.Which brings me to Ted Hughes. I'm trying really hard to be fair to this man. It cannot have been easy living with a mentally ill wife. It must have been impossible. BUT NO ONE IN THE WORLD COULD HAVE HANDLED IT AS BADLY AS HE DID. He soaks up her youthful adulation, watching as this beautiful young poet who he claimed to admire sacrificed her poetry to be his little wife and cheerleader. Watching as she juggled their two children and her poetry, marveling that it was possible as he gallivants around, not offering much support. And once all that she had to give had been wrung out of her, once she was tired and sinking into isolation and depression, once she was no longer fun, he left her. And he didn't just leave her. Oh, no. He smacked her around emotionally. He had an affair. He left without warning or any hint of where he had gone. He stopped seeing the children. He told her that he had never even wanted children. So why would he accept any responsibility for them? Right? RIGHT?? He said that he had never grown tired of living in London, as he previously told her. He had just grown tired of living there with her. This woman, who he knew suffered from depression, was decimated. And he should have known. I have never in my life read about a bigger ass. I have sympathy for Sylvia. I'm not sure she could have been saved, but it feels like Ted Hughes killed her. And worse, this book even details a conversation he had with his pregnant, married mistress, where they casually wondered if Sylvia would kill herself. RAGE. ALL THE RAGE IN THE WORLD.It's also worth mentioning that the aforementioned mistress also killed herself when Ted reportedly left her for another woman. She also killed their daughter. This dude was a winner. And to add insult to injury, when posthumously publishing Sylvia's final poems, he rearranged them to suit his fancy, burying the poems she considered most important and her finest work in the middle of the book instead of anchoring it as she intended.A sad story. Very, very sad.
The Sharing Knife Volume One: Volume 1

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This is one of those books that I've owned for forever, but for one reason or another never picked up. So glad I finally got to it! It's a fantasy world filled with its own share of dangers, but the tone of the book is decidedly romantic. While I wouldn't directly compare this series to Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar books, I do think that readers of one would probably enjoy the other. The next book on my TBR is sitting at the library on the hold shelf, so in the meantime I plan on reading book two of this series. That way I can donate the pair of them to some lucky reader when I'm finished.
Lost Garden

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"Sometimes our passion is our ruin."This is what I was hoping would happen when I started the TBR project. That I would pick up a book that's been languishing on my shelf, and it would be the right book. This book is so beautiful. And so sad.I could tell you all about the details that made me put it on my list in the first place. England during the War. The threat of the Blitz. The Women's Land Army. A hidden garden. A hint of tragic love. I could tell you about these things, but it wouldn't feel right. This book, like the hidden garden at its heart, needs to be uncovered and understood piece by piece.Instead of telling you about the details, I'll try to tell you about my response to this book. This story is filled with emotions. So, so many of them. A complicated mix that makes them impossible to describe, which I think is the highest compliment I can pay to this story. The portrait of fear, desperation, regret, contentment, determination, wonder, loneliness, friendship, and grief (oh, the grief), combine to create, impossibly, a perfect love story. It is a perfect portrayal of love. Not a child's Disneyfied version of love. Not a comforting idea of love. It captures how everyone is locked inside their own body and brain, forever separate from everyone else. But we yearn for connection to someone else. We are desperate for it. That cocktail of emotion works in this book.This book is written in first person. It feels like you're sitting quietly in a darkened room, perhaps with a fire and a cup of tea, as a woman tells you about her search for...something. A home. And she tells us about what "home" truly is. And what she found along the way. Longing. Loss. Faith.I can't explain this book. It's like magic. I don't know how it works, and I'm not sure I want to know. Read it.
The Red Tent - 20th Anniversary Edition: A Novel

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This is a book that I've been intending to read for a really long time. Like, a decade long time. Which I think demonstrates how I was feeling about it. I intended to read it, which tells you that I thought I would enjoy it. But I kept putting it off, which tells you that I was skeptical about how much I would enjoy it. And in the end, even though I had some expectation of enjoyment, I was surprised by how absorbing the story was.I walked away really struck by how much of a woman's story this is. Not to say that I think men shouldn't read it, or that they won't enjoy it. That's not true. But it really is a story about women, what it means to be a woman, and specifically what it may have meant to be a woman in biblical times. The story is a fleshing out of the biblical story of Dinah, and while there's no evidence that things went down as Anita Diamant describes, it really feels authentic. This was a time when women were defined by their relationships to men. Daughter. Sister. Wife or Consort. Mother. And I've read some critical reviews that discuss the one-dimensionality or negative portrayals of men in this novel, but I don't think that's fair. The lives of men and women were incredibly separate in this time. Women were essentially possessions, and men didn't concern themselves with women unless there was some purpose to it. (Sex, service, or alliance through marriage.) This is different than portraying men negatively. Women spent little time with men. Sometimes they were kind. Sometimes they were indifferent. Sometimes they were cruel. Of course they were one-dimensional characters. Dinah only really got to know a handful of her brothers and her husbands. She was not even very familiar with her own son once he reached adulthood. Right or wrong, it was the way of things at the time, and it seems unfair to me to criticize the book for it.But that's all a digression. Like I said: what this book is really about is the world of women. Specifically motherhood. I have never been interested in being a mother. I don't particularly like children. But even considering all that, reading this story of pregnancy and midwifery and birth still seemed ... relevant. It had resonance. The book created a world of women, and even though I will never be a mother I still felt a connection to that world. It felt like my history. Which was weird, but nice. I was pleasantly surprised by it.
Fragment

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This book? This was a fun book. It was chock-full of scientific discussion about evolution, environmentalism, biology, and ecosystems, but since I've always had a hidden core of inept science nerd, that's okay by me. What I didn't understand still sounded plausible, and appealed to the part of me that researched DNA sequencing in high school. I understood enough to get the point, though, and as a result believed in the characters more.Speaking of characters: most of them are fodder for violent creature attacks! Hooray! Not much character development for many, but plenty of new, creative, and horrifying ways to die at the hands of an alien species. (Dissolved alive, anyone?) For those characters who are lucky enough to survive more than a few pages, there's still not a whole heaping lot of character development. But I liked Nell and Geoffrey and Andy, and whoo-boy did I hate Thatcher. (You need a good villain in a piece like this so you can wait breathlessly for his bad end.)But characters are not really the point in a book like this. The point is to imagine the possibility of new and frightening life forms who are capable of biting you in half and leaving the rest of you for the horribly creepy disc-ants. It's like one of those beloved-but-kind-of-horrible scary movies. You get to feel the fear while also yelling at the too-stupid-to-live characters on screen and speculating who will keep their head. Literally.In short, if you feel the need to analyze your book and discuss things like foreshadowing, and character motivation, and story arc, then I don't know why you would even bother. Seriously. Just enjoy the creepy monsters and move on, people. Have some fun.
I'm Perfect, You're Doomed: Tales from a Jehovah's Witness Upbringing

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"I was invincible because no one could hurt me more than I could hurt myself.".My biggest beef with this book is that it's not the kind of book I gravitate to. (Not exactly a fair criticism, I know. But I expected more humor and less brutal reality. I try to avoid depressing truth in my recreational reading.) t's essentially a story of a girl who's safely swaddled in a life that asks her to take no responsibility for her life, but to just drift along as she is given (or takes) what she needs as her right. (For example, she takes to visiting her worldly friend's home essentially every day, watching their television, attending their sinful holiday parties, etc., which gives her all the things she's missing at home without actually abandoning her self-righteous religious superiority. She, of course, is oblivious to the fact that she quickly wears out her welcome, and forces the family to have an awkward conversation about going home, already.) In exchange for this existence that requires no practical knowledge of life or responsibility, she gets to experience all the dysfunction that goes with people living cripplingly depressed lives. The combination of innocence and entitlement that, according to this memoir, Jehovah's Witnesses are raised to have had far-reaching consequences even after she left the church. She bounced from man to man, searching for a version of life that had all the security, predictability, and relative ease of life with the Jehovah's Witnesses, but without the soul-crushing misery and depression. Unfortunately, there's no such thing as a free ride.I'm mostly glad to be out of this book's head. It was a freaky and sad place to be.
Repossessed

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What a weird book. I'm not even sure what to say, here.The idea of a fallen angel (read: demon) taking possession of a body moments before death and living a human life is an intriguing one. There's all sorts of appreciation going on. Appreciating color, taste, touch, and even pain. There's the discovery that what was once exciting and novel can become routine and boring very quickly. And there's lots of discussion about...what? Faith? Religion? I'm not sure what to call it, but there's a definite implication that the suffering of hell is possibly, probably, at least in part, self-imposed. It's an idea I find interesting, and Neil Gaiman covered it well in the Sandman comics.But what makes this book so odd, and the reason I find it hard to decide what I think about it, is that it feels like it was written for an audience with more thoughtful maturity than your average teen. (Or at least the average teens I deal with in the library.) Kiriel/Shaun, honestly like any teenage boy, is obsessed with sex. Obsessed. Masturbation, making out, sex, the whole shebang. And it's covered a lot. I'm not personally opposed to this topic in teen lit, but it's something to be aware of. Then you've got all the philosophical musings. Free will. The nature of death. Human relationships. The relationship with god. It's complex stuff, but dealt with in a pretty simple way. The book was a really, and I mean really, fast read. Which is a bonus.So, I can't explain where I stand with this one. I was drawn in. I enjoyed the read in the way that I enjoy most decent books. But in the end, the story felt kind of ... ambiguous. I walked away with a shrug and a question. "Thank you. That was very nice. But...what am I supposed to do with this?" Which could be the sign of a really good book. The Printz committee certainly seemed to think so. I guess I'll see. If it sticks with me, odds are it was a good one. Either way, I didn't feel like it was a waste of time, despite how ambivalent this review seems.
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