It's the future and what was the U.S. has been demolished and what exists is the Capital (I'm thinking it's Denver) and 12 Districts (District 13 was destroyed). Katniss is 16 years old and lives in District 12 (Appalachia...think Tennessee). She's basically taking care of her little sister and mom because her dad died in a mine explosion/cave-in. To stave off starvation, Katniss sneaks out of the Districts fences and poaches for food with her friend Gale, an 18 year-old guy-friend.Enter THE GAMES. Once a year the Capital holds The Hunger Games which basically reminds the people that the Capital rules over everything. Every kid ages 12-18 has an entry into The Games. A boy and girl from each district are randomly chosen to represent in The Games, which a duke-it-out Death Game with only one winner.We know where this is going. Obviously Katniss is the girl representing District 12. To add to the problem, the boy chosen is handsome and nice Peeta who helped her years ago after her dad died.Why did I like this? I think Katniss rocks. She's taken the hunting skills her father taught her (including her prowess with the bow and arrow) and is now using them to save her life. She knows a heck of a lot about foraging for edible and medicinal plants. It just reminded me of all the books I liked growing up about self-sufficient kids. You know, My Side of the Mountain, Island of the Blue Dolphin, and of course Invitation to the Game.For some reason I kept imagining The Games to take place in some sort of arena, instead of them being dropped off in the wilderness. And obviously the deaths can be pretty gruesome because, well, you've got 24 kids killing each other in the wilderness.I immediately made my husband read it. He liked it but I don't think as much as I did. I put the next book on hold at the library and of course we're both going to read it.
Let me just say right here that I absolutely loved this book. LOVED it! Please go rent, borrow or buy this book and check it out! It's seriously one of my top favorite books I've read in the last few years.Here's the plot:It's 1934 and the Great Depression is in full swing in America. Jason and Whit Fireson have turned to bank robbing as their means of surviving. Jason is seeing Darcy Windham, the disinherited daughter of a wealthy automobile manufacturer. Whit has his hastily married wife, Veronica, and small son to look after. They've also left behind a mother mourning her late husband and a younger brother who is trying to make a living despite having the unfortunate last name of a couple of bank robbers. As the brother's notoriety rises, so does their fame with J. Edgar Hoover's team of newly created FBI agents tracking down America's public enemies.So this all sounds ok but what's the big hoopla about? Seriously, read the first chapter. The story starts out with Jason and Whit waking up naked in what appears to be their death beds in the back of a police station. They are assumed dead by the police and their death photos appear in all the newspapers. Thus begins the start of the many deaths of the Firefly Brother's as they attempt to score their last heist so they can retire. What happened that night?I loved how this book starts out and how the whole story unfolds. I loved each character even though they were all pretty flawed. I even enjoyed the side stories with Darcy, Veronica, and their brother Weston. The book is never boring. It's got police shootouts, bank heists, kidnapping, speakeasies, and really makes the setting of the Great Depression come alive.Go out, find this book and read the first chapter and I guarantee you will be hooked.
It's a part serial killer/murder mystery/love story/WWII novel set in Malta, a small island in the Mediterranean just south of Italy. Before this novel, I had never heard of the Siege of Malta. During WWII, it was pretty much the most heavily bombed place ever. Wow. The Allies were stationed on the island and were helping to fend off the Germans and Italians from invading.Enter the Information Officer, Max Chadwick, a British officer in charge of, well, information. Obviously with all the bombing going on, morale can be quite low. So Max is in charge of keeping certain information hidden that might hurt the campaign, while promoting the heroism and valor of the Allies and Maltese.On top of all that, Max is called in to check out the body of a young girl who was found dead, murdered. In her hands is the scrap of a officer's uniform. The coroner believes she was not the first victim. Obviously Max is in a bind: he can't let the Maltese people know that one of the Allied officers may be killing their girls. Creepily, some of the chapters are narrated by this unknown killer providing the reader with a disturbing glimpse into the killer's mind.On top of all that, Max is in another predicament. He's been seeing one lady while he's fallen in love with someone else.So this seems like a lot of stuff going on, but Mark Mills handles it wonderfully. The picture he paints is so vivid. Imagine constantly being bombarded day and night. Often, people just go up on roofs to watch the current wave of bombs. People have bomb shelters but they also hide in various tunnels throughout the island. They don't drive because the dust kicked up becomes a prime target. But life goes on.I think the setting is what I loved about this book. I'm big into the history part of historical-fiction. The murder mystery is an added bonus. The only part of the book I didn't quite like is the love story part. I don't want to have any spoilers, but it was one of those things where you felt for Max but he kind of shot himself in the foot on this one (figuratively, not literally).
Thought I was going to hate it but ended up loving it. A story of two sisters. A story of Leonardo da Vinci. Check it out.Synopsis:The story revolves around two sisters, Isabella and Beatrice d'Este. Isabella is the typical blond gorgeous beauty. And Beatrice is the younger, more wild and less traditionally beautiful sister. At first Isabella is ecstatic that she is engaged to handsome young Marquess of Mantua. And they are actually in love with each other. And poor Beatrice. She is engaged to the OLD Duke of Milan, Ludovico "Il Moro" Sforza,. I mean, hey, he's a Duke, but he's so old! The Duke is known for being wealthy, having mistresses, and being a patron to Leonardo da Vinci. He's also known for having Leonardo paint portraits of his mistresses. A famous example is the portrait of his favorite mistress, Cecilia Gallerani entitled "Lady with an Ermine."But against all odds, when Beatrice marries The Duke, this wild, dark-haired, lover of horses gets her husband to fall in love with her. And she become a great Duchess.And Isabella is at odds. Now she is slightly jealous. She's not a Duchess and she's never going to be immortalized by Leonardo da Vinci...like Beatrice will be. Not that Beatrice cares.So I thought I wasn't going to like this book because I thought Isabella was going to be a scheming evil sister and poor Beatrice was going to get trampled over by The Duke. But that's not what happened.Even though the sisters are separated, through their letters and life circumstances, they actually become fairly close and bond. I loved watching that unfold.And Beatrice became my favorite. She became such a strong capable Duchess able to woo and win her husband while becoming a fairly apt ruler herself.While this would have been an interesting story on it's own, folded in is the story of Leonardo's time under the patronage of The Duke. So we get to see tidbits of his life and art during this period and how and why he made them.
The story takes place pre-World War II, in 1937. Andre Szara is a Polish-born journalist working for the Russian newspaper Pravda. While just doing his job, he gets coerced into working with the NKVD (Soviet secret intelligence). Setting up base in Paris, Szara becomes pretty much a spy for Russia. He travels across Europe as a spy and a journalist, enlisting the help of an agent in Berlin with whom he develops romantic connections.Ok. So a spy novel. But Furst knows his history...sometimes a little too much. But I loved the cloak and dagger feel of the book and the time period was just crazy. I can't imagine traipsing around Europe right before WWII.I'm going to definitely check out his other books.
The Creed of Violence starts out on the Texas/Mexico border in 1910. Mexico is rumbling for revolution which is a problem for both countries because of Mexico's much-needed oil fields (hmmm...sounds eerily familiar). John Lourdes is a young agent in America's Bureau of Investigation (early FBI). His job is to take the criminal known as Rawbone and travel with him and a truck full of weapons across the border into Mexico undercover. Rawbone is working with the Bureau to gain immunity. Problem? Aside from the obvious dangers of working undercover in a country on the brink of revolution, Rawbone is John Lourdes dead-beat father. John Lourdes knows this. Rawbone does not.I really enjoyed this book for two reasons: the setting of the novel and the relationship between father and son. I could totally see why The Creed of Violence is being adapted in to a movie. What a violent and vivid portrait he paints of Mexico, the revolutionaries, the violence, and America's intervention into the fray. The setting sucked me into the novel but it was really the relationship between Rawbone and John Lourdes that kept me reading.Here's the first line of the book which is about Rawbone:"He was born in Scabtown the day Lincoln was assassinated at Ford's Theater." I love how it starts out. Rawbone is a criminal and a common killer. He never knew his father and his prostitute mom died when he was young. Left on his own he turned criminal. Honestly, I kind of liked him. He was sort of funny with a type of wit that made him a likable character. John Lourdes, ironically, had a similar sad upbringing. Rawbone was married to his mom and then took off when Lourdes was young. His mom passed away shortly after. But instead of turning criminal like Rawbone, Lourdes joins the Bureau of Investigation. He's angry at Rawbone and really wants to see him dead.But their journey together changes them. And that's the part of The Creed of Violence that I enjoyed. I'm excited to see how this book will be adapted to the big screen. I wonder who would portray Rawbone and John Lourdes.**Asked by Kelley and Hall to read and review.
1920's Brazil - remote mountainous region: Two sisters, Emília and Luzia dos Santos, parent-less, have just moved in to live with their seamstress aunt. The aunt teaches them the ways of the trade. Emilia and Luzia are as different as day and night. Beautiful Emília dreams of leaving the small provincial town, reads the fashion/beauty magazine, and designs her own clothing (often to the ridicule of the town's residents. Tall, independent Luzia, with a damaged arm from a childhood accident, has never let it stop her from becoming a confident seamstress. She too has dreams even though she knows her damaged arm prevents her from becoming a viable marriageable interest.The two sister's paths separate though when a group of cangaceiros (bandits), led by the infamous Hawk, converge on the town and take Luzia with them. Emília finds her escape through a hasty marriage to a wealthy doctor's son and moves to the city of Recife. Luzia becomes a well-known cangaceiro nicknamed The Seamstress and Emília becomes a wealthy socialite. However, girlhood dreams are never the same in reality. Emília has to hid her past and association with Luzia and must deal with high society prejudices and a distant husband with a secret. Luzia finds that every day life as a cangaceiro is not as thrilling as one might think. Communication between the sisters is non-existent and the two rely on clipping newspaper stories to keep in touch.The novel alternates between each sister's viewpoint. At the beginning I loved Luzia's voice and was always impatient to get through Emília's side to get back to Luzia. I just related more to Luzia over Emília's fashionable frippery. But as the story progressed, I fell for Emília's plight and just loved how she evolved. I have to say it did remind me of Isabel Allende but Frances de Pontes Peebles has a voice all her own. It is just vivid and beautiful. Be aware that while the Hawk's group of cangaceiro's often seem like Brazil's Robin Hood or Zorro...there are gruesome atrocities committed as well.I LOVED this book. I couldn't put it down. I loved Luzia. I love the scenes between Luzia and the Hawk. And Emília evolution from a selfish materialistic girl into the woman in Recife is just beautiful and often heart wrenching to read. Frances de Pontes Peebles depicted the Brazilian landscape and scenes so well that I almost felt like I was watching it. I can still picture in my mind the newspaper clipping and photo depicting the elusive Hawk and Seamstress' band of cangaceiros. The history of the Brazilian land and people is fascinating and I loved finding a book that depicted this unfamiliar time period.I also stumbled across Frances de Pontes Peebles blog The Art of Waiting and I am addicted. You should check it out. There's an section at the end of the paperback copy that I have which has an interview with Frances regarding her research and travels while writing The Seamstress. She actually went into the remote regions and talked with people in the very places she was writing about. No wonder the imagery is so vivid! And Frances' own ancestral history also takes a part in this story. I want her to write a whole other book/memoir depicting her adventures in writing and researching this book.
Gourmet Rhapsody takes place in the same affluent apartment building as The Elegance of the Hedgehog. This book, however, revolves around an elderly food critic, Monsieur Arthens, who is on his deathbed. The story flip flops between the food critic desperately trying to remember a specific food or taste while he revisits old memories of his lifetime. The rest of the story is narrated by the various people in his life: wife, cat, children, etc. Some of them liked him and some absolutely loathe him. (Almost every section of the audio book is narrated by someone else with a lot of flashbacks.)At first I did NOT like the food critic. Pompous. Vain. Wordy. But as I sat and knitted, I just started to salivate. I wanted to curl up with a glass of wine and listen to all the foods. (My husband just laughed at that because I am not what you'd call a foodie person.) And then I started to like ol' Monsieur Arthens. He's just on his deathbed remembering fond tastes and smells and experiences while all around him family and friends are judging him.Anyway, there you have it. I did like it. I want to re-read it (not listen) because there are so many things said that I loved. No dog-earring with audio copies.
The Coral Thief is set after the battle of Waterloo which marks the end of the reign of Napoleon. Now I've read books set during the French Revolution (Mistress of the Revolution is awesome) but nothing set during this time period.I'm a little torn over this book. I love the historical setting. And I wanted to love the characters...but somehow I just couldn't get close to them. There's a bit of romance, a bit of action, and a bit of Les Miserables going on.So here's the story:Daniel Conner, a student from Scotland, is on his way to Paris to study anatomy under the prestigious Jardin des Plantes. During the late night coach ride into the city, Daniel notices among the other passengers an attractive woman with a small child. He naturally strikes up a conversation with this lady on the long trek to Paris. The next day, he awakens on the coach to find the letters of introduction to the school missing as well as some coral specimens which were meant to be a gift for the school. Embarrassed and annoyed at his loss, he wants to know who this lady was and why she would steal these things. Daniel's quest for takes him into fascinating territories of post-Napoleon Paris.I loved aspects of this novel. I was fascinated by the historical era this book takes place in. Rebecca Stott really made post-Napoleon Paris come alive. The characters were also so interesting. There was naive Daniel who really evolved and grew up throughout the story. The heroine of the novel - the coral thief - well, I just loved her. What a strong leading lady. And then the whole Les Miserables aspect (there's a Cosette type child and Javert type police inspector).But the characters are the only problem with this story as well. They are a bit slippery. A bit mysterious. I couldn't quite get a grasp on them. Like the Coral Thief...I wanted to love her. She could really be one of my favorite literary characters...but the author kind of keeps her distance on the whole story. And I couldn't quite get what she was doing with Daniel.A Girl Walks into a Bookstore reviewed this as well and mentioned that the writer seemed "emotionally detached" from the story. I totally understand what she meant. I'd love to see this story expanded and/or adapted into a movie or something. I would still recommend it for the historical time period it covers. And the Coral Thief...we'll, she's still a really cool character.
What a scary book! I had no clue it was a zombie/vampire thriller. I kept on wanting to close my eyes during the gory/scary parts...like in a movie. But that obviously doesn't work with a book.I'll admit that it wasn't what I thought it was going to be. I guess I was expecting a little more, hmmm, originality from the maker of Pan's Labyrinth. That said...it's still a fun book to scare the living daylights out of you.And I do credit them for making a great merge between zombies and vampires and coming up with an ultra-scary character/monster.P.S. This is the first book in a trilogy. I had no clue about that. (Apparently I need to pay more attention to these things.) Had I known, I probably wouldn't have picked it up just because I hate hate waiting for the next book in series. But yeah, I'll probably read the next two books when they come out. Because I NEED to know how it ends. Darn you book.P.P.S. Am I the only one who wasn't too thrilled that the main character's name is Ephraim a.k.a. Eph. Kind of annoyed me in a mild weird way.P.P.P.S. I LOVE that it takes place in New York City because the whole rat thing was so insanely creepy. If you don't know what I'm talking about...read the book. I seriously get creeped out when I see rats in the park and the dogs try and chase them. Although we have bigger problems with raccoons and skunks (yes...I live in Manhattan). And I also found out, while reading this, about a cool piece of NYC history. I had no clue about the abandoned City Hall subway stop. I had to stop reading and look it up.