Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Winter Sea by,Susanna Kearsley~~Review

None of the descriptions I have found of this book do it justice they all make it sound like time travel and it's not so I'll just say see the pretty cover the book lives up to the cover!

The Winter Sea by,Susanna Kearsley

This was a nice mix of historical fiction and a modern day story set in Scotland, this was recommended to me because I love the Outlander Series. First off this doesn’t have time travel as I’ve seen some people say it has genetic memories which was a new device for me, but it worked well. It was interesting how modern day author Carrie is writing her novel and the characters in her head tell her how the story should go then she checks the historical records and they match perfect so there is this little bit of genetic memory, possible ghost story. I have heard from authors when they talk about their writing process that the characters decide where the story goes and not the writer and how they feel like their characters come to life, so this was kind of a take on this concept.

Both the present day and historical stories are blended well with the historical story set during the Jacobite rebellion of 1708 which was very well done and researched. There is romance in both stories that kind of mirror each other but both are kind of chaste and bittersweet neither is a big passionate affair just a nice addition to the story.

I enjoyed this story very much and would recommend it to fans of historical fiction. I will be reading more by this author!

4 ½ Stars

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Variant (Variant #1) by Robison Wells ~~Review

Variant (Variant #1) by Robison Wells
Description: Benson Fisher thought that a scholarship to Maxfield Academy would be the ticket out of his dead-end life.
He was wrong.
Now he’s trapped in a school that’s surrounded by a razor-wire fence. A school where video cameras monitor his every move. Where there are no adults. Where the kids have split into groups in order to survive.
Where breaking the rules equals death.
But when Benson stumbles upon the school’s real secret, he realizes that playing by the rules could spell a fate worse than death, and that escape—his only real hope for survival—may be impossible.

My Review:
I’ll just start by saying I Want More!

This was a unique story, foster kid Benson gets a scholarship for a private school, thinking things are finally looking up he is excited to be given this chance, but as soon as he gets to the school everything changes and things are not at all what they seem.

This story kept me on the edge of my seat it was intriguing and action packed however it ended too soon and left me wanting the 2nd book right now! The writing was good and kept me guessing right along with Benson. I don’t want to give anything away so I will say I highly recommend this new Young Adult series and I believe Robinson Wells is an author to watch out for!

This book was kind of a cross between Lord of the Flies and The Hunger Games but I don’t really feel it is dystopian because I think it is happening in our time and I got the impression that the world outside the school is normal to our present standards.

4 Stars

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Ashfall by, Mike Mullins~~Review

Ashfall by, Mike Mullins
Alex lives in Cedar Rapids Iowa his parents have left him home alone for the weekend but it’s not the weekend he is hoping it will be when something crashes into his house and burns it to the ground you’d think that would be the worst of it but it is only the beginning. A Supervolcano in Yellowstone has gone off and changed the world as we know it; Alex sets off to find his family in a trek of survival, starvation and terror. Along the way Alex’s will is tested he does find some nice people that help him along the way but he also runs into people who would do him harm. He ends up at the farmhouse of Darla and her mother but tragedy strikes there too so he and Darla set off cross country to find his family.

The vivid descriptions of our world after the volcano the ash fall, the blocking out of the sun, the noise, the snow, and just trying to survive. This book doesn’t show our government in a very good light but honestly I could see it happening. Alex is a strong willed boy but Darla is strong and being a farm girl knows things about survival that city boy Alex never could. They make a great pair and I don’t think either one could have survived without the other. It was refreshing to have a male lead character yes there is a female but she is later in the book and compliments our male lead very well.

This book was scary in the way that this could really happen and since I live only a few states away from Yellowstone it hit home a bit. This book also made me curious enough about the Supervolcano that I looked things up and watched the BBC movie Supervolcano.

One of the best quotes from this book about the inhumanity these kids saw was...
“For the first time ever, I felt ashamed of my species. The volcano had taken our homes, our food, our automobiles, and our airplanes, but it hadn’t taken our humanity. No, we’d given that up on our own.”

I enjoyed this book and had a hard time putting it down and look forward to the next installment in this series. Though this is a series it did have a conclusion but with more story to come!

4 ½ Stars

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Snowflower and the Secret Fan by, Lisa See~~Nov.Book Club Pick

This was our book club's first pick and a great one it was! Everyone loved this heartbreakingly beautiful book; this book will stay with you long after you finish reading it. Highly recommended by all members of our library book club!

Susie's Review:This book is heartbreaking and beautiful all at the same time. I just want to go on and on about how much I loved this book. This book made me care so much about Lily & Snow Flower that the last part of the book broke my heart. Lisa See’s writing is so beautiful this story just flowed and was so hard to put down.

The foot binding part was so very hard to read about and the way women were treated was so appalling some of the things said that stood out:
The loss of a child is hard even if it is only a daughter.
Thank you Baba for raising a worthless daughter.
Better to have a dog than a daughter.

The relationship between these two women was so real, even with your best friend you will fight and make up and you may not be living the same type of life at the same time. The trials & tribulations these two women went through and the change of status was so fascinating to read helped along by the fluidity of the writing. As young girls Snow Flower seemed to have it all but thanks to Lily’s perfect little feet she found a prestigious match for a husband who I think through it all treated her with kindness for the most part in the day and age they lived in. Snow Flower was not so lucky and life was much harder on her.

I finished this book awhile ago for our book club and we will be discussing it tomorrow night so I waited so my thoughts wouldn’t influence what others thought of this book and they wouldn’t influence my review. I finished this about 2 weeks ago and am still thinking about it this book will stay with you and make you think and realize how far women have come!

I highly recommend this book to... well everyone!

5 Stars

Thursday, December 8, 2011

We All Wore Stars: Memories of Anne Frank from Her Classmates~~Review

We All Wore Stars: Memories of Anne Frank from Her Classmates by Theo Coster
Description:In 1941, Theo Coster was a student at the Amsterdam Jewish Lyceum, one in a class of 28 Jewish children that the Nazis had segregated from the rest of the Dutch population. Among Theo’s fellow students was a young Anne Frank, whose diary would later become one of the most important documents of the Holocaust. In this remarkable group portrait, Coster and five of his fellow classmates gather their personal stories and memories of Anne. The accounts collected here do not just help us to rediscover Anne Frank. They also stand on their own as remarkable stories of ingenuity and survival during the Holocaust--from Albert Gomes de Mesquita, who hid in ten different towns across Europe--to Hannah Goslar, who experienced the horrors of Bergen-Belsen but also made a miraculous reconnection with Anne days before her death.

My Review:
This was a very thought provoking book, we have all read her book or at least heard of Anne Frank but we’ve never heard about the kids from her class that survived. So many Jewish kids in the Netherlands went into hiding some were fortunate to be taken in with families that took good care of them some had freedom and some had to stay hidden.

This was a project that encompassed not only a book but a documentary too, (which I really want to see.) Theo Coster went looking for other classmates that also survived to see how they did it and to talk about Anne what they remembered of her, what was her personality really like and did as many boys have crushes on her as she wrote about in her now famous diary. Some of the survivors did end up in camps and some were in hiding with families risking their lives to help them, some hid in villages in the woods. A couple of the girls even saw Anne in Bergen-Belsen before her death.

These stories, as all stories of the Holocaust are so important to tell because the age of survivors is rising and their stories need to be remembered so these atrocities don’t happen again.

This book made me search out the documentary which I unfortunately could not find, but I did watch a different one about other hidden children of the Netherlands and the families that helped them are so amazing. But that is what a book like this should do is make you think, make you research and remember so nothing like this ever happens again. It also makes me want to go back and read Anne’s diary which I haven’t read in quite a few years.

I think this book should be a companion to The Diary of Anne Frank and any classroom that reads Anne’s diary should read this book along with it to hear from people that did survive to tell their tale.

I highly recommend this book.

5 Stars

I received this book from the Librarything Early Reviewers Program