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review 2018-05-08 23:29
The Great Alone
The Great Alone - Kristin Hannah

The setup and the beginning of The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah is intense in the characters, the setting, the situation, and the emotion. It has a sympathetic main character to care about. The events seem frighteningly real. However, as the book proceeds, it seems like a race to incorporate every bad thing that can happen into this one story. Let's just say that it goes too far and undermines the "reality" of the powerful setup of the book.

 

Reviewed for NetGalley

Source: www.memoriesfrombooks.com/2018/05/the-great-alone.html
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review 2018-05-04 00:38
The Great Treehouse War by Lisa Graff
The Great Treehouse War - Lisa Graff

 

There are a lot of things you should probably know to understand why a bunch of kids decided to climb up a treehouse and not come down.

- First Line

 

Imagine a never-ending sleepover in a treehouse with 9 of your best friends. Just so you know, the treehouse has a bathroom (but no stove), two floors, a craft station, a platform for deliveries, a skylight, and a zipline. The thing is, the kids are staying in the treehouse and refusing to come down until their parents give in to their demands. While a treehouse sleepover sounds amazing (and who wants sleepovers to end), 10 kids in close quarters can become stressful for even the best of friends.

 

Winnie originally stays in the treehouse every Wednesday - so her divorcing parents can have equal numbers of days with her. When Winnie realizes she is failing 5th grade and the only time she gets any homework done is Wednesdays in the treehouse, she decides to stay there permanently. But, will her parents ever see reason and stop fighting over everything being exactly equal??

 

The plot touches on issues like divorce, screen time, tv privileges, and other difficulties between parents and children.  It's an engaging story with realistic characters who love and support each other through everything. The format is a group memoir (written by Winnie) and there are cute illustrations and post-its from the other characters throughout the book.

 

 

Kids will love the idea of living in a treehouse with their friends and not having to answer to parents. (There is a plot point that prevents the parents or police from entering the treehouse which verges on ridiculous, but the kids won't mind.)

 

Recommended to: Grades 3 - 8, fans of realistic fiction, and reluctant readers. Fans of James Patterson's Middle School series will enjoy this one. :)

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review 2018-04-25 21:39
Wow! It's Great Being a Duck - Joan Rankin
(spoiler show)

Lillee is a bit of a rebel-- she doesn't have any desire to learn to swim or fly like her siblings, but wishes to go about things her own way. Wandering about while her brothers and sister are learning to swim, she encounters Mr. Furry-legs who shows her where some tasty nasturtium leaves are because she needs to get plumper. Day after day she wanders in the forest and meets this same friendly creature who shows her where something yummy to munch on is. One day Lillee realizes this is the very same bad guy her mother warned her about and suddenly understands staying with her family, learning to swim and fly isn't such a bad idea after all.

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text 2018-04-25 12:10
Another Audible 2-for-1 Sale: Classic Works
The Virginian - Owen Wister,Jack Garrett
Classic Novels: Meeting the Challenge of Great Literature - Arnold Weinstein,Professor Arnold Weinstein Ph.D. Harvard University
Steppenwolf - Hermann Hesse,Peter Weller
Roughing It - Mark Twain,Grover Gardner

I do enjoy the 2-for-1 sales. Audible never makes its entire inventory available in these sales but selects a couple of hundred titles to offer. Some sales I find nothing and some I walk away with hours worth of listening. 

 

Please don't read anything into my choosing both Roughing It and The Virginian. Slowly but surely, I seem to be consuming more and more Twain, and I especially like his travelogues. Meanwhile, The Virginian (and Steppenwolf, too) are returns to high school reads.

 

Then, to round out my choices, there is a "Great Courses" lecture series on Classic Novels, which will either be very enlightening or just simply pompous beyond bearing. 

 

 

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review 2018-04-16 03:15
The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
The Great Alone - Kristin Hannah

A special thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

 

Kristin Hannah's newest book takes place in Alaska in the 70s and 80s.  The land is wild, unpredictable, and harsh.  The Allbrights think Alaska will be their salvation, but for a family in turmoil, it will become the ultimate test of survival.

 

Ernt Allbright has returned from the Vietnam war a broken and volatile man.  After losing another job, he makes a rash decision to move his little family north, to Alaska, where he has been left property by a fallen soldier.  Here they can make a fresh start, live off the land and by their own rules.

 

Leni is thirteen and is the voice of reason in her parents' passionate and tempestuous marriage.  She hopes that the new opportunity will lead to a better life for her family.  Her mother Cora would follow Ernt anywhere, even at the cost of a relationship with her parents.

 

They seem to be adjusting well to life on the great frontier.  They have forged relationships with some men and women in the community that show them the ropes and how to survive.  Winter is coming and they need to learn how to prepare and survive the wrath of Mother Nature.  When winter arrives with dark days, Ernt's mental state suffers and he turns just as dark.  Life outside is nothing compared to life inside their small cabin.  The women are isolated—they are on their own with no one to save them so they must save themselves.

 

Hannah explores the resilience of the human spirit juxtaposed against the beauty of Alaska.  This is a story of love, loss, survival, and man against nature and himself.  I was completely caught up in the the story, it was absolutely riveting.  Hannah's writing is such a gift.  Her descriptions of Alaska were sweeping and vivid.  Alaska becomes a character and at times is the hero and other times is the villain.

 

The theme of survival dominates the story—the family are surviving the harsh winter and the women are surviving the harsh realities of living with a POW with post-tramatic stress.  Cora and Leni must carefully navigate Ernst's outbursts that lead to his explosive rage and violent outbursts.  Hannah does an incredible job in her execution—you hate Ernst for his abuse and yet you feel sorry for him because he is living with an undiagnosed mental illness.  The reader also flip flops with their loyalty to Cora—there is a level of frustration for staying with Ernst and exposing Leni to his violence, but on the other hand you pity her because she is a victim of domestic abuse.  

 

Hannah pens some dynamic supporting characters.  I just wish she would've come up with something more original than 'Large Marge'.  She creates a whole town of interesting personalities that are integral to the plot.  This is no small feat.             

 

The difference between 4 and 5 stars is because of the last part of the book.  There was a disconnect and I wasn't as invested in their journey by that point.  Without spoiling the ending, it didn't work for me.  I wonder if her editor made her rewrite it?  That being said, Hannah fans are going to love this book.

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