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Search tags: best-of-2014
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text 2015-05-13 14:27
2 more to feed your fantasy!
Some of the Best from Tor.com: 2014 edition - Pasi Ilmari Jaskääläinen,Carl Engle-Laird,Ruthanna Emrys,Maria Dahvana Headley,Charlie Jane Anders,Max Gladstone,Mary Rickert,Kai Ashante Wilson,Liz Gorinsky,Isabel Yap,John Chu,Adam Christopher,Daniel José Older,Seanan McGuire,Genevieve Valentine,Peter J
Grace Immaculate - Gregory Benford

i found two more non DRM freebies from Tor. com

 

Feedbooks

http://www.feedbooks.com/item/1000122/some-of-the-best-from-tor-com-2014 

 

http://www.feedbooks.com/item/327469/grace-immaculate 

 

Amazon

http://www.amazon.com/Some-Best-Tor-com-Tor-Com-Original-ebook/dp/B00P5JNNBE/ 

 

http://www.amazon.com/Grace-Immaculate-Original-Gregory-Benford-ebook/dp/B005KJJ4EO/ 

 

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2015-01-25 20:24
Taking Flight: From War Orphan to Star Ballerina - Michaela Deprince
Cry Bloody Murder - Elaine Deprince Cry Bloody Murder - Elaine Deprince

I love adoption memoirs and I love ballet memoirs, so it’s no surprise that I loved this book. I’m just going to go ahead and spoil everything that happens.

 

Mabinty was born to loving parents in Sierra Leone who treated her like a treasure even when other family members said it was a disappointment that she was a girl. They taught her to read at a very young age because their dream for her was an education. If you’re like me, you look at the photos first, and I was puzzled when I read that Mabinty was an only child, because there were lots of photos of her and her sister, who share a strong resemblance. Then Mabinty’s father was killed at his job in a diamond mine by rebels during the civil war, and her mother died of Lassa fever. Mabinty’s uncle took her to an orphanage, a real shady establishment, but at least there she was spared from starvation and being killed by rebel soldiers. She made a best friend there, also named Mabinty. (The children were ranked based by popularity and adoptability, so the two girls were known as Mabinty 26 and Mabinty 27, and referred to only by their numbers. Unfortunately there were only 27 children in the orphanage, so they were at the bottom of the pecking order and got the smallest amounts of food.) At one point our Mabinty finds an old copy of Dance Magazine. When she sees the ballerina on the cover, she knows that’s what she wants to be too. She was clearly born to dance ballet. All of this early material is told from a very authentic child’s POV. The bad people are fairy tale evil. Except it’s all real.

 

The whole orphanage had to evacuate to a refugee camp in Guinea. All the other children were given “family books” prepared by their American adoptive families, except our Mabinty. She is told no one wanted to adopt her because of her skin condition, vitiligo. So she reads her best friend Mabinty’s book, trying to live vicariously, but she’s heartbroken that not only was she not chosen, she’s going to lose her best friend too. But at the last moment she is told there is a family for her after all. Her best friend Mabinty’s new family has decided to adopt her too! So that was a fun surprise. And the mystery of the photos is solved.

 

I was even more surprised on the next page when we learn that her new parents had three much older living sons by birth as well as two sons by adoption named Michael and Cubby who had died of AIDS some years before. I realized I knew exactly who her new family was! I read her mother’s memoir/exposé Cry Bloody Murder in 1999. I had actually wanted to read it again, but couldn’t remember the name or the author’s name.

 

Having two children with the same name doesn’t work out, so the girls are given new American names, Michaela and Mia. They adjust to a very different life in the USA and the girls begin ballet lessons as soon as humanly possible. (Mia likes ballet okay, but she prefers playing the piano and oboe.) Then as the family is planning a trip to Scotland, the mom finds out about another girl from the same orphanage whose adoption has disrupted. “Can we take her?” she asks. “Of course not!” says the dad. “Do you know how complicated it would be to take someone else’s child to a foreign country?” “I mean can we adopt her?” the mom persists. The dad laughs. “I thought you wanted to take her to Scotland. Of course we can adopt her!” So Michaela gains another sister. During the course of the book, she gets three more sisters, but says almost nothing about them. I actually think that’s very smart. There was probably a lot of drama in their lives, and Michaela (and her mom who is the co-author) decided to keep that to themselves and give the sisters their privacy. There was definitely a focus in this book on keeping things positive.

 

However... I had a bad feeling that someone was going to die. I thought it was going to be sister Mia, but it turned out to be brother Teddy, who like his brothers was a hemophiliac and had contracted HIV/AIDS via contaminated blood-clotting product. I felt incredibly sympathy for this family, and I also admire their resilience. If even one of the things that happened to them happened to me, I would slink through the rest of my life barely getting by until at last I gratefully toppled into my own grave. But these people have dreams, drive, ambition, and a non-stop desire to help others. Which brings us to the ballet portion of this book.

 

I loved reading about Michaela’s dance studies and the competitions she was in and the different roles she learned. I would have liked even more about that but I know it’s hard to please everyone. I loved the part where she met Arthur Mitchell, and he gave her special coaching and truly terrible nicknames. And I loved when the family met Albert Evans at the New York State Theater but Michaela was afraid of him because he was wearing a camouflage pattern like the rebel soldiers in Sierra Leone. I loved when she found out who was the dancer on the magazine cover who had inspired her so much as a child (Magali Messac.) But it was sad reading about the institutionalized racism of the ballet world. I mean, basically, she encountered prejudiced assumptions everywhere (people constantly believe her to be her parents’ home health care aide) but it was particularly pernicious in the ballet setting. It seems as though nothing has changed much since Arthur Mitchell founded Dance Theatre of Harlem; it’s still incredibly unusual to find African-American ballerinas and there are as many bigoted stereotypes as ever.

 

Both writers, Micheala and her mother, were very modest about themselves. They had numerous opportunities to brag, but didn’t. I was very impressed at how Michaela’s mother could not only braid in hair extensions but could also create and dye a tutu from scratch. I’m glad that I had an opportunity to see Michaela dance with DTH during her year there, as I doubt I will ever see the company she is in now, the Dutch National Ballet.

 

Theme song: Dance of the Little Swans from Swan Lake by Tchaikovsky

 

Book design: I can’t discuss this topic anymore, but I can pass on the reaction of the librarian as I checked out this book. I have taken hundreds of books out of that library, some extremely bizarre, but I only ever receive comments on books about ballet. The librarian said, “What a beautiful cover!” and stared at it.

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text 2015-01-06 16:15
Cat's Best Romance Reads of 2014 That Were Not Published 2014
Painted Faces - L.H. Cosway
The Rosie Project - Graeme Simsion
Geek with the Cat Tattoo - Theresa Weir
Control - Charlotte Stein
Coming Home for Christmas: A Christmas in ParadiseO Christmas TreeNo Crib for a Bed - Carla Kelly
Much Ado About You - Eloisa James
Skypirate (The Coalition Rebellion Novels Book 2) - Justine Davis
Hunting - Viola Grace
The Dom Project - Heloise Belleau,Solace Ames
Three Little Words (Fool's Gold, #12) - Susan Mallery

Yeah. This is the last list of 2014 Best of Cat's Booknest. I think...

 

I reread a lot but we are not even going to go there. I don't really pay much attention to when a book was published before I select to read it (barring the very old school). 

 

Here are my great new to me reads of the year. A mix of trusted authors that I just can't keep up with and the bliss of newly discovered writers. 

 

Click on the Stars to see the review and the book title for the Amazon link. 

 

Enjoy!

 

Contemporary Romance 

 

Painted Faces  by L.H. Cosway 5 Stars

The Rosie Project: A Novel (Don Tillman Book 1) by Graeme Simsion 5 Stars

Girl with the Cat Tattoo (Cool Cats Book 1) by Theresa Weir 4 Stars 

Geek with the Cat Tattoo (Cool Cats Book 2)  by Theresa Weir 4 Stars

Almost Summer (Fool's Gold series) by Susan Mallery 4 Stars 

Two of a Kind (Fool's Gold Book 11) by Susan Mallery 4 Stars 

Three Little Words (Fool's Gold Book 12) by Susan Mallery 4 Stars 

Talking Dirty With the Boss by Jackie Ashenden 4 Stars

Just One Taste (Recipe for Love) by Louisa Edwards 4 Stars

The Theory of Attraction by Delphine Dryden  4 Stars

The Principle of Desire  by Delphine Dryden  4 Stars

The Dom Project (LA Doms Book 1) by Heloise Belleau  4 Stars

Serendipity by Judith Mcwilliams 4 Stars 

 

Control by Charlotte Stein 4 Stars* (This should have made my best of list)

Rock Addiction (Rock Kiss Book 1) by Nalini Singh 4 Stars*

Taken with You: Book Eight of The Kowalskis by Shannon Stacey 4 Stars*

While It Was Snowing: a novella by Elyssa Patrick 4 Stars*

 

*a 2014 pub but not on my other lists)

 

Historical Romance

 

Coming Home for Christmas by Carla Kelly 5 Stars

Fool for Love (Duchess Quartet Book 2) by Eloisa James 4 Stars

Much Ado About You (Essex Sisters series Book 1) by Eloisa James 4 Stars

BOXING DAY by Jill Barnett 4 Stars 

 

Paranormal, Science Fiction, and Fantasy Romance

 

Hiding (Return of the Nine Book 3) by Viola Grace 4 Stars

Hunting (Return of the Nine Book 6) by Viola Grace 4 Stars

Designing (Return of the Nine Book 7)  by Viola Grace 4 Stars

Skypirate (The Coalition Rebellion Novels Book 2) by Justine Davis 4 Stars

Balm by Viola Grace 4 Stars

Entwined (Darkest London) by Kristen Callihan 4 Stars

Micro Lena by Viola Grace 4 Stars 

Flight and Fantasy by Viola Grace 4 Stars 

 

My Guilty Pleasure Read

 

Transcendence by Shay Savage 4 Stars

 

Time Travel Caveman Romance. Enough Said. Well, he is non verbal so really enough said. 

 

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review 2015-01-04 12:58
Lex Luthor: Man of Steel by Brian Azzarello
Lex Luthor: Man of Steel - Brian Azzarello,Lee Bermejo

Genre: Action / Adventure / Alternative Universe / Superheroes


Year Published: 2005


Year Read: 12/31/2014

 

 

 

Publisher: DC Comics

 

 

Introduction:

 

Lex Luthor is well known as Superman’s greatest enemy and I have been wondering what his ideal world would be like if Superman is viewed as a terrible force of nature rather than the good natured savior of Earth. Well, we finally get the answer to that in Brian Azzarello’s story “Lex Luthor: Man of Steel” and it was truly one experience that I would like to relive over and over again!

 

What is this story about?

 

In this graphic novel, we are treated to the world of Superman through Lex Luthor’s eyes. In this universe, Superman is shown as a red eyed alien menace that covers his true intentions by acting as the world’s greatest savior and Lex Luthor believes that he is actually the world’s only savior. This story also goes into detail about how Lex Luthor tries to create a female clone of Superman called “Hope” who also saves the world, but under Lex Luthor’s watch.

 

What I loved about this story:

 

Brian Azzarello’s writing: Now, I will admit that when I first heard about this book and saw on the cover that Lex Luthor had a blood stained “Superman” sign on his chest, I actually thought that this story was going to be about Lex Luthor literally becoming “Superman” and we would see what the world would have been like if he was Superman. However, Brian Azzarello turned my expectations on its head by actually making this story about how Lex Luthor himself viewed Superman as a person and how he knows that Superman is not really a human being and that he believes that Superman is tricking the public into thinking that he is mankind’s savior. This line of thinking really brings so much depth to this story as we finally get inside Lex Luthor’s head and see how he views Superman and how he wants the perfect world for the citizens of Metropolis and we get to see a more humanized side to Lex Luthor in his quest to make a better world for people, according to his views. There were actually some parts in this story where I actually did sympathize a bit with Lex Luthor about how he truly believes that he is the true savior of the world and not Superman and it makes me see his viewpoint of Superman in a new light.

 

Lee Bermejo’s artwork: Probably the best part of this graphic novel was Lee Bermejo’s artwork as they look truly gorgeous and I really loved the way that the characters’ bodies and facial expressions look so real that I actually found everything in this story to be believable! I also loved the way that Metropolis is being drawn as it feels like I am exploring the insides of an actual city!

 

 

What made me feel uncomfortable about this story:

 

For anyone who does not like language in a graphic novel, there is some language in this story, but it is not as strong as some other graphic novels out there. Also, there are many moments where people are put in real danger and the scenes that involve the Toyman might either be too frightening or intense for some people.

 

Final Thoughts:

 

Overall, “Lex Luthor: Man of Steel” is probably one of the best Lex Luthor stories out there and I would highly recommend this comic book to anyone who is a huge fan of Lex Luthor!

 

Review is also on: Rabbit Ears Book Blog

 

 

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review 2015-01-04 12:40
Horton and the Kwuggerbug and More Lost Stories by Dr. Seuss
Horton and the Kwuggerbug and More Lost Stories - Dr. Seuss

Genre:  Animals / School / Rhyming / Lost Stories


Year Published: 2014


Year Read:  2014

Publisher: Random House        

 

 

 

Who would have believed that I would find some stories written by Dr. Seuss that were actually lost for many decades? I was quite surprised when I picked up the latest book by Dr. Seuss called “Horton and the Kwuggerbug and More Lost Stories” and read the stories that have not been published for decades and I was always wondering when I read this book about why these stories were never published in the first place.

 

In this short collection of lost stories by Dr. Seuss, there are a total of four stories including an introduction about how these stories came to be by Charles D. Cohen.

 

Horton and the Kwuggerbug

 

In this story, Horton meets up with a small bug called the Kwuggerbug and the Kwuggerbug tells Horton of a Beezlenut tree where the sweetest Beezlenuts grow and said that he could lead him to the tree if Horton carries him there. However, Horton will soon realize that the Kwuggerbug is not as innocent as he seems!

 

Marco Comes Late

 

When Miss Block asks Marco about why he was late to school, Marco then weaves a tale about how a bird ends up laying an egg on his head and how he meets up with two worms and two large cats who argue with each other about whether or not Marco should keep the bird on his head.

 

How Officer Pat Saved the Whole Town

 

When Officer Pat notices a small gnat flying around Thomas the cat, he then realizes that the gnat could cause so much trouble on Mulberry Street if it bites the cat and causes a catastrophic chain reaction that could destroy the town!

 

The Hoobub and the Grinch

 

The story starts out with the Grinch (no, not that Grinch) trying to sell a piece of green string to the Hoobub and telling him how the green string is much more useful than the sun.

I have to wonder about how come these stories were never published when they originally came out during the 1950s (even though the introduction by Charles D. Cohen explained why these stories were lost in the first place) as I found these stories to be just as entertaining as Dr. Seuss’ mainstream works. Dr. Seuss has once again woven an extremely creative and hilarious set of stories that will be memorable for both children and fans of Dr. Seuss in general and I really enjoyed the creative rhyming being woven into this book as they gleefully tell the stories in a humorous way. Probably my most favorite story out of this collection was “Horton and the Kwuggerbug” since I am a huge fan of Horton in general and the story about Horton being taken advantage of by a small bug really speaks out to me! Dr. Seuss’ artwork is as usual creative to look at as the characters have exaggerated features that really bring out the hilarious activities that they get involved in.

 

Overall, “Horton and the Kwuggerbug and More Lost Stories” is a fantastic collection of the lost stories of Dr. Seuss that anyone who is a huge fan of Dr. Seuss will easily enjoy! I would recommend this book to children ages four and up since the stories are enjoyable for small children!

 

Review is also on: Rabbit Ears Book Blog

 

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