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review 2018-01-24 19:30
More middle school SF adventures with surprising heart
Edison's Alley - Neal Shusterman,Eric Elfman

Refer to review of book 1. More of the same, with excellent middle-in-a-trilogy structure. Still fun, still sly, still pacy and full of surprisingly insightful and/or emotional commentary on people and our world. Great consistency and easy to read - got it down in one sitting. Highly recommended series for middle schoolers, and I'd say it's pretty appropriate for MG readers in mid to upper elementary as well. Romance is mild - on/off dating and a bit of kissing, and any violence is handled in a humorous way.

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review 2018-01-09 04:44
great book and great characters
Tempting Fate: A Colorado High Country Novel - Pamela Clare

Naomi was a fighter , she had a hard life and no one to turn to. Naomi made jewelry and supported herself. Naomi does have a lot of insecurities. Naomi was vacationing vacationing in Colorado and met up with some bad people. Then Chaska discovered Naomi and he rescued her. Winona took Naomi in while she recovered. Chaska is part of a volunteer research and rescue team. Chaska is a Lakota Indian. Chaska was also an aerospace engineer. Winona  ran a wildlife sanctuary and has a wolf named Shota. Winona and Chaska are not close to their parents but are close to their grandfather and called him” Old Man”. Naomi felt like she didn’t belong anywhere.

I absolutely loved this book. I loved how Naomi grew in this book. I love Chaska and Naomi’s relationship grew instead of just jumping in. This was a sweet and easy read that held my attention all the way through. I loved how the author weaved the Native American heritage namely Lakota’s in this book. I did choke up at times while reading this. I love the I loved there was some mystery and suspense mixed in with romance and history. I really loved how gentle and understanding Chaska was with  Naomi. Winona and Old Man definitely added to this book. I love the characters and the ins and outs of this book and I highly recommend.

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review 2018-01-08 14:20
"The Liars Club" by Mary Karr
The Liars' Club - Mary Karr

The Liars' Club is steeped in a strong blend of Texas scenery [oil rigs and nutria rats], sounds ["He's not worth the bullet it'd take to kill him"] and it's stifling stickiness as much as it is run through with the horrors and trauma Karr experienced as a child. 


What is worth the price of admission though is Karr's writing. She draws on the rhythms and turns of her Texas dialect to craft sentences that are evocative and unexpected. And they always serve the story, from the heat of a Texas summer to the smell of her stepdad's breath the whys of the story and the imagery of it are always linked in ways that make for a really engaging book. Even in framed stories, anecdotes her father is telling at the bar and she is passing down to us, his shape and movement, the intrusions of his friends in the titular "Liars' Club," add to the story in a way that is more than just a painted background on which to picture the story.


Karr's story is full of sweet, heartfelt moments, absurdity, humor and trauma.  It's easy to picture a very different book with the same material, but the way Karr structures her telling moves the trauma away from the center of the story. It makes the book about her family and not what has happened to them, and also makes those moments more impactful. 


"That afternoon, for the first time, I believed that Death itself lived in the neighboring houses. Death cheered for the Dallas Cowboys, and wrapped canned biscuit dough around Vienna sausages for the half-time snack."


If you've heard about the book you may have heard about the more lurid incidents, her mother threatening her with a knife, for instance. These scenes are major parts in the story, but they never feel central in the way they might in a tell-all by the subject of a story that got national media attention, or a book that will get made into a typical Lifetime-style movie. For one, you don't see them coming. The only one she forecasts in detail is the night with the knife, but there are several other deeply disturbing incidents throughout the book. The story about the knife itself arrives suddenly at the end of one of Karr's long chapters. Others kick off chapters. At least one comes suddenly in the middle of the chapter.


It's a shock to read at times, but may be the healthier way to write. We are so used to building to such dramatic moments, but there is no inevitability to an assault, or an emotional breakdown, sometimes things just happen. It's terrible, but it's also a way of keeping your own story. Karr is not a sum only of these abuses, she's also her father's storytelling, her mother's erudition, a take-no -shit-attitude and much else besides. Which makes it more appropriate when Karr ends years later with her family still together. Her mother who held the knife, her father who got too drunk, Karr and her sister, sharing their traumas and the many other experiences that make up their lives. I think a hopeful note is the tendency for the ending of memoirs, but it rings true here because throughout the book Karr has always seen through the worst times as a bug not a feature.


If you've not gotten onto The Liars' Club yet, I highly recommend it. It's a straight shame I hadn't moved sooner to read Mary Karr after hearing her interviewed and reading and excerpt from The Art of Memoir. 


Side note: I picked up my copy of Mary Karr's memoir in the last indie book shop in San Antonio [Twig Book Shop at the Pearl Brewery if you're ever in town]. I try to find local bookshops any time I travel and buy something of local interest. I have trouble explaining my intentions sometimes — I'm more interested in fiction or memoirs that happen to be here than the local "Images of America" installment — but it starts a conversation and leads to some unexpected treasures.

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review 2017-12-10 14:10
Für die Fortsetzung wünsche ich mir mehr Augenmerk auf Rory
Bitterfrost: Mythos Academy Colorado 1 - Jennifer Estep,Michaela Link


Die neue Serie aus der Welt der »Mythos Academy«!

Mit ihrer »Frost«-Reihe begeisterte Jennifer Estep unzählige Fans in Deutschland. Doch ist der Kampf gegen Lokis Schnitter wirklich vorüber? Auf der Mythos Academy in Colorado geschehen besorgniserregende Ereignisse, aber nur wenige erkennen die Zeichen. Rory Forseti ist eine von ihnen. Trotz ihres jungen Alters hat sich die Spartanerin bereits im Kampf gegen Loki bewiesen. Dennoch ist sie eine Außenseiterin an ihrer Schule, denn ihre Eltern waren Schnitter – Verbrecher im Dienste Lokis. Rorys Vorsätze, endlich Freunde zu finden, werden über den Haufen geworfen, als sie Zeugin eines Mordes wird. Und wie sich herausstellt, stecken auch noch Lokis Schergen dahinter! Rory kann nicht zulassen, dass erneut Menschen durch die Schnitter leiden. Als eine Spezialeinheit sie für den Kampf gegen den Feind rekrutiert, gibt es für Rory kein Zurück mehr.


Meine Meinung

Nie hätte ich damit gerechnet, dass Jennifer Estep mit dieser Grundidee nochmal in die Vollen greifen würde. Nun geht es von der Mythos Academy in North Carolina zu der bereits bekannten Academy in Colorado. Bereits im Buch „Frostfluch“ mochte ich dieses kühle Setting, mit seinen Holzelementen und nordischen Gottheiten sehr gerne.

Absolut gern war ich mit Rory und den Greifen an den Eir-Ruinen.


Auch die neue Prota, Rory Forseti kenne ich bereits als Gwens Cousine, der sie bei dem entscheidenden Kampf gegen Loki zur Seite stand.

Anfänglich glich mir dieser Reihenauftakt zu sehr dem Reihenauftakt um Gwen. Rory alias Gwen, Rory’s Tante Rachel nahm die Rolle von Gwen’s Großmutter ein und dann begegnet auch Rory an ihrem ersten Tag nach den Ferien einen mysteriösen und gutaussehenden Jungen.


Aber die Autorin ließ diese Gemeinsamkeiten Gott sei Dank im Sand verlaufen. Sobald der Mord passierte und Rory der neuen Gefahr gegenüberstand, konnte man merken, dass Estep einen anderen Weg nimmt.

Toll finde ich die Idee der Spezialeinheit namens Midgard.

Dieses Wort hat in der Mythologie eine tolle Bedeutung und passt perfekt.


Natürlich lernen wir durch diese Gruppe neue Schüler und Lehrer kennen.

Team Midgard besteht aus dem Samurai Takeda, dem Wikinger Ian, dem Römer Mateo und der Walküre Zoe. Wie mir bereits der Kreis um Gwen Frost sehr gut gefiel, so konnte ich auch hier gleich jeden Charakter ins Herz schließen. Vor allem Ian, der anfänglich stark gegen Rory ist, hat in diesem Band seine ganz eigene Geschichte zu erzählen.


Die neue Gefahr im Leben der Mythos Academy Schüler ist eine neue Art von Wesen und ein Mann namens Sisyphus. Wer ist er? Wer sind seine Helfer? Schüler dieser Schule? Was will er?

Natürlich sind die überlebenden Schnitter wieder auf der Jagd nach einem Artefakt. Sehr schnell fasst das Team Midgard jemanden ins Auge, der die Verbindung zu Sisyphus darstellen könnte.


Und dann kommt Schwung in die Geschichte. Die Bösewichte zeigen sich. Erste Kämpfe werden ausgetragen und es gibt Verletzte und Tote.


Am Ende des Buches gibt es sogar ein kleines Wiedersehen mit Gwen.

Allerdings wünsche ich mir für die Fortsetzung der Reihe, dass Rory als Charakter vorherrschend auftritt. Der Auftritt der Heldin Gwen stellte ihre Cousine Rory wieder ein wenig in den Schatten, das fand ich schade.


Mein Fazit

Es war mir eine Ehre, wieder an einer Mythos Academy zu sein.

Mir gefällt der Standort in Colorado noch besser und auch Rory und ihr Team Midgard gefallen mir sehr. Für die Folgebände erhoffe ich mir, dass sie sich weiterhin hinsichtlich der Story von der bekannten Reihe entfernt und weiterhin spannende Geschichte, viel Mythologie und Action vorkommen werden.

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review 2017-11-11 06:54
Thoughts: Close to Heaven
Close to Heaven: A Colorado High Country Christmas - Pamela Clare

Close to Heaven
by Pamela Clare
Book 5 of Colorado High Country

A few days prior to publishing this book, Pamela had written a blog post about how Close to Heaven was supposed to have been a Christmas novella, but that it ended up being long enough to be novel-length.  So rather than being a Christmas novella special for the Colorado High Country series, it is now the fifth installment of the series.

As I finished the second half of the book, I couldn't help but wonder whether, maybe, this story would have worked out better as a shorter, novella-length work.

This isn't to say that the book was terrible, but I certainly felt like it dragged on the last half of the story.  I easily saw Pamela's vision and direction for Close to Heaven, but I'm not sure it was necessarily a smoothly executed one.

Nonetheless, even with my misgivings and conflicts about how this novel was presented, I can't deny that, as usual, Pamela always creates a great story, story premise, and characters, with a lot of heart.

The Story:
It is about a month before Christmas and Scarlet Springs is expecting a wintry snow storm in the next few days.  Rain Minear has been feeling lonely ever since her daughter left for college, and she hasn't been able to catch the eye of her boss, Joe Moffat, whom she has been in love with for the past twenty years.  During the night, she starts to wonder if maybe it's time to move on with her life, and maybe start over in another place away from her childhood home of Scarlet Springs.

What she doesn't expect is that her roof would collapse because of the heavy snow, and she would be left without a home, all too suddenly.  Fortunately for her, Joe is generous and caring, and offers to house her at his home until the snow clears and she can find a place to stay.  Unknown to Rain, though, is that Joe has also harbored the same feelings for her these past twenty years, but has never felt right acting on them due to his own rules for not messing around with his own employees.  On top of that, a sordid family history has also influenced Joe's outlook for his own future.

This Christmas, however, it seems that life has some other plans for the both of them.

My Thoughts:
The first thing that came to mind, surprisingly, was the fact that I had thought Rain was younger--the way she'd been described from the first book, I had had the impression that Rain was in her early twenties, or something.  Apparently, I was a little off, or just didn't really pay attention, even though she was one of the side characters I'd hoped to see a story for.

So when the summary came out that this was Joe's and Rain's love story, I was intrigued.  Throughout the series' first few installments, Joe is clearly an older man--which, at least I didn't mistaken his age.  I wondered how this relationship would play out, my mind thinking that Joe Moffat, in his forties, had at least twenty years on Rain, whom I'd thought was in her twenties.

Then Rain was introduced in this book as thirty-seven years old.  Okay, not as young as I'd thought, but still ten years younger than Joe, according to the narration.  It's still a bit of an age gap, so we can still play on that age gap thing.  Or at least, for a while, it was one of the reasons Joe gave for not making a move on Rain.

Even though that particular reason seemed to NOT be a reason, left behind and forgotten.  It was still a significant factor, of course--Rain had gotten pregnant twenty years ago, with a man ten years her senior, who then proceeded to abandon her.  So Joe didn't want to come off like that jackass.

Then, reason after reason came out for why Joe never made a move on Rain for the past twenty years...  TWENTY YEARS.  And we'll come back to these reasons, but, really, I know Rain has her own misgivings, but twenty years is quite the time for two adults to be lusting after each other NOT to notice.  And twenty years is also a long time for Rain to hold a crush on a guy and not do anything about it--she seems like the straight-forward type, and certainly she held no misgivings about making any moves during the course of this story.

I guess that's why we have a story.  And maybe all it took was for her to have a random opportunity.  Like, say, maybe being stuck living in Joe's home while she awaited her insurance claim, and for the snow to melt off her crumpled property.  And maybe for Joe to get a few hard-ons while she's around so she could finally conclude that maybe Joe was interested in her as much as she was interested in him.

I don't know.  It just seems overly convenient a plot.

Anyway, as for Joe's own issues:  He pretty much refuses to make a move on Rain for so many reasons.  His ancestor was a terrible, terrible man who had taken from people, murdered, and forced sex on his own female employees.  And Joe was of the notion that he didn't want to be anything like his ancestor, Silas Moffat.  In fact, Joe's guilt and shame, brought on by all the horrible things that ancestor Silas had done when the man first settled in Scarlet Springs about a century ago, has even made Joe feel like the Moffat name should die with him.  After all, according to him, his grandfather was also a horrible person, and so was his own father.

Somehow, Joe came out the decent man in the Moffat line.  And he's worried that he'd end up starting a family, giving birth to a son, who ends up inheriting previous Moffat male characteristics for evil-doing.  Apparently with all the knowledge and smarts that Joe has, he hasn't figured out the concept of "Nature versus Nurture."  Nor has he stopped to wonder that he was able to become different from his previous male relations.

So Joe refuses to make a move on Rain because she's his employee and he's ten years her senior; he doesn't want to abuse his authority over her.

It just seems like a lot of wasted time, you know.  Twenty years goes by, and even while the two of them are good friends and colleagues, working well together to run the bar, restaurant, and brewery, known as Knockers... well, it just seems like a lot of wasted time where someone could have made a move, or someone could have recognized feelings, whether lust or deeper.

Close to Heaven is up to Pamela Clare standards as far as characters, writing, and heart are concerned.  The schmaltz factor is more subtle in this book.  However, the ending half felt a little dragged out, even after our couple finally acknowledge feelings.  Because then we're just spending time slowly ambling towards that Happily Ever After as the days move forward towards Christmas.  Like, that maybe Christmas was the ultimate end location for this story, and everything from the mid-mark where Rain and Joe finally reciprocate feelings, moving forward, was just filler until the time was right.

I'm not saying it was terrible or anything.  It was sweet and enjoyable and heart-warming--probably what our lovely author was aiming for.  But I just felt like maybe that section of the book could, maybe, have been shortened a little bit.  Because I couldn't help but get the feeling that that latter half of the book went on forever.  And it makes me feel bad, because I DO love a great Pamela Clare romance novel, and Close to Heaven was, once again, very sweet, even if a bit frustrating on Joe's part since he was being so stubborn about Rain.

I mean, for crying out loud, she practically jumped him, and then paraded around naked in front of him, and he STILL thought he'd be the one in the wrong if he made a move.  Even after Rain tells him that she wants him.

And so, props to rain for not letting herself get stuck on this relationship.  After a couple of rejections, she finally just moves herself on and stops her own advances.

But enough of that.  The Happily Ever After happens, feelings are reciprocated, and the book was enjoyable on certain levels.  I'm satisfied enough.


The 16 Tasks of the Festive Season

16 Festive Tasks -- Yuletide

I read Close to Heaven for Square 9 -- YuletideA book that is set in the midst of a snowy or icy winter.  Most of the book takes place during a big snow storm that pretty much closes down the entire little town of Scarlet Springs.

Meanwhile, as I was reading this book, I found how many other squares this book would fit.  Although being that this book is the fifth in an ongoing Contemporary Romance series, I don't know how much this helps.


  • Square #1 | Calan Gaeaf:  There is a supporting character named Rose.
  • Square #4 | Penance Day:  Our MC, Joe spends most of the book struggling over his guilt over the terrible things his ancestor had done to people over a century ago, and feels that he needs to give back to the community what his ancestor took from them.
  • Square #5 | Advent:  There is a Christmas tree showing in the background of this book, which, of course, is a pine tree.  I don't know how much of a stretch this would be since it's a little hard to see unless you look closely.
  • Square #7 | Saint Lucia's Day:  Obviously, snow features as one of the main events in this book, which is kind of what gives our couple a reason to end up stranded under the same roof.
  • Square #10 | Pancha Ganapati:  There is red on the cover.
  • Square #11 | Soyal:  This book is set in Colorado.
  • Square #13 | Christmas:  The MC is named Joseph Moffat.
This book also takes place leading up to Christmas, if that will count for one of the Holiday Book Joker options.



Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2017/11/thoughts-close-to-heaven.html
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