Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Winter Reading 2016 Girl Waits with Gun

My friend Anne loaned me this book and I am very glad that she did. I enjoy historical fiction, especially when it features strong female protagonists as this one does. Based on actual events, this story features the Kopp sisters and their troubles with Henry Kaufman, spoiled rich boy. On a trip to town in their horse and wagon, the sisters wind up trapped in the wreckage of their wagon after Kaufman crashes into it with his automobile. Angered by their attempts to get him to pay for the damages, Kaufman and his drunken and sleazy friends begin a campaign of terror against the girls. While all this is going on, the oldest sister (Constance) also gets involved in the hunt for a missing baby that belongs to one of Kaufman's factory girls.

The characters are so much fun - determined Constance, taciturn Norma, dramatic Fleurette, their exasperated brother Francis, the dependable Sheriff Heath, and all the unsavory group of Kaufman and friends. The setting outside Paterson, New Jersey and the time period of the early twentieth century with its Black Hand gangs, fear of Bolsheviks, union strikes, and the country's new obsession with automobiles seems so foreign to us. There is plenty of suspense, tense confrontations, family support, and laughs.

If you enjoy historical fiction, this is a great read.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Winter Reading 2016 Curio


Enter a world where the cure to a deadly plague has led to a terrible condition. Those who received the cure (and all their descendants), must now depend on a daily ration of potion from the Chemists to allow their bodies to digest food and get any nutrients from it. In Monument City the Chemists rule and the rest of the population obeys meekly or suffers a striping, a corporal punishment for an offense. Among the rules enforced are a mandatory curfew and no physical contact allowed between males and females. In fact, they are to maintain a 3-foot distance between the genders. To help men avoid accidentally touching a woman, all females are required to wear red clothing to make them stand out visually in a crowd. Grey is a young woman who comes from a family that has already lost a son to the Chemists and their punishments. When she gives her ration to a friend in need, it sets off a chain of events that upsets the balance within the city. Old secrets are slowly revealed and new alliances are formed.

The author does a wonderful job of showing the reader what it feels like to live under a repressive regime and to long for freedom. The characters all have well-thought-out motivations for their actions and even the things that seem puzzling at first come to make sense as the plot progresses. There are possible romances, sides to choose, and revolutions to organize - plenty of action, excitement, and intrigue to keep everyone's interest.

Perfect for fans of dystopian novels like Divergent, and there are many similarities between the two books; an isolated city, a girl who may have extraordinary abilities (if she can only discover them), power hungry leaders, etc.

I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Winter Reading 2016 Meet the New You

At the beginning of the year, many of us leaf through the self-help books, motivational guides, and Bible studies to start the next 12-months off in a positive way. For those who prefer a combination of these styles, there are books such asMeet the New You. In its pages, Elisa Pulliam takes her readers through a 21-day examination of their lives. Each day, readers look at their lives in various ways like making a list of everything that fills their time, or drawing out a life map of all their areas of relationship and responsibility. There are also websites suggested for tools to discover personality types and learning styles or uncover spiritual gifts.

Although there are probably many books that also suggest personality and learning style inventories, this one relates everything to Bible verses and biblical principles. The author gives brief examples from her own life, but never goes into overly personal details. She also uses quotes from other writers such as Beth Moore, Anne Ortlund, or Dave Ramsey, sharing ideas that she has learned during her own journeys of self-discovery. The length of her book fits well with the accepted wisdom that it takes at least 3 weeks to create a new habit. She also encourages you to stop and reassess your progress periodically to see if you have met your short term goals, are still on the road to your long term goals, or have been through any big changes that might cause a change in those goals.

For those who are looking for a thoughtful and detailed look at their life, this book breaks the process down into steps that can be taken day by day. There is plenty of space to record your thoughts (although the author also recommends keeping a journal to continue reflecting on the journey). Altogether it is a helpful and supportive manual for taking the time to examine your life, the ways you spend your time, and what you want to accomplish.

Click here for more information on the book, or here for author bio information.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Winter Reading 201 Batman, vol. 8: Superheavy

Batman is dead. Long live Batman. After Bruce Wayne's death fighting the Joker, Wayne Enterprises has been subsumed in a corporate takeover along with all Wayne's technology. The new owners have decided to continue the legacy of Batman by creating an incredible suit and finding the perfect candidate to wear it, working in conjunction with the police force to keep Gotham safe. And the perfect candidate is...Commissioner Gordon? So he trains, gets a haircut, quits smoking, and takes to the streets. But someone is out there creating new super villains, a mysterious figure called Mr. Bloom. Can a middle-aged policeman really live up to the public's expectations of their hero, especially if he is constrained by working within the law?

I have read Batman comics for years (we're not saying how many), and I like the idea of Gordon trying to continue in Bruce Wayne's footsteps. The story will probably grow on me (haha, little bloom joke there). This volume is all about setting up the plot, putting everything into motion, and providing some backstory about the characters. It seems a bit slow, and the jump between characters and timelines makes it choppy in places. Still, the new suit has some cool capabilities, the support team is young and diverse, and I haven't decided if I like the project's CEO. Although I feel a bit like Clark Kent during his cameo, that Bruce Wayne needs to be Batman, I'm willing to give this version a fighting chance.

Recommended for fans of the Bat and superhero comics. Violence may be a bit much for younger readers. T for teen.

I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

Winter Reading 2016 Star Trek/Green Lantern: The Spectrum War


Talk about an unexpected combination - Hal Jordan and other ring-bearers, along with several rings, are transported to the same dimension as that of Star Fleet. When an away team discovers a dead alien on a dead planet, they bring him and the rings that are near his body back to the Enterprise to study. Scotty, curious as always, bombards the rings with tachyon rays and energizes them. Suddenly Uhura, Bones, and Chekov have been chosen by the rings powered by positive emotions, while the other rings zoom off to choose a Gorn, a Klingon, and a Romulan as their wearers. And so it begins.

Seeing the faces of the Enterprise crew pictured as the actors from the latest movies (Pine, Quinto, Pegg, etc.), as well as seeing the Green Lantern joining forces with Star Fleet takes a bit of mental readjustment. Once that realignment is done, it is entertaining to see Chekov zipping around outside the ship as he practices with his ring, or to hear Kirk complaining that Jordan acts without thinking (takes one to know one). It seems that the evil, or at least very selfish, ring-bearers have found like-minded allies among the races outside the Federation, but they soon have bigger fish to fry. Nekron, the foe they were all fighting during those last moments in their own universe has also been transported and has begun his new bid to rule the galaxy by reanimating the planet Vulcan and all those who perished on it. (Yup, you heard it here - Vulcan zombies.)

The personalities of the Enterprise crew come through clearly in their dialogue, body language, and actions. The tensions between the Federation and the Romulans, Klingons, and Gorn are faithful to Star Trek canon, just as the portrayals of Hal, the other Lanterns, and their surviving allies also stay true to their own history. Although some readers may not care for this combination, there will be many fans who find the possibilities very attractive.

I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley.