This book does a good job with hotel and restaurant recommendations but I don't feel like I have a great idea about what to do anywhere, especially inThis book does a good job with hotel and restaurant recommendations but I don't feel like I have a great idea about what to do anywhere, especially in Acadia. I know there's a separate book for the national park, but only 8 pages in this one, most of it just about the Loop Road and the Jordan Pond House, makes it not worth the money. I know I can use Tripadvisor to figure out what I want to do, but I like my travel books. I want all the details at my fingertips. I don't know if there are better books about coastal Maine, but there are definitely travel books with better layouts that I've used religiously for other parts of the world....more
1960 was a turbulent year. The Cold War was getting serious, with Eisenhower and Khrushchev using the Olympic Games as a propaganda platform and tryin1960 was a turbulent year. The Cold War was getting serious, with Eisenhower and Khrushchev using the Olympic Games as a propaganda platform and trying to woo athletes into defecting. The Civil Rights movement was gaining traction. Definitions of "amateurism" and the direction of future Olympics were being determined. For the first time ever, a few competitions were being televised. South Africa was trying to fight apartheid. Women were being accepted into more and more events but were still woefully underrepresented. All of these external factors came to bear on the landmark Olympic games set in the Eternal City.
I don't know that I agree that these Olympics "changed the world" but I would definitely agree that they showcased changes that were happening in the world at large.
I'm not a sports fan but I read this for the "Eclectic Reader Challenge" as a sports book that I might be able to tolerate. I was pleasantly surprised to find myself enjoying it. I can't say I particularly cared about all the details of every race and competition, but the personalities and the history were the driving force behind the book. I found myself taking away a series of striking mental pictures, some amazing, some that left me shaking my head.
Ethiopian Abebe Bikila running barefoot through the dark streets of Rome to win the Olympic gold medal in the marathon, becoming the first East African to win a medal.
South Africa arguing successfully that the reason there weren't any black athletes on their team was because they just weren't as talented as the white athletes.
Bing Crosby belting out "The Star-Spangled Banner" when an anti-American crowd was booing as it played for Eddie Crook, a gold-medal winning boxer.
Wilma Rudolph, who had polio as a child, gracefully running to a gold medal in the women's 100 meter, 200 meter, and 4 x 100 meter relay.
The shock and dismay of the old-school male committee members when women running the 800-meter (about half a mile) collapsed in exhaustion at the end. The event had been cancelled since 1928 for that reason.
Rafer Johnson hanging on through the final event, the 1500 m run, with grim determination to win the decathlon.
Weightlifter Yuri Vlasov marching into the Olympic stadium carrying the Soviet flag in one outstretched hand in the Opening Ceremony.
Rafer Johnson, the first African-American man to carry the flag for the United States in the Opening Ceremony.
Even though I really don't enjoy watching sports, I do love watching the Olympics. I think it's seeing these world-class athletes at the peaks of their careers that makes it special for me. But more than that, I'm a sucker for the background stories. I absolutely respect the hardship and sacrifice that the athletes endure to get where they are. If you enjoy these kinds of stories as well, you'll enjoy this book....more
I remember spending a few nights like this as a kid. It was nice to see someone else going through it and then finding the perfectly reasonable explanI remember spending a few nights like this as a kid. It was nice to see someone else going through it and then finding the perfectly reasonable explanations....more
Zack Lightman thinks he's losing his mind when he's sitting in math class one day, staring aimlessly out the window, and sees an enemy ship from his fZack Lightman thinks he's losing his mind when he's sitting in math class one day, staring aimlessly out the window, and sees an enemy ship from his favorite video game, Armada. He's always been afraid this would happen. Zack's father, Xavier, died in a work accident when Zack was an infant, leaving behind some journals that outline a vast government conspiracy to train civilians as soldiers for an upcoming struggle against extraterrestrials. Crazy, right? Zack was afraid he would lose his mind too. And now it appears that he has. Except that the next morning a futuristic ship lands on his school lawn and the men in black step out, calling his name and recruiting him for the battle to save the earth....
I didn't even realize Ernest Cline had published a new book until I saw Sheila over at Book Journey mention it. I knew I had to get my hands on the audio. I loved Cline's first book, Ready Player One, but didn't realize that Wil Wheaton narrated the audio version until after I'd read it in print. I wasn't going to miss out this time.
Wheaton's narration was everything I hoped it would be.
The book.... Well, my hopes were high. Cline knocked it out of the park with his debut novel. Armada was good but not great.
The world building just took way too long for me. I tuned out for long chunks of time during descriptions of the video game and the back story and past missions and unbeatable alien technology. That's not my thing.
Which leads into my other problem. I'm not a modern gamer. I'll at least mostly understand references to video games from the 80s and early 90s, and there's a decent chance that I've played them or at least watched my cousins and sister play them. I'm lost with today's games. I have no desire to join a vast online community of people talking smack to each other and playing war games. Totally not my thing. And I think that's the group this book is primarily going to appeal to.
I did like Zack and the other characters a lot. I was rooting for them all the way. I enjoyed their interactions with each other and their reactions to the situations they found themselves in felt real. Once I got through all the lead-up to the real story, I was hooked and I finished this audio book in record time.
I'm pretty happy with the resolution. There's definitely room for a sequel and, like Zack, I still have unanswered questions. Armada stands just fine on its own though.
Don't expect a repeat of the Ready Player One experience, but I still recommend it. As I said, I do think gamers will enjoy it more than the rest of us, but it's definitely a good book, especially in audio....more
When I have daydreams about packing up and moving to a new country, Spain is always the one that comes to mind. We visited in 2010 and just l2.5 Stars
When I have daydreams about packing up and moving to a new country, Spain is always the one that comes to mind. We visited in 2010 and just loved it. We felt welcome everywhere we went, the people seemed happy, and it just fit. Plus, my husband's bilingual. At least one of us could speak the language.
When I saw this as a free nook book, I had to download it. Here is a couple who did exactly what I would never be brave enough to do. And they aren't just moving to the city, which would probably be easier, but they're completely changing gears and buying a farm to breed alpacas. I'm not clear what the author's career was in England, but his wife was a dance teacher. Kudos to them!
I enjoyed the book well enough--it was cute--but I just felt that it needed to be edited a bit more. It is presented as a finished book, but it felt like pages from a journal. It was a bit disjointed with the flow being more along the lines of, "We did this, then we did that, then we did this other thing," with very little transition or filler.
And they have the worst luck with the alpacas! He kept saying that alpacas are supposed to be easy but I have to say, my grandparents and now my uncles have a small family farm with a few head of cattle. They have never had any kind of trouble like what I read about in here! I felt terrible for Alan and Lorna and the alpacas. They just had terrible luck.
Being so isolated out in the country, there's not a whole lot of commentary about how different things are. Well, there is, I just wanted more. Alan and Lorna are pretty self-sufficient with their farm and their animals, so it's not like they're making daily trips to the market or getting completely submersed in the culture. At least that's not what I took away from the book.
If you're looking for a cute enough read about some really cute animals and their brave owners, do go ahead and give this one a try. I personally just wanted a bit more depth and polish to the story....more
The story of the Fable refugees continues, this time with a focus on the many forms of storybook love.
I was much happier with this volume than with thThe story of the Fable refugees continues, this time with a focus on the many forms of storybook love.
I was much happier with this volume than with the previous one. I'm on firmer footing with love stories, however fractured they may be, than with a retelling of Animal Farm.
There's not really a big plot arc here--it's more like a collection of short stories than a novel, but I enjoyed them. I particularly liked the charming tale of the marooned Lilliputian army as well as Snow White and Bigby's continuing...denials. I'm from the Southern Appalachians, a region well-known for our "Jack Tales," so seeing one of those represented here was also a bonus. There was also a death I found to be shocking. I'd assumed this person would be around for a long time!
I still enjoy the quality of the artwork and appreciate the scope. From a typical, happily-ever-after quest tale to a gory blood bath, it's all represented well here.
I don't have much else to write except that I'll be picking the next one up sooner rather than later. If, like me, you were a little turned off by Volume 2, don't hesitate to pick up Volume 3. You'll be back in fairy tale territory....more
I don't know whether I feel like I just made three new best friends or if I just lost them. This was one of those books where I truly felt like I wasI don't know whether I feel like I just made three new best friends or if I just lost them. This was one of those books where I truly felt like I was part of the characters' lives, if only for a little while. I didn't want it to end.
Odette, Clarice, and Barbara Jean have been best friends since high school, when they earned the nickname, "The Supremes." Now that they're "women of a certain age," they're still fast friends--practically family--but they've hit a period of change. Odette, like her mother before her, has started seeing dead people. Clarice is getting tired of her husband of 40 years running around. Barbara Jean is as beautiful as ever, but is she strong enough to make a fresh start?
I can't quite say that I cried with these amazing women, although that was a close thing a time or two, but I definitely laughed with them, rejoiced with them, worried with them, and felt like I was living with them.
Odette is strong like the sycamore tree she was born in. She generally says what she thinks and gives everyone else their marching orders. The other Supremes and her husband James see that she has a gigantic heart under all that bullying though. One scene when she was a teenager facing down Barbara Jean's abusive stepfather had me laughing 'til I cried--on my way to work! I am not a morning person in any way, shape, or form. To be laughing at that hour of the day is pretty much unheard of.
Clarice can be a bit snobbish, but she's getting better as she gets a little older and wiser. She's been handicapped to be that way by her awful Mama. As she's growing, she's leaving her Mama's shadow behind, becoming her own woman, and finding her way to the life she really wants to live. I had to cheer for her.
Barbara Jean has had it rough from the beginning. She's experience more loss than anyone should ever have to experience. It's left her wounded and making decisions that aren't necessarily in her best interest. But she's a sweet soul who would do anything for anybody. She's the peacemaker of the group and always has been. She's just gotten to a point where she's tired.
The novel follows a year in their lives and flashes back into the past to some of the high points and a lot of the lows that they got each other through. Their friendship just felt incredibly real.
I mostly enjoyed the narration by Adenrele Ojo and Pamela D'Pella. I don't know who read which part, but the narrator who read Clarice's section was great. The one who read Odette's sounded a bit too much like she was just reading the text to me, rather than narrating, but when she read dialog, she really came to life. I'm also not clear why there were only two narrators in a book featuring three female points-of-view.
This is just a feel-good book that has left me sorely missing The Supremes. I'm glad for the time I got to spend with them though. Highly recommended. Thanks to Christina at Reading Extensively for bringing it to my attention....more
In a prequel to Cinder, Marissa Meyer explores the life of the Lunar queen everyone loves to hate. Levana. Why does she act the way she does? Why is sIn a prequel to Cinder, Marissa Meyer explores the life of the Lunar queen everyone loves to hate. Levana. Why does she act the way she does? Why is she such a raging bitch? Fairest gives some insight into those questions.
I'm finding this hard to rate. On the one hand, it is well-written and exciting and everything that I expect from this series. On the other hand, it's Levana. Oh my gosh! I despise this character!
I tried hard to find something to like and to see her as more of a victim than a victimizer and that worked for maybe the first part. Then she started being herself and I could not stand her!
The whole family is twisted and insane. Maybe that goes hand-in-hand with their Lunar "Gift." Levana actually looks pretty good compared to her parents and even her older sister Channery. But whether they've inevitably twisted her or whether it's a matter of genetics, she slowly starts manipulating everyone around her to get what she wants.
From the story of how she won her first husband to the story of how she became Queen rather than Queen-Regent, I just got more and more agitated as I listened. Even when people are trying to explain to her why she can't just order them to love her, she just doesn't get it. In fact, she's usually not listening but instead trying to figure out a new way to manipulate them.
A terrible incident from her childhood is alluded to throughout the whole novella. It's pretty obvious what happened from pretty early on. The details are chilling when they're finally revealed. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough for me to cut her any slack. I still can't stand her.
So this long rant about my dislike of a fictional character should actually say something about the quality of the writing. I'm obviously drawn right into Marissa Meyer's world. Narrator Rebecca Soler did an excellent job, as always. I got chills every time I heard her say, "Come here, baby sister." *shiver*
This really isn't the place to start with this series, despite the fact that it probably is the the first in the story timeline. If you've enjoyed the other books in the series, go ahead and pick it up. It is worth it to know more of Levana's back story. It feels like a good lead-up to Winter, the next book in the series, as well....more
Amy Gumm can't wait to get out of Kansas. A smart girl who doesn't fit in with her classmates, she's always the butt of their jokes. Her mom disconnecAmy Gumm can't wait to get out of Kansas. A smart girl who doesn't fit in with her classmates, she's always the butt of their jokes. Her mom disconnected years ago, leaving Amy to take care of both of them. Still, she doesn't expect to leave Kansas like this.
When a tornado blows through Amy's trailer park, she gets blown away to Oz. But this isn't an Oz any of us would recognize. The yellow brick road is fading. The Munchkins are enslaved. There are vast canyons where the magic has been mined from the earth. It turns out, Dorothy returned to Oz and is causing all this trouble. A league finds Amy and convinces her to help them, because Dorothy must die if Oz is to be saved.
First off, my seventeen-year-old cousin handed this to me, super-excited, and told me I had to read it. She rated it 5 stars.
I'm leaning more toward 3.5. It was exciting and I tore through it, but I'm just a little over YA series containing books that always end with more questions than answers.
I really liked Amy. She's got personality. The book is written from her point of view and she's very sarcastic and abrasive. I like her. She is what she is. She doesn't bother trying to fit in at her school because she knows she's got bigger plans for her future than any of the other kids. She stays true to herself. She's just not entirely who she is yet. She's not too sure about this whole "Dorothy must die" thing either, but she's going along with it because something has to change. She's always questioning what's "Good" and what's "Wicked." They've gotten all tangled up in this Oz. Yet, as one character points out, she always manages to do what's right. That's not always easy to determine, much less easy to follow through with. Points to Amy.
She's by far the most well-developed character, but I did like the others that I was supposed to like, I just have lots of questions about them. I like Nox, the guy who's training Amy, but I'm not sure if he's trustworthy. Luckily, Amy's not entirely sure either. There's another guy, Pete, who always manages to show up when Amy's in trouble and save her in the nick of time. I was dying to know what was going on with him! I finally got a surprising answer at the end, but that just led to even more questions. I really want to know what The Wizard's angle in all of this is. I'm not sure what to think about the other members of the order. They seem to believe that any means are justified as long as they take out Dorothy in the end.
The original characters are imagined pretty perfectly. What would Dorothy be like if she were evil? Probably just like this. Cute and childish and then suddenly imaginatively horrifying. The Lion is a ravening beast. The Tin Woodman is a heartless enforcer. The Scarecrow is a not-very-brilliant mad scientist. See? It all makes a twisted kind of sense.
I was surprised by how violent the book was. It wasn't anything that really bothered me, but there is a lot of blood and killing.
I do wish this book had answered more of my endless questions and ended on less of a cliffhanger, but I enjoyed it. If you're intrigued at all, go ahead and give it a try....more
Okay, this was weird. But it was a weird that I liked.
Astronomer Irene Sparks decides to move back to Toledo on the day that she almost simultaneouslyOkay, this was weird. But it was a weird that I liked.
Astronomer Irene Sparks decides to move back to Toledo on the day that she almost simultaneously creates a mini black hole in her lab and learns that her alcoholic mother has died. She's always wanted to go back home and work for the world-famous Toledo Institute of Astronomy, so when she's offered a job there, she jumps at it.
George Dermont is also an astronomer working at The Institute. While Irene's approach to the night sky is grounded firmly in reality, science, and math, George is fusing religion and science. In fact, the Goddess of Love is the one who gave him the secret to a Gateway that would explain a lot of astronomy's inexplicable problems. Seriously.
George and Irene are instantly drawn to each other, in ways they don't understand and can't explain. What they can't know is that their mothers used to be best friends and made a pact as teenagers to raise their children to be perfect soul mates for each other.
We all know by now that I'm that reader who is upset if I don't like any characters in a book. But you know what? I didn't really like any of these characters and I still liked this book. I must be growing as a reader! They had elements that I liked, and I definitely liked some more than others, but there's not one character here that I would want to spend time with in real life. Irene is so serious and career-driven and resentful of her mother (with reason) that I truly don't know what George sees in her. She has a boyfriend at the beginning of the book (Beallyon? Weird names are the downfall of audio books) and she's using him. I don't really know for what. Company? It's weird. Speaking of Beallyon, I actually kind of like him. He gets his own little subplot that didn't really resolve but that I did like. George is better than Irene but he's a spoiled playboy. His interactions with gods and goddesses definitely caught my attention. But Irene and George's mothers, Bernice and Sally, were really the force behind this whole story. The story of their friendship is shared in a series of flashbacks. It was painful to read. It was obvious what was going to happen between them pretty early on, so watching it unfold just hurt my heart. Bernice should have been the sympathetic character, but knowing how she ends up kills a little of that. Sally is just an insensitive bully. I'm not sure how Bernice puts up with her at all.
I liked George's gods and goddesses. I wish I could remember them all. The Goddess of Love has become more of a Goddess of Lust in modern-day America. We've also added a Goddess of Speed to the pantheon. Fitting, isn't it? She's always urging George to go faster and think less, to keep up before he gets left behind. There's also a very creepy encounter with Death. Holy moly.
I've seen Joshilyn Jackson speak several times and she always cracks me up. When I was searching for a new audiobook, I finally remembered to search for something she had narrated, so that's how I found this book. Her reading didn't disappoint. Empathetic and funny, she definitely kept my attention.
This is not going to be for every reader. It defies description and genre, and follows unexpected paths. But if your normal reading choices have gotten a little stale, go ahead and give this one a try. ...more
The Story of Land and Sea opens with young Tabitha contracting yellow fever on her tenth birthday. Her father and grandfather, having already lost herThe Story of Land and Sea opens with young Tabitha contracting yellow fever on her tenth birthday. Her father and grandfather, having already lost her mother in childbirth, are desperate to save her despite the limitations of 18th century medicine. Her father takes to the sea with her in tow, thinking that the sea air will cure her. After all, he took her mother to the sea when they first married and she blossomed into the woman he loved with all his heart.
Flashing back 20 years, Tabitha's mother Helen is a young girl receiving her first slave on her tenth birthday. Helen is a serious, bossy soul, teaching the neighborhood slaves on Sunday and becoming perfectly poised to take the reins of her father's turpentine business. And then she meets a soldier.
Hmm. That story I just described is exciting and I'd like to read it. This book is not that book. This book is much more Literary-with-a-capital-L. Instead of the action-y love story I was hoping for, I found a book that explores the holes that grief leaves in the lives of those left behind. It is well-written but I somehow felt removed from the story. I didn't feel like I really knew any of the characters; I only knew their grief.
The book does have a strong sense of place, which is what I was hoping for. I'm a North Carolina girl and we always spent our summer vacations on the coast when I was growing up. I was really excited when I realized that the book is set in Beaufort. We always spent a day exploring the town, eating ice cream at the marina, checking out the maritime museum, and choosing which yacht would be ours if we ever won the lottery. This post-Revolutionary War Beaufort is strangely colorless. It's hot and muggy, as it should be, but it's so hot that all the color has been bleached from the town. I can't describe it better than that.
There are definitely readers who will enjoy this, and they'll be readers who like their books to be more Literary and thoughtful than I generally do. Despite the beautiful writing, this really wasn't the book for me.
Thanks to the publisher for giving me a copy of the book for review....more