This is not a book I would have picked up if it hadn't been my book club's pick of the month, but it ended up being an interesting read. Definitely inThis is not a book I would have picked up if it hadn't been my book club's pick of the month, but it ended up being an interesting read. Definitely intended for alcohol aficionados who are curious about the different ingredients that make up the drinks, this book goes plant by plant, describing the history and flavor notes of each one and how it's used in various alcohols.
As mentioned above, this is definitely a book aimed at those who enjoy hard alcohol and I'm not one of them, so some of it went over my head, as I couldn't vividly recall the flavor profiles of different liquors or truly place how each ingredient makes the flavor of each liquor unique. I did, however, find some of the stories and histories of plants quite interesting and this gave me a nice history of how humans have used all sorts of plants to satisfy our alcohol cravings throughout the years. This was nicely researched and broken down, with each plant featured anywhere from part of a page to a few pages. There were also a number of recipes that seemed interesting to try, since they were provided specifically to enhance certain flavors.
For my own purposes, I'd probably give this book three stars, but it was interesting in parts and I can see how it'd be a good book to have on hand and reference. I'd highly recommend this to people who enjoy alcohol and are curious about how plants give alcohols their distinctive flavors. Definitely interesting tidbits in here!...more
I started reading this book unsure about what to expect. It's a script, so I knew that the experience reading it would be completely different from reI started reading this book unsure about what to expect. It's a script, so I knew that the experience reading it would be completely different from reading the seven books, and I wasn't sure if I'd enjoy it based on that. Also, two family members read it and didn't like it, so that gave me additional pause. I hesitantly started this, but you know what? I enjoyed it quite a bit. No, it's not the original books and isn't nearly as good as them, but I thought it was a strong, clever story and I'm curious to see this in person!
This takes place eighteen years after the Harry Potter series ends and stars Harry's and Ginny's son, Albus, heading to Hogwarts for the first time, where he becomes friends with Draco's son, Scorpius. Albus and Scorpius don't really fit in with their classmates (probably why they're drawn to each other) and they decide to be heroes by using a time-turner and going back to save Cedric Diggory from his fate at the Triwizard Tournament.
Despite the script format, this was actually quite easy to read and follow. Because most of the characters are already well-known to readers, they sprang to life easily, and the new characters were strong as well. I enjoyed Albus and Scorpius and understood their awkwardness at not fitting in. There was also a thread about the strained relationship between Albus and Harry, and while Harry doesn't come across as the most likable person, I could understand where he was coming from and why he acted the way he did (even though I didn't agree with his overbearing nature at times). I think perhaps his personality is what prevents some people from liking this book, but looking back - there are moments in the original series where Harry isn't being particularly likable; he's often moody, angry, dismissive, or whatever else, and this is forgiven because he's the main character and you relate to him. Here, he isn't the main character and I think it's harder to overlook his flaws because he is the parent of one of the main characters.
I found this story quite clever and really enjoyed the way it interspersed the present (with Albus being at Hogwarts) with the past (when Harry was at Hogwarts). There were a lot of scenes and plenty of magic, so I'm not quite sure how it would look on a stage, but I hope to go and find out at some point! The story in here was very singularly focused, so there are certainly other characters that aren't featured in here, or aren't featured much in here (like Harry's other son, James), but because this is a play and not a book, there's only so much time to encompass it all. I feel like if this had been written as a book, it would be more "complete", with more characters and more scenes, but it is what it is.
This was entertaining and clever, and it was more elaborate than I pictured a play being while not being as elaborate as a novel allows. I enjoyed the peek at everyone's lives after they left Hogwarts, showing the legacy that Harry Potter left and the struggle for his kids to live up to the Potter name while also showing how the now-adults (like Draco and Harry) formed an unlikely alliance of sorts, now that they have the wisdom of maturity and were no longer having to live up to expectations themselves....more
Like so many others, I first heard of this book when Oprah announced it as her new book club pick, and although her picks have often been hit and missLike so many others, I first heard of this book when Oprah announced it as her new book club pick, and although her picks have often been hit and miss for me, this one sounded interesting. This tells the story of Cora, a young slave in Georgia who runs away one night and heads North on the Underground Railroad (portrayed in this book as an actual railroad underground), stopping in various cities along the way while trying to avoid the slave catches Ridgeway and learning that being "free" does not mean "equal".
I enjoyed so much about this book, although it was also not the easiest book to read simply because of the terrible history it depicts. The author obviously did a lot of research to get this story right, and I found it fascinating to read about the differences in each state Cora lands in, how her life is significantly different based on various state laws. The help that she receives (and doesn't receive) along the way gave me a deeper understanding and appreciation for the risks people took in order to help slaves escape, as well as the various reasons someone might be willing to help (or not). In these regards, this is a book that did a great job bringing this history to life and allowing the reader a better understanding of what horrors went on in slavery without necessarily dramatizing it.
The portrayal of the Underground Railroad as an actual railroad was an interesting depiction, but I don't know if it actually added anything. It was an interesting take on it for sure and also allowed Cora's journey to move faster than it could have if she'd actually been helped along without taking a ride on a real train, but I feel like it also slightly lessened the help that she received along the way because the train was an invention and not an operation run by so many people. Maybe this is just me, or perhaps this was a deliberate metaphor specifically designed to inspire conversation about the help people lent. Whatever the case, it felt distracting.
While I found this book quite interesting overall, parts of it were written or put together in a way that left me confused. The narration jumped around a bit so we could see lives of various characters and understand their motivations, and it also went back and forth in time. The main story in here was a powerful one and I can see why this would be a great book for people to read for better understanding of a terrible time in American history, but there were parts (including the end) that I don't feel like I truly understood. Perhaps the railroad metaphor and the ending was just to signify that this is all a journey, with no singular end or single journey/track. At any rate, this is a book to inspire critical thinking and conversation....more
3.5 stars. This was an entertaining, if light, read. David Desh was formerly with special forces, now a civilian brought in to help locate and capture3.5 stars. This was an entertaining, if light, read. David Desh was formerly with special forces, now a civilian brought in to help locate and capture Kira Miller, a brilliant scientist who is extremely dangerous and rumored to be working with terrorists to launch a bioterror attack. As David looks into Kira, he realizes that he's being watched too and that not everything might be quite as it seems. Perhaps she's not guilty of everything they've told him... but he doesn't know if he can really trust her or anyone else. She's clearly brilliant and everyone claims she's made a breakthrough in improving human intelligence, but at what cost?
This was a really quick read, with a lot of action and little character development. I enjoyed the storyline a lot, with a plot that continually pressed on and plenty of plot twists. It read like a standard thriller, but with a plot that felt very similar (or perhaps inspired by) Limitless because of the discussions of how to expand minds and intelligence and the consequences that came with it. I never quite knew where the plot would go next, so I kept reading on, curious what other twists would occur. The author definitely did a good job on that part, keeping the story moving forward at such a quick pace.
On the other hand, much of this action came at the expense of character development. Most of the characters were pretty flat, without any depth and with personalities and traits that fit nicely into boxes. There was the brilliant computer hacker without the greatest handle on personal interactions; the ex-special forces guy who's only interested in the trust; the brilliant scientist (Kira) who wants to trust the guy tasked with chasing her (David); and then a whole slew of bad guys who only existed to be villains. Also, there was a scene at the end with the main bad guy explaining how everything had happened and why - having a villain explain everything to the main character is pretty convenient for the reader!
I enjoyed the storyline of this and found it to be a quick, entertaining read, but it wasn't amazing by any means. I kept reading because I liked the twists and I was curious how it'd end, but it didn't have a ton of depth to it and I wish the characters had been more developed. This was definitely brain candy - good enough to be enjoyable, not great enough to be truly satisfying. Entertaining and light....more
It's been a while since I read Red Rising and now that the whole trilogy has been published, I figured I'd read the second book and finish it all up.It's been a while since I read Red Rising and now that the whole trilogy has been published, I figured I'd read the second book and finish it all up. This picks up a few years after Red Rising ended, with Darrow still undercover as a Gold (the highest class of people in his society; he's actually a Red, the lowest class). Darrow is brilliant and basically untouchable, yet he has enemies that want him dead - like the family of someone he killed while at the Institute and will stop at nothing to bring him down. Meanwhile, Darrow isn't sure what's happening with the underground society he's been working for, since he hasn't heard from them in ages.
This book started out well but I lost interest as it went on. I wish there had been some bigger, more cohesive overarching plot, yet this felt like just a string of short scenes where Darrow might be in peril.... but then he'd already planned for the eventuality or he uses some brilliant strategy to get out of trouble. There were so many characters that I occasionally forgot who people were or their motivations, and I had a hard time identifying with or truly caring about them. There was also such a heavy focus on the world's politics that it kind of bogged the story down for me.
Every time I picked the book back up, I had to remind myself of what had last happened, and eventually I decided I wasn't enjoying it enough to spend the time finishing it. Clearly I'm in the minority, since there are so many rave reviews for this! I just wasn't particularly captivated....more
Crow is a zombie, but a different type of zombie than you'd think - he's a living dead boy, still growing and living but definitely not alive. He stayCrow is a zombie, but a different type of zombie than you'd think - he's a living dead boy, still growing and living but definitely not alive. He stays inside with his mom all day so no one knows what's happening to him, but then a new family moves next door and their daughter is determined to be friends with Crow. She's his first friend since he became the living dead boy, and Crow's thrilled to have a friend, especially since she guesses his secret and doesn't seem put off in the slightest. They go to the park one night and catch sight of Meera, a shape shifting monster that can grant wishes, and might even be the monster that brought him bad to life as a living dead boy. If Crow passes its tests, he might be granted the wish to be fully alive again.
This was a cute idea and an entertaining story. The author must have had a lot of fun writing this and I can see how kids would enjoy reading it. The story is clever and different from other books I've read, and I appreciated the new take on a "zombie story". Crow is a nice main character and I liked the friendship that developed between he and Melody.
The story was very simple, as expected from a middle grade novel, and although I did like the story, parts of it seemed slightly stagnant - not standing still exactly but I think parts were supposed to feel more exciting than they did, and although I was intrigued by the story and curious where it would go, I ended up not finishing and instead just skipping to the end to see how it'd wrap up. I think I'm just not the right audience for this, since it was a clever book, and I imagine that the target audience will enjoy it more than me!...more
This chronicles the double life of Clarence King, who served as the first director as the U.S. Geological Survey and was well regarded as a geologistThis chronicles the double life of Clarence King, who served as the first director as the U.S. Geological Survey and was well regarded as a geologist and writer, good friends with many well-known people of the day, including Secretary of State John Hay. Although his friends believed him to be a bachelor, King actually created a double life for himself, passing as a black man named James Todd, marrying a black woman, Ada, with whom he had a number of children. He only told Ada his true identity on his deathbed.
This book was fairly uneven. I was quite intrigued by the story itself, but the actual reading experience wasn't great and I finished it feeling like a lot was still missing. The actual story in here is fascinating, especially because it's true and about a public figure. The whole concept of race and "passing" (mostly black for white, but white for black in this case!) is such an interesting topic, and this book explored a lot of racial themes. The whole question of what makes someone black, even if they look white, and how fluid race can be, is very difficult to quantify. I liked the way this book explored the idea of race and depicted the lengths to which one man went in order to marry someone of another race.
While the themes and general ideas in this book were great, I never felt truly captivated by the story. Yes, there were interesting parts and the author did a nice job with the research of this story; however, because not a lot of historical documents exist for parts of this story, especially for Ada's childhood and their lives together, much of it was just conjecture. For example, the author gave a nice depiction of what typical situations were for blacks born into slavery right before the Civil War (as Ada was); because documentation about Ada's own childhood does not exist, there were a lot of statements such as "She might have ___" or "It's easy to imagine___". I realize it's difficult to depict a subject who didn't leave much public record, but the speculation on what her life might have been like made this all too often quite vague. Likewise, not much documentation exists from Ada and Clarence's lives together, so although there's enough evidence to state that he did live a double life and seemed to be truly in love with her, their day to day life together was all conjecture.
I'm glad I read this book, as it nicely captured race relations at the time and as the years passed, but it was very uneven overall. There weren't enough concrete details to truly capture their lives, and the parts that were more known (such as his geological discoveries) were downplayed more and more as the book went on, instead focusing on the little that was known about their marriage and speculating on how the blanks (such as how Ada and Clarence met) could be filled in. I think the author probably did her best, using all the historical documents that remain, but because so much was unknown, this may have worked better as a feature story in a magazine, trimmed down to only the known facts....more
There was nothing particularly wrong with this book, but I had a hard time getting into it. Yuri is a physics genius from Russia brought to the U.S. tThere was nothing particularly wrong with this book, but I had a hard time getting into it. Yuri is a physics genius from Russia brought to the U.S. to help solve the problem of what to do about an asteroid traveling toward Earth, with an impact supposed to happen in seventeen days. He's extremely socially awkward, unable to relate to the Americans he's working with (all much older than him) and has no friends until he meets Dovie, a girl he instantly falls in love with and gives him incentive for solving the asteroid problem.
I only read about a third of this book before setting it down, realizing I wasn't enjoying it enough to finish it. There wasn't anything specifically wrong with this book - the plot was unique, the characters were different, and the concept was clever.... but it just never seemed to come together cohesively enough to make me care. There was some humor in here, which I found amusing, but I think the characters were just too awkward to feel real. Yuri was so socially awkward that I couldn't figure out why Dovie liked him or why he liked her, aside from the fact that she showed interest in him. Meanwhile, all Yuri's coworkers kept dismissing his ideas (convenient for the plot), which begged the question of why they'd brought him over from Russia in the first place.
I can often overlook plot holes if I like the characters enough and I can overlook weak characters if I'm interested enough in the story, but neither in here really seemed to take off. I didn't dislike this book by any means, I just kinda lost interest and realized I was just reading because it was here and I didn't not like it... I see plenty of good reviews for this book, so perhaps it's just me. Definitely a different book from others I've read, and I appreciate the author's attempt to make this stand out; it does!...more