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recent reads, mini reviews: the rest

Lately I’ve been fairly MIA when it comes to blogging. A new house, new dog, basically a new lifestyle have all joined forces to put blogging on the backburner. Because of that I haven’t been reviewing what I’ve been reading – and I’ve been reading a lot lately. More than I usually do which is pretty odd (though, when I think of it, I’ve also made some new changes with my reading as well!)

Yesterday I discussed some Middle Grade graphic novels I’ve devoured over the past few weeks and now it’s time for the other books!

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff | October 20, 2015
This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do. This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

Eek. Let’s cut to the chase: I didn’t like this book. At all. Part of me feels it’s my fault since I read it immediately after a Harry Potter binge. Naturally any other book would pale in comparison. But I also feel that, while I’m CLEARLY in the minority here (lower the pitchforks!) Illuminae is also partly to blame for being oh so confusing.

God bless that blurb because I honestly couldn’t understand what was going on in the book itself. I totally get why other readers are going crazy over this one and I wish I would have felt the same, but I never found myself fully invested. Why was the planet under attack? When does the story take place? Dates all read ’75, but what century? 1975? 2075? 3075?? There were references to current music and films and the feel I got was overwhelmingly contemporary, yet Illuminae is set in a different universe (??) where AI have taken control.

I desperately wanted to love this one and I thought the formatting was fantastic: Illuminae is told entirely through IMs (again, what year is this??) e-mail, surveillance camera logs, etc etc. But Edgar Cantero did it way better in The Supernatural Enhancements.

Thank you, netgalley + Knopf!
Mornings on Horseback by David McCullough | January, 1981
Mornings on Horseback is about the world of the young Theodore Roosevelt. It is the story of a remarkable little boy, seriously handicapped by recurrent and nearly fatal attacks of asthma, and his struggle to manhood: an amazing metamorphosis seen in the context of the very uncommon household (and rarefied social world) in which he was raised.

His father is the first Theodore Roosevelt, “Greatheart,” a figure of unbounded energy, enormously attractive and selfless, a god in the eyes of his small, frail namesake. His mother, Mittie Bulloch Roosevelt, is a Southerner and celebrated beauty, but also considerably more, which the book makes clear as never before. There are sisters Anna and Corinne, brother Elliott (who becomes the father of Eleanor Roosevelt), and the lovely, tragic Alice Lee, Teddy Roosevelt’s first love. And while such disparate figures as Abraham Lincoln, Mrs. John Jacob Astor, and Senator Roscoe Conkling play a part, it is this diverse and intensely human assemblage of Roosevelts, all brought to vivid life, which gives the book its remarkable power.

If you know me, you know my love of Teddy. You also know I’m a HUGE fan of nonfic, even more so when it’s nonfic audio. Teddy Roosevelt, David McCullough, and Edward Herrmann – a trifecta of legendary proportions. Excellent narration, excellent writing, excellent subject.

This book takes a step back in time, before Teddy ever became President. Back when he was Teedie and idolized his father. Back to his childhood and my oh my it was fantastic. You know those books where you just want to gush over them IN ALL CAPS AND !!!! That is Mornings on Horseback.

This larger-than-life figure had a lot to live up to with his father’s name and live up to it he did. The best parts, though, were the talk of his children and how much Teddy loved them and loved being a father. ♥

Read this, listen to this, get your hands on a copy somehow or some way. TR was a fascinating person and the wild ride that was his childhood didn’t disappoint one bit. That said, I would love to read more about his sister Bamie. In a surprising twist, this was my 100th book of the year and I couldn’t think of a more perfect book for that milestone.

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie | 1934
Just after midnight, the famous Orient Express is stopped in its tracks by a snowdrift. By morning, the millionaire Samuel Ratchett lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside. One of his fellow passengers must be the murderer.

Isolated by the storm and with a killer in their midst, detective Hercule Poirot must find the killer amongst a dozen of the dead man’s enemies, before the murderer decides to strike again…

I’m still a relative newcomer to Agatha Christie, only having read Death on the Nile after a very sad attempt at powering through (read: ultimately abandoning) Hallowe’en Party. With Nile I discovered an incredible dramatization that completely held me captive – and only clocked in at 2 hours!

Shortly after finishing Mornings on Horseback, I wanted to jump right into another audiobook, but didn’t want to invest too much time. Enter Ms. Christie. I came across another dramatized version, this time Murder on the Orient Express and was thoroughly charmed. For the whole five of you who haven’t read this one I won’t spoil it, but I’ll just say the ending was excellent. While it might seem overplayed a bit these days, I can see how thrilling and exciting the Big Reveal would have been when this one was first published. Well played, Agatha!

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline | August, 2011
In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines, puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. When Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win—and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

Such a cool premise, but I sort of ruined this one for myself by reading reviews and letting them affect my opinion. A good friend has been gushing over this one for ages and it’s been on my To Read list since it came out. I’m currently on a wonderful almost-3-week vacation and decided that would be the perfect time to finally get around to reading this one.

The ultimate nerd book, hands down. A virtual reality universe has practically taken over: you can go to school, work, play, essentially live through OASIS. When the creator dies without any heirs, his multi-billion dollar fortune is up for grabs…assuming you know where to look. Ready Player One is 80s nostalgia overload and, while I was born in the 80s and therefore too young to have been around for any of this, I’m certainly familiar enough with the movies, music, video games to get the jokes and references. What I wasn’t a fan of was just how easily everything came to Wade. We’re talking total Gary Stu here. Apart from that, I enjoyed this one and think it certainly deserves its hype!

Deceptions (Cainsville #3) by Kelley Armstrong | August 18, 2015
Olivia Taylor Jones’s life has exploded. She’s discovered she is not only adopted, but her real parents are convicted serial killers. Fleeing the media frenzy, she took refuge in the oddly secluded town of Cainsville. She has since solved the town’s mysteries and finds herself not only the target of its secretive elders but also her stalker ex-fiancé.

Visions continue to haunt her: particularly a little blond girl in a green sundress who insists she has an important message for Olivia, one that may help her balance the light and darkness within herself. Death stalks both Olivia and the two men most important to her, as she desperately searches to understand whether ancient scripts are dictating the triangle that connects them. Will darkness prevail, or does Olivia have the power to prevent a tragic fate?

After falling HARD for the first two Cainsville books I couldn’t wait to get my hands on Deceptions. A socialite discovers she’s adopted and that her biological parents are serial killers. Evil fae. Omens galore. Welsh mythology everywhere. Omens and Visions were phenomenal – just the right blend of mystery and paranormal with a touch of romance (and by that I mean I was DYING for them to confess their feelings and it never happened.) So, yeah, I needed Deceptions.

…and I have to admit I’m disappointed. Okay, so some mysteries were wrapped up and questions were answered. Fantastic! But this book devoted more time to Olivia’s romance with a biker (allow me a quick rant: I just don’t see any chemistry between Olivia and Ricky. Literally EVERY scene of theirs ends with sex. Sure, physically they’re great for each other, but emotionally? Intellectually? There’s not a whole lot going on between these two and even Olivia acknowledges it) than anything else, though Gabriel has finally come around and is slowly – so slowly – breaking down his hardened exterior. I’m still Team Gabriel and paranormal romance can be fine and dandy, but that’s not what I thought Cainsville was all about. As a series it’s total Urban Fantasy, but Deceptions took a sharp turn into romance territory. Not a bad book and I’ll definitely be back for book four, but I finished this one feeling cheated.

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