Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid's Tale
by Margaret Atwood

Find out more about this book and author:
Facebook | Flipboard
wattpadd | Twitter

Just released: April 18, 2017
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Genre: Feminism, Dystopia
Paperback pages: 336
Rating: 5

First sentence(s):
We slept in what had once been the gymnasium.

Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable.

Offred can remember the days before, when she lived and made love with her husband Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now….

Funny, unexpected, horrifying, and altogether convincing, The Handmaid's Tale is at once scathing satire, dire warning, and literary tour de force.

My two-bits:

So, I read this years ago and decided to re-read it after watching the tv version that came out last year. It was just as good as the first time around.

In comparison, each version holds up equally in portraying its dystopian world. There are certain details in each that enhance the story in each medium. Loved it.

Found this to be an eerie visionary piece of work.


* part of Our Shared Shelf Book Club 2017 (here)

Monday, January 29, 2018

White Tears by Hari Kunzru

White Tears
by Hari Kunzru
narrated by Lincoln Hoppe, Danny Campbell, Dominic Hoffman

Find out more about this book and author:

Published: 2017
Publisher: Knopf
Genre: Literary, Music, Mystery
Hardback: 288
Rating: 4

First sentence(s):
That summer I would ride my bike over the bridge, lock it up in front of one of the bars on Orchard Street and drift through the city o foot, recording.

Two twenty-something New Yorkers. Seth is awkward and shy. Carter is the glamorous heir to one of America's great fortunes. They have one thing in common: an obsession with music. Seth is desperate to reach for the future. Carter is slipping back into the past. When Seth accidentally records an unknown singer in a park, Carter sends it out over the Internet, claiming it's a long lost 1920s blues recording by a musician called Charlie Shaw. When an old collector contacts them to say that their fake record and their fake bluesman are actually real, the two young white men, accompanied by Carter's troubled sister Leonie, spiral down into the heart of the nation's darkness, encountering a suppressed history of greed, envy, revenge, and exploitation.

My two-bits:

Whoa, the power of music and its influence is strong. It sure has a way of working itself into us to cause chaos for some.


* Listened to audiobook version.

* part of Tournament of Books 2018 (here)

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Excerpt: The Snow Job: The Great Game by Jenni Ferchenko

The Snow Job:
The Great Game
by Jenni Ferchenko
-Contemporary, Russia
Release date: February 1, 2018
Amazon | Website

When young associate Katya Kuznetsova loses her job at Lehman Brothers in London, she takes up a new investment banking role in Moscow, Russia. Determined to succeed, Katya finds herself trapped by her lifestyle.

At the same time she tries to prove her self-worth but subconsciously engages in self-punishment, including ever more destructive sex, alcohol and drug abuse.

Eventually, things get out of control, leading to the dreadful consequences Katya is trying to fix, humiltating herself and losing everything she owns; but she finds something, which was always there, she just couldn't see it, something priceless...

First chapter where Katya is returning to her desk at Lehman Brothers in London after having sex with her boss.

The familiar smell of money is everywhere.

I put on my tried-and-tested professional smile and pass by the senior management’s glass offices, where the smell is the most intense, but all the offices are empty this morning. I let my smile take on a naughty shade as the thoughts of Alex restricting my breathing … covering my mouth and nose, so I could feel his fingers with my gums … inflame a shiver. Our little secret … a soundless elation we never see here on the production line.

Tugging my skirt down, I rapidly proceed to my desk, right in the middle of the beehive.

‘Katya, are you working a half day?’ an intimidating senior German colleague remarks. She theatrically taps on her Cartier, showing me it is 7.15 a.m. ‘Half day, half pay.’ She pronounces every word in sharp staccato, in the manner of a concentration camp guard, with her gelled brown hair scraped into an immaculate bun and angry makeup-free face contributing to the image.

‘Mm, I was here earlier. I just went out to grab a coffee,’ I lie, defending myself against the frigid grouch, who’ll never even get close to the fifth floor showers. She truly deserves her nickname – Virgin Mary.

‘You seem to like a lot of milk with it,’ smirks the slutty Polish blonde next to her. ‘Don’t forget to wipe the mustache off,’ she titters, drinking her cappuccino.

‘You have a bit of … ’ I point at the cappuccino foam on her upper lip.

Without saying a word, she rapidly wipes it off and looks very busy reading the morning paper.

About the author:
After growing up under Communist rule in the Ukraine Jenni Ferchenko established a career in the finance sector after achieving an internship with Lehman’s Brothers, London back in 2006. Her years within the sector working between London and Moscow has provided the inspiration behind her debut novel. Today Jenni Ferchenko lives in an undisclosed location enjoying a quieter life as a singer-songwriter and author. She has also written original songs to accompany the release of her debut novel.


* courtesy of book tour

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Lovely Books and Things - 1.27.18

Lovely Books and Things
My Weekly Books and Films Update

Linking up with:
Stacking the Shelves (details)
Sunday Post (details)
Mailbox Monday (details)


Happy things:

1. Announcement of the Oscar 2018 film nominations. I am caught up and have seen the nine Best Picture picks. I plan to see at least 20 more on the nomination list.

2. iisuperwomanii instagram pics. This week featured Sailor Moon and her crew all portrayed by Lilly. Cute.

3. Greg Sestero and Tommy Wiseau (from film: The Room)

If a lot of people loved each other, the world would be a better place to live.
-what Tommy Wiseau would have said at the Golden Globe Awards 2018 per Entertainment Weekly


For Review:

A Fairy Tale in Two Parts
by Tes Mekonnen
illustrated by Anthony Resto
courtesy of author -Thanks!
Amazon | Goodreads

The Snow Job:
The Great Game
by Jenni Ferchenko
-Contemporary, Russia
courtesy of Authoright -Thanks!
Amazon | Website


From Owlcrate package (details & signup):
OwlCrate is a subscription service that sends you magical monthly boxes tailored to a chosen theme. Each OwlCrate will contain one new Young Adult novel, as well as 3-5 other bookish treats to help you get your nerd on. @owlcrate

JANUARY Box includes:
theme: Fearsome Fairy Tales

-The Cruel Prince by Holly Black (OwlCrate edition)
-Letter and sticker from author
-Booklet with author Q&A
-Spireside Candles with OwlCrate designed ceramic burner
-Rapunzel themed bracelet from Authored Adornments
-Sleeping Beauty themed pillowcase from Stella's Bookish Art
-Little Red Riding Hood themed art print by Anne Lambelet

The Cruel Prince
(The Folk of the Air #1)
by Holly Black
-Fantasy, YA
Amazon | Goodreads

Of course I want to be like them. They're beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.

And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.

Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him--and face the consequences.

In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.

AND watched: in theatre

Call Me By Your Name (2017)
Director: Luca Guadagnino
Screenplay: James Ivory
Based on book by: André Aciman
Starring: Armie Hammer, Timothée Chalamet, Michael Stuhlbarg
-Drama, Romance, LTBTQ | imdb | my rating: 5
Oscar 2018 nominee

In Northern Italy in 1983, seventeen year-old Elio begins a relationship with visiting Oliver, his father's research assistant, with whom he bonds over his emerging sexuality, their Jewish heritage, and the beguiling Italian landscape.

ABSOLUTELY LOVED this beautiful love story. The location, soundtrack and characters were perfect.

The Room (2003)
Director/Writer: Tommy Wiseau
Stars: Tommy Wiseau, Greg Sestero, Juliette Danielle |
-Drama | imdb | my rating: 3

Johnny is a successful banker who lives happily in a San Francisco townhouse with his fiancée, Lisa. One day, inexplicably, she gets bored with him and decides to seduce his best friend, Mark. From there, nothing will be the same again.

I went into this cold and wanted to watch it before watching The Disaster Artist. Within the first 30 minutes I was hesitant to continue. But kept on going to satisfy my curiosity. When I got to the end I was meh. But since then and since reading the book and watching the movie, The Disaster Artist, I GOT it. I got the appeal and essence of it to the point of setting a date to re-watch it at one of the late night audience interactive screenings.

The Disaster Artist (2017)
Director: James Franco
Screenplay: Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber
Based on book by: Greg Sestero, Tom Bissell
Stars: James Franco, Dave Franco, Ari Graynor
-Biography, Comedy, Drama | imdb | my rating: 4
Oscar 2018 nominee

When Greg Sestero, an aspiring film actor, meets the weird and mysterious Tommy Wiseau in an acting class, they form a unique friendship and travel to Hollywood to make their dreams come true.

AFTER hearing James Franco plug this film, I knew I wanted to check it out. It does well in retelling the book version, but changed certain things and condensed things for film version purposes. There are lots of cameo appearances which were a hoot. I especially loved seeing both Greg and Tommy. Make sure to stick around for all of the end credits for special treats.

AND watched: on DVD

Retro Puppet Master (1999)
Director: David DeCoteau
Screenplay: Neal Marshall Stevens
Based on story by: Charles Band
Stars: Greg Sestero, Brigitta Dau, Stephen Blackehart
-Adventure, Fantasy, Horror | imdb | my rating: 3

In the late nineteenth century, an Ancient Egyptian sorcerer discovers the art of transferring the souls of the dead into inanimate objects.

WATCHED this for Greg who has lots of lovely face screen time. This is not a film I would normally watch but I was pleasantly surprised. It got me curious to try the rest of the puppet master series. The killer puppets were intriguing.

The Walking Dead (2016-17)
tv series, season 7
Creator: Frank Darabont
Based on graphic novel by: Robert Kirkman & Charlie Adlard
Stars: Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus, Melissa McBride
-Drama, Horror, Thriller | imdb | my rating: 5

Sheriff Deputy Rick Grimes wakes up from a coma to learn the world is in ruins, and must lead a group of survivors to stay alive.

PLAYING catch up with my favorite zombie survivors.


* comment and TELL me what you have acquired for your shelves recently


Friday, January 26, 2018

Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen's Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues edited by Christina Boyd

Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen's Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues
edited by Christina Boyd

Find out more about this book and author:

Just released: December 7, 2017
Publisher: The Quill Ink
Genre: Historical Romance, Anthology, Jane Austen
Hardback: 358
Overall rating: to be revealed in December as I will be reading one story per month and posting reviews below.

Jane Austen's masterpieces are littered with unsuitable gentlemen--Willoughby, Wickham, Churchill, Crawford, Tilney, Elliot, et al.--adding color and depth to her plots but often barely sketched. Have you never wondered about the pasts of her rakes, rattles, and gentlemen rogues? Surely, there's more than one side to their stories. It is a universal truth, we are captivated by smoldering looks, daring charms ... a happy-go-lucky, cool confidence. All the while, our loyal confidants are shouting on deaf ears: "He is a cad--a brute--all wrong!" But is that not how tender hearts are loving the undeserving? How did they become the men Jane Austen created?

In this romance anthology, eleven Austenesque authors expose the histories of Austen's anti-heroes. Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen's Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues is a titillating collection of Georgian era short stories--a backstory or parallel tale off-stage of canon--whilst remaining steadfast to the characters we recognize in Austen's great works. What say you? Everyone may be attracted to a bad boy...even temporarily...but heaven help us if we marry one.

My two-bits:

Willoughby's Crossroads (moderate) by Joana Starnes
Sense and Sensibility: John Willoughby
Great start to this anthology. The story is set in Mr. Willoughby's past with one of his first loves or rather dalliances. It is him in the making which still puts him in an unfavorable light for me.

Feb: A Wicked Game (mature) by Katie Oliver
Pride and Prejudice: George Wickham
The start of Wickham's love life with french influence. Interaction with a younger Mr. Darcy was fun to see.

Mar: Fitzwilliam's Folly (mild) by Beau North
Pride and Prejudice: Colonel Fitzwilliam Darcy
Ha! even rakes have their breaking point. Delightful turn of events for this Darcy character. Loved learning a bit more about Fitz.

Apr: The Address of a Frenchwoman (mild) by Lona Manning

May: Last Letter from Mansfield (mature) by Brooke West

Jun: An Honest Man (moderate) by karen M. Cox

Jul: One Fair Claim (none) by Christina Morland

Aug: The Lost Chapter in the Life of William Elliot (moderate) by Jenetta James

Sep: As Mush as he Can (none) by Sophia Rose

Oct: The Art of Singing (none) by J. Marie Croft

Nov: For Mischief's Sake (none) by Amy D'Orazio


* review copy courtesy of editor

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Blog All About It: Winter

THINGS to do this winter...

The Snow Job:
The Great Game
by Jenni Ferchenko
-Contemporary, Russia
Release date: February 1, 2018
Amazon | Website

READ: This review copy came in just in time for my winter reading pile.

I, Tonya (2017)
Director: Craig Gillespie
Writer: Steven Rogers
Stars: Margot Robbie, Sebastian Stan, Allison Janney
-Biography, Comedy, Drama | imdb
Oscar 2018 nominee

WATCH: With the Winter Olympics coming and my love of ice figure skating this one is sure to please.

LISTEN: Mystery of Love by Sufjan Stevens was nominated for the Oscar's Best Song category. Coincidentally, when I was on his site, I found that he released a song that he wrote for Tonya Harding (here). He said that it is not related to the biopic. But, it certainly was timely. Interesting to note that he said that Tonya was not interested in hearing his song.

CRAFT: I am working on crocheting an infinity scarf to wear next month.


* part of the Blog All About It Challenge (here)

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

The Night Bookmobile by Audrey Niffenegger

The Night Bookmobile
narrated by Audrey Niffenegger

Find out more about this book and author:

Published: 2010
Publisher: Jonathan Cape
Genre: Fantasy, Graphic Novel
Hardback: 39
Rating: 5

First sentence(s):
The first time I saw the Night Bookmobile, I was walking down Ravenswood Avenue at four o'clock in the morning.

'The Night Bookmobile' tells the story of a young woman who one night encounters a mysterious disappearing mobile library that happens to stock every book she has ever read. Seeing her history and her most intimate self in this library, she embarks on a search for the bookmobile. Over time her search turns into an obsession.


My two-bits:

Found this to be an eerie yet bright story. Loved the colorful book filled illustrations.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Guest post: Reluctant Courage by Rica Newbery

Reluctant Courage
by Rica Newbery
Amazon | BookExcerpt

It is 1942 in Oslo, two years into the German occupation of World War II. Maria and her three daughters are used to coping with the hardships of war, but when Maria's husband leaves her for another woman and a German officer is billeted to their home, their troubles are only just beginning. Maria and her daughters must stop fighting with each other and find a way to survive through grief, dread, and fear.

Guest post:

It is 1942 in Oslo, two years into the Nazi occupation of World War II.

Maria is used to struggling with food rations, bickering daughters, and her husband’s frequent absences from home with police work. She is enraged when Johannes leaves her for another woman and Leo Wolff, a Wehrmacht officer, forcibly takes up residence in their flat, but worse is yet to come. One daughter becomes seriously ill, and another is raped. When the youngest goes missing, Maria must find a way to transcend her bitterness and survive, for her own sake and for her daughters.

Although my novel is fiction, it is inspired by real stories told by my mother who was 8 years old when the Nazis marched into Oslo. Real events and situations experienced by Norwegians are woven into the story. Resistance fighters risked death every day with hidden radios and distribution of leaflets. Red hats became a symbol of the resistance and were banned by the Nazis. Teachers and Church leaders refused to propagate Nazi ideology, and teachers were arrested en masse, only to return later as no-one would fill their roles. Underground papers printed cartoons mocking the Nazis and graffiti abounded.

Food was scarce, and women queued for hours or pawned their belongings to afford items such as eggs or meat on the black market. Stomach complaints were common as people ate meat eked out with herring or bread with added newspaper or saw dust from unscrupulous shopkeepers.

Five hundred and thirty two Jews were arrested by Norwegian police and handed over to the Gestapo at Pier 1 in Oslo Harbour. They were sent to Auschwitz via the famous SS Donau on 26th November 1942.
‘Lebensborn’ mother and baby homes were set up as soldiers were encouraged to impregnate local girls, seen by the Nazis as ‘good Aryans’. Many of the resulting babies were taken out of Norway to Germany for adoption, and abortion became punishable by death:

About the author:
I am a retired psychiatrist, living with my husband in Bristol. After completing an Open University course in Creative Writing, I wrote my first novel Reluctant Courage. I am now writing a novel about a young woman experiencing the trauma of a psychiatric admission in Bristol in 1957.


* guest post courtesy of author

Monday, January 22, 2018

The Disaster Artist by Greg Sestero

The Disaster Artist
My Life Inside The Room, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made
by Greg Sestero, Tom Bissell
narrated by author

Find out more about this book and author:

Published: 2013
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Genre: Humor, Movies, Memoir
Hardback: 288
Rating: 5

First sentence(s):
Imagine a movie so incomprehensible that you find yourself compelled to watch it over and over again.

The hilarious and inspiring story of how a mysterious misfit got past every roadblock in the Hollywood system to achieve success on his own terms: a $6 million cinematic catastrophe called The Room.

Nineteen-year-old Greg Sestero met Tommy Wiseau at an acting school in San Francisco. Wiseau’s scenes were rivetingly wrong, yet Sestero, hypnotized by such uninhibited acting, thought, “I have to do a scene with this guy.” That impulse changed both of their lives. Wiseau seemed never to have read the rule book on interpersonal relationships (or the instruc­tions on a bottle of black hair dye), yet he generously offered to put the aspiring actor up in his LA apart­ment. Sestero’s nascent acting career first sizzled, then fizzled, resulting in Wiseau’s last-second offer to Sestero of costarring with him in The Room, a movie Wiseau wrote and planned to finance, produce, and direct—in the parking lot of a Hollywood equipment-rental shop.

Wiseau spent $6 million of his own money on his film, but despite the efforts of the disbelieving (and frequently fired) crew and embarrassed (and fre­quently fired) actors, the movie made no sense. Nevertheless Wiseau rented a Hollywood billboard featuring his alarming headshot and staged a red carpet premiere. The Room made $1800 at the box office and closed after two weeks. One reviewer said that watching The Room was like “getting stabbed in the head.”

The Disaster Artist is Greg Sestero’s laugh-out-loud funny account of how Tommy Wiseau defied every law of artistry, business, and friendship to make “the Citizen Kane of bad movies” (Entertainment Weekly), which is now an international phenomenon, with Wiseau himself beloved as an oddball celebrity. Written with award-winning journalist Tom Bissell, The Disaster Artist is an inspiring tour de force that reads like a page-turning novel, an open-hearted portrait of an enigmatic man who will improbably capture your heart.

My two-bits:

I listened to this memoir in preparation for watching the movie version. Also, watched the film, The Room before the listen. And also, before the James Franco story release about his #Timesup pin at the Golden Globes ceremony.

I really enjoyed listening to the author read his story. Being an actor he did very well with capturing the essence of Tommy throughout the reading.

It was fascinating to follow this friendship and to learn about Greg's experience with the making of The Room.

Thoughts about art, passion and success come to mind.

Off to see the movie version...


* Listened to audiobook version.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Blog All About It Challenge

Blog All About It 2018
Blogging Prompt Challenge (details)
hosted by The Herd Presents
January to December 2018

Each month there's a different prompt that you can interpret as you'd like then create a blog post around it.

I like how this challenge is open to interpretation and flexible on timing.

The Prompts:

January-- Winter: linkup | my post
February-- Red: linkup | my post
March-- Favorite Scent: linkup | my post
April-- Art: linkup | my post
May-- Organize: linkup | my post
June-- Growl: linkup | my post
July-- Spirit: linkup | my post
August-- Beginning: linkup | my post
September-- Escape: linkup | my post
October-- Trees: linkup | my post
November-- Truth: linkup | my post
December-- Shine/Sparkle: linkup -tba | my post

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Lovely Books and Things - 1.20.18

Lovely Books and Things
My Weekly Books and Films Update

Linking up with:
Stacking the Shelves (details)
Sunday Post (details)
Mailbox Monday (details)


Current happy things:

1. Watching commercials directed by Wes Anderson on YouTube
2. Road trip
3. Crab feed event



Booksmith in San Francisco hosted an event with Leni Zumas featuring her new book, Red Clocks. It is a dystopia that is in keeping with current women's issues, in particular, personhood amendment. Leni mentioned that Virginia Woolf's The Waves was a source of inspiration in regards to names selected for characters in the book.

Red Clocks
by Leni Zumas
-Dystopia, Feminism
Amazon | Goodreads

I also picked up the February book for Books, Inc. Foreign Intrigue Book Club (here), The Dry by Jane Harper. The Jane Austen Notes & Quotes has illustrations, quotes and blank lined pages for journaling. AND could not resist the book pins of Sense & Sensibility and The Handmaid's Tale created by Jane Mount.

Fire and Fury
Inside the Trump White House
by Michael Wolff
-Non-fiction, Politics
Amazon | Goodreads

YUP. Got on the hype train. It has trumped the tbr pile and is taking up my current reading time.

For Review:

A Different Kind of Evil
by Andrew Wilson
-Historical, Mystery, Agatha Christie
Release date: March 13, 2018
courtesy of publisher -Thanks!
Amazon | Goodreads

CURIOUS to see how Agatha Christie plays a role in this one.

AND watched: on DVD

Big Little Lies (2017)
tv series
Creator: David E. Kelley
Based on book by: Liane Moriarty
Stars: Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Laura Dern
-Crime, Drama, Mystery | imdb | my rating: 5

The apparently perfect lives of three mothers of first graders unravel to the point of murder.

JUST as good as the book. Its various awards are well deserved.

Home Again (2017)
Director/Writer: Hallie Meyers-Shyer
Stars: Reese Witherspoon, Michael Sheen, Candice Bergen
-Comedy, Drama, Romance | imdb | my rating: 5

Life for a single mom in Los Angeles takes an unexpected turn when she allows three young guys to move in with her.

CUTE single mom fantasy flick.

Director: Sarah Gavron
Writer: Abi Morgan
Starring: Carey Mulligan, Anne-Marie Duff, Helena Bonham Carter
-Biography, Drama, History | imdb | my rating: 5

The foot soldiers of the early feminist movement, women who were forced underground to pursue a dangerous game of cat and mouse with an increasingly brutal State.

THIS women's herstory film is reminder of how the vote is precious.

AND watched: in theatre

In The Fade (2017)
Aus dem Nichts (original title)
Director/Screenplay: Fatih Akin
Writers: Hark Bohm (author) (co-writer)
Stars: Diane Kruger, Denis Moschitto, Numan Acar
-Crime, Drama, Germany | imdb | my rating: 5

Katja's life collapses after the death of her husband and son in a bomb attack. After a time of mourning and injustice, Katja seeks revenge.

SAD but something to think about these days.

The Post (2017)
Director: Steven Spielberg
Writers: Liz Hannah, Josh Singer
Stars: Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Sarah Paulson
-Biography, Drama, History | imdb | my rating: 5

A cover-up that spanned four U.S. Presidents pushed the country's first female newspaper publisher and a hard-driving editor to join an unprecedented battle between the press and the government.

BIT of history learned with stellar actors.


* comment and TELL me what you have acquired for your shelves recently


Friday, January 19, 2018

The Scent of Rain by Anne Montgomery

The Scent of Rain
by Anne Montgomery

Find out more about this book and author:

Published: March 28, 2017
Publisher: Treehouse Publishing Group
Genre: Social & Family Issues, YA
Paperback: 386
Rating: 4

First sentence(s):
Rose Madsen couldn’t risk staying out much longer. She still felt the paddle blows—what her mother called “appropriate corrective measures”—from the last time she’d disappeared for too long.

Rose Madsen will do anything to keep from being married off to one of the men in her Fundamentalist Mormon (FLDS) community, even endure the continued beatings and abuse of her mother. But when her mentally handicapped baby sister is forced to strangle the bird she loves at the behest of the Prophet, Rose frees the bird and runs away.

Adan Reyes will do anything to escape the abusive foster care system in Phoenix, even leaving his good friends and successful high school athletic career behind him. Ill-prepared for surviving the desert, Adan hits the road only to suffer heat stroke. Found by a local handyman, he catches a glimpse of a mysterious girl--Rose--running through town, and follows her into the mountains where they are both tracked and discovered by the men of the FLDS community.

With their fates now intertwined, can Rose and Adan escape the systems locking them into lives of abuse? Will Rose be forced to marry the Prophet, a man her father's age, and be one of dozens of wives, perpetually pregnant, with no hope for an education? Will Adan be returned to the foster home where bullying and cruelty are common? Is everyone they meet determined to keep them right where they belong or are some adults worthy of their trust?

My two-bits:

This is a peek into a Fundamentalist Mormon community that exposes the unsavory side. Different perspectives are presented with its cast of characters. The two main young adult characters spark an eventual change with their youth and strength.

This story generates thoughts on cults and their leaders.


* review copy courtesy of author

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Tournament of Books 2018

Morning News Tournament of Books
Rooster Award for best fiction
14th edition
sponsored by Field Notes and Powell's
details | daily

Each weekday in March, starting March 7, 2018, two of the books below will be read and considered by one of our judges (also listed below). One book from the “match” will be chosen to advance, with the judge required to explain in detail how he or she came to their decision. Then the judge’s decision is evaluated first by our official commentators, then by you, the Rooster fan, wherein you politely and respectfully describe how your heart was broken and your mind inflamed by such erroneous arrogance. And the next day we do it all over again.

I am always excited to see the announcement of the shortlist for this annual tournament. So far, I read one last year and some are already in my tbr pile. Per usual, I plan to read as many as I can before the March event.

The Shortlist:

The Animators
by Kayla Rae Whitaker
-Contemporary, Art, Women's Fiction
Amazon | Goodreads | my review | rating: 5

The Book of Joan
by Lidia Yuknavitch
Amazon | Goodreads | my review: DNF

Dear Cyborgs
by Eugene Lim
Amazon | Goodreads | my review | rating: 3

The End of Eddy
by Édouard Louis
- LGBTQ, France
Amazon | Goodreads | my review | rating: 5

Exit West
by Mohsin Hamid
Amazon | Goodreads | my review | rating: 4

Fever Dream
by Samanta Schweblin
-Horror, Thriller
Amazon | Goodreads | my review | rating: 3

Goodbye, Vitamin
by Rachel Khong
-Humor, Women's Fiction
Amazon | Goodreads | my review | my rating: 4

by Emily Ruskovich
Amazon | Goodreads | my review | rating: 4

The Idiot
by Elif Batuman
-Historical, Coming of Age, Women's Fiction
Amazon | Goodreads | my review | rating: 4

Lincoln in the Bardo
by George Saunders
-Literary, Historical
Amazon | Goodreads | my review | rating: 4

Lucky Boy
by Shanthi Sekaran
-Women's Fiction
Amazon | Goodreads | my review: tba

Manhattan Beach
by Jennifer Egan
Amazon | Goodreads | my review | rating: 4

by Min Jin Lee
-Historical, Japan, Korea
Amazon | Goodreads | my review: tba

Savage Theories
by Pola Oloixarac
-Humor, Spain
Amazon | Goodreads | my review: DNF

Sing, Unburied, Sing
by Jesmyn Ward
-Literary, African American
Amazon | Goodreads | my review: tba

So Much Blue
by Percival Everett
Amazon | Goodreads | my review: DNF

Stephen Florida
by Gabe Habash
-Literary, Coming of Age, Sports (wrestling)
Amazon | Goodreads | my review | rating: 5

White Tears
by Hari Kunzru
Amazon | Goodreads | my review | rating: 4


WINNER: Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin

Round 2: Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
Round 1: Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin

Round 2: Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
Round 1: Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin

Round 4: Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
Round 3: Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
Round 2: Dear Cyborgs by Eugene Lim
Round 1: Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin

Round 8: Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong
Round 7: Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
Round 6: Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
Round 5: Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
Round 4: The End of Eddy by Édouard Louis
Round 3: Dear Cyborgs by Eugene Lim
Round 2: The Idiot by Elif Batuman
Round 1: Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin
Imagination Designs
Images from: Lovelytocu