Tuesday, April 24, 2018

                                                        The Garden Of Burning Sand by Corban Addison

I'd like to share a book I just finished that I do not believe will get as much limelight as it deserves. The writing is beautiful. The subject matter not as much, but it is important! Because, even though the story itself takes place in Africa, I believe it transcends borders. The book,  by Corban Addison was a great book.


Wonderfully written story about such weighty issues in Africa in the early 2000's. Rape is called defilement and is unfortunately rampant. AIDS and HIV are still such illnesses on the forefront and a leading cause of death. And threats, violence, and back door deals are the norm.

But, in the background, there is such beauty in the rest. So many amazingly humble, beautifully outraged, and softly willing to keep trying to make changes.

Enter the main character, Zoe, an American living in Zimbabwe. Her mother introduced her to the good in Africa and in Africans most of all. Zoe works as a legal aide and also with a humanitarian outfit, doing what she can to help the people she has come to love.

When a 14 yr old girl with special needs is raped, the office she works with lands the investigation. The girl becomes special to her, and as the investigation, which brings them all 10 years into the past, deepens; so does the lead investigator.

Complications ensue. Bring in the threats, violence, and back door deals. There are discoveries that do what seem, more harm than good. And in some ways, her own family is always a factor. For Zoe has a dark secret of her own.

Have you read anything that has just resonated with you lately?

Friday, March 30, 2018

Book Review: In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette

In the Kingdom of Ice by Hampton Sides

Are you a HIstory Buff? Love a good novel with amazing characters? Need to follow a tale to get you out of your own head for a few days?

Have you ever heard of the USS Jeanette? I had not and now I am kind of wondering why not. 

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes to read Historical Fiction (it's not fiction at all, but it reads that way), General Fiction readers, those fascinated by the how and why of things, well, basically anyone over the age of 13 (due to topics such as death)

Here is my review of the book (hint this got 5 stars from me)

In the late 19th Century there was a thirst Worldwide to explore the Arctic. It's waters, lands and ice were all a mystery and all had their ideas about what lie above the Arctic Circle, but none had come home from a traverse beyond.
This is a chronicle of one such voyage with many differences. The voyage of the USS Jeanette, Commanded by George Washington Delong with a crew of 33 and funded by James Gordon Bennett of the New York Herald in 1879-1882. As the title suggests, it was both grand and terrible. 

But,in reading this book, the reader sees it was so many other things as well. Your emotions are all over the place! 
I was unfamiliar with the Jeannette's voyage before I picked up this book and now I doubt I will ever forget it. 

What Delong and his men faced and endured, what they discovered and where they went? These men traveled using maps that were wildly inaccurate, scientific instruments that were no doubt state of the art in 1870, but by today's standards were "fly by night", and given information about the ice conditions that we would consider absolute stupidity today. 

The entire journey and the men who were a part of it all have earned their place in History and in future stories and remembrances. They paved a way, discovered amazing things in the name of Science, Nature, and Survival. Some survived, some perished as martyrs to exploration. All earned respect. 


Thursday, February 15, 2018

H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald - My Review

So, I picked up this book not really knowing what to expect..

After the first chapter, I honestly thought this was going to end up in my abandoned book shelf. I'm so glad I continued on.

While the book is, in fact, a narrative of the author's experience training a goshawk; it is so much more. It is a tale of her grief in the midst of her greatest loss. How she entered into a depression so big, she retreated as so many do. But during this grief, she entered the wild with her hawk, Mabel and started to see the world as Mabel did.

The book is also a parallel history into the world of grief of a different kind in a different time of famous author TH White, who wrote The Sword and the Stone. I found the parallels to be fascinating. Also, note, White also wrote The Goshawk, his not so favorable adventures trying to train his goshawk, Gos. 

This book was a great blend of Falconry, which I believe to be fascinating, historical commentary, and human development and self-realization.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

What I Read_Book Review_ Wilson by A Scott Berg

WilsonWilson by A. Scott Berg
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I absolutely loved this book! At over 800 pages in length, at no point did it feel to long. I eagerly awaited the information each new chapter brought. While I have never written a book on President Wilson before, I do read a great deal about the World Wars. He is always in the periphery of these books, whether he is the president at the time, as in WWI; or in reference, as quite a few WWII books will do. When I found this book, I had to read it, and I am so glad I did!

The writing is compelling, as a good biography should be. Some might find that some topics are overwritten, but I understood why as they were the forefront issues of the time. In one case, The League of Nations & The Treaty of Versailles, were honor-bound obsessions of Wilson's. For he felt he owed the American people, not politicians, this as it stood. For to allow concessions would to be to allow the other countries involved concessions, and who could stand that chaos.

I digress.... Wilson proved to be a fascinating man. Not president of Princeton, not Governor of New Jersey or President of the United States, but man. His story, his relationships and how he loved, hated, and thought of himself: as told in this book, was wonderful. How he was respected, viewed, loved and hated by the American is no short of a testament to the amazing man he was and the impact he made on everyday people all over.

If you love history, biographies, or just have the time to kill on an 800+ page book, I highly recommend this one!

View all my reviews

Friday, April 14, 2017

How Have I Not Read Dune Before This?

DuneDune by Frank Herbert
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

For years I would look at this book, read the back and think, hmm not really my thing. I finally figured it was pulling at me for a reason and I could at least give it a try.

I am so glad I did! The book drew me in by page 20. Fully engulfed. This was such an incredible read. Herbert is a master here.

A little of the story: The Atreides' are a ruling class called off their own planet with its comforts, to the almost seemingly inhabitable Arrakis. The move is totally political and things are not what they appear to be.

The story follows young Paul, from age 15 and a Duke's son, living in the Duke's manor with both his Mother and Father, to him living among the sand people known as Fremon, where they believe he is the fulfillment of a prophecy. There are wars, deceits, amazing portraits of bravery; and so many other intimate human triumphs and heartache along the way to an ultimate realization that Paul and those around him must face.

I would recommend this book wholeheartedly to anyone over the age of 14.

Have you ever put off a book as one you thought you would not enjoy, only to love it?

View all my reviews

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Do You Have a 2016 Reading Wish List? I Do!

Every year, I add a bunch of books I would like to read onto a yearly "To Read" list. As it happens, I never actually read them all, but it forks for me to keep some sort of guideline.

Do you do anything similar?

Here is my list for 2016:

  • Audrey Niffenegger - Raven Girl
  • Abigail Tarttelin - Golden Boy
  • Anthony Marra- A Censtellation of Vital Phenomena
  • Kate Avelynn- Flawed
  • James Patterson- Private Berlin
  • Jenny Milchman - Cover of Snow
  • Mark Owen- No Easy Day
  • Linda Lafferty- The Bloodletter's Daughter

  • Jay Asher- Thirteen Reasons

  • CS Lewis- The Screwtape Letters
  • MArgaret Atwood- The Handmaid's Tale
  • Jodi Picoult - The Storyteller
  •     - The Pact
  •     - 19 Minutes
  • Tatiana de Rosnay - Sarah's Key

  • PC Cast - Destined and  Hidden
  • Truman Capote- In Cold Blood
  • Diane Setterfield - The Thirteenth Tale
  • Mark Hadden- Curious Incident of the Dog in Night Time
  • Lauren Grodstein- A Friend of the Family
  • Nicholas Conde- The Religion
  • Jonathan Safran Foer- Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

  • Wally Lamb - I Know This Much Is True
  • Lois Lowry- The Giver
  • John Boyne- The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
  • Ishmael Beah- A Long Way Gone
  • William Faulkner- The Sound and the Fury

You will notice, most are not newer books. In fact, my list is generally a reminder of books I have missed out on reading.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Little Known Amazon Hacks - Maximize Your Shopping

Amazon is such a vast marketplace, that in searching for what you need, you may be missing out on some key features!  Some will save you money and some will just add some great perks to your experience.

Many of you may be familiar with these, but for the rest of you here are some great perks:
  • Coupons- yes, Amazon has coupons in their grocery section! To be sure not a ton of them, but wuite a few make for some great deals. Check them out when you log in. They do change often.
  • Box Tops For Education Shopping- You can find all products that offer Box Tops in One Location
  • Use your credit card's cash back to shop- I have a Discover card and Amazon allows me to use my earned cash back to pay for my purchases.  This can be done with American Express, Chase Ultimate Points, and Citi Thank You points.
  • Amazon Smile- Use this as your default Amazon Search and when you make a purchase, a portion goes to the charity of your choosing! 
  • Subscribe & Save- When buying basics for your home such as Toilet paper and Laundry Items (among thousands of other items) see if they are Subscribe and Save eligible. You will save money and can either tweak your shipments or cancel.

Don't forget, you can earn Amazon Gift Cards just for searching the internet using Swag Bucks! You are going to search anyway. Might as well get something for it!