Book Review, Book Talk

My Favorite Books of 2018!

This was a great year for reads and I fell in love a million times over with too many books. So this is not a top 10 because I have no ability to choose only that many. In no particular order these were the books I enjoyed most:

Thanks to Goodreads I wanted to add some pieces of my Year in Review:

  • Longest book I read: Grant by Ron Chernow — 1,074 pages (first 1,000 page read!)
  • I will finish 176 books (out of the 100 I was aiming for.
  • A total of 55,416 pages were consumed. Wowza.
Book Review

Review: Auschwitz: A Doctor’s Eye Witness Account by Dr. Miklos Nyiszli

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: History, no language, very sensitive topics
Length: 222 pages
Author: Dr. Miklos Nyiszli, Tibere Kremer (Translator), Bruno Bettelheim (Foreword), and Richard Seaver (Introduction)
Publisher: Arcade Publishing
Release Date: September 1st, 2007
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

When the Nazis invaded Hungary in 1944, they sent virtually the entire Jewish population to Auschwitz. A Jew and a medical doctor, the prisoner Dr. Miklos Nyiszli was spared death for a grimmer fate: to perform “scientific research” on his fellow inmates under the supervision of the man who became known as the infamous “Angel of Death” – Dr. Josef Mengele. Nyiszli was named Mengele’s personal research pathologist. In that capactity he also served as physician to the Sonderkommando, the Jewish prisoners who worked exclusively in the crematoriums and were routinely executed after four months. Miraculously, Nyiszli survived to give this horrifying and sobering account.

HISTORY NOT TO BE FORGOTTEN.

This won’t really be that much of a review, because I feel it is unfair to the fact that this really happened. This is more of an expression of thoughts I had while reading. I’m not here to debate the choices Dr. Nyiszli made to keep himself (and his family) alive in one of the absolute bleakest moments in the world’s history.

The book is by no means easy to get through and I was on the verge of tears more than once. The stories of what went on at the camps were more than anyone should ever have to deal with (and that’s unfortunately an understatement).

It’s a thought provoking, grief-stricken, hug your loved ones tighter kind of book. This memoir is a true insider tale of what happened daily in Auschwitz. The horrid sense of personalities you get from the people surrounding the doctor will make you shiver. I have read a handful of historical things about WWII, but nothing to this extent. My mind is still trying to comprehend the atrocities that he witnessed and had to commit.

This book will make you uncomfortable. It will make you think. These kind of books can’t be called “good books.” A memoir such as this needs to be read if only to remind us that this did happen, and to ensure that history never repeats itself.

Overall audience notes:

  • Mature and sensitive topics
  • Violence: gas chambers, mass murders, shootings, executions, starvation, and more.
  • No language, written in a detached, clinical perspective
Book Review, Uncategorized

Review: The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: A New History of a Lost World by Stephen Brusatte

Dinosaurs

 

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Suitable for YA+, non-fiction, historical
Length: 416 pages
Author: Stephen Brusatte
Publisher: William Morrow
Release Date: April 24th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Brusatte traces the evolution of dinosaurs from their inauspicious start as small shadow dwellers—themselves the beneficiaries of a mass extinction caused by volcanic eruptions at the beginning of the Triassic period—into the dominant array of species every wide-eyed child memorizes today, T. rex,Triceratops, Brontosaurus, and more. This gifted scientist and writer re-creates the dinosaurs’ peak during the Jurassic and Cretaceous, when thousands of species thrived, and winged and feathered dinosaurs, the prehistoric ancestors of modern birds, emerged. The story continues to the end of the Cretaceous period, when a giant asteroid or comet struck the planet and nearly every dinosaur species (but not all) died out, in the most extraordinary extinction event in earth’s history, one full of lessons for today as we confront a “sixth extinction.”

Brusatte also recalls compelling stories from his globe-trotting expeditions during one of the most exciting eras in dinosaur research—which he calls “a new golden age of discovery”—and offers thrilling accounts of some of the remarkable findings he and his colleagues have made, including primitive human-sized tyrannosaurs; monstrous carnivores even larger than T. rex; and paradigm-shifting feathered raptors from China.

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

I LOVE DINOSAURS.

OH WOW, if you have any love for dinosaurs, read this book. It just hit my my top favorites for non-fiction books.

Y’all, this man LOVES dinos. And you can feel that on every page. You’re dragged in and loving the dinosaurs as much as he does. There was a magnificent flow and pace to the book. It would flow from Brusatte telling a personal story of finding a fossil, adding in pieces of how fossils are studied today, and then tying it all back to how that creature was living in prehistoric times.

It was amazing! I have always been absolutely fascinated with dinosaurs, so that probably is definitely enforcing my love and appreciation for this book. They’re so many places that dinosaurs are still currently being found. It is not a dead science, there’s so much more we can gather from fossils. He describes all of his colleagues and friends so eloquently that you really get an understanding of their personality and character.

All of the scientific analyzing felt like it would fly over my head, but Brusatte does a great job of putting it all into simple terms (I am horrid at math, so this was especially helpful) so anyone can understand.

Lastly, his ability to narrate his take on what dinosaurs lived like was it’s own story. I felt those dinosaurs as he described the asteroid hitting Earth. His use of pretty prose kept me engaged and flipping pages.

Also, guys, there’s pictures!! My biggest struggle was literally (no really, ask my husband) Googling every single dinosaur name that didn’t have a photo. I personally wanted to know what every one of them looked like. It would have been awesome to have more photos, but I understand that it would essentially be a picture book at that point.

Overall audiences notes:
– Non-fiction book, appropriate for all ages
– No language
– Violence is maybe a minor description of a dinosaur attacking another

Book Review

Review: A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy #1) by Deborah Harkness

ADOW

Rating: ☆☆☆☆ [truthfully some unknown number between 3 & 4]
Audience: Adult, a tiny bit of language, a few love scenes, lots of kisses & make-outs, some violence
Length: 579 pages
Author: Deborah Harkness
Publisher: Viking Penguin
Release Date: February 2011
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Deep in the stacks of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

I AM SO AT ODDS WITH THIS BOOK.

Okay y’all. The reason my star rating is “somewhere between 3 & 4” is because goodness gracious, I can’t decide what I feel about this book! Stay with me here. My thoughts may get scattered.

I definitely give points to the concept. I think it’s cool! It’s a different spin on Vampires, Witches and Daemons. Also, it spans such big time periods! I actually like that Matthew is 1500+ years old because there is so much to his background.

My issue stems from the fact that, generally speaking, I hate vampire books. I read (and enjoyed) the Twilight series, but after that I felt done. Since then, if I realize a book is about vampires it usually ends up on my DNF shelf with no remorse.

Matthew being a vampire didn’t ruin this book for me, but his dynamic occasionally bugged me. He felt too possessive, demanding, stubborn, stealthy, etc. Which then made Diana appear way too meek, submissive, and just an overall sense of: STAND UP FOR YOURSELF WOMAN.

While I felt their love story had truly good moments, the action of the book never heightened enough. I kept asking myself, was that all? Maybe that’s why I’m at odds. I kept reading expecting more, but never got it, yet enjoyed it, but also skimmed it, and this run-on sentence could just keep going. It was too long of a book, with a lot of side stuff that got in the way, so I sped-read through those bits to get to the heart of the novel.

I will pick-up the second book and reconvene here for a determination as to whether the third book is worth my time.

Book leans more towards adult, very very little language. Some kiss/make-out scenes. A few love scenes that are semi-descriptive. A bit of violence.

Book Review

Review: Arabella by Georgette Heyer

Arabella

 

Rating: ☆☆☆.75
Audience: YA/Adult, a kiss or two, no violence, no language
Length: 320 pages
Author: Georgette Heyer
Publisher: this version: Arrow Books Ltd.
Release Date: this version: October 7th, 2004 (originally published in 1949)
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

 

BOOK SUMMARY:

To Arabella Tallant, the eldest daughter of a penniless country clergyman, the invitation to stay with her London godmother was like the key to heaven, for in addition to living in the glamorous city, Arabella might even find a suitable husband there. Armed with beauty, virtue and a benevolent godmother, the impetuous but impoverished Arabella embarked on her first London season with her mother’s wish in mind: snare a rich husband.

Impetuosity is Arabella’s only fault. When fate cast her in the path of arrogant, socially prominent Robert Beaumaris, who accused her of being another petty female after his wealth, the proud, headstrong ingenue made a most startling claim — she was an heiress! Suddenly Arabella found herself the talk of the town and pursued by every amorous fortune hunter in London and some of the most eligible young men of the day.

But only one caught Arabella’s fancy: Mr Beaumaris, the handsome and dedicated bachelor. She should know better than to allow herself to be provoked by nonpareil Beau. That gentleman, however, although a most artful matrimonial dodger, badly underestimated his seemingly naive adversary… But would her deceitful charade destroy her one chance for true love…?

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

OH, ULYSSES.

This book was simple and sweet. I enjoyed it on a Sunday afternoon and was swept into a Jane Austen-like aura of regency romance.

The characters were sassy and full of wit. While some of the phrases made me chuckle, I thought it was neat to be reading a book originally from so long ago! And with so many good reviews, clearly Heyer’s novels are long lasting.

My favorite portions by far were any interaction between Mr. Beaumaris and Ulysses (his dog). I found myself laughing each time and thought the inner dialogue was crafty!

The narrative can be a bit confusing as it switches between POV often, but I didn’t mind. The portions with her brother, on the other hand, I essentially skipped/skimmed over. While it played a small tidbit in the end, the sections were too long focusing on his trouble rather than Arabella.

An easy read, and a proper romance. No language, no violence, no love scenes.

Book Review

Grant by Ron Chernow

Grant

 

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA+, very little language, descriptions of war, racial violence
Length: 1,074 pages
Author: Ron Chernow
Publisher: Penguin Press
Release Date: October 17th, 2017
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

 

MORE THAN A “DRUNKARD”.

Guys, look how long this book was. Holy moly. I know I said this when I read Hamilton, but I am not reading anything this long until KOA this October. I stand by this statement.

This book was so good. Ron Chernow once again eloquently pieces together the life of a true American Hero.

Grant was such a good person. It was his downfall at many moments in his life as he trusted quickly and couldn’t believe someone would go behind his back. His inherent belief in other’s though, gave so much color to his life.

He worked hard to keep America together through the Civil War, and even harder when President. It was amazing learning all of the facts about his life. How he didn’t really even want to be President, but also didn’t want to say no. Julia, his wife, was someone who stuck by Grant’s side always, and helped him through his drinking issues.

It was surprising as well that he really wasn’t so much of an alcoholic as his enemies desperately tried to convey to the U.S. So many stories were mostly conjecture, while so many more stories told of how he often turned his wine glass over at dinner parties to ensure he wouldn’t have any. Ironically enough, cigars were his real downfall.

ALSO, MY DEAR FOLLOWERS, THE “S” IN HIS NAME DOESN’T STAND FOR ANYTHING. For real. Probably one of the most surprising facts in this entire book haha.

Great read for older ages who have the attention span for a long haul [that I totally almost gave in, which is why it’s taken me so long to post again]. A tiny bit of language, and descriptions of the many wars he was apart of and the violence he witnessed. Also, quite a bit of racial violence as Grant dealt with the KKK and post Civil-war Southern issues.

Book Review

Review: Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

Before We Were Yours

 

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Adult, no language, child violence/abuse/neglect, no love scenes
Length: 342 pages
Author: Lisa Wingate
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Release Date: June 6th, 2017
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

TAKES A LOT OUT OF YOU.

Oh this book. Oh my heart. WHY ARE PEOPLE THE WAY THAT THEY ARE? It’s one thing to completely fictionalize something, but it’s another to know that it’s a historical fiction.

CRAP LIKE THIS ACTUALLY HAPPENED.

Rill and her siblings are swept on the most horrible river of life. I was only moderately appeased by the end, because things yes, do end ‘well’, but then you remember once again all the trauma that they went through and it pulls on your heart strings again.

Be wary that this may be too much for some readers. Thankfully, things aren’t described in depth, but things are insinuated that makes you hug any small child you know tighter.

I enjoyed the perspective of Avery Stafford, but didn’t know if it was totally necessary. I felt it was more added to help give light to the shadows of the past which I do appreciate. There was just some bits that weren’t needed.

Better suited for someone a bit older, no language that I can recall. A lot of child abuse, neglect, and violence. No love scenes, a kiss.