A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash

Posted by on Jan 29, 2018 in 2018, 4.5 stars, Book Review, Wiley Cash | 3 comments

A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley CashA Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash

Genre: Fiction
Format: Trade Paperback and ebook
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 306
Source: Purchased (paperback), Library(ebook)

The Book:
From the back cover:

For a curious boy like Jess Hall, growing up in Marshall means trouble when you get caught spying on grown-ups. Adventurous and precocious, Jess is protective of his older brother, Christopher, a mute whom everyone calls Stump. Though their mother has warned them not to snoop, Stump can’t help sneaking a look at something he’s not supposed to-an act that will have repercussions. It’s a wrenching event that thrusts Jess into an adulthood for which he’s not prepared. He now knows that a new understanding can bring not only danger and evil-but also the possibility of freedom and deliverance. Told by resonant and evocative characters, A Land More Kind Than Home is a haunting tale of courage in the face of cruelty and the power of love to overcome the darkness that lives in us all.

My Thoughts:
Every single one of my friends who recommended this book was right. I loved it.

The book is told by three people in alternating chapters.
Jess is 9 years old and his voice as both observer and protagonist is the one that will stick with me.

Adelaide Lyle is an older woman who took it upon herself to keep the children outside of the local church during services.

Clem Barfield is the local sheriff who has his own sad past and a history with Jess’s grandfather.

It’s the preacher in the local church who is the embodiment of evil dressed as a messenger of God.

This is a heartbreakingly sad story but it is beautifully told and I won’t soon forget these characters. The story itself grabbed me right away and was eager to find out what happened. Along the way Cash created a place and atmosphere that I could almost tactically sense as I was reading. The more the story continued the more I started to dread the outcome.

I’ve seen many reviews that stress how Cash was able to accurately capture the regional dialect and area of western North Carolina. I know I could both see and hear what was happening in my mind as I read it.

The lyrical writing is a stark contrast to the violence of the story but it all works so beautifully. I am definitely looking forward to reading Wiley Cash’s new book.

4.5 stars Rating 4.5/5

Read More

Fables Vol. 18: Cubs in Toyland by Bill Willingham

Posted by on Jan 26, 2018 in 2018, 4.5 stars, Bill Willingham, Comics | 0 comments

Fables Vol. 18: Cubs in Toyland by Bill WillinghamFables Vol. 18: Cubs in Toyland by Bill Willingham with art by Mark Buckingham, Lee Loughridge, et al.

Genre: Fantasy, Comics
Format: Trade Paperback Comics Collected Edition
Series: #18 in the Fables series
Publisher: Vertigo
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: 192Source: Library

The Book:
This volume 18 is a compilation of issues 114-123 of the comic series
From the back cover:

Little Girl Lost

Her sister Winter was crowned the new North Wind, but all Therese Wolf got was a lousy toy boat.

She doesn’t much like the thing – and that’s before it starts whispering to her in the middle of the night, encouraging her to run away from home. But with her father preparing [sibling] for [their] new responsibilities and her mother busy with the rest of the brood, a magical journey might not be such a bad way to spend an afternoon.

Therese’s voyage takes her to the desolate shoreline of Toyland, where dwell the broken-down playthings of the Discardia. Wooden, metal, plastic or stuffed, they’re all looking for a queen to fix their bodies and their realm.

But these toys are broken in more ways than one.

As her family – led by her wild brother Dare – frantically searches for her, what will become of Therese when she discovers the terrible truth about Toyland? And what price must be paid to save her life – and her soul?

My Thoughts:
This was so good. It was both wonderful and horrible and probably one of the more complex and interesting books in the series. The prophecy about Snow White and Bigby Wolf’s seven cubs is starting to come true.

The first child will be a king.
The second child a pauper.
The third will do an evil thing.
The fourth will die to stop her.
The fifth will be a hero bold.
The sixth will judge the rest.
The seventh lives to ages old, and is by heaven blessed.

This is a grim and disturbing tale. These are not comics for children. This is not the pretty Island of Misfit Toys from Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer.

The final two issues in this volume are about Bigby Wolf’s early days. It filled in some very interesting history about him.

As usual the artwork by Mark Buckingham and others is wonderful. Part of the story is only told in images. The way the images coordinate with and expand on this story works incredibly well.

4.5 stars Rating 4.5/5

Read More

Binti: Home by Nnedi Okorafor

Posted by on Jan 25, 2018 in 2018, 4 stars, Book Review, Nnedi Okorafor | 2 comments

Binti: Home by Nnedi OkoraforBinti: Home by Nnedi Okorafor

Genre: Science Fiction
Format: eBook
Publisher: Tor/Forge
Publication Date: 2017
Pages: 101
Source: Library

The Book:
From the publisher:

It’s been a year since Binti and Okwu enrolled at Oomza University. A year since Binti was declared a hero for uniting two warring planets. A year since she found friendship in the unlikeliest of places.

And now she must return home to her people, with her friend Okwu by her side, to face her family and face her elders.

But Okwu will be the first of his race to set foot on Earth in over a hundred years, and the first ever to come in peace.

After generations of conflict can human and Meduse ever learn to truly live in harmony?

My Thoughts:
This is the second in a trilogy of novellas. The story is a fascinating blend of science fiction and coming of age story.

This one takes place a year after the first one in which a young girl form what is presently Namibia becomes the first of her people to go to a University across the galaxy. That was a life changing experience for Binti in ways you can’t imagine and I won’t tell you because I’m not giving away what happens in the first book. .

This one feels very much like the middle part of the story. Binti returns home She’s suffering from PTSD. She doesn’t feel like she fits anywhere and the alien friend she’s brought with her isn’t going to help the situation at all.

I’m glad I was already on the library waiting list for the final book in the series because this one ended on a cliffhanger.

If you’re looking for short but interesting books for your next readathon you should pick up this series

4 starsRating 4/5

Read More

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds – Audio Edition

Posted by on Jan 19, 2018 in 2018, Audio, Book Review, Uncategorized | 4 comments

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds narrated by Jason ReynoldsLong Way Down by Jason Reynolds narrated by Jason Reynolds

Genre: Fiction
Format: Audiobook
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Publication Date: 2017
Length: 1 hour, 43 minutes
Source: Library

The Book:
From the cover flap:

Sixty seconds.
Seven floors.
Three rules.
One gun.

Will’s older brother, Shawn has been shot. Dead.
Will feels a sadness so great, he can’t explain it. But in his neighborhood there are THE RULES”
No. 1: Crying
No matter what.

No. 2: Snitching
No matter what.

No. 3: Revenge
No matter what.

But bullets miss. You can get the wrong guy. And there’s always someone else who knows to follow the rules.

My Thoughts:
I heard about this one from when Beth Fish Reads mentioned it on twitter. My libreary had the audio cd edition available so I requested it right away. I knew it was a novel in verse and I prefer to hear verse rather than read it.

It’s a short book (1 hour and 43 minutes) so it won’t take you long to either read or listen to it. This book was so good and powerful that I requested the print edition from the library so that I could read it again in that format.

Most of the story takes place in a one minute elevator ride. Fifteen year old will sets out to get revenge for his older brother’s shooting death. He has Shawn’s gun and he is planning to kill the person he’s sure killed Shawn.

That elevator ride becomes a powerful experience for both Will and readers.

This book is phenomenal. I haven’t stopped thinking about it since I finished listening to it. I’m glad I read both the print and audio editions but I highly recommend that you listen to this one. The audio edition includes an interview with the author in which he talks about what inspired him to write this and his reasons for narrating the audiobook himself.

Don’t miss this one.
5 stars 5/5 for the book

5 stars 5/5 for the narration

Read More

The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie

Posted by on Jan 16, 2018 in 2018, 3.5 stars, Agatha Christie, Book Review | 2 comments

The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha ChristieThe Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie

Genre: Mystery
Format: Hardcover
Series: #1 in the Hercule Poirot series
Publisher: Black Dog & Leventhal
Publication Date: 1920 Originally, 2006 This Edition
Pages: 224
Source: Library

The Book:
From the Google Books:

When an aging heiress is found fatally poisoned, the amazing Hercule Poirot, brilliant Belgian criminal investigator, is brought out of retirement to solve the case. In this classic tale of murder, jealousy and greed, Agatha Christie introduced the famed sleuth, who is immediately confronted by mysteries within a mystery – a door bolted from the inside of the victim’s room; the disappearance of a coffee cup believed to have held the poison, the charred remains of a will, a strange fragment of fabric and a curious rug stain found near the body. All are puzzling pieces of evidence in a crime for which there is no shortage of suspects, not the least of which are the victim’s philandering husband, an assortment of unhappy relatives and an extremely outspoken hired companion!

My Thoughts:
I’ve read several of Christie’s Miss Marple books and enjoyed them. I decided I wanted to start her Hercule Poirot series. I hadn’t realized that this was her first published novel

The story was enjoyable. There was plenty of humor and entangled romane along with the mystery. As often happens in Christie’s mysteries there are plenty of suspects. At certian points it appears that nearly all of them could be the killer.

Poirot is a friend of the narrator of the story and just happens to be visiting the little town at the time of the murder. This is my first introduction to Poirot. I haven’t even watched any of the movies that feature him. Even so based on some of the actors who have portrayed Hercule Poirot I was surprised at the first description of him.

Poirot was an extraordinary looking little man. He was hardly more than five feet, four inches but he carried himself with great dignity. His head was exactly the shape of an egg, and he always perched it a little on one side. His moustache was very stiff and military.

That certainly doesn’t sound like some of the actors I know have played Poirot such as Peter Ustinov or Alfred Molina.

Anyway, after I adjusted my mental image of Poirot I went on to thoroughly enjoy the story.

If you haven’t read it I recommend you give it a try. Considering it’s nearly 100 years old it’s held up as an entertaining and interesting mystery story.

3.5 stars Rating 3.5/5

Read More

Destiny of the Republic by Candice Millard

Posted by on Jan 11, 2018 in 2018, 4.5 stars, Book Review | 4 comments

Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President by Candice MillardDestiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President by Candice Millard

Genre: Nonfiction
Format: Hardcover and ebook
Publisher: Doubleday
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 376

The Book:
From the publisher:

James A. Garfield was one of the most extraordinary men ever elected president. Born into abject poverty, he rose to become a wunderkind scholar, a Civil War hero, and a renowned and admired reformist congressman. Nominated for president against his will, he engaged in a fierce battle with the corrupt political establishment. But four months after his inauguration, a deranged office seeker tracked Garfield down and shot him in the back.

But the shot didn’t kill Garfield. The drama of what hap­pened subsequently is a powerful story of a nation in tur­moil. The unhinged assassin’s half-delivered strike shattered the fragile national mood of a country so recently fractured by civil war, and left the wounded president as the object of a bitter behind-the-scenes struggle for power over his administration, over the nation’s future, and, hauntingly, over his medical care. A team of physicians administered shockingly archaic treatments, to disastrous effect. As his con­dition worsened, Garfield received help: Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone, worked around the clock to invent a new device capable of finding the bullet.

My Thoughts:
I had seen so many good reviews of this book I was expecting it to be good and I wasn’t disappointed at all. It’s the story of President Garfield, his assassin, madicine in late 19th century and of Alexander Graham Bell’s invention of an early metal detector to attempt to find the bullet inside Garfield’s body.

Garfield was shot on July 2nd but didn’t die until September 19th. AT that time there were not secret service or bodyguards for the President.The story of the ‘medical’ care he received during that time is horrifying compared to modern knowledge. It was completely normal for doctors to stick unsterilized fingers into the Presiden’ts wound in attempts to locate the bullet.

Science would soon exceed even Bell’s expectations. Had Garfield been shot just fifteen years later, the bullet in his back would have been quickly found by X-ray images, and the wound treated with antiseptic surgery. He might have been back on his feet within weeks. Had he been able to receive modern medical care, he likely would have spent no more than a few nights in the hospital.
Even had Garfield simply been left alone, he almost certainly would have survived. Lodged as it was in the fatty tissue below and behind his pancreas, the bullet itself was no continuing danger to the president. “Nature did all she could to restore him to health,” a surgeon would write just a few years later. “She caused a capsule of thick, strong, fibrous tissue to be formed around the bullet, completely walling it off from the rest of the body, and rendering it entirely harmless.”

The story of assassin Charles Guiteau is of a mentally unstable man. He didn’t consider what he was planning to be murder. In his mind God wanted him to “remove the President’ so that the other faction of the Republican party would be in control of the Government. In actuality he wasn’t the primary cause of Garfield’s death. That distinction goes to the primary doctor.

Bell’s story is sad because he wasn’t able to perfect his Induction Balance in time to save the President.

This is up there with some of the best nonfiction I have read. I will definitely be adding Candice Millard’s other books to my TBR list.

4.5 stars Rating 4.5/5

Read More