Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

Posted by on Oct 20, 2017 in 2 stars, 2017, Book Review | 2 comments

Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeerAnnihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

Genre: Science Fiction, Thriller
Format: Ebook
Series: #1 in the Southern Reach Trilogy
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication Date: 2014
Pages: 195
Source: Purchased

The Book:
From the publisher:

Area X has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; the second expedition ended in mass suicide; the third expedition in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another. The members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within weeks, all had died of cancer. In Annihilation, the first volume of Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy, we join the twelfth expedition.
The group is made up of four women: an anthropologist; a surveyor; a psychologist, the de facto leader; and our narrator, a biologist. Their mission is to map the terrain, record all observations of their surroundings and of one another, and, above all, avoid being contaminated by Area X itself.
They arrive expecting the unexpected, and Area X delivers—they discover a massive topographic anomaly and life forms that surpass understanding—but it’s the surprises that came across the border with them and the secrets the expedition members are keeping from one another that change everything.

My Thoughts:
I bought this ebook when it was on a sale after hearing good reviews. Then I forgot I had it until I saw a trailer for the upcoming movie. After finishing a chunkster I wanted a short book to I decided to read this one.

The first half was exciting and kept my interest. I was enjoying the suspense and trying to guess what would happen next. Then the second half happened and the only reason I finished it was because it was so short.

The story went from thriller to just strange and began to feel repetitive. I wasn’t bothered by not having everything explained because I knew going in that this was the first book in a trilogy. I’ll have to look online to find out what happens because I don’t intend to read the other two books.

2 stars Rating 2/5

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The Body in the Library by Agatha Christie

Posted by on Oct 17, 2017 in 2017, 3.5 stars, Agatha Christie, Book Review, Uncategorized | 0 comments

The Body in the Library by Agatha ChristieThe Body in the Library by Agatha Christie

Genre: Mystery
Format: Trade Paperback and Ebook
Series: #3 in the Miss Marple series
Publisher: Harper
Publication Date: 1942 Originally, 2011 This Edition
Pages: 207
Source: Library

The Book:
From the publisher:

It’s seven in the morning. The Bantrys wake to find the body of a young woman in their library. She is wearing an evening dress and heavy makeup, which is now smeared across her cheeks. But who is she? How did she get there? And what is the connection with another dead girl, whose charred remains are later discovered in an abandoned quarry?
The respectable Bantrys invite Miss Marple into their home to investigate. Amid rumors of scandal, she baits a clever trap to catch a ruthless killer.

My Thoughts:
It’s been a while since I read a Miss Marple book. I wanted something short after finishing a chunkster and this was on my ereader. I was just what I needed. A classic mystery with just enough touches of humor.

This time around Miss Marple is one of several people investigating the murder both professional and amateur. Mrs. Bantry wants to be part of the investigation after she invites her friend Jane Marple to find out what happened. She wants the murder solved to prove her husband didn’t have anything to do with it but she doesn’t mind having a little fun along the way. Multiple police departments are involved as well as a retired Scotland Yard commissioner. Of course, Miss Marple is the one who solves the case.

I enjoyed this one partly for the characters and partly for the mystery. I had some guesses along the way but wasn’t sure before Miss Marple explained it all.

Now that I’ve read a few Miss Marple books I’m planning to start the Hercule Poirot series.

3.5 stars Rating 3.5/5

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The Romanovs 1613-1918 by Simon Sebag Montefiore

Posted by on Oct 13, 2017 in 2017, 4.5 stars, Book Review | 0 comments

The Romanovs: 1613-1918 by Simon Sebag MontefioreThe Romanovs 1613-1918 by Simon Sebag Montefiore

Genre: Nonfiction, History
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Knopf
Publication Date: 2016
Pages: 744
Source: Purchased

The Book:
From the publisher:

The Romanovs were the most successful dynasty of modern times, ruling a sixth of the world’s surface for three centuries. How did one family turn a war-ruined principality into the world’s greatest empire? And how did they lose it all?

This is the intimate story of twenty tsars and tsarinas, some touched by genius, some by madness, but all inspired by holy autocracy and imperial ambition. Simon Sebag Montefiore’s gripping chronicle reveals their secret world of unlimited power and ruthless empire-building, overshadowed by palace conspiracy, family rivalries, sexual decadence and wild extravagance, with a global cast of adventurers, courtesans, revolutionaries and poets, from Ivan the Terrible to Tolstoy and Pushkin, to Bismarck, Lincoln, Queen Victoria and Lenin.

My Thoughts:
I have been fascinated with the Romanov Dynasty ever since I read Robert K. Massie’s Nicholas and Alexandra when I was in High School. Since then I’ve read his Peter the Great and I have his Catherine the Great on my shelf. Along with those I’ve read many other books about the more famous Romanov Tsars and their families.

The reason I bought this one was because it wasn’t just about the famous three. It was about all of the Romanov Tsars including the Greats and the not so greats.

This is a dense book. There is a lot of information and multiple generations of similar names so keep track of. Montefiore has broken the book up as if it were a screenplay with each reign ‘scene’ having it’s cast of characters listed at the beginning of the chapter. That was extremely helpful.

I was glad I read this in both print and ebook format. Much of the time I was reading I had the ebook open on my phone so I could easily switch between the main text I was reading and the footnotes on my phone. Then periodically I’d pick up the hardcover to look at the photos.

4.5 stars Rating 4.5/5

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The Western Star by Craig Johnson – Audio Edition

Posted by on Sep 29, 2017 in 2017, 4.5 stars, Audio, Book Review, Craig Johnson | 2 comments

The Western Star by Craig Johnson narrated by George GuidallThe Western Star by Craig Johnson narrated by George Guidall

Genre: Mystery
Format: Audiobook
Series: #13 in the Walt Longmire series
Publisher: Recorded Books
Publication Date: 2017
Length: 7 hours, 39 minutes
Source: Purchased

The Book:
From the publisher:

Sheriff Walt Longmire is enjoying a celebratory beer after a weapons certification at the Wyoming Law Enforcement Academy when a younger sheriff confronts him with a photograph of 25 armed men standing in front of a Challenger steam locomotive. It takes him back to when, fresh from the battlefields of Vietnam, then-deputy Walt accompanied his mentor Lucian to the annual Wyoming Sheriff’s Association junket held on the excursion train known as the Western Star, which ran the length of Wyoming from Cheyenne to Evanston and back. Armed with his trusty Colt .45 and a paperback of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express, the young Walt was ill-prepared for the machinations of 24 veteran sheriffs, let alone the cavalcade of curious characters that accompanied them.
The photograph – along with an upcoming parole hearing for one of the most dangerous men Walt has encountered in a lifetime of law enforcement – hurtles the sheriff into a head-on collision of past and present, placing him and everyone he cares about squarely on the tracks of runaway revenge.

My Thoughts:
The bad thing about catching up with a series is the year long wait for the next book. And now I’m at that point again. It’s a little more painful this time because there is some unfinished business in the story that will have to wait for the next book.

Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed this one. One story is in the present and Walt is preparing to attend the parole hearing of someone he was involved in apprehending years ago. The other story told in flashback is about when Walt was a deputy and had just started working for Lucien. The two stories gradually converge and not only is the identity of the prisoner revealed, the reason for Walt’s doggedness in seeing that the prisoner wasn’t released becomes clear.

It was fun to see the younger Walt on a case and to also spend some time with the younger Lucien. I’m glad the story was not totally in the past because I like the supporting characters in the present-day story.

The Hubster and I went to see Craig Johnson at Powell’s. I was only a couple of chapters into the book at that point but he was good about not giving anything away. He said that he had too much story to fit into one book with this one so he had to find a way to split it into two books yet still have part of it resolved in this one.

Clearly I like this series since I’m still listening thirteen books in. George Guidall does a fabulous job of narrating these books. His voice characterizations are spot on and consistent.

As always with this series I highly recommend it and if audiobooks are your thing you should try that route. There is a progression to the books so you should really start with the first one.

Rating
4.5 stars 4.5/5 for the book

4.5 stars 4.5/5 for the narration

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The One Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel Greenberg

Posted by on Sep 15, 2017 in 2017, 4.5 stars, Book Review, Graphic Novel | 0 comments

The Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel GreenbergThe Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel Greenberg

Genre: Fiction, Graphic Novel
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: 2016 Little, Brown and Company
Publication Date: 2015
Pages: 224
Source: Library

The Book:
From the publisher:

In the Empire of Migdal Bavel, Cherry is married to Jerome, a wicked man who makes a diabolical wager with his friend Manfred: if Manfred can seduce Cherry in one hundred nights, he can have his castle–and Cherry.

But what Jerome doesn’t know is that Cherry is in love with her maid Hero. The two women hatch a plan: Hero, a member of the League of Secret Story Tellers, will distract Manfred by regaling him with a mesmerizing tale each night for 100 nights, keeping him at bay. Those tales are beautifully depicted here, touching on themes of love and betrayal and loyalty and madness.

My Thoughts:
So many people I know and trust recommended this graphic novel that I just had to get on the waiting list at the library.

I am so glad I did. This is simply a wonderful graphic novel. The story and the stories layered within it are interesting, fun, sad, touching, dark and also humorous.

Also beautiful is the artwork by the author. It places the action firmly in a world created by the daughter of a god.

The stories Hero tells become stories within stories and are about the women. They’re part fairy tale and part feminist manifesto. Some are retellings of familiar tales but with changes that still make them new. They are also about the stories and the power of storytelling.

I loved it and I think you will too

4.5 stars Rating 4.5/5

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The Painted Queen by Elizabeth Peters and Joan Hess – Audio Edition

Posted by on Sep 12, 2017 in 2.5 stars, 2017, Audio, Book Review, Elizabeth Peters | 0 comments

The Painted Queen by Elizabeth Peters and Joan Hess narrated by Barbara RosenblatThe Painted Queen by Elizabeth Peters and Joan Hess narrated by Barbara Rosenblat

Genre: Mystery
Format: Audiobook
Series: #20 in the Amelia Peabody series publication order, #14 in story chronology order
Publisher: Harper Audio
Publication Date: 2017
Length: 13 hours, 18 minutes
Narrated by: Barbara Rosenblat
Source: Purchased

The Book:
From the publisher:

Egypt, 1912. Amelia Peabody and her dashing archeologist husband, Radcliffe Emerson, are once again in danger as they search for a priceless stolen bust of legendary Queen Nefertiti and Amelia finds herself the target of assassins in this long-awaited, eagerly anticipated final installment of Elizabeth Peters’ best-selling, beloved mystery series.
Arriving in Cairo for another thrilling excavation season, Amelia is relaxing in a well-earned bubble bath in her elegant hotel suite in Cairo when a man with a knife protruding from his back staggers into the bath chamber and utters a single word – “murder” – before collapsing on the tiled floor, dead. Among the few possessions he carried is a sheet of paper with Amelia’s name and room number and a curious piece of pasteboard the size of a calling card bearing one word: “Judas”. Most peculiarly, the stranger was wearing a gold-rimmed monocle in his left eye. . . .

My Thoughts:
I have listened to and enjoyed all the Amelia Peabody books. Barbara Rosenblat’s narration has added to the entertainment. This will remain an audio book series that I will recommend. When Barbara Mertz (Elizabeth Peters) passed away I resigned myself to the end of the series. The good thing was that she had written the final book in the story chronology and her recent books went back and fit in the timeline between previous books. This meant that the series was left without an ending.

The Painted Queen was an unfinished manuscript that the author left when she died. Her estate asked Mertz’s friend Joan Hess to complete the book.

I knew going in that this wasn’t going to be classic Amelia Peabody but I couldn’t resist the chance for one last adventure with Amelia and her family. The book was enjoyable but it was clearly not all the original author’s work. It’s an adequate addition to the series but not a necessary one.

 

Rating
3 
<img src= 2.5/5 for the book

4 stars 4/5 for the narration

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