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The Garden of Small Beginnings by: Abbi Waxman

June 29, 2017

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I was looking for a good summer book to read and the title of this book caught my eye.  If I’m not reading this time of year, you can probably find me in the garden.  Even though this story revolves around a very tragic event, it shows how a family can eventually move forward and grow into a new life after the loss of a loved one.  You will meet Lilian, a single mother, her two daughters, Annabel and Clare and Lilian’s sister, Rachel.  The characters in this story are quirky, funny, real and honest.  They carry on with life as best as they can while trying to figure out the future.  Woven into the story you will find gardening tips and humor that are an added bonus.  If you are looking for a book that draws you in and keeps you turning the pages, try it and see if you agree with me.

Inferno (the movie)

March 31, 2017

I will not give away any spoilers-

This is an adaption of a book by the talented Dan Brown, following Prof. Langdon in another adventure.

The book was fantastic, inspiring and brilliantly laid out and written with the characters and plot fit together so perfectly…

 

The first time I tried to watch it, I fell asleep. The second try, I wish I had fallen asleep.

I understand the book and movie are not always similar. But in my opinion, the way they did the movie was an absolute disaster. It altered the very essence of the book, it’s theme and the moral grounds on which Dan Brown writes.

Of course they altered character’s appearances to make them more “Hollywood”, younger and more attractive. Obviously needless love stories needed to be added as well; it was such a stretch from the book they really should have renamed it away from the book, as it was nothing alike it’s original format.

 

I hope at least it gets people’s attention to read the book and learn from there the wonderful plot and characters of Inferno.

To Stay Alive

March 29, 2017

by Skila Brown

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First of all, it is a quick read with a fantastic story woven in historical research. The pages vary in length, some only contain a handful of words. They still contain great power, as it is written in poem form; the strongest words picked to convey they merciless situation. It is not a gory story also, although strong content within as it tells the tragic stories of the unfortunate people in the Donner party.

Following another family before they set off to new adventures through the eyes of a teenage girl. They leave with plenty of time in the spring left, with fate only to intervene.

*Possible Spoiler Content Below*

 

A few small decisions ended being the turning points for their entire lives. Getting to a town and meeting the Donner family and several others, they change paths to follow a shortcut, saving time and supplies. However, the shortcut is not fit for the cattle and wagons, so they must turn back, losing valuable time and supplies. Early snowfall also impacted them, it is speculated that if it would have held up for a mere 24 hours they would have survived the trail.

The beginning is almost too suspenseful to manage, because everyone knows how this story ends (for some). When the snow gets too high they cannot move for days and weeks, becoming ill and weak, dangerously low on food with no game to be found to sustain all the families. Two men leave for supplies and help, one returns with two Indian guides and supplies on a mule from town. Another time they try to leave for supplies, they must turn back. A third attempt is made, with our main character trying to make a break for it, guilt ridden to be cared for by her mother, whom has no food to share with her family.

The trip is tragic, with the fateful decision being made. They get lost, and wander in circles 18 miles away from the town they were searching for before one person finding a house, and the other rescued by it’s owner.

The writing is brilliant, you felt for all of the characters, and the historical research  shines through with authenticity in every sentence.

A five star read! I finished it in two days, and still cannot get it out of my mind.

A Scanner Darkly

March 15, 2017

by Phillip K. Dick

 

The first cover is an excellent example of the split of personality and character of a man names Robert Arctor. He is an undercover agent, trying to bring down a drug manufacturing operation. The second cover is a perfect example of what a ‘scanner’ suit would look like, in order to conceal the agent’s true identity.

Written in the ’60’s, PKD does an amazing job telling the troubling tale o the future. Set in 1994 (that’s pretty funny right? Or is it? With the heroin problem running rampant in our country, the scene is not difficult to imagine at times.)

Definitely a mature content book, the concepts alone are abstract at times and the events wherein divulge heavily on the dark inner circle of the ’60’s drug culture.

This book was made into a movie, which I saw first before reading the book, and that itself was very artistic and did a very comparable version of the books, leaving out only a few scenes overall.

The book is based on real events that PKD, in his own adventures, witnessed to some extent. In the following years of editing, the story itself emerged  perfectly into a paranoid thriller, where you aren’t sure who is who in reality.

Arctor is a head (hippie term) and also an undercover agent. More and more suspicious things begin to happen to him, a car malfunction that nearly kills him, pushing the paranoia farther as friends and roommates turn on each other. He is trying to buy larger and larger quantities of “substance death” or “D” for short, in order to find out who is behind the manufacturing of this highly addicting drug that basically melts part of the brain, separating the two halves. This causes great mental duress, although not necessarily known to the user.

Arctor, using larger quantities himself, can no longer remember both sides of himself. The twists and turns that follow are engaging and thought provoking.

 

 

The Lazy Guru’s Guide to Life

March 15, 2017

By Laurence Shorter

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The word ‘lazy’ conjuring a bad image, at least for me, but this book did a fantastic job of explaining exactly the right way to be ‘lazy’.

It is an easy read, with illustrations on nearly every page so you are not drowned in text.

And that in itself is an example of incorporating proper ‘lazy’ techniques.

It means to not overwork, not overthink. It does not mean do a poor job with substandard results.

Often times, we think about all the things we ‘should’ be, (thinner, smarter, nicer, faster, etc) the things we ‘should’ be doing (start the laundry, read more books, exercise more, etc)

Not that self betterment is something to avoid, but these ‘shoulds’ do not get the attention they truly deserve. We put all these thoughts and feelings into little boxes instead of feeling them naturally. In a synthetic world, it’s difficult to resort back to a natural flow.

 

This book was pretty amazing overall. Highly recommend to everyone. Leading a busy life, down in a rut, whatever your current situation is, this book will relate to you.

 

 

 

The Girl With All the Gifts

February 18, 2017

by M. R. Carey.

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I’ve just learned that it is soon to be released in a movie this month! (Feb. 24th is it’s release date.)

This book, without giving too much away, was pretty good. I found the concept amazing, and the beginning chapters unusual and intriguing. It’s a decently long book, at 460 pages, and took me awhile to read, to no fault of the book however.

The writing is more simplistic when from written from the point of view of the main character, Melanie who is a child, although unusual. Through-out the book we switch to other point of views and various characters which broadens the understanding of the character’s motivations and general world understanding.

Plot wise, I found it a new twist on the typical post-apocalypse story. The characters were solid and some surprising backstories made them feel like friends, confessing a great burden they carry with.

I liked it overall, the middle was a bit slow for me, but I was also reading it before bed so it might be purely my lack of focus.

Without giving too much away from the story, it focuses on a fungal parasite that has infected the majority of the world. The setting is in England, but the small community has not been in touch with the main city in some time, leaving us to wonder if they are dead or the radio signals have gone dark.

As we continue through the story, we find different levels of infection, or different ways the infected respond to the fungus. It reminded me a new spin on zombies, making them victims and attackers in one. They are used as hosts for the fungus as it grows and destroys the bodies of its victims.

The group eventually leaves the base camp and roaming unprotected in the world is hazardous as supplies run low.

By the end of it, I absolutely loved it and cannot wait for the movie’s release.

Heartless by Marissa Meyer

January 27, 2017

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I love how she brings a completely new twist on fairy tales (Lunar Series) and branches out into more classic children’s stories and revamps them for an older audience. We still love to read them but the retelling is often overdone. Marissa spins the stories in amazing new ways, adding a new level of technology to the world, placing the characters all over the world.

It is a YA book, but I’ve enjoyed all of her books nonetheless. I would classify it as dramatic romance with baking references. There isn’t much blood or ‘gore’, only a few fight scenes with Carroll’s legendary Jabberwocky. Honestly, the only thing that really bothered me about the book was the romance aspect of it. It seems all YA books for girls focus on finding a boy, falling in love, etc. Instead of the act of doing something, adventurous. However, this still had plenty of action. I just wish that was the forefront instead of the subplot.

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Heartless it is the prequel to Alice in Wonderland story wise.

As a Young Adult book it focuses on the young Red queen, before she was a queen. I loved how the story started, it was a perfect Wonderland spin off.

Catherine, our soon-to-be villain, paints the perfect picture of bad things happening in perfect sequence to completely alter someone’s life.

She is sole heir to her parent’s land and title. Her mother, closer to the queen we know in Alice in Wonderland, constantly criticizes her fashion and food choices. As well as her friends and suitors, really, her entire life and how she lives it.

Catherine is dedicated to her baking, also disapproved by her mother, but she thrives and practices her skill despite all her parent’s protests.

The king seeks her affection, despite her dreaming of a true love, with lemon trees growing from her dreams. Her friend, Mary Ann, is a servant of the household. (sound like a familiar name?) And a secret plot sprouts up from Chess, possibly involving Catherine. The Hatter before he goes mad and curious riddles makes for the most delightful tea party.

If you like Alice in Wonderland, you may love this book. Overall, I enjoyed this despite the small hangup I had early on.

 

Alli

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