The Salt Line by Holly Goddard Jones (5 out of 5) 

•September 11, 2017 • Leave a Comment

I got this as an advance from Sally Kim at Putnam. Thanks, Sally. I thought it is sounded good..like a more violent “Survivor”. I think I’m going to stand by that first impression, but please! Don’t let that stop you from picking up this fine novel. It was brought to us from the fine folks at Putnam, and is out in stores in hardcover. I strongly encourage you to check it up if you like gritty, edge-of-the-seat survival tales. This is all of that, and a little more. 

In the forseeable future, Earth’s borders have receded behind a salt line…a ring in which the inhabitants have to stay safe from disease-ridden ticks. And that’s just half the risk factor, folks! You know there will always be rebels; in this new form of Earth life, there are those who will pay money to leave the safe zone and venture out into what’s left of Mother Nature in an ill-advised thrill adventure. Wes, Edie, and Marta are among those heading into the latest outing to Ruby City, a town made up of outer-ring refugees who will stop at nothing to protect what they believe is theirs. Do these three stand a chance? As with many others, nothing is as it seems in Ruby City- nor with the relationships between the three outsiders, their newfound captors, and pretty much everything is a complete and utter mindfuck. You can call this dystopian. I would call it better. Goddard Jones paints a frighteningly realistic future world which may not fall too far from the tree of our current existence. I think it would make a fine movie, if Hollyweird doesn’t screw it up royally. Definitely worth the price of admission at your local bookstore. 

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The Dark Intercept (The Dark Intercept #1) by Julia Keller (2 out of 5)

•September 11, 2017 • Leave a Comment

I’m going to guess this is the beginning of a trilogy- the “norm” for number of books in the middle grade and young adult genres. I’m not sure how this will play out. I’m also pretty sure I am not going to pick up the rest of the trilogy. Just not my bag of herbicide. It is in the dystopian genre of teen/year 12/young adult, by the way. I think dystopian has had it’s moment(s) in the sun, and the genre has been done to death. Will I still read it? Of course. I have no personal opinion or beef with it; I just feel it has oversaturated the market. That’s why I am excited to see new graphic novels in those genres. I think THAT is the new hot thing in kids’ literature. This came in a box of advances, and truthfully, that cover rocks! I was very attracted to the cover. The story? Eh, not so much. 

Violet is the teen daughter of the man who created “New Earth”. There’s such a thing as “Old Earth”, where the vanguished and degenerates dwell. Violet is dying of curiosity and behs to visit “Old Earth”, only yo be denied time and time again by her dad, Ogden. She works on a panel that is controlled by “The Intercept”, a crime-prevention device that monitors and provokes emotion(aka weaponized emotion). Her partner on the panel is mad crushing in her, but Violet only has eyes for Danny, a cop who travels to Old Earth frequently (an ill-advised jaunt) and who gets into a violent altercation down there and asks for her to keep it secret. Violet begins an investigation into what he’s up to. What she finds will change everything she feels for the two Earths, her dad, best friend, and yes, even her secret crush. 

I wanted so badly to dig this book. It had all the setups in place to be a kick-ass book, and I’m sure it will be, for some people. Just not this one. I loved the realistic descriptions of the Earths, and the relationship between Valerie and her Dad. Valerie is where I had a hard time. She felt like any impulsive, impetuous teen with a steady job that tested her mettle and a crush on someone that her parent did not approve of. Come on; we’ve all been there! But Valerie spends a lot of time in the book arguing with herself and then backtracking. Her rationale for things seems protracted around Danny. Who cares if people are killed for no reason?! That’s how I felt. Instead of being a strong, warrior teen queen for the New Earth, she struck me as a mousy, weak female lead. Danny annoyed the hell out of me, as well. Throw it together with a plot that seemed to stall for entire chapters, and I just wasn’t buying it. No resolution in sight, and what’s the point of pitching a romance to the reader if there is no intention of following it yo any sort of resolution? Don’t lead your reader down a primrose path, when there are pretzels strewn about instead. 

The Dire King (Jackaby #4) by William Ritter

•September 8, 2017 • Leave a Comment

The last installment of the RF Jackaby series by William Ritter is bittersweet. I have been charmed by this eccentric investigator and his paranormal band of compadres for several years now. This latest book finds an evil king waiting in the shadows, twisting old world tensions into modern day warfare. Undead people start appearing in undead droves, detective Charlie Cane’s long distant family surfaces, adding more tension to an already fraught situation, and Jackaby fights his feelings for ghost lady Jenny, while poor Abigail is overwhelmed by her feelings for Charlie and fear of world destruction on high. New Fiddleham, New England may not survive this latest bout of pure evil. Nor may Jackaby and his associates.

This was as wry humored as the others, but there is a bittersweet tinge to it, as the reader is well aware that this is it, in regards to the series ending. It’s also pretty action packed, and the new characters introduced play important parts in the way things play out, so no extraneous people hanging around this set. The two romances see their fair share of the plot, and the ending is so “whoa!” that no one should get pissed at it. The only thing that made me yawn was the middle part of the book, with the unspectacular dialect wars and some boring happenstance that is worth not glossing over. Pretty great as the ends of a YA series go. If you think a paranormal Sherlock Holmes takeoff sounds good, it is…try this series. I will greatly miss the Jackaby books.

It’s All Relative: Adventures Up and Down the World’s Family Tree by A.J. Jacobs (4 out of 5)

•September 4, 2017 • Leave a Comment

This one’s not out until November 14, 2017. Put it on your list now! Especially if you are a fan of his previous books. What are those titles again? Let’s go over them. The Year of Living Biblically, Drop Dead Healthy, and the Know-It-All. This one is very similar to his others, as far as writing style goes. This book felt a little more personal, likely due to the magnitude of the project. This time around, A.J. decides to investigate genealogy and the Jacobs family tree. All of his investigating into his family line and beyond leads to checking out all of the genealogy websites. Could some be more legit than others? Do the Mormons and the Church of Latter Day Saints have more to do with genealogy than anyone is aware of? AJ finds out for us! His wife Julie and their twins get pulled into his project, as always. He decides to throw a large scale family reunion. Is he able to pull this off? Will he break a World Record? And why won’t Neil Degrasse Tyson cooperate with him? This book has a lot of scientific data, more than anything AJ has thrown at us in his previous books. I had to set it down a few times and go back to refresh. Not so bad as a damn calculus workbook or anything, but you may have to take chapters in small doses. Overall, you get great information, and that sarcastic humor hiding between the lines. It’s a great book and that perfect holiday book for the person who thrives on non-fiction balanced with a healthy dose of humor. This latest in Jacobs’ literography is brought to the masses by the fine folks at Simon & Schuster. Thank you to Wendy for sending me an advance! 

The History of Bees by Maja Lunde (5 out of 5) 

•August 23, 2017 • Leave a Comment

I got this from Wendy at Simon & Schuster a few months ago with a note attached saying they were very excited about this title. I read a number of books last week and this was the best one. Hands down! I have no idea when Wendy sent it…too many books…but I thank her for bringing me on board with it, because it is a great book. I often, I have to confess, finish a book and then I hop on Goodreads and Litsy and see what others thought. Litsy, my new favorite reader app, has hands up…meaning a hit. Goodreads was uniformly on the side of 3.5-4 stars. I’m confused by those who gave up and say it didn’t move fast enough. Hello, people! The pace is what it is, along all three narratives, because it is the type of story…through three different generations…that needs to take its time and tell the individual stories, because they end up being linked. The type of book that is one of those that stays with you. And it will. It is thought provoking and powerful in all of the best ways. 

England in the 1800’s brings us William, a man so in the grips of crippling depression, that he takes to bed for months. His son Edmund leaves him a book about beehives. Reinvigorated with new purpose, William, along with his doting daughter Charlotte, attempts to construct a new beehive and bring his family to acclaim. Flash forward to Ohio in 2007, where we meet George, a hard-working farmer who is trying to continue with the family business of beekeeping. He didn’t plan for the times to get to his son, Tom, who heads off for college and wants to pursue a writing career instead of taking over and helping with the family business and the farm. Our last story is the future, taking place in China in 2098. Tao is a hand pollinator, working long hours with many others at a time when bees have disappeared. China gives their hard working a “Day of Rest” and Tao and her husband disagree over how to spend it with Wei-Wen, their young son. Kuan, her husband, proposes they spend the day in town, but Tao is eager to stay close to home. She wins, they spend the day together, and Tao and Kuan drift off to sleep in a relaxed state. They wake to find their son has disappeared. Kuan finds him deep in the forest, unable to speak, and in the throes of a medical crisis. “The Committee”, the authorities in charge in China, take Wei-Wen away and leave both parents with no answers as to his condition and what happened to put him in that state. Of all three stories, this one was heartrending. I could not put Tao’s little family or their circumstances out of my mind. I could not put George or his heartland struggle out of my mind. I could not put the struggles of William trying to overcome his depression to make a prototype beehive in an attempt to bring his family honor, out of my mind. All three characters are caught up with and in the business of bees. There’s also the science aspect here that is addressed. The fact that there are no bees left in 2098 and there has to be hand pollination, is something that very well could happen. Bees aren’t having an easy time of it in today’s world, people. Google and read up. Do yourself a favor and pick up this book. Read it, love it, think about it, and recommend it. It’s out in hard cover now, courtesy of Touchstone, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. 

Finders Keepers (Bill Hodges #2) by Stephen King (3 out of 5) 

•August 18, 2017 • Leave a Comment

No image for this post. I have uploaded the picture of the cover five times. FIVE! But it won’t upload, no matter what I do. So it is imageless. Blame that troublesome bitch Mercury Retrograde. 

This is the second of the Bill Hodges trilogy, following “Mercedes Man”, which coincedentally, is now a TV series on the Audience Channel. I tore through that one, especially enjoying the camrarderie amongst Bill, Holly, and Jerome. It was a clicker of a book and kept my interest. I tore through this book quickly, but there was no appearance of the good recently retired detective for whom the trilogy is named, until more than halfway through. King has to set his scene, and this was no different. Reclusive author John Rothstein created an iconic character in one Jimmy Gold, but stopped writing after that, moved to a farm, and turned into a hermit. Crazy Morris Bellamy reads the last book in the Jimmy Gold trilogy and wigs the hell out because Rothstein wrote the character into a happy ever after lifestyle. He hatches a plot with two hoods, finds and kills Rothstein, steals mountains of cash from his home, and finds what he considers a true “find”- notebooks with longhand writings that contain a Jimmy Gold book never heard of…until now. And Morris has it! He kills his two accomplices, buries the loot and notebooks in a secret location, and ends up on a bender, which ends with him raping and assaulting a waitress. This gets him sent up the river for 25-30. Many years later, the waitress decides to grant him forgiveness after she gets sick, and Morris is set free. He goes to retrieve his unlawful gains, and it’s gone. Of course it is, because the kid who’s living in Morris’ old house found it. Morris is a vengeful and vindicative loonburger who wants what he believes belongs to him, and he sets about doing whatever- including murdering- anyone who gets in his way. Bill and Holly now run a business called Finders Keepers, and Pete’s terrified sister hires them to find out what secret her little brother is Pete. Jerome wanders in not long after, and they have a short amount of time to stop Morris before he exacts lethal justice on Pete. Can the Three Amigos pull it off again? Of course, King has his way of letting us know that the trio-and the readers- are not quite finished with Brady, aka “Mercedes Man” from the first novel, by having Bill visit the murdering psychopath in the hospital where he is kept, and several spooky scenes toward the end. Those were great scenes. I was totally on board with that struggle. The Morris vs. the Three? Not quite as invested. I wanted to get the book over with. I think I find it so unlikely that a reader will go that loony tunes over a series of books, and I did enjoy the tie-up to that angle, but I really want to get back to whatever that kook Brady is up to, because there is one more Bill Hodges book from King, and this was a nice respite between the beginning and the end. But not edge-of-the seat by any means. 

You’ll Grow Out Of It by Jessi Klein (5 out of 5)

•August 14, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Jessi Klein isn’t a very familiar name. Until you dig deeper. Turns out she’s the award winning head writer of the hilarious Comedy Central show, Inside Amy Schumer. She’s done writing for other shows, had her own stand-up special, and has been on NPR. Not a newbie by any means, but this is her first book. It’s newly released in paperback, from our friends at Hachette Book Group. I strongly encourage you to read it, especially if you are a fan of “real women’s essays”. What do I mean real women? Simple. No shrinking violets and weeping willows here. Jessi walks us through many parts of her life and gives it straight- from disastrous relationships to therapy to lingerie to whether you’re a poodle or wolf (proud wolf here!), the debacle of the wedding dress, engagement, IVF, among other real topics that more of the female population should talk about. Or write about. Or both. Or even recommend that other women read about these matters. Starting with this very book! Jessi adopts a tone that is open, brutally honest, and yes, hilarious. Reading about her and Mike (her husband’s) struggle to get pregnant was both poignant and humorous, because in her hands, she brings the good, the bad, and the funny. Not easy to do that while talking about a serious subject, but she does that. And pulls the reader in while doing so. A book that will entertain throughout and afterward. Here’s hoping that she decides to write a book about her career next. I’m sure I’m not the only one wanting to hear Amy Schumer stories!