Tag Archives: book review

Review: Potions and Pastries (Magical Bakery Mystery #7) by Bailey Cates

About Potions and Pastriespotionsandpastries

Series: Magical Bakery Mystery(#7)
Paperback: 320 pages
Published: November 2017 by Berkley
Source: Publisher via Netgalley

Preorder it on Amazon

Goodreads DescriptionIn this New York Times bestselling mystery series, witch Katie Lightfoot bakes enchanted treats–and faces more than her fair share of toil and trouble…. 

It’s been exactly two years since Katie and her aunt and uncle opened the Honeybee Bakery, where they serve delicious–and bespelled–treats to the good people of Savannah. After a dinner celebrating the bakery’s anniversary, they all take a stroll along the waterfront and meet Aunt Lucy’s friend Orla, a colorful character who has been telling the fortunes of locals and tourists alike for years.

The next day, Orla meets with what seems like a terrible accident, but Katie’s witchy intuition tells her it was something more sinister. Together with her trustworthy coven and her firefighter boyfriend, she’ll race to find out what happened to the unfortunate fortune-teller before the piping hot trail goes cold….

My Review

 

Guys, I was so excited for this book. There’s a small handful of cozy series that I keep up with, and this is one of them. I’ve had it on my watch list for months, and actually squealed when I saw it on Netgalley.

The Magical Bakery Mystery series is one of my favorites because it’s got a bakery, witchy-powers, and an adorable familiar named Mungo. I love the characters, and I love the setting. I’ve come to expect a good, solid mystery with a fair amount of character drama, and Potions and Pastries didn’t disappoint.

Katie is still one of my favorite sleuths, because she’s pretty even keel. She doesn’t wildly jump to conclusions, she doesn’t really accuse people, and she follows every lead. Her relationship with Declan continues to grow and mature, and I’m really excited to see what happens in the next book. As for the rest of the cast of characters, I love the spellbook club, and was a little saddened they weren’t bigger players in this one!

As always, the book came with several scrumptious recipes – maybe one of these days I’ll give one a try!

 

Big thanks to Berkley and Netgalley for the ARC!

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Review: American Gods by Neil Gaiman

About American Godsamericangods

Hardcover: 635 pages
Audio: 19 hours
Published: June 2011 by Harper Audio
Source: Purchased

Buy it on Amazon

Goodreads DescriptionFirst published in 2001, American Gods became an instant classic, an intellectual and artistic benchmark from the multiple-award-winning master of innovative fiction, Neil Gaiman. Now, discover the mystery and magic of American Gods in this 10th anniversary edition. Newly updated and expanded with the author’s preferred text, this commemorative volume is a true celebration of a modern masterpiece by the one, the only, Neil Gaiman.

A storm is coming….

Locked behind bars for three years, Shadow did his time, quietly waiting for the magic day when he could return to Eagle Point, Indiana. A man no longer scared of what tomorrow might bring, all he wanted was to be with Laura, the wife he deeply loved, and start a new life. But just days before his release, Laura and Shadow’s best friend are killed in an accident. With his life in pieces and nothing to keep him tethered, Shadow accepts a job from a beguiling stranger he meets on the way home, an enigmatic man who calls himself Mr. Wednesday. A trickster and rogue, Wednesday seems to know more about Shadow than Shadow does himself.

Life as Wednesday’s bodyguard, driver, and errand boy is far more interesting and dangerous than Shadow ever imagined. It is a job that takes him on a dark and strange road trip and introduces him to a host of eccentric characters whose fates are mysteriously intertwined with his own.

Along the way, Shadow will learn that the past never dies; that everyone, including his beloved Laura, harbors secrets; and that dreams, totems, legends, and myths are more real than we know. Ultimately, he will discover that beneath the placid surface of everyday life, a storm is brewing – an epic war for the very soul of America – and that he is standing squarely in its path.

Relevant and prescient, American Gods has been lauded for its brilliant synthesis of “mystery, satire, sex, horror, and poetic prose.”

My Review

I finally finished!!!! Whew, that was long.

I’m really, really torn about American Gods. I really liked some of it, and I really hated some of it. I’ve heard that you either love the book or hate it, but that’s not really true for me. I just sort of…read it.

No doubt, that statement just lost me serious street cred from some of you.

But seriously, I understand why so many people love American Gods. And why so many hate it. For me, all the fantasy God-related stuff was…boring. Hard to follow. Hard to care about. And yes, I realize that’s the whole point of the book.

But it isn’t, really. Sure, in some ways American Gods is a fantasy novel, a metaphor for American culture. But it’s also a travelogue, an ode to America. That’s the part that I loved – Shadow’s time spent traversing the country, the people he met, and the circumstances he found himself in. I didn’t care about Laura, I didn’t care about most of the Gods, but I did care about the people of Lakeside. I also cared about Wednesday, about Jackal and Ibis, and about Czernobog, oddly enough.

This review is all over the place, but that’s kinda how I felt reading it. A lot of the “talkable” stuff was lost on me, simply because I couldn’t focus on half the story.

Jimmie read American Gods right before I did, and he enjoyed it but also didn’t care much for the Gods. I told him that I was somewhat sad American Gods was his first taste of Gaiman, and perhaps that’s the best thing for me to say. The book isn’t terrible, by any means, but I don’t think it’s the kind of book that everyone will love. To me, The Graveyard Book is a lot more accessible, and Norse Mythology is a much better look at mythology.

If you’ve read American Gods, where did you come down on the love it/hate it spectrum?

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Review: Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

About Exit Westexitwest

Hardcover: 231 pages
Published: March 2017 by Riverhead
Source: Library via Overdrive

Buy it on Amazon

Goodreads DescriptionIn a country teetering on the brink of civil war, two young people meet—sensual, fiercely independent Nadia and gentle, restrained Saeed. They embark on a furtive love affair and are soon cloistered in a premature intimacy by the unrest roiling their city. When it explodes, turning familiar streets into a patchwork of checkpoints and bomb blasts, they begin to hear whispers about doors—doors that can whisk people far away, if perilously and for a price. As the violence escalates, Nadia and Saeed decide that they no longer have a choice. Leaving their homeland and their old lives behind, they find a door and step through.

Exit West follows these characters as they emerge into an alien and uncertain future, struggling to hold on to each other, to their past, to the very sense of who they are. Profoundly intimate and powerfully inventive, it tells an unforgettable story of love, loyalty, and courage that is both completely of our time and for all time.

My Review

We are all migrants through time.

Those six words perfectly sum up not just Exit West, but humanity today. What are we, but migrants through time?

I don’t even really know what to tell you about Exit West . It’s hard to describe. In some ways, it’s a love story. In others, a social commentary. In yet other ways still it’s a travelogue. But I think that’s the point – Exit West is one of those rare stories that doesn’t have to fit in a box, that shouldn’t fit in a box. It’s a powerful and heartbreaking novel about the power of love and loss and identity.

Exit West follows a young couple, Nadia and Saeed, as they flee their home country in search of a better life. They’re lovers, and friends, and family. The country they flee is never identified, but that isn’t important – what’s important is their home has become a place where it is no longer safe to live. And so they run, through a metaphorical door, to another country and another life. Their journey takes them first to Greece, then to London, and then to the United States. Along the way they grow and change, and their relationship does as well. In their migration, they become truer versions of themselves.

I’ll be flat out honest and admit Exit West is not the sort of book I typically enjoy. Immigrant fiction just hasn’t been something that speaks to me. I talked about this some in my review of Behold the Dreamers, but it generally comes down to the fact that I just can’t relate to the characters. And for me, not being able to relate to the characters is a huge problem. I’m a character reader.

But Exit West grabbed me, and wouldn’t let me go. There’s something incredibly powerful in Nadia and Saeed, and in Hamid’s writing. Suddenly, it didn’t matter that I’ve never left my home for a better life, that I’ve never felt oppressed or threatened or unsafe. I was right there with them, going through those doors, carving out a new way of life. I hurt for them, and I hurt for the millions of people around the world experiencing their story every day. I mourned their losses, and celebrated their victories. And so Mohsin Hamid has done what I thought was impossible – he has made me care about a population I have absolutely nothing in common with. And I thank him for it.

Exit West is short, but don’t mistake it for quick. It took me a week to read, and it’s only a little over 200 pages. The writing isn’t intense, but the story is, and Hamid is the kind of writer who gets the most out of the words he uses. Exit West has been Longlisted for the 2017 Man Booker Prize (alongside Lincoln in the Bardo and The Underground Railroad, among others). Will it win? We’ll see, but in my mind, it definitely deserves to be shortlisted.

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Blog Tour: The Sworn Virgin by Kristopher Dukes

About The Sworn Virginswornvirgin

Hardcover: 352 pages
Published: August 2017 by William Morrow Paperbacks
Source: Publisher via TLC Book Tours

Dukes’s gripping historical novel tells the tale of a desperate Albanian woman who will do whatever it takes to keep her independence and seize control of her future…even if it means swearing to remain a virgin for her entire life.

When eighteen-year-old Eleanora’s father is shot dead on the cobblestone streets of 1910 Albania, Eleanora must abandon her dream of studying art in Italy as she struggles to survive in a remote mountain village with her stepmother Meria.

Nearing starvation, Meria secretly sells Eleanora into marriage with the cruel heir of a powerful clan. Intent on keeping her freedom, Eleanora takes an oath to remain a virgin for the rest of her life—a tradition that gives her the right to live as a man: she is now head of her household and can work for a living as well as carry a gun. Eleanora can also participate in the vengeful blood feuds that consume the mountain tribes, but she may not be killed—unless she forsakes her vow, which she has no intention of ever doing.

But when an injured stranger stumbles into her life, Eleanora nurses him back to health, saving his life—yet risking her own as she falls in love with him…

“It’s hard to believe that the culture Dukes describes was ever real, but the amount of research she put into this book definitely shines through. The story remains fascinating throughout; readers will definitely find it difficult to put this novel down.”—San Francisco Book Review

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

About Kristopher Dukes

Kristopher Dukes was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. She has been a nationally published writer since she was in high school. Her work has been featured in the bestselling book series Written in the Dirt and fashion bible WWD. She has been profiled in Vogue.fr, NY Times.com, Fast Company, Forbes.com, and WWD. The Sworn Virgin is her debut novel. She lives in Manhattan Beach, California, with her husband, Matt, and Doberman, Xena.

Connect with her on Facebook.

My Thoughts

Eleanora meant for each day to be an adventure, whether she traveled on foot or merely in her mind.

I just love that quote from the beginning of the book. It shows the person Eleanora could have been, should have been, and maybe would have been if her life had been different.

I’ve been really excited to read The Sworn Virgin ever since signing up for the blog tour a few months ago. I haven’t read a good historical fiction in a while, but it’s a genre I typically enjoy quite a bit. The idea of Eleanora’s story was right up my alley – a woman who swears herself a virgin in order to escape a terrible marriage, who then (of course) falls in love. But, I was also a little skeptical. It’s easy for that kind of story to go horribly wrong. And while I won’t go that far, though I enjoyed it, ultimately The Sworn Virgin left me wanting more.

My biggest beef was the pacing. The first 50 or so pages dragged so slowly for me. There’s a lot of exposition that’s important, but there’s also a lot that isn’t. That said, once the story finally got going, staying engaged was easy.

I didn’t like Eleanora, exactly, but I rooted for her. She struck me as sort of an unlikeable Cinderella at first – spoiled by her father, then has her whole life turned upside down by his death. (Without the singing animals, of course!) In fact, let’s talk about Eleanora for a minute. She’s only 18 years old in the story, but it’s really easy to forget that and think she’s older. Often I caught myself rolling my eyes at her or thinking she was ridiculous. Don’t get me wrong, most of the time she WAS being ridiculous, but that’s a lot easier to accept – and forgive – when you remind yourself she’s 18.

Back to the pacing, I thought Eleanora’s interactions with Cheremi were entirely too rushed. Dukes spent a lot of time building up Eleanora as this semi-self-reliant, strong-willed sworn virgin, only to rush through her transition into “woman/wife.” For me, that created a distinct lack of tension that felt at odds with the rest of the story. I also struggled to see Cheremi as a love interest, and never truly cared about their relationship. The conflict resolved hastily, and in my mind, left a lot of loose ends (what happened to Meria!?). I do have to give Dukes credit for her ending though – while in a way it felt like the book just sorta stopped, I also think the ending worked.

I’m glad I read The Sworn Virgin. I enjoyed getting back into the historical fiction realm!

Check out the rest of the Blog Tour stops, and show your fellow readers some love!

 

Thanks to TLC Book Tours and Harper Wave for the chance to participate in this tour! 

Review: Ten Birthdays by Kerry Wilkinson

Ten Birthdays isn’t quite the book I thought it would be, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. A charming summer read. 

About Ten Birthdaystenbirthdays

Paperback: 226 pages
Published: April 2017 by Bookouture
Source: Netgalley

Buy it on Amazon

Goodreads Description: “There are going to be so many things I wish I could’ve told you in person, Poppy. I won’t get the chance to do that, so perhaps this is my only way…”

It’s Poppy Kinsey’s birthday. She should be blowing out candles and opening presents – but hers falls on the type of heart-wrenching, agonising anniversary she would far rather forget. The worst day of them all. The day her mother died.

But this year is special because the person she misses most in the world has left her a set of letters, one for each of her next ten birthdays. As Poppy opens them year by year, she discovers that no matter how tough life gets, her mum will always be by her side, guiding her along the way.

My Review

I picked up Ten Birthdays expecting to read a sappy story about a girl and her mom. I had the tissues ready and felt like I was emotionally prepared for a John Green-style roller coaster. Turned out I didn’t need any of that. Ten Birthdays isn’t a tear-jerker. Honestly, it’s not even all that emotional.

We meet Poppy on her 16th birthday. She’s doing her best to ignore it, since her birthday also happens to be the one-year anniversary of her mother’s death. Poppy and her friends go shopping, and Poppy realizes something’s up about the same time she walks into a room full of people throwing her a surprise party. Oops. Once she calms down, Poppy’s dad hands her a letter from her mom, written before her death. The letter is a way for her mom to stay in her daughter’s life, and share things with her. The remaining chapters of the book tell us what happens on Poppy’s birthdays, ending with her 25th.

I liked the premise of Ten Birthdays, because it kinda reminded me of P.S., I Love You. The two books are nothing alike, however. Poppy’s letters serve as backdrops for the events, and I admired the way Wilkinson fit them together. Her mom’s letters are relatively short, and strike a fine balance between amusing and “mom wisdom.” I appreciated the lightness of them, but in a way, they often felt unneccessary.

And I think that’s my biggest complaint with the book. The letters from Poppy’s mom simply didn’t add anything to the story. I think I’d have gotten just as much out of the book if it’d been billed as a “day in time” style, similar to David Nicholls’ One Day. I didn’t hate the birthday letters, but they lacked any real emotional connection to the story.

Despite that, or maybe because of it, I did enjoy Ten Birthdays quite a bit. It was a light, cute read, somewhat predictable, but with a well-crafted ending. This would be a good beach read, honestly.

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Review: A Potion to Die For by Heather Blake

About A Potion to Die Forapotiontodiefor

Series: Magic Potion Mysteries (#1)
Hardcover:
 313 pages
Published: November 2013 by NAL
Source: Purchased

Buy it on Amazon

Goodreads DescriptionTROUBLE IS BREWING…

As the owner of Little Shop of Potions, a magic potion shop specializing in love potions, Carly Bell Hartwell finds her product more in demand than ever. A local soothsayer has predicted that a couple in town will soon divorce—and now it seems every married person in Hitching Post, Alabama, wants a little extra matrimonial magic to make sure they stay hitched.

But when Carly finds a dead man in her shop, clutching one of her potion bottles, she goes from most popular potion person to public enemy number one. In no time the murder investigation becomes a witch hunt—literally! Now Carly is going to need to brew up some serious sleuthing skills to clear her name and find the real killer—before the whole town becomes convinced her potions really are to die for!

My Review

I’m a huge fan of Heather Blake’s Wishcraft Mysteries, and I’ve had a copy of A Potion to Die For on my shelves for well over two years. For some reason I just never got around to reading it! I’d always see the cover, swoon, and think, “I really need to read that.” FINALLY, I just grabbed it and started. Took me long enough.

A Potion to Die For is the first book in the Magic Potion Mysteries. Carly owns a potion shop, but very few people know the truth – she’s actually a witch, and the potions contain a secret ingredient that makes them real. Despite the secret, Carly’s shop has a strong customer base. At least, that is, until someone is found murdered in her shop, holding one of her potion bottles. Time for Carly to save her reputation and her shop!

Like I said, huge fan of the Wishcraft Mysteries, so I had high hopes. Plus, that cover. Unfortunately, I felt a little let down. I didn’t connect with Carly much as a character. In fact, I was more interested in her cousin Delia. I also thought the town was a little silly, though that could be because it reminded me of Pigeon Forge, the heart-shaped-hot tub capital of the world.

As with most cozies, I guessed the killer pretty early – but don’t let that sway you. I read a lot of cozies.

I’m sure I’ll continue the series at some point, but for now, I have more than enough cozies to keep me going. My two cents? If you’re looking for a supernatural cozy, check out the Wishcraft Mysteries instead.

 

 

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Book Club: The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald

About The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommendthereadersofbrokenwheelrecommend

Book Club: June 2017 
Hardcover: 
394 pages
Published: January 2016 by Sourcebooks Landmark
Source: Purchased

Buy it on Amazon

Goodreads Description: Once you let a book into your life, the most unexpected things can happen…

Broken Wheel, Iowa, has never seen anyone like Sara, who traveled all the way from Sweden just to meet her pen pal, Amy. When she arrives, however, she finds that Amy’s funeral has just ended. Luckily, the townspeople are happy to look after their bewildered tourist—even if they don’t understand her peculiar need for books. Marooned in a farm town that’s almost beyond repair, Sara starts a bookstore in honor of her friend’s memory.

All she wants is to share the books she loves with the citizens of Broken Wheel and to convince them that reading is one of the great joys of life. But she makes some unconventional choices that could force a lot of secrets into the open and change things for everyone in town. Reminiscent of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, this is a warm, witty book about friendship, stories, and love.

Why We Picked It

The theme for June was In a Land Far, Far Away. We didn’t really come prepared, so I pulled out my “Book Club Recs” list on Goodreads. The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend sounded promising, and since the main character traveled halfway across the world we figured it met the theme.

My Thoughts

Clearly, I have a thing for Swedish authors. By now it’s no secret that I’m a card-carrying member of the Fredrik Backman fan club. I also really loved the Millennium Trilogy (that’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), written by Stieg Larsson, also Swedish. As is Katarina Bivald.

Needless to say, I’m going to look for more Swedish authors, so let’s hear those recommendations.

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend is kind of a love story to books and small towns. Sara is a bit of a wet blanket, but for once in her life has decided to do something bold by traveling halfway around the world to spend two months in a town she’s never heard of with a pen pal she’s never met. Unfortunately, the pen pal dies right before Sara arrives, so she’s stuck in town and knows literally no one. It’s a relatively common theme, but one I almost always enjoy.

There are certainly books that do it better, though. Jenny Colgan’s The Bookshop on the Corner is a far better story. I found The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend to be much too predictable and cliche. And unlike Nina, Sara doesn’t really grow as a character. Her situation changes because the backdrop changes…not because she actually makes changes.

I still enjoyed it, don’t get me wrong – a lot, in fact.

 

Book Club Discussion

This was another super short conversation. For the most part, we all agreed. The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend is a light, easy read, but not the best example of the books-about-books genre.

July/August Book Club Theme: Firecracker (Dynamic Characters)

July/August Book Club Book: The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick

Blog Tour: My Glory Was I Had Such Friends by Amy Silverstein

About My Glory Was I Had Such Friendsmyglorywasihadsuchfriends

Hardcover: 352 pages
Published: June 2017 by Harper Wave
Source: Publisher via TLC Book Tours

Goodreads Description: In this moving memoir about the power of friendship and the resilience of the human spirit, Amy Silverstein tells the story of the extraordinary group of women who supported her as she waited on the precipice for a life-saving heart transplant.

Nearly twenty-six years after receiving her first heart transplant, Amy Silverstein’s donor heart plummeted into failure. If she wanted to live, she had to take on the grueling quest for a new heart—immediately.

A shot at survival meant uprooting her life and moving across the country to California. When her friends heard of her plans, there was only one reaction: “I’m there.” Nine remarkable women—Joy, Jill, Leja, Jody, Lauren, Robin, Valerie, Ann, and Jane—put demanding jobs and pressing family obligations on hold to fly across the country and be by Amy’s side. Creating a calendar spreadsheet, the women—some of them strangers to one another—passed the baton of friendship, one to the next, and headed straight and strong into the battle to help save Amy’s life.

Empowered by the kind of empathy that can only grow with age, these women, each knowing Amy from different stages of her life, banded together to provide her with something that medicine alone could not. Sleeping on a cot beside her bed, they rubbed her back and feet when the pain was unbearable, adorned her room with death-distracting decorations, and engaged in their “best talks ever.” They saw the true measure of their friend’s strength, and they each responded in kind.

My Glory Was I Had Such Friends is a tribute to these women and the intense hours they spent together—hours of heightened emotion and self-awareness, where everything was laid bare. Candid and heartrending, this once-in-a-lifetime story of connection and empathy is a powerful reminder of the ultimate importance of “showing up” for those we love.

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

About Amy Silverstein

Amy Silverstein is the author of Sick Girl, which won a “Books for a Better Life Award” and was a finalist for the Border’s Original Voices Award. She earned her Juris Doctor at New York University School of Law, has served on the Board of the United Network of Organ Sharing (UNOS), and is an active speaker and writer on women’s health issues and patient advocacy. She lives in New York.

Find out more about Amy at her website, and connect with her on Facebook.

My Thoughts

My deepest apologies to TLC book tours for being a serious slacker in actually finishing the books they’ve sent me this month. Or at least, finishing them before my assigned tour date, since I fully intend to finish them both this week. But anyway.

Books like My Glory Was I Had Such Friends are hard to review. Memoirs are life stories, so how do you in essence say, hey that’s a good life story or hey that’s a bad life story? I can’t, anyway. So that leaves technical aspects, which isn’t always easier and can even make you feel like a jerk. Honestly, I’m struggling a little with this one, so bear with me as I try to piece together my thoughts.

As far as subject matter goes, there’s no denying that Amy Silverstein is a remarkable woman – though I suspect that’s the last thing she wants to hear. I’ve learned so much about organ donation that I never knew, and I’m thankful for that. If that’s a cause you’re interested in (or if you just like medical stuff), definitely pick up My Glory Was I Had Such Friends. 

Technically speaking, I’ve really been interested in what I’ve read so far. Silverstein writes well enough, and though the chapters are a bit long, they’re engaging. There is a fair bit of background in the beginning to sift through – I’m only now at the point where I’m starting to read about her hospital stay, and I’m about 150 pages in. That isn’t a fault, as I think the background is critical to setting it up.

I’m anxious to read more, because I’m hopeful there’s quite a bit of growth coming. Not just from Amy, but from each of the women who stay by her side. As someone younger than Amy and her friends, I kinda see My Glory Was I Had Such Friends as an instruction manual for how to be a better friend. I’m not sure if that’s the intent or not. Regardless, all I can say at this point is, how lucky would we all be if we had such women in our lives?

Check out the rest of the Blog Tour stops, and show your fellow readers some love!

 

Thanks to TLC Book Tours and Harper Wave for the chance to participate in this tour! 

Review: Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel

About Waking Godswakinggods

• Series: Themis Files (#2)
• Hardcover:
 325 pages
• Audio: 9 hours
• Published: April 2017 by Random House Audio
• Source: Purchased

Buy it on Amazon

Goodreads DescriptionAs a child, Rose Franklin made an astonishing discovery: a giant metallic hand, buried deep within the earth. As an adult, she’s dedicated her brilliant scientific career to solving the mystery that began that fateful day: Why was a titanic robot of unknown origin buried in pieces around the world? Years of investigation have produced intriguing answers—and even more perplexing questions. But the truth is closer than ever before when a second robot, more massive than the first, materializes and lashes out with deadly force.

Now humankind faces a nightmare invasion scenario made real, as more colossal machines touch down across the globe. But Rose and her team at the Earth Defense Corps refuse to surrender. They can turn the tide if they can unlock the last secrets of an advanced alien technology. The greatest weapon humanity wields is knowledge in a do-or-die battle to inherit the Earth . . . and maybe even the stars.

My Review

I knew about halfway through Sleeping Giants that I was going to listen to Waking Gods, even though I had no idea what happened next in the story. Much of what I loved so much about Sleeping Giants is present in Waking Gods. That feeling of suspending belief and imagining a universe where we’re not alone is still very much part of the story.

That said, in Waking Gods we learn a lot more about the background, and we watch how the world deals with the discovery of other life forms. It’s less of an action thriller and more of a political one. That isn’t a bad thing, but it does alter the pacing significantly. I still finished this one quickly, but I didn’t feel compelled like I did with Sleeping Giants. 

For those of you listening to it, I do want to warn you: not all of the narrators are the same between the two books. Kara is different, and though the new narrator is close, it took me a while to get used to her.

I’m also going to semi-spoil it for you and tell you that not everyone survives Waking Gods. And while I understand why Neuvel killed the characters he did, I don’t actually think he had to. I think the story could have progressed much the same way had they lived. I suppose we’ll see for sure in the third book.

When I reviewed Sleeping Giants, I made the comment that I kinda liked the thought of an alien race who’s just as (or more) advanced as we are. Then, I said to ask me if I still felt that way after reading Waking Gods. Answer? Yes, I still think it’s neat, even if the aliens turn out to be (shocker) not so friendly.

No word yet on when we can expect Book 3, but I’ve got my fingers crossed for early 2018. There’s also some buzz that Sony picked up the film rights….dare we hope?!

Missed my review of Sleeping Giants? Look here.

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Blog Tour: News of the World by Paulette Jiles

About News of the Worldnewsoftheworld

• Hardcover: 240 pages
• Published: June 2017 by William Morrow (reprint)
• Source: Publisher via TLC Book Tours

Goodreads Description: In the aftermath of the American Civil War, an aging itinerant news reader agrees to transport a young captive of the Kiowa back to her people in this morally complex, multi-layered novel of historical fiction from the author of Enemy Women that explores the boundaries of family, responsibility, honor, and trust.

Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd travels through northern Texas, giving live readings from newspapers to paying audiences hungry for news of the world. An elderly widower who has lived through three wars and fought in two of them, the captain enjoys his rootless, solitary existence.

In Wichita Falls, he is offered a $50 gold piece to deliver a young orphan to her relatives in San Antonio. Four years earlier, a band of Kiowa raiders killed Johanna’s parents and sister; sparing the little girl, they raised her as one of their own. Recently rescued by the U.S. army, the ten-year-old has once again been torn away from the only home she knows.

Their 400-mile journey south through unsettled territory and unforgiving terrain proves difficult and at times dangerous. Johanna has forgotten the English language, tries to escape at every opportunity, throws away her shoes, and refuses to act “civilized.” Yet as the miles pass, the two lonely survivors tentatively begin to trust each other, forming a bond that marks the difference between life and death in this treacherous land.

Arriving in San Antonio, the reunion is neither happy nor welcome. The captain must hand Johanna over to an aunt and uncle she does not remember—strangers who regard her as an unwanted burden. A respectable man, Captain Kidd is faced with a terrible choice: abandon the girl to her fate or become—in the eyes of the law—a kidnapper himself.

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Photo by Jill Gann

About Paulette Jiles

Paulette Jiles is a novelist, poet, and memoirist. She is the author of Cousins, a memoir, and the novels Enemy Women, Stormy Weather, The Color of Lightning, Lighthouse Island, and News of the World. She lives on a ranch near San Antonio, TX.

Find out more about Paulette at her website.

My Thoughts

I admit that I’ve only read half of News of the World. I thought I’d have plenty of time with a 200 page book to knock it out over the weekend. I didn’t think about the fact that it was the 4th of July weekend.

News of the World is the kind of story that makes you feel like you’re in it. It’s slow and steady, with almost a rolling cadence to the words. Jiles writes in a way that uses very few words to describe character interactions – but those words are chosen carefully enough to have maximum impact. Reading it, I feel like I’m in the wagon with Captain Kidd and Johanna.

I’m really enjoying the way the Captain and Johanna are learning to get along. Watching Johanna’s experience makes me stop and think about being a stranger in a strange land. I think a lot of the themes are ones that apply today, despite the fact that News of the World is set right after the Civil War.

I don’t want to give this one a rating yet, because I’m not finished with it – but if I had to guess, it’ll be a solid 4 stars. Don’t be fooled by the short length – News of the World has the makings of a great story.

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Thanks to TLC Book Tours and William Morrow for the chance to participate in this tour!