Friday, February 26, 2016

Let There Be Dragons by Kim Cormack

Let There Be Dragons is the third book in Kim Cormack's Children of Ankh series.  Let me say that if you have not started this series yet, or if you need a good series to begin this is it.  Let There Be Dragons picks up right where Enlightenment leaves off.  Kayn has survived the Testing with her clan, but she has come out a different person, she is now a Dragon like Lexy, and Zach is her Handler.  She and Zach need to learn their new roles as they take on jobs and new tasks.  All the while Kayn needs to learn her new Conduit abilities as well.  Let There Be Dragons is full of everything that makes a nothing beyond fantastic, there is action (demon battles), romance (Lexy and Gray, Kayn and Frost, Zach and....).  It is a series that needs to be read, demands to be read.

Kim starts the ball rolling in Sweet Sleep when we are introduced to Clan Ankh, Kayn and Kevin.  Readers grow to love everyone in the story and BAM, Kim throws in a twist.  Enlightenment, we watch Kayn grow with her clan and learn to deal with the loss of Kevin and gain the strength needed to survive the test, the BAM again more twists.  She keeps this momentum in Let There Be Dragons, now we see Kayn in a new, more dangerous role.  Kim has a talent for building up the tension and creating a tone throughout the novel that makes readers want to stop time and just read.  Once I got to the end I seriously wanted to scream because I didn't want it to end.  Kim leaves her readers desperately craving more as Kayn craves energy and hot sauce.

This volume of the series also gives us a bit of a steamy scene between Kayn and Frost, as scene that would put traditional romance novels to shame!  As she builds the general tension between characters and action, she also builds the sexual tension between the two.  While the characters are already well develop throughout the series thus far, Kim finds ways to develop them even more and adds new depth and meaning to them in each installment.  I don't think I have read a series that had such complex and multi-layered characters.  I cannot wait for more from Kim, I am excited to see what she has in store for Clan Ankh, and wonder if maybe there are other versions of the story in the works.  How great would it be if we could have a series that focuses on Kevin, or even Clan Trinity?  hint hint Kim!

Seriously, if you haven't read Sweet Sleep yet, do it.  Begin the journey with the Children of Ankh, I promise you will not be disappointed.  The series just keeps getting better.  This would be a series I could definitely see as a movie franchise.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Harper Lee

It is with great sadness that I write this ppst.  Harper Lee was an inspiration in many ways.  To Kill A Mockingbird was one of the first books to change my life.  The world lost a great author and a phenomenal woman with the passing of Harper Lee.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Throne of Glass by Sarah Maas

Throne of Glass by Sarah Maas is the first book in the series with the same name.  It is a young adult, action/adventure, fantasy novel.  It follows a young woman Celaena Sardothien who has the reputation of being the countries most notorious assassin.  She has spent a year in salt mines as punishment for her crimes when the Crown Prince arrives and offers her the chance at her freedom.  All she needs to do is compete against 23 other "champions" to become the King's Champion and serve as his assassin for 4 years. 

For Celaena this is not a challenge, but when champions begin to die by a mysterious creature unknown to this world, Celaena begins to wonder if there is something more sinister happening.  While she trains for her Tests, she tries to figure out who or what is killing off the champions, all the while showing those around her that there is more to this girl than a ruthless assassin.

I admit I was not 100% sure about this novel when I picked it up.  The cover was something that really drew me into the book, and I will be honest: I bought it because of the cover.  I am not one for stories on assassins, I find they tend to focus a lot on politics, but Throne of Glass did not focus so much on the politics, but on Celaena's competition, interpersonal relationships, and her evolvement.  There were moments that allowed to magic,  magically symbols, and artifacts, and even a hidden truth to Celaena's background that she might not even know about.  I found the story to be enthralling and found myself staying up into the wee hours trying to finish it because I couldn't get enough.

Maas does a wonderful job at bringing the world around Celaena to life with her descriptions, dialogue and character interaction.  Just when you think you have everything figured out Maas throws a twist into the story that throws all reader theories out the window.  She creates characters that are so easy to love and antagonists who are so easy to hate.  The characters  all evolve and develop into something more complex as the story progress, and the interesting thing is that they develop and evolve together.

This book would appeal to readers of all ages and those who love fantasy and assassin novels.  I am very happy the cover art drew me into and I took a step outside my comfort zone.  I found a series I will most likely love, you might too.  I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Boys In The Trees By Carly Simon

Boys In The Trees is the memoir of singer Carly Simon.  It is a sincere reflection on Carly's childhood and the events that led to the beginning and end of her career.  She opens up not only about her past loves, but also struggles she had to overcome to become the success that she was.

I am not one for memoirs, as a reader, I honestly do not get much out of them.  But occasionally there are some that have been inspiring such as When Breath Becomes Air and entertaining such as Carol Burnette's memoirs.  Boys in The Trees was unfortunately neither of those for me.  I found this memoir a little difficult for me to read.  Carly seemed to drone on about things, and skipped around a lot, so it was difficult keeping track of any sort of timeline. 

Some of the things she talked about seemed over-exaggerated or embellished a little bit.  While some moments were entertaining and interesting to read, it felt like there was something she was hiding, something she was holding back on.  There were points in the story that became difficult to read because of this.  There were things she began to describe, but didn't follow through it.  There was an overwhelming feeling that this book is incomplete, which brings the overall feeling of the book down a little.

I would recommend this if you are a fan of Carly Simon and music.  I will warn you though, you might be disappointed with it as I was.  I would give this a 2.5 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

When Breath Becomes Air is a memoir about Paul's transition from being a doctor to being a patient after his diagnosis with terminal lung cancer.  This is a heartwarming story that will not only provide thought-provoking moments but also cause your emotions to swell.  It goes through his training as a neurosurgeon and the things he aspired to accomplish during his career, and then to his experiences through the cancer and how his viewpoint on life and it's meaning had changed.  Sadly Paul passed away before the book was finished and his wife Lucy added the final touches to the memoir, which adds a more personal and heartwarming touch to it.

This was a difficult book to read because my own personal battle with cancer, so my reaction to the book might be different than someone else's reaction.  Many of the things Paul talks about are things that I thought about and experienced during my treatments, so it brought back a lot of memories and made me reflect on my treatments.  But it also opened my eyes to what other people experience during this time of crisis, and how we all deal with crisis differently.  He talks a lot about what gives life meaning both as a doctor and as a patient.  Where does a person draw that line and decide life no longer has meaning?

Paul writes with an understanding that transcends anything any reader can hope to understand.   As you are reading the book you can almost feel as if you are hearing his voice as he discusses life as a neurosurgeon and then life as a cancer patient.  It is a story of a man trying to discover his identity when what he identified with was taken away.  There really are no words that would be able to do this memoir justice in describing it.  Heartwarming and thought provoking seem to fall drastically short.  I recommend this book to everyone whether or not you like memoirs, this is a book that needs to be read.  It will change your own viewpoint.  I give this a 5 out of 5 rating.

Monday, February 1, 2016

A Cry From The Dust by Carrie Parks

A Cry from the Dust by Carrie Parks is a thrilling tale following forensic artist Gwen Macey.  Gwen is working on recreating faces of three skulls that have been found in Utah for a museum when a group comes into to view the exhibit.  A young woman faints at the sight of one of the masks.  A few hours later than same girl is discovered murdered in her room, beginning a wild investigation involving militant Mormon organizations intent on hiding secrets.  Will Gwen be able to figure out the truth before it is too late?  Or will she become another victim?

This book is the kind of book that wraps itself inside your head and refuses to let go.  Gwen is such a complex and compelling character; she is a recently divorced, cancer surviving single mother with a keen eye for detail and subtlety.  She is a stronger, yet weak character, but weak in the sense that she is afraid to reach her full potential.  She struggles to trust people other than those she holds dear (Dave, Beth and her daughter).  She has been through so much that she is afraid she will lose things all over again.  She not only has to rebuild her life as a single mother, but also her reputation (we don't know specifically what happened in the past).  She is not so much weary of the people around her, but of herself.

The story focuses on Gwen and Beth finding a lost history within the Mormon Church, a secret revolving around the death of Joseph Smith.  There is a lot of research and resources throughout the novel the women use that makes it feel real, but one must remember this is a book of fiction and not take some aspects of the novel as truth.  Gwen and Beth both face betrayal in someone they trusted with information, a trust that gets Gwen into more trouble than she desires.  Parks develops the story with engaging descriptions, complex dialogue, and intense character interaction.  She draws readers into the story from the very first paragraph, and doesn’t let go until the very end.  Parks draws on her own forensic science and cancer survival experience adding a personal aspect to the story and cultivates realistic emotions and train of thoughts.

As the novel draws closer to the end the point of view begins to shift occasionally between Gwen and her daughter Anyslee which is done when Gwen goes in one direction and Beth and Anyslee in another.  As this is done, the tension and suspense in the story also builds, but this also keeps the story progressing in two directions: what is happening to Gwen and what is happening at a critical event.  One surprising things was Gwen not knowing what a death mask was; one would think an experienced forensic artist would know what a death mask was.  There are some Christian elements to the story such as Gwen praying at one point or Beth telling her to rely on God, but those elements are not overdone, and fit well with the story.  It is something else that adds a personal touch to the novel.

This is a book mystery thrill seekers would find appealing; it has all the elements that create a fantastic mystery novel.  This would also be a great novel to start with if one if starting to read mystery genres.  Honestly, any book worm would love to have this book on their shelf, as there is something for everyone in it.