☕ Book Break ☕ |~Across The Universe by Beth Revis~

~Across The Universe by Beth Revis~

Seventeen year old Amy, along with her parents, is cryogenically frozen in order to make a 300 year trip to a new earth. Someone starts the thawing process early, and Amy wakes. We don’t find out who until the end of the novel.

Amy doesn’t fit in with the other people. The small society of ship dwellers have become genetically similar over the generations spent on board, and Amy sticks out with her red hair and white skin. The ship dwellers’ behavior is odd and troubling. Elder, in training to become the leader of the ship, The Godspeed, is the only person Amy’s age on board. He finds Amy irresistibly attractive. Elder searches for the person who is tampering with the cryogenically frozen passengers and discovers much more.

My eldest picked this book for me at the library. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this novel. Before I made it to the last chapter, I felt the need to reserve the next book in the series. Many of the sci-fi novels my boys pick are too heavy on the technical side for me, but this one was perfect.

If you are a fan of sci-fi stories or shows, you might like this series. Great read. Highly entertaining. Satisfying ending to the book with enough left over to make me want to get the next book. Engaging. Satisfying story.

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☕ Book Break ☕ |~The Ocean at The End of The Lane by Neil Gaiman~

~The Ocean at The End of The Lane by Neil Gaiman~

I had no idea what this book was about or even what type of book it was when I picked it up. I thought it was suspense maybe. Instead, I was treated to fantasy.

I listened to the audiobook read by Neil Gaiman. I’m always curious to hear them read their own work, how they meant for the story to sound when they wrote it. I have to say Neil Gaiman is the best author narrator I have heard. Some authors probably should not read their own work, but I think Neil Gaiman could make a grocery list sound enthralling.
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A coming of age story at the crossroads of mystery and wonder, the book has tragedies and magic mixed together. Every once in a while, I like a story that has a little bit of magic and supernatural elements stitched through. .

The story has so many truths woven through it. The characters are fantastic. I adored this book.

“I lived in books more than I lived anywhere else.”

“Grown-ups don’t look like grown-ups on the inside either. Outside, they’re big and thoughtless and they always know what they’re doing. Inside, they look just like they always have. Like they did when they were your age. Truth is, there aren’t any grown-ups. Not one, in the whole wide world.” .
“I do not miss childhood, but I miss the way I took pleasure in small things, even as greater things crumbled. I could not control the world I was in, could not walk away from things or people or moments that hurt, but I took joy in the things that made me happy.”

“Books were safer than other people anyway.”

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☕ Book Break ☕ | The Broken Road by Richard Paul Evans

~The Broken Road by Richard Paul Evans~
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Charles James is a well known celebrity, widely recognized and wildly successful. Successful in his business, that is. In every other aspect of his life he is a failure. Additionally, he is plagued by a recurring nightmare that he is traveling down a broken road. One fateful day he has the chance to disappear, remake his life.
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This story starts with Charles James on a journey, and he is telling the story of his past. We kind of see where he ends up, at least in this first part of his story. . This novel is the first in a series of three. It did seem a little slow in parts, but overall an engaging tale with a moral.
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I enjoyed the book. A well written cautionary tale. If I had realized it was only one of three I might have waited, but then I am the sort who likes to wait until an entire series is done and binge. .
I think it was memorable enough that I will not need to reread when the next book comes out.
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Good, solid Richard Paul Evans. If you are a fan, you will like this book. Recommended.
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☕ Book Break ☕ | I’ll Be Your Blue Sky by Marisa de los Santos

~I’ll Be Your Blue Sky by Marisa de los Santos~

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Wow. This is my first book by Marisa de los Santos and I loved it.

Characters⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Dialogue ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Storyline⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The writing, oh my gosh, the writing⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Ok, so there were a few little things here and there but who cares? Her writing was so magnificent. I can’t say when I have enjoyed a book so much since Peace Like A River, which is my all time fav. What a wonderful ride!

The story shifts between two timelines, present day and 1950’s. On the day of her wedding, Clare meets Edith. After talking with Edith, she decides to call off the wedding. Then Edith dies leaving Clare, a virtual stranger, a house in Delaware. Situated on the coast Blue Sky House is chock full of mysteries. Clare untangles the past, finding connections along the way.

I love the balance between humor and seriousness.

This book ended exactly as a good book should! It left me with a feeling of hope. I ADORED the Dev character. I think I fell a little in love with him.

Did I say I love this novel? Not only is it on my to be reread pile, I did reread part of it immediately, which I have only ever done once before. Beautifully done.

I listened to the audio book with narration by Angela Dawe and‎ Erin Bennett. Fabulous job.

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☕ Book Break ☕ | As Bright As Heaven by Susan Meissner

 

~As Bright As Heaven by Susan Meissner~

“You think you have a view of what’s waiting for you just up the road, but then something happens, and you find out pretty quick you were looking at the wrong road.”

“Life is wonderful and beautiful but oh, how hard it can be.”

The Brights live in a small town, but after a tragedy, decide to move to the city for a fresh start and to take over an uncle’s funeral parlor business in hopes of a better life.

The Brights’ story begins in 1918 Pittsburgh during the pandemic of the Spanish Influenza. During this time of upheaval due to the spread of the disease and war, Maggie, then a young girl of thirteen, comes across a baby and takes him home.

This novel is told from the multiple viewpoints of the women in the Bright family, Pauline Bright, the mother, and the three daughters, Evelyn, Maggie, and Willa.

A wonderfully told tale of loss, love, and learning to do the best you can with what you are given.

I have always been fascinated by the stories that come out of historical events. The great flu pandemic changed the face of the world, and I am surprised to learn so many are not aware of the impact the Spanish Flu had.Susan Meissner takes the facts and weaves a spell binding novel of family drama with touches of romance and mystery. I finished this book in two days.

I especially enjoyed the splash of rebellion against conformity that the youngest sister adds!

The novel has a satisfying ending, even though not everything issunshine and roses. If you liked Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate, you may enjoy As Bright As Heaven. All in all, a very good read and recommended for book clubs.

As a side note, with the audio version it was difficult at times to tell the characters apart due to the similarities in the readers’ voices. This was not the fault of the narrators. The performance was fine, but they simply sounded too much alike at times. I noticed a sudden shifting in volume as well but it wasn’t enough to stop me from listening.

 

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Book Review| A Window to the World by Susan Meissner

 

Megan and Jen are best friends, enjoying a typical childhood. Then one day Jen is snatched when the girls are out riding their bikes.

The novel, A Window to the World by Susan Meissner, follows Megan from young girlhood as she grows into an adult, showing how this one terrible event impacts every decision she makes from the moment of the kidnapping. Nightmares haunt her and fear colors her world.

I expected the story to focus on Jen, or her parents, but instead, Meissner told the story of the child left behind. This was a different angle for an abduction story.  I was interested in the story told from the perspective of Megan, although the kidnapping and my desire to know What happened to Jen! was always in the back of my mind. Just about the time I was starting to worry maybe I would never find out, the question was answered. Good storytelling.

This is an inspirational read with Biblical truths at its core. I liked Meissner’s writing style and my attention never flagged throughout the book. This was an easy to read, high interest novel. I listened to the audio book on CDs narrated by Tavia Gilbert. The recording and reading was well done and easy to listen to. It was a good weekend novel.

 Find out more about Susan Meissner’s books at her website here. 

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Book Review| The Zookeeper’s Wife by Diane Ackerman

Book Review

The Zookeeper’s Wife

by Diane Ackerman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Zookeeper’s Wife by Diane Ackerman  is a high interest nonfiction account of the German invasion of Warsaw told from the perspective of Antonina Zabinski and her husband, Dr. Jan Zabinski. Diane Ackerman skillfully weaves together historical events of both horror and beauty.

The Zabinski’s, Active in the Polish underground, used the zoo as an unusual hiding place while attempting to carry on with the care of the animals, operating of the facilities as usual, and raising their children. Tales of the animals and the day to day operation of the zoo during this occupation break up the recounting of the people and their struggle to survive. Ackerman depicts the life and people of the Warsaw ghetto, giving us a glimpse into the terrible history.

A vast number of people passed through the zoo, and this book is brimming with anecdotes, bringing to life the characters. The narrative is full of interesting details on how people avoided detection and the extraordinary lengths and methods taken.

Ackerman delves into the history of the German mindset and recounted some of the experiments carried out by the Nazis. This retelling of history is not as graphic as others I have read, but the ideology exposed chills the soul.

The ZooKeeper’s Wife is a story of compassion and daring, and a story of real lives saved and lost. I would classify this as a necessary history, an exposition of humanity both good and evil. Well worth the read.

I listened to the audiobook on CDs. The book seemed to have a slow start, but the narrative garnered more of my interest as I listened.

Highly recommended.

Winner of the 2008 Orion Award

Lit Lover’s Reading Guide for The Zookeeper’s Wife

Author Website

Visit The National WWII Museum online here to listen to more first hand accounts of WWII.

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Book Review|The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio by Terry Ryan

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The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio: How My Mother Raised 10 Kids on 25 Words or Less

by Terry Ryan

The memoir The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio by Terry Ryan is entertaining and inspirational. Terry’s mother, Evelyn Ryan, used ingenuity and wit to battle poverty and raise her ten children despite a difficult home situation. Gifted with a writing ability, she kept the family afloat financially by making a career of entering product contests popular at the time.

Often, I was moved as I listened to the story of this family and the struggles they experienced growing up in the 1950s and 60s with an alcoholic father and constant financial uncertainty .

Although she was faced with trying circumstances, Evelyn handled them all with a no nonsense attitude colored with humor. Terry obviously has a great deal of love and respect for her mother. I think this book is a beautiful tribute.

This was a story that kept me engrossed. I listened to the audiobook and finished it in one sitting.

Recommended.

Issues of concern:

Father’s alcoholism, poverty, destruction of property, incident where father pushes mother and causes injury, lack of support

I listened to the audio version of The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio: How My Mother Raised 10 Kids on 25 Words or Less read by Terry Ryan, the author. This is an abridged version. The recording and the reading were well done and easy to listen to.

Book Discussion Questions for The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio from Mount Prospect Public Library

This memoir has been made into a movie, which I have viewed. The movie stays true to the version of the book I listened to with minor changes and deletions. I believe the heart of the story is conveyed quite well on the screen.

 

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Book Review | Matched by Ally Conde

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Matched

By Ally Conde

In the young adult dystopian, Matched by Ally Conde, all decisions are made for you, from your food intake to who you will marry. Cassia is content with her life, ready to accept whoever The Society has chosen as her match, but there is a glitch.

We follow Cassia’s story In this coming of age novel as she becomes more aware of the problems in The Society and begins to question her way of life. Events pull her along, forcing her to make choices.

The setting for the story is much like The Giver by Lois Lowry. Dystopian fans might like this story. If your young adult reader tends towards the typical teen love triangle, they may enjoy this book.

This is not a fast paced book when compared to other dystopian young adult novels, but I found it interesting enough to plan on reading the rest of the series.

I think it will appeal to a wide range of upper school aged young people.

This book was recommended to me by one of my sons.

Teaching Guide for Matched from Penguin Books 

Issues of Concern

Some kissing, hand holding, grandfather’s death, talk of war, student watch a film depicting scenes of violence, mention of poisoning, parents’ death, murder of boy.

I listened to the audiobook of Matched narrated by Kate Simes. I like her voice and felt it suited the character of Cassia well.

Another young adult dystopian novel reviewed on this site is The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary Pearson.

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Book Review|Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Never Let Me Go

By Kazuo Ishiguro

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“The problem, as I see it, is that you’ve been told and not told. You’ve been told, but none of you really understand, and I dare say, some people are quite happy to leave it that way.”

“I saw a new world coming rapidly. More scientific, efficient, yes. More cures for the old sicknesses. Very good. But a harsh, cruel, world. And I saw a little girl, her eyes tightly closed, holding to her breast the old kind world, one that she knew in her heart could not remain, and she was holding it and pleading, never to let her go.”

 

Kathy H is thirty-one years old and is entering a new phase of her life. The story unfolds as she looks back on her school days at Hailsham, a private school she attended with age mates Tommy and Ruth. Kathy reminisces with a sense of fondness for those days, but we quickly realize that all is not as it seems to be. Ishiguro’s style drew me along.

The children at Hailsham are continually told how special they are, but this specialness is shrouded in mystery and foreboding.

This alternative reality dystopian is quietly chilling, provoking the reader to examine their thoughts on the human soul and medical ethics. The story telling is brilliant.

Never Let Me Go is a beautifully written book worth reading and rereading. This book motivates thoughtfulness on many issues.

Lit Lovers Discussion Questions for Never Let Me Go 

Discussion Guide from Film & Bible Blog (contains a review with spoilers before the guide)

Issues that may be of concern (contains spoilers)

The students at Hailsham are clones created to be donors and will eventually “complete” after their organs are harvested, omission of information by teachers, Kathy looks at dirty magazines searching for the human “model” she was cloned from, frank discussion of sexuality, physical suffering, mental suffering, loss of hope, questions on what it means to be human, what is the soul, cloning, medical ethics, class structure.

I listened to the audiobook version of Never Let Me Go narrated by Rosalyn Landor. I found it to be well done and easy to listen to.

Other novels by Kazuo Ishiguro

A Pale View of Hills
An Artist of the Floating World
The Remains of the Day
The Unconsoled
When We Were Orphans
The Buried Giant

Another dystopian book that deals with medical issues and the meaning of the human soul is The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary Pearson.

I have not seen the film adaptation of Never Let Me Go, have you? What did you think?

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