Friday, April 29, 2016

The Light in the Ruins

The Light in the Ruins
by Chris Bohjalian

Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery

Synopsis: 1943: Tucked away in the idyllic hills south of Florence, the Rosatis, an Italian family of noble lineage, believe that the walls of their ancient villa will keep them safe from the war raging across Europe.  Eighteen-year-old Cristina spends her days swimming in the pool, playing with her young niece and nephew, and wandering aimlessly amid the estate's gardens.  But when two soldiers, a German and an Italian, arrive at the villa, the Rosati's bucolic tranquility is shattered.  A young German lieutenant begins to court Cristina, the Nazis descend upon the estate demanding hospitality, and what was once their sanctuary becomes their prison.

1955: Serafina Bettini, an investigator with the Florence Police Department, has her own demons.  Serafina carefully hides her scars along with her haunting memories of the war.  But when she is assigned to a gruesome new case-a serial killer who who is targeting the Rosatis and murdering the remnants of the family one by one in cold blood-Serafina finds herself digging into a past that involves both the victims and her own tragic history.
from the back of the book

Review:  I listened to this as an audiobook and got through one and a half cds.  This book was completely different than I thought it would be.  I really like historical fiction books but this one was much more mystery than I like.  It was gruesome at parts and I just couldn't listen to it.  The historical aspect to the story didn't keep me interested enough to keep listening to the murder mystery parts.

Rating: abandonded

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Pax

Pax
by Sara Pennypacker

Genre: Juvenile Fiction

Synopsis:  Pax and Peter have been inseparable ever since Peter rescued him as a kit.  But one day the unimaginable happens: Peter's dad enlists in the military and makes him return the fox to the wild.

At his grandfather's house three hundred miles away from home, Peter knows he isn't where he should be-with Pax.  He strikes out on his own despite the encroaching war, spurred by love, loyalty, and grief, to be reunited with his fox.

Meanwhile Pax, steadfastly waiting for his boy, embarks on adventures and discoveries of his own...
from the book jacket

Review:  I had heard such good things about this book and unfortunately this book just didn't grab me.  I was looking for a heart grabbing emotional read about an animal and while parts of this book were somewhat moving, it fell flat for me.  My favorite part of the book was the relationship between Peter and a woman named Nova who he unexpectedly meets.  Nova has some wisdom for Peter and he in turn helps her out.  The chapters alternate between ones about Peter and ones about Pax and I found myself putting down the book during the Pax chapters and looking forward to the chapters about Peter.  There was so much talk about how humans destroy things and this was repeated in the chapters narrated by Pax.  It got repetitive and I just wanted something else to happen.  The end seemed a little anticlimactic for me.  I am not sure that middle grade students are going to get as much meaning out of this book as the author wants them to get out of the book.

Rating: 3 stars

The Fate of Ten

The Fate of Ten
by Pittacus Lore

Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy

Synopsis:  For years the Garde have fought the Mogadorians in secret. Now all of that has changed. The invasion has begun. If the Garde can't find a way to stop the Mogs, humanity will suffer the same fate as the Lorien: annihilation.

There is still hope. When the Elders sent the Garde to Earth, they had a plan—one which the Garde are finally starting to understand. In the climax of The Revenge of Seven, a group of the Garde traveled to an ancient pyramid in Mexico known to their people as the Sanctuary. There they awoke a power that had been hidden within our planet for generations. Now this power can save the world . . . or destroy it. It will all depend on who wields it.
from GoodReads

Review:  This book had more profanity than I would like to see in a young adult book.  There was one character in particular who liked to use profanity but there were other characters who used some as well which was a change from the previous books.  I like what happened when the Garde went to the Sanctuary and how it created a major twist in the story.  I wish the next book was already released so that I can see how everything gets resolved but this book made me hopeful for an ending that I would like to see.

Rating: 3.5 stars

To see my review of I Am Fourclick here.
To see my review of The Power of Sixclick here.
To see my review of The Rise of Nineclick here.
To see my review of The Fall of Fiveclick here.
To see my review of The Revenge of Sevenclick here.
To read my review of I Am Number Four, The Legacies: Lost Files 1-3click here.
To read my review of I Am Number Four; Secret Histories: Lost Files 4-6click here.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Cranes Dance

The Cranes Dance
by Meg Howrey

Genre: Fiction

Synopsis: Kate Crane, a soloist in a celebrated New York City ballet company, is struggling to keep her place in a demanding world, a world she can't help satirizing even as she balances injury and self-doubt to maintain her place within in.  At every turn she is haunted by her close relationship with her younger sister, Gwen, a fellow company dancer whose career quickly surpassed Kate's but who has recently suffered a breakdown and returned home to Michigan.  Alone for the first time, Kate is anxious and full of guilt about her role she played in her sister's collapse.  As we follow her on an insider tour of rehearsals, performances, and partners onstage and off, she confronts the tangle of love, jealousy, pride, and obsession that are beginning to fracture her own sanity.  Funny, dark, intimate, and unflinchingly honest, this book pulls back the curtains to reveal the private lives of dancers and explores the complicated bond between sisters.
from the back of the book

Review:  I listened to this as an audiobook so my review and rating of this book are also based upon the narrator of the story.  The first two chapters of this book are Kate's cattiness about the ballet and it made her seem really bitchy and ungrateful. The beginning was boring and there seemed to be no plot except for Kate complaining and making fun of the ballet.  Luckily the plot picked up in the third chapter but it still didn't move very quickly.  There were a lot of looking back and reflecting on what Kate could have done or should have done in regards to her sister, Gwen.  Kate's mental state is questionable throughout the book and it made me wonder if she herself was the one who had the breakdown.  Unfortunately, the book doesn't pick up that much and the plot goes nowhere until the very end of the book.  The book was somewhat interesting but also a little dull.  There was also enough vulgarity and profanity in this book that it made me cringe a bit at times.

Rating: 2.5 stars

Monday, April 25, 2016

Secret Histories: The Lost Files #4-6

I Am Number Four: Secret Histories: The Lost Files #4-6
(The Search for Sam, The Last Days of Lorien, and The Forgotten Ones)
by Pittacus Lore

Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy, Short Stories

Synopsis:  You know our stories are true.

You know why we fight.

You must discover their secrets.

You must learn from our mistakes.

They are hiding, just like us.

They plan to destroy your planet.

They destroyed ours.

We cannot let this happen again.
from the back of the book

Review:  I like reading these back stories and interim stories about the characters that play a part in the novels.  "The Search for Sam" and "The Forgotten Ones" are both about Adam. He comes into play in the novels but we don't know that much about him from the novels, we find out most everything we need to know from the short stories written about it and they help piece his story together.  The "Last Days of Lorien" was a weaker story in my opinion than the other two.  It was about Sandor, Nine's cepan and didn't contain that much about what happened on Lorien nor did it make me like Sandor as much as I liked him from the novels.

Rating: 3.5 stars

Monday, April 18, 2016

The Revenge of Seven

The Revenge of Seven
by Pittacus Lore


Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy

Synopsis:  The Garde have suffered an unbearable loss.  Number Five has betrayed them.  Eight is gone forever.  Ella has been kidnapped.  The others are now scattered.  In Chicago, John makes the unlikeliest of allies: Adam, A Mogadorian who turned his back on his people.  He has invaluable information about Mog technology, battle strategies, and weaknesses.  Most important, he knows where to hit them: their command base near Washington, D.C.    During the assault, however, John learns the unimaginable truth: it is too late.  The Mogadorians have commenced their ultimate invasion plans.  With a front-row seat to the impending invasion, Ella finds herself in the hands of the enemy.  For some reason, she's more valuable to them alive, and they'll stop at nothing to turn her.  Meanwhile, Six, Nine and Marina make their way through the Florida Everglades, hot on the trail of the traitorous Five.  With the development of a new Legacy, Marina finally has the power to fight back-if her thirst for revenge doesn't consume her first.  The Garde are broken and divided once again, but they will not be defeated.  As long as one still stands, the battle for Earth's survival is not lost.
from the ebook

Review:  This series has dragged me in.  This one in particular makes me want to read the next book right now and I don't have it on hand.  The plot development really moves along and I can see the end in sight.  I just can't wait for Setrakus Ra to be defeated (I'm going to assume that he does or else this series would have a terrible ending!)  There was a bit of romance in this book which I glossed over because it was a little sappy and very teenager-ish in those moments.  The ending of this book isn't much of an ending though.

Rating: 4 stars

To see my review of I Am Fourclick here.
To see my review of The Power of Sixclick here.
To see my review of The Rise of Nineclick here.
To see my review of The Fall of Five, click here.
To read my review of I Am Number Four, The Legacies: Lost Files 1-3click here.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Fall of Five

The Fall of Five
by Pittacus Lore

Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy

Synopsis:  The Garde are finally reunited, but do they have what it takes to win the war against the Mogadorians?  John Smith-Number Four-thought that things would change once the Garde found one another.  But he was wrong.  After facing off with the Mogadorian ruler and almost being annihilated, the Garde know they are drastically unprepared.  Now they're hiding out in Nine's Chicago penthouse, trying to figure out their next move.  The six of them are powerful, but they're not strong enough yet to take one an entire army-even with the return of an old ally.  To defeat their enemy, the Garde must master their Legacies and learn to work together as a team.  More important, they'll have to discover the truth about the Elders and their plan for the Loric survivors.  And when the Garde receive a sign from Number Five-a crop circle in the shape of a Lorien symbol-they know they are close to being reunited.  But could it be a trap?  Time is running out, and the only thing they know for certain is that they have to get to Five before it's too late.
from the ebook

Review:  This book continued to format of multiple narrators without any headings which made it quite confusing.  It took me a while to even figure out which of the several characters were narrating the story from the beginning.  I do appreciate that each book in the series moves forward and major events happen that seem to be leading to a major confrontation with the Mogodorians to defend Earth.  I am looking forward to see where the next books head and how the conflict is going to be resolved.

Rating: 3.5 stars

To see my review of I Am Fourclick here.
To see my review of The Power of Sixclick here.
To see my review of The Rise of Nine, click here.
To read my review of I Am Number Four, The Legacies: Lost Files 1-3click here.