Killer Within by S.E. Green

killer withinI am giving away a paperback copy of this book.  Please leave a comment below to enter. Giveaway ends Midnight on Sunday, May 31.

Rating: *** (3/5)

Published: Simon Pulse, May 2015

Format: Hardcover

Genre: YA

Source: Kaye Publicity

I had mixed feelings about this book.  Considering how much I loved Killer Instinct, the intensity was lacking here.  Lane is struggling with the consequences from the first novel and (gasp!) realizing she might have feelings.  Like a normal person.  But she also has major anger and trust issues, and she’s not as sympathetic or bad@ss as she was in KI.  She’s reckless and sloppy and her entire vigilante persona is crumbling, especially when a copycat “Masked Savior” is targeting undeserving victims.  All flaws aside, I can see that this  book was more of a platform for Lane’s overall character development and she is dealing with a lot of complex issues stemming from her murderous impulses.  If she can get her head back in the game and get control of her emotions, this has the  potential to be a great series.

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Vaca

So I had this leather bracelet custom made at the pier.  For $10…  And sorry, I’ve never tried to post a blog from my phone. Whatevs.

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Currently 

Anticipating: Vacation!  I haven’t taken a single vacation day so far this year, so needless to say I am more than ready for a full week off (with the holiday weekend, that’s 10 days!).  It will be quiet on the blog while I’m deciding whether to lay by the pool or on the beach.

Reading:   Also, I’m super excited about this Vine score:  The Rocks by Peter Nichols – With synopsis phrases like, “Set against dramatic Mediterranean Sea,” and “Centered around a popular seaside resort club,” I figured this was the ultimate beach read.  Bringing along a couple of others, depending on what I finish before we leave and what arrives in the mail.

NeglectingEdge of Eternity by Ken Follett.  I was seriously considering bringing this on our trip, but it’s just too chunky.

Upcoming:  Some great Vine picks (finally!) include  Among the Ten Thousand Things by Julia Pierpont (reminded me to The Interestings or & Sons), and Circling the Sun by Paula McClain (yup, of Paris Wife fame).   I also picked up How To Tell Toledo From the Night Sky based on Greg’s review.

Avoiding: Snacking.  Need to be bikini-ready…

Eating: (or will be soon) All the delicious fresh seafood offerings on the Gulf coast.

Dreading:  Getting from point A to point B.  6:30 am cab, early flight, the joys of air travel.  But it will be worth it when we get there.

Anticipating II:  Spending time with one of my dearest friends from college whom I haven’t seen in 4 years.  She will be our tour guide while we’re in Clearwater, and I look forward to the new memories we will make!

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Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

inkheartRating: **** (4/5)

Published: Scholastic

Format: Paperback

Genre: Young Adult

Source: Personal collection

This was a pleasant departure from all of the angst-y teen dystopian books that are so popular. It is full of whimsy, sinister villains, magical creatures, and heroic battles of wit. Meggie and her father Mo have a unique ability to read characters out of books, but there’s also a drawback to their power. Meggie’s mother disappeared years ago when Mo caused the appearance of the characters from the book, Inkheart. With the help of a dubious fire-eater, Meggie’s book-collecting great aunt Elinor, Inkheart’s author, and a boy straight from the pages of Tales from the Thousand and One Nights, they must confront the ultimate evil, Capricorn.

Though I thought the book started somewhat slow, the pace picked up, especially once they met the author Fenoglio. The magic of the story really took hold when the momentum got going, and I wanted nothing more than to see Capricorn and his henchmen vanquished. Of course, any lover of the written word will appreciate references to favorite childhood stories and Mo and Meggie’s adoration of books. I look forward to finishing the rest of the trilogy.

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Isaac’s Army by Matthew Brzezinski

isaac's armySubtitle: The Jewish Resistance in Occupied Poland

Rating: ***** (5/5)

Published: Random House, 2012

Format: ARC

Genre: Nonfiction / WWII History

Source: Amazon Vine

This is one of the most profound books I have ever read. It is basically the history of Warsaw from the 1939 German invasion through the end of WWII, but its focus is on the bravest of the brave: the Jewish resistance fighters in the Ghetto. The courage of the small force of ZOB fighters under the command of Isaac Zuckerman was inspiring and heartbreaking, but they didn’t begin as a united force.

When the Jews were first sequestered to the Ghetto, there were so many conflicting factions within the community that a defined resistance was never established. But at the time, no one could believe that Hitler would successfully eliminate an entire race. As one Bund leader remarked, “It’s impossible for the Germans to kill us all. Three and a half million Polish Jews!” Once reports of mass genocide reached them, it wasn’t denial that incapacitated the population, but disbelief. It wasn’t until they realities of Treblinka became known that many in the community suffered survivor’s guilt and realized that they had nothing left to lose but to fight back. The formation of a more structured resistance and the acquisition of weapons were critical to success. Just as the Nazi’s began final liquidation of the Ghetto, the ZOB and other resistance organizations were just barely ready to strike back. The Warsaw Ghetto uprising was an awe-inspiring phenomenon.

Despite their best efforts, the Ghetto was completely demolished, and the few remaining Jews were forced into hiding either in the countryside or within Warsaw itself. But when Berlin commands the complete destruction of the entire city, no one is safe. One poor Polish civilian, a pregnant gentile woman, witnessed the execution of her three children then survived being shot in the head. The brutality of the following months is unfathomable.

“From a prewar population of 1.35 million, only an estimated five thousand [Jews] remained hidden in the rubble by the end of October 1944. …the physical destruction [of Warsaw] would surpass that in Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined.”

While the devastation was staggering, it was the bravery of a few individuals that is the most astonishing. I can’t even begin to grasp everything the survivors endured, but I do feel extremely privileged to have read their stories.

I received a complimentary copy of this book via the Amazon Vine program.

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Wolf Hall on TV

WolfHall

Have you guys been digging the Masterpiece adaptation of Wolf Hall (Sundays on PBS) as much as I have?  If you’re not familiar, it is based on Hilary Mantel’s phenomenal novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies.  I am so stoked for the finale next week!  Here are some of my observations of the show so far:

  • As much as I love James Frain as Cromwell in The Tudors, I think Mark Rylance is superb.  I love his facial expressions, and you can practically see the wheels turning in his head as he calculates how to handle things.
  • Claire Foy as Anne Boleyn.  Despite the gutteral Frenchie way she pronounces Cromwell’s name, I think she’s the perfect combination of haughty and vulnerable.  I can’t wait to see how she performs during the final episode depicting her downfall.
  • The kid who plays Rafe is SO stinking cute.  Makes me want to see him in The Maze Runner.
  • The supporting cast is excellent.  Mary Boleyn is crafty, Lady Rochford is conniving, Norfolk is pompous, Henry is infuriating.  And I was excited to see Ed Speelers from Downton Abbey as Edward Seymour.  He’s easy on the eyes.
  • I read a HuffPo review the day after it premiered, before I actually watched it, and at first I was confused by the comparison to The Shield (one of my all-time faves).  Now I totally get it.  It’s all about the non-verbal cues and the tension.

Needless to say, I’m loving it, and I can’t wait until next week!

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Then Came You by Jennifer Weiner

then came youRating: **** (4/5)

Published:  Washington Square Press, 2011

Format: Trade Paperback

Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Chick Lit

Source: BEA, signed copy

I went into this book with really low expectations because I didn’t think I would enjoy Weiner’s brand of chick-lit. But I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t overly corny or girly or romance-y. It deals with the ethical and social issues of egg donation, infertility, and surrogacy. The story is told from the alternating perspectives of four women involved: egg donor Jules, surrogate Annie, would-be mom India, and India’s stepdaughter Bettina. Each woman is a little bit selfish and desperate, but noble in their ultimate pursuit of happiness and stability. During the process of creating life, they all encounter some form of tragedy, but are able to find themselves along the way. There we’re a few minor things that irritated me (if you’re going to have a character work at Target, at least get their uniform right: khakis and red shirts), but overall, I liked the premise and the storytelling was decent.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher.

weiner

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