smith-jones - Reviews

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Fifty Shades Darker (Fifty Shades, Bk 2)
Fifty Shades Darker (Fifty Shades, Bk 2)
Author: E. L. James
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 621
Review Date: 12/16/2012
Helpful Score: 1


I enjoyed the first book more. I got bored with most of the story here. Too much repetition, and shallow dialogues. Once the novelty of the first book wore off, I expected Fifty Shades Darker to be bolder and kinkier. I think the boldest it got was when Christian was exploring Ana inside the elevator full of people.

My favorite part, Grace smacking perv Elena across the face, go mama bear, you were late to protect your boy but at least you saw the molester at her true game.

I'll continue with book 3 because I want to read what Jack will do.


First Light
First Light
Author: Rebecca Stead
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 9
Review Date: 5/27/2013


Excellent, I stayed up until nearly dawn and finished the book earlier this afternoon. I didn't want the story to end. Rebecca Stead put together a very credible story with very strong young female and male characters mixed in with a bit a science and very early settlers similar to the pilgrims but in the Arctic Circle.

The plot is well woven with intricate patterns that come together to create a beautiful tapestry of words. The book has humor, adventure and some danger as well. The conclusion doesn't disappoint.

That book was great! Rebecca Stead is a gifted storyteller. I recommend this book to boys and girls who love adventure, sledding dogs, a bit of science and lots of snow.


The Forest of Hands and Teeth (Forest of Hands and Teeth, Bk 1)
The Forest of Hands and Teeth (Forest of Hands and Teeth, Bk 1)
Author: Carrie Ryan
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 98
Review Date: 5/15/2012
Helpful Score: 1


I wish I could give this book 4 stars for the way it kept me turning the pages -worth the 4 stars- and holding my breath while hoping for the survival of the characters every time they were at risk of being bitten but I also cannot overlook the way I became frustrated with the main character Mary -the reason for the 3 stars and I'm being generous with the rating-.

I will read the companion book - The Dead-Tossed Waves- because the plot line is interesting and alluring. I just hope that the next main character is more mature and a stronger model of for such type of story. After all, how many loved ones is oneself willing to sacrifice for a dream?

Notwithstanding the immature nature of the main character, I did enjoy this book a great deal. Let's hope the companion book will step it up a couple of notches.

Thanks to the friend who recommended it to me.


Gone Girl
Gone Girl
Author: Gillian Flynn
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 755
Review Date: 3/10/2013


I'm reading this book now and I'm page 184 of nothing. Boring diary entries that suggest some bang ahead.... while I tap my toes waiting for the story to pick up, please somebody tell me if if gets better.

I finished it this morning 03.15.13 and it did not get better. I couldn't wait to be done with it. The story did not deliver for me and as much as I waited and hoped for a better thriller, it let me down big time.

It gave me the sense of a cheesy televised marriage gone wrong and let's see how twisted the characters can be made to look. I just needed to write down my first disappointing impression before I talked myself into "liking" it because everybody else did.

I wasn't my type of thriller, it felt cheesy, too expectant of nothing and up to the very end I was hoping for a final redeeming touch at the very last paragraph when "iron" the symbol for the 6th. anniversary came up. I wished up to that last moment for something really horrific to happen but it didn't.

My 2 star rating stands and I Already removed it from my wish list.


Gossamer
Gossamer
Author: Lois Lowry
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 35
Review Date: 7/6/2012


This is a great story for all ages.

I can see this book being read to a young child or to an elderly person. The elements that compose a dream or a nightmare, the way the young and inexperienced newest Dream-Giver counteracts the doings of the sinister nightmare "inflicters" with all of her innocence, candor and vehemence is very heart warming and uplifting.

I wonder what inspired Ms. Lowry to write this unique story. Not all is rosy and pristine with the lives of the characters. You meet the lonely old lady who lives with her dog, the battered young wife and mother who lost custody of her child and then you meet John, the broken and very angry 8yr. old whom with the help of his Dream-Givers learns how to counteract his bad memories of abuse and abandonment with those of hope, new life, courage and new friends.

Read it, it is quick but a potent read.


Island
Island
Author: Aldous Huxley
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.4/5 Stars.
 33
Review Date: 9/9/2013
Helpful Score: 2


This was my first read by this author and I did not enjoy it; no amount of wanting to like this book did the trick. I gave it 2 stars out of 5. Bummer!~

I had a hard time following the plot which was a bit unsubstantial and boring.

Although I have studied -and at times practiced- and enjoyed reading about Tantra, Buddhism, Agnosticism and utopian novels before, I found this book to be a dissertation of the author's beliefs and extensive knowledge of human psyche and behavior masquerade into a novel.

I kept reading and sometimes skipping parts I had no interest on -e.g. Calvinism, also called the Reformed tradition or the Reformed faith- in hopes the story would pick up, reach a high point and then conclude.

It didn't happen like that, the story ended during the last 2 pages before the end of the book and it was very abrupt conclusion, unsatisfying and frustrating.

I'll read Brave New World since Island was the counterpart of that book but I hope there is a real plot to Brave New World. I have made it a commitment to re-read Island once I get a better grasp of the other philosophical ideals he was writing about.


The Keep
The Keep
Author: Jennifer Egan
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.2/5 Stars.
 75
Review Date: 2/12/2013
Helpful Score: 1


It was great. It's in my "keepers" shelf now.


Kindred
Kindred
Author: Octavia E. Butler
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.3/5 Stars.
 119
Review Date: 6/9/2013


There were many things I liked a lot about this book and others I didn't enjoy as much.

The fact that a modern black woman travels back in time and experiences slavery and narrates her life among her pre ancestors in the first person enthralled me. I would have loved to read about Dana's husband experiences too, after all, he was trapped back in that time for 5 years alone.

However, at the same time her travel conceit grew a bit stale for me as the book went on, and I found my attention wandering a lot, trying to follow some other character. I just wanted something new and unexpected to happen which it did at the end.

I enjoyed the story and best of all, I loved Alice; she' is the reason I chose the 4 stars and not 3.


The Kitchen Daughter
The Kitchen Daughter
Author: Jael McHenry
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 20
Review Date: 9/9/2012


The Kitchen Daughter was a fast and easy read. I enjoyed it but didn't love it so I gave it a 3 -for the effort - out of 5 rating.

The concept of food handling as a mean of reaching or bringing out the departed is not new and although this story approached it from a different perspective -Ginny's Asperger's- it still didn't pull me in as I thought it would and should have although the elements were there, the cryptic message from the dead relatives, their ghosts appearing when she cooked their hand written recipes and the sisters conflict; it just didn't.

The cooking sessions that triggered the encounters and appearances with the ghosts were not long enough and left me wanting for more. I think the only cooking/ghost session that I found meaningful was that of Ginny and her father. The best part of the book in my opinion.

The characters were a bit flat and predictable and it felt to me that there were too many focal points that distracted from whatever the main one was.

Was it about Aspergers Syndrome and the challenges it brings to an adult woman, was it about how to deal with grief when you have Aspergers? Was it about the benefits of having food blogs and the conveniences of the internet? Sisters conflict after loss of parents? I don't know yet.

If it was about family unity, growing up with Asperger's and becoming independent, then the message got lost. The one opportunity when I thought the story would jump to the next level and turn it around was killed off rather than being developed. What an opportunity wasted.

I would have liked the conclusion to have taken Ginny out into the world and out of that house; well at least it wasn't one of those open ended books. I removed this tittle from my wish list.


Laubach Way to Reading 1: Sounds and Names of Letters
Review Date: 11/23/2013


This series of books is geared towards teaching literacy to adults with little or no reading ability. The Laubach Way consists of 4 levels. Level 1 has 13 lessons and this is book 1 covers 5 lessons.

The approach can also be used to help high school dropouts or older children in the intermediate grades who need remedial work in basic reading, writing or spelling. This is the Teacher's Edition and the student has his/her own plus the readers for each level.

The system is very systematic and it guides the tutor on how to teach to an adult learner. One doesn't need a teaching degree to learn the Laubach method, just lots of patience and dedication. I'm learning it as I am now on assignment with my first Adult Learner.

It can be very confusing at the beginning for the tutor but it all comes down to studying and practicing the method and then implementing. The tutor is guided extensively throughout each one of the lessons with graphics, words to say at each specific chart and story. Chart by chart, story reading, story words, punctuation, listen and write, checking progress and homework, everything is covered and shown how to teach each one. There is also online support but I have not tried that yet.

I find it a bit confusing when having to combine the standard method -which the books are based on- with the Alternative method explained at the back of the manual. It makes it convoluted to go back and forth from the back of the book to the current lesson but that's the way it needs to be taught when the Adult Learner has some knowledge of the letters and theid sounds. I take extensive notes on the lessons itself so I don't have to disrupt the flow once I'm with my Adult Learner.

I highly recommend the series if you are planning on becoming an adult literacy tutor.


Little Women
Little Women
Author: Louisa My Alcott
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.5/5 Stars.
 11
Review Date: 6/21/2012


This is a lovely edition by Borders Classics printed in 2006. The book I'm sharing my review of has the pinkish cover as shown at Amazon, in fact, the images shown there were posted by me.

The Publisher states that the grammatical and spelling irregularities were taken as the original edition published back in 1868 and 1869. This single book contains both books, Little Women in part 1 and Good Wives in part 2 starting with chapter 24 from page 227. This book has 470 and has no illustration.

This edition is worth keeping in the family library.


The Magicians Nephew
The Magicians Nephew
Author: C.S. Lewis
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.6/5 Stars.
 6
Review Date: 5/14/2012


This edition is not a large print. It's beautifully illustrated and worth keeping as part of a private collection.


Martini's Atlas of the Human Body (8th Edition)
Review Date: 9/11/2012


The illustrations and cadaver dissections photographs on this book are amazing.


Martini's Atlas Of The Human Body: Atlas Of The Human Body
Review Date: 9/11/2012


Another great book, the illustrations and cadaver dissections photographs on this binder are amazing. My son and I discuss what we see and use it as lesson in anatomy.


Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore
Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore
Author: Robin Sloan
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 60
Review Date: 8/31/2013
Helpful Score: 2


I loved the story, it was great and gave it 5 stars.

I had a lot of fun with the friendship among the characters and how the ingenuity of youth blended with the old Penumbra. I laughed a lot and was rooting for the characters whom I found very interesting and rich in personality


The Night Circus
The Night Circus
Author: Erin Morgenstern
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 53
Review Date: 4/7/2013
Helpful Score: 1


I loved it! It's hard to believe this is the author's first novel. The magic, the theatrics, the visual and sensory details that rushed through me as I read the story were profound. I was expecting a battle of wands and lighting bolts and crashing elements and instead I was regaled with sophistication, delicacy and poetry transformed into enchanted pavilions that told a story o evolving love, ethereal suspense and eventually sacrifice. Although love was not at the forefront at all, it was just part of it as the scent of the caramel popcorn at the entrance of the courtyard to the circus.

The conclusion if fulfilling although not fully materialized as your ordinary happy ending but it's there left as a precious crystal gem that is better off left to the shimmer of the imagination.

The book went beyond my expectations and it is stands right now as my first #1 of my 2013 read list.


The Ocean at the End of the Lane
The Ocean at the End of the Lane
Author: Neil Gaiman
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 90
Review Date: 8/18/2013


I started this book last night -08/17/13- and I couldn't put it down. Although it's only 189 pages, it felt it contained at least one hundred more.

The beginning is a bit unassuming and ordinary until the 7yr.old now a grown man going to his sister's house for a funeral turns a corner onto the lane of his old childhood's neighborhood.

The story engulfed me and brought back my own childhood fears and fantasies with it's monsters and benign forces and beings. It scared me too, I kept seeing the back of the book when I tried to get some sleep around 2:40 in the morning and I couldn't settle down. I kept turning on the lights and grabbing the book to keep on reading until I reach and part that seemed "safe" to go to sleep about.

Like the young boy in the story I could too immerse myself in books and live the stories in my mind so don't be surprised that I still do that and allow Mr. Gaiman to bring me along to the Hempstock Farm where the lane turns to the left and there is a pond that is really the Ocean that runs under the universe and that worlds like grains in a desert can be threatened, invaded and destroyed; a that there are boundaries between worlds that are fragile and that there are monsters that even monsters and old beings are afraid of.

The story did not disappoint me. It was more than I expected to be part of although I have been transported to similar ventures before. This one was very particular and precious -although not unique- in the realm of fantasy and I enjoyed it a great deal enough to give it 5 stars.

It did disturb me to the point I could not sleep well, I think I dreamed of those realms and the Ocean of the Origen and Knowledge -by the way this is the name I've given the pond. I understood what happened and how it happened, i just wish I could comprehend how Hempstock women came to be at the farm and why they chose that land.

This book will remain as part of my wish list and it will be worth a re-read.


One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd
One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd
Author: Jim Fergus
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 678
Review Date: 6/29/2012
Helpful Score: 1


The book started really great for me with May Dodd committed to that asylum just for falling in love below her status and for having children out of wedlock. The story about the brides for the indians kept me going but somehow the story lost its momentum. May turned out to be not the heroine I thought she would be.

The stereotypes -most of them were sure included- , the native names given to the women were a bit ludicrous and lacked originality. It all sounded like a tongue in cheek kind of light humor but I didn't find it amusing. I would have liked to learn more about the Cheyenne way of life rather than their parties around the fire.

The culmination of the story felt rushed and filled with lots of voids, perhaps if the story would have focused more about the real life, customs and rituals of the people in more depth instead of May Dodd trying to break the Cheyenne's glass ceiling, it would have been better. I think the only character that I loved was that of Little Sara, the mute who found a loving husband in young Yellow Wolf and the power of speech through a tongue that wasn't her own.

Maybe I started the book with too high expectations. I gave it 3 stars and I won't be keeping the book. I'll swap it as soon as it's requested from my shelf.


The Passage (Passage, Bk 1)
The Passage (Passage, Bk 1)
Author: Justin Cronin
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 163
Review Date: 1/19/2014


The fours stars I gave it are more like 3.5. Although I enjoyed the story of Amy, I did not appreciate the massive amount of characters and all the necessary details upon details that sometimes were repeated under some other person's reveries.

It was too much for me, in one word: cumbersome. I think it would have been a more endurable read had it not been told in so many pages, so many little characters and the details and descriptions upon descriptions that at times bore me.

I struggled to finish it but I did. I am not keen the way it ended or the lack of there of.


Persuasion
Persuasion
Author: Jane Austen
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.3/5 Stars.
 16
Review Date: 3/2/2013


After reading two other novels by Jane Austen, this is my only favorite so far. I didn't care much for Elizabeth Bennett, Mr. Darcy was o.k., Emma entertained me but not enough to make me love the story but I did love Anne Elliot as the highly principled, smart, kind, and soft spoken moderate woman I will always admire.

This is my 3rd Jane Austen read and the 3rd. was the winner, she won me with this story. This is the most romantic book I've read recently and I'm glad I persevered in my search of the the perfect Austen novel for me. Captain Wentworth's love declaration to Miss Anne Elliot will forever be regarded as a masterpiece of love perpetuated in words:

"I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago."

This book showed more emotion than any other of Jane Austen's work. For once, I didn't mind all the walking and sighing and reciting lines of romantic poetry to oneself. It was charmingly comic, romantic and full of hidden, repressed desire for the one the protagonist refused.

Well done. Watch the movies, they were great.


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