Krista C. (kacey14) - - Reviews

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American Sphinx : The Character of Thomas Jefferson
American Sphinx : The Character of Thomas Jefferson
Author: Joseph J. Ellis
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 39
Review Date: 9/14/2009
Helpful Score: 3


I struggled to get through this book, but now that the struggle is over --- I'm glad I waded through it. I learned quite a bit about Thomas Jefferson. The author doesn't sugar-coat Jefferson's personal foibles, or political thoughts.

I learned more about Jefferson's life and about the formative year of America as a nation during and after the Revolution. Ellis focuses on some key chapters in Jefferson's life and explores the contradictory actions/thoughts/writings produced during those periods.

While it was slow going for me at times, (I think the extensive quotations from Jeffersan hiscotemporary political figures slowed down the reading.) I am glad to have finished it. I think it was a fair look at the multi-faceted man that today is too often held up as a one dimensional cardboard cut-out used to suit political whims.


Annie Freeman's Fabulous Traveling Funeral
Annie Freeman's Fabulous Traveling Funeral
Author: Kris Radish
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.4/5 Stars.
 297
Review Date: 5/5/2009
Helpful Score: 1


I LOVED this book! In fact I gave it as gifts to two of my closest friends last year, and told them that this was one of my favorite reads of the year.

The story is about loss, love, the power of women's friendships and living each moment we have here on earth. It's about making the sometimes tough choices that allow you to live an authentic life. It does it without getting to sweet, or too sad -- although there are sweet and SAD moments, they don't bog down the book.

Annie Freeman has died from cancer, but before she died -- she planned her own traveling funeral. She's gathered together some of the people that meant the most to her in life for one last celebration. The book chronicles that final journey, and the discoveries the participants make along the way about Annie, and themselves.

This book introduced me to Kris Radish. I've since read all of her books. I really enjoyed them all, but this is my all-time favorite of hers, so far....


Are You There Vodka? It's Me Chelsea
Are You There Vodka? It's Me Chelsea
Author: Chelsea Handler
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 398
Review Date: 9/29/2009
Helpful Score: 2


This was really just a waste of time. I think I only stuck it out to the end because it worked for one of the tasks a reading challenge I participate in. There were only a couple of places where I laughed out loud. A few more places made me smile. Most of the time I was grimacing, or internally saying, 'Ewwww'. Which in fact may be the result that Chelsea Handler was looking for.

There is nothing to learn from this book, and it's not really funny either -- so what's the point?


Autobiography of a Face
Autobiography of a Face
Author: Lucy Grealy
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 55
Review Date: 8/7/2009
Helpful Score: 1


This book was a very powerful book for me. It was about Lucy Grealy's journey as a child through the discovery and treatment of cancer in her jaw. She also writes about the subsequent aftermath of the experience of having to go through life looking so different from everyone else, and her fervent wish to just fit it. Lucy does talk a lot about her treatments, reconstructive procedures and frequent hospitializations, but she does so with candor and uncommon insight for someone so young to have endured.

Lucy eventually died of a drug overdose, and reading this book helped me understand how seductive drugs would have been for her. I think Lucy's understanding of what it was like to be on the fringe of society, to being different; and her ability to express those feelings will stay with me for a long time.

I also read Ann Patchett's "Truth and Beauty" which is about her friendship with Lucy Grealy. It added more background to what what going on with Lucy from a different perspective. I think it's great to read both these books together.


The Book Thief
The Book Thief
Author: Markus Zusak
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.4/5 Stars.
 70
Review Date: 6/13/2009
Helpful Score: 4


This is a powerful story that grabbed me at the first page, and didn't let me go until the last page. I'm surprised it's classified as a Young Adult book instead of Adult fiction because of the complexity of the story line. But hey, I haven't qulaified as a Young Adult reader for quite awhile, and the wider the audience this book gets, the better!

Death is the narrator of this book, and it's set in a suburb of Munich Germany during WWII. Liesel is the 'book thief' and the story revolves around her harsh experiences during the lead-up to and during the war.

The story is engrossing and harrowing. Each chapter has word images that will stay with me a long time. Foster parents, close neighbors, a Jew hidden in the basement all form a new family for the original one that Liesel loses in the opening pages of the story. The writing is just stunning, and the pace moves quickly.

I highly recommend this book for anyone that wants to understand the toll WWII took everyday folks in Germany. There are villians and heros alike, just as there are in life. It was an amazing book!


The Braid
The Braid
Author: Helen Frost
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 5/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 11/20/2009


This was a really lyrical story about a tough time in Scottish history; The Clearances during 1850's. The story swapped storlines between two sisters, Jeanie and Sarah. There were short poems between each sisters telling of the latest installment in their lives.

The story in and of itself was amazing, but after reading the author's notes at the end of the book I was really blown away by the complex structure of the book. But that stucture in no way interfered with the pace or voice of the book.

The theme of the braid is carried throughout as the stories were braided together. As an added layer of nuance, the author notes that, "In the narrative poems, the lines all contain the number of syllables of the age of the speaker. At the beginning of the story, Jeannie is fourteen, and the lines in her poes are fourteen syllables each; Sara is fifteen and her poems are composed of fifteen-syllable lines. By the end of the story, Jeannie is sixteen and Sarah is seventeen, and the line of their poems are conrrespondingly longer."

Amazing! I'm giving this to my 12 year-old neice. She may turn up her nose at it initially because it's such a skinny book (it may seem too childish to her), but I'm going to encourage her to read it because it works on so many levels; historical ficion, accessible poetry, and important young-adult themes.


The Brothers K
The Brothers K
Author: David James Duncan
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 36
Review Date: 5/16/2009
Helpful Score: 3


I was raised in the area (SW Washington state) the book is set in, and in the religion (Seventh Day Adventist) that is featured prominently in the book, so I was really curious as to how this book would pan out. It's a bit of a long read, but hang in there. I found it to be engrossing, and challenging.

The book centers on the Chance family which includes Mama, Papa and 6 children. It is told from the perspective from several of the various children and take place mainly in the 60's and 70's. It may drag a bit if you don't like baseball as Papa Chance is an aspiring baseball pitcher and all the kids learn to live and breathe baseball. But it is so much more than a baseball story.

It's a story about various family crises, and ultimately the staying power of love. But don't get me wrong it's not sentimental schlock. Give it a try, I don't think you'll be disappointed.


Burn
Burn
Author: Erin Healy, Ted Dekker
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 24
Review Date: 2/6/2010


This book is fast paced, and action packed with a touch of the supernatural thrown in to heighten the suspense. It is in a genre I don't usually read, Christian Suspense. I was surprised that the first mention of a Christian precept didn't appear until about halfway through the book.

Jeneal Mikkado, is a 17 year-old member of a gypsy âkumpania' (community). She is thrust in the middle of a struggle between her father who is the leader of the camp and a drug kingpin, Salazar Sanso. A fire breaks out at the camp when Sanso confronts her father about his double dealing with the DEA. Jeneal is forced to make a wrenching decision in the midst of scenes of a violent massacre. Everyone is led to believe that there are no survivors of the night's violence.

Fast forward fifteen years. Jeneal built a new life for herself under an assumed name using money she wrested from Sanso the night of the inferno. But she hasn't found peace in the ensuing years. She is thrown back into chaos when Robert, the boyfriend she thought had perished in the fire, captures Sanso during a DEA bust. Without giving away all the plot twists, from here on out it is a fast and bumpy ride for everyone involved.

Evil, in the form of Sanso, is drawn with a heavy hand. He's a character with no redeeming qualities. Jeneal struggles with her ongoing attraction to him when they meet again after his arrest. Ultimately, she's given a chance to make a different decision than the one she made on the night of the massacre. Will she choose the dark or the light this time? The storyline was engaging and kept my interest throughout. However, I wish the story wasn't drawn so starkly in black and white; evil versus good. I believe that for most people the choice would be easy if the only options presented were good or evil. It's those gray areas in between that are harder to sort out.


Certain Women
Certain Women
Author: Madeleine L'Engle
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 19
Review Date: 6/27/2009
Helpful Score: 2


Emma Wheaton has interrupted her successful stage career to attend her dying father, David Wheaton. The legendary actor is obsessed with an unfinished play about the Old Testament King David written by Emma's estranged husband. As his familyitself of biblical proportions, because David Wheaton has had nine wives and eleven childrengathers, the stories of both Davids and their women are simultaneously woven together and unraveled. For Emma, being with her extended family brings back memories both painful and healing, and confronting her own tumultuous past helps her understand the effect her father's life has had on them all. As David Wheaton faces his approaching death, Emma grapples with her future. Steeped in the modern world of the theater and the ancient world of prophets and kings, Madeleine L'Engle's latest novel examines the lot of mothers and wives and daughters. Certain Women shows her intimate knowledge of theatrical life, resolves a long-held fascination with King David, and continues her exploration of biblical matters.


Dead to the World (Sookie Stackhouse, Bk 4)
Dead to the World (Sookie Stackhouse, Bk 4)
Author: Charlaine Harris
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.3/5 Stars.
 2222
Review Date: 9/13/2009


This is my favorite book from the "Sookie Stackhouse" series so far. Harris just keeps layering more 'supes' (supernaturals) in each of the books and the more they relate to Sookie, the more I want to read. The more the series matures, in character development and back story, the more I like it.

Sookie's New Year's resolution was just to not get beat up again. It only took a few hours for that resolution to be challenged. An the story rockets off from there. Bill was a very minor character in this book, and Eric took the starring role next to Sookie. It was a nice change of pace. Now I have to get started on book #5 ([Dead as a Doornail) to see what new troubles Sookie will get herself into, and out of....


Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World
Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World
Author: Vicki Myron
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 536
Review Date: 9/15/2009
Helpful Score: 3


From reading this book I learned about an amazing cat; what small town life is like in Iowa; (think straight roads and tall corn) the inner workings of a library; life, love and loss.

My favorite quote from the book was found near the final page:

"Find your place. Be happy with what you have. Treat everyone well. Live a good life. It isn't about material thinks; it's about love. And you can never anticipate love."

That may sound like a sweet little saying, but really when it all boils down -- it's a great philosophy. I only gave the book three stars. That's my rating for a good solid book, and that's what this is to me. It didn't change the way I looked at the world. It did educate me about what life was like in a world different than my own, and reminded me again to get back to basics with my life. Shoot, come to think of it, I'm going to have to change me rating to 4 stars. :-)


Dog on It (Chet and Bernie, Bk 1)
Dog on It (Chet and Bernie, Bk 1)
Author: Spencer Quinn
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 127
Review Date: 5/9/2010
Helpful Score: 10


I loved this book! Spencer Quinn is the pseudnym of author Peter Abrahams who just won the 2010 Edgar award for Best YA Mystery with his book "Reality Check". So while this is the first book in a new series, it's not a debut book for this writer.

Chet is the narrator of the mystery. He's a Belgian Shepard who almost passed K-9 school. He has one black ear and one white ear, and keen nose and undying loyalty for his human partner Bernie. Quinn captured the essense of what a dog's thought process might be. The narration from Chet's perspestive had me chuckling throuhgout most of the book. There are some parts of high drama where you really could feel the frustration that a dog might feel based on the outward signs of anxiety a keen observer of dogs will have seen in similar situations.

I had the mystery figured out pretty quickly, but solving the mystery wasn't really the point of the book. Seeing how Chet filtered the events, and worked to solve the mystery were the fascinating parts. I've already checked the second book "Thereby Hangs a Tail" and can't wait to see what Chet and Bernie's next adventure is.


Don't Talk Back To Your Vampire (Broken Heart, Oklahoma, Bk 2)
Don't Talk Back To Your Vampire (Broken Heart, Oklahoma, Bk 2)
Author: Michele Bardsley
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 330
Review Date: 9/3/2009
Helpful Score: 1


I liked this second book in the Broken Heart Vampires series a bit more than I liked the first for some reason. I will go on to read the next book in the series eventually. I think there are about 5 or 6 books in this series now.

I think I liked this book more that the first one because:

a) The backstory had already been set in book 1, so there wasn't so much bouncing around between the current story and why/how the characters got to where they were today
b) The main female character (Eva LeRoy) is a self-taught librarian and she and her daughter use some fabulous words. It stretched my vocabulary!! (I LOVE words)
c) I've bought into the premise of Broken Heart, Oklahoma so now I can just settle in for the ride.
d) I like the love story between Lorcan and Eva. It wasn't as angst ridden as the first book.


Dragon's Lair  (Medieval Mystery, Bk 3)
Dragon's Lair (Medieval Mystery, Bk 3)
Author: Sharon Kay Penman
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 26
Review Date: 8/26/2009


This is the 3rd in the series of historical fiction mysteries by Sharon Kay Penman. This is my favorite of the series so far. It features Justin de Quncey trying to locate a ransom payment that has been stolen in the wilds of Wale. It literally is a 'King's Ransonm' that Eleanor of Aquitaine is trying to raise to free her son Kin Richard from inprisonment in Germany. Jusin is the 'Queen's Man' and works out all the twists and turns of the plot on his way to find the loot.

It was great fun!


Dreams of Stardust (De Piaget, Bk 3)
Dreams of Stardust (De Piaget, Bk 3)
Author: Lynn Kurland
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.2/5 Stars.
 202
Review Date: 5/18/2009
Helpful Score: 2


A fun romp of a read. The author seamlessly blends a storyline in modern time and the 1200's. Both centuries, and the intertwined plot were entertaining. Now I'm going to have to check out more of Lynn Kurland's books. Darn, I don't need more books to read --- but it's nice to find a great author that weaves paranormal, historic fiction and a romance without going overboard on any of the genres.


Fahrenheit 451
Fahrenheit 451
Author: Ray Bradbury
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 1410
Review Date: 8/17/2009


I can't believe I haven't read this book before. It was amazing. It's a small little gem, but it really made me stop and think. It revolves around a society that is more interested in doing things, keeping busy, and being 'happy' and avoids even bans reading or thinking. Divergent thoughts are enemies to this society so they've collectively decided that the best way to combat that is to burn books.

Firemen now set fires instead of putting them out in this society. Guy Montag is the protaganist of this story, and as a fireman he has burned books, and the houses that contained them for 10 years. It's a really compelling read to watch Guy change from an enthusiastic fireman to a fugitive that is hoarding books. It's a classic story about censorship, war and the shutting down of the intellect.


Fever 1793
Fever 1793
Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 189
Review Date: 3/13/2009
Helpful Score: 6


This is good historical fiction about the yellow fever plague that hit Philadelphia in 1793. It tells the story of Mattie and how the plague affected her, and what lessons she learned while getting through it.

I'd bought the book to give to my 11 year-old niece for Christmas, but then started reading it to see if it was appropriate for her, and I couldn't put it down.

I think it's good for the 10-14 year-old age range, although by 14, this may be a bit young. But sheesh, I'm well past 14 and found it intersting, so what does that say about me? :-)


First Test (Protector of the Small, Bk 1)
First Test (Protector of the Small, Bk 1)
Author: Tamora Pierce
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.6/5 Stars.
 51
Review Date: 9/1/2009


This was my first foray into Tamora Pierce's work, but I don't think it will be my last. I liked the fact the Keladry was a successful female in an all male environment and though she suffered through some serious hazing, she conquered it without using magic. She used here wits, fortitude and friendliness to form alliances in many surprising areas.

This if the first book in the series. I was reading it to see if it would be appropriate for my 12 year-old niece that really likes the fantasy genre. I think it would be perfect for her. (If she hasn't already read it that is...) I'm going to have to check out the second book in the series now.

I only gave it 4 stars because for me while the story was engaging and I like it, it was geared toward a younger audience and wasn't a really show stopping read for me.


From Baghdad, With Love : A Marine, the War, and a Dog Named Lava
Review Date: 6/3/2009


This was a great book (if tough to read because of the wrenching subject of the Iraq war) about salvaging something good from a bad situation. It also helped me better understand the conditions both US troops, and Iraqi civilians are facing day-to-day in Iraq.


The Good Husband of Zebra Drive (No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, Bk 8) (Audio CD) (Unabridged)
Review Date: 6/15/2009
Helpful Score: 1


I didn't enjoy this eighth book in the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series as much as I had the previous books. I was ready to quit in the middle of the book, but I'm glad I saw it through to the end, because the story threads were tidied up nicely and I was satisfied by the final page.

Maybe I didn't like it as much as other books in the series because everything seemed to be changing in the beginning. Mma Makutsi quit the agency and just seemed to be more mean-spirited than ever, and Mr JLB Mate-koni started taking up detective work. The universe tilted!
By the end the threads were all nicely sewn up, and all was right with the world again. I won't go into more detail than that because I don't want to spoil the book for anyone. In the final analysis, it was a nice collection of homey stories that gave me another taste of what average life in Botswana would be like.

I've listened to this whole series on Audio CD, and find the narration to add quite a bit to the character of the stories. I'd really recommend listening to these books on rather than reading them to get a better flavor for the accurate pronunciation of the names, etc.


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