Jen K’s #CBR5 Review #104: Letters from Skye by Jessica Brockmole

I thought the concept of this book sounded great – epistolary format, two women, two generations, two wars.  The idea of exploring the effect of two wars on two generations that directly follow each other just sounded like such a great idea.  What similar issues would they face on the home front, what would be different due to time and the evolution of warfare (obviously the Blitz and the targeting of the civilian population would be a huge change)?  What would it be like to have lived through a war and loss only to watch your daughter face the same things?  Additionally, there were comparisons to The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society which was such a sweet book.  It was a bit quirky but I completely connected to the story and the character and was drawn in.  Unfortunately, I think the comparisons were mostly made due to the war time setting and the epistolary nature of the narrative.  This was more of a regular war romance, though I guess maybe the descriptions of the one character’s college pranks could qualify as quirky (he was a University of Illinois grad, which may have been my favorite thing about the book – ILL-INI!)

Full review.

Jen K’s #CBR5 Review #103: Haunted by Kelley Armstrong

I’ve been enjoying this series a lot, but some reviews on Goodreads made it sound like this was one of the weaker entries in the series.  I actually quite enjoyed it, possibly because I had tempered my expectations.  This time Eve is the narrator, a character that has so far mostly only appeared as a topic of conversation since she is dead.  However, Armstrong opened the door to the afterworld in Industrial Magic, so Eve’s appearance is not a complete surprise.  Since Eve is a ghost, this means that there is a limit on how many of the other characters show up in the novel, but Eve’s motivations are driven by her daughter’s safety so I actually enjoyed this slightly related side story.  Besides, Jaime Vegas is a necromancer so Eve soon convinces her to help, and it was fun to see more of her.

Full review.

Jen K’s #CBR5 Review #102: The Expats by Chris Pavone

What a frustrating and disappointing book!  I wasn’t expecting great literature, but I really thought this would be a fun thriller or cat and mouse game set in Europe.  At the worst, I thought it might be a bit formulaic or have bad writing but it was worse.  It was boring.  A thrill-less thriller, an unsuspenseful suspense novel inhabited by a main character that could just as well be described as the dumbest spy ever.

Full review.

Jen K’s #CBR5 Review #101: Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Considering that I read this a few months ago, I’m not quite as late to the party as it looks, but I’m still rather late.  As much as I enjoyed Attachments, and as much as I trusted everyone else’s recommendations, I was still a bit skeptical.  I think this might be because almost every other piece of YA I’ve read is on the dystopian or fantasy side of things.  How could a story about two teenagers in the ’80s be that exciting or groundbreaking?

Full review.

Jen K’s #CBR5 Review #100: The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith

Once I heard that J.K. Rowling had published this under a pseudonym, I knew I had to read it.  Admittedly, that sounds odd since I still haven’t read The Casual Vacancy (I really like Harry Potter, but I wasn’t sure if wanted to read about a small English town, even though I read those kind of novels all the time; I guess I was just afraid of being disappointed), but this one just sounded fun.  I love mysteries, and hopefully this is the beginning of another series.

Full Review.

Jen K’s #CBR5 Review #99: Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

This is the third of Cashore’s Graceling novels, though this one is more of a direct sequel to Graceling, unlike Fire which was a companion novel set in the same world.  This time, the novel focuses on Bitterblue, ten years after the events of Graceling.  Bitterblue was the fierce young girl that stood up to her father, the evil King Leck, with Katsa’s help, and found herself in charge of a kingdom at the age of 8.  Ten years later, it turns out that things are not all well in her realm.  While she wants to be a good ruler, she has been pushed to the side by her advisers, partially because of her age, and partially because of their desire to protect her.  Bitterblue knows of her father’s violent past and evils from her own personal experience, but she is unaware of just how badly his influence affected his kingdom, and doesn’t know the right questions to ask.  As a result, she is rather unaware of many of the problems in her realm, and sometimes is disrespectful and rude to the wrong people.

Full Review.

Jen K’s #CBR5 Review #98: Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson

Though a fiction novel, it feels very biographical, and the narrator’s name is even the same as the authors.  The novel tells the story of the narrator’s childhood and her developing sexuality.  Raised in a very strict Christian church, some of her stories about grade school are incredibly amusing because she continuously misses the mark when trying to understand the students and the teacher.  She may make the most intricate and carefully designed projects but teachers really don’t quite know how to react to embroidered sayings along the lines of “repent” or some of the other darker themes that the narrator explores as a result of her upbringing.

Full Review.

Jen K’s #CBR5 Review #97: Shift by Hugh Howey

While I ended up liking this novel, or collection of three novellas, it didn’t grab me in the same way that its predecessor, Wool, did.  The three stories combined tell the story from the beginning of the silos, and take the reader up to the end of Wool, where Silo 18 has become aware of at least part of what is going on.

Complete Review.

Jen K’s Book Exchange Post

Jen's booksSign up for the CBR book exchange only ended on Wednesday, and the first few packages have already been sent out.  As far as I know, this is the first one received!  Yay for Amazon!  Considering that I’m the organizer, I have to say I feel really weird being the first one to post.  Anyway, as you can see, I received three awesome books from Siege of The Caustic Critic.  I mentioned that I liked World War II, had an interest in historical disasters and enjoyed mysteries set in the past, and as you can see, her choices fit perfectly into those categories!

In case you can’t see, she sent me The King of the Castle by Victoria Holt, Cut to the Quick by Kate Ross and Miracles on the Water by Tom Nagorski.

Thank you so much!

Dany with books

Naturally, Dany had to investigate and give her seal of approval.  She was also very excited about the box the books came in (I had a picture but then realized that my address was prominently displayed on the box and the picture).

Jen K’s #CBR5 Review #96: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

I feel like everyone read this book about two years ago and raved about it. I actually bought it back then, but was afraid I would be the one person that didn’t like it. Some of the reviews made me worry that maybe it wasn’t my cup of tea, and then I started seeing reviews that were less excited about it, which made me feel like I was justified in holding off on reading it. As it turns out I shouldn’t have been worried at all, and I’m so glad I found some of the book challenges I did this year that inspired me to finally read this since it meets requirements for three or four of them.
The main premise of the plot revolves around a challenge between two magicians and their opposing theories on the practice of magic. Rather than face each other, the two have been pitting apprentices and students against each other for an indeterminate time. It seems that quite some time has elapsed since the last challenge, but when one of them realizes he has a daughter, he decides to use her in the challenge, even when his opponent, Alexander, gives him a chance to bow out considering that the challenge only ends with death. Alexander quickly finds an orphan to teach, and thus Marco and Celia are set up as contestants in what will become a life long challenge (while neither of the older men is exactly admirable, I liked Alexander and his methods much more).