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.

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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).

Jen K’s #CBR5 Review #95: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

This was such a great novel! I was very impressed with the story and how much research the author incorporated into the book. The novel begins with the written confession of “Verity,” or Queenie as she refers to herself, a British agent captured in France by German agents. After being tortured, she has agreed to give the Germans the information they want and has already revealed codes. Given her status, she knows she has very little time left before she dies, and realizes that once they have her confessions she will likely die or get sent somewhere even worse than the Gestapo headquarters. As a result, her confessions may seem a bit long, chronicling her friendship with Maddie, an English pilot, before she finally reveals more about herself and her mission, but her captors are both impatient and oddly tolerant of her tangents. The commander of the Gestapo frightens Queenie but often surprises her with his knowledge of literature, even stating that she is a student of the novel, and writing her story in that way. Queenie does an amazing job of telling her and Maddie’s story while interspersing her present day predicament and the fear she faces.

Full Review.