Sophia’s #CBR5 Review #63: Allegiant by Veronica Roth

AllegiantI was going to wait until I could get Allegiant (2013), the third book in the Divergent Trilogy by Veronica Roth from the library. I’d really gotten into the first book (Divergent), and only kind of liked the second one (Insurgent), so I wasn’t in a huge rush to finish up the series. However, some of my friends started up a new book club, and I wasn’t able to wait.

Allegiant picks up right where Insurgent left off. Unfortunately, Insurgent didn’t exactly enthrall me, so I had trouble recollecting both the plot and most of the secondary characters. Roth apparently doesn’t like to recap, so almost all of the secondary characters remained pretty meaningless to me.

I’m struggling with a review here, partly because I’m exhausted, and partly because I just don’t feel strongly about this one. I was disappointed. I liked the first book, but the second and third just didn’t do it for me. But I also didn’t really dislike it, either, so I just don’t have much to say. As far as young adult, dystopian trilogies go, I’d have to vote for The Hunger Games.

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Sophia’s #CBR5 Review #62: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

FangirlFangirl (2013) by Rainbow Rowell is her third book and the third one by her that  I’ve read. In fact, Rowell is on my list of “read everything she writes, no matter what the topic.” Rowell’s latest book centers around Cath, a young woman from Omaha, Nebraska, leaving her father and home for the first time to attend college in Lincoln. Cath is a strong introvert, also dealing with social anxiety and self esteem problems. Any new situations are challenging, so the upheavel in her life that college represents is very difficult for her. Cath’s twin sister, Wren, is also starting college, but instead of sustaining their comforting pairing, Wren wants to break out and meet new people. Cath’s life is centered around writing fan fiction for a young adult fantasy series, and it is this that she uses to avoid dealing with her real life. The book follows Cath through her first year of college. Like Rowell’s other books, this was a nice, sweet story, with realistic, likable people dealing with their own personal challenges. Cath deals with some heavy problems, including her relationship with her mother and mental illness in her family, but the main focus on the story is Cath growing into her life.

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Sophia’s #CBR5 Review #61: In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

In Cold BloodI had, of course, heard of In Cold Blood (1966) by Truman Capote, and I think I’ve seen at least parts of Capote with Philip Seymour Hoffman. Despite all this, reading an entire book on a series of grisly murders never really appealed to me. It wasn’t until I saw In Cold Blood up at the top of a list of favorite non-fiction books on Goodreads, a list that was full of other books that I’d read and loved, that I figured I should see what I’ve been missing.

In Cold Blood tells the true and detailed story of two men who met in jail, got out on parole, and killed a family (the parents and two younger teenagers) at a rural farm in a small town in Kansas. Capote hits all sides of this crime. You learn all about the victims, the murderers, the hunt for the two men after the fact, the killers’ run from the law, the trial, their ultimate punishment, and how all of this affected the people living in Holcomb, Kansas.

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Sophia’s #CBR5 Review #59: Twelve Years A Slave by Solomon Northup

Twelve Years a SlaveEven after seeing the trailer for Twelve Years A Slave, the movie, I wasn’t really thinking about reading the book. Slavery is so dark and so brutal that I figured even watching the movie would be hard. I wasn’t sure I wanted to delve into a detailed account of what appeared to be a bitter story. But then I saw a positive Cannonball review and figured I’d have to read it. So I picked up a brand-spankin’ new copy of, Twelve Years A Slave (1853) by Solomon Northup from my library.

It took me a little while to get used to the formal writing style. The beginning of the story is chock full of new names, characters, and places that I had trouble keeping straight. It was also in the beginning that I most felt the need for a historical commenter to put some of the events and customs into perspective. Although I’ve read a small bit about slavery in the South, I’m not very knowledgeable about living conditions and restrictions for free blacks in the North. I wondered if it was unusual that Solomon would leave for D.C. without leaving his wife a note. I also wondered how prevalent kidnapping like Solomon’s was in that time period–especially after Britain declared the slave trade illegal. Solomon certainly ran into a number of other kidnapped free men on his journey south.

But then I got into the story, and I became so involved with Solomon’s life that I couldn’t put it down. Solomon has a pretty varied view of slavery and how it affected him. Having endured both a kind man and a heartless asshole as “masters,” as well as work with sugar plantations, cotton plantations, carpentry, and playing the violin, Northup had a broad view of different aspects of slavery.

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Sophia’s #CBR5 Review #58: The Omni Diet by Tana Amen, B.S.N., R.N.

The Omni DietThe Omni Diet (2013) by Tana Amen is another one of those books I spotted on the “New Books” shelf at the library and picked up on a whim. I’m a sucker for nutrition books. I like to read and compare them, and the premise fit with what I’ve already decided is healthy eating.

Tana Amen is a nurse and was apparently plagued by health problems for years. She experimented with a number of diets and came across what she calls the “Omni Diet,” which involves eating 30% lean protein and 70% vegetables. Tana Amen is apparently the wife of a famous minister and also works with Dr. Oz. I’m not familiar with any of these people, so all of that name dropping didn’t do anything for me, but it’s likely that Amen already had a strong following before she wrote this book.

On the whole, I like what Amen recommends, and I like how she discusses the pretty dramatic effects that different foods can have on your body.

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Sophia’s #CBR5 Review #57: Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler

Calling Me HomeI found Calling Me Home (2013) by Julie Kibler from another Cannonball review. The review intrigued me, so when I saw the book just sitting there in the library, I had to grab it. I’ve often found that stories based on personal experiences and lives often feel more compelling and true than others. I think this is the case with Calling Me Home.

Author Julie Kibler heard a story about how her grandmother had fallen in love with a young black man when she was a teenager. I don’t know how closely Kibler followed her grandmother’s story in this book-or even how many details she learned about her grandmother’s old love, but she is the inspiration for this story.

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Sophia’s #CBR5 Review #56: The Last Kiss Goodbye by Karen Robards

The Last Kiss GoodbyeI did not pick up The Last Kiss Goodbye (2013) by Karen Robards with the best attitude. First, I am not a fan of paranormal romance novels. I just don’t understand the appeal of falling in love with a ghost. Romance heroes are pretty unrealistic already. Is it really necessary to make them even more unobtainable? Second, the only reason I was reading The Last Kiss Goodbye was to get closure after reading The Last Victim, a book that I only read because Robards was one of my favorite romance authors, and she’d never written about ghosts before. And not only did The Last Victim have ghosts, but it didn’t even have an ending! What I know now is that it is the first book of the “Charlotte Stone” series. I have no idea when this series is going to end, but it appears it could go on forever. The Last Kiss Goodbye is the second book in the Charlotte Stone series. I picked it up because I like closure and I was curious how she was going to make everything work out (I was assuming that paranormal romances–like regular romances–requires a happy ending).

Unfortunately, reading The Last Kiss Goodbye didn’t get me any closure.

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