Saturday, September 26, 2015

Stacking the Shelves: Dead Wake by Erik Larson

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews.  It is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, be it physical or virtual.  This means you can include books you buy in a physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

Tynga publishes her post each Saturday, so be sure to link up your posts and check out what books others have added to their shelves that week.

From the Library:

Dead Wake by Erik Larson

This book was selected by my book club for October.  I have only read one historical fiction novel, which I really enjoyed, so I'm going to give this one a try.  I know nothing about the Lusitania besides the very this should be an enlightening experience for me.

Goodreads Overview:

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the LusitaniaOn May 1, 1915, with WWI entering its tenth month, a luxury ocean liner as richly appointed as an English country house sailed out of New York, bound for Liverpool, carrying a record number of children and infants. The passengers were surprisingly at ease, even though Germany had declared the seas around Britain to be a war zone. For months, German U-boats had brought terror to the North Atlantic. But the Lusitania was one of the era’s great transatlantic “Greyhounds”—the fastest liner then in service—and her captain, William Thomas Turner, placed tremendous faith in the gentlemanly strictures of warfare that for a century had kept civilian ships safe from attack. 

Germany, however, was determined to change the rules of the game, and Walther Schwieger, the captain of Unterseeboot-20, was happy to oblige. Meanwhile, an ultra-secret British intelligence unit tracked Schwieger’s U-boat, but told no one. As U-20 and the Lusitania made their way toward Liverpool, an array of forces both grand and achingly small—hubris, a chance fog, a closely guarded secret, and more—all converged to produce one of the great disasters of history.

It is a story that many of us think we know but don’t, and Erik Larson tells it thrillingly, switching between hunter and hunted while painting a larger portrait of America at the height of the Progressive Era. Full of glamour and suspense, Dead Wake brings to life a cast of evocative characters, from famed Boston bookseller Charles Lauriat to pioneering female architect Theodate Pope to President Woodrow Wilson, a man lost to grief, dreading the widening war but also captivated by the prospect of new love. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles, #1)

With the upcoming release of the final book in this series, Winter, I decided to join the Lunar Chronicles Read Along hosted by The Book Addict's Guide.

Cinder is a unique twist on the traditional Cinderella story.  Cinder is a cyborg, which is someone who is part human and part machine.  Her step-father died from an illness shortly after her arrival and her step-mother blames her for no apparent reason.  There are of course two step-sisters to keep with the original story.

Rather than having to scrub the floors and clean the house, Cinder is one of the best mechanics in the area.  She can repair just about any mechanical device, but all of the money she earns goes to her step-mother.  As a cyborg, she is technically the property of her step-mother and is not considered a free citizen.

The story is set well into the future in New Beijing, which is one of the rebuilt cities after the fourth world war.  Earth has been trying to establish a treaty with the Lunar people for over a decade, but the Lunar Queen's demands have been unreasonable.  The Lunar Queen hopes that the newly crowned Emperor of New Beijing will finally be her chance to control Earth as well as the moon.  With a plague spreading across Earth, the Queen may have something to offer that the Emperor will not be able to refuse.

Overall, I found this book to be very entertaining.  I loved "prince charming" (Emperor Kai) and can't wait to see how things unfold her him and his people in the next book in the series.  He is in a very difficult spot with the manipulative queen, but I feel like he will have some leverage as this series progresses.  There is also hope for Cinder.  She is more valuable than she ever imagined and may finally be able to gain her independence and more.  I wish there had been a little more to this love story, but hopefully that will escalate throughout the series.    

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Harry Potter, #7)

This series has been on my reading bucket list for a LONG time.  I read the first three books when they were released, books 4 and 5 in 2010, and book 6 in 2012.  I planned on reading book 7 as part of my "bookish goals" for the past two years, but I never get around to it.  Thanks to the COYER scavenger hunt I had to read the oldest book on my TBR list, so Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows finally made it to the top of the list.

I don't think I need to provide a lengthy description of this book since I am probably the last person on the planet to read it.  Voldomort is controlling the wizarding world and he is on a quest to track down and kill Harry.  Prior to Dumbeldore's death, he gave Harry one final mission.  He must find and destroy all of the Horcruxes.  (Horcruxes are magical objects containing a portion of Voldemort's soul.  He can't be killed as long as the Hurcruxes exist.)  As part of his will, Dumbledore left a couple of items to Harry and something for both Ron and Hermione.  None of them could understand why the gifts were left to them, but they eventually discover their meaning.  We also learn what the Deathly Hallows are and why the are important.

My favorite part of this book was the final 100 pages.  I really enjoyed seeing some of Snape's memories and discovering how the relationship between Dumbledore and Snape evolved.  I was just as shocked as Harry by some of the conversations and events we were able to observe.  There is far more to Snape than I ever gave him credit for.  On the other hand, Dumbledore and his intentions were not always as noble as I had thought.

As the stakes and violence increase, so do the number of deaths on both sides.  I managed to avoid spoilers all of these years and couldn't believe some of the characters that J.K. Rowling killed off throughout this book.  As if Harry hadn't experience enough loss in his 17 years, everything culminates in at EPIC battle at Hogwarts.

To soften the ending, Rowling added a nice epilogue set nineteen years in the future.

I have only watched the first four movies in this series, but I plan on watching all of them from the beginning now that I have completed the series.

I also can't wait to go to the Harry Potter park in Orlando over spring break this year.  I've been wanting to go for years, but I refused to go before completing the series.  This actually worked to my advantage since my son is now reading the series and is old enough to appreciate the experience as well.