The Joy of Doing Nothing

the joy of doing nothing.jpgThe Joy of Doing Nothing: A Real-Life Guide to Stepping Back, Slowing Down, and Creating a Simpler, Joy-Filled Life

160 pages
Expected Publication: December 5, 2017
Average Rating on Netgalley 4/5 stars
Average Rating on Goodreads 3/5 stars

Book Blurb

Fight back against busyness and celebrate the pleasure of doing nothing in this new guide that helps relieve stress and increase happiness in your life.

In The Joy of Doing Nothing you’ll discover how to step away from everything you think you have to do and learn to live a minimalist life. Rachel Jonat shares simple strategies to help you stop over scheduling, find time for yourself, and create moments of calm every day. You’ll learn how to focus more on the important aspects of life, such as family and friends, and scale back your schedule to create more time in the day to care for yourself.“

I received an advanced copy in exchange for my honest, unbiased opinion. Thank you to the publisher, author, and NetGalley, for allowing me to review.

My Thoughts

Burn out is OPTIONAL. If you feel like your schedule of activities is dictating your life and you have no control over your time, then it’s time to take a step back and have a good, hard look at your calendar. Take back the power of setting boundaries. The philosophy of doing nothing is about self-care, finding clarity, restoring yourself, feeling more content, being more productive, reducing stress, and so much more. Jonat shares thoughtful advice on how to take control of your time by saying “no”, and disconnecting from tech. There is a difference between doing nothing and procrastination. Procrastination is simply putting things off, while taking the time to do nothing is actually taking mindful breaks.

Teaching yourself and your children the art of stillness will benefit all of you physically and mentally. There are many studies which show how slowing down improves health, and even helps to fight disease. Jonat includes a great how-to guide on teaching children how to do nothing and I’m really excited to see the results for my own kids.

The Joy of Doing Nothing has some fantastic tips on how to take control of your time in order to find some peace. I was once addicted to my phone and social media. I was checking my messages, emails, and social media notifications constantly and I felt ridden with anxiety. A couple of years ago I decided to spend less time on my phone, and more time in the present with my family and friends, writing, reading, knitting, or just plain relaxing. I have to admit, it was HARD. The phone was an addiction for me. I was caught up in the idea that being busy meant I was important. I often hear people almost bragging, or competing about just how busy they are and whoever is the busiest wins. One day something clicked and I realized that is not right and it was contributing to my anxiety big time. I used to suffer from SEVERE anxiety. I used to worry for my entire day. Since reducing my phone time/social media time I almost immediately felt more peaceful. My brain started  to slow down.

In January 2017 I made the decision to spend less time watching TV, and more time reading. I bring a book with me almost every where I go, so if I have a little bit of free time I read a few pages instead of looking at my phone. I also started going to bed earlier so I can read 30 minutes before sleep. I used to wake up a million times a night and felt exhausted every day, but now I sleep through the night at least 7 hours and I feel AMAZING.

I have also made changes to our family schedules so we have more time to just BE. I like that the weekends are usually a time for my kids to relax and play with toys, read, write, and colour, instead of rushing around to sports and other activities. My youngest has had less outbursts at home and at school. My oldest has actually said that many classmates have complained to her about their busy schedules and she’s happy that we have lots of relax time in our calendar.

Even though I’ve already been unplugging and making changes to our schedules I still found a lot of value in this short book. There were some great tips on how to use my time, especially “fringe time”, to my advantage in order to find more peace and enjoy life.

I highly recommend this book to EVERYONE. This would make a great Christmas gift to someone you love, especially to yourself! ♥ ♥ ♥

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Together At Midnight ~ Spoiler-Free Book Review 🗽 💕 🎄 🎆

Together at MidnightTogether at Midnight

Young Adult, Contemporary Romance
Expected Publication: January 2, 2017
352 pages

I received an advanced copy in exchange for my honest, unbiased opinion. Thank you to the publisher, author, and Edelweiss, for allowing me to review.

Together At Midnight begins with Kendall making a list of “Things to do to make next year not suck”. She is back in her family home after finishing a Movable School Program where she got to travel to Paris, Rome, London, and Ireland as part of her high school curriculum. After Christmas Kendall spontaneously decides to tag along with her brother and his boyfriend who are heading back to their apartment in New York City.
Instead of going to Brown University Max decided to take a year off and work. His father asks him to stay with Max’s cranky Grandfather Ezra for a few days while his aunt looks for a new home aide. Max loves NYC and is happy to take some time to enjoy the city before heading back to work.
Kendall makes plans to meet up with Jamie, a boy who broke her heart when he said he only liked her as a friend, but while she was studying abroad he emailed her. They’ve emailed back and forth and now have made plans to hang out in NYC. As they are walking around they bump into Jamie’s friend – Max. The three of them witness a young woman being hit by a bus. This incident inspires Max and Kendall to set a goal of doing seven Random Acts of Kindness before the new year begins.
When Max and Kendall help random people in NYC we get short chapters from the perspective of the person they helped. It’s really great to get a little back story on the people they are helping because we get to see how one tiny act of kindness can make a huge impact on someone. We simply never know what battles other people are fighting.

My Thoughts

Together at Midnight might be categorized as a contemporary romance, but I have to say it’s not all about the romance, it’s not insta-love either. The relationships feel extremely authentic. Kendall has ADHD and I love that although it may change the way she does certain things, it doesn’t hold her back. Kendall reminds me of my younger self. I love her sense of adventure and admire her self-awareness. Max is loyal, committed, selfless, loving, but has insecurities that keep him adorably humble. If I had to pick a favourite character I think it would be Max.
Together at Midnight doesn’t have the typical happily ever after ending, which is refreshing. I liked how the story ended – crossing my fingers there will be more books about Max and/or Kendall.
The first chapter introduced a lot of characters which I often find overwhelming and annoying. I don’t know if anyone else feels this way or if I’m just weird. LOL
Together at Midnight would be a fantastic read during the Holiday season. I highly recommend you check this cozy, touching book. FIVE STAR read for me. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

About The Author

Jennifer Castle
Jennifer Castle received her B.A. in Creative Writing at Brown University and worked as a celebrity publicist’s assistant, an advertising copywriter, and a struggling screenwriter (yes, that’s an actual job) before falling into a niche producing websites for kids and teens. Her debut, THE BEGINNING OF AFTER, was a 2012 YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults selection as well as a Chicago Public Library “Best of the Best” book. YOU LOOK DIFFERENT IN REAL LIFE was a 2015 Florida Teens Read selection. Her most recent novel, WHAT HAPPENS NOW, was published in June 2016. She lives in New York’s Hudson Valley with her husband and daughters.

Talking With Your Child About Their Autism Diagnosis: A Guide For Parents {Spoiler-Free Book Review}

Talking with your child about their autism diagnosisTalking with Your Child about Their Autism Diagnosis: A Guide for Parents

NonFiction
Expected Publication: November 21, 2017

GoodReads Blurb

As a mother of two children on the spectrum, with over ten years’ experience as a psychologist specialising in childhood autism, Raelene Dundon has all the tips you’ll need. In this concise book, she sets out case studies, examples and resources that will equip you to make your own informed choices and help your whole family to live well with autism. Part One provides ways to tell children of different ages and development levels about their diagnosis, including photocopiable and downloadable worksheets designed to help diagnosed children understand autism, and gives advice on what to do if they react in a negative or unexpected way to the news. Part Two explores the pros and cons of sharing the diagnosis with others, including family, friends, school staff and your child’s classmates, and guides you through what to do if others don’t understand or accept the diagnosis.”

My Thoughts

I received an advanced copy in exchange for my honest, unbiased opinion. Thank you to the publisher, author, and Edelweiss, for allowing me to review.

Talking With Your Child About Their Autism Diagnosis is an informational book that highlights why, how, when, and what to tell your child about their Autism diagnosis. Dundon shares common parental reactions to a diagnosis (and how to deal with feelings), what to do if a child uses Autism as an excuse, and also what to tell family, friends, and teachers about their child’s diagnosis. She includes an abundance of resources, such as downloadable worksheets and a list of helpful books, videos, and websites.

I highly recommend this short book to EVERYONE, not just parents of children who have been diagnosed with Autism. I believe that the more we all know about it, the better we can share facts and provide support to children we know.

About The Author

Raelene Dundon.jpgRaelene Dundon

“Raelene is the Director of Okey Dokey Childhood Psychology in Melbourne, Australia. She is a registered Psychologist and holds a Masters Degree in Educational and Developmental Psychology. Raelene has extensive experience working with children with developmental disabilities and their families, as well as typically developing children, providing educational, social/emotional and behavioural support.

Raelene has worked extensively in early childhood intervention settings, schools and private practice, and works with preschools and schools to provide individual student and staff support, as well as running social skills groups for students. She regularly presents workshops for parents and professionals on topics related to supporting children with special needs in the classroom and in other settings, and has recently presented at an International Autism Conference in Edinburgh, as well as conferences in Brisbane, Sydney, Cairns and Melbourne.

Raelene is also the mother of three children, two of whom are on the Autism Spectrum, and draws on both her personal and professional experience to provide support and guidance to families and carers.”

The End We Start From {spoiler-free book review}

the end we start fromThe End We Start From

Published May 2017 by Picador
Ebook 160 pages
Science Fiction, Dystopian

Goodreads Blurb:
In the midst of a mysterious environmental crisis, as London is submerged below flood waters, a woman gives birth to her first child, Z. Days later, the family are forced to leave their home in search of safety. As they move from place to place, shelter to shelter, their journey traces both fear and wonder as Z’s small fists grasp at the things he sees, as he grows and stretches, thriving and content against all the odds.

This is a story of new motherhood in a terrifying setting: a familiar world made dangerous and unstable, its people forced to become refugees. Startlingly beautiful, Megan Hunter’s The End We Start From is a gripping novel that paints an imagined future as realistic as it is frightening. And yet, though the country is falling apart around them, this family’s world – of new life and new hope – sings with love.”

I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest, unbiased opinion. Thank you to the publisher, author, and NetGalley, for allowing me to review.

My Thoughts

The End We Start From is a short novel that feels like a poem. This is a survival story about climate change, mothers, babies, loss, and love. The main character’s thoughts are honest and authentic. Most of the story is about baby Z growing up.

I didn’t enjoy the sparse prose, however, I do think it was done in order to simplify the story, much like the main character’s life has been simplified to bare essentials. It felt like I was reading someone’s notes for their intended story. There is no dialogue, but plenty of awkward sentences that didn’t make much sense to me. All of the characters are referred to by only the first letter of their name, which made me feel unattached to them. I simply wanted more.

The End We Start From is great for anyone looking for a quick read.

About The Author

Megan Hunter.jpg

Megan Hunter

Megan Hunter was born in Manchester in 1984, and now lives in Cambridge with her young family. She has a BA in English Literature from Sussex University, and an MPhil in English Literature: Criticism and Culture from Jesus College, Cambridge. Her poetry has been shortlisted for the Bridport Prize and she was a finalist for the Aesthetica Creative Writing Award with her short story ‘Selfing’.”

 

A Stranger in the House – Book Review (Spoiler-Free)

stranger in the houseA Stranger in the House

Large Print Copy: Published August 2017 (first published July 2017)
Random House
Adult Fiction, Mystery, Thriller
Tom Krupp arrives home in a rich New York neighborhood to find his wife isn’t there, and has left in quite a hurry. She left her purse, phone, and didn’t lock the door. He is concerned because it’s not like her to leave the house unlocked. The cops show up to tell Tom that his wife Karen has been in a car accident. The police say she was driving recklessly. Karen wakes up in the hospital and can’t remember why she left the house so quickly, or why she was driving so fast in the “bad part” of town. Officer Kirton and Office Fleming visit Karen in hospital to question her, and let her know that she will be charged with reckless driving. Karen and Tom hire Jack Calvin as their lawyer. He’s confident that with Karen’s clean record she’ll be able to have the charges dropped.
Brigid Cruikshank is Tom and Karen’s nosy neighbour, she’s also Karen’s best friend. Her husband Bob works long hours and doesn’t pay much attention to Karen. She spends her time watching the neighborhood through the front window, knitting, and waiting.
When Karen arrives home she begins to notice things have been moved around and she’s quite sure that someone has been coming into their home. She’s suffering from a pretty bad concussion so Tom is sure her short-term memory is a little fuzzy.
A man and woman stumble into the abandoned restaurant looking for a place to make out when they come across the dead man’s body. Detective Rasbach and Detective Jennings are on the case to find the murderer. Not far from the scene they find a pair of pink dishwashing gloves. The gloves have tire tracks on them, which seem to match the tire tread of Karen’s Honda Civic. The detectives become extremely suspicious of Karen and pay her and Tom a visit.
Did Karen really murder someone? Is Tom in on it? Did Brigid see anything? A Stranger in the House is a fast-paced, page-turning thriller.
The characters were a little one-dimensional for me. I would have loved a little more background about Bob and Brigid. Tom, Karen, Brigid, the cops, the detectives…they all annoyed me. I found some of their actions slightly off. I don’t think I could even pick a favourite character to be honest with you.
I also found it a weird that Tom would keep telling the police how it’s so out of Karen’s character to be in “that part of town”, and she never speeds, etc…BUT they’ve only been together a few years. That’s not very long at all. I wish Tom and Karen would have been married for longer, because then when he said it’s out of her character it would have been more believable.
There was too much telling and not enough showing.

And the ending…ugh…I did not like the ending at all.

I’m not a fan of using amnesia as a tool to help set up twists in a thriller. I didn’t like it when it was used for The Girl on the Train and I don’t like it in A Stranger in the House.
If you’re looking for a quick, easy, non-gory thriller then I’d recommend A Stranger in the House.

New Book Published! The Shoe on the Roof ~ Spoiler-Free Review

The shoe on the roofThe Shoe on the Roof

By Will Ferguson

Published October 17, 2017 by Simon and Schuster

384 pages (hardcover)

Adult Fiction

Goodreads Giveaway: Ends October 31, 2017

 

 

 

Book Blurb

From the Giller Prize–winning novelist of 419 comes the startling, funny, and heartbreaking story of a psychological experiment gone wrong.

Ever since his girlfriend ended their relationship, Thomas Rosanoff’s life has been on a downward spiral. A gifted med student, he has spent his entire adulthood struggling to escape the legacy of his father, an esteemed psychiatrist who used him as a test subject when he was a boy. Thomas lived his entire young life as the “Boy in the Box,” watched by researchers behind two-way glass.

But now the tables have turned. Thomas is the researcher, and his subjects are three homeless men, all of whom claim to be messiahs—but no three people can be the one and only saviour of the world. Thomas is determined to “cure” the three men of their delusions, and in so doing save his career—and maybe even his love life. But when Thomas’s father intervenes in the experiment, events spin out of control, and Thomas must confront the voices he hears in the labyrinth of his own mind.”

The Shoe on the Roof

A woman dies on the operating table. The doctors refuse to give up on her. After they miraculously bring her back to life she says she floated about them all, floated up to the roof of the hospital. The doctors explain how that feeling is caused neurologically. She tells them she saw a shoe on the roof. They sent a janitor up there who finds the shoe she had described.

My Thoughts

The Shoe on the Roof has an extremely unique plot. The idea that belief in God can be caused neurologically is certainly provocative. When I read the book blurb about how this story is about a failed psychological experiment I was worried it would be a “heavy” read with lots of difficult words and medical jargon. That is not the case at all. The scientific terms are not difficult to understand. Other reviewers have said there were many times that they laughed out loud, and although I didn’t find it funny enough to actually laugh out loud, it is a fun, quick read.

Each character had a distinct voice and personality. One of the mentally ill men who calls himself the magician is my favourite character by far. I would read an entire book about his life story. There are lots of interesting medical information and thought-provoking ideas about the relation between mental health and religion.

There are some interesting comparisons between this story and Christianity. The Shoe on the Roof highlights father/son relationships: Thomas and his father, Jesus Christ and his father. Thomas is trying to cure three men who believe they are the Messiah, which made me think of the three wise men. Thomas’s godmother Frances is a wonderful woman who helps the injured and sick homeless people  – probably inspired by Saint Frances of Rome, a nun who served in hospitals and even established a homeless shelter at one point in her life.

There is a big twist at the end that I DID NOT SEE coming. I often guess the big twist when reading mysteries and thrillers, so I’m always impressed when an author manages to make my jaw drop.

I did not start liking the main character, Thomas, until around 3/4 of the way through the book. At the beginning of the story he is a sexist, arrogant, a-hole. I did not understand his motivations which made me not care about if he was able to win back his ex-girlfriend. Actually, I don’t even like the ex-girlfriend either to be honest. Thankfully, Thomas achieves a crap-load of personal growth, and by the last 50 pages I found myself finally caring about him. I would have quit reading it before the 100 page mark if it wasn’t an ARC. I am glad I did finish it, because this ended up being a pretty good read for me.

I don’t understand why there was a murder mystery sub plot about homeless people being murdered. That could have been left out of the story completely and wouldn’t have changed the main plot in any way. Actually…you could also cut out the Thomas/Amy storyline as well. It would have created more room to give us more background information, especially about the three mentally ill men.

If you’re a fan of mysteries and like science/psychology I think you’ll dig this book.

I received an advanced copy in exchange for my honest, unbiased opinion. Thank you to the publisher, author, and NetGalley, for allowing me to review.

About the Author

Will Ferguson.jpg

 

Will Ferguson is an award-winning travel writer and novelist. His last work of fiction, 419, won the Scotiabank Giller Prize. He has won the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour a record-tying three times and has been nominated for both the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and a Commonwealth Writers’ Prize. His new novel, The Shoe on the Roof, will be released October 17, 2017. Visit him at WillFerguson.ca

The Waste Lands (The Dark Tower Book 3) By Stephen King #SpoilerFree #BookReview

The Waste Lands The Waste Lands (The Dark Tower #3)

By Stephen King, Illustrated By Ned Dameron

Published by Plume January 1992 (first published August 1991)

ISBN 0452267404

422 pages

 

The Waste Lands is an epic fantasy horror science fiction story with bad-ass gunslingers and sociopathic bad guys brought to you by Stephen King. King begins The Waste Lands novel with an “argument”, providing a quick summary of the first two books, along with some intriguing insights. The story then picks up “some months” after the ending of The Drawing of the Three, over 60 miles from the Western Sea in Mid-World. Roland Deschain of Gilead, the Last Gunslinger, has drawn two companions into his world, Eddie and Susannah Dean, who have agreed to help him find the Dark Tower. Eddie was once the Prisoner. Susannah, the Lady of the Shadows, was once Odetta Holmes and Detta Walker. While Roland is training Susannah how to shoot she confesses that she knows there has been something wrong with him since the conflict on the beach. He claims that there is nothing wrong. While they are talking, Eddie is leaning against a tree whittling away at a piece of wood when they all hear an enormous crash in the woods.

Mir, parasite-infested, largest and oldest creature in the Great West Woods charges toward Eddie, who manages to scramble up the highest tree nearby.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Roland’s shoulders Susannah successfully shoots the spinning rusty radar-dish on Mir’s head, which “kills” him. Roland tells them this enormous bear is one of the twelve Guardians. It is 2,000-3,000 years old and its real name is Shardik. The Great Old Ones created the twelve cyborg Guardians to stand watch at the twelve portals. The Thirteenth Portal, which rules all the worlds, is found at the Dark Tower. Roland explains that if they can find the portal Shardik was protecting they would be able to follow a straight line to the Dark Tower. As they journey to the portal Roland is slowly going more insane. He finally tells them the tale of his journey through the desert, under the mountains, and how he sacrificed Jake in order to catch up with the Man in Black. Roland has two memories of what happened at the Waystation – one where he met Jake, and one where he didn’t. Time travel is a bitch ain’t it? Roland throws the Man in Black’s jaw bone into the fire and Eddie watches it change and become a key. Eddie is convinced that he has to remember the exact shape of the key. After finding Shardik’s portal Roland, Eddie, and Susannah begin their journey traveling along one of the magnetic-type Beams which help to bind and hold this world together. Eddie is overwhelmed by an urge to cut a piece of tree next to them. He has no idea why, but he believes he is meant to carve this piece of wood, replicating the key he saw in the fire.

We then flip to Jake’s perspective. It’s May 31st, 1977. We get to learn more about Jake’s childhood, family, and school. Jake thinks he’s going mad. He hears voices in his head who insist Jake was hit and killed by a car on May 9. During the last ten days Jake has become fascinated by doors. He’s going about his days, attempting to pretend that he’s okay.

While in class he glances at the title of the final paper he has no memory writing, “My Understanding of Truth”. He continues searching for the door that will take him back to Roland’s world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Understanding of Truth

The gunslinger is the truth.
Roland is the truth.
The Prisoner is the truth.
The Lady of Shadows is the truth.
The Prisoner and the Lady are married. That is the truth.
The way station is the truth.
The Speaking Demon is the truth.

Roland let me die. That is the truth.
I still love him.
That is the truth.

When is a door not a door? When it’s a jar, and that is the truth.
Blaine is the truth.
Blaine is the truth.

You have to watch Blaine all the time, Blaine is a pain, and that is the truth.
I’m pretty sure that Blaine is dangerous, and that is the truth.

I want to go back and that is the truth.
I have to go back and that is the truth.

Choo-choo, and that is the truth.


 

It took me a long time to read The Waste Lands, but that was not because I wasn’t enjoying it. It’s definitely the most exciting book in the Dark Tower series so far. My favorite character is Oy, a billy-bumbler that Roland and his crew meet during their journey. Oy has black and gray striped fur and gold-ringed eyes. He’s intelligent and can mimic what he hears. I mean, it’s the perfect pet! I really want a billy-bumbler for Christmas. Maybe I could dye my cat’s fur to make him look like one.

King has an amazing ability to create characters who are unbelievable and yet they feel completely real. I don’t want to spoil the story, so I’ll just say Roland’s crew meet some pretty interesting characters: a Demon, a group of old folks at the river crossing, Gasher, the Tick-Tock Man, and Blaine the Mono Rail. There are many beautiful illustrations throughout the book,  but they aren’t located in the right spots during the story. I don’t know why this bothered me so much, but it did. The pace was extremely slow in between extremely intense moments. I find the romance between Eddie and Susannah slightly annoying at times and feel like it could have been left out. Maybe there IS a reason for their relationship, I guess I’ll find out as I keep reading the series. There are a lot of unanswered plot points in the first three books, and I’m really needing answers for at least a few. FYI – The Waste Lands ends on a BIG cliff hanger. It took King six years to publish the next book and I’m extremely grateful that I don’t have to wait six years before reading Wizard and Glass.

I recommend this one to anyone 16 years and older (sex, violence, swearing) who likes to leave their troubles behind and enter fantastical worlds, perhaps via Blaine the talking train 😉

Six of Crows – Spoiler Free Book Review

Six of CrowsSix of Crows (Six of Crows #1)

Young Adult, Fantasy
Published September 2015
Six of Crows, set in the same world as New York Time’s Bestselling series The Grisha Trilogy, is the first book of the “Six of Crows” duology. It’s a heist story written from a few different points of view, focusing on themes such as building relationships, self-discovery, identity, substance abuse, with a couple LGBT characters. It takes place in Ketterdam at the end of Winter.
Van Eck, a member of the Merchant Council, thinks someone is controlling Grisha with jurda parem. Grisha are humans who practice the art of manipulating matter. They are divided into three groups: Coporalki, Etherealki, and Materialki.
  • The Corporalki have three types: Healers, Heartrenders, and Tailors. Healers use their powers to mend bones and heal wounds. Heartrender can control and damage a person’s internal organs. Tailors can change a person’s appearance. This ability is now taught to all Corporalki Grisha.
  • The Etherealki have Inferni (can manipulate fire), Squallers (can manipulate wind), Tidemakers (can manipulate water), and Summoners (can manipulate light).
  • The Materialki have two types: Durasts (can manipulate anything solid) and Alkemi (specialize in chemistry). Durasts and Alkemi are usually lumped into one category called Fabrikators.
Van Eck is worried about the use of jurda parem and thinks if it’s released into the world it will lead to war. He wants to save Bo Yul-Bayur, a well-known chemist who helped to create jurda parem, currently imprisoned at the Ice Court. Van Eck doesn’t want their government connected to the situation in any way. He asks Kaz to break into the Ice Court and save Bo Yul-Bayur and in return Kaz’s crew will be paid 30 million Kruge. There’s one problem: The Ice Court has NEVER been breached. Kaz wants that money. It would change his life. So he goes about putting together the perfect crew – The Six of Crows.
crow-1582138_960_720.jpgKaz Brekker is known as “Dirty hands” and “the Bastard of the Barrel”. He may be young, but he’s a bad-ass with a grumpy attitude. He uses a cane with a crows head due to a leg injury that causes him to walk with a limp. He is the leader of a gang of thieves known as “the Dregs”.
crow-1582138_960_720Inej Ghafa is “a spy known as the Wraith.” She’s a serious girl, and one of the few people who Kaz trusts. Inej silently sneaks around in order to gain information for Kaz. “The only law that applied to her was gravity, and some days she defied that, too.”
crow-1582138_960_720Nina Zenik is “a Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.” Nina is super confident and hilarious. She agrees to help him on this quest so that Kaz will help her get Matthias Helvar out of prison.
crow-1582138_960_720Matthias is a Druskelle soldier (a Gisha hunter) from Fjerda who used to work for the Ice Court.
crow-1582138_960_720Jesper Fahey is a light-hearted, sarcastic “sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager.
crow-1582138_960_720Wylan Van Eck, Van Eck’s son, is “a runaway with a privileged past.” He knows how to take things apart, put them back together, and blow things up.
Switching the point of view enabled me to become better acquainted with the main characters past, thought-process, goals, and motivation. The first half of the book is a slower pace than the second half, and it was a little hard to “get into” the book. However, once I was “in” I couldn’t put it down. I liked a few characters quite a bit, but if I had to choose a favourite I think I’d have to pick Inej. She is a STRONG FEMALE CHARACTER. In fact – MANY of the female characters are strong and quite able to help themselves “thank-you-very-much”. There’s nothing I despise more than all of the female characters depending on men to help them. BIG POINTS for the slow-burn, very under-the-radar romance stories going on as well. There is NO INSTA-LOVE happening here, and the romantic bits never take over the story and do not drive the plot. There were a few funny parts, but for the most part it’s quite a dark, suspenseful story with characters who have dismal pieces to their past. Six of Crows reminded me of the Ocean’s Eleven movies.
I don’t like when I don’t know how to pronounce the name of a character. If I can’t pronounce their name I have a hard time connecting with their story and find it easier to forget them. The flashbacks used to tell us more about each character’s history were slightly jarring. The book is much longer than it needs to be, and FYI – the ending leaves us with a cliffhanger.
I recommend this book to 16+ (for some graphic violence) readers who enjoy long, multi-character stories with morally grey characters.

ARC Review: A Bold and Dangerous Family – Spoiler Free 🇮🇹 🔫 👩

I received an advanced copy in exchange for my honest, unbiased opinion. Thank you to the publisher, author, and Edelweiss for allowing me to review.

A bold and dangerous familyA Bold and Dangerous Family: The Remarkable Story of an Italian Mother, Her Two Sons, and Their Fight Against Fascism

Expected Publication October 3, 2017
Non-Fiction, 20th Century History
Nominated for The Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction Longlist
“The acclaimed author of A Train in Winter and Village of Secrets delivers the next chapter in “The Resistance Quartet”: the astonishing story of the aristocratic Italian family who stood up to Mussolini’s fascism, and whose efforts helped define the path of Italy in the years between the World Wars—a profile in courage that remains relevant today.”
Caroline Moorehead uses letters, family interviews, and photographs to tell the story of the Rosselli family and their courageous actions during the first three decades of the 20th Century. Amelia, a girl who grew up in Venice, triumphed through many hardships to raise her three sons who grew up to become extremely involved in Italian politics. They refused to allow Mussolini and his squaddristi to deter them from standing up to fascism, which ultimately had an enormous impact on Italian history.
Amelia was born in Venice January 1870. She had an extremely lonely and tough childhood. After her father’s death Amelia moved to Rome with her mother when she was 15. She met her future husband Giuseppe Rosselli in Rome when she was 19. She gave birth to her son Aldo in 1895, Carlo in 1899, and her third son Sabatino (Nello) in 1900. In 1903 Amelia moved to Florence with her sons after Giuseppe and Amelia separated. She spent her time writing poems, short stories, and articles for magazines. As an extremely vigilant mother she was sometimes perceived as harsh. In 1911 Giuseppe fell ill, Amelia went to look after him until his death later that year.
There was incredible political tension in Florence at this time. Amelia became extremely involved with fighting for women’s rights, in particular education. In May 1915 Italy declared war on Austria-Hungary, and Amelia’s son Aldo left to join the war. Sadly he died and she opened a home for children of soldiers who had no mothers and named it after her son, La Casina di Aldo. Her other sons Carlo and Nello went to war, thankfully both returned safely in 1920.
Benito Mussolini took advantage of a broken Italy, created the Fascist Party in 1919, and a military unit called “The Black Shirts” to silence anti-fascists like the Rosselli brothers. Moorehead provides a detailed account of the action-reaction relationship between Mussolini and the Rosselli family over the next two decades. I had never heard of the Rosselli family before reading this book, and am grateful to have gained that knowledge.
My favourite part of the book was reading about Amelia. The book started with her being the star of the story, but as her sons become more involved with politics her thoughts and actions become less visible. This book is obviously well-researched, and it should have interested someone with a minor in history, but I was often bored and feel like it would have been better if useless information was omitted. I debated not finishing this book, which is something I don’t do very often (there are only maybe 2 or 3 books that I started and haven’t finished). It was the title that drew my attention and made me think this would be an exciting historical account of a “dangerous” family, but in actuality it’s extremely dry and academic.
That being said, I do feel like there are many readers who would love to learn more about the Rosselli family and their impact on Italian history. I would recommend this book to readers who enjoy WWI and WWII history, especially if you’re interested in learning more about Italian political history during that time period.

 

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“Caroline Moorehead is the New York Times bestselling author of Village of Secrets, A Train in Winter, and Human Cargo: A Journey Among the Refugees, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. An acclaimed biographer, Moorehead has also written for the New York Review of Books, The Guardian, The Times, and The Independent. She lives in London and Italy.”

The Dream Thieves: Book Review ~ Spoiler-Free

The Dream Thieves

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater is the second book of The Raven Cycle series. After reading The Raven Boys in August I immediately put a hold on the second book at the library. This is a fantastically written young adult fantasy series featuring a group of friends trying to find the Glendower, learning more about themselves and each other in the process.

Hardcover 439 pages

Published: September 2013 by Scholastic Press

If you have not read The Raven Boys DO NOT READ this review – consider yourself warned – there may be spoilers!

At the very beginning of The Dream Thieves we learn Ronan Lynch has a secret. He’s a dream thief. He can dream of an object and bring it back to real life when he wakes.

Ronan’s friend Adam has a secret too. It’s been one month since Adam sacrificed himself to Cabeswater in an attempt to wake the ley line which would lead them to the Glendower. Ever since that sacrifice he’s been feeling strange, and seeing weird images. “He had a strange, disconcerting feeling that he couldn’t trust his senses. Like he was tasting an image or smelling a feeling or touching a sound.” (p.67) Adam desperately wants to be the one to wake Glendower so he can ask the King to fix his life.

Adam’s girlfriend Blue also has a few secrets. Blue hasn’t told Adam the real reason why she won’t kiss him. It has been predicted that if she kisses her true love then her true love will die. She also hasn’t told their friend Gansey that the ghosts seen on St. Mark’s Eve will die within the next 12 months. Gansey’s spirit was seen that evening – it was the first and only time she’s ever seen a spirit. She wants to help Gansey find the Glendower in hopes that the King will save him.

Blue’s mother Maura has secrets too. She won’t tell Blue who her father is. She tells Blue she has potential, but never what that potential could mean.

Ronan, Adam, Blue, Gansey, and their dead friend Noah, team up with Blue’s mother Maura, Blue’s older cousin Orla, and Maura’s psychic best friends Persephone and Calla to try to find the ley lines so they can wake Glendower. They aren’t the only ones looking for magic in Henrietta, Virginia.

The Gray Man is a hitman hired by Dr. Colin Greenmantle to find the Greywaren, a relic that allows the owner to take objects out of dreams. “For quite a long time now, the Gray Man has been hunting for things that couldn’t be found, couldn’t be bought, couldn’t be acquired, and his instincts were telling him that the Greywaren was not a piece that was going to come quickly.”

Joseph Kavinsky is a fellow student with a horrible attitude problem. He loves to push Ronan’s buttons and is constantly harassing Ronan and his crew, flaunting his money and drag racing his seemingly never-ending identical Mitsubishi cars. What is his problem? Why is he obsessed with Ronan?

My favorite character is Persephone…she was also my fav in the first book The Raven Boys. I would love to read more about her past, her childhood, her future. I think she’s fascinating.

I love the chapter length and flow from one chapter to the next. The character development is outstanding. I’m emotionally attached to many of the main characters, and if anything happens to them I WILL CRY. The pace is perfect, naturally speeding up as we go along, helping to build up to the climax. There were times I had to remind myself to breathe.

Let’s talk about prologues. Sometimes prologues are great, and necessary. Sometimes prologues are not necessary. I feel like the prologue in The Dream Thieves falls into the second group. It didn’t supply anything important that the reader needed to know upfront. It could have easily been included within the story and not have interrupted the flow.

There are some scenes, and even characters, in this story which could have been completely left out. I won’t name anything in particular – Spoilers – just throwing it out there to explain why I didn’t give this read five stars.

For me The Dream Thieves is almost the perfect YA novel. It’s so very, very, very close. I’m looking forward to reading the third book Blue Lily, Lily Blue.

My Rating 4.5/5

 

 

About the Author

Maggie Stiefvater

Maggie Stiefvater (Goodreads Photo)

“New York Times bestselling author of The Shiver Trilogy, The Raven Cycle, and The Scorpio Races. Artist. Driver of things with wheels. Avid reader.

All of Maggie Stiefvater’s life decisions have been based around her inability to be gainfully employed. Talking to yourself, staring into space, and coming to work in your pajamas are frowned upon when you’re a waitress, calligraphy instructor, or technical editor (all of which she’s tried), but are highly prized traits in novelists and artists. She’s made her living as one or the other since she was 22. She now lives an eccentric life in the middle of nowhere, Virginia with her charmingly straight-laced husband, two kids, two neurotic dogs, and a 1973 Camaro named Loki.”

 

Check out the Author’s Website