07 January 2019

Books - December 2018

I finished SEVEN books in December (and most of another one, but it will be on January's list since I finsihed it around 2am on January 1 ;) ). I do love a good break from work and other obligations. Here's the Amazon summary of each book I read, plus a few words of what I thought of each one.

The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner was one of the books I read for our middle school Battle of the Books. It was a pleasant enough read. Not my favorite of the seven battle books, but not the worst either. I especially liked the ending, where we found out that some of the characters weren't who they appeared to be.
Eugenides, the queen’s thief, can steal anything—or so he says. When his boasting lands him in prison and the king’s magus invites him on a quest to steal a legendary object, he’s in no position to refuse. The magus thinks he has the right tool for the job, but Gen has plans of his own. The Queen’s Thief novels have been praised by writers, critics, reviewers, and fans, and have been honored with glowing reviews, “best of” citations, and numerous awards, including the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, a Newbery Honor, the Andre Norton Award shortlist, and the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award. Discover and rediscover the stand-alone companions, The Queen of AttoliaThe King of Attolia, and A Conspiracy of Kings, all epic novels set in the world of the Queen’s Thief.

The Things We Don't Say by Ella Carey was found on my Kindle. It was probably an Amazon Prime book in the last year or so. It was a pleasant enough read last month, but I just vaguely remember it now. By the end, there was a huge drama revealed about a couple sets of parents now telling their kids some things they didn't think they should know. Lesson learned: Children, especially as they grow into adulthood, need to know truths, even the painful ones.

Nearly sixty years ago, renowned London artist Patrick Adams painted his most famous work: a portrait of his beloved Emma Temple, a fellow bohemian with whom he shared his life. Years after Patrick’s death, ninety-year-old Emma still has the painting hanging over her bed at their country home as a testament to their love.
To Emma’s granddaughter, Laura, the portrait is also a symbol of so much to come. The masterpiece is serving as collateral to pay Laura’s tuition at a prestigious music school. Then the impossible happens when an appraiser claims the painting is a fraud. For Laura, the accusation jeopardizes her future. For Emma, it casts doubt on everything she believed about her relationship with Patrick. Laura is determined to prove that Patrick did indeed paint the portrait. Both her grandmother’s and Patrick’s legacies are worth fighting for.
As the stories of two women entwine, it’s time for Emma to summon up the past—even at the risk of revealing its unspoken secrets.

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson was another book read for the Battle of the Books. In all fairness, I never would have picked it on my own. It's a graphic novel, and I'm an old lady who calls those 'comic books.' One of the battle team members was asking a question about the book today, and I couldn't recognize the character in the picture. See, I remember WORDS more than illustrations. I'm grateful that each battle usually has only one graphic novel.

Nemeses! Dragons! Science! Symbolism! All these and more await in this brilliantly subversive, sharply irreverent epic from Noelle Stevenson. Featuring an exclusive epilogue not seen in the web comic, along with bonus conceptual sketches and revised pages throughout, this gorgeous full-color graphic novel has been hailed by critics and fans alike as the arrival of a “superstar” talent (NPR.org).
Nimona is an impulsive young shapeshifter with a knack for villainy. Lord Ballister Blackheart is a villain with a vendetta. As sidekick and supervillain, Nimona and Lord Blackheart are about to wreak some serious havoc. Their mission: prove to the kingdom that Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin and his buddies at the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics aren't the heroes everyone thinks they are.
But as small acts of mischief escalate into a vicious battle, Lord Blackheart realizes that Nimona's powers are as murky and mysterious as her past. And her unpredictable wild side might be more dangerous than he is willing to admit.

The Secret Healer by Ellin Carsta was another book I found on my Kindle. This engaging book was about a girl training with the local midwife, who learned she had gifts that helped to calm those suffering and receiving treatment from the midwife. When a local scandal gets turned around and an abusive man tries to get the young healer to take the fall for his crimes, she goes on the run and soon establishes a happy and successful new life. What could go wrong?? This is the first book in a series, and I'd love to read more with these characters.
In the fourteenth century, opportunities for women are limited to the home. But spirited young Madlen finds her calling as assistant to the city’s trusted midwife, Clara. Working alongside Clara, Madlen develops a surprisingly soothing technique and quickly becomes a talented healer.
After Clara’s tragic death, Madlen alone rushes to assist the birth of a local nobleman’s child. But rather than the joy of birth, Madlen walks into an accusation of murder and witchcraft because of her extraordinary gifts. Forced to flee her own town, she establishes a new identity in the home of her aunt. Yet even though it endangers her life, she cannot resist the urge to help the sick patients who seek out her miraculous treatment. When she meets handsome Johannes—an investigator hired by the Church to bring her to justice for sacrilegious acts—she becomes drawn to the very man who could destroy her. 

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson was a beautiful poetry book for the Battle of the Books. I started out not liking this one as much as I did by the end. Her poetry finally got to my soul, and I loved how she told the story of her life in verse.
Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a glimpse into a child’s soul as she searches for her place in the world. Woodson’s eloquent poetry also reflects the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, despite the fact that she struggled with reading as a child. Her love of stories inspired her and stayed with her, creating the first sparks of the gifted writer she was to become.

The Designer by Marius Gabriel was another book I found on my Kindle (sensing a trend here since I didn't have any books to review last month? LOL). Probably another Amazon Prime book, but the Amazon page shows this one was released in October 2017. I'm way behind! Anyway, I digress.
Apparently, I really like WWII books - this one reminded me a lot of the Beautiful Exiles story of Martha Gellhorn that I read in November 2018. In The Designer, a woman married to a press member in Paris decides to leave her rotten husband and strike out on her own, with the friends she has made in Paris. When your closest friend is Christian Dior, it makes for an interesting story. And she becomes a fashion writer. I liked it and enjoyed immersing myself in that time/culture again.

In 1944, newly married Copper Reilly arrives in Paris soon after the liberation. While the city celebrates its freedom, she’s stuck in the prison of an unhappy marriage. When her husband commits one betrayal too many, Copper demands a separation.
Alone in Paris, she finds an unlikely new friend: an obscure, middle-aged designer from the back rooms of a decaying fashion house whose timid nature and reluctance for fame clash with the bold brilliance of his designs. His name is Christian Dior.
Realising his genius, Copper urges Dior to strike out on his own, helping to pull him away from his insecurities and towards stardom. With just a camera and a typewriter, she takes her own advice and ventures into the wild and colourful world of fashion journalism.
Soon Copper finds herself torn between two very different suitors, questioning who she is and what she truly wants. As the city rebuilds and opulence returns, can Copper make a new, love-filled life for herself?

Wild Man Island by Will Hobbs was another Battle book. I enjoyed this book more than I expected to, especially with what I considered a bit of a surprise at the ending. I picked it up just expecting a short read - good or bad, just getting it done. I was soon interested in finding out the rest of Andy Galloway's castaway story. While this was not a true story, it read like it could have been, thanks to the author's extensive experiences kayaking in the area.
On the last day of a sea kayaking trip in southeast Alaska, fourteen-year-old Andy Galloway paddles away from his group to visit the nearby site where his archaeologist father died trying to solve the mystery of the first Americans. A sudden, violent storm blows Andy's kayak off course and washes him ashore on Admiralty Island, an immense wilderness known as the Fortress of the Bears. Struggling to survive, Andy encounters a dog running with wolves and then a man toting a stone-tipped spear. The wild man vanishes into the forest, but the dog reappears and leads Andy to a cave filled with Stone Age tools and weapons. Running for his life, Andy retreats deep into the cave, where danger, suspense, and discovery await.

Woo-hoo! Seven books! And I'm on track to read at least as many in January, but that pesky job thing started again today. What have your favorite reads been lately?


siteseer said...

My last book of the year was A Blood Thing by James Hawkins and my first of the year was Secrets She Left Behind by Diane Chamberlain. Both of these books were real page turners. I have more Diane Chamberlain at home, wish I’d brought them along.

Liz Parker said...

Wow! That's a lot. I used to read about 1-2 a week but I've forsaken them in favor of TV and movies, lol. I'm currently (still) reading Bird Box ...

GeekDad248 said...

My New Year Resolution is to read more books as a leisurely activity in 2019. I've started with STEVE JOBS: A BIOGRAPHICAL PORTRAIT and have found it to be an interesting read that delves into his being one of history's great innovators. NIMONA peeked my interest the most of the books you referenced. Will consider it for my reading list.