Saturday, June 30, 2018

Memoir and Biography - Adult

I haven't read many, but I'm trying to foray into this genre as much as I can!  Listening to an author read their own life IS pretty cool....

Jennings, JazzBeing Jazz, written and read by the author, 2016
Musser, Rebecca - The Witness Wore Red: The 19th Wife Who Brought Polygamous Cult Leaders to Justice, written with help from M. Bridget Cook, read by Musser (which I didn't enjoy) 2013
Shapiro, DaniInheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love, read by the author, 2019 (4)
Westover, TaraEducated: A Memoir, read by Julian Whelan (NOT the author) 2018 (4.5)

58. Looking Glass by Andrew Mayne

# 2 Dr. Theo Cray
Listened on Audible
2018, Thomas & Mercer
312 pgs.
Adult Mystery
Finished 6/30/2018
Goodreads rating:  4.36 - 4196 ratings
My rating: 4
Setting: Contemporary LA & Atlanta

First line/s:  "I'm playing a video game in which someone could actually get killed."

My comments:  Andrew Mayne thrusts you into the mind of a scientist, and reading these books are more than just solving mysteries.  You learn and hear a lot about science and technology that is perhaps "over your head," and a bit unbelievable (some may actually be so!), but entirely interesting and almost-believable.  And Dr. Cray is a really likable oddball.

Goodreads synopsis: Professor Theo Cray caught one of the most prolific serial killers in history using revolutionary scientific methods. Cut off from university research because of the shroud of suspicion around him after the death of his former student and the aftermath of catching his quarry, Cray tries to rebuild his life but finds himself drawn into another unsolved case.
       The desperate father of a missing child, ignored by the authorities and abandoned by his community, turns to Theo for help. The only clues are children’s drawings and an inner-city urban legend about someone called the Toy Man.
       To unravel the mystery behind the Toy Man, Theo must set aside his scientific preconceptions and embrace a world where dreams and nightmares carry just as much weight as reality. As he becomes immersed in the case, he discovers a far-reaching conspiracy—one that hasn’t yet claimed its last victim.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

57. The Book of M by Peng Shepherd

listened on Audible
20158 William M0rrow
426 pgs.  (17:06)
Adult Dystopian Mystery
Finished 6/27/18
Goodreads rating:  4.11 - 503 ratings
My rating:  3
Setting:  Dystopian Washington DC to New Orleans, LA (with a short foray to India)

First line/s:  "The end of Ory's world began with a deer."

My comments:  This was a long, endless, DEPRESSING story told from the point of view of four different people.  For quite a while I couldn't help but compare it to The Fifth Wave, with shades of Station Eleven, until it went in its own direction.  So depressing, it's going to take me awhile to climb back out of the hole it put me into.  I did work well as an audio book.

Goodreads synopsis: Set in a dangerous near future world, The Book of M tells the captivating story of a group of ordinary people caught in an extraordinary catastrophe who risk everything to save the ones they love. It is a sweeping debut that illuminates the power that memories have not only on the heart, but on the world itself.
          One afternoon at an outdoor market in India, a man’s shadow disappears—an occurrence science cannot explain. He is only the first. The phenomenon spreads like a plague, and while those afflicted gain a strange new power, it comes at a horrible price: the loss of all their memories.
          Ory and his wife Max have escaped the Forgetting so far by hiding in an abandoned hotel deep in the woods. Their new life feels almost normal, until one day Max’s shadow disappears too.
          Knowing that the more she forgets, the more dangerous she will become to Ory, Max runs away. But Ory refuses to give up the time they have left together. Desperate to find Max before her memory disappears completely, he follows her trail across a perilous, unrecognizable world, braving the threat of roaming bandits, the call to a new war being waged on the ruins of the capital, and the rise of a sinister cult that worships the shadowless.
          As they journey, each searches for answers: for Ory, about love, about survival, about hope; and for Max, about a new force growing in the south that may hold the cure.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

MOVIE - First Reformed

R (1:48)
Limited release May 18, 2018
Viewed Thursday evening, June 21, 2018 with Sandy at Carlisle Theater
IMBd:  7.7/10
RT Critic: 96   Audience:  70
Critic's Consensus:  Brought to life by delicate work from writer-director Paul Schrader and elevated by a standout performance by Ethan Hawke, First Reformed takes a sensitive and suspenseful look at weighty themes.
Cag:  How do you rate a movie like this?  Yes, I liked it....
Directed by  Paul Schrader
Studio A24

Ethan Hawke, Amanda Seyfried, 

My comments:  Holy shit, what did I just watch  What happens when you combine loneliness, despair, environmental issues, alcohol and religion? (and barbed wire, Drano, magical mystery tours, and holy roller, born again music...)  Well, watch this movie and you'll find out!  AND, what an ending!

RT/ IMDb Summary:  Reverend Ernst Toller (Ethan Hawke) is a solitary, middle-aged parish pastor at a small Dutch Reform church in upstate New York on the cusp of celebrating its 250th anniversary. Once a stop on the Underground Railroad, the church is now a tourist attraction catering to a dwindling congregation, eclipsed by its nearby parent church, Abundant Life, with its state-of-the-art facilities and 5,000-strong flock. When a pregnant parishioner (Amanda Seyfried) asks Reverend Toller to counsel her husband, a radical environmentalist, the clergyman finds himself plunged into his own tormented past, and equally despairing future, until he finds redemption in an act of grandiose violence. From writer-director Paul Schrader (Taxi Driver; American Gigolo; Affliction) comes a gripping thriller about a crisis of faith that is at once personal, political, and planetary.

56. Last Equation of Isaac Severy by Nora Jacobs

read on my iPhone
2018, Touchstone
337 pgs.
Adult mystery
Finished 6/21/18
Goodreads rating:  3.63 - 3205 ratings
My rating:  3.5
Setting: Contemporary LA

First line/s:   "On the morning he was to die, the old man woke early and set about making breakfast."

My comments:  An in-depth look at one screwed up family, The Last Equation of Isaac Severy comes at you from many directions.  Told distinctly from two different points of view and less distinctly from one or two others; mystery, reality of a gritty world, and some scientific/fantastic mathematics combine to make quite an interesting tale.

Goodreads synopsis: The Family Fang meets The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry in this literary mystery about a struggling bookseller whose recently deceased grandfather, a famed mathematician, left behind a dangerous equation for her to track down—and protect—before others can get their hands on it.
          Just days after mathematician and family patriarch Isaac Severy dies of an apparent suicide, his adopted granddaughter Hazel, owner of a struggling Seattle bookstore, receives a letter from him by mail. In it, Isaac alludes to a secretive organization that is after his final bombshell equation, and he charges Hazel with safely delivering it to a trusted colleague. But first, she must find where the equation is hidden.
          While in Los Angeles for Isaac’s funeral, Hazel realizes she’s not the only one searching for his life’s work, and that the equation’s implications have potentially disastrous consequences for the extended Severy family, a group of dysfunctional geniuses unmoored by the sudden death of their patriarch.
          As agents of an enigmatic company shadow Isaac’s favorite son—a theoretical physicist—and a long-lost cousin mysteriously reappears in Los Angeles, the equation slips further from Hazel’s grasp. She must unravel a series of maddening clues hidden by Isaac inside one of her favorite novels, drawing her ever closer to his mathematical treasure. But when her efforts fall short, she is forced to enlist the help of those with questionable motives.

MOVIE - Disobedience

R (1:54)
Limited release 4/27/2018
Viewed Thursday, June 21, 2018 at Majestic in Gettysburg
IMBd:  6.8/10
T Critic:  84  Audience: 80
Critic's Consensus:  Disobedience explores a variety of thought-provoking themes, bolstered by gripping work from leads Rachel Weisz, Rachel McAdams, and Alessandro Nivola.
Cag: 5 It was really wonderful
Directed by Sebastian Lelio
Bleecker Street

Rachel Weisz, Rachel McAdams, Alessandro Nivola

My comments:  Another powerful movie with exceptional performances.  Whoa, being gay in an Orthodox Jewish community!  Totally impossible, "Disobedience" showed a depth of humanity and love in the Orthodox Jewish community which, as much as I'd love to believe might happen, truly can't imagine that it would.  For most of the movie you get "typical" reactions from people.  Yes, my heart broke for a young woman of faith who was definitely not heterosexual, choosing to follow the beliefs she was raised with and marry a man she did care about but was not attracted to.  My heart broke even more for her husband, who ended up being an incredibly honest, loving, spiritual man.  The kind of spiritual leader that I could definitely believe in myself, and would help to heal our world.  Oh yes, I shed some tears, and I walked out of the theater thinking, "what could possible be the next step in a story like this one?"  Well done, well done.

RT/ IMDb Summary:  From SebastiĆ”n Lelio, the director of the Academy Award-winning A Fantastic Woman, the film follows a woman as she returns to the community that shunned her decades earlier for an attraction to a childhood friend. Once back, their passions reignite as they explore the boundaries of faith and sexuality. Written by Lelio and Rebecca Lenkiewicz and based on Naomi Alderman's book, the film stars Rachel Weisz, Rachel McAdams and Alessandro Nivola.

Poetry Picture Book- Shaking Things Up by Susan Hood

14 Young Women Who Changed the World
2018, Harper
40pgs.
Children's Poetry and AMERICAN HISTORY, Biography
Read June 21, 2018
Goodreads rating:  4.53 - 277 ratings
My rating:  5
Endpapers:  Aqua


14 Women:  The Contents including Poem title follow:

Molly Williams, First Known Female Firefighter in the United States, (1747 – 1821)
                “Taking the Heat”
Mary Anning, Paleontologist, (1799 – 1847)
                “Buried Treasure” CONCRETE POETRY
Nellie Bly, Investigative Journalist, (1864 – 1922)
                “Woman of the World”
Annette Kellerman, Champion Athlete and Inventor of the Modern Swimsuit, (1886 – 1975)
                “Turning the Tide”
Pura Belpre, Children’s Author and First Latina Librarian at the New York Public Library, (1899 – 1982)
                “The Storyteller” ACROSTIC
Frida Kahlo, Artist, (1907 – 1954)
                “Broken”
Jacqueline Nearne, Undercover Operative (1916 – 1982) and Eileen Nearne, Wireless Operator (1921 – 2010)
                “Secret Agent Sisters”
Frances Moore, Lappe, Anti-Hunger Activist, (1944 –
                “Full Circle”
Ruby Bridges, Civil Rights Pioneer (1954 –
                “A New School”
Mae Johnson, First Female African American Astronaut (1956 –
                “Lift-Off”
Maya Lin, Architect and Sculptor (1959 –
                “A New Vision”
Angela Zhang, Scientist and Cancer Researcher (1994 –
                “Break It Down”
Malala Yousafzai, Youngest Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize (1997 –
                “Books, Not Bullets”

Author’s Note

Further Resources for each woman



My comments:  Not only are the poems relevant and interesting, they're really GOOD, really well written and great models of superb poetry for kids.

Goodreads synopsis: "Well-behaved women seldom make history." Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian
          Fresh, accessible, and inspiring, Shaking Things Up introduces fourteen revolutionary young women—each paired with a noteworthy female artist—to the next generation of activists, trail-blazers, and rabble-rousers. From the award-winning author of Ada’s Violin, Susan Hood, this is a poetic and visual picture book that celebrates persistent women throughout history. 
          Among the powerful pairings: Caldecott Medalist Sophie Blackall takes on heroic World War II spies Eileen and Jacqueline Nearne; Selina Alko is matched with the brave Malala Yousafzai; New York Times bestselling illustrator Emily Winfield Martin is paired with the inventor of the controversial one-piece bathing suit, Annette Kellerman; and Shadra Strickland introduces America’s first known female firefighter, Molly Williams.
          While women make up over half of the U.S. population, they face discrimination, have less representation in government and other fields, and struggle every day for their human rights. It is more important now than ever to raise a generation of girls who, in the face of adversity, persevere. This book was written, illustrated, edited, and designed by women.
          Includes a foreword by a prominent female activist, an author’s note, a timeline, and additional resources.    
          This book features: Selina Alko, Sophie Blackall, Lisa Brown, Hadley Hooper, Emily Winfield Martin, Oge Mora, Julie Morstad, Sara Palacios, LeUyen Pham, Erin Robinson, Isabel Roxas, Shadra Strickland, and Melissa Sweet.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

55. Invisible City by Julia Dahl

#1 Rebekah Roberts
listened on Audible
2014, Minotaur Books
304 pgs. (7:49)
Adult Murder Mystery
Finished 6/20/2018
Goodreads rating: 3.59 - 3476 ratings
My rating:  4
Setting: Contemporary NYC including Brooklyn Hasidic community

First line/s:  "I was in Chinatown when they called me about the body in Brooklyn."

My comments:  Okay, so I'm not a big murder-mystery-from-the-point-of-view-of -a-journalist fan, and this was the one drawback to this book.  I think it's horrible how some journalists harass people to get a story, and in many parts of this I was repelled by the way our protagonist, Rebikah, just knocked on doors and asked all sorts of people in uncomfortable situations for information.  That being said, this was a good mystery that she solved all by herself, mainly because it was not being pursued by the police.  I love reading books that take a peek inside the Hasidic Jewish community, and in that way this book certainly did not disappoint.  It gave me that peek, a good mystery, and a short read.

Goodreads synopsis: A finalist for the Edgar and Mary Higgins Clark Awards, in her riveting debut Invisible City, journalist Julia Dahl introduces a compelling new character in search of the truth about a murder and an understanding of her own heritage.
          Just months after Rebekah Roberts was born, her mother, an Hasidic Jew from Brooklyn, abandoned her Christian boyfriend and newborn baby to return to her religion. Neither Rebekah nor her father have heard from her since. Now a recent college graduate, Rebekah has moved to New York City to follow her dream of becoming a big-city reporter. But she's also drawn to the idea of being closer to her mother, who might still be living in the Hasidic community in Brooklyn.
          Then Rebekah is called to cover the story of a murdered Hasidic woman. Rebekah's shocked to learn that, because of the NYPD's habit of kowtowing to the powerful ultra-Orthodox community, not only will the woman be buried without an autopsy, her killer may get away with murder. Rebekah can't let the story end there. But getting to the truth won't be easy--even as she immerses herself in the cloistered world where her mother grew up, it's clear that she's not welcome, and everyone she meets has a secret to keep from an outsider.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

MOVIE - The Rider

R (1:44)
4/13/18 Limited release
Viewed Tuesday, 6/19/18 at The Majestic in Gettysburg
IMBd: 7.7/10
RT Critic:  97  Audience: 81
Critic's Consensus:   The Rider's hard-hitting drama is only made more effective through writer-director ChloĆ© Zhao's use of untrained actors to tell the movie's fact-based tale.
Cag:  6/Awesome  
Directed by Chloe Zhao
Sony Pictures Classics

Brady Jandreau, Lilly Jandreau, 

My comments:  The Rider was an amazing movie, and I didn't fully realize the extent of the meaningfulness of it until the credits rolled.  The actors were all the real people that apparently lived the story playing themselves.  Like a documentary told completely as a story. Incredibly depressing, heartfelt, and even upliftiing in its sadness.  The South Dakota plains.  Thelvies of young people that are raised around horses, raised to ride.  The harshness and reality of spial cord injuries and brain injuries.  The rodeo.  Horses.  I don't even like horses!  But I sure did like this movie.  Here is Roger Ebert's (actually Godfrey Cheshire's)vright-on, excellent review:  https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/the-rider-2018


RT/ IMDb Summary:  Based on his a true story, THE RIDER stars breakout Brady Jandreau as a once rising star of the rodeo circuit warned that his competition days are over after a tragic riding accident. Back home, Brady finds himself wondering what he has to live for when he can no longer do what gives him a sense of purpose: to ride and compete. In an attempt to regain control of his fate, Brady undertakes a search for new identity and tries to redefine his idea of what it means to be a man in the heartland of America.

Monday, June 18, 2018

54. Glory in Death by J. D. Robb

#2 Eve Dallas
listened on Audible
1995, Berkley Books
 296 pgs.
Mystery/Police Procedural/Fantasy (Futuristic Stuff)
Finished 6/18/18
Goodreads rating: 4.25 - 43,331 ratings
My rating:  2
Setting: NYC, 2058

My comments:  I definitely didn't enjoy this book as much as I did the first one.  I've been contemplating possible reasons while examining the criteria that I subconsciously apply to most of what I read.  Setting, character development, plot, interest level, and since this was an audio read, the voice, tempo, emphases, and so many other characteristics a reader brings to a book.  The plot was boring, the killer's actions at the end ridiculous....out-of-character.  But the way the protagonist was portrayed by this reader didn't match what I have - or want to have - in my head.  She gave Eve a particularly bitchy edge that just didn't sit right with me.  Also there was something about her voice -- it was too loud and screechy and just didn't seem to fit "my" character of Eve Dallas at all.  She had Rourke down okay with a fine Irish lilt, but....
     So when you have a lousy story that isn't read to your liking, the rating isn't going to be too high.  It was all I could do to finish.

Goodreads synopsis:  It is 2058, New York City. In a world where technology can reveal the darkest of secrets, there's only one place to hide a crime of passion-in the heart. 
          Even in the mid-twenty-first century, during a time when genetic testing usually weeds out any violent hereditary traits before they can take over, murder still happens. The first victim is found lying on a sidewalk in the rain. The second is murdered in her own apartment building. Police Lieutenant Eve Dallas has no problem finding connections between the two crimes. Both victims were beautiful and highly successful women. Their glamorous lives and loves were the talk of the city. And their intimate relations with men of great power and wealth provide Eve with a long list of suspects -- including her own lover, Roarke.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

MOVIE - Tag

R (1:40)
Wide release 6/15/18
Viewed 6/16/18
IMBd:  7/10
RT Critic:  56  Audience:  64
Critic's Consensus:  For audiences seeking a dose of high-concept yet undemanding action comedy, Tag might be close enough to it.
Cag:  3.5  Easy and fun entertainment
Directed by  Jeff Tomsic
Warner Brothers
Based on a true story

Jeremy Renner, Ed Helms, Jon Hamm

My comments:  This summer doesn't seem to have any good movies.  This one had fun actors and was actually based on a true story, but it was sort of slow moving and boring, believe it or not.  I was looking forward to the end.  Funny in places.  I'm glad I didn't have to pay to see it.  Loved seeing and hearing Jeremy Renner singing during the credits, that was the highlight of the movie!


RT/ IMDb Summary:  For one month every year, five highly competitive friends hit the ground running in a no-holds-barred game of tag they've been playing since the first grade--risking their necks, their jobs and their relationships to take each other down with the battle cry "You're It!" This year, the game coincides with the wedding of their only undefeated player, which should finally make him an easy target. But he knows they're coming... and he's ready. Based on a true story, "Tag" shows how far some guys will go to be the last man standing.

52. Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen by Jazz Jennings

listened to audio read by the author
2016 Crown Books/ Listening Library
272 pgs.
Memoir/Autobiography
Finished 6/16/2018
Goodreads rating:  3.9 - 2553 ratings
My rating:  3

First line/s:  "When did you first know?  I get asked a lot of questions about my life, and that's the one that comes up the most."

My comments:  This is an autobiography more than a memoir, I think. Not only does 15-year-old jazz Jennings write this, she reads it aloud as well, and a self-confident way that gives extra impetus into what she says. She is so positive, so upbeat, that I think this book would be extra special for any young person that’s transgender. I certainly enjoyed it. You can tell that it was written by a 15-year-old, and I enjoyed everything she talked about. However, the reason I say it’s more autobiography is because there is not enough “showing” for me. She tells about things that happened to her and she talks about the surface stuff involved with being transgender, but I just wanted to “see” what she was talking about in my head, and I couldn’t.  It was almost more like an outline - an interesting outline, to say the least, or even an essay.  I’m glad she wrote it and look forward to reading more about her as the years pass.

Goodreads synopsis: Jazz Jennings is one of the youngest and most prominent voices in the national discussion about gender identity. At the age of five, Jazz transitioned to life as a girl, with the support of her parents. A year later, her parents allowed her to share her incredible journey in her first Barbara Walters interview, aired at a time when the public was much less knowledgeable or accepting of the transgender community. This groundbreaking interview was followed over the years by other high-profile interviews, a documentary, the launch of her YouTube channel, a picture book, and her own reality TV series—I Am Jazz—making her one of the most recognizable activists for transgender teens, children, and adults.
          In her remarkable memoir, Jazz reflects on these very public experiences and how they have helped shape the mainstream attitude toward the transgender community. But it hasn’t all been easy. Jazz has faced many challenges, bullying, discrimination, and rejection, yet she perseveres as she educates others about her life as a transgender teen. Through it all, her family has been beside her on this journey, standing together against those who don't understand the true meaning of tolerance and unconditional love. Now Jazz must learn to navigate the physical, social, and emotional upheavals of adolescence—particularly high school—complicated by the unique challenges of being a transgender teen. Making the journey from girl to woman is never easy—especially when you began your life in a boy’s body.

53. Zeroes by Chuck Wendig

read on my iPhone
2015 Harper Voyager
432 pgs.
Contemporary mystery
Finished June 16, 2018
Goodreads rating:  3.62 - 3197 ratings
My rating:  3

First line/s:  "The train clacks on the tracks, rocking side to side."

My comments:  Creepily interesting
          Great characters. The story/plot either left out some information or took it for granted I understood some that I didn’t.  Since it was about hacking and disturbing government agents and agencies, probably both apply! The first and second halves of the book were very different – I much preferred the first half, and would have rated the book higher if it had continued in the same vein.

Goodreads synopsis:  Five hackers—an Anonymous-style rabble-rouser, an Arab Spring hacktivist, a black-hat hacker, an old-school cipherpunk, and an online troll—are detained by the U.S. government, forced to work as white-hat hackers for Uncle Sam in order to avoid federal prison. At a secret complex known only as "the Lodge," where they will spend the next year working as an elite cyber-espionage team, these misfits dub themselves "the Zeroes."
          But once the Zeroes begin to work, they uncover secrets that would make even the most dedicated conspiracy theorist's head spin. And soon they're not just trying to serve their time, they're also trying to perform the ultimate hack: burrowing deep into the U.S. government from the inside, and hoping they'll get out alive. Packed with electric wit and breakneck plot twists, Zer0es is an unforgettable thrill ride through the seedy underbelly of "progress."

Sunday, June 10, 2018

51. The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware

read on my iPhone
2018 Gallery/Scout Press
320 pgs.
Genre/Level
Finished  6/10/18
Goodreads rating:  4.01 - 3406 ratings
My rating:  2
Setting:Contemporary Brighton & Cornish coast, seems like "Gothic"...

First line/s:  "The magpies are back.  It's strange to think how much I used to hate them when I first came to the house.  I remember coming up the drive in the taxi from the station, seeing them lined up along the garden wall like that, preening their feathers."

My comments:  Such a disappointment......
          I was certain, as I began reading this book, that I would love it. How wrong I was. I found it boring, slow, and much too easy to figure out.  There was really no mystery, very few surprises, and cookie cutter characters. I’ve read so many great books lately, but this wasn’t one of them. Very disappointing, and it seems that I am among the minority – people are loving this for some reason, I’m not sure why.…

Goodreads synopsis:   
From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of In a Dark, Dark WoodThe Woman in Cabin 10, and The Lying Game comes Ruth Ware’s highly anticipated fourth novel.
          On a day that begins like any other, Hal receives a mysterious letter bequeathing her a substantial inheritance. She realizes very quickly that the letter was sent to the wrong person—but also that the cold-reading skills she’s honed as a tarot card reader might help her claim the money.
          Soon, Hal finds herself at the funeral of the deceased…where it dawns on her that there is something very, very wrong about this strange situation and the inheritance at the center of it.
          Full of spellbinding menace and told in Ruth Ware’s signature suspenseful style, this is an unputdownable thriller from the Agatha Christie of our time.

Friday, June 8, 2018

MOVIE - Ocean's 8

PG13 (1:50)
Wide release 6/8/18
Viewed June 8, 2018
RT Critic:  68  Audience:  45
Critic's Consensus:  Ocean's 8 isn't quite as smooth as its predecessors, but still has enough cast chemistry and flair to lift the price of a ticket from filmgoers up for an undemanding caper.
Cag:  4/Liked it a lot
Directed by Gary Ross
Warner Brothers Pictures

Sandra Bullock, Anne Hathaway, Cate Blanchette, Helen Bonham Carter

My comments:  This movie was a blast.  It was so much fun seeing popular actors appearing left and right AND it's a very clever heist story.  Yep, it was very Ocean's Eleveny, right down to the depiction of Sandra Bullock/Debbie Ocean being the sister of George Clooney/Donny Ocean, ...now, possibly, deceased....


RT/ IMDb Summary:  Upon her release from prison, Debbie, the estranged sister of legendary conman Danny Ocean, puts together a team of unstoppable crooks to pull of the heist of the century. Their goal is New York City's annual Met Gala, and a necklace worth in excess of 150 million dollars.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

50. Allusion by Andi Hyldahl

read on my iPhone
2017, CreateSpace Independent
365 pgs.
YA Mystery
Finished 6/7/18
Goodreads rating: 4.26 - 61 ratings
My rating:  3.5
Setting:  Contemporary Yachnats and Eugene, Oregon

First line/s: "A dusty maroon pickup approaches.  My pulse surges.  My timing is dead on.  I duck under the foliage and heft up my dad's ancient binoculars zooming in on two large hands gripping ten and two."

My comments:   Although quite implausible,  this is suspenseful mystery was great fun to read, especially as long as you took everything with a grain of salt and a little bit of eye-rolling…..great-looking-super-athlete-with-no-girlfriend-ha!-Tosh and gorgeous-never-been-kissed-even-though-she’s-eighteen-Lucy do make a great pair.....  And my less-than-five rating does NOT mean I couldn't put it down....because I couldn't!

Goodreads synopsis: Every year, an anonymous gift is left on eighteen-year-old Lucy’s porch. It’s the only gift she receives all year, and it’s exactly what she needs. This year’s gift exposes hidden clues, untangling the undisclosed fates of her parents. Along the way, she finds Toph, a college athlete who’s easy on the eyes and deems to be more useful than suspected. With the help of her best friend Art, a chemistry genius who resides at the nursing home where she’s employed, she delves into an impossible mission for truth, love, and freedom.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

49. Wild Bird by Wendelin Van Draanan

read on my iPhone
2017 Knopf
320 pgs.
YA CRF/Survival
Finished  June 6, 2018
Goodreads rating:  4.22 - 966 ratings
My rating: 5
Setting: Contemporary southern Utah desert

First line/s:  " 'Wren...'
     My name is floating around me.  Bounding on the clouds in my mind.
     'Wren, wake up Wren.....'
     Everything's cocoony.  Drifty.  The clouds are so soft."

My comments:  What a story!

I can’t decide what the best part of this book was, but I know I really enjoyed all its “layers,” the way it unfolded, how the past was revealed in bits and pieces.  And it was a truly believable story, both the bad stuff and the good stuff.  Setting and description – wonderful. Characterization – also wonderful, getting to know the protagonist and all the side characters was pitch perfect. Plot – mesmerizing.And as much as I would love to know exactly what happens next, I’m pretty sure it’s already accurately represented in my mind. There should be more books like this. And lastly, I’m really, really grateful that this book had a FEMALE protagonist.

Goodreads synopsis: 3:47 a.m. That's when they come for Wren Clemens. She's hustled out of her house and into a waiting car, then a plane, and then taken on a forced march into the desert. This is what happens to kids who've gone so far off the rails, their parents don't know what to do with them any more. This is wilderness therapy camp. 
          The Wren who arrives in the Utah desert is angry and bitter, and blaming everyone but herself. But angry can't put up a tent. And bitter won't start a fire. Wren's going to have to admit she needs help if she's going to survive.
          In her most incisive and insightful book yet, beloved author Wendelin Van Draanen's offers a remarkable portrait of a girl who too a wrong turn and got lost--but who may be able to find her way back again in the vast, harsh desert.
 

Sunday, June 3, 2018

48. Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

read on my iPhone
2016, Crown
342 pgs.
Adult SciFi
Finished 6/3/18
Goodreads rating:  4.1 - 126,999 ratings
My rating:  5
Setting:  Contemporary USA

First line/s:  "I love Thursday nights.  They have a feel to them that's outside of time.  It's our tradition, just the three of us -- family night."

My comments: I swallowed this whole, reading it in less than a day. It’s the second science-fiction I’ve read recently and I enjoyed it almost as much as the first. Couldn’t put it down. I don’t understand even the teeniest tiniest corner of quantum physics, and there is one place near the end that I still can’t quite wrap my mind around - but it doesn’t matter when it comes to the enjoyment of this thriller. It was really good.

Goodreads synopsis: “Are you happy with your life?” 
          Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious. 
          Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits. 
          Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.” 
          In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor, but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable. Something impossible.
          Is it this world or the other that’s the dream? And even if the home he remembers is real, how can Jason possibly make it back to the family he loves? The answers lie in a journey more wondrous and horrifying than anything he could’ve imagined—one that will force him to confront the darkest parts of himself even as he battles a terrifying, seemingly unbeatable foe.
          From the author of the bestselling Wayward Pines trilogy, Dark Matter is a brilliantly plotted tale that is at once sweeping and intimate, mind-bendingly strange and profoundly human—a relentlessly surprising science-fiction thriller about choices, paths not taken, and how far we’ll go to claim the lives we dream of.