Cannonball Read IV

A bunch of Pajibans reading and reviewing and honoring AlabamaPink.

Archive for the tag “book reviews”

Katie’s #CBR4 Review #52: Soulless by Gail Carriger

Title: Soulless
Author: Gail Carriger
Source: library
Rating: ★★★★★
Review Summary: It was everything I hoped for – awesome integration of a steampunk society with supernatural elements plus hilarious characters.

“First, she has no soul. Second, she’s a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette.” Alexia is afflicted with these and a variety of other social stigmas which she bravely soldiers through, all while dealing with suspicion that she is responsible for recent vampire disappearances. She handles even the most uncouth behavior with remarkable poise, a sharp wit, and a bxcziting sense of humor. And somehow, in the midst of it all, she manages to begin a startlingly wonderful romance.

Read more on Doing Dewey.

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Katie’s #CBR4 Review #51: Poison Study by Maria Snyder

Title: Poison Study
Author: Maria V Snyder
Source: library
Rating: ★★★★☆
Review Summary: Complex but easy-to-follow plots, believable characters, and an impressive protagonist – very well done!

This book has so many exciting twists and turns, that I’m checking the standard description to make sure I don’t give anything away! We start when Yelena, about to be executed for murder, is instead offered the position of royal food taster. The catch is that she’s intentionally fed a poison that will kill her unless she shows up every day for the antidote. Although to an extent this attaches her loyalty to the king, Yelena is put into a variety of situations where she has to decide where her loyalty truly lies. And just for an extra challenge, Yelena starts to develop magical powers, the possession of which is punishable by death.

Read more on Doing Dewey.

 

Katie’s #CBR4 Review #48: Breakthrough Creativity by Lynne Levesque

Title: Breakthrough Creatvitiy: Achieving Top Performance Using the Eight Creative Talents
Author: Lynne Levesque
Source: library
Fun Fact: The author has a PhD in creativity.
Rating: ★★★★★
Review Summary: Helpful, practical, optimistic guide with something for anyone who wants to be more creative.

There’s just something about lists of “the top 10 ways to…” or “the seven easy habits for…” that seems a little bit gimmicky to me. For that reason, I had much lower expectations of this book than of the more academic creativity book I reviewed earlier this week. Boy were my expectations backwards. The other book was interesting, but I was sorely disappointed by it’s lack of useful advice. By contrast, this book was nothing but useful advice.

Read more on Doing Dewey.

Katie’s #CBR4 Review #47: Beautiful Lies by Clare Clark

Title: Beautiful Lies
Author: Clare Clark
Source: from publisher for a TLC Book Tour
Rating: ★★★★★
Review Summary: I loved this book: the mystery, the beautiful descriptions, the protagonist’s insightful thoughts about art, and  most of all the writing style which made me feel like this book could have been written in the early 1900′s.

In Victorian London, scandal can so easily ruin your life. And Mirabel and her husband have a very big secret to hide! Dealing with a creepy newpaper reporter’s sudden interest in Mirabel and her abandoned family’s sudden reappearance in her life, Mirabel is an awesome, independent, heroine who refuses to conform to societal norms. She’s also an artist, with an artist’s fascinating observations on life and the meaning of art.

Read more on Doing Dewey.

Katie’s #CBR4 Review #46: Smart World by Richard Ogle

Title: Smart World: Breakthrough Creativity and the New Science of Ideas
Author: Richard Ogle
Source: library
Fun Fact: Barbie was based on a doll of the main character in a smutty german cartoon which sold mainly in smoke shops.
Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Review Summary: Very abstract, academic approach to the topic of creativity with a  few thought provoking insights but little practical advice.

Have you ever wished you were more creative? I certainly have and not just because it would be awesome if I could draw. As a grad student, one of the most challenging aspects of research is being able to come up with creative new ways to solve problem. As in many fields, that makes creativity not just a hobby, but a career promoting skill. This book is a synthesis of the latest research related to creativity, particularly major breakthroughs and works of artistic genius.

Read more at Doing Dewey.

Katie’s #CBR4 Review #45: Wings by Tom Crouch

Title: Wings: A History of Aviation from Kites to the Space Age
Author: Tom Crouch
Source: library
Fun Fact: Early planes were catapulted into the air because they couldn’t achieve the speed necessary to leave the ground under their own power.
Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Review Summary: Lots of fun facts and interesting material, but the presentation was rarely fun or interesting. Not really narrative non-fiction, although advertised as such.

If you ever had a question about the history of flight, this book has the answer. Spanning the entire twentieth century and then some, Wings also crosses the globe, covering major advancements made by all nations without being too US-centric. Black and white pictures and quotes by early observers capture the awe inspiring first years of flight. When I finished, I had an excessive list of fun facts I wanted to share with you. I picked the one I did because I simply can’t imagine being launched into the air in the flimsy, uncontrollable, open-cock pits of the first planes!

Read more on Doing Dewey.

Katie’s #CBR4 Review #43: The Virtues of War

Title: The Virtues of War: A Novel of Alexander the Great
Author: Steven Pressfield
Read for: Ancient and Medieval Historical Fiction
Source: library
Rating: ★★★★☆
Review Summary: Immersive story which will draw you into Alexander’s era and into some very cool speculation on his personality, based on historical accounts.

The Virtues of War is the perfect mix of fact and fiction to make a good book. The author clearly did his research and uses accurate details to form a fascinating picture of life around 320BC.  However, as he states in the introduction, he’s also able to take liberties with the facts and put battles and speeches in the order which makes the best narrative. Best of all, the book is told as though Alexander is speaking to a nephew, leading to what I think are some of the major strengths of this book.

Read more on Doing Dewey.

HelloKatieO’s #CBR4 Review #47: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl ended up being one of the hot books of the summer. I couldn’t go anywhere without seeing the book cover, or reading a blog entry about it. After reading that Reese Witherspoon had signed on to star and produce in the adaptation, and seeing that Jezebel chose it as their inaugural book club selection, I decided to take the plunge.

The book starts out with a ripped-from-the-headlines plot: wife goes missing, world suspects husband. The book is sort of told in three pieces. His side of the story, her side of the story, and the ending as it unfolds. This isn’t quite a traditional mystery, it’s a psychological thriller.

And it’s creepy. Every 50 pages, I thought I’d figured out who did it. The husband. His mistress. She’s faking it. Her creepy best friend from high school. And then 50 pages later, I would be so thrown by the sheer force of both the husband and the wife’s masterful manipulation that I’d be lost again.

More…

Katie’s #CBR4 Review #41: The Book of Tomorrow by Cecelia Ahern

Title: The Book of Tomorrow
Author: Cecelia Ahern
Source: from publisher for a TLC Book Tour
Rating: ★★★★☆
Review Summary: 

Here’s the plot as I knew it going into the story: Tamara’s dad dies, her mother withdraws deeply into her grief, and the previously wealthy mother and daughter most go live with poor relations to get by. While struggling to fit into her new life, Tamara finds a book, which every night reveals the events which will happen the next day.

Based on the description, I was nervous that this book would be very emotional, bordering on too angsty or too sad for me to enjoy. I’m not sure what drew me to read it any way, perhaps the intriguing premise and cover picture, but whatever it was, my instincts were good. Although there were certainly emotional and thought-provoking elements to the story, the story felt most like a really good mystery to me.

Read more at Doing Dewey.

Katie’s #CBR4 Review #40: Six Wives by David Starkey

Title: Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII
Author: David Starkey
Source: library
Fun Fact: The fates of Henry VIII’s wives were the following: divorced, beheaded, died in child birth, divorced, beheaded, and out-lived him (but probably would otherwise have been beheaded).
Rating: ★★★★★
Review Summary: Clear, well written, engaging without being overly dramatic, obviously well researched, and a lot of fun to read.

This book was really everything I look for in a non-fiction book about history. It was so engagingly written that it could have been non-fiction, but sources were all cited and deviations from accepted wisdom among Henry VIII scholars were mentioned. The story was presented chronologically, with a few, well integrated digressions to give us the history of each of Henry’s wives. Chapters were short and the introduction of new characters was kept to a minimum, creating a very lucid narrative. New characters were always given context, both in the writing and by some great family trees, and we were often reminded who recurring characters were. This made the massive amounts of information in this 880 page book fairly manageable.

Read more at Doing Dewey.

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