Monday, December 22, 2014

Prayers For The Stolen


Ladydi Martinez was born in the mountains of Guerrero Mexico. It is a dangerous place to be a girl. The men all leave to find better opportunities leaving the women alone in the midst of a drug war. The mothers disguise their daughters as boys from a young age in hopes they will not be taken by the drug lords. When their gender can no longer be hidden, they are made as ugly as possible so the drug lords will not want them. Ladydi and her friends spend their time dreaming of the future. Little does she know what will befall her when a local murder implicates her friend.

This was a beautifully written book. Clement writes a moving coming of age story. You are drawn into the story, by the almost poetic feel of the writing. I think it is a story that will stay with you for a while. There are a lot of horrific things in this story, but the writing and the characters keep you turning the pages. I really liked how Clement wrote her characters. They really come alive, and the different personalities grab your attention and make you want to learn more about them.

I thought this was an interesting book to read, and it made me want to learn more about what is happening in Mexico with the drug cartels, human trafficking, and illegal immigrants. Clement does not shy away from the difficult issues that are occurring, and I think it is important to keep these issues fresh in our minds, so that we might try to find a solution to these horrific events.

I read this as an ebook on my Nook. I had no problems reading it in this format. I would recommend reading this book.

**I received a free copy of this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for an honest reveiew**

*Receiving a free copy of this book does not change my review. It simply provides me with a copy of a book that I would not have gotten to as soon, or heard about otherwise. 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Walking Dead Season 1

Rick Grimes is a police officer who is shot on duty. He wakes up from a coma and finds himself in the zombie apocalypse. The world has completely changed. Finding himself all alone in the hospital, and it seems the world, Rick begins the search for his family. He travels to Atlanta trying to find them. He must quickly adapt to this post apocalypse world if he hopes to survive.

The television show The Walking Dead is loosely based off the graphic novel series of the same name. The first season mainly corresponds to the first volume: Days Gone Bye and part of the second volume: Miles Behind Us of the graphic novel series. The show uses characters, plot lines, and the driving idea behind the series to create a show that fans of the series will appreciate, while making it work well as a television series.

The author of the graphic novels Robert Kirkman wanted to create a series that examined what would happen to people who found themselves in the zombie apocalypse. How would they behave? How would they live? How would they change from the person they used to be? Personally, I think the show does a better job with the gradual personality changes that a person would experience in this situation. We get to watch as each decision takes a toll on the characters, and how that changes who they are. I also like that the show added some new characters. It created a little more balance, and allows for some creativity in the show.

This is a series that I actually like the show better than the books. I like the idea behind the graphic novels, but do not always care for the execution. I think the show portrays the characters in a more believable way, and is more balanced in the way characters, specifically women, react in the zombie apocalypse. I mainly continue reading the graphic novels because I find it intriguing to see how the author shows certain events and how they might differ in the show. And I really like the idea Kirkman had to try to show how people would react in this scenario.

I think this show is an incredible adaptation of the graphic novel series. It stays true to the main ideas, but does not adhere so closely to the books that it would not work on television. I think this is an important balance that does not always happen in film adaptations. The acting from the main characters also adds a lot to the pleasure of watching this show. It feels believable which is essential in this type of show. You quickly become invested in the characters, which is dangerous, as you never know who will be the next to die.

If you are a fan of the graphic novel series or zombies, I highly recommend watching this show.

Saturday, December 20, 2014


Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood (Persepolis, #1-2)

This is Marjane Starapi's memoir about growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. It takes place in Tehran when she was age six to fourteen. She experienced the Shah's regime overthrown, the Islamic Revolution, and war with Iraq. These were all life changing events for her as a child of Marxists and as great-granddaughter to one of Iran's last emperors. Interspersed with these major events, are her daily life experiences.

I really liked this memoir. It is a powerful telling of one person's experience during great historical events. It is very personal look at her life. Even though we are mostly given the highlights or "big moments", I thought it came together in a moving story. There are tragic moments, but also humorous parts that make a very emotional story. I also thought it was excellently portrayed from a child's perspective. This can be hit or miss in books, but it was realistic, and made for an interesting view of historical events.

I liked that she used only black and white drawings in her graphic novel. I do like color and appreciate beautiful art in graphic novels, but I think the plain straightforward art really worked well with her story. It did not distract from the seriousness of her memoir, but rather leant to the impact of her words.

If you are interested in events in Iran or excellent graphic novels, I highly recommend reading this book.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Myths And Legends Of The British Isles

This collection includes myths and legends from the history of the British Isles. Ranging from stories that include Greek and Roman gods to stories from the Middle Ages, there are almost forty different classic tales that have a significant place in British history. The tales are divided into five sections: The Origins, The Early History Of Britain, Marvels and Magic, Heroes and Saints, and History and Romance.

I really enjoyed reading Barber's The Knight And Chivalry, so I put some of his other books on my to read list. I was delighted with this collections of myths, and immediately added it to My Favorite Books list. It has a wide variety of tales. There are some that not as many people will have heard of such as: The Giants of the Island of Albion, Helena and the True Cross, The Wild Hunt, and Hengist and Horsa. But it also has some classics such as: King Arthur, Cuchulain, Lady Godiva, Robin Hood, and Beowulf. I really liked this collection of myths and legends, and it is one I will add to my personal library.

I also appreciated that before each story Barber had a brief explanation about the myth. He includes information about where the myth comes from, if it has been abridged for this book, the translation, and why it is important. I found this very interesting to read, and that it enriched the reading experience. I thought that he included just enough information to make it interesting, but it did not take over the stories.

If you like reading different myths and legends, I would highly recommend reading this book.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Among The Hidden

Luke has never been able to leave his farm because he is a shadow child. The government limits the number of children a family can have to: two. After a series of devastating droughts that led to famine, the government decided that they had to control food production, manufacturing, and the population. Luke and his family live in fear of the Population Police discovering that Luke exists. With a housing development being built next to their farm, Luke is now confined to the house. One day, Luke sees a girl's face in a window where he knows two other children live. He risks meeting with her, and he must decide if he will join her cause to gain equal rights for shadow children.

I think this is an excellent series to introduce a young audience to the dystopian genre. It does not shy away from serious issues, and I am glad it does not. I think it is important for young readers to be exposed to serious thoughts as they are ready to process them. One of the reasons I like this book for young readers is the way it is written. Haddix writes so that different issues will be clearer or mean different things depending on your age. It allows a younger reader to be exposed to serious thoughts without being overwhelmed. It also lets other age groups enjoy the story.

This book is geared towards ages 8-12, and I think the length is perfect for that age group. It is long enough to develop the characters and plot, but not so long this age group would lose interest in the book. It is an interesting book, and what I have read of the rest of the series is good too. I would recommend reading this book.

This was the seventh book the Bookworms read together. I picked this book for us to read. I remember liking this book when I was younger, and I thought they would like it too. The main character is a boy, but there are girl characters as well, and I think it works well for boys and girls. It was great to return to this series. I really enjoyed our discussion of this book. Here are some of the Bookworms thoughts on the book. Warning: there may be spoilers:

Q&A With The Bookworms Book Club

How many stars out of 5 would you give this book?
Paige 5
Alejandro 5

Did you like reading Among The Hidden?
Alejandro Yes. It was really good and I want to read it again, but I think there must be a second book because it didn't feel complete.
Paige Yes, I like it.

What was your favorite part?
Paige I can't answer that because I can't pick just one thing.
Alejandro I like it when he found Jen. I also liked the beginning when they explained things. Also the part where they died because they wanted to be free.
Paige When they died was one of your favorite parts?
Alejandro I said I don't like that part because all the kids get shot. Is there a part you didn't like?
Paige When his brother said the Population Police were coming to get him and scared him. That was mean.

Where does the story take place?
Alejandro In a forest.
Paige In a house.
Both In the country, not really sure.
Alejandro it said they were only about 8 hours from the capital so I think it is close to D.C.
Whitney it actually never says where it takes place. What do you think of that?
Paige  It is a mystery! I like that because then you can imagine wherever you want it to be.
Alejandro I think that is cool, and a very good idea.

How do you think it would feel to hide all the time?
Paige Really sad. You couldn't see anyone like Luke couldn't see anyone but his mean brothers.
Whitney Why do you think they were so mean to him?
Paige They had a bad attitude because they had to to his chores because he can't go outside.
Whitney Would you feel angry if you had to do your brother's chores all the time?
Paige No. I would feel bad for him because he can't play outside or ride his bike.
Alejandro If I was Luke I would be jealous of my brothers because they could go outside and do things. If I was his brothers, I don't know how I would feel. Probably bad for him sometimes, but jealous because he never had to do chores.

What do you think of Jen's rally?
Alejandro I thought it might be scary because Luke was worried about her getting shot.
Paige I was also worried about her getting shot.

Why do you think she did it?
Paige To stand up for what's right.
Alejandro To stand up and show the government was not correct.

Would you go with her to the rally or stay behind?
Alejandro I would go to the rally. The government is not correct in the book. People deserve to have the choice about having children and how many.
Paige I think I would go to the rally because I would be standing up for what I believe in.

Would you follow the law or break it like Luke and Jen's parents?
Both Break it!

What did you think about the Barons having different rules then everybody else?
Alejandro That is not correct.
Paige That is not fair.
Whitney what would you do about that?
Paige I would go talk to the people in charge. I would speak for what's right.
Alejandro Tell them they can't do that. It isn't right.

Why do you think Jen's father helped Luke?
Alejandro Because he had a third child and didn't want the Population Police to find him.
Paige Because he knew he was Jen's friend and he wanted to do the right thing. He wanted things to change.

Why do you think the government made the Population law?
Alejandro Because they were afraid of running out of food. I thought it was a good point they could grow food indoors.
Paige It costs more to have more kids. I thought they should move food to places where they didn't have it.
Alejandro I would start growing plants indoors. Maybe find a way to grow things on the moon.
Paige How would you get there?
Alejandro I would take a jet to the moon.
Paige I don't think your parents would buy one.
Alejandro I would borrow one from NASA.
Paige I don't think NASA would lend it.

What would you believe, the books from the government or the computer sites of the rebel groups?
Paige I think you should ask a lot of questions of both groups.
Alejandro Hard to say. The computer is not always right.

Would you get a fake I.D. or hide?
Paige Fake I.D. I would want to see what the world actually looks like.
Alejandro Fake I.D. So I could escape.

What do you think about someone donating their child's identity when they died to a shadow child?
Alejandro I think it is nice because they want someone else to have life.
Paige I think it was nice to do that.

Would you read the other books in the series?
Paige I think I will read the next one.
Alejandro Oh yeah! Note: Alejandro has since gotten the next book from the library and started reading it.

Thank you Alejandro and Paige for reading and reviewing this book with me. I look forward to our next book together!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Mirror Sight

Karriagan G'ladheon, a member of the Green Riders that serve King Zachary of Sacoridia is on a vital mission for the kingdom. She and a small group have entered Blackveil forest. They were followed by a rebel group, who are trying to disrupt their mission. Their arch nemesis Mornhavon appears, and Karrigan finds herself in a magical confrontation with him. She ends up sealed in a sarcophagus during a magical explosion. When she emerges from the sarcophagus she finds everything has changed. She begins to question if she will ever return to the places and people she loves.

This was the fifth book, and the long anticipated sequel in the Green Rider series. I have been a fan of this series since the first book: Green Rider came out, so I was very excited to get my hands on this book. That excitement did not last long. I ended up feeling very confused about this book. It felt like it was a completely different story that also had Karrigan G'ladheon as the main character. It was very out of place in the series, and left me wondering why it was written as part of this series if it was not going to move the plot along or really use the characters and world from that series.

To be fair, it was a well written book. It just did not work as part of the Green Rider series. I think it should have been written as a stand alone book using different characters, and not as part of this series. It almost seemed like the author wanted to write some historical fiction combined with steampunk instead of continuing with this fantasy series.

I was disappointed in this book. This is a series I love to read, and I always wait in great anticipation for the next book in the series. If there is another book, I will be reluctant to read it. It felt like the author was loosing some of the passion for the story. I may be wrong about that, but it was not up to the standard of the rest of the books in the series. I am glad I got it from the library instead of buying it right away like I typically do with the Green Rider books.

If you are a fan of the series you will probably want to read it, but it is not as good as the rest of the books.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Innocent Traitor

Lady Jane Grey is only a few people away from the throne. She is a cousin of the Tudors, and spends her youth studying with her cousins Edward and Elizabeth. Her parents are very ambitious for her. They ensure her education is one worthy of a queen, hoping to marry her to Edward, and have her be the future Queen of England. Although this is their main goal, they are adaptable, and will do anything to get their daughter on the throne.

I was delighted when I found out about this book. I enjoy a lot of Alison Weir's books, but had never read any of her historical fiction before. I have since read all of her historical fiction that is currently available, and this one is my favorite. I really liked reading about Jane's life. It was tragically short, as she was caught up in a struggle for the throne. Her reign only lasted for nine days. I think Jane is an intriguing historical figure, and I thought this was a good story about her life.

I really liked how Weir wrote the relationships in Jane's life. They are complicated and vary person to person, just as you would expect them to. They really help explain who Jane is, and I thought the way the relationships were written added a lot of depth to Jane's story. The plot was fascinating. I knew how it would end for Jane, but I still found myself caught up in her story. To me, this is one of the signs of good writing.

I really appreciated how Weir included notes about where she deviates from historical record, or was just a little liberal with the facts. This is something I always look for in historical fiction, and too often I am disappointed. I like the honesty. I know it is fiction, so I expect to find some deviation or imagination, but I care about accuracy. I am more likely to like a historical fiction that tells me where it deviates.

If you are interested in the Tudors or this time period, I highly recommend reading this book.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

John Adams Movie Version

This mini-series depicts the life of John Adams beginning with the events of the Boston Massacre and goes until his death in 1826. It includes the major events of the American revolution, his time abroad as ambassador, and his work as Vice President and President of the United States. It shows his family life and the struggles that went through.

I have come to expect great things from HBO, and this was no exception. I have wanted to see this mini-series since it came out, and I finally got around to it. I knew it was going to be good, but it was better than I expected. The filming was beautiful, the acting superb, and the content was both interesting and moving. I think John Adams is often overlooked(many people seem to know more about George Washington and Thomas Jefferson), and this mini-series shows how important he was to the American Revolution and developing the government of the United States.

This film is based of the biography John Adams by David McCullough. I read it many years ago, and found it interesting. It has been long enough that I cannot say for certain how closely the film follows the biography, but they did use it as a main source for this film. Even though it is a seven part series, some parts of his life had to be left out, and I would guess more details can likely be found in the biography. There is just too much in Adams' life to cover minutely in a film. I usually like to review movies based on books I have read more recently, but I found this mini-series so incredible that I wanted to let other people know about it.

I liked as it showed the events of the American revolution, and the formation of a new government that it was depicted with honesty. It was not just a patriotic propaganda film. It showed a human side to these events. The difficulties, the personality clashes that made these events harder, and the family issues Adams had. The writing for this film was excellent. Having great actors such as: Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney in the main roles also made this a film worth watching. 

Although I enjoyed the whole series, I particularly found the last episode moving. Many of the lines are from letters written by John Adams, Abigail Adams, and Thomas Jefferson. There was something about hearing their own words as you watched the incredible acting that really struck a chord. I thought this was a great way to depict these historical figures--with their own words. Although this was written after this series was made, it reminded me of the book Dear Abigail: The Intimate Lives And Revolutionary Ideas Of Abigail Adams And Her Two Remarkable Sisters. I really liked this book. It is letters Abigail Adams and her sisters wrote to each other. This film helps illustrate why so many letters between them would have been necessary--both the distance and great events occurring in their lives.

This is a great historical film, and an important one. I think even those that do not typically like watching films about historical events will like this one. There are so many things that make this worth watching. I enjoyed it, and found parts of it to be very moving. It is one I would watch again.

I highly recommend watching this film, and reading some books about these historical figures. I would start with the books Dear Abigail and McCollugh's John Adams.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Walking Dead: The Best Defense

Rick's group is trying to come to terms with their new life. They struggle to set aside differences as they work on clearing the prison to make it a safe place to settle down. Glen, Rick, and Michonne see a helicopter go down, and quickly set off to look for survivors. Someone has beaten them to the crash. They discover a small fortified town called Woodbury, and their leader, the Governor. Rick, Glen, and Michonne soon realize this is not a small haven willing to work with them. The Governor is a sadistic ruler that wants no interference--or challenge to his authority.

This is the fifth book in The Walking Dead series, and it begins right after volume four The Heart's Desire ends. This was the most violent of the whole series so far. It made the series much darker, which is surprising as there is constant violence in this series. This volume did not move the plot along a lot. It was the beginning of a whole new plot line, so it was largely used to foreshadow future events, and introduce us to some new characters. I was okay with this, because there needed to be something besides constant infighting and relationship drama. The introduction of a villain was something this series needed, because let's face it, not everyone is going to try their best to help others in an apocalypse.

I do think some of the issues I have mentioned before are still present. For example, the way the women are written is horrible. I keep waiting to see some improvement in that area. If the goal of the series is to examine how people would react in a zombie apocalypse situation, I have to think at least one woman would step up and defend herself, and not depend on all the men to do it for her. I find the lack of competent women in this series disturbing. The character art did improve. They are becoming more distinguishable from each other, which I greatly appreciate.

I am intrigued to see where the story arch with the Governor goes. I will continue reading this series, because despite the flaws, I find it an interesting angle for a post-apocalypse story. I just hope some of the issues I have with it are improved as the series goes on.

If you are interested in zombies, I recommend trying this series.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Battle Magic

Briar, Rosethorn, and Evvy are on their way to the First Circle temple in Gyongxe. They make a stop at the Emperor's summer palace where they are treated like royalty. During their stay, they discover that the Emperor is planning on invading Gyongxe. This is a fatal threat to the temple of the Living Circle. With imperial soldier hot on their trail, they rush to warn the citizens of Gyongxe of the coming attack. The mages try to help the citizens prepare for battle, but will it be enough to win the war?

I won a free copy of this book from the publisher in a promotional event for the book*. I was excited to read this book. It seemed like a really cool fantasy world, and I was not wrong. I have only read the three books in the Circle Reforged series, but I am looking forward to reading other books that involve these characters and this world. I really liked the way magic works in this world, and quickly was absorbed into the story. This was a great young adult fantasy. I like that Pierce does not shy away from real issues--war, relationships, and PTSD to name a few of the topics. It is refreshing to read about real issues while reading a really good story.

This is the third book in the Circle Reforged series, which currently has three books. It is the eleventh book in the Emelan series, which is where several series take place. Chronologically it takes place before The Will Of The EmpressI did not feel lost starting the story with this series. I think it would have added depth to what was going on if I had read some of the other books, and maybe cleared up some references to the past. But, I do not this it was necessary to enjoy this series to have read the other books.

If you like young adult fantasy books, I recommend reading this book.

*Winning a copy of this book does not change my review. It simply provides me with a copy of a book I would not have gotten to as soon, or heard about otherwise.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Eirik The Red And Other Icelandic Sagas


This is a collection of nine Icelandic sagas. The translator Gwyn Jones chose which sagas to include, and they seemed to show a range of culture, history, ancestry, and the introduction of Christianity and how it changed the culture and beliefs. Some, focus a lot on the ancestry and blood feuds, while others are about exploration, magic, and fighting. They range from being based on actual events to the magical and fantastical. The sagas included in this collection are:
  1. Hen-Thorir
  2. The Vapnfjord Men
  3. Thorstein Staff-Struck
  4. Hrafnkel the Priest of Frey
  5. Thidrandi whom the Goddesses Slew
  6. Authun and the Bear
  7. Gunnlaug Wormtongue
  8. King Hrolf and his Champions
  9. Erik the Red
These sagas were a little more difficult for me to get through, particularly the first few. I found this surprising. I normally love viking sagas, and read them with great joy. I do not know if it was the translation, or how the original material was written that caused me to not engage as I normally would with the sagas. I will have to see if I can find any other translations of all of the different tales and compare them, before I decide which caused me to stumble through this book. The writing did not capture me as these tales often do. Perhaps it was because there seemed to be a lack of poetry or rhythm I often associate with the sagas. There were a lot of genealogies, which can be interesting to read, but I felt it overwhelmed the tales at time. And this was after the translator removed some that seemed unnecessary.

I would still recommend reading this collection of sagas if you typically enjoy reading viking sagas. It was an interesting collection, and I liked reading about the explorations. I have read a couple of the stories in this collection in other places, but not all of them. King Hrolf's saga is one I like and would recommend reading. I would recommend starting with a different saga or collection of sagas if you have not read any before.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Shadows Of The Workhouse

Jennifer Worth is a midwife working in London East End during the 1950s. She also worked as a nurse. In this book, the focus is on people who have been in the workhouses, and what their experiences were. Instead of focusing on her midwifery experiences as in the first book. The main stories are about Jane, Frank and Peggy, Joseph Collett, Sister Monica Joan, and Reverend Applebee-Thornton.

This is the second book in Jennifer Worth's Call The Midwife trilogy. Like the first book, Shadows Of The Workhouse also tells some of Jenny's experience working in east end London. The first book, Call The Midwife, had many stories that gave us little glimpses into people's lives. This book only has a few stories that go into more detail. They also highlight the real fear people had of the workhouses(in place from the government to help the poor) and explain why such fear existed.

I thought this was a great follow up to the first book. It was interesting to learn about people Jenny was close to. I think it helped me understand a little more about who Jenny was, and the larger scope of the challenges she faced working in the East End. Another great example of the struggle to survive, and it gave a very human face to that struggle. The real difference to me between the first book and this one was that this one was more focused on other people than just on Jenny and her experiences. While I still liked this book, I did not like it as much as the first book. I did appreciate the writing. There are a lot of details that can be hard to read, but are very important for understanding that time period.

I recommend reading this book.