Sunday, January 18, 2015

Reads for 2015

My blog has no viewers really (except myself :) ) so I am ditching single posts on current reads and will keep a list of books I read during 2015 with a link to purchase for Kindle readers via Amazon or a link to ebook on Gutenberg if available and what I rated (on a 1-5 star rating scale).

1.  The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving  ( 3 stars)
2. A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray (4 stars)
3. Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger (3 stars)
4. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery  (4 stars)
5. Animal Farm by George Orwell (4 stars)
6. No Place to Fall by Jaye Robin Brown (4 stars)
7. Top Ten Clues You're Clueless by Liz Czukas (5 stars)
8. Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins (3 stars)
9. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath (5 stars)
10. Endgame: The Calling by James Frey (4 stars)
11. A Good Marriage by Stephen King (4 stars)
12. Love and Other Theories by Alexis Bass (2 stars)
13. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (3 stars)
14. Diamond Boy by Michael Williams (4 stars)
15. Lord of the Flies by William Golding (5 stars)
16. City of a Thousand Dolls by Miriam Foster (3 stars)
17. Time and Chance by Sharon Kay Penman (4 stars)
18. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl (4 stars)
19. Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator by Roald Dahl (2 stars)
20. The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey (5 stars)
21. The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey (5 stars)
22. To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han (4 stars)
23. Pivot Point by Kasie West (4 stars)
24. Split Second by Kasie West (4 stars)
25. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (4 stars)
26. Beware the Wild by Natalie C. Parker (3 stars)
27. For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund (3 stars)
28. The Distance Between Us by Kasie West (5 stars)
29. On the Fence by Kasie West (3 stars)
30. Devil's Brood by Sharon Kay Penman (4 stars)
31. Atonement by Ian McEwan (4 stars)
32. The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth (4 stars)
33. Noggin by John Corey Whaley (5 stars)
34. Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley (5 stars)
35. Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins (4 stars)
36. Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins (3 stars)
37. Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins (4 stars)
38. Spell Bound by Rachel Hawkins (4 stars)
39. School Spirits by Rachel Hawkins (4 stars)
40. Don't Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout (4 stars)
41. House of Leaves (paperback) by Mark Z. Danielewski (3 stars)
42. The Wolfen by Whitley Strieber (3 stars)
43. Charlotte's Web by E. B. White (5 stars)
44. Breathe by Sarah Crossan (3 stars)
45. Lionheart by Sharon Kay Penman (4 stars)

Friday, November 21, 2014

Plantagenets series by Sharon Kay Penman

Current read
Series - Plantagenets
Author - Sharon Kay Penman (http://www.sharonkaypenman.com/)

Book 1
Title - When Christ and His Saints Slept

Goodreads description -
In this novel, Sharon Kay Penman brings to life a dark period in English history, painting a canvas rich in the textures and colors of the era. Here is the pain and suffering of the innocents, the conniving and duplicity of the barons; here is the terrible reality of lawlessness - the burning towns, ravaged countryside, weary people. But above all, here are two extraordinary adversaries: A woman whose courage outran her common sense, who found that her skirts bound her more tightly than any rope. And a man of inordinate charm, as valiant in battle as he was able in friendship - but a man whose life was based on a broken oath and a treacherous lie, tragic flaws that would destroy him. Beginning as friends, they ended in the bitterest enmity, their bloodiest wounds self-inflicted. And if Stephen lost the crown, Maude would never wear it. But in a final irony for both, Maude would indeed be the mother of kings, for it was her eldest, Henry, who would establish the Plantagenet dynasty and, with Eleanor of Aquitaine, electrify the medieval world.
Ebook currently available for $7.59 at Amazon here.

Book 2
Title - Time and Chance

Goodreads description -
In When Christ and His Saints Slept, acclaimed historical novelist Sharon Kay Penman portrayed all the deceit, danger, and drama of Henry II's ascension to the throne. Now, in Time and Chance, she continues the ever-more-captivating tale.

It was medieval England's immortal marriage, Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II, bound by passion and ambition, certain to leave a legacy of greatness. But while lust would divide them, it was friendship, and ultimately faith, that brought bloodshed into their midst. It began with Thomas Becket, Henry's closest confidant, and his elevation to be Archbishop of Canterbury. It ended with a perceived betrayal that made a royal murder seem inevitable. Along the way were enough scheming, seductions, and scandals to topple any kingdom but their own. . . .


Ebook currently available for $11.34 at Amazon here.

Book 3
Title - Devil's Brood

Goodreads description -
Where the second novel in the trilogy, Time And Chance, dealt with the extraordinary politics of the twelfth century, climaxing with the murder of Thomas Becket and Henry's confrontation with the Church and self-imposed exile to Ireland, Devil's Brood centers on the implosion of a family. And because it is a royal family whose domains span the English Channel and whose alliances encompass the Christian world, that collapse will have dire consequences. This is a story of betrayal as Henry's three eldest sons and his wife enter into a rebellion against him, aligning themselves with his bitterest enemy, King Louis of France. But it is also the story of a great king whose brilliance forged an empire but whose personal blind spots led him into the most serious mistake of his life.

Ebook currently available for $10.99 at Amazon here.


Book 4
Title - Lionheart

Goodreads description -
They were called "The Devil's Brood," though never to their faces. They were the four surviving sons of Henry Plantagenet and Eleanor of Aquitaine. With two such extraordinary parents, much was expected of them.
But the eldest-charming yet mercurial-would turn on his father and, like his brother Geoffrey, meet an early death. When Henry died, Richard would take the throne and, almost immediately, set off for the Holy Land. This was the Third Crusade, and it would be characterized by internecine warfare among the Christians and extraordinary campaigns against the Saracens. And, back in England, by the conniving of Richard's youngest brother, John, to steal his crown.

Ebook currently available for $11.29 at Amazon here.



Book 5
Title - A King's Ransom

Goodreads description -
This long-anticipated sequel to the national bestseller Lionheart is a vivid and heart-wrenching story of the last event-filled years in the life of Richard, Coeur de Lion. Taken captive by the Holy Roman Emperor while en route home—in violation of the papal decree protecting all crusaders—he was to spend fifteen months chained in a dungeon while Eleanor of Aquitaine moved heaven and earth to raise the exorbitant ransom. But a further humiliation awaited him: he was forced to kneel and swear fealty to his bitter enemy.

For the five years remaining to him, betrayals, intrigues, wars, and illness were ever present. So were his infidelities, perhaps a pattern set by his father’s faithlessness to Eleanor. But the courage, compassion, and intelligence of this warrior king became the stuff of legend, and A King’s Ransom brings the man and his world fully and powerfully alive.

Ebook currently available for $13.00 at Amazon here.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Anne Frank Remembered by Miep Gies

Current read
Title - Anne Frank Remembered
Author - Miep Gies

Amazon description -
It seems as if we are never far from Miep's thoughts....Yours, Anne

For the millions moved by Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, here at last is Miep's own astonishing story. For more than two years, Miep Gies and her husband helped hide the Franks from the Nazis. Like thousands of unsung heroes of the Holocaust, they risked their lives each day to bring food, news, and emotional support to the victims.

From her own remarkable childhood as a World War I refugee to the moment she places a small, red-orange, checkered diary -- Anne's legacy -- in Otto Frank's hands, Miep Gies remembers her days with simple honesty and shattering clarity. Each page rings with courage and heartbreaking beauty.


Ebook currently available for $9.73 at Amazon here.
Update - Finished reading on 11/20/2014

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Cousin's War series by Philippa Gregory

Current read
The Cousin's War series
Author - Philippa Gregory (http://www.philippagregory.com/)

Book 1 -

Amazon description -
Elizabeth Woodville is a woman of extraordinary beauty and ambition. Her mother is Jacquetta, also known as the mystical lady of the rivers, and she is even more determined to bring power and wealth to the family line. While riding in the woods one day, Elizabeth captures the attentions of the newly crowned King Edward IV and, despite her common upbringing, marries him in secret. 

When she is raised up to be his queen, the English court is outraged, but Elizabeth rises to the demands of her exalted position and fights for her family’s dominance. Yet despite her best efforts, and even with the help of her mother’s powers, her two sons become pawns in a famous unsolved mystery that has confounded historians for centuries: the lost princes in the Tower of London.

In this dazzling account of the deadly Wars of the Roses, brother turns on brother to win the ultimate prize: the throne of England.

Ebook currently available for $5.99 at Amazon here.

Book 2 -

Amazon description -
Margaret Beaufort never surrenders her belief that her Lancaster house is the true ruler of England, and that she has a great destiny before her. Married to a man twice her age, quickly widowed, and a mother at only fourteen, Margaret is determined to turn her lonely life into a triumph. She sets her heart on putting her son on the throne of England regardless of the cost to herself, to England, and even to the little boy. Disregarding rival heirs and the overwhelming power of the York dynasty, she names him Henry, like the king; sends him into exile; and pledges him in marriage to her enemy Elizabeth of York’s daughter. As the political tides constantly move and shift, Margaret masterminds one of the greatest rebellions of all time—all the while knowing that her son has grown to manhood, recruited an army, and awaits his opportunity to win the greatest prize in all of England. 

The Red Queen is a novel of conspiracy, passion, and coldhearted ambition, the story of a proud and determined woman who believes that she alone is destined, by her piety and lineage, to shape the course of history.

Ebook currently available for $5.99 at Amazon here.

Book 3 -

Amazon description -
When the young and beautiful Jacquetta is married to the older Duke of Bedford, English regent of France, he introduces her to a mysterious world of learning and alchemy. Her only friend in the great household is the duke’s squire Richard Woodville, who is at her side when the duke’s death leaves her a wealthy young widow. The two become lovers and marry in secret, returning to England to serve at the court of the young King Henry VI, where Jacquetta becomes a close and loyal friend to his new queen. 

The Woodvilles soon achieve a place at the very heart of the Lancaster court, though Jacquetta has visions of the growing threat from the people of England and the danger of their royal York rivals. Jacquetta fights for her king and queen, as she sees an extraordinary and unexpected future for her daughter Elizabeth: a change of fortune, the white rose of York, and the throne of England…

Ebook currently available for $10.38 at Amazon here.


Book 4 -

Amazon description -
The Kingmaker’s Daughter—Philippa Gregory’s first sister story since The Other Boleyn Girl—is the gripping tale of the daughters of the man known as the Kingmaker, Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick: the most powerful magnate in fifteenth-century England. Without a son and heir, he uses his daughters, Anne and Isabel, as pawns in his political games, and they grow up to be influential players in their own right. 

At the court of Edward IV and his beautiful queen, Elizabeth Woodville, Anne grows from a delightful child to become ever more fearful and desperate when her father makes war on his former friends. Married at age fourteen, she is soon left widowed and fatherless, her mother in sanctuary and her sister married to the enemy. Anne manages her own escape by marrying Richard, Duke of Gloucester, but her choice will set her on a collision course with the overwhelming power of the royal family.

Ebook currently available for $8.99 at Amazon here.


Book 5 -

Amazon description -
When Henry Tudor picks up the crown of England from the mud of Bosworth field, he knows he must marry the princess of the enemy house—Elizabeth of York—to unify a country divided by war for nearly two decades.

But his bride is still in love with his slain enemy, Richard III—and her mother and half of England dream of a missing heir, sent into the unknown by the White Queen. While the new monarchy can win power, it cannot win hearts in an England that plots for the triumphant return of the House of York. 

Henry’s greatest fear is that somewhere a prince is waiting to invade and reclaim the throne. When a young man who would be king leads his army and invades England, Elizabeth has to choose between the new husband she is coming to love and the boy who claims to be her beloved lost brother: the rose of York come home at last.


Ebook currently available for $9.99 at Amazon here.

Book 6 -

Amazon description -
Regarded as yet another threat to the volatile King Henry VII’s claim to the throne, Margaret Pole, cousin to Elizabeth of York (known as the White Princess) and daughter of George, Duke of Clarence, is married off to a steady and kind Lancaster supporter—Sir Richard Pole. For his loyalty, Sir Richard is entrusted with the governorship of Wales, but Margaret’s contented daily life is changed forever with the arrival of Arthur, the young Prince of Wales, and his beautiful bride, Katherine of Aragon. Margaret soon becomes a trusted advisor and friend to the honeymooning couple, hiding her own royal connections in service to the Tudors.

After the sudden death of Prince Arthur, Katherine leaves for London a widow, and fulfills her deathbed promise to her husband by marrying his brother, Henry VIII. Margaret’s world is turned upside down by the surprising summons to court, where she becomes the chief lady-in-waiting to Queen Katherine. But this charmed life of the wealthiest and “holiest” woman in England lasts only until the rise of Anne Boleyn, and the dramatic deterioration of the Tudor court. Margaret has to choose whether her allegiance is to the increasingly tyrannical king, or to her beloved queen; to the religion she loves or the theology which serves the new masters. Caught between the old world and the new, Margaret Pole has to find her own way as she carries the knowledge of an old curse on all the Tudors.

Ebook currently available for $12.74 at Amazon here.

Update: Finished reading on 11/14/2014

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

All Souls trilogy by Deborah Harkness

Current read - All Souls trilogy
Author - Deborah Harkness (http://deborahharkness.com/)

Book 1 - A Discovery of Witches

Amazon description -
It all begins with a lost manuscript, a reluctant witch, and 1,500-year-old vampire. Dr. Diana Bishop has a really good reason for refusing to do magic: she is a direct descendant of the first woman executed in the Salem Witch Trials, and her parents cautioned her be discreet about her talents before they were murdered, presumably for having "too much power." So it is purely by accident that Diana unlocks an enchanted long-lost manuscript (a book that all manner of supernatural creatures believe to hold the story of all origins and the secret of immortality) at the Bodleian Library at Oxford, and finds herself in a race to prevent an interspecies war. A sparkling debut written by a historian and self-proclaimed oenophile, A Discovery of Witches is heady mix of history and magic, mythology, and love (cue the aforementioned vampire!), making for a luxurious, intoxicating, one-sitting read. --Daphne Durham


Ebook currently available for $2.99 at Amazon here.


Book 2 - Shadow of Night

Amazon description -
Deborah Harkness burst onto the scene with her 2011 debut, A Discovery of Witches, which introduced legions of fans to Diana Bishop, an Oxford scholar, and Matthew Clairmont, a handsome geneticist. Diana also happened to be a witch, and Matthew a vampire--and readers couldn’t get enough of them, right up to the thrilling cliffhanger ending. Now Shadow of Night picks up where the first book leaves off, with Diana and Matthew entering Elizabethan London, where Mathew is part of the mysterious School of Night, a group that counts Christopher Marlowe and Sir Walter Raleigh among its members. Characterization, a great eye for detail, and a story that takes some notable twists and turns make this a great novel that will more than live up to eager fans’ expectations. It’s even better than the first. --Chris Schluep

Ebook currently available for $4.99 at Amazon here.




Book 3 - The Book of Life

Amazon description -
Dedicated scholar, reluctant witch, and seasoned time traveler Diana Bishop returns to wrap up the wildly popular All Souls trilogy. After a supernatural “meet-cute” in A Discovery of Witches, and a time-traveling adventure in Shadow of Night, Diana and vampire/scientist Matthew Clairmont return to the present, continuing their pursuit of magical alchemical manuscript Ashmole 782, aka The Book of Life; but before the secrets contained within the manuscript are revealed, Diana and Matthew must navigate the peculiarities of their essentially forbidden union. As the stakes grow increasingly higher, they prepare for a showdown in the demon world that could have direct—and possibly dire—­consequences for their own families. Harkness herself proves to be quite the alchemist as she combines elements of magic, history, romance, and science, transforming them into a compelling journey through time, space, and geography. By bridging the gaps between Harry Potter, Twilight, and Outlander fans, Harkness artfully appeals to a broad range of fantasy lovers. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: With the first two volumes in this trilogy selling more than one million copies, and the movie version of A Discovery of Witches currently in development, the conclusion of this paranormal adventure is guaranteed to fly off the shelves. --Margaret Flanagan

Ebook currently available for $10.99 at Amazon here.
Update: 10/7/2014 - Over 50% into first book and it already feels like a chore. Giving this up for now. Will maybe try again at another time. 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Shard Objects by Gillian Flynn

Current read
Title - Sharp Objects
Author - Gillian Flynn (http://gillian-flynn.com/)


Amazon description -
Fresh from a brief stay at a psych hospital, reporter Camille Preaker faces a troubling assignment: she must return to her tiny hometown to cover the murders of two preteen girls. For years, Camille has hardly spoken to her neurotic, hypochondriac mother or to the half-sister she barely knows: a beautiful thirteen-year-old with an eerie grip on the town. Now, installed in her old bedroom in her family's Victorian mansion, Camille finds herself identifying with the young victims—a bit too strongly. Dogged by her own demons, she must unravel the psychological puzzle of her own past if she wants to get the story—and survive this homecoming.



Ebook currently available for $6.99 at Amazon here.
Update: Finished reading on 9/30/2014

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

Current read
Title - Dark Places
Author - Gillian Flynn (http://gillian-flynn.com/)


Amazon description -
Libby Day was seven when her mother and two sisters were murdered in “The Satan Sacrifice" of Kinnakee, Kansas.” She survived—and famously testified that her fifteen-year-old brother, Ben, was the killer. Twenty-five years later, the Kill Club—a secret secret society obsessed with notorious crimes—locates Libby and pumps her for details. They hope to discover proof that may free Ben. Libby hopes to turn a profit off her tragic history: She’ll reconnect with the players from that night and report her findings to the club—for a fee. As Libby’s search takes her from shabby Missouri strip clubs to abandoned Oklahoma tourist towns, the unimaginable truth emerges, and Libby finds herself right back where she started—on the run from a killer.


Ebook currently available for $4.99 at Amazon here.
Update: Finished reading on 9/27/2014