Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful – Arwen Elys Dayton

Stronger, FasterWhat happens when we manipulate our DNA?  Could the science be used to better humanity or be the root of new evils?  Fusing organs to save a life? Manipulating genes for vanity? Or to create a super human intended for slave work?  Brilliantly told in six stories that span hundreds of years, we read the what-ifs of genetic manipulation.  The author touches on political strife among countries regarding the different points of view, but mostly on the humans touched by this manipulation and the entire human race.  Each character is carefully crafted and so well-written that they are so relatable.  While the concepts are high level, the sexual content is acceptable for middle school and up. Fast-paced and highly engaging.  Highly recommend!

eGalley review                                                            Publication date 12.4.18

Posted in dystopian, highly recommend, science fiction, Uncategorized | Tagged ,

Love à la Mode – Stephanie Kate Strohm

Love a la ModeFrom the publisher, “Take two American teen chefs, add one heaping cup of Paris, toss in a pinch of romance, and stir. . . . Rosie Radeke firmly believes that happiness can be found at the bottom of a mixing bowl. But she never expected that she, a random nobody from East Liberty, Ohio, would be accepted to celebrity chef Denis Laurent’s school in Paris, the most prestigious cooking program for teens in the entire world. Life in Paris, however, isn’t all cream puffs and crepes. Faced with a challenging curriculum and a nightmare professor, Rosie begins to doubt her dishes.

Henry Yi grew up in his dad’s restaurant in Chicago, and his lifelong love affair with food landed him a coveted spot in Chef Laurent’s school. He quickly connects with Rosie, but academic pressure from home and his jealousy over Rosie’s growing friendship with gorgeous bad-boy baker Bodie Tal makes Henry lash out and push his dream girl away.

Desperate to prove themselves, Rosie and Henry cook like never before while sparks fly between them. But as they reach their breaking points, they wonder whether they have what it takes to become real chefs.

Perfect for lovers of Chopped Teen Tournament and Kids Baking Championship, as well as anyone who dreams of a romantic trip to France, Love la Mode follows Rosie and Henry as they fall in love with food, with Paris, and ultimately, with each other.

This is a delightful read that is perfect for middle school and up.   I appreciate that the romance was kept G rated because the focus is on relationships – friends and family.  It is about overcoming self-doubt, being the best you can be, perseverance and also about FOOD!  Anyone who watches cooking competitions or enjoys eating should like this fun diversion.    There is nothing earth shattering or life altering in this book, it’s simply a feel-good read filled with characters who read like friends. The story ends after the first semester in Paris but hints at more to come.  I hope so.  Highly Recommend

eGalley review                                                  Publication date 11.27.18

 

Posted in fiction, gentle reader, highly recommend, realistic fiction, Uncategorized | Tagged ,

Terran Tomorrow – Nancy Kress

Terran TomorrowThe spaceship Return carried only nine people, although it could have carried many, many more. The mission from Earth to World had not been a success, and so some of the Earthlings were going home, accompanied by five Worlders. They had no idea just what they would find on their arrival. After all, even though only a short time had elapsed on World, the transit through space would mean that twenty-eight years will have passed on Earth. The Earth to which they returned was profoundly changed. The spore cloud had killed most of the humans. Only a few million scattered survivors were left and they were waging war on one another. The new arrivals were soon joining the effort to end the deadly plague. I have always enjoyed Nancy Kress, but I was a bit disappointed in this book. The plot was pretty obvious and the characters were mostly one dimensional. This is the third book in the Yesterday’s Kin trilogy, but it can be read as a standalone.

eGalley review                                                      Publication date 11.13.18

Posted in adult, dystopian, science fiction, Uncategorized | Tagged

How to Fracture a Fairy Tale – Jane Yolen

How to Fracture a Fairy TaleOh, how I love Jane Yolen’s fairy tales! I promised myself that I would make them last. Read only one a day. Yeah, right. That didn’t last very long. I gobbled them down like a greedy little pig. There were princes and princesses, dragons and frogs, and there was an unhappy bridge. There were myths, legends and fairy tales. My favorite was Sleeping Ugly. Or maybe Happy Dens or A Day in the Old Wolves’ Home. But Cinder Elephant was really good, too. Let’s face it, I loved them all. Some made me happy, some made me want to cry, some were disturbing. All of them left me wanting more. The very best part, though, were the Notes and Poems, wherein she discussed just how and why she fractured each story and included a poem relevant to the story. If I counted correctly, there are 29 stories in all. A little more than half are new to this book. I recommend this book for anyone who loves an unexpected twist to an old tale.

eGalley review                                                               Publication date 11.5.18

Posted in folklore, Uncategorized

The Colors of All the Cattle: No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency (19) – Alexander McCall Smith

The Colors of All the CattleHow nice it was to be back in Botswana with Mma Ramotswe. She is such a kind, gentle, generous person. If a friend asks for a favor, she feels the need to grant it. But this is too much. Mma Potokwane wants her to run for a seat on the City Council, and she absolutely does not want to run for a seat on the City Council. She likes her life just as it is. Meanwhile, the No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency has a new case, a hit and run, and Mma Ramotswe lets young Charlie, her sometimes detective, do a bit of investigating. I love this series. It never gets stale, boring. The characters grow and change, just a bit. Just enough to keep things interesting. The plot moves at a gentle pace. There is always time for tea, always time to think about things, always time to see the beauty and humor in life. This is the 19th book in the series, so if you want to start with this one, there is a lot of missing back story. But it is not absolutely essential and the book can stand alone.

eGalley review                                                      Publication date 11.6.18

Posted in adult, mystery, Uncategorized | Tagged

The Brilliant Death – Amy Rose Capetta

The Brilliant DeathFrom the publisher, “All her life, Teodora has hidden the fact that she secretly turns her family’s enemies into music boxes, mirrors, and other decorative objects. After all, everyone in Vinalia knows that stregas—wielders of magic—are figures out of fairytales. Nobody believes they’re real.

Then the Capo, the land’s new ruler, sends poisoned letters to the heads of the Five Families that have long controlled Vinalia. Four lie dead and Teo’s beloved father is gravely ill. To save him, Teo must travel to the capital as a DiSangro son—not merely disguised as a boy, but transformed into one.

Enter Cielo, a strega who can switch back and forth between male and female as effortlessly as turning a page in a book. Teo and Cielo journey together to the capital, and Teo struggles to master her powers and to keep her growing feelings for Cielo locked in her heart. As she falls in love with witty, irascible Cielo, Teo realizes how much of life she’s missed by hiding her true nature. But she can’t forget her mission, and the closer they get to the palace, the more sinister secrets they uncover about what’s really going on in their beloved country—and the more determined Teo becomes to save her family at any cost.” 

Despite having familiar plot elements – coming into magic, political maneuvering, violence that becomes commonplace, and sacrifices for love – The Brilliant Death is unique.  The way the author has combined all the elements is very well done.  Gender fluidity isn’t anything new in scifi/fantasy and can sometimes detract.  Not here, Teo and Cielo change gender often and it adds to the story.  For readers who like a bit of violence, that box is checked too.  Teo’s oldest brother caught in the act of skinning his brother alive, is just one example. The writing is chock full of figurative language, almost too much, but it is used to enhance the story and not drag it down.  I enjoyed it and eagerly await the sequel.

eGalley review                                                             Publication date 10.30.18

Posted in fantasy, Uncategorized

Little – Edward Carey

LittleWhen she was born in a small village in Alsace in 1761, she was tiny, oh so tiny, just about the size of two hands, and not expected to live. Little Anne Marie was stubborn and refused to die, but she was not very good at growing and stopped when she was the height of most people’s hearts. And so she lost her name and was called “Little”. She was an odd-looking little thing, with a large nose that pointed down and a large chin that pointed up. Her mother taught her to read and told her to always stay busy and to always discover. When her parents die, she becomes a servant to Dr. Curtius, a recluse who makes interesting things from wax. He makes body parts, all sorts of body parts, and wonderful heads. The scene shifts when they must flee creditors and hide in Paris. There they make wax heads of notable people, (and some not so notable) exhibit them, and become rather famous. Unfortunately, they also become caught up in the French revolution. Little tells her own story, and the first-person narrative is so well done. I felt that I was there with her through the nice times, the just okay times and the awful times. This book is very, very good, full of wonderful characters, historical events, humor and tragedy. It is laced with lovely illustrations, purported to be drawn by Little, herself. I highly recommend it.

eGalley review                              Publication date 10.23.18

Posted in adult, historical fiction, Uncategorized