Monthly Archives: November 2016

Closed Hearts by Susan Kaye Quinn

Kidnapped and taken to Jackertown, Kira discovers there are more variations of Jackers than she ever dreamed. After a raid, she must break into Kestral’s facility to free other Jackers. Everything goes wrong and Kira herself becomes one of the test subjects. After breaking out, she sets off to find the missing Raf in the hopes they can live somewhat normal lives together, but public sentiment against Jackers is strong.

This second book of the Mindjack series was as good as the first. Occasionally it dragged a little bit, but that was just a minor problem. The end is heartbreaking and made me immediately go buy the third book since I must know how this all turns out. Discussion about hating those different due to fear and rumor was well done and not preachy. I highly recommend Closed Hearts to both adults and young adults, but definitely read the first book first.

4 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2016: 117
Pages Read in 2016: 31,921
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Filed under Science Fiction, Young Adult

Open Minds by Susan Kaye Quinn

Drugs in the water have caused people to evolve to be able to communicate telepathically. But not everyone can. Most people become Readers around puberty, but some never change and remain Zeros. Kira thinks she is a Zero, but it turns out she is actually a Jacker, and a strong one at that. Jackers hide in plain sight, some pretending to be Readers and others pretending to be Zeros. Jackers can not only read other people’s minds, they can control other people and even kill them. Not long after discovering her own abilities, Kira learns the Feds are experimenting on Jackers. She becomes determined to expose what is going on no matter the cost to herself.

While I’m not usually a science fiction fan, I enjoyed this one very much. I’ll definitely read the rest of the series (in fact, I’ve already started the second book). The book was slow to get started as it laid out the background information and set everything up, but once it took off, it really took off. I couldn’t put it down for the last quarter. I highly recommend Open Minds to adults and young adults alike.

4 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2016: 116
Pages Read in 2016: 31,587
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Filed under Science Fiction, Young Adult

Murder to Go by Chloe Kendrick

Maeve inherits a food truck from her aunt and everything is going great until the man in the next food truck over gets murdered. This sends Maeve down a crazy path of trying to figure out how her aunt paid for the truck and why there were obstacles to getting the proper permits and even whether her cause of death was natural or not. Meanwhile, the body count is increasing. Maeve needs to figure out just what’s going on before she becomes a statistic herself.

Murder to Go was a fun book (that’s sounds a bit strange since murder is in the title). I enjoyed following Maeve on her path to figure out what was going on. I never even suspected who was really behind it all so that made the end extra good for me. It’s the first in a series of food truck mysteries. I don’t feel any pressing need to read the rest, but I wouldn’t be opposed if the opportunity presented itself. I recommend this book to anyone who likes to read cozy mysteries.

4 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2016: 115
Pages Read in 2016: 31,257
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Filed under Realistic Fiction

Where Home Is by Karen J Hasley

It is 1910, and Katherine Davis has graduated from medical school and taken a one-year position as the doctor at Hull House in Chicago. She throws herself into the work she loves while at the same time being courted by Douglas Gallagher, a wealthy man who isn’t quite what he seems. The year goes by quickly and soon she is on her way back to Laramie Wyoming excited to see family and friends and hopeful that she will be able to set up her own practice.

Where Home Is is a gentle love story mixed into the historical backdrop of the early 20th century. The glimpses into the practice of medicine in the pre-antibiotic era and the buzz of life at Hull House were fascinating. The story moved a bit slowly, fitting with the era. I enjoyed it very much and was so happy with how it ended. It’s part of a loosely related series (this is the third book). It is not necessary to read any of the other books for this one to make sense.

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2016: 114
Pages Read in 2016: 31,044
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Filed under Historical Fiction

The Odyssey by Geraldine McCaughrean

The Odyssey by Geraldine McCaughrean is a really good childrens version of Homer’s Odyssey. Everything is there, but it is easy to understand. My 8-year-old read it out loud to me in school. He’s not a very sensitive kid and most of the stories in the book didn’t faze him, but the scene where Odysseus’s dog dies of happiness at seeing Odysseus again was too much for him, so be aware there is some content that may disturb some kids (it is, after all, The Odyssey). I highly recommend reading this aloud to children (or having them read it).

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2016: 113
Pages Read in 2016: 30,688
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Filed under Children, Classic

Powerless: The Synthesis by Jason Letts

All children are born with a special power. Some show quickly, some don’t. Some are useful, some aren’t. Some even kill the child. For 15 years, Mira’s parents have kept her hidden behind the mist her father can create with his power. They decide to let the mist go and send her to school for her last school year. There she discovers a world she never realized existed. Students are being taught to become soldiers in the neverending war. More important than learning facts and figures, the kids are taught to use their gifts to get through three trials to ultimately determine which will be the leader of the graduating class.

There were so many annoyances and plot holes in this book. It was a huge deal that Mira’s powers hadn’t showed, but there was a girl in her class with the same issue so that excuse of keeping her behind the mist doesn’t make sense (and of course was not the actual reason, but before Mira found out the real reason, she accepted her parents’ excuse without question even though she knew the other powerless girl was not locked up in her house for years). Once Mira’s parents let her out of the mist, they became, literally, the worst parents on the planet. Instead of helping her navigate the confusion of how the school works and dealing with not having a power while the others do, they just kind of left her to it and became ridiculously hands off. Except when a mirror that belonged to Mira’s grandmother got broken accidentally. That was pretty much the end of the world. There was a game that’s apparently the worst thing ever according to parents, but was really just a not so horrible game of truth or dare with pictoral dice and weird rules (like randomly getting rid of some of the pictures if the other players can’t make them fit together). In school, the teacher was a complete idiot, teaching them things like a watched pot takes longer to boil. The students were nearly as stupid, but Mira knows everything because her parents taught her at home all those years. Sometimes Mira seemed fine and communicated with others well and other times she was just completely naive and weird. Winning the final trial was the most important thing, all all that really mattered was the powers they were born with. The kid that sweats oil and the kid that senses other people’s powers were at a serious disadvantage to the kid who can jump far distances and the kid who can control gravity. The final trial is pretty much Hunger Games without the killing. Powerless: The Synthesis is the first book in a series. While the premise is interesting and the story was sometimes interesting, there was enough that irritated me that I will not be reading any more of them.

3 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2016: 112
Pages Read in 2016: 30,576
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Filed under Dystopian

The History of the Renaissance World by Susan Wise Bauer

The History of the Renaissance World covers the period from the rediscovery of Aristotle through the conquest of Constantinople. The chapters are relatively short and rotate around the world in a relatively chronological manner. The history is far from dry, and often is downright funny. Bauer has quite a talent at telling a story. I definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in history.

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2016: 111
Pages Read in 2016: 30,311
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Filed under History, Non-Fiction