Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Sweetheart of Prosper County

The Sweetheart of Prosper CountyThe Sweetheart of Prosper County by Jill S. Alexander
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was very easy to fall into. It was a well written story with characters, plot, struggle and resolution. I appreciated the spiritual aspects featured in the book - and if this was written as a YA Christian book, it was very REAL. This book didn't preach, it talked about boobs, and boyfriends, and squishy feelings. It also talked about prayer and letting God be God. I would have no problems loaning this book to any of my Youth Group kids - which is probably the first time I have said that about a Young Adult book, EVER.

This is the author's first book and I'm looking forward to adding more of her books to my reading list.

Synopsis: Almost-15-year-old Austin Gray is tired of standing at the curb and watching the parade pass her by. Literally. She decides this is the year she’ll ride on the hood of a shiny pickup truck in the annual parade, waving to the crowd and finally showing the town bully that she’s got what it takes to be the Sweetheart of Prosper County.
 But far from simply being a beauty contest, becoming Sweetheart involves participation in the Future Farmers of America (FFA), raising an animal, and hunting or fishing. Austin will do almost anything to become Sweetheart, and has the support of her oldest friend, Maribel, her new FFA friends (including the reigning Sweetheart, and a quiet, cute cowboy), an evangelical Elvis impersonator, a mysterious Cajun outcast, and a rooster named Charles Dickens. If only her momma would stop overprotecting her, and start letting Austin live her own life. But Austin can’t move on until Momma moves on, too—and lets the grief of losing Austin’s daddy several years before out into the open.
 Here is a bighearted story that will leave readers agreeing with Austin that sometimes, it’s not what you ride, it’s how you roll.

Recommended Reading:
North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley
Pop by Gordon Korman
All the Broken Pieces by Ann E. Burg
Donut Days by Lara Zielin
Prophecy of the Sisters… by Michelle Zink
Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler

Friday, September 25, 2015

The Fault in Our Stars

The Fault in Our StarsThe Fault in Our Stars by John Green
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I am completely underwhelmed. Did I miss something? What was the plot of this book? What was the struggle? What was the flaw to be overcome? This book had no point, no purpose, other than to host a couple cute sentences of dialogue and few zingy one-liners. The only compliment I can pay to this book is that the sentence structure and word choice were well done.

Summary: Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten.

Monday, September 21, 2015

A Game of Thrones

A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1)A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I got sucked into the hype, I'll admit it. It was enjoyable and I look forward to the next books. The story is told from multiple view points - each chapter is a new character clearly marked so that there is no guessing (I like that). The overall story voice was very static, not much changed in rhythm or word structure to indicate a new voice, although characters were very strong in action and thought. Plot was strong, action was strong, a beautiful weaving together of fantasy and medieval history into a world we can make sense of but yet a new place with history and traditions (and stories!) to be discovered. It was difficult to find the protagonist and antagonist in the story - until I realized it isn't one person against another, it's family against family. There are loveable characters - characters to cry for and laugh with. Characters to fall madly in love with or shake them from their stupidity. This book is very strongly anchored in many of the things that secure a strong series, and I'm glad I fell into the hype.

Synopsis: Long ago, in a time forgotten, a preternatural event threw the seasons out of balance. In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes to the north of Winterfell, sinister forces are massing beyond the kingdom’s protective Wall. To the south, the king’s powers are failing—his most trusted adviser dead under mysterious circumstances and his enemies emerging from the shadows of the throne. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the frozen land they were born to. Now Lord Eddard Stark is reluctantly summoned to serve as the king’s new Hand, an appointment that threatens to sunder not only his family but the kingdom itself.

Sweeping from a harsh land of cold to a summertime kingdom of epicurean plenty, A Game of Thrones tells a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and bastards, who come together in a time of grim omens. Here an enigmatic band of warriors bear swords of no human metal; a tribe of fierce wildlings carry men off into madness; a cruel young dragon prince barters his sister to win back his throne; a child is lost in the twilight between life and death; and a determined woman undertakes a treacherous journey to protect all she holds dear. Amid plots and counter-plots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, allies and enemies, the fate of the Starks hangs perilously in the balance, as each side endeavors to win that deadliest of conflicts: the game of thrones.

Recommended Reading:
A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin
A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin
A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin
The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Saturday, September 5, 2015

The Soapmaker's Companion

The Soapmaker's Companion: A Comprehensive Guide with Recipes, Techniques & Know-HowThe Soapmaker's Companion: A Comprehensive Guide with Recipes, Techniques & Know-How by Susan Miller Cavitch
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a source of great information - there's lots of it, from technique to science. It was a bit dry and hard to follow at times. Recipes are for large batch. Must read it again to take notes for some of the chemistry breakdown. No photos, pictures are hand drawn (note: this is an old book, published over 20 years ago), no relevant information for internet suppliers, etc.

Summary: Basic soapmaking instruction and specialty techniques like marbling, layering, and making transparent and liquid soaps.