Thursday, January 15, 2015

Angels Walking by Karen Kingsbury

Title: Angels Walking
Author: Karen Kingsbury
Read by: Kirby Heyborne and January Lavoy
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Length: Approximately 12 hours (9 CDs)
Source: Simon & Schuster Audio Review Copy – Thank-you!

Angels Walking is the first in a new series of books by Karen Kingsbury.  In heaven, angels have become concerned that an important child will not be born unless Tyler Ames and his only love Sami Dawson are put back on the path to each other.  Two angels are sent to earth to help to clear their path.  Tyler Ames was an all-star little league baseball player.  He had everything going for him, but chose to go straight to the minor leagues instead of college leaving behind his family and love Sami Dawson.  A series of bad choices has estranged Tyler from both his family and Sami. After unfortunate accident, Tyler is left with nothing and with the help of angels he is able to find a new job as maintenance man at a nursing home.  There he meets and befriends a wonderful old woman, Virginia Hutcheson.  Meanwhile Sami has a successful career and powerful perfect boyfriend, but finds that something is missing in her life. Will they both be able to find what they need in life and each other?

I’ll admit that I was turned off by the beginning of this book.  I thought the intro with the angels was very pretentious and heavy handed.  The way the angels described the important child was that he was almost the Christ child, which actually offended me.   Luckily I stuck with it as ironically once the story returned to earth and the angels only made random appearances to put our protagonist on the right path, it became a much stronger story.  I really enjoyed Tyler and Sami’s journey.  I was particularly touched with Tyler’s relationship with Virginia.  It was wonderful.

The audiobook had two narrators, Kirby Heyborne for the chapters told from Tyler’s point of view, and January Lavoy for the chapters told from Sami’s point of view.  I liked this type of narration and thought they did a wonderful job.

Overall, a good story about how life doesn’t always go as one expects, but that love and relationships are what matters.

2015 Challenges

I am signing up for two challenges for 2015.

The first challenge is the 2015 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge hosted by Passages to the Past.  I've enjoyed reading this blog in the past and look forward to the challenge.

The challenge runs from January 1st to December 31st 2015 and includes any sub-genre of historical fiction including:   Historical Romance, Historical Mystery, Historical Fantasy, Young Adult, etc..

I am going to choose a reading a level of  Renaissance Reader - 10 books for this year.

The second challenge I am going to participate in is the 2015 Audiobook Challenge hosted by Hot Listens and Book Nympho.  I have participated in a similar challenge the past few years, but it was hosted by a different (sadly no defunct) site.  I look forward to seeing what new to me audiobook readers have to say.

I am going for the Socially Awkward (Don’t talk to me) 15-20 audiobooks status.  With listening to audiobooks on CD on the way to work and digital audiobooks while I work on chores at home, I now find a lot of my reading is done this way.

I look forward to the great reads 2015 will bring!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Christmas at Tiffany’s by Karen Swan

 Cassie is celebrating her tenth anniversary with her husband Gil.  Gil was her first serious boyfriend and they live on a grand Scottish estate.  Cassie is removed from the world, while her three fabulous friends Kelly, Anouk, and Suzy live in the heart of things in New York City, Paris, and London respectively.  Her three friends have come to visit for the tenth anniversary party, but when Cassie makes a devastating discovery, they are quick to whisk her away.  They set her on a new path with a plan to discover who she really is and what she wants in life.  She spends four months in each City.  Cassie allows the ladies to make her over at first, but comes into her own by the end with a new outlook on life and a new love.

I really enjoyed this novel.  The characters were fantastic.  Cassie was intriguing herself, but I really enjoyed how the novel explored the secondary characters as well.  I love how Cassie had to move to a new location and new life and explore what that would mean.  She definitely has her ups and downs, but I think it really helped her find herself. 

This book is called Christmas at Tiffany’s and there is a definite Christmas celebration with Tiffany’s involved.  I did read it over Christmas, but this is a book that can be enjoyed any time of year as it doesn’t dwell on Christmas throughout the novel.  It is more a novel of self-discovery.

Overall, if you are looking for a good read about a woman finding herself, I would highly recommend this novel.

Book Source:  Review Copy from William Morrow – Thanks!

Love Finds You On Christmas Morning by Debby Mayne and Trish Perry

Love Finds You On Christmas Morning is a lovely Christmas book made up of two stories; one set in the 1920’s, and one in modern times.  In “Deck the Halls” by Debby Mayne, Lillian Pickard supports her mother and father by working full time at a dime store.  Her father is unable to work due to an accident.  Wealthy farmer William Tronnier fancies Lillian, but her family tells her that he is above her socially and wouldn’t be interested in her with marriage in mind.  In “‘Tis The Season”, Tronnier descendent, Nikki Tronnier is a chef that moves back to her home town with the goal to buy back her Great-Grandparents home.  She has just saved enough money, when engineer and man she has just started to date, Drew Cornell, buys the home not knowing her plans.  What will Nikki do?

I really enjoyed this Christmas novel.  I liked how the two stories were connected and that they were set in Cary, North Carolina.  I have never been there, but did work on a few engineering projects there back in the day. Sadly my request for a site visit did not go through.  I also love that Lillian works at a dime store.  I worked at one myself while in high school.  I thought it was interesting that a wealthy farmer would be considered a different social class than a dime store worker.  It made me think about my Great-Grandpa and Grandma Kile and their love story, which was on similar lines.  I had never thought about the social ramifications.  I did get slightly annoyed about how the parents were adamant that William would only want one thing and even after meeting him, kept insisting that Lillian not be with him.

Overall though, this is an excellent light Christian Christmas romance.  I loved that it was romantic and about building a relationship with the one you love.

Book Source:  A Christmas Gift from my best friend Jenn.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution by Walter Isaacson

Title: The Innovators:  How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution
Author: Walter Isaacson

Read by: Dennis Boutsikaris
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Length: Approximately 17.5 hours (15 CDs)
Source: Simon & Schuster Audio Review Copy – Thank-you!

The Innovators really only needs one word to describe such an intriguing book:  fascinating.   I loved listening to this audiobook as I traveled to work and back.  I couldn’t wait to hear what I would discover next.  Author Walter Isaacson has spun a wonderful tale of the invention of the computer and the internet.  His main thesis is that it was not just one person working alone in a garage that invented the computer or the internet, but collaborative teams that built off the ideas of others coming up with new and ingenuous ways to get the job done.  The book starts off with Ada Lovelace, the grandmother of computing and Lord Byron’s daughter.  He describes many fascinating individuals and teams including Vannevar Bush, Alan Turing, John von Neumann, J.C.R. Licklider, Doug Engelbart, Robert Noyce, Bill Gates, Steve Wozniak, Steve Jobs, Tim Berners-Lee, and Larry Page, AT & T’s Bell Labs, Xerox Corporation, amongst others.

I loved learning about the individuals, the teams, and the ideas.  I am an engineer, not a computer scientist so a lot of this information was new and very interesting to me.  In truth, I want to learn more.  I really want to read Water Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs.  I loved the discussion of math behind some of the ideas, especially in Ada Lovelace’s story. It brought back a lot of college to me, but it also made me sad that I didn’t learn more about computer programming in college.  I had a terrible teacher that only taught those that knew how to write programs, and not those that were just starting.  I really wish I could program.

I also loved the discussion of women in the world of computing. Ada Lovelace’s story is fascinating in itself, but I also loved the story of how in the WWII era, women were the people programming computers.  Although after the first functioning computer was built and shown to run, these same women were not invited to the party celebrating that fact after spending sleepless nights making sure it didn’t work.  I think the ramifications of this are still seen today in the lack of women in computer science.

I also loved Isaacson’s conclusion that humanities and math/science cannot exist without one another.  Most mathematical and computer geniuses also had a strong love of art and/or music.  Isaacson stated that both humanities and science/math should be considered important.  I’m paraphrasing here, but he stated that the same professor of humanities who would think someone was an idiot for not understanding Hamlet would shrug off not understanding a differential equation.  Both are difficult to understand and both are beautiful, but it someone acceptable in our society to laugh off math as “too hard” while expecting everyone to understand the equally hard concepts behind Hamlet.  I very much agree and thought this was an excellent point.

I listened to the audiobook version of The Innovators and it kept me fascinated on my drive.. I loved listening to each story of an individual or team, but also liked that it moved on to a new story to keep things interesting.  Dennis Boutsikaris was a great narrator.

Overall, The Innovators is an excellent book and audiobook.  I highly recommend it to anyone that is looking for a fascinating read about the technology that we take for granted today and the people behind its invention.