Monday, January 28, 2019

With This Pledge by Tamera Alexander (TLC Book Tour)

I LOVE Civil War history.  With This Pledge is set during a period of Civil War history that I knew nothing about, and I found it not only fascinating for the history, but fascinating for the plot and great characters within the novel.

Lizzie Clouston is a governess at the grand Carnton plantation near Franklin, Tennessee in 1864. She misses her fiancée, Towny, who is away fighting in the Civil War.  She struggles with her feelings of friendship, but not love for Towny and her own feelings against slavery which are dangerous in a slave owning household.   Lizzie’s life is changed forever when an epic battle takes place near Carnton and the plantation becomes a make-shift hospital.  With her steady character, she helps with surgery and feeding the men as does the entire McGavock family.  While tending the wounded, Lizzie makes a promise to Captain Roland Jones that she will not allow his leg to be amputated.  The two feel attracted to one another even though Lizzie is promised to another and Lizzie believes that Captain Jones is married.  In fact, his wife and daughter have passed away while he was gone fighting.  Will Lizzie be able to navigate her future through promises made, principals held, and love?

With This Pledge was excellently written.  In particular the horror of dealing with the aftermath of the battle at a temporary Confederate hospital was riveting in its detail.  I even dreamed about it at night.  I loved how Lizzie’s faith did play a part in her actions and ideals.  This is a Christian and clean novel, a fact I appreciated.  The story focused on the characters and the brutality of war.  It was a great Civil War Novel.  I didn’t know anything about this battle and appreciated at the end that much of the story was based on real letters.  It was fascinating.

Favorite Quotes:
“Don’t see this as a victory, ma’am.  That pledge you made has likely sentenced one of the finest soldiers I’ve ever known to an agonizing death.”

“From the moment he’d learned about Mississippi seceding from the union, he’d known he would take up arms.  What honorable man wouldn’t defend his state, his home and land, his family?  But while he was away defending them from the Federals, another enemy, unseen and even stealthier, had invaded their home and stolen his life away.  He squeezed his eyes tight, the mixture of anger and loss causing them to burn.  Brief couple with regret had a way of bending even the strongest man’s knees, and there were moments, like now, when eh was certain he’d be crushed beneath the weight of it.”

“Seeing herself and her abundance of blessings in light of others and their lack carved out a deeper awareness inside her, and a depth of appreciation she’d not known rushed in to fill the space.”

“No, sir.  Real heroes are the ones who do what’s right even when no one’s looking, and who give up something for someone else even when it costs them dearly.”

Overall, With This Pledge is a fascinating look into history at a major civil war battle, its aftermath, and the struggles one woman faces with her pledges of loyalty.

Book Source:  Review Copy for being a part of the TLC Book Tour.  Thank-you!

For more stops on the TLC Book Tour check out this link.

The Accidental Further Adventures of the 100-Year-Old Man by Jonas Jonasson (TLC Book Tour)

Looking for a book full of humor to relieve the winter doldrums?  The Accidental Further Adventures of the 100-Year-Old Man may be the book for you.  I’ll admit, I have not read the first book The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared, but I want to after reading this.

Allan Karlsson is a Swedish 100-year old man living a life of luxury in Indonesia with his friend, petty thief Julius Johnsson.  They are using a briefcase full of cash they found (probably in the first book).  As the cash runs out, they are wondering what their next adventure will be.  At Allan’s 101st birthday party, they accidentally set sail over the ocean in a hot air balloon.  They are rescued after they go down by a North Korean freighter carrying grain and uranium back to North Korea.  Allan has had run ins with North Korea in the past and decides to bluff his way through as a nuclear arms expert . . . which is the start of a very complicated diplomatic crisis!  How will Allan and Julius survive this adventure?

I’ll admit with the Government shut-down and everything, the last thing I wanted to read was political humor where President Trump was a key player . . . yet this book really drew me in and kept me reading and laughing.  Especially as the humor was so pointed and only too true (see my favorite quotes below).  Although I’ll admit on the other hand it made me sad to really realize that our country is the laughing stock of the world (the author of this book is Swedish and lives on an island off Sweden).  I was happy that other countries and their leaders were mocked as well. 

Do you like political humor?  What books make you laugh?

Favorite Quotes:
“Yes, Julius had heard of Trump.  That was his name.  The polar bear may have been white, but it was a foreigner first and foremost. So, it shouldn’t get its hopes up.”

“The encrypted report from the captain of the Honour and Strength was absolutely sensational.  Kim Jong-un read it himself and drew his own conclusions.  He had certain similarities to Trump in Washington in that he was reluctant to delegate his tasks in his administration.  With the possible difference that Trump drew conclusions without doing the actual reading.”

“It’s easy for someone who trusts only themselves to become suspicious of others.”

“Thus counted, the president had lied, made things up or twisted the truth about the former president’s healthcare reform at least sixty times.  And when he expressed himself about the tax burden in the United States it had gone wrong 140 times, even though he was corrected on occasion.  Fake media were, once and for all, evil personified.”

Overall, The Accidental Further Adventures of the 100-Year-Old Man by Jonas Jonasson is a funny, very on point to today’s headlines, adventure.  I need to read more from this author.

Book Source:  Review Copy from William Morrow.  Thank-you!

For more stops on the TLC Book Tour and more information about this novel check out this link.

Winner of The Gown by Jennifer Robson

The winner of the giveaway for The Gown by Jennifer Robson is Theresa N. who left a comment on January 25th.  She was chosen using and has been notified via email.  She has one week to send me her mailing address so I can get the book mailed her way.

Thank-you to all who entered the giveaway, Jennifer Robson for writing a fabulous book, William Morrow for providing a review copy and an extra book for a giveaway, and TLC Book Tours for allowing me to be a part of the tour.  The Gown was a marvelous novel.  To read more about it, please check out my review at this link.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ready Player One was selected as one of the 100 Great American Reads last year by voters on PBS last fall.  With the movie out last year as well, I was curious about this book.  To move it up my reading list, I chose it as the book my husband and I would read for couples’ book club. Rogue Book Club (AKA FLICKS Book and Movie Club) tried something new this month.  We invited the husbands and had a dinner together.  Couples were supposed to read a book together and discuss the book.  Ben and I were the only couple that discussed our book, so I’m not sure if this really worked . . . but as a social gathering it worked great.

Ben and I are both fans of post-apocalyptic /dystopian fiction so Ready Player One appealed to both of us. This book was also written with both us in mind as we are nerds that grew up in the 1980’s.  I loved the numerous 1980’s cultural references as did my husband.  I was not a videogame player, so he caught more of those references than I did.  We watched the movie last summer with our family and we all enjoyed it.  The book is very different from the movie, but I thought the differences worked well.  The book spends much more time building the world up.  The book is action packed, but the action would not have transferred well to the big screen as most of it involved playing arcade or computer video games so I’m glad they made changes for the movie.

Wade Watts is a teenager is a post-apocalyptic Kansas City.  The world is a dire place to live after an energy crisis, nuclear warfare, and environmental disasters.  Most people zone out and live in the virtual “OASIS.”  Watts spends most of his time there including attending school.  What he really enjoys and obsesses over is trying to solve the riddle of the creator of the Oasis’ final challenge.  Whoever can master the challenge will automatically be the heir of James Halliday’s estate.  Will Wade be able to solve the challenge before the evil “sixers” do?

This is a book where you can’t think too much about what caused the apocalypse or how the world is built as it doesn’t really make sense.  My husband is a structural engineer and had a real hard time with the towers of trailers.  Why would they need to be built and why?  It doesn’t make much sense.

This book would be a perfect read for my 12-year-old son except for a brief section in the middle of the novel.  Wade has locked himself alone in an apartment and is an 18-year old male.  He goes through phase of having virtual sex with a robot doll (the doll is real) through a simulation on the OASIS.  There is also a lot of talk of masturbation and pornography.  This section really served no purpose and I wish it wasn’t in the book. This would lead to some awkward conversations from my son who at this point runs away during movies when the two leads even kiss . . . it was disappointing as otherwise this book would be appropriate for him.  I’ll wait a couple of more years before recommending it to him.

Ready Player One is a good action novel and is very entertaining, but I don’t believe this novel will stand the test of time.  The 1980’s cultural references work well for someone who grew up during that time period and was a nerd that loved Star Wars, Star Trek, movies, ads, shows, and products of that time.  Will my grandchildren understand these references?  They provide a lot of humor and background for the plot.  You would be missing a lot if you don’t understand the references.  I do think the message of a virtual world being fun, but not real is played out well throughout the novel as you can see in my favorite quotes below.

Favorite Quotes:
“You could log in and instantly escape the drudgery of your day-to-day life.  You could create an entirely new persona for yourself, with complete control over how you looked and sounded to others.  In the OASIS, the fat could become thin, the ugly could become beautiful, and the shy, extroverted.”

“Standing there, under the bleak fluorescents of my tiny one-room apartment, there was no escaping the truth.  In real life, I was nothing but an antisocial hermit.  A recluse.  A pale-skinned pop culture-obsessed geek.  An agoraphobic shut-in, with no real friends, family, or genuine human contact.  I was just another sad, lost, lonely soul, wasting his life on a glorified videogame.”

“I created the OASIS because I never felt at home in the real world.  I didn’t know how to connect with the people there.  I was afraid, for all of my life.  Right up until I knew it was ending.  That was when I realized, as terrifying and painful as reality can be, it’s also the only place where you can find true happiness.  Because reality is real.  Do you understand?”

Overall, Ready Player One is an entertaining adventure.

Book Source:  I purchased Ready Player One on