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Ambrosia's bookshelf: currently-reading

The Temptation of the Night Jasmine
tagged: currently-reading
At the King's Pleasure
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2018 Reading Challenge

2018 Reading Challenge
Ambrosia has read 1 book toward her goal of 26 books.
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Posted by on October 17, 2018

 

Ever since a devastating nuclear war, humanity has lived on spaceships far above Earth’s radioactive surface. Now, one hundred juvenile delinquents — considered expendable by society — are being sent on a dangerous mission: to recolonize the planet. It could be their second chance at life…or it could be a suicide mission.

CLARKE was arrested for treason, though she’s haunted by the memory of what she really did. WELLS, the chancellor’s son, came to Earth for the girl he loves — but will she ever forgive him? Reckless BELLAMY fought his way onto the transport pod to protect his sister, the other half of the only pair of siblings in the universe. And GLASS managed to escape back onto the ship, only to find that life there is just as dangerous as she feared it would be on Earth.

Confronted with a savage land and haunted by secrets from their pasts, the hundred must fight to survive. They were never meant to be heroes, but they may be mankind’s last hope.

You are about to read a sentence that I have never written before (that I can recall) and most likely will not do so again. Don’t bother with the book at all and stick with the TV series. Honestly, I feel like I am saving you time here. Normally when you read a book you get more detail than you could ever hope to get on screen. I mean I don’t know a single reader that hasn’t said a book they love should have been turned into a 12 hour epic that covers everything. That is so very much not the case with this book.

The pacing is wrong, the focus is wrong and I just want to slap some of the characters so hard. Where as on the show sure I want to smack a few characters, but I understand the motivation the have, I feel invested and I get more details. The book really just seems to fall truly and epicly flat. This is a series about humanity. It makes sure to show us the best and the worst, the human strength and the human weakness. The book just misses that mark very epicly. The book seems to dance around and focus more on all of the shitty things that we do for love. I mean it is true, we do a lot of stupid things for love that is human nature. I just don’t like that focus, like it is trying to be a romance novel and it doesn’t need all of that. There is plenty of love that happens without needing to focus on it. So my bottom line, watch the show and enjoy that and save your time don’t, read the book.

My Gemstone Rating:

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Posted by on August 3, 2018

It was a dark and stormy night; Meg Murry, her small brother Charles Wallace, and her mother had come down to the kitchen for a midnight snack when they were upset by the arrival of a most disturbing stranger.

“Wild nights are my glory,” the unearthly stranger told them. “I just got caught in a downdraft and blown off course. Let me be on my way. Speaking of way, by the way, there is such a thing as a tesseract”.

Meg’s father had been experimenting with this fifth dimension of time travel when he mysteriously disappeared. Now the time has come for Meg, her friend Calvin, and Charles Wallace to rescue him. But can they outwit the forces of evil they will encounter on their heart-stopping journey through space?

I have always loved A wrinkle in time and when the movie was getting ready to come out I knew it was time for another read. I mean, how could I miss Chris Pine as Doctor Murray right? Anyways, back to the book.

For me this book is just something enjoyable to read, like going into a familiar world where I might know how it is going to end, but I am okay with that, because I find something different every time I read it. The story has so many different layers and so much to discover. There is something about this book that still to this day gives me a sense of wonder, I can read it and just feel transfixed. This book is one of the books that inspired me to write, to write poetry and stories and just about anything. Reading it again helped me to break through some block that I had going on when I read it. It is just that kind of book for me. I might even read it a second time for the year to try and break through things once again. I know some read this book again when they become adults and don’t feel the same way, but for me this is one of those books that I believe will always give me that special kind of wonderment and remind me why I wanted to write down things to start with. At least I hope it will be that way, because being an adult is tough enough most of the time, losing something that holds a child’s wonder to it would make it that much harder. Sorry for the bit of floaty, dreamy review on this one, I’ll blame the book for it.

My Gemstone Rating:

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Posted by on January 5, 2018

‘Let him feel that he is one of us; once fill his mind with the idea that he has been a thief, and he’s ours, – ours for his life!’

The story of the orphan Oliver, who runs away from the workhouse only to be taken in by a den of thieves, shocked readers when it was first published. Dickens’s tale of childhood innocence beset by evil depicts the dark criminal underworld of a London peopled by vivid and memorable characters — the arch-villain Fagin, the artful Dodger, the menacing Bill Sikes and the prostitute Nancy. Combining elements of Gothic Romance, the Newgate Novel and popular melodrama, in Oliver Twist Dickens created an entirely new kind of fiction, scathing in its indictment of a cruel society, and pervaded by an unforgettable sense of threat and mystery.

This is the first critical edition to use the serial text of 1837-9, presenting Oliver Twist as it appeared to its earliest readers. It includes Dickens’s 1841 introduction and 1850 preface, the original illustrations and a glossary of contemporary slang.

Ah Oliver Twist is truly one of the classics and for me it was a fun re-read. I really enjoyed this book when I read it for school and when I read it a few years ago and I enjoyed it again when I read it this time. It always takes a little bit of time to get into it, classics are written so differently but after the first chapter or 2 I always settle in and really enjoy it.

Dickens wrote so vividly and when you read his work, getting into it you can really get a full sense of what it must have been like to live and be in that time. The conditions were so horrible and what people had to go through just to live. Of course if one looks around society today it is not hard to see a lot of the gaps starting to widen again and we may be headed towards another version of this, that is scary too. All we need is the work houses.

There isn’t much to give away on this one it is a classic and has movies and musicals and all the rest done about it so everyone seems to know about Oliver Twist. If you like classics you will probably like Oliver Twist, if you don’t you probably won’t.

My Gemstone Rating:

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Posted by on January 1, 2018

Stephen Lewis, a successful writer of children’s books, is confronted with the unthinkable: his only child, three-year-old Kate, is snatched from him in a supermarket. In one horrifying moment that replays itself over the years that follow, Stephen realizes his daughter is gone.With extraordinary tenderness and insight, Booker Prize–winning author Ian McEwan takes us into the dark territory of a marriage devastated by the loss of a child. Kate’s absence sets Stephen and his wife, Julie, on diverging paths as they each struggle with a grief that only seems to intensify with the passage of time. Eloquent and passionate, the novel concludes in a triumphant scene of love and hope that gives full rein to the author’s remarkable gifts. The winner of the Whitbread Prize, The Child in Time is an astonishing novel by one of the finest writers of his generation.

Read this book in preparation for the made for TV movie with Benedict Cumberbatch. It is a great book but it is not one that is going to be for everyone. There are parts of it that are very slow and parts of it that are fast. It is one of those books that you really have to pay attention to while you read it. Also the bottom line of why many people don’t like this book is that you don’t get resolution with what happened to the daughter. The book isn’t meant to be about that, its about what Stephen goes through.

I don’t want to give away the entire book as usual I tend to ramble on a bit to much about complex books like this one and get some stank eye for it (no really I do, lol) but this book really is about the journey and heartache that Stephen takes when his daughter is taken. It is literally every parents worst nightmare and you go along with him through the process. It is a horrible and heart wrenching thing and that makes this book really really uncomfortable and that is also what makes this book really good. If you can handle the heart wrenching nature of the book and don’t mind a book that you really have to pay attention to detail with, this is going to be a read that you enjoy. You will feel like you went through the ringer when you finish, at least I did but it is a really good book.

My Gemstone Rating:

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Posted by on December 27, 2017

Sent back in time to Victorian England to stop the invention of a deadly weapon, Helen Foster knows the job looks too easy: All she has to do is go to an auction, buy the weapon plans, destroy them, and she’ll save millions of people back in her own time. And even if she spends the rest of her life as a spinster stuck in the English countryside with a plethora of cats, changing the future is worth it.

Then she meets Edward Clifton, Duke of Somervale, the man she’s supposed to blackmail. He is one of the most powerful men in the land, so handsome and cold that debutantes have been known to faint in his presence. After one meeting, Helen will be thrilled to never see his royal (and quite spectacular) backside, ever again.

But as her mission falls apart and danger closes in, Helen has no choice but to turn to the one man powerful enough to help her not just change the future, but survive the night.

This is one of my freebies that I got from Amazon, and honestly, I was not expecting too much from it. That said, I really enjoyed this book. It was a little bit short and there was some of it that didn’t really seem to fit together completely, but beyond that it’s a fun read and I have learned to accept that free reads are often going to be shorter. My biggest complaint is that the ending is really open. I am sure that was done on purpose so you will want to read the next book, but I don’t like books that literally feel like they end mid thought. Anyways, onto the book itself.

I don’t want to give spoilers away, but this is a really fun little romp. A strong fantastic woman from the future goes back to Victorian times when women had to act in a far different manner so she can save the world. I admire the bravery it took to go back to this time knowing full well that even if she succeeds in her mission, she would never see her home world again. Of course, everything has a wrench thrown in when the man she needs to blackmail the Duke of Somervale really isn’t so bad after all. Helen certainly has to make a lot of choices and finds herself in a lot of different pickles she didn’t expect. It was a bit of a lesson in how to not assume things will go like you think just because they look simple on the surface.

While I had a few issues with this book it was good enough to make me want to read the next one to see what happens. So I will be looking at the second installment and hopefully it will help me a bit with my closure issues.

My Gemstone Rating:

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Posted by on December 2, 2017

At not quite fifteen, Stefan’s father finally let him board the longship Sja Vinna to take part in his first Viking raid. Yet, the battle was not at all what he expected and he soon found himself alone and stranded in Scotland.

Thirteen-year-old Kannak’s problem was just as grave. Her father deserted them and the only way to survive, she decided, was to take a husband over her mother‘s objections. Suddenly she was helping a hated Viking escape. Could Kannak successfully hide a Viking in the middle of a Scottish Clan? And why was someone plotting to kill the clan’s beloved laird?

Tis the season where I try to play catch up on my reviews. My bad, again maybe 2018 will be better, LOL on the bright side I am not as behind on my reading as I was last year. Anyways to the review.

It took me a little while to get into this book, but once I did I was hooked. It was a freebie and really it shouldn’t have been, but a great way to get someone hooked for the series! The first chapter or so goes slow but don’t give up, trust me, you’ll get hooked and enjoy the read. Stefan takes such an interesting journey when he is stranded in Scotland, literally see’s his family everything he knows taken away. He has to find a way to live again. If that wasn’t entertaining enough, it gives you a strong female lead like Kannak who has to make her own hard life choices at a young age and one of those choices is hiding the Viking outsider in a Scottish Clan, I mean talk about a grown up choice for a young woman to make.

The story is an adventure and danger and a good dash of love involved. While the players may be young when we meet them, it’s important to remember that in the times of Vikings, life spans were shorter and so people grew up faster. It was a harsh time, with death and blood everywhere as the book shows us flat off and by the ongoing looming plot there is to kill the clans laird. I don’t want to give too much of the plot away because I think everyone who loves this genre should read this one and judge it for themselves, I promise you will be hooked and not that I would judge a book by it’s cover but look at the cover it’s a beauty! Honestly, that is what drew me in when I was browsing freebies on kindle that and because it was about one of my favorite groups of people Vikings. This is an interesting look into the life of the time, a time where things were very much influx interns of religion and how people were traveling. A time in life that was very unique.

My Gemstone Rating:

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Posted by on September 12, 2017

From acclaimed author Ellen Marie Wiseman comes a vivid, daring novel about the devastating power of family secrets–beginning in the poignant, lurid world of a Depression-era traveling circus and coming full circle in the transformative 1950s.

On a summer evening in 1931, Lilly Blackwood glimpses circus lights from the grimy window of her attic bedroom. Lilly isn’t allowed to explore the meadows around Blackwood Manor. She’s never even ventured beyond her narrow room. Momma insists it’s for Lilly’s own protection, that people would be afraid if they saw her. But on this unforgettable night, Lilly is taken outside for the first time–and sold to the circus sideshow.

More than two decades later, nineteen-year-old Julia Blackwood has inherited her parents’ estate and horse farm. For Julia, home was an unhappy place full of strict rules and forbidden rooms, and she hopes that returning might erase those painful memories. Instead, she becomes immersed in a mystery involving a hidden attic room and photos of circus scenes featuring a striking young girl.

At first, The Barlow Brothers’ Circus is just another prison for Lilly. But in this rag-tag, sometimes brutal world, Lilly discovers strength, friendship, and a rare affinity for animals. Soon, thanks to elephants Pepper and JoJo and their handler, Cole, Lilly is no longer a sideshow spectacle but the circus’s biggest attraction. . .until tragedy and cruelty collide. It will fall to Julia to learn the truth about Lilly’s fate and her family’s shocking betrayal, and find a way to make Blackwood Manor into a place of healing at last.

Moving between Julia and Lilly’s stories, Ellen Marie Wiseman portrays two extraordinary, very different women in a novel that, while tender and heartbreaking, offers moments of joy and indomitable hope.

First, I want to say thank you to Net Galley for letting me have an early copy of this book so I could review it.

The life she was given is a beautifully written story that spans generations, lives and shows what happens when families keep secrets. There are events in the book that are simply horrifying, but at the same time you can’t look away because the book holds your attention. This is a story that while I know it is fiction (some loosely based on real events) it is one that could be nonfiction, someone sharing the story of their family.

Lilly and Julia are both amazing characters that are well fleshed out and I could see them as I traveled back and forth between their stories. The change ups were nice and happened just about every chapter giving the book a smooth and easy rhythm that I appreciated. Some books that split between more than one POV can be very clunky and turn me off because I can’t settle into the story.

Life in the circus was not a good one back in the era this story is told in. Animal rights were pretty much nothing and rights for people not much better. Yet within the horror and the trauma, there is still love and hope to be found. That was the message that came out the strongest to me and it is a message I was happy to see in our world today that seems to be getting darker.

The only thing that kept me from making this one five stars is that for all its wonder and how good it was the story felt a little too close to Water for Elephants for me. I know it is not the same book and that often books set in the same time period risk being similar but there were certain parts I felt could have been directly inserted into Water for Elephants and not be noticed. That being said, the book is still a beautiful work that does tell its own story. So I would highly recommend you give this book a chance if you can because it is a story that will stay with you.

My Gemstone Rating:

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Posted by on April 5, 2017

THE PRINCE was written by Niccolo’ Machiavelli in the 1500s. It has continued to be a best seller in many languages. Presently, it is translated into modern English, with illustrations by Benjamin Martinez and an Introduction by Adolph Cso.

The Prince is a classic book that explores the attainment, maintenance, and utilization of political power in the western world. Machiavelli wrote The Prince to demonstrate his skill in the art of the state, presenting advice on how a prince might acquire and hold power. Machiavelli defended the notion of rule by force rather than by law. Accordingly, The Prince seems to rationalize a number of actions done solely to perpetuate power. It is an examination of power-its attainment, development, and successful use.

Ah yes, another Machiavellian text, what can I say I was in a mood to read the old classic. So many who pick up Machiavelli see his work as a general list of how to be a jackass while running whatever part of the world you are in. I see it as more than that, the bottom line and Machiavelli is so right in this that when you are governing there is no place for you to put your own stamp of moral thoughts onto events happening around you. Morality is a moving target and seen differently by everyone for one, then there is the simple fact that while we might wish to be idealistic, real life is rarely forgiving enough to allow that to happen.

Communism as an example, at it’s stripped down basic core is the desire to have everyone be equal and on the same level. Of course we know that is not how it worked when implemented at all. Those in power were still in power and would always set themselves above the others and punish anyone who thought differently in brutal fashion.

Or how about those Princes and Princesses who thought it was their good and moral duty to press upon the people they ruled over their own religious ideals and outlooks. Those who failed to conform were burned at the stake so that their soul could be cleansed from their sins as they left this earth and get into heaven. I am fairly sure those people would have rather not been burned at the stake.

This has been a bit of a rambling review, sorry about that the bottom line is that I find the Prince interesting reading and I don’t see Machiavelli or some of his views as evil. He makes many valid points that still ring as true today as they did in his time. As always, reading the Prince has got my mind thinking again and looking at past events as well as modern ones in a slightly more Machiavellian fashion.

My Gemstone Rating:

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Posted by on March 15, 2017

When he was a boy in Henning, Tennessee, Alex Haley’s grandmother used to tell him stories about their family—stories that went back to her grandparents, and their grandparents, down through the generations all the way to a man she called “the African.” She said he had lived across the ocean near what he called the “Kamby Bolongo” and had been out in the forest one day chopping wood to make a drum when he was set upon by four men, beaten, chained and dragged aboard a slave ship bound for Colonial America.

Still vividly remembering the stories after he grew up and became a writer, Haley began to search for documentation that might authenticate the narrative. It took ten years and a half a million miles of travel across three continents to find it, but finally, in an astonishing feat of genealogical detective work, he discovered not only the name of “the African”–Kunta Kinte—but the precise location of Juffure, the very village in The Gambia, West Africa, from which he was abducted in 1767 at the age of sixteen and taken on the Lord Ligonier to Maryland and sold to a Virginia planter.

Haley has talked in Juffure with his own African sixth cousins. On September 29, 1967, he stood on the dock in Annapolis where his great-great-great-great-grandfather was taken ashore on September 29, 1767. Now he has written the monumental two-century drama of Kunta Kinte and the six generations who came after him—slaves and freedmen, farmers and blacksmiths, lumber mill workers and Pullman porters, lawyers and architects—and one author.

But Haley has done more than recapture the history of his own family. As the first black American writer to trace his origins back to their roots, he has told the story of 25,000,000 Americans of African descent. He has rediscovered for an entire people a rich cultural heritage that slavery took away from them, along with their names and their identities. But Roots speaks, finally, not just to blacks, or to whites, but to all people and all races everywhere, for the story it tells is one of the most eloquent testimonials ever written to the indomitably of the human spirit.

As I have mentioned before in a small handful of reviews there are some books that will stay with you forever. I first read roots in High School and it has stayed with me since that time. It was not however, until 2017 that I actually picked it up again. With the excitement about the new mini series event it was hard not to pick this one up and see how I handled it now as an adult.

The book is still as it should be horrifying. What was done to a wonderful and amazing people should never have been done. Slavery the way it came to be in America is, there really are no words to properly state how I feel. I have always known it was bad but sometimes you have to look with the eyes of someone who has lived life a little longer to truly understanding just how bad. Kunta Kinte is a charismatic character that simply can’t be denied you feel his feelings and you truly seem as if you are right there with him as so much changes in his life.

I know there have been accusations that Haley plagiarized some of the book and I can’t say one way or another as I have not yet researched that. If he did, well shame on him I will never hold with stealing another writers work. With that said, I simply can’t knock the book down any ratings. I truly love and abhor this book all in one. I feel that abhorrence because of what was done to people, human beings being treated worse then animals and bred just like cattle or horses. Roots does and always will shine a light onto something that we American’s should never forget. It is a shameful thing that was done, but we must learn from history. So even if Haley did lift work from other authors the book for me still stands up as a meaningful must read.

My Gemstone Rating:

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Posted by on February 15, 2017

Follow the yellow brick road!

Dorothy thinks she’s lost forever when a tornado whirls her and her dog, Toto, into a magical world. To get home, she must find the wonderful wizard in the Emerald City of Oz. On the way she meets the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman and the Cowardly Lion. But the Wicked Witch of the West has her own plans for the new arrival – will Dorothy ever see Kansas again?

Every now and then I like to travel back to books that I loved when I was younger. When a new show that is based on an old favorite book I really want to read the book again, thanks to Emerald City I went back and read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The book is truly enjoyable and one of the reasons that I became such a fan of books along with some other classics of course.

The book is so much different then the classic Judy Garland film, it is darker and of course the slippers aren’t ruby at all but silver. There really isn’t much I can say about this book other then I enjoyed every page just like I did when I was a kid. It is a classic for a reason and as one of the earliest fantasy works you can really see how it plant the seeds in the genre. It might seem “trope” like to readers who are coming to it late in life or the younger generation but when it was written it really was something different. To me it stands the test of time even if it doesn’t to others. This will be one that I keep coming back to every now and then. Not much left to say because really I think almost everyone has read this one or at least knows a fair amount about it.

My Gemstone Rating:

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