Monday, June 29, 2015

Book Review: The Cave by Michela Montgomery

Kate is excited about a four-day hike through the Wind Cave in South Dakota. She's finally going to tell her mentor, Percy, how she feels about him. But Kate, Percy and the four others on their expedition have a lot more to think about than romance when a nuclear war breaks out above ground. Their four-day hike turns into a 30-day survival story.

The Cave (The Wind Cave Book 1) by Michela Montgomery is a mix of suspense and romance. At first, the hikers don't realize what has happened on the surface. They think the blast they felt was an explosion or an earthquake. But they soon realize that the most likely scenario is a nuclear bomb. Montgomery lets the reader in on what is actually happening outside the cave through brief visits with a terrorist who is involved in the attack. I thought this was an interesting way to give the reader a bit more information than the main characters, without getting into too much detail about the attack.

The storyline kept me going. There's a nice combination of action and introspection among the six characters who are stuck inside the cave. Their reactions seemed genuine, for the most part, as they contemplated what was happening to their families and friends, and what would be left for them when the finally surfaced. They are all college students and seemed to behave as I would expect them to. I enjoyed the suspense a bit more than the romance, and found that the love triangle overwhelmed the more serious aspect of the storyline a bit too much at times.

I'm curious enough to want to read the next book in this series when it comes out. There's a bit of a cliffhanger at the end of this one and I am anxious to see what Montgomery does next with these characters.

My rating: 3.5/5

Connect with the author on her website and Twitter

This review was based on a copy of The Cave that I received from Kelly & Hall Book Publicity in exchange for an honest review. This post includes Amazon Affiliate links. If you purchase something using my link, I will receive a very small commission but your price does not change.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Week in Review


It's been a couple weeks since my last Week in Review. Perhaps I need to change the name of these regular posts now that I don't seem to get them done every week! Since I last posted a review, I've been on a fabulous trip to Dominican Republic with my family. We had a great time relaxing at the pool and on the beach. And we all loved seeing the countryside on the excursion we took mid-week. I got a lot of reading done on the long flights too!

Reviews and Blog Posts
Preventing the Summer Slide: Keep Kids Learning All Summer Long
Book Review: Genius de Milo by Russ Colchamiro
Book Club Picks: World War II

Since my last update, I finished reading The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, Genius de Milo by Russ Colchamiro and The Cave (The Wind Cave Book 1) by Michela Montgomery.

I'm now reading Love and Miss Communication: A Novel by Elyssa Friedland.

C read two books on vacation: Belly Up (FunJungle) by Stuart Gibbs and Ungifted by Gordon Korman. He seemed to enjoy both of them and I'm hoping to get him to write a review of at least one soon. M just finished The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan. She had a hard time putting it down on vacation.

What are you reading this week?

Friday, June 26, 2015

Book Club Picks: World War II

Welcome to my weekly series: Book Club Picks. This week, I'm sharing some fiction and nonfiction books that all revolve around World War II. These books cover several different aspects of the war, from the Germans storming through Europe, to the Japanese in the Pacific, to the effect of the war on Japanese-Americans in the United States. Book clubs can explore the many ways this war impacted people around the entire world.

Note about the links below: My reviews do not include spoilers, but the discussion questions do. The book covers are Amazon Affiliate links. If you use those links to make a purchase, I will receive a very small commission but your price will remain the same.

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
Published November 2010; 473 pages
This nonfiction account of Louis Zamperini's experience during World War II is truly amazing. Book clubs can explore the details of the war in the Pacific and the role of the Japanese in the war. They can discuss Zamperini's resilience after a plane crash, being stuck on a life raft and then locked up in a POW camp. His life and experiences during the war will provide book clubs with plenty to talk about.
My review
Discussion questions

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pile Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Burrows
Published July 2008; 288 pages
This is a more lighthearted WWII novel than most, although it does feature some harsh, sad topics. The overall mood is lighter and the story is heartwarming. Book clubs can discuss how the people on the island of Guernsey persevered during the German occupation of their island. Discussion can also revolve around the writing style as the novel is composed entirely of letters. It also has a nice tie-in with book clubs since it is about a book club!
My review
Discussion questions

Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
Published September 2008; 320 pages
This is a painful novel to read, as it deals with the roundup of Jews in France and focuses mostly on the children. Book clubs can talk about France's involvement in the roundup, a topic that isn't addressed in many novels. Discussions can also revolve around the difficult topic of the children who were taken from their families and the atrocities they faced.
My review
Discussion questions

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
Published January, 2009; 304 pages
This novel takes us into the heart of Asian-Americans during World War II and the difficulties they faced as the Japanese became the most hated enemy of the country. Book clubs can discuss the way Japanese-Americans were treated at that time and the internment camps they were forced to live in. They can also talk about the struggles between different generations and their divergent beliefs. 
My review
Discussion questions

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak 
Published March, 2006; 560 pages
This young adult novel has become a popular WWII story. Told from the perspective of Death himself, this novel offers book clubs the chance to look into the lives of the Germans who were sympathetic to the Jews during the war. Book clubs can also discuss the many relationships between characters and the effect of the war on them. The writing style itself can also be discussed and critiqued.
My review
Discussion questions

Have you read any of these books about World War II? What are your favorites from this time in history?

Next week, I will be sharing some middle grade fiction books that would be great for a summer reading group for kids. Please let me know if you have suggestions for other topics to cover, or if you would like to write a guest post for my Book Club Picks series. I'd love to hear about your book club or your favorite books for discussion!

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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Book Review: Genius de Milo by Russ Colchamiro

The Minder of the Universe has a problem. Earth is fluxing in and out of existence, and it seems the universe's ultimate gremlin, Milo, is responsible. Meanwhile on Earth, Jason Medley and Theo Barnes are finally meeting up again a few years after a crazy adventure in New Zealand involving a jar of Cosmic Building Material nearly destroyed the universe.

Genius de Milo by Russ Colchamiro is a wild, trippy, bizarre novel that left my brain in a bit of a flux at times! It's the second book in a series, and while it does stand alone, I would have enjoyed it more had I read the first book, Finders Keepers. Once I got used to the style and the characters, I definitely enjoyed the ride. Although different than my typical reading choices, this was a fun change and a good summer read.

Another reviewer equated Genius de Milo with the film Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, and I think that's a great comparison. Most of the characters spend a lot of time either drunk or high or having a good time in other ways. While the Earth is in danger of disintegrating, and several characters are truly trying to stop that from happening, no one ever seems overly concerned. Laid back is a good word for most of the characters!

I liked the different perspectives, from Jason and Theo, to Jamie who comes to Earth from Eternity to find her brother and try to stop the destruction of the planet, to Emma who was banished to Earth after trying to name a planet after herself. It's a lot of silliness and fun, but the storyline holds together from start to finish and some of the characters do grow and experience deeper emotions.

If you're looking for something very quirky and unusual, check out Genius de Milo (or perhaps start with Finders Keepers). It's a fun ride!

Connect with Russ Colchamiro on his website, Facebook or Twitter.

This review was written based on a copy of Genius de Milo that I received from Pump Up Your Book in exchange for an honest review. This post includes Amazon Affiliate links. If you purchase something using my link, I will receive a very small commission but your price does not change.