Category Archives: book reviews

Review: Nowhere but Home

nowhere but homeNowhere but Home by Liza Palmer

Publisher: William Morrow

Ratings: 4 stars

Source: Publisher

Queenie Wake, a country girl from North Star, Texas, has just been fired from her job as a chef for not allowing a customer to use ketchup. Again. Now the only place she has to go is home to North Star. She can hope, maybe things will be different. Maybe her family’s reputation as those Wake women will have been forgotten. It’s been years since her mother-notorious for stealing your man, your car, and your rent money-was killed. And her sister, who as a teenager was branded as a gold-digging harlot after having a baby with local golden boy Wes McKay, is now the mother of the captain of the high school football team. It can’t be that bad…

Who knew that people in small town Texas had such long memories? And of course Queenie wishes that her memory were a little spottier when feelings for her high school love, Everett Coburn, resurface. He broke her heart and made her leave town-can she risk her heart again?

At least she has a new job-sure it’s cooking last meals for death row inmates but at least they don’t complain!

But when secrets from the past emerge, will Queenie be able to stick by her family or will she leave home again? A fun-filled, touching story of food, football, and fooling around.

As a native Texan, I love reading books that take place in Texas. So I was really excited to dive into Nowhere but Home by Liza Palmer and I wasn’t a bit disappointed by the book.

Nowhere but Home is a heartwarming, moving, and sweet little book that follows Queenie Wake on her misadventures and her ups and downs through life. Queenie is an excellent chef that has bounced around the country being fired from one job and then another not due to her inability to cook, but due to her inability to keep quiet. Queenie is opinionated about the food she cooks and she refuses to compromise her cooking to please the customers.

Having nowhere to go but home, Queenie returns to Texas and finds a job cooking the last meal for inmates on death row. After returning home, she has to learn to deal with her past and reputation while rekindling her relationship with her sister and nephew as well as a former lover.

It was fun and entertaining to read about her as she tries to figure out the next step in her life. I think one of the reasons why I enjoyed this book so much was because it was so easy to relate to Queenie. In one way or another, we’re all trying to find our place in this world and figure out what we’re supposed to be doing with our lives. Queenie is far from perfect, but she was witty, sarcastic, and fun to follow.

Nowhere but Home is the perfect beach read and one I would recommend to anyone looking for a fast and fun read.

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Review: The Fault in Our Stars

The-Fault-In-Our-Stars-by-John-GreenThe Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Publisher: Dutton Juvenile

Ratings: 4.5 stars

Source: Borrowed

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.

Do you know how sometimes you read a really great book and then you sit down to write the review and you’re completely at a loss for words. That’s how I feel about this book. I’m not even sure where to begin or how to start telling everyone how incredible this book was.

I absolutely love John Green! And The Fault in Our Stars is another beautifully written book by him. Of course after reading both Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars I have to wonder why all of his books have to be so depressing! I borrowed The Fault in Our Stars from one of my friends and in the meantime I let her borrow Looking for Alaska. When she gave me back my book, she told me she wasn’t reading another book by John Green because she was tired of reading all these depressing books.

Hopefully I haven’t scared you away from reading this book with that kind of introduction because this was really a wonderful book that I just couldn’t put down. Who would have thought a book about a bunch of teenagers with cancer would have me laughing so much? I laughed, fell in love with the characters, and cried right alongside them. It was moving and entertaining, deep yet light hearted, and just pulled me in all sorts of direction as I read it. John Green truly takes you on quite a journey as you follow Hazel around and meet an assortment of wonderful characters.

I’m sure you’ve realized by now that I’m not articulate enough to put into words how much I highly recommend everyone to read The Fault in Our Stars. So I’ll keep this review short and sweet and just say that if you haven’t read this book yet, then you should add it to your TBR pile as soon as possible. It’s one book you don’t want to miss.

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Review: Ender’s Game

ender's gameEnder’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Publisher: Tor Books

Ratings: 4.5 stars

Source: Purchased

In order to develop a secure defense against a hostile alien race’s next attack, government agencies breed child geniuses and train them as soldiers. A brilliant young boy, Andrew “Ender” Wiggin lives with his kind but distant parents, his sadistic brother Peter, and the person he loves more than anyone else, his sister Valentine. Peter and Valentine were candidates for the soldier-training program but didn’t make the cut—young Ender is the Wiggin drafted to the orbiting Battle School for rigorous military training.

Ender’s skills make him a leader in school and respected in the Battle Room, where children play at mock battles in zero gravity. Yet growing up in an artificial community of young soldiers Ender suffers greatly from isolation, rivalry from his peers, pressure from the adult teachers, and an unsettling fear of the alien invaders. His psychological battles include loneliness, fear that he is becoming like the cruel brother he remembers, and fanning the flames of devotion to his beloved sister.

I’m probably one of the few people that did not read Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card as a teenager. I saw the trailer for the movie that is coming out later this year and just knew I had to read the book before I saw the movie and boy am I happy I did. This was one of those books that as soon as I finished reading it, I wanted to hunt down all the other books in the series and read those books too.

This book was simply incredible and I’m still quite shock I have never picked up this book before. Ender is a delightful and interesting character to follow. I was really surprise to learn that he was only 6 years old at the beginning of the book and he was expected to save the world. Talk about putting pressure on children. It was also shocking to see how mature he was for his age and how quickly he was forced to grow up at the Battle School.

This book had everything you would ever want in a great book. It had incredible characters from Ender to Bean to Petra as well as Peter and Valentine back on earth. I love reading about the camaraderie and friendship that developed between the characters. The plot is interesting and it keeps you on your toes. I was completely caught off guard by what happened in the end.

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card is a book I would highly recommend for all. It has wonderful and well developed characters, adventure, politics, conflict, pretty much everything but the kitchen sink. I absolutely can’t wait for the movie to come out.

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Review: Outlaw Platoon

outlaw platoonOutlaw Platoon by Sean Parnell

Publisher: William Morrow

Ratings: 5 stars

Source: Publisher

At twenty-four years of age, U.S. Army Ranger Sean Parnell was named commander of a forty-man elite infantry platoon, the 10th Mountain Division—a unit that came to be known as the Outlaws. Tasked with rooting out Pakistan-based insurgents from a valley in the Hindu Kush, Parnell assumed they would be facing a ragtag bunch of civilians until, in May 2006, a routine patrol turned into a brutal ambush. Through sixteen months of combat, the platoon became Parnell’s family. The cost of battle was high for these men. Not all of them made it home, but for those who did, it was the love and faith they found in one another that ultimately kept them alive.

When my friends saw me carrying around Outlaw Platoon by Sean Parnell they couldn’t help but mention how wide my tastes in books are. One day you can see me carrying around a fun and fluffy chick lit novel and the next day you can see me carrying around a serious war novel. I have to admit after reading Matterhorn (one of my all time favorite books!), my interest in war novels increased greatly. Therefore, when I was given the opportunity to review this book I knew I just had to jump on ship for it and boy am I glad I did.

Parnell’s novel is an excellent book that gives you a small taste of what happened during the war in Afghanistan. I guess one of the reasons I have such an interest in reading war books, especially nonfiction war books is because these are the stories that are not told in history books. We all took history growing up and we learned about the wars and the battles and the winners and losers, but we didn’t get the behind the scene story that you get when you read a memoir written by someone who experienced the situation himself.

I love reading these books because it’s the untold story that everyone needs to know. Can you imagine being 24 and leading a whole platoon? Parnell is the same age I am today when he was put in charge and became responsible for 40 men. Every time I read one of these books I’m always shocked and surprised by how young these men are and how mature they are for their age.

As I turned the pages in this book, my appreciation for the armed forces grew larger and larger. My heart broke for them as I read the hardships and obstacles they had to overcome. I was amazed by their determination and willingness to continue to serve their country. Many of these men ignored their own personal injuries and refused to be evacuated because they couldn’t live with the option of leaving their fellow soldiers behind. It was amazing to read about the bonds of brotherhood forged between these men and how they really became a family for one another.

I highly recommend the Outlaw Platoon by Sean Parnell because it contains all the stories that you won’t get from reading history books or CNN news. Parnell takes you on quite an adventure as he retells his tour in Afghanistan and recounts the bravery, brotherhood, and treachery of war

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Review: A Land More Kind than Home

alandmorekindthanhomeA Land More Kind than Home by Wiley Cash

Publisher: William Morrow

Ratings: 4.5 stars

Source: Publisher

For a curious boy like Jess Hall, growing up in Marshall means trouble when you get caught spying on grown-ups. Adventurous and precocious, Jess is protective of his older brother, Christopher, a mute whom everyone calls Stump. Though their mother has warned them not to snoop, Stump can’t help sneaking a look at something he’s not supposed to—an act that will have repercussions. It’s a wrenching event that thrusts Jess into an adulthood for which he’s not prepared. He now knows that a new understanding can bring not only danger and evil—but also the possibility of freedom and deliverance.

A Land More Kind than Home by Wiley Cash has all the makings of a perfect southern novel with its mystery, history, and culture. Cash is a wonderful author and I absolutely fell in love with his writing. I’m excited to read his future works.

The mystery in A Land More Kind than Home isn’t quite a mystery and the readers learn quite quickly what has happened, but despite this, the story actually unfolds quite slowly and this gives the book a bit of southern charm in the slow way everything unfolds and is explained. The characters are given a chance to add great depth to the story by providing their own personal history to it. There are plenty of flashbacks that give the readers insight into the actions of the characters and how the narrators became the person they are today.

One of the reasons I really enjoyed reading this book was because of the journey it took me on. I’m sure every reader knew where the story was going within pages of starting this book, but for once, this book wasn’t about the destination, but rather the ride it took the readers on. I was enchanted by the world that Cash created and I was fully immersed in the lives of the characters. I never wanted to stop turning the pages.

A Land More Kind than Home is a book I would recommend to those who are looking for a good Southern novel to read. The pace is slow, but the story and writing are amazing!

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