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Category Archives: 2017 Pop Sugar Reading Challenge

The Pitbull Dog Breed: A Comprehensive Pitbull Owner’s Manual, Including Breed Specific Techniques by Edward Stenson

The Pitbull Dog Breed: A Comprehensive Pitbull Owner’s Manual, Including Breed Specific Techniques by Edward Stenson

I actually found this book to be somewhat pointless. It’s only 40 pages long (which I didn’t realize when I bought it offline). The book gives you a brief overview of the breed history and breed characteristics. It gives the general training methods for the five basic commands, not breed specific. You can find the same instruction in any training manual. That’s pretty much all, there isn’t any depth to the book. It’s literally just an overview. I have no idea why it’s labeled “comprehensive owner’s manual”. As a new pitbull owner I was really hoping for more. There are better books out there – I found them. Some are much more in-depth on the training side and some much more in-depth on the history side but most fall into a good mix that’s more than just an overview.

My rating:

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And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

My husband and I listened to The Orient Express last year and it made me realize how much I liked Agatha Christie. Her Ms. Marple series and And Then There Were None have been on my TBR list for a while. When we had another trip last week, we downloaded And Then There Were None to listen to on the way. I am no longer surprised by how great her books are.

The story begins describing the journey of eight people as they travel to Soldier Island. Each person got a letter from someone they knew inviting them to spend a week for various reasons. Each person accepted. When they arrive at the island they find a butler and a maid…but no one else. There hosts are not there. Just after dinner, the group gathers in the parlor for after dinner drinks. A mysterious voice booms into the quiet room accusing all ten people in the house of a murder. Shortly after, people begin to die and not die simply. Their deaths follow a pattern set forth in the poem Ten Little Soldier Boys poem that is posted throughout the house. What follows is a series of confessions, old memories, deaths, suspicion, and confusion. The book is so well written it is difficult to determine who the killer is and why. You learn all the stories of the accused crimes and determine for yourself if they are guilty or not.

The characters are well developed and thought out. Even the characters who die early you still get a really good feel for who they are. The background stories are interesting and give a great depth to the story line. You never feel like you are back in time reliving the events, but are getting a synopsis from the people that were there with all the emotion and clarity they choose to offer. This makes the retelling even more interesting as each one has been accused of murder. To be able to see if each character views him or herself as guilty is fascinating. Furthermore, you get to see how fear and suspicion affect people in a given situation. The things people do and the way they change under stress and constant fear was very interesting to see as well. I actually think the ending was the most brilliant part.

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes murder mysteries or wants to get in to mysteries. It’s a completely clean book – no sex, no drug usage, no foul language, and the murders almost all occur ‘off screen’; the ones you do read are not gruesome, cruel, of violent in any way. The language is interesting without being confusing. The mix of characters unique and adds to the story. All-in-all are wonderful read.

My rating:

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The Night is Mine (Night Stalkers #1) by M. L. Buchman

The Night is Mine (Night Stalkers #1) by M. L. Buchman

This is the first book in M. L. Buchman’s Night Stalker series. I’ve actually read the whole series, but reviewed very few of the books. The series is based on the best helicopter fighting squad in the Army that runs missions at night in the dangerous Hindu Kush Mountain range on the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan. The information you learn is actually pretty cool, but it is a side benefit of the different story lines.

The book is about the first female in the SOAR program (the helicopter squad that flies at night). Captain Emily Beale grew up in Washington and joined the Army out of college and has been flying ever since. She is the first woman to break into the most elite squad there is. Shortly after she joins this amazing squad, she is pulled out on a secret mission to the White House. Here childhood crush is the current President and she is instructed to look after his wife, the First Lady, as it appears someone is trying to kill her. She is followed by her commanding officer, Major Mark Henderson, known as the Viper for his hard ass skills and amazing flying. The two develop a relationship throughout the story that is both interesting and unique.

This is one of my favorite books in the series. I come back to it again and again when I need something interesting to read. The story line is full of twists, turns, surprises, and emotional drama. However, it’s not the annoying, unnecessary emotional drama that a lot of romance books are filled with. All the emotional turmoil in the book is developed well and makes logical sense. The information you learn about different aspects of the White House, Secret Service, the Army, and helicopter flying are interesting, but I’m sure it’s mostly just basic information that anyone can discover easily. The characters are well-developed and work perfectly with the story. Most of them are easy to image or relate to, which is really great.  Almost all the characters you meet again later on in their own books or novellas of the series.

If you like military romance or romantic suspense this is a great book to go with in order to kick off the series. I’d also recommend it if you like romance, but it definitely isn’t a light-hearted book or an easy read. However, I find it is totally worth the read if you enjoy a good story.

My rating:

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Penelope (Fairweather Sisters #1) by Anya Wylde

Penelope (Fairweather Sisters #1) by Anya Wylde

I picked this book up because it said it was a clean historical romantic comedy, which I am finding I like greatly. I have to say it is exactly as advertised. It takes place in the early 1800s and is a really good historical romance. I have to say it is one of the few books that has made me laugh out loud while I was reading multiple times. I really is worth the read.

The story follows Penelope, a country bumpkin from a small town in the rural country. Penelope’s mother died when she was very young, but not before extracting a promise from a Duchess to look after her daughter. The dowager takes Penelope under her wing and brings Penelope to her son’s,the Duke’s, London home. The hilarity starts as soon as Penelope arrives, hours late, soaking wet, and in the company of her pet goat. Mishap after mistake after accident follow as the young girl tries to bloom into a young woman. She annoys and angers the duke at every turn, embarrasses her friend, and has run-ins with thieves and highwaymen. Throw in a few more interesting characters and you have a wonderful, light-hearted read that is worth the time.

The characters are well-developed and completely relateable. My biggest complaint is the grammar issues, of which there are several. The storyline was smooth and didn’t drag.  It was predictable but definitely has enough twists and turns to keep it interesting. The love story could have used a little more work, but it added to the comedy in places. The length was good and fit well with the story. The story was only told from Penelope’s point of view except for a couple places that are from the Duke’s. Having more of the Duke’s perspective could have helped, but for this story it wasn’t necessary. I highly recommend this to anyone who likes historical romance.

My rating:

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Christmas at Steel Beach (Night Stalkers #9) by M. L. Buchman

Christmas at Steel Beach (Night Stalkers #9) by M. L. Buchman

This is actually the second or third time I’ve read this book. It’s more of a novella and an add-on to the Night Stalkers series. I love the Night Stalker series and this book is about people connected to the Night Stalkers and not actually members.

The story follows Chief Steward Gail Miller as she assumes her new post as head chef on the Navy vessel currently housing the SOAR 5D division (though she doesn’t actually know that).The love interest is Chief Petty Officer Sly Stowell who is craftmaster of the ship’s hovercraft. Gail arrives to a kitchen in shambles and ends up in an accidental volunteer position on an active mission. While she is trying re-sort the kitchen, she is forming relationships with Sly and the women of SOAR. Her settling in is upended when she is faced with a man from her past waving an interesting transfer in front of her that may open up new ways to reach a dream she has. In the end, it is up to her whether to take the transfer or stay in her new home.

I love this book. It is short but full of life. The interactions between the characters are so believable and interesting. It is always fun to read how M. L. Buchman develops his characters emotionally. The book isn’t packed full of battle sequences but it definitely feels like everything moves along very well and in a regular speed. Your interest is kept throughout and there isn’t anywhere that it drags along. I highly recommend it for a short military romance read, a must read for anyone who likes the Night Stalkers series, or a fun Christmas read for anyone looking.

My rating:

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Books Over 800 Pages

Since one of my challenges is to read a book over 800 pages, I have compiled a list. I didn’t include listings that were multiple books (such as a trilogy that is over 800 pages). I went from shortest to longest. All page counts are from Goodreads.

Books Set During War Time

Since one of my challenges for this year is to read a novel set during wartime, I put together a list of some of the most recommended books to read that are set during wartime.

Civil War

  • Killer Angels by Michael Shaara
  • North and South by John Jakes
  • Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  • The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane
  • The Widow of the South by Robert Hicks
  • Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier

World War I

  • All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
  • A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
  • Regeneration by Pat Barker
  • Birdsong by Sebastian Faulk

World War II

  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusack
  • Night by Elie Wiesel
  • Sophie’s Choice by William Styron.
  • The Boy in the Stripped Pajamas by John Boyne
  • Empire of the Sun by J. G. Ballard
  • Atonement by Ian McEwan
  • Austerlitz by W. G. Sebald
  • Catch 22 by Joseph Heller
  • The Last Train to Istanbul by Ayse Kulin
  • Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
  • Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum

Korean War & Vietnam

  • The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
  • The Quiet American by Graham Greene
  • The Hunters by James Salter
  • MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors by Richard Hooker

Wars in the Middle East

  • A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Housseini
  • The Kite Runner by Khaled Housseini
  • Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain

Other Wars in Europe

  • War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
  • For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
  • Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
  • Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell

Cold War

  • The Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy

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