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Sheila

Sheila's Reads

I love to read. I am very eclectic in my reading but I especially enjoy erotica and erotic romance. I also like movies, live theater and concerts, hockey, and counted cross-stitch.

WISH UPON A STAR by Cassandra Bishop

Wish Upon a Star - Cassandra Bishop

Jane is an image consultant and Hank is the astrophysicist she is to make over if he hopes to win the coveted Beresford Prize. Along the way they both are attracted to each other but Jane tries to deny it to keep her heart from breaking.

 

I liked the story but I hated that Jane kept putting herself down because she was once "plain." She loses weight and changes her outside appearance but her self-esteem needs a lot of work. I liked that Hank pushed her on it but he was not subtle or nice about it. I did understand him though because Jane constantly wore a mask so it was hard to get to know her. I realize this book is 35 years old but how far have we come from the stereotype that women need to be thin and beautiful before someone will love them? I hope that Jane finds acceptance in herself so she can be herself. Her friend Pam put it very nicely towards the end of the book. I hope Jane listens to Pam.

 

I am glad that more books are coming out for body positivity and being loved for oneself in acceptable. It would have made the story more fun for me.

THE GREAT INDOORS: THE SURPRISING SCIENCE OF HOW BUILDINGS SHAPE OUR BEHAVIOR, HEALTH, AND HAPPINESS by Emily Anthes

The Great Indoors: The Surprising Science of How Buildings Shape Our Behavior, Health, and Happiness  - Emily Anthes

I expected a dry read that would take me weeks but what a surprise! This book was fascinating and interesting. I like how she explained the biome in our houses and how it differed from other areas' homes biomes. She explained things so clearly.

 

I enjoyed as she explored the research into how architects are designing buildings better able to help us rather than hinder us. There was no favorite part for me but the stories of how people are using building design and bringing the outdoors indoors helped keep it interesting. As she is showing how schools, prisons, hospitals, accommodations for those with physical and mental disabilities, natural disaster areas, and outer space, she lets the architects, engineers, advocates, families, and users of these new designs explain the advantages over the traditional designs. Their voices add a level that makes it understandable. I hope that some of these design features (i.e. those in an assisted living facility, disaster areas, flood areas) come to an affordable fruition.

 

This is worth your time. Now when my mother asks me why I don't clean more often, I can say that I don't want to destroy an endangered species or an unknown species (Read chapter 1!) There is humor here and this is the most fun I've had reading non-fiction this month.

ALONG CAME JONES by Dixie Browning

Along Came Jones - Dixie Browning

Rex sees Lu coming from the fishing pond and is struck by her but he has no idea why. He's out for a good time and the ladies he goes with know the score but something about Lu knocks him sideways. He's secretive and does not trust easily but somehow Lu gets under his defenses.

 

I enjoyed this story--a good beach read. I liked the contrast between Rex and Lu-one open, one closed. When trouble comes Lu fights tooth and nail to get Rex cleared. There is some humor there. Rex does cause Lu to change her life and she needs a shaking up. Just a quick fun read.

WARRIORS: POWER OF THREE: LONG SHADOWS by Erin Hunter

Warriors: Power of Three #5: Long Shadows - Erin Hunter

Sol has a grip on ShadowClan and it causes Tawnypelt to leave them and come to ThunderClan where her brother, Brambleclaw, is deputy. Jaypaw, Hollyleaf, and Lionblaze know that something must be done to break Sol's hold on the Clans and keep four Clans. While dealing with this, greencough is going through ThunderClan as well as fire. Then when it looks like ThunderClan will make it through all this, a deeply held secret is revealed. What happens now?

 

There is a lot going on in this book. Jaypaw, Hollyleaf, and Lionblaze are in the middle of it all. I think I know the secret but I guess I'll have to read the next book to find out if I am right. This is the first book that has that big of a cliffhanger. I found Jaypaw's one dream very interesting. I'd like to see where it will go and will the extent of Jaypaw's powers as well as Lionblaze's seeing the spirit of Tigerstar ever by revealed.

 

I love this whole series. This one is my favorite.

AMITY AND PROSPERITY: ONE FAMILY AND THE FRACTURING OF A AMERICA by Eliza Griswold

Amity and Prosperity - Eliza Griswold

Fracking comes to Pennsylvania where small towns of Amity and Prosperity are looked at as the gas boom enriches some but sickens others. Stacey Haney's family is followed as they fight Range Resources as they fall ill from living below one of Range's drill sites.

 

What a book! Eliza Griswold tells the story in a straightforward manner. She has documentation listed so you can check it out for more details. She did a through job in telling the story of how a town takes sides.

 

I felt so bad for Stacey and her family and her neighbors, the Voyles, as they fight for their rights for clean water and air. Looking back on everything it started with the death of their animals and Stacey's son, Harley, illnesses. Stacey is constantly taking Harley to the hospitals in Washington, PA, and Pittsburgh. Stacey starts keeping records of taking Harley and smells in the air and things that aren't right with their water and problems in the house. Beth Voyles does the same. They call the EPA and DEP but, while they pay lip service, nothing is done. Oh, Range, eventually does get fined, the fines are so small compared to how much they are making from fracking.

 

I was appalled by how Range Resources got away with destroying the environment and can walk away. I also was angry by how the taxpayers of Pennsylvania will end up footing the cost of Range doing business--repaving roads, cleaning up and reclaiming drilling sites (even though Range is supposed to put everything back as it was when they finish), medical costs for those sickened (if they don't have insurance.)

 

Eventually Stacey and Beth hire attorneys, the Smiths, to have Range admit negligence and give them clean water and stop fracking above their homes. Stacey has to move from her home it is so bad. Beth stays but develops severe health problems. Their children are impacted negatively with physical and emotional illnesses.

 

For years the lawsuits continue. I was disgusted by how DEP acted towards the Haneys and Voyles, how they sided with Range Resources. They were to protect the public, not big business.

 

I was shocked how Range tried to find out who was paying the Smiths. I could not believe the accusations Range made against charitable organizations and environmentalist organizations in the region. The Smiths basically were doing this pro bono with payment if a settlement was achieved. I liked how they were crusaders, going after the Commonwealth when Act 13 was passed to ensure that the public was put first and not gas and oil companies.

 

I was saddened about how Amity was split. It seemed that those who were paid large sums by Range did not believe Stacey, who had grown up with them. It seemed that once the money started rolling in, many forgot how a small town worked--they all helped one another and supported one another. That seemed to end the longer the lawsuits dragged on.

 

It was a shame that the lawsuits never went to trial. Settlement was made with gag orders in place about it. I think a jury would have found for Stacey and Beth but I can understand the stress of living with something this big hanging over their heads, how it wore them down and took over their lives.

 

I hope that Stacey and her family and Beth and her family are followed over the years. I want to know what happens to them--how their health and lives are affected from the chemicals they breathed and drank.

 

I agree with Harley. The money (all of it) was blood money. His life was ruined and he could not get back what he lost--his health, his ambitions, his dreams. They were all gone. He moved on but he has a different outlook. He has matured fast and knows the agencies put in place to aid the public don't. His innocence was lost. His is right. Greed won.

99 PERCENT MINE by Sally Thorne

99 Percent Mine - Sally Thorne

Darcy and her twin brother Jamie have inherited their grandmother's house which they are to remodel and sell, dividing the proceeds of the sale. Jamie hires Tom, a childhood friend, to do the remodel. Darcy is there to make sure the remodel is what she wants. Tom has always carried a torch for Darcy as she has for him but neither will admit it. This has caused Darcy to travel the world, hooking up for one-night stands while Tom has been engaged for some years to the same woman. Will working together finally make them admit their need and love of each other?

 

I enjoyed this book. There was a lot of subtle humor in it especially on Darcy's part. Tom is strait-laced but she does get to him. They are a perfect couple. I like how they work together. It made me smile throughout the book watching them dance around each other. This was a fun read!

WARRIORS: POWER OF THREE: ECLIPSE by Erin Hunter

Eclipse - Erin Hunter

Sol, an outsider, comes to ThunderClan. Jawpaw believes he has to do with the prophecy dealing with him, Hollypaw, and Lionpaw. Suddenly, after a visit by Sol to ShadowClan, Blackstar comes to say that ShadowClan no longer will come to the gatherings. What is going on? Are the Clans at an end?Why does Lionpaw have dreams as vivid as Jaypaw?

 

This was so good! Even though I'm an adult, I am enjoying this series so much. I cannot wait to read the next book. Of course, I got emotionally in the aftermath of the battle (there is always a battle) and I know there will end up being another battle before the end of this particular series. I love these characters. I love the story. I get so caught up in their lives. Erin Hunter has done what I want an author to do--take me out of my world and put into the book's world. And this series does it every book.

DECEPTION by Lee Nichols

Deception (A Haunting Emma Novel) - Lee Nichols

Emma's parents go missing then her legal guardian, Bennett, shows up and takes her to Boston where she sees ghosts and other things that go bump in the night. She does not quite trust Bennett nor he her. How will she discover what is going on?

 

Wow! I really liked this story. It took me a little while to get into it but when I did I was wide eyed with wonder about what was going to happen. There are a lot of questions I want answered so I will read the rest of the trilogy. The world building is good. The storytelling is good. I liked the characters and I like that Emma can communicate with the ghosts. I also like that she has a line she does not want to cross. I hope the rest of the story will be as good.

CRIME AND POETRY by Amanda Flowers

Crime and Poetry - Amanda Flower

Violet's grandmother devises a way to bring Violet home. Needless to say, Violet is not happy about being back home. There are several things Grandmother Daisy neglected to tell her. One of the things is that she has a boyfriend who Violet finds dead the next morning in their driveway. Remembering the past, Violet is determined to solve the murder and to protect her grandmother from the police. So she stays and learns more about her family's past as well as the town's past and others' pasts.

 

I loved this! I had a lot of questions which were answered through the story (not always as quickly as I wanted them answered.) I had a hard time putting this down. I loved Violet and Grandmother Daisy as well as Emerson, the cat. The bookshop is fantastic! I want one like that. The secondary characters have good guys and bad guys. How many will stay throughout the series remains to be seen. I'm liking the triangle with Violet, Nathan, and David. This will be interesting to see how it plays out. I'm wondering how some of the confessions at the end will affect future stories. I'll have to read more to find out.

FAIR PLAY by Samantha Wayland

Fair Play - Samantha Wayland

Savannah is the trainer for the Moncton Ice Cats. She maintains a chilly front so the players don't hit on her. When she learns the team is up for sale, she lets Garrick LeBlanc know and they start to plan how the current owner can keep the team. Because of this they grow closer but, unfortunately, a buyer has stepped forward. Can they keep this buyer from the team? What will happen if this buyer gets the team?

 

There is a lot going on in this book. First, the romance. Second, the team and its sale. Third, problems for Savannah with a certain player. Lots of action and adventure as this story goes on as Savannah and Garrick have to find out the truth about the person who wants to buy the team. Savannah sure is a wiz with tape. It saves her many a day. I liked these characters, especially the good guys. I like how Savannah is oblivious to the support she has and discovers it has been there all along. I was glad the bad guys got theirs. Could not have happened to better couple. They deserve each other.

 

I am looking forward to the other books in this series.

A LITTLE LIGHT MISCHIEF by Cat Sebastian

A Little Light Mischief: A Turner Novella - Cat Sebastian
  Molly works as a lady's maid in the same household where Alice is the companion to the mistress of the house. Alice tries to help Molly because she is not used to having idle time but since she was thrown out of her father's household she has a whole lot of time on her hands as a companion. When they go with their mistress to a house party in the country, there Alice discovers the man who caused her ruin will be. Molly convinces her to exact a bit of revenge on the man.

I liked Molly and Alice. They are different in temperament but have known what it is to work hard. They also discover their true selves in the company of each other and plan a future together. The men in this book are not admirable and I can understand why Molly and Alice plan their mischief. I especially liked how emboldened Alice became when Molly spoke of her plan which did not go as planned but caused Alice to improvise. The courage she gained then carried over to her father's comeuppance. I cheered Alice on. It was wonderful.

EGGS OVER EVIE by Alison Jackson

Eggs over Evie - Alison Jackson, Tuesday Mourning
Evie is having trouble dealing with changes.  Her parents are divorced.  Her dad has remarried and has a new baby on the way.  Her neighbor has lost her cat.  Her mom is dating.  And she is going to cooking class and crushing on her cooking partner.  Is she ready for any of this?
 
I enjoyed this book.  I liked the recipes and Evie's advice to make the recipes the best they can be.  Watching Evie deal with all the changes in her life gives her a universality to which I could relate .  None of us like changes, especially when the change is outside of our control.  Seeing Evie and Corey together was fun.  It reminded me of my crushes at that age.  An enjoyable book to curl up with on a summer night.

THE ENVOY: THE EPIC RESCUE OF THE LAST JEWS OF EUROPE IN THE DESPEARTE CLOSING MONTHS OF WORLD WAR II by Alex Kershaw

The Envoy: The Epic Rescue of the Last Jews of Europe in the Desperate Closing Months of World War II - Alex Kershaw
I have had this book for a long time.  I thought it was a novel.  I was surprised.  It is history and what a read!  I have heard of Raoul Wallenberg but more as an afterthought.  He was no afterthought.  He was brave and willing to risk his life to save Hungarian Jews towards the end of WWII.  THE ENVOY tells the story of what he and other diplomats from neutral countries did to help save as many people as they could.  This book gives all the sides from the Nazi side to the Jewish side to the Hungarian Arrow Cross side to the Soviet side. 
 
I was sickened by Eichmann and his words and actions.  I felt sorrow for those who could not be saved.  I also felt hope for those who were saved and survived the war.  I felt anger for the Wallenberg family and their not being able to get the truth from the Soviets and for the lack of compassion shown by the Swedish diplomatic corps.  Raoul was a good man who deserves his story told and his family deserves to know what really happened to him. 

AMELIA WESTLAKE WAS NEVER HERE by Erin Gough

Amelia Westlake Was Never Here - Erin Gough
Will has problems at school.  She wants to expose the way students are treated.  Harriet does not understand what Will's problem is but as Will explains what she sees as inadequacies in the system, Harriet begins to have her eyes open.  Between the two of them, they come up with a solution--Amelia Westlake who will point out the school's problems.  Now can they do it without getting caught?
 
This is a coming-of-age story.  It is a bit of a romance.  It is rollicking good fun as Amelia is credited with a lot of goings-on at the school.  She seems to be everywhere and knows everything.  Now the faculty and some blackmailed students are looking for Amelia but she pops up where and when least expected.
 
I enjoyed this story.  It was fun to watch as Amelia lets the truth out.  Unfortunately the faculty are dense.  They are more interested in protecting the appearances of a good elite education than in righting the wrongs that have been allowed unchecked growth.  I am glad the students bonded over Amelia.  I am glad Will and Harriet let others know what was going on eventually so it could not be swept under the rug. 
I would read this author again.  I had a lot of fun!

THE COURTSHIP OF PRINCESS LEIA by Dave Wolverton

The Courtship of Princess Leia - Dave Wolverton
  Princess Leia has two suitors to choose from--Han and Prince Isolder. Who will she pick? Han also owns a planet. Can he get the warlord and witches off it?

The Star Wars action-adventure part is fun and what I expected. It is worth a 5. However, the romance was cheesy and cringe-worthy and as a veteran romance reader I cannot accept that. The romance part was a 3. I liked the new characters and I liked how everything worked out in the end. Luke has really begun to handle the Force better. Even Leia is picking some of it up. I am not sure if I will read more in the Star Wars series or not. Depends if my sister makes it her read for next year's book bingo.

I WAS TOLD TO COME ALONE: MY JOURNEY BEHIND THE LINES OF JIHAD by Souad Mekhennet

I Was Told to Come Alone: My Journey Behind the Lines of Jihad - Souad Mekhennet

Souad Mekhennet, a German born to parents of Moroccan and Turkish descent, becomes a journalist and goes into the Middle East where Americans often cannot easily go.  I found this book so interesting.  Ms. Mekhennet shows us the other side of the story as she works independently for the New York Times, Washington Post, Der Spiegel, and others.  She asks the questions that need asking and does not shy away from pressing her point when she does not receive an answer.  I liked her strength and the sense of humor that comes through.  She is in a tough profession.  She astonishes the people she goes to write of with her knowledge of the area and language.  She is not to be taken lightly.  She keeps going after the story until she gets it even if she has to do it from afar when her life is threatened.  This book makes me think of what we don't hear in the U.S. about what is really going on and how we respond to the events.  It also makes me think that we overstep too often.  An enlightening and fascinating read.