Category Archives: nine shoes

Book Review : The Dinner

Title : The Dinner The Dinner

Author : Herman Koch

Publisher : Hogarth

Publication Date : February 12th, 2013 (originally published in Dutch in 2009)

Pages : 304

Stand Alone or Series : Stand Alone

Why I Read This book : It was all over the blogosphere and people were calling it the “European Gone Girl” and we all know how much I loved Gone Girl.

Three Words : disturbing, character study, violent

Red Flags : language, violence (this is an adult novel)

Summary (from Goodreads):  An internationally bestselling phenomenon: the darkly suspenseful, highly controversial tale of two families struggling to make the hardest decision of their lives — all over the course of one meal.

It’s a summer’s evening in Amsterdam, and two couples meet at a fashionable restaurant for dinner. Between mouthfuls of food and over the polite scrapings of cutlery, the conversation remains a gentle hum of polite discourse — the banality of work, the triviality of the holidays. But behind the empty words, terrible things need to be said, and with every forced smile and every new course, the knives are being sharpened.
Each couple has a fifteen-year-old son. The two boys are united by their accountability for a single horrific act; an act that has triggered a police investigation and shattered the comfortable, insulated worlds of their families. As the dinner reaches its culinary climax, the conversation finally touches on their children. As civility and friendship disintegrate, each couple show just how far they are prepared to go to protect those they love.

My Take : So on the surface this book is literally about a dinner. And at first I was bewildered as to how this was going to be like Gone Girl. I mean I like food as much as the next person but I don’t need a 300 page accounting on how you arrived at the restaurant, what you ordered, what everybody was drinking, etc…But much like that book, seemingly trivial details and commonplace occurrences begin to take on sinister overtones. The narrator is completely unreliable and almost unwittingly reveals that he is unreliable through his recounting of past experiences. As you go further and further you realize just how disturbed all of these individuals are! I REALLY enjoyed this book and at the same time disliked it intensely because it made me feel uncomfortable. As a parent I was disturbed immensely by these people and thought about this book for days after finishing it. And honestly, I love that feeling. I love thinking about something I’ve watched or read for days afterwards. There were definitely parts that dragged….especially in the beginning when they were setting up the dinner and ordering the dinner and all of that but in the end I was really excited about this book.

Rating : 9 shoes

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Filed under book review, Koch;Herman, nine shoes, psychological suspense, The Dinner

Book Review : The Last Dragonslayer

Title : The Last Dragonslayer The Last Dragonslayer (The Last Dragonslayer, #1)

Author : Jasper Fforde

Publisher : Harcourt Children’s Books

Publish Date : October 2nd, 2012

Pages : 296

Stand Alone or Series : #1 in the The Last Dragonslayer Series (however each book is a stand alone story)

How Obtained : from the library

Three Words : witty, fantasy, YA

Red Flags : none really, small amounts of violence – I would recommend for older adolescent but only because many of the jokes, etc.. is intended for a more educated audience.

Summary : Jennifer Strange is a foundling working as an indentured servant for the Kazam Employment agency for magicians where she runs the every day business. Back in the day, magic was strong and magicians were well respected. Nowadays magic is disappearing and magicians are only hired for things like rewiring houses and unclogging drains. Suddenly, magicians everywhere are having visions that the LAST dragon will die at the hands of an unknown dragonslayer. Big Magic is coming and it will mean big changes for Kazam and Jennifer.

My Take : I love Jasper Fforde – every time I read one of his books I feel a little bit smarter. If you aren’t familiar with his writing style it is full of puns, literary references and whimsicality. He really is an author after my own heart- he loves fantasy and he loves books- what could be better. If you ARE familiar with Jasper Fforde, then go out and get this book. You will get your usual dose of interesting and fascinating new world, witty repartee and a somewhat tongue-in-cheek look at the foibles of humans especially bureaucracy. This is a solid fantasy world complete with magicians, war, corporations, kings, a reluctant hero and a stalwart (although somewhat scary) sidekick. I loved Jennifer Strange, she is old beyond her years. She’s seen it all at Kazam and can be a little blase. Even though she has plenty of reason to want to better her situation she won’t do at the expense of anyone or anything. She does what is right. Plus she drives a Volkswagen Bug. It’s one of those books where you keep wondering “how is the hero going to get out this??” but when the ending does come you are like “Oh of course, how silly of me….” I highly recommend this book and if you haven’t had a chance – please go out and read Fforde’s awesome book The Eyre Affair. It is wonderful beyond words (plus it has Jane Eyre in it and we all know how much I love that book.)

Rating : Nine Shoes – Practically perfect.



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Filed under book review, fantasy, Fforde;Jasper, nine shoes, The Last Dragonslayer, YA

Book Review : This Is Not a Test

Title : This Is Not a Test

This is Not a Test

Author : Courtney Summers

Publisher : St. Martin’s Griffin

Publish Date : June 19th, 2012

Pages: 323

Red Flags : some violence, some sexual situations and language (older adolescent appropriate)

Three Words : character driven, zombies, slower paced

How Obtained : from the library!

Summary : Sloane Price has decided to kill herself. Six months ago her world ended when her sister left her alone in their father’s house. Now it is time to get out as well. The day she decides to do it just happens to be the day that the zombie apocalypse happens. So her plans to kill herself are put on hold as she actually fights for her survival. Sloane and five other teenagers have managed to make it to the high school and hole up there in hopes that they will be rescued or at least don’t get eaten. They seem to have found a perfect place, the high school has food, water and few windows for the zombies to get inside through. As the days slowly crawl by, the teenagers must struggle with their own issues and with each other. Sloane finds herself seeing the apocalypse through the eyes of those who still want to live. Soon the group dynamic will change drastically and they will have choices to make….who will survive? Will Sloane even want to?

My Take : First I have to say if you are a big fan of zombie books then this will probably NOT be your cup of tea. This is not a zombie book, it is a book that happens to have zombies in it. This is a character study where the circumstances of the zombie apocalypse provide the background for seeing what the heck these people are going to do.

Wow! I really enjoyed this book. I can see why it made YALSA’s  list of Best Fiction for YA readers in 2013. The characters were so interestingly developed, the story was slow-paced but that actually was fantastic for this book. These teens are trapped in the school for days with nothing to do except deal with each other and the things they have done. It was super interesting and while you don’t fall in love with any of the characters per se, you certainly can relate to their feelings. In the quest for survival you would have to do things that may haunt you – is it worth surviving if you have to deal with all of that?

Although this is mainly a character piece, there are still plenty of events that happen to move the story along. It is a slow pace but not in a boring way. I would say that my only issue with this book is that I wasn’t all that jazzed about Sloane herself. She didn’t exactly endear herself to me in that she didn’t have that much of a personality outside of her deep depression and issues with her father. That being said, it may just be the point of the whole book. We are all made up of our pasts and the things we have done to get to our present. Some of it may not be so great. (oooh I’m getting all philosophical here).

My Rating : Nine shoes – Excellent


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Filed under book review, nine shoes, Summers; Courtney, This Is Not a Test, YA

Book Review : Graceling

Title : Graceling

Author : Kristin Cashore

Publisher : HarcourtGraceling (Graceling Realm, #1)
Pages : 471
Publication Date : October 1st, 2008
Stand Alone or Series : #1 in the Graceling Realm series
Three Words : fantasy, YA, lady assassin
Red Flags : some violence, mild sexuality (appropriate for older adolescents)

Summary : Katsa is Graced. In her world, some people are born with special abilities (called Graces) The Grace gives them special powers – the ability to read minds, to swim like a fish or the ability to make beautiful music. Katsa hates her Grace – the Grace of killing. She is under the command of her uncle, King Randa and he expects her to do his dirty work – threatening wayward subjects with torture or death. Katsa has decided to use her powers for good when possible but it must be done behind her uncle’s back. While out on a mission to rescue a stolen royal, she meets a young Graced prince. Prince Po is Graced with fighting skills. When he shows up at the court of King Randa they decide to train together in order to become better fighters. But something unexpected and new happens to Katsa; she makes a friend. Together they will try to figure out the secret of why somebody has kidnapped Po’s grandfather – it is a dangerous secret that affects all the seven kingdoms.

My Take : Love, Love, Love!! This was such a fun book and I was kinda disappointed that I hadn’t heard of it before. Katsa is such an interesting character. She actually reminds me a little bit of Katniss Everdeen – hardboiled, practical but somewhat naive in relationships. She relies on herself and she is a strong woman…so delightful.  That doesn’t mean that she doesn’t have doubts or bad moments. But it is the tension between your good and bad self that makes for an interesting character.

The relationship between Po and Katsa is believable and interesting. They are friends – they talk about their lives, have fun together, etc… I really liked seeing a man and woman have a great friendship. It is obvious to me that Cashore has respect for the many sides of both genders.

Cashore is just a beautiful writer.  She brought this new world to life for me. I loved the characters both on the bad and good side. I cannot wait to find out how this all ends up. I give this book nine shoes!

Has anybody else read this series? What did you think?

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Filed under book review, Cashore; Kristin, Graceling, nine shoes, YA

Book Review : The Sculptress

I have recently become much addicted to the ID channel and have had to do an intervention on myself. I love crime and mysteries. How can you resist a channel with show titles like “Happily Never After” or “Who the bleep did I marry? (actual title)” or “Very Bad Men” ? If you haven’t watched this channel – don’t start! You will find yourself watching hours and hours of shows, then inevitably coming to the conclusion that you should NEVER get married (the husband or wife ALWAYS does it) or that your spouse is probably plotting something….just kidding.

So, you know around Halloween everybody and their mother came out with lists of horror books, gory books, and other creepy crawly type mystery, paranormal books. This gem happened to get on my to read list and I am so glad I went ahead and read it! I loved it and if you are into mystery/crime/psychological thrillers you would definitely like this one.

Title : The Sculptress

Author: Minette WaltersThe Sculptress

Stand Alone or Series : Stand Alone

Red Flags : extreme violence and gory details, bad language, sexual situations (NSFC)

Three Words : crime novel, mystery, psychologically intense

Summary : Rosalind Leigh is a journalist who is a little down on her luck. Her publisher is pushing her to start some new work. However, Roz is not interested in anything. Then she is told to go prison and do an interview with Olive Martin, the famous Sculptress. Everyone knows about Olive Martin and her horrific crimes five years ago. Olive murdered her sister and mother in their family kitchen, carving up the parts and positioning them again….giving her the moniker. Olive was found in the kitchen itself cradling some of the parts. Olive has always maintained her guilt, but something that in her manner convinces Roz that something is wrong and that Olive could possibly be innocent. When Roz seeks out Hal Hawksley, the arresting officer, things start to get very interesting. She delves deeper into the mystery and the dark secrets hidden in the Martin case. Is Olive innocent? Who is the real murderer?

Review : I loved this book! Roz was an interesting and multi-faceted person who had her own issues going on. The romance between Hal and Roz was at times funny, at times painful, but also added another dimension to the book. The murder mystery was also really interesting, there are plenty of twists and turns but none of them crazy unbelievable. It all fits in. The best part of this novel is Olive Martin. At times repellent, at times sympathetic, she is a complex character. She is morbidly obese but highly intelligent. She has built up walls around her to protect her and her secrets. The whole time you are questioning all the things you know about her, as they are completely shaded through how other people experience her. You can’t entirely trust what the book is telling you. I’m not sure I’m doing enough justice to this book. If you like mysteries than I would highly recommend this one. I give this one nine shoes … I loved it and can’t wait to read more by the awesome Minette Walters.

Anybody else read this one out there?? What did you think?


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Filed under book review, Mystery, nine shoes, The Sculptress, Walters; Minette

Book Review : The False Prince

You know how sometimes you are in a reading slump? The kind where everything you read just seems boring and trite. Nothing is satisfying that itch….the reading itch. THIS is the book that got me out of it.

Title : The False PrinceThe False Prince (The Ascendance Trilogy, #1)

Author : Jennifer Nielsen

Stand alone or series : Book 1 of the planned Ascendance Trilogy

Three Words to describe it : fantasy, plot driven, exciting

Red Flags : Some violence

So, we are in a kingdom in another world somewhere and things are a little uneasy. There is a civil war a-brewing because guess what everybody the ENTIRE royal family is dead. Only, not everyone knows it yet.  Conner, a nobleman, has devised an extremely cunning little plan. He is going to find an easily controllable but intelligent young boy to impersonate the dead prince and install him as his very own puppet prince. Still with me?

Now we are introduced to Sage (stupid name, awesome character) who is one of four boys chosen for their looks to compete to impersonate the prince. They are taken to Conner’s castle to get trained in the princely ways. At the end of their time there, one will be chosen to impersonate the prince and the others will be killed. Will Sage be the chosen one? Does he even want to be? What about the other boys?

This book was delicious. We follow Sage through his training and honestly you just start to fall in love with him as you go along. He’s all super intelligent but also super stubborn and rebellious. Truly, is there anything more swoon-worthy than an intelligent bad boy? There is lots of intrigue and mysteries along the way. I’ve always loved the people being trained trope in books, because it provides such an easy way for the author to teach you as well their main character all about their world. I loved the relationship that Sage developed with the other boys, at times friendly, at times antagonistic. There is a sort of romance in the book but I definitely got the feeling that this was more of a down the road sort of story. When the big ending finally came, it did not disappoint. All in all, I was definitely in love with this book. I cannot wait for the upcoming books! I give it 9 shoes (only because I feel like I can only give my favorite books in the world 10 shoes). This is my cute suede booties that I always get compliments on…


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Filed under book review, Nielsen;Jennifer, nine shoes, The False Prince, YA

A Brief History of Montmaray or Aren’t you missing Downton Abbey? Aren’t YOU??

I am missing the Downton…BIG TIME. Aaah the intrigue, the gossip, the manners, the clothes, the biting sarcasm from delightful Maggie Smith. I love it! If you haven’t watched Downton Abbey, you are sincerely missing out. I know, I know, it sounds all boring and lame and “geez Trina it’s on PBS so that totally means its education or something” but truly it is such a GOOD show. Have I convinced you yet?

What does this have to do with “A Brief History of Montmaray” you may ask? Well this awesome YA trilogy (not dystopian though 😉 ) completely reminds me of it. No, it doesn’t share the same setting or same type of characters but it just has the same delicious feel.  Let me share :

Title : A Brief History of Montmaray (Bk 1 in Montmaray Journals series)

Author : Michelle Cooper

Three Words : epistolary, royal wartime, YA

Red Flags: Some violence

So Sophie FitzOsborne (I know – the name alone got me hooked) is a shy, smart sixteen year old living in a decrepit castle on the tiny island nation of Montmaray. (And before you start to feel like “God I must be so stupid at geography because I have never heard of this place” it is fictional) She receives a journal for her birthday and decides to chronicle her everyday life with the remains of her eccentric royal family. We’ve got the insane (literally) king John who mostly stays in his bedroom except occassionally to throw things at people, his daughter Veronica (Sophie’s cousin who is keeping the family afloat), the housekeeper (who only has eyes for John), Toby (Sophie’s older brother – next in line to the throne, charming with zero responsibility but a wonderful heart) and Henry (Sophie’s little sister – who is opposed to dresses, baths or anything girly) and of course, the housekeeper’s son (whom Sophie has a HUGE crush on but who may or may not be messing around elsewhere ). The year is 1936 so including the day to day craziness of their world, stuff is going down in Europe with that Hitler character. We get to meet her family and suffer along with them while they are struggling to make ends meet and keep everything together but they are still delightfully nice and cheery people. THEN a boat lands on their shores and it is carrying some Germans and things really go to hell then.

I loved this book!! So many things make it awesome but I’ll just tell you a few. One, I could not be sicker of the heroine of every book being all I’m ugly but really she is a stunning beauty with fierce intelligence, a kind heart etc…. People are not really that amazing! Sophie is attractive, but not a great beauty. She is intelligent but prone to overwhelming shyness. She has lots of great qualities but not ALL of them. Two, I love all the little details about Montmaray. I’m a big fan of epistolary novels and I love learning about Sophie’s home and family from her. She brings it to life so that you can picture the crumbling castle, the craggy island and the family she fiercely loves. Three, the war is portrayed in a realistic manner that a teenager would deal with it i.e. some interest, some worry but not always understanding everything that is going on. Also, I love the little asides about Hitler ” Surely Mr. Hitler would not invade other countries…” that sort of thing. Sure, sometimes everybody around her is a little too awesome and nice. And sometimes things work out a little too good but it’s a fictional book and sometimes I want things to go right! In the end, I give this book nine shoes (damn near perfect) – this is my super favorite pair of pink wedges with the orange stripe . Go read this book!

The second book is just as good so if you like this one keep going. The newest book is coming out any day so I am anxiously awaiting it. Anybody else read this series? What did you think?


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Filed under A Brief History of Montmaray, book review, Cooper;Michelle, nine shoes, YA

A New Title, Look and Format for the Blog!! Get Excited Readers!

After some time off to get through this holiday thing (whew!) and finish up a Master’s Degree (yeah!) I did some research in the blogosphere of book reviews and decided this blog needed some sprucing up. I hope everybody likes it and I’d love to see some comments on the new look. As you can see (———–>>>) I’ve fallen behind on the reviews but NOT on the reading. Soooooo in an effort to atone for my silence in the blog, I will be featuring a book review a day for the month of January! Fair warning, although most of the books have been pretty awesome there may be some stinkers thrown in…. Without further ado here is my first review of the new year – one of my favorite books of this year When She Woke by Hillary Jordan.

When She Woke is a retelling of the classic The Scarlett Letter except in this version the heroine’s skin bears the color red instead of just a letter on her dress and it is set in a future theocratic America where conservative evangelical values have taken over the government. Hannah Payne is sentenced to life as a Red through a process called “chroming” -where an injection changes the color of the skin of the offender. These Chromes are then thrust back into society where they must survive as best they can. Hannah has been convicted of the murder of her unborn child. Her sentence is extended even further because she refuses to reveal the identity of the baby’s father, a prominent married minister. We follow Hannah through her initial incarceration where her every movement is broadcast for live television for millions to watch, then to a half-way house for other women in her situation and finally as she makes an escape hopefully to a better life. In between we find out the story of her passionate love affair and how she came to be convicted.

I have one word for this book – AMAZEBALLS! I loved it. This was a great combination of the Scarlett Letter with tones of The Handmaid’s Tale (another of my favorite books). The characters were interesting, flawed, sympathetic, and complex. The story was exciting and fast-paced but still took the time for back story. There was definitely an underlying message about the dangers of blurring the lines between church and state, but Jordan managed not to make it too preachy. The end of the book was great, a journey with Hannah as discovers herself and questions her upbringing.  I highly recommend this book – I give it nine shoes (oooooh my first!).

First Line : When she woke, she was red.

Three Appeals : futuristic dystopian sci-fi, interesting characters, retelling of a classic

Red Flags : I’m gonna guess you will not enjoy this if you are a conservative Christian…. the subject matter is also probably not for children, some violence and language, sexual situations.

If you like this book then try:

1) The Scarlett Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Hester Prynne has been sentenced to wear the scarlett letter A for having a child from an adulterous affair. She refuses to name the father but when her estranged husband shows up, he is determined to find out who it is. A classic.

2) The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Offred is a Handmaid in the house of the Commander and his wife in the Republic of Gilead, a conservative theocratic society which is a feminist’s nightmare. Women are not allowed to read or hold jobs, and are seperated into classes : the Wives who are childless but morally superior, the Marthas who are housekeepers and the Handmaids who are supposed to have children to then turn over to the Wives. However, Offred can remember a time when she had a husband, a daughter and a job and starts to question her place in this society. An amazing classic and one of my favorite books of all time – definitely also take the time to check out some of Atwood’s other books including Alias Grace.

3) Mudbound by Hillary Jordan

It is 1946, and city-bred Laura McAllan is trying to raise her children on her husband’s Mississippi Delta farm—a place she finds foreign and frightening. In the midst of the family’s struggles, two young men return from the war to work the land. Jamie McAllan, Laura’s brother-in-law, is everything her husband is not—charming, handsome, and haunted by his memories of combat. Ronsel Jackson, eldest son of the black sharecroppers who live on the McAllan farm, has come home with the shine of a war hero. But no matter his bravery in defense of his country, he is still considered less than a man in the Jim Crow South. It is the unlikely friendship of these brothers-in-arms that drives this powerful novel to its inexorable conclusion. (taken from

Enjoy this one my friends, and let me know if you like it.

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Trina B.


Filed under book review, Jordan;Hillary, Literary, nine shoes