My Constantly Evolving List of All-Time Favorites.

Kyle 's favorites books montage

Gone Girl
The Night Circus
The Woodcutter
The Graveyard Book
Sharp Objects
Dark Places
Shutter Island
The Passage
The Twelve
Rules of Civility
The Aviary
Heir to the Glimmering World
Wool Omnibus
The Weird Sisters
A Song of Ice and Fire
A Game of Thrones

Kyle Uniss's favorite books »

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Getting ready for vacation, The Wool Serials by Hugh Howey and Kindle Singles

Today is the day before a short visit to Grandma's (my mom) house in Arizona. Time off from work, time to reconnect with Mom and let the girls play outside. Oranges to be picked and made into orange juice (this is a project done with Daddy and Grandpa), real Mexican food to be devoured, sunshine to be soaked in (although the grandparents will tell me that it isn't that warm for Arizona, it will still be a lot warmer than Ohio in February). Hopefully this will provide me with a lot of reading time. There are many books I need to get through (and by need I mean NEED--the pull of the book on my soul) including The Name of The Star by Maureen Johnson and Wonder by R.J. Palacio. Wonder is a book for younger readers that my almost 10-year old wants to read, and I have heard from many that it is one that I need to read as well.

So today is the day before vacation. Swimming is over for a couple of months, lacrosse hasn't started (this are my older child's activities of choice), dance recital isn't until June (this is my younger daughter's activity of choice). Summer camps have been chosen (for the most part), summer activities have been partially planned, and spring activities have not yet begun. This is our down time, and I love it!

Instead of a review today, I'm going to talk about some great book-related, Kindle-related items you should be discovering and reading!

First off, The Wool series on Kindle--an awesome and intelligent look at a Dystopian society. If you have a Kindle, get reading. The first five chapters (the Wool books) are available in one read and are inexpensive ($5.99) and are so worth it. Wool Omnibus for Kindle at Amazon. The second part is three installments called Shift. The third installment was released a couple of weeks ago, so the Shift series is also available in one read for $5.99. Shift Omnibus for Kindle at Amazon. And the third and final part, Dust, will be out soon. If you can, sit down and read Wool and Shift together. I don't want to attempt a real review until the whole series is finished. 
"And so a life was lived accidental. It was lived because he wasn’t brave enough to do anything else." Third Shift, Hugh Howey.

Another fun thing available for Kindle are Kindle Singles. Singles are basically short stories that are usually inexpensive and brief. There are a number of bestselling authors who have found there way to Kindle Singles. Stephen King has written a number of them, and has collaborated with some known and unknown (at least to me) authors for some of them. Nelson DeMille (a favorite of mine) has used this format to tell an early John Corey story as well as a couple others.  Lee Child, David Baldacci, Richard Russo, Karen Slaughter, Chuck Palahniuk, Michael Connelly--the list goes on and on. There are many new writers finding this genre as well. Kindle Singles are awesome if you don't have time for a full book or if you just want a quick, inexpensive read. Most I have read are incredibly well written.

These are my deep-thoughts for today. Enjoy your Tuesday and find time to read!!! 

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Neighbors by Ania Ahlborn and A Weekend Seemingly Made For Reading

Well, it's Monday, again. I spent the weekend thinking I would have abundant reading time, but family and kids got in the way. If you've ever been to a large-ish swim meet you know that it seems like you will have plenty of time to read (or knit, or play solitaire, or answer e-mails, or write a blog . . .) but then the fact that you're there with children hits you in the face. My nine-year old loves to swim and loves the meets, but gets sidetracked while sitting in camp with her friends. Momma has to make sure she gets to her events, or the purpose of the meet is lost. And at this meet there was the added distraction of her little sister, who usually gets to go to the babysitter's house. She doesn't sit still very well and wants to visit with EVERYONE. And momma has to make sure she's not talking to strangers and not bugging the kids (she is a little sister after all).

That brings us to today and getting back on track. I got to hit our local YMCA and the elliptical for an hour, which is awesome. I love the elliptical because I get to read, and reading gets me through the workout. Two birds, one stone.

I am currently reading the latest installation to the Wool serials by Hugh Howey, Third Shift. I am halfway done with it. This story is broken up into three parts which are then divided and sold as serials--a great concept The first five parts were Wool  Next up is The Name of The Star by Maureen Johnson. I'm excited about this book and can't wait to get on it! I didn't realize it, but I bought it yesterday at $2.99 for my Kindle and today it is back up to $9.99. I will try to keep my readers you informed of the deals I get. 

Okay, onto my review for the day. I finished this book last week. Get it now for $1.99 as part of Kindle's 100 books under $3.99 for February. The book wasn't developed enough for me, but Ania Alhborn has a lot of potential. I really think we all will be reading her in the future.

"Pushing a pair of earbuds into his ears, he let Bob Marley assure him that every little thing was going to be all right. Singing along beneath his breath, he trudged down the hall toward the bathroom. He’d used it the evening before but had kept his eyes half-closed, partly out of exhaustion, but mostly because he didn’t want to see just how bad it was. But now, with the morning’s light trickling through the window above the bathtub, the filth was undeniable—so staggering that even Bob couldn’t sing his way around it."

The cover and the marketing for this book really got me. A seemingly perfect neighborhood with a creepy house? Yes please! And perfect neighbors who have a secret? Again, yes!!!

 Andrew, or Drew, or Andy Morrison is a good boy getting away from a horrible situation. He basically gave up his life to look after his agoraphobic, alcoholic mother after his father took off with what he remembers to be another woman. When he sees his mother walking down the street with a sack full of booze, Drew has had enough.

His childhood friend found him through good old Facebook, and Mickey has offered him a room in his house at a VERY reduced price. Drew knows this is the chance he needs. As he drives through the neighborhood he is thrilled with the picture perfect neighborhood, until he realizes Mickey's is the only creepy, dilapidated house on the block. Once inside, his disappointment grows but optimistically jumps right in, trying to clean the filth, hoping that his own life can be cleaned up as well. Meanwhile, Mickey sits on the couch, gaming his life away, watching his old friend Drew from the corner of his eye. Through his dreams, hopes and cleaning, Drew can't keep his eyes off of the perfect house next door. And the lady of the house seems very neighborly, baking him cookies. Giving him a job. Drew's absolute dream. And the neighbor lady is SEXY!

This is where it falls apart. Every creepy scenario shows its head. Ania Ahlborn does okay, but she feels the need to include everything. Murder, mayhem, mind-control. Sex, drugs, rock and roll. The only thing missing is the mystery. You pretty much know what is going to happen as soon as Mickey starts to stir from the couch and Drew's mom apologizes and promises to clean up her act.

I'm not giving up on Ahlborn and I will read more from her. I think she has great potential. She writes well and creates compelling characters. With a couple of tweaks Drew could have been a great character, he just needed a little more depth. Harlowe (the sexy neighbor) also was wonderful, but I think a little more mystery with her would have been nice. The conflict within Drew concerning Harlowe could have been great psychologically; the fact that he's sexually attracted to her but he also sees her as a mother figure, and this all happens after his conflict with his mother.

I will be cheering on Ahlborn. I think she can be a force in the future.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Dysfunction comes home--Jennifer Anya Blau does a good job in Drinking Closer to Home, especially at $1.99 for the Kindle edition!

"She understands suddenly that the stuff that fills her up is not the love or attention she might get from other people; it is the love she herself has for other people."
"Marriage isn't a charming little tête-à-tête between a couple in love. It's an arrangement in a tiny unified county of two citizen, with a constitution that is in constant negotiation."

In Drinking Closer to Home, Jessica Anya Blau shows us that dysfunction we get from our parents are only their reactions to the dysfunction they got from their parents. I enjoyed this book, if only because it made me feel like the dysfunction I inherited from my parents isn't nearly as bad as what Buzzy and Louise passed down to their children.

Anna, Portia and Emery are the adult children of Buzzy and Louise who descend on their Santa Barbara ranch when Louise suffers a massive heart attack. The spend the time reminiscing, remember the hurts and triumphs of their lives, from childhood to the near-past.

The family starts off as a upper-middle class family in Ann Arbor, Michigan, living in the kind of neighborhood that is so normal it has to be abnormal behind closed doors. And it is, although Buzzy and Louise seem to be the most normal--at least at that time.

The family packs up and moves across the country for Buzzy's career, landing in California. They move into a picture perfect house with a pool and a lemon orchard. All is wonderful until the moment Louise "quits" as a mom. She quits cleaning, cooking, doing laundry and caring for the children, including baby Emery, whose care she entrusts to Portia. All the children grow up dirty--I think this is what got me the most. Louise begins 'etching' and writing poetry, and Buzzy cultivates marijuana, something he takes great pride in but doesn't smoke. He leaves that to Louise.

I think this is where the book lost my heart. I did not like Louise very much until she is much older. She lives in a completely self-centered world, dropping motherhood like it was an adult education class. Those of us that are mothers may drop responsibilities for a day or two, but could never abandon my children to themselves to indulge my whims. And Buzzy lets it happen. It seems with the money he makes he could hire a nanny/housekeeper, but he just leaves the kids to fend for themselves. And Emery grows up without a mother or a father.

We meet Buzzy's parents, an Orthodox Jewish family who comes to California once a year. They love the girls and Louise (who converted for the marriage and was Sarah for awhile and is the best Kosher cook they know), and really cannot stand poor Emery. This is the only time the house is orderly and clean, an act put on purely for Zeyde and Bubbe.

We also meet Louise's parents, a couple that lives in bucolic Vermont (I love the vision of their house). They are portrayed as completely backasswards, but you kind of like them for it. Otto, Louise's dad, believes that all children born after the first are only backups in case something happens to the oldest, so all the love and affection is poured into the oldest. Anna is adored, Portia is tolerated and Emery is ignored.

As we go through the children's lives and arrive at their adult selves, we realize that the more attention the children got from their parents and grandparents the more screwed up they are. Anna is really a mess, Portia less so (really desperate for love and attention, but in a healthy? way) and Emery is the most stable (probably because he never had any attention or any need of it, he embraced his homosexuality and made it fit into his life in a time when it wasn't quite as acceptable).
I guess if Buzzy and especially Louise were checked though out, they all would have been a little more functional.

That said, the ending is very poignant and did make me laugh and tear up. They are a family and come together when necessary, although PLEASE tell me I haven't messed up my kids this bad.

The characters are well developed and you do care about them. They reminisce with humor and emotion. Again, I liked this book. I just couldn't get past Louise's total lack of motherly feelings--and this brought the book down a notch.

I enjoyed this book, and would recommend it. Especially at $1.99 for my Kindle!

Drinking Closer to Home at

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Woodcutter by Kate Danley

"You are no longer that which you were and will forever be more than you ever thought possible."

I love it when an author an author finds a way to take a fairy tale, or a group of fairy tales, and reshape it in to something new. A good re-telling takes the stories that we know by heart and shows a different telling. Kate Danley does just that.

This book takes us into the world of the Woodcutter, a magical man (creature?) who plays the part of guardian, detective and ecologist. He guards the border between reality and fairy tales. When a young girl is found dead in the woods he takes on the role of detective, knowing that something is wrong in the fairy world. 

We pretty much know who the bad guys and the good guys are based on fairy tale mythlore, and the book does wrap up very neatly. It does start off slowly, but once I got into the book I didn't want to put it down. Danley entwines many fairy tale characters and storylines and mixes them into one wonderful mystery.

Another plus for this book was the price. I got this for my Kindle, so at $3.99 it was a deal. I pick these up every once and awhile for when I am between books (and the fact that I can store them without the clutter eases both my pack rat mentality and my clutter-free world mentality). It is also one of the titles that can be shared between Kindles, which is a plus.

The Woodcutter by Kate Danley available on Kindle

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Before I Go To Sleep: A Novel by SJ Watson

“It’s so difficult, isn’t it? To see what’s going on when you’re in the absolute middle of something? It’s only with hindsight we can see things for what they are.”

(This was a debut novel in June, 2011 and out in paperback a year ago. I read it then and LOVED it!!!)

I was not expecting much from the book as it was a debut novel, but I was incredibly, pleasantly surprised that Before I Go to Sleep is SJ Watson's first novel. I was not surprised to learn it is in development to be adapted into a movie. A little more research told me that this book had been highly reviewed in Booklist and Kirkus. It has what a story needs to make it a blockbuster, as long as Hollywood doesn't tweak it too much.

It begins with Christine waking up in a stranger's bed, unsure of how she got there. She believes she is in her 20's. But soon she learns that her bed mate is not a stranger, but is instead her husband Ben, that she is middle aged and doesn't remember a thing from the last 20 or so years. She has a very rare form of amnesia, and day-to-day memories are lost. She slowly processes all this, finding a journal that she writes to herself every day to help her remember. And the biggest shocker in this journal? A note written to herself with the pronunciation--"Don't Trust Ben!"

Readers unravel the mystery the same way Christine does, with the help of her journal. Every day she starts from square one, discovering what she has learned the days and weeks before with the help of her journal. You start to question reality and how we look at it. What is reality? Is it what people believe goes on or is it what really goes on? Is it the public face we put on or is it what goes on behind closed doors? And do we really want to know what goes on behind closed doors or are we happy with the reality we have created for our friends, our neighbors, ourselves?

This read, and the ride it takes us on, is mesmerizing and exciting, thrilling and gripping. The end does not disappoint. I highly recommend this book, and look forward to more books by Watson.

NOTE: I read pretty much everything in Kindle editions, so from now on I will only tell you what format I'm reading IF it isn't Kindle. I usually read on my Kindle Fire HD. I try to highlight my favorite quotes as I read, and will add them into my reviews for a little spice.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Hello World!!! Introduction to ME!!!

Well, hello world. This is my first blog post and I'm hoping to make it a nearly daily occurrence. That may be overly ambitious, but dream big, right?

First, let me tell you what I do for a living. I get to write daily, working as a legal reporter (NOT a court reporter with the weird typing machine) covering civil cases in Central Ohio (the Columbus area) for a daily report mainly sent to law offices and large companies. I also do some freelance writing and editing.

And now on to my blog . . . .

I read so much and many ask me what they should read. I love reading, love discussing what I read and love recommending books to others. I love submerging myself into another world, and I love exposing others to those worlds. Thus, this blog is born. I hope it provides insight to others.

Books have given me so much. They have lead me to new worlds and given me shelter when my world seemed unbearable (especially those traumatic tween and teen years). Books have taught me, and lead me to places that I want to learn about. They have helped me to be a better person and shown me what bad behavior can do to myself and others. It has also shown me that a little bad behavior can be a good thing--but just a little ;-).

I have also been on a journey to read some tween and YA books lately, as I have a daughter, nearly ten, who loves to read. Her reading ability is higher than her age, so I like to guide her to books that will expand her mind without exposing her to literature that will be over her head.

I also have an eight year old daughter with Down syndrome, so this is another journey I'm on. She's a great kid and pretty easy behavior-wise, but she has created another topic on the learning curve. She reads at about a first grade level, so picture books are good for her. I am constantly looking for good books for her to read, as well as for books that her sister and I can read to her. Any suggestions on this front are greatly appreciated.

As for me and reading, I read whenever possible. I read in the bathtub, while I blow dry my hair and put on my makeup (this isn't always successful). I read while eating (not when I'm with my family at the table, but lunches alone are a great reading time). I read while I exercise (my hour on the elliptical goes much faster with music and my Kindle). I read before bed and when I get up in the morning (as long as my girls aren't awake yet--this is the BEST time to read). I listen to books in the car and on my Kindle Fire HD while I work. I sometimes read during family movie time, or during mommy and daddy TV time.

Family photo- October, 2012
(we were at bro-in-laws wedding. We don't dress like this everyday ;-))

And the funniest thing, my husband doesn't read at all. He can't sit still for a whole book, and is dyslexic (this wasn't diagnosed until high school, so he didn't get much help in school). He is a culinary school trained chef and worked in the restaurant industry for many years, but has left that life to become a home restoration and renovation guy. He is very handy and I think he likes seeing his creativity put to different uses. He also has the ADHD thing going on, so staying active is really good for him and his slightly skewed, very creative mind.

So this is me and my family. Book reviews to follow.