1. Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness
From Amazon: "Picking up from A Discovery of Witches’ cliffhanger ending, Shadow of Night takes Diana and Matthew on a trip through time to Elizabethan London, where they are plunged into a world of spies, magic, and a coterie of Matthew’s old friends, the School of Night. As the search for Ashmole 782 deepens and Diana seeks out a witch to tutor her in magic, the net of Matthew’s past tightens around them, and they embark on a very different—and vastly more dangerous—journey."
My thoughts: This took me a long time to read, but it was a great book. I love reading different authors' interpretations of witch and vampire lore, and this one was very interesting. It's the second book in the series and thankfully did not end with a cliffhanger like the first one did. I don't think I could have handled that again. I really like teh character Diana Bishop. She does not let the controlling vampires control her life. I also love that she is a historian who gets to time travel. I am not a history buff, but I liked seeing her get excited about experienceing a different time and meeting all the people she had only read about before. 4/5 stars
2. Armada by Ernest Cline
From Amazon: "Zack Lightman has spent his life dreaming. Dreaming that the real world could be a little more like the countless science-fiction books, movies, and videogames he’s spent his life consuming. Dreaming that one day, some fantastic, world-altering event will shatter the monotony of his humdrum existence and whisk him off on some grand space-faring adventure.
But hey, there’s nothing wrong with a little escapism, right? After all, Zack tells himself, he knows the difference between fantasy and reality. He knows that here in the real world, aimless teenage gamers with anger issues don’t get chosen to save the universe.
And then he sees the flying saucer.
Even stranger, the alien ship he’s staring at is straight out of the videogame he plays every night, a hugely popular online flight simulator called Armada—in which gamers just happen to be protecting the earth from alien invaders.
No, Zack hasn’t lost his mind. As impossible as it seems, what he’s seeing is all too real. And his skills—as well as those of millions of gamers across the world—are going to be needed to save the earth from what’s about to befall it.
It’s Zack’s chance, at last, to play the hero. But even through the terror and exhilaration, he can’t help thinking back to all those science-fiction stories he grew up with, and wondering: Doesn’t something about this scenario seem a little…familiar? "
My thoughts: Like Ernest Cline's previous book, the story involves a video game and a lot of popular culture references from the 80s. The story was entertaining, although familiar and, at times, predictable. Overall I enjoyed the book and give it 3/5 stars.
3. Wild by Cheryl Strayed
From Amazon: "At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother's death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life: to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—and to do it alone. She had no experience as a long-distance hiker, and the trail was little more than “an idea, vague and outlandish and full of promise.” But it was a promise of piecing back together a life that had come undone.
Strayed faces down rattlesnakes and black bears, intense heat and record snowfalls, and both the beauty and loneliness of the trail. Told with great suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild vividly captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her."
My thoughts: Wow! I loved this book! It had me crying more than once, and the story was captivating. It left me feeling inspired and glad to be human. 5/5
4. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
From Amazon: "It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.
Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement."
My thoughts: It took me a while to get used to the writing style of this book. The lists at the beginning of the chapters and the narrator's blunt foreshadowing distracted me at times, especially at the beginning. Once I got used to the style, I enjoyed this book. 3/5