Thursday, March 19, 2015

And she always expected the worst in the back of her mind.

The Shadow Cabinet (Shades of London, #3)The Shadow Cabinet by Maureen Johnson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read nearly 3/4 of this book curled up in my easy chair while the kids napped, snow falling softly outside. It is rare that I get that much peace and quiet anymore, so I roared through the book, wanting to finish it before the twins awoke and shattered the peace.

Therefore, any nitpicks I have about anything in the book feeling rushed are no doubt of my own doing, as I manically flipped pages, wanting to find out what happened to Rory and the rest of the gang. When the series is over, I look forward to reading all the books again, and savoring them a bit more.

Needless to say, I loved this book. Definitely my favorite novel to date this year. I am sure Johnson's Shade of London series isn't for everyone, but I've fallen for American-based Rory, a transplant in London, who can now see ghosts. It sounds preposterous, but Johnson has made it work- and work well- in all three novels so far. I love Rory, I love her character, and I love the group of people she's come to surround herself in London - far away from the home she knows in New Orleans.

*spoilers if you haven't read the first two books - which you should, immediately!*

In book three, Rory is dealing with the grief of losing Stephen, as the team frantically tries to find his ghost. They are also trying to find her prefect, Charlotte, who was kidnapped by Rory's therapist, Jane. We learn more about Jane and her past involvement in an ancient cult and a likely string of murders. It all involves a much bigger plot involving London's ability to harness its dead, and the existence of a murky, rumored government organization who polices ghosts.

We also meet a new character in this novel, Freddie (a girl), who is quite bright, but of whom I still remain suspicious - silly, perhaps, but it's so hard to trust new people coming into the gang. We see more of Jerome, which is nice, and Boo and Callum, of course. There's actually less focus on actual ghosts than you'd think and more on some big conspiracies, but it all works, really well. The camaraderie of the team, and the way Johnson voices Rory is just lovely, and the book reads so well. Even what should be a crazy plot is made readable and believable through the lens of these developed characters.

As always, I'm left a bit bereft, waiting for the next book. (And, for the record, I finished the last few pages right before the twins woke up. I feel like that's fate, right?)

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And his mouth so quick to mock.

 True to my word, I read a book about Michael Jordan after my last couple of less than fruitful reads.

Michael Jordan: The LifeMichael Jordan: The Life by Roland Lazenby

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm a huge Michael Jordan fan, so I was excited to read this book. It was definitely a worthwhile read, especially if you're a basketball, MJ, or Chicago Bulls fan. The level of detail is amazing, and I learned a lot about Michael's early years, especially, as well as some great facts about his college selection process, his first deals with Nike and such. If you're a sports geek, you'll eat this stuff up.

The book picks up speed once Michael joins the Bulls and sort of blows through his Championships. I get it - there are plenty of other reads about those events (including some by Lazenby himself, I believe), but I wouldn't have minded a few more details about some of his years with the Bulls.

If those years go by quickly in the book, his time after the Bulls is really glossed over. For me, that was the one real disappointment of this biography. That's sort of the part of MJ that's such a mystery and it was a little sad not to know more about what he's up to these days. There is, however, some great information about his time with the Wizards organization.

All told, even when some of the years pass by quickly, the book is a worthy read. I think it presents a pretty fair portrait of Jordan. He's recognized as a hero to many, but Lazenby certainly brings in quotes and perspectives from all sides, including those who don't always sing his praises. You learn a lot about MJ's childhood and family make-up and how it created the determined, competitive individual that he is. If you're a fan, there are some quotes that will make you laugh out loud and other passages that will fascinate you. And there are plenty of little tidbits you can trot out at dinner parties... (ok, ok, maybe just with your other sports nerds friends. But there are lots of fun stories and facts throughout the book!)

By the end you'll know a lot about Michael, but still be left wondering a bit. But perhaps that's the key to Jordan all along.

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