Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Reached by Allie Condie

Reached (Matched, #3)Reached by Ally Condie
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I loved the first book of this series. The second book I really liked although it kind of dragged. I feel pretty "Meh" about the final book. Instead of trying to impress anybody of my superior intellect and deep creative style, I will tell the truth. I didn't get it.

Poetry is dropped into the prose and no matter how much I twisted it, I couldn't see how it fit or made sense with the story. I am also somewhat certain that the colors were significant but I couldn't quite make a satisying connection. I think there was a lot of symbolism in the pictures, the Gallery, the poetry, the physic, poet, and pilot but I failed to see a logical connection. It felt like walking into the middle of a conversation where norms had already been established as had inside understanding but I missed it thus didn't understand the significance.

If you've already read the first two books of the trilogy, I recommend finishing it off with the third. I think I would also suggest starting over, though. I read the books as the came out so each one was a year apart. Maybe I would have understood the symbolism and connected the logic if the other books were fresher on my mind.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness GIVEAWAY!

Yay! A GIVEAWAY!

I read this book last month and was completely FASCINATED.

My review is HERE.
Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness

I have one copy available to give to you.

Yes, you.

If you are a resident of Canada or United States and have a physical (not P.O. box) address.

And you win, of course.

I hope you do, by the way.

If you can't see form below, click HERE.

Monday, November 26, 2012

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

I'm sorry, kids. I've been more distracted than usual with my life and have found it harder and harder to skip reality and sneak into a book, much less blog about it. I'm not trying to win sympathy points because I know we all have stuff going on but prior to this new season I was reflecting on the smooth ride I was enjoying between crises.

It was so nice. 

 Then I got a job transfer and it's much worse than I anticipated. I won't go there but it's changed my perception of desire to get up in the morning. Then my husband was informed he needed a little brain surgery. Nothing serious, the doctor just wanted to shave his head, cut his flesh, power saw a piece of skull to remove it, then pull out a little extra growth that had accumulated. The new colleagues were less than sympathetic. 

 On the positive side, the brain surgery went well. Hubby is feeling nearly 100% aside from headaches and fatigue. He's a trooper. My oldest is making college applications and scored 29 on the ACT. My kids are healthy, my husband is healing and my dog hasn't killed any of my chickens in 6 months. I still have my books. 

 So here is my Monday book list: 

 Right now I am reading: Nothing. Sorry about that. Got you all worked up and I haven't cracked a book all day. Bummer. 

 But. I just finished reading:

 

Books I'm eyeing to read this week:
 
I'm not going to lie. I won't read them all. I might read something else. But these are the books striking my fancy right at this moment.

Someday I will write a book called The Art of Escaping from Reality. It will include a list of my favorite books, a story about my blogging, and of course, a couple of chapters on my chickens.

A summary is this:

video

Poison Princess by Kresley Cole

Poison Princess (The Arcana Chronicles, #1)Poison Princess by Kresley Cole
My rating:
4 of 5 stars

This one took a few pages to really get into it. It starts out with the usual suspects ofrr cute high school girl dating popular guy. Enter bad boy that makes good girl want to kiss him. Smell him. Yawn.

Countdown begins and Evie has a birthday bash. She also spent some time in the loony bin last summer but nobody knows. She is tired of cute football star but he is pressuring her to give him her V card. Bad boy Cajun redneck is rude, crude, and inconsiderate.

Apocolypse. Not many left and resources running dry, Cajun boy, ironically named for his always present flask, Jackson Daniels, drops by and he and Evie spend the next month together having adventures.

What the book lacks in character depth and development is compensated plus some in world building and story telling. There are cryptic clues that don't make sense but dangle until the next chapter or two. Not being familiar with Tarot cards, I still understood the storyline perfectly and hadno problem following the plot and the revelation of what the Tarot cards represent.

I honestly nearly give the book five stars because the storyline is so intriguing and revealed at a well planned pace. The reason I don't rate it higher is the simple fact that, even after reading 500 pages, I still didn't know enough about the characters.

But.

It is not over. Pertinent questions are answered yet the book ends on a good cliff hanger.

View all my reviews *I received a free copy of this book from publishing company in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Friday, November 23, 2012

City of Women by David R. Gillham

City of WomenCity of Women by David R. Gillham
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Description: Whom do you trust, whom do you love, and who can be saved?  

It is 1943—the height of the Second World War—and Berlin has essentially become a city of women.

Sigrid Schröder is, for all intents and purposes, the model German soldier’s wife: She goes to work every day, does as much with her rations as she can, and dutifully cares for her meddling mother-in-law, all the while ignoring the horrific immoralities of the regime. But behind this façade is an entirely different Sigrid, a woman who dreams of her former lover, now lost in the chaos of the war. Her lover is a Jew.

But Sigrid is not the only one with secrets. 

A high ranking SS officer and his family move down the hall and Sigrid finds herself pulled into their orbit.  A young woman doing her duty-year is out of excuses before Sigrid can even ask her any questions.  And then there’s the blind man selling pencils on the corner, whose eyes Sigrid can feel following her from behind the darkness of his goggles.

Soon Sigrid is embroiled in a world she knew nothing about, and as her eyes open to the reality around her, the carefully constructed fortress of solitude she has built over the years begins to collapse. She must choose to act on what is right and what is wrong, and what falls somewhere in the shadows between the two. 

In this page-turning novel, David Gillham explores what happens to ordinary people thrust into extraordinary times, and how the choices they make can be the difference between life and death.

My thoughts: What I liked: The point of view of women left in Berlin in 1943. All the Aryan men were gone off to fight a war they wouldn't win. The men who were left were too young to fight, making them boys, or too old. Occasionally, one would come across a man of interesting age but he was usually carrying falsified papers that kept him out of war or prison camps or was Gestapo or some other police.

So in a country of women where the double chromosome is only valued for giving birth to and raising Aryan children, preferably male children, what do the childless women do? This is the story of what some of them do.

What I didn't like: The characters. None of them were terribly endearing. What they said, what they did, their motivations were all disturbing. It's difficult to judge their actions or inaction being Berlin during WWII and I think it was still heroic to save the underdog even when the punishment was torture then death. I just didn't quite understand the main conflict. It was more of the story of one woman whose husband has gone off to war and she occupies her time by working at an office then committing adultery in dark theaters or wherever it can be done outside of her mother in law's eyes. Then she is pulled into an underground network which I thought would surely bring some interest to the story. She thinks she may be harboring her lover's wife and children. But even that conflict doesn't completely bring satisfaction.

I did like the fact that the story is not one more book to shock the reader of the atrocities of WWII and what they did to Jews and political prisoners. There is some shocking detail of Gestapo and concentration camps but it is more of a foreign film with subtitles. The protagonist quietly goes about her business without guilt or shame, growing a conscience when it seems to suit her mood.

It's an interesting book for the simple fact of the point of view. The writing is superb. The characters are unlikeable, though. The story is not terribly engaging. I have no real complaints nor raves. It's a "Meh" book.


Monday, November 19, 2012

Witch World by Christopher Pike Review

Witch WorldWitch World by Christopher Pike
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Description: Witches are real—and each of us may be one—in this all-new paranormal suspense novel from #1 New York Timesbestselling author Christopher Pike.Heading off for a weekend in Las Vegas with her friends, Jessie Ralle has only one worry—how to make it through the road trip in the same car with her Ex, Jimmy Kelter. The guy who broke her heart five months ago when he dumped her for no reason. The guy who’s finally ready to tell her why he did it, because he wants her back.

But what Jessie doesn’t realize is that Jimmy is the least of her problems.

In Las Vegas she meets Russ, a mesmerizing stranger who shows her how to gamble, and who never seems to lose. Curious, Jessie wants to know his secret, and in response, alone in his hotel room, he teaches her a game that opens a door to another reality.

To Witch World.

Suddenly Jessie discovers that she’s stumbled into a world where some people can do the impossible, and others may not even be human. For a time she fears she’s lost her mind. Are there really witches? Is she one of them?

#1 Bestselling author Christopher Pike offers up another classic edge-of-your-seat thrill ride that keeps you guessing right until the last page
My thoughts: I didn't hate it but I seriously question a ghost writer in the background. I read a rough copy which was somewhere in the neighborhood of 500 pages, deliberating over witchy fight moves and all of Jessica's and Jessie's flighty thoughts. Character development was sparse. I never really liked any of the characters. The protagonist waxed on about the love between her and Jimmy but I found little evidence of love and/or commitment. In fact, the lack of character and relationship detail led me to feel the writing was sophomoric.

The story line was a little hard to follow, too. There were a number of holes logic. The protagonist was unpredictable as was everybody else. Jessie was supposedly a nice, good girl but turned so quickly I got whiplash and she had to keep reminding the reader that she was a good girl. Even after undressing for a few different men. Then she killed a couple of people. Mmmkay.

On the positive side, it has promise to develop into an interesting story. So far, I'm not grabbed. It's Meh.


*I received a free copy of this book from publishing company in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan

Brain on Fire: My Month of MadnessBrain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Description: A gripping memoir and medical suspense story about a young New York Post reporter’s struggle with a rare and terrifying disease, opening a new window into the fascinating world of brain science.

One day, Susannah Cahalan woke up in a strange hospital room, strapped to her bed, under guard, and unable to move or speak. Her medical records—from a month-long hospital stay of which she had no memory—showed psychosis, violence, and dangerous instability. Yet, only weeks earlier she had been a healthy, ambitious twenty-four year old, six months into her first serious relationship and a sparkling career as a cub reporter. 

Susannah’s astonishing memoir chronicles the swift path of her illness and the lucky, last-minute intervention led by one of the few doctors capable of saving her life. As weeks ticked by and Susannah moved inexplicably from violence to catatonia, $1 million worth of blood tests and brain scans revealed nothing. The exhausted doctors were ready to commit her to the psychiatric ward, in effect condemning her to a lifetime of institutions, or death, until Dr. Souhel Najjar—nicknamed Dr. House—joined her team. He asked Susannah to draw one simple sketch, which became key to diagnosing her with a newly discovered autoimmune disease in which her body was attacking her brain, an illness now thought to be the cause of “demonic possessions” throughout history. 

With sharp reporting drawn from hospital records, scientific research, and interviews with doctors and family, Brain on Fire is a crackling mystery and an unflinching, gripping personal story that marks the debut of an extraordinary writer.


My thoughts: I rarely read memoirs. Too often the author spends far too much time painting themselves in the best possible light and/or justifying their behavior. It is a rare and gifted author that can objectively describe a personal event without infusing it with strong emotions.

Perhaps Susannah was able to accomplish this huge feat due to the simple fact that she was unaware of herself much of the time that her brain was inflamed. She begins with the first noticeable symptom; a couple of bed bug bites that were probably hallucinations and escalates from there. Some of it remembers in bits and pieces right up until her major seizure which wasn't a pretty picture, nor did she try to paint it as such. Rushed to the hospital, her mind is blank for the next month until she is correctly diagnosed and begins the slow healing process.

I found Susannah's story absolutely fascinating. She fairly balances her experiences with simple medical terminology, cites doctors notes and tries to piece together a chronological picture of her sickness, interactions with those who love her, and hospital video. She describes her intense and insane mindset without previously establishing her basic personality. This is an excellent strategy as her writing style and brief "normal" clearly defines her as an intelligent and engaging young woman. The fact that she is confident enough to allow the reader to arrive at this conclusion endeared her to me all the more by trusting the reader.

Although I recoil when an author writes a book with an agenda, Susannah's agenda is simply awareness of the possibility that mental illness can be physiological in nature, caused by a virus or bacteria, changing the personality of a person to such an extreme that mental illness is diagnosed and the person spends the rest of her life in an institution. Susannah was greatly blessed by intersecting with a doctor who had recently made the discovery of this malady.

It's an amazing story and Susannah is an extremely gifted writer. This reader was stunned to do the math on Susannah's age. She was 24 when she fell victim to this illness and no more than 27 or 28 when she reconstructed the time period and wrote the book. I can't wait to see what else she publishes.

 *I received a free copy of this book from publishing company in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Walking Disaster by Jamie McGuire

Walking Disaster (Beautiful, #2)Walking Disaster by Jamie McGuire
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My thoughts: Against all my moral fiber, I loved this book. I read the first book, Beautiful Disaster which is the same story but from Abby's perspective. Loved it against my moral judgment. I loved Abby. I loved Travis. I understood Abby to some extent. I didn't understand Travis as well but I loved him, anyway.

Wouldn't you think I would be bored reading the same story over again? Not even close. From Travis' perspective, it's a new story. I understood Travis much better and loved his brothers and dad since they got more story time. I was more frustrated with Abby but understood her better.

I love Travis.

Epilogue: Oh. I can't even express how poetic. Don't read ahead. It's just a little nugget that brings it a little more real-life, sweet, and poetic justice.

*HUGE PARENTAL WARNINGS* Travis is a man whore. That said, I was very surprised and pleased with the way some of the more objectional behavior is described in retrospect from a drunk induced fog, making details difficult to remember but enough remembered for Travis to panic.

That isn't to say there isn't more sexual detail than I'd be comfortable handing off to my daughters. Way more than I'd want them to read. I'm surprised I enjoyed it so much especially because I just don't read romance novels. To clarify, this is not a traditional romance novel. It's a relationship novel. It's the story of Abby and Travis and their struggles to find equilibrium in a relationship.

Dialogue - Heavy sexual content
Sex - Already covered but very heavy
Language - Extreme. If you are sensitive to the "F" word, don't read it. I'm sensitive to it but I've taught myself to skip over it. But be forewarned that it is there. Much more so than the first book. Abby didn't have a foul mouth, as a rule. Travis thinks foul, talks foul. You'll still love him.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Who Could That Be At This Hour? by Lemony Snicket

Who Could That Be At This Hour?Who Could That Be At This Hour? by Lemony Snicket
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In a fading town, far from anyone he knew or trusted, a young Lemony Snicket began his apprenticeship in an organization nobody knows about. He started by asking questions that shouldn't have been on his mind. Now he has written an account that should not be published, in four volumes that shouldn't be read. This is the first volume.

The first volume in the four-part autobiographical account of his childhood, called All the Wrong Questions, will be released on Oct. 23, 2012. This will be Snicket’s first new series since the wildly popular A Series of Unfortunate Events.

My thoughts: I couldn't stop smiling. Definitely ridiculous, filled with information that may or may not be useful, a bizarre cast of characters, it's supposedly autobiographical because, of course, why wouldn't a 12 year old boy apprentice with a weird woman who is rates 52nd out of 52? Why wouldn't he climb out of a window from a train station restaurant where the couple who is tearfully bidding him goodbye and are not his parents?

If you liked Series of Unfortunate Events, you are guaranteed to like this series. It's trademark Snicket (whoever he is) and filled with All The Wrong Questions.


*I received a free copy of this book from publishing company in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor Review

Days of Blood and Starlight (Daughter of Smoke and Bone, #2)Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Description: Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a world free of bloodshed and war.

This is not that world.

Ar student and monster's apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought. She knows who she is--and what she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: She loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it.

In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Karou must decide how far she'll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, secrets and impossible choices, Days of Blood & Starlight finds Karou and Akiva on opposing sides as an age-old war stirs back to life.

While Karou and her allies build a monstrous army in a land of dust and starlight, Akiva wages a different sort of battle: a battle for redemption. For hope.

But can any hope be salvaged from the ashes of their broken dream?

My thoughts: You must read the first book before embarking on the second. The first book is easy to read even with the foreign words and names. It sets the backdrop beginning in Prague. The author writes comprehensive scenes that are stunningly, beautiful, and horrible. The first book gives the reader a background of the protagonist and her love story with the angel, Akiva. It is also a story of her previous life, told on flashes. Oddly, she is from a different world and raised by Chimera yet this is not her first life. I won't rehash the story. Mostly because I would need to read it again to remember what Akiva did. Suffice it to say, at the root of it all, it is a love story that is against all odds.

This book has the undertone of the previous love story but is primarily a brutal war story. Be forewarned that the violence is beyond brutal. It is disturbingly so. The angels and beasts step up their efforts to terrorize and annihilate. Meanwhile, both halves of the couple who are no longer a couple evolve based on their dream of the previous book.

Although the book is huge and I felt disappointed in the lack of connection between the star crossed former lovers, once I got past the brutality, I recognized the growth that needed to take place apart from one another. It is incremental which makes it much more realistic. A strange trait for a book of this genre, given the Chimeras, angels, and resurrectionists. I can hardly wait for the third book.


Monday, November 5, 2012

Badlands Bride by Adrianne Wood

Badlands BrideBadlands Bride by Adrianne Wood
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I read this book by accident, thinking it was another book that was highly recommended. I wouldn't highly recommend this book but I wouldn't dissuade, either. It's a typical romance novel (which I rarely read) with a cowboy, stagecoach edge. Mason is the love interest, Lily is the grand daughter of a rich tycoon. The couple are reluctantly drawn to one another, end up having sex a few times, and so on.

It's a nice smut read, as far as smut goes. It isn't over the top smut. Romance sprinkled with a satisfying amount of sex. Both protagonists are likeable. Villain is included along with an interesting story line.


Saturday, November 3, 2012

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

My Life Next DoorMy Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The hardest reviews to write are of the books I hated and the books I loved. I feel like I have to justify the extremes, especially when there were parts of the book that I didn't love/hate. So there are parts that aren't perfect but the important parts are wonderful.

The storyline: Wonderful. It's a simple story of real first love with a conflict occurring where Samantha feels she has to choose between her boyfriend and her mother. It's a standard story of girl meets boy from the other side of the tracks and falls in love except MUCH, MUCH better written than I've read before. Written with Samantha's point of view which is seeing Jase as kind, handsome, family-centered boy that she meets and character development completely justifies why Samantha would fall for him.

Character Development: Much, much more than smoldering eyes, smelling of patchouli, rippling muscles, repeat 35 times. Jase is good. He's only forbidden fruit because his family brings down the property values in the neighborhood. They keep having kids, don't put away their toys, and the mother breast feeds on the front porch. Gasp! Yet the author describes interactions between Jase and his mother, Jase and his father, Jase and his siblings. There is tension, at times, but Jase is boy fully in love with his family. Which makes the interaction between Samantha and Jase that much sweeter.

Well written protagonist. She could be any girl except her mother has a trust fund and is a senator. She's not a girl you love for her character. You love her because you could be her.

Her mother and the creepy southern guy. Oh. My. Nicely written. Good arguments that made my stomach turn. Very manipulative.

Tim. Oh how I loved Tim. He became a somewhat peripheral figure but he was necessary and completely lovable character. He's what drew all the loose ends together. He's the completely flawed friend who has screwed up his life beyond recognition and is justthisclose from being sent off to a wilderness/military reform. Yet he's the person that encompasses the major theme of the book. Mistakes are made but can be forgiven. People can change.

The mother in me feels the need to make disclaimers. The woman in me loved these aspects, anyway. Swearing is intense when the scene is played out with Tim. He has a very bad mouth. You can't help but love the boy, though. Language can be narrowed down to innuendo. It's not bad. Sex is definitely present. Some details are revealed but again, I think they were necessary. It's not painted as a wonderful ABC movie of the night. Logistics are discussed in enough detail to explain why teenage sex is an interesting endeavor.

*I received a free copy of this book from publishing company in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Collateral by Ellen Hopkins

CollateralCollateral by Ellen Hopkins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Goodreads: The gripping story of a woman torn between love for her boyfriend, a dedicated Marine deployed to Afghanistan, and the resentment she has for the war that is tearing their lives apart.

Written in Hopkins’s stunning poetic verse style, Collateral centers on Ashley, an MFA student at San Diego State University. She grew up reading books and never dreamed she would become a military wife. One night she meets a handsome soldier named Cole. He doesn’t match the stereotype of the aggressive military man. He’s passionate and romantic. He even writes poetry. Their relationship evolves into a sexually charged love affair that goes on for five years and survives four deployments. Cole wants Ashley to marry him, but when she meets another man, a professor with similar pursuits and values, she begins to see what life might be like outside the shadow of war.

Collateral captures the hearts of the soldiers on the battlefield and the minds of the friends, family, and lovers they leave behind. Those who remain at home may be far away from the relentless, sand-choked skies of the Middle East and the crosshairs of a sniper rifle, but just the same, all of them will sacrifice a part of themselves for their country and all will eventually ask themselves if the collateral damage caused by war is worth the fight.


My thoughts: It's not fair to compare a writer's own works against her previous ones. Without knowing the author's previous work, I would still give this one 4 stars. It is Hopkins's staple gritty difficult life scenarios and written in verse. Although I read the ARC form so final copy may change, the poetry was not as aesthetically pleasing as previous books.

The story is about Ashley and her ling relationship with a boy turned soldier. Told in alternating time periods that work toward one another, we are given a front row seat of Ashley and Cole's romance for over five years until the time coalesces then passes itself. Every so often Cole writes some prose.

As a rule, I don't like poetry. I am not a fan of having to dig through meaning. Hopkins's style is largely prose that is easy on the eyes, melodic in structure yet spare. She concisely tells the story with as little words as possible which makes it all the more powerful.

The book is an amalgamation of what war does to couples and individuals. Some couples adjust but most fight the separation. They fight. Soldiers change and often become callous. Some come home physically damaged. Many come home emotionally and mentally damaged. Some don't come home at all.

It's masterful the way Hopkins writes. But be aware of very strong language and dialogue, adult themes, details to see how encounters and tough topics. My issue with this book is that I never felt connected to the protagonist thus I had a difficult time empathizing with her throughout. It is still a worthwhile read but definitely not delicate.

View all my reviews
*I received a free copy of this book from publishing company in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed here are my own.