Saturday, December 31, 2011

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

In this thrilling debut young adult novel, the first of a quartet, Marissa Meyer introduces readers to an unforgettable heroine and a masterfully crafted new world that’s enthralling.

This book is a wonderful retelling of the Cinderella story, full of the wonder of the original fairytale, bur with a modern edge that will appeal to many young adult readers.

The world building is handled expertly, with just enough details to really submerge the reader, but never overwhelming him or her with too much at once. There is a great sense of urgency throughout the story. The plague that haunts Commonwealth, and the rest of Earth, gives the plot a good amount of tensions and moves the characters along at a nice pace. I do have to say, though, that the final “twist” wasn’t too original. The reader sees it coming from very early on, so it’s not quite as surprising as I’d have liked.

Cinder is an interesting character. She is a strong heroine, which is a nice contrast to the many weak female characters we read about in too many books nowadays. She is sarcastic and bold, and we are rooting for her from the very first page. Kai, the hero, is also a fun one to read about, as is the deliciously evil Queen Levana and her entourage.

This is definitely a young adult book to put on your list. It’s a thrilling mix of romance, adventure, and cyborgs. Who could ask for more?

Friday, December 30, 2011

Follow Friday

Q: The New Year is here — and everyone wants to know your New Years Blogging Resolution! What are you going to try to revise, revamp and redo for 2012 on your blog?

I would like to host more giveaways. I didn't get a chance to do too many this year, mainly because of lack of time, but hopefully in the coming year I can provide fun opportunities for my readers.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Deadly Disclosures by Julie Cave

A Suspense-filled fiction mystery which answers an ominous question: How far will some go to silence an influential Christian voice?
Thomas Whitfield, proud Secretary of the Smithsonian and its extensive scientific influence, has disappeared from his office with foul play suspected. Dinah Harris, an FBI agent struggling with alcohol and depression, is seeking answers amidst the fallout of her own personal issues. Whitfield's body is eventually found, and other people connected to him begin dying as well, ultimately exposing a broader conspiracy connected to him begin dying as well, ultimately exposing a broader conspiracy connected to Whitfield's recent conversion to Christ and promotion of a biblical worldview in an academic world of financial gain hostile to this concept. Will Dinah be able to experience the redemptive power of Christ before it's too late? Or will the ominous danger stalking her investigation claim another victim?

This was an interesting book to read. It is a mystery novel mixed in with theology, which made it sometimes a fascinating read while other times a bit frustrating to follow.

The book’s strength lies in the detective aspect. Dinah, the main character, is an FBI agent with quite a lot of problems of her own. Her characterization was well done, making her likeable even at her worst. She is a strong heroine with lots of spunk who lit up the pages in which she appeared. Ferguson, her partner, makes for a good foil for her, and they both make a good addition to the mystery genre.

The main issue I had with the book is the amount of religion involved. The plot line, of course, necessitates some theology, but not to the level or degree present in this story. Although I am a staunch believer in evolution, I would have gladly gone along with a premise in which creationism is the key if it had been less preachy. The way the conflict between evolution vs. creationism is shown starts off well, but then veers off into conjecture and Bible-preaching. Many scenes with Andy and Thomas could have been shortened considerably or erased altogether, since it felt more like their conversations were crafted to convince the reader than to advance the plot. Speaking as a non-Christian, it was hard to stay interested in the preaching, leaving me anxious for the story to move along.

This is a good mystery story and I know a lot of people will enjoy it. The main character did hook me enough to make me want to read the next book in the series, regardless of what I thought of the amount of religion involved, so definitely give it a try.

WWW Wednesdays

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

I am currently reading Deadly Disclosures by Julie Cave

And Fall of the Birds by Bradford Morrow

I just finished reading Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel. You can read my review here.

Next, I'll probably read The Shadowed Mind by Julie Cave.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

From Diabolical by Cynthia Leitich Smith"Zachary is immortal. He wears a gleaming holy sword with a gold hilt, a weapon forged in heaven."
pg. 10

Monday, December 26, 2011

Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel

Love can never die.

Love conquers all, so they say. But can Cupid’s arrow pierce the hearts of the living and the dead—or rather, the undead? Can a proper young Victorian lady find true love in the arms of a dashing zombie?

The year is 2195. The place is New Victoria—a high-tech nation modeled on the manners, mores, and fashions of an antique era. A teenager in high society, Nora Dearly is far more interested in military history and her country’s political unrest than in tea parties and debutante balls. But after her beloved parents die, Nora is left at the mercy of her domineering aunt, a social-climbing spendthrift who has squandered the family fortune and now plans to marry her niece off for money. For Nora, no fate could be more horrible—until she’s nearly kidnapped by an army of walking corpses.

But fate is just getting started with Nora. Catapulted from her world of drawing-room civility, she’s suddenly gunning down ravenous zombies alongside mysterious black-clad commandos and confronting “The Laz,” a fatal virus that raises the dead—and hell along with them. Hardly ideal circumstances. Then Nora meets Bram Griswold, a young soldier who is brave, handsome, noble . . . and dead. But as is the case with the rest of his special undead unit, luck and modern science have enabled Bram to hold on to his mind, his manners, and his body parts. And when his bond of trust with Nora turns to tenderness, there’s no turning back. Eventually, they know, the disease will win, separating the star-crossed lovers forever. But until then, beating or not, their hearts will have what they desire.

In Dearly, Departed, romance meets walking-dead thriller, spawning a madly imaginative novel of rip-roaring adventure, spine-tingling suspense, and macabre comedy that forever redefines the concept of undying love.

I never thought that zombies could be anything but gory, so I was surprised at how easily this book changed my view of them. It makes them much more sympathetic, more like the conflicted vampires we’ve all grown used to.

The author does a fantastic job of creating the steam-punk feel. She balances the old Victorian style with the modern in a way that doesn’t shock the reader too much. I do have to say some of the language is a bit too modern, even for steam-punk novels, but it doesn’t deter from the plot too much. The story line is fast-paced once it gets started, but it takes just a bit of time for it to get rolling. One of the biggest issues with the book, I felt, were the many viewpoints. It would have been enough to just have had Bram’s and Nora’s, without spending so much time with some of the side characters. Even Victor’s chapters were not entirely necessary. That did slow the pace down and detracted from the main plot.

The characters are fun, Bram being the most charismatic, with Nora taking second chair. She is sarcastic and a strong female character, which is a relief after many of the young adult books that like damsels in absolute distress.

This a fun, quick read that will please most young adult novel readers.

Musing Mondays

This week’s musing asks…

Did you get any books for Christmas? If so, what were they?

If you didn’t, what books are you most looking forward to reading (and/or buying) in the new year?

I didn't get any books for the holidays, which is fine since I have a monstruous TBR pile to get through. Hmm, well, I'm looking forward to reading Bonnie by Iris Johansen. Oh, and The Wind Through the Keyhole, which is a new addition to the Dark Tower series by Stephen King.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Lost Argument by Therese Doucet

The summer after her freshman year at all-Mormon Brigham Young University, Marguerite Farnsworth falls in love with philosophy by way of falling in love with an atheist philosophy student. Her search for Truth (with a capital T), God, the meaning of life, and a boyfriend leads her away from religious belief, but along the way she learns there are things even atheists can have faith in.

This is an intriguing book. It was a fun and thought-provoking story that surprised me with its sharp psychology as well as with its take on philosophy.

I enjoyed the main character, Marguerite, a complex young woman searching for Truth, and, possibly, for love. Her diary entries were my favorite part, since we got an honest look into the psyche of someone struggling with faith and with life in general. She had some moments where her indecisiveness made the reader want to throttle her, but I suppose that’s something that we all go through, so in that manner, is portrayed realistically. The rest of the characters are also well-written, especially John, who is just as interesting. I actually wish we’d learned a bit more about him as the novel progresses, but it doesn’t really deter from the plot as a whole.

The writing is clear, with very little grammatical mistakes. Although there is a lot of philosophy, it is clearly written, even, I think for a lay-person to grasp without too much problems. I found myself engrossed in the existential crises that Marguerite faces, nodding my head at some of her thoughts and feelings. I can easily recommend this for those of you looking for something that will provoke a very heated discussion with your own head.

Happy Holidays!

Barbossa, my lovely boa, would love to wish you all happy, happy holidaysssss!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Follow Friday

Q: If you had to spend eternity inside the pages of a book which book would you choose and why?

I would have to choose the world of Dragonlance, either during the War of the Lance, or right after, when the Companions were for the majority, all there. I'd like to visit the Inn of the Last Home, possibly even Raistlin's tower in Palanthas. Although that would take some serious guts.
How about you?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Booking Through Thursday

Any books you’re hoping to get for the holidays this year?

How about giving? Are you giving any good ones?

Perhaps the new Stephen King book, but really, there are so many great books out there that I'd be happy with getting any of the new or old ones.
I am giving so many books as gifts. Actually, that's all I'm giving my family, about twenty books each that I've been collecting over the year and from the huge book sale we have here in Miami in early December. I still ahven't wrapped them up yet though, so that's going to take me a while. A long while.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Tiwaka Goes to Waikiki by Everett Peacock

A magical and well textured addition to the series!
Tiwaka gets his Flight Status upgraded and soon gets in trouble in the tropical skies of Hawaii. After landing in faraway Waikiki he finds he is not the only parrot in trouble.

Book 3 in the continuing adventures of Tiwaka and his crew from Tiwaka's Tiki Bar & Grill.

The third book in the Tiwaka Tiki series, this is a wonderful addition to the previous books. Full of the rich atmosphere we’ve grown used to and relating mainly to our favorite parrot, Tiwaka, this was a fun read.

The book begins a little after the second book, with the narrator’s child already born and things having settled back to normal. Until, that is, Tiwaka learns to fly. He really is the protagonist from the beginning, lighting up the scenes he appears in. We get to see a different side of Tiwaka, allowing him to become a full-fledged character in our minds. I must say, he did worry me quite a bit when he gets caught in a serious storm. But we know that there is a happy ending coming; nothing else is possible in this sunny series.

The writing is light, easy, and most definitely does not get in the way of the plot. We meet some very interesting new characters that make us laugh, and some which are not so friendly to our favorite parrot. Well-written, they all have their own way of speaking, making them into real-life people.

I can easily recommend this book. I always have lots of fun following the Tiki cast on their fabulous adventures, and this one has the added bonus of even more Tiwaka! It probably would be better to read at least one of the previous books, but it might be possible to read on its own.

WWW Wednesdays

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently, I'm reading Cinder by Marissa Meyer

And A Lost Argument by Therese Doucet

I just finished reading Immortal Bird by Doron Weber. A fantastic memoir. You can read my review here.

Next, I'll probably read The Legacy of Eden by Nelle Davy.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Immortal Bird: A Family Memoir by Doron Weber

"Maybe I’ve finally beaten this thing, maybe three years’ struggle will not have been in vain. Maybe this is finally over . . .” —from Damon’s blog, May 2004 A FAMILY’ S LOVE lies at the heart of this gifted boy’s fight to survive. Born with a congenital heart defect that required surgery when he was a baby, Damon Weber lives a big life with spirit and independence that have always been a source of pride to his parents, Doron and Shealagh. But when Damon is diagnosed with a new illness as a teenager, his triumphant coming-of-age tale turns into a darker and more dramatic quest: his family’s race against time and a flawed heath care system.Immortal Bird is a searing account of a father’s struggle to save his remarkable son, a story of a young boy’s passion for life, and a tribute to his family’s love. It is also a story of the perils of modern medicine and the redemptive power of art in the face of the unthinkable.

What a devastating, beautiful book. I finished it last night, and it is still haunting me. This is a memoir chronicling a father’s love for his very ill son, Damon. From the first page, this book will grab hold of you, first subtly, then much more forcefully, until you are engrossed in this family’s struggles.

What makes this memoir so haunting is how Mr. Weber brings his son to absolute life in these pages. Damon spills over, out of the printed words, full of energy, taking hold of the reader’s heart in a way that I’ve not encountered in a memoir in a long time, if ever. I am not one to shed tears while reading, but this book broke that rule many times over. The love this family had for Damon shines through in all these pages. It is a difficult book to read, but there is so much hope also enmeshed in the narration, in Mr. Weber’s voice, that it is bittersweet rather than completely depressing.

Some of the most difficult parts to read are the horrors that Damon and his family go through after his heart transplant. The lack of care from the supposed medical experts was a shock to the senses. It’s incredible to think that if they’d done their job, this family’s life could have been changed. If the cavalier way they treated Damon’s health is enough to anger a reader, imagine what it must have done to his loved ones?

There are no real words to express how much this book struck me. I will be recommending it to everyone I know because this is a must-read. As soon as it comes out (next February), go grab a copy.

Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

From Fall of the Birds by Bradford Morrow

"She finger-combed her long auburn hair, unevenly parted down the middle, off her furrowed forehead. Her sky-blue yes, catching the morning sun, looked almost backlit."
pg. 5

Monday, December 19, 2011

Musing Mondays

This week’s musing asks…
What’s one book you always recommend to just about anyone?

I usually recommend The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (I know, shocking!). Not everyone enjoys it, but I think it's a book that needs to be read.