Monday, December 31, 2012

2012: A Look Back

So here we are, on the cusp of a new year. I have barely felt the passing of the months, but as I look back at the list of books, 175 of them, to be precise, I've read this year, I am pulled back in time.
I skim through the titles and remember bits and pieces of where I was while reading it, what was happening in my life. The positive things, the worries, all imprinted into the pages of each book.

As every year, I've had a few books that have stood apart from the "crowd". These are the books that have stayed with me as I made my way through this year, helping me and inspiring me.

One of these was The Cranes Dance by Meg Howrey, a gorgeous novel. You can read my review here.
Another  was the middle grade novel The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen. Clever bit of storytelling. My review is here.
I do have to say that Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn has to be my absolute favorite read this year. An incredible story. You can read my review here.
Another fabulous read was Never Knowing by Chevy Stevens. A great thriller. You can read the review here.
And, the one book I would have never thought that I'd enjoy but ended up loving, Rage is Back by Adam Mansbach. My review is here.

I feel guilty about not mentioning all the books I read this year, since they were all, except for maybe a couple, entertaining and fascinating in their own ways. But these are the ones that really struck me.

So, here's to next year, another year of books and the magic that comes along with them!

I hope all of you have a thrilling New Year.

Tip of my hat to 2012. We had some good times!
And I'll see you all in the dawning 2013!

Musing Mondays

Musing Mondays asks you to muse about one of the following each week…
• Describe one of your reading habits.
• Tell us what book(s) you recently bought for yourself or someone else, and why you chose that/those book(s).
• Tell us what you’re reading right now — what you think of it, so far; why you chose it; what you are (or, aren’t) enjoying it.

I'm reading Under the Dome by Stephen King right now. Since it's a pretty large book, it's taking me a bit more than usual to finish it, but I am definitely enjoying the story. I do have to say, though, that id di starts a tad bit slowly which made me concerned about the rest of the novel. Thankfully, it soon picked up and it's engrossing me as much as any of King's books.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Follow Friday

Q: What book do you think everyone should read? If you could gift the entire population with one book?

I would probably have to go with my favorite book: Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky. I know some of you wouldn't enjoy it, but there's so much in this book, so much wonder and beauty and intelligence, that I would love for everyone to get a taste of it.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Out of Breath by Blair Richmond

Nineteen-year-old Kat Jones has been a competitive runner since she was a young girl, but after her mother's death, the path her life was supposed to take begins to crumble around her -- until one day, she finds herself on the run in a literal sense, this time in a race for her very life.

Kat's journey takes her to the Pacific Northwest town of Lithia, the place of her last good memories, of the days when her mother was still alive. But soon after her arrival, strange things begin to happen in Lithia -- and when one of her new friends disappears under mysterious circumstances, Kat begins to realize that Lithia's inhabitants are not all of this world. Worst of all, she is falling in love with one of these otherworldly locals, and the friend who hopes to save her has secrets of his own.

As Kat tries to rebuild her life, she is also training for a race that will turn out to be her biggest challenge yet, as she must outrun not only the demons of her past but the demons of the here and now, who threaten her very existence and that of the entire town...

This was an interesting beginning to what promises to be a satisfying trilogy.

What I enjoyed most, even more than the characters themselves, was the setting. There’s a great ambiance to the book, creating this feeling of mystery and possibly danger around the plot. I think it’s worth reading just to experience that feeling of being completely taken in by the story.

But the characters didn’t disappoint, either. Kat, the protagonist, was the kind of resilient heroine that we need to keep in most young adult books. She is a fully-capable young woman who you immediately start cheering for. I did, however, think that the love story, the love triangle, was not as well handled as the rest. It’s too abrupt, a bit jarring to the reader, for this love triangle to sprout without too much warning. I would have preferred to have read something more gradual.

But this is a fun book that can be easily read in a day or two, so if you’re willing to be forgiving to the “insta-love” thing, then actually it’s a great choice.

Booking Through Thursday

A deceptively easy question for this week (easy to ask but possibly hard to answer): What are/were your favorite book(s) of the year? (Bonus points if you know how many books you read.)

Well, I've read 170 books this year, and although I've read many good ones, I think I have to say that Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn was my favorite this year. It was an incredible read, so well done, and I really can't recommend it enough.

As an honorary mention, I also loved The Cranes Dance by Meg Howrey

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

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 Under the Dome by Stephen King

And Saturday Night Widows by Becky Aikman

I just finished reading Second Chance Grill by Christine Nolfi. You can read my review here.

Next, I'll robably read NOS4A2 by

Monday, December 24, 2012

Second Chance Grill by Christine Nolfi

An unforgettable tale of love, loss and second chances.

Second Chance Grill is the prequel to Treasure Me, 2012 Next Generation Indie Awards Finalist, which The Midwest Book Review calls “A riveting read for those who enjoy adventure fiction, highly recommended.”

Dr. Mary Chance needs a sabbatical from medicine to grieve the loss of her closest friend. But when she inherits a struggling restaurant in Liberty, Ohio she isn’t prepared for Blossom Perini. Mary can’t resist falling for the precocious preteen—or the girl’s father. The bond they forge will transform all their lives and set in motion an outpouring of love that spreads across America.

Welcome back to Liberty, where the women surrounding the town’s only restaurant are as charming as they are eccentric.
This really is what romance novels should be like. With its careful characterization and charming atmosphere, this is a book that will please most readers of pretty much any genre.

The characters are what really captured me, from the very beginning. They each have such a particular voice, which can sometimes be missing from novels like this, which involve a whole small town. They each have their bits of quirkiness, which makes them unforgettable and instantly endearing.

The writing is deceptively simple, with lots of nuances that make the reader want to reread some sentences just for the feel of the language. This is not the usual for this genre, where the plot takes over and the writing itself is delegated to second tier. Here, it is all about the prose, and the book is all the better for it. The descriptions are not what I would call “flowery”, but we still get a good picture of where we are and what the characters look like. It’s all about carefully wording.

I do recommend this book to pretty much everyone. Whether you like romance novels or not, this story will definitely capture your attention and keep it.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Follow Friday

Q: What have you learned from book blogging that you didn’t know before about the publishing industry?

Hmm. Well, I have learned quite a bit about the whole galley/ARC/ARE craziness. But since I am a writer myself, I've learned much more about the industry through my agent. It's a tough business, let me tell you!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

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 Under the Dome by Stephen King

And Saturday Night Widows by Becky Aikman

I recently finished reading The Super Spud Trilogy by Michael Diack. You can read my review here.

Next, I'll probably read The Spark: A Mother's Story of Nurturing Genius by

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Super Spud Trilogy by Michael Diack

Genetic engineering has accomplished many things, one of which has been to create the Super Spud! The humble potato elevated to new heights, creating the most flavoursome crisps ever known to humankind! But that's not all - A magical transformation occurs to all Super Spud crisps not eaten before their use-by date. They take on a life of their own. And so long as they remain undetected by humans, they enjoy life in their own Super Spud cities, take part in major Super Spud sporting events and even start the odd Super Spud war or two. Join Colin, Cougar, Hannibal Vector, Generals Rock, Jock and Strap and all the others in their rollicking adventures. You'll never look at a packet of crisps in the same way again! Fun, quirky and totally original.

Okay, what you have to understand going into this book is that it is about a group of genetically modified potato chips. Yes, they are the protagonists. It’s kind of hard to grasp at first, but, trust me it’s a fun ride.

I love unique stories and this one certainly takes the prize for probably the most unique of the year for me. I love how the author managed to create this world of potato chips which still sounds so much like ours. There are so many clever references to our own pop culture that made me laugh as I read along. The only thing that perhaps took away from the book is that the characters tend to die off too quickly. I understand why, but I think the novel would have benefitted from sticking to a few sturdy characters.

There isn’t much more to say. This is not a book that you can really “get” by reading a review; it’s just too peculiar. You have to try it out yourself. If you like things just a little quirky, then this one is for you.

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 Saturday Night Widows by Becky Aikman

"I got kicked out of my widows' support group. I would say that things had gone from bad to worse, except the worst, no question, had alreaday happened."

pg. 1 (ARC)

Monday, December 17, 2012

Musing Mondays

This week’s musing – courtesy of - asks…
Is there a particular book that is your nemesis–the book you’re determined to one day finish?

Middlemarch by George Eliot. Well, I did finish it, but I consider it my nemesis because it took me two tries to get through it and I still didn't enjoy it. I've heard so many people who absolutely adore it, and I actually love the rest of Eliot's works, but Middlemarch just doesn't do it for me.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Rage is Back by Adam Mansbach

Kilroy Dondi Vance is an eighteen-year-old mixed-race Brooklynite who deals pot and goes to prep school on scholarship, all while growing up in the shadow of his absentee father, Billy Rage, a legendary graffiti writer who disappeared from New York City in 1989 following a public feud with MTA police chief Anastacio Bracken.

Now it’s 2005. Bracken is running for mayor of New York City. And who should Dondi discover on a rooftop in Brooklyn but his father, newly returned to the city and ready to settle the score. The return of Rage and the mayoral race of Bracken prompt a reunion of every graffiti writer who mattered in the 1980s—in order to thwart Bracken with the greatest graffiti stunt New York City has ever seen.

Rage Is Back delivers a mind-bending journey through a subterranean world of epic heroes and villains. Moving through the city’s unseen communities, from the tunnel camps of the Mole People to the drug dens of Crown Heights, Rage Is Back is many things: a dramatic, hilarious thrill ride; a love letter to NYC that introduces the most powerful urban underdog narrator this side of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, and a literary tour de force from a writer on the brink of real stardom.
t’s not easy to describe a book like this one, because it really doesn’t fit into any formal categories. It’s a mix of comedy, urban attitude, and sharp sociological analysis. It really surprised me how much I enjoyed reading it, actually.

What makes this book so special is the narrator. His voice is wholly unique, and one that resonates from the very first sentence. Dondi, a young man born into the world of graffiti, is struggling to find his place. It could have turned into a melodrama, but the tight writing, the sharply comedic dialogues and monologues, make it such an entertaining book to read. Once you start it’s very hard to put down.

There is also a bit of magical realism, just a touch of it, throughout the pages, so that you get even more of a sense of mystique added to the already tricky world of graffiti. This is definitely a book worth reading, and one that I think most people will enjoy. Don’t let the subject matter deter you. This is one fabulously refreshing read.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Follow Friday

Q: What is the last book that made you cry? Tell us about the scene…

That would probably be the last book in the Legends Trilogy by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. Test of the Twins. I don't want to give the whole scene away, since it comes at the end of the book and is therefore a major spoiler, but it's about the two brothers, the twins, and it really is very, very sad.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Great Northern Coven by Bruce Jenvey

J.R. is a bush pilot who drifts into small town, Haines, Alaska and signs on with the local flying service. He’s looking for a fresh start, a new beginning, and a place to hide from the painful past that literally haunts him day and night. What he doesn’t realize is the local Inuit Indians believe he is the missing piece in an ancient prophecy they have been waiting centuries to unfold. His arrival sets in motion a series of events that risks everything for everyone, right down to their very souls. It also brings forth a great evil and the only one who can save them all has to draw on her long-forgotten heritage of witchcraft.

This is the second book in the Cabbottown Witch Novels and is a story of the eternal struggle between good and evil with a wide range of characters from Lucifer and his minion, to pilots, barmaids and the ladies of the Tsonokwa Lodge… and of course, one very important Eagle-Man. But where Angela’s Coven centered on starting over and second chances, The Great Northern Coven is a story of letting go, moving on and taking that next step forward in our lives.

Since I really enjoyed the first book in this series, I was glad to get a chance to read and review the second one.

I enjoyed this one just as much, or more, even, than the first one. The writing style is still the same, but it feels more controlled, like the author really has a grip on what he wants to say. There are some very cleverly written dialogues that show a clear understanding on how to write proper dialogues.

The characters are well written, as they were in the first book, and there are many twists and turns in the plot to keep anyone entertained. There’s also quite a bit of humor, which many times took me by surprise. It really refreshes the palate after some of the more suspenseful scenes.

All in all, this is one I definitely recommend. You could probably read it without having read the first one, but it’s probably best if you read both to get the plot’s full effect.


Booking Through Thursday

So … you’ve just finished reading a book. For the sake of the discussion, we’ll say it was everything a book should be—engaging, entertaining, interesting, thought-provoking. The kind you want to gush over. The question is—do you immediately move on to your next book? Or do you take time to contemplate this writerly masterpiece and all its associated thoughts/emotions/ideas for a while first?

I kind of do both. If it's a book that's really moved me, I know I have to immediately start reading something else or I'll fall into one of those "book blues" where nothing seems very interesting because of that fabulous book I just finished reading. I let the last book marinate a bit in my head while I move on to other stories. Then I write the review, where I can gush all I want. It's a system that requires conscious effort, especially after finishing long series or tough books that leave you almost scarred, but it really works for me.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

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 Under the Dome by Stephen King

"If he sensed his father knew what he, Junior, had done- he didn't see how that was possible, but his father knew so much- then Junior would kill him. After that he would turn the gun on himself."

pg. 138

Midwinter Blood by Mons Kallentoft

Meet Malin Fors. Be careful, though, she’s addictive. Thirty-four years old, blond, single, divorced with a teenaged daughter, Fors is the most driven superintendent who has ever worked at the police force in her small, isolated town. And the most talented. In her job, she is constantly moving through the borderland between life and death. Her path in life is violent and hazardous.

It is the coldest February in recent memory. In the early hours of a particularly frigid night, the body of an obese man is found hanging from lone oak tree in the middle of a withered, windswept plain. Malin Fors is called to the scene.

Together with her colleagues of the Violent Crime Squad at Linköping Police Department, they must find out who the man in the tree is, and how he got there. Their manhunt in the frigid wake of a ruthless killer brings Malin Fors to the brink, and into some of the darkest corners of the human heart. The first in a series of four books, Midwinter Blood will keep readers coming back for more, again and again.

This book took me a little by surprise. I expected a straight-forward thriller, but instead got a beautifully written, almost literary mystery.

The atmosphere the author creates in this book is fantastic. The cold winter landscape seeps into every page, into every character’s consciousness, making it almost another character itself. Malin Fors, the protagonist, is an interesting one. Thankfully, she is not a walking cliché of dysfunction, as many of the cops or detectives in thrillers tend to be, but she’s also not a completely free of some bad habits. The author manages to create a balance where we feel her vulnerability without feeling she’s completely losing her mind as can happen in some books. This gives us a bit of security in the narrative.

The plot is complex, and though not entirely original, the writing is beautiful enough to make it worth picking up. I do wish the author tied up some loose ends a bit better, especially about the whole midwinter blood ritual. We are left kind of dangling about that.

This is not just any thriller. Although it has been compared to Stieg Larsson’s books, this one is so much better, not as slow paced, or dry. The way the author handles the narrative is impressive and I do recommend this to all of you who like thrillers as well as to you who just love a good story.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Musing Mondays

This week’s musing, courtesy of ““, asks…
What was the last book you could not finish and why?
I had to look this one up on Goodreads because I couldn't even remember the name. It's Sixty Acres and  Bride by Regina Jennings. I read it as part of a blog tour and just couldn't finish it. It was so dull, with predictable situations and characters who didn't have even a little bit of soul to them. Yeah, not a fun one.