Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Teaser Tuesday

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 This Is Not a Test by Courtney Summers

"We have locked and barricaded all the doors. We have covered the windows so no one can see outside and-more importantly- nothing can see inside."
pg. 18

Monday, January 30, 2012

Solitary by Travis Thrasher

When Chris Buckley moves to Solitary, North Carolina, he faces the reality of his parents’ divorce, a school full of nameless faces—and Jocelyn Evans. Jocelyn is beautiful and mysterious enough to leave Chris speechless. But the more Jocelyn resists him, the more the two are drawn together.

Chris soon learns that Jocelyn has secrets as deep as the town itself. Secrets more terrifying than the bullies he faces in the locker room or his mother’s unexplained nightmares. He slowly begins to understand the horrific answers. The question is whether he can save Jocelyn in time.

This first book in the Solitary Tales series will take you from the cold halls of high school to the dark rooms of an abandoned cabin—and remind you what it means to believe in what you cannot see.

This book was a bit different than many of the young adult ones out there. Sometimes this was for the better, while other times, it wasn’t quite so lucky.

The best part of the novel is the tension that flows throughout the pages. There is a real sense of pacing that keeps the reader turning the pages. There are also many truly frightening moments, which are not as easy to write as people think. Many times I found myself looking around my room as I read at night, wondering if I really was alone. That, to me, is a very positive reaction to a scary story. The weak points relate mainly to characterization. The protagonists, Chris and Jocelyn, are rather dull. There is no real meat to their personalities, which makes following them through their struggles, a bit of…well…a struggle. They are cookie-cutter versions of real people and I do wish they had been written with a bit more care. However, the plot is interesting, and it’s not hard to recommend, especially to those of you that are like me and love a good scare.

I will be picking up the next two books in the series to see how all of this turns out.

Musing Mondays

This week’s musing asks…

How far along are you in your current read before you start thinking about what you’ll read next?

I usually start planning almost immdediately. Since I always have lots of pending reviews for indie books, I have to schedule my time well, and that means looking through my book piles, pointing, and saying "you're next!". Then I can go and enjoy whichever book I'm currently reading.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Kevin's Point of View by Del Shannon

To escape the emotional turmoil of his father’s death 12-year-old Kevin Tobin has retreated inside himself, developing his imagination into a dangerous foil and a powerful ally. While he antagonizes everyone with his superhero antics, his ability to escape inside himself becomes critical to his survival after his life is once-again turned upside down a year after his father’s death. When a mysterious package arrives in the mail, Kevin and his best friend are hunted by a ruthless villain who is determined to retrieve the package, which holds the key to his plans for world domination. After enlisting Kevin’s teenage sister and her pizza-delivery boyfriend in a battle for control over time itself, the group escapes into the mountains west of Boulder, Colorado and eventually discover that Kevin’s entire existence is because of the love of someone we never expected.

If you are looking for a fun romp through all kinds of wacky, laugh-out-loud adventures, then this book should be on your list.

Kevin, the protagonist, has an imagination that never stops. It goes into overdrive when he is under stress, and it gets him in and out of all kinds of strange situations. Kevin is definitely the star of the book, with a personality that overflows from the pages. His side-kick, Tony, is the more sedate of the two, and is as funny as you’d expect a boy to be when he has Kevin as a best friend. The rest of the cast of characters are all entertaining, with Scratch taking the lead. Their interactions are definitely what make this book as interesting as it is.

The plot is fun, with many twists and turns that keep the reader turning the pages. Towards the end, there is a fabulous chase scene that will have you laughing until the end. That, for me, was worth the entire book. One thing I did question, though, is at the end, Kevin has another hyper-imagination moment, but supposedly, the cause of those lapses had already been resolved (I won’t reveal what it is, of course). It’s not a big deal, plot-wise, but it made me wonder.

I can definitely recommend this to adults and teens alike.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Follow Friday

Q: Which book genre do you avoid at all costs and why?

I try my very best to stay away from the hard science fiction. I have never been able to enjoy that genre. There are always too many things going on at the same time, too much world-building, to the point of forgetting even plot lines. I have a hard time staying interested through all the textbook style scientific explanations.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Giveaway!!! Letters in Cardboard Boxes by Abby Slovin

Abby has been generous enough to offer ebook copies for bloggers who are willing to review her book. You can read a bit about the book here, as well as see my own review of it.
As the giveaway gets rolling, I'll be passing on your emails to the author so she can contact you directly.

Booking Through Thursday

What’s more important: Good writing? Or a good story?

(Of course, a book should have BOTH, but…)

That's a tough one. I suppose, if the story is good enough, I might be able to overlook mediocre writing. If I am submerged enough in the plot, I could possibly feel like its worth reading around the writing.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The New Death and others by James Hutchings

Death gets a roommate...

An electronic Pope faces a difficult theological question...

A wicked vizier makes a terrible bargain...

44 stories. 19 poems. No whiny vampires. There's a thin line between genius and insanity, and James Hutchings has just crossed it - but from which direction?

This was such an amusing book to read. It is a collection of stories, poems, and jokes that will keep you smiling, if not laughing.

It’s hard to categorize this book. To give you an idea of the type of stories you’ll encounter, my favorite in the collection was “The Auto-Pope, where a robot is elected as Pope. But there are also the poems, most of them dark and moody, with lovely lyrical lines that are worth savoring. The jokes are a nice break, like a respite, before plunging into another poem or story. There is a nice mix of each of these, giving the book a good pace.
For a lot of people, this collection would probably be best read in small bits. When read all at once, the stories might be a bit overwhelming. The same with the poems.

If your reading style tends to be in the “different” category, then this collection would be great for you.

Letters in Cardboard Boxes by Abby Slovin

Letters In Cardboard Boxes tells the story of an eccentric grandmother and her granddaughter alongside a series of fantastical letters they once exchanged. Their letters once traversed the East River to help Parker escape the loneliness of a childhood without her globe-trekking parents and communicate during her turbulent teenage years. Now, nearly a decade later, Parker begins to rediscover the evidence of this letter writing tradition, as well as the family’s untold stories and, unexpectedly, letters from her grandmother’s own youth that paint a very different portrait of the woman who raised her.

Letters carries us through the universally-shared experience of loss and the process of coping with life’s unexpected twists and turns. Through unusual and bold characters, the story moves some of its heavier themes with honesty and humor.

This was a lovely story, with a sweet group of characters that will stay in your head for a long time after you finish the last page.

The characters are the most important thing in this novel. The relationships between them are written with an expert hand and in such a manner that they are completely believable. The way that Parker, the protagonist, develops throughout the novel is really worth the whole book. There’s nothing better than to read a book where the main character really does change.

The plot is intricate and handled well, keeping the reader interested from the beginning, which is sometimes an issue with literary novels. There is a nice sense of pacing, as we start learning things about Dotty (Parker’s grandmother) along with the protagonist. The writing itself is simple yet poignant, not calling attention to itself but instead letting the characters tell their story, which is refreshing.

This is a book that I would recommend for many people. If you enjoy literary novels this would probably make a nice choice. Although it is a sad story, it does have a redemptive flavor to it that will leave you smiling rather than crying.

WWW Wednesday

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 Solitary by Travis Thrasher

And Letters In Cardboard Boxes by Abby Slovin

I just finished reading Goddess Interrupted by Aimee Carter. You can read my review here.

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

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

After Obsession by Carrie Jones and Steven E. Wedel

Aimee and Alan have secrets. Both teens have unusual pasts and abilities they prefer to keep hidden. But when they meet each other, in a cold Maine town, they can't stop their secrets from spilling out. Strange things have been happening lately, and they both feel that something-or someone- is haunting them. They're wrong. Despite their unusual history and powers, it's neither Aimee nor Alan who is truly haunted. It's Alan's cousin Courtney who, in a desperate plea to find her missing father, has invited a demon into her life-and into her body. Only together can Aimee and Alan exorcise the ghost. And they have to move quickly, before it devours not just Courtney but everything around her.

Filled with heart-pounding romance, paranormal activity, and rich teen characters to love-and introducing an exciting new YA voice, Steven Wedel-this novel is exactly what Carrie Jones fans have been waiting for. Meet your next obsession.

I’ve been trying to think of a polite way to write this review, but I think the best thing would be to be honest. This book was terrible.

The amount of clichés in these pages, not only in the characterizations but in the writing itself is astounding. The characters are less than one dimensional, with mood swings that baffle the reader. Some of their actions (like Aimee dropping the boyfriend she’s had for years after meeting a new, “hotter” guy in a day) make no logical sense whatsoever. Neither Aimee with her melodramatic exclamations and her incessant crying, nor Alan with his ridiculous, superficial knowledge of what the Native American culture is all about, create any other feeling in the reader than the need to stop reading.

The plot is a thin, loosely held mess that has gaping holes. It makes me wonder who read through this and thought it was ready for publication. This story needed at least two or three good rewrites. The writing itself is mediocre at best, tending towards the very bad most of the time. Alan’s chapters are a bit better than Aimee’s but not by much.

As you can tell, I cannot recommend this book. At all. Unless you are very lenient with everything including common sense, I’d stay away from this one. There are better things to read.

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 The Starboard Sea by Amber Dermont

"'Don't worry about me,' Max said,'I get paid to look this pretty.'"
pg.13 (on e-reader)

Blog Tour: The Sound of Red Returning by Sue Duffy

About the book:
After losing everyone she loves, concert pianist Liesl Bower has nowhere to go but to escape into her music. Searching for the peace she usually finds in her concertos and sonatas, Liesl can’t shake the feeling that she is being haunted by her past . . . and by someone following her. When she spots a familiar and eerie face in the audience of a concert she’s giving for the president in Washington, DC, the scariest day of her life comes back to her with a flash. It has been fifteen years since Liesl watched her beloved Harvard music mentor assaulted on a dark night in Moscow and just as long since the CIA disclosed to her that he’d been spying for Russia. She had seen that man--that eerie face--the night Professor Devoe was attacked. And now he’s back--and coming for her.

On the run and struggling to rely on the protection of CIA agent Ava Mullins and handsome newspaper reporter Cade O’Brien, Liesl learns she is the prey of an underground cell of Russian KGB agents determined to restore their country to its former Soviet might. But what she doesn’t know is that she is in possession of something--a piece of sheet music--that Russian intelligence is now frantic to find. Inside that music is a secret code, the hidden transcriptions of her deceased mentor, that clearly identify a Russian mole operating inside Israel’s Department of Defense, a mole with enough power and access to execute a daring assassination that no one would see coming.

Caught in a deadly conflict between American and Russian undercover agents, this innocent young pianist is just trying to survive her own personal trauma. Through it all, Liesl must learn that no matter how dark her world grows or how fiercely her enemies pursue her, God is still in control--if only she can yield herself to His grace. Read an excerpt here: http://www.sueduffybooks.com/#!vstc1=books

About the author:

Sue Duffy is an award-winning writer whose work has appeared in Moody Magazine, The Presbyterian Journal, Sunday Digest, and The Christian Reader. She is the author of Mortal Wounds (Barbour, 2001) and Fatal Loyalty (Kregel, 2010). Sue has also contributed to Stories for a Woman’s Heart (Multnomah). She and her husband, Mike, have three grown children.

Find out more here.

You can buy the book here.

Win a Kindle Fire from @SueDuffy2 and @KregelBooks in the "Red Returning" Giveaway!

Sue Duffy and her publisher, Kregel Publications, are celebrating the release of The Sound of Red Returning by giving away a Kindle Fire prize package worth over $200 to one lucky winner!!!! (1/23-2/11)

Enter the Sue Duffy’s Giveaway today and you could win:

* A brand new Kindle Fire with Wi-Fi

* The Sound of Red Returning (Book One in the Red Returning series) by Sue Duffy

To enter click one of the icons below. But, hurry! The giveway ends on 2/11. Sue will be announcing the winner of the “Red Returning” Giveaway on February 13th on the Litfuse website!

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter

Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. 

For the whole tour schedule, see here.

My review

This was an interesting book, with lots of action and intrigue mixed in with a nice love story that was quite different from what I’d expected.

The main character, Liesl, is the best part about this book. She commands the scenes she’s in, which, as the protagonist, is exactly what we are looking for. She is three-dimensional, with a all the flaws a real person has, making her stand out among the rest of the characters. Ian and Cade are also well done, although not as masterfully as Liesl. The rest are fine, but since they are not “on stage” too long, we never really bond with them.

The suspense keeps you reading, as the plot tightens around Liesl. Once the story gets started, it’s hard to put down. The problem is that it takes a bit to really take off. It takes some patience on the reader’s part to get to the halfway point where the action picks up. That’s the only real complaint I have about the book, and for all lovers of suspense novels, spy novels, or the like, this is a fun book that will keep you guessing. I can recommend it to pretty much everyone.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Goddess Interrupted by Aimee Carter

Kate Winters has won immortality.

But if she wants a life in the Underworld with Henry, she’ll have to fight for it.

Becoming immortal wasn’t supposed to be the easy part. Though Kate is about to be crowned Queen of the Underworld, she’s as isolated as ever. And despite her growing love for Henry, ruler of the Underworld, he’s becoming ever more distant and secretive. Then, in the midst of Kate’s coronation, Henry is abducted by the only being powerful enough to kill him: the King of the Titans.

As the other gods prepare for a war that could end them all, it is up to Kate to save Henry from the depths of Tartarus. But in order to navigate the endless caverns of the Underworld, Kate must enlist the help of the one person who is the greatest threat to her future.

Henry’s first wife, Persephone.

The second in the series, this was a very fun read that kept me interested from the moment I picked it up.

We follow Kate as she joins Henry in the Underworld as his official consort, and we get to see a bit more about their relationship, or lack-thereof. Henry is mysterious and troubled as always, (although in this book he tends towards the self-pitying) while the rest of the characters do a good job of keeping the action going. We finally meet Persephone, who tends to steal the scenes she appears in, and who definitely seems a more interesting choice than Kate is. That’s the biggest issue I saw with the book. Kate. She is one wimpy female lead. She needs constant reassuring of Henry’s love, from everyone. It’s hard to like a character that insecure, that weak, really. She is also passive throughout the majority of the novel. Things happen to her instead of because of her. Only towards the very end does she seem to find some guts.

The story itself is entertaining and a really fast read. I would definitely suggest you read the previous book in the series first, as the author does reference it. I do recommend it to young adult book lovers.

Musing Mondays

This week’s musing asks…
Why do you think that the Young Adult genre is so popular with even the adult readers? Do you read YA books, yourself?

I think the biggest thig that attracts adult readers to the YA genre is the element of fantasy in the stories. Whether it comes from paranormal influences, or from the the thrill of a romance that for some reason or other is usually dangerous or forbidden. At least that's what calls me to the stories.

I do read YA books. Now, there are a lot of them out there that are carbon copies of each other, so I have to be choosy with the ones I read. They can get pretty repetitive if they don't have at least one original concept behind them.