Saturday, December 31, 2011

Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler's The Future of Us

Asher and Mackler's The Future of Us is a total mash up of decade-specific pop culture!  I grew up in the 90's, where the plot of the story takes place, and it was a blast from the past to see references to beepers and Discmans.

The story is told from the point of view of two high school students, Emma and Josh, who live in 1996.  1996 offers the introduction to the home PC, dial up Internet, instant messages, and email accounts for the general populace.

What Emma discovers the first time she logs on to her computer is Facebook (which doesn't become relevant until the turn of the century).  Emma and Josh see themselves 15 years into the future, and don't like what they discover.

The two kids discover how small changes in the present can greatly impact the future: down to spouse, career, location, and happiness.  Ultimately, the two teens learn a very important lesson....

I thought seeing how two kids from the 90's respond to Facebook was hilarious!  For me, Facebook and other social media is so ingrained in my lifestyle that I can't see myself without it.  I don't think twice about logging into Facebook to read other status updates or post my own.  And they are usually one or two lines and just as insignificant!

I'm sure that the writers' vision of the story ended the way it was supposed to.  Throughout the novel, Emma and Josh are logging onto Facebook to see how their present day choices impact the future, and we see what's to come of them.  As the reader, my wish is to see what happens to Emma and Josh post Facebook. Since we aren't able to see into our own futures, or get an epilogue for that matter, I see why the story ends the way it does.

Now, every time I make a decision, I can't help but wonder what impact it will have on the future me!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

April Henry's Girl, Stolen

Henry's Girl, Stolen is an action packed tale of a teenage girl, who is also blind, who has been kidnapped by mistake. 

Cheyenne Wilder is sleeping in the back of her stepmother's SUV when someone steals it, not realizing that she is in the backseat. When her kidnappers realize that she is in the car, and is blind, Cheyenne must succumb to the realization that she might never make it home alive.

Personally, I don't know anything about what it's like to be blind, or the coping skills that a blind person must master to be independent and successful in life.  I think Henry's portrayal of Cheyenne's character gives a lot of insight into how a person with a visual handicap might live, and subsequently how they are treated in society.

The story is told from two perspectives, Cheyenne and her kidnapper Griffin's. The reader is allowed to see how the victim and perpetrator struggle with their situation, and try to figure out what to do.

I also think this novel is good for young teens to read, simply because it allows them to put themselves in Cheyenne's situation.  Kids don't often think they can fall victim to kidnapping or other tragic circumstances, and hopefully kids will see how important it is to be aware of their environment.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Caroline Hanson's Love is Fear- Not for kids

You know how authors will say that their books are like their babies?  Well I feel like this one is a niece or nephew, or maybe even a distant cousin, because I got to read it before it was published.  Needless to say, my review might be a bit biased.  Just a little.

Valerie Dearborn finds herself in a pickle... again.  This time it's  not just the metaphorical one that signifies one being in trouble (catch my drift?).  Val is an empath, which is a type of supernatural being which can provide balance between weres, vamps, and now fairies.  Unfortunately, all the supes have their own agendas, and want to use Val for their own purposes.

I'm oh so excited that Hanson has brought back more of the historical aspect with the disappearance of Roanoke settlers.  She provides a fantastical explanation: that the Fey king tried to protect all the living fairies in a spell gone wrong.

I'm predicting that the next book will give more explanation of the Fey agenda.  Also, there's some drama between Rachel, Jack, and Val that needs to be addressed. Oh, and all the trouble Val's gotten herself into with Lucas.  How will this all pan out?

Oh, and ooh la la! Val and Lucas finally do it already. Bown-ch-ch-wow-wow! The scene goes on forever and it is HOT!

As I read, I thought of several songs that could go with the characters and the plot lines.  With some of them, you have to take the song out of context and look at the lines individually.  With author's permission, maybe I might do an additional blog with the soundtrack.  But for your reading pleasure, here is a song that Hanson thought fit Val's character, and I agree.

Snow Patrol- Out in the Dark

Enjoy!  I know I did....

Monday, December 19, 2011

Douglas Dorow's The Ninth District

Dorow's The Ninth District is a suspense thriller about a bank robber and an FBI agent.  Anyone who has read or watched a suspense thriller has seen one with a heroic FBI agent that saves the day, right?

The Ninth District is unique in a few ways.  The point of view switches back and forth between the perspectives of Special Agent Jack Miller and The General, the-crazy-killer-bank-robbing-mastermind.  Through alternating perspectives, Dorow builds character and allows the reader to get to know the characters.  He also fills the reader in on plot clues, at the just the right times, which allows the reader to fill in pieces of the plot.

Earlier I said that he builds character.  You do get to know all the characters really well, except for The General.  As the reader, I would like to explore more of The General's motivation and even his psychological health.  Why did he shoot and kill a pregnant woman? What about his life made him so heartless?

Maybe I wasn't reading closely, but I'm hazy on how the FBI agents learned the identity of The General.  Miller comes to the realization of what TG is after on a family outing.  When he calls his partner Ross, we learn that the FBI already had information on TG. And then we are all of a sudden have a search warrant and we are in TG's apartment..... I really wish that detail wasn't left out, as Dorow takes so much care to include all the other necessary details.

Overall, it was a nice break from some of the other genres I have been reading lately.  I wasn't at all disappointed, and I downloaded two more suspense thrillers.

Thanks, Doug!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Stephanie Nelson's Craved

Nelson's Craved is a story of supernatural beings cohabiting in the small town of Flora, where someone has been killing witches for their blood.  Cool concept, right?  I think it's best if I review this novel with "glows" and "grows," since this is her first book and I am but a novice reviewer.

Glows:  I love the catchy names she has for the businesses in the town.  Gwen Sparks, our witchy heroine, owns a bookstore called "Broomsticks."  The local coffee shop is called "Espresso Self."  Her take on vampires becoming addicted to witches' blood, called brew (another catchy name), is interesting.  Overall, the plot is suspenseful and engaging.  The love scenes are steamy, and the characters are likable enough to keep interest.

Grows: Since Nelson created an entire city dedicated to supernaturals, there needs to be some back story on how this came to be.  She briefly mentions that the humans didn't want to live with them, and that leads me to believe that there are some segregation issues or past events that need to be explained.  Nelson develops Gwen's character nicely, but I feel like the other characters are superficial.  What made Aiden Blake fall in love with her so quickly?  Why does Fiona seem like such a ditz?

There were also some editing mistakes that drove me a little batty.  There was a discrepancy in how long Gwen had been out of the relationship with Micah. It doesn't have that great of an impact on the story, but still.  There was also some grammatical mistakes, but that could've been formatting issues.

I can see the direction that the next novel is taking, and it will be suspenseful and entertaining.  I do feel like there are some other plot lines that could be followed, especially if we get more back story on Flora.  I could see Ian endanger towns full of humans to get to Gwen- and then maybe humans and sups might have to overcome their differences and work together.

I did enjoy reading the book, and I will read the other Gwen Sparks installments.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Mark Edward Hall's The Fear

I tried my hand at horror again, and I thought this was pretty good!  Honestly, I was pretty scared because the cover looks all creepy (I'm learning that the horror stories with religious connections and EXTREME gore are the ones I have a hard time with).  I am guilty of judging books by the cover (I do it all the time), and this is one instance when I'm glad I didn't.

The Fear is a novella, about 65 pages and a pretty quick read.  The story centers around socially awkward Mitch, who has some serious "momma issues."  He wakes up from a living nightmare, completely covered in blood, and afraid.  Legitimately, seriously, afraid and he can't figure out why.  The nightmares are similar to the ones he had as a boy that were connected to a string of mysterious murders in his small town of Eden.

As Mitch solves the mystery behind his nightmares and the murders, you will find that there's more sustenance than just gore and scary images.  Irony is a bitch, Mitch.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Brian Selznick's Wonderstruck

If you don't like this book, then I'm calling the doctor.  Something's wrong with you.

But seriously, Brian Selznick writes for a versatile audience.  Kids from the age of 9 all the way to the oldest of adults can find something to appreciate about this book.  He combines immaculate illustrations with text to complete an entire story.

Ben, an orphaned and deaf boy, goes on a journey to find his father and discovers much, much more about himself.  I don't want to reveal too much more of the plot because I want you to discover Ben's story with him, and have a "wonder struck" feeling of your own.

Usually I don't have a preference for a novel in regards to the physical book or download.  In this case, I would recommend buying the book if you can.  There is just something about turning the pages and seeing the story unfold in your lap.

Even though I'm writing about Wonder Struck, let me just go ahead and put in my endorsement for The Invention of Hugo Cabret.  Brian Selznick, I wish I had half of the talent that you have in your pinky finger.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Hillary Jordan's When She Woke

This novel is H E A V Y.  It takes so many twists and turns, that I even question my own moral compass.

When I started the novel, I thought it would be a modern rendition of The Scarlet Letter.  In some ways it is.  There are parallels in the characters' names, talents, and punishment.  But that's where The Scarlet Letter stops and When She Woke begins.

Hannah Payne is a young woman involved in her church, close with her family, confining herself to the social norms that are acceptable for her world.  When she falls in love with a man that can never be hers and eventually becomes pregnant, that small world opens up to reveal the true face of evil and humanity.

Jordan's writing style is beautiful and passionate.  I can tell that the content in her novel is something that she holds close to her.  It makes me wonder who she is and what kind of life experiences she's had, if she's been forced into her fair share of boxes.

I promise you will question your beliefs when you read this novel.  Whether you are pro life or pro choice, have an opinion about same sex relationships, and how crimes are punished, it makes no difference.  Jordan will take you on a journey, forcing you to see both sides of the spectrum, and perhaps have an awakening of your own. 

Friday, November 25, 2011

Rose Pressey's Ghouls Night Out

Pressey's Ghouls Night Out is another lighthearted tale of medium/ bookstore owner Larue Donovan.  After uncovering Brianna's love spell and rescuing her beau from an awful life with Brianna, you would think all is well, right?  Well, it's not.  Karyn offers Larue the position of coven leader, and suddenly things start going awry.  Could it be a demon or another witch practicing black magic?  What lengths would you go through to save your best friend?

I thought GNO was more enjoyable than Me and My Ghoulfriends.  Personally, I couldn't relate to Larue's love issues in the previous installment.  But going on a mission to save a best friend? Totally engrossed!

I also like how Pressey incorporates dead celebrities into her novels.  I think it would be funny to have a devious duo like Bonnie and Clyde that don't realize they're dead.....Or perhaps Mindy attracts a "love ghost" and Larue has to persuade the poor guy to go over to the other side. Or maybe Pressey will branch out from the lighthearted and write in a demon to send back to hell.  Either way, I look forward to the new installments and who will be following Laure on her next mission.

And I'm so looking forward to inviting my gal pals over for  a Mindyrita night.....

Saturday, November 19, 2011

JS Bannerman's The Pitchfork Diaries- NOT FOR KIDS

Reader discretion is advised!  Okay, so maybe I'm not addicted to all types of fiction.

Bannerman's The Pitchfork Diaries is a compilation of short stories in the extreme horror genre.  I feel like I can best write this review in the form of "glows and grows," while I pretend to be a book reviewer and know what I'm talking about.

Glows: Bannerman is a really good writer!  He has excellent style and syntax.  His descriptions are detailed, visceral, and evocative.  I suppose these descriptions are what an author of extreme horror looks for.  I was easily able to visualize the descriptions in each of the stories, and his matter of fact tone created a gag-reflective mood in me.

Grows: Although the stories are short, and not meant to provide a full background, some of the stories I thought were really good and deserved to have some of the "plot holes" filled.  I know the author has a novel that is soon to be released, and I think it would be cool to see a full and complete story from Bannerman (I'm just not so sure I can stomach it).

I just can't get over the content, really.  You know "Separation of Church and State?"  Well, I guess in the literary world, especially the genre of horror, I would like a separation of church and fiction.  I happen to like movies such as "The Exorcist" and "The Omen," which I imagine had the religious folks up in arms back in the day.  I consider myself to be a fairly desensitized person, but some of the images that the author created don't sit well with me.  I am a Catholic, although not a very good one, and I do hold the crucifix and the goodness of Christ close to my heart.  Maybe this is a compliment to the author's descriptive skills, but my stomach didn't sit well (I didn't poo my pants, but I might've cried and barfed in my mouth a little bit).

This author has done something that I've never been able to do: publish literary work and create a following.  To that, I must pay much respect.  I've learned that extreme horror isn't my bag, but that doesn't mean it isn't yours.

Bannerman, if you ever write a kinda-scary-psychological-thriller-with-only-a-little-bit-of gore, I'll be one of the first to download.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Michelle Zink's Circle of Fire WARNING! Spoiler!


Circle of Fire is the last installment of the Prophecy of the Sisters trilogy, and I'm breathless. When I read TPotS, Zink was amazing at building a rather large and complex back story with brevity.  I was amazed at how much information could be given with such intensity and even fewer words.  Guardian of the Gate is the second installment, and I think this novel is important in understanding the danger of the prophecy, and everyone's role.  Zink really played on sibling rivalry, I think, and not just with Alice.  Yes, the two were at odds because of their roles in the prophecy, but Lia is also betrayed by another sister, Sonia.  After reading Circle of Fire, all I'm left with are certain images in my mind.

I think of the Jorgamund, which is an image of a snake eating its own tail.  The shape forms a circle, and I think phrases such as "Circle of Life," and "ending full circle."  The prophecy ends at Avebury, where it began.  Clearly, the Jorgamund is a symbol for the prophecy's birth and Samael's demise.  But I wonder if the image of a snake eating its own tale foreshadows Samael's evil dissolving within itself as Lia closes the gate.

I also think of the Rite at Avebury, and the way Zink described all the necessary preparations.  To me, I thought of a wedding.  The bride being left alone, with a trusted friend, to prepare herself for the future while the others are making final preparations.  They walk in a procession together, dressed in purple robes.  In the Roman Catholic church, priests wear purple vestments to symbolize the pain and suffering during the season of Lent.  Lia is constantly reminded of the pain and sacrifices she has made in the name of the prophecy, and her fear of giving into evil. Purple was the perfect choice for her!

I knew Alice wasn't such a crazy/cruel/greedy bitch after all.  Alice and Lia's childhood didn't revolve around the prophecy, and I knew that Alice really did love her sister.  I was so relieved when she came through in the end.

I love to read historical fiction, mostly because I love to visualize lifestyles from another place and time.  The nerdy part of me is attracted to language and phrases are are true to the period of the piece.  Zink used phrases such as "work in concert" that are not in our everyday vernacular.  What I want to know is how an author researches and uses proper dialect in historical writing.  It just makes my brain hurt.

Overall, I think The Prophecy of the Sisters is an excellent read.  I'm glad to have closure and look forward to reading more of Zink's work.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Rose Pressey's Me and My Ghoulfriends

Pressey's Me and My Ghoulfriends is lighthearted, and a fun read.  The novel centers around Larue Donavan, a bookstore owning medium with a pretty boring love life.  When Laure finally meets a great guy, he is cast under a love spell by Larue's bitchy nemesis, Brianna.

I immediately enjoyed reading the book.  Pressey's sense of humor comes to life in the first page, and I am also interested in paranormal activity.  I liked reading about the spirits that become attached to Larue. 

Pressey does an excellent job developing the characters.  I feel like I got to know Laure pretty well, and even Mindy too.  For a novel with such light content, I would've liked it to be shorter and more to the point.  The book is 639 pages, and primarily consists of swooning over the love-struck boy next door.  Honestly I felt like I was back in high school, sitting by the phone, and wondering if he'll call.  I'm all for reading a romance novel, I just would've liked to see more development with the ghosts and their unfinished business.

I did download the second installment of Pressey's Larue Donavan series, Ghouls Night Out.  I do look forward to reading it, and I hope that I can relate to Larue's troubles a little better. 

Friday, October 28, 2011

Michelle Zink's Guardian of the Gate

Hmmmmm.... this one is a thinker.  The plot line is fairly simple.  Lia and her twin sister are pawns in an ancient prophecy designed to bring the apocalypse and end the world as we know it.  Lia, born as the Gate but Guardian by nature, is on a quest to end the prophecy and prevent Satan himself from entering Earth.  Along the way, Lia is reacquainted with the super sexy and oh so virtuous Dimitri who will help her no matter the cost.  In the back of her mind she is thinking about James, her boyfriend that was left behind....

To me the complexity arises in the relationship between the sisters.  In The Prophecy of the Sisters, we learn that Lia and her twin Alice were very close and loving.  After their father's death, the sisters learn of the prophecy and their roles, and ultimately that they can no longer put trust in each other.  I think of sibling rivalry to the extreme, and my heart breaks for Lia.

I was fully engaged throughout the entirety of the novel, and I will be reading the third and final installment of the series.  I am curious to know how the prophecy ends and how Lia handles the love she has for James and Dimitri.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

I can blog about my own blog, right? -Addendum to Love is Darkness Review

When I write a review for a novel, I try to do it immediately after I finish reading.  I do this because I feel like I can better capture the novel's essence; in this case, Valerie's humor and desire.  In being caught up in Valerie's emotions, I didn't share what makes this novel good.

First of all, there are some interesting historical references that I feel could and should be explored in later novels.  Hanson suggests that fairies were involved in the historical disappearances of the colonists in Roanoke.  I'm totally a sucker for historical fiction.

Hanson stays true to the monster that is vampire.  I think the desire to be loved and taken care of by someone who is a predator and dangerous is built-in, deep within the human psyche.  Valerie fears, and I could argue loves, Lucas.  He doesn't sparkle of feed off of rats.  Lucas is visceral.  Not only does the reader get to fantasize about being in bed with a sexy monster, but you could also have a "book talk" about human psychology.

Read it.  Enjoy it.

Caroline Hanson's Love is Darkness- Not for kids!


Seriously, when I downloaded this novel I didn't know what to expect.  I read the synopsis of the book, and it looked delicious.

Perhaps I had too many of glasses of wine when I started reading, but I was a bit confused at first.  I didn't feel like I knew Valerie very well, but that all changed when she decided to leave her family in search of a 'normal' life.

As the plot unfolded, I became more and more attached to Val and Lucas (a really old and totally bone-able vampire).  I wanted to know more about them, and I wanted them to finally do it already.  The novel really fits into the genre of paranormal romance, but within the novel are elements of drama, comedy, and erotica.

Now I just have to find out what happens to Valerie and Lucas, and whether Val can get into his sexy pants AND his heart.

And I'm sucked into another freakin' series....

Monday, October 17, 2011

Michelle Zink's Prophecy of the Sisters

To quote the front cover, this book is "absolutely un-put-down-able."  Zink has written a story about two twin sisters that take part in an ageless prophecy.

The author has made this story successful because of her uncanny ability to build characters quickly.  The reader must love the protagonist character, and I did after the first chapter.

I also feel the need to compliment the way the author has revealed at the perfect time, to keep suspense going.  Sometimes authors lack the ability of suspense and brevity at the same time, but Zink does it well. 

After reading series after series, I must say I'm turned off to novels that end without resolution.  I will purposefully avoid series books, and Zink has sucked me into another.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Darren Shan's The Thin Executioner

Shan creates an entire world with various cultures, religions and villains in his archetypal tale, The Thin Executioner.  Inspired by the country of Jordan, Jebel Rum sets out on a quest to gain superhuman strength and get his honor back.  Throughout his journey, our young hero learns to believe in himself and consequently learns what it is to be kind and humble.

In the dedication page, the author thanks the country of Jordan for his plot and setting inspiration.  What I want to know is WHEN does this story take place?  Some of the practices of Um Aineh are rather primitive and barbaric, but the weapons are extremely advanced and futuristic.  Whenever a character is introduced, the author is careful to mention the color of the character's skin, and his religious beliefs.  Ironically, characters with monotheistic beliefs are light skinned and enslaved.  Polytheistic characters are dark skinned, and rule the world.  Jebel Rum is worships many gods and dark skinned, whereas his enslaved companion, Tel Hasani, is light skinned and worships one god.  When Tel Hasani speaks of his religious beliefs, they sound much like Christian doctrine.  Could the setting of the story be from a distant time in the future?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Kate Morton's The Distant Hours

Kate Morton spins a gothic web of betrayal, lust, love, and the ultimate family bond in The Distant Hours.  Told from the perspective of modern day Edie Burchill, the author takes you back to 1940's England during World War II to reveal the secrets that have betrayed the Blythe family.  The tale of the spinster Sisters Blythe is centered around Milderhurst Castle, which has been in the family for centuries.

The Distant Hours is beautifully written.  As the secrets of "the distant hours" are revealed, the reader should be completely captivated by the decaying castle and its inhabitants.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Neal Shusterman's UNWIND

In this case, I do believe it's necessary to share that I am pro life and I do not believe in harvesting organs, stem cells, or cloning. With that being said, I just finished Neal Shusterman's UNWIND. The novel is creepy, in the ranks of Fahrenheit 451 and 1984. I just pray that our society never succumbs to "truths" that are inhumane and really translate into an orchestrated waste of life. Unwind is a good read with a good ending, but be prepared.