Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Poisoned House will freak your freak!

I received this free through NetGalley.

This was a simple and heart-thumping novel. I honestly couldn't put the book down from beginning to end and read it in one sitting. (I was literally walking up and down the hall with the Kindle.  You can imagine that Audrey wasn't thrilled and kept trying to get my attention!)

I fell in love with Abi and completely feel sorry for the way she's being mistreated. I have to say, I kind of saw the ending coming but that didn't make it any less powerful...I've just learned to anticipate some of the twists and turns. I love the way it worked out for her at the end and I'm so glad that she was able to get the last word. The appearance of her mother completely freaked me out to the point where I had to leave a little night light on. Yes, I'm a lightweight when it comes to thrillers but angry ghosts make me crazy! And I also love the way the author incorporated something found in history with a little paranormal!  There were not a bunch of details or character development, but honestly, it worked very well that way because you knew what you had to know about them...you always knew enough.

Good writing...not a whole lot of awkward points or negatives that really stood out or detracted from the story.  I love books like this.

Rating: 4 (but only because I figured out the ending too soon)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Not really Proof of the Afterlife

First let me start out by saying, I do agree with the hypocrisy of most Christians and their "Do as I say, not as I do" philosophy.  I feel like most people get too lost in their own faults and lives to realize what a negative affect their words and actions can have on the people around them (as well as their own hereafter).  I feel like this was important for the author to get across and he did so very well.  However, that's about all I was able to take in from this novel. 
Throughout the book the author was extremely repetitive about what was in the upcoming chapters.  He kept starting to talk about something and then reference a later chapter, so the whole story was given in pieces and parts that went back and forth in time with no fluidity or transition.  There were a few gramatical errors and horrid comma use but otherwise the problem wasn't the sentence structure.  The book was not what I expected.  I was looking for a more Diary of Anne Frank feel where the author detailed his near death experience in his journal and how it made him feel.  What I got was a little more preachy and a tad more far fetched in some assumptions.  It was filled with a few tiny journal passages and then the rest was simply speculation about events that tied into some of the author's dreams.  It was very hard to keep up with what was going on and when.  I do, wholeheartedly, believe that God talks to us in so many ways and that everything in this book could have happened, but I feel like in this book, it was a little too much.  The journal entries weren't journal entries in a sense that they didn't feel "real."  What I mean is that when someone writes in a journal, there are no limitations--most of the time people write what they are feeling and it's not proper and well written all the time.  These entries seemed strained...and there was way too much abiguity.  So much so that the author had to take a ton of time explaining what he went through...because the journal didn't have any details about the experiences.  To me, it just left so much room for improvement.

Rating: 2

The Guardian

From Goodreads:
Plunge into the world of seen and unseen forces in The Guardian. Anna Riley has just come into possession of a two-thousand-year old scroll that God gave to John the Disciple. Her mission—to guard the scroll and unlock its secret. Jason Lang, her protector, has his work cut out for him as they begin their journey around the world, facing corruption and dodging bullets—all the while trying to keep his attraction to Anna at bay. Will he succeed in defending the woman he’s vowed to protect? Will Anna, forced to trust other people to stay alive, fulfill the challenge that she’s accepted?

What I thought:
I received this ARC from the publisher through NetGalley.  The first thing I was reminded of when I sat down to read this was that the book was remniscent of The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons with a little more reflection on faith and God.  I loved how it incorporated all of the historical and biblical factors with a little bit of suspense and chase! I was able to learn something new about the bible and get completely engrossed in the story.  It was fast paced and very easy to read.  I thought it was beautifully written.  The balance between description and action was key.  I didn't feel like I wanted to skip ahead because of a lot of boring details.  I read every word and couldn't put it down because I had to see what was going to happen next.

Overall, it was a great story that had me smiling (with goosebumps) at the end.  I was able to fall in love with Anna and Jason as well as the security team. (Without major spoilers, I was a little sad at some of the events-because I was so invested in the characters, I didn't want to see anything bad happen to them)  The character development was top notch as well as the story.  In reading it, I began questioning my own faith.  What would I have done in Anna's situation?  Would I have been too afraid to trust? 
I also liked how the author didn't really talk about what happened to the "Pope"...he left it to interpretation.  Usually, that sort of thing would annoy me, but in this case, I think it was beautifully done and everyone kind of figures out what happens.  This would definitely be a novel I would recommend to my friends and family.

Rating: 5

Thursday, June 16, 2011

In My Mailbox

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren. It's a time for everyone to share what books they acquired over the course of the week. Ok, so I'm not sure if I am doing this right, but I've received several ARCs that I must now review--and I have had ZERO time to read. 
 I will just make a list of the books I received/won this week (and last week) and where I got them from...shew!  I got my work cut out for me:
  • Does Change have to be so H.A.R.D.? By Julie Donley, RN- received from author
  • Proof of the Afterlife by BR. Gary Joseph-received from author
  • The Amazing Adventures of Thomas and Erin w/Grandad (not shown) by John Vassey- childrens book received from author (this one I did read and review already).
  • The Poisoned House (ebook)- received from publisher through NetGalley
  • The Guardian (ebook)- received from publisher through NetGalley
  • Picking Up the Ghost (ebook) by Tone Milazzo- received from publisher through NetGalley (already read and reviewed)
  • Buried Secrets by Joseph Finder- received through First Reads from Goodreads
  • Stealing Mona Lisa by Carson Morton- received through First Reads from Goodreads
  • The First Victim (ebook) by J.B. Lynn- received through NetGalley
  • The Strange Life of Walenty Karnowski by Gerald Schmidt- received from author
I honestly don't know where to begin on all of these.  I think my next one is going to be the Proof of the Afterlife, since it's the one I got next in line. 

Wish me luck!!!

Shadowlight-Lynn Viehl

From Goodreads:
With just one touch, Jessa Bellamy can see anyone’s darkest secrets, thanks to whoever tampered with her genes. What she doesn’t know is that a biotech company has discovered her talent and intends to kill her and harvest her priceless DNA.Gaven Matthias is forced to abduct Jessa himself so he can protect her, but Jessa has a hard time believing the one man whose secrets she can’t read. As a monstrous assassin closes in and forces them to run, Jessa will have to find another way to discover if Matthias is her greatest ally—or her deadliest enemy
What I thought:
This book was o-k. It was a little hard to follow with all the jumping to different characters in the beginning but once I had gotten through the first part, the second part was a bit easier to follow. And lets face it...there was a "love" scene that made me a little hot and bothered.  I honestly wouldn't have picked it up if it wasn't for a book challenge I was doing and I had limited options.  It was not horrible, but it wasn't a stand out novel either.  Maybe it just wasn't my cup of tea.
Rating: 3

Picking Up The Ghost

I received this ARC in e-reader format through Net Galley.
Let me start off by saying that this book had the potential to be something different and good...but in saying that, I believe that it fell short. 
As far as the actual writing was concerned, there were very awkward sentence structures and a few grammatical errors that really took away from the root of the story.  I am hoping the final edit will get some of those taken care of but it seriously made it hard to enjoy any of it because it was hard to read.
You can read a summary of this on Goodreads, so I won't waste time on that.  I will say that the meat and potatoes of the story was good.  Cinque, a young man living in a poor town, set out to find out why such strange things were happening to him.  Outside of that, it was super confusing.  There is one part where he becomes faceless and nameless and I believe it was WAY more complicated than it needed to be.  I also think that the story dragged in parts and I found myself wanting to skip forward to see the action.  It is my opinion that there were too many characters with weird names that weren't introduced properly, lots of lose ends that weren't tied up and a few inconsistencies, including dialogue/speech.  Maybe there weren't and I just missed something, but the point in all this was that the book was extremely hard to follow from beginning to end.  The characters were not ones that you fall in love with and they seemed to develop the "answers" out of thin air.
I hate giving bad reviews and I'm an open minded reader, for sure, but I did not enjoy this book at all, and it's a shame.  I am interested to see what the actual released book will be like.  The premise and set up to such a thing would have been great but based on the book that was received, I can only give 2 stars.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Dead Dead Dead Dead Dead

From Goodreads:

Sookie Stackhouse is just a small-time cocktail waitress in small-town Louisiana. Until the vampire of her dreams walks into her life--and one of her coworkers checks out...Maybe having a vampire for a boyfriend isn't such a bright idea. A fun, fast, funny, and wonderfully intriguing blend of vampire and mystery that's hard to put down, and should not be missed.

What I thought:

First of all, I thought the whole premise behind this book was hilarious.  The writing, the characters, the accent, the clothes--made me laugh hysterically...and I'm not sure why.  I don't know if it was meant to evoke that type of reaction, but it did.  I thought Sookie was insane and her vampire BILL sounded a little unorthodox as well.  I love the fact that his name is Bill...hahaha. 
So I am not 100% sure why this series is as popular as it is, but at the same time, it's lighthearted and a quick read.  I am not saying it wasn't enjoyable.  Maybe a little too far fetched in a genre where having a relationship with a vampire is already a bit far fetched in the first place.  I can't imagine reading ALL of the Sookie Stackhouse series--because I mean, how much of this stuff can one person go through...but I am curious to read a few more in the series to see where it's going. 

I really don't have much else to say about it.  It made me laugh...which isn't a bad thing, I suppose.

Rating: 3

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

From Goodreads:

In a single moment, everything changes. Seventeenyear- old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall riding along the snow-wet Oregon road with her family. Then, in a blink, she finds herself watching as her own damaged body is taken from the wreck...A sophisticated, layered, and heartachingly beautiful story about the power of family and friends, the choices we all make?and the ultimate choice Mia commands.

What I thought:

I loved this book.  I loved the different perspective on dying and the choices we have to make.  I fell in love with the story, the characters, everything.  I loved the relationship between Mia and her boyfriend as well as her best friend.  The writing was great.  I didn't feel like there was too much time devoted on descriptions or on non-important things or occasions.  I felt that the transition between present and past wasn't confusing.  I didn't like the fact that I cried like a baby...maybe I should deduct a star for making me so emotional.  Not many books can make you feel so strongly, but this one does. 

Rating: 5

The Amazing Adventures of Thomas and Erin

I received this book free from John Vassey. 
As a children's story, this book doesn't offer anything new and exciting to the genre.  I feel as though the character illustrations are a little scary, unfortunately, and I don't think that they would sit well with little children, my daughter included.  They are so non-colorful against a very colorful background, which makes them stand out seperately, giving it an odd effect. 

What bothers me is the "AMAZING" part.  The adventures, although cute and fun, were not amazing.  If they had encountered something odd along the way, it would have added more to the story.  Perhaps if they had found something exciting in the road, like a turtle or a stray puppy...or a man selling a ton of balloons, it would have been more interesting.  It could have gone so many other wonderful places rather than "the market was closed so we walked down the street and played with our friends."  It was cute, don't get me wrong, but it was far from amazing.

I do love the font and the background illustrations used in the novel. The story just seemed a little rushed, in my opinion.

Rating: 2

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Hex Hall Part Deux (Some Spoilers)

From Goodreads:

Sophie Mercer thought she was a witch.

That was the whole reason she was sent to Hex Hall, a reform school for delinquent Prodigium (aka witches, shapeshifters, and fairies). But that was before she discovered the family secret, and that her hot crush, Archer Cross, is an agent for The Eye, a group bent on wiping Prodigium off the face of the earth.

Turns out, Sophie’s a demon, one of only two in the world—the other being her father. What’s worse, she has powers that threaten the lives of everyone she loves. Which is precisely why Sophie decides she must go to London for the Removal, a dangerous procedure that will destroy her powers.

But once Sophie arrives she makes a shocking discovery. Her new friends? They’re demons too. Meaning someone is raising them in secret with creepy plans to use their powers, and probably not for good. Meanwhile, The Eye is set on hunting Sophie down, and they’re using Archer to do it. But it’s not like she has feelings for him anymore. Does she?

My thoughts:

I enjoyed this book more than Hex Hall and it surprised me.  Hex Hall seemed to be too much of a Harry Potter knockoff and I didn't enjoy it because the writing was no where NEAR J.K. Rowling and I kept comparing a little bit of the plotline to that of HP.  I know there were several differences but it distracted me from the actual story...however, in Demonglass, Sophie's character grows up a much more than what I thought should would have.  I felt like it was a more unique storyline and I didn't compare it with any other title I've read.  It took on a world of its own. 

Some things I didn't like though:
The fact that she's a "valley girl" type character all "whatever" and stuff.  The language was perfect for her character, so I don't feel like it's an author error.  In fact, I think the author did a great job in character building for Sophie.  It was believeable.  That being said, it was the actual character that I had a problem with because people who are THAT sarcastic need to be hit with a hammer.  Ok...so maybe it wasn't that bad.  And maybe I'm a little snarky too.  But the language did make her harder to fall in love with at first.  (and yes, I did end up loving her)  I guess it just gets hard to remember sometimes that she is very young and that's how the "youngens" talk and take it at face value.

I have absolutely no idea how Sophie could still have feelings for Archer after everything that has been said and done.  Maybe we all have the "bad boy" in our lives that we've loved for no particular reason but that doesn't make it right.  It's upsetting and aggrivating!  Archer offers nothing to Sophie that can be useful except for kissing and he's so darn secretive and untrustworthy.  PLUS, it's a bad idea because of who she is and who he is.  Why is it that children never listen to their parents??  (bwahahaha)
Cal, on the other hand, is an amazing guy and would be perfect for Sophie.  OBVIOUSLY.  Anyway, the love triangle is typical.  Are you Team Cal or Team Archer?  Maybe we should buy shirts.  I'm Team Cal. 

I did love the storyline and luckily I've felt that way about a lot of the books I've read lately.  Of course I will be picking up the third in the series because I do like the characters (some more than others) and want to see what's going to happen to them.

Overall: I liked it better than the first part and I hope it gets better and better as it goes.

Rating: 4

Divergent by Veronica Roth

From Goodreads:
In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

Debut author Veronica Roth bursts onto the literary scene with the first book in the Divergent series—dystopian thrillers filled with electrifying decisions, heartbreaking betrayals, stunning consequences, and unexpected romance

What I thought:

First of all, yes, this book is similar to Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins in a few different ways, but honestly, I didn't feel like it was a repeat at all.  I was engaged in the novel from cover to cover and it only took me a little while to read.  The ending drove me CRAZY, since it was sort of a cliffhanger, but overall I enjoyed the character development of Tris.  She was strong and I enjoy reading books where the central role is a strong female character.  I also loved that she had flaws...
I could have done without the romance.  Why do all novels have to have romantic ties in them?  It's a little overdone, but um...I would enjoy Four's company. :) And the romance part of Divergent wasn't overdone to the point that it annoyed me.  I cannot wait until the second part of the series comes out.  I have to see what happens.  Why do authors do this to us???

Rating: 5

Friday, June 3, 2011

The End of the World--ponder it...

I received this book from the author, Andrew Biss, through Book Blogs Giveaway.   (Thanks, Andrew!). 
From Amazon.com:

Accustomed to a life of cosseted seclusion at home with his parents, Valentine is suddenly faced with making his own way in the world. His new life is quickly upended, however, when he's mugged at gunpoint. Finding shelter at a mysterious inn run by the dour Mrs. Anna, he soon encounters a Bosnian woman with a hole where her stomach used to be, an American entrepreneur with a scheme to implant televisions into people's foreheads, and a Catholic priest who attempts to lure him down inside a kitchen sink. Then things start getting strange...

In this story based loosely around the state of Bardo from The Tibetan Book of the Dead - an intermediate state where the dead arrive prior to rebirth - dying is the easy part. Getting out of Bardo and returning to the land of the living is a far more perilous proposition, and unless you know what you're doing...you might never leave.

My thoughts:

I enjoyed the book for many different reasons.  It's so easy to question what happens after you die and I find it intriguing what others' opinions are on this topic.  Biss' was a very different opinion and I liked its originality.  I have to say, overall I think the book was a little too short.  I would have preferred a little more detail about the time with his parents and why they acted the way they did towards him.  At first, I didn't know if he was living in some sort of dystopian society or if his parents were just flat out weird.  All we got were snippets of some of the "lessons" he was taught that didn't even remotely prepare him for being on his own in the outside world.   I feel like this part of the novel wasn't very well developed.  I did, however, like his time at the inn.  I feel like in those pages Valentine was forced to wake up and grow up, and he developed a lot during his short time there.  I love the fact that it brought questions into my head regarding the afterlife and what I think I'll make of it, and for that, many kudos, Mr. Biss. 
I think that this book was a good quick read about things maybe we don't talk about as much as we should and it gave me a lot to think about.  I am also very thankful that my parents didn't kick me out on my booty before I was ready to see the world!!  Great overall plot line and character. 

Rating: 4

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Jen Lancaster and me go way back!

I received this book from one of my best friends who decided it would be nice to get me an AUTOGRAPHED copy just because she loves me! 

I have to say that this book was exactly what I thought it would be and exactly what I needed it to be after reading some seriously heavy books.  Jen Lancaster broke away from her typical memoir style writing to publish a "fiction" novel.  Lets face it, the main character, Mia, was very much like Jen Lancaster and she went through things only Jen could go through.  It made for some pretty hilarious reading and I finished it in about a day.  It was a simple, quick, easy to follow book about this couple who decide to buy a house after having an AWFUL experience with their "landlord"--a no talent, Paris Hilton-esque character who has no idea what a landlord is (which is funny in itself).  Anyway- finding their perfect house wasn't easy, so Mia decides she HAS to live in a Jack Ryan house that the movie Sixteen Candles was filmed in, just because of that fact.  It was remniscent of the movie The Money Pit with how many horrible things were wrong with this house and how much money they had to go through to get it livable.  There were a TON of references to Sixteen Candles and HGTV and if you hadn't seen that movie, or watched much HGTV, you may get a little lost on some of the references.  However, that being said, I loved it and would recommend to anyone who is a Jen Lancaster fan from way back!

Rating: 5

The So-So Bones

This novel is about a young girl (Susie) whose ghost stays with her family after she suffers a horrible rape and death.  It follows the family and how they deal with the loss of their daughter/sister as well as touches on the life of the murderer. 
I have to say I was a little disappointed in the writing on this because the plot was AMAZING.  I was a little distracted by some of the descriptions that were used...and I kept asking myself why the author chose to describe everyone's eyes...over and over again.  And what do "ferocious olives" look like exactly?  I've been to Publix and seen their olive bar...and I am still confused because none of them looked particularly angry.  Anyway...the story was a good one and I was dealing with the so-so writing...up until the end.  I did NOT like it at all.  The fact that she (SPOILER ALERT) uses this girls body to have sex with her boyfriend, when up to that point she hadn't even really mentioned having sex with him (only kissing) did not fit the overall storyline of the book.  Everything up until that point was fairly believable and I felt like this particular scene was over done.  I also didn't understand how sometimes Susie had the power to be seen or touch stuff and then sometimes she didn't.  The rules weren't "explained" very well about this sort of thing, and I think it would have been useful information. 
This was not a horrible book, by far.  It had a great foundation...it was just a little poorly executed.

Rating: 3