Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Review: The Nine Lives of Christmas

The Nine Lives of Christmas

The Nine Lives of Christmas is a holiday story of a man, a woman, and a cat who all need a little help at Christmas. Ambrose the cat is in trouble- and willing to make a deal with his maker to save his ninth (and last) life- when Zach, a firefighter in the town of Angel Falls, comes to the rescue. Ambrose has nowhere to go, no home to return to- and with the holidays approaching and nowhere else to take him, Zach grudgingly takes the cat back to his place. Ambrose immediately makes himself at home- but realizes that part of the deal is he helps Zach with something- but what does Zach need?

Zach is a nice guy and very much single- happily so. Bad experiences in the past have jaded him and he prefers to keep his relationships casual- no strings attached. He only intends to keep Ambrose for a while, until he can find a home for the cat- but when Zach meets Merilee in the pet food aisle, he finds that maybe he's not as happy as he thought he was.

Merilee is also single, and shy around guys- having had a weight problem when she was younger, she's in her mid twenties now and fit- but still nervous as all get out when she crosses paths with Zach. There's an immediate attraction- so why does he hold himself back? Little does she know that Zach has a girlfriend- and when they meet the sparks fly. That along with Zach's family issues keep him from taking the next step with Merilee- he feels he's all wrong for her, for reasons that become clear later. The girlfriedn of course is a piece of work- and she hates his new cat for one thing- and as time goes by, Zach realizes he has no intention of givin gup the cat. Ambrose, for his part, realizes that Zach and Merilee want to be together- and that his "deal" involves making that happen anyway he can.

This is a fun and heartwarming holiday tale and I enjoyed it a lot. A good read for a cold night with a blanket and a warm drink. Comfort reading I suppose, and chick lit all the way. So why did I read it? Well, the cover drew me in, and I like a good Christmas read. Zach and Merilee are both likable, and Ambrose's perspective was probably my favorite part of the story. He is full of fun observations and wry insights into human (and cat) behavior. There's a hilarious scene where Ambrose brings Zach a "gift" from outside and leaves it where Zach and his...um, sleepover guest wil lfind it. There are a few slapstick moments like this but by and large this is a relationship story. The ending is entirely predictable, but so what? The journey there is fun.

Apparently this is an upcoming Hallmark channel movie. I'm not exactly a regular watcher of that network, but I did see a blurb for it and not sure the casting works for me after reading the book. I would watch it if it was on, given how fun the story was. A good, light holiday read.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Teaser Tuesday #35



Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. To participate you grab your current read, open to a random page and share (2) teaser sentences from somewhere on that page. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INLUDE SPOILERS (Make sure what you share doesn't give too much away. You don't want to ruin the book for others). Share the title and author.

" Murder? I don't see how it could have been. Who would want to murder Rupert?"
"I imagine Detective Inspector Jones would give a great deal to know just that."
"Well, this has all been fascinating," she said lightly, touching her glossy red hair, "but I'm afraid I must go to my room and dress for dinner." 
"Of course."  

Murder at the Brightwell

Murder at the Brightwell

I decided to do another selection from my current read this week - this book is good. 

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Sunday Post #67



The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer.
It's Monday! What Are You Reading is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

The last weekend of October is on us, and this month has flown by. I've enjoyed the fall activities and the turning leaves- October is one of my favorite months and I'll be sorry to see it go. And thanksgiving and Christmas are right around the corner...  

A few leaves are still falling as I write this, and the trees in the back are all golden and yellow. I didn't so much reading this week but I did finish a holiday read- my thoughts on it should be up this week. Last week I posted a few older reviews- feel free to check them out if you're interested. They're all good fall reads in their own way, I think. 

LAST WEEK: 

Review: The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester - a nice MG read about four friends and a mysterious something that falls off a train 
Review: The Cats of Tanglewood Forest - a girl, lots of cats, and an enchanted wood
Review: The Paladin Prophecy - a great YA about kids with powers and an exclusive academy
Teaser Tuesday: Murder at the Brightwell
Sunday Post

THIS WEEK:

Teaser Tuesday #35 
TUESDAY: Review: The nine Lives of Christmas- a girl, a guy and a cat who all need a little help at Christmas. A great holiday read.
SATURDAY: Movie Review: Forbidden Planet (for Sci Fi Month)

CURRENTLY READING: 


Murder at the Brightwell

NEW ARRIVALS: 

 The Nine Lives of Christmas



BLOGOSPHERE: 

Tales Between The Pages has a nice review of Summer of the Woods, and a guest post by the author. 

Here's a friendly Middle Earth safety video for your enjoyment. 



Ana at Read Me Awayhas a new feature called Rec Time- where she talks book recommendations. This week is Historical Fiction. Check it out! 

The Avengers trailer is out- and it looks pretty intense. 




I'll leave you with this scene from The Birds... one of my favorite scary movies and a good way to wind down October. 










Friday, October 24, 2014

Review: The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester

The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester

 This is a repost of an earlier review. The original post was on June 15, 2013. 

The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester by Barbara O’Connor is the story of Owen, a young boy whose family has to move in with his grandfather after his father loses his job. Their next door neighbor is Viola, a know-it-all girl who Owen can’t stand. Owen has a frog he just caught- “the biggest, greenest, slimiest, most beautiful bullfrog ever to be seen in Carter, Georgia”. Owen names him Tooley Graham and is very proud of him- and he doesn’t appreciate it when Viola tells him in no uncertain terms that Tooley would be better off free.  

One night Owen is in bed listening to the train go by. He hears a crashing sound and realizes something has fallen off the train. What could it be? He resolves to find out, and recruits his friends Travis and Stumpy to help. They find more than they bargained for however. It seems that a small submarine has fallen off the train, and the boys decide to use it in the local pond! Of course they want to keep this a secret from Viola, who naturally turns up at the most inopportune times.

Finding a submarine is one thing, but getting it to the pond and figuring out how to work it is something else. And that’s where Viola comes in. Viola is smarter than the three boys or at least better read, and she loves to irritate them by pointing out things they have not thought of. Viola wants to be part of the group but they don’t want anything to do with her. Until Owen realizes he needs her help…

Throughout the story Owen wrestles with not only finding the mysterious something, but also with whether or not he should free Tooley. His frog increasingly seems despondent and he starts to realize that Viola may have been right about the frog… 

The dialogue between the kids is funny and authentic, I felt like I was listening to real kids talking. The relationship between the three boys seemed natural, but the best parts of the book are when Viola shows up. I felt a little sorry for her at first, the boys aren’t very nice to her, but she comes through for them at the end. There’s a moment towards the end where Owen and Viola share a moment of triumph that was touching. 

This book is a great kids story, a nice summertime adventure. The idea of somethingmysterious falling off a train in a remote Southern town seemed to me like something that would happen in a Spielberg movie. That’s the vibe I got anyway, and is what initially drew me to the book. The book itself reads quickly, the chapters are short and breezy and thus perfect for kids or even reluctant readers. It’s fairly short at 168 pages and has a Q&A with the author at the end.

The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester is a charming book and was a pleasure to read.

The Youtube trailer is here.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Review: The Cats of Tanglewood Forest

The Cats of Tanglewood Forest


The Cats of Tanglewood Forest tells the story of Lillian, an orphan girl who lives with her aunt on the edge of the sprawling forest. She spends her time after chores roaming the woods and looking for fairies. But try as she might, she never sees them although she can sense they're there. She's a generous soul and loves the animals, leaving saucers of milk for all the stray cats and even taking biscuits to the old apple tree every day, for the Apple Tree Man that she imagines lives there.  

One day however after venturing deep into the woods Lillian has a terrible accident... and the cats come. Saving her as only they can, Lillian is transformed into a cat. Thus begins a quest to return her to her proper form- but along the way she will meet some unforgettable characters (the fox known as T.H. Lawrence steals every scene he's in) and learn some valuable lessons about love, loyalty and the consequences of decisions. 

I loved this book. It has a fairy- tale quality to it, an ageless feel. Lillian is a classic free spirit, eschewing shoes and girly things and wanting nothing more than to wander free in the woods and race the deer. She's feisty and loyal and brave, but learns that the forest can be a dangerous place as well as enchanting. Will she find a way to set things right and return to her true form? And will she ever see the fairies? 

The Cats of Tanglewood Forest is written by Charles De Lint and illustrated by Charles Vess. Both are World Fantasy Award winners. I've never read De Lint before but I've been a fan of Charles Vess' work for years. He has collaborated with Neil Gaiman on Stardust and other projects. I've seen his work in various comics and he is the perfect artist for a story like this. He has a lush style, so evocative and dreamy. This is not my favorite example of his art, I've seen a lot of his stuff over the years, but it's still so good. I just love the cover.

I highly recommend this book for kids and adults alike. I think kids will love it, but I also think it has a lot to offer adults. The book reads quickly, some pages are full page illustrations and the ending is awesome. I haven't had this much fun with a book in a long time. 

Charles Vess' website Green Man Press can be found here.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Review: The Paladin Prophecy

The Paladin Prophecy (The Paladin Prophecy, #1)


Just another day. That’s what Will West thinks one morning as he goes running before school. Little does he know that soon he will be running for his life. After scoring off the charts on a nationwide exam Will finds himself on the run from men in black sedans and courted by an exclusive academy that no one has ever heard of. Along the way he is guided by the list of rules his father taught him to live by.

Rule #5 Trust No One

Will has always been told by his parents to lie low, not to draw attention to himself. A gifted runner, he hangs back and remains strictly average in all he does. He has no friends. Will’s life changes when, on the run and with his parents being targeted, he has no choice but to accept the academy’s offer of a full scholarship. Will arrives at the Center for Integrated Learning to find that everyone there is the best of the best- top of the line in academics, sports or whatever. Most everyone comes from wealth and privilege, and he is not sure if he’ll fit in. He meets his new roommates- Brooke, Ajay, Nick and Elise. They become fast friends, which is good because Will quickly makes enemies as well. There are those on campus who don’t want him there, and may have a connection to the men in black chasing him.

Will and his friends soon discover there is more to the Center than meets the eye- and its hard to know who to trust. Not only that, but Will realizes that he and some of his friends have special abilities- gifts that set them apart from ordinary humans. Abilities they may need if they are going to survive…

I liked The Paladin Prophecy a lot. It's fast paced and the story is sprinkled with humor. Will is engaging and realistic, and his sarcastic observations keep the perspective fresh. His roommates at the academy are well drawn for the most part. Brooke is smart, beautiful and confident and it doesn’t take long for Will to fall for her.  Ajay is endearing as a tech guru who can juryrig just about anything. Nick is a gymnast and the comic relief, always has a one liner or wry observation- I thought him kind of useless in the early going (aside from the humor), but he has a role to play later. Elise is a mystery girl with a lot of secrets, and easily the most interesting of the bunch.

The academy itself is fascinating- I loved the descriptions, the remoteness of it. I want to go there! The technology there is just a little ahead of society, and the author uses that to make the place unique. A nice touch. There are secret tunnels, strange rituals, and lots of extradimensional weirdness. The kids are the best part, they all have a role to play and they’re a lot of fun. The author seems to really hit his stride with them as the story progresses.

Throughout the story Will’s rules for life pop up at various times, usually before a pivotal scene. We really get a sense for how his parents trained him for this, to be prepared for the day when he would be on the run and have to rely on himself. Most of the rules are common sense but I chuckled at several, and they add a lot to the story.

Rule #27 There Is No Such Thing As Coincidence

As for what I didn't like- first we get a full dose of the boy goes to exclusive academy, makes friends and gets razzed, has to find his place and solve a mystery- perhaps not very original, but the sheer imagination of it makes it fun. Second, I found myself wondering why is Will wasting time getting to know people and settling in to campus life when his parents are in mortal danger? There seemed to be a lack of urgency there. I had to put that aside and go with it.   

There are a lot of cool moments that make this story a lot of fun. There’s a chilling scene where a bird that has been hanging around the house is peeking in the window, but when Will takes a closer look he finds its not your average bird. Later Will finds himself on an airplane winging across country to join the academy- but he is not alone on the plane. Nightmare creatures will do anything to stop him, including tear one of the engines apart! The action sometimes gets over the top but its fun and thrilling.

The Paladin Prophecy is a great read with a lot of great ideas. We get some closure at the end but at the same time the door is open for a sequel. I think Will and Brooke will be a great couple, and I'm looking forward to seeing more of Elise as well.

"I felt something else, too," said Will, studying her. "A couple of times with you." He held her eyes and thought:
Do you know what I'm thinking right now?
She held his eyes steadily: Of course I do, dummy. 
Will gasped. "Damn. What is up with that?"
"Don't know, but it sure beats the hell out of texting," she said, grinning slyly.


Monday, October 20, 2014

Teaser Tuesday #34



Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. To participate you grab your current read, open to a random page and share (2) teaser sentences from somewhere on that page. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INLUDE SPOILERS (Make sure what you share doesn't give too much away. You don't want to ruin the book for others). Share the title and author.

"I have no secrets from you, Milo." I turned as I reached the door and flashed his smile back at him. "If I had a lover, I would certainly inform you of it." 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Sunday Post The Hues of Autumn



The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer.
It's Monday! What Are You Reading is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

I had two reviews go up last week, one for a book I really liked and the other was fine but wasn't really my thing. I seem to be reading (and acquiring) mysteries at the moment... I just started a new one and so far I like it a lot. 

This week I'm bringing a few older reviews back to the light of day- I was looking through some older ones and trying to find any that looked like good October reads. I hope you stop by and check them out, and let me know what you think. I think there's an interesting mix...  

LAST WEEK: 

Review: The Moment of Everything - this one was okay, didn't wow me 
Review: Get Even - loved this, one of my favorite YA reads this year
Teaser Tuesday #33 Get Even 

THIS WEEK: 

TUESDAY: Review: The Treasure of Tranicos- a short story about pirates
WEDNESDAY: Review: The Paladin Prophecy
THURSDAY: Review: The Cats of Tanglewood Forest- a girl, a magical wood and lots of cats- a perfect read for October
Teaser Tuesday #34 
FRIDAY: Review: The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester- a great MG read 

NEW ARRIVALS: 

  Mistletoe and Mayhem (Pennyfoot Hotel Mystery, #18)

The Nine Lives of Christmas



Yes I'm on a Christmas theme here- the last one I just liked the cover, an impulse buy. And I like that part of it is told from the cat's perspective. 

CURRENTLY READING: 

Murder at the Brightwell


BLOGOSPHERE FUN: 

Erin at Quixotic Magpie has a post on the Fall Flavors Fest she went to. Looks like fun... and great pics too. 

Book Journey discusses Gone Girl- book vs. movie

Some fun cosplay this week- Arrow (and who is the girl supposed to be?) 

This seemed appropriate given all the leaves flying around here. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Review: The Moment of Everything

The Moment of Everything

The Moment of Everything was interesting for me. I went into it with high hopes, having heard good things and liking the premise (and the cover, frankly). A contemporary set in a bookstore, with a wonderfully eccentric cast of characters, and a wry, irreverent tone- sounded like a winner. So what did I think? Well, it was okay. This is a book I thought I would like a lot more than I did. I was actually a little disappointed with it, and had to struggle at times to keep going, especially in the middle.

Maggie DuPres has been laid off from her tech job at a Silicon Valley startup and now spends her days reading romance novels at the Dragonfly used bookstore. She's waiting for the next big thing to come along, but she's not trying too hard. She's actually rather enjoying days at the bookstore. Her friend Dizzy is still plugged in to the corporate scene and talks her into attending a highbrow book club meeting- the idea being for her to mingle and get back in the game. The read- Lady Chatterly's Lover. Everyone is reading the Penguin Classics edition, but Hugo, the owner of the Dragonfly, gives her a battered copy he finds in the store. Maggie starts to read it, but is surprised to find notes written in the margins-love notes from a Henry and Catherine, dating back to 1961.

 The longing and emotion she finds in those notes captivates her, and she tries to find out more about them. Maggie posts some of the notes online, and before long the Dragonfly has a surge of new business. Seems that everyone wants t ocome in and share the mystery- but when new love enters Maggie's life she may find truths that ring true for her as well.

Sound wonderful, right? And it is a fine story, well written and smart. It just didn't work for me on several different levels. I thought right from the first chapter that it was a little too self- aware, like it was trying a little too hard- there are long sentences where it's almost as if the author is trying to shoehorn in as many references as possible. I did like the snippets from Henry and catherine, and enjoyed Maggie's insights into her own life and priorities as she contemplated this love affair in words. There are some touching moments, to be sure, and I did laugh at some of the references. I could even relate to Maggie's concerns, and I liked her character, for the most part, and Hugo too- but I didn't like the other characters. Even the cat wasn't very likable, frankly!

The turn that the story takes at the end salvaged it for me a bit- I liked the theme of be who you are, and could relate to Maggie as she had to choose between doing what was perhaps expected of her and who she truly anted to be. I wish I had been as invested in the whole book as I was at the tail end of it. It may just be that I'm not the target audience, or the right person for this one. I would encourage people to try it for yourself if you're interested This one was just not for me.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Review: Get Even

Get Even (Don't Get Mad, #1)

Get Even by Gretchen McNeil is the story of four girls- Bree, Kitty, Olivia and Margot- who take it upon themselves to mete out a little justice at their elite prep school. Bullies, mean girls, even teachers who cross the line are all potential targets. Each of the girls runs in a different social circle, but together they are a secret group called DGM- Don't Get Mad. They're sworn to secrecy and the punishments they come up with are often quite elaborate- to the point that the school administration wants to shut them down any way it can. When someone they are targeting turns up dead, with a bloody DGM calling card at the crime scene, things take a more dangerous turn. Someone is framing them for murder- someone who may know who they are.

To make matters worse, the girls start getting envelopes from an anonymous sender- each envelope contains a photo or other information about the members of DGM. Information not widely known. The envelopes threaten to expose secrets that each girl carries, secrets she has not shared with the other members of DGM- and as the stakes get higher, the girls will have to confront past indiscretions- and decide who they can trust.

Get Even was a fun read, with a fast moving plot and great characterization. Each of the girls has a distinct personality, and each brings a unique quality to the group. At the same time they only trust each other so far, and as secrets are revealed they find the bonds of trust fraying even further. Can they overcome their suspicions and find the killer before he or she strikes again? Or will they end up as targets themselves?

This was a page turner for me. There's quite a bit of suspense throughout, and a lot of characters to keep track of. I likes how the characters' pasts would often intersect and secrets would be revealed to add another layer of complexity to the story. The girls each have a compelling backstory, although I particularly liked Bree, with her caustic wit and fierce independence. She has an interesting relationship with john, her best (and pretty much only)friend who has feelings for her that go beyond friendship. He tends to quote Star Wars every chance he gets and that was a nice touch of humor throughout the story. John becomes a suspect, as do several others (including the members of DGM) and by the end of the story we still don't know the killers identity. The book ends on a bit of a cliffhanger- but what an ending. I thought it was great- and fans of Star Wars will appreciate it as well.

McNeil sprinkles a few pop culture references throughout the story, and a little Shakespeare as well. The drama club is putting on a production of Twelfth Night, but with a twist- they are incorporating elements of the cult movie The Warriors into the story. Interesting combination! The performance happens at the end of the story and everything comes to a head. McNeil certainly seems to be having fun with this- and at the same time she explores issues of bullying, shaming and high school relationships in a way that rings true and that many younger readers may relate to. It's a fun, suspenseful story that takes an unflinching look at bullying and the challenges facing young people in that world we all remember- high school. I can't wait to see what happens next.

Teaser Tuesday #33 Get Even



Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. To participate you grab your current read, open to a random page and share (2) teaser sentences from somewhere on that page. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INLUDE SPOILERS (Make sure what you share doesn't give too much away. You don't want to ruin the book for others). Share the title and author.

"Try to keep up, Princess," Bree said, exasperated at Olivia's slowness. "We all got one."
Olivia looked utterly confused. "But the other day in the lighting booth you said you didn't?"
Bree shrugged. "I lied." 

Get Even 

Get Even (Don't Get Mad, #1)

I thought I'd do another tease from this book this week. I finished it a few days ago and liked it a lot- and lots of quotables too! 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Sunday Post #65 Bring On The Mysteries



The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer.
It's Monday! What Are You Reading is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

This week was good for the most part. The leaves are turning here now and will be at peak soon. The air has cooled off and it truly feels like fall- we're in the 40's as I write this although it's a sunny day. I love the brisk air so I don't mind. 

I read two books this week- The Moment of Everything and Get Even. One I really liked and the other was just okay. Both reviews will be up this week. I'm also starting to look for some holiday reads- yes I'm actually seeking out Christmas books. Mysteries for the most part. There are some fun holiday readathons and events coming up so I'm looking for ideas- any good suggestions? 

LAST WEEK: 

Review: Insurgent 
Review: Blackbird
Teaser Tuesday # Get Even 
Sunday Post #64 October, readathons and blustery winds 

THIS WEEK: 

Tuesday: Review: Get Even- loved it 
Teaser Tuesday #33 


CURRENTLY READING: 

Murder at the Brightwell

BLOGOSPHERE FUN: 

I

Jessica at Tales Between the Pages has a good Literary Lowdown this week. I especially liked the writing tips from George RR Martin and Robin Hobb. 

Melissa's Mochas, Mysteries and More reviews A Midwinter's Tail.  

I Wish I Lived In A Library talks Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

The Bronze Age Babies talk concerts this week. 

Some fun cosplay over at the Trolldens- Kim Possible. 

Oh, and I rediscovered this song this week too. always liked how low key it is. 


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Review: Insurgent

Insurgent (Divergent, #2)

Insurgent was an interesting read for me. I saw Divergent before reading the book and was curious to see where things would go next- and I was curious to see what was outside the fence. I thought after seing the movie and reading the book that Tris and Four were heading out there -so when they returned to the city almost immediately I was a little disappointed, but still interested enough to see where Veronica Roth was taking hers tory.                                                            

After the events of Divergent, Tris and Four are on the run- and headed to the compound of the Amity faction. It was interesting to me that the Amity are outside the fence, and yet apparently don't venture too far? After all, we find out next to nothing about the outside world. After finding the Amity to be less than helpful, and facing attack by the Dauntless sent to capture them, they flee back to the city. Once there, they meet up with the factionless and their leader Evelyn- who has a surprising connection. From there the struggle against the Erudite heats up, old friends and enemies come and go, and we learn a little more about the factions and their reasons for existing.

 I didn't really understand why they went back to the city. It seems like it would have been safer to go away somewhere, maybe far away- and that way we would get to see what's outside the city too. We quickly learn, however, that the battle against Erudite will be the defining feature of the book- and Tris and Four must navigate a minefield of obstacles if they are to survive and learn the truth about their society, and perhaps themselves.

This almost felt like a tour of the factions at times- first we get Amity, then the factionless and even Candor to round things out. The questions raised by the differing goals are the most interesting part of this series. At the same time everyone appears pretty ruthless- Jeanine especially, who never seems to have much nuance. We know she has motivations and goals, but we never really find out what they are. She has no problem with violence on a mass scale, and without knowing what drives her it's hard to see her as more than a two dimensional character. The other faction leaders are not much better- even the factionless. Evelyn apparently also is okay with violence to achieve her ends, Are there any good or inspiring leaders among these people? So far- not really.

I did like that Tori played a prominent role, but then at the end she turns and basically wants to deal harshly with Tris- are any of these people worth anything? I don't understand why Tris doesn't tell Four that she shot , why she thinks he will judge her. After all, he goes around shooting people left and right. The drama just seems artificial, like it was too much after a while- I mean, could Tris and Four keep any more secrets? I like it when characters communicate, talk to each other, as I've said in other reviews- if you have to manufacture drama and lovers' quarrels by keeping secrets every five minutes, I get so tired of that. That got a little old for me in this book. And Four, who I liked a lot in the first book (and the movie), was a little irritating- not always telling Tris what he was planning, and seeming rather naive about Evelyn and the machinations behind the scenes.

Having said all that, I did enjoy Insurgent. It's not perfect, and is perhaps too long- after all the whole book is primarily the struggle against Erudite, and not a lot happens relative t opage count- but I kept turning the pages and I was curious to see where things were going. I thought at times there was a bit of a Christian theme, with the exploration of whether man can be good. She also explores the basis of personality- are we just a result of synapses firing, or is there more to us than that?  The best science fiction makes us think even as we are entertained, and Roth makes us think just enough. The ending is a cliffhanger and I definitly will continue reading to see the conclusion- how could I not after that ending? And after all, I still need to find out what's outside the fence.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Review: Blackbird

Blackbird (Blackbird, #1)

Blackbird by Anna Carey is a story about a girl on the run. She wakes up on the train tracks at a subway station, with no memory of who she is or how she got there. Next to her is a knapsack with a thousand dollars and a note telling her not to contact the police. And she has a tattoo of a blackbird on her right wrist. As she struggles to find out who she is where she comes from, she finds herself the target of someone trying to kill her. She meets a boy named Ben who tries to help her, and she finds safety for a while- he names her Sunny, half in jest due to her personality, as she doesn't even know her name- but always they seem to find her, people who are hunting her- but to what purpose?

She calls a number in the knapsack and is told to go to a location- but when she gets there she finds herself framed for a crime. Now she truly is on the run- from the police as well as from the mysterious people hunting her. She finds herself being followed, but when a woman is about to kill her, the man following her saves her life. What does it all mean? The action escalates from there and Sunny has to find a way to stay alive.

Blackbird was a good, fast read. The story is told in a second person perspective, and while some reviewers have taken exception to that, it didn't both me at all. I got used to it right away and it didn't distract from my enjoyment of the story. The story itself has a bit of a Jason Bourne feel to it- Sunny just instinctively knows how to do certain things, like breaking a lock or disarming someone- and always she is on the run, having to outwit her shadowy pursuers. She starts to get snippets of memory, flashbacks and clues to her past as the hunt intensifies- but will Sunny survive long enough to learn the truth?

I liked the book for the most part. I did have a hard time suspending my disbelief at times. Sunny mostly makes good decisions, but there is one she makes at the end that I didn't understand (spoilers below). And the ending is rather abrupt- not only is nothing resolved, but there's a twist that just seems unrealistic. Even so, I liked this story a lot and am anxious for the next one.


I found the subplot with Celia Alvarez to be interesting I just don't see Celia helping her that way, even though I was glad she did. Towards the end, when Sunny shoots Goss -i was surprised she didn't at least knock him out. Granted Izzy had just been shot, and she wanted to get her away, but leaving Goss free to come after her just seems like a bad decision. And if she can call to report Izzy being shot, shouldn't she just call Celia- the only one she trusts?

Frightfall Read-a-thon Wrap Up



Here is my Wrap Up post for the Frightfall Read-a-thon. I only picked two books as that seemed like a realistic goal, with work and everything, and I did pretty good. I finished up Blackbird early in the week and then hit a lull as the week went on, and went into the weekend needing to finish And Then There Were None. I'm happy to report that I just squeaked through

Here in Michigan it's been a cold and blustery weekend, with high winds starting Friday night and rain on and off all weekend. A very frightful start to October, let me tell you. Seems very appropriate given the title of our readathon, and a good weekend to be reading a classic mystery. I had a lot of fun with this one and hope you did too. A big thanks and shout- out to Michelle at seasons of Reading for hosting this readathon, and looking forward to doing it again down the road.

Happy reading!

Teaser Tuesday #32



Olivia swallowed. "And Kyle was asking where you were. " Okay, it was a lie, but just the white kind. The good kind.

Get Even (Don't Get Mad, #1)

Get Even by Gretchen McNeil. Four girls with different lives, but one thing in common- they belong to a group that punishes the bullies and mean girls of their school. I thought the premise was a fun one- doesn't every school need a group like this? But of course things get out of hand...


Saturday, October 4, 2014

Sunday Post #64 October, readathons and blustery winds



The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer.
It's Monday! What Are You Reading is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

October is here! I finished Insurgent this week as well as Blackbird, a good story about a girl on the run who doesn't know who she is. It's a contemporary thriller and I liked it- review to come Tuesday. Fall is here... but kinda perfect for October, if you ask me. 

The Frightfall readathon has been going all week and I've done pretty good with my goals- I finished Blackbird and still have to finish And Then There Were None. The weather seems like a good accompaniment to this kind of reading! I'm also looking forward a little bit. There are some nice holiday radathons and I'm looking forward to some holiday cheer.Are you participating in any of the readathons or holiday stuff? 

LAST WEEK: 

Review: 13 Secrets 
Teaser Tuesday #31
Sunday Post #63 Frightfall is Here 

THIS TIME: 

Frightfall Readathon Wrap Up Post 
Tuesday: Review: Blackbird
Teaser Tuesday #32  
Thursday: Review: Insurgent


NEW ARRIVALS: 

Get Even (Don't Get Mad, #1) The Moment of Everything Murder at the Brightwell

Get Even by Gretchen McNeil
The Moment of Everything by Shelly King 

CURRENTLY READING: 

Get Even (Don't Get Mad, #1)

BLOGOSPHERE FUN: 

Trish at Between My Lines had a great idea- to have commenters visit other commenters and share something they like about their blog. You can find it here 

Sara at The Hiding Spot has a great post spotlighting Assassins, Thieves and Spies...and has a great list. Check it out! 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Review: 13 Secrets

13 Secrets

13 Secrets is the conclusion to Michelle Harrison’s 13 trilogy. Tanya is coming back to her grandmother's estate for summer vacation and looking forward to seeing Fabian and Rowan again. After the events of the second book Rowan now lives at the manor… but she still has some secrets she has not revealed. Tanya and Fabian soon find that Rowan belongs to a clandestine organization that fights against the changeling trade- the kidnapping of human children by fairies. This was hinted at strongly in the second book of course, but here we find out just how involved she was with them and just how dangerous it is. Someone or something is hunting members of the organization down- can the killer be stopped before all is lost? And how is this related to a decision Rowan made that may have disastrous consequences for them all? 

In many ways I thought this was the best book of the series. Harrison seems to improve with each outing. The setting is well- realized, the plot moves along briskly and there are enough surprises and betrayals to keep you guessing. I liked the fact that the villain, when revealed, had a plausible (albeit twisted) motivation. The only quibble I have is everything seemed a little too connected at the end, a little too convenient how some of the pieces came together, but this is a minor point. The fun factor and surprises along the way make this a page- turner.

Some reviewers have noted the overall lack of romance in this series, and it seems appropriate given the young ages of the protagonists. In this third volume however we begin to see some romantic entanglements, both between Rowan and Sparrow (a streetwise ally with a heart of gold) and also between Fabian's father Warwick and Rose (Rowan's mother). The various members of Rowan's group are also a nice addition to the story. Everyone has a secret and no one can be trusted.