Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Probability of Miracles by Wendy Wunder

The Probability of Miracles is a very special book.  It made me cry which is always a good sign because it means I grew to love the characters.  The story is about Cam, a seventeen year old with cancer.  She’s been fighting and surviving for years until she receives the news that there isn’t anything more the doctors can do.  Medically, they’ve reached the bottom of the barrel.

Cam deals with the news in a typical Cam way.  She acts tough and strong.   Her mother decides to take Cam and her younger sister to a town in Maine that is known for it’s miracles.  Cam doesn’t believe in Miracles but she is charmed by the odd little town and quickly sets about making miracles for other people.  

This story is really, very lovely.  The characters are all fantastic and really feel authentic.  Wendy Wunder created a little town that I’d like to visit.  One where the sun rises and sets in the same place, dandelions are purple, and whales leap at the same time every night.  This story will make you wish for a miracle too.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Prophecy - The Fulfillment by Deborah Jaeger

I didn't know what to expect when I started reading Prophecy - The Fulfillment, by Deborah Jaeger.  I thought it was a modern retelling of the virgin birth but I was slightly off in that assumption.  The story is actually about the second coming of Christ, but in a different way.

Jillian is a typical teenager.  After a breakup with her boyfriend, she learns that she is pregnant.  Not only is she pregnant, but she insists that she is a virgin.  It is difficult for her family to believe.  Even the doctors are baffled by the odd results to every medical test they can throw at her.  Things take an even odder turn as miracles start to occur.

At the same time that Jillian is going through medical testing, Stephen, a Biblical scholar, has begun to have prophetic dreams.  He understands that he is somehow to take Jillian away from the chaos and the danger that surrounds her.  He is to be her protector.

The story is exciting and very intriguing.  It's an interesting question to ask - what if the virgin birth were to happen today?  What kind of medical anomaly would occur with the Son of God?  While some of the scientific parts dragged, and the end seemed rushed, the book on a whole is very worth reading.  I enjoyed it very much and recommend it to anyone who has faith in miracles.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Review Blast! August Catch- Up Edition

I hate doing these quickie reviews but there comes a time when I realize I’m so far behind that I just need to get over 
myself and get it done.  So here you go. . .

Just Listen, by Sarah Dessen, was an excellent read.  The story was very real - nothing sci-fi, supernatural, or dystopian about it, which is rare with Young Adult novels these days.  The story was about a teenager, her sisters, and her attempt at holding her family together and deal with fall-out after a sexual assault led to rumors and misunderstandings.  This story tackles rape, anorexia, and depression amongst other themes.  It’s a heavy novel with a very real core.  Definitely worth reading.  I recommend it to older teens and adults of all ages.

Airhead, Being Nikki, and Runaway, by Meg Cabot, are the three books that make up the Airhead trilogy.  The story is very far fetched.  After an accident in a department store, Emerson wakes up to find her brain transplanted onto the body of a supermodel.  Emerson has to pretend to be Nikki while trying to remain herself.  The first book hooked me enough to keep reading but honestly I find them all a bit silly.  That darn Meg Cabot can always hook me into her stories, weird as they might be.  While I can’t wholeheartedly recommend them to adults, the target teen audience might enjoy the trilogy. 

I’m pretty well convinced that I’ve read Number the Stars, by Lois Lowry, before.  It’s a familiar story.  That being said, I read it again and once again found myself caught up in one family’s courage to stay together through the worst possible time, and another family’s bravery to help them no matter the cost.  It’s always worth a read - or a re-read. 

Sisterchicks in Wooden Shoes is part of an ongoing series by Robin Jones Gunn.  The stories are stand -alone novels of women getting together and finding out more about themselves, and God, along the way.  In this installment, Summer heads to the Netherlands to meet her longtime pen pal Noelle.  The women had been great friends for years but had never met face to face.  Summer is escaping from a possible breast cancer diagnosis and Noelle is still running from a difficult relationship with her father.  As the two women share adventures, they learn that their friendship was meant to be and they both find healing.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton

I wanted to enjoy this book more than I did.  I wanted a big, rousing, pirate tale.  Pirate Latitudes just didn’t hit the mark.  I think part of it was a mental block.  As someone who has written a few unpublished novels, I have to wonder if the late Michael Crichton really wanted this story to see the light of day.  For those unfamiliar, it was found on his computer after he passed away.  I’m not sure I would love it very much if my un-edited, un-polished manuscripts saw the light of day without my consent.  

That’s not to say the story was un-polished.  It was well written, obviously edited, and really was a complete story.  It just didn’t quite do what I wanted it to, which was to sweep me into the Caribbean and immerse me in a story.  This novel is fine as a pirate story but it wasn’t more than that.  It was just a story.  It didn’t stick with me.  It didn’t make me want to revisit the pirates again.  That’s what I wanted.  

I’m glad I read this novel.  I enjoyed parts of it very much and once the large cast of characters came together, the story had a nice flow.  But then it was over and I put the book away.  It’s worth a read and would be fun to read while cruising the Caribbean!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Honeymoon by James Patterson and Howard Roughan

Right up front I'll say that this is one of James Patterson's better books.  Honeymoon was both horrifying and intriguing.  While I wanted to know a little more about what drove Nora to be the way she was, I was still satisfied with the ending.

The story begins with Nora juggling a husband and fiance.  Through crafty computer skills and a little bit of luck, she manages to get wealthy off of these men, which in turns makes them expendable.  Nora has little regret as she ends their lives.  The story is also told from the perspective of John O'Hara, an FBI agent who is suspicious of Nora.  Despite his job and his knowledge of the woman, he becomes too close. 

I liked both the characters!  I know I'm not supposed to like a murderer but she was so matter of fact about it all.  I couldn't help but want to know what she would do next.  John was smart and sarcastic, which to me means he was quite lovable.  It was a quick and easy read that kept me reading to the end. 

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

Okay.  I really like this book!  Shiver, by Maggie Stiefvater is unique and yet comfortable all at the same time!  It's very much girl meets boy who isn't quite human, yet the story behind it all takes it all in a new and unique direction.

Shiver is the story of Grace and Sam.  Grace is a fairly typical high school student who is drawn to a wolf that lives in her woods.  That wolf happens to be Sam, a human for part of the year and a wolf for the rest.  When Grace finds the human Sam injured on her porch, they quickly fall in love.  It's not overly corny or overly romantic, it is just right.  Time is against the couple as the time is coming for Sam to become a wolf again.  They struggle against nature to stay together.

This is the first in what is so far a trilogy.  I'm anxious to start reading Linger, the sequel.  While this is definitely a young adult book, I know a huge number of adults who enjoy books in this genre.  If you are one of those people, you won't be disappointed.  I thoroughly enjoyed the novel and highly recommend it. 

Friday, July 8, 2011

Matched by Ally Condie

I had high hopes for Matched, by Ally Condie.  For the most part, they were met.  It's a bit of a formula now with one girl torn between two guys.  Fortunately the plot is different enough for the story to be interesting.  The story takes place in a future where everything is controlled.  People are told what activities they can choose from, what job to take, what to eat and how much, what to wear, etc.  Any step out of line, and there are problems.  Even death is controlled

The story starts with Cassia attending her Matching Ceremony.  At this formal dinner, she finds out who she is to marry.  To her relief, she is to marry Xander, her best friend.  Due to a glitch in data, she finds herself wondering if she was actually supposed to be matched to Ky.  She finds herself drawn to him and he begins to challenge the life she knows. 

The story moves quickly but, like many young adult novels, it doesn't have a clear ending.  It's a good thing there is a sequel coming!  It's really getting frustrating!  I didn't love the book like I wanted to, but it certainly kept me reading.  It's a solid young adult novel.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

If You Were Here, by Jen Lancaster

For those who read my blog (anyone?), you'll know that I am a big fan of Jen's.  I'll read pretty much anything she writes, from her memoirs, to her blog, to her Twitter feed.  I jumped right into If You Were Here, right after it was released (I'm just late with the review).  This is Jen's first novel and it is just a ton of fun. 

Mac and Mia buy a house.  Not just any house, Jake Ryan's house.  If you are around my age and female, your heart gave a little thump at the mention of Jake's name.  Right?  Mac and Mia buy the house used in the movie Sixteen Candles.  Unfortunately the house has seen better days and can use some help.  It does have a panic room so that's a bonus.

The story is about a couple, a house, and their attempts to make it a home.  Anyone who has done construction on a home knows the things that can go wrong and in this book, it all goes wrong.  If You Were Here, is not a literary masterpiece but it's a hilarious look at real people and real situations.  It's typical Jen and if you love her, you'll love this.  It will make you laugh.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Behind the Gates, by Eva Gray

Behind the Gates, by Eva Gray, is the first in a new series for children, called Tomorrow Girls.  It looked interesting as it's a dystopian novel for kids, which as far as I know is fairly unique.  The young adult shelves are full of them but for ages eight - twelve, I don't see as many.

The story starts with Louisa and Maddie heading toward a special boarding school.  They anticipate freedom and activities, but they find that the school is very different than expected.  They are taught survival skills and have all of their electronics taken away.  Louisa loves it but Maddie wants to go home. 

The girls, along with some new friends, discover that things aren't quite what they seem and they begin to wonder about the school's intentions.  With the world at war, are they being taught survival for a reason?

The story ends just as the story gets going.  It will be interesting to continue the series eventually.  I enjoyed the book but was not blown away by it.  It will probably appeal more to its intended age group but I can see where kids might not be patient enough to wait for the second book.  It might be an idea to get the entire series!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Don't Breathe a Word by Jennifer McMahon

Don’t Breathe a Word, by Jennifer McMahon,  is a story that grips from the start.   The introduction of a missing child is one that strikes fear into anyone who has loved a child.  Lisa is missing and her brother, Sam, is just as much a victim.  He grew up always wondering what happened to Lisa, never knowing that the truth was very close.  

Phoebe, a broken woman herself, is in love with the now adult Sam.  They are planning a future together when Sam gets a call from someone who claims to be Lisa.  The story really gets going as deception and memories of literal fairy tales are brought to the forefront.

The novel is cleverly written.  We get to know Lisa and her story before she disappears.  She believes in fairies and her fairy king who will make her his queen.  Sam never does believe but when things start spiraling out of his control, he has to question the truth.   The twists and turns the story takes, kept me very interested and although the ending was disturbing, it made sense.  It’s definitely worth a read.

Monday, July 4, 2011

The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb by Melanie Benjamin

I have mixed feelings about The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb.  It’s the story of Mercy Lavinia Warren Bump Stratton, known to most as Vinnie or Mrs. Tom Thumb.  She was only thirty-two inches tall as an adult, having the condition known as proportionate dwarfism.  While Vinnie was in fact a real person, the story is a novel told from her perspective.

Vinnie’s small size does not mean she had a small personality.  Vinnie had plans to see the world and have everyone know her name.  When a “cousin” invites her to join his traveling show, she anticipates that she would be performing.  She had no idea her size was to be the show.  The story follows Vinnie’s life in show business, both at the beginning and later under contract with P.T. Barnum.  

I enjoyed the first part of the story a great deal.  I enjoyed Vinnie as a child and a young adult learning her way in a big world.  The story takes place in a fascinating time in history, so interesting that I found myself doing research into some of the people and places mentioned.   
I had trouble with the story when I started disliking Vinnie just a little bit.  Her marriage to Charles Stratton (General Tom Thumb) was never real to her and I felt that Vinnie became hard and cold after that.   Ms. Benjamin does an excellent job of story telling but I have to wonder if the real Vinnie was that hard or not.  I liked the innocent Vinnie a little bit more.   This is worth a read but I can't recommend it like I want to.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Night Road by Kristin Hannah

It’s been a long time since I’ve read a book by Kristin Hannah.  I remember being a fan back in the 90’s so I’m not sure why I stopped reading her books.  The interesting thing is that I’ve collected several of her books over the last couple of years and just haven’t read them.  I’ll have to remedy that because I’m still a fan.

Night Road has two narrators.  The first narrator is Jude, the mother of twins Mia and Zach.  She’s a very involved mother who defines herself by her children.  When senior year begins, she knows that she has to take control of her kids, making sure they apply to the right colleges and get good grades.  She hates that they want to go to parties and cautions them about driving drunk.  She reluctantly loosens the reigns but she hates every minute of it.  

The second narrator is Lexi.  She’s a teenager who moves in with her aunt after a string of foster homes.  Lexi meets Mia the first day of high school and the two become best friends.  She becomes a part of Mia’s family even though things change when she starts dating Zach.  One night, after a party, things change for everyone.  

While the novel was sad and tragic, there was always a bit of hope.  Ms. Hannah created three dimensional characters with lovely hopes and dreams.  The story read like a saga.  I knew something bad would happen but I was shocked at the ramifications from one event.  It’s a story that will suck you right in and leave you a little worn out at the end.  I highly recommend it.

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Sweetest Thing by Elizabeth Musser

The Sweetest Thing, by Elizabeth Musser, is a story of friendship despite differences. It’s a story about how a life of faith can be tested and how a tragic loss can change a life, sometimes for the better.

Perri is a daughter of privilege. She grew up in Atlanta, in a community more or less immune to the depression plaguing the nation. At least that’s what Perri thought. Mary Dobbs is a teenager who has watched her family struggle her entire life. As the daughter of a pastor, she fully believes that God provides, because she’s experienced it in her daily life.

When Dobbs moves in with her aunt in Atlanta it is to give her the chance for a different kind of life. She meets Perri and after a family tragedy, becomes the one friend that Perri can really count on. The two girls experience highs and lows with Perri slowly growing in her relationship with Christ at the same time Dobbs begins to lose her faith, when old family secrets are revealed.

One lesson to take away from this book is that even in the darkest times, one little bit of God’s love, no matter what form it takes, can pull you out. I recommend this story to anyone who needs a reminder of that.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarity

I thoroughly enjoyed What Alice Forgot, by Liane Moriarity. It is an extremely well written novel about getting second chances and a fresh perspective. The novel flowed easily, even with three different stories being told. The focus was on Alice but I was just as moved by Alice’s sister, Elisabeth, and her story.

The story is fairly simple. Alice hits her head during a spin class and when she comes to, she can’t remember the last ten years of her life. She believes she is pregnant with her first child while in fact she is a mother of three and is in the process of a messy divorce. The Alice who wakes up is very different from the Alice who went to the spin class that morning. She doesn’t remember her children and doesn’t know why she and her husband are separated.

What the author does so well, is make us, the readers, care for the “new” version of Alice. She’s naive and sweet. She is encouraging and not bitter. The “old” version was frazzled and angry. While she may have had her reasons, I couldn’t help but hope that she would never get her memory back. I’ll remember this story for many years and have already passed the book along to another friend. I’m sure she’ll love it too.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Distant Hours by Kate Morton

I almost gave up on The Distant Hours, by Kate Morton.  It was moving slowly, I just wasn’t in the mood, and the book was too long.  That’s what I thought anyway.  I’ll tell you upfront that I am totally happy that I kept with the book.  It is long, and it does move at a slow pace, but everything fits and the story is satisfyingly wrapped up in the end, with most of the mysteries being resolved.  

The story begins with Edie discovering a part of her mother’s life that she had never known.  As a young girl, Meridith was evacuated to the countryside during World War II.  During this time frame, she lived at Milderhurst Castle with the odd trio of Blythe sisters.  The novel jumps time frames, with the modern focusing on Edie discovering the secrets of the house, the sisters, and the mystery revolving around Mr. Blythe’s famous novel, “The True History of the Mud Man”.  The flashbacks to the past are narrated by Saffy Blythe, her twin sister Percy, and the young Juniper Blythe.  

The author does a wonderful job of making Milderhurst come alive, both during the war and in more modern days.  Each sister has their own dreams and secrets and yet you can feel the fierce protectiveness they have for each other and as a reader you know they would stick together, through anything.  When all is finally resolved, it all clicks and makes so much sense.  While parts are disturbing, and I may have a few nightmares about the Mud Man, I really feel that the story was completely satisfying.  I definitely recommend it, even if it takes you a while to read!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Max by James Patterson

I just love the characters in the "Bird Kid" series by James Patterson.  Loving the characters does not mean that I love the books.  This is written with a big sigh.  The first couple of books in the series were good.  They kept my interest but the last few have really gone downhill.  The stories are more frantic, the dialogue is affected, and the plots are dull.  I can't even tell you much about the plot.  I am also pretty sure that I've written the same type of review for the last book in the series. 

Can I recommend the series?  Yes, to young teens or fans of the characters.  The are the only think keeping me reading.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

Here’s a book that’s been around a while.  The Handmaid’s Tale was published in 1985 and I’ve been encouraged to read it several times.  Now that I’ve read it, I’m not all that sure what to think.  I did enjoy the book and I do think it was worth reading, it was just not quite what I expected.  I knew the basics of the plot but I didn’t know anything about the writing style.  Of course, it’s hard to anticipate a writing style for an author you’ve never read.  Even so, I was surprised.

The story is about Offred, a handmaid who’s sole purpose is to bear a child for the Commander and his wife.  She once lived a normal life and was married with a little girl.  When the world changed, politics changed, and the rules changed. She was separated from her husband and daughter, forced to enter the life of a handmaid.  Everything was controlled for her, she had no real freedom.  

While I enjoyed the story, I don’t know that I’d recommend it widely.  I’ve read a great deal of dystopian novels lately and I do think that the Handmaid’s Tale may have influenced several of them.  That being said, it’s a difficult story to read because we never truly get into the soul of Offred, not even enough to know her real name.  While I was able to form an image of her before everything changed, it didn’t always translate to the quiet woman that did her duty month after month.  Only towards the end when she was taking a few risks, did I feel like she was a whole person.  The bottom line is that the story is beautifully written and very thought provoking.  It’s worth reading if you haven’t already. 

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Beach House by James Patterson

The Beach House, by James Patterson, is one of his stand-alone novels that are not a part of any series.  I expected it to be a quick read, like many of his books are, and I was right.  It was quick and somewhat pointless.

Honestly?  I didn’t love the book at all.  I thought the premise was good but the end was pretty ridiculous.  Essentially the story is about a young lawyer trying to find out who killed his younger brother.  He goes to some pretty extreme measures to accomplish this task.  

I complain a good deal about Patterson’s books and yet I do continue to read them.  They are rarely satisfying and yet they keep me occupied when I need something quick to read.  If you are a fan, you might as well read it.  If you haven’t read his books, I wouldn’t start with this one.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan

The Dark and Hollow Places is the third book in a trilogy by Carrie Ryan.  The first book is The Forest of Hands and Teeth.  It’s a fantastic book and I highly recommend it.  The sequel, The Dead Tossed Waves, did not disappoint either and I’ve been anxiously awaiting the third book.  It was worth the wait.

The Dark and Hollow Places takes place pretty soon after the end of The Dead Tossed Waves.  The narrator is Annah, Gabry’s twin sister.  Annah is living in the Dark City by herself, waiting for Elias to return.   While trying to leave the Dark City to make her way back to the forest, in the hopes of finding her sister again, she sees Abigail (now Gabry) passing the other direction.  Annah fights her way back to the city and meets Catcher as well as eventually reuniting with both Elias and Gabry.  The four have to find a way to escape what is left of the Dark City while avoiding both the recruiters and the unconsecrated.  

A good deal of the first two books involve characters trying to make their way through the forest.  I kind of missed that in this book but subway tunnels took the place of the forest paths.  Like the two previous novels, the story moves along at a fast pace and it’s easy to get caught up and sucked in.  I love Ms. Ryan’s writing style and her characters.  There’s always an aspect of hope, despite a hopeless situation.  I know this was supposed to be a three-book series but I wouldn’t complain if there were another!  Or two or three.  I really enjoyed the entire series and I highly recommend all three.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Tail of Emily Windsnap by Liz Kessler

This is another one of those books that I kept seeing over and over but never read.  Maybe it’s because the cover is pretty and that attracted me!  I’m not sure it was one hundred percent worth the wait.  The book is aimed at pre-teens and I think that if I were a ten year old girl, I’d be obsessed with the book and the series.  As I am not a ten year old (although I still act like it occasionally), I found the book to be entertaining but it lacked something.  

The story is about Emily, a twelve year old who lives on a boat with her mother.  Her mother is terrified of water and has never let Emily learn how to swim.  When her school provides swimming lessons, her mother gives in.  Emily is a natural in the water and for good reason.  She’s part mermaid.  The rest of the book follows Emily’s quest to find her father and figure out why her mother can’t remember a thing about him.  

I can’t put my finger on what was missing.  The character of Emily was great, she had a lot of personality.  I’m not sure if it was just too simple for me or what I was looking/hoping for.  Eventually I may get to the rest of the series but not right away.  I am curious as to the island they were referring to.  I would recommend it to girls in the appropriate age range.  I can see my nieces enjoying it when they are older.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Gone With a Handsomer Man by Michael Lee West

Gone With a Handsomer Man, by Michael Lee West is a clever and witty mystery romance.  I found it to be a fun read.  I'm not good with mysteries though so I did peak ahead to see the culprit!

The story is about Teeny Templeton, an amateur baker who is engaged to a wealthy Lothario.  When she comes home to find him playing naked badminton with a couple of women, she gets angry and starts throwing peaches.  This is where the story spirals, with her having to move out, try to regain custody of her dog, and eventually solve a mystery.  She also meets a handsomer man from her past who helps her to get over Bing. 

The writing is very clever with some great lines that I shared with my mother on several occasions.  The story moves fairly quickly and the dialogue is snappy.  It might be a little too snappy and clever at times, but it all worked, especially set in the city of Charleston.  While the story resolved itself, there was a definite cliff-hanger so I can only assume there will be a sequel.  I hope. 

Sunday, March 13, 2011

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

I’ve been hearing about the Mortal Instruments series for a long time but never really thought it would interest me.  It turns out that I did enjoy the first book in the series but I’m not really sure why.  The story was fairly predictable and yet I found myself wanting to know what happened next.  

Clary is a fifteen year old who begins seeing people that nobody else can see.  When her mother disappears she relies on Jace, a mysterious shadowhunter (demon slayer) to help her find her mother.  Clary learns some truths about who she is and the life she came from.   

The characters were great, I will say that.  They will keep me reading the series.  I confess to not being a fan of big mythology type books.  I felt that parts of the stories were very similar to other books and movies that I’ve enjoyed, specifically Star Wars.  In the end, I can recommend it for great characters and a well paced story.  It’s not the greatest book I’ve ever read but I still had fun reading it.

Monday, February 28, 2011

The 5th Horseman by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro

I have mixed feelings about James Patterson's books.  I know he writes with a co-author and I know that some of his books - specifically his novels for teens - can be quite silly.  That being said, I do enjoy some of his books and his Women's Murder Club series is one that I do like. 

The 5th Horseman is the fifth book in the series.  It starts out with Lindsey Boxer, the usual narrator, on the job as lieutenant on the police force.  She's investigating a series of murders where the victims are left in cars for anyone to find.  It was very disturbing.  I had to put the book down a few times. 

The other storyline involves a hospital where healthy patients with non-life threatening conditions or injuries are dying, usually by an "accidental" mix up with medications.  Yuki's mother is taken to that hospital and the story takes off from there.

I feel like this is a solid addition to the series although there wasn't anything that moved the series along.  Nothing much changed with the women, with the exception of Yuki.  If you've been reading the series, you should continue.  The authors tells a good story.  If you haven't read the series, go on back to 1st to Die.  They are quick reads and you'll get an idea of whether or not the series is for you. 

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Wither by Lauren DeStefano

Wither, by Lauren DeStefano, is one of those books that caught me from the start.  The concept alone was very interesting.  I seem to be attracted to books that disgust me with the general idea and then intrigue me the rest of the way through. 

The novel focuses on Rhine.  She's a teenager living in a futuristic America where an overload of genetic testing has caused the downfall of society.  In this future, men don't live beyond the age of twenty-five and women die at age twenty.  The desire to continue the population leads to kidnapping and polygamy.  Rhine is sixteen years old when she is kidnapped and taken to a grand mansion in Florida.  While she bonds with her sister wives and a servant named Gabriel, she longs for escape and finding her brother.

One of the things that really struck me about the book is that Lindon, the young groom, is as much a victim as the girls in many ways.  His first wife has died and he's controlled by his father.   While I like the blooming relationship between Rhine and Gabriel, I think that Rhine actually has an affection for her husband, even if it isn't love.

I really enjoyed the story and although it didn't end - a pet peeve of mine - it's the first in a planned trilogy so hopefully I'll find out what happened!  The characters were well formed and the setting was described in such a way that I can completely see the mansion in my head.  There are plenty of dystopian novels out there right now and this is a good one.  Enjoy it!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

What Are You Reading Wednesday - Feb 16 Edition

Behind on my blog again.  Drat.  So frustrating! I promise to catch up on reviews as quickly as I can. 

As for what I'm reading. . .

I am still reading The Distant Hours!  I can't believe it either.  I like the story and the characters but the pace is so plodding.  I've had to demote it to my bedtime book because I just can't read more than a chapter at a time without getting a bit bored.  I hate to admit that.  I will get through it.  It's just going to take me a while.

Because I like to make progress, I've started reading City of Bones by Cassandra Clare.  It's very different but it's also very interesting and it moves along.

So what are you reading?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What are You Reading Wednesday - Jan 26


I hate it when I finish a good book and then have to start a new one with new characters and a new style.  It's frustrating to leave characters I care about. 

But. . . I have three books started.

I started reading 5th Horseman, by James Patterson, last week as my "bedtime" book but I have decided that I can't read about murder before going to bed.  Not a good fit. 

So last night I started reading Coraline, by Neil Gaiman, before bed and it's kind of disturbing too.  I think it should be all right.  I've seen the movie (didn't love it) and I'm familiar with the story.

And that brings me to my "main" book which is The Distant Hours by Kate Morton.  Right now I'm slightly intimidated by it's size but so far, I'm enjoying her writing.  It might take me a while to finish but I'll get it done. 

The question is, which will I finish first?  Coraline is pretty short but I don't always read for very long at night.  Still, I should get that finished pretty quickly.  I'm going to shelve 5th Horseman for a little bit just because I can't read it at night and The Distant Hours will take a while.  Time will tell.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Teaser Tuesdays - January 25

I haven't done a Teaser Tuesday for a while but I want to get back in the habit!

Today's teaser comes from Wither by Lauren DeStefano. 

Rhine is a young woman who was kidnapped and sold as a bride.  The story takes place in a dystopian future where lifespans are dangerously short and the way of doing everything has changed. 

From page 87:

I hesitate, unsure if I can trust her with my plan to earn Linden's trust and escape.  She seems resigned to rotting in this mansion, but maybe it never crossed  her mind that there could be a way out.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Across the Universe by Beth Revis

Across the Universe, by Beth Revis, is a completely satisfying book.  I say that because the story was neatly wound up and questions were answered.  One of my pet peeves lately is with books that don't really have a conclusion.  I get irritated with books that plan for sequels and don't really end.  It leaves me feeling very unsatisfied and let down.  Fortunately Across the Universe didn't do that.

Before I started reading, I imagined this book was about a teen romance set on a space ship.  I was really wrong.  Yes, the story took place on a ship in outer space and there was a touch of romance, but it wasn't the focus of the story at all. 

Amy is a teenager who has chosen to accompany her parents on a mission to colonize another planet.  She is cryogenically frozen and placed on a ship bound for the planet.  The trip is set to take three hundred years.  When she is unfrozen fifty years too early, she must cope with life on a ship where she is a stranger.  The people who were born and raised on the ship are very different, mono-ethnic and all look very similar.  She stands out with her red hair and pale skin. 

Elder is a sixteen year old boy who is the future leader of the ship.  He will replace Eldest, the current leader and his teacher.  Elder is intrigued with Amy and her tales of Earth.  With new information he begins to question the system of control that Eldest is using on the residents of the ship. 

This book is full of mystery, conspiracy and secrets.  I think the author did a fabulous job making sure that questions were answered and things made sense.  When the story came to it's conclusion, I felt that I knew everything I wanted to know - except what happens next!  The story did end and I don't know if a sequel is planned, but I would read it.  I encourage anyone to read this, don't be afraid of the science fiction element because it's not really a sci-fi book.  It's more of a dystopian world - that takes place on a space ship. 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Visions of Sugar Plums by Janet Evanovich

Visions of Sugarplums is a "between the numbers" edition of Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series.  This story takes place between books 8 and 9.  I was actually surprised that it advanced the series as I thought it was going to be more of a stand alone book. 

Stephanie wakes up one morning to find a strange man in her living room.  Fortunately, this is not an unusual situation for her.  She tends to have that problem regularly.  Diesel is something not quite human and that puts Stephanie more on guard than normal.  Stephanie's current case is to find a man named Sandy Claws (appropriate at Christmastime) and Diesel is trying to find him as well.

The story moves right along as the paperback is only around 160 pages.  There are a few developments regarding Stephanie's family but nothing much changes in her very mixed up love life. 

These books are all on the light and fun side which is a nice thing to read when life gets a little heavy. 

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Hard Eight by Janet Evanovich

Hard Eight, by Janet Evanovich, is the eighth book in the Stephanie Plum series.  I've grown terribly fond of the characters after reading eight novels.  The books are easy to pick up and jump right in because I know what I'm getting into.  It's like going to a party where you know everyone!  No awkward moments. Some books in the series are pretty light and don't have much substance but I didn't find that with Hard Eight.

Hard Eight is one of the few books in the series where I really felt that Stephanie was in big trouble.  Stephanie started off trying to find a mother who had disappeared with her young daughter.  In the process she angered a very bad "business" man who made it his job to terrorize her.  And he terrorized her in some severely creepy ways.  There was also the very needed humor -especially with the introduction of Albert Kloughn.  Such a needy little guy!

Throughout the story, I was completely drawn in to see what was going to happen to Stephanie next.  It was actually pretty dark and scary.  This is definitely one of the better books in the series as far as suspense goes.  I really enjoyed it and look forward to continuing the series.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

What Are You Reading Wednesday - Jan 12

This week I am reading Across the Universe by Beth Revis.  It's a love story set in space. Or I assume it's a love story!  I'm only about seventy pages in.  I'm actually quite attached to the story already and I am really looking forward to getting back to my book!  I love being excited about what I'm reading!

Tonight I'm going to start reading Visions of Sugar Plums by Janet Evanovich.  I've found that reading lighter books before bed is a good thing for my brain.  I'm familiar with the characters and it's like hanging out with friends before I go to sleep. 

So my Lunchtime Book is Across the Universe and my Bedtime Book is Visions of Sugar Plums

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens

The Emerald Atlas, by John Stephens, is a bit of fantasy and adventure with a large dose of reality.  Kate, Michael, and Emma are siblings who were taken from their parents one Christmas Eve and begin a life of moving from orphanage to orphanage.  Kate, the eldest is the one with the memories of her parents and knows that they loved her very much.  She and her siblings continue the hope that somehow their parents will find them or come back for them. 

When they end up in Cambridge Falls at an orphanage where they are the only children, strange things begin to happen.  They find a book that takes them back in time and their adventure really gets going at that point. They find an evil witch, a kind wizard, an army of odd zombie like creatures, and some kind people who are willing to help them. 

I did enjoy the story.  The first one hundred pages or so were a bit slow going as the stage was set for the adventure.  There were moments where I doubted I would have much good to say about it, but that didn't last. Once the children went back in time, the story became fun and quite intriguing.  It was interesting to try to figure out the what and the why of things, how time travel worked, the history of the book, and the secret to why the children were taken from loving parents.  The character were wonderful.  King Hamish's tantrums made me laugh and the bravery of Gabriel nearly had me in tears.  I feel that Mr. Stephens wrote a rich, interesting book and I look forward to the future sequels.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

What Are You Reading Wednesday - Jan 5

So I decided to create my own Wednesday series where I'll write about what I'm reading and how it's going.  I apologize if other blogs are doing a meme similar to this.  This is more for me as I have very slim readership!  I'm beginning to think that I'm just doing this blog for my own personal reading record.  If so, that's fine.  I'm still doing something.

So. . . What Are You Reading Wednesday begins!  (I've got to come up with a graphic!)

This week I am *still* plugging away at The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens.  It was an ARC that I received from the publisher and I know there is a lot of hype about this book.  So far it's not blowing me away, but it's still keeping me interested.  My lack of reading time and my distraction with Angry Birds on my iPhone have kept me from finishing the book.  I'm over halfway through at this point.  I hope to have it finished this weekend.  I'm traveling this weekend which usually means a lot of time to read in the car.

I'm also reading - barely started actually - Hard Eight by Janet Evanovich.  It's the 8th (duh) book in the Stephanie Plum series.  I can't say much as I think I'm on page 16.  It's my bedtime book but I've been so tired at night that I just haven't been able to read much.  There's a good chance I'll have that finished this weekend too!  Let's hope that by next Wednesday I will have two new books going!  

Monday, January 3, 2011

Goals for 2011

It's time to clean up this blog and get rid of most of the challenge lists.  I'm not doing any formal challenges this year.  This year I hope to clean out my bookshelves.  They are sagging.  I know myself well enough to know that I will always have full shelves, but I would like to get to the point where my shelves are full but the extra piles are gone.

I'm hoping to accomplish that by reading at least 50 books this year and twenty-five of those (hopefully more) must have been on my shelves or piles or Kindle when the clock struck midnight on Jan 1, 2011.  That of course meant I needed a new spreadsheet to keep track of what I acquire during the year.  I just love spreadsheets.  There is already one book on it as I downloaded a free book to my Kindle on Saturday.

Now as for the Kindle?  Out of those 25 books, only five of them can be from my Kindle.  That doesn't help me clean off my shelves, and that's the purpose of this challenge.

This led me to think about where I get my books.  Why do I have so many?  I read 65 books this year and only about a dozen of those were read on my Kindle.  Yet my shelves are still full.

I get about a dozen advanced readers copies of books from various publishers.  They all get read in the timeliest manner I can manage so they really don't sit on my shelf for very long.

I buy about a dozen actual- paper not digital - books a year from various stores.  Usually these are books from authors I love and am chomping at the bit to get my hands on the book.  I typically read those quickly as well.

The biggest chunk comes from the library book sales.  It's easy to buy a book when it only costs 50 cents.  It's not so easy to get it read when there are so many other books to read.   I average eight books a sale so that means I'm buying at least forty-eight books a year and those are usually the lowest priority.  That's where I need to think and cut back.  Those sales are sagging my shelves.  I'll still go but I'm going to take a little more time. 

So that's where I stand.  I hope 2011 is an awesome year!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Books Read in 2011!!!


1. The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens
2. Hard Eight by Janet Evanovich
3. Visions of Sugarplums by Janet Evanovich
4. Across the Universe by Beth Rivas
5. Wither by Lauren DeStefano


6. The 5th Horseman by James Patterson
7.  City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
8.  The Tail of Emily Windsnap by Liz Kessler


9.  Max by James Patterson
10.  Motor Mouth by Janet Evanovich
11.  Don't Breathe a Word by Jennifer McMahon
12.  The Beach House by James Patterson
13.  Gone with a Handsomer Man by Michael Lee West


14.  The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan
15.  The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
16.  The Distant Hours by Kate Morton
17.  The Sweetest Thing by Elizabeth Musser


18. Behind the Gates by Eva Gray
19.  Night Road by Kristin Hannah
20.  If You Were Here by Jen Lancaster
21.  What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarity
22.  Matched by Ally Condie
23.  Just Listen by Sarah Dessen


24. Airhead by Meg Cabot
25.  Being Nikki by Meg Cabot
26.  Runaway by Meg Cabot
27.  Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
28.  The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb by Melanie Benjamin
29.  Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton
30.  Honeymoon by James Patterson.


31.  Sisterchicks in Wooden Shoes by Robin Jones Gunn
32.  Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
33.  To the Nines by Janet Evanovich
34.  Linger by Maggie Stiefvater
35.  Forever by Maggie Stiefvater


36.  The Probability of Miracles by Wendy Wunder
37.  Joy School by Elizabeth Berg
38.  Prophecy - The Fulfillment by Deborah A. Jaeger
39.  The Bright Side of Disaster by Katherine Center


40.  The Book of Tomorrow by Cecelia Ahern
41.  That Summer by Sarah Dessen
42.  The Search by Nora Roberts
43.  Deeply Desperately by Heather Webber


44.  The Sixth Target by James Patterson
45.  Shanghai Girls by Lisa See
46.  Seriously I'm Kidding by Ellen DeGeneres
47.  So Many Books So Little Time by Sara Nelson
48.  Now You See Her by James Patterson
49.  7th Heaven by James Patterson


50.  The Mist by Stephen King
51.  The 8th Confession by James Patterson
52.  The 9th Judgment by James Patterson
53.  The 10th Anniversary by James Patterson
54.  The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett (Audio Book)
55.  Coming Home by Mariah Stewart
56.  Frankenstein by Mary Shelley


57.  The Next Always by Nora Roberts
58.  The Christmas Wedding by James Patterson
59.  Twas the Night by Sandra Hill, Trish Jensen, and Kate Holmes