Friday, April 30, 2010
Thursday, April 29, 2010
A tangled ball of emotion is how I would describe my feelings after reading Hate List.
Immediately the opening catch with a news headline sucked me into this novel. Told completely through Valerie’s perspective the reader go’s through Valerie’s aftermath. The shooting which is the cause of the story is not so much the story. The gripping aspect of the novel is trudging through the emotions of the after.
Picture a knitting ball with all its many colors all twinned together like a knot- that would be Valerie and my emotions reading this as I went from shock to anger, sadness to frustrated, hopeful to anxious and back to anger again over and over as Valerie feels these things. Shock because she never saw the shooting coming, angry because people think she was a part of it. The majority of what Valerie deals with is depression and sadness. On one hand she’s suppose to be angry with Nick for what he did, but it’s the loss of him that haunts her more.
After healing from being shot in the leg, Valerie goes back to school -unbelievable- I mean the courage to do that was amazing. Sitting in class with her that first day, I could feel the anxiety leaking off the pages from the teachers to the students to the horrendous lunch period. I didn’t know if she was going to make it through that first day or make it out a better person with all the turmoil going on at home. Her whole family is twisted with feelings they can’t handle, at points in the novel I was so raw with Valerie and just as I would see her progress, one of her parents or a teacher would say something so hurtful to knock her down again. Nothing is harder than trying to overcome when everyone who is supposed to love you keeps beating you down.
Reading this I thought it would be hard to feel any connection to Nick and needless to say I never felt sorry for Nick or connected to his reasons or behavior. What I was able to connect emotionally with was Valerie’s grief over losing someone she loved. That key point is what I found pivotal in Browns writing, although the event was inexcusable, someone loved the shooter and made me as a reader realize that ultimately his life was lost too.
Compelling and thought provoking. Hate List deals with violence, school shootings, murder, bullying, depression, suicide and grief. Contains language and mild sexuality. Recommended for mature teens and adults.
4/5- YA, Shooting-Bullies-Death
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
The Dark Divine by Bree Despain
December 2009 by Egmont USA
Hardcover, 372 pages
Hardcover, 372 pages
Book Synopsis (Taken from GoodReads)
Grace Divine, daughter of the local pastor, always knew something terrible happened the night Daniel Kalbi disappeared—the night she found her brother Jude collapsed on the porch, covered in blood. But she has no idea what a truly monstrous secret that night really held. And when Daniel returns three years later, Grace can no longer deny her attraction to him, despite promising Jude she’ll stay away. As Grace gets closer to Daniel, her actions stir the ancient evil Daniel unleashed that horrific night. Grace must discover the truth behind Jude and Daniel's dark secret . . . and the cure that can save the ones she loves. But she may have to lay down the ultimate sacrifice to do it—her soul.
Luckily for me I didn't read any reviews on this book that spoiled the big secret, I curled up opened The Dark Divine and didn't stop until every word was devoured.......With an amazing cast of characters and elegant writing I found myself just like Grace to Daniel unable to resist the delicious story in front of me.
Three years ago, Daniel disappeared. Leaving behind secrets, questions and a broken brother. Nobody will talk about it and Grace has never known why or what happened. Then like a winter breeze that rips through a fall day unexpected- Daniel reenters Grace’s life. Feelings Grace thought were childhood whimsy’s come back full force, only much stronger. Grace without the support of her family wants to help Daniel, she can’t resist the irresistible pull inside her to be with him…………
Daniel is immediately a mystery to Grace and to the reader, he teeters on the edge of -is he or isn’t he- the bad guy through most of the duration of the book, making for a very a fun mystery. Although Daniel is cloaked in dark, I couldn’t help liking him- bad guy or not his character defiantly has appeal.
Grace to the reader is not a mystery- she is a strong character who thinks things through before she makes a decision. Grace’s maturity is almost surprising, not the simple YA girl- ready to toss everything aside for a boy she hardly knows- wise for her age but not enough that a teen reading this can’t relate to her.
The secondary characters fit perfectly in this story. Jude as the over protective brother, Grace’s best friend (who really becomes a ninny when she starts dating Jude) and Pete who plays the part of boy interested in Grace to bring some drama. As the truth is slowly revealed to Grace concerning all the individuals in her life and as she gets closer to Daniel, more complications rise. Finally Grace is forced down to a choice….her family….or first love….
So many times in YA or any type of fiction the Christians are labeled the Harry Potter book burning people. I loved that Despain used a family who were religious and casted them in a positive light. I also loved that although the book is centered on two young main characters, the sense of responsible adults and a strong family unit are showcased- because there is such a thing as parents who love their kids and are looking out for them.
The Dark Divine is filled with mystery, romance, action and thrilling twists that will keep you reading way into the night. No language, sexuality is very mild and frightening elements surround mystery and suspense. Suitable for teens and adults alike.
5/5 - YA, Paranormal Romance
Monday, April 26, 2010
Hardcover, 193 pages
Then he meets Aurora. The hooks don’t scare her. They don’t keep her away. In fact, they don’t make any difference at all to her. But to Lucius, they mean everything. They remind him of the beast he is inside. Perhaps Aurora is his Beauty, destined to set his soul free from its suffering. Or maybe she’s just a girl who needs love just like he does. (GoodReads)
When I looked into those topaz eyes, I did feel like I knew him, at least briefly. But that's still not the scary part; I see that now. The scary part is that moment, it was like he knew me......
pg. 28 (The first meeting...)
Beauty and The Beast is by far my favorite fairy tale of all time. So needless to say I know my beasts and I know my beauties. While Aurora and Lucius certainly had aspects of the characters, Aurora with goodness and Lucius with his flawed character before the beastly transformation and his changing heart after beauty walks in- something felt lacking.
I’m not saying I didn’t like this but I didn’t love it. The writing flowed very well, the main characters perspective alternate between chapters in the first person, giving the reader both sides of the story. Some scenes are the characters alone, but we get to read what each person is thinking and feeling. If your familiar with the original fairy tale, its suppose to be dark, dramatic and tender all wrapped in one. Lucius at points in the story defiantly had a darker undertone, but most of his personality was sarcastic, I think there’s a huge difference between sarcasm and darkness. Beauty helps pull beast out of this darkness whereas Lucius basically pulls himself out. Another aspect of Lucius was underdevelopment. His character was likeable but there was so much more I wanted to know. Exactly why (explosion aside) did he blow his arms off- what lead him to these actions- what was in his heart to take him down this journey?
The story had the potential to be great; it had the plot (the background leading up to the explosion, the whole Gallowglass concept, the death of Aurora’s mother) and makings to get deep, gritty and powerful. Baratz-Logsted had some beautiful, awesomely flawed characters to make this an intense read....but it was presented as a fast YA novel consumable to the masses. So take Crazy-Beautiful for what it is- a few hours of a watered down fairy tale, a lot of laughs and a few tender hearted moments. Teen romance yes...contemporary retelling of Beauty and the Beast...absolutely not.
Language if any was very minimal, violence, a little bit of kissing and a chapter on male masturbation. Recommended for 14 and up.
3.5/5- YA, Romance
Saturday, April 24, 2010
Jill at Random Ramblings fun meme "Top Ten Picks" topic of the week is "Worst Books You've Ever Read.". Now my top ten may not signify poor writing- but for sure will signify destructive books that I read during college and at a time when I was researching world religions.
Friday, April 23, 2010
Recommend Me is a weekly event hosted by the savvilicious Kate at The Neverending Shelf-- in which participants will pick one of their all time favorite reads to share. This could be a book that your read yesterday or years ago.Post your review, thoughts links...what have you..... .
This Week I Recommend
April and Oliver by Tess Callahan
Best friends since childhood, the sexual tension between April and Oliver has always been palpable. Years after being completely inseparable, they become strangers, but the wildly different paths of their lives cross once again with the sudden death of April's brother. Oliver, the responsible, newly engaged law student finds himself drawn more than ever to the reckless, mystifying April - and cracks begin to appear in his carefully constructed life. Even as Oliver attempts to "save" his childhood friend from her grief, her menacing boyfriend and herself, it soon becomes apparent that Oliver has some secrets of his own--secrets he hasn't shared with anyone, even his fiancé. But April knows, and her reappearance in his life derails him. Is it really April's life that is unraveling, or is it his own? The answer awaits at the end of a downward spiral...towards salvation. (Shelfari)
The cover of this novel drew me in at first, It looks peaceful right...? Peaceful is not a word I would use to describe Callahan’s debut novel. Sad and compelling are words I would use- I enjoyed reading this, April and Oliver's journey is a sensitive and emotional account of two people in love at the wrong time with all the odds stacked against them. This is for sure not a love story of happy butterflies and twirling on the hilltop. The relationship although laced with tension, makes for a great story that will frustrate you to the point of "just be together already" moments and also may give you a creepy feeling seeing how April and Oliver were raised as family. It’s sure to engage, tick you off and may even bring a tear to your eye with its bitter- sweetness.................Read my full Review here!
Thursday, April 22, 2010
March 2010 by Random House/Alfred A. Knopf BFYR
Paperback ARC- 282 pages
Sixteen-Year-Old Jace Witherspoon arrives at the doorstep of his estranged brother Christian with a re-landscaped face (courtesy of his father’s fist), $3.84, and a secret. He tries to move on, going for new friends, a new school, and a new job, but all his changes can’t make him forget what he left behind—his mother, who is still trapped with his dad, and his ex-girlfriend, who is keeping his secret. At least so far. Worst of all, Jace realizes that if he really wants to move forward, he may first have to do what scares him most: He may have to go back. First-time novelist Swati Avasthi has created a riveting and remarkably nuanced portrait of what happens after. After you’ve said enough, after you’ve run, after you’ve made the split — how do you begin to live again? (GoodReads)
Count to ten and visualize. One, two, three….my dad would have the table overturned by now. Four, five, six…….twisting an arm behind her back………………………seven, eight, nine…..Counting is not working, and I have a feeling these are the wrong visualizations.
Pg. 77 (Jace trying to control his anger)
He hits her she cleans. He shoves her down and stomps on her, boot marks imprinted on the small of her back, she scrubs the floors. He rapes her; she gets out the Q-tips to bleach the grout.
You would think Jace had it all. Good looks, popularity, wealth and everything needed to fit into the social standards coming from an influential family. Only Jace has been harboring a terrible secret, a secret that slowly like toxic mold begins to spread in every corner of his life.
Ever since Jace can remember his father has beaten his mother. When he was very young the beatings his mother endured silently began to transfer to his older brother Christian. A brother that stood in front of his mother to take the hit, a brother who provoked a father to protect the rest of the family, a brother who years back- ran away from the brutality of his father’s fists. Always the silent witness to his father’s evil, one quiet evening after seeing Q-tips on the counter, (a sight that signified rape for his mother) Jace finally strikes back and hits his father in the face, this lands him a beating and a one way ticket out the front door.
Alone and scared Jace’s only option is find his brother Christian and hope that he lets him in. When Christian sees Jace it comes with shock and hesitation, but he does let Jace move in and together they work through the garbage left in their hearts from a father who long ago created a cycle of pain and evil that either one has managed to shake off. The brothers, who are not close,come to realize that their father’s abuse has left different taints in both of them. Christian who protects himself and shuts down and Jace whose anger is so out of control he envisions hitting and choking and even at some points does just that.
As we the readers reflect back with Jace on past memories, we see the awful abuse the family went through. One particular scene “the garage incident” was so frightening I literally felt trapped with them as that garage door went down. Avasthi's writing practically pulls you into the pages and as connections to the past help us see where Jace is coming from, and why at the same time you can’t stand what he is becoming- you understand why he is. The odds are entirely against him, but the story doesn’t leave us without hope- we see strength and normalcy represented in healing characters and we see that there is survival after the snare of domestic abuse- that one who was lost can break the cycle and move forward.
Swati Avasthi has written a profound debut novel, raw with emotion and a stomach clinching page turner that tosses the reader about with frustration, horror and hope. If anyone has ever grown up with abuse or has been a part of a family with abuse this book although fiction can really strike close to home.
Not for the faint of heart, Split is very violent and contains graphic language, graphic sexuality, abuse and abandonment. Recommended for the mature teen (11th grade and up) and adult.
4.5/5 – YA, Abuse, Domestic Violence
Review Copy Provided by Around the World/ Princess Bookie Tours
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Waiting on Wednesday hosted by Breaking the Spine spotlights upcoming novels we just can't wait for! This week I'm excited for...
When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London's Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, keep order amidst the chaos. Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, members of a secret organization called The Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform, at will, into another person. What's more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa's power for his own. Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters of the London Institute, who swear to find her brother if she will use her power to help them. She soon finds herself fascinated by—and torn between—two best friends: Jem, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arm's length...everyone, that is, but Tessa. As their search draws them deep into the heart of an arcane plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world...and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all....................................(Goodreads)
Cassandra Clare's novels beg for a rainy day, so you have an excuse to do nothing while reading them.....I cannot wait to dive into this one!!!!!!!!!!!
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Embers by Laura Bickle
March 2010 by Juno-Pocket Books
Paperback- 359 pages
Purchased/ Blog with Bite Selection
Truth burns. Unemployment, despair, anger—visible and invisible unrest feed the undercurrent of Detroit’s unease. Homes and businesses are increasingly invaded by phantoms and now, with the annual destruction of Devil’s Night approaching, a supernatural arsonist is setting blazes to summon a fiery ancient power that will leave the city in ashes. Anya ( an arson investigator and psychic) must capture the arsonist before Devil’s Night. (Goodreads)
Beginning Laura Bickle’s debut novel came with some hesitation for me, and only because this area of the PNR world is much darker than the ~emo~ Vamps or the in touch with their feeling’s werewolves or even the sparkly dancing faeries I love so much. Bickle’s words are for sure attention grabbing- immediately the reader is pulled into a situation of gloom and darkness, with a very weary and tired protagonist, from the first page you can sense that Anya is stressed and tired. Also within the first few pages we meet the gang of ghost hunters Anya works with and Sparky a torque necklace that comes to life as a salamander spirit and helps Anya defeat an evil spirit living in an old soda machine.
After reading through a few more chapters I honestly felt it was time to put the book down. Those of you who follow the Blog with Bite should know I’m defiantly the more cautious reader when it comes to demons. I can handle fantasy and magic and pretty much anything on the scary side when it comes to mythical creatures……but when we start getting into demon possession and taking spirits into yourself, that’s where my red flags come up. As a person who enjoys the paranormal and fantasy realm my lines have many gray areas. The one area for me that’s completely black and white is handling subjects like witches, mediums, demons and occult like activity teetering on the edge of Satanism.
Familiar Spirit: The word familiar is from the Latin familiaris, meaning a "household servant," and is intended to express the idea that sorcerers had spirits as their servants ready to obey their commands. Those attempting to contact the dead, even to this day, usually have some sort of spirit guide who communicates with them. These are familiar spirits. ( Source)
In other words Sparky represents a demon and no offense to Ms. Bickle’s novel -but Sparky and I were not going to get on a familiar basis. Nor were me and Anya going to be pals for a few hours while she sucked demons into her body.
So to be fair- because I did not finish this book, I cannot give it a rating or opinion on the writing technique.
What I can tell you is I don’t recommend this for anyone who is cautious of demonic novels.
DNF- PNR, Demons, Arson, Ghosts
BWB Discussion Questions
1.So if you had the chance would you have a pet elemental, even with the inconvenience of broken microwaves? NO---I will live demon free thanks.
2.What did you think about the relationship between, Brian, Anya and Drake?
N/A --I didn't read enough to answer this question
3.Did the book make you want to visit Detroit or steer clear?
I don't have to read this book to stay clear of Detroit......have you ever driven through a rough part of that city.....scary.......
4.A big part of Embers surrounds paranormal activity and the whole Scooby style system....What do you think of shows like Ghost Hunter, Paranormal State and the such? I think they are a crock...frankly it all just seems fake, if you've ever been a witness to real "paranormal activity" it doesn't look anything like those shows.
5.Do you believe in the paranormal world around us or chalk it up to complete fantasy and make believe? I believe demons and angels are real, as well as believing that God is real. I think vampires, werewolves, faeries, goblins, ghosts, greek gods and what not are all myths.
Monday, April 19, 2010
Escape by Carolyn Jessop
October 2007 by Broadway Books
Hardcover, 413 pages
The dramatic first-person account of life inside an ultra-fundamentalist American religious sect, and one woman’s courageous flight to freedom with her eight children. (GoodReads)
How does one write a review on a person’s life…? You can’t- what I can do is share with you what the book is about and how I reacted reading Carolyn’s story.
I almost feel guilty that Big Love was one of my favorite shows. Leave it to Hollywood to glamorize a warped few of Polygamy. Bill, Barbara, Nikki and Margene live a life of glamorous luxury compared to the horrendous life Carolyn survived. Neglected, abused and once starving, the horrors growing up in Polygamy and becoming an actual polygamist was enough to make my stomach turn.
Phantasm- a scared and shocked Carolyn finds herself alone for the first time with her husband Merrill, who hasn’t spoken to her yet. Right before he forces himself on her resulting in a disastrous first wedding night he utters “um, maybe we should talk a little”.
Nothing really gets better from that night on. Carolyn is the new wife (which eventually becomes a house with six wives and later more) and has sexual favor in the beginning, she soon learns that if Merrill is sexually gratified, that she would gain power in the house. The six wives competed with one another for that status and when tempers and jealousy would strike some of the wives would pay a huge price.
One of those prices included children. By the polygamy law, a child belonged to all the wives in the marriage -that meant they could help in the raising and ….disciplining. When anger was targeted towards a wife (which was usually Carolyn) that anger was also directed to that wife’s child. I tried to put myself in this situation, and because I was never -brain washed to believe this was right- I might be thinking harsh, BUT if another woman ever put her hands on my child in the form of discipline I might just wind up in jail for beating the crap out of her. Carolyn of course did not have that option, Merrill would support the beatings and punishments of his thirty some children. He never protected any of the wives, except for his first wife, who had the main power in the home. The abuse targeted at her children seemed to be the last straw, after years of mental and emotional abuse, having sex with an old nasty man, eight kids and more wives showing up, Carolyn finally got the courage to……ESCAPE………..
It took a while to get through Carolyn’s story- and only because you don’t sit to read this for entertainment. You read it because of the bravery and courage Carolyn had to save her eight children. You read it to get a true insight of what polygamy looks like- and it’s not an HBO television show. You read it to see a woman become victorious and make it into a new life, after the battles with the FDLS church are won and the battles with the courts are won, Carolyn comes out a stronger, smarter and more hopeful woman.
The only part of Carolyn’s story that I wish was elaborated on was her view point of faith. The book ends with an update, but nothing about Carolyn’s stance on being a Mormon or if she still is one.
Recommended for adults- the entire book is sexually graphic. Violence, brainwashing, religious cults, divorce, polygamy and abuse are all topics surrounding Escape.
3.5/5- Memoir, Polygamy
Friday, April 16, 2010
Recommend Me is a weekly meme featured by Kate at The Neverending Shelf, in which participants will pick one of their all time favorite reads to share. This could be a book that you read yesterday or years ago.
To play along, grab a favorite read and tell us about it. You can include your thoughts about the novel, its summary, your favorite memory related to the novel... the possibilities are limitless.
This week my pick is The Compound by S.A Bodeen
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Now, a mysterious woman appears at Crossroads seeking answers and help—a victim who eerily resembles Ben’s deceased wife, Susan. A woman robbed of her identity, her life, of everything except her faith—and Susan’s necklace. The connections between the two women mount, exceeding coincidence, and to keep the truth hidden, someone is willing to kill. Finding out who and why turns Ben and the mystery woman’s situation from dangerous to deadly. Their only hope for survival is to work together, trust each other, and face whatever they discover head on, no matter how painful. But will that be enough to save their lives and heal their tattered hearts? (GoodReads)
Jane Doe wakes up in the woods beaten, her head bashed by a rock and her memory gone…….the only thing keeping her alert is the killer headache pounding in her skull and the old man’s head she’s about to smash. Luckily for Clyde (the old man) he escapes the head beating and convinces the woman he’s there to help. All that she has is a business card with the name Susan on it and a cross necklace. For reasons unbeknownst to her, she decides she must be Susan and trusts Clyde who then takes her to Crossroads.
Shortly thereafter “Susan” meets Ben- the owner of Crossroads and husband to deceased Susan, who has an uncanny resemblance to the living Susan. The meeting is not friendly and although intense I couldn’t help cracking up at the dynamic of these two characters. I knew once Ben could get through all the glaring and necklace snatching he would see “Susan” in a different light………
Never a dull moment and the plot moves very fast. Almost too fast-We go from murder, to beatings, to a huge mystery to love and romance with no breather in between. The first few chapters are confusing, it was hard to make connections to the prologue and pull the pieces together until about mid-way through. It’s pretty much non-stop until the end and has a great climatic finish.
This is defiantly a book for Christian fiction readers. The faith aspects while never pinpointing to Jesus specifically- drive a deep message of God and love. Anyone who loves a mystery can enjoy the action of the story even with the faith elements heavily coated throughout.
Violence, murder, drugs, terrorism and abuse are all subjects touched on with the majority based upon intense action and dramatic scenes. Suitable for the mature teen and adult.
3.5/5- Christian Fiction- Mystery
Thanks to Waterbrook Press for Review Copy
Thanks to the greats at Random House and Waterbrook Press I have two copies of Forget Me Not up for grabs. Anyone can enter and for extra entry's please let me know if you follow me or tweeted this contest. Winners will be picked April 30th. Visit Waterbrook Press to purchase your own copy......
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill from Breaking the Spine, and spotlights upcoming novels we just can't wait for! This week I'm excited for...
Extraordinary by Nancy Werlin
Releasing September 7, 2010
There is yet to be a synopsis....only a beautiful cover...but as I devour Nancy Werlins books like cake, Im sure this one will delight.
Find out more info about Nancy at her website. Also if you havent had the chance to pick up Impossible or The Killers Cousin....you are missing out!!