Sunday, September 29, 2013

Review: Summer's End by Lisa Morton

Lisa Morton is the main character in her own novella Summer's End blurring the lines between fact and fiction. She is called in to examine a 1500 year old druidic manuscript by Dr. Wilson Armitage and Dr. Conor o' Cuinn. It appears to be selections of history, recipes for herbal concoctions for healing and the like, and spells. 

Lisa is very skeptical especially about the spells until Dr. Armitage is found torn apart. The police report says by wild animals, but she suspects it was by the mischievous and malicious sidh that o' Cuinn summoned using the book. 

The novella continues with more spell casting, poultice making, and wand seeking adventures. In the end it comes down to one thing. Will o' Cuinn and Lisa be willing and able to perform sacrifices on Halloween, one of them human, to restore balance to the world?

The book has an interesting premise and presentation putting the author as the main character. There is maybe a little more tell than show in places perhaps because of the shorter format. The bit about the sidh was so well written, I was reluctant to look outside after dark for a few days. I did feel that that the ending was a little bit of a let down, but I can't go into details here because it would involve spoilers. It just seemed a little anticlimactic. Good, but anticlimactic. Overall I liked the book and found that it stayed with me after I finished reading it.

I give it 3 out of 5 stars.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in order to provide my unbiased opinion.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday #12 - Unhinged by A.G. Howard

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly event hosted by Jill over on Breaking the Spine to spotlight new releases that we are eagerly anticipating.

From Goodreads:
"Alyssa Gardner has been down the rabbit hole and faced the bandersnatch. She saved the life of Jeb, the guy she loves, and escaped the machinations of the disturbingly seductive Morpheus and the vindictive Queen Red. Now all she has to do is graduate high school and make it through prom so she can attend the prestigious art school in London she's always dreamed of.

That would be easier without her mother, freshly released from an asylum, acting overly protective and suspicious. And it would be much simpler if the mysterious Morpheus didn’t show up for school one day to tempt her with another dangerous quest in the dark, challenging Wonderland—where she (partly) belongs.

As prom and graduation creep closer, Alyssa juggles Morpheus’s unsettling presence in her real world with trying to tell Jeb the truth about a past he’s forgotten. Glimpses of Wonderland start to bleed through her art and into her world in very disturbing ways, and Morpheus warns that Queen Red won’t be far behind.

If Alyssa stays in the human realm, she could endanger Jeb, her parents, and everyone she loves. But if she steps through the rabbit hole again, she'll face a deadly battle that could cost more than just her head."

I know it might be a little early to post this one as it doesn't come out until January 7, 2014, but I  just finished reading the chapter sampler that was available from Netgalley and the publisher and it was awesome.  It started out in mid action. Already there was tension. And from there the tension just continued to build. By the end of the sampler, I just wanted the rest of the book. I loved the interplay between Alyssa and Morpheus. I haven't yet read book one. This is my first exposure to these characters and this Wonderland. I want to know more. I'm waiting to read  Splintered from my library and happy to see it getting checked out.

So what are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday - Best Sequels

Top Ten Tuesday is sponsored by The Broke and the Bookish. This week the topic is Top Ten Best Sequels. I'm going a little old school on this one for most of the list because most of the books I've read recently either have been stand alone, or book 2 hasn't come out yet. So, really in no particular order, here they are: 

  • Newford Series by Charles de Lint - Memory and Dream
  • Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series by Douglas Adams - So Long and Thanks for All the Fish
  • Odd Thomas series by Dean Koontz - Forever Odd
  • Last Herald Mage trilogy by Mercedes Lackey - Magic's Promise
  • The Sword Dancer Saga by Jennifer Roberson - Sword-Singer
  • The Belgariad by David Eddings - Queen of Sorcery
  • Elizabeth Peters' Amelia Peabody mysteries series - Curse of the Pharoahs
  • Southern Sisters' mysteries by Anne George - Murder on a Bad Hair Day
  • Cherry Tucker mysteries by Larissa Reinhart - Still Life in Brunswick Stew
  • Liz Talbot mysteries by Susan M. Boyer - Lowcountry Bombshell
What are your favorite sequels?

Friday, September 20, 2013

Review: The Edge of Normal by Carla Norton

Reeve was kidnapped at the young age of 12 and held captive for 4 years. She has spent the last 6 years in counseling with Dr. Ezra Lerner, an expert in captivity psychology. Now at age 22, she has carved out a life for herself in San Francisco, a very careful life. She travels the same routes, follows the same routines, sees the doctor on a regular basis, and finally has a job she loves.

Then her life is thrown into chaos. A girl, Tiffany, is found under conditions similar to her conditions in captivity. Dr. Lerner wants her to come with him to meet with the girl and her family. The mother in particular wants to talk to her. Reeve reluctantly agrees after Dr. Lerner points out how much it meant to her to have a mentor who went through so many of the same things when she was recovering from her experiences.

Three girls were kidnapped within  a short period of time of each other. Tiffany has now reappeared. No one knows where the other 2 are except the mysterious second abuser that Tiffany confided to Reeve about. And he is a monster, one of the worst villains I've read in a long while - cold, calculating, sadistic and more. The facts of his behavior are bad, but it's really the way Carla Norton writes him.

As Reeve bonds with Tiffany, she begins a change that will see her well through the rest of the book. As the description on Goodreads says: "Reeve realizes she may not simply need to mentor this young victim—she may be the only one who can protect her from a cunning predator who is still out there, watching every move."

This is an excellent thriller. The characters are well written, and the book is paced well. I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

The Edge of Normal by Carla Norton was released by Minotaur Books on September 10, 2013

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased opinion.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday #11 - Sorrow's Knot by Erin Bow

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly event hosted by Jill over on Breaking the Spine where we spotlight new releases that we are eagerly anticipating. This week I am waiting on Sorrow's Knot by Erin Bow. It's due out October 29, 2013 from Arthur A. Levine books at Scholastic. 

From "In the world of Sorrow’s Knot, the dead do not rest easy. Every patch of shadow might be home to something hungry and nearly invisible, something deadly. The dead can only be repelled or destroyed with magically knotted cords and yarns. The women who tie these knots are called binders.

Otter is the daughter of Willow, a binder of great power. She’s a proud and privileged girl who takes it for granted that she will be a binder some day herself. But when Willow’s power begins to turn inward and tear her apart, Otter finds herself trapped with a responsibility she’s not ready for, and a power she no longer wants."

There is a sneak peek available on the author's website:

What book are you waiting on this week?

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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: The Midnight Dress by Karen Foxlee

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly event hosted by Jill over on Breaking the Spine where we spotlight new releases that we are eagerly anticipating. This week my WoW is Midnight Dress by Karen Foxlee.

I read a rave review of this book on Publisher's Weekly. Between that and the Goodreads description I can't wait for the book to come out here in the States on October 8, 2013 from Knopf Books for Young Readers. It was released first in Australia earlier this year. 

From Goodreads: "Quiet misfit Rose doesn't expect to fall in love with the sleepy beach town of Leonora. Nor does she expect to become fast friends with beautiful, vivacious Pearl Kelly, organizer of the high school float at the annual Harvest Festival parade. It's better not to get too attached when Rose and her father live on the road, driving their caravan from one place to the next whenever her dad gets itchy feet. But Rose can't resist the mysterious charms of the town or the popular girl, try as she might.

Pearl convinces Rose to visit Edie Baker, once a renowned dressmaker, now a rumored witch. Together Rose and Edie hand-stitch an unforgettable dress of midnight blue for Rose to wear at the Harvest Festival—a dress that will have long-lasting consequences on life in Leonora, a dress that will seal the fate of one of the girls. Karen Foxlee's breathtaking novel weaves friendship, magic, and a murder mystery into something moving, real, and distinctly original." 

From the review: "While I always have precocious younger readers who like to venture into the YA section, I feel that, due to some mature themes, this is definitely a title for teenage readers. I think that fans of Sarah Dessen, Rainbow Rowell, and Deb Caletti will love this book..."

I haven't read any of those authors, but the book still sounds wonderful to me. Can't wait to read it. What are you "Waiting on this Wednesday?"

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I Would Like to See Made into a Movie or Television Series

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week the topic is Top Ten Books I would like to see made into a movie or television show (if this was a perfect world and they didn't butcher the books we love).

In no particular order:

  • Whistling Past the Graveyard by Susan Crandall - would make a good dramatic film.
  • The Cobweb Bride by Vera Nazarian - either a miniseries or movie encompassing more than one part of the trilogy. Only part one is out now and it's quite a cliff hanger. 
  • The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau - a movie like The Hunger Games.
  • 14 by PeterClines - would make a good campy horror film.
  • Life Expectancy by Dean Koontz - would make either a good movie or a good mini series where each segment was about a different one of the 5 "special days" in Jimmy Tock's life.
  • Lamb: the Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore - movie with humor and drama. Just what did Christ do in those years he wandered?
  • Dirty Job by Christopher Moore - movie with lots of  humor and drama. Death is dead; long live death. "She is strong like bear."
  • Elizabeth Peter's Amelia Peabody books - any of them would make a great movie with humor, mystery and adventure.
  • Southern Sisters Mystery Books by Anne George - any of them would make a humorous mystery movie. 
  • Mary Kay Andrew's books would be fun to watch as well. Lots of fun southern humor.
Alternatives I almost added were Carpathian by David Golemon as an action/adventure movie and Illusions: the Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah by Richard Bach.

Which books are you interested in seeing made into movies or tv shows?

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: Shadows by Paula Weston

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights the upcoming releases that we're most looking forward to. 

My selection this week is Shadows (Rephaim #1) by Paula Weston. 
It's due out in the U.S. September 10, 2013  by Tundra books. 
From GoodReads: "It's almost a year since Gaby Winters watched her twin brother die. In the sunshine of a new town her body has healed, but her grief is raw and constant. It doesn't help that every night in her dreams she fights and kills hell-beasts. And then Rafa comes to town. Not only does he look exactly like the guy who's been appearing in Gaby's dreams, he tells her things about her brother and her life that cannot be true, things that are dangerous. Who is Rafa? Who are the Rephaim? And who is Gaby? The truth lies in the shadows of her nightmares." 

The available reviews say lots of good things about this book. I'm looking forward to reading it.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Review: Noah's Rainy Day by Sandra Brannan

Noah's Rainy Day by Sandra Brannan is a recent release from Greenleaf Book Group Press on September 3, 2013.

It's an interesting book with an unlikely cast member, Noah Hogarty - Liv Bergen's nephew who has severe Cerebral Palsy. I like the way that Sandra Brannan shows that he has normal thought processes. He can communicate, but it's not easy. He and his family have developed a method to spell out words and shortcuts for yes and no questions. Bur often times, other than when he is talking with his sister Emma, he gets frustrated with the alphabet method.

Noah can see into their neighbor's house from his picture window. They call his neighbor "Mr. Creepy." What he sees, he has trouble communicating clearly because Emma isn't around. And he and Emma have trouble earlier getting anyone to believe them about what is going on over there. This makes it somewhat like the movie, Rear Window. 

It's Christmas Eve, and Little Max is missing from Denver International Airport. Liv and her canine partner Beulah, along with the rest of the team must work together round the clock to try and keep this from becoming a fatality.

In addition to the mystery, there is a bit of a love triangle going on. Liv is being drawn in 2 directions at the same time. It's nice because among other things it humanizes the characters involved.

There is a little repetition in the beginning, but it gets better as the book progresses. The mystery is handled believably. Noah's presence gives it a breath of fresh air. I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased opinion.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Review: The Marijuana Chronicles edited by Jonathan Santlofer

The Marijuana Chronicles contains 12 short stories, 1 comic, 2 poems, and 2 nonfiction essays by 17 different authors including the editor. There are other notable names in the table of contents such as Lee Child and Joyce Carol Oates.

The introduction includes a brief history to marijuana or cannabis or hemp or whatever you want to call it. It's interesting reading using facts from ancient history right up to modern times. Among other interesting facts, "The National Commission on Marijuana Drug Abuse released a 1972 study urging the decriminalization of smoking pot in the privacy of one's own home, but Nixon disregarded it, and created the DEA..."

The stories vary in tone and how they handle the topic of marijuana. One of my favorite lines in the anthology comes from "The Last Toke" by Jonathan Santlofer. "...riding the wave of a pot cloud so potent the squirrels were getting stoned." The piece by Lee Child, "My First Drug Trial," is definitely a standout in the anthology. For me another favorite was "No Smoking" by Edward M. Gomez where the lead character seems unsure just what is getting him high. You'll have to read it to see.

I liked the anthology, but I expected more from it; more variety among the pieces as to the attitude towards marijuana. Overall I give it a 3 out of 5 stars.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in order to provide my unbiased opinion.