Friday, January 27, 2012

Love's Labours Won: The Stone Chronicles #1 (Book Review)

Title: Love's Labours Won
Author: S.G. Lee
Series: The Stone Chronicles
Source: from author for review

Goodreads Summary:
Sarah is a young single woman in dire straits. Her rent is due, she was fired from her last job and she has no family to turn to. So she accepts the fateful offer of a mysterious job interview, which turns out to be a ruse to steal gifts that she never even realized she had. As she set upon this journey Sarah will discover a world of magic, mystery and the supernatural. As Sarah learns about this new world she is exposed to adventure, danger and intrigue...and romance in the form of the mysterious Demetrious Blackstone. All the while Sarah must learn to control her gifts and suppress her own demons to defeat the perils that await her. Only then can she discover her inner voice and follow her own path that will lead to the true love she knows she deserves.

I'm not going to lie, if I hadn't promised to review this book, I would have put it down within the first few pages. And honestly I wish I had. There might be a good story idea here but the book is so hard to read that I could barely follow it. There are typos on just about every page. It switches back and forth from first to second person with seemingly no reason and switches between the present and past tense so often, many time in the middle of a sentence, that the story is hard to follow.
In between re-reading sentences over and over again, trying to figure out what it was supposed to say, I lost the meaning of them altogether. I was forced to stop on almost every page to figure out whether I was supposed to be reading in first or second person and in present or past tense.
I think that I like the idea of the story, but the telling of it needs so much work that it is nearly impossible to tell.

Rating: 1/5

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Secret of Lies (Book Review)

Title: The Secret of Lies
Author: Barbara Forte Abate
Source: from author for review
Publisher: Dog Ear Publishing, LLC

Goodreads Summary:
Propelled by an insurmountable sense of desperation, Stevie Burke is recklessly abandoning home, husband, and outwardly contented life under cover of night; at last resigned to defeat in her long battle against the tortured memories of her past.

Days later, lost and floundering in a dreary motel room without plan or destination, it is a long ago song playing on the radio that gently tugs Stevie back through the dust of remembrance. 1957 - The last summer spent at the ancient house overlooking the North Atlantic. A season which had unfolded with abundant promise, but then spiraled horribly out of control - torn apart by a shattering tragedy that remains splintered in fragments upon her soul. And it is only now, when Stevie at last lifts her eyes to stare deep into the heart of her long sequestered memories, that the long held secrets of past and future are at last unveiled.

This is a coming-of-age story at its best. Stevie is a complex character that I couldn't help but relate to through her journey. As she suffers one tragedy after another she is tested to prove her strength and willpower to continue to live her life as best she can and not let herself drown in the lies and secrets behind these tragedies.
It's nearly impossible not to feel for Stevie as she goes down a path of self-destruction, trying to protect herself from the pain, and even more impossible not to hope that she will discover what she is doing to herself and the people in her life in the end.
This book is sad and hopeful, scandalous and real, emotional and well-written: something everyone who enjoys a good coming-of-age story should read.

Rating: 4.5/5

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Angel Evolution: Evolution Trilogy #1 (Book Review)

Title: Angel Evolution
Author: David Estes
Series: Evolution Trilogy
Source: From author for review

Goodreads Summary:
Angel Evolution- the first book in the young adult fantasy trilogy: The Evolution Trilogy... When Taylor meets Gabriel at college, she is in awe of the subtle glow that surrounds him. No one else, not even her best friend, seems to notice. Something about him scares her. Is all as it appears? While Taylor struggles for answers, she finds herself in the middle of a century old war centered on one miraculous revelation: evolution.

I had been looking forward to reading this book ever since I read the summary, and I was definitely not disappointed. This is one of those books that I just couldn't put down; I had to know what was going to happen next.
Taylor and Sam are typical college students with quirks and personality that make them both great heroines in this war which they have just learned about from their unusual boyfriends. The twists, lies, and surprises keep coming in this book and I found myself always looking forward to finding out what happened next.
Chris and Gabriel likewise are complex and interesting characters. As the story progresses we learn more and more about them and their fantastic histories. At times I found myself rooting both for and against them. They make some of the greatest characters that I've read about in a long time.
This book will definitely be one that I will remember and go back to to read again. And I will most definitely be getting the rest of the trilogy.

Rating: 5/5

Thursday, January 19, 2012

All in the Woods (Book Review)

Title: All in the Woods
Author: J R Poulter
Illustrator: Linda Gunn
Source: From author for review
Publisher: Pixiefoot Press

Goodreads Summary:
'All in the Woods' is a fabulous, fun read about a boy, his granddad, a possum and a trouble-making neighbour. Illustrated by Linda S Gunn and written by J R Poulter, it is aimed at 5-7 year old readers.

I was really excited when I was asked to review this book. Generally I review YA and adult books, but I grew up babysitting and volunteering at daycares and preschools so I am no stranger to the children's book. And it's been ages since I've read a new one so I was happy to get the chance to try this one out. And it was definitely worth it. The characters are fun and the story is simple enough for a child to understand and complex enough to make them think, which I think is the most important part of a book for this age range. While this book was written for a 5-7 year old audience, I do think that younger children would enjoy it as well, although they may miss some of the plot elements.
And I haven't even mentioned the illustration yet. It is perfect. The illustrations themselves could stand along as beautiful pictures but when matched with the story they are simply fantastic.
This book is a great mix of illustration and story telling that every child should have the chance to read.

(Note: Since children's books are very different from what I normally review, it seems unfair and too hard for me to use the same rating system. So technically, I'm not going to rate this book, but I will be giving it 5 stars on Amazon and Goodreads)

You Can't Run From the Heat (Book Review)

Title: You Can't Run From the Heat
Author: Qiana Williams
Source: From author for review (although the book is currently free on Amazon for those with Amazon Prime)

Goodreads Summary:
Kenya Brown moves from a small town on the outskirts of Chicago to New York City in order to get away from her past. Shaking off her extremely jealous ex boyfriend and trying to stay out of the middle of her parent's divorce, she uses her professional experience, intelligence and independence to move onward and start anew.

In her travels to New York, she meets a young handsome lawyer and they wind up running into one another some days later. Being cautiously optimistic, they begin dating and Kenya finds that he makes her happy in ways she hadn't thought possible. Kenya is hopeful that true happiness is finally hers for the taking.

What Kenya would have never expected is to enter a whole new world of drama; a whirlwind of events that will change her life in every manner. Unexpectedly, Kenya finds herself wrapped up in a whole new string of 'heat', which is what she thought she was leaving behind.

With a very provocative subplot that includes deception, lies, murder, blackmail, sex and a lawyer's "dirty" little secret, the dots all somehow connect back to the man that she is falling for and thus, ultimately Kenya. Is he worth staying around for and is the madness that she is seeing stemming from him, or is there more to the story than meets the eye? You decide in this addictive page turner, "You Can't Run From the Heat"

I want to like this book. It has an intriguing plot and interesting characters, but unfortunately there are a number of reasons why this book just isn't for me. It starts off very slowly. To be honest, I probably wouldn't have finished the book if I hadn't promised to review it. I'm glad I didn't put it down though because things definitely pick up. For me though, I felt like a lot of the story was lost in the sex. (This is probably a good time to mention that this book is definitely for adults only). While I have no problem with sex scenes in books, in this novel, sex just seemed to get in the way of the story.
There are some very complex plots going on underneath the surface and these this are no doubt effecting how the characters think, talk, and act, but every time someone is about to discuss these complex things, they just end up having sex instead.
Kenya, the main character, is very likeable and we do get to see some of what she is thinking and feeling in the beginning of the book. But after she hooks up with Mike, that changes. She starts to worry about the creepy phone calls but instead of delving into her feelings about it, she has sex with Mike.
I've gone back through the end of the book several times, and I can't find any description at all of how the scandal is effecting her. She is happy that Mike is sharing her feelings about it with her, but we don't get to see this conversation so we don't know how he is feeling either.
I know that this novel has received many good reviews so it is definitely a book that people love to read, but to be honest, it just wasn't for me.

Rating: 2/5

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

I'm Okay

Hi everyone! Especially all my new followers, hello! I just wanted to give you a quick update and let you know that I am still reading and will have some reviews up shortly. The reason that I've been behind a little bit this week is that I had a procedure done on my neck and I'm in a lot of pain right now. I explain it better in this video I made last week:

I should be back to writing later this week. Here's my most recent video about how things are going:

I'll have some reviews up soon!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Kevin's Point of View (Book Review)

Title: Kevin's Point of View
Author: Del Shannon
Source: From author for review
Publisher: Flatiron View Books

Goodreads Summary:
To escape the emotional turmoil of his father’s death 12-year-old Kevin Tobin has retreated inside himself, developing his imagination into a dangerous foil and a powerful ally. While he antagonizes everyone with his superhero antics, his ability to escape inside himself becomes critical to his survival after his life is once-again turned upside down a year after his father’s death. When a mysterious package arrives in the mail, Kevin and his best friend are hunted by a ruthless villain who is determined to retrieve the package, which holds the key to his plans for world domination. After enlisting Kevin’s teenage sister and her pizza-delivery boyfriend in a battle for control over time itself, the group escapes into the mountains west of Boulder, Colorado and eventually discover that Kevin’s entire existence is because of the love of someone we never expected.

Kevin's Point of View is Del Shannon's debut novel and shows a deep appreciation for the powers of imagination, family ties, and the desire of young boys to both escape reality and prove themselves within it. The fast-paced, adventure-filled storytelling style makes this a book with wide appeal for readers of all ages.

Thoughts: This novel is strange with outlandish happenings and constant drifts into imagination, and it is so fun to read. I love Kevin's imagination and how it helps to deal with his father's death. I love that everyone else is annoyed by it, because it is a realistic reaction to him. And then things get very unrealistic when package arrives and Kevin and his best friend Toby spend their day running away from a super villain, but it works. The story pulls you along mixing reality with imagination to create a tale that you won't soon forget.
The story ends with a nice explanation for everything that has happened. And while I have to say, I saw the twist at the ending coming well before I got there, this book is meant for audience younger than myself and I am sure that they would be thrilled and surprised by the conclusion as well as the rest of the novel.

Rating: 4/5

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Universe of Malcolm (Book Review)

Title: The Universe of Malcolm
Author: Blair Palmerlee
Source: From author for review
Publisher: CreateSpace

Amazon Summary: 
Malcolm Thomas is a slightly nerdy high school student from the year 2098. He leads a normal, futuristic life until an accident leaves the galaxies that exist inside his atoms vulnerable to conquest by a power hungry dictator. Realizing, through the disappearance of his hand, that his existence is threatened by this invasion, Malcolm's only chance at survival is to travel inside himself to stop this tiny conqueror. Finding a group of subatomic aliens with the same goal, our hero becomes immersed in an unlikely adventure to save The Universe of Malcolm.

I have read our seen on tv a lot of renditions of children shrinking and entering the human body as I'm sure you have as well. This story however takes a unique twist on this idea. Instead of entering what would appear to be the body as we know it, Malcolm enters the universe that is alive inside his body. There is he entangled in war, prophecies, and destruction, and must find the courage inside himself to save the universe.
Malcolm and the rest of the crew are loveable characters that you can't help but root for on their adventures. There are unexpected turns and twists in the plot that keep you guessing the whole way through. It's imaginative and quirky in the best possible way. It is a fun read and one that I would recommend to anyone who wants to relax with an enjoyable story and fun characters. 

Rating: 4/5

Monday, January 9, 2012

New Week Resolutions: Week Two

Today I'm linking up with shades of shayes for My New Week Resolutions.

Week One:

Week Two:
  • Read at least 3 books
  • Write at least 3 reviews
  • Edit the second chapter of my novel

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Book Thief (Book Review)

Title: The Book Theif
Author: Markus Zusak
Source: Gift from my sister
Publisher: Alfred A Knopf

Goodreads Summary:
It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. . . .

Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.

This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.

I love books about World War II. Not ones about the actual war but books set in the time during the war. And this book in no exception to that love. It shows a side of the war that most of us don't often consider: the life of a poor German girl who is trying to grow up in this environment. Liesel lives with her foster family who is a normal German family that does not hate Jews and is trying to scrape by in a country at war.
One of the striking things about this novel is that the narrator is Death. As he shows up at the many deaths that Liesel must confront during her lifetime, Death becomes interested in this little book thief and decides to share her story with the world.
In many ways Liesel is a typical teenager with a love for books. Only she lives a life that requires her to steal the books she read. She shares these books with many different people in their times of need. A powerful story about the power of books in our lives.

Rating: 5/5

Friday, January 6, 2012

Follow Friday #1

Q: Go count the number of unread books sitting on your shelf. How many?

Well, on my physical bookshelf there are five books that I still need to read. That doesn't sound too bad, but they we turn to my e-reader. On which there are 91 unread books. So that's a total of 96 unread books. If I meet my reading challenge for the year, I should have them all read by the end of the year though!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Fault in Our Stars (Book Review)

Title: The Fault in Our Stars
Author: John Green
Source: Bought
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile

Goodreads Summary: Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 12, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs... for now. 

Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault. 

Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.

Thoughts: I love John Green and I was really expecting good things out of this novel. And it definitely delivered. This is definitely my favorite of the John Green books that I have read and that's saying a lot (although I haven't read Looking for Alaska yet).
The characters in this novel are very real. Augustus is intriguing and in every way a perfect match for the main character Hazel. Hazel, despite her many similarities to Esther Earl, is her own character. She is loveable and someone to root for. The underdog that you can help but want to be friends with. She is strong and brave and real. She, Augustus, and their friend Isaac give us a look into the lives of teens with cancer.
A world that has more challenges and difficulties than I would have imagined. They deal not only with the physical problems that come along with their illnesses, but also the stigma of disease and the loneliness that results as well as having to face the idea of death on a day to day basis in a way that no one else is forced to do.
Once again, John Green has written a classic young adult novel that I am sure will last for ages.

Rating: 5/5

The Bridge of Deaths (Book Review)

Title: The Bridge of Deaths
Author: M.C.V. Egan
Source: From author for review
Publisher: AuthorHouse Publishing

Goodreads Summary: On August 15th 1939, at the brink of World War II, an English plane crashed and sunk in Danish waters. Five deaths were reported: two Standard Oil of New Jersey employees, a German Corporate Lawyer, an English member of Parliament, and a crew member for the airline. Here is a conceivable version of the events.

Thoughts: The Bridge of Deaths is a mixture of fact and fiction. The tale of real research done into a real plane crash and of fictional characters and a plausible explanation for the events surrounding the crash. This book had me hooked the whole way through. I would not have imagined that a book about research done in archives mixed with psychics and past life regressions could be so interesting.The blend works so well in this story that it leaves me wanting to know more every time I put the book down and even now that I am finished the book, I am intrigued by the mystery surrounding it.
The characters and story come to life in such a way as to make you feel as if you are a part of this small group trying to figure out the details and the inaccuracies of the official reports and trying to piece together the truth. It leaves me wondering what the truth is behind these unusual events that the author has been trying for years to piece together. In a world of spies and government secrets, it is a mystery that may never be completely solved. The conclusion makes sense and you can be sure I will be keeping up with the author's website to see if she uncovers any more pieces of this mysterious puzzle.
This book is a must-read for anyone that enjoys a good mystery, a good historical fiction, or simply a great novel.

Rating: 5/5

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

W W W Wednesday #1

  • What are you currently reading? The Bridge of Deaths by M. C. V. Egan (Only a few pages left! Expect a review tomorrow)
  • What did you just finish reading? The Corridors of the Dead by Jonathan D. Allen (review here)
  • What do you think you'll read next? The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Busting the Newbie Blues

  1. When did you start your blog? I started this blog last month. I also have a personal blog which I started in April 2011.
  2. Why did you start your blog? I love reading and book reviews just didn't have a place on my personal blog so I started this one to talk about books.
  3. What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far? I never know what to comment on when reading a book review for a book I haven't read and I don't really know how to connect with other bloggers other than commenting.
  4. What do you find most discouraging about being a new blogger? Feeling like I am writing stuff that no one will ever read.
  5. What do you find most encouraging? It inspires me to read more and think more about the books that I am reading.
  6. What do you like best about the blogs you read? Have you tried to replicate this in your blog? There are some memes that I really love reading ever week so I've been participating in those.
  7. What do you dislike about blogs you’ve read? Do you try to avoid this? Reviews that are really lengthy. I try to keep mine to a few short paragraphs.
  8. Any advice for other new bloggers? Write for yourself that way it won't matter how many people are reading.
  9. Any questions you'd like to ask newbie or established bloggers? See my answer to 3. How do you make connections? What kinds of comments do you leave? Also do you read books that you want to read or books that you think people will want to read a review of?
  10. Is there anything you’d like to tell us about your blog? Feel free to link a few of your favorite posts or posts you wish had more comments. I haven't written that many posts yet so I don't really have favorites but feel free to read through them!

Top Ten Books I'm Excited to Read in 2012

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here at The Broke and the Bookish.

  1. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
  2. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  3. Looking for Alaska by John Green
  4. The Future of Us by Jay Asher
  5. Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson
  6. World War Z by Maz Brooks
  7. The Maze Runner by James Dashner
  8. The Stand by Stephen King
  9. A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin
  10. Matched by Ally Condie

Monday, January 2, 2012

100 Books in 2012

Last year, I read 52 books. Can I reach 100 this year? I'm taking up this challenge!

I'll also be trying to catch up on all the books that I've been meaning to read with this challenge.

The Corridors of the Dead (Book Review)

Book: The Corridors of the Dead
Author: Jonathan D. Allen
Source: From author for review
Publisher: Qwendellonia Publishing

Goodreads Summary:Long ago, a mysterious being known as The Lost Aetelia crafted an elaborate series of Watchtowers, along with their resident guardians, the Aetelia, to watch over the Universe. In time, they sent a select group of their own to Earth, tasked with watching over the fledging human race. This group used humanity to challenge the established structure of the Universe. A bitter war ensued, and these rebels, who had come to be known as Watchers, disappeared from history. 

The time of the Aetelia – now known as angels – is returning. After a fateful night of violence, Artist Matty DiCamillo finds herself drawn into this world by a mysterious savior, who becomes a driving force in Matty’s new life. 

Both driven by and fighting the words of prophecy that lay out her destiny, Matty, her lover Kristy, and her best friend Daniel, follow this mysterious savior on a journey from Northern California to Las Vegas on a path that crosses through the boundaries of time and space. 

As Matty struggles to understand her destiny, she discovers that her savior may not be what she seems, and that even the denizens of this twilight world have no idea what lurks behind the stage dressing of reality. Matty finds herself not only racing to rescue the woman she loves, but learning that she herself could be the cause of the Universe’s day of reckoning.

My Thoughts: This books is an intense and compelling read. The characters are realistic and relateable. Matty, the main character, and her girlfriend Kristy and best friend Daniel have a great dynamic. The story moves quickly and I read it in one day because I couldn't wait to figure out what was going to happen next. There are mysteries, enemies, and lies that keep this book exciting from beginning to end. It is also colored with Mythology which you can learn more about on the author's blog here.

While this book was an intriguing and fun read, there were quite a few typos, missing words, and sentences that just didn't make sense. Some of these were easy to overlook, and others made it hard to understand what was going on or who was talking at times.

Overall, I think this novel has the potential to be fantastic, but it doesn't feel finished just yet.

Rating: 3/5

New Week Resolutions: Week One

I'm linking up with That's What She Said, my personal blog, for Week One Resolutions.

New Year Resolutions:

  • Read at least 50 books
  • Write at least 40 reviews
  • Have my first novel reviewed on at least one blog
  • Sell at least one copy of my novel once it is published

My New Week Resolutions
  • Read at least 2 books
  • Write at least 2 reviews
  • Edit the first chapter of my novel