Deirdre Monaghan is a very talented young musician. She leads a pretty normal life until she meets Luke Dillon. Suddenly, she beings to see things oth...moreDeirdre Monaghan is a very talented young musician. She leads a pretty normal life until she meets Luke Dillon. Suddenly, she beings to see things other people can't see and her life takes on a dangerous twist.
Maggie Stiefvater's first young adult novel, Lament: The Faerie Queen's Deception, is a great read. Stiefvater's characters are complex and intriguing. The dialogue flows easily, even when Luke is forced to be cryptic about his situation and his part in what is happening with Deirdre. Emotions run high throughout the book as Deirdre struggles to understand her gift of sight, her family's history with the fey, and the current threat posed by the faerie queen. Stiefvater also blends historical faerie lore with the technology of today, creating a sense of drifting between times.
Overall, I greatly enjoyed this book and am looking forward to reading the sequel, Ballad, which is scheduled for release sometime this year.(less)
Dale Hammer is a struggling writer who has moved his family to the suburbs in search of the American Dream. Rather than finding suburban bliss, Dale i...moreDale Hammer is a struggling writer who has moved his family to the suburbs in search of the American Dream. Rather than finding suburban bliss, Dale is unable to hold his life together as he faces financial problems, marriage problems, and his failures as a father.
While many reviews of Rocket Man have referred to the book as humorous, I failed to see the humor in Dale Hammer's tremendous failures as a husband and father. (Although to be fair I didn't *get* the humor in The Nanny Diaries or The Devil Wears Prada either.) Dale is not a very likable or sympathetic character because it is clear that many of his problems stem from his own actions and attitude. At the same time, Dale is examining his life and sees his failures yet is unable to change his course - like a train wreck that one sees coming but is unable to prevent.
My favorite character in the book was actually Dale Hammer, Sr. because he is essentially my father in law with a southern accent. Dale Sr. is also a tremendous failure but the difference is that he has a spark of life that the main character is lacking. Despite Dale Sr.'s problems he continues to move forward with a vigorous new plan. He is loud, crude, and demands attention - a true salesman in all areas of his life.
Rocket Man is an engaging look at the illusion that is the American Dream. The book is also incredibly timely with the collapse of the housing market and current economic conditions that have many people struggling to maintain their customary lifestyle in the face of financial difficulties. The events of the book are occasionally interrupted by Dale's contemplations of his current situation. While these scenes allow readers to understand Dale's thoughts and motivations, the inner monologues come across as a bit pretentious - would such an epic failure as Dale really be that aware of his own life?
As a novel in the literary/general fiction category, which is outside of my usual scope of reading, I enjoyed Rocket Man more than I expected I would. One caveat - the book does contain quite a bit of foul language which could turn some people off to the story.
Thank you to William Elliott Hazelgrove and Pantonne Press for sending me an Advance Review Copy of Rocket Man.
Four fabulous young adult authors come together in this short story collection to bring teens tales of love, heartbreak, and hope. Each author brings...moreFour fabulous young adult authors come together in this short story collection to bring teens tales of love, heartbreak, and hope. Each author brings a unique voice to the collection and the stories represent a range of characters, story lines, and styles while centering on the theme of love and loss.
Niki Burnham shares the story of Toby, a high school junior with a gorgeous girlfriend. Things seem to be going great for Toby as the school year starts until his girlfriend starts pressuring him to have sex. Burnham does a great job writing about not being ready for sex from the male perspective as Toby struggles with his conflicting feelings.
Newcomer Terri Clark provides a fast paced story about Dark Dee who gains the ability to hear other people's thoughts after being in a car accident. This leads to the unpleasant realization that her boyfriend has been dating her to gather information for a book on how to get girls from a variety of cliques to fall in love with you. Dee and her friend, Pixie, decide to reveal the boys scheme before they can con anyone else. In order to do this, they must bridge the gaps separating the various social groups at school. Clark engages the reader with snappy dialogue and well drawn characters.
Ellen Hopkins offers the reader a story in verse form, breaking the prose of the rest of the book. Her main character, Lisa, feels plain compared to the other girls in Palm Springs. She is happily surprised when a boy comes in to the coffee shop where she works and eventually asks her out. As the relationship develops, Lisa finds herself changing her outward appearance to please her new boyfriend. She adapts to the relationship in ways that make her uncomfortable especially when her boyfriend starts putting on more pressure. Hopkins verse is shaped to fit the content and the emotions of her narrator.
Lynda Sandoval shows another side of love when Mia's girlfriend, Paige, breaks her heart at the beginning of the school year by hooking up with the school's hottest guy and outing Mia as a lesbian. Mia rides an emotional roller coaster as she deals with the scenario that her summer love is actually straight and having her sexual preference known by the entire school. Sandoval writes in depth characters and carries the reader along for the emotional ride.
All four of these stories revolve around first loves and heartbreaks. While this could be a very depressing collection, each author also injects strength into the characters to overcome the heartbreak and offers the characters hope for future relationships. A great read for mature teens! (less)
Upbound is the story of Karl Stevenson and family secrets. Karl is seven when his Uncle Douglas dies suddenly and Karl refuses to believe that he is r...moreUpbound is the story of Karl Stevenson and family secrets. Karl is seven when his Uncle Douglas dies suddenly and Karl refuses to believe that he is really gone. When his babysitter makes a passing remark about reincarnation, Karl finds hope in the idea that his new baby brother may actually be the reincarnation of his uncle. Upbound follows Karl through his teen years as he tries to find out more about his uncle and his family.
Based on the description of Upbound on the author's website, I thought the book would really focus on the idea that Karl's little brother is really the reincarnation of Uncle Douglas. However, I found the book much more about Karl's relationship to his family and the secrets they kept from each other. The family is disjointed, with the father obviously favoring his younger son. The mother is almost a shadow of a character as she is mainly described by other characters. Rarely do we see her in action. Karl is intrigued by his younger brother, Samuel, in the beginning but they grow increasingly competitive over the years.
I struggled in the beginning with the author's writing. Sentences seemed to be too long and were often held together by multiple commas. These lengthy sentences were sometimes convoluted and difficult to follow. However, once I made it past the first section of the book either the writing smoothed out or I became accustomed to reading it. While the middle section of the story was engaging, I found the ending ultimately disappointing as I still had unanswered questions.
Overall, this novel was a good first effort although I believe that it would have benefited from some additional editing.
Thank you to the author, Peter Hassebroek, for sending me an autographed copy of Upbound. An excerpt from the novel can be found at www.peterhassebroek.com(less)
I am a big fan of Kelley Armstrong's Women of the Otherworld series so I was really looking forward to reading Personal Demon. I'm happy to say I was...moreI am a big fan of Kelley Armstrong's Women of the Otherworld series so I was really looking forward to reading Personal Demon. I'm happy to say I was not disappointed.
For anyone unfamiliar with the series, each book is narrated by a female character who is some sort of supernatural. So far there has been a werewolf, a witch, a ghost witch, a necromancer, and now a half-demon. Each story is independent, although the characters do crossover and the books definitely follow a time line. Armstrong also produces online novellas and her characters appear in various short story anthologies.
Personal Demon is narrated by Hope Adams, a half-demon. She takes on an undercover assignment that forces her to face who she is and what she is capable of.
This book had two main differences from the previous books in the series. The first is that Hope is not the only narrator. Some of the chapters a narrated by Lucas, a sorcerer from a very powerful family and the husband of a witch. This is the first time one of the men has actually narrated portions of the novel. Armstrong makes it very clear who is narrating which portions with her chapter headings and I did not find it confusing at all.
The second difference in this book is the amount of sex. It is not an excessive amount by any means but previous books had little to no sex in them at all. I am anticipating that the sex is connected to Hope and not going to be a regular addition for all the characters.
Personal Demon was a great read and really kept me guessing up until the end. The clues were all there but it definitely took a while to put them all together. I liked it that I didn't feel that I was ahead of the characters in figuring out the situation (making them appear dumb) or way behind them in understanding (making me feel dumb). Armstrong also does a great job with wrapping up the story while leaving enough open ends to continue the overall conflict in future books.(less)
John and Liz Prospero are siblings from a powerful magical family. Liz has no magic while John is destined to become one of the most powerful sorcerer...moreJohn and Liz Prospero are siblings from a powerful magical family. Liz has no magic while John is destined to become one of the most powerful sorcerers of his time. Together they must face one of the largest threats the magical community has ever known.
Modern Magic is a story cycle - essentially a novel made up of shorter stories. This format worked really well for this book as it allowed the author to take us through a large amount of time while only focusing on the most important events. Each story is clearly labeled with a title and general date. Narration often alternates between Liz and John and Cordwainer labels this clearly as well.
Each story is independent and yet they all work toward the larger conclusion of the book. The stories are generally short and fast paced with great dialogue. Alternating between John and Liz gives the reader a chance to get to know and understand both main characters. The early stories provide great insight into the actions of the characters during the stressful situations they must face in later stories.
I really enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend it to fans of fantasy stories. It was a quick and enjoyable read. To get a feel for the book check out some of the sample stories available on Anne Cordwainer's website.
Thank you to Melissa at Clotho Press for sending me an Advance Reader Copy of Modern Magic. It will be officially released in February 2009. (less)
I had a hard time with this book. Although the characters graduated college about the same I did, I felt no connection with them at all. I was unable...moreI had a hard time with this book. Although the characters graduated college about the same I did, I felt no connection with them at all. I was unable to relate to their actions or relationships. I generally don't mind when different chapters in a book focus on different characters, especially when the chapters are clearly labeled as these were, however the large jumps in time and use of memories to fill in gaps was confusing at times. It felt like the author focused on some insignificant details while skipping over some of the larger life events. Overall, this book was a struggle for me to finish.(less)
Gods Behaving Badly is an amusing and irreverent look at the Greek gods in the twenty first century. Many of the gods are living together in a crowded...moreGods Behaving Badly is an amusing and irreverent look at the Greek gods in the twenty first century. Many of the gods are living together in a crowded house in London. The gods engage in infighting and sexual escapades even as their powers diminish. Alice and Neil are mortals who become manipulated by the gods. In Neil, the gods find an unexpected hero who does more than rescue Alice.
Gods Behaving Badly is a light, fun read. The personalities of the gods are consistent with the traditional stories even as they live in the modern world. While the gods barely see Alice and Neil as people (most think Alice has only gone on holiday when she does not show up to work for weeks), Phillips creates a more in depth picture of their relationship for the reader. Phillips writes engaging and humorous dialogue and has great descriptive passages about the underworld.
The edition I received has a 'Reading Group Guide' in the back which contains an article by the author as well as discussion questions. The book may not be suitable for all book groups however, as there are numerous sexual references and some language.(less)
Terri Clark's debut young adult novel is a fast-paced, thrilling read.
Trinity Michaels has the ability to dream walk. It is ability that she doesn't...more Terri Clark's debut young adult novel is a fast-paced, thrilling read.
Trinity Michaels has the ability to dream walk. It is ability that she doesn't want as it often leads to her seeing the darker side of people and their secrets. The worst by far was dreaming of Kiri the day after her parents reported her missing. Trinity was able to help the police find her but it was too late - she had already been murdered. Her killer, Rafe Stevens, was sent to a mental institution instead of jail. Now Rafe has escaped and he has developed the ability to invade people's dreams and mix them with reality. He is after Trinity in her dreams and if he kills her in her dreams she will die for real. At least Trinity doesn't have to face the danger alone as she finds an unlikely ally in Dan Devlin, the son of the lawyer who kept Rafe Stevens out of jail.
Terri Clark writes fast paced action and witty dialog that keeps the reader on the edge of their seat. The novel is dark and twisted while also containing humor and even some romance. Clark peppers the text with contemporary references that today's teens will easily relate to. Her characters are interesting and dynamic with solid motivations for their actions. While there is no word currently about future books starring Trinity, Clark certainly leaves the possibility open.
Australian rare book expert Hanna Heath has the opportunity to examine the Sarajevo Haggadah, a priceless Jewish book that survived war. The book is o...moreAustralian rare book expert Hanna Heath has the opportunity to examine the Sarajevo Haggadah, a priceless Jewish book that survived war. The book is one of the earliest known Jewish texts with illustrations. Hanna must repair the book so it can be placed in a special display. During her examination, Hanna finds small clues to the historical journey the book has taken to arrive at this point and she is able to learn something about the people who created and owned it.
People of the Book is a wonderful novel based on the real Sarajevo Haggadah. Chapters alternate between Hanna in 1996 and an important event in the history of the book. In Hanna's chapters, she investigates artifacts found in the book. The following chapter explains the presence of that artifact in the book. The chapters are very clearly labeled with the artifact, location, and year. This makes it very easy to transition between times and places.
Although the story focuses on a Jewish text and contains Jewish terms and traditions, I did not need to have a previous understanding of these traditions to enjoy the book. The focus is not on the traditions so much as it is the people who created each piece of the work and how the pieces came to be pulled together into one volume. The history is not simply the history of the book but, as clearly stated in the title, it is the story of the people of the book. Each had their own story and left their own mark. In her examination of the book, Hanna becomes a part of its story and so her personal story becomes important.
People of the Book is a fantastic historical novel. Brooks provides incredible detail in describing the Sarajevo Haggadah and the historical events surrounding it. It is obvious that she spent much time researching her subject in order to provide the most accurate portrayal. She also writes strong characters and dialogue. Overall I would highly recommend People of the Book. The edition I received has a Readers Guide, making it an ideal historical fiction selection for a book club.
I was very excited to receive this book from the Early Reviewers Program as the story sounded like it would fit perfectly with my library of urban fan...moreI was very excited to receive this book from the Early Reviewers Program as the story sounded like it would fit perfectly with my library of urban fantasy, traditional fantasy, and paranormal titles. Unfortunately, I was ultimately disappointed in this book.
I had never read anything by Lori Handeland before and did not realize that her background is as a romance writer. This was clearly evident in Any Given Doomsday with explicit sexual scenes and from the descriptive style. While I do not object to sex scenes in general in the books that I read, I dislike them when it takes away from the plot or becomes a central element in the plot as it did in this book. Handeland herself makes a comparison for this series to the Anita Blake series by Laurell K Hamilton - I would clarify this by saying it is much closer to the recent Anita Blake books in which sex has taken over the story than the original books which actually had plot lines. I am a fan of the early Anita Blake books but the recent ones have so much sex in them (and so little story) that I no longer enjoy reading them. A fan of the current Anita Blake books would probably enjoy Any Given Doomsday.
I thought the actual story was pretty good - Elizabeth Phoenix is a psychic and ex-cop who is thrown into a world she didn't know existed after being found unconscious by her murdered foster mother's body. Now she must learn to deal with her growing new powers while learning about a large variety of paranormal creatures. Oh, and don't forget about saving the world.
If the local library purchases the second book in this series I will probably give the series one more shot before writing it off completely. However, I would not spend money on these titles.(less)
Although I do not normally read graphic novels I won a copy of Holly Black's Kin as part of my prize package from a contest on Brooke Taylor's blog....moreAlthough I do not normally read graphic novels I won a copy of Holly Black's Kin as part of my prize package from a contest on Brooke Taylor's blog. I'm so glad Brooke introduced me to this graphic novel because I probably wouldn't have found it any other way.
Rue Silver's mother has disappeared and when a student at the local college is murdered Rue's father becomes a suspect in both cases. As Rue struggles with her mother's disappearance and wonders whether her father was involved, she begins to see things in a new way. People and places look different as she sees what is truly there and not the normal images that the faeries want the humans to see. In order to save her mother, Rue must unravel family secrets and discover her true heritage.
Holly Black does an amazing job at writing very sparse narrative that conveys a complex story. Rectangular text boxes let the reader in on Rue's thoughts while conversations take place in the conventional word bubbles. The characters' motivations are complicated and Black reveals the drive behind the characters' actions with a measured pace that fits well with Rue's investigation.
The black and white illustrations by Ted Naifeh fit Black's dark story perfectly. Each frame fits with the mood of the characters and shadows are used heavily to convey the unknowing. The characters are often sharp lines and angles with heavy facial expression.
The narrative and illustration work well together in expressing the depth of Rue's emotions as she struggles with so much uncertainty.
Kin is the first book in The Good Neighbors series and I can't wait to read the rest and find out how Rue handles her new knowledge and what happens to her mother. The second book is scheduled for release in 2009 and the third in 2010.(less)
Chainfire is the ninth book in Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series and the first book in the Chainfire Trilogy. At first, I was confused about why...moreChainfire is the ninth book in Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series and the first book in the Chainfire Trilogy. At first, I was confused about why a book would be considered a part of two series but after reading it I completely understand.
The Sword of Truth series follows Richard as he learns about his family history, his destiny, and his role as the Seeker of Truth while fighting epic battles along the way. He is joined in his adventures by Kahlan, who is the Mother Confessor, his grandfather Zedd, various Mord-Sith, and Sisters of both Light and Dark. The initial books detail the battle against Darken Rahl as he attempts to extend his cruel rule. However, there is an even larger threat to the people coming from the Old World. As the new leader of D'Hara, Richard must find a way to defeat the Imperial Order. Each book in The Sword of Truth series reveals another obstacle that must be overcome as a part of the overall battle for the people's freedom.
Chainfire begins with Richard fighting for his life after being wounded in a battle he doesn't even remember. When he wakes from unconsciousness, he discovers that Kahlan, his wife, is missing. However, the worst part is that his companions do not remember that she even exists. They insist that he does not have a wife and that all the Confessors were killed in the initial battle with Darken Rahl. Richard insists that Kahlan is real and that he must rescue her from who or whatever wounded him and captured her. Cara and Nicci begin to fear for Richard's sanity and wonder if the injuries he sustained have altered his memories. As I read the book, I felt Richard's frustration as he tried to convince his friends that Kahlan was real and that he was not crazy. The book essentially follows his search for the truth even though all evidence seems to be against him. While he is searching for Kahlan, the D'Haran forces are facing overwhelming odds against the Imperial Order in the larger battle.
Chainfire is part of two series because it does continue the overall storyline of The Sword of Truth Series. However, there is one main difference between this book and the previous eight. In all of the other books in this series, the conflict for that book is resolved by the end even though the overarching battle against the Imperial Order continues to thread through each one. In Chainfire, there is very little resolution by the end of the book. Richard does find evidence that convinces his companions that Kahlan is real and discovers how she could have been erased from everyone's memories. He also learns what needs to be done in order to counteract the magic that caused the Chainfire event. However, he is unable to act on that knowledge immediately and has not found Kahlan by the end of the book. I will have to read the second book, Phantom, and the third book, Confessor, to see how the rest of the story goes. Confessor is also the final book in The Sword of Truth series.
The Sword of Truth series has become more political and philosophical as it has grown. In Chainfire, the explanation of the magic is complicated and rather confusing. Goodkind did an excellent job at portraying Richard's frustration at being unable to convince anyone of Kahlan's existence, his worry over her disappearance, and his self-doubt as he found no evidence to support his memories. As the reader, knowing of Kahlan's existence from earlier books, I was felt Richard's confusion and frustration along with him.
Overall, I greatly enjoy this series and am looking forward to reading the final two books. The CW currently has a show called Legend of the Seeker which is based on the first book in The Sword of Truth Series, Wizard's First Rule. My husband and I attempted to watch the initial episode but we found ourselves very frustrated with the substantial changes that had been made in the initial storyline and the relationships between the characters. If you are a fan of the books, I would not recommend the show.(less)
Houston, we have a problema is the story of Jessica Luna, a young woman without the self-confidence to make her own decisions. She is tired of her mot...moreHouston, we have a problema is the story of Jessica Luna, a young woman without the self-confidence to make her own decisions. She is tired of her mother and sister interfering in her life, yet she is unable to determine her own direction. Jessi struggles with her cultural identity and finding her place in social and professional situations.
Zepeda writes the flawed character of Jessi very well. So well in fact that Jessi drove me absolutely crazy as I waited for her to get a clue and grow up. She is self-centered yet completely insecure. She is so focused on her drama that she is unable to see the difficult situations that other members of her family are facing. She also has tunnel vision in regards to career opportunities and dating prospects, causing her to very nearly miss out on some fantastic possibilities.
I would have liked to see Jessi grow a bit more a little earlier in the book. The constant drama got old quickly especially since Jessi debated the exact same choices multiple times in the book. While the drama was important for showing the reader where Jessi is at the start of the book, I think more could have been done with the ending when she is finally determined to take control of her life. The results of her choices and new found drive would have been more interesting to me.
The other characters in the book have their own drama as well and it spills over into their relationships with Jessi even when she doesn't realize it. I thought these scenarios were very well written as I could see them playing out in many family and friend relationships. The characters and their choices are really the focus of this book. The actual situations they find themselves in are less important than their responses to the situations.
Overall, I found this book to be just an okay, quick read. The version I received does have a Reading Group Guide and a Questions for the Author section which could lead to deeper discussion of the book. There are some themes revolving around personal identity that are certainly worth contemplating. I, however, found it difficult to get beyond my annoyance with the attitude of the main character.(less)
Eve A Novel of the First Woman tells the story of Adam, Eve, and their children after they leave the Garden of Eden. The story is told through the mem...moreEve A Novel of the First Woman tells the story of Adam, Eve, and their children after they leave the Garden of Eden. The story is told through the memories of Eve and her daughters. Eve recounts the events that led to her and Adam's expulsion from the Garden and also the events leading to the tragedy between Cain and Abel.
Each chapter in the book is told by a different character and they are clearly labeled. I did not have difficulty keeping track of who was relating the story. One aspect that was jarring was that most of the chapters are told in first person but Naava's chapters were told in third person. For me, it would have made more sense to write all the chapters in first person or write Eve's in first person and all of the daughters' chapters in third.
Eve's chapters meander through her memories, which is a fitting method to tell her tale. She contemplates her life and her relationships with her children, Adam, and Elohim. The reader also learns about Eve through the stories of her daughters and her relationship with her sons.
Elliott uses lyrical language to capture Eve's questions and doubts. While Elliott has researched the Biblical story of Adam and Eve, this is a work of fiction and as such, she has taken artistic license with the events to create a compelling tale.
Eve A Novel of the First Woman is a beautiful, historical novel that inspires contemplation of ones own life. (less)
Galway Bay is an fantastic book. Kelly shows how the events of history unfold to affect one family and the impact over the generations. The characters...moreGalway Bay is an fantastic book. Kelly shows how the events of history unfold to affect one family and the impact over the generations. The characters in this book are amazing. Honora Kelly displays a great strength as she helps save her family from starvation, brings her children to America as a widow, and then worries for her boys as they fight in America's Civil War. As a reader, I could feel the strength of the emotions in this book as well as the pangs of their hunger. The characters truly come alive off the pages.
Kelly sprinkles some Irish phrases into the dialogue which adds to the authentic feel of the book. There is a glossary in the back of the book which aids in understanding these terms although many can be understood simply from their place in the text.
Through telling the story of one family, Kelly truly tells the tale of the millions who fled Ireland during the starvation to create new lives for themselves in America. I would highly recommend Galway Bay as a rich, historical novel and as a novel of family. The book also contains a reading guide which would make it an ideal book club selection.(less)
Chloe Saunders sees dead people. After a terrifying encounter with a dead janitor at her school, Cloe is sent to a group home for troubled teens. She...moreChloe Saunders sees dead people. After a terrifying encounter with a dead janitor at her school, Cloe is sent to a group home for troubled teens. She soon finds out that things at the home aren't exactly what they seem. As she learns more about the other residents, Chloe realizes that they each have unique abilities and begins to believe that it is no coincidence that they all were sent to the same place.
Many of my favorite authors of adult novels are trying their hand at writing young adult novels lately. I was very interested in seeing how The Summoning compared to Kelley Armstrong's adult fiction. Overall, I think Armstrong did a fantastic job transitioning into the world of young adult fiction. The voice used in this book is very different from the voice used in her adult novels and is extremely well-suited to her young adult audience. This is also noteworthy because Chloe's universe is the same one that Armstrong uses in her Otherworld novels.
Chloe feels alone and scared as she tries to understand what is happening to her and why. While there are times when Chloe wants to pretend that none of what is happening is real, she chooses to investigate her circumstances and to take action based on her findings. Unfortunately, Chloe doesn't know who she can really trust. Armstrong writes Chloe with strong emotions that the reader can relate to.
I was excited to find that I liked Armstrong's young adult novel as much, if not more than, her adult novels. I can't wait for the second book in the series, The Awakening, to come out in May. For more info on Chloe Saunders and the Darkest Powers trilogy check out http://www.chloesaunders.com/ (less)
Lissa is Moroi, vampire royalty. Her best friend and Guardian, Rose, is Dhampir, a human and vampire mix. Together they ran away from St. Vladimir's A...moreLissa is Moroi, vampire royalty. Her best friend and Guardian, Rose, is Dhampir, a human and vampire mix. Together they ran away from St. Vladimir's Academy two years ago but now they have been found and taken back. Now they must navigate the treacherous social scene, protect Lissa from danger coming from an unknown source, and try to figure out what is going on with Lissa's growing powers.
Vampire Academy begins with a lot of action. The reader doesn't know why Lissa and Rose are on the run or who is after them but can sense their fear of being caught and taken back. This sets the tone for the entire book. Mead does a great job of giving the reader bits of information about the past as it relates to the current events of the book. The reader is then able to put those bits of information together with the current information to understand the situation in the same way that the characters are beginning to understand it.
For the most part, dialogue, description, and action are all well-written. The only confusion that I had was with the first use of the terms Moroi and Strigoi as I did not find them to be clearly defined. The same was initially true of the term Dhampir, although I did know that term from other vampire stories. Of the three terms Dhampir was the one eventually given the most thorough explanation. My understanding of Moroi was that it was a term for vampire royalty, although it may encompass more than that. Strigoi seemed to mean a vampire who was truly undead. The unfamiliar terms did not hinder my understanding of the main events in the book.
Overall, I enjoyed this book and am looking forward to continuing the series. (less)
Kalayna Price's debut novel, Once Bitten, brings a new twist to urban fantasy. Kita Nekai is a shapeshifter, heir to her clan, and on the run. Initial...moreKalayna Price's debut novel, Once Bitten, brings a new twist to urban fantasy. Kita Nekai is a shapeshifter, heir to her clan, and on the run. Initially, her only problem is evading the Hunters that her father has sent to bring her back home. However, things just get worse as she is accidentally turned into a vampire and finds out she may be responsible for creating a rogue shifter who is murdering women. She is given two days to bring the rogue to justice or her life is forfeit.
Price combines vampires and shapeshifters in a way that I've never read before and she does it with nonstop action. Kita is full of nervous energy, anger, and fear as her situation ventures into uncharted territory. Nathanial, the vampire, also displays a wide range of emotions, though his are often hidden behind a stoic mask. Together they must attempt to understand how becoming a vampire will affect Kita's natural form as a shapeshifter. Will her ability to shift return as she adapts to her new life?
I would highly recommend Once Bitten to urban fantasy readers. I am looking forward to finding out what happens with Kita and Nathanial in future books in the series.(less)
I'm not sure what I was expecting when I received Jesus Swept but it certainly wasn't what I got. Perhaps I'm simply not meant to read literary fictio...moreI'm not sure what I was expecting when I received Jesus Swept but it certainly wasn't what I got. Perhaps I'm simply not meant to read literary fiction because I did not understand this book at all. I found it very difficult to follow, with incredibly short chapters and fast changes of scene and characters. The whole book felt disjointed to me. Because I was never able to spend a substantial amount of time in the story with any one of the characters, I never felt connected to any of them.
The description also fails to mention the heavy use of foul language and sexual references which really turned me off from the book as well.
With the hope that the characters' stories would eventually connect and begin to make sense to me and in the interest of writing a fair review, I did read the entire book. Unfortunately it never did get better for me and I was as confused when I finished reading as I was after the first few chapters.(less)
Meg Wolitzer's novel, The Ten Year Nap, is a thoughtful look at the lives of stay at home mothers. Amy, Jill, Roberta, and Karen all gave up careers t...moreMeg Wolitzer's novel, The Ten Year Nap, is a thoughtful look at the lives of stay at home mothers. Amy, Jill, Roberta, and Karen all gave up careers to stay home with their children. Although they anticipated going back to work at some point, over time motherhood and marriage have defined their lives. Each have their own reasons for stay home after their children begin attending school and as the years slip by them, the idea of going back to work becomes more uncomfortable.
The Ten Year Nap is very different from the types of novels that I generally read. Most of my reading is full of action, with a definite conflict that needs to be resolved, and characters that can be identified as heroes or villains. I greatly enjoyed taking a break from these fast-paced novels to read a more thoughtful examination of daily life. As a woman with a professional degree who is now staying home with my daughter, I was able to easily identify with the main characters. In today's society so much of who we are is defined by what we do and people are often unsure of how to respond to someone who gives up a career to be a full-time parent.
Wolitzer carefully examines her characters' insecurities and strengths, the state of their marriages and friendships, and their relationships with their children. She brings out their inner thoughts which many of us are so reluctant to share. She answers the question of what these women do all day when their children are at school. Short glimpses between chapters also relate the influence of the past on the present.
The language used in this novel flows easily, almost musical in nature. The reader is drawn into the lives of the characters through the small details. Initially there is a sense that some of the characters are stagnant, stuck in their routine. They desire more but are unsure of how or what needs to be added to their lives to create a sense of fulfillment. Small changes are often all that is needed to propel the women forward.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. I think it would make a great book club selection as it could spark a great discussion.(less)
Nina Planck is an advocate for what she calls 'real food.' These are the staples of our ancestors, prepared in traditional ways. Fruits, vegetables, e...moreNina Planck is an advocate for what she calls 'real food.' These are the staples of our ancestors, prepared in traditional ways. Fruits, vegetables, eggs, meats, cheese, and milk minimally processed if processed at all. Planck provides compelling arguments for eating this way based on nutritional comparisons.
While some of the ideas she presents for general eating and eating during pregnancy fall quite far from mainstream thinking, she does provide science to back up her claims. The stories she shares of her own pregnancy and how it shaped her diet are interesting. Although there were some aspects of her experiences that I would not have shared during my own pregnancy (such as having glasses of wine), I was able to take away some good information from this section of the book.
Planck lost me, however, when it came to the section on baby's first foods. Essentially she fed her son chunks of various table foods almost from the beginning of his solid food experience. While I do not doubt the nutritional value of the foods she was feeding him, my concern is that some of the foods she mentioned would present a potential choking hazard. I simply cannot imagine letting my eight month old daughter chew on a pork chop! Planck also threw out all conventional wisdom regarding babies and allergies, giving her son many foods before his first birthday that most doctors do not recommend.
I enjoyed reading this book and I do feel that I learned something from it. I think each person reading this book will have to find their own comfort level with the information presented and take what they can use while leaving the rest behind.(less)
The GL Cookbook and Diet Plan offers practical advice for substituting foods with lower glycemic index scores for those with higher scores. Recipes we...moreThe GL Cookbook and Diet Plan offers practical advice for substituting foods with lower glycemic index scores for those with higher scores. Recipes were also created looking at the total glycemic load which differs based on food combinations and portion sizes.
The authors provide sample meal plans and easy to read charts with food substitutions and methods for reaching the daily recommended servings for food groups. They also add interesting facts about various foods to keep things interesting. While stressing good choices in eating, the authors also understand that a severely restricted diet will lead to failure and so provide a great deal of flexibility.
The recipes are nicely organized and labeled by how much time they take to prepare. Vegetarian recipes are also clearly labeled. Some of the recipes do use some less familiar ingredients but others are simply new combinations of familiar foods. The recipes in this book are a jumping off point for creating your own low GL recipes for your favorite dishes by using some simple substitutions.
I think it is important to note that this book was originally published in the UK and uses some terminology that may not resonate with a North American audience. Also the website mentioned frequently in the book (http://www.dietfreedom.co.uk/) as a resource for locating vendors is a UK based website with most information only available to paying members.
Thank you to Mini Book Expo for Bloggers for providing me a copy of The GL Cookbook and Diet Plan. (less)