I'm always looking for ways to increase my daily word count. I loved Rachel's original article on the subject, which makes up the beginning of this bo...moreI'm always looking for ways to increase my daily word count. I loved Rachel's original article on the subject, which makes up the beginning of this book. This is a great little resource, concisely covering her method for characters, plot, and editing. Highly recommended. (less)
Mostly just snippets from the Marquis de Sade. While those are entertaining, I really felt like this book wasn't what it claimed to be. There was hard...moreMostly just snippets from the Marquis de Sade. While those are entertaining, I really felt like this book wasn't what it claimed to be. There was hardly any actual information. (less)
Beneath the Slashings is the third and final installment in the Divided Decade Trilogy, which shows the American Civil War from three different angles...moreBeneath the Slashings is the third and final installment in the Divided Decade Trilogy, which shows the American Civil War from three different angles. They all feature different characters and plots, united by the Civil War as a backdrop, so each can be read as a stand alone.
First off (even though it's probably quite cheesy), I'm from Michigan, and I myself write books in Michigan. This story is set in Michigan as well, so I enjoyed that. While I've never been particularly interested in the Civil War, this story really brought the time period alive. Ms. Isenhoff has become one of my favorite indie writers for her well-paced plots and vivid, descriptive prose. The latter is what strikes me most about her books--you can practically see the ramshackle camp, smell the forest and taste the food that is prepared in the kitchen.
Beneath the Slashings is not just historical fiction, it also contains a compelling mystery and themes of loss, friendship and change. They are all woven together flawlessly to create a fast-paced, action filled story that never disappoints. Even though the book takes place pretty much exclusively in the logging camp, it is so three-dimensional that it never gets boring. There are also themes of young romance and coming of age, which is especially hard for a girl with no other women around for companionship.
Grace was a great lead character, she is at the age where she doesn't really understand her father's decisions from all angles. Fear has taken over her life, as she's lost friends and family to the Civil War both by death and people being divided and moving away. When she first arrives at the camp, she sequesters hersef in the kitchen, and even her patient twin brother Sam can't get her out of her shell. Yet as time passes and she interacts with the lumberjacks she begins to warm up.
All of the characters are well-fleshed out, and I especially enjoyed the Russian cook Ivan and the teller of tall tales, Fiddlesticks (given that nickname for his talent with a fiddle). Each had their own unique personalities and felt real. I like how their reactions to the end of the war weren't so cut and dried; there were conflicting feelings and opinions, which felt more authentic.
I would definitely recommend this book to readers from fourth grade and up, and any adult who enjoys a solid, entertaining read. I look forward to more books by Ms. Isenhoff in the future.
(Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.)(less)
6/13 - I'm changing my initial rating of 4 stars to 5, considering how much this book has stuck with me since I read it. I REALLY got invested in the...more6/13 - I'm changing my initial rating of 4 stars to 5, considering how much this book has stuck with me since I read it. I REALLY got invested in the characters, and Booya Moon and the spooky stuff had me totally freaked out. (less)
Glimpse was a different take on a paranormal series, and I liked the ideas behind it. I enjoyed Zellie as the narr...more(Crossposted from Bittersweet Books)
Glimpse was a different take on a paranormal series, and I liked the ideas behind it. I enjoyed Zellie as the narrator. She's a preacher's daughter who is finally finding her way in the world and growing up. She had a very original voice, was funny and sarcastic and teenager-esque. She obsessively crushes on handsome schoolmate Avery, but their initial romance seemed very real. I loved how just completely awkward and adorkable they were together. I also enjoyed her friend Claire and her sister Melody, who both showed a lot of growth in the novel. I liked both Zellie and Avery's family dynamics, especially in the first half. Their interactions felt very genuine--sometimes they embarrassed each other, but they always had each other's best interests at heart. Her father is awesome, level-headed and funny. He's one of the most well-rounded characters in the book.
Zellie sees glimpses into the future, but doesn't know how to act on them or what they mean at first. It's a trait that runs in her family. I thought the way the author handled that, and the rest of the supernatural aspects of the book like rewinding time, was really unique and interesting. When Zellie goes and finds out more about her developing powers, she begins to unravel a lot of secrets that have been hiding from not only her but her loved ones as well.
The book is told from Zellie's perspective in first person and alternates with Avery's in third. I thought this was quite original and gave the reader insight into what the love interest's motives were.
I struggled really, really hard whether to rate this book a 3 or a 4. The first half is well-paced, with good vivid writing, believable characters and dialogue, and a plot that seems to be unfolding organically. Then all of a sudden the mid-point hits, and the book suddenly becomes disjointed. Lots of what should be important scenes are rushed. Character development is shallow. The ending seemed very abrupt, and I actually was surprised that we were suddenly there.
With Avery, I never got a consistent sense of his character. At first, he's a really shy, dorky boy who likes Zellie, which as I said, I loved. So many times, a YA hero will be some buff jerk, but he seemed real. However, later on suddenly he does a 180. I hated the way he treated her after that, and I didn't want her to go back to him. There were definitely circumstances that affected him greatly, but it just seemed off. Even though their initial crushes on each other was really cute and realistic, their actual relationship was all about heavy petting and makeout sessions. I would have liked to have seen more conversations between the two to break up said teenage hormone fests, otherwise it just read as flat and rushed.
I did end up rating this as a 4, because I genuinely enjoyed the book and it was a quick read for me despite the flaws. The story held my interest the entire time, even while jumping around. I'll definitely be continuing the series to see what happens next. I enjoyed pretty much all the characters and the storyline, I just wish there had been a more consistent flow.(less)
Beautiful Demons pulls you in from the first page and never lets down in the pacing. It's a fast and very entertaining read. I've been wanting to read this series for a while, because of the pretty covers and titles. Currently Beautiful Demons is available for free, but I don't know how long that will last.
I really liked the main character, Harper Madison. She gets moved in a group home after bouncing around from foster care homes, due to getting into trouble for things she can't control. Harper is smart and has a solid head on her shoulders, and she makes for an easy-to-like heroine. I loved the house in which she lives--Shadowford Plantation, it was drawn very gothic, with old-fashioned decor and spooky corridors where secrets hide.
Even though I'm long out of high school, one of the reasons I enjoy reading YA still is the high school dynamics. It's just entertaining, there's really no better setting for soap opera drama. (I blame Buffy for this interest.) You could pay me to actually attend a high school again, but I enjoy visiting them via books. Peachville High is enamored with the Demons football team and especially the cheerleaders, who are a tight clique of the most popular girls in school. Harper makes enemies out of Tori, one of the exclusive cheerleaders, on the first day and ostracizes herself, until things turn upside down.
The plot isn't super original, but it's very solid and well-laid out. There is a satisfying conclusion and everything's wrapped up well in the main story while still leaving plenty of interesting questions that will make me read the next book. Currently, there are four more books in the series with a final one due out this year, so there's a lot to continue with!
My only real complaint is the romance in this book. I am not a fan of love triangles; they are EVERYWHERE in romantic books nowadays. Jackson was fairly interesting, but I wanted to slap Drake, and I never fully believed him as anything but a jerk.
I was surprised by how much I liked Beautiful Demons. It was a fun, easy read, and I'll definitely be continuing the series. I would recommend it for anyone who enjoys YA paranormal.
What I Liked: Alone deals with the difficult and harsh reality of a violent marriage. Even though it made me uncomfortable at times, I appreciated the realistic storytelling of domestic violence. Since I've had experience with that myself, it felt realistic. Sometimes it seems melodramatic when Jackson is abusing her, but that kind of situation IS melodramatic when you're living in. I think she captured the thoughts going on in Serenity's head perfectly.
The writing was clear and descriptive. The story moves evenly and Marissa has a knack for pacing. I enjoyed the chapters that switched to Sebastian's point of view. It was a refreshing change, and it was interesting to get his perspective. I liked Sebastian quite a bit, in fact, especially as the story progressed. The dynamic between him and Madeline was entertaining. For being undead, they brought a lot of life to the story. The mythology of vampires was also unique.
Not So Much: For the first half of the book, Serenity struck me as a very unlikeable character. I wanted to like her, but I couldn't. She didn't have much emotional depth, and she was extremely weak, although I can understand why. But I had a hard time understanding her reactions. I was especially thrown when she found out what Sebastian was, and she freaked out about it. With how much she had clung to him during the first part of the story, it didn't jive. If she was a younger girl, a teen, maybe I could understand. But she's supposed to be 28.
I hate Twilight comparisons, but I couldn't help but draw them with this one--the instant "I love you!" relationship between Serenity and Sebastian, the breathless descriptives, even the silver car that Sebastian drives (an Audi, not a Volvo). This is very much an adult Twilight. The fact that Serenity latches onto Sebastian so quickly, and all of her thoughts begin to revolve around him, strikes me as sad. But, as I said, at about the half point she starts to develop herself and the story takes off. It's just at that point I had lost a lot of interest.
Verdict: A decent read for me. I won't be continuing the series, partially because of my own burnout with vampire stories. But I would definitely read something else by Marissa not involving these characters; there's no doubt that she's a good storyteller. If you enjoy Twilight-style vampire romance, this is a solid choice.
Mike Noonan is a novelist who is in the prime of his writing career. One day, his wife Johanna drops dead from an aneurysm, and he realizes that she h...moreMike Noonan is a novelist who is in the prime of his writing career. One day, his wife Johanna drops dead from an aneurysm, and he realizes that she had been keeping a lot of secrets from him. He loses the ability to write, until he is called back to their lake house, Sarah Laughs, in vivid nightmares. While driving down the road into town, he pulls a little girl out of the way of traffic. That one little act draws him into the dramatic secret the town has been hiding.
I'm a huge fan of Stephen King, he's one of my all time favorites. But I just didn't connect to this book very well, at least not until the halfway point. Normally with his books, I can't put them down, but this one I kept shelving and having to push myself to read.
Something about the writing style seemed unfinished. It just didn't seem like his regular voice. And I didn't connect with the characters the way I normally do; I found myself rolling my eyes more than once at different conversations and exchanges. I think the villains were all well drawn, however--complex, believably motivated, and utterly creepy as hell.
From about the halfway point on, as I said, I got into it and finished Bag of Bones in less than six hours. One major thing I love about his books is his ability to tie the little details together to make a big picture, and that was very evident here. The plot was solid enough, and the ending was satisfying and not too weird, despite the ghosts.
***** SPOILERS BELOW *****
Part of the problem for me was the main character, Mike--who is about 40 and somehow *seems* older than that--falls for the young girl whose daughter he saves, Mattie Devore. There was just something really creepy to me about the entire obsession he had with Mattie. Maybe it's my own personal bias, having dealt with way older dudes hitting on me, so my brain went there...but it was spooky, between the vivid fantasies and the way he wanted to be her sugar daddy. When she reciprocated, it just didn't seem realistic. They didn't have any chemistry, in my opinion, and while I can completely understand why he was attracted to her, their dynamic seemed much more father-daughter than lovers.
Mattie herself struck me as nothing more than a shell. I couldn't emotionally connect with her death, which would have normally been a very moving, sad scene. Every word out of her mouth rang false, and I kept expecting her to be a turncoat or not be as innocent as she appeared.
One note I wanted to say is that I LOVED the fact that the title became literal in the end. I just thought that was a harrowing detail.
***** END SPOILERS *****
All in all, not one I would read again, although it redeemed itself in the end. I'm just sorry I didn't like it more, because I really wanted to get into the story.(less)
The main character in The Color of Freedom is young Meadow McKenzie, a red haired girl from Ireland who is taken into indentured servitude in America....moreThe main character in The Color of Freedom is young Meadow McKenzie, a red haired girl from Ireland who is taken into indentured servitude in America. When she denies the advances of the master of her household, she has to get away to save her life. She sets off on foot, disguised as a boy called Wynn (her middle name), to make it to Boston where her father lives.
In the meantime, due to the Boston Tea Party and other conflicts between the British and the Colonies, war is starting to brew around her. Everyone she meets is taking sides. Meadow herself is on the side of the colonies, as she hates the British for what they did to her family.
The Color of Freedom is an excellent historical fiction novel. The writing contains really beautiful combinations of words, vivid settings and descriptions, and some of the cleverest physical descriptions of characters I've read ("lips that sagged like old lettuce" is fantastic). I literally do not have one bad word to say about this book, it was an extremely enjoyable read.
Along Meadow Wynn's journey, she meets up with a cast of colorful characters that are diverse and enjoyable. For a time she travels with Salizar, a trader with no ties to either side, and later on in Boston meets up with Daniel, a horse groom who she worked beside at the Master's house, and has now joined the side of the colonies against the British.
Meadow soon realizes that both sides are more complicated than just "bad" being the British and "good" being the colonists. Meadow herself is resourceful, clever, and a very strong main character who has to grow up fast but doesn't do any complaining about it, a real breath of fresh air from common young adult characters. Reading about her trek through much of her journey by herself was very enjoyable.
The pacing is excellent as well, and there is always another interesting turn. The historical backdrop fits in seamlessly, and it's obvious that the author did a lot of research to make the book so accurate.
Altogether I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for a good read.(less)
K.L. Going is an immensely talented writer. She creates visual imagery that is stunning. Every word in this book seems carefully picked out to convey...moreK.L. Going is an immensely talented writer. She creates visual imagery that is stunning. Every word in this book seems carefully picked out to convey a thought or an emotion; there is no filler where the writing itself is concerned. But at the same time, not much HAPPENS in the book, and everything that does is incredibly depressing. The ending is so miserably sad that the book left me with an empty feeling. It's been over a year since I've read it, but I still remember that feeling.
This is also a book where I wanted to shake sense into (and/or) slap most of the supporting characters. Iggy himself is very likable, despite his "saint-like" part in the book. But again, it's much the feeling I got when I read She Comes Undone, where the main character is constantly dumped upon by nearly everyone and it's just too unfair. (less)
My Blood Runs Blue alternates narratives between Kristin, a police officer, and Julian, who is both a vampire and part of a security team that keeps w...moreMy Blood Runs Blue alternates narratives between Kristin, a police officer, and Julian, who is both a vampire and part of a security team that keeps watch over not only humans but his own kind. Another vampire named Alex adds narration later on. Things start when a girl whose parents Kristin knows is found with her throat gored open, one of several who have been found in neighboring towns. The girl's parents have a strange reaction to their daughter's death, and seem to know more than they let on. At the same time, two handsome strangers enter town, and affecting Kristin deeply. But that's only the beginning.
First off, the chemistry between the characters in this book, especially Julian and Kristin, and in Julian's flashbacks with Calista, is electric. The sensuality is very, very steamy, and the emotional connections are described in a really believable way. I could actually feel their emotions through the words. As an aside, vampire/human sex is so hot and so much fun to read about!
I thought the combination of vampires and police work was really original, and I didn't know if it would work. But in Ms. Eaton's hands, the idea is handled effortlessly. I loved the juxtaposition of tough office Kristin with her romantic feelings, and it felt very natural and not forced.
The attention to detail of the police work and regulations makes the story very engrossing and realistic. The writing flows very well and is easy to lose yourself in. Also, and this may just be a personal thing, but each chapter is titled with the character's names, which makes it very easy to know whose head your in, as opposed to other books where there is head hopping and you can't tell who is talking.
The supporting characters are as well fleshed out as the main characters, and I could really see them in my head.
My Blood Runs Blue is a very solid and enjoyable 5 star read, and I'm very eager to read the sequel! (less)