I was really surprised to find this book on my doorstep. I must have deleted the e-mail telling me I'd won it through FirstReads. This is officially t...moreI was really surprised to find this book on my doorstep. I must have deleted the e-mail telling me I'd won it through FirstReads. This is officially the only paper book I've read all the way through since I got my Nook HD last Christmas.
This Dark Road to Mercy is a short novel about two girls in the foster care system who are taken by their father who had given up all legal rights to them. There is danger and intrigue. Easter Quillby is among the best child narrators of an adult novel I've read. She's smart and has been through a lot, but she's still a child and perceives the world as a 12 year old. Wiley Cash does a great job of capturing her voice. Less convincing were the chapters narrated by Pruitt, but they were important for the story.
Although short, the story was rich and compelling. It had to be to keep my interest in a year dominated by audiobooks and ebooks.(less)
I really enjoyed Railsea. I was a bit surprised that it was a young adult novel. I didn't figure that out from the description. That said, I thought i...moreI really enjoyed Railsea. I was a bit surprised that it was a young adult novel. I didn't figure that out from the description. That said, I thought it was a great book for adults as well as teens. In fact, it may also be the perfect book for those of you who are trying to find good books for those troublesome 8-10 year old kids who read at a high school level. I know how hard it is to find books for advanced readers that aren't inappropriate. This book is a great adventure for everybody.(less)
When I signed up for this book on the FirstReads giveaway, I had no idea I was signing up for an audiobook. I only discovered this upon receiving a bo...moreWhen I signed up for this book on the FirstReads giveaway, I had no idea I was signing up for an audiobook. I only discovered this upon receiving a box with not one, but five sets of CDs. I quickly learned how to import the CDs into iTunes to listen on my iPod. My daughter, two of her friends and the local library will all benefit from the extra copies.
I normally don't like non-fiction that has too much author participation and I'm not a fan of memoirs. I also usually have difficulty with non-fiction audiobooks. This book is part memoir and part analysis of French vs. American parenting. Despite the prominence of the author's own experience, I found it to be quite entertaining. The narration is very good and the narrator is clearly familiar with the French language. (She does suck at English accents though.) There were parts that literally had me laughing out loud. That's quite an accomplishment in a book about parenting.
I highly recommend this book to all young parents, soon-to-be parents, and even those who are done with parenting. It's fun and informative.(less)
It looks like this book that I won through FirstReads is going to cost me a lot of money. It's the second installment of a series and does not stand o...moreIt looks like this book that I won through FirstReads is going to cost me a lot of money. It's the second installment of a series and does not stand on its own. Therefore, I had to get the first book before I could read this. (Fortunately, it is independent of the earlier Paksennarion series and you don't have to read that first.) That first book, Oath of Fealty, didn't really end. It just stopped. The same applies to this one. My dilemma now is, do I go ahead and get the third book now? Or, do I wait for it to be released in paperback? Or, do I hope to grab a copy at the library if it's checked in when I go?
Elizabeth Moon has a way of taking subgenres that I don't particularly like and making them completely engrossing. What she did for me with military space fiction in the Vatta's War series, she's done with the massive medieval fantasy subgenre in Paladin's Legacy. Now, I thought that this series was just going to be a trilogy. However, I read a review on Audible that said it was going to be 4-5 books long. That's a bit upsetting because one of the reasons I don't get involved in a lot of series is because a trilogy is about as much as I can handle unless each book is fairly self-contained.
I give this book four stars because it is a good story and well-told. I really cared about the characters and what was happening to them. The character development was excellent. It was easy to follow what was happening and to differentiate the characters and locations. It only lost a star because it didn't have a real beginning or a real ending. (less)
The Vampire Empire series is a bit difficult to classify. It's a steampunk-alternate history-romance-vampire story. It's got a pair of main characters...moreThe Vampire Empire series is a bit difficult to classify. It's a steampunk-alternate history-romance-vampire story. It's got a pair of main characters who are really engaging. However, the other characters all seem to be plugged into stereotypes. That's okay because most of this story focuses on Greyfriar and Princess Adele. (Yes, it has a spunky princess.) It's a fun, light read that starts with action in the first chapter and keeps it up throughout. I really liked that it wasn't about sex. I'm sure that will come in later volumes, but it would have just spoiled this one.
I did not win this book through FirstReads, but the authors sent it to me anyway along with the copy of The Rift Walker that I did win. I'm really happy about it, because I thought I'd have to buy a copy of this one. (less)
I guess I'm going to have to read the first one before this comes in.
1/9/12--How cool is this? I was very reluctant to buy the first book in the trilo...moreI guess I'm going to have to read the first one before this comes in.
1/9/12--How cool is this? I was very reluctant to buy the first book in the trilogy on my Nook. However, when I got the book I won today, I found the authors included the first book too and both copies are signed. I'm very happy right now.(less)
I was a little worried when I got this that I might not be able to follow it because I hadn't read World Made by Hand....moreI won this through First Reads.
I was a little worried when I got this that I might not be able to follow it because I hadn't read World Made by Hand. Fortunately, this is one of those sequels that completely stands alone. It's a cozy post-apocalyptic story in which a boy runs away, gets tied up with a crazy bandit named Billy Bones, several people meet a mysterious woman, and a band of Jesus freaks really are freaks. It had a very old-fashioned feel to it, kind of like Alas, Babylon or Earth Abides. However, it also was clearly a book for our time. The apocalypse was a slow one. It's the kind that seems to be trending right now. The world goes backwards as the oil supply gets cut off, electricity is no longer being generated, and disease has taken a chunk of the population. However, the fall of American civilization is just something that's happened and people go on as best they can. Just as in any period in history, there are some real creeps out there, but most of the people are good. I really enjoyed this book and have downloaded the audiobook of World Made by Hand because I want more.(less)
It’s really hard to review a book that turned out not to be the book you thought you were reading. I knew that this novel was about Ko Phi Phi, an isl...moreIt’s really hard to review a book that turned out not to be the book you thought you were reading. I knew that this novel was about Ko Phi Phi, an island that was decimated in the 2004 Indonesian tsunami. It’s part of the blurb and part of the author’s introduction. So, I kept waiting for that darned wave. Unlike the characters, I knew it was coming. About halfway through, I looked up the date that the tsunami occurred so I would know how close it was. I grew quite impatient for the devastation. I finished reading it as I was getting my hair colored and my stylist asked me about it. I described it and showed her the page where the tsunami actual occurred. She exclaimed that it was just like the movie “Titanic”. She said her husband spent the whole movie wondering when the ship was going to sink. I have to say that she is absolutely correct in the comparison. Like “Titanic”, this book is about creating characters that really grab you and make you care. It sets a stage that makes you feel like you’re there and that you don’t want to see destroyed. You know there’s going to be a tsunami. You know that people will die. The question becomes who and how. It also has romance like “Titanic” did.
“Cross Currents” is a beautifully written novel. It wasn’t the novel I expected, but it was still evocative and satisfying.
There seem to be quite a few books about Count Dracula lately. Maybe the popularity of vampires is making people re-visit the original popular vampire...moreThere seem to be quite a few books about Count Dracula lately. Maybe the popularity of vampires is making people re-visit the original popular vampire. Dracula in Love is far, far better than Dracula the Un-Dead and less boring than The Historian. It's got plenty of mildly graphic sex and sexual fantasy for those who like that kind of thing, but isn't so over the top that it's gulp-inducing for those who don't. My biggest complaint is the way it twists Bram Stoker's story and puts a completely ridiculous interpretation on Dracula's origins and why he's obsessed with Mina. It starts out pretty good, but really stretched my suspension of disbelief towards the end.
Fortunately, I won this book through FirstReads because it really would have been only worth the price of a mass-market paperback.(less)
I recently listened to I'd Know You Anywhere and really liked Lippman's style. I was thrilled to have won this through FirstReads. I just finished rea...moreI recently listened to I'd Know You Anywhere and really liked Lippman's style. I was thrilled to have won this through FirstReads. I just finished reading it and realized that it's not even due to be released for another four days.
I tend to take a book with me to work to read at lunchtime. This is one that I had to leave at home because I knew that I wouldn't get any work done if I took it with me. The past and present story lines mesh together so well and nothing is as it seems.
I really like some of Lippman's narrative choices here. For some of the past scenes, she used the first person plural viewpoint. It's an interesting choice because the "we" is five kids, but you never know which one is narrating. It's as if they are narrating together as a third party. I don't even think I can explain it right, but it really works. I like how she tells the story from a variety of angles: the children as children, the children as adults, the parents when the children are young, and the parents when the children are middle-aged. It shows how every viewpoint is partly right and partly wrong.
I couldn't put this book down and I'm really looking forward to reading more of Lippman's work.(less)
I've been having trouble with my FirstReads wins lately. I've received some great looking books, but I just haven't been able to focus enough to finis...moreI've been having trouble with my FirstReads wins lately. I've received some great looking books, but I just haven't been able to focus enough to finish one. However, Don't Breathe a Word turned out to be just the ticket for my inattentiveness. There is no way I can describe this book without giving chunks of it away. It really defies genre classification. It's a bit gothic, a bit thriller, a bit fantasy, and a bit horror. One of the best things about it is the ambiguity, especially with the ending. While it may have had some gaping plot holes and some major flaws, it was a real page-turner that held my interesting. I may have to check out more books by this author.(less)
When I won this book through FirstReads, I thought it could be good or it could be cheesy. It's a bit of both. For a smart woman, Troy Chance makes so...moreWhen I won this book through FirstReads, I thought it could be good or it could be cheesy. It's a bit of both. For a smart woman, Troy Chance makes some really stupid choices. While it was really brave of her to jump off a ferry to save a child she sees fall into Lake Champlain from another ferry, it was really stupid of her to take the child home rather than calling 911. From there, the story gets more and more implausible. Yet...I couldn't put it down. I've been in kind of a reading slump lately, jumping from book to book and having a hard time finishing any. Learning to Swim only took a few days to read and gave me a respite I needed from the heavy science fiction and fantasy I've been reading lately.
I will give credit where credit is due. The story was quite suspenseful and had some twists that I never saw coming. I really appreciated that (view spoiler)[the author didn't take the easy route with the romantic aspect. Troy doesn't get a happily ever after ending with the boy's father. Rather, she learns something about herself and about what she really wants out of life. I would really like to see her end up with Detective Jameson instead of Phillipe, and that is an open possibility. (hide spoiler)] (Aren't these spoiler tags great?)
I recommend this for anyone looking for a quick, escapist read.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Tor put up several of Stephen Hunt's novels on FirstReads. I signed up for all of them because they sounded so good. I won this one and I'll probably...moreTor put up several of Stephen Hunt's novels on FirstReads. I signed up for all of them because they sounded so good. I won this one and I'll probably end up buying the rest if I like it as much as I expect to.(less)
Looks like I can take this off my Nook wish list since I just won it through FirstReads. I've been hearing about this on a few of the book podcasts I...moreLooks like I can take this off my Nook wish list since I just won it through FirstReads. I've been hearing about this on a few of the book podcasts I listen to and it's supposed to be excellent.(less)
I entered two giveaways for this book, one through FirstReads and one from the publisher's website. I won the FirstReads one and am hoping I don't end...moreI entered two giveaways for this book, one through FirstReads and one from the publisher's website. I won the FirstReads one and am hoping I don't end up with two. Isn't this title terrific?
After reading the 20 page introduction and the first 3 chapters, I decided that this just isn't my kind of book. I got suckered in by a terrific title and great cover. The blurb sounded pretty good too. However, I'm just not that into memoirs about middle-aged women (of which I am one) who feel a need to zip off to some Third World country in search of self-realization. When the 40-something woman sound like she's 18, I find it pretty annoying. I really didn't have the patience for the text messages with the handsome stranger or the exclamation points when she describes arriving in Bhutan. When she started talking about how she was burned out on media, even though she was in Bhutan to help with their new radio station, I just gave up. I have too many books to read to spend my time on something that just isn't my taste.(less)
When I won this book through FirstReads, I had no idea how it would be. From the blurb, it sounded kind of weird and depressing. Well, it is weird and...moreWhen I won this book through FirstReads, I had no idea how it would be. From the blurb, it sounded kind of weird and depressing. Well, it is weird and depressing. It's also very well-done.
Danny Shapiro's mom is sick. She has a heart problem that was aggravated by Danny's birth. His dad yells at him for not going to bed and forces him in to the bathroom to lance his zits on a semi-regular basis. Danny's only two friends have grown away from him. So, he keeps a journal of his life as a UFO investigator. His journal is the ultimate in escapism. The scary things he writes about parallel what is happening in his real life. As his mother grows more and more ill, the journal gets more intense.
I'm never really clear on whether Danny believes the story he's writing in his journal. I don't know if Julian and Rochelle are real people or if they just symbolize the two friends he no longer has. The author did a great job of blurring the line between reality and imagination. His use of symbolism is sometimes subtle and sometimes obvious. I liked the way he made Danny's fantasy seem like the reality and his reality seem like an intrusion.
I worry when a book gets a lot of pre-publication hype. Since I won A Discovery of Witches through FirstReads, I figured I wouldn't be out anything if...moreI worry when a book gets a lot of pre-publication hype. Since I won A Discovery of Witches through FirstReads, I figured I wouldn't be out anything if it was a piece of crap. Fortunately, it was a really good book that kept me up late at night...just one more chapter.
Now, I am going to be perfectly honest with you. This is a kissing book. I'm not usually a fan of kissing books, but this delivers so much more. The characters are smart, extremely smart. The main character is a witch named Diana who wants to be a historian instead of a witch. She's spending the year as a professor at Oxford so she can study their alchemical texts. When she finished the year, she'll go back to her professorship at Yale. Her love interest is a vampire named Matthew who is a microbiologist. He knew the alchemists she's studying. He also knew Charles Darwin. In their world, there are 4 species of people: humans, witches, vampires, and daemons. This novel strives to make each type of person very believable. The author works science and ethics into her story with grace. She does a fantastic job of making everything realistic and has clearly thought through the implications of everything.
My only complaint is that the book ended with an obvious setup for a sequel. I don't like it when that happens, especially with a new release by a new author. When am I going to get the sequel?(less)
I won Stay With Me through FirstReads. I'm really torn between giving it 3 stars and giving it 4. I'm going to go ahead and put 4 because it did keep...moreI won Stay With Me through FirstReads. I'm really torn between giving it 3 stars and giving it 4. I'm going to go ahead and put 4 because it did keep me turning pages and I really cared about the characters. The premise is really interesting. Five very young children are found alone on a luxury fishing boat in Puerto Rico after a hurricane. They are all too young to talk and can't tell their rescuers their names or what happened. Although they are adopted by families all over the U.S., they remain in touch and consider themselves to be siblings. When the oldest develops a rare, fatal brain tumor, he starts to access his earliest memories. That causes all kind of issues among the siblings. Like I said, it kept me turning pages because I just had to find out how they ended up on that boat.
The novel does have some flaws. It has a lot of improbable situations. Unfortunately, I can't get into them without spoiling the book. It was also a little too much like an Eighties movie where a group of people in their early thirties bound by family ties or friendship get together and spend more time dealing with issues than enjoying each other's company. Despite the flaws, I did enjoy Stay With Me quite a lot.(less)
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand was a slow start for me. It took ages to get through the first couple of chapters. Major Pettigrew is an old-school Brit. He served in the army out of a sense of duty. He lives in a cottage that's been in his family for generations. He is a widower with a son whose values he just can't understand. One day, the local shopkeeper comes to his door to collect for the paperboy who is sick. She ends up fixing the Major a cup of tea and they spend a bit of time talking. Eventually, their acquaintance grows into friendship followed by love.
I ended up liking Major Pettigrew and the book much more than I thought at first. Despite the attitudes of his provincial town, Major Pettigrew is quite accepting of other people's cultures. While his neighbors see Mrs. Ali, an Oxford-born woman of Pakistani descent, as a foreigner and underclass, he sees her a a beautiful, intelligent woman. Both have lost their beloved spouses and really aren't interested in a romance; it just develops naturally.
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand really sucked me in with its little dramas. Will the Major be able to reunite his father's pair of Churchill rifles? Just how terrible will the dance turn out? Will his son Roger ever stop his success-seeking ways? Will the Major ever realize that he loves Mrs. Ali and tell her?
With considerable skill, Simonson reveals bits of her characters' personalities slowly until each one is completely fleshed out. If I belonged to a real-life book club, I'd definitely recommend this book because it deals with so many different ideas and topics that there would be plenty to talk about. (less)
This book is even fluffier than the first book in the series, Elvis and the Dearly Departed. Its silliness wore thin for me. I think I might have been...moreThis book is even fluffier than the first book in the series, Elvis and the Dearly Departed. Its silliness wore thin for me. I think I might have been okay if it had been a mass-market paperback, but it was a $22.00 hardback. Thank goodness I won it through FirstReads. I can't imagine why the publisher thought it was a good idea to release it in hardback. Even more shocking, the Nook version is $13.20. Why? It's okay, but even if I really loved the Southern chick-lit mystery genre, I'd be hard pressed to justify spending that kind of money for something so short and fluffy. The book wasn't bad, I probably would have given it 3 stars if I hadn't been so ticked about the format.
I just laughed when I got the e-mail saying I had won this through FirstReads. I read the first book in the series a few weeks ago because it was offered free for the Nook. My mom wanted to borrow it, but I didn't have a paper version to share. I told her that it was good for a free book, but I wouldn't spend money on it. So, I'm getting another installment that I don't need to spend money on. Mom will be happy.
I think I'm turning into a crotchety old lady. I was really looking forward to reading A Secret Kept. I had read a preview and really liked it. I love...moreI think I'm turning into a crotchety old lady. I was really looking forward to reading A Secret Kept. I had read a preview and really liked it. I loved Sarah's Key by the same author. I'm sad to say that I was disappointed.
I'll start with the positive. De Rosnay does a fabulous job of setting the scene. I've never been to France, but I was able to imagine what it was like living in Paris and visiting a resort island with a road that gets submerged at high tide. De Rosnay also gets people right. Each of her characters, especially Tonio's insufferable children, seems quite real. It seems that French teenagers are very much like American teens.
So, that brings me to the reasons why I gave the book three stars instead of four. (I'm trying to give fewer books 5 stars these days, so 4 stars means it's really good.) First, Antonio was such a spineless girly-man. He just let stuff happen to him and rarely stood up for himself. He was the king of non-confrontation. I just wanted to smack him and say, "Man up, dude." Even in relationships, the women take the lead. And, surprise, he's unhappy.
The other thing that I didn't like was that the mystery part of the story wasn't very mysterious. We know pretty early on that the mother was having an affair before she suddenly died. The only mystery there was who her lover was. Well, that secret is revealed halfway through the book. Then, we think that there's another, bigger secret that's part of the secret that was just revealed. But, that second secret turns out to be a big nothing. (How's that for not spoiling the plot?)
Ultimately, I think the thing that disappointed me most was that I was expecting a mystery about a big, dark family secret, and I was expecting it to follow mystery conventions in a literary way. However, this is entirely a book about feelings and about the ways in which people don't communicate with those to whom they are closest. I just wasn't in the right frame of mind for a feelings book.
I do need to thank Sarah at MacMillan for sending out a second copy of this book for me. I won it through FirstReads on Oct. 1 and realized in early January that it was way past due. Sarah was very helpful. (less)