Saturday, January 31, 2015

Stacking the Shelves -- A Couple for Review

Only a couple new books this week, and here they are:

For Review:
Sweet by Emmy Laybourne cover
Sweet, by Emmy Laybourne from NetGalley
I liked the Monument 14 series well enough and wanted to try her new one.

Becoming Jinn by Lori Goldstein cover
Becomming Jinn, by Lori Goldstein from NetGalley
Beautiful cover!!

Can't wait to see what you got! Leave me a link. Be sure to visit our hosts, Team Tynga's Reviews. Thanks for visiting.




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Friday, January 30, 2015

Feature & Follow Friday - Book Formats

Alison Can Read Feature & Follow
Happy Friday and welcome to Feature & Follow, hosted by Alison & Parajunkee. I hope you had a great week and are ready for the weekend.

Here's this week's question to ponder:

Hard print (real thing) or Kindle/Nook, which is your favorite? - Suggested by The Realm of Books.

I love to read. Any format. However I can get a book the quickest, that's what I'll do. Even audiobooks. I think each format has its advantages and drawbacks, so I work with what I have. Here's my rundown:

Hard Copy Books: It's easy to flip back to read something again or consult maps, etc. They can be heavy, especially when laying in bed reading. They take up more space. You don't have to worry about a battery running out, but you do have to worry about a light for reading in the dark. Most important feature to me: They smell good!

EBooks: They can  hurt your eyes if you don't have a really nice reading device. They are lightweight and compact. I can get many more ARCs in ebook form than print. You can pick out a book and start reading instantly -- no driving to the store or library. You can take notes without "writing" in the book. Also, no one can tell what you are reading. Most important feature to me: There's a dictionary!

If it were up to me, I'd never have a world without both of these formats being available. What do you think? Leave me a link. Thanks for visiting and come back soon!





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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Book Review: The Nightingale by Kristen Hannah

Book review of The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
I adored this poignant and chilling novel about two sisters in France during WWII, each fighting the war in their own way. Hannah has brought this time in history back to life in The Nightingale.

After Vianne's father came back from the war (the first world war) he wasn't the same. After her mother died, her father took Vianne and her sister, Isabelle to a small town in France and left them with a strange and cruel woman. Vianne has an easier time forgetting and falls in love and settles down and gives birth to a daughter, Sophie. Isabelle is sent to boarding school after boarding school, each of which she escapes from. As much as she longs for her father's love, he won't take her in.

It's 1939 and Vianne's husband, Antoine, gets called to serve in the French army, and is promptly captured by the Germans as they invade. Isabelle tries to escape Paris, but ends up on a long, deadly march with hundreds of thousands of people. On this march she meets Gaetan and completely and totally falls in love. She finally makes it to Vianne, is abandonded by Gaetan, and they try to scrape out a living as things get worse and worse. A German soldier is billeted with them which is awkward, but actually helpful since he brings them food when no one else has any.

This is a many faceted story. Vianne's best friend, whose husband is also captured, is Jewish. So you know that's not going to end well.

Isabelle can't keep her mouth shut and cannot stand by and do nothing, so she secretly joins the resistance and eventually goes to Paris. Her escapades get more and more dangerous. Gaetan is also in the resistance, but they rarely see each other.

While the first German soldier to live with Vianne is nice, the second one is a member of the Gestapo and, well, he mistreats Vianne in every way you can imagine.

Isabelle ends up being captured and is sent to Ravensbrock concentration camp. If you've read Rose Under Fire, this should sound familiar.

I cannot explain the hunger and cold and the general cruelty of the Germans, but Hannah had me shivering. What really stands out is the bravery of these women. Each in their own way. The sisters are very different and don't have a very good relationship. When Isabelle threatens Vianne's safety, she cannot understand. She thinks Isabelle is impetuous and immature. But eventually Vianne realizes that at some point you have to say "no." You have to stand up for something, even if you are putting yourself and those you love at risk.

I tend to think I'd be like Vianne. Be quiet and don't make waves. Accept your fate and just try to muddle through. But I hope, like Vianne, that I would reach a limit to my need for self-preservation and do something to stand up for what is right. I know it's difficult to predict how one would react in those exceptional circumstances.

It's a beautiful story that had me tearing up a few times. There is a present-day narrator (I won't say who) that is going to a reunion in France for those that were part of the resistance. She has never told her son, who is going with her, anything about her past.

The Nightingale is an adult book, but I would, as you can probably tell, recommend this book to anyone. I've read many of Hannah's books, but The Nightingale is by far the best. (Not that I haven't enjoyed her other novels.) If you enjoyed Rose Under Fire, or Carnegie Medal winner Tamar, I would recommend The Nightingale. And alternatively, if you're looking for something after reading The Nightingale, consider those books.

Published by St. Martin's Press, February 3, 2015
eARC obtained from NetGalley
448 pages

Rating: 5/5





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Monday, January 26, 2015

2015 EBook Challenge - Link Your January Reviews

Sign up for 2015 EBook Challenge
I've decided to post the linky page at the beginning of each month (instead of the end) starting in February. I think that makes it easier to post your reviews as you go, instead of all at one time.

Here's the sign up page for the 2015 EBook Challenge, if you're interested.

Here's my progress for the month of January:

1. All the Bright Places, by Jennifer Niven
2. As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust, by Alan Bradley
3. When, by Victoria Laurie
4. The Prey, by Tom Isbell
5.  First Frost, by Sarah Addison Allen
6. Polarisby Mindee Arnett
7. A Cold Legacy, by Megan Shepherd
8. The Great Zoo of China, by Matthew Reilly

You can see my progress for the entire year on my 2015 Challenges Page.

Here's a place to link up your reviews, if that's how you are keeping track:


Thanks for participating! Hope you're having fun!




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Saturday, January 24, 2015

Stacking the Shelves - Time for a Library Book?

It's time for a recap of books I've grabbed this week. Not too much to report, but I've been swamped trying to read review books and have some library books I really want to find time for. I brought one home this week and hope I can squeeze it in!

For Review: 

Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen from Edelweiss
I've been trying to "just say no" to ARCs, but I enjoyed the first book in this series, so I had to have this one!

From the Library:
The Winner's Curse, by Marie Rutkoski

Be sure to check out everyone's new books at our hosts, Team Tynga's Reviews. Thanks for stopping by. Leave me a link!




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Friday, January 23, 2015

Feature & Follow Friday - Posting Reviews

Alison Can Read Feature & Follow
Happy Feature & Follow! Be sure to visit Alison and Parajunkee, our hosts.  Here's the question of the week:

Do you post your reviews anywhere besides your blog? Where else do you post reviews? - Suggested by A Great Read.

I post my reviews to Goodreads. I also post them on NetGalley or Edelweiss if the book was provided by that site. I use LibraryThing to track what I read, but I don't post reviews there. I think that's it.

How about you? Where do you post your reviews? Leave me a link. Thanks for stopping by!





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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Book Review: The Great Zoo of China, by Matthew Reilly

To say The Great Zoo of China is action packed just doesn't seem like enough. I'm not sure I've ever read a book that was so relentless.

CJ is our main character. She's been invited to write an article for National Geographic on a new, very secret zoo being constructed in China. After she gets there, along with some other reporters and Hamish, her brother and photographer, they discover that this zoo isn't just large -- it's a zoo for dragons.

The tour guides go through all the descriptions of how the dragons have come to be alive and how the zoo is perfectly safe. These very large and dangerous animals are well under control. They have all kinds of barriers to allow visitors to get close, but the dragons will leave them alone. It's perfectly safe. Nothing can happen. Cue the Jurassic Park  music....

The Great Zoo of China has a Jurassic Park theme, and that story is even mentioned by the characters in the book when they are on the tour. There is an added element in that not only do the dragons overcome the safeguards and become lethal, the management of the zoo is also trying to kill all the witnesses!

Did I like CJ? I have no idea. There is basically no character development in The Great Zoo of China. When all hell breaks loose, she takes over. She is way too cool under pressure. As a matter of fact, everyone is too cool. There is no panic, no screaming, no yelling or harsh words or anything. They all just follow what CJ says without question. No one argues. There's even another character that might be more qualified to lead the group, but he doesn't step up. It was weird.

The action is non-stop. I mean that. There's never a break. I think if the group could have reached temporary safety a couple of times and maybe communicated, bonded, built trust, got to know each other, planned together, it would have been more realistic. But we never get to know any of the characters and they don't get to know each other. I've never read a survival story like that.

The Great Zoo of China is very gory. The descriptions are explicit and almost cinematic in their quality. People get their faces ripped off, and things squirt and pop, and, well, you get the idea. Just be prepared for that.

The premise is excellent. The descriptions of the process of hatching the dragons, building the zoo, and all the safeguards seems very plausible. I fell for it. I even bought the innate intelligence of the dragons and how they managed to overpower the humans. I just really didn't like the breakneck pace where the characters just went from one gruesome, deadly encounter to another. And, of course, CJ was always spared -- usually at the very last second in some very unlikely way.

If you like action, The Great Zoo of China is your book. You don't want to miss it. If you like a relentless, fast paced survival story, pick this up. If you enjoyed Jurassic Park, you will probably enjoy The Great Zoo of China. If you need to connect with characters -- you will not get that in this book.

Published by Gallery Books, January 27, 2015
eARC obtained from NetGalley
416 pages

Rating: 3/5





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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Book Review: A Cold Legacy, by Megan Shepherd @megan_shepherd

A Cold Legacy, the third book in the Madman's Daughter Trilogy, continues the macabre tone and riveting story of the previous two book.

Juliet, Mongomery, Lucy and almost dead Edward are on the run after the events at the end of Her Dark Curiosity. They eventually make it to Elizabeth's mansion on the Scottish moors where they should be safe.  Elizabeth and her estate hold many secrets themselves. Elizabeth is a descendant of the Frankenstein family, so I'll let you imagine what some of these secrets may be.

I've always rooted for Juliet, but in A Cold Legacy I got kind of mad at her. She made some stupid decisions that I didn't agree with. No one else did either, that's why she kept everything a secret. The choices she makes are destined to have dire consequences, and the reader can see this so plainly, it's hard not to scream at her. Now, I understand that this behavior is essential to the story. After all, its Frankenstein. So, I really ended up enjoying A Cold Legacy just like the other books in the series. I was just terribly uncomfortable for part of the time.

All the old characters, bad and good, are with us again. Well, not the dead ones. They all grow and develop (some in very macabre ways.) A Cold Legacy is a very hard book to put down! Things are all wrapped up in a satisfying, if not totally happy, ending.

I highly recommend this entire series, and I recommend you start with The Madman's Daughter, even though A Cold Legacy could be read as a stand alone. But don't do that. The way Shepherd has woven these stories with these classic Gothic tales is brilliant.

Published by Balzer + Bray, January 27, 2015
eARC obtained from Edelweiss
400 pages

Rating: 4.5/5





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Monday, January 19, 2015

Book Review: Woven, by Michael Jensen and David Powers King

If you like fantasy books that are chock-full of magic, you will most likely enjoy Woven.

I'm going to do something I rarely do. I'm going to post the description from Amazon:

Two unlikely allies must journey across a kingdom in the hopes of thwarting death itself.

All his life, Nels has wanted to be a knight of the kingdom of Avërand. Tall and strong, and with a knack for helping those in need, the people of his sleepy little village have even taken to calling him the Knight of Cobblestown.

But that was before Nels died, murdered outside his home by a mysterious figure.

Now the young hero has awoken as a ghost, invisible to all around him save one person -- his only hope for understanding what happened to him -- the kingdom's heir, Princess Tyra. At first the spoiled royal wants nothing to do with Nels, but as the mystery of his death unravels, the two find themselves linked by a secret, and an enemy who could be hiding behind any face.

Nels and Tyra have no choice but to abscond from the castle, charting a hidden world of tangled magic and forlorn phantoms. They must seek out an ancient needle with the power to mend what has been torn, and they have to move fast. Because soon Nels will disappear forever.

I knew going in that this really wasn't my kind of book. There are just too many fairy tale elements. There are witches and ghosts. Almost every item has magical properties. There's a sewing box that can get you out of almost any scrape. Magical rings and necklaces. Gargoyles that talk. People die but aren't really dead. Every obstacle encountered is easily overcome with some sort of magic.

If you like fairy tales, Woven is a good one. The world is interesting. Adhering to the normal fairy tale tropes, there is a kingdom with a princess. And then there's the villagers feeling very far apart from the royalty. The lore is based on the notion that reality is really a tapestry. The Great Tapestry, cared for by the taylor, that can become unraveled. The magic is called Fabrication. The book is full of sewing references -- stitching, binding, seam rippers, weaving, loose threads. As a person who enjoys sewing as a hobby, it was entertaining.

Tyra is a spoiled brat. I got frustrated with her lack of growth, even after this long journey where she has to overcome all these obstacles. And it's obvious she couldn't do it without Nels.

And speaking of that long journey, Woven really lagged in the middle. The journey just got too long. But that may be because I became unimpressed with the next encounter with some horrible magical creature and the constant use of more magic to escape. Like I said, just not my thing.

Woven is well written, and easy to read. I would recommend Woven to the middle school crowd who like a descriptive fairy tale set in a unique magical environment.

Published by Scholastic, January 27, 2015
ARC obtained from Library Media Connection Magazine
344 pages

Rating: 3/5





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Saturday, January 17, 2015

Stacking the Shelves - A Couple I Couldn't Pass Up

Welcome! Glad you stopped by. Here are a couple of books I picked up this week:

For Review:
The Uninvited, by Cat Winters from Edelweiss

Bone Gap, by Laura Ruby from Edelweiss

Hope you got some good stuff this week. Let me know in the comments. Don't forget to visit our hosts, Team Tynga's Reviews. See you soon!





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