Saturday, April 19, 2014

Stacking the Shelves - One More!


Welcome to Stacking the Shelves hosted by Team Tynga's Reviews. Here's what I grabbed this week:

For Review:

The Chapel Wars, by Lindsey Leavitt from NetGalley

So how about you? What's new on your shelves? Leave me a link so I can add to mine. Thanks for stopping by!




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Friday, April 18, 2014

Feature & Follow Friday - Ideal Spring Break!

Alison Can Read Feature & Follow

Happy Friday! It's time for Feature & Follow Friday, and a question that has us all dreaming of vacations.....

Spring Break. Where would be your favorite destination spot if you could join the Spring Break festivities?


We actually went camping at Kentucky Lake and southern Illinois for spring break this year (about a month ago!) This is a picture from my vacation last summer. It was taken in Palo Duro Canyon in Texas. I'm not a big party person -- I'm at the point in my life where a nice, quiet, relaxing camping trip is my ideal vacation. I do enjoy the beach, and I'm about ready for another Mexico trip too. 

How about you? What's your ideal spring break? Be sure to visit our hosts, Parajunkee and Alison. Thanks for stopping by and be sure to leave me a link!





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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Book Review: The Reece Malcolm List, by Amy Spalding @theames

I was totally surprised by The Reece Malcolm List, and in a very good way!

When you read that a book is about a teen who has to move from everything she knows and live with a parent she's never even met, well, you just expect certain things. She's not going to fit in at her new school. There might be one nerdy person she becomes friends with, but everyone else will want nothing to do with her. This new parent, a mother in this case, is going to be awful, and she and her daughter are not going to get along. The mother's boyfriend is going to be a creep.

Well. That's NOT what happened at all in The Reece Malcolm List. Devan, our main character, doesn't immediately hit it off with her mom, but her mom is really nice, and although hard to communicate with, she's not awful. Brad, the boyfriend, is even better, and tries to be a confidante for Devan. Also, her mom is a famous author, and has friends that are a little famous too, so that adds an interesting aspect.

The new school, a performing arts school that Devan is very excited about, is really great. Devan makes a lot of friends, and is even involved in some romance. I just really enjoyed that Devan was basically happy. At least more happy than she was living with her dad, who ignored her, and her step mother, who hated her. Things aren't perfect though, and that's what The Reece Malcolm List is about. Devan trying to find her place in this new world.

Devan eventually has to confront her mother about why she basically kept out of Devan's life until she was forced to take her. There are a lot of misunderstandings along the way, which I found frustrating, but probably were mostly realistic, given that Devan is sixteen and behaving like a teen.

She also has to figure out some relationship stuff -- with her friends as well as her boyfriend(s), and this is where she really grows and changes and it was very sweet, for the most part.

The whole musical theater aspect was very entertaining, although I've never seen Merrily We Roll Along, I can relate to belting out show tunes when you are alone in the house (don't tell anyone.)

After reading some heavy, dark books, The Reece Malcolm List was just what I needed. A lighthearted, but really NOT cliche book about teen relationships. I really enjoyed this one, and I need to start pushing it to some of my teens.

Published by Entangled Teen, 2013
Copy obtained from the library
305 pages (qualifies for my Books You Can Read in a Day Challenge!)

Rating: 4/5





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Monday, April 14, 2014

Book Review: NOS4A2, by Joe Hill

NOS4A2 is one of the most macabre books I've ever read.

The story is painstakingly described, with lots of details. At first, we don't understand how everything will fit together -- but it does. In one thread, we have Manx, a sinister man who picks up kids in his classic 1938 Rolls Royce and they are never seen again. He is able to take them to another place and time, where they will have Christmas every day.

The other story line involves a little girl, Victoria, who has a magic bicycle that she can ride over a bridge (that was torn down years ago) and find any thing or place she wants. The story encompasses Victoria's life, after she encounters Manx and escapes, and becomes a troubled young woman.

Manx is put in prison because of what he did to Victoria. He becomes ill, and is in a coma for ten years and then....well...I'm going to stop there.

Suffice it to say, it's creepy. Its violent. It's unbelievable horrid. Just think of any other synonym for those words. Hill is a master at creating the chill factor. There are some other main characters that have their own problems and add a lot of color to the story. Is it about vampires, as the title suggests? Not in the traditional sense.

I was compelled to finish this book, and for the most part enjoyed it. But, I really got tired of it. I had to know what happens, but I wish it had been trimmed by a couple hundred pages. It just went on and on, and the level of detail at times was unnecessary, especially for a book that's already 700 pages long. I really don't need to know what the character ate for breakfast. Yet, it was well written. The descriptions are vivid and the characterizations are unique and believable -- even while being unbelievable.

If you want to be creeped out to the max, definitely pick up NOS4A2.  And, by the way, also pick up Hill's other book Heart Shaped Box. It's shorter and just a creepy! If they can handle the violence and disturbing images, NOS4A2 is appropriate for teens too.

Published by William Morrow, 2013
eBook purchased
704 pages

Rating: 4/5





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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Stacking the Shelves - Another Trip Through the Library Shelves


I had a bit of extra time this week, so I started wandering the shelves, and well, that's dangerous. Here's the handful I decided to check out.

From the Library:

The Silence of Murder, by Dandi Daley Mackall

Scowler, by Daniel Kraus

The Reece Malcolm List, by Amy Spalding

Coldest Girl in Coldtown, by Holly Black

Thanks for visiting! Leave me a link so I can see what you got. Make sure you visit Team Tynga's Reviews, our hosts. Enjoy!






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Friday, April 11, 2014

Feature & Follow Friday - Bad, Bad Book

Alison Can Read Feature & Follow

Happy Friday everyone. Here's this week's question from Parajunkee and Alison:

Tell us about a book that you didn’t like and why we shouldn’t read it…nicely.

Panic, by Lauren Oliver is the only book I've given a 2 out of 5 rating this year (so far.) I just really didn't connect with this book.


In my full review, I had problems with the premise (especially the money part), the stupidity of the parents and the authorities, and I didn't think the characters were distinct. Here's a quote from my review: The premise is not believable. Not even believable enough that I could suspend my disbelief (and I'm pretty good at that.) 

I would, however HIGHLY RECOMMEND Oliver's other books. I loved both Before I Fall and The Delirium Trilogy.

As always, this is only my opinion, and I've read plenty of reviews that rave about Panic. But you asked, so I answered.

Thanks for visiting. Leave me a link. Have a great weekend!




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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Book Review: The House of Ivy & Sorrow by Natalie Whipple

What a fun book! I have mixed feelings about books about witches, but House of Ivy & Sorrow was delightful.

Maybe the author won't appreciate my adjectives (fun and delightful.) Yes, there's some tension and near-death danger, but still, the overall feel is fun. I hope that's what Whipple was going for.

Jo, our main character, lives with her grandmother. They are the remaining two members of the Hemlock family of witches. Someone cursed Jo's mother, and she died. Now, it appears that someone is after Jo and her grandmother. This someone has to be another witch -- a very dark witch.

I liked the take on how magic works. If you're going to cast a spell to get something, a payment is required. This might be losing one of your senses for awhile, or losing a fingernail -- depending on how much you are asking for.

Now, there is some gore. Because of the losing the fingernail stuff. And sometimes a hunk of skin. This was pretty much glossed over. The victim is in excruciating pain and in the next sentence we are moving on. I didn't think that aspect was quite dramatic enough. I really don't know if I could pull out my fingernail -- but it seemed relatively easy for these characters to do.

The magic is supposed to be kept a secret, but inevitably some mortals must find out. They are just way too accepting. It's like, "Really? You've got to be kidding!" Then it's, "OK. What do you want me to do?" Or, "What? I almost died?" Then, "OK. What's next?" But, I guess all that just adds to the lighthearted feeling of The House of Ivy & Sorrow.

I loved the characters, especially Jo. She makes some questionable decisions, but in character for a teen. Jo is strong, smart, and determined. A great heroine. The theme of friendship and "friends as family" is powerful.

Ultimately, The House of Ivy  & Sorrow is a classic Good Against Evil story, but it's done well, and I enjoyed every minute with these characters. I think many of my teen readers, and even younger teens, will too.

Published by HarperTeen, April 15, 2014
eARC obtained from Edelweiss
368 pages

Rating: 4/5





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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Audio Book Review: The Confession, by John Grisham

It's been quite awhile since I've read a John Grisham book, and that's a shame. I thoroughly enjoyed The Confession, and am ready for more Grisham.

The story is about a black teen, Donte Drumm, who is on death row in Texas for raping and killing a classmate. He's been on death row for 9 years, and his execution is within the week when the story begins.

Keith Schroeder is a Lutheran minister in Kansas. A man named Travis Boyette visits him on Monday and basically confesses to the crime that Drumm has been convicted of. Boyette has been in prison, and has recently been released on parole. He claims he has a brain tumor and is about to die. He wants to help save Drumm. The execution is scheduled for Thursday.

It's a twisted, exciting, and very dramatic tale as we follow Keith as he tries to help Boyette make things right. We also follow Drumm's attourney as he does everything possible to get the execution stopped. He has worked to free Drumm for nine years, and he's desperate as his time is running out. It's so frustrating to realize the ineptitude and downright corruption of the legal system that has put Drumm in this position.

I realize that Grisham goes into excessive detail sometimes, and can really drag a story out. But he does it so well, that I never felt The Confession drag. I was hanging on every word.

The narrator, Scott Sowers, does a great job with the characters and the narration.

The Confession definitely took some turns I wasn't expecting and I enjoyed the ride as well as the ending. I'm a fan. I just like the way Grisham tells a story. I've read a lot of his books, and am always sucked right in when I start a new one. If you haven't read Grisham, give him a try.

Published by Doubleday, 2010 (Random House Audio)
Copy obtained from the library
432 pages

Rating: 4.5/5





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Monday, April 7, 2014

Book Review: Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock, by Matthew Quick

I have mixed feelings about Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock. It is well written and a riveting story, but I came out feeling really unsatisfied.

It's Leonard's 18th birthday and no one remembers. He doesn't have many friends, and is obviously very troubled about something. As we go through his day, he slowly reveals his problems and his reasons for planning to kill his friend, and then himself.

Leonard introduces us to some interesting people. And, I appreciate the fact that many of these people tried to reach out to Leonard, realizing that something was very wrong, but no one went quite far enough. Well, at least most people didn't. So the teachers and counselors don't look like complete idiots. His mother sure does, though. She is so bad, I had difficulty buying Leonard's story. Then when we finally meet her, I had even more difficulty. She was a bit too bad, a bit over the top for me.

I didn't like Leonard. I hate to say that, because he's obviously been bullied and has had a really hard life. But, he's also kind of a jerk. At many points I had difficulty feeling any sympathy for him at all. But then there's this big reveal and you understand a lot more about how deep his problems are.

I really needed more resolution to the ending, although I realize it was realistic (unfortunately.) Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is a very readable book with interesting characters. It must, of course, be compared to Thirteen Reasons Why, and rightly so. I think teens who liked one of these books, would like the other. Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is about a really disturbed teen contemplating suicide. Those who like those types of stories will certainly want to pick this one up.

Published by Little, Brown BFYR, 2013
Copy obtained from the library
273 pages

Rating: 3.5/5





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Saturday, April 5, 2014

Stacking the Shelves - Another "Single Book" Week


Another week has flown by, and here's the only book that I managed to procure:

For Review:
Deep Blue, by Jennifer Donnelly from NetGalley
Revolution is one of my favorite books ever, so I'm looking forward to something new from Donnelly.

So how about you? What can you entice me to add to my list? Thanks for stopping by and don't forget to visit our hosts, Team Tynga's Reviews! 





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