Thursday, December 18, 2014

Book Review: A Barricade in Hell, by Jaime Lee Moyer @jaimeleemoyer

The beloved characters in Delia's Shadow appear again in A Barricade in Hell and they just keep getting better.

This review is going to spoil Delia's Shadow so if you haven't read that one, proceed with caution. Or just go get it and read it.

Delia is now married to Gabe. She continues to see ghosts, and Gabe is a Captain on the police force. We are still in San Francisco in 1917, about to go to war in Europe. Jack is still Gabe's partner.

The setting and time of A Barricade in Hell add much to the story. I don't know how many times I thought, "If only they had cell phones!" It's interesting to see how people coped with the war looming over them.

Delia begins to see a ghost of a small child that won't leave her alone. She is different than most ghosts because she can get through all the wards that Delia puts up to keep her away. This little girl is also haunting Gabe's dreams.

There is a string of murders, some appearing to be ritualistic, which causes Delia and Gabe to once again work together. Isadora is helping Delia to learn to control her powers and is also pulled into the investigation.

All of these things weave together in such an interesting way, and that's the strength of Moyer's stories. She makes the paranormal seem normal. This is just a natural part of these peoples' lives, and they use it to their advantage, even when it threatens them. This isn't horror. The ghosts aren't even that scary -- although there are some other paranormal entities that are a bit more aggressive in this one.

I have to mention one small negative. There are a lot of details that are unnecessary, especially when repeated over an over. For example, we are told every time Gabe leaves his office that he puts his papers in the lower drawer and locks it. Then checks to make sure it is locked. I didn't understand why she had to say this over and over. I was convinced that eventually things were going to turn up missing from his desk. But no. There were several of these tidbits that just seemed random. Not a big deal, but just caused me to pause at times.

I won't get into too much detail about the murder investigation. We know who the bad guy is fairly early in the book, but the potential danger keeps you in the story no matter what.

The romance is tender -- it's nice to see a couple so happy to be with each other. And there's a new character that provides some potential future romance.

I hope Moyer plans to write some more stories about Delia, because I'm looking forward to them! It's historical/mystery/paranormal. So anyone who is interested in that combination should try A Barricade in Hell. You don't have to read Delia's Shadow, but it does provide some background and it's a good book too, so I'd read it first.

Published by Tor, June 3, 2014
Copy obtained from the library
331 pages

Rating: 4/5

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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Book Review: Swamp Bones, by Kathy Reichs

I enjoyed Swamp Bones, as I've enjoyed all of Kathy Reichs' Temperance Brennan series, but as it's a novella, it suffers in the complexity of the case.

Tempe is on vacation in Florida, but as you can imagine, she's not going to end up vacationing. Human bones are found in the stomach of a Burmese python, and Tempe is thrust into the case.

First of all, the Everglades can be nasty. Swamps, mosquitoes, alligators and now pythons! Tempe gets caught up in it all. Add guns and bad guys, and, well you know where this is going.

The side characters are interesting, but in 98 pages, you're not going to get to know them very well. The case also seems fairly easily solved, although the tension at the end is great.

I had no idea that these Burmese pythons have been introduced into the Everglades, and they are changing to ecosystem. I would have liked some notes at the end of the book so I could learn more. Do they really have these hunting competitions to get rid of them? I've heard the Everglades are beautiful, but I'm going to stay on a well populated path if I ever visit! We were going to the Okefenokee Swamp a couple of years ago, but it was closed because it was on fire. Yep. A swamp can burn.

Swamp Bones is definitely worth reading if you're a Tempe fan. She's her usually snarky, defiant character, but on a smaller scale.

Published by Bantam, August 12, 2014
eBook obtained from the library
98 pages

Rating: 4/5

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Monday, December 15, 2014

Book Review: The Infinite Sea, by Rick Yancey

Yancey does a good job expanding upon the world and the characters in The Infinite Sea, which is the sequel to The 5th Wave.

The Infinite Sea is a story of survival. It's winter and the kids are having a hard time staying warm and finding food, and some are injured. They know about some underground caves that would help them survive the cold, but they have no idea if they are inhabited, and by who. So Ringer goes to explore and find out if these caves will work out for them. Things don't go well for Ringer.

Meanwhile, Sullivan is waiting for Evan, who promised to meet her at the hotel they are inhabiting. She thinks Evan is dead, but can't give up hope and doesn't want to leave without him.

The Infinite Sea stays with the POV of the survivors in the hotel for over half the book. Then we get switched to the hell that Ringer is experiencing. I like this technique. It builds up more suspense, wondering what the other group is doing, rather than switching back and forth more often.

It took me a while to get back into the world. Yancey gives us tidbits to remind us of The 5th Wave, but he doesn't completely go over the past, so I had trouble remembering all the characters at first.

We learn some more things about the aliens. Some of this is a bit confusing. I don't want to give away spoilers, but lets just say the part about "are the aliens here or not" seemed to have some plot holes. I'm thinking this will all make more sense in the third book, and it didn't stop me from enjoying The Infinite Sea.

Cass is still the main character and narrates much of the book. We learn a little more about backgrounds of some of the characters like Ringer, Evan and Poundcake, which helps. There is a new character, Razor, who is suitably ambiguous -- bad guy or good guy?

The tension mounts perfectly. You think things might be improving and then all hell breaks loose. That's the kind of story this is. You are really never safe, and The Infinite Sea is written in a way that won't let you forget that.

The Infinite Sea didn't grab me as much as The 5th Wave (which pretty much blew me away) but it's a really good second book. And leaves you hanging at the end, as I guess we should expect. I can't wait for the third. Make sure you turn your teen readers onto this series. It's got a lot going for it.

Published by Putnam Juvenile, September 16, 2014
Copy obtained from the library
300 pages

Rating: 4/5

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Saturday, December 13, 2014

Stacking the Shelves - Library Loot!

I've been enjoying all the treasures in the library this week! Here's what I grabbed:

From the Library:
The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey

I'll Give You the Sun,by Jandy Nelson

A Barricade in Hell, by Jaime Lee Moyer

The Prince Charming Starter Kit, by Carolyn Carter

Swamp Bones, by Kathy Reichs

I hope you got some good ones too. Please leave me a link. Thanks for visiting and come back soon. Please don't forget to visit our hosts, Team Tynga's Reviews.

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Friday, December 12, 2014

Feature & Follow Friday - Favorite Reading Spot

Alison Can Read Feature & Follow

Happy Friday everyone. This has been a long week for me, so I'm glad Friday is finally here. Here's this week's question:

Do you have a favourite place to read? - Suggested by Liberamans.

Camping is one of the most relaxing things I do, and I love to read outside at a beautiful camp site. Now, at home I do most of my reading sitting on my couch, which isn't too bad either.

How about you? Leave a link to your answer please.  Thanks for visiting, and make sure you visit our hosts, Parajunkee and Alison. Have a great weekend!

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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Book Review: Mornings in Jenin, by Susan Abulhawa

Mornings in Jenin is a very good book. It isn't, however an enjoyable book.

Mornings in Jenin follows a Palestinian family through four generations -- during multiple conflicts with Israel. At the beginning of the novel, it's 1948, the Arabs are cast out of their homes and put in a refugee camp called Jenin. A new Israel is created. The story continues for over 50 years, continually returning to Jenin, which is still a refugee camp.

It's a sad story of love, family, horrible brutality, and lots of loss. The writing is beautifully descriptive, and the reader gets are real sense of the Palestinian way of life.

Mornings in Jenin is unique, I think, in that it is sympathetic to the Palestinians. Our main characters are Palestinian. You must realize, though, that this is a book about individuals (fictional), not about politics. We don't hear much (although there is some) talk about governments, negotiations, and treaties. Since much of the story is told through a child's eyes, the politics aren't clear. And that's OK.

We know there are two sides to every story. Atrocities were (and are) committed by both sides. I did appreciated the POV of the Palestinian's though. Being from the United States, we are definitely bent to side with Israel. And that's really all I want to say about politics.

What I really got thinking about while reading this book (other than the horrible losses these people suffered) was about vengeance. Both sides retaliate over and over again. Something is bombed that kills 15 Israelis. A couple weeks later, 13 Palestinians are killed. A couple days later, 22 Israelis are killed, and so on. I know vengeance is a sin, but we all feel that. If my entire family were murdered, I would definitely want vengeance! But I'd want to take down the perpetrators. I don't understand how senselessly murdering innocent people -- women and children--no matter what their race would make one feel better about losing one's own family. Yet, this seems to be the way things are dealt with in these cultures. I don't get it. Attack the army base. Attack the seat of government. But a school? How can that make you feel better?

The characters in Mornings in Jenin are sympathetic, even with their cultural differences. Another thing that stuck me is that kids are the same everywhere. They need to play. Love is the same everywhere. People take risks to be with those they love. There are many universal truths that shine in the background of this compelling story.

The writing is sophisticated, and there are many characters. At first it's hard to keep them apart, especially because the same character can be called different names. Something like calling someone Mom once, and then calling them by their given name. Only in another language. There is a glossary in the back which helps. If you are interested in this culture, and this (continuing) global conflict, I highly recommend Mornings in Jenin. Sophisticated high school readers who are interested will also enjoy this one.

Published by Bloomsbury, 2010
Purchased eBook
352 pages

Rating: 4/5

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Monday, December 8, 2014

Book Review: Isla and the Happily Ever After, by Stephanie Perkins @naturallysteph

Isla and the Happily Ever After is a melt your heart romance.

Isla attends The School of America in Paris. So does Josh, a guy she's had a crush on since she laid eyes on him when he was a freshman. But Isla is shy, and Josh is out of her league.

They accidentally meet one day, and begin a conversation. Things move on from there (not easily, however.) Josh is a "bad boy" at school. A rule breaker.

Isla and Josh, once they get together, fall head over heels. But all is not easy. They must withstand a long distance relationship with almost no contact. This is too much for Isla. She makes a big mistake.

Yea, Isla is a bit stupid. But, I think it's pretty realistic -- she has insecurities and has never really been in a serious relationship before. Josh ticked me off too. Taking too many risks, and almost losing everything. But that's the drama of the story, right?

Will these two get their Happily Ever After? You'll have to read Isla and the Happily Ever After to see.

If you enjoyed Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door you will certainly want to read Isla and the Happily Ever After. The characters from the other books are mentioned a few times and make an appearance at the end of Isla, though it isn't necessary to have read those books. But why wouldn't you?? Perkins has a knack for teen romance -- she gets the feels just right. You won't be able to put it down.

Published by Dutton Juvenile, August 14, 2014
Copy obtained from the library
339 pages

Rating: 4.5/5

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Saturday, December 6, 2014

Stacking the Shelves - Judging Books by their Covers

Sometimes covers just catch your eye. Come on. Admit it. We are all influenced by book covers. That doesn't mean that's ALL we are influenced by. But it is something. So I chose a couple of books mainly because of the covers...

Here's what I added this week:

For Review:
The Creeping, by Alexandra Sirowy from Edelweiss

Illusionarium, by Heather Dixon, from Edelweiss

From the Library:
The Scorpio Races, by Maggie Stiefvater
Already read and reviewed. LOVED it.

Isla and the Happily Ever After, by Stephanie Perkins

Please leave me a link in the comments to tempt me to add to my TBR! Thanks for stopping by.

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Friday, December 5, 2014

Feature & Follow Friday - Books in the Queue

Alison Can Read Feature & Follow

Happy Friday everyone! How's the holiday shopping going? Anyone stressssssed out yet?  Here's today's question from Parajunkee and Alison:

Do you decide in advance what you read for the coming week or month? Why / why not? - Suggested by Unconventional Book Views

I usually have the next two or three books that I'm going to read in mind. I base my decisions much of the time on when ARCs are released, because I like to read them close to that date. Then I fill in with other books that I want to read. The schedule is flexible, and sometimes I decide to read a book on the spur of the moment. Working in a library, it's easy to have a book call out to you, "read me now!" I usually have the day I'm going to finish a book in mind also -- this often slips because I'm always trying to squeeze more reading in (aren't we all!) and sometimes I can't.

How about you? Are you a planner? How does that work out for you? Please leave me a link in the comments so I can stop by.

Have a great weekend. Thanks for visiting. Come back soon!

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Thursday, December 4, 2014

Books You Can Read in a Day Challenge! - November Update

Another month has come and gone, and while I'm making progress towards my goal of 25, I'm beginning to have my doubts that I'll make it!  Here's what I added in November:

19. Bleed Like Me, by C. Desir
20. Creed, by Trisha Leaver and Lindsay Currie

If you're participating please leave a link. Thanks for stopping by!

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