Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Book Review: Mortal Heart, by Robin LaFevers

Mortal Heart tells Annith's story, one of His Fair Assassins. While a bit more mythological than Grave Mercy and Dark Triumph, it delivers on all fronts -- the world, the characters, and the plot.

Annith can't understand why the abbess doesn't send her out on a mission. She's been faithful to St. Mortain, and she's proven herself the most skilled assassin at the convent. She's horrified to find out the abbess has chosen her as the next Seeress, which means she will never leave the convent again. Annith thinks there's more to the abbess' decision. That it isn't really Mortain's wish that Annith become a seer.

The abbess has left the convent to travel to the Duchess of Breton, since Breton is on the brink of war. Annith decides to sneak away from the convent and confront the abbess. Her journey is assisted by some unusual beings, and the tension only gets worse after she arrives at the castle.

Sybella and Ismae are both serving the Duchess, so the three assassins are reunited to save the kingdom. It's dangerous and adventurous. And Annith gets her own romantic story line too. Mortal Heart contains some startling revelations for Annith--more so that the other two books, but it only serves to enhance her strength.

Mortal Hearts delves into the mythology of the 9 gods that exist in this world. I think this was probably necessary to understand the motivations of the different peoples, but it wasn't my favorite part.

I felt the build up was a bit slow, but I think I felt this way because I couldn't wait to get to the adventure. I mean, that's what His Fair Assassins  is about, right? It took a while for Annith to really get into a dangerous situation. But really, this is just impatience on my part.

If you like bad ass female assassins, you will love this series. I suppose it isn't necessary to start at the beginning because each story stands on its own. But I think you will get much more out of these stories if you know the background. So start at the beginning with Grave Mercy, if you haven't already.

Can't wait to get this one in the library for my teens.

Published by HMH BFYR, November 4, 2014
eARC obtained from Edelweiss
450 pages

Rating: 4.5/5





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Monday, October 27, 2014

Book Review: Run by Andrew Grant

Run is an exciting, fast-paced crime thriller, but I had a little trouble with the tone in which it is written.

Marc has just been relieved of his contract as a computer consultant at a high tech firm. He's been removed from the building without any of his belongings, including his computer. But what he does have are two flash drives containing a lot of data. He simply wants to use the data to test a new product he is developing that will make him a lot of money.

Marc's wife works at the company also. She returns home and begs Marc to give her the data. The company knows he stole it. Marc refuses, and his wife, acting very strangely, ends up leaving. His house is burglarized that night, and his computer is erased. He calls the police, but they aren't much help.

Then Homeland Security arrives. Or is it Homeland Security? Marc is visited by two different supposed agents, and he doesn't know who to believe. They don't believe Marc either. They think he is responsible for a virus that is on the company's computers and also in the data he stole.

Things just keep getting worse for Marc. He's trying to clear himself and find out what the virus does and who is responsible for it. In the process he ends up running for his life -- a couple of times.

Run has several entertaining twists and turns and definitely keeps you guessing. I really enjoyed the plot. What I had difficulty with is the tone of the writing, and maybe more specifically, the characters.

I didn't buy either Homeland Security agent. I hated McKenna. He's too flippant and cutesy. I never believed he was for real.  However, I really didn't like the other agent either. Neither of these characters, as well as several other minor characters, rang true to me. I didn't think their reactions and attitudes were natural. It was like watching a movie with really bad, over the top actors.

There were also a few "no way that would happen" moments, but they didn't cause Run to lose all credibility.

I feel like my complaints about Run are pretty personal and may not apply to all readers. It's just the feeling I got when trying to relate to the story and "dig in." I felt like maybe Grant was going for some comic relief, but I didn't think the plot warranted that.

The second person ending was different. I give Grant points for originality, but I really thought it was kind of hokey. Given how I felt about other parts of the book, I guess it fits.

I would recommend this book to those who enjoy a thriller with a little technology involved. And lots of corporate espionage. Run is also appropriate, and highly recommended, for teens. It's exciting and may be just the thing for some reluctant readers. You can probably read the beginning and discover very quickly whether you have the same problems as I did. If not, I think you will thoroughly enjoy Run. Even if you do have problems, I still enjoyed the twists and turns very much, so it was worth the read.

Published by Ballentine, October 7, 2014
eARC obtained from Edelweiss
288 pages

Rating: 3/5





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Saturday, October 25, 2014

Stacking the Shelves - A Friend of a Friend

How is everyone doing today? It's a beautiful day here, so I plan to enjoy some outdoor activities.

Here's the book I got this week:

For Review:
Language Arts, by Stephanie Kallos from Edelweiss

There's a story with this one. I know this author's uncle. He's a friend of my husband. He always talks about her books, so when I saw her name on Edelweiss, I decided I needed to read it.

Hope you have a great day. Make sure to stop by Team Tynga's Reviews to see all the participating blogs (and their cute Halloween theme). Thanks for visiting.





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Friday, October 24, 2014

Feature & Follow Friday - Unacceptable Deaths



Alison Can Read Feature & Follow

Happy Friday! Here's this week's question:

Characters, sometimes our favorites, die during books. If you'd get to choose, who would you bring back? - Suggested by Howling for Books

First of all -- SPOILER ALERT for Harry Potter.




I'm sure many people will say this but, Dumbledore, of course!


Dumbledore from The Half-Blood Prince - albus-dumbledore Photo

There are other deaths that have affected me, but I just can't get over this one!

How about you? Leave me a link so I can see your choice. Don't forget to visit our hosts, Parajunkee and Alison and see all the participating blogs. Thanks for stopping by. Have a great weekend.





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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Book Review: Deadly Odds by Allen Wyler

If you like a little high tech in your thrillers, Deadly Odds is a great choice.

Arnold returns home with the pizza he ordered and hears his friend yell, "run!" Arnold runs, but he hears gunshots. Arnold hides in the alley and manages to escape, but his friend has been killed. Arnold can't believe his life has come to this. He knows who the killers are, and he knows why. And now he's caused the death of his best (and only) friend. How can he save himself and also mange to avenge the death of his friend?

Arnold is a nerd. But he has become quite successful at predicting the outcomes of sporting events using technology. His only problem is -- well -- he's a virgin. And he wants more than ever to be able to interact with women. After trying the speed dating thing, he decides to go to Las Vegas and hire an escort to teach him how to please a woman.

This all goes very well. Arnold is happy with his escort. They shop for new clothes for him and eat at fancy restaurants. But as soon as Arnold has a few too many drinks, his tongue starts wagging and he begins to talk about his very secret computer program than can analyze virtually any situation and predict outcomes.

Things turn very bad, very quickly and you'll have to read Deadly Odds to find out what messes Arnold gets into, and how he manages to get out of them.

There is a lot of high tech jargon, but it isn't really difficult to understand. My biggest issue is the repetition. You only need to tell me once about the Deepnet. It was described at least twice, using almost the same exact words. A lot of the technological and secrecy aspects were repeated so much that I felt like it was being pounded into my head. I get that his basement is secret. I get that he has all his programs offsite. There were just many little things that were referred to over and over that didn't add anything to the suspense.

The tension builds slowly and nicely. Wyler pulls you into this dilemma without you realizing it. Arnold is very clever and it is interesting to watch his mind work and figure out solutions. The lawyer was my favorite character. He's a good guy and a straight shooter. He added a lot to the story. Deadly Odds also seems like a realistic depiction of what could happen. I have no idea about most of this stuff, but I believed it.

Other than the repetition, Deadly Odds is well written, keeps your interest, and offers a unique premise. I would have to recommend this to only the oldest teens. There is a lot of sex. Not explicit, but still, the subject matter is mature enough to cause my hesitation. Otherwise, if you like a pretty realistic techno-thriller, Deadly Odds is a good one.

Published by Astor + Blue, October 21, 2014
eARC obtained from the publisher
280 pages

You can purchase Deadly Odds at these links:

·         Amazon: http://amzn.to/1xh54PS

·         B&N: http://bit.ly/1sZrIy1

·         Astor+Blue: http://bit.ly/1uspcim

As an additional note: This is the 250th book I've read on my Kindle. Just thought that was interesting...

Rating: 3.5/5





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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Audio Book Review: Nightwoods by Charles Frazier

Nightwoods is a meandering tale. Good thing Frazier is a talented writer.

I could sum up the important points of the entire plot in one paragraph. But I don't want to give everything away.

Luce, who is the caretaker of an isolated, abandoned lodge in the mountains of North Carolina, has just inherited her sister's young twins. Their mother has been brutally murdered, and the twins haven't spoken a word since. They have also developed a fondness for setting things on fire.

Luce has no experience with children, and certainly not those as troubled as Dolores and Frank. But she does a good job teaching them the ways of her simple life. When her sister's husband, who is also the murderer, is acquitted, he decides to come after the children. His wife, Luce's sister, hid a lot of money and he believes the children must have it.

Bud, the murderer, weaves his way into the small, nearby town and makes a friend in the local law man who he doesn't realize is Luce's estranged father.

Meanwhile, since his uncle died and left the lodge and other assets to him, Stubblefield decides to go see the property he has inherited. So Stubblefield builds a relationship with Luce and ends up mixed up in all the troubles.

The language is what makes Nightwoods tolerable. The descriptions, analogies, and turns of phrase sometimes take your breath away or leave you chuckling. The characters are vivid, and everything that happens to them is described as if you are looking at a photograph.

However, nothing much happens. The last twenty percent is the entire story. The rest of the book is just a huge amount of build up.

Unfortunately the narration didn't help me with this one. I immediately recognized the narrator, Will Patton, from the audiobook of The Raven Boys which I didn't like very much. I just didn't like the book; Patton's narration was fine. So once I forgot about that, I still had problems. I hate southern drawls. I can hardly watch a movie with Matthew McConaughey in it because of his drawl, and that's what this reminded me of. And most of Patton's "S's" whistled. It drove me crazy. So, I didn't like the voice, although he did use good inflection and differentiated the points of view well. The book takes place in North Carolina, so the drawl is appropriate, I just don't like it. It's a personal thing.

Nightwoods is beautifully written. It's interesting, but not exciting. It's a character study with an exceptionally described setting. If you like those kinds of stories, give it a try.

Published by Random House, 2011, Random House Audio
Copy obtained from the library
272 pages

Rating: 3/5





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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Book Review: Black Ice, by Becca Fitzpatrick

While Black Ice tells what is supposed to be a thrilling, non-stop story, I had some problems.

Britt is excited to spend her spring break with her best friend in the mountains hiking in the Grand Tetons. Her friend's family has a lodge there and they plan to spend the whole week. Britt is not excited when she finds out her friend's brother, Calvin, is going along to chaperon. Calvin is also Britt's ex, and she hasn't seen him since he went away to school and broke up with her two weeks later.

Britt and her friend are going up to the cabin first, and an unexpected snow storm hits. They get stranded and hike to the nearest cabin where two very strange guys are staying. They have no choice but to let the girls come in, but it's obvious they don't want to. The fear mounts, and as the girls begin to realize what's going on, it's obvious they are now kidnapped. And Britt finds some evidence that indicates these guys must be murderers. The guys want Britt (with her supposed knowledge of the mountains) to lead them out. It's a test of survival, both because of the weather and because of the men.

This book is bloated. There's just no need for this story to take 400 pages to tell.  It was  hard to feel the tension and fear because I constantly felt like, "Let's get going!" It didn't help that I figured out who the murderer was about halfway through. It seemed so obvious, that I'm wondering if Fitzpatrick wanted us to figure it out.

Part of my frustration may be because I had a hard time believing the story. There are just some major plot anomalies. Just a few examples: Who ever heard of an unexpected snow storm in this day and age? The characters realize that a bear is close, and wanting to get into their hideout. On the next page, they are making out. Where did all that fear go? One character is tied to a chair, and the others are gone for just a few minutes. That character not only gets free of his bonds, but does something else (that I won't say because of spoilers) that couldn't possible be done that fast. Another time, a character is so badly injured that he has to be carried. All of a sudden, he's running and is able to protect another character.

There were so many of these instances that I just couldn't take the book seriously. For a younger audience who just wants an adventure story that also contains some romance, Black Ice might be a suitable book. You have to be willing to just go with it.

Published by Simon & Schuster BFYR, October 7, 2014
eARC obtained from Edelweiss
400 pages

Rating: 2.5/5





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Monday, October 20, 2014

Book Review: Glory O'Brien's History of the Future by A.S. King @AS_King

A.S. King novels are unique, and Glory O'Brien's History of the Future is no exception. She comes up with unusual situations, but her characters are so well done, nothing seems that strange.

Glory is going to graduate from high school. Her best friend, Ellie, isn't because she's home schooled by her mother at the commune right across the street from Glory's house.

Glory lives with her father. They have some issues. Her mother committed suicide by putting her head in the oven when Glory was four years old. Her dad quit painting after that and also got rid of the oven. They only have a microwave, and they don't speak of Glory's mother.

Glory and Ellie found a dead bat that they put in a jar a couple of years ago. Ellie's mother finds the jar in a shed, and shakes it until the bat literally becomes powder. Glory and Ellie are staring at the stars one night, drinking beer, and they decide to pour the powder in their beer and drink it.

After they drink the bat, they can see things about people when they make eye contact. Sometimes it's things about the person's past. Sometimes it's the future. Glory seems to see bad things, but the things Ellie sees are fun and happy.

Glory begins to urge her dad to talk about her mom, and she finds some old scrapbooks of her mother's. Glory loves photography, just like her mom, but she can't figure out what to do with her life. She feels doomed to repeat what her mother did. No one talks about her mom, so she doesn't know if they are alike or not.

That's a pretty convoluted and non-detailed description that doesn't sound like much. I just can't go into every detail that makes Glory O'Brien's History of the Future special--there are too many of them. But the book is very emotional and dramatic. There are many side stories that contribute to Glory's trying to find her way. Suffice it to say, if you have read A. S. King before, you will want to read Glory O'Brien's History of the Future. If you haven't, this is as good a place to start as any. If you've read Ask the Passengers (probably my favorite one) this book has the same feelings and emotions as that one. And, Gerald, the main character from Reality Boy, gets a mention.

What a talented author. King will always be one of my favorites, and I'll make sure to read anything she writes. I love putting her books in the hands of my teens. You should try it.

Published by Little, Brown BFYR (October 14, 2014)
eARCobtained from Edelweiss
320 pages

Rating: 5/5





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Saturday, October 18, 2014

Stacking the Shelves -- Another Favorite Author

I only received one book this week, but I think it's going to be a good one!

For Review: 
Razorhurst, by Justine Larbalestier, from Edelweiss
This one sounds different, but I've read Larbalestier before so I'm intrigued!

So, how was your week? Leave me a link so I can check out your haul. Also, make sure you visit our hosts, Team Tynga's Reviews. Have a great one! Thanks for visiting.





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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Book Review: The Cure for Dreaming by Cat Winters @catwinters

I really enjoy how Cat Winters blends a historical story with serious issues of the time period and adds a bit of magic or something supernatural. In The Cure for Dreaming she explores the suffragette movement of the early 1900s and uses hypnotism.

Olivia has been hypnotized at a Halloween show. Also, earlier on that day, she participated in a demonstration trying to get women the right to vote. Her father, a popular dentist, gets angry with Olivia because he is losing customers because of her behavior. He hires the hypnotist, Henri, to hypnotize Olivia so that she loses her desire for independence and conforms to the norms of the day.

The hypnotism has some unintended consequences, and Henri feels bad. But he needs the money Olivia's father has promised him because his sister is very ill and needs an operation. He promises to undo the damage after he gets paid. But Olivia can't wait. She' been put in danger, since the only thing she can say when she gets angry is "all is well."

Olivia's father wants Henri to hypnotize Olivia in front of a lot of people at a party to show that hypnotism can crush the suffragette movement. She and Henri come up with a plan to convince some people that women should have more rights, while allowing Olivia to escape from her father's grasp. They do become close romantically, but this relationship doesn't take over the story.

I rarely comment on covers, but this cover is perfect. It's beautiful, catches your eye, and is absolutely appropriate for the story. You CAN judge this book by its cover!

The Cure for Dreaming is such a quick read. Probably because I just couldn't put it down. The characters are compelling, and I really rooted for Olivia. I thought she was smart and made good decisions. Henri is a great character too. And the mix of history and the element of hypnotism just sealed the deal. I can't wait to see what Winters comes up with next.

What a great way for teens to learn about life for women in the early 1900s. They will certainly be entertained by this story. Pair this one with A Mad Wicked Folly, which covers the suffragette movement in EnglandRecommend this well-written story to anyone who is interested in historical fiction.

Published by Amulet Books, October 14, 2014
eARC obtained from NetGalley
368 pages (qualifies for my Books You Can Read in a Day Challenge!)

Rating: 5/5





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