Thursday, November 29, 2012

Book Review: A Want so Wicked, by Suzanne Young @suzanne_young

I enjoyed A Want So Wicked just as much as A Need So Beautiful. I just really enjoy the paranormal world that Young has created.

Charlotte isn't Charlotte any more. She has a new life as Elise and doesn't remember anything of her other life. But, in this new life, she still can read what people need, and can't help but encourage them to do what's right. However, she's convinced she's going crazy.

The first "love interest" in this book is Abe. He's such a perfect catch. He seems to know exactly what Elise is thinking, and caters to her every wish. Or, is he making her wish for things? There's more to Abe than meets the eye...

Then, there's Harlin. As soon as Elise lays eyes on him, she's attracted to him. And this attraction doesn't make Abe happy.

There's an interesting character, Marceline, that helps Charlotte make sense of things. It turns out Charlotte is pretty special, even in this paranormal world.

I thought A Want So Wicked was darker than A Need So Beautiful, and I liked it. The sinister characters were even more evil. The climactic ending really had my heart pounding. And, I'm left wanting more -- Young does leave that door open, so yeah!

Young does a great job of reminding you what happened in A Need So Beautiful without a big recap or information dump. And I needed it. As I read those subtle reminders, it didn't take long for it all to come back. Remember Monroe? I really didn't -- but he's back in this one too.

If you enjoyed A Need So Beautiful, you will certainly want to read A Want So Wicked. And I recommend them both, if you haven't started this series yet.

Published by: Balzer + Bray, June 26, 2012
ARC won from Makeshift Bookmark
282 pages

Rating: 4/5

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Book Review: Wild Ink: Success Secrets to Writing and Publishing in the Young Adult Market

I have no intention of ever writing a book. And Wild Ink: Success Secrets to Writing and Publishing in the Young Adult Market hasn't changed my mind. But, for someone who is interested in exploring the possibility of writing, Wild Ink has a lot of helpful and inspirational information.

Victoria Hanley spends time on all the parts of the novel (and also a chapter on non-fiction writing.) Each discussion contains example quotes from popular, current YA fiction. Hunger Games and Pride and Prejudice are used often and many times in comparison. I think these are good choices, since surely every YA author is familiar with these works. But, in addition, many other popular authors' works are quoted.

After discussing the writing, Hanley goes on to talk about editing, publishing, and marketing. Pretty much every aspect of writing and publishing a book is explored. She includes interviews with several editors and publishers. She never makes this sound easy. I believe writing is really hard work (hence the reason I will never attempt it), and Hanley reinforces this belief. The last 85 pages consists of interviews with popular YA authors. I found this part to be inspirational (but must admit I didn't read EVERY word of this section.)

Wild Ink isn't a textbook for writers. It's an informational text that's easy to read, gives a lot of information, but not really deep information on writing. There are some exercises to perform, but I wouldn't call this a syllabus for "how to write."

I would recommend Wild Ink to authors who are just getting started and perhaps need some direction. Or, for those who maybe have come to a dead end and don't know where to turn. A useful book. Also, a bibliography is included for additional information.

Published by Prufrock Press, May 1, 2012
Copy obtained from LibraryThing Early Reviewers
285 pages

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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Book Review: The Assassin and the Underworld, by Sarah J. Maas

It's more suspense and danger for Celaena in The Assassin and the Underworld, the third novella prequel to Throne of Glass.

She's back at the Assassin's Keep and ready to tell Arobynn that she's free - she's brought the gold that was given to her by the Master of the Silent Assassins that will pay for her freedom. But Arobynn has a new mission for her--one that will help end slavery, a mission that Celaena feels very strongly about.

So she waits to tell Arobynn and begins planning how she will accomplish the necessary assassination of a very heavily guarded target. Sam is back in The Assassin and the Underworld, and after some tension between them, he agrees to help Celaena.

There's plenty of fancy parties to go along with the spying and danger--and Celaena finds herself in a serious deadly situation this time. My heart was pounding right along with hers.

After reading three of these novellas, I see a definite pattern. Celaena gets an assignment and ends up almost failing because she is so gullible -- she is duped by people in each of these stories, and ends up in danger every time because of her stupidity.

But...I don't care. I love the sense of adventure. I love watching her relationships develop and change -- with Arobynn and Sam.

I have one more novella to go -- The Assassin and the Empire --  and since I know where Celaena is at the beginning of Throne of Glass, I'm kind of afraid to read it!

These are short, edge-of-your-seat tales that I find entertaining and exciting. It just makes me all the more anxious for book 2 in the Throne of Glass series!

Published by Bloomsbury, May 1, 2012
eBook purchased by me

Rating: 3.5/5

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Monday, November 26, 2012

Why I DNF The Twelve, by Justin Cronin

Sometimes when I do not finish a book, I don't even bother to write a post, but I am so disappointed with The Twelve that I wanted to discuss it.

I enjoyed The Passage, even though it is a long book, my opinion was that it was worth the investment. After reading 215 pages, about 40%, of The Twelve, I decided I could not make the investment.

The Twelve jumps back and forth in time. First we are in 97 A.V. (after virus), then we are in Year Zero (when the horrible virus took over the country) for 150 pages. It was interesting to find out more about the beginning chaos. But, then we jump to 79 A.V. and then back to 97 A.V. In each of these time frames, we are introduced to many new characters and their situations. They each end up having an "event" with the virals, and then we jump to another time.

I think that the premise of this book is to destroy The Twelve. But, at 40% in, we've learned a lot of names, discovered several ways people are coping and surviving (and dying), but haven't encountered even one of The Twelve.

I want to know what scientists are doing to fix this. Why is Amy just off in a convent somewhere? Why don't scientists want to know why some people get the virus but aren't affected the same way? Come on. It's been 100 years -- surely they are doing something to find a cure.

We learned a lot about survival in The Passage. I need more than 200+ pages of survival stories. I also want to know more about what technology is available after 100 years (and maybe he's going to get to that) but all I know is that they have fuel. How do they communicate? Do they have telephones? Are they printing newspapers or broadcasting on the radio or TV? Who and what is the government? What are they doing? I felt like I read 200 pages and got no new information (except some more details about the original event and its effect.)

There is a list of characters at the end of the book. It's four pages long. If you are going to try this one, I would not recommend the eBook or audio format unless you are a note taker -- because you will definitely need to flip back and forth to remember settings and characters.

I love the world that Cronin has created. His writing is interesting, and other than too many characters, easy to follow. However, I felt like the plot for 40% of this book didn't move. The Twelve is the worst example of "second book syndrome" that I've ever encountered. I can't tell you how disappointed I am. I just can't ask you to make the investment this time.

So, if you've read The Twelve, could you comment (or email me if you want to discuss spoilery things.) I would like to know if they indeed do go after The Twelve. Is that what happens? Are any of my other questions answered later in the book? Thanks for any information.

Published by Ballentine, October 16, 2012
Copy obtained from the library (after a long wait!)
568 pages

Rating: DNF

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Sunday, November 25, 2012

Some Blog Love, and a Winner!

I didn't participate in Feature and Follow Friday (hosted by Parajunkee and Alison) this week because I was busy with Thanksgiving, and of course some shopping. The question was:  Are you thankful for a fellow blogger? Tell us about him or her.

As I was reading through the responses there were two bloggers who mentioned me and I wanted to say thanks!

Becky, from Becky's Barmy Book Blog, has a great blog. We seem to have similar taste in books, which makes it easy to comment and converse. She's from the UK and works in a library, and we seem to have a lot in common. Thanks Bex!

Curlypow and Christinabean blog at The Paperback Princesses. They are librarians, like me, and they are looking for books that students will like, so we have a lot to talk about. Their reviews are fun and helpful, and I just wanted to say how much I enjoy their blog too. So, Thanks!

Even though I don't "know" these bloggers, I still feel like I do. And boy, it would be fun to get together sometime (I wouldn't mind another visit to the UK, either!)

I also wanted to take this opportunity to announce the winner of my Nutcracker giveaway. This is such a beautiful Christmas book, and I'm so happy to have the opportunity to give it to Alison, from Alison Can Read! That's right. The same one that hosts Feature & Follow. So I'm glad to be able to give something back to her (even though it's really the publisher that's giving it.....)

Today is the last day of a five-day break for me, and it's going to be hard to go back tomorrow! But at least I'll have plenty of books to keep me company!

Back to Annette's Book Spot Homepage Copyright © 2012 Annette's Book Spot. All Rights Reserved

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Stacking the Shelves -- An Edelweiss Week!

Well, now that the turkey has been consumed, and the Christmas shopping started, let's talk about this week's books! I've not been very successful requesting books from Edelweiss, but this week my luck turned!

For Review: (all from Edelweiss)

Thorn Abbey, by Nancy Ohlin

Right of Way, by Lauren Barnholdt

Taken, by Erin Bowman

From the Publisher:

The Dark Winter, by David Mark
I already read and reviewed this one, after reading an ebook from Edelweiss. When Melissa from Blue Rider Press contacted me and asked if I would like a copy to review, I said, "sure!" But, then realizing I already had an ebook, I told her. But she sent me the copy anyway, so now I have one I'm going to put in my library (as soon as I let my husband read it.) Thanks Melissa. I've linked to my review -- it's a good one!

For Review from Netgalley:
Hysteria, by Megan Miranda

So here I am, trying NOT to accept any more review books and look!! At least most of these don't publish for a while, but I swear...I'm going to STOP now...

Hope you had a great week. Thanks for stopping by. Let me know what you got. Thanks to Tynga's Reviews for hosting. Make sure you stop by and see all the other participating blogs.

Back to Annette's Book Spot Homepage Copyright © 2012 Annette's Book Spot. All Rights Reserved

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving -- Taking the Day Off

If you reside in the US, Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you have a wonderful day with loved ones and great food!

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Book Review: The Shoemaker's Wife, by Adriana Trigiani @AdrianaTrigiani

Holy cow! What a beautiful book. The Shoemaker's Wife is an epic love story. Its frustrating at times -- because it isn't all happy; things don't just instantly work out -- but the wait is SO worth it.

The Shoemaker's Wife takes you on a journey from northern Italy (think: Alps) to New York, and at last to Minnesota. The setting is the early 1900s, and our main characters, Enza and Ciro start out the poorest of the poor. Ciro's mother leaves him and his brother at a convent when she can no longer care for them. Enza grows up in a family that is happy, but barely scrapes by. They meet once, on the mountain in Italy, and then both of them, through different circumstances, end up in New York.

I loved the characters -- Enza and Ciro of course, but also the secondary characters -- their friends and family. This is a story of hard work, ingenuity, and perseverance. These immigrants took nothing for granted. I can't imagine leaving my family for many years to go work in another country, just so they could build a new house. It is the kind of sacrifice that few people make in our world today. Also, the lack of communications really struck me. Photographs were unheard of. No pictures to send the grandparents? No pictures of the new house? And, of course, the telephone (at the beginning of the story) wasn't possible either. Compare that to today's way of life -- moving away from family is still difficult, but at least communication is a lot easier. These characters are so strong, and their strength only increases through their lives.

We experience many different aspects of life in New York, from a shirt factory to the opulence of the Metropolitan Opera. We experience WWI (and WWII, before it's all over.) We go to Rome for a while, as well. Happiness and disappointments, successes and failures abound. The friendships are meaningful and lasting. This is a LONG book. 500 pages, 15 discs. Everything is described in exquisite detail, but I loved every detail, and The Shoemaker's Wife would not be the same story without them.

Given the level of detail, I was kind of surprised that The Depression was never mentioned. I would have thought that period might have had a big effect on people who have their own business making shoes for local people. But, the book is already long, so I can overlook that.

I was listening to the audiobook while driving and almost had to pull of the road because I was sobbing so hard. Just warning you--people die. I am so sad that I've finished this ultimately uplifting story. I'm going to be thinking about these characters for a long time, and wondering how they are doing. They have really earned a place in my heart, at least for a while.

Trigiani based this story on her grandparents, and you can tell she researched it well and added a lot of exquisite details to make The Shoemaker's Wife even more compelling. It made me wish I new more about the story of my great grandparent's journey and ultimate success in this country.

I have to comment on the narration. The first half of the book is narrated by an Italian actress, Annabella Sciorra, and she was perfect. A soft-spoken beautiful voice, that fit perfectly with the setting. The second half of the book is narrated by Adriana Trigiani. I really missed the first reader. It was very jarring, to get used to a new reader, especially one that I didn't like as well. If Trigiani had narrated the whole thing, I think I would have been fine having nothing to compare it to. But, Sciorra was really, really good.

My other comment is on the cover. Who is that? I don't think Enza would have ever dressed like that. She dressed beautifully; after all, she was a seamstress, but I don't picture her in something like that.

Negative cover aside, I would recommend The Shoemaker's Wife to fans of long, historic love stories. If you are interested in the early 1900s, this book has a lot to offer. I would recommend the audio version too, even with the above comments, I still think it is excellent.

Published by Harper, April 3, 2012. Audio by HarperAudio
Audiobook obtained from the library
496 pages

Rating: 5/5

Back to Annette's Book Spot Homepage Copyright © 2012 Annette's Book Spot. All Rights Reserved

Monday, November 19, 2012

Book Review: The Assassin and the Desert, by Sarah J. Maas

Sarah J. Maas has created the most entertaining character in Celaena Sardothien. I just can't get enough of the Throne of Glass series.

I'm really picky about my short stories (read: I don't like them.) But even though these are short, they have a plot, a beginning and an end, and character growth. They are like reading a really interesting novel -- only short!

This time, in The Assassin and the Desert, Celaena has been banished (after her disobedience in The Assassin and the Pirate Lord) by Arobynn, her trainer, to the desert to be trained by the Master of the Silent Assassins. There she will hope to win his favor, so he can write her a letter to get her back in Arobynn's good graces.

While there she makes friends with Ansel, who also wants to be trained by the Master. She has an interesting story. There's plenty of adventure and danger and surprises. Although, I did suspect who the bad guy was from the beginning. I don't know what is so mesmerizing about this world and these cultures, but I feel like I live and breath these characters while I'm reading.

Just a warning -- no Sam in this one, and his fate is unknown, so all the more reason to keep reading! Next up: The Assassin and the Underworld.

If you enjoyed Throne of Glass,  I can't recommend these novellas enough. You won't be disappointed.

Published by Bloomsbury, March 30, 2012
eBook purchased
1784 kb


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Saturday, November 17, 2012

Stacking the Shelves: Waiting on the Library

I only received one book this week and it was from the library:

The Twelve, by Justin Cronin

I've already started reading this one, since there's a long wait list at the library, I won't be able to renew. I loved The Passage and have been looking forward to this one for a long time.

So, how about you? What did you manage to procure this week? Hope you have a great weekend, and thank you for stopping by. Thanks, also, to Tynga's Reviews for hosting. Be sure to visit the other blogs partiicpating.

Back to Annette's Book Spot Homepage Copyright © 2012 Annette's Book Spot. All Rights Reserved

Friday, November 16, 2012

Follow Friday: Movies to Books

Happy Friday everyone! Here's the question from Parajunkee and Alison:

Q: Books are turned into movies all the time! Turn it around. What movie would make a great book?

That's a hard one, because most of the movies I like either were originally books, or a have books related to them.  Since Christmas is coming, one movie that would be a great book is Miracle on 34th Street.  Also, one of my favorite movies is called The American President. I think it would be a great book too! I'd like for it to be more detailed and go on longer.

What do you think? I'm sure there are some great movies out there that I haven't thought of. Looking forward to your answers. Hope you enjoy your weekend. Thanks for stopping by! Please come back again soon.

Today is the last day to enter my Nutcracker giveaway. Don't forget!

Back to Annette's Book Spot Homepage Copyright © 2012 Annette's Book Spot. All Rights Reserved

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Book Review: The Dark Winter, by David Mark @davidmarkwriter

The unexpected events in The Dark Winter had me enthralled through most of this book, and best of all, I didn't understand who the killer was until the very end.

Aector McAvoy is a Detective Sargent in England. He is attacked by the perpetrator of a heinous murder as he tries to capture the man. It seems Aector has been in scrapes before while trying to catch criminals. There's some secret that the police force has burried, and Aector has basically been at his desk shuffling data, after almost being killed. With this murder, and some other strange seemingly unrelated events, Aector is thrown into the thick of real police investigations once again..

Aector is the best part of The Dark Winter. I really enjoyed his character, and how Mark slowly shows us his personality, even with all his warts. He's a believable guy, trying to do what's right, but seemingly he's been screwed by the system. The reader doesn't completely understand what happened in Aector's past, but we are given enough scraps to feel the appropriate amount of sympathy. His relationship with his wife and son adds to the fullness of this character.

The twists and turns of this plot were excellent and surprising. I can honestly say, this is the most unique motive that I've ever seen assigned to a serial killer. I did forget some characters' names a couple of times, but that's really my fault (and the fault of an eBook format, so that I couldn't flip back.) It was easily figured out, though. But this is a rather intricate plot, so you do need to pay a little attention. And, the plot moves, so you don't get bored, and you really don't want to put down The Dark Winter until you have the solution!

I think the secondary characters could be a little more meaty. Aector's relationship with his female supervisor is complicated and malleable, and I'll be looking forward to reading more about it. Other than that, there's room for some more secondary characters to round out the scene. But I'm really being nit-picky here.

Another comment -- I'm fascinated by the fact that apparently Aector and his colleagues don't carry guns. Boy, a gun sure would have helped save him from a few brutal encounters -- but I guess that wouldn't be any fun for an author, would it? (The fight scene is very well described!) Just curious -- do police officers in the UK not carry guns? I heard this used to be the case, but I thought this had changed. Anyone?

I would highly recommend The Dark Winter to anyone who enjoys a twisted serial killer novel. There's one sexual scene that would probably limit this to older teens, but I've got a few in mind to whom I can recommend The Dark Winter.

Published by Blue Rider Press, October 25, 2012
eARC obtained from Edelweiss (but I have a copy coming from Penguin -- so maybe there will be a giveaway!)
304 pages (qualifies for my Serial Killers Reading Challenge!)

Rating: 4.5/5

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