Monday, December 31, 2012

Book Review: The Sin-Eater's Confession, by Ilsa J. Bick @ilsajbick

Bick has done it again with The Sin-Eater's Confession. The book had me riveted throughout the entire story.

I enjoyed the way The Sin-Eater's Confession was written. We learn that our main character (I don't know his name, and I'm not sure it was ever used) is in Afghanistan. He's ready to volunteer for a mission from which it is quite likely he won't survive. But first, he has to get something off his chest. He's been hiding a secret that is eating him up, and he's going to write a letter and tell us about it.

He was a straight-A student and had applied to attend Yale. He wanted to be a doctor. He worked two jobs, volunteered in the local ER, studied, took a couple of college courses, and didn'tt have much time for anything else. But when a friend dies, he helped out on the family's dairy farm and ends up taking his friend's little brother, Jimmy, under his wing.

This leads to all kinds of problems, and I really don't want to go into too much detail. Jimmy does something to make his parents so mad that they take him out of school, and forbid our main character from coming near him. Jimmy has also ruined the reputation of our main character, making everyone think they might have had a homosexual relationship.

Things spiral out of control. A most interesting aspect is living this through the eyes of our main character. He's questioning his relationship with Jimmy just like everyone else. He's never had a relationship with a girl, so does that mean he's gay? The inner dialog is realistic and heartbreaking.

Everything gets worse when he witnesses some violence and does nothing about it. We see him struggling to decide what to do (and making some really stupid choices) and because of this inner turmoil the rest of his life pretty much falls apart.

I couldn't put The Sin-Eater's Confession down. I was riveted, wondering what he would decide to do. Wondering how he ended up so far from his original path. The family dynamic is excellent. His parents are caring, but not perfect. He doesn't have many friends, but he uses them effectively. The town was, unfortunately, probably typical of a small town. "We don't have any gays here." And the pastor and his followers are creepy and awful.

The Sin-Eater's Confession uses a somewhat dramatic situation to describe absolutely realistic reactions. Bick has a background in psychology, and it is much evident in The Sin-Eater's Confession. Fans of realistic fiction won't want to pass this one up.

Published by Carolrhoda Books, January 1, 2013
eBook obtained from NetGalley
320 pages

Rating: 5/5





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End of Year Book Survey

best books read in 2012



This is my second time participating in the End of Year Book Survey, hosted by Jamie @ The Perpetual Page Turner.


Best In Books 2012

1. Best Book You Read In 2012? (You can break it down by genre if you want)

 I gave 22 books a 5/5 rating this year. But I’ve narrowed it down to a few.

Probably my all-time favorite of the year is The Fault in Our Stars. I just think it’s a superb book, destined to be a classic.

For the dystopian category, I really enjoyed Legend. I just fell in love with those characters.

I don’t read a lot of adult fiction, but I can’t narrow my favorite adult books down to one. I listened to both of these audiobooks, and they were awesome!


2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

The Raven Boys. I couldn’t finish it, even though almost everyone says it was great. I just hated the story. It never went anywhere!

 3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2012?

The Girl of Fire andThorns. The premise sounded so stupid – a gem in her belly?? And, I’m not a huge fantasy fan, but I LOVED the book, and have already read Crown of Embers and loved it too.

 4. Book you recommended to people most in 2012?

Wonder. I really think it’s a book the EVERYONE, and I mean EVERYONE should read.

 5. Best series you discovered in 2012?

Throne of Glass. I’m even reading the novellas (which I usually don’t enjoy, but in this case – they are great!)

 6. Favorite new authors you discovered in 2012?

Sarah J. Maas (Throneof Glass), Rae Carson (The Girl of Fireand Thorns), Laini Taylor (Daughterof Smoke & Bone), and Barry Lyga (I Hunt Killers.)

7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?

Like I said, Girl of Fireand Thorns was a surprise. I used to read everything Stephen King wrote, but he started getting so wordy, and there were a couple I didn’t really like, so I quit. However, I really enjoyed 11/22/63. Brought back my faith in Steve…

 8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2012?

A lot of books were unputdownable this year – yea!! The one that first comes to mind, though, is Daughterof Smoke and Bone. I listened to this one on audio, and while the narrator was awesome, I think we all know you can read a lot faster than you can listen. And I wanted SO BADLY to know what was going to happen. It took everything I had not to grab the book off the library shelves and finish it!

 9. Book You Read In 2012 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year

I’m not a big  re-reader. But I even said in my review for Cleopatra’s Moon that I wanted to re-read this book. This is another one that I listened to on audio (which was excellent) but I think I’d like to read the book. We’ll see if that really happens….

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2012?

I Hunt Killers. The cover is awesome, but the best part is when you remove the dust jacket. Creepy…



11. Most memorable character in 2012?

I’ve already mentioned that I loved Day and June in Legend. Something about their chemistry and they seemed so real. I’ve already read Prodigy, and my love continues. But, I can’t not mention Agustus in The Fault in Our Stars. He is truly unforgettable.

 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2012?

The Shoemaker’s Wife. Trigiani poured her heart and soul into this one.

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2012?

Beneath a Meth Moon. What a heartbreaking situation. It made me feel so helpless. And, I have to mention Wonder again. After all, if it’s the book you recommend, then it must have had an impact, right?

 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2012 to finally read?

Mockingjay. Finally. I actually just read it.

The Giver. Just never got to it, but when Son came out, I decided it was time. (Still haven’t read Son, though.)

 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2012?

Conversation between Hadley and her father in The Statistical Probability of Love at FirstSight.

"I mean, I only knew him for a few hours. It's ridiculous. It makes no sense."

Dad smiles, then reaches up to straighten his crooked bow tie. "That's the  way these things work, kiddo," he says. "Love isn't supposed to make sense. It's completely illogical." (193-194)

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2012?

Longest — 11/22/63, by Stephen King at 849 pages.
Shortest — (excluding Novellas) Nutcracker by Hoffman at 102 pages.

 17. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc.) Be careful of spoilers!

Gone Girl. OMG. Never saw that coming. And the ending…

18. Favorite Relationship From A Book You Read In 2012 (be it romantic, friendship, etc).


19. Favorite Book You Read in 2012 From An Author You Read Previously

Well, since I’ve read a lot of John Green, I have to say The Fault in Our Stars.

20. Best Book You Read That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else

I don’t think I would have ever picked up For Darkness Shows the Stars if not for the recommendations of MANY bloggers.  Recommendations are especially helpful for adult titles, since I’m less familiar. So I’d have to add TheDovekeepers and The Shoemaker’s Wife also.

 Book Blogging/Reading Life in 2012 (optional)

 1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2012?

I’ve discovered MANY blogs this year. The first one that comes to mind is The Teen Librarian’sToolbox.

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2012?

I never think my reviews are that great when I write them. But, sometimes when I go back and read one, I think, ‘Wow. You did a good job!” I just don’t remember which reviews those are….

3. Best discussion you had on your blog?

Do I Have Anything toDiscuss: I Need to Back Off (a post about letting up on my frenetic blogging pace.)

And, I can’t not mention Lovingthe “Next” Button. If you have a Blogger blog, and don’t use this yet, you should read this post. It has totally changed the way I follow and comment.

4. Most thought-provoking review or discussion you read on somebody else’s blog?

I can’t really think of anything right now. I do enjoy Authors Behaving Badly from Pocketful of Books blog. These posts always make me laugh. Not really that thought-provoking, though.

5. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?

This was the first year that I participated in Armchair BEA, and while I would have rather actually attended BEA, I did enjoy participating in the armchair version. Plus, it’s where I found out about the “Next” button. (see question #3 in this section.)

6. Best moment of book blogging in 2012?

One week Feature and Follow Friday asked to name a blog or blogs you were thankful for. This was a week I didn’t participate (around Thanksgiving, I think) and I felt bad. But, I was truly honored that two of my favorite blogs mentioned my blog. So I’m going to give them a shout out again, here…


7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

According to Google Analytics, my most visited post is my review of The Lincoln Lawyer. Don’t ask me why. (I didn’t even like this book that much.)


I’m not sure how to tell which post got the most comments – does anyone know if you can find this out in Blogger?

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

I guess this can be considered a “post,” but I wish more people would have joined my Books You CanRead in a Day challenge. I thought it would be a fun challenge, and I enjoyed it very much myself. I had a couple people participate. I’m going to do it again for 2013 – for myself at least – just to keep track, so think about joining me!

9. Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

I’m not sure when I signed up, but I think it was this year. Edelweiss. At first, I wasn’t that crazy about it because most of the time I got turned down, but lately I’ve been more successful, and have received some really great books from them!

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

I participated in BooksYou Can Read in a Day (hosted by moi.) I read 32 books in a day. Goal achieved.

Also, the SerialKillers Reading Challenge, hosted at Tea Time With Marce. Only read four serial killer books this year. Fail – but not epic fail!

And, the 150+ ReadingChallenge, hosted at My Overstuffed Bookshelf. About half way through, I got really bad about posting my reviews on her site – however, I read 170 books this year – so Goal Achieved!

I also did the 15,000Page Challenge, hosted by Abducted by Books. Since I read about 55,000 pages this year, I’d say Goal Achieved!

You can see details on my 2012 Book Challenges page.

 Looking Ahead…

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2012 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2013?

Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest
The Death Cure
Beautiful Creatures

I could go on, but I’ll stop (I obviously can’t follow directions!)

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2013?

OK. I'm really gonna have to break the rules here:

The Eternity Cure, by Julie Kagawa
Scarlet, by Marissa Meyer
Fragments, by Dan Wells
Through the Ever Night, by Veronica Rossi
Requiem, by Lauren Oliver
Boundless, by Cynthia Hand
Game, by Barry Lyga
Isla and the Happily Ever After, by Stephanie Perkins

3. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging In 2013?

I’m really lazy about author interviews and other extra features. I do a few memes, but other than that, it’s mostly reviews on my blog. Which is exactly what I want it to be, but I still think some extra stuff once in a while would spice it up a bit.

Also, I need a new blog design. I need professional help. I just need to make the commitment and take the time to do it.

Thanks for visiting. Link to your end of year post, so I can check it out!






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

Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Other Side of Life - Christmas Gifts


I'm using these posts to occasionally describe other things I enjoy (besides books.) I used to post these projects on my other blog, but I posted so seldom that I decided to include them here. Feel free to skip this one, if you are strictly in it for the books.

First, I wanted to share with you a couple of my favorite Christmas presents. Whenever I watch The Santa Claus, I always tell my family that I used to have a Mystery Date Game when I was young and I wish I still had it. I tried to explain how it worked to my kids, but they didn't understand. Well, my husband (great guy!) found me a Mystery Date Game and bought it for me. So now we have all played Mystery Date! It brought back some great memories. (Although, now that I've played again as an adult, it is kind of lame...my kids were not impressed--no electronics or anything!)
Are any of you old enough to remember this game?

My son-in-law got me a beautiful Gela Skin for my iPad. I think it looks amazing! It's called Symbiosis, and I love it.

And, lastly, I'd like to show you a gift I made for my son-in-law.

It's a blanket made out of minky, shaped like a football. I put University of Illinois fleece on the back. It's really soft and cuddly.

What are some of your favorite Christmas gifts? Leave me a link, or just let me know in the comments. Happy New Year everyone!




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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Stacking the Shelves - Review Edition

Welcome to the weekend, where we discuss new books we have acquired. This week, I got one box of books from Library Media Connection Magazine for review:

Spirit's Chosen, by Esther Friesner
The Twice Lost, by Sarah Porter
Dear Life, You Suck, by Scott Blagden
Nine Days, by Fred Hiatt

I really don't know much about any of these, but I'll be looking forward to reading them. How about you? Have you read anything about these? What did your week bring you? Remember to stop by Tynga's Reviews to see all the participating blogs.





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Friday, December 28, 2012

2013 "Books You Can Read in a Day" Reading Challenge


You can grab this button for your post. If you want to link back to this post, copy the code from the button on the sidebar.

Lately I seem to have a lot of little, short books that are being added to my TBR. And there are also some old classics that are short that I still haven't found time to read. So....I got to thinking....I should challenge myself. And, so of course, I'm going to offer the challenge to you too.

What can you read in a day? Well, that's kind of up to you to decide. I don't want to be too rigid about this -- it's supposed to be fun. Most of the books I've chosen are less than 200 pages. However, if it's a novel in verse, it could be longer. Any size graphic novel will probably work. And, if you don't make it in a day, don't beat yourself up. You can still count it if it takes a little longer (not, of course, if it takes several days, though.)

P.S. If anyone wants to help me out with some better buttons for this contest, feel free!

Rules:

You don't need a blog to participate. But you probably need a Goodreads, Shelfari, or LibraryThing account. Someplace you keep track.

Audio (if you can listen in a day) and ebooks are OK.

Books must be adult, YA, or middle school books. No children's or picture books allowed.

No re-reads, however you can count books read for this challenge towards other challenges in which you are participating

Copy the button, create a sign up post and post the link below.

Not required, but very helpful if you would follow my blog. That way, when I do update posts, you will be aware so you can link to them.

Please post at least a few books that you intend to read for this challenge (that my help others add to their lists), but feel free to update your list as the year goes on.

Challenge goes from January 1, 2013 - December 31, 2013

Levels:

Level 1 - Read 15 books
Level 2 - Read 25 books
Level 3 - Read 35 books
Level 4 - Read 50+ books


I am going for Level 2. I'm hoping I'll get some ideas from all of you. These are in no particular order.

1.  Animal Farm by Orwell
2. Locomotion by Woodson
3.  And then There Were None by Christie
4.  From the Mixed up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by Konigsburg
5. The Alchemist by Coehlo
6.  This is What I Did by Ellis
7. Blank Confession by Hautman
8. If I Grew Up by Strasser
9. How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Standiford
10. Jumped by Williams-Garcia
11.  Beetle Meets Destiny by Williams
12. Chasing Brooklyn by Schroeder
13. Scars by Ranfield
14. Things a Brother Knows by Reinhardt
15. I Heart You, You Haunt Me by Schroeder
16. Tighter by Griffin
17. Trapped by Northrop
18. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Wilde 





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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Book Review: Faerieground: A Wish in the Woods by Beth Bracken and Kay Fraser

I'm not sure what to say about A Wish in the Woods. It's very short and ends so abruptly that is almost seems like serial novel for kids.

The two main characters, Soli and Lucy are 13 years old. They have always been best friends, but they are opposite in almost every way. The live next to a wood where faeries live. Soli and Lucy walk to school together through the woods almost every day and have never had any problems with faeries.

But, when Lucy does something to betray Soli, they have an argument in the wood, and Soli wishes that Lucy wasn't there. And -- all of a sudden -- she isn't.

A Wish in the Woods took me less than a half hour to read. The best part of the book is the illustrations, (by Odessa Sawyer) which are beautiful and interesting. They also take up many of the 93 pages. The text is sparse -- short, simple sentences. I'm wondering if this series is specifically targeting lower level readers -- because it would certainly be appropriate for them. However, I'm not sure the story is very gripping. It just ends. Perhaps if the next books in the series were available to pick up right away, this might be satisfying. But I have trouble even calling it a book -- it's just the first chapter in the story.

Published by Stone Arch, January 1, 2012
Copy obtained from the library
93 pages

Rating: 2.5/5





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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Book Review: The Dead and Buried, by Kim Harrington @Kim_Harrington

The Dead and Buried had me guessing until the end, as well as spooking me a bit along the way!

Jade is happy in her new house and ready to begin the year at a new school. But when she goes to school, people are whispering and sometimes avoiding her. She finds out that a very popular teen girl died in her new house the previous year, and her death is suspicious.

Jade is understandably having difficulty making friends, but she does have the attention of a couple of boys. One very popular. The other, Donovan, is the boyfriend of the dead girl.

Given that Jade's mother died and her father is re-married, her relationship with her step mom is a bit stressed. However, she loves her little 5-year-old step brother to death. When he comes and tells Jade that he sees a glittering girl in his room, she is suspicious. But when weird things start happening in her room -- things being moved and cold drafts -- she wonders if her brother is really seeing a ghost.

Harrington has weaved an interesting plot with interesting characters. The Dead and Buried is a ghost story and a mystery. Jade soon becomes compelled to find out what really happened in her house the previous year. She needs all the popular kids to talk about what they know, but she doesn't want to hurt Donovan because she is really attracted to him. She also is friends with the "weird" girl Alexa, who is one of my favorite characters.

The plot slowly builds, and we get a few creepy moments with the ghost. I didn't know who the killer was until it was revealed, and I loved the way it ended. Anyone who likes a spooky mystery story will certainly enjoy The Dead and Buried. It's got memorable characters and the pacing keeps you turning the pages. I'll be recommending The Dead and Burried often.

Published by Point, January 1, 2013
eBook obtained from NetGalley
304 pages

Rating: 5/5





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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!


Merry Christmas
 I hope you have a great day, enjoy your time, get to relax and enjoy the season! 





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Monday, December 24, 2012

Book Review: The Twisted Tragedy of Miss Natalie Stewart, by Leanna Renee Hieber

Compared to the first book, Darker Still: A Novel of Magic Most Foul, The Twisted Tragedy of Miss Natalie Stewart left me wanting.

I found Darker Still to be macabre, tense, and clever in it's solution. Twisted Tragedy seemed superficial, unnecessarily complicated, and somewhat difficult to follow. There's the demon, and the Society, which are both "bad." But, I had a hard time following how they were related.

Supposedly Natalie and Jonathon are in grave danger throughout the entire book, but I never felt any tension (except for at the end in Maggie's room.) I didn't understand what they were afraid of, and the fear seemed very circular, rather than building to a crescendo. For example: Why did we meet Samuel? I guess he was in danger, but Jonathan and Natalie leave him. And then we "hear" at the end of the book that he's OK. I didn't get the point of that character, and it just confused the plot and took away from the main characters.

The best part is the relationship between Natalie and Jonathon. I loved the romantic parts, and the difficulty they had trying to comply with the Victorian societal norms. These scenes didn't happen often enough! I also loved the Victorian setting.

I didn't get the homage to Poe or Stoker, as I felt Darker Still possessed. There were parts of Twisted Tragedy that were dark, but I didn't feel the consistency.

I do like the characters. Mrs. Northe plays a small role in Twisted Tragedy, but she isn't nearly as clever as in Darker Still. If I choose to read the next book, it will be because of Natalie and Jonathon. I may need to experience their "happily ever after," but I'm not sure if I can tolerate the lack of a cohesive threat that I experienced in Twisted Tragedy.

Published by Sourcebooks Fire, November 1, 2012
eBook obtained from NetGalley
336 pages

Rating: 3/5





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Saturday, December 22, 2012

Stacking the Shelves - More Than I Need!

It's time for another round of Stacking the Shelves, hosted by Tynga's Reviews. I'm stocking up for Christmas break, so here's what I got:

For Review:
Prophecy, by Ellen Oh, from Edelweiss

Period 8, by Chris Crutcher from Edelweiss


From the Library:
Mockingjay, by Suzanne Collins
I've already read and reviewed this one. Loved it.

Insignia, by S.J. Kincaid

The rest of these are for a committee I am a part of to create a list of books appropriate for reluctant readers. These are all from libraries:

A Certain October, by Angela Johnson

All the Earth, Thrown to the Sky, by Joe R. Lansdale

All the Right Stuff, by Walter Dean Myers

As I Wake, by Elizabeth Scott

A Wish in the Woods, by Beth Bracken and Kay Fraser

Battle Fatigue, by Mark Kurlansky

So, as the title indicates -- I have too much. But, these last ones are pretty short, so I'm hoping to tear through them quickly. How about you? Did you get too much this week?




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