Monday, September 30, 2013

Book Review: More Than This, by Patrick Ness

I'm not sure what to say about More Than This. I'll start with, "It's unique!" I enjoyed the book, it was easy to read, but I'm not sure I get the point.

Seth dies a brutal death, as his bones are crushed on the ocean floor. He remembers every detail of this death when he wakes up in a strange, desolate, but somewhat familiar place.

More Than This finds Seth trying to figure out where he is, and where is everyone else? He seems to be alone. He's back in his childhood home, but everything is abandoned -- dirty, dusty, broken, and in some cases burned.

Is this hell? Seth has reasons to believe he might be in hell, as he struggles with dreams about his past that serve as flashbacks. Seth does start to figure some things out, but with these revelations, he still doubts everything he thinks and feels.

More Than This will not appeal to the teen masses. It's messages about life and what it means to be alive are subtle, and as Ness is known for, we get very few answers. (I never read past book 1 in the Chaos Walking trilogy because I was SO ANGRY at the cliffhanger.) I spent most of this book eagerly anticipating the ending -- finding the solution to this big mystery -- but I was disappointed.

At almost 500 pages, More Than This reads surprisingly quickly. I'm not sure to whom I'd recommend More Than This. I could recommend it to some teachers for a classroom read. I think More Than This could generate some interesting discussions.

Published by Candlewick, September 10, 2013
ARC obtained from Library Media Connection
480  pages

Rating: 3/5





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Saturday, September 28, 2013

Stacking the Shelves - No News is Good News

I only acquired one new book this week. I was turned down by a couple from Edelweiss, but you know what? That's really a good thing, because I've been pretty swamped with review books and I'd like to squeeze in some older books here sometime!

For Review:
 The Darkest Path, by Jeff Hirsch, from NetGalley

That's it for me! Thanks to Team Tynga's Reviews for hosting this party. Make sure you stop by and visit some other participants. Thanks for visiting, and I hope you come back soon. Leave me a link so I can see what you got!





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Friday, September 27, 2013

Feature & Follow Friday -- Favorite Spots for Reading


Alison Can Read Feature & Follow
Happy Friday everyone! It's been a rough week for me -- fighting an unusual cold, and I'm not a very patient patient! Fortunately, I'm feeling better for the weekend!  Here's this week's question from Parajunkee and Alison:

Reading Nook Tour: Give us a tour of your favorite reading spots.

Vacation for me usually means camping -- and one of my favorite things to do while camping is READ! Here's a couple of spots that I enjoyed reading at this summer....
Chatfield State Park, Littleton, Colorado

Palo Duro Canyon State Park, Texas

My son built me a beautiful new deck this summer, so I have been spending quite a bit of time reading while sitting on my deck!

I've posted this picture before, but this is my annual family vacation at Kentucky Lake.We spend a lot of time reading in the sun...


My go-to reading spot is my comfy couch....just can't beat it. I can't even imagine the hours I've spent reading in this spot.
Don't mind that wood and the torn up wall in the background -- just got a new door

I hope you have a great weekend and get to enjoy some reading time in your favorite spots! Let me know what they are.





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Thursday, September 26, 2013

Book Review: Find Me, by Romily Bernard

Find Me is a riveting thriller that I think many teens will really enjoy.

Wick and her sister Lily have had a rough life. Their father is a drug dealer who is on the lam and their mother committed suicide. But, things may be looking up because their new foster parents are well off, and seem to be very committed to the girls.

Wick, of course, can't trust anyone. She's a hacker, and she secretly helps women investigate the men in their lives that they think are cheating on them. She is socking away the money for the next time she and Lily have to run.

Wick finds a diary on her front porch that says "Find Me." It turns out the diary belongs to a girl named Tessa who used to be Wick's friend. Tessa has committed suicide, but there's obviously more to the story. As she reads the diary she discovers that Tessa was being abused by a man. And...Lily is mentioned in the diary because Tessa knows she is this man's next victim.

The love interest is Griff. He's just a fellow student who hangs around the computer room, and apparently has been crushing on Wick for a long time. The development of their relationship is quite cute.

The main mystery is Wick trying to find who the man is that drove Tessa to suicide, but there are many complexities that add to the intrigue. Tessa is, of course, reminded of her mom's death. Her dad reappears, and once again pulls Wick into his illegal schemes. Wick is so frightened of everyone, that she is literally crippled. There's a cop who wants to help, but she doesn't believe his motives. Her foster father is a counselor who she considers confiding in, but can't. It turns out the only person she decides to trust is Griff.

So there were a couple of weak plotting elements that I can't be specific about, and yes, there's a huge shocker of an ending. But....I wasn't really that shocked. I suspected this person for quite a while. It's OK though. I still enjoyed Find Me, and I thought the characters were really well done. Because of the ending, it's pretty obvious that there's going to be another book involving Wick's hacking and investigating, and I'm looking forward to it.

Find Me is a real page turner that I think can be enjoyed by teens and adults who like a twisted, psychological mystery that involves a tough teen heroine.

Published by HarperTeen, September 24, 2013
eARC obtained from Edelweiss
320 pages

Rating:4/5





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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Book Review: Countdown by Michelle Rowen

Countdown is exciting. I flew through this book, and enjoyed every minute of it.

Let's get the inevitable comparison to The Hunger Games out of the way. Two kids in a life or death contest, must meet six different challenges in order to survive. The prize is "whatever they desire." A romance develops. Sound familiar? Yes, but trust me, it doesn't matter. It's different enough, and if you liked The Hunger Games why wouldn't you want more???

The setting is the future after a plague has killed a large portion of the people. Kira is homeless and living on the street since her parents and sister were murdered. Rogan is a convicted murderer. They wake up together in a dark room. They hear a coundown.. 59..58..57..56...and realize they must get out of the room before they are out of time.

Rogan knows what's happening. He's heard of the very secret game show, available by subscription only to the most wealthy people, called Countdown. He explains to Kira that they must meet six challenges. The penalty for failing is death. They have implants in their heads and must stay within 90 feet of each other. They are on camera the entire time.

There are surprises along the way. We find out more about Rogan and his crimes as well as the brutal murders of Kira's family. The relationship and trust between these two builds very slowly. There is a technological aspect of Countdown that I enjoyed. It felt like a future United States, unlike The Hunger Games which to me felt like a more primitive society somewhere else.

The pacing of Countdown is nothing short of breakneck.  While I felt like some of the challenges were a bit easy or convenient to solve, it did keep the plot moving. I guess that's my one complaint. I felt like things happened so fast there was little time for relationships or getting to know the characters. But for teens, that is a small price to pay for a book that will be easy to devour.

I'll definitely recommend Countdown widely. I have a lot of students wanting "books like The Hunger Games," and Countdown will fill the bill. I think Countdown would be a great recommendation for the typical reluctant reader, boy or girl.

Published by Harlequin Teen, September 24, 2013
eARC obtained from NetGalley
336 pages (qualifies for my Books You Can Read in a Day Challenge!)

Rating: 4/5





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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Book Review: Ten Tiny Breaths, by K. A. Tucker

Ten Tiny Breaths was not what I expected, but I did enjoy my time with this story.

Kacey and her sister have run away from their aunt and uncle in in Michigan and arrived in Florida. Four years ago, Kacey was involved in an accident that killed her mother, father, best friend and boyfriend. She's understandably had a hard time adjusting after her aunt and uncle took her and her sister in, but when her uncle propositions her little sister, that was it. Kacey decides to take her sister and run.

She finds an apartment for them and a job at Starbucks. Her sister enrolls in high school. Kacey's only concern is that her sister gets to go to Princeton, and she will do anything to make that happen.

I thought Ten Tiny Breaths was going to be more about Kacey's emotional difficulties, and while it is, nothing really happens in the first 80% of the book except a developing romance with the guy next door, Trent. And, while this romance is anything but smooth, it is very romantic, and hits all those buttons. Trent seems to be "perfect," but he's hiding problems of his own too. Most of the time, I just got a "typical romance" vibe.

The other very enjoyable part of Ten Tiny Breaths is Kacey's developing friendship with her neighbor, Storm, and her daughter Mia. Storm is a stripper, but surprisingly, she ends up helping Kacey more than anyone, and I enjoyed these characters and their relationships the most.

Then, there's a big twist about 80% through Ten Tiny Breaths, and I didn't see it coming. I think maybe some people will figure it out, but for whatever reason, I didn't. After this revelation, I really liked where the story went. This is what I wanted Ten Tiny Breaths to be.

Ten Tiny Breaths is rightfully categorized "new adult." The sexuality of the book (the scenes as well as the themes) would cause me to only recommend this to the most mature teens.

The second book in the series, One Tiny Lie, is about Livie, Kacey's sister. Even though I enjoyed Ten Tiny Breaths, I think I'm going to pass on the sequel. I just don't care enough about Livie and Ten Tiny Breaths has a satisfying ending that needs no more explanation.

Published by Atria Books, September 24, 2013
eARC obtained from NetGalley
288  pages

Rating: 3/5





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Monday, September 23, 2013

Book Review: Delia's Shadow, by Jaime Lee Moyer

Delia's Shadow is a delightful mix of history, romance, supernatural intrigue, and mystery that I really found enjoyable.

The setting of Delia's Shadow is San Francisco in 1915. Delia had left San Francisco after the horrible earthquake and fire killed her parents in 1906. She has returned because she is being haunted. That's right. Delia has always been able to see ghosts, but now there's a particular female ghost that has been following her around. She feels like it's time to return to her home.

After Delia's parents died, her best friend Sadie's mother took Delia in, and treated her like her own daughter. Since Delia has been gone, Sadie has fallen in love and become engaged to Jack. Delia is hoping her ghost will go away, and she can concentrate on helping Delia plan her wedding. Delia's mother, Esther, is on her death bed, so Delia also wants to be able to say goodbye. But the ghost wants something. She won't leave until Delia figures out what it is.

Jack is a police officer and his partner and boss is Gabe. So, of course being the matchmaker she is, Sadie makes sure that Delia and Gabe get to spend time together. Gabe also lost his pregnant wife in the earthquake.

Gabe and Jack are working on a serial killer case that no one knows about. You see, the city is hosting the Pan-Pacific Exposition, and there are people visiting from all over the world. Gabe believes this is the same serial killer that his policeman father tried to catch 30 years ago.

The ghost haunting Delia has something to do with these old murders. Delia sees what happened to her in dreams. The four main characters consult a spiritualist, Dora, who assists the investigation.  In the meantime, the girls are being threatened, there's a big twist, Gabe and Delia are slowly falling in love, and people are still dying.

Delia's Shadow truly kept me entertained the whole way through. I loved the historical setting and the reality of the effects of that horrible earthquake. The romance was slow and sweet. And the danger, while not really that palpable, was still there and the mystery intriguing.

The secondary characters added a lot of flavor to fill out Delia's Shadow. Annie, the housekeeper; Marshall, the police officer guarding the women; and Esther, who adds to the story even though she's dying, were all interesting characters that I enjoyed getting to know.

Delia's Shadow, even though there are ghosts and murders, didn't seem dark and heavy. There's just the right balance of romance and friendship to make the book a fairly light, quick read, if at times predictable.

There's much to enjoy here for both teens and adults. I would recommend Delia's Shadow to those who like their mysteries light, their ghosts fairly benign, and their romance sweet.

P.S. I don't often comment on covers, but can I just say this is a beautiful cover and perfect for the book!

Published by Tor Books, September 17, 2013
eBook obtained from NetGalley
336 pages

Rating: 4/5





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Saturday, September 21, 2013

Stacking the Shelves -- Two More eARCS!

It's time to share what we've added to our piles this week. Here's mine:

For Review:
I absolutely LOVE Falvia de Luce -- Can't wait to start this one!

The Naturals, by Jennifer Lynn Barnes from NetGalley

So, how was your week? What did you get that I need to covet? Leave me a link! Thanks for visiting and thanks to Team Tynga's Reviews for hosting STS! Come back soon....





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Friday, September 20, 2013

Feature & Follow Friday - Favorite Picture Books!


Alison Can Read Feature & Follow
Happy Friday! Let's get the weekend started by bringing back some childhood memories.

What were some of your favorite picture books as a kid? If you have kids, what are your favorites to read to them? 


I've posted a few of these before. One of my FAVORITE books as a child is Never Tease a Weasel. I loved the rhyming and the funny pictures.

Some of my kids' favorite read-alouds:

My son loved this one. We would read it over and over and he would giggle!




I could go on -- we were big readers, so there are LOTS of favorites! How about you? Leave your link! Thanks for visiting and I hope you come back soon. Please visit our hosts, Alison & Parajunkee to see all the other participants. Enjoy your weekend!




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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Book Review: Monsters, by Ilsa J. Bick

I was so excited for the conclusion to the Ashes Trilogy. But after spending four days reading Monsters I must confess I'm mostly disappointed.

The plot is so all over the place, and there are so many characters and different story lines that I'm going to direct you to the Goodreads summary instead of my usual summary.

Monsters was just too long. It took me four days (that's unheard of, for me) to read the almost 700 page tome. And I just didn't think it needed to be. There was so much detail and repetition. Going over what weapons everyone has, and which one would be best (over and over again) is just one example. I just felt Monsters could do with one more good edit (and I read the ARC, so we can hope...)

There was nothing to help you get back into the story and remember each character's situation and position at the end of Shadows. And there's so many different groups of characters. I eventually figured it out, but I still got confused. Oh, and then when I got to the END of the book, there's a cast of characters and where they were at the end of Shadows. Don't you think that should be at the BEGINNING???

The POV switched constantly and abruptly. We don't get to spend enough time in each POV before we are switched to another. The is particularly true when both Alex and "another character" are fighting the Changed in two different places. We get just a page or two and then are switched back and forth. It was like whiplash and as a literary technique, fell short.

And, to top is all off, I didn't like the direction the plot took. I can't say too much about this but to say I didn't like how much depended on what was going on "in their heads." You know what I mean if you've read it. This is merely a personal opinion, though, and you may really enjoy this unique plot.

I was excited to see how it all wrapped up.  At times, I thought about giving up, but there were enough exciting things happening to keep my interest. Monsters had some really tense and thrilling parts. The story was good, and I enjoyed revisiting the characters (the ones I could remember.)

I don't know how to recommend Monsters. I think if you are invested in the series, you have to go for it. It sounds like I really didn't like it -- I did, but it was just long and because of the other problems, it seemed even longer.

I'm still a Bick fan. I'm ready to read her next book -- I already have it.

Published by EgmontUSA, September 10, 2013
eARC obtained from NetGalley
688 pages

Rating: 2.5/5





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