Saturday, November 29, 2014

Stacking the Shelves - Thankful!

I'm so thankful for books, and the talented authors that create them! Here's what I managed to grab this week:

For Review:

Crimson Bound, by Rosamund Hodge, from Edelweiss

From the Library:
Hero, by Althea Kontis

How about you? What did you get this week? Please leave a link, and make sure you go visit our hosts, Team Tynga's Reviews. Thanks for visiting!





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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Book Review: The Look of Love, by Sarah Jio

The Look of Love is a heartwarming story containing a hefty dose of romance that will keep you satisfied.

Jane gets a strange letter on her birthday asking her to meet the writer at her apartment. Jane takes her friend, Lo, with her to meet the woman. Jane discovers that she has been gifted at birth with a special ability to see love. She's always been under the care of a doctor for problems she has with her vision temporarily going blurry or even worse. Now, she understands why this happens. Before her next birthday, Jane needs to find the six different kinds of love and write them in an old book the woman gives her. If she doesn't complete this task, she will never find true love for herself.

I know. Just go with it...

There are several different love stories explored. All the people are somehow associated with Jane. There is some heartbreak. Everything doesn't work out perfectly, which adds to the drama. It's interesting to read along and wonder how things are going to turn out for each of these couples.

The Seattle setting, the flowers, art, and baking that are woven into the story give it the Jio richness that pulls the reader in.

I'm a huge fan of Sarah Jio. She writes feel-good stories that really touch your heart. But, The Look of Love bordered on sappy. I found parts to be overly dramatic. In particular, I could have done without the drama of Jane needing surgery because she was losing brain function. I didn't see any evidence to support all the urgency of this diagnosis, which seemed to happen out of the blue after a lifetime of living with this condition. I didn't buy it.

While I would recommend The Look of Love if you enjoy a feel-good romance, this isn't my favorite Jio book. So if you are unfamiliar with this author try The Violets of March, Goodnight June, Morning Glory, Blackberry Winteror The Bungalow (my favorite) first.

Published by Plume, November 25, 2014
Copy obtained from NetGalley
320 pages

Rating: 4/5





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Monday, November 24, 2014

Book Review: Diamond Boy, by Michael Williams

Diamond Boy is a compelling story about a really screwed up political situation.

Patson's family is moving to Marange, where his (evil) stepmother's brother owns a huge diamond field. They have no intention of working in the diamond mines. Patson's father will teach at the local school and Patson and his sister will attend the school.

First of all, they barely make it to Marange alive. They lose most of their belongings and only arrive safely due to the help of a guide, who also becomes a good friend. And, the school is closed, Patson and his father must work the mine fields. They live in an old barn, with a bunch of other families. Patson's stepmom moves in the main house with her brother.

The dream is to find the big diamond that will make you rich. Hundreds are trying to do so. But if they find anything, they must hide it from the owners of the mine.

Soldiers from the corrupt Zimbabwe government eventually take over the mine, and things get even worse.

The stepmom is totally wicked. It's entirely her fault that all this happened in the first place. I find it hard to believe Patson's sensible father would let her walk all over him like that. I find it hard to believe he ended up with her in the first place.

Diamond Boy is a heartbreaking story based on true events in Zimbabwe's recent history. The story definitely keeps your interest. Patson becomes very strong. He risks everything for his family, overcoming unbelievable odds.

There are several side characters that serve to make Diamond Boy a full and complete story. Boubacar, the guide, and Patson's friend, Arves, are both special characters.

I believe Diamond Boy will appeal to teens, and even young teens, who enjoy adventure and survival stories. You can't help but feel Patson's fears and anguish. Diamond Boy is also a slice of recent history that most you people are probably unaware of. I'll be happy to recommend this one.

Published by Little, Brown BFYR, December 2, 2014
eARC obtained from Edelweiss
400 pages

Rating: 4.5/5





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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Stacking the Shelves: A Whopping Good Week!

I haven't been getting much from NetGalley lately, but this week changed all that!

For Review:
Golden Son, by Pierce Brown from NetGalley

Dreaming Spies, by Laurie R. King from NetGalley

The Look of Love, by Sarah Jio from NetGalley

Court of Fives, by Kate Elliott from Edelweiss

So how did you do this week? Leave me a link so I can add to my list. Hope you have a great weekend and thanks for visiting. Please remember to visit Team Tynga's Reviews to see all the participating blogs.




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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Book Review: The Walled City, by Ryan Graudin

The Walled City is one of those books that is thrilling and exciting, but also heartbreaking at the same time.

There are three narrators. Jin, a girl pretending to be a boy, is just trying to stay alive and stay away from the horrible street gangs. She sleeps on the street and is starving most of the time. She only wants to find her sister, Mei Yee, who was sold into prostitution by their father.

Mei Yee is another narrator. She is confined to her house, which is owned by a ruthless drug lord. There is no escape from her predicament. She is "reserved" for one very powerful man, who has paid to have her exclusive services.

Dai has secrets. It isn't clear through most of the book why he's in the walled city. He seems to have plenty of money and communicates with someone outside the wall. He recruits Jin, because she is such a fast runner, to work with him to do drug runs for the owner of the brothel where Mei Yee is. He also befriends Mei Yee and asks her to spy for him.

The walled city is an awful place. There is no hope, no authority figures, and it's filthy and dark. It isn't clear why this city exists. Graudin doesn't explain why all these people are here. It seems there is no gate keeping them in. They are free to go to the beautiful, prosperous big city right outside. But they don't. It is clear why our three main characters are here, but in general, I didn't get a clear picture of what exactly this place is.

There is adventure and political intrigue. There are awful stories of drug addiction and beatings. The Walled City, fortunately, has a pretty upbeat ending that also seems realistic.

There is also information about the real walled cities that existed not that long ago in Hong Kong. I still wished for more information about how these cities came to be and what they were for. It seems they were just slums? I still don't understand.

The Walled City is fast paced and easy to read. Anyone who likes a suspenseful survival story would enjoy it.

Published by Little, Brown BFYR, November 4, 2014
eARC obtained from Edelweiss
448 pages

Rating: 4/5





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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Book Review: Blue Labyrinth by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

Blue Labyrinth is part of the series involving FBI Special Agent Pendergast. The story kept my interest and had some surprising twists and turns.

I'm not familiar with the series or this character, so I'm going to review this book like you aren't either. Pendergast is filthy rich and doesn't draw a salary from the FBI. He's unorthodox but successful, so the FBI puts up with his quirks.

The story starts when Pendergast finds the dead body of his estranged son on his front porch. He only found out about this son 18 months ago and after spending time with him in Brazil at that time, he disappeared.

In the quest to find his son's killer, Pendergast finds out much more. He gets duped and almost killed, but he also finds out his son had planned to kill Pendergast. The police officer, Lt. D'Agosta, who apparently is also a recurring character, tries to keep the investigation on track, but it's difficult when Pendergast is so secretive.

I found the beginning to take a while to get going. This may be because of not knowing the characters. It took me a while to get my bearings. Constance and Margo, more familiar characters, play a big part in saving the day and almost die among a lot of tense moments at the end. I enjoyed these intelligent, brave, and resourceful women.

I'd definitely read more of this series. I'm sure having some background about these characters would make Blue Labyrinth even better, but I really enjoyed it all the same. Teens who like a good mystery will also be entertained, and this is totally appropriate for them.

Published by Grand Central Publishing, November 11, 2014
eARC obtained from Edelweiss
416 pages

Rating: 4/5





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Monday, November 17, 2014

Book Review: Creed by Trisha Leaver and Lindsay Currie

I thought Creed was going to have a supernatural element, but it doesn't, which makes it all the more spine chilling.

Dee, her boyfriend Luke, and his brother Mike run out of gas in the middle of nowhere, and it's freezing cold. Since no cars seem to be driving by to help, they decide to walk to the nearest town. The town is strangely quiet and seems to be abandoned. There is a siren going off, so the teens assume everyone evacuated for some reason. What they end up finding is much worse than they could ever dream.

You could call this a religious cult book. They are kidnapped. The townspeople listen to only one man, and the teens become his target. It's scary, and gruesome and horrifying.

Creed was a very quick read for me. Although there are more than one truly unbelievable contrivances (starting out with the fact that they stopped at a gas station and FORGOT to get gas), I still found the book compelling. I also didn't care for the ending. I'm being purposefully vague here to avoid spoilers, but I thought the adults' behavior was unrealistic. There had to be some evidence.

I think teens who love survival/horror stories will eat this one up. I won't hesitate to recommend it to them.

Published by Flux, November 8, 2014
eARC obtained from NetGalley
264 pages (qualifies for my Books You Can Read in a Day Challenge!)

Rating: 4/5





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Saturday, November 15, 2014

Stacking the Shelves - Unknowns

Hope you're enjoying a great weekend.  Here's waht I managed to get a hold of this week:

For Review: 
Endangered, by Lamar Giles from Edelweiss

Breaking Sky, by Cori McCarthy from NetGalley

And, that's all for me! How about you? Leave me a link so I can add to my wish list. Thanks for stopping by and be sure to visit our hosts, Team Tynga's Reviews.





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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Book Review: Killer Instinct: The Naturals Bk 2, by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

I enjoyed Killer Instinct even more than the first book, The Naturals.

The teens are working with a new agent, a woman who doesn't seem to like them at all. And she has a history, which of course they are going to figure out.

Last book, we had the teens involved in an active case, even though they are only supposed to work on cold cases. In Killer Instinct the same thing happens. The case is personal, as it was in The Naturals, and they can't help but try to find this new serial killer.

The plot really moves, and as with the first book, I think this is a great choice for reluctant readers. The conversations between the teens is always entertaining, as they are profiling each other and their suspects, detecting who is telling lies, and trying to be supportive of each other. And there's a love triangle, that adds to the tension. And a dangerous, death defying ending.

I just took this book more seriously. I felt the teens were more mature and realistic. You still have to suspend some disbelief -- we are talking about teens working for the FBI, so....

The resolution was a surprise. I could not have predicted "who done it" and that is always a bonus. If you enjoyed The Naturals I would highly recommend Killer Instinct. And if you enjoy some good teen detective stories, start with The Naturals first, so you get to know these characters.

Published by Disney-Hyperion, November 4, 2014
eARC obtained from NetGalley
384 pages

Rating: 4.5/5





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