Thursday, February 27, 2014

Book Review: Killer Frost

Book Review: Killer Frost by Jennifer FrostKiller Frost by Jennifer Estep

I’ve battled the Reapers of Chaos before - and survived. But this time I have a Bad, Bad Feeling it’s going to be a fight to the death … most likely mine.

Yeah, I've got my psychometry magic, my talking sword, Vic - and even the most dangerous Spartan on campus at my side, in Logan freaking Quinn, but I’m no match for Loki, the evil Norse god of chaos. I may be Nike’s Champion, but at heart, I’m still just Gwen Frost, that weird Gypsy girl everyone at school loves to gossip about.

Then someone I love is put in more danger than ever before, and something inside me snaps. This time, Loki and his Reapers are going down for good … or I am. (Goodreads)

My Thoughts:

This book was a big bag of mixed emotions for me because, while I was excited to see what happens next for Gwen and her friends, I was also sad that it's now coming to an end. We've been through so much together and now it's over.

We start off with Gwen and Logan on a double date with their friends Daphne and Carson. I like the nod to Crimson Frost, which started with Gwen and Logan's first date. Gwen is a nervous wreck, convinced that something horrible will happen. I really wish that poor Gwen could have a normal teenage life once in awhile, but guess that's too much to ask for Nike's Champion.

I appreciated that the bad guys are really bad in this story, Loki especially. I love really evil villains, as you never know what will happen next! Sometimes in YA the bad guys are more than a little whitewashed, as heaven forbid you scare the young readers! Not in this one. Loki and the Reapers are Bad with a capital B!

Suffice it to say, there is tons of action, a fast moving plot, and an absolutely fabulous ending to one of my favorite series! And yes, the story brought tears to my eyes a few times. So sue me, I get emotionally involved with my favorite characters every now and again. *L*

There are only six books in this series and I think that they're pretty fast reads, so I recommend reading them all. This way you'll get to know Gwen and company and have a better understanding of all that they're up against. Very worthwhile reads!


eBook provided via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Monday, February 24, 2014

I flunked out of book club

@westchestermagazine.com
@westchestermagazine.com
I feel like a failure when it comes to book clubs. 

After joining a few months ago with high hopes, I finally dropped out of the neighborhood book club. I love discussing books and, after reading about so many awesome book clubs online, I've been looking for a book club to call my very own. None of the bookstores in the area host book clubs, so I was happy when one of my neighbors put out the word that she'd like to start a book club.

We met at her house one day to discuss possibilities. It sounded promising, as she brought up how we would choose the monthly reads and even mentioned having a moderator to keep us on track. We chose the first book and one of the ladies volunteered to hold it at her house. The book sounded interesting although outside my usual genre, but I didn't really expect these ladies to read urban fantasy so I was okay with the thought of general fiction. Unfortunately, I got terribly sick and had to miss the first meeting.

They kept me informed via email and let me know the next title and location. Another title outside my comfort zone, but I actually enjoyed this one and was looking forward to discussing it with everyone. Much to my disappointment, no one wanted to talk about the book and kept changing the subject to other topics. Felt like I was at a coffee klatch, which made me a little uncomfortable as I didn't have anything to add to the discussion.

Rather than choosing the next book, the hostess suggested we think about it and do a group email to discuss other choices. The only email I received said they had decided to attend an author event instead of having it at someones house. Where was the discussion email? Got the impression that they had met in person to make this decision, so guess I'm out of the loop. I've never really been to a reading luncheon and decided to attend, even though it cost $25 and was for an $80 art book.

The reading itself went well and I was pleasantly surprised by how charismatic the artist was. Lunch wasn't worth the money in my opinion, but thought it was a unique experience and I enjoyed myself. The sponsor hosts monthly luncheons/readings, so one of the ladies suggested we attend the next month's event and everyone else agreed. The book looked interesting and the restaurant was actually one I've heard of, so I reluctantly agreed. 

We carpooled to the luncheon. Despite assurances that we would discuss the book during the drive, the book was never mentioned. The author was amusing and the food was better than last time, but at $25 a pop, this wasn't something I wanted to make a habit. 

We skipped December because of the holidays and one of the ladies volunteered to host in January. Rather than discussing options, one of the ladies recommended a title and everyone else agreed. I'm on the shy side with people I don't know well, so tend to keep my mouth shut in situations like this. I know that's shocking to people who know me, but I kept feeling like a kid at my mother's book club. The ladies kept bringing up what I consider "old lady" topics, so I kept my mouth shut.

January was a tough one for me as I wasn't interested in the book one bit, but the nosy part of me really wanted to see the hostess's house. So I went, book unread, confident that it wouldn't matter because we've never actually discussed the book before. Naturally, they all wanted to discuss the book this time. *sigh*

The majority decided to attend another author event for February, this one for $35, so I politely declined. 

Just received an email for next month, announcing that the next selection will be a self-published book by a friend of one of the women. Seriously? Between not having a voice in the choice of books, too many expensive author events, feeling like a third wheel at a coffee klatch, and then being told I not only had to buy a self-published book but also pay to take the author out to lunch, I emailed my regrets and stated that I wouldn't be attending future events.

Don't get me wrong, as they are all very nice women who have been nothing but pleasant to me. I guess we just have different ideas about what a book club should be. I want to actually discuss books, not talk about what the neighbor down the road did to their backyard (although really...what were they thinking? ha!).

I know it just wasn't the right fit for me, but can't help feeling like I flunked out. *sigh*

Saturday, February 22, 2014

My Book Haul (42)

My Book Haul

In need of a new way to showcase titles, I decided that My Book Haul seems like a good fit. I like giving books a little special attention as sometimes it can be awhile before I'm able to review them. Sad to say, but some get put on the shelf and gather a little dust before I'm able to give them the love they deserve. I've included links to Goodreads if you want more information on the books.

For Review:

I'm a big fan of William Morrow's books, so was excited to receive these two for review! They always manage to tempt me to read outside of my comfort zone, and rarely disappoint!

Two Sisters
Two Sisters by Mary Hogan

Mary Hogan’s powerful and poignant debut novel about two sisters - opposites in every way - plus their mother and the secrets and lies that define them all. One family, two sisters, a lifetime of secrets... (Goodreads)

***

Three Souls

Three Souls by Janie Chang

We have three souls, or so I'd been told. But only in death could I confirm this ... So begins the haunting and captivating tale, set in 1935 China, of the ghost of a young woman named Leiyin, who watches her own funeral from above and wonders why she is being denied entry to the afterlife. Beside her are three souls - stern and scholarly yang; impulsive, romantic yin; and wise, shining hun - who will guide her toward understanding. She must, they tell her, make amends. (Goodreads)


What did you receive this week?


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Book Review: Grim

Book Review:  Grim anthology
Grim anthology

Inspired by classic fairy tales, but with a dark and sinister twist, Grim contains short stories from some of the best voices in young adult literature today. (Goodreads)

My Thoughts:

This is one of those rare collections where almost every, single story is good! I could usually guess which classic fairy tale inspired each story, but have to admit that a couple had me scratching my head. That didn't take away from enjoying the stories, but the ones I recognized seemed just a little more fun.

One of the stories, Thinner Than Water by Saundra Mitchell, actually gave me chills and really stayed with me. Others were amusing, some were tender, and some, like Beauty and the Chad by Sarah Rees Brennan, made me laugh out loud!

Better by Shaun David Hutchinson and A Real Boy by Claudia Gray were nice compliments to each other. Figment by Jeri Smith Ready was a sweet tale of what muse might inspire artists, and The Brothers Pigglett by Julie Kagawa was an amusing take on the Three Little Pigs.

It's hard to review an anthology like this without giving too much away, but I can highly recommend this one to anyone who likes fairy tale retellings, YA, talented authors, or just plain good stories!


eARC received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Book Review: After I'm Gone

Book Review: After I'm Gone by Laura Lippman
After I'm Gone by Laura Lippman

When Felix Brewer meets nineteen-year-old Bernadette "Bambi" Gottschalk at a Valentine's Dance in 1959, he charms her with wild promises, some of which he actually keeps. Thanks to his lucrative - if not all legal - businesses, she and their three little girls live in luxury. But on the Fourth of July, 1976, Bambi's comfortable world implodes when Felix, newly convicted and facing prison, mysteriously vanishes.

Though Bambi has no idea where her husband-or all of his money-might be, she suspects one woman does: his devoted young mistress, Julie. When Julie disappears ten years to the day that Felix went on the lam, everyone assumes she's left to join her old lover - until her remains are eventually found in a secluded wooded park.

Now, twenty-six years after Julie went missing, Roberto "Sandy" Sanchez, a retired Baltimore detective working cold cases for some extra cash, is investigating her murder. What he discovers is a tangled web of bitterness, jealously, resentment, greed, and longing stretching over three decades that connects five intriguing women: a faithful wife, a dead mistress, and three very different daughters. And at the center is the man who, though long gone, has never been forgotten by the five women who loved him: the enigmatic Felix Brewer.

Somewhere between the secrets and lies connecting past and present, Sandy will find the truth. And when he does, no one will ever be the same. (Goodreads)

My Thoughts:

A fascinating story told by multiple narrators, we slowly piece together the type of man Felix was and the impact he had on the women who loved him.

The story could have been confusing in less talented hands, but the author masterfully weaves together various tales from various time frames. It helps that each chapter has a date, as they bounce back and forth between past and present. Flashback stories can be tough to pull off, but I never got confused or lost. Each chapter is narrated by a different person too, and everyone had a unique voice.

We follow Bambi, Felix's wife, from the time she first meets Felix to present day. We watch her three daughters grow up and have children of their own. Then there is Felix's best friend Burt and his wife Louise (Bambi's BFF), Felix's bail bondsman/friend Tubby and girlfriend Susie, Felix's girlfriend Julie, and the man who tries to solve her murder, Sandy. Lots of characters, but their stories are so intriguing that we're pulled in and soon get caught up in all of the action!

A very well-done story with interesting characters and a well paced plot, by a talented author. There wasn't a boring character in the entire line-up, and even the missing Felix peaked my curiosity and earned my begrudging respect for his charismatic charm. Highly recommended if you're looking for a good read!


ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Saturday, February 15, 2014

My Book Haul (41)

My Book Haul

In need of a new way to showcase titles, I decided that My Book Haul seems like a good fit. I like giving books a little special attention as sometimes it can be awhile before I'm able to review them. Sad to say, but some get put on the shelf and gather a little dust before I'm able to give them the love they deserve. I've included links to Goodreads if you want more information on the books.

For Review:

Lori Foster is one of those authors that really knows how to do a series properly! While I'm normally not much of a romance reader, I love Lori's books because she does such great continuing characters and you can't wait to read the next story. Dash is Logan's brother, from book one of the Lover Undercover series. Love when authors do that!

 photo DashofPeril.jpg
Dash of Peril by Lori Foster

A no-nonsense female cop reluctantly teams up with the one man who makes her lose control in a deliciously sensual new novel from New York Times bestselling author Lori Foster...


What did you receive this week?


Monday, February 10, 2014

Book Review: Perfect

 photo perfect.jpgPerfect by Rachel Joyce

Byron Hemmings wakes to a morning that looks like any other: his school uniform draped over his wooden desk chair, his sister arguing over the breakfast cereal, the click of his mother’s heels as she crosses the kitchen. But when the three of them leave home, driving into a dense summer fog, the morning takes an unmistakable turn. In one terrible moment, something happens, something completely unexpected and at odds with life as Byron understands it. While his mother seems not to have noticed, for eleven-year-old Byron nothing can ever be the same. (Goodreads)

My Thoughts:

This story was a bit of a surprise, as the blurb I read focused on the addition of two seconds to the clock and I assumed that some kind of fantasy element would be involved. While Byron does obsess about the added two seconds, it's not the main focus of the book and there's no time travel involved at all.

Byron is a British schoolboy, living in the countryside with his mother and sister. His father visits on the weekends and seems to be the stereotypical cold Englishman. Byron goes to a private school, is on the chubby side, and doesn't have many friends.

Byron's chapters alternate with Jim's, the other main character. After spending most of his adult life in a mental institution, Jim now lives in a van and works at a small cafe. With his many issues, from social anxiety to his obsessive compulsive behavior, you just know that the story isn't going to end well for Jim. I guessed at how these two lives would intersect fairly early, but was way off. I love when that happens! You think you know what's going on, but you're wrong!

Byron's story takes place in 1972, while Jim's story is present day. It wasn't hard keeping track of the two storylines, and both characters were fairly interesting. While Byron is an anxious boy, the character I really felt sorry for was Byron's mother. She's quickly overwhelmed by a situation that rapidly spins out of control, and let's just say that she could have handled things better.

While not my usual type of read, the alternating plots kept things interesting. I was a little more interested in Jim's story than Byron's, but they both had their moments. I would have liked to heard more from some of the secondary characters, but that may have been too much information. Enjoyed the ending, even though it wasn't what I expected.



eBook received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Saturday, February 8, 2014

My Book Haul (40)

My Book Haul

In need of a new way to showcase titles, I decided that My Book Haul seems like a good fit. I like giving books a little special attention as sometimes it can be awhile before I'm able to review them. Sad to say, but some get put on the shelf and gather a little dust before I'm able to give them the love they deserve. I've included links to Goodreads if you want more information.

For Review:

I received an email invitation to review this one and thought it sounded fascinating. I love the whole idea of coincidence and deja vu, so hope it lives up to expectations!

 photo coincidence.jpg
Coincidence by J.W. Ironmonger

A warm and romantic, yet intellectually fascinating, story of two souls trying to make sense of the universe and our place in it, Coincidence is an unforgettable novel by a storyteller of masterful gifts. (Goodreads)

What did you receive this week?



Friday, February 7, 2014

Book Review: Buzz Books 2014

Buzz Books 2014
Buzz Books 2014 collection

There’s nothing like the excitement of being one of the first people to discover a great new read. Now in its fourth edition, Buzz Books has proven itself as the place where book publishing insiders and passionate book lovers alike can get their first taste of some of the year’s most extraordinary new books. The overwhelming majority of our selections go on to win awards and appear on booksellers’ monthly lists of “best books” as well as “best books of the year” from many sources - while topping bestseller lists and reading group selections as well. (Goodreads)

My Thoughts:

Really enjoy buzz books, as they're a great way to sample some of the best new releases without having to track down and download them one by one. Plus, there's the added benefit of knowing that these titles are hand-selected as the best of the best!

I read at least some of each story, some fully and some I just skimmed. I'm to the point where I can tell within a few pages if something is to my liking or not. Very few books are the exception to my "grab me on the first page" rule, so I move on to the next story.

Here are the ones that grabbed my attention and made me want to read more:

A large part of these are YA titles (no surprise there), but there are a few from other categories as well. Haven't requested any of these from NetGalley yet as I need to finish the ones I've already requested first, but really looking forward to reading these!


eBook received via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Book Review: The Ascendant

 photo ascendant.jpgThe Ascendant by Drew Chapman

Numbers don’t lie. Not according to Garrett Reilly who, just two weeks past his twenty-sixth birthday, thinks he’s probably the best bond analyst at his brokerage - maybe even the best in all of Manhattan. Garrett’s memory for numbers is photographic. But he doesn’t just memorize them; he sorts them, ranks them, senses patterns in them. As he watches buy and sell numbers float across his Bloomberg terminal, Garrett notices what nobody else can: that US Treasury bonds are being sold off at an alarming rate - two hundred billion dollars’ worth. It’s a discovery that he knows will make him incredibly rich.

Then the United States military arrives at his office, and Garrett’s life is blown to pieces. As Captain Alexis Truffant explains, Garrett has stumbled upon something much larger - and scarier - than he could have imagined: the first attack in a covert war of unthinkable proportions. His biggest problem? Numbers don’t lie…but governments can.

In this taut and cunning novel, Drew Chapman takes readers into a scenario that is eerily plausible and utterly terrifying - an unconventional war capable of bringing a superpower to its knees. The Ascendant is a brilliant new twist on the art of the white-knuckle thriller. (Goodreads)

My Thoughts:

This was a fascinating read, with each chapter reading like another piece of the puzzle, gradually building towards the final, big picture! Incredibly well written, I was sucked into the story and couldn't wait to see what happened next!

The story is told by several narrators, with each chapter labeled with the location, date, and time. It seems to be a linear timeline, but I didn't pay too much attention to the date/times. Every chapter is from a different viewpoint, but the puzzle pieces fit together nicely and it's easy to keep track of the plot.

Garrett is one of the main characters and a bit of a jerk, but a genius when it comes to recognizing patterns. And it may be a stereotype, but jerkiness seems to go hand & hand with genius.

Without giving too much away, Garrett is soon embroiled in an unconventional situation, making full use of his unique ability to find patterns and think outside of the box. Part of what made the story so fascinating is that it could be true!

While not my usual genre, I found the story compelling and about halfway through, I couldn't put it down! Strong, believable characters with a plausible plot, I think this is a worthwhile read for anyone in search of a good book!



ARC received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Monday, February 3, 2014

January Wrap Up

library-6
It's a brand new year, so want to do a monthly wrap up to keep me on track!

Books read

In order to meet my Goodreads goal of 100 books, I need to read 8.33 books per month. According to Goodreads, I've read 6 books this month:

  1. Dark Currents by Jacqueline Carey
  2. Dark Prelude by E.J. Wesley
  3. Dragon's Game by E.J. Wesley
  4. Perfect by Rachel Joyce
  5. Grim anthology
  6. Killer Frost by Jennifer Estep

Blog Goals

Thanks to the Blogger Challenge and mini Bloggiesta, I managed to cross a few more things off my to-do list! Need to remember to use my Google calendar to schedule reminders for backing up my blog every month and cross-posting my reviews. I also want to become more comfortable with Google+.

Commenting

Think I did a great job of sticking to my goal of commenting on at least 5 blogs per day! Started off easy by taking part in Parajunkee's Book Blogger New Year's Challenge at the beginning of the month, then the mini Bloggiesta weekend.

I tried something a little different by keeping track of where I commented and if I received any comments back. I love spreadsheets, so had a little fun with this! Because of the events I took part in, I averaged 25 comments a day! A bit discouraged that I didn't get the comment-love results I had hoped for, as commenting on that many blogs took more time than expected. Will stick to my 5+ comments per day goal, as that's easier.

Time Management

Over the years, I've gotten into the habit of multi-tasking. I usually have 6 or more windows open at once, with several tabs in each window (thank you Chrome!). I've found that rather than make me more productive, it's had the opposite effect and I tend to bounce around and get nothing done.

Decided to try something new and focus on one task at a time. To help with this goal, I downloaded a free countdown clock at www.timer-tab.com (has other options, but I like the countdown clock). I changed the YouTube alarm to the Dr Who theme, and it makes me smile every time it goes off. I give myself a set amount of time and when the alarm goes off, move to the next item on my list. This way, I don't lose time playing Facebook games or bopping around the blogosphere.

Overall

Not a bad start to a new year, and I got quite a few things done. Need to keep on top of my reading if I want to make my yearly reading goal, and I would like to get at least one week ahead on scheduled posts so I'm not always scrambling to write reviews.

The countdown clock seems to be working, but it's harder than expected to resist the siren call of multi-tasking. It's still a work in progress.

How did you do in January? Meet all of your goals? Have any time management tricks you'd like to share?

Saturday, February 1, 2014

My Book Haul (39)

My Book Haul

In need of a new way to showcase titles, I decided that My Book Haul seems like a good fit. I like giving books a little special attention as sometimes it can be awhile before I'm able to review them. Sad to say, but some get put on the shelf and gather a little dust before I'm able to give them the love they deserve. I've included links to Goodreads if you want more information on the books.

For Review:

The synopsis on this one really caught my eye, so was happy that I was able to request an ARC from Amazon Vine!

The Uninvited
The Uninvited by Sophie Jordan

The Scarlet Letter meets Minority Report in bestselling author Sophie Jordan's chilling new novel about a teenage girl who is ostracized when her genetic test proves she's destined to become a murderer. (Goodreads)

***

I received an email from the publisher featuring this title and it reminded me of Nora Ephron's I Feel Bad About My Neck for some reason, so couldn't resist requesting a copy on NetGalley!

I See You Made an Effort
I See You Made an Effort by Annabelle Gurwitch

Annabelle Gurwitch the humorist The Washington Post calls hilarious and O, The Oprah Magazine slyly subversive returns with a wickedly funny new book chronicling the vicissitudes of turning 50. (Goodreads)


What did you receive this week?