Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Book Review: Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick

Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick by Joe Schreiber

Source:  ARC provided by the Amazon Vine Program

Rating:  4/5

Perry Stormaire is a normal high school senior -  he is busy applying to college and rehearsing with his band - until he agrees to go to the prom with the Lithuanian exchange student who is staying with his family. It turns out that Gobi Zaksauskas is not the mousy teenager that she seems but rather an attractive, confident trained assassin. Instead of going to the prom, Perry finds himself on a wild ride through the streets of New York City as Gobi commandeers the Jaguar his father lent him for the prom in order to take out her targets. Perry learns a lot about himself - and ends up with some amazing material for his college application essays. (Goodreads)

My Thoughts
This was one of the "hot" titles at BEA this year, and was featured on one of the Editor's Buzz Panels. I wasn't able to snag a copy at BEA, so was very happy to be able to get an ARC of my very own!

The narrator is Perry, a high school senior whose family is hosting a foreign exchange student named Gobi. Unfortunately for Perry and his friends, Gobi is not a hot Swedish model wannabe, but a plain Lithuanian wall flower. Gobi doesn't seem interested in making friends or fitting in, but content to remaining invisible at school. Until she gets it in her head that she wants to attend senior prom. And Perry is nominated as her escort. Poor Perry.

Unable to worm his way out of the date, Perry is resigned to escorting Gobi to the prom and does his best to see that she has a nice time. Perry is a genuinely nice guy, and couldn't be more surprised when Gobi turns out to be much more than the shy wall flower she pretended to be!

Taken along on a wild ride through Manhattan, Perry acts as Gobi's chauffeur while she crosses names off of her hit list. Literally. It's a crazy adventure, yet the author keeps things fun and almost believable. A much more enjoyable ride than Collateral (or any of the hit man/innocent bystander movies out there)!

Gave this one a 4/5 as it's a fast, fun read. Really got a kick out of the college application questions at the start of each chapter, as they tied things together nicely. Liked Perry and even grew to like Gobi, once we got to know her and her motivations. Looking forward to reading more from the author, as he's an original talent with a good sense of humor!

ARC received in exchange for an honest review

Saturday, November 26, 2011

In My Mailbox (95)

In My Mailbox (95)
In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren. Was good this week and stuck to my book buying ban (free eBooks don't count, right?). I've included a link to Goodreads if you want more information on the book.

This was a free title at Barnes & Noble so couldn't resist downloading a copy on my nook! Looks like an awesome read!

Tiger Eye by Marjorie M. Liu
by Marjorie M. Liu

Long ago they roamed the earth -- dragons, tigers…shapeshifters -- men who wore the forms of beasts. Their world was magic. Now it is gone. But some remain…

He looks out of place in Dela Reese's Beijing hotel room -- exotic and poignant, some mythic, tragic hero of an epic tale. With his feline yellow eyes, he's like nothing from her world,. Yet Dela has danced through the echo of his soul, and knows this warrior will obey her every command.

Hari has been used and abused for millennia. But he sees, upon his release from the riddle box, that this new mistress is different. There is a hidden power in Dela's eyes -- and with her, he may regain all that was lost to him. Where once he savaged, now he must protect; where before he knew only hatred, now he must embrace love. Dela is the key. For Dela, he will risk all.

Black Friday Score:
This was by far my best Black Friday purchase - a nook Simple Touch Limited Edition! It's incredibly lightweight and easy to navigate and was love at first sight! The below is a stock photo as I've temporarily misplaced my camera cable, but I'll take pictures of him once I decide on a cover. Now I just need a name....

nook Simple Touch

What did you get in your mailbox this week?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

What's In A Name 5 Challenge

Looking forward to participating in this challenge again, so very happy that Beth Fish Reads decided to host it once again. And there are exciting, new categories for 2012!

Between January 1 and December 31, 2012, read one book in each of the following categories:

  1. A book with a topographical feature (land formation) in the title: Black Hills, Purgatory Ridge, Emily of Deep Valley
  2. A book with something you'd see in the sky in the title: Moon Called, Seeing Stars, Cloud Atlas
  3. A book with a creepy crawly in the title: Little Bee, Spider Bones, The Witches of Worm
  4. A book with a type of house in the title: The Glass Castle, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, Ape House
  5. A book with something you'd carry in your pocket, purse, or backpack in the title: Sarah's Key, The Scarlet Letter, Devlin Diary
  6. A book with a something you'd find on a calendar in the title: Day of the Jackal, Elegy for April, Freaky Friday, Year of Magical Thinking
(The book titles are just suggestions, you can read whatever book you want to fit the category.)

Other Things to Know:

  • Books may be any form (audio, print, e-book).
  • Books may overlap other challenges.
  • Books may not overlap categories; you need a different book for each category.
  • Creativity for matching the categories is not only allowed but encouraged.
  • You do not have to make a list of books before hand.
  • You do not have to read through the categories in any particular order.

Really like the categories, and looking forward to completing this one!
Interested? You can sign up for the challenge here.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Book Review: Dreamland

Dreamland by Alyson Noel

Riley’s finding that the afterlife can be a lonely place when all you do is focus on work. So she goes to the place where dreams happen, hoping to find a way to contact her sister, Ever. She meets the director, who tells her about the two ways to send dreams.

As a Dream Jumper, a person can jump into a dreamer’s dream, share a message, and participate. As a Dreamweaver, an entire dream can be created in a studio and sent to the dreamer. But Dreamweaving was outlawed decades ago, and the studio was boarded up.

Thinking it’s her only way to reach out to her sister, Riley goes in search of the old studio. There she finds a ghost boy, who’s been creating and sending nightmares to people for years. In order to stop him and reach out to Ever, Riley is going to have to confront and overcome her own fears. (Goodreads)

My Thoughts:
This is a nice story about Riley and her desire to fit in and grow up. She desperately needs her big sister's advice, and decides that the only way to make that happen is to visit Ever in her dreams. Making her way to Dreamland, she learns the ins and outs of Dream Jumping, but then runs out of time when Dreamland closes for the day. Sneaking back in to try and reach Ever, Riley may have finally found herself in over her head.

I really like Riley. She's convinced that she'll be twelve forever and, while she's good at her job, she realizes that she has no friends or hobbies and that her family has moved on. Not knowing what else to do, she turns to Ever in the hope of getting much needed advice.

Despite all she's been through, Riley is still basically a kid who makes mistakes. She doesn't realize that some of her actions may have unintended repercussions, and that sometimes rules are not made to be broken!

Gave this one a 3/5 as it's a nice story. A fast read, I think you probably need to read the books in order so you can get the full benefit of Riley's journey so far. Looking forward to seeing what happens next with Riley, her dog Buttercup, and guide Bodhi. Riley has potential, and I'd love to see her fulfill it!

Review copy provided by Zeitghost Media in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Book Review: The Darkness of Perfection

The Darkness of Perfection by Michael Schneider

He desired perfection. She already was perfect. Can two people build a love forged in the fires of hell?

Nicholas comes from a world of darkness where women are no better than slaves. He believes the secret to true happiness is for his wife to be molded to perfection.

Jayden escaped from a life of terror and found security in her new home. Given a loving home and raised with all the normal expectations of college, career, love and happiness her memories of her earlier life fade into darkness...Jayden is taken from her perfect life and thrust back into a past she'd long forgotten. Broken of spirit, she is given to Nicholas to be his bride. Goodreads)

My Thoughts:
This story was oddly compelling, in that it was all too easy to believe that Nicholas could view his life as normal and see nothing wrong with kidnapping Jayden and forcing her to marry him. After all, his family are human traffickers! Given to him as a child, he firmly believes that Jayden belongs to him and has no choice in the matter. He has built her up in his mind as the perfect mate, and is determined that they will have the perfect life together.

Rescued from a horrible future by her mother, they find sanctuary in a small town and build a new life. I found it a little difficult to believe that once they found safety, Jayden's mother didn't raise her to be able to protect herself. It's understandable that they would want a normal life, but shouldn't you provide the tools to protect your child just in case she was ever found? Have her learn self-defense, take karate classes, or something! At least have a talk with her before she leaves for college, don't just send her off on her own! Seemed irresponsible and unrealistic. If Jayden's mother was so fiercely protective and risked so much to rescue Jayden from a life of slavery, then she should have done a better job of preparing her for going off to college on her own.

It also bothered me how Nicholas found Jayden after all these years. Didn't ring true, as I couldn't see him taking the same sort of cruise that Jayden's parent would be able to afford. If his family was so rich and powerful, he would probably have chartered a private yacht if he wanted to go cruising. Seemed forced.

Don't mean to suggest that I didn't enjoy the story, as I really did! The narration switched back and forth between Jayden and Nicholas, so we could see things from both of their perspectives. I think that Nicholas really loved her (or at least the idea of her) and honestly didn't understand that what he was doing was wrong in any way. Jayden cried way too much in my opinion, but she was only 18 and had led a sheltered life.

Was torn between giving this book a 3/5 or 4/5, as some of the inconsistencies bothered me. Ultimately decided it was worth a 4/5 as I really enjoyed he story while reading and it was only afterwards that some of the plot points started to bother me. The author does a fantastic job of giving us a glimpse into the life of a human trafficker, as well as the confusion Jayden experienced while coming to grips with her situation. Will be looking for more from Michael the future, as he's very talented!

eBook received from The Writer's Coffee Shop Publishing House in exchange for an honest review

Monday, November 14, 2011

Do gaping plot holes bother you?

Every now and again I'll finish a book that I really enjoyed, without even noticing gaping plot holes. If a story pulls me in, is fast-paced, and/or has interesting characters, I tend to get caught up in the action and read happily along, totally oblivious.

I write my review, then go blog hopping to find others who have read the book so we can gush back and forth about how awesome it was! Only to discover that others weren't as impressed because they, unlike me, noticed incongruities.

For instance, there was a hot book not too long ago that several readers, me included, absolutely loved. However, there were also bloggers who couldn't get past certain plot holes that I never even noticed until I read their reviews. Once pointed out, I realized that yeah, that didn't really make sense and what the heck was the author thinking? I still thought it was a good book, but it sort of cast a pall over my excitement and I felt a little bad that I never noticed.

So I was curious about what bothers other readers about books, plots, characters, etc?

As already mentioned, I don't seem to have a problem with gaping plot holes, so long as the bulk of the book is strong. But I can't stand typos and wrong words, as they slam into my face at 100 mph and pull me right out of the book.

For instance, transposed or missing letters seem to be common errors. I understand if your fingers can't keep up with your muse, but please go back and re-read what you wrote! Aren't there drafts and rewrites and copy-edits and other boring writer stuff you're supposed to do?

And I hate it when we're talking about a male and the author refers to them as "she", or someone I thought was dead walks through the door (and they're not a ghost/zombie/vampire). I go back and re-read that bit to make sure I didn't miss something. Movies have Continuity Editors, so why don't books? 

Please let me know if I'm the only one who doesn't notice when there are plot holes large enough to drive a semi through! Do typos bug you enough that you can't enjoy the story? How about unlikable, hateful characters? What will pull you out of the story and annoy you enough to set the book aside?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

In My Mailbox (94)

In My Mailbox (94)
In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren. I've included links to Goodreads if you want more information on the books.

For Review:
Only one book this week, which snuck in at the last minute but sounded too good to resist! Galley Grab is dangerous for my TBR piles!

Unraveling Isobel by Eileen Cook
by Eileen Cook

Isobel’s life is falling apart. Her mom just married some guy she met on the internet only three months before, and is moving them to his sprawling, gothic mansion off the coast of nowhere. Goodbye, best friend. Goodbye, social life. Hello, icky new stepfather, crunchy granola town, and unbelievably good-looking, officially off-limits stepbrother.

But on her first night in her new home, Isobel starts to fear that it isn’t only her life that’s unraveling - her sanity might be giving way too. Because either Isobel is losing her mind, just like her artist father did before her, or she’s seeing ghosts. Either way, Isobel’s fast on her way to being the talk of the town for all the wrong reasons.

What did you receive in your mailbox this week?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Book Review: Matched

Matched by Ally Condie
4/5 rating

Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander's face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate... until she sees Ky Markham's face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.

The Society tells her it's a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she's destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can't stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society's infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she's known and a path that no one else has dared to follow. (Goodreads)

My Thoughts:
This is one of those books that generated so much buzz when it came out that I put it aside to read later. Sort of forgot about it until I saw that the sequel was coming out, so decided to go back and read it. I'm a little quirky in that I don't like to read the "hot" books that everyone else is reading, as the blogosphere tends to get over-saturated with reviews of the same titles. Glad I finally picked this one up, as I enjoyed it!

Cassia has been raised in a very strict society, where the government makes all major decisions for it's citizens. They decide what you eat, your job, who you will marry, and even when you will die. They've also destroyed almost all art, leaving only the 100 "best" books, music, poetry, and art. That in itself is somewhat terrifying. The Society is Big Brother squared!

As this is all she has ever known, it never crosses Cassia's mind to question the Society. Then she sees another boy's face pop up on the microchip holding her Match's information. How can this be? Xander, her BFF since childhood, is supposed to be her perfect match, so why did she see Ky's face as well? Cassia begins to wonder... and begins to question whether the Society is as perfect as it claims. Why can't people decide who to love and marry? Why did they destroy so many books, music, poems, and artwork? And what exactly is going on in the Outer Provinces?

Overall, I really enjoyed this story! I liked seeing Cassia slowly open her eyes and start to notice the small cracks in the Society all around her. I found it a little hard to believe that Ky would be so reckless, but teenage boys in love tend to be a little reckless, so it didn't bother me too, too much.

Gave this one a 4/5 as I really liked the characters, enjoyed the story, and found the plot so believable that it was scary! Revolution is hard and most people don't seem to want to fight if most of their needs are taken care of. Found this world very believable, which made me enjoy Cassia's "awakening" even more! Looking forward to reading the rest of the trilogy to find out what happens next!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Blog Tour: The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa

Blog Tour:  The Iron Knight by Julie KagawaThe Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa

Source:  Review copy provided by Meryl L. Moss Media Relations, Inc.

Rating:  4/5

Ash, former prince of the Winter Court, gave up everything. His title, his home, even his vow of loyalty. All for a girl… and all for nothing. Unless he can earn a soul. (Goodreads)

I don’t know why I haven’t killed him yet. Maybe because Puck is Meghan’s closest friend, and she would mourn him terribly if he were gone (though I can’t understand why). Or, maybe, deep down, I’m tired of being alone. In any case, it matters little. With every ruin we search, every dragon we slay, or every rumor we unearth, I’m one step closer to my goal.

My Thoughts:
Despite being a loyal member of Team Puck, I found myself really enjoying Ash's story. After pledging to Meghan that he would find a way to return to her side, Ash finds himself on a quest to become human. Joined on his journey by Puck (yea!), Grimalkin, and a few surprise travelling companions, Ash must overcome obstacles he never imagined. One of his companions is right - this is an epic tale that will survive the ages!

And make no mistake - this is an epic journey! Despite the constant bickering, Ash and Puck make excellent traveling companions. From their search for information, to their journey to the end of the world, to the obstacles they must overcome, and eventually to the trials Ash must survive, this story has all the classic elements of an Epic with a capital E!

I really enjoy this series and love the characters, so hate for it to come to an end. Despite having lived for so long, Ash really seems to grow up during this journey. And I found the trials he has to endure interesting, especially the final one. I keep hoping that Julie will decide that she needs to tell Puck's tale, and that the jester gets a chance for a happy ending of his very own!

Gave this one a 4/5 as Julie manages to keep the story fresh, brings back old favorites, keeps the action interesting, and throws in a few twists along the way. The writing is as good as ever, and it's nice to see the characters grow in unexpected ways. And you can't go wrong with Grim as one of your guides! After all, he IS a cat. :)

Please be sure to stop by and check out Candace's Book Blog for another stop on the blog tour!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Book Review: Spider's Revenge

Spider's Revenge by Jennifer Estep
rating:  4/5

Old habits die hard. And I plan on mur­der­ing some­one before the night is through.

Killing used to be my reg­u­lar gig, after all. Gin Blanco, aka the Spi­der, assassin-for-hire. And I was very good at it. Now, I’m ready to make the one hit that truly mat­ters: Mab Mon­roe, the dan­ger­ous Fire ele­men­tal who mur­dered my fam­ily when I was thir­teen. (Goodreads)

My Thoughts:
This is the fifth book featuring Gin Blanco, one of the most feared assassins around. Retirement is not working out like Gin planned, especially as she's still at war with Mab Monroe. Mab has no idea that Gin is the Spider, but that's one of the few advantages Gin has, as Mab is just plain evil.   

Mab's newest plan for getting rid of the Spider is putting a bounty on her head. This brings all kinds of bounty hunters to town. But what really forces Gin's hand is when she learns there's also a bounty on her sister's head. They've just recently found each other again, so no way will Gin let anything happen to Bria!

Really like Gin. She's one of those kickass heroines that make urban fantasy one of my favorite genres! But she's not a superhero, makes mistakes, and can get hurt. Not only can she get hurt, but it takes awhile for her to heal, even with Jo-Jo's healing air magic. I can't stand perfect heroes, and Gin is anything but!

Gin's friends and family are important to her, and she's determined to protect those she loves. And what friends they are! From the Deveraux sisters to her foster brother Flynn to lover Owen, they are all strong characters on their own, but made even more interesting by their association with Gin. Loved learning more about the Deverauxs, though it was terribly sad.

Jennifer Estep is one of my favorite writers! Gave this one a 4/5 as Gin is an awesome character and the series is holding up really well. Great characters, an excellent evil villain, and a strong plot! I love both her Elemental Assassin and Bigtime series, and am looking forward to reading Mythos Academy. Jennifer is an incredibly talented author and if you haven't read any of her books yet, what are you waiting for?

Previous review:

Spider's Bite (#1)

eBook from my personal library

Sunday, November 6, 2011

In My Mailbox (93)

In My Mailbox (93)
In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren. I've included links to Goodreads if you want more information on the books.

For Review:
Received a review request about The Informationist, which didn't seem like my type of book at first. I try to check out review requests online, and was hooked after reading the excerpt! Looking forward to this one!

The Informationist by Taylor Stevens
by Taylor Stevens

“Stevens’s blazingly brilliant debut introduces a great new action heroine, Vanessa Michael Munroe, who doesn’t have to kick over a hornet’s nest to get attention, though her feral, take-no-prisoners attitude reflects the fire of Stieg Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander….Thriller fans will eagerly await the sequel to this high-octane page-turner.” - Publishers Weekly

Received a surprise package for the upcoming blog tour for The Iron Knight. It's a press pass! Meryl L. Moss Media Relations, Inc. will be sending out press passes for future blog tours as well, so looking forward to starting a new collection!

press pass
How cool is this???

What did you receive in your mailbox this week?
Please leave a link so I can stop by and check it out!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Poll Results: What Do You Like in Reviews

A few weeks ago, I was playing around with my review format and decided to see what others thought. I know what I look for in a review but was curious about what others prefer, so posted an inquiry and poll. Was happy to discover that others look for most of the same things I do.

Synopsis - This was the most popular preference, and I couldn't agree more! While a link to Goodreads or Amazon is fine, sometimes I don't want to click and just want a quick overview. I used to post the entire synopsis from Goodreads, but sometimes that's longer than my actual review! I decided to just post a quick overview and include a link in case anyone wants the full details.

Rating - The second most popular choice. Everyone seems to have a different rating system, but I've decided to stick with a 5 point system like the ones Amazon and BN.com use. I might tweak them in the future, but for now a 3/5 is an okay read and a 5/5 is exceptional. I spelled them out on the sidebar, as I know reviewers have different thoughts on what makes a "3" vs a "5" rating.

Goodreads link - I like using a link to Goodreads instead of linking to Amazon or BN.com, as Goodreads is like the Switzerland of books and is neutral. I'm not an affiliate of either site, and I'm still a little shaky on what's permitted by the FTC, so better safe than sorry. Goodreads is one of my favorite book sites and a great place to discover more about a title, so I like including the link!

Genre - I've done this a few times in the past, but don't think I'll be including it in general reviews in the future. Don't want to scare anyone off if the book happens to be a genre they don't like. I know that there are certain genres I don't read, so I'm hesitant to try something listed as one of those genres even if the synopsis sounds good. For instance, I don't like medical thrillers, so might miss out on a great read because of my preconceived notions. May include the genre on books received for review, but not my personal copies.

Source - Doesn't seem to matter much to readers, but I'll still include it for my review copies for FTC purposes. Maybe put it at the end of the review, out of the way, instead of at the beginning....

Link to author's website - Not in high demand, but I may include links for new authors.

Publisher's name - Again, not a high demand request. The publisher doesn't really matter to me, which is why I still read some self-published titles every now and again. So long as the story is good, I don't care where it's published. Think I'll let the Goodreads link take care of this and not make a separate entry.

Number of pages - Some readers keep track of the number of pages they read and some don't. I'm one who doesn't, but at the same time, I'm hesitant to pick up a doorstop of a book. I resisted reading Outlander for a long time because of it's size, but glad I did! Will eventually read Under the Dome for the same reason. Think I'll let the Goodreads link take care of this one too and not make a separate entry.

Publication date - The least popular of all the choices, and I have to say I agree. Unless the book hasn't come out yet, when it was published doesn't really matter much. Maybe I'll just include it for not-yet-released titles?

Final Results:
source (37%)
rating  (62%)
publication date  (18%)
publisher's name  (31%)
Goodreads link  (50%)
synopsis (87%)
link to author's website  (37%)
genre (YA, urban fantasy, etc)  (50%)
number of pages (31%)

Thanks for the feedback!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

2012 Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge

2012 Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge

As some of you may or may not know, I'm a bit of a reading challenge addict. Despite repeated promises to myself that I won't sign up for any more challenges (due to my large failure rate), there are some that I simply can't resist! The Book Vixen's Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge is one of the irresistible ones! Even though I set my goal at 100, I've already outdid myself and beat my 2010 total number of books read. Am having such a good time that I decided to sign up for the 2012 event! Here are the details:

  • Runs January 1, 2012 – December 31, 2012 (books read prior to 1/1/12 do not count towards the challenge).
  • You can join at anytime. Sign up on The Book Vixen’s blog.
  • The goal is to outdo yourself by reading more books in 2012 than you did in 2011. See the different levels below and pick the one that works best for you. Nothing is set in stone; you can change levels at any time during the challenge.
  • Books can be any format (bound, eBook, audio).
  • Re-reads and crossovers from other reading challenges are allowed.
  • Grab the reading challenge button and post this reading challenge on your blog to track your progress.
  • You do not have to be a book blogger to participate; you could track your progress on Goodreads or LibraryThing.

  • Getting my heart rate up – Read 1-5 more books
  • Out of breath – Read 6-10 more books
  • Breaking a sweat – Read 11-15 more books
  • I’m on fire! – Read 16+ more books

I am going to start out with the Getting My Heart Rate up level. I've read 82 books so far in 2011 and I'm still hoping to make my goal of 100 by New Year's Eve. My goal for 2012 is to read 1 more book than my 2011 final total. Hey, if I keep my goal reasonable, maybe I'll be able to surpass it! *L*

Wish me luck!