Sunday, September 30, 2012

Blood Kin

I was due for some mindless fantasy and "Blood Kin" definitely fit the bill. The story follows half Fae and night world spy, Holly, as she gets coerced into the most dangerous spying mission she's ever encountered. She has to team up with a cocky, self assured, and righteous Templar, Guy DuCaine and the unlikely duo soon realize that they have more in common then they could ever imagine (hello sex scenes!). Their quest for information takes them through the Blood courts of the vampires, and into the Veiled world of the Fae and the tangled web of lies and information becomes more hopelessly entangled as they try to get to the bottom of their quest.

Overall, it's fast paced enough to get you to keep turning the pages, but yet also manages to be mindless enough that once you're done reading it you pretty much forget all about it or stop caring about it. If there was a beach read fantasy genre this would fit the bill. It's good enough to read once, but not great enough to keep on your shelf and re-read.

I received this book for free from Goodreads Giveaways in return for my honest unbiased opinion.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Par None, the Best Fiction Book on the Conflict in the Middle East

The Watch had me from the very first paragraph, hell, I was in near tears at the end of the first chapter. A simply phenomenal book. Impossible to put down, and even harder to stop thinking about. The Watch  opens with a young Middle Eastern woman traveling far across the mountains to an American military base in order to collect her brother's body after a failed attack on the fort (retaliation for the bombing of her village) and bury it according to Muslim custom. Arriving at the base she is met with hostility because they believe her to be a terrorist or a "black widow" and they refuse to give her her brother's body because they think he is an important figure in the Taliban. However, after a few days the men at the base start to empathize with her plight and it throws them into a deep dark depression. What were they here fighting for really? Weren't they supposed to be helping this country? Why were they having to deny this young injured native woman her brother's body? Each chapter has a different narrator, from the young girl to the lieutenant, doctor, first lieutenant, translator, to captain. The story gains more significance as it is viewed through each character's eyes.

Overall, absolutely stunning. You feel as though you are with them in the blazing hot desert and you feel all their pain and helplessness. It's a truly gripping tale that exemplifies all the important questions about the war in Iraq and Afghanistan and the lasting consequences it will have on the country's citizens and on the American soldiers when they get back home. Seriously, what an amazing read. 5 out of 5 stars.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Bloody Good Read!

Holy shit. I haven't had a book punch me in the gut like this in a long time. Sweet Jesus this was a great read, and probably has one of the best endings I've read in quite a long time.

"I Hunt Killers" follows Jazz as he tries to come to terms with his haunted past and be a normal teenager. You see, Jazz isn't a normal kid, his dad was a notorious serial killer (124 murders! notorious is an understatement!) and Jazz grew up with a sociopath that taught him how to best severe off limbs, dissolve bodies, manipulate people, and think like a killer. Even though his crazy father, Billy Dent, was caught and imprisoned for life when he was 12, Jazz still can't come to terms. He's 17 and incredibly guilty that he didn't stop his father as a child and he's incredibly scared that he's really a killer at heart because he can't stop thinking about the messed up things his father taught him. Thankfully, he has an amazing best friend, Howie, who stood by him even when the world hated/shunned him because of who his father was. He also has a supportive girlfriend who puts up with his neurotic tendencies and a crazy senile grandma that he takes care of. As if trying to be a normal kid isn't hard enough there is a murder in toen and Jazz immediately recognizes the signs and tells the sheriff that it's a serial killer. The sheriff doesn't believe him so Jazz and Howie do some sleuthing and find some clues that the police miss. They still don't believe Jazz, so he becomes obsessed with finding the killer himself, soon enough there are a string of other murders and Jazz becomes central to the investigation when he figures out the pattern. Finally, Jazz can put his messed up killer mind to use for good, but as he does old memories begin to surface and it nearly tears him apart.

Overall the book is fantastic! It hooks you right from the beginning and you learn more about serial murderers and methods of killing than you ever wanted to know, but it's fascinating in a creepy way. This book is a must read and it's nearly impossible to put down. The ending alone is worth reading for, holy crap you don't see it coming. There better be a sequel!!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Band of Sisters

I haven't read a historical fiction book in a while that left a good impression, but Cathy Gohlke's, Band of Sisters, really struck a chord with me ( It really makes you think and begs you to get involved with a problem that is unfortunately still present today.

This heartfelt and wrenching novel follows young Maureen and her thirteen year old sister, Katie Rose, as they flee from Dublin and try to make a new start in New York City. Maureen is trying to escape from a shameful past in Ireland and their only hope is that their deceased father's old military friend will honor a letter he wrote to him nearly twenty years prior ensuring him and his family a home and job in the city. After barely making it past the Ellis Island check points, Maureen is further discouraged when she discovers that Colonel Wakefield is deceased and the family wants nothing to do with her (or so she thinks). Thanks to the aid of young Jamie Flynn (an unworthy chap who loans Maureen money), Joshua Keeton (a young Irish chap who came over with them and is besotten with Maureeen but she unfortunately doesn't want anything to do with him because he knows of her past), and Mrs. Melkford (an elderly missionary lady who looks after the girls and vouches for them at Ellis Island) the two sisters are able to survive, but just barely.

Things start to get gritty really fast when Maureen discovers the "escort service" going on upstairs at her new job in a department store. Soon girls start to go missing, and asking questions becomes dangerous. Maureen fears for her and her sister's life thinking that they might be sold into white slavery. Thankfully, Olivia Wakefield's beau, Curtis, is on the trail to hunt down the men involved with the disappearences and he enlists Maureen and Joshua to help him. Maureen starts to wonder if she might love Joshua as he loves her, but Katie Rose tries to ruin things by bringing up Maureen's shameful past in Ireland which drives a wedge between the sisters. Will Curtis and his helpers get to the bottom of the missing girls, will Katie Rose ever forgive Maureen (and vice-versa), will the Colonel's family ever honor their father's wishes and help out the two Irish sisters? For goodness gracious read to find out. You won't be disappointed.

Overall, this book paints an intricate historical portrait of the dangers young immigrants faced in New York City. It was gripping and inspiring and totally impossible to put down. Being sold into the sex trade and horrible working conditions (for all you history buffs, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire is referenced) were just a few of the horrors that these young immigrants had to face.  Even though these problem aren't running rampant in America, they are still present here and is a huge problem across the globe. This book is a chilling reminder of how we need to unite to combat these social problems for the good of all.

After reading this book you might be compelled to ask what you can do to help stop human trafficking. The following website,, provides valuable resources about human trafficking by country, and what you can do to raise awareness and stop this horrible trend.

I received this book for free from Tyndale Publishing in return for my honest, unbiased opinion.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Where Things Come Back

“Where Things Come Back” isn’t one of your stereotypical feel good young adult novels. Author,
John Corey Whaley, grabs you right from the get go and throws you right to the wolves. On the very first page, seventeen year old Cullen Witter sees his first dead bodies, one of them being his cousin. Instead of feeling sadness, Cullen just feels numb, knowing deep inside that this was bound to happen eventually to his no good, junkie, older cousin. And the story doesn’t get any easier from there! Within a few chapters Cullen’s younger brother and role model, Gabriel, goes missing. At first everyone thinks it’s a mistake and he’ll just come waltzing back, but as the weeks drag on, Cullen, his parents, and his best friend, Lucas slowly start to go mad, they simply don’t know how to react. To make things worse, their small town is becoming notorious for the spotting of a once thought extinct woodpecker. People flock to find a glimpse of this bird, and it tears Cullen and his family apart that more people seemingly care about finding this stupid bird then they do his brother.

Throughout the novel Cullen tries nearly everything to escape the hurt and bewilderment about the loss of his brother, he tries to escape in sex, in his brother’s room and music, in Lucas’ crazy kidnapping ideas but nothing works. It’s a gut-wrenching journey that the reader feels in the pit of his/her stomach as we wait eagerly to see how it all turns out. Whaley beautifully illustrates the character’s emotions, so much so, that sometimes we forget that we aren’t a character in this book. It is easy to get lost in this painful journey.

The story is also made more interesting by the occasional side chapters by other minor characters. At first the purpose isn’t clear but as the story goes on they have an interesting way of being the missing puzzle pieces that help put together the larger picture.

Overall, I think that this is a fantastic book for teenagers. It is engaging, addresses a plethora of issues: family problems, the loss of a sibling, teen sex, stereotypes, high school problems, etc. There is something that everyone can easily relate to. Even though the story is told through the eyes of a high school boy, girls would have no problems relating with many of his problems. The story was well written, kept the reader hanging, age appropriate (since basically anything goes with teenagers these days), and had a unique story pattern that kept the plot hurtling forward. I think that this was well deserving of the Printz award.