Sunday, January 27, 2013

Safe Haven

This was a breeze to get through. One lazy Sunday and BAM it's down. Occasionally, I like to read a fast, no brainer, romantic book and this fit the bill. Nicholas Sparks has the ability to suck you in with his too good to be true romances and this is no exception.

Katie is a girl running from a haunted past (aka abusive husband) and she lands in, Southport, a sleepy town thousands of miles away from her husband.  She tries to stay inconspicuous and under the radar but soon she attracts the attention of Alex, an attractive widower with two small children. Of course Alex is the most perfect of men and she succumbs to his good looks and manners, but what happens if her past catches up to her?

Read to find out more. This is a perfect beach read, although not my favorite Nicholas Sparks novel (I do however plan on seeing the movie next month!)

At Dawn

It took me a hot second to get into this book about a young man down and out on his luck, but once I did get into it, I read it in one sitting.

Stratton leaves New York life and heads to Chicago with nothing but a duffle bag and $300 in his pocket. He soon learns that achieving the American dream isn't going to be easy. Stratton is desperate for anything, anything that will help him forget his troubled past, but he soon discovers that he has to reconcile the horrible things that happened in his youth or he'll lose everything he's tried so hard to achieve.

There are some pretty good characters in the book and I particularly enjoyed getting to learn about Gene, a former Vietnam vet and Stratton's landlord. He seems a perfect elderly gentleman who I would love to have a drink with.

Overall, this book isn't quite a beach read but it is good nonetheless. Just don't expect to be in a chipper mood at the end. It's a gritty look at life, but it's real and relatable.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Christmas Cheer

I know I'm a bit behind reviewing this. After all, nearly all the stores have replaced the reds and greens with pink hearts, chocolates, and mini heart shaped antacids. Le sigh, I'm always behind.

Anyways, this little collection of Christmas memories was cute and thoughtful and would have been much, much,  more appropriate last month. Regardless, I found it cute, inspiring, and was glad that it looked past the consumerism of the holidays and went straight for the heart of the season. Joseph Bottum recalls his childhood Christmases spent in South Dakota and vividly brings alive a plethora of down home American traditions.

It's a fast read, there are a mere five chapters and there is no real organization or plot. It is a bunch of memories, stories, and traditions jumbled into one pocket sized book that is guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

I received this book for free from Waterbrook press in return for my honest, unbiased opinion.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Suspense - The Bone Collector

Author: Jeffery Deaver

Title: The Bone Collector

Publication Date: 1998

Number of Pages: 427

Geographical Setting: New York

Time Period: 1990s

Series: 1st in the Lincoln Rhyme Series

Plot Summary: Suspense novels aren't generally my cup of tea but I really did enjoy this one. It was extremely fast paced and the serial killer added some historical intrigue to New York City that I found appealing.

The book starts off as young Detective Sachs discovers a hand emerging from the dirt. As she assesses the crime scene she realizes that the killer left behind clues that have to be deciphered in order to find the next victims before they too are killed in an unfortunate manner. She gets paired up with Lincoln Rhyme, formerly one of the best criminalists in the country and now quadriplegic, and together they make an unlikely duo as they try to track down one of the smartest and most demented serial killers New York City has ever seen.

This novel is great, but not for the faint of heart, there are scenes that will make your stomach churn and make you sleep with the light on. Lincoln and Sachs have their hands full with one crafty and disgusting serial murderer.

This suspenseful read is also the basis for the movie, "The Bone Collector," starring Denzel Washington, Angelina Jolie, and Queen Latifa. The movie follows the novel quite well and is a great adaptation. Fans of the lead character, Lincoln, will be pleased to learn that there is a whole series dedicated to his thrilling adventures.

Subject Headings: (via WorldCat)
Rhyme, Lincoln (Fictitious character) -- Fiction. Police -- New York (State) -- New York -- Fiction. Forensic scientists -- Fiction. Quadriplegics -- Fiction.

Appeal: Fast paced, explores the world of forensic science, dark, and graphic.

Similar Authors & Works:
1. Fiction: (via Goodreads)
Rules of Prey by John Sandford
Blindsighted by Karin Slaughter
The Poet by Michael Connelly

2. Non-Fiction: (via subject heading search in WorldCat)
Solving Crimes: Pioneers of Forensic Science by Ron Fridell
Forensics: Solving the Crimes by Tabatha Yeatts
Vice Cop: My Twenty Year Battle with New York's Dark Side by Bill McCarthy


Wow. This book draws you in from page one and doesn't loosen it's grip til you get to the epic conclusion. When I first heard the premise for this story, time travel mixed with historical fiction, I instantly thought of the "Outlander" series and I was a little apprehensive. But once I launched into "Kindred" any fears I had about sappy romance were instantly squelched, this is book is gritty, realistic, saddening, and extremely captivating.

The story follows Dana, a young black woman who keeps getting transported back in time from 1976 to the early nineteenth century in order to save her ancestors. Every time Rufus, a slaveholder's son, is in trouble Dana magically appears and has to save the day. Things are very dangerous for Dana she is black and in the south, and as she finds out, her ancestor is a white plantation owner.

Can she keep him safe and save her lineage? How can she get safely back home? All these questions plague Dana's mind and she learns the real brutal truths in history as she keeps getting sent back.

Overall this book is fantastic, it tackles issues such as interracial marriage and slavery, items that are still hot topics today. A great read, I would highly recommend it!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Diviners

I'm really glad I found my way back to Libba Bray, in high school I had read her famed book, "A Great and Terrible Beauty" and really enjoyed it, but for some reason I didn't pick up any more books by her. I'm glad that streak has ended, because this was a fabulous read!

First off, this story takes place in in Manhatten during the Prohibition, there are speakeasies, great music and fabulous style. I'm already sold, I love reading about this era. Libba Bray did her research well, even the slang the characters use is spot on. You really are transported back in time while reading this. 

The story follows Evie as she is sent from Ohio to live with an uncle after she misuses her "gift" and it gets her in trouble (she can get memories and readings from people's personal objects). While working for her uncle in the museum of "creepy crawlies" she befriends a pickpocket (Sam), one of her uncle's employees (Jericho), a fabulous flapper (Theta), and reconnects with an old friend (Mabel). Together they help Evie's uncle and police catch the pentacle killer using the museums library, their intellect, and their "gifts."

Throughout the story we are introduced to other characters in the story that have unique abilities, Memphis, an aspiring black poet from Harlem, has the ability to heal others. His younger brother, Isaiah, also has the ability to see the future. It isn't all fun and games though having these abilities, all the "diviners" (those with gifts) keep dreaming of a crossroads and a great evil coming. Can they stop whatever it is? Is the pentacle killer the great evil?

This book is very fast paced, not a dull moment in here, the characters are very well developed and likable. The story is even spooky at parts and I had to keep reminding myself that this was a young adult novel, I shouldn't be scared!

Overall, it's a great great book. I know this review has been full of ramblings, but this book contains so much! Read it! It's suspensful, full of things that go bump in the night, historical intrigue, and friendship.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Reading Profile for My Reader's Advisory Class

I am an avid reader and my goal for 2013 is to read 120 books (last year I read 102 and the year before that 65!). My favorite genre is literary fiction, classic literature, fantasy, and horror and my least favorite genre is romance, specifically romance that is super cheesey and predictable.Currently I am reading The Diviners by Libba Bray (for a young adult book club with Dr. Irwin next Friday afternoon). Speaking of book clubs I am involved in 4, one of which I started with some of my friends from undergrad. Some other tid bits about me, I am a reviewer for Tyndale Press, Waterbrook Press, and The Library Journal (yay for free books!). The staff know me on a first name basis at Half Price Books because I come in so often to sell and buy books. I own around two thousand books (maybe more, I gave up counting), I have a serious book addiction. Here are some lists for your reading pleasure:
* Top 5 books I read in 2012 were:
1. Enchantments - Kathryn Harrison (historical fiction about Rasputin’s daughter – mesmerizing!)
2. A Monster Calls - Patrick Ness (a monster visits a boy as his mom’s cancer worsens – heart wrenching!) 
3. Killing Yourself to Live - Chuck Klosterman (pop culture look at dead rock musicians in the US – fascinating!)
4. The Watch - Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya (the conflict in Afghanistan through different perspectives – must read!)
5. American Gods – Neil Gaiman (finding the soul of America through old gods and new – simply stunning!)

* My Top 5 ALL TIME FAVORITE Books/Series:
     1. The Stand by Stephen King
     2. The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling
     3. The Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin
     4. The Hannibal Lector trilogy (prequel not included, it was crap!) by Thomas Harris
     5. Welcome to the Monkeyhouse by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

She's Still Got the Magic!

It took me a while but I finally finished this bad boy. This was one of those books where I was immediately hooked, then lost interest for a while in the middle, and then got hooked again. There is a lot of back and forth and you have no clue how the story will end.

And boy o boy, there is a lot to keep track of! The story follows a community's reaction to the untimely death of Barry Fairbrother, one of Pagford's councillors. As the story progresses the townspeople's different "hidden agendas" come to life. The story is viewed through about 20 of Pagford's citizen's eyes and sometimes it's hard to keep track of who's who, and who has biases against whom and so on and so forth. The good thing is that most of these characters are relateable on some level and the other ones? Well they're just fun to hate :)

Part of me was disappointed that this was not Harry Potter, I know, I know, she's trying to break away from that and do her own thing, but it's soo new to me. One good thing is that her writing style is still the same and her words still have a magical, flowing quality about them.

Overall, this book was different from anything I have read in a long long time. The concept may sound kind of droll (who cares about a small English town?) but it hooks you regardless and Rowling keeps you guessing til the very end. Who will fill Barry's seat on council? Will his agenda be dropped? Who is spilling Pagford's darkest secrets?

This is one of those books that everyone is reading and you need to be in the know. So read it! And let me know what you think of JK Rowling's newest project!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Reading Challenge Check-In #2

Check in #2 on the Semi-Charmed Book Challenge! I haven't gotten too much more knocked out but here's what I do have...

5 points: Read a book written by an author you have never read before.
"Code Name Verity" by Elizabeth Wein
5: Read a book you already have at home but haven’t gotten around to yet.

"Seven Deadly Sins" by Corey Taylor
10: Read a book written in the decade that you were born.
10: Read a book that takes place in the state/province where you were born. If you were born outside the U.S. and Canada, read a book that takes place in the country you were born.
15: Read a book titled
The _______'s Daughter or The _______'s Wife.
15: Read a book that was originally written in a language other than English.
20: Read a book with a number in the title. This could be an actual digit or a number like “hundred” or “thousand.” No arbitrary numbers are allowed (e.g. several, few, many, couple).
20: Read a book set during Christmas or another winter holiday.
20: Read a book written by an author who shares your initials.
25: Read a
Pulitzer Prize winner or finalist for fiction.
25: Re-read a book.
"Boston Jane" by Jennifer L. Holm
30: Read three books from three different genres (e.g. romance, historical fiction, horror, biography, etc.). Remember, the books used for this category cannot count for any other category.
1. "Enchantments" by Kathryn Harrison (historical fiction)
2. "Shadow and Bone" by Leigh Bardugo (young adult fantasy)
3. "Cloud Atlas" by David Mitchell (fiction)

Well I'm finally up to 65! Let's see if I can finish this bad boy!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Hobbit

I'm glad to say that I enjoyed re-reading this book as much as I enjoyed reading it for the first time when I was in fifth grade. My goal was to have this finished before I saw the Hobbit in the theaters, but alas, I ran out of time. Regardless, I thought the movie was fantastic and now that I've finished the book I am quite pleased with how much it aligned with the film.

Personally, I always enjoyed this tale more than the Lord of the Ring's series because it was more straightforward, easier to understand, and much, much shorter.

This story tells the tale of a young hobbit named Bilbo Baggins who is cajoled into going on an adventure with thirteen dwarves and a wizard as they try and reclaim the Lonely Mountain from a treacherous old dragon named Smaug. Along the way they have to battle off goblins, elves, trolls,giant spiders, and suffer through fantastically cruel landscapes just to get to the mountain. Along the way, Bilbo learns a great deal about himself and and the world around him and is drastically changed for the better.

This is a fantastic adventure story for the young and old alike, it is a timeless tale, of bravery, hardships, and friendship and is a must read for all.