Sunday, April 29, 2012

Ender's Game

Author: Orson Scott Card
Year: 1985
Publisher: Tor Books

This book has been in my TBR pile for years and I  just never got around to it. I'm glad I finally did. It's a difficult to explain book but in very basic terms, it takes place in the future. The earth is fighting against an alien race and there have been two previous wars with them and is now preparing for a third invasion against the aliens. The leaders have established a system where they pick children - literally babes out of the cradle - and start training them as soldiers. But now they need a commander for their army and they have chosen Ender Wiggins. Ender is brilliant, quick thinking and the last hope of the earth.

This is a very thought provoking book and not just in the sending children off to fight a war way. It has issues dealing with human rights, colonization, and our rights to destroy another civilization. I think I could re-read this book and get a whole list of new thoughts and issues from it. I was crying at the end of the book and I did not expect that to happen. I understand that there's a number of books that follow up Ender's Game and continue the story of Ender but I don't feel a desire to run out and read them. I feel that Ender's story is complete at the end of Ender's Game and that continuing the series would diminish it somehow. 

"Welcome to the human race. Nobody controls his own life, Ender. The best you can do is choose to fill the roles given you by good people, by people who love you."

A Discovery of Witches

Author: Deborah Harkness
Year:  2011
Publisher: Viking

Diana Bishop comes from a long line of power witches. After her parents are killed when she's a child, Diana decides to not use her magic and becomes a history scholar. While studying at Oxford, Diana meets a vampire named Matthew Clairmont and the attraction is instantaneous. Diana also calls up an ancient manuscript from the library that has been lost for centuries. Not realizing it's power, she sends it back to the stacks but not before word gets out and a slew of vampires, witches and daemons are after Diana and the secrets they think she knows. Her only protection from these creatures is Matthew; but, their romance is forbidden and causes even more problems for Diana and Matthew.

I loved this book. It was intellectual. There was so much fun and interesting history. The characters were great. I may be a little in love with Matthew. He's definitely at the top of my favorite vampire list. I think Harkness' writing was terrific. This book reminded me a lot of The Historian but it was much more romantic and the characters are easier to identify with.  

Friday, April 27, 2012

Seeds of Rebellion: Beyonders, Book 2

Author:  Brandon Mull
Year: 2012
Publisher:  Aladdin

At the end of the first book, A World Without Heroes, Jason is sent back to our world with knowledge that is vital to the rebellion back in Lyrian. Now, Jason has to find his way back to Lyrian so that he can help his friends. Once he gets back to Lyrian, Jason and his friends set off to defeat Maldor.

This is one of the most creative and original fantasy series that I've read in a long time. It's also a very tight story line. I read somewhere that Brandon Mull spent somewhere around ten years working on these books and I can see that. A lot of the books today are put together real fast and it feels like the author has no sense of where he's going to end up. In the Beyonders books,  I feel like Mull has a clear and distinct destination in  mind and knows how he's going to take us there. Excellent, excellent books. I highly recommend them. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Goddess Interrupted

Author:  Aimee Carter
Year:  2012
Publisher: Harlequin Teen

After passing the tests and winning her immortality and becoming Henry's wife, Kate Winters believes the hardest days are behind her (as long as she survives the next six months without Henry). Then, Henry gets kidnapped by the Titans and the only way for Kate to rescue him is by teaming up with Henry's ex-wife, Persephone and marching into Hell.

These books will never be deemed great literature BUT the romance in them is just terrific. There's no triangle to speak of but, gosh, do I sure love Henry and I love the way that Aimee Carter keeps the tension between them and at the same time makes the romance so beautiful and bittersweet. I can't believe I've got to wait until April 2013 to read the next book - that's a year away!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

You Are Not Your Bookshelf

I've loved this post I came across on another site and wanted to share it with you guys. I'm sure will love it too.

You Are Not Your Bookshelf

Blood Red Road: Dustlands, Book 1

Author:  Moira Young
Year: 2011
Publisher:  Margaret K. McElderry Books

Saba and Lugh are twins born hours apart with looks as different as night and day but they're also the best of friends. One day, Lugh is kidnapped and Saba sets off to rescue him. Along the way, she faces difficult challenges, imprisonment and death. But she also learns that she's a fighter. She makes some ragtag friends and meets Jack, a daring thief that she feels a special attraction to.

This book is a bit difficult to read as it's in dialect and it's not traditional dialogue. Once I got into the style of writing, the book really flowed. It was fast paced and the action was good. I liked Saba a lot and think she makes a good heroine. She's strong and willing to fight for those she loves. She grows a bit during the book as evidence by  her relationship with her younger sister, Emmi (who for some reason made me think of Prim from The Hunger Games). I do hate that I am starting yet another series. Whatever happened to stand alone books?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Girl Who Played With Fire

Author: Stieg Larsson
Year:  2009
Publisher:  Vintage Books

This book brings Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist back together (in a manner of speaking) as Lisbeth is accused of a triple murder and Blomkvist is convinced that she's innocent and takes it upon himself to investigate the crime. I enjoyed this book way more than The Girl With a Dragon Tattoo. Maybe it was because I was more invested in the characters. I don't know. What I do know is that this time, Larsson didn't spend quite as much time giving the readers lessons like he did in the first book and just got into the story. We learned a bit about Lisbeth in this book and, hopefully, there will be more illumination in the final book. Now I've just got to get myself a copy of it.  ;)

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Author: Stieg Larsson
Year:  2008
Publisher:  Vintage Books

I think I'm one of the last people in the world to finally break down and read these books. The Girl With a Dragon Tattoo was a perplexing start. The first 100-150 pages were extremely difficult to get through. It was complicated, difficult reading and I couldn't understand why so many people considered these to be the best books on the market today. Then, without even noticing it, I was caught up in the mystery and trying to solve it and the book was no longer difficult to read. I really like the main characters, Mikael Blomkvist and Lisabeth Salander and can't wait to see how their relationship evolves during the course of the series (although I fear that I'll be left hanging since Larsson had originally planned ten books before his death). 

I must warn readers that there are some very graphic and disturbing scenes in the book that might offend but if you can handle it, it's an excellent mystery story.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Riders of the Purple Sage

Author: Zane Grey
Year: 1912 (Original)
Publisher: 2004 Barnes & Noble Library of Essential Reading Edition

Jane Withersteen lives in Utah in the late 1890s and has the distinction of being one of the richest people in her town. When her father died, he left everything he owned to her. Although Jane is a devout Mormon, she doesn't agree with the leaders of her Mormon group and definitely does not want to marry them. Jane is "pure" of heart and wants to help everyone, Mormon and Gentile alike, which is what leads her to have trouble with the villains in the story. One afternoon, a rugged, handsome gunslinger rides into town and starts fighting for Jane and, of course, they fall in love despite their differences in religion (she's a Mormon and he's a Gentile).

In my mind, when one refers to the western genre, they're almost always referring to either a Louis Lamour or Zane Grey novel; but, I don't recall ever reading a Zane Grey novel before. The introduction to this novel calls Riders of the Purple Sage both the most popular western novel of all time and also one of the pioneering and definitive works of western literature. I must admit that there were some very compelling parts in this book. I can see how Zane Grey defined the genre. I feel like the characters could have been better developed but, it was 1912 and I'm not sure just how much character definition existed in novels then. I'm definitely glad I read the book although I don't think I'll be reading very more in the genre.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Double Bind

Author: Chris Bohjalian
Year: 2007
Publisher:  Vintage Books

Laurel Estabrook loves riding her back on the Vermont backroads until one day she is viciously attacked. After the attack, Laurel continues with her life but she is forever changed. She goes on to work at a homeless shelter after college where she meets Bobbie Crocker - a client who's a former mental patient but ends up being a success story for the shelter. After Bobbie's death, Laurel comes into contact with a box of photographs that were Bobbie's most prized possession and the photographs lead her into a mystery that consumes her life.

There were great moments in this book - especially the beginning and the ending. It lagged a bit in the middle but the ending made up for the lag. This was the first book I've read by Chris Bohjalian. I've heard and read great things about him and from the reviews I've read, this isn't his best work. I'm curious to read some of his other stuff and will definitely put him on my authors to read more of list.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Author:  Melissa Darnell
Year:  2011
Publisher:  Harlequin Teen

Savannah Colbert doesn't understand a lot of things in her life - such as why the members of the Clann hate her so much, or her recent illness or her powers. But, most of all, she doesn't understand her attraction to Tristan Coleman - the son of the Clann leader whose position he is destined to inherit. Savannah knows she should stay away from Tristan but she can't. 

This was an okay little book. It wasn't terrific but it wasn't bad either. I liked Savannah's heritage and how some of the mixings were unique but the story was about the same as any romance (at least there wasn't a love triangle).  

The Wizard of Oz

Author:  L. Frank Baum
Narrator:  Anne Hathaway

So everybody knows this story, Dorothy gets caught up in a tornado and lands in Oz where she has to make her way to the wizard and ask him to send her back home to Kansas and along the way meets the scarecrow, cowardly lion and tin man. Today I listened to the Audible A-List version narrated by Anne Hathaway. I loved the book - way more than I ever did the movie; but, most importantly, Anne Hathaway did a remarkable job on the narration. I was highly impressed. I recommend this audiobook to everyone.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Author: Cynthia Hand
Year: 2012
Publisher:  Harper Teen

Hallowed picks up not long after the events of Unearthly. Clara's having to deal with the consequences she made regarding her purpose on the day of the fire. She's started having new visions and these tell her that somebody she loves is about to die in the very near future. On top of that, Clara's struggling with her feelings for both Tucker and Christian.

I felt like Hallowed really kicked up the intensity on all levels. I wanted a little bit more action and clarification on some issues. I was impressed that Hand was able to make me indecisive on my feelings between Tucker and Christian. Maybe I'll be able to make up my mind before the end of the next book.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


Author:  Cynthia Hand
Year: 2011
Publisher:  Harper Teen

Clara Gardner is part angel. Part of the responsible of having angel blood is that Clara has a purpose on earth that she has to fulfill. Clara doesn't know her purpose but she gets visions of it and the visions show a forest fire and a handsome boy that she's able to trace to a new school. As Clara tries to fulfill her purpose she finds herself struggling between the boy from her visions and the boy who she's falling in love with. 

So this was my second angel book. I've never been that interested in them but, again, my sister insisted that I read this book. I'm glad I did. It's a good book and I love Tucker. Tucker probably ranks second behind Four (Divergent) as my favorite YA male hero. Go Tucker! There were twists in the end of this book that I could see coming but in the end it was okay. Other parts of the ending made up for that predictability and I felt like there was plenty of mystery to lead into the next book. 

Monday, April 16, 2012


Author: Karen Russell
Year: 2011
Publisher: Vintage Books

The only world that Ava Bigtree has ever known is that of Swamplandia!, her family's island home in the Florida Everglades that also doubles as an alligator theme park. The star of their show is Ava's mother and when her mom dies, the park, and Ava's family, falls apart. Ava's father goes to the  mainland to find some investors, her brother leaves home and joins a rival theme park and her sister runs off with her ghost boyfriend. Ava finds herself on a mission through the swamp to save her family.

This is the first time I've come across Karen Russell and it's my understanding that this novel is an expansion on one of her previous short stories. I was completely surprised by how much I liked this book. I found Ava and Ms. Russell's writing engaging. Ms. Russell has a commanding use of vocabulary and language. More than once I thought "now that's a $10 word." The story is unique and fun. There were parts of it I didn't like and some things that I thought could have been better explained but overall a very enjoyable read. I'm thinking about looking up some of her short stories and checking those out. 

"The Beginning of the End can feel a lot like the middle when you are living in it. When I was a kid I couldn't see any of these ridges. It was only after Swamplandia!'s fall that time folded into a story with a beginning, a middle and an ending. . . . I didn't realize that one tragedy can beget another, and another - bright-eyed disasters flooding out of a death hole like bates out of a cave." (pg. 8-9)

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Inheritance or The Vault of Souls: Inheritance, Book 4

Author:  Christopher Paolini
Year:  2011
Publisher:  Alfred A. Knopf

Inheritance is the culmination of Christopher Paolini's Inheritance cycle. In this book, Eragon, Saphira and the other "rebels" are finally facing down Galbatorix. Before they're able to face him, they still have a couple of mysteries to discover. They also must obtain the extra strength needed to bring down Galbatorix and save Alagaesia. 

If nothing else, the Inheritance cycle is Christopher Paolini's ode to Tolkien. And a pretty decent tribute it is. Paolini crafts an ancient language, uses dwarves, elves, humans and an almost animalistic race. Oh, and he ends the book much the same way Tolkien ended the Lord of the Rings trilogy - with an endless series of goodbyes. I glanced back through Eragon a time or two while reading this book and Paolini's writing has definitely improved since the first book and I felt that Inheritance was a fitting end to the series. I wanted to see more of Murtagh and I wasn't exactly pleased with the way things ended with Arya but, overall, I was not disappointed in the story.

I started out listening to the audiobook narrated by Gerard Doyle who is one of my favorite narrators; however, I wasn't able to finish the audiobook. Since Brisingr I listened to all six Septimus Heap books by Angie Sage and, try as I  might, I couldn't help but hear the Septimus Heap characters speaking instead of the Inheritance characters. Sorry, Mr. Doyle. You're still at the top of my narrators list but I couldn't separate Eragon from Septimus. Plus, I was able to physically read the book a lot faster than I could listen to it.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Beautiful Chaos

Authors: Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
Year: 2011
Publisher:  Little, Brown and Company

After Lena's Claiming, the balance between the worlds is thrown off. There's plagues hitting Gatlin and everything and everybody is thrown off balance. In Ethan's case, things are even weirder because he's experiencing strange dreams and he's forgetting things and people he's known his entire life. Plus, there's a song/prophecy Eighteen Moons but can Ethan and his friends decipher it's meaning before it's too late?

There's not much I more I can say about this installment without giving away the endings of the prior two books but I will say that I liked this book best of all. I felt the characters more and everything just seemed much more.  So, the last book doesn't come out until October?  

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Beautiful Darkness

Authors:  Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
Year:  2010
Publisher:  Little, Brown & Company

After the events of Beautiful Creatures, Ethan feels that he and Lena could win any battle but Lena feels differently. She feels responsible for what happened and feels that the only way to save the people she loves is to go away. Ethan is left alone to try and figure out the strange visions he's having and his place in the magical world he's discovered.

This book was a bit slower than Beautiful Creature but it picked up by the end and some really cool stuff happened. Now on to Beautiful Chaos.  

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Beautiful Creatures

Authors: Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
Year:  2009
Publisher:  Little, Brown & Company

Gatlin, South Carolina is a small southern town stuck in it's past. It's residents still hold fresh the wounds from the War of Northern Aggression. Ethan Wate is counting down the days until graduation and his escape from Gatlin. Then, Lena Duchannes comes to town. Lena's living with her Uncle Ravenwood whose house is rumored to be haunted and drives a hearse to school. Lena and Ethan develop an unique connection and the magic between them sizzles.

I loved this book. It was so difficult to put down and completely readable. Ethan was a very believable character and easy to identify with. Garcia and Stohl did a wonderful job with their world building and I can see that there's lots of room for them to continue developing it. I loved all their references to great literature. It felt like I'd been let loose in a library at times. I can't wait to move on to the next book in the series and see where the authors go.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Iron Knight

Author:  Julie Kagawa
Year: 2011
Publisher:  Harlequin Teen

This is the fourth and final book in Julie Kagawa's Iron Fey series. The Iron Queen "ended" Meghan Chase's story but it left Prince Ash hanging. Since Meghan accepted her destiny as the Iron Queen, Ash was unable to be with her because, being a fey, he could not live within her Iron Kingdom. In The Iron Knight, Ash and Puck set off to the End of the Nevernever so that Ash can try to become mortal and gain a soul and spend the rest of his life with Meghan.

This is Ash's story. I loved the way that Kawaga changed points of view and showed us how Ash was feeling. I loved seeing the story from his point of view and watching just to see what ends he would go in order to be with Meghan. It took courage for Kagawa to come back and do another Iron Fey story without her main character, Meghan, featuring in the story at all and it worked. This was probably my favorite story of the four. These books aren't great fiction like To Kill a Mockingbird but they are very entertaining, quick reads that are romantic - a nice way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Steampunk! An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories

Editors:  Kelly Link & Gavin J. Grant
Year: 2011
Publisher: Candlewick Press

This is a delightful collection of steampunk short stories. There are stories ranging from detective to fantasy to graphic stories. They're fun, imaginative and a nice introduction to the world of steampunk. On top of that the book itself is beautiful. The cover is embossed and it has those cool paper pages that feel nice. It's a beautiful book to sit on a shelf.

Friday, April 6, 2012

To Kill a Mockingbird

Author:  Harper Lee
Year:  1960
Publisher:  Grand Central Publishing

So this is one of those books that I was supposed to read in high school but I never was in an English class that got assigned this book. I also never had to read it as an English major in college. Somehow I just missed it; but something always made me feel like it was a book that I needed to go back and read.

It takes place in Alabama in that period of time before segregation when feelings were harsh between the whites and the blacks in the South and there were definite class lines drawn even if they weren't supposed to be there. The story is told from the point-of-view of Scout - the daughter of Atticus Finch who just happens be one of the county's most honorable lawyers. Mr. Finch is appointed by the court to represent a black man accused of raping a white girl. Never mind that Finch's client is innocent. This is the time when who is right and who is wrong comes down to the color of a person's skin. Scout watches her father struggle with the trial and doing what is right no matter how  hard it is. She sees the injustice in what is wrong and in her child's mind can't understand the reasons people act the way they do.

I loved this book. It is definitely at the top of my list. I've lived my entire life in the South and I think I've met a number of the people in this book. I could recognize the people who only see the color of the skin, the people that know what's right but are too afraid to do anything about it and I even know a few people like Atticus Finch. I think Harper Lee's writing is magnificent. I had expected all the heart-wrenching parts of the story but what I didn't foresee was the humor. Lee is hilarious. When I finished the book, I happened to glance back at the first chapters and was completely blown away at how nicely Lee wrapped everything up from beginning to end and tied a pretty red bow on it. I'm glad I didn't read this book in high school, or college even, and came to it as an adult. I think that the book meant a lot more to me now that I have years of life in the "real world" under my belt than it would have as a teenager.

"I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It's when you know you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do." (pg. 149)
"Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing." (pg. 23)

Thursday, April 5, 2012

A Storm of Swords

Author: George R.R. Martin
Year:  2000
Publisher:  Bantam Books

This is the third volume in the Game of Thrones series by George R.R. Martin. He definitely raised the stakes. There's tons of betrayal, murder, backstabbing and evil plotting. I almost needed a cheat card to keep up with it all (truth be told I'm probably quite confused). I enjoyed this installment very much and am eager to start the fourth book.