Sunday, June 24, 2012

Fable in the Blood: The Selected Poems of Byron Herbert Reece

Editor:  Jim Clark
Year: 2002
Publisher: University of Georgia Press
Pages:  185

It's rare that I venture into poetry but I've wanted to explore more of Byron Herbert Reece's work for a while now. I first became aware of Byron Herbert Reece while attending Young Harris College in the northeast Georgia mountains. Reece lived in Young Harris' backyard and taught at the college for a bit. He was a farmer poet. He took over his parent's farm when they became ill. He also struggled with loneliness and his own illness. His poetry reflects his farmer roots and his loneliness as shown in the poem I Go By Ways of Rust and Flame.

A solitary thing am I
Upon the roads of rust and flame
That thin at sunset to the air.
I call upon no word nor name,
And neither question nor reply
But walk alone as all men must
Upon the roads of flame and rust.

He wrote both lyrical poems and ballads that showcase his Appalachian roots. When I read the poems about farming and the mountains, I can see the Georgia mountains that we both lived in and feel them in the poetry. But I think the poems that resonate the  most with me are the ones that talk about religion and God. Some of the poems such as The Adoration are full of worship. Yet others, such as Whose Eye Is on the Sparrow, show some struggles with the all knowing and all caring God:

I saw a fallen sparrow
Dead upon the grass
And mused to see how narrow
The wing that bore it was.

By what unlucky chance
The bird had come to settle
Lopsided near the fence
In sword grass and nettle

I had no means to know
But this I minded well:
Whose eye was on the sparrow
Shifted, and it fell.

Reece is virtually an unknown but, hopefully, one day he will be more recognized and read. The world is missing out on some truly beautiful poetry.

The Death Cure, The Maze Runner Trilogy, Book 3

Author: James Dashner
Year: 2011
Publisher:  Delacorte Press
Pages: 305

I'm not really sure how to say what this book is about without giving away what happened in earlier books; so, just this once, I'm going to copy the Goodreads description:

Thomas knows that Wicked can't be trusted, but they say the time for lies is over, that they've collected all they can from the Trials and now must rely on the Gladers, with full memories restored, to help them with their ultimate mission. It's up to the Gladers to complete the blueprint for the cure to the Flare with a final voluntary test.
What Wicked doesn't know is that something's happened that no Trial or Variable could have foreseen. Thomas has remembered far more than they think. And he knows that he can't believe a word of what Wicked says.
The time for lies is over. But the truth is more dangerous than Thomas could ever imagine.
Will anyone survive the Death Cure?

I enjoyed this book (and the series as a whole). I liked seeing more of what happened to the world as a whole after the Flare. What life was like out in the real world and outside the test lab. There was a lot of action and a couple of good twists. I have to admit, I'm not too sure that I'm satisfied with the ending. It wasn't a bad ending. It  just wasn't the ending that I wanted. And that's all I'm going to say about that. 

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Golden Lily, Bloodlines, Book 2

Author: Richelle Mead
Year: 2012
Publisher:  Penguin Audio
Narrator:  Emily Shaffer

This is the second installment in Richelle Mead's Bloodlines series, the Vampire Academy spinoff. Book two finds Sydney Sage still at Amberwood with Jill, the Moroi princess, Eddie and Angelina (dhampirs) and, most importantly, Adrian. The group is trying to live a normal life among the rich kids at the boarding school but life is never simple with them. There's romance all around them - forbidden ones at that. Plus somebody is trying to kill Sonya. With all the people nosing around, keeping Jill's identity a secret is becoming harder than ever.

Great audiobook. Emily Shaffer did a wonderful job as always narrating. My only complaint is it takes so much longer to listen to an audiobook than it does to read the physical book. I found myself just sitting and listening because I couldn't wait to see what happens. I love the way Richelle Mead has the characters growing and developing. The chemistry between Sydney and Adrian just sizzles and I so hope they end up together. I'll cry if Adrian's heart gets broke again. Storywise, my only complaint was that it felt like it took a while for Mead to reveal what Sydney and the gang's "task" was going to be for this book but with all the conversations and stuff going on with Adrian, I didn't really mind.

Can't wait until the next book comes out but I've got to wait a whole year :(

For Darkness Shows the Stars

Author: Diana Peterfreund
Year: 2012
Publisher:  Balzar + Bray
Pages:  402

Several generations ago a science experiment went wrong causing genetic abnormalities in humans. Now, the world is divided into nobility, called Luddities, Posts and the Reduced. Elliott North is one of the nobility but that doesn't prevent her from falling in love with Kai, one of the Post servants on her family's estate. But when Kai decides to run away, Elliott refuses to go with him because of her duty to her family. Now, four years later, a group of Post-Reductionists are trying to start a new way of forward thinking and remove class lines. The leaders of the Post-Reductionists, the Cloud Fleet, want to rent out Elliott's grandfather's boat yard to build a new boat. Her estate is struggling and she needs the money. However, when they arrive, their crew includes Captain Malakai Wentworth who is no other than Elliott's lost love Kai. But the tension is high between them and they can't walk for tripping over each other's secrets. Can they rekindle their love? 

This was a simple, almost pastoral novel based on Jane Austen's Persuasion. It wasn't one of those high action books that thrive on fight scenes and such but I couldn't put it down. The romance was just beautiful, heartbreaking and impossible to pull myself away from. I thought the language was beautiful. I loved the way the letters that Kai and Elliott wrote as children were interweaved into the story. The last letter from Kai completely and totally won  me over. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Sarah's Key

Author:  Tatiana de Rosnay
Year: 2007
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Pages:  293

In July 1942 Paris, thousands of Jewish people living in Paris are rounded up by French police. They are taken to a stadium and held there for a couple of days before being transported to concentration camps. Many of their journeys ended at Auschwitz. Most of these people were children born in France. That part of the book is true. 

Sarah's Key follows the fictional life of ten year old Sarah. Her family is awakened in the middle of the night and taken by the French police. At the last minute, Sarah hides her four year old brother in a cupboard in their bedroom and locks him in with promises that she'll be back soon to get him out. Sarah believes that she and her parents will return in hours. Instead, they're taken to the stadium and then the concentration camp. 

The story jumps back and forth between Sarah's story and a modern day story of an American report, Julia, living in Paris. In doing a story, Julia stumbles upon Sarah's story and becomes obsessed with following her trail and learning what happened to Sarah and her family.

This is a heartbreaking, beautiful, tragic story. Even having a good idea as to what happened with Sarah's brother from reading the back of the book, it still broke my heart. But the true story underneath the fictional story got to me also. I never learned anything about Jews in France being rounded up and taken to concentration camps. It just never occurred to me that those things happened in non-Germanic countries. Between this book and Unbroken, I am learning that my history classes in school were sorely lacking as to what really happened in history.

Enjoy Every Sandwich: Living Each Day As If It Were Your Last

Author:  Lee Lipsenthal, M.D.
Year: 2011
Publisher: Crown Publishing
Pages: 133

Dr. Lee Lipsenthal was a heart doctor in California who believed in not worrying about death and in living every day to it's fullest and as if it were your last. When he was diagnosed with terminal cancer, this belief helped him to live with cancer and end up the loser in a fight with cancer.

I have to confess. I was expecting a straight up self-help/encouragement type book. That's not exactly what I got. The book strayed into some beliefs that I think hurt his credibility a little bit  but I'm not sure that I'm one to judge on that. I do know that I appreciated his attitude of gratitude and love. Fighting cancer takes a lot out of not only the person infected but also their family and loved ones. It's hard not to get down and hate life and God and get bitter. Instead Dr. Lipsenthal approached cancer not as a death sentence but as a new lease on life and a reason to enjoy every day.

Pay attention to the good stuff that happens every day and enjoy what is, not what should have been or what might be. Enjoy every sandwich. My life is my sandwich, and I might as well savor every bite.

Blue Moon, The Immortals, Book 2

Author:  Alyson Noel
Year: 2009
Publisher:  St. Martin's Griffin
Pages: 284

Blue Moon picks up the story of Ever Bloom just weeks after the events of Evermore. Damen is teaching Ever the ways and talents of the immortals and how to use her new powers. But then he starts showing signs of sickness and his powers are weakening. Then his memory goes. Ever finds herself searching for a way to save Damen. She goes to Summerland where she learns of Damen's past and a way to possibly save him but she has a short window of opportunity and is tempted with the possibility of turning back time and saving her family.

I kind of like this series. It's not the most awesome series ever but it's entertaining and Blue Moon  was a definite improvement over Evermore so I'm hopeful that the books will continue to get better. I like the way Alyson Noel is letting the readers in one the background a little at a time and slowly expanding the world of the immortals. I'll definitely keep reading the series. It's not one that I'll rush out and buy but I will pick the books up as I come across them at used book stores.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Liar's Game

Author:  Kait Gamble
Publication Date: July 2, 2012
Publisher: Carina Press
Pages:  92
Source: NetGalley

Aurelia Popkiss has been living on the fringes of the universe scavenging and maybe a little stealing in order to survive with a makeshift crew of men on a spaceship since her "death." One day they find a stowaway girl on their ship. Aurelia knows that the girl is lying about her true purpose and how she got on the ship, she just can't figure out how. Aurelia has no idea just how much danger the girl is putting Aurelia and her crew at risk. At the same time Aurelia is dealing with the girl, she's also having to control her own unrequited (or are they?) feelings for Keys - one of her fellow shipmates.

Confession: More than once I broke into the Firefly theme while reading this novella. I couldn't help it. The story just had that vibe to it. You've got the group of fugitive type people on a spaceship, scavenging and stealing to survive. Then there's the romance between Aurelia and Keys (Mal and Inara anyone?). Gamble even calls space "the black" more than once during the book. (Take me out to the black, tell 'em I ain't coming back.)

I really did enjoy the novella. It was fun. I could feel the sexual tension between Aurelia and Keys (even though the book stayed strictly PG). I thought the world was well-developed and that Gamble did a good job telling her story. I'm hoping that this is just one of those prequel stories that will lead to a great big thick book in the future. In the meantime, I recommend going over to Kait Gamble's website and check out the bios and pictures she's posted of how she sees the characters. I wouldn't mind being stranded on this ship in the black.

Shadow's Edge, The Kyn Kronicles, Book 1

Author: Jami Gray
Year: 2011
Publisher: Black Opal Books
Pages: 323

Raine McCord is a Kyn a/k/a a supernatural being. She's part fey and part unknown (she doesn't know her father). She works as a Wraith for a supernatural security firm - which basically means she's a clean up person for when things go wrong. She does a lot of a killing. As a child, Raine was kidnapped by a bunch of scientists and experimented on. The results of the experiments being that she has (1) some major trust issues and (2) unknown abilities due to the enhancements to her powers made by the scientists. 

Raine gets called in on a special job and is assigned to work with Gavin Durand - a super hot and sexy Wraith - to track down some possible killers. At first glance, these murders appear to be connected to her own kidnapping years earlier. Of course, during the course of the investigation, Raine and Gavin have to deal with their attraction to each other.  :)

I was a little unsure about this book, but truth be told, I ended up loving it. It was fast paced, amazing fight scenes, good myth building. Gray answered just enough questions to satisfy you but left lots of threads unraveled to keep the reader coming back. I definitely wanted more resolution in one particular spot! I think this series has a lot of potential in the paranormal romance department. 

The Knife of Never Letting Go, Chaos Walking, Book 1

Author:  Patrick Ness
Year:  2008
Publisher:  Candlewick Press
Pages:  479

Todd lives in Prentisstown on the New World. His family was part of a group of settlers to the New World sent ahead to get things ready for the other teams to follow. But life on the New World and, particularly, in Prentisstown, is all Todd has ever known. When the settlers came to the New World, something happened and the Noise began. Now, every person can hear every other person's thoughts. They can also hear the thoughts of animals. And all the women in town die. Todd is just one month away from the birthday that will make him a man which means that he'll be able to learn the secrets of Prentisstown. It'll also make him the last boy in town to become a man. Then, one day Todd and his dog, Manchee, are in the swamp when they come across a spot of complete silence. Finding the silence sets in motion events that lead to Todd having to run for his life from Prentisstown. 

This is another book that has been on my list for a very long time and the entire time I was reading this book I kept asking myself why did I wait so long to read it? Patrick Ness's writing is beautiful and poetic. I can definitely see why he has won so many awards (A Monster Calls is one of my favorite books). I love the characters in this book. Can I just say Manchee is the best sidekick ever. Ness took the time to build his world, develop his characters and to tell his story. Well, at least the part he wanted to tell right now. I can't wait to see how Ness continues to develop his identity theme in the next two books. After that cliffhanger at the end of this book, I definitely wish I had the second book now!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Drop, Harry Bosch, Book 17

Author:  Michael Connelly
Year: 2011
Publisher:  Hachette Audio
Narrator: Len Cariou

In one morning, Harry Bosch gets two new cases. One is a DNA hit on a cold case of a teenage girl who was raped and murdered in the 1980s. The problem? The young man the DNA matches was only eight years old at the time of the death. 

The second case is an investigation of the apparent suicide of George Irving, the son of Irvin Irving, city councilman and Bosch's longtime nemesis. For some unknown reason, Irving specifically requests Bosch as investigator on this case and wants the chips to fall wherever they fall (at least that's what he says).

Michael Connelly never fails to entertain me. For over 17 books now he has managed to keep me totally invested in Harry Bosch as a character (remember, Bosch appears in the Mickey Haller books as well) which is a feat because I tired of authors such as James Patterson ages ago. I love these books and I dread the day Connelly decides to stop writing them. As usual, Len Cariou narrates the books flawlessly. Definitely recommend.

Blue Bloods, Book 1

Author: Melissa de la Cruz
Year: 2006
Publisher:  Hyperion
Pages: 302

So, this book has been sitting in my TBR pile for an eternity. It's a vampire novel. I originally picked it up because I thought the premise of the original settlers to America being vampires was unique. These vampires are called Blue Bloods and they came to America to start over. The book focuses around Schuyler Van Alen who attends a rich private school in New York. The vampires of Blue Bloods don't know they're vampires until their teen years. At which time their abilities start manifesting and they remember their past lives. Interesting concept, right? I'm not too sure that it worked for me. I had a hard time paying attention during the first half of the novel but it slowly pulled me in to where by the end of the novel, I was into the story and liking it but I still wasn't sure I would continue with the series. Then there was that completely unresolved ending! Guess I'll be keeping an eye out for the second book in the used book stores.

Evermore, The Immortals, Book 1

Author:  Alyson Noel
Year: 2009
Publisher:  St. Martin's Griffin
Pages:  301

Ever Bloom is the sole survivor of a car accident that kills her parents and her sister. After the accident, Ever can see people's auras, hear their thoughts and know their life story just by touching them. She recedes into herself to avoid human contact and avoid the noises of the world. Then, Damen Auguste transfers into her school. When Damen touches Ever, he mutes the world around her. Oh, and as if that wasn't enough, he's extremely gorgeous and wealthy. But Damen has a secret and Ever must figure out if Damen's secret is a danger to her and her friends.

I liked this story. It was just an easy read. As I was reading it, I thought the story might be going the Twilight way but it didn't. I'm not too sure about Ever as a character because I don't know for sure how strong she's going to be but I am enticed enough to read the second book and see what happens.

Dreamless, Starcrossed, Book 2

Author: Josephine Angelini
Year: 2012
Publisher:  Harper Teen
Pages: 487 pages

This book picks up not long after the events of Starcrossed. Now the Scions know that Helen is the only one of them able to descend into the Underworld. So, each night Helen goes down into the Underworld searching for an answer to end the feuding between the Scion families. But the daily trips into the Underworld are hard on Helen and are eroding her health. On top of that, she no  longer has Lucas' support. Then, she meets Orion in the Underworld. Orion is a Scion also and he becomes Helen's support and protector.

It's not often that I say that I loved a sequel (especially a middle book in a trilogy sequel) as much as I did the first book but I most certainly did here. Angelini did a wonderful job of continuing her story, expanding the mythology and carrying me away. I love this series, the Greek mythology and all the characters. I found myself laughing to myself at points because Angelini used phrases that I remember reading myself in the Greek poems that these stories rely on. My only complaint is that there were a number of what I'm going to call printing errors in this book. They usually showed up as missing words in sentences. Not something that would be Angelini's fault but that of people at the publishing house who should have proofread it better. 

2012 Big Book Summer Challenge

Sue Jackson at Book by Book is hosting a 2012 Big Book Summer Challenge. And it's really an easy challenge. All you have to do is read one book over 400 pages between Memorial Day and Labor Day. I know, I know. I'm getting a late start but I also noticed that there's a lot of books over 400 pages on my TBR pile; so, I decided to join in her challenge and see just how many of those big books I can get out of my TBR pile since my goal for the year is to read as many of the unread books in my house as possible. I figure this can be some extra incentive.

But, if you want to join in, you just have to read one book. Come on, that's not too hard. So, head over over to Sue's blog and join in the summer fun!

Here's a picture of just some of the big books from my TBR pile that I'm going to try to get to this summer:

Sunday, June 3, 2012


Author:  Lauren Kate
Year: 2009
Publisher:  Delacorte Press

Luce Price is banished to the Sword & Cross boarding school which is most likened to a juvenile detention center where she meets the criminally handsome Daniel Grigori  - who wants nothing to do with Luce. Yet she finds she can't stay away from Daniel or his secrets. And that's as much as I'll say about the story for fear of giving away some of the plot (although I think from the title it's safe to assume angels are involved).

I started Fallen the first time about six months ago. I read the first 50 pages and stopped. I picked it back up today, skipped the first 50 pages and started reading, and kept reading until I finished the book. It went a lot better the second try. I wanted a quick and easy read and that's what I got. Lauren Kate does a really good job of partially out her information to where when the book ended, I wasn't really sure I'd learned anything except that Luce and Daniel loved each other. And all that mystery definitely makes me want to pick up Torment

The Girl in the Clockwork Collar

Author:  Kady Cross
Year: 2012
Publisher: Harlequin Teen

In this follow up to The Girl in the Steel Corset, Finley Jane and her group of misfit (or unusually talented) friends set off to New York City to rescue their friend, Jasper, who was kidnapped. The villain who has kidnapped Jasper is forcing Jasper to do something for him by holding a woman Jasper once loved captive with a clockwork collar that tightens if she tries to escape. In order to help Jasper, Finley has to join up with the criminal gang in order to learn their plans so that Finley and her friends must figure out how to stop Jasper's kidnapper and rescue him at the same time.

Can I just say how much I love the steampunk aspect of this series? I think my favorite part is how seamlessly Kady Cross weaves the steampunkiness into what could easily be Victorian times and makes it feel like this is the way history happened and that it all exists. I find myself wanting to look up you tube videos and watch the dirigibles parking on top of the Empire State Building! For the setting alone, this book gets an A+. Fortunately, Cross didn't just build a super cool word. The story is pretty good too. Oh, and I love the characters. I wish Finley and Emily were among my group of friends and I would completely fall in love with Griffin.