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Monthly Archives: May 2012

Review – Austin Nights – Herocious

Review Copy Provided by Author

I’m going to be honest up-front and say that this is a DNF review. I made it approximately a tenth of the way through the book before I gave up on it. Based on the description provided, this sounded like an interesting read, so I requested it through one of my goodreads group (to which the author had donated a copy of members to review).

However, upon starting to read, I was immediately confused as to what was going on. There was no semblance of chapters, but rather vignettes of different experiences. I still can’t figure out how the numbering for these went, it started at 3, went to 1, then jumped to 4 and back to 1…so I was wondering if there was something funky with my copy. Looking at some of the reviews on amazon they talk about how it is a stream of consciousness work, but if that is the case, then it is an extremely fractured stream – in one vignette, the two main characters Michael and Bridgette are driving to Austin, then they are in Austin, and then they are back on the road. There is swapping of points of view from Michael to Bridget without any indication (normally the only sign of that is mentioning the other person’s name).

When I started to look closer and try to re-read a couple of the scenes to understand, it seemed as though the author expected the reader to see other places. For example, in one part he talks about his grandfather and how he used to visit him in college. He ends the scene with the statement that he hasn’t seen his grandfather in a while, but then says that “I can tell he’s freshly barbered, straight razor and all, doing the best he can” – while I assume this means, he is projecting the imagine of what he remembers his grandfather to be, it just doesn’t ring true – if his grandfather was that influential – why hasn’t he seen him recently, are they staying in touch – it just seems very disjoined.

One of my pet peeve’s when it comes to books is when stuff is said in 20 words what could be said in 5 or 10, and in the few sections that I read, this did seem to be an issue. Maybe it is because as part of my job we focus on writing for maximum utility, but the verbose-ness of the language used was distracting and maybe played into why I was having difficulties reading it.

 
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Posted by on May 31, 2012 in Book Review

 

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Review – The Night Ferry – Michael Robotham

One of my pet peeves when it comes to books is authors who double-dip characters in books that aren’t part of series, because I feel like I am always missing something. That was precisely the case of what happened with The Night Ferry. I knew that the author had written a series, but for my purposes, I wasn’t looking to starting a new series, so I opted to read what I assumed to be a stand-alone. Unfortunately, I soon found out that while The Night Ferry was technically a stand-alone, the author did refer back to events that had occurred in previous books. So I ended up spending a good portion of my time, puzzling that out (my library didn’t have any of the other books in audio format and I was looking specifically for an audiobook at the time). When viewing other reviews of this book after finishing it, it does appear as though I wasn’t the only person who felt that way, which was nice to see.

Overall, I liked the story that was presented, although at the same time it did seem to be very obvious from the beginning as to where the whole storyline was going. I wasn’t surprised by any of the twists in the story as they occurred. Based on my experiences with this book, I am not sure whether I will rush out to try this author again, but at the same time, I do have my standard, at least two books by an author prior to giving up on them. so maybe I’ll check out one of the books in the series and see how that plays out.

This is the first time that I have listened to a narration by Clare Corbett but I ended up enjoying it. I felt that she had a good range of voices that she used through-out and I didn’t feel like any of the voices had been over-done or repeated through-out the various characters. I will likely pick up other books narrated by her in the future to see if she can maintain this ability in other books.

 
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Posted by on May 29, 2012 in Book Review

 

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Review – The Summer I Turned Pretty – Jenny Han

I wanted to like this book, I truly did. when I picked it up, I was hoping for a coming of age story, a la Sarah Dessen or Gayle Foreman – unfortunately, I ended up being disappointed.

The story starts off good. It follows a summer with Belly and her two family friends, Conrad and Jeremiah, at their families beach house where they go every summer. To Belly it is the first summer that she is “pretty.” And that she has decided that it is time for something to happen between her and Conrad.

To me, this was a complete let-down, Belly could have been so-many things, but ultimately, she was, IMHO, a self-absorbed teen who had no inclination of what was going on around her. So many times, I wanted to scream at her and say are you kidding me…She finds out that Conrad quit the football team, something that he loved playing, but never asked why – she is just too absorbed in her own little world. It wasn’t until the very end of the book (like the last 20 pages or so), that she became aware of what was going on around her, and then it wasn’t even that she came to the realization, but rather that someone, figuratively, bonked her on the head…

However, being as its my rule, I am going to give the author a second chance to see if she can convince me why I should actually like Belly and what happens to her in the future….so we shall see…

Add this book to your Goodreads shelf by clicking on the following:

The Summer I Turned Pretty (Summer, #1)

 
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Posted by on May 28, 2012 in Book Review

 

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Review – Last Rituals – Yrsa Sigurðardóttir

I’ll admit that I fell for the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo craze when it was released…although I did wait until all three books were out before I read any of them.  Ever since then I have been on the look out for new Scandinavian authors to check out.  I am a regular participant on Goodreads and on there, moderate (along with my co-hort in crime, Naomi Blackburn – A Book and a Review) a Nordic Noir group.  Every month we feature a different author within the genre as a way to find those hidden gems.  For May, the author was Yrsa Sigurðardóttir, so to try her out, I started with the first book in her Þóra Guðmundsdóttir series, Last Rituals.

I was hoping for a fast moving, exciting kind of Noir, similar to Larseen, Fossum and James Thompson – unfortunately, I was to be disappointed.  The plot was rather slow moving and in general it didn’t feel like there was much character development, or even explanations as to why certain characters acted the way they did.  You find out early on that she has an issue with the secretary at her law office, Bella…but aside from the statement that she came with the building, you don’t know much else aside from the animosity that is between the 2 characters.  While I have been in situations before where I have had extreme conflicts of character with co-workers, this one just didn’t seen to be as developed as it could have been.  In the end, while I didn’t quite see the whole who done it when it was revealed, I also just wasn’t that surprised with the ultimate reveal (how is that for a bit of a convoluted sentence).

Based on my experiences with this book, I honestly don’t know if I will be rushing out to read any more in the series, and since my library only had the first book in the series – I wouldn’t be buying them, even if I was interested…she will remain firmly on the library borrow list in the future.

 
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Posted by on May 26, 2012 in Book Review

 

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Review – Agnes Grey – Anne Bronte

I’ll be the first to admit that I avoided classics like the plague in high school and college.  I just  had no interest in reading them.  Normally opting instead to read a more contemporary romance novel of some shape and size.  It hasn’t been until the last few years that I have actually opted to start reading these classics.  Having previously read/listened to Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (loved it) and Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte (hated it with every fiber of my being), I decided it was time to give Anne Bronte a try.

I had previously listened to Tenant of Wildfell Hall also by her and this time opted to listen to Agnes Grey.  It is written very much like a autobiography of someones life and there is some evidence that suggests that AG is actually the story of Anne’s experiences as a governess.  If that is the case, I have to admit that I pity her for her experiences.  Having previously worked as a nanny, I can say that I would have been driven nuts by some of the antics of her charges, and I likely wouldn’t have been able to deal with them.

I do have to admit that when it comes to these classics, that my mind just does not do well when I try to read them, so I will normally listen to them if at all possible.  When it comes to narrators, if I was picking any other kind of book, Nadia May probably would not have been a choice, because there is just something about her voice that doesn’t fit a contemporary type of story – yet, her voice is perfect for a classic such as Agnes Grey.  I have previously also listened to her narrator several Jane Austen books, as well as Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell.  She has the ability to make me feel like, in this instance, I was in the school-room with Agnes as she was dealing with the spoiled children for whom she was responsible.  I will likely continue to seek her out as a narrator for classics in the future and maybe see how she does on other stuff, but I’m not sure

 
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Posted by on May 25, 2012 in Book Review

 

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Reading Around the World

Sometime last year (but I can’t remember when), I posted an update about my goal to read around the world. It was a challenge for one of my goodreads groups and I have slowly been plugging away at it. Today I sat down to take a look at my tally. In the last 20 months, I have read books set in 113 countries around the world. Some of them have been relatively easy reads and others more in depth (I now have a new appreciation for the Russian authors after reading some of their stuff). My goal is to keep reading until I hit every single country.

The map of my travels looks something like this (the blue is the countries I have visited in my reading travels):

Reading Around the World
Make yours @ BigHugeLabs.com

This goal has also made me think about places I would love to visit. Being in the Navy, I have had the opportunity to travel to many different places – from Jordan and Oman to Italy and Spain. I have even crossed the equator and become a Shellback – an age old tradition. But there are so many other places I would love to visit – mostly in the Asia/South America area, since I really haven’t been to many of those yet.

What about everyone out there? If you could visit any one place in the world what would it be? What is one place you wouldn’t want to visit?

 
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Posted by on May 24, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Review – Take This Regret – Amy Lichtenhan

Book Donated by Author for Review

I always love a book that I pick up planning to only read a few chapters and i get immersed in it. That to me is a great way to spend a night and what happened when I started Take This Regret. I w as immediately sucked into the story of Elizabeth and Christian. Unfortunately, I had to put it down otherwise I would have stayed up all night reading and that would have been bad juju for work the next day.

As a reader, I’m normally not a fan of the separation/reunion type romances, which is what this primarily is, and yet, I was sucked in.  I don’t know why I normally have such as issue with them – maybe because in the way the scenario is typically presented – I don’t know if in the same situation I would have forgiven the idiot who caused the grief.  And to some extent I felt the same here – if I was in Elizabeth’s shoes would I have been able to forgive Christian for what he did…probably not – and yet, the author made me believe in second chances and the fact that sometimes people do regret the actions the result in other people getting hurt.

 I did like the fact that the whole book didn’t occur in a really short space of time, which to me would have made it more unbelievable than normal -  but rather over a period of several months and you saw the struggle that Elizabeth faced as she tried to make the decision to let Christian back into her and her daughter’s life.  The one thing that I felt could have been avoided in the story was the meeting his child for the first time at the grocery store – that just seemed a bit trite and overdone.  I wish instead that it had been a proactive approach by Christian to find out what happened to Elizabeth and his daughter all those years ago and not just left to chance.

The cast of supporting characters – Natalie, Matthew, Christians mother – all seemed believable and it was nice that they were integral to the story and not just thrown in there for the heck of it.  I do wish that there had been some more interaction between Christian and his father before his father had died.  I have to admit that I would love to see a short follow-up of maybe their lives 5 years down the road – even as a freebie on the authors website – just because I am honestly a sucker for those happy endings and seeing the future ;)

 
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Posted by on May 24, 2012 in Book Review

 

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Review – Breaking the Rules – Suzanne Brockmann

Most of the time by the time a series book gets to the sixteenth installment it is starting to get a bit weird.  While I was glad that Breaking the Rules didn’t really run into that issue, I am also glad that the author decided to end it on a high note and not let the series go down the drain like other authors seem to have done.

As with all of SB’s previous books in the series, Breaking the Rules uses the multiple story-line approach – specifically, Izzy and Eden’s struggle with the future of their marriage; Dan Gillman (who was a royal ass in previous books) and his woo-ing of Jenny Lyn Lamae (yes, I totally agree with the fact that this would be a great stripper name…) and then the random storyline of Nisha, a girl who is the victim of human trafficking (I have noticed that this seemed to be an common theme over the last few years, and this is the third book I have read in the last three months that used it – the other 2 being Vanish by Tess Gerritsen and The Night Ferry by Michael Robotham).

One of my main complaints about the book and I might have noted this on previous ones, is that they have become much more politically minded, almost to the stage of lecturing on GLBT rights which gets to be a bit tedious.  I can understand where the author is coming from, but at the same time, there is a fine line between presenting a point of view that fits a character, demonizing others who don’t share the same point of view, and lecturing your readership…it might have been more apparent to me in this one because I was listening to the audiobook – but it is something that irked me.

This is the only book in the series that I have listened to in audiobook and I felt that the narrators (Patrick Lawlor and Renee Raudman) did a good job of voicing the wide variety of characters.  However, at times, Patrick would voice a female perspective and Renee a male, so that was a little bit off putting…rather than doing a switching back and forth by part – an actual identification of male/female characters might have worked better I think.

A very good ending to a long-running series (I think I started reading this when I was in college nearly over a decade ago), and I’m glad to see various loose-ends tied up.  I do hope in the future, if she decides to go back and visit SEaL Team Sixteen that we get to see Jay Lopez’s story, because he is really the only other person I would love to see get their HEA.

 
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Posted by on May 21, 2012 in Book Review, Uncategorized

 

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Review – Break – Hannah Moskowitz

It is always hard to rate a book like Break because using a simple star system just doesn’t seem to go in depth to describe how I felt about it.  It is the story of Jonah – a typical teenager, or so would you think – but as a way of dealing with the stresses in his life, he breaks his bones – his hands, his fingers, his ribs and many others.  Because he knows that broken bones only come back stronger than they were to begin with.

i don’t know if anyone else has noticed, but the whole theme of self-multilation/self-deprivation among teenagers seems to be a re-occurring theme in YA fiction today.  Break, Wintergirls (Anorexia), Cutters Don’t Cry (cutting) – it just seems that there are many on the market, and I have to wonder, while these books are good for exposing the issues that some kids face, does it ever influence them to try these different methods…I’ll have to admit, while I never did drugs, in college I took a course called Drug Education one summer, and it could have easily have been re-titled, how to do drugs 101 – it talked about the best ways to get drugs into your system, which ones worked better being injected and snorted and why…so it makes me wonder.

Break is a relatively short book (262 pages and the book itself is smaller than a standard mass market) so understandably, it didn’t take me all that long to read.  My main issue with it was that I didn’t really see all that much character development – Jonah sounded like he wanted to change and maybe towards the end he started to, but the book just ended…I was kind of left scratching my head trying to figure out what was going on.  The cast of secondary characters (his brother Jesse, not-girlfriend Charlotte and cohort Naomi) were other instances of where so much more character development could have gone on.

Either way, i will likely read another book by Ms Moskowitz in the future and considering the fact that she is still in her early 20′s and a college student, I found Break to be a good read – I just wish it had a bit more…

 
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Posted by on May 20, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Review: Larkstorm

Larkstorm
Larkstorm by Dawn Rae Miller
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

**Review Copy Provided by Author**

I am always on the lookout for interesting books, so when this one popped up as an author provided book in one of my goodreads groups, I jumped on the chance to read it. this was back in December…and then for some reason I kept finding reasons to not read it, or getting distracted (although that is actually not that hard to really accomplish…), but this past week, I finally sat down and read it.

The premise was intriguing, 2 teens who are going to be mated when they grow up in a world that has essentially been frozen, where “sensitives” out the bad people out to hurt everyone. Upon reading it, it started to feel like a mish-mash of various different YA dystopia fiction out there today – the matings similar to those that occur in Matched (although admittedly, we know that the couple is going to be paired together at the beginning of the book); the sensitives who are outcast/ being hunted (similar to the faction-less in divergent, but being hunted rather than just ignored) and I could go on. And words can’t even describe the ending of the book, except for holy cliff-hanger…and even in that instance, I don’t know if I will pick up the second book to find out what happened. Maybe if I see it get some good reviews from people I trust, but other than that, probably not.

View all my reviews

 
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Posted by on May 7, 2012 in Book Review, Uncategorized

 

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