RSS

Monthly Archives: February 2013

Review – An Echo Through the Snow – Andrea Thalasinos

an echo through the snowAn Echo Through the Snow
Author: Andrea Thalasinos
Publisher: Forge Books
Release Date: August 21, 2013

Description:
Rosalie MacKenzie is headed nowhere until she sees Smokey, a Siberian husky suffering from neglect. Rosalie finds the courage to rescue the dog, and—united by the bond of love that forms between them—they save each other. Soon Rosalie and Smokey are immersed in the world of competitive dogsled racing. Days are filled with training runs, the stark beauty of rural Wisconsin, and the whoosh of runners on snow. Rosalie discovers that behind the modern sport lies a tragic history: the heartbreaking story of the Chukchi people of Siberia. When Stalin’s Red Army displaced the Chukchi in 1929, many were killed and others lost their homes and their beloved Guardians—the huskies that were the soul and livelihood of their people.

Review:
Sometimes when I have a few minutes at the library, I love just browsing through the shelves and seeing the random books that look intriguing. The other day, I was doing just that on the new releases shelf when I came across An Echo Through the Snow. The first thing about it that caught my eye was the starkness of the cover, with just the picture of the dog and a woman. Then after reading the description, I decided to take a chance on it because I was sufficiently intrigued.

While this is primarily a story about rescuing of dogs, dog sled racing and the history of how the Siberian husky came to be in the US, it is also a story about finding your place in the world. How for so many people we bounce around from job to job, the day in drudgery making people unmotivated to succeed and just floundering…but when that place in the world is found, the all of the pieces click into place…and that was how Rosalie’s story played out. I loved seeing her blossom as a young woman and finding her place in the world. Originally, I thought that she was a bit older than she turned out to be (18, vice in her mid-20’s) – but I think that added to her innocence during parts of the book.

The use of the flashbacks to the early 20th century and a period of Russian history, I had heard of vaguely but didn’t know a lot about. It is interesting to see how different books are starting to encompass that period of history now that they are free to write about it. But at the same time, they were a bit disjointed – I didn’t realize for a while how exactly they were going to be linked – it wasn’t like they were person flashbacks in history/familial connections, but rather dream-time kind of stories, which I could see being linked into Rosalie’s Native American heritage.

I think that my biggest complaint was how quickly everything seemed to progress – ultimately, the entire story took place in just under a years time – but it felt like it was moving really quickly and that everything fell into place a bit too quickly…I would have loved to have seen it drawn out a little bit more, maybe even only a couple more months to a year. But for the most part, my complaints about the book are few and far between. I enjoyed reading it and learned a lot about the sport of dog sledding (and it kind of makes me want to read some more about it and maybe travel somewhere to see a race – yes, I am that insane…). Overall, I would give this a 3.5, but rounding up to 4 stars. I think that it is a book that would probably be enjoyed by women, but I think also older teenagers, might enjoy it.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 18, 2013 in Book Review

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Audiobook Review – Moon Over Manifest – Clare Vanderpool

moon over manifestMoon Over Manifest
Author: Clare Vanderpool

Narrators: Jenna Lamia, Cassandra Campbell, Kirby Heyborne
Run Time: 9 hrs and 31 minutes
Producer: Listening Library

Description:
The movement of the train rocked me like a lullaby. I closed my eyes to the dusty countryside and imagined the sign I’d seen only in Gideon’s stories: Manifest—A Town with a rich past and a bright future.

Abilene Tucker feels abandoned. Her father has put her on a train, sending her off to live with an old friend for the summer while he works a railroad job. Armed only with a few possessions and her list of universals, Abilene jumps off the train in Manifest, Kansas, aiming to learn about the boy her father once was.
Having heard stories about Manifest, Abilene is disappointed to find that it’s just a dried-up, worn-out old town. But her disappointment quickly turns to excitement when she discovers a hidden cigar box full of mementos, including some old letters that mention a spy known as the Rattler. These mysterious letters send Abilene and her new friends, Lettie and Ruthanne, on an honest-to-goodness spy hunt, even though they are warned to “Leave Well Enough Alone.”

Abilene throws all caution aside when she heads down the mysterious Path to Perdition to pay a debt to the reclusive Miss Sadie, a diviner who only tells stories from the past. It seems that Manifest’s history is full of colorful and shadowy characters—and long-held secrets. The more Abilene hears, the more determined she is to learn just what role her father played in that history. And as Manifest’s secrets are laid bare one by one, Abilene begins to weave her own story into the fabric of the town.

Review:
I typically don’t play much attention to books that win the Newberry Award (or similar), but after listening to Moon Over Manifest, I am intrigued to check out more of them (I think the last one I remember reading was The Giver – Lois Lowry). My purpose for picking up this book…I was looking for an audiobook that had 2 or more narrators that my library had available immediately…and thus, I grabbed Moon Over Manifest to listen to (yes, I know, a hugely scientific method of picking which book to listen to next).

My initial reaction/thoughts, when I heard the name of the main character, was Abilene – I wonder what the etomology of that name is, since it isn’t one you normally hear (and the last i heard it was in The Help). According to Think Baby Names, the origins of the name is one of Hebrew origin and it is believed to have been derived from the hebrew word for grass – which now that I think about it kind of fits the character of Abilene. She was truely a girl that I would love to sit down and have a meal with to talk – the whole idea of her existing (along with her father) in a state of perpetual motion moving from place to place.

But the story in itself is a coming of age, finding out what your place is in the world – which in part means, where did you come from? And for Abilene that is the purpose behind her summer in Manifest – finding out the story of her past. But tied in with finding out her past, understanding the history of the town and the time period itself. It is really hard to say more about the book without revealing any spoilers, and I don’t really want to do that, so I am just going to leave my review of the book as is…

When it came to the narrators, the only one of the three that I had previously listened to – Kirby Heyborne – and when I saw that he was one of the narrators I jumped at the narration. I had also heard good things about Cassandra Campbell, although I had never listened to anything done by her. I was also a bit confused at the beginning because Overdrive listed Justine Eyre as the main narrator, but the audiobook listed and stated Jenna Lamia – so I thought at the beginning that maybe they were a pseudonym of each other, but I found out I was wrong.

I have no real complaints about the narration – I thought that all three of the narrators fit their roles well and added to the depth/texture of the story. If I was to make one comment, I think that Kirby Heyborne was a bit under-used. He, specifically, was the voice of Ned, one of the boys from Manifest who was fighting in WW1. While I think his voice was great for. However, some of the other flash-backs I think could have used his voice – especially since they were told from the perspective of a young boy. While a bit nit-picky, that was my biggest complaint about the overall narration.

I was a bit conflicted overall with what to give Moon Over Manifest – I was wavering at a 3.5, but not sure if I should round up or down and now sitting down and thinking about it – I think I am going to go with the round-up option. This is the type of book, while written for a young-adult audience, can be enjoyed by pretty much anyone who enjoys historical fiction.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 13, 2013 in Audiobook Review

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Review – Death and the Girl Next Door – Darynda Jones

death and the girl next doorDeath and the Girl Next Door
Author: Darynda Jones
Series: #1 in the Darklight series

Description:
Ten years ago, Lorelei’s parents disappeared without a trace. Raised by her grandparents and leaning on the support of her best friends, Lorelei is finally beginning to accept the fact that her parents are never coming home. For Lorelei, life goes on.

High school is not quite as painful as she thinks it will be, and things are as normal as they can be. Until the day the school’s designated loner, Cameron Lusk, begins to stalk her, turning up where she least expects it, standing outside her house in the dark, night after night. Things get even more complicated when a new guy—terrifying, tough, sexy Jared Kovach—comes to school. Cameron and Jared instantly despise each other and Lorelei seems to be the reason for their animosity. What does Jared know about her parents? Why does Cameron tell Jared he can’t have Lorelei? And what will any of them do when Death comes knocking for real?

Review:
I have to admit when I started Death and the Girl Next Door, i wasn’t sure what to expect. I think I was one of the few people who didn’t fall madly in love with the other series by this author (Charley Davidson), although it has grown on me as it has progressed. And when i saw the description of D&tGND (since the title is too long to continue typing), I was worried that it was going to be super similar to Charley Davidson but more YA-ish. Thankfully, it was not so, and I ended up enjoying it a bit more than I expected.

At first, the whole angel of death thing, I wasn’t so sure about…but as you got to know Lorelei as a character, I came to like her, and then having 2 sexy guys (protectors) looking after her (Cameron and Jared), whew. Her friends were also entertaining and I’m really want to find out more about them in the future. The say the book was action-packed was an understatement – it was definitely a roller coaster of a ride, with more ups, than downs through-out.

I think my biggest complaint about the book is that some of the world-building was a bit confusing – while I realize that there are going to be several books in the series – I felt a bit lost, and it wasn’t until I got closer to the end that I saw how much development had gone on. while I don’t want an info dump on the world-building, it needed a bit more…either way, I am intrigued enough, that i will be picking up the next book when it comes out in March. Overall, I’d give it a solid 3 stars. A good but not great intro to a new series (yes, I am very picky), but I think anyone looking for a YA paranormal/urban fantasy will like it.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 12, 2013 in Book Review

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Review – Betrayal – Karin Alvtegen

betrayalBetrayal
Author: Karin Alvtegen

Description:
Eva and Henrik have been living together for fifteen years and have a son together. Eva suddenly realizes that her husband is seeing another woman. In anger and desperation, she decides to seek revenge. At the same time, a young man has for the past two years been watching by a hospital bed where his girlfriend lies in a coma after an accident. But his year-ning for closeness is growing excruciating. She keeps letting him down by refusing to wake up. Deceit deals with how devastating it can be to be let down and how our destructive actions create consequences far beyond our control. The destiny of Jonas and Eva is the consequence of other people’s actions and it is by chance that the roads of these two people cross…

Review:
I have to admit when I first started reading this, I was expecting much more of a traditional crime novel, with something significant happening in the first few chapters and then progressing through the solving of the crime. So when that didn’t happen, I was scratching my head wondering if I was going to like the book – in fact, I even said that to a couple of friends…But I was soon sucked in…

What I think I ended up enjoying the most about the story that Alvtegen wrote was how deeply it delved into the human psyche and why we sometimes do what we do…and how even one small action – mistake or not – can change the course of our lives. But to say too much more would likely involve spoilers and I don’t really want to do that. The ending to me was one of the best parts of the books because you actually got to see the “crime” as the case may be. I also liked how the book was stand-alone since so often in crime fiction, the world develops over a series a books, in a stand-alone, you see the true writing strength of the author because they have to convey everything in that one book between 250-300 pages. I think that this book would be good for people who like character study type books, as well as psychological mysteries that are crime based, without being true crime. Overall 4 stars and I’m intrigued to read more of her books in the future.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 9, 2013 in Book Review

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Review – ‘Twas the Night After Christmas – Sabrina Jeffries

twas the night after christmas‘Twas the Night After Christmas
Author: Sabrina Jeffries
Series: #6 in the Hellions of Halstead Hall series (can be read stand-alone)

Review Copy Provided by Galley Books via Edelweiss

Description:
Pierce Waverly, the Earl of Devonmont, has been estranged from his mother for most of his life. When his mother’s new companion, Mrs. Camilla Stuart, writes to tell him that his mother is seriously ill, he goes home. But when he learns that the lovely widow tricked him in order to effect a holiday reconciliation, he refuses to stay—unless she meets his “terms.” Somewhere between trying to seduce the beautiful Camilla and struggling with the cruel memories of his childhood Christmases, Pierce discovers that not only does forgiveness go two ways, but that love can blossom even in the coldest of winters.

Review:
Ok, so this is one of the reviews where I admit that I have too many series in progress and that I am an idiot…when I was browsing Edelweiss and came across this book (being as it is book 6 in a series), I could have sworn that I had read the previous books – so my finger got click-itis (I wonder if i can get that as an actual medical diagnosis) and I got it on my kindle…to realize that I hadn’t even started the series…I did have book 1 somewhere in the archives of my kindle, but I hadn’t read it, or the 4 that followed…and being a tad OCD like I am, I couldn’t read it out of order (even though I was told by friends that i could)…so this review is a bit delayed, which I read the other ones in the series, but I am now all caught up… (no laughing from the peanut galley over my antics…its the old adage, too many books, too little time)

Anyways, after that digression (aren’t you glad you read it) – here is my review…I had really enjoyed reading the previous books in the series. i am a sucker for those that feature a family or a close-knit group of friends (a la Lisa Kleypas, or Stephanie Laurens as alternative authors), so seeing how the mystery emerged and was solved was great. However, this book, which loosely linked (Pierce, the main character, was a secondary character in #4 – To Wed A Wild Lord – didn’t really fit into what I was expecting – it was much more of a stand-alone traditional historical romance (not that that is bad, just wasn’t quite what I expected). Although, my favorite character from the series, Jackson, the Bow Street Runner made an appearance.

I did enjoy how the author was able to work in the ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas poem into the story. I grew up with it but honestly didn’t realize that it was around in the early 1800’s – although then called “A Visit From Saint Nicholas.” so it was interesting seeing how some Christmas traditions that still exist today were carried out nearly two centuries again (in about 10 years time…).

I think that my biggest issue with the story was the feud/disagreement/mystery (whatever you want to call it) between Pierce and his mother. While it was a significant part of the story, it was just underwhelming to me. I felt like it, while it could have been center stage, kind of took a backseat to the romance (not that that is bad, I just wanted more). Overall I would give this book a solid 3 stars – it was for me, a comfort read…since I rarely re-read, I can’t say that I would see myself reading it again, but at the same time, it is the type of book that I seek out when I just want to spend the day bumming around doing nothing.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on February 8, 2013 in Book Review

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Audiobook Review – You Are An Ironman – Jacques Steinberg

you are an ironmanYou Are An Ironman: How Six Weekend Warriors Chased Their Dream of Finishing the World’s Toughest Triathlon
Author: Jacques Steinberg

Cross-posted on my Triathlon Blog – HERE

Description:
Jacques Steinberg creates a compelling portrait of people obsessed with reaching a life-defining goal. In this instance, the target is an Ironman triathlon-a 2.4-mile open-water swim followed by a 112-mile bike ride, then finally a 26-mile marathon run, all of which must be completed in no more than seventeen hours.

Steinberg focuses not on the professionals who live off the prize money and sponsorships but on a handful of triathletes who regard the sport as a hobby. Vividly capturing the grueling preparation, the suspense of completing each event of the triathlon, and the spectacular feats of human endurance, Steinberg plumbs the physical and emotional toll as well as the psychological payoff on the participants of the Ford Ironman Arizona 2009. His You Are an Ironman is both a riveting sports narrative and a fascinating, behind-the scenes study of what makes these athletes keep going..

Review:
I’ve never hidden the fact that one of my goals prior to my 40th birthday (although still a ways away) is to do an Ironman. And after meeting up with a few Ironmen at a reading conference I went to in October (hang on, they find time to work and read/write)…it just sealed the deal. So my goal for 2013 is to do a half-ironman (Beach 2 Battleship in October), with a full Ironman in 2014 (still trying to figure out which one)…and then I came across this book in an audible sale and for 4.95, I figured why not. I have to say that this is probably the best and emotional 4.95, I have ever spent on an audiobook – I was a complete and utter blubbering mess by the end of it. Thankfully, I was sitting in the car by myself, so no one could see.

There was just something about the stories of each individual competing in IMAZ 2009 (held in Tempe, Arizona) that made me feel like I knew them. From listening to entries on their blogs (I even went and looked a few of them up), to their trials/tribulations as they dealt with training, injuries and also life in general. From Scott, the recipient of a double-lung transplant (I mean, seriously – I couldn’t believe it when I heard that), to Bryan, who got into working out and then triathlons after a scary medical diagnosis. Listening to their stories made me realize that yes, I could do it.

Kirby Heybourne’s narration was pitch perfect – I really have nothing to complain about after listening to the audiobook. I loved his narration in Gone Girl, and this just sealed him as a narrator to look for in the future. I highly recommend this book, even if you don’t necessarily want to do an ironman, but just as a motivational read. I can only hope that my journey towards an Ironman is as successful. Oh, and make sure that you have a box of tissues for reading/listening.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on February 5, 2013 in Audiobook Review

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Cover Reveal – Going Under – S. Walden

Going Under high resolution

Going Under
Author: S. Walden
Genre: New Adult
Release Date: March 19, 2013

Description:

Brooke Wright has only two goals her senior year at Charity Run High School: stay out of trouble and learn to forgive herself for the past. Forgiveness proves elusive, and trouble finds her anyway when she discovers a secret club at school connected to the death of her best friend. She learns that swim team members participate in a “Fantasy Slut League,” scoring points for their sexual acts with unsuspecting girls.

Brooke, wracked with guilt over her friend’s death, decides to infiltrate the league by becoming one of the “unsuspecting girls,” and exact revenge on the boys who stole away her best friend. An unexpected romance complicates her plans, and her dogged pursuit of justice turns her
reckless as she underestimates just how far the boys will go to keep their sex club a secret.

(This is a New Adult fiction book with mature themes. It contains explicit language and descriptions of sexual violence.)

Excerpt (Chapter One):

I left the bathroom in a hurry, turning the corner for the foyer and slamming into him. The force of the
hit was so great that I stumbled backwards, nearly falling on my bottom if not for his outstretched hand.
I grabbed it before going down and wobbled on my too-high heels, clutching him as I worked to regain
my balance.

“God, I’m sorry!” he exclaimed. I looked at his face then, unprepared to see something so beautiful. I think I gasped. And then I averted my eyes out of sheer embarrassment.

“I really should watch where I’m going,” he said.

He still held my hand, and I let him. I couldn’t remember who I was or where I was going. I couldn’t remember where I had just been. I only knew that a very cute boy . . . no, he was more than cute. He was gorgeous. This very gorgeous boy was holding my hand, and I had only one thought. I wanted to make our handholding more intimate. I wanted to lace my fingers with his.

“I think I should,” I mumbled.

I chanced another look at him. I made a conscientious effort not to gasp as I took in his light blue eyes. I’d never seen eyes that color. Bing Crosby had nothing on this guy’s eyes, and Bing’s eyes were the
color of the Mediterranean. No, the eyes I looked into now were so light blue they looked translucent. I thought if I stared a little longer I could see right inside his head, to his brain, and I don’t know why that
turned me on so much. I wanted to witness the workings of his mind, the firing synapses, information traveling safely inside neurons to different parts of his body. A few made it to his hand, and they must have told him to keep holding mine because he didn’t let go.

I stared shamelessly, licking my lips at one point. He stared back just as boldly. I wanted him to like what he saw. I wanted him to think I was sexy. I wanted him to feel the same instant attraction I did. I’d never
felt it before. Not really. Not even with Finn. It was unsettling, and I wondered how people functioned after being smacked upside the head with it. Instant. Physical. Chemical. Primal. Just rip my clothes off, I thought. Just rip my clothes off and do me right here in the hallway!

He smiled and released my hand. I thought he did it reluctantly, like his brain ordered him to and he finally acquiesced. I smiled back, a flirty grin. I pulled my ponytail forward over my shoulder and played with the strands. I bit my lower lip. And then reality came crashing down like a hailstorm, large lumps of ice banging my head and screaming at me in unison.

“YOU’RE AT A FUNERAL!”

I looked at the gorgeous guy, and my face went white.

“Oh my God,” I whispered.

He stared at me for a moment before saying, “Are you okay?”

I shook my head and started towards the sanctuary doors. He followed behind.

“I’m awful, I’m awful, I’m awful,” I whispered over and over. I didn’t care if he could hear.

What the hell was I doing? Trying to flirt with a guy at my best friend’s funeral? How could I even forget for a second that I was at a funeral? I was supposed to be carrying around heavy, black sorrow to match my black dress and black heart, not batting lashes and fantasizing about sex with a stranger. Was I so ridiculous that a hot guy could make me forget to have any kind of decency? Or shame?

I rounded the corner and saw my mother waiting for me. And then I ran to her, threw myself into her arms, and burst into a fit of tears.

“Brooklyn,” she whispered, holding me in a tight hug. “It’s okay,” she cooed as she stroked my hair.

“I’m a terrible friend!” I wailed. I saw the fuzzy outline of a boy walking past us tentatively through the doors.

“No, you aren’t,” my mother replied.

“Yes, I am! I don’t even know why I’m here! Beth hated my guts! She wouldn’t talk to me all summer!”

“Brooke,” Mom said. “I want you to calm down. Now, we talked about this. You knew it would be hard, but she was your best friend for all those years. Do you think she wouldn’t have wanted you here?”

“No, I don’t!” I cried.

“Yes, she would,” Mom said. “Now we have to go in.”

“I can’t!”

“Brooke, Beth was your best friend,” Mom said, trying for patience.

“No she wasn’t! Not after what I did! I ruined everything! I’m a freaking slut!” I sobbed, shaking my head from side to side.

“Sweetheart, don’t say words like ‘freaking’ and ‘slut’ in a church,” Mom replied.

I only sobbed louder.

“You can do this,” Mom encouraged.

I stood my ground, shaking my head violently, refusing to go in.

“Brooklyn Wright!” Mom hissed pushing me away and grabbing my upper arm. She squeezed too tightly, and I squeaked in discomfort. There was no more tenderness in her voice.

“Get yourself together. This isn’t about you. So stop making it about you. You’re going into that sanctuary and you’re going to pay your respects to your friend, and you’re going to make it about Beth. Do you understand me?”

I swallowed hard and wiped my face.

“Do you understand me?” Mom repeated.

I nodded grudgingly, and she took my hand, leading me through the doors.

© S. Walden, 2013

Author Bio: S. Walden

S. Walden used to teach English before making the easy decision to become a full-time writer. Easy because once she completed a full-time graduate program, there weren’t any teaching jobs anyway! She lives in Georgia with her very supportive husband who does not read fiction and has a difficult time understanding why her characters must have personality flaws. She is wary of small children, so she has two Westies instead. Her dreams include getting through her next big writing project (a three- part series) and owning and operating a beachside inn on the Gulf Coast. Her husband’s dreams for her include getting her Ph.D. so that he can tell people he’s married to a doctor. She loves her fans and loves to hear from them. Email her at swaldenauthor@hotmail.com and follow her blog at http://swaldenauthor.blogspot.com where you can get up-to-date information on her current projects.

Links

Blog
Twitter
email: swaldenauthor@hotmail.com

Click on the following link to be entered in a giveaway being hosted by the author – a Rafflecopter giveaway

 
8 Comments

Posted by on February 3, 2013 in Book Promo Posts

 

Tags: ,