Friday, September 30, 2011

Banned Books Week - Claiming of Sleeping Beauty

Author: Anne Rice ( Writing as A.N. Roquleaure)
Publisher: Plume/Penguin Books (1983)

From bestselling author Anne Rice, writing as A.N. Roquleaure. In the traditional folktale of 'Sleeping Beauty,' the spell cast upon the lovely young princess and everyone in her castle can only be broken by the kiss of a Prince. It is an ancient story, one that originally emerged from and still deeply disturbs the mind's unconscious. Now Anne Rice's retelling of the Beauty story probes the unspoken implications of this lush, suggestive tale by exploring its undeniable connection to sexual desire. Here the Prince reawakens Beauty, not with a kiss, but with sexual initiation. His reward for ending the hundred years of enchantment is Beauty's complete and total enslavement to him as Anne Rice explores the world of erotic yearning and fantasy in a classic that becomes, with her skillful pen, a compelling experience.

I am a huge fan of Anne Rice, but until Banned Books week came up, I had never picked up one of her early erotica novels.  All of them have been on the banned/challenged list at one time or another.  I'm sure that I don't really even need to point out why.  Research shows that people have tried to have them pulled from library shelves because they are thought to be pornography.  I am happy to say that my library system offers a wide variety of erotica, old and new!  

I have to admit that I didn't finish this one.  If you have been following the blog for a while, you will note that I tend to be the one who reads and reviews most of the romance and erotica on here. So, I am in no way a prude or opposed to a story with explicit sexual content.  What I found lacking in this story right from the beginning was emotion. In 100 years, no other prince had figured out how to awaken the kingdom.  The Prince awakens Sleeping Beauty by basically raping her. That really turned me off from the beginning.  Then, I kept reading only to find out that since he figured the trick out, she essentially has to be come his sex slave. Gee, thanks! I stopped reading at this point. Being an Anne Rice fan, I was very disappointed.  Maybe I'll go back to this some day and give it another chance.  But for now, I will stick with her vampire novels.  While I didn't care for this one, I am glad that I had the opportunity to judge for myself! 


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Banned Books week - Throwback Thursday Edition - A Study in Scarlet

Author: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
First Published in 1887 

In 1887, a young Arthur Conan Doyle published A Study in Scarlet, thus creating an international icon in the quick-witted sleuth Sherlock Holmes. In this, the first Holmes mystery, the detective introduces himself to Dr. John H. Watson with the puzzling line "You have been in Afghanistan, I perceive." And so begins Watson's, and the world's, fascination with this enigmatic character." Doyle presents two equally perplexing mysteries for Holmes to solve: one a murder that takes place in the shadowy outskirts of London, in a locked room where the haunting word Rache is written upon the wall, the other a kidnapping set in the American West. Quickly picking up the "scarlet thread of murder running through the colourless skein of life," Holmes does not fail at finding the truth - and making literary history.

A Study in Scarlet is the first in the Sherlock Holmes series in which it introduced famous detective Sherlock Holmes and his trusty companion, Dr. Watson.  It is the longest of the tales and is really two stories in one.   The story starts out with a mysterious murder in London, then moves to Utah and becomes a completely different story about something that happened in the early days of the Mormon settlement in Salt Lake City.  In a round about way, this tale is supposed to give the reader a motive for the murder in London. It then ends up with Holmes giving his method for tracking down the killer. 

Personally, I thought it was a bit dull.  Don't get me wrong, I love Sherlock Holmes, but this first attempt was not Conan Doyle's best  I thought the switch from London to Utah slowed down the pace of the book.  It took way too long to get to the point.  I had never read this first Sherlock Holmes book before, so when I saw an article that the story was pulled from the 6th grade reading list in Virgina School district earlier this summer, I knew I had to read it for Banned Books week.  Apparently, a parent objected to the story because they felt it portrayed the Mormons in derogatory way.  The story had been used to introduce 6th graders to the mystery genre.  Instead, they have suggest Hound of the Baskervilles as a replacement.  Personally, I think it is a better choice because I think the students would be bored to tears with A Study in Scarlet.


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Banned Books Week: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

by:  Stephen Chbosky
published by:  MTv Books
publish date:  1999

Charlie is a freshman. And while he's not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. He's a wallflower--shy and introspective, and intelligent beyond his years, if not very savvy in the social arts. We learn about Charlie through the letters he writes to someone of undisclosed name, age, and gender, a stylistic technique that adds to the heart-wrenching earnestness saturating this teen's story. Charlie encounters the same struggles that many kids face in high school--how to make friends, the intensity of a crush, family tensions, a first relationship, exploring sexuality, experimenting with drugs--but he must also deal with his best friend's recent suicide. Charlie's letters take on the intimate feel of a journal as he shares his day-to-day thoughts and feelings.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower was a complete surprise for me.  I knew nothing about it when I started reading it other than it was being made into a movie with Emma Roberts and that it was written as a series of letters.  Oh, and that it shows up on the ALA frequently challenged books lists in the last decade.

Reasons for banning: drugs, homosexuality, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, suicide, and unsuited to age group.

So yeah, all that stuff does show up in the book.  I'm assuming this book would be geared towards high school aged people.  To say it's unsuited to the age group is a little silly.  If you don't think kids in high school don't know what all that stuff is, try watching a PG-13 movie once in awhile.   Talk about unsuited to the age group.  Different soap box!

I found this book to be very intriguing.  I read the entire thing in one sitting.  I enjoyed Charlie, but I can't say I understood everything that was going on.  I didn't understand the idea of writing to someone he didn't know.  I thought the relationship between Michael and Charlie could have been described better.  He didn't really seem like a close friend, but maybe I should have read more into what was actually there.

In the little "About the Author" blurb I found it interesting that Stephen Chbosky was involved with the television show Jericho.  I loved that show when it was on.   He also wrote the screenplay for the upcoming movie of The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I'm very curious to see how the issues of drugs and homosexuality are going to be dealt with in the movie and what the rating will end up being.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Banned Books Week: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian

by:  Sherman Alexiepublished by: Little, Brown Young Readers
publish date:  September 2007

Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot. Heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which is based on the author's own experiences, coupled with poignant drawings that reflect the character's art, chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he thought he was destined to live.
Reasons cited for banning:  offensive language, racism, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, and violence

In reading this book I did encounter "offensive language", racism, and violence.  I didn't find anything "sexually explicit".  I don't even know what "sex education" means in terms of a reason for banning.  I didn't find any sort of step by step manual in the book.  There was a mention of masturbation in the book and perhaps that was the sexually explicit, sex education was, but again it was more of a mention of it and not a how-to and there was no discussion of body parts. 

I don't know what age group this book was geared toward, I would have to assume high school age kids.  I couldn't imagine this book would be in a middle school library.  I would think this book wouldn't be anything outrageous for the average kid in high school.  I don't understand what age group it's unsuited for.

I, personally, found it to be an interesting story.  I liked the way it was written in diary format with a mixture of comic drawings.  It told an important story about life on reservations, one that more kids should understand and if this is the way they come by it, so be it.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Banned Books Week: A Light in the Attic

Author: Shel Silverstein
Publisher:  Harpercollins Childrens Books ( first published October 7th 1981)

Last night while I lay thinking here
Some Whatifs crawled inside my ear
And pranced and partied all night long And sang their same old Whatif song:

Whatif I flunk that test?
Whatif green hair grows on my chest?
Whatif nobody likes me?
Whatif a bolt of lightning strikes me?...

Here in the attic of Shel Silverstein you will find Backward Bill, Sour Face Ann, the Meehoo with an Exactlywatt, and the Polar Bear in the Frigidaire. You will talk with Broiled Face, and find out what happens when Somebody steals your knees, you get caught by the Quick-Digesting Gink, a Mountain snores, and They Put a Brassiere on the Camel.

From the creator of the beloved poetry collections "Where the Sidewalk Ends" and "Falling Up", here is another wondrous book of poems and drawings.

When I found out I was pregnant with my first child, one of the first things I bought for her was the entire Shel Silverstein collection in hardcover.  I loved these books as a child.  I can still remember my mother reading them to me before bed.  I have never forgotten them and couldn't wait to share them with my kids. Mr. Silverstein had quite an imagination and has created a wonderful collection of funny and memorable poems.  The one above in the synopsis is just a taste.  Along with the poems, he has sprinkled illustrations throughout the book that only help to fuel the child's imagination.  One of my favorites is "Backward Bill".  My kids love "Something Missing". What kid wouldn't love a poem about a man who forgets to put on his pants?

This was one of the most frequently challenged books of the 90s.  A little research showed that one of the poems, "How Not To Have To Dry The Dishes" was thought by parents to promote disobedience and uncleanliness.  It has also been challenged for supernatural themes and for some of the illustrations.  Read it for yourself and decide.


Blog Tour & Giveaway- Promise

Author: Kristie Cook
Publisher: Ang'dora Productions, LLC

When Alexis Ames is attacked by creatures that can’t be real, she decides it’s time she learns who she really is, with or without the help of her mother, who guards their family’s secrets closely. After meeting the inhumanly attractive, multi-talented Tristan Knight, however, Alexis retreats behind her façade of normalcy…until she discovers he’s not exactly normal either. Then their secrets begin to unravel.

Their union brings hope and promise to her family’s secret society, the Angels’ army, and to the future of mankind. But it also incites a dangerous pursuit by the enemy – Satan’s minions and Tristan’s creators. After all, Alexis and Tristan are a match made in Heaven and in Hell.

I had high hopes for Promise after reading the forward by the author.  The version I read was re-released with better editing and new content.  In other words, it as written the way she had originally intended it to be presented.  I wasn't disappointed.  Promise is a beautifully and well written love story. 

Alexis has known she was different all her life.  She can heal any wound that she gets almost immediately. Her mother never seems to age. And on top of that, she is constantly moving.  She longs for a normal life. Instead, it seems someone wants to kill her and her mother is not telling her things she needs to know.  She meets Tristan in a college class and the connection runs deeply almost instantly.  I really enjoyed watching Tristan and Alexis get to know each other.  They became friends first which I think made their love more believable.

Ms. Cook has created a unique world which revolves around the Amadis and the Daemoni.  I look froward to learning more about both sides and how they came to be.  One thing that did bother me about the book was the people around Alexis kept only giving her part of the story.  This got to be frustrating for me after a while.  But then, I have no patience and had to remind myself to trust in the author. Promise ends in an emotional cliffhanger, so you might want to have the second book, Purpose, ready to read.  I know I have it loaded on my Kindle ready to go.

I definitely recommend Promise!  I know that Ms. Cook has a promising future as a writer.  I look forward to seeing what comes next.

And now for the Giveaway:

Thanks to the generosity of the author, I have 3 separate sets to giveaway:  Only one is open to international entries"

Prize #1: a set of signed print copies of Promise and Purpose  (US only)

Prize #2:  A swag bag from the author.  (US only)

Prize #3: a set of ebooks versions of Promise and Purpose  (International)

I'll make this easy, leave a comment with a valid e-mail address and whether or not you are international.  List a preference if you have one.  I will randomly pick 3 winners using  I will keep the giveaway open until October 1, 2011.  I will notify the winners via e-mail.

About the author:

Kristie Cook is a lifelong writer in various genres, from marketing communications to fantasy fiction. Besides writing, she enjoys reading, cooking, traveling and riding on the back of a motorcycle. She has lived in ten states, but currently calls Southwest Florida home with her husband, three teenage sons, a beagle and a puggle. She can be found at

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Banned Books Week: The Giver

by:  Lois Lowry
published by:  Delacourte Books for Young Readers
publish date:  January 2006

Jonas's world is perfect. Everything is under control. There is no war or fear or pain. There are no choices. Every person is assigned a role in the Community. When Jonas turns twelve, he is singled out to receive special training from The Giver. The Giver alone holds the memories of the true pain and pleasure of life. Now, it is time for Jonas to receive the truth. There is no turning back.

I read this book on a rainy Saturday afternoon and thought it was a great story.  I was thinking it was probably one of the books that got this recent trend of YA dystopian going. 

Jonas lives in a perfect society.  Everyone is great.  Everyone gets along, Everyone has their place.  All the children born in the same year age together, celebrate milestones together, receive their job assignments together.   Until Jonas is selected to become The Receiver. 

Once Jonas starts his training with The Giver, he starts to understand the reality behind his community.  He learns what really happens to the elderly in his community.  He begins to understand that babies that are less than perfect aren't really sent to other settlements.  He then plots his escape.

After I was done, I sat there awhile pondering why this would be a banned book.  I was drawing a blank.  After a handy dandy Google search I got some answers.  The main objections to this book centered around euthanasia.  That's what happened to the less than perfect in this book.  They were euthanized.  Another objection raised was suicide.  There was one instance of suicide in this book.  When a character knew she was going to be "released" from the community she asked to inject herself.  The third objection raised by this book was sexuality.  In order to maintain the perfect society, birth rate was strictly regulated.  The society were basically non-sexual due to pills they were required to take.  All this was talked about in a somewhat abstract manner, but Jonas had to report to his parents that he had "Stirrings" and his parents started him on his pills to tamp down his sexual urges. 

I don't know specifically where this was banned, but it's #11 on the ALA's most challenged books in the 90's.  I can understand parents not wanting their middle school children reading it perhaps, but I would think any young person high school age could handle the material in this book.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Banned Books Week: Blog Hop

Welcome to Banned Books Week at From the TBR Pile!! This week the American Library Association spotlights the problem to banning books within our free society.  We're going to do our part by giving away some of these books that have been banned from schools and libraries around the country.  Throughout the week we will also be featuring various books that have been banned or challenged and discussing the reason why.

To kick off the week we are participating in the Banned Books Blog Hop hosted by I'm a Reader Not a Writer and (appropriately) I Read Banned Books

We are stop #4 on the Blog Hop.  If you want to see the full list of participating blogs, click HERE.

We will be giving away 1 set of books:  The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and The Giver

I'll open it to world wide since all these books are paperback and not too heavy.  To enter, please fill out the FORM below.  Giveaway closes October 1.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Blog Tour - Love at Absolute Zero

Author: Christopher Meeks
Publisher: White Whisker Books

"Love at Absolute Zero" is about Gunnar Gunderson, a 32-year-old star physicist at the University of Wisconsin. The moment he’s given tenure at the university, he can think of only one thing: finding a wife. His research falters into what happens to matter near absolute zero (−459.67 °F), but he has an instant new plan. To meet his soul mate within three days—that’s what he wants and the time he can carve out—he will use the Scientific Method. Can Gunnar survive his quest?

Gunnar Gunderson is a 32 YO scientist who has had his nose in a book and head in his research his entire adult life.  When he finally makes tenure, he realizes that it is time to find a wife.  What better way than to use the Scientific Method. It is what any good scientist would do, right? Besides, what could go wrong?  As he quickly finds out, everything!

Love at Absolute Zero is a funny, yet compelling read. Being a scientist, I liked the idea of using the Scientific Method to help find a soul mate.  It is an original idea and one that you know will make for some funny situations.  I wasn't disappointed! Some of the situations that Gunnar gets into just made me cringe,  yet I couldn't stop reading.  It is like a watching a train know it is coming, yet you can't seem to look away.   I was rooting for him the entire book. 

The peripheral characters round out the book nicely.  I hated Kara, but loved Ursula. I think most readers will agree!  The speed dating scenes were laugh-out-loud funny.  The book is worth reading just for those alone.   Will Gunnar be able to find true love?    You will have to read to find out!  


About the Author:

Christopher Meeks began as a playwright and has had three plays produced. Who Lives? A Drama is published. His short stories have been published in Rosebud, The Clackamas Literary Review, The Santa Barbara Review, The Southern California Anthology, The Gander Review, and other journals and are available in two collections, The Middle-Aged Man and the Sea and Months and Seasons. He has two novels, The Brightest Moon of the Century, a story that Marc Schuster of Small Press Reviews describes as "a great and truly humane novel in the tradition of Charles Dickens and John Irving," and his new comic novel, Love At Absolute Zero.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Blog Tour: Edge of Grace

by:  Christa Allan
published by:  Abingdon Press
publish date:  August 1, 2011

In a matter of seconds her entire world shifted...

An early morning call shatters Caryn Becker's world. Unable to cope with her brother's news that he is gay, Caryn rejects him and disappears into her own turbulent life as a young widow and single mom. But when David is attacked and nearly killed, Caryn is forced to make hard choices about family, faith, and her own future; choices that take her to the very edge of grace.

First off I want to give a shout out to a home town girl.  Christa Allan is from Abita Springs, Louisiana.  That's not too far from where I live in South Louisiana.  I always like to see accurate references to my home state in books I read.

Honestly, when I started this book, I didn't like it.  I was getting really frustrated with Caryn.  I felt like she was incredibly self-centered.  Caryn felt like her life was falling apart because her brother called off his wedding and announced he was gay.  What does that have anything to do with YOU Caryn??  After David is attacked Caryn starts to see the light.

I liked the character of Julie.  I don't see how Caryn could make it through her day to day life without her friend and neighbor, Julie.  She provided a lot of tough love that was needed throughout the book. 

This book would fall into the category of Christian Fiction, but it wasn't heavily focused on religion.  I gave this book to a friend of mine whose tastes fall into the paranormal romance and she said she really liked this book.  So, I think it would have wide appeal. 

Throwback Thursday - Tempest in Eden

Author: Sandra Brown
First Published in 1983 by Jove

A renowned artist's model, Shay Morrison thinks nothing of exposing her body to inspire great works of art. Hidden inside her, where no one can see, is the pain of a failed marriage. Then she accidentally walks in on Ian Douglas as he steps from a shower. Every gorgeous bit of him is immediately apparent — as is his disapproval of Shay. What isn't so obvious is his profession: Ian is a minister in a very staid community. Challenged and hurt, Shay decides to seduce him. But waiting for her are the traps of her own weaknesses and the potent force of sexuality ...

I have been mulling this one over for a few days. I'm not sure I liked the characters all the much. Shay is a nude model and Ian is a minister. In the beginning, Shay comes across as a beautiful, confident woman. She enjoys life and what she does for a living. After meeting Ian, she becomes uncertain and almost clingy. I didn't really understand why she would switch all of a sudden because of a man she met one weekend. I thought her behavior in the beginning was appalling. Honestly, why would a minister like Ian even think twice about a woman that acted like that toward him? Because he lusts after her. Being a minister, he won't sleep with her because they aren't married. So, guess what happens? They jump into marriage without really knowing each other and then wonder why they have issues after.

Tempest in Eden is not Sandra Brown at her best. I've read better. You have to love the cover though!


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Silver Girl

Author: Elin Hilderbrand
Publisher: Reagen Arthur Books

Meredith Martin Delinn just lost everything: her friends, her homes, her social standing - because her husband Freddy cheated rich investors out of billions of dollars.

Desperate and facing homelessness, Meredith receives a call from her old best friend, Constance Flute. Connie's had recent worries of her own, and the two depart for a summer on Nantucket in an attempt to heal. But the island can't offer complete escape, and they're plagued by new and old troubles alike. When Connie's brother Toby - Meredith's high school boyfriend - arrives, Meredith must reconcile the differences between the life she is leading and the life she could have had.

Kari's thoughts:

I had to take a few days to think about this one.  I have come to the conclusion that this one just OK for me. I will be giving it 2 stars on Goodreads.  I'm not sure I can totally pinpoint why I didn't care for it.  I think it came down to the characters.  None of them appealed to me.  I didn't like Meredith at all.  I didn't feel badly for her situation one bit. Nobody can be that blind for 30 years. I wasn't even really convinced that she had changed that much in the end.  I also didn't care for Constance.  She could have made more of an effort to get back with her daughter, but instead she chose to wallow in self pity.  To me, Toby was the most honest of the 3 of them. But, he was almost felt like an after thought.  Like there was a need for a romance for Meredith, so let's bring back the old boyfriend.  I didn't buy it.

The other problem I had with the book was the pacing.  All of the inner reflection and remembering the past slowed down the book for me.  It was too long and probably could have been cut down a bit.    Personally, I don't think you will be missing anything if you skip this one.  I haven't read anything else by this author, but Autumn tells me her earlier works are good.  I'll have to pick one of those up!

Autumn's Thoughts:

I'm somewhat torn on this one.  I don't think I disliked it as much as Kari.  However, I don't think I liked it as much as The Island by Elin Hilderbrand.  One of the things that I will say that I disliked about this one was all the references to designers, clothing, shoes, furniture, etc.  I guess that's supposed to appeal to the chick-lit readers, but it started to annoy me.  I don't know designers, I don't know what it looks like, especially things that are going to appeal to 50 year old billionaire women.

Overall, I think this book was supposed to be sort of like taking a look at all these "Bernie Madoff" type scandals from the wife's point of view.  Sometimes the family are just innocent bystanders.   I didn't totally hate Meredith, but I thought she was kinda being a baby at times.  There was such harping on how incredibly intelligent she was, but I felt like she was kind of lazy.  She could have done more to make something of herself, by herself.   I wanted to like Connie, but she started to aggravate me too.  If she wanted her daughter back, I would think that after two years you would get up off your ass and go visit her and apologize in person.   I really hope I'm raising my daughters to be tougher, more self-sufficient women than these two.

What I did like, and what I like about other works from Elin Hildebrand are all her descriptions of Nantucket and what a lovely place it is.  It always makes me want go buy a house on an island.

I also want to mention that we both listened to the audiobook.  I don't think either of us were thrilled with the narrators.  They weren't completely awful to the point you couldn't listen to it, but they weren't awesomely fantastic either.  However, I do want to thank Hachette Audio for providing the copy I listened to.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Heart of a Killer

Author: Jaci Burton
Publisher: Mass Market Paperback (October 25, 2011)

No one said coming home would be easy. But for Dante Renaldi, it's murder.

Before the Special Forces hero has even unpacked his bags from twelve years of active duty, he's embroiled in murder—corpses bearing the brutal trademark he's seen only once before—on the worst night of his life.

The last time Detective Anna Pallino saw Dante Renaldi, they were in love. Now, he's part of the connection to a string of fresh homicides and a horrible assault Anna only survived thanks to him.

More than anything, Anna wants to trust Dante. But as the bodies and the coincidences stack up, Anna will have to decide, and fast: Is the man she owes her life to the very same one who wants her dead?

The Heart of a Killer is the first in a new series by Jaci Burton.  I am a fan of her Wild Rider series, so I was excited to read this new one. Thanks to Ms. Burton for the ARC!  I wasn't disappointed!  Dante has been away from town for 12 years.  Now he is back and finds not only is his old flame a cop, but those he cared about before he left are being murdered. He must decide who to trust. Can 12 years really change someone that much? The mystery in this one is great.  There are so many suspects that just when I thought I had it figured out, I realized I was wrong.  I never would have guessed the end.  I love when I can't figure out the killer in the first half of the book!  The tension and suspense is kept up right up until the end.

The romance is also really good as Anna and Dante are a great couple. Dante is definitely an alpha, but you can tell that he has never stopped thinking about or caring for Anna.  Anna is dealing with her own demons and Dante does a great job of helping her overcome them.  They both are wary of each other at first, yet when it comes down to the wire, they can freely admit that they still love each other.  I loved the how the HEA played out for them.  The scene in the break room was just too sweet! The sexual tension between these two is steamy and very sensual.  Ms. Burton really knows how to write a great love scene!

I definitely recommend this one!  I really hope that Gabe gets his own story soon!  The book hints at the direction that it could take, so I'll just keep my fingers crossed!


Sisters Red

Author:Jackson Pearce
Published: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (June 7th 2010)

Scarlett March lives to hunt the Fenris--the werewolves that took her eye when she was defending her sister Rosie from a brutal attack. Armed with a razor-sharp hatchet and blood-red cloak, Scarlett is an expert at luring and slaying the wolves. She's determined to protect other young girls from a grisly death, and her raging heart will not rest until every single wolf is dead.

Rosie March once felt her bond with her sister was unbreakable. Owing Scarlett her life, Rosie hunts ferociously alongside her. But even as more girls' bodies pile up in the city and the Fenris seem to be gaining power, Rosie dreams of a life beyond the wolves. She finds herself drawn to Silas, a young woodsman who is deadly with an ax and Scarlett's only friend--but does loving him mean betraying her sister and all that they've worked for?
Kari's thoughts:
Sisters Red is a unique take on the Little Red Riding Hood story. I gave it 3 stars because while I liked it, I didn't love it. I liked how the story was told by alternating between the sisters. It really allowed the reader to get to know both of their personalities better. I thought Scarlet was annoying and overly dramatic. I understood her need for revenge, but she seriously needed to lighten up a little. I can't imagine anyone that driven would survive for too long as a hunter. Even Buffy had fun once in a while! I liked Rosie and was hoping she would realize that she had paid her debt to Scarlett a thousand times over. I wanted her to find a life other than hunting.
The twist was very predictable and I figured it out early on in the book. I think most will as well. I had a little issue with the age difference between Rosie and Silas. I thought 16 was too young for a 21YO and had a hard time getting past that. I also think it is a bit violent for under 16, so parents might want to keep that in mind when choosing this for YA readers.

Autumn's thoughts:
We both listened to the audiobook.  While I liked it, I thought the reader read WAY TOO SLOW.  That aside, I liked the story.  One of the things I liked best about it was the legend behind the Fenris.  Not just anyone could become one and I liked the packs.  The idea of "the potential" was an interesting take and I thought it was a fresh direction in the werewolf story.

I also liked the alternating view points.  I much preferred Rosie's point of view.  I thought Scarlett was too overbearing.  She was too demanding of Rosie.  I agree that Rosie had well paid her debt to Scarlett and Scarlett was keeping her enslaved almost.  I didn't have an issue with the age difference between Rosie and Silas, mainly because Rosie didn't have any other options.  The only other men/boys she meets are Fenris.

This book did seem to have a more mature feel to it.  There weren't a lot of bad words or sex to make it R rated, but it was violent.  It might not be appropriate for the more sensitive YA reader.

Monday, September 19, 2011


Author: Melissa Marr
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers (May 2011)

Rebekkah Barrow never forgot the tender attention her grandmother, Maylene, bestowed upon the dead of Claysville, the town where Bek spent her adolescence. There wasn’t a funeral that Maylene didn’t attend, and at each Rebekkah watched as Maylene performed the same unusual ritual: three sips from a small silver flask followed by the words “Sleep well, and stay where I put you.”

Now Maylene is dead and Bek must go back to the place—and the man—she left a decade ago. But what she soon discovers is that Maylene was murdered and that there was good reason for her odd traditions. It turns out that in placid Claysville, the worlds of the living and the dead are dangerously connected. Beneath the town lies a shadowy, lawless land ruled by the enigmatic Charles, aka Mr. D—a place from which the dead will return if their graves are not properly minded. Only the Graveminder, a Barrow woman, and the current Undertaker, Byron, can set things to right once the dead begin to walk.

Kari's thoughts:

I had no idea what to expect going into this book. I was pleasantly surprised. Graveminder is a well written and unique story. Rebekkah and Byron have both left home, but wrestle with a constant feeling that they should return to their home town. Byron returns on his own to help with the family business. When Rebekkah's grandmother, Maylene, is murdered, she is forced to return as well. Maylene's death sets off a series of events that changes their lives forever.

This book has a little bit of everything in it. Romance, creepy scenes, mystery, murder and the walking dead who eat people (they aren't zombie, though). I liked both Rebekkah and Byron's characters and their relationship with each other. The bargain that the town made with Charles (Mr. D) is interesting and I almost wish there was more back story to it. I loved the scenes that take place in the land of the dead.

I definitely recommend this one. I really enjoyed it. I will warn that there are a few gruesome scenes in the book but they are written very well. Since it is labeled as an adult read, I probably wouldn't recommend it for YA's. I listened to the audiobook and Emma Gavin, the narrator, did a great job.

Autumn's thoughts:
I also listened to the audiobook.  I agree that Emma Gavin was perfect for the job.  I recognized her as the reader for Veronica Roth's Divergent.  She did an excellent job there as well.

The original bargain that the townspeople made with the Charles was interesting.   I don't recall any information given as to where Claysville was located.  However, it had to be in existence in the 1700s and it wasn't in California.  The first Graveminder was named Abigail and one of the other ones was Drusilla.  I found that intriguing.  I wondered if maybe there was a Salem Witch tie in there.

I enjoyed this one quite a lot as well, a lot more than I was expecting to I think.  I really liked the idea of a Graveminder.  Not for the reason they had to have one, but the idea of a town having a designated Graveminder.  I, too, would recommend this one!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Perfect Mistress

Author: Victoria Alexander
Publisher: Zebra ( February 2011) Audio by Brilliance Audio

Widowed Julia, Lady Winterset, has inherited a book--a very shocking book--that every gentleman in London seems to want. For a charismatic businessman, it's a chance to build an empire. For a dashing novelist, it could guarantee fame. But to a proud, domineering earl, it means everything. . . 

Harrison Landingham, Earl of Mountdale, can't let the obstinate Julia release the shameless memoir that could ruin his family's name. But the only way to stop her may be equally sordid--if far more pleasurable. For his rivals are intent on seducing the captivating woman to acquire the book. And Harrison isn't the sort to back away from a competition with the stakes this high. Now the winner will claim both the scandalous memoirs and the heart of their lovely owner. . .

Julia is a widow who is financially strapped, having been cut off from her dead husband's allowance.  She decides to sell her great-grandmother's memoirs to make money.   This sets off an amusing string of events that has three suitors trying to woo her in order to get the book.  I have not had the pleasure of reading anything by Ms. Alexander before, so I was pleasantly surprised with her latest.  I liked Julia and Harrison.  Thought they had great chemistry together.  Harrison was such an amusing character.  It was fun to watch him overcome his stodgy, proper ways in order to woo Julia.  I liked that they became friends before they fell into love.

The book has snippets of Julia's great-grandmother's memoirs sprinkled through out the book.  Each passage corresponds to what is happening in Julia's life at the time.  I almost wish that I could read all of Hermione's journal as I'm sure they would be very amusing and steamy!  The peripheral characters really enhance the book.  I loved Hermione's ghost and her gentlemen suitors that kept popping up.  I also loved Harrison's father.

My only real complaint about the book was with the audio version that I listened to.  I didn't care for the narrator's voice.  I thought she made all of the women sound much older than they were in the book. Even the 23 YO in the book sounds in her 50s.  I kind of wish I had read the paper version instead.  Other than that I definitely recommend this one.  It was a fun read.


Saturday, September 17, 2011

Review and Giveaway: The Traitor's Wife by Kathleen Kent

If you've read The Wolves of Andover by Kathleen Kent, this is the same book.  It has been retitled.  I've seen some negative comments elsewhere because people have bought the book thinking it was a new book only to find out they've already read it.

I dearly love this story and it's been featured TWICE on this blog.  Once as a stand alone.  Then I said:

I LOVED this book. I listened to the audiobook, but still, I loved it. The pace and the progress the the story was perfect. The author slowly revealed tiny little bits of the story so that you constantly wanted to know more.

This was one of those really interesting books that made you feel like you were learning something while you were reading. It was a fantastic historical novel as well as a lovely romance. The afterword as a lot of information regarding the history included in the book that was very interesting and made me want to read Kathleen Kent's other book, The Heretic's Daughter.

As I said, I listened to the audiobook and I'd highly recommend it. The reader, Ellen Archer, did a superb job. Thanks to the Hachette group for providing the audiobook!
We also featured it during our Salem Witches Week when we had a day specifically for Kathleen Kent.  Both of her books were featured.

I was absolutely thrilled to meet Kathleen Kent in New Orleans this August.  She signed a copy of The Traitor's Wife for me and it'll definitely have a special spot on my bookshelf.

Now, you can win a copy of The Traitor's Wife.  Thanks to the great people at Hachette I have 3 copies of The Traitor's Wife and 1 copy of The Heretic's Daughter to give away.  The contest is open to residents of the US and Canada only, no P.O. Boxes, only one winner per household.

Please leave a comment with a valid email address.  Winners will be picked on Sept. 30th.

Friday, September 16, 2011

When She Woke

by:  Hilary Jordan
published by:  Algonquin Books
publish date:  October 4, 2011

Hannah Payne’s life has been devoted to church and family, but after her arrest, she awakens to a nightmare: she is lying on a table in a bare room, covered only by a paper gown, with cameras broadcasting her every move to millions at home, for whom observing new Chromes—criminals whose skin color has been genetically altered to match the class of their crime—is a new and sinister form of entertainment. Hannah is a Red; her crime is murder. The victim, according to the State of Texas, was her unborn child, and Hannah is determined to protect the identity of the father, a public figure with whom she’s shared a fierce and forbidden love.

When She Woke is a fable about a stigmatized woman struggling to navigate an America of a not-too-distant future—where the line between church and state has been eradicated and convicted felons are no longer imprisoned and rehabilitated but chromed and released back into the population to survive as best they can. In seeking a path to safety in an alien and hostile world, Hannah unknowingly embarks on a path of self-discovery that forces her to question the values she once held true and the righteousness of a country that politicizes faith.

The first thing I want to comment on is the cover art of this book.  I got an ARC and I really hope the final copies are something close, because it is striking.  The red of her skin is a red metallic that is gorgeous.  Kudos to the designer, because it is outstanding.

Anybody has read The Scarlet Letter will instantly recognize this modern day retelling.  I never got the "rip off" feeling though, I felt like this story was paying homage to Hawthorne. 

The whole premise of Chroming was a unique idea and Jordan answered the questions that popped up in my mind about the process.   The reason it came about was because America went through an economic depression and in order to save money this process was developed as a punishment instead of incarcerating prisoners.  I'd think in a way we've started dipping our toes in the water of this idea with the Sex Offender Registry.

This book however was mainly about abortion and the mixture of religion and government.  Those are some hot button issues so I can see this being a controversial book, but the way that it was written I can see it appealing to people who fall on both side of the issue.  It's also an adult book, but it had a bit of a YA feel to it, maybe due to the naivete of Hannah?  While I wouldn't recommend it to younger teens, I think it would be ok for mature teens that are understanding of the issues.  (hint would be really awesome for a compare and contrast term paper with The Scarlet Letter)

Mile 81

by:  Stephen King
published by:  Simon & Schuster Adult
publish date:  September 1, 2011

At Mile 81 on the Maine Turnpike is a boarded up rest stop on a highway in Maine. It's a place where high school kids drink and get into the kind of trouble high school kids have always gotten into. It's the place where Pete Simmons goes when his older brother, who's supposed to be looking out for him, heads off to the gravel pit to play "paratroopers over the side." Pete, armed only with the magnifying glass he got for his tenth birthday, finds a discarded bottle of vodka in the boarded up burger shack and drinks enough to pass out.

Not much later, a mud-covered station wagon (which is strange because there hadn't been any rain in New England for over a week) veers into the Mile 81 rest area, ignoring the sign that says "closed, no services." The driver's door opens but nobody gets out.

This is a new short story from the Master of Horror and this story illustrates why he got that moniker.  It was pretty creepy.  I think I read somewhere it was a cross between Christine and Stand by Me and I think that would be a fair assessment.  The first third or so talking about Pete Simmons and his trek to the rest stop was reminiscent of the Stand by Me boys.  The station wagon at the rest stop was just as evil as Christine.

Once again, King's characterization in this novella is superb.  The reader knows and cares about the characters in a few short paragraphs.  I love his creative cussing and there are some really good ones in here.  I was cracking up laughing at a few. 

My only disappointment with Mile 81 came with the ending.  It was a little far fetched in my opinion, but it's not my story so how can I dispute where the station wagon comes from?  But I didn't particularly like it.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Blog Tour - Wedlocked

Author: Bonnie Trachtenberg
Publisher: iUniverse (June 2011)

On what should be the happiest day of her life, Rebecca Ross is panic stricken. Rebecca has just wed Craig Jacobs, but she realizes she put more thought into choosing her florist than she did in choosing the man she’s just pledged to love for the rest of her life.

Before Craig, Rebecca, a talented Long Island girl, dreamed of following in her grandmother’s footsteps with an acting career. Unfortunately, she was cut down to size by years of disappointment, and by her first love—a Hollywood director. She returned to Long Island a lost and broken woman, and ended up in the last place she ever wanted: her old bedroom at her parents’ house.

But Rebecca’s mother, an overzealous convert to Judaism, has a long held dream too: marry off her three daughters to Jewish men. So no one is more thrilled than her when Rebecca meets and marries bon vivant Craig Jacobs, the man who has won over the whole family. Too bad they’re all about to discover that underneath his charismatic shell, this Prince Charming is anything but!

Wedlocked is an amusing and heart warming story about life, family and second chances.  Rebecca Ross realizes on her wedding day that she has made a horrible mistake.  But to please her mother, she decides to stick it out and go on her honeymoon. The story then goes back in time as she reflects on her life to figure out how she arrived at this point.  Her honeymoon turns out to be a disaster, yet it only reinforces her mistake.  Will she ever get her happy ending?

I really liked Rebecca.  Her character was very real to me.  She isn't perfect and makes many mistakes in her life.  Yet, she is willing to own up to those mistakes and try again.  She also learns that with support and love from friends and family, her life can get better.  I also loved Michael. He was really sweet and I just loved the interactions he has with Rebecca.  I would have liked to see more development of the relationship between Michael and Rebecca.  I though that the jump into the epilogue was too fast and left me wanting more.

Ms. Trachtenberg has written a great debut novel.  I definitely recommend it.  It grabbed my attention right form the beginning.  It also had some great laugh out loud moments.  I look forward to seeing more from her in the future.


About the Author:

Bonnie Trachtenberg graduated from New York University with a major in Film and Television Production. She promptly found a job on a B movie you never heard of. Four days later she retired from her film career after working the craft service truck and throwing her back out while attempting to lift a man-sized coffee urn.

Realizing she was meant to be a writer, Bonnie worked 4,749 crappy jobs (give or take) on two coasts before being published in a national magazine. Her writing career then took her from the health and fitness field to the entertainment industry to journalism and public relations before she landed her dream job as Senior Staff Writer/Copy Chief at Book-of-the-Month Club. There, she wrote hundreds of book reviews and hobnobbed with the literati. At this time, she also began work on her first novel.

Five years later, Bonnie was laid off along with 500 of her colleagues after a corporate takeover. She did not despair, but instead took it as a sign from the heavens that it was time to finally finish her freaking book already. She did. Her debut novel, Wedlocked, was released this June. A second is in the works.
Bonnie lives on Long Island with her husband Mitchell Silbowitz. The two were high school friends who met up again in 2003, renewed their friendship and then fell in love. She has three stepchildren and four irresistibly cute cats.

Throwback Thursday - Mind over Matter

Author: Nora Roberts
First Published in 1987 by Silhouette


Theatrical agent Aurora Fields kept her personal life strictly separate from her professional one, but lines were crossed the moment she met David Brady. He had asked her client to participate in his documentary on paranormal phenomena. Aurora agreed, but she stayed on hand to protect the woman from exploitation as fiercely as a mother tigress.

Somehow David saw that Aurora's tough self-image was a little soft around the edges, and he was determined to discover what she was trying to hide. He'd always considered himself a good judge of people, so why did each moment he spent with Aurora leave her as enigmatic -- and enticing -- as before?

Nora Roberts is a favorite of mine. She usually doesn't disappoint. Having said that, Mind over Matter is not one of my favorites of hers. Aurora (AJ) is an agent for her mother, Clarissa, who is a psychic. David wants to interview Clarissa for a TV documentary that he is doing. Both AJ and David are loners and not really interested in commitment. The chemistry between the two is instant, but they are so opposite, I'm not sure I believed that fate meant them to be together.

While David was likable, AJ annoyed me. She is one of those people who expect the worst to happen at any time, so she never allows herself to live. It got to be tedious after a while. This story is also a classic tale of miscommunication at its best. For people in love, they really don't like to talk to one another.

While not the best, it is still a Nora Roberts book. Fans of her will be entertained as I know I was.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

2 in 1 Novellas: Viper's Kiss and Daring

It's that time again! I have 2 novellas for review today. First up is:

Viper's Kiss

Author: Shannon Curtis
Publisher: Carina Press (July 2011)

Librarian Maggie Kincaid yearns for excitement—but being accused of espionage is not what she had in mind. Wanted by the police, the FBI and the criminal element, Maggie goes on the run—and runs straight into sexy Luke Fletcher. Unfortunately, when Luke pulls out the handcuffs, it's not because he has something kinky in mind...
Security expert Luke is intent on seeing the murderous spy known only as Viper brought to justice. The un-spy-like behavior of his fugitive makes him suspect he's apprehended the wrong woman. Just as they give in to lust, new evidence convinces Luke that Maggie's not as innocent as she claims to be.
Devastated by Luke's inability to trust her, Maggie runs again. She's determined to clear her name, and if that means tracking down a notorious spy even Interpol can't seem to locate, then that's exactly what she'll do...
Viper's Kiss involves a librarian who is accused of being a spy and stealing secret technology. While I liked the overall story idea, I'm not sure this one really worked for me. I know I would have liked this one had it been a bit longer and there was more time to get t know both Maggie and Luke. Their relationship just seemed forced and not believable. I didn't really like Maggie or Luke. Maggie kept contradicting herself and that got annoying. First, she says she won't sleep with someone until she has known them 90 days. Then all of a sudden, she is jumping into bed with Luke after knowing him a few hours. I just didn't see that happening. I mean, there was attraction, but after one kiss, she is giving up her virginity? Then she says she can't imagine life without him, but later tells him she needs to step back and evaluate her feelings.

Luke is kind of a boring hero. Other than his good looks, I didn't see much about him that was likable. He has this gut instinct that tells him Maggie isn't Viper, but he is easily swayed to not trust her by the smallest amount of evidence. I think that he totally over-reacted in the end when Maggie says she wants some space to make sure their relationship is one that can last. Also, for a security expert, he was a bit slow on proving Maggie wasn't the real Viper. The identity of Viper seemed to be something that could be cleared up very easily and that was frustrating for me. As I said, had this been longer and had more back story, I would have liked it more. It's a quick read, so you can judge for yourself.

Next up is Daring

Author: Dee Davis
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Lara thought working a world away would heal her. Yet volunteering to treat the sick and injured in revolution-torn central Africa can't stop the shattering memories of losing the man she loved. A night with sexy security officer Rafe Winters seems the perfect temporary escape-until insurgents attack her clinic and Rafe becomes her only way to survive . . .

Rafe knows all too well that this beautiful young doctor is the insurgents' real target: Her knowledge of America's espionage system makes her a valuable prize. Helping her flee jeopardizes his hidden agenda-but her unexpected trust in him sparks a desire to protect her that he can't ignore. Now as their merciless pursuers close in, Rafe and Lara's only chance for escape will put everything they've sworn to protect-and their new found love-on the line . . . 

This novella is one of the reasons that I really dislike reading a series out of order.  I haven't read any of the preceding books to this novella, so I don't know any of the back story about the organization A-Tac or the peripheral characters that show up in the book. I had the feeling of walking into the theater halfway through a movie and jsut couldn't catch up.

Having said that, Daring was just OK for me.  I think if I had more back story for both Lara and Rafe I would have liked both of them more than I did. I didn't get the sense that I knew either charter enough to like either of them.  The action in the story was engaging and I liked the question "Is Rafe a good guy or not?", but beyond that the story felt flat.  The romance just seemed too forced and wasn't believable.  

I am intrigued enough to go back and read the books preceding this novella.  Maybe I'll come to appreciate it more if I do. 


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Mine Until Dawn

Author: Ednah Walters (writing as E.B Walters)
Publisher: Firetrail Publishing (July 2011)

She's armed with a new attitude and a kick-ass wardrobe....

By age twenty-eight, art historian Jade Fitzgerald has had a marriage from hell and an equally nasty divorce, worked hard to control her weight and her arrhythmia. The last thing she needs is another man messing with her head or shooting her heartbeat off course. That is exactly what she gets when an aloof and mysterious stranger storms into her life.

He's cynical and doesn’t take crap from anyone....

Former investigative reporter Vince Knight is on a quest to recover a priceless, ancient Mayan artifact, which he believes Jade’s mother stole. He’s skilled at gathering information while remaining emotionally detached, until he meets Jade. The voluptuous woman stirs in him a hunger he hasn’t felt in a long time and a protectiveness he can’t explain.

Until, an insane man decides to add Jade to his collection of beautiful and rare things....

Neither Vince nor Jade expects passion to flare so fast or danger to dodge their footsteps. To defeat a ruthless art collector with a twisted agenda, Jade and Vince must learn to trust each other and embrace their growing feelings.

Mine Until Dawn is the second book in "The Fitzgerald Family" series by Ednah Walters. I reviewed the first book, Slow Burn, back in May here. I was really looking forward to Mine Until Dawn and I was not disappointed. Ms. Walters sends the reader on another exciting adventure of intrigue and, of course, romance. Boy, does the romance sizzle! This time around, Jade Fitzgerald is confronted by Vince about her mother's possible involvement in the theft of a family heirloom. The story takes off from there and doesn't slow down. Once again, I was kept guessing until the end.

I love the characters in this book. Vince is a great hero and he compliments Jade very well. I liked their relationship. Both have major trust issues that I was happy to see them take their time to work through. It made me believe their feelings for each other in the end. We also get to know more of the Fitzgerald clan in this book. I love their fierce loyalty to each other.

I don't want to give too much of the plot away, so you will have to read it for yourself to find out if Jade's mother stole the statue or not. This is a series you don't want to miss! The next one comes out soon and I can't wait!


Monday, September 12, 2011

Review & Giveaway: The Night Circus

by:  Erin Morgenstern
published by:  Doubleday
publish date:  September 13, 2011

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.

This book, much like a real circus, was quite a spectacle to behold.  It was finally something completely different and imaginative. 

This was one of the few books that I felt like it would make a better movie than a book.  It's not to say that the book was bad by any means.    It was just such a visual book that I think it could be so much more as a movie.  The movie right have already been optioned.  It definitely needs Tim Burton as a director.  The entire circus and it's cast is clad in black and white only with little bits of silver here and there.  That screams Tim Burton to me, plus he would lend that undertone of evil that is woven through the whole story even though there's a love story blossoming.

What I liked about this book was the writing.  It was beautifully written.  I loved the circus.  I loved how mysterious and magical it was.  I really liked the black and white theme, it was perfect.  I think it illustrated how naive the players in the duel were and how evil their masters their masters were.  I liked Celia and I liked Marco, however I didn't like them together.  That brings me to what I didn't like.  I didn't find them together very believable.

I wish there had been a little more explanation of the dual and what exactly it was it was going to be in the beginning.  It seemed like there was going to be an epic battle of magicians, a la Lord of the Rings, but it far different than that.  Not different bad, but don't expect something like that.

Thanks to the great people at Doubleday I have 2 copies to giveaway.  US addresses only.  No P.O. Boxes.  Please leave a comment below with a valid email address to enter.  If you'd like an additional entry you can spread the word about this contest (facebook, twitter, etc.) please leave a link in a separate comment.  I'll pick a winner on 9/19/11.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Blog Tour - Chronicles of the Apocalypse

Author: Zach Richardson
Publisher: Self

When you sacrifice the lives of your wife and children to prevent the world's most powerful clan of assassins from unleashing the Apocalypse, what does that make you? And what do you do when you learn that it was all in vain? For Jin Sakai, that sacrifice turned him into a mere shell of a man, filled only with guilt and hatred. When he learns that it was a sacrifice made in vain, he instantly sets out on a violent one-man war to tear the assassins' clan down around their ears. After all, who better to destroy them than the man who brought them together?

Things soon turn down a darker path as Jin uncovers the disturbing truth behind his family's sacrifice; a truth he was never meant to learn. Undone by the revelation, Jin is consumed by doubt and confusion and very nearly loses his life. It is only later when he meets Leah Lawson, a woman who overcame her own dark past, that his doubt and confusion vanish and he begins to see a path that will not only lead him to his revenge, but to his redemption.

Unfortunately, there is far more going on behind the scenes than Jin realizes. Forces are at play that have been manipulating the course of his life ever since he was born. By setting out on his quest for vengeance, Jin unknowingly cements his destiny as one of the key warriors in the apocalyptic war that’s brewing just beneath the surface.

Chronicles of the Apocalypse is a well written, fast paced book.  The action starts on the first page and doesn't really slow down.  Jin is a former assassin living in exile.  He has lost his whole family because of the life he led.  When he finally seeks revenge, he nearly dies. This story is about his path to forgiveness and redemption with the help of a new love. 

I will admit, this was a very different genre than I usually read, but I always like to expand my horizons.  The actions scenes reminded me of movies like Kill  Bill.  I could picture them on the big screen and I think they would be very entertaining to watching.  This book might be a little violent for some, I know I was disturbed in a few places. So I recommend it to those who don't mind swords and guns.  The book does end in a cliffhanger, which I tend to dislike.   I think that the book was well written and thought out for a first novel.  Mr. Richardson has a bright future ahead of him!

About the author:

Zachery Richardson, casually Zach, was born in Seattle WA on August 8th, 1989, and was raised in Lake Oswego, OR. It is perhaps the greatest irony of all that his chosen career is that of an author when as a child, his second least favorite subject in school was writing. Math was number one, and their relationship remains strained to this day.

However, the switch was flipped in middle school when his teacher assigned a creative writing project. Having finally been given a productive outlet for his wildly active imagination, Zach dove headfirst into the world of author-dom and never looked back. By his freshman year of high school, he'd completed his first "book"; a 300 page fanfiction set in the Mobile Suit Gundam universe. Afterwards, he turned his attention to a series of wholly original works that would become Chronicles of the Apocalypse in the subsequent year.

While Chronicles of the Apocalypse (or COTA as he likes to call it) remains his central focus, Zach has also begun work on several other projects in the Young Adult and High Fantasy genres.

He currently lives in Wilsonville, OR

Friday, September 9, 2011

Magnificent Middle Grade Week: It's Raining Cupcakes

by: Lisa Schroeder
published by: Aladdin
publish date: March 2010

Twelve-year-old Isabel is dying to get out of Oregon. She spends her free time in the library, reading and dreaming about faraway places. When her mom decides to open a cupcake shop in their little town of Willow, Isabel feels just like buttercream frosting to a cupcake-stuck. It seems as if it will be another disappointing summer, until Isabel learns of a baking contest. If she can come up with a winning recipe, she might have a chance of competing in the bake-off in New York City! But Isabel's best friend, Sophie, is also entering the contest, and things always seem to go Sophie's way. To make matters worse, Isabel and her mom don't exactly see eye-to-eye on the type of recipe Isabel should enter. In this sweet treat by popular teen author Lisa Schroeder, Isabel discovers that maybe it's not about where you go in life as much as it is about enjoying the view from wherever you are.

This was a really cute book. I thought it had some important lessons in it about dealing with jealousy in friendships. Isabel feels like her friend Sophie always gets whatever she wants. Isabel frustrated with her feelings of coming in second to Sophie quite often. In the end, she learns to work out these problems.

The one aspect of this book I didn't particularly enjoy was the attitude of Isabel's mother. She seemed to be suffering from depression or bipolar disorder. I don't know exactly what was going on there. I understand that it's an issue that some kids do have to face, but it seemed to bring the whole book down a lot. If there was some explanation perhaps, on a kid level, of what the problem was, maybe it would have made a lot more sense. Maybe. I'm looking at it from the viewpoint of an adult though, a kid might not notice it or care, I don't know.

However, overall I did like the book a lot. I loved all the cupcakes mentioned in the book and there were recipes at the end. It would be a great book for an older middle grader and they might want to try out the recipes.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Giveaway winners!!

Announcing the winners of our recent giveaways:

Back to the Books Blog Hop:

Pack #1 - Velvet Huber

Pack #2 - Kayla

Egypt: The Uprising Giveaway:

Jessica has won 1 e-copy of the book.

Winners, check your e-mails!

Kari & Autumn

MMGW - Throwback Thursday Edition #2: Into the Dream

Author: William Sleator
First Published in 1979 by Scholastic

Paul has a recurring nightmare, about a small boy in awful danger. When he learns that his classmate Francine has it, too, the two of them join forces to solve the mystery and save the boy—before their bad dream becomes a terrifying reality.

When we decided to do a Middle Grade Week, I knew immediately, that I was going to re-read and review Into The Dream. It has always been a long time favorite of mine from when I was younger. I even still have my original copy. It has this cover: and it is dog-eared and worn from frequent reading. I'm not sure what it is about this one that has always stuck with me. After reading it as an adult, I still love it!

The author throws you right into the story and it doesn't slow down until the end. Every night, Paul has started to have the same weird dream that haunts him during the day. He then finds out his classmate, Francine, is having them as well. The two form an uneasy friendship as they search for answers to explain their shared dream. They also find out that they can read each other's minds. I don't want to give away too much of the plot as I think it would spoil it for you.

As I was reading, I kept wondering how different this would story would have been had it been written now. With the change in technology, the kids would have been able to do their research much faster. Instead, they have to rely on the library archives. Remember when there was no Internet? Since I read my older copy, I don't know if the author has updated the later versions. I hope not, I think it would change the story too much.

I look forward to sharing this with my kids when they are middle school age. I found nothing that wasn't appropriate for the middle grade level. Share it with your kids. I hope they love it as well!