Thursday, October 31, 2013

Review: Finding It by Cora Cormack

Author: Cora Cormack
Publisher: William Morrow
Date of publication: October 2013

Sometimes you have to lose yourself to find where you truly belong...

Most girls would kill to spend months traveling around Europe after college graduation with no responsibility, no parents, and no-limit credit cards. Kelsey Summers is no exception. She's having the time of her life . . . or that's what she keeps telling herself.

I think I liked this one the most out of the trilogy. Finding it is Kelsey's Story.  She was Bliss's roommate in Losing It. I'm not sure I have read about a more tortured soul than Kelsey in a while. Her life growing up seems like it was a nightmare.  Her parents lack of love and respect for their child just astounded me.  No wonder she didn't feel like she fit in anywhere.

Instead of using her backpacking trip abroad to take in the sights of Europe, Kelsey partied, drank and hooked up everywhere she went.  When she met Jackson, her world changed.  I loved these two together.  He showed her how to live and experience life in a healthy and fun way.   It wasn't too hard to figure out what Jackson is hiding from Kelsey.  Even suspecting what I did, I still loved their journey.   The ending was perfect.  Throughout the entire book, I was rooting for Kelsey to find peace and a soft place to fall.  I was applauding her decisions that she made in the end.  It showed she truly "got it" and had grown up.

I highly recommend this series.  Cora Cormack knows how to write great New Adult fiction.  I can't wait to see what she comes up with next!

About the author:

Cora Carmack is a twenty-something writer who likes to write about twenty-something characters. She’s done a multitude of things in her life—retail, theatre, teaching, and writing. She loves theatre, travel, and anything that makes her laugh. She enjoys placing her characters in the most awkward situations possible and then trying to help them get a boyfriend out of it. Awkward people need love too.
Find out more about Cora at her website, connect with her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter.
Tour Schedule:
Tuesday, October 15th: A Chick Who Reads
Wednesday, October 16th: Into the Hall of Books
Thursday, October 17th: Sara’s Organized Chaos
Tuesday, October 22nd: Reading Reality
Monday, October 28th: Oh! Paper Pages
Tuesday, October 29th: Mom in Love With Fiction
Wednesday, October 30th: Why Girls Are Weird
Thursday, October 31st: From the TBR Pile
Monday, November 4th: Let The Read Books
Thursday, November 7th: Tina’s Book Reviews
Monday, November 11th: Cupcake on Books
Thursday, November 14th: Books a la Mode

Throwback Thursday: Golden Eyes by Maya Banks

Author: Maya Banks
First published in 2008 by Loose-Id

When Sheriff Duncan Kennedy finds an injured cheetah in his mountains, he brings it home, determined to find out how she got there and stop the poachers who were hunting her. When he later checks on the cheetah and instead finds a gorgeous, naked woman with an arrow in her leg, he's completely flabbergasted.

For six months, Aliyah Carver has been trapped in cheetah form. Taken by poachers who import exotic animals to illegally hunt, she stayed in animal form to avoid detection. She escaped the hunters, but now she faces another problem -- a devastatingly sexy sheriff who now knows her secret.

The book is really short.  It was only 4 discs long.  I think that this may have been more enjoyable had it been a longer book.  I had a hard time buying that Duncan and Aliyah fell in love.  The "insta-love" just didn't work for me.  I just couldn't figure out when they were supposed to have fallen in love.  For the few days they are together, all they do is have really raunchy sex.  Now, for those of you who read this blog regularly, you know that I do like some erotica   This one, not so much.  It was kind of crude and I found myself being put off by it during the bedroom scenes.  

Knowing this is one her the author's early erotica short stories, I keep reminding myself that her writing has much improved in recent books.  I have enjoyed her historicals.   I can't really say that I liked this one that much.   This is probably a safe one to skip.  It's not one that I would recommend.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Books We Didn't Finish - October Edition

Autumn:  It's been awhile since we've done one of these and I've had a hard time settling down with a book so I've got a LONG list!!

I've read David Levithan before and I've liked his books in the past so I was surprised that I didn't like Two Boys Kissing.  I didn't like the writing style.  It came across condescending.  I tried skipping past the beginning, but that lingered and I just didn't like it.

The Shining Girls was one of my highly anticipated books.  A serial killer traveling through time?  Sounds awesome, but the traveling through time part was what put me off.  I didn't like how the author would just plop the reader down right in the middle of the action with no explanation of what was going on.  It was confusing and I had a hard time keeping track of the story line.

Wow, I was really let down by Covet.  I loved The Island and had high expectations for this book.  It turned out to be whiny, upper middle-class women complaining that their husbands don't pay them enough attention because they're working too hard to make the money to give them their upper middle class lifestyles.  Blah.

Panopticon:  Dialect.  This one was like Scottish brogue or something.  It regularly has words like didnae, tae, shouldnae, dinnae, wasnae, cannae.  I can decipher these words within the context, but it slows down my reading rhythm.  I don't like reading dialect.

5 Days at Memorial:  I am not a non-fiction person.  I was, however, interested in reading a Katrina story.  The story of what happened at Memorial hospital was infamous.  I think a lot of people were anticipating this book.  However, there was just a lot of boring details about the architecture and history of the hospital, which I'm sure had relevance to the story in some way, but made it a total snoozer.  People wanted to know about flooding and death and dying and making agonizing choices...not architecture.

Forever Interrupted may be one of the saddest books I ever picked up.  Obviously just from reading the back you know it's going to be sad.  Couple is married for a week and the husband dies.  That's sad.  But the story is just way more sad than that.  It was just too depressing for me.  I couldn't handle it.

The Book of Someday.  The premise seemed promising.  It's about 3 unconnected women that are moving towards an event that will intertwine their lives.  Three women, three viewpoints.  It got to be a little much, and it just wasn't holding my interest enough.  Maybe at a time, when my life wasn't quite so busy I could handle a slower paced book, but right now I need something that gets to the  This one wasn't it.

Kari: My list isn't nearly as long, but here goes:)

I tried to read Dualed, but I found it dull.  I had a hard time orienting myself to the world in the story.  I found myself not really caring about what was going on. I am getting tired of books taht take over half the book to build the world for me.  I like to be oriented in the beginning.  It makes for a more enjoyable book. 

Liars and Lovers was my Retro Read selection for the month of October.  So far, I have enjoyed the books that Open Road Media has chosen for us bloggers in the program.  I finally found one I had a hard time getting through.  I felt like there were too many characters in the beginning.  It was slow in getting to the point.  I found myself putting it down in favor of other books.  Not a good sign for me.
 I'm honestly not sure what possessed me to try Stealing Harper.  I didn't care for Taking Chances, but I am always willing to give a book the benefit of the doubt.  Well, reading a story that I didn't' like the first time doesn't make it any better reading it a second time from another person's point of view.  I realized I didn't want to go through the story again, so I gave up.

I know that the "Just One Night" series, beginning with The Stranger, is supposed to be reasonably short stories.  I tried to read it, but halfway through The Stranger, I knew I would not like it.  I got tired of Kasie saying it was the last time she would sleep with Robert.  I also couldn't get over the cheating thing. If you are unhappy, leave first.  Otherwise, it's just slimy and sneaky.  I won't be finishing the series.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Joint Review: The Boy Who Could See Demons by Carolyn Jess-Cook

by:  Carolyn Jess-Cook 
published by:  Delacorte Press
publish date:  August 13, 2013

Alex Connolly is ten years old and likes onions on toast. His best friend is a 9000-year-old demon called Ruen. When his depressive mother attempts suicide yet again, Alex meets child psychiatrist Anya. Still bearing the scars of her own daughter’s battle with schizophrenia, Anya fears for Alex’s mental health and attempts to convince him that Ruen doesn’t exist. But as she runs out of medical proof for many of Alex’s claims, she is faced with a question: does Alex suffer from schizophrenia, or can he really see demons?

This book wasn't even on my radar until Kari mentioned she was going to listen to the audiobook.  It sounded pretty interesting so I thought I'd give it a go myself.   Throughout the book there was the constant question, was Alex sick the way Anya thought he was or was Alex really seeing demons.  Personally, when I was reading the book, I was on the side that Alex was really seeing the demons.  I'm a supernatural person though.

I liked the characters in this book.  Alex was an interesting kid, even though his onions on toast obsession was weird and kind of grossed me out.  I liked Ruen, he was a demon and evil, but I liked his sophistication.  While I wasn't particularly wowed by Anya, I was intrigued by her relationship with her daughter Poppy.  I would have liked a little more detail about Poppy and her psychosis.  

Overall, I liked this book.  I could have maybe started nitpicking about the end, but I decided to leave it alone and suspend disbelief.  Sometimes, the reader just has to do that for the sake of the book.  

Ultimately, I enjoyed the book. The one thing that I loved were the jokes that Alex tells in the beginning of each of his sections.  I found myself giggling at them.  It definitely lightened the mood in the story.  I was the opposite of Autumn.  I was more inclined to think that Alex was schizophrenic and couldn't really see the demons.  I couldn't explain how he knew certain personal details about Anya, but I didn't really buy it.  

I loved the ending.  It was a great twist that thinking back, I probably could have seen coming had I been paying better attention.  The audiobook was well done.  I thought the author did a good job of narrating her own story.  I have found that to be a rare thing.  This is definitely a book I would recommend giving a try.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Guest post, Giveaway & Review: Murder in Thrall by Anne Cleeland

Please welcome author Anne Cleeland as she promotes book, Murder in Thrall.  She joins us today with a guest post on every writer's dilemma.  

Giveaway details: Want to win a copy?  Just fill out the Rafflecopter below. (US only please.)

Publisher: Kensington
Date of publication: July 2013

First-year detective Kathleen Doyle and Chief Inspector Michael Sinclair, Lord Acton, are a most unlikely pair. An Irish redhead of humble beginnings and modest means, Doyle is the antithesis of Acton, the British lord who has established himself as a brilliant but enigmatic figure with a knack for solving London's most high profile homicides. But Acton senses something exceptional beneath Doyle's awkward naivete and taps her to help him with his investigations. And her spot-on intuition is just what he needs to solve a chilling string of murders. . .

My thoughts:

Murder in Thrall was not what I expected  I really enjoyed the book.  I was looking forward to a good mystery and I got one.  But, what I didn't expect was a sweet romance.  The mystery was interesting with a few twists.  I definitely didn't call the killer nor did I figure out his motivation for killing.  I was way off base on that one.  

Acton and Doyle make a great team.  I liked how they played off each other.  Once I got past the fact that Doyle was kind of stalking her for a while, I really liked their relationship.  Doyle is independent and smart, but a little naive.  Acton is a great detective and completely smitten with Doyle.  I loved how he proposed to her.  Not exactly romantic, but in a way that so fits his personality.  

Murder in Thrall was well written, well plotted out.  It has a sweet romance and had a few scenes that made me laugh.  I highly recommend this one!  I look forward to the next adventure with Acton and Doyle.

Every writer’s dilemma: How accurate should you be?
          I am neither British nor a detective, but I write about British detectives.  Furthermore, these detectives tend to interview shady characters who are smoking, even though London does not allow smoking in public places. Despite all appearances, I have only a hazy understanding of English criminal procedure, and worst of all, the characters in my books tend to have successive work days when there really should be a weekend thrown in there somewhere.
            In my own defense, shady witnesses should always smoke whilst smirking—that’s how we know they’re shady in the first place, after all—and when the good guys are hot on the trail of the killer, it really disrupts the pacing to have everyone take a Sunday break.  
            When she started out with “A is for Alibi,” Sue Grafton’s books were specifically set three months in time after the one before, even though the books were published a year apart.  Now that she is up to “W,” she is essentially writing historicals, set in the 1980’s.  I imagine if she had it to do all over again, she’d adopt the Cleeland vague-time-continuum rather than have to study up on historical accuracy when she really just wants to write a great contemporary mystery.  But, as she jokingly admits, when she started out she never thought she’d be where she is today.
            Some writers are sticklers for accuracy and some—like me—are not, but I would bet we get the same amount of mail pointing out our missteps.    That’s because writers like me take great pains to be vague about details that might trip us up; if we’re not tethered to a plot that requires keeping track of the days of the week, well then, there is no reason whatsoever to mention what day it is. 
            In a way, it’s very liberating; the New Scotland Yard in my stories is my own version of Middle Earth, complete with larger-than-life themes like love and death, fate and vengeance, and the occasional hand-to-hand office skirmish.  I know the real building in London contains cubicles, personnel who are jockeying for promotion, and a canteen—and these three elements are all that is needed to create a setting sufficient for my purposes.
            In fact, when you think about it, much of what the reader expects from a detective story is not based on reality to begin with; there can’t be that many serial killers on the loose—or detectives whose personal lives are in such disarray.  And certainly the crooks are not all evil masterminds; in reality, most are dim bulbs. But these are the beloved memes that we’ve come to expect from our detective fiction, and so we all start out the story with the implied understanding that accuracy will play a secondary role to a good plot—does anyone really think that Jack Reacher would have any unbroken bones left, after all he’s been through?

            The police procedural is a popular sub-genre, but the writer has to perform a tricky balancing act; give the reader sufficient accuracy to create an aura of authenticity, but not so much accuracy that the story suffers.  To this end, the occasional liberty has to be taken; it just wouldn’t be the same to have a shady witness smirk whilst exhaling clouds of water vapor from an electronic cigarette.  Some things are sacred.

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About the author:
Anne Cleeland is the author of Murder in Thrall, the first book in a new mystery series featuring Acton and Doyle, two Scotland Yard detectives.   She is an attorney living in California, and also writes a historical fiction series.  Her website is

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Review: Faking It by Cora Cormack

Author: Cora Cormack
Publisher: William Morrow
Date of publication: June 2013

Mackenzie “Max” Miller has a problem. Her parents have arrived in town for a surprise visit, and if they see her dyed hair, tattoos, and piercings, they just might disown her. Even worse, they’re expecting to meet a nice, wholesome boyfriend, not a guy named Mace who has a neck tattoo and plays in a band. All her lies are about to come crashing down around her, but then she meets Cade.

Back in February, I reviewed Losing It, the first in this series.  I was so happy to see Cade get his own story.  I remember feeling so badly for him as he was so in love with Bliss. I really enjoyed Faking It as much as I liked the first one.  The characters are young, but very realistically portrayed.  They are both in search of finding out what kind of adult they want to become. 

In Faking It, Cade finally finds a way to get past his feelings for Bliss.   Max needs a "normal" boyfriend quick to get her parents off her back.  Cade seems to fit the bill perfectly. Max and Cade were perfect for each other. Both they are searching for some type of happiness in their life. I loved Max.  She  has a lot of baggage from growing up, but she is really fighting to be who she wants to be.  Her music is important to her.  I felt really badly at how her family treated her.  I was so happy with how she deals with them in the end.  I thought that, while very different from Max, Cade was so good for her. He called her on her BS and she gave him a reason to finally fight for someone to stay in his life.  This was a great sequel to the series.  I look forward to Finding It next!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Review: The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarity

Author: Liane Moriarity
Publisher: Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam
Date of publication: July 2013

Imagine that your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret—something with the potential to destroy not just the life you built together, but the lives of others as well. Imagine, then, that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive. . . .

I was hoping that The Husband's Secret would break my streak of disappointing books that I have read in the last week.  Unfortunately, it didn't work.  The book was just on OK read for me.  It starts out with three different women  who seem to not have anything to do with each other.  As the story unfolds,you can quickly see how the three women's lives connect. 

I had a couple of problems with the book.  It's long and kind of boring.  There was too much foreshadowing in the beginning so that the secret that John-Paul wrote in the letter to Cecilia wasn't a big surprise.  I had it figured out way before she decided to read it.  This made me find myself not really caring what he did.  The other thing was the amount of time spent in each of the characters heads.  There was too much introspection.  They spent so much time thinking and arguing with themselves that I wanted to skip ahead in parts and get on with it.  

Out of the three story lines, the only one I truly enjoyed was Tess and Will's story.  I was happy to see that there was hope for them in the end.  I thought their relationship was heartbreaking and realistic.  I found myself rooting for them in the end.   The rest of the characters were not very likable and I didn't find myself identifying with them at all.  The book has gotten rave reviews, so I guess it just wasn't the story for me.

Friday, October 25, 2013

You Look Different in Real Life by Jennifer Castle

by:  Jennifer Castle
published by:  HarperTeen
publish date:  June 4, 2013

The premise was simple: five kids, just living their lives. There'd be a new movie about them every five years, starting in kindergarten. But no one could have predicted what the cameras would capture. And no one could have predicted that Justine would be the star.

The documentary crew first filmed Justine and her friends at 6 years old.  It wasn't hard to be friends in kindergarten.  5 years later at 11 things were a little more difficult.  All their lives were changing.  Keira's mother left and it was all caught on film.  Nate was the victim of vicious bullies and it was all there for the world to see.  Now, the 5 are 16 years old and they've been away from the cameras for 5 years.  Their lives have changed drastically.  Only Keira and Nate, and Justine and Felix are still friends.  Rory has been diagnosed with being on the austism spectrum and while Justine desperately misses her friend, she doesn't know how to reach out.  The film crews are showing up for the next movies and what are they going to film?

This is the kind of book I'd normally read.  It ended up being a contemporary romance, but I liked it.  It was an interesting story.  I liked the premise behind the story.  Filming a group of kids every 5 years to see how they change.  I thought the story rang true.  Most of the kids that I hung out with in middle school weren't the same people I was friends with in high school.  Social circles change.  I see it happening with my kids now.  

I would recommend this book to fans of contemporary YA.  It was a quick, thoughtful read.  There wasn't too much in the way of objectionable material.  It might be better suited to the little bit older readers, just because there were some themes in it that were on the mature side, but not overly so.  Maybe like 14+.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Oddities and Entities by Roland Allnach

Author: Roland Allnach
Publisher: All Things That Matter Press
Date of publication: March 2012

 "There's more to this world than flesh and bone." Set in the mysterious space between the everyday world and an existence just beyond reach, "Oddities & Entities" traces a path through the supernatural, the paranormal, and the speculative. With moments of horror, dark humor, and philosophical transcendence, these tales explore a definition of life beyond the fragile vessel of the human body. 

I was hoping I was going to like this anthology of horror stories.  Out of all of the stories included in Oddities & Entities, I think I only really liked the first two. The stories are well written, they just weren't my style.  I really liked "Shift/Change". It was creepy with a great twist in the end. "Boneview" was also captivating and had a Rumpelstiltskin like feel to it.  If you read this book, those are the ones I would recommend.  

I wanted to like "Elmer Phelps". I did for a while as it was a great idea.  But once the incest part came into play, I was too disturbed to really like it.  As to the he remaining stories, I found myself not being able to get into them.  I think with any book of short stories, there will be hits and misses.  Why not pick this one up and see which ones you like?

About the author:

Roland Allnach has been writing since his teens, but did not actively seek publication until 2007. He has numerous published short stories to his credit, one of which was a 2010 Pushcart Prize nominee, as well as two multi-award winning books, Remnant (2010) andOddities & Entities (2012). His literary inspirations arise from classic literature, history, and mythology, and his aim is to invest his stories and characters with a complexity and depth that continue to reward upon repeated readings. Writing aside, his joy in life is the time he spends with his family.
Find out more about Roland at his website, see what he’s writing about on his blog, and follow him on Facebook.
Check out his other tour stops!

Throwback Thursday: The Children of Green Knowe by L. M. Boston


Author: L. M. Boston (original illustrations by Peter Boston)
First published in 1954 by  Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc
Reissued with new illustrations by Brett Helquist in 2002 by HMH Books for Young Readers

The novel concerns the visit of a young boy, Toseland, to the magical house of Green Knowe. The house is tremendously old, dating from the Norman Conquest, and has been continually inhabited by Toseland's ancestors, the d'Aulneaux, later Oldknowe or Oldknow, family. Toseland crosses flood waters by night to reach the house and his great-grandmother, Linnet Oldknow, who addresses him as Tolly.

I was hoping this book would be a fun middle grade Throwback Thursday book.  I had high hopes for it as it had a lot of great reviews and the series has won awards.  What I found out instead was that just because it is an old book, doesn't mean it's a good book.  The Children of Green Knowe was boring.  I was really glad the audiobook was only 4 discs long or it would have been a DNF book for me. 

Nothing much really happens.  There were too many characters that shared the same names.  That lead me to have to re-listen to certain passages to figure out what was going on.  I can't imagine, had I read this in middle school, that I would have liked it any better.    I'm not sure if I will give the second of the six books a try.  If they are anything ike this one, I think I'll pass.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Blog Tour: Rule by Jay Crownover

Author: Jay Crownover
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Date of publication: May 2013

Shaw Landon loved Rule Archer from the moment she laid eyes on him. Rule is everything a straight--A pre-med student like Shaw shouldn't want--and the only person she's never tried to please. She isn't afraid of his scary piercings and tattoos or his wild attitude. Though she knows that Rule is wrong for her, her heart just won't listen.

To a rebel like Rule Archer, Shaw Landon is a stuck-up, perfect princess-and his dead twin brother's girl. She lives by other people's rules; he makes his own. He doesn't have time for a good girl like Shaw-even if she's the only one who can see the person he truly is.

If you are a fan of friends to lovers stories, then you will love Rule.  Rule and Shaw have known each other since high school.  He has always been under the impression that she was his twin brother's girlfriend for years.  After his twin's death, Rule and Shaw have continued a tenuous friendship.  Shaw has been in love with Rule since the moment she met him.  She had never had the courage to do anything about it, until her birthday.  I really liked Rule and Shaw together.  She was just the perfect person to tear down his walls. He
was just what she needed to find the courage to be her true self.

This story is so much more than just a romance. It's about acceptance and being true to yourself.  I loved Rule.  He is a truly tortured soul who, deep down, just wants to be loved.  I felt so bad for him in every interaction with his mother.  But I had to commend him for being open to working things out with her when she was ready.  I also felt like, in the end, that both Shaw and Rule were willing to do the work it would take to make their relationship work. 

This is a wonderful book is filled with great characters. I read it in one sitting.  I loved all of the guys at the tattoo parlor. Their banter made for some funny scenes.  I look forward to reading Jet's book next! 

Tour schedule:
Wednesday, October 23rd: From the TBR Pile
Thursday, October 24th: Acting Balanced
Monday, October 28th: The Bookmark Blog
Tuesday, October 29th: Into the Hall of Books
Wednesday, October 30th: Sara’s Organized Chaos
Tuesday, November 5th: Brooklyn Berry Designs
Wednesday, November 6th: Ladybug Literature
Thursday, November 7th: Nightly Reading

Connect with Jay Crownover:

twitter username: jaycrownover

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Review: Lake Thirteen by Greg Herren

Author: Greg Herren
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
Date of publication: August 2013

It seemed like a good idea at the time…

Every summer three families take a trip together—this year it’s to a remote resort in the mountains of upstate New York. Scotty, a teenager who’s just come out, is nervous about how his friends will react to him. A late night visit to an old nearby cemetery seems like a great idea to the bored teens, but the old cemetery holds dark secrets hidden for almost a century—secrets that might have been better left undisturbed.

 Scotty has been going on a family vacation with two other families since he was born.  This year, they end up at a mysterious resort that is better suited to wintertime.  Scotty is pretty nervous about having come out to his friends over e-mail before heading on vacation.  When he gets there, the place seems so familiar to him.  After a visit to the local cemetery, he starts to see visions about events that happened years before to someone else.  The kids quickly realize that there is more to the place than meets the eye and work together to solve the mystery.

Lake Thirteen was a very quick and enjoyable read.   I did like the characters.  I really felt for Scotty in his anxiety about coming out to his friends.  I thought the subject was handled very well.  I think the way the other kids took the news really reflects the changing attitudes of today's youth. That was nice to see. I enjoyed the mystery and the reincarnation possibility in the story line. The only thing about the book that I wish was included was an epilogue that wrapped up Scotty's boyfriend's story.  I would have liked to see how the issue was resolved.  I would say this was OK for the over 14 crowd.  There really wasn't anything in it that I thought was inappropriate.  

Monday, October 21, 2013

Review: Asylum by Madeleine Roux

Author: Madeleine Roux
Publisher: Harper Teen
Date of publication: August 2013

For sixteen-year-old Dan Crawford, New Hampshire College Prep is more than a summer program—it's a lifeline. An outcast at his high school, Dan is excited to finally make some friends in his last summer before college. But when he arrives at the program, Dan learns that his dorm for the summer used to be a sanatorium, more commonly known as an asylum. And not just any asylum—a last resort for the criminally insane.

As Dan and his new friends, Abby and Jordan, explore the hidden recesses of their creepy summer home, they soon discover it's no coincidence that the three of them ended up here. Because the asylum holds the key to a terrifying past. And there are some secrets that refuse to stay buried.

To be honest, I really didn't like this book.  I know this could have been so much better than it was. The first thing I thought after I finished it was, "What did I just read?"  I love watching those movies where the film crew goes into an old asylum or hospital and weird things start to happen.  That is the type of book that I thought I was getting.

What I got instead was a pretty lackluster book.  I never felt like I got an answer as to what was happening with the characters and why.  The characters were kind of forgettable.  It started out promising, but after the first chapter, it fell apart.  The conversations among the characters felt forced and out of place.  I could understand how their personalities kept changing.  The asylum was supposed to be making them go crazy.  But, there is never really a final solution as to why.  The mystery of the killer was confusing, and I still have no idea why he was doing it.  The personal connections between the kids and the asylum were just too predictable.  I don't think I would really recommend this one. Maybe with a rewrite it could be a better book.  

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Wall by Marlene Haushofer

by:  Marlene Haushofer (english translation Shaun Whiteside)
published by:  Cleis Press
publish date:  1999 (originally 1962)

First published to acclaim in Germany, The Wall chronicles the life of the last surviving human on earth, an ordinary middle-aged woman who awakens one morning to find that everyone else has vanished. Assuming her isolation to be the result of a military experiment gone awry, she begins the terrifying work of survival and self-renewal.

The main character of the book is a middle aged woman alone in a hunting lodge.  The reader never learns her name.  She awakes to find that she is alone, a dog named Lynx is her only companion when she finds that she is cut off from the rest of the world by an invisible barrier she calls The Wall.  On the other side of The Wall she discovers that humans have turned to stone.  From the safety of her side of The Wall, she starts to build a life for herself.  

This book is remarkably similar to Stephen King's Under the Dome, however, there's no trying to get out or in and there's not much drama.  It made me wonder if that's where he got the idea for Under the Dome.  Unlike UTD, The Wall is simply an accounting of one woman's struggle to survive.  I was really amazed at how 50 years later this book could stand up next to any other dystopian being published today and it would be just as good.

Fans of dystopian or post-apocalyptic, adult or YA would probably enjoy this book.   The audiobook was excellent, I would definitely recommend it if you're into that.  I've seen a lot of criticism about this book being boring and I could understand that, but for me, I guess I got really into.  I adored it.  Whenever she was happy, I was happy, whenever she was sad, I was really sad.  I guess it depends how much you can identify with the main character.  

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Cover of Snow by Jenny Milchman

by:  Jenny Milchman
published by:  Ballantine Books
publish date:  January 15, 2013

Waking up one wintry morning in her old farmhouse nestled in the Adirondack Mountains of New York, Nora Hamilton instantly knows that something is wrong. When her fog of sleep clears, she finds her world is suddenly, irretrievably shattered: Her husband, Brendan, has committed suicide.

Following her husband's suicide, Nora begins to unravel a web of lies that has been shrouding their tiny town for decades.  Once she does, the bodies begin to pile up and the houses start to come down.  It's a story of small town secrets, police corruption and the lengths families will go to protect their own.

Jenny Milchman was being hailed as being on the same level as Gillian Flynn, Chris Bohjalian and Nancy Pickard.  Those are three sort of bizarre choices to string together, but I think she would align more closely with Nancy Pickard if I were forced to pick one.   Her writing didn't have that darkness or depravity that the reader expects with Flynn and Bohjalian.  However, the mystery did eventually become interesting.  In the beginning, I felt the "mystery" was weak, there needed to be a bit more of a hook.  Other than the fact that her husband committed suicide, I didn't understand what was driving Nora to keep digging.  Or I knew she was looking for answers, but I didn't know what her question was?

Cover of Snow was not exactly what I was expecting.  It wasn't exactly the deep, dark, scary thriller I hoped it would be, but it wasn't terrible either.  I felt like the book was right on the verge of falling into the world of dark and scary, but the writer just wouldn't/couldn't go there.  My thinking is, if you're going to go there, go all out.