Monday, November 28, 2011

It's Monday, What Are You Reading?

It's Monday, What Are You Reading is a weekly blog meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey where you list the books you read last week and the ones you hope to read this week.

 Read Last Week:

Lily of the Nile by Stephanie Dray:  I read about this series on The Eclectic Reader, and rushed to the library to check out the first one.  I read it in two days, I loved it.  I just found out today that I was the lucky winner to the sequel, Song of the Nile from a contest on The Eclectic Reader! 

Four and Twenty Blackbirds by Cherie Priest:  This book looked so good, but fell flat.

New Beginnings by Rebecca Emin:  Ms. Emin asked if I would mind reviewing her book, and I loved it. 

Switched by Amanda Hocking:  I received this book from Librarything, and read it in one day.  I thought this book was great!  

Currently Reading:

I don't know! I read the books I was planning to read this week over Thanksgiving break, so I need to find something to read this week.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Four and Twenty Blackbirds - Review

Title: Four and Twenty Blackbirds
Author: Cherie Priest
Source: Library

Goodreads Summary:

Although she was orphaned at birth, Eden Moore is never alone. Three dead women watch from the shadows, bound to protect her from harm. But in the woods a gunman waits, convinced that Eden is destined to follow her wicked great-grandfather--an African magician with the power to curse the living and raise the dead. 

Now Eden must decipher the secret of the ghostly trio before a new enemy more dangerous than the fanatical assassin destroys what is left of her family. She will sift through lies in a Georgian ante-bellum mansion and climb through the haunted ruins of a 19th century hospital, desperately seeking the truth that will save her beloved aunt from the curse that threatens her life.

My thoughts:

This book had all the classic elements of a spooky, mysterious book - swamps, crumbling hospital/asylum, ghosts, murderous relatives, and an unknown past.  Like an adult version of Scooby-Doo almost, and I was (am) a huge Scooby Doo fan. And it had a few creepy moments- like a certain scene at a summer camp, and the vision of how the three women died.  But the book itself fell flat.  Eden was boring.  She also seemed to be removed from her own life, and not really care about what is happening to her.  She has a relative who is trying to kill her, but even says in the book that she is not really afraid of him.  If she is not, we sure are not going to be.  And if we aren't, then what is the point?  That completely removes any tension from the book, and without some suspense, it is boring.  And Eden is kind of tough to like.  A co-worker, albeit an annoying one, is killed in front of her, and Eden doesn't care since she never liked the woman anyway. That just seems soulless.  The book does pick up some excitement at the very end, where Eden is fighting for her life.  And she finally seems to care.  But that was it - the rest of the book could have been mysteriously scary, but since Eden didn't care, neither did I.

This is a case of never judge a book by its cover: This book looked like it was going to be a great read, but turned out it just wasn't.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Beautiful Creatures- Review

Title: Beautiful Creatures
Author: Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Source: Library

Goodreads Summary:

Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she's struggling to conceal her power, and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.
Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town's oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.
In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.
My thoughts:
I really enjoyed this book - I adored the characters, they were all interesting and quirky and likeable, and I even liked the characters you weren't supposed to like.  Ethan is a teenage boy, growing bored in his small southern town, who only thinks about getting away from Gatlin.  Until Lena moves to town, that is.  Lena is reviled by her town and classmates; she lives in the forbidden creepy mansion Ravenwood, with her uncle, who the town fears and mocks.  He is the Boo Radley of Gatlin, and as much as I like Boo, Macon Ravenwood is a little cooler.  His house is magic, and the interior can change on a whim.  This is one of the things I loved about the book- the magical whimsy throughout.  I of course loved Marion Ashcroft, the librarian, who you also find has a bit more up her sleeves than just being the public librarian.  
Lena is a caster- and so is her family.  On their 16th birthday, the fates decide if they are a good caster, or a bad caster.  Which way will they turn out?  Which way will Lena go?  Lena is a powerful caster, yet she surprises the reader by also being just a regular teenager, with a crush on a boy.  There is a battle against the clock of good versus evil, and to be honest, you don't always know which way it will go!
This book is rich in its charms, with the small southern town, eccentric characters, magic, a loyal dog, and romance.  I very much enjoyed the world that Garcia and Stohl created.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

It's Monday, What Are You Reading?

It's Monday, What Are You Reading is a weekly blog meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey where you list the books you read last week and the ones you hope to read this week.

Read Last Week:

The Devil You Know by Mike Carey- I loved this book, and I am looking forward to the second one.  

Currently Reading:
Four and Twenty Blackbirds by Cherie Priest - I love Southern Gothic, although this book is giving me a hard time!  I thought I would be done with it by now.  So far, I am liking it.

New Beginnings by Rebecca Emin:  I received this book from the author, and I am excited to read it this week. 

South of Superior - Review

Title:  South of Superior
Author:  Ellen Airgood
Source:  Library

Goodreads Summary:

When Madeline Stone walks away from Chicago and moves five hundred miles north to the coast of Lake Superior, in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, she isn't prepared for how much her life will change. 

Charged with caring for an aging family friend, Madeline finds herself in the middle of beautiful nowhere with Gladys and Arbutus, two octogenarian sisters-one sharp and stubborn, the other sweeter than sunshine. As Madeline begins to experience the ways of the small, tight-knit town, she is drawn into the lives and dramas of its residents. It's a place where times are tough and debts run deep, but friendship, community, and compassion run deeper. As the story hurtles along-featuring a lost child, a dashed love, a car accident, a wedding, a fire, and a romantic reunion-Gladys, Arbutus, and the rest of the town teach Madeline more about life, love, and goodwill than she's learned in a lifetime. 

A heartwarming novel, South of Superior explores the deep reward in caring for others, and shows how one who is poor in pocket can be rich in so many other ways, and how little it often takes to make someone happy.

My thoughts:

I had high expectations for this book.  It takes place in Michigan, my home state, in the U.P..  It has eccentric characters, a run down hotel, and small town life. These are all things that for me are a great recipe for a book.  Unfortunately, this story was hard for me to get into and like.

I could not make myself care about any of the characters- actually, I take that back, I like Grayson, the little boy. And Arbutus. And the drunk guy with the beagle.  I did not like anyone else really.  The main character, Madeline, was too wrapped up in her own self-pity and anger and then alternately just plain boring most of the time; the love interest, or who I thought would be the love interest, Paul ended up falling for a druggie, neglectful mother who is way too young for him; and Gladys, well, she did have her moments where I liked her.  

The story kind of bumbled along, moving forward - I didn't think the story was really any good until I got to the last 1/3 of the book.  When Madeline started working on the hotel, moving into it, taking care of Grayson. I liked that then. The only negative in the end of the book was her relationship with Paul.  I didn't believe it as a reader, and it felt too neat, like the tying up of loose ends.

The sense of small town community was not there enough for me.  The depressed economy of Michigan, that was a great portrayal, especially in the upper peninsula, where things are even more difficult, from what I have read.  If Airgood did one good thing in this novel, it shows the perseverance of people when the chips are down, and how they take care of their neighbors, even if they don't necessarily like them.

This book was so-so to me, and I probably would not recommend it to many people.

The Devil You Know- Review

Title:  The Devil You Know
Author: Mike Carey
Source: my brother

Goodreads Summary:

Freelance exorcist Felix Castor had been happy to bid good riddance to his job, but now, needing cash, he agrees to cast out one last demon. He's eager to finish this ghost extraction as quickly as possible, but as menacing details keep popping up, Castor is dragged ever deeper into the realm of were-beings. Before long, he begins to suspect that he himself is the target of the entire operation. And that's only the beginning of the trouble .

My thoughts:

I loved the character Felix Castor.  He is the perfect mix of sarcastically witty, doggedly persistent, self-deprecating, and smart.  This is the first book in the series, and I also think this character has room to grow.  

I love a good ghost story - and this book delivered a great ghost story.   Felix is an exorcist, who plays a tune on his trusty tin whistle, a song for a ghost, one that captures and twists their existence into non-existence, like a pied piper of the spirit world.  I thought this was a neat way to have Felix perform his craft, without the traditional idea of exorcism.  We learn that Felix is an atheist, performing these exorcisms without the blessing of the church- therefore creating some questions about where they spirits go once Felix plays them into oblivion.  I am sure this theme will be popping up in the following books, since it is a question that Felix has as well.  

This is a world not just of ghosts, but of werecreatures and succubi.  Felix is nearly done in a few times by Juliet, an enchantingly beautiful succubus, who was instructed to kill him.  The end holds some surprising twists with this demon!  The wereanimals in this book are created by spirits invading the bodies of animals, and forcing them into bizarre creatures of their making.  Another creative twist by Carey. The world he has created is definitely new and different. And I like it.

This central plot of this book is fairly simple- Felix take a job he does not necessarily want, because he needs the money.  The job: Exorcise the ghost that is haunting an archive building.  This ghost speaks Russian and has even attacked one of the employees.  Felix is told by an old friend with an unfortunate problem, that he will die on this case.  And he very nearly does.  The mystery kept me guessing until the end, the whodunit and how why.  

This book is a fabulous supernatural mystery, and I think if you like that kind of thing, then this is a series for you.  I am definitely going to read the second in the series very soon.

Forever - A Review

Title:  Forever - the third book in the Wolves of Mercy Falls series
Author:  Maggie Stiefvater
Source:  Library

Goodreads Summary:

In Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver, Grace and Sam found each other. InLinger, they fought to be together. Now, in Forever, the stakes are even higher than before. Wolves are being hunted. Lives are being threatened. And love is harder and harder to hold on to as death comes closing in.

My thoughts:  

I loved this book.  It reads like a slow, gentle snowfall, thoughtful and quiet.  And lonely and melancholy in parts as well.  It is a love story, and I believed the love.  This book is not action packed, high paced with non-stop fight scenes; however, the suspense and waiting, waiting, waiting, creates enough anxiety that you don't need it.  I have to say I liked Cole and Isabel more than Sam and Grace, which is typical for me, liking the story lines of minor characters more than the main characters story. Sometimes I think that authors believe they can be more free with supporting characters, let them do things that the main characters can't, and then write them more interesting as a not-intended result.  I love the take on werewolves in this series; it is so different really, from what is out there.  

The so-called bad guy in the book, Tom Culpepper, I couldn't help feeling sorry for him in a way. His son was killed by wolves, I can see how in his anger and grief he would use his power to eradicate them from his landscape.  He is a sympathetic villain.  Or at least I think so.

I think these books are wonderful, gentle reads.  I think they should be read in the middle of winter, under a bunch of blankets and a cup of hot chocolate. 

The Sweep Series - A Review

Title:  Sweep Series 
Author:  Cate Tiernan
Source: Nook

I read this series back to back to back until I was finished; because I was sick and the books were very short, I finished the 15 book series in just a few days. My husband was kind enough to download them all to the Nook for me, so I could just keep reading.  Which is good, since they all end on a cliffhanger.

Morgan Rowlands led an ordinary teenage girl life, until her 16th year, when she learns a few things that change her world forever.  Cal is the new guy in town, who sets up his coven, which includes Morgan and her two friends.  Morgan soon learns that she is a powerful witch, and to be a witch, her parents must be witches too.  Except they aren't.  And either is her sister.  Pretty quickly Morgan learns she is adopted, and that her birth mother was murdered.  Her parents also forbid her from anything having to do with magic.  She also meets Hunter, a witch who is like a magic policeman, and travels around stopping witches from misusing magic.    

From this point on in the series, a ton happens; Morgan falls in love twice, is betrayed,  is almost murdered a few times, saves her town from a black wave, finds she has a half-brother, meets her birth father,  and finally, eventually, seems to have a happy ending.  I don't want to reveal too much, I don't want to give too much away, but I like the guy she ends up with much better than the first. The fifteenth book is weird, to be honest, and deals with an adult Morgan and her daughter.  I didn't care for it at all.  I didn't need a huge flash forward into Morgan's future. 

This series was a pretty easy read for me; it is Young Adult Fiction, but I went witch crazy in October, reading all kinds of witchy books.  I can see the right age group really enjoying these books; I know that if I had read them in middle school I would have loved them! They have an easy flow, a fun story line (what teenage girl doesn't want to find out she has supernatural powers and have two good-looking guys want to date her?), and they are relatively short.  I think this series is perfect for its intended audience.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

It's Monday, What Are You Reading?

It's Monday, What Are You Reading is a weekly blog meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey where you list the books you read last week and the ones you hope to read this week.

I am so far behind on reviews right now; I was sick all of October, and now I need to start playing catch up, on reviews and on reading!  

Currently Reading:

The Devil You Know by Mike Carey:  My brother loaned this to me, and told me to read it.  So I am.  I am enjoying it a great deal so far!

Four and Twenty Blackbirds by Cherie Priest:  I saw this at the library and thought it looked good. 

To Review:

The Sweep Series by Cate Tiernan ( I read these feverishly, literally, so I am reviewing them as a series) (review)
Forever by Maggie Stiefvater  (review)
The Gargoyle by   Andrew Davidson
Beautiful Darkness and Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl (review)
Waking the Witch by Kelley Armstrong
Frostbitten by Kelley Armstrong
South of Superior by Ellen Airgood (review)