Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Book Review #1463 The Grave Robber's Apprentice by Allan Stratton

Book Review #1463
The Grave Robber's Apprentice by Allan Stratton
Rating: one star (out of four)

Unfortunately, I was not impressed with this book at all. I've read other books by Stratton before and I really enjoyed them, but this book just didn't cut it for some reason. Even though it was clearly a juvenile novel, it still felt like it should have been marketed for an even younger audience. I thought the characters were flat and I wished I could have seen more maturity from the two children. The book was also fairly unsettling/creepy at times, but that didn't add up with the rest of the story and felt disjointed. I thought the plot was predictable as well. I almost didn't finish this book, but I figured since it was short I could read all the way through. But it was disappointing. Not something I'd recommend.

Book Trailer Tuesday! [28] The Dark by Lemony Snicket

This trailer is fantastic! It's a dynamic powerhouse of three of my favorite people! Lemony Snicket + Jon Klassen + Neil Gaiman = epic children's book. I also love the playful manner in which this story unfolds in the video...it's pretty entertaining and showcases Snicket's wit and Klassen's beautiful illustrations. The next time I'm at the library or bookstore I'm checking out THIS book.

Spring Fling Giveaway! Featuring 6 books as prizes!

I'm participating in the Spring Fling Giveaway Hop hosted by Eve's Fan Garden and I Am A Reader, Not A Writer.

Not only do you have a chance to win a free book, but you can choose between SIX BOOKS! 

This giveaway is from May 1st-7th, 2013 and is open to people living in the US. The winner has 5 days after receiving their email to respond back with their book selection and shipping address.

Your book selections....we've got everything from urban fantasy to contemporary to science fiction to historical fiction!

And now for some brief info about the books!

Meghan Chase has a secret destiny; one she could never have imagined.

Something has always felt slightly off in Meghan's life, ever since her father disappeared before her eyes when she was six. She has never quite fit in at school or at home.

When a dark stranger begins watching her from afar, and her prankster best friend becomes strangely protective of her, Meghan senses that everything she's known is about to change.

But she could never have guessed the truth - that she is the daughter of a mythical faery king and is a pawn in a deadly war. Now Meghan will learn just how far she'll go to save someone she cares about, to stop a mysterious evil no faery creature dare face; and to find love with a young prince who might rather see her dead than let her touch his icy heart.
Fierce, seductive mermaid Syrenka falls in love with Ezra, a young naturalist. When she abandons her life underwater for a chance at happiness on land, she is unaware that this decision comes with horrific and deadly consequences.

Almost one hundred forty years later, seventeen-year-old Hester meets a mysterious stranger named Ezra and feels overwhelmingly, inexplicably drawn to him. For generations, love has resulted in death for the women in her family. Is it an undiagnosed genetic defect . . . or a curse? With Ezra’s help, Hester investigates her family’s strange, sad history. The answers she seeks are waiting in the graveyard, the crypt, and at the bottom of the ocean—but powerful forces will do anything to keep her from uncovering her connection to Syrenka and to the tragedy of so long ago.
*Summary taken from Goodreads.

What if you were bound for a new world, about to pledge your life to someone you'd been promised to since birth, and one unexpected violent attack made survival—not love—the issue?

Out in the murky nebula lurks an unseen enemy: the New Horizon. On its way to populate a distant planet in the wake of Earth's collapse, the ship's crew has been unable to conceive a generation to continue its mission. They need young girls desperately, or their zealous leader's efforts will fail. Onboard their sister ship, the Empyrean, the unsuspecting families don't know an attack is being mounted that could claim the most important among them...Fifteen-year-old Waverly is part of the first generation to be successfully conceived in deep space; she was born on the Empyrean, and the large farming vessel is all she knows. Her concerns are those of any teenager—until Kieran Alden proposes to her. The handsome captain-to-be has everything Waverly could ever want in a husband, and with the pressure to start having children, everyone is sure he's the best choice. Except for Waverly, who wants more from life than marriage—and is secretly intrigued by the shy, darkly brilliant Seth.But when the Empyrean faces sudden attack by their assumed allies, they quickly find out that the enemies aren't all from the outside.

St. Petersburg, Russia, 1888. As she attends a whirl of glittering balls, royal debutante Katerina Alexandrovna, Duchess of Oldenburg, tries to hide a dark secret: she can raise the dead. No one knows. Not her family. Not the girls at her finishing school. Not the tsar or anyone in her aristocratic circle. Katerina considers her talent a curse, not a gift. But when she uses her special skill to protect a member of the Imperial Family, she finds herself caught in a web of intrigue.

An evil presence is growing within Europe's royal bloodlines—and those aligned with the darkness threaten to topple the tsar. Suddenly Katerina's strength as a necromancer attracts attention from unwelcome sources . . . including two young men—George Alexandrovich, the tsar's standoffish middle son, who needs Katerina's help to safeguard Russia, even if he's repelled by her secret, and the dashing Prince Danilo, heir to the throne of Montenegro, to whom Katerina feels inexplicably drawn.The time has come for Katerina to embrace her power, but which side will she choose—and to whom will she give her heart?
*Summary taken from Goodreads.

Emmeline Thistle, a dirt-scratcher's daughter, has escaped death twice-first, on the night she was born, and second, on the day her entire village was swept away by flood. Left with nothing and no one, Emmeline discovers her rare and mysterious ability-she can churn milk into chocolate, a delicacy more precious than gold.

Suddenly, the most unwanted girl in Anglund finds herself desired by all. But Emmeline only wants one-Owen Oak, a dairyman's son, whose slow smiles and lingering glances once tempted her to believe she might someday be loved for herself. But others will stop at nothing to use her gift for their own gains-no matter what the cost to Emmeline. Magic and romance entwine in this fantastical world where true love and chocolate conquer all.

From the author of Twenty Boy Summer, a teen pushes the limits to follow her dreams—and learns there’s a fine line between bitter and sweet....Once upon a time, Hudson knew exactly what her future looked like. Then a betrayal changed her life and knocked her dreams to the ground. Now she’s a girl who doesn’t believe in second chances, a girl who stays under the radar by baking cupcakes at her mom’s diner and obsessing over what might have been.

So when things start looking up and she has another shot at her dreams, Hudson is equal parts hopeful and terrified. Of course, this is also the moment a cute, sweet guy walks into her life—and starts serving up some seriously mixed signals. She’s got a lot on her plate, and for a girl who’s been burned before, risking it all is easier said than done.

It’s time for Hudson to ask herself what she really wants, and how much she’s willing to sacrifice to get it. Because in a place where opportunities are fleeting, she knows this chance may very well be her last...
*Summary taken from Goodreads.

Enter my rafflecopter below! Happy Reading!

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And if you want to get in on the other great giveaways on the blog hop - check out some of the links below!

Review #1462 A Kitten Tale by Eric Rohmann

Review #1462
A Kitten Tale by Eric Rohmann
Rating: two stars (out of four)

The kittens were cute and playful and the illustrations were stylized and sweet. I liked the repetition of the little kitten saying he couldn't wait, but it made me wonder why he was the only one out of his siblings who was excited. And how did they know what the snow was going to be like? I'm assuming that the unmentioned mother told them what to expect. Still, it was a fun book cat lovers will probably enjoy.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Book Review #1461 The Cinderella Deal by Jennifer Crusie

Book Review #1461
The Cinderella Deal by Jennifer Crusie
Rating: one star (out of four)

I will freely admit this is not the normal genre I read - but I was in a Category Fiction class and this was an assigned book. I liked the story, but there were definitely parts that felt disjointed or didn't add up. I didn't like the way they painted the Daisy in the beginning and how undesirable she was. And then when Linc decided he needed a fake wife she was suddenly a different person. That bothered me and felt very unrealistic. I was annoyed with how quickly she "changed."

Another thing that bothered me was how quickly Daisy adapted her life to suit Linc. Even though she kept talking about how independant and free-spirited she was, I couldn't really see her independence when she was so busy catering to her fake husband. It felt like a major breach of character for her.  She also seemed to be doing most of the compromising in their marriage. Linc definitely didn't seem to be doing his share. Linc needed to show that he was giving up stuff too, but he didn't seem to be and that made me feel for Daisy. I also thought the story was too "perfect" - it felt too good to be true and I found myself jolted out of the story every time I rolled my eyes (which was often).  This probably just goes to show that chick lit isn't my genre. Not a recommend.

Review #1460 Infinity and Me by Kate Hosford

Review #1460
Infinity and Me by Kate Hosford, illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska
Rating: two stars (out of four)

The illustrations were bizarre. I wasn't sure I liked them at all. They were weird, a mixture of gothic, victorian, and abstract. But while I did like a couple of the pages, for the most part I thought the rest were strange. I mean, the pictures were certainly unique, but I didn't feel as if that was a good thing, and it didn't really feel like a children's book. The story was interesting and I can imagine children having these sorts of questions, but I would have liked them to be handled in a better manner. Not something I'd recommend.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Book Review #1459 Empire by Michael R. Hicks

Book Review #1459
Empire: In Her Name: Redemption by Michael R. Hicks
Rating: zero stars (out of four)

Oh dear, oh dear. Where to start? Let's just say that it's one thing to read a book alone and have problems, but when you read it as a class and then discuss it....well, things can get dicey. Not that I'm saying this book didn't deserve it, but it made for a very heated discussion. 

This book, unfortunately, is one of those self-published books that lives up to the negative stigma. There were parts that did not make sense and there were lots of holes in the plot. I didn't understand Hicks' use of characterization and some of the actions were misguided or disjointed. I had a hard time following what was going on. The whole story was very bizarre and needed to be polished. This book could have profited from a good EDITOR. Sentences were mishmashed and confusing. The first sentence in the book was a complete mess. Their were gramattical errors throughout the entire novel and the author could have used a conceptual editor as well to make sure their story made sense. I really don't like being too harsh in my reviews, but I really can't think of any redeeming parts for Empire.

Review #1458 One Cool Friend by Ton Buzzeo

Review #1458
One Cool Friend by Ton Buzzeo, illustrated by David Small
Rating: two stars (out of four)

I liked the idea of this story. I mean, who wouldn't want to have a penguin for a friend? It was also amusing how the father and son were communicating but not communicating at the same time. it was kind of crazy that the little boy could just up and take a penguin home. I was afraid he was going to give the penguin back or have it taken away from him. Part of me was battling with the whole idea of a penguin living in a house, but I also didn't want the boy to lose his new friend.  It was also pretty amusing to see the stuff the boy and the penguin did together. It had a happy ending and I enjoyed seeing the tables turned.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Book Review #1457 The Midnight Palace by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Book Review #1457
The Midnight Palace by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Rating: one star (out of four)

I read this for my Category Fiction class. My main complaint was this: too many characters. It was impossible to keep track of all of them. I'm not sure why this book has gotten so much acclaim, it seemed to have a lot of jarring elements that made it a fairly unpleasant read for me. It was very dark and creepy, but it wasn't done in such a way that I liked or made sense. There were some problems with structure as well, some elements of the story didn't make sense where they were placed.

The character jumping was annoying and even though it made it seemingly more thrilling by being able to jump from one set of individuals to the other, I found it disjointed and tedious. I never felt like I had a firm grasp on any of the characters' personalities and I thought the author should have cut the characters in half and worked on developing those. Instead I was annoyed. There were also a lot of loose ends that never seemed to be wrapped up. There might have been some things lost in translation, but on the whole, I did not enjoy the story. Not a book I'd recommend at all.

Review #1456 Clara and Asha by Eric Rohmann

Review #1456
Clara and Asha by Eric Rohmann
Rating: two stars (out of four)

A very whimsical and imaginative story of a little girl's adventures when she is supposed to be asleep. It kind of reminded me a bit of Peter Pan except there was a giant fish whisking away the girl into the night sky. But it was a sweet story of friendship and how a girl could soar across the night sky in her imagination. The ending was pretty amusing as well. I especially liked the illustrations and felt like they added to the story and made it fun. I'd probably recommend.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Book Review #1455 The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum

Book Review #1455
The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum
Rating: two stars (out of four)

I had held off on seeing the movies because I heard there were books. And I always try to read the books before I see the movies. I’m not much of a thriller fan. Though I do read some pretty thrilling suspense novels now and then and enjoy them. But it’s not something I actively seek out. We read this for my Category Fiction class and analyzed its writing and format to see why it was popular and successful. This novel felt very literary and also very commercial. It was an interesting mixture.

There was a lot of mystery shrouded throughout the novel and you were constantly picking through the information to see what was true and what was not true. It was definitely something that stretched your mind while still being a fast-paced story. But I thought it was too much information to shift through. I was tired of trying to figure stuff out and I wished it was more straightforward in approach. Some of the clues weren’t very helpful and often made me confused instead of providing answers.

I found some of the repetition annoying and tedious. I get that Bourne is suffering from amnesia, but I didn’t like how often he repeated his mantra. This novel just didn’t appeal to me as much as it did for my classmates. And I wasn’t sure why it’s such a popular series. I watched the first Bourne movie and I didn’t really like that version either. So maybe it was the main storyline that didn’t appeal to me. A disappointment. 

Review #1454 Bumble-ardy by Maurice Sendak

Review #1454
Bumble-ardy by Maurice Sendak
Rating: one star (out of four)

Uh, this book was very strange. I'm not sure I got the point of it. I didn't understand why the Aunt so easily forgave the little pig for throwing such a mess. I also didn't understand the rhyme scheme much either. It was a very bizarre book. The pictures weren't very likable either. The pigs were strangely dressed and some of the pictures were crowded/messy and I didn't like that either. The story was cumbersome. I would not recommend. It was not a good Sendak book.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Book Review #1453 Demolition Angel by Robert Crais

Book Review #1453
Demolition Angel by Robert Crais
Rating: two stars (out of four)

I read this for my Category Fiction class in graduate school. It was interesting to examine this thriller from a writer’s perspective and see how the author planted pieces of information throughout. Crais also did a good job of keeping the novel suspenseful by always keeping the villain in readers’ minds without actually having him present. And it was definitely good at drawing readers into the story and leaving them guessing. It was by far the most exciting story we read for this class. And one of the few that I actually enjoyed.

Though some of the suspense was a little much for me in that it was always so continuous and reading it was almost on the verge of being uncomfortable. I sped through it in a short amount of time because I really wanted to see how everything ended. Though I did think the very end was a bit of a letdown after all of the suspense. It resolved far too quickly. Drama = drama = drama = drama = oh, things are fine now. Eh, not so much. Still, even though I enjoyed this novel and thought it was well-written, it’s not something I’d particularly recommend and I’m not going to seek out more books by this author. It was a nice foray into the adult fiction world, but I’m much happier in YA.

Review #1452 The Beetle Book by Steve Jenkins

Review #1452
The Beetle Book by Steve Jenkins
Rating: two stars (out of four)

This book was filled with beetles in all shapes and sizes. It was a pretty good overview of the different types, what they did, and how they functioned. The author was very specific about letting readers know when a beetle was the size portrayed or actually larger or smaller than depicted and that was really helpful. There were black silhouettes throughout the book that showcased the actual sizes of various beetles. In the back there was an index of all the beetles by latin name with page numbers in case you were looking for a specific type. I can easily see someone who loves bettles obsessing over this book. On my part though, I'm not a beetle person. In fact, I'm not a bug person, really. Most things catergorized as creepy and crawly I tend to give a wide birth. Still, this book did a good job of laying out the facts and it was presented in a colorful, informative, and dynamic way. The illustrations were quite impressive. I'd recommend for people who love beetles or love soaking up information about the animal world. It's not a book I'd visit again, but I can see others wearing the pages thin.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Review #1451 The Only Ones by Aaron Starmer

Book Review #1451
The Only Ones by Aaron Starmer
Rating: one star (out of four)

Very bizarre. I loved the cover. It was haunting and intense. The initial reading of the premise from the back cover got me excited because it sounded like it was right up my alley. (Hello lost society and mysterious machines), but the story didn't live up to its potential. I was a little bit confused throughout the story because I couldn't figure out where it was going. But I was patient and willing to believe everything would be wrapped up in the end. I mean, it could have just been one of those books where all the threads are scattered through the story and it's only at the very end you realize how everything was tied together. This, however, was not like that. I never got an exact sense of what sort of book it was trying to be. I felt like it was straddling a few different styles and I so badly wanted to like it, but I just couldn't. The ending was unsatisfying and I felt sorry for some of the characters. I didn't understand the purpose. When everything had been said and done I was still sitting there trying to make sense of the story. Not something I'd recommend.

Review #1450 House Held up by Trees by Ted Kooser

Review #1450
House Held up by Trees by Ted Kooser, illustrated by Jon Klassen
Rating: three stars (out of four)

Wow, a book with the lyrical prose of Kooser and the gorgeous paintings of Klassen? What a dynamic duo! I've loved Kooser's poetry for a while now, so when I saw this book, I snatched it right up! Kooser has such a way with words that makes me stop and look at the world through another lens. This story was nicely developed. It gave me a couple of sad pangs while reading, but didn't make me cry and it did have a fairly happy ending. The illustrations were beautiful. I'm a new and growing fan of Klassen's illustrations. The pictures were rustic without being clunky or messy and still had all the personality and spunk of bright colors. I loved the muted tones. I'd especially recommend for people who like stories about trees, family, or poetry. But really, everyone should read this book!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Review #1449 Oh, No! by Candace Fleming

Review #1449
Oh, No! by Candace Fleming, illustrated by Eric Rohmann
Rating: four stars (out of four)

Loved, loved, loved the illustrations. They were gorgeous! The message of the book was pretty sneaky and sweet too. I was caught up in the drama of the poor animals as one by one they fell into the hole - I wondered how things were going to work out. I especially loved the rhythm and cadence of the text - it had this lyrical quality and made the story come alive. Coupled with the amazing illustrations, it was a winner of a book. I could see this as Caldecott material. I also loved how they used different animals than what you normally see. They weren't common animals, but animals actually found in the region of the story. That was a realistic touch. The ending was great. I worried the animals would relent, but I was laughing at the last words of the book. Perfect! I liked how that short phrase "Oh, No!" was ascribed different meanings as the course of the story played through. The back flap hinted at what happened to the tiger (in case any readers were worried). Definitely a book to recommend!

Showers of Books Giveaway! [2013]

I'm participating in the Showers of Books Giveaway hosted by Books a la Mode and I Am A Reader, Not A Writer.

Not only do you have a chance to win a free book, but you can choose between THREE! 

This giveaway is from April 24th to April 30th, 2013 and is open to people living in the US. The winner has 5 days after receiving their email to respond back with their book selection and shipping address.

And now for your book selections....

Book #1

Legend by Marie Lu

What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths—until the day June’s brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias’s death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.Full of nonstop action, suspense, and romance, this novel is sure to move readers as much as it thrills.

Book #2

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty's anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.

Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen's Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.

In her exquisitely written fantasy debut, Rachel Hartman creates a rich, complex, and utterly original world. Seraphina's tortuous journey to self-acceptance is one readers will remember long after they've turned the final page.

Book #3

Awake at Dawn by C. C. Hunter
Sequel to Born at Midnight.

Step into the world of Shadow Falls, a camp that helps teens tap into their special…talents. Once you visit, you’ll never forget it—and you’ll never, ever be the same.

From the moment Kylie Galen arrived at Shadow Falls Camp, she’s had one burning question: What am I? Surrounded by vampires, werewolves, shape-shifters, fairies and witches, Kylie longs to figure out her own supernatural identity…and what her burgeoning powers mean. And now she’ll need them more than ever, because she’s being haunted by a new spirit who insists that someone Kylie knows—and loves—will die before the end of the summer. If only she only knew who she was supposed to save. And how…

But giving Kylie the most trouble is her aching heart. Gorgeous werewolf Lucas left camp with another girl, but he’s still visiting Kylie in her dreams. And Derek, a sexy half Fae who’s always been there for her when she needed him, is pushing to get more serious—and growing impatient, especially when Lucas returns. Kylie knows she needs to decide between the boys, and it’s tearing her up inside.

Yet romance will have to wait, because something from the dark side of the supernatural world is hiding in Shadow Falls. It’s about to threaten everything she holds dear…and bring her closer to her destiny.

*Summary taken from Goodreads.

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Monday, April 22, 2013

Review #1448 Pandemonium by Chris Wooding

Book Review #1448
Pandemonium by Chris Wooding and Cassandra Diaz
Rating: one star (out of four)

I was not a fan of this story. Now, I'm not a big manga/anime/comic book reader, but I'm usually pretty excited to come across one (though I might not intentionally seek one out unless it was written by a particular favorite author, Shannon Hale's Rapunzel's Revenge is a good example.) Bu still, I started this book with an open mind. The characters fell flat and I had a had time following the story. There were segments throughout the story where I felt like I had missed something, almost as if pages had been torn out. The plot seemed weak and I didn't really have any vested interest in what would happen in the story. Maybe it just wasn't my type, but I didn't enjoy it at all. The illustrations didn't do much for me either. I wouldn't recommend.

Book Review #1447 Spells by Emily Gravett

Book Review #1447
Spells by Emily Gravett
Rating: two stars (out of four)

This was a pretty entertaining book. The illustrations were amusing and I liked the middle section where readers could create many different creatures by turning the pages any which way. I thought the story was pretty humorous, even if the ending was a little sad...but the book mostly took that turn for laughs, so it was all good. It’s a fun take on spells. I'd recommend for fans of wacky fairy tale renditions in picture-book form.