Sunday, December 30, 2012

It's Monday, What are you reading?

I'm starting this post early, because if I don't write things down I forget about them!  That way I have a place to record what I finished reading and then the night I get the post ready I can add the rest.  I am really enjoying my new Kindle.  I was definitely not happy about needing to get a new one since the old one was broken, but the new one has some features I am really enjoying.  I love how the bottom right corner of the screen tells me the percentage of the book I have finished and that it is always down there in the corner.  I have picked up a number of Kindle Daily Deals the past few weeks too, but since I am notorious for not getting around to books for long stretches I am not going to bother to list them!  Here is my week:

Free Four:  Tobias Tells the Divergent Knife Throwing Scene by Veronica Roth
Under the Never Sky by Veroncia Rossi
finale by Becca Fitzpatrick
Mermaid:  A Twist on the Classic Tale by Carolyn Turgeon
Roar and Live:  Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

Still Reading:
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
Let's Pretend this Didn't Happen:  A Mostly True Memoir

A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire #1) by George R. R. Martin

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

The first volume of A Song of Ice and Fire, the greatest fantasy epic of the modern age. GAME OF THRONES is now a major TV series from HBO, starring Sean Bean.Summers span decades. Winter can last a lifetime. And the struggle for the Iron Throne has begun.As Warden of the north, Lord Eddard Stark counts it a curse when King Robert bestows on him the office of the Hand. His honour weighs him down at court where a true man does what he will, not what he must … and a dead enemy is a thing of beauty.The old gods have no power in the south, Stark’s family is split and there is treachery at court. Worse, the vengeance-mad heir of the deposed Dragon King has grown to maturity in exile in the Free Cities. He claims the Iron Throne.

My thoughts:
I bought the boxed set over a year ago and never got around to reading any of them.  My husband read the whole series and kept urging me to pick them up but, I will admit it, I was scared off by the length.  Don't get me wrong, I read long books all the time, but I wasn't totally convinced that this series was for me and it was hard to get myself to commit to that many pages!  Also, we had already watched Season 1 of the HBO series so I didn't feel all that much pressure to read it as I knew how it had been acted out on screen, even though I  know things are often changed from book to screen.

I finally decided to try it as an audio book.  It took me awhile, but I finished listening to the audio version a couple of weeks ago.  From what I can recall of the series I think they did a very good job adapting it for the screen.  They stayed true to very much of the book.  The biggest difference I noticed was the ages of the characters versus the actors that were chosen to play them on screen.  Most of the major younger character were much younger in the book than what they appeared to be onscreen.  I do think it might have been hard for viewers to see Rob and Daenerys as preteens or young teens versus the older teen to young twenties they appear in the show.  Jon going to the serve the Black Watch before he turns fifteen might have seemed more barbaric.

Another thing I wondered about was the need for odd sounding names.  While some of the characters have common names, many of them have names that are almost common but not quite.  For example Eddard instead of Edward and Catelyn who is known as Cat not Cate.  I think when I watched the show I sort of changed the names around in my head so they sounded more like what I am used to.

I am torn now as to book two.  Will I try to read it when my bedside stack gets smaller or should I check the library for the audio version again and listen to it?  I enjoyed this one, but it was a time commitment even to listen to it and I am not in a hurry to undertake the next one just yet.

Product Details

Meet the Author

George R.R. Martin
George R R Martin's bestselling A Song of Ice and Fire fantasy series has earned him the title of 'the American Tolkien'. The first book of the series has been made into a HBO TV adaptation, A Game of Thrones. He is the author of eight novels, several collections of short stories and numerous screenplays for television drama and feature films. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Free Book!

Free Book!

I know of a lot of people who got Kindles for Christmas and I am loving how many Daily Deals Amazon is offering this week.  I decided to celebrate the new year by making the book I published as a Kindle e-book free again.  For anyone who decides to read it, I'd love feedback, good or bad, to help guide me with writing in the future!  Click the link above to get to it.  It is free for a few more days.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Saturday Snapshot! A Very Furry Christmas

Earlier this month, or maybe last month, Sesame Place was running an offer on Groupon.  It is only about an hour and half from us but we've never been there.  We decided to give it a try this year.  Instead of Santa they had photo ops with Cookie Monster dressed as Santa.

The big hit were the climbing nets that were on lots of different levels with a whole bunch of tunnels.  They are harder than they look!

We watched one show with six different characters singing and dancing and also watched the Christmas Parade that drives down the street that looks just like Sesame Street from the TV show.

It was a little disconcerting to be able to see through the nets all the way to the ground, but the kids didn't seem to mind it at all.

Here you can see the ground down below us and some of the other attractions.

Iced (Dani O'Malley Series #1) by Karen Marie Moning

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

Dani “Mega” O’Malley plays by her own set of rules — and in a world overrun by Dark Fae, her biggest rule is: Do what it takes to survive. Possessing rare talents and the all-powerful Sword of Light, Dani is more than equipped for the task. In fact, she’s one of the few humans who can defend themselves against the Unseelie. But now, amid the pandemonium, her greatest gifts have turned into serious liabilities.
Dani’s ex–best friend, MacKayla Lane, wants her dead, the terrifying Unseelie princes have put a price on her head, and Inspector Jayne, the head of the police force, is after her sword and will stop at nothing to get it. What’s more, people are being mysteriously frozen to death all over the city, encased on the spot in sub-zero, icy tableaux.
When Dublin’s most seductive nightclub gets blanketed in hoarfrost, Dani finds herself at the mercy of Ryodan, the club’s ruthless, immortal owner. He needs her quick wit and exceptional skill to figure out what’s freezing Fae and humans dead in their tracks — and Ryodan will do anything to ensure her compliance.
Dodging bullets, fangs, and fists, Dani must strike treacherous bargains and make desperate alliances to save her beloved Dublin — before everything and everyone in it gets iced.

My thoughts:
Somehow I missed a lot of the hype surrounding this book.  I think I thought when the Fever series ended that Moning was done with this world of Dark and Light Fae and the missing walls that kept them separate from our human society.  Thinking back I know I did see an interview saying that the MacKelters were going to be crossing over more with the storyline, but I thought that sending Christian into the Silvers and performing the Druid rituals to keep the walls closed were the end of it.  Therefore I was happy to get a chance to visit this world again.

I always liked Dani and wondered a bit about what made her tick.  I did find myself missing Mac a bit, wondering what she was thinking and doing and if she really did hate Dani after finding out that she was responsible for the murder of her sister or if that was all in Dani's head, if she had blown things out of proportion.  I  kept waiting for a showdown between the two of them to see if her fear was true or not.

You can tell that Dani is young in her thinking, even though she is gifted with special powers and is a deadly hunter, she misses a lot of what is going on around her.  I did not like the way both Ryodan and Christian treated her like she belonged to them and how they cast her in such a sexual light.  Yes the world is a whole new and pretty horrible place, and Dani never had the type of childhood one would have wished for her, but it felt wrong and creepy sometimes when the two older men were with her.  Christian and all his thoughts about waiting for her to be old enough just felt a bit icky, but I think it was also meant to show us how much the Unseelie part of him is taking over, how hard he has to work to maintain any of his humanity underneath the changing skin and eyes and more.  Who would we be underneath without society and its constraints to keep us in contact with our conscience?  How much harder would it be to maintain acceptable conventions if half of you had a whole different sent of beliefs?

I must admit, I miss Christian as he was before he was lost in the Silvers and saved by eating Unseelie flesh.  I was hoping he would  be like his uncles and that he might even spin off into his own storyline more similar to the Highlander stories Moning started with.  Don't get me wrong, I enjoy these, but those beginning books still hold a place in my heart as some of my favorites!

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385344401
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/30/2012
  • Pages: 512
  • Sales rank: 10,089
  • Series:Dani O'Malley Series , #1

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Reached (Matched Trilogy Series #3) by Ally Condie

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

Cassia’s journey began with an error, a momentary glitch in the otherwise perfect faƧade of the Society. After crossing canyons to break free, she waits, silk and paper smuggled against her skin, ready for the final chapter.
The wait is over.
One young woman has raged against those who threaten to keep away what matters most—family, love, choice. Her quiet revolution is about to explode into full-scale rebellion.
With exquisite prose, the emotionally gripping conclusion to the international–bestselling Matched trilogy returns Cassia, Ky, and Xander to the Society to save the one thing they have been denied for so long, the power to choose.

My thoughts:
I had really been looking forward to the conclusion of this series.  I wanted to see how things played out.  Would Ky and Cassia run from society?  Was there any chance that Cassia might chose Xander instead of Ky?  How was working for the Rising going to work out for them?  How were they going to be used and for what purposes?  Where was Indie going to fit and and would they find their families?

The chapters alternated between Cassia, Xander and Ky so that the story was told from all of their points of view, but I think I was most focused on Cassia's life and how the other two were playing into hers.  For a large part of the book all three of them are kept apart, by being in different places and districts and they do not have the opportunity to communicate.  Even though the Rising manages to take the Society over, things do not change very much and secrecy is still the norm.

Something that struck me the most was, after the changeover when Cassia manages to organize a Gallery outside on unused barriers for people to showcase the art work they have created on their own.  After years and years of being told that no one could ever do anything new again, that everything creative had already been done and there was nothing to be gained by them recreating the same things over and over again people are finally being give the chance to make things and write things and sing things and many of them jump at the chance to gather and showcase their work.  The coming together once they have the choice and the opportunity shows that even though their creativity has been suppressed all this time, it was always there.  It didn't matter to them if they were doing something that had already been done before or had been done better, it mattered they they were able to do it themselves and to find enjoyment in doing it.

Another large issue in the book were the plagues. For many years the Society was using the water of their enemy to poison them, having created a cure for the plague fore themselves, but releasing something like that out into the environment was riskier than they anticipated and the repercussions of it was much more than they predicted.  We do this all the time, let substances go into the ground or into groundwater without having a clear understanding of what might happen down the line which we see again and again.

I wasn't sure how I would feel about the end of the series, but I was satisfied with the ending and the way it wrapped things up.  It wasn't all tied up with a pretty bow, but you can see the direction the three of them are moving in and their society as a whole and hope that things are track for a better future for all.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780525423669
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 11/13/2012
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 124
  • Age range: 14 - 17 Years
  • Series:Matched Trilogy Series , #3

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Crossed (Matched Trilogy Series #2) by Ally Condi

From Barnes & Noble
"I couldn't change myself. This epiphany led me to the realization that I didn't love easily, but when I did, I loved with all of myself and I loved completely." The lynchpin novel of Ally Condie's Matched trilogy finds Cassia in the dangerous Outer Provinces in full pursuit of her beloved Ky. Fortunately, he is at least temporarily safe, but rapidly evolving developments offer her little opportunity for tranquility. With each passing event, threats and potential betrayals seem closer; unless Ally acts, her future will be forever locked closed.

My thoughts:
Cassia has managed to get herself assigned to a work detail nearer to where Ky is in her quest to get to him.  The chapters still alternate between Cassia, Xander and Ky, tracking where they are and what they are doing.  Xander gets less of a focus in this book than in the other two, as we are most focused on Cassia's plan to find Ky. 

In this book we get to find out a bit more about how the Society works, how the red, blue and green pill tablets work and what is beyond the walls of the Society.  Cassia is torn between Xander, her best friend from childhood and her Match for marriage by the Society and Ky, a boy who moved into their district as a child to take the place of his cousin who died in an attack from an Aberration but who is classed as an Anomaly due to actions made by his parents and will never be given a Match or a high job in Society.  In the first book Cassia and Xander went to their Matching ceremony and were given each other as Matches, but when Cassia later views her microcard both Xander and Ky show up on it causing her to wonder about them both.  For years she has chafed a bit at the rules placed upon them by society and now she does so even more.  Especially after Ky is taken away.

Working in the work camps is a punishment for infractions and comes with the likely penalty that one will die before making it back into society.  Cassia takes this risk to find Ky and ends up on  a journey through  the desert away from all she has ever known and finding out more about the Pilot she has heard whispers of for years.

In the desert she learns about people who have lived outside of society and how they have survived and lived.  She meets people who lived in different districts and finds out about thwarted love, sees firsthand the destruction the Society deals out to both human and natural elements who live outside their walls, and finds out that there is a Rising movement who wants to take over .  Again Cassia is torn between people and actions.  This books sets things up very well for the last installment in the series.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780142421710
  • Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
  • Publication date: 3/12/2013
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 135,551
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Series:Matched Trilogy Series , #2

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Notorious Nineteen: Stephanie Plum Series, Book 19 by Janet Evanovich

Overview from Barnes and Noble:
New Jersey bounty hunter Stephanie Plum is certain of three truths: People don’t just vanish into thin air. Never anger old people. And don’t do what Tiki tells you to do.

After a slow summer of chasing low-level skips for her cousin Vinnie’s bail bonds agency, Stephanie Plum finally lands an assignment that could put her checkbook back in the black. Geoffrey Cubbin, facing trial for embezzling millions from Trenton’s premier assisted-living facility, has mysteriously vanished from the hospital after an emergency appendectomy. Now it’s on Stephanie to track down the con man. Unfortunately, Cubbin has disappeared without a trace, a witness, or his money-hungry wife. Rumors are stirring that he must have had help with the daring escape . . . or that maybe he never made it out of his room alive. Since the hospital staff’s lips seem to be tighter than the security, and it’s hard for Stephanie to blend in to assisted living, Stephanie’s Grandma Mazur goes in undercover. But when a second felon goes missing from the same hospital, Stephanie is forced into working side by side with Trenton’s hottest cop, Joe Morelli, in order to crack the case.

The real problem is, no Cubbin also means no way to pay the rent. Desperate for money—or maybe just desperate—Stephanie accepts a secondary job guarding her secretive and mouthwatering mentor Ranger from a deadly Special Forces adversary. While Stephanie is notorious for finding trouble, she may have found a little more than she bargained for this time around. Then again—a little food poisoning, some threatening notes, and a bridesmaid’s dress with an excess of taffeta never killed anyone . . . or did they? If Stephanie Plum wants to bring in a paycheck, she’ll have to remember: No guts, no glory. . . .

My thoughts:
Another fun book where whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.  In one of my past reviews for this series I recall questioning how many times one character can have her car blown up and why someone would stick with a line of work that they simply weren't any good at, but I am past that.  These books are fun without being serious.  I always laugh a few times and I know which one of her two love interests I would pick.  The problem is that, were she to actually pick one of them for good, that whole element of the storyline would be gone and I know I would end up missing it.

This book has all the elements I was looking for in a Plum novel.  There were the crazy characters who say and do odd things, at least one blown up car, donuts and fried chicken are consumed, Lula goes on a diet, Stephanie's dad focuses on his good and her mom on her "iced tea" and Grandma sticks her nose into everyone's business.  It was fun, it was fast and it was funny.  That is what I look for in a Stephanie Plum book!

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345527745
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 11/20/2012
  • Pages: 320

Sunday, December 23, 2012

It's Monday, What are you reading?

This week I actually had a good reading week, which surprises me because I stayed up late wrapping all of the presents one night and spent time watching Christmas movies with the kids, planning and getting ready for Christmas activities at school and shopping.  I started listening to audio again, which I've been neglecting the last few weeks and made time to sit and read.  My new Kindle came in the mail and I've had fun reading on it again too.  Here is my week:

 I finished reading:
Reached by Ally Condi
Legend by Marie Lui
Notorious Nineteen by Janet Evanovich

Paused reading:
The Shoemaker's Wife by Adrianna Trigiani(audio) my loan expired so I will have to check it out again sometime and finish it
Eragon (car audio with the kids, library)  had to be returned to the library .  I have a feeling we will check it out again sometime, but they are into other books right now so when it was due we just returned it
Jane Eyre (this one I paused awhile ago, it is on my iPod so at some point I am sure I will finish it, but the narator is still an issue for me
Web of Lies by Jennifer Estep- I set this one aside to read ones that were due at the library, but I will get back to it
Mermaid (ebook, library) My loan expired so I'll have to get it again at some point
Wild Ride by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer

Still actively reading:
Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

Friday, December 21, 2012

Rapture by Lauren Kate

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

The sky is dark with wings. . . . In RAPTURE, the highly anticipated fourth and final novel in the FALLEN series, Luce and Daniel are together . . . but for how long? Can history be rewritten? Or are some punishments eternal?

My thoughts:
When I started reading this book I didn't realize it was the last book in the series.  You can sense though that something has changed just from the cover.  On all the other books the girl on the cover is wearing a black dress, but this time she is in white.  Many changes are at hand.  Luce and Daniel have returned through the Announcer but now they and the other six fallen angels and demons only have nine days to find the three relics and the site of the fall to rescue all the angels who were sucked into an announcer when Lucifer went back to the fall and caught them in the sky.  If they are allowed to complete their nine day fall, history will be rewritten and they will no longer be who they are today and where they are today.  Using the book Daniel wrote years ago that Gabbe had published, which Luce found in the Sword and Cross Library in the first book and showed her in another lifetime on the first page, the group breaks into three groups going to the three places where they believe the relics are held.  Along the way they meet up with the Outcasts and form an alliance with them.

Luce and Daniel go to find the halo in Venice.  Arriane, Annabel and Roland go to Vienna looking for the something called the desired thing which no one is clear about only that it is in a library.  Meanwhile Cam, Gabbe and Molly go to Avignon looking for a chalice.  Each of these items is said to be inscribed with the history of the angels and their fall and, if put together in the right place and the right circumstances, will tell them where they fell.  Along the way they appreciate the help of the Outcasts, have to fight off the Scale who are angels who stayed with the Throne and think highly of themselves while being ruthless in their pursuit of justice, and also run in with the trans eternal elders again.  None of the missions go smoothly, help is needed from all and great losses occur.

While on this journey  Luce keeps getting flashes from the past.  She can remember previous lifetimes unassisted and keeps circling closer and closer to the reason for the curse and the reason why the angels and demons are all there to help her and Daniel on this quest, but it stays out of reach for a very long time.  I was relieved when the truth came out, when she faced it and when the consequences and reactions to all that had happened played out in the present.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385739184
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 6/12/2012
  • Pages: 464
  • Sales rank: 964
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Series:Lauren Kate's Fallen Series , #4

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Passion by Lauren Kate

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

Luce would die for Daniel.
And she has. Over and over again. Throughout time, Luce and Daniel have found each other, only to be painfully torn apart: Luce dead, Daniel left broken and alone. But perhaps it doesn’t need to be that way. . . .
Luce is certain that something—or someone—in a past life can help her in her present one. So she begins the most important journey of this lifetime . . . going back eternities to witness firsthand her romances with Daniel . . . and finally unlock the key to making their love last.
Cam and the legions of angels and Outcasts are desperate to catch Luce, but none are as frantic as Daniel. He chases Luce through their shared pasts, terrified of what might happen if she rewrites history.
Because their romance for the ages could go up in flames . . . forever.
Sweeping across centuries, PASSION is the third novel in the unforgettably epic FALLEN series.

My thoughts:
Daniel brings Luce home to her parents to celebrate Thanksgiving, but when her parents for their after dinner walk, and Luce, her angel friends, her demon friends, two of her Nephilim friends and her best friend from her first boarding school are trying to clean up the blind Outcasts came to take her away.  Instead of going with them or risking them killing any of her friends, she opens an Announcer and travels to her past to see all the details she can't recall of the lives she and Daniel  have shared.  She sees herself in England going up in flames and in Egypt and in China.  She watches both the falling in love of herself and the current manifestation of Daniel, to the demise when she goes up in flames, to the aftermath for all the people who loved her before she died.  She sees Daniel and how he deals with her death and how much it tears him apart each time he loses her.  Each past self teaches her something, but none of them seem to put the whole story together of the why she goes up in flames.  Sometimes it is their first kiss, sometimes they have done more than kiss, sometimes they haven't even touched yet.  Something happens each and every time, but she is still missing an integral piece of the puzzle.

As she travels from Announcer to Announcer and goes further and further into her past she picks up a Gargoyle named Bill who says he is there to help her.  He never lets himself be seen by the angels in any of the lifetimes, but he pulls strings and makes it so she can safely live in each of the times for either a few moments or for days.  Something about him feels wrong, but she is so glad to have someone with her on this journey that she doesn't always see or feel the discrepancy.  He tells her the way to solve her current problem is to kill her soul so she can go back to Daniel in her present and she will be safe. 

Daniel meanwhile is racing after her, always arriving just a little bit too late, but also seeing their shared past from a new perspective.  Sometimes he visits his old self, sometimes he does not, but he does take the time to visit the gathering in Heaven when the angels were told they needed to chose a side, either that of Lucifer or that of the Throne and he tells both his old self and all the angels something they need to hear.

Bill has his day towards the end and things are all set up for book four, the final book in the series.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385739160
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 6/14/2011
  • Pages: 432
  • Sales rank: 20,368
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years                          
  • Series:Lauren Kate's Fallen Series , #3

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Torment by Lauren Kate

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

Hell on earth.
That’s what it’s like for Luce to be apart from her fallen angel boyfriend, Daniel.
It took them an eternity to find one another, but now he has told her he must go away. Just long enough to hunt down the Outcasts—immortals who want to kill Luce. Daniel hides Luce at Shoreline, a school on the rocky California coast with unusually gifted students: Nephilim, the offspring of fallen angels and humans.
At Shoreline, Luce learns what the Shadows are, and how she can use them as windows to her previous lives. Yet the more Luce learns, the more she suspects that Daniel hasn’t told her everything. He’s hiding something—something dangerous.
What if Daniel’s version of the past isn’t actually true? What if Luce is really meant to be with someone else?

The second novel in the addictive FALLEN series . . . where love never dies.

My thoughts:
In the second book of the Fallen series Daniel sparks even more questions.  He tells Luce that she must hide at Shoreline, a boarding school on the opposite coast where she will be safe if she stays at the school.  But  he doesn't elaborate on what she needs to stay safe from.  He visits a few times over the course of the few weeks she needs to be there, but things are always tense and she feels as though he is leaving her out of the loop, keeping details to himself.  She chafes under the pressure to stay put.

This time her fellow students are all Nephilim, the children or descendants of children born of fallen angel and human unions.  Many of them have special skills, but Luce doesn't know why she is there.  Her parents are humans and she does not have any of their skills.  But she can see the shadows known as Announcers that humans cannot.  In the first book Miss Sophia, an elder who is trans eternal, wanted to kill her but she never knew why.  Now she has to worry about Outcasts, who are blind fallen angels who want to kill her, but again she doesn't know why.  Her classes are all taught by Steven, a demon or angel who sided with Lucifer at the time of the fall, and Francesca, an angel who sided with the Throne.  They are counterparts and cover the skills and history the Nephilim need to know for what is coming.  They show how Announcers hold the memories of past events of certain people or angels.

Luce starts to experiment with using the Announcers to see her past and the past lives she has shared with Daniel due to their curse.  They have been cursed for their love and she has been reborn many,many times.  She and Daniel are fated to meet each time, fall in love and then she dies by going up in flames, but this current life is her last, if she dies this time she will not come back.  Something is different, although no one seems to know what, and since she now can be killed for good many come out of the woodwork hoping to do so. 

Luce befriends Shelby and Miles, two Nephilim students who help her learn more about her past and about her curse, which all the Nephilim are aware of as it is like a bedtime story for them, the story of the love Luce and Daniel have shared through the ages and their inability to stay together.

Luce's frustration with Daniel and her lack of knowledge of their history together can be felt throughout the book.  Luce questions their union and whether they really are supposed to be together.  She thinks about  how much easier it would be to be with someone who leads a regular, everyday sort of life, instead of one who needs to fly off on his own wings to take care of secret missions.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385739146
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 9/28/2010
  • Pages: 452
  • Sales rank: 24,658
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years                        
  • Series:Lauren Kate's Fallen Series , #2

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Fallen by Lauren Kate

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

There's something achingly familiar about Daniel Grigori.
Mysterious and aloof, he captures Luce Price's attention from the moment she sees him on her first day at the Sword & Cross boarding school in sultry Savannah, Georgia. He's the one bright spot in a place where cell phones are forbidden, the other students are all screw-ups, and security cameras watch every move.
Even though Daniel wants nothing to do with Luce—and goes out of his way to make that very clear—she can't let it go. Drawn to him like a moth to a flame, she has to find out what Daniel is so desperate to keep secret . . . even if it kills her.
Dangerously exciting and darkly romantic, Fallen is a page turning thriller and the ultimate love story.

My thoughts:
I really enjoyed reading this book, but I put off reviewing it for so long that the edges of this story have blended for me with the rest of the series a bit.  Luce has been sent to Sword and Cross because a boy she was with died under suspicious circumstances and she could no longer stay at Dover, her old private school.  This school has a uniform of black clothing and some unusual students.  As soon as she sees Daniel she experiences a sense of deju vu, but he flips her off and makes it clear he is uninterested.  Luce has some trouble fitting in with the other students, but does manage to become good friends with Penn, an orphan whose father was once the caretaker and has been allowed to stay.

One thing Luce has kept secret for years are the shadows she sees following her around that no one else seems to be aware of.  The hover overhead and seem to be everywhere.  She has seen them for years but, after her childhood when no one else saw them or knew what she was talking about, she started to pretend they were not there.  She sees them more and more at this school as she goes about trying to figure out what it is about Daniel that keeps drawing her in.  Along with Daniel she meets Roland, Molly, Cam, Arriane and Annabel who seem to be a group, but not.

Each time she meets up with Daniel something clicks into place until she finds out a bit more about the big picture.  I found Daniel and his aloofness a bit off putting.  I wondered why she bothered to keep trying and if he truly cared about her at all, but things became more clear as I read and especially as the rest of their story unfolds over three more books.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385739139
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 9/28/2010
  • Pages: 464
  • Sales rank: 20,399
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Series:Lauren Kate's Fallen Series , #1

Sunday, December 16, 2012

It's Monday, What are you reading?

Getting ready for Christmas is taking a lot of my possible reading time.  I finished up a few things and started a new book from the library.

Finished reading:
The Hunger Games (audio book with kids)
Real Mermaids Don't Hold Their Breath by Helen Boudreux (ebook, library)
Rapture by Lauren Kate (library book)
A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows( An Outlander Novella) by Diana Gabaldon

Still reading:
Reached by Ally Condi
The Shoemaker's Wife by Adrianna Trigiani(audio)
Eragon (car audio with the kids, library) they've been asking for Christmas Music so this one might not get listened to before it is due back
Jane Eyre
Web of Lies by Jennifer Estep
Mermaid (ebook, library)  My loan expired so I'll have to get it again at some point
Wild Ride by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer

Friday, December 14, 2012

Saturday Snapshot-Santa Visit

We had our yearly Santa visit last month, but I don't think I every managed to post the pictures.  We went on the first day Santa arrived at the mall.

The reason my children wanted to go the first day is because the mall was giving out free Webkins to the first children and they have a limited quantity.  Last year each of them got a Reindeer.  This year it was a Snow Deer.

Real Mermaids Don't Hold Their Breath by Helene Boudreau

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

Normal is Never Coming Back
Jade is totally confused. As in, "will this be a leg-day or a tail-day?" kind of confused. Even worse, it's been forever since her first kiss with Luke and now—nothing. Not even a text message.
But Jade doesn't have time to figure out the weirdness of boys and how to use her shiny new tail. (Seriously, being a mermaid should come with a handbook.) She has to come up with a plan to get her missing mermaid mom back on dry land.
The only problem is...Jade is afraid of the ocean. But even aqua-phobic mer-girls have to take the plunge sometime...

My thoughts:
This is book two in Boudreau's series about Jade the half mermaid.  The first one was such a fast, fun read that I was excited to read book two in this middle grade series.  I think Boudreau did a good job capturing the angst that early teens have regarding dating, relationships, parents and rules while also incorporating in the supernatural elements of being able to turn into a mermaid, a different mermaid language, and the politics of a whole different group of beings.  I liked how she used our present preoccupation with being connected to each other twenty four hours a day with cell phones, Facebook and texting and showed how those things can both help and hinder us in our pursuit of happiness.

Jade and her friend Cori are spending the summer working at Bridget's Ice Cream Shop while Luke, the mermaid boy Jade shared her first kiss with is off at camp and out of communication, with Chelse who is working to pay off a rare canoe her parents think she lost in the lake.  Unfortunately the canoe was lost when Jade rescued her mother, the mermaid, from a lake where she was being held as a hostage by a group of mer-people.  Since getting her mother into the ocean, Jade has been anxiously waiting for her to return as a person with two legs, hoping her mother has found the tide pool she needs to complete the transformation.  Getting in the way of that are mer-people with a mission, a land developer with little regard for the environment, experimental equipment that keeps running into snags, and the normal angst of being a teen and wondering why the guy you like hasn't called.

The book moved fast, read fast, and managed to stay believable in a way that can be difficult.  It will be interesting to see where Jade and her friends go in book three which is due out in February.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781402264467
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 5/1/2012
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 105,457
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years

Sunday, December 9, 2012

It's Monday, What are you reading?

This week I didn't get any reviews written.  I hope to set aside some time this week to get at least a few done!  We did get our Christmas tree decorated, our treadmill repaired, and a bunch of Christmas shopping done.

In sad reading news, my son accidentally dropped my Kindle Fire and the screen is VERY cracked.  It is out of warranty and drops wouldn't have been covered anyway since we didn't buy the additional insurance.  We made the decision to get a replacement with the discount Amazon offered as well as a new case as the case was part of the issue.

In good news I had an email this weekend letting me know I won a book from Ryan at Wordsmithsonia.

I finished:
The Game of Thrones (iPod audio, library loan)
Iced by Karen Marie Moning (library)

Still reading:
Eragon (car audio with the kids, library)
The Hunger Games (house audio with the kids. I wasn't sure about this one, but so many of their friends have either read the book or have seen the movie that I decided they could see the movie if we read the book first, library)
Jane Eyre (still hating the narrator, it is on my iPod, but I am not in a hurry to listen to it)
Web of Lies by Jennifer Estep
Real Mermaids Don't Hold Their Breath by Helen Boudreux (ebook, library)
Mermaid (ebook, library)
Wild Ride by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer
Rapture by Lauren Kate (library book)

Sunday, December 2, 2012

It's Monday, What are you reading?

This week I have had a hard time focusing on just one book at a time.  I have some digital audio loans from the library, some ebook loans from the library as well, library books, and then my own books I am also reading.  I've read a bunch, but haven't finished very much.

Real Mermaids Don't Wear Toe Rings by Helene Boudreux

Still reading:
Eragon (car audio with the kids, library)
The Hunger Games (house audio with the kids.  I wasn't sure about this one, but so many of their friends have either read the book or have seen the movie that I decided they could see the movie if we read the book first, library)
The Game of Thrones (iPod audio, library loan)
Jane Eyre (still hating the narrator, it is on my iPod, but I am not in a hurry to listen to it)
Iced by Karen Marie Moning (library)
Web of Lies by Jennifer Estep
Real Mermaids Don't Hold Their Breath by Helen Boudreux (ebook, library)
Mermaid (ebook, library)
Wild Ride by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer

I love all the books I find at the library, but not the sense of a deadline hanging over me to finish them.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Real Mermaids Don't Wear Toe Rings by Helene Boudreux

Overview from Barnes and Noble

Freak of nature takes on a whole new meaning...
If she hadn't been so clueless, she might have seen it coming. But really, who expects to get into a relaxing bathtub after a stressful day of shopping for tankinis and come out with scales and a tail?
Most. Embarrassing. Moment. Ever.
Jade soon discovers she inherited her mermaid tendencies from her mom. But if Mom was a mermaid, how did she drown?
Jade is determined to find out. So how does a plus-size, aqua-phobic mer-girl go about doing that exactly? And how will Jade ever be able to explain her secret to her best friend, Cori, and to her crush, Luke?
This summer is about to get a lot more interesting...
My thoughts:
I was browsing through the ebooks available through our public library and decided to look for mermaid books. Not sure why, none of my other searches were getting me anywhere.  I found some books I want to read, but they were checked out so I added myself to the waiting list for them, then found this one.  The title sounded fun so I checked it out. 
I enjoyed the lightness of this book and the fun way mermaids were introduced.  Being in middle school is a tough time for a lot of early teenagers and tweens, your body is changing, people start dating, friendships change and hormones are playing all sorts of havoc.  Jade is self conscious of her larger than average body, still having a hard time dealing with her mothers death by drowning a year before, struggling with a new friend who is coming between her and her best friend and surprised by the reappearance of a boy she thinks started a mean nickname about her.  The last thing she needs is another complication, but she gets it when she gets into the tub, falls asleep, and wakes up with a tail!  After finding out her mother was a mermaid new questions arise, such as how her mother could have drowned if she is or was a mermaid.  Jade wants to tell Cori, her best friend all about it, but her father cautions her about it.  How hard would this be for someone else to believe and what might happen to her if scientists were to find out that she could transform into a mermaid.
This was a fun, easy read.  I highly recommend people who love to read taking the time to find out if their local library offers either digital audio or ebooks to read.  I think if more people took advantage of them library systems might expand their catalogues even more which is good for all of us.  Plus, being able to search for and immediately check out a book from home is so convenient and easy.
Product Details
  • ISBN-13: 9781402244124
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 12/1/2010
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 117,528
  • Age range: 10 - 13 Years

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith (audio)

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

When Abraham Lincoln was nine years old, his mother died from an ailment called the "milk sickness." Only later did he learn that his mother's deadly affliction was actually the work of a local vampire, seeking to collect on Abe's father's unfortunate debts.

When the truth became known to the young Abraham Lincoln, he wrote in his journal: henceforth my life shall be one of rigorous study and devotion. I shall become learned in all things—a master of mind and body. And this mastery shall have but one purpose."

While Abraham Lincoln is widely lauded for reuniting the North with the South and abolishing slavery from our country, no one has ever understood his valiant fight for what it really was. That is, until Seth Grahame-Smith stumbled upon The Journal of Abraham Lincoln, and became the first living person to lay eyes on it in more than 140 years.

Using the journal as his guide and writing in the grand biographical style of Doris Kearns Goodwin and David McCullough, Seth has reconstructed the true life story of our greatest president for the first time—all while revealing the hidden history behind the Civil War, and uncovering the massive role vampires played in the birth, growth, and near-death of our nation.

My thoughts:
I loved this book!  I wasn't sure going into it if I would enjoy it or not, but I really did.  I love how the author took real facts and then told Lincoln's life story with a twist.  I am hoping that the non-vampire facts were true, I don't know all the dates and people who were a part of his life, but I have to say this might be a way to get reluctant readers or students who are having trouble memorizing dates and names to learn them in an innovative way!

At the start we meet the reluctant biographer and find out how he came to have journals and records about Abraham Lincoln.  Who gave them to him and for what purpose he was allowed to read and review these items.  From there we get the story of Abe's life and how vampires made their mark on both his life personally and on the country as a whole.  How slavery was perpetuated as a way to keep an easy food supply for vampires and how embedded they were in all forms of government and politics.

Abe comes to life as a hunter.  Some real details such as how be became a lawyer, got involved in politics, married and had children are there to hold the new construct together so the vampire element can be added in.  After finishing the book I commented to my husband that we should rent the movie.  I'd like to see how they developed it all for the screen.  Movies never really seem to live up to my expectations, but I plan to rent it anyway.

I enjoyed the audio for this book.  Sometimes the reader that is chosen doesn't complement the story, but this time I think they really got it right!  I am still struggling through a different audio book because I don't enjoy the woman who is providing the narration, but that was not the case this time at all!

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781455510177
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • Publication date: 4/3/2012
  • Edition description: Media Tie-In Edition
  • Pages: 384

Meet the Author

Seth Grahame-Smith is the New York Times bestselling author of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. In addition to adapting the screenplay for Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Seth also wrote Tim Burton's latest film, Dark Shadows. He lives in Los Angeles.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Year of Learning Dangerously: Adventures in Homeschooling by Quinn Cummings

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

Think homeschooling is only for a handful of eccentrics on either end of the political spectrum? Think again. Today in America, two million primary- and secondary-school students are homeschooled. Growing at a rate of 10 percent annually, homeschooling represents the most dramatic change in American education since the invention of the mimeograph—and the story has only just begun.
In The Year of Learning Dangerously, popular blogger, author, and former child actor Quinn Cummings recounts her family’s decision to wade into the unfamiliar waters of homeschooling—despite a chronic lack of discipline, some major gaps in academic knowledge, and a serious case of math aversion. (That description refers to Quinn.)
Trying out the latest trends, attending key conferences (incognito, of course), and recounting the highlights and lowlights along the way, Quinn takes her daughter’s education into her own hands, for better and for worse. Part memoir, part social commentary, and part how-not-to guide, The Year of Learning Dangerously will make you laugh and make you think. And it may or may not have a quiz at the end. OK, there isn’t a quiz. Probably.

My thoughts:
When my oldest two children were younger I went through a time when I wanted to homeschool.  I loved the idea of it and of being able to keep them with me.  Planning field trips and learning at their pace, being able to use their interests to make learning personal and meaningful, but my husband wasn't in favor of the idea and then we had two more children and now I think it would be really hard to be working with all four of them on my own for all their educational needs.  One of the things that really struck me when I started this is how different it must be to just have one child.

Cummings does a great job of making her book entertaining while relating her year homeschooling her daughter and the research she did into the different groups who are homeschooling in America.  The history of homeschooling and even how it is handled in different countries.  I am not sure I would have wanted to disguise myself in order to attend conferences for fundamentalist groups of homeschoolers, but she made it fun and entertaining while still managing to teach something along the way.  If all history books and lessons could be done in such an entertaining fashion I think students of all ages would learn more!

I found myself loving this book.  I picked it up off the shelf at the library when the title jumped out at me.  Sometimes I find the best books that way.  I may or may not have seen a review of it in a magazine, but it just looked like a book I wanted to read.  I found it interesting how she dealt with teaching subjects that she herself wasn't the best at (which had been one of my concerns when I was thinking about homeschooling myself six years ago).  It will be interesting to see if she writes any more books on this subject.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780399537608
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 8/7/2012
  • Pages: 240

Meet the Author

Quinn Cummings is an Oscar-nominated actress (The Goodbye Girl, Family), and the critically acclaimed author of the memoir Notes from the Underwire. She writes the popular blog The QC Report, and her work has appeared in Good Housekeeping, Los Angeles Magazine, and Newsweek. She lives in Los Angeles with her partner and daughter.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

It's Monday, What are you reading?

I missed posting last week and then had a very slow reading week, so this week has what I read last week and the week before.  I am still behind on reviews in a big way, but hope to put some time in this weekend writing up reviews for books I have finished.  I'd like to get some more reading time in as well of course!  Things just keep seeming to come up that take longer than I had anticipated.

Finished reading:
The  Year of Learning Dangerously:  Adventures in Homeschooling by Quinn Cummings
Big Sky Country by Linda Lael Miller
The Third Wheel (Diary of a Wimpy Kid) by Jeff Kinney

Still Reading/Listening to:
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Slayer by Seth Grahame-Smith
Web of Lies by Jennifer Estep

Big Sky Country by Linda Lael Miller


Overview from Barnes and Noble:

The "First Lady of the West," #1 New York Times bestselling author Linda Lael Miller is back with a new series about Parable, Montana-where love awaits.
The illegitimate son of a wealthy rancher, Sheriff Slade Barlow grew up in a trailer hitched to the Curly-Burly hair salon his mother runs. He was never acknowledged by his father-until now. Suddenly, Slade has inherited half of Whisper Creek Ranch, one of the most prosperous in Parable, Montana. That doesn't sit well with his half brother, Hutch, who grew up with all the rights of a Carmody. Including the affections of Joslyn Kirk, homecoming queen, rodeo queen, beauty queen-whom Slade has never forgotten
But Joslyn is barely holding her head up these days as she works to pay back everyone her crooked stepfather cheated. With a town to protect-plus a rebellious teenage stepdaughter-Slade has his hands full. But someone has to convince Joslyn that she's responsible only for her own actions. Such as her effect on this lawman's guarded heart.

My thoughts:
I love reading Linda Lael Miller.  Her books always bring me up a bit and give me a hopeful view of life.  Her characters have their shares of ups and downs, but still find each other and make their lives better together.  Joslyn has felt guilty for years about all the people who lost money to her step father when she was a teenager and has worked for years with the hope to pay them back.  She has grown and changed from the spoiled girl who left town as a teenager and she is back to make amends, both with repayment of the lost money and by facing awkward and uncomfortable situations with people in town who link her with her stepfather.  Slade has made his own way, with no help from his rich biological father, so to have him recognize him as an heir after his death brings up all the old hurts. 

Along with Joslyn there is her best friend who has had her own relationship issues including a divorce from a wealthy man in England, Hutch who is Slade's half brother and dated Joslyn in high school, Opal who worked for Joslyn's family when she lived in Parable and a host of other colorful characters.  I can make a pretty good guess who will be featured in future books set in Parable if this is part of a trilogy or series.  While with some authors that would bother me, here it just wet my curiosity for the next book.  She makes being a cowboy or being with a cowboy sound like so much fun, somehow missing all the hard work that goes into it as well!  I was so glad to find this on the shelf at the library.

I agree with some reviews that it seemed to take a long time for the couple to get together, but at the same time that made it seem a bit more believable to me.  Most people don't fall madly in love and right into bed when they first meet, so the fact that it took them longer to get to that point made the romance more realistic for me.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780373776436
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 5/29/2012
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 384

Friday, November 16, 2012

Saturday Snapshot- Pumpkin Patch

This is from last month.  I took my kids for the yearly pumpkin patch trip.  We walked through the corn maze and played in the pumpkin patch.

We started coming to this patch when we moved her seven years ago.

The first year my daughter was younger than my youngest is now.  I remember her in the maze in her winter coat, hat and gloves.  We were lucky to have a warmer day this year.

I always wonder what they do with the left over pumpkins after Halloween.  Are they used for pies?  Sold for animals?  Used for pumpkin chucking events?  Canned?  Or do they just use the seeds for next year?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Courting Cate by Leslie Gould Review

About Courting Cate :
When Amish farmer Pete Treger moves to Paradise Township, Pennsylvania, seeking a better life, he meets sisters Cate and Betsy Miller. Both are beautiful, but older sister Cate is known more for her sharp tongue and fiery temper than her striking appearance. Betsy, on the other hand, is sweet and flirty--and seems to have attracted most of the bachelors in Lancaster County!

However, the sisters' wealthy father has made one hard and fast rule: elder sister must marry first, before the younger can even start courting. Unfortunately for poor Betsy, and for the men who want to court her, her older sister, Cate, doesn't have any suitors--until Pete comes to town, that is.

Though he finds both sisters attractive, something about Cate's feisty demeanor appeals to him. Soon the other bachelors in the district convince Pete to court Cate. She hardly seems receptive to his overtures, though. Instead, she's immediately suspicious of his interest.

Book 1 in The Courtships of Lancaster County series.

Link to buy the book: 

My thoughts:
I participated in this blog tour as a reader for Litfuse Blog tours.  I love reading books that are based on classics.  My favorite version of The Tempest is Kiss Me Kate and that made me want to see how it could be done in an Amish community.  I love how a lot of Cate prickliness can be traced to misunderstandings and miscommunication and how relying on God's guidance helps her.

Cate has always been the care taker for her sister Betsy.  She started when she was very young and her mother died after giving birth.  She is very responsible in all things, but she does not care for housework and loves to read.  Going to the bookmobile every week is the highlight of the week for her.  After some problems with male members in her community she has given up on finding a husband and hopes to become a published writer, until her father issues and edict, Betsy is not allowed to court or go to social events if Cate doesn't go with her.

When a new man comes to town, an Amish man who loves to read, Cate is intrigued but thinks he will only be interested in Betsy.  The last man who showed interest in her was really only interested in her father's money so she is very skeptical about why he would want to spend time with her.

Over the course of the novel Cate comes to see that her prior relationship and its demise has colored her whole life.  Not only has she pulled away from other prospects for marriage, but she pulled away from God and stopped looking for his guidance in her life.  When she starts to listen and really pray again, she starts to find herself again.  When she stops trying to lead her life in the directions she thinks she is supposed to be going and trusts that she will get to where she is supposed to be if she listens she changes in ways that her family can perceive.  It can be hard to get past misunderstandings, but often times the one who is getting in the way of success and happiness is ourselves.

Meet Leslie:

Leslie Gould is the co-author, with Mindy Starns Clark, of the #1 bestselling The Amish Midwife and The Amish Nanny . She is also the author of numerous novels, including Garden of Dreams, Beyond the Blue (winner of the Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice for Best Inspirational Novel, 2006), and Scrap Everything . She holds an MFA in creative writing from Portland State University and has taught fiction writing at Multnomah University as an adjunct professor. She resides with her husband and four children in Portland, Oregon.

Learn more at

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