Thursday, July 31, 2014

Mind Blind by Lari Don

Mind Blind

Intriguing YA Paranormal story.  Fourteen year old Ciaran Bain lives with his family of mind reading criminals and he and his cousins are trained, spy kid like, to go on missions and perform whatever jobs they are sent on, no questions asked.  Bain has the strongest mind reading powers, but is the weakest member of his family because he is crippled by other people's emotions. When a girl dies due to his errors in a job, he feels bound to try to make things right.  This leads him into an adventure with the dead girl's younger sister, trying to evade the police, his family and the military police as he tries to save his life and hers and keep his family's secrets safe.  Action, adventure and mind reading abound in this fast paced adventure.  I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Stay Where You Are And Then Leave by John Boyne

Stay Where You Are And Then Leave by John Boyne
Written from the point of view of a child, this book covers a very disturbing topic and really should be read by high school age and above, not by younger children. Set in London during WWI, which England joins on Alfie's fifth birthday, we see the effects of the war on the women and children, the men who were unwilling or unable to serve, the foreigners in London and on the soldiers themselves. Because his father is away at war, Alfie has no choice but to grow up early and become rather independent. The story skips from when he was five to when he was nine years old as Alfie worries about what has happened to his father since they stopped receiving letters from him over a year ago. His mother says that his father is on a secret mission for the government, but Alfie knows that is not true. When he discovers the truth, it is more shocking and heartbreaking than he could have imagined, yet as an optimistic nine year old, he is determined to make things right. I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Monday, July 28, 2014

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
Brilliant book. Would make a fantastic movie. I totally loved it and laughed out loud repeatedly and kept telling my husband about the story as I read it. After 59 year old Ove is laid off from his job, he realizes that he really does have no reason at all to live and it is time to join his recently deceased wife, Sonja. He plans out his suicide attempts methodically to create as little mess as possible, but each attempt is thwarted as he winds up having to help other people who are all incompetent. He makes friends with his new neighbors Parvanah and her husband Sebastian and their children and is drawn into more relationships - with a cat, the mailman, a boy who becomes temporarily homeless, a man whose life he winds up saving during one of his failed suicide attempts and his neighbor who was a friend turned enemy but is no longer either now that he has altzheimer's. Strewn with memories of his past and the craziness of his present, Ove's story is just fabulous. I received this book free to review from Netgalley and I highly recommend it.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Donna of the Dead by Alison Kemper

Donna of the Dead by Alison Kemper
When the zompocalypse occurs, Donna, who has strange silver eyes and hears voices in her head, and her friend Deke, escape the cruise ship that is overrun with zombies and wind up hiding out in their high school along with several other teens who are attempting to survive. Luckily, some members of the robotics club are with them along with a couple of cheerleaders and the class president. I totally enjoyed this spoofy teen paranormal romance about zombies and I think that other people will too. I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Teacha!: Stories from a Yeshiva by Gerry Albarelli

Teacha!: Stories from a Yeshiva
In this short, interesting book, Gerry, who is not Jewish, tells about his experiences teaching English to young Jewish boys in a Yeshiva in Brooklyn. Since the boys were in school from 6:30 am to 6:30 pm, and English, was seen as not really important, it was taught at the end of the day, and the boys, who spoke only Yiddish at home, were pretty wild. Despite the discipline problems, Gerry came up with some creative ways for getting the boys interested in speaking and writing in English. It sounds like he really likes the kids and is doing a great job teaching them. This book offers a unique perspective on what goes on in a Yeshiva - a school for Chasidic Jewish boys who live in a very insular culture.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

American Gods (American Gods, #1)

American Gods by Neil Gaiman
This book is incredibly funny and horribly sad, totally irreverent and thoughtful and philosophical. The story follows a man named Shadow, a convict who is released from prison a few days early when his wife dies and who then is drawn into the world of the gods - all of the ones who were brought to America by the people who believed in them - from the Norse gods to the leprechauns, to the African gods, the gods of the native Americans and more. As the gods of the past prepare to fight the newer gods of commerce and technology, Shadow is thrust into the middle of the storm that is coming. Throughout the book, we are introduced to the author's viewpoints about the world, religion and life told in his own unique and lyrical way. I enjoyed learning quite a few new words while reading this book including psychopomp and thylacine and I appreciate the author's verbocity. Like the other books that I have read by this author, this book definitely made me think. Like Martha says, that is a good thing.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Project Fierce Chicago by Less Than Three Press

Project Fierce Chicago by Less Than Three Press
This book is an anthology of short stories written by supporters of Project Fierce Chicago, whose "mission is to reduce LGBTQ youth homelessness in Chicago by providing affirming, no-cost transitional housing and comprehensive support services to homeless LGBTQ young adults." The proceeds from the sale of this book go to support that cause. The stories cover a variety of genres from romance to fantasy and Science Fiction as well as reality based stories. Some of the stories were very well written and I enjoyed them very much. I think my favorite story in the book is Timethieves. I do highly recommend the book with a warning that there is a lot of adult content in it. Sadly, many of the stories are not well edited.  I do hope that if the authors continue to write that they will hire editors in the future because editing is important.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

My Brief History by Stephen Hawking

My Brief History by Stephen Hawking
I found this book to be an interesting autobiography. I liked reading about Hawking's childhood and his life and career as a scientist. I enjoyed the parts about black holes and time travel as well. I think that people who are interesting in Hawking and his life will enjoy this brief book. I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Expecting by Ann Lewis Hamilton

This is an interesting story about a couple's struggle with infertility. The book begins with Laurie and her husband Alan each telling parts as they struggle through two miscarriages. Then, they go to a fertility doctor and after she is pregnant, they learn that an irate nurse tampered with things and the child is not Alan's. As Alan struggles to deal with his wife carrying another man's child and Laurie searches for the donor they grow apart. We also hear from Jack, aka the sperm donor, a college student with money problems who saw sperm donation as an easy way to get money. The story is interesting and explores the issues of miscarriage and infertility and the effects that can have on a couple and on their marriage. There were some issues in the book that just seemed "off" to me - like I cannot imagine anyone assembling a crib when they are only 8 weeks pregnant and I am not sure why artificial insemination was chosen as a treatment since Laurie was able to get pregnant the normal way - her problem was that she could not carry a pregnancy. The book has discussion questions at the end. I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

We Were Liars

Wow. Such a sad story. Told by Cadence, now 17 years old, the story is a broken memoir of summers past at her family's Cape Cod vacation island as she struggles to remember what happened the summer of her 15th year and how she was injured. Cadence recalls the years spent with her cousins Johnny and Mirren and their Aunt's boyfriend's nephew, Gat, who Cadence loves. The story is beautifully written and I highly recommend it. I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Enchanter Heir (The Heir Chronicles #4) by Cinda Williams Chima

The Enchanter Heir (The Heir Chronicles, #4)
This book is the 4th one in a series and I have not read the other 3 books. However, it seemed to do fine as a stand alone book and I felt like I was able to follow it and I did enjoy it. This book follows two characters - Emma, who up until this point was not aware of the magical world, and Jonah, who is a victim of the Thorn Hill massacre/incident. Sixteen year old Emma has been raised by her grandfather, and when he dies under suspicious circumstances, giving her a letter that instructs her to call a man who she later finds out is her father, she is introduced to the magical part of the world that most people do not know exists and she is in danger. Seventeen year old Jonah is cursed and gifted as a result of the Thornhill incident and he works for Gabriel who he does not quite trust anymore. Emma and Jonah are brought together through circumstance and a love of music, but theirs is a doomed relationship. The book ends with a cliffhanger suggesting more to come and I look forward to reading other books in the series. That being said, the writing had some rather odd imagery that just did not work for me. For example, Jonah "jackknifed" out of a chair which reminded me of an eighteen wheeler crash, but did not seem appropriate for getting out of a chair and someone spoke with a "foxy voice", and I all I could think of when I read that was "what does the fox say?". I received this book free to review from Netgalley and I think that young people who enjoy the fantasy genre will enjoy it.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Neverwas (The Amber House Trilogy #2) by Kelly Moore, Tucker Reed, Larkin Reed

Neverwas by Kelly  Moore
This is the second book in a series and I have not read the first book. However, I enjoyed this book and was able to follow it well. In this book sixteen year old Sarah is living in an alternate reality/timestream that exists because she changed time in the last book. Her family's ancestral home, Amber House, apparently, according to the Nazi in this book, sits in an area where several ley lines converge, making magic run rampant in the house. In this time, the U.S. did not win independence from England and is split into two or three separate countries, the Nazis are still in power in Europe, slavery lasted much longer, and technology is behind that of today in a kind of steampunk/gothic way. While in Amber house, Sarah sees visions of the past and she vaguely remembers a different life in another time. It is up to her to follow the clues that her ancestors left for her so that she can change time again and fix the horrible errors that happened after the first time she changed time. There is mystery, intrigue, romance - a bit disappointing because there are two boys who love Sarah - hints of Twilight's inception of the teen love triangle genre, but all in all, it is a very good book and I look forward to reading the next one.

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Midwife by Jolina Petersheim

The Midwife
I received this book free to review from Netgalley. I chose to read it because I have read the author's book "The Outcast", which I totally loved. I did not love this book as much. In this book, Beth is a surrogate mother for a couple who, when they find out that the baby may have abnormalities, want her to have more testing and abort if the child is found to be deficient. Instead, she runs away to a Mennonite community where she hides in a home for unwed mothers and gives birth to the child. The story is told in three parts - by Beth in 1995-1996 when she becomes a surrogate, and by her in 2014 and by another unwed mother, Amelia in 2014. Beth, who changes her name to Rhoda in the Mennonite community, spends a lot of time in anguish because her mother left her and her family when she was a teenager. Beth/Rhoda blames her mother's rejection for all of her problems in life, which I felt was overdoing things and I kind of thought that part was just too much and that she should have just gotten over it at sometime and gone on with her life. If she had, I would have liked her better, but then there would not have been this story. The story is well written and if you like the Amish/Mennonite genre, I am sure you will enjoy this story. 

Lights Over Emerald Creek by Shelley Davidow

Lights Over Emerald Creek
Inspired, I suppose, by Pythagoreans music of the spheres, this is a teen paranormal romance with a rather different twist. When sixteen year old Lucy sees unexplainable balls of light hovering over the water near her Australian outback home and later finds a geometric shape in the sand there, she begins to research the mystery and in her online research contacts Jonathan, a college music major in Scotland. They send e-mails back and forth and he wants to come and visit her, but she does not want him to know that she is now paraplegic due to a car wreck that killed her mother. As she investigates the lights and sounds, she is drawn into another dimension, a parallel universe where only she can change things. As she is drawn there, Jonathan is drawn to her in this first book in a fascinating series. I received this book free to review from Netgalley and I look forward to reading future books in this series.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Finding Harmony (Katie & Annalise #3) by Pamela Fagan Hutchins

Finding Harmony by Pamela Fagan Hutchins
I loved this third book in the Katie and Annalise seires. Katie is now the mother of twin girls and Nick's parent's are living with them to help with the children. Nick is running his detective agency out of the house and when he gets a case he cannot refuse and leaves Katie out of things, she is angry. When he disappears in his airplane without telling anyone where he went, Katie realizes that she is the only one who can find him. With the help of her brother and her father-in-law, she is off to try to rescue Nick while her mother-in-law wrangles babies and tries to keep the local authorities for fining them for a supposed graveyard underneath Annalise. Tons of action and adventure and a dose of reality for Katie. Excellent book!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Leaving Annalise (#2 Katie & Annalise series) by Pamela Fagan Hutchins

Leaving Annalise by Pamela Fagan Hutchins
This is a totally fabulous book! It is the second in the series. With mystery, intrigue, romance, a paranormal house haunted by a ghost that likes Katie and plot twists occurring constantly, it is an action packed thriller/romance. Torn between her house and the man she loves, what will Katie do? What does Annalise want her to do? How far can Annalise reach? I received this book free to review from Netgalley, so I got and read the first book and immediately read this one and now I plan to read the third. This is just a fantastic series and I highly recommend it!

Saving Grace (Katie & Annalise #1) by Pamela Fagan Hutchins

Saving Grace by Pamela Fagan Hutchins
I really enjoyed this mystery novel and found it to be a fun read. Katie is a lawyer in Dallas, Tx whose parents died in St. Marcos the year before and she is still depressed and drinking too much. When she is confronted about her drinking after a messed up court case and a messed up relationship, she decides to go to St. Marcos for a vacation and to investigate her parents' deaths, which she does not believe to be an accident. Once there, she falls in love with a half-finished haunted house and makes friends and becomes involved in quite a mystery. This book was interesting and fun to read. I look forward to readcing the next book!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton
This is a strange and beautiful novel. Told by Ava, the story begins with her past - as she tells the story of her great grandparents in France, her mother and her unusual siblings and her mother's story and finally her own bizarre story. Written in beautiful prose, the story is fast paced as it goes from one bizarre thing to the next. From her aunt, who turned herself into a canary - although we are not told how she accomplished that, to her great grandmother, who became more and more transparent until she finally disappeared, Ava comes from a definitely different family so it should be no surprise that she has wings. Growing up sheltered from the world was supposed to keep her safe. But, how can a teenage girl stay inside and away from all other people? This is a story of love and sorrow and magic and hope. It is disturbing and heart wrenching, lovely and magical. I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Friday, July 4, 2014

The Balance by Neal Wooten

The Balance by Neal Wooten
I received this book free to review from Netgalley. It is a very poorly written YA dystopian novel. The idea is interesting and I was able to read the whole book, which is why I gave it a rating of 2 rather than 1, but the writing really is rather dreadful. In this book, nineteen year old Piri, who lives in a city in the sky connected to the earth by a very large column, is accidentally dropped to earth when a transport he is riding in is struck by lightening. He is rescued by a boy his age named Niko and taken to live with a group of the ground dwellers, who Piri did not even know existed. While Piri and the people who live in the city are small and pale skinned and blonde, Niko and the ground dwellers who call themselves "the Children" are darker skinned and speak the same English that the city dwellers speak, with a few Spanish words thrown in. The third group of people is the Scavs, large, and fierce and barbaric who paint themselves black with the "black stuff from the pits".
The world-building is incomplete partly because the writer does not name things. The city in the clouds is merely "the City", the flat round stone disks that make light are not named by the city people or the "Children", bees are not named but are referred to as "flying things with stingers" by the "Children" just to give a few examples. The grammar is poor and some words are misused - for instance the word "dramatic" was used where "traumatic" should have been used - twice.
In this book, religion is used to control and manipulate the poor, deluded "Children" and homosexuality is seen as normal and natural. I suspect that is why some people like the book - and why others will not like it. However, even if people are looking for that theme and really like it and want to read books that extol those concepts, it does not excuse the poor writing. The book ends with a possible cliffhanger and if the author intends to write any more books, I do hope that he takes some writing classes, gets an editor, and gives some thought to naming things in order to improve his stories.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Perfected by Kate Jarvik Birch


Kind of a creepy premise -Sixteen year old Ella was raised in a "kennel" to be a "pet" and had no name, only a number, until she was bought by a congressman who had fought to get the law passed that allowed people to breed and raise girls to be "pets". Once she is at the congressman's house, she becomes friends with Ruby, his ten year old daughter and has a romance with Penn, the congressman's son. The story is interesting and well written and ends with a cliffhanger. I received this book free to review from Netgalley. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Precious Thing by Colette McBeth

Precious Thing by Colette McBeth
I received this book free to review from Netgalley. I did not like it from the beginning, but since it was free and I had agreed to review it, I struggled to read it. I found it to be vague and rambley and confusing. There were so many details deliberately left out - so that the reader would make guesses about what was going on, I suppose, and want to keep reading to find out, but there was too much left out and the main character who was narrating seemed rather confused and possibly insane and I found it frustrating and senseless rather than interesting. I gave up at 40% and skipped to the end and read the last two chapters and still did not feel like it would have been worth it to stick with the book.