Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Book Review: With a Name Like Love by Tess Hilmo

With a Name like Love by Tess Hilmo
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date: September 2011
ISBN: 9780374384654
Source: review copy sent by publicist

Ollie Love has never lived in one place for longer than three days.  As the daughter of the Reverend Everlasting Love, a traveling preacher, she and her four younger sisters have spent their lives on the road.  But when Ollie meets Jimmy Koppel, a young boy in trouble in a small town riddled with anger and fear, she and her family might end up staying longer than they expected.

Things I Liked:
This was a sweet and heart-warming little book about family and friendship and the things we do for others.  I loved the Love family and Ollie especially. Her interactions with her sisters were my favorite, especially because I have four sisters and it seemed like every little thing could become a fight.  Family dynamics are always interesting to read about and adding outside characters makes it even more fun.  I fell in love with Ollie and Jimmy and couldn't help being interested in what happened to Jimmy and his mother.  A delightful sister book for those looking for a sweet tale of doing good for other people.  Some favorite parts:

Somewhere along the way, however, the good reverend decided a small town meant a poor town, and a poor town meant humble people. Ollie's daddy was born to preach to those people. His daddy had been a traveling preacher, as was his daddy before him, all the way back to the time of Moses. The Good Lord ushered him into that long line of preachers, and then his parents gave him the name Everlasting Love. It was everything he was. P 4
Reverend Love's voice was as rich as molasses and deep as the Grand Canyon. It had a power about it that made people reach into their pockets even when they didn't come with the intention of donating to the cause. He called it his trademark. Ollie's mama called it their only salvation. P 16
Things I Didn't Like:
Well, not much. Sometimes I was frustrated with Ollie for being so naive and I was a little disappointed at how well things seemed to turn out. Still, it wasn't too easy for them and it felt pretty accurate for her age and circumstances.


It reminded me a little of Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer L. Holm
Maybe a bit like The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall (for the sister fun)

s-factor: none 

mrg-factor: none

v-factor: ->
a little bit, nothing too much

Overall rating: **** 

You don't hear of many books about traveling preachers - any you can think of?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: My Winter TBR Pile

This week's Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by The Broke and the Bookish) is Books On My TBR List For Winter.  But since I'm not big on reading holiday books (I've not found many I enjoyed) I thought I'd adjust it a little.  With the year coming to an end, I do have a few books I'd like to read before January (or maybe early next year), so that's what my list contains.  I guess it's more like my immediate TBR pile :)

1. The Death Cure by James Dashner
(seriously, bought this one right away and still have it waiting for me...)

2. Brisingr and Inheritance by Christopher Paolini
(I've been re-listening to the first books before I get to the last one - plus I'm going to a signing for him this Saturday!)

3. The Demon's Surrender by Sarah Rees Brennan
(I can't believe I got this one way back when it came out and still haven't gotten to it!)

4. Prized by Caragh M. O'Brien
(sequel to one of my fave dystopians)

5. Legend by Marie Lu
(been dying for this one since I first heard about it)

6. Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu
(this one has been patiently waiting its turn in my hands - not too much longer, I promise)

7. Forever by Maggie Stiefvater
(what, I haven't read this one yet?)

8. Everneath by Brodi Ashton
(ok, I cheated and just finished this one - but seriously, I kept trying NOT to, so I could read it closer to its release date)

9. A Million Suns by Beth Revis
(wish I had an ARC, guess I'll have to wait...patiently)

10. Chime by Franny Billingsley
(so much talk about this one, I have to get it read before Printz and Newbery winners are announced)

What's on your list for the winter?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Name That Book, Episode 21

Name that Book is a biweekly game where you get to guess a book title from the photo clues.  Occasionally I offer prizes for those who guess right!

In honor of the culinary delights I enjoyed last week, I thought I'd have this special Name That Book episode.  Feast your eyes upon these (and leave guesses in the comments):
Book 1:


Book 2:

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Monday, November 21, 2011

Sign Up for the Classic Double Challenge: 2012

I finally got myself together enough to start this challenge!  Thanks to all those who expressed interest in joining up.  Here is the info about this challenge:

Essentially, the Classic Double Challenge will encourage you to read one older book (classic) and a newer book that relates to the older one in some way.  (BTW, can be any reading level from MG to Adult.)  This is best understood by examples, which I'll post below.  I've also compiled an anything-but-complete list of some examples for further perusal.  You do NOT have to pick something from the list.  I'm leaving the choices to your discretion - if you think there is some sort of connection between the books, go for it! 

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle and When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead.  The first is kind of a "classic" and in the second, the main character loves A Wrinkle in Time and it plays a part in the plot. 
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley and This Dark Endeavor: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein by Kenneth Oppel.
More obvious, since This Dark Endeavour is a prequel of sorts to Frankenstein. 

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte and Jane by April Lindner.
Jane is a retelling of Jane Eyre, set in modern times.

What I'd really love is for each person to write a review (or whatever you want to call it) of the two books (preferably together) and post it somewhere (blog, tumblr, goodreads, my comments, wherever) so that participants can check them out and we can discuss!  (I'd like to start a goodreads book group around this idea, but don't have the energy for that...yet!) 

And, of course, there are levels of participation, so you can choose how much or how little you'd like to commit to:

Small: You read 2 related books.

Medium: You read 4 books (2 sets of related books).

Large: You read 6 books (3 sets of related books).

Super Size: You read 8 books (4 sets of related books).

So, decide your size of participation and post about it wherever (or if you don't have a blog, you can leave your committment in the comments) and then link back below.  You don't have to decide what you're planning to read right away, but listing some possibilities is always fun.  Sign up any time from now until the end of 2012.

I'd love it if you'd spread the word about this challenge, if you so desire.  And, feel free to snag one of the buttons below and display it on your blog or wherever else you'd like.  I believe I'll have some prizes maybe each month next year for those who read and somehow post reviews (even if it's in the comments of my blog :)  I'm still pretty new at this, so we'll see!  Thanks everyone and I hope this is a fun challenge for you.

Some info on the list of book possibilities:
-I've included fairy tale retellings.  Essentially, you'd read the retelling and find some form of an original tale - as original as you can find it: Grimm, Andrew Lang, whatever. 
-The same goes for the myths/legends/stories that are included (though I obviously didn't spend much time working on that part of the list).  Try to find an older, original telling of the story. 
-Also, I didn't include some of your suggestions for pairing newer dystopian books with 1984 or Fahrenheit 451, simply because there were too many permutations that could take.  You are, however, welcome to pair them any way you like, and be sure to let us know the similarities, etc, in your review.  I'll try to add any other suggestions you have for additions.

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Friday, November 18, 2011

Retro Friday Review: Alanna: the First Adventure by Tamora Pierce

Retro Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Angie of Angieville and "focuses on reviewing books from the past. This can be an old favorite, an under-the-radar book you think deserves more attention, something woefully out of print, etc."

Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce
Publisher: Atheneum
Publication date: 1983
ISBN: 9781442426412
Source: Audiobook from library

Alanna of Trebond was supposed to go a convent and learn how to be a woman. Instead, she switches places with her twin, who wants to learn magic, and disguises herself as a boy to become a page. But things are a lot more difficult than she imagined they would be, especially hiding who she is and what she's capable of.

Things I Liked:
What a delight - why didn't I read this sooner?  I adore Alanna, her toughness and her inflexibility.  I love how she fought so hard for the things she wanted and how that was both good and bad.  She made the whole book enjoyable, and I'd have loved her even if the story hadn't been intriguing (which it was).  I loved the group of boys she meets and all the things they do together, including fight.  It was a perfect fantasy featuring the girl-dressing-as-a-boy motif, which can sometimes be cliched but was excellent in this instance.  Magic, squires, evil forces, a prince, a thief (chases, escapes, true love, etc): a great combination to make this series a new favorite.  Listening to it on audio was excellent as well, mostly because hearing the intonations of her voice made the Alanna even more real to me - kudos to the narrator.

Things I Didn't Like:
It was pretty short for the number of years that passed in the book.  Which is to say, I wanted more about Alanna and Jonathan and George.  Good thing there are more books in the series.

The Education of Bet by Lauren Baratz-Logsted
Anything by Tamora Pierce

s-factor: ! 

maybe one or two, but not many

mrg-factor: none 

v-factor: -> 
some, but nothing descriptive

Overall rating: ***** 

What old favorites have you discovered recently?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Book Review: Bright Young Things by Anna Godberson

Bright Young Things by Anna Godberson
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication date: October 2010
ISBN: 9780061962677
Source: Library

Letty and Cordelia have run away from their small town life and found their way to the Big Apple.  Letty is determined to make it big as a singer, to see her name in the lights, but runs into a lot more competition and problems than expected.  Cordelia is searching for her father, a rich and famous man in the town of Manhatten.  But finding her life there is a lot more difficult than she imagines.  She makes an ally in Astrid, her brother's girlfriend, who wants to help Cordelia out, but also hides a number of secrets from her as well.  Will the three girls get all they hoped for or will their dreams be ripped from them?

Things I Liked:
Oh the setting.  It was pitch-perfect and made you feel like you were living in the Jazz Age of New York - flappers and speak-easys and Broadway and huge mansions homes.  Godberson has created another fabulous setting for her rich, twisted, and complicated historical fiction series.  You will fall into the time and place with such ease, you won't ever want to come back out.  And once again, she's created a story that will have you wondering and guessing who is telling the truth and who is hiding more lies.  

Things I Didn't Like:
It definitely didn't have quite the appeal that The Luxe books did.  I'm not sure exactly why that is, but I didn't enjoy it as much.  Other than the setting, I was not as drawn into the story and the characters.  They were not people I cared about or wanted to read more about.  Still, I'll be intrigued to read the next book.

The Luxe books by Anna Godberson

Vixen by Jillian Larkin

s-factor: !@
some throughout

mrg-factor: XX
lots of implied stuff, some off-page action

v-factor: none

Overall rating: ***

I'm a sucker for a 20s setting.  Is there a setting you're drawn to?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Book Review: Silence by Becca Fitzpatrick

Silence by Becca Fitzpatrick
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: October 2011
ISBN: 9781442426641
Source: Audiobook provided by publisher


When Nora wakes up in a cemetary with no memory of the last five months of her life, not only does she feel disoriented, but like she's missing something.  No one wants to give her details on just what happened, though they might not know themselves.  The only things she does know are that her mom is dating Hank Miller - the creepy father of her arch-enemy Marcie Miller - and that she's falling for the hot, mysterious Jev, someone she just might have known before.  Will she remember in time to save herself and her mother from certain disaster?

Things I Liked:
The story is pretty interesting, though a bit complicated (or maybe my brain cells are not functioning at full capacity, who knows?).  The ending was full of surprises and intriguing twists and turns.  I got sheer fluffy entertainment out of this one, that's for sure.  I really liked the narrator, Caitlin Greer; she certainly had the teenage girl voice down.  It was almost obnoxiously real at times, like listening to a teen chat with her buddies (no offense, I'm sure I talk(ed) like that too).  But very accurate and well-done.

Things I Didn't Like:
Oh, where to begin.  Honestly, I did not enjoy the book much at all.  If I hadn't been listening to a review book, I would not have finished it.  I got some enjoyment out of the previous book in the series, Crescendo, but this book just bored me and made me angry.  We spend the whole book listening/watching to Nora try to remember everything she learned in the first two books (like a repeat of it all).  And whining, so much whining.  And falling in love with the jerk Patch all over again (yeah, still don't like him).  She epitomizes to me, the character who is TSTL - too stupid to live.  She was such a fool, continually not caring about her own safety in order to do what she thought was right: I must save this person who is being mugged, even though I'm a small helpless girl, instead of running away and calling for helpt (which would probably have been more helpful than saying "No!  You're hurting him!").  Drove me nuts.  If there is another book in this series (which this ending sort of indicates) I will definitely not be reading it.  I have no interest in knowing where Nora and Patch are headed next.  But, from what I've heard, fans of the series really liked it, so read it if you enjoyed those first two books.

The first two in the series: Hush, Hush and Crescendo
Fallen by Lauren Kate or Halo by Alexandra Adornetto

s-factor: ! 
probably a few

mrg-factor: XX 
sensuality mainly, some implied stuff

v-factor: ->->
someone's always fighting someone else

Overall rating: ** 

I'm thinking nearly every fallen angel book I've read has been a fail for me - any really good one's I should consider before giving them up entirely?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Book Review: Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick

Posted as part of Tween Tuesday, hosted by GreenBeanTeenQueen.
Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication date: September 2011
ISBN: 9780545027892
Source: Library

Ben has been struggling to feel comfortable in his life, ever since his mother died.  Living with his aunt and uncle is strange and he feels alienated.  When a strange turn of events leaves him unable to hear, he sets off on a journey to find someone, though he isn't quite sure who.  His story intersects with Rose, who lived fifty years earlier with her father.  But she is not satisfied to have the quiet existence her father seeks for her and she sets out looking for something too.  Will they each find what they need?

Things I Liked:
The experience!  I loved reading and then watching the stories unfold.  The illustrations that tell Rose's story were almost more vivid than the words describing Ben's story.  It was a pleasure to read and watch the two different characters' stories collide and intertwine in unexpected ways.  The whole reading experience was great fun and completely different from anything I've read before (with the possible exception of The Invention of Hugo Cabret).  So much fun and such a great story, an especially good pick for reluctant readers, since those illustrations can really draw you into the story and keep you reading.

Things I Didn't Like:
I thought the story stumbled in a few places and if it had been all text, I might have lost interest.  But with the unique way it's told and the beautiful illustrations, I had to keep going.  (And I'm probably the only non-raving reviewer of this one - it seems everyone else adored it!)  A delightful new book!

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick is the only thing I can think of quite like it

s-factor: none 

that I recall

mrg-factor: none 
just some wondering about parentage

v-factor: -> 
maybe a little frightening in places, but nothing violent

Overall rating: **** 

Do you ever wonder about all those books that fall below your adoring level, but are still good?  Do you forget about them or remember to recommend them?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Friday, November 11, 2011

Interested in Joining a New Challenge?

Update: I'm thinking I'll get the ball rolling for this challenge.  I'm working on compiling book companions for this, so feel free to leave more suggestions.  And watch the blog for more to come!

So, I'm thinking of starting a new challenge for 2012.  It might be a little obscure or niche, but I thought I'd see if there is any interest.  It would be to read at least two books that were related in some way.  One of the books could be a "classic" meaning it was published probably quite some time before the other.  This could be reimaginings or it could be sequels or it could have some other tie-in.  Very vague, I know, but I think it's clearer with examples:
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle and When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead.  The first is kind of a "classic" and in the second, the main character loves A Wrinkle in Time and it plays a part in the plot. 
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley and This Dark Endeavor: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein by Kenneth Oppel.
More obvious, since This Dark Endeavour is a prequel of sorts to Frankenstein.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte and Jane by April Lindner.
Jane is a retelling of Jane Eyre, set in modern times.
I think this would be a way to get folks to read a classic or just a great older book and a newer one as well.  I could come up with a list of possibilities (and welcome any suggestions you have as well). 
What do you think?  Any takers?  Should I just do this project on my own?
If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Book Review: Crossed by Ally Condie

Crossed by Ally Condie
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile

Publication date: November 2011
ISBN: 9780525423652
Source: Purchased

*Some possible spoilers for Matched*
When Cassia is sent to the Border Provinces, she hopes to be able to find Ky.  She finally makes her way to the Outer Provinces, with a new companion,  But will she be able to find him before they are all caught, and will it be enough to be together when she does?

Things I Liked:
I simply fell in love with this book.  It is not what I'd call a typical dystopian full of action and excitement, though it does have some.  What I love most is the quiet nature of it, the slow development, and especially the layered symbols and meanings that I see in nearly every sentence.  Condie's writing seems simple, but it also has depth and measure that belies its simplicity.  It was such a beautiful experience to just feel like there was more than the story going on with deeper feelings and ideas.  Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but somehow I felt like I was floating along on an undercurrent with Cassia and Ky in this gorgeous alien landscape (it helps that I adore the geography of Southern Utah).  The character back stories and the delicious depths of the Society and Aberrations and all that stuff just made this a rich and moving experience for me.  I also really enjoy the thought that goes into the love triangle - the feelings Cassia still obviously has for Xander and his own frustrations at being left behind.  Just really well done!  Here are some of my favorite parts:
I thought it was having the picture that made it special, but it's not even that. It's looking at something without being watched, without being told how to see. That's what the picture has given us. p 12
Because in the end you can't always choose what to keep. You can only choose how you let it go. p 21
This happened to him, while I sat in my house on the very same street, eating my premade food and listening to the port and daydreaming about the perfect life that was about to be delivered to me, the way everything always was. p 262
Things I Didn't Like:
I can definitely see how there will be things people don't like about this one: the viewpoints are very similar, the plot is pretty slow sometimes, it seems like the whole book is kind of one big circle and back where they all started, but I was not bothered by any of these things.  I enjoyed it all!

Read Matched by Ally Condie first
Other dystopians are kind of similar like Delirium by Lauren Oliver and Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

s-factor: ! 

one or two

mrg-factor: none 

v-factor: -> 
some, but not graphic

Overall rating: ***** 

What books blow you away that others think are just ok?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Book Review: Nightshade by Andrea Cremer

Nightshade by Andrea Cremer
Publisher: Speak
Publication date: October 2010
ISBN: 9780142419809
Source: ARC provided by publisher

 Calla has always been alpha to her pack.  She knows what is required of her and that her union with Ren is inevitable.  But when Shay Doran shows up in her life and just keeps coming, she begins to question duty and the way things have always been run.  Will she be able to figure out what is true and who to trust before it is too late?

Things I Liked:
I really liked the Guardian/Keepers/Searchers mythos.  The dynamics, history, and ideas behind these paranormals was so intriguing, definitely helping it stand above the pack (ha ha).  I loved when she was learning about what might or might not be true in her world and the fact that she has to start questioning everything she's been told.  The wolf pack aspect was pretty fun too - I liked how Cremer developed them and how they relied upon one another.  Also, the second half of the book, once the action picks up, was certainly pulse-pounding and thrilling.  Lots of good stuff ahead for this paranormal series (which, yes, I'm very behind on).

Things I Didn't Like:
What I really disliked the most was the romance.  It wasn't that they fell in love at first sight either.  It was a pretty good triangle, for the most part.  I just didn't like Ren or Shay.  I thought the first half of the book was Calla going from one to the other and not being able to resist either one's advances.  She'd kiss one and melt and then go to the other and repeat the same thing.  Honestly, I got tired of it.  I wanted her to leave both of them behind.  Also, some of the plot points were super obvious to me from the start.  There were a few twists I didn't see coming, but much of it I had figured out very early on.  Still, the ending left me intrigued and I'd like to see what happens next.

Wicked Lovely series by Melissa Marr

Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare

s-factor: !@
some throughout, no f-words

mrg-factor: XXX
it is a very sensual book, so lots of incidents

v-factor: ->->
those wolves know how to fight

Overall rating: *** bordering on **** 

What do you think, should I keep reading the series?  Do the love interests get better?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Outside My Usual Fare

I'm doing another Top Ten Tuesday list hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Instead of books outside my comfort zone (which, I'm not entirely sure what that would be) I'm listing ten books I read outside my usual fare (to find out what that may or may not be, check out this post):

Liked it.

Would't say I liked it, but it's important and well-written.

It was ok.

Didn't like it (except for the writing).

Didn't like it. Much.

An emotional ride. Liked it? I guess thought it was good.

Liked it.  Kinda.

Not so much.

Loved it!

It was ok.

What about you? Do you generally enjoy books outside your usual?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Monday, November 7, 2011

Listless Monday, Stormy Weather Edition

Listless Monday was inspired by both Amanda at A Bookshelf Monstrosity's feature Books by Theme and Court at Once Upon a Bookshelf's Listed feature.  Be sure to check out their lists!

It's the time of the year for winter storms, so I thought I'd gather together some books about storms/tempests/gales/hurricanes and anything else stormy I could think of. 

Stormy Weather


After the Snow by S.D. Crockett
Frost by Wendy Delsol
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Ice by Sarah Beth Durst
Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer
Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker
The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger
The Scorch Trials by James Dashner
Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

Storm Glass by Maria V. Snyder
Storm Runners by Roland Smith
Storm Warning by Linda Sue Parker
Tempest: A Novel by Julie Cross
The Tempest by William Shakespeare
Trapped by Michael Northrop
The White Darkness by Geraldine McCaughrean
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

Any suggestions? 

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage
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