Monthly Archives: May 2012

Mailbox Monday

Welcome to Mailbox Monday, a meme started by Marcia of  A Girl and Her Books.  The host for May’s Mailbox Monday posts will be Martha at Martha’s Bookshelf.

Mailbox Monday is a gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week and explore great book blogs.

Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists.

Books that came in my mailbox this week:

The Pleasures of Men by Kate Williams from Hyperion

“Catherine Sorgeiul lives with her Uncle in a rambling house in London’s East End. She has few companions and little to occupy the days beyond her own colourful imagination. But then a murderer strikes, ripping open the chests of young girls and stuffing hair into their mouths to resemble a beak, leading the press to christen him The Man of Crows. And as Catherine hungrily devours the news, she finds she can channel the voices of the dead … and comes to believe she will eventually channel The Man of Crows himself.

But the murders continue to panic the city and Catherine gradually realizes she is snared in a deadly trap, where nothing is as it first appears … and lurking behind the lies Catherine has been told are secrets more deadly and devastating than anything her imagination can conjure.”

Granddad, There’s a Head on the Beach by Colin Cotterill from St. Martin’s Press (a win from ShelfAwareness)

“In rural Thailand, former crime reporter Jimm Juree must grapple with her quirky family, a mysterious mother and daughter on the lam and the small matter of a head on the beach.
When Jimm Juree’s mother sold the family house and invested in a rundown ‘holiday camp’ at the southern end of Thailand on the Gulf of Siam, the family had little choice but to follow. Jimm Juree, who was well on her way to achieving her goal of becoming the primary crime reporter for the major daily newspaper in Chiang Mai, is less than thrilled to have lost her job as a reporter and to be stuck in the middle of nowhere where little of interest happens. So it is with mixed feelings that she greets the news that a head has washed up on the beach. It’s tragic, of course, but this could be the sort of sensational murder that would get her a byline in a major daily and keep her toehold on her journalism career. Now all she has to do is find out who was murdered, and why.”
The Lower River by Paul Theroux from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
“Ellis Hock never believed that he would return to Africa. He runs an old-fashioned menswear store in a small town in Massachusetts but still dreams of his Eden, the four years he spent in Malawi with the Peace Corps, cut short when he had to return to take over the family business. When his wife leaves him, taking the family home, he realizes that there is one place for him to go: back to Malawi on the remote Lower River, where he can be happy again.   Arriving at the dusty village, he finds it transformed: the school he built is a ruin, the church and clinic are gone, and poverty and apathy have set in among the people. They remember him — the White Man with no fear of snakes — and welcome him. But is his new life, his journey back, an escape or a trap? “
The Orphan Master by Jean Zimmerman from Viking (this is the hardback – I received the ARC of this book I received back in early April)
“It’s 1663 in the tiny, hardscrabble Dutch colony of New Amsterdam, now present-day southern Manhattan. Orphan children are going missing, and among those looking into the mysterious state of affairs are a quick-witted twenty-two-year-old trader, Blandine von Couvering, herself an orphan, and a dashing British spy named Edward Drummond.Suspects abound, including the governor’s wealthy nephew, a green-eyed aristocrat with decadent tastes; an Algonquin trapper who may be possessed by a demon that turns people into cannibals; and the colony’s own corrupt and conflicted orphanmaster. Both the search for the killer and Edward and Blandine’s newfound romance are endangered, however, when Blandine is accused of being a witch and Edward is sentenced to hang for espionage. Meanwhile, war looms as the English king plans to wrest control of the colony.”

A Once Crowded Sky by Tom King from Simon & Schuster
“The superheroes of Arcadia City fight a wonderful war, and play a wonderful game, forever saving yet another day. However, after sacrificing both their powers and Ultimate, the greatest hero of them all, to defeat the latest apocalypse, these comic book characters are transformed from the marvelous into the mundane. After too many battles won and too many friends lost, The Soldier of Freedom was fine letting all that glory go. But when a new threat blasts through his city, Soldier, as ever, accepts his duty and reenlists in this next war. Without his once amazing abilities, he’s forced to seek the help of the one man who walked away, the sole hero who refused to make the sacrifice— PenUltimate, the sidekick of Ultimate, who through his own rejection of the game has become the most powerful man in the world, the only one left who might still, once again, save the day. “
For my Kindle I got:
Sleepers by Megg Jensen
“An adoptee raised in a foreign land, sixteen-year-old Lianne was content with her life as handmaiden to the queen, until a spell cast on her at birth activated. Now she’s filled with uncontrollable rage and access to magic she thought had been bled from her people years ago. Even her years of secret training in elite hand-to-hand combat and meditation can’t calm the fires raging inside her.

Her heart is torn between two boys, the one she’s always loved and the one who always ignored her. But when the kingdom threatens to tear itself apart due to rumors surrounding the queen’s alleged affair, who will Lianne protect and who will she destroy?”

Brisingr by Christopher Paolini
“Following the colossal battle against the Empire’s warriors on the Burning Plains, Eragon and his dragon, Saphira, have narrowly escaped with their lives. Still there is more at hand for the Rider and his dragon, as Eragon finds himself bound by a tangle of promises he may not be able to keep.

First is Eragon’s oath to his cousin Roran: to help rescue Roran’s beloved, Katrina, from King Galbatorix’s clutches. But Eragon owes his loyalty to others, too. The Varden are in desperate need of his talents and strength—as are the elves and dwarves. When unrest claims the rebels and danger strikes from every corner, Eragon must make choices— choices that take him across the Empire and beyond, choices that may lead to unimagined sacrifice.”

What books came into your home this past week?

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Review – “Life As We Knew It”

Life As We Knew It (Last Survivors #1) by Susan Beth Pfeffer
Released: October 2006
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Age Group: Young Adult
Pages: 337
Source: Library

From Goodreads:

“Miranda’s disbelief turns to fear in a split second when a meteor knocks the moon closer to the earth. How should her family prepare for the future when worldwide tsunamis wipe out the coasts, earthquakes rock the continents, and volcanic ash blocks out the sun? As summer turns to Arctic winter, Miranda, her two brothers, and their mother retreat to the unexpected safe haven of their sunroom, where they subsist on stockpiled food and limited water in the warmth of a wood-burning stove.

Told in journal entries, this is the heart-pounding story of Miranda’s struggle to hold on to the most important resource of all–hope–in an increasingly desperate and unfamiliar world.”

My review:

As I’ve mentioned before, I really enjoy dystopian novels, whether they involve zombies or not.  Another blogger, Brittany, read this book before me and said, “It was dystopian without having to go far into the future and very realistic. It really made me think that things like this could really happen and how scary that would be!”  After reading it, I totally agree.  While the story didn’t have super fantastical elements, such as virus’, walking dead, survival camps, mass evacuations or martial law, the very fact that it is realistic is the scary part!

A large meteor hits the moon, and shifts it’s orbit.  As the moon gets closer to earth, tsunamis, floods, earthquakes and erupting volcanoes decimate thousands of acres, cities and even entire states, hundreds of thousands of people are dead, and the government systems are defunct.  Miranda’s mother immediately tasks the family with filling multiple shopping carts with non-perishable food, hygiene products and first aid supplies.   When Miranda’s oldest brother, Matt, returns from college they begin chopping and stockpiling wood, months prior to winter.

As the season’s progress and food sources run low, the electricity is out, natural gas is gone, the well runs dry and schools close down.  The family’s world gets smaller and smaller as communication ceases, gasoline supply is exhausted, the volcanic ash turns the sky gray and the air polluted, the family is confined to their home.  Diseases spread, the volcanic ash has killed their garden and there is no more food to be had, their strength wanes and lack of privacy wears on their disposition.

Miranda’s father and his new wife, Lisa, are expecting a baby, but are unable to reach the kids since the phone system has been down.  As the rare radio station program reads lists of the dead, the future seems very uncertain, and in fact, improbable.  Miranda doesn’t know if her father is dead or alive, if Lisa has had her baby, or if they are even still alive.  As asthma, infections and the flu spread in Miranda’s hometown, the remaining citizens begin leaving for other places in hopes of finding a utopia in the midst of despair.

The scary part of this book is the fact that it is so realistic.  While a zombie apocalypse probably won’t happen, a major depression, or some natural or nuclear disaster is possible, and the results would probably be much the same as a large meteor displacing the moon.  Lack of electricity, sporadic news or  lack of wide spread communication, rations on gas – all of these things have already happened with lesser cause.  (Consider Hurricane Katrina for example.) While this novel is a work of fiction, it deals with a future that could be very realistic.

Now, excuse me while I empty my truck, and head to Sam’s Club to buy in bulk….

I rated this book a 3.5 out of 5.  I enjoyed it.

Other reviews on this book can be found here:

TeenReads

Books N Tea

And the book trailer:

The second book in the Last Survivor series, The Dead and the Gone, also has a book trailer:

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Review – “A Stolen Life”

 

From Goodreads:

“In the summer of 1991 I was a normal kid. I did normal things. I had friends and a mother who loved me. I was just like you. Until the day my life was stolen.  For eighteen years I was a prisoner. I was an object for someone to use and abuse.

For eighteen years I was not allowed to speak my own name. I became a mother and was forced to be a sister. For eighteen years I survived an impossible situation.

On August 26, 2009, I took my name back. My name is Jaycee Lee Dugard. I don’t think of myself as a victim. I survived.

A Stolen Life is my story—in my own words, in my own way, exactly as I remember it.”

My review:

Before I read A Stolen Life I saw an interview with Jaycee Dugard by Diane Sawyer, and was amazed at her inner strength and positive attitude.  She didn’t act or present herself as a victim, she wasn’t full of hate or regret, but was thankful for her freedom, her family and her daughters.  When I saw her autobiography at the library, I wanted to read it.  If she had presented herself negatively in her interview, I probably wouldn’t have picked up her book.

She describes her abduction and subsequent abuse with candor, but as tastefully as possible.  The book isn’t full of gory sexual details, but she tells you enough to understand her abductor’s sickness and that he is the father of her children.  She misses her mother and sister, but rarely mentions them in her journals because it is so painful.  The book tells the story of her life during her captivity, of the animals that kept her company, her tentative relationship with her abductor’s wife, the birth of her daughters, and her desire for them to learn what they were missing by not being able to attend school.  She had only achieved a fifth grade education before her abduction, but when granted access to the internet for her abductor’s fledgling printing business, she found websites for homeschools that enabled her to educate her daughters beyond her own grade-level.

Her daughter’s were raised to believe she was their sister, and called her Alissa, a name she chose when she was told she could never use or speak of her real name.   While she longed to be the girl’s mother in their minds, she knew that she has to cooperate with her abductor to keep her girl’s safe.  Her first child was born when she was 14 yrs old, and her second child followed two year later.  When she was 29 she finally admitted to concerned officers who she was, and that she was the girl’s biological mother.  Her daughters were 13 and 15 at the time, and had rarely been out of the “secret backyard” that had been their home.

Her story tells of her fears and struggles after her abduction, her feelings about her abductors, her hopes to be reunited with her family, and the reunification with her family after her identity was known.  She shares such a positive outlook on her life, and appreciates her freedom and opportunities that she had given up hope of having ever again.

As a mother, this story scares me nearly to death!  To imagine my daughter going through what Jaycee went through is horrifying – to imagine not being with my daughter for 18 years is grievous.  Its something no family should ever go through.

I rated the book a 3 out of 5.  While the writing style wasn’t extremely compelling, her inner strength and love for her family made for a positive retelling of her life.

 

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Saturday Snapshot

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Alyce of At Home With Books.  It’s easy to participate – just post a picture that was taken by you, a friend, or a family member and add your link on Alyce’s site.   Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don’t post random photos that you find online.

This past week my daughter and I attended a Volunteer Appreciation lunch from the library, and they took us to a new museum in our area, the Crystal Bridges Museum.  We were allowed to take photos (with no flash), so I used my phone.  The pictures aren’t as clear as I would like, and I don’t have the title and artist for each photo, but we sure did enjoy our trip!  We’ll be visiting again this summer.

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Bookish News & Dystopian Novels

I read today that Charlaine Harris plans to end the Sookie Stackhouse series next year.

You can read the GalleyCat article here.  She said her last book, Dead Ever After, would go on sale May 2, 2013.  Deadlocked, the twelfth book in the series was release May 1, 2012, which makes Dead Ever After the thirteenth and final book in this series.

Just this morning I was going through a couple of the many books stored in my garage.  As I go through them I mark if they are part of a series, and if so, what number.  I was surprised at how many long-running series there are.  For example, Rage by Jonathan Kellerman is the 19th book in the Alex Delaware series, and Dead Midnight by Marcia Muller is the 21st book in the Sharon McCone series.  I am starting Finger Lickin’ Fifteen by Janet Evanovich as we speak.  I love long-running book series, but sometimes they run out of steam long before the author comes to closure with the series.  What are some of the series you’ve read and enjoy?

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20th Century Fox acquires self-published novel Wool by Hugh C. Howey.  Wool is a dystopian novel written in the summer of 2011, and Howey has since written another four books in the series.  Wool was picked up by Century, a division of Random House, and coincidentally the publisher for 50 Shades of Grey.  You can read the first three chapters of Wool here.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has acquired the eBook rights to “We Can Remember it For You Wholesale,” the short story by the late Philip K. Dick that inspired the Total Recall movie in 1990 and an upcoming remake.   See trailer below.

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I have become a big fan of dystopian and zombie novels this year, and here are some of my favorites that I’ve read so far:

  • Passage by Justin Cronin
  • Legend by Marie Lu
  • Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry
  • Dust & Decay by Jonathan Maberry
  • The Other Life by Susanne Winnacker
  • Hollowland byAmanda Hocking
  • Hollowmen by Amanda Hocking
  • Sundered by Shannon Mayer
  • Bound by Shannon Mayer
  • Dauntless by Shannon Mayer

Some that are on my To Be Read (TBR) list are:

  • Wool by Hugh Howey
  • Tomorrow, When the World Began by John Marsden
  • The Twelve by Justin Cronin
  • Prodigy by Marie Lu
  • Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin
  • The Remaining by D. J. Molles
  • Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
  • Patient Zero by Jonathan Maberry

I get into a type of book and I run with it – I may spend months reading Sci-Fi, then go straight to murder mysteries, or non-fiction – who knows! Right now I’m in dystopian/zombie mode and Janet Evanovich.  I’ve only got three more to go before I’m done with the Stephanie Plum series, so I’ll have to find something else to get into.  What type of books are you into right now?

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Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.  Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

Grab your current read.
Open to a random page.
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page.
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

This week my teaser is from another Janet Evanovich book – I can’t stop reading them, I just finished the fourteenth, and there are 18.  Maybe after #18 I can move on to something else!

“‘I’m feelin’ faint,’ Lula said.  ‘If he bends over one more time, I’m gonna pass out.  I can’t stop lookin’.  I’ts a train wreck.  It’s like the end of the universe.  You know, when you get sucking into that thing.  What do you call it?’

‘Black hole?’

‘Yeah, that’s it.  it’s like staring into the black hole.’

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Review – Legend by Marie Lu

Legend by Marie Lu

Synopsis by GoodReads:

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

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

Review:

This book is set in Los Angeles, CA, written from alternating viewpoints – one chapter from Day, and one chapter from June.  I’m a fan of dystopian novels anyway, and I’ve heard lots of good things about this book.  It’s been compared to the Hunger Games, but I can’t say that it grabbed me the same way.  I did enjoy the book though!  Day and June become characters you can believe in, and feel emotion for.  Although Day is labeled as a wanted criminal, his crimes resemble Robin Hood.  He steals from the rich (the government and military) for the poor.  He gives them money, food, clothes and other items he is able to steal.  He also sells things he “finds” to people who can afford them, and saves the money to take food, clothing and other necessities to his family.  All but his oldest brother, John, believe him to be dead from being sent to a work camp after his failure to pass the Trials.  Children of the Republic are tested when they turn 10 – they have to pass an interview and physical challenges as well as an intelligence test on a written exam.  Only one person in record has ever “aced” the Trials test with a score of 1500 – June Iparis.

June and Day seem to be complete opposites – one a prodigy from a wealthy family, and one a failure, reduced to stealing to feed himself, sleeping in abandoned buildings, and hiding from the Republic military.  Their paths cross in an unexpected way, and they are immediately drawn to each other.  June is recovering from the loss of her beloved brother, Captain Maties Iparis, while Day is struggling to get enough money to buy a plague cure for his youngest brother, Eden.  Their attraction is the beginning of a young romance.

As they each struggle to accomplish vastly different goals their paths continue to cross.  June is searching for her brother’s killer, and eventually believes it to be Day.  Day is struggling to feed and medicate his family, and learn the secrets of the Republic.  Will they survive their repeated interactions?  What is the Republic government hiding, and who does it affect?  Who does it betray?

I enjoyed Legend and am looking forward to the 2013 release of Prodigy.  I rate it a 3.5 out of 5.

Marie Lu started writing Legend, her debut novel, when she was only 14 years old.  Here are some excerpts from her web page – questions and answers about her work.

How did you come up with LEGEND?  One of the main characters in LEGEND, the boy criminal Day, has been in my imagination since I was 15. He started out as a teen rebel character in a fantasy novel I wrote in high school. I always had trouble thinking of a good rival or enemy for Day, though. I wanted someone who could match him.  Then, one day in 2009, I was lying on the carpet in my living room (this is how I daydream), and the movie version of Les Miserables was on. The Jean Valjean vs. Javert concept started me thinking about Day, and the central idea for LEGEND came almost right away: Day vs. an equally sharp detective agent. I was so glad that I could bring Day back to life, because he’s a character very close to my heart.

  • When is the sequel to LEGEND coming out?  Legend is the first book of a trilogy. The second book is titled Prodigy, and comes out on Jan. 29, 2013!
  • When did you start writing? I remember writing as early as 4 or 5 years old. When I was 5, I wrote a “book” (i.e. 10 sheets of notebook paper stapled together) about farm animals. I was always stapling together books of all shapes and sizes. Another time, when I was 7 or 8, I wrote out a bunch of short fairy tales about unicorns and cats, and stapled those together as well. I wrote my first “novel” (80 handwritten pages) when I was 11, a fantasy heavily influenced by Brian Jacques. I remember thinking about how to mass-produce that and bring it to the public. Little did I know there were publishers who did that …. somehow I thought every book at the library was magically distributed and printed by each individual author and delivered directly to the library. I started writing seriously at 14 when I finished my first official manuscript.
  • I hear that June started out as a boy! How would the story have been different if that were the case?  Yes, initially June started out as a boy because I was basing it off the ValJean/Javert relationship in Les Miserables, so that was the first thing that came to me. :) However, when I pitched this to my boyfriend, he immediately frowned and said, “You know, it’d be so much more interesting if the teen detective was a girl.” And all I could think was, “omg, that fits SO much better.” A lot of elements would probably have been the same–there still could’ve been a romance between the two leads either way, still the same action and the same emotional arc….but I think making June a girl added a strong female presence that was lacking from my original idea. I think she really helped round out the girls present in the story.
  • Will LEGEND ever be a movie or TV show?   I hope so! Currently CBS Films holds the film rights, with Temple Hill (Twilight) producing. I think it would make a cool movie–but then, I’m a little biased. :) I also think it’d make a great cartoon show along the lines of Avatar: The Last Airbender or Teen Titans, something for the 8-12 age group, about Day’s adventures as a boy fugitive before the events of LEGEND.  (This is good news!  I’d love to see CBS make Legend into a movie!)

Here is a link to the finalized cover art for Prodigy, as well as the exclusive first chapter on USA Today’s Book Buzz.
Other blogger’s review of Legend:
If you enjoy Legend, you will probably like:

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