Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Review: The Promised World by Lisa Tucker

Book Info:
The Promised World by Lisa Tucker
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Atria (September 1, 2009)
ISBN-13: 978-416575382
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source: Publisher/Blog Tour
Rating: 4/5

On a March afternoon, while Lila Cole is working in her quiet office, her twin brother Billy points an unloaded rifle out of a hotel window, closing down a city block. "Suicide by police" was obviously Billy's intended result, but the aftermath of his death brings shock after shock for Lila when she discovers that her brilliant but troubled twin -- the person she revered and was closer to than anyone in the world -- was not only estranged from his wife, but also charged with endangering the life of his middle child and namesake, eight-year-old William.

As Lila struggles to figure out what was truth and what was fiction in her brother's complicated past, her job, her marriage, and even her sanity will be put at risk. And when the hidden meaning behind Billy's stories comes to light, she will have to act before Billy's children are destroyed by the same heartbreaking reality that shattered her protector and twin more than twenty years ago.

I first heard Lisa Tucker's name mentioned on a Paperback Swap forum post a few years ago. The thread focused on highlighting authors you loved, but who weren't terribly well known. Lisa Tucker's name was new to me, but her books immediately caught my eye. I read The Song Reader right away and was thrilled to participate in this blog tour so that I could read her newest book.

The Promised World has a confusing feel to it. It's not that the writing is hard to understand or follow, but that Lila has huge gaps in what she can remember about her childhood. The details are revealed to Lila and the reader at the same time and disjointed telling

I didn't really like Lila too much as a character. I thought she came across as weak and passive. While it's obvious from the beginning of the book that something happened in her childhood, I had a hard time with her acceptance of her history being handed to her, with no questions asked.

Even though I didn't really click with Lila it didn't slow the story down at all. The story moved along very fast and I found The Promised World very hard to put down. I will definitely continue to read Lisa Tucker's back list. 4 stars

Thank you to TLC Book Tours and be sure to check out the other tour stops.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Library Event with Sandra Dallas

I live in a fairly small town and have to admit that I don't spend very much time at my local library. The joke in our house is that I have more books sitting around than our library does...

But, when Sandra Dallas made a visit to our library last Tuesday night I knew it was an event I didn't want to miss. Ms. Dallas has a wonderful sense of humor and treated our group of about 50 people to a wonderful talk covering a wide variety of topics.

Some of the highlights included:

On Writing: Ms Dallas made the comment that most books about writing are hogwash, but she did mention two, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott and Lessons from a Lifetime of Writing: A Novelist Looks at His Craft by David Morrell, that she said were well worth reading.

On Ideas: "Ideas choose me" was how Ms Dallas opened up this section of her talk. She mentioned Buster Midnight's Cafe as an example of how the plot, characters, setting and first line of the book just came to her as she was walking through her house one day. She changed direction to get the ideas down and said she was glad she did. Even though many of the pieces of the book changed slightly the first line remained the same through all the edits.

Ms Dallas was asked if she took suggestions from readers on what to write about next and her answer was a very quick "no". She said that if she was going to spend a year or so writing about a topic she wanted the idea to come from her alone.

On Characters: Ms Dallas said that she has never intentionally patterned a character in a book after someone in her life, but that it does happen. She mentioned a character in her book Tallgrass very closely resembles her father, but she didn't realize it until the book was finished. Ms Dallas said the character she most resembles is Mattie, from The Diary of Mattie Spenser, but Mattie is more how she wishes she was.

On Book Covers: Ms Dallas prefers covers to be accurate rather than want those that sell. She pointed out some inaccuracies on the cover of The Diary of Mattie Spenser and talked about all the revisions that were done to get the cover of Prayers for Sale right.

On Her Upcoming Book: Ms Dallas' next book is titled Whiter Than Snow and is set in the 1920's. It centers around a small town and an avalanche that carries away 9 children, 4 of whom survive.

I really enjoyed hearing Sandra Dallas speak and can't wait to pick up more of her books. Tallgrass has been languishing on my shelves for too long, and this has inspired me to move it up the pile.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Review: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Book Info:
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Scholastic Press (September 14, 2008)
ISBN-13: 978-0439023481
Genre: Young Adult
Source: Library
Rating: 4.5/5

Katniss is a 16-year-old girl living with her mother and younger sister in the poorest district of Panem, the remains of what used be the United States. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, "The Hunger Games." The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed. When Kat's sister is chosen by lottery, Kat steps up to go in her place.

I'm not going to do a full fledged review of The Hunger Games as it has been all over the blogland for months and months. I do want to mention that this book is completely out of my normal genre and because of that I held off on reading it even though bloggers everywhere were raving about it. What finally changed my mind was a trip to my library where The Hunger Games was just sitting on the front desk, waiting to be checked out. Now, I wish I hadn't waited so long to read it.

One question for those of you who first read this when it came out....Did you know how it was going to end? Obviously, we now all know that there will be two more books in the trilogy, and that alone gives a bit away. Not that I was disappointed, I loved the book, but I just wondered if the early readers knew at the beginning that there was more to the story...

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Review: Dragon House by John Shors

Book Info:
Dragon House by John Shors
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: NAL Trade (September 1, 2009)
ISBN-13: 9780451227850
Genre: Multicultural Fiction, Contemporary Fiction
Source: For review
Rating: 3/5

Set in modern-day Vietnam, Dragon House tells the tale of Iris and Noah—two Americans who, as a way of healing their own painful pasts, open a center to house and educate Vietnamese street children.

Iris and Noah find themselves reborn in an exotic land filled with corruption and chaos, sacrifice and beauty. Inspired by the street children she meets, Iris walks in the footsteps of her father, a man whom Vietnam both shattered and saved. Meanwhile, Noah slowly rediscovers himself through the eyes of an unexpected companion.

I first heard John Shors name mentioned by other historical fiction lovers at Paperback Swap. They all gave rave reviews to Beneath a Marble Sky and some even named it as their favorite book last year. With these glowing recommendations for Shors I expected to love Dragon House, but I ended up being a little disappointed.

My favorite part of Dragon House was the setting. I love to travel and since I don't get the opportunity much, I have to settle for traveling through my books. Shors love of Vietnam and it's residents comes through loud and clear. The descriptions of the children and their time on the streets rings true.

What didn't work for me quite as well were the characters. I found them to be a little underdeveloped. At the end of the book I really didn't feel like I knew any of them very well. Their actions seemed a little predictable and there wasn't much to set them apart for me. The message of the book, healing through helping others, is a good one, but it also felt a little heavy handed at times.

While I didn't fall in love with Dragon House I am still really looking forward to reading Beneath a Marble Sky. 3 stars

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

100+ Challenge Wrap-Up

For me, the 100+ Reading Challenge is officially over. I finished my 100th book over the weekend. I'll still continue to list my books read and link to my reviews, but it's nice to be able to mark one more challenge off the list.

Here are my 100 books:

1. Case Histories by Kate Atkinson (review), finished 01/03/092. Girlbomb: A Halfway Homeless Memoir by Janice Erlbaum (review), finished 01/04/09
3. Damage Control by JA Jance (review), finished 1/05/09
4. The Jewel of Medina by Sherry Jones (review), finished 1/08/09
5. Bitter is the New Black : Confessions of a Condescending, Egomaniacal, Self-Centered Smartass,Or, Why You Should Never Carry A Prada Bag to the Unemployment Office by Jen Lancaster (review), finished 1/13/08
6. Invisible Prey by John Sandford (review), finished 1/20/09
7. Tell Me Where It Hurts: A Day of Humor, Healing and Hope in My Life as an Animal Surgeon by Nick Trout (review), finished 1/24/09
8. Delicate Edible Birds: And Other Stories by Lauren Groff (review), finished 1/27/09
9. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford (review), finished 1/29/09
10. Mighty Queens of Freeville, The: A Mother, a Daughter, and the Town That Raised Them by Amy Dickinson (review), finished 1/31/09
11. Down to a Sunless Sea by Mathias B. Freese (review), finished 1/31/09
12. Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell (review), audio, finished 2/02/09
13. The Survivors Club: The Secrets and Science that Could Save Your Life by Ben Sherwood (review), audio, finished 2/03/09
14. The Help by Kathryn Stockett (review), finished 02/06/09
15. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher (review), audio, finished 2/09/09
16. Waiting to Surface by Emily Listfield (review), finished 2/11/09
17. A Child's Journey out of Autism: One Family's Story of Living in Hope and Finding a Cure by Leeann Whiffen (review), finished 2/13/09
18. Mixed Blood by Roger Smith (review), finished 2/16/09
19. The Broken Window by Jeffery Deaver (review), finished 2/18/09
20. 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson (review), finished 2/20/09
21. Dry by Augusten Burroughs (review), finished 2/21/09
22. Forgive Me by Amanda Eyre Ward (review), finished 2/23/09
23. A Countess Below Stairs by Eva Ibbotson (review), finished 2/24/09
24. Bahama Burnout by Don Bruns (review), finished 3/01/09
25. Siam Nights: A Love Story by JF Gump (review), finished 3/05/09
26. Looking for Alaska by John Green (review), audio, finished 3/05/09
27. The Girl She Used to Be by David Cristofano (review), finished 3/07/09
28. Catching Genius by Kristy Kiernan (review), finished 3/07/09
29. Impulse by Ellen Hopkins (review), finished 3/10/09
30. The Plague by Joanne Dahme (review), finished 3/12/09
31. Life on the Refrigerator Door: Notes Between a Mother and Daughter by Alice Kuipers (review), audio, finished 3/14/09
32. Honolulu by Alan Brennert (review), finished 3/18/09
33. Secret Daughter: A Mixed-Race Daughter and the Mother Who Gave Her Away by June Cross (review), finished 3/24/09
34. Illegal by Paul Levine (review), finished 3/27/09
35. Breakneck by Erica Spindler (review), finished 3/28/09
36. Briar Rose by Jane Yolen (review), finished 3/30/09
37. BoneMan's Daughters by Ted Dekker (review), finished 4/03/0938. A Pearl in the Storm: How I Found My Heart in the Middle of the Ocean by Tori Murden McClure (review), finished 4/06/09
39. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett (review), finished 4/08/09
40. Invisible Sisters by Jessica Handler (review), finished 4/09/09
41. Resistance by Anita Shreve (review), finished 4/13/09
42. The Simplest of Acts: And Other Stories by Melanie Haney (review), finished 4/14/09
43. A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb (review), finished 4/16/09
44. A Lucky Child: A Memoir of Surviving Auschwitz as a Young Boy by Thomas Buergenthal (review), finished 4/19/09
45. Killing the Shadows by Val McDermid (review), audio, finished 4/24/09
46. Mistress of the Sun by Sandra Gulland (review), finished 4/26/09
47. Bloom by Elizabeth Scott (review), finished 5/01/09
48. The World in Half by Cristina Henriquez (review), finished 5/04/09
49. Umbrella Summer by Lisa Graff (review coming soon), finished 5/05/09
50. My Antonia by Willa Cather (review), audio, finished 5/10/09
51. The Virgin Blue by Tracy Chevalier (review), finished 5/12/09
52. Sleep Toward Heaven by Amanda Eyre Ward (review), finished 5/16/09
53. Coraline by Neil Gaiman (review coming soon), audio, finished 5/17/09
54. Outcasts United: A Refugee Team, an American Town by Warren St. John (review), finished 5/20/09
55. Precious by Sandra Novack (review), finished 5/22/09
56. Defending Angels by Mary Stanton (review), finished 5/24/09
57. Angel's Advocate by Mary Stanton (review), finished 5/25/09
58. Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler (review), finished 5/27/09
59. Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell (review), audio, finished 5/30/09
60. Best Intentions by Emily Listfield (review), finished 5/31/09
61. A Final Arc of Sky: A Memoir of Critical Care by Jennifer Culkin (review), finished 6/04/09
62. True Colors by Kristin Hannah (review), finished 6/06/09
63. Run for Your Life by James Patterson (review), finished 6/09/09
64. Just Take My Heart by Mary Higgins Clark (review coming soon), finished 6/11/09
65. Notes From The Underbelly by Risa Green (review), finished 6/15/09
66. Perfection: A Memoir of Betrayal and Renewal by Julie Metz (review coming soon), finished 6/18/09
67. The Blue Notebook by James Levine (review), finished 6/21/09
68. The Rossetti Letter by Christi Phillips (review), finished 6/22/09
69. The Devlin Diary by Christi Phillips (review), finished 6/28/09
70. Lost Boy by Brent Jeffs (review), finished 6/29/09
71. Good Harbor by Anita Diamant (review coming soon), finished 6/30/09
72. The Associate by John Grisham (review), finished 7/01/09
73. Lifeguard by James Patterson (review), finished 7/02/09
74. Beach Road by James Patterson (review), finished 7/04/09
75. The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen (review), finished 7/07/09
76. The 8th Confession by James Patterson (review), finished 7/08/09
77. Loitering with Intent by Stuart Woods (review coming soon), finished 7/09/09
78. Handle with Care by Jodi Picoult (review), finished 7/12/09
79. Honey, It's All in the Shoes: Celebrating the Footsteps of the Contemporary Woman by Phyllis Norton Hoffman (review), finished 7/16/09
80. What I Thought I Knew by Alice Eve Cohen (review), finished 7/19/09
81. The Natural Laws of Good Luck: A Memoir of an Unlikely Marriage by Ellen Graf (review), finished 7/20/09
82. Lost Girls by George D. Shuman (review coming soon), finished 7/25/09
83. Phantom Prey by John Sandford (review coming soon), finished 7/28/09
84. Blue Heaven by CJ Box (review coming soon), finished 7/31/09
85. Picking Cotton: Our Memoir of Injustice and Redemption by Jennifer Thompson-Cannino and Ronald Cotton (review), finished 8/02/09
86. The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams (review), finished 8/05/09
87. The End of the Alphabet CS Richardson (review), finished 8/08/09
88. The White Queen by Philippa Gregory (review), finished 8/12/09
89. Undone by Karin Slaughter (review), finished 8/14/09
90. Dead Time by Stephen White (review), finished 8/16/09
91. Crime Seen by Victoria Laurie (review coming soon), finished 8/19/09
92. Wicked Prey by John Sandford (review coming soon), finished 8/20/09
93. Death Perception by Victoria Laurie (review coming soon), finished 8/25/09
94. Mounting Fears by Stuart Woods (review coming soon), finished 8/26/09
95. The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig (review), finished 8/29/09
96. The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry (review), finished 9/01/09
97. The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan (review), audio, finished 9/07/09
98. Deeper by Megan Hart (review coming soon), finished 9/08/09
99. Dead Time by Stephen White (review coming soon), finished 9/09/09
100. Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr (review coming soon), audio, finished 9/12/09

Thursday, September 17, 2009

BBAW: Influenced by bloggers...

I've always read a fairly wide variety of books, but since I started blogging my reminder list just keeps growing and growing. I've discovered a lot of books from other bloggers that I never would have picked up on my own. The best example of this is The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.

I'm sure The Hunger Games will get mentioned a lot by other bloggers today, but I took a lot of convincing to finally pick it up. While I really enjoy YA books, the futuristic aspect of The Hunger Games had me convinced I wouldn't like it. I'm glad to say I was mistaken! Now, I can't wait to snag a copy of Catching Fire.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

BBAW - Reading Meme

Do you snack while you read? If so, favorite reading snack? Anything I can eat one handed

Do you tend to mark your books as you read, or does the idea of writing in books horrify you? No writing in my books!

How do you keep your place while reading a book? Bookmark? Dog-ears?Laying the book flat open? Bookmark or scrap of paper

Fiction, Non-fiction, or both? Both

Hard copy or audio books? Both

Are you a person who tends to read to the end of chapters, or are you able to put a book down at any point? I prefer to stop at chapter breaks

If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you stop to look it up right away? Nope, I'm lazy

What are you currently reading? A Disobedient Girl by Ru Freeman

What is the last book you bought? Pre ordered An Echo in the Bone

Are you the type of person that only reads one book at a time or can you read more than one at a time? Usually more than one

Do you have a favorite time of day and/or place to read? At lunch is the only guaranteed quiet time

Do you prefer series books or stand alone books? Stand alone book as more series get disappointing over time

Is there a specific book or author that you find yourself recommending over and over? The Outlander Series

How do you organize your books? (By genre, title, author’s last name, etc.?) By size

Countdown Challenge Wrap-Up (2009)

Yesterday I signed up for the 2010 version of the Countdown Challenge. As I mentioned, I wasn't quite able to finish the 2009 challenge, but I did come close!

2009 - Completed
1. Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell (review)
2. Lethal Legacy by Linda Fairstein (review)
7. The Help by Kathryn Stockett (review)
9. Mixed Blood by Roger Smith (review)

2008 - Completed
2. The Third Angel by Alice Hoffman (review)
3. The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson (review)
4. The Girl Who Stopped Swimming by Joshilyn Jackson (review)
6. Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah (review)
7. Her Last Death by Susanna Sonnenberg (review)
8. Fractured by Karin Slaughter (review)

2007 - Completed
1. Book of the Dead by Patricia Cornwell (review)
2. Absolute Fear by Lisa Jackson (review)
3. Shoot Him If He Runs by Stuart Woods (review)
4. Invisible Prey by John Sandford (review)
5. Down to a Sunless Sea by Mathias B. Freese (review)
6. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher (review)
7. Waiting to Surface by Emily Listfield (review)

4. Beach Road by James Patterson (review)

2005 - Completed
3. 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson (review)
4. Looking for Alaska by John Green (review)
5. A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb (review)

1. Case Histories by Kate Atkinson (review)

2003 - Completed
1. Dry by Augusten Burroughs (review)
2. The Virgin Blue by Tracy Chevalier (review)
3. Sleep Toward Heaven by Amanda Eyre Ward (review)


2001 - Completed
1. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett (review)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Countdown Challenge 2010

I signed up for the Countdown Challenge last year, and wasn't quite able to finish it. But, I had so much fun and read some books that had been on my shelf forever so I am going to give it another try this year.

1. The goal of this challenge is to read the number of books first published in a given year that corresponds to the last digit of each year in the 2000s — 10 books from 2010, 9 books from 2009, 8 books from 2008, etc. The total number of books required, therefore, is 55.
2. This challenge lasts from 9/9/09 through 10/10/10.
3. Crossovers with other challenges are allowed and your lists may change at any time.
4. Sign up using Mr. Linky.
5. Have fun reading!

2010 - Completed
1. Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier (review coming soon)
2. Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin (review coming soon)
3. Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah (review)
4. Some Girls: My Life in a Harem by Jillian Lauren
5. Kisser by Stuart Woods
6. Avenging Angels by Mary Stanton
7. The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan
8. Still Missing by Chevy Stevens
9. Lucid Intervals by Stuart Woods
10. Secrets of Eden by Chris Bohjalian

2009 - Completed1. Dragon House by John Shors (review)
2. The Promised World by Lisa Tucker (review)
3. Admission by Jean Hanff Korelitz (review)
4. Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick (review coming soon)
5. Fear the Worst by Linwood Barclay (review)
6. Hothouse Orchid by Stuart Woods (review coming soon)
7. Die for You by Lisa Unger (review coming soon), audio
8. The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown (review)
9. Lift by Rebecca K. O'Connor (review)

20081. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (review)
2. The Dirty Secrets Club by Meg Gardiner (review coming soon), audio
3. Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout (review)
4. Disquiet by Julia Leigh (review coming soon)
5. Impossible by Nancy Werlin (review)
6. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart (review)
7. A Gift from Brittany by Marjorie Price

20071. Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr (review coming soon), audio
2. Undercover by Beth Kephart (review coming soon)
3. Tallgrass by Sandra Dallas (review)
4. Bright Light, Big Ass by Jen Lancaster
5. I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You by Ally Carter

20061. The Thin Place by Kathryn Davis (review)

20051. Let Me Go by Helga Schneider (review), audio

20041. Belly Laughs: The Naked Truth about Pregnancy and Childbirth by Jenny McCarthy (review)

20031. A Dog Year: Twelve Months, Four Dogs, and Me by Jon Katz (review)


20011. The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory (review)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Book Spotlight: A Disobedient Girl by Ru Freeman

Today is my tour date for the book tour for A Disobedient Girl. Unfortunately, life got in the way...So, today will be a book spotlight post, and my review will be up in a few days.

Book Info:
A Disobedient Girl by Ru Freeman
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Atria (July 21, 2009)
ISBN-13: 9781439101957
Genre: Multi-Cultural Fiction

Set against the volatile events of the last forty years of Sri Lankan history, A Disobedient Girl traces the lives of three characters whose interwoven fates and histories force them to answer life’s most difficult questions. Beautiful, haunting, alive, and brimming with truth, it is, above all, a novel about extraordinary circumstances that change life in an instant and the power of love to transcend time and place.

The story begins with two little girls, mistress and servant, one with every luxury and opportunity that money can buy and the other with nothing but her yearning for a better life. Together, they grow up bound by love, betrayal, resentment, and an impossible secret.

Then there is Biso, a devoted mother of three, who risks everything to escape from the hands of her tyrannical husband. But her journey, which begins with such hope, takes her on a disastrous path that ultimately leads her to give her life over to strangers she never imagined she would have reason to know, binding her story with that of the girls in the most unexpected and heartbreaking of ways.

A Disobedient Girl is a compelling exploration of personal desire set against the volatile backdrop of class and prejudice, as three women journey toward their future, united by a shared history but separated by different fates. A bold and deeply moving account that spans three decades of love and loss, it is a tale about the will to survive and the incredible power of the human spirit to transcend the unforgiving sweep of tragedy.

About the Author:

Ru Freeman is a Sri Lankan writer whose political journalism and fiction has been published internationally. She lives in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania.

Her debut novel, A Disobedient Girl, will also be published in Dutch, Italian, Chinese, Portuguese and Hebrew. She calls both Sri Lanka and America home and writes about the people and countries underneath her skin.

Visit Ru Freeman’s website HERE.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Review: Dead Time by Stephen White

Book Info:
Dead Time by Stephen White
Paperback: 464 pages
Publisher: Signet; (August 4, 2009)
ISBN-13: 9780451223777
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Rating: 4/5

Psychologist Alan Gregory is struggling to deal with his newly adopted son and repair his shaky, though generally improving, marriage. Then Alan'x ex-wife, Merideth, reappears, seeking help she feels only Alan can give. Suddenly Alan is pulled into a mystery that reaches back years to a camping trip at the Grand Canyon involving Merideths's fiance' and five friends whose lives were changed forever when a young woman mysteriously vanished from the Canyon floor.

I have been reading this series for years. I get a little behind at times, but these are characters I feel comfortable with. It usually doesn't take me long to get back into the rhythm of White's books. Dead Time started out a little rough for me though. The sentences seemed long and meandering, with lots of parentheses and dashes. Once I got used to the feeling of his writing again it moved along a little smoother.

Alan is a really likeable character. He is solid and someone you can count on. In Dead Time his marriage to Lauren is going through a rough patch and he didn't seem quite as reliable as usual. This was a good thing though, as sometimes he comes across as a little too unflappable. I've never been a fan of Lauren's though, so I wasn't sad to see her part in the book was minimal.

Another of my favorite aspects of this series is that it is set in Boulder, CO. I grew up near there and love to see all the familiar landmarks mentioned. It makes me feel a bit closer to the characters. Not much of Dead Time is set in Colorado, but this is still a solid installment to the series. 4 stars

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Review: The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

Book Info:
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers; (March 10, 2009)
ISBN-13: 9780385736817
Genre: Young Adult
Rating: 3.5/5

In Mary's world there are simple truths. The Sisterhood always knows best. The Guardians will protect and serve. The Unconsecrated will never relent. And you must always mind the fence that surrounds the village; the fence that protects the village from the Forest of Hands and Teeth. But, slowly, Mary's truths are failing her. She's learning things she never wanted to know about the Sisterhood and its secrets, and the Guardians and their power, and about the Unconsecrated and their relentlessness. When the fence is breached and her world is thrown into chaos, she must choose between her village and her future: between the one she loves and the one who loves her. And she must face the truth about the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Could there be life outside a world surrounded in so much death?

The Forest of Hands and Teeth is not my usual kind of book. I really enjoy YA books, but tend to gravitate more towards those that deal with social issues. I don't really get into the paranormal or sci/fi books. I'd seen The Forest of Hands and Teeth mentioned on a few blogs, saw the audio come though the library, but passed it up. But then I saw Beth mention how the narrator was amazing, and for that reason alone, I decided to give it a try.

And even though this wasn't my usual type of book I'm glad I listened to it. The narrator, Vane Millon, was wonderful. The story was compelling, but her narration really made the book stand out. She didn't really focus on character voices as much as some narrators do, and that worked fine for me. It was her inflection and emotion that really came through and made this book really stand out.

Mary was an interesting character. She's always led a sheltered life. She's been told this is your path in life and she followed that path right along with everyone else. It is once she starts questioning the status quo that the book gets interesting. I love seeing her struggle with the safety of what she knows against the draw of what might be.I started this audio not too long after I read The Chosen One (review), and even though the setting are very different, the characters went through many of the same struggles.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth is the first book in a trilogy. The second, The Dead-Tossed Waves will be coming out in Spring 2010 and the third will be out Spring 2011. I will be on the look out for the audio versions of these for sure. 3.5 stars

Friday, September 4, 2009

Review: The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry

Book Info:
The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry
Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Harper Paperbacks (August 18, 2009)
ISBN-13: 9780061624773
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4/5

Towner Whitney, the self-confessed unreliable narrator, hails from a family of Salem women who can read the future in the patterns in lace, and who have guarded a history of secrets going back generations. Now the disappearance of two women is bringing Towner back home to Salem - and is bringing to light the shocking truth about the death of her twin sister.

The Lace Reader is filled with wonderful characters. Towner is a fascinating. I love flawed characters, and I especially love characters who don't try to hide their flaws. She lays all her faults and family history on the table right at the beginning. Eva is another character I would have loved to spend more time with. We mostly get to know her through other characters memories, but you can tell she is a wonderful, caring person.

The atmosphere in The Lace Reader is haunting. There is an air of mystery that hangs over the whole book like a fog. And like a fog, you don't get the whole story revealed to you at once. The story is slowly pieced together, and it comes together perfectly.

My one complaint about the book is the similarity to another book I read a year or two ago. I hate any kind of spoiler so I won't mention the other title, but I was a little disappointed that The Lace Reader wasn't as original as it first appeared to be. Overall, The Lace Reader was a captivating story and I would recommend it. 4 stars

Thank you to TLC Book Tours for organizing this tour

Some additional info about the book:

Soon, will also have a downloadable t-shirt iron-on design and printable signage for booksellers.

In the September issue of Book Page, there will be a sweepstakes in which the grand prize is a trip for two to Salem, two nights at The Hawthorne Hotel, and a guided Lace Reader tour of Salem with Brunonia.

Brunonia is also headed back out on tour. Check the link for the schedule and to see if there is a stop near you.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The White Queen Winner!

Thank you to all who entered my giveaway for a copy of The White Queen by Philippa Gregory.

The lucky winner is....gaby317

If you didn't win and can't wait any longer to read The White Queen by Philippa Gregory you can purchase it by clicking on the link.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Review: The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig

Book Info:
The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig
Paperback: 464 pages
Publisher: NAL Trade (December 27, 2005)
ISBN-13: 9781863254786
Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Romance
Rating: 2.5/5

Nothing ever goes right for Eloise. The day she wears her new suede boots, it rains. When the subway stops short, she's the one thrown into some stranger's lap. And she's had her share of misfortune in the way of love. So, after deciding that romantic heroes must be a thing of the past, Eloise is ready for a fresh start.

Setting off for England, Eloise is determined to finish her dissertation on two spies, the Scarlet Pimpernel and the Purple Gentian. But what she discovers is something historians have missed: the secret history of the Pink Carnation-the most elusive spy of all time. As she works to unmask this obscure spy, Eloise has more and more questions. Like, how did the Pink Carnation save England from Napoleon? What became of the Scarlet Pimpernel and the Purple Gentian? And will Eloise Kelly escape her bad luck and find a living, breathing hero of her own?

I have a bad habit when it comes to series books. If I hear of a series that sounds interesting I will immediately start collecting all the books in the series that are already published. I know that I really should read a book or two and decide if I even like the series before I do this, but for some reason I can't help myself...The Secret History of the Pink Carnation is a great example of why I really need to do this, as this book just wasn't for me. Luckily, I think I only have the first three in the series.

I would consider The Secret History of the Pink Carnation more historical romance than historical fiction, and if I'd known this before reading the book I probably wouldn't have even picked it up. While there were a few historical details in the book, the story could have been set in pretty much any time period. The plot pretty much revolved around the attraction of the main characters with a little mystery thrown in to break things up.

I found Amy, the main character in the historical setting, annoying. She was determined to be a spy, but I found her to be scattered and almost dim-witted. She jumped to some of the most ridiculous conclusions. I think this must have been meant to be charming in a funny sort of way, but it didn't work for me.

Eloise, the main character in the modern setting, hardly showed up in the book at all. As she is supposed to be the link that ties all the books together I was surprised how little of her we see. I didn't find her part all that inspiring either. The brief glimpses we see of her are pretty standard chick lit.

I know there are lots of people who like this series, but it didn't work for me at all and I won't continue reading it. If you enjoy your historical books with more romance in them, this may be a series for you. 2.5 stars