Thursday, May 31, 2012

Reading Slump: Part One

I'm having one of those work related reading slumps. Massive amounts of work, looming deadline. Can't quite get into any book I've started. On the other hand, don't want a book I'm totally engrossed in either. I have the kind of job where I have no supervision- I could sit around and read all day. And no one would care- provided I meet my deadlines.

So, I need a book that starts quickly and holds your attention from the first page. But not so wonderful that you can't keep putting it down.

I need a 3 1/2 star book. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

"I Hate This Cover" of the Month- Gilt by Katherine Longshore


Yes, it's an up the nostril cover shot. Probably the third creepiest up the anatomy shot you could possibly do- although mouth and nose are close and placing either one at third creepiest is justifiable. I could go on and on about this cover. Was this shade of lips even possible in Henry the VIII's time? The fact that it looks like she's having a personal moment- of some kind- on a YA cover. But, I keep going back to the fact that I can almost see her brain (through her nostrils) in this picture.

As if this isn't bad enough, you should see this cover in real life. On the real, actual, dead tree, print book version of this book. First, this is a photo crying out for Photoshop. You know how when you put on face powder with a brush? Well, if you brush against the hairs you can see every little hair standing out with the powder clinging to it. Well, in the book's photo, they must have had a bad powdering incident because you can see all the little hairs around her nostrils. It's like a 300x zoom of a bug's leg or something. Truly gross. But, that's not the worst and final gross out about this cover. When they were applying the powder, or something, they got some on one of her nose hairs- in her nostril. So, in her left nostril (looking at the cover) there's an internal nose hair going from the upper right side of the nostril zooming towards the left side of her nostril. Yes, on the internet, the nostril looks black. With the book in my hands, you can see a nose hair. Edit: after I looking again at the cover to confirm this, I found even more powdered up facial hair. On the bottom of her bottom lip there are enough little hairs to make a catfish proud. (You can see it between the lip and the "G" and the lip between the "L" and "T".)

Review: Stay At Home Dead by Jeffrey Allen

Goodreads Summary:
When Deuce Winters, a stay-at-home dad in sleepy Rose Petal, Texas, discovers a dead body in his mini-van, it quickly throws his quiet life into disarray. It doesn't help that the victim ruined Deuce's high school football career and married his ex-girlfriend. As the number one suspect in the court of public opinion, Deuce is determined to clear his name, with a little help from his wife, Julianne, a high-powered attorney. His search for the killer leads him to a business plan gone awry and a gaggle of jilted lovers.

My Review:  
This is another cozy mystery that's due at the library. So, I had to read it. A lot of times this doesn't work well; I feel resentful while reading in this situation. I also had some major doubts about this book- the cozy field is pretty much dominated by women. In essence, I went into this book expecting to hate it. To my surprise, I finished this book in less than 24 hours. 

For the most part, I liked the main character who is a stay at home dad. I'm putting down his experiences with people looking funny at him to living in a small, conservative, Texas town. (He lives in one in real life and was a stay at home dad.) My husband was a stay at home dad for a while. Women used to smile at him and tell him he was sweet or that he was "such a good dad". My husband would tell them, "No one should think I'm doing a great job because I only do what women do every day without any thanks. Except they (the women) do it better." He would then go on about what a shame it was that what he was doing was so unique that it deserved to be commented on- that more dads should take an active part in the lives of their kids. Then, they would give him an even bigger smile. 

What I disliked about the character was his "dwarf issue". He encounters a "little person" who is a private detective. They get into a scuffle. He asks someone in law enforcement about the P.I. and is told that he's a good investigator but has "little man syndrome". I think that does cross a line and I didn't like it. But I did think that Deuce's encounters with Rose Petal's "Mommy Mafia"- that group of PTA type moms was spot on. I guess hatred of them is universal.

Recommendation:  I'd say that if you like cozies, you will like this book. It did stand out among the many craft and cooking cozies that we have been overrun with. 

Overall Rating: 3 stars
Genre Rating: 4 teapots (for cozies)

:Jeffrey Allen Interview at RT Book Reviews

Jeffrey Allen's Website 


Monday, May 28, 2012

Review: Aunt Dimity and the Village Witch by Nancy Atherton

Goodreads Summary:
Nancy Atherton's seventeenth cozy mystery featuring the beloved Aunt Dimity-the original paranormal detective...When Amelia Thistle moves to Finch, her new neighbors welcome her with open arms-and inquiring minds. Among them is Lori Shepherd, who isn't fooled by Amelia's unassuming persona. Amelia is, in fact, a world-famous artist with a rabid and eager-to-stalk fan base.

In order to keep peace in Finch, Lori must help Amelia conceal her identity. Amelia, meanwhile, sets about working on the riddle that brought her to town in the first place. A fragment of a family diary hints that one of Amelia's ancestors might have been Mistress Meg, the Mad Witch of Finch. Following the clue, Lori hunts through Finch's darkest and most secret corners, all the while dodging nosy neighbors and Amelia's frantic fans. With Aunt Dimity's otherworldly help, Lori inches closer to the true story of Mistress Meg-and Amelia.

My Review: 
I've not been in the mood for cozies, but I keep requesting them from the library. I honestly had no desire to read it, but it was due yesterday and I couldn't renew it. I found the first pages slow going. This book is #17 in this series, but like most mystery authors, the first few pages are devoted to recapping the characters, setting, etc. But once I got past this, I found myself charmed by Lori and the residents of Finch. Of course, it's probably an idealized view of village (small town) life, but how much realism can you really expect? After all, you really have to suspend belief when reading mysteries- how many of us really stumble across a corpse every few months. This series is unique, though, in that not every mystery is a murder mystery. (Maybe none at all- can't remember this is book #17) You can't get any cozier than that, can you? 

 I've read a lot of mysteries and mystery series. At some point, many/most completely fall apart and you get bored reading them. Or annoyed reading them- there are a few long running series that have stretched a love triangle out over many books spanning at least a decade. However, this is one of those series where you like the sameness. It's okay that the characters don't really develop and stay frozen in time like a bug trapped in amber. It means that every year, a new book is like visiting with old friends. Its sameness becomes comforting. This is a series that has done exactly that.

Rating: 3 stars

Genre rating: 3 1/2 tea pots

This is a link to Nancy Atherton's website. She has also put up the recipes that are found at the end of her books. I've not tried it yet, but many have said that "Sir Percy's Favorite Sticky Lemon Cake" is excellent.

Nancy Atherton's website 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Review: Of Poseidon by Anna Banks

Goodreads Summary:
Galen, a Syrena prince, searches land for a girl he's heard can communicate with fish. It’s while Emma is on vacation at the beach that she meets Galen. Although their connection is immediate and powerful, Galen's not fully convinced that Emma's the one he's been looking for. That is, until a deadly encounter with a shark proves  that Emma and her Gift may be the only thing that can save his kingdom. He needs her help--no matter what the risk.

My Review:
Oh...this is one of those books. I could list all of the faults- and I definitely will list some of them. Yet, despite them, I found the book compelling. I found some of the writing kind of silly. Especially the dialogue. I think that most of the sympathy I had for the character was due to the tragedy at the beginning of the book. I think without that incident, I wouldn't like the character very much and would find her whiny and annoying. Normally, this is where I would slam an author for lazy writing- creating some kind of "movie of the week" melodrama as a shortcut to character development. However much eye rolling I did, I kept going back and reading this book. Normally, I have 10-20 books going at once. So, it's rare that I will read large portions of a book and find myself returning to it (the book). But I did with this book. My main reason for liking this book: "I liked it because I liked it. It was good because I liked it". Circular, I know, but some books are like that. You like them for some inexplicable reason you can't quite put your finger on. 

Rating: 3 stars
Genre Rating: 3 1/2 flippers or mermaid tails

Anna Banks's Blog 

Follow Anna Banks on Twitter

Book Trailer for On Poseidon:

Friday, May 25, 2012

Review: Lucky Man: A Memoir by Michael J. Fox

Goodreads Summary:
The same sharp intelligence and self-deprecating wit that made Michael J Fox a star in the Spin City television series and Back to the Future films make Lucky Man a lot punchier than the usual up-from-illness celebrity memoir.
Yes, he begins with the first symptoms of Parkinson's disease, the incurable illness that led to his retirement from Spin City (and acting) in 2000. And yes, he assures us he is a better, happier person now than he was before he was diagnosed. In Fox's case, you actually might believe it, because he then cheerfully exposes the insecurities and self-indulgences of his pre-Parkinson's life in a manner that makes them not glamorous but wincingly ordinary and of course very funny. ("As for the question, 'Does it bother you that maybe she just wants to sleep with you because you're a celebrity?' My answer to that one was, 'Ah... nope.'")
From a Canadian, working-class background, Fox has an unusually detached perspective on the madness of mass-media fame; his description of the tabloid feeding-frenzy surrounding his 1988 wedding to Tracy Pollan, for example, manages to be both acid and matter-of-fact. He is frank but not maudlin about his drinking problem, and he refreshingly notes that getting sober did not automatically solve all his other problems. This readable, witty autobiography reminds you why it was generally a pleasure to watch Fox on screen: he's a nice guy with an edge, and you don't have to feel embarrassed about liking him.

My Review:
I grew up watching Michael J. Fox play Alex P. Keaton on "Family Ties". I think one of the remarkable things he did, as an actor on that show, was to take a potentially completely unlikeable character and humanize him. I think a good deal of that is there is a certain "niceness" to Michael J. Fox the person that just comes through on the screen. It definitely comes through in this book.

Like many people, I was shocked when he went public with his Parkinson's diagnosis. It felt especially horrible because he seems like such a truly nice person- and nice people don't deserve these kinds of things. Especially not a young person with a young family. Because I had this image of him, certain revelations in this book came as a shock- like his drinking problem. He credits his Parkinson's diagnosis with leading him to stop drinking. Indeed, he credits Parkinson's with "forcing" him to make many choices that made him a better man. Hence the title, "Lucky Man" which he says without a trace of irony and a great deal of sincerity. That's not to say he didn't have "Why me?" moments. Of course he did.

Fox's description of himself as a "lucky man" reminds me of one of my favorite memories of my mother, who died of stomach cancer a few years ago. We were sitting in the waiting room at her oncologist's office, waiting to get some blood work done and her chemo treatment. She looks around the room and tells me, "I'm lucky." Of course I look at her like she's insane- she's only in her 50's and she has inoperable stomach cancer. So, I give her "the Look". She looks at me and says, "Look at that old man and his daughter and her 4 kids." I look and there's an old man with his daughter and her 4 kids under the age of 5. My mother says, "You think the daughter is here supporting her father like you're here for me, right? I met her, the daughter, and she has leukemia." My mother then instructs me to look at another grandfather, his daughter, and their 10-ish year old child. I know what's coming, but she said it anyway. She tells me, "I met the boy last week when we were both getting blood drawn." My mother looks at me and says, "I'm lucky because I lived long enough to see you grown and for my grandchildren to remember me when I'm gone." Less than a year later, my mother was dead at 58, but she insisted up to the end that she was "lucky".

Michael J. Fox has retired from acting, but began a new career as an activist for Parkinson's. Especially research devoted to finding a cure, which he says many researchers think is only a decade away. I hope he's wrong and a cure comes sooner. Highly recommend this book

Rating: 4 stars

The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research

Review: Life, on the Line: A Chef's Story of Chasing Greatness, Facing Death, and Redefining the Way We Eat by Grant Achatz

Goodreads Description:
In 2007, chef Grant Achatz seemingly had it made. He had been named one of the best new chefs in America by Food & Wine in 2002, received the James Beard Foundation Rising Star Chef of the Year Award in 2003, and in 2005 he and Nick Kokonas opened the conceptually radical restaurant Alinea, which was named Best Restaurant in America by Gourmet magazine. Then, positioned firmly in the world's culinary spotlight, Achatz was diagnosed with stage IV squamous cell carcinoma-tongue cancer.

The prognosis was grim, and doctors agreed the only course of action was to remove the cancerous tissue, which included his entire tongue. Desperate to preserve his quality of life, Grant undertook an alternative treatment of aggressive chemotherapy and radiation. But the choice came at a cost. Skin peeled from the inside of Grant's mouth and throat, he rapidly lost weight, and most alarmingly, he lost his sense of taste. Tapping into the discipline, passion, and focus of being a chef, Grant rarely missed a day of work. He trained his chefs to mimic his palate and learned how to cook with his other senses. As Kokonas was able to attest: The food was never better. Five months later, Grant was declared cancer-free, and just a few months following, he received the James Beard Foundation Outstanding Chef in America Award.

Life, on the Line tells the story of a culinary trailblazer's love affair with cooking, but it is also a book about survival, about nurturing creativity, and about profound friendship. Already much- anticipated by followers of progressive cuisine, Grant and Nick's gripping narrative is filled with stories from the world's most renowned kitchens-The French Laundry, Charlie Trotter's, el Bulli- and sure to expand the audience that made Alinea the number-one selling restaurant cookbook in America last year.

My Review:
Since my mom's death from cancer a few years ago, I don't like reading books where someone has cancer. It upsets me. But, I love food memoirs and Achatz is one of the best chef's in America if not the world. And I know he survived. However, I was surprised at how little of the book features his struggle with cancer- just the last part. Perhaps it shouldn't be surprising that this book is mostly about food and Achatz's love of creating extraordinary dishes. After reading it, I think that he would define himself as a chef more than as a cancer survivor. That cancer made him appreciate the life he's living now- and a big part of that life for him is food.

This book was a 2011 Goodreads Choice runner up in the Best Food & Cooking category. I just looked and there are a few books that I honestly can't comprehend why they placed higher than this. Is it merely because people have heard of them? Well, if you love food or food memoirs, this one should be moved higher up your "to be read" list. It was wonderful and probably the best food book I've read that was published in 2011.

Overall rating: 4 stars
Genre rating: 4 1/2 stars (imagine 4 1/2 stoves)

Review: Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Goodreads Summary:

One choice can transform you--or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves--and herself--while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.
Tris's initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable--and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.

I looked forward to the release of this book from the time I finished book one in the trilogy. Divergent  and Anna Dressed in Blood were my top two YA books released in 2011. So, I had high hopes for Insurgent.

But, I was very disappointed in this book. I expected more because of Divergent, I guess. The first 1/5 of this book was just blah and boring. So much so that I almost gave it up. It did pick up, but it wasn't a book that I was rushing to read every day. I'm actually thinking of giving it 2 stars, but is that really fair to give a book 2 stars because it didn't meet your expectations? In any case, it's no higher than a 3 star read for me. But, the ending did set up a twist that makes you want to read the third book. So, I do plan to finish out the series.

I guess this book is a victim of second book syndrome. The author lacked the time- because book 2 needs to get released the next year- she had on book one. This rushed timetable really shows in a lot of books. I guess either an author will adapt and get used to this publish or perish mentality or quality will eventually suffer to the point where the author is finished. I think as readers we have to learn to be more patient and be willing to wait 2+ years for sequels. After all, there's not shortage of books being released every year.

Overall rating: 3 stars

Genre Rating: 3 stars (imagine a mushroom cloud. Now imagine 3 of them.)

Veronica Roth's blog

Veronica Roth Reading from Insurgent:

Review: The Selection by Kiera Cass

Goodreads Summary:
For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in the palace and compete for the heart of the gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn't want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she's made for herself- and realizes that the life she's always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.
Not as bad as I thought it was going to be. I don't know why I chose this book to read- other than I just kept seeing the cover. Especially since I don't like the cover- it looks like she's smelling her armpit. But, I figured, it was one of the most popular (added to TBR shelves, I guess) books on Goodreads for April. Overall, the author tells a decent story. The pacing is good. The real flaw is in character development- it's especially evident with America. We never get to really understand and know her. America's defining characteristic is "loves family". Which makes it really odd in this book because if she doesn't stand out to the reader, how are really supposed to buy that she will stand out to Prince Maxon and be selected? But, overall, not a bad first book.

Just checked, it's not her first book. Which kind of now lowers my opinion, a little.

Also, I recall another book recently released had a cover where it looked like a girl sniffing her armpits. Kind of put me off reading the book. So, I ran a Google search for "armpit sniffing book cover". The Selection came up- so the armpit sniffing thing seems to bother more than just me. But, around page 3 in the search results, this site came up: Ultimate Pitshots Kilikili Wonderland- Journal. I'm too timid to click on it, but if you're not, it's at: (I don't know if it's safe for work)

I did go through the most popular books for 2011 and 2012 and found the other book on GR's list (2011). Here's armpit sniffing cover #2:!/kieracass

Review: Enchanted by Alethea Kontis

Goodreads Summary:
It isn't easy being the rather overlooked and unhappy youngest sibling to sisters named for the other six days of the week. Sunday’s only comfort is writing stories, although what she writes has a terrible tendency to come true.

When Sunday meets an enchanted frog who asks about her stories, the two become friends. Soon that friendship deepens into something magical. One night Sunday kisses her frog goodbye and leaves, not realizing that her love has transformed him back into Rumbold, the crown prince of Arilland—and a man Sunday’s family despises.

The prince returns to his castle, intent on making Sunday fall in love with him as the man he is, not the frog he was. But Sunday is not so easy to woo. How can she feel such a strange, strong attraction for this prince she barely knows? And what twisted secrets lie hidden in his past - and hers?

Enchanted is a delightful retelling of several fairy tales.Not going to tell you which because part of the joy of reading this book is discovering this for yourself. I don't know why, but I really wanted to read this book after seeing the cover. So far, this is one of my favorite YA books released in 2012. I really did feel a lot of sympathy for the main character and thought her family was just wonderful. From her father who collected and told Sunday stories to her Pirate Queen sister. Now, one of my biggest pet peeves is that authors always feel the need to manufacture a romance in YA books. Not just manufacture them, but have the romance and the boy consume and dominate the girl's thoughts. Which, I can tell you from personal experience, is not a good idea- a boy should not be the end all and be all of a young girl's life. However, this was not the case in this book. Of course there was a romance. A very touching and sweet one that blossomed between Sunday and the frog prince. Besides, every fairy tale needs a "happily ever after". But, Sunday seemed to always consider her separate life, and her family, as an important part of who she was and the choices she made.

The book's main weakness was the sections involving the prince. I didn't find him as compelling a character as Sunday and her family. When the prince was featured, I found myself wanting the author to return to Sunday and family.  But, considering that this is a debut novel, this is a very minor criticism. Look forward to reading the next book written by Kontis.

Overall rating: 4 stars
Genre Rating: 4 1/2 wands 

Alethea Kontis's blog

Review: I Suck at Girls by Justin Halpern

Goodreads Summary:
"Human beings fear the unknown. So, whatever's freaking you out, grab it by the balls and say hello. Then it ain't the unknown anymore and it ain't scary. Or I guess it could be a shitload scarier."

Fans of the #1 bestseller Sh*t My Dad Says will recognize the always patient voice of Justin Halpern's dad as it crackles through this hysterical new audiobook. The story begins when Justin announces that he's decided to propose to his girlfriend. "You've been dating her for four years," his dad replies. "It ain't like you found a parallel fucking universe."

But eventually he gives Justin some advice: that he should think back over everything he's learned in life about women, relationships, and himself before making his decision. And that's just what Justin does—revisiting everything from his disastrous childhood crushes to the night he finally lost his virginity while working as a dishwasher at Hooters.

Full of his dad's patented brand of wisdom, it's also full of new characters just as funny—from his brother, who provides insights into wedding night rituals, to his first boss, who warns Justin to man up: "That's what a man does. He takes his shots and then he scrubs the shit out of some dishes." The result is a pilgrim's progress through the landscape of sex and love—by one of the funniest writers at work today.

Basically, this book is about Halpern's (mostly non-existent or solo) love life from his teen years through proposing to his girlfriend. In his first book, Sh*t My Dad Says , his father was the star. The guy with the best and funniest lines. The same is true in I Suck at Girls- he's clearly riding on dad's coat tails.

Like many wives, I'm always trying to get my husband to read more. That's the reason I bought Halpern's first book. It seemed like such a "guy" book. The same is true of this book which features stealing pornography from the homeless, masturbation, and diarrhea. But, of course, I ended up reading Sh*t My Dad Says- if only to be able to have a book discussion with my husband. I was surprised at how much I liked it. Listening to his father was almost like having a visit with my late grandfather- who also had no filter and no off switch between his brain and mouth. (But in a funny, charming way.) I liked the first book so much that I got I Suck at Girls for me. I'll let my husband read it now that I'm done with it. 

Yes, this is a funny book. There were several LOL moments- not an exaggeration. I was giggling in the library while reading this. (While my son was getting some tutoring.) There were many more moments that had me smiling. But, to me, one of the things I like best is how vulnerable the author allows himself to be. That he's not afraid of looking bad, silly, insecure. And also, that no matter what his father says or how he says it- these two clearly love each other and that shows in this book and is very touching. Maybe that's why so many women- including me- really like these books despite the potty humor and masturbation jokes. 

Recommended for: Everyone, but especially husbands/boyfriends who don't read. It's short- under 200 pages and funny. Unless your husband/boyfriend has major daddy issues that will send him drunk dialing dad and leaving you to handle the fallout (emotional or otherwise).

Overall rating: 3 1/2 stars

Genre rating: 4 stars (Imagine 4 pictures of Groucho Marx)

Justin Halpern's Blog

Justin Halpern's Twitter


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Review: The Girl in the Clockwork Collar by Kady Cross

Goodreads Summary:
In New York City, 1897, life has never been more thrilling - or dangerous.

Sixteen-year-old Finley Jayne and her "straynge band of mysfits" have journeyed from London to America to rescue their friend Jasper, hauled off by bounty hunters. But Jasper is in the clutches of a devious former friend demanding a trade-the dangerous device Jasper stole from him...for the life of the girl Jasper loves.

One false move from Jasper and the strange clockwork collar around Mei's neck tightens. And tightens.

This is the second book in the Steampunk Chronicles by Kady Cross. Like many a second novel, it was a bit of a let down. It's perfectly understandable, really. Most authors probably spend years writing their first novel- polishing it and making it as perfect as they can. Once they get published, I guess, the pressure is on to produce a novel a year. Especially true, it seems, of YA series. 

On the plus side, Cross seems to have ironed out some of the wrinkles I found in the first novel. Especially in the area of pacing- I thought sections of the first novel dragged. This novel does seem to move quickly and stuff is constantly happening. On the negative side, it's a second novel which means that the whole idea of YA steampunk "superheroes" (À la The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Vol. 1) is no longer fresh and novel. The way it is when you encounter it in the first book. But, the book does compensate by giving you more details about the characters (past) lives. Overall, I'd say if you don't expect a perfect book and you enjoyed the first in this series, this book is probably worth reading.

Overall rating: 3 stars

Genre Rating: 3 1/2 stars

Interview with Kady Cross about steampunk and The Girl in the Steel Corset


Review: Fury by Shirley Marr

Description from Goodreads:
Let me tell you my story.
Not just the facts I know you want to hear.
If I’m going to tell you my story,
I’m telling it my way.

Strap yourself in...

Eliza Boans has everything.
A big house.
A great education.
A bright future.

So why is she sitting in a police station confessing to murder?

First of all, probably the best YA author you've never heard of. Unless you've heard of her, in which case, you probably agree that this author needs to be read by more people and her books need to be widely available in America.  Second, I think that I would personally like the author. Unlike many GR authors, she didn't rate her book. What she did do, well, I was going to describe it, but I'm going to just quote from it and link it instead because this is how authors should behave if they're going to read their own reviews. Seriously. Here's the quote, "Thank every single person who has rated and/or reviewed Fury for better or for the worse! I try and thank everyone I can personally, but sometimes I'm so busy reading and reviewing other books that I forget to keep an eye out! But I do read every review. Above everything else, I value balance and honesty - so thanks for giving me the Bad with the Good!

Please feel free to say whatever you like in the comments. I don't read or post comments on the threads that start under my own novel cos I'm not the police and I don't want to tell/correct/hassle people on how they should feel or think about my book. If you'll like to interact with me, do please befriend and find me chatting away on other books (if you are a fan of realistic Aussie YA, then we definetly [sic] need to be friends.)"

 Link to full review: Shirley Marr's Review

My Review:
The book begins with Eliza Boans sitting in a police station being questioned for a murder.  It then goes back and forth from the present to the past. The episodes from the past are about the events leading up to the murder. I'm looking at my summary and I know it's inadequate, but I just do not want to do anything to spoil this book. I will say that the transitions in time are done very well. I can also say that I just love the tone of the novel. It reminded me of one of my favorite movies about high school- Jawbreaker. (Also about a murder) And, finally, I just loved how the author was able to make my feelings about Eliza change from the beginning of the book to the end. The way her character was slowly revealed, made sympathetic. Look, just do what you can to get your hands on this book. It's that good. Plus the added bonus of buying a book that rewards an author who both professionally and personally deserves to be rewarded.

Overall Rating: 3 1/2 stars (I'm stingy, remember)

Genre Rating: 4 1/2 stars (Imagine 4 1/2 lockers standing for realistic YA fiction. My son is still in school, I'll work on getting him to do these things over the summer)

If you haven't seen Jawbreaker... well, you really should go and watch that too.

Shirley Marr's Website

Shirley Marr's Blog (Life on Marrs)

Shirley Marr's Book Review Blog

Interview with Shirley Marr about Fury:

Review: Starters by Lissa Price

Released: March 13, 2012

This is a dystopian novel set in a world after a war results in the United States getting attacked by biological agents that kill everyone but the young (Starters) and old (Enders). Obviously, the Enders have all of the wealth and power. So, the Starters without parents or guardians are left to scavenge at the margins of society. Callie decides to undergo a process that will rent her body to an Ender so the Ender can relive their youth. She does this in the hopes of getting money to take care of her sick younger brother.

There has been a veritable plague of dystopian novels. At least this one has an interesting twist- which is good because I think I'll remember it. For a debut novel, the writing was pretty good- the novel was well paced. It didn't lag in the middle or falter at the end- common problems in a debut novel. As far as the characters- I think they're fairly typical. Didn't really stand out to me, the way the character in The Hunger Games trilogy did. The negative- why does there always have to be a romance/love triangle type subplot?

Edit: I don't know how old Lissa Price is, but this book made me think of the 1992 movie, Freejack. With Emilio Estevez- brother of Charlie Sheen. (Don't judge that I actually saw this movie- I grew up in the 80's, so Emilio Estevez = The Breakfast Club and Repo Man. Both of which are good enough to watch multiple times)

Trailer for Freejack:

Rating: 3 stars


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Review: Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch

If you are hoping for a super gossipy, anti-Queen, pro-Diana book, this is not the book for you. Not that it doesn't have some juicy tidbits, such as this quote from Prince Philip about the Queen when they were first married, "During a visit to the Brabourns in Kent, John said to Philip, 'I never realized what lovely skin she [the Queen] has.' 'Yes,' Philip replied, 'she's like that all over.'" But this book is very sympathetic in tone to the Queen. Instead of overly gossipy stuff, the book is an intermingling of the history of modern England (from primarily the 1930's onward) to the present with the life of Queen Elizabeth. It does succeed in this quite well and is very easy to read.

It opens with the Queen falling in love at first sight with Prince Philip of Greece and the book ends with the true love marriage of her grandson, Prince Prince William to Catherine(Kate) Middleton. Now, I've always envied the Queen her jewelry. After reading this book, she's welcome to them. I wouldn't trade my life for hers for any amount of money or jewels. As hers is a life that was bound by duty and self-sacrifice. Contrary to her public image during the Diana years as being cold, it seems as if the Queen long ago decided to put on a public face. She feels it's her duty to never have a strong opinion stated as her job is to represent all her subjects. The most heartbreaking thing of all in this book is the revelation that she has no close friends- that she has always felt the need to put up an impenetrable wall. Why? To avoid anyone being close enough to have tabloid type revelations about her like Princess Diana. So, except for her husband, her mother, and her sister. She has lived a life largely alone and isolated. Towards the end of the book, when sister and mother have passed away, you cannot help but feel how alone she truly is. Little wonder her sister Margaret, upon Elizabeth's coronation as Queen, was quoted as pitying her and not envying her. A wonderful book.

Rating: 4 stars 

Sally Bedell Smith's website 
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