Tag Archive | book review

Chop Chop: Book Review of Antiques Chop: A Trash N Treasure Mystery

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I got this surprise in my little envelope from Kensington Books this month. I wasn’t sure why, but settled in to read it anyways.

Oh, My. Gawd!

It’s a great cozy mystery, don’t get me wrong. But what made me say “Awesome Sauce!” was the comments directed at the reader. Because in the world of Brandy and Vivian, they not only solve mysteries, they also write them. And when they comment directly to us, dear readers, it’s hilarious. Their comments about watching language so they can finally (finally!) crack the Walmart market, the notes between daughter (Brandy) and mother (Vivian) and of course, their beleaguered editor…. oh my goodness. And the last chapter— written by hand because they don’t allow laptops in jail.

HA!

I loved this book. I loved all the little nods to them telling a story, the “dear reader” moments. I kept reading fast and faster, trying to catch more of them. This is the latest in a series— I’m going to have to go back and read the other ones too. Whee!!!!!!!!!!!

 

Have you read this series? How many Dear Reader moments are there? Maybe I’ll have to go back and count… on account they are dipped in  awesome sauce.

 

 

Book Review: Just Like Other Daughters

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This weeks book, Just Like Other Daughters by Colleen Faulkner, works on so many levels. There’s sorrow and humor and hope threaded through out the novel, just as in real life. At its heart, the book is about a mother’s love for her child. That child happens to have Down’s Syndrome.

The ending of the novel is foreshadowed in the very first line: I lost Chloe twice. Throughout the novel, there are little blips where it switches from first person past to first person present… Those blips are not a slip (and you know me, I’d call ’em out if they were). You need to pay attention to them. As a writer, I find it breath taking how she prepares us, the reader, for what’s going to happen and yet… it still makes you catch your breath on a small sob when it does.

Now, on a more personal note… This book made me look at how tightly I keep my son to me. Granted, he’s only seven years old. However… I started loosening the reigns with him. Because he *can* do it. We went into B&N (you know I love that store), it was just the two of us. He wanted to play at the Lego table. He PROMISED he wouldn’t go anywhere else– not even to the bathroom. And if anyone tried to take him somewhere else, he’d scream.

So I walked away. Like any good mom, I hid behind a book shelf and watched him for a while. He was perfectly fine. I walked away for a few minutes, went back to check and there he was… still happily building at the Lego table. Shopped some more, went back and checked on him. The guy working the Nook desk finally took pity on me and told me “He’s fine. I’m right here, and he’s fine.”

Wow. Am I that much of a helicopter mom? I need to loosen the reigns, I guess, and let him learn to live in the real world instead of the bubble I want to make for him.

At the heart of “Just Like Other Daughters”, that’s what Alicia and Chloe face. Chloe has Down syndrome… and comes home in love one day. How do you let go, how do you protect your child while letting them experience the world… That is what Just Like Other Daughters is about.

 

 

Dragon Actually by G.A. Aiken

Note: This title’s release date is November  5, 2013. Review is based on a review copy provided by the publisher.

 

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This isn’t my normal kind of book. Actually, it’s three inter-related stories. But it blends two of my favorites– high fantasy and romance in a bawdy, rockin’ good time. With a heroine in the lead story whose name is Annwyl the Bloody, you know this isn’t your momma’s romance.

Nor is it the normal for fantasy, either.

It’s a blend of the two, with a contemporary twist. I’ve always wondered what it would be like to write fantasy this way, but could never find an example of it. Now I have it in my possession and it is good. As a reader, it’s a welcome change. a breath of fresh air. A woman warrior and a dragon do not have a conventional courtship, and he practically splits himself in half to win her heart. 

As a writer, it begs the question: what if more of us wrote what we wanted, how we wanted? I once stopped writing a high fantasy story because the main character was talking… well, modern english. Someone made a comment to her, and her response was “That sounds dirty. Did you mean that to sound dirty?”

Hmmm… might go back to that story, now.

But for now, I can whole heartedly recommend Dragon Actually with 4/5 Dragon Roars with a caveat: if you don’t enjoy the sex scenes, you need to skip this one. While they are handled well , they are part of the story (and the romance genre in general). Other than that— make the purchase on November 5th!

 

 

 

Book Review: Dream with Little Angels by Michael Hiebert

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I came across this book a little… well, weird. I belong to an online writing community, and Michael Hiebert was involved in it. I “met” him in passing, heard about his book… Then I saw it. Cool cover. Someone called it “southern literary mystery” and I was spooked. Literary, to me, normally means something that normal people won’t get and you have to work really hard at understanding.

I am so glad I tried it anyways. Because as dark as this novel gets, it has a good dose of humorous real life as well. There’s one paragraph that is an ode to bacon and I tell you my mouth watered when I read it. I passed the book on to my sister M, (which I’ve done with a few other books), and she devoured it on the trip home. She enjoyed the same thing I did— the ability to have a balanced novel even though the subject matter was so disturbing.

Instead of a stuffy literary novel, what you get is a coming of age mystery that will grab you by the shirt and not let go until the last page. I loved “Dream with Little Angels”. It’s different from what I normally read, but in a great way.

Go forth and buy it!

Cathy Lamb’s If You Could See what I see: Book Review

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I actually finished reading this on Friday night. I’ve just been collecting myself so I could say something other than the first words that came out of my mouth.

This is probably the one book that I’ve read that was so personal to me, and it was flawlessly done.

One of Cathy Lamb’s signatures are flawed characters who have gone through/are going through/ recovered from some horrendous thing. That being said, her novels are filled with hope, with families that love each other even when they want to throttle each other, and a good dose of humor.

I’ve talked before about my ex-husband. About why and how I quit writing, my struggles with regaining my voice. For those that are new to the blog I’ll catch you up: I was married to a meth addict for about 10 years.  He also has mental health issues. But Ms. Lamb explains it so eloquently, and with few words, so I’ll use hers:

“I thought of how he’d gotten into my head, then spun me around, flinging me this way and that. I’d allowed him to get inside my brain, my voice, myself. I let myself be trapped.” — If You Could See What I See, Cathy Lamb.

Thankfully, I didn’t have the nightmares or anywhere near outcome that Meggie had. I even came out of it with the greatest gift of all– my son. But I did loose a lot of myself during those years, and this book did something that I really needed.

It gave me a happy ending.

I know, it sounds corny, and it isn’t the happy ending that your thinking of (although that one was satisfying as well). But by the end of the book, Meggie has gotten herself back– different than who she was before, still guarded, but definitely herself. And using the art that was hers once again, even if in a new way.

I don’t know that I can express just how much this book means to me. It is at once tragic and uplifting… just as is life.

So.

Thank you Cathy Lamb, for giving me hope for a happily ever after on my terms.

Wyn

Book Review: Blood is Thicker by Meridith Mansfield

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So I keep up with Meredith Mansfield’s blog, where she keeps us up to date on what she’s bee up to both writing wise and publishing. She’s an indie author, and I like her spunk.

I’ve been reading about the books for a long time, and finally I broke down and bought the first book, Blood is Thicker. At first I wasn’t sure about it– I thought it was going to be a straight up epic fantasy, but instead it blurs between epic and urban.

And I liked it.

It took me a little while to get into it, but that was mainly because of the above mentioned misconception. The magic was handled deftly– it would have been very easy to make dragons all powerful and therefore unbeatable. But they, too, have their weakness in this novel.

By the end of the story, I was completely hooked. Because just as the epic was blended with urban fantasy, fantasy was blended very well with romance. Woohoo! My two favorite types of reading, all in one little bite!

I saw that the second book is out, too. I’ll have to check and see!

 

SERIOUS NOTE: Some people are afraid of Indie Published / Self Published books. Unfortunately, a group of people (notice I didn’t say writers) spoiled it for everyone else. The only nit I found with this novel was probably caused because I use the BIG LETTERS CUZ I’M NOT YOUNG ANYMORE typeface on my Nook (i.e. quotations at the beginning of a line, instead of bringing the last word down). We need more Meredith Mansfields, and less of the other people. So lets go support her, shall we?

 

Book Review: Rain Wild Chronicles by Robin Hobb

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Originally, this was intended as a trilogy, but it is actually four books. That works for me. Blood of the Dragons is actually the last book in the series, and it wraps it up nicely.

This series gave me a serious geek girl moment. I walked outside while at work, and realized I had forgotten my book. My first thought? “But I wanted to go to the Rain Wilds.” Serious geek girl moment, but that’s ok 😀

Books One (Dragon Keeper) and Two (Dragon Haven) hooked me in and would not let me go. Book Three (Dragon City) is a bridge book— one of those books in a series that kind of breaks with the first ones, so that the grand finale will make sense. We also get 3 new point of view characters. We had seen or  heard of them before, but had never been inside their heads.

Most authors, you know that everything will work out ok… but with Hobb on this one, I wasn’t sure (but in a good way). I tore through the whole series in about a week, maybe two (I know I had to wait for payday to get the last one LOL).

Love, love love this series. Especially love how the dragons are very distinct from humans, and from eachother. They are not merely beats, but neither do they think or act in a human way. Why would they? They outlive humans by hundreds, if not thousands of years.

I was sad to read the last pages of this series, but rest easy knowing I can visit anytime I want to. While the instinct of a fan girl such as I is to keep writing the series, as writers we all know when the story is done.

Hobb also has a habit of re-visiting the world she built in completely different ways… and re-introducing her characters. Check out Paragon, and how far he’s come by the time this novel opens. So, onward and upwards!

I was so geeky over the series, that of course I have to give it a 5/5… with the caveat that book 3 is a bridge book.

Enjoy, my lovelies!

 

Book Review: Ocean at the End of the Lane

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I actually bought this book when it first came out. I was excited.OOhhhh…. a new book! An IMPORTANT book, or so all the reviews I read said. One of the Best Books of 2013, so Far… according to Barnes and Nobles.com

Yah. It was good.

It was also freaking 192 pages.

I really need to start paying attention to the length of the work. Sea Change was really good, and disturbing, and I thought it was a little short. This one was a good little story, I enjoyed it… But come on. $10 for 192 pages? 

And ok. I’m gonna get on my writer’s high horse here for a moment. Writing in first person past tense is great. I love it when an author pulls it off effortlessly. Many, many authors do this. For the most part, Gaiman does as well. (Did you catch that~ the phrase “for the most part…”

Sea Change had the magic box that disappeared. The Ocean at the End of the Lane has… a first person, past tense narration where the narrator forgets something he has told the reader. Kind of impossible… when you think about it. Because if it is written in the past tense, how could he forget it within the time frame of the novel? (And yes, I went back to double check it, and it does open in past tense.)

In first person, PRESENT tense, you can do that. Characters can forget stuff, because they are living in the present and people are forgetful. But if you’re writing in past tense, and that little forgetfulness slips in and snakes around the tale… well, if it’s been forgotten, then how come you just told me the story? Huh? How??!! There are no other hints that I found that the narrator was unreliable.

SIGH.

But still.

This book also marks the point in time when I finally realized that I need to check the number of pages before I bought the Nook book. $10.00 was way too much for this book. It was good, don’t get me wrong. But for a Nook Book, at $10, you’d better grip the hell out of me and take me longer than a day to read. Because I work hard for my damn money, and there’s not enough of it… and that’s something that a lot of book lovers are dealing with. I’m not special in that regard.

But you’d think that the publishers would take a look and give us readers a little bit more love on the pricing. With E-Books, especially. I understand that they have to  pay people, and for the printing and marketing and and and…. but I have to pay for things too.

I have no idea where I’m going with this post, so I’m going to sign off now. I know it’s a bit incoherent, and probably I should wait to hit publish… but I’ve been so lax lately that I feel I need to hit that little blue button….

Book review: The Queen’s Rivals by Brandy Purdy

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The Queen’s Rivals by Brandy Purdy

 

Ms. Purdy is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. While The Queen’s Rivals doesn’t have the sumptuous words of the previous book that I read (The Queen’s Pleasure), it is a deeply moving novel.

The Queen’s Rivals tells the story of the Grey sisters, cousin to Queen Elizabeth I, from the point of view of the littlest sister. Mary, the youngest, stopped growing at about the age of five or so. Disfigured, she is pragmatic about her prospects in life and how others treat her.

The thing about historical novels is, most of the time you know how they end. We know the story of the bloody road to the English throne. Purdy excels at bringing the names and dates from the history books to life, putting soul into them. We already know how things are going to end. She makes us care, all over again, in a story that keeps moving towards a tragic end for all of the sisters.

But Purdy also does something else: she sparks the imagination. One of Mary’s complaints about her treatment is who would really want her to be queen? Her mother is strict about what she wears lest anyone mistake her for a jester, a clown. She is deprived of dancing for the same reason. (And, actually, because her mother was a witch— but given the time period, on this I think I agree with the mother’s assessment.)

So yes, a story spark is burning right now. One that may or may not flame into a full fledged short story. And that is the greatest feeling of all!

 

Overall rating: 5/5

 

Ta for now, my lovelies. I’ll be back soon with one on the Rain Wilds books by Robin Hobb. I’m currently on book 3/4….Yay!

Book Review: Sweetly by Jackson Pearce

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Sweetly, by Jackson Pearce is another book that I found by cruising the 2.99 deals over on the Nook page. I love fairytales, and even though this one is a little short (clocking in under 300 pages on my Nook), it never dawned on me that this might be a young adult / younger readers novel. I didn’t know that was indeed the classification until I went back to the book page to grab a shot of the cover. We’re going to have to explore this more fully, soon.

Plot in a Jot: What if… Ansel and Gretchen escaped the forest and the witch that stole their sister from them, only to end up on the other side of the country. Facing another witch (this time a sweet one, who makes candies), another forest… and more questions about their own past.

One of the things that stood out in this for me was Gretchen’s struggle for a voice. She calls it making sure she won’t just vanish… But it could just as easily be her voice, her purpose that she’s seeking. Until she is firmly in place within herself, she can’t even say her sister’s name.

But girls have gone missing in the town where they end up, too. All the way across the country, more and more girls are disappearing. Because the town is so small, most assume that the girls (all 17-18) have up and vanished of their own free will.

It’s a great retelling of the Hansel and Gretel story, taking it and spinning it out into a contemporary “what if” scenario.

Bottom Line: 3.5/4 Woohoo’s… because when a girl not only finds her voice but the guts to battle her witch? That’s something to celebrate.