Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Year of Disappearances by Susan Hubbard

Ah, the various pros and cons of reviewing a sequel. To some point, it’s enjoyable. There’s no need to introduce characters since they’ve been well established. However, it’s difficult not to compare the latest to its predecessor rather than letting it stand on its own. When it comes to The Year of Disappearances, I can honestly say that I enjoyed it thoroughly with its fresh take on vampirism. It doesn’t hinge on the use of vampires as a gimmick or as a major selling point, but instead, relies on engaging characters and an intriguing plot with some very smart writing to move things along quite nicely. The tale picks up soon after the last left off with inklings of conspiracy, doubts concerning whom to trust, and who the “bad guys” truly are. On the negative side, it does tread over familiar ground with “girl disappears, Ari and family suspected/involved, Ari moves” scenario, but more develops that justifies the occurrence (and it is implied in the title so I digress). Personally, I thought the inclusion of a love interest was unnecessary, and it was dropped so quickly it only served as a brief distraction from the overall story arc. One quibble I have that mostly rests with any series is the fact that a single installment feels like a bridge or a transition to the next. It offers little closure with many mysteries still unaccounted for. I feel that a well-balanced sequel can act as a standalone if needed, but allows for continuation. Of course, that can’t be expected of every title, but it is frustrating to have a “To Be Continued” sign shoved in your face whether the actual words are printed or not. Television serials can mostly get away with it since they only have to keep their fans at bay for a week or so, but in literature, the wait is so much longer and cliffhangers or vague endings lose their edge and curb any enthusiasm I may have had to discover the secrets that are yet to come. Again, only a small complaint that stems from my own incorrigible impatience and curiosity that I feel compelled to mention. Overall, my interest was sustained and I can undoubtedly see myself looking for what happens next to one of my favorite, philosophical blood-suckers (or, you know, Picardo drinkers). I award The Year of Disappearances 3 ½ stars.

Review by Alisa Heskin

Pigs in Heaven, by Barbara Kingsolver

In Pigs in Heaven by Barbara Kingsolver, Turtle Greer, a young Cherokee girl, and her adoptive mother Taylor take a trip to the Hoover Dam where Turtle witnesses the fall of a man down a spillway. Turtle saves the day, and she and her mother get to go on the Oprah Winfrey Show. Annawake Fourkiller, a lawyer for the Cherokee Nation, sees Turtle on the television and is convinced that Taylor illegally adopted Turtle and stole her from the Nation. Annawake goes to speak with Taylor, and the threat of losing her daughter sends Taylor into a panic that takes her and Turtle on the run across the southwestern United States.
I enjoyed this book far more than I had expected to. It's beautifully and realistically written, and it moves along at a nice, steady pace. At the end everything tied together clearly and perfectly, and I was glad to see that I didn't have to flip back through the pages to to find out where exactly this little piece of information came from, or who was who or any of that. This is an excellent story about the lengths a mother will go through to keep her daughter, and a daughter who is growing up.
I gave this book 4/5 stars.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by, Beth Hoffman ~Review

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by, Beth Hoffman-CeeCee Honeycutt has had a tough life in her 12 years she had a father who travels alot and leaves her home alone with her mentally ill mother. Her mother doesn't beat her or anything however she thinks she's back in 1951 when she was the Vidalia Onion Queen she parades around town in prom dresses and her tiara and can't be pulled back into the present no matter how hard CeeCee tries.
As events unfold CeeCee ends up living with her Great Aunt Tootie in Savannah, which is where she begins to heal from her past.
This is a story of love, loss, forgiveness, friendship and strong women. We watch as CeeCee comes to grips with her past and finally allows people in on what she has been through with her mother.
I loved this book Beth Hoffman brings these characters to life you end up loving them all.If you loved The Help you'll love CeeCee.
I highly recommend this book definitely a must read!
5 Stars

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Teaser Tuesday~~Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by, Beth Hoffman

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!

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by, Beth Hoffman-
Page 7-When I turned down the street and saw Momma, a rush of heat scalded my cheeks.My brunette mother had bleached her hair white and was standing in the front yard wearing a slam-on-the-brakes horror of a yellow prom dress.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A Life Revealed, by Suzi Katz *Review*

I hate to say this, but this book was terrible. No, I lied - this book was so awful that it deserves being called names. After finding that someone let the word "breathe" go misspelled on page 1, I started to have my doubts, but that was just the beginning. It should get better, right? Wrong. The struggle to reach page 103 (where I finally had to call it quits before I passed out from sheer boredom) was a grueling task. Oh, sure, the story seemed interesting at first - a girl named Chloe Jacob's parents get murdered for being witnesses and she has to be protected by the Witness Security Program - but it just went downhill from there. Obvious typos, horrible grammar, awkward dialogue - A Life Revealed had it all. The writing was short and choppy and didn't flow at all, making the story seem like a ten-year-old wrote it. Some of the sentences were completely random and just distracted you from what little subject matter there was. In fact, the whole story read like a really cheesy soap opera. The characters were boring and flat, and talked like they had sticks in their mouths (or so the dialogue made it seem). Chloe comes off as a whiny crybaby who causes waaaay too much drama and gets hurt alot. In the end, I give A Life Revealed 1 out of 5 stars, and only because some parts were just so stupid they made me laugh.
Review by Katie Gisi

Elsewhere, by Gabrielle Zevin *Review*

Wow. That's all I can say about this book. Elsewhere is one of the most original stories I've read in quite a while, a good break from vampires and magicians and all that other stuff that's been rewritten a million times. It grabs you from the very beginning, where you're reading from the point of view of a pug dog named Lucy who's owner has just died. Then the story shifts to Liz, dead at the age of 15 & Lucy's owner, who finds herself on a cruise ship with a bunch of other newly dead people on their way to "Elsewhere," or the afterlife. Elsewhere totally defies our usual ideas of the afterlife, since it's a normal place with normal people, no angels or devils or burning lakes of fire or Elysian Fields or anything else like that. In Elsewhere, once you arrive you start aging backward, and once you get to 7 days old you are sent on the River back to Earth to be reborn. Mostly the story focuses on Liz's struggles to find happiness in Elsewhere, being one of the youngest residents there and not having very much time to live backwards. Like all good stories, there are a few comical parts, and of course some sadder parts, but mostly the story was just plain intriguing and made me read it all in one sitting. Elsewhere has plainly earned its 5 stars.
Review by Katie Gisi

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Jewel of Medina by, Sherry Jones~~Review

The Jewel of Medina by, Sherry Jones- (Got it through ILL from the State Library)
This was historical fiction telling the story of A'isha Bint Abi Bakr child bride of the Prophet Muhammad. It's set at the beginning of the of Islam, while it is a story of the beginnings of Islam it is more a story of A'ish and her life. It’s told in first person from A'isha's point of view, she was promised/engaged to Muhammad very young and married him when she was 9 years old. She was his third wife and after seeing her mother be a kind of slave to the head wife in her own home A'isha vows to be hatun or "Great Lady" and never be a slave to anyone.
A'isha is just a child when she marries Muhammad and has a quick tongue and a jealous streak that gets her in trouble alot, she can be rash and petty but she is also strong, independent and eventually very loyal to those she allows to love her.
I enjoyed this book I've read alot of historical fiction but never any set in this time and place so it was a new experience for me. It was interesting how Ms. Jones brings a humanity to Muhammad that maybe we non-Muslims didn't know about him like how he treated his wives he listened to their opinion and would never have beat them, which in that day and age no matter what religion was something different.
I will be reading the next book in this series to see what happens to everyone after the sadness at the end of this book.
I would say if you like historical fiction with a good love story try this book.
3 1/2 Stars

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Still Alice by, Lisa Genova ~~Review

Product description: What if every memory you've ever had will be erased from your mind, and you have no choice but to carry on...powerless to stop it?
Alice Howland is proud of the life she worked so hard to build. At fifty years old, she's a cognitive psychology professor at Harvard and a world-renowned expert in linguistics with a successful husband and three grown children. When she begins to grow disoriented and forgetful, a tragic diagnosis changes her life -- and her relationship with her family and the world -- forever.
At once beautiful and terrifying, this extraordinary debut novel by Lisa Genova is a moving and vivid depiction of life with early-onset Alzheimer's Disease that is as compelling as A Beautiful Mind and as unforgettable as Ordinary People.

My Review:
This is an amazing book, moving and heartbreaking in every way. Alice has early onset Alzheimer’s and this book is told by her point of view which is scary and heartbreaking to see this professor at Harvard go downhill. You feel for her as she loses more than memory she loses herself, her comfort, her meaning in life.
Her husband kind of made me mad I’ve seen how hard Alzheimer’s can be on the caregiver but this was the first thing I’ve read from the person with the disease’s perspective, because of that it was harder for me to be sympathetic towards her husband.
I hope to never be in Alice’s shoes it must be so awful to not recognize your own children and family.
This is a very powerful read that I would recommend whole heartedly. If you know anyone whose lives have been touched by Alzheimer’s they need to read this book.
4 1/2 Stars

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Teaser Tuesday ~~ The Cold Light of Mourning by, Elizabeth J. Duncan

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!

The Cold Light of Mourning by, Elizabeth J. Duncan
Page 48-"Well, what if she's fallen in the bath and hurt herself? Or we can see if her clothes are missing, or if it looks as if she's coming back, or whatever. At least then we might be nearer to an answer. I'm just so confused by all this. It's starting to seem so unreal, like it's happening in a dream.Jennifer and I are concerned, and we want to do whatever needs to be done."

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Help by, Kathryn Stockett~Review

Description-Three ordinary women are about to take one extraordinary step.
Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone.
Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken.
Minny, Aibileen’s best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody’s business, but she can’t mind her tongue, so she’s lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation. But her new boss has secrets of her own.
Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed.

My Review
This was a great book. The characters were all wonderfully written my favorites were of course Skeeter, Aibileen, & Minny. Skeeter was so ahead of her time or should I say her city and had the strength to do something about it. I loved the humor of the toilet bowls that scene cracked me up and was so well written that I was able to picture it clearly in my head. Also some of the things the help said were so descriptive it made you feel you were in 1962 in Jackson. This book was very memorable and will stay with me awhile. The only downside was I didn’t want it to end; I wanted to know how everyone turned out. I would highly recommend this book for anyone who enjoys southern fiction and not so long ago historical fiction.One of my Favorites of 2009 Now available @ the Library.
4 1/2 Stars

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Apprenticeship of Lucas Whitaker by Cynthia DeFelice

This book wasn't meant for me. I knew that from the moment I looked at the long title from the fact that its teaser boasted this tagline, "Lucas learns of a strange cure...but is it science or superstition?" However, I tried to keep an optimistic mindset, but as I ventured further and further into the world of...Lucas, I grew steadily irritated. I found the characters to be two-dimensional, stereotypical cutouts. Lucas' family dies from consumption (a.k.a. tuberculosis) and neighbors of his are convinced of their miraculous cure of digging up the body that they believe is getting others sick, cutting out and then burning the heart, and then having the infirm inhale the fumes. Oh, goody. Lucas finds himself stricken with grief and eventually at the doorstep of Doc Beecher whom he is soon apprenticing for. Of course, Doc finds the cure to be nonsense as would any educated man/grandfather figure would, but as Lucas is the guilty/rebellious/teenager/haunted by nightmares of his family dying/idiot that he is, he clings to the superstition. The plot is clunky and ended very abruptly with little closure. The story takes place in 1849 (which is, ironically, the year Edgar Allan Poe died and many of Poe's family died from TB) and usually I adore this period. In this case, it acts as a vehicle for this depressingly somewhat dull tale of an overused premise. It’s not horrible, but it is, in essence, simplicity and I didn’t feel any passion behind the writing. It seemed to be only going through the motions and not taking any effort to add subtlety or anything particularly intriguing. As I said before, this book wasn't meant for me. It was meant for younger readers to introduce them to new vocabulary and improve their reading skills, but I can think of better books to accomplish the same goals. As much criticism as I have spewed forth in this review, I can’t harbor too much dislike for it. On the one hand, I couldn't connect to any of the characters and the motivations and actions were so direct, obvious, and plain that I couldn't enjoy it. However, it does serve as an introduction to this sort of style. It’s a less complicated version of a character suffering a great tragedy, finding a mentor and then rejecting his teachings only to embrace them as the plot moves along. It’s an adequate starting point, but ultimately, not to my tastes, although it does possess a sense of macabre that I could appreciate. Overall, I found it a half-hearted attempt that disappoints and crushes what potential it may have had. Two stars out of five. **

Review by Alisa Heskin

I would like to make one addition. However harsh I am, overall, this book is relatively harmless. There are two different types of negative, the sort that has no intention of being so, and that which sets out to lower your IQ from sheer stupidity and horribleness. Fortunately, this book is the former and for that, I can be more forgiving of its shortcomings.

On a second note, I do apologize for the unnecessarily critical review that was posted earlier. My personal affairs shouldn’t bleed into my writing, very unprofessional of myself.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Cleopatra's Daughter by, Michelle Moran~Review

Cleopatra's Daughter by, Michelle Moran
Michelle Moran has once again entranced me with her writing. Cleopatra’s Daughter is the story of Marc Antony & Cleopatra’s (Kleopatra) children after they are taken to Rome after the deaths of their parents and the fall of Egypt to the Roman Caesar Octavian.

As always with Michelle Moran’s books I could not put this one down. She has researched so well into life in this time period the Romans to me were quite barbaric and the way most of them treated their slaves and their women (wives & daughters) was extremely heartbreaking.

The characters are brought to life by great writing and character development that some you want to be friends with and others you’d like to throttle. My favorite characters were Selene daughter of Antony & Cleopatra, Octavia sister and complete opposite of her brother Octavian and Gallia the Gaul Princess who became a slave after her country was overtaken. Julia daughter of Octavian was not my favorite character but when you are given some insight into what she has been through you are a little more sympathetic towards her. And you would think that the biggest villain of them all would be Octavian but you would be wrong it is his wife Livia what an awful woman she was!

Selene and her brother Alexander longed for their home in Alexandria and lived in the hope that one day they would return, but even though when they are brought to Rome they are kept in a fashion becoming of a Prince and Princess some things can only be a dream.

It was very interesting to me the kinds of relationships people had with each other , many marriages, affairs and children, how strange it must be to sit in the Forum and be told see that man over there he is your half brother, and not be allowed to even talk to them. Or for some to not be allowed to see or even mention your mother or father.

As I have said before I will read anything Michele Moran writes so I hope her next book is on the way because I have now read everything she has written.

Great book, beautiful descriptions that take you back in time, great characters so fully developed you don’t want to leave them behind when the book ends.

I recommend this book to anyone who reads historical fiction and even if you’re just discovering it this is a great place to start!
5 Stars

Teaser Tuesday~~ Cleopatra's Daughter by, Michelle Moran

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!

Cleopatra's Daughter by, Michelle Moran -Page 44-"So we're alive! For now. And only because Octavian doesn't want to parade three stinking corpses through the streets of Rome. Wait until the Triumph is over," I warned. "Antyllus was murdered at the feet of Caesar’s statue, and Caesarion was beheaded. What do you think will happen to us?"

Friday, February 5, 2010

Tithe, by Holly Black

Kaye is your typical 16-year-old, but doesn't really live a typical 16-year-old's life. She spends most of her time traveling with (and taking care of) her rock-star mother. However, when her mom's boyfriend tries to attack her, they make the decision to go back to New Jersey and live with Kaye's grandmother. There, Kaye reunites with her old childhood friend Janet Stone and her gay brother, Corny.
While loitering around the docks with Janet and some other friends, Janet's boyfriend Kenny tries to "seduce" Kaye, and Kaye runs away upset into the woods and there encounters Roiben, a silver-haired faerie knight hunk. Not long after, Kaye discovers that she herself is a changeling - a faerie child switched with a human child.
Now is when the true plot comes out - the faeries of the Unseelie Court (or the dark faeries) have disguised Kaye as a human so they can use her for the Tithe. Tradition in the Unseelie Court dictates that every 7 years a mortal must be sacrificed as a Tithe, but if the Tithe doesn't happen, then the Unseelie faeries are free for 7 years.
But of course, as always must happen, some unexpected twists and turns in the plot occur, and Kaye and several people she care about are put in danger, and she has to make some difficult choices. In the end, Kaye discovers that having one foot in the faerie world and one foot in the human world is a challenge.

The whole story has an edgy feel to it, but is still totally readable. I give Tithe 4 out of 5 stars.

review by Katie Gisi

Nefertiti by, Michelle Moran~Review

Nefertiti by, Michelle Moran

Nefertiti and her younger sister, Mutnodjmet, have been raised in a powerful family that has provided wives to the rulers of Egypt for centuries. Ambitious, charismatic, and beautiful, Nefertiti is destined to marry Amunhotep, an unstable young pharaoh. It is hoped that her strong personality will temper the young ruler’s heretical desire to forsake Egypt’s ancient gods.

From the moment of her arrival in Thebes, Nefertiti is beloved by the people but fails to see that powerful priests are plotting against her husband’s rule. The only person brave enough to warn the queen is her younger sister, yet remaining loyal to Nefertiti will force Mutnodjmet into a dangerous political game; one that could cost her everything she holds dear.

My Review
This book was very well written I couldn't put it down I read it in 2 sittings! Michelle Moran brings you to the past and you don’t want to leave. I savored every moment in this book and was so sad when it ended. The story of Nefertiti is told from her sister’s perspective which I really enjoyed because I think it wouldn’t have been such a great story if told from Nefertiti’s perspective. The characters are all fully developed from the nurse to the Pharaoh and everyone in between. Just an all around Great Book. Highly recommend to anyone who has an interest in Egypt or historical fiction!
5 Stars

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Teaser Tuesday~~Nefertiti by, Michelle Moran

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!

Nefertiti by, Michelle Moran -Page 77-
Queen Tiye didn't wait for me to sit."Your sister has moved into my son's private chambers." Her face was inscrutable, and I was careful with my reply.
"Yes.She has entranced the new king,Your Majesty."
"She has entranced the entire palace," Queen Tiye corrected."She's all the servants talk about."
I thought of Ipu calling my sister Neferet,and what General Nakhtmin had said."She is bold, Your Highness,but she is very loyal."
Queen Tiye studied me."Loyal, but to who?"

I know this is a litle longer than a sentence but I loved this book and would recommend it to anyone!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Spellfall By: Katherine Roberts

This is a great read!! Natalie was at the supermarket and saw something floating just above the ground. She thought it was just a wrapper and decides to pick it up. Then out of nowhere an old man shows up. This is just the being. The wrapper is really a spell! A boy shows up and trys to steal the spell, and then Natalie discovers she is magic. A hole new world appears and she has the chance to join it but, before the choice is made someone trys to kill the soul tree(life source of new world)!!!! Join Natalie as she trys to save the tree and an entire world!

Katherine is a great writer and manged to tell a story full of twists and turns in only 247 pages. You go girl!

3 stars