Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Book Review: Ouf Of The Easy by Ruta Sepetys

4 out of 5 hearts

I was introduced to this book by my Goodreads friends who gave it great reviews.  Aside from that, I am obsessed with all things NOLA - New Orleans, Louisiana - or as some folks say:  "Nawlins".  So, I had to read it and I'm glad I did.  

Set in the 1950's New Orleans,  Josie Moraine is an intelligent bookworm.  But most noticeably, she is the daughter of a brothel prostitute.  How could the life of a prostitute's child be?  Josie knows the life to well and even though she is nothing like her mother, who is the most selfish person on the earth, the stigma of her upbringing haunts her every day of her life.  If her mother's profession wasn't enough to hinder Josie's future, it seems that her mother tries to do everything in her power to ruin Josie's life.

While working in the bookstore one day, which also houses her apartment, see meets a successful and handsome man from Memphis.  Josie has never met her father and this man is the epitome of her perfect father figure.  He opens the doors to New Orleans high society and a new college friend for Josie.  She is caught in the fine line between two worlds, the privileged and the underworld.  The Memphis man's sudden murder crashes down on her and she is tangled in the investigation to find his murderers.  Willie, the brothel madam, is her only chance for survival in the tough streets of the French Quarter.  Will Josie ever make it out?

I found the very first line of this book to be enticing!  It reads:  "My mother's a prostitute."  Doesn't that make you want to find out what happens next?  It did for me.  Even though this is set in the underworld of the French Quarters with prostitutes and gangsters, it focuses more on how Josie is dealing with it and how much it has affected her.  She is nothing like the people that surround her but their actions have great consequences that affect her.  She just wants to be a regular college girl and has the intellect to get in.  But she is the type of person that always puts other ahead of her, even if they don't deserve it.  This is a story about bravery, innocence, and dreams for a better life and what she has to do to get there.

I really enjoyed this book.  One of my favorite characters was Willie, the madam.  Although the story is based around Josie, there are other little sub-stories through out the book that make it even more interesting.  I haven't read Between Shades of Gray yet, but trust me, its on my TBR list for sure!

“Sometimes we set off down a road thinkin' we're goin' one place and we end up another. But that's okay. The important thing is to start.” - Ruta Sepetys, Out of the Easy

Hardcover, 346 pages
Published February 12th 2013 by Philomel Books
ISBN 039925692X (ISBN13: 9780399256929)
Edition language:  English

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Rambling: I know, I know. I've been off my game.

But I do have a good reason:  my home internet has been iffy for the past few weeks!  *Shakes fist at Verizon.*  But, we are getting a new internet provider today!  At the moment, I am stealing a few moments at work to type this up, so let me make it quick and sweet.  

I've still been reading and have a whopping 11 BOOKS to review for your pretty little eyes.    If you'd like to know, here is the list (the latest read is on top, the oldest on bottom):

Siege and Storm 
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
Openly Straight
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (Miss Peregrine, #1)
The Ocean at the End of the Lane
Eleanor and Park
Out of the Easy
Sold - Review and Book Club Discussion

I am hoping to have a new review up by August 1st, at the absolute latest, if our internet is installed soon and working.

I hope you are having a great summer!


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Book Review: Pivot Point by Kasie West

3.5 out of 5 hearts

I learned of this book while I was researching for a Book Watch a while back.  I did not feature this book for the Book Watch, but added it to my TBR list.  By the time I did start reading this, I had forgotten about the plot, so I was not expecting it.

Addie is a Searcher - a person that can "search" the future to find out the outcome of a decision she can or has to make.  She lives in a Paranormal compound which is a secluded town of paranormal individuals and families.  Despite her abnormality, she lives a regular life as a regular teen in the compound.  Yes, her high school is only for the gifted, but that's the only difference.  Her dad is a live lie detector and her mother is has the power of persuasion.  One day they hit her with the news of their divorce and she is given the opportunity to choose which parent she will live with.  If she chooses her dad, she will live the compound and live among normal people and hide her talent.  On the other hand, if she chooses her mom, she will be able to stay at the home and live the life she already knows.  

Even though her gift can be useful, it is also her curse.  She can use it to search into the future and figure out which decision will benefit her most, but she will know what happens each moment of each day and life loses it's spontaneity.  She lays down and searches six months in the future; this is the biggest search she has ever made.  Her hope is to find the outcome of one decision to be much better than the other, but what happens when they are both as bad?

The premise may not sound all that, but I really enjoyed how West told the story.  We know that Addie has two options and, therefore, two futures.  As she is searching, we read both futures as if they were happening at the very moment.  To make things even more interesting, West switches between futures with every other chapter.  So, one chapter it is her future with her dad and the next future is with her mom.  Even though there are different consequences, we can see how her futures overlap and some things are inevitable with either decision.  West addresses the question of all time:  Destiny versus Fate.

It was a pretty quick read for me and the ending was great.  It was not one of those endings you could guess at all, at least I didn't.  Definitely worth the read.


Hardcover, 343 pages
Published February 12th 2013 by HarperTeen
ISBN 0062117378 (ISBN13: 9780062117373)
Edition language:  English

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Book Watch: Billy Moon by Douglas Lain

Billy Moon by Douglas Lain is expected to release on August 27, 2013 by Tor Books.

This is Douglas Lain's debut novel and a very interesting one indeed.  It is the re-imagining the life of Christopher Robin Milne, the son of A.A. Milne who is the author of Winnie the Pooh.  If that doesn't peak your interest, I will mention that it is Magical Realist and discusses the political uproar during the civil rights movement of 1968, especially with the Occupy Movement a huge part of present day America.
In Douglas Lain's debut novel set during the turbulent year of 1968, Christopher Robin Milne, the inspiration for his father’s fictional creation, struggles to emerge from a manufactured life, in a story of hope and transcendence.
Billy Moon was Christopher Robin Milne, the son of A. A. Milne, the world-famous author of Winnie the Pooh and other beloved children's classics. Billy's life was no fairy-tale, though. Being the son of a famous author meant being ignored and even mistreated by famous parents; he had to make his own way in the world, define himself, and reconcile his self-image with the image of him known to millions of children. A veteran of World War II, a husband and father, he is jolted out of midlife ennui when a French college student revolutionary asks him to come to the chaos of Paris in revolt. Against a backdrop of the apocalyptic student protests and general strike that forced France to a standstill that spring, Milne's new French friend is a wild card, able to experience alternate realities of the past and present. Through him, Milne's life is illuminated and transformed, as are the world-altering events of that year.
There isn't too much buzz for this book yet.  At present, it only has one review on Goodreads, which is a 5 star review.  However, I think it is because it is his debut novel.  He has published a number of short stories, usually fantasy, and this is much different that most of his work.  Nevertheless, its on my TBR.


Billy Moon by Douglas Lain
Hardcover, 272 pages
Expected publication: August 27th 2013 by Tor Books

Monday, June 10, 2013

Book Review: Of Poseidon by Anna Banks

2 out of 5 hearts

The manuscript I am working on, and have been working on for over a year, is influenced by Greek mythology.  I was curious to read other YA books that share this concept and this one sounded like it did.

Emma bumps into Galen at the beach in Destin, FL.  He his tall, dark, and handsome with violet eyes and olive skin.  She is pale with powder hair and the same violet eyes.  Galen is Syrena, a merman, and he was attracted to Emma because she could be too.  Galen heard that Emma could communicate with sea creatures, which is hard to believe because she acts and lives like a regular human.  However, a deadly fight with a shark gives Galen some indication that maybe the rumor was right and Emma has the gift.  Emma, on the other hand, has no awareness of this "gift" or Syrena or anything other than normalcy.  

Despite his sister's objections, Galen decides to follow Emma back to New Jersey, where he sets up a temporary home and cover for his human life.  If he couldn't make it more obvious, he has the same exact class schedule as Emma.  He senses her like he has sensed no one else and whether or not she has the gift, Galen tries to understand his feelings for her.  And Emma for him.  

I began reading this book twice before finally reading it fully the third time.  It is written in both points of views, Emma and Galen, but the transitions were sloppy and it was hard figuring out who was telling the story.  Better yet, there were no key indicators in the change of voice besides the change in pronouns.  I know that lately, I've been really digging my claws in to author's writing style.  The reason is that this is has a great impact on the reader's experience.

This is Book One of the series and it read exactly as such.  The entire time that I was reading it, I was expecting a turn of events, a climax, the plot to thicken.  But before I knew it, it was over and nothing happened.  It set up the storyline for Book Two and that was it.  This factor here was this book's biggest detriment.  We do find out about where the title comes from and the back story to Emma, but that's it.  There was no action.  There is romance involved, but it wasn't the foundation of the plot.  It derived from it.  

This turned out to be more focused on merpeople than Poseidon, so it didn't reference Greek mythology, actually, which wasn't a big deal.  Banks does explain the reference of Poseidon.  

Of Triton is the next book, which is already out, but I doubt that I will be reading it.


Hardcover, 324 pages
Published May 22nd 2012 by Feiwel & Friends
ISBN 1250003326 (ISBN13: 9781250003324)
Edition language:  English

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Book Review: Shadow And Bone by Leigh Bardugo

4 out of 5 hearts

After reading this book, I feel like such a buffoon because I have been following Bardogo on Twitter and did not connect this greatness of a book to her.  I read it because a few people that I follow in Goodreads read it recently and gave it great reviews.  And I am totally on that wagon!

Alina and Mal were two orphans that grew up in a Duke's compassionate home.  They share no blood relation, but their unfortunate childhoods have bonded them.   However, Alina sees Mal in a different way and would rather bite back her feelings than risk the chance of loosing him. They join the military - Mal is a tracker and Alina is a map-maker.  Their troop is on the way to the Shadow Fold, a stretch of land that is encased in a dense, opaque blackness that hides flocks of volka.  Volkas are blind, flesh-eating birds that fear light only, not even the Darkling's power can overcome them.  As they struggle to cross the Fold, they are attacked by the Volkas.  Just as Alina holds Mal in her arms awaiting her death, her power reveals itself and they survive.  

However, after her revelation, she is unable to speak with Mal.  Even though she did save his life, she remembers in great detail the look on his face when he saw her display her power once more in the presence of the Darkling.  After her reveal, the Darkling, the most powerful Grisha (kind of like a witch) takes her under his wing to help Alina train and learn to control her gift.  Since he works for the King and the Grishas help the military, Alina becomes his most prized possession and weapon against the Shadow Fold. Mal stays behind with the military and Alina moves to the Little Palace, where she is surrounded by Grishas and the noble.  She has left her simple life behind her to absorb one of grandeur but at the cost of the person she loves the most.  The Darkling vows to nurture and protect her, but can he fill the emptiness Mal left and does he have a hidden agenda?

Bardugo possess great skill as a writer and world-builder that is is hard to not enjoy this book.  This is very important in Epic Fantasy books, such as this one and the likes of Lord of the Rings, because they have to create a world the reader can believe and follow.  The concept of this book is very refreshing, especially when there are plenty of paranormal and dystopian novels out there.  

One other thing I will point out is that this didn't read like the first book of a series.  Lately, I have been reading a lot of book ones that are mostly about setting up the scene for book two.  Shadow and Bone could very well read like a stand alone book, so I felt that it had a great story line of its own.  

Although this is a bit more mature YA because of the violence and kvas-drinking, it was not bothersome or overwhelming.  The second book Siege and Storm was released on June 4, 2013.  Additionally, Shadow and Bone is coming to film!  

“And there's nothing wrong with being a lizard either. Unless you were born to be a hawk.” - Leigh Bardugo, Shadow and Bone

Hardcover, 356 pages
Published June 5th 2012 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) (first published May 17th 2012)
ISBN 0805094598 (ISBN13: 9780805094596)
Edition language:  English

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Book Review: Let The Sky Fall by Shannon Messenger

Let the Sky Fall (Let the Sky Fall, #1)

2.5 out of 5 hearts

I was attracted to this book because main character was male and the author was female.  For some weird reasons, I find women authors that write from a male perspective fascinating, especially if it is a well written book.  

Vane Weston is a typical seventeen year old, except for two things:  he has not kissed a girl yet and he survived a category 5 tornado when he was little.  The tornado killed his biological parents.  He lives with the guilt that he can not remember anything before or during the tornado, not even a glimmer of his beloved parents.  Now, he lives with his adoptive parents in the hottest place in the U.S.  However, a consistent dream of a dark haired girl is another remnant of the after effects of the tornado.  Vane doesn't know who she is, but he dreams of her every night and yearns to meet her.  While on a date with a Canadian girl, he sees her - the girl of his dreams.  He ditches his date and runs after her, hoping to catch up to her but she his no where to be found.  While on another date with this Canadian, a sudden burst of wind stops him from kissing her.  The wind blast was produced by the girl of his dreams and he gets the chance to finally meet her.

The girl of his dreams is Audra, an air elemental and Vane's guardian.  She has sworn to protect him at all costs, even with her own life, because his is the last living Westerly - a sylph that can control the West winds.  In trying to stop the kiss, she accidentally calls to the wind and gives away their location to be tracked down by a vicious gang of sylphs that are controlled by an evil sylph.  This evil sylph can command the three winds and needs to learn the language of the fourth wind - West winds - to gain absolute power. He has killed every other Westerly as he tried to torture them into teaching him the language of the West winds, including Vane's parents.   Vane is his last key to the West winds.  And thanks to Audra's impulse, he is able to track him down and this puts Vane's freedom in grave danger.  

As I was writing up this review, my rating for it dropped from an original rating of 3.5 for a few reasons.  In regards to the writing, I realized that although Vane was male, the way his character was written was very feminine.  I think it is very difficult for a person to write from the POV of the opposite sex.  I think Messenger made a good attempt but if you were to substitute the male pronouns for female ones, it would be a seamless transition and that is not a good thing.  Since I am working on my own novel, I was doing some research yesterday and I read a few articles of clichés to avoid in writing.  Here were some of the main ones that are all over this book:  veiling your message in a dream, the fact that the hero was the "chosen one", and broadcasting an upcoming plot twist.  

Let me dig further into that last cliché and the one factor that made my rating for it dwindle.  Messenger literally set up the end. She told you when the bad guys were coming to prepare you for the upcoming fight.  It was irreversible and gave away the ending.  The climax itself wasn't original either so broadcasting it made it worse.  There was one character at the end that did a bit of a 180, but it would've been more effective if she combined this with the climatic scenes.

So there you have it.  It was a great idea but the writing could've made it better.  However, it is the first of the series so maybe the next one will make up for this one.  


Let the Sky Fall by Shannon Messenger
Hardcover, First Edition, 416 pages
Published March 5th 2013 by Simon Pulse
ISBN 144245041X (ISBN13: 9781442450417)
Edition language:  English