Note about my Reviews

Dear Authors: The reviews in this blog are only personal opinions. I have absolutely no background in literature, writing or reviewing. I am a Librarian (actually a Library Technician for those who care OR know the difference) with a love for a good story. The opinions in the reviews are ONLY my OPINIONS. I am not commenting on the writers ability since well -- I am not a writer and never will be. If you are the author of any of the books reviewed here, my opinion is just that and not a judgment against you!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl: Audio Book Review

Beautiful Creatures (Caster Chronicles #1)
by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Hachette Audio
Read by Kevin T. Collins
Buy from Indigo

Description: There were no surprises in Gatlin County.
We were pretty much the epicenter of the middle of nowhere.
At least, that's what I thought.
Turns out, I couldn't have been more wrong.
There was a curse.
There was a girl.
And in the end, there was a grave.

Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she's struggling to conceal her power and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.

Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town's oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.

In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.

 The Good Things
  •  Really enjoyed listening to this one. All dark southern gothic love story, so much fun. Lots of paranormal activity, southern settings and nothing better than a southern drawl for the telling of this story
  • Narrator was perfect for reading the story.  Made the story come alive
  • Just want to hug and squeeze Ethan - a little angsty for my taste, but I still fell in love with him
  • Fabulous use of humour
  • Story unfolds nicely.  Little secrets let out bit by bit which totally keeps you trying to figure out what is going
  • Secondary characters are fabulous. Looking forward to learning more about them. Loved Link, Macon and Amma
  • House is a lot cleaner because I wanted to keep listening to the story and this way I could without feeling guilty
  • One of the Characters is named Marion and yes she is a Librarian - how can you not love that (if you don't get it -- give me a shout I will explain)
  • Secret Libraries - hello - awesome - want me a job there!
  • As soon as the audio book ended, I immediately borrowed the next story from the library. Hooked!  Can't wait to find out more
  • Boo Radley (FYI he lives!! -- Sorry I know its a spoiler, but I have to know if an animal dies ok)
  • Nice to have a male p.o.v.
  • Loved the scenes that go into the past
  • Lots of positive messages about literature and libraries
 The Not So Good Things
  • Was a wee bit irritated by the constant mention of key plot points.  I get it Gatlin is small town, nobody leaves, my momma dies and my dad is stuck in his room.  Made me feel like author thought I was stupid for not remembering these things
  • A lot of angst scenes (just remember I am 43 and not the target audience)
  • Have a feeling I am going to get frustrated with the drawing out of the story over 4 books
  • Remember I listened to this -- I had that damn 16 moons song stuck in my head for days (Ok honestly not really a bad thing as I really enjoyed it)
  • Would have been brilliant with some more editing
Favorite Quotes

“Teenagers. Everything is so apocalyptic.” 

“So you are a vampire."
"I most certainly am not." He looked annoyed. "That's such a common phrase, such a cliche, and so unflattering. I suppose you believe in werewolves and aliens too. I blame television.”

“Without libraries what have we? We have no past and no future. Just ask Ray Bradbury.” 

 3.75/5 Dewey's

I borrowed the audiobook from the Calgary Public Library

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Starter House by Sonja Condit

The Starter House
by Sonja Condit
William Morrow (Harper Collins)
ISBN: 978-0-06-228305-4
Buy from Indigo

Description: In the vein of Heart-Shaped Box and The Thirteenth Tale, Starter House is a haunting and skillfully told debut novel about a newlywed couple and their first home-a home that seems to be haunted by a very malicious ghost

Lacey Miszlak grew up homeless; her crazy mother dragged her from one terrible living situation to the next. But now she thinks the pieces of her life have finally come together. She's pregnant with her first child and she and her husband Eric have moved into the home of their dreams. She knows soon its beautiful sunlit rooms will be filled with the joy of the new family she will build there.

But there's a strange darkness on the stairway and an odd little boy who won't leave Lacey alone and soon she's forced to realize that a danger she never suspected is lurking in the hallways of her beautiful new home. She's going to have to solve a decades-old mystery to save her family from an evil that has lingered in wait for them for years

The Good Stuff
  • Author fabulous at setting a mood. It felt dark and creepy
  • Fast paced, it kept me reading even thought I disliked most of the characters
  • Unique idea for a haunting
  • Good mystery kept me turning the pages just to find out what happened

The Not So Good Stuff
  • Disliked the main characters. Felt Eric was a self-righteous, self-involved jerk.  Lacey was also just plain stupid.  Sorta wished both characters had died and the baby would be born and immediately taken to a more worthwhile couple
  • No Chemistry between the characters - so when it all ends all happy and loving I was irritated
  • Last 1/4 story felt rushed, confusing and than a happy ending
  • Felt like this could have been a better story with a bit more character development and characters that quite frankly were even remotely likeable
Favorite Quotes/Passages

"Lex well knew what evidence was. It was what they showed in court, to tell the things you did and make a story of it.  The lawyers told the story to each other until the thing that really happened disappeared. When you try to remember, only the story was left, until in the end you told the story yourself, the same story everybody else was telling. Evidence they called it."

"The night had taken a turn into a different kind of time, bubbling out of itself into a circle of nameless hours between three and four."

2.75 Dewey's

I received this from William Morrow in exchange for an honest review

Monday, December 16, 2013

Holiday Blog Tour: Hidden by Catherine McKenzie

I was excited to be asked to be part of the blog tour for Catherine McKenzie’s Hidden.  Catherine has graciously agreed to answer some questions

What’s a “Typical” day like for you?
 I practice law still so a typical day for me right now is being in court. 

What books have most influenced your life most?
 I always find this question so hard to answer! My life has been enriched by so many books; I’ve been a huge reader all my life. As a kid I read L.M. Montgomery and Laura Ingalls Wilder over and over. Growing up as a teenager I was a big reader of detective fiction – Agatha Christie, Rex Stout, Dick Francis, Sue Grafton. I also remember discovering 1984 and Brave New World one summer – a strange summer indeed! I only read Austen in my 20s for the first time and fell in love. I also love pretty much anything by Nick Hornby and Wally Lamb. In the past couple of years, books that stand out include: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, anything by John Green but especially The Fault in Our Stars, Shawn Klomparen’s books, The Banks of Certain Rivers by Jon Harrison and most recently, The Circle by Dave Eggers. You see why I find it hard to answer?

What was the first story you remember writing -- this could even be something you wrote in Grade 1?
I never really wrote stories as a kid, just poetry. Honestly – and this is going to sound weird I know – but the first story I wrote all the way to the end was the first novel I wrote.

How do you deal with negative reviews?
 It’s much easier now than it was in the beginning. I think I take the opposite perspective on this than many authors – I read all my reviews, I seek them out. It was the way I became desensitized to it. I’m not saying that when a particularly bad review appears that it doesn’t bother me, but I’m basically able to shrug it off pretty quickly. No book is for everyone, right? The ones that do bother me, though, are ones that aren’t really reviews, i.e. I’m giving this one star because it was delivered late by Amazon. Um, how is that a review of my book?

What are you working on now?
I can’t announce my next project yet in detail (though stay tuned for an announcement soon!). Hint: it will have something to do with one of my previous books.

If you could be one of the characters in your books, who would it be?
 Huh, tough one. I have a massive crush on Henry from Spin, so I guess I’ll take Katie J

What One book would you bring if you were stuck on a desert Island?
 Can’t bring just one! Oh, wait, yes I can: my copy of the collected works of Jane Austen. I have them all in one book that I found at a second-hand shop years ago.

What are you reading now?
 I just finished The Dinner by Herman Koch (disturbing but good) and am about to start S. by Doug Dorst (it’s based on an idea by J.J. Abrams, the person who invented the TV show LOST, which is a favorite).

 Thanks for the questions!

For those who haven't had the pleasure of reading Catherine's wonderful novels before, check out below for a review of Hidden (and links to my reviews of her other books)
by Catherine McKenzie
ISBN: 978-1-44341-190-5
Buy from Indigo

Description: When a married man suffers a sudden fatal accident, two women are shattered—his wife and someone else's—and past secrets, desires and regrets are brought to light

While walking home from work one evening, Jeff Manning is struck by a car and killed. Not one but two women fall to pieces at the news: his wife, Claire, and his co-worker Tish. Reeling from her loss, Claire must comfort her grieving son and contend with funeral arrangements, well-meaning family members and the arrival of Jeff’s estranged brother—her ex-boyfriend—Tim.

With Tish’s co-workers in the dark about her connection to Jeff outside the workplace, she volunteers to attend the funeral on the company’s behalf, but only she knows the true risk of inserting herself into the wreckage of Jeff’s life. Told through the three voices of Jeff, Tish and Claire, Hidden explores the complexity of relationships, our personal choices and the responsibilities we have to the ones we love.

 The Good Stuff
  •  Natural born storyteller - to me anyone who can write  a novel that has me wanting to ignore everything around me is truly gifted. McKenzie is truly the type of author that doesn't disappoint.
  • Characters are real, warts and all. These are people you know and feel for 
  • Great for book club discussions
  • No black and white, these are realistic characters with real problems that you will relate too
  • Uncomfortable, yet makes you think and want to make changes
  • Feels deeply personal
  • Couldn't put it down, even-though its usually the kind of book I don't enjoy
  • Almost like a mystery at times, you don't know what really happened until the very end
  • Hope and forgiveness main theme of story
  • I felt and understood all of the characters and while not always agreeing with the choices they made, I can see how they would make the decisions they did (even Brian)
  • Makes your heart burst at times
  • Really delves into whether honesty really is the best policy. The truth doesn't always set you free
The Not So Good Stuff
  •  Not a lot of light moments - which is something I seem to need and even more so since McKenzie does this so very well
  • I really didn't like Brian and found him to be pushy and intense
  • OMG I think McKenzie hates Rush - that is soooo UnCanadian ROFL     : )  (Not really a bad thing but had to mention for fun)

Favorite Quotes/Passages

"It itches where it meets my collerbone, but that seems fitting somehow. I don't want to feel comfortable on the day of Jeff's funeral."

"Everyone says that, but we all lie about things. Little things, big things. We all keep stuff hidden. And the longer you're with someone, the more stuff there is like that, I think."

"But how are you supposed to feel, really, when all your worst fears, things you'd never even imagined could happen, acutually do happen, actually do come true?
Hearts don't come with an owner's manua.
Someone should do something about that."

4.5 Dewey's
I received this from the author in exchange for an honest review  

Reviews of other books by Catherine McKenzie



Blog Tour Stops

December 3rd: Literary Treats
December 4th: The Literary Word
December 5th: Brooklyn Berry
December 6th: Freda’s Voice
December 9th: The Book Drunkard
December 10th: Peeking Between the Pages
December 11th: Bookworm’s World
December 13th: Cindy’s Love of Books
December 16th: Misbehavin’ Librarian
December 17th: Feeling a Little Bookish
December 18th: Novel Escapes

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Audio book Review: The Twelve by Justin Cronin

Again, another one I don't have to review so its going to be just some random thoughts

The Twelve 
by Justin Cronin
Narrated by Scott Brick
Random House Audio
ISBN: 9780307702043
Buy from Indigo


At the end of The Passage, the great viral plague had left a small group of survivors clinging to life amidst a world transformed into a nightmare. In the second volume of this epic trilogy, this same group of survivors, led by the mysterious, charismatic Amy, go on the attack, leading an insurrection against the virals: the first offensives of the Second Viral War.

To do this, they must infiltrate a dozen hives, each presided over by one of the original Twelve. Their secret weapon: Alicia, transformed at the end of book one into a half human, half viral—but whose side, in the end, is she really on?

Random Thoughts
  • A truly impressive book for the second book in a trilogy.  It felt satisfying and I am curious about what is going to happen in the final book
  • The ending was fabulous, you felt that the story could end here and you would be happy, but still be interested enough if the story kept going 
  • The problem from audio books for me is that I often have to listen to them while I am doing work or late at night, so I often miss little details.  So I think I know now what happened to Wolgast -- but I am not totally sure. Don't worry I will be buying the books for my collection so I will eventually read them again
  • Fabulous character development and truly outstanding world building, the creativity involved is positively brilliant 
  • Perfect uses of humour
  • Didn't want to stop listening too, I was often pissed at myself if I fell asleep while listening to (Yes I fell asleep I am a Full time mom, part time book seller -- I am one busy girl thank you very much)
  • Wanted more of Alicia
  • Again could have used less of the descriptive gross stuff and the thoughts of some of the depraved characters, but I am sensitive little soul so that isn't a judgement just a preference 
  • So many character point of views that it can be a tad bit confusing at times (Felt that in the first book too, but forgot to mention it)
  • Lots of twists and turns and many on the edge of your seat moments
  • Fascinating analogies
  • Great for book clubs as so many things that you can talk about (Don't want to give away spoilers)
  • Brick once again does a lovely job of the narration
  • The characters really are the heart of the story
  • Lot of surprised that you really didn't see coming 
Favorite Passages

“There was something in the pages of these books that had the power to make him feel better about things, a life raft to cling to before the dark currents of memory washed him downstream again, and on brighter days, he could even see himself going on this way for some time. A small but passable life. And then, of course, the end of the world happened.”

“Sorry, we made vampires; it seemed like a good idea at the time.” 

“The military was all about hierarchies, who urinated highest on the hydrant

"The greatest faith is the willingness to ask in the first place, all evidence to the contrary. Faith not just in God, but in all of us.”

4.5/5 Dewey's

I borrowed this from the Calgary Public Library

Audio Book Review: The Passage by Justin Cronin

This is my first audio book review and since it isn't one I am required to read, I am just going to do a quick review. I'm hooked on audio books now. I can get shit done around the house AND "read" a book - hubby is happier now as I want to hear more of the story, so I keep finding things to clean.

The Passage
by Justin Cronin
Random House Audio
ISBN: 9781415961766
Narrated by Scott Brick
Buy from Indigo 

Description“It happened fast. Thirty-two minutes for one world to die, another to be born.”

First, the unthinkable: a security breach at a secret U.S. government facility unleashes the monstrous product of a chilling military experiment. Then, the unspeakable: a night of chaos and carnage gives way to sunrise on a nation, and ultimately a world, forever altered. All that remains for the stunned survivors is the long fight ahead and a future ruled by fear—of darkness, of death, of a fate far worse.

As civilization swiftly crumbles into a primal landscape of predators and prey, two people flee in search of sanctuary. FBI agent Brad Wolgast is a good man haunted by what he’s done in the line of duty. Six-year-old orphan Amy Harper Bellafonte is a refugee from the doomed scientific project that has triggered apocalypse. He is determined to protect her from the horror set loose by her captors. But for Amy, escaping the bloody fallout is only the beginning of a much longer odyssey—spanning miles and decades—towards the time and place where she must finish what should never have begun.

Random Thoughts
  • Reminded me so much of The Stand by Stephen King. This is high praise as The Stand is my favorite book of all time
  • Extremely well developed characters 
  • Background story and world building is positively brilliant
  • Fabulous use of humour
  • Problem with audio book format for me is that usually if a part of a story is grossing me out or boring the shit out of me I can just skip the page.  In audio (well remember I am listening to it on my phone) is that skipping a bit is a pain in the ass so I had to listen to some descriptions (some of the characters are child molesters and well -- really sick bastards) that I would rather not have had to (Hey I do this for Stephen King too!)
  • Narrator had a good voice for the story, he was very easy to listen too. Unfortunately his voice was also hypnotic so when I was listening to it at night I often nodded off.  Also whenever he did the voice of Zero calling Grey -- it creaped me out (not a bad thing)
  • Now this is probably just me but I wasn't really sure what happened to Wolgast.  Again I often nodded off while listening to
  • Going to purchase a copy of the book so I can read it as well 
  • Was hooked in right away and often didn't want to stop listening to eventhough it was late at night
  • Could lead to some interesting discussions about faith and redemption
  • Truly epic literary apocalyptic tale - bravo sir!
  • I have a total crush on Wolgast
  • Spoiler - I wanna know what happened to Amy's mom!
  • This is a new favorite of mine and one I will probably be selling a lot of at work.  Already sold two copies the day after I read it
Favorite Passages

"“We live, we die. Somewhere along the way, if we're lucky, we may find someone to help lighten the load.”

“A thousand recollected lives were passing through her, a thousand stories - of love and work, of parents and children, of duty and joy and grief. Beds slept in and meals eaten, and the bliss and pain of the body, and a view of summer leaves from a window on a morning it had rained; the nights of loneliness and the nights of love, the soul in it's body keeping always longing to be known.” 

“Peter held up the book he had been reading: 'Moby-Dick; or, The Whale'.
"To tell you the truth, I'm not even sure this is English," Peter said. "It's taken me most of today to get through a page.” 

4.5/5 Dewey's

I borrowed this audiobook from the Calgary Public Library - thanks Jen  L. I am now hooked on audio books 

Quick Review: If Your Were Here by Alafair Burke

So very behind in -- well everything and since I don't have to post reviews for books that I purchased or were gifted, going to do a quick and dirty (not THAT kinda dirty) review for the next couple of books.

If You Were Here
by Alafair Burke
ISBN: 978-0-06-220835-4
Buy from Indigo

Description: Magazine journalist McKenna Wright is chasing the latest urban folktale-the story of an unidentified woman who heroically pulled a teenaged boy from the subway tracks, seconds before an oncoming train. When McKenna locates a short video snippet that purportedly captures part of the incident, she thinks she has an edge on the competition scrambling to identify the mystery heroine.

She is shocked to discover that the woman in the video bears a strong resemblance to Susan Hauptmann, a close friend who disappeared without a trace a decade earlier. Investigating her disappearance, the NYPD concluded that the nomadic Susan-forced by her father into an early military life, floundering as an adult for a fixed identity-simply left town to start over again somewhere else.

But McKenna has always believed the truth went deeper than the police investigation ever reached, and sees Susan's resurfacing as a sign that she wants to be found. Yet when she shares the image with her husband, Patrick, who was Susan's classmate at West Point, he isn't convinced.

What would have been a short-lived metro story sends McKenna on a dangerous search for the missing woman, a twisting journey through New York City that will force her to unearth long-buried truths much closer to home-to her own husband, who seems to know much more about Susan than McKenna could have ever imagined.

Random Thoughts
  • Interesting premise
  • Fast paced and never boring
  • Didn't feel a real connection to any of the characters, although they were very real and extremely well developed (though was irritated by McKenna due to stupidity at times)
  • Strong female character
  • Well done but not extremely memorable, a good beach read
  • Fabulous descriptions, made me feel like part of the story
  • Liked that one of the characters was named Porter (my maiden name, I know its a geeky thing, but it made me smile when I read his name)
  • Can't count the amount of times I wanted to slap McKenna for being so stupid and self righteous
  • Characters bonded over Buffy the Vampire Slayer - I know such a silly thing but I giggled and loved it

Memorable Quotes

"Maybe the kids hadn't changed after all. Maybe it was the adult who were different."

"McKenna was barely forty  years old, but with a Librarian mother and an English Teacher father, she was one of those rare young people who was more comfortable  with microfiche and dusty  microfiche and dusty notebooks than WAV files and thumb drives."

"But the boy was black, and Scott waas a white cop, and so - that's how this country still see things.  Maybe it will always be that way."

3/5 Dewey's

I picked this up at Book Expo America and am in no way required to say anything good or bad at it and I sure as hell received no money for it - just love to share the book love