Seriously, I Will Read Your Book ~ Linger by Maggie Stiefvater

“Seriously, I Will Read Your Book”

Linger by Maggie Stiefvater

Young adult writer Maggie Stiefvater pushes to Grace fulfill her destiny and Sam to grapple with his non-wolf form.

Linger

By Maggie Stiefvater

Scholastic Press 2010

Linger is available Amazon, Barnes & Noble and IndieBound

Back Cover:

In Shiver, Grace and Sam found each other. Now, in Linger, they must fight to be together. For Grace, this means defying her parents and keeping a very dangerous secret about her own well-being. For Sam, this means grappling with his werewolf past . . . and figuring out a way to survive into the future. Add into the mix a new wolf named Cole, whose own past has the potential to destroy the whole pack. And Isabel, who already lost her brother to the wolves . . . and is nonetheless drawn to Cole.

At turns harrowing and euphoric, Linger is a spellbinding love story that explores both sides of love—the light and the dark, the warm and the cold—in a way you will never forget.

Lara’s Review: With Sam not shifting he can finally start dreaming of a normal life. But, his ties to the pack are strong and not easily untied. After a run in with Grace’s parents Sam is on their ‘uh-oh’ list and Grace struggles to be with Sam takes on a more complicated tone.

Cole has pushed the limits of his human life and now he seeks the solstice of the mind of the pack, but he finds that sometimes what one wants and what someone deserves are two different things. Isabel discovers that being strong all the time is taxing and when Cole pounces into her life, she becomes further enveloped in the world of the wolves in the woods of Mercy Falls.

Each chapter in this book is dedicated to a different character point of view and mindset. For me, bouncing back and forth between four people created a barrier into really getting into the storyline. It didn’t help that I wasn’t all that interested in two of the people, Cole and Isabel. As a side character Isabel was interesting in the first book. But, for me personally, she is not a character I’d choose to spend one on one time with. Cole, turned out to be an important part of the book, but again, his personality wasn’t that appealing.

I appreciated the new struggles Grace and Sam had to deal with. As a reader I felt bonded to those characters as the story moved along. Their reactions and interactions with those around them felt very realistic. This sequel was good, but not as captivating as Shiver. I plan to read Forever. The end of Linger peaked my interest and I plan to read what Maggie has in store for the wolves of Mercy Falls .

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Seriously, I Will Read Your Book ~ Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Cover of "Mockingjay (The Final Book of T...

Cover via Amazon

“Seriously, I Will Read Your Book”

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Young adult author  Suzanne Collins  reveals the underground world District 13 and Katniss struggles to choose who she truly loves.

Mockingjay

By Suzanne Collins

Scholastic Press (2010)

 Mockingjay can be found at Amazon, Barnes & Noble  (Also in Kindle and Nookbook)

Back Cover: Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice. But now that she’s made it out of the bloody arena alive, she’s still not safe. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge. Who do they think should pay for the unrest? Katniss. And what’s worse, President Snow has made it clear that no one else is safe either. Not Katniss’s family, not her friends, not the people of District 12. Powerful and haunting, this thrilling final installment of Suzanne Collins’s groundbreaking The Hunger Games trilogy promises to be one of the most talked about books of the year.

Lara’s Review: Katniss has recuperated and is adjusting to life in District 13. But, even here life has its own perils and Katniss is still set on living life on her own terms. The only thing that keeps her alive is her Mockingjay celebrity status to unite the rebels into taking down District 1.

This book didn’t grab me quite as much as the other two untill the Assassin chapter. After that I didn’t want to put the book down. The first half of the book deals with Katniss adjusting to life in District 13 and all the complications of her mockingjay celebrity. The trauma of “The Hunger Games” is a constant, along with her desire to kill Presdient Snow. She struggles to define herself, who she truly loves and who is on her side. Once the Assassin chapter hits Katniss is on the war path to kill President Snow, but of course it doesn’t turn out quite like she planned.

Overall, this series blew me away. There are so many topics touched on that we all deal with; love, political control, opposition, death, media, survival, the list could go on and on. I particularly was impressed with the use of politics and media and how it touched on the negatives games present day society plays with. This series has become my all time fav.

Seriously, I Will Read Your Book ~ Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

“Seriously, I Will Read Your Book”

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Young adult author  Suzanne Collins  creates a world where one district rules over all and the Hunger Games is the ultimate reminder to keep you in your place.

 

Catching Fire

By Suzanne Collins

Scholastic Press (2009)

 Catching Fire can be found at Amazon, Barnes & Noble  (Also in Kindle and Nookbook)

 

Back Cover: Much to her shock, Katniss has fueled an unrest she’s afraid she cannot stop. And what scares her more is that she’s not entirely convinced she should try. As time draws near for Katniss and Peeta to visit the districts on the Capitol’s cruel Victory Tour, the stakes are higher than ever. If they can’t prove, without a shadow of a doubt, that they are lost in their love for each other, the consequences will be horrifying.

Lara’s Review: (Has spoilers) The second book takes off right where The Hunger Games  left off. Katniss realizes her actions in “The Hunger Games” have deeper ramifications than she thought. President Snow is plotting her destruction and the Districts are uprising using the mockingjay as their symbol of rebellion. When the Quell Games are revealed the victors find themselves back in the arena battling the enemy. But, who the enemy really is, is not clearly defined, or is it?

I read this book in a matter of hours. Again, I was captivated by Katniss’s story and her struggle to understand the complex world she lived in. The stakes were heightened when the threat to her family and those she loved became real. Her choices to protect them propelled the story in an unpredictable path. At first I wasn’t crazy about the idea of reading another game about her and Peeta being in the “The Hunger Games,” but as the story moved through the arena I saw how pivotal it was as a catalyst to move the uprising to the next level. This sequel did not let me down.

Seriously, I Will Read Your Book ~ The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

“Seriously, I Will Read Your Book”

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Young adult author  Suzanne Collins  sends readers on a journey where one district rules over all and the Hunger Games is the ultimate reminder to keep you in your place.

The Hunger Games

By Suzanne Collins

Scholastic Press (2008)

 The Hunger Games can be found at Amazon, Barnes & Noble  (Also in Kindle and Nookbook)

Back cover: In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, “The Hunger Games,” a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the Games. The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed.

Lara’s  Review: Struggle and hardship defines Katniss Everdeen’s world. As a resident of District 12 she is the daughter of a coal miner. After her father dies in an accident she does whatever she can to put food on the table and take care of her mother sister. Even if it means hunting on the other side of the fence line. The skills she acquires come in handy when Katniss takes her sister’s place in the “The Hunger Games.” A challenge to the death that the Capitol has created to keep each District in their place.

At the writers conference this year I heard lots of praise for this book. So much, I began to wonder if it would fulfill my expectations. It did. I could not put it down. I finished it in a couple of days. The world Katniss lives is dire and horrific, but there were moments of beauty and compassion. Katniss’s struggles, inner and outer, made for such a compelling story.

“The Hunger Games” was the pivotal struggle in the book, but only one layer. The complexity of Katniss becoming aware of herself, her feelings, how others saw her, the competition and the power plays all fed into the overall theme. Killing is not the focus of the story. There are no parts of overly written blood and gore. It’s more about the struggle each District has and the grip the Capitol has over all of them.

I chatted with a woman who was leery of having their teen read this book. After reading it my first thought is: It’s better to experience that world, that struggle, in a book then in real life. There are always going to be hardships that happen in life. If we read about them, or experience them in books it builds on our compassion and empathy toward others. The classic book Lord of the Flies was a lot more disturbing to read, as some of the boys went completely feral and violence became second nature.

In The Hunger Games, the kids are forced to kill. While some of them are trained, it is the games/Capitol that start this, not their inner nature. This story questions notions about freedom, liberty and happiness without politically shoving it in your face. It’s an undercurrent that weaves its way through the characters lives and reinforces the ideals we sometimes take for granted. If anyone asks I will tell them The Hunger Games is a must read.

Seriously, I Will Read Your Book ~ Haunting Violet by Alyxndra Harvey

“Seriously, I Will Read Your Book”

Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey

Young adult author  Alyxndra Harvey weaves a Victorian tale laced with ghostly visions, over-bearing mothers, murder and young love.

Haunting Violet

By Alyxandra Harvey

Walker Childrens (June 2011)

 Hauting Violet can be found at Amazon, Barnes & Noble  (Also in Kindle and Nookbook)

Back cover: Violet Willoughby doesn’t believe in ghosts. But they believe in her. After spending years participating in her mother’s elaborate ruse as a fraudulent medium, Violet is about as skeptical as they come in all matters supernatural. Now that she is being visited by a very persistent ghost, one who suffered a violent death, Violet can no longer ignore her unique ability. She must figure out what this ghost is trying to communicate, and quickly because the killer is still on the loose.

Afraid of ruining her chance to escape her mother’s scheming through an advantageous marriage, Violet must keep her ability secret. The only person who can help her is Colin, a friend she’s known since childhood, and whom she has grown to love. He understands the true Violet, but helping her on this path means they might never be together. Can Violet find a way to help this ghost without ruining her own chance at a future free of lies?

Lara’s Review: Violet, the daughter of a fake psychic medium, has been helping her mother trick people for years. Ghosts have never been something Violet believed in. But, this changes on a trip to the country for a Spiritualist show at the estate of a man of high society. There Violet is visited by the ghost of Rowena, a murdered debutant. Rowena is very persistent and Violet concludes Rowena won’t rest until she finds her murderer. With the house full of guests and secrets, everyone turns into a suspect. Luckily, Violet has Elizabeth, Colin and other ghosts to help her uncover the clues and unveil the secret yearnings in her heart.

I enjoyed this story, but it took me about half way through the book to become engrossed in Violet’s struggles. The pivotal part, when Violet’s world comes crashing down around her is when I couldn’t put the book down. Secrets are revealed, tempers unleash and love finds its way. The ending put everything into place and did not leave me wanting. The setting was well established, the characters unique and tangible. This felt more like a murder myster than a ghost story. I could see Violet’s life bloosming into a series. I would recommend this book, especially if someone is interested in history and ghosts.

Book Review Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey

Seriously, I Will Read Your Book ~ The Curse Girl ~ By Kate Ellison

“Seriously, I Will Read Your Book”

The Curse Girl by Kate Ellison

Young adult author Kate Ellison gives a modern-day twist to an age-old tale.

 The Curse Girl

By Kate Ellison

Ellison Books (May 2011) Ebook

The Curse Girl can be found at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords

Back cover: When her father tries to steal magic from the mysterious mansion outside her home town, seventeen-year-old Bee is the one who becomes a prisoner of the beast who lives there. But the so-called monster, Will, isn’t anything like she expected. He’s the same age as she is, for one thing. He’s also really handsome, contrary to the local legend.

Well, maybe the whole “beast” thing is meant to be metaphorical, because he’s a total jerk.

Between the house’s weird magic and Will’s snobby attitude, the situation is nearly unbearable, and Bee only wants to escape. But there are some major complications. The curse won’t let anyone leave, for one thing. Worse, the house and everyone in it are trapped in a separate time, watching the seasons fly by outside while they barely age at all.

Bee knows she has to figure something out fast before her boyfriend and family grow old without her.The witch who cursed Will left him a riddle to solve and an hourglass of sand to track his time left. And although she’d rather eat dirt than help Will, Bee has to work with him to figure out the riddle so they can break the curse, or she’s going to remain a prisoner in the curse house forever.

Because the hourglass is almost empty . . .

Lara’s Review: Bee is a modern-day teenager thrust into an awkward position. In order to save his wife her father has made a deal with the Beast. A deal she soon realizes is fraught with inner turmoil and hardships, not just for herself, but for all those trapped in the magical house. Bee and the Beast (Will) don’t hit it off, but as time moves on, they start to realize they have a common goal – to break the curse. As their journey together progresses they begin to see the beauty each possess and a change of heart has the two characters falling in love.

Kate’s rendition of this tale stayed true to the theme of the orignal story, but she put her own twist on them. Such as Will’s nasty attitude made him beastly. Rose, his sister, had roses growing out of her hair. The more she turned into a rose, the more they knew time was running out for all of them. The house was magical, and time passed differently there than it did outside. One of my favorites was Bee’s love for books because she loved making origami. The only paper in the house was in the books, so needless to say she tore that library up. Another twist was the addition of the Fae Lands, a place where unusual and magical creatures gathered. This in itself would be a great backdrop for a completely different story. On a side note a writer and/or avid reader might notice a some things to be edited.

Overall, the book was a good read. It was definitely written with its audience (12 - teen) in mind. As an adult I enjoyed it, but found the teenager attitudes a little frustrating at times, but their innocence was quite refreshing. The characters were engaging and their dialogue stayed true to their age, occupation and era they were from.

July 17th Author Interview with Kate Ellison. Learn more about Kate, her life as a writer and enter in the book giveaway for The Curse Girl !  

Seriously, I Will Read Your Book ~ Num8ers ~ By Rachel Ward

“Seriously, I Will Read Your Book”

Num8ers by Rachel Ward

Young adult author Rachel Ward drops the reader dead center in the ghettos of London and takes them on a countdown they’ll never forget. 

Num8ers

By Rachel Ward

The Chicken House (2006)

Paperback, Hardcover, Kindle

Num8ers can be found on Amazon & Barnes and Noble.

Back Cover: Numbers that pop into her head when she looks into someone’s eyes. They’re dates, the numbers. Dates predicting death.

Burdened by such grim knowledge, Jem avoids relationships. Until she hooks up with Spider and decides to take a chance. But on a date to London, Jem foresees a chilling chain of events. The city’s a target. The clocks running out. The countdown is on to a blowup, and her world is about to explode!

Lara’s Review: Jem is a city girl and feels a deep connection to the anonymity of London’s grimy streets. For her entire life she has lived with seeing the date people will die in their eyes. This has caused her to keep to herself and watch from the sidelines as life and death passes her by.

This changes one day when she befriends a teen boy called Spider. Spider doesn’t have long to live, so hanging with him will be like having a convenient friend. But, as the days pass Jem is conflicted about Spider and her gift. Should she tell him? Does she have the power to stop it from happening? Jem and Spider experience a catastrophic event in the heart of London. The misfits find themselves the center of attention and on the run. Out of the city Jem is pushed further out of her comfort zone. In the midst of sleeping in barns and hiding in bushes Jem realizes she is falling in love with someone who only has days to live.

This book blew me away. Jem’s character was so compelling and her teen voice was laced with the thoughts that signify the journey we all experience on our way to adulthood. Strong-willed, but unsure, a loner, but wanting relationships, hating her gift to realizing she can help others deal with their own mortality. I kept expecting the book to wane in the middle, but the story became stronger and Jem’s journey more resolute. I would highly recommend this book for teens and adults.

Please note: Parents please note there is a sex scene in this book. Rachel writes it with taste and portrays the awkwardness and excitement of the moment.

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Book Review ~Rahna Reiko Rizzuto ~ Hiroshima in the Morning

“Seriously, I Will Read Your Book”

Hiroshima in the Morning by Rahna Reiko Rizzuto

Historical fiction and memoir writer takes readers on a personal journey where history and memory are uncovered and the ties that bind are forever altered.

Rahna Rekio Rizzuto will be at the Muse and the Marketplace Conference in Boston April 30-May 1st where she will be teaching a memoir class and accepting the Grub Street National Book Award.

Compliments of Reiko

Hiroshima in the Morning

Rahna Reiko Rizzuto

Book Trailer

The Feminist Press at CUNY (September 14, 2010)

Paperback, Kindle, Nookbook

Hiroshima in the Morning can be found on Amazon, Barnes & Noble,  Feminist Press and IndieBound.

Back Cover: In June 2001 Rahna Reiko Rizzuto went to Hiroshima in search of a deeper understanding of her war-torn heritage. She planned to spend six months there, interviewing the few remaining survivors of the atomic bomb. A mother of two young boys, she was encouraged to go by her husband, who quickly became disenchanted by her absence.

     It is her first solo life adventure, immediately exhilarating for her, but her research starts off badly. Interviews with the hibakusha feel rehearsed, and the survivors reveal little beyond published accounts. Then the attacks on September 11 change everything. The survivors’ carefully constructed memories are shattered, causing them to relive their agonizing experiences and to open up to Rizzuto in astonishing ways.

     Separated from family and country while the world seems to fall apart, Rizzuto’s marriage begins to crumble as she wrestles with her ambivalence about being a wife and mother. Woven into the story of her own awakening are the stories of Hiroshima in the survivors’ own words. The parallel narratives explore the role of memory in our lives and show how memory is not history but a story we tell ourselves to explain who we are.

     Lara’s Review: Hiroshima in the Morning interweaves the memories and history of the bombing of Hiroshima, along with Reiko’s personal journey to rediscovery. Her journey starts in New York as a mother of two leaving her family for the first time alone. She will be gone for six months to research and interview Hiroshima victims in Japan. What comes out of her time there is not only a chronicle of the bombing and the effect on the victims, but also questions how memory plays a huge role in self-definition.

     At first, adjusting to life on her own is not what she expected. As the days progress she questions her memories, being a mother, her marriage and how she is evolving into the person she truly wants to be. The outcome creates an unexpected result.

     There has been a lot of emphasis on this book about motherhood and what “motherhood” means. That is part of the book, but it touches on so much more. Interviews with the Hiroshima victims, her relationships with the Japanese people and their stories are woven into the book seamlessly with her own story. Shifting from a memory of her own mother to the memory a hibakusha has of their mother. I throughly enjoyed this book. It gave voice to an important part of history and delved into life experiences that do not often get discussed. If you are a historical fiction buff, who likes a touch of personal, this is a must read.

 Why She Left Us was Rahna Reiko Rizzuto’s first historical fiction novel which she won the American Book Award for in 2000. Reiko is a faculty member at Goddard College in the MFA Creative Writing Program.

Author Interview to post April 20th.

Find out more about Rahna Reiko Rizzuto, her life as a writer, as well as, a chance to win a copy of Hiroshima in the Morning!

Seriously, I Will Read Your Book ~ Speculative Fiction Book Review ~What Have We Done? The Dragon Chronicles by Mike Bailey

Seriously, I Will Read Your Book

What Have We Done? The Dragon Chronicles by Mike Bailey 

Virtual Book Tour: Mike will be standing by live Sunday Jan. 9th (12pm-2pm) to answer any questions or comments!

Speculative fiction writer Mike Bailey takes readers on a perilous journey following a group of individuals who rediscover humanity and themselves after a man made experiment goes utterly wrong.  

What Have We Done? The Dragon Chronicles by Mike Bailey

(August 20, 2010)

ISBN-13: 978-0557224852, Paperback, 146 pages, $18.80 
Also available in Kindle $6.99   
 
Back Cover: A secret underground scientific facility, operated by global shadow governments, develops a creature capable of living and traveling in outer space. The purpose? To explore space for us and return to us with information on what they find. Unfortunately for us, the creatures learn to hate mankind, and they’ve just gotten loose. Now, small pockets of survivors must rebuild while learning to combat the most ferocious living thing ever known to man.

Mike Bailey’s book is available at Amazon.

Lara’s Review: The first few chapters of the book are information driven and create the setting, as a short lived character becomes aware of the underground facility which is creating controversial genetic experiments run by global shadow governments. The real action begins when the genetic experiment, which happen to look like dragons, retaliates and ends up wiping out most of the human population. Misha Korenski, who is the steadfast and unwavering main character, faces the reality of what she must do to destroy, that which she helped create. Luckily there are a few surviors to help her, and together they risk their lives to bring peace back to planet earth, or do they?

This speculative fiction story combines conspiracy, scifi and fantasy, with splashes of heroics, a little erotic romance and a intracate and highly detailed setting. This story is about the flaws of humanity, but by the end, it is really a story about the preserverance of the human spirit. As the gentically enginered dragons unleash their terror on the entire planet the group of survivors discover they have what it takes to overcome them while at the same time are forced to address and change the flaws of the system. Some of the scenes are nail bitting and heart thumping as the group does what they have to, to survive. Along the way the reader is confronted, along with the characters, that human nature and love has a way of thriving even in the worst of conditions.

Be warned the book does contain descriptive love scenes and is not really age appropriate for young readers.

Dragon Bound -Second book in the Works!

Author Interview Coming Soon!

As part of Mike’s Virtual Book Tour I will be interviewing him about his books and his life as a writer, which will be posted on Sunday February 6th, 2011. If you are a speculative fiction reader who loves some conspiracy and scifi thrown in you will not want to miss what he has to say and a chance to win What Have We Done? The Dragon Chronicles.

Podcasting & English royals

Elizabeth Woodville

 

A very productive 3 day weekend. Spent the majority of it recording chapters from The Vanishing Island and Lost Skin (Aine, Wei Shu and Finn). Podcasting is a lot of fun, but if you are adding sound it is quite time-consuming. Reminded me of my journalism class college days where I my project was a Irish radio show with Irish music and poets. 

When my fingers were numb and my brian fried I cuddled up with The Lost Queen by Phillipa Gregory about Elizabeth Woodville. She is quite an interesting historical character. 

It is great to be learning more about English royal history besides the Tudors, which has been my main focus. It has definitely helped me understand all the factions and fighting for the throne. Historical fiction is such a great genre. Puts characters and timelines in perspective and gives the figures a real tangible quality. 

With that book finished I am now going to read The Thistle and the Rose about Margaret Tudor by Jean Plaidy. Yes, back to the Tudors. Just can’t seem to get enough!  

Tonight hopefully my writer’s block will break and I can finish writing a scene where Finn discovers his golden necklace has magical powers. 

Cheers!