Friday, December 30, 2011

Hope Falls, Season 1

Title:  Hope Falls, Season 1
Author:  Jamieson Wolf
Publication Information:  Books We Love Publishing Partners. 2011. 139 pages.

Book Source:  I received this book through the LibraryThing Member Giveaway program free of cost in exchange for an honest review. The book was delivered as a pdf attachment to an email.

Favorite Quote:  "It doesn't matter how hard you want to keep a secret. Eventually, it'll eat its way out of you."

Hope Falls, Season 1 is an unexpected adventure story. The main character Miriam is a middle-aged soap opera actress. She has played the same role on the same opera for the bulk of her career. She has one of the "lifetime contract." However, as ratings slip, she discovers the true meaning of a lifetime contract. She is about to be killed off on the soap opera and in real life! The book is an adventure as she and her friends try to outwit and outlast those who are chasing them.

Season 1 is obviously a precursor of seasons to come. The book ends on a cliffhanger and leaves many questions unanswered and some story lines not tied in. However, the book itself is a fast-paced adventure that keeps you guessing what's - or who's - around the next corner. Dead bodies, car chases, good guys, bad guys and a hideaway are all present.

An unexpectedly enjoyable read!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Not Yet 40

Title:  Not Yet 40, Episode 1
Author:  Koryn Frost
Publication Information:  Dunster Press. 2011. 24 pages.

Book Source:  I received this book through the LibraryThing Member Giveaway program free of cost in exchange for an honest review. The book was delivered through Amazon.

Favorite Quote:  "There's a fine line between not wanting to hurt him, and leading him on."

Not yet 40 is the first installment in a new series about a set of 30-somethings in Boston. The "episode" is short enough to be read in one sitting. It starts the story of Jessica, Maria, Susan, and Keith, a group of friends going through the trials and tribulations of life. It talks about relationships, dating, single parenthood, sexual orientation, and the ability of friends to see each other through life.

The series has the potential to be funny and interesting. Three concerns. First, this episode starts off with a graphic sexual scene. That is not my taste of reading. The detailed description is not necessary. Second, one of the characters is described as having  "foul" mouth. Again, the language is not to my taste. Third, this episode just introduces a story. It will be interesting to see if the characters and story line develop more fully as the series progresses. Hopefully, it will. The potential is there.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Come In and Cover Me

Title:  Come In and Cover Me
Author:  Gin Phillips
Publication Information:  Riverhead Books. 2012. 342 pages.

Book Source:  I received this book from the LibraryThing Early Reviewer Program. The book is a paperback uncorrected proof.

Favorite Quote:  "Surely no one wanted to disappear. An archaeologist sought out those who couldn't tell their own story, and then, bit by bit, she tried to tell it for them."

Come In and Cover Me is the story of Ren, or rather, it is the stories of Ren. Ren is in her thirties and an archaeologist dedicated to telling the stories of the people she studies. One aspect of this book is the story of "the artist," one Mimbre woman whose pottery Ren is tracing from different archaeological sites in the American Southwest. A second story is the love story of Ren and Silas, who is also a colleague. The third story is the story of Ren losing her brother Scott in an accident when she is twelve and the ramifications that has had for her family and her as an individual.

The books weaves together these stories as Ren learns that ultimately you have to let go of the past to move forward. She is haunted by the ghosts of the past - her brother and "the artist". Silas represents her present and possibly her future. The conflict between the two appears throughout the book. Not a new premise for a book - the past and the present. The setting in the American southwest and the descriptions of the Mimbre culture, however, add a fascinating element to the book. 

The writing style of the book is engrossing. It pulls the reader into its world. The descriptions are vivid, and the emotions brought out. An enjoyable book.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Reckless Witch

Title:  A Reckless Witch
Author:  Deborah Geary
Publication Information:  Fireweed Publishing. 2011. 304 pages.

Book Source:  I received this book from the author for an honest review. The book was delivered through Amazon.

Favorite Quote:  "Many parents raise a child in their image. Your mama was smart enough, and strong enough, to parent each of you the way you most needed."

A Reckless Witch is the third installment in Deborah Geary's Modern Witch stories. The first two were titled A Modern Witch and A Hidden Witch respectively. These books are part family saga and part fairy tale. The stories are about witches but are not dark and gloomy. They are instead bright, humorous, and lighthearted. A fun and easy read that leave you hoping that another installment is coming.

This installment of the series focuses on Sierra, an eighteen year old witch. Her mother disappeared when Sierra was twelve. Sierra lives through the foster care system and mourns the loss of her mother. She is discovered by the witching community when she is about to turn eighteen. They knew her mother but did not know about her existence. They welcome her into their family and community. She learns to let go and to trust.

The central themes of the book are the nurturing and protection of children and the balance between responsibility and play and caution and recklessness. Many of the characters from the first two books return and develop a bit further in this book. New characters are introduced who I hope we will see more of in the coming books. I look forward to hopefully reading further installments of this series!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Michael Belmont and The Tomb of Anubis

Title:  Michael Belmont and the Tomb of Anubis
Author:  Ethan Russell Erway
Publication Information:  Smashwords edition for Kindle. 2011. 320 pages

Book Source:  I received this book through the LibraryThing Member Giveaway program free of cost in exchange for an honest review. The book was delivered through Smashwords.

Favorite Quote:  "Walk through the chambers and halls, and imagine for a moment what stories this dwelling could tell, if only it could speak, if only we could hear it. Imagine what secrets must be hidden within these walls, for those who are wise enough to unravel them."

Michael Belmont and the Tomb of Anubis is the beginning of a series for children. Michael Belmont is a twelve year old boy. His parents are anthropologists and archaeologists who travel around the world working on projects. Michael and his sister Abigail sometimes accompany them and sometimes stay with relatives in different parts of the world.

This story has so many elements. It travels between Scotland, America, and Egypt. It unravels a mystery and conflict that crosses centuries. It has monsters, ghosts, werewolves, shape shifters, myths, and legends. Kidnappings and disappearances happen. Adult relationships such as recovering from a loss of a spouse and old loves are discussed. The ending is a clear lead-in to a sequel.

With so many elements, the story felt scattered and difficult to follow. The book is a long one. Towards the end, the different threads of the story do start to come together.  However, it is a long process to get there. It will be interesting to see if the follow-up books can develop the central theme.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Girl Who Fell From The Sky

Title:  The Girl Who Fell From the Sky
Author:  Heidi W. Durrow
Publication Information:  Algonquin Books. 2011. 272 pages.

Book Source:  I read this book because the story sounded intriguing especially as it is loosely based on an actual event.

Favorite Quote:  "You realize you'd do anything for them. Anything for them to be okay."

The Girl Who Fell From the Sky is a book loosely based in reality. It is the story of Rachel, who survives a horrific incident in which her mother and her siblings perish. She is the sole survivor. The central theme of the book is biracialism and raising biracial children. Rachel is the daughter of an African American soldier and a Danish mother. After her mother's death, she is raised by her strict African American grandmother. The book is about Rachel's struggles with her grief, her identity, prejudice, and her gradual understanding of her mother's struggles.

The style and structure of the book are difficult to maneuver. The story is told from different perspectives. Chapters move between characters and between different points in time. This movement keeps the book from coming together as a cohesive whole. There are only images and glimpses into each character and their perspective on that fateful day.

The story's message, however, is a powerful one. We are not defined by our race. We should be defined by our relationships and our actions. Yet, people still judge based on how someone looks. We, as a community, still need these messages as a reminder to fight prejudice of all kinds. Reminders to not behave in such a manner and reminders of the sometimes catastrophic effects of prejudice.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Not Quite Ordinary

Title:  Not Quite Ordinary
Author:  Ariana Knight
Publication Information:  Ariana Knight. 2011. Smashwords edition for kindle.

Book Source:  I received this book through the LibraryThing Member Giveaway program free of cost in exchange for an honest review. The book was delivered through Smashwords.

Favorite Quote:  "What she'd been noticing more often lately was that fifteen was a weird age. To be on the verge of adulthood, desperately trying to gain as much independence as possible, yet still clinging to the safety of childhood."

Not Quite Ordinary is a book targeted toward the young adult market. This is the first book in what is to be the Darkness Nears Trilogy. It is the story of sixteen year old Sarah, who has spent life feeling as if she is ordinary with nothing special about her and feeling like she is not good enough. At sixteen, she discovers that she is a powerful witch descended from a long line of witches and wizards. Of course, there is a prophecy and a battle of good versus evil. Her confidence and self-esteem grows as her belief in herself grows. A positive message.

The world of witches and wizards is a popular setting for books for the age group and a great place for imagination to take flight. However, some concerns about the book raise questions as to its suitability. First, the book ties its beliefs in witchcraft to the Wiccan way of life. Tying religious beliefs to a book aimed at young people is a challenging task. The book could still tell a story - the same story - without grounding it in a specific belief system.

Second, Sarah states revenge as a motivator and a satisfactory end result of certain extreme actions. (The cryptic tone here attempts to avoid spoilers). That does not seem to be an appropriate message to send to young readers.

It will be interesting to see what direction the other two books take. Hopefully, they will focus on the positive image of accomplishing great things if you believe in yourself.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Librarian, Book 1: Little Boy Lost

Title:  The Librarian, Book 1:  Little Boy Lost
Author:  Eric Hobbs
Publication Information:  Eric Hobbs. 2011. 98 pages.

Book Source:  I received this book through the LibraryThing Member Giveaway program free of cost in exchange for an honest review. The book was delivered through Smashwords.

Favorite Quote:  "You've got a chance to write your own story."

The Librarian, Book 1:  Little Boy Lost is the start of a delightful new series for children. The main character is Wesley, a young man who is a good student, an avid reader, a compelling writer and the target of the school bully. The bully is Randy. Wesley does have one friend, Taylor. The "Librarian" is the caretaker of the Astoria library, which, of course, is the place of legends and magic.

Based on the author's letter at the end of the book, this series will be the basis of The Librarian Book Club online, open to students in grades K-8. Each copy of the book includes an invitation to join the book club, which is being run in conjunction with Sylvan Learning Center and

This book takes place on a field trip to the library. It brings to life different classic stories children recognize and love. Stories like Peter Pan and Wizard of Oz. Wesley and Taylor's adventures are part the reality of school and bullies and part reality mixed with the stories. The messages to the readers are positive ones:
  • "Writing is magic that hides in plain sight, right under our nose, there for anyone to see."
  • "Life's what you make it."
  • "Don't ... hold[ing] yourself back because you are afraid."
  • "Write your own story."
The focus is on what you can accomplish if you believe in yourself. The book ends on a cliffhanger, ready to unfold in the second book in the series. I can't wait to read more and to share it with my children.