Sunday, November 20, 2011

Enclave - Ann Aguirre

This one kept me enthralled from beginning to end. I don’t care for book comparisons, so I won’t compare this book to the one I have deemed my favorite of the year… but there were some definite qualities reminiscent of said favorite book making Enclave a distinct runner up. I connected with the characters easily and early on. The fluidity of Ann Aguirre’s words and the imagery she creates are spectacular.

Just look at this quote:

“There were different kinds of strength. I knew that now. It didn't always come from a knife or a willingness to fight. Sometimes it came from endurance, where the well ran deep and quiet. Sometimes it came from compassion and forgiveness.”

Deuce was born into an enclave ruled by elders who enforce strict, radical rules and don’t hesitate to punish those who fail to obey their orders. Those punishments are fast and severe. When their very existence becomes threatened, Deuce begins to realize that the elders may not have the most advantageous knowledge some claim. Together with her new hunting partner, Fade, they must seek answers and survival.

Fade is so captivating and left me yearning to know more about him. Deuce is a character I had no trouble becoming invested in. It was very easy to put myself in her place and wonder what I would do if this were my life.
One of the things that really drew me in was the fact the story is a “discovery” story. As a reader, I was right there with them searching for answers and pondering why the world had become what it was.

I found the naming ceremony to be particularly heartbreaking and I was deeply affected by the thought of not being given a name at birth, having to wait 15 years, and then relying on this ceremony for my moniker.

I was so disappointed to reach the end of Enclave, but I thought the conclusion was fantastic. I’ll be waiting with bated breath for Outpost, the next installment of the Razorland series.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Blood Bound by Rachel Vincent

“By blood, by word, by magic…”

I was torn between starting the Soul Screamers series or Blood Bound. Then I saw this hilarious quote from Blood Bound: “Cam laughed. ‘You know, my grandmother always said no woman with a decent vocabulary would resort to profanity.’ Kori huffed. ‘My grandmother said, ‘Get the hell out of my house, bitch, before I throw you out on your ass.’”

Fascinating and captivating; these are two words that first come to mind when describing Blood Bound. I loved the concept of the story. Four friends made a pact when they were kids, not knowing that one of them was a Binder. Now they are bound to each other, and one of them only has to ask and the others are rendered helpless to deny them. Helpless as in their bodies begin systemically shutting down organ by organ until they either fulfill their oath or they die. Some choice …and that’s only a fraction of the story. The town is basically divided into two territories. One side is controlled by Jake Tower and the other by Ruben Cavazos. Both are powerful adversaries and they hire the best binders, trackers, seers, shadow travelers and jammers money can buy.

I can’t imagine living in a world where I should never tell anyone my full name, or avoiding hospitals in order to never leave behind a drop of my blood for fear of being tracked and bound.

I struggled a bit in the beginning trying to learn some of the terms in the magical world Rachel Vincent created, but once I got the hang of it, I was sucked in.

The POV changes every chapter, and I wasn’t sure how I felt about that at first, but I really loved hearing the inner monologue of both lead characters. I do love a male POV and Cam does not disappoint. He is so charming and appealing. He and Liv have perfect chemistry:

“I realized that I'd rather die with you than live with someone else.”

The ending came entirely too soon and left me hanging in a way that has me pining for Shadow Bound (Unbound #2). I look forward to reading more of Rachel Vincent’s work!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Reason to Breathe - Rebecca Donovan

Emma is bright, kind, and beautiful. She is an outstanding student and an incredible athlete. Perfect life, right? Hardly. Emma has a secret. A secret no one should ever have to keep. This is a story of abuse, but it is also a story of hope, love and survival.

Emma Thomas keeps to herself. She allows herself only one friend: Sara McKinley. Sara knows Emma’s secret, or at least she knows the very few details she has been able to discover. Emma is counting down the days until she graduates high school so she can go away to college and, most importantly, escape her home life. She is focused, and nothing is going to deter her from her plans. That is until Evan Matthews walks into her life and shatters her private protective bubble almost immediately: "No one tried to get involved with me, and I kept to myself. This was the place where everything was supposed to be safe and easy. How could Evan Mathews unravel my constant universe in just one day?"
 Evan is determined to get to know Emma, and, once he does, he is determined to save her. Will he be able to rescue her from this nightmare? Will he be able to give her a reason to breathe? “I love that picture, he admitted softly. I think it's because I love the girl in that picture.”
 Reason to Breathe is a horrific, yet gripping, book. Abuse is not an easy topic to read about. It is real, and it happens every day. According to national child abuse statistics, over three million reports of child abuse are made every year. A report of child abuse is made every ten seconds. Almost five children die every day as a result of abuse. *

All I can think is: How many don’t get reported? How many suffer in silence just like Emma does?
Rebecca Donovan has written an eye opening and revealing novel. As hard as it was to read at times, it would be harder not to read it and ignore such a real and horrifying topic. I commend her for telling this story and look forward to its sequel as well as more of her work.
*Source for national abuse statistics:

Sunday, November 13, 2011

This Little Puggie Went To Market

So, what am I doing reviewing children's books, and why are they all about pugs?  The answer to that question can be found in the photos below.  But first, my reviews:

Lauren L. Darr was only 6 years old when she rescued her first pug. Her love of pugs led her to re-write famous books with an incredibly cute and creative "puggy" twist.  Inky, Sarge and Benji are her current pug rescues and the stars of her adaptations.

I have Little Red Riding Pug and The Three Little Pugs in my collection, and they are every bit as adorable as they sound.  They are the re-tellings of the classic nursery rhyme stories with the lead characters being Lauren's pugs.

Any pug-loving family would thoroughly enjoy having these books.

Next is Chick 'n' Pug by Jennifer Sattler.  The story of Chick 'n' Pug is very cute, but my favorite part of this book was the illustrations.  They are off the charts precious and the illustrations capture the life of a pug and its pupal stage perfectly.  The story is about a little chick who lives for adventure.  His hero is a Wonder Pug.  When Chick meets Pug, it is obvious to the reader that Pug enjoys napping much more than having adventures, but in Chick's eyes, Pug is every bit the hero.  Want to take a guess as to who actually saves the day?

Last, but certainly not least, is my favorite of all:

Unlovable by Dan Yaccarino was my favorite of the pug books I have read so far. Unlovable has a beautiful message for kids about self image and inner beauty. Alfred is an adorable little pug who is teased by his siblings, a cat, a parrot, and a goldfish. He is made fun of by the neighborhood dogs for looking different, for not being a good runner and for having a mouth too small to hold a ball. Alfred believes he is completely unlovable. When Rex, the new dog, moves in next door, they are unable to see each other over the tall fence that separates their yards. Alfred tells a big fib about what kind of dog he is in hopes that Rex won't find him unlovable. But what happens when Rex and Alfred come face to face?  I admit this story made me tear up, but it has an absolute happy ending and a wonderful lesson for both young and old alike.   

Finally, my inspirations for reading children's books about pugs:


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Before (Heven and Hell, #0.5) by Cambria Hebert

We have an old, southern saying that goes something like this: “If that don’t light your fire, your wood’s wet”. That is exactly what kept running through my mind after reading Before, the exciting prequel to Masquerade…because if that didn’t make you excited for a book, well, my friend, you are completely unexcitable. The fact that the author was able to draw me in with only 19 pages is an extraordinary talent. The story is spicy and sweet - with Heven being sweet and Sam being off the charts spicy! The cover of Masquerade already had me intrigued, but its prequel, Before, has me enthralled. And that cliffhanger? Sweet mother of all suspense! I can hardly wait to read the rest of Sam and Heven’s story and more of Cambria Hebert’s work. 

A huge thank you to the author for sending me a copy of Before in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Crossed by Ally Condie

I am a huge fan of dystopian novels. They are probably my favorite genre right now. I also love a book with tons of action, sitting on the edge of my seat, pulse racing, heart pounding, gasping for air… Sorry… drama queen moment - I’ve never really read anything that actually made me gasp for air… Anyway… While I enjoy the action-packed books, I still appreciate a slower paced, deeper, thought-provoking story, and that is exactly what I found in Crossed. I am a big fan of Matched and have been anticipating the release of its sequel. I’ve heard some negative reviews of Crossed with the biggest complaint being that it was boring. Well, apparently I am easily entertained, because I was never bored. On the contrary, I was intrigued. I have been so curious about the tentative relationship between Ky and Cassia. I understood their attraction to one another, but all they had in Matched were these incredible stolen moments. What would happen if they ever got any quality time together? How would they feel about each other without Society and the officials watching? What will they feel when they are given a short reprieve from the risk of hurting Xander, whom they both care so much about? Would Cassia still feel that same attraction to Ky? Or would knowing him better make her realize that Xander really is her perfect Match? Well, my questions were partially answered which now has me anticipating book 3. Well played, Ms. Condie... well played.

I love.
The most reckless thing of all.”

I admired that Cassia sacrificed so much to search for Ky (not going to lie, I don’t see myself digging in the dirt for any guy) and am so grateful that the entire book wasn’t her being one step behind Ky. Granted the way she found him was pretty coincidental, but I will take that over the aggravation of almost-but-never-quite catching up to him. I liked learning more about Ky and his personal demons. I’m still longing to know more about this mysterious, thoughtful boy “who writes in the earth”.

“Love has different shades. Like the way I loved Cassia when I thought she'd never love me. The way I loved her on the Hill. The way I love her now that she came into the canyon for me. It's different. Deeper. I thought I loved her and wanted her before, but as we walk through the canyon together I realize this could be more than a new shade. A whole new color.”


“Cassia and I sit as near to each other as we can. She leans into me and I keep my arms around her. I don't fool myself that I hold her together- she does that on her own- but holding her keeps me from flying apart.”

Seriously… the boy makes me swoon.

I really enjoyed learning about the farmers. Their story was heartbreaking and, at the same time, inspiring. Being a mother myself, Hunter and Sarah’s story evoked very strong emotions in me, and I ached for them.

“They dropped like Flakes -
They dropped like Stars -
Like Petals from a Rose -
When suddenly across the June
A wind with fingers - goes -”

I liked the introduction of other characters also… especially Eli. I missed Bram in this story and Eli helped fill that void nicely. It also reminded me how much more compassionate Ky and Cassia are than some of their peers.  It was refreshing to finally hear more about the Rising - another thing I pondered over. I’m just not sure I would be brave enough to want to find them. The stories of the Rising were hopeful, yet frightening.

I love Ally Condie’s writing. The way she words things is so beautiful. She takes an ordinary sentence and turns it into poetry.

“In the end you can't always choose what to keep. You can only choose how you let it go.”

I adore how she uses classic poems throughout the story and how those poems inspire the characters as well as the reader.

The end of Cassia’s journey in Crossed was like waking from a nightmare only for her to realize she wasn’t dreaming…. but no spoilers…. so I won’t say where Cassia ends up, or anything about the twist that is Xander’s secret, nor will I mention my suspicions about those creepy blue pills being justified. I will just say that all of those things will make the wait for the next book that much more difficult.

“Do not go gentle”.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Every Other Day by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Sixteen-year-old Kali D’Angelo is a normal, teenage, high school girl. At least she is every other day. On those in between days, she is something entirely different - someone who doesn’t run away from things that go bump in the night. She is someone who runs toward the things that go bump in the night and if they’re smart…they run away from her.

Every Other Day completely took me by surprise. This is exactly the kind of story I was in the mood for. No mousy female leads, no love triangles, and no syrupy sweet friends. What Every Other Day does have is one incredible, powerful heroine, amazingly likeable and snarky characters (oh, how I love my snark) and some seriously scary monsters. As strong as Kali is, (and let me assure you, she is tough as nails) she is also vulnerable - but only through her internal dialogue do we get to see this side of her. Another thing that caught me off guard was the humor that was infused throughout the story. This book had me laughing out loud at times. Jennifer Lynn Barnes’s writing is superb. I couldn’t put Every Other Day down and as for Jennifer Lynn Barnes’s other books… I can’t wait to pick them up!

I received a copy of this book for review from Netgalley.