Search This Blog

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

To Buy or not to Buy

This one was a Kindle Daily Deal. The Science Fiction & Fantasy titles rarely ever appeal to me, but I liked the cover and it drew comparisons to Neil Gaiman, so I figured I'd take it out for a spin.

Eleanor by Jason Gurley
From Amazon:
Time is a river.

1985. The death of Eleanor's twin sister tears her family apart. Her father blames her mother for the accident. When Eleanor's mother looks at her, she sees only the daughter she lost. Their wounded family crumbles under the weight of their shared grief.

1993. Eleanor is fourteen years old when it happens for the first time... when she walks through an ordinary door at school and finds herself in another world. It happens again and again, but it's only a curiosity until that day at the cliffs. The day when Eleanor dives... and something rips her out of time itself.

And on the other side, someone is waiting for her.

My first impression:
1962. Eleanor seems very sad and she wonders what her life might have been like had she not met her husband Hob. She was a champion swimmer and was going to qualifiers for the Olympics, but she fell in love and had a child. Hob seems to care for her very deeply, but he is a gruff man that does not like to show emotion.

Eleanor wanted to get back into competitive swimming, but her old coach tells her she is out of the race. The effects of age and child-bearing have taken their toll, but she decides she is going to train anyway. Hob puts the idea in her head that if she can’t swim, then perhaps she can still dive competitively. So she goes to the ocean every day to swim and cliff dive. Her young daughter Agnes wants to go with her, but she is too young to swim in the ocean.

Her time at home is spent in a breakfast nook staring out the window. It seems to rain a lot where they live. Hob is older and seems broken physically and perhaps mentally. Eleanor loves him, but they keep their distance most of the time.

One day when she is practicing, she has had an accident and she twisted her ankle. When she went to the doctor for it, she found she was pregnant again and the doctor was telling her to stay out of the ocean and absolutely no diving.

Feeling her life being controlled by others and knowing her life’s dreams were passing her by, she drives down to the ocean, strips and jumps in the water.

Cut to 1985: Agnes is grown and she has twins, Esmerelda and Eleanor. The twins seem to be a handful. Agnes’ husband, Paul, is away at a Realtor convention. He is a failed architect that has settled for selling real estate. In his spare time, though, he makes models of tiny houses. Agnes is trying to get the girls ready so she can go to the airport and pick up her husband. She is stressing, the girls are fighting and she doesn’t seem too happy about her life at the moment.

The pacing in the beginning of the book is on the slow side and nothing ever seems to happen. Everyone just seems so miserable. There is no explanation for what happened to Eleanor which may come up later in the book, but this book did not grab me as I had hoped. One of the endorsements compared it to The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman and another to A Wrinkle in Time by Ursula K. Leguin, two phenomenal authors. But the promise didn’t hold up to the reality and I just could not get into the story.

Not to buy

Friday, August 8, 2014

To Buy or not to Buy

Welcome to my second installment of To Buy or not to Buy.  I'm not sure why I downloaded this sample as the book was not on my wishlist.  It was probably featured somewhere and I thought it sounded interesting.

Archetype by M.D. Waters
From Amazon:
In a future where women are a rare commodity, Emma fights for freedom but is held captive by the love of two men—one her husband, the other her worst enemy. If only she could remember which is which . . .

In the stunning first volume of a two-book series that will appeal to readers of William Gibson and Philip K. Dick, Emma wakes with her memory wiped clean. Her husband, Declan—a powerful and seductive man—narrates the story of her past, but Emma’s dreams contradict him. They show her war, a camp where girls are trained to be wives, and love for another man. Something inside warns her not to speak of these things, but the line between her dreams and reality is about to shatter forever. 

My First Impression:
The story is told from the first person perspective in present tense.  Emma wakes up and thinks and sees people and doesn't remember anything.  A few pages later, time has passed and she is in the company of a man named Declan who is telling her she is his wife, but she doesn't understand the meaning of the word.  They seem to spend every day sitting for some time in a lounge and that is all there is to Emma’s world besides her bedroom, but at night she has nightmares and dreams of a different world and a different man.

She doesn't talk about the nightmares, not of the details, to anyone.  She is monitored 24 / 7 with a video camera, so while she can’t prevent the doctors from knowing she is having the nightmares, she pretends to not remember.  Her dreams range from looking up at the stars at night to being in a test tube watched by a haunted man.  It’s a gut feeling to keep it secret.

First Sentence: My mind wakes, but the words essential to describe the stirring of my consciousness escape me.

Most poetic paragraph: Dust particles float in the air, a fluid, graceful contrast to the vibrating hum of the light above me.  The motes dance around my slim, pale fingers, escaping my grasp, frustratingly transitory, like everything else I experience.

And that sums it up for me, frustrating.  Time is passing by rather rapidly, but nothing ever seems to happen.  Emma is in a hospital for some reason we don’t know because she doesn't know.  We are only aware of what she is aware of.  Things only seem to happen in her dreams, which was the only interesting part to me.  The moments when she was awake were tiresome.  I didn't care who Declan was or anything about him.  I just wanted to find out what happened to her.

In this instance, I didn't think the first person present tense worked very well and I found myself wishing the author had written in past tense so that the narrator would have already been through this and we could have been given some insight as to what the heck was going on.  I was definitely curious about the back story, but was it enough to make me want to buy the book?


Not to buy

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Hits and Misses

I have been woefully remiss in writing reviews. I have been stacking up the books to review and the pile has been growing since last summer. While I have written reviews for some of the books I’ve read, I have sadly not been able to get to them all.

I have been wracking by brain trying to figure out how to proceed with getting these books read and I have finally come up with a solution. So, I present to you my Hits and Misses.


Awkward by Marni Bates
Book Description (From Amazon):
Publication Date: December 27, 2011
I'm Mackenzie Wellesley, and I've spent my life avoiding the spotlight. But that was four million hits ago. . .
Blame it on that grade school ballet recital, when I tripped and pulled the curtain down, only to reveal my father kissing my dance instructor. At Smith High, I'm doing a pretty good job of being the awkward freshman people only notice when they need help with homework. Until I send a burly football player flying with my massive backpack, and make a disastrous--not to mention unwelcome--attempt at CPR. Just when I think it's time for home schooling, the whole fiasco explodes on Youtube. And then the strangest thing happens. Suddenly, I'm the latest sensation, sucked into a whirlwind of rock stars, paparazzi, and free designer clothes. I even catch the eye of the most popular guy at school. That's when life gets really interesting. ...

My thoughts:
I had read Decked with Holly by Marni Bates and really enjoyed it. So I had to pick up Awkward which is the first in the Smith High series.

Awkward centers around Mackenzie who becomes an overnight YouTube sensation and not because she did something fabulous. She was video-taped doing something really stupid and it went viral. She was used to being an outcast and not one of the A crowd, but her overnight fame has caused her to be the center of attention. And it turns her world upside down.

Suddenly she is thrust into the limelight.

I just really enjoyed seeing a geek girl, one of the Invisibles, rocket to fame and how the Notables now suddenly want to be friends. All Mackenzie wants to be is left alone, but her viral life-saving techniques have made that impossible. I could relate to her because I was one of those girls, on the fringe. I’m not saying I didn’t have a lot of friends. I did, but most of them were just as odd as me, and we liked it that way. I don’t know how I would handle being in the spotlight. Would it go to my head? Mackenzie certainly does transform, but does she let it all go to her head or does she keep it real, remembering where she comes from?


Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo
Book Description (From Amazon):
Publication Date: December 11, 2012
From the moment Amelia sets eyes on Chris, she is a goner. Lost. Sunk. Head over heels infatuated with him. It's problematic, since Chris, 21, is a sophisticated university student, while Amelia, 15, is 15.

Amelia isn't stupid. She knows it's not gonna happen. So she plays it cool around Chris—at least, as cool as she can. Working checkout together at the local supermarket, they strike up a friendship: swapping life stories, bantering about everything from classic books to B movies, and cataloging the many injustices of growing up. As time goes on, Amelia's crush doesn't seem so one-sided anymore. But if Chris likes her back, what then? Can two people in such different places in life really be together?

Through a year of befuddling firsts—first love, first job, first party, and first hangover—debut author Laura Buzo shows how the things that break your heart can still crack you up.

My thoughts:
I thought this was a promising story at first. I downloaded a sample and like what I had read of it, so I ordered the book. It really didn't turn out at all as I had imagined.

There is a huge age gap between Amelia and Chris. He seems to like her, but in a friendly sort of way, and he’s protective of her. He has a crush one of the managers in the store, but Kathy is somewhat hot and cold with him. She generally ignores him, but he can’t stop crushing on her.

Chris confides his feelings about Kathy to Amelia. She tries to be supportive, but she is really trying to convince him to give Kathy up. AS it turns out, though, Kathy is just a diversion for him to get over the girl who really broke his heart.

The majority of people working at the store are older and of legal drinking age, but Amelia so wants to fit in. She goes to a party that one of her co-workers hosts. Chris has come up with another scheme to get Kathy’s attention, but she is off with another guy. Then he finds one of the other guys hitting on Amelia and plying her with alcohol. He gets pissed off and leaves the party.

Chris does seem to mess with her head and he confides in her at another party where they've been drinking that he’d be going out with her if she were just a little older. Amelia doesn't understand why he says it wouldn't work out between them. She is almost 16 after all.

Chris, although he does feel something for Amelia, can’t reconcile her age and he knows that it won’t work out. She’s just too young. He continues to pursue the perfect woman, whomever that may be, while Amelia still pines for him. Then he gives her news that will change their relationship.

Chris to me was a miserable, self-absorbed jerk. Their relationship was fine with me when he was being Obi Wan to her Luke Skywalker. He took her under his wing and showed her all the ropes, watched out for her and protected her. But once he realizes she has feelings for him and he starts to have feelings for her, he strings her along even though he knows the relationship can’t go anywhere.

I was more forgiving of Amelia. I remember the feeling of unrequited love. She never gave up hope. I don’t know how I’d feel in that situation. 15 is a young age and a 6 year age difference at the age is a pretty wide gap.

While it wasn't horrible, it just didn't live up to my expectations. I certainly wouldn't recommend this story to younger readers as there is underage drinking, underage sex and swearing.

So there you have it for this installment of Hits and Misses.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

To Buy or not to Buy

To Buy or not to Buy

I haven’t been reading much at all. I have a book I read in the elevator at work and one for the bath, but I am generally too tired to read in the bath these days. I see all the books in my TBR pile which needs reorganizing and I want so much to dive in, but I just don’t know where to start.

What I have been doing is cleaning up my book wish list and eBook samples. When I first got my iPad, I added samples of all the books I had on my wishlist. When I started, I was over 500 samples. Now, I am down to close to 300. I was reading them randomly before, but now I am reading them oldest to newest so I can clean up my wishlist at the same time.

It’s been working out pretty well, but then I thought, I spend all this time reading them and it makes it difficult to post reviews of the books I am not actually reading. So I came up with a new post to do periodically. I call it “To Buy or not to Buy”. So, without further ado…

After the Kiss by Terra Elan McVoy
From Amazon:
Becca and her boyfriend, Alec, attend different schools, but they make things work—mainly by being inseparable after school and on weekends. So when Becca has to take a job at a coffee shop, she is more than a little bit insecure about what this will mean for their relationship.

Meanwhile, new-girl Camille meets a haiku-spouting boy who makes her genuinely laugh, even though she can see an all-too-familiar loneliness in him. The kiss they steal on the back deck at a party takes her by surprise and leaves her wanting more.

What Camille doesn't know is that this boy is Alec, Becca’s boyfriend. And Alec doesn't know that Becca’s best friend has captured The Kiss on her camera phone.

Becca and Camille have never met, but their lives will unravel and intertwine in surprising ways throughout this beautifully crafted verse novel about love, heartbreak, and trust.

My First Impression:
Well, to start, it is written in verse. It is an interesting storytelling technique, but not always easy to pull off.

It starts off with Camille’s impressions of the new town and school she is moving to. There are no capital letters in her prose. She seems jaded, been there done that. Basically she’s laying out how it is the same crap, different state and even her old friends back in Chicago have versions of themselves in Atlanta.

Becca writes in verse. It is pretty tedious reading the minute details of a day in high verse. She and her boyfriend Alec go to weekly parties that she doesn't seem to care for and he seems to be the epitome of a frat boy type.

The story doesn't seem to unfold too quickly and while verse can be effective, in this case, it just seems to muddy the story and make it difficult to read.

Not to buy.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Stacking the Shelves - August 3rd, 2014

As part of my continual clean-up process of all things book related, I have been ordering used copies of some of the older books I have on my wishlist in an effort to get my wishlist more current. I add an awful lot of books to my wishlist, a lot of books recommended from other bloggers, some that I find when searching other books, some that are special deals. Whatever the source, I am making an effort to not buy everything I have on my wishlist which means I have become a little more critical when reading samples. I really am trying to curtail the book buying somewhat.

I don't feel as guilty when I am buying something used, but I gotta say that what I consider to be a Very Good rating and what some of these used book dealers consider to be Very Good are not even in the same stratosphere. I guess that is the risk when you're buying used. I used to be one of those people that had to look at every copy on the shelf and pick the best one. Since I no longer work in a book store and can't always be picky, I have learned to adapt, but come on people. A book with a crease down the entire front cover is not a Very Good rating! But I digress...

Anyway, here is my cache for the past three weeks.

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews.

Books Purchased:
Doctor Who: The Shakespeare Notebooks

17 First Kisses by Rachael Allen

On the Fence by Kasie West

Fat Camp by Deborah Blumenthal - Amazon Marketplace

Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd edited by Holly Black - Amazon Marketplace

Firebirds Rising edited by Sharyn November - Amazon Marketplace

Just Like the Movies by Kelly Fiore

Dream Factory by Brad Barkley and Heather Hepler - Amazon Marketplace

Death’s Excellent Vacation edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni L.P. Kelner - Amazon Marketplace

Kindle Books Purchased:
Voyager: A Science Fiction and Fantasy eBook Sampler From Harper Voyager US with contributing authors Richard Kadrey, Kim Harrison, Katherine Harbour, Bishop O'Connell, Tim Lees, Nick Cole, Jack Heckel, Erik Williams, Beth Cato, Jocelynn Drake, Sheri S. Tepper, Caitlin Kittredge, Joseph Nassise, Lexie Dunne

The Paper Magician (The Paper Magician Series)by Charlie N. Holmberg - Kindle First selection for August - For information on the Kindle First program go to Kindle First Program.

Obsidian (A Lux Novel) (Entangled Teen)by Jennifer L. Armentrout - Free eBook - I know I have this book in paperback and I already read it, but it was a FREE eBook and I can now take it anywhere I go.

The First Time by Jessica Verday, Rhonda Stapleton

 Manga Purchased:
Alice in the Country of Clover: Knight's Knowledge 1

Kaze Hikaru 22

Rin-Ne 15

Bleach 61

That's all for now.  Happy Reading!