Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Angel Experiment

The Angel Experiment (Maximum Ride, #1) The Angel Experiment by James Patterson


My rating: 4 of 5 stars
What I liked: This book was impossible to put down. I picked it up planning to skim it to make sure it was appropriate for my 8 year old, and wound up spending two nights reading the whole.durn.book. The characters were interesting, the writing was good, and the book threw you into the action right from the start.

What I didn't like: While there was a lot of action, the plot was a little hazy. At first it seemed very clear-cut when one of the flock's members is kidnapped, but the resolution only took the first third of the book.

Final Thoughts: This was just what I needed to kick my reading slump. I'm a little uncertain if I'll let The Spawn read it, the language and content was PG enough, but the graphic violence has me concerned that he might not be ready for it.

Pub. Date: 04/11/2005

Series: Maximum Ride Book 1

Synopsis: Fourteen-year-old Maximum Ride, better known as Max, knows what it's like to soar above the world. She and all the members of the "flock"—Fang, Iggy, Nudge, Gasman and Angel—are just like ordinary kids—only they have wings and can fly. It may seem like a dream come true to some, but their lives can morph into a living nightmare at any time...like when Angel, the youngest member of the flock, is kidnapped and taken back to the "School" where she and the others were experimented on by a crew of wack jobs. Her friends brave a journey to blazing hot Death Valley, CA, to save Angel, but soon enough, they find themselves in yet another nightmare—this one involving fighting off the half-human, half-wolf "Erasers" in New York City. Whether in the treetops of Central Park or in the bowels of the Manhattan subway system, Max and her adopted family take the ride of their lives. Along the way Max discovers from her old friend and father-figure Jeb—now her betrayed and greatest enemy—that her purpose is save the world—but can she?

Recommended Reading:
School's Out - Forever (Maximum Ride Book 2) by James Patterson
Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports (Maximum Ride Book 3) by James Patterson
The Final Warning (Maximum Ride Book 4) by James Patterson
MAX (Maximum Ride Book 5) by James Patterson
City of Ashes (Mortal Instruments Book 2) by Cassandra Clare

Saturday, June 26, 2010

More Than Words Bookstore

There's a new bookstore in town. A much needed new bookstore. B. Dalton closed in December leaving the town stranded with the choices at department stores (Wal-Mart, Target and Shopko), the library, and a used bookstore. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with any of these book sources. Department stores are often more inexpensive than bookstore or online sources. They also have limited selections and variety. I'm a fan of the library. My kids and I often spend snowy or rainy weekends there. It's due dates that usually hang me up. I also support recycling books - by either a used bookstore or my favorite site: paperbackswap. But sometimes I get a little impatient. I need that book right.NOW. And I finally have the solution. More Than Words Bookstore (check them out on FaceBook!).

I almost didn't go. A friend of mine went and walked away less than impressed. I had already told The Spawn that we were going and he wasn't going to let me back out of it, though, so off we went. And learned a lesson in perspectives as well. My friend is used to going to a huge Barnes & Noble complete with Starbucks every (or at least most) weekends. I haven't stepped foot in a Barnes & Noble in four years. At least.

Love. Love. Love More Than Words Bookstore. The Spawn was equally impressed, enough so that he called his dad begging to go back over the weekend. So what did we love about the place...

The smell of new books. (Okay, so we're a little easy to please!) It's like the new tape smell, or the new car smell. You can't help but breathe deep. To take deep gulping breaths of sweetly tainted air. It's a bookworm's high.

Atmosphere. I don't know if the ladies who opened the store managed this intentionally with the help of an interior designer, by luck or if they're really that good. But the floors, the color scheme, the variety of book shelving, even the arrangement of areas all seemed perfectly combined to be relaxing. The pictures don't do it justice. I can easily see myself losing several hours in this place. In fact, I spent 45 minutes in book heaven that night and I'm feeling the effects of withdrawal two days later... Even though the store was fairly busy for a week night, it wasn't noisy or crowded. Oddly, I can't remember if there was ambience music playing or not. I always notice ambience music or the lack thereof.

Several things really impressed me about the layout. The young children's section (for The Diva) was separate-yet-not from the rest of the store. The selection was very good, and it wasn't the usual classics/TV character books that I've come to expect. There were books that I'd never heard of. Books that I desperately want to get for her. They even have a little bean bag and table & chair seating area for kids!

The next section was the older kids/teens/young adults (for The Spawn). As he's a little more knowledgeable regarding the books in this section, I'm allowing him to be the judge of it's coolness: "It's freaking awesome! Woohoo!" He seemed ecsatic over the selection. I noticed that it was more of the popular/best selling titles and authors, but I really didn't spend much time looking over this section and left The Spawn to his own book browsing.

I really didn't know what to expect when I entered "my" section of the store. My friend had warned me that the selection was limited, they only had one book of some titles, the store only seemed to stock the owners' favorite authors, and had a cheap shelf of Harlequin romances. I ran through the mental wishlist in my head and started looking. My reading taste is varied. I've even been known to call myself a book whore because I will read anything that catches my interest, might possibly catch my interest or someone says is a good book. (So many books, so little time.) I decided that if they could fill 50% of my wishlist off the rack, they would pass my initial inspection. They did so much better. One book. There was one book out of about 30 that they didn't have, and it was a graphic novel that may or may not be released yet. I'm impressed. Oh, and the Harlequins? Other than the romance novels I was expecting to find in *gasp* the Romance section, there was one small 2'x2' shelf that was far from full.

There is a seating area with a couch, a few chairs, a nice rug, tables for holding your coffee mug, and nice potted plants next to the window. I can see myself relaxing here, cozying up with a pile of books to browse and choose from.

There are two things that I can't review at this time: prices and the coffee service. In all honesty, I didn't check out either. I expect that the prices will be on par with any bookstore, although as time goes on I will be interested to see if they develop a clearance section of some type. As for the coffee, I will probably be checking it out in the (near) future, but I'm going there for the books.

Overall, for a small bookstore that just opened, I give More Than Words a four star rating.

**Pictures hopefully coming soon, pending owners approval.**

Monday, June 21, 2010

Deterred

I went to work this morning with every intention of listening to The Pact by Jodi Picoult. In fact, I even loaded 6 of 15 discs onto my mp3 player. I failed for two reasons.

1. My mp3 player sucks for audiobooks. This is the only issue I have with my player.

2. My boss threw The Black Keys newest album on my desk. And it rocks.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Slow Going

Reading has been slow going this week. Reality has interfered with my life once again. Work has been very busy as I'm still catching up from two weeks off and preparing for another week off after the 4th. Baseball season has started for The Spawn of Satan. The Diva has become a swing addict, which means we spend most nights hanging out at the playground. In fact, as soon as I finish this post we'll be heading there.

I'm still reading Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott. I'm into it a little more now that I was in the first 50 pages or so. I'm hoping to finish it up by mid-week. I have two audiobooks, The Pact by Jodi Picoult and Lolita by that one guy who's name is right on the tip of my brain, to read [listen to] as they have hit the Been Around Too Long List. I'll be clearing off my mp3 player tonight and synching it. Maybe I can plug in and listen during work tomorrow.

What's next? I don't know. Eat Pray Love was supposed to be next on my list, but this week I received Dreamfever by Karen Marie Moning. I'm feeling a little anxious to dig into this book even though the fifth book isn't due out until December. The Spawn has also been mildly harassing me to proof the Maximum Ride series to make sure they are suitable for him. The series was recommended by his teacher because of his age and his advanced reading level, but I still want to make sure that he isn't reading anything that is too mature for him.

I've also fallen behind on blog reading. I did some light catching up today, which has netted quite a few recommendations to my wishlist. So much for someday getting the opportunity to just randomly walk into my local bookstore and buy a book. (Oh wait. We no longer have a bookstore. *sigh*)

The Diva has left the building, which means it's officially time to wrap up this post.
Happy Reading!
Sherry

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Faefever

Faefever (Fever, #3) Faefever by Karen Marie Moning


My rating: 4 of 5 stars
What I liked: Yet another book where KMM is pulling out all the stops. An amazing story, loved the plot, and loved loved loved! that she is back to writing a story and not porn.

What I didn't like: Cliffhanger! The next book in the series is on its way courtesy of half.com, but it's going to be a long wait until book five comes out in December.

Final Thoughts: If you haven't read this series yet, what are you waiting for? Faeries and monsters and hot guys and fast cars and action make this series a must read for all fans of the supernatural.

Pub. Date: September 2008

Series: Fever Book 3

Synopsis: He calls me his Queen of the Night. I’d die for him. I’d kill for him, too.

When MacKayla Lane receives a torn page from her dead sister’s journal, she is stunned by Alina’s desperate words. And now MacKayla knows that her sister’s killer is close. But evil is closer. And suddenly the sidhe-seer is on the hunt: For answers. For revenge. And for an ancient book of dark magic so evil, it corrupts anyone who touches it.
Mac’s quest for the Sinsar Dubh takes her into the mean, shape-shifting streets of Dublin, with a suspicious cop on her tail. Forced into a dangerous triangle of alliance with V’lane, an insatiable Fae prince of lethally erotic tastes, and Jericho Barrons, a man of primal desires and untold secrets, Mac is soon locked in a battle for her body, mind, and soul.
As All Hallows’ Eve approaches and the city descends into chaos, as a shocking truth about the Dark Book is uncovered, not even Mac can prevent a deadly race of immortals from shattering the walls between worlds – with devastating consequences...

Recommended Reading:
Darkfever (Fever Book 1) by Karen Marie Moning
Bloodfever (Fever Book 2) by Karen Marie Moning
Dreamfever (Fever Book 4) by Karen Marie Moning
Beyond the Highland Mist (Highlander Book 1) by Karen Marie Moning

The Secret of the Old Clock

The Secret of the Old Clock (Nancy Drew, #1) The Secret of the Old Clock by Carolyn Keene


My rating: 3 of 5 stars
What I liked: A fun start on a trip down memory lane. The Nancy Drew series promises to be quick reads without a dull moment.

What I didn't like: Some of the transitional writing between scenes was a little rough.

Final thoughts: Keeping in mind that these books were written in the 1930's, it was entertaining to read the conversational bits and the lack of technology. It was also nice to read a book that was simply "good".

Pub. Date: May 1930

Series: Nancy Drew Book 1

Synopsis: Nancy Drew, a teenage amateur sleuth, and her lawyer father take on the case of missing will. As Nancy befriends Josiah Crowley's friends and family, she learns of his strange behavior and promises to leave them money. In his last will and testament, however, he leaves his vast estate and fortune to the Tophams, a snooty family only concerned with their social standing in the community. Nancy follows a hunch that Josiah wrote another will before he died that divided his estate among those he promised.

Recommended Reading:
The Hidden Staircase (Nancy Drew Book 2) by Carolyn Keene
The Bungalow Mystery (Nancy Drew Book 3) by Carolyn Keene
The Mystery at Lilac Inn (Nancy Drew Book 4) by Carolyn Keene
The Secret of Shadow Ranch (Nancy Drew Book 5) by Carolyn Keene
The Tower Treasure (Hardy Boys Book 1) by Franklin Dixon

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Grace (Eventually)

Grace [Eventually]: Thoughts on Faith Grace [Eventually]: Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott


My rating: 3 of 5 stars
What I liked: Anne Lamott is not afraid to make fun of herself. Her humor and sense of self always draw me into her experiences and stories. Sometimes her antics border on manic, but that's part of what has drawn me into writing.

What I didn't like: The essays were slightly less enlightening than those in 'Plan B', some stories wandered and then... just ended. There was no conclusion, no "aha!" moment.

Final Thoughts: Anne's journey through sobriety, single-parenthood and finding her own path in this mad mad world continue to enchant me. Her words, at times, can be so plebian and yet powerfully moving.

Pub. Date: July 2007

Synopsis: The world, community, the family, the human heart: tese are the beautiful and complicated arenas in which our lives unfold. Wherever you look, there's trouble and wonder, pain and beauty, restoration and darkness - sometimes all at once.

Yet amid the confusion, if you look carefully, in nature or in the kitchen, in ordinariness or in mystery, beyond the emotional muck we all slog through, you'll find it eventually: a path, some light to see by, moments of insight, courage, or buoyancy. In other words, grace.

Anne Lamott knows and lives by this belief, most of the time. In Grace (Eventually), her brilliant new collection, she recounts the missteps, detours, and roadblocks in her walk of faith.

It's been an erratic journey, and some days go better than others. "I wish grace and healing were more abracadabra kinds of things," she writes. "Also, that delicate silver bells would ring to announce grace's arrival. But no, it's clog and slog and scootch, on the floor, in the silence, in the dark."

In Grace (Eventually), Lamott describes how she copes. The challenges seem alternately inconsequential and insurmountable - the anger engendered by an obstinate carpet salesman or president; the engulfing envy at a friend's professional success; the bewilderment at discovering that a child has grown up or that a friend wants to die on his own terms - and they are also universal.

Wise and irreverent, poignant and funny, Grace (Eventually) is a primer in faith, as we come to discover what it means to be fully human and alive.

Recommended Reading:
Plan B by Anne Lamott
Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Lady Luck's Map of Vegas

Lady Luck's Map of Vegas by Barbara Samuel
My Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
What I liked: Another book that shifts between characters, time and place with an interwoven plot. There was a subtle humor, an irony, that ran through this book. The scenery was painted with broad and vivid strokes that have stirred a desire to see these things.

What I didn't like: If I wasn't paying attention to chapter titles, there wasn't a clear way to tell which character was telling the story or what the time frame was. The book bounced across 40 years in zigzag pattern. The characters were well-formed in appearance, but lacked an individual voice. The plot seemed hazy with no firm resolution.
Final Thoughts: An easy read with many historical facts and details about Route 66 without making it boring. Enjoyable even if not overly memorable.
 
Pub. Date: January 2005
 
Synopsis: A successful Web designer, forty-year-old India has a fabulously hip life in Denver and a sexy Irish lover in New York who jets out to see her on bi-weekly visits. The long-distance romance suits India just fine: Though Jack is the only man who has ever made India feel truly alive, she doesn’t want things to get too serious. But then her father passes away, and India must honor the promise she made to him: to look after her mother when he’s gone.

Suddenly India finds herself back in Colorado Springs with the woman who both intrigues and infuriates her. Eldora is sixty something and exquisitely gorgeous, but her larger-than-life personality can suck the air out of a room. True to form, Eldora throws India a curveball, insisting that they hit the road to look for India’s twin, Gypsy, a brilliant artist who lives a vagabond’s existence in the remote mountain towns of New Mexico. It looks like India can’t avoid her mother’s intensity any longer, especially after she discovers stunning secrets from Eldora’s past.
Thirty years ago, Eldora regaled her twin girls with glamorous stories about her days as a Las Vegas showgirl– stories of martinis and music at the Sahara, back when Frank and Sammy ruled the town. But the story of how she really ended up in Sin City, and the unsavory life she’d run from with her daughters in tow, is full of details she’s never seen fit to share – until now.
As mother and daughter sail down Route 66, the very road Eldora drove those many years ago, looking for Gypsy, while passing motels, diners, and souvenir shops, Eldora must relive a lifetime of memories that have tormented her before she can put them to rest once and for all.

Recommended Reading:
A Piece of Heaven by Barbara Samuel
The House at Riverton by Kate Morton
Hedge Fund Wives by Tatiana Boncompagni