Sunday, December 14, 2014

To Dance with the White Dog by Terry Kay

Sam Peek's children are worried. Since that "saddest day" when Cora, his beloved wife of fifty-seven good years, died, no one knows how he will survive. How can this elderly man live alone on his farm? How can he keep driving his dilapidated truck down to the fields to care for his few rows of pecan trees? And when Sam begins telling his children about a dog as white as the pure driven snow -- that seems invisible to everyone but him -- his children think that grief and old age have finally taken their toll. 
But whether the dog is real or not, Sam Peek -- "one of the smartest men in the South when it comes to trees" -- outsmarts them all. Sam and the White Dog will dance from the pages of this bittersweet novel and into your heart, as they share the mystery of life, and begin together a warm and moving final rite of passage. 
 Review by Patrick:

 To be honest, I only read this book based off of my wife's suggestion. I wouldn't have picked out this book to read by myself, but I trusted her judgement and put this on my list. I read it, but it just wasn't my thing.

It started off down right depressing. I mean Sam's long loved wife had just died. Then it continues telling the story of this old man as he lives without her companionship.

The story did have a ring of truth to it. It felt like this was a real story. I could see that Sam would've done all of those things. It was a glimpse into the future for many of us. I know I'm in my twenties, but maybe one day (heaven forbid) I'm going to have to be old and widowed. What will happen? This book opens the eyes of those who just doesn't have any experience in this sort of thing.

Overall, I can't say I enjoyed this book. It's not a book you enjoy to read. It's a book you read that tells a sad story, one that makes you feel and wish you could make life better. But also exposes that life sucks sometimes, and is great other times. You have to live in the moment, cherish your loved ones, make every day count. You only have so many to live, just like everyone else. I'm rating it a 3.

Next up:

I'm going to read Archer's Voice, which will be posted on our sister blog: Across the Sheets, then start the Chronicles of Narnia.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Review: Solstice by Jane Redd

Four ways to get Banished from the last surviving city on earth are: 1. Cut out your emotion tracker, 2. Join a religious cult, 3. Create a rebellion against the Legislature, 4. Fall in love.

Jezebel James does all four.

Jez is on the fast-track to becoming a brilliant scientist, with one goal—to save her city from total extinction. Her caretakers have entrusted her with a secret plan to stop the rain from flooding the rest of the earth and start civilization anew. But the more Jez learns about the price of a fresh beginning, the more she realizes that carrying out the plan will lead to few survivors, and among the dead will be those she cares about the most.

Review: Rating- 4
I can't decide if I'm absolutely in love with this book or I'm consumed with rage. It's probably accurate to say, "Both." Solstice instantly grabbed my attention and kept it the whole way through. My mistake in reading Solstice was not watching how far into the book I was.
As I was reading, I loved the book, I loved the characters. Everything was flushed out, the characters had their distinct personalities, there was an excellent plot with plenty of things to backup what was going on with the world flooding and what they're doing about it. I enjoyed the young forbidden love. The book was phenomenal.

Then it ended.

I saw red. My eyes burned with tears formed from anger. I was consumed with rage. I honestly did not expect a cliffhanger ending. It was so abrupt. I figured it was about to wrap up what the whole book was about, but noooo. It just... It... ended! I sat there and wondered what the whole point of the story was. It was interesting and sweet, but with an ending so abrupt in her mission I was thrown for a doozie. I'm still angry sitting here thinking about it. Plus, I found out the next book in the series isn't out, which means this rage will continue to fester until I have the next book in my hands.
Despite the anger, Solstice is a fantastic young adult read. I give it a solid 4 stars. It really did capture and hold my attention. I couldn't flip the pages fast enough and I look forward to reading the next book in the series and hopefully see more of Jez and Sol together.
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Review: Running on Empty by L.B. Simmons

I had the perfect life.

Beautiful and loving husband.Three gorgeous little girls.
Successful career.

The only thing missing was the white picket fence. I really wanted that fence.

Three years ago, I lost that life. I lost my husband. And I lost myself. But, eventually, I found my way through the darkness. I’ve made peace with my new life. I have my girls, and that’s all that matters. They are my world. I have no illusions of ever falling in love again or getting whisked away on a white horse.

But then he came back into my life. On a freakin’ motorcycle.

There’s no way I’ll let him turn my life completely upside down. Absolutely no way.

The question is…

How long can I keep pretending that I’m happy with my life being right-side up?

Review: Rating- 3
Running on Empty is an average contemporary novel. There wasn't anything that stood out about it. I was waiting for that moment where it goes above what I expected, but it didn't. In fact it took until 83% of the way through to really get my attention, and it took until the very last page for me to fall in love with it.

The characters were pretty cookie cutter for romances. Even though they were cookie cutter Harlow, the best friend, was a hoot! She had me giggling so much.

There wasn't anything exceptional about the book, but I do have to say I'm glad I read it because the ending was everything I had hoped for!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Review: Adrenaline Rush by Cindy M. Hogan

A madman with a mission is kidnapping groups of thrill-seeking high school seniors across the country, and it’s up to Christy to stop him.

To do so, she must take on a fearless alter ego and infiltrate a group of adrenaline junkies bent on pushing life to the limit. Death-defying stunts are only the beginning: two groups fit the profile, and Christy must discover the real target before it’s too late.

If she chooses the wrong group, more people will disappear. But choosing right puts her as the prime target—with no guarantee that she’ll get out alive.

Review: Rating- 4.5
What in the world did I just read?! It's sick and grotesque and vile... and AMAZING! A cross between 007 and Saw. I love teenage spy novels and figured this was going to be like the previous ones I've read. No, not at all. This was a grownup version of those teen spy books.
Excellent suspense/thriller mystery! I could not figure out who the recruiter was. In the beginning I had an idea and thought this book would be completely predictable, but one third of the way in I was confused and kept pointing fingers and then changing my mind.
This book was full of twists and turns and it was brilliantly written. It did take me a bit to get into the story, but when I finally got past the first few chapters I was hooked. The story really progressed realistically and it stayed suspenseful throughout. I can't wait to pick up the next book and see where these characters go.

I received this book to read for an honest review.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Dracula by Bram Stoker

A junior solicitor [real estate broker] travels to Transylvania to meet with an important client, the mysterious Count Dracula. Ignoring the dire warnings of local townsfolk, he allows himself to be seduced by the count’s courtly manners and erudite charm. Too late, the solicitor realizes that he is a prisoner of Castle Dracula, his guards a trio of voluptuous young women with sharp white teeth and a taste for blood.

Soon thereafter, the solicitor’s fiancĂ©e, Mina, visits a friend on the English coast. The town is full of speculation over a Russian ship run aground nearby, its crew missing, the dead body of its captain, crucifix in hand, lashed to the wheel. A giant dog was seen leaping from the deck before disappearing into the countryside. The ship’s cargo: fifty boxes of Transylvanian dirt. As the beautiful Mina will soon learn, Count Dracula has arrived.
Review by Patrick:
 It sucked. I mean I still have blood in my veins, but it sucked the reality from all around me as I was reading this book. I was not expecting a classic like this to be so intense.

As long as you could get by some of the format of this book, it really was interesting. The book was written mostly in a diary format, with some news article clippings, letters, and telegraphs... I guess that was interesting too. I was really amazed with the efficiency of the London telegram service in 1891. You were forced to read this book with the setting in mind, as timing and travel were essential to the book. Horses, carriages, steam and sail boats... all must be kept in mind when considering the time it takes to get anywhere.

We all know about vampires, right. They can't go out in the sun; they must drink blood to survive; they sleep like bats; etc. But it was really intriguing reading about the first vampire. This is where it all started. And it was really interesting. For example, the vampire was able to control the nearby weather, get in really tight places, must be welcomed into a building before entering, control nearby animals, and many more wonderful things. I was also amazed at some of the similarities to more contemporary vampire fiction.

The story (which, let's face it, is what it is all about) was amazing though. It pulled me close and I felt the fear, terror, hope, panic, bravery, and passion of the characters. The story was slow at first, and by slow I mean the main character going willingly to Count Dracula's castle and immediately becoming a prisoner and dinner. The story just kept on and on. It was suspenseful, tragic, epic, horrifying, thrilling, and ... well I'll let you find out the rest.
Overall, surprisingly good. I know I am a little out of the norm when it comes to a desire to reading classic books, but I think this would be a good read for many readers in the present day. I'm going to rate it a 4.
Up Next:

Review: My Own Mr. Darcy by Karey White

 After being dragged to the 2005 movie Pride and Prejudice by her mother, sixteen-year-old Elizabeth’s life changes when Matthew Macfadyen’s Mr. Darcy appears on the screen. Lizzie falls hard and makes a promise to herself that she will settle for nothing less than her own Mr. Darcy. This ill-advised pledge threatens to ruin any chance of finding true love. During the six intervening years, she has refused to give any interested suitors a chance. They weren’t Mr. Darcy enough.

Coerced by her roommate, Elizabeth agrees to give the next interested guy ten dates before she dumps him. That guy is Chad, a kind and thoughtful science teacher and swim coach. While she’s dating Chad, her dream comes true in the form of a wealthy bookstore owner named Matt Dawson, who looks and acts like her Mr. Darcy. Of course she has to follow her dream. But as Elizabeth simultaneously dates a regular guy and the dazzling Mr. Dawson, she’s forced to re-evaluate what it was she loved about Mr. Darcy in the first place.
Review: Rating- 4.5
This book sucked. It sucked my heart right into it and wouldn't give it back. When I started reading it I was under the assumption from the synopsis that it would be a good light read. It went above that. It was a great sweet clean read.
I adored this story, I love all books that have some kind of Pride and Prejudice theme to them. My Own Mr. Darcy didn't let me down. I am so much like the Lizzie in this book! I also obsess over Mr. Darcy. Not to the extent she did, but I have my moments. A lot of women ogled Mr. Darcy after watching Matthew Macfadyen portray him. He's so... gorgeous!
 The story was perfect. Each character had depth and was unique. Chad was the unlucky guy that was strung along for a 10 date rule Lizzie's best friend, Janessa, forced her into. He was so adorable. Matt, who was Lizzie's perfect Mr. Darcy down to his arrogant attitude with occasional sweet moments.
I had one minor problem and one major problem with this book. The minor problem was I kept skipping over all the details about her interior design. That's more my fault than anything. I wanted to get to the relationships, not be bogged down with details about a her remodeling. It was sort of important to show it so that we could see she was good at what she does. My major problem with the book is that it ended way too soon. Way, way too soon. I got to the last page, Kindle told me I still had 11 minutes left of reading so I thought there would be an epilogue. I turned the page and it was the acknowledgment page. To say I was upset is a complete understatement. I wanted more so freaking mad I let out a scream of frustration.
I received this book to read for an honest review and I'm so happy I got this opportunity.
It was truly a great read. Now, Karey White, write me an epilogue please.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Moby Dick or the Whale by Herman Melville

This story tells the adventures of wandering sailor Ishmael, and his voyage on the whaleship Pequod, commanded by Captain Ahab. Ishmael soon learns that Ahab has one purpose on this voyage: to seek out Moby Dick, a ferocious, enigmatic white sperm whale. In a previous encounter, the whale destroyed Ahab's boat and bit off his leg, which now drives Ahab to take revenge.

Review by Patrick:

I finished this book today, thank goodness. I'm glad I checked this one out from the library and checked it out as an audio book, because I could see this book being another Silmarillion (in other words, takes-seven-years-to-finish book). 

The whole book was long and drawn out, but interesting. I enjoyed learning about how the ship works, and the vernacular that was used in sailing. I would love to go sailing myself some day, so I could really appreciate the detail that went in to explaining everything.

But the details were too much. I didn't expect to read the encyclopedia entries for whale, sperm oil, sailing, and the like. This book just really went overboard with the anatomy of the whale (which, I'm guessing, is not that accurate anyways). The book could have been three or four times shorter and still had all of the narrative content.

I can only say I was disappointed in the ending. The story had been building since we were introduced to Captin Ahab, and then the story ends. There was no satisfactory resolution.
**Spoiler** We don't know what happened to the whale and the whole crew sunk to their death. From Starbuck to Pip to Tashtego to Queequeg to Flask to the carpenter to the cook; they all drowned. All save one, and
call him Ishmael.
This had the tragic ending of a Shakespearean play, without the comic relief.**Spoiler (highlight to see)**

I know this book is a classic and "one of the great American Romanticized tales," but I don't give a darn. I'm rating this book a 1. I'm sorry for anyone who is forced to read it. Maybe with some discussion I would learn more about the book and the metaphors throughout, but I hated this book and wish it to go with it's captain. I have no desire to ever read it again, and I'm not sure I appreciated spending the time to read it in the first place.

Up next:


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Review: Inescapable by Amy Bartol
My name is Evie Claremont and this was to be the making of me–my freshman year of college. I’d been hoping that once I’d arrived on Crestwood’s campus, the nightmare that I’ve been having would go away. It hasn’t.
I may be an inexperienced seventeen-year-old, but I’m grounded…sane. I look for rational explanations to even the strangest circumstances. Since meeting sophomore Reed Wellington, however, nothing makes any sense. Whenever he’s near, I feel an attraction to him–a magnetic kind of force pulling me towards him. I know what you’re thinking…that sounds fairly awesome. Yeah, it would be…if he liked me, but Reed acts as if I’m the worst thing that has ever happened to Crestwood…or him. But get this, for some reason every time I turn around he’s there, barging into my life.
What is the secret that he’s keeping from me? I’m hoping that it’s anything but what I suspect: that he’s not exactly normal…and neither am I. So, maybe Crestwood won’t be the making of me, but it could be the breaking of me. I’ve been left to wonder if the dark future my dream is foretelling is…inescapable.

Review by Rachel: Rating- 2
I can't help rating this book low. It really was an interesting story, but all the mechanics that go into making the story were awful. I'm from the south and Russel talked like he was from the south in a different time period. Plus he kept saying y'all when referring only to Evie. That is not the correct form of y'all!
The slang in the book made my head hurt. Things like "Sure you told me, but it's phat to hear it again" and "It's chill of you to help" made me want to gauge my eyes out. I was half way through this book and kept saying, "Nope, this is a big fat 1 star."

Thankfully, the climax made up for a portion of the book, especially when Russel was out of the picture for a little bit. I was able to enjoy the book enough that I want to find out what happens in book 2. The climax was interesting. I loved learning more about the paranormal side. I can't wait to read book 2 and hopefully the writing is better.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Review: Phase by E.C. Newman

Sophie Todd hoped that her senior year would be different. Unfortunately, different seems to mean getting punched in the face for sticking up for the new girl, having her offer of friendship spurned by said new girl, and finally gaining the attention of her long-time crush, Ezra Varden, but for all the wrong reasons.

It's a tenuous friendship at best, but as Juliet starts to open up to Sophie, they both realize that the Vardens, Juliet's foster family, is not your average family. They're extremely close-knit—freakishly so—but they welcomed a complete stranger into their home, which just so happens to have the largest meat freezer anyone's ever seen...

...and certainly no one said anything about Ezra and the wolves.
Review by Rachel: Rating- 4.5
E.C. Newman gave me the perfect book. I have been searching for a good YA romance shifter-wolf novel for a while and this one was everything I wanted! The novel started off with a Ka-Pow... quite literally.
Phase was balanced well between the love interest, the friend, and family. Sophie was such a normal teenage girl, I adored her and how relatable she was and I enjoyed the silliness of her inner monologue. She was always true to herself and stayed a good girl throughout the novel.
Jules is the bad girl who gets in trouble more often than not. She's so funny thinking the Varnon's are a cult and how most of her ideas tend to have Sophie doing something she never would. She's so loyal, I want Jules as a best friend!
I wish we had more of Gil and his band and I really wish we had more of Ezra and Sophie together. There was just so much freaking action! I'm not even kidding, my heart was pounding and I was sweating right along with these characters. It was intense.
The moment I closed this book and went to Goodreads to look for book two because it said it was a trilogy, I was more than disappointed. Book two and three are not out yet. I'm slightly upset by this. This book was published in 2012. It's been two years! I know it takes time to write a novel, but at this point we should have some information about the next book, but there isn't anything. It's disappointing because by the time the next book in the series comes out I probably wont be into the same books I am now, I'll be at a different point in my life and I most likely wont want to read it. This has happened before when authors take too long to get a book out in the series. So, you can consider this a 5 star review because the book was fantastic, but I'm giving it a 4.5 because it did leave so much unanswered and I'm afraid the author is going to take way too long to write the next book. If it comes out soon then I'll change the rating for this.