Sunday, June 29, 2014

Review: Low Red Moon by Ivy Devlin

The only thing Avery Hood can remember about the night her parents died is that she saw silver—deadly silver, moving inhumanly fast. As much as she wants to remember who killed them, she can't, and there's nothing left to do but try to piece her life back together. Then Avery meets the new boy in school—Ben, mysterious and beautiful, with whom she feels a connection like nothing she's ever experienced. When Ben reveals he's a werewolf, Avery still trusts him—at first. Then she sees that sometimes his eyes flash inhuman silver. And she learns that she's not the only one who can't remember the night her parents died.
Part murder mystery, part grief narrative, and part heart-stopping, headlong romance, Low Red Moon is a must-read for teen paranormal fans.

Review by Rachel: Rating- 4
This book grabbed me and sucked me in from the very first sentence. It was well paced and it would not let me put it down. I loved how lyrical it was. I felt the emotions as if they were my own. The first few chapters were so melodic and I could tell the author put heart and thought and work into those.
Avery is such a relatable character for me. She reacted to everything like I would if I grew up in her shoes. I adored the fact that when she had a question she would go to the computer and search the internet for her answers... I mean that is exactly what I would have done, and what most people would do, too.
I loved this book. When I finished it I didn't think I liked it as much as I did because it wasn't what I was wanting to read. I love a good soul mate wolf shifter book, but this book wasn't like that. Yes, there's a soul mate. Yes, there are shifter-wolves. But this novel didn't focus on either of those things. They were side elements to the book. This was a young adult mystery thriller. From the very first page it's all about finding out who killed Avery's parents.
I picked up this book knowing very little about it. In fact, all I knew was that it had shifter-wolves in it. I've been in the mood for shifter-wolf books lately and searched and found this one. I have to say I was disappointed that we didn't get much of the wolf, in fact we never saw a wolf. We heard them and we knew they changed, but that's it. I was also under the impression this was a stand alone novel (it's not!) and when I got to the end I was going to be furious. It's not a cliff hanger ending, but there was a huge opening for a sequel. Let's just say, I'm relieved to know there's a book two... I gave a big squeal and hugged my laptop when I saw Moonrise, the sequel, on Goodreads.
I don't know if this is getting a rating of 4 because of how much I liked the story or because of how much I liked the style of the author's writing. Both, the answer is both. The story was fantastic and I can't wait to find out more about Avery and Ben... in fact... I need to go get Moonrise right now.

Oh, and I LOVED that every time the word, 'Moon' was written in the book it was in red... Low Red Moon. Fantastic.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Ethan Wate used to think of Gatlin, the small Southern town he had always called home, as a place where nothing ever changed. Then he met mysterious newcomer Lena Duchannes, who revealed a secret world that had been hidden in plain sight all along. A Gatlin that harbored ancient secrets beneath its moss-covered oaks and cracked sidewalks. A Gatlin where a curse has marked Lena's family of powerful Supernaturals for generations. A Gatlin where impossible, magical, life-altering events happen.

Sometimes life-ending.

Together they can face anything Gatlin throws at them, but after suffering a tragic loss, Lena starts to pull away, keeping secrets that test their relationship. And now that Ethan's eyes have been opened to the darker side of Gatlin, there's no going back. Haunted by strange visions only he can see, Ethan is pulled deeper into his town's tangled history and finds himself caught up in the dangerous network of underground passageways endlessly crisscrossing the South, where nothing is as it seems.
Review by Patrick:

I was disappointed with this sequel to Beautiful Creatures. It wasn't terrible in that the story significantly changed or it didn't flow from one book to the next. No I thought the first book was excellent, and I was let down by the expectation that this book would be just as great. Everyone knows that Lion King 2 just doesn't compare to the Lion King.

Anyways, the book was good. It explained a lot about Ethan and his talents. Although I was stumped about how he could not tell where some of his visions were coming from. It was obvious to me as the reader, or maybe I've just been familiar enough with other magical writings to know.

I think I just wanted more Ethan and Lena. I was expecting them to fight the darkness themselves, instead Ethan has to be all heroic and do everything by himself (well, that didn't quite happen, but it was without Lena).

Even though the book wasn't what I was expecting, it definitely wasn't a bad book. It gave a lot of history and explained a lot of missing information from the first book. And it set up a cliff hanger at the end, so you have to read the next one. I'm going to rate this a 2.5. I know that was a significant drop from the first book, but I'm still excited to read the next one.

Next: I'm finishing up The Silmarillion, which should be done soon, and still on Inkspell. I also just checked out Perfect Scoundrels.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she's struggling to conceal her power, and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.

Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town's oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.

In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.
Review by Patrick:

Wow. The further you get into this book, the more you can't put it down. I started this book on Saturday, after checking it out from the library, and read a few pages. By Sunday, I was hooked, and I knew I wanted to keep reading it. Monday, I took the book to work with me and started reading on my lunch break. By Tuesday, I went to bed late around Midnight. By Wednesday, I woke up early and began reading while eating my cereal, and didn't get in bed until 1 am, and then I actually had to finish the book before going to bed on Thursday, actually Friday, around 2 am.

How I felt Friday morning at work...

This book was good. I like fantasy and magic books, and the spin this took on the "Good vs. Evil" spectrum was interesting. Also, there are still some mysteries that were left unsolved, which is why I'm glad this is a series and not a stand alone book.

I don't know what to say about this book, other than you should read it. I don't know how I managed to fly through this book so fast, but it was worth it. The book keeps presenting a little bit of information which just adds to the mystery and charm of the book, and the more mystery, the more unresolved issues, the more you want to read it to find out what happens.

I'm going to rate this a 4.5.

Think you like magic. Buy the book:

Up Next:

Apparently Beautiful Darkness, and still The Silmarillion.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter

Katarina Bishop has worn a lot of labels in her short life. Friend. Niece. Daughter. Thief. But for the last two months she's simply been known as the girl who robbed the greatest museum in the world. 

That's why Kat isn't surprised when she's asked to steal the infamous Cleopatra Emerald so it can be returned to its rightful owners.

There are only three problems. First, the gem is owned by the most secure auction house in the world. Second, since the fall of the Egyptian empire and the suicide of Cleopatra, no one who holds the emerald keeps it for long, and in Kat's world, history almost always repeats itself. But it's the third problem that makes Kat's crew the most nervous and that is simply the emerald is cursed.

Kat might be in way over her head, but she's not going down without a fight. After all she has her best friend-the gorgeous Hale-and the rest of her intrepid crew with her as they chase the Cleopatra around the world, realizing that the same tricks and cons her family has used for centuries are useless this time.

Which means, this time, Katarina Bishop is making up her own rules.
Review by Patrick:

Remember my last review where I said I couldn't wait to start reading this one? Well, I got it on Saturday from the library, and finished it the next Friday. Pretty quick read. Also, I never would have guessed that's how you spelled "Visily." (If you didn't read my previous review on Heist Society, then you wouldn't know that I listened to the audio book version of that book instead of reading it.)

Uncommon Criminals was an action packed book. I literally couldn't put it down. It started off with a bang, and I knew from the beginning (as every experienced reader would) that things aren't as simple as they seem.

Even up until the end, when I knew they had completed the heist, I didn't know how they did it. And then it was obvious, almost as if I saw a movie flashback in my mind of exactly how it was done. It was like a Sherlock mystery that once explained was obvious.

I really liked this book. It was still teenagery, even more so than Heist Society, but I didn't mind too much.

In the end, I give this book a rating of 4.

Think you'll like it too? Go buy it:

Reviewed by Patrick.

Up Next:

I'm still reading The Silmarillion but I will be starting Beautiful Creatures soon.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Heist Society by Ally Carter

For as long as she can remember, Katarina has been a part of the family business-thieving. When Kat tries to leave "the life" for a normal life, her old friend Hale conspires to bring her back into the fold. Why? A mobster's art collection has been stolen, and Kat's father is the only suspect. Caught between Interpol and a far more deadly enemy, Kat's dad needs her help.

The only solution is to find the paintings and steal them back. Kat's got two weeks, a teenage crew, and hopefully enough talent to pull off the biggest heist in her family's history-and, with any luck, steal her life back along the way.
Review by Patrick:

My first review is of a new book series I have started: Heist Society by Ally Carter. I started this series because I have read the Gallagher Girl series, and liked the author's writing, and this series is about thieves instead of spies so it seemed like it would be a good series for me. I think I was right.

First off, a little background. I listened to this book in audio book format, performed by Angela Dawe. Checked this one out at the library, and took me about two weeks to listen to it on my way to and from work.

I'll be the first to admit, I read more "teenage girl" books than the average mid-20's male, but when the books are good, I don't think it really matters. Most of these types of books come from recommendations from my wife though.

To the review: Heist Society is a fun, light book, that mixes Ocean's Eleven with Hostage. Every chapter you read, you want to read more and find out what happens. The book developed as if I were in their shoes, and I had their skill set; very realistic. In the middle of the book, I was already starting to guess who the mystery character was, and I'm pretty sure I got it wrong a couple of times by the end of the book. And the ending! I was ready for the heist and could see where the plot was going and how something might go wrong, but then a surprise I totally wasn't expecting caught me off guard.

This book was teenagery, but not as boy crazy as Gallagher Girl's were, although she did describe one of the main (male) characters as "hot" in the first chapter. The comic relief throughout was good, especially the quirky nerdy characters. The characters were all well defined (maybe too well) and had very individualistic traits. But the way she describes aspects of the security features of a school, or which technique to do a job, made it feel like the characters really knew what they were doing.  

Overall, I liked it. I can't wait to read the next book. I will give it a rating of 4, and begin the next book immediately.

Think you will like this book? Go buy it. Here's a Google search that might help you:

Reviewed by Patrick. 

Up next: Uncommon Criminals, and The Silmarillion.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

To Begin - Chapter 1

Hi. My name is Patrick. I am starting this blog, with my wife, Rachel, to tell you about the books we have read. We are both book lovers, although our personal tastes in books differ somewhat. I tend to like the fantasy, science fiction, mystery or classic genres while Rachel reads anything from young adult to erotica, but it must always have a romantic element for it to be any good. Sometimes, we read the same books, especially the young adult section. Sometimes we finish a book and give it to the other and say, "You have to read this book/series."

I will admit, my lovely wife has way more time and dedication to reading. She read 80 books in 2013 alone. I read when I can, but I don't have the book count she does. She's an awesome bookworm.

We will be posting about any books we have "read." This may include different formats or mediums. For example, I listen to audio books in the car on my way to and from work. I consider these performances to be read, and will give a review on it like any book. I am not naive to say that the performance will not affect my opinion of the book, because it will. There's no way to avoid having someone else's words, tone, inflection, and even character representations affect my bias towards the book. We, of course, prefer to have a physical copy of the paper, stamped with the musings of the author by the ink of the publisher, but as we live in the 21st century, we make due with what time we have. If the audio book review bothers you, think of those reviews similar to a movie review, where the performance of the actors play a part in the review.

We will try to include all books we have read, separately or together, with only a few exceptions. For example, I am an accountant, and I don't think you want to hear about my review of a CPA exam test booklet, or the instructions to a tax form. I won't be posting any reviews of such boring material (unless there is just a huge demand for that kind of thing). If, however, I read a nonfiction book on gardening, I'll give a review of that.

Okay, one last item before the first review: ratings. We will endeavor to rate all books on a scale of 1 to 5, but five options is not enough, so we will incorporate halves as well. Here is a general rubric of our rating system:
  • 1:     Abysmal; not worth reading.
  • 1.5:  Bad.
  • 2:     Mediocre.
  • 2.5:  Fair.
  • 3:     Good.
  • 3.5:  Great.
  • 4:     Excellent.
  • 4.5:  Amazing: highly recommend.
  • 5:     Phenomenal! Must read.
Please enjoy our reviews and journey together to experience the books we read. If you have any questions or comments, please comment on our posts. We would love to extend our conversation with any readers out there. One more note; we wish this website to be a spoil free zone. If our reviews have any spoilers in them, we will make them hidden. Our wish is that you will read the book yourself, and experience the thrill of not knowing. Once it is known, you can't "unknow" it (at least not easily). But sometimes, you just need to talk about ---hidden--- to get the full picture of why a book is great or not.