Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Insurgent by Veronica Roth

War among the factions seems to be the order of the day in Insurgent. Also secrets. Tris is keeping secrets from Tobias. Tobias is keeping secrets from Tris. Marcus is keeping secrets from all of them. Speaking of Marcus, Tobias still hates him and therefore so does Tris. Tris is dealing with guilt over killing Will and finds it impossible to pick up a gun again. This could be a problem in the coming war against Jeanine and the Dauntless traitors. And yes, Jeanine, she is not a very nice person for sure! She has come up with another way of controlling a large group of people to do her will. It really isn't a pretty picture when friends become your enemies even against their own will. Eric and Peter? Yes, they are still prominent in the story. INSURGENT is 525 pages long and filled with angst between Tobias and Tris. I got so frustrated with them that I wanted to reach through the pages and shake them both! They fluctuated between caring for each other and then distrusting each other. Tris's Divergency helps her to be able to reason things out a lot easier than others so that makes her the most dangerous to Jeanine. Tris also has a death wish through half of the book which has her putting herself in way too many dangerous situations and has Tobias totally frustrated with her. I didn't feel the chemistry between Tobias and Tris like I did in the first book though. Even though they professed to love each other they still did things that made them both question that love and loyalty. The big reveal at the end of the book of the information that everyone wanted to get their hands on was a bit confusing to me and left a big cliff hanger so I'll be moving on to ALLEGIANT soon. I know I'm a bit late to the game with this series, and from hearing others talk I sort of knew what was coming in this book so I wasn't too surprised by anything.

How about you? Have your read the series? Any thoughts or opinions about it?

Click HERE to read my review of DIVERGENT.


Monday, September 15, 2014

Hello Kitty!

I got these two super-cute books in the mail last week from Quirk Books!

The first one: Hello Kitty Crochet by Mei Li Lee is an Amigurumi pattern book for Hello Kitty and friends. Do NOT ask me how to pronounce Amigurumi because I have no clue! I have never made an Amigurumi stuffed toy before so I was eagerly looking forward to trying my hand at it. I thought it turned out very cute!

This is the front of the ballerina Hello Kitty. I used felt for the cheeks but the pattern called for using brads that you get to use with scrapbooking. I couldn't find the color pink I wanted so I settled for the felt.











This is the backside. I thought the tail was pretty stinkin cute! I think if I sat down and worked this project from start to finish it would have taken a couple of hours. The sewing together of course was the most tedious part of the project. I'm going to give this to my granddaughter for her birthday next month.






The second book: The Hello Kitty Baking Book by Michele Chen Chock is a bit more complicated for me. I love to bake, but the recipe's and projects in this book are a bit too advanced for me. The cookies, cupcakes, cakes and pies all look fabulous, but they also look difficult for the artistically challenged like myself! A lot of the projects require decorating tools that I don't have and do not wish to go out and acquire. All that to say that I didn't try any of the projects in the book, but again, they look fabulous and if you are an adventurous baker and love to decorate your cakes, cookies and such AND you love Hello Kitty then this is definitely a book that you should try.

Thanks to Quirk Books publishers for my copy of both books. All opinions are my own.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Deluge by Lisa T. Bergren



Getting to dive back into the River of Time series once more was absolutely wonderful! I loved DELUGE! There were so many changes for the She-Wolves, with many more to come. Gabi and Lia faced danger and heartbreak in true She-Wolf fashion. With the Black Plague on the horizon and enemies still lurking DELUGE kept me biting my nails to the very end. I found myself having to take little breaks while reading in order to calm my emotions. From laughter and tears to hope and despair, I found my emotions running the same course as the characters in DELUGE. Yes, there are some favorite characters that die in DELUGE, so grab your Kleenex and be ready to shed some tears! But even in the midst of the hard stuff Gabi, Lia, Marcello and Luca still manage to bring a smile to the reader with their wit and charm. If this is the last River book I’m going to miss these characters, but I am most definitely happy that I was able to take the journey with them! So to author Lisa T. Bergren, thanks for such a wonderful series! It was a pleasure to escape to another time and place and be swept up in such an epic story! 

Check out my reviews of the River of Time series:







Sunday, September 7, 2014

GUEST POST: Holly Schindler, Author of FERAL






WRITING IN DIFFERENT GENRES (HOLLY SCHINDLER)

In 2014, I’ve released two very different books: THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY, a middle-grade contemporary read about a young girl becoming a folk artist, and FERAL, a YA psychological thriller.

I can’t say I have a favorite genre, or that I find that there are genres that are more difficult or require more work or research.  What I love, actually, is being able to stretch myself as a writer.  Part of loving to write in multiple genres stems from the fact that my reading interests are incredibly varied: I’m an old lit major, so I do love the classics.  Also, I read everything from contemporary adult novels to children’s lit to romance to fantasy to mysteries to cereal boxes…

In all seriousness, I’m just a tried-and-true lifelong fan of the written word.  Can’t get enough of it.  That’s been the case since I was a little girl, and had to have a new Little Golden Book each time I went to the supermarket with my mom.  

Regardless of genre, I will say that what comes to be most naturally is metaphorical writing.  Auggie in THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY speaks heavily in simile, and FERAL as a whole is a metaphor for the frightening aspect of recovering from violence.  What’s tough is writing a dramatic scene in which I’m trying to depict something physically happening.  I have great respect for writers who consistently tackle action-driven work.  It’s far harder than it appears at first glance.

I also feel that writing in one genre actually strengthens another—primarily because there’s so much overlap.  For example, mysteries can contain romantic elements.  Having written a full-on romance only strengthens the romantic elements of your new mystery.  Or, having written for kids means that you create better, more authentic child characters in adult work… 
   
Having published both MG and YA, contemporary realism, romance, and a psychological thriller, I can’t wait to find out where I’ll be headed next…

                                                             FERAL jacket copy:
The Lovely Bones meets Black Swan in this haunting psychological thriller with twists and turns that will make you question everything you think you know.

It’s too late for you. You’re dead. Those words continue to haunt Claire Cain months after she barely survived a brutal beating in Chicago. So when her father is offered a job in another state, Claire is hopeful that getting out will offer her a way to start anew.

But when she arrives in Peculiar, Missouri, Claire feels an overwhelming sense of danger, and her fears are confirmed when she discovers the body of a popular high school student in the icy woods behind the school, surrounded by the town’s feral cats. While everyone is quick to say it was an accident, Claire knows there’s more to it, and vows to learn the truth about what happened.

But the closer she gets to uncovering the mystery, the closer she also gets to realizing a frightening reality about herself and the damage she truly sustained in that Chicago alley….

Holly Schindler’s gripping story is filled with heart-stopping twists and turns that will keep readers guessing until the very last page.

FERAL AND THE PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER:

FERAL falls squarely into the realm of the classic psychological thriller.  While the book features mystery, horror, and paranormal elements, the emphasis is on the “psychological” rather than thriller / action.  The novel features a Hitchcockian pace and focus on character development (here, we’re exploring the inner workings of the main character, Claire Cain).  Essentially, every aspect of FERAL is used to explore Claire’s inner workings—that even includes the wintry Ozarks setting.  The water metaphor is employed frequently in psychological thrillers to represent the subconscious, and here is incorporated in the form of a brutal ice storm (that represents Claire’s “frozen” inner state).  The attempt to untangle what is real from what is unreal (another frequently-used aspect of the psychological thriller) also begins to highlight the extent to which Claire was hurt in that Chicago alley.  Even the explanation of the odd occurrences in the town of Peculiar offers an exploration into and portrait of Claire’s psyche.  Ultimately, FERAL is a book about recovering from violence—that’s not just a lengthy or hard process; it’s a terrifying process, too.  The classic psychological thriller allowed me to explore that frightening process in detail.  

THANK YOU!:

Thank you for sharing Holly! You can check out my review of FERAL HERE  and also check out my review of THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY HERE



Holly Schindler Bio:

Holly Schindler is the author of the critically acclaimed A BLUE SO DARK (Booklist starred review,
ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year silver medal recipient, IPPY Awards gold medal recipient) as well as PLAYING HURT (both YAs). 

Her debut MG, THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY, also released in ’14, and became a favorite of teachers and librarians, who used the book as a read-aloud.  Kirkus Reviews called THE JUNCTION “...a heartwarming and uplifting story...[that] shines...with vibrant themes of community, self-empowerment and artistic vision delivered with a satisfying verve.” 

FERAL is Schindler’s third YA and first psychological thriller.  Publishers Weekly gave FERAL a starred review, stating, “Opening with back-to-back scenes of exquisitely imagined yet very real horror, Schindler’s third YA novel hearkens to the uncompromising demands of her debut, A BLUE SO DARK…This time, the focus is on women’s voices and the consequences they suffer for speaking…This is a story about reclaiming and healing, a process that is scary, imperfect, and carries no guarantees.”

Schindler encourages readers to get in touch.  Booksellers, librarians, and teachers can also contact her directly regarding Skype visits.  She can be reached at hollyschindlerbooks (at) gmail (dot) com, and can also be found at hollyschindler.com, hollyschindler.blogspot.com, @holly_schindler, Facebook.com/HollySchindlerAuthor, and hollyschindler.tumblr.com

FERAL TRAILER:






 

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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Berenstain Bears Blessed are the Peacemakers by Mike Berenstain

As with all of the Berenstain Bears books there are lessons to be learned. In this book Brother and Sister Bear help to keep the peace between Too-Tall's gang and Ferdy Factual's friends. Too-Tall's jealousy almost has the whole school brawling during the popular school play of Romeo and Grizzliet. But thanks to the peacemaking skills of Brother, Sister and a few of the parents the crisis is avoided and the play is a success. And while Too-Tall and Ferdy's groups may not be the best of friends, at least now they are managing to get along.

I'm a total fan of the Berenstain Bears books. I read them to our daughters when they were young and I am now reading them to our grandchildren. I love the lessons taught in each one. I didn't realize that Stan and Jan Berenstain had both passed away and their son is now writing the books. I'm glad that the tradition is being carried on and that Brother and Sister will still continue to share important life lessons with our children today. I also liked that on the back cover page there are activities and questions that help children apply the lesson learned.

Thanks to the publisher Zonderkids through BookLook Bloggers for my copy of the book. All opinions are my own.

 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Nowhere To Turn by Lynette Eason

 About the Book:

When Dani's abusive FBI husband dies Dani thinks that her and her son Simon are now free to live a normal life. When Dani and Simon's lives are once again threatened Dani turns to Adam Buchanan who works for Operation Refuge a protection agency. Adam is getting desperate in his protection of Dani and Simon, every time they move to a safe house the enemy seems to find them. How are they being found out and what will happen to Dani and Simon if they are captured?

My Thoughts:

I really enjoyed this second book in the Hidden Identity series. There were many twists and turns and lots of action and peril to keep the reader on the edge of their seat. I liked Dani's relationship with her son Simon. Simon is deaf and the center of his mom's life. When Adam comes into their lives it is nice to see him working to make a relationship with Simon as well as Dani and slowly winning their confidence and turning their fear of abuse into confidence and love. A lot of suspense and a little bit of romance makes this an entertaining read.

Thanks to the publisher Revell through NetGalley for my copy of Nowhere To Turn. All thoughts are opinions are my own.

 

Friday, August 29, 2014

Feral by Holly Schindler



 About the Book:

Claire Cain has just survived a brutal trauma. Her father decides to take a sabbatical from his job and move he and Claire to a new city for a while. Claire is only there a couple of days when she finds the dead body of one of the local girls that has been missing for over a week.  

The town of Peculiar seems to be overrun by stray cats. Serena, the dead girl, used to feed them. Especially a calico she named Sweet Pea. It isn’t long before Claire sees that Serena has taken over Sweet Pea’s body and is calling to Claire to find out what really happened to her. At least at first that is what Claire believes, but soon things change and it seems that Serena may have other more sinister ideas for Claire. 

My Thoughts:

This was such a creepy story! Sometimes I found myself thinking, whoa, this is way over the top for me! But I kept on reading because the more I read the more I wanted to find out what happened to Serena. I thought it was interesting how the reader is able to see through Serena’s eyes and read her thoughts after she is dead and being hidden away. The shroud of fog that would come over Claire whenever Sweet Pea/Serena came into the picture lent an air of creepiness to the story as well. Towards the ending of the book I got an idea of where the story was going, but was quite surprised by the “who done it.”  This is a young adult book so if you like that genre along with mysteries and ghosts, then I think you will enjoy this story.

**WARNING**

There is some offensive language and violence in this book that may offend some readers. 

Note: I received a free e-copy of the book for the purpose of this review. This is my honest review.