Tuesday, October 28, 2014

#ReadingCram Thrills and Chills - Day 5 Spell-It-Out Challenge

I've been so busy that I haven't been able to read as much as I would like to for this readathon.  I'm still on Lockdown by Alexander Gordon Smith... sigh.  Hopefully, I can change that before this readathon ends!

Today's challenge is the Spell It Out Challenge.  You can learn more about it here.

Oct 28--Spell it out Challenge--pick one of the following words: Ghost, Witch, Zombie, or Howl--using each letter, find a title of a book they've read this year to "spell it out." 


G  Graceling by Kristin Cashore
H  Hollow City by Ransom Riggs
O Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz
S  Sanctum by Sarah Fine
T  Timebound by Rysa Walker

Here's mine: 

Cool!  What were some of your choices?  Hopefully you've made it a lot further than I have in this challenge! 

The Shadows (The Books of Elsewhere #) by Jacqueline West - Review

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Olive and her mathematician parents move into a big old Victorian house. The house is very odd, particularly the antique paintings covering the walls. Then, when Olive finds an old pair of glasses things start to get really weird. She discovers that while wearing the glasses she can step through the frame and travel into Elsewhere, the world of the paintings. Olive and Morton, a boy from a painting, form an uneasy alliance and find themselves facing a dark and dangerous power that wants to get rid of Olive for good. Can Olive save her new home and Elsewhere from the shadows before it's too late?

It's easy to get lost in the imaginative world and characters West has created. There is just the right amount of scariness for the age group. The pacing is great and there are just the right amount of twists and reveals to really keep me hooked, wanting to know more. I loved the personality of the cast. Olive is relatable and well-drawn and the cats steal the show.

I listened to the audiobook and the performance by Lexy Fridell is a lot of fun. Unfortunately, the cover of the audiobook wasn't nearly as interesting as the illustration which suits it so much better.

I highly recommend The Shadows to fans of Neil Gaiman and Roald Dahl. I'm looking forward to diving back into Olive's world with Spellbound.

I listened to this book from October 25 - 27, 201 and this review is also on Goodreads.

Bloom and Doom (Bridal Bouquet Shop Mystery #1) by Beverly Allen - Review

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Audrey is co-owner and florist of the Rose In Bloom in the small-town of Ramble, Virginia. She specializes in bridal bouquets where she is able to put her knowledge of Victorian flower meanings to work. None of the couples she has worked with have split up, that is until the groom of her current client turns up dead, and the bride is the prime suspect.

Jenny, the bride-to-be, was one of Audrey's closest friends when they were growing up until Jenny kicked her to the curb for different set of friends, but Jenny and her mother come to Audrey to design the floral arrangements for the wedding. Audrey's of the opinion that the flowers they want in the bouquet wouldn't make a good combination in regards to flower meanings, but nevertheless she agrees to work with them. Jenny's groom-to-be is Derek Rawling, Ramble's rich playboy (think George Clooney circa O Brother, Where Art Thou) and it's very strange for Audrey to consider that her friend somehow reeled in a guy like him. Unfortunately, Derek dies a horrible bloody death before they can walk down the aisle. He's found in his sportscar which is parked outside of Jenny's apartment along with a shredded bouquet and a floral knife sticking out of his neck. Obviously, things don't look good for Jenny as it's right outside her apartment, she had just broken up with Derek, and she just started taking floral arrangement lessons from Audrey who had given her the floral knife and other tools to practice at home. Things really don't look good for Jenny, but is she guilty or is there something else going on? If you guessed "something else," you would most definitely be right. This is not in the least an open and shut case.

Now, Bloom and Doom isn't my go-to choice when it comes to mystery books. Usually, I prefer mine to be gritty, hard-boiled, and noir-ish. A caper mystery can also be fun, if done the right way. I also love reading a good urban fantasy novel like The Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher. I tend not to read all that many cozy mysteries as they're not really my thing. The main reason I'm reading this is that it's the selection for a book club. I did enjoy this read, but I doubt I'll be rereading it or returning for the rest of the series.

The main thing that makes Bloom and Doom work for me is Audrey's voice. Since it's in first person narrative, the narrator's voice can make or break the story and in this case she made it. I'm glad she has a good sense of humor and her thought process can be entertaining, for the most part. The story is chock full of various references and some of them worked surprisingly well (did you catch The Hunger Games one on page 245?). I'm glad her character is pretty open-minded and that she doesn't go looking for trouble, even if that doesn't work out so well.

For the most part, Audrey seems like a real person because she's well-rounded and relatable - kind of our florist every-girl, isn't she. She's not over the top, but she makes sure to bring her cleverness to the table. For the most part, the same goes for Liv, Audrey's cousin, although, we don't get as good of a sense of her character in comparison to Audrey. The one character that just plain bored me is Amber Lee. I mean, she's nice enough but I just didn't care all that much about her, aside from the fact that she dispenses important information (aka gossip) from time to time. As for Nick, Audrey's potential love interest, he just seems like quite a nice guy. Who doesn't like cupcakes and other delicious baked goods? The two seem like they could make a good pair. However, there is an aspect of their "relationship" that gets old fast - keep in mind it only happens twice - is the part where he catches her when she trips and/or falls. Only having that in the story once, or even better zero times, would have been much more acceptable. Same goes for some of the embarrassing things that happen to Audrey over the course of the story (see: Little Joe's dancing on pages 184-186). As it is, sometimes I just don't know how much harder I could have rolled my eyes...

On to the mystery itself, it's good and I like the fact that it is anything but straightforward. I appreciated the fact that the clues are slowly doled out. The build-up and pacing of the mystery are both good, especially when it comes down to the wire. As to the big reveal, I had the villain pegged from the time they first popped up and from there it was just taking the information given to us to see if it fit. At some points, things are a just a tad obvious. I wasn't off by much at all! (view spoiler)

Overall, I enjoyed this cozy mystery much more than I initially expected to enjoy it and that mostly goes back to Audrey's strengths as a character. If you're relatively new to this genre, or subgenre, this would be a good place to jump into it, especially if you like flowers and a clever leading lady.

I read this from October 12 - 27, 2014 and my review is also on Goodreads.

The Eye of Minds (The Mortality Doctrine #1) by James Dashner - Review

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Michael is a skilled gamer. Like most, he spends more of his time in the VirtNet than he does in the Wake (the real world). The VirtNet offers full body and mind immersion and you can play and experience as many games and worlds as money can buy without having to worry about death. The better you are at hacking makes things all the more fun. Recent reports claim that a gamer is going beyond what anyone else has done and is holding gamers hostage in the VirtNet. The effects are terrible because all the hostage have been brain-dead once they return to the wake. No one knows this terrorist's motive. VirtNet Security knows they'll need a top-of-the-line hacker to catch their criminal, so they recruit Michael. Michael will have to go off the VirtNet grid, if he accepts the VNS mission and go places he never thought possible.

I loved delving into Dashner's new world(s) as presented in this book. I enjoy a nice cyberpunk story, and this is pretty fantastic. Just the concept behind the story got me hooked. It's a thrilling, action-packed page-turner (I listened to the audiobook on Playaway, but you know what I mean). It's also pretty good at addressing a variety of issues involving death, war, and AI. I realize the ending has been divisive among readers, but I, for one, really enjoyed where Dashner took the story in regards to Kaine and Michael. The only aspect that could have made it better would have a little more depth to Bryson and Sarah.

I know my review hasn't done the story justice, but if it did I would have moved too far into spoiler territory.

If you like The Matrix, Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson, and Rick Riordan, you will probably love The Eye of Minds by James Dashner.

I'm really looking forward to the sequel, The Rule of Thoughts.

I listened to this from October 22 - 26, 2014 and my review is also on Goodreads.

Opposite Book Tag

I have been tagged by Ellen @ Random Smiles to participate in the Opposite Book Tag.  Thanks Ellen!

First book in your collection / Last book you bought

The first that I can remember getting is Little Toot by Hardie Gramatky from a family member.

Most recently I picked up The Music of the Spheres by Elizabeth Redfern from my local Goodwill.

A cheap book / An expensive book

The first could be pretty much any paperback I've picked up at Goodwill - so how about Sound Bender by Lin Oliver and Theo Baker.  It would have been something like 53 cents...

A lot of my college textbooks could fit this category.  One of the most expensive was History of Japanese Art by Penelope Mason, it was nearly $100 but it was worth it!

A book with a male protagonist / A book with a female protagonist

The Eye of Minds by James Dashner (I prefer this to The Maze Runner, I believe.)

The Shadows by Jacqueline West - My most recent read.

A book you read fast / A book that took you long to read

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart - it took only a couple days.  This one really held my interest!

Bloom and Doom by Beverly Allen - it took about 16 days.  Good but not exactly my style.  

Pretty cover / Ugly cover

I love the cover of All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill!

As much as I loved Snow Crash by  Neal Stephenson, I was kind of disappointed by the audiobook cover.  If only it could have better reflected the awesomeness of the story and characters.

A national book / An international book

Hollow City by Ransom Riggs - the author is from Florida and he attended the same college as John Green which isn't too far from me.

Jeeves and the Wedding Bells by Sebastian Faulks - the author lives with his family in London

A thin book / A thick book

Journey by Aaron Becker - a fantastic 40 page wordless picture book.

City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare - the final installment of The Mortal Instruments series clocked in at 725 pages.

Fiction book / Non-fiction book

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein 

The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom - both of these titles were pairs offered this past summer through YA SYNC.

Very (way too) romantic book / Action book

50 Shades of Grey by E. L. James - I'm also going with the same as Ellen. Do I need to explain why?

Duel for Cannons by Dane Hartman - I just randomly stumbled upon this Dirty Harry spin-off book series at a antique shop.  If this Dirty Harry book isn't action-packed, I don't know what is!

A book that made you happy / A book that made you sad

Cress by Marissa Meyer - Brilliant installment of The Lunar Chronicles!  Cress is such a great character!  Together with Thorne, the two really steal the show!

Mrs Hudson's Diaries: A View from the Landing of 221B by Barry and Bob Cryer - This book made me sad because it had so much potential, but it just fell flat.

If I tag you, I'll let you know.  Don't forget to link back to me, so I can see your responses!  [It's alright if you don't want to participate.]  If you want to participate even if you weren't tagged, feel free to join in the fun.

Tag, you're it:

Space Between the Spines
Emily Etc.
The Psychotic Nerd
A Book Paradise
Sabrina's Stories
A Flurry of Ponderings
Marie Loves Books

Top Ten Tuesday: Movies I Want To Watch To Get In The Halloween Spirit

I can't believe it's Tuesday already, but anyway that means I'm participating in Top Ten Tuesday which is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  This week there are three options: books and/or movies to get into the Halloween spirit and/or characters to dress up for as Halloween.  I opted to come up with a list of movies that are perfect to watch during this time of the year!  Here they are:

1408 - One of my recent favorite Stephen King adaptations!

The Addams Family/ Addams Family Values - Who doesn't love this?! (I listed these two as one because I have the dvd which includes both movies.)

Beetlejuice  - I've always enjoyed the Ghost with the Most, and you can't go wrong with Tim Burton and Danny Elfman!

The Conjuring - Most recent favorite horror movie!

Edward Scissorhands - Tim Burton, Danny Elfman, Johnny Depp, and Vincent Price - count me in!

Hocus Pocus - You can't go wrong with this!

House of Wax - I easily could have dedicated this list to Vincent Price, but I decided to go with the 1953 remake of the 1933 movie called Mystery of the House of Wax.  I would love to see this in 3D!  I wish I could do that with a paddle ball, too!

Let the Right One In - One of the best vampire movies out there.  Skip the American remake, Let Me In, and just watch the original.  You might also want to read the book by John Ajvide Lindqvist.

The Nightmare Before Christmas - You can't go wrong with this classic, at Halloween or Christmas, Tim Burton and Danny Elfman make a great pair!

Sleepy Hollow - Tim Burton, Danny Elfman, Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci, Christopher Walken, Miranda Richardson, Michael Gambon, Michael Gough, Richard Griffiths, Jeffrey Jones, and Christopher Lee are all  in my favorite movie adaptation of the classic story. If that cast doesn't make you want to see the movie, I don't know what would!


Oculus - I just watched this a few days ago and it's an excellent psychological horror movie.  If you like The Conjuring and/ or 1408, you'll probably like Oculus.  And, Karen Gillan is great!  The two playing young Kaylie and Tim are also very good.

So what do you think of my Halloween worthy movie list?  Do you like these movies as much as I do?  I could have made a really, reallhy long list, but I tried to narrow down to some of my favorites! :)

Friday, October 24, 2014

The Sham by Ellen Allen - Review

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I received a free ecopy of The Sham from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Emily would love to leave her town, called The Sham by locals, with her mysterious new boyfriend named Jack. However, Jack is very sick and he seems to shutting down, both physically and mentally. He is also on the run and under suspicion of murder. Lately, both have noticed mysterious graffiti all over town written in a dialect no one has spoken in over 100 years and some of Emily's classmates have gone missing and turned up dead. And Jack, for a variety of reasons, is high on the suspect list. Emily really wants to trust Jack, even though the whole town is warning her away from him. Who can she really trust, what really happened to those girls, and who exactly is Jack?

Fair warning right from the beginning: This story is not for the faint of heart or squeamish. It's definitely for older teens.

I was very intrigued by this story and I read through it pretty quickly. It's definitely engrossing and it hooked me from the start. I felt a pretty wide range of emotions while reading from anger, happiness, sadness, disgust, fear, etc. The characters for the most part well-defined. I can't say they were all likeable characters because some do some pretty despicable things. I liked both Jack and Emily, but I did have some major issues with their characters. Mainly, I can't understand exactly why Emily trusts Jack so much...I mean, he simply throws up too many red flags throughout the entire story. This is very difficult to review without spoilers, but by the end I couldn't believe the actual truth of what happened. Truly terrifying - I didn't see that coming.

Main issues: disappointed with the reveal about Jack, confusion over characters (why did two of the four bullies have to have such similar names?), and the many typos in the Kindle edition I received.

Overall, it's a very good mystery that will keep you guessing until the end!

Note: for some reason I kept imagining Emily's mother as Jackie Tyler from Doctor Who.

I read this book from October 12 - 22, 2014 and my review is also on Goodreads.

Reading Cram 2.0: Chills and Thrills Readathon! 1-2-3-Go!

Today is the first day of the #ReadingCram as hosted by  Jenny @ JuliaBabyJen's Reading Room, Rachel @ A Perfection Called Books, and Little Red Reader and it runs until Halloween.  In order to participate one  has to read Paranormal, Mystery, Horror, Thriller, Zombies, Werewolves, Vampires, and Witches themed books.

To kick off I'm starting with Lockdown: Escape from Furnace by Alexander Gordon Smith.

Others on my TBR for this readathon are:

Nightmares! by Jason Segel and Kristen Miller

The Hunt by Andrew Fukuda

Hot Blooded by Amanda Carlson

The Space Between  by Brenna Yovanoff

Dead Things by Stephen Blackmoore

Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison

Downfall by Rob Thurman

Handling the Undead by John Ajvide Lindqvist

I know I won't be able to read through all of these in the coming week, but in a perfect world I would love to finish these books in time for Halloween!

The Friday 56: Lockdown by Alexander Gordon Smith

Welcome to The Friday 56, a weekly meme hosted by Freda's Voice.

These are the rules:
1. Grab a book, any book.
2. Turn to page 56, or 56% on your eReader.
3. Find any sentence (or a few, just don't spoil it) that grabs you.
4. Post it.
5. Add the URL to your post in the link on Freda's most recent Friday 56 post.

Since I'm participating in the #ReadingCram Chills and Thrills Readathon (starting today), I'll use my first read for it!

I took an involuntary step back but stopped dead when the dogs started growling.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Enchanted (Woodcutter Sisters #1) by Alethea Kontis - Review

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I lucked out when I stumbled upon Enchanted by Alethea Kontis on audiobook at my local library!

Sunday Woodcutter is the youngest daughter in her family where all of the girls are named for the days of the week (you know the rhyme).  Sunday is also the seventh daughter of a seventh daughter.  One of the only things she enjoys is writing stories, but even there she has to be careful because what she writes often comes true.  One day, Sunday becomes fast friends with a frog when he asks about her stories.  When she kisses him goodbye and goes home, she doesn't realize that he transforms back into a human.  He's actually Rumbold, Prince of Arilland, a man who is despised by Sunday and her family.

When Rumbold returns to the castle, he plans to make Sunday fall in love with the man he is now.  How can she fall in love with a man she has hated ever since her brother died, a man she hardly knows and doesn't really want to know.  What secrets lie in their pasts?

If you couldn't tell from this short little summary, this is a fairy tale retelling.  And let's just say it incorporates a lot of fairy tales, like more than I can count on my fingers.  However, the main two that it draws from are The Frog Prince and Cinderella (not the Disney version).

My only real issue with the story is keeping the characters separate and remembering who's who and who does what.  A lot is covered in the story and at times I was a bit confused as to what was going on, especially when it came to Jack Jr.

Overall, the author is able to blend the tales in interesting ways that I wouldn't have initially expected, but somehow she manages to make it work here.  The world building is well done and the characters are, for the most part, relatable.  I could also see them grow over the course of the story, especially Rumbold.  The narrator, Katherine Kellgren, does an excellent job of performing the story and making each voice unique.

If you enjoy watching Once Upon A Time and reading the A Tale Dark & Grimm series by Adam Gidwitz, you just may enjoy this dark and twisty story called Enchanted by Alethea Kontis.  I'm looking forward to Hero, the second book in the Woodcutter Sisters series.

By the way, is it just me or did anyone else think of this guy every time the name Rumbold was mentioned?

I listened to this from October 19 - 22, 2014 and my review is also available on Goodreads.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: New Series I Want To Start

It's Tuesday and that means I'm participating in Top Ten Tuesday which is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  The theme this week is New Series I Want To Start.  For me this list could be very long and exhaustive, but I'll try to narrow it down to ten!

Sabriel by Garth Nix

The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau 

Timebound by Rysa Walker 

Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis 

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Lockdown by Alexander Gordon Smith

Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison

Dead Things by Stephen Blackmoore

Among Thieves by Douglas Hulick

Generation V by M.L. Brennan

Whew! That wasn't so difficult!  I know some of them are a bit older, but I just found them.  They're new to me!  What do you think of my list?  Do we share any series?