Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Giveaway of Variant

Matched author Ally Condie is giving away a copy of Robison Wells' latest novel, Variant on her blog.

This is the Variant synopsis from Robison Wells' site:

Benson Fisher thought a scholarship to Maxfield Academy would be the ticket out of his dead-end life.

He was wrong.

Now he’s trapped in a school that’s surrounded by a razor-wire fence. A school where video cameras monitor his every move. Where there are no adults. Where the kids have split into groups in order to survive.

Where breaking the rules equals death.

But when Benson stumbles upon the school’s real secret, he realizes that playing by the rules could spell a fate worse than death, and that escape—his only real hope for survival—may be impossible.

Head on over to Ally's blog if you are interested in winning. Or don't, because if you enter my chances of winning go down. ;)

Monday, September 26, 2011

A Month of Summer

A Month of Summer (Blue Sky Hill #1)A Month of Summer by Lisa Wingate

My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars

"For Rebecca Macklin, an ordinary summer brings about an extraordinary change of heart when she discovers that her aging father has been wandering the Dallas streets alone, and his wife, Hanna Beth, has landed in a nursing home. Now Rebecca must put aside old resentments and return to her childhood home. In this moving story of separation and forgiveness, two women will unravel the betrayals of the past and discover the true meaning of family."-B& overview

My favorite books are those that pull me in early, and are so captivating that I don't want to put them down. Unfortunately, A Month of Summer wasn't that type of book for me. In fact, I read or listened to several other books while I worked my way through this one.

The story was pretty good, but it was really slow (at least for the first half of the book or so). The alternating view points were both good and bad. I liked to know what Hanna Beth and Rebecca were thinking, but switching back and forth seemed to drag the progress on.

I did find Hannah Beth's POV as a stroke victim really interesting. I can't imagine how frustrating it must be to not be able to communicate (or even move) the way you've been used to for your entire life. The attitude of some of the nursing home employees was very disheartening.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Pumpkin Roll

Pumpkin RollPumpkin Roll by Josi S. Kilpack

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sadie Hoffmiller is at it again in the 6th culinary mystery by Josi S. Kilpack.

Sadie accompanies her boyfriend, Pete, to Boston to babysit his grandchildren. The kids get along well with "Aunt Sadie" and everyone is having a great time. That is, until Sadie notices a neighbor (Mrs. Wapple-thought to be a witch) in pain. Sadie, being the caring (and nosy) person she is, can't help but get involved.

I was concerned that I might have built up my expectations too much waiting to get my hands on a copy of Pumpkin Roll. Luckily, I wasn't let down. It was a great story, especially this time of year (Halloween creepy).

For awhile I was bothered that Sadie (master of noticing details) missed a very important clue. But, it turned out that it wasn't a clue after all! I was totally caught off guard by "who done it". It will be interesting to see how the "bad guy" plays into further books.

And speaking of that, the sneak peak of Banana Split left me wanting to read more. (Too bad it doesn't come out until Spring of 2012.)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Hunger Games & Audio Books

The other day I was doing a canning project that was taking forever. The audiobook of Catching Fire was on my iPod, so I turned it on to keep me company. Catching Fire is the second book in The Hunger Games series.

If you haven't read this series, you might want to consider it. It's set in the future where a corrupt government annually punishes its citizens by selecting a boy and girl from each of its 12 districts to fight to the death. This is a reminder that citizens shouldn't rebel against the Capital.

It's brutal, but the writing really draws you in. The characters are very well done. It's not a happy book (which I tend to prefer), but it's sort of addicting. The end of the series isn't totally satisfying (because it's not dripping with happiness), but it works. And, it makes you think. About Peeta. A lot! Poor, poor Peeta.

The reader for The Hunger Games audiobooks is Carolyn McCormick. I don't know anything about her, but she does a great job with this series.

The reader really makes or breaks an audiobook for me. Jim Dale=awesome. Can you even imagine anyone else as the reader for the Harry Potter series?

My husband and I checked out an audiobook (I think it was The Smoke Jumper) for a road trip. Having Luke Perry as the reader didn't work for me. His voice was just too familiar, in a very distracting way (and I'm not sure that I really liked the book either).

I loved the book Matched, but I heard a little snippet of the audiobook, and I'm not sure that I like the reader. She might grow on you if you heard more than a minute or so though.

What audiobooks really work (or don't work) for you?

Monday, September 19, 2011


Forever (The Wolves of Mercy Falls, #3)Forever by Maggie Stiefvater

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I've taken a few days to digest how I felt about Forever, the final book in The Wolves of Mercy Falls series.

The wolves are a problem in Mercy Falls. People are dying, and some powerful citizens decide it's time to take a stand and get rid of the wolves-permanently.

Unfortunately, they don't realize that many of the wolves are humans (or were until they stopped shifting). Sam, Cole, Isabel, and Grace try to figure out a plan to relocate the wolves. Cole is also determined to find a cure.

I think that the ending was decent. I didn't love it, but the conflict was resolved.

Cole and Isabel are more likable in this book, although they are somewhat frustrating at times. They are also really fond of cursing. I could have done without that.

There were also a few instances where the characters were quite intimate. I can't remember all of the ages of the characters, but I think that Grace and Isabel are 17. I would have liked a more toned down approach to the young love/lust.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Monarch Winner!

Thanks to the "Truly Random Number Generator" I found online, the lucky winner for a copy of Monarch is commenter #18:

Congratulations Kendra! I hope you enjoy Monarch.

As mentioned in the giveaway, I need the address you want it mailed to by Sunday, September 11th.

Thanks to everyone who entered. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Cross Gardener

The Cross GardenerThe Cross Gardener by Jason F. Wright

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Tearjerker would be an understated way to describe The Cross Gardener. Just when I thought I was finished crying, I'd start all over again. My poor, poofy eyes and stuffy nose.

The Cross Gardener tells the emotional story of John Bevan. The details of his birth and then adoption were given factually. Although the birth story wasn't happy, it was a detail. But, Jason F. Wright painted a picture of John's adolescence and young adulthood that drew me in.

I was heartbroken when John's wife and baby died in a car accident. I mourned along with him and his daughter. I was curious about the cross gardener. I worried about John, and hoped that Lou Lou would start talking again.

A very touching story about love and loss, hope and living.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Until We Reach Home

Until We Reach HomeUntil We Reach Home by Lynn Austin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Until We Reach Home follows the journey of three orphaned Swedish sisters as they immigrate to America, and try to find a new home.

There were many struggles along the way, and even more once they reached America. Each sister had to overcome her own internal battles as well as the physical difficulties of the journey.

I enjoy historical fiction, and found the details of the journey and the procedures at Ellis Island very interesting.

One of the sisters found comfort in reading her mother's Bible, and several scriptures were quoted in the story. It would be interesting to know what version of the Bible Austin was using for these quotes-it definitely wasn't the King James version.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Broken Road

The Broken RoadThe Broken Road by Shannon Guymon

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Allison Vaughn's father is a con man, and is nearing the end of his prison sentence in Texas. When her mother dies in a car accident Allison gets custody of her younger siblings. They move back to Alpine, Utah, hoping that their father won't follow them since many people are still feeling the repercussions of his cons from years before.

Unfortunately, the Vaughn's have a hard time fitting in as many people judge them for what their father did. Overtime, most people are able to look past what Max Vaughn did, and accept Allison and her siblings for who they are.

I really wanted to like this book, but it was a struggle to finish. The characters were pretty well done, but relationships felt rushed, and some of the dialogue didn't catch my attention very well.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Theodore Boone, The Abduction

Theodore Boone, The AbductionTheodore Boone, The Abduction by John Grisham

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I didn't love The Abduction as much as the first Theodore Boone novel. Not that it wasn't well done. It had more of the fast paced, throw the facts out there, parts that a lot of Grisham novels have. I think what bothered me was that somewhere I saw that these books were intended for a very young, pre-teen audience. I have a daughter that will be in that age range very soon, and I felt that this would have been too scary for her.

The focus on the story is the disappearance of Theo's good friend April. It appeared that she was taken from her home in the middle of the night. The main suspect is a distant relative who just escaped from prison. Theo and his friends are on the case to find April, dead or alive.

There was a lot of detective work in this story and just a little bit of legal/courtroom work. It was clean (no profanity and most details on a kid's level), but I wouldn't recommend it to younger kids who would be bothered by the kidnapping and possible murder of a child.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Win an iPad2 from the Author Josi S. Kilpack and Shadow Mountain Publishers

In just a few short days the sixth Sadie Hoffmiller Culinary Mystery will be released. I'm very excited to read Pumpkin Roll. Especially since I've heard that it's the best of the six books so far. I'll have to make a trip to my bookmobile ASAP to make sure they have this on their list to order (it helps that I'm pretty tight with my local bookmobile personnel). ;)

If you haven't read any of these Culinary Mysteries, YOU ARE MISSING OUT. Sadie is such an interesting, quirky character. She doesn't fit into your typical investigator role (which is what makes the books so entertaining). And, the recipes included in the books are pretty sweet too!

In conjunction with the release of Pumpkin Roll the author, Josi S. Kilpack, and the publisher, Shadow Mountain, are sponsoring a contest for a new iPad. To enter, leave a comment in the comment section of this blog before November 1, 2011. Winners will be announced and notified November 3rd 2011.

For additional ways to enter, go to

Feel free to browse around while you are here. Don't miss the giveaway noted in the previous post.


Monarch takes you on a wild ride from the jungles of Brazil to the isolated Monarch Inn in West Virginia.

Nick is a CIA spy hot on the trail of elusive drug lord, Matheus Ferreira. But, Nick's mission turns terribly wrong, and he's forced to run for his life. Keeping his daughters safe while trying to clear his name leads him back to Lillian Love and the Monarch Inn.

Like the monarchs for which the inn was named, each character undergoes their own metamorphosis. Only time will tell if their transformation will be beautiful or not.

If you are a fan of thrillers, and don't mind some adult language and situations, then this is the novel for you.

Michelle has a great talent for writing. Although I didn't love everything in her novel (I am one who "minds adult language and situations"), I very much appreciated her talent for telling a story. Monarch has great character development, and just the right amount of detail. I was captivated and not overloaded by unimportant drivel.

I received an advanced reader copy of Monarch from Rhemalda Publishing, and another copy is up for grabs to one of my readers. Enter to win on the Monarch Giveaway post.

Michelle Davidson Argyle was gracious enough to let me ask her a few questions about Monarch and writing.

Q: What was your inspiration for Monarch?

A: Monarch was inspired by a few things, but not all at once. I first gleaned the idea from reading Annie Dillard's Pilgrim at Tinker Creek where she has a section about monarch butterflies. It struck such a chord in me that I knew I had to write a story based on butterflies one day.

Q: Who is your favorite character, and why?

A: It's difficult to choose a favorite character, but I'd have to say that Catarina is a solid favorite of mine aside from a few others. I think she's my favorite because her story is the most dynamic for me - even though none of the story is told from her point of view. Her story comes full circle, and despite her being such an evil character, I greatly admire her strength and the decisions she makes at the end of the book.

Q: Your reader guide mentions symbolism. What is the most important symbolism in the book that you wouldn't want readers to misunderstand?

A: I'd have to say the monarch butterflies, of course. I don't want them misinterpreted as a way to get across some political view about their endangerment. I hope every reader can look at the butterfly cycle and see a similar cycle in each of the main characters.

Q: What do you hope that readers will take from Monarch?

A: I hope readers understand by the end of the story that we are all flawed in pretty drastic ways, but that there is always hope to overcome those flaws, especially if we allow others to help us see those flaws and fix them - and sometimes simply accept them and live with them depending on what they are. For instance, Nick is a very flawed character and is extremely selfish in a lot of ways, but I think even the reader might not see that at first, and neither does he. By the end of the book he begins to emerge from his cocoon, so to speak, in order to see the world in a different light. I hope we can all do that throughout our lives in different stages.

Q: When did you decide you wanted to be an author?

A: That's easy. I was literally thinking up stories and loving language from the moment I knew the alphabet. I distinctly remember learning the letter "O" in kindergarten and dreaming about the ocean and what happened on those choppy waves.

Q: Do you pattern any of your characters or locations after people/places you know?

A: People, no. Places, sometimes. In Monarch, however, I don't remember patterning any of the locations or people after anything I knew specifically.

Q: Did you have to do a lot of research about the CIA, Brazil, and West Virginia for Monarch?

A: I did! Just try researching the CIA, though. It's kind of tricky! Brazil I didn't quite get right, and I was lucky that my publisher had lived there for awhile and could help me fix some details. West Virginia I researched pretty heavily to get the feel right since I've never been there. I also talked to some friends who have lived there before.