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Bending the Spine

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Follow Friday (6)

Q. Let's step away from books for a second and get personal. What T-Shirt slogan best describes you? 

A:  My wife, many years ago bought me a Hollister tee that reads “Drive Thru Junkie.”  It was true then, it’s true now.  At least 3 times a week I’m grabbing food from Chic-fil-a or McDonald’s, or Zaxby’s.  I still have the tee and wear it with pride!

What’s your slogan?

Many Adventures,

*Follow Friday is a weekly bog-hop hosted by Parajunkee & Alison Can Read*

Review: Cash Burn by Michael Berrier

image Description:
Billions of dollars flow through Jason Dunn's banking office each year. When he suffers a series of career setbacks and his marriage begins to crumble, he and his attractive new assistant devise a plan to disappear with a slice of the bank's cash flow. The unwelcome appearance of his brother on the scene, just released from prison, threatens to sidetrack Jason's plans. But Jason's brother "Flip" has his own problems with a parole officer who isn't fooled by this dangerous parolee. In the race to the jackpot between Jason and Flip, and the unwinding of their troubled history, the question soon becomes, Who will get burned?

Kindle Edition
Published June 24th 2011 by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
ASIN: B0057Z87JE

Revenge is a dangerous thing.  We all know that hatred festering can lead to dark things.  Michael Berrier explores these themes in Cash Burn.

I have problems with this book.  Now, this is a fantastic read.  It is easy, except when some technicalities of the banking industry come up—they are a little hard to follow.  It’s just that this book is…unrealistic?  Much of the plotline is very thin.  I figured out some, but not all of, what was going on very early on.  It was like Berrier made an outline of what needed to happen and wrote his book, created his characters, scripted their actions to fit his ultimate goal.  This whole story is very contrived.

So many questions are raised that are left unanswered.  Jason, I HATE JASON.  This character is one-dimensional.  Ruled by his penis, tortured by a past that is really not his fault, fueled by anger.  I mean, he contributed to what happened in an indirect way, but what happened was not of his doing.  So, to allow himself to be tormented by it constantly? Yeah, I’m not buying him at all.  And when Jason was scolded by his boss and completely looses it, blames the world for his problems…does crazy run in the family?  My biggest issue with Jason: How could he not consider the fact that Serena really wasn’t having an affair?!?!  One track mind much?…ugh.  I HATE JASON.

Best chapter in the entire book: 58.  Flip.  I felt sorry for him.  I knew this was coming.  Don’t want to spoil it.  Beautiful, just beautiful.

Everything about the plot is perfect.  It fits perfectly together.  The events perfectly assist the plan of the villain.  It’s just so wonderfully (read with seething sarcasm) perfect.  Neat and tidy.  Like some master puppeteer controlled every aspect of the character’s lives and orchestrated their demise.

What surprised me most about Cash Burn is that it is published by a Christian publisher…I had no idea until the Pastor preached the Gospel of Salvation to Jason and I did some major research on the author, publisher, etc.  The religious aspects of the story were handled gracefully and with tact.  I like it!  This is not your typical Christian novel—relationships were detailed, sensual, there was violence, blood. 

I’ve bashed it a lot.  But that doesn’t mean I disliked Cash Burn.  On the contrary, I was drawn into the story like a moth to a bug zapper and read feverishly to the end.  Now, the end was as I expected it to be, aside from one little twist that I hadn’t figured out yet.  The ending was really good.  I love this book, and I hate it.  I just can’t figure out which side I’m on more.

3 Stars: ???

Many Adventures,

*Cash Burn was provided to me by the publishers through netGalley*

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Early Review: The Dead Kid Detective Agency by Evan Munday

image Description:
Thirteen-year-old October Schwartz is new in town; short on friends and the child of a clinically depressed science teacher, she spends her free time in the Sticksville Cemetery and it isn’t long before she befriends the ghosts of five dead teenagers, each from a different era of the past. Using October’s smarts and the ghosts’ abilities to walk through walls and roam around undetected, they form the Dead Kid Detective Agency, a group committed to solving Sticksville’s most mysterious mysteries. So when the high school’s beloved French teacher dies in a suspicious car accident, it provides the agency with its first bona fide case, putting them in the midst of a murder plot thick with car chases, cafeteria fights, and sociopathic math teachers, and sending them on an adventure that might just uncover the truth about a bomb that exploded 40 years ago.

Paperback, 300 pages
Expected publication: September 1st 2011 by Ecw Press
ISBN: 1550229710 (ISBN13: 9781550229714)

Ok, so lets just say that I was wrong about this book.  I apologize to the Dead Kids.  I misjudged the book by it’s first 80 pages.

I had a hard time getting into it.  The first 80 or so pages were hard.  Very dull.  Day in the life of a 12-then-13yo genius Goth girl kinda dull.  The story is told from a narrator’s and from October’s points of view.  Hard to follow? Yes.  Interesting writing style? Yes.  Clever writing & funny? Yes.  Easy to follow? No.  You get the picture.

October (who’s name has to be the best character name of 2011) is new at school, shy, self-conscious, and only 13…as a freshman in high school.  Anyone hear the Doogie Howser theme?  Yeah, but it’s not like that.  She’s not some uber-freak smart kid, she’s just ahead based on the curriculum from her last school.  Anyway, she’s a loner, has a couple friends, spends time in a graveyard.  Yeah, and that’s about all that happened until Chapter 6.  But keep reading, trust me.  I did.  Things get SO much better.

The mysterious death of her favorite teacher leads October, with the help of the BEST part of the entire book: THE DEAD KIDS (!!!!), on a search for the who’s, what’s, when’s, where’s, why’s, and how’s.  It’s a comedy of errors, mixed in with some Canadian history lessons, and a lot of Nancy Drew-esq sleuth work.  As a 30-something I was entertained.  As a tween, with my ever-present discerning taste in literature, I would have been entertained as well.

Now, I can’t honestly post a review without some criticism.  And there is actually very little to criticize.  The Dead Kid Detective Agency is long—at just over 300 pages, the story did get a little winded, and a few (or a few thousand) words could/should have been removed.     Though intriguing, there was too much mess between critical plot-relevant elements of the novel.  It was like the never-ending story.  I’m sure you caught that THE BEST PART OF THE BOOK ARE THE DEAD KIDS, but there’s not enough of them in the book.  It’s “October this” or “October that.”  The Dead Kids felt like an after thought, just a clever name for a book.

I get the distinct impression that this is the first in a series of books.  If this is so, I will check out the next in the series.

4 Stars: Investigate this one, the answers are worth the footwork.

Many Adventures,

*This pre-release was provided to me by the publishers through netGalley*

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Book Haul(3): Giveaway Edition

This week’s IMM is all books I won in a giveaway hosted by Mary over at BookHounds.  The books are all from Hachette Book Group (big shout-out to you guys!).

Super excited about reading this haul!  Some are outside of my reading comfort-zone, but I like a little adventure in my reading!

Book images link to the Goodreads pages.

imageimageimage   imageimage 

So, what did you get?

Many Adventures,

*IMM is hosted by Kristi over at The Story Siren*

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Follow Friday (5)


Q. Name 3 authors that you would love to sit down and spend an hour or a meal with just talking about either their books or get advice on writing from?

A.  Ohhhhh, this is a hard question…Parajunkee, why are you so mean? lol.  At least you’re not asking us “why!”

Let’s see…(15 minutes later after perusing recent reviews)…

1. Rusty Fischer (author or Ushers, Inc. [review coming soon!] & Zombies Don’t Cry)
2. Ransom Riggs (author of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children [my review])
3. Mike Mullin (author of Ashfall [my review])

Who did you pick?

Many Adventures,

*Follow Friday is a weekly bog-hop hosted by Parajunkee & Alison Can Read*

Review: Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

the cold.
Grace has spent years watching the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf—her wolf—watches back. He feels deeply familiar to her, but she doesn't know why.

the heat.

Sam has lived two lives. As a wolf, he keeps the silent company of the girl he loves. And then, for a short time each year, he is human, never daring to talk to Grace...until now.

the shiver.

For Grace and Sam, love has always been kept at a distance. But once it's spoken, it cannot be denied. Sam must fight to stay human—and Grace must fight to keep him—even if it means taking on the scars of the past, the fragility of the present, and the impossibility of the future.

mp3 file
Published August 1st 2009 by Scholastic Audio (first published January 1st 2009)
ISBN: 0545165083 (ISBN13: 9780545165082)
series: The Wolves of Mercy Falls #1
literary awards: British Fantasy Award (2010), An ALA/YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers (2010), ALA Teens' Top Ten (2010), Children's Choice Book Award Nominee for Teen Choice Book of the Year (2010), Pennsylvania Young Readers' Choice Award YA Nominee (2011) Pennsylvania Young Readers' Choice Award YA Nominee (2011), Florida Teens Read Nominee (2010), Teen Read Award Nominee for Best Read (2010), Voya Perfect Ten (2009), The Inky Awards for Silver Inky (2010)
How can I express my love for this book?  “It made me feel giddy like a school girl,” is hardly an accurate description.  This may be one of my favorite reads (umm, listens??) of 2011!
Grace, oh Grace, perfectly flawed, adorable, loveable.  Sam, awkward, love-struck, tortured.  I could not imagine two more perfect lead characters!  And the fact that they become a couple…YES!  Although, I didn’t understand the whole love-at-first-sight thing until WAY later in the book…you know, when it was blatantly pointed out.  I was like, “Oh, gah I’m an idiot not to see that.”  So, yeah, makes total sense, so just go with it. 
I even love the supporting characters: Beck, Isabel, Rachel.  I grew to love Olivia by the end of the book.  Even Jack has a special place in my heart.  Stiefvater did an amazing job of writing them.  Depth, growth, insecurities—I felt all of their emotions with them.
Now, with all the hype over this book, I was suspicious.  However, it did not disappoint as other overly-promoted-and-recommend books (ahem, Twilight et al) have.  Shiver could have been sappy, cheesy, awkward with the love-at-first-sight element.  But, this is no Bella-Edward mess.  We are talking about a well thought-out, thoroughly developed plot line.  Stiefvater is a rock star!
There was some angst, which I expected since this is a YA book.  Normal teenage stuff like dating, friendship issues, homework, all overshadowed by ware wolves and the perceived threat of them.  Though much of the book is spent in the thoughts of Grace and Sam, it is not boring, or dull, it is very suspenseful and intriguing.  I looked forward to being in my Tribute just to listen to a few more minutes.  I craved Shiver; like a moth to flame it drew me in.
The ending was completely beautiful.  Satisfying. Quenching.  I am sad now that I’m finished *insert super sad face here*.  Linger and Forever are going on my TBR, if they aren’t already!
5 Stars: I would stand out in the cold shivering to get the rest of the series!
Many Adventures,

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Early Review: Falling Hard by JK Coi

After a life filled with tragedy, rocker Gabriel Gunn thinks he's finally getting the better of his personal demons. Then he's attacked after a concert—and rescued by a warrior goddess brandishing a sword and white wings. As hard as it is to believe in an angelic bodyguard, Gabriel must face an even more impossible truth: he carries the devil's soul within him.
Amelia has been watching over Gabriel for years, using her angelic powers to prevent Lucifer's return. Now she must also protect him from warring angel factions with their own agendas. Amelia would do anything to avert another angelic war, even sacrifice her own emotions to avoid temptation. Yet with Gabriel she feels things she no longer wants to deny, and pleasure she never imagined.
But the closer Gabriel and Amelia get, the stronger Lucifer becomes. Will Amelia be forced to kill the man she's come to love to stop the war she's always feared?
Expected publication: July 18th 2011 by Carina Press
ASIN: B005078OJM

***I must preface this review by saying that I hate to not finish a book.  It’s a compulsive need to follow-through, to bring a story to completion by closing the proverbial chapter on it.  I don’t mind giving a bad review, we all have our own opinions about things, and that’s cool.  However, I just could not finish Falling Hard.  I tried, I really did.  It just didn’t do it for me.***

So, here’s the…ahem…long & short of it:  Blah blah blah, action sequence, sexual tension builds, blah blah blah, more action blah blah blah, major sex scene, blah blah blah.  I just couldn’t get into this story as much as I wanted to.  JK Coi conjures up her on brand of angel, an interesting concept—the whole reason I decided to request this on netGalley.

There is so much talk about destiny, and fulfilling destiny, and destiny not being finished.  I’m just not buying it.  I wanted to love Falling Hard, the characters, the plot, but I just didn’t…or maybe couldn’t.  There wasn’t enough to them.  If you removed the lust Gabriel and Amelia have for each other, there was really nothing to them, nothing to make me like them.  They were so flat they were almost transparent.  Don’t get me wrong.  There was action, violence, blood,  and cussing (lots of cussing), so I should have enjoyed it, but I just didn’t.

Ugh, I got very frustrated with the story, to the point where I just wanted it over.  Finito.  So, I stopped reading it.  And, I don’t care how the story ends…so there.

After my first successful experience with a romance novel, I decided to give this one a try.  Epic fail on my part.  So, maybe I’m not man enough to read romance after all…

??? Star: It felt like falling hard…and not in the good way.

Many Adventures,

*This pre-release was provided to me by the publishers through netGalley*

Monday, July 18, 2011

In My Mailbox (1)

So, this is my first IMM!
This past week I received the following:

Dark Territory by J. Gabriel Gates & Charlene Keel

Ushers, Inc. by Rusty Fischer (currently reading)

Brightwing by Sullivan Lee

The Kult by Shaun Jeffrey
All book titles link to the Goodreads page.  Check ‘em out, add them to your TBR list, and watch my blog for reviews!

What’d you get?

Many Adventures,

*IMM is hosted by Kristi over at The Story Siren*

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Follow Friday (4)


Q. What do I do when I are not reading?


A. Well, this is definitely a hard one.  I work fulltime, commute 1.5 hours per day, am a husband and father.  There’s always, ALWAYS a load of laundry that needs to be washed, dried, and folded, a kid that needs to be comforted or held…So, what do I do when I’m not reading…A LOT!!! :)


What do you do?


Many Adventures,



*Follow Friday is a weekly blog-hop hosted by Parajunkee*

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (3)

WoW is a weekly blog-hop hosted by Breaking the Spine that features books we are eagerly awaiting!
This week, my WoW pick is Graveminder by Melissa Marr.

I gots me a giftcard with my Kobo Touch I received for Father’s Day this year.  And, I had to find a book of awesomeness to read, and found this while searching through the Kobo store.  I read the prologue on there and was hooked.  I haven’t read it yet, but I did buy it!

“Sleep well, and stay where I put you.”  Holy cow it’s almost more than I can do to wait to get to his book on my list!

Many Adventures,
Three sips to mind the dead . . .
Rebekkah Barrow never forgot the attention her grandmother Maylene bestowed upon the dead of Claysville, the small town where Bek spent her adolescence. There wasn't a funeral that Maylene didn't attend, and at each one Rebekkah watched as Maylene performed the same unusual ritual: She took three sips from a silver flask and spoke the words "Sleep well, and stay where I put you."
Now Maylene is dead, and Bek must go back to the place she left a decade earlier. She soon discovers that Claysville is not just the sleepy town she remembers, and that Maylene had good reason for her odd traditions. It turns out that in Claysville the worlds of the living and the dead are dangerously connected; beneath the town lies a shadowy, lawless land ruled by the enigmatic Charles, aka Mr. D. If the dead are not properly cared for, they will come back to satiate themselves with food, drink, and stories from the land of the living. Only the Graveminder, by tradition a Barrow woman, and her Undertaker—in this case Byron Montgomery, with whom Bek shares a complicated past—can set things right once the dead begin to walk.
Although she is still grieving for Maylene, Rebekkah will soon find that she has more than a funeral to attend to in Claysville, and that what awaits her may be far worse: dark secrets, a centuries-old bargain, a romance that still haunts her, and a frightening new responsibility—to stop a monster and put the dead to rest where they belong.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Review: Dodge the Bullet by Christy Hayes

Sarah Woodward is a mother with a mission. Two years after her husband is killed in a plane crash, Sarah decides to move her kids away from their fast paced life in suburban Atlanta to small town Hailey, Colorado. Her young sons aren’t happy to leave their friends, but Sarah feels the family needs a fresh start with fewer complications.

Sarah doesn’t know a Colorado Senator has earmarked her ranch for purchase and he’ll do anything to get it. Unwilling to sell, she dismisses his continued offers as an annoyance and moves ahead by improving the land with the help of a sexy stranger, A.J. Dodge, unwittingly sent her way by the very senator who needs her land.  (shortened from Goodreads)

Published May 2nd 2011 by Christy Hayes
I’m a man.  I have a lifetime membership to the man club ( my man card says so & my testicles and penis prove it).
So, when Christy Hayes requested I review her ROMANCE NOVEL, I wasn’t so sure if I could enjoy the genre enough to give an honest opinion.  I found out that I am man enough to read and really, REALLY enjoy reading a romance novel.  Dodge the Bullet was such an easy read.  I can totally understand why women the world over read romance novels—they’re just fun!
Christy Hayes (a fellow Southerner…WOOT WOOT!) weaved a tale of intrigue and mystery, revealing bits and pieces as needed.  She created characters that I loved and hated, very real, experiencing real doubts and fears.  Dodge the Bullet is like a romantic dramedy (drama-comedy).  I like that she built the story, established a relationship between Dodge and Sarah before anything remotely romantic began.  Their relationship of mutual hate and disgust was humorous.  And FINALLY things heat up between them…and life interrupts.  It’s so, real.  I like that.  Even though this is marketed as a romance novel, and the sexual tension is more exaggerated than non-romance novels, the story is complete, fleshed out.  I was surprised in a good way.
Dodge is a tortured man.  Tortured by his past, by things he did or didn’t do, by the townspeople now that’s he’s back in Hailey.  I got tired of his self-deprecation, of his I-can’t-have-love-because-I-swore-it-off attitude.  The best Dodge got was when he was doing the protecting the Woodwards.  I just got bored with his woe-is-me mess.
Another character complaint I have is that many of the men in authority positions were chauvinistic pigs.  They were unbelievable jerk-wads.  Maybe it was supposed to add to the story, but seemed oddly out of place and didn’t make a difference.  At all.
Dodge the Bullet could have used one more edit.  I found several grammatical errors and sentences that were rewritten without removing additional words (and hence, taking a couple reads through to understand what was being said).  The writing style is a little choppy, and I never quite got used to it—the story was told from several different perspectives, often changing characters in the middle of a scene to complete the chapter.
As a whole, Christy Hayes wrote a story that had this man hooked, at least until the danger was squelched.  I can’t say that I read the last couple chapters word for word.  They were emotional, overly mushy.  The ending was tied up in a neat little package, with a big shiny bow.
3.5 Stars: Good, easy summer read.
Many Adventures,
*This ebook was provided to me by the author*

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Book to Movie: Beastly by Alex Flinn

From time to time I may feature a post a review of a book-to-movie nature.  I promise this won’t happen too often.

I am a beast.

A beast!

Not quite wolf or bear, gorilla or dog but a horrible new creature who walks upright. I am a monster.

You think I'm talking fairy tales? No way. The place is New York City. The time is now. It's no deformity, no disease. And I'll, stay this way forever ruined unless I can break the spell.

Yes, the spell, the one the witch in my English class cast on me. Why did she turn me into a beast who hides by day and prowls by night? I'll tell you. I'll tell you how I used to be Kyle Kingsbury, the guy you wished you were, with money, perfect looks, and the perfect life. And then, I'll tell you how I became perfectly...beastly.

I know that no book-to-movie transformation is perfect.  They cannot be exactly the same.  Cinema and literature are different..um, beasts.

I read Beastly because I saw previews for the movie.  And, well, I like reading updates on fairy tales.  Don’t you get tired of the Disney version, too?  Anyway, I was very impressed with the book.  Recommended it to all my friends.  (Didn’t blog a review because I didn’t have my blog yet)

Now to the movie, which I watched last night, rented from the Redbox.  (Going to the movies is SO expensive!)  The writers/directors/whoever completely changed Hunter.  There was minimal growth in the movie.  Flinn’s Hunter was a beast, a hairy, mean, rude beast who had to grow and get past himself to find the love of Lindy.  Oh, Lindy, how I loved you in the book.  She was so, shallow in the movie as well.  Glimpses of their origins could be seen in the movie, but not who I felt they were in the books.  Which, to me, is a huge issue—the characters made the book awesome.  Movie Hunter was, well, not beastly enough.  Tattoos and some scarring, and he asks Lindy: “Pretty gruesome, huh?”  I’d say to be a beast, not nearly gruesome enough.

The plot line.  As I said, I understand things MUST be different in the movie (but I don’t really know why) from the book.  The whoevers took a lot of liberty with the plot line.  The amazingness of the novel, was whittled away into the shell of a teenage dramedy.  Ugh.  Sure, the central theme was there, finding love in spite of yourself, but the premise of the movie was so different.  It bothered me, really bothered me, that he built the greenhouse for her in the movie.  That’s NOT AT ALL the way it happened in the book.  I felt as if they cheated me out of a great book-to-movie conversion, selling me some watered-down version of the story instead.

As a Book-To-Movie:
Book: 4.5 Stars: Pretty much awesome
Movie: 2 Stars: Watch the movie, then read the book for full effect of the awesomeness

As Stand-alones:
Book: 4.5 Stars: Still pretty much awesomeness
Movie: 4 Stars: Cute, teen love story

Many Adventures,

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Book Haul: Vacation Edition

So, I was on vacation last week,  went to a couple different book stores and made off with a huge haul!  ALL of these books were $5 or less (Hush, Hush & Crescendo are hardback!!)….PURE AWESOMENESS!!!  Links to the Goodreads pages are below.
Fat Kid Rules The World by K.L. Going
Sharp Objects  by Gilliam Flynn
Bad Things Happen by Harry Dolan
Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick
Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

imageI also managed to get a used audiobook on the cheap: The Savage Garden by Mark Mills

This week I also got the following from NetGalley:
Sarah Court by Craig Davidson
Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick
Spellbound by Cara Lynn Shultz
Blood by K.J. Wignall
The Sleepwalkers by J. Gabriel Gates
The Twilight of Lake Woebegotten by Harrison Geillor

Y’all get anything good last week?

Many Adventures,

Friday, July 8, 2011

Follow Friday (3)


Q. Let's step away from besties...What is the worst book that you've ever read and actually finished?

A. I’m gonna catch some major flack for this one…

I’ve got several, but I’m only going to list two (maybe I’m overly critical??):
1. New Moon by Stephenie Meyer: I’m not a teenage girl, I don’t pretend to think like a teenage girl, but I just could not get past Bella torturing herself over Edward leaving her.  Really?  I’ve had my heart broken before, but I never cried for days on end or had nightmares.  Seriously.  This book sucked.

2.  Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins: I LOVED The Hunger Games and Catching Fire.  I rooted for Katniss.  Wanted her to be…free?  I guess.  Collins ruined the series with Mockingjay.  I will never understand why she did what she did to her characters.  Ugh.  This may actually be the worst series finale ever.
So, what are your least favorite books?

Many Adventures,

*Follow Friday is a weekly blog-hop hosted by Parajunkee*

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (2)

WoW is a weekly blog-hop hosted by Breaking the Spine that features books we are eagerly awaiting!
This week, my WoW pick is  Ushers, INC. by Rusty Fischer.

Saw this book on Ashley's blog and new i just HAD to read this!  Come on, movie nerds who kick bump-in-the-night-creature-of-your-nightmare’s butt?  Pure Awesomeness!  Can’t wait to get my hands on this!

Many Adventures,

When the streets are full of bloodsuckers, werewolves, zombies and ghouls, where will you turn? The cops don't know how to stop them, the Army's pretty much given up and even the Marines are stumped when their bullets and grenades fail to stop the onslaught.

Have no fear, Ushers, Inc. is here! Four high school movie ushers, who collectively have seen over 42,000 hours of B- and C-horror movies know just what to do.

Did you know copper pennies can stop a zombie in its tracks? Abby Cooper, Head Usher, does.
Did you know garlic paste is twice as effective on vampires as garlic cloves? Abby Cooper does.

Did you know werewolves are absolutely petrified of seeing a Hershey's kiss? Abby Cooper does.

The girls at Cypress Cove High school-especially Rich Witch Mia Hopwood-call Abby an uber-geek; the victims she rescues from zombies, werewolves and vampires just call her one thing: Hero!

But Abby and her fearless crew of movie ushers-slash-superheroes face more than just bloodsuckers and brain-biters. There's Wyatt Winters, for one; he's the hot new PR guru Ushers, Inc. has had to hire to handle all their press - and with his smoldering good looks and air of confidence, he's causing more than just tension between Abby and her old boy-crush-and fellow usher-Zach Nash.

And let's not forget the monsters, who aren't too happy about four geeky ushers beating their butts all over creation. Now the League of Associated Undead (LAD) is converging on Cypress Cove, determined to stop Ushers, Inc. once and for all.

When it's the monsters versus the monster hunters, who you gonna call?

Ushers, Inc., that's who!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Early Review: Those Across The River by Christopher Buehlman

image Description:
Failed academic Frank Nichols and his wife, Eudora, have arrived in the sleepy Georgia town of Whitbrow, where Frank hopes to write a history of his family's old estate-the Savoyard Plantation- and the horrors that occurred there. At first, the quaint, rural ways of their new neighbors seem to be everything they wanted. But there is an unspoken dread that the townsfolk have lived with for generations. A presence that demands sacrifice.
It comes from the shadowy woods across the river, where the ruins of Savoyard still stand. Where a longstanding debt of blood has never been forgotten.
A debt that has been waiting patiently for Frank Nichols's homecoming...

Hardcover, 368 pages
Expected publication: September 6th 2011 by Ace Hardcover
ISBN: 0441020674 (ISBN13: 9780441020676)

The prologue is gripping.  I ran through it like I was being chased, the few pages that it was.  Mysterious and fascinating, but it went down hill from there.  Christopher Buehlman rambles on and on and on.  So much happens that is thought inside Frankie’s head.  Pages and pages of his war dreams.  And the sex.  Yes, I know they’re young and in love, but we can get the idea without the gratuitous mentions of sex and sex acts?  So much of this book is filler.  Fluff.  And NOT the good kind.

A period piece set in the mid 1930s, but you don’t find this out until you’re through the third chapter.  Many things didn’t make sense until I knew the time period.  I can appreciate a period piece, and Those Across the River is good a being a period novel.  The language, the character's interactions, the melancholy overtones are all colored in a way that screams “1930s Rural Georgia” at the top of it’s lungs (well, I can assume they are since I’ve never been to 1930-something rural Georgia; I was born in the ‘80s and have only been to modern day rural Georgia, and only occasionally at that).  I like that Buehlman wrote in Southern dialect when the locals “spoke",” but did not over do it.  So, take out “those across the river,” and you're left with a simple period novel.

41% of my way through the book (my Kobo Touch keeps track of my progress that way…LOVE IT!) one tiny bit of scary has happened.  Sure, daily life in 1930s Whitbrow, GA is interesting—getting a soda at the drug store, sitting on the park bench watching the tea roses grow, going to town hall meetings.  The absolute most interesting part of this book so far is Martin Cramner, the taxidermist: he gets arrested for “public drunkenness and indecency and maybe vandalism, too” (page 140) after making a crown out of the town’s precious tea roses and proceeding to pee on the poor de-flowered plants. After 140 pages of dullness, shouldn’t there have been something more exciting happen?  Where is all the shadowy creepiness from the plantation?  Where is the excitement from the prologue???  The description did not do this book justice—it made it sound WAY better than it turned out to be.

It gets better, but only barely.  The last, oh, 100ish pages are pretty good.  ***SPOILER ALERT*** The town gets attacked, you see it coming, like the fat kid being the first one out in dodge ball.  So, they get a posse together and cross the river a second time.  Crazy good stuff happens (though fairly predictable).  From there through the end of the book I COULD NOT STOP READING!  And, for once, I find a book with a satisfyingly great ending.  Oh, the glorious ending—it couldn’t have been better.

The question on everyone’s mind: Does the small amount of good preside over the bad?  No.  I forced myself through this book for the sake of review, since the publishers were kind enough to let me read it through netGalley, bored with every verbose page, long-winded thought, and blandly simple prose.  There could have been a much better book salvaged from the wreckage that is Those Across the River.  Do you get the feeling I hate this book?  Because I do.  I hate just about everything about this book, except for the ending.  Not because the book was finally over, but because the last couple of pages were beautiful.  It was a disappointing, tedious to read, and unnecessarily vulgar book.

1.5 Stars: Let this book cross the river alone.

Many Adventures,

*This book was provided to me by the publishers through netGalley*

Friday, July 1, 2011

Review: Life Expectancy by Dean Koontz

With his bestselling blend of nail-biting intensity, daring artistry, and storytelling magic, Dean Koontz returns with an emotional roller coaster of a tale filled with enough twists, turns, shocks, and surprises for ten ordinary novels. Here is the story of five days in the life of an ordinary man born to an extraordinary legacy—a story that will challenge the way you look at good and evil, life and death, and everything in between.

Jimmy Tock comes into the world on the very night his grandfather leaves it. As a violent storm rages outside the hospital, Rudy Tock spends long hours walking the corridors between the expectant fathers' waiting room and his dying father's bedside. It's a strange vigil made all the stranger when, at the very height of the storm's fury, Josef Tock suddenly sits up in bed and speaks coherently for the frist and last time since his stroke.

What he says before he dies is that there will be five dark days in the life of his grandson—five dates whose terrible events Jimmy will have to prepare himself to face. The first is to occur in his twentieth year; the second in his twent-third year; the third in his twenty-eighth; the fourth in his twenty-ninth; the fifth in his thirtieth.

Rudy is all too ready to discount his father's last words as a dying man's delusional rambling. But then he discovers that Josef also predicted the time of his grandson's birth to the minute, as well as his exact height and weight, and the fact that Jimmy would be born with syndactyly—the unexplained anomaly of fused digits—on his left foot. Suddenly the old man's predictions take on a chilling significance.

What terrifying events await Jimmy on these five dark days? What nightmares will he face? What challenges must he survive? As the novel unfolds, picking up Jimmy's story at each of these crisis points, the path he must follow will defy every expectation. And with each crisis he faces, he will move closer to a fate he could never have imagined. For who Jimmy Tock is and what he must accomplish on the five days when his world turns is a mystery as dangerous as it is wondrous—a struggle against an evil so dark and pervasive, only the most extraordinary of human spirits can shine through.

From the Hardcover edition.

Audio CD, 0 pages
Published December 7th 2004 by Random House Audio (first published 2004)
ISBN: 0739315536 (ISBN13: 9780739315538)
This is my first EVER audiobook.  I tried it out on the recommendation of a coworker that listens to audiobooks during her commute.  I never thought that I would enjoy listening to someone else read a book, I’m easily distracted.  I found out that I, in addition to being a regular book nerd, am an audiobook nerd.
I don’t think that words can describe how great this book is!  It is, well, GREAT!
Dean Koontz’s (is that proper, “Koontz’s?”…anyways) writing is witty, sarcastic when needed, and enrapturing.  I honestly looked for reasons to be in the car, just so I could hear a few more minutes of Life Expectancy!  When I finished the last disc, and realized that I didn’t have anything to listen to, I looked at the stereo controls in the Tribute, and said out loud (to myself), “Aww man, I have to listen to the radio!”  Disappointment made my commute a total drag.
After listening to this book I have come to two conclusions: 1. my insane fear of clowns is totally justified & 2. not haven taken my kids to the circus yet is totally ok.  In all seriousness, though, the level of crazy of these circus folk in the book was one that I had not experienced in a book before.  And I don’t mean medication-can-fix-it-crazy, but certifiable-institutionalized-padded-room crazy.
Which leads me to my not-so-great part of the book review:  the five terrible days Grandpa Joseph predicted, were ALL relating to these clowns, literally.  Sounds lame, right?  It kinda was, until the action started, and then I was like “holy freaking crap that just happened!”  Less the redundant predictability of who the villain was, this was a enthralling audiobook!  The ending was pretty great, though a little cheesy.
5 Stars: read it, listen to it, whatever, but you must get your hands on this book!
Many Adventures,