B&D is no more!

I've joined the dark side! [aka my wife's blog]

To continue reading my reviews, please visit

Bending the Spine

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Follow Friday (2)


Q. ACK! Your favorite book/movie character (example Hermione Granger played by the Emma chick) just walked into the room! Who is it and what would be your first reaction? You get extra points if you include visual stimulation.


A: This is a hard one because I’m not one to normally have a favorite character.  I don’t reread books, I pass them on.  I know it sounds lame, but it’s just who I am. 


Though, in the spirit of of the blog hop, I thought long and hard (well, does 15 minutes count as long and hard?) about this, and here’s what I came up with: Jessica Fletcher (played by Angela Lansbury).  Go ahead andimage laugh, I know you want to, but Murder, She Wrote is one of my all-time favorite shows.  Jessica was spunky, persistent, and she always solved the crime.


If she walked into the room, I would probably try to wake myself up, ‘cause I know I’d be dreaming. 


So, who’s yours?


Many Adventures,



*Follow Friday is a blog hop hosted by Parajunkee*

Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. And a strange collection of very curious photographs. It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children who once lived here—one of whom was his own grandfather—were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a desolate island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.

Hardcover, 352 pages
Published June 7th 2011 by Quirk Books
ISBN: 1594744769 (ISBN13: 9781594744761)
When an author has an awesome name like “Ransom,” you expect great things.  Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children did not disappoint!  For one thing, the book is just beautiful!  The chapter headers, the layout, even the texture of the pages.   I was instantly drawn to this book by the cover and title.  Read the description, and was hooked!  I borrowed the book from Kelly at Bending the Spine, and will be buying my own copy in the next couple weeks!  This is a nearly perfect book!

The use of he vintage photographs added to the story, gave it almost a surreal effect—instead of merely experiencing it as an outsider, I felt like I was there with Jacob, learning as he learned.   Riggs is a fantastic storyteller.  To realize that the book was written around some of the photographs was a strange feeling.  They had to have been taken after Ransom Riggs had written the book, right?  They fit so perfectly.  Nothing was forced or contrived—the photos felt like a natural extension of the book.  Mr. Riggs is genius!
I could NOT put this book down, reading snippets whenever I had a few free minutes, then staying up practically all night to finish it!  The story is gripping, compelling the reader forward at a frenzied pace just to know what happens next.  There were so many twists, I almost couldn’t keep up!  The predictability was minimal—it would feel like something bad was about to happen, then not, and sometimes bad things happened I wasn’t expecting.  Inconsequential characters make a huge different in this story, something that I was surprised about.  This book is meant to be devoured in as few reading-sessions as possible!
I’m not big on science, so I don’t really understand some of the “how this works” of the story, but it’s good that I didn’t need to know, I just needed to trust that it worked.  Riggs didn’t dwell on unnecessary details or go into too much scientific babble—things just are the way they are, all we as readers need to do is trust that that is how they worked.  And, it is believable, so I had no problems doing that.  I appreciate that Riggs didn’t try to create how-this-is-real-because-I-did-scientific-research-and-used-big-words (as some sci-fi books I’ve read heave on other topics, not that this is sci-fi, it is more paranormal sci-fi if I had to categorize it) theory of **SPOILER ALERT** time travel.  It wasn’t all about the time travel, that was just one small part of the story.  Thank you, Mr. Riggs, for not making me feel like an idiot.
My one issue (yes, there usually is at least one) is the ending.  Notice a theme to my reviews, yet?  Endings to a book are important to me.  I like to feel satisfied, like having just eaten a large amount of comfort food and settling into a  corner of the sofa for a nap.  Well, as seems to be the trend with movies and books lately, the ending is left open.  Is there a sequel on the horizon?  The way the book ends, I suspect there is, but couldn’t find evidence to support my theory.  Which doesn’t entirely disappoint me, because I want more of the Peculiar Children; the portion that is disappointed needed more closure.  It was a poignant ending, beautiful in the words alone that were used, leaving a lasting impression with the use of a photograph.
There are some great posts about Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children at Ransom Riggs’s blog here.  Also, 20th Century Fox bought the movie rights!
5 Stars: I devoured this book like a hollowgast would a peculiar child.  Great work, Mr. Riggs!
Many Adventures,

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (1)

WoW is a weekly blog-hop hosted by Breaking the Spine that features books we are eagerly awaiting!

wow This is my first WoW!  Woot woot!

I am very much looking forward to City of Lost Souls in the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare.  All I could find is a teaser cover…and even the tag line, “Can the lost be reclaimed?” has me desperate to read up to, and anxiously wait for it!

Why, you ask, am I waiting on this book?  Well, I love this series.  I have only read City of Bones (book 1), but I am totally hooked, have bought book 2 and 4 (need to get 3) and CANNOT wait to read everything this series has to offer.  Obsessed? Maybe a little.  But a little crazy is good, right?

What are you waiting for?

Many Adventures,

In Book 5: City of Lost Souls, the Shadowhunters struggle to piece together their shattered world after a betrayal by one of their own leaves them reeling.

Expected publication: May 2012 by Margaret K. McElderry
primary language: English
url: http://www.mortalinstruments.com/mortalseries.html

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Early Review: Girl vs. Ghost by Kate McMurry & Marie August

image Description:
Girl vs Ghost is a young-adult, paranormal, romantic comedy suitable for all ages.

Isabel Lindley doesn’t believe in magic, but her best friend is obsessed with witchcraft. Strictly as a favor, Isabel agrees to help with a spell and is shocked when the ghost of a teenage boy splat-lands in her bedroom. Her friend is thrilled—even though only Isabel can see or hear the ghost—but Isabel is horrified. She’s the most ordinary sixteen-year-old girl on the planet. What is she supposed to do with a ghost who doesn’t know his own name, how he died, or why the heck he’s tied to Isabel with a psychic chain? Her only hope to take back her life is to help him solve the mystery of his demise so he can go to the Light. Or wherever. She’s not particular, as long as the ghost is gone.

Paperback, 242 pages
Published April 10th 2011 by Blazing Star Press
ISBN 1613400004 (ISBN13: 9781613400005)
primary language: English
url: http://www.misdirectedmagic.com/
series: Misdirected Magic Trilogy #1
I am going to preface this review by saying that this is not my genre of book to read.  Yes, I have read the Twilight Saga.  Yes, I have read other YA paranormal romance/comedy (Kim Harrison’s Madison Avery Series books 1 & 2).  I have mixed feelings about “the” saga, and Harrison’s, well, they were ok, if you like that sort of thing.  And that’s where I’m at here.  Girl vs. Ghost is not my sort of thing.
HOWEVER (!!!), that being said, this book is entertaining.  The premise is good, the writing is easy on the brain, and the story is fast paced.
It was frustrating to me that Isabel allowed Tripp use her as a doormat.  She’s supposed to be brain-smart, but lacks any common-sense whatsoever and follows Tripp into her fad-of-the-month.  Isabel needs to think for herself—she’s not a mindless drone.  Remember the anti-drug campaign from the ‘80s and ‘90s?  Isabel wouldn’t, she’s too young, so here it is: “Just say no!”  Grow a backbone and make that your slogan, Isabel.
Tripp is selfish and aloof to what her antics cost her friend.  It takes Parker to point out that it is her fault they’re all in this predicament (and he’s been trying since his first entrance to get her to understand) and she finally gets it—well, almost.  Her flippant attitude becomes tiresome and I wanted to scream at Isabel to wake up and find a real friend, one who thinks about her before asking her to join in on the next fad.  She is a liar and a fake.  Even at the end, she’s more pleased with herself than that Isabel and Marc were ok.  And I hate her.  Several times all I wanted was for her to get hit by a bus—a big, shiny bus full of cosmic karma for all the pain and suffering she was causing EVERYONE around her.  In my eyes, her heroics do not redeem her.  Cue big shiny bus.
I think that individually, Tripp and Isabel are half characters, but if you combine them they become one awesome character—Tripabel.  As Rebecca, my wife, put it: they need each other.  And maybe, that’s why the book works, because they just work as Tripabel.
We don’t get a good idea of who Marc really is.  I guess that the other books in the series (slated to be published in Nov. 2011 and May 2012, more here) will delve into his character more.  I did like the soul-mate aspect, and appreciate that Tripp was trying to help her friend find love when they cast the first spell.  The same is true about Parker.  From the few sentences I’ve read of Witches vs. Wizards though, the story picks up right where Girl vs. Ghost left off, so I imagine they will get more depth as the series continues.
Perhaps the most unfortunate parts of this entire experience are the cover art, illustrations, and title.  The art is juvenile, unnecessary, and the pre-chapter illustrations give away the plot before you get there.  Cover art attracts me to a book, and this is one I would have passed on, based on the cover alone.  And the title is frankly, a little lame and only somewhat applies to the book.  Isabel is only “versus” the ghost for a short period of the book before switching her opinion of him and trying to help him.  Marc was more of an inconvenience than an enemy.
WARNING TO PARENTS: This book contains A LOT of unnecessary cussing, illusion to cussing, and cussing in Spanish.  There is also an attempted sexual assault.
4 Stars: A pretty good read for an escape from reality.
Many Adventures,

*This pre-release was provided by the authors*

Monday, June 27, 2011

Free Audiobooks? Yes, sir!

image Having just recently (as in last week…my 1.5 hour daily commute just got a whole lot more interesting!) discovered the amazing world of audiobooks, I found it funny that my friend Jennie over at Random Chalk Talk has this as today’s post.  Free downloads of current YA audiobooks paired with a classic/summer read will be available for download two at a time over the next few weeks.  This week’s pair is Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater and Romeo and Juliet by Williams Shakespeare.

Check out Jennie's blog and then check out SYNC for the free download.

This is just too good to pass up!  Swoot!

Many Adventures,

Friday, June 24, 2011

Follow Friday (1)

I’m losing my Follow Friday virginity!

This week’s question is:

Q. In light of the Summer Solstice. Also known as Midsummer...let's talk about fairies. What is your favorite fairy tale or story that revolves around the fae?

A: I am a huge fan of Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series.  I have only read book 1 (City of Bones), but CANNOT wait until I get to all the others!

Many Adventures,

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

Review: Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules by Jeff Kinney

Secrets have a way of getting out, especially when a diary is involved.

Whatever you do, don’t ask Greg Heffley how he spent his summer vacation, because he definitely doesn’t want to talk about it.

As Greg enters the new school year, he’s eager to put the past three months behind him . . . and one event in particular.
Unfortunately for Greg, his older brother, Rodrick, knows all about the incident Greg wants to keep under wraps. But secrets have a way of getting out . . . especially when a diary is involved.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules chronicles Greg’s attempts to navigate the hazards of middle school, impress the girls, steer clear of the school talent show, and most important, keep his secret safe.

Paperback, 217 pages
Published January 1st 2008 by Amulet Books
ISBN: 0810995522 (ISBN13: 9780810995529)
primary language: English
series:  Diary of a Wimpy Kid
The cheese-touch returns!  As is true for book 1 in the series, Jeff Kinney creates a hilarious plot line , colorful characters, and the crazy situations that only Greg Heffley can get himself into.
Kinney did NOT disappoint with the second installment.  It’s just as creative, original, and side-splittingly entertaining as the first.  It’s hard to figure out what to say about this book, mostly because it is just so GREAT!  The secret that Rodrick has help over Greg for the entire book is awesome!  I was so excited how things turned out for Greg and Rodrick.

If only my middle school years could have been so much fun!
A great, easy middle-grade read!
5 Stars: So excited to read book 3!
Many Adventures,

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Review: The Family Bones by Kimberly Raiser

A New Home, A Loving Family, A Dark Secret
Will they stay? Will they survive? The Weavers have inherited family property in Astral, Pennsylvania, a town so small that Mrs. Weaver can find no mention of it on the Internet, save for a tiny spot on Google Earth. Hoping for a simpler, small-town existence for their young family, Steven and Tara eagerly head to Astral to see what they hope will be their dream house. As they explore their potential new home, the Weavers begin to discover secret passageways, secret rooms, and long buried family truths; some difficult truths are revealed and no longer kept in the far reaches of the closet. There are reasons for everything, and sometimes the explanations are so simple. But sometimes, simple can also be horrifying.
ebook, 190 pages
Published (first published October 22nd 2008)
I LOVE me some dark family history, a little bit of horror, and a whole lot of mystery.  I found The Family Bones as a free download on Goodreads.  Was intrigued.  Read it (obviously).  Still not quite sure how I feel about it.  The description of this book was WAY off, and the cover--completely irrelevant to the story.
It starts off as a great horror movie would.  Strange house, scary basement, creepy attic.  But, slowly spirals to a sci-fi thriller.  I would have liked it better if it would have stayed horrific.  Not that I can’t appreciate the sci-fi genre, it just felt that The Family Bones was too much in the middle to be either genre.  It lacked theme.
Raiser’s plot is good.  The action is adequate.  The writing style is disjointed, hard to follow most of the time, and did I mention hard to follow?  She used a lot of words, I mean there were WAY too many, and the writing was bland.  There coulda/shoulda been much more color.  I was expecting a short, quick, scare-my-socks-off kind of read.  What I got was a book (I guess it’s a book, and not a short story) that was difficult to read, I got easily distracted from, and had to force myself to finish.
I don’t want to give too much away, but Sara is my hero!  Love her!  Steven gets what he deserves.  And all live happily ever after.  Well, we have to assume they do since there is really NO ENDING!  It just stops.  Hmmm, FINALLY run out of words, Ms. Raiser?
1 Star: Leave it in the dusty box in the creepy basement.
Many Adventures,

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Early Review: Very Bad Men by Harry Dolan

image Description:
David Loogan returns! Loogan is living in Ann Arbor with Detective Elizabeth Waishkey and her daughter, Sarah. He's settled into a quiet routine as editor of the mystery magazine Gray Streets-until one day he finds a manuscript outside his door. It begins: "I killed Henry Kormoran."
Anthony Lark has a list of names-Terry Dawtrey, Sutton Bell, Henry Kormoran. To his eyes, the names glow red on the page. They move. They breathe. The people on the list have little in common except that seventeen years ago they were involved in a notorious robbery. And now Anthony Lark is hunting them down, and he won't stop until every one of them is dead.
Hardcover, 432 pages
Expected publication: July 7th 2011 by Penguin Group (USA)
ISBN 0399157492 (ISBN13: 9780399157493)
primary language: English
series: David Loogan
Holy freaking crap this is a good book! 

Now, I should start out by saying that this is book #2 in the “David Loogan” series.  I did not read book #1 yet (Bad Things Happen), and do not feel cheated having not read it.  Harry Dolan introduces the characters to you as if this were the first book in the series, but in such a way that if you  had read book #1, you wouldn’t feel as though he is writing down to you, as if you couldn’t remember who the main characters are.  It’s like a refresher coarse on who’s who in the book.

Harry Dolan has colorful characters that I were instantly drawn to.  I saw through David Loogan’s eyes, thought with Elizabeth Waishkey’s detective’s intellect, felt the pain of Nick Dawtrey.  I even felt the manic-ness of Anthony Lark.

Mystery/suspense/crime novels are my forte.  I enjoy them, I devour them, I crave more of them.  They typically follow the same pattern: crime committed, lead-character-hero solves the case, bad guy is caught, all is well and good in the city.  Dolan wrote this book NOTHING like that, and (I guess this won’t come across as weird) love him for it.  We know the who, we know the what, but we are all trying to figure out the why.  I became frustrated at times when David and Elizabeth couldn’t figure it out, but I knew more than they did because Dolan gave me (and you, too, because you better read this book!) more perspective—you will read the story from many points of view.  Yes, it can become a lot to track, but you’ll catch on quick enough.

There are times toward the beginning of the novel that things move a little slow.  Trust me, keep reading!  Once the basics are established, Dolan moves the story quickly, not frenzied, but at a pace swift enough that I lost all sense of time and space and read into the wee hours of the night to finish Very Bad Men.

I am a HUGE fan of Murder, She Wrote starring Angela Lansbury.  You may recall that her character’s name is Jessica Fletcher.  David’s nom de plume’s last name is “Fletcher.”  Coincidence?  Maybe, but I suggest that Dolan is a fan of irony.  For example, the same officer, Fielder, making several appearances throughout the book.  The writing is witty, introspective at times, clever, and entertaining.  Dolan’s second edition in the “David Loogan” series is a smashing success!

I cannot wait to find and read the first entry in the series, and hopefully more will follow Very Bad Men.  Mr. Dolan, please write more!

5 Stars: Very Bad Men is a very good book—don’t second guess yourself, just read the freakin’ book!

Many Adventures,

*This prerelease was provided to me by the publishers through a giveaway on Goodreads*

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Review: The Strange Case of Finley Jayne by Kady Cross

Finley Jayne knows she's not 'normal'. Normal girls don't lose time, or have something inside them that makes them capable of remarkably violent things. Her behavior has already cost her one job, so when she's offered the lofty position of companion to Phoebe, a debutante recently engaged to Lord Vincent, she accepts, despite having no experience. Lord Vincent is a man of science with his automatons and inventions, but Finley is suspicious of his motives where Phoebe is concerned. She will do anything to protect her new friend, but what she discovers is even more monstrous than anything she could have imagined…
An ebook exclusive prequel to The Steampunk Chronicles.

ebook, 78 pages
Published May 1st 2011 by Harlequin Enterprises
ISBN 145920414X (ISBN13: 9781459204140)
primary language: English
series: Steampunk Chronicles 0.5
“Steampunk” was a term that I had never heard before my wife, Rebecca (check out her blog here), introduced me to it.  Knowing what it is, I realized that Cassandra Clare’s works (I LOVED City of Bones) are in this same genre.  I was excited to find this as a free download (HOLLA!)  through Sony’s ebook store—partially because it would introduce me to Kady Cross and let me know if I would want to read The Girl in the Steel Corset or not, and partially because IT WAS FREE!!!
I must say that I felt like I was reading a novel by Jane Austen, if she wasn't dead and writing books in 2011.  Whether or not it was on purpose I cannot say, but Cross even used “Bennet” as Finley’s pseudonym.  I had to chuckle to myself about the shout-out to Ms. Austen.  Now, mind you, that I have never read anything by Austen, unless you count Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (which I didn’t even get half-way through before becoming overly bored and not finishing), so I am basing my comparison between Cross and Austen on the Pride and Prejudice movie with Keira Knightly, which my wife has made we watch numerous times with her (and is like her favorite movie of all time).
Cross entertained me—there was humor, there was intrigue, there was silly little teenage girl drama.  The “thing” that lives inside Finley Jayne, the darkness, or whatever, became a bit of a redundant theme, and somewhat of a drag, but I like that Cross made Finley get over herself and do what she needed to do, to let her manic side take over and accomplish great things.  The fast friendship between Finley and Phoebe was great, and even more so was the relationship between Lady Morton and Finley.
This was a short very rapid introduction, but definitely worth the read.  I look forward to continuing the series, and hope that we see more of Lady Morton and Phoebe.
5 Stars: Finley is awesome!
Many Adventures,

Friday, June 10, 2011

Early Review: Ultraviolet by RJ Anderson

"Once upon a time there was a girl who was special. This is not her story. Unless you count the part where I killed her."

Sixteen-year-old Alison wakes up in a mental institution. As she pieces her memory back together, she realizes she’s confessed to murdering Tori Beaugrand, the most perfect girl at school. But the case is a mystery. Tori's body has not been found, and Alison can't explain what happened. One minute she was fighting with Tori. The next moment Tori disintegrated—into nothing.

But that's impossible. No one is capable of making someone vanish. Right? Alison must be losing her mind—like her mother always feared she would.

For years Alison has tried to keep her weird sensory abilities a secret. No one ever understood—until a mysterious visiting scientist takes an interest in Alison's case. Suddenly, Alison discovers that the world is wrong about her—and that she’s capable of far more than anyone else would believe.

Hardcover, 304 pages
Expected publication: September 1st 2011 by Carolrhoda Books (first published February 6th 2011)
ISBN 0761374086 (ISBN13: 9780761374084)
primary language: English

I was very much intrigued by the description of this book.  I didn’t read anyone’s reviews of the book, nor put much thought into selecting this for review—I just HAD to read it!  And, unfortunately, I wasted my time.

From the moment I began reading, I was hooked.  The vivid descriptions, the word-pictures all had and held my attention.  The teenage angst wasn’t even too bothersome and actually added to the story, instead of detract from it.  I wanted to know what happened to Tori and why Alison was institutionalized.  With an unusual cast of characters at Pine Hills, Alison begins to cope with her unusual sensory-acuteness.

Then enters Dr. Sebastian Faraday.  I don’t know if anyone else saw this, but (and maybe in Toronto Lost did not air), Faraday was one of the characters.  I felt maybe this was ironic and unfortunate, but saw many of the scenarios in the book similar to Faraday-plot on the show.  I wanted to like him, but had to hate him.  I knew right away that he was up to no good, I just had to keep reading to prove it.  I was right and wrong.  And I’m not going to talk anymore about it, because it will ruin the story if you decide to read Ultraviolet.  Even though, I am going to go ahead and tell you now, don’t.

RJ Anderson had a great story, all the makings of a great mystery for the first 200ish pages.  But it went downhill real quick.  At one point, I put my laptop down, turned to my beautiful wife and said, “I hate this book.”  I finished reading it just so I could do this review.  And honestly, should have reviewed it without reading the last third of the book—my review would have been MUCH more glowing.  It sucked that bad.  It would have been a much better story if Anderson had quit writing at page 220 and started over from there.  Ultraviolet has the absolute worst ending of any book I have read this year, and maybe even ever.  It is disconnected from the rest of the story like a movie who’s big twist hits you out of left field, but this is SO far out of left field that it obliterated the plot and left me bewildered and slightly confused.

1.5 Stars: Not quite an epic fail, but not too far from it.

Many Adventures,

*This pre-release was provided to my by the publishers trough netGalley*

Monday, June 6, 2011

Early Review: Ashfall by Mike Mullin

Ashfall (Ashfall, #1)
Under the bubbling hot springs and geysers of Yellowstone National Park is a supervolcano. Most people don't know it's there. The caldera is so large that it can only be seen from a plane or satellite. It just could be overdue for an eruption, which would change the landscape and climate of our planet.
Ashfall is the story of Alex, a teenage boy left alone for the weekend while his parents visit relatives. When the Yellowstone supervolcano erupts unexpectedly, Alex is determined to reach his parents. He must travel over a hundred miles in a landscape transformed by a foot of ash and the destruction of every modern convenience that he has ever known, and through a new world in which disaster has brought out both the best and worst in people desperate for food, water, and warmth. With a combination of nonstop action, a little romance, and very real science, this is a story that is difficult to stop reading and even more difficult to forget.
Hardcover, 466 pages
Expected publication: October 11th 2011 by Tanglewood Press
ISBN13: 9781933718552
primary language: English
url: http://www.ashfallbook.com/
series: Ashfall #1
I don’t know where to begin with the review for this novel.  From my experience, an author’s first novel is not always his best.  Ashfall  by Mike Mullin is one of the few exceptions to this rule.  I have been completely blown away by this story.  I devoured this book, reading the mammoth 466 pages in just a couple of days.  I could not put it down!  Mullins writing style is reminiscent of Rick Riordan’s.  If you enjoy Riordan’s style, you will definitely enjoy Ashfall.

Alex is a typical teen and the right attitudes and undercurrents of parental-hostility and resentment are present.  Darla is a little more of a caricature, but not so far in left field to be unrealistic.  I instantly loved Mrs. Edmonds and Darla.  The other characters introduced throughout the story were colorful in their own rights, but realistic and believable at the same time.

On of my favorite parts of the first half of the book is when Alex and his friend Spork are invited to join a classmate’s church as they leave the wasteland that became the hometown of Cedar Falls.  I won’t give too much away, but I laughed out loud as this.

The book is action-packed from cover to cover and moved at a good pace.  I didn’t feel that the story was too long until the end, but I’ll save that critique for a little later.  It read as if you were experiencing the story as Alex, his thoughts became your thoughts, his pain your pain, his tears your tears.  There were, however, a few sections that felt rushed, to the point that I was sure that I had missed something and had to reread the section again.  It felt like there were gaps in places.  But, nonetheless it flowed  and never left me bored.

Now lets talk about my least favorite part of the book.  The ending.  I am usually let down in the end.  I most often feel slighted and that the author does not do their characters or their story justice.  Mullin strayed from this, but only in the fact that he droned on and on.  Several of the chapters toward the end of the book felt like fluff, to make the reader want to run out and wait (since it won’t be published until 2012) on the second installment in the series (I didn’t even realize this was a series until I read all the way through the end of my copy).  Shame on you editors!  A stand-alone with a sequel would have given the story much better integrity.  I didn’t crave a happily-ever-after ending, just one that brought closure.  Instead, you left it open.

All in all, this is a first rate novel from a first rate author.  Read it!

5 Stars: as much as is pains me to say this, I cannot wait until the sequel, Ashen Winter, is available in 2012!

Many Adventures,

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

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Early Review: Calling Mr. King by Ronald De Feo

Calling Mr. KingDescription:
Long considered cool, distant, and absolutely reliable, an American-born hit man, working throughout Europe, grows increasingly distracted and begins to develop an unexpected passion for architecture and art while engaged in his deadly profession. Although he welcomes this energizing break from his routine, he comes to realize that it is an unwise trajectory for a man in his business, particularly when he is sent on the most difficult job of his career.

Set in London, Paris, New York, and Barcelona, Calling Mr. King is at once a colorful suspense tale, laced with dark humor, and a psychological self-portrait of a character who is attempting, against the odds, to become someone else.

This is De Feo's first novel. (Goodreads)

Paperback, 320 pages
Expected publication: August 30th 2011 by Other Press
ISBN 1590514750 (ISBN13: 9781590514757)
Primary Language: English

The description of this book immediately caught my attention.  I was drawn to the suspense and mystery, and in the end was let down.  Ronald De Feo attempted great things, but fell far short.  What could have been an intriguing, hit-man-meets-midlife-crisis, actually is a monologue rant, a telling of mostly past events from the the increasingly manic main character’s point of view.  Maybe I expected things about this that the book just couldn’t deliver.

I like that we don’t know much about the hit man, we don’t know how old he is, what time period we are in, or even what his name is.  We do know that he answers to “Mr. King.”  I like that we find out bits and pieces of his history as the story unfolds.  It’s like being an investigative reporter, sitting down with a former hit man, and interviewing him about his life.  Sure he rambles, gets lost in his own rants and raves, gives in to manic episodes, but completely keeps your attention the entire time you are reading.
I am somewhat of a techie, just shy of being a tech-geek.  And, though I haven’t quite figured out what era the story takes place in, I was left confused regarding why there was no cell phones, no GPS, etc.  Payphones…really?  And what’s the deal with the Walkmans?  For a book to be published and released in 2011, we were severely lacking in current tech.  Just replacing the Walkman with an MP3 player or iPod would have drastically updated the tale.

I did not like the ending.  I feel cheated, deprived of the outcome.  I need more, Mr. De Feo, resolution.  Not necessarily a happily-ever-after, but something.  I am left to wonder, to draw my own conclusions about the ending.

3 Stars: Can’t really decide if i like it or not.

Many Adventures,

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