Book Review: Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, Read by Kevin Collins

Beautiful Creatures

From Goodreads.com:

Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she’s struggling to conceal her power and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps, and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.

Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town’s oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.

In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything….

My Thoughts on the Matter:

Possible Spoiler Alert!

First, this is an audiobook, so I “listened to” it rather than “read” it.  With audiobooks, the narrator can often make or break a book.  In this case the narrator is fantastic, so good job choosing him.

Speaking of ‘him,’ I hit the end of this book in the middle of my commute one day and wasn’t sure I had the next one in the series downloaded and ready to go.  Consequently, I ended up listening to the first part of an interview with the authors that was tacked on to the end of the audiobook.

The first thing the interviewer focused on was the fact that, unlike much of YA these days, our book is written from a boy’s point of view instead of a girl’s point of view.  This point of the interview caught my attention, because it was something that had not occurred to me once during my “listen” of the book.  I say this as a compliment to the authors.  This was done so well that I Did Not notice it as being out of the norm, and it Did Not interfere with the story drawing me in, which it most certainly did.

Also, the authors have written a very smart book, bringing new and clever language to the age-old themes of good vs. evil and human vs. non-human (or not-entirely-human).  I love the names they give to categories of creatures.  They’re creative and make sense at the same time.

The story takes you where you want it to go, sometimes, and skillfully exposes new information along the way, keeping the reader interested without straying from the realm of (created) possibility.  It seemed to me one plot line in the book could only end one way, but it didn’t – I totally didn’t see this end coming, and it beautifully leads into the rest of the series.

I have to tell you when I hit the end of this book in the middle of my commute and realized I’d not downloaded the next one so I could go directly to it “without passing ‘go’,” so to speak, I was Pissed!  That’s how much it sucked me in…highly recommended!

This book has been reviewed for the 2013 Audio Book Challenge (and added to its page).  It is owned by me, was acquired from Audible.com, and cost $4.95.

Copyright Ridingthebcrollercoaster.com 2012-2013 All Rights Reserved.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – January 14, 2013

It's Monday What Are You Reading

The It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? meme is hosted at Book Journey.

*****

Analog (dead tree version), at home:

Girl in the Glass

From Goodreads:

Since she was a child, Meg has dreamed of taking a promised trip to Florence, Italy, and being able to finally step into the place captured in a picture at her grandmother’s house. But after her grandmother passes away and it falls to her less-than-reliable father to take her instead, Meg’s long-anticipated travel plans seem permanently on hold.

When her dad finally tells Meg to book the trip, she prays that the experience will heal the fissures left on her life by her parents’ divorce. But when Meg arrives in Florence, her father is nowhere to be found, leaving aspiring memoir-writer Sophia Borelli to introduce Meg to the rich beauty of the ancient city. Sofia claims to be one of the last surviving members of the Medici family and that a long-ago Medici princess, Nora Orsini, communicates with her from within the great masterpieces of the Italian Renaissance.

When Sophia, Meg, and Nora’s stories intersect, their lives will be indelibly changed as they each answer the question: What if renaissance isn’t just a word? What if that’s what happens when you dare to believe that what is isn’t what has to be?

So I’m reading this at home, but it’s been sitting for a few days.  It may or may not make it.  We’ll see.

*****

Digital (on my Kindle), anywhere I want:

The Queen Gene

From Goodreads:

Lucy’s friends have always told her how lucky she is to have a mother like Anjoli. But as much as Lucy adores her theater-savvy, melodramatic mom…well, some relationships just work better at a distance, even if Anjoli still calls ten times a day to say, “Darling, I’m in crisis!” Lucy’s got crises enough of her own, including trying to keep her marriage hot with a two-year-old underfoot, babysitting the artists in residence at her Berkshires artists’ colony, resisting her attraction to a drop-dead-sexy man, and trying to rid her 100-year-old home of ghosts. Lucy’s about ready to start living her life on her own terms, and mother-daughter relations will never be the same again…

*****

Digital (Audiobook) through the iphone, in the car:

Long Gone

From Goodreads:

After a layoff and months of struggling, Alice Humphrey finally lands her dream job managing a new art gallery in Manhattan’s trendy Meatpacking District.

According to Drew Campbell, the well-suited corporate representative who hires her, the gallery is a passion project for its anonymous, wealthy, and eccentric owner. Drew assures Alice that the owner will be hands off, allowing her to run the gallery on her own. Her friends think it sounds too good to be true, but Alice sees a perfect opportunity to make a name for herself beyond the shadow of her famous father, an award-winning and controversial film maker.

Everything is perfect until the morning Alice arrives at work to find the gallery gone–the space stripped bare as if it had never existed–and Drew Campbell’s dead body on the floor. Overnight, Alice’s dream job has vanished, and she finds herself at the center of police attention with nothing to prove her innocence. The phone number Drew gave her links back to a disposable phone.

The artist whose work she displayed doesn’t seem to exist. And the dead man she claims is Drew has been identified as someone else.

When police discover ties between the gallery and a missing girl, Alice knows she’s been set up. Now she has to prove it–a dangerous search for answers that will entangle her in a dark, high-tech criminal conspiracy and force her to unearth long-hidden secrets involving her own family . . . secrets that could cost Alice her life.

Waiting in the wings (i.e., bought at Audible.com and living on my iPhone) is the rest of the Caster Chronicles series:

–  Beautiful Darkness
Dream Dark
Beautiful Chaos
Beautiful Redemption

Ya, I was gonna go straight from #1 on down the series.  But I got into the car this morning and realized I hadn’t downloaded it anywhere – not to the Music App on the iPhone Nor into the Audible App, and without wi-fi that just takes too damn long and sometimes just won’t happen at all.  So, I’m listening to “Long Gone” instead, and will get back to the Caster Chronicles after that.

Copyright Ridingthebcrollercoaster.com 2012-2013 All Rights Reserved

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – January 7, 2013

It's Monday What Are You Reading

The It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? meme is hosted at Book Journey.

*****

Analog (dead tree version), at home:

The Marriage Plot

From Goodreads:

Are the great love stories of the nineteenth century dead? Or can there be a new story, written for today and alive to the realities of feminism, sexual freedom, prenups, and divorce? It’s the early 1980s. In American colleges, the wised-up kids are inhaling Derrida and listening to Talking Heads. But Madeleine Hanna, dutiful English major, is writing her senior thesis on Jane Austen and George Eliot, purveyors of the marriage plot that lies at the heart of the greatest English novels. As Madeleine studies the age-old motivations of the human heart, real life, in the form of two very different guys, intervenes—the charismatic and intense Leonard Bankhead, and her old friend the mystically inclined Mitchell Grammaticus. As all three of them face life in the real world they will have to reevaluate everything they have learned. Jeffrey Eugenides creates a new kind of contemporary love story in “his most powerful novel yet” (Newsweek).

So I loved Middlesex by the same author.  Mom was reading this for her book group.  I figured since I loved one, I’d love the other.  I’m about 80 pages in to this one and I keep putting it down.  I’ve found some passages I’ve highlighted (see upcoming Book Excerpts post containing same), but I think this one’s going on the Abandoned Shelf.  We’ll see if you ever see a review of this one (this will be the review of it unless I finish it).

*****

Analog (dead tree version), also at home:

Girl in the Glass

From Goodreads:

Since she was a child, Meg has dreamed of taking a promised trip to Florence, Italy, and being able to finally step into the place captured in a picture at her grandmother’s house. But after her grandmother passes away and it falls to her less-than-reliable father to take her instead, Meg’s long-anticipated travel plans seem permanently on hold.

When her dad finally tells Meg to book the trip, she prays that the experience will heal the fissures left on her life by her parents’ divorce. But when Meg arrives in Florence, her father is nowhere to be found, leaving aspiring memoir-writer Sophia Borelli to introduce Meg to the rich beauty of the ancient city. Sofia claims to be one of the last surviving members of the Medici family and that a long-ago Medici princess, Nora Orsini, communicates with her from within the great masterpieces of the Italian Renaissance.

When Sophia, Meg, and Nora’s stories intersect, their lives will be indelibly changed as they each answer the question: What if renaissance isn’t just a word? What if that’s what happens when you dare to believe that what is isn’t what has to be?

*****

Digital (on my Kindle), anywhere I want:

Reinventing Mona

From Goodreads:

What’s new? Me, for starters…

It all began when my job offered me a buy-out package. That’s when the realization hit: I’m young, I’m rich (thanks to a hefty inheritance), and I’m boring. Not “needs a little zip” boring, either. More like “mustard stain on a Sears tweed couch” drab. French’s in a squeeze bottle, that’s me. But suddenly I have Grey Poupon aspirations! Things are gonna change-starting now…

Building a better mantrap…

First things first: Exercise. Carrot juice. Straight hair. Whiter teeth. Clothes that fit (I have breasts? Who knew?) But wait-there’s more. Life’s kicked me around a bit, and I’ve been nursing my wounds for too long. I’m finally ready to take a chance on love with the perfect guy. He’s handsome. He’s smart. He’s reliable. He’s my CPA. Problem is, I’m clueless about winning him over. It’s time to call in an expert. It’s time to call in The Dog.

Down, boy.

Mike “The Dog” Dougherty is a man’s man. A guy’s guy. Okay, he’s a chauvinist pig, and his sty is “The Dog House,” a testosterone-charged column in Maximum for Him magazine. On one hand, I abhor all he stands for. On the other hand, who better to coach me? So here I am. Learning the complex unspoken language of the American male (Talk, bad. Sex, good.); trying exciting new things (Stripping lessons are empowering. Really.); falling for Mike. Uh oh. But the Mike I’m getting to know is different from The Dog. And the Mona I’m becoming isn’t quite who I expected, either.

This whole makeover scheme is getting crazier by the minute. But “crazy” beats “boring”…right?

So far, this is a light, easy read – it was a Kindle freebie, so it’s the first one I’ll review for the “Why Buy The Cow Reading Challenge?”  It immediately (even before I downloaded it, let alone started reading it – just from reading a plot synopsis) struck me as a take-off on The Ugly Truth, which, for me, is a nice light, keep-you-company-while-doing -chores-around-the-house kinda movie, and I thought handled the expected boy-and-girl-opposites-find-each-other elements pretty well.  We’ll see how the book does on that score.

*****

Digital (Audiobook) through the iphone, in the car:

Beautiful Creatures

From Goodreads:

Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she’s struggling to conceal her power and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.

Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town’s oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.

In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.

Waiting in the wings (i.e., bought at Audible.com and living on my iPhone) is the rest of the series:

–  Beautiful Darkness
Dream Dark
Beautiful Chaos
Beautiful Redemption

Copyright Ridingthebcrollercoaster.com 2012-2013 All Rights Reserved.

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?

It's Monday What Are You Reading

The It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? meme is hosted at Book Journey.

*****

Analog (dead tree version), at home:

The Winter Palace

From Goodreads:

From award-winning author Eva Stachniak comes this passionate novel that illuminates, as only fiction can, the early life of one of history’s boldest women. The Winter Palace tells the epic story of Catherine the Great’s improbable rise to power—as seen through the ever-watchful eyes of an all-but-invisible servant close to the throne.

Her name is Barbara—in Russian, Varvara. Nimble-witted and attentive, she’s allowed into the employ of the Empress Elizabeth, amid the glitter and cruelty of the world’s most eminent court. Under the tutelage of Count Bestuzhev, Chancellor and spymaster, Varvara will be educated in skills from lock picking to lovemaking, learning above all else to listen—and to wait for opportunity. That opportunity arrives in a slender young princess from Zerbst named Sophie, a playful teenager destined to become the indomitable Catherine the Great. Sophie’s destiny at court is to marry the Empress’s nephew, but she has other, loftier, more dangerous ambitions, and she proves to be more guileful than she first appears.

What Sophie needs is an insider at court, a loyal pair of eyes and ears who knows the traps, the conspiracies, and the treacheries that surround her. Varvara will become Sophie’s confidante—and together the two young women will rise to the pinnacle of absolute power.

With dazzling details and intense drama, Eva Stachniak depicts Varvara’s secret alliance with Catherine as the princess grows into a legend—through an enforced marriage, illicit seductions, and, at last, the shocking coup to assume the throne of all of Russia.

Impeccably researched and magnificently written, The Winter Palace is an irresistible peek through the keyhole of one of history’s grandest tales.

*****

Digital (Audiobook) through the iphone, in the car:

The Crown

From Goodreads:

When novitiate Joanna Stafford learns her cousin is about to be burned at the stake for rebelling against Henry VIII, she flees Dartford Priory. But when she and her father are arrested, she finds herself a pawn in a deadly power struggle.

SNL (1975-1980, 1985-Present): November 22-25, 2012

Who gets the reference?

Thursday:

– coffee
– reading in bed
– breffast with Hubby
– napping
– off to Thanksgiving Dinner

[At the house of one of Mom’s best friends since they were in high school, whose house I grew up in with her 3 daughters as much as I did my own – therefore kinda my second mom growing up.  Only the eldest of 2ndMom’s daughters was at dinner.  There was an interesting moment in the kitchen as we were finishing the dishes for serving: 2ndMom is an 18-year breast cancer survivor, so we were casually sharing tumor size, location, stage, treatments, side effects to treatments – you know, generally the basic get-to-know-you conversation for those of us in the club.  Her daughter said,” We don’t have to compare.”  (I think all that deeper than surface conversation was making her uncomfortable.)  Without even thinking I said, “You don’t have to be here for it, but yes, we do.”

Another thing cancer has actually brought me is a new aspect to my relationship with 2ndMom.  Our relationship first changed when I grew up and we started to interact with each other as adults instead of adult & child.  I appreciated her more then as I could see more than just the surface aspects of her (which were not quite as overtly warm as I was used to).  Now, with the breast cancer, the relationship has changed again, become closer again.  We share something that we both hope her daughters never know about like we do.]

Friday:

– coffee
– reading in bed
– knitting in bed while Hubby naps
– quick something to eat
– napping while Hubby works on continuing to put our garage back together from when it had to be completely emptied just a month before my diagnosis because our garage doors would not function anymore, so needed to be replaced – thereby requiring us to completely empty the garage 12-15 feet back from the doors (including overhead racks the full width of both the double and single doors, and fully loaded shelves on each side wall from front to back, including everything those storage systems carried – fun)
– vaping with Hubby

[We happened to be watching a food show extolling the virtues of burgers around the nation.  As we had napped on opposite schedules, I doubt either of us had eaten much that day (we prefer to eat together, and both sometimes try to wait for the other) so we were both hungry.  Obviously we were having burgers for dinner.]

– dropping off dry cleaning with Hubby
– picking up burgers & fries for dinner with Hubby from a delicious local chain

[I know tomorrow is Small Business Saturday, but we practiced that today.]

– eating yummy dinner while watching Fringe marathon

Saturday:

– coffee (hm, pattern?  Oh yeah!)
– checking FB, surfing the net for chunky yarn hat knitting patterns
– blogging

– buying/downloading audiobooks
– emptied/loaded dishwasher
– did dishes
– cleaned out fridge
– ate lunch cooked by Hubby

[leftover Costco chicken breast/thigh/leg, shredded
3/4 can of green beans
1/4 cup chopped onions
3/4 can of corn
whole can of chopped tomatoes with juice

all sauteed in schmaltz from the cut-up chicken
with garlic powder
and served over brown rice with a sprinkling of parmesan cheese

Oh man, was it good!]

– blogged

– upgraded computer to Mountain Lion

[And it survived!  Yay!  Now I can re-engage Time Machine – my poor ‘puter hasn’t been backed up in over a month and I don’t like that at all.  So tonight it’ll do its first new backup.]

– blogged
– called Mom
– massage in my living room by Randy

[I lay there when we were done and it was a magical moment – I didn’t hurt at all!]

Sunday:

– blogging
– handling collected e-mail (filing, dealing with, etc.)
– brunch w/ Hubby at home while watching the Brazilian GP 2012

[Brunch was:

– smoked sausage
– parmesan and garlic coated potato wedges rescued from the freezer
– toast
– eggs scrambled with onions, cheese and basil

I’m not quite sure how we did it.  After a quick outing early Friday evening to drop off dry cleaning and pick up the hamburgers & fries that had to be our dinner, Hubby and I didn’t leave the house ’til Monday morning.  We also hadn’t done a serious grocery store run in quite a while, resulting in the fact that we kept running out of basic supplies, like, well, milk, in addition to other things we Always have around.  Yet, somehow we kept finding ways to have delicious, plentiful and dare-I-say-it relatively healthy meals all weekend!]

– vaping and hanging out with Hubby some more, while dealing with more email management

[One of my email accounts went from 800+ in my inbox (I Hate Not having empty inboxes) to 26!]

– actively, consciously and mutually (although I wouldn’t be surprised if Hubby gave it up to keep me happy) bailing on our previous notion of hitting the grocery store and filling the larder with all of Our Basics we were out of
– dinner w/ Hubby (fresh, premade shepherd’s pie w/ brussel sprouts in a light butter sauce) while watching the latest Castle

Copyright Ridingthebcrollercoaster.com 2012 All Rights Reserved.