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.

Advertisements

Book Review: Barefoot Season by Susan Mallery

Barefoot Season by Susan Mallery

From Goodreads.com:

Michelle Sanderson may appear to be a strong, independent woman, but on the inside, she’s still the wounded girl who fled home years ago. A young army vet, Michelle returns to the quaint Blackberry Island Inn to claim her inheritance and recover from the perils of war. Instead, she finds the owner’s suite occupied by the last person she wants to see.

Carly Williams and Michelle were once inseparable, until a shocking betrayal destroyed their friendship. And now Carly is implicated in the financial disaster lurking behind the inn’s cheerful veneer.

Single mother Carly has weathered rumors, lies and secrets for a lifetime, and is finally starting to move forward with love and life. But if the Blackberry Island Inn goes under, Carly and her daughter will go with it.

To save their livelihoods, Carly and Michelle will undertake a turbulent truce. It’ll take more than a successful season to move beyond their devastating past, but with a little luck and a beautiful summer, they may just rediscover the friendship of a lifetime.

My Thoughts on the Matter:

I read this book today.  Yes, in one day.  Overall I found it a nice, light, quick read.

Ms. Mallery skillfully takes the plot where I wanted it to go, with a few surprises along the way.  This is a book of a woman finding her way back to herself, to who she was but as she’s also been shaped by her life so far, along with those around her who affect and are affected by her journey.  Helping things along are some misconceptions that get cleared up, some moments of characters temporarily letting down their defensive walls, and the book ends up with plenty of happy endings to go around.

I found it interesting (and worth bookmarking to try even) that Ms. Mallery employs a method of including extra value in her book that I first saw used by Debbie Macomber (who has used both cooking and knitting recipes), by putting a couple of recipes that feature prominently in the story into the back of the book.  I may actually make her version of chicken salad and see what I think.

If you’re looking for some very well-done escapism with a deeper meaning if you’re in the frame of mind to see it, I definitely recommend this book.

Copyright Ridingthebcrollercoaster.com 2012-2013 All Rights Reserved.

Book Excerpts: Barefoot Season by Susan Mallery

*****

Barefoot Season by Susan Mallery

” . . . Once in the truck, she glanced at the house.  From the outside, it wasn’t much.  But to her it was everything she needed.  A place to retreat and lick her wounds.  Somewhere she didn’t have to pretend.  Sanctuary. . . .”

Thankfully, I have somewhere like that – my bed at home.  I’ve been spending a lot of time in it the last six months or so.  It’s a place I can go and shut the world out.  I’ve needed to do that for physical and emotional healing while I deal with the cancer and its effects on my body and mind – my life.  I’m glad it’s here for me, as I expect to need it off and on for quite a while yet.

” . . . “I’m sure her time in the army has changed her.”
Carly rinsed out the dishcloth and hung it over the sink.  “How do you know that?  You barely knew her before.”
“How could war not change someone?”

Right, so the current language is that a cancer patient “fights” the cancer.  ‘Nuff said.  Or if you don’t get what I’m saying from that, please see “Awakening.”

“She had to admit, looking better made her feel a little better.  More here rather than in some kind of emotional limbo.”

Emotional limbo – been there, know that place.  It’s not Always a bad place to be.  Sometimes it’s a way station for where one needs to go while necessary subsurface processing happens.

“. . .” You’re not stupid and you’re not alone.  We all do things that don’t make sense to other people.”

I’m sensing a theme here.  I like it.  I resemble that remark.

Copyright Ridingthebcrollercoaster.com 2012-2013 All Rights Reserved.

Book Review: Winter Sparrow by Estevan Vega

Winter Sparrow

From Goodreads.com:

“I’ll grow wings all by myself.”

Mary is a young artist about to enter a new chapter in her life. After years of waiting and searching, she has finally found true love. She’s also just discovered that her fiancé Joshua has inherited his father’s rundown countryside mansion. To add to the rising pressure, her wedding day is so close she can practically hear the music. All she has to do is accept what the future holds. Accept…and be happy.

But something’s missing.

As the seasons change, her doubts turn to fears, and her fears become reality. Through struggle and loss, the love she once possessed for Joshua transforms into contempt. When Mary is confronted with a magical escape, the life she has and the life she dreams of will collide, awakening a mysterious change within. But no choice comes without cost, and each one will draw her closer to the truth.

At times both beautiful and haunting, Winter Sparrow dares you to step into a world where eternity is a moment and every breath is a second chance. The fantasy begins….

My Thoughts on the Matter:

What strikes me right away, within the first couple of pages, in fact, is the elegance of the writing, how each sentence is packed with substantial information, drawing me in even before I really know what the book is about, and yet sending my mind spinning, trying to anticipate what’s coming next and excited to keep reading to see if I’m right or if I’ll be surprised.

And unfortunately, right after I jotted this down, things went south for me with this book.  I did finish it but I didn’t like it.

First, I found Mary to be a touch too neurotic, which made me think she and Joshua would not have gotten together in the first place.  Then I found Joshua a little manipulative and controlling.

I did like the middle a bit, where there seemed to be some magic at play.

And then it ended, abruptly, nastily and disjointedly.

I just can’t recommend this one, at all.

This book has been reviewed for the following Reading Challenges (and added to their respective pages).  It is owned by me, was acquired from Amazon.com (Kindle edition), and cost $0.00:

Monthly Key Word Challenge 2013
– 2013 Why Buy the Cow Reading Challenge
– 2013 Paranormal Reading Challenge  (Ghosts)
2013 Eclectic Reader Challenge (Romantic Suspense)

Copyright Ridingthebcrollercoaster.com 2012-2013 All Rights Reserved.

Book Excerpts: The Queen Gene by Jennifer Coburn

*****

The Queen Gene

” . . . “I need some time to digest everything you’ve said.”  I learned that dismissal years ago when a client said it to me.  At the time, I thought it was a polite way of letting me know that my complex concept needed time to be broken down and properly appreciated.  Now I know it’s a nice way of saying, This conversation is over. . . .”

Who knew one could learn actual life skills from a light, fun read?  I’m Definitely remembering this one.  I learned from a very wise therapist once that just because someone else wants to have a certain conversation Does Not mean that I am required to have that conversation.  This is a polite way to say “I am not having this conversation with you.”  Nice.

Copyright Ridingthebcrollercoaster.com 2012-2013 All Rights Reserved.

Book Excerpts: The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides

*****

The Marriage Plot

” . . . What made Madeleine sit up in bed was something closer to the reason she reads books in the first place and had always loved them.  Here is a sign that she wasn’t alone.  Here was an articulation of what she had been so far mutely feeling.  In bed on a Friday night, wearing sweatpants, her hair tied back, her glasses smudged, and eating peanut butter from the jar, Madeleine was in a state of extreme solitude. . . .”

I like that idea – extreme solitude, and yet not alone.

” . . . ‘Of or related to Leonard Bankhead (American, born 1959), characterized by excessive introspection or worry.  Gloomy, depressive.  See basket case.‘ . . .
Hannaesque,” Leonard said. “Stubborn.  Given to ironclad positions.”
“Hannarian,” Madeleine said.  “Dangerous.  Not to be messed with.”
“I stand warned.” . . .

” . . . Grief was physiological, a disturbance of the blood. . . .”

Yes.  I have no insightful commentary, just yes, so yes!

” . . . A bruised ego reflected its own image. . . .”

Copyright Ridingthebcrollercoaster.com 2012-2013 All Rights Reserved.

Book Excerpts: Tales from the Crib by Jennifer Coburn

*****

Tales from the crib

” . . . I hated this trite platitude people shot out when they were uncomfortable with another person’s mourning. . . .”

I run into this a lot in the context of having cancer.  People say stupid things trying to get Me to be positive because They are uncomfortable.  Newsflash – My Cancer is Not about how you feel, and if I’m having a bad day with it (totally justifiable and permissible because having cancer sucks!) get over Yourself about me not being happy about having cancer.

” . . . Why was it impossible or people to accept that humans had room for completely conflicting emotions, and one did not detract from the other in the slightest?. . . .”

Now, I don’t know if this makes perfect sense to me because I’m a Gemini, or if all people feel that way sometimes, but um – duh!

” . . . I understand that when someone says, “Oh, don’t feel sad,” they really are trying to help.  But telling me not to feel what I’m already feeling is not at all helpful.”

In fact, being told that one’s reality is not true is one of the truly crazy-making things someone can do to another.

” . . . I always hated when Aunt Rita completely negated my feelings by telling me how much worse off she was at my age. . . .”

Yeah, I think this one’s related to my first quote (and reaction thereto) from this book.  It amazes me how often my experiences are discounted by people saying “someone else has it worse.”  Well, yes, I’m absolutely sure someone does.  But I wasn’t talking about them.  I was talking about me.  Really, what does someone else’s experiences have to do with my current one.  I shouldn’t be less than perfectly-ecstatic at all times because someone else is going through something You decide to judge as worse?  By that measure whoever you hold up to me doesn’t get to feel badly either because someone certainly has it worse than them.  So does one person in the whole world have the right to be less than perfectly ecstatic?  Who is that person?  Who gets to decide who that is?

Oh, and by the same token, if someone else has it ‘worse’ than me, then certainly someone else also has it better.  Hell, I can name a dozen off the top of my head.  For christ’s sake, some days I could look at Anybody who doesn’t have cancer and say they have it better than me.   So, by that token, please take Your discomfort out of my realm of being – compared to those who have it ‘better,’ I have a perfect right to be less than completely-ecstatic.

Yeah, this one instantly and pretty much completely pisses me off.

” . . . For the rest of the weekend, we quietly walked around Ann Arbor taking inventory of what was old and what was new.  What had changed and what had stayed the same.  Very few things were in just one column, least of all us. . . .”

There’s that simultaneous dichotomy again, which speaks to me so.

Copyright Ridingthebcrollercoaster.com 2012-2013 All Rights Reserved.