**Notice** Due to transfering back from a godaddy hosted wordpress blog back to blogger, reviews published before june 2017 don`t all have a pretty layout with book cover and infos. Our apologies.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Winter by Marissa Meyer


WINTER is here!

What an amazing conclusion to an epic series! WINTER is the book I've been waiting for all year and it didn't disappoint. With over 800 pages, it did take me a few weeks to complete, but it was definitely worth it. With The Lunar Chronicles, Marissa Meyer has created a wonderful futuristic world and each novel is a reimagining of a well known fairytale. WINTER is slightly based off Snow White but this is definitely not the typical Disney fairy tale. It has spaceships, a revolution, an epic battle scene, a deadly plague and so much more. Of course it does have princesses, a king and a queen, and you can expect some romance but it's definitely not  your grandmother's fairy tales.

Marissa Meyer's futuristic and sci-fi world couldn't be more perfect, in my opinion. I think the main reason why her series is such a success is because of her attention to detail while creating this world and her characters. While Winter isn't my favourite character, her craziness does add something interesting to the story. Raised on Luna, a colony on the Moon that is lead by a less than desirable queen, Winter is hated by her stepmother, Queen Levana. Winter's natural beauty is admired by all, and Queen Levana could only hope to be admired that way. Queen Levana's scarred face has lead her to fool every one on Luna with her glamour and never shows her true face. Levana is outright jealous of Winter and she has done everything in her power to make life miserable for her stepdaughter. Winter's refusal to use her glamour has made her a little crazy, which doesn't really help her case. However, the people of Luna still adore Winter and that makes Levana even more furious.

While the other three books of the series tell the story of one character in particular, all storylines converge into one, in WINTER. Cinder has come to Luna to gain her rightful place on Luna's throne, while Scarlet and Cress are dedicated to their friend, and helping in anyway to achieve her goal. Levana's tyrannical rule has caused pain not only on Luna but has also threatened planet Earth's survival. With the Lunar plague still a threat to everyone, Cinder has to find a way to not only overthrow Levana, but also find a way to cure the plague that has killed so many people back on Earth.

And who could forget the four girls' love interests... Kai, Wolf, Thorne and Jacin all play a major roles in the series, but I love how the author made sure the girls are always the real heroes. Sure, the boys help a lot in fighting Levana's tyrannical rule, but they are able to win every little battles because of the girls' courage. One of my favourite characters actually remains Iko, Cinder's android and best friend. The comic relief the android provides is balanced just right with everything else that happens in the series. Also, the relationship Cinder has with Iko proves how Cinder cares for each and every personality, whether human or mechanical. In my opinion, that trait is a desirable one for any Queen to have, which gives us all the more reasons to believe in Cinder.

The epic battle scene near the end of the book is the beginning to the end. It's the cumulation of every event in this series and all characters have a particular role to play. So many fans have been waiting a long time to see what happens to these characters, and personally I wasn't disappointed. Marisa Meyer has succeeded in concluding her epic series in the most epic of ways. I'm very satisfied with this series and it's a must read for anyone who enjoys YA or sci-fi in general.

stephsig moon

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Stacking The Shelves [187]

Stacking the Shelves

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

If you want to find out more about Stacking The Shelves, please visit the official launch page!


 So, this week I went a little crazy with the adult coloring books. When I was young, I could spend hours drawing in coloring books and it seems like I'm hooked again. I love these book-themed coloring books and I just couldn't resist. "All men must draw."

I've also added a few young adult books to my shelves...



Sherlock: The Mind Palace by Mike Collins

The Official A Game of Thrones Coloring Book by George R.R. Martin

Harry Potter Coloring Book

Winter by Marissa Meyer


Dumplin' by Julie Murphy

I hope everyone has a great weekend. Don't forget to add your link below!

stephsig moon

[inlinkz_linkup id=585891]

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams

First, Happy Thanksgiving to all my American readers!

Richard is a perfectly normal young computer programmer.  His former college classmate Dirk Gently is a holistic detective, specializing in missing cats and messy divorces.  Richard's boss is Gordon Way, owner of the largest British computer firm, and Richard is dating Gordon's younger sister, Susan.  Richard and Dirk's former professor, Reg, is very adept at sleight of hand, and has a fondness for Coleridge.  Michael Wenton-Weakes is the former editor of an arts and culture magazine, and also wishes to date Susan.  So what on earth do all of these people have to do with each other?

Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency is definitely more of a "slow burn" than other Douglas Adams novels that I've read.  There are a lot of threads to be woven together before we can get around to solving the mystery.  The mystery?  Gordon Way has been murdered.  Whodunnit?  Working together, the characters muddle along under Dirk's directions to put the pieces together and save the world, and humanity.

To be honest, I found this novel a bit meandering and even hard to follow at some moments.  It was definitely difficult to get into.  There's an entire chapter very early in that introduces the Electric Monk and his horse-- but they are introduced without preamble, and then not mentioned again for quite some time.  I kept wondering when/if they'd show up again, and how they'd fit into the story.  There follows another extended scene at a Cambridge University dinner, where Reg is introduced, along with half a dozen other professors.  A heads up:  you don't need to take notes.  The other professors, described in some detail, never pop up again in the story.

To be fair, the Electric Monk and events at the dinner do turn out to be quite integral to the plot later on.  You may also wonder where the sci-finess is during the early parts of the book... never fear!  It gets quite exciting in the second half.  Richard is very much the Arthur Dent of the book, a hapless Brit along for the reluctant ride.  Poor guy just wants his life back to normal!  How can anyone relax or get any work done with horses suddenly appearing in bathrooms and salt shakers suddenly appearing in antique Greek vases?  Dirk is the Ford Prefect here; quite haphazardly maneuvering through life, and always accepting the most spectacular possibilities as correct.  Their conversational interplay is very amusing.  And as I mentioned, there is a good bit of sci-fi in the solving of the mystery, after the setting and characters are established; I don't want to give away even a hint of the ending so I'm afraid I can't tell you what all they encounter!

Overall, not Douglas Adams' most awesome book.  Slow to start, with a whirlwind ending.  But the characters are definitely likable, and I didn't have to force myself too hard to stick with it.  Solid middle-ground.


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Hero of Ages: Book Three of Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson

This is the third book of the Mistborn book series.  If you have not read but, are interested in reading any of the previous books in the series, stop now for there are spoilers ahead and I would not want to ruin anybody’s journey.

In the previous books, we met Vin, lowest ranking thief in a gang of thieves and con artists.  After meeting Kelsier, a very talented mistborn, Vin finds she, too is mistborn.  After months of preparation, the two of them pull off the impossible, they kill the Lord Ruler, an immortal, sadistic tyrant.  In the middle of taking down the tyrant, Vin lost her mentor and was left to restore the known world with the help of her high born boyfriend.  Can they bring the world together and deal with the entities Vin encountered at the Well of Ascention?

This is the epic resolution to an equally epic story.  This is a world in upheaval.  Politically much of the aristocracy is fighting for power.  Socially the population trying to find its own way and rewrite its own rules.  Both climate and geological changes are adding to the disruption.  In this story, Brandon Sanderson has managed to not only mirror the character problems with those of the settings but, also to have them compliment and each push the others narrative further along.

Throughout these books, we’ve gotten to see the characters not just grow but evolve.  This is carried all the way to the very end of this book as well.  Vin and Elend are not the only two we get to watch mature but, they are the best examples of that growth.  We get to see characters that are young and self-absorbed become quite different as this story closes.  I received a comment recently about the choice of protagonist in the story.  The only problem is, I think the assumption of the identity of the true hero of this story was incorrect.  Of course I won’t mention it here but, I challenge everybody to find the answer for themselves.

This is truly and epic story as only Brandon Sanderson can create.  It is as detailed as it is entertaining and I am glad to see that the world lives on after the initial trilogy.  This gets a definite PG13 rating due to the violence.

Roberts Signature

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

"When I'm not writing" with Lauren Smith

Today we're hosting Lauren Smith, who has a brand-new Christmas paranormal romance out today!  (Can you believe it's already time to read Christmas-y books?!?)


When I'm Not Writing Marie

Lauren SmithLike most writers who love what they do, I think about writing all day. I mean it, ALL DAY, because I genuinely love what I do and it’s like I’m constantly playing with imaginary friends. But there are times I can’t write or think about writing. At these times, I’m usually cooking a fun meal with my mother. She’s a fantastic cook and I’m always trying to pick up a recipe or two from her. The next thing I also do is watch the occasional Oklahoma State football game with my dad. We’re both graduates from that school and we bleed orange and black! Go Pokes!

In my downtown, when I’m letting the muse rest up before the next great story, I also love going out to the Tulsa Ballet with my friends. The ballet in my hometown is fantastic. They weave stories with elaborate sets and costumes and the dancing of course is superb! I’m a sucker for a good story if you can’t tell, and the ballet is one of the places to do it. When there’s no ballet on, I’m usually at the movies or out to dinner with my friends and catching up with them on what’s happening in their lives. Then it’s back to the writing or editing cave.


Thanks so much for visiting us, Lauren! For more about Lauren and her books, check out the following links:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Blog | Goodreads


Here's the scoop on The Bite of Winter:

Bite of Winter Lauren SmithZoey Blake is about as far down on her luck as she can get. A car crash took her parents, leaving her destitute and on the street. When she’s attacked by another homeless person, her lifeblood drains away as her fading vision is filled with the face of a handsome stranger.

Ian Kennedy, a century old Irish vampire, never could resist rescuing a stray. As a few drops of his blood heals Zoey’s wounds, he realizes she’s a sweet, tempting, flesh-and-blood woman. But there’s one problem. Connor, who made Ian promise decades ago: no more mortal lovers.

After another vampire murdered his soulmate, Connor O’Shea swore never to let a mortal woman pay the price for loving him. Until he feels Zoey’s skin and tastes her lips. She makes him want to break that vow.

Zoey finds herself caught in their web of seduction. But as Christmas draws near and her grief deepens, happiness seems far out of reach. And Ian and Connor join forces to prove their love is sacred, special…and forever.

Warning: This book contains two scorching-hot Irish vampires, one lady with plenty of pluck but zero luck, naughty lingerie, and enough Christmas cheer to redeem even the darkest creatures.

Purchase: Amazon



Lauren is giving away three $5 Amazon gift cards AND your choice of any of her previous titles! Follow the Rafflecopter instructions to enter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Do you guys have suggestions for who you’d like to see featured on the blog? If so, you can make your suggestions on this page. No guarantees that your favourite authors will be able to participate but we’ll try!

Authors, would you like to visit  us? Please email me at marieharris725 (at) gmail (dot) com and we’ll set it up!


Saturday, November 21, 2015

Stacking The Shelves

Stacking the Shelves

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

If you want to find out more about Stacking The Shelves, please visit the official launch page!


 Hello Everyone!

I hope you are having a wonderful time getting ready for thanksgiving :)

It's been another crazy week here at Casa Tynga with my hubby landing in ER for extreme dehydration (he is better now, no worries) so I didn't have time to get a post ready even though I received a few books for review. I'll get a post ready for next week so I can show you!

In the mean time, we had super nice weather last weekend so I used the opportunity to install our Xmas decorations outside before it's bone-freezing. Here's a picture :) (sorry, cell pic)


I'll add more lights from the inside, but not decorating inside for another week at least hehe.

Please let me know what you added to your shelves!

tynsignew[inlinkz_linkup id=584151]

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow

Little Brother is a scarily realistic dystopian novel that probably everyone in North America should read.  (Maybe only a slight exaggeration there.)  The book is set in what could be current times.  There's no date mentioned, making it nearly timeless, and all the social customs and technology match up with what we have now.  That's what makes it scary:  what happens to Marcus (the main character) and his friends could happen to any of us tomorrow.

Marcus, aka w1n3t0n (pronounced "Winston" for you non-techies out there), is your average 17-year-old.  He loves hanging out with his friends, playing video games, participating in ARGs (augmented reality game) and LARPs (live action role-playing game), and doing the bare minimum in school.  His school in San Francisco is pretty heavily guarded; students have to go through metal detectors to get into school, then gait-recognition cameras follow their movements in the halls, and their school-issued laptops can be monitored remotely.  Marcus and his friends also have fun hacking the laptops to run their own programs (non-traceable) and using little Macgyver-like hacks to get past the gait-recognition cameras.

All of this sounds pretty harmless, right?  There are already metal detectors and cameras at lots of high schools across North America.  What's the big deal?  And why shouldn't a school be able to monitor their laptops?  Marcus' activities also sound pretty harmless.  He only hacks the computer to the extent necessary to run a little IM program to chat with his friends during class, and only tricks the gait-recognition cameras to cut class occasionally (and what high schooler hasn't cut class a couple times?).

The problem comes when San Francisco is hit by a terrorist attack, and a bridge is blown up, killing thousands of people.  Marcus and his friends had chosen the wrong day to cut class.  And unfortunately, they cut class in order to ARG, so they have lots of homemade tech on them when the DHS (Department of Homeland Security) shows up.  Next thing they know, they're rounded up, with their tech confiscated, and put into jail cells for nearly a week.  When they're released, their world is an entirely different place, run by the DHS.  There are even more cameras up now, all over town.  The internet itself is being monitored.  Citizens are being tracked by their FastPass (for going through tolls) and their FastTracs (passes for using public transportation) and even their library books (with implanted RFID tags).  Marcus fights back.

I know that was a lot of summation, but I had to set up the fright factor.  Can you imagine being a teen, with very little power or voice in society, seeing all of this happening and knowing how bad it is, and having so few avenues to fight it?  Marcus is, arguably, a tech genius.  He uses his smarts and not violence to fight to reclaim his city.  He teams up with others to spread a message of forgotten freedoms rather than inciting riots.

More than just a story of fighting terrorism and "the man," Little Brother is also a coming-of-age book.  Over the course of many months we see Marcus really grow and develop as a character.  He goes from an aimless teen to a strong young man.  Yes, he makes some mistakes, but more often than not he makes the right decision.  This is a YA protagonist that a teen could inspire to.  He's even a YA protagonist that adults can admire!  I know that I cheered for Marcus over and over while I read the book.  I know of at least two teens that I regularly see at the library that I'm going to try to sell this book to.

I give Little Brother a full five of five (enthusiastic) stars, and would totally recommend this to everyone!



Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Well of Ascension (Mistborn, Book 2) by Brandon Sanderson

The Well of Ascension (Mistborn, Book 2) by Brandon Sanderson is the second book  in the Mistborn series.  If you have a thought to some day read the first book in this series, stop here until you have.  This review will certainly contain spoilers for t hat first book.

What does one do once you have overthrown a god?  That's the question is on the mind of Vin and her crew.  The Lord Ruler was not really a god but, to the people of Vin's world, he may as well have been.  On top of all that, Vin has to deal with seeing her mentor die as well as nearly dying herself.  At least the hard part is over and all she and Elend have to do is keep the world from falling apart.

This is where we find ourselves in the beginning of this book.  It's starts as  a rebirth of not just one culture but, all cultures that have dwindled and died under the iron grip of the Lord Ruler.  This is one of those books that answers the question left open by so many stories:  What comes after the ending?  Once evil is overthrown, what happens next?  And then the all important question, can the people left after such an event manage to do what is right and just?  Brandon Sanderson does a masterful job of taking the reader through these and many more answers to questions that come  after freeing  people.  It's handled not only logically but thoughtfully and draws you deeper and deeper into the situation at every turn.

'Hard times don't build character, they reveal it' or something to that nature is an axiom that takes center stage much of the time.  The characters we have come to know and love or hate are pushed to breaking point but at the end of the last book and here as well.  We get to see how it all shapes them and builds on what we know of them already.

The setting, of course, is sill the star of the show.  The sun, the ash and the mists are all still there and are a constant that these people must put up with.  Sanderson does an excellent job of letting the inanimate help shape the story.

This is a very entertaining continuation of the story.  While it is epic in length, it still leaves the reader wanting more by the end.  Which is good because, they aren't done yet.  It does have some violence which put's it into the PG13 rating for me.


Roberts Signature

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

"When I'm not writing" with Lia Davis

Today we're hosting Lia Davis, who just released Dragon's Web on Sunday!



Lia Davis


When I’m not writing, I’m plotting the next one. There isn’t a moment when I’m not thinking about writing or plotting what happens next. Writing is not only my job, it’s my hobby and I love everything about it.

When I’m not writing or plotting, I’m spending time with my hubby and grandbabies (I have two now. Bella is 1 and Hayden is 2 weeks old). Hubby and I love to spend time out doors or just watching a movie when the kids and grandbabies aren’t around.

There are times when I need some quiet time to myself. That is when I grab a paperback or my kindle—sometimes both—and go to a quiet place and read.

I also enjoy making beaded jewelry and other crafty things.

Thanks so much for visiting us, Lia! For more about Lia and her books, check out the following links:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Authorgraph | Pinterest


Here's the scoop on Dragon's Web:

Dragon's Web Lia Davis

Established author and black dragon shifter, Cayden Rienhardt, has watched over the beautiful and very human, Nyna Carter, most of her life. But he never entertained the idea of more until recently. When an ex-lover from Nyna’s past comes back to Woodland Creek and makes it clear she plans to spend her life with Nyna, Cayden’s dragon forces him to break his silence and make a move to cast his magical web. But he could get more than he ever bargained for in the process.

Eighteen months ago, lone cat shifter Kara Mitchell inadvertently witnessed the murder of her best friend’s parents. When she fled the scene to contact the police, she was captured and held prisoner, forcing her to leave Nyna and her life behind with no explanation. Now that she’s escaped her captors, she returns to Woodland Creek to help Nyna find closure and stop the murderer, but things aren’t as she remembered. Not only is there a rift between her and Nyna, there’s a very sexy dragon shifter complicating matters.

Stuck in a web of lies, scandal, and a tantalizing love triangle, Nyna isn’t sure whom to trust. Her heart wants both Kara and Cayden, but they each have secrets. When Kara reveals that someone close to Nyna is responsible for her parents’ murders, her love life becomes secondary to the investigation. She is determined to find out the truth. Even if it means that her life will change forever.

Purchase: Amazon



Lia is giving away a $25 Amazon gift card. Follow the Rafflecopter instructions to enter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Do you guys have suggestions for who you’d like to see featured on the blog? If so, you can make your suggestions on this page. No guarantees that your favourite authors will be able to participate but we’ll try!

Authors, would you like to visit  us? Please email me at marieharris725 (at) gmail (dot) com and we’ll set it up!


Monday, November 16, 2015

Accidental Abduction by Eve Langlais

I wasn't sure if I should review this book for the blog or not, but honestly, since I got hooked in the first few minutes, I decided it might be worth sharing. For a sci-fi romance, it's highly entertaining and has so many laugh out loud moments. The characters are very enjoyable with their intense chemistry and snappy conversations.

It all begins with Megan about to drown in the open water, who was left there by her boyfriend, planning to kill her for her money. At first, she thought the bright light was heaven calling her, but then she quickly realized that she was being abducted by an alien ship, along with many fish and marine life. Actually, Megan doesn't seem too worried about being abducted. In her place, I guess I wouldn't be either since the only other option would be death. But to her benefit, her open mind and accepting personality, helps her survive something that could have been really traumatic for someone else. I love her initial description of her captor as "Han Solo on crack" and her multiple one-liners.

It wasn't Tren's intention to abduct the "barbaric female" from planet Earth. As an ex-mercenary turned acquisition specialist, his intention was to acquire some of Earth's marine life since the planet's barbarians were killing off some of their species with their destructive ways. At first, he decides to sell her off in the first available auction but her snarky mouth and curvy body makes him want to keep her all for himself.

Their sexual chemistry is definitely palatable. Tren might have purple skin and a few different body parts but he and Megan prove that their species are completely compatible. Both physically and emotionally. It doesn't take time for Tren to sample what Megan has to offer (it's not his fault since she's the one always bringing it up). Apparently all it takes is a few sips of a very potent wine to get things started.

It's only when Megan is abducted by someone else that Tren realizes he truly has some feelings for his barbaric human. Despite their differences, they do fit as a couple. Their intense chemistry and entertaining banter only proves their compatibility. Even though the story is primarily an erotic romance, it still has enough sci-fi elements and a good storyline to satisfy my need for a good story to go along with the rest. Literary wise, it's nothing amazing but overall, the novella length story was so  entertaining, I started reading the second book of the series immediately. Eve Langlais is definitely on to something with her purple aliens because they are definitely sexy and skilled (as warriors and lovers).

stephsig moon

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Stacking The Shelves [185]

Stacking the Shelves

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

If you want to find out more about Stacking The Shelves, please visit the official launch page!


 Here in the Southeast US, it's been raining since early September.  (Only a very slight exaggeration.)  Wonderful reading weather!  (Horrible muddy dog weather.)  I've been continuing to try to be responsible about how many books I bring home, and have been making a dent in my Everest-sized to-read list instead.  You'll notice that I've already read and reviewed one of the books in this week's stack!

NewWild Ones Jon MooallemSevere Mercy Sheldon VanaukenWild Ones: A Sometimes Dismaying, Weirdly Reassuring Story About Looking at People Looking at Animals in America by Jon Mooallem: I'm part of a consortium of educators in a multi-year program training us to provide better STEM opportunities to the youth we work with, and the leader of the group gave us all a copy of this book.  I've read an excerpt, and it seems really good!  Looking forward to reading more.

A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken:  recommended by a pastor at our church, and I was able to buy a copy that includes bonus C.S. Lewis material!  (Sheldon Vanauken and C.S. Lewis were friends.)


Little Brother Cory DoctorowToys Meet Snow Emily JenkinsA-Word Joy Preble

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow:  a dystopian YA that I plan to read and then review here on Tynga's!  So look for that soon.

Toys Meet Snow by Emily Jenkins:  a cute picture book that I wanted to check out before buying for a relative for Christmas.

The A-Word by Joy Preble: already read and reviewed!  Click HERE for the review.

Loan From a Friend

Easy Labor William Camann Kathryn J Alexander

Easy Labor: Every Woman's Guide to Choosing Less Pain and More Joy During Childbirth by William Camann and Kathryn J. Alexander:  because there are decisions regarding birth plans and pain relief (or not) that I will need to make sooner rather than later...  :)

How about you?  What books did you bring home this week?  Read anything lately that you're super excited about?  Leave your link below!


[inlinkz_linkup id=580827]

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North

Wow... The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August is an epic time-bending tale of science and vengeance, along the lines of The Curious Tale of Benjamin Button or The Time Traveler's Wife... but plus some.

Harry is a kalachakra, which means that when he dies, he is reborn with all of his memories intact.  He doesn't ever travel forward through time; he's always born in 1919 to the same woman.  He's not alone; there are a number of kalachakra throughout the world, and they form a support network for each other.  Harry's first ten lives or so are rather uneventful (I mean, other than the fact that at about age 4 he comes into all of his memories and consciousness from multiple full past lives) as he figures out what his "condition" means for him and how to make the best use of his time.  He seems to work through all the grief stages, you know, like anger, depression, questioning, etc.  In one life he even tries to tell another person what is happening to him... it doesn't go well.

After a couple of lives, Harry hooks up with the Cronus Club, the network of kalachakra.  He is able to partake in debates about such things as "why not kill Hitler?"  (No spoilers; you'll have to read the book to find out why!)  I will admit that the first half of the book moves a little slowly.  There is a lot of groundwork to lay, to explain the kalachakra phenomenon, and we get to know Harry.  Would you like a book with character development?  Imagine how much growth and development you can fit into a few hundred years of a character's life!  I enjoyed this part.  The story unfolds in a steady rate without too much dawdling in any one life.  The format is also intriguing; the book is written as Harry August writing his memoirs, so it's like sitting and having tea (Harry is British) with him while he tells his life (lives') story.

Then, about halfway through the book, the reader finds the conflict.  You know the structure of a good book:  set-up, conflict, resolution.  The conflict here is a kicker!  During one early life, an old and dying Harry is visited at his hospital bedside by a young girl, a fellow kalachakra, who has been sent to warn him that the world is ending.  You see, kalachakra have a method of passing information from generation to generation, back and forth in time this way.  Harry is confused by this message, though:  hasn't the world always been ending?  Over the course of succeeding lives, Harry finds out, though, that the problem is that the world is ending more quickly.  Thus begins an exciting chase through time, as Harry pursues a person who is bent on destroying the world as quickly as possible.  Each death gives Harry a failure... and another chance to try again to catch the culprit.

I also mentioned science in my opening statement.  Throughout all of his lives, Harry is instrumental in scientific discovery and advancement.  He walks a fine line between that discovery, and not advancing science too greatly beyond it's predetermined timeline.  (There could be chaos if someone suddenly "discovered" the personal computer in 1950, for example.)  And this--science--is exactly what could bring about the end of the world sooner than later.  I'll admit:  a lot of the science went over my head, but it's ok.  You totally don't have to understand quantum physics in order to grasp the plot of the book.  Under all the scientific tug-of-war, there's the foundation plot of good vs. evil, and a chase through time.

I definitely recommend The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August!


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Mistborn: The Final Empire (Book 1) by Brandon Sanderson

Usually, when somebody writes about elements and magic, they are referring to earth, water, air and fire.  For Vin Kelsier and other allomancers, they mean elements like iron, copper and gold as well as their alloys.  Allomancers use these metals to perform particular types of magic in the world created by Brandon Sanderson in Mistborn: The Final Empire.

This world can be either exciting and wonderful places or it could be oppressive and dehumanizing depending on what family one was born into.  Whether you were part of the peasant class known as the Skaa or if you were part of the nobility, nobody went out into the Mists at night.  Nobody except for the Survivor.

This is an epic novel written about classic struggles against tyranny, oppression and the unknown.  This is a time and place that seem to be created and managed by a single entity: The Lord Ruler.  Brandon Sanderson makes full use of the colors, textures and backgrounds of this world to convey a sense of the oppression so many these people under while also giving glimpses of color and opulence that show promise of what once was and still could be.  It's that idea that seems to motivate many of the characters.

Our main character, Vin, is a strong willed survivor who begins the story not really knowing how special she is.  One of the fortunate aspects of being an epic size story is that there is plenty of time to really develop characters.  Mr. Sanderson does just that with Vin, Kelsier and the rest.  Since it is such a long book, we not only get to know them but, we also see the characters start to evolve over a more natural feeling time period.

The settings and characters are all brought together to tell a story that on its surface seems familiar but, there are points and twists that keep the reader in the story to the end.  Even if you think you may have things figured out, one of the characters or events will come along and make you reassess your theory.

I've said it a couple of times earlier but, I think it bears repeating: this is a long book. It possibly could have been divided into two distinct books but, I think it would have lost something special about it.  It's a very entertaining  read.  It does have violence which earns it a moderate PG13 rating from me.

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Monday, November 09, 2015

Blood Bath & Beyond by Michelle Rowen


I didn’t realize when I picked up this book that it was actually a spin-off from a previous series. It wasn’t until after a few chapters that I realized the characters were too well established for this to be considered a new series. I’m a stickler for reading books in order so I’m usually really careful but I guess I was fooled by the “First in a new series” stamp on the cover of the book. But quite honestly, I don’t think it’s necessary to read the previous books to enjoy this one. The author describes the characters well enough to fill in the blanks, although it does feel like your missing background information from time to time.

It’s quite audacious to set the “first book” in a series in the wonderful city of Las Vegas. Especially when the two main characters are engaged and have no set date to get married. Thierry is a century old vampire that has just taken a job with The Ring, a secret organization policing the vampire population. His job as a consultant isn’t quite clear but it does involve a lot of travelling and investigating vampire related issues. His fiancé Sarah Dearly, the narrator of the book, is definitely ready to spend the rest of her life with Thierry and she proves it by packing a last minute bag to follow him to Las Vegas. She’s ready to do anything for him, even leaving her established life behind in Toronto.

Thierry’s job in Las Vegas is to investigate a 96 year old vampire child who is entering and winning child pageant shows for a living. Because she’s gaining popularity, Thierry’s job is to convince her to stop the pageant shows in order to keep her vampire status from the human population a secret. The job sounds simple enough except when a vampire serial killer starts murdering one human a day, and Thierry is set up to take the fall for the murder of a fellow vampire after threatening him publicly just the night before. Sarah decides to investigate the separate murders secretly and on her own. Even if by investigating the murders means risking her life, she can’t let her fiancé take the fall for something she knows he didn’t do.

Trouble follows Sarah around. Sarah mentions it multiple times herself and it’s actually quite true. As she investigates, so many things go wrong, like the death of one of her suspects, losing her engagement ring and getting told off by a security guard for letting her “vampire child” run off and cause trouble. Las Vegas is known for it’s eccentric people, and Sarah definitely meets her fair share of them. From a preaching vampire Jesus, to a bar full of vampire hunters and a few crazy characters, Sarah’s investigation is non-stop. Personally, I think Sarah proves herself in this book as a great parter for Thierry. She’s determine to make their relationship work and she goes to extremes to fight for their engagement. She also proves to Thierry and herself that despite all the dangers this life may have, she’s able to pull through on her own, even though the odds are set against her.

I've been to Vegas multiple times and although it's not my favourite city, it is a great place to visit and have fun, no matter what you're looking for. [spoiler]So an engaged couple travels to Las Vegas on business. Sure, Las Vegas is known for gambling, shows, nightlife, etc. But obviously it’s also know for weddings (I've actually been to two!). What better place for Sarah and Thierry to tie the knot? I was waiting for this the whole book. I knew it was coming and I don’t know what was more predictable: the fact that they got married, or that the ceremony was performed by an Elvis impersonator.[/spoiler]

Overall I really enjoyed this book. The writing reminds me a lot of Molly Harper, the author of the “Nice Girls” series. The book is filled with hilarious moments and how-did-she-end-up-in-this-jam moments. Honestly, if I were to continue reading this series, I would probably go back to the original series first before continuing with this spin off. I want to go back and read the events that lead to Sarah’s turning and I want to learn how Sarah and Thierry met and fell in love. The good news is that I have lots of books to keep me entertained for a while.

stephsig moon

Saturday, November 07, 2015

Stacking The Shelves [184]

Stacking the Shelves

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

If you want to find out more about Stacking The Shelves, please visit the official launch page!


Happy weekend everyone! This week, I added a few book from my local library to my shelves. I may or may not end up reading them. What do you think? Have you read any of the following? I've been having a hard time getting into any book this week and I'm looking for suggestions...

From the Library

The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins

The Young Elites by Marie Lu

Flight from Death by Yasmine Galenorn


 Show me what you got! Don't forget to share!

stephsig moon

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Thursday, November 05, 2015

The A-Word by Joy Preble

This light and fun read is the sequel to The Sweet Dead Life.  If you haven't read that one yet, you might want to check out that review first!

It's been about a year since Jenna and her brother were in their car accident, which resulted in Casey becoming an angel.  Together with angel Amber Velasquez, they solved the Renfrew mystery, healing Jenna and her mom.  Things should be back to normal, right?  But Casey is still here on earth (no promotion for saving Jenna), and he's been "grounded" for using his wings.  Their father is still living mostly in Austin, and might even be seeing another woman.  Even worse:  Casey and Amber have started feeling a "spidey sense" that something is most definitely wrong.  But what?

The best part of this book:  the author's growth since the last book!  You might remember that I wasn't thrilled with some of the writing in The Sweet Dead Life.  The writing in The A-Word is so much better!  The primary characters are more 3D and real and mature.  The characters' actions and conversations feel more age-appropriate too.  In the first book, Jenna's speech and mannerisms seemed much more suited to a high schooler than a middle schooler; in this book she actually is a high schooler, and acting like one.  There was also a ton of putting-down of her brother in the first book and lots of drug references; in this sequel the brother is mostly clean, and there are only a few references to his past drug use.  This leaves a lot of room for character development and plot.

The plot in The A-Word starts right away.  There's a mystery and a sense of impending doom, and a new angel is introduced.  Jenna is struggling with being a normal teen and also trying to help the angels fight the bad in the world.  The mystery kept me guessing up until the end, and I totally enjoyed the ride.  The angels have this great snarky sense of humor, as does Jenna.  Along the way, Jenna will maintain her relationship with her best friend, Maggie (who has her own fantastically fun quirks), and maybe start a relationship with a boy.  :)

Overall, this is definitely a light YA read.  But it's so much fun!  I listened to the the audiobook during my commute and literally laughed out loud a number of times.  I recommend.


Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Divergent by Veronica Roth

A young person who has the feeling of not quite fitting in.  Not even at home does this person feel comfortable or truly accepted.  Then comes a crucial moment where one decision could lead to fulfillment or even worse disappointment and failure.  Beatrice finds herself in just that moment as this story begins.

This is one of those stories that is primarily character driven.  Many may say that with all that is going on around Beatrice, or Tris as she is later named, that it is plot focused.  This book spent a great deal of time defining the main character and her change from Beatrice to Tris.  Along with Tris, we get learn about her family and fellow initiates.  It is the initiates where we start to get a feeling for not only who they are but, who Tris is as well as who she is becoming.  I will admit, there are some archetypes that border on stereotypes in this book.  Most of those are clearly for plot development and don't require real character development so, I tend to overlook them.

Ordinarily, I like to have, as I put it, texture in a story.  I like the author to pain a picture with words that gives me texture, smell and sound so I can feel the world of the book.  This book does not do that because, it does not need to.  It's one of those exceptions that makes the rule.  The lack of these stimuli tends to highlight some of the bleaker parts of the narrative and help the reader stay focused on what is important: the characters.  That said, we do get a feel for Tris' world as well as an understanding how it has helped shape her outlook as well as those around her.

While this is a character driven story, that doesn't mean it is bereft of story.  It has a modern take on a few tropes we've seen in the past but, they are handled well for the most part.  I won't go into the twist and turns that comes with this type of social/political intrigue because that's where much of the entertainment is.

Though these are not new ideas for a story, in Divergent by Veronica Roth they are brought together in a way to make an engaging tale.  It is a thought provoking tale that I would recommend for anybody high school age and above.  There is violence in it but, none that is glorified which in my mind earns it a PG13.


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