Tuesday, April 17, 2012


Fated (Soul Seekers, #1)Fated by Alyson Noel
Sourcefree Advance Reader's Copy via a GoodReads FirstReads giveaway for my honest review.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've been meaning to read Alyson Noel's series "The Immortals" for some time now. I still hadn't gotten around to it when I won a copy of the first book in her new "Soul Seekers" series from Goodreads First Reads giveaway program. So I skipped ahead and read this newer one first. 

Now, I don't claim to know everything about the genre, but I have read quite a lot of Young Adult books and I really like the direction this series is taking. This is the first I've read, or even really heard of, that tells a fictional, supernatural story that focuses on Native Americans.

Daire is the daughter of a traveling Hollywood makeup artist and her father died before she was even born. As she is approaching her 16th birthday, very strange things start happening to her. She's seeing things no one else can and everyone is convinced she's having a break with reality. Her only hope of getting better without being locked away in a mental institution is to go live with her paternal grandmother, a Native American woman Daire has never even met.

You won't be surprised to learn there is more to Daire's visions than anyone realizes.  We follow Daire on a journey of self-discovery in a new town and with a lot of new responsibilities. And a romantic interest of course (would it be a YA book without one?)

Perhaps one of my favorite things about this series is that the next 3 installments are scheduled to be released 6 months apart from each other. As an avid reader of series, that is an incredibly short wait. And now I know I like her writing, I really do think I should go back and finally read "The Immortals." Since those are all already published, I really don't have an excuse not to!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Come Home

Come HomeCome Home by Lisa Scottoline
Sourcefree Advance Reader's Copy from a GoodReads' FirstReads giveaway for my honest review
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Disclaimer: This is the first book I have read by Lisa Scottoline and I normally do not read this type of book (mystery/thriller).

That being said, I really did enjoy reading this particular novel. Just to give some perspective, I used to be a HUGE fan of mystery/thrillers. Growing up, I read all kinds of "kids'" books (including lots of Nancy Drew) and when it came time to graduate to "adult" books, I devoured every Mary Higgins Clark, etc. that I could get my hands on. Most of the "grown-ups" in my family read mysteries, so that's mostly what I read too. That all changed one day when I looked around a bookstore and it dawned on me how many other kinds of books there are out there -- so many more choices than my usual "books for school" or mysteries. I think my Mom was secretly glad I didn't try to pick up any romances at the time, but ever since my bookstore revelation, I've been reading chick lit, fantasy, young adult, romance, and Diana-Gabaldon-who-cannot-be-defined-by-any-known-genre novels. You name it, if it wasn't a mystery, I was probably reading it (or at least buying it--my "To Read" list is stupidly long).

So, after many years of steering clear of mysteries, I can't tell you how pleasantly surprised I was to enjoy this book so much. It was a quick read and it kept me furiously flipping pages, trying to figure out what would happen next. It also reminded me why I used to like mysteries so much and definitely made me want to read more of Lisa's earlier books.

The main character is Jill Farrow, a wife, mother, and doctor who is widowed, divorced and now about to marry her third husband.  She has a daughter from her first marriage who is getting along fantastically with her fiance and their lives finally seem to be back on track.  Or they were until the news that Jill's ex-husband may have been murdered brings her ex step-daughters back into her life. And trust me, that's just as complicated as it sounds.

Jill is such a caring and likeable protagonist, even as this mystery starts to tear her family and her life apart. Whether it is her family or her patients, Jill always tries to do what is best and what is right, even though she doesn't necessarily play by the rules. (I couldn't help picturing Jill as Dana Delany's character Megan Hunt from ABC's Body of Proof, but that's just me.)

My only gripe? (And I admit it's incredibly stupid and petty.) The dog in the story is named Beef. We meet Beef on the very first page and he's an adorable, wonderful dog, but I just couldn't shake how odd his name was. I felt weird reading it every single time. (My apologies to any pet owners who have named their own darlings Beef). But hey, if that's the only thing wrong with a book, there really isn't actually anything wrong with the book!

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Series: Hunger Games trilogy #1
Published by: Scholastic
Date: Sept. 24, 2008
How did I get this book? Purchased
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
GoodReads | Author | Publisher

I probably should have gathered my thoughts on this book before I went ahead and read the whole series, but I couldn't tear myself away long enough to write up a review.  To be fair, I do think I can separate my feelings about this one book from my feelings about the series as a whole, so here goes...

First off, I devoured this book. It kept me on the edge of my seat and I could not stop reading until I reached the end. It was addicting in the way only a really great book can be. It pulled me in, making me desperate for more and dreading the turning of the last pages. The Hunger Games is an amazing book in and of itself and I think it could actually stand on it's own without either of the sequels. Call me selfish, but I'm glad it didn't end there because I wouldn't have known what to read next. If nothing else, The Hunger Games is a tough act to follow.

Before I completely go off the deep end, let's cover a little bit of background information:

The country of Panem is divided -- the Capitol vs. the districts. As punishment for a failed rebellion 74 years ago, once a year, each district is forced to offer up one boy and one girl as tribute to fight to the death in a spectacle known as the Hunger Games. This brought to mind the barbaric Roman gladiators, only in this modern day version, it has been turned into a sick and twisted reality TV show.  The children chosen to fight are disposable and provide entertainment for the citizens of the Capitol while crippling and crushing the spirits of the districts.

The book is a fascinating account of the games from the heroine's point of view. Katniss is her family's provider and eeks out what little happiness she can living in district 12 until a cruel twist of fate leads her to become one of the Hunger Games' female tributes. She is faced with impossible choices, but is incredibly strong and despite how much she doubts herself, she manages to hold onto her dignity and humanity. She touches people (both other characters and readers of the book) and makes a difference just by being herself and doing what she knows to be right.

If you've passed over this book because of it's larger-than-life popularity, I challenge you to give it a chance. It's not often that a book can live up to all that hype, but in my opinion this one surpasses all expectations.