Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Eve & Adam - Michael Grant & Katherine Applegate

Title: Eve & Adam
Author: Michael Grant & Katherine Applegate
Paperback: 291 pages (ARE)
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends/Macteen
Published date: October 2012
FTC: Requested from Shelf Awareness

I'll admit that I like reading good, fun, clever YA books. This one is up there. It's no Hunger Games or Divergent - it's not even a dystopian book.  So if you are kind of burnt out on dystopian, you still might like this one. Does anyone know if this is going to a be a trilogy or a stand alone? I just read that there is going to be at least a sequel...

Back of the book:

In the beginning, there was an apple. And then there was a car crash, a horrible, debilitating injury, and the hospital. But before Evening Spiker could even lift her head out of the fog of unconsciousness, there was a strange boy checking her out of the hospital and rushing her to Spiker Biopharmaceuticals - her mother's research facility. Just when Eve thinks she will die - not from her injuries, but from boredom - her mother gives her a special project: Create the perfect boy.

Using an amazingly detailed simulation that her mother claims is designed to teach human genetics, Eve starts building a boy from the ground up: eyes, hair, muscles, even a brain, and potential personality traits. Eve is creating Adam. And he will be just perfect...won't he?

My thoughts:

First of all, the beginning of the book is intense and draws you in. I really won't be giving away too much and you can go over to MacTeen to read part of the first chapter, but there's an apple, a good lesson about texting while doing anything, and a debilitating car crash which propels Eve into her mother's Biopharmaceutical complex.  There she is treated by Terra Spiker's specialized doctors and staff -- she also meets the Spiker gopher, a boy her age named Solo.

What I really enjoyed was that the narrative alternated between Eve (goes by E.V.) and Solo.  I really enjoyed Solo's story and perspective.  I think had it just been Eve's perspective it would have been a bit boring - even with her crazy best friend who has serious boyfriend troubles thrown in the mix.  Just be aware that there is a bit of violence with Eve's friend Aislin and her druggie boyfriend.

While Eve is recouping and extremely bored at her mom's work complex, Eve is tasked by her mom to try out a new genetics simulation program that is supposed to help students understand how genetics works humans.  She is supposed to create a human being from scratch - any gender any age - and of course she creates a perfect boy her age -- or is he?  And this is just a silly computer program, or is it?

While this is definitely a teen/YA book, there is interesting underlying questions of morality and ethics. When it comes to the medical field, just because we have the technology, is it still ethically or morally  right to do certain things?  How far is too far?  Even Aislin's relationship with her boyfriend brings up a lot of interesting topics that I think would appeal to teens.

Since it appears that there's going to be at least a sequel, I am curious to see how the story plays out.  The ending of the book leaves a lot hanging and a lot of questions unanswered.

Also Reviewed By:

Luxury Reading
At Home With Books

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Days of Splendor, Days of Sorrow WINNER!

The winner of my contest, thanks to Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, is LISA!  I emailed you so please send me your snail mail address so I can forward it on and get this lovely book out to you.  Thanks to everyone who entered!  If you haven't already, check out my review of Juliet Grey's novel Days of Splendor, Days of Sorrow.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Lucky Bunny - Jill Dawson

Title: Lucky Bunny
Author: Jill Dawson
Paperback: 349 pages
Publisher: Harper Collins
Published date: October 30, 2012
FTC: Received to review for TLC Book Tours

Big oops.  I was supposed to have this posted yesterday but with the big Presidential elections going on and other fun stuff it totally escaped me.  I even sucked down and finished a week ago, so that tells you something about how much I enjoyed reading Lucky Bunny. If you are interested in a story sort of like A Tree Grows in Brooklyn - but instead of going to college the character turns to a life of crimes - well this is a story for you.

Back of the book:

Queenie Dove is a self-proclaimed genius when it comes to the quintessential arts of survival and thievery. Daring, clever, and alluring, she has spent a lifetime developing the skills of an accomplished thief. Born into a criminal family in London's East End during the Great Depression, and trained by a group of women shoplifters during the Blitz, Queenie commits exploits ranging from petty street crime all the way to far more glamorous - and lucrative - heists. But giving birth to a daughter will make Queenie finally try to go straight - until the opportunity to take part in one last, audacious robbery tempts her back to the life of danger and excitement she once lived to the fullest.

Told in Queenie's captivating and singular voice, this richly colorful story and tis provocative denouement are steeped in questions of character and morality. Is Queenie a woman sinned against, or a sinner herself? Is she wicked through and through? In the spirit of Moll Flanders, Lucky Bunny is a vivid tale of trickery and adventure - and one which has a darker undertow of pain and heartbreak than its heroine prefers to admit to herself. Yes, luck often favors the Queen of Crime, but that is only part of her story.

My thoughts:

This story packs a lot of punch and was fabulously written. It's one of those books that had me GoodReading (I'm coining that phrase) her backlist, a lot of award winning or nominated books among them.  Lucky Bunny is getting a lot of nods as well.

The story is told from Queenie's perspective as she looks back in her life - and she tells you straight up that while she might embellish, the major facts are there.  Queenie likens her story more to Moll Flanders but I couldn't help but think A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.  I was surprised that quite a bit of the book centered around her as a child. But that was what sucked me into the story and made me really enjoy the book -- I adore young Queenie.  Like Francie Nolan, Queenie looks out after her younger brother, adores her often abusive and jailbird father, and has to be a mother in place of her own absentee alcoholic one.  So while no one forced her to turn to crime (and she was quite brilliant so she could have gone the way of Francie Nolan) I totally sympathized and understood why she went that direction.

It's no surprise that I love history -- so young Queenie's life in Blitz London was fascinating.  We see her getting shipped out to the country with her brother.  We see her coming back and eking her existence amidst the bombs, stealing and living quite well with the Green Bottles, an absolutely fabulous group of thieving ladies who helped raise Queenie.  There's also the tragic incident of the Bethnal Green tube station which I had never even heard of!

My only disappointment with the book is that after I had so much fun with the first part, the story sort of tapered off after that.  Which is funny because I've read a few reviews where some people had the opposite problem - slow start and then it picked up.  So it's all about perspective.  I also wanted more about the last heist (SPOILER if you click on link) which again was a historical event I had never heard of and was only regaled in the last twenty pages.  So fascinating though!

I think this book could appeal to a lot of different areas: if you like history, if you like social history or women's history, if you like fascinating character studies, or if you just like being entertained by a good yarn....


I found a different cover.  Isn't this gorgeous!  Which one do you like better?

You can also listen to an audio interview of Jill Dawson on the BBC Radio, Women's Hour

Jill’s Tour Stops

Tuesday, October 30th: Peppermint PhD
Thursday, November 1st: Unabridged Chick
Monday, November 5th: A Reader of Fictions
Wednesday, November 7th: A Library of My Own
Thursday, November 8th: Walking With Nora
Friday, November 9th: Tina’s Book Reviews
Monday, November 12th: The House of the Seven Tails
Tuesday, November 13th: West Metro Mommy
Wednesday, November 14th: Reflections of a Bookaholic
Thursday, November 15th: Jenny Loves to Read
Friday, November 16th: Creating Comfort

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Count of Monte Cristo Read-a-long

You all don't know how excited I am that the girls over at The Estella Society are doing The Count of Monte Cristo Read-a-long!  This is one of my all-time favorite books.  I've read it multiple times, made countless family members read it, and collect copies of it.  Yeah. Obsessed much? BUT -- it's been quite a few years and I haven't read it since I started blogging. So of course I am joining in.  I realize that being a mom and wife and all that goes into life I have limited time to read such a chunkster as well as my other books.  So I downloaded the audio book and am already on Chapter 7 -- whoohoo!

Just for fun, here's my stack of copies I own:

For some reason I can't find my original copy I got in high school - nothing special but it's irking me I can't find it. I might have loaned it out:
This is the inside of one of my old beat up copies I've acquired:

And the end paper of another old beat up copy:

I especially like finding old or unusual copies.  Although if anyone wants to get me this Barnes & Noble lovely I wouldn't stop you :)
It's also getting me in the mood to pick up Tom Reiss' new book about the real man behind the fictional story, Alexander Dumas' father:

Ever thought about reading this awesome classic?  Read it and want to read it again?  Join in!

Advent - James Treadwell

Title: Advent: A Novel
Author: James Treadwell
Hardcover: 448 pages
Publisher: Atria
Published date: July 2012
FTC: Requested from Atria

Atria Publishing company has a really cool Galley program they use and as a blogger I love seeing what they have available for request.  I picked three books and Advent was one of them.  I figured that a book with such a cool cover and the quote "Magic is rising" would be an awesome choice -- and it has a Deborah Harkness blurb on the cover too.  I was mostly right -- I loved most of the book but it kind of tapered off at the end.  This is going to be a trilogy so that's probably why I got that "eh?" feeling at the end.  I hate when trilogies do that.  Anyway -- for most of the book though I was HOOKED.  Let's see if I can blab about this one in any kind of coherent way...

The back of the book:

1537. A man hurries through city streets in a gathering snowstorm, clutching a box in one hand. He is Johann Faust, the greatest magician of his age. The box he carries contains a mirror safeguarding a portion of his soul and a small ring containing all of the magic in the world. Together, they comprise something unimaginably dangerous.

London, the present day. Fifteen-year-old Gavin Stokes is boarding a train to the countryside to live with his aunt. His school and his parents can't cope with him and the things he sees, things they tell him don't really exist. At Pendurra, Gavin finds people who are like him, who see things too. They all make the strange claim: magic exists, it's leaking back into our world, and it's bringing something terrible with it.

First in an astonishingly imaginative fantasy trilogy, Advent describes how magic was lost to humanity, and how a fifteen-year-old boy discovers that its return is his inheritance. It begins in a world recognizably our own, and ends an extraordinarily long way from where it started -- somewhere much bigger, stranger, and richer.

My thoughts:

Advent is a book mainly about Gavin Stokes and it's through his perspective we see events take place.  The story alternately flashes back in time to Johann Faust, the greatest magician in the world, who becomes a bit power crazed.  But it's Gavin's story that I loved and had me hooked.

Gavin kind of wants to be normal.  He's been seeing things he shouldn't for as long as he can remember.  His mom and especially his dad have no clue how to cope with what they see as childish antics so they ship him off to his kooky aunt who works at the odd country manor Pendurra.  (I know, another awesome story set in British manor -- The Little Stranger & The Orchid House.)  Gavin is an awesome character. I think if this book was ONLY about Gavin's journey growing up and discovering magic it would be one of my favorite books.  And to be clear, it's not a Harry Potter type of discovering magic -- no magic wands or spells....this is different, more real and definitely more terrifying.

While I wasn't as hooked by Johann Faust's story, I can see how it was needed.  And yes -- it's THAT Faust -- a real historical figure who is also the basis for a few plays where Faust makes a deal with the devil.  I kind of wish I had known more about the actual man and his legend before reading the story because it's really kind of weird.  There's actually a lot of the book towards the end that I think kind of went over my head -- legends and mythologies that I should maybe have known but really don't.  Let's just say that it starts to get weird -- like Pendurra is the site magic, legends, mythological creatures are starting to seep back into the world.

I also didn't like the way Advent ended.  The last eight pages, which weren't even the whole of the last chapter, took the reader to a whole different place.  Just a weird ending.  I get that it's going to be part of the next book but I think it should have been either sectioned off as an Afterward, a separate chapter at least, or left for the next book.

So it ended up being a tad bit of a disappointment -- mainly because for most of the book I LOVED it.  I just felt muddled at the end.  Sometimes I think that's the way I feel when I read a trilogy book.  You don't get that satisfying feeling at the end.  I also didn't like the Faust sections as well and a lot of the legend/mythological stuff kind of went over my head.

What do you think?  Does this book sound like a book you'd be interested in reading?  Do you like trilogies?  I think I'm going to give book #2 a try when it comes out and see where the story is going.

Here's an alternate cover that I don't like as much:

Also Reviewed By:

Serendipity Reviews

Thursday, November 1, 2012

R.I.P. VII Wrap Up

As usual I had a great time participating in Carl V's R.I.P. VII Experience. I still need to post some reviews but here's what all I read:

The Dark Unwinding - Sharon Cameron
Shadow and Bone - Leigh Bardugo
The Little Stranger - Sarah Waters
The Winter Ghosts - Kate Mosse (audio)
Advent - James Treadwell
The Merlot Murders - Ellen Crosby (audio)
Sister - Rosamund Lupton
Heat Wave - Richard Castle (audio)

I'll be looking forward to next year's Experience!  Just for fun here's a couple of photos.

Little Rocket last year as a pumpkin:

Little Rocket this year as a monkey: