Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Teaser Tuesday Nov. 25

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

Open to a random page.
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My teaser is from Orphan Train: A Novel by Christina Baker Kline

"They call this an orphan train, children, and you are lucky to be on it. You are leaving behind a place full of ignorance, poverty, and vice for the nobility of country life."

Monday, November 24, 2014

(65) The Wrath of Angels: A Charlie Parker Thriller

Title: The Wrath of Angels: A Charlie Parker Thriller by John Connolly
Publisher: Pocket Books
Pages: 528
Format: Paperback
Genre: Mystery/thriller/suspense

Synopsis: Nature has to be held back, and the trees kept to their domain. The trees . . . and what dwells among them. 

Deep in the Maine woods, a wrecked plane is discovered. It was never reported missing, and there are no bodies, but what it conceals is powerful beyond comprehension: a record of those who have struck a deal with the devil.

A new battle is about to commence in the war between light and darkness, and the list proves to be a deadly weapon. While private detective Charlie Parker fears his own name is there, he is certain that it must be secured from evil. For others, too, have joined the search: a beautiful, scarred woman with a taste for killing; a silent child who remembers his own death; and a serial killer known as the Collector. But the woods, too, are preparing, for other secrets lurk within their depths. . . .

Someone survived the crash. Something survived. And now it waits.

Review: I love this series.  It is violent, twisted, scary and dark but for some reason it has sucked me in. This book really delves into the supernatural aspects of this series.  The struggle between light and dark, the fight with fallen angels who are not friends of humans.  You also learn the origins of one of the most terrifying serial killers and where Charlie may fit into the whole strange series of events that started in the first book and has continued through it all.

If you haven't read any of the other Charlie Parker books this one may leave you scratching your head.  It really relies heavily on characters and events that happened in other books.  I think this one was one of the darkest so far but I loved it. A plane crash, a satchel full of money, a mysterious list and a bunch of creepy characters hunting for the downed plane all lead you on a violent crazy race to be the first to find the plane and discover its secrets.  Its a wild ride from page 1.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Teaser Tuesday Nov. 11

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

Open to a random page.
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My teaser comes from The Wrath of Angels: A Charlie Parker Thriller (Charlie Parker Mysteries) by John Connolly

"Because the last word that my mother whispered to my father after the man fled was your name - 'when the time comes, tell the detective. Tell Charlie Parker."- and that in turn was the last thing he whispered to me after he told us the story of the plane in the woods."

Monday, November 10, 2014

(64) And the Mountains Echoed

Title: And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Format: Audio Book
Hours: 14 hours 1 minute
Narrator: Khaled Hosseini, Navid Negahban, Shohreh Aghdashloo
Genre: Fiction

Synopsis: An unforgettable novel about finding a lost piece of yourself in someone else.

A novel about how we love, how we take care of one another, and how the choices we make resonate through generations. In this tale revolving around not just parents and children but brothers and sisters, cousins and caretakers, Hosseini explores the many ways in which families nurture, wound, betray, honor, and sacrifice for one another; and how often we are surprised by the actions of those closest to us, at the times that matter most. Following its characters and the ramifications of their lives and choices and loves around the globe—from Kabul to Paris to San Francisco to the Greek island of Tinos—the story expands gradually outward, becoming more emotionally complex and powerful with each turning page.

Review: So many reviews of this Audio book commented on how difficult it was to understand the narrators which I didn't find to be the case at all.  I feel like the accent of the narrators added to the story and gave it a richness that may have been missing if it was read by someone with an American accent.  The narrators are from the region that this book is set so it works well.

The story itself twists and turns and if you stop listening for too long you may find yourself a bit lost in the story.  There are many characters and many different time frames to sift through so keeping a consistent listen keeps the continuity.

Sad and haunting Hosseini brings to life the richness and excellent story telling of this region. Choices in life have complex consequences on everyone who comes into contact with the participants.  It shows how we are all connected by our experiences. Beautifully written and woven together, haunting and poetic.  While I didn't enjoy this as much as the Kite Runner its still a well written story.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

(63) The Rise of Nine (Lorien Legacies)

Title: The Rise of Nine (Lorien Legacies) by Pittacus Lore
Publisher: Harper Audio
Format: Audio Book
Narrator: Neil Kaplan, Devon Sorvari, Marisol Ramirez
Time: 10 hours 8 minutes
Genre: YA / Fantasy

Synopsis: The Mogadorians who destroyed the planet Lorien continue to hunt down the Garde, the small group of Loric survivors who have taken refuge on Earth. The Garde must come together. They are Lorien and Earth’s only hope.

During the dangerous mission at the Mogadorian base in West Virginia, John found and rescued Nine. But even with their combined powers, special abilities known as Legacies, the pair barely escaped with their lives—and they lost Sam in the process.

In order to save our world and their own, John and Nine must join forces with Six, and Seven who have been battling the Mogadorians in Spain, and who are now trying to locate Number Eight in India.

Power in numbers will save us all.

Review: This book didn't hold my attention as much as The Power of Six but it does seem to be tying things together. With Four and Nine separated from Eight, Six, Seven and Ten, the story flips back and forth between the two locations and the two story lines. The end of the book is much better than the beginning but it just doesn't hold the same appeal.  It seems to be held together with pointless action and a weak plot although by the end it seems the writer remembered what he was trying to do not only did it pick up but it kept me wanting to know more.

The book seems to just end which is a little strange.  Then there is a strange addition to the ending where we are apparently learning more about the Lorien children on earth directly from Pittacus Lore and recordings that were apparently "just found". It gives a little background on several of the guard.

I'm hoping that the next book will be a bit better but it seems that each one loses something instead of gaining it.

(62) Boyfriends with Girlfriends

Title: Boyfriends with Girlfriends By Alex Sanchez
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pages: 224
Format: Hardcover
Genre: YA, LGBT

Synopsis: Sergio is bisexual, but his only real relationship was with a girl. Lance has always known he was gay, but he’s never had a real boyfriend. When the two of them meet, they have an instant connection—but will it be enough to overcome their differences?

Allie’s been in a relationship with a guy for the last two years—but when she meets Kimiko, she can’t get her out of her mind. Does this mean she’s gay? Or bi? Kimiko, falling hard for Allie, is willing to stick around and help Allie figure it out.

Review: First let me say I love Alex Sanchez.  I haven't read of book of his that I didn't like and this was no exception.  I breezed through this in a few hours.  I loved it based on its story, not the writing.  He has written better books but this is a topic that really isn't discussed.

Sanchez really seems to grasp the angsty teenage craziness as well as the confusion that sometimes comes while trying to define sexuality.  He does this in a way that is respectful to whatever label you choose to identify with and opens up a whole world of discussion and thoughtfulness on the topic. There aren't a lot of books out there about bisexuality so I was glad to see that this seemed to be the main topic of this book.

Bisexuality is so often misunderstood by both the heterosexual community and the homosexual community. This book really brought the discussion of bisexuality out into the open. Being bi is often labeled as fence sitting and I am so happy that there are books like this out there for youth who are questioning whether they are gay, straight or bi.

Another big plus to Sanchez's books is that the characters aren't always white.  Gotta love diversity in YA books.  While the writing didn't seem up to par with Sanchez's other books I loved it anyway.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

After the Ending Giveaway & Author interview

The Authors of The Ending Series have been gearing up to start book four, Before The Dawn, which they will begin writing in January. In the meantime, Team Lindsey is  gearing up for the holiday season, and they have some awesome Ending Series giveaways.

The Prizes:
  • (20) After The Ending (book one) ebooks
  • Grand prize--series ebook collection and audiobooks, including:
  1. After The Ending, book one
  2. Into The Fire, book two
  3. Out Of The Ashes, book three
  4. The Ending Beginnings prequel novellas--the six short-story compilation
  5. After The Ending and Into The Fire Audiobooks
  • Second place prize--the Ending Series audiobooks (After The Ending and Into The Fire)

Author Interview with Lindsey Fairleigh (LF) & Lindsey Pogue (LP)

Did you always want to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?

LF: No. When I was younger, and during some of college, I wanted to be an Egyptologist.
I’m still not quite sure why, but I decided to apply to teaching Masters programs rather than
archaeology or Egyptology PhD programs and ended up teaching middle school for a few years.
I don’t regret any of the career choices I’ve made because they’ve led me to discover that writing
is exactly what I should be doing. Sometime down the road I may fit in that Egyptology PhD as

LP: I always loved writing and dreamed of the day I could live the life of an author. However,
I’ve always been a realistic person, perhaps to a fault. I went to school for degrees that were
practical and had jobs that were functional, but I never really found my niche; radio, journalism,
event management, fund raising, personal assistant...all jobs left me wanting. After the death
of someone close to me, I started to ask myself what my regrets would be if I died tomorrow.
Knowing I would regret compromising my dream to be a writer, I decided to do something about it.

Which of your books were easier/harder to write than the others?

LF: For me, writing the second books in both our Ending Series and in my solo Echo Trilogy has
been a lot easier than writing the first books because I already knew the characters so well. That
being said, I made the silly decision to work on two completely different series at the same time,
which sometimes leads to some character and setting confusion in the ol’ noggin.

LP: Although we've researched viruses and some of our settings in order to make The Ending
series more “realistic” and somewhat plausible, we’ve been able to take a lot of liberties in our
storytelling. While I can definitely use creative license in my new project, Wrecked, it’s proving
to be much more of a process since I’m researching regency lifestyle, how to survive on a
deserted island, the clothes aristocrats wear and how they talk, healing properties in plants...the
list goes on. It’s definitely a challenge, but I’m loving the journey!

What can we expect from you in the future? ie More books of the same genre? Books of a different genre?

LF: I can’t imagine ever writing anything that doesn’t include an element of the fantastical. I find
that I quite enjoy exploring the boundaries of real and unreal. I also can’t imagine ever writing
anything completely devoid of a romance storyline, though I would bet that it will usually take
a backseat to whatever the main storyline is (as in After The Ending, Into the Fire, and Echo Prophecy)

LP: Oh boy. I have so many notebooks filled with story ideas that I’d love to pursue, I hope
that one day I can actually get them all down on paper from start to finish. Like LF, all of
them will have a romantic element to them, but I see myself exploring a variety of genres like
contemporary romance, maybe more science fiction, new adult, and historical fiction.

What genre would you place your books into?

LF: Science Fiction Romance. Specifically, Post-apocalyptic Romance for The Ending Series
and Time Travel Romance for the Echo Trilogy. Though the latter also fits quite well in
Paranormal Romance despite its lack of vampires, witches, fae, angels, or shapeshifters.

LP: I think The Ending series could also be considered New Adult, which is a genre I plan on writing more books in.

Where do you get your book plot ideas from? What/Who is your inspiration?

LF: My crazy brain and the characters who live inside my head. I honestly don’t know where
they come from—possibly from my crazy vivid dreams, I suppose. Team plotting is one of the
best parts of co-writing. LP and I usually spend several evenings brainstorming (with wine, of
course!) before we start writing the next book in The Ending Series.

LP: I actually get my ideas from observing the world around me or “staring” as my fiancĂ©
calls it. Whether it’s television, books, the news, the couple sitting beside me in a restaurant
having dinner, I’m always noting interesting story ideas and plot twists to use in the projects I’m working on.

Do you read all the reviews of your book/books?

LF: It depends. I read all of the reviews on a new release to gauge reader reaction. When I’m
working on the next book in a series, I don’t read any negative reviews of the earlier books
because I don’t want any knee-jerk reaction I might have to influence the direction of the book
I’m working on. After all, authors write for the readers who love their books, not for those
who don’t. Haha...I think the funniest (to us) negative review After The Ending received went
something along the lines of: this book would be good if it didn’t have the emotional drama,
superhuman abilities, or romance. Which pretty much is everything that makes The Ending
Series unique. It’s definitely not a tough-guy hardcore guns-a-blazin’ post-apocalyptic tale,
and I think that catches some people off-guard because there aren’t many books in the Post-
apocalyptic genre that aren’t like that.

LP: Agreed 100%. Was for negative reviews, some criticisms can be helpful, others are can be
cruel. It’s one thing to read them initially and get a feel for the overall success of your book, but
it stops there. However, the good reviews are always worth reading

Would you ever ask a reviewer to change their review if it was not all positive about your book/books?

LF: Absolutely not.

LP: Ditto

Are there any hidden messages or morals contained in your books? (Morals as in like
Aesops Fables type of "The moral of this story is..")

LF: It’s not really hidden, but we started off writing After The Ending wanting to convey the
idea that things like friendship, love, and hope are what make surviving in post-apocalyptia
worth all of the effort.

LP: We definitely wanted to write science fiction that had emotion in it, that was more realistic
to the human condition. People get scared, they fall down, they question who they are and what
they can handle before they get up and deal with life. We wanted Zoe and Dani to be “real”.

How does the writing process work with two authors?

LF: It’s pretty straight forward the way we do it. I write Dani’s and Mase’s perspectives while
LP write’s Zoe’s perspective. I think the biggest complication is having to mesh timelines,
especially when the perspectives are in the same location.

LP: I have a feeling that Before The Dawn (book four) will be a bit more complicated. Not only
is The Ending Series coming to an end (no pun intended), but like Dani and Zoe first started out,
LF and I live in different states. So, that means that working so closely together, while being so
far away will prove a new obstacle. But I know all will work itself out when we start writing in

Do you ever disagree on the direction of a character or the plot?

LF: Not that I can think of. Usually if one of us has an idea that is different from what we’d been
intending, we discuss it, where it could take the character/story, and how it would change events
in the fictional world down the road. It usually starts with a “Wait...what if...” and then ends
with the story being that much better.

LP: Plus, we’ve gotten really good at taking a step back from the story and our execution to
listen to our intuition. We seem to agree on each other’s input naturally, and I think that stems
from being equally invested in the world we’ve created together...and the fact that we’re such
good friends and generally operating on the same wave length.

Do you write alone as a sole author of a book too? If so which do you enjoy most?

LF: I do—I write Echo Trilogy on my own. I don’t really think I enjoy one more than the other.
They’re just different.

LP: In the near future, I’ll be finishing up my first solo novel, Wrecked, which is a scandalous
Jane Austen story meets Swiss Family Robinson—historical romance with adventure and
survival. It’s so much fun to write, but it’s also a lot of work getting to know new characters
and creating a new, lavish, and colorful world. But at the same time, Zoe and Jake are knocking
around in my brain, wanting to get down on paper, so their equally exciting for me as well.

Do you enjoy writing with another author more than writing alone?

LF: In some ways, very much so, yes. Writing with LP is sort of like having a security blanket
or knowing there’s one of those giant air pillows at the bottom of a long drop (like they use for
movie stunt people). Just knowing she’s by my side makes me braver and my skin thicker. It’s
entirely possible that I’m slightly co-dependent.

LP: There’s definitely something to be said for having a partner in crime. It’s a really great
feeling knowing that there’s someone there who is equally invested and therefore brutally honest
when it comes to decision making. More importantly, there’s someone to celebrate and giggle
with, which are both very important.

Where can readers follow you?

The Ending Series website: http://www.theendingseries.com/

Lindsey Fairleigh’s website: http://www.lindseyfairleigh.com/

Lindsey Pogue’s website: http://www.lindseypogue.com/

Teaser Tuesday 11/4/14

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
Grab your current read.
Open to a random page.
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page.
(make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My Teaser is from Finding Zoe: A Deaf Woman's Story of Identity, Love, and Adoption By Brandi Rarus:

"Everyone seemed angry and upset, and their hands were flailing a mile a minute. It was quiet pandemonium"

Monday, November 3, 2014

(61) Finding Zoe: A deaf woman's story of identity, love and adoption

Title: Finding Zoe: A Deaf Woman's Story of Identity, Love, and Adoption by Brandi Rarus & Gail Harris
Publisher: BenBella Books
Pages: 254 pages
Format: ebook
Genre: Adoption / Deaf Culture

Synopsis: Brandi Rarus was just 6 when spinal meningitis took away her hearing. Because she spoke well and easily adjusted to lip reading, she was mainstreamed in school and socialized primarily in the hearing community. Brandi was a popular, happy teen, but being fully part of every conversation was an ongoing struggle. She felt caught between two worlds—the Deaf and the hearing.

In college, Brandi embraced Deaf Culture along with the joys of complete and effortless communication with her peers. Brandi went on to become Miss Deaf America in 1988 and served as a spokesperson for her community. It was during her tenure as Miss Deaf America that Brandi met Tim, a leader of the Gallaudet Uprising in support of selecting the university’s first Deaf president. The two went on to marry and had three hearing boys—the first non-deaf children born in Tim’s family in 125 years.

Brandi was incredibly grateful to have her three wonderful sons, but couldn't shake the feeling something was missing. She didn’t know that Zoe, a six-month-old Deaf baby girl caught in the foster care system, was desperately in need of a family unafraid of her different needs. Brandi found the answer to her prayers when fate brought her new adopted daughter into her life.

Review:This was not only a book about adoption but also one of self acceptance. Brandi struggled with her deafness, ultimately coming to terms with it and embracing deaf culture. After giving birth to 3 boys Brandi still yearned for a girl and had applied to adopt from China when they were called about a baby in foster care with severe hearing loss.

This book is broken into 3 different parts.  The first is the story of Brandi, becoming deaf at age 6, struggling with her identity and then acceptance, marriage and children. The second part of the book focuses on Jess, Zoe's birth mother and her story of finding out she was pregnant, deciding what to do and embracing adoption. Finding a family only to have the birth father fight for custody and the adoptive parents decide that they couldn't parent a child with hearing loss, leading her to again make a choice to parent or find a new family.  It is also the story of the birth father, whose stories often go untold.  You learn about his emotions and the reasons behind his choices.  The final part revolved around after Brandi and her family adopt Zoe and their relationship with her birth families.

I really enjoyed this book.  It had me hooked from the very beginning.  Learning about Brandi's struggles, reading about the Birth parents and finally learning how it all came together in the end.  I loved that everything came full circle and it was great having all the different perspectives.  I wasn't too psyched about some of the adoption agency's practices but I'm glad things worked out in the end. Highly recommended.
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