Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Review: Crooked Stick Figures by Lee Thompson

I love a good short story.

Book Description
As an agent for the Child Protective Services, John McDonnell has seen his share of evil people and evil acts. But nothing has prepared him to face what's behind the door of his most recent assignment.

"He don't like you playing children's games," says the little girl who opened the door.

A voice inside him screams, Get out of here!

But it's already too late.

John McDonnell has been called to investigate a report for Child Protective Services.  He never knows what he's walking into with each new case.  Nothing could prepare him for his latest assignment.

Crooked Stick Figures is an excellent story full of atmosphere and suspense.  Thompson's storytelling is vivid and well paced.  This story is the first work I have read by Thompson, but his story Before Leonora Wakes is quickly approaching the top of the to be read pile.  In fact, I think it just jumped up a spot or three.

I got Crooked Stick Figures free through Darkside Digital.  If you like a creepy tale, take a moment to check it out!


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Monday, March 28, 2011

News: The Fourth Steig Larsson Book (Millennium Series)

Over the past year I have read rumors regarding a possible manuscript for the next book in Larsson's Millenium Series.  This morning a close friend of Larsson revealed details of the manuscript to the press.

What has really got me craving the next book is this:

Larsson confidant Kurdo Baksi told Swedish daily paper the Expressen that Camilla, the estranged twin sister of Millennium’s goth hacker heroine Lisbeth Salander, plays a major role in the fourth book.

Lisbeth's sister was the one unfinished piece of the Millenium Trilogy that I really, really wanted.  I can't imagine I'm alone in this. 

Larsson's girlfriend and his family have been in a constant battle over his estate.  The fate of this fourth book is dependent on their resolution since both sides claim ownership to the manuscript.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we will get to experience one more Larsson book after all.

Have you read the Larsson books?  Are you eager to read the next book?

For more information regarding the fourth book, please check out:

Details From Fourth ‘Dragon Tattoo’ Book Revealed and Rumors of the fourth 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' book surface


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Book Review: Quiet Anchorage by Ed Lynskey

Quiet Anchorage is a new cozy mystery by Ed Lynskey.

Book Description
Quiet Anchorage, Virginia, looks like paradise. When she's accused of murdering her fiance, however, the small town is anything but heavenly for Megan Connors. With her fingerprints on the murder weapon, it looks like an open-and-shut case, and Sheriff Fox, running for reelection and anxious to get credit for 'solving' a murder case, intends on ramming through charges and getting a conviction. Megan's only champions are her aging aunts. They don't believe she's guilty, but what can two senior citizens do against the powers of the state and the evidence against Megan?

Isabel and Alma Trumbo may be aging, even worried about memory loss, but they've read just about every mystery published in the past half-century. They're sure they've picked up the skills and knowledge they need to prove Megan's innocence. Starting with the town's gossips and loafers, then scaling up when the sexy ex-girlfriend of one of the Sheriff's deputies joins them, they search for alternate suspects, possible motives, and any evidence that might exonerate their niece.
When Isabel and Alma Trumbo's niece is arrested for murder, they decide to take the investigation into their own hands.  As avid mystery readers, they feel more than equipped to handle the job.  In fact, it's not the first case for them to take on in their small town of Quiet Anchorage.  Now they find themselves working against the sheriff who is up for re-election and needs this case to be open and shut.

Quiet Anchorage is an entertaining cozy mystery.  Isabel and Alma are outspoken southern women with a lot of humor and determination.  In Quiet Anchorage, they form a ladies detective agency which lends this book to become a series similar to "Murder She Wrote".  I don't know if Lynskey plans to do that, but I'd happily spend another day with Isabel and Alma.

Are you a fan of the amateur sleuth? I'd love some recommendations if you have any!

Review copy provided by author


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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Five Book Facts About Me

Today's Follow Friday question over at Parajunkee's View is:

Inspired by the inane twitter trend of #100factsaboutme, give us five BOOK RELATED silly facts about you.

1) My favorite pop-up book when I was little was of a haunted house.
2) I love when books give me the creeps.
3) I hate when books have dreams in them.
4) I only cry when reading a book if a dog is involved.
5) When I finish reading a book, it still looks brand new.
Book Blogger HopJennifer over at Crazy For Books asks: 

If you could physically put yourself into a book or series…which one would it be and why?

I would love to put myself in The Amber Spyglass! I did not want to leave that book.

I would visit that beautiful world Mary Malone stayed in. I would meet Lyra and Will.

I'd try to separate my daemon from myself so I could see what it looked like.
I hope everyone has a beautiful Friday! What's the weather like where you are? I can't wait to spend some time in the sunshine.


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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Book Review: Wither (Chemical Garden #1) by Lauren DeStefano

Wither is the first book in the new Chemical Garden series and the debut novel of Lauren DeStefano.

Book Description
By age sixteen, Rhine Ellery has four years left to live. She can thank modern science for this genetic time bomb. A botched effort to create a perfect race has left all males with a lifespan of 25 years, and females with a lifespan of 20 years. Geneticists are seeking a miracle antidote to restore the human race, desperate orphans crowd the population, crime and poverty have skyrocketed, and young girls are being kidnapped and sold as polygamous brides to bear more children.

When Rhine is kidnapped and sold as a bride, she vows to do all she can to escape. Her husband, Linden, is hopelessly in love with her, and Rhine can’t bring herself to hate him as much as she’d like to. He opens her to a magical world of wealth and illusion she never thought existed, and it almost makes it possible to ignore the clock ticking away her short life. But Rhine quickly learns that not everything in her new husband’s strange world is what it seems. Her father-in-law, an eccentric doctor bent on finding the antidote, is hoarding corpses in the basement. Her fellow sister wives are to be trusted one day and feared the next, and Rhine is desperate to communicate to her twin brother that she is safe and alive. Will Rhine be able to escape--before her time runs out?

Wither is the story of Rhine - a 16 year old girl who will assumably die at age 20.  There is a virus/genetic defect that kills females at 20 and males at 25. Rhine is kidnapped and forced to marry a wealthy 21 year old - who is also 4 years away from death.  Despite the consequences, Rhine is determined to escape her new life and return home to her twin brother.

First and foremost, I enjoyed reading this book.  I found it well written, fast paced, and atmospheric.  I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys the young adult dystopian genre.

I did, however, have a hard time suspending my disbelief.  I was left with many questions regarding the society, the characters, and the motivation behind the events taking place.  I think these questions would make for excellent book club discussions, but they also make it necessary for the reader to enter DeStefano's dystopia with an open mind and a willingness to let go of logic a little.

Are you a fan of dystopia?  I love it.  I'm not a huge fan of the trending series format - I prefer a resolved story, but I'm happy with all of the darker subject matter being published lately.

Review copy provided by publisher


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Monday, March 21, 2011

Book Review: A World Without Heroes by Brandon Mull (Beyonders #1)

A World without Heroes is the first book in a new middle grade series by Brandon Mull.

Book Description
Jason Walker has often wished his life could be a bit less predictable--until a routine day at the zoo ends with Jason suddenly transporting from the hippo tank to a place unlike anything he's ever seen. In the past, the people of Lyrian welcomed visitors from the Beyond, but attitudes have changed since the wizard emperor Maldor rose to power. The brave resistors who opposed the emperor have been bought off or broken, leaving a realm where fear and suspicion prevail.
In his search for a way home, Jason meets Rachel, who was also mysteriously drawn to Lyrian from our world. With the help of a few scattered rebels, Jason and Rachel become entangled in a quest to piece together the word of power that can destroy the emperor, and learn that their best hope to find a way home will be to save this world without heroes.

Brandon Mull must be a naturally funny guy.  I laughed out loud several times while reading this book.  There is more humor in the first half, but the subject matter grows more serious as the story progresses.

A World Without Heroes follows Jason - a typical 13 year old boy - as he enters a new world and inadvertently accepts a dangerous quest.  In his quest he discovers he's not the only one who mysteriously entered the world of Lyrian that day.  He is joined by Rachel, and together they must work to defeat the evil emperor and become heroes to a world that knows none.

A World Without Heroes is a fun adventure full of danger and suspense.  The world of Lyrian is easy for the reader to enter and join in the quest.  As a stand alone book, there is not enough resolution to be satisfied with the ending.  As the beginning of a series, however, it has successfully made me want to carry on with the rest of the series.  I recommend this series to fantasy fans who love a heroic quest.

Have you read anything by Brandon Mull?  This was my first book by him.  He has also written the young adult series Fablehaven.

Review copy provided by publisher


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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Blog Hop: What's in a Name

Today's Follow Friday question over at Parajunkee's View is:

How did you come up with your blog name?

I wanted to have a name that felt like a sanctuary. A Book Den, if you will. :)

Book Blogger HopJennifer over at Crazy For Books asks: 

Do you read only one book at a time, or do you have several going at once?

I usually have several going at one time - physical book, ebook, audiobook. I read a lot of genre fiction, but I usually have a classic and a non-fiction book going, too.

Happy Friday Hoppers! What are you doing this weekend? I hope you have a great time! I'm hoping to finally do a lot of nothing! (That never happens.)


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Book [Series] Review: His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman

I'm choosing to review all three books of the His Dark Materials series in one post instead of reviewing them separately.

The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials #1)

Book Description

In a landmark epic of fantasy and storytelling, Philip Pullman invites readers into a world as convincing and thoroughly realized as Narnia, Earthsea, or Redwall. Here lives an orphaned ward named Lyra Belacqua, whose carefree life among the scholars at Oxford's Jordan College is shattered by the arrival of two powerful visitors. First, her fearsome uncle, Lord Asriel, appears with evidence of mystery and danger in the far North, including photographs of a mysterious celestial phenomenon called Dust and the dim outline of a city suspended in the Aurora Borealis that he suspects is part of an alternate universe. He leaves Lyra in the care of Mrs. Coulter, an enigmatic scholar and explorer who offers to give Lyra the attention her uncle has long refused her. In this multilayered narrative, however, nothing is as it seems. Lyra sets out for the top of the world in search of her kidnapped playmate, Roger, bearing a rare truth-telling instrument, the compass of the title. All around her children are disappearing—victims of so-called "Gobblers"—and being used as subjects in terrible experiments that separate humans from their daemons, creatures that reflect each person's inner being. And somehow, both Lord Asriel and Mrs. Coulter are involved.

The first book of the series was the hardest read for me.  I'm not an avid fantasy reader, and sometimes it's hard for me to fully enter a world and "see" things properly while I read.  Even though I struggled through this one a bit, I never lost interest.  By the end I was fully invested in the characters - Lyra! - and ready to immediately pick up book 2.

The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials #2)

Book Description

Here is the highly anticipated second installment of Philip Pullman's epic fantasy trilogy, begun with the critically acclaimed The Golden Compass. Lyra and Will, her newfound friend, tumble separately into the strange tropical otherworld of CittĂ gazze, "the city of magpies," where adults are curiously absent and children run wild. Here their lives become inextricably entwined when Lyra's alethiometer gives her a simple command: find Will's father. Their search is plagued with obstacles--some familiar and some horribly new and unfathomable--but it eventually brings them closer to Will's father and to the Subtle Knife, a deadly, magical, ancient tool that cuts windows between worlds. Through it all, Will and Lyra find themselves hurtling toward the center of a fierce battle against a force so awesome that leagues of mortals, witches, beasts, and spirits from every world are uniting in fear and anger against it. This breathtaking sequel will leave readers eager for the third and final volume of His Dark Materials.

The second book of the series was set in a world much like our own.  This was a much easier read for me.  I was so hooked and loved the new characters Pullman introduced - Will and Mary Malone.

The Amber Spyglass (His Dark Materials #3)

Book Description

The Amber Spyglass brings the intrigue of The Golden Compass and The Subtle Knife to a heart-stopping end, making the final volume of His Dark Materials the most powerful of the trilogy.

Along with the return of Lyra, Will, Mrs. Coulter, Lord Asriel, Dr. Mary Malone, and Iorek Byrnison the armored bear, come a host of new characters: the Mulefa, mysterious wheeled creatures with the power to see Dust; Gallivespian Lord Roke, a hand-high spymaster to Lord Asriel; and Metatron, a fierce and mighty angel. So, too, come startling revelations: the painful price Lyra must pay to walk through the land of the dead, the haunting power of Dr. Malone's amber spyglass, and the names of who will live--and who will die--for love. And all the while, war rages with the Kingdom of Heaven, a brutal battle that--in its shocking outcome--will uncover the secret of Dust. Philip Pullman deftly brings the cliff-hangers and mysteries of His Dark Materials to an earthshattering conclusion--and confirms his fantasy trilogy as an undoubted and enduring classic.

The third book contained a world completely different than ours, but one I had absolutely no trouble losing myself in.  In fact, I didn't want to leave.

As stand alone books, these are good reads.  As a series, however, they become something great.  I ended the series with that ultimate feeling of having lost a friend.  I don't experience that often so I am quite fond of this series.  If you want to be captivated by something new, I highly recommend you check it out!

Have you read any of the His Dark Material books?  I love when I can lose myself in a new world and make new friends through a book!


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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Book Review: Gideon's Sword by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

Gideon's Sword is the first book in a new series by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child.

Book Description:

At twelve, Gideon Crew witnessed his father, a world-class mathematician, accused of treason and gunned down.

At twenty-four, summoned to his dying mother's bedside, Gideon learned the truth: His father was framed and deliberately slaughtered. With her last breath, she begged her son to avenge him.

Now, with a new purpose in his life, Gideon crafts a one-time mission of vengeance, aimed at the perpetrator of his father's destruction. His plan is meticulous, spectacular, and successful.

But from the shadows, someone is watching. A very powerful someone, who is impressed by Gideon's special skills. Someone who has need of just such a renegade.

For Gideon, this operation may be only the beginning . . .

I'm a fan of Preston and Child.  For years I have enjoyed their Pendergast series with Relic being one of my favorite all time reads.  I was excited to have the chance to read the debut of their new Gideon Crew series - Gideon's Sword.

I was hooked from page 2.  Gideon's Sword had a fantastic start with the story of Gideon's father.  Unfortunately the exciting first chapter turned out to be background information.  While the rest of Gideon's Sword did not disappoint, I was left longing for the full story of his father Melvin Crew.

Thankfully, Gideon has his own story to tell.  I do have some unanswered questions - several things seemed too easy for Crew to pull off - but I'm hoping we will learn more about Crew and his past as the series moves forward.

Gideon's Sword is fast paced and full of action.  If you haven't read Preston and Child yet, I highly recommend you check them out by either starting this Gideon Crew series or starting on their Pendergast series.  Either way, I think you'll come back around to this one.

Are you a Preston/Child fan?  I have a few Pendergast books I still need to catch up on.  I've loved every one that I've read.

Review copy provided by publisher


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