Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Review: How to Lead a Life of Crime

How to Lead a Life of Crime
How to Lead a Life of Crime by Kirsten Miller

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Flick came from a well to do family, but his family has a secret. His father likes to use his fists on his eldest son. When Flick's younger brother dies he runs away from the military school he has been attending and views his brother body. He believes his father killed Jude. Flick decides to stay on the streets until he is able to get back at his father. As a master thief, he doesn't have too much trouble supplying what he needs. On Christmas Day, he is offered the chance to earn $500 by breaking into an apartment and stealing a lease. This act was just a test. He is now offered the chance to attend Mandel Academy, the prestigious school his father attended. If it attends AND graduates, the headmaster will give him the proof that is needed to show his father killed his brother.

How to Lead a Life of Crime has so much to it, it is hard to sum it up in a review. Readers will need to be willing to put in time at the beginning of the book for all of the character development and story building. Miller takes her time ensuring the reader has the information needed to understand many complicated topics (politics, drug trafficking, corporate corruption and many more). I can see where some readers will be turned off by the amount of information being presented. If you are willing to the wade through the information, the underlying story is worth the time.

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Monday, July 29, 2013

Summer Throw Down: Week 4

We have now finished week 4 of the 2013 Summer Throw Down.  Once again it was a busy week, but I feel I was able to give adequate time to my reading and listening.  We only have 3 more days of this month and I have reached my monthly goal, and actually increased it because of my success.

Audio Book Goal: 5 books
Print Book Goal: 3 books

Audio Books Finished: 6 books
Print Books Finished:  4 books

Audio Books
Because It Is My Blood (Birthright, #2)     Dance with a Vampire (Vampire Kisses, #4)     The Coffin Club (Vampire Kisses, #5)

Croak (Croak, #1)     The Ocean at the End of the Lane     The World's Strongest Librarian: A Memoir of Tourette's, Faith, Strength, and the Power of Family

Print Books
The Dying Hours     Dead Lawyers Tell No Tales     The Love Dare for Parents

The Deepest Night (The Sweetest Dark, #2)

It was great to be over my goal for both categories.  Since the last portion isn't a full week, my final update is still up in the air.  Happy summer reading!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Review: The Deepest Night

The Deepest Night
The Deepest Night by Shana Abe

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Lora Jones is at the end of her first year at Iverson. She is unsure where she will be going during the summer months and if she will be allowed to return in the fall. When Armand Louis offers to turn his father’s estate into a convalescence home and invites Lora to be a nurse, her destiny continues to follow the path of the stars. See, Lora is a dr├íkon. Although she is still adjusting to what being a person with magical abilities means, she understands that there are powers in play beyond the human race. Her feelings for Armand are pushed to new limits when they are tasked with crossing enemy lines to enter war torn Germany to rescue his brother.

The Deepest Night picks up shortly after The Sweetest Dark ends plunging further into this historical time period. Shana Abe beautifully composes a book with a variety of points of view that flow easily from section to section. The romantic feelings between Lora and Mandy are constantly tearing at the characters and the reader will find themselves either cringing in anticipation or hoping for more to come. I found myself loving the characters I should love and despising the characters I should despise as the author designed. Who doesn't like to see the underdog be accepted for who she is and the mean girls to be shunned and put in their place. I loved the book and look forward to reading another book in the series and recommend the series to readers of historical fiction and romances. Although it could be deemed a fantasy novel, I feel the other two genres are a stronger influence.

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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Review: The Dying Hours

The Dying Hours
The Dying Hours by Mark Billingham

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Tom Thorne has recently been removed from the Murder Squad and is now back in uniform. As he is adjusting to his new restricted authority, he questions a suicide that he believes is murder. The Murder Squad investigator tells him that his concerns are unfounded and reminds him that murder is no longer part of his job description. What does Thorne decide to do? He recruits friends to help and decides to investigate on his own. The list of suicides that he believes are murder is starting to grow and the race to catch the person responsible is getting trickier by the minute.

The Dying Hours is the eleventh book in the Tom Thorne series. As a person who has not read the first ten books, I will assure the reader that they are not necessary to understand and enjoy this volume. Although there are a lot of references to previous cases and relationships, they are not necessary for the case at hand. Billingham did change the point of view often. Although most POV changes took place at chapters, the chapter heading did not tell you who the perspective was from and the reader needs to pay attention to follow the story line. I would recommend this book to readers who are interested in murder mysteries, but I forewarn the reader that the ending hints at an additional book (or more).

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Monday, July 22, 2013

Summer Throw Down: Week 3

Wow! It is hard to believe we are past the 3 week mark with the 2013 Summer Throw Down.  I have had a busy week and had to forgo my TV time in order to get enough reading and listening in, but I was able to reach both of my goals.  I actually surpassed my audio book goal, but a couple of the books were only 4 hrs.

Audio Book Goal: 5 books
Print Book Goal: 3 books

Audio Books Finished: 7 books
Print Books Finished:  3 books

Audio Books
Eleanor & Park     Vampire Kisses (Vampire Kisses, #1)     Troubletwisters (Troubletwisters, #1)

All These Things I've Done (Birthright, #1)     Sabriel (Abhorsen,  #1)     Kissing Coffins (Vampire Kisses, #2)

Vampireville (Vampire Kisses, #3)

Print Books
Deadly Harvest: A Detective Kubu Mystery     Skin     Trafficked

This week coming up has a lot planned.  Let's hope I can meet my goals once again.  If you are interested in some of my reviews not on the blog, please visit my on Goodreads:  .

Friday, July 19, 2013

Review: Trafficked

Trafficked by Kim Purcell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hannah is helping support her grandmother and herself after her parents are killed in a cafe bombing. A friend of her aunt offers her a chance to be a nanny in America and Hannah thinks it is a great opportunity. She knows that girls sometimes are taken to foreign countries to be prostitutes, but this is America and it must be safe. As she crosses the border and begins her progress to her new home she starts to have doubts. Her real papers are taken and she is given fake documents. She isn't allowed to leave the house and her room is in the garage. Trafficked takes our real world issues and brings it close to home. We sometimes hear of girls (and boys/men/women) being kidnapped and held against their will as a sex slave, but there are other reasons for human trafficking and they are just as terrifying. Teens and adults alike will enjoy this read and most will begin to think hard about these scary issues. Purcell does a wonderful job capturing the fear and sense of helplessness Hannah has to overcome.

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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Review: Skin

Skin by Donna Jo Napoli

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s the first day of her junior year and Sep is staring at herself in the mirror. She isn’t worried about her hair or her summer green feet, she took care of those. For some reason, her lips are white! Not pale; her lips have no color at all. With her olive brown skin, it is obvious. Her mother tells her she still has to go to school so she grabs her pink lip-gloss from when she was 10 and suffers through her first day jitters. After seeing the doctor it is determined she has Vitiligo. It isn’t contagious, it isn’t life threating, there is no treatment and it will spread. While the spots are small and easy to hide with clothing and make-up, Sep decides to live it up. She starts dating Joshua and amps up the relationship before everyone discovers she is a monster and she is shunned. Joshua and Jazz Dance Club are her outlets and her body and soul both develop in new ways.

Skin addresses many teen issues such as acceptance, appearance and friendship that are found in young adult novels and spins additional questions about the same topics. Will people around Sep still be willing to interact with her after they see her skin condition? Will her friends stand by her? Is beauty really more than skin deep? Napoli explores Vitiligo and the stigma many suffer, but she takes Sep further than just the disorder. The characters have depth and real life issues that most readers will relate to. I recommend this book to teens and adults whether they usually read YA or realistic fiction as a matter of course.

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Monday, July 15, 2013

Summer Throw Down: Week 2

I have now completed week two of the Summer Throw Down and have met one goal and exceeded the other.

Goals: 5 Audio Books & 3 Print Books

Achieved:  5 Audio Books & 5 Print Books

As I mentioned last week, I was half way through two books when the week started, so although I finished 5 print books it was more like 4.

So, what did I read and listen to this week?

Audio Books:
Extraordinary     The Last Guardian (Artemis Fowl, #8)     A Monster Calls

The Betrayal     Fearless Fourteen (Stephanie Plum, #14)

Print Books: 
Raven Flight (Shadowfell, #2)     Carved in Darkness     Black Boy White School

Confessions of a Raging Perfectionist     Midnight Frost (Mythos Academy, #5)

As I look back at what I read each week, it amazes me of the wide spectrum of reading material I enjoy.  Of course there are some things I don't really enjoy, but if I am asked to read it, I find I can get through almost anything.

This week's reading is up for grabs.  I'm about one third of the way through a print book and it will probably take 2 more days to finish.  I really don't think I will get through extra print books this week.

See you all next week!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Review: Midnight Frost

Midnight Frost
Midnight Frost by Jennifer Estep

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Gwen Frost is still adjusting after the last battle with the Reapers. She isn't allowed anywhere without her guard nearby and her heart is still broken about Logan staying away. Of course, trouble won’t stay away for long. When a Reaper tries to poison her inside the Library of Antiquities and someone else drinks it instead, Gwen and fellow Mythos Academy students and staff leave in search of the flower that may be a cure, but is also definitely a Reaper trap. Nike’s Champion must also learn some troubling truths about her family and continues to wonder who she can trust.

Midnight Frost is the fifth book in the Mythos Academy series. Readers anticipating a conclusion will be disappointed, but if this volume is any gauge of the length of this series, there are several more books to come. Estep did a smooth job refreshing reader’s memories on characters and situations, but there was not enough meat to this story. I enjoyed the book and will be recommending it to all my readers, but I will need to encourage some of my readers to wait and read it until the next book (Killer Frost) is released. Although I am sure Midnight Frost has many important components to the final story that I won’t give away in the review, I believe readers will be better served consuming this volume with the next.

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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Review: A Monster Calls

A Monster Calls
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Conor has been having the same nightmare every night since his mother started her treatments. In this nightmare there is a dark and dangerous monster. When an ancient monster appears after midnight one night, Conor wonders why it is a different monster. This monster tells him that he will tell Conor three stories, and then Conor must tell him one. Each story has a strange truth and Conor is not sure if he wants the monster to return or not. All of this occurs while his mother is in the hospital fighting for her life.

Patrick Ness takes a book idea by Siobhan Dawd and weaves his own story from the leavings. The book that grows from these seeds is a gripping tale with a lot of thought provoking ideas and teen concerns. A Monster Calls is about more than just the monster. It is about coping with a family that is being held together by a thread and friends that are not really friends when the need arises. What will Conor learn from the monster he has called? Will the treatments help his mother? Can he tell himself and the monster THE TRUTH!

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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Review: Raven Flight

Raven Flight
Raven Flight by Juliet Marillier

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Toward the end of Shadowfell, Neryn finally found the rebel group she was looking for and accepted that she was a Caller. Now we find her building her strength and preparing for the next task. She must locate the Guardians and be trained as a Caller. Unfortunately, these four Guardians are no longer on friendly terms with humans and Neryn must prove to them and herself that she is worthy of the training they can provide. If she can learn the four lessons presented, then maybe, just maybe the rebels will be able to take back Alban from King Keldec.

Raven Flight finds Neryn on a time limit. Not only must she complete her training before she can fully control her Caller gift, but fellow leaders have placed a deadline for the direct attach against the king. If Neryn wants to be ready in time, she must complete two of her training sessions before winter. Roads are not safe for anyone, especially two women, even if one is a trained fighter. Of course Flint still has a vital role to play in the rebellion, and Neryn must trust her instincts that he is on their side. Readers of Shadowfell will not be disappointed in the second book in the series. Marillier takes the world building she already created and weaves new threads of folklore into it. The variety of Good Folk introduced is fascinating without being distracting. Many second books in a series fall flat, but Raven Flight soars above the norm and brings the reader closer to the prize to come.

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Monday, July 8, 2013

Summer Throw Down - Week 1

OK, I have completed week one of the Summer Throw Down and have exceeded one goal and fell short of another.  

Goals: 5 Audio Books & 3 Print Books

Achieved:  8 Audio Books & 2 Print Books

I think I will meet and/or exceed my goal this week.  I am currently half way through two different print books, which means I would only need one additional book to meet that goal.

So, what did I read and listen to this week?

Audio Books:
The Fire (Witch and Wizard, #3)     The Atlantis Complex (Artemis Fowl, #7)     You Had Me at Woof: How Dogs Taught Me the Secrets of Happiness    
 Redemption (Redemption, #1)    The Brotherhood (Precinct 11)     Lean Mean Thirteen (Stephanie Plum, #13)      
The Cydonian Pyramid (The Klaatu Diskos, #2)     Hunger for God

Print Books:
The Immortal Von B.     Beautiful Music for Ugly Children

It is not too late to set a goal and join the Summer Throw Down: 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

ALA 2013 - Chicago

On Saturday June 29th, I was able to visit the ALA 2013 Exhibit Hall with two coworkers.  We were lucky enough to be close (it was in Chicago) and thanks to Demco, we were able to get free Exhibit Hall passes.  There were so many "best parts" that I thought I would share the highlights.

Many vendors enjoyed our "got books?" t-shirt.  It made us noticed and we got lots of smiles.

Authors Visited


Lois Lowry was our first stop.  
We got luck (actually we had a plan) and were the 5th, 6th and 7th person in line!


Laurie Halse Anderson


Nancy Werlin


Mike Mullin is an Indiana author I have met before. 
If you have not read the first book, Ashfall, you need to read it now!


Gene Luen Yang and Thien Pham are a great writer/illustrator team.  
This is the best signature.  If you notice, Pham drew me into the signature with two of the characters.

 I ended up with 15 signed copies

And 58 books total!

Characters Visited


AWE Mascot 

           L. Ron Hubbard Pirates (Argh!) 



Joe Cool (Snoopy)

Star Wars (May the force be with me)

All of us were tired when we left.  We made three trips back to the truck to drop off our swag.  Between books, posters, buttons, pins and information we all had FOUR bags (not including the bag we carried our personal items in).  There was barely room for all three of us to ride home. :)