Monday, October 31, 2011

Zompacolypse 2011 Trick-or-Treat Hop!

Paranormal Wastelands

I just love LOVE Halloween and especially love all the events that always occur around the book blogosphere during this time. With that being said, I am READY to host my first ever giveaway. It is US/Canada ONLY. Ends at midnight, November 1st.

Continue reading to enter to win a paperback of Richelle Mead's "Succubus Blues," the first book in her best-selling Georgia Kincaid series.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Review: Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman

Title: Saving CeeCee Honeycutt
Author: Beth Hoffman
Publisher: Penguin Books
Genre: Chick Lit, Southern Lit
Rating:4/5

Why I picked it: I generally really enjoy Southern Lit, and this was a bargain buy from Amazon.

Synopsis: Twelve-year-old CeeCee Honeycutt is in trouble. For years, she has been the caretaker of her psychotic mother, Camille-the tiara-toting, lipstick-smeared laughingstock of an entire town-a woman trapped in her long-ago moment of glory as the 1951 Vidalia Onion Queen. But when Camille is hit by a truck and killed, CeeCee is left to fend for herself. To the rescue comes her previously unknown great-aunt, Tootie Caldwell.

In her vintage Packard convertible, Tootie whisks CeeCee away to Savannah's perfumed world of prosperity and Southern eccentricity, a world that seems to be run entirely by women. From the exotic Miz Thelma Rae Goodpepper, who bathes in her backyard bathtub and uses garden slugs as her secret weapons, to Tootie's all-knowing housekeeper, Oletta Jones, to Violene Hobbs, who entertains a local police officer in her canary-yellow peignoir, the women of Gaston Street keep CeeCee entertained and enthralled for an entire summer.
Review: There is something about a book that is oozing with Southern charm that I can't deny. Maybe it's the foreign-ness of that kind of society that never fails to draw me in, or maybe it's the rich descriptions of a slower kind of life, spent sipping sweet tea on a covered porch. Whatever it may be, when I saw "Saving CeeCee Honeycutt," in the bargain section at Amazon, I knew I just had to read it.

The book is often compared to "Secret Life of Bees," which was darling and definitely fit the "Southern Lit" criteria. Both protagonists are young women who are on the cusp of adulthood and discover much about life and family after spending a summer down in the South with very strong female role models.  In CeeCee's world, these women are from all walks of life and of all different races.  As we follow CeeCee on her journey into acceptance with who is she and who her mother was, these women play an enormous role in getting her to that point.

What I really enjoyed most about this book was Hoffman's writing. Her descriptions were so rich and sweet! I really regret not tabbing the pages that had these right lines on them, so that I could go back to them later and just re-absorb the wonderful sentences.

Hoffman really did a great job of balancing the different relationships in the book, without making any of the many characters "one note." Each woman in the book can hold her own and I'd be interested to learn more about them all. My favorite was the lovable character of Oletta, who is the housekeeper in CeeCee's new home. With her as one of the primary character, the very real subject matter of  racial tension was touched upon, but in a way as to not overtake the core of the story - which was about the growth of a young girl.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this book to fans of other books such as "The Help." It was a short and sweet read that stuck with me.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Review: The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

Title: The Replacement
Author: Brenna Yovanoff
Publisher: Razor Bill
Genre:  YA, Fantasy, Paranormal, Suspense
Rating: 4/5

Why I picked it: Loved the cover and wanted a more "Halloween"-ish read.

Synopsis: Mackie Doyle is not one of us. Though he lives in the small town of Gentry, he comes from a world of tunnels and black murky water, a world of living dead girls ruled by a little tattooed princess. He is a Replacement, left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago. Now, because of fatal allergies to iron, blood, and consecrated ground, Mackie is fighting to survive in the human world.

Mackie would give anything to live among us, to practice on his bass or spend time with his crush, Tate. But when Tate's baby sister goes missing, Mackie is drawn irrevocably into the underworld of Gentry, known as Mayhem. He must face the dark creatures of the Slag Heaps and find his rightful place, in our world, or theirs.

Review: Even before I heard of "The Replacement," I was intrigued by Brenna Yovanoff after reading about her upcoming book "The Space Between." After seeing the cover for "The Replacement," I knew I had to read it and what better time to do so than during the Halloween season?

The story centers on Mackie, who is a replacement (changeling - the baby of two mystical creatures like faeries or goblins). Although left in the crib to a new family, Mackie is embraced by his human family and loved as if he was their born son. Their love, though, cannot stop Mackie from feeling as if he doesn't belong. It also cannot stop him from slowly dying in the human world.

While the theme of love and family is strong in this book, it never comes across as cheesy or pandering to the YA-set. The bonds between Mackie, his parents, and his sister, feel natural. It's a kind of relief to read a story where there is a positive relationship between the protagonist and those forces in his life. I especially loved Emma, Mackie's sister - who is thoughtful and protective of her special younger brother, yet does so in an authentic way that mirrors an actual relationship between two siblings.

The other strong theme of "coming of age" has a darker twist to it, due to Mackie's background and the conflicts contained in the book, but it still...works. He's easy to relate to and seemed to me more of a tragic figure than most other heroes in YA books. The other plus is that I did not find him at all annoying, which tends to happen sometimes when I read YA (a tell-tale sign I am old)!

Although it can be dark at times, "The Replacement" doesn't lack funny moments, and is brimming with positive relationships.   Due to some sexual descriptiveness and language, this may be better for the 15+ set but - as I am a prime example of - really has appeal across the age pool. I loved this book and now am even more excited to Brenna Yovanoff's "The Space Between."

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Review: Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children

Title: Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children
Author: Ransom Riggs
Publisher: Quirk Books
Genre:  YA, Fantasy
Rating: 4/5

Why I picked it: Love the concept of a story motivated by found pictures. Plus...AWESOME cover appeal.

Synopsis:  A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of very curious photographs.

It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.
Review: From the very moment I happened to stumble upon this book on Amazon, I was intrigued. The cover is fantastic and gives off such a spooky air that I couldn't help but be drawn to it. Although I went into it expecting horror and got fantasy...I was not at all disappointed.

Ransom Riggs collects "found" photos. These old, and often super creepy, pictures are the inspiration behind this novel, which incorporates those images with a fantastical tale about a teenage boy trying to find his place in life.

Jacob has grown up listening to his grandfather's stories about an island on which there is a school filled with "peculiar" children who all have different special talents. When old enough to dismiss such fantastical ideas as magic, Jacob decides to take his grandfather's stories with a grain of salt - that is, until tragedy strikes and our hero realizes there might have been some truth behind it all. The story follows Jacob as he attempts to uncover the hidden secrets of his grandfather's life - with a lot of humor and descriptive language peppered throughout.

I must admit this book hooked me really fast and the author's build-up of events kept me reading well past my bedtime. I loved how the photos were incorporated into the text - with descriptions preceding actual pictures. I found myself really excited to turn the page and see what the described characters looked like. I also really enjoyed that these seemingly scary pictures were turned into something more innocent via the story. Instead of scared, I found myself fascinated by the photos.

One thing I did not care for was how the story builds up to a sequel (which has already been announced). In plain terms, there is more of a lack of resolution than I usually like. Don't get me wrong, I like to read a series but I especially like to read a series where a book can stand alone. While this one can, it's teetering on that edge of the unknown. And as a totally random side note, I actually thought to myself as I read "Hey! There's not many pages left and it seems like too much is still open ended. But they'd have a hard time making this a series, unless they have many pictures of same individuals or enough pictures that kind of obscure the subject's face."

Overall, it was a very enjoyable read and I liked the format and the imaginative story. I would highly recommend this book, but be forewarned - if you like an ending wrapped in a neat and tidy bow, you will likely be disappointed.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Hunger Games and Stuff

Well, it's been all quiet here because I was reading the Hunger Games trilogy for the past two weeks or so. That coupled with a trip to visit an old friend and...no new books were cracked.

First of all, just like countless others, I absolutely LOVED the Hunger Games. After finishing "Mockingjay," I literally had to stop and just absorb everything before I could start functioning again. It was darker than I expected, yet every bit as wonderful. I'm totally a fangirl now - anticipating the movie hardcore.

Since I've been immersed in those books for so long, it's really difficult for me to zone into another landscape and world. I am now attempting to do so by starting "Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children." I was really excited for this to come out and I've owned it for a while, only to dust it off now. Halloween is coming so I figured an eerie-ish tale might be just the right tone setter for now until the end of the month.  I'm sure I'll find other spooky books to read before then.