Monday, February 29, 2016

Into the Dim - Janet B. Taylor

TITLE: Into the Dim (Into the Dim #1)
AUTHOR: Janet B. Taylor
PUBLISHER: HMH Books for Young Readers
PUBLISHING DATE: March 1, 2016

FROM GOODREADS: When fragile, sixteen-year-old Hope Walton loses her mom to an earthquake overseas, her secluded world crumbles. Agreeing to spend the summer in Scotland, Hope discovers that her mother was more than a brilliant academic, but also a member of a secret society of time travelers. Trapped in the twelfth century in the age of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Hope has seventy-two hours to rescue her mother and get back to their own time. Along the way, her path collides with that of a mysterious boy who could be vital to her mission . . . or the key to Hope’s undoing.      Addictive, romantic, and rich with historical detail, Into the Dim is an Outlander for teens.

After having read a book last week which could have easily put me into a slump (for not so good reasons), Into the Dim was just what I needed to pull me through it. This new release has been extremely hyped for months, which normally terrifies me, but when I had the chance to grab an ARC, I couldn't resist. I am really glad I hit that request button. I have also heard this book being called "Outlander for young adults" and while I have never read Outlander, after reading this, if the comparisons are true, I want to pick it up so much more.

Into the Dim tells the story of Hope, whose mother has been missing for over 8 month and just recently declared dead. Her father is in a newly formed relationship, so Hope is sent to Scotland for the summer to meet some relatives who have never really played a big role in her life. Once there, Hope learns of her mother's time traveling escapades and is sent back in time to rescue an important family member and locate and retrieve a mysterious stone.

I really enjoyed many of the characters we meet along Hope's travels. She manages to make some good friends in Scotland, which is a new thing for her because she has always been a home schooled loner. Although Hope seems somewhat shallow in the beginning, throughout the book, the author manages quite a bit of character development and toward the end , I found myself really invested in what happens to her. Also, while there are some romantic involvements in the book, I didn't find them overpowering or for lack of a better word, corny, and they added to the plot and story line rather than overpowering it.

The setting is also a wonderful addition to Into the Dim. Taylor manages to provide a great modern tale with a strong historical piece which I found really interesting. I imagine quite a bit of research went into writing this book and a lot of readers will be able to appreciate that fact.

This book has been getting mixed reviews and honestly, I wasn't sure if I would like it enough to be invested for 432 pages. However, I was quickly pulled into it's world and can't wait for the next installment to see what the future holds for Hope, her family and her friends.

I received this book from Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Saturday, February 27, 2016

Stacking the Shelves (53)

Stacking the Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves or TBR piles, may it be physical or virtual.  This means you can include books you buy in a physical store, online, books you borrow from the library or friends, review books, gifts and of course, ebooks! The original meme was started over at Tynga's Reviews.  Clicking on the book should take you to the Goodreads page. 

Yippee!!!! February is almost done.  I know that is basically pretty sad, but I had a lot of work-related traveling this month which really ate into the personal time.  On the plus side though, we did have Valentine's Day and The Walking Dead mid-season premier so it wasn't all bad.  I visited the library this week and obtained some ARCS and freebies so let's get started.

From the library: 

The Killing Jar Barsk Harley Quinn Vol 3 Spider Gwen

I hope Barsk doesn't end up being another strange trip to a Night-Vale like place where nothing makes sense and I can't stand the trip. Anybody read it? It's published by Tor, with whom I usually have good luck.

I grabbed the following for free from Amazon:

A Place to Call Home Truly, Madly, Deeply The Dog that Laid Eggs Crushed

And I snagged the following ARCS which I am excited to have and am as always, grateful to the authors, publishers and book sites!

Wink Poppy Midnight The Binding The Thing Is And I Darken
Mean Sisters The Salty Dog Lottery Boy The Loney

My readers must really think I am all over the place with my reading habits. What can I say? I love variety and hate to get stuck in a genre, even though I do have my favorites. This haul covers a lot - dogs, horror, graphic novels, young adult and just plain odd. I can't wait to get to Wink, Poppy, Midnight and And I Darken as those are two I am super excited for.

I also won a giveaway from Shaunesay from The Space Between.  Thanks so much!

Traitor's Masque

What did you get this week?  Let me know where I can check out your new hauls.  And if you recommend any of these, let me know which ones! 


Thursday, February 25, 2016

Welcome to Night Vale (Now run as fast as you can in the opposite direction)

TITLE: Welcome to Night Vale
AUTHORS: Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor
PUBLISHER: Harper Perennial
PUBLISHING DATE: October 20, 2015

FROM GOODREADS: From the creators of the wildly popular Welcome to Night Vale podcast comes an imaginative mystery of appearances and disappearances that is also a poignant look at the ways in which we all struggle to find matter where we live.

Located in a nameless desert somewhere in the great American Southwest, Night Vale is a small town where ghosts, angels, aliens, and government conspiracies are all commonplace parts of everyday life. It is here that the lives of two women, with two mysteries, will converge.

Nineteen-year-old Night Vale pawn shop owner Jackie Fierro is given a paper marked "King City" by a mysterious man in a tan jacket holding a deer skin suitcase. Everything about him and his paper unsettles her, especially the fact that she can't seem to get the paper to leave her hand, and that no one who meets this man can remember anything about him. Jackie is determined to uncover the mystery of King City and the man in the tan jacket before she herself unravels.

Night Vale PTA treasurer Diane Crayton's son, Josh, is moody and also a shape shifter. And lately Diane's started to see her son's father everywhere she goes, looking the same as the day he left years earlier, when they were both teenagers. Josh, looking different every time Diane sees him, shows a stronger and stronger interest in his estranged father, leading to a disaster Diane can see coming, even as she is helpless to prevent it.

Diane's search to reconnect with her son and Jackie's search for her former routine life collide as they find themselves coming back to two words: "King City". It is King City that holds the key to both of their mysteries, and their futures...if they can ever find it.

I honestly believe that no matter what I write in this review, it will never effectively explain this book. On the other hand, I also believe that I could sum up the entire book, plot, character development and all, in three paragraphs which would save anyone from having to read it. And overall, those two sentences explain exactly how I feel about this book - confused.

I admit I wanted to read it on a whim. I like the "odd" book here and there and this seemed to be just the thing that would fit into that category. Let's just say that this goes so far beyond odd that I don't know how to describe it, but I will gladly admit that it isn't for me. Thank the gods above that I checked it out from the library and didn't purchase it for myself no matter how tempted I was by the pretty purple cover.

This book is about Diane, Jackie, Diane's son and a shapeshifter named Josh, a waitress in the local diner who is actually a tree, a man named Evan who walks around town appearing and disappearing and handing people pieces of paper with KING CITY written on it, 30-40 men named Troy (or actually the same man, just multiples of him), a tarantula, secret agents and exploding flamingo lawn decorations. Throw in a lot of other miscellaneous information and if that sounds interesting, then this might be the book for you.

Sadly, after writing this, I realize that I am struggling between a one and two star rating. I know some people love this and rave about it and good for them. I am glad people like it, but I can't recommend it to anyone in good faith. If I could DNF books, I would have. I did actually want to see how it ended, which is why I finally went with a 2-star rating, but in the real scheme of things, 3 paragraphs and I would have known the entire 400+ page story.

(HEY!  I just realized that the  Goodreads description is basically all you need to know in order to have read the book!)

RATING: 2 stars


Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday (44)

"Waiting on" Wednesday" is weekly meme hosted over at Breaking the Spine which spotlights upcoming anticipated releases. 

October 11, 2016
From Goodreads: It’s Boston, 1919, and the Cast Iron club is packed. On stage, hemopaths--whose "afflicted" blood gives them the ability to create illusions through art--captivate their audience. Corinne and Ada have been best friends ever since infamous gangster Johnny Dervish recruited them into his circle. By night they perform for Johnny’s crowds, and by day they con Boston’s elite. When a job goes wrong and Ada is imprisoned, they realize how precarious their position is. After she escapes, two of the Cast Iron’s hires are shot, and Johnny disappears. With the law closing in, Corinne and Ada are forced to hunt for answers, even as betrayal faces them at every turn.

WHY I'M WAITING:  I am looking for something to fill the void that A Criminal Magic did earlier this year and when I saw this, I figured it would be worth a shot.

What are you waiting for this week?


Tuesday, February 23, 2016

TTT - 10 Books I Recently Enjoyed That Weren't My Typical Genre

This top 10 weekly meme is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and can be found HERE.  Each week they focus on lists which cover various topics related to books and reading. This week focuses on book which I recently enjoyed with weren't my typical genre.

I don't read a lot of science fiction so this was all pretty new to me.

I certainly don't read a lot of children's novels, and this one was a children's graphic novel, but Apocalypse Bow Wow was great!

Romance is definitely not something I read often.  This one was super cute and look at that dog!

I haven't read a lot of historical fiction and it has to be something really special to catch my eye, but The Ripper's Wife was extremely enjoyable.

The same thing can be said for this one!

I'm not big on photography books but this one centered on dogs, so I couldn't resist.

I certainly don't read a lot of young adult contemporary.  This was my first, and so far only, Dessen book.

This was my first middle grade graphic novel.

OK.  So basically I can only come up with 8.  Guess I should branch out more but hey, I like what I like.  What made your list?

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Stacking the Shelves (52)

Stacking the Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves or TBR piles, may it be physical or virtual.  This means you can include books you buy in a physical store, online, books you borrow from the library or friends, review books, gifts and of course, ebooks! The original meme was started over at Tynga's Reviews.  Clicking on the book should take you to the Goodreads page. 

It was a slow week book-wise here on the farm and I really only obtained three review copies.  I did win a Goodreads contest and have a book coming in the mail so I should be able to post them to next week's haul.

The Awakening of Sunshine Girl The 52nd The Transatlantic Conspiracy

 I read The Haunting of Sunshine Girl and enjoyed it more that I thought I might so I am glad to have book 2. Also, don't know if I have ever mentioned it, but I am pretty much a sucker for any book with an octopus or tentacles on it so I had to get a copy of The Transatlantic Conspiracy.

So what did you add to your shelves this week?

Friday, February 19, 2016

The Changing Season - A Pleasant Surprise

TITLE: The Changing Season
AUTHOR: Steven Manchester
PUBLISHING DATE: February 16, 2016
PUBLISHER: Story Plant

FROM GOODREADS:  This was supposed to be a simple summer for Billy: one more lazy expanse of time before college began. He'd fill the hours playing with Jimmy his canine best buddy going camping and doing all the things he promised Jimmy they'd do before Billy left. But that was before the accident that shook the entire town. It was before the summer job that turned into something so much more than a way to get a paycheck. And it was before Vicki. This summer was destined to be many things to Billy, things he didn t truly understand until now. But it was definitely not going to be simple. An enormously touching, richly textured, deeply moving novel of new adulthood, THE CHANGING SEASON is an experience to savor."

This is a beautiful coming of age story about a young man and his elderly dog. Billy and his friends just graduated high school and unlike them, Billy has no idea where he wants life to take him. During his last summer at home, Billy gets a job at the local shelter, falls in love, and watches his friend's life fall apart.

I don't usually read a lot of books with male protagonists, but I am so glad I gave this one a chance. Almost everyone has had a time in their life when they felt lost, and looking back, I can't imagine what it would feel like to be 18 again and not know where life is headed. There are many things I like about this book. While Billy has several close friends, his best friend is his dog, Jimmy. They have basically grown up together and while Billy is pretty much just starting his life, Jimmy is nearing the end of his. The two have such a natural, calming relationship. Jimmy sleeps in bed every night and Billy always make a point to tell him all about his day. I also like many of the characters in this book. Don't get me wrong, some of them do awful things, but that just makes them more human. And most importantly, this book doesn't tell a story which is neatly packaged and wrapped up with a bow at the end. Real life doesn't always end that way and I think this author understands that. Some of the ending was predictable, but it definitely didn't end as I expected, and I think that made the ending all that much better.

My only real complaint with the book is that I feel something was left out with Sophie's story. Sophie is Billy's sister, who is home for summer from college, and there are a few loose ends with her which never really resolved themselves. However, since it is not a book about her, I will let that pass.

It would be wonderful if Manchester would revisit these characters 10 years in the future so the reader can see how everything plays out. I actually care enough about them that I sort of want to know what kind of lives they are living. If you love coming of age novels, or dogs in general, then this is a must read.

I was provided a copy of this book from Edelweiss and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


BOOKER T's THOUGHTS:  All I can say is that Jimmy is a great dog.  Rescued from a local shelter, he proves to his family what a wonderful choice they made time and time again.  Jimmy is a tad overweight, but that doesn't stop him from enjoying life and his family still gives him treats from time to time.  He is extremely loyal and is definitely Billy's best friend.  Don't tell Mom I told you, but I am pretty much a Daddy's Boy.  Even though I help her out here at The Farm, truth is, I was a gift to Dad from her about 6 years ago and when they went to look at me and my litter mates, I chose him by falling asleep on his shoulder and basically refusing to move.  So I can definitely relate to how much Jimmy loves Billy.  I give Jimmy 5 paws.  

Now on the other hand, Mrs. Pringles, the family cat, gets 1 paw.  Come on, she's a cat!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

An Interview and Giveaway with Denise Swanson

As you probably already know, I am helping Stormi with her February "Cozy Up With A Mystery" event and Denise Swanson, author of "Devereaux's Dime Store Mystery" series, has stopped by to answer a few questions.  She has also graciously offered to give away a new copy of the latest installment so read through for more details.

Tell me something about yourself not on your author bio.
I'm a rabid Walking Dead fan and love post apocalyptic books and movies.

What is it about the cozy genre that you love?
I love that there is always a satisfying ending. The bad guy is brought to justice.  Most sleuths are everyday people who rally to do the right thing. And as a psychologist, I'm tickled by the quirky secondary characters.  Not to mention the feeling of belonging of a small town setting.

When you decide to start a cozy series, what kind of preparations do you do?  I know a lot of them have themes, etc.  Do you plan out a whole series?
For my first book, Murder of a Small-Town honey, I created an extensive outline, but I realized that doing that took the fun away from writing so now I just let the characters tell me their stories. For my second series, Devereaux's Dime Store, I had a good idea of how the first book, Little Shop of Homocide, was going to play out, but again, after that, I just let Dev and the gang talk to me.  I base a lot of my plots on my own personal experiences, although I haven't discovered a dead body - yet.  I have no idea where either series will end up going.  I take it one book at a time.

Tell us a little about your newest book, Between a Book and a Hard Place.
Five-and-dime store owner Devereaux "Dev" Sinclair moved to Shadow Bend for her family. But when her long-lost mother shows up in town, she realizes too much kin can be a killer.

Shadow Bend's library closed years ago becasuse of budgetary problems, so when a wealthy benefactor offers to reopen it, everyone, including Dev, is thrilled.  But Dev's excitement wanes when she realizes the mysterious donor is actually her runaway mother Yvette's latest husband, Jett Benedict.

Dev suspects that Yvette and Jett's intentions aren't as noble as they appear, but before she can discover what they're really up to, Jett turns up dead - and all clues point to Yvette as the prime suspect.

Even though Dev has no loyalty to Yvette, she's in a bind.  Setting the record straight could prove her mother is a killer.  But doing nothing might get her mother booked for a crime she didn't commit...

Booker T, my beloved pup and sometime guest reviewer, would like to know if you have any pets?
I have a black cat named Boomerang.  He was a stray who kept coming back, hence the name.  He's been with me 16 years and is 19.

Any advice for someone who wants to write a cozy?
Find a profession for your sleuth that hasn't been used before or that you have a unique twist that you can use. Read Writing the Modern Mystery by Barbara Norville.  And no matter how crappy it seems, while you're writing the first draft, finish it.  Remember it isn't how good you are.  It's how bad you want it.

Denise has graciously offered to give away a copy of her newest book "Between a Book and a Hard Place".  The contest runs from today and closes on February 28th.  It is open to US residents only.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday (43)

"Waiting on" Wednesday" is weekly meme hosted over at Breaking the Spine which spotlights upcoming anticipated releases. 

June 21, 2016
FROM GOODREADS: The team at Sin du Jour—New York’s exclusive caterers-to-the-damned—find themselves up against their toughest challenge, yet when they’re lured out west to prepare a feast in the most forbidding place in America: Hollywood, where false gods rule supreme.

Meanwhile, back at home, Ritter is attacked at home by the strangest hit-squad the world has ever seen, and the team must pull out all the stops if they’re to prevent themselves from being offered up as the main course in a feast they normally provide

Starring: The Prince of Lies, Lena Tarr, Darren Vargas. With Byron Luck. Introducing: the Easter Bunny.

WHY I'M WAITING:  I recently devoured the first two books in this series and thought they were pretty much absolute genius.  I love the story, the characters, and I NEED TO KNOW all about the cliffhanger.  Also, the synopsis mentions the Easter Bunny?  I almost have to read it just to find out what that is all about!

       What are you waiting for this week?                 

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

TTT - Top (5) Books I'd Give A Theme Song To

This top 10 weekly meme is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and can be found HERE.  Each week they focus on lists which cover various topics related to books and reading. This week's topic has to do with music and with books and while I love both tremendously, I usually don't put the two of them together very well - my mind doesn't seem to work like that for some reason.  I am struggling with this topic but think I can possible come up with 5.  So here we go!

Doctor Sleep - Stephen King/Sweet Dreams - The Eurythmics

"Some of the want to use you
 Some of them want to get used by you
 Some of them want to abuse you
 Some of them want to be abused"

Saga (Deluxe Edition - Vol 1 thru Vol 5) - Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples/
Major Tom - David Bowie

"Though I'm past one hundred thousand miles
 I'm feeling very still
 And I think my spaceship knows which way to go
 Tell my wife I love her very much, she knows"

Ghost Heart - John Palisano/Ghost Town - Adam Lambert

"Now I'm searching for trust
 In a city of rust
 A city of vampires
 Tonight, Elvis is dead
 And everyone's spread
 And love is a sattire"

Secrets of Lizzie Borden - Brandy Purdy/Gunpowder and Lead - Miranda Lambert

"I'm goin' home gonna load my shotgun
 Wait by the door and light a cigarette
 He wants a fight, well now he's got one
 And he ain't seen me crazy yet"

It - Stephen King/Funhouse - Pink

"This used to be a fun house
 But now it's full of evil clowns
 It's time to start the countdown
 I'm gonna burn it down, down down
 I'm gonna burn it down"

Well, hopefully I did better with this topic than I originally anticipated.  I look forward to seeing what everyone else comes up with for it.