Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Review: River Dawn

River Dawn by Stephen Graff
RIVER DAWN presents two families living in very different times and worlds, but two families that mirror each other in almost every way. In our present world, 15 year old Alice is on vacation with her somewhat clueless father, her restless mother, and younger brother. They are traveling by bus through a vast tidal marsh. Alice notices the beauty of a natural world that is starting to fray—just as her own family seems to be falling apart. She also takes notice of a young man named Daniel and she’s trying to strike up the nerve to get to know him. In the distant future, another Alice is on a journey through a dark, flooded world controlled by heartless killers that is on the verge of dying. She is also dealing with a fractured family, and she meets and falls in love with a mysterious young man named Daniel. But the stakes are higher for her. She must find a way to survive in this ravaged setting; a ruthless preacher and his followers are stalking Alice, her family, and Daniel as they make their way downriver. She must also find a way to meet the Alice of the past, to let her know what has become of the world they both share and find a way to save their two worlds before it’s too late. A tattered journal is the method of communication between the two young women. On a storm-battered island, in the shadow of an abandoned lighthouse they will meet: one last chance to bring hope to a world on the edge and to save a future world that may not see another dawn. RIVER DAWN is a speculative suspense novel for mature teens, young adults, and general readers interested in dystopian fiction.

My Review:
I'm not sure even where to start.. From the blurb, I expected a set of stories intertwining together. What I got was something completely different, and I have to say, confusing. The main story takes place in a dystopian society, one after a great flood. I kept waiting for the other story to be developed, however never got more than a small glimpse into the "other side". Apparently, one of the main characters, Alice, was supposed to be able to make a difference and help the post-flood world not happen? The book never really explained fully what was going on with the two separate parallel worlds and I don't feel like they tied together well at all. Many times during reading this book, I had to back up a page or two, just to try to figure out what happened. The story seemed to jump around a lot and without warning, or even a break in the page, change to a different character's point of view and sometimes to a completely separate reality. I honestly feel like the story was incomplete, as if there was a pretty decent story in the author's mind, it just wasn't all written down, or conveyed into words. The book felt, to me, to be just a venue to say that global warming is real and this is what will happen; which would be fine, it it was at all easy to follow..

I have read a few reviews about this book giving it 5 stars and praising the genius of the author.. I just don't see it. Maybe it's "over my head", but to me it was confusing, and not well put together.

I had to give this book only 1 star.. :(

Saturday, February 18, 2012

My First Tattoo

When I was 17 yrs old, one of my best friends died suddenly in a car accident.  It was my first brush with the death of someone so close to me.  I hadn't seen him in a while and felt like I never really got to say goodbye.  I have always wanted to get a tattoo, something that made me think of him and honored him.  The problem with that is, I'm a weenie!  I have been terrified to get a tattoo, because I was afraid of the pain, even after having two children and injuring my ankle in a way that, to me, was more painful than child birth.  Finally, 20 yrs later, my husband talked me in to getting my first tat.. 
I have to say I was petrified, but I really wanted to do it.  I didn't even tell anyone until I was there, for fear of chickening out and then having to tell everyone.  ;)  I had the elements in my head that I wanted, but had no way of putting them together, since I was somehow born without that artistic gene that I covet so much.  I took my ideas, and pictures of the specific flowers I wanted to Jolly Roger, the most recommended tattoo shop in my town, and the artist did a beautiful job putting what I wanted together.  I was so mesmerized watching him draw the design just from the pics of the flowers I brought with me!  Then I find out it was only his second day at the shop, a newbie.. But he's done this for 10 yrs, he was just new to this town.  I can honestly say that this didn't bother me, esp after watching him draw, I have full confidence in him.  I'm so glad I did, and that he was the artist I got paired with!  He's such a beautiful talent that I feel honored to be one of his first clients in the area!  
When he pasted the outline to my ankle area, I noticed it came down to the tender area between the ankle bone and Achilles tendon.  I thought, ok I sure hope I can handle this!  Jason (the artist) started in that area.  It only hurt enough to cause me to make a face a few times, nothing terrible.  I asked him if that wasn't going to be the most tender area and he said it probably was.  After that, I relaxed, convinced I could handle it.  I was right, it wasn't nearly as painful as I expected!  I was texting and talking the whole time!
To explain the design:  I wanted a rose bud because my friend's name was Bud.. actually it was his nickname, but the only thing we ever called him.  Actually, I remember being at his house once, the first time we ever met his parents.. He and another friend left for a moment, I can't remember why.  While they were gone, his parents came home, to about 5 teenagers (that they didn't know) in their living room and their son not there.  His mother looked at us and asked "Where's Charles?"  Imagine their surprise when we all looked at her and said "who's Charles?"  Luckily, Bud is a nickname that he adopted from a family member and she revised her earlier question.. That was such a memorable day!
Anyway, I chose the other flowers by looking up "flower meanings" on the internet.. the sweet pea represents goodbye, and the xeranthemum (the orange one) represents immortality.  I wanted a butterfly because I love them and, to me, they represent freedom and change. 
It has been 1 week now and although it's still healing and itches like mad, I am truly happy with my new ink, and the decision to get it..

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Review: Oleanna

OleannaOleanna by Julie K. Rose
Set during the separation of Norway from Sweden in 1905, this richly detailed novel of love and loss was inspired by the life of the author's great-great-aunts.
Oleanna and her sister Elisabeth are the last of their family working their farm deep in the western fjordland. A new century has begun, and the world outside is changing, but in the Sunnfjord their world is as small and secluded as the verdant banks of a high mountain lake. With their parents dead and their brothers all gone to America, the sisters have resigned themselves to a simple life tied to the land and to the ghosts of those who have departed.
The arrival of Anders, a cotter living just across the farm's border, unsettles Oleanna's peaceful but isolated existence. Sharing a common bond of loneliness and grief, Anders stirs within her the wildness and wanderlust she has worked so hard to tame. When she is confronted with another crippling loss, Oleanna must decide once and for all how to face her past, claim her future, and find her place in a wide new world.
Oleanna was short-listed in the 2011 Faulkner-Wisdom novel competition.

My Review:
I didn't read the description well before reading this book, apparently.  Reading it, I didn't realize the ties the author had to the story and characters, and when I saw "ghosts" in the description, I took it literally, thinking there was going to be a paranormal element to the story.  There isn't.  
At first I wasn't sure how I would like it, because when I started reading it, I realized it was set in the early 20th century, in a very rural area in Norway.. Not a time frame in which I could ever imagine myself living.  The more I read of this story, the more I realized that I definitely was not made for this era (as in to live in), some people say they'd love to live back then, not me!  I'm too attached to my technology and I'm basically spoiled, all that hard labor would not work for me! :)
As I continued to read I became very invested in the characters, Oleanna "Lea", her sister Elisabeth "Lisbet", Torjus ~ her nephew, and, of course, Anders, the passionate love interest.  I found myself often exasperated with Oleanna.. she's stubborn and makes decisions I couldn't imagine making myself.  I saw her as trapped by the fear and guilt over her mother & younger sister's tragic death.  I honestly thought her weak, choosing the farm and her "responsibilities" over her happiness.  Eventually, I realized she was actually strong, and selfless, not weak and fearful; that my own decisions in her same situation would have been the "easier" and "weak" ones.  I found myself wondering and worrying if things would finally work out for her, she deserved for them to, and realized how into the story I really was.. I cared for her!  I have to say (without giving anything away) that I was quite worried about the ending of the book, and it did surprise me with a happy ending so nice (and not over the top), that I found myself smiling at around midnight, as I was still up to finish the book.  It gave me a nice feeling of the way life should work out without being just too perfect and sickening.. 
I enjoy reading the author's notes at the end of the novels and loved Julie's!  She explained her connection to the book, it was actually loosely based on her family, which made the story even more wonderful.  She also included an old letter she found from her great grandfather, which is the brother, John, from the story.  Beautiful.
I gave this book 4 stars.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Review: Hide & Seek Devotional

 Hide the Word & Seek the Lord Devotional by Stephen Elkins
Hide God's Word in your heart, and seek Him in your life! Best-selling author and Grammy-nominated artist, Stephen Elkins, has created an exceptional product that includes everything parents need to get their children excited about spending time with God. This book contains 52 Bible stories, devotions, verses, prayers, and free-streaming audio of Scripture memory songs children will love singing along to. Narrated by Kirk Cameron, this full-length album reinforces the Bible verses and helps children commit them to memory. 
My Review:
I have to say first that I haven't read the whole book yet, in fact, I just started.  I was very excited to read this to my boys, ages 10 and almost 5, to see how they liked it.  I thought they would be a much better set of eyes and ears for this particular review.  
I have tried many times to find bible related stories on a level that I can read to them without boring them and losing their attention, esp. the 4 yr old.  This is the one!  It is a series of stories and devotions concentrating on key stories of the bible and some great lessons.  
The first one was about Moses parting the Red Sea and leading the Israelite's out of Egypt.  The following devotion was "Greater Than Great", describing how our God is an awesome God.  Both of these were very short and to the point, which served to keep their attention, and the devotion used comparisons to explain how special "awesome" was.  
I was so excited because after we were finished, my 10 yr old brought out his bible and asked me to read the full story of God using Moses to part the sea, they both listened.  Afterward, my 4 yr old asked to hear about Noah and the boat!  Reading this to them enabled me to discuss things with them and led me to realize they really do learn from our children's church services at our church..  I honestly thought they just played a lot and didn't get much out of it, they just didn't seem to.  Tonight, however, I am very proud of my boys, and the people who teach them at church!  I feel like they are really learning and maybe could turn out to be good Christian men!
I give this devotional 5 stars, because it's the first thing I have found to truly catch my children's attention and make them want to hear more.   

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Review: Eden by Matthew C. Plourde

Eden by Matthew C. Plourde

"... the last days are not unfolding exactly as written, but make no mistake - Heaven and Hell have fallen to Earth." 

When an earthquake plunges the world into darkness, Alexandra Contreras struggles for survival and seeks answers. Guided by a mysterious, scarred man, she braves the wasteland in search of humanity's mythical birthplace: Eden. Once confronted with her tragic destiny, she must make a decision which will alter the fate of the world.

My Review:

I was quite excited to read this book, the blurb sounded very interesting to me.  I wasn't disappointed.  It touched base on a lot of religious views that had me thinking, and I'm active in my church.  
When Alexandra (a self-reliant lawyer living in the States) goes home to a small town in Mexico to take care of her mother's estate, nothing goes as she expected.  Awakening after what appeared to be a bus crash, she's saved from the crash and from an attack by a strange, scarred man named Koneh and has to come to terms with the fact that she now exists in a post apocalyptic world.  Alexandra is determined to make it on her own, but soon realizes that even though she doesn't trust her new acquaintance, she needs him.  
They embark on an action-packed adventure that takes them, eventually, to the ends of the earth.  She knows that Koneh is hiding things from her, and wonders if he isn't a bit mad.  Throughout their journey, they meet with many people (and "things" Alexandra never truly believed existed), many they help out, many who are out to get them, and some that betray their trust.  When she learns of her true heritage, she denies it, even to herself.  Can Alexandra really be who they say she is?  If so, can she handle the tremendous stress and responsibility of it?  Along the way, she begins to see past Koneh's scars and secrecy and develops feelings for him - only to have him push her away at every turn.  Can she ever be happy again?  Only if she figures out what her true fate is, which decisions are the correct ones, and what is the dark secret Koneh's been trying so hard to keep?...
I gave this book 4.5 stars and hope to be reading more of this story in the future!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Romancing the Books Blog Hop

Our friends at Read2Review are a host on the Romancing the Books Blog Hop hosted by Delighted Reader and Livre D'Amour!  They have put together an amazing 10 book prize bundle with some awesome titles, Wow!

Here is their prize bundle:
Katie's Hellion (paperback) ~ Lizzy Ford
Red Velvet and Absinthe (paperback) ~ Mitzi Szereto
A Ranger's Tale ~ Mysti Parker
Bone Dressing ~ Michelle Brooks
Caresses By Moonlight ~ Amanda J. Greene
Codename:  Dancer ~ Amanda Brice
Gemini ~ Louann Carroll
Kahantara ~ Michelle Franklin
SVEN ~ Jess C. Scott
Wilderness Heart ~ Jacqueline Hopkins-Walton

If you want to be in with the chance of winning this prize bundle, yes all 10 books will go to 1 LUCKY WINNER!, please check out this link for all the details:

Good luck to everyone who enters!  =)

Monday, February 6, 2012

Enter This Great Giveaway!

Our friends at Read2Review are a host on the Romancing the Valentine Giveaway Hop hosted by Reading Romances!  They have put together an amazing 10 book prize bundle including some titles from Random House Children's Books, Wow!!

Here is their prize bundle:
Bridges of Rollrock Island (print) ~ Margo Lanagan
Fallen In Love (print) ~ Lauren Kate
All Hallow's Blood (ebook) ~ Raven Corrinn Carluck
Between the Land and the Sea (ebook) ~ Derrolyn Anderson
Death in the Arena (ebook) ~ John Brinling
Further Explorations (Divine Destinies) (ebook) ~ David Russell
My Angel, My Light As Darkness Falls (ebook) ~ Linda Hays Gibbs
Paranormal Pleasures (ebook) ~ Roxanne Rhoads
The Chakra Diaries (ebook) ~ Becca Chopra
The Knight and Maggie's Baby (ebook) ~ Lisa Mondello

If you want to be in with the chance of winning this prize bundle, yes all 10 books will go to 1 LUCKY WINNER!, please check out this link for all the details:

Good luck to everyone who enters!  =)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

New Blog

I know this isn't a book review, but I have a new blog.  It focuses on food, basically, which we all love (some of us too much!)  I will be posting recipes that I really like and some that I have come up with on my own.  Please check out the recipes tab at the top of the page, it will link you there.  If you like the page, please follow.  I thought I'd be able to do this with just a separate page on this blog, but I couldn't make individual posts on a new tab, go figure. :)  I plan to design a button for it soon.  I hope you all enjoy it and pass the word along to anyone else who may as well!  Thanks to you all!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Review: Initiate (The Unfinished Song #1)

The initiation ceremony is the gateway to ultimate power...or death. A DETERMINED GIRL Dindi can't do anything right, maybe because she spends more time dancing with pixies than doing her chores. Her clan hopes to marry her off and settle her down, but she dreams of becoming a Tavaedi, one of the powerful warrior-dancers whose secret magics are revealed only to those who pass a mysterious Test during the Initiation ceremony. The problem? No-one in Dindi's clan has ever passed the Test. Her grandmother died trying. But Dindi has a plan... AN EXILED WARRIOR Kavio is the most powerful warrior-dancer in Faearth, but when he is exiled from the tribehold for a crime he didn't commit, he decides to shed his old life. If roving cannibals and hexers don't kill him first, this is his chance to escape the shadow of his father's wars and his mother's curse. But when he rescues a young Initiate girl, he finds himself drawn into as deadly a plot as any he left behind. He must decide whether to walk away or fight for her... assuming she would even accept the help of an exile.

My Review:
I was very excited to read this book, I love everything I've read about the fae..  This book is unlike any fae stories I've ever read and honestly, I had a hard time getting into it.  There are quite a few story lines within the one main story and it was a bit difficult to keep it all straight, not to mention the fae in this book are different from the "faeries" I usually read about.  It is set in a tribal type time period and was almost confusing in the beginning, trying to remember who certain characters were and what their particular story was. 
That being said, I was not bored with the book, if I had been, I probably wouldn't have finished it and I would have missed out on a pretty good story.  I kept pushing through it because, despite not being sure I had them all straight, I was intrigued to know what would happen next with the characters and how they would all intersect.  I'm glad I finished it, because I actually ended up liking the book. Dindi is (I'm honestly not sure exactly what), but she is at the age that her people go through an initiation into adulthood.  Very few lucky ones are chosen to be Tavaedi and the rest are set to become (in the female's cases) wives and mothers.  Dindi has always wanted nothing but to be chosen..  The big problem?  No one in her family has been chosen before, ever.   She is a girl that most see as "flighty" and destined to be nothing more than common, and not exactly a "catch" for their sons to marry, either.  
The story follows her through her trek to initiation and through the process itself; along with other key characters, including Kavio (love interest? we will see..).  He is a powerful warrior & dancer of his tribe, exiled for crimes he isn't fully responsible for.  He saves Dindi's life and then again crosses her path during the initiation, saving many lives.  
The book ends on a huge cliff-hanger that has me itching to read the next one.  Although it was a slow start, I did enjoy the book and I believe the sequel will be quite good.  I recommend that anyone who reads it just push through if you find yourself unsure of it at first, it is well worth it!
I give this book 3 stars.