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Thursday, March 30, 2017

#Book #Review: 3 out of 5 stars for Heist Society by Ally Carter @OfficiallyAlly @HyperionTeens

TITLE: Heist Society
SERIES: Heist Society, Book #1
AUTHORS: Ally Carter
PUBLISHER: Hyperion Book CH
PUBLICATION DATE: February 9, 2010
FORMAT: Hardcover
LENGTH: 287 pages
GENRE: Young Adult, Mystery
ISBN: 9781423116394

When Katarina Bishop was three, her parents took her on a trip to the Louvre…to case it. For her seventh birthday, Katarina and her Uncle Eddie traveled to Austria…to steal the crown jewels. When Kat turned fifteen, she planned a con of her own—scamming her way into the best boarding school in the country, determined to leave the family business behind. Unfortunately, leaving “the life” for a normal life proves harder than she’d expected.

Soon, Kat's friend and former co-conspirator, Hale, appears out of nowhere to bring Kat back into the world she tried so hard to escape. But he has a good reason: a powerful mobster has been robbed of his priceless art collection and wants to retrieve it. Only a master thief could have pulled this job, and Kat's father isn't just on the suspect list, he is the list. Caught between Interpol and a far more deadly enemy, Kat’s dad needs her help.

For Kat, there is only one solution: track down the paintings and steal them back. So what if it's a spectacularly impossible job? She's got two weeks, a teenage crew, and hopefully just enough talent to pull off the biggest heist in her family's history--and, with any luck, steal her life back along the way.

MY REVIEW:

This was a fun adventure that had the characters crisscrossing the globe.

One of my favourite family movies is National Treasure, where Nicolas Cage steals the Declaration of Independence to keep it out of the hands of would-be thieves. This book is like that!

Teenager Katarina Bishop is from an infamous family of thieves, and she has left the family business and is trying to lead a “normal” life at a boarding school in New York. Katarina is expelled from school for parking the headmaster’s convertible atop the school fountain, only she insists that she was framed. With her bags packed, she awaits a ride to pick her up and her rescuer turns out to be none other than her former partner in crime, Hale. He tells her that someone pulled off a job in Italy, stealing extremely valuable paintings from a private collection. The owner of said paintings is Arturo Taccone, a dangerous mobster, and he is convinced that the only person who could have pulled off such a sophisticated robbery is Katarina’s father. The message that Hale gives Katarina from her uncle is that her father must return the paintings or Taccone will take revenge on the Bishop family. Katarina flies to Paris to speak with her father to urge him to return the stolen possessions, but he claims to have an airtight alibi because he was busy pulling off a heist in Paris! Satisfied that her father is telling the truth, Katarina is about to take a taxi to the airport to return to the United States when she is apprehended by a goon who forces her into the back of a limo. She meets Taccone face-to-face, and he doesn’t believe that Katarina’s father wasn’t involved. He tells Katarina that she has two weeks to return what is rightfully his…or else.

Katarina decides that she must do the impossible, which is to track down Taccone’s priceless stolen collection and steal them back to put her family in the clear.

The story started off with a lot of excitement, so I was a bit disappointed that the level of adrenaline didn’t continue. The entire middle section of the book focused on Katarina assembling her team and planning how they were going to do it. There was a lot of telling but no action until the last 50 pages. Even still, I enjoyed the characters and the story well enough that I plan to continue with the rest of the series.

MY RATING:
3 stars!! It was good, and I enjoyed it!

This book qualifies as:

Goodreads Winter Seasonal Scavenger Challenge - Skiing: Wrap-up Post

December 20, 2016 to March 21, 2017

16/16 books read

1.  Read a book that takes place in prehistoric times (before 1,000 A.D.) OR read a book that takes place in any of the Scandinavian countries (Denmark, Norway, Sweden) OR read any book on your TBR whose position is in an ‘even’ thousand position (i.e. 1,000 2,000 3,000; tell us its position). **Note: if you have less than 1,000 books on your TBR, consider using one of the first two options on this task. If that fails, use any book in an 'even' hundredth position.


 [read any book on your TBR whose position is in an 'even' thousand position - #1,000 on my Goodreads TBR]


2.  Read a book with an ‘unbalanced’ character (tell us who and why you think they are unbalanced) OR read a book whose plot occurs during the 1800’s OR read a book that is second in a trilogy or at the middle of your TBR (you may use TBR midpoint +(-) ten.


[read a book with an 'unbalanced' character - Victor Frankenstein, because he's a mad scientist who thinks he can play God and create a new human race]


3.  Read a book in which a character is considering trying something new (tell us what) OR read a book that mentions the military OR read a book whose main character’s first name starts with a letter in “SKIING.”


[read a book in which a character is considering trying something new - a same-sex relationship]


4.  Read a book that takes place in the mountains (tell us which range) OR read a book where a character has a serious illness OR read a book where the first letter of each title word may be found in “PUBLIC HEALTH” (include a|an|the; 2 word minimum).

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot 

[read a book where a character has a serious illness - the main character has cervical cancer]


5.  Read a book that takes place in a popular tourist destination (tell us where) OR read a book where someone goes skiing OR read a book in which a character works for any governmental agency.

Shadows Still Remain by Peter de Jonge (O'Hara & Krekorian, Book #1) 

[read a book in which a character works for any governmental agency - the main character is a detective that works for a police department]


6.  Read a book that takes place in any city that has hosted the Winter Olympics (list) OR read a book with an intact “24” in its total page count OR read a book in which a significant first occurs (tell us what).

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware 

[read a book in which a significant first occurs; the main character gets her first on-location writing assignment]


7.  Read a book in which a competition takes place (tell us what) OR read a book with "WINTER" in its title OR read a book whose cover is the color of one of the Olympic rings (blue, black, yellow, red or green).

Cut by Patricia McCormick 


[read a book whose cover is the color of one of the Olympic rings - BLACK) 


8.  Read a book in which a main character is a show off OR read a book where a character has some kind of advanced skill (tell us what) OR read a book whose title starts with a letter in HOT DOG (a|an|the DO count!).

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini 

[read a book whose title starts with a letter in HOT DOG]


9.  Read a book with an object resembling an inverted “V” or any repeated pattern on its cover (remember to post the cover) OR read a book with footprints on its cover (post the cover) OR read a book whose title contains the word “UP” (the two letters must be together but do not have to be an independent word).


[read a book whose title contains the word "UP" - "cUPcake")


10.  Read a book in which some kind of crash occurs (tell us what) OR read a book whose title or author’s first or last name begin with a “Y” (ignore a|an|the) OR read a book whose cover shows a yard (post the cover).

Unbroken: An Olympian's Journey from Airman to Castaway to Captive by Lauren Hillenbrand 

[read a book in which some kind of crash occurs - plane crash]


11.  Read a book whose cover shows a wild animal or a track or trail of any kind (remember to post the cover) OR read a book that seems to follow a trail (i.e. formulaic plot, a re-telling) OR read a book whose title contains any foreign word or phrase.

Pax by Sara Pennypacker



[read a book whose cover shows a wild animal or a track or trail of any kind - there is a fox on the cover]


12.  Read a book whose cover shows a racetrack of any kind (post the cover) OR read a book whose plot moves quickly and has some hairpin plot twists OR read a book published anywhere in the 1900’s (1900-1999).


[read a book whose plot moves quickly and has some hairpin plot twists]


13.  Read a book whose location starts with a letter in FLUSH (tell us where) OR read a book in a series that is third or higher (tell us the position) OR read a book whose cover shows any ‘flowing’ object (i.e. hair, a river; remember to post the cover).



[read a book whose cover shows any 'flowing' object - hair]


14.  Read a book where a character finds themselves in a dangerous situation OR read a book with ice on its cover (remember to post the cover) OR read a book whose author’s first AND last initials may be found in BOILERPLATE.


[author's first AND last initials may be found in BOILERPLATE: Amy Tan]


15.  Read a book where “TUCK” may be found intact within the book's title or author name OR read a book whose cover shows any two parallel objects (post the cover) OR read a book where a character figures out how to improve a process (be sure to tell us what that process is).



[read a book whose cover shows any two parallel objects]


16.  Read a book that helps you unwind OR read any book in a series that follows a previous book in that series (any except the first) OR read a book with a hot beverage on its cover (post the cover).



[read any book in a series that follows a previous book in that series]

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

#Audiobook #Review: 4 out of 5 stars for Year of No Clutter by Eve O. Schaub @eveschaub @TantorAudio

AUTHOR: Eve O. Schaub
NARRATORS: Callie Beaulieu
PUBLISHER: Tantor Audio
PUBLICATION DATE: March 1, 2017
FORMAT: Unabridged audiobook
LENGTH: 8 hrs and 58 mins
GENRE: Nonfiction, Autobiography/Memoir
ISBN: 9781515901761
Eve has a problem with clutter. Too much stuff and too easily acquired, it confronts her in every corner and on every surface in her house. When she pledges to tackle the worst offender, her horror of a "hell room", she anticipates finally being able to throw away all of the unnecessary things she can't bring herself to part with: her fifth-grade report card, dried-up art supplies, an old vinyl raincoat. But what Eve discovers isn't just old CDs and outdated clothing, but a fierce desire within herself to hold on to her identity. Our things represent our memories, our history, a million tiny reference points in our lives. If we throw our stuff in the trash, where does that leave us? And if we don't...how do we know what's really important? Everyone has their own hell room, and Eve's battle with her clutter, along with her eventual self-clarity, encourages everyone to dig into their past to declutter their future. Year of No Clutter is a deeply inspiring - and frequently hilarious - examination of why we keep stuff in the first place, and how to let it all go.

MY REVIEW:

I received a complimentary copy of this audiobook for voluntary review consideration.

When I saw this title, I knew that I had to read it! I don’t think that Eve’s problem is really all that uncommon. In this day and age of excess, it’s not surprising that most homes are bursting at the seams. Eve’s husband affectionately refers to her as a “collector.” Eve fears that she is straddling the line between clutter and hording. She manages to keep a tidy house, except for the “Hell Room” which is the biggest room in the house at over 500 square feet that is jam-packed full of stuff that she doesn’t know what to do with and can’t bear to throw away. In this memoir, Eve gives herself a timeline to tackle the Hell Room and deal with its contents.

I can totally relate to Eve! My parents are immigrants who came here with nothing. I was brought up to never throw anything away, “because you never know when you might need it.” When every-day items are on sale (like soap or toilet paper), you stock up and put them in the closet so that you have enough and never run out. Eve enjoys finding a use for something or to re-use something. There’s nothing wrong with that! It’s admirable that she doesn’t want to just throw everything into the trash just because it would be easier. I find that I can identify with a lot of things that Eve struggles with. While Eve just has one Hell Room, I have lots of stuff everywhere in every room. My house is cluttered. I can admit that! Part of that is due to the ages between my two kids. They are 5.5 years apart, so while my older one has outgrown many things I have held onto them for the next one to use. Since having kids, my house has exploded with tons of “stuff.” I can’t tell you how many garbage bags of stuffed toys that I have donated! I have used the same strategies that Eve talks about, such as getting her kids to help in the decluttering process.

Reading this book has given me the kick in the butt that I needed to get back to decluttering. I used to set aside several hours each Saturday to do just that, but life got busy and other priorities took precedence and I fell off-track. I need to get back into the habit of thinning out the excess so that we can find and enjoy the things that we really want!

Callie Beaulieu is a new-to-me narrator, and I liked her. She was interesting to listen to, and her emotions were palpable. She conveys not only Eve’s frustration but also the humor. I thought she was a good fit! Here's a sample of the narration:


MY RATING:
4 stars!! I really enjoyed it, and you should put it in your TBR list! Thanks again to Tantor Audio for the opportunity to review this audiobook!

This book qualifies as:

Waiting On Wednesday: The Glass Spare by Lauren DeStefano @LaurenDeStefano @BalzerandBray


"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Here is this week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection:


TITLE: The Glass Spare
AUTHOR: Lauren DeStefano
PUBLISHER: Balzer + Bray
EXPECTED PUBLICATION DATE: October 24, 2017
FORMAT: Hardcover
LENGTH: 336 pages
GENRE: Young Adult, Fantasy
ISBN: 
9780062491282
A banished princess.
A deadly curse.
A kingdom at war.

Wil Heidle, the only daughter of the king of the world’s wealthiest nation, has grown up in the shadows. Kept hidden from the world in order to serve as a spy for her father—whose obsession with building his empire is causing a war—Wil wants nothing more than to explore the world beyond her kingdom, if only her father would give her the chance.

Until one night Wil is attacked, and she discovers a dangerous secret. Her touch turns people into gemstone. At first Wil is horrified—but as she tests its limits, she’s drawn more and more to the strange and volatile ability. When it leads to tragedy, Wil is forced to face the destructive power within her and finally leave her home to seek the truth and a cure.

But finding the key to her redemption puts her in the path of a cursed prince who has his own ideas for what to do with her power.

With a world on the brink of war and a power of ultimate destruction, can Wil find a way to help the kingdom that’s turned its back on her, or will she betray her past and her family forever?

A new Lauren DeStefano series? Oh, yeah! I loved The Chemical Garden series.


What are you waiting on? Please leave a comment in the section below. If you participate in this meme, please leave a link so I can visit your blog!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

#Book #Review: 2 out of 5 stars for Compulsion by Heidi Ayarbe @BalzerandBray

TITLE: Compulsion
AUTHORS: Heidi Ayarbe
PUBLISHER: Balzer + Bray
PUBLICATION DATE: May 3, 2011
FORMAT: Hardcover
LENGTH: 304 pages
GENRE: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Mental Illness
ISBN: 9780061993862

Today has to be perfect.

Magic.

I look at the clock.

10:14 AM.

Ten fourteen. One plus one is two plus four is six plus ten is sixteen minus one is fifteen minus two is thirteen. OK.

I turn from the clock and walk into the hallway. "Ready."

Saturday will be the third state soccer champion­ship in a row for Jake Martin. Three. A good number. Prime. With Jake on the field, Carson City High can't lose because Jake has the magic: a self-created protection generated by his obsession with prime numbers. It's the magic that has every top soccer university recruiting Jake, the magic that keeps his family safe, and the magic that suppresses his anxiety attacks. But the magic is Jake's prison, because sustaining it means his compulsions take over nearly every aspect of his life.

Jake's convinced the magic will be permanent after Saturday, the perfect day, when every prime has converged. Once the game is over, he won't have to rely on his sister to concoct excuses for his odd rituals. His dad will stop treating him like he is some freak. Maybe he'll even make a friend other than Luc.

But what if the magic doesn't stay?

What if the numbers never leave?

Acclaimed author Heidi Ayarbe has created an honest and riveting portrait of a teen struggling with obsessive compulsive disorder in this breathtaking and courageous novel.

MY REVIEW:

Jake Martin has a form of OCD that I hadn’t heard of before. He is obsessed with prime numbers. If he can’t add-subtract-multiply-divide the digits shown by the current time down to prime numbers, he can’t function. Everything he does is methodical and governed by routine (such as tapping the flamingo’s beak before he enters the house), but it’s his obsession with whittling down the time into prime numbers that really interferes with his day-to-day function.

Jake is the star player on the soccer team, and everything is riding on him to lead the team to victory for the third (see? prime number) state soccer championship. There will be scouts at the game, ready to offer university scholarships. The win is not just for the team but for his own future as well. Jake also believes that his compulsion with prime numbers will cease after the third win. He hopes then he will become “normal.”

Jake’s mom has her own OCD issues. She always thinks she has hit an animal or a person on the road and killed them, and Jake or his dad have to take their mom to retrace her steps to prove to her that she didn’t hit anyone or anything and to show her the front of the car has no evidence of damage.

I do enjoy stories with mental health issues. The story itself is compelling and shows how someone with mental health issues can become paralyzed if anything messes with their routine. However, I was very put off by all the F-bombs and swears in this book. This is supposed to be a Young Adult novel, and I see no reason why the inappropriate language needs to be there. The first chapter is 13 pages, and I took the time to count all the swears: 19 F-bombs, 1 @sshole, 2 G*ddamns, 4 shits, and 1 Jesus. Add to the swears the crude references to hard-ons and copping feels. Really, this is appropriate for a Young Adult novel?? 27 swears in the first 13 pages? I can assure you that the statistics don’t improve from there!! I was going to rate this book three stars, but I have to knock off a star for the grossly inappropriate language in what is supposed to be geared for teens. While I did finish the book out of mere curiosity if the foul language would persist (and it did), I really have no desire to read anything more from this author. All the swearing actually took away from the story, and it interfered with my enjoyment. This is not a book that I would want my kids to read.

MY RATING:
2 stars!! Meh, it was just "okay."

This book qualifies as:

Top Ten Authors That I'd Love To Meet #TopTenTuesday


This is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week, they post a new Top Ten list that one of their bloggers will answer. Everyone is welcome to join!

Today's list is:

Top Ten Authors That I'd Love To Meet

Dean Koontz
I know that Stephen King is referred to as the King of Horror, but Koontz actually earns that title in my book! His books are so scary because they could actually happen! The fear is usually psychological.


J.K. Rowling
The brilliant mind behind Harry Potter and all those creatures and magic!


J.R. Ward
I never knew what a paranormal romance was until I read her Black Dagger Brotherhood series!


Chevy Stevens
This Canadian author writes a thriller like no other!


M.C. Beaton
She introduced me to the cozy mystery genre with her Agatha Raisin series!


John Saul
Here's another favourite author of the horror genre, whose books have kept me reading into the wee hours of the night!


Max Lucado
His books have been an inspiration and a comfort.


Laini Taylor
Her Daughter of Smoke & Bone was my favourite YA book of 2011. An amazing fantasy!


Anne Bishop
Her The Others series is phenomenal! Amazing world building.


Laura Lee Hope
For turning me into a bookworm! I loved her Bobbsey Twins series, and I still have my childhood set to pass down to my kids.


So, what authors would you love to meet? Please let me know in the comments, or leave me a link to your blog post if you are also participating in the meme!

Monday, March 27, 2017

#Book #Review: 4 out of 5 stars for The Shack by Wm. Paul Young

TITLE: The Shack
AUTHORS: Wm. Paul Young
PUBLISHER: Windblown Media
PUBLICATION DATE: July 1, 2007
FORMAT: Paperback
LENGTH: 252 pages
GENRE: Christian Fiction
ISBN: 9780964729230
Mackenzie Allen Philips' youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation, and evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later in the midst of his "Great Sadness," Mack receives a suspicious note, apparently from God, inviting him back to that shack for a weekend.

Against his better judgment he arrives at the shack on a wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare. What he finds there will change Mack's world forever.

In a world where religion seems to grow increasingly irrelevant The Shack wrestles with the timeless question, "Where is God in a world so filled with unspeakable pain?" The answers Mack gets will astound you and perhaps transform you as much as it did him. You'll want everyone you know to read this book!

MY REVIEW:

Mackenzie Allen Philips has had a rough life. His father was an abusive drunk, and Mackenzie took matters into his own hands (in more ways than one) when he left home at the age of 13.

Now, in his 50s, Mackenzie has a loving wife and they have been blessed with five beautiful children. He takes his three youngest children on a camping trip, and they have a wonderful time. On the last day as the family is packing up to return home, tragedy strikes. His two older children are on the lake in a canoe and, when it capsizes, his son is pinned underneath. Mackenzie dives into the water to save his son. When he returns to shore, his youngest child cannot be found. Little Missy was last seen coloring at the picnic table at the family’s campsite, and a ladybug pin is left behind. The FBI is called in and that ladybug pin is the abductor’s calling card, and there have been other similar cases but the outcome is never good and the bodies are never found. Missy’s torn and bloody dress is later found in an abandoned shack, and all hope is lost. What can be worse than the loss of a child? Mackenzie is living every parent’s worst nightmare. The family merely exists in their grief for the next four years, when Mackenzie receives a strange note in the mailbox signed by “Papa” which is his wife’s loving nickname for God. Papa tells Mackenzie that he has missed him and that he’ll be at the shack (yes, the same shack where Missy's dress was found) the following weekend if he wants to get together. Sounds crazy, right? Is someone playing a sick joke on him?

I think we’ve all gone through some difficult times and probably each one of us has questioned God: Why me? Why did this happen? Am I being punished? How could God let this happen? Those are tough questions. In this book, the author answers those questions and attempts to explain where God is during our times of sorrow and suffering. I was very emotional reading this story. It hits close to home, and it’s a tough read. I totally get that our own pain, grief, and sadness can swallow us up and make us unable to move forward. When the bitterness and hatred set in, then it's even harder. I empathize with Mack's struggle to forgive the man who killed his daughter. Who wouldn't?? However, the message behind the story is uplifting and is a comfort and definitely gives food for thought.

I saw this movie in the theatre, and I bawled my eyes out nearly the entire movie! I loved how the Holy Trinity was portrayed, and I thought they each were fabulous. The movie stays very close to the book, except for the ending. I definitely prefer the book ending to the movie ending!

MY RATING:
4 stars!! It was really good, and you should put it on your TBR list!

This book qualifies as:
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