Review of Life of Pi by Yann Martel

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I’ve been hearing about this book for a few years now and I ended up with a free copy.  I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started reading it. I mean, how could a boy and a tiger survive at sea for over 200 days? I was curious to find out.
I like the way the story is told,  but it’s a very sad tale. The main character, Pi, loses his whole family when their ship sinks and he’s stuck in a lifeboat in the middle of the ocean with some zoo animals. I could feel his despair, sorrow and desperation.  When he describes eating animals at first, it’s obvious how conflicted and guilty he feels. I thought of what I would do in that situation since I’m also a vegetarian. I think most people would end up living off of whatever they could to survive.
As things get worse and worse for Pi and his passenger Richard Parker (the bengal tiger) I found myself surprised that they were still alive. They survived quite a few problems (hunger, thirst, exposure to the elements) and started giving up.
When Pi is finally rescued, I was happy for him, but it wasn’t the end of his story or journey. He meets with officials from the ship’s company and they don’t believe his tale. The alternate version of it sheds a whole new, horrible light on what he has been through.
I really enjoyed the author’s writing style. It made me interested in what he was saying and I never found myself getting bored. I like the chapter set up and always wanted to see what would happen next. Pi Patel is an interesting character, full of wit, intelligence and determination.
If you haven’t read it yet, it’s a good read.

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Heart of the Pack by Jenny Frame

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Heart of the Pack is a paranormal lesbian romance book with werewolves in it.  Some common themes such as a mate being chosen at birth and having to hide their identity from humans are used, but some new things are introduced.

I love the setting of this book. Wolfgang County sounds like a nice, welcoming place. Everyone cares about each other and they’re like a big family. They own businesses, have families and just happen to all be werewolves. These wolves are a little different because they can shift, or partially shift, whenever they want to. No full moon required.

The book is told from three different points of view, but it’s all written in third person. The first pov is the main character, Caden’s. She’s second in command of the pack and she’s a “lone wolf.” The second point of view belongs to Selena, an anxious newcomer who’s trying to escape her horrible family, and the third is the antagonist Leroux’s. She’s the leader of a pack of bad werewolves. The characters are well written and they each have their own distinct voice. It worked pretty well, but I wish Leroux was a little more fleshed out.

There are a lot of side characters and most of them (the main character’ mates, Selena’s family) are well written with the exception of the “elite wolves” (soldiers).  I honestly didn’t know what gender half of them were.

I like that the couples were a mix of gay and straight and that they used the terms “mater” (for the submissive wolves) and “pater” (for dominant wolves) regardless of gender. The way mating worked was a bit odd, but also different than what I’ve read in other werewolf stories.

The only things I didn’t like were the sex scenes and the fact that not much was done about the bad wolves. I get why the sex scenes were included, but they were awkward and creepy. “Fill up my belly!” weirded me out every time.

I gave this 3 out of 5 stars. I’d read a sequel if there was one. I recommend it to people who like werewolf romance stories. I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

If you’re interested in purchasing this book, you can find it here: http://www.amazon.com/Heart-Wolfgang-County-Jenny-Frame/dp/1626395667?ie=UTF8&keywords=heart%20of%20the%20pack&qid=1463453615&ref_=sr_1_1&s=books&sr=1-1

Review of Spring 2016 Penguin Teen Preview Sampler

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This sampler was ok, but it’s not the best one that I’ve read. It’s not the worst either.
The Dark Days Club is the only one that I want to read the rest of. I’m a sucker (no pun intended) for vampire books and I want to know more about the “ghouls.”

Salt to the Sea isn’t something that I normally read. The writing was nice, but books set in war times don’t interest me much.

I have been hearing a lot about Rebel of the Sands, but I’m not sure that I’d be interested in reading more of it. The main character was ok, but I couldn’t see why the book is being so heavily hyped by people.

Wink Poppy Midnight is another one that I’ve been hearing a lot about. The characters were interesting, but I had trouble knowing who was talking. I’m not sure if that was a formatting issue or if the author really does abruptly switch characters.

The Passion of Dolssa was alright. The idea of the main character using her visions to help people find their match was nice.

I like getting these samplers because they help me decide whether or not I want to read books that I’ve been hearing about and they help me discover new ones. I got this for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Review of Be Careful What You Witch For by Thomas Hoobler

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I love the cover of this book! Be Careful What You Witch For is about a fourteen year old girl named Olivia who is staying in New York with her aunt while her movie star parents are filming a movie. She feels out of place in her new school, is on the popular girl’s bad side and then she find out that her aunt is  a Wiccan.  Maybe this year won’t be so bad after all.

I like all of the main characters in the book and I could picture each one.  I was happy for Olivia when she made friends with Paul and Dulcimer. At least she wasn’t alone.  Alex was funny with the way he relates everything to X-Men. I just wish the Olivia would’ve made better choices because she made a huge mess of things. Luckily for her, he aunt had an 800 year old witch friend who could bail her out.

I like the way the author handles the topic of Wicca. You can tell he researched the subject thoroughly.  Even on a non-magickal level, I like that he shows that all actions have consequences and the we shouldn’t try to change people to suit our needs.
I got this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Review of Braineater Jones by Stephen Kozeniewski

I got this book as a birthday gift from my friend Meghan (Who is also a blogger. Check her out here.) and the author was nice enough to write me a little note in it. Very cool.

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My first impression was that I loved the cover and description. It fits with the book being set in the 1930’s. The main character, Braineater Jones, has just returned from the dead and he’s trying to figure out what’s going on, where he is, and, most importantly, who he is. He ends up being taken in by a guy named Lazar who teaches him that he need to drink liquor to survive. Unfortunately, Prohibition is still going on.

Jones keeps a journal of everything that’s going on, so the book is written in that style, and he moves into an office about Hallowed Grounds, the speakeasy owned by the Old Man (a fetus in a jar). From there, he starts working as a private investigator for other undead people in a slum called The Mat. Things get more interesting from there.

There are all kinds of things in this book: double crosses, voodoo, 30’s slang, a zombie brothel (where you can literally build your dream girl), corpses in lust (as promised on the cover. And yes, it was “as gross as it sounds”), murders, conspiracies, talking heads, etc. I would go into more detail, but I don’t want to spoil anything.

I like that this is a totally unique take on the living dead. It’s not a virus. It can’t be spread through a bite. Some people just come back. As long as they get enough alcohol, they can function just like a normal person. If not, they turn into a mindless, brain eating monster.

I’d recommend this book to anyone who likes zombies and being entertained.

Review of The Casquette Girls: A Novel by Alys Arden

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This book was amazing! The characters, setting, descriptions and plot are all excellent.  The story starts with Adele and her father returning to New Orleans after The Storm. The opening scene of the book with them driving through the city is so well described that I could picture the destroyed homes and abandoned cars. It really sets the tone for the whole book.
All Adele wants to do is go back to her arts school, see her friends, design clothes and daydream about her Mom’s assistant, Emile and be a normal 15 year old. Unfortunately, her life gets a lot more complicated. Especially once she starts being able to control objects with her mind and unintentionally breaks a centuries old curse.
While trying to learn about her new powers she meets two mysterious brothers, Gabe and Nikko, gets reunited with some of her friends and starts at a new school.  Things start going back to normal for her until she discovers her ancestor’s journal hidden in the floor boards of her bedroom. From there, everything gets a bit crazy.
The story has a bit of everything: magic, telekinesis, voodoo, vampires, shape shifters, plot twists, drag queens, romance, family and friendship. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys fantasy, paranormal, or young adult books.

I got this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Review of Seize the Night edited by Christopher Golden

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Seize the Night is a great collection of twenty vampire stories by best selling authors. I liked some more than others, but they were all well written. There are mentions of rape, drugs, violence, swearing and, of course, lots of blood. If you don’t like reading about those things, you might not like this book.

The editor, Christopher Golden, starts the book off with “Reclaiming the Shadows” An Introduction.” In it, he mentions that vampire myth and legend has expanded a lot since Dracula and touches on some of the vampire legends of various ethnic and religious groups.

“Up in Old Vermont” by Scott Smith is about a woman who’s down on her luck until she gets a job offer from an elderly couple and moves in with them. Things are going well for her until one night when everything goes wrong. I like the ending of this one. It’s a great start for the book.

“Something Lost, Something Gained” by Seanan McGuire is a completely different take on vampires.

“On the Dark Side of Sunlight Basin”  by Michael Koryta is based on a Native American legend and features a camping trip gone wrong.

“The Neighbors” by Sherrilyn Kenyon is about a curious young boy spying on his neighbors. What he finds terrifies him. I thought this one was fun and it has a nice little twist at the end.

“Paper Cuts” by Gary A. Braunbeck is another completely new approach to vampires. This one is about a woman who gets more than she bargained for at her local used book shop. I really liked this one. The backstory is interesting and the monsters are nothing I would’ve ever thought of.

“Miss Fondevant” by Charlaine Harris is about a sixth grader who’s trying to find out what her teacher is up to. This one has some good suspenseful moments.

“In a Cavern, in a Canyon” by Laird Barron is told by a woman who is facing a monster from her youth. This one was ok.

“Whiskey and Light” by Dana Cameron is about a community who fears a demon who lives on a rocky hill. Each harvest season, a priest comes to bless them and keep it at bay, but what happens when the priest doesn’t come one year?

“We Are All Monsters Here” by Kelley Armstrong is about a college student trying to survive a mass wave a vampirism. This one was good. I like that the main character was smart and strong.

“May the End Be Good” by Tim Lebbon is about a Monk trying to survive the vampire apocalypse, but it’s the humans that might be the real monsters.

“Mrs. Popkin” by Dan Chaon and Lynda Barry is about a boy named Todd who lives an isolated life with his bipolar mother until some new neighbors move in. I felt bad for Todd and Cecilia. This one has magic and monsters.

“Direct Report” by Leigh Perry is about a woman who is looking for work after the company she previously worked for went out of business. She gets more than she bargained for. This one is a pretty messed up, but then ending was good.

“Shadow and Thirst” by John Langan is about a creepy tower and what evil secrets it holds. It’s a weird and sad tale.

“Mother” by Joe McKinney is about a man named Ed Drinker who makes documentaries and writes non-fiction books about murders, chupacabras and debunking legends of backwoods monsters, until he comes face to face with one.

“Blood” by Robert Shearman is about a high school teacher from England who falls in love with one of his students and brings her with him on a vacation in Paris. They do all the touristy stuff and then have dinner at a strange restaurant. I didn’t really like this one. It ended abruptly and it was just weird.

“The Yellow Death” by Lucy A Snyder is about a tough woman trying to survive the vampire apocalypse after her fiancé goes crazy. When she is reunited with her sister, she thinks everything will be ok, but all is not as it seems. I like the way vampires can be detected in this one.

“The Last Supper” by Brian Keene has a lonely vampire as a main character who is wandering around North America looking for companionship.

“Separator” by Rio Youers is about a man working for a development company in the Philippines who should have listened to the local legends.

“What Kept You So Long” by John Ajvide Lindqvist also features a vampire as a main character and takes place in Sweden. He is a truck driver who picks up hitchhikers for food. The woman he picks up on this trip is a little different from the rest.

“Blue Hell” by David Wellington is the last story and was a good way to close out the book. It wasn’t scary, but it was good.

My favorite stories were “Up in Old Vermont”, “The Neighbors”, “Paper Cuts” and “Miss Fondevant.” My least favorite was “Blood.” I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a good vampire or horror story.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.