Saturday, October 31, 2009

Review: Karma for Beginners

Karma For Beginners cover
Title: Karma for Beginners
Author: Jessica Blank
Genre: Young Adult
Pub Date: August 2009, Hyperion
Hardcover, 305 pages
Book Source: The Book Report Network on behalf of Disney-Hyperion


Fourteen-year-old Tessa has never had a normal life. Her mother, a frustrated hippie with awful taste in men, has seen to that. But when her mom pulls her out of school to live at an ashram in the Catskills, Tessa goes from being a freak among normal people to being an outcast among freaks. Freaks who worship an orange robe-wearing guru. And while her mom is buzzing with spiritual energy, and finding a little too much favor with the guru, all Tessa feels are weird vibes.

Unless she’s with Colin, the gorgeous guy who fixes trucks for the ashram. The connection they share is the most spiritual thing Tessa has ever felt. But he’s older—like illegally older—and Tessa’s taking dangerous risks to spend time with him. Soon her life is blooming into a psychedelic web of secrets and lies and it’s clear that something’s about to give way. When it does, will she have anyone to hold on to? Will she even know herself?

My Thoughts

Firstly, thank you to Nicole with The Book Report Network for sending me a copy of this book! Simply from reading the synopsis, I thought it sounded like an interesting premise and a promising story. Upon starting the book, I realized it was set in the 80's, which I also found to be a nice change from the modern setting that is usually depicted in stories lately. While I initially found the relationship between Tessa and her mother (and their move to an ashram) intriguing, ultimately the story fell flat for me.

I think the reason it didn't resonate is that I simply couldn't relate to the characters. I have never felt the way Tessa did, nor did I ever contemplate acting the way she did and making some of the decisions she chose. While this is supposed to be a young adult novel, I was really turned off by the amount of sex and drug use that was depicted. I guess it happens, but I have to admit if I had a 14-year old daughter, I would not want her reading this novel, nor do I really feel that is appropriate for anyone in that general age group. The first part of the story that focused on the move to the ashram and the effect it had on Tessa and her mother was certainly interesting, but the story started going downhill shortly thereafter.

The writing is generally solid, with my only complaint being the use of first person point of view. I seem to have become more sensitive to that lately and I really thought some of the phrases felt awkward simply because they were written in first-person. So, while I can appreciate that many people would probably enjoy Karma for Beginners, it did not work for me, nor would I feel comfortable recommending it to others.

My rating:

Other reviews of Karma for Beginners:

If you have reviewed this book and would like to see a link to your review here, please leave a comment with the permalink to your review!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Review: The Victor

Title: The Victor
Author: Marlayne Giron
Genre: Historical Romance
Pub Date: 2009, Tate Publishing
Trade paperback, 272 pages
Book Source: Received from the author for review.


A benevolent King;
...his sword of power;
...a ruthless traitor bent on revenge;
...and the faithful son who stands in his way with the woman destined to share his throne.

Who shall emerge as the victor in this epic struggle between good and evil to govern the lives of hapless men?

My Thoughts

Many, many apologies to Marlayne Giron--I should have read and reviewed this weeks ago but have been in a bit of a reading funk lately as life has gotten in the way of my literary pursuits. I am hopeful that reading The Victor has brought me out of that funk--I greatly enjoyed this historical tale of betrayal, victory and romance.

While not without its flaws, The Victor is an enjoyable read that has a happy ending--my favorite kind! The story is simple: a man named Lucius seeks revenge against the king for banishment and nearly succeeds before the king's son saves the day. And you know what, the plot line works, plain and simple. My biggest issue was getting a grasp on the passage of time. Too often "many years passed," or something happened "year after year," leaving me with an uncertain feeling as to just how much time actually did pass throughout the story--ultimately, about 6-7 years. And perhaps the usage of "thee," "thou," and "thy" seemed a bit awkward at times, but generally I did not find it to be a detraction.

Overall, I thought The Victor was a nice read and never boring, which was nice. Giron minced no words, scenes, or characters to convey her exciting tale. I heartily recommend this book if you are looking for an epic historical romance that is a relatively easy read and ends with everyone getting his or her just desserts. For more information on Marlayne Giron and The Victor, please visit her website!

My rating: 4 stars

If you have reviewed this book and would like to see a link to your review here, please leave a comment with the link to your review!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Winner: The Lost Chalice

Somehow I completely forgot to post the winner of my copy of Vernon Silver's The Lost Chalice! Oops! So without further delay, I'd like you all to join me in congratulating...

Please send me your mailing information within 48 hours and I will ship the book to you by the end of the week! If I do not hear from you by this time on Friday, I will have to choose a new winner... Thanks to everyone who participated in the contest. Keep your eyes open for more contests soon!


Sunday, October 18, 2009

David Douglas's Demon's Bane Giveaway!

David Douglas Banner

Through the wonder that is the Internet, I've had the pleasure to be in touch a bit with David Douglas, author of Demon's Bane, a high fantasy novel that is due out in December or January. Given that I LOVE fantasy novels, I am definitely excited to read Demon's Bane! So I thought I would share with all of you the contest that David Douglas is hosting on his site--a lucky winner will receive a copy of Demon's Bane once it has been published! The first winner will be chosen the last week of October, so be sure to visit his site to learn more about the contest and how you can enter. There are also stories and excerpts from Demon's Bane, along with lots of other fun stuff!


Saturday, October 10, 2009

GIVEAWAY: The Lost Chalice

Book cover
Well, I tried as hard as I could to finish The Lost Chalice by Vernon Silver, but I guess I have simply determined that nonfiction books are not for me.

I actually thought this book was very interesting, and I am sure that lovers of art and art history--or just history in general--would really enjoy it. The Lost Chalice is well-written and has some interesting "characters" but I just never could get into the story, despite its many positives.

I would like to give this book to another book-blogger out there who can do it justice, so I am holding a giveaway for my copy.

The rules this time are easy... (1) Simply leave a comment to enter the contest! (2) Become a follower/friend on Google Friend connect for an additional entry (or if you already are a follower, let me know).

This contest is open to residents in the US only, sorry. You have until midnight EST on Saturday, October 17th to enter! Good luck!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Note to Publishers and Authors

Greetings! My apologies to those of you to whom I have promised reviews that have not yet been written. Please know that you and your books have not been forgotten; I have simply been swamped at work and have fallen far behind with my reading and reviewing. Rest assured that your books will be reviewed as soon as I possibly can, and I will contact you when the review has been posted. Thank you for your patience and understanding!

One additional note: I am really cutting back on the number books that I take for review at this time. Because my schedule is so hectic, it is not fair for me to accept a book to review and then not manage to get to it within a reasonable amount of time. Of course, exceptions will be made on a case-by-case basis, but I simply want to be fair to all of you!

I am hopeful that my schedule will normalize a bit in the next month or two and that you will see more reviews coming soon!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Belated Announcement: Winner of The Popularity Rules!

First off my apologies for completely forgetting to announce the winner of my copy of The Popularity Rules by Abby McDonald... Thank you to everyone who entered. has selected the winner, so congrats to...

Katie of Katie's Bookshelf!!!

I have sent you an email, please let me know your mailing address within 48 hours, or I will have to select another winner. Congrats again and I hope you enjoy The Popularity Rules!!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Winner: Signed Copy of Fire!!!

Ladies & Gentlemen, we have a winner of the SIGNED COPY of Fire by Kristin Cashore... Drumroll, please... Congrats to:

Krista of

I've sent you an email, as well, but please send me your mailing information within the next 48 hours so that I can pass it along to the Fire Tour folks. If I don't hear from Krista in 48 hours, I will choose a new winner...

Thanks to everyone who entered the contest, I hope you've enjoyed the awesome blog tour for Fire!!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Audiobook Review: Cat & Mouse

Book cover
Title: Cat & Mouse (Abridged)
Author: James Patterson
Genre: Mystery, Suspense
Pub Date: December 2007, Hachette Audio


The latest of installment of the bestselling Alex Cross series finds James Patterson's intrepid Washington, D.C., homicide detective besieged by not one, but two deadly killers. To make matters worse, Cross has fallen deeply in love with Christine Johnson -- last seen in Jack & Jill-- a relationship that leaves him and his family all the more vulnerable to the deadly game his murderous opponents have devised. 

My Thoughts

My apologies for the drought between reviews. Work has kept me VERY busy lately. I did manage to get through this audiobook during my commutes over the past week and was glad to be listening to books on CD again.

I have not read many of Patterson's Alex Cross novels, but those that I have read so far have generally been exciting and suspenseful. Cat & Mouse was no exception. As always, I can live without the sex that Patterson inevitably includes but without a doubt he knows how to write a thriller that will keep you on your toes. One downside to this audiobook was that the quality of the recording was not that great--there are two readers and they were obviously recorded in different conditions; the two recordings just did not seem to blend together very well.

Overall, while the poor recording quality was distracting, I did enjoy this book and look forward to listening to more Patterson novels soon. His books, with their short chapters, really do work well for my commutes.

My rating: 3 stars

Other reviews of Cat & Mouse:

If you have reviewed this book and would like to see your site listed above, please leave a comment with the link to your review!