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My Progress:

5 / 30 books. 17% done!

2024 Literary Escapes Challenge

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- Australia (1)
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My Progress:

8 / 51 states. 16% done!

2024 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

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6 / 50 books. 12% done!

2024 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge

11 / 50 books. 22% done!

Booklist Queen's 2024 Reading Challenge

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22 / 50 books. 44% done!

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19 / 52 books. 37% done!

2024 Build Your Library Reading Challenge

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16 / 40 books. 40% done!

2024 Pioneer Book Reading Challenge

13 / 40 books. 33% done!

2024 Craving for Cozies Reading Challenge

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2 / 25 books. 8% done!

2024 Medical Examiner's Mystery Reading Challenge

2024 Mystery Marathon Reading Challenge

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10 / 26.2 miles. 38% done!

Mount TBR Reading Challenge

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10 / 100 books. 10% done!

2024 Pick Your Poison Reading Challenge

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23 / 104 books. 22% done!

Around the Year in 52 Books Reading Challenge

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22 / 52 books. 42% done!

Disney Animated Movies Reading Challenge

My Progress

22 / 165 books. 13% done!
Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Why Cage a Grave? The Possibilities Are Endlessly Creepy ...

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Verity Boone hasn't been back to the small mountain town of Catawissa, Pennsylvania, since she left it behind as a toddler.  Raised by an aunt in Boston after her mother's death, Verity barely remembers "home."  Still, the 17-year-old is excited to return.  In Catawissa, she'll finally be able to meet her fiancee who, judging by his romantic letters, is absolutely perfect.  

Verity is confused by the cool reception she receives in Catawissa—not just from the father she barely knows, but also from his housekeeper, Verity's intended, and pretty much everyone else in town—until she discovers the source of their apprehension.  Outside the village's cemetery gates are two graves, one belonging to Verity's mother, the other to her mother's sister.  Unlike those inside the cemetery, these are caged.  The sight sends shivers down Verity's spine.  No one in town will explain the cages except to say that, sometimes, Catawissa's dead refuse to stay put.  Verity can't believe the town gossip—that her mother and aunt were dangerous witches who needed to be imprisoned even in death—but she's still unnerved by the idea.  What is the real reason for the caged graves?  Who was Verity's mother, really?  And is it true, what the townsfolk say about restless spirits?  In between trying to understand her confounding fiancee, ignoring her growing feelings for another man, and getting to know her distant father, Verity intends to find out the answers to the town's deepest, darkest mysteries.

The Caged Graves, a haunting historical mystery by Dianne K. Salerni, was inspired by the intriguing existence of two caged graves in present-day Catawissa.  No one knows the reason for the cages, but the possibilities are spooky indeed.  Salerni's imagined story definitely provides a few chills, although it's more of a mystery than a horror show.  While the tale is predictable in some ways, it's surprising in others, making it on-the-whole, a very compelling novel.  The ending did disappoint a bit—still, I enjoyed this one.

(Readalikes:  Reminded me a little of The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for brief, mild language (no F-bombs), violence, scary images, and mild sexual innuendo

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find
Monday, December 29, 2014

Another Spunky Kagen Narrator = Another Series to Love

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

With their daddy recently deceased, it's Tess and Birdie against the world.  Or, at least against their mother.  Beautiful, bitter Louise has never quite understood her daughters, whom the neighbors have labeled the "Finley ghouls."  If she gets wind of Birdie's newest quirk—believing her father is not dead at all, just living it up in Boca Raton—Louise is sure to lock her younger, slower daughter up in the insane asylum for good.  Which is why Tess has to convince Birdie of the truth.  Their lighthearted, jokester of a dad is dead.  No one knows that better than Tess; after all, she's the one who killed him.  

Filled with grief and fear, young Tess must use all her (considerable) pluck and grit to save her aggravating, but beloved little sister.  She believes she's on her own until help comes along in the most unlikely of forms ...

With her warm prose and spunky characters, Lesley Kagen has quickly written her way into my heart.  I've loved all of the books I've read by her.  So, really, it's no surprise that I adored The Undertaking of Tess as well.  Although it's just a novella, the story overflows with bright, vivid life.  Tess is my favorite kind of child narrator—not only is she funny, brave, and loyal (at least to her sister), but she is authentically so.  Seen through her innocent eyes, her story rings ever more true, ever more heart-wrenching, ever more hopeful.

I missed the Finley sisters the minute I finished this novella.  Thankfully, Kagen continues their story in her new novel, The Resurrection of Tess Blessing.  I seriously can't wait to see what happens to Tess next!

(Readalikes:  The Resurrection of Tess Blessing as well as Whistling in the Dark and Good Graces, all by Lesley Kagen)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for language (no F-bombs) and sexual innuendo

To the FTC, with love:  I bought a finished copy of The Undertaking of Tess with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger.  Ha ha.  
Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Sad, But Hopeful Tale a Satisfying Read

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Living and working in a mining town comes with a certain amount of risk.  Everyone knows what could happen, but no one ever expects it to really happen.  Until it does.  In Swandyke, Colorado, a small town near Tenmile Ridge, the inevitable occurs on an otherwise ordinary Spring day in 1920.  Just as the schoolchildren are heading home for the day, a split of snow cracks off the mountain, creating an avalanche with the deadly, unstoppable force of a speeding train.  Hurtling toward the children at the base of the mountain, the heavy snow threatens to bury them all.   

As the tragedy unfolds, residents of Swandyke look on in horror.  Those with children—including two sisters who haven't spoken to each other in decades; a murderer hiding from the law; a prostitute with a hidden identity; a Civil War veteran; and the superintendent's wife, who guards her own secrets—gather to worry, hope and pray.  While each waits to learn the fate of their little ones, their fears, prejudices, and secret longings swim to the surface.  With so many lives hanging in the balance, can the people of Swandyke put aside their many differences and come together as a community?  Or will the avalanche be their ultimate undoing?

Whiter Than Snow by Sandra Dallas is a sad, but hopeful tale about an ordinary town on an average day and how one cruel twist of fate affects everyone who lives there.  It's a vivid, moving story about redemption, forgiveness, and the quiet strength we often never know we possess.  While it's a bit depressing, I also found this novel to be both compelling and touching.  A very satisfying read altogether.  

(Readalikes:  Um, I can't think of anything.  Can you?)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for language (no F-bombs), violence, and some sexual content

To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished copy of Whiter Than Snow from the generous folks at The Book Report Network.  Thank you!
Monday, December 22, 2014

Wanted: (More Than) A Few Good Men

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

You've heard the old adage:  A good man is hard to find.  That may be true, but as David S. Baxter—a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints' First Quorum of the Seventy—argues, they are absolutely essential for the future of families, governments, and societies.  As a man who grew up without the loving guidance of a father, Baxter knows firsthand why such influences are so important.

Few would disagree that the world needs more good men.  The real question is, how does one become such?  In What Good Men Do, Baxter examines the lives of several everyday men, unsung heroes who showed courage, compassion, and determination even in the most trying of circumstances.  By looking at the traits which defined their characters, Baxter creates a list of values all men (and women) can aspire to acquire.  These include: taking risks, helping the needy, leading one's family with patience and love, standing up for what is right, etc.  This leads Baxter to the most renowned example of a good man—the Savior, Jesus Christ.  Insists Baxter, studying His life, His teachings and His atonement shows us how to live as did the greatest man who ever walked this Earth. 

Although Baxter aims his remarks specifically at men of the LDS faith, his message really is for everyone.  It's nothing you haven't heard before, but it still provides some great food for thought.  If every man (and woman) strove to live up to the ideals Baxter discusses in his book, the world would be a much brighter place indeed.

(Readalikes:  Hm, I can't think of anything.  Can you?)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for one brief, vague reference to rape

To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished copy of What Good Men Do from the generous folks at Cedar Fort.  Thank you!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Save Me Too Skimpy to Satisfy

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

With a thriving medical practice, a handsome husband, and an old farmhouse she's slowly turning into the perfect family home, Daphne Mitchell has it all.  Just about.  At 37, she knows she's running out of time to convince Owen to try for the baby she's always desired.  She can't understand his hesitation—he'd be a wonderful father.  The pediatric oncologist spends his every waking hour caring for children, for heaven's sake!  He says someday they'll have their own; Daphne can't—won't—wait that long. 

Then, Owen drops the bomb that shatters all Daphne's careful illusions:  He's met someone else.  A beautiful, poised, younger someone else.  Shocked and heartbroken, Daphne tries to cope.  When a tragic accident adds insult to injury, she must decide what is most important: pursuing the "perfect" life she's always dreamed of, or salvaging what she can out of the one she's already living.

As you have probably gathered, Save Me by Kristyn Kusek Lewis (available December 30, 2014) is about a woman trying to come to terms with the fact that her husband cheated on her.  And ... that's pretty much all it's about.  While I sympathized with Daphne, especially at the beginning of the novel, my patience with her and her plight wore out fast.  Her fickle indecision drove me crazy, as did her immaturity.  Her decisions didn't always make sense to me, which made the ending of her story unsatisfying for me.  Although well-written, in the end, Save Me just didn't do it for me.  I wanted a fuller, more complex story; a cast of characters with more depth, less selfishness; and an ending that felt more optimistic than depressing.  Oh well.

(Readalikes:  Hm, nothing is coming to mind.)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for strong language and mild sexual content

To the FTC, with love:  I received an ARC of Save Me from the generous folks at Hachette via those at BookSparks PR.  Thank you!
Tuesday, December 16, 2014

My Top Ten(ish) Favorites of 2014 (With a Giveaway!)

Even though I have a million other things I should be doing right now, I didn't want to miss out on this week's Top Ten Tuesday.  The question this week is:  What are (were?) your favorite reads of 2014.  I can't wait to see what's on everyone's lists!  Are there any last minute books I need to buy for myself Santa to bring me?  If you want to join in the TTT fun, hop on over to The Broke and the Bookish and sign up.  It's lots of fun!

Here are my Top Ten Favorite Reads of 2014 (they're not in any particular order, but you'll want to pay special attention to #1):

1.)  Forbidden by Kimberley Griffiths Little—I loved this lush historical YA novel set in the exotic Mesopotamian desert.  It's full of romance, danger, adventure, and heart.

Thanks to the extremely generous Little and her publisher, HarperCollins, I ended up with an extra copy of Forbidden.  So, I'm going to pass it on to one lucky winner.  You'll love this beautiful hardcover volume, with its gorgeous cover and riveting story.  Use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter.  Giveaway will end December 31, 2014 and is only open to residents of the U.S. and Canada.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

2.  Everything by Kate Morton—No, the Australian author does not have a new book out (I wish), I just can't choose which of hers I like best.  Since I read all of her wonderful novels this year, I'm going to count all four as my favorites.

3.  UnWholly and UnDivided by Neal Shusterman—The UnWind series has been a favorite ever since I started it.  I read the last two installments this month and they're just as good as the first ones.  The whole series is excellent—exciting, original, and thought-provoking.  I highly recommend it.

4.  Cress by Marissa Meyer—The Lunar Chronicles is another of my favorite YA series.  It's original, clean and fun.  I loved the third book just as much as the first two.  I've already purchased tickets for my daughter and I to see Meyer when she comes to Arizona in February!

5.  The Secret Place by Tana French—All of the books in French's Dublin Murder Squad series are intriguing and well-written.  I thought The Secret Place was especially clever because it took place over just one day.

6.  Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson—I've long been a fan of Woodson's lyrical, thought-provoking fiction.  This memoir-in-verse is different, but just as compelling and thoughtful.

7.  Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty—Lots of people are raving about this entertaining novel, which is both laugh-out-loud funny and heartbreaking.

8.  Bone Gap by Laura Ruby—This very original novel doesn't come out until March, but it's one you'll want to keep on your radar.  I loved it because it was suspenseful, unique, and had a twist I've never encountered before in fiction.  Ever.

9.  Save the Cat by Blake Snyder—This book on screenwriting is a must-read for any would-be novelist.  It breaks down the elements of a good story in a way that's logical, entertaining and kinda mind-blowing.

10.  Bones Never Lie by Kathy Reichs—The latest installment in one of my favorite adult series, this book gave me all the feels.  I pretty much swooned over the ending.  Love.

What fabulous books did you read this year?  Which should I be adding to my TBR list?
Friday, December 12, 2014

Creepy-Crawly Swamp Murder Mystery Entertaining and Compelling

         (Image from Barnes & Noble)

Note:  While this review will not contain spoilers for Swamp Bones, it may inadvertently reveal plot surprises from earlier Tempe Brennan books.  As always, I recommend reading books in a series in order.

When forensic anthropologist Tempe Brennan visits a friend in Florida, she expects to spend her vacation relaxing in the sun.  No such luck.  Almost as soon as she steps foot into The Sunshine State, she's drawn into a puzzling mystery.  Finding human remains inside a dead, 18-foot long Burmese python is a new one for Tempe, but "reading" bones is certainly not.  It's what she does, what she knows, where she excels.  Her diagnosis?  These bones come from a murdered human.  

The search for the victim's identity leads Tempe into the strange world of python hunting.  Each year, hundreds of wildlife wranglers flock to the Everglades for a 30-day, Fish and Wildlife-sanctioned snake hunt.  They track Burmese pythons, competing for prize money and bragging rights, while helping the state control the insidious, overpopulated species.  The question is:  Who was hunting more than snakes?  And why? Tempe is determined to find out who killed the poor woman whose remains she keeps finding inside the bellies of wild animals.  So much for a vacation.

I love Kathy Reichs' Tempe Brennan series, so it's no surprise that I enjoyed this one (in spite of the fact that it made my skin crawl).  As always with her books, I learned plenty of new things—not that I really wanted to know anything about giant snakes and other Everglades critters (yuck!), but still ... she took me inside a vivid, intriguing world that I never knew about before.  Tempe is, of course, an entertaining narrator.  Her brushes with the local yokels are comical, her adventures always suspenseful and exciting.  If you're a Tempe fan, you definitely don't want to miss out on her capers in the Everglades.  The e-novella is available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of other books in the Tempe Brennan series, including Deja Dead; Death Du Jour; Deadly Decisions; Fatal Voyage; Grave Secrets; Bare Bones; Monday Mourning; Cross Bones; Break No Bones; Bones to Ashes; Devil Bones; 206 Bones; Spider Bones; Flash and Bones; Bones Are Forever; Bones in Her Pocket (e-novella); Bones of the Lost; and Bones Never Lie)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for language (no F-bombs), violence, blood/gore

To the FTC, with love:  I bought a copy of Swamp Bones from Amazon with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger.  Ha ha.
Tuesday, December 09, 2014

TTT: Favorite New-To-Me Authors

It's been awhile since I've participated in Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by the lovelies over at The Broke and the Bookish), my favorite weekly bookish meme.  So, even though I should be catching up on reviews (not to mention folding laundry, cleaning house, writing Christmas cards, etc.), I'm going to join in the fun.  This week's topic is:  Top Ten New-To-Me-Authors I Read in 2014.  My list follows.  With the exception of #1, they are in no particular order:

Oh, wait!  Before you read on, check out the giveaway I'm hosting.  It's for one copy of The Halcyon Bird, the second installment in Kat Beyer's demon catchers series.  Since no one has entered it yet, you have an excellent chance of winning, so click over there right now and enter.

1.  Kate Morton—I read all four of this Australian author's novels this year.  Why?  Because I love her.  Her lush family sagas are filled with mystery, romance, drama, and history.  My only complaint about Morton is that she doesn't write fast enough!  (see my reviews of The Distant Hours; The Secret Keeper; The Forgotten Garden; and The House at Riverton)

2. M. D. Waters—I enjoyed both Archetype and Prototype.  The two-book series is action-packed and thought-provoking.  I'll be interested to see what this author does next.

3.  Ryan Graudin—If you haven't read Graudin's newest novel, The Walled City, then you're really missing out.  It's an exciting, provocative and compelling read, which easily became one of my favorite reads of 2014.  I haven't read All That Glows yet, but I definitely intend to.

4.  Dianne K. Salerni—I read all three of this author's novels this year and was impressed by the variety of her subject matter and the skill of her storytelling.  (see my reviews of The Eighth Day; The Caged Grave; and We Hear the Dead)

5.  Em Garner—Teen zombie novels are a dime a dozen these days, but Em Garner's struck me as different.  More sympathetic.  I enjoyed both Contaminated and Mercy Mode.

6.  Holly Black—Believe it or not, I'd never read anything by Black until a couple months ago.  Doll Bones intrigued me from the moment I heard about it.  The spooky middle grade novel did not disappoint.

7.  Liane Moriarty—Like lots of other readers, I adored Big Little Lies.  The warmth, the humor, the social commentary—I loved it all.  Her other novels are all on my TBR pile mountain mountain chain.

8.  Elizabeth Blackwell—I just finished While Beauty Slept, which I really enjoyed.  As its her first novel, I know we have much to look forward to from this promising author!

9.  Kate A. BoormanWinterkill, Boorman's debut YA novel, is another one of my favorite reads from this year.  Two more books in the series will be coming out and I can't wait.

10.  Julie Berry—Berry's debut, All the Truth That's in Me, is a powerful, lyrical read.  I enjoyed it and am looking forward to reading the author's new middle grade novel, The Scandalous Sisterhood of Pickwillow Place.

There you have it.  I didn't read too many debut authors this year, but these are the ones that stuck out to me.  How about you?  Find any awesome authors this year?  I'd love to check out even more new-to-me writers in 2015, so, please, leave me any recommendations.

Happy Top Ten Tuesday!

*All author photos from authors' websites.

**I can't think of anything more to say.  Does that mean I'm done procrastinating and have to do something productive now?  Aw, man!  Say it ain't so.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Heart-Shattering Sleeping Beauty Retelling Not Really About the Princess—And That's Why I Like It

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Capturing the essence of a book in a brief, but suitably intriguing plot summary is a very difficult thing to do.  Why I even attempt it, especially when a professional has already done such a beautiful job, is beyond me.  In an attempt to hang on to what little sanity I still possess, I'm going to quit trying to describe While Beauty Slept, Elizabeth Blackwell's mesmerizing new novel, and just give you the back cover blurb already:
I am not the sort of person about whom stories are told.  Those of humble birth suffer their heartbreaks and celebrate their triumphs unnoticed by the bards, leaving no trace in the fables of their time ... 

And so begins Elise Dalriss's story.  When she hears her great-grand-daughter recount a minstrel's tale about a beautiful princess asleep in a tower, it pushes open a door to the past, one Elise has long kept locked.  For Elise was the companion to the real princess who slumbered—and she is the only one left who knows what actually happened so many years ago.

As the memories start to unfold, Elise is plunged back into the magnificent world behind the palace walls she left behind more than a half century ago, a labyrinth where the secrets of her real father and the mysterious fate of her mother connect to an inconceivable evil. Elise has guarded these secrets for a lifetime. As she understands all too well, the truth is no fairy tale.
It may seem odd to tell the "real story" behind a well-known fairy tale from the perspective of one who, as Elise herself admits, left "no trace in the fables of [her] time."  And yet, she's pretty much the perfect narrator.  Our brave, self-deprecating heroine spins a yarn that builds slowly, intensifies quickly, and culminates in a shocking, heart-shattering climax.  While the moderate pace of the novel may sound tedious, it's not at all.  It gives us time to get to know the characters—their flaws, their virtues, their complex back stories—along with the ins and outs of castle life, especially the "malevolent intrigues that hide behind courtly manners" (17).  Just in case that's not enough to keep the reader intrigued, Blackwell drops frequent bits of tantalizing, what's-yet-to-come foreshadowing, always hinting that there's more danger, more intrigue, more heartbreak just a few pages ahead.  Guess what?  She never disappoints.  Since I love the way this kind of slow, intense build-up plays with my emotions, I found While Beauty Slept enthralling from its first page to its last.  Sleeping Beauty has never been my favorite fairy tale, but this retelling isn't really about the princess, anyway.  It's about someone way, way more interesting.  No surprisingly, I adored it.    

(Readalikes:  Reminded me of To Die For by Sandra Byrd)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for brief, mild language; violence/gore; some sexual content

To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished copy of While Beauty Slept from the generous folks at Penguin in exchange for my participation in the book's blog tour.  Thank you!
Monday, December 01, 2014

Right-Up-My-Alley Premise Doesn't Live Up to Promise

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Alice Hyatt believed she had a happy, stable marriage.  Then, her accountant husband disappeared with a pretty co-worker and the $200 million he stole from his company's clients.  Even though Alice was as shocked by his actions as everyone else, the police never quite believed her.  Her reputation shot, Alice fled New York City, nursing her broken heart at her family's summer cottage in the Berkshires.  Seven years later, she's still in Massachusetts, where she's finally managed to rebuild her life.  Her newly-launched landscape design company is gaining favor among the area's wealthy, securing her reputation as a tough, but successful businesswoman.  Sure, people still whisper about her husband, but Alice has managed to put the scandal behind her.  Mostly.  

When Alice receives an offer from the wealthiest man in town to design the extensive gardens which will surround his new mansion, she can hardly believe her luck.  Although Alice doesn't agree with hydro-fracking, the controversial practice through which Graham McKenzie has amassed his fortune, she can't help imagining all the things she could do with the exorbitant amount he's proposing to pay her.  After striking a deal that includes McKenzie donating a large sum to the town's historical society, Alice takes the job.  Although not everyone is happy about her decision, she's thrilled, especially with the friendship she's developing with her new boss.  Maybe McKenzie isn't the greedy blowhard everyone thinks he is.

Just when everything seems to be going right for Alice, her big paycheck bounces.  Then, her employer collapses.  He's dead.  And not of natural causes.  Plenty of people had reason to want McKenzie in the grave—including Alice.  With the suspicions of her past hanging over her head, she finds herself Public Enemy Number One.  The only way to clear her name?  Sniff out Graham McKenzie's murderer.  Before she ends up behind bars for a crime she didn't commit.

I always like a good scorned-woman-returns-home-to-find-herself-again story.  And with a murder mystery thrown into the mix?  How could I resist?  Bleeding Heart by Liza Gyllenhaal, sounded like the kind of novel I would totally eat up.  I would have, too, if it weren't for a few things, namely:  (1) a clumsy, plodding storyline; (2) a cast of unlikable characters; and (3) a mystery that starts too late and finishes too early.  A more suspenseful, streamlined plot would have done wonders for this novel.  As is, I found it dull, tedious and just not all that enjoyable.  Bummer, since Bleeding Heart had definite potential.

(Readalikes:  Hm, I can't really think of anything.  Can you?)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for strong language, sexual content, and violence

To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished copy of Bleeding Heart from the generous folks at Penguin.  Thank you!

Second Demon-Catcher Novel Not For Me, But Maybe For You? (With a Giveaway)

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

(Note:  Although this review will not contain spoilers for The Halcyon Bird, it may inadvertently reveal plot surprises from its predecessor, The Demon Catchers of Milan.  As always, I recommend reading books in a series in order.)

American teenager Mia Dellatorri has lived in Milan long enough to learn Italian, prefer her Nonna's homemade cuisine to anything else, and to feel almost more at home at her uncle's than with her immediate family in upstate New York.  And yet, the Della Torre's still won't let her out on the streets without at least one blood relative to protect her.  Inside the well-guarded home, Mia's safe from the vicious, ancient demon who desires to possess her.  Outside, she's vulnerable.  Too vulnerable.  The monster doesn't leave living victims, as Mia knows all too well.

When Mia meets Bernardo—the most beautiful man she's ever seen—she's ready to throw caution to the wind.  Anything to feel his strong arms around her one more time.  She knows that being with Bernardo means exposing him to the danger she faces every day.  If only she could tell him the truth about her family's demon-catching enterprise!  She hates deceiving her kindhearted boyfriend, but she has little choice.  The only way to keep him—and herself—safe is to get rid of her demon once and for all.  Challenging him means risking her life.  It's a chance Mia's willing to take if it means defending the lives of those she loves.  Even if the one person she can't save is herself.

It's no secret that I wasn't all that impressed with The Demon Catchers of Milan, the first book in Kat Beyer's urban fantasy series.  The novel sagged under too much detail and too little plot.  The Halcyon Bird, the second Mia Dellatorri book, picks up a bit, but still drags.  Again, Mia has no real story goal, which makes the novel feel episodic and aimless.  This, along with a confusing magical world, underdeveloped characters, and tell-don't-show prose made this a tedious, unsatisfying read for me.  It's more exciting than the first book, true, but not enough to entice me to stick with this series.  Bummer.

(Readalikes:  The Demon Catchers of Milan by Kat Beyer; similar in subject to The Mortal Instruments series [City of Bones; City of Ashes; City of Glass; City of Fallen Angels; City of Lost Souls; City of Heavenly Fire] by Cassandra Clare)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for brief, mild language (no F-bombs) and violence

To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished copy of The Halcyon Bird from the generous folks at Egmont as part of the book's blog tour.


Even though I wasn't wild about The Halcyon Bird, it might be right up your reading alley.  What better way to give it a shot than to win a free copy of the book?  The good people at Egmont are generally offering one to one lucky Bloggin' 'bout Books reader.  If you'd like the chance to win, all you have to do is fill out the handy-dandy Rafflecopter thing-y below.  Please note that you must have a U.S. or Canadian mailing address to be eligible for the giveaway.  Contest ends on December 13.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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