Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Secret


Title:  The Secret
Author: Rhonda Byrne
Ideal Age Range: Any
Mass Market Paperback: 198 pages
Copyright Date:  November 2006
Blurb: Fragments of a Great Secret have been found in the oral traditions, in literature, in religions and philosophies throughout the centuries. For the first time, all the pieces of The Secret come together in an incredible revelation that will be life-transforming for all who experience it.
In this book, you'll learn how to use The Secret in every aspect of your life -- money, health, relationships, happiness, and in every interaction you have in the world. You'll begin to understand the hidden, untapped power that's within you, and this revelation can bring joy to every aspect of your life.
The Secret contains wisdom from modern-day teachers -- men and women who have used it to achieve health, wealth, and happiness. By applying the knowledge of The Secret, they bring to light compelling stories of eradicating disease, acquiring massive wealth, overcoming obstacles, and achieving what many would regard as impossible.
«·´`·.¸★☆★¸.·´`·»
My Rating: (★★★)  I borrowed The Secret by Rhonda Byrne from the library, even though I own a copy of it …somewhere.  I’ve owned it for years and had never read it.  Now that I have read it, I feel reminded that positive thoughts attract more positive thoughts and vice versa with negative thoughts.  The thing is..  is that I’ve always thought this.

The Secret did not really teach me anything new; the lesson is the same that I learned in high school when I went to a Unity church.  Only there it was in the form of Affirm It, Believe It, Be It.  Instead of The Secret’s Ask, Believe, Receive.  In any case it was a good refresher and a positive influence because it’s easy to get bogged down in the negative.

The Secret gets a little repetitive in it’s rhetoric, but at least it drills home it’s point.  It’s definitely a positive book and mostly an easy and short read.  I’m glad I finally read it.
Happy Reading!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Hunger Games (2012)


Title:  The Hunger Games (2012)
Director:  Gary Ross
Rating: Rated PG-13 for intense violent thematic material and disturbing images - all involving teens 
Length:  142 minutes.
Tagline: The Games Will Change Everyone, The World Will Be Watching, May the Odds be Ever in your Favor
Synopsis:  In a not-too-distant future, North America has collapsed, weakened by drought, fire, famine, and war to be replaced by Panem, a country divided into the Capitol and 12 districts. Each year two young representatives from each district are selected by lottery to participate in The Hunger Games. Part entertainment, part brutal intimidation of the subjugated districts, the televised games are broadcast throughout Panem. The 24 participants are forced to eliminate their competitors, literally, with all citizens required to watch. When 16-year-old Katniss' young sister, Prim, is selected as the mining district's female representative, Katniss volunteers to take her place. She and her male counterpart Peeta, will be pitted against bigger, stronger representatives who have trained for this their whole lives.
My Rating:(★★★★★)  
Quotes: Happy Hunger Games! And may the odds be ever in your favor!

 ☆«·´`·.¸★☆★¸.·´`·»☆
My thoughts:  I was super excited to see The Hunger Games today, my husband and I had my parents watch our son while we went to the noon-thirty screening.  I've been waiting to see it since I first heard that they were making it into a movie.  Really, really excited.  So excited that even the teaser trailer had me jumping up and down in my seat and clapping.
I am always reserved at my expectations when a movie is made based on a book that I love.  I was disappointed before when I saw Eragon, but I wasn't disappointed this time for The Hunger Games, and I am even more excited to see the subsequent future films.  I thought it was incredibly true to the book, with only a few slight changes and those made sense and weren't integral to the story anyway, so I don't think I would complain too much about it.
The only thing that makes me go "hmm" is that Haymitch wasn't exactly how I thought of him as being when I read the book.  Even though I'm not complaining about it because I actually thought that Woody Harrelson did a pretty good job, he just wasn't how I imagined Haymitch.  I guess it was because he didn't seem "drunk enough" to me.
I thought that the set up to the games and the games themselves were both exciting and scary, it was completely believable and palpable- the fear that Katniss feels as she is about to be raised into the arena.  
So, I'm happy that I was not disappointed, even more happy that I have no huge gripes about the movie.  Can't wait to see Catching Fire!
In the mean time, go out and see The Hunger Games, and as always, Happy Reading!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Mastiff {Beka Cooper Book Three}


Title:  Mastiff
Author: Tamora Pierce
Ideal Age Range: Middle School/ Young Adult
Mass Market Paperback: 593 pages
Copyright Date:  2011
Blurb: The Hunt is on!  Three years have passed since Beka Cooper almost died in the sewers of Port Caynn, and she is now a respected member of the Provost’s Guard.  But her life takes an unexpected turn when her fiancĂ© is killed on a slave raid.  Beka is faced with a mixture of emotions as, unbeknownst to many, she was about to call the engagement off.
It is as Beka is facing these feelings that Lord Gershom appears at her door.  Within hours, Beka; her partner, Tunstall; her scent hound, Achoo; and an unusual but powerful mage are working on an extremely secretive case that threatens the future of the Tortallan royal family, and therefore the entire Tortallan government.  As Beka delves deeper into the motivations of the criminals she now Hunts, she learns of deep-seated political dissatisfaction, betrayal, and corruption.  These are people with power, money, and influence.  They are able to hire the most skilled of mages, well versed in the darkest forms of magic.  And they are nearly impossible to identify.
The case-a Hunt that will take her to places she’s never been-will challenge Beka’s tracking skills beyond the city walls, as well as her ability to judge exactly whom she can rust with her life and her country’s future.
«·´`·.¸★☆★¸.·´`·»
My Rating: (★★★★★)  My mother bought me Mastiff for my birthday in November.  I just got to reading it, and let me tell you, surprisingly, that it was a little difficult to get into the groove of at first.  I was a little daunted by the sheer length of the novel at a whopping 593 pages, which is a lot longer than I am used to by Tammy standards.  The first half didn’t exactly grab and hold my attention until the action started getting a little bit more fast paced, I’d say (if you’ve read it), right after they traverse the marsh is where it started to get good.
For example, the first part of the book too me about ten days to read as I read before bed most of the time, and after it started getting good?  I finished it in about 3 days, because I stayed up way past my usual bed time to read it and read it during my son’s nap time as well.  That’s the signal of a good story, eh?
I enjoyed all of the characters’ development, and Beka’s growing maturity and focus while out on the Hunt.  I liked the new character in Farmer Cape, the mage.  I loved the mystery, and I was blown away by the ending.  My only gripe would be the length, but it turned out to be a-okay at the end and I wouldn’t have changed it for anything, I don’t think.
In short, I think if you enjoyed the other two books in the series, Terrier and Bloodhound, there’s a definite possibility that you will love Mastiff.
Happy Reading!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Lioness Rampant { Song of the Lioness #4 } [Audiobook]


Title: Lioness Rampant {Book 4t of the Song of the Lioness Quartet}
Author: Tamora Pierce
Ideal Age Range: Ages 11 and up
Audiobook: 7 hours 9 Min (6 CDS)
Narrated by: Trini Alvarado
Synopsis: At last, Alanna of Trebond has become the first female knight errant in Tortall. She sets out on an impossible quest to find the Dominion Jewel, a legendary gem that, in the right hands, has limitless power for good. But while she searches for the one thing that can save her war-torn country, her nemesis returns from the dead and begins to wreak havoc. Only Alanna has the power to prevent Tortall's utter destruction.


My Rating:(★★★★★)  I have absolutely no complaints about the audiobook of Lioness Rampant, okay, I lied, maybe two, the narrator started making Faithful sound like a girl cat (to me) in this last book.  And, I never really noticed when I read the books before what a kind of messed up relationship Liam and Alanna had, but other than that.  Nothing.  I loved it.  I cried.  I laughed.  I am sure I will never get sick of these books whether in paperback format or audiobook.

Happy reading!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Woman Who Rides Like A Man { Song of the Lioness #3 } [Audiobook]

Title: The Woman Who Rides Like A Man {Book 3 of the Song of the Lioness Quartet}
Author: Tamora Pierce
Ideal Age Range: Ages 11 and up
Audiobook: 5 hours 33 Min (5 CDS)
Narrated by: Trini Alvarado
Synopsis: This third book in the Song of the Lioness quartet continues Alanna's saga as she strikes out alone and discovers herself anew.
A knight at last, Alanna of Trebond heads out to seek adventure in the desert of Tortall. Captured by desert tribesmen, she is forced to prove herself in a magical duel to the death. But her real challenge doesn't come until after she wins. As the first female shaman, Alanna must fight to change the ancient traditions of the stubborn desert tribes -- for their own sake and for the sake of all Tortall.

My Rating:(★★★★★)  I love The Woman Who Rides Like A Man by Tamora Pierce (as evident by all of my other reviews of her books), this quartet is definitely my favorite.  I love the characters, I love the story because there is never a dull moment when you are reading or even listening to it.  I enjoy it also because Alanna is turning into a more mature adult and evolving into the deep character that I love.
The audio book is wonderful just like the previous two in the series, and Trini Alvarado does a wonderful job keeping consistent with the voice accents that she uses for the different characters and I really appreciate that. 
I’ve already started Lioness Rampant on audio book and noticed immediately that Trini Alvarado has changed the way that she reads Faithful, which kind of bugs me. :/
It is easy to say that I’ll get over that though, and just as easily to say that I enjoyed The Woman Who Rides Like A Man on audio book.
Happy listening/Reading!


Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Summoning {Darkest Powers Book 1}


Title:  The Summoning
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Ideal Age Range: Young Adult
Mass Market Paperback: 390 pages
Copyright Date:  2009
Blurb: She sees dead people-and they see her.  Chloe Saunders used to have a pretty normal life. But that changed on the day she met her first ghost. Locked up in Lyle House, a group home for troubled teens, she finds out that there’s more to the home’s teen residents than meets the eye. Will Chloe be able to uncover the dangerous secrets of Lyle house…or will its skeletons come back to haunt her?
This thrilling first volume in the supernaturally charged Darkest Powers series by international bestselling author Kelley Armstrong will keep readers awake well into the darkest time of night.
«·´`·.¸★☆★¸.·´`·»
My Rating: (★★★)  That last sentence of the blurb is right, I’m not much of a reader of Thrillers or Suspense novels, so I probably wouldn’t have picked this up had I known that I was going to get freaked out by it.  That’s how much of a sissy I am that a YA paranormal ghost book freaks me out.  But, as I read it, and Chloe conquered her fears, I because less freaked out as I was reading and enjoyed it a lot more.
It certainly helped that the last half of the book isn’t as scary and I read it in the light of day on the loveseat in our living room in a ray of sunshine.  No dark hallways or whatnot to freak me out.
I’ve loved almost all of Kelley Armstrong’s other books, especially Bitten and Stolen.  This is definitely written in an easier style that is pretty much the norm for YA fiction, in my experience. 
I had thought, in the dark when I was reading it before bed that I might not read the rest of the series because I really don’t like being freaked out, especially when I do happen to do most of my reading before bed, but as I finished the book, and enjoyed it even more, I changed my mind and decided that I would probably try to pick up The Awakening at my next volunteering session at the Library. 
If you are a fan of Kelley Armstrong, or just of YA Paranormal, I definitely think you might enjoy The Summoning.  I was won over.
Happy Reading!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Yours Until Dawn

Title:  Yours Until Dawn
Author: Teresa Medeiros
Ideal Age Range: Adult
Mass Market Paperback: 373 pages
Copyright Date: 2004
Blurb: Gabriel Fairchild's valor during battle earns him the reputation of hero, but costs him both his sight and his hope for the future.  Abandoned by the fiancee he adored, the man who once walked like a prince among London's elite secludes himself in his family's mansion, cursing his way through dark days and darker nights.
Prim nurse Samantha Wickersham arrives at Fairchild Park to find her new charge behaving more like a beast than a man.  Determined to do her duty, she engages the arrogant earl in a battle of both wits and wills.  Although he claims she doesn't possess an once of womanly softness, she can feel his heart racing at her slightest touch.  As Samantha begins to let the light back into Gabriel's life and his heart, they both discover that some secrets-and some pleasures-are best explored in the dark...
«·´`·.¸★☆★¸.·´`·»
My Rating: (★★★)  I went into Yours Until Dawn not even having read the back blurb.  I just knew that when I first started reading the romance genre that Teresa was one of my first favorites.  She was joined in the ranks by others, like, Julia Quinn, Eloisa James and Christina Dodd.  I love Regency romances.  The balls, the dresses, the clandestine walks in the garden under the moonlight where gentlemen steal kisses from young ladies.
Well, there's only one ball in Yours Until Dawn, and it's not a glamourous event, it's really not much to speak of since it occurs in the last few chapters.  But, I didn't find the novel lacking because of the hole made by the absence of fetes. I didn't really find the book lacking in anything but I wasn't completely enamored with it, sadly, hence the three stars.  I did enjoy it though, just didn't love it.
I guessed the twist in the story about half way through, I enjoyed the characters and the story was believable and rich in detail.  I can't even find anything that I didn't like about it.  Overall, I'd suggest it to other romance fans, especially Regency Romance fans.  <3
Happy Reading!

In the Hand of the Goddess { Song of the Lioness #2 } [ AudioBook ]


Title: In the Hand of the Goddess {Book 2 of the Song of the Lioness Quartet}
Author: Tamora Pierce
Ideal Age Range: Ages 11 and up
Audiobook: 5 hours (4 CDS)
Narrated by: Trini Alvarado
Synopsis:Disguised as a boy, Alanna of Trebond becomes a squire, to none other than the prince of the realm. But Prince Jonathan is much more to Alanna; he is her ally, her best friend, and one of the few who knows that she's really a girl. Now it will take all of Alanna's awesome skill, strength, and growing magical powers to protect him from the mysterious evil sorcerer who is bent on his destruction, and hers!
Here continues the story of Alanna, a young woman bound for glory who is willing to fight against enormous odds for what she believes in.

My Rating:(★★★★★)  I listening to In the Hand of the Goddess in a much shorter time period than when I listened to Alanna: the First Adventure, I brought it inside and listened to it while I made lunch, or while my son was taking his afternoon nap, instead of just listening to it in fits and starts whenever I was in the car.  It made it a little bit more enjoyable, I suppose, being able to pay closer attention to it.
I have all of the same opinions of this audio CD as I did for the first in the series.  I thought Trini Alvarado did a wonderful job lending voice to all the great characters and making the fights exciting.  The story is probably my third favorite of the series, interestingly enough, my favorites fall in descending order, Lioness Rampant (book 4), The Woman Who Rides Like A Man (book 3), In the Hand of the Goddess (book 2), and Alanna: the First Adventure (book 1).
As much as I love Tamora Pierce's Song of the Lioness books, I should be paid to suggest them to people, I've read each store more than a dozen times and they never get old to me, and that is proof to me that they are good stories.  They stand the test of time, and I still love them.  I can't wait to go to the library and get the next book on Audio CD.  :)  Only two more days!
Happy Reading!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Alanna: The First Adventure { Song of the Lioness #1 } [Audiobook]


Title: Alanna: The First Adventure
 {Book 1 of the Song of the Lioness Quartet}
Author: Tamora Pierce
Ideal Age Range: Ages 11 and up
Audiobook: 5 hours and 17 minutes (4 CDS)
Narrated by: Trini Alvarado
Synopsis: Call it fate, call it intuition, or just call it common sense, but somehow young Alanna knows she isn't meant to become some proper lady cloistered in a convent. Instead, she wants to be a great warrior maiden--a female knight. But in the land of Tortall, women aren't allowed to train as warriors. So Alanna finds a way to switch places with her twin, Thom, and take his place as a knight in training at the palace of King Roald. Disguising herself as a boy, Alanna begins her training as a page in the royal court. Soon, she is garnering the admiration of all around her, including the crown prince, with her strong work ethic and her thirst for knowledge. But all the while, she is haunted by the recurring vision of a black stone city that emanates evil... somehow she knows it is her fate to purge that place of its wickedness. But how will she find it? And can she fulfill her destiny while keeping her gender a secret?
With Alanna: The First Adventure, veteran fantasy author Tamora Pierce has created a lively, engaging heroine who will charm middle-school readers with her tomboyish bravado and have them eagerly searching for the next book in the Song of the Lioness series. Like Brian Jacques's tales of Redwall, this popular quartet is an entertaining fantasy series for younger teens. --Jennifer Hubert (From Goodreads.com)
My Rating:(★★★★★) I can’t remember if I have ever listened to an audiobook before listening to Alanna: the First Adventure by Tamora Pierce.  I think I tried listening to The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien but didn’t get very far on it.  I borrowed this audiobook of Tamora Pierce’s from the library and I was thrilled to be surprised that I loved it as much as reading the book myself!
Trini’s voice and her ability to flow from one accented voice to another to clearly distinguish between characters was fabulous, and soothing at the same time.
I had actually forgotten just how many “favorite” parts of Alanna’s story I have!  I mean, I was chuckling out loud as I was listening to the parts that I enjoy, like when Alanna finally fights Ralon, or when she escapes into the city for George’s help when she starts turning into a girl. 
This is coming from the girl who has read and re-read Ms. Pierce’s Alanna books multiple times!  If you missed my earlier review of Alanna: the First Adventure, it is HERE.
I would definitely recommend listening to the audiobook of this title, and I can’t wait to borrow In the Hand of the Goddess tomorrow when I go and volunteer at the library!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Feature & Follow



Welcome to the Demure Connoisseur's little niche on the interwebz!

Questions of the week: Which book genre do you avoid at all costs and why?

Answer:  Horror mostly.  I'd have to say that that it's not that I really avoid it at all costs but it's more like I have so many books of the genres I do like on my to be read pile that I just don't want to delve into a genre that I'm pretty sure that I won't like.  I'm sure you know what I mean.  :)

Happy Reading All!


Shatterglass


Title:  Shatterglass
Author: Tamora Pierce
Ideal Age Range: Middle School/ Young Adult
Mass Market Paperback: 357 pages
Copyright Date:  March 2003
Blurb: Kethlun Warder was a gifted glassmaker until his world was shattered in a freak accident.  Now his remaining glass magic is mixed with lightning, and Tris must teach him to control it (if she can teach him to control his temper first).  But there’s more at stake than Keth’s education.  With his strange magic, he creates glass balls that reflect the immediate past and expose the work of a murderer.  If he can harness his power properly, he’ll be able to see the crimes as they take place.  Keth and Tris race against time, and the local authorities, to identify a killer who’s living in plain sight.
«·´`·.¸★☆★¸.·´`·»
My Rating: (★★★★)  I picked up my copy of Tamora Pierce’s Shatterglass at my local Half Price Books for $1.00.  I always rescue Tammy’s books from the clearance shelves if I see them there, even if I already own 2 or 3 copies of the book.  I, however, did not own a copy of Shatterglass, and it is the last of The Circle Opens quartet that I had yet to read, so I was incredibly happy to get it for such a steal.
Tris is probably my least favorite of the Emelan Ambient Mages that star in The Circle of Magic and The Circle Opens quartets, she is a weather mage and has a brusque personality.  However, I felt that her character grew on me as I read Shatterglass, underneath her gruff exterior was the meat of the person that her adopted brother and sisters had grown to love, and I found myself to be just like them.  She is a rescuer of lost animals, and a protector of orphans, and a just and stubborn teacher.
I found that Shatterglass held hints of what was to become the world of Beka Cooper in Terrier, Bloodhound, and Mastiff.  There were whispers in the use of winds in Shatterglass and the plotline of a serial killer on the loose.  It was heralding the next books that Tamora was to be working on, it seemed to me anyway.
I enjoyed the magic in the story, and the development of the teacher/student relationship between Kethlun and Tris, and the unfolding chase of the serial killer kept me turning the pages.  Overall I was generally pleased with my choice of book to read after I was so disappointed with Nightshade by Andrea Cremer. 
I’m looking forward to reading Mastiff which is also sitting on my To Be Read pile, but I’m not sure it’s going to be my next reading choice.
I definitely think that if a reader enjoys any other books by Ms. Pierce, that they would most certainly like Shatterglass.  I think the only thing I found, as a negative of this series of books was that it was slightly formulaic.  Each book had the general idea of each mage discovering a new mage, being forced to become said person’s teacher, and a mystery to be solved.   That was a questionable negative in any case since a lot of series’ are like that, aren’t they?
Happy reading all!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Nightshade

Title:  Nightshade
Author: Andrea Cremer
Ideal Age Range:  Young Adult
Mass Market Paperback: 452 Pages
Copyright Date: 2010
Blurb:  Calla Tor has always known her destiny: After graduating from the Mountain School, she’ll be the mate of sexy alpha wolf Ren Laroche and fight with him, side by side, ruling their pack and guarding sacred sites for the Keepers.  But when she violates her masters’ laws by saving a beautiful human boy out for a hike, Calla begins to question her fate, her existence, and the very essence of the world she has known.  By following her heart, she might lose everything-including her own life.  Is forbidden love worth the ultimate sacrifice?
My Rating:  ()
«·´`·.¸★☆★¸.·´`·»

I’ll start out by saying that I borrowed this book from my collector mother, several months ago, and I was recommended it by one of my friends.  I finally finished reading it last night, and I’m glad to be done reading it.  I have to be honest and say I didn’t like it, but I can see how so many people like it, no, love it. 

I don’t find any fault with the writing, actually.  It wasn’t difficult to read but I did have a really hard time getting into it.  Maybe it just didn’t call out to me to read it?  I thought that the last half of the book was a lot more interesting and full of action than the first half, which made it easier to finish.  I liked the usage of enemies of the supernatural kind that authors don’t have a habit of using lately, giant spiders, incubi, succubae and wraiths.  Instead of the usual vampires or zombies.

I also thought the world building was pretty well done, it was believable and I appreciate the attention to detail about how the boarding school worked and the supporting characters.  Even the other students that have no names were a bit interesting in their fear of the Guardians.

I didn’t like the main character.  She is supposed to be an Alpha, but she doesn’t really seem like she has any real power over her pack, which, I suppose is explained later in the book, but it really frustrated me up to that point that she was seemingly more of just a figurehead.  I also thought she came across as a horny teenager a lot of the time, and maybe that’s just because I’m a little older than the “target audience”, but I don’t normally have a problem identifying with young adult novel characters.

But maybe that is the underlying problem as to why I didn’t like it?  Maybe I’m growing out of Young Adult Paranormals.  Say it isn’t so!  I felt the same way, if I remember correctly, about Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick.  It could be a pattern.

I’m torn as to whether or not I will pick up the second part of this series, Wolfsbane.  I had to make myself finish Nightshade but I hate it when books end with a cliffhanger of sorts.  So, even though I rated Nightshade as a 1 star (didn’t like it), I think I am definitely in the minority here, and if you like Young Adult Paranormals with a love triangle, then I’m sure you’d appreciate Andrea Cremer’s concoction.

I’m off to read something else now, Happy Reading Y’all!

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