Tuesday, July 28, 2015

COYER - Campfire Tales Read-a-thon - August 1 - August 7

Campfire


The Campfire Tales Read-a-thon is the 3rd read-a-thon for this COYER, where we're going to read books that we consider scary. I know I personally would be scared at a Seance, especially if something came through, so I'm set for this one! - See more at: Campfire Tales Read-a-thon.
 
Goals:
 


Progress:

Aug 1:
Aug 2:
Aug 3:
Aug 4:
Aug 5:
Aug 6:
Aug 7:

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Patriot Witch by C C Finlay

Synopsis:

The year is 1775. On the surface, Proctor Brown appears to be an ordinary young man working the family farm in New England. He is a minuteman, a member of the local militia, determined to defend the rights of the colonies. Yet Proctor is so much more. Magic is in his blood, a dark secret passed down from generation to generation. But Proctor’s mother has taught him to hide his talents, lest he be labeled a witch and find himself dangling at the end of a rope.

A chance encounter with an arrogant British officer bearing magic of his own catapults Proctor out of his comfortable existence and into the adventure of a lifetime, as resistance sparks rebellion and rebellion becomes revolution. Now, even as he fights alongside his fellow patriots from Lexington to Bunker Hill, Proctor finds himself enmeshed in a war of a different sort–a secret war of magic against magic, witch against witch, with the stakes not only the independence of a young nation but the future of humanity itself.


I read this during the COYER Red, White and Blue Read-a-thon, it seemed like the perfect choice, being set in the beginning of the Revolutionary War, and having a blue cover. I am intrigued by the combination of fantasy and historical fiction, since I already like both. I really wanted to love this, but I just didn't. I liked it, hence my 3/5 rating on Goodreads, but I just couldn't bond with the characters. The storyline was fine, the action was good, and the historical aspects were interesting and felt true, so the author's research background on the subject comes through. I did start to warm up to Proctor by the end, I'm a sucker for a character facing unbeatable odds, but not enough to continue with the series.

COYER Scavenger Hunt #1 - First in a series

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Dragos Takes a Holiday (Elder Races #6.5) by Thea Harrison

Dragos Takes a Holiday (Elder Races, #6.5)Dragos Takes a Holiday by Thea Harrison
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I actually read ahead quite a bit in the series to read this for the Beach Party Read-a-thon of the #COYER Challenge but it is not really necessary for the story to have read more than the first couple of books. There are side characters I hadn't met before, but their backstory is not part of this, so it didn't seem to me like there were many spoilers if you read this out of sequence.

What does a dragon do for a relaxing vacation? Search for treasure of course! This is a fast and fun addition to the Elder Races world in which we get to see Pia skillfully manipulate Dragos in the direction she wants to go (for his own good), and get to enjoy the antics of a magical baby discovering his powers, you know, because a human baby isn't enough of a challenge all on his own!

If you want a quick and eventful jaunt to Bermuda, try this on for size! Dragos is such a fun alpha male character who is so easily steered by Pia, and pretty predictable in his alphaness, but that's what makes him such a good read! When you're the top of the food chain, your challenges are a little different than everyone else's!

#COYER Scavenget Hunt #37 - Read a book with water/or the ocean on the cover.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Mapmaker's Children by Sarah McCoy

Synopsis:

When Sarah Brown, daughter of abolitionist John Brown, realizes that her artistic talents may be able to help save the lives of slaves fleeing north, she becomes one of the Underground Railroad’s leading mapmakers, taking her cues from the slave code quilts and hiding her maps within her paintings. She boldly embraces this calling after being told the shocking news that she can’t bear children, but as the country steers toward bloody civil war, Sarah faces difficult sacrifices that could put all she loves in peril.

Eden, a modern woman desperate to conceive a child with her husband, moves to an old house in the suburbs and discovers a porcelain head hidden in the root cellar—the remains of an Underground Railroad doll with an extraordinary past of secret messages, danger and deliverance.

Ingeniously plotted to a riveting end, Sarah and Eden’s woven lives connect the past to the present, forcing each of them to define courage, family, love, and legacy in a new way.


When I originally read this synopsis, I focused in on the codes in quilts and maps hidden within paintings. I was hoping for a DaVinci-Code-esque story set in Civil War times as slaves were being assisted across enemy lines to what they hoped would be a better life. Reading the synopsis again now that I've finished the book, it was exactly what it says, with the focus on two women in different times trying to find and fulfill their purpose in life.

I've said before that I'm very character driven and that I need to be able to empathize with the characters of a story for it to be a success for me.  It took me a little while to warm up to Sarah and Eden, probably my own fault for having several books going at once and not reading more than a few pages at a time initially.  Once I got into it though, I really enjoyed getting to know these two strong women.

I was apprehensive with Eden in the present as she adjusts to New Charleston and struggles with some difficult life decisions.  I was fearful of what she would decide and how it could change her life, relieved as she begins to find her place and decide it's not so bad after all and may in fact be exactly what she needs.

Sarah is more certain in her life's purpose. She is determined to continue the work in the Underground Railroad that was so important to her father, even more so knowing that she cannot have children of her own.  She is willing to risk everything to see it through, and discovers her artistic skills are her strength in the endeavor as she is constantly kept at a distance from the true action.

They are tied together across time by the doll's head Eden discovers in their new/old house and I came to care for Cleo, the girl next door, as she takes on the case of the myserious doll head. Cleo starts out as merely a caretaker for the puppy that Eden's husband brings home and she has no interest in, but by the end, she has become an integral part of Eden's life, and is responsible for drawing Eden out of her shell and integrating her into their new town.

If you enjoy stories of individuals finding their inner strengths and place in life, with a little historical mystery thrown in, you should give The Mapmaker's Children a read. It's a great example of maybe not getting what you think you wanted in life, but getting what you needed instead.

COYER Scavenger Hunt #29 - A book with no magical or futuristic elements.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

COYER - Beach Party Read-a-thon - July 18 - 24

BeachParty


The Beach Party is the 2nd read-a-thon for this COYER, where we're going to read books that take place on/near a beach or involve vacation. - See more at: Beach Party Read-a-thon.
 
Goals:
 


Progress:

July 18: 11% DTAH
July 19: 89% DTAH
July 20: none
July 21: 7% VV
July 22:
July 23:
July 24:

 Finished:

The Hunted Bundle by Amanda Shofner - Giveaway Winners!




The Hunted Series by Amanda Shofner



And the winners are...

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Congratulations to all of you! I will get the bundles sent out to the e-mails you provided me this week! Thanks so much for entering and I hope you enjoy the Hunted series as much as I did!

7/15/15 Update: I have just sent out your prizes, so please let me know if they do not show up!  Enjoy!

Sunday, July 05, 2015

A Hero's Guide to Deadly Dragons (How to Train Your Dragon, #6) by Cressida Cowell

A Hero's Guide to Deadly Dragons (How to Train Your Dragon, #6)A Hero's Guide to Deadly Dragons by Cressida Cowell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hiccup once again finds himself in trouble, this time on his birthday. Instead of celebrating, he's trying to break into the Meathead Public Library, which isn't open to the public, inhabited by the Hairy Scary Librarian, who really is scary, to steal a book for a burglary competition.

These stories are adorable and hilarious, but if you're finding them based on having watched the movies, be prepared that Toothless is NOTHING like he is on screen. With that huge difference in mind (because I was absolutely in love with movie Toothless and was initially disappointed to find out how different he was in the books) settle yourself in for a treat! These are so much fun, you can't help but smile while reading them. If you're listening, David Tennant does a phenomenal job of bringing Hiccup and the Vikings to life, and in that respect, it's every bit as fun as the movie was.

I know I will listen to these over and over whenever I need a pick me up, they're so darn cute!

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#6 COYER Scavenger Hunt - Book with a Cartoonish Cover

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Ian Fleming's James Bond - Octopussy and the Living Daylights: And Other Stories (Bond #14)

Octopussy and the Living Daylights: And Other StoriesOctopussy and the Living Daylights: And Other Stories by Ian Fleming
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm a casual James Bond fan. I'll always stop and watch a few minutes if I see one of the movies on. I came in during the Roger Moore era, so he is who I always picture first when Bond is mentioned, though I have seen some of the Sean Connery, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig movies, though none of the earlier ones than Connery. I like them all, it helps make Bond, 007 more of an idea than any one person.

This was the first time I had listened/read one of the actual Ian Fleming novels depicting Bond and he was very different from the dashing ladies man and spy I grew up with from the movies. There was no being trapped in underground lairs or jumping out of airplanes, and in fact Octopussy contained very little of Bond at all. It was more the story of a retired WWII Major whose past catches up with him. Bond is still the cool character we expect, but at times we gain more insight into his psyche and see that he is actually quite bothered by being a 00, licensed to kill, which makes him more real to me.

Hiddleston's narration was wonderful. He is expressive and enjoyable to listen to, and gives a short interview after his readings about his own Bond experience and his enjoyment of portraying different characters through their voices. Lucy Fleming, one of Ian's nieces, reads the 4th story of the collection, 007 in New York, which of the 4 was the most characteristic of my previous Bond experience, though it's a simple check in through customs, all the while we are with Bond's thoughts on the city and how things have changed over time, with the detailed observation of a trained spy on the people around him. It was nice to hear Lucy, an actual family member talk about her uncle and Bond with that reading.

Far from being disappointed with the tameness of the stories compared to the flashy and exciting movies I'm used to, I'm more intrigued to go back and watch those movies to look for the bits of the story that must be there, and to read the other novels and do the same with them. James Bond is such an icon and the embodiment of the cool, collected spy in our imaginations, few characters endure the test of time the way he has.

View all my reviews

#44 COYER Scavenger Hunt - Read a book that has been turned into a movie.  This one has technically had 2 movies in fact!  not bad for less than 100 pages, huh?

And for us Hiddles fans, here is the alternate cover to what I listened to:

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