Book Reviews by Today, I Read…

A Continuous Book Review and Vocabulary Assignment

March 25

Comments: 2

My Stack of Books Going into the Weekend, Planned Giveaways, and Currently Reading

by Ann-Katrina

Typically I’d do a recent arrivals post for each of the books, but this past week has been very good to me in the book department, so I’m just going to do up a collective post and then publish book notes/teasers as I read through each title. :D Sound good? Hooray!

The Dead-Tossed Waves Cover Last year I read, and reviewed, The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan. Although I didn’t care too much for Mary’s character, I did enjoy the intrigue and the world created.

When I was in my local Borders wishing them a heartrending farewell (sniff, sniff) I found The Dead-Tossed Waves on sale and I couldn’t resist. The reason I even waited so long was because I knew this book probably wouldn’t tell me anything I wanted to know about the Sisterhood.

Then I got to thinking, hey, I could be wrong. Maybe it’s going to be connected somehow and it will be like a slow reveal of how the zombie apocalypse in their world came to be. So I grabbed it and it’s officially in my TBR stack.

Animorphs The Invasion CoverAnimorphs The Visitors Cover Then there are the wonderful elves as Scholastic who somehow seem to read my mind and send me books I start drooling over the moment I open up the package. Animorphs!! With lenticular covers! (Yes, I’m easily amused.) I remember reading K. A. Applegate way back in the day, so receiving these books made me smile–okay, I also did a snoopy dance, too.

Behind the Gates Cover I also received a promising dystopian urban sci-fi novel called Behind the Gates (Tomorrow Girls Book 1) by Eva Gray. When I read the back cover, I was curious, but shrugged. Then I read the actual release and thought, hey, this could be good.  And then I read the first chapter and thought, I need to move this up the TBR pile.

But let us not forget about the Simon & Schuster elves who also seem to have these amazing mind-reading powers and sent me books that made me pause and say, hmmm.

Stay Cover Deb Caletti is a brand-new-to-me author, but when I read the back cover for Stay, I knew I’d be in for an emotional ride. It may even hit a little close to home. Must start mental preparations now.

Between Here and Forever Cover The other book was Between Here and Forever by Elizabeth Scott. This will be my third official Elizabeth Scott book.

The first one I read was The Unwritten Rule, which was fun and light and touching. It was filled with teen angst and drama and discovering oneself. Basically, I enjoyed it and it’s a great way to pass a lazy afternoon.

Then I just recently finished Living Dead Girl and…words…I don’t have any. I was not prepared at all for what laid between the virtual covers of that book (I read the ebook*). When I realized how jarring a read it was, I wanted to stop so I could set my head on straight, but I couldn’t because if I did and went to sleep, I would have nightmares. Finishing wasn’t any better. (Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad big, the subject matter is just…again, words fail me.)

The differences between those two books was vast, but it gave me a whole new respect for Ms. Scott. She’s an automatic must-read author for me now and having finished the first chapter of Between Here and Forever, I know to be prepared for a roller-coaster of emotions.

So, to sum up, here’s what I received this week laid out in a neat list:

I can’t believe it’s almost the end of March and I haven’t done a single giveaway yet. I must rectify that. In fact, I think I’m going to overcompensate for my lack of contests.

Warm Bodies Cover Coming up next month I’ll be holding a giveaway for Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion (oh my goodness am I excited about this one–and crossing my fingers that Mr. Marion will do a guest blog) thanks to the wonderful Mellony at Simon & Schuster.

Radiance CoverI’ll also be giving away my soft cover copy of Radiance by Alyson Noel. One thing I love about this book is the deckle edge paper. Definitely a nice touch, not to mention a good read.

Abandon Cover On the list of books up for giveaway is my ARC for Abandon by Meg Cabot. I have so much to talk about with that book, but I’m holding off until the official release next month. Until then, you can check out my scant book notes on the recent arrivals post.

Finally, I’ll officially be announcing my comment rewards. What are comment rewards? Well, a while ago I mentioned an idea of rewarding those who visit my blog by selecting a random commenter whenever comment milestones are reached. The commenter can then select a book from the comment rewards bookshelf.

Any comment, past or present, is game. Commenters just need to use a valid email address when commenting (no, I will not spam you or subscribe you to any mailing list and such) and are over the age of 13 (privacy thing–in case you win). Comment rewards will be open internationally.

Beastly Cover To close up, since this post is now becoming rather unwieldy, after watching a recent preview for the movie Beastly, and seeing that it was based on a book by Alex Flinn, I trotted my happy behind over to the library website and (thank goodness a copy was available) downloaded the ebook. I’m just over halfway finished and have mixed feelings.

On one hand, I love the tweak on the classic story, but on the other I’m not loving the lack of a nod to Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont, or even Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve, though a number of other fairytale creators (Hans Christian Andersen, The Brothers Grimm) and fairytale characters receive such nods (unless, of course, the Madames’ nods are through all the discussion of French literature–but maybe there will be a more discernable one in later chapters).

Also I’m not entirely thrilled with some of the character development and prose—sometimes it feels as though she’s talking down to her audience. But I’ll save that for an actual review though.

For now, I shall leave you to enjoy your weekend. Have fun, be safe, and don’t forget to read a book or two.

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June 1

Comments: 1

Review: The Gardener by S. A. Bodeen

by Ann-Katrina

The Gardener Cover

Title: The Gardener
Author: S. A. Bodeen
ISBN: 978-0312370169
Story Length: 240 pages
Genre: Middle Grade Science Fiction

Back Cover of The Gardener

Mason has never known his father, but longs to. All he has of him is a DVD of a man whose face is never seen, reading a children’s book. One day, on a whim, he plays the DVD for a group of comatose teens at the nursing home where his mother works. One of them, a beautiful girl, responds. Mason learns she is part of a horrible experiment intended to render teenagers into autotrophs—genetically engineered, self-sustaining life-forms who don’t need food or water to survive. And before he knows it, Mason is on the run with the girl, and wanted, dead or alive, by the mysterious mastermind of this gruesome plan, who is simply called the Gardener.

Will Mason be forced to destroy the thing he’s longed for most?

Three Quick Points About The Gardener

  • Point 1: Ample material with which to start a discussion. The book deals quite a bit with the changing global environment and its ramifications for the human race.
  • Point 2: Spotty character development. Mason, as a character, started out well enough, but when Laila was introduced the character development faltered and stalled.
  • Point 3: Plot by numbers. The unfolding plot was too convenient, even for a middle grade read, and a side effect was a problem with consistency. Continue reading »

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April 5

Comments: 8

Book Notes: The Gardener by S. A. Bodeen

by Ann-Katrina

The Gardener I’m coming upon three quarters of this book and I’m on the fence about it.

On one hand I love the premise and it’s swift. Using recent biological discoveries, Bodeen weaves a conspiracy story around the bioengineering of children who only need sunlight to survive. Despite this scientific angle, which could easily get boring too quickly, the story doesn’t slow down much as Mason takes it upon himself to rescue one of these children and winds up on the run from the people who created her.

On the other there is a plot-by-numbers feel to it and the puppy love Mason has for Laila feels inorganic and wedged into the story. Suspense is feigned; there are tense moments, but it’s easy to predict what will happen next. For instance, when the unnamed girl sees a picture of Dr. Emerson, she immediately recognizes the scientist. When Mason and the girl go to Dr. Emerson’s lecture, surprise surprise, Dr. Emerson takes one look at the unnamed girl and recognizes her. No big deal, until it’s turned into some amazing and earth shattering event. Plus, Mason mentioning how cute Laila (aka the unnamed girl) is every few pages and using it as a way to explain why he’s going to so much trouble for her is clunky. It was already well established in the opening chapters that he has a hero complex and his awe was put on display the first time he laid eyes on her.

The question for me is whether these detriments outweigh the redeeming qualities and so far the answer is no. Right now I’m hovering around a B-/C+ letter grade for this book, but I’m hoping the ending is awesome so I can bump it up to a solid B/B+.

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