Thursday, March 31, 2011

Crescendo - Review

Crescendo (Hush, Hush, # 2)

By: Becca Fitzpatrick

Publication: October 19th 2010 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

427 pages

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal, Angels

Source: Borrowed from my friend Paula

( Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository )

*Note: The above links to Amazon and Book Depository are affiliate links. Affiliate links support giveaways for Somewhere Only We Know readers.

Goodreads description--Nora Grey's life is still far from perfect. Surviving an attempt on her life wasn't pleasant, but at least she got a guardian angel out of it. A mysterious, magnetic, gorgeous guardian angel. But despite his role in her life, Patch has been acting anything but angelic. He's more elusive than ever (if that's possible) and what's worse, he seems to be spending time with Nora's archenemy, Marcie Millar.

Nora would have hardly noticed Scott Parnell, an old family friend who has moved back to town, if Patch hadn't been acting so distant. Even with Scott's totally infuriating attitude, Nora finds herself drawn to him - despite her lingering feelings that he is hiding something.

If that weren't enough, Nora is haunted by images of her murdered father, and comes to question whether her Nephilim bloodline has anything to do with his death. Desperate to figure out what happened, she puts herself in increasingly dangerous situations to get the answer. But maybe some things are better left buried, because the truth could destroy everything - and everyone - she trusts.

Finished Crescendo last night. Rating: 4 Stars.

I typically don’t struggle with wanting to keep reading a book because I know that even if it’s not good at the exact part I’m reading, surely I have to get to the good part eventually. Thus I keep reading. This book definitely kept me reading, but there were several points where I got frustrated with the characters. The thought went through my head to put the book down and take a break since I was frustrated, but it never got to the point where I actually did put it down for that reason.

That being said, my frustration with the characters comes from them making decision I wouldn’t make myself and not seeing things that I, the reader, can see. Nora throws quite the teenage temper tantrum throughout the majority of the book. While that can be very annoying, I also find it to be very on point for an actual teenager. I’ve definitely felt jealousy and pride the way Nora experiences and have thought some of the same thoughts. The whole “you hurt me first so I’m not apologizing until you do” idea and the “you hurt me so I hurt you” themes rang out over, and over, and dare I say over again. I believe it to be true of how most teenagers would feel and react given the situation. However, personally, I prefer my YA to lean a little more toward adult rather than young. Though I’ve felt the same feelings in the past that Nora does in Crescendo, the “you hurt me, so I hurt you” mantra is revealing Nora’s true maturity level. That thought process is not indicative of true love, which undermines the series in my eyes.

I can’t help it. I love a love story…but I love a TRUE love story. I will continue to root for Nora and Patch as the third book comes out, but this isn’t one that I consider an epic love story. And I love a story that makes me feel something. Overall what this story made me feel was frustrated. I’m not saying that’s 100% a negative thing, because some of the best stories are built upon frustration. I’ll just leave it at that and let the reader decide for themselves how they feel about it.

Another complaint is that Becca Fitzpatrick brought the villain out in the same way as the first story. Hush, Hush had its predictable moments, but I spotted the villain in Crescendo a mile away. Now, not all of my predictions were true, and some things I allowed myself freedom not to try to figure out, but I think as a whole it was fairly predictable, which is a downside for me. After years of watching TV shows like 24 and Prison Break, I’ve learned to look for what is not expected, and therefore, the unexpected becomes expected.

I’m still giving this book 4 stars, but it’d be a 4.0 exactly.

Updated: July 7, 2018

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone - Review

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Harry Potter, # 1)

By: JK Rowling

Expected Publication: June 26th 1997 by Scholastic Inc

320 pages

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Magic

Source: Personal Library

( Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository )

*Note: The above links to Amazon and Book Depository are affiliate links. Affiliate links support giveaways for Somewhere Only We Know readers.

Goodreads description--Harry Potter's life is miserable. His parents are dead and he's stuck with his heartless relatives, who force him to live in a tiny closet under the stairs. But his fortune changes when he receives a letter that tells him the truth about himself: he's a wizard. A mysterious visitor rescues him from his relatives and takes him to his new home, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

After a lifetime of bottling up his magical powers, Harry finally feels like a normal kid. But even within the Wizarding community, he is special. He is the boy who lived: the only person to have ever survived a killing curse inflicted by the evil Lord Voldemort, who launched a brutal takeover of the Wizarding world, only to vanish after failing to kill Harry.

Though Harry's first year at Hogwarts is the best of his life, not everything is perfect. There is a dangerous secret object hidden within the castle walls, and Harry believes it's his responsibility to prevent it from falling into evil hands. But doing so will bring him into contact with forces more terrifying than he ever could have imagined.

Full of sympathetic characters, wildly imaginative situations, and countless exciting details, the first installment in the series assembles an unforgettable magical world and sets the stage for many high-stakes adventures to come.

So I kind of cheated on this one. :) I read the first half of the book but listened to the second half on audiobook. Considering I've already seen the movie it was a slow read for me; therefore, I cheated.

Excellent children's book.

I originally decided to read these because I've seen the movies and while the first few were okay, after a while, I started getting lost in characters names, etc, but could tell the story was getting better and better. So I decided to see what they were about since those I know that have read them rave about them especially the last in the series.

So far, I can only give this one 3 stars.

Updated with cover art & details: July 7, 2018.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Dark & Hollow Places - Review

The Dark and Hollow Places (The Forest of Hands and Teeth, # 3)

By: Carrie Ryan

Publication: March 22nd 2011 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers

384 pages

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Zombies, Horror

Source: Personal Library

( Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository )

*Note: The above links to Amazon and Book Depository are affiliate links. Affiliate links support giveaways for Somewhere Only We Know readers.

Goodreads description--There are many things that Annah would like to forget: the look on her sister's face before Annah left her behind in the Forest of Hands and Teeth, her first glimpse of the Horde as they swarmed the Dark City, the sear of the barbed wire that would scar her for life. But most of all, Annah would like to forget the morning Elias left her for the Recruiters.

Annah's world stopped that day, and she's been waiting for Elias to come home ever since. Somehow, without him, her life doesn't feel much different than the dead that roam the wasted city around her. Until she meets Catcher, and everything feels alive again. But Catcher has his own secrets. Dark, terrifying truths that link him to a past Annah has longed to forget, and to a future too deadly to consider. And now it's up to Annah: can she continue to live in a world covered in the blood of the living? Or is death the only escape from the Return's destruction?

I just finished The Dark & Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan. I just love Carrie Ryan. Her writing is beautiful and heartbreaking. It took me a little longer to get into the beginning of this book versus the other two, but looking back I really like the way she leads into Annah's story.

All of my predictions for this book were off except two. I won't tell you what those predictions were, right or wrong, because I don't want to ruin anything for a potential reader. But, I'm stoked that my predictions were off because there's nothing more disappointing than knowing exactly what's going to happen before you even get started. I also really liked the last couple of paragraphs in the book binding the beginning of the story, the essence of The Forest of Hands & Teeth, to the ending.

Although I really enjoyed this book, The Dead Tossed Waves is still my favorite in the series and possibly one of my favorite stand-alone books of all time. And though I wish I could give this book 5 stars just because Carrie Ryan is awesome, it fell a little short of The Dead Tossed Waves for me...meaning I'll have to give this book 4.9 stars.

Updated: July 7, 2018

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Good to Great - Review

Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap...and Others Don't

By: James C Collins

Publication: October 16th 2001 by HarperBusiness

320 pages

Genre: Non-fiction, Business, Leadership, Self-Help

Source: Personal Library

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*Note: The above links to Amazon and Book Depository are affiliate links. Affiliate links support giveaways for Somewhere Only We Know readers.

Goodreads description--To find the keys to greatness, Collins's 21-person research team read and coded 6,000 articles, generated more than 2,000 pages of interview transcripts and created 384 megabytes of computer data in a five-year project. The findings will surprise many readers and, quite frankly, upset others.

The Challenge
Built to Last, the defining management study of the nineties, showed how great companies triumph over time and how long-term sustained performance can be engineered into the DNA of an enterprise from the very beginning.

But what about the company that is not born with great DNA? How can good companies, mediocre companies, even bad companies achieve enduring greatness?

The Study
For years, this question preyed on the mind of Jim Collins. Are there companies that defy gravity and convert long-term mediocrity or worse into long-term superiority? And if so, what are the universal distinguishing characteristics that cause a company to go from good to great?

The Standards
Using tough benchmarks, Collins and his research team identified a set of elite companies that made the leap to great results and sustained those results for at least fifteen years. How great? After the leap, the good-to-great companies generated cumulative stock returns that beat the general stock market by an average of seven times in fifteen years, better than twice the results delivered by a composite index of the world's greatest companies, including Coca-Cola, Intel, General Electric, and Merck.

The Comparisons
The research team contrasted the good-to-great companies with a carefully selected set of comparison companies that failed to make the leap from good to great. What was different? Why did one set of companies become truly great performers while the other set remained only good?

The Findings
The findings of the Good to Great study will surprise many readers and shed light on virtually every area of management strategy and practice. The findings include: Level 5 Leaders: The research team was shocked to discover the type of leadership required to achieve greatness.

The Hedgehog Concept (Simplicity within the Three Circles): To go from good to great requires transcending the curse of competence.

A Culture of Discipline: When you combine a culture of discipline with an ethic of entrepreneurship, you get the magical alchemy of great results. Technology Accelerators: Good-to-great companies think differently about the role of technology.

The Flywheel and the Doom Loop: Those who launch radical change programs and wrenching restructurings will almost certainly fail to make the leap.

Just finished reading Jim Collin's Good to Great. This was an excellent business book. As the title reflects the book is about what it takes for a company/organization to go from good to great. Even though this book is about businesses, I believe the principles can be applied to different aspects of every day life. I'm definitely glad that I read it.

While I think this was an excellent book, it's not fiction...which is my true love genre. That being said, I just can't give this book a 5 star rating. Hey, I gave fair warning that only a select few would make said rating. Therefore, I'd give this book 4 3/4 stars.

I was actually assigned this book for the text of one of my classes, along with How the Might Fall: And Why Some Organizations Never Give In by Jim Collins. While it was assigned reading, I'm glad that I read it, and Good to Great was recommended to me by my brother at one time too. Definitely a good read, especially if you're even remotely interested in the inner workings of businesses/organiztions and what makes them great.

Updated: July 7, 2018

Friday, March 18, 2011

Lovely Bones

Just finished watching Lovely Bones. I think it is quite possible that it is a brilliant movie. Creepy...yes...but that's part of what makes it brilliant. After watching it, I'm interested in what the book is like, but I'm not sure I want to experience that again. Just because it was brilliant doesn't mean I want to put myself through that in such depth as reading requires.

I was worried there for a bit that the ending wouldn't be satisfying, but it actually was quite satisfying indeed. Anyway, I think it's worth checking out. I think you'd be pleasantly surprised by the geniusness of it, but freaked out and unable to sleep for a few nights as well.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Hush, Hush - Mini Review

Hush, Hush (Hush, Hush, # 1)

By: Becca Fitzpatrick

Publication: October 13th 2009 by Simon & Schuster BFYR

391 pages

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal, Angels

Source: Borrowed from my friend Paula

( Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository )

*Note: The above links to Amazon and Book Depository are affiliate links. Affiliate links support giveaways for Somewhere Only We Know readers.

Goodreads description--A SACRED OATH

Romance was not part of Nora Grey's plan. She's never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how hard her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her. Not until Patch comes along. With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Patch draws Nora to him against her better judgment.

But after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora's not sure whom to trust. Patch seems to be everywhere she is and seems to know more about her than her closest friends. She can't decide whether she should fall into his arms or run and hide. And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds herself near a truth that is way more unsettling than anything Patch makes her feel.

For she is right in the middle of an ancient battle between the immortal and those that have fallen - and, when it comes to choosing sides, the wrong choice will cost Nora her life.

I just finished reading Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick. I finished it in 3 days if that tells you anything. I can't quite give this book my sacred 5 star rating, but it deserves a very fair 4 1/2 stars. It caught my interest quickly and kept me intrigued throughout the whole book. While there were some aspects I didn't quite expect, some of the plot was predictable. A friend of mine read this before I did and Crescendo as well. She tells me there are more twists in store.

I'm a Patch fan already. Looking forward to reading Crescendo soon. I actually put off reading this book because of a negative review I read on Everyone's entitled to their own opinions, but I completely disagree. I love the cover too (which was the only good thing mentioned in the review I read).

That's about it for now...I'm trying not to discuss details too much. I fully believe in experiencing books as they are meant to be. You receive details and information as you progress and that's what makes the story.

Updated: July 8, 2018

Monday, March 14, 2011

Final 2010 5 Star Pick

My final 2010 5 Star pick is The Dead Tossed Waves. LOVE LOVE LOVE this story by Carrie Ryan. The Forest of Hands and Teeth was really good, but this story blew me out of the water. I loved it so much I read it three times in a row.

I thought it was appropriate to discuss it today with the next book in the series, The Dark and Hollow Places, set to release in just 8 days. YAY! I will be headed to the store right after work to pick up my copy.

I love Carrie Ryan's writing style and look forward to much more to come from her. I'm sure I'd say so much more about this book, but it's not as fresh in my memory as I'd like. Uh oh! Sounds like I need a refresher! I just might have to see if I can squeeze in a 4th read before next Tuesday!

Check it out. Well worth it.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Fragile Eternity

Finished Fragile Eternity. It was okay. I'm not sure I like the direction Melissa Marr is headed in, but I'm trying to give it a chance until I finish the other books. But as of now...3 Stars.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

5 Star Pick #2

Last Sacrifice, Vampire Academy Book 6 by Richelle Mead. It's no secret, I'm a fan of the Vampire Academy books. Richelle Mead wraps up Last Sacrifice while leaving the door open for her spin-off series, Bloodlines.

I'm very much looking forward to the new series. It appears that she set up things to come about in Book 6 all the way in the beginning with Book 1, and I can't wait to see what she carries on with and bring about in the spinoff. That my friends, is talent and planning and I believe it paid off.

Not only do I own the paper copies of each book in this series, but I also have the audiobooks and have passed them on to my friends who like books but do not find sitting down and reading to be a priority. I don't fault them, but there's nothing like cracking a book.

Last Sacrifice, 5 star pick. Check it out!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

* * * * * Picks

Since I've yet to finish a book in 2011 that I'd rate * * * * *, I'll work my way through 2010's reads.

Starting with Spirit Bound, book five of the Vampire Academy series, by Richelle Mead. Perhaps, I'm alittle biased because this is the first book I've had signed by an author. My sister-in-law and I made a spontaneous trip to Fairhope, Alabama to go to a book signing. If you knew anything about me, you'd know spontaneous trips are not typical for me. But what are the chances that one of my favorite authors would be in Alabama again? Slim to none.  I finished this book within 3 days of the release date. It's action packed from beginning to end. And of course, Richelle Mead has to throw in a cliffhanger.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Why not?

Basically, I love to read. My 4th grade teacher, Ms. B, set me off into the world of "chapter books". In the 5th and 6th grades, my love for reading really blossomed with the help of "the Dragon Lady". I learned that I was completely content spending an entire Saturday reading a good book.

I took a break from recreational reading after high school. But then my sister-in-law--I just didn't picture her being a reader--took a complete series with her on a family trip to the beach and read the entire time. I just had to know what this series was about that could hook my sister-in-law. Well it sparked my passion for reading again and I haven't been able to stop since. At the expense of my responsibilites, school work, work work, etc., I've continued to read and read and read some more.

I'm not quite sure what I intend this blog to be at this point, but I want to find out. So, why not?