Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Strangers Outside: Short Story Review

I decided to try something new when I started reading the story The Strangers Outside. For one thing, I don't usually read short stories, and for another, I don't usually read horror stories. So this was an entirely new experience, and one that I'd like to share with ya'll.

The beginning of this story could easily mislead someone... it could have went in an entirely different direction. Instead of being a horror story, this could have been... well, perhaps a romance. Or a story about two sisters.

But then you can tell that it most definitely is a horror story. Because there are creepy stalker guys. Nothing is more chilling than a group of robed, dark figures lurking about a cottage.

It all gets scarier from there. The creepy figures multiply and soon both girls in the cottage are afraid for their lives. The suspense is overwhelming. I had to know what was going to happen... and eventually I did. I have to say, the conclusion was a bit disappointing, and I wish I could learn a bit more. However, I was still satisfied. This was a decent start-off story for a non-thriller reader like myself, and for anyone else looking for a short story to read for Halloween.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday: 10/20/10

Between Here and Forever
by Elizabeth Scott
Release Date: May 24, 2011

Abby accepted that she can’t measure up to her beautiful, magnetic sister Tess a long time ago, and knows exactly what she is: Second best. Invisible.

Until the accident.

Now Tess is in a coma, and Abby’s life is on hold. It may have been hard living with Tess, but it's nothing compared to living without her.

She's got a plan to bring Tess back though, involving the gorgeous and mysterious Eli, but then Abby learns something about Tess, something that was always there, but that she’d never seen.

Abby is about to find out that truth isn't always what you think it is, and that life holds more than she ever thought it could.

Um, Elizabeth Scott? Duh, she's amazing and wonderful and one of the best writers in the world. And I love every book I've read by her. Can't wait.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

want a Kindle?

Sparkling Reviews

Sparkling Reviews is giving away a Kindle! Click here to read more about it... it's definitely worth your time!


Restored Hope

Restored Hope is a book that you know from the summary exactly what it will be like: cute, fun, and maybe a little sad.

That was exactly what this book was like for me. It starts out with the perfect family, and then quickly things spiral out of control: there is sibling rivalry, accidents, abandonment, etc. Basically: things suck. And Camilla/Samantha is left to try and repair her life.

This book is about Samantha's journey through life, and how she manages to take a crappy situation and turn it into a happily ever after. This is not a bad concept. I really liked how Sam's life turned out... it wasn't too mushy mushy, and it wasn't too horrible either. The ending was picture perfect, just like the beginning, and I finished with a smile on my face.

That's not to say there weren't flaws. One thing that irked me while reading this novel was how quickly things happened. One page I was reading about a wedding, and the next page a child is born... so many things happened, and I didn't feel like I got to really know the characters themselves. All I knew was their life story.

The basic idea of this novel is a good one, but I don't know if I'm a fan of how it was pulled together. Instead of Sam's life story, it would have been better if it focused on a certain period of her life. Maybe the introduction could be the traumatic events of her childhood, and as she's growing into an adult she can come to terms with everything... the end. I felt like there was a lot happening, and I didn't really get a good grasp on what I was supposed to be following.

Overall, not bad. I have read much worse. But not superfantastic either. If anyone is looking for a quick, happy book, I'd say give this one a try.


PS. Thanks to Brenda Youngerman for sending this review copy!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Kindred by Octavia E. Butler

This novel was definitely not what I was expecting... not that I had any expectations. I still found myself pleasantly surprised with what this novel turned out to be.

The summary itself is intriguing enough (see this post for a summary and quote). The idea of a modern black woman traveling back to a slave plantation is one that I had never even thought of... it's such an interesting concept, and I'm really interested in looking into more novels like this one.

One thing about this book is that from the very beginning, it keeps you wanting to know more. I can guarantee that anyone who reads the prologue will want to read the rest, if only to figure out "how did this happen?!" And if you aren't pulled in by the prologue, I know that the first couple of pages will definitely get your attention. This book doesn't waste time in getting to the point: it goes right into the story, and the action doesn't stop until the very end. Once you pick this up, you will not want to stop reading... there are very few points in the novel where you can set it aside without wanting to pick it right back up again. In fact, two nights in a row I stayed up much later than I should have, just because I had to know what happened right then... it couldn't wait.

The other part of this novel that I absolutely loved is the characters. The thing about a novel like this is that the characters have to play their part. And damn, did Octavia Butler deliver. The MC, Dana, was true to who she was: a modern black woman who didn't belong on a plantation. She didn't suddenly develop superhuman strength and overthrow her white "masters". It was apparent that she didn't fit in from the very moment she arrived: she was educated, dressed differently, and had endured none of the abuse and suffering that black people in slavery had to endure. While her experiences on the plantation changed that for her, she never did fit in.

Her (white) husband also was a very believable character. Due to events in the novel, he was forced to spend an amount of time living in the early 1800s... and it affected him. If he would have come out of it unaffected, I would have laughed at the ridiculousness of this novel. However, he showed change, and I doubt that he or Dana ever truly recovered from their experiences.

I also loved that this novel didn't have what you might call a "happy" ending. Dana didn't go back in time to change the world... she went back in time to change a person. And this was all done in a very believable way.

Overall, this book was COMPLETELY AMAZING. It has been on my mind since I finished it, and I will definitely look out for more Octavia Butler books.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday: 10/13/10

Cryer's Cross
by Lisa McMann
Release Date: February 8, 2011

The small town of Cryer’s Cross is rocked by tragedy when an unassuming freshman disappears without a trace. Kendall Fletcher wasn’t that friendly with the missing girl, but the angst wreaks havoc on her OCD-addled brain.

When a second student goes missing—someone close to Kendall’s heart—the community is in an uproar. Caught in a downward spiral of fear and anxiety, Kendall’s not sure she can hold it together. When she starts hearing the voices of the missing, calling out to her and pleading for help, she fears she’s losing her grip on reality. But when she finds messages scratched in a desk at school—messages that could only be from the missing student who used to sit there—Kendall decides that crazy or not, she’d never forgive herself if she didn’t act on her suspicions.

Something’s not right in Cryer’s Cross—and Kendall’s about to find out just how far the townspeople will go to keep their secrets buried.


I love stories that deal with entire communities and their issues. (Maybe that's why I like The Vampire Diaries so much??) That was one of the reasons why I was intrigued by this book, but then I read this awesome review and I knew that this was a must-read.

Also, doesn't the cover just catch your attention? It did for me at least.

And an additional thought... I still have to read the Wake trilogy :( I've heard such good things about it, but I've just never gotten around to it.
There's my post for this week!

Thanks for reading!

Monday, October 11, 2010

if this doesn't make you want to read it...

... I don't know what else will. :)

So I know there are memes floating around the blogosphere that have the purpose of sharing memorable quotes from books, but I don't want to participate in any sort of meme... I just wanted to share something interesting from Kindred.

Page 19:
"Again the light seemed to dim and I felt the sick dizziness. I pushed back from the table, but didn't try to get up. I couldn't have gotten up.

I didn't answer.

'Is it happening again?'
'I think so.' I sat very still, trying not to fall off my chair. The floor seemed farther away than it should have. I reached out for the table to steady myself, but before I could touch it, it was gone. And the distant floor seemed to darken and change. The linoleum tile became wood, partially carpeted. And the chair beneath me vanished."

For some reason, I really liked that passage of this book. And so far I am loving the writing and the story... it's such a unique and interesting concept that I'd never even thought of, and I can't help but be drawn into it.

Here is a quick summary from Amazon for anyone interested:
Dana, a modern black woman, is celebrating her twenty-sixth birthday with her new husband when she is snatched abruptly from her home in California and transported to the antebellum South. Rufus, the white son of a plantation owner, is drowning, and Dana has been summoned to save him. Dana is drawn back again and again for Rufus, yet each time the stay grows longer and more dangerous until it is uncertain whether or not Dana"s life will end, long before it has even begun.
Definitely an interesting read, and while I'm only 54 pages into it, I'd definitely recommend it.

Expect a full review sometime in the next week or so. :)


Sunday, October 10, 2010

In My Mailbox: 10/10/10

Happy 10-10-10 everyone!! :)

Hope it's a good one. Personally I'll be spending my day catching up on some much-needed sleep, setting up a bulletin board, and hopefully finishing some homework.

Anyways, here's the real reason you're reading this post!
Information about In My Mailbox can be found here on The Story Siren's blog!

This post is going to cover the last two weeks, because I didn't get the chance to post last weekend.

Here's what I've gotten!

1. Restored Hope by Brenda Youngerman

Signed and sent by Brenda for review... I think it sounds like a super intriguing book, and it's actually next in my pile of "for fun" reads. I'm looking forward to it!

2. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

In my post yesterday I talked about Wuthering Heights, which was only so-so. After watching the first half of the movie, I know that Jane Eyre will be a fantastic read. I can't wait!

That's all for my mailbox, but I'm pretty pleased with it :)

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Required Reading: Mini Reviews

rMost of the reading I've been doing lately is for school, but I figured I might as well post my thoughts on those books as well. Just maybe someone else will have read these books and be able to relate to my thoughts.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
This book was fairly decent, but it didn't blow my mind. I enjoyed hearing the story told from the maid's point of view, and I liked how it didn't have a perfect happy ending like I was expecting. I think this was just a little easier for me to get through than Pride and Prejudice, so if you're someone who is looking for some classic romance and doesn't know where to start, this is definitely a good one to try. However, this book was blown out of the water as soon as the teacher had us watch a movie adaptation of Jane Eyre. Based on the movie, Jane Eyre is better than Wuthering Heights by a longshot.

I also read on Elizabeth Scott's blog that another adaptation of Jane Eyre will be released next year. Which I'm excited for.

Which reminds me that the copy of Jane Eyre that I ordered should be here... *checks email*... yep, right now. I just have to go downstairs and get it :)

Anyways onto the next review...

Wieland, or the Transformation by Charles Brockden Brown
I was quite excited to start reading this book, actually. I sneaked a peak at some reviews and got a general idea of the plot before I started, and I was instantly intrigued.

The book started out really slow. Since it was written so long ago, it was hard to understand the writing style. It got easier around halfway through, where the plot really picked up and it got really exciting. I actually didn't want to stop reading after about the halfway point. The ending was a bit of a letdown... I was hoping for some sort of explosion or something, I guess, since that's how the book starts out, but it was satisfying enough. However, I'm not looking forward to writing a paper about the theme... I'd rather just set this aside and start reading something else!

Which leads to...

Kindred by Octavia Butler
Review to come as soon as I finish :) This is the first contemporary book we're reading in English 105, and I'm about 30 pages in and I am dying to learn more about what's going on. It is definitely a page-turner so far!

That's all for my mini-reviews. :) Hope that makes up for the lack of reviews.

Expect an IMM post tomorrow, it'll cover the books I've gotten for the past two weeks. Also, lots of WoW posts, because there are A LOT of books I'm looking forward to!


As an added thought, does anyone else have any required reading that you would like to discuss?? I'm happy to hear about anything, because chances are I'll either want to or be forced to read it sometime in the future :)