Wednesday, October 29, 2014

CFBA Book Spotlight: Quilted by Christmas by Jodie Bailey

About the Book: Taryn McKenna believes she’s easy to forget. Abandoned by her parents and left behind when her high school sweetheart joined the army, she vows to never love again and throws herself into her love for the outdoors and the pursuit of a college degree—something no one else in her family has ever accomplished. Her goal, as a young teacher in the hills of North Carolina, is to leave a legacy in the lives of the middle-schoolers she teaches. When Taryn’s grandmother Jemma, the only other person who ever held her close, has a heart attack that reveals a fatal medical condition, Taryn is corralled into helping Grandma work on a final project—an Irish chain quilt that tells the story of her history and the love Jemma knows is out there for Taryn. As the pieces of the quilt come together, Taryn begins to see her value. Can she learn to believe that God will never leave her behind even though others have?

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Killer Next Door by Alex Marwood


I was really looking forward to reading this book the moment I first heard about it, so when I had a few hours of down time, I eagerly dug in. I really did like it a lot and I think it functions great as a thriller, but I would like to forewarn that the jacket copy gives away way too much. It sets up an event that doesn't happen until midway through the book, and this can have the very unfortunate side effect of making the book feel like it's dragging because you are waiting for something specific to happen. Couple that with the prologue and it was too much.

I still liked the book a lot, though. It's about a woman on the run from her past life who ends up renting a room that hasn't even been fully moved out of yet. The cash rent system works for her, though. But, everyone in the house has a secret, and the meeting of so many different kinds of people leads to some unusual events. Meanwhile, none of them are aware that a killer also lurks among them.

As I was reading this book, it reminded me that while we often think of horror books during the fall and Halloween season, a really really effective tool in any horror story can be oppressive heat. The Killer Next Door uses it magnificently. It is just SO HOT. This in and of itself is of course horrifying...who likes the heat? But also is great impetus for things to happen, people open their doors, air things out, and if they don't it raises suspicions. Rear Window, or The Ruins would be other good examples of heat in horror stories, imo.

There's also some...well dramatic irony? The reader knows some of what is causing problems for the residents, but they don't. It's very disgusting, and knowing this--while they are dealing with it and trying to figure it out, was also effective in creating tension and suspense.

And the book makes two shoutouts to The Walking Dead so kudos for that!

Liked it a lot! Think serial killer novel, but not typical and you have this book, I think!

I received a copy from the publisher.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Made for You by Melissa Marr


I loved Melissa Marr's Wicked Lovely series and Carnival of Souls (a series she isn't finishing for reasons I'm unclear on) so I was eager to check out her latest YA offering. If you like thrillers that aren't supernatural or overly scary for your October reading, this is a good one!

Made for You is about Eve a young privileged and popular girl. She has a stalker, but she's unaware of it until he attempts to take her life. As she's recovered from the attack, she realizes that when she touches people, she senses how they will die. This troubles her, but also begins to give her clues into her stalker and she quickly realizes those she loves might be in danger. She begins to piece things together in order to try stop her stalker...but can she figure out who it is in time?

This is a fairly quick paced read, with plenty of intrigue. I liked the intrigue of her sensing people's deaths, especially since it wasn't always tied to her own predicament...the reality of death and things ending became a sort of burden to her. I also liked this twist because it presented questions about how playing with knowledge of future events can affect and impact the future.

It's not all doom and gloom! There is a love story and some really nice family moments, too. Plus, I love Melissa Marr for including a shout-out to Sara Zarr's books!

I read an egalley that was provided to me by the publisher. Recommended!

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Walking Dead 5x02: Strangers

Great episode, I suspect the show is really on a roll.

Loved all things Rick and Michonne. Love that Michonne is fighting for some kind of life and therefore doesn't miss her sword, lol. It's actually character growth, I think, though I suspect she'll be just fine to be reunited with it since she's so quick and able with it. I love what the sword represents to Michonne's character and I will have to spend some time thinking about it more.

Lol, I don't know really know why Rick is still the leader (i.e. when everyone told Abraham they'd do what Rick said) but whatever, the show seems to want to have a leader. For those of you who are primarily Carol fans, was Rick's ...uh...asking her if they'd have him, enough? I do love Carol, but I know that I'm biased towards Rick and I felt that he did humble himself with her, but at the same time seemed to express that he still wasn't sure over what she'd done. I do get why it might be a hard thing to come to terms with... I know fandom is quick to forgive, but it's only because the show had her kill people that barely had screen time. If she'd killed Daryl or Maggie or Glenn for the sake of the group, I feel like it would have had more impact insofar as viewers understanding how it felt to the others. But obviously, I'm glad she didn't! Anyway, I found it interesting that she echoed Tyreese's words, i.e. I can't talk about it.

Father Gilliam is intriguing! Also, I loved the church scene, like they were eating a potluck and Abraham gave a sermon, lol. And Tara asked for Maggie's forgiveness. I don't know it was all nicely placed and just exuded warmth.

Daryl and Carol totally took off without telling anyone! And omg poor Bob. That was an exceptionally well done piece of horror, I must say, though so very sad. Bob was totally bitten, right? :( So sad.

Also, I've been kind of...what are they doing with Tyreese, but Chad L. Coleman, who plays Tyreese, pointed out on The Talking Dead that it's an interesting gender role reversal..which I totally hadn't thought about at all.

Tell me all your thoughts and feelings!

Amy

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Sea House by Elisabeth Gifford


I find stories about selkie to be pretty fascinating and I always love a story set on islands...there's a unique kind of atmosphere inherent in such stories and islands by nature evoke ideas of both the unforgiving forces of nature, the beauty of the sea, and isolation. As such, an island setting was absolutely perfect for the story Elisabeth Gifford told in The Sea House. To top it off, I love dual narratives where the past affects the present and we get to hear both stories!

Ruth and her husband are renovating an old house to be a bed and breakfast. One day they make a startling discovery in their floors...the bones of a small child that appears to have a mermaid tail. But Ruth herself is battling demons from her past. As she seeks to discover what happened so many years ago, she is confronted with her own unsettled past...a past she must confront if she is to have a successful future with her husband and soon to be born child.

The Sea House is a lovely book..I was instantly intrigued by the idea of researching if selkie were real and the fact the characters very much believe they might be keeps you guessing! But more than anything I love a good story about healing which The Sea House delivers. Sometimes it can be hard to read of another person's misery..the feelings, the unease, and the pain all leapt of the page. But the book in no way keeps you hanging. There can be a way forward and much to my satisfaction, sometimes the past is not what we think. Which is a pretty fascinating idea in itself, considering how much we let it shape our actions and future. There's also even a hint of a love story!

The writing itself is very nice, especially in capturing feelings of emotional intensity--in being able to harness them into words and convey them to the reader. The history is fun and intriguing told through letters, diary entries, and first person accounts and while you might be able to predict what some of the things that happened are, it's still interesting to read exactly how the unfolded. It's also really cool that this book is inspired by an actual letter that a clergyman wrote about seeing a selkie! Also of note is that this book portrays characters of faith who are also very interested in science with no conflict.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review. I am participating in a blog tour...there is a button below that if you click on it will take you to a giveaway.

Elisabeth Gifford The Sea House

About the Author: Elisabeth Gifford grew up in a vicarage in the industrial Midlands. She studied French literature and world religions at Leeds University. She is the author of The House of Hope: A Story of God's Love and Provision for the Abandoned Orphans of China and has written articles for The Times and the Independent and has a Diploma in Creative Writing from Oxford OUDCE and an MA in Creative Writing from Royal Holloway College. She is married with three children. They live in Kingston on Thames but spend as much time as possible in the Hebrides.

Purchase the Book!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Spotlight and Giveaway: An Unseemly Wife by E.B. Moore


About the Book

The year is 1867 and Ruth Holtz, based on Moore’s own great grandmother’s story, has the ideal Amish life. She has a loving husband, prosperous farm, several healthy and beautiful children, and the security of living in the Amish community. But soon enough, her world begins to unravel when the English arrive and inspire her husband to seek a new life in Idaho.

As a dutiful wife, Ruth goes along when her husband breaks the rules of their Order. But her willingness to comply disintegrates and she is forced to accept help from some unlikely allies, only to end in betrayal. As Ruth strives for a better future she needs to make unimaginable sacrifices, risk her faith and family, and transform to a truly modern woman.

Giveaway:

I have one copy to give away to a United States address. Just fill out the form below to enter! Winner will be notified via email. Giveaway closes October 31.




Amy

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Walking Dead 5x01: No Sanctuary

I always feel like with a show like The Walking Dead that goes off the air for six months and has a lot of fan hype that by the time the episode actually rolls around you already sort of know what's going to happen. We knew the group would need to escape Terminus and that the first few minutes would be intense and if you watched the trailer for the season you knew that the group would be reunited, etc.

Having said that, I loved it. I loved being reunited with these characters, I love that Carol and Tyreese were able to quickly figure out Terminus was up to no good, I love that Carol got to come in and be the hero and that she was quick and smart and clever, and I love that the group is completely ruthless now. I think there is still some negotiation to be done, but "you are the butcher or you are the cattle." is clearly the new theme and it was ushered in by the horrors of Terminus.

I have mixed feelings on the situation in Terminus, it's not clear why they originally offered sanctuary, but there is still some room left there for the imagination, I guess. The kind of brutality they faced, including rape, is something I think TWD glosses over at times, so I guess it's good that they are establishing more and more that this is the world they live in.

Despite all the action, and the fearless brutality of Terminus, my favorite moments came at the end when the group was reunited. There's a really beautiful moment where Rick is united with his baby daughter, Judith, and Michonne and Carol look on smiling, wistful. There will be no miraculous reunion for these two women and their children, they are gone and lost forever. But they still take joy in that moment and it's beautiful, but it's also beautiful that the show gives that tiny space to remember their own losses. I loooove that Rick and Carol seemed mostly, genuinely glad to see each other, and I hope that is that--Rick is not the same man who banished Carol to begin with. I love both of these characters and it was exhausting to defend them both! And of course Daryl and Carol's hug was full of meaning, too.

There are still a bunch of characters I'm rather meh about and this episode did nothing to further my interest in them. The show needs to work fast in getting me to buy in otherwise I'll just complain about lack of screentime for Michonne.

Quick note: I couldn't help but notice that the show lingered on clocks/watches two times...Maggie and Carol. Should I be concerned? Is time running out?

In any case, Morgan's arrival at the end was a fun surprise, and Rick denouncing the idea of Sanctuary puts on a path to what should be a brutal but exciting season. I can't wait for next week!

Amy