Friday, November 10, 2017

What I'm Reading

So it's Friday morning, for me this is the same as Saturday morning since I'm off work on Fridays and Saturdays. Most weekends find me knee deep in homework since I'm in the middle of an effort to get enough credits under my belt to transfer to UCR, BUT this weekend my schedule is free and clear and I'm spending it in bed reading a fantastic book! It's Girl in Snow by Danya Kukafka. It's her first novel, but it's wicked good and I'm already looking forward to hearing more from her.

Girl in Snow is a mystery, but it's also an expertly wrought portrait of the three main characters telling the story, Russ, Cameron, and Jade. Bit by bit, their stories unfold and their connections are revealed...not in a jarring way that pulls you out of the story, but in a perfectly sensible way that surprises and delights with how well things tie together. I'm 65% in and plan on staying in bed reading until I finish!

From Amazon...." When a beloved high schooler named Lucinda Hayes is found murdered, no one in her sleepy Colorado suburb is untouched—not the boy who loved her too much; not the girl who wanted her perfect life; not the officer assigned to investigate her murder. In the aftermath of the tragedy, these three indelible characters—Cameron, Jade, and Russ—must each confront their darkest secrets in an effort to find solace, the truth, or both. In crystalline prose, Danya Kukafka offers a brilliant exploration of identity and of the razor-sharp line between love and obsession, between watching and seeing, between truth and memory."

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley


Well holy shit, finally! After a February of false starts, beginning at least a dozen books that I'd get twenty or thirty percent into only to realize I was making myself continue reading, I hit the jackpot. Three days from start to finish on this one and that's only because my time was also taken up by doctor's appointments, work, and a Victoria's Secret sale.
I loved this book, and I'm excited about reading again. Noah Hawley's writing made me remember why books and stories have always been my passion. The narrative was compelling, the characters believable, and the pacing was perfection. I also loved that this book had important things to say about the world we live in and how we get our news and what we as a society feed off of. The news isn't about the actual news anymore, it's about entertaining a public hungry for the next thing to gossip about at work the next morning. Before the Fall isn't preachy, the things it has to say are a natural part of the story but they may very well make you think a little bit more about how your news is presented to you.
Besides all that, the real meat and potatoes of the story is the mystery and the characters. There have been many times I've picked up a book that sounds great only to have it turn out to be a laundry list of interesting things that happen to people you never end up caring about. God, that drives me nuts. Thank goodness Before the Fall doesn't do that. The things that happen are as equally fascinating as the characters they happen to.
And oh! Sidenote! Noah Hawley happens to be the writer and the creator for the show Fargo. Which means I have some TV watching to do. I've also read Sony has picked up the rights to make a movie from this, hoping that's true, I think it would be fantastic (I'm feeling Matthew McConaughey :)
Before the Fall is gonna be on a lot of must read lists this year, add it to yours!

Thanks NetGalley!


(Summary from Amazon) On a foggy summer night, eleven people-ten privileged, one down-on-his-luck painter-depart Martha's Vineyard on a private jet headed for New York. Sixteen minutes later, the unthinkable happens: the plane plunges into the ocean. The only survivors are Scott Burroughs-the painter-and a four-year-old boy, who is now the last remaining member of an immensely wealthy and powerful media mogul's family. With chapters weaving between the aftermath of the crash and the backstories of the passengers and crew members-including a Wall Street titan and his wife, a Texan-born party boy just in from London, a young woman questioning her path in life, and a career pilot-the mystery surrounding the tragedy heightens. As the passengers' intrigues unravel, odd coincidences point to a conspiracy. Was it merely by dumb chance that so many influential people perished? Or was something far more sinister at work? Events soon threaten to spiral out of control in an escalating storm of media outrage and accusations. And while Scott struggles to cope with fame that borders on notoriety, the authorities scramble to salvage the truth from the wreckage. Amid pulse-quickening suspense, the fragile relationship between Scott and the young boy glows at the heart of this stunning novel, raising questions of fate, human nature, and the inextricable ties that bind us together.

Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (May 31, 2016)

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Hello bookies!!!

So Blogger tells me I haven't posted here since 2011! If any of you are still around, thanks! I'm glad you stayed cause I've missed the blogging community and talking about books with all of you. I still keep track of my books over on Goodreads and leave ratings there and I talk about books on my personal Facebook page but not everyone there loves books as much as we do ;)

Part of the reason I drifted away was because I was feeling pressure from getting SO many review copies and review requests and being so grateful for them that I felt oh...obligated...to read and review. And that kinda sucked the joy out of reading for me. So. New policy here on the blog. I only say yes to review copies of books I really want to read. And I don't do negative reviews. Not that I'll give a positive review to a book I don't like, no...I just won't finish a book I don't like. If I'm not giving it at least 3 stars over on Goodreads, I'm not going to waste my time finishing it. Life is too short to read bad books. And I believe in "Promote what you love, not what you hate." So my posts will be positive. Doesn't mean I won't point out what kept a 3 star book from being a 5 star book for me, but it'll still be worth our time :)

WHAT I'M READING NOW

The Winter Girl by Matt Marinovich

(click the title ^^^ to get to Amazon to read a synopsis or order)



Ok, so it's not out until January 2016, but I got my (Kindle) review copy from NetGalley and couldn't wait to start reading. Review will come later :)

Til next time, why not leave me a comment and let me know what YOU'RE reading? I'd love to hear from you....



Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wednesday's Most Wanted


It's Wednesday.
I want them.
And they're on their way =)

From the author's website...

Turned into a blood-drinking abomination in 1867, Nathaniel Cade was offered a choice by President Andrew Johnson: serve the United States, or end his unnatural existence. Cade has served every president since, he is the most closely guarded of White House secrets: a superhuman covert agent who is the last line of defense against the nightmares that threaten the American dream.

From what I understand, Cade is supposed to be a badass vampire. Which is just how I like 'em!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Review: Chime by Franny Billingsley

Chime
By: Franny Billingsley
Published by: Dial
Publication date: March 17, 2011
YA, 368 pages
I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

From Goodreads...


Before Briony's stepmother died, she made sure Briony blamed herself for all the family's hardships. Now Briony has worn her guilt for so long it's become a second skin. She often escapes to the swamp, where she tells stories to the Old Ones, the spirits who haunt the marshes. But only witches can see the Old Ones, and in her village, witches are sentenced to death. Briony lives in fear her secret will be found out, even as she believes she deserves the worst kind of punishment.

Then Eldric comes along with his golden lion eyes and mane of tawny hair. He's as natural as the sun, and treats her as if she's extraordinary. And everything starts to change. As many secrets as Briony has been holding, there are secrets even she doesn't know.

Oh my gosh, I loved this one! Chime is completely unlike anything out there in the realm of YA. It's a fairytale, it's lush, it's surreal and otherwordly. I'll admit, it took me a couple of chapters to fall into the rhythm of Chime as it has its own cadence but once I did I was completely lost to Franny Billingsley's unique voice.

I thought I had read about every paranormal element out there, but Chime gives us what I can only describe as swamp fae, think localized folklore come to life. Never once did I feel I knew what to expect and I can't tell you how refreshing that was! Nothing followed formula, not the setting, not the characters, not the romance.

Briony (captured perfectly by the cover model) is tormented. Tragedy and mysterious illness have consistently befallen her family and due to her stepmother's revelations, she is convinced she is the cause. She is a witch and her emotions have manifested disaster. What an impossibly heavy burden for her to bear.

As a witch, she not only believes she is incapable of love, she also feels she doesn't have the right to express sadness, for witches don't cry. But she and Eldric become friends and I couldn't help but wonder if Briony would eventually feel the power of love and whether love would win out over evil. This is a fairytale but there are no signposts along the road guaranteeing a happy ending.

Colorful characters abound...young Tiddy Rex, Mad Tom, Cecil ~ the boy who would have her hand and Eldric, the boy who would awaken feelings she didn't think a witch could experience.
There are mysteries galore and I was never quite sure while reading what was real and what was not...though all is explained fully and satisfactorily with deeply buried secrets revealed in Chime's climax.

Eerily atmospheric and lyrical, I would recommend Chime to anyone seeking something truly original and transporting!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Review: Witch and Wizard by James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet

Witch and Wizard
By: James Patterson
Published by: Little, Brown, and Co.
Publication date: December 14, 2009
YA, 320 pages
I borrowed this book

From Goodreads...


Imagine you wake up and the world around you-life as you know it-has changed in an instant. That's what has happened to Whit Allgood and his sister, Wisty. They went to sleep as normal teenagers, and woke up as wanted criminals. Accused of holding incredible powers they'd never dreamed possible. And now, just how different they are-special, even-if just beginning to be revealed in a strange new world.


Hi guys, I know it's been a while since I posted...a little over a week actually, but I had to take a little break from the blog. I was starting to get a little stressed out over writing reviews and doing posts and the fact that I can't seem to catch up with all the books I need to read. But I've been reading some great books and I have some awesome guest posts coming up on the blog so I'm ready to dive back in!

That being said, I'm coming back atcha with my first really negative review of the year.

Witch and Wizard just didn't do it for me. There were SO many problems with this one for me, the first and the most obvious being the deal with chapter length. Each chapter is 3 pages TOPS. It was one of the most annoying things I have ever encountered while reading a book.

Second, and most importantly for me, the characters were incredibly unrealistic and flat. The author tried to make the dialogue funny but it was just ridiculous. The characters also were guilty of not having any kind of believable emotional response to anything that was happening to them.

Thirdly, the things going on in the book made no sense. There WERE a lot of things going on, but I found myself unable to feel any tension for Whit and Wisty because I just didn't care about them.

Really nothing else to say about this one. Can't recommend this one to anyone and won't be reading book two. Have any of you ever picked up a book by a big name author only to be completely disappointed??

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: The Taker by Alma Katsu

The Taker
By: Alma Katsu
Published by: Gallery
Publication date: September 6, 2011 (but should be available from Book Depository TOMORROW!)

I first heard about this one over at Daisy Chain Book Reviews (Click to read her review and you will want to read it too!) and it went straight to the top of my want list. (And I love the cover ~ black, white, and red are my favorite colors =)

Product description from Book Depository...

True love can last an eternity...Have you ever loved someone so much that you'd do anything for them? When Dr Luke Findley turns up to his hospital shift in the small town of St Andrews, Maine, he's expecting just another evening of minor injuries and domestic disputes. But instead, Lanore McIlvrae walks into his life - and changes it forever. For Lanny is a woman with a past...Lanny McIlvrae is unlike anyone Luke has ever met. Hers is a story of love and betrayal that defies time and transcends mortality - and cannot end until Lanny's demons are finally put to rest. Her two hundred years on this earth have seen her seduced by both decadence and brutality - but through it all she has stayed true to the one true love of her life. Until now. An unforgettable novel about the power of unrequited love to elevate and sustain, but also to blind and ultimately destroy, "The Taker" is an immortal love story on an epic scale...



Sunday, April 10, 2011

New on my Shelf

 

Lots of awesomeness this week….first up is Zombie Cupcakes which I won from Velvet at vvb32 Reads. The pictures and cupcakes are amazing and as soon as I can assemble all the ingredients I will make some and post pictures for you.

 

zombiecupcakes

 

The next four were received for review (I’m reading The Psychopath Test right now and it’s fascinating!) And look at that cover for Imaginary Girls….gorgeous!!

 

   thepsychoice princesschimeimaginary girls

 

And these four were won from Among the Muses

thispen   hundredNight Runner beastly   

I can’t wait to read all of these!!!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Review: How to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf by Molly Harper

How to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf
By: Molly Harper
Published by: Pocket
Publication date: February 22, 2011
Adult Paranormal Romance, 384 pages
Won from Escape Between the Pages
Favorite Quote: “Well, that cinched it. He was an asshole. I was definitely going to end up sleeping with him.”

From Amazon....


Even in Grundy, Alaska, it’s unusual to find a naked guy with a bear trap clamped to his ankle on your porch. But when said guy turns into a wolf, recent southern transplant Mo Wenstein has no difficulty identifying the problem. Her surly neighbor Cooper Graham—who has been openly critical of Mo’s ability to adapt to life in Alaska—has trouble of his own. Werewolf trouble.

For Cooper, an Alpha in self-imposed exile from his dysfunctional pack, it’s love at first sniff when it comes to Mo. But Cooper has an even more pressing concern on his mind. Several people around Grundy have been the victims of wolf attacks, and since Cooper has no memory of what he gets up to while in werewolf form, he’s worried that he might be the violent canine in question.

If a wolf cries wolf, it makes sense to listen, yet Mo is convinced that Cooper is not the culprit. Except if he’s not responsible, then who is? And when a werewolf falls head over haunches in love with you, what are you supposed to do anyway? The rules of dating just got a whole lot more complicated. . . .


I'm pretty hard to please when it comes to adult paranormal romance. I won't even pick up a book that has a shirtless, headless man or a midriff baring leather clad chick on the cover. Either the heroine is TOO snarky or too much of a horndog or both. I like to be able to relate a little bit to the main character and I like to think I'm a pretty nice non-slut. (Although if Johnny Depp should arrive at my doorstep one night, all bets are off.) Molly Harper has done a fine job of creating a heroine who's likeable and a story that's laugh out loud funny (and sexy too!)

Mo Wenstein is fresh out of a broken engagement and decides it is time to wipe the slate clean, break away from her mega involved hippie parents and make a fresh start of it somewhere far from home. I happen to LOVE this kind of story...think Under the Tuscan Sun, Dance Upon the Air by Nora Roberts, Chocolat. I think I must harbor a secret fantasy of chucking it all and running away to somewhere new and exotic. Of course in all these stories, the heroine has some incredible cooking skills and so I fear I must stay put. Unless there is a great demand somewhere for a woman who has mastered the skills of vegetarian microwave cookery. Mo is no exception to this rule, but I'm getting ahead of myself here. She decides to migrate to the small town of Grundy, Alaska....which in my head looks something like this...


After settling in to the cabin she has rented, she heads into town and the local saloon, where she soon finds herself being offered a job as a short order cook (there's the cooking) and making friends with a colorful cast of locals. Among those locals is the gorgeous, yet snarly Cooper. He regards Mo as an outsider and is constantly giving her a hard time, convinced she will high tail it out of there once the really cold weather hits. Also among the locals is dear, sweet handsome Alan who is so into her, but we know the drill ladies. It's the challenge and the a**hole that gets our heroines every time!

Mo finds Cooper on her porch one night. Naked. With his leg caught in a bear trap. And then he shifts into a wolf. She had her suspicions, but this confirms it. Hot and heavy smexiness ensues and Mo and Cooper find themselves head over paws with each other. But of course something always has to stand in the way of true love and it's a series of brutal wolf attacks that throws a wrench in the cogs of romance. Cooper can't always remember what he does in wolf form and is afraid he might be responsible and doesn't want to put Mo in danger. Meanwhile the townsfolk are gearing up for a wolf hunt to keep the town safe. Now, throw in some conflict with the wolf pack Cooper walked away from and you have enough tension to keep you reading into the wee hours of the morning.

I thoroughly enjoyed this one. It was lighthearted and fun and best of all it had characters I really liked. Mo was a great heroine...smart, funny, vulnerable yet tough at the same time. Cooper, despite his initial snarliness was sexy and oh so alpha. Grundy, Alaska was a fun place to visit and I am definitely looking forward to reading the next installment...The Art of Seducing a Naked Werewolf.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: The Long Goodbye by Meghan O'Rourke

The Long Goodbye
By: Meghan O'Rourke
Published by: Riverhead
Publication date: April 14, 2011
Memoir, 320 pages

This week's WoW is a very personal one for me. My mom died 9 years ago, at the far too young age of 55 and that loss and its accompanying grief isn't really something any of my friends can truly relate to. The Long Goodbye is the author's story of losing HER mom and I'm expecting...needing...to find a little bit of myself and my feelings in its pages.

From Goodreads...

What does it mean to mourn today, in a culture that has largely set aside rituals that acknowledge grief? After her mother died of cancer at the age of fifty-five, Meghan O’Rourke found that nothing had prepared her for the intensity of her sorrow. In the first anguished days, she began to create a record of her interior life as a mourner, trying to capture the paradox of grief-its monumental agony and microscopic intimacies-an endeavor that ultimately bloomed into a profound look at how caring for her mother during her illness changed and strengthened their bond.

O’Rourke’s story is one of a life gone off the rails, of how watching her mother’s illness-and separating from her husband-left her fundamentally altered. But it is also one of resilience, as she observes her family persevere even in the face of immeasurable loss.

With lyricism and unswerving candor, The Long Goodbye conveys the fleeting moments of joy that make up a life, and the way memory can lead us out of the jagged darkness of loss. Effortlessly blending research and reflection, the personal and the universal, it is not only an exceptional memoir, but a necessary one.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

It's Been a Year!


I can't believe it, but it's been a year since I started Vampires and Tofu! And let me tell you, it's been an AWESOME year. I love reading. I always have. And I love being a part of this book blogging community that shares that love. I have talked to so many wonderful people as a result of this blog and I want you all to know how much I appreciate you for reading what I write, for sharing your opinions with me and for always being so warm and kind to me. I also thank all my fellow bloggers for all the work you put into your own blogs and for inspiring me with all you do. And of course thanks to all the wonderful authors who have written the books I have fallen in love with.

Thank you all so much for coming along for the awesome ride that my first year of blogging has been!


image source

Monday, April 4, 2011

Review Repost: Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey

Jasper Jones
By: Craig Silvey
Published by: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication date: April 5, 2011
YA, 320 pages


I was lucky enough to get to read this one last year and since it is releasing here tomorrow, I thought I would repost my review of it because it was wonderful and definitely worth a read!!

From Goodreads...

Late on a hot summer night in 1965, Charlie Bucktin, a precocious and bookish boy of thirteen, is startled by an urgent knock on the window of his sleep-out. His visitor is Jasper Jones, an outcast in the regional mining town of Corrigan. Rebellious, mixed-race and solitary, Jasper is a distant figure of danger and intrigue for Charlie. So when Jasper begs for his help, Charlie eagerly steals into the night by his side, terribly afraid but desperate to impress. Jasper takes him to his secret glade in the bush, and it's here that Charlie bears witness to Jasper's horrible discovery. With his secret like a brick in his belly, Charlie is pushed and pulled by a town closing in on itself in fear and suspicion as he locks horns with his tempestuous mother; falls nervously in love and battles to keep a lid on his zealous best friend, Jeffrey Lu. And in vainly attempting to restore the parts that have been shaken loose, Charlie learns to discern the truth from the myth, and why white lies creep like a curse. In the simmering summer where everything changes, Charlie learns why the truth of things is so hard to know, and even harder to hold in his heart.

There have been many books I have thought of as 5 star books for various reasons...they were fun to read, they were entertaining, the descriptions were vivid and they played like a movie in my head. And then there are those magical books that come along only ever once in awhile that make you realize you need a 6 star rating system because they just shine above and beyond.

That's Jasper Jones.

The story is told by Charlie, who gets a surprise visit from Jasper Jones one night and becomes involved in a terrible mystery that affects the whole town they live in. It's also Charlie's coming of age story, his journey from the relative safety of childhood to realizing the world isn't always a pretty place. Cruelty isn't just confined to the schoolyard, it happens out there in the real world too.

Silvey is a master of dialogue, the voices of Charlie and Jasper and Jeffrey Lu (Charlie's best friend and all around AWESOME, I ADORED him) are SO incredibly vivid. Each has a distinct personality and sense of humor (and oh my, there were some real laugh out loud moments in this book.) I felt like I KNEW these guys and I genuinely cared for each one. But this was so much more than a telling of what was said or what was done. We get to hear that voice in Charlie's head...the one that wonders why and asks the big questions and then lets us know what he thinks. And we get to nod our heads and say, "Yes, yes Charlie, that's EXACTLY how it is." His observations on the world we live in are spot on.

Not to mention his opinion on Batman, which is nothing short of brilliant.


Jasper Jones is, quite simply, beautifully written. It is the kind of book you feel grateful for after closing its pages. And a little sad when it's over because you hate to say goodbye.