The Author on the Web:
The Illustrator on the Web:
Tod Harris – Official Site
Tod Harris – Blog
Tod Harris – Twitter
The Author on the Web:
The Illustrator on the Web:
Tod Harris – Official Site
Tod Harris – Blog
Tod Harris – Twitter
Place(s) Traveled to: Raven Rock, California // Yosemite National Park, California // The Loneliest Road in America // Eureka, Nevada // Delta, Utah // Colorado Springs, Colorado // Wichita, Kansas // Fairfield, Missouri // Louisville, Kentucky // Memphis, Tennessee // Asheville, North Carolina // Richmond, Virginia // Philadelphia, Pennsylvania // Connecticut
First Line: I sat on the front steps if my house and watched the beige Subaru station wagon swing too quickly around the cul-du-sac.
I LOVED LOVED LOVED this book!
For a long time now I’ve really wanted to take a road trip across the country but I just haven’t had the time to do it. Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour allowed me to take that trip and still remain firmly in boring old Massachusetts. It both satisfied my wanderlust but also fed my travel bug as well.
Amy and Roger meet for the first time in years (they were childhood friends) when Amy needs to get herself and the family car from California to Connecticut where she is moving to. The only catch is that Amy no longer drives – enter in Roger – who is being forced to spend the summer in Pennsylvania with his dad & stepmom.
At the start of the trip Amy and Roger are very stiff with each other as they are rebooting their friendship. But as they progress across the country you get to see them grow and get to know each other and this makes for a very heart-achy book. Morgan Matson did such a wonderful job with the way the emotions flowed in this book. It was gradual and real and as a listener you find yourself routing for Amy & Roger to become more than friends because you can see that there is something special there. If they just let go of their baggage and open themselves up to something new.
I really liked how Amy and Roger decided to chuck Amy’s mothers pre-planned trip and just go where the road led them. It was was healing trip for them both as they faced memories of their past which then allows them to move forward. It also allowed us a reader to get to know them both even though the book is told from Amy’s POV. I also liked the little flash backs that occurred throughout the novel where we learn about Amy’s demon’s and why she has an aversion with driving. Her past isn’t some big reveal and its pretty obvious from the start what happens but its not so much about what happened as it is about how Amy remember’s what happened. And its through the remembering and the interactions she has with those she meets as she travels across America that help her get over the past.
As with many YA books parents are mostly absent throughout the book. First Roger’s mom just drops him off in front of Amy’s house. We only see her from a distance through Amy’s eyes and she gets no dialogue. I found it odd that she didn’t even say hello to Amy. Then there is Amy’s mom – who could be a royal b&@#h through most of the phone conversations that we saw her through. I couldn’t believe some of the things she said and did. I mean of her two children Amy is the one who was always miss goody two shoes. She was the model child. She got good grades and never got in trouble. The one time she does something radical her mother goes a bit crazy. And yet her brother was constantly doing something wrong and it took YEARS before he faced any consequences. So she was just a very frustrating character for me. With all that Amy was going through taking a few extra days to travel from her old life to her new one shouldn’t have been as big a deal as her mother made it into.
Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour is an excellent book to listen to in the car (if only I’d been able to listen to it on an epic road trip of my own!) If you haven’t checked this one out yet then do so now. It was amazing and I can’t wait to see what Morgan Matson writes next.About the Narrator:
I loved how Suzy Jackson narrated this book. She really brought Amy to life. She was very believable as a teenage girl and handled the male voices well. She even handled reading off the playlists well. The only thing I wished she had done differently was to try to find a way to articulate the pictures and drawings that were in the physical book. I think that those aspects add to the story and so there was just something missing in the audio since there is no way for the listener to know that they were there.
Place(s) Traveled to: The Kingdom of Xia (based on ancient China) // Jian
First Line: Chen Yong was already on board the ship.
If I had only one word to describe Cindy Pon’s Fury of the Phoenix it would be love. I loved this book. I wasn’t sure what to expect from it initially as Cindy kept saying how different it was from Silver Phoenix. I was a little worried at this at first because I really loved how Silver Phoenix was told. But from the moment I started Fury of the Phoenix I knew my fears where unfounded as this book not only met my expectations but exceeded them. Fury is different as it has two central stories to it there is the present journey of Chen Yong and Ai Ling to country Jian and there is the story that takes place in the past with Zhong Ye and Silver Phoenix.That’s right the villain of the first book is back and OMG so very different then he was before. In Silver Phoenix, Zhong Ye is this evil magician who believes that Ai Ling is his lost love – the reincarnated Silver Phoenix. In Fury, you get to learn the origins of the love between Zhong Ye and Silver Phoenix and let me tell you its a beautiful story. When Fury first started to travel into the past I thought Zhong Ye? He is evil there is no way that I could like him. There’s no way that I could like these bits of the book that are about him. How dare Cindy take time away from Chen Yong and Ai Ling for him!
But readers…I was wrong. So very wrong. I loved every moment with Zhong Ye and Silver Phoenix as I did with Chen Yong and Ai Ling. In fact I became so engrossed in each segment that I hated hated hated when Cindy would move back to the other couple. There was several times when I literally asked my book…”we’re moving on already? But…but….no!!” Each story is so engrossing that I could live in them forever and be quite content.
The tension between Chen Young and Ai Ling is palpable and they remain two of my favorite book characters. Ai Ling is a strong, intelligent heroine and Chen Yong accepts that she’ll never be a traditional girl. While sometimes her independents does go against his protective grain he still supports her and helps her become more than she was before. Just as Ai Ling does with Chen Yong. With Zhong Ye and Silver Phoenix’s story there really isn’t much tension. Their story is slower and more like Spring breeze in that its gentle and all about beginnings and growth. Chen Yong and Ai Ling try to deny their attraction, but necessity’s sake they have to pretend they are brother and sister and so they are each like polar ends of a magnet that are pushing against each other. So their story isn’t as calm but it still has the sense of expectation to it.
And now I’ve reached the part in the review where I am just a rambling babbling mess trying so hard to find all the right words to convey my love for this book. To try to find the right phrase that will make you want to rush out and buy this book. But there really are no words as there are just so many thoughts running amuck in my head. Just know that Cindy Pon is an amazing writer with a real gift for prose. She has a way of weaving a world around you that you think that you are in the Kingdom of Xia as the real world just fades away as you read her words. There is action and adventure and fantasy and romance and just a little bit of everything that I love to see in a book. My brain was engaged and there were plenty of heart achy moments to keep me turning pages. This is one that I highly recommend…so go get it, read it and then come back here and tell me what you thought.
Related Posts: Cindy’s Top 10 YA Fantasy List
Place(s) Traveled to: The Kingdom of Xia (based on ancient China)
First Line: The eunuchs said the windows were ceiling height to allow the concubines their privacy, but Jin Lian knew it was also a way to keep them trapped.
I first heard about Silver Phoenix on Twitter right before it was released but even if I hadn’t I’d have instantly been drawn to the cover in stores. The cover on the hardcover is absolutely GORGEOUS and I bought it the day it was released. I had every intention of reading it shortly thereafter as well but fates conspired against me and it sat on my shelf, neglected, along with so many others. Then recently on Twitter I was struggling through a book and saying how I’d need something really good to read afterwards. I don’t recall the exact way things feel out but in the end PoseySessions was betting me $5 if I could finish Silver Phoenix up by the end of the weekend. (This all happened on a Thursday I believe.) Not one to walk away from a challenge I accepted. I then despaired that I would do it as it took until Saturday to finish the book I was reading and I had a family even more of that day.
I despaired about being able to finish as the beginning of Silver Phoenix was a little slow. The prologue had me a bit confused (I’m slow sometimes) as I was immediately thrust into this foreign world. From there we jump forward 19 years (or so) and I have to readjust on what I think I know. In Chapter 1, we meet Ai Ling the heroine who is being sent off to potential betrothal meetings as all good Chinese girls in this time are destined for marriage and a life behind walls. But Ai Ling’s family is tainted with a bit of scandal and she is a bit too tall and she struggles to fulfill her duty and remains unwed. When her father disappears, Ai Ling does a very brave and unusual thing and decides to set off in search of him. It helps that Ai Ling isn’t your ordinary girl but she has special gifts that she’s only just begun to understand.
From the moment Ai Ling leaves the sheltered walls of her home the book really pick up in pace. It becomes this action packed roller coaster and I found it hard to catch my breath. Around every corner there is peril and beasties that are trying to kill Ai Ling. Some of who might have succeeded if it wasn’t for Chen Yong and his brother Li Rong. I LOVED the interaction between Chen Yong and Li Rong as well as that between Li Rong and Ai Ling. Li Rong is witty and fun and just makes a person laugh. Which is great because Chen Yong is just way to serious for his own good. Granted he has his reasons for holding himself aloof from the world but there is just this naturalness about Li Rong that makes you instantly like him. Based on characters alone Silver Phoenix was a win.
But even great characters need a good plot and Silver Phoenix has that in spades. Its a bit supernatural and a bit mystery with wonderful undertones of friendship mixed with a dash of romantic tension. I became so invested in this story that I lost track of the world around me and essentially devoured this book in just a few hours. This is such a rarity for me these days as I’m easily distracted by modern technology and the telly. Ai Ling is such a strong character and she kept facing all these creatures that I couldn’t stop turning pages to learn why it all was. Throughout the book Pon leaves little breadcrumbs and hints as to what is to come but never enough to make the story predictable. Can you guess the outcome of the book, yes, or at least I could for the most part. But Silver Phoenix isn’t really about the how it ends but the journey to get there.
I have to admit my readings of books based in China (even loosely as this one is) so I don’t know a ton about the rituals and culture. Cindy Pon does a great job of weaving in all the histories and expectations of the time without bogging the story down in details. So you can learn without realizing that you are learning something. I loved the history and how Pon wove in the various myths and legends from the east in a really seamless way. While reading the book it all felt real and I was able to push reality aside and imagine myself in Ai Ling’s world. Although one tradition I’m glad Pon didn’t explore was footbinding….ouch! I read one book (Snow Flower and the Secret Fan) a few years back that had long descriptions of the process and my feet STILL ache.
My one regret is that it took me so long to read Silver Phoenix. Although a small part of me is glad because now I have only a short time to wait until its sequel, Fury of the Phoenix, is available. I am DYING to get my hands on this book. I need more of Ai Ling and Chen Yong as I did not like how Pon left things at the end of Silver Phoenix. Not that it was a bad ending, because it wasn’t. It was a very good ending and perfect for the story. But for me it wasn’t enough. I wasn’t ready to leave their story so I am glad that it will be continuing on in another book. You can be sure that as soon as I get my hands on a copy that I will be reading it! Just as I strongly suggest for all of you to run out and grab a copy of Silver Phoenix and read it. Its well worth the time especially for all of you out there who love mythological based stories. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with this one. I know I wasn’t.
Place(s) Traveled to: Snope City, Tennessee // New York, New York (2010, 1920s) // Rome, Italy (2010, 1920s)
First Line: Haven was back.
Related Posts: Fragment Friday
Eternal Ones Series Order
Book 1 – The Eternal Ones
Book 2 – All You Desire
Book 3 – No Plans (Talked to publicist and no plans at this time to continue the series)
When I first began to read the books that Penguin dubbed as Breathless Reads I put a call out onto Twitter to see which order I should them, The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller was the one everyone said should come last. After reading the four other books (Across the Universe, Nightshade, The Replacement & Matched) and not falling head over heels in love with them I was worried about The Eternal Ones. There was a part of me that said don’t read it but the other part of me that was determined to read them all before a book signing was louder. For which I am glad that it was because in the end I really ended up liking The Eternal Ones.For me it was the best book of the current Breathless Reads. The Eternal Ones isn’t like any other book that I’ve read. I really loved the whole reincarnation aspect of it and learning about Constance and Ethan through Haven’s memories. The story was fast paced and believable and the times that I find myself rolling my eyes or shouting at the book where kept to a minimum. I will admit that Haven’s flip-slopping attitude towards Iain did get annoying. One moment she was head of heels in love then some stranger would say something against him and she’d be all ‘Oh no I can’t trust you.’ *sighs* There there was the whole Adam thing, which for me, was a bit much and kind of out there. But I was able to move past those parts and allow myself to enjoy the story. Based on my recent reads you know that this means a lot.
The Eternal Ones isn’t a book for everyone, this story is more of a straight romance with a wee bit of mystery mixed in. There are no vampires or werewolves or any other paranormal creature and I found that to be very refreshing. The idea of reincarnation as set up in The Eternal Ones is believable and I loved the idea that why you might instantly connect with some people over others is because you knew them in a past life and your souls recognize each other. While reading the The Eternal Ones, I loved hearing the snippets of Haven’s past incarnations. Although the main focus was on her previous life, when she was Constance, and I would have liked to see more of those other lives. Yet, at the same time, I feel that this book was pretty well wrapped up at the end. I don’t see where a sequel will go. The ends were tied up, there was a HEA and most importantly, there was an EPILOGUE.
To me, an epilogue means done, there is no more. So I am a little disappointed that there will be 2 more books in the series. There is something to be said for leaving the reader wanting more and I fear that the next books will only hurt the overall story by dragging things out.I liked this book. I will recommend it to others. I loved Haven and Iain and Haven’s gay friend Beau (he was the snarky sidekick). I thought that Haven’s grandmother was evil (as all good rich, old monied, opinionated southern grandma’s should be) and her mother could have done with more of a backbone. Though Haven seemed to have more than enough for her and her mother both. While most of me is against the idea of a sequel there is that small part of me that hopes to see all those these characters again. Although I can deal without the reincarnations of convenience – everyone seemed to know everyone else in their past and present lives and it just hurt my head a little that everyone kept bumping into each other like that. Though I am aware that it was needed for the story and there really wasn’t another way to do it.
I will also try to reserve my opinion on any potential sequels until I read one myself. But I am not sure that I can walk into it with an open mind. My brain is just all jaded like that. It won’t be the first time and it won’t be the last. Sometimes I am proven right and I have my “AHA!! I knew it moment!” and just as often I am proven wrong and am pleasantly surprised. Either way be on the look out for my thoughts sometime in August or there abouts as that is when All You Desire is released in stores.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
As said this is a powerful story about what it means to be an immigrant. Many in America are descendants from people just like the man in the story. People who pack a bag and leave everything they know behind in the hopes for a better life. But its not the ‘story’ that make this book. Its the amazing and so very detailed drawings. As said there are no words. The colors are all muted sepia tones for the most part…and yet they are all so vivid. I spent hours lingering over each page absorbing every detail. This is a book that I highly recommend to people of all ages.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
The second story is called The Bittersweet Summer and in it Owly meets two hummingbirds who he manages to become friends with. However, hummingbirds are delicate creatures and can’t survive the coming winter. This is a story about learning how to say goodbye to someone that you care about. I enjoyed this book and look forward to the rest of the series.
Publisher: Ballantine Books (paperback); Books On Tape (Audio)
Publication Year: 2005 (paperback); 2004 (audio)
ISBN: 0345460065 (paperback); 1415903794 (audio)
Audio: 10 discs (appx 12 hours)
Narrated by: Paul Michael
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars
Initially Miles Lord, a lawyer from Atlanta, is tasked with finding support for the favored candidate to the throne. But during his research he stumbles upon some long lost papers of Tsarina Alexandria that sets him off on a quest to find the missing Romanov children. He is joined on his quest by Akilina Petrov a Russian acrobat who is sympathetic to his struggle. Together they race across Russia and the United States in search of the Romanov’s all the while dodging bullets from those high in Russian Government who don’t want the heirs of Nicolas II to be found.
I found this story to be a bit implausible (and not just because the bodies Alexi and Anastasia/Marie were discovered in 2007). This book starts off with an attempt on Lord’s life, an attempt that he miraculously escapes and I initially thought that I’d stumbled upon a really great conspiracy book. However, the evidence he found, was a minor tidbit and one that Lord probably would have dismissed if it hadn’t been for assassination attempt. The introduction of Akilina, the token companion and potential love interest, only served to get on my nevers. Why must there be a token woman/love interest in books like this? I know its to attract female readers, but seriously if you write a good story women will read it. We don’t need a love story andle for a good book…and sometimes that angle can kill a story…at least it can for me.
This story had a lot of build up to it and I enjoyed learning some more about Russia and Russian history. However, the repitian of those facts I could have done without. I heard you the first Mr Berry no need to over-repeat. I also thought that the ending was a little rushed and Berry really backs himself into a corner with it. So what does he do? He just uses the age ol’ trick of ingnoring the stickiness he created and fastwards things to give a pretty glossy ending. I hate when authors do that. Just adds to the un-reality of it all. Although I must say in his glossy ending he did give a small description to how Lord and Akelina got of their sticky situation…but because it was a glossy ending he did gloss over the details a bit.
Listening to this on audio I have to give props to the narrator to land the Russian accent, it can be a tough one, and he managed to distinguish between the many Russian characters well. His southern accents however could have used some work as they all tended to blend together.
Overall though, despite all my complaints, this wasn’t a bad book. It had an interesting premise and despite its flaws it held my attention. Steve Berry is an author that I will probably look more into as I do enjoy a good conspiracy mystery and from the descriptions of other books he’s written that seems to be his plot of choice.
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Farworld: Water Keep is the first book in a planned five book series which revolves around Marcus, a crippled orphan who dreams of a world where he can walk and do magic and where the trees and animals can talk. A world in which he isn’t all that much different than everyone else. So you can imagine it comes as a huge shock when one day a huge snake-like creature tries to kill him but before the worst happens he finds himself in his imaginary world….only its not as imaginary as he thought. Farworld is a real place and exits in parallel to Earth and he and a girl Kyja are the keys to maintain the balance of both worlds.
I thought that this book started off a little slow. I started it in June and would read it in bits. Then I moved and was forced to take a hiatus from the book (it got swept up in the packing and took awhile to find again). When I did locate it I started to read it again and found that once Marcus and Kyja connected and started on their journey that the story really picked up. I became engrossed in their story and found myself rapidly turning the pages to see what happens next. When I hit the end I let out a cry of frustration because I wasn’t ready for the story to end.
There is a little bit of everything in this novel there is a detailed and well thought out plot. There are well drawn and well defined characters that range the spectrum from good to evil. The people are all fleshed out nicely and have depth and flaws and all the right traights to make them less like characters and more like real people. As first books in a series goes this one was a real winner. It sets the tone for the main story arc that will span all five books and around that are several other mini-story arcs that are woven nicely around it. Savage also managed to pack in a lot of background information without bogging down the story in details. He gave just enough here and there for everything to flow nicely without interruption.
Farworld is a book that is filled with adventure that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Mystery to keep you guessing and lessons about life. Its about accepting yourself for who your are and what you can do….even if you are different from those around you. And even with all the positive feel good messages it never ones feels preachy. Instead all the books lessons are woven nicely into the tale that you barely realise you are being taught something until its too late. (I was gonna quote something from the book here but of course I can’t find the book. I think that my house ghost Simon might have borrowed it to read….or he’s just being all playful again. So be sure to check back…as this wee section might change a bit.)
If you like fantasy fiction then I strongly recommend this book. I predict that this book will be a huge hit and you don’t want to miss it!
Now can someone please point me in the direction of a time machine so I can get my hands on book 2?