Heartless, by Anne Elisabeth Stengl

31 Aug
heartless cover

Isn't this cover beautiful?

“Then the heat came.  It began the same as it had the night before, and with it came sudden remembrance of the dream she had forgotten.  The two faces–one black, one white, one ice, and one fire…Her mother’s ring on her finger tightened and her hands throbbed with burning.”

I just read a book that I couldn’t wait to share with everyone.  In fact, I was surprised that this book wasn’t swept up by the media in the way of Twilight.  Heartless, by Anne Elisabeth Stengl, started slowly.  We are introduced to Princess Una, her brother Prince Felix, and the kingdom of Parumvir.  It’s fairy tale kingdom, complete with an enchanted forest, mysterious pet, and magical bazaar.  The story drifts slowly along until about the halfway point, when things just take off (on dragon wings?). 

After conducting some research, I learned that this is classified as Christian Fiction, and the author is often criticized for so many allegories (hidden meaning or moral).  Whelp, the allegory was lost on me!  I read it as a fairy tale, occasionally simplistic and a bit over the top.  Many reviewers called it Christian Fiction and mentioned allegory without ever explaining what that meant.  When I really love a book, I don’t really like reading many other reviews, because I want to feel solitary in that book’s world, so I’ve decided to stick with my conclusion that the overall themes were about love, devotion and the fact that no one is perfect.  This is hardly a hidden meaning. 

Often, all readers are looking for is a good story.  This one is a great story.  I can see why it drew some criticism, but I wish more people were aware of this “sleeper novel” and enjoyed it the way that I did, without consciousness of hidden morals.  I really did love this book (five stars!) and look forward to more Tales of Goldstone Wood.


Book Blogger Hop

26 Aug

Book Blogger Hop

I’m so glad to be participating once again in the Book Blogger Hop!  You can learn all about it, and this week’s question here

“Non book related this week!  Do you have any pets?”

Easy-peasy question!  I am the proud owner of Roland!  (Think “May you find your Tower, Roland, and breach it, and may you climb to the top!”) Ro is a two year old cairn terrier, which is like Toto from Wizard of Oz.  I adopted him through Col. Potter’s Cairn Terrier Rescue Network.  He was not quite a year old, and came to me from a puppy mill.  He had a bit of baggage, but we’re working through it, and I can’t imagine life without him!

Check out these pictures.  You can also see him featured on the Cairn Rescue blog’s Wacky Wednesday.

This is his first day with me. See those scared eyes? Please, educate yourself about Puppy Mills.

Roland dressed as a "Gunslinger"

Roland's sweet face

Five Best Books: Mystery/Thriller Genre

24 Aug

I’m keeping up the momentum by joining IndieHoustonReader’s weekly five best books meme.  This week’s topic is the five best in the genre of your choice.  My mind goes straight to dystopian literature, but I know I’ve done it before.  So I added some variety and this is my mystery/thriller list!


1) The Stand, by Stephen King:  See what I did there? Haha! I promise this is the only overlapping choice I’ll make.  I’m going to keep the Stephen King raves down to two books.  This huge novel is epic!  I felt like I was there, in this world that was just like my own world but not quite. I was always at the edge of my seat.

2) Red Dragon, by Thomas Harris: This is my favorite of the Hannibal Lector novels, although I also really liked Hannibal.  I blame the movies.  I was able to read this novel way before the movie came out, and it’s separated enough from Silence of the Lambs that I didn’t keep comparing characters.  I like Jack Crawford better than Jodi Foster.

3) Angels and Demons, by Dan Brown: I like this book more than The Davinci Code. The concept of anti-matter was very interesting, and there was a clicking clock that kept the adrenaline pumping all the time!  The big reveal at the end is fantastic, as far as I’m concerned.

4) The Green Mile, by Stephen King: Why this particular book, you ask?  I think that this book had the most aspects of mystery in it.  There were lots of questions, and unlike many of his works, Stevie actually answers most of them by the end of the story.

5) Fear Nothing, by Dean Koontz: I feel a bit guilty posting this in my list, because I had to do a lot of research to remember it.  I don’t 100% even remember what happened in the end.  I’m going to have to re-read it.  There is also a second book with main character Christopher Snow and his unusually intelligent dog.  It’s the characters that made this memorable and got it on my five best list!

Sidenote: I tried reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and couldn’t get into it at all!  I feel like I’m the only person in the world who didn’t like it.

Summer Catch Up

23 Aug

I am very disappointed in myself for neglecting my blog.  I love writing this blog, love reading, and love sharing what I’ve read with others.  Still, life got the best of me and I just…stopped.

To kick-start my return as a blook bogger, I’ve decided to post a brief paragraph about each book I’ve read since I vanished.

Enchantment, by Orson Scott Card
nchantment, by Orson Scott Card

This is a very intelligent book!  I love novels that take fairy tales and adapt them (I’m very slowly writing my own version), and that is what this book does.  However, this pulls from Russian and Jewish folklore as well as the original versions of fairy tales.  I had to stop reading a few times and look up the stories that Card seems to expect me to already know.  Thank goodness for Wikipedia!  Because I wasn’t smart enough, this was a slow read.  There’s magic, romance, philosophy, history, and action.  When I got to the romance and action, I zoomed through it.  I’m very glad I read this book because it gave legitimacy to the genres that I enjoy.  It’s smart and fun, and it made me think!

Full Dark, No Stars, by Stephen King

Book Cover

Since it’s King’s newest book, I read this collection of novellas.  I’ve read all of his novels, but only randomly choose to read the short stories and novels.  I don’t really know how to describe my impression of the stories in Full Dark, No Stars.  If I said that it’s darker than his usual stuff, someone would undoubtedly point out that this is the guy who once wrote about a guy committing suicide by sticking his hand down a garbage disposal (Firestarter, I think?  I can’t get that image out of my mind!).  This is more realistically dark.  Rape, murder and relationships gone wrong are common themes.  There are still supernatural aspects, and I enjoyed the whole book.  To me, the title is very fitting and it reveals another facet of Stephen King’s world.

book coverMarry the Man Today, by Linda Needham

Of course there are romantic paperbacks on this list!  I just finished this book, and as historical romance goes, I’m usually not much of a critic.  So imagine my surprise when I realized that this book just didn’t do it for me.  The characters fell flat, the drama was always lacking something, and there didn’t seem to be any passion between heroine Elizabeth and Earl Blackstone.  There were cutesy moments but nothing much more than that.  I’ll be seeking out some new romance novels soon to make up for the disappointment!

Hush, Hush, by Becca Fitzpatrick

9 Jun


"I'd fallen apart in his arms. I'd melted like butter. Right before I told him he should go, I was pretty sure I'd made a sound that was a cross between a sigh of sheer bliss and a moan of ecstasy."

Here’s my story with this book.  I was in a car at the tail end of a long road trip.  Sitting in the passenger seat without access to a new book, I started downloading sample chapters on my Kindle app.  I read the beginnings of several books because it was free entertainment.  Then, I read the free sample of Hush, Hush and really wanted to keep going with it.  This is the first book I’ve opted to purchase and read completely on my tiny iPhone screen.  I read it in a day and a half; it was an easy and fun read.  I’m very curious about what will happen next in this series.

So I should be raving about it, right?  Well, I’m pretty torn.  I actually recently promised myself that I would be less wishy-washy in my reviews.  It’s like sometimes I’m afraid to admit if I loved a book or if I hated it.  It’s too bad, though, that I then promptly chose to read this young adult novel about teenage romance with a fallen angel.  It’s truly putting to the test my new resolve to improve my posts.

While reading, I debated putting together a list of all reasons that this was a knockoff of Twilight.  There are a ton of them!  Take away a vampire and put in a fallen angel and you’ve got the romance premise in Fitzpatrick’s novel.  I also kept running into situations that had me asking myself if I missed something.  The main character, Nora, often drew random conclusions that didn’t make sense.  I had to forgive a lot of issues with the plot.

There’s a lot to criticize in Hush, Hush.  Yet, I was very drawn into the story.  The bottom line is that I enjoyed the way bad boy Patch strutted his stuff and arrogantly pursued Nora.  He’s an enigma, strong and self-assured.  It’s the kind of guilty pleasure that I can read quickly and enjoy, despite the many reasons it’s just plain not good.

My decision is to give it two stars.  Readable, with many flaws.  Still, I won’t be embarrassed to admit that I’ll be reading the rest of this series in the future.  The amount of fun makes up for the issues it has!


Five Best Books that Take Place During a War

6 Jun

Cassandra at Indie Reader Houston hosts a weekly “Best Five” list.  This week’s theme, Books that Take Place During a War, threw me for a loop at first.  But I’m excited to sort out my thoughts and create my list!  You should check out her blog, and the top five lists.  They’re very fun!

I don’t  often read historical fiction.  War stories aren’t of much interest to me.  However, I found a way to make this list work for me!

1) The Diary of Anne Frank is the very first book that came to mind.  When I read this book in high school, I was taken by the fact that Anne’s life didn’t revolve around the war.  The book was literally about a young girl’s life, not about a war.  That’s what made it so impactful.

2) The Keep, by F. Paul Wilson is a fictional book about Nazis and vampires.  When an SS squad take over a castle, something starts hunting them down, one by one.  The only person who can help them is a Jewish man.  It’s an intriguing premise, very creepy, and vampires kill Nazis.

3) Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell, isn’t a book I really enjoyed.  Still, it’s epic, and I love that it has a Southern perspective of the Civil War.

4)Number the Stars, by Lois Lowry, is another gem set during World War II.  It seems as though, of the war books that I do read, I lean toward World War II.  This book reminds me a bit of Anne Frank’s diary, except a fictional read.

5) I’m going to cheat with the last one and choose World War Z, by Max Brooks.  This is a very interesting book about a futuristic war against zombies.  It’s written as though the author interviewed various survivors of the war to create a documentary.

The Lace Reader, by Brunonia Barry

3 Jun

“I turned my head toward the wall and stared at the trees.  For weeks I stared.  I stared at them as the leaves finally fell away and they revealed their lacy black branches underneath.  I looked for Jack in the web of lace.  He wasn’t there.  I looked for Lyndley, too, but she was nowhere.”

Cover for The Lace Reader

The Lace Reader begins with an introduction to Towner Whitney.  She admits right away that she’s a liar and she’s crazy.  She doesn’t seem crazy, though.  Definitely confused, and a little odd.  But Towner has been through a lot.  Her twin sister Lyndley, committed suicide fifteen years ago, and she was admitted to a mental institution shortly after the event.

Towner talks about a pillow used to make lace. It probably looked something like this. (found at http://dianelaces.wordpress.com)

When we meet Towner, she receives word that Eva, a grandmother-like great aunt, has died.  Towner has to face her hometown of Salem, Massachusetts, for the first time since the tragedy.  Although she prepared for a quick trip for a funeral before returning home to San Diego, Towner faces unfinished business, mystery, and a little bit of romance.

The Whitney family is mysterious, unique, and full
fascinating characters.  The characters overall were the best part of this novel.  I loved trying to figure them out, distinguishing everyone’s quirks and their histories.  Author Brunonia Barry meticulously wrote this book interspersed with details that hint at the truth as the reader attempts to solve the multiple mysteries in Salem.

The near downfall of this novel is in the clunky way that the story changes perspective.  I have no problem with a change in point of view, and it works for the telling of this story.  I just wish it had been done more smoothly.  Towner is the narrator until about the twelfth chapter, and then it suddenly switches taking me completely by surprise.  I wish that this concept had been introduced earlier on.  It also would have helped if it at least stayed in first-person.  It felt strange to have things narrated by Towner, and then be in third-person but from someone else’s perspective.

Overall, the story was amazing!  At first, I hesitated to give it such an incredibly high recommendation.  But now, days later, I find myself desiring to read it again, looking more deeply into the lace and uncovering even more of its secrets.  As someone who seldom re-reads, I have to rate this one Five Stars!

Book Blogger Hop: Book-to-Movie

27 May

Book Blogger Hop


“What book-to-movie adaption have you most liked?
Which have you disliked?”

I almost didn’t answer this week’s question because it’s so much like the list I just made.  Then I realized that this was an  opportunity to expand on my list.  Since posting, I’ve had a number of conversations that pointed out some possibly overlooked movies.  This way, I can add them 🙂

Gone with the Wind is a movie that I absolutely adore!  The book, however, was a tough one.  I hated it.  I think that Scarlett is endearing in the movie, but was horrible in the book.  I’m so glad they made that movie!

So that falls under most liked (movie) and disliked (book).

I promise, I’ll put this topic to rest for a while!

Five Best Books Made into a Movie

25 May
Click to learn more

Click to Learn More

I’m very excited to participate in this meme created by Cassandra at Indie Reader Houston.  Each week, there is a new topic, and I’ll be making a Top Five list.  This week’s list: Five Best Books Made into a Movie

1) Bridget Jones’s Diary, by Helen Fielding I wanted to start things out with a movie that I absolutely loved!  I actually wasn’t a huge fan of the book; it seemed a little strange to me.  Of course, I read the book after falling in love with the movie and I know that makes a big difference.  Still, great for the Top Five.  A decent book and an awesome movie!

2) Bridge to Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson My first ever favorite book, I’ve read this more times than I can count.  The movie was cute, but misses the point completely.  Paterson is so good at describing the way the characters feel, and creating world that feels magical amidst a child’s lonely background.  It’s on the list because of the book, not because of the movie.

3) The Green Mile, by Stephen King I have to include Steve King on my list.  I’m a huge fan of all of his writing, and he has a ton of movies out!  To stay true to the list, I chose one that was based on his book (versus a novella) and was excellent in its own right. 

4)The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins Yes, this isn’t actually a movie yet.  Still, I’m looking forward to this movie and have been following the casting since it was announced.  The things that make the books so great can’t be translated to the big screen, but I’m hoping to see my favorite characters and the vivid settings illustrated beautifully!

5) The Princess Bride, by William Goldman  Who doesn’t love this cult classic movie?  And this is a book that is just as lovable for different reasons.  I feel like this is a great ending to the top five because the book and the movie share the spotlight together so well! 

Honorable Mentions
I would like to make a shoutout to two books that don’t qualify for this list.

  • The Dark Tower Series, by Stephen King I’ve been closely following the proposed movie/series adaptation of these books.  I love this series, and would love to see it in a movie (if done correctly).  However,I have my doubts that it will actually happen, especially with news like this
  • Why won’t anyone make a movie about The Amber Chronicles, by Roger Zelzany?  I fell in love with this world when I was in college, and there is so much potential for making a movie.  There isn’t even a Sci Fi mini series.  I wish someone would make this happen!

Book Blogger Hop

21 May

Book Blogger Hop

“If you were given the chance to spend one day in a fictional world (from a book), which book would it be from and what would that place be?”

Well, I have to give a shout-out to Stars Hallow, Connecticut, of Gilmore Girls fame.  This fictional town is 100% the place I would like to be.  Small, friendly town where everyone knows everyone else and you can even laugh at the people who take themselves too seriously.  I’d move there in a heartbeat.  Admittedly, that’s cheating.

As a book blogger, there are many places I’ve envisioned myself living.  The two that I would love to visit for a day are The Fading Lands, from CL Wilson’s Tairen Soul Series, or Melissa Mayhue’s world from Daughters of the Glen, where Mortals, Faeries, and Highlanders collide.  Basically, I feel like our world could use a little more magic–and soul mates!