In Paperback: The Memory of After by Lenore Appelhans

The Memory of After by Lenore Appelhans

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, September 3, 2013

Originally Read: I read The Memory of After when it was called Level 2. The paperback version of the book received a makeover with a brand new title and cover.

New Cover or Old? I really like the new cover and new title, but I really liked the old cover. The Memory of After is a more intriguing title than Level 2, so I approve that change.

Level Two by Lenore Appelhans

What I Thought Then:  From my thoughts on Level 2  “Felicia Ward has the makings of a classic heroine, her young life is a balance of happy memories that are later tempered by difficult moments with her family (her relationship with her mother in particular) and the painful consequences of mistakes she has made with them and in her friendships. Her strength is in the light and the dark that shapes her and makes her a character whose growth and choices you want to see. ”

Now, On Further Reflection: The more I think back about this book , the more I like how Felicia is a balanced mix as a character. She has had a difficult life but she also treasure the good that could be found. She also has a variety of emotions and feelings about her experiences – angry, questioning, strong, vulnerable – never just one thing. Also, while The Memory of After is the first in a series of books, there is a closure here, if you choose not continue with the series. But you should! I got a sneak peek and it’s good.

Book Club Pick? I think it would be pretty hard not to find something to talk about – the afterlife and what it’s like, how Felicia feels about her death, her relationship with her parents, the boy she is intrigued with, the boy she loves. Go ahead, take your pick.

Links

Out of Twenty: Lenore Appelhans, Author of Level 2, Answers Eleven Questions
Lenore’s Author Video
My Thoughts on Level 2
Presenting Lenore (Lenore’s Blog)

1DA652C2516038AE4D02F55645591F39 Bring Up The Bodies by Hilary Mantel, Simon Vance (Narrator)  Audiobook Review

In Paperback: Noughties by Ben Masters & Giveaway

Noughties by Ben Masters

Hogarth, May 14, 2013

Originally Read: I read Noughties at the end of 2012, near the time that it was out in hard cover. I read it in e-book format.

New Cover or Old? I really like the new cover compared to the one I saw when I was reading the book. It looks a lot like several of the scenes described in the novel, which take place over a night of partying. It’s appropriate for having read the novel, but I don’t think I would pick it up based on the cover alone.

What I Thought Then: Only years of reading and watching British novels and television could have prepared me to understand Noughties as much as I did, and it still took care in reading to not miss anything. It’s definitely an immersion in British idioms and slang. It’s also the quintessential coming of age story, taking place in bars, pubs, and clubs during Eliot Lamb’s last day at Oxford college where flashbacks tell us about his history, college days, and the mysterious relationship his had with a girl from back home, Lucy.

I think I enjoyed Noughties for many of the reasons I’ve seen  it widely criticized.  It’s pretentious, the characters are self absorbed and unlikable (mainly Eliot), it takes itself much too seriously, etc. I can see all of that, but it also made sense to me when squared with the fact that the main character is a young man with class issues and overcompensates with his new friends at school and also his friends back home. He is a fish out of water trying to make the most of being accepted by people he admires but whom he feels he need to prove himself to, as well. He also thinks he’s too smart, lacks insight, is a horny young male and basically messes up, as you do when you’re 20. It was a confusing read at times, but I generally enjoyed examining this perspective.

Now, On Further Reflection: I enjoyed this one, but it’s also a book that lends itself to being recommended to readers with specific tastes. If I had time to actually re-read things, I would love to see if I would like it as much a second time around.

Book Club Pick? Noughties is one of those polarizing books that would work well in a book club provided that everyone in the club reads it. There are characters and situations to be dissected, and you will definitely love or hate some of them. Interesting observations are made about class, relationships, and fitting in, plus you can always compare your college experience to that of Eliot and his friends.

Good Luck!

A Rafflecopter Giveaway!

1DA652C2516038AE4D02F55645591F39 Bring Up The Bodies by Hilary Mantel, Simon Vance (Narrator)  Audiobook Review

In Paperback: Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness

Shadow of Night by Deborah HarknessPenguin Books, May 28, 2013

Originally Read: I read this when it came out last summer. Basically the minute it came out!

New Cover or Old? To my eye the cover didn’t change, but I can’t be sure. Sometimes little things are changed that you don’t see right off the bat. I like that the cover plays on the mysticism of the book and has a city view on the cover.

What I Thought Then: Shadow of Night had really big shoes to fill because I loved A Discovery of Witches so much, but I did enjoy going back in time and getting to meet Matthew’s family and friends, seeing  him in a world that was his own, and experiencing how he and Diana fared as a couple around his family. There were also surprises for them in the relationship, and readers get to see how differently Diana and Matthew view commitment. History buffs have the opportunity to see Kit Marlowe at work- he’s one of Matthew’s devoted admirers, and Diana and Matthew’s search for a witch who can help them understand their powers put them in some tight spots and up against seedy characters. There was a bit of meandering off the path in this one, some parts that felt slow, and some story lines that felt extraneous but Harkness’s rich detail and historical grounding preserved enough of the original elements that made this such a worthy mystery and romance.

Now, On Further Reflection: Though I didn’t love the sequel as much as the second book, it’s still quite good. It’s one that I would like to reread now that I have settled into the stories and characters more. My appetite for the third book is still strong.

Book Club Pick? It depends on whether your club has read the first book in the series. This is not one where I would recommend reading as a stand alone, but if you have, then go for it. Matthew and Diana are in a different time period and it would be an interesting discussion to delve into how he is different in Tudor England than he is in the present. That time difference can play with a relationship quite a bit.

Giveaway: I have one finished copy to giveaway to a reader with a US address. If you’re interested in receiving the book and six specially designed series buttons, please fill out this brief form. I will pick a winner at random on Tuesday, June 18. Your email address will be discarded if you do not win. I do not share or retain any personal information. No purchase necessary and void where prohibited. Only selected winner(s) will be contacted by email. Thanks and good luck!

1DA652C2516038AE4D02F55645591F39 Bring Up The Bodies by Hilary Mantel, Simon Vance (Narrator)  Audiobook Review

In Paperback: The Story of X by A.J. Malloy

The Story of X by A.J. MalloyWilliam Morrow Paperbacks, April 2, 2013

Originally Reviewed: I didn’t. It’s a paperback original.

New Cover or Old? So far this is the only cover. I’m a little indifferent about it.

From the Publisher: Shy American student Alexandra Beckmann—‘X’ to her friends—arrives in Naples desperate for adventures beyond the sheltered life she has led. She is there to study the Camorra, an infamous Italian crime organization. But in the sun-soaked, ancient city streets, her research leads her to a man like no one else she has ever met. Irresistibly handsome, Lord Marcus Roscarrick is an Italian aristocrat with a mysterious past. Yet, underneath his refined exterior, X senses a man who is well-acquainted with danger.

Soon they begin a passionate affair, and X is drawn into Roscarrick’s world—a world she never dreamed existed. But as she falls ever more deeply under Roscarrick’s spell, X must decide whether she dares to submit entirely to this shadowy realm of dark desire.

What I Thought: The subtitle of this is “An Erotic Tale”, so there is that, and that part got a little old after awhile. I did a bit of speed reading through all the sexy times. The interesting thing about The Story of X is  the research that Alexandra does into the Mafia and the effect that it had on Italian culture as it shaped their neighborhoods. That part was well-written, informative and lovely, even while the rest of the book followed the tropes of the genre complete with a college age heroine, and troubled hero who resists love to protect potential partners from his emotional damage. There was enough here that I enjoyed the light (mostly) and quick read. As Alexandra become more involved with Rosscarick she discovers that he is involved in a super steamy secret society, complete with all the accompanying sexual rites and rituals. So, you’ve been warned.

Book Club Pick? If your book club was into 50 Shades of Grey, why not?

1DA652C2516038AE4D02F55645591F39 Bring Up The Bodies by Hilary Mantel, Simon Vance (Narrator)  Audiobook Review

In Paperback: A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash

A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley CashWilliam Morrow Paperbacks, January 22, 2013

Originally Reviewed: I listened on audio and read the hardcover of this book in the fall of last year, and both were a treat.

New Cover or Old? There is something about the hardcover that holds a bit more menace or foreboding. The paperbackA Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash - Hardcover blurb would have give me pause because I don’t think I would like it if Cormac McCarthy rewrote To Kill A Mockingbird, and I’m not even sure that’s what I would call this. If I happened upon both of these in a store I would likely go for the hardcover, but having read it, I highly recommend reading it in whatever form suits your fancy. I do like the blue and the trees in the paperback, though.

What I Thought Then: A Land More Kind Than Home was an amazing read & listen. Debut novelist Wiley Cash tells the story of Jess Hall, a young boy growing up in a North Carolina town where religion and preachers are a very big deal. The town and its people are heavily under the influence of the creepy preacher, Carson Chambliss, whose origins are a mystery. Jess spends most of his spare time hanging with his friends, and in the company of his developmentally challenged brother, Christopher – a.k.a Stump. Jess and his brother witness something they aren’t supposed to see and as the story goes, nothing is ever the same. The story is told in the three alternating perspectives of Jess, Adelaide Lyle (a former midwife) and the town’s Sheriff, Clem Barefield. The dialogue and accents are pitch perfect, the prose is beautifully rendered, and the suspense is like something I have rarely read. I was so worried for these boys and what would happen in this town!

Cash lucked out with his narrators – Lorna Raver, Nick Sullivan, and Mark Bramhall. Mark Bramhall gives an especially distinguished performance. If ever a character showed up on an audio, he does it as Clem Barefield.

Now, On Further Reflection: Months after finishing it, A Land More Kind Than Home has stayed with me. It’s a novel about many things, loneliness, religion and faith, small town life, and people who have been unable to escape their pasts and choices, Most surprisingly, and lastingly, it’s about forgiveness. I still marvel at the way Cash steered readers down that path. I didn’t see it coming.

Book Club Pick? Definitely! One of the most interesting things about life is that you never know how who you meet or what you are doing will change your life. It could be anything, and an unlucky combination of events that can change your life. With A Land More Kind Than Home there are countless ways that this story could have started, and pinpointing the significance of personalities, actions and events would be a great place to start a discussion.

1DA652C2516038AE4D02F55645591F39 In Paperback: The Invisible Ones by Stef Penney

In Paperback: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Cinder by Marissa MeyerSquare Fish, January 3, 2013

Originally Reviewed: Cinder by Marissa Meyer (January 26, 2012)

New Cover or Old? Cinder’s sexy metal leg graces the cover again. Love the red slipper!

What I Thought Then: Cinder is a quick and engaging read that mixes the Cinderella fairytale with a future dystopian world filled with the threat of poverty, disease, and alien invasion.

Now, On Further Reflection: This is the first book of a quartet, and sometimes interest can wane in the time it takes for the next book to come out. That’s not the case here. I am looking forward to seeing what happens with Cinder, and the introduction of new character, Scarlet, for whom the book is named.

Book Club Pick? I think one of the most interesting things to explore here is the way the author chooses to update this very old story. Which elements stay the same? And which ideas and fears have morphed into something new. I would also be curious to see what changes other readers would have made, and if they agree with Meyer’s choices.

1DA652C2516038AE4D02F55645591F39 In Paperback: The Invisible Ones by Stef Penney

In Paperback: The Invisible Ones by Stef Penney

The Invisible Ones by Stef Penney Paberback Cover

Berkley Trade, December 4, 2012

Originally Reviewed: The Invisible Ones by Stef Penney (February 29, 2012)

New Cover or Old? I dig the spiffy red cover with the flower.

What I Thought Then: Penney has a lovely and thorough writing style that is delightful to see in a mystery. I think I was overwhelmed by some of the detail and then underwhelmed by the quick wrap-up.

Now, On Further Reflection: I’m struck the amount of loneliness experienced by almost all the characters, from the detective to the victim and perpetrator of the crime. I still think about the young narrator and his attempts to fit in when his family is so different.

Book Club Pick? There are quite a few twists and turns in this one, so it is fun to discuss who figured out what when, and if any of it even makes sense. Themes of loneliness, relationships and fidelity , and the good of the individual versus the group are prominent throughout. The novel heavily features the Romany/Gypsy lifestyle and renders a fascinating portrait of a culture usually shrouded in mystery.

1DA652C2516038AE4D02F55645591F39 The Childs Child by Barbara Vine   Book Review