Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Book Review: The Forever Contract by Avery Sawyer

How would you like to  live in a world where everyone is thirsty?  There is hardly any water and electricity.  To make up for the lack of water inhabitants are given gel packs.  They don't really get rid of the thirst, but they help keep everyone alive.  And the electricity?  Everyone is given an allotted amount a month.  Most people save their electricity to power their screens.

What are these screens and what is so important that people would rather use their electricity for them than for such things as air conditioning and heating?

Casey and her family have the option of leaving the dystopian society they live in for one full of lush green grass, food, and most importantly water.  But, doing so they pay a price.  They become not themselves, but an avatar, a computer generated program living in a computer generated world.  Sounds wonderful to get rid of the pain and the thirst of the real world.  When one reaches the age of seventeen they are allowed to sign a contract to enter the world.  Most do.  Casey's parents did not and will wait until Casey signs before they go in to live with her and her older brother who has already left for that world.

The screens are their way of contacting those on the inside.  They're not called computers but they function very much like the ones we have today.  They're everywhere--hand held and all rooms of the house.  They're not glued to them so much as they have become their only way of communication, especially to the utopian world they can escape to.

Casey is unsure if she will sign the forever contract to move into this world.  She's always dreamed of going but the distrust of her boyfriend James causes her to hesitate and find out what that world is really about.

This novella written by Avery Sawyer deals with this dystopian society.  I do think it's creative the two worlds she has created, but the story itself seems lacking.  It does not go into as much detail as I would have appreciated.  I think there is enough detail to take this from a novella to a full-fledged novel and that if was that I probably would have appreciated it more.

The ending feels very dues ex machina.  How are Casey and James going to get answers and punishment for what they have done which I will not share here so I don't spoil the story if you plan to read it?  The answer given is such an easy out, like the author has run out of ideas to come up with a true ending.  There's so much that could be there that isn't.

I give the novella two stars for it is a very promising story, but it promises much  more than it delivers.

I read this as review request using the Kindle app on my laptop.  All opinions are my own.  I was not compensated for this review in any way.

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Most Anticipated Books for 2013

1. Book 3 in the Divergent Series by Veronica Roth
2. Whatever Beverly Lewis is working on (could it be book 3 in the Home to Hickory Hollow series?)
3. The Offering by Angela Hunt
4. Jennifer: An O'Malley Love Story by Dee Henderson

There are actually only 5 books I can think of.  There are tons of books I want to read,  but just four that I know of (and really it's three since I don't know what Beverly Lewis is going to bring us next) will be released next year.

Book Review: Divergent (Divergent #1) by Veronica Roth

I finally got around to reading this wonderfully dystopian novel.  Winner of the 2011 GoodReads Choice Award for Favorite Book.

 In the dystopia surrounding Chicago, society is divided up into five factions based on what the members value most: Abnegation--selflessness, Amity--peacefulness, Candor--honesty, Dauntless--bravery, and Erudite--intelligence.  On Choosing Day all sixteen year olds are to choose which faction they belong with and will spend the rest of their lives.  Most do pick the faction of their youth, the one they were born and raised with their family, but there are a few who select another.  Before this day comes the selectors take a test to see where they best fit.  The result is just a suggestion.

This story is set around one sixteen year old from Abnegation: Beatrice Prior.  She and her brother, Caleb, have to make the daunting decision of where to spend the rest of their lives.  Raised in the Abnegation faction if they choose another they could very well be separated from the family forever.  It's no secret certain factions do not get along and some parents feel it is a betrayal when the child chooses another faction.

After choosing her faction, Beatrice "changes" her name to Tris and works to fit in with the new members of her faction undergoing stringent tests and trials to prove they belong.  All members have to prove they can put faction above family, first and foremost.

Tris does hold a secret, a secret that if any of the higher ups found out could get her killed.  It's also a secret that is saving her life.

The story did remind a lot of The Hunger Games with the separation of the people and such but is very different.  All dystopian novels and series are not the same.  I'm really finding that with the reading of this book that I do have a taste for dystopian novels.  I didn't think they'd be very interesting as they seem very fantasy, but I do believe I was wrong.

Yes, there was a lot of hype surrounding this book and it's sequel (as well as the unreleased third novel) and as it always does the hype made me nervous.  Was it popular because certain people were reading it or it was marked as the next Hunger Games?  People are always looking for the next big thing and when searching they are quick to label anything as the next.  They weren't wrong in this case.  Not totally.  I'm not sure if it really deserves to be as big as The Hunger Games, but it's a really good story. I'm anxious to read Insurgent, to find what's going to happen next.  That's a good way to find out if a book is worth it.  Does it keep the reader wanting more?  I want more.

I read this for pure pleasure.  All opinions are my own.  I was not compensated for this review in any way.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.  Anyone can playing along!  Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page
  • Be careful not to include spoilers! (make sure that what you share doesn't give too much away!  You don't want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teasers.

  • She recalled all too well the time she'd stepped in a cow pie in Papa's barn--the squishy, smelly manure was still vivid in her mind.  She'd smelled it for days afterward, even though she took long bubble baths each night to wash away the stench.
    P. 115 The Fiddler (Home to Hickory Hollow #1) by Beverly Lewis

    Book Review: Elevating Overman by Bruce Ferber

    Ira Overman receives laser eye surgery and his whole life changes.  He and his sort-of-best friend Jake Rosenfarb think Overman has become some kind of superhero.  Things are going Overman's way.  He's becoming a better person and able to correct past wrongs not just for himself, but for others as well.  He has received a second chance.

    It was an interesting story.  None of the characters were likeable and I still felt this sense of depression, dread, or something along those lines with Overman even though he was experiencing his second chance. In some places he makes great use of his second chance and others he throws it away almost as if he doesn't believe things can get better.  In the end, he gets his ultimate second chance and he does do right there.

    For me, it was an okay story.  It wasn't bad, but it wasn't great, and that's why I give it just three stars.

    The author, Bruce Ferber, is an award winning comedy writer and producer for such shows as Bosom Buddies, Growing Pains, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Coach, and Home Improvement.  Knowing this made me more interested in reading the story as he has been part of some shows that I've enjoyed over the years.

    I read this as a review request using the Kindle app on my laptop.  All opinions are my own.  I was not compensated for this review in any way.

    Wednesday, November 21, 2012

    Book Review: Twelve Months by Steven Manchester

    What would you do if you knew you only had twelve months to live?

    This is the question Don DiMarco faces when he gets the news he has terminal cancer with a predicted only twelve months left to his life.  Don creates a list of all the things he wants to do, things he wants to accomplish in his life, and sets out to complete them.  More importantly, he makes sure to make lasting memories with his wife, children, and grandchildren.

    Don doesn't dwell on the fact that he's dying.  It's with him every day in the form of pain getting stronger and stronger.  He doesn't let that stop him.  He lives his life to the best he can.  He gives his family all the love he can.

    I enjoyed the adventures Don went on as he wanted to accomplish the final things in his life.  One trip was to Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte, NC.  I'm not a NASCAR fan, but I did live in Charlotte, and living there it is hard to get away from NASCAR news.  I loved reading the description of Lowe's Motor Speedway and the area.  It brought me back to a place I used to live.

    This is the trip of a man with twelve months left in his life.  It's not about death.  It's about living and loving.  It's truly a wonderful story that should not be passed up.

    I read this book as a review request using the Kindle app on my laptop.  All opinions are my own.  I was not compensated for this review in any way.

    Monday, November 19, 2012

    Top Ten Tuesday

    Hosted by The Broke and The Bookish

    Top Ten Books/Authors I'm Thankful For

    1. Harry Potter Series
    I'm thankful this series brought my sister and me closer.  It came at a time when we were fighting constantly and falling apart.  Harry Potter is something we have in common and in our toughest times we bonded over it.

    2. Ann M. Martin
    I'm thankful she's written so many wonderful books including The Baby-Sitters Club.  My childhood was filled with reading her works.  The Baby-Sitters Club is what really fueled my passion for reading.  I thank her for writing.

    3. Beverly Lewis
    Thank you, Beverly Lewis, for writing such wonderful stories that keep me entertained.  She is one of my favorite Christian writers.  She started the Amish fiction category which I'm now checking out other authors in. I thank her for being creative and writing about a topic no one else was really covering at the time.

    4. Angela Hunt
    I'm thankful for the books she's written that have opened my eyes.  Her stories like The Debt have taught me more about practicing my religion than any non-fiction book has aside from The Bible, of course.  She's fabulous and I'm thankful she's out there sharing her work with us.

    5. Judy Blume
    Thank you, Judy Blume, for your wonderful children's fiction.  Thank you for covering controversial topics in such non-controversial ways that a conservative girl like me doesn't feel uncomfortable reading them.

    6. Louisa May Alcott
    I'm thankful Louisa May Alcott had the passion and talent to write.  I'm thankful she didn't just write one story on the March girls, but let us explore more than just their lives in Little Women.  Thank you for sharing more stories with us on other characters as well.  

    7. Safely Home by Randy Alcorn
    I'm thankful I read this book.  It's an eye-opener, not just to how Christianity is really treated in China, but how blind we are to the real world.  We see what others want us to see.  What we see is not always the truth.  We may we have it bad, but until we walk in someone's shoes we have no idea.  We think we know but we do not know.

    8. A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks
    I'm thankful for the movie and the book.  I'm thankful for the message.  I'm thankful for a writer that is from North Carolina writing about places I am familiar with.  

    9. William Shakespeare
    Many students are probably not thankful they have to read and dissect his work in school, but I am thankful for reading some of his works.  I'm thankful they're out there so others can make adaptations.  It's not just about his work, but what his work has done to the artistic world.

    10. The Bible
    How many ways can I say thank You?  Thank You, Lord Jesus.  Thank You, God.  Thank You for this book that teaches us how to be Christians, how to live our lives, and how to love You.  Thank You for the words that reassure us when things go wrong.  Thank You for the words that wrap around us, hug us, keep us warm, and let us know You are here.  Thank You so very much more than any words I can write.

    Saturday, November 17, 2012


    I'm back.  I'm alive.  I'm still here.  What you've seen from me this past week, I think, is one post I had  scheduled already.  Last weekend I baby-sat my niece who was getting over a stomach bug.  Needless to  say, I caught it.  I was in bed all Sunday and had a small relapse on Tuesday.  This past week I've been  zapped of energy and will to get anything done.  I've only been doing the absolutely necessary stuff  because it's absolutely necessary.  I haven't even worked on my NaNo.  I was gunning for 75,000 but I'll  be lucky to get 50,000 now.  Sigh.  I haven't worked on it since last Saturday.  I haven't even looked at it  since then.  I'm feeling much better, almost 100%, but not quite.  Things will start getting back to normal  around here, hopefully.

    Sadly, this means I've  missed my one year anniversary, which was Thursday Nov. 15.  :( I was going to  prepare a giveaway, but I was unable.  I will get a belated celebration together shortly.

    Tuesday, November 6, 2012

    Top Ten Tuesday


    Hosted by The Broke and The Bookish

    Top Ten Tuesday Freebie: Pick My Own Category.
    Top Ten Christian Fiction

    1. Safely Home by Randy Alcorn
    This book touched me in so many ways.  It's about Christianity in China.  What we see is not what really goes on.  It's a work of fiction, but it contains a lot of truth.

    2. Covenant Child by Terri Blackstock
    An allegory for Jesus's love for his children, a beautiful piece of literature.

    3. Restoration Series by Terri Blackstock
    I haven't finished this series, one book left, but already it's pretty high on my list for not just Christian fiction, but fiction in general.  In a sense, I guess you could say it's a Christian Dystopian Series.  I think we all know the dystopian part is temporary.  But, I haven't read the conclusion so I don't really know how the world ends up.

    4. Sisterchicks Series by Robin Jones Gunn
    Each story can be read on it's own.  The connection is they're all sisterchicks.  What is a sisterchick?  A friend who shares the deepest wonders of your heart, loves you like a sister, and provides a reality check when you're being a brat.  (www.squidoo.com/sisterchicks)  Each book is a trip to a new place, London, the Netherlands, Paris, Hawaii, Venice, New Zealand, and Finland.  

    5. O'Malley Series by Dee Henderson
    Suspense, romance, and Christianity wrapped into one. This series has it all. It's about orphans all grown up.  They were never adopted so they formed their own family and created their own surname--O'Malley. Each one has a highly suspenseful job that creates the main plot for each story. I found each book to be predictable but still a joy to read.

    6. Coming Home to Brewster Series by Roxanne Henke
    This series is about a bunch of women who live in Brewster, North Dakota. It's about finding God and finding out where your true home is. Roxanne Henke is a fabulous writer. If you like both Christian and women's literature this is definitely a series you don't want to miss. I'm just sad there's only five books in this series.

    7. The Awakening by Angela Hunt
    The main character suffers from agoraphobia which only increases when her mother dies leaving her alone in her apartment.  Can God and her new neighbor help set her free?

    8. The Debt by Angela Hunt
    This story has a powerful message.  We must not stay in our comfort zones.  We need to go where the needy are.  They're not going to come to us.  It will not be easy.  People may talk.  But, we need to do what we need to no matter what others think.

    9. Like Dandelion Dust by Karen Kingsbury
    This one was turned into a movie.  I haven't seen the movie.  Now that I've read the book I do want to see it.  A mother and father find out the adoption of their son was illegal.  Breaks a parent's heart.  What will they do to keep their son?  What will the law make them do?  Heart wrenching.

    10. Seasons of Grace Trilogy by Beverly Lewis
    The top writer of Amish Fiction.  All of her series are great, but I chose this one as I have rated it the highest.    With so many series under her belt how can she make one unique so the reader doesn't feel they are reading the same story over and over?  This one includes an adopted son who runs away, a mother with an injury, and a girl with a confused heart as well as a Prodigal Daughter.

    Monday, November 5, 2012

    Teaser Tuesday

    Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.  Anyone can playing along!  Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page
  • Be careful not to include spoilers! (make sure that what you share doesn't give too much away!  You don't want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teasers.

  • Putting God first elevated everything in my life.  I had sold out to Him, and He had given everything back, with greater success.
    Kindle Loc. 1769 Redemption: A Rebellious Spirit, a Praying Mother, and the Unlikely Path to Olympic Gold by Bryan Clay

    Book Review: The Witness by Dee Henderson

    Amanda Griffin witnessed a terrible crime. Ever since then she has been on the run, hiding her identity, hiding herself in hopes of being able to keep herself alive.  Police Chief Luke Granger meets Amanda as she is a witness to murders at her place of work.  Add to this her sisters coming into something that puts them in the media's eye causing threats to come their way.

    Another novel from Dee Henderson putting together suspense, romance, and Christianity. The suspense portion is divided into sections.  It comes and it goes.  I have read reviews of this book.  Some people think it's cliched or easy to figure out.  I do not agree.  I am one who thinks Henderson writes very predictable, but still fun to read stories and I don't think this one was predictable.  Well, all right, it was a little predictable--the romance portion, but I think the suspense part was not and that is the major plot.

    I do wish there was more to the ending.  It felt like there was more to tell, but Henderson chose to stop writing.  It's as if she was considering writing a sequel but never did.  I wouldn't mind if she did write one.

    Connor and Marsh are Granger's co-workers.  They were the only hitch in character development.  There were times when I would get them confused.  I understand the need for having the two of them but they really felt like one character split in half.  Besides that, the character development was superb.  The three sisters felt like three individual siblings rather than three parts of a whole.

    I read this book for pure pleasure.  All opinions are my own.  I was not compensated for this review in any way.

    Thursday, November 1, 2012

    Book Review: Ivy in the Shadows by Chris Woodworth

    Ivy lives a life of being ignored.  Her stepfather leaves the family with nothing meaning her mother has to find a way to make ends meet. To do so, she takes in a boarder, twelve-year-old Caleb, someone Ivy thinks is the weirdest kid she's ever met.  Also, Ivy's mother gets a job waitressing.  With her mother at her job, Ivy's five-year-old brother JJ in love with Caleb, and her best friend Ellen trying to become a part of the popular group, Ivy feels more alone than ever.

    Reading the story, I felt for Ivy.  She seemed like a normal pre-teen girl just trying to get through the tough years of her young life.  She didn't care to be anything special like her best friend.  She didn't want major attention.  She just didn't want to be lost in the shadows.  Who can blame her?

    The beginning threw me as it was unclear to the gender of Ivy.  Her name hadn't been mentioned although I should've gotten a clue from the title (I feel like a dunce that I didn't!) and the writing made me think she was a boy, but slowly, especially with the introduction of her name, I got the hint.  I read this book in ebook format so I didn't really have the cover to refer to like a hard copy.

    The story is told through Ivy's narration and that made it easier to relate.  We think Ivy.  We feel Ivy.  We understand Ivy.  That's the point of first-person point-of-view, but in many cases it doesn't come across.  I believe it did here.  But, even so, it still felt a tad shallow.  We didn't get too deep into Ivy or rather, we didn't get deep enough.  I feel that's part of Ivy's characteristic.  There's so much she doesn't let anyone, including the reader, know.

    The story teaches a lot.  To tell you what it teaches would be to spoil the story and I don't want to do to that.  To find out, read it.  I will say it does teach about friendship.

    I read this book as an Uncorrected Digital Galley from Netgalley using the Adobe Digital program on my laptop.  All opinions are my own.  I was not compensated for this review in any way.