Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Review: Hourglass by Myra McEntire

Hourglass (Hourglass, #1)Title: Hourglass
Author: Myra McEntire
Source/Format: Purchased; ebook
More Details: Young Adult; Science Fiction
Publisher/Publication Date: Egmont USA; June 14, 2011


Synopsis from Goodreads...

One hour to rewrite the past…

For seventeen-year-old Emerson Cole, life is about seeing what isn't there: swooning Southern Belles; soldiers long forgotten; a haunting jazz trio that vanishes in an instant. Plagued by phantoms since her parents' death, she just wants the apparitions to stop so she can be normal. She's tried everything, but the visions keep coming back. So when her well-meaning brother brings in a consultant from a secretive organization called the Hourglass, Emerson's willing to try one last cure. But meeting Michael Weaver may not only change her future, it may also change her past. Who is this dark, mysterious, sympathetic guy, barely older than Emerson herself, who seems to believe every crazy word she says? Why does an electric charge seem to run through the room whenever he's around? And why is he so insistent that he needs her help to prevent a death that never should've happened?
The synopsis says “One hour to rewrite the past…” and that pretty much sums up the point of the book in one perfect six word sentence. Let me get into that a bit…

Recently, I was in the mood for something more paranormal than fantasy, which is why I picked up Hourglass by Myra McEntire. What I got was a hefty dose of time travel and related theories. This book leaned more towards science fiction, and that was perfectly fine even if that wasn’t what I was exactly looking for. Don’t get me wrong though, the book wasn’t a bad one. In fact, I actually really liked it.

Emerson Cole was a pretty strong narrator. The book was written in first person, thus it was her story. I liked the descriptions and the dialogue between the characters. For the most part, I liked Emerson as a character, even when Michael Weaver showed up on the scene. I didn’t mind his character for the most part; however, I have one complaint. From there, the middle section of story kind of turned into this sort of tug-a-war thing between Michael and Emerson. One pet peeve of mine is when characters withhold vital information for reasons just…well, because. It’s vital for a reason! And that same sort of situation temporarily popped up in Hourglass. However, Hourglass has some really neat twists going for it, ones that I wasn’t expecting, and that’s good writing in my book. What happened wasn’t what I thought would go down, and the last handful of chapters were, in my opinion, the best part of Hourglass.

The setting wasn’t really anything different. It had a small town vibe to it, but it was interesting how McEntire used it to develop the abilities of the characters and set up plausible situations where these things could happen. All in all, a very interesting take on time travel.

Hourglass was a very good opening to the series. Currently, I don’t have any more of the books, but I would be interested in other works by Myra McEntire.

Monday, October 10, 2016

ARC Review: Cloudwish by Fiona Wood

CloudwishTitle: Cloudwish
Author: Fiona Wood
Source/Format: The NOVL; Paperback ARC
More Details: Young Adult; Contemporary
Publisher/Publication Date: Poppy; October 18, 2016

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

For Vân Uoc, fantasies fall into two categories: nourishing or pointless. Daydreaming about attending her own art opening? Nourishing. Daydreaming about Billy Gardiner, star of the rowing team who doesn't even know she's alive? Pointless. So Vân Uoc tries to stick to her reality--keeping a low profile as a scholarship student at her prestigious Melbourne private school, managing her mother's PTSD from a traumatic emigration from Vietnam, and admiring Billy from afar. Until she makes a wish that inexplicably--possibly magically--comes true. Billy actually notices her. In fact, he seems to genuinely like her. But as they try to fit each other into their very different lives, Vân Uoc can't help but wonder why Billy has suddenly fallen for her. Is it the magic of first love, or is it magic from a well-timed wish that will eventually, inevitably, come to an end?
After reading the synopsis for Cloudwish by Fiona Wood, I decided to give it a fair chance. I read it, and it was an okay read. This book certainly had its strengths and weakness—elements that I liked, and others that were just sort of meh. So, yeah, I had some mixed feelings about it.

Cloudwish was about Vân Uoc and how she makes a wish for her crush to notice her. Sounds fine, right? Well, the idea itself wasn’t bad, and there were so many ways that kind of concept could have gone. And, for the most part, the plot was okay. The story wasn’t bad. The writing was fine and the pacing was good, but I did have some problems with it.

One thing I didn’t like was Billy Gardiner’s character. The way he behaved just sort of left a bad taste in my mouth, and at some points I wondered what it was about him that Vân Uoc found so appealing. He was described as being something along the lines of model-worthy handsome, an outstanding athlete, and smart. But he was also kind of a jerk. There was character growth, but in my eyes, it didn’t really redeem him much. There were also some parts that seemed a little stereotypical in terms of expectations and family/home life for Vân Uoc.

What I did like was Vân Uoc’s skepticism about Billy’s sudden attention. There was something refreshing about seeing her resist his advances—especially when they were otherwise without good reason—rather than just give in and accept her sudden unexplained stroke of luck. There wasn’t much of a magical aspect to it, but I did like the wish part. It was simple, nothing flashy about it, but still nice. Plus, Vân Uoc’s friends were interesting, and I especially enjoyed the scenes when they were present.

So, Cloudwish wasn't all bad. I haven’t read anything else by Fiona Wood so there is a possibility that I would consider giving another one of her novels a try, only if it seems like something of interest to me.
This copy of the book was provided by The Novl (Newsletter; Publisher) for this review, thank you!
About the author...

Fiona Wood is the author of young adult novels, Six Impossible Things and Wildlife. Her third book,Cloudwish, will be published in the US in October. Before writing YA fiction, Fiona worked as a television scriptwriter for twelve years, writing everything from soap, and one-hour adult drama, to children’s drama. Prior to this she dropped out of law and completed an arts degree, both at Melbourne University, worked in marketing and in arts management, did some freelance journalism, and studied screenwriting at RMIT. She has served as a judge for the AWGIE Awards (Australian Writers’ Guild) and is an ambassador for The Stella Prize Schools Program. She has two YA children, and lives in Melbourne with her husband...

Friday, October 7, 2016

The Friday 56 (79) Grand Forks by Marilyn Hagerty

The Friday 56 is a weekly meme hosted by Freda's Voice where every Friday you pick a book and turn to page 56 or 56%, and select a sentence or a few, as long as it's not a spoiler. For the full rules, visit the the page HERE
Synopsis from Goodreads...

17383970A legendary 86-year-old food critic brings together a collection of the best down-home, no-nonsense restaurant reviews-from Red Lobster to Le Bernadin-culled from her fifty year career...

Writing for her local North Dakota newspaper, the Grand Forks Herald since 1957, Marilyn Hagerty went from obscurity to overnight sensation in 2012 when her earnest, admiring review of a local Olive Garden went viral. Among the denizens of the food world-obsessive gastronomes who celebrate Alice Waters and Michael Pollan, revere all things artisanal, and have made kale salad a staple on upscale urban menus-Hagerty's review ignited a fiery debate over the state of American culture. Anthony Bourdain defended Hagerty as an authentic voice of the larger American culture-one that is not dictated by the biases of the food snobbery that define the coasts. In this refreshing, unpretentious collection that includes more than 200 reviews culled from a voluminous archive spanning over fifty years, Hagerty reveals how most Americans experience the pleasure of eating out...
"It's different, all right. It's alive."--Grand Forks by Marilyn Hagerty
Comments: When I fist saw Grand Forks, I thought it would be kind of interesting to read.I like how its just a collection of various restaurant reviews. I started this book earlier in the week and finished it yesterday afternoon. It was pretty great.

What are you reading this week?

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Review: Burning Emerald by Jamie Reed

Burning Emerald (The Cambion Chronicles, #2)Title: Burning Emerald
Author: Jamie Reed
Source/Format: Purchased; Paperback
More Details: Young Adult; Paranormal
Publisher/Publication Date: Dafina; May 29, 2012

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

Dating the most popular guy in school is every girl's fantasy. But to Samara Marshall, he's a dangerous force come to rekindle their tangled past. Only it's not her past. Samara faces a challenging senior year. Controlling her inner demon is a struggle, even with help from her Cambion boyfriend, Caleb. But her life takes a turn for the worse when the hottest jock in school begins pursuing her--especially since Malik's anything but what he seems. They share a connection from a forgotten past--a secret that could destroy her and Caleb. As the attraction becomes harder to resist, Samara is now at the mercy of the demon within her. To break free, Sam must fight a battle where she is the enemy and the prize...and victory will come at a deadly price...
The Cambion Chronicles is one of my all-time favorite paranormal series, yet, oddly enough, I never got around to getting the second book. However, all that has changed. I have finally read the second book, Burning Emerald, and I’ve been thoroughly reminded why I love this series so much.

The plot picks up after the end of Living Violet, and Samara must deal with the drastic changes in her life. Really, Burning Emerald had a lot going for it, with character and story development that I initially missed. This is just one of those series that kind of requires a full read, or else pieces will be missing. So even though I loved the third book, reading Burning Emerald added a lot of context and clarity to what ultimately ended up happening. So, if you ever read this series, don’t do like I did. Don’t skip the second book; go straight through from start to finish.

Also, the writing in this series is just one of my favorite styles. Reed knows what she’s doing, and expertly applied her skills where they were necessary. Samara’s perspective was unique, to say the least.

Reed knows how to write and develop characters. I think that’s one of the reasons why I keep coming back to this series. Samara Marshall is one of my favorite characters for a number of reasons—her resilience, personality, and individuality. Plus, her relationship with her boyfriend, Caleb, is just awesome. I loved their individual moments, but I also enjoyed the scenes they shared together. Samara’s friends and parents were my favorites of the secondary characters. I especially loved how involved Samara’s parents were in her life.

Burning Emerald answered a lot of questions for me, and I am glad that I finally got a copy. After all, finishing The Cambion Chronicles was long overdue on my end.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Musing Mondays (63) Where Do You Buy Books?

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme hosted by Jenn at Books and a Beat, that asks you to muse about something book related each week.

My musings for the week...

Random Weekly Question: What is your worst habit as a reader?

I have never actually thought about this before. I mean, what defines  a bad reading habit anyway? I guess, for example, my post on common/uncommon fictional hobbies. So, going along those lines, habits considered to be bad or good is totally subjective and dependent on the person being asked.

I guess, my worst habit would be that I dog ear the pages of my books. However, that's not actually a bad thing. I've noticed that the more dog eared pages = how much I've liked and enjoyed a certain book. Basically, I bookmark all my favorite scenes.

Other musings...

I took an impromptu beak last week. Well, I’m back, and oh man, it’s officially October. Only 28 days left until Halloween, hooray. Sorry, I do love summer, but I also love Halloween stuff too. Plus, the weather is finally starting to cool down a bit, which is great. So, goodbye summer, see you next year!

Anyway, to start out this week, I want to talk about where I get the books that I review on Our Thoughts Precisely. This probably won’t be the longest post ever, but I did want to talk about this eventually.

I enter giveaways, so I've won some of the books. I’m not that big on ARCs, and I usually only request the ones I really want. And even then, that’s pretty few and far in between. So, a lot of the books that get reviewed are ones that I already own—purchased before I started blogging, or I just bought them and let them collect dust on my shelf. For that reason, I have been reading a lot of backlist books this year. And it’s been great to finally make a dent in the books I own, but haven’t read. I primarily buy books from Barnes & Noble or the Book Depository. For Barnes & Noble, I like to go to the store, especially when I have a coupon.

Another place I buy books is actually the dollar store. Yes, the dollar store. It’s only recently that I’ve started looking there for some of the older books I want. I’ve found a few that have been on my list for a long time, and the second book of a trilogy I wanted to finish.

This next one is pretty self-explanatory: the library. Alright then, moving on.

I also get books from Blogging For Books. I actually like how they’ve set up the request system. And they’re my go-to place for finding random books that I may have overlooked, never heard of, or are nonfiction.

So, that’s pretty much it. Those are all of the places that I get books from. I do need to get back into going to my local library again. So, that’s what I’m hoping to do this month. So, what are your favorite places to buy books? Or, what are you looking forward to this October?
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