Tuesday, April 16, 2013

My Ramblings on Leverage by Joshua C. Cohen

By: Joshua C. Cohen
Release Date: February 17, 2011
Author Website


The football field is a battlefield

There's an extraordinary price for victory at Oregrove High. It is paid on - and off - the football field. And it claims its victims without mercy - including the most innocent bystanders.

When a violent, steroid-infused, ever-escalating prank war has devastating consequences, an unlikely friendship between a talented but emotionally damaged fullback and a promising gymnast might hold the key to a school's salvation.

Told in alternating voices and with unapologetic truth, Leverage illuminates the fierce loyalty, flawed justice, and hard-won optimism of two young athletes.

My Ramblings:

I finished this book a few weeks ago and instead of reviewing it right away I wanted to sit on it, to think about it, and to really take the time to process it. I have a lot to say, but, to be honest I'm unsure how to say it, or even if I want to. Here's why: part of what this book have such an impact is that you are experiencing right along with the characters both the good and the bad in this world. I'm afraid that if I go too in depth, if I give too much away that I will also take away the impact of the story and that would be unfair. I know, I know, this book is 2 years old. why worry about spoilers at all? Well, because in this case I think it really could ruin the book for you. So I'm going to keep it broad. 

This book centers on two high school boys, Kurt a football player with demons lurking in his past and Danny, a gymnast who is faced with a world that at best doesn't respect him and at worst wants to hurt him. Laced into the story is violence, steroid abuse, corruption, bullying, people who do nothing when evil rears it's head and those that take a stand against it. When one of Danny's team mates is raped, Danny has to decide what to do next. Watching Danny struggle with this decision is heart breaking and terrifying. you want to say that these things don't really happen, that the author is exaggerating or ramping up the situation to create drama or tension. He's not though. As disgusting as some of the actions portrayed in the story are and as much as they make you want to close the book and find lighter fare, you know that somewhere this is actually happening to someone and it's heartbreaking. Think of Stuebenville (to reference a more recent case). Think of how children are abused by adults, think of how they abuse each other, and think about how, sometimes the bad guys get away with it. This book goes through all of that and allows you a glimpse into the minds of those who are stuck in the middle of the cycle and want desperately to get out. 

This is a great book. It wraps up just a little to neatly for me, but I imagine that after the last page turns, the ones who deserve it will get what's coming to them and those that were harmed will know that even though evil wins some of the smaller battles, eventually the right side wins out.

Friday, April 12, 2013

My Ramblings on The Cool Impossible by Eric Orton

The Cool Impossible By: Eric Orton
Release Date: May 7, 2013
Author WebsiteBook Provided By: NAL Hardcover

The truth is: Athleticism is awareness. That simple phrase is at the core of The Cool Impossible. Athleticism requires awareness of form and technique, awareness of our effort level, and, most important, awareness of what we think (and don’t think). And with that awareness comes the possibility of endless potential and improvement, progress and mastery—and, ultimately, achievement that you never before would have thought possible.   With a program focused on proper running form, strength development, and cardiovascular training, Orton will help first-step beginners, prime-time competitors, and enduring veterans reach the cool impossible”—the belief that any achievement, athletic or otherwise, is within our reach.

Inside you’ll find:  
* Foot strength exercises to catapult performance, combat injuries, and transform technique
* A total-body strength program aimed at creating an athletic running body
* Step-by-step run-form coaching for performance enhancement and lifelong healthy running
* A run-training program providing the building blocks for endurance, strength, and speed
* No-nonsense nutrition strategies for performance, health, and the ultimate running body
* Visualization and mind-training tactics to run and live the Cool Impossible
*And much more…  

Natural running is about so much more than barefoot running. It’s about the joy of running that we were all naturally born with and can reawaken. Like a favorite running companion, The Cool Impossible will be there with you, stride for stride and mile for mile, helping you go farther than you ever could have on your own.

My Ramblings:

*This isn't a real review. Well, it is. It's just not all here. Check out the teaser below and then head over to From the Page from the Princess to see the whole review* 

Words. Seriously. So many words. In some ways this was an easy book to review, in others it was very, very difficult. Why? Because I was all in from the first page. Frankly, I was all in before I even opened it up. Back in January I reviewed Born to Run by Chris McDougall and I was hooked. I had already started to look into minimalist running and was starting to transition over to Vibrams, so that book reinforced what I was already thinking. I was also already working on Good Form Running, which I'm now imparting to the No Boundries runners at Fleet Feet as a coach in their 5k program. This book takes it one step further. The author, Eric Orton, is the man who coached McDougall to his first Copper Canyon Ultra-Marathon and in this book he imparts his wisdom and techniques for getting you, the reader, the same type of results. 

If you'd like to check out all of my thoughts on The Cool Impossible, head over to From the Page to the Princess!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

My Ramblings on The Fourth Stall III by Chris Rylander

The Fourth Stall 
By: Chris Rylander
Release Date: Feb. 5, 2013
Author Website
Book Provided By: Walden Pond Press


The saga of Mac, Vince, and middle school organized crime comes to a thrilling conclusion in THE FOURTH STALL PART III. Their business is finished, and Mac’s and Vince’s lives have become something they have never been before: simple. None of the fortune or the glory and none of the risk or threat of juvenile prison. There’s even a new business that has stepped in to take their place (and take the heat off Mac and Vince for once). Things couldn’t be better.

But that was before things at their middle school started to go haywire. Before they found out that there’s a new crime boss at school in the town over trying to consolidate power. And before their old nemesis, Staples, came back to town begging for help after his stint in the clink. Just when Mac and Vince thought they were out, the business pulls them back in. But this time, will they be able to escape with their lives and permanent records intact?
(from goodreads)

My Ramblings:

First let me say that I currently am having a book three problem. It feels like all my favorite trilogies are all coming to a close at the same time. It's draining. I want to know how they end, but I'm not ready for them to be over! So like a bad blogger I've been avoiding them (it's a coping mechanism, okay?!) All these book threes are stacked up in a nice neat pile, just waiting for me to get up the nerve to open them up. The Fourth Stall sat there for a little while, and of course, when I finally grabbed it and opened that first page, I was sucked right in.  

Second. I missed these characters. Like really missed them! With everything else I read it's sometimes hard to remember how fun and easy reading can be. This book, this whole series is just fun to read. I read it and I nod along and giggle and wink back when the story winks- I love that Rylander has his characters acknowledge the Godfather connections, the silliness that is Scarface and the undying love that fans have for the Cubs. 

*** Note- There will be spoilers below. If you haven't read this book yet. Stop reading now. Just know that this is a series you need to go get ***

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

My Ramblings on Amarok by Angela J. Townsend

By: Angela J. Townsend
Release Date: Nov. 20, 2012
Authors Website


Emma's life has been hell since she moved from sunny California to a remote Alaskan town. Abandoned by her father and living with the guilt of causing her mother's death, she makes a desperate dash for freedom from her abusive stepfather. But when her car skids off the icy road, her planned escape leads to further captivity in a world beyond her imagining. 

Dragged across the tundra by an evil mountain man and his enormous black wolf, she learns that love can be found in the most unexpected places. Amarok, as she's nicknamed the wolf, is a young man from the gold-rush era enslaved by an ancient shaman. Emma's gentle touch and kind heart win his love and devotion. When a vicious madman--trapped in bear form by the same Shaman--attacks the travelers and injures Amarok, Emma must find the strength to face her fears and free the wolf she's come to love. But that means she must face down the evil shaman, a Siberian mammoth hunter from the ice age, and he has no intention of giving up his power to her.
(from Goodreads)

My Ramblings:
On the recommendation of Darby Karchut I picked this book up. She's one of my favorite authors, so I figured she had good taste. This was a great little book, full of all the sorts of things that I really enjoy. There's folklore and magic, there's action and adventure, there's wilderness and wild animals and it's all woven together in a neat little package. 

At the center of the story is Emma, a girl who has lost everything and is struggling just to survive in Alaska with an abusive step-father. No one should have to live the way Emma does, covering her bruises and making excuses. No one should have to, but many kids (and adults) do. Townsend does something here, in talking about the relationship between Emma and her step-father, that I like. She treats it as simply another part of Emma's life. She doesn't sugar coat it, but she doesn't make it the focal point of the entire story either. It's something Emma lives with, and deals with, on a daily basis, but it does not define her. It certainly impacts the decisions Emma makes throughout the story, but I appreciated that Emma, as a character, was more then just an abused girl. 

That said, the abuse is what sets the entire adventure in motion, and her ability to cope with bad things, with bad people, is what allows her to come through the journey stronger. The fact that she never loses hope, and doesn't let the bad things that have happened to her define her, is what makes her inspiring. 

The other characters in this story are great- I do wish that there was a little more character development on some of the characters, especially Jock, who is Amarok's uncle. I felt like he played a fairly large role in the story and how it all resolved, but I didn't feel like I knew enough about him. I had a great picture of who the shaman was, who Emma was and who Amorak was, but Jock came in and was awesome, but I really wanted to know more. At the end of the book I found myself really wanting a second story focusing on Jock and his adventures releasing all the other people who were trapped by the Shaman. 

Overall this was a great story, it was a quick read that packed a lot in, and I think that because Emma is such a survivor and the fact that she takes the pain and hurt and uses that to become a stronger person, someone who doesn't give up and doesn't lose hope, makes it a story that many kids (and adults) can relate to. If you get a chance, pick this one up!

Monday, April 8, 2013

My Ramblings on Hysteria by Megan Miranda

By: Megan Miranda
Release Date: February 15, 2013
Author Website
Book Provided by NetGalley

Mallory killed her boyfriend, Brian. She can't remember the details of that night but everyone knows it was self-defense, so she isn't charged. But Mallory still feels Brian's presence in her life. Is it all in her head? Or is it something more? In desperate need of a fresh start, Mallory is sent to Monroe, a fancy prep school where no one knows her . . . or anything about her past.But the feeling follows her, as do her secrets. Then, one of her new classmates turns up dead. As suspicion falls on Mallory, she must find a way to remember the details of both deadly nights so she can prove her innocence-to herself and others.

In another riveting tale of life and death, Megan Miranda's masterful storytelling brings readers along for a ride to the edge of sanity and back again.
(from goodreads)

My Ramblings:
I read this book way back in January and was super excited to review it... then I got an email about participating in a blog tour so I held off.  I was worried initially that I wouldn't be able to remember the plot or the characters after all this time, but that really wasn't the case at all. Instead I found myself thinking about the book during the last few months, really looking forward to reviewing it and remember the things that really stood out about the book. It was really interesting trying to hold off the review. Now, I know I could have reviewed back in January and just scheduled it to post today, but I'm really glad I didn't. The waiting gave a different perspective on the book and it was kind of fun to look back when thinking this post out, instead of just sharing my immediate, off the cuff thoughts. So, here we go. 

This book centers around a girl named Mallory who killed her boyfriend Brian. She doesn't remember it. Not anything about it. She doesn't remember the events that led up to it and she doesn't remember the actual murder. She thinks it was self-defense, that's what everyone else believes and she is able to walk away without being charged. She also knows that her entire life is different now. She can't seem to get passed the incident, even if she doesn't remember it. It's haunting her. She leaves to go to a new school, a private school out in the woods, where no one is supposed to know who she is or what she's done. 

It's at the new school where the action and the mystery really ramps up. What I really loved about this book is that you see the story unraveling the way Miranda does. She has know idea what happened so as she begins to uncover little pieces, as she starts to remember, you, as the reader, begin to piece it all together as well. Often times books that center around a mystery try to pack in too many twists and turns OR the mystery is too easy to solve. This book does cram a lot in, there were a few moments as I was reading that I felt like it was too much and I got a bit confused about who was doing what and how it was all connected. However, Miranda really ties it all together in the end. This was one of the few times where as it pulled together I really went "Woah!" It sounds a bit cliche, but it really did all make sense in the end. 

Mallory as a main character is great. You really get the sense that she is right on the edge. She really doesn't know what is real and what is in her head, and you can see her grappling with her own sanity. Calling a book "Hysteria" holds a promise of the what you're going to find inside. Mallory's struggle definitely hold up to the promise. What I particularly liked was that not only weren't we sure whether Mallory was losing it or not, but neither was she. She actively acknowledges that fact. She questions her own sanity and she struggles with what it might mean if she is in fact losing her mind. 

The story about the school and everything that happens there is well constructed as well. There's a murder and a mystery and Mallory has to try and tie it all together before it's too late. She's obviously the easy scapegoat, and even she isn't 100% sure she isn't involved.  It all adds to her confusion and distress and she has to balance those feelings with her desire to figure it all out.

I also really loved the resolution of this story. The truth about what happened between Mallory and Brian was not what I expected. I don't want to give anything away, but part of it was easy to figure out. Any time that you see "self-defense" and "boyfriend" in the same story, you're mind (or at least my mind), goes directly to abusive boyfriend, and that's part of it, but Miranda makes it much then just that. Others are involved, there's a back story that brings them to that point that isn't just "over possessive guy pushes girlfriend too far" and I really, really appreciated that.

Overall this was a wonderful book. The story flows and it draws you in so quickly that you lose yourself in it. I can't wait to read more from Miranda.  


Check out this great trailer for Hysteria