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Reflections on the #AtoZChallenge

by Donna Huber For the A to Z Challenge, I discussed different book genres/categories. Each day, I gave a few details about the genre/catego...

November 24, 2011

Thankful: The White Thread

The White Thread (The Gateway Chronicles #3) by K. B. Hoyle
Paperback, 402 pages
Published October 2011 by Createspace
ISBN13: 9781463767709
Read November 2011
Goodreads, IndieBound, Amazon

As it is Thanksgiving Day in the U.S. I thought it befitting to share with you a review of a book by an author that I am truly thankful for having met. K. B. Hoyle was one of the first authors to contact me for a review when I started blogging at the beginning of the year. She had a superb pitch. I don't know if she had been reading my blog, but her email came shortly after a post where I mentioned that I was thinking of reading the Chronicles of Narnia since I was falling in love with the movies (Prince Caspian in The Dawn Treader may have something to do with that). Anyways, she said The Gateway Chronicles were Harry Potter meets Chronicles of Narnia. If you read my reviews of The Six or The Oracle (or any of the other half a dozen mentions I have made of them over the year) then you know she was spot on. Though I've never read the Chronicles of Narnia series I can definitely see the influence they have on K. B. Hoyle's writing.

Not am only thankful that K. B. Hoyle introduced me to a wonderful young adult story, but she has accomplished something no other book has been able to do: The Gateway Chronicles has made my 9 year old niece finally excited about books and wanting to read. Coming from a family where reading has always been important, I cannot express how grateful I am to finally be able to share the love of books with my niece.

Alright, enough gushing, now on to what I thought of the latest installment: The White Thread.

I loved the The White Thread, maybe not as much as I did The Six and The Oracle, but there is usually one book in a series that I'm not super crazy about. Yet, I still demolished this book in a few short days. I actually purchased the series for my niece's school and I was so excited that I started reading that copy. A few days later K. B. Hoyle sent me an autographed copy. I thought The White Thread was a little slower moving than the other two in the series. I have the sense that it is more of a transition book though the story is still advanced and quite enjoyable. You get to see more of the characters' personalities as they grow in to young adults. Oh, and I question that I was kind of left with at the end of The Oracle was answered (what the 3 left behind at the castle did while the others went in search of the Oracle). There is no rehashing of the previous events at the start but subtle reminders throughout the book of important details. (I hate series that rehash everything at the beginning of the next book.) 

Though not as action packed from the get go as the other two books in the series, there is definitely blood pumping action from the middle on. I was left with the impression that this book was about setting out the puzzles pieces of the series and leaving the reader to piece them together without the picture on the lid. I kind of wished I had re-read The Six and The Oracle before reading The White Thread. I also need more people I know reading this series as I am left with some big questions at the end that I need to discuss with people. K. B. has offered to answer my questions, if it wouldn't ruin the plot (she's so sweet). But the questions I'm left with I don't really want to know the answer to until they are revealed in the other books. At the same time they would be fun to discuss with people. My questions are on the order of "Is Snape really evil?" or "What if Harry hadn't disarmed Draco and became the rightful owner of the elder wand?" (I'm having a Harry Potter movie marathon this week, can you tell? Also Harry Potter was the last series where I had a burning desire to discuss it with everyone I met, much like I'm having with The Gateway Chronicles). 

Seriously, please go read these books! I want to see if any else thinks there's a connection between the Oracle and the guy who made the gateways. Plus, I wonder if their clothes changed back when they were ripped from Alitheia. Was Perry's sword just left hanging mid-swing? I don't know if I can wait until 2012 to find out what happens next. Please help assuage my curiosity by joining in on the speculation with me. 

So go pick up this series NOW, read it, then come back and discuss it with me!

2/28/2012 Update: The Gateway Chronicles has been picked up by Australia based independent publisher The Writer's Coffee Shop. The will re-release the first three books in the series this year, starting with The Six on April 5.

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November 20, 2011

Holiday Buying Guide

Whether you are putting together your list for Santa or looking for something the avid reader on your list hasn't read, I have gift suggestions for everyone on your list. These are books either I want (many were library books or ARCs so I want my own copy) or books I'm buying for others.

For the young people:

The Gateway Chronicle (The Six, The Oracle, and The White Thread) by K. B. Hoyle
If you have a reluctant reader on your holiday list, you should get this series. My 9 year old niece has never had much interest in books. We couldn't even get her to read Harry Potter. Back in February the author sent me The Six and The Oracle. They were so good I couldn't stop talking about them. I knew they were above my niece's reading level (she barely reads on grade level), but that she would really love the story. My mom read them to her over the summer. Once they got started, she was constantly asking anyone who would to read another chapter. She now enjoys reading. (She's reading Harry Potter now). This series is on our Christmas list for my niece's school library, because my niece thinks all the kids at her school should read them.

You can read my reviews for the first two books by clicking on the links above. They are like a modern day Chronicles of Narnia with touches of Harry Potter and The Last Airbender. I think my niece really related to the 11 year old girl who doesn't feel like she fits in with anyone.

The Gateway Chronicles would make an excellent gift for both children and adults. I would say the reading level is 5th or 6th grade. Though since it would be enjoyed by the whole family it would great for a family read-a-long for even young children.

Across the Universe by Beth Revis

For the high school age and adult reader that loves sci-fi with a touch of romance, I recommend Across the Universe by Beth Revis (clicking on the link above will take you to my original review. I listened to the audio book and it was excellent, so if you have a visually impaired reader or just someone that needs a little help with reading the audio book would make an great gift.

Huber Hill and the Dead Man's Treasure by B. K. Bostick
In my review (which you can view by clicking on the link above), I mentioned that I would be getting this book for my nephew. He's a 3rd grader but reads on a 4th grade level (perhaps a bit higher if he would apply himself). I think he will enjoy this adventure of middle school age kids seeking treasure thought to only be an urban legend.

For more suggestions for the young reader (many would be enjoyed by adults as well) on your list see all my YA reviews.

For Older Readers:

Forbidden by Ted Dekker and Tosca Lee
For the reader that enjoys books that make them think, this would be a perfect gift. This futuristic story explores a world ruled by fear. The twists and turns (I wasn't so sure who the good guys and bad guys were most of the time) will keep the reader enthralled. As the first in the series, you may just find the gift buying chance already taken care of.

Immortal by Gene Doucette
I was really unsure about this book when I accepted it for review, but it turned out to be one of my favorite books of the year. There is a little something for everyone in this book. If you have a difficult to buy for reader, I highly recommend this book. I know some people are hesitant to pick up indie published books, but this one is truly excellent.

Steven George and the Dragon by Nathan Everett
This was just such a fun read that I had to include it on my holiday buying guide. It is a fairytale of sorts. As other readers commented, it is hard to tell who the intended audience is age-wise. This might be the sort of story best shared as a family.

See my reviews of other Sci-fi and fantasy books for recommendations.

Throwaway by Heather Huffman
Life's a struggle and I like books that don't sugar coat it. Have a reader who's into social issues? Then this book may be their thing.  Though life may not have a happy ending, I prefer the books I read to have one. The suspense in this has you wondering how much of a happy ending there will be. Recommended for the romantic suspense reader on your list. If you are getting a Kindle for someone, at $2.99 Throwaway would be an excellent bonus gift (it's also available in a print edition)

The First Victim by J. B. Lynn
This book ROCKED! It is only available in ebook, but it's priced just right for a "stocking stuffer" or a bonus gift added to the new ereader under the tree. For me the story verged on horror, which made it a truly wonderful thriller without giving me the nightmares that accompany horror stories. There is a steamy romance scene for those readers inclined for those, but it doesn't dominate the story.

Need more suggestions on suspense, thriller, and romance books, click on the links for all my reviews in that genre.

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
I know this was an extremely popular book this year, what with a movie and all coming out. If you have a movie lover on your list that you are perhaps trying to convert to a book lover, too, I think this would make an excellent choice. I actually listen to this book which I believe added to its excellency. So if you have someone who prefers audio books (or trying to get into audio books) think about picking up Water for Elephants for them.

22 Britannia Road by Amanda Hodgkinson
I love historical fiction, particularly that which is focused on World War II era. However, I was growing bored with the books because they all seemed to be variations of the same story line. When I saw a review of 22 Britannia Road I knew I had to read it. It is set after the end of the war and focused more on the recovery of the civilian wife and child and how the family tried to reunited after such a long separation.

For more suggestions in audio books and historical fiction just click on the links to see all my reviews.

Bonus Recommendation:

Haiku for the Single Girl by Beth Griffenhagen
I picked this up on Thursday and read it while at lunch. We all have those office or other organization parties to attend. If you need a gift idea, this would make a good one, particularly if there are single people in the group. I loved this little book and if you have a single person on your list, buy them this book (As single person myself, I would love to receive this book as a gift). I read it on my Nook from and it didn't lay out real well. I would prefer a print version.

I have read some truly remarkable books this year. My list could be much longer, but I want to keep it simple. I do encourage you to follow the descriptive links to see what other titles I might not have included here, but would still make wonderful gifts. Also if you are needing more suggestions take a look at the list at Book Riot.

What books do you recommend giving as gifts (or would like to receive as a gift)?
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