Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Storyteller's Daughter by Cameron Dokey

Synopsis (from goodreads.com):

In a faraway kingdom, a king has been betrayed. Deeply hurt and bitterly angry, he vows never to be deceived again. Unfortunately, the king's plan to protect himself will endanger all of the realm's young women, unless one of them will volunteer to marry the king — and surrender her life.

To everyone's relief and horror, one young woman steps forward. The daughter of a legendary storyteller, Shahrazad believes it is her destiny to accept this risk and sacrifice herself.

On the night of her wedding to the king, Shahrazad begins to weave a tale. Fascinated, the king lets her live night after night. Just when Shahrazad dares to believe that she has found a way to keep her life — and an unexpected love — a treacherous plot will disrupt her plan. Now she can only hope that love is strong enough to save her.

Jillian’s Review:
I don’t like to be reminded over and over again that I’m reading a book and that I’m not actually in an exotic new world. It took me a while to get into this novel because Dokey kept a dialog between Shahrazad and the reader. Thankfully, these jolts out of contexts were brief and grew farther and father between stories and I was able to skip them when I came upon them. Once skipped, I was able to lose myself in this wonderfully written novel.

There are several stories told by Shahrazad which are meant to teach those whom she tells the stories to.

There was a healthy amount of romance and the characters are exotic and deep thinkers. There are so many stories throughout this novel, yet Dokey does a wonderful job of blending them together to make one great tale. I’m glad I pushed through the first few pages because I would have really missed out on a fantastic book.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Domino Effect by Andrew Cotto



This book was sent to me by the author. Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to read your work. Great book!

On the back cover:
"The Domino Effect is the story of Danny Rorro, a charismatic kid from Queens poisoned by the past. A series of painful defeats have left him scarred and isolated from his neighborhood, his parents, and, most significantly, the benevolent ways of his childhood when he was known as "Domino." With great insight, imagery and wit, Danny recalls his past in Queens and his coming-of-age at Hamden Academy. This fast-paced and powerful story is rich with conflict, humor, tenderness and music- just like life, especially when coming-of-age."

Jennifer's Review:
I liked this book. The story was a page turner, I had to know what would happen next. I would have finished in a few days except that we are coming up on Christmas. Danny is very believable and I found myself rooting for him through the whole book...almost. There is one moment where his mistake was a bit too disgusting but he figured that one out, too. (He pooped in the wrestler's shoes.)

Neat story from beginning to end. Now, for the reason I can't give this book five stars. The language and sexual content. I understand that teenage boys can have naughty mouths but I don't want to read about them. Plus, all of the content about what boys may do or think in private was too much. I have to take away a star and a half for this. Otherwise, a great book.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Body of Evidence by Jeremy Brown

It's Wednesday and it's not even midnight and I'm writing my review!  And the week before Christmas at that!  The way things have been going lately, it's quite an accomplishment, I assure you.  =]  I have read (or started!) lots of books in the last couple weeks that I intended to review.  But I just couldn't make myself finish them for whatever reason.  I started (and read most of!) The Tanglewood Terror by Kurtis Scaletta.  It was ok, but not my favorite book.  I read about half of Saltwater Taffy by Eric Delabarre.  I liked this one ok, too, but I really disliked the bickering that went on between the group of friends.  I'm sure it's just a boy thing, but it sort of got old after a while. 

I also started Lost in Lexicon: An Adventure in Words and Numbers by Pendred Noyce and I actually liked this one, I just haven't had time to finish.  =]  But it's clever...probably more clever than me!  There are so many parts I want to go back and reread, just to catch the subtle humor that I missed the first time around.  One I plan to finish for sure...just as soon as Christmas is finished! 

So today I'm reviewing Body of Evidence.  My eleven-year-old daughter brought this one home from her library at school and asked if I wanted to read it. Four-Minute Forensic Mysteries?  Absolutely!  It was a very quick read (even quicker because each story is only four minutes long!) and that was a good thing because things tend to get busy this time of the year! 

From the back of the book:  Do you have the forensic tools to solve these mysteries?  A man claims his wife died in a car accident.  But could she still be alive?  A woman's body is found in a lake.  But where was she really drowned?  A safecracker wears gloves and doesn't leave a fingerprint.  But what other body part is unique enough to leave a print?

Fifty-one baffling crime scenes need to be solved.  Can you crack the case before CSI Wes Burton?  You'll need to use all forensic evidence at your disposal, and Burton is the best.  He can tell when a witness is lying by the flick of their wrist.  His Crime Files contain the solution at the end of each mystery, but keep in mind, not every crime scene is as it appears.  The mysteries may be short, but they can be tricky.  You'll need to use all of your wits to weigh the evidence...

From Heather:  I really liked this book.  It's kind of like Encyclopedia Brown in that they have a short mystery and then the solution.  But the content is more grown up.  My only complaint, if I had one, is it took about half the book before I could remember who all the characters were and what they did and if they were male or female (because they only use last names)  It was kind of confusing, and it must have been confusing for other people too because they have a Personnel File at the beginning that introduces each character (maybe if I had read that first, I wouldn't have been so confused!)

I give it three and a half stars.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Daughter of the Forest (Sevenwaters, Book 1) by Juliet Marillier

Synopsis (from goodreads.com):
Lovely Sorcha is the seventh child and only daughter of Lord Colum of Sevenwaters. Bereft of a mother, she is comforted by her six brothers who love and protect her. Sorcha is the light in their lives, they are determined that she know only contentment.
But Sorcha's joy is shattered when her father is bewitched by his new wife, an evil enchantress who binds her brothers with a terrible spell, a
spell which only Sorcha can lift-by staying silent. If she speaks before she completes the quest set to her by the Fair Folk and their queen, the Lady of the Forest, she will lose her brothers forever.
When Sorcha is kidnapped by the enemies of Sevenwaters and taken to a foreign land, she is torn between the desire to save her beloved brothers, and a love that comes only once. Sorcha despairs at ever being able to complete her task, but the magic of the Fair Folk knows no boundaries, and love is the strongest magic of them all.

Jillian’s Review:
Marillier is a master at her craft. There is something so unique in the way she creates magical worlds and her wonderful characters! They are so believable, even with all the magic surrounding them. Sorcha is a wonderfully strong and intelligent girl who loves and is profoundly devoted to her family.

I must add that there is some adult content in this one. One scene in particular was very dark and detailed when poor Sorcha is hurt by two men. Though it was a bit more than I would have liked to know, this attack shapes Sorcha in deep ways and adds to her already agonizing list of trials.

The adventures were heart-pounding, and the romance – oh the romance! – kept me turning page after page after page. Marillier does a wonderful job of showing Sorcha grow and overcome her painful past and becoming the woman she was meant to be. I can’t wait to devour the next in this enthralling series.

Read Marillier's Wildwood Dancing trilogy for the more YA friendly audience.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Silver Bells by Luanne Rice

From Amazon:

Every year on the first day of December, Christopher Byrne traveled from his farm in Nova Scotia to sell his Christmas trees on the streets of Manhattan. But this year there'd be no cheer for the widower and his twelve-year-old daughter, Bridget. For New York City had taken Christy's only son, headstrong sixteen-year-old Danny, who'd run off without a trace.

Librarian Catherine Tierney used to love the holidays: the lights, the carols, the nip in the air. But after her husband's death on Christmas Eve three years ago, the festivities seemed to start too early and last too long. Just before he died, Brian told his wife that he'd never leave her, that every Christmas he'd send Catherine a sign. On the quaint Chelsea street where she lives, Catherine will meet the tree seller from Novia Scotia. Both figured the world had forgotten the true meaning of Christmas. But they hadn't counted on finding each other, on fate, on second chances. . . and on a holiday gift of new love and new hope to last a lifetime.
From Misty:
This will be more of a highlight today than a review.  But you don't care, right? 
I'll be honest with you, this is not Luanne's best novel.  That's not to say this one is bad--that's to say her others are so good (and yes, I liked Dream Country, Jillian!).  I read Silver Bells every Christmas because it is one of my favorite Christmas stories, and that's saying something because I'm kind of bah humbug about Christmas novels.
One thing I love about this book is the setting is so vivid, I feel like I am right there bundled up on the bitter cold New York streets with Christy and Catherine.  It's a fascinating gift that Rice has.
When I was nabbing the picture (see above) from the google images, I read through some other reviews of Silver Bells.  One astute Rice fan said she thought this book was missing the heart that all the others have, and I really feel that way too.  There is just that extra bit of magic Rice usually has that gets lost in the overdone-ness of these characters.  They are all too stereotypical, too emotion, too irrational. 
I still give it 4.75 Chrstmas stars.
Silver Bells was made into a Hallmark movie.  Here's a link to watch it on YouTube.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Jay Hawk by Dorothy Keddington

I have to say, Dorothy Keddington's novels are a definite must-read for anyone who loves suspense. Today I reviewed JayHawk, a story that will capture your heart and leave you breathless until the very end.

Publisher's Note:
Timeless best selling JAYHAWK now available by award winning author Dorothy Keddington.
To Angela Stewart, a summer on a Wyoming ranch with her college roommate's family seemed like an ideal vacation. For Jay Bradford,his return to the Triple J Ranch involves a potentially dangerous quest and the search for an answer to a 26-year old mystery. Jay and Angela's chance meeting on a lonely road at dusk, marks the beginning of their unforgettable journey into danger and love.

Mandi's Review: I'm excited today to review another Dorothy Keddington novel. JayHawk is one of my all-time favorites. Angela Stewart, a quiet city girl, travels to Wyoming to spend a summer with her very best friend. The ranch is filled with wonder, and as she gets to know the Bradford family and their handsome cousin, Jay, she can't imagine a more wonderful vacation. Soon, however, her ideal holiday takes a drastic turn and she is forced to chose between Jay and his family. As the secrets of the past shed new light on the Bradford's, Angela finds herself deeply immersed in a dangerous quest for answers. This novel is filled with heart-stopping romance and nail-biting suspense. Dorothy Keddington's characters stay with you long after you've turned the last page, and her descriptions are so vivid you will feel immersed in the ranch and life in beautiful Wyoming. I give this book 5 out of 5 stars. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Tuesdays at the Castle, book 1 by Jessica Day George

Synopsis (from goodreads.com):
Tuesdays at Castle Glower are Princess Celie's favorite days. That's because on Tuesdays the castle adds a new room, a turret, or sometimes even an entire wing. No one ever knows what the castle will do next, and no one-other than Celie, that is-takes the time to map out the new additions. But when King and Queen Glower are ambushed and their fate is unknown, it's up to Celie, with her secret knowledge of the castle's never-ending twists and turns, to protect their home and save their kingdom. This delightful book from a fan- and bookseller-favorite kicks off a brand-new series sure to become a modern classic.

Jillian’s Review:
As with all of George's books (Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow; Dragon Slippers series; etc.), this was wonderfully written, cute, fun, and just a great read.

The characters were loveable and realistic right from the beginning. I love it when the kids are smart and strong, and Princess Celie and her siblings are in every way.

The plot was great, told in a fun way that younger readers will love. And the Castle! It’s wonderful how George gave a building a personality and a role to play. I loved the relationship between Celie and the Castle and how it helps Celie get through the toughest challenges.

This book is perfect for young girls (and us girls young at heart). I have high hopes for the next in the series which Jessica Day George told me herself will be forthcoming.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Final Mercy by Frank J. Edwards

From Goodreads:

Dr. Jack Forester, director of the New Canterbury University Hospital emergency department, is about to win an ongoing battle to modernize the ED when he's stymied by the power-hungry dean, Bryson Witner. Then someone tries to murder Jack's mentor and the former dean, setting it up to look like suicide.


Dr. Gavin survives butwinds up in a coma, and his would-be killer takes advantage by framing Jack. When the woman Jack is falling in love with disappears after a visit to the new dean, Jack is in a race against the clock to find her, uncover Witner's dark past, salvage his career and avert disaster for New Canterbury.

From Misty:

I have to tell you right off, Final Mercy, a medical thriller, is a little out of my normal reading genre.  I knew that going in, but I was really interested in reading this novel when, after checking out Edwards' webpage, I saw that he is also a poet.  Many of you know I write fiction, but personally I think of myself as a poet first, a reader second, and a novelist third and last, so you can see why getting a look inside this book intrigued me.

But before I get to my review, here is a brief bio about Edwards.

Frank Edwards was born and raised in Western New York. After serving as an Army warrant officer helicopter pilot in Vietnam straight out of high school, he studied English and Chemistry at UNC Chapel Hill, then received an M.D. from the University of Rochester. Along the way he completed the MFA program in Writing at Warren Wilson College in North Carolina. He continues to write, teach and practice emergency medicine, and lives on the shore of Lake Ontario.

Edwards' knowledge and experience in the medical profession will be the first thing you notice when you start reading Final Mercy.  He narrates his story in a way only someone famliar with the inner workings of a medical center could.  His setting and background are solidly constructed and pull the reader in so immediately and fully you feel like you could be a part of the "office politics" at New Canterbury, but the third person narrative makes it easy to just be glad you aren't.

It only took about two sentences for me to know I was going to like this book, the writing is that tight.  Honestly, I'd almost forgotten that anyone still knew how to write like this.  With natural, flowing dialogue, Edwards drops information in a steady stream of bait.  And here is where I self-righteously attribute Edwards' skill at this to being a poet--being practiced at saying a lot in a very few words.  Edwards keeps a very active voice, and his style shows the reader the intricacies of his story instead of tells them, which creates a much deeper connection with the characters and, in my opinion, a more fulfilling read.

Jack Forester is a compelling character, one you will definitely want to prevail.  I often asked myself, at least in the beginning, why he did not just quit his job and move on (but that would just be me avoiding conflict--sidenote: sometimes I fast-forward through the major conflict in movies) and let Witner have the old hospital--because though Witner is very creepy in his private scenes, he is completely personable and even charming when he is dealing with other characters (which is the real creepy part).  But the conflict in this novel is the whole point of it, and Jack's determination to get to the bottom of things, along with the (thank you!) romantic element, keeps you curious and turning the pages.

Final Mercy is an excellent, intelligent read I would recommend to anyone.

I reviewed Final Mercy at the request of the author and read a complimentary reviewer's copy, but as with all our reviews here at Six Mixed, was compensated in no way for my honest opinion.

For more information on Final Mercy or Frank J. Edwards, you can visit his website Here.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls



On the back cover:
"The Glass Castle is a remarkable memoir of resilience and redemption, and a revelatory look into a family at once deeply dysfunctional and uniquely vibrant. When sober, Jeannette's brilliant and charismatic father captured his children's imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and how to embrace life fearlessly. But when he drank, he was dishonest and destructive. Her mother was a free spirit who abhorred the idea of domesticity and didn't want the responsibility of raising a family.
The Walls children learned to take care of themselves. They fed, clothed, and protected one another, and eventually found their way to New York. Their parents followed them, choosing to be homeless even as their children prospered.
The Glass Castle is truly astonishing-a memoir permeated by the intense love of a peculiar but loyal family."

This book was awful. There was not one part that I enjoyed. The language was horrible the whole way through starting at the beginning and never giving the reader rest. The only reason I made it through this book was to finish it for book club.

Depressing to say the least. These poor children were neglected in the worst way, living in poverty with parents who were most definitely able to do better but chose not to. The children were sent to school at one point and had no food to eat. They would sit at a table, acting like they weren't hungry and then rummage through the garbage cans after everyone else was done. One child ate a stick of butter because there was nothing else in their fridge. Their mom complained about it being gone, most likely because she was going to eat it. She seemed to always come first.

Rex, the father, was an alcoholic who stole all the family money to drink. Jeannette and Lori, Jennette's sister, decided they had had enough and were going to get to New York. Lori would graduate soon so they started saving their money. Making a dollar here and there babysitting and making posters for people.

"One evening in May, when we'd been saving our money for almost nine months, I came home with a couple of dollars to stash them in Oz. The pig was not on the old sewing machine. I began looking through all the junk in the bedroom and finally found Oz on the floor. Someone had slashed him apart with a knife and stolen all the money.

I knew it was Dad, but at the same time, I couldn't believe he'd stoop this low. Lori obviously didn't know yet. She was in the living room humming away as she worked on a poster. My first impulse was to hide Oz. I had this wild thought that I could somehow replace the money before Lori discovered it was missing. But I knew how ridiculous that was; three of us had spent the better part of a year accumulating the money. It would be impossible for me to replace it in the month before Lori graduated.

I went into the living room and stood beside her, trying to think of what to say. She was working on a poster that said TAMMY! in Day-Glo colors. After a moment she looked up. "What?" she said.

Lori could tell by my face that something was wrong. She stood up so abruptly she knocked over a bottle of india ink, and ran into the bedroom. I braced myself, expecting to hear a scream, but there was only silence and then a small, broken whimpering."

This is a heartbreaking true story. I am shocked that this is allowed to happen but most of all that people who have children allow this to happen to their own children.

I give The Glass Castle 2 stars.


Friday, December 9, 2011

"Within My Heart" by Tamera Alexander



From tameraalexander.com:

Determined to fulfill her late husband’s dream, Rachel Boyd struggles to keep her ranch afloat with the help of her two young sons. But some days it feels as though her every effort is sabotaged. When faced with a loss she cannot afford, she’s forced to trust Rand Brookston, the one man in Timber Ridge she wishes to avoid. And with good reason. He’s a physician, just like her father, which tells her everything she needs to know about him. Or so she thinks . . .
Dr. Rand Brookston ventured west with the dream of bringing modern medicine to the wilds of the Colorado Rockies, but the townspeople have been slow to trust him. Just as slow in coming is Rand’s dream to build the town a proper clinic. When a patient’s life is threatened, Rand makes a choice—one that sends ripples through the town of Timber Ridge. And through Rachel Boyd’s stubborn heart.
From the beloved, bestselling author of From a Distance and Beyond This Moment comes an unforgettable story about faith in the face of fear, about tarnished hopes and second chances, and ultimately about the resilient courage and tenacity of hearts broken––and mended––by love.

I quite enjoyed this book, but then again, I typically enjoy anything by Tamera Alexander. This is the third and last book in the Timber Ridge Reflections series. It worked fine as a stand alone book, but I think a lot of things would have made more sense and the characters personalities would be more clear if I had indeed read the first two books. But it was fine. I didn't feel like I really missed anything in the story, and I got a good sense of the main characters, just not the supporting cast, which some of them played a major role in this story.

Rachel Boyd is struggling to keep her ranch alive. The cattle keep dying, she can't afford to pay her help, and she's asking - again - for a loan from the bank to stay afloat. Trying to maintain the legacy her deceased husband wanted for their two small boys, helping her friends out in their time of need, and dealing with her mischievous 8-year old, she's stretched far too thin and wants nothing to do with the town doctor whom she thinks is arrogant, aren't all doctors arrogant, but the town doctor, Rand Brookston, wants everything to do with her.

I don't have any criticism for this book. There was no swearing, no sex - all very (very) chaste, and for a lot of you I know that's important. The story was entertaining and witty, the characters very likeable. It was easy to visualize the events and the characters. Overall I give "Within My Heart" a solid 4.5 star rating. It's good. =) Check it out (but maybe read "From a Distance" and "Beyond This Moment" first).

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Watched...by Cindy M. Hogan

Publisher's Note: It takes more than a school trip to Washington, D.C. to change fifteen-year-old Christy's life. It takes murder.

A witness to the brutal slaying of a Senator's aide, Christy finds herself watched not only by the killers and the FBI, but also by two hot boys.
She discovers that if she can't help the FBI, who want to protect her, it will cost her and her new friends their lives.

Mandi's Review: Watched by Cindy M. Hogan is definitely a book that will keep you biting your nails until the very end. Christy is on a scholarship sponsored trip to Washington D.C. when she and her new group of friends witness a terrifying, brutal murder. Shocked, scared and confused, the group struggles to understand what they've just witnessed, and with a bit of deliberation and a lot of courage they decide to contact the FBI. Soon Christy finds herself thrown into a whirlwind situation that she has a difficult time grasping, all the while dealing with the emotions and awkwardness that any teenager deals with at her age. Trying to find her place in the world, Christy is also confused about who she really is and what she wants in life. She fits in with the kids in Washington and she feels as if she is blossoming into a new person. I enjoyed the descriptions of D.C. and I even have to admit that I could really relate to the main character. When I was a sophomore in high school I was awarded a scholarship to a political program that was held in D.C. just like Christy. I remember feeling some of the same emotions as the main character. I was a geek, awkward in social situations, and even felt like an outcast. During my time in Washington I learned about politics and the inner workings of D.C., but mostly I came to grips with who I really was. The same can be said for Christy. Her faith and values are tested and she is forced to make grownup decisions in light of her terrifying experience. I give Cindy M. Hogan's Watched full stars and would recommend this book to both teens and adults alike.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Realmsic Conquest, Book 1 by A. Demethius Jackson


Synopsis (from amazon.com):

Throughout its history, the kingdom known as the Realm has never known peace. From its establishment, it has possessed the gift of magic, which is a treasure that exists no other place in the world! As a result, the Realm has endlessly defended itself against conquerors, but now faces its greatest peril. As our heroes battle the wicked and unlock mysteries, they must also face overwhelming circumstances as they are guided by ancient lore on a quest to find the greatest treasure their kingdom will ever know... peace.

Jillian’s Review:

Jackson takes us to a realm of magic and war, and introduces us to characters who are surprisingly developed in such a brief story. Jackson’s use of simple verse (like that of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales) is unique to this age and his rhythm and rhymes are at times ingenious, especially the conversations between characters, such as:

KELM:

1. Damian simply is much too strong

2. for us to continue to fight head on.

SARAYA:

3. Then what do you think our approach should be?

LEODEN:

4. It should be to rethink our strategy!

Though cleverly written, the rhyming was quite distracting. I found myself often skipping the last word of each line just so I could focus on the story. The rhyming stuck in my head long after I closed the cover, like when I’ve read a Dr. Seuss book to my four year old.

I did, however, really enjoy the story and the characters. I would like to read another by Jackson, but would much prefer it to be written in prose form.

I received a copy of The Realmsic Conquest: The Candle of Crest from the author in exchange for my unbiased review.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Talented Clementine by Sara Pennypacker

I'll admit it right now...it's been a tough reading week.  Between getting my house back to normal after the holiday (and the ten pies I baked last week!) and all the time I've spent Christmas shopping, I haven't had much time to read.  SO...!  I've decided to review one of my favorite books...The Talented Clementine.

From the back of the book:  When it comes to tackling third grade, Clementine is at the top of her game - ok, so maybe not ALL the time.  After her teacher announces that the third and fourth graders will be putting on a talent show, Clementine panics.  She doesn't sing or dance or play an instrument.  She can't even HOP with finesse.  And as if she didn't feel bad enough, her perfect best friend, Margaret, has so many talents, she has to alphabetize them to keep them straight.


As the night of the big "Talent-palooza" draws closer, Clementine is desperate for an act, ANY act.  But the unexpected talent she demonstrates at the show surprises everyone - most of all herself.

From Heather:  I love Clementine books!  They are absolutely adorable.  They are kind of like the Junie B. Jones books, only not so annoying.  She is charming and funny and her books are so fun to read.  Clementine's voice makes me laugh out loud. "Do you need me to spy on the sitter?  Make sure she doesn't smoke cigars? Or order things from the Shopping Channel? Do you think she's making phone calls to Australia?" or  "'I tried on all of the Popsicle sneakers.  The salesman asked me if I really had to test out each color by running across the store, climbing onto a chair, and then jumping off.  I guess he was new." 

As funny as she is, though, some of the things she says are pretty genius.  "My parents think I have a hard time choosing things, but that's not it.  I can choose things just fine.  The problem is, whenever you have to choose something, that means you have to not-choose about a hundred other things.  Which is not so easy."  Genius I say!  (So THAT'S why I have such a hard time choosing!)

The Clementine books also have a wonderful "supporting cast" too.  I love her principal, Mrs Rice.  She knows just the right way to work with Clementine...I wish all kids could be so lucky!  And her parents are not quite as crazy as some book parents.  (a huge pet peeve of mine, now that I'M the parent!)

I LOVE Clementine! Five Stars!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Timeless by Alexandra Monir


Synopsis (from goodreads.com):

When tragedy strikes Michele Windsor’s world, she is forced to uproot her life and move across the country to New York City, to live with the wealthy, aristocratic grandparents she’s never met. In their old Fifth Avenue mansion filled with a century’s worth of family secrets, Michele discovers a diary that hurtles her back in time to the year 1910. There, in the midst of the glamorous Gilded Age, Michele meets the young man with striking blue eyes who has haunted her dreams all her life – a man she always wished was real, but never imagined could actually exist. And she finds herself falling for him, into an otherworldly, time-crossed romance.
Michele is soon leading a double life, struggling to balance her contemporary high school world with her escapes into the past. But when she stumbles upon a terrible discovery, she is propelled on a race through history to save the boy she loves – a quest that will determine the fate of both of their lives.

Jillian’s Review:

Though not well written and a bit predictable, this novel had an enthralling storyline that kept me hooked the entire time and haunted my mind long after I finished the last page.

Unfortunately, Monir has a tendency to underestimate her readers' intelligence by constantly telling us the obvious. I'm surprised Monir's original profession is songwriting when the songs written in this novel were uninspiring and listening to them with music (Monir wrote and preformed the original songs available for download in iTunes) didn't help.
That being said, it was an intriguing story with a wonderful, sweet romance to keep me turning the page. Phillip is a great guy and I couldn’t get enough of him. Thankfully there were plenty of scenes with him. I appreciated that Michele is able to help so many people and in doing so she grew, developed and overcame her tragic past.

I can’t wait to read the next in this series, but I doubt I'll be purchasing the music any time soon.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Tall, Dark, and Determined by Kelly Hake

From Amazon:

Welcome to Hope Falls where three enterprising young females are accepting applications for husbands-for-hire. With one woman already snagged, Lacey Lyman is one of only two remaining. No one really catches her eye until a handsome hunter arrives. Will Lacey find a way to bag her prey? Determined to investigate why Hope Falls’s mine collapsed, Chase Dunstan poses as a potential husband and a hunter, giving him the perfect excuse to poke around inside and outside of town. If only he could get the chatterbox Lacey Lyman off his trail. Can he keep his cover while solving the mystery of the mine?


From Misty:

Five chapters into this book, I finally broke down and looked up the reviews on Amazon so I could figure out what the story was actually about.  Not a good sign, people. 

This is the second in Hake's Husbands for Hire series, and I think it has trouble standing alone, at least to start out with.  I'm assuming the first book, Rugged and Relentless, which I have not read, gives a lot of background that is both lacking and needed in this one.  It is not that the information was not there, only that it was not clear.  Five chapters in and I still did not know who the main characters were supposed to be, and when I read on Amazon that Chase Dunstan was the hero of this book, I thought, "Who?"  I had by this time read the name, of course, but Chase had been going by an alias and between that and the SO many other names in those first chapters (names I would have recognized if I had read the first book), I just could not separate him out from the all the others, and after a chapter or two, I didn't want to anymore.  Call me impatient.

Hake's writing is at times clever, but her style can be confusing as it jumps from scene to scene with no background information on the scene until a few scenes later.  So you eventually get the information, but not when your mind wants it. 

I love the title, the cover, the cute premise, even the story and much of the writing and the banter between the characters.  I definitely recommend Tall, Dark, and Determined to other readers.  But I was confused for so long that it took a lot of the enjoyment out of it for me.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Nourish & Strengthen by Maria Hoagland




This book was given to me by the author to read and review. Thank you so much for the opportunity.


On the back:
"Chloe Taylor has the perfect life; a model's figure, a husband who adores her, three healthy children. So why does she feel so much less than perfect?
After losing forty pounds, Chloe Taylor is finally happy with her body. What she doesn't realize is that she's not the one in control.
When Chloe is called as the Primary president, she discovers that managing the highs and lows of a chronic illness may be easier than the ups and downs associated with family, friends, and the church callings. Consumed b y her own challenges, Chloe fails to recognize the issues her friends are facing and is in danger of losing their friendship.
As Chloe strives to develop Christ-like love for herself and those around her, she learns that outer appearances are far less important than inner peace and spiritual strength. But is she strong enough to face her most difficult trial yet?"

My review:
This is a fictional book- possibly a self-help- about diabetes. For those just learning they or a loved-one has diabetes this book can help to show that life just got harder but not impossible.

I enjoyed the way the LDS families and women got together, but there was a lot of insecurity portrayed from all of the women the whole book through I didn't like.

Nourish & Strengthen seemed a bit unbelievable. The LDS women were completely stereotyped and said things that I believe I would never hear.

There are editing errors that distracted me and at times made it totally confusing. That is an easy fix for the next edition, though!

I had a hard time getting past the first half of the book. It was such a downer. I felt that this whole story was about a woman, Chloe, who we really never got to know because you could tell she was upset, sad, and most especially angry but these emotions were never completely expressed.

I liked the banter between Chloe and her husband. Shows I'm a romantic...
""Trust me, you are absolutely beautiful just the way your are." He smiled, the boyish dimple dipping in his left cheek."

It was nice for a mom and her children to have good relationships and show each other love. Not something you always find in a book about a family.

This book could be very popular. It is a book that didn't have highs and lows, kind of like the show Seinfeld.

I give Nourish & Strengthen 2 1/2 stars.

Friday, November 25, 2011

A Lawmans Christmas by Linda Lael Miller

From lindalaelmiller.com:

The sudden death of the town marshal leaves Blue River, Texas, without a lawman…and twenty-five-year-old Dara Rose Nolan without a husband. As winter approaches and her meager seamstress income dwindles, she has three options. Yet she won’t give up her two young daughters, refuses to join the fallen women of the Bitter Gulch Saloon and can’t fathom condemning herself to another loveless marriage. Unfortunately she must decide—soon—because there’s a new marshal in town, and she’s living under his roof.With the heart of a cowboy, Clay McKettrick plans to start a ranch and finally settle down. He isn’t interested in uprooting Dara Rose and her children, but he is interested in giving her protection, friendship—and passion. And when they say “I do” to a marriage of convenience, the temporary lawman’s Christmas wish is to make Dara Rose his permanent wife…

This book is exactly like every other Linda Lael Miller book. It's cute, it's fun, the characters are likeable, and the story is very predictable. =) That said, I really liked it. I would have liked it better if I had read it instead of listened to it (because I very muchly don't like the narrator that does all the Linda Lael Miller books) but I still enjoyed it.
This McKettrick book takes place in 1914 or 1915 with the grandson of Angus McKettrick (which is who the series starts with and every book refers back to him). Clay decides he needs to get away from the Triple M in Arizona and make his own way in life and find a girl who won't run away with one of his cousins. He agrees to be the town marshal in Blue River, Texas, and upon arrival meets the spunkiest little 6-year old girl he's ever met. Turns out, her dad was the marshal before, and she and her mom, Dara Rose, and sister are still living in the house that's promised to Clay as part of his contract from the town council. Clay immediately decided that Dara Rose is the woman for him, but she's going to need a little convincing.
This was a fun book. Mostly a clean read, although it seems like the epilogue might not be. I would recommend to anyone, and give it 4 stars. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Where The Mountain Meets The Moon by Grace Lin

Summary:  In the valley of Fruitless mountain, a young girl named Minli lives in a ramshackle hut with her parents. In the evenings, her father regales her with old folktales of the Jade Dragon and the Old Man of the Moon, who knows the answers to all of life's questions. Inspired by these stories, Minli sets off on an extraordinary journey to find the Old Man of the Moon to ask him how she can change her family's fortune. She encounters an assorted cast of characters and magical creatures along the way, including a dragon who accompanies her on her quest for the ultimate answer.

As I was wandering through the library, my lovely daughter handed me this book and said, "Here Mom, read this.  You might like it!"  I wasn't entirely sure I would, but I took the book anyway...you know, just to be nice.  I got home and tried reading a couple other books that I got at the same time and just couldn't get into them.  So I started Where the Mountain Meets the Moon and fell in love with it!

Lots of times when I was reading, I remembered watching Sagwa with my oldest daughter years ago.  It was about a family of cats who lived in China and they lived in the Emperor's palace.  Ring any bells?  Anyway, a lot of the stories and even the names of things reminded me of Sagwa!

The story starts out with a little girl named Minli.  She lives in a poor family.  They work hard in the rice fields every day and have little to show for it.  Her father tries to make the best of it and tells Minli stories at night after their meager dinner.  Her mother is sad and discouraged at their circumstances, and Minli picks up on her discontent.  (It makes me wonder how many times my own children pick up on my feelings, even when I think I'm hiding them so well!  Better be more careful!) 

After hearing one of her father's stories, Minli decides she will try to find the Old Man of the Moon and see if he will change their fortune.  She meets lots of friends along the way, but the friends I loved the most were the stories scattered throughout the narrative.  Minli will hear about a story, and then the story is written into the book.  It's quite clever the way it was done.  I love old Chinese folktales!

I really, really liked this book.  I really, really didn't want to, but my daughter was right...I really did like it!  I'd give the book 5 stars.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Poison Diaries by Maryrose Wood

Synopsis (from goodreads.com):


In the right dose, everything is a poison. Even love . . .

Jessamine Luxton has lived all her sixteen years in an isolated cottage near Alnwick Castle, with little company apart from the plants in her garden. Her father, Thomas, a feared and respected apothecary, has taught her much about the incredible powers of plants: that even the most innocent-looking weed can cure -- or kill.


When Jessamine begins to fall in love with a mysterious boy who claims to communicate with plants, she is drawn into the dangerous world of the poison garden in a way she never could have imagined . . .


Jillian’s Review:

I loved most of this book. It was intriguing and captivating. The main character, Jessamine, was a light in her dark world and she was so kind. Unfortunately she was also naive and blind to the truth that could have saved her a lot of grief.

And then enters Weed, the poor boy. I loved him from the start. There was something so mysterious and tragic about him. His connection to plants was fascinating however his background wasn’t as well developed as I would have liked.

But when Jessamine gets sick near the end of the book, the story turns really weird and evil. She has psychedelic visions and conversations with poisonous plants. Weed has to fulfill certain tasks given to him by those poisonous plants which he has to complete in order to save Jessamine from her sickness. These tasks grow in their horror and Weed does something unforgivable, something that goes against anything that could make a true hero, at least in my eyes. It was so upsetting to see him fall.

This story had such potential but it all ended in disappointment. I don’t think I can bring myself to read the next book in this series.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Memory Quilt by T.D. Jakes






On the inside flap:
"A perfect Christmas for Lela Edwards this year would include the presence of her husband, her three daughters, and her favorite granddaughter, Darcie. They would each be happy, healthy, and properly married. But life doesn't always unfold in a perfect way, even for God-loving, churchgoing people like these. Lela's husband of fifty years, Walter, has recently passed, and the daughters now live in towns and states far from the Chicago neighborhood where they were raised.
Darcie is traveling to Missouri City, Texas, to be with her mother, not to Chicago to be with her grandmother, whom she expects to come done hard on her for deciding to divorce her husband and the father of her unborn child. Lela is upset and annoyed with Darcie and herself for breaking her own time-honored tradition of making a quilt to celebrate each family wedding. The quilt is still in separate pieces, and apparently so is the marriage of Doug and Darcie.
The Christmas season is about celebrating the birth and meaning of Christ; about the hope and inspiration that the story we revisit each year offers. So, as the days of the season progress, Lela participates in a Bible study group that focuses on the Virgin Mary. This is the cold season in Chicago and rough weather, literally and figuratively, is ahead for Lela, her family, neighbors, and fellow church members, but in the Scriptures are messages and guidance. If they heed the lessons of the Virgin Mary, they will learn from their mistakes and misjudgments of each other and find favor with God."

I was not excited when this title showed up as our next book group book. I didn't realize that a book with Bible study and quilting could be so appealing. I found myself wanting to be a better person, a better mom. Anytime a book can motivate me to be better then it is worthwhile!

There are twists and turns that show a glimpse of what life can be like for some.
""I called your cell a hundred time, : said Eileen, as soon as Lela picked up. Eileen lived in the house next door on the right with her eighty-two-year-old father, James. "Why didn't you pick up?"
Lela crunched down her irritation. "I don't like using it."
"Why have a cell phone if you don't use it?"
"I'm sure you called for a reason, Eileen."
..."Daddy thinks he heard someone trying to break into your garage while you were away."
Lela listened but though, his imagination, more than likely. Wasn't it only last month that he thought he heard someone breaking into her house and called the police? Turned out to be only the wind.
"When I passed your garage, your door was wide open," Eileen said."

Lela- the mother in this book- has quite different relationships with each daughter she has. So true to real life. It helped me focus on individual personalities and appreciating each child for what they brought to the table.

I give The Memory Quilt 3 1/2 stars.

Friday, November 18, 2011

7th Heaven by James Patterson

I've been on a James Patterson kick lately. Not sure why. I'm not sure I even really like his stuff. It's okay and it keeps me entertained, but not really my cup of tea. So why do I feel like I have to finish this series? Not sure, but I do, and I will, and it will keep me entertained for another couple of boring nights at work. "The Women's Murder Club" series is mostly about policewoman Lindsay Boxer and the homicide cases she's currently working on. Occassionally the point of view switches to one of the other 3 members in the "club" or to the killer, but mostly it's about Lindsay. I like Lindsay. She's a good character. She's a good cop with good instincts and doesn't mind breaking the rules every now and then. Here's the synopsis of "7th Heaven" taken from jamespatterson.com:



A VERY PUBLIC DISAPPEARANCET The teenage son of California's ex-governor, Michael Campion has mysteriously vanished. Known as the "Boy with a Broken Heart" because of his incurable heart defect, Michael grew up under the eye of an adoring public. The pressure on Detective Lindsay Boxer to find Michael is overwhelming. When she finally does get a lead, it's devastating...
A DEADLY RASH OF ARSONS While working on the Campion case, Lindsay and her partner, Rich Conklin, also investigate terrifying fires that are destroying some of the most beautiful homes in San Francisco–and killing their owners in the flames. But when Lindsay invites her friends in the Women's Murder Club to help her uncover the arsonist, the blazes suddenly start to rage much too close to home.
A CHANCE AT 7TH HEAVEN Now as these two intense, demanding cases bring Lindsay and Rich closer together than ever, Lindsay will find herself on the brink of an emotional meltdown.


There were a few good twists and turns in this book that kept me guessing, although by the end, it wasn't too surprising. The characters are all well written and easy to like. I'm interested to see where the love interest for Lindsay goes in the next couple of books. There is a lot of swearing so if you don't like that, this is not the series for you, and there are some intimate scenes, however right now I can't recall how in depth they go, so if you also don't like that, don't read these. But if you like a good mystery and some fun detective work, you won't be disappointed in "The Womens Murder Club" series. Overall, I will give "7th Heaven" 4 stars.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Arthurian Omen...G.G. Vandagriff



Publisher's Note: Is the story of King Arthur history or myth? In this spellbinding novel, a Celtic scholar is murdered when she finds a clue to a priceless 13th century manuscript that will provide the true identity of King Arthur. The victim's sister takes up the quest to uncover the relic, but quickly realizes that someone close to her is the murderer. As pursuit of the manuscript winds through the ruined castles and monasteries of Wales, more than one reason emerges for keeping the manuscript and the legend buried in the past.

Mandi's Review: The story of King Arthur has always been one filled with mystery and intrigue. Purported as folklore by some and history by others, King Arthur has developed as a character of international interest and I have to admit, I fall in with the crowd. I love stories that evolve around the mystical King Arthur, so when asked to review The Arthurian Omen by G.G. Vandagriff, I happily jumped on board. The author weaves history, suspense, mystery and romance in a way that will leave readers turning the pages long into the night. Maren Southcott is a character who you can easily relate. She's vivacious, strong-willed, compassionate and makes mistakes like everyone else. Vandagriff does an excellent job capturing the essence and unique culture of the UK and her vivid descriptions will leave you yearning for a trip through Wales. I loved the images of the ancient ruins alongside green rolling hills and miniature streams. I thought the author did an excellent job keeping the suspense high until the very end. Throw in history, drug cartels, ancient manuscripts, and a kidnapping and I'm hooked. I give The Arthurian Omen 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Carnival Crime by Donald J. Sobol

I have always loved Encyclopedia Brown.  Ever since I was young, I've been fascinated by the short 5-page-long stories that tested my wit and powers of observation.  Back then I was always fascinated by the solution to the mystery...I rarely came up with it on my own.  (Even now as an adult I don't always get it!)

I read the latest Encyclopedia Brown book, Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Carnival Crime, this week and I loved it every bit as much as I did when I was nine years old!  I had no idea that Donald J. Sobol had written so many of the Encyclopedia Brown books...nearly thirty!  And they have never been out of print since they were first published in 1963.

I read the first mystery in the book with my nine year old daughter.  She loved trying to figure out who did it and laughed delightedly when she read the answer in the back of the book.  This book was a fun journey back to my childhood and I loved reading about Encyclopedia as much now as I did then!   4 stars!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier

Synopsis (from goodreads.com):
High in the Transylvanian woods, at the castle Piscul Draculi, live five daughters and their doting father. It's an idyllic life for Jena, the second eldest, who spends her time exploring the mysterious forest with her constant companion, a most unusual frog. But best by far is the castle's hidden portal, known only to the sisters. Every Full Moon, they alone can pass through it into the enchanted world of the Other Kingdom. There they dance through the night with the fey creatures of this magical realm.
But their peace is shattered when Father falls ill and must go to the southern parts to recover, for that is when cousin Cezar arrives. Though he's there to help the girls survive the brutal winter, Jena suspects he has darker motives in store. Meanwhile, Jena's sister has fallen in love with a dangerous creature of the Other Kingdom--an impossible union it's up to Jena to stop.

When Cezar's grip of power begins to tighten, at stake is everything Jena loves: her home, her family, and the Other Kingdom she has come to cherish. To save her world, Jena will be tested in ways she can't imagine--tests of trust, strength, and true love.
Jillian’s Review:
I couldn’t put this one down. The main character, Jena, is strong and believable. Though the second to the oldest, Jena assumes responsibility over the household when her father leaves to regain his health in a warmer climate. She’s caught in her cousin, Cezar’s, trap of lies as he tries to usurp her authority and take over their property.
Cezar is a true bad guy who I disliked from the beginning and my animosity towards him grows with each encounter Jena has with him. His beguiling tongue almost makes me believe what he says about only wanting to protect his five cousins, almost. I found myself oddly looking forward to each encounter with him because I couldn’t wait for his time of reckoning.
I loved Jena’s connection to her special friend, frog Gogu. No one truly believes that she can hear his thoughts and that he understands her when she speaks to him, but I did. I had high hopes for Gogu and I was not disappointed.
Every detail in Marillier’s novel emanates magic, even outside of the enchanted Other Kingdom. I can’t wait to lose myself in the sequel to this novel, Cybele’s Secret.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Geek Girl by Cindy Bennett

From Goodreads:

"Think I can turn that boy bad?" 17-year-old Jen turns her life upside down when, out of boredom, she makes a bet that she can turn school geek Trevor into someone like her. Instead, the goth girl finds herself sucked into his world of sci-fi movies, charity work, and even-ugh!-bowling. To truly belong with him-and with her new foster family-she must first come to terms with her violent past.

From Misty:

Filled with intelligent humor, playful banter, and heart-breaking revelations, Geek Girl is a move-to-the-top-of-your-to-read-list read. 

Jen defines herself by and hides behind her prickly black and blood-red exterior--the heavy eye make-up, the tight clothes, the piercings, the attitude.  She bets her friends she can turn Trevor bad and make him like them, but she quickly finds herself changing instead.  Trevor's unconditional acceptance provides the safe environment she needs to face down her abusive past and learn to let people in again.

Bennett's writing style is witty and relatable.  She manages to write snarky teenager without being, well, snarky.  Jen and Trevor are delightful together, and the entire cast of characters is well developed in just a few masterful strokes.  Geek Girl delves into the themes of judging others, being distrustful of the differences that make us unique, and of looking past those differences and loving beyond them.

I highly recommend Geek Girl to anyone, particularly teens.  Now, I'm off to hunt down Bennett's other book (Heart On A Chain).  If you need me, I'll be in my reading chair.

You can read more about author, Cindy Bennet, at www.cindycbennett.com, or check out other blogs on her Blog Tour by clicking Here.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Shifting by Bethany Wiggins




On the back cover:
"Where in the world did you come from? I thought. Shash turned and looked at me over his shoulder, tail wagging. Waiting for me to follow.
We ran through the town and back into the country. We wound our way through the bushes in a steady direction-home- when I smelled something that made me stop dead. Primitive instinct overtook all human control: Evil-RUN!
Up ahead Shash started barking- ferocious, murderous barking. And that is when I spotted the gleam of wet, mangy bodies through the narrow gaps in the trees.
Fear lent fresh speed to my legs. But whatever chased me was so unnatural, so malicious, it took sheer willpower not to lie on the ground, frozen with terror, and let it have me."

I knew I loved this book when for days after reading it I couldn't stop thinking about it. Maggie Mae is the main character whom I loved reading about. She is a down-to-earth girl that has been from foster home to foster home due to her family being killed. Her case worker has tried over and over to find her a home but when she starts getting picked up for indecent exposure he feels his hands are tied. He tried one more place. Somewhere in the country he feels trouble will be harder to find.

Maggie Mae still finds a way to not fit in, starting off by beating the whole track team her first day of school. Small town sports never like a new comer to be better than they are.
"Mist clung to my face, coating it with a sheen of moisture. My feet pumped, barely touching the ground, and within two seconds I had caught up to the track team. Then I passed them. All of them. I breezed by Coach-and the finish line- and kept following the curve of the track, my feet light as feather. A grin lit my face. Running, when bullies weren't after me, felt like flying. And I liked it.
As the first hurdle solidified out of the mist, I leaped and soared over it. The second hurdle was the same. I glided over, hardly impacting the ground when I landed, took a step, and leaped over the next. And the next, until I'd gone all the way around the track.
I couldn't stop grinning as I skidded to a stop a few yards from the Coach and the team.
"Show-off," someone murmured. "We're doing the fifty-yard dash, not hurdles." My smile faltered."

I breezed through and, even though I was dead tired, couldn't put it down till I was finished. No swearing, no sex. Full of romance and intrigue.

I give Shifting five stars. It is a book I would love to see as a series.




Thursday, November 10, 2011

Shades of Simon Gray

Written by: Joyce McDonald

Publisher's NoteSimon Gray is the ideal teenager — smart, reliable, hardworking, trustworthy. Or is he? After Simon crashes his car into The Liberty Tree, another portrait starts to emerge. Soon an investigation has begun into computer hacking at Simon’s high school, for it seems tests are being printed out before they are given. Could Simon be involved?

Simon, meanwhile, is in a coma — but is this another appearance that may be deceiving? For inside his own head, Simon can walk around and talk to some people. He even seems to be having a curious conversation with a man who was hung for murder 200 years ago, in the branches of the same tree Simon crashed into. What can a 200-year-old murder have to do with Simon’s accident? And how do we know who is really innocent and who is really guilty?

Mandi's Review:  Stories filled with mystery, intrigue and a bit of the paranormal are right up my alley. The story-line is suspenseful and the author does a wonderful job building a complex plot, but I felt the story moved too slow. The characters weren't flesh-out enough for my liking and I thought the conflict resolution should have wrapped up better. There were a lot of loose ends. However, the author is a wonderful writer. Her use of omniscient third person kept me turning the pages long into the night. I enjoy getting other character's perspectives. I think this book is great for advance middle-school or early high school readers and I would read more by this author in the future.  I give Shades of Simon Gray 3 out of 5 stars!


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Funny Little Dog by Kyle Mewburn

It's not midnight yet.  Yay!  =]

This week (ok, this afternoon...it's been a loooong week!) I read an adorable book called Funny Little Dog by Kyle Mewburn.  It's part of the Pop Hooper's Perfect Pets series and it was a wonderfully fun, quick read.

From the back of the book:  Flyn's idea of a perfect pet is a fierce guard dog.  He would call the dog Chomper, and use him to scare off the bullies.  But all Pop Hopper has to offer is a silly, round lapdog called Pumpkin.  There's no way Pumpkin could protect Flyn...is there?

From Kyle Mewburn's website  When I was growing up, my favourite pet was a dragon. Nobody would annoy me if I had a dragon! It could toast my bread in the morning, and roast marshmallows, too. Unfortunately, I never got a dragon. But in my new series - Pop Hooper's Perfect Pets, kids always get their perfect pet ... in the end. I haven't written a story with a dragon yet, but so far there's a cat, a dog, a turtle and a pony. 

From Heather  I've gotta say this was a charming book!  Flyn is getting bullied by Toby Downer and his gang.  He wishes he had a big, mean dog named Chomper to scare the bullies away and make him feel brave.  As he is running away from Toby, he meets Pop Hooper, who guarantees a Perfect Pet.  He doesn't have a dog like Flyn imagines, but suggests Flyn take Pumpkin home for the night to see if he can be responsible and take care of a dog.

It's one adventure after another all night, each reinforcing that Flyn is brave enough on his own.  As he takes care of Pumpkin, he does things that are hard for him, but he is so focused on helping Pumpkin that he forgets that it's hard.

I love stories like this.  I can tell my kids over and over and over that they are good and brave and that they can do hard things.  But it's different when they read about other kids doing hard things and surviving.  It was a wonderful, easy read, a little younger than middle grade.  

Heath McKenzie's illustrations are absolutely adorable, and liberally scattered throughout the book.  I think I will try to find some of Kyle Mewburn's other books...this one was great!

I give it 4 1/2 stars.