Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Forbidden Sea by Sheila A. Nielson

Tuesday got away from me again... let's just go back for a moment!
Synopsis (from
A mermaid haunts Adrianne's dreams . . . is she coming to warn her, save her, or drag her down into the depths of the briny sea forever? When Adrianne comes face-to-face with the mermaid of Windwaithe Island, of whom she has heard terrible stories all her life, she is convinced the mermaid means to take her younger sister. Adrianne, fierce-willed and courageous, is determined to protect her sister from the mermaid, and her family from starvation. However, the mermaid continues to haunt Adrianne in her dreams and with her song.

Jillian’s Review:
A refreshingly clean YA fantasy loosely based on Hans Christen Andersen’s The Little Mermaid. The story was great though Nielson has a tendency to tell rather than show. I really enjoyed reading about a young girl who had an amazing strength though wasn’t so strong she was unrealistic. I appreciated that the guy she loved didn’t even notice her. It was a great change from the usual YA where every guy notices the beautiful main girl and the guy she likes and she fall desperately in love with each other. That’s just not true to teenage life.

I wish more time had been spent underwater instead of the daily grind that Adrianne had to face. Some descriptions were a bit tedious and I found myself skimming through some of it. However, every character was realistic, the scenery was descriptive easy to envision, and it had a great ending.
This would be perfect for girls ages 10 up.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Escape by Barbara Delinsky

From Goodreads:
In her luminous new novel, Barbara Delinsky explores every woman’s desire to abandon the endless obligations of work and marriage—and the idea that the most passionate romance can be found with the person you know best. Emily Aulenbach is thirty, a lawyer married to a lawyer, working in Manhattan. An idealist, she had once dreamed of representing victims of corporate abuse, but she spends her days in a cubicle talking on the phone with vic­tims of tainted bottled water—and she is on the bottler’s side.

And it isn’t only work. It’s her sister, her friends, even her husband, Tim, with whom she doesn’t connect the way she used to. She doesn’t connect to much in her life, period, with the exception of three things—her computer, her BlackBerry, and her watch.

Acting on impulse, Emily leaves work early one day, goes home, packs her bag, and takes off. Groping toward the future, uncharacteristically following her gut rather than her mind, she heads north toward a New Hampshire town tucked between mountains. She knows this town. During her college years, she spent a watershed summer here. Painful as it is to return, she knows that if she is to right her life, she has to start here.

From Misty:
Funny.  I thought her husband's name was James.
I read a review of one of Barbara's books that said it was "vintage Delinsky."  Same goes for this one.  I've been in the mood for a Delinsky book lately, and I was so happy to find Escape at my local eLibrary.  It did not disappoint.
When I say I was "in the mood" for a Delinsky book, it's because she deals with meaningful issues and explores them from many angles.  She has a marvelous style, not to mention the skill  to make it all come together.  Can I just say how nice it was, calming actually, to read a book by a veteran author who really gets it?   
In Escape, Delinsky explores a lot of questions, most notably are we really living the lives we want to live, and if not, why?  She takes her character, Emily, back to the last time she can remember being truly happy, and lets her find her way again, only this time with the benefit of hindsight.
Not a light read, but meaningful, thought-provoking, and worth the investment of time.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Not Just Anybody Family by Betsy Byars

"When Junior Blossom wakes up in the hospital, his last memory is of crouching on the barn roof with cloth wings tied to his arms, and of Maggie and Vern in the yard below, urging him to fly. That had been just before Junior spotted a police car approaching the farm in a cloud of dust.

Meanwhile Pap, the children's grandfather, sits in disgrace in the city jail. He was arrested for disturbing the peace after his pickup truck accidentally dumped 2,147 beer and soda cans (worth $107.35) on Spring Street.

With their mother away on the rodeo circuit, it's up to Maggie and Vern to find a way to rescue Pap and Junior. How will they solve their family problems?"

Jennifer's Review:

This book and the following in the series are some of my favorite children's books. This is one I read to my sister when we were young and have since read to my kids. They enjoyed them almost as much as I did.

The characters are intriguing and definitely keep you guessing. They have such an interesting, upside down life you can't imagine what will happen next.

They are a tight knit family with a loyal dog. Just good clean fun! Great for all ages.

I give The Not Just Anybody Family five stars.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Tangled Hearts...

An LDS Romantic/Suspense novel written by Author Roseanne Evans Wilkins

Publisher's Note: Serra Lanning, known as the Chaste Mormon Model Kara Kukaanei, grew up in Salina, Kansas. She is living a lonely life. Her parents have died and her sister, Brooke, hasn't spoken to her in years. When Brooke shows up with her son in tow and asks Serra to watch him while she and her husband go on vacation to France, Serra's whole life is turned upside down. Serra's decision to hide from Brooke's in-law's create problems she doesn't anticipate. When the tires to her new SUV are slashed, she knows she has more to fear than having her nephew taken.

Mandi's Review: Tangled Hearts by Author Roseanne Wilkins is definitely a suspenseful, romantic read. Serra Lanning is a young, single clothing model living in New York City. Her life is ideal....and lonely, but when her sister, Brooke, whom she hasn't spoken to in years suddenly appears on her door step with a young toddler, Serra's life quickly turns upside down.  Then when Brooke and her husband die in an unexpected car crash, Serra must make a very difficult choice.... give up Mathew, her nephew, or run. She chooses to run, but what she doesn't expect is a series of set backs and terrifying events that will leave her dependent on a handsome stranger named Alec.  Wilkins has done a wonderful job creating a suspenseful and intriguing story.  The characters are believable, and Alec and Serra definitely have chemistry. The romance is fun, and the plot, entertaining. This is a clean, LDS-based  novel, and I recommend this book to anyone who loves a lot of romance and nail-biting suspense.  I really enjoyed this clean read! 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Thomas and the Dragon Queen by Shutta Crum

From the book: A kingdom is at war.
A princess has been kidnapped by a dragon queen.
A brave squire volunteers to set out on a quest to rescue her.

But there's just one small problem. He's Thomas, the shortest of all the squires. With little more than a donkey, a vest, and a sword, Thomas will have to use all of his courage and determination to battle a beast with many heads, reach a forbidden island, and rescue the princess from a most fearsome dragon-and an even more fearsome fate!

Part thrilling adventure and part enchanting fantasy, sprinkled with charming black-and-white illustrations, Thomas and the Dragon Queen will delight young readers from start to finish.

From Heather:  Thomas and the Dragon Queen is a charming book!  It's about a little boy named Thomas (obviously!) who is very short for his age.  As the story begins, Thomas rescues his little sister from being trampled by a knight who had fallen asleep on his horse.  The knight takes a liking to young Thomas and offers to take him to the castle to be trained as a knight.  The kingdom is at war and all of the available knights are out protecting the borders.  So younger and younger boys are training to become knights.

Which is great for Thomas.  He grew up hearing his father's stories about training to be a knight, although his Da, as he calls him, never actually became a knight.  So Thomas travels to the castle, makes friends with the princess and learns how to be a knight.  When the princess is kidnapped, he finds the king distraught and asks the king to make him a knight, promising to find the princess and bring her back.  So the king makes young Thomas a knight.

The rest of the story tells of Thomas' adventures in bringing back the princess.  When he finally meets the Dragon Queen, who had kidnapped the princess, he has nothing but himself to offer.  He lost his sword, his donkey (he's too small for a horse!) and his leather jerkin his father had given him.  He had nothing but his own skills and talents.  And he learned that he was enough.

I really liked this book.  I think it's always nice to be reminded that who we are doesn't depend on what we have.  Thomas was a charming young boy who was kind and thoughtful and brave.  And those are the things he needed to save the princess.  Five stars for this charming book!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Warped by Maurissa Guibord

Synopsis (from
Tessa doesn't believe in magic. Or Fate. But there's something weird about the dusty unicorn tapestry she discovers in a box of old books. She finds the creature woven within it compelling and frightening. After the tapestry comes into her possession, Tessa experiences dreams of the past and scenes from a brutal hunt that she herself participated in. When she accidentally pulls a thread from the tapestry, Tessa releases a terrible centuries old secret. She also meets William de Chaucy, an irresistible 16th-century nobleman. His fate is as inextricably tied to the tapestry as Tessa's own. Together, they must correct the wrongs of the past. But then the Fates step in, making a tangled mess of Tessa's life. Now everyone she loves will be destroyed unless Tessa does their bidding and defeats a cruel and crafty ancient enemy.

Jillian’s Review:
Tessa was an OK character. I didn’t quite get her. She was supposed to be kind of artistic, but didn’t think like an artist (apparently a common problem in YA novels). She lost her mother and sometimes seems to still be mourning that loss, but other times she seems perfectly fine.

Too much detail is given in the beginning of the book so that the reader already knows pretty much what’s happening and what’s going to happen. I like more mystery in my books.
Will, “the guy”, was stuck up and frustrating and I didn’t get why Tessa would fall head-over-heals in love with him in two days. It drives me nuts when characters fall in love within a day or two, even if they supposedly have some sort of reincarnated past with each other. At least the romance was clean, though, there was a bit of swearing.

The story itself was, although not well written, interesting and kept me interested. But I basically just glanced over the last quarter of the book to get through it. It’s interesting, but not enough that I would recommend it and certainly not enough to want to read it again.

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Next Door Boys by Jolene Perry

From Goodreads:
With her body still recovering from last year's cancer treatments, Leigh Tressman is determined to be independent. Despite the interference from her overprotective brother, physical frustrations, and spiritual dilemmas— not to mention the ever expanding line of young men ready to fall in love with her— Leigh discovers what it actually means to stand on her own and learns that love can be found in unexpected but delightful places.

From Misty:

This book was about cancer like The Book of Mormon is about Jesus.  Despite its universal coming of age theme, you have to be a Mormon to read this book.  But I don't mean that in a bad way. 

Cancer has such a tendency to overshadow everything else in a novel.  If there is cancer in a book, the book is about cancer.  This is generally very offputting for me.  Here's another review I did on a book about cancer, if you need an idea where I'm coming from on this review. 

All Leigh wants to do is be over cancer.  Chemo is over.  She's in remission.  But wait, she's not back to her old energetic self?  It's almost like this surprises her.  But it's less surprise and more denial.  I've been in the hospital, awake for days on end, SICK of needles, and SICK of doctors and especially nurses (fyi I hate doctors and nurses), so I could identify with Leigh just being sick of it all.  But otherwise, I think I would have thought she was a big baby and that she should just get over it.  She's asking for the impossible.  Despite a brief claim that she's at peace with life and death and infertility, she wants to have never been affected by cancer.  She's dealing with four main things: denial of not being 100 % yet, her overprotective friends and family, being in a major program that is unsuitable for her, and every boy in the book, much to her dismay, falling all over her.   

The reader has to make and accept a lot of assumptions about Leigh's illness.  You have to have a basic idea about what Chemo involves.  I think most people do, even younger readers, but Perry also expects the reader to have an understanding of the social and emotional repercussions a cancer diagnosis can have on the both the patient and the patient's caregivers.  The main action of this whole experience, Leigh getting a diagnosis and suffering through cancer and chemo, doesn't even happen in this book, so the whole book is sort of this long falling action from a climax we didn't get to see.  I think the relationship Leigh has with her brother, Jaron, is completely weird without this background and a major "eww" factor even with it.  I'm pretty sure I have never held hands with or placed my head on any of my brothers' shoulders, not even for one second of my life.  Ever.  And for someone who wants her independence so badly, I don't understand why Leigh still has this sicky, clingy, physical, flirty relationship with her brother.  But again, I come at this book with no background on Leigh's experience save a few brief flashback/explanations, and none of my own.  And I am kind of a robot when it comes to emotions, and my best friend had to teach me how to hug when I was like, eighteen.

Leigh's independence is a big issue for her.  But as a reader, I'm not sure what she is looking for independence from.  Her hovering mother?  Her illness?  Boys?  But she knows Jaron has been enlisted to hover in her mother's absence.  And she denies it, but there is no getting away from her illness.  And the boys?  She says she wants education, not boys, but...really?  If she broke up with her brother-boyfriend maybe she could see someone else...  Okay, that was a low blow.  I can understand not being in the market for a fella, but I really can't understand her alleged cluelessness about guys.  She says she was in with the wrong crowd in high school.  Did this crowd not include boys?  I'm trying to picture what a wrong crowd of just girls would be like.  I mean, in an LDS novel, the thing that would make a crowd of girls the wrong crowd, from and LDS standpoint, would be that they were going too far with boys.  Right?  Right?  I don't even buy that Leigh is not interested in boys--because she falls SO fast and SO hard when Noah walks in the door.  I don't care what she says out loud, every girl is interested in being loved.  Period.  Leigh treats the exteraneous boys like she treats cancer--ignore it and it will go away.

The narration of this story slips into "tell" instead of "show" a lot, but the story is interesting and the characters likable enough that it stopped mattering to me after a while. If not the most enjoyable narration style, the author made it work, and it was effective for this story.  Leigh learned and grew and matured, and the ending was good. 

It's sounding like I didn't like this book, and that is completely untrue.  I did like it.  I would recommend it to LDS fiction readers, and I would definitely look for more of Perry's books.

*Ebook obtained through

Saturday, February 18, 2012

House Rules by Jodi Picoult

On the cover:
"When your son can't look you in the eye...does that mean he's guilty?
Jacob Hunt is a teen with Asperger's syndrome. He's hopeless at reading social cues or expressing himself well to others, though he is brilliant in many ways. But he has a special focus on one subject - forensic analysis. A police scanner in his room clues him in to crime scenes, and he's always showing up and telling the cops what to do. And he's usually right.
But when Jacob's small hometown is rocked by a terrible murder, law enforcement comes to him. Jacob's behaviors are hallmark Asperger's, but they look a lot like guilt to the local police. Suddenly the Hunt family, who only want to fit in, are directly in the spotlight. For Jacob's mother, Emma, it's a brutal reminder of the intolerance and misunderstanding that always threaten her family. For his brother, Theo, it's another indication why nothing is normal because of Jacob.
And over this small family, the soul-searing question looms: Did Jacob commit murder?"

My review:

I did really like this book, however, I give great caution about the language used though out the book. So sad, really, as the book has amazing characters and a hugely pulling story. I didn't put it down for hours at a time.

It gave me a better understanding of Aspergers, too. Well put-together and super intriguing.

I give House Rules four stars!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Summer of Secrets...

A novel by Charlotte Hubbard

Publisher's Note: In the bestselling tradition of Beverly Lewis and Jan Karon, Hubbard presents a beautifully drawn new series, which follows the charming residents of Willow Ridge and the conflicts involving the old Amish ways in a modern world, and the temptations of leaving this plain heritage behind. Original.

Mandi's Review: Summer of Secrets by Charlotte Hubbard is a refreshing change from your ordinary romance. Set in a quaint Amish community in Missouri, Rachel Lantz is looking forward to her new life and marriage with Micah, her high school sweetheart. However, the sturdy foundation on which she has built her life begins to fall apart when a stranger unexpectedly turns up in town claiming to be Rachel's long-lost sister. The author has done a wonderful job creating a story based around strong family values and Christian morals. The characters are very well-rounded, and I loved Rachel's strength and courage as she faces her new trials. At times the plot moved a little slow, but this is a book I would recommend to anyone, and I'll definitely look forward to reading more by this author.  I give Summer of Secrets 4 out of 5 stars and congratulate Hubbard on a job well done.   

The Breakup Artist...

A novel by Shannen C. Camp

Publisher's Note: Breaking up with someone is a major pain—-unless you can hire someone else to do it for you! And Amelia demands top dollar for her professional break-up services. Everything's business as usual until David, one of the boys she's been hired to dump, throws her for a loop. Now she must decide if David's intentions are genuine, or if there's something sinister behind his flirting.

My Review: The Breakup Artist by Shannen C. Camp is just the sort of book that will leave you laughing until the very end. The plot is a fun, witty, and it's just the sort of book I love to read. Amelia, a high school teen, has created a very profitable business as a "breakup artist". You can pay her fifty bucks, and she'll dump your current boyfriend, leaving you free of guilt and free to pursue another crush. Amelia runs a professional business, and her busy schedule leaves her no time for relationships of her own, but she'd like to keep it that way. However, when she meets David, a boy she's been hired to dump, her carefully organized world begins to fall apart. Amelia is definitely a character to love. I loved her "professional" manner and her quirky personality. As the story progresses, you begin to realize the "whys" behind Amelia's choice of "profession", and you watch her grow and change until the very end. Author Shannen C. Camp does a wonderful job of building characters and plot. I highly recommend The Breakup Artist and congratulate the author on a job well done!

I have also had a chance to interview Shannen Camp and I hope you enjoy getting to know her better!

Meet Author Shannen C. Camp...

Tell us about yourself?    

I was going to copy and paste my little author bio here but who needs that when I can give you an 'off the top of my head and slightly inaccurate due to long hours at work' description? I like to write. A lot. I'm sure that's an obvious thing to say but it had to be said. I love to create in any way shape or form. Some days I'll come home and think "I need to create something" whether it's music, paintings, or stories. Is that odd? I can't help it. It's one of those little habits you just can't kick.
I guess I should also tell you the basics, like the fact that I was born and raised in California and I'm trying to cut my bad habit of writing all of my stories in California. I'm starting to know Utah better than CA now so maybe I'll set some stories here! I majored in Film at Brigham Young University and my emphasis was production design and makeup. Although I'm complete rubbish at 'pretty' makeup. I can only do special effects makeup. So if you're bored around Halloween time, come and see me!
I'm married to my high school lab partner and we have 489320842 names for children but no actual children yet... so I use all of the names on my characters :)

When did you first start writing? 

I started writing in the fourth grade. It was terrible. I tried so hard to write a Goosebumps type book but I made the mistake of abbreviating the title "Scared to Death" to STD, which I'm sure worried my fourth grade teacher just a little. I should publish that book one day, just so people can get a good laugh at all the horrible ways I accidentally used those three letters. Oops! I continued writing all through elementary school, junior high, and high school and finally finished a YA fantasy book in College. It's poorly written so I'll have to go back and fix it but literally right after I finished that one I wrote "The Breakup Artist". So I just haven't really stopped writing since the fourth grade.

How did you discover the idea for The Breakup Artist? 

I remember the exact moment I thought of this book. It was in 2008 and my brother was about to get married. I was sleeping on the floor in the office because of all of the family members who had come into town for the wedding and everyone was talking about love and marriage and relationships and I started wondering if there was some sort of job focused just on relationships. Somehow that led me to the idea of a professional breakup artist and a month later I had finished my book. So thanks, Jared for getting married!

How did you develop Amelia’s character? 

I feel like Amelia's character kind of developed herself. Initially she starts off kind of unlikable and snotty. She's got a big superiority complex and at times I found it difficult to balance showing her less-than-flattering side, while still trying to make the reader like her for how confused she was about her life. I feel like she kind of talks through growing up with the reader. She does it without realizing what's happening. I wanted people to see her as someone who didn't want to be awful, she just wasn't quite sure what else to be and she figures it out through slowly letting people in.

What other hobbies do you have besides writing?

I love to paint. I'm terrible at it really but I just love it. I'm a lot like Amelia actually in that I couldn't draw to save my life but I paint all the time. I also love video games, which is very nerdy of me :) My marriage is anti-stereotypical since my husband doesn't play video games at all and I'm a huge gamer. I also love to play music. Back when I had a piano I'd play all the time (apartments don't fit pianos very well) but now I mostly play guitar and flute because they're small and portable, though if you brought me a drum set I wouldn't be mad about it!

Thanks, Shannen!

To purchase your very own copy of The Breakup Artist visit Amazon
To learn more about Shannen visit her Blog at

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Red Pyramid (Kane Chronicles Book 1) by Rick Riordan

From rickriordan.comSince their mother’s death, Carter and Sadie have become near strangers. While Sadie has lived with her grandparents in London, her brother has traveled the world with their father, the brilliant Egyptologist, Dr. Julius Kane.

One night, Dr. Kane brings the siblings together for a "research experiment" at the British Museum, where he hopes to set things right for his family. Instead, he unleashes the Egyptian god Set, who banishes him to oblivion and forces the children to flee for their lives.

Soon, Sadie and Carter discover that the gods of Egypt are waking, and the worst of them--Set--has his sights on the Kanes. To stop him, the siblings embark on a dangerous journey across the globe--a quest that brings them ever closer to the truth about their family, and their links to a secret order that has existed since the time of the pharaohs.

I have had a fascination lately with Rick Riordan lately!  :)  I must, because I've read all of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians, the first two Heroes of Olympus books and now the first book of the Kane Chronicles.  I've liked them all.  I'm not sure which series I like better out of the three, but of the three, the Kane Chronicles is probably my least favorite.

I liked Carter and Sadie, although I have a hard time picturing Carter as black.  Strange, I know.  But that's not how I see him in my head.   (And Sadie is NOT black, which kind of plays with my head!)  I liked Sadie's character too, but I wish she didn't cuss quite so much.  I know, I hear it all the time, but I don't picture Sadie as that kind of person, so it seems really out of character.  I don't was hard to pin their characters down.  Maybe as I read more of the series, it will get better.

The narration jumps between Carter and Sadie, and I think that really works.  It's fun to see each of them from their sibling's perspective.  And to get a different view on events in the book.

Overall it's a great book.  I'd give this one 4 stars.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale

Synopsis (from
When Dashti, a maid, and Lady Saren, her mistress, are shut in a tower for seven years for Saren's refusal to marry a man she despises, the two prepare for a very long and dark imprisonment.
As food runs low and the days go from broiling hot to freezing cold, it is all Dashti can do to keep them fed and comfortable. But the arrival outside the tower of Saren's two suitors--one welcome, and the other decidedly less so--brings both hope and great danger, and Dashti must make the desperate choices of a girl whose life is worth more than she knows.
With Shannon Hale's lyrical language, this forgotten but classic fairy tale from the Brothers Grimm is reimagined and reset on the central Asian steppes; it is a completely unique retelling filled with adventure and romance, drama and disguise.

Jillian’s Review:
I know many people thought this book to be a really slow read, but I loved it from beginning to end—both times through. I love—LOVE—Dashti. I love that she’s strong, sensible, and positive. Even when locked in a tower with the sulky and unstable Lady Saren, Dashti manages to look on the bright side of things. “And here’s the bit that makes me tremble with delight—in our cellar there is a mountain of food! … Seven years’ worth. Such a thing I never imagined. Even though I can’t see the sky, it’s hard not to want to dance about, knowing that for seven years at least I won’t starve.

After a couple of years and the loss of an enormous amount of food because of a rat infestation and a Lady who won’t stop gorging herself, Dashti is a little less lighthearted and somewhat bitter. However, she never lets it get the better of her. She pushes forward, believing it an honor or at least somewhere close to an honor to serve a Lady.

And then enters the dashing Khan Tegus. Ooh, I liked him from the start. He’s kind and thoughtful and appreciates Dashti for who she is. It probably helps that their first couple of encounters they don’t see more than each others' ankles (thanks to the fact that Dashti is still locked in a tower with a slightly insane Saren). I love how the story progresses and ends. Yay, a happy ending.

Hale has a great talent for describing every detail so that it’s vivid and bringing each character to life, with just the right twist of humor thrown in. I had the perfect quote from the book as an example, but I can’t find it now. I guess you’re just going to have to read it and find out for yourself how great this book is.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen

From Goodreads:
It’s been so long since Auden slept at night. Ever since her parents’ divorce—or since the fighting started. Now she has the chance to spend a carefree summer with her dad and his new family in the charming beach town where they live.

A job in a clothes boutique introduces Auden to the world of girls: their talk, their friendship, their crushes. She missed out on all that, too busy being the perfect daughter to her demanding mother. Then she meets Eli, an intriguing loner and a fellow insomniac who becomes her guide to the nocturnal world of the town. Together they embark on parallel quests: for Auden, to experience the carefree teenage life she’s been denied; for Eli, to come to terms with the guilt he feels for the death of a friend.

In her signature pitch-perfect style, Sarah Dessen explores the hearts of two lonely people learning to connect.

From Misty:
For the current blog hop and because it's so close to Valentine's day, I made everyone who entered tell me the name of a character from a book they have fallen in love with.  I've actually been thinking about this phenomenon for a while because I want to do a post on my personal blog about all the characters I have fallen in love with over the years.  I guess what's stopping me is being unsure whether my characters are quality enough to blog about.  But, hey, you can't help who you fall in love with, right?

Well, if I ever wrote the definitive list, Eli from Along for the Ride would be right near the top of it.  Eli has already worked through a lot of his guilt, and he can't help himself when it comes to sharing what he's learned with Auden.  But he is all too aware that he doesn't have all the answers.  Eli doesn't mix romance in right away, though you know it has to be a factor, because he knows neither of them are in the right place for it.  I really think that was a conscious if not deliberate decision on his part.  Eli has such an endearing mix of stregth and vulnerability that I think about this story long after I've read the book and find myself wishing I knew him.

Eli's vulnerability lends Auden's character strength, which is nice so that you don't get the feeling she's just another annoying teen in a YA read who doesn't know anything and never will, a dangerous line YA authors approach when they try to be realistic.   

If you haven't read any of Dessen's books, I highly recommend them.  Expect to be uplifted and to learn something about yourself.  I haven't read them all, just three or four.  I've liked everything I've read, but not as much as the cute covers promised me I would.  But...I blame the covers for that, not the content. 

Remember, the Follower Love Giveaway Hop ends tomorrow.  To enter, go Here and tell us who you love in literature!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Being The Mom by Emily Watts

On the back cover:


Actually, they're both real. You're likeliest to catch Family One for about three hours on Sunday or on a few other special occasions. The rest of the time, look for Family Two. We're happy either way.
In Being the Mom, you'll learn some practical strategies for building a strong family that can be comfortable in a variety of situations. Beyond that, you'll figure out how to keep your sanity when all about you are losing theirs.
Most of all, you'll find that with a lot of love and a good sense of humor to provide perspective, "being the mom" can be done lots of ways. Your way may just be better than you thought!"

As a mom, I know first hand how hard things can be and how tough times can get. I got this book in a time when I was truly struggling and felt I must be the worst mom in the world.

Emily Watts made me laugh and understand that being a mom is so different for everyone. She reminded me not to compare myself to others. I am doing the best I can, just as they are.

Here are a few of the chapter titles;

"Instead of Acquiring More Things, Use the Things You Have More Creatively."

"Know When to Holler for Help."

"Remember That the Years Fly By, Even though Some of the Days Are Mighty Long."

Little ideas like not feeling bad for having store-bought pre-made meals in the freezer for the times when you don't have time to cook or just don't feel like it. It is great to make things from scratch...and it is okay to NOT make things from scratch.

This book is full of Emily's great sense of humor and the humility she has learned over years of mothering.

Great book! Definitely four stars earned!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Delirium (Delirium, Book 1) by Lauren Oliver

Synopsis (from
Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing. They didn’t understand that once love -- the deliria -- blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the government demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holoway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy.

But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love.

Jillian’s Review:
If you’ve read Matched then don’t bother reading this one. It’s almost the same as Matched, but the society is even more underdeveloped. Also, the thing that makes the society in Delirium so freaky (making people have a surgery to keep them from feeling love) was too unrealistic.

The characters were realistic enough. I enjoyed the main girl, Lena’s, personality but I liked her friend even more. THE GUY was great. I really liked him. The chemistry between Lena and said boy was pretty terrific and I was rooting for them the whole way through. I really cared about Lena’s youngest cousin and hoped Lena would [spoiler alert] take her with her when she left, but there was a good enough resolution that I was satisfied.

But the ending [spoiler alert]… I HATE sad endings and this one was sad. It could have totally been written differently. I understand that not every story is going to have a happy ending, but this one stunk. I may read the next one in the series Pandemonium (expected released date February 28, 2012) just so I know what happens to poor Lena.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Follower Love

Be our Valentine!

Enter to win a grab bag of bookish things Feb. 7th-Feb. 14th!  Open to US entries only.

To enter our Giveaway, become a GFC follower and leave your email address in the Comments along with your answer to these questions:
Who is one character you have fallen in love with and in what book did you read about him/her?

Good Luck! 

Click the button to return to the linky on I am a Reader Not a Writer.

Peony in Love by Lisa See

From Goodreads:
“I finally understand what the poets have written. In spring, moved to passion; in autumn only regret.”

For young Peony, betrothed to a suitor she has never met, these lyrics from The Peony Pavilion mirror her own longings. In the garden of the Chen Family Villa, amid the scent of ginger, green tea, and jasmine, a small theatrical troupe is performing scenes from this epic opera, a live spectacle few females have ever seen. Like the heroine in the drama, Peony is the cloistered daughter of a wealthy family, trapped like a good-luck cricket in a bamboo-and-lacquer cage. Though raised to be obedient, Peony has dreams of her own.

Peony’s mother is against her daughter’s attending the production: “Unmarried girls should not be seen in public.” But Peony’s father assures his wife that proprieties will be maintained, and that the women will watch the opera from behind a screen. Yet through its cracks, Peony catches sight of an elegant, handsome man with hair as black as a cave–and is immediately overcome with emotion.

So begins Peony’s unforgettable journey of love and destiny, desire and sorrow–as Lisa See’s haunting novel, based on actual historical events, takes readers back to seventeenth-century China, after the Manchus seize power and the Ming dynasty is crushed.

Steeped in traditions and ritual, this story brings to life another time and place–even the intricate realm of the afterworld, with its protocols, pathways, and stages of existence, a vividly imagined place where one’s soul is divided into three, ancestors offer guidance, misdeeds are punished, and hungry ghosts wander the earth. Immersed in the richness and magic of the Chinese vision of the afterlife, transcending even death, Peony in Love explores, beautifully, the many manifestations of love. Ultimately, Lisa See’s novel addresses universal themes: the bonds of friendship, the power of words, and the age-old desire of women to be heard.

From Misty:
I read this a few days ago, and I'm still wondering what to say about it.  I'm about equal parts like and dislike on this book.

This is definitely not a traditional romance novel, and yet the story is based entirely on love.  But if you read it for that, you completely miss the point.

There is a pretty unsettling description of the practice of foot-binding in the book, but it is accompanied by a powerful description of (one opinion) why the women did it.  Peony's mother insists it is a sign of power--the Manchus can invade their country but they cannot stop them from binding their feet.  In comparison to this, consider that from this time in Chinese history come the first published women writers in the history of the world.  I have to tell you, that kind of hit home for me.

Characterizations, plot, setting, historical details, historical significance--all skillfully depicted.  Not a light, fluffy read, but I definitely recommend it to those interested in a read that will make an impact on them.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

A Reluctant Queen the Love Story of Esther by Joan Wolf

On the back cover:
"You've read it as a biblical tale of courage. Experience it anew as a heart-stirring love story.
She was a simple girl faced with an impossible choice. He was a magnificent king with a lonely heart.
Their love was the divine surprise that changed the course of history.
The beloved story of Esther springs to fresh life in this inspired novel that vibrates with mystery, intrigue and romance."

My review:
If you know the story of Esther in the bible by heart you probably won't like this book. It veers from the bible story and has fictional turns that I quite enjoyed. I don't know the story past Esther saving her people by showing herself to the king and him allowing it because of his love for her.

A Reluctant Queen is a beautiful love story, and I was so ready for a beautiful love story. A girl brought up in the Jewish community by her uncle. She is taken out of that innocent world into the palace where she is to try for the king's hand.

There is one part, before she is let into the harem, that was disturbing and I had to kind of skip over.

I've read a few reviews that complained about the "sex" in the book. I am shocked. There was passion but no sexual details.
"Then he leaned forward and kissed her mouth. It was not like the brief kiss he had given her in the bridal tent. This was a long kiss, a kiss that began tenderly but one he soon deepened and made slightly more demanding. She was passive at first, hesitant to respond, but then, as he continued the kiss, asking patiently, she opened her lips. After a while, her hands came up to hold his shoulders. Carefully he laid her back on the bed, continuing to kiss her as his hands began to move, slowly and knowledgably, over her body. Esther closed her eyes."
That is the first "sex" scene. That is where the chapter ends.

No cussing, a bonus in my book! I really enjoyed this book and felt happy for days following.

I give A Reluctant Queen; The Love Story of Esther four stars.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Delivering Hope...

Publisher's Note:  Olivia Spencer wants to be a mom more than anything else in the world, but years of infertility have wounded her soul and strained her marriage.

Allison Campbell is a recent high school graduate who discovers that a moment of excitement has led to an unplanned pregnancy and an overwhelming heartache.

Mandi's Review: Delivering Hope by up-and-coming author Jennifer Ann Holt is a must read for any women or teenage girl. Olivia and her husband, Michael, are struggling with the heart-wrenching trauma of infertility. They long to be parents, and Holt's portrayal of Olivia's emotions and pain is as real as life gets. Having recently discovered and entered into my own battle with infertility, I understand this pain. At times, Olivia's story was difficult to read, and many moments brought me to tears. Soon, however, enters Allison Campbell. Allison is 18, and after making a life changing mistake, she finds herself pregnant and alone. The father of the baby encourages Allison to abort their baby, but with the guidance of her loving bishop and the help of Family Services, Allison decides to make the most unselfish sacrifice of all...Delivering Hope is a heart-warming, heart-tugging story, filled with love and hope. This story with its dynamic characters will stay with you long after you've turned the last page. I give Delivering Hope 5 out 5 stars.

To purchase your copy visit Amazon today!
To learn more about Jennifer Ann Holt visit her Blog today!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Persuasion by Rebecca H. Jamison

I am so lucky today to be a part of the Blog Tour for the book Persuasion: A Latter-Day Tale!

From the back of the book:  "I saw him.  We spoke.  Now I have nothing to worry about.  We can treat each other as old friends...But all the logic in my brain can't change my feelings.  Eight years might as well be eight days.  I still love him."  
When Ann broke off her engagement seven years ago, she thought she'd never see Neil Wentworth again.  But when Neil's brother buys the house she grew up in, it seems fate has other plans in store, and Anne is woefully unprepared for the roller coaster of emotions that come when Neil returns and starts dating her younger friend.
Convinced that Neil could no longer have strong feelings for her, Anne pushes away all thoughts of the past.  But when the handsome man she's been dating decides he can't live without her, Anne must come to terms with her past.  Fans of Persuasion will love this fast-paced, modern version of Jane Austen's most romantic novel.

From Heather:  If you have read any of my reviews before, you'll know that I'm not very good at digging into a book and finding deeply hidden meaning in the pages.  I never have been.  In fact, I'm pretty sure that I slept through most of my high school English classes.  And it wasn't that I didn't like to read...I LOVED to read!  But I wanted to read what I wanted to read!  THIS was a book that I wanted to read.  The premise appealed to me, and the book didn't disappoint!

Rebecca Jamison has done a wonderful job with her characters.  It's so fun to watch Anne and Neil being unintentionally thrust into situations together, knowing what has happened between them in their past.  It's fun being able to see that they belong together, but watch them NOT know it!  I loved that dynamic, and it was written SO well!  My heart breaks for Anne and Neil and the time that they lost together, but I wonder what kind of people they would have been had they not gone through the separation.  The flashbacks into Anne's life when she was dating Neil were fun to read as well.  They were written as journal entries at the beginning of each chapter, and it was so fun to see how things HAD been between them and the things that happened in each of their lives to make them do what they did!

I've got to say, Neil was my absolute favorite character!  He's charming and thoughtful and kind and a police officer (yay!) and an all-around wonderful guy.  He probably even rushes into burning buildings to rescue stray kittens!  If there was one character in any book that I would love to know in real life, it would be Neil Wentworth! 

Like I say, I'm not much into thinking too much about what I read.  I know what I like and what makes me feel like I'm better off for having read.  And I really, really liked Persuasion!  (Now I may have to go check out Jane Austen's Persuasion and see how it compares!)  The characters were well written and engaging.  I couldn't wait to see what would happen to them.  The creepy characters were sufficiently creepy (although I wish Will had had a different name...I kept getting Neil and Will mixed up.  Which is sad because Neil was SO wonderful and Will was SUCH a creep!)  I absolutely gave Persuasion 5 stars and I can't wait to see what Rebecca Jamison comes up with next!

While I was given a copy of Persuasion: A Latter-Day Tale by the author, all of the opinions expressed in this review are my own.