Saturday, March 31, 2012

Life As We Knew It by Susan Pfeffer

On the back cover:

"When Miranda first hears the warnings that a meteor is headed on a collision path with the moon, they just sound lie an excuse for extra homework assignments. But her disbelief turns to fear in a split second as the entire world witnesses a lunar impact that knocks the moon closer in orbit, catastrophically altering the earth's climate.

Everything else in Miranda's life fades away as supermarkets run out of food, gas goes up to more than ten dollars a gallon, and school is closed indefinitely.
But what Miranda and her family don't realize is that the worst is yet to come.

Told in Miranda's diary entries, this is a heart pounding account of her struggle to hold on to the most important resource of all - hope - in an increasingly desperate and unfamiliar time."

"In 2007 it was named as one of the Best Books For Young Adults by the American Library Association and placed seventh in the Teens' Top Ten vote, also run by the ALA. In addition, Life As We Knew It was a finalist for the Andre Norton Award, the Quill Awards and the Hal Clement Award." Wikipedia

Jennifer's Review:

While reading this book I kept thinking that it was really happening, telling me how well written it is. A wonderful story line to remind us of how fragile our lives really are. How in an instant things can change drastically and how we need to be prepared. I'm grateful the prophets have all warned us to have food storage and 72-hour kits.

The book is Miranda's diary starting out with complaining about little things like not being able to ice skate and will she be able to compete in swimming. Things that are huge to her... until the meteor that is exciting to everyone on earth turns into danger and the unknown.

Miranda and her family try desperately to just stay alive while others around them are dying from starvation, freezing temperatures in the late summer, and the flu.

I was near the beginning of the book when my 10-year old wanted me to read aloud. After reading one page she said, "Mom, that is scary." I didn't read any more to her. It got much scarier so I would cation all parents about age limits on this book. I want to have my 7th grader read it but am not sure even she is ready. I believe the recommended age is 9th grade.

We cannot live in fear but we can sure try to be ready for disaster. (That is what I keep telling myself so I am not afraid.)

I give Life As We Knew It four stars.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Sleight of Hand...

Publisher's note: Is it possible to con your way out of hell? Fifty-two year old Daniel Cabrero thinks so and why wouldn’t he? That’s how he spent his entire life. But Jonah his spirit guide has reasons of his own for making sure Daniel pays for all the suffering and misery he’s caused others. Still sometimes people can change, even in hell. And maybe Daniel can keep his son from following the same path.

Mandi's Review: Sleight of Hand by Deanne Blackhurst is a story about a middle-aged man named Danny, who has led a very baneful existence. He is a con man and a thief. The story begins in the middle of a con gone wrong. Danny unexpectedly suffers a heart attack and dies. He is then transported to a place called "Wasteland" where he meets his spirit guide, Jonah. At first, Danny is impressed with "Wasteland". He is given everything he could have hoped for; his dream cabin nestled in the majestic forest, all the food and beer he can consume, and a comfortable spot to rest overlooking a beautiful lake. He is smug and very self-assured until he realizes that the food does not fill, the beer does not satisfy, and he is completely alone (except for Jonah). He soon learns that in order to leave "wasteland" he is required to pay for all of his sins and misdeeds. He is forced to feel the pain of those he hurt and swindled. Guilt, sadness, despair, and physical pain are emotions Danny never expected. As the story unfolds we learn more about Danny and his wrongdoings. We follow his journey of remorse and his spirit-battle to atone for his sins.

When I first began this story, I was immediately hooked. The story-line and concept of Danny's journey through "Wasteland" was intriguing and unique. It kept me turning the pages long into the night. Danny's story wasn't a happy story, but it was a story that made you think and reflect on your own life and misdeeds. I liked Blackhurst's approach and although the story countered my belief in the afterlife, I thought it was a fun book. Blackhurst's ability to vividly describe the landscape and accurately depict the particular mood of a scene was impressive.Some mild language was tossed in throughout the story, but overall, I found Sleight of Hand a very interesting read. This book is available through Smashwords.

To learn more visit about the author visit

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Right Click by Susan Aylworth

Ok, I promise this will be the last book (for a while!) that I review that isn't middle grade!  Honest!  (I think!)  Anyway, I commented on another post that I had gone to the library, skimming the shelves for a new book to read.  I picked up five random books.  And all five were LDS fiction books.  Strange.  I can't decide if there is something subliminal about the covers or the size of the books that speak to me, but it was the strangest thing!

Anyway, on to the book.  I decided to review Right Click by Susan Aylworth today.  Because I really, really liked it!  I picked it up on Monday because I had a few minutes before I had to pick my girls up from school.  (Not enough time to go home or do anything really except go to the library...honest!)  Anyway, I started reading the book while I was waiting in the carpool line.  (45 minutes a day!  Seriously?!?)  I couldn't put it down.  I got my girls home (I didn't read while I was driving...honest!  Well, at least not much!)  and let them entertain themselves while I finished.  I got done right before it was time to make dinner.  Whew!

From the back of the book:  On the day Sarah Kimball planned to mail out wedding invitations, her fiancĂ©, Kyle, trampled her heart with this confession: his supposedly ex-girlfriend is pregnant, and he’s the father. Talk about shock!

Six months later, Sarah is moving forward as a successful teacher with her own home and a fabulous roommate. Her exasperating yet adoring family members are setting her up with every eligible man within reach—even virtually. Sarah thinks she has everything under control—until a few wrong clicks prove otherwise.

Searching her soul, Sarah confronts deep humiliation and anger over Kyle’s betrayal. As fierce pride claws her from within, she seeks healing through the Savior’s tender mercy. When Sarah meets Craig, who was also badly wounded by love, she finds another chance at happiness—but can both of them leave their painful pasts behind and fully embrace the freeing power of forgiveness?

From Heather:  There were so many things that I loved about this book.  Yes, it is pretty typical LDS fiction and had quite a few LDS references.  Yes, it was a little preachy at times, which I generally don't like.  (Show me what you believe...don't tell me!)   But it was a wonderful book!  I loved Sarah and the journey she made and the changes that she made in her life.  I like that she doesn't always do things right.  She is still pretty hurt over her ex-fiance and because of that she has a hard time letting people in.  Not just romantically, but everyone: her family, her coworkers, her roommate.  But as the story progresses, she realizes what needs to be done and does it.

I love her chance encounter with Craig Emory and the relationship that evolves.  I love that the focus isn't so much on finding a man as being happy with who she is - the husband is just icing on the cake.  I love that Sarah has a chance to see things from possibly Kyle's perspective and she chats with a young mother while doing her laundry.  I love the workings of fate as you can see things happen to her that seemed hard, but then wonderful things came out of the trials.  I loved that!  Because sometimes in the middle of trials, it's hard to realize that there is a purpose and a plan.

The only thing I didn't like were the names of her roommate Shari and her daughter Kerry.  It was so confusing to have a Sarah and a Shari and a Kerry.  (In fact, in one place at the end of the book Shari was spelled Sherry...)  But if that's my only complaint, it's not too bad.  I'll give the book 4 1/2 stars and hope to read more from Susan Aylworth in the future!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Summers at Castle Auburn by Sharon Shinn

Synopsis (from
As a child, Coriel Halsing spent many glorious summers at Castle Auburn with her half-sister-and fell in love with a handsome prince who could never be hers. But now that she is a young woman, she begins to see the dark side of this magical place...

Jillian’s Review:
This was a fun, wonderfully descriptive read. Cori, the main character, has a great personally with plenty of room to grow, and she does just that through the novel. I loved that she was blind to the vises of the boy she crushes on, just like we usually are at fourteen (or any age for that matter!), and then as she grows older her eyes are opened more and more.

There were many great, realistic side-characters who easily feel like friends—or villains, depending on who we’re talking about. Even the “villains” weren’t all bad, which made them all the more realistic.

I couldn’t decide who I liked best between the two boys that were obviously the ones Cori would choose between and I felt the way it all ended up was a bit rushed. Too many pages were used up on unimportant content that could have been cut, leaving room for a less hurried, more realistic ending. But at least this one had an ending and a happy one at that.

A fun, clean read for girls 10 and up (though there are a few cuss words that felt completely out of place from the rest of the novel).

Monday, March 26, 2012

Where She Went by Gayle Forman

From Goodreads:
It's been three years since the devastating accident . . . three years since Mia walked out of Adam's life forever.

Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Juilliard's rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia's home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future - and each other.

Told from Adam's point of view in the spare, lyrical prose that defined If I Stay, Where She Went explores the devastation of grief, the promise of new hope, and the flame of rekindled romance.

From Misty:
Fantastic book.

I've read a lot of reviews of Where She Went, mostly good, some negative. The negatives all have to do with the language and content, not the writing or the story. To be honest, I don't even recall there being language in it. I think that might be because I listened to it instead of read it. I mean, think about it. How much more do you put up with on TV than you would in a book (here's a hint: it's a lot)?  So, for me, the language was not an issue at all, but for some (better) people, it will be.

Where She Went is the follow up to If I Stay, a story about a prodigy cellist, Mia, whose family is involved in a car accident. They all die but her. While she is in a coma, she flashes back on her relationships with her family, friends, and boyfriend, Adam.

This book is written from Adam's perspective three years later--after his rock band has become successful and after Mia moved away and let their relationship fade into nothing. He can't understand why and lives recklessly because of it, because of his grief. Basically, he doesn't have closure, and they were so close in the first book that you wonder if he could ever even get it. During a chance meeting, the two reconnect and explore the whys and how comes of the past, hurtful three years apart.

I hadn't really planned to review this book here at Six Mixed, but, like with Eli from Along For the Ride, I can't get Adam out of my mind. The first book, If I Stay, is decidedly better than this one (this reads kind of like a long epilogue in the same way Enduring Light does), but Adam's story is more compelling than Mia's. His story does not have the shock and awe factor of Mia's accident, of her father's brains on the highway. It does not need that in order to entwine itself around your heart as each new layer of his emotions are revealed.

Unless you're squeamish about language, I highly recommend both of these titles to anyone interested in a character driven exploration of loss, grief, hope, unbreakable love, and how they affect relationships.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Just One Bite by Kimberly Raye

On the back cover:
"The stakes have never been higher. Lil Marchette, vampire extraordinarie and owner of Manhattan's hottest hook-up service, is an expert at matching up the lonely and desperate (and sometimes dead). And thanks to the popular local reality dating show Manhattans' Most Wanted, Lil has plenty of fresh blood to add to the mix- including the biggest, baddest vampire in the Big Apple. Vinnie Balducci, Brooklyn representative for the Snipers of Otherworldy Beings, is making Lil an offer she can't refuse: find him the perfect woman or she's going to be swimming with the fishes.
But Lil may not be the only one taking the plunge. The three hunky demon Prince brothers are poking around Lil's office- hot on the trail of a rogue spirit trying to escape the land down under (not Australia)by possessing some poor, clueless human soul. Then Lil makes a startling discovery: The oblivious human vessel is none other than her loyal assistant, Evie. Between saving Evie from eternal damnation and saving herself from Vinnie's lethal Ultimatum, Lil is sure to b in for the most hellish ride of her afterlife."

Jennifer's review:
I don't always read the whole book description because I don't want to know everything that is going to happen. Needless to say, I only read about half of the first paragraph when I picked this up. Not sure if I would have gotten it if I'd read the whole thing. Maybe.
This is book 4 in Raye's series of Dead-End Dating novels. (Didn't know that either.) The good thing is that you don't have to read the first three to be completely clued in to what the story line is. Everything is spelled out for you within the first couple of chapters.
The first page talks about S-E-X so I was quite nervous as to what I would find. According to Raye, vampires are extremely sexual. I was happy to find that there wasn't anything over the top... until about three chapters before the end of the book. Wow. Definitely not what I want to read. Keep that stuff for the smut novels.
I didn't hate the book but wasn't impressed with all the demon talk, sexuality, and language.
Anyway, not a book I would recommend and I will be trying to get rid of it pronto.

I give Just One Bite two stars.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Secret Sisters by Tristi Pinkston

Ida Mae Babbitt, president of the Omni 2nd ward Relief Society, didn't mean to become a spy. But when visiting teaching stats are low and she learns that one family under her care is in financial trouble, she'll do whatever it takes to make sure they have what they need. If that includes planting surveillance cameras in their home and watching them from a parked car in the woods, well, isn't that what any caring Relief Society president would do?

With the help of her counselors Arlette and Tansy, Ida Mae soon learns that there's more to the situation than meets the eye. It's all in a day's work for the Relief Society.
From Heather:  
On March 8th, Mandi reviewed a book called Targets in Ties.  It was the fourth book in a series that looked promising.  So I checked out the first book, Secret Sisters, and decided to give it a try.  What a fun, crazy romp through LDS culture!  The book made me laugh out loud!  Determined Ida Mae, perpetually positive Tansy and the ever-grumpy Arlette are hilarious as the Relief Society presidency, with young mother Hannah as their secretary.  They keep finding themselves ever more deeply involved in something...they just don't know what!  And along the way they pull in some friends to help - Ida Mae's nephew Ren, Arlette's granddaughter Eden and even Omni's own bumbling police department.

I really had a great time reading this book, and it was a quick read which is sometimes really nice.   And the characters were great, although at first I had a really hard time remembering who was who.  And I've noticed that in the second book, the writing is a little bit tighter - there were a few places that things didn't flow as nicely as I would have liked in this one.  I didn't realize that Tristi Pinkston had written so many books!  I'm going to have to go check out a few more of them!  But not until I finish the Secret Sisters series!  =]

Four and a half hilarious stars!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Synopsis (from
When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. His memory is blank. But he’s not alone. When the lift’s doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade—a large, open expanse surrounded by stone walls.

Just like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night they’ve closed tight. And every 30 days a new boy has been delivered in the lift.

Thomas was expected. But the next day, a girl is sent up—the first girl to ever arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers.

Thomas might be more important than he could ever guess. If only he could unlock the dark secrets buried within his mind.

Jillian’s Review:
My husband told me I should read this book but warned me there was basically zero romance. I gave it a try and I have to say it was extremely interesting. I liked Thomas, who was brave, heroic, and smart—always good qualities in a main character. But there were so many underdeveloped side characters that they blurred together.

There was always something happening. This was obviously written by a man (which isn’t a bad thing, just different from what I usually read) and was like watching an action movie—visual and intense, but my brain was fried by the time I finished it because there was no down time whatsoever. I was frustrated through ¾ of the book because I couldn’t figure out the mystery of the place or the people and there were basically no clues to go on. I would have liked it better had Dashner given the reader a few more clues so we’re not continually in the dark.

What seemed to be the main problem was resolved, but in the end it turns out there’s a much bigger issue to deal with which wasn’t resolved, hence this being the first book in a series. I’m not sure my nerves could handle reading another action-packed, boy’s book… but we’ll see.

Thursday, March 15, 2012 Jennifer Hurst

Publisher's note: Women and construction shouldn’t mix. At least, that is what the client, Mr. Blackwell, thinks when Twenty-one year old Julia Dayle Halstead is promoted to project manager to remodel a turn-of-the-century schoolhouse into a bed and breakfast. However, the schoolhouse contains a secret. And it wants out.

Mandi's review: Julia has spent her whole life surrounded by her grandfather's construction business. She knows the business as well as any man and when she is suddenly promoted to site manager, she can't wait to prove her worth. She travels to Torrey, Utah, a small town near Capital Reef National Park in eastern Utah, where she is in charge of  renovating an old schoolhouse into a bed and breakfast. Right from the start, the project is riddled with obstacles. Julia struggles to keep her cool as tensions mount. She hires Mathew Rigo, a handsome cowboy, who is head of demolition. Together they discover an old box with unique carvings hidden in the wall of the building. Soon, strange things begin to happen. The site is targeted by vandals, unexplained noises, and frightening disturbances, and as Julia's relationship with Mathew progresses, she is left wondering if he is really what he appears to be. This book was filled with romance, intrigue, and suspense. I liked the story line and I thought the plot made for a very interesting story. The characters were well developed and I enjoyed the descriptions of the area. I thought the end wrapped up too fast and I would have liked a little more closure, but overall, I found this novel a fun, enjoyable read.
I give it 4 out of 5 stars!!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Whispers of the Bayou by Mindy Starns Clark

From the author's website:  Swept away from Louisiana bayou country as a child, Miranda Miller is a woman without a past. She has a husband and child of her own and a fulfilling job in a Manhattan museum, but she also has questions—about the tragedy that cut her off from family and caused her to be sent away, and about those first five years that were erased from her memory entirely.

Summoned to the bedside of Willy Pedreaux, the old caretaker of her grandparents' antebellum estate, Miranda goes back for the first time, hoping to learn the truths of her past and receive her rightful inheritance. But Willy's premature death plunges Miranda into a nightmare of buried secrets, priceless treasure, and unknown enemies.

Follow one woman's search through the hidden rooms of a bayou mansion, the enigmatic snares of an ancient myth, and the all-consuming quest for a heart open enough for love—and for God. 

From Heather:  I just finished Whispers of the Bayou for book club this last week.  I generally like mysteries and this one had me guessing the entire time.  The ending took me completely by surprise, which is sometimes hard to do!  It's not that the ending doesn't make sense, because it absolutely does.  I just never saw it coming!

I checked out Mindy Starns Clark's website and realized that she has a bunch of books that I would probably LOVE to read, although I've not read any but the Whispers of the Bayou.  She has two in the Women of Lancaster County series, The Amish Nanny and The Amish Midwife that I would probably enjoy.  She has a Million Dollar Mysteries series that looks fabulous!  She has a Smart Chick Mystery series that looks adorable (mysteries AND household hints...ahhh!)  She's written three other stand-alone fiction books (Under the Cajun Moon, Secrets of Harmony Grove and Shadows of Lancaster County.)  She also has two non-fiction books, A Pocket Guide to Amish Life and The House That Cleans Itself.  (I've gotta get that last one!  Maybe not the book, but the actual house...!  Wouldn't that be awesome!)

Whispers of the Bayou was a wonderful read.  I was a little confused by the Cajun culture, but it could just be that I'm not very good at reading descriptions of things.  I tend to rush over them in my haste to get to the "story" and end up missing out on a lot of details!  I was also a little put off by the Christian aspect at the end of the book.  I realize that it is Christian Fiction, but sometimes that comes across as a little preachy to me.  I like my religion gently scattered throughout the book and not dumped on me all at once at the end of the book.  I know, an odd thing to worry about, but it did kind of detract from the ending for me.  All in all, I loved this book!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Abby Finds Her Calling by Naomi King

The Lambright family's eldest daughter, Abby, runs her own sewing shop. There, she mends the town's clothes and their torn relationships. But the town maiden has sworn off any suitors of her own because of her unrequited love for James Graber, who is about to marry her younger sister, Zanna.

Then the wedding day arrives and Zanna is nowhere to be found, breaking James's heart.  Zanna has brought shame to her family, but there's more in store for them when they discover how far she has fallen.  Long-buried secrets come to light, and they test the faith and friendship between the two families, as well as the bonds of the Cedar Creek community.  Abby is at the center of it all, trying to maintain everyone's happiness.  But will she ever find her own?

From Misty:
Lovers of Amish fiction will eat this book up.  I could say Abby Finds Her Calling is well-written in all aspects--from plot and character development down to sentence structure and word choice--but, while that is all true, I think I will just say it was crafted with love.  What a great read for a Sunday evening!

Amish fiction has become quite popular in the last few years, and of course, being me, I naturally question why.  Probably there are many different reasons.  Desiring a clean read in a world where even the Young Adult books are smutty.  Learning about a different culture.  Curiosity to see if the Amish ways of discipline and leadership, which seem harsh and almost cruel compared to our eat, drink and be merry society, actually work in real life settings (er...fictional settings).  It's like historical fiction in a modern setting--sort of like steam punk which is also quite popular (for the same reasons?).  But ultimately, I think the stories that can be development within the theology and culture just make for good reading.

I have to admit I was a little wary of committing to a whole book about a girl who has her nose in other people's business, and not only that but tries to fix things for them.  I guess there's something to admire in that--it's intended to be a selfless characteristic--but to me it just seems nosy.  If I'm honest with myself, however, I can admit that sometimes I mind my own business so much that I fail to see the needs of others and take actions to help.  So, then of course I get jealous of Abby for being better than me, and all before I've even read the book!

But after reading the first few paragraphs, all that preconceived stuff just went away as I got lost in the seemless writing, beautiful setting, and the depth of the characters.  I am not an avid reader of Amish fiction because sometimes it is more of an emotional commitment than I want to make, but I have read more than a few Amish-based novels.  Abby Finds Her Calling is among the best and worth the investment of time.  It will will delight anyone who is interested in clean romance, Amish fiction, or stories of faith and forgiveness. It would make for a great book club selection, and I can recommend it to anyone.

*Reviewed from ARC received from author.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Targets In Ties....

A "Secret Sisters Mystery" by Author Tristi Pinkston.

Publisher's Note: After two long years, Ren’s mission is finally over, and it’s time for Ida Mae, Arlette, and Tansy to travel to Mexico to pick him up. They have their itinerary all planned out—visiting the ruins in the Yucatan, shopping, playing in the sand and surf—and then they’ll head to Ren’s mission home and be reunited with that dear boy. But a wanted antiquities thief crosses their path, and soon the ladies find themselves tangled up in a web of lies, intrigue, and costly jewelry. Held hostage by men desperate for riches, they do what only they can do—keep their heads about them, plan their escape, and discuss the proper making of tortillas. Will they survive their most harrowing adventure yet?

Mandi's Review: Targets in Ties by author Tristi Pinkston is the 4th installment in her widely popular and witty "Secret Sister Mystery" series, and I have to admit I was very excited to review it.  Pinkston's colorful characters Ida Mae, Tansy, and Arlette are a delight, and you will quickly fall in love with their unique, yet "oh-so familiar" personalities as they board a plane and head to Mexico. The trio are excited and anxious to spend a couple of weeks touring the country and taking in the sights before they are reunited with Ren, Ida Mae's nephew, who has spent the last two years serving and teaching the people of Mexico as an LDS missionary. However, when Ida Mae catches a glimpse of notorious jewel thief, Manuel Gonzales, during a tour of ancient Mayan ruins their trip becomes anything but ordinary.  Full of intrigue, twists and turns, Targets in Ties will definitely keep you reading until the wee hours of morning. Pinkston's characters are a delight, and don't be surprised if you catch yourself laughing out loud more than once at the old ladies antics. I found Targets in Ties to be a very fun, enjoyable read, and I recommend this book to anyone looking for a fun cozy mystery! I can hardly wait to read more by Author Tristi Pinkston. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Hailey Twitch and the Wedding Glitch by Lauren Barnholdt

From the back of the book:  Hailey Twitch wants to have fun, fun, FUN!

Hailey has a secret.  She has a friend named Maybelle that no one else can see.

Hailey has the most fab, fab, fabulous news!  She will be the flower girl in her cousin's wedding - and wear sparkly shoes.  Hailey is sure to need help from Maybelle.  But now that Maybelle has finally gotten control of her magic, she might be leaving!  Will Hailey and Maybelle make it through the wedding without a big disaster?  Or will the two friends have to say good-bye forever?

From Heather:  I really, really REALLY wanted to like this book!  I love when books come in a series so that if my girls like it, I know what to get next. And the front of the book had a quote from the School Library Journal that said, "Youngsters who enjoy Ramona, Judy Moody, and Clementine will get a kick out of Hailey Twitch."  And they are probably right. Although parts of it remind me of Junie B. Jones, which isn't my favorite series.

Hailey is always getting into trouble, which at times can be hilarious.  And she has a sprite named Maybelle who is not very helpful with her magic.  In fact, she often makes things worse!  The stories are fun to read from Hailey's quirky perspective.  That part I liked.  Mostly.

The part I had a hard time with was Hailey's voice.  "When I get to school I am causing quite a spectacle.  A spectacle is when you cause a big scene and people pay a lot of very good attention to you.  Being a spectacle is fun.  It is like being famous."  It's fun for a while, but reading a whole book in seven-year-old talk drives me up a wall.  My girls don't seem to mind - maybe it's just me!  :)

The book is charming, the story is funny and it's kind of fun to watch Hailey get into trouble.  The back of the book has it labeled from 7-10 years old, which seems about right.  The illustrations are adorable.  Maybe I'll have to try some of the other books in the series and see if I like them any better.  I give it 3 1/2 stars.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Gray Wolf Throne by Cinda Williams Chima

Synopsis (from
Han Alister thought he had already lost everyone he loved. But when he finds his friend Rebecca Morley near death in the Spirit Mountains, Han knows that nothing matters more than saving her. The costs of his efforts are steep, but nothing can prepare him for what he soon discovers: the beautiful, mysterious girl he knew as Rebecca is none other than Raisa ana’Marianna, heir to the Queendom of the Fells. Han is hurt and betrayed. He knows he has no future with a blueblood. And, as far as he’s concerned, the princess’s family killed his own mother and sister. But if Han is to fulfill his end of an old bargain, he must do everything in his power to see Raisa crowned queen.

Meanwhile, some people will stop at nothing to prevent Raisa from ascending. With each attempt on her life, she wonders how long it will be before her enemies succeed. Her heart tells her that the thief-turned-wizard Han Alister can be trusted. She wants to believe it—he’s saved her life more than once. But with danger coming at her from every direction, Raisa can only rely on her wits and her iron-hard will to survive—and even that might not be enough.

The Gray Wolf Throne is an epic tale of fierce loyalty, unbearable sacrifice, and the heartless hand of fate.

Jillian’s Review:
It's been two years and about 200 books since I read the second book in this series and I was lost half the time because Chima doesn't reference past characters, especially the obscure ones, well. It was annoying to be 3/4 of the way through and still have side characters mentioned that I had no idea who they were or what they'd done in past novels.

The story itself was interesting and I was grateful to only have to read from two different POV (it seems like the first two novels were written in several different POV, but I could be remembering incorrectly). I enjoyed it fairly well, but I think half the book could have been cut and it would have made for a better read. Some of the descriptions were unnecessarily long (e.i. it took nearly a full paragraph to describe a character braiding his hair). It was interesting enough that I lost a couple good nights of sleep because I couldn’t put it down.

I'm glad to see the princess heir has learned a lot from the past two books, yet I can't fathom why she would still be willing to kiss every guy who shows interest in her. And I really would like to know more about what's happening to her poor, little sister, but maybe that's because I was the youngest and was picked on, too! ;)

Yet another in this series without a proper ending, one major event resolved but nothing else. I most seriously hope that everything will finally be resolved in the fourth and final book, The Crimson Crown, dated to come out October 23, 2012.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Cyberlife by W.H. Buxton

This book was sent me by the author. I'm grateful for the opportunity!

From the author:
"Cyberlife is the first book I've published. It is the first of a three book series (CyberSapien in 2012 and CyberSavior expected in 2013), all of which tell the story about how pervasive information systems have become, where they (and we) go as we become more "integrated", and what could happen if we suddenly become "disconnected". This is not a textbook on IT systems, but a fictional story about the relationship between people and information technology. The story line principally involves 4 "people": two physical and two virtual, and all living within the technological information saturation which manages their everyday lives, and ultimately what could happen as it evolves. All together, the Cyberlife series describe the growth of technology into who we are, what it could evolve into, and how, ultimately, it can come back to either save us or harm us.

Cyberlife, the first of the three books, takes place over the course of a week in the not too distant future where technology has permeated almost every aspect of our lives. By this time, because of the growing confusion and proliferation of complicated hand held devices, most companies had done away with the overhead cost of creating and managing these independent communication devices and put focus (and value) on the information and network itself. This of Cloud Computing on steroids, with your input/output device (Vertal: Virtual Life Form) being a holographic projection personally designed for you and talks to you like a normal person; a concierge to the "Knowledge Age". People are social creatures, and communication between everyone and everything is much easier when done in a proper cultural context, with all the complex technology hidden in the background. By 2069, when this episode takes place, even appliances have a gender and some interesting personalities. The story is, hopefully, slightly humorous, and may give an indication of what life could be like once Information Technology and the companies who develop it influence all the things we people do.

The plot of Cyberlife is relatively simple: Jim is sent, by his company, SciPop Inc., to work a Knowledge Management Project involving the acquisition of a small hiking services business owned by Laura Meyers. Laura, however, does not want to be technology driven and refuses to use a Vertal, or sell her company for the big money SciPop is offering. Unbelievable to Jim, and during the course of the week, Jim discovers what is really going on behind the hostile takeover between "Laura's Hikes" and SciPop. This revelation, along with the interactions between Jim,. Laura and all the things in the Cybersphere, lead to the results that follow, and pave the way for CyberSapien and CyberSavior."

Jennifer's Review:
I would like to start by saying WOW! What an imagination Buxton has! I am impressed.

Jim is our main character who was given a Vertal at age 18, as everyone is. The Vertal is pretty much a replica of himself but has a few different traits. The Vertal is more fit and dresses better than Jim does. He is also much more punctual.

I had a hard time getting into this book because of all the "big" words used. Some made up, some not. You can tell the author has quite the vocab! However, I was able to get through it and really start getting into the story line. The characters are fun and the details are just amazing. Like I said before, what an imagination! I know I would not have been able to come up with some of this stuff. Love it!

Though I loved the story line, I am not sure I am the right audience for Cyberlife. I would need it dumbed down a little bit. But I hate to say that because I really liked the characters and how they interact with each other. I love the Vertals and all of their quirks. I do want to read the next one!

It is not a quick easy read like I normally go for but sometimes you just have to get away from what the norm. This would be a great one to try out...if it wasn't for all of the bad language and little hints of sexual content.

I give CyberLife 3 1/2 stars.