Saturday, September 29, 2012

Clockwork by Elle Strauss

Synopsis ( Casey Donovan has issues: hair, height and uncontrollable trips to the 19th century! And now this—she’s accidentally taken Nate Mackenzie, the cutest boy in the school, back in time. Awkward.Protocol pressures her to tell their 1860 hosts that he is her brother and when Casey finds she has a handsome, wealthy (and unwanted) suitor, something changes in Nate. Are those romantic sparks or is it just “brotherly” protectiveness?When they return to the present, things go back to the way they were before: Casey parked on the bottom of the rung of the social ladder and Nate perched high on the very the top. Except this time her heart is broken. Plus, her best friend is mad, her parents are split up, and her younger brother gets escorted home by the police. The only thing that could make life worse is if, by some strange twist of fate, she took Nate back to the past again.Which of course, she does.
Christina's Review: I think this was a fun and quick read. It is interesting and entertaining. The characters are fun and the storyline was never boring! I liked it so much I bought the second one as well! I like that the main character, Casey, is not the most popular girl at school and that she is a wallflower. . . I related to that. If you are looking for something quick yet entertaining I would recommend this book.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

No Holly for Christmas

By Julie N. Ford

Publisher's Note: As Brian McAlister struggles to move past being jilted not once, but twice by the only woman he's ever loved, he's all but given up on relationships. Then, on special assignment for the DA's office, he crosses paths with ex-socialite turned social worker, Holly Cavanaugh Winter-and romance blossoms.
Widowed, practically penniless, and reduced to shopping at WalMart, Holly is dreading the approaching Holiday Season. However, her angst isn't due to her husband's untimely death the previous December 25th, but because of a secret that could reveal itself unless she can find a way to avoid the coming Christmas.
Love at first sight quickly turns frigid for Brian and Holly when Holly gets pulled into a manhunt for an accused murderer who now has his sights set on her. His case unraveling, Brian finds himself tasked with keeping Holly and her two daughters safe while bringing an assassin and the powerful man who hired him to justice.
A heart-warming story of suspense, healing, giving and receiving, No Holly for Christmas is the perfect addition to everyone's holiday reading list

Mandi's Review: With only a few months left before Christmas, No Holly For Christmas is a fun-filled, romantic suspense. I really enjoyed this book. I think the publisher's note sums up the story very well. In the beginning, Holly is just the sort of character that you love to hate. An ex-socialite, she at first appears shallow and obsessed with wealth and social status, but as the story progresses, the author does a wonderful job engaging readers in Holly's thoughts, exposing her insecurities and true feelings. In the end, you really feel for this character and connect with her story. The romance at times is a little heavy, but the author does a great job creating passion without crossing borders. The story definitely keeps you on the edge of your seat and pulls readers in. I think the characters and plot are believable, well-defined, and well-written. I recommend this book to anyone who loves a good romance....

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Fire Thief by Terry Deary

From Goodreads: Now available in paperback, The Fire Thief hilariously reimagines the myth of Prometheus, the Greek demigod who stole fire from the gods and gave it to the human race. To escape the gods' revenge, Prometheus travels through time to Eden City in 1858. There, he befriends a young orphan, actor, and petty criminal named Jim. When Jim runs into trouble with the law, Prometheus is torn -- if he uses his powers to get his friend out of trouble, he will betray his hiding place to the gods. Terry Deary masterfully interweaves two plots, with action jumping at a whirlwind pace from Mount Olympus to the seedy taverns and elegant mansions of Victorian Eden City. Packed with puns, wisecracks, and sarcastic footnotes, The Fire Thief turns Greek mythology into a laughing matter.

From the back of the book:  In this hilarious, time-traveling tale, acclaimed author Terry Deary reinvents the Greek myth of Prometheus, who stole fire from the gods.  On the run from Zeus's avenging eagle, Prometheus hides out in Victorian Eden City, where he befriends and orphan named Jim.  Packed with puns, wisecracking gods, and sarcastic footnotes The Fire Thief is a rollicking blend of action, anarchy, and narrative tradition.

From Heather:   I just finished The Fire Thief last night.  I started it weeks ago.  I don't know what has happened the last few weeks, but something about having my girls start school and piano lessons and young women activities and then working every day is going to drive me absolutely crazy!  =]  I've had zero time to read anything at all.  And I have missed it!

The Fire Thief is an interesting book.  Another reviewer compared it to the Percy Jackson series, and while it's true that The Fire Thief references Greek mythology, there is no comparison in the books.  While I liked The Fire Thief, it's unfair to compare it to the Percy Jackson books....The Percy Jackson ones are just too good!  =]

One thing in the book that was different was the footnotes.  They were generally humorous.  ("Leaving the reader in this state is called a "cliff-hanger".  At least that's what writers call it and I want to be a writer. Of course, I didn't leave us hanging over the edge of a cliff, but we may as well have been.  So go on, turn the page.  But please don't lick your finger before you do.  It is a bad habit, and it will ruin the book.  On the other hand, you may have just used your finger to pick your nose.  In that case, please DO lick your finger before you turn the page.")  I thought they were a little distracting, as I would have to stop the flow of the story to read the footnote.  But they were usually funny and had I been a 12 year old boy, they would have been hilarious!

I give The Fire Thief three and a half stars.  It's a good book, just not one of my favorites.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Synopsis (from
One choice can transform you--or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves--and herself--while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Tris's initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable--and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.

"New York Times" bestselling author Veronica Roth's much-anticipated second book of the dystopian "Divergent" series is another intoxicating thrill ride of a story, rich with hallmark twists, heartbreaks, romance, and powerful insights about human nature.

Jillian’s Review:

As action (and violence) packed as the first book, Divergent. There’s also a good bit of romance without too much detail. I’m annoyed that Tris thinks she has to keep everything inside and secret when every readers knows as soon as the truth comes out it will destroy the relationships of those around her. It’s one of those books that a lot of problems could be solved or eliminated all together if the characters would just talk. Thankfully the truth does come out and not at the very end, so things are resolved throughout the rest of the read. I do like though, that Tris is kind of weak in this second book just because she feels more realistic.

We finally find out what this weird society is all for but have to wait until book three, title unknown to be release in 2013, for an ending (hopefully!). I'm looking forward to it, thought I'm glad I get a break from the blood and guts for a while.

Best for the older Young Adult reader as there is A LOT of violence…like Hunger Games.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Bitter Blessings

A Novel by Christine Mehring

Publisher's Note: Megan has the perfect life, but when her mother dies in an accident, everything spins out of control. With the rest of her family falling apart, Megan must confront her past to uncover the truths that will keep everyone together. Thought-provoking and heartfelt, this book shows that even in times of trial, you can often find blessings.

Mandi's Review: Christine Mehring's debut novel is a beautifully written story of family, enduring love, hope and faith. Megan's life is completely turned upside down when her mother is suddenly killed in a car accident. Left in her grandmother's care, she must face the realities and heart ache of losing someone she loves. She is also faced with the dilemma of  making grown-up choices as she tries her best to help her grandmother take on the responsibilities for her two younger sisters. Megan is a very likable character with honest qualities. She makes mistakes just like any other person and your heart aches for her and her struggles. Mehring's writing is open and honest, and I thought this story touched on several important topics such as grief and the importance of coping skills. Megan is left with much of the responsibilities while one sister turns to alcoholism and the other hides in the past. I believe Mehring's portrayal of each individuals' grief is very real and there will be many readers who can easily relate. I liked the flow of the novel. It was a fast read and kept you turning the pages. It was a difficult book to put down. Mehring's characters were well-rounded and believable, and I definitely recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a fast, touching read.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith

Synopsis (from
A deathbed promise to their father sends a daring girl and her brother off to war. Filled with intrigue, romance, and magic, this spellbinding novel is a dramatic coming-of-age story about a girl who rises from impoverished beginnings to take command of her own fate. “Smith tells a fast-moving tale of adventure, intrigue, and honor, with Mel a likable heroine and a lively narrator.”—Booklist

Jillian’s Review:

A well written, interesting read. The main character has plenty of room for growth but she wasn’t annoying before her growth. I love that the main girl (can’t remember her name) realizes that she’s so ignorant and wants to do something about it.

There’s some action, but not so detailed that I wanted to skip through it to get to the good stuff. Most of the characters we realistic, yet several of the minor characters probably could have been cut because we never really get to know them well enough.

 I hope to see a romance bloom where it was just barely hinted at in this first book, but I can’t find the second on, Court Duel anywhere! Anyone have a copy I can borrow?

This is a good book for older Middle Grade or the younger Young Adult reader.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Out of Sight, Out of Time by Ally Carter Synopsis: The last thing Cammie Morgan remembers is leaving the Gallagher Academy to protect her friends and family from the Circle of Cavan--an ancient terrorist organization that has been hunting her for over a year. But when Cammie wakes up in an alpine convent and discovers months have passed, she must face the fact that her memory is now a black hole. The only traces left of Cammie’s summer vacation are the bruises on her body and the dirt under her nails, and all she wants is to go home. Once she returns to school, however, Cammie realizes that even the Gallagher Academy now holds more questions than answers. Cammie, her friends, and mysterious spy-guy Zach must face their most difficult challenge yet as they travel to the other side of the world, hoping to piece together the clues that Cammie left behind. It’s a race against time. The Circle is hot on their trail and willing stop at nothing to prevent Cammie from remembering what she did last summer.
Christina's Review: Book 5 is the best yet. You will read it and be so excited for book 6 (which Ally Carter has not yet started). Ally Carter plans on this series being 6 books. Every book gets better and better. I am so excited to read the conclusion of the series. Cammie can't remember anything from her summer. She gets back and everyone is so mad at her for running away. You feel for her as she feels like she is losing her best friends and her boyfriend. This book takes us on a search for her memory, for answers and it does not disappoint. This is such a great read!!! I am a huge Ally Carter fan. This is a series I recommend whenever I am asked what is a good book to read. While you are waiting for book 6 you should check out her other series which includes: Heist Society and Uncommon Criminals (book 3 in this series Perfect Scoundrels comes out in February 2013)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Fractured Light

A novel by Rachel McClellen

Publisher's Note: I’m dying, I thought. This was unexpected and not at all how I envisioned my death. I was supposed to die gardening in a flowerbed as a hundred-year-old woman, not as a seventeen-year-old trapped in a lake beneath inches of ice.

Llona Reese is used to living on the run. After the Vykens killed her parents, she knew they would eventually come for her too. She can’t take any chances. But when she starts to make friends for the first time in her life, she gets careless and lets her guard down. Big mistake.

As an Aura, Llona can manipulate light and harness its energy. But if she wants to survive, Llona will have to defy the Auran Council and learn to use her power as a weapon against the Vyken whose sole desire is to take her light. Now she’s caught in something even bigger than she can understand, with a power she can’t wield, and no one she can trust, except, just maybe, a mysterious stranger.

In this breathtaking and romantic adventure, Rachel McClellan delivers a truly mesmerizing story that will keep you guessing to the very end.

Mandi's Review: Llona Reese is a young teenage girl who has been given an extraordinary gift. Able to manipulate light, Llona is an Aura and must learn to harness the light's energy if she is to survive. The Vyken are determined to take her light and because of this, she is forced to move with her Uncle every couple of years, upsetting her life. But when she and her Uncle Jake settle in Bountiful, Utah, her life is turned upside down and she is forced to face the Vyken and use her gift as a weapon with the help of her new friends and family. I liked this book. The author did a wonderful job keeping readers engaged. The twists and turns leave you guessing until the very end. Llona is a very well-developed character and you will cheer her on throughout the story. May, Llona's best friend who has a secret of her own, is a fantastic character as well. Filled with romance and suspense, this paranormal YA is a definite must read for anyone who loves a great book and congratulate the author on a job well done.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A Breath of Eyre by Eve Marie Mont

Synopsis (from
Emma Townsend has always believed in stories—the ones she reads voraciously, and the ones she creates in her head. Perhaps it’s because she feels like an outsider at her exclusive prep school, or because her stepmother doesn’t come close to filling the void left by her mother’s death. And her only romantic prospect—apart from a crush on her English teacher—is Gray Newman, a long-time friend who just adds to Emma’s confusion. But escape soon arrives in an old leather-bound copy of Jane Eyre…

Reading of Jane’s isolation sparks a deep sense of kinship. Then fate takes things a leap further when a lightning storm catapults Emma right into Jane’s body and her nineteenth-century world. As governess at Thornfield, Emma has a sense of belonging she’s never known—and an attraction to the brooding Mr. Rochester. Now, moving between her two realities and uncovering secrets in both, Emma must decide whether her destiny lies in the pages of Jane’s story, or in the unwritten chapters of her own…

Jillian’s Review:
I love-- LOVE Jane Eyre. I know parts of it by heart, which is why I didn't enjoy this novel as much as I would have if I'd never read J.E. It was a pretty fun story; a great romance (I wish these teens were more chaste though), even a great bit of fantasy, but when the main girl wakes up as Jane in the novel Jane Eyre, it gets monotonous because I’ve already read that story a dozen times and don't want to read a poor imitation of it.

Mont would have done better to just make up a whole new story instead of trying to copy a classic.


Monday, September 10, 2012

Short-Straw Bride by Karen Witemeyer

No one steps on Archer land. Not if they value their life. But when Meredith Hayes overhears a lethal plot to burn the Archer brothers off their ranch, a twelve-year-old debt compels her to take the risk.

Fourteen years of constant vigilance hardens a man. Yet when Travis Archer confronts a female trespasser with the same vivid blue eyes as the courageous young girl he once aided, he can't bring himself to send her away. And when an act of sacrifice leaves her injured and her reputation in shreds, gratitude and guilt send him riding to her rescue once again.

Four brothers. Four straws. One bride. Despite the fact that Travis is no longer the gallant youth Meredith once dreamed about, she determines to stand by his side against the enemy that threatens them both. But will love ever be hers? Or will Travis always see her merely as a short-straw bride?

From Misty:
Witemeyer's books never disappoint me. Plus the covers are aDORable. Darling and predictable, but not at all what I was expecting, and I definitely had expectations because I have been dying to read this book. It surprised and delighted me.

In this story Witemeyer succeeds in creating believable characters with both strengths and vulnerabilities. They were relatable and likeable (except for the villians--they were appropriately scummy). I so dislike stories where the main characters are completely unlikable, have no redeeming qualities,and are selfish and self-centered (*cough* young adult novels *cough*), and you just don't run into that in Witemeyer's books.

Witemeyers books have an appeal to readers of Christian fiction. That element is definitely there in Short-Straw Bride, and as always, is tastefully done with respect and knowledge. Short-Straw Bride is inspiring and uplifting, and definitely appreciated when there is so much icky garbage being published.

5 stars--definitely recommend.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale


On the back:   

"Some people are born with the first word of a language resting on their tongue, though it may take some time before they can taste it.
Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Islilee, Crown Princess of Kildenree, was born with her eyes closed and a word on her tongue. She spent the early years of her life listening to her aunt's stories and learning the language of the swans. Then, a colt was born with a word on his tongue- his name, Falada- and when Ani spoke it, she found the key to his language, too. But as Ani's gift grew, so did others' mistrust of it, and soon her mother felt she had no choice but to send her away to be queen of a foreign land..."

Jennifer's Review:  

Loved this book! Great characters you love almost immediately. So much adventure and just enough romance.
I feel like the description on the back of the book just leaves you guessing. There is so much to this book, so much more than the back describes. Plus, the girl on the cover is just gorgeous. Wonderful story that my 13 year old wouldn't read because of the title. Finally I "made" her read it and she LOVED it, too. :)
I was so sad when the book ended but dove right into the second. 
I give The Goose Girl five stars.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Flowers of The Wind

A novel by Dorothy Keddington

Publisher's Note: Cassandra Graves returns to Winwood Cottage, a place of childhood haunts and memories, hoping to find solace in her painting and the sea. From the moment she meets Nikolai and Seriozha, Cassandra's safe, secure existence is challenged and changed, along with her perception of what love is.

The expanded edition of this classic Keddington romantic suspense novel. FLOWER OF THE WINDS is a windy walk on an Oregon beach...a terrifying chase through mist and darkness ... a love story that defies barriers of tradition and time.

Mandi's Review: When Cassandra Graves returns to her grandfather's cottage on the edge of the sea, she only longs to be alone and mourn his loss. She hopes to find solace in her paintings and long walks by the sea, but an early evening stroll changes everything. When she helps to rescue two men from the cresting waves, her life is turned upside down. Nikolai and Seriozha are Russian defectors hoping to hide from evil men who want them back. Cassandra soon finds herself in a world filled with intrigue, mystery, murder, and unexpected romance. Dorothy Keddington's characters, with their strong personalities, will weave around your heart, and her descriptions of the Oregon coast will leave you yearning for a trip to the Pacific West. This is a wonderful, clean romance and you'll find yourself reading late into the night.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

Synopsis (from
Eight years after Graceling, Bitterblue is now queen of Monsea. But the influence of her father, a violent psychopath with mind-altering abilities, lives on. Her advisors, who have run things since Leck died, believe in a forward-thinking plan: Pardon all who committed terrible acts under Leck's reign, and forget anything bad ever happened. But when Bitterblue begins sneaking outside the castle--disguised and alone--to walk the streets of her own city, she starts realizing that the kingdom has been under the thirty-five-year spell of a madman, and the only way to move forward is to revisit the past.

Two thieves, who only steal what has already been stolen, change her life forever. They hold a key to the truth of Leck's reign. And one of them, with an extreme skill called a Grace that he hasn't yet identified, holds a key to her heart.

Jillian’s Review:
I loved this story, but I had to deduct a star because of all the immorality (though not detailed, you still know what's going on), darkness, and brief swearing.

This was a great story  and the characters are true enough to life that I wish they were my friends! I loved Bitterblue in Gracelin and was disappointed that she wasn't what I remembered from the first book. I guess she needed room to grow into a strong character and I did enjoy seeing her bloom, I just think Cashore should have made her as strong, or stronger at eighteen as she was at ten.

Though this is categorized as Young Adult novel, it’s NOT for younger readers... I don't even think this should be considered YA because of its mature content.