Saturday, October 27, 2012

Flat Stanley and the Haunted House by Jeff Brown

On the back:

"Stanley can't wait for the Halloween party at school. But when a bully picks on his friend, Stanley saves the day in no time flat!"

Jennifer's Review:

For my son, Flat Stanley has been great. He is not one that likes to read but this story was fun and imaginative. Poor Stanley is flatted by a bulletin board. LOL The story is perfect for this time of year.

Of course, my eight year old son is "too old" for Flat Stanley but it was fun while it lasted!!

I give Flat Stanley and the Haunted House five stars!


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Best Halloween Ever by Barbara Robinson

From Goodreads: 
The Herdmans plus Halloween have always spelled disaster
Every Halloween, the six Herdman kids steal candy, spray-paint other kids, and take everything that isn't nailed down. And this year promises to be the same, until the Mayor decides to up and cancel Halloween. True, that means there'd be no Herdman trouble to contend with, but that also means no candy, no costumes, and no trick-or-treating! Is it possible that the Herdmans themselves could make what looks like a horrible Halloween into the best one ever?

From Heather:   I was excited to pick up a copy of this book, and right before Halloween!  I love the Best Christmas Pageant Ever, written by the same author.  It's one of my favorite Christmas books to read.  This one I didn't love quite as much.  Oh, it still had the Herdmans and all of the craziness that goes with them.  And it was fun to watch the kids get ready for Halloween.  The writing is great and the word choice is fun.  It just wasn't quite as magical as the Christmas one was.  And maybe it's because Christmas is a lot more magical than Halloween, I'm not sure.  I can see my girls and I reading this book out loud before bed and loving every minute of it.  And it will be a great practice for when we read The Best Christmas Pageant ever in a couple months!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Beautiful Demons by Sarra Cannon

Synopsis (from
Harper Madison isn't like other girls. She has extraordinary powers, but her inability to control them has gotten her kicked from so many foster homes she's lost count. Shadowford Home is her last chance, and she hopes Peachville High will be the fresh start she needs. But when evidence ties her to the gruesome murder of a Demons cheerleader, Harper discovers this small town has a big secret.

Jillian’s Reivew:
I was happily surprised to discover that this free Kindle download was actually fairly well-written with an interesting storyline. It's about witches, one in particular, who grows up destroying things with her mind and she doesn't know how or why. Harper is a pretty decent character who doesn't say every annoying that comes to her mind and who is brave when she needs to be.

The romance between her and her love interest was pretty great... the one time they actually kiss. Other than that there's nothing. Yet, there is so much to this story that captures the reader that the lack of romance is forgivable. :)

This reminded me of the Darkest Powers series, though not as well written and with less swearing.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Not Your Average Fairy Tale by Chantele Sedgwick

Not Your Average Fairy Tale by Chantele Sedgwick Synopsis: Armed with wings and a blue wand, being a fairy godmother should be easy ... unless your name is Ash, and you're a dude.

Ash Summerland has it all–good looks, popularity, and the best grades at The Academy of Magical Beings. Ready to complete his last assignment in order to graduate, Ash is confident he will get the apprenticeship he wants. When he opens the letter from the Council, he is shocked to discover he has been assigned to apprentice Lady Shenelle, Keeper of Happy Endings. A.K.A. the head fairy godmother. Ash is forced to grant three wishes to a troubled human girl named Kendall, and ultimately give her a "happy ever after". But Kendall turns out to be more than he bargained for. Still grieving over her father's death, Kendall doesn't want anything to do with him. And worst of all, she doesn't believe in happy endings

Christina's Review: I really enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend it to other readers. I don't normally read books about fairies and other paranormal creatures but this book wasn't strange or weird. It was a fun and entertaining read. Chantele pulls you quickly into the storyline. The characters are great! They are fun and realistic, minus the magic of course.  Ash is sent to grant Kendall 3 wishes and he thinks it will be quick and easy. . . What would you wish for if you had 3 wishes? Kendall takes her time and the two become friends. They actually have a lot in common. Both Ash and Kendall are dealing with the loss of a parent. Both characters go from being wrapped up in their own grief to helping each other heal. 

The book ends setting it up for a sequel and makes you want to read more!!! I can't wait for the sequel!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Accordance by Shelly Crane

Synopsis (
In the sequel, Maggie learns much more about all the strange things that happened to her, and has to face new ones. She rebels against it, but ultimately, must face it for her new families sake and maybe even her life. Bish went from being her biggest supporter to her biggest pain in the butt and Kyle's intentions to attract her interest may not be so innocent. Caleb and Maggie face many new obstacles together and fight to work through them but will one that should be a good thing be too much for Maggie to handle?

Jillian’s Review:

I'm so done with how perfect and unrealistic Caleb is and how everything comes too easily for Maggie. And can she please stop giggling and crying and needing to lean on her guy every five minutes?

This felt like a filler novel where nothing really important happens. One event does take place, but it could have easily been put in the third novel and the rest of this book could have been deleted all together.

At first I loved all the kissing and cuddling and romance that I crave in a novel, but after book one, Significance, I was ready for some more meat to the story and just didn't get it here. Not to mention that every time they touch it's described nearly the same way.

I thought the first book could have used an editor but, holy cow, this one needed at least three! Crane jumps from past to present tense several times, uses incorrect words, and messes up details that were in the first book. It really distracted from the story, had there actually been one.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Surviving the Applewhites by Stephanie S. Tolan


Will anyone take on Jake Semple?

Jake Semple is notorious. Rumor has it he burned down his old school and got kicked out of every school in his home state.

Only one place will take him now, and that's a home school run by the Applewhites, a chaotic and hilarious family of artists. The only one who doesn't fit the Applewhite mold is E.D.--a smart, sensible girl who immediately clashes with the unruly Jake.

Jake thinks surviving this one will be a breeze . . . but is he really as tough or as bad as he seems?

What I thought:

I liked  it. Though not the kind of book I usually reach for, Surviving the Applewhites kept my attention and made me laugh. Sometimes when an author attempts quirky, she just doesn't reach it and arrives instead at cheezy, but Tolan does a great job at achieving her aim: quirky and endearing.

Jake is a delinquent one stop away from Juvenile Hall, but staying with the Applewhites turns him around. The only thing I didn't like was that none of the characters make an actual choice to either help Jake or be helped. Everything that happens, every bit of growth you see in the characters, just happens by accident because the Applewhites are so oblvious. And I guess you can't have oblivious characters and still expect them to make a plan of action and follow it through to completion. The Applewhites don't hate Jake like everyone else, but they don't really like him either, or even learn to like him.

Still, despite that, I enjoyed the book and think most of the readers of this blog would too.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Significance by Shelly Crane

Synopsis (from
Maggie is a seventeen year old girl who's had a bad year. She was smart and on track but then her mom left, her dad is depressed, she's graduating, barely, and her boyfriend of almost three years dumped her for a college football scholarship. Lately she thinks life is all about hanging on by a thread and is gripping tight with everything she has.

Then she meets Caleb. She saves his life and instantly knows there's something about him that's intriguing but she is supposed to be on her way to a date with his cousin. But things change when they touch, sparks ignite. Literally.

They imprint with each other and she sees their future life together flash before her eyes. She learns that not only is she his soul mate, and can feel his heartbeat in her chest, but there is a whole other world of people with gifts and abilities that she never knew existed. She herself is experiencing supernatural changes unlike anything she's ever felt before and she needs the touch of his skin to survive.

Now, not only has her dad come out of his depression to be a father again, and a pain as well, but Caleb's enemies know he's imprinted and are after Maggie to stop them both from gaining their abilities and take her from him.

Can Caleb save her or will they be forced to live without each other after just finding one another?

Jillian’s Review:

This sucked me in from the very beginning. The romance was intense but not gross, though it felt like Maggie and Caleb were making out every five seconds. Caleb was great, but throughout the entire novel he felt way too perfect. Even their fight was nothing, lasting no more than a paragraph before they made up. They’re supposed to be the perfect match and can read each others' thoughts and all that, but it still felt like they were just a couple of infatuated, hormone driven teenagers. But I do have to say that I am proud of Crane for keeping it clean... it gets a bit steamy at times, but no more than many YA romances and they don't sleep together with is unfortunately rare for this genera.

I didn't care for Maggie who lets people push her around the entire time. And Caleb was constantly doing everything for her, from fastening her helmet to constantly steadying her when she felt faint (which happened every other page. And if he kisses her nose one more time I'm gonna scream!

This could have used a good editor, yet I was able to get lost in the romance most of the time.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Only Way to Paradise by G.G. Vandagriff

By G.G. Vandagriff

Publisher's Note: What causes picture-perfect suburban Oakwood residents, MacKenzie, Roxie, Sara, and Georgia to desert their therapist fly off to Florence? Answer: A romantic Italian movie that prompts Roxie to ask: “If Italy is so healing and therapeoutic what are we doing in Ohio?” Even Sara, the most duty-bound of the group, finally joins the pact they dub “The Crazy Ladies of Oakwood,” and they all find themselves in Florence a week later. As they feel themselves embraced by the entire province of Tuscany, each woman falls and becomes entangled in experiences she could never have foretold. Not only do they find the fascinating Italian men that Georgia promised, but new sides to themselves and each other. Against the glittering background of Florence, their dramas play out: MacKenzie returns to her student days as an art historian, discarding her identity as the controlling Oakwood charity patron and society hostess. Renewing her acquaintance with the David, she vows to let herself be sculpted rather than trying to sculpt others. MacKenzie finds not only a new talent, but a new man who appreciates it, just as her husband decides to re-enter her life. Roxie, who has always approached life as a circus, is drawn unwillingly into a passionate romance with a gorgeous Italian professor, Stefano. Her physical response to Stefano taps into lost memories, causing her to literally run from him. Roxie, normally a colorful Cubana, senses danger in visions and smells that resurface of a rotting summerhouse behind her Florida home. With his nurturing and passionate love, Stefano helps her to face the “broken piece” inside her. Sara, a Xanax addict, unveils part of her that no one but her instructors knows. She is an extraordinarily talented concert violinist. Normally trapped in the demanding life of an ob-gyn (scripted for her by her Vietnamese immigrant parents), she is temporarily freed. She performs for others for the first time, and experiences unprecedented joy. She also falls in love unexpectedly with a man who is not only a famous Chinese actor, but has a mysterious side business. Her defense of him gives her the courage to loose the vice-like hold of her parents and step into her own script. Georgia, a grieving widow, processes her life without Ben and without her violin career that ended early because of arthritis. Looking for a new passion in life, she finds that satisfaction comes to her in “giving back” to those around her the lessons and knowledge she has learned through her successes and mistakes in La Dolce Vita. Just as her perspective is changing, she reunites with her first love, Arturo, and must make a decision about the direction of her future life. Though ages have passed since the rebirth called the Renaissance, Florence still inspires change by breathing out its creative mix of energy, beauty, and courage. Where Michelangelo “set free” the David by sculpting a block of marble, each “crazy lady” finds her exterior “Oakwood” self burnished away by new experiences, revealing a new self. This burnishing is not a gentle process, but exuberant Italians help them through it with their all-embracing agape, or unconditional love. Though they do not know it, each of them hungers for agape’s healing power. They discover in it a balm that binds them together and puts them on the road to recovery, the road that is “The Only Way to Paradise.” Enjoy this first of four novels of self-discovery and romance.

Mandi's Review: The Only Way to Paradise by G.G. Vandagriff is a memorable women's fiction. The story line is complex with interesting, dynamic characters. The four women who come together in a therapy group decide to holiday in Italy. Each woman must face their own individual challenges and you are drawn into their lives as they each express their dreams, hopes and fears. The book takes place in Florence and I can't imagine a more superb setting for such a heart-warming story. Vandagriff's vivid descriptions immerse readers in Italian culture and add depth to the emotional journey of Georgia, Sara, Roxie, and MacKenzie. The story is filled with romance and true-to-life scenarios. It's a story that will stay with you long after you've turned the last page. I look forward to reading the next book in the series. I give The Only Way to Paradise 5 out of 5 stars. Well done!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Singer of All Songs by Kate Constable

Synopsis (from
Kate Constable's lyrical, acclaimed fantasy debut--now in paperback Calwyn has never been beyond the high ice-wall that guards the sisters of Antaris from the world of Tremaris. She knows only the rounds of her life as a novice ice priestess, tending her bees, singing her ice chantments, and dreaming.

But then Calwyn befriends Darrow, a mysterious Outlander who appears inside the Wall and warns of an approaching danger. To help Darrow, to see the world, and perhaps to save it, Calwyn will leave the safety of the Wall for a journey with a man she barely knows--and an adventure as beautiful and dangerous as the music of chantment itself.

Jillian’s Review:
This book kind of felt longer to read than is should have. It’s one of those travel adventure fantasies where a lot of things happen and you get a handful of heroes (like Lord of the Rings minus all the Elves and Dwarves). I did like Calwyn, though I wish she discovered her special abilities sooner so we could watch her develop more throughout the story. Darrow is a nice guy, but there isn’t nearly the chemistry that I like to see between love interests, which I guess makes this a better read for the older Middle Grade reader. Don't expect any romance, it barely has any and it's only at the very end.

I have books two and three on my nightstand just waiting for me to read. Hopefully they won’t take me as long to get through and I’m really hoping for more romance.