Monday, April 30, 2012

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

From Goodreads:
Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris - until she meets Etienne St. Clair: perfect, Parisian (and English and American, which makes for a swoon-worthy accent), and utterly irresistible. The only problem is that he's taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her almost-relationship back home. As winter melts into spring, will a year of romantic near - misses end with the French kiss Anna - and readers - have long awaited?
From Misty:
I really wish I had not read any reviews before I read Anna and the French Kiss. All the reviews were really good, so I thought I was just going to die of the cuteness. But I didn't. Don't get me wrong. It had its cute moments, but I probably had too high of an expectation for the cuteness.

I had a really hard time liking the main character, Anna. Generally a protagonist will have some kind of progression during the course of a novel, but I thought Anna just got stupider and stupider. The story resolved, but not because of anything Anna did. And some of the situations were not believable, such as Anna getting grounded for the whole summer because she got detention for standing up for her friend and herself. She's EIGHTEEN and headed off to college at the end of the summer and she's GROUNDED? Please. And St. Clair is her best friend but she can't see that her obvious ploy to make him jealous makes him...jealous? Get a clue, Anna.

St. Clair had a depth of character that Anna just did not ever develop, but it was not really a character that I liked. Maybe his accent was "swoon-worthy" (it wasn't in the audio book--blah), but he was kind of a pansie. He liked poetry and was afraid of change and was terrified of heights and let himself be bullied by his dad? I just didn't think he was as awesome as all the other reviewers seemed to think he was. Plus, he fell for Anna who had no likeable qualities, unless following the crowd, giving in to peer pressure, misunderstanding nearly every person and situation, and having terrible taste in boys and almost no social skills are likeable qualities. Gotta minus one him for that.

Now I have really made this seem like a terrible book. It's not. It is cute, and I did enjoy it. There are some swears (totally unneccesary) and teenage drinking and implied sex (maybe it IS a terrible book), but I enjoyed it and will definitely read the companion book, Lola and the Boy Next Door. Recommended to anyone who likes non-paranormal, non-fantasty YA.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Breaking Beautiful by Jennifer Shaw Wolf

Inside Front Cover:
"Allie can't remember the night her boyfriend, Trip, died. She knows they were driving on the cliff road. That Trip lost control. That she woke up later, broken and bruised. That, somehow, she survived. All Allie has left are the scars, a constant reminder of Trip. Not ready to face the truth, she tries to ignore a nagging feeling that the crash wasn't an accident. Her best friend, Blake, and her brother, Andrew, will do anything to help Allie move on, but when the police reopen the investigation into the crash, suspicions in their small town intensify. Soon Allie's memories collide with a dark secret she's kept for too long. Caught somewhere between her past and her future, can Allie find the truth so she can finally break free?"

 Jennifer's Review:
First of all, I want to say that I WON this book in our last blog hop!! So cool! Breaking Beautiful just came out this month so I think I am one of the first to review it online. Watch, there will be 1000 more. Anyway...

This is an easy read. I was able to get through it in just over a day. (That includes working, sleeping, being a mom and wife.) If I sat down and read without stopping it would probably be just a few hours. In a few chapters it was almost too slow but would pick back up and keep me reading.

I don't like to guess what is going to happen in a book. I like to just let it take over and guide me as I read. (I think Jillian would totally predict this book within a few chapters...) So, I was a little surprised at the outcome. Allie's big secret took me by surprise and turned the whole book upside down.

 I enjoyed Breaking Beautiful as a light read. In a mystery, I would prefer a little more suspense but was between books so enjoyed this break from my normal genre. I would call this a romantic mystery. Love that there was nothing even implied inappropriately!

You tell me, "Does time heal all wounds"?

I give Breaking Beautiful 3 1/2 stars.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Duke's Undoing

A Regency Romance by G.G. Vandagriff

Publisher's Notes: Meet the Duke of Ruisdell, the unlikely hero of my new Regency Romance.

The duke has just returned from the Napoleonic wars on the Iberian Peninsula with a wound in his shin, where a musket ball was lodged. He is weary, cynical, and very bored. Known as the worst rake in England, he finds he has no interest in upholding that distinction, when his friend, the Marquis of Somerset, proposes a bet: “Five thousand guineas says that seducing Miss Elise Edwards will cure your ennui.” Because his friend has just lost a packet to him, he agrees that the bet be posted in White’s famous Betting Book.

The following day, he has a most unsettling experience. Walking in Green Park, he spies a mysterious young woman, veiled, and obviously grieving. A disembodied voice, sounding strangely like that of his late adjutant, informs him, “The jig is up. That is the girl you are going to marry!” He scoffs, but is nevertheless intrigued by something about the slight figure. He even sketches her and asks if he can be of assistance to her. She declines his offer kindly.

At the opera that evening, he is again intrigued by a beauty across the Opera Hall. He hears the same voice, saying the same thing. The marquis informs him that the woman in question is Miss Elise Edwards. When he meets her, he recognizes her voice as that of the woman in the park. Now she is surrounded by a surfeit of ex-fiance’s, one of them dangerously unbalanced. Ruisdell discovers an actual bond between them which makes him honor bound to protect her.
Thus begins a train of unstoppable events–dangerous, humorous, devilish, and amorous–that carry his life along at such a pace that the duke soon knows not whether he is on his head or his heels. And then there is that bet . . 

Mandi's Review: To be quite honest, I don't believe I've read many Regency Romance novels, and I wasn't quite sure what to expect. However, GG Vandagriff did not disappoint. This novel is filled with intrique, turmoil, a bit of comedy, and a LOT heart-fluttering romance. I loved the characters, especially those of Elise Edwards and the complex duke of Ruisdell. Elise is the perfect heroine. She is intelligent, snarky yet sweet, and passionate about life. In my mind, the duke is as handsome as ever, and exhibits just the right amount of dark brooding mixed with heart-warming sincerity.  Vandagriff weaves romantic tension between these two characters in a way that will leave your heart thrilling. The plot, though a little slow at first, picks right up and keeps you turning the pages until the very end. This story is definitely one that you will want to read over and over again. I can't wait to read more by G.G. Vandagriff.  

The Duke's Undoing is available on Amazon Kindle today for only $2.99 !!! Definitely check it out! You won't be disappointed. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Wide-Awake Princess by E.D. Baker

Synopsis (from
In this new stand-alone fairy tale, Princess Annie is the younger sister to Gwen, the princess destined to be Sleeping Beauty. When Gwennie pricks her finger and the whole castle falls asleep, only Annie is awake, and only Annie—blessed (or cursed?) with being impervious to magic—can venture out beyond the rose-covered hedge for help. She must find Gwen's true love to kiss her awake.

But who is her true love? The irritating Digby? The happy-go-lucky Prince Andreas, who is holding a contest to find his bride? The conniving Clarence, whose sinister motives couldn't possibly spell true love? Joined by one of her father's guards, Liam, who happened to be out of the castle when the sleeping spell struck, Annie travels through a fairy tale land populated with characters both familiar and new as she tries to fix her sister and her family . . . and perhaps even find a true love of her own.

Jillian’s Review:
Cute but predictable. Annie is a fun, energetic, and determined main character and was enjoyable to read about. I wasn’t a fan of what a negative image Baker gave Princess Gwennie (AKA Princess Aurora from Disney’s Sleeping Beauty), but I understand this isn’t Disney and Baker wanted to put a little twist to the storyline.

There were lots of little adventures that Annie encountered with her trusty Knight. Unfortunately everything was so predictable that it became almost mundane to read. If you have to choose between reading this or Tuesday at the Castle pick the Castle, it’s much better written and not nearly as predictable. Plus, the romance isn’t mushy and out of place like in Wide-Awake Princess.
I think this book is perfect for the younger reader, probably age 8-12.


The Nature of Jade

From Goodreads:
I am not my illness. "Girl with Anxiety," "Trauma of the Week" -- no. I hate stuff like that. Everyone, everyone has their issue. But the one thing my illness did make me realize is how necessary it is to ignore the dangers of living in order to live. And how much trouble you can get into if you can't.

Jade DeLuna is too young to die. She knows this, and yet she can't quite believe it, especially when the terrifying thoughts, loss of breath, and dizzy feelings come. Since being diagnosed with Panic Disorder, she's trying her best to stay calm, and visiting the elephants at the nearby zoo seems to help. That's why Jade keeps the live zoo webcam on in her room, and that's where she first sees the boy in the red jacket. A boy who stops to watch the elephants. A boy carrying a baby.

His name is Sebastian, and he is raising his son alone. Jade is drawn into Sebastian's cozy life with his son and his activist grandmother on their Seattle houseboat, and before she knows it, she's in love. With this boy who has lived through harder times than anyone she knows. This boy with a past.

Jade knows the situation is beyond complicated, but she hasn't felt this safe in a long time. She owes it all to Sebastian, her boy with the great heart. Her boy who is hiding a terrible secret. A secret that will force Jade to decide between what is right, and what feels right.

Master storyteller Deb Caletti has once again created characters so real, you will be breathless with anticipation as their riveting story unfolds.

From Misty:
I can't say that I was necessarily breathless with anticipation, nor that this story was riveting, but I liked it.  I recently read The Fortunes of Indigo Sky and didn't like it.  I also read The Secret Life of Prince Charming, and I did like it, so I thought this might be the tie breaker, and it was.  Clicking "Like."  (click)

Place a normal teen in a completely unreal situation and you get a Deb Caletti book.  Only, they aren't normal teens.  They can't be.  Are there teenagers like this?  I don't know any teens like this.  I never have, not even when I was a teenager, so I just find these books very hard to believe.  They are like fantasy novels to me.  Are there 16 year olds that get drunk every weekend?  And parents that let them?  And other teens that envy them?  I just don't get it.

But besides the fantasy landscape you have to accept, the writing is good, the characters (feelings) are real and raw and believable, and the overall product leaves you with a good impression of a novel you cannot quite take at face value. Every so often, Caletti will impart a bit of information, and if you are not careful or impressionable (like say, a teenager) you might take it as a bit of wisdom.  But a lot of these "ah-hah" moments are opinions, Caletti-isms.  I would be reading along and think, "Oh what a clever way to say that," immediately followed by, "But...that's not true."

Anyway, though I am still making up my mind about Caletti, The Nature of Jade was a good YA read I would recommend to lovers of YA who don't mind a little swearing, like a sweet little romance, and enjoy reading about social and emotional difficulties getting mostly conquered.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Princess Sisters

by Stacy Lynn Carroll

Publisher's Review: What happens when you mix five modern teenagers with five fairytale princesses? Belle, Cinderella, Aurora, Ariel, and Snow White Princess are cousins (and best friends) stuck with names they're not too fond of...and now together they must face the challenge of getting ready for high school--a world where fitting in is definitely a must. But how will they ever fit in when they're destined to stand out? Or, perhaps more importantly, how will their friendship ever survive when the five Princesses all set their minds on one Prince?

Mandi's Review: This book is cute!! The Princess Sisters written by Author Stacy Lynn Carroll is a fun, witty, coming-of-age story. This is a story about five cousins who all share the same last name of Princess. Then to make matters worse, their mothers gave them all Disney princess names:Snow White, Belle, Cinderella, Aurora and Ariel. Ready to enter high school, the girls are wondering how they will ever fit in, and when a handsome new boy moves in across the street it makes things all the more complicated. This book is definitely a cute read. The characters are true to life and you can easily relate to their experiences with high school and growing up. Each girl offered something to the story and it was fun to read how they interacted with one another. I loved their relationships and how they handled their unique names. I recommend this book to tweens and adults alike. Its fun, its clean, and it will leave a smile on your face.

I give The Princess Sisters 5 out of 5 stars and invite you to get to know the author of this adorable book a little more.....

To purchase The Princess Sisters visit Amazon today! (* Available on Kindle for only $3.96)
To learn more about Author Stacy Lynn Carroll visit

Meet Stacy Lynn Carroll...

1. Tell us about your book.

                “The Princess Sisters” first started when my husband and I were on a car drive and the topic of baby names came up. I mentioned that when I was a little girl, I had wanted to name my daughter Aurora, after my favorite princess. Then when I was much older, I really loved the name Belle for a little girl. Well that dream was dashed when I married a man named Carroll!  Referencing both those princess names made me wonder what would happen if a mother named all her daughters after fairy tale princesses. That night, I went home and wrote the prologue.
                “The Princess Sisters” is about five cousins of the same age who were all named after princesses in hopes that they would find princes who would treat them well. The girls grow up struggling with their names and their   identities. For example, Ariel is terrified of the water and Snow White won’t even touch apples. The girls also learn a lesson or two on dating and how to tell the difference between a frog and a prince. It’s a modern tale with ties to old-age fairy tales about discovering your own individuality and being happy with what you find.

2.When did you first start writing?

                Elementary school. Whenever I had the chance to write a story for a school assignment, I jumped on it!  I started  winning contests for my writing in high school and that’s when I discovered it was more than just a hobby.  So I went to college and received my degree in creative writing, and have been doing it ever since!

3. What was your inspiration for The Princess Sisters?

                Oops. I already answered this question with the first one. You can go back and read it again. It’s okay, I’ll wait.

4. What is your favorite hobby besides writing?

                Oh man, that’s tough! I am the mother of two under the age of two, so I barely have enough time for the one hobby! I do enjoy painting though; anything from the walls of my house to holiday decorations.

5. What is your favorite food?

                I like food! This answer changes, depending on the mood I am in at that moment. Right now pizza sounds really good. I love a good, homemade pizza with lots of fresh veggies on it. Yummy!

6. If you could choose anywhere in the world to live, where would it be?

                Forever?  If it was for the rest of my life, I would choose Virginia. I used to be a nanny there and I completely fell in love with the east coast, Virginia in particular! It’s green and beautiful, close to some awesome cities like NYC and DC, but still far enough away to feel homey. It’s also close enough to the beach, and doesn’t have massive amounts of snow. If it was just for a couple years, I’ve always thought it would be cool to live in Ireland. Return to my roots and explore another country for a while. It’s beautiful (from what I’ve seen in pictures) and they speak English, which would be a big plus. 

Thanks Stacy for being a part of my blog today!! 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Maze of Bones by Rick Riordan

I have read books by Rick Riordan before and really liked them.  (Remember Percy Jackson and the Olympians?)  Well, Rick Riordan has started another series of books called The 39 Clues, and it has been so much fun to read!  I've read the first three books in the last three days and I'm really enjoying them.  It has helped to read them all together (so I can remember what is happening!) 

From the 39 Clues website:  The 39 Clues series centers around the Cahills—the most powerful family the world has ever known. But the source of the family's power has been lost. Grace Cahill, the last matriarch of the Cahills, changed her will minutes before she died, leaving her descendants an impossible decision: receive a million dollars or a clue. The first Cahill to assemble all 39 clues hidden around the world will discover what makes the family so powerful—a reward beyond measure. It's Cahill versus Cahill in a race to the finish, with readers hot on the heels of the main characters, fourteen-year-old Amy Cahill and her eleven-year-old brother, Dan.

From Heather:  The characters are really fun in these books.  I really like Dan and Amy, although it's a little hard to believe they are 11 and 14 and jetting around the world.  But it works!  :)  Their parents died when they were younger and they have been raised by Aunt Beatrice, who is stingy and grumpy.  Their only rays of sunshine come from their grandmother, Grace Cahill.  Right before Grace dies (at the beginning of the book!) she changes her will.  Her family members each have the option to take 1 million dollars or a clue that will lead them to one of the 39 clues.

The rest of the story is a non-stop adventure, as the other members of the Cahill family are out for blood and have no reservations about taking what they want - whatever the cost.  They race from place to place with their au pair (NOT nanny!) Nellie, who is a little crazy (but you would have to be to join the hunt for clues!)

These books are written for kids 8-12.  And the interesting thing about the series is that each book is written by a different author.  Rick Riordan, Gordon Korman (2), Peter Lerangis (2), Jude Watson (2), Patrick Carman, Linda Sue Park and Margaret Peterson Haddix.  The last book is written by four authors, Riordan, Korman, Lerangis and Watson.

I am really enjoying this series and I can't wait to finish all 11 books.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Fever by Lauren Destefano

Synopsis (from
Running away brings Rhine and Gabriel right into a trap, in the form of a twisted carnival whose ringmistress keeps watch over a menagerie of girls. Just as Rhine uncovers what plans await her, her fortune turns again. With Gabriel at her side, Rhine travels through an environment as grim as the one she left a year ago - surroundings that mirror her own feelings of fear and hopelessness.

The two are determined to get to Manhattan, to relative safety with Rhine’s twin brother, Rowan. But the road there is long and perilous - and in a world where young women only live to age twenty and young men die at twenty-five, time is precious. Worse still, they can’t seem to elude Rhine’s father-in-law, Vaughn, who is determined to bring Rhine back to the any means necessary.

In the sequel to Lauren DeStefano’s harrowing
Wither, Rhine must decide if freedom is worth the price - now that she has more to lose than ever.
Jillian’s Review:
I didn't like this as much as the first one (Wither). The first few chapters were really gross—all about them being stuck in the red-light-district—and I'm not happy to think there are teenagers out there reading that nastiness. But it got better as it went along, and it was nice to have more time spend with Rhine (still hate her name) and – together, even if they’re running the majority of the time.
I found it strange how much time was spent inside Rhine's "fevered" brain when only half of it made sense so the reader isn’t quite sure what’s real and what’s not. DeStefano could have condensed it into one chapter and moved on with the story and it wouldn’t have hurt the novel at all.
Even though there was no resolution, it still had an interesting ending and I'm for sure reading the third, and I believe the final one in this series (Untitled, release date: April 1,2013).

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Raging Rivers by Taylor Brady

On the front and back covers:

"A Family Born of the west- and bound by destiny, desire and the bold spirit of the American Frontier.

In wagons, in mule carts and on foot- down treacherous rivers and across endless plains- the pioneers came in search of the Golden Land- drawn ever westward by the glorious promise of the American frontier.

Fleeing the horrors of her past and the vengeance of violent men, young Katherine Carlyle buys passage aboard a flatboat bound for the Western territories- only to be shipwrecked by a catastrophic storm. Exposed to the devastating cruelties of the wilderness, it is Katherine who must lead a helpless group of women and children to safety- following a perilous trail that will carry her toward a rugged enigmatic frontiersman called Byrd Kincaid... and to a love that will bring forth a magnificent dynasty of intrepid adventurers and audacious dreamers."

Jennifer's Review:

I absolutely love Western Romance. I had forgotten that until finding my copy of the book series The Kincaids. Loads of excitement, death, heartbreak, betrayal, and, of course, romance! LOVE this series and will be re-reading it just for fun! :)

I enjoyed how this was written. Kept me turning pages all the way through.

These are rated PG-13.

I give Raging Rivers 4 stars.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Mysterious Messages: A History of Codes and Ciphers by Gary Blackwood

I realize that it almost isn't Wednesday anymore.  I'll be quick!  :)

This week I read Mysterious Messages: A History of Codes and Ciphers by Gary Blackwood.

From  the back of the book:  Spies, intrigue, and mysterious messages: they have changed the course of history.  Now there is a manual to hone the skills of tomorrow's agents.  Uncover the encrypted notes of Spartan warriors, ciphers of Italian princes, ruthless code-crackers of Elizabeth I, communiques from the American Revolution, and spy books of the Civil War. Here are the devilish Enigma machine, the honored Navajo Code Talkers, and many more.

Packed with history's most dangerous secrets and ciphers that readers can use themselves, this journey through the past's best - and most disastrous - codes and ciphers is a young spy's essential training in espionage.

From Heather:  I've gotta admit - I've always loved secret codes!  I'm still not very good at cracking them, but I love the challenge!  This book, while fun to read, is so much fun to look at.  The format and style is probably my favorite part of the book.  It feels like a notebook.  Notes look like they are stuck on each page with paperclips and staples and the pages look worn .  Even the cover of the book is soft and worn.  As much as I loved the content of this book (which I loved!  I mean, who DOESN'T love a good code puzzle now and again!) and I loved reading the history of the codes and ciphers, I really, really loved the look and feel of this book!  Go grab a copy!  It makes great bathroom reading.  (Not that I know that from experience!)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Crossed by Ally Condie

Synopsis (from
Chasing down an uncertain future, Cassia makes her way to the Outer Provinces in pursuit of Ky--taken by the Society to his sure death--only to find that he has escaped into the majestic, but treacherous, canyons. On this wild frontier are glimmers of a different life and the enthralling promise of a rebellion. But even as Cassia sacrifices every thing to reunite with Ky, ingenious surprises from Xander may change the game once again.
Narrated from both Cassia's and Ky's point of view, this hotly anticipated sequel to Matched will take them both to the edge of Society, where nothing is as expected and crosses and double crosses make their path more twisted than ever.

Jillian’s Review:
I liked this one better than the first in the series, Matched. It was great to have the characters spend most of their time outside of the crazy Society and I liked the area where they were. This is not one you could read without reading the first in the trilogy. All of the made-up terms used for things weren’t defined, but thankfully I remembered most of them from the first book.

I was disappointed that Cassia and Ky barely had any time together before they’re separated yet again... and what's with Cassia waffling between Ky and the Golden Boy Xander again? She made up her mind who she wanted in the first book, do we really need to go back to that annoying chapter in her life?? She she’s so indecisive that by the last paragraph where she says she’s going to meet him tomorrow, I’m not at all sure who “him” is! Annoying. Just pick a guy and get on with it.

Once again, nothing was really resolved and I will be reading book three (Reached, release date: November 13, 2012) so I will finally know what’s going to happen.

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Accidental Bride by Denise Hunter

From Goodreads:
Two high-school sweethearts, a wedding reenactment, and one absent-minded preacher. Is it a recipe for disaster or a chance for a new beginning?
From Misty:
Wow, short blurb, Goodreads.  That really puts the pressure on me.
Pleasantly, pleasantly surprised with this one.  I've never read Denise Hunter before, and I really liked her writing.  A  lot of romances like this just get thrown together, but this was well thought out and the characters had some depth.
I could see how the bride on the cover and, well, the title might just scream "cheesy" to some, but that's my favorite color of blue and, well, that was enough for me to give it a try.  Plus I thought the premise was cute.  I mean, high-school sweethearts, love gone wrong--what's not to love about that?
Travis and Shay went to the courthouse to get married when they were eighteen, but Travis got cold feet and left her there (yes, on the courthouse steps) to pursue his dream of rodeoing--yeehaw!  He tries to call later, but of course he never gets through.  Over the years, a lot goes wrong for Shay, and when Travis finally comes back to town, she's just about to lose her family's ranch.  When she busts her foot, Travis steps in to run the ranch and win back the heart of the only girl he has ever loved.  But come on, he left her at the alter!  And it takes a long time for Shay to forgive him, but in the end she does.  Nice, huh?
I did not mind the totally phony "accidental marriage."  Hunter includes an aside where she admits it's impossible, but the idea was just too cute not to run with, and I agree.  A little poetic liscence never hurt anybody.  But what I did find hard to swallow was the misunderstanding over the text message.  Shay reads one text message from someone she doesn't know on Travis's phone and calls  the whole thing off?  I know she has trust issues, but if she had learned anything she might have just squared off with him about it, and her spunky, determined, strong-willed character would have--so the whole text message thing was the really unbelievable part.
But notwithstanding that, it was an all around cute read.  Can't remember how clean, but I'm thinking PG.  My copy of The Accidental Bride was attained through Netgalley (thanks!) and I was not compensated in any way for my review.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Mage's Daughter by Lynn Kurland

On the cover:
"Neroch is under assault by a mysterious magic that has stripped its King of his powers and unleashed nightmarish creatures as weapons in a war of evil. Morgan of Melksham is fighting against that menace as well as for her life. Struggling to regain her strength after a near-fatal attack, Morgan realizes that she must decide between two fates: that of being a simple shieldmaiden or accepting her heritage as an elven princess. If only she could forget that she was the daughter of the perilous black mage of Ceangail.

Duty bound to aid his king, Miach of Neroch is torn between what his responsibilities demand and what his heart desires. He is willing to risk his life to save Morgan from the darkness that haunts her, but he must do so at the peril of his realm. Forced to choose between love and the burden of his mantle, Miach sets out on his most deadly quest ever."

Jennifer's Review:

This is the second book in the Nine Kingdoms series. I reviewed number one a little bit ago. I really did have to read number two. I want to read number three because the romance keeps getting better.

One thing I really like about this book is that the majority of the time that Morgan cusses at someone it isn't a bad word but just says that she is upset and curses them. A nice change from some fantasy.

I absolutely love the romance in this series, so far. Nothing inappropriate. Innocent with hints of desire.

And, thank goodness for the powerful magic throughout or our characters would all be slain.

I give The Mage's Daughter four stars.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder

Synopsis (from
Choose: A quick death…Or slow poison…

About to be executed for murder, Yelena is offered an extraordinary reprieve. She'll eat th
e best meals, have rooms in the palace—and risk assassination by anyone trying to kill the Commander of Ixia.

And so Yelena chooses to become a food taster. But the chief of security, leaving nothing to chance, deliberately feeds her Butterfly's Dust—and only by appearing for her daily antidote will she delay an agonizing death from the poison.

As Yelena tries to escape her new dilemma, disasters keep mounting. Rebels plot to seize Ixia and Yelena develops magical powers she can't control. Her life is threatened again and choices must be made. But this time the outcomes aren't so clear…

Jillian’s Review:
I really enjoyed this intelligently written novel. It has a great, strong main character, and dark, powerful, skilled guy with an interesting romance between the two. It was a bit odd to have such a huge age gap between the two, but Yelena seemed older than her age (which is typical of YA novels, I’ve noticed).

I was able to guess at some things, but not everything. It’s always nice to have a few unexpected twists and turns. There was enough happening that I had a few sleepless nights reading, and it was so worth it!

There was a bunch of swearing that felt out of place. I don’t understand why fantasy writers use American cuss words in a made-up world. If there really needs to be swearing, make some words up, but don’t use them ALL THE TIME. This novel was a bit too graphic for what I think teens should be reading, hence the four stars instead of five. Still, I'm looking forward to the next in this trilogy.

Monday, April 2, 2012

It'll Ease the Pain by Frank J. Edwards, MD

Description from Amazon:

The poems and stories in this collection range far and wide, from a vision of life through the eyes of an emergency physician, to the
Vietnam War, to a rooftop during a snow storm, to reminiscences of strange uncles, to parenting, to the disintegration of a marriage on a surrealistic roller coaster somewhere in Mexico, and much more.


Like William Carlos Williams, Edwards brings the wisdom of the clinic to these lyrical poems and gritty short stories. -- Joseph J. Fins, MD, FACP, Chief, Division of Medical Ethics, Weill Medical College of Cornell University.

By drawing us into these 23 pieces, the author connects with the reader on a deep but accessible & personal level. -- Paul DesOrmeaux, English Department, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY.

This is a marvelous collection of poems and short stories. The title story "It'll Ease the Pain" paints a portrait of one doctor's 24-hour stint that is fresh and unforgettable. This book is filled with fascinating vignettes, delivered by a master wordsmith -- H.H. Gregory, Asheville, North Carolina

From Misty:

I have something kind of different for you today.

A few months ago, a reviewed Dr. Edwards' Final Mercy, a medical suspense that I thoroughly enjoyed reading.  One of the reasons I liked it so much was the great, lyrical prose, so I was not at all surprised to find that Edwards also had a book of poetry and short stories.

I have a bit of a sweet-tooth for poetry.  I have always liked it, always identified with it, always been able to express myself with it.  Since I started writing novels two years ago, I haven't written any new poetry, and so reading It'll Ease the Pain was like drinking a class of cool fresh...I would say water, but I sort of hate water, so like drinking a tall glass of milk over ice with a delicious meal.  It's always my first inclination when I read a poem to critique it, to break it apart and find the layers of intended meaning, and then to put it back together to find what it means to me.  I'm going to spare you all that (and besides, there is way too much material here to work with), and just highlight some of my favorite things.

Samuel Coleridge said something like Prose is the best use of words.  Poetry is the best use of the best words (I know I'm totally misquoting).  In It'll Ease the Pain, Edwards uses an insightful, deliberate use of the best words to express his thoughts. 

See, poems don't simply tell a story or paint a picture.  Instead, they illume single ideas and evoke complex emotions. 

I particularly like this in Uncle Tony.  Edwards tells us about
"the fifth of seven sons...
who worked for fifty years
washing sheets and pajamas
in the basement laundry of a hospital"
and who was the 
"solo Catholic in our Lutheran family...
and who badly wanted a midnight
Christmas Eve mass
and who is going to get it."
(I kind of butchered that up for brevity)

Beautiful snapshot of Tony, but I think so much of the meaning in the poem (for those of you who read a poem, furrow your brow, and say, "Okay, but what does it mean?") lies in answer to the question, "Why is the author going to see that Uncle Tony gets to Christmas Eve mass?"

Edwards creates memorable images with his clever descriptions.  The first poem in the book (and I love that it was placed first) is called Cocaine.  It's about an addict in withdrawal in the emergency room. 

"Wanting sleep, I am combing through the
of tempests passed,
when he sails by me
in a wheelchair.
His head thrown back,
his face tear-streaked--
his hands balled into a single fist,
with which
he rhythmically bilge pumps
the center
of his breast,
doing auto-CPR

And certain if he stops
he's dead."

Not an image that you just forget.  You can't help but feel sorry for the guy, but do you feel more sorry for him or for the guy who is combing through charts?  Which one are you more like?

Another image I just loved was in the poem Apples. 

"I open the door in August
to the smell of cider...

...but its wizened skin
offers no resistance to my teeth,
the fruit itself like wet sand..."

About apples or about something else entirely?  Things go bad or die or fizzle out when you don't tend to them as you should.  What have you been leaving undone?

There are eighteen poems and five stories, which are also quite good.  Edwards is completely on par with many of the great modern poets, and if you like poetry or short stories at all, I highly recommend It'll Ease the Pain.