Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Guardians of the Hidden Scepter by Frank L. Cole

This Friday I have the opportunity to review the second book in this series by Frank Cole, so I thought I had better read the first book, just to get up to speed!  =]

From the book:  Amber's favorite teacher, Dorothy Holcomb, is missing, and it's up to Amber and her archaeology  classmates to rescue their teacher and recover the ancient artifact Dorothy's trying to protect.  But with codes to crack, clues to follow, and more danger at every turn, this mission may be more than four teenagers can handle - not to mention the fact that they're being chased by an evil organization that will stop at nothing to claim the artifact for itself.

From Heather:  From the start, this book looks right up my alley!  I love books about archaeology and mysteries and clues and adventure!  The book starts with the following line: "Two flashlight beams cut through the darkness of the museum, leaving me no choice but to drop down below the stone sarcophagus."  From that moment, it's adventure after adventure for Amber and Trendon and Lisa and Joseph.  Their teacher sends them a coded message and they learn that she is in trouble.  So they set off to help her, and run into some really bad guys on the way.

I really did like this book.  I liked the adventure and the different places that the author takes you to in his writing.  He has done a wonderful job of keeping the pace moving and making you want to find out what comes next.   I really liked Trendon as the computer geek, and while Amber wasn't my favorite character, she was smart and adventurous and determined to find the artifact.  (I would have liked a little bit of a relationship between the two of them, but sadly, no.)  I also liked the biblical tie-ins to the story, some interesting, imaginative ideas that were fun to consider.  It's an all around good, clean, fun read.

There were a few nit-picky things that I struggled with throughout the book, but those seem to have worked themselves out in the second book (which I will review on Friday!)  Some of the action is a little intense, so I think the age recommendation is 14 and up.  That sounds about right.  =]   Check back on Friday and read the review of the next book in the series, The Guardians of Elijah's Fire!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Everneath by Brodi Ashton


Synopsis (from goodreads.com):
Last spring, Nikki Beckett vanished, sucked into an underworld known as the Everneath, where immortals Feed on the emotions of despairing humans. Now she's returned- to her old life, her family, her friends- before being banished back to the underworld... this time forever.

She has six months before the Everneath comes to claim her, six months for good-byes she can't find the words for, six months to find redemption, if it exists.

Nikki longs to spend these months reconnecting with her boyfriend, Jack, the one person she loves more than anything. But there's a problem: Cole, the smoldering immortal who first enticed her to the Everneath, has followed Nikki to the mortal world. And he'll do whatever it takes to bring her back- this time as his queen.

As Nikki's time grows short and her relationships begin slipping from her grasp, she's forced to make the hardest decision of her life: find a way to cheat fate and remain on the Surface with Jack or return to the Everneath and become Cole's.

Jillian’s Review:
Amazingly beautiful cover, probably the most beautiful cover I've ever seen… but the story—megh—not so much. I hate it when books go back and forth from the past to the present, especially when it feels like we're just waiting for the train-wreck to happen.

Also, there was way too much "telling" instead of "showing" and even one paragraph described how we were supposed to have perceived the main character, Nikki, at the end of the book that I didn't get at all.

Nikki's epiphany was pathetic... it took her more than half the book to realize that the emotions she felt for one guy were artificially produced and that the other guy was the right choice. Not a whole lot of growth for this girl.

The one redeeming quality in this novel was the guy, Jack. He was strong and unbelievably faithful. I loved everything about him. If only we could pluck him out of this horrible story and place him with someone who deserved him and with a storyline that we could tolerate. Don't get me wrong, I think Ashton is a great storyteller. Her scenes and characters are realistic, I would just didn't enjoy to story or Nikki and the gross Cole.

And just one more thing; Cole was nowhere near “smoldering” as described in the synopsis. He was just a chain-smoking jerk. Ugh.

Sad waste of a great cover.


Monday, May 28, 2012

I'd Tell You I Love You, but Then I'd Have to Kill You by Ally Carter



Synopsis from Goodreads.com: Cammie Morgan is a student at the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women, a fairly typical all-girls school-that is, if every school taught advanced martial arts in PE and the latest in chemical warfare in science, and students received extra credit for breaking CIA codes in computer class. The Gallagher Academy might claim to be a school for geniuses but it's really a school for spies. Even though Cammie is fluent in fourteen languages and capable of killing a man in seven different ways, she has no idea what to do when she meets an ordinary boy who thinks she's an ordinary girl. Sure, she can tap his phone, hack into his computer, or track him through town with the skill of a real "pavement artist"-but can she maneuver a relationship with someone who can never know the truth about her? Cammie Morgan may be an elite spy-in-training, but in her sophomore year, she's on her most dangerous mission-falling in love.

Christina (guest post) Review: I absolutely LOVE Ally Carter's books. This is number 1 in the Gallagher Girls Series (there are currently 5 total in this series). Ally Carter does a fantastic job captivating her reader. The books are entertaining and clean. Very important quality for me. The characters are fabulous! After going to an all girls school Cammie is trying to figure out boys. . . what different postures, looks and responses mean. She has her best friends there every step of the way to help her.
It is a fun, light read. And once you read the first one, you'll be hooked!!!!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The False Princess by Eilis O'Neal


On the back:

  "According to the oracle, there was a chance the princess could die, murdered, before her sixteenth birthday. All the oracle saw was blood, and the princess dead in this room."

  But I am sixteen, I thought hazily. Is that what they want to tell me, that I'm safe now?

  My father went on. "The princess was the only heir. We had to keep her safe, no matter what the cost... We hid the princess away so she would be safe until after her sixteenth birthday. And we replaced her with another baby, a false princess. You."

  I am alone, I thought as I gazed around the hall. All of this, all of my life, it was a dream. And it is ending.

  "What is my name?" I asked. For the first time, the queen stirred, raising her head to look at me. "Sinda," she said, her voice thin. "He said your name was Sinda."

  Jennifer's Review:

  This is a book I could not put down. Ask my family, it was constantly in my hands until I was done.

 Great story line, neat main character, good clean romance, magic and adventure.

 There were quite a few editing errors making me wish I could have gone through it before it was published and helped out a little. It always detracts from the story when you have to read and re-read something just to understand that part of it was a type-o.

  I give The False Princess 3 1/2 stars. It would be four stars if not for all of the long descriptive paragraphs. There were many times I just skipped a paragraph to get to the juice of the story. A couple of times I went back to read what I had skipped and found that it wasn't anything that kept the story going. Lots of pretty words and nice descriptions but they, to me, were just too long.

 Still, I think you'll enjoy it!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

A Novel by Anna del C. Dye

Publisher's Notes: The deep relationship between Amaria, the princess of Abalon and Marken, the chancellor’s son, comes to a halting stop after their kingdom is almost annihilated. However, death isn’t the only thing this battle brings. Elfs come to their rescue and, as a souvenir, take the princess home with them.

Blinded by fury, the overprotecting queen orders the extermination of the mighty elfs. Her captains know they can never win, so they are pleased when Amaria intervenes so desperately that she loses her mother. The unprepared princess is left to care for a kingdom that will demand her true love.

A Royal Elf of Abalon is the stand-alone continuation of Anna’s Elf series. Once again she has crafted an exciting new tale full of jealousy, betrayals, and death. A Royal Elf of Abalon is a masterpiece created in the genre of Tolkien that you’ll love to the end.

Mandi's Review: From the moment I had the chance to meet Author Anna del C. Dye I have been intrigued with her stories. I'm not usually one who enjoys elves and fantasy, but when asked to review A Royal Elf of Abalon I didn't hesitate, and I'm glad I didn't. A Royal Elf of Abalon follows a young princess, Amaria. Raised by a cruel and jealous queen, Amaria leads a sheltered life, but when enemies attack the kingdom, Amaria is sent away. Soon, the young princess discovers all is not right in her kingdom. Her mother's cruelty goes beyond anything Amaria believed, and after she meet Kurzan, an elf who has come to the kingdom's rescue, the story really takes off. The author does a fantastic job keeping readers engaged. The plot twists and turns, and Dye has developed strong, unique characters that will leave a lasting impression.This story is filled with high adventure, intrigue, and a secret, forbidden love. If you loved Lord of The Rings, Dye's books are sure to keep you reading late into the night.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey


Synopsis (from goodreads.com):
Marrying a vampire definitely doesn’t fit into Jessica Packwood’s senior year “get-a-life” plan. But then a bizarre (and incredibly hot) new exchange student named Lucius Vladescu shows up, claiming that Jessica is a Romanian vampire princess by birth—and he’s her long-lost fiancĂ©. Armed with newfound confidence and a copy of Growing Up Undead: A Teen Vampire’s Guide to Dating, Health, and Emotions, Jessica makes a dramatic transition from average American teenager to glam European vampire princess. But when a devious cheerleader sets her sights on Lucius, Jess finds herself fighting to win back her wayward prince, stop a global vampire war—and save Lucius’s soul from eternal destruction.

Jillian’s Review:
This was well written, but both the guy and girl were annoying. Jessica was unimaginative, weak, and only grew because a guy told that she was more than she thought she was. Ugh. And Lucius! He was as bad as his name: completely self-absorbed, arrogant, and disloyal. The only time I liked him was when the story was from his point of view (POV) in the letters he wrote to his uncle. Then we discover how sarcastic and intelligent he was.

I did like that Jessica is actually born a vampire and isn’t just corrupted as in most vamp stories. And the passion… it was pretty amazing. I was surprised how Fanstaskey was able to make the biting scene more steamy than any of the kissing scenes (no worries, it’s not too descriptive) combined. I never thought being bit by a vampire could be more tantalizing than being kissed by one! Lol

But, be warned: the audiobook SUCKED! I think most of me being annoyed was because of the narrator. She sounded like she was in her 40’s, which is really bad when you’re narrating from a 17 year old girl’s POV. And the fake, Count Dracula accent she used for Lucia was just heinous! The only time I could stand listening to Lucius was when it was in his POV (the letters) and a guy narrated… maybe that’s why I liked that part of the novel best.


I give it three generous stars all because of the romance.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Lady Anne's Quest

From Goodreads:
Love Lost. . .and Found

Lady Anne Stone believes her prayers are answered and she’s at last found her long lost uncle. Unwilling to let her meet him on her own, Daniel Adams accompanies her to her uncle’s ranch. But instead of answers, Anne is left with more questions. Both Dan and Anne are convinced the man introduced as her uncle is an imposter and decide to continue the search for the new Earl of Stoneford.

But now the swindler is on their trail, hoping to steal Uncle David’s inheritance. Dan has his hands full trying to protect Anne, but he finds he must guard his heart just as carefully. Even though he’s good at keeping her safe, he knows he’ll never convince Anne to become a farmer’s wife in Oregon when she has her sights set on returning to her home in England. But as Anne’s quest becomes even more difficult — and dangerous — Anne begins to see Dan differently. Will she soon be envisioning a new life in America?


Misty's Review:

I tried so hard to like this book. I SO wish I had gotten ahold of this manuscript before it got submitted to a publisher. I want to tell you it was a light, cute romantic mystery, but I can't. Maybe we could just blame the cover blurb for being misleading...

I found two main problems with Lady Anne's Quest. First, Davis spent half the novel characterizing the wrong people. Was I supposed to be sympathetic to the villians? Why? I didn't want to get to know them. I didn't want their every move laid out in front of me. This made the book so tedious and predictible, I didn't want to read to the end, and after a week of valiantly trying, I skipped the last 40 percent and scanned the last chapter. Yep. Just as suspected.

While spending so much precious word count on tedious descriptions of what the villians were doing, Davis failed, completely failed, to characterize the main characters. The ones who I was supposed to like. The ones who were supposed to be falling in love. I'm giving it the benefit of the doubt that the character descriptions were in the first book of the series, creatively titled, The Lady's Maid, (great, now I'm getting sarcastic), a book I admitedly have not read. In which case, this would just be like a really long Epilogue to that. And that doesn't have to be bad--I classified Enduring Light by Carla Kelly that way, and found it a delightful read. But, needing to like the characters I'm reading about (Anne was a clueless cold fish, and Dan was a big incompetent sissy--plus, Anne and Dan? Bleh), this book just did not do it for me.

This sounds like such a terrible review of a book that had clean romance, great writing, and an intriguing premise. But the romance was so clean it was boring, the writing so detailed and focused on the wrong things, the banter didn't ring true, the characters made a series of unwise choices when they were otherwise (supposedly) characterized as smart and capable, and the premise wasn't played out as interestingly as it could have been. I think other people might like this (Laura), and I might have under different circumstances (I had read and loved the first book, I had not expected to really like it, or maybe listened to a fantastic narrator read it on Audiobook or something). It's not a terrible book, but it's not very...satisfying either.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Journal of Curious Letters (The 13th Reality #1) by James Dashner

From Goodreads:  What if every time you made a choice that had a significant consequence, a new, alternate reality was created — the life that would've been? What if those new Realities were in danger? What if it fell to you to save all the realities?

Atticus Higginbottom, a.k.a. Tick, is a regular thirteen-year-old boy living a regular life until the day a strange letter arrives in his mailbox. Postmarked from Alaska and cryptically signed with the initials "M.G.," the letter informs Tick that dangerous — perhaps even deadly — events have been set in motion that could result in the destruction of reality itself. M.G. promises to send Tick twelve riddles that will reveal that on a certain day, at a certain time, at a certain place, something extraordinary will happen.

Will Tick have the courage to follow the twelve clues M.G. sends to him? Will he be able to solve the riddles in time? As M.G. warns Tick, very frightening things are coming your way. Will you join Tick and his friends on an amazing journey through the Realities? What will your choice be?


From Heather:  I loved this book!  The writing was colorful and fun to read, the characters were well developed and the story was fantastical and engaging.  I fell in love with Tick!  But the thing that I probably loved the most about him (and the book!) is that he let his dad know what was happening.  His dad didn't go on his adventures with him, but he is a source of strength when things are hard and I love that there was a parent involved.  I realize that books written for kids need to have kids as the main characters, but as a parent, I LOVED that the parents were involved in the story.

I have picked up the next two books in the series and can't wait to get reading them!  The clues that were given were a little odd and had Tick do some odd things.  But the story was packed full of action and extremely colorful characters.  Love this book!  Five stars!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Drought by Pam Bachorz

Synopsis (from goodreads.com):
Ruby Prosser dreams of escaping the Congregation and the early-nineteenth century lifestyle that’s been practiced since the community was first enslaved.

She plots to escape the vicious Darwin West, his cruel Overseers, and the daily struggle to gather the life-prolonging Water that keeps the Congregants alive and gives Darwin his wealth and power. But if Ruby leaves, the Congregation will die without the secret ingredient that makes the Water special: her blood.

So she stays.

But when Ruby meets Ford, the new Overseer who seems barely older than herself, her desire for freedom is too strong. He’s sympathetic, irresistible, forbidden—and her only access to the modern world. Escape with Ford would be so simple, but can Ruby risk the terrible price, dooming the only world she’s ever known?

Jillian’s Review:
I’m so excited to share this book with you! It was a wonderfully written, intriguing YA fantasy novel. The characters were completely realistic and their world was easy to imagine. I loved Ruby! She was smart, strong, giving, and willing to take chances. I think even those who aren’t fans of fantasy (Misty) would appreciate this one, especially since the magical element wasn’t over-the-top.
It was a little unrealistic how quickly Ford and Ruby became interested in each other, considering how strange Ruby must have seemed to Ford and how completely untrustworthy Ford must have appeared to Ruby since he was one of her Overseers. But it worked, and I loved the passion between them… and how Bachorz kept it clean.

The one problem I had with this novel was how I couldn’t ever remember what anyone looked like. Even Ruby’s appearance wasn’t described more than once or twice. I knew she had wild hair but couldn’t for the life of me remember what color it was. And it seemed like her eyes were brown but in the cover they’re blue, so I kept going back looking for the original description of her but I never found it. Considering what a picky reader I am, it’s pretty incredible that that was the only thing that annoyed me!

I’m flabbergasted by the poor reviews of this on goodreads because this is the closest thing to perfection I’ve read in the YA fantasy genera since The Girl of Fire and Thorns.



Saturday, May 12, 2012

Daughters of Jared by HB Moore



From the author's website:

"From the Book of Ether comes a haunting story of two royal sisters. The elder sister, Ash, will do anything to bring her father, King Jared II, back to the throne. The younger sister, Naiva, only wants to save her family from destruction. Greed and the quest for power blend together in H.B. Moore’s volatile new novel, Daughters of Jared. The bond of sisterhood becomes precariously fragile when one man . . . named Akish . . . falls in love with the younger sister, Naiva. Yet he chooses to marry the elder sister. The sisters’ hearts are divided. And when Ash becomes queen, seduced by the promise of power and wealth, Naiva watches her world crumble away. She sees only one way out. But it will require forsaking all that she holds dear."

I was given a copy of Daughters of Jared from the author to read and review. I am so grateful for this opportunity. Heather B Moore is one of my favorite authors because she is able to bring scripture stories to life. She causes me to want to open my scriptures and re-read the true story now that I feel I know the characters better. The desire to read scriptures is always a good thing! Of course, this is historical fiction and that is what makes it such a fun read.

 Fun may not be the right word to describe Daughters, though. It is such a sad and scary thing when someone you love turns to evil to fulfill desires.

This story moves along at a nice pace. At one point in the story Naiva decides to leave. I kept trying to tell her to look behind her and keep a better watch. These characters are real to me. Very important in a story of any kind but most of all, I believe, in historical fiction. We have to be able to relate in some way for the story to touch us.

Daughters is a great read. Nice and easy and fast paced.

Here is a little taste of Heather's writing style and why I love her so much:
"Filth surrounded me. Damp air permeated my skin. I felt the dirt in my hair, in my clothes, and beneath my feet."
Can't you just imagine yourself there? I know this is a short blurb but I am one to leave the details for the reader. :)

I give Daughters of Jared four stars.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Extra-Ordinary Princess by Carolyn Q. Ebbitt

From Goodreads:  Amelia, the fourth sister in a line of princesses, is sure her red hair and non-princessy ways–not to mention being the last-born–will mean an easy life of never being queen. But when an ancient curse comes to life, an evil uncle tries to take over their peaceful kingdom, and her three sisters are turned into a tree and two swans, Amelia and her best friend Henry must gather the forces of her magically blessed family, and save Gosling from complete destruction. 

From Heather:  This book was a pick for our book club this month, and I was excited to read it.  With three little princesses of my own, princess books are right up my alley!  So I really, really wanted to fall in love with this book.  I wanted it to be my favorite book ever.  And I liked it, just maybe not as much as I'd hoped.

The book is about Amelia mostly, but it's told from multiple points of view at various times.  At the beginning of the story Amelia's parents are killed by a plague, but not a normal sickness.  Her evil uncle Raven is using his magic to kill the people of the kingdom of Gossling, trying to take over the kingdom for himself.  Suddenly, Amelia and her sisters have to find a way to take control back.  Only before they can, her oldest sister is turned into a tree and her older twin sisters are turned into swans.  That just leaves Amelia and her friend Henry to save the kingdom.  


Amelia and Henry travel from one place to another, trying to save the kingdom, and I think this is where I really struggled with the book.  It seems to me like there is no purpose to the places that they go.  They only have 40 days before the sisters are transformed into a tree and swans forever.  And Amelia and Henry spend WEEKS traveling back and forth to enchanted places in the kingdom, but as soon as they get there, they go somewhere else.  I don't know, it just seemed really chaotic to me and I never could quite tell why they had to go the places that they did.  But they sure spent a lot of time going there.  This would have been a good time for some character development, while they were traveling, but sadly there wasn't much.  I would have loved to see anything of the relationship between Amelia and Henry...not even a romantic one, because they are young, but I kept waiting to see why they were such good friends, and I never got that.  The characters seem really one-dimensional.  I would have loved to get to know them better.


That is my only gripe about the book, though, and I really did enjoy reading it.  I love the messages of the women of the book, the queen before she died and Tiege (who I don't really remember who she is?)  It really is a book about ordinary girls finding they can do wonderful things and learning who you are.  Those kinds of messages I love, especially for my girls!  (And did I mention I love the cover!)






Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong


Synopsis (from goodreads.com):

Sixteen-year-old Maya is just an ordinary teen in an ordinary town. Sure, she doesn't know much about her background - the only thing she really has to cling to is an odd paw-print birthmark on her hip - but she never really put much thought into who her parents were or how she ended up with her adopted parents in this tiny medical-research community on Vancouver Island.
 
Until now.
 
Strange things have been happening in this claustrophobic town - from the mountain lions that have been approaching Maya to her best friend's hidden talent for "feeling" out people and situations, to the sexy new bad boy who makes Maya feel . . . . different. Combine that with a few unexplained deaths and a mystery involving Maya's biological parents and it's easy to suspect that this town might have more than its share of skeletons in its closet.
 
In The Gathering, New York Times best-selling author Kelley Armstrong brings all the supernatural thrills from her wildly successful Darkest Powers series to Darkness Rising, her scorching hot new trilogy.

Jillian’s Review:
AWESOME! I loved this one! Armstrong creates strong, realistic characters with genuine voices and a great paranormal twist. Great chemistry between the guy(s) with just the right amount of detail (no sex, thank goodness).

This new series takes place in a tiny town in Canada where a pharmaceutical lab is based. There are a lot of secrets the company and even the parents are telling their kids. This is a sister-series to Armstrong's Darkest Power series, which you know I LOVED and I think the Darkness Rising series is going to be even better!

The only drawback is the language. Armstrong has her characters cussing even more than in her Darkest Powers series, though, it may have just seemed like it was more because I listened to the audiobook. BTW, that's a GREAT way to experience this story! The narrator, Jennifer Ikeda (who has narrated about 100 books!) has the perfect voice for Maya and doesn't try to do the strange accent of Rafe, like in an annoying audiobook I'll be reviewing soon. I was swept up from "page" one and got tons of laundry done at the same time! I can't wait to listen to book two.

4 1/2 stars. Half a star deducted because of the excessive cussing.

Monday, May 7, 2012

What I Didn't Say by Keary Taylor

From Goodreads:
Getting drunk homecoming night your senior year is never a good idea, but Jake Hayes never expected it all to end with a car crash and a t-post embedded in his throat.

His biggest regret about it all? What he never said to Samantha Shay. He's been in love with her for years and never had the guts to tell her. Now it's too late. Because after that night, Jake will never be able to talk again.

When Jake returns to his small island home, population 5,000, he'll have to learn how to deal with being mute. He also finds that his family isn't limited to his six brothers and sisters, that sometimes an entire island is watching out for you. And when he gets the chance to spend more time with Samantha, she'll help him learn that not being able to talk isn’t the worst thing that could ever happen to you. Maybe, if she'll let him, Jake will finally tell her what he didn't say before, even if he can't actually say it.


From Misty:
I REALLY wish that  Jake Hayes had not gotten drunk--not because of the permanent consequence he faced, but because I am so sick of reading about drunken teenagers. Blech! It is so distasteful.

I definitely liked this book, but you're going to sense from the review that I didn't. I liked it, almost a lot, but I'm not sure how I feel about it yet. This is the fastest turn around I've ever have on a Netgalley book. I just downloaded it last night (okay, a little late for my Monday review, I admit), and I read all night. I haven't really had time to digest it yet.

I thought the premise was cute and intriguing. Can't talk? Wants to say "I love you"? Call me sick and twisted, but I think that's sweet. But I kept expecting it to be If I Stay (which I really loved) because they are so similar with the car accident at the beginning and all, but I have to say it did fall short of that, like it felt like it could use another round of editing. And I'm not refering to the myriad of typos and plurals with apostrophe S ('s) (way more than one, but I was reading a galley copy). I'm referring to the tell-not-show method of telling a story. I really wanted it to be more show-not-tell. I wanted to put the intricacies together on my own and piece together the complexities within the characters together on my own. The whole first half just felt so hurried, and yet I didn't feel it got to the meat quite fast enough.

Things I did like. Jake was complex. Okay back to what I didn't like. He was supposed to "be in love" with Samantha since the start of Freshman year (they're seniors now), but until they really get to know each other, you only have the sense that what he feels is just a big, sweaty, debilitating, often if not easily ignored crush on her. I guess we say "Oh, I just love that pink, fluffy_____" all the time and are not actually in love with the pink, fluffy _____, but I got the sense that Jake actually thought he was in love with the elusive, ethereal (one-dimentional and predictable but not true to her character) creature, Sam. Which made me kind of not like him. But once he gets his stuff together, stops feeling sorry for himself, and has a purpose in someone to take care of and protect, he is quite the sweetums--so I guess it's just growth, and that is something I always look for in a novel.

I didn't buy the whole business that Sam had to go with Mike in the end. Seriously? They're going to send her away with an abusive drunkard she doesn't even know? None of the fantastic grown-ups in the story were willing to maybe look into that for her? And if the guy has custody, he HAS to take care of her, right? Taylor made it seem like Mike was some big monster (which I'm sure he seemes like to the kids), but he was being responsible. He didn't want her. He didn't even send her to school. He could have easily been talked out of taking her. All I'm saying is other arrangements could have been made, and it was just...squirly that nothing else was even considered.

Anyway, I liked it. Still thinking about it. Definitely recommend for the "Life Lessons" quality (though, sadly, not the "Cuteness" quality...even though at times it was), if you don't mind teen drinking and mild sexual inuendo.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Taker by Alma Katsu

From Goodreads.com: "On the midnight shift at a hospital in rural St. Andrew, Maine, Dr. Luke Findley is expecting a quiet evening. Until a mysterious woman arrives in his ER, escorted by police—Lanore McIlvrae is a murder suspect—and Luke is inexplicably drawn to her. As Lanny tells him her story, an impassioned account of love and betrayal that transcends time and mortality, she changes his life forever. . . . At the turn of the nineteenth century, when St. Andrew was a Puritan settlement, Lanny was consumed as a child by her love for the son of the town’s founder, and she will do anything to be with him forever. But the price she pays is steep—an immortal bond that chains her to a terrible fate for eternity." Jennifer's Review: Again, I started out only having read the first two sentences of the description so as not to give away the story. It sounded appealing and right up my alley. Even the full description does not warn against the contents of this book. The story line was engrossing, so much so that I had to finish and see what was to become of this girl, Lanny. Unfortunetly, the whole book, from start to finish, was filled with sexual desire from so many directions. This is a disgusting imagination that Alma Katsu has. There is no way you could get me to pick up another of her books. Not from this series of books or any other book written by her. I need something to rinse my mind out. Nancy on Goodreads put it perfectly: "I must have missed something with this book because the reviews are rave yet I am ashamed I finished it. Because I am Puritanical? Perhaps. The writer's style is flawlessly executed. She created interest immediately. Her description complete and idea of immortality intriguing. I could have been happy with the first few chapters then the last few chapters and skipped about 200 pages in between." I give The Taker one star.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The 39 Clues Series

Two weeks ago I reviewed a book called The Maze of Bones.  It was the first book in the 39 Clues series, and I really quite liked it.  Well, over the last two weeks, I've finished all 11 books.  Luckily they are pretty quick reads!  :) 

Dan and Amy are in a race against their other Cahill "cousins" to find each of the 39 clues that have been around for hundreds of years.  Each generation has fought (and killed) each other for the information.  But there is hope that THIS generation might be different.  Most of the major characters in the race are children (not all, but most)  The Madrigals hope that this generation can learn to work together and end the centuries-long fight.

The first nine books are pretty much the same.  Dan and Amy travel to different locations around the world looking for clues.  And in each place, they learn more about the hunt and about their ancestors.  The tenth book was probably my favorite.  It was the longest and probably should have been the end of the series.  It would have made a great ending!  :)  The eleventh book explained the history of the beginning of the clue hunt and the original Cahill family.  It also introduces the Vespers, an evil group who have been searching for the 39 clues as well.  It explains how the Madrigals got started.  It explains how Grace began the clue hunt. And there is a final adventure for Dan and Amy.  It was interesting information, but it was completely different than the other books.

There is another series that begins where this one left off.  It's called Cahills vs. Vespers.  I'm hoping that more of the "cousins" are in this book, because they were completely missing from book eleven.

This is a fun series! 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Hollow Kingdom by Clare B. Dunkle


Synopsis (from goodreads.com):
For thousands of years, young women have been vanishing from Hallow Hill, never to be seen again. Now Kate and Emily have moved there with no idea of the land's dreadful heritage--until Marak decides to tell them himself. Marak is a powerful magician who claims to be the goblin King, and he has very specific plans for the two new girls who have trespassed into his kingdom . . .

Jillian’s Review:
I know, not the prettiest cover, but holy cow, the story was great! I loved the individual personalities of each character, the clever banter between them, and the beautiful imagery of the Goblin Kingdom. I LOVED the guy, who is so not the typical YA novel guy (usually great looking, brooding, and cool). Marak was strong, confident, intelligent, and the perfect protector—all things I’m a sucker for in the main guy—but there is something completely different about him than any other guy I’ve ever rooted for in a novel. I never thought I’d cheer for the ugly goblin guy but he was too great not to!

The writing wasn’t the best and I got tripped up a few times trying to sort out who was thinking what time because it was written in third person, all knowing. It’s been a while since I’ve read a book in that POV, and I have to say it’s just annoying now. This could have been entirely written in Kate’s POV and it would have been a better read. Still, I was often lost in the story and the romance enough that the poor writing wasn’t too distracting.

Speaking of the romance, this was a squeaky-clean book without swearing and zero sex, though I would have liked to have a bit more detail in the kissing department. There were some gruesome scenes which I think makes this a good book for readers 10 and up unless they’re sensitive to a bit of gore.

Can’t wait to read the other two in this trilogy. Hopefully there will be more of Kate’s little sister, Emily and her little “cat” friend in the next one.