Friday, June 29, 2012

The Broken Road by Shannon Guymon

Synopsis from When Allison moves her two younger siblings back to Alpine, Utah, she's hoping they can overcome their father's dark legacy. Reuniting all your favorite characters from Makeover and Taking Chances, this inspirational tale of love and forgiveness will remind you that a family consists of the people who love you most and that nothing in the past can dim the brightness of your future.
Christina's Review: Shannon Guymon is one of my favorite authors in the LDS fiction genre. I love that her characters from previous stories appear in her new books. . . so it would be best to read them in order or it will ruin her other books. I love how she picks different real life situations to write about.
The characters are likeable and interesting. They have their conflicts and personal issues. Allison has to deal with people who blame her for her father's mistakes and who use her past against her. She has to rise above that to take care of her two siblings.
I hope that Shannon Guymon has more in store for us!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Whodunit? Detective Stories Chosen by Philip Pullman

From the book:  Grab your magnifying glass and solve the crime!  Test your wits against the finest sleuths that literature has to offer.  This collection of 16 baffling detective stories by  writers such as Agatha Christie, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Dorothy L. Sayers is sure to keep mystery lovers turning the pages.  From Sherlock Holmes to Hercule Poirot, the greatest detectives in classic and contemporary fiction can be found in the pages of this captivating anthology.

From Heather:  I've always fancied myself a mystery lover.  When I was younger I would walk bare-footed to the bookmobile (yes, I AM that old!) and check out every Hardy Boys book I could find.  Then I would barricade myself in my room and read for hours.  Sometimes I could blow through three or four of them a day.  So when I saw this book at the library, I grabbed it.  It was fun to realize that, even though I love mysteries, I've only read two of the authors that are in the book; Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie (who is my favorite!  I think I've read all of her books too!)  The book seems to be a fairly good representation of different mystery authors, many of them I hadn't even heard of before.  (And a few of them I plan to look up after reading their stories!) 
I'm not sure that this is a middle grade book exactly though. Some of the stories were very reminiscent of Agatha Christie, whom I love but it is often hard to adequately grasp the time period and the customs and speech of the characters (if that made any sense at all!)  But it makes for a fun read and the individual stories are short enough that I can finish one while I'm waiting for the laundry to be finished!)  =]

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Princess Curse by Merrie Haskell

Synopsis (from
In the tradition of Gail Carson Levine, Karen Cushman, and Shannon Hale comes a magical debut that weaves favorite fairy tale elements into a fabulous new story starring an irrepressible heroine.

Jillian’s Review:
This was a lot like reading The Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George, only The Princess Curse is Middle Grade instead of Young Adult which means there’s not nearly enough romance for my taste. That being said, it’s still a great read. There’s lots of action and humor with a great heroine.

As with the majority of MG and YA novels I’ve read, the heroine is strong willed, smart, and determined, which are all great qualities (especially when reading about a person with them) but not true to the typical teenager. I often forgot that the main character was only 13 and thus kept looking forward to the romance. It never came, which it good when the main girl is only 13! I wrote the sequel to this one in my mind after I finished reading it. My sequel was YA a few years afterwards so the girl is old enough to have a romance with the guy and I went to sleep happy.

A great book for girls ages 10-13ish.


Monday, June 25, 2012

Meant To Be by Lauren Morrill

From Goodreads:
Meant to be or not meant to be . . . that is the question.

It's one thing to fall head over heels into a puddle of hazelnut coffee, and quite another to fall for the—gasp—wrong guy. Straight-A junior Julia may be accident prone, but she's queen of following rules and being prepared. That's why she keeps a pencil sharpener in her purse and a pocket Shakespeare in her, well, pocket. And that's also why she's chosen Mark Bixford, her childhood crush, as her MTB ("meant to be").

But this spring break, Julia's rules are about to get defenestrated (SAT word: to be thrown from a window) when she's partnered with her personal nemesis, class-clown Jason, on a school trip to London. After one wild party, Julia starts receiving romantic texts . . . from an unknown number! Jason promises to help discover the identity of her mysterious new suitor if she agrees to break a few rules along the way. And thus begins a wild goose chase through London, leading Julia closer and closer to the biggest surprise of all: true love.

From Misty:
So. Stinking. Cute. Untilllll...Julia got annoying, un-characteristic, and started making a string of terrible decisions, each one worse than the last. But don't I always say something snarky and critical like that? The real truth is I laughed through the whole book. I HIGHLIGHTED the hilarious parts. Yes, it's true. I haven't highlighted in a fiction book since...well, I'm not going to admit to that level of nerdiness.

Ultra-organized Julia has everything planned out, including life with her MTB (meant to be), Mark--who has no idea. Stuck with Jason, the reckless reprobate, as her tour "buddy," (you know, the buddy system), Julia is sure he's going to ruin her trip. But the only thing he ruins is her idea of MTB--because maybe she's meant to be with him.

My favorite kind of book. I was just drowning in the cuteness.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy by Ally Carter

Synopsis from Cammie Morgan is back, and it's clear that her life hasn't calmed down since the events of I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You. At first, giddy anticipation is in the air. Gallagher Academy, Cammie's elite spy school, is hosting a visit from a covert training center for boys. Soon after the boys' arrival, though, everything goes dangerously awry when a series of security breaches are discovered at the academy. Worse yet, teenage agent-in-training Cammie is being blamed for the penetration. With the school's top-secret status at risk, the Gallagher Girls have to work quickly to save their beloved school.
Christina's Review (guest post): Number 2 in the Gallagher Girls Series is just as good as the first! Cammie and her friends are trying to figure out who these cute boys are that showed up at their school. Cammie doesn't know if she can trust these new boys. They are mysterious and secretive and HOT. She is trying to use the new knowledge she gained about boys from book 1.
The characters are fun and likeable! It is clean fiction. Add a dash of romance. Well written! Keep reading the series. I think Ally Carter will become one of your favorite YA authors!!!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Friendship Bread by Darien Gee

From the publisher:  One afternoon, Julia Evarts and her five-year-old daughter, Gracie, arrive home to find an unexpected gift on the front porch: a homemade loaf of Amish Friendship Bread and a simple note: I hope you enjoy it. Also included are a bag of starter, instructions on how to make the bread herself, and a request to share it with others.
Still reeling from a personal tragedy that left her estranged from the sister who was once her best friend, Julia remains at a loss as to how to move on with her life. She’d just as soon toss the anonymous gift, but to make Gracie happy, she agrees to bake the bread.  
When Julia meets two newcomers to the small town of Avalon, Illinois, she sparks a connection by offering them her extra bread starter. Widow Madeline Davis is laboring to keep her tea salon afloat while Hannah Wang de Brisay, a famed concert cellist, is at a crossroads, her career and marriage having come to an abrupt end. In the warm kitchen of Madeline’s tea salon, the three women forge a friendship that will change their lives forever.
In no time, everyone in Avalon is baking Amish Friendship Bread. But even as the town unites for a benevolent cause and Julia becomes ever closer to her new friends, she realizes the profound necessity of confronting the painful past she shares with her sister.
About life and loss, friendship and community, food and family, Friendship Bread tells the uplifting story of what endures when even the unthinkable happens.

From Heather:  I realize that this isn't a middle grade book. =]  But it was a great book nonetheless!  

Friendship Bread was our book club selection for this month and I really, really enjoyed reading it.  The book is mainly about Julia, Hannah and Madeline, but there are tons of other characters, sometimes TOO many.  I had a hard time keeping their stories straight!  =]  But delightful characters and a wonderful story.  It almost (almost!) makes me want to make friendship bread.  But not quite (although if I wanted to, there are recipes in the back of the book that I could try!) 

I love the development in the characters throughout the story.  Julia's story was the saddest, I think.  I can't even imagine (although her grief and depression were convincingly portrayed!)  Hannah's story was sad, but not as tragic as Julia's.  And I loved Madeline!  What a wonderful character!  The blurb from the publisher makes it sound like her only problem is getting the tea shop going, but she has her own tragic secrets.

I loved the end of the book.  What a great ending that I didn't see coming!  I love when that happens!  

I give the book 4 stars.  It was a great book, but there were characters that were introduced for only a chapter at a time and then they never reappeared (which I guess was good because I had a hard time keeping up with the characters that DID show up all the time!)  I usually ended up skipping those chapters!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King

From the hardcover edition:
Vera’s spent her whole life secretly in love with her best friend, Charlie Kahn. And over the years she’s kept a lot of his secrets. Even after he betrayed her. Even after he ruined everything.

So when Charlie dies in dark circumstances, Vera knows a lot more than anyone—the kids at school, his family, even the police. But will she emerge to clear his name? Does she even want to?

Edgy and gripping, Please Ignore Vera Dietz is an unforgettable novel: smart, funny, dramatic, and always surprising.

From Misty:
I don't think anyone I know would like this book, due mainly to the horrible language throughout. But as far as characterizations, character development and growth, vivid and inspiring writing that evoked my emotions, intelligent humor, and interesting plot that kept my attention for eight uninterupted hours--all the things I look for in a novel--I just have to give it five stars.

Vera was real. Charlie was endearing in some ways and repulsive in others. King presents him in the way that Vera has always seen him, as a person with potential and kindess, but you get this other picture, too, of how others must see him and of how he learns to see himself, as a punk kid who is going nowhere and will never be good enough for someone like Vera.
Skillfully written through a series of flashbacks, Please Ignore Vera Dietz explores the nuances of an unlikely friendship. It so easily could have turned into more than a friendship that you almost get the impression Charlie's involvment with the wrong crowd he finds himself in is purposeful and his death is a valiant effort to keep Vera from wasting her life on him.

Though not exactly a sunshiny read, Vera overcomes her fear, comes to terms with Charlie's death, and the book ends on a note of hope. Definitely recommend, but reader discretion is advised.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Regally Blonde by Heather Horrocks

Synopsis from Though you’d think your average former beauty queen would have no relationship problems, Jamie Summers has more than her share. Coming back to Aspen Grove to care for her mother Iris, Jamie has just hesitantly accepted a proposal from her long-time boyfriend Christopher when a handsome doctor moves in next door. Dr. David Stevens isn’t sure a beauty queen would be a good mother for his 3-year-old daughter, but Sunny has a mind of her own, and calls Jamie her ‘Earth Mommy.’ What’s a beauty queen to do? After all, raising an adorable daughter could be her ‘crowning’ achievement

Christina's Review: I have purchased quite a few of Heather Horrocks ebooks. I have enjoyed each and every one of them. The most recent read was Regally Blonde, which was just released. I really liked the story and the characters. Jamie is judged because of her beauty first and there aren't a lot of people who look beyond that to see what a good person she is. Sunny, the little neighbor girl, is so adorable. She reminds me of my little ones. You can't help but love the adorable little girl. Of course this book has a couple dashing male characters as well. Jamie is torn between the two. It is a fun and enjoyable read. Another one that I enjoyed so much I hated to put it down.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Waxing Moon

Publisher's Notes:

A faraway kingdom.
A brave warrior.
An unexpected danger.
An ancient secret.
A desperate plan.

Fear is running rampant in Bariwon. The people of a small village near the northern mountains have vanished. Newly commissioned royal guardian Snapdragon is sent with a scouting party to investigate. His responsibility is to protect the non-soldiers, including Seraphina, a stunning young nursemaid. When the party arrives, they make a shocking discovery. During the chaos that follows, Snapdragon discovers his feelings toward Seraphina are more than protective. Soon, he is forced to make difficult choices that will impact the future of everyone in Bariwon.

Mandi's Review: For those of you who have read J. Lloyd Morgan's The  Hidden Sun, the long-awaited sequel if finally here.  Filled with intrigue, adventure and a little romance, The Waxing Moon will leave you reading long into the night. When the inhabitants of a small village in the north suddenly disappear, the people of Bariwon are left feeling uneasy. Trying to discover the fate of the townspeople, King Rayne sends a scouting party to investigate, but when the party discovers a secret passage hidden deep within the formidable mountains they discover things are worse than they feared. When the scouting party is attacked by a band of ruthless warriors, Snapdragon, a newly appointed Royal Guardian, is Bariwon's only hope. As he unravels the mysteries of the tunnel, he learns of an ancient secret that could change the kingdom of Bariwon forever.  I have to admit, I don't usually read books in this genre, but I loved The Hidden Sun, and when asked to review The Waxing Moon, I was ecstatic. The characters are very well-developed. Snapdragon is definitely a surprise. In the beginning, his character is full of flaws. He's reckless, easy to anger, and trying much too hard to prove himself to world. But as he begins his journey, his growth and change are evident. His character develops in a way that will leave you cheering for this young hero and anxiously hoping for his success. The story-line is paced to perfection, and the plot is very well developed.  I give J. Lloyd Morgan five-stars and can hardly wait to read the next book in the series (The Zealous Star, coming 2013). 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

Synopsis (from
When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London's Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, keep order amidst the chaos.

Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, members of a secret organization called The Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform, at will, into another person. What's more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa's power for his own.

Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters of the London Institute, who swear to find her brother if she will use her power to help them. She soon finds herself fascinated by--and torn between--two best friends: James, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arm's length...everyone, that is, but Tessa. As their search draws them deep into the heart of an arcane plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world...and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all.

Jillian’s Review:

I liked this novel but it had nowhere near the romance that I crave. Still, it's action packed and the characters are realistic. And thankfully, the main character isn't completely annoying all though there were times I wanted to strangle her for asking such dumb questions. Yes, there are such things as dumb questions!

Didn't like how it ended (or didn't end) and I will probably read the next in the series. I would recommend reading the City of Bones series first and RIGHT before this one, just like I would recommend reading all of the Chronicles of Narnia before reading The Magician's Nephew (which, BTW, is technically the last in the Chronicles, just sos ya know).

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Guardians of Elijah's Fire by Frank L. Cole

Just when they thought they were safe, Amber, Trendon and their classmates get yanked back into the action. With the Tebah Stick in enemy hands, Amber becomes a target and it seems even her closest allies can’t be trusted. Now the gang will have to travel through enemy territory to protect a deadly ancient weapon that could cause the earth’s utter destruction.
This thrilling tale ups the action and doubles the danger. Bestselling author, Frank L. Cole delivers an addicting read for adventurers of all ages.

I just finished Frank L. Cole's book The Guardians of Elijah's Fire.  You might remember that last week I reviewed his first book in the series, The Guardians of the Hidden Scepter and really enjoyed it.  Well, this second book is even better!

It starts out with Amber receiving a mysterious package for her birthday.  She assumes that it is from her friend and teacher Dorothy.  Then she gets a strange phone call in the middle of the night from her friend Joseph.  What follows, almost immediately, is a spell-binding, frantic, action-packed adventure that leaves you breathless!   The action is nearly non-stop throughout the book, which makes it a hard book to put down.  (On a totally unrelated side note, I was browsing the library today with my daughter and she asked for help finding a book.  I asked her what kind of books she liked to read and she said, "I want one that, when I get to the end of a chapter, I have to keep reading because I want to find out what happens next!"  That's exactly what this book is!)

I love the character development in this book, especially compared to the first in the series.  In the first book I felt like the characters were introduced, but in this book they were able to grow and change a bit and we were able to see different sides of them which was great!  And I especially loved the questions of loyalty and trust that were brought up throughout the book.  I was finding myself wondering, just like Amber, who were the good guys and who were bad.

I loved the ending of the book and, without giving anything away, it was exactly perfect.  I loved the characters Temel and Abelish.  They were wonderful men to learn about and very well developed, maybe even more so than Lisa, who is part of the group, but is usually on the sidelines.  And I loved the biblical themes that ran through the book, specifically with the story of Elijah. 

I can't wait to read more from Frank Cole!  His characters are delightful, his descriptions of setting and action are amazing.  And his books are genuinely fun to read!

I was given a digital copy of this book to read, but the opinions expressed are my own.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Clockwise by Elle Strauss

Book Description:
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.

Misty's Review:

I'm totally addicted to free Kindle books and always on the lookout for a good one. When I saw Clockwise was free this week, I snapped it up, because come on, that cover is so cute! The book is just as cute as the cover, though I felt the ideal reader would be several years younger than the main characters. Most of the themes were geared toward older teens, but it read much more like a middle grade novel. I finally decided target audience would be about thirteen year old girls and once I settled my mind on that, I enjoyed the rest of the book. I guess I just need to be able to classify things to be comfortable with them (that's human, right?) When I had to put it down I couldn't wait to get back to it. I cared about the characters and wanted to find out what happened and, more importantly, how it would play out.

Such a cute read that I totally recommend to any readers who enjoy a light romance set somewhere between middle grade and young adult fiction.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson

Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson

Synopsis from Marianne Daventry will do anything to escape the boredom of Bath and the amorous attentions of an unwanted suitor. So when an invitation arrives from her twin sister, Cecily, to join her at a sprawling country estate, she jumps at the chance. Thinking she’ll be able to relax and enjoy her beloved English countryside while her sister snags the handsome heir of Edenbrooke, Marianne finds that even the best laid plans can go awry.From a terrifying run-in with a highwayman to a seemingly harmless flirtation, Marianne finds herself embroiled in an unexpected adventure filled with enough romance and intrigue to keep her mind racing. Will she be able to rein in her traitorous heart, or will a mysterious stranger sweep her off her feet? Fate had something other than a relaxing summer in mind when it sent Marianne to Edenbrooke.

Christina's Review: I really enjoyed reading this book. I did not want to put it down and just wanted to read and read until I was done! It has good characters and a good storyline. The leading female, Marianne, is a strong and determined woman. She is loyal to her family and is true to herself which I liked.

I wasn't bored. . . I don't read a lot of stories set in the regency period. There were some little twists and surprises that popped up throughout the book which kept things interesting. It was a good clean romance.