Monday, July 30, 2012

Wings by Aprilynn Pike

Wings by Aprilynne Pike
Synopsis (from
Laurel was mesmerized, staring at the pale things with wide eyes. They were terrifyingly beautiful--too beautiful for words.
Laurel turned to the mirror again, her eyes on the hovering petals that floated beside her head. They looked almost like wings.
In this extraordinary tale of magic and intrigue, romance and danger, everything you thought you knew about faeries will be changed forever.

Jillian’s Review:
This was an okay read. The characters weren't really believable and the story was a bit slow. I can't stand it when the kids get into a mess and go to some boy (or girl) they've barely met instead of their kind, supportive parents. Doesn't make sense except to progress the romance... and the romance factor in this was pretty lame as well.

These kids barely know each other, not to mention the fairy Laurel meets for five minutes and can’t stop thinking about even though I forgot about him the moment I turned the page. He does get better on closer acquaintance, however we don’t get to read enough about him to enjoy his character as I believe Pike wanted us to.

Sadly lacking.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Fire of the Covenant by Gerald N. Lund

From Goodreads:

"In the summer of 1856, three companies of handcarts were outfitted and sent west from Iowa to the Valley of the Great Salt Lake. All went well, and they arrived without undue incident. But two additional companies - one captained by James G. Willie, and the other by Edward Martin - left England late in the season. When they arrived at Iowa City, they were long past the time for safe departure across the plains. By the time they left Florence, Nebraska, with still more than a thousand miles to go, it was near the end of August. As if that were not serious enough, President Brigham Young thought that the arrival of the third company ended the migration for that season and ordered the resupply wagons back to Salt Lake. Fire of the Covenant is the story of those handcart pioneers and their exodus to the Salt Lake Valley. Author Gerald N. Lund has used the same techniques present in The Work and the Glory series to blend fictional characters into the tapestry of actual historical events, making this a story filled with all the elements of great drama - tragedy, triumph, pathos, courage, sacrifice, surrender and faith."

Jennifer's Review:

It breaks my heart to read about what these fine Saints went through to follow the counsel of a prophet, leaving behind family and friends to get to the Salt Lake Valley. Reading Fire of the Covenant gave me a renewed love for the sacrifices made by pioneers everywhere. The love they shared with one another and the faith in the Lord that was shown. What an amazing trek. I love the characters that are created and based on real people. I love the way this book moves. It is long and when I picked it up thought I would never be able to get through. It was suggested by a friend so I tried it out. I definitely got through. It is beautifully written and hard to put down. 

Thank you, Gerald N. Lund for writing such an account. Thank you for bringing these pioneers to life and helping to give us such a great understanding for what they went through.

I give Fire of the Covenant five stars for sure!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Ghost of a Chance

A Nightshade Mystery by Kerry Blair

Publisher's Note: True love is like a ghost. Many people believe in both, but few find either. 
Samantha Shade has been hired to find out if there is more than rats and bats and feral cats haunting the crumbling remains of San Rafael Mission, home of Father Rodriguez’s impoverished flock. But soon the donut-addicted rookie private investigator is sidetracked by a series of murders occurring within the parish—and by the attractive police detective involved in that investigation. Several young men have been found murdered—each with a marigold between his lips. The clues all seem to lead to someone at San Rafael . Who could be responsible? Someone Sam knows and used to love? Soon Samantha comes all too close to the answer as she is led through the crypts below San Rafael on a journey that could only end on the Mexican Day of the Dead.

Mandi's Review: This is a cute LDS fiction. Samantha Shade is a down-to-earth, real character, and you'll find yourself laughing a LOT as you read this book. Kerry Blair's sense of humor will pull you in, and the plot will leave you shivering. The above description describes this book well. Samantha Shade is a private investigator, who drives around in a classic 1963 hearse, for a quirky little company called Nightshade Investigation. She is addicted to donuts, which makes her all the more memorable in my eyes. I love donuts. Her investigation of the San Rafael Mission places her working directly with the handsome young police detective, Thomas Casey, and her (asides) will leave you giggling until the very end. This is definitely a book worth checking out if you love dark mysteries with a good dose of humor.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Wings by E. D. Baker

Wings by E.D. Baker
Synopsis (from
There’s always been something a little unusual about Tamisin. Her freckles look more like sparkles, and the full moon makes her want to dance.

But nothing could have prepared her for the day when real, working fairy wings sprout from her back. At school there’s a new guy names Jak, who seems to know something she doesn't. As her world get stranger by the minute Tamisin finds out more about herself and the fairy world.

Jillian’s Review:
This was really a cute story, with great detail, but it became silly (my nice word for stupid) when the fantasy land came into play (e.i. during a battle between goblins and fairies, the fairies throw pixie dust on the goblins which makes then grow really big noses, or shrink, or some such nonsense).  This is a middle grade novel which would explain the silliness, I guess.

That being said, I did enjoy the characters and Baker’s descriptions are wonderfully visual, I especially liked the description of the emerging of Tamisin’s wings.

I do think younger girls would enjoy this one a lot more than I did.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

MOCKINGJAY by Suzanne Collins

On the back cover:

"Katniss Everdeen, girl on fire, has survived, even though her home has been destroyed. Gale has escaped. Katniss's family is safe. Peeta has been  captured by the Capitol. District 13 really does exist. There are rebels. There are new leaders. A revolution is unfolding.

 It is by design that Katnss was rescued from the arena of the cruel and haunting Quarter Quell, and it is by design that she has long been part of the revolution without knowing it. District 13 has come out of the shadows and is plotting to overthrow the Capitol. Everyone, it seems, has had a hand in the carefully laid plans- except Katniss.

 The success of the rebellion hinges on Katniss's willingness to be a pawn, to accept responsibility for countless lives, and to change the course of the future of Panem. To do this, she must put aside her feelings of anger and distrust. She must become the rebel's Mockingjay- no matter what the personal cost."

Jennifer's Review:

I LOVED Hunger Games. I liked Catching Fire a lot. Mockingjay? It was such a disappointment. The beginning was going along like the first two but then it turned into, what seemed to me, just a book to get finished by the author. It was rushed and the very end had so little detail that I just sat there when I was done and thought, "WHAT??"

 I am grateful for an ending but am so disappointed in what little details were given.

I give Mockingjay 3 1/2 stars.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Shadow Song

By Dorothy Keddington

Notes: When a young female journalist meets with a rock band of controversial superstars, her assignment takes an intriguing turn. Disturbing incidents cause her to wonder whether their reputation is based on media hype or a dark element of truth.

Mandi's Review: Shadow Song by Dorothy Keddington is definitely a "dated" book, but you can't go wrong if you love suspense, a LOT of romance, and good writing. This story is about a journalist, Megan Collier, who has been assigned to write a feature article on the arts in Colorado. As she takes in the concerts and studios surrounded by the majestic Rocky Mountains, she is witness to a tragic car accident, and is placed momentarily in charge of a young boy named Cody while his dad races to help. When Megan is finally allowed to leave the scene of the accident, she realizes she didn't get a chance to really meet the dark-haired man who was the boy's father, but she brushes it off as no consequence. The wreck however haunts Megan, and when she is assigned to write an article on musician and star, Cole McClean, she couldn't be more disappointed. She wants only to finish off her assignment with a relaxing Shakespeare play and return home. However, after attending the concert, she is shocked to discover Cole McClean is Cody's father, and a visit to his ranch becomes the biggest adventure of all. This book is definitely a page-turner. There are some dark references to the occult, but Keddington's style and vivid descriptions will place you right in the middle of a beautiful Colorado ranch.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Frankly Frannie - Miss Fortune by A.J. Stern

From Goodreads:  Frannie's parents throw a party for Frannie with a fortune teller and Frannie finds her next new job: fortune teller, obviously! Frannie begins making up the fortunes of her friends at school and realizes that there is a difference between seeing the future and simply telling people what to do. After Frannie's customers start taking their fortunes too seriously by refusing to shower, do their chores, and even go to school, Frannie discovers that being psychic wasn't her hidden talent after all. And that is not an opinion!

From Heather:  This series of books is similar to Junie B. Jones or Clementine or Judy Moody.  If you like those, you will LOVE these!  Frannie is spunky and funny and very original.  Throughout the series she is trying to find the perfect job for her.  It's fun to see all the ways she can get herself into trouble! 

My only complaint (if I even have one...the books are adorable!) is that the author uses "kid-speak" quite often.  Sometimes it worked for me, sometimes it didn't.  And my girls really liked the kid speak, so I guess that is great for it's intended audience!  It's a fairly young, easy book though...maybe 2nd or 3rd grade.

Monday, July 16, 2012

How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr

From Goodreads:
Jill MacSweeney just wishes everything could go back to normal. But ever since her dad died, she’s been isolating herself from her boyfriend, her best friends—everyone who wants to support her. And when her mom decides to adopt a baby, it feels like she’s somehow trying to replace a lost family member with a new one.

Mandy Kalinowski understands what it’s like to grow up unwanted—to be raised by a mother who never intended to have a child. So when Mandy becomes pregnant, one thing she’s sure of is that she wants a better life for her baby. It’s harder to be sure of herself. Will she ever find someone to care for her, too?

As their worlds change around them, Jill and Mandy must learn to both let go and hold on, and that nothing is as easy—or as difficult—as it seems.

From Misty:
I always appreciate a book that is intelligently written, poses a question, and has a point or a moral. The writing in How to Save a Life is thoughtful and tight; there are not a lot of words that are unnecessary. The story is thought-provoking (you ask yourself what would I do if I were in Jill's situation, her mom's situation, or Mandy's?)  And there are mulitple themes from which to choose your moral. Judging others, adoption, troubled teens, falling in love, breaking up, dealing with death and bereavement. Take your pick. The answer all three women are looking for is simple, but does not come across as too simplistic for the tone of the rest of the novel.

A basically clean read I would definitely recommend.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Rumors of War (Children of the Promise Series Vol. 1)

Inside Cover:
"The elders could see nothing but smoke until they turned the corner onto the street where the fire was. And then, both of them stopped. "The synagogue!" Elder Thomas said. It had never occurred to him that anyone- even the Nazis- would do such a thing.

 Elder Thomas got his camera out. He snapped the shot but then heard someone say, in German, "What are you doing there?"

 He tucked the camera inside his coat, under his arm. He tried to appear natural, but his heart was suddenly beating hard. A man was crossing the narrow street and coming t oward them.

 "Making pictures?" the man asked as he walked closer. Elder Thomas took a better look. He was what he feared: the black uniform with silver trim, the braided hat. Gestapo.

  Elder Alex Thomas wants only to teach the gospel to the people of Germany. But it soon becomes obvious that he will never complete his mission. War is coming, and that will affect not only Elder Thomas but also his family back home in Salt Lake City.

 In the family is Wally, Elder Thomas's younger brother, who usually just wants to have a good time but lately doesn't seem to care much about anything. There's his sister Bobbi, who is supposed to marry Phil Clark, the most eligible bachelor in the Salt Lake Valley. The problem is, she can't ignore her attraction to Dr. Stinson, a University of Utah professor who's not a member of the Church. And there are Elder Thomas's parents, D. Alexander Thomas, stake president, and his wife, Bea, who want their children to be true to the values and ideals they've taught them. But President and Sister Thomas are finding they can't just tell their children what to do anymore, and they're wrried about what will happen when the United States enters a war that no one seems able to stop.

 In Rumors of War, the first of the series Children of the Promise, author Dean Hughes recreates the eara of World War II in stunning detail. But more than that, he shows how the war affects an ordinary family of Latter-day Saints. If you're interested in Church or world history, or if you're simply looking for a powerful LDS novel, you won't want to miss Rumors of War."

Jennifer's Review:

First off I want to say, YAY! My computer seems to be working right and I can again put up some reviews!

With that being said, I cannot say enough about how much I love this book. What an eye opener to the people at this time. I can honestly say I have a new love and respect for those who went through World War II. I enjoyed that this is a pretty much normal LDS family. (Not everyone has a stake president for a father.) There are quarrels so you know it is pretty darn true to life!

The chapters are mostly split up and about different members of the family and what they are going through. I sometimes don't like this approach because there are one or two specific characters I am interested in and none of the others. However, this book makes each character interesting and complete, making me excited for each and every chapter.

Dean Hughes is a great writer. Not one of his books has disappointed me so far. Keep up the great work!

I give Rumors of War five stars! 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

And Only to Deceive by Tasha Alexander

Synopsis (from
From gifted new writer Tasha Alexander comes a stunning novel of historical suspense set in Victorian England, meticulously researched and with a twisty plot that involves stolen antiquities, betrayal, and murder. For Emily, accepting the proposal of Philip, the Viscount Ashton, was an easy way to escape her overbearing mother, who was set on a grand society match. So when Emily's dashing husband died on safari soon after their wedding, she felt little grief. After all, she barely knew him. Now, nearly two years later, she discovers that Philip was a far different man from the one she had married so cavalierly. His journals reveal him to have been a gentleman scholar and antiquities collector who, to her surprise, was deeply in love with his wife. 

Emily becomes fascinated with this new image of her dead husband and she immerses herself in all things ancient and begins to study Greek. Emily's intellectual pursuits and her desire to learn more about Philip take her to the quiet corridors of the British Museum, one of her husband's favorite places. There, amid priceless ancient statues, she uncovers a dark, dangerous secret involving stolen artifacts from the Greco-Roman galleries. And to complicate matters, she's juggling two very prominent and wealthy suitors, one of whose intentions may go beyond the marrying kind. As she sets out to solve the crime, her search leads to more surprises about Philip and causes her to question the role in Victorian society to which she, as a woman, is relegated.

Jillian’s Review:
This novel kept me turning the page, but unfortunately it was predictable and fizzled out in the end. The characters were interesting but I really didn't care what happened to any of them and there was barley any romance.

I don’t quite get the title. Maybe it’s because everything was so predictable for me, but I didn’t feel like Emily was deceived a whole lot if she’d just opened her eyes and used her brain.

Still, it was a fairly enjoyable, quick read.
<----- I don't have a star rating for this genera of books!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Watched by Cindy M. Hogan

Watched by Cindy M. Hogan
Goodreads Synopsis:
It takes more than a school trip to Washington, D.C. to change fifteen-year-old Christy's life. It takes murder.A witness to the brutal slaying of a Senator's aide, Christy finds herself watched not only by the killers and the FBI, but also by two hot boys.She discovers that if she can't help the FBI, who want to protect her, it will cost her and her new friends their lives.
Christina's Guest Review:
I will admit I got this book as a free gift ebook for buying another book. I thought I wouldn't enjoy it. I don't usually like suspenseful books. I started it and couldn't put it down. There are some gruesome parts and details. When the synopsis says brutal slaying, it really is brutal. I think that other books that are similar to Cindy Hogan's would be worse though. She tones it down so you don't have terrible images stuck in your head.
I read it straight through and when I was done I went looking for more. Luckily she had written a sequel so I got to continue reading! The book has two boys that like one girl like so many other books out there lately! It seems like every girl out there in fiction land has to decide between two boys! So different from most reality.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

I realize it's not Wednesday, but because Wednesday was a holiday (Happy Independence Day!) and Friday's post isn't up yet, and I just finished the book this morning (it was a long book!) I thought I would post my review today.

I am in love with this book.  (I know, I saw that just about every time I review a book...I guess I only review books that I like!)  But this one has a special place in my heart and I'm not sure exactly why.  It could be because Cornelia Funke has created a wonderful world of interesting characters and places.  It really could, because she has done an amazing job of making her characters lifelike and engaging. It could be because who hasn't ever become lost in a book and wanted more than anything for that book to come alive - to live in the story.  I've read many stories over the years that I've longed to get lost in!  But I think it's actually her writing, as much as the story, that I'm in love with.  Her words roll around like a piece of the sweetest chocolate dissolving slowly on my tongue.  They are mesmerizing.

I love this quote from Meggie's father, Mo.  "If you take a book with you on a journey, an odd thing happens: The book begins collecting your memories.  And forever after  you have only to open that book to be back where you first read it.  It will all come into your mind with the very first words: the sights you saw in the place, what it smelled like, the ice cream you ate while you were reading it...yes, books are like flypaper - memories cling to the printed page better than anything else."  Or this one, "Every book should begin with attractive endpapers.  Preferably in a dark color: dark red or dark blue, depending on the binding.  When you open the book it's like going to the theater.  First you see the curtain.  Then it's pulled aside and the show begins."  I love Mo!  And I love the way he loves his books.

There are so many, many things that I love about this book.  But you will just have to read it and experience the magic for yourselves!

(The suggested ages for this book are 4th-7th grade and it's a long one...534 wonderful pages!)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Synopsis (from
In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves… or it might destroy her.

Debut author Veronica Roth bursts onto the literary scene with the first book in the Divergent series—dystopian thrillers filled with electrifying decisions, heartbreaking betrayals, stunning consequences, and unexpected romance.

Jillian’s Review:
This was like reading a cross between the Hunger Games and The Host (after the first 100 pages). Fast-paced, action packed, with enough romance to keep me turning the page without blushing from too much detail.

I loved how each character grew, which is essential for a YA novel. The way the society was broken down was a bit unbelievable, like Delirium, but there’s so much going on that it wasn’t blasting me in the face the whole time.

Intelligently written. Can't wait for the next one in the series.

Probably best for older teen because of the violence, which was on the level as Hunger Games.

Monday, July 2, 2012

As Easy As Falling Off the Face of the Earth by Lynne Rae Perkins

From Goodreads:In this new novel by a Newbery Medalist ("Criss Cross"), 16-year-old Ry completely redefines summer vacation. Illustrated with the author's line art and comics throughout.

From Misty:
Ry is off to summer camp. Wait, he's how old? (*cough* 16) But on the train he opens a letter from the camp that says camp is cancelled. He gets off the train to call home, but the train leaves without him. So he walks into town and Del takes him in and after a day of working at Del's tree cutting down business, Ry decides to let Del drive him across country to home. Wow. Ry, you're kind of an idiot. And even though Del is a nice guy, he has other reasons for driving Ry home which turns out to be his wife, What's her name.
Ry and his folks have bad luck after back luck, but Ry can't really grow because it's not bad choices he's making, not really, not in the sense of being a bad egg who needs reform...more like choices that turn out to be poor based on the circumstances. So it's all about circumstances and not about Ry at all. So then I have to ask myself who this book even about, because it's not about Del either. Ry is extraodinarily under-developed as a character--he really falls flat. Del is the one who has personality, character, integrity, intelligence, a bevy of interesting friends, and a history you wish you knew.I liked this book, but as there was no romance and nobody fell in love, it kinda didn't do it for me. The thing was, there was totally the possiblity of a great love story between Del and ...Whatever her name was that was barely touched on.
I suppose it wasn't touched on because that wasn't the point of the novel. But then I had to ask myself what the point was. ....*crickets--crickets*... Um...there wasn't one?  But the poem Del writes to his wife inspires the title of the book--and it's about falling in love,or maybe being in love, and it's pretty much one of the sweetest poems ever.

Try as I might, I can't escape your gravity.
My orbit is eliptical.
I fling myself far and think I'm free.
Who am I kidding?
Invisible forces and visible ones come into play.
A stranger comes to town.
Someone goes on a trip.
Leaving and staying away
is as easy as falling off the face of the earth.
But who would want to anyway?

So, okay book, but...confused. Less plot, more a series of unconnected and/or unbelievable events.