Thursday, August 30, 2012

Texting Through Time

Texting Through Time: Trek With Brigham Young

Written by Christy Monson

Publisher's Note: When 12-year-old Micah “borrows” his father's experimental time-travel phone, his hopes for seeing the future are dashed as he and his sister, Alicia, end up trapped in the past at Brigham Young’s boyhood home. This book is a fun way to discover Church history and learn that no matter what time period you are in, God is still aware of you.

Mandi's Review: I LoVe this book! What a fun concept. Texting Through Time: Trek With Brigham Young by author Christy Monson is the perfect book for middle-grade readers. When Micah and his sister Alicia borrow their father's experimental phone they hope to see the future. But when things go wrong, they quickly find themselves trapped in the past. Stuck in the early 1800's they meet Brigham Young on his 11th birthday. Thus begins an adventure that will lead them through Brigham Young's life as they try to get home. Both Micah and Alicia learn they must rely on each other and especially the Lord as they progress through time. This book brings history to life and will enlighten readers at any age. The author does a wonderful job bringing the audience right into the heart of the story. This quick read is written in a way that is both fun and unique and will leave you with a greater understanding of early church history. I congratulate the author on a job well done!

To purchase a copy of Texting Through Time visit Amazon Today!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Silver Bowl by Diane Stanley

From the author's website:  Unwanted at home, Molly goes to work for the king of Westria as a humble scullery maid. She arrives at the castle with no education, no manners, and a very disturbing secret: she sees visions, and those visions always come true. One day, while she’s working in the king’s great hall, young Prince Alaric passes by. Molly finds him unbearably handsome—but also unbearably rude. But what does it really matter? She’ll probably never see him again.

In time Molly is promoted to polishing silver and is given a priceless royal treasure to work on: the king’s great ceremonial hand basin. But there’s something odd about it. The silver warms to her touch, a voice commands her to watch and listen, and then the visions appear. They tell the story of a dreaded curse that has stalked the royal family for years. There have already been deaths; soon there will be more.

As tragedy after tragedy strikes the royal family, Molly can’t help but wonder: will the beautiful Alaric be next? Together with her friends Tobias and Winifred, Molly must protect the prince and destroy the curse. Could a less likely champion be found to save the kingdom of Westria?

From Heather:  I quite liked this charming middle-grade book!  There were a few things that I would have liked expanded on a little bit more (Tobias!!!) but for the most part it was just a fun, easy read. The book starts when Molly is just a young girl.  Her father is a drunk who has too many children to take care of, so as soon as he thinks they are old enough (6 or 7) he kicks them out to be servants somewhere.  So sad!  Molly sees one of the neighbor boys dying in a vision and, sure enough, he ends up dead.  So her dad can't get rid of her fast enough.  And Molly's mother is sick and confined to her room, so she is no help at all.  As Molly is leaving for the castle, she talks to her mother and learns that her mother has visions too, but she doesn't explain why they both have them or where they came from.

So Molly goes to the castle and time passes.  Pretty soon it is years later and she is older and friends with Tobias (whom I LOVE!)  I really wish their friendship had been explored a little bit more.  The silver bowl was interesting and the twist at the end took me completely by surprise! The characters were good, but I would have liked a more detailed story.  Maybe that's just me as an adult talking and not as a middle grade child.  My girls would probably love the story!  :0)

All in all it was a great book, one that I thoroughly enjoyed reading.  AND I understand that it is the first of three books, so that is good too!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen

 Synopsis (from
THE FALSE PRINCE is the thrilling first book in a brand-new trilogy filled with danger and deceit and hidden identities that will have readers rushing breathlessly to the end.

In a discontent kingdom, civil war is brewing. To unify the divided people, Conner, a nobleman of the court, devises a cunning plan to find an impersonator of the king's long-lost son and install him as a puppet prince. Four orphans are recruited to compete for the role, including a defiant boy named Sage. Sage knows that Conner's motives are more than questionable, yet his life balances on a sword's point -- he must be chosen to play the prince or he will certainly be killed. But Sage's rivals have their own agendas as well.

As Sage moves from a rundown orphanage to Conner's sumptuous palace, layer upon layer of treachery and deceit unfold, until finally, a truth is revealed that, in the end, may very well prove more dangerous than all of the lies taken together.

An extraordinary adventure filled with danger and action, lies and deadly truths that will have readers clinging to the edge of their seats.

Jillian’s Review:
This was a well written Middle Grade read with an interesting plot. I loved how clever Sage was. It always makes for a fun read when you can depend on the main character to figure things out on his own and even have a few tricks up his sleeve. It annoys me when the kids in a Middle Grade novel lack intelligence and foresight (i.e. Harry Potter—don’t get me wrong, though, I LOVE Harry Potter!) Even though this was written from the POV of a boy, it didn’t feel like a boy’s book (like The Maze Runner).

This book reminded me of The Queen's Thief series but with less societal background information, which is just fine for MG. The False Prince had a really great ending and could easily be a standalone novel but I can’t wait for the second in The Ascendance Trilogy to come out (April 2013) to find out what happens to Sage and his friends.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Break Up Artist

A novel by Shannen C. Camp

Publisher's Note: Breaking up with someone is a major pain—-unless you can hire someone else to do it for you! And Amelia demands top dollar for her professional break-up services. Everything's business as usual until David, one of the boys she's been hired to dump, throws her for a loop. Now she must decide if David's intentions are genuine, or if there's something sinister behind his flirting.

Mandi's Review: The Breakup Artist by Shannen C. Camp is just the sort of book that will leave you laughing until the very end. The plot is a fun, witty, and it's just the sort of book I love to read. Amelia, a high school teen, has created a very profitable business as a "breakup artist". You can pay her fifty bucks, and she'll dump your current boyfriend, leaving you free of guilt and free to pursue another crush. Amelia runs a professional business, and her busy schedule leaves her no time for relationships of her own, but she'd like to keep it that way. However, when she meets David, a boy she's been hired to dump, her carefully organized world begins to fall apart. Amelia is definitely a character to love. I loved her "professional" manner and her quirky personality. As the story progresses, you begin to realize the "whys" behind Amelia's choice of "profession", and you watch her grow and change until the very end. Author Shannen C. Camp does a wonderful job of building characters and plot. I highly recommend The Breakup Artist and congratulate the author on a job well done!

I have also had a chance to interview Shannen Camp and I hope you enjoy getting to know her better!

Meet Author Shannen C. Camp...

Tell us about yourself?    

I was going to copy and paste my little author bio here but who needs that when I can give you an 'off the top of my head and slightly inaccurate due to long hours at work' description? I like to write. A lot. I'm sure that's an obvious thing to say but it had to be said. I love to create in any way shape or form. Some days I'll come home and think "I need to create something" whether it's music, paintings, or stories. Is that odd? I can't help it. It's one of those little habits you just can't kick.
I guess I should also tell you the basics, like the fact that I was born and raised in California and I'm trying to cut my bad habit of writing all of my stories in California. I'm starting to know Utah better than CA now so maybe I'll set some stories here! I majored in Film at Brigham Young University and my emphasis was production design and makeup. Although I'm complete rubbish at 'pretty' makeup. I can only do special effects makeup. So if you're bored around Halloween time, come and see me!
I'm married to my high school lab partner and we have 489320842 names for children but no actual children yet... so I use all of the names on my characters :)

When did you first start writing? 

I started writing in the fourth grade. It was terrible. I tried so hard to write a Goosebumps type book but I made the mistake of abbreviating the title "Scared to Death" to STD, which I'm sure worried my fourth grade teacher just a little. I should publish that book one day, just so people can get a good laugh at all the horrible ways I accidentally used those three letters. Oops! I continued writing all through elementary school, junior high, and high school and finally finished a YA fantasy book in College. It's poorly written so I'll have to go back and fix it but literally right after I finished that one I wrote "The Breakup Artist". So I just haven't really stopped writing since the fourth grade.

How did you discover the idea for The Breakup Artist? 

I remember the exact moment I thought of this book. It was in 2008 and my brother was about to get married. I was sleeping on the floor in the office because of all of the family members who had come into town for the wedding and everyone was talking about love and marriage and relationships and I started wondering if there was some sort of job focused just on relationships. Somehow that led me to the idea of a professional breakup artist and a month later I had finished my book. So thanks, Jared for getting married!

How did you develop Amelia’s character? 

I feel like Amelia's character kind of developed herself. Initially she starts off kind of unlikable and snotty. She's got a big superiority complex and at times I found it difficult to balance showing her less-than-flattering side, while still trying to make the reader like her for how confused she was about her life. I feel like she kind of talks through growing up with the reader. She does it without realizing what's happening. I wanted people to see her as someone who didn't want to be awful, she just wasn't quite sure what else to be and she figures it out through slowly letting people in.

What other hobbies do you have besides writing?

I love to paint. I'm terrible at it really but I just love it. I'm a lot like Amelia actually in that I couldn't draw to save my life but I paint all the time. I also love video games, which is very nerdy of me :) My marriage is anti-stereotypical since my husband doesn't play video games at all and I'm a huge gamer. I also love to play music. Back when I had a piano I'd play all the time (apartments don't fit pianos very well) but now I mostly play guitar and flute because they're small and portable, though if you brought me a drum set I wouldn't be mad about it!

Thanks, Shannen!

To purchase your very own copy of The Breakup Artist visit Amazon
To learn more about Shannen visit her Blog at

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Suddenly Supernatural: School Spirit by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel

From the back of the book:  Kat's mother is a medium, and not the kind that fits between small and large; Kat's mom sees spirits and communicates with them.  And, even worse, Kat has just discovered that she can see spirits, too.  Now, it's up to Kat and her best friend Jac to help a spirit trapped in their school cross over successfully.  The question is, can they do it without having to switch schools themselves?  In this first Suddenly Supernatural book, Elizabeth Cody Kimmel brings humor, heart, and a little supernatural charm to the trials and tribulations of finding out who you are and who you want to be - all while surviving middle school.

From Heather:  I am a sucker for a beautiful book.  I'll admit that right now.  I love beautiful cover illustrations and the feel of a well-made book.  I love the little details inside that make the book beautiful.  So I absolutely loved the Suddenly Supernatural series, even before I read the first page.  And after I read the first page, I loved it even more! 

I wasn't going to like the book.  I had seen it at the library many times and thought, "There's a beautiful series of should read them!"  (Have I said I'm also a sucker for a good series of books too?  Well I am!  I love knowing that if I fall in love with a character, they live on in another book!)  But I wasn't at all sure that I wanted to read about the supernatural.  Didn't think it was my style.  Not sure that I especially want to believe that there are creepy spirits of dead people walking the earth trying to communicate with me.  The whole idea sorta creeps me out.  But I fell in love with the idea through this book.  Kat and her mother are wonderful characters and they make the spirits into real people.  It was remarkably well written and even sort of believable.

And there was a lot of the story that didn't revolve around the spirits of the dead.  It was fun to see Kat trying to find herself throughout the story and learn about friendship through a girl that was just exactly a perfect friend. 

I've checked out the next three books in the series and can't wait to read them.  I may even encourage my girls to read them.  I love books with imperfect heroines that somehow figure out how to make it through hard things.  (I feel like we are ALL imperfect heroines in our OWN stories and we have to figure out how to muddle through the best we can!)  I love what Elizabeth Cody Kimmel has done with this series and the characters she has created.  I can't wait to read more!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Left to Love by Jolene B. Perry

Synopsis (from’s life is shaping up to be pretty perfect.She married the father of a little boy she fell in love with. They live in a nice house, on a quiet street, and her hobby of a sewing business is keeping her busier than she ever imagined. She’s back in touch with her brother who she hasn’t seen since she was a child, and her new husband has an “in” for his dream job when he graduates in the spring.But when her small symptoms begin to lead up to something big - she has to face the shattering realization that her cancer is back.Leigh struggles with her new marriage, her faith, her desire to adopt the little boy who calls her mom, and the strength to keep fighting for her life.

Christina's Review: I had the privilege of reading an advanced copy of Left to Love. Now I am excited that it has recently been published as an ebook and paperback!!!! Left to Love was absolutely amazing! It was intense and emotional. I was so glad that there was a sequel after reading "The Next Door Boys" (which I loved) and this was even better than the first. Brian and Leigh are amazing characters and I was so glad that there story continues. The storyline was powerful and moving. I was moved to tears multiple times. IF YOU READ THIS GRAB A BOX OF TISSUES!!!! Both Leigh and Brian have pasts that connect them and increases the bond they share. They are faced with so many struggles right off in their marriage.
Jolene B. Perry does an amazing job on this book. The characters are so real. You can feel the pain and heartache that Leigh and Brian feel. You'll shed tears with them. You even get a scene with Brian and Noah in the same room!!! Such a wonderful book. Really well written. If you loved "Next Door Boys" you will love "Left to Love" even more. I am so excited that it is out for everyone to read!!!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Secrets After Dark

A novel by Marie Higgins

Publisher's Note: Residing at Thornton Manor under the premise of courting Jonathan Thornton, Hannah Forester intends to find out who murdered her father—and why. After all, Jonathan’s brother Morgan was the last
person to visit Peter Forester before his demise. But upon her arrival at Thornton Manor, Hannah is informed that Morgan perished the previous year in a house fire. She soon learns the manor is full of secrets: a ghost haunting the East Wing, a white wolf that roams
the grounds by night, and the story of a curse-protected treasure on the neighboring island. Most disturbingly, Hannah discovers that numerous young women have visited the manor only to vanish without a trace.

When a hooded, deep-voiced man visits Hannah’s bedroom late at night, warning her to leave the manor for her own safety, she realizes he must be Morgan Thornton. But why does he hide in the East Wing, and why does his family insist he is but a ghost? As Hannah falls in love with the handsome older brother, she must continue to court Jonathan in order to remain at the estate. Can she convince Morgan where her true loyalties lie? And will she uncover the Thorntons’ secrets quickly enough to solve her father’s murder
before she loses her own life?

Mandi's Review:  When Hannah Forester is invited to Thornton Manor she has no idea the secrets hidden within.    She only knows she must discover the mystery surrounding her father's death, and she feels certain the master of the house, Morgan Thornton, holds the key. He was, after all, the last person to see her father alive. However, upon her arrival she quickly learns that Morgan perished in a fire the year before. Frustrated, she determines to remain at Thornton Manner under the ruse she is courting Morgan's younger brother, Johnathon, but it doesn't take Hannah long to realize Thornton Manner holds more than one secret. When a dark-hooded figure appears in Hannah's bedroom, warning her to leave, she is determined to discover those secrets. She soon realizes the mysterious "ghost" lurking in the East wing is Morgan Thornton, who is alive, yet changed. More than one mystery surrounds a nearby island, and when servants begin to vanish in the night, she soon begins to doubt who she can and cannot trust. Marie Higgins novel, Secrets After Dark, is filled with mystery, suspense and a fun twist on the paranormal. Her characters will draw you in, and the fast moving plot will keep you guessing until the very end. I have to admit, I loved this book. Forbidden romance plays a key element, and you'll quickly get hooked in this story. I give Secrets After Dark my full recommendation and congratulate the author on a job well done!

To learn more about Author Marie Higgins and her books check you her Blog today!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Magnificent 12: The Call

From  Three thousand years ago the Pale Queen was banished to the underworld. Now she’s back: meaner, crazier, and more dangerous than ever. Only one thing stands between her and the destruction of the human race—a team of twelve twelve-year-olds. So humanity is basically out of luck. It’s clearly hopeless. Seriously: a bunch of twelve-year-olds versus the greatest evil the world has ever known? Please. No way. Unless . . . unless Mack MacAvoy can assemble and lead the Magnificent Twelve as they discover unsuspected powers. But he’d better to do it quickly because if the Magnificent Twelve don’t win, then the world as we know it will be lost forever. And that would be a bad thing. 

No one has ever accused twelve-year-old Mack MacAvoy of being brave. He has so many phobias he’s even developed a phobia of phobias! Mack is sarcastic, a little lazy, and a born bully magnet. Not exactly your typical hero. Too bad the evil Pale Queen couldn’t care less. She is determined to destroy the world, and only Mack and a team of twelve twelve-year-olds from around the globe have the power to stop her. They are the Magnificent Twelve, and it’s up to Mack to assemble and lead them.

Mack’s first mission is to travel to Australia to find Jarrah, the second of the Magnificent Twelve—but it won’t be easy. Ereskigal, the Queen’s drop-dead beautiful daughter, is already on the loose. And don’t let her drop-dead looks fool you. She’s much more into the dropping-dead part than the being beautiful part. She is the evil goddess of the underworld, after all.

Luckily, Mack has his very own bodyguard—Stefan, king of the bullies. Sure, Stefan used to use Mack as his personal punching bag. But things are different now. And besides, when you have to travel across the world, fight indescribable evil, and face your deepest fears, sometimes it’s good to have a bully around. That, plus advice from a very old man named Grimluk, who fought the Pale Queen himself thousands of years ago, will be invaluable to Mack.
So Mack’s got Grimluk, Stefan, and a brand-new credit card on his side. Now all he has to do is get to Australia, face an army of deadly elves, and fight the undefeatable Ereskigal. Oh—and hope his parents don’t figure out they’re living with a shape-shifting creature called a golem instead of their son.
Piece of cake, right?

From Heather:   This was kind of a fun book to read.  It wasn't my very favorite book of all time, but it was a nice fun read.  It's probably one of those that, if my age fell into the target audience range, I would love it.  And if I was a boy.  =]  (There were way too many descriptions of ugly monsters and action for my taste...I found myself skipping past a lot of it.)  It's a fun story, and the writing was just the right amount of sarcasm and humor in it.  Mack is a funny character at times, and I really liked reading about him, although I loved Stefan even more I think.  He is the king of the bullies.  (Each group at school has their "own" bully, and Stefan is king of them all.)

All in all it was a fun middle-grade read and I'm  interested to see what happens next!  (Oh!  And check out the website is one of those books that has a companion website with games and stuff to go along with the story!  It might be even more fun than the book!)

Monday, August 13, 2012

Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover by Ally Carter

Synopsis from When Cammie "The Chameleon" Morgan visits her roommate Macey in Boston, she thinks she's in for an exciting end to her summer break. After all, she's there to watch Macey's father accept the nomination for vice president of the United States. But when you go to the world's best school (for spies), "exciting" and "deadly" are never far apart. Cammie and Macey soon find themselves trapped in a kidnappers' plot, with only their espionage skills to save them.As her junior year begins, Cammie can't shake the memory of what happened in Boston, and even the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women doesn't feel like the safe haven it once did. Shocking secrets and old flames seem to lurk around every one of the mansion's corners as Cammie and her friends struggle to answer the questions, Who is after Macey? And how can the Gallagher Girls keep her safe?Soon Cammie is joining Bex and Liz as Macey's private security team on the campaign trail. The girls must use their spy training at every turn as the stakes are raised, and Cammie gets closer and closer to the shocking truth.
Christina's Review: We are back to following the life of a spy. Book 3 in the Gallagher Series is even better than the first two. This book introduces us to some new characters. Zach pops up in unexpected places. Cammie is still trying to decide if she can trust him. . . if she should want him in her life. She continues to develop her spy skills as she is trying to keep one of her best friends safe and while trying to figure out who is after Macey. It is a great book and you won't want to put it down!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Evermore by Alyson Noel

On the back cover:

After a horrible accident claims the lives of her family, sixteen-year-old Ever Bloom can see people's auras, hear their thoughts, and know someone's entire life story by touching them. Going out of her way to avoid human contact and suppress her abilities, she has been branded a freak at her new high school- but everything changes when she meets Damen Auguste.

Damen is gorgeous, exotic, and wealthy. He's the only one who can silence the noise and random energy in her head- wielding a magic so intense, it's as though he can peer straight into her soul. As Ever is drawn deeper into his enticing world of secrets and mystery, she's left with more questions than answers. And she has no idea just who he really is- or what he is. The only thing she knows to be true is that she's falling deeply and helplessly in love with him.

Jennifer's Review:

Somewhat of a mushy and unbelievable rendition of Seers by Heather Frost. From the moment Damen comes into the story it is no longer believable. He is super gorgeous, rich (as everyone seems to be in this story), and only wants our main character Ever. Because of his amazing looks all the girls want him and bend over backwards to catch his eye. That isn't so untrue when it comes to high school but for Ever being lost in his eyes and always feeling that he makes her world right... I would have liked a lot more insight into why he has an affect on her. Maybe in her next book?

Can't stand how bad the language was and the romance scenes got worse and worse. Luckily they never went all the way but that seems to be their main purpose in life.

I really do like the story line and Ever. Her character is the most realistic of all of them. Her sister, Riley, doesn't act at all like a twelve year old. She acts more like a seven or eight year old. I would have LOVED her if she were made to be that age and acted the same.

One thing I would like to offer this author is to stop having everyone "purse" their lips all of the time. Just a thought.

I give Evermore three stars.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Motherhood Matters

Publisher's Notes: In these hectic days where life's demands can quickly become a heavy burden, Motherhood Matters helps you find more memorable moments and take the stress out of the to-do lists. Written with clarity, concision, and wit, this short, yet indispensable handbook is better than flowers, more guilt-free than chocolate, and gives back to the woman who sacrifices so much of herself every single day.

Mandi's Review: Obviously not my regular reading, but Connie Sokol's new book Motherhood Matters is just the sort of book I needed to read. Her words were a reminder of the divine calling of motherhood.Yet this book is also filled with poignant reminders that perfection is not a requirement.

"Part of  divine parenting includes stressful day-to-day mothering. No matter how patient and loving a mother is, there will be those times in her life when she has had it."

The author brings to light the rewards, challenges, realities, and joys of being a mother in a way that will leave you smiling and uplifted.

 My very favorite quote is, "Many women come from an active and accomplished single life and walk through the new mysterious portals of motherhood only to find that their biggest accomplishment is finding a matched pair of socks before the bus comes."

Isn't that the truth? Yet we are reminded that in the end, nothing from our pre-motherhood days are wasted. As a special education teacher (pre-children) I am able to use those skills I learned in the classroom and apply them in the most important classroom of home. Filled with fun stories, quotes, and inspiration from LDS prophets and apostles, this book is a must-read for any mother, young or old.

To purchase a copy of Motherhood Matters by Connie Sokol visit Amazon today!
To learn more about author Connie Sokol you can visit her website at

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Calling by Kelley Armstrong

Synopsis (from

Maya Delaney's paw-print birthmark is the mark of what she truly is -a skin-walker. She can run faster, climb higher, and see better than nearly everyone else. Experiencing intense connections with the animals that roam the woods outside her home, Maya knows it's only a matter of time before she's able to Shift and become one of them. And she believes there may be others in her small town with surprising talents.

Now Maya and her friends have been forced to flee from their homes during a forest fire they suspect was deliberately set. Then they're kidnapped, and after a chilling helicopter crash, they find themselves in the Vancouver Island wilderness with nothing but their extraordinary abilities to help them get back home.

In THE CALLING, the sizzling second book in the Darkness Rising trilogy, New York Times bestselling author Kelley Armstrong pumps up the romance, danger, and suspense that left readers of THE GATHERING clamoring for more.

Jillian's Review:
As you know by now, I'm a huge fan of Armstrong. She's such a great writer with a wonderful imagination and a gift for combining scifi/fantasy with reality, I just wish she'd cut out the cussing!

This was a great read, but not quite what I was hoping for in a second to the AWESOME novel, The Gathering. It kind of felt like one of those 1 1/2 filler books until the author finishes book two for publication. There was a ton of action, but nothing's really found out until the end, and only kind of (I suggest first reading the Darkest Powers Trilogy to understand what's happening in these ones).

I'm really, really hoping Armstrong gives us some more in book three... more information; more pertinent action; and please, Armstrong, pleeeease, MORE ROMANCE!!!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Sean Griswold's Head by Lindsey Leavitt

What it's about:
According to her guidance counselor, fifteen-year-old Payton Gritas needs a focus object-an item to concentrate her emotions on. It's supposed to be something inanimate, but Payton decides to use the thing she stares at during class: Sean Griswold's head. They've been linked since third grade (Griswold-Gritas-it's an alphabetical order thing), but she's never really known him.

The focus object is intended to help Payton deal with her father's newly diagnosed multiple sclerosis. And it's working. With the help of her boy-crazy best friend Jac, Payton starts stalking-er, focusing on-Sean Griswold . . . all of him! He's cute, he shares her Seinfeld obsession (nobody else gets it!) and he may have a secret or two of his own.

In this sweet story of first love, Lindsey Leavitt seamlessly balances heartfelt family moments, spot-on sarcastic humor, and a budding young romance.

What I thought of it:
Despite a rather abrupt start, I thoroughly enjoyed Sean Griswold's Head (Yes, his actual head. No, just kidding).  Payton is a pretty average, self-centered teen when she finds out her dad has MS. Enter counselor, focus object, and exactly what is supposed to happen: Payton realizes she is not the only person in this world. She starts to notice things about Sean's head, like for instance, the scar on his temple. Where did he get it? When? She's known him forever. How did she not know this?  Enter stalking. That's only fun for a while. Enter growing up and just asking him. The more she gets to know about Sean, the more she likes him. Between his insane biking and his strange but true friendships, Sean's got it together, and Payton realizes she has to pull it together too.

Very cute book with a good message and a little more substance than some YA reads. A few laugh out loud moments and a lot of heart. Definitely recommend.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

My Not-So-Fairy-Tale Life by Julie Wright

On the back cover:

"Life has not been easy for Suzanna Quincy. But she has not made it any easier for herself, either, by dabbling with drugs and alcohol. When she discovers she is pregnant, Suzanna suddenly realizes her life is not the fairy-tale she hoped it would be.

 Confronted by the reality of no parental support, no job, no car, and no prospects, she has to make a momentous decision about what to do with her life- and the life of her baby. Her decision propels her on a cross-cuntry jouney to Provo, Utah, where she hopes to find a refuge with her older brother and his not so friendly wife. Along the way, Suzanna has some harrowing experiences and meets an intriguing guy who believes in some weird religion.

 My Not-So-Fairy-Tale Life follows a young woman on a path of self-discovery. Filled with choices and consequences, laughter and tears, romance and broken dreams, it is a novel for all ages."

Jennifer's Review:

Pretty down to earth and well written. I enjoyed My Not-So-Fairy-Tale Life quite a bit. It is a glimpse into a life of a young woman who has made many wrong choices. As it states in the book, Suzanna made her decisions after a lack of love and direction from her mom. We have to turn around and look at ourselves, though, and stop blaming anyone else for our choices. Suzanna does this and learns how to truly love.

I am so grateful for this story. It made me laugh and cry. I also felt at peace. Thank you, Julie Wright for making Suzanna loveable!

I give My Not-So-Fairy-Tale Life 4 1/2 stars.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Mermaid's Purse

By Dorothy Keddington

Publisher's Note: A story like the sea itself - full of beauty, yet always with a hint of danger, where moods of light and shadow, calm and storm, life and death compete. Within its pages love is the tide that moves people together or drifts them apart, while the past returns, like waves on the shore to change and alter the present. The Mermaid's purse is a simple hiding place for a mysterious carnelian brooch. The cameo's worth arouses the greed of a ruthless man. While the mystery of its origin lead Arianne, Ian and Cameron into dangerous waters to protect the treasure of each other.

Mandi's Review: Arianne Moore is a young, beautiful widow, who is running from the ghosts of her past. Trying to escape her sorrow, she travels to the legendary Neahkahnie Mountain to help her aunts run a seaside bed and breakfast. There, along the mysterious, mist-shrouded coast, she meet Ian MacDonald, a Scottish sea captain who has spent his years working for a salvaging company exploring old shipwrecks. The old captain brings laughter to her aunt's small cottage, and Arianne is happy to see the twinkle in her aunt's eye. But when Ian mysteriously disappears, Arianne must rely on Ian's handsome nephew, Cameron Shaw, to help solve the mystery of "The Mermaid's Purse". This book is filled with mystery, suspense, and adventure. The beautiful descriptions of the misty coast will leave you feeling as if you are truly there. Cameron Shaw is a handsome, heart-skipping character, and the blossoming romance between him and Arianne Moore will leave you sighing. This is a great read, and if you love a good, clean romance, this book is definitely for you.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Inkspell by Cornelia Funke

From Goodreads:  Although a year has passed, not a day goes by without Meggie thinking of Inkheart, the book whose characters came to life - and changed her life forever.

But for Dustfinger, the fire-eater brought into being from words, the need to return to the original tale has become desperate. When he finds a crooked storyteller with the magical ability to read him back, Dustfinger leaves behind his young apprentice Farid and plunges into the medieval inkscape once more.

Distraught, Farid goes in search of Meggie, and before long both are caught inside the book, too. There they meet Inkheart's author, Fenoglio, now living within his own story. But the tale is much changed, and threatening to evolve in ways none of them could ever have imagined. Will Meggie, Farid, and Fenoglio manage to write the wrongs of a charmed world? Or is their story on the brink of a very bad ending?

From Heather:  I love, love, LOVED the first book in this series, Inkheart.  It was beautifully written (although I didn't realize until later that it was written in German and then translated into English.  Maybe that's why the words were so pretty...)  In this second installment, I didn't feel quite as drawn to the words.  And I don't know if it's because they weren't so elegant or if the action of the story took more of my attention.  Because this story was much more active than the first!

It starts out with Dustfinger finding someone else (besides Mo, Meggie or Darius) to read him into the story that he came from.  The man is Orpheus and he is sort of a creep.  And he leaves Farid in the real world.  Farid must then find Meggie and talk her into reading them into the book.  And she does.  It's supposed to be impossible to read yourself into a book.  No one has ever done it.  But Meggie did.  

It was fun to see Dustfinger explore his world and meet his wife Roxane.  Before you know it Meggie and Farid show up in the story.  (Fengolio was already IN the story from the last book...)  And Mo and Resa end up there too, leaving Elinor and Darius alone at home.  

The story is probably not middle-grade appropriate however.  There is a little swearing and a few situations that were a little uncomfortable (Dustfinger's young daughter Briana having an affair with a married man?) and the action is a little more intense.  But for older teens (and adults!) it's fantastic!