Thursday, November 29, 2012

Turning Pages

Written by Tristi Pinkston

Publisher's Notes: With his pride and her prejudice, what could possibly go wrong? When the arrogant Blake Hansen steals Addie Preston's promotion at the library, he pretty much rubs her nose in it. But Addie, who dreams of being a full-fledged librarian, decides to stick it out. She loves surrounding herself with books and keeping her father's memory alive in the building where they spent so much time together. Soon, Addie learns that her beloved library will be torn down to make room for a larger facility, and she has to make a choice. Fight, or let go? To complicate things, she finds herself attracted to Blake, who is engaged to someone else. Will Blake and Addie ever resolve their differences?

Mandi's Review: Turning Pages, Tristi Pinkston's newest novel, is a story that will leave a smile on your face. Addie Preston, a college student who works at the local library has had a difficult life. After losing her mother at a very young age, she is faced with all the turmoil of dealing with her father's recent death. She, along with her step-mother, and younger siblings are faced with some difficult challenges. Then to compound the situation even further, Addie is suddenly passed up for a promotion she has desperately wanted-- Jr. Librarian. Blake, the man who "stole" her position then poses a whole new set of problems for Addie. This is definitely a fun book, written as a modern-day version of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Addie is a fun, quirky character that I can really relate to. As a young woman, I spent hour upon hour in my local library. I remember browsing the isles and taking comfort in the unique scents that can only be found in an older library. I loved that Addie's goal was to save the original library. I have always enjoyed old, historic buildings, and there is certain charm that is definitely lacking in the new, modern libraries. I also really liked Blake's character. He is witty and arrogant, and I found the romantic tension between him and Addie a perfect addition to the story. This is a fun, clean read, and I'd recommend it for anyone who's looking for a great addition to their Christmas list.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Mayfair Moon by J.A. Redmersik

Synopsis (from
After a nightmarish encounter with a werewolf, seventeen-year-old Adria Dawson loses her sister, but gains the love of a mysterious young man and his legendary family.

Strange and tragic things begin to happen in the small town of Hallowell, Maine: residents come down with an unexplainable ‘illness’ and some disappear. In the midst of everything, Isaac Mayfair is adamant about keeping Adria safe, even from her sister whom he has warned her to stay away from.

As unspeakable secrets unfold all around Adria, impossible choices become hers to bear. Ultimately, no matter what path she takes, her life and the lives of those she loves will be in peril. As she learns about the werewolf world she also learns why her place in it will change the destinies of many.

Jillian’s Review:

I was looking forward to reading this novel after reading some raving reviews but it turned out to be just your run-of-the-mill teenager werewolf novel. It’s not especially well written and very predictable.

The romantic couple is once again drawn to each other because of physical attraction, they don’t get to know each other because they’re madly in love, and once again, there is supposed to be more to their relationship that just doesn’t translate to the reader.

I did like the guy, but I have to admit, but getting tired of the dark, brooding, over-protective, and almost psychotically stalkerish, hero. Why oh why do they all have to brood?

On the plus side, it was pretty clean. No sex and I don’t remember much swearing if any.

If you're in need of a were’ fix read the MUCH better written Shiver instead.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Selection by Kiera Cass

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn't want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she's made for herself--and realizes that the life she's always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

My Review:
I'm not sure if someone (Jillian?) has reviewed this, but as we usually differ on opinions of books (hence the title of this blog) I figured I'd give it a go.

I was on a waiting list at the library for this book forEVER and when I finally got it, I knew, just knew it was not going to be worth the wait. And for the first half of the book, I was right. "Gah! This is like every other YA book out there! Self-centered, self-destructive, unlikable main character who is motivated by hot guys. Blech!"

BUT, as the book moved along, America became a lot more likable and a lot more relatable and I was completely sad when the book ended. I actually looked up the sequel (The Elite, April 2013), which I never do. Two great guys to choose from, and I can actually see why the guys would choose America, too. I anticipate the next book will be even better with plot holes patched up (I mean, if we are fighting other countries, how come all of a sudden there are rebel troops attacking the castle? Don't you first have to belong to something to rebel against it?) Despite nothing really happening, the characterizations carried the plot, and I'm assuming most of the action will happen in the next book and this one just kind of sets it up. And not that nothing happens--stuff happens--but I guess you just want to see how it plays out and ends, and you don't get to in The Selection. Yay for sequels!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Kensuke's Kingdom by Michael Morpurgo

On the back:

"Washed up on an island in the Pacific with his dog Stella, Michael struggles to survive on his own. He can't find food. He can't find water. But just when things are at their worst, Michael realizes that he and Stella are not alone.

His fellow castaway, Kensuke, has lived on the island since the bombing of his native Nagasaki. Kensuke keeps his distance at first, but slowly, he lets the boy into his world. The two teach and learn from each other until, inevitably, they must talk about escape."

Jennifer's Review:

My nine year old and I read this in a little book club her school put on. Super cute book that teaches about responsibility and understanding. 

Such a great little adventure that I really enjoyed reading with my daughter. I plan to read it with my son, as well. :)

I give Kensuke's Kingdom four and a half stars.



Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Singer of All Songs: The Tenth Power by Kate Constable

Synopsis (from
Kate Constable's magnificent musical trilogy reaches its high note as Calwyn returns to Antaris and discovers the true Singer of All Songs.

At the beginning of THE SINGER OF ALL SONGS, Calwyn fled Antaris with Darrow to defeat the ambitious chanter Samis. In THE TENTH POWER, she comes back to the mountains in hopes of rejuvenating her lost powers of chantment. But Samis's magic left terrible scars on Antaris, so Calwyn finds only conflict rather than the peace she craved. Meanwhile, Darrow suffers from a sickness that has sapped his magic as well as his strength--and Samis has returned to continue his quest for the Singer of All Songs. All of Tremaris seems to be dying. How can Calwyn save the land, and finally save them all?

Jillian’s Review:
I LOVED this book! So many things happen that you think will work out and then it all goes to pot. And then you think it’s all worked out again, and again, until it does finally get resolved with a mostly happy ending.

When I saw the title of this last book in the series, I wondered excitedly what the tenth power could be. I was a bit disappointed when I found out what it was and hadn’t even realized these people didn’t have it to begin with. But it worked, I guess. I was just hoping for something more magical.

I loved the growth from the main characters and that I finally get some of that romance, but it's still really clean. I’m not at all happy that Calwyn kisses another, very nasty guy, but I get why she does it. I’m just glad that she ends up with the right guy.

A perfect ending to a great trilogy. Thank you Constable!

Monday, November 19, 2012

How to Knit a Love Song by Rachael Herron

Abigail is more than ready for a change when she inherits a cottage from her beloved mentor, knitting guru Eliza Carpenter. Leaving the oppressive city for the greener pastures of a small California beach town, she intends to turn her cozy little windfall into a knitting shop and spend her days spinning, designing, and purling. But she's not going to be welcomed with open arms by her new neighbor. Eliza's disgruntled nephew, the gorgeous Cade, now owns everything surrounding Abigail's ramshackle new home, and he views this sexy city girl as an unwanted interloper.

But chemistry working overtime is drawing two very different people closer than they ever thought possible. And when the past that Abigail thought she'd left behind comes calling, she'll have to somehow learn to trust her handsome adversary with much more than just her heart.

Misty's Review:

Not as delectably adorable as you might think and not squeeky clean as the cover implies, but still an okay read. Cade is a jerk for way too many chapters, and even by the end I was still wondering what Abigail might see in the self-centered oaf. Maybe not seeing past the abs and the cowboy hat, honey. Cade is alternately overbearing or completely absent, vindictive, and reckless. Abigail is not a strong enough character to balance it, but unfortunately she is not sweet either to compliment it. She's oblivious, unrealistic in her expectations, needy, and kind of a clutz. I was surprised this was published in 2010 because it is written more in the style of the 1980s romances where every man is a chauvenist pig and every woman pretends to want to burn her bra. But Herron somehow pulls it all together to make it work.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Entwined by Heather Dixon

On the back:

"For centuries, the Keeper has been waiting within the walls of the palace. But now Azalea, eldest of the kingdom's twelve princesses, has found the magic entrance to his hideout. Azalea, who thought her life was unfurling brightly before her, but then lost her mother. And her freedom. She, too, is trapped inside the walls of the palace by the strict rules of Mourning- no color, no sunlight, no suitors, no dancing. What is more, her father won't stop treating her like a child. So the Keeper extends an invitation. Each night Azalea and her sisters may dance in his silver forest. He is dashing, and his magnetic eyes are always on Azalea. What the Keeper wants in exchange may cost her everything. But the Keeper should not underestimate Azalea's temper, or her strengthor her love for her sisters and her kingdom."

Jennifer's Review:

Well, I have to say, this was CUTE! So clean, so intriguing. This story is based upon the Twelve Dancing Princesses, a story I never really understood. With this "version" I got it. :) Much better!

Azalea, being the oldest, feels the resposibility of taking care of her younger sisters resting heavily on her shoulders. While her father is truly grieving for the loss of her mother, Azalea must keep the family upbeat but is kept within strict rules of Mourning.

Just enough romance, suspense, with a twist of humor. An easy read that is great for all ages starting around middle school.

I give Entwined five stars!


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke

A dragon. A boy. A journey. Firedrake, a brave young dragon, his loyal brownie friend Sorrel and a lonely boy called Ben are united as if by destiny. Together, they embark on a magical journey to find the legendary place where silver dragons can live in peace forever. With only a curious map and the whispered memories of an old dragon to guide them, they fly across moonlit lands and seas to reach the highest mountains in the world. Along the way, they discover extraordinary new friends in unlikely places and a courage they never knew they had. Just as well, for the greatest enemy of all is never far behind them - a heartless monster from the past who's been waiting a very long time to destroy the last dragons on earth.

From Heather:  I have really enjoyed Cornelia Funke's books lately.  All the ones I've read have been really long, but worth every page.  This one is no different.  The story is fun to explore.  I never thought I would like books about dragons but it sort of works for me.  Firedrake happens to be a wonderful dragon!  :) 

Sorrel the brownie sort of drove me a little nuts.  She's not very nice, always grumpy and sarcastic.  But Ben I absolutely loved.  Firedrake and Sorrel find him alone in an abandoned warehouse in London and he joins them on their journey to find the Rim of Heaven.  It's a wonderful book, if a bit long.  And probably about an age 10 and up sort of book.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Crown of Embers by Rae Carson

Synopsis (from
In the sequel to the acclaimed The Girl of Fire and Thorns, a seventeen-year-old princess turned war queen faces sorcery, adventure, untold power, and romance as she fulfills her epic destiny.

Elisa is the hero of her country. She led her people to victory against a terrifying enemy, and now she is their queen. But she is only seventeen years old. Her rivals may have simply retreated, choosing stealth over battle. And no one within her court trusts her-except Hector, the commander of the royal guard, and her companions. As the country begins to crumble beneath her and her enemies emerge from the shadows, Elisa will take another journey. With a one-eyed warrior, a loyal friend, an enemy defector, and the man she is falling in love with, Elisa crosses the ocean in search of the perilous, uncharted, and mythical source of the Godstone's power. That is not all she finds. A breathtaking, romantic, and dangerous second volume in the Fire and Thorns trilogy.

Jillian’s Review:

I've been looking forward to this one since I read The Girl of Fire and Thorns last year and The Crown of Embers did not disappoint!

This is a really great story, with a more magical element, awesome characters and tons of action... and even some romance. I wasn't happy how weak Elisa was after winning a war in the previous story, but it worked for the most part.

The only negative is that I CAN NOT WAIT for book three and yet, I have to. :(


Saturday, November 10, 2012

Clockwiser by Elle Strauss Synopsis: The last year has been smooth sailing for Casey Donovan. She and her boyfriend Nate are doing better than ever, and things at home are good, too. Everything’s been so calm, she hasn’t even “tripped” back to the nineteenth century.Then the unthinkable happens and she accidentally takes her rebellious brother Tim back in time. It’s 1862 with the Civil War brewing, and for Tim this spells adventure and excitement. Finding himself stuck in the past, he enlists in the Union army, but it doesn’t take long before he discovers real life war is no fun and games.Casey and Nate race against the clock to find Tim, but the strain wears on their relationship. It doesn’t help that the intriguing new boy next door has his sights on Casey, and isn’t shy to let her know it. Can Nate and Casey find Tim in time to save him? And is it too late to save their love?
Christina's Review: Book #2 in the Clockwise Series is just as good as the first. Casey is feeling better about herself. She has a boyfriend and her life isn't as stressful as it used to be so she hasn't tripped in awhile. Then she starts having a fight with her brother and takes him back at time. She explained the process to him and when she comes to get him he doesn't go along! Silly brother! Her brother might be doing drugs and it will surprise you who is the dealer. I was certainly surprised. There are relationship problems between Casey and Nate, which makes their relationship seem more realistic. Will the strain be too much for them? Will Tim make it back to the present?? All these questions answered in book #2!!! It was fun and entertaining. A creative storyline. The author does well with switching between the past and the present and inserts a little US history in her story. Hope you find it as entertaining as I did.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Secrets of The Red Box

A Novel by Vickie Hall

Publisher's Note: Bonnie has secrets to keep - secrets with the potential to destroy lives, including her own. Running from her destructive and pain filled past, she recreates herself, believing she has escaped the damning evidence hidden in the red box. When her former life is revealed by a cruel twist of fate, Bonnie faces losing everything, including Glen, the only man she’s ever loved. But is Bonnie the woman he thinks she is? Set against the backdrop of the 1940s, Secrets of the Red Box is filled with intrigue and suspense - sure to keep you guessing to the very end!

Mandi's Review: Set in the midst of war, this historical novel is filled with romance, suspense, and drama. The book begins with Bonnie, the main character, running for her life, fleeing to find a place to call her own and begin again, as a new person. Throughout the story, you realize Bonnie has issues. She's self-centered, a little cruel, but yet you know, deep down, she's only searching for love, family, and acceptance. You can't help but like her, especially as she flashes back to her childhood and you realize the pain and loss she's suffered throughout her life.

 The red box Bonnie carries in her possession is definitely a mystery, and one that will have you turning the pages at a ferocious pace to discover the contents within. This is a very well written story. The author really takes you back in time with her descriptive narrative. The characters you meet throughout the story will leave lasting impressions, and you're definitely in for a surprise ending. I congratulate the author on a book that is a compelling read!

5 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Princess Academy: Palace of Stone by Shannon Hale

Synopsis (from
Coming down from the mountain to a new life in the city seems a thrill beyond imagining. When Miri and her friends from Mount Eskel set off to help the future princess Britta prepare for her royal wedding, she is happy about her chance to attend school in the capital city. There, Miri befriends students who seem so sophisticated and exciting… until she learns that they have some frightening plans. They think that Miri will help them, that she “should “help them. Soon Miri finds herself torn between loyalty to the princess and her new friends’ ideas, between an old love and a new crush, and between her small mountain home and the bustling city. Picking up where “Princess Academy “left off, this incredible stand-alone story celebrates the joys of friendship, the delight of romance, and the fate of a beloved fairy tale kingdom.

Jillian’s Review:
I really enjoyed the first Princess Academy and was super excited to find out that there was another one. Although it's been over two years since I read the first, Hale does a great job of bringing us up to speed.

I love Hale's writing style: “Hunger ran through her childhood like a string through a bead necklace,” such beautiful imagery. Her characters are intelligent, insightful, and funny. Miri is a great, strong character who hasn't regressed in her attributes just so she has room to grow in this second book, like I've read in many other Middle Grade and Young Adult novels. And even though she's stronger from her experiences in book one, she still grows, develops, and learns a whole lot about herself in book two.
There was a sense of doom just waiting to descend, which made this a bit darker than I would have liked, but everything is thankfully resolved well and makes the world of the lowlands feel brighter once the doom is lifted.

I’m happy to say there was more romance in this one, but clean enough that a MD reader wouldn't be uncomfortable reading it. And I'm SO glad Miri chooses the best guy in the end. Yay for happy endings!