Thursday, December 27, 2012

An Unexpected Angel

A novel by Janet K. Halling

Publisher's Note: Ella Davies hates Christmas. Every year she spends the holidays working, trying to forget the pain of a childhood tragedy that left her all alone. But this season, Ella's about to learn something only an angel could teach her. This modern twist on a Christmas classic will remind you that the best gifts of all are the loved ones you learn to treasure!

Mandi's Review: Ella Davies has spent her life since her mother and sister's death filled with grief, anger, and guilt, and Christmas is just another painful reminder of what she no longer has. In the traditional spirit of A Christmas Carol, Ella is visited by an unexpected guest on Christmas eve. As she journeys into the events of the past, Ella learns there is always a purpose to the trials in her life. She learns the importance of forgiveness and love.

It was Christmas Eve, and the Empire State Building was lit with red and green. The streets were jammed with traffic, and the fog was rolling in off the Hudson, turning the streetlights into misty orbs.

Ella sighed and turned away from the window and the twinkling lights below, determined not to give in to the painful memories that had been lurking in the back of her mind all day.

 I have to admit, I loved this book. It is a wonderful read that will leave you feeling the tender Christmas spirit that is often hard to find during the busy holiday rush. At first, I didn't like Ella, but as you learn her story, you feel touched and inspired by this "Scrooge-like" character. This is definitely a holiday must-read and is a perfect addition to anyone's holiday collection. You'll want to read it again every year!

Purchase a copy of An Unexpected Angel today! It would make a great Christmas gift for those you love!

Learn more about author, Janet K. Halling .

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Carrier of the Mark by Leigh Fallon

Synopsis (from
Their love was meant to be.

When Megan Rosenberg moves to Ireland, everything in her life seems to fall into place. After growing up in America, she's surprised to find herself feeling at home in her new school. She connects with a group of friends, and she is instantly drawn to darkly handsome Adam DeRÍs.

But Megan is about to discover that her feelings for Adam are tied to a fate that was sealed long ago—and that the passion and power that brought them together could be their ultimate destruction.

Jillian’s Review:
This was an interesting story but not really well executed. The conversions between characters were unrealistic and the positions of characters were not well defined (i.e. at one point someone is on their hands and knees and then suddenly they're hugging someone).

The characters were okay, but I really felt like I was reading a thin shadow of Twilight: with an annoyingly clumsy main character; a dark, brooding hunk; and a cute, chipper little sister of Brooder Boy. The romantic couple was ridiculous and their relationship was completely based on physical attraction even though Fallon tried to make it more. It just didn't work. They don’t know each other at all yet they’re willing to give up everything for their one true love. Blagh.

I doubt I'll read the next one even though nothing was resolved in this one.
2 1/2 stars because the story really could have been good.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Regency Romance by author G.G. Vandagriff

Publisher's Note: Miss Braithwaite’s Secret is the final novel in the traditional Regency Trilogy: “Three Rogues and Their Ladies.” The Deseret News claims “Vandagriff writes in a style reminiscent of Georgette Heyer. Like Heyer, she centers her novel on witty characters that readers will love.”

In this novel, when Caroline Braithwaite, the Incomparable, leaves her first London Season early, the ton is left wondering why. Home in Wiltshire, she does not confide in her parents or her best friend. However, when the duke of Beverley appears at a house party to which they have both been invited, she is seriously discomposed. So is he. Fresh from a broken engagement, the last thing he wants is to partner a woman he had briefly courted in London – a woman he would have offered for before the fiancée came along. Caro fights her own attraction to the compelling duke. After all, he's already broken her heart once. She is not about to give him a second chance.

As the two slowly learn more about one another, they are surprised to find that first impressions have led them astray. While their feelings are growing progressively more intimate, they are plagued by harrowing circumstances which keep them apart and lead to new misunderstandings. How many times will Caro have to forgive Ned, the Duke of Beverley? And will he, at last, be able to prove his love?

Mandi's Review: Miss Braithwaite's Secret is the third book in GG Vandgriff's Three Rouges and Their Ladies Regency Trilogy. I have to admit, I've loved this series, and I am sorry to see it end. In Miss Braithwaite's Secret, Caroline a.k.a "Caro" and Ned are confronted with a wealth of misunderstandings amidst their growing mutual attraction. The romantic tension makes this novel all the more fun. Vandagriff's characters are perfectly flawed, with all the right distinctive quirks to keep them in your mind long after you've finished the book. The era in which this book is set bring many vivid pictures to mind, and you feel as if you've stepped into the past. This is definitely a series worth cuddling up with on a cold, wintry day.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Rise of Nine (Lorien Legacies, book 3) by "Pittacus Lore"

Synopsis (from

Until the day I met John Smith, Number Four, I'd been on the run alone, hiding and fighting to stay alive.

Together, we are much more powerful. But it could only last so long before we had to separate to find the others. . . .

I went to Spain to find Seven, and I found even more, including a tenth member of the Garde who escaped from Lorien alive. Ella is younger than the rest of us, but just as brave. Now we're looking for the others--including John.

But so are they.

They caught Number One in Malaysia.
Number Two in England.
And Number Three in Kenya.
They caught me in New York--but I escaped.
I am Number Six.
They want to finish what they started.
But they'll have to fight us first.

Jillian’s Review:
I actually enjoyed this one more than the first two, I Am Number Four  and The Power of Six. It helps that there are more girl point of view parts. I just don't care for the three boys so far, but the girls are great.

I’m happy to say that the author’s writing improves with each book. I refuse to call him Lore—since this is the name of one of the characters in the novel and I hate that the author is using it as his/her nom de plume just to try to convince us that this is non-fiction we’re reading.

There was more action than I care to read. I found myself skimming a lot through those parts, just as I did in the first two. But I did like the storyline... I’m just annoyed that there was no resolution. So, once again, I'll have to wait to find out what happens. How many freaking books will there be?? Please don't make it be like the Wheel of Time!

Monday, December 10, 2012

The False Princess by Eilis O'Neal

Princess and heir to the throne of Thorvaldor, Nalia's led a privileged life at court. But everything changes when it's revealed, just after her sixteenth birthday, that she is a false princess, a stand-in for the real Nalia, who has been hidden away for her protection. Cast out with little more than the clothes on her back, the girl now called Sinda must leave behind the city of Vivaskari, her best friend, Keirnan, and the only life she's ever known.

Sinda is sent to live with her only surviving relative, an aunt who is a dyer in a distant village. She is a cold, scornful woman with little patience for her newfound niece, and Sinda proves inept at even the simplest tasks. But when Sinda discovers that magic runs through her veins - long-suppressed, dangerous magic that she must learn to control - she realizes that she can never learn to be a simple village girl.

Returning to Vivaskari for answers, Sinda finds her purpose as a wizard scribe, rediscovers the boy who saw her all along, and uncovers a secret that could change the course of Thorvaldor's history, forever.

A dazzling first novel, The False Princess is an engrossing fantasy full of mystery, action, and romance.

My Review:

I really wanted to review Christmas books this month, but I read this last week and thought it was worth a mention. I thought maybe we had reviewed this before, so I checked and, yes, Jennifer reviewed it last May. We have pretty much the same opinion.

The False Princess reminded me a lot of The Bayern series by Shannon Hale (Goose Girl, Enna Burning). It also reminded me of The Peasant Queen series by Cheri Chesley. I liked both series and so it goes to follow that I liked The False Princess. Definitely a book a would recommend for the other reviewers here and probably most of our readers.

Heavy on underdog teen overcoming all the odds, light on romance. I was pleasantly surprised in the beginning, but there were points, especially near the end, where Sinda kept repeating herself and being, well, kind of whiny when I just wanted her to finish up her story. I guess her monologuing got in the way of the action. I particularly enjoyed the character of Keirnan, who was not your typical brooding YA hero. He actually was, well, a hero. Pleasant, funny, supportive, honorable, understanding, reasonable, fair and yet still strong in his own right.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Protected by Cindy M. Hogan

Protected by Cindy M. Hogan
Watched Book #1
Synopsis from Goodreads: She has the guy. The terrorists have been taken care of. She has a shot at becoming popular.Life is great!Until they find her. Now she must run and leave behind everything she knows, including herself.

Christina's guest review: Once again Cindy M. Hogan delivers an amazing book. At the end of the first book Christy is still torn between two guys but she is leaning heavily towards one and then in book 2 she totally disregards her decision and goes to the other one. This decision causes a chain reaction of problems. Book 2 takes you through Christy's life on the run. Running away from the bad guys. She will learn that her decisions once again affect all of her new friends.
Once again I couldn't stop reading it. It was never boring. I am excited for book 3 to come out!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Finding June

By Shannen C. Camp

Publisher's Notes: Standing up for what you believe in is hard for any teenager in the battleground known as high school. It's even harder in the world of Hollywood, which is where sixteen-year-old June Laurie dreams of being. Thanks to the constant training from her agent/grandmother and the support of her best friend Joseph, June is positive she's ready. But is an innocent little Mormon girl like June ever really ready to be cast as the love interest for the country's hottest star, Lukas Leighton? When June lands a role in Hollywood's most popular crime drama, Forensic Faculty, she finds herself caught off-guard by the fast-paced world of tabloids and paparazzi, and swept off her feet by her gorgeous co-star. Now June must decide what she's willing to give up to achieve the title of Hollywood starlet—or more importantly, what's too sacred to lose.

Mandi's Review: I have to admit, I had a hard time putting this book down. June is a cute character with a LOT of personality. She quirky, spunky, and definitely a little confused. Thrown into a world of make-believe, tabloids, and stardom, she quickly learns things aren't exactly all she's dreamed it would be. She has some tough decisions to make, and at times she finds she's made all the wrong ones. Filled with humor and clean romance, I'd recommend it for anyone looking for a fun, quick read.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Naming by Alison Croggon

Synopsis (from
Maerad is a slave in a desperate and unforgiving settlement, taken there as a child after her family is destroyed in war. She is unaware that she possesses a powerful gift, one that marks her as a member of the School of Pellinor. It is only when she is discovered by Cadvan, one of the great Bards of Lirigon, that her true heritage and extraordinary destiny unfold. Now she and her new teacher must survive a journey through a time and place where the forces they battle stem from the deepest recesses of otherworldly terror.

Alison Croggon’s epic fantasy, the first in the Books of Pellinor quartet, is a glittering saga steeped in the rich and complex landscape of Annar, a legendary world ripe for discovery.

Jillian’s Review:
I was really impressed with this well-written novel. The story was great, the characters were true to life, especially the main girl, Maerad. She’d been through a lot and had a fear of men  as a result, as would anyone who had been in her situation. Unfortunately, this fear remained with her the entire novel (all 492 pages) which meant there was next to no romance. But it worked because it meant Maerad stayed true to her character... I just would have really liked to have read a little bit of loven'.

I really enjoyed this read until Maerad and her instructor, Cadvan, set out on yet another journey (the story begins with a long journey) which took nearly half the book with painfully tedious detail to scenery and characters. I ended up skimming a lot just to get to the meat of the story.

When Maerad and Cadvan finally reached their destination, so many incredible things happen that it almost made the journey there bearable, almost. Though, I must say, I’m tired of reading books without endings. This was another one of those series novels that had zero resolution and probably won’t have until the last book, which I’m not sure I’ll read since this one was sooooo loooooong.

Still, The Naming is a really great read, if a bit long-winded.


Monday, December 3, 2012

Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier

Gwyneth Shepherd's sophisticated, beautiful cousin Charlotte has been prepared her entire life for traveling through time. But unexpectedly, it is Gwyneth, who in the middle of class takes a sudden spin to a different era!
Gwyneth must now unearth the mystery of why her mother would lie about her birth date to ward off suspicion about her ability, brush up on her history, and work with Gideon--the time traveler from a similarly gifted family that passes the gene through its male line, and whose presence becomes, in time, less insufferable and more essential. Together, Gwyneth and Gideon journey through time to discover who, in the 18th century and in contemporary London, they can trust.

My review:
Ruby Red is so similar to Clockwise by Elle Strauss, that it is impossible to do a review without at least a small note of comparsion. I know the Clockwise books have been reviewed here by Christina, possibly by others, too. I read Clockwise and really liked it, and I anticipated that the writing and plot development would be tighter in the next novel, which admittedly, I have not read. With that said, Ruby Red was Clockwise times 10. I won't say it was way better, but it was better. The writing was tighter and the plot was more complex with the addition of the Guardian society and the way the past affects the future and vice versa. I felt the characters were, if not more developed, at least more interesting than in Clockwise. But Ruby Red was a little short on actual events and action, where Clockwise had plenty of action and interaction with historical events and people. So, it's like a tie. Not that anyone is keeping score.
Personally, I liked Ruby Red a little better and I will definitely read the rest of the books in the series, even if I have to drag out the old German/English dictionary to read them.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Steal His Heart by Diane Darcy

Goodreads Synopsis: What if keeping your job depended on keeping a secret? Daisy Manning has been testing security by shoplifting in Worthingtons Department store for five months. Not once in that entire time has she been caught by security personnel. Until today.Kent Whitaker is disgusted by the beautiful thief he’s caught red-handed, and even more disgusted by his attraction to her. While he won’t allow himself to become romantically involved with a thief, he can certainly help out a friend by curing his daughter of bad habits. They both fight their growing attraction, Kent because dishonesty is the one trait he cannot tolerate, and Daisy because Kent is directly interfering with her long-range career goals. But when an unskilled matchmaker tries his hand at getting them together, the unexpected happens to them both as Kent gets distracted and Daisy steals his heart!
Christina's Review: This is a book I recently read. It was a good book. Just a warning, Diane Darcy really likes to write about kissing and occasionally is very descriptive about a kiss. Still a clean romance though. I liked the storyline. Daisy is shoplifting and Kent is the security man. He falls for her but is torn because their values are so different. Cute book. Quick and easy to read. I enjoyed it and I have read it a few times.