Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Book Review: The Dig (Zoe and Zeus Trilogy #1) by Audrey Hart

Zoe’s life is not exactly normal. Her parents died when she was young, leaving her in the care of her archeologist aunt and uncle. She’s accompanied them on digs for years, but this time feels…different.

When Zoe accidentally gets trapped in an ancient Greek temple, she finds that myth and reality are more closely intertwined than she thought. Now she must face a pack of teenaged Greek gods who seem bent on sending her to the underworld…or at least back where she came from.

Except for Zeus, the handsome boy who risks it all to be with her. What is she willing to risk in return?


I read this book in a flurry, finishing in less than two days. The author described her novel as an Indiana Jones-style adventure, but I would say Zoe is more like a female Percy Jackson. She’s witty and entertaining, smart and sarcastic. She’s strong willed and shows and aptitude for thinking on her feet and taking care of herself. While Zoe doesn’t look for anyone to rescue her, she often finds herself in situations where she needs help but won’t ask for it. Good thing someone is usually there to save her.

Zeus is a heart-throb hero who has no lack in chivalry or honor. I like that in a character. He isn’t perfect, even losing his temper once or twice, but that’s what makes him believable.

While I overall really enjoyed this book, there were a few things that were confusing for me. Zoe claims to be out of the loop on teenage pop-culture, but I had a hard time believing that. She frequently used popular songs or TV shows as references. I was also a little confused by the description of the temple door. It gave me a good mental picture of what the door was supposed to look like, but it took me a long time to realize it was actually a portal and not really a giant _____. (I won’t spoil the surprise.)

I felt like the Greek mythology in this book was a little loose, but that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. If you have a hard time with authors taking a few liberties in fairytale and mythology retellings, this may bother you. As for me, I enjoyed it. It was a fun, clever and creative twist on the stories we all think we know.

This was a fun and fresh romance that had me turning the pages as fast as possible. I look forward to the next installment of Zoe and Zeus. Write on, Audrey. Write on.

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Publisher: Backlit Fiction; 1 edition (November 7, 2011)
  • Reading Level: Young Adult
  • Source: Author for Review
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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Hard Times

I generally like to keep things sort of non-personal here on my book blog. But to explain why I've been gone and why I won't be back for a while, I need to give you some personal information.

A few months ago my husband and I went to the doctor for our 20 week ultrasound. This is the big one where they tell you the gender of your baby, and in our case babies. We were so excited. They'd told us they thought both babies were girls, but it was sort of too early to tell.

In the course of the ultrasound, we soon realized that something wasn't quite right. The technician was quiet and asked us strange questions about my pregnancy history (she was a new technician we hadn't seen before). She confirmed that one of the twins was a girl, but the other one was being modest and she couldn't quite see.

When we saw the doctor, she explained that Baby A (the modest twin) had low fluid surrounding her. This was partially the reason why the technician couldn't see the gender. We would later discover that "low fluid" was a euphemism for no fluid. Troubled, we were sent home and I was put on bed rest. A few days later, I had an appointment with a perinatologist - a doctor who specializes in high risk pregnancies.

The news we got was shattering: Our baby was dying.

The doctor wanted to see us later that week at a hospital in Salt Lake City, but he told us the baby would probably be gone by then.

I cannot even attempt to tell you what life was like for us after that.

Later that week, we met with the specialist again. This time, the news was a little more hopeful. The baby was still alive. She was still fighting and working hard to create more fluid, but it seemed as if nature was against her. Basically she was lying on the cord, which restricted her blood flow, making it more difficult to create fluid and thrive. And since there was no fluid, she was putting more weight than normal on the cord, which compressed it even further cutting off her supply even more.

The doctor gave her a 5% chance of survival. He put me on side bed rest (meaning I had to lay on my side at all times as this improved my circulation) and told me it probably wouldn't do much, but it was the only thing we could do to help.

I admit, we were hopeful. The doc had told us the baby wouldn't survive the week, and she had! A 5% chance was still a chance, right?!

A little over a week later, we went in for another ultrasound.

The baby was gone.

We have no words to express how saddened we are by losing one of our precious children. Life is a little confusing at the moment. To say that our world has been turned upside down would be putting it lightly. To say that nothing will ever be the same is probably a fair assumption. Some days are hard, some days are better. We have our sweet little boy who is just magical and brings us so much joy. We recently celebrated his 2nd birthday, and he makes us laugh every day. We are also mourning the loss of our baby while still fighting to keep our Baby B safe and healthy. I'm nearly 28 weeks pregnant, and we're hoping to make it to at least 32 weeks. Every day I wake up and think, "You made it one more day. Only 30 more days. Please, you can do it."

We are trying very hard to stay positive. Baby girl has been healthy and strong this whole time, and we pray she stays that way. We are, indeed, counting our many blessings.

So what does this have to do with my book blog?

Well, the moment we found out that our baby was in trouble (which was about 2 months ago), I stopped reading and haven't picked up a book since. That's a lie. I started to try to get back into reading about a week ago, but I made it about 2 chapters into a book and had to put it down. I just don't have the emotional stamina to devote to recreational reading. I am not sure that I will for a while.

And there it is. I have no idea how long I'll be gone from the blogging world, but I hope to start back up someday.

Thank you for your support, and I will keep you updated when I can. Pin It

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Review: Vanish by Sophie Jordan

From Goodreads: To save the life of the boy she loves, Jacinda did the unthinkable: She betrayed the most closely-guarded secret of her kind. Now she must return to the protection of her pride knowing she might never see Will again—and worse, that because his mind has been shaded, Will’s memories of that fateful night and why she had to flee are gone.

Back home, Jacinda is greeted with hostility and must work to prove her loyalty for both her sake and her family’s. Among the few who will even talk to her are Cassian, the pride’s heir apparent who has always wanted her, and her sister, Tamra, who has been forever changed by a twist of fate. Jacinda knows that she should forget Will and move on—that if he managed to remember and keep his promise to find her, it would only endanger them both. Yet she clings to the hope that someday they will be together again. When the chance arrives to follow her heart, will she risk everything for love?

In bestselling author Sophie Jordan’s dramatic follow-up to Firelight, forbidden love burns brighter than ever.

While I merely enjoyed the first Firelight novel, I loved the second! I felt like the first one was mainly love story, and secondly plot. With Vanish, I felt like we got to finally look deeper within Jace. We get to know Cassian, and maybe fall in love with him a little bit. And things between Tamra and Jace finally feel like a twin-sisterhood should.

Jace does talk a lot about her feelings for Will and the conflict between her and Cassian. I think it gives her good depth. I was proud of her for getting her head together and putting something besides romance first.

There was some pretty intense action, and I was hurrying to find out what was going to happen.

So often the first book in a series is the hook, the second is just ok, and then the third is awesome. I did not feel that way with Vanish. I felt like Firelight was ok, but just enough to get me to want to keep reading. Vanish was really amazing. I liked it more than the first. 

  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins (September 6, 2011)
  • Source: Publisher via Netgalley
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Review: Cinder and Ella by Melissa Lemon

From Goodreads: After their father’s disappearance, Cinder leaves home for a servant job at the castle. But it isn’t long before her sister Ella is brought to the castle herself—the most dangerous place in all the kingdom for both her and Cinder. Cinder and Ella is a Cinderella story like no other and one you'll never forget.


My review might be a little confusing, but once you read the book, it'll make more sense.

I think I have said before how much I love fairytale retellings. I was determined to love Cinder and Ella…but I found that I merely enjoyed it. 

I thought the mother’s fusing of Cinder and Ella was too quick. I think the idea was good, but it seems like it happened over the course of two or three days, rather than a few years. And why was she stuck at a spinning wheel? Was she enchanted or something? That part was confusing to me.

Other than that, I thought the story was fascinating with the prince being the bad guy. I think Cinder started out strong, but she sort of morphed into a two-dimensional character. Ella, however, started off sort of weak and grew into a strong character. That was nice. I loved the playful banter between Ella and Tanner.

The element of the trees was really good. I enjoyed that. I was confused by the situation with Cinder and Ella’s father and the significance there.

All in all, it was a nice easy read. 

  • Reading level: Ages 9-12
  • Hardcover: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Cedar Fort, Inc. (November 8, 2011)
  • Source: Publisher via Netgalley
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Book Review: Wreath by Judy Christie

Wreath is a sixteen year old girl who must grow up and live on her own when her mother dies. The problem is she’s living in a junk yard. It’s her life’s mission to complete high school and go to college, but she doesn’t want to go into foster care for the last year of high school. So she finds a small town where she can slip through the cracks until it’s time to graduate.

Unfortunately, Wreath’s too wonderful to forget, and soon she has a support group of community members who care deeply for her. They all know something is wrong, but no one quite knows what.

Living in a junk yard is only the beginning. What would they say if they knew the secret that didn’t die with her mother? Now her mother’s abusive boyfriend is hunting Wreath down, and getting closer than she knows.


This book is completely fascinating. Wreath’s stubborn determination keeps her going, and sometimes I wish she would just people help her! It’s just her personality though. I thought the details of this book worked together nicely, and the author did a good job of tying up loose ends (like what Wreath did for showering and not being able to get a library card). There were a few things that I questioned how Wreath got around (like not having a social security card to apply for colleges).

There were also a few times where the chapter just ended, and I had no idea what happened to the situation the chapter was working up to. For example, Wreath goes to prom, and then the chapter ends. Minor details come up in the next chapter, but not much. It just seemed like sometimes the passage of time was a little uneven.

Other than that, I really, really enjoyed this book. It was very clean, there was some good suspense, and I don’t think there was really any swearing. 

  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Barbour Books (October 1, 2011)
  • Source: Publisher via Netgalley
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Review: The Secret of the Scarlet Stone by T.L. Clarke

Gabrielle loathes the day she awakes and realizes she’s being “shipped off” to an elite boarding school: Vineswell. On her first day there, she meets three other girls – Jessica, Zora and Rosalinda – who all have the same unique ruby pendant that she does.

This mysterious coincidence sets the girls on an adventure that changes everything they know.


I had seen this book and though it looked and sounded intriguing, so I was thrilled when I won it in a giveaway!

There are a few things I really liked about this book. I thought the adventure the girls embarked on was fantastic. The riddles and puzzles were great and very intriguing. I’m always a fan of unexplained gifts, so I thought that little element of the book was great. The author has a gift for creating the clues (which are included as an intro to the chapters).

There were a few things I didn’t love about this book. For starters, I thought the time between when the girls meet and when they embark on their journey was way too short. This is something best friends do together, not girls who just met each other that day. Also, there was a lot of tension between Rosalinda and Gabrielle, and I felt like it was a little too much. They didn’t even seem to get along, so having them save each others lives was a tad too far fetched for me as a reader. I thought more could have been done with the girls' "gifts." It was an underutilized element to me, and I wanted to see more of it. I also thought having the name of the group (Gabby Girls) be so similar to the name of the main character (Gabrielle/Gabby) was confusing. I thought the group was named after Gabrielle until I read the book.

Other than that, I thought this was a good, clean middle grade read for tween readers. The end was definitely a cliff-hanger and lead in to a sequel.

  • Paperback: 242 pages
  • Publisher: One Wish Publishing (January 3, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • Source: Giveaway
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Review: Eve by Anna Carey

From Goodreads: The year is 2032, sixteen years after a deadly virus—and the vaccine intended to protect against it—wiped out most of the earth’s population. The night before eighteen-year-old Eve’s graduation from her all-girls school she discovers what really happens to new graduates, and the horrifying fate that awaits her.

Fleeing the only home she’s ever known, Eve sets off on a long, treacherous journey, searching for a place she can survive. Along the way she encounters Caleb, a rough, rebellious boy living in the wild. Separated from men her whole life, Eve has been taught to fear them, but Caleb slowly wins her trust...and her heart. He promises to protect her, but when soldiers begin hunting them, Eve must choose between true love and her life.


As far as the-world-has-been-wiped-out-by-a-deadly-virus dystopians go, this was very well done. I was constantly intrigued and usually very stressed out by the action. I love it when a book forces me to take a breath and say, “This isn’t real…”

Eve is smart, so it completely frustrates her when she realizes she doesn’t understand something or what she thought she knew is wrong. I really like that about her.

Caleb was a perfect love interest. He is strong, funny, protective and smart, but he also has a stubborn streak.

There were a few things about Eve that I disliked or that confused me, but they were very minor.

In all, I really enjoyed Eve, but I am anxiously awaiting a sequel to tell me why on earth Eve did what she did at the end of the novel. There had better be a good reason, or I am going to be furious with her.

  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins (October 4, 2011)
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Review: Wisdom's Kiss by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

Trudy is a young orphan with a gift for seeing the future. Tips is also an orphan, who struggles with the oppressive hate of his older brothers and the dismal future of running the family mill. They’ve been best friends since infancy, and Trudy hopes Tips is her future. When a man comes to take Tips as his apprentice to become a soldier, Trudy hates to see him go but knows it’s for the best.

Six years later, when both are grown and waiting to be reunited, fate and politics intervene. Suddenly, Trudy finds herself as Lady-in-Waiting to Princess Wisdom, or Dizzy for short. Dizzy is traveling with her Grandmother, the Queen Mother Benevolence, to her wed a conniving duchess’s son.

When Trudy sees the princess, she senses pain. Dizzy will cause Trudy heartbreak and pain.

Too soon, Trudy and Tips meet again, but Tips has been keeping secrets. Trudy’s vision of Wisdom comes true. But can the two abide each other long enough to save a nation?


The title and cover of this book was so intriguing, I was very excited to read Wisdom’s Kiss. It started off gripping! And then it turned confusing…

I didn’t realize this book was told from no less than eight point of views! Memoirs, letters, diaries, encyclopedias, and a play. A play? Yeah. A play. It’s completely random, slightly genius, and a bit confusing. I would love to say, “Oh, the author should have just cut out…” but the rest of the story wouldn’t have woven as well. It’s just a bit tiresome to work that hard to figure out what’s going on.

The story itself is really good. I have to say though, I was furious with Tips. Furious. I won’t say more than that. But his act alone put a sour taste in my mouth that I never really could get rid of.

The author wrote Princess Ben, which I read well a over a year ago. I remembered a few key points from the book, and I remembered that I really liked it.

While reading Wisdom’s Kiss, I thought, “Wow, this author really likes the name Benevolence.” Which she shortens to Ben. And then, further in, I thought, “Wow. This author really likes to use doppelgangers in her books.” And then a light flashed so brightly in my dense little head that I was practically blinded! The Queen Mother Benevolence is Princess Ben! While the author asserts this is not a sequel to Princess Ben, and I’d agree, I still thought it was kind of a forehead slapper when I realized it. No, you don’t need to have read Princess Ben to understand Wisdom’s Kiss, but I wish it hadn’t been so long since I read it. I might have picked up on a few things I missed.

While I really did enjoy the story, I was completely thrown by having to work so hard to understand what was happening. Plus Tips just ruined it for me. 

  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children; 1 edition (September 13, 2011)
  • Source: Publisher via NetGalley
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