Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Review: Trickster's Girl by Hilari Bell

Nearly a century after 9/11, the world has become security obsessed. A chemical weapon was released in South America and destroyed the Amazon. Now it’s creeping north. The earth is dying, and Kelsa can feel it.

But earth is not the only thing slipping away. Kelsa watches cancer slowly and painfully kill her father, and she’s helpless to do anything to stop it. The night she secretly buries her father’s ashes, a boy appears and starts talking about magic.

Sure that he’s crazy, Kelsa eludes him for days, but soon his reason speaks to her heart more than her mind.

She follows Raven, the handsome shape shifting boy, across North America, trying to heal the damage humans have caused. But is it enough? And not all shape shifters are on their side. With the threat of security breaches and evil shape shifters coming from every side, Kelsa must use all her wits and all of Raven’s magic to survive long enough to heal the world.


You know, I haven’t read too many positive reviews about this book, so I was a little determined not to like it. Fortunately for me, Trickster’s Girl proved to be worth my time. I finished it in one day because I was so wrapped up in the story. There were a few times where I literally had to tell myself to calm down because the book was pretty intense.

Kelsa has an amazing determination to right what all of humankind has ruined. Raven has a frustrating resistance to accept humanity. He’s just using them to heal the world. But hey, at least he’s doing the right thing. Right?

I also liked the hint of romance between Kelsa and Raven, even though it never blossoms. I think they both recognize the attraction, but both are sensible enough to realize how ridiculous the idea of a relationship would be.

I’m happy to know that this is only the first in a series, but I’m sad to think this is the end of Kelsa’s part in the Raven journey.

With all the “healing the world” talk, you would think this is a pro-green, tree-hugger type book. But it’s not. I didn’t feel overwhelmed with political views or carbon footprint warnings. 

  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children; 1 edition (January 3, 2011)
  • Source: Publisher via Netgalley
  • Amazon
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Monday, August 22, 2011

Review: Wherever You Go by Heather Davis

From Goodreads: Seventeen-year-old Holly Mullen has felt lost and lonely ever since her boyfriend, Rob, died in a tragic accident. The fact that she has to spend most of her free time caring for her little sister and Alzheimer’s-stricken grandfather doesn’t help. But Holly has no idea that as she goes about her days, Rob’s ghost is watching over her. He isn’t happy when he sees his best friend, Jason, reach out to help Holly with her grandfather—but as a ghost, he can do nothing to stop it. Is his best friend really falling for his girlfriend?

As Holly wonders whether to open her heart to Jason, the past comes back to haunt her. Her grandfather claims to be communicating with the ghost of Rob. Could the messages he has for Holly be real? And if so, how can the loved ones Rob left behind help his tortured soul make it to the other side?

Told from the perspectives of Holly, Jason, and Rob,Wherever You Go is is a poignant story about making peace with the past, opening your heart to love, and finding the courage to move forward into the light.


Wherever You Go was a lot of things to me. It was a sweet love story, it was a creepy stalker story, it was a frustrating story of a girl who is, for all intents and purposes, still a kid and has to take on adult roles. I thought it was fantastic. 

I loved how every character's point of view is told in a different way. That makes it easy to slip from character to character, though sometimes the transition was a bit like a speed bump. 

There are so many morals to this story, but it doesn't feel crowded. I thought Holly's grandpa was a perfect cohesive element.

One of the things I loved the best about the book is that there's a secret. A dark secret that is only hinted at for a while. Then the clues start to build and you find out the secret and it's like the light flashes on. It was really cool. In fact, while I was reading it, I was telling my sister-in-law about the book, and I specifically said, "I think there's a secret, but I'm not sure what it is. I think it could be this..." and she and I got speculating. 

There was underage drinking, some swearing, some sexual references.

  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books; None edition (November 15, 2011)
  • Source: Publisher via Netgalley
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Friday, August 19, 2011

Bad for my Ego

I recently joined the 21st century and got a smart phone. I realized it was necessary when my long distance family constantly tried to text me pictures and videos, none of which I could accept on my blocky little phone that didn't even have games.

And speaking of games. Now that I have a smart phone, not only can I take pictures and videos, check my emails, get GPS directions, and a slew of other amazing things (that I won't mention because I sound like a total dork), but my phone now has awesome games! Of course, I have to go to this magical place called the app store and buy them. But hey, they're still games! And not just ordinary games. Oh no, my friend. The sun has set on the era of Worm and Parachute, and it has risen on the day of Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja.

My recent obsession? Word games. I can now challenge my husband, my sisters, my brothers, my nephews, my mother-in-law - whoever I want! - to a word duel. The game is set up very much like Scrabble, with letter tiles and a board with spots to gain extra points. The nice thing is, I play my turn and wait. The opponent plays their turn from their phone when they're ready. And then it's my turn again. So it's not a sit around and play this game until it's finished type of thing. A single game can last weeks.

I was so excited, I squealed in delight the first time the little icon popped up and said, "Your Move."

Words, ha. This should be easy! I thought gleefully as I rubbed my hands and practically salivated at the tiny screen. It was deliciously empty, just waiting for me to display my literary genius.

I am, after all, a writer. Words are my life.

Boy, it really hurts falling off your high horse.

Long story short, I have played dozens of games...and as much as it pains me to say this...I've never won a single round. I've played against people my own age. People older. People married to me who should cut me a little freaking slack. I've even played against my twelve-year-old nephew. Twice! I'm currently horn-locked in a gripping game with my ten-year-old nephew, and I seem to have the upper hand. But hey. I have almost 20 years more experience with words than he does. That's hardly fair. And who knows? Maybe in the end he'll surprise me and stab me through the gut with his victory.

Just like everybody else.


If there is one thing I know about myself, without a doubt, and will be the very first to admit it, it is this: I am a poor loser.

As much as I still love these word games, it's almost physically painful to play them because it's a CONSTANT reminder of something I'm trying not to admit.

I stink.

Now when the little icon pops up and says, "Your Move," I want to hurl my phone against the wall.

But then I'd be left to my old blocky phone with no internet. No picture and video text messages. No email and GPS. And worst of all...no games.

I suppose I'll just have to endure the public humiliation of my never-ending defeats until, one day, I rise victorious. Even if it is at the expense of a ten-year-old. Pin It

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Review: Halo by Alexandra Adornetto

From Goodreads: Three angels- Gabriel, the warrior; Ivy, the healer; and Bethany, the youngest and most human- are sent by Heaven to bring good to a world falling under the influence of darkness. They must work hard to conceal their luminous glow, superhuman powers, and, most dangerous of all, their wings, all the while avoiding all human attachments.

Then Bethany meets Xavier Woods, and neither of them is able to resist the attraction between them. Gabriel and Ivy do everything in their power to intervene, but the bond between Xavier and Bethany seems too strong.

The angel’s mission is urgent, and dark forces are threatening. Will love ruin Bethany or save her?


There seems to be a lot of love/hate toward this book, and now I see why. I neither loved nor hated this book, but I'm glad I read it.

The story is wildly interesting. I thought the premise was fantastic, the characters were intriguing, and the ending was satisfying.

What I didn’t love about this book was the intense love story between Xavier and Bethany. Not that it was too physical or anything. Actually, their lack of physical relations and their reasoning behind it was quite refreshing. What I didn’t like was the fact that they so strongly professed their love for each other, then after one little setback, Bethany is essentially ready to commit suicide. It wasn’t healthy or believable.

Also, there seemed to be a conflict with the character of Bethany. She’s an angel and this is her first trip to earth. She’s incredibly naive about some things, and it understandably takes her a while to get oriented to her physical body. However, she speaks in slang and makes references to things that no one but an experienced teenager could understand. I would expect this if she sat around watching TV and movies for research purposes, but their family deliberately doesn’t have TV or internet. So that was a bit too much for me, as a reader, to swallow.

And if you notice, the book description mentions hiding their luminous glow and super human strengths. Uh, I don't remember them having to hide their strength, and Bethany only mentions her glow once...maybe twice. After that, it doesn't seem to matter that she glows in the dark. She goes to beach parties a couple of times with no concern.

All in all, I enjoyed Halo, and I will probably read the sequel.

And seriously? How could you NOT adore that cover?!

  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Square Fish (August 30, 2011)
  • Source: Local library
  • Amazon
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Friday, August 12, 2011

Review: The Time-Traveling Fashionista by Bianca Turetsky

From Goodreads: When Louise Lambert receives a mysterious invitation to a traveling vintage fashion sale in the mail, her normal life in suburban Connecticut is magically transformed into a time traveling adventure.

After a brief encounter with two witchy salesladies and donning an evening gown that once belonged to a beautiful silent film star, Louise suddenly finds herself on board a luxurious cruise ship in 1912. As Alice Baxter, the silent film star, Louise enjoys her access to an extensive closet of gorgeous vintage gowns and begins to get a feel for the challenges and the glamor of life during this decadent era. Until she realizes that she's not just on any ship-- she's on the Titanic!

Will Louise be able to save herself and change the course of history, or are she and her film star alter ego, destined to go down with a sinking ship in the most infamous sea disaster of the 20th century?


I don’t know why, but I didn’t know this was a middle grade book when I started. So I was shocked to find out Louise was only twelve. That aside, the book was well written. The characters were unique and I was fascinated by Louise. I was very much her opposite when I was that age. For that reason, I had a hard time identifying with her character.

However, I’ve always been interested in the Titanic, so that was definitely a plus. I thought the illustrations were amazing. I’m glad they were included because I had a hard time visualizing the elaborate fashions described.

I did think the book was a little slow paced, but I was happy with the ending.

  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Poppy; 1 edition (April 5, 2011)
  • Source: Giveaway
  • Amazon
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Saturday, August 6, 2011

Review: Two Moon Princess by Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban

In this coming-of-age story set in a medieval kingdom, Andrea is a headstrong princess longing to be a knight: something both her parents have forbidden. In an angry rage, she chases after a legend and finds her way to modern-day California where she finally belongs. But her accidental return to her family's kingdom and a disastrous romance brings war, along with her discovery of some dark family secrets. Readers will love this mix of traditional fantasy elements with unique twists and will identify with Andrea and her difficult choices between duty and desire.


Wow. Was this a surprise or what? While I was reading this book, I enjoyed it. But by the time I finished the book, I was in love.

I always admire female characters who want to break through the norm. But Andrea is different. She is very strong willed, but she tries her hardest to do what her parents ask. When that doesn’t work, she decides to take things into her own hands.

She accidentally finds a door to modern-day California, and discovers a world where she finally belongs. When she, again accidentally, finds her way back to her medieval home, she finds herself causing a war. In an attempt to save her people, she makes matters worse. She has to use her knowledge of the modern world and put it to work to save her ancient home.

I absolutely loved the story. And just when I’d given up all hope of any romance in this book at all, I was blind-sided with one of the sweetest love stories you can find. 

I just learned there is going to be a sequel and I’m so excited!

The reading level is officially middle grade, but I found it to be a bit more mature than that. Not that there's mature content, I just think older readers will enjoy it as well.

  • Reading level: Ages 9-12
  • Paperback: 323 pages
  • Publisher: Tanglewood Press (April 1, 2007, re-released June 16th, 2010)
  • Source: Publisher, via NetGalley
  • Amazon
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Review: Tender Loving Care by Jennifer Greene

From Goodreads: When tragedy strikes, Zoe Anderson finds herself in the one role she never expected to have: mother. Sharing guardianship of four-year-old twins with sexy Rafe Kirkland is a responsibility she simply cannot accept. Rafe is just going to have to take care of the boys himself.

Rafe's not prepared to be a single parent either, but deserting the children is not an option—and he's never been as attracted to a woman as he is to their godmother. He proposes a solution: Zoe and the boys will move in with him, at least until other arrangements can be made. Or until he can convince her to make their temporary family permanent.

Zoe reluctantly agrees to the plan, but even after she loses her heart to the twins, she can't possibly take that emotional risk with Rafe…


I have to say, this was not my favorite book.

Rafe was about the most sensitive man ever when it came to dealing with Zoe’s emotions and inner turmoil, which was very sweet. There were aspects of the book that I identified with (infertility and adoption), but other than that, I thought the plot took a back seat to sex. 

It felt like most of the book was about the attraction between Zoe and Rafe, which I agree could be a major part of the story. But I honestly felt like the main focus was their physical relationship, and the rest was overshadowed. I wanted to know more about the twins. I wanted to see how Zoe and Rafe dealt with the boys’ loss and mourning. I just wanted more than the book had to offer.

  • Reading Level: Adult
  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Publisher: Carina Press (April 18, 2011)
  • Source: Publisher via NetGalley
  • Amazon
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Friday, August 5, 2011

Review: A Tale of Two Castles by Gail Carson Levine

Before Elodie leaves her family forever to journey to Two Castles, her mother warns her never to talk to ogre’s or dragons, and to always beware the whited sepulcher: someone who seems good but is really evil.

But Elodie has other plans in mind. She’s going to be a masioner, an actress. Along the way, however, fate throws a wrench in her plans. When she arrives in Two Castles, she’s too late to be an apprentice. And even if she’d arrived on time, she doesn’t have the money. The little she did have was stolen by an unlikely thief.

Penniless, homeless, and hungry, Elodie must accept the position of Dragon Apprentice to Meenore until she can earn enough to become a masioner’s apprentice. Her first mission is to work inside the castle and discover the villain bent on murdering the ogre, Count Jonty Um. Can she use her powers of deduction to save the Count before it's too late?


I enjoy Gail Carson Levine’s work, so I was excited to read A Tale of Two Castles.

There is so much to learn as a reader, which is natural when the author creates their own world. There were times when I was confused and it took me a while to catch on. Other times, the author naturally explains what I need to know.

I thought Elodie was a fantastic character. She used her wits and proved to be not only a gifted actress, but also intelligent and quick. Her mastress, Meenore (only a dragon knows ITs gender) is tough around the edges, but proves IT has a tender heart. And the feared and hated Ogre proves that he’s just misunderstood.

I really enjoyed this middle-grade adventure. While it wasn't my favorite of Levine's work, I think younger readers will really love it!

  • Reading level: Ages 9-12
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Collins (May 10, 2011)
  • Source: Publisher, via NetGalley
  • Amazon
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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Review: Never Eighteen by Megan Bostic

From Goodreads: Austin Parker is never going to see his eighteenth birthday. At the rate he’s going, he probably won’t even see the end of the year. The doctors say his chances of surviving are slim to none even with treatment, so he’s decided it’s time to let go.

But before he goes, Austin wants to mend the broken fences in his life. So with the help of his best friend, Kaylee, Austin visits every person in his life who touched him in a special way. He journeys to places he’s loved and those he’s never seen. And what starts as a way to say goodbye turns into a personal journey that brings love, acceptance, and meaning to Austin’s life.


Oh boy. You’d better have a tissue or two ready when reading Never Eighteen. Austin knows that his time is short, so he decides to dedicate a few days to reaching out to people and mending a few hearts before he dies. He recruits Kaylee, his best friend, and the girl he’s loved all his life, to help him. In the process, he heals his own heart and accepts his future.

I expected Never Eighteen to be a tear jerker, but I had no idea that I would fall in love with Austin and Kaylee. I didn’t expect to be so upset, feeling like I was the one who had lost a friend. It was amazing.

This is a quick read. It’s not too long, but it requires some emotional dedication. This is one of those books that will make you think and wish you were a better person. Very well written. 

There is some language and sexual content.

  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Paperback: 204 pages
  • Publisher: Graphia; None edition (January 17, 2012)
  • Source: Publisher via NetGalley
  • Amazon
  • Goodreads

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