Monday, July 30, 2012

Review: Of Poseidon, by Anna Banks

From Goodreads:
Galen is the prince of the Syrena, sent to land to find a girl he's heard can communicate with fish. Emma is on vacation at the beach. When she runs into Galen — literally, ouch! — both teens sense a connection. But it will take several encounters, including a deadly one with a shark, for Galen to be convinced of Emma's gifts. Now, if he can only convince Emma that she holds the key to his kingdom . . .

Told from both Emma and Galen's points of view, here is a fish-out-of-water story that sparkles with intrigue, humor, and waves of romance.


I love books that make me laugh, and this one held some fantastic scenes that had my family members sending questioning looks in my direction.  I have never read a mermaid book before, and this was a great introduction to this sub-genre of the paranormal.  It was a unique twist on a common theme. 

The characters were awesome.  Emma is feisty, funny, and independent.  Galen is a fantastic hero, but a little bossy and obstinate while still being adorable.  I enjoyed that even though their attraction was immediate, their relationship took time and testing to develop.  I loved Galen's sister Rayna, and her mate, Toraf.  They added a fun dynamic to the story and kept me laughing.

The plot moved along at a nice pace.  There weren't any slow parts that I had to struggle through.  I enjoyed seeing both Emma's and Galen's side of the story.  Emma's parts were written in first person, and Galen's in the third person.  The entire book was written in the present tense, which usually throws me off, but it worked well for this story.

The book contained a little bit of cursing, but it was kept on the mild side.  There was romance and attraction, but nothing got out of hand or made me squirm in discomfort.  There were a few places where I felt a little bit lost, like things hadn't been explained well enough, but they were all minor incidences and not crucial to the storyline.  All in all, I really enjoyed this book and I will be looking forward to any sequels that might come out.

Don't you just love the cover?  It's gorgeous! 

Reading level: Ages 13 and up
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends (May 22, 2012)
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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Review: Divergent, by Veronica Roth

From Goodreads:
In a future Chicago, 16-year-old Beatrice Prior must choose among five predetermined factions to define her identity for the rest of her life, a decision made more difficult when she discovers that she is an anomaly who does not fit into any one group, and that the society she lives in is not perfect after all.


This book has had rave reviews, and with good reason.  It was a fast paced dystopian novel set in the future Chicago.  I couldn't set this book down once I picked it up.  It was a captivating story of bravery, cruelty, goodness and brutality.  

It was an interesting look at human nature, our fears and weaknesses, but also our strength and passion.  I've never been much of a fan of dystopian novels, but this one really knocked my socks off.  I loved Beatrice (Tris) and the discoveries she makes about herself, her friends and family, and her society.  

I have only two complaints about this book.  One was that Roth named a character "Four".  It made a lot of sentences weird.  For example, "Four turns around the corner".  I couldn't decide if Tris made four turns around a corner or if Four himself turned around a corner once.  My second complaint was that this story almost made me want to get a tattoo (almost, but not really).  Tattoos, piercings, and drinking are all widely used, accepted, and celebrated in the faction that Tris joins.

This book is definitely intended for an older (YA) audience.  There is mild cursing, loads of violence, plenty of kissing, and people die gruesome deaths.  

Reading level: Ages 14 and up
Hardcover: 496 pages
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (May 3, 2011)
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Monday, July 23, 2012

Review: Scones and Sensibility, by Lindsay Eland

From Goodreads:
Seek tirelessly and you shall not find a contemporary heroine of middle-grade literature as refined and romantic as Miss Polly Madassa. Still swooning over the romantic conclusions of Pride & Prejudice and Anne of Green Gables, twelve-year-old Polly decides her purpose in life: helping along lonely hearts in search of love. Polly's only task this summer is to make deliveries for her parents' bakery, leaving ample time for this young cupid to find hearts to mend--beginning with the kite-store owner, Mr. Nightquist, who will pair perfectly with Miss Wiskerton (the unfairly labeled town curmudgeon). Polly's best friend Fran Fisk is in desperate need of a mother ever since hers ran off with a man she met on the Internet; Polly must find a match for Mr. Fisk. And while she's at it, it wouldn't hurt to find Clementine, Polly's teenaged sister, a beau worthy of her (so she can shed that brute, Clint). Polly's plans are in full swing, so she definitely cannot be bothered by the advances of classmate Brad Barker.

But maybe Polly should have turned her attention to Miss Austen's Emma next, because she quickly learns the pitfalls of playing matchmaker. How will Polly patch up her own relationships, while ensuring that destined love can take its course?


I found this book to be delightful.  It has some very mixed reviews on Goodreads and Amazon.  Most of the complaints were about the elaborate way of speaking that Polly has.  The book is written in first person, which means the entire book is very elaborate.  Personally, I loved Polly and her obsession with being refined and ladylike.  The way she reflects the personality and actions of the characters in her favorite books reminds me of the way I was when I was twelve.  The story pulled out my own fond memories of childhood and thinking that an old fashioned way of life (candlelight, gentlemen, and horse drawn carriages) is very romantic.

The story was perfectly clean.  This is precisely the type of book that I am going to hang on to (I bought it at the library bookstore) until my girls are old enough to read by themselves.  

If I were to be objective, I would have to say that the writing might be a little confusing or difficult to understand for some middle grade girls, especially if they had never read Pride and Prejudice and Anne of Green Gables.  But then again, it might not.  

I enjoyed every page of this book.  My only complaint was that it made me crave danishes.  I had to make a batch of cherry chip scones to eat while I read it. 

Reading level: Ages 8 and up
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: EgmontUSA (December 28, 2010
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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Review: Hush Hush, by Becca Fitzpatrick

From Goodreads:
For Nora Grey, romance was not part of the plan. At least, not until Patch came along. With his easy smile and probing eyes, Nora is drawn to him against her better judgment. But after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora’s not sure who to trust—she can’t decide whether she should fall into Patch’s arms or run and hide from him. And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds herself near a truth more unsettling than any feeling Patch evokes. For Nora stands amid an ancient battle between the immortal and those who have fallen—and choosing the wrong side will cost her life.


You never know if you are going to love or hate any book that you pick up.  This was a little of both for me. 

What I loved:
I loved the writing.  It was clear, concise, and interesting.  The story moved along at a good pace and I didn't meet with any slow parts that I had to struggle through. 

I loved the hallucinations/mind manipulating that happened to the protagonist, Nora.  That was something that I hadn't encountered in a book before, and it really added an edge to the mystery. 

I loved Nora's lack of coordination.  I liked how she was a little bit of a nerd, and a little self conscious.  She was scatterbrained enough to make her enjoyable. 

I absolutely loved the cover.  The black and white is beautiful and gives it a surreal feeling.  

What I didn't love:
I didn't love the love story.  That was the main point of the book, so it was unfortunate that I didn't connect with it.  Maybe I have read too many YA novels lately, but the whole premise for the romance seemed cliche and overdone.  It was a typical girl meets a dangerous and mysterious boy that she knows is wrong for her.  He scares her, and yet she just can't seem to stay away from him.  She eventually finds out that he is immortal, possesses superhuman powers, and wanted to kill her until he fell desperately in love with her. 

I didn't love Patch, the fallen angel boyfriend.  He was rude, evasive, and arrogant.  Nora was a little clueless.  She thought Patch was stalking her, and worried about her safety when she was with him, and yet she was obsessed with him.

And I didn't love all the talk of sex.  There was SO much of it.  There were a lot of innuendos spread throughout the book.   At one point, the two of them even check in to a motel together when the electricity goes down.  I am more a fan of squeaky clean romance.

Reading level: Ages 14 and up
Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers (October 13, 2009)
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Saturday, July 14, 2012

Review: The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan (Heroes of Olympus Book 1)

From Goodreads:

Jason has a problem. He doesn’t remember anything before waking up in a bus full of kids on a field trip. Apparently he has a girlfriend named Piper and a best friend named Leo. They’re all students at a boarding school for “bad kids.” What did Jason do to end up here? And where is here, exactly?

Piper has a secret. Her father has been missing for three days, ever since she had that terrifying nightmare. Piper doesn’t understand her dream, or why her boyfriend suddenly doesn’t recognize her. When a freak storm hits, unleashing strange creatures and whisking her, Jason, and Leo away to someplace called Camp Half-Blood, she has a feeling she’s going to find out.

Leo has a way with tools. When he sees his cabin at Camp Half-Blood, filled with power tools and machine parts, he feels right at home. But there’s weird stuff, too—like the curse everyone keeps talking about. Weirdest of all, his bunkmates insist that each of them—including Leo—is related to a god.

Join new and old friends from Camp Half-Blood in this thrilling first audiobook in The Heroes of Olympus series.


Never, ever read a book by Rick Riordan unless you have time to finish it. Otherwise, you'll be thinking about the book and wondering what's going to happen next when you should be doing something else.

I am a huge fan of the Percy Jackson books, so that made me both excited and leery to read this latest installment. Would The Lost Hero be just as good? I was not disappointed. Once again, Riordan shows what a genius he is. There is so much history and information, but I never feel like I'm reading a textbook.

The Lost Hero is written from the point of view of Jason, Pyper and Leo. This can be challenging, but I had no problem effortlessly moving from one character to another. Their personalities are so different without being cliche. 

There are equal parts humor, wit, adventure and a tiny bit of romance splashed in. The story line is confusing at times, simply because the main character doesn't remember who he is. We have to put the pieces together the same time that he does. It adds to the experience because we have a small sense of his frustration. There were also times when I felt like this was one giant introduction, but in a way it is.

We see  some of our old favorites from the Percy Jackson books. While this book is not necessarily a sequel, it will make a lot more sense and be more enjoyable if the reader has read the Percy Jackson series.

I'm already nose deep in the next installment and loving it.

  • Reading level: Ages 10 and up
  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion Book CH; Reprint edition (April 3, 2012)
  • Goodreads
  • Amazon
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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Review: Entwined, by Heather Dixon

From Goodreads:
Azalea and her younger sisters dance in the mysterious silver forest every night, escaping from the sadness of the palace and their father’s grief. What they don’t understand—although as time passes they begin to get an inkling of the danger they are in—is that the mysterious and dashing Keeper is tightening his snare with deadly purpose. Luckily, Azalea is brave and steadfast. Luckily, a handsome young army captain also has his eye on Azalea. . . . Lush, romantic, and compelling, this debut novel by Heather Dixon will thrill fans of Shannon Hale, Robin McKinley, and Edith Pattou.


Entwined is absolutely breathtaking - beautifully written and deliciously told, it has everything a good story should.  Romance, dancing, magic, a brave heroine, and a devilish villain.  Dixon wove an intricate fairytale of mystery and intrigue coupled with sisterly camaraderie and ancient secrets.
I was hooked on the very first page and quickly drawn into the story.  Azalea is the oldest daughter of her father, the King.  As such, whomever she marries will become the next King.  It made for an interesting twist to the love story.

After her mother passes away, the palace is draped in mourning.  Confined to the indoors and black clothing, Azalea and her eleven sisters seek refuge in dancing late at night in a magic pavilion beneath their bedroom.  The only catch is Keeper, the dashing gentleman that grants their access to the pavilion each night. 

Keeper was a fantastic villain.  He was handsome, mysterious, and completely terrifying.  He was so utterly creepy.  It doesn't take long for his charm facade to fall away and for his true horrific nature to appear.  But by the time it does, Azalea and her sisters are already entangled in his web.

There were underlying currents to the story that I enjoyed.  Throughout the book, Azalea and her sisters feel that their father, the King, is distant and cold.  In turn, they distance themselves from him.  As the plot progresses, the girls learn to forgive their father for his shortcomings and to love him openly.  The King also learns how to handle his grief and repair the damage that was done after the Queen died. 

A word about the love story:  I was absolutely in love with Azalea's heartthrob from his first appearance.   I hate reading books where the girl is desperate and always falls for the guy that is the meanest to her.  I was extremely pleased in the man that Dixon created for Azalea.  He was perfect for the story, and perfect for the princess.

This book was original, beautiful, and funny.  It was a fantastic escape from reality into a beautiful world of dancing princesses, handsome gentlemen, and a magic palace.  

Reading level: Ages 13 and up
Paperback: 480 pages
Publisher: Greenwillow Books; Reprint edition (March 27, 2012)

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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Review: Belles by Jen Calonita

From Goodreads:
Fifteen-year-old Isabelle Scott loves her life by the boardwalk on the supposed wrong side of the tracks in North Carolina. But when tragedy strikes, a social worker sends her to live with a long-lost uncle and his preppy privileged family. Isabelle is taken away from everything she’s ever known, and, unfortunately, inserting her into the glamorous lifestyle of Emerald Cove doesn’t go so well. Her cousin Mirabelle Monroe isn’t thrilled to share her life with an outsider, and, in addition to dealing with all the rumors and backstabbing that lurk beneath their classmates’ Southern charm, a secret is unfolding that will change both girls’ lives forever.


Oooo la la!  I loved this book!  I'm not usually into books that explore the world of high fashion and privileged living, but this one was fabulous.  The story focuses in on two girls from very opposite worlds.  Izzie grew up impoverished and taking care of her grandmother.  Mira comes from the elite 1% that we all hear about but never meet.  Izzie is suddenly plucked from her beloved beach town and tossed to the stuck up sharks Mira swims with.  Both girls have to learn to navigate the uncharted waters they find themselves swimming in.

It was full of deceit, secrets, and self-discovery.  While I'm not entirely certain that teenage squabbles could have drastic effects on politics and land development, I felt like Jen Calonita captured the experience of growing up a teen girl in the modern world.  She portrayed the uncertainty, peer pressure and social food chain with accuracy.  The methods the girls used to humiliate and back-stab each other are both entertaining and horrifying at the same time.  Some parts may be a little over the top compared to the real world, but I've never spent much time with the ultra-privileged, so I wouldn't really know.

Other than a couple of very minor curse words, the book was completely clean.  The romance was minimal and took a backseat to the main focus of the relationship between the two girls.  Each girl follows their own fire ringed path to self-discovery and come out as a better person in the end.

If you are looking for a refreshing and entertaining read, you will enjoy this book.  This is the first book in a series of stories about the two "belles".  I will definitely be reading the next ones. 

Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Poppy; 1 edition (April 10, 2012)
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Thursday, July 5, 2012

Review: Playing the Field by Jannette Rallison

From Goodreads:

Thirteen-year old McKay is a talented baseball player, but as equally untalented when it comes to algebra. If he doesn't bring his grade up, his parents threaten to make him quit the team. His best friend Tony thinks the natural solution is for McKay to befriend Serena, a pretty girl in class, who also happens to get straight A's in algebra. Not only will that get McKay the tutor he desperately needs, but it will give Tony the chance to flirt with Serena's two best friends. Unfortunately, if McKay follows Tony's advice on how to "play the game," he might find himself in an even worse spot than when he was merely failing algebra. With a keen sense of wit, and more self-confidence than he gives himself credit for, McKay will keep readers alternately laughing and groaning as he is dragged kicking and screaming into the subtle (and often not so subtle) world of teen dating.


Although I love Janette Rallison, I was a little hesitant to read this book because it's ratings weren't as high as some of her other work.  However, I enjoyed it quite a bit. It is aimed at a younger audience and their eagerness/hesitance/nervousness to start dating.  

I loved the way Rallison handled the issue.  I felt like she accurately captured the essence of tween dating and the catastrophe it really is.  The bickering, the note passing, and the dirty looks are all just the tip of the iceberg.  

This was not my favorite book by any means, but it was entertaining, clean, and age appropriate.  It was a book that kids who are just starting to date can relate to and enjoy.  Bonus: it's only $0.99 for the e-book.

Reading level: Ages 9 and up
Paperback: 172 pages
Publisher: Walker Books for Young Readers (September 1, 2004)

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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Review: Maid to Match by Deeanne Gist

From Goodreads:
From the day she arrives at the Biltmore, Tillie Reese is dazzled—by the riches of the Vanderbilts and by Mack Danvers, a mountain man turned footman. When Tillie is enlisted to help tame Mack's rugged behavior by tutoring him in the ways of refined society, the resulting sparks threaten Tillie's efforts to be chosen as Edith Vanderbilt's lady's maid.

But the stakes rise even higher when Mack and Tillie become entangled in a cover-up at the town orphanage. They could both lose their jobs...and their hearts.


Every now and then I like to read a pathetic romance novel.  I usually stick to books categorized under "Christian Romance" because they tend to be sexless, clean romances.  This book was a fun break from my usual selection of entertainment.  

As far as plots go, it wasn't anything spectacular.  Most of these books are painfully obvious, but it was set in a fun time period and gave a glimpse into the lives of servants that lived a hundred years ago.  I didn't know that servants could never marry.  Choosing to be a house servant meant you were to be a spinster (or bachelor) for the duration of your employment.  

Other than the plot of the book being rather predictable, it was an enjoyable read with plenty of interaction between the heroine, Tillie and her love interest, Mack.  It was an easy and fairly short book, so I would definitely recommend it to anyone that wants to lose themselves in a clean romance for an afternoon.

Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Bethany House (June 1, 2010)
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