Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Hollow Kingdom by Clare B Dunkle

For thousands of years, young women have been vanishing from Hallow Hill, never to be seen again. Now Kate and Emily have moved there with no idea of the land's dreadful heritage - until Marak decides to tell them himself. Marak is a powerful magician who claims to be the goblin king, and he has very specific plans for the two new girls who have trespassed into his kingdom . . .

I loved this book, it was extremly well written and the story was very original. It reminded me a bit of Beauty and the Beast, but an entirely different story. It starts out with a very eerie feeling, but as you read you become engrossed in the story and the characters. Slowly, you begin to fall for Marak, even though he is a goblin and is one of many who kidnap young human girls to make them their brides. I look forward to reading the other two books in the trilogy and would definately recommend this book to everyone.

Book One: The Hollow Kingdom
Book Two: Close Kin
Book Three: In the Coils of the Snake

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Cybele's Secret by Juliet Marillier

Cybele's Secret is the companion book to Wildwood Dancing. I don't feel like I can properly explain the plot of Cybele's Secret without giving away plot twists in Wildwood Dancing so I'll be brief. This book is told through Paula's perspective. (sister to Jena who narrates Wildwood) Paula travels to Turkey to acquire a religious artifact Cybele's Gift. Paula is a scholar and must solve puzzles and complete a quest to obtain the Gift. She also must choose between two very different men. Ultimately both test her in ways she never expected. Well, I realize that really doesn't give you a good idea of the plot....sorry.

I really enjoyed Cybele's Secret in spite of the fact that it lost much of the magic and whimsical elements from Wildwood. The two books are really quite different and it isn't until the end that it captured the feeling of Wildwood. The love story in Cybele's Secret was much more front and center than in Wildwood and I really enjoyed that part. Overall a really well written book. My only complaint, which is a personal problem, is that I don't enjoy reading about female oppression that was very central to Turkey during this time period. For some reason it just really rubs me the wrong way. It does however add an interesting obstacle that would be hard to achieve another way.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Host by Stephenie Meyer (part II)

Jessica has already written a review about this book, also providing a description of the book so I will skip that part and just add my review. Like many before me, I had a hard time getting into this book. I read over and over how it gets better after page 150. I really had to push myself to get to that point, and in those 150 pages not much happens. In summary, Wanderer (alien) has taken over Melanie’s (human) body. Melanie doesn’t give up, and slowly Wanderer begins to have compassion for the human race, falls for the memory of Melanie’s love interest, Jared, and decides to help Melanie return to her family. I’m still not sure why it took that many pages to figure all that out, but it did.

As the book moves on I slowly began to get into it a little more. I would find myself thinking “just one more chapter”, even though it was late at night and I was pretty tired. That is always a sign of a good book. Although, I don’t love the idea of body-snatchers and it’s always in the back of your mind that Melanie is trapped, I really started to like Wanda. I liked how Meyers was able to separate the relationship between Wanda and Ian, and Melanie and Jared. I enjoyed the story, but thought the book could have used a good edit, it just seemed a little too long or too descriptive in parts. I was happy with the ending. I am one that truly believes in the “happily ever after” and love when books have happy endings. I know some would think it’s not realistic, but I think happy endings are possible. It seems like Stephenie Meyers left it open for a sequel, it would be interesting to see what happens, and maybe in the future there will be a way for Souls and Humans to live together. I ended up liking the book a lot more than I thought I would.

Sorry Jess for writing another review, I just couldn’t help myself with this book. I guess we’re just drawn to the same books and we’ll constantly be overlapping each other. =)

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Reluctant Widow by Georgette Heyer

I must admit first off that I judged this book by it's cover. I was walking by a display at my local library and it caught my eye. I picked it up and on the back it said, "Reading Georgette Heyer is the next best thing to reading Jane Austen." I thought, "Well, I'll be the judge of that!" It turns out that Heyer has written more that 50 novels, the first being published in 1921, and is a well known historical novelist who writes mostly in the regency period. I can see why the comparison has been drawn to Jane Austen. The Reluctant Widow was every bit as witty as anything I have read from Austen but is refreshingly more fast paced. By that I just mean that the plot moved along nicely unlike Austen who sometimes, in my opinion, can get bogged down in description and set-up. Don't get me wrong though...Jane Austen is one of my all time favorite authors and I think that Heyer failed to create such layered characters as Austen.


The Reluctant Widow opens as Elinor Rochdale boards the wrong coach and ends up not at her prospective employer's home but at the estate of Eustance Chevoit, a dissipated and ruined young man on the verge of death. His cousin, Lord Ned Carolyn, persuades Elinor to marry Eustance as a simple business arrangement. By morning, Elinor is a a rich widow, but finds herself in the middle of housebreakers, uninvited guests and murder. I really enjoyed The Reluctant Widow and plan on reading more of Heyer. The characters just plain made me smile and the novel felt like a Jane Austen except without the brain cramp of trying to grasp the meaning of things. I give The Reluctant Widow 4 out of 5 Stars.

The Dragon Heir by Cinda Williams Chima

" The Covenant meant to keep the wizard wars at bay has now been stolen, and the sanctuary of Trinity must prepare for attack. Seph monitors the Weirwall, while Jack and Ellen trian their army of ghosts to face an onslaught of wizards. Even Anaweir Will and Fitch are setting traps around the town's perimeter. To Jason Haley, it feels as though everyone but him has a role to play. Then he finds a powerful talisman--a huge opal called the Dragonheart--buried in a cave. When its power washes over him, he knows he's destined for a greter purpose than anyone ever imagined. Madison Moss hears the deductive call of the Dragonheart also, but she has other things on her mind. Maddie's been leaking dark magic ever since absorbing the blow that was meant to kill her boyfriend, Seph. If anyone finds our, she'll be banished from the sanctuary--and Seph--forever. Meanwhile, Trinity's enemies mean to win the war with the helf of the Dragonheart, and they know that Madison Moss is the only one who can get it for them. Moral compasses spin out of control as a final battle storms through a town that was meant to be a refuge. With so much to lose, what will Jason and Maddie be willing to fight for, and what will the sacrifce?"

This is the last book in the Heir Trilogy. In Warrior Heir it is explained that there are five different magical groups. The Wizards, Enchanters, Sorcerers, Seers, and Warriors. I thought there would be a book about each group, having a main character like Jake in Warrior Heir, or Joseph in the Wizard Heir. So, I was disappointed when I heard that Dragon Heir would be the last in the series, I enjoyed the stories and was looking forward to reading more.

This is also a series that I would love to own and re-read, and wished I had the first two so I could have freshened up before reading Dragon Heir. Dragon Heir was great, the characters and story are fun and easy to follow. You really become attached to the different characters, and unlike some books it was fun reading from all the different perspectives. I had a hard time putting it down, and found the time just flew by as I read. The writing style was easy to get into and witty. I would recommend this series to anyone who enjoys fantasy, action, magic and a touch of romance.

I was a little sad with some of the things that happened; I won’t say what so I don’t ruin the story. I also would have liked if Leander and Linda were in the story more, they played big roles in the first two books and I missed them in this last installment.

Book One: The Warrior Heir
Book Two: The Wizard Heir
Book Three: The Dragon Heir

Friday, December 5, 2008

Legend of the Jewel by Nancy Campbell Allen

"Former Pinkerton spy Isabelle Webb needs a vacation. The broken leg she suffered while trying to warn President Lincoln of his impending assassination has mended a little, but her grief over his death has not. She and her young charge, Sally Rhodes, have an open itinerary when they board a steamer ship to Bombay. But upon meeting Utah blacksmith James Ashby, the two women opt to join the search for his younger brother Phillip, who's traveling abroad with the ill-reputed Thaddeus Sparks in search of a mystical treasure. Upon arrival in India, other passengers are interested in taking up the search. But the seeming good will of some soon turns dark on the streets of Bombay. As murder and kidnapping tears the group apart, James and Isabelle race to uncover the hidden motives and harrowing connections that threaten not only Phillip's life, but also their own."

It took me about twenty pages into the story to realize that this was a spin-off book from N.C. Allen's popular "Faith of our Fathers" series. It has been a few years since I read that series, which I thoroughly enjoyed, and while reading this book it made me want to revisit that series and read up on Isabelle. I've read and enjoyed all of N.C. Allen's books, she always has interesting story ideas. "Legend of the Jewel" was a fun, quick read. It takes place in India right after the Civil War in America ended. I learned a lot about India and its history while reading the book, and thought it was a great setting for a mystery. Isabelle and James and their new relationship is fun to read about. It ends a bit too abruptly, without all the loose ends being tied up. I suppose this was done to better lead into the second book. I liked the story, although it wasn't my favorite of her books.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier

Wildwood Dancing has renewed my faith that great books are still written. I just need to find more of them. This book has everything. Love, mystery, action, and fantasy. The book is set in Transylvania and centers around a household of 5 sisters who discover a portal to the Other Kingdom which they visit each full moon. The story is told through Jenica's perspective and I fell in love with her character. The book is whimsical and magical and feels like your favorite fairy tale complete with a talking frog, vampires, dwarfs, and gargoyles. Thankfully the author doesn't get bogged down in description and the story really moves along. Jenica's life outside of the Other Kingdom is just as interesting as her time spent there and the two stories connect is a really fun way. I can't think of one bad thing to say about the book and I don't want to tell you too much about it and risk giving something away. For me it is a must read and it moves to the top of my best books list.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Reader's Block

Is it just me, or do you ever go through stages where you just don't want to read. Or you just can't seem to get into any books? Well, that is what I have been going through lately. For some reason I have a low motivation to really read right now. I am always wanting to find an amazing book, like Twilight or Goose Girl. Where you can just get lost in the story and fall in love with the characters. I have slowly been reading "A Curse as Dark as Gold", and I like it so far but just can't seem to really get into it. So, should I just force myself to sit down and read, or should I wait until the reading bug bites?

I'm hoping this slump will get over soon, then I can get back to reading a book a day and writing fun posts. So bear with me while I go through my little moment.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Host by Stephaine Meyer

I think I showed a great deal of courage reading this book after my utter disappointment in Breaking Dawn. The general gist of the plot is that Earth has been invaded by aliens that live in our bodies like parasites. Most of human kind doesn't know this invasion has happened until it is too late. Some "hosts" are resistant like, Melanie Stryder, and she refuses to fade away when her body is turned over to an alien named Wanderer. Melanie floods Wanderers mind with images of the man she loves and her brother. Wanderer finds she loves them too and the two set off together to reclaim them.

Wanderer and Melanie share a mind so the book consists of lots of internal dialogue which can be hard to tell who is talking. Meyer seems to love description just for the sake of description and I was bogged down it that A LOT so I did some skimming. Especially at the end. The book honestly could have been about 100 pages shorter and would have lost nothing. I enjoyed that it was an adult book but with Meyer you can expect no bad language or sexual content which is wonderful! I don't normally like science fiction books but the concept intrigued me and it was a good read. I did some crying, which surprised me greatly, but there were touching parts of the story that I didn't expect. I think Meyer is a masterful author to be able to create two distinct characters that share a body and mind. The book didn't suck me in so if you decide to read it then stick with it for about 150 pages if you aren't loving it. I give it 3 and half stars. All in all a good book.

*reviewed by Jessica

Monday, October 20, 2008

Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier

Young Sorcha is the seventh child and only daughter of Irish Lord Colum of Sevenwaters, a domain well protected from invading Saxons and Britons by dense forest where, legend says, fey Deirdre, the Lady of the Forest, walks the woodland paths at night. Colum is first and foremost a warrior, bent on maintaining his lands against all outsiders. Not all of his sons are so bound to the old ways, and that family friction leads to outright disobedience when Sorcha and her brother Finbar help a Briton captive escape from Colum's dungeon. Soon after, Colum brings home a new wife who tries to manipulate everyone around her and casts a spell over the six brothers. By her spell Sorcha's brothers are cursed to become swans. Only Sorcha, hiding deep in the forest, can break the spell by painfully weaving shirts of starwort nettle--but then Sorcha is captured by Britons and taken away across the sea. Determined to break the curse despite her captivity, Sorcha continues to work, little expecting that ultimately she will have to chose between saving her brothers and protecting the Briton lord who has defended her throughout her trials. (Amazon.com)

I love fairytales, they are my weakness. I love reading them and I love modern-day retellings. Daughter of the Forest is a retelling of an old fairy tale “The Wild Swans” by Hans Christen Anderson, and “The Six Swans” by the Brothers Grimm.

I really liked the main character Sorcha and the strength of character that she had. She had a wonderful relationship with her brothers, which often made me think of my three older brothers. And took on the most impossible task in order to save their lives, at great sacrifice to herself. The love story between her and Hugh was sweet. I liked how he took it upon himself to be her protector, how they had a connection and even though she couldn’t speak they were able to communicate and build a friendship, where she would eventually be able to trust and love him. I really wanted to loved this story, it’s a classic fairytale and if a few things had been done differently it really would have been great.

***Spoiler alert***
Here are the things I didn’t like about the book. About 150 pages into the book Sorcha is raped. Had I known there was a rape in the story I wouldn’t have bothered reading it. Although I skipped over that part, I found it very upsetting and couldn’t believe the author added that to the story. It was completely unnecessary, and left a sense of darkness throughout the rest of the book. It really ruined the whole story for me and I think the author should have stuck closer to the original stories and not taken such liberties in adding such a needless tragedy. I also thought the book really needed a good edit. It really dragged on and on. There was way too much detail and side stories and the chapters were too long. I would have enjoyed it more if the story had been more concise.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Help! I Need Book Club Suggestions

so many books so little time Pictures, Images and Photos

My book club will be meeting next week (we'll be discussing Secret Life of Bees and Pride & Prejudice). While there we will also be discussing which books we want to read in 2009. I would love to have some suggestions on which books you've read and loved or ones that you want to read. Please leave a comment with any book ideas that you have. Thanks!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

I Heart Your Blog Award

Color me surprised! I was looking at reviews on www.angieville.blogspot.com/ and came across a post on Monday, October 6th in which Angieville had nominated Bookworm Nation for an award. Below are the rules for the award.


1) Add the logo of the award to your blog
2) Add a link to the person who awarded it to you
3) Nominate at least 7 other blogs
4) Add links to those blogs on your blog
5) Leave a message for your nominees on their blogs!

Nominees so far:
*The Friendly Book Nook at www.thefriendlybooknook.com/
*The Printed Page at www.printedpage.blogspot.com/


Thanks Angieville for the nomination! I can't remember how I stumbled upon your blog, but I love it. I like how its set up, and your reviews are always fun to read. My list on GoodReads is growing too long from all the book ideas I've gotten from you!!

Friday, October 3, 2008

The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan

Percy Jackson's fourth summer at Camp Half-Blood is much like his previous three—high-octane clashes with dark forces, laced with hip humor and drama. Opening with a line for the ages—The last thing I wanted to do on my summer break was blow up another school—this penultimate series installment finds Percy, Annabeth and the satyr Grover furiously working to prevent former camp counselor Luke from resurrecting the Titan lord Kronos, whose goal is to overthrow the gods. When the heroes learn that Luke can breach Camp Half-Blood's security through an exit from Daedalus's Labyrinth, they enter the maze in search of the inventor and a way to stop the invasion. Along the way they encounter a lifetime supply of nightmare-inducing, richly imagined monsters. Grover's own quest to find the lost god Pan, meanwhile, provides a subtle environmental message. Percy, nearly 15, has girl trouble, having become something of a chick magnet. Full of humor and heart-pounding action, this latest book promises to be their most thrilling adventure yet. (GoodReads description)


I had forgotten just how much I love this series and am so happy to learn that this is not the last book. The writing is well done, as always. The quest Annabeth leads is packed full of adventure and wonderful monsters. Riordan is able to mix the old Greek mythology with modern day characters and places. I’ve always loved reading about Greek mythology and these stories really bring them to life. I only wish I had this series while I was in middle school. This is a great series for young boys and girls, but it is also very fun for adults. I would definitely pick up The Lightning Thief today and start the adventure.

Book One: The Lightning Thief
Book Two: The Sea Monsters
Book Three: The Titan's Curse
Book Four: The Battle of the Labyrinth

Monday, September 29, 2008

Mrs. Mike by Benedict Freedman

This story is narrated by Kathy O’Fallon. It starts out with her living with her family in Boston when she is diagnosed with pleurisy (an inflammation of the lungs), her doctor recommends that she moves to Canada with her Uncle, claiming that the cold, dry climate will do her well. So, at 16 she makes the long journey to live with her Uncle. Soon after arriving she meets and marries Mike Flannigan, who whisks her away into a remote settlement far from everyone she knows having to start a whole new life for herself and become a lot stronger person than she ever realized.

After I started reading this story I realized it had been based loosely on a true story, which to me made it more interesting and also probably made me enjoy it more than I would have. Going into it I thought it was going to be more of a Jane Austen story that focused on Kathy and Mike, but really it was Kathy’s story about adjusting to harsh environments, suffering losses, becoming a strong person and of course her relationship with Mike. The book covers a long time-span, which is nice in a way but can also be a bit overwhelming and I almost felt like each chapter was a short story packed with a lot of drama and then the next chapter jumping into another drama. Having lived in North Dakota and experiencing -50 below weather it gave me a better appreciation for the characters, and was better able to picture what they went through, in a small way.


It is an interesting story and definitely worth reading.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Princess Ben by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

Princess Ben’s parents are killed, leaving her in the care of her conniving aunt who is also Queen. Soon after being entrusted in Queen Sophia’s care Princess Ben is locked away, starved and miserable. She spends her days taking boring classes her aunt insists that she takes, and spends her nights locked in her cell. One evening she stumbles upon a hidden passageway that leads to an enchanted room. Now begins her own self-taught magical lessons. Ben’s private adventure is soon stopped when she learns she is to wed Prince Florian of Drachensbett, the very kingdom accused of murdering her parents! In an attempt to escape she ends up a prisoner for the very people she is hiding from. She now has to find a way back home to prepare the kingdom for war and finally accept her responsibilities.

I thought this book was rather charming and unique. I enjoyed Ben’s character, and reading about her many adventures. I thought she was easy to relate to because she wasn’t perfect, and things didn’t always turn out the way she wanted. It was fun to follow her progress throughout the book, as she turns from a somewhat spoiled girl to a Queen. I liked the concept of Prince Florian, but thought his character was underdeveloped. His character didn’t really appear until about 200 pages and even then they barely spent any time together. The time they were together was fun to read, because of the tension and misunderstandings. Also, I would have preferred if instead of Ben using her new found freedoms to steal from the kitchens, I would have enjoyed reading about her learning more spells, or finding other secrets. Too much focus was put on her love of food. One aspect I really enjoyed was the references to other fairytales. Ben trades some “magic beans” for a cow, loses her shoe after a ball (by throwing it at the prince), is stuck in a tall tower, has an “evil” step-aunt, and is under a spell of sleep, just to name a few. It almost makes me want to re-read to see if there were any others that I might have missed.

If you enjoy fairytales than you would enjoy this book, it is a fun read with plenty of twists to keep you entertained.
Reviewed by: Kathy

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Leven Thumps and the Gateway to Foo by Obert Skye

Fourteen-year-old Leven Thumps lives a wretched life in Burnt Culvert, Oklahoma. But his life is about to change and his destiny be fulfilled as he learns about a secret gateway that bridges two worlds—the real world and Foo, a place created at the beginning of time in the folds of the mind that makes it possible for mankind to dream and hope, aspire and imagine. But Foo is in chaos, and three transplants from that dream-world have been sent to retrieve Leven, who alone has the power to save Foo. Enter Clover, a wise-cracking, fuzzy, foot-high sidekick; Winter, a girl with spectacular gift of her own; and Geth, the exiled but rightful ruler of Foo. Their mission: to convince Leven Thumps that he has the power to save Foo and help him reach the hidden gateway and destroy it before it is too late.

Well, I don’t think I will ever be able to look at a toothpick in the same way again! You’ll understand what I mean when you read this book. I really enjoyed this story, it had an original story idea and the writing was well done and easy to follow. I loved the characters, especially little Clover. I wish I had a Clover! He sounds so cute and has a fun personality. Leven was a good mix of brave and humble. I enjoyed his relationship with the other characters and how he relied on them to help him and wouldn’t have been able to succeed without each other. The story ends in a good place, but there is still plenty of adventure to be had. I already have the next book on hold at the library and I’m excited to read it. I would recommend this book to anyone! It’s not like Harry Potter, but if you like Harry Potter then you would probably like this story.
Reviewed by: Kathy
Description from book cover

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn

Ella Minnow Pea is a girl living happily on the fictional island of Nollop off the coast of South Carolina. Nollop was named after Nevin Nollop, author of the immortal pangram,* “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” Now Ella finds herself acting to save her friends, family, and fellow citizens from the encroaching totalitarianism of the island’s Council, which has banned the use of certain letters of the alphabet as they fall from a memorial statue of Nevin Nollop. As the letters progressively drop from the statue they also disappear from the novel. The result is both a hilarious and moving story of one girl’s fight for freedom of expression, as well as a linguistic tour de force sure to delight word lovers everywhere.

*pangram: a sentence or phrase that includes all the letters of the alphabet

This was an amazing book! It is very interesting and you want to keep reading to find out what will happen next, and how they will be able to get by as more and more letters fall from the statue. It was crazy to see how the people in charge are so insane, and even more crazy was that the people on the island actually followed them. I guess it goes to show you that you really need to pay attention to who you are electing, and hope that they are some people with sense. The book is based on letters and is not written in the traditional novel format. I fell in love with the characters, and wish that Nollop was a real place so I could go visit! This is a book I would recommend to everyone, definitely five stars!
Reviewed by: Kathy
Description from GoodReads

Palmyra by Susan Evans McCloud

I received this book as a gift probably 5 years ago and it has been sitting in a box ever since where I discovered it a couple of weeks ago. The book is set in Palmyra, New York after Joseph Smith has revealed his first vision. The plot revolves around the lives of 5 women who have been friends their entire lives and is told from Esther's perspective. You would think that the story revolves around the events that happened in Palmyra around this time but it doesn't. Rather it follows the lives of these 5 women as they grow and marry and start families and explores how friendship changes as we age. The book is neither exciting nor doctrinal. While the book is not in any way a page turner it was really wholesome and I came to feel about the characters and their lives like I would a dear friend. My complaint with many LDS novels is that they can become really heavy on the praying, scriptures, and general Holy Ghost feelings to the point that it becomes cheesy. Thankfully, I did not find that to be the case with Palmyra. I felt uplifted but not because McCloud shoved it down my throat. My only complaint was that it was very centered on having babies and losing babies...which I guess for this time period would have been very common given their age. By the time the third character had either lost a child or miscarried I was a little spent with the concept and this was the only thing keeping me from giving it more that 4 stars. Other than that I really came to love Esther and the friendship she shared with the other women.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Magyk by Angie Sage

*The seventh son of the seventh son, aptly named Septimus Heap, is stolen the night he is born by a midwife who pronounces him dead. That same night, the baby’s father, Silas Heap, comes across a bundle in the snow containing a newborn girl with violet eyes. The Heaps take this helpless newborn into their home, name her Jenna, and raise her as their own. But who is this mysterious baby girl, and what really happened to their beloved son Septimus?

Whenever I read fantasy books, especially ones about young wizards I really try not to compare them to Harry Potter. In this case I just couldn’t help myself, throughout the book I just kind of wished I was reading HP instead. I think this had a lot of good potential, it had a fun story idea, interesting characters and the writing was well done. The problem I had with it was that there were so many different narrators. It switched around from character to character which made it hard to keep track of who was talking and what was going on, and it also made it hard to really get attached to any of the characters. There was also a lot of different stories going on, and thought it could have been edited down a bit. Maybe that’s a personal taste and someone else might really enjoy the story, I however, became pretty bored with it and just wanted to hurry and finish it.
Reviewed by: Kathy
*Description from book cover

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Mage's Daughter by Lynn Kurland

*Neroche is under assault by a mysterious magic that has stripped it’s king of his powers and unleashed nightmarish creatures as weapons in a war of evil. Morgan of Melksham is fighting against that menace as well as for her life. Struggling to regain her strength after a near-fatal attack, Morgan realizes that she must decide between two facts: that of being a simple shieldmaiden or accepting her heritage as an elven princess. If only she could forget that she was the daughter of the perilous black mage of Ceangail…
Duty bound to aid his kind, Miach of Neroche is torn between what his responsibilities demand and what his heart desires. He is willing to risk his life to rescue Morgan from the darkness that haunts her, but he must do so at the peril of his realm. Forced to choose between love and the burden of his mantle, Miach sets out on his most deadly quest ever.

I enjoyed this book as much as the first. The characters are very likable and it is an easy read. A lot of times in fantasy novels I wish there would be more romance; well this book has plenty of that. I often felt it was more of a romance than a fantasy. I did enjoy that the characters really got to know each other, and were not kept apart for the majority of the story. However, it is nice in a story to have that tension of not knowing if they would be together or not and the book was lacking some of that tension, but it is still a fun read. The only other problem I had was that in the first book Morgan was really sure of herself, and although she does have a lot to take in it did get frustrating listening to her go on and on about how her insecurities, and also crying A LOT and seeking comfort in Miach. I guess it was nice to see how being in love has softened her and that being in a relationship helps us become whole. I look forward to reading the next book, which doesn’t come out until next year.
Reviewed by: Kathy
*Description taken from book cover.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Star of the Morning by Lynn Kurland

Darkness covers the land of Neroche, and the King, Adhemar, has lost his magical abilities. Legend has it that only the two magical swords held by Adhemar can defeat the powerful evil that covers the land. So he begins his search to find the one person who is destined to help him save the kingdom and return his magic.

Morgan of Melksham despises magic, and anyone who uses magic. As a favor to her dear friend she agrees to deliver a magical dagger to the King of Neroche. Accompanying her on her quest is a stranger, Adhemar, his brother Miach and three old friends. Unbeknown to Morgan, Adhemar is really the King of Neroche and Miach is the Arch mage and are in search for the one person who can help them wield the sword of Neroche and push back the black magic that is covering the land. Neither brother expects that Morgan could be the answer to their problems, or that one of them would fall desperately in love with her.


Star of the Morning is the first in a new fantasy trilogy. I had read great reviews about this series, and was excited to get started. I was able to get lost in the story and was surprised at how quickly the book flew by. I enjoyed the different characters, even if I didn’t love their names. Morgan was a great heroin, she is an amazing fighter, very beautiful, and will probably end up being very magical as well. Although we know who everyone is throughout the story, the characters do not. It makes for a fun read, knowing that Morgan will probably be pretty upset when she finds out who she is traveling with. The book was well written, there was a lot of dialog, and it didn’t get bogged down in the details or scenery like a lot of fantasy novels do. My only complaint is that this book was written as a starter book, so it ends with a lot of cliffhangers and really not too much happening during the book other than getting to know the characters. It is pretty much meant to set up the story and get some background in. I am anxious to start the second book, The Mage’s Daughter, and see how the love story with Morgan turns out.

I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a good romantic fantasy.

Book 2, The Mage's Daughter, I've heard is as good as the first, if not better.
Book 3, Princess of the Sword, comes out January 2009.

Reviewed by: Kathy

Monday, September 1, 2008

The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley

The Blue Sword is the companion book to The Hero and the Crown. The latter is a prequel but I don't think it matters which order you read them because you are bound to be confused. I was hoping that when I read The Blue Sword that it would clear up some questions that I had while reading The Hero but it didn't. This is because McKinley writes in a circle. She can't just follow and event or a person from A to B. Instead you start at A and then visit C and D and then back at A to finish with B. I hope you'll pardon the crappy analogy. I will say that she did this much more in The Hero and the Crown....it just took reading The Blue Sword to figure out what the problem with her writing style is. My other criticisms are that there is little dialogue and lots of description, which call me ADD, but I didn't find this enjoyable and made the book drag for me in places. In addition, she couldn't decide whether she was writing this book in the first or third person which also bothered me.

The story follows an unlikely hero, Harry (a woman) an Outlander who becomes the heir to the blue sword and defends the Hillfolk from the Northerners. I liked the progression of Harry as she starts out timid and grows to be self-assured and the hero that the Hillfolk hang all their hopes on. The story is more fantasy than love and that disappointed me. I don't want a romance novel but the loves story between Harry and the Hill-King Corlath had a lot of promise but not much page time. It was a good read but it didn't pull me in. It's not a must read but it was good. For that I'm giving it 2.5 stars out of 5.
Reviewed by: Jessica

Friday, August 29, 2008

Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer

For those of you who haven't heard, a copy of Midnight Sun has been leaked on the Internet. Needless to say Stephanie Meyer is PO'd. Below is a link to her site where you can read her comments on the subject. She has decided to post her version (about 264 pages) of Midnight Sun on her site. In her post she says she will not continue writing the story, so I guess we just have to enjoy the 264 pages and hope that once things calm down she will continue the story.

http://www.stepheniemeyer.com/midnightsun.html

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Pawn of Prophecy by David Eddings

An orphan, Garion is left in the care of his Aunt Pol, spending his days in her kitchen and playing with his friends. He is logical and doesn’t believe in magic. He is haunted by a stranger who silently watches him as he grows up. As he turns fourteen the wise storyteller Wolf appears and convinces Garion and Aunt Pol to come away with him. Without knowing why Garion is taken away from the only home he has ever known and thrown into a mysterious adventure with strange new people. A quest has begun to stop an evil from destroying the world. Garion will soon discover his past, present and future, and also a new appreciation for the magic he refuses to believe in.

I started out really liking this book; I thought it would be a good fantasy novel. I think if I had been able to sit and read it from cover to cover I probably would have ended up liking it more than I did. By time I finished, I didn’t feel like too much had really happened. I didn’t like how Garion (who is 14 by the way, it took about 200 pages for them to say his exact age), was kept ignorant throughout the whole book, which to me ended up making him kind of whiney. There were so many different groups of people, so it was hard to keep track of everyone. I felt like I almost had to get a scrap of paper to keep track of everyone. Again, it ended without too much happening, and although you can tell what is going on or what will happen there were a lot of unanswered questions. There are two more books in the Belgariad series, I think I will read them and maybe as a whole I will enjoy it more.

I just wanted to add… I’ve read some reviews that compare this story to Harry Potter. This book was published in 1982, long before Harry Potter, so if anything Rowling got her ideas from this book. It is similar in that Garion is an orphan left in the care of his aunt. Although it doesn’t say it in the first book, it appears he will have some magical abilities. Another similarity is that the bad guy in the book is not named, instead of calling him “he-who-must-not-not-be-named” they just say that they can’t say his name. In the end though, they are totally different stories that just happen to have some similarities.
Reviewed by: Kathy

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Two Princesses of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine

This is a story of the two princesses of Bamarre, Meryl and Addie. Meryl has dreams of ridding the kingdom of dragons, specters, and ogres. Addie is just the opposite. She is fearful of everything, especially spiders and depends on her older sister for courage. When the mysterious illness, Gray Death, takes Meryl, Addie becomes determined to find the unknown cure by leaving the kingdom all alone. Rhys, a sorcerer, outfits her with a magical cloak and a tablecloth that produces food on demand. Other friends give her precious gifts that she will need to accomplish her mission before her sister dies. She sets out on her own and must travel across her world to find the cure, meeting gryphons, specters and dragons along the way.

I enjoyed this story, I think it was meant for a younger audience than I am use to reading. I kept thinking throughout the book that if I was 12-13 I would probably love this story. I enjoyed the idea of the story, but did feel a little let down. I thought there was too much time spent at the castle at the beginning of the story. Anyone could tell what was going to happen, and I was looking forward to Addie beginning her journey. The journey wasn’t as exciting as I thought it would be, and because of the magical gifts she received she was able to avoid most obstacles placed before her. I also felt that the relationship/courtship between Rhys and Addie’s wasn’t fully developed. The ending felt a little rushed, and a lot of new stories were introduced too late. I would have enjoyed if there was a few more chapters added to really explain the story and also the relationship with Rhys and Addie. Unlike some young adult books, this one was definitely written for young readers, and certain aspects of the story weren’t as developed as I would have liked.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

An Inconvenient Book by Glenn Beck

I very rarely read non-fiction books. I think of reading as an escape from everyday life and problems, but lately I have felt like I need a break from the predictable fiction books I've been reading so I branched out and decided to read, An Inconvenient Book by Glenn Beck. Beck has a TV show on CNN and an AM radio show and he is know for his conservatism and common sense approach to our country's problems. He flys in the face of political correctness and isn't afraid to call evil by the name. He is a hilarious writer and presents even the heaviest of topics in a readable and light way. There are lots of little nuggets of information in the margins, like ADD moments, Islamic Terrorist say the Darndest things, and Liberal Brain Teasers that make reading it fun and fast-paced. Just because he is a Conservative doesn't mean he is Republican and he believes, as do I, that we all should hold ALL politicians to a higher standard than they are held presently. He has some really heavy chapters that, thankfully, he has broken up with some really funny topics like whether or not a man should wear a toupee, to how tipping has gotten out of control, to how to remember names. The following chapters were my favorite and I recommend if nothing else reading them.


Global Warming, Storming, and Conforming


Radical Islam: Politically Incorrect


America's Oil Dependence: The Peak of Stupidity


Media Bias: An All-New Fairness Doctrine


You Can't Say That! The Politics of Correctness


Child Molesters: A Fiery Solution


The UN: Truth, Justice, and the Anti-American Way


Illegal Immigration: Behind the Lies

If you love America and sometimes wonder if you still live in America then I suggest reading this book. A word of caution. Being ignorant IS bliss and some things you learn in the book will stress you out if you share my DNA and worry a lot. I give this book 5 out of 5 stars. If you like this book, or non-fiction in general, I also recommend Freakanomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side to Everything by Stephen D Levitt. I have a BS in Economics so maybe that's why I enjoyed this book so much but seriously you don't have to be a geek to enjoy it. No, I swear!
Reviewed by: Jessica

Sunday, August 17, 2008

How To Be Popular by Meg Cabot

Who doesn’t want to be popular? Especially someone like Stephanie Landry, who has been the school outcast since the sixth grade Super big Gulp incident. Yes, that’s right in sixth grade she tripped and spilled her red big gulp on the most popular girl in school…Lauren. So when Stephanie comes across a book “How to Be Popular”, she just can’t help herself. All she has to do is follow the simple suggestions in The Book and soon everyone will be eating out of her hands. Leaving behind her best friend Jason, who has stood by her and been her true friend since Kindergarten.

This book is pretty much what you would expect, an unpopular girl who wants the quarterback to fall madly in love with her. She tries to transform herself so that the “It” crowd will love her, along the way hurting the feelings of her true friends and missing out on true love. The story was pretty predictable, although it was a little better than similar books that I’ve read. She was able to stay true to herself and not mess things up completely. I thought some of the “popular” advice was actually good, which was pretty much to just be nice to people, listen when they talk to you, etc. I thought it had some good advice on presenting your best self, and what really matters is how you treat other people. Maybe if Stephanie had just focused on being a nice person and not worried so much about actually being popular it would have been better story, earning friendship for being truly nice and not having to make such an effort for people to like her.

It’s a good beach read, quick and lighthearted.
Reviewed by: Kathy

Friday, August 15, 2008

Fablehaven by Brandon Mull

For thousands of years mystical creatures gathered at a magical refuge called Fablehaven, in order to prevent capture or extinction. The sanctuary is one of a few remaining around the world. The story follows 14 year-old Kendra and her 11 year-old brother Seth on an adventure of a lifetime. When their parents decide to go on a two week cruise they are sent to stay with grandparents they hardly know, at Fablehaven. Their grandfather is the caretaker at Fablehaven and is looking for a possible replacement. On first arrival their grandmother is nowhere to be found, they are given strict instructions, as well as a puzzle Kendra must solve. Seth has a hard time following rules and soon learns what happens to rule-breakers. Kendra and Seth face the greatest challenge of their young lives as they try to uncover the secrets of Fablehaven, without upsetting all the magical creatures that live there.

I really enjoyed this book and look forward to reading the rest of the five part series. Seth drove me a little crazy. He is one of those kids that doesn’t learn from their mistakes and constantly makes the situation worse. Course, without characters like him we wouldn’t have a story. I liked Kendra’s character, and that being obedient pays off. It was a quick read, and well written. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good fantasy-adventure.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

General Winston's Daughter by Sharon Shinn

Eighteen-year-old Averie Winston travels to Chiarrian (a distant country) to visit her father, who is a commanding General, and her fiancée Morgan. Her father has invaded the country and is working to overthrow local government and rebel forces. As she learns more about the situation and herself she realizes that Morgan is not the man that she thought he was; and slowly falls in love with Lt. Ket Du’Kai, who himself comes from a conquered society. Averie delves into the culture, wanting to learn everything she can, and forms a friendship with a local Chiarizzi girl Jalessa, who teaches her about their culture. Political resistance continues and rebels threaten colonial rule, security is heightened and tension rises.

Hmm, it is hard to say what I thought of this book. I had recently read “Summers at Castle Auburn” also by Sharon Shinn, which I loved so I thought this book sounded somewhat similar and the plot interesting, but was somewhat disappointed. I thought Averie was very childish and naive, and was hoping that her character would grow throughout the book, but she did not. It seemed like the focus of the book was more about the country of Chiarrian and their traditions/beliefs, and not on an actual story.

***Possible Spoilers***

The love story was a disappointment, it seemed like there was more interaction with Averie and Morgan than with Averie and Ket. Morgan actually seemed like a pretty decent guy who was truly in love with her, and other than his love for war, he was hard not to like. I found the relationship between Averie and Ket hard to believe because they were never together, so how could they really have fallen in love. They had nothing in common and really didn’t know each other. The romance part of it was lacking, and I think she picked the wrong guy, only for the fact that the character of Ket was underused. If she had built up their relationship I probably would have enjoyed it more and not minded her choice.

The main twist at the end was predictable and I knew from the beginning what would happen. I was still disappointed since even though Averie was immature, she was sincere in her new love for the people and country, so her betrayal was very sad.

If you like a book about politics, war and make-believe places then you will probably enjoy this story.
Reviewed by: Kathy

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

These Is My Words by Nancy Turner

This story was based on the real-life adventures of the author’s great-grandmother. It is written in diary format by the heroine Sarah Prine. It follows Sarah’s life as she struggles to adjust on the Arizona frontier. Sarah is intelligent and headstrong, but has had no formal education. Her father taught her some letters and she began to teach herself to read. Throughout her life she is always bettering herself and has a deep love of learning. It follows her life through many trials and also many happy days. The story is really about Sarah and her life, she has wonderful friends and family. There is a great love story but the focus is more on Sarah and her development.

This book at first reminded me a lot of “The Diary of Mattie Spenser,” luckily, this book was a lot better. I really enjoyed the story, even though diary format is not my favorite. I liked Sarah’s character a lot; she was feisty and knew how to take care of herself. At the same time she was girly, and playful. The combination made her more real to me. Her relationship with her husband reminded me a lot of my life married to a military man, I was able to relate with Sarah in missing her husband and not always able to understand why they have this desire to serve like they do. The book was slow at the beginning, probably took me about 60+ pages to really get into it. As the book progresses so does Sarah’s education and the writing becomes better. Once I got into it I had a hard time putting it down and kept thinking of friends that I know would love it also. If I were to re-read it I would probably enjoy the earlier chapters more, knowing what happens and what a big part they play in Sarah's life.

There were a few characters that I would have liked a little bit more resolution on, and a few story lines that I would have liked to see finished. I ended the book at peace with everything, it was a great chapter in Sarah’s life and I look forward to reading the other two books in the series.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley

The Hero and the Crown by Robin Mckinley was my rebound book from the most disappointing book ever, Breaking Dawn. This book came highly recommended from a close friend and to be honest I read it just so she wouldn't bother me about it. I had read another McKinley book that I didn't like so I wasn't looking forward to reading this one. What a pleasant surprise it turned out to be. I love books with strong female characters and this book didn't disappoint in that area. Although why does it seem that every book about a herione describes her with red hair, green eyes, clumsy, and big feet? I swear I can call that from the cheap seats. There is a love story and while it doesn't drive the story it is promient enough to satisfy the romantic in all of us. The story moves along pretty well except there are long passages with no dialouge that drug on for me. I simply skimmed some of these pages and that could have contributed to my being pretty dang confused in parts. Mckinley has lyrical writting that takes your full concentration to read and understand. Since I tend to read in between other tasks or while the TV is on I had a hard time in some parts. Over-all I give it a 4 out of 5 stars and look forward to reading the companion book The Blue Sword.

Synopsis of The Hero and the Crown~

Aerin is the only child of the king of Damar, and should be his rightful heir. But she is also the daughter of a witch-woman of the North, who died when she was born, and the Damarians cannot trust her. But Aerin's destiny is greater than her father's people know, for it leads her to battle with Maur, the Black Dragon, and into the wilder Damarian Hills, where she meets the wizard Luthe. It is he who at last tells her the truth about her mother, and he also gives over to her hand the Blue Sword. But such gifts as these bear a greater price, a price Aerin only begins to realize when she faces the evil mage, Agsded, who has seized the Hero's Crown, greatest treasure and secret strength of Damar.
Reviewed by: Jessica

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer

I just want to warn you that this is a long review and does contain spoilers.

I have so many mixed feelings about this book. I know how hard it is for an author to come up with a final book in a series, there are so many expectations and there is no way to make everyone happy. Having said that, give me a break! This book was crazy and definitely my least favorite of the series. The book was way too long, although I don’t mind long books if things are happening, but nothing happened for the majority of the book. I think the only reason why I kept reading was because I was so curious about what would happen with everyone.

LIKES:
-I enjoyed Bella and Edwards wedding. I know a lot of people are upset that they got married “so young” I am really glad they got married. When people are in love they should get married, and they definitely should be married before having sex. So, I was very glad that SM had them married before they did anything.
-Through four books Bella has gone through some pretty upsetting things, had heartbreaks and a lot of stress in her young life, so I was happy that she did get everything she wanted. She finally married Edward, became a vampire, had a baby and was able to maintain her relationship with her dad. It shows that we should have hope and that if we work hard and make the right choices that things can work out the way you want.
-I liked that Bella finally became a vampire and I enjoyed reading about her transformation and how she was able to transition. I liked that she was able to adjust so quickly. I also enjoyed that she was finally confident and was stronger than Emmett and Edward.
-Originally I was really surprised that Bella became pregnant (I didn’t think Edward had it in him, so to speak). After adjusting to the idea I liked that Bella and Edward would be parents. I also liked it because so many Jacob fans said she should go with him because she could have a family with Jacob…well Ha Ha Ha, she had a baby with Edward!
-So many people complained that Bella didn’t go to school first. Well, duh. You don’t have to chose between getting married and going to school, you can do both. Bella will live forever she can get 100 degrees if she wants. I liked that she chose to get married AND go to school, again its not one or the other and getting married doesn’t ruin your dreams.
-I liked that Bella was finally able to share her thoughts with Edward and that they were able to live happily ever after. Just remember it’s a fiction love story, so of course they should end up happily ever after!

DISLIKES:
-Jacob. I’m sorry I’m just not a fan and I was very disappointed to see a whole section written from his perspective. I don’t really care what Jacob is thinking because he only thinks one thing “I Love Bella”. I was a little sick of his obsession with her. Nothing much happened in his part, other than he imprints on Renesmee. WHAT!?! Did SM honestly have him imprint on Bella’s daughter? So Jake is the son-in-law to Edward and Bella, that’s just the stupidest thing I have ever heard of. My friend Jessica has a perfect solution to this problem…. While Bella and Edward are on their honeymoon they come across the vampire/humans and rescue a baby that was being hunted or something. They adopt the baby and bring it back with them to Forks. Jacob imprints on that kid and then Jacob and Bella can be friends and we can avoid the whole mess of Jacob falling for Bella’s daughter. (Jessica said it better than me, but you get the idea).
-I didn’t like the name Renesmee. Its hard to say, spell, remember, read, etc. I also didn’t like that if it was a boy she was going to name him “Edward Jacob”. Its like Bella has no feelings for her husband at all. You just don’t name your kids after ex-boyfriends.
-I missed Alice. She was gone for the majority of the book and mostly replaced with Rosalie. Who likes Rosalie, she is a horrible “person”, so bitter and self-centered.
-There was hardly anything going on between Edward and Bella, other than sex. The tention is gone and as Jessica says, reading about married people can be boring.
-Bella and the fake IDs. Really, what’s the point, it took up way too much time with no end result. Just a waste and pretty boring to read. I guess you add chapters like that in to make the book longer?
-There is a huge build up for the confrontation between Cullen’s and Volturi. I enjoyed all the other vampires coming into town and hearing about their special abilities. It was interesting hearing how powerful the Cullen’s are considered in the vampire world. So I was expecting a big fight when the Volturi came to town. But what happens…. NOTHING. They have a little chat and then go home.
-Although Bella’s superpower was kind of cool, I think it could have been better. Like she could have been able to absorb others powers and use them, instead she just makes a shield.

So, overall I would give this book 3 out of 5 stars. I think the Twilight series would have been better as a trilogy. It is worth reading Breaking Dawn, it kept me reading and it has been fun discussing with friends.
Reviewed by: Kathy

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Summers at Castle Auburn by Sharon Shinn

Lowborn Corie, the impressionable young heroine, spends her summers with her highborn sister, Elisandra, at Castle Auburn and the rest of the year in a village apprenticed to a "wise woman" witch/herbalist called Grandmother. Corie accompanies her Uncle Jaxon on a hunt for the Aliora, faerielike creatures who serve as unwilling slaves to the humans inhabiting this quasi-medieval world. Also along for the ride is Elisandra's future husband, Prince Bryan of Auburn, a vain 16-year-old adored by most girls (including Corie) and loathed by most men. As Corie ages, she gets over her crush on the increasingly narcissistic and self-indulgent young prince. The relationship between the sisters deepens along with the plot lines revolving around Jaxon's obsession with the Aliora and their queen, Rowena. (Publishers Weekly)


Although the story was somewhat predictable, I thought it was a nice "fairytale" and would easily give it five stars. If you enjoyed The Goose Girl or Seer and the Sword then you will like this book.
 
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