Friday, July 31, 2009

Retro Friday Review: Nancy Drew

Nancy Drew Series by Carolyn Keen

Okay, so its about 30 minutes till midnight, I can still count this as a Retro Friday Review! Phew!

For this edition I have to go with an all-time favorite, Nancy Drew. As most of you probably know, there are hundreds of books in the ND series. I don’t even want to say how many I have actually read. I will say that I love Nancy Drew; I think a small part of me still wishes I was her. I remember going over to my friend Joy’s house in the fifth grade and there in her room was a shelf filled with Nancy Drew books. I was drawn to the bright yellow covers and soon to the amazing stories that filled their pages. Even as an adult I still love to read the stories every now and again and they always bring me back to my childhood. Nancy is a fantastic character. She is strong, smart, kind, clever, and the list goes on and on. She is a modern-day Sherlock Holmes, for girls. I loved how she is able to solve all sorts of crimes in very creative ways. With the help of her awesome best friends Bess and George (I wish they were my friends too), they encounter all sorts of adventures, travel and romance.

I’m not sure when I realized that Carolyn Keen was not a real person. It was actually a pen name for many different authors, both male and female. GoodReads had some interesting info and instead of rewriting it I will just add it below.

“Carolyn Keene is a writer pen name that was used by many different people- both men and women- over the years. The company that was the creator of the Nancy Drew series, the Stratemeyer Syndicate, hired a variety of writers. For Nancy Drew, the writers used the pseudonym Carolyn Keene to assure anonymity of the creator. Edna and Harriet Stratemeyer inherited the company from their father Edward Stratemeyer. Edna contributed 10 plot outlines before passing the reins to her sister. While Harriet is often credited as Carolyn Keene, several other authors assumed the pseudonym of Caroyn Keene. Starting in 1953, Harriet authored 24 volumes. In 1959, Harriet, along with several writers, began a 25-year project to revise the earlier Carolyn Keene novels. The Nancy Drew books were condensed, racial stereotypes were removed, and the language was updated. In a few cases, outdated plots were completely rewritten.”

Nancy Drew is great reading for young girls, I can’t wait until I have a daughter of my own to share these with and I highly recommend them to anyone who enjoys a good mystery.

Other Retro Reviews

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Unusual Suspects

Title: The House of Seven Spirits by Sharon Shinn

Genre: Mystery/Anthology

Author Site: www.sharonshinn.net

First Line: “I had thought it would bother me to live in a haunted house, but in fact I grew fond of the ghosts in an amazingly short time.”

One Word Review: Spooky

My Review: This was a fun short story. Erica has rented a haunted house for the summer while she goes through a nasty divorce, living with seven ghost’s sounds a lot more inviting then dealing with her soon-to-be ex. As she settles in she realizes that not everything is as it seems and soon discovers a mystery that needs to be solved in order to release the seven ghosts from their eternal prison. I really enjoyed this story, although it was mainly about murdered ghosts, it wasn’t scary or depressing. Once again, I could easily see this story being a full novel and a part of me wishes it was. It was a nice quick read and I can’t say how much I enjoy Sharon Shinn’s work.

I only read Sharon Shinn’s story, so I can’t say if the other stories are as good.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Happy Anniversary BWN!

Today is Bookworm Nation’s one year anniversary! I can’t believe it has been a year since our first post (Summer’s at Castle Auburn). BWN has changed a lot over the year as Jessica and I settle into the blogging world. I still remember talking to Jessica about starting our own book review blog. We both have a deep love of reading and have often given each other book recommendations. Since we have very similar tastes in books we decided to give the blog world a shot and create our own review blog. For me it has been a great new hobby and if possible has made me love books even more. While reading I will often think about what I want to say in my post and it has made me pay a little more attention to how books are written and what exactly I like about them.

In honor of our anniversary I have put together a list of my favorite books from the past year. We’ve reviewed over 100 books and narrowing it down turned out to be a lot harder than I thought. This list consists of new books, or at least new-to-me, that I have read over the past year. There were MANY more that I totally loved but these ones just stood out for one reason or another.

Jessica and I have great plans for BWN. If you follow our blog you know that I change our background a lot (probably too much), so we’re working on getting a set background. We want to start doing author interviews, giveaways, guest bloggers, and a few other things. So this upcoming year will be full of fun changes.

I just want to add that I really appreciate all the comments and followers of our blog. I’m not the best writer and I’m sure I make a lot of mistakes. I love reading and I love sharing my thoughts with everyone. I’ve enjoyed the friendships I’ve made through BWN and hope that we’ll have many more years of reviews ahead of us.

Thanks,
Kathy

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Two Moon Princess by Carmen Ferriro-Esteban

Genre: YA-Fantasy

Author Site: www.carmenferreiroesteban.com

First Line: “The arrow knows the way. Just let it free.”

One Word Review: Okay

Book Synopsis: “In this coming-of-age story set in a medieval kingdom, Andrea is a headstrong princess longing to be a knight who finds her way to modern-day California. But her accidental return to her family's kingdom and a disastrous romance brings war, along with her discovery of some dark family secrets.” -GoodReads

My Review:
For some reason I just couldn’t get into this one. I guess the idea of the story is good, a girl from one world finds a portal to modern day America. Her uncle lives in America and allows her to stay with him and experience our world. She falls for a guy and accidently brings him back to her world. Her return brings about a war with a neighboring country and she has to do everything in her power to try and stop it. I ended up skimming over the majority of the book; I read in a couple other reviews that it gets better halfway through so I kept pushing myself to that point. It did get better, but I still wasn’t that into it and ended up skimming over the second half as well. Andrea and her romantic lead left quite a bit to be desired; it felt a bit rushed and unrealistic. Overall it was just okay, maybe I just wasn’t in the mood for this kind of book and maybe another time I might enjoy it more?

Reading Order:
Book One: Two Moon Princess
Book Two: The King in the Stone

Other Reviews:
Teens Read To

Friday, July 24, 2009

Retro Friday Review: The Princess Bride

The Princess Bride by William Goldman
I actually had a hard time deciding which book I would feature for today’s installment of Retro Friday (created by Angieville). I finally decided on The Princess Bride. I had seen the movie at least 100 times before I even realized there was a book. I’m not sure which came first, but after getting my hands on a copy of the book I fell in love with Wesley, Princess Buttercup, and their rag-tag team all over again.

I won’t go into too much detail about the plot, since everyone has probably either seen the movie or read the book, but here is a small overview. Buttercup and Wesley live on a farm where she is constantly bossing him around but eventually realizes she is in love. Once they decide they love each other Wesley decides to set out to find his fortune so they can have a better life together. Soon after leaving Buttercup receives word that Wesley has died. After a bit of morning Prince Humperdinck enters the picture and insists that she marry him. Long story short, Wesley is actually alive and well. He comes to reclaim Buttercups heart only to find she is now engaged to the Prince. The Prince is worried about losing Buttercup, seeing as he has great plans for her murder (he wants to go to war with the neighboring kingdom), so he decides to kill Wesley himself. With the help of a giant, a Spaniard and a magical cloak they are able to rescue the princess and ride off into the sunset to live happily ever after.

This is an interesting book. It is written as an abridged version of “S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure” (which I’m still pretty sure is all made up). Goldman provides his point of view, which is similar to the movie version where Narrator (Grandpa) stops every now and again to explain to his sick grandson what is going on. I’ve read the book many times, sometimes I read it from cover to cover, while other times I just skip the “brakes” and just read the story. Either way is very entertaining.

What I love most about the book is how much back story we get on each of the characters. Unlike some books that are written after the movie, that end up just going through the whole movie without adding anything new. This was packed full of delicious storylines, which ended up making it far better than the movie. The book goes into so much detail about the early days of Buttercup and Wesley, how they fell in love, the time when Buttercup is on her own, how she came to the attention of Prince Humperdinck (great name), and eventually how she became a Princess. There is also a lot of back story for the lovable Fezzik and Inigo, and the ruthless Vizzini. One of the best parts of the book is its description of the Pit of Despair. Why in the world didn’t they follow the book more closely when making the movie? The Pit is amazing in the book, simple terrifying and definitely not a place you would want to be.

If you haven’t read the book...DO! It’s a Bookworm promise that you will love it.

Other Retro Friday Reviews

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Poison Study by Maria Snyder

Genre: Fantasy

Author Site: www.mariavsnyder.com

First Line: “Locked in darkness that surrounded me like a coffin, I had nothing to distract me from my memories.”

One Word Review: Good

Book Synopsis: “About to be executed for murder, Yelena is offered an extraordinary reprieve. She'll eat the best meals, have rooms in the palace—and risk assassination by anyone trying to kill the Commander of Ixia. And so Yelena chooses to become a food taster. But the chief of security, leaving nothing to chance, deliberately feeds her Butterfly's Dust—and only by appearing for her daily antidote will she delay an agonizing death from the poison. As Yelena tries to escape her new dilemma, disasters keep mounting. Rebels plot to seize Ixia and Yelena develops magical powers she can't control. Her life is threatened again and choices must be made. But this time the outcomes aren't so clear.” -GoodReads

My Review:
I actually really enjoyed the story. Yelena has had a very hard life, especially the last three years. Two of which she was terribly abused and the last year was spent in a grimy dungeon. When she is given the opportunity to be the Commanders food taster instead of being hanged she jumps at the chance. I liked Yelena’s character, I’m not sure if her behavior was that realistic considering what she’s been through (trusting, friendly, etc), but it’s easy to overlook that and really root for her character. I like that she is smart, quick thinking, athletic, and loyal. This brings me to Valek, the head of security, assassin, and love interest for our lovely Yelena. I have mixed feelings about Valek; I like the idea of him but he kind of fell a little flat for me. I guess I didn’t really feel a whole lot of chemistry between the two. There was enough there to satisfy me, but I wasn’t as attached as I was to Bran (Son of the Shadows), or similar characters. I do like him though; he’s tough, smart, and compassionate. I really liked friends Janco and Ani, and thought they added a lot to the story.

There are some disturbing things in Yelena’s past, I don’t think its too much of a spoiler to say that she had been raped. I think that’s why I was not really looking forward to this book. Snyder really didn’t go into detail, thankfully, it was more implied than described. I was grateful for that. Her past did add a dark or sad element to the story, but it does help to build Yelean’s character. Overall, I thought it was a good book, I wasn’t really surprised with how things played out but it was still fun going on the journey. I will definitely be reading the next two books.

Reading Order:
Book One: Poison Study
Book Two: Magic Study
Book Three: Fire Study

Other Reviews:
Angieville
Book Minx
Book Muncher
Melissas Bookshelf
Story Siren

If you have reviewed this book and would like me to include a link, please leave a comment below, thanks!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Love Beyond Time by Nancy Campbell Allen

Genre: Fiction

Author Site: www.ncallen.blogspot.com

First Line: “The tension was thick in the small office.”

One Word Review: Enjoyable

Book Synopsis: “Amber Saxton is a bright young LDS doctor on the cutting edge of twenty-first century medicine. But when she has a head-on collision with a swinging door, life as she knows it is suddenly reduced to a heart full of searing memories when she awakens in another time and place. How can she practice modern medicine on a Civil War battlefield—and how can she get out of this mess? Shoe longs for her comfortable apartment and her dear little Primary class, but she’s trapped in a world that is not her own. And its anything but friendly. Meanwhile, Tyler Montgomery, an overworked accountant, is spending the night at his computer when two of his worst nightmares walk through his office door. The last thin he remembers is a blow from the butt of their sawed-off shotgun—until he comes to in a tiny room adjacent to a nineteenth-century Army hospital.”

My Review:

Although I have a rather large stack of library books (32) to read, I kept hearing Tyler and Amber calling to me and I decided to skip the library books and go for a familiar favorite. This is the kind of book that sucks you in right from the start. Under normal circumstances Amber and Tyler would probably never meet. They are both workaholics and it takes a little time travel for them to finally get together. I like the struggles Amber has to go through as a doctor. I can only imagine how awful it would be to be thrown into the horrible medical conditions of the Civil War; it would probably drive me crazy. Amber handles it well and does the best she can to save and teach those around her. Tyler is a natural leader, the troops are drawn to him and he commands their respect. Although Tyler has had a hard past this experience is able to help him get closure and ultimately peace. I like the relationship between Amber and Tyler; it was fun to glimpse a part of their story. Great book, well researched and very entertaining.

Reading Order:

Book One: Love Beyond Time
Book Two: No Time for Love
Book Three: A Time for the Heart
Book Four: Echoes

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Son of the Shadows by Juliet Marillier

Genre: Fantasy

Author Site: www.julietmarillier.com

First Line: “My mother knew every tale that was ever told by the firesides of Erin, and more besides.”

One Word Review: Entrancing

Book Synopsis: “Son of the Shadows takes up the story of the children of Sorcha, who saved her enchanted brothers, and Hugh, the Briton she married. Sorcha's daughter Liadan is a gifted seer and healer who thinks, in spite of her visions, that she knows what the future has in store for her--caring for her dying mother and then an alliance marriage to Eamonn. A chance meeting on the road carries her off to care for a dying man--one of the mercenaries of the sinister Painted Man, Eamonn's archenemy and a killer for hire. Liadan discovers that she cannot choose whom she loves and that she and the Painted Man are as bound up in destiny as her mother and father were before her.” -GoodReads

My Review:
This is the second in the Sevenwaters Saga, and although it was a bit darker than its predecessor, I still enjoyed it, maybe I was more prepared for it this time around. Thinking back, I actually did enjoy DOTF quit a bit. Son of the Shadows was a captivating read; Marillier is a fantastic writer and really sucks you into a story. Although I have a million other things I need to be doing, like eating & sleeping, I kept saying to myself “just one more chapter”. This is definitely not a quick read and some parts were a little drawn out, but overall it was a good story.

I really liked Liadan; she was a very believable character for me. I loved that she made her own choices and didn’t let her family, the fair folk or anyone tell her what to do. She was strong, smart, courageous and faithful. Her love interest Bran had a very sad past, it was hard to read about and I skipped most of it, but I just love his character. I don’t know what it is about “warriors” but they just do something to me (maybe that’s why I married a Marine?). Bran is misunderstood and is really an amazing guy; it’s very easy to see why Liadan falls for him. I would have liked if their relationship was built up a little more (at least longer than the week it actually took) before they really “fell” for each other, but I guess they had an underlying bond that helped things move along quickly. There are plenty of villains and other stories going on to really draw you in. My heart broke for Niamh and once again I skipped over some of her story, but I was glad how things ended up for her.

With the Sevenwaters saga Marillier addresses some rough topics, things I don’t usually like to read about, but it’s still a captivating tale and probably wouldn’t bother others. I think I prefer her young adult novels a little more.

Reading Order:
Book One: Daughter of the Forest
Book Two: Son of the Shadows
Book Three: Child of the Prophecy
Book Four: Heir to Sevenwaters

Other Reviews:
See Michelle Read

Monday, July 20, 2009

Grip of the Shadow Plague by Brandon Mull

Genre: YA-Fantasy

Author Site: www.brandonmull.com

First Line: “On a muggy August day, Seth hurried along a faint path, eyes scanning the lush foliage to his left.”

One Word Review: Magical

Book Synopsis: “Kendra and Seth along with Grandpa and Grandma Sorenson discover that someone or something has released a plague that is turning the light creatures of Fablehaven into creatures of darkness. And for the first time, Kendra and Warren must visit another magical preserve called Lost Mesa in Arizona and try to recovery another hidden artifact. Can the plague be stopped? Can the artifact be found? And most importantly, is the Sphinx a traitor?” -GoodReads

My Review:
This is the third book in the Fablehaven series and once again Mull has cast a magical spell over his readers. I’m always impressed how he is able to mix old mythical creatures with his own new creations. I don’t think I’ve ever read about Nipsies before, but I love them! He always comes up with new creatures that are very believable and I wonder where they have been hiding all this time.

This story takes place a couple months after the end of book two. Kendra is sent on a mission towards the beginning of the story but eventually is reunited with everyone at Fablehaven. Seth is once again pushing his boundaries and getting into mischief. Luckily, his mischief pays off this time and with his meddling they find that a dark plague has begun to seep into Fablehaven. I really enjoyed this book; it had a good mix of magic, heroes, trials, reunions, and all the characters we have come to love from the previous books. One thing I liked about this installment that was missing in the others is a touch of romance for Kendra. I’m curious to see where things go and hope to see much more of this fella in the future. The book is almost 500 pages long, and at times it did feel long. It’s not really a book I could sit and read from cover to cover, I had to take breaks and so it did take me a little longer than usual to finish. It’s a fun read though and I definitely look forward to picking up the next one.

Reading Order:
Book One: Fablehaven
Book Two: Rise of the Evening Star
Book Three: Grip of the Shadow Plague
Book Four: Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary
Book Five: Keys to the Demon Prison

Other Reviews:
Becky’s Book Reviews
Cool Kids Read

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Book Blogger Appreciation Week

I just saw on Melissa's Bookshelf the announcement of the Second Annual Book Blogger Appreciation Week (September 14-18, 2009). Below is the information from their web site, or you can click here. This sounds like a lot of fun and a great way to recognize some of your favorite blogs. This will be my first time participating and I'm really looking forward to it. I'll take some time this week to put together my nominations, and will do a follow-up post with my nominations.

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Last year over 400 blogs came together to celebrate the art of book blogging during the first ever Book Blogger Appreciation Week! I am so pleased to announce that the second annual Book Blogger Appreciation Week will be taking place September 14-18.

WHO? Anyone who blogs about books is invited to participate. In fact, we want everyone who blogs about books and reading to be a part of this week!WHAT A week where we come together, celebrate the contribution and hard work of book bloggers in promoting a culture of literacy, connecting readers to books and authors, and recogonizing the best among us with the Second Annual BBAW Awards. There will be special guest posts, daily blogging themes, and giveaways.WHEN September 14-18, 2009WHERE Here at the new Book Blogger Appreciation Week Blog! (Please note that this year there are three separate blogs and feeds—one for the main event, one for giveaways, and one for awards.)WHY Because books matter. In a world full of options, the people talking about books pour hard work, time, energy, and money into creating a community around the written word. I, Amy, the founder of Book Blogger Appreciation Week love this community of bloggers and want to shower my appreciation on you!

WANT TO PARTICIPATE? Please help us spread the word about Book Blogger Appreciation Week by posting about it on your blog, stumbling this post, twittering about it, and telling everyone you know that it’s time to have a party and celebrate book bloggers!

Please register by filling out the registration form! Registering ensures your inclusion in the BBAW 09 Database of Book Bloggers and enters you into the drawing for the BBAW 09 Grand Prize! Come back often as there will be many updates! And follow us on Twitter! AWARDSBBAW Award Nominations open July 15th on the BBAW Awards Blog.

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Friday, July 17, 2009

Percy Jackson Movie Trailer

I love the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan and am so excited to find out there is going to be a movie! Wonderful YouTube provided this amazing trailer, enjoy!


Retro Friday Review: Wait Till Helen Comes by Mary Dawning Hawn

For this edition of Retro Friday I decided to go with a spooky story, Wait Till Helen Comes. This was another one of my favorite books from elementary/middle school. It was first published in 1987 (I can’t believe I would have been 7 at the time!). I’m not into scary stories normally, but for some reason I always loved this one. I read it quite a few times and ended up reading quite a few of Hawn’s other books because I enjoyed this one so much.

When Heather was four her house caught on fire and her mother died searching for her. Three years later she is moving with her dad and new family to an old converted church in the country. Heather hates her new step-sister and step-brother and is mean to them and always trying to get them in trouble. Once they move to their new home, Heather becomes friends with Helen, a ghost girl who drowned many years before and is now buried in a nearby cemetery. The problem is Helen wants to drown Heather so she won’t have to be all alone anymore.

Molly notices that Heather has become obsessed with the cemetery and with a particular headstone where the deceased had the same initials and was the same age as Heather. As Heather’s behavior goes from bad to worse, Molly grows more concerned about Heather and decides to keep close tabs on her young step-sister to try and figure out what is going on. Although Molly hates Heather and things she is a spoiled brat she must chose whether or not to save her from Helen.

Molly decides she must save Heather and luckily gets to her in time and is able to stop Helen from harming her. They seek safety in an abandoned house and eventually make it home. Through their experiences Molly is able to find out some disturbing information about both Heather and Helen, and is able to help Heather come to peach with her past.

This was a great ghost story, but also a great story that not everyone it what they seem. You never really know what has happened in someones past to cause them to act they way they do. By showing kindess and helping Heather, Molly was able to better understand her and hopefully they end up having a strong, loving relationship.

The Laurentine Spy by Emily Gee

Genre: Adult Fiction

Author Site: www.emilygee.com

First Line: “Something moved ahead of her in the catacombs.”

One Word Review: Good question…Conflicting

Book Synopsis: “The Corhonase citadel is a place of virtue and debauchery. But nothing is as it seems, whether in the ballrooms and salons of the nobles’ Court or the catacombs beneath the citadel. Saliel has many secrets; her spying is one, but her most guarded mystery is her magic. She walks a narrow path between discovery as a spy and being burned as a witch. With a sadistic Spycatcher closing in, Saliel and her fellow spies are tested to the limits of their endurance—they must trust each other, or die. Magic may be their only hope of survival.” -GoodReads

My Review:
Hmmm, not sure where to start with this one, so I guess I’ll start by saying that before reading this all I could find was good reviews. The plot sounded very exciting, packed with mistaken identities, secret missions, magic and romance. What could be better? Saliel (Lady Petra, Three) is our heroine, she has decided to become a spy to escape her troubled past and earn enough money to start a new life. Athan (Lord Ivo, One) comes from a privileged past and has decided to become a spy mainly out of boredom. As spies they only know each other by their numbers. As their “covers” they are actually betrothed and can’t stand each other. The main plot idea I really liked, the book was well written and I liked Saliel & Athan okay. Lord Ivo actually reminded me a lot of Sir Percy Blakeney (The Scarlet Pimpernel) so I had a hard time not comparing the two. I think Percy ended up winning that contest. I guess this is where the “conflicting” comes in for me. In the city of Corhonase it is VERY common for the noble men to visit the courtesan salon (fancy name for whore house). I guess I wasn’t expecting so much sex in this story and for the first half (and a little throughout the rest) of the book that is a main part of the story. Lord Ivo would have to visit the courtesans to try and gather information about the Corhonaseans. I thought that was kind of silly really, but what bothered me the most was how he would think of Lady Petra while he was with a prostitute, that’s just gross. Another annoyance was the fact that the husbands could visit the prostitutes and enjoy themselves, but the wives were made to hate sex. It was something to be “endured” and not enjoyed. A pretty big double standard if you ask me. Needless to say, I was relieved when they finally left the citadel and were on the run.

Calling this a fantasy novel is a bit of a stretch. Saliel has a little magic in her, and I mean a very little. Her “power” was kind of lame in my opinion and it wasn’t something she could really do for more than a minute at a time. The only other person with “magical abilities” was the Spycatcher, granted his power was a little more impressive but overall the element of magic was really underdeveloped. I think if all the sex had been left out of the book I would have liked the story a lot more. It was just too crass and distracted from the story. So, overall it had the potential to be really good but ended up just okay for me.

Other Reviews:

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Green Rider by Kristen Britain

Genre: Fantasy-Adventure

Author Site: www.kristenbritain.com

First Line: “The Granite was cold and rough against the gray-cloaked man’s palms.”

One Word Review: Terrific

Book Synopsis: “Young heroine Karigan hardly has time to regret being expelled from school (for dueling) before finding herself committed to the desperate errand of a murdered Green Rider. The Riders are an elite messenger corps using both horses and magic; the message is a terrible warning. Bad things from bad places are invading this fantasyland, their presence being only part of a devious, sorcery-aided human struggle for the throne. Karigan's wild ride is beset by a variety of enemies, but aided by her own developing talents plus certain strange allies. These include the tormented ghost of the dead Green Rider himself--still pierced by and trying to resist the chief villain's black arrows that ensnare the soul. Delivering the message to a suspicious court is only half Karigan's job: can it be interpreted in time?” -GoodReads

My Review:
For some reason I wasn’t that excited about starting this book. I don’t know if it was the cover or the fact that I couldn’t find any reviews that mentioned any kind of romance in the story. I know that is a lame reason not to read a book, but I just can’t help but love a good romance in my books. Despite the lack of romance I actually ended up really liking this book. I thought Karigan was an amazing, spunky girl. She is not the type to take no for an answer and she never gives up. Whether she is facing a gigantic scorpion, being kidnapped, stabbed, stalked, or in battle she continues to fight and keep her wits about her. She never came across as unbelievable strong or super-human, she was just believable. I thought the world building was well done, strong plot, and great character development. The book was action packed and poor Karigan never had a moment’s peace! This is the first in a series and all I can say is that the others have quite a lot to live up to.

There wasn’t anything that I didn’t like about the story. However, there were a couple things that I thought were missing. Like most fantasy novels we have our “hero” who has to complete some kind of quest. They meet all sorts of friends and foes along the way and eventually have to face off with the ultimate “bad guy”. This book has all of that, what it was missing, at least throughout the first half is the friendly companions who travel with our hero. Sure, Karigan has friends that help her along the way and towards the end she is no longer alone, but there wasn’t any constant companion(s) and I missed that. Like I mentioned before there wasn’t any real clear romantic lead for Karigan, although there is something hinted at towards the end, there wasn’t anything to make my heart twitter. I’m hoping that is something to look forward to in the next books.

While reading I couldn’t help thinking about other fantasy books that were similar. If you like Mystic & Rider, Star of the Morning, or The Naming, then you will probably enjoy this book.

Reading Order:

Book One: Green Rider
Book Two: First Rider’s Call
Book Three: The High King’s Tomb
Book Four: n/a

Other Reviews:

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Fortune's Folly by Deva Fagan

Genre: YA-Fairy Tale

Author Site: www.devfagan.com

First Line: “Life would have been much easier if I believed in fairy tales.”

One Word Review: Delightful

Book Synopsis: Ever since her mother died and her father lost his shoemaking skills, Fortunata has survived by telling fake fortunes. But when she’s tricked into telling a grand fortune for a prince, she is faced with the impossible task of fulfilling her wild prophecy—or her father will be put to death. Now Fortunata has to help Prince Leonato secure a magic sword, vanquish a wicked witch, discover a long-lost golden shoe, and rescue the princess who fits it. If only she hadn’t fallen in love with the prince herself!

My Review:
This was a very cute book. I liked the overall plot and how the author wove in different fairy tales throughout her story. Fortunata is a very clever girl and it was fun watching her learn the art of fortune-telling and eventually end up on a made-up quest. The story moved along nicely and was well written. I liked Prince Leonato, he was sweet and kind. He does come across a bit naïve though and I kind of felt he was missing something. The villians were entertaining, and of course the quest they go on was very entertaining. The relationship between Leonato & Fortunata was endearing. If you like fairy tales than you will probably enjoy this story.

I’m still deciding what I think of the cover. The story & cover are probably meant to appeal to a younger audience; I just don’t think it really does the story justice. Also, Fortunata is supposed to be around 18 and the girl on the cover looks much younger.


Other Reviews:
My Favorite Author
Book Aunt

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Actor and the Housewife by Shannon Hale

Mormon housewife Becky Jack is seven months pregnant with her fourth child when she meets celebrity heartthrob Felix Callahan. A few hours, one elevator ride, and one alcohol-free dinner later something has happened, though nothing has happened....It isn't sexual. It isn't even quite love. But soon Felix shows up in Salt Lake City to visit and before they know what's hit them, Felix and Becky are best-friends-talk-on-the-phone, drop-everything-in-an-emergency, laugh-out-loud-at-stupid-jokes best friends. Becky's loving and devoted husband, Mike, is mostly unconcerned. Her children roll their eyes. Her large extended family and neighbors gossip endlessly. But Felix and Becky have something special, something unusual, something that seems from the outside-and sometimes from the inside too-completely impossible to sustain.

This book reminds me of that time I was skiing in Park City and I ran into Robert Pattinson (when he had normal hair) and we became best friends and we called each other "Love" and my husband Tim, who only had a problem with it once, thinks it is great that we talk all the time on the phone and go on overnight excursions together. The Actor and The Housewife is as improbable as the above scenario but somehow Shannon Hale makes the story work and makes it charming. If you don't laugh right out loud at the first chapter then you have no sense of humor, and if you don't cry at least once then go to the doctor and see if he can unplug your tear ducts. I confess to wondering through most of the book where the story was going and for one horrible moment I thought there might be some spousal swinging going on...Mormon style, but thankfully I was just letting my imagination run wild. I do that sometimes. I really held out to the end to declare whether I liked or disliked this book. Hale crafted an ending that really satisfied me and I declare this a good read that I would recommend to anyone.


*Reviewed by Jessica

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Radiant Darkness by Emily Whitman

Genre: YA-Mythology

Author Site: www.emilywhitman.com

First Line: “Stay here, Persephone,” says my mother. “I have some work to do.”

One Word Review: Enjoyable

Book Synopsis: "He smiles. "Hello." It's a deep voice. I can feel it reverberate in my chest and echo all the way down to my toes. I know I should leave, but I don't want to. I want to keep my senses like this forever. I'm all eye, all ear, all skin. Persephone lives in the most gorgeous place in the world. But her mother's a goddess, as overprotective as she is powerful. Paradise has become a trap. Just when Persephone feels there's no chance of escaping the life that's been planned for her, a mysterious stranger arrives. A stranger who promises something more—something dangerous and exciting—something that spurs Persephone to make a daring choice. A choice that could destroy all she's come to love, even the earth itself. In a land where a singing river can make you forget your very name, Persephone is forced to discover who—and what—she really is." -GoodReads

My Review:
I really liked this book. I’ve always loved Greek mythology and didn’t realize when I picked this up that it was a retelling of the story of Persephone. I just thought the cover looked good and checked it out. All the old myths claim that Persephone was kidnapped by Hades, God of the Underworld. This story is told in the voice of Persephone and how she fell in love with Hades and willingly chose to become his queen. I thought it was very well written, and still had the same feel as the old stories. The relationship between Persephone and Demeter (her mother) was one that a lot of girls could probably relate to. Demeter wanted to keep Persephone sheltered and safe. Persephone saw this as a prison and didn’t realize how much Demeter actually cared for her. I like the growth that Persephone goes through and I enjoyed hearing the story from her point of view. I also liked how Hades was portrayed in the book. He is power-hungry but you could tell that he was really in love with Persephone and saw the great potential that she had. Overall, a very fun read. If you like Greek mythology than you will like this book. I hope Emily Whitman writes more books, especially ones based on Greek lore.

Other Reviews:
The Compulsive Reader

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Wings by Aprilynne Pike

Genre: YA-Fantasy

Author's Site: www.aprilynnepike.com

First Line: Laurel’s shoes flipped a cheerful rhythm that defied her dark mood.

One Word Review: Enchanting

Book Synopsis: An ordinary girl named Laurel who discovers she is a faerie sent among humans to guard the gateway to Avalon. When Laurel is thrust into the midst of a centuries-old battle between faeries and trolls, she's torn between a human and a faerie love, as well as her loyalties to both worlds.

My Review:
I was both nervous and excited to start this one. I had read pretty good reviews but wasn’t sure if I was quite in the mood to read another faerie book. Luckily I did because it turned out to be a very entertaining read. Laurel wasn’t my favorite as the story began, she seemed a little too whiney. As the book progressed she grew on me and by the end I was a fan. I liked the faerie world that Pike has created, it is a very unique twist to what faeries are and I thought it was rather refreshing. The first part of the book deals with Laurel and her friend David trying to figure out who she is and where exactly she comes from. The rest of the book is a little more exciting as trolls are introduced and of course the very dashing Tamani, a faerie friend of Laurel's. Of course there is a love triangle...I hate those! I’m pretty sure I know who I want Laurel to end up with, but you can’t help but like both David and Tamani (okay, you can probably guess which one I like more). This is the first in a series of four books and I am already anxious to get my hands on the next one.

I'm a sucker for a good book cover. So, when I was surfing the net and found the above cover on amazon.uk I fell in love. It's just so pretty, I think I like it more than the U.S. edition below.

Reading Order:
Book One: Wings
Book Two: N/A
Book Three: N/A
Book Four: N/A

Other Reviews:
Always Something to Read
Melissa's Bookshelf
Life in the Thumb

My Favorite Author
Exclusively Books

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Awakening by Kelley Armstrong

Genre: YA-Fantasy

First Line: When the door to my cell clicked open, the first thought that flited through my doped-up brain was that Liz had changed her mind and come back.

One Word Review: Captivating

Book Synopsis:
"If you had met me a few weeks ago, you probably would have described me as an average teenage girl—someone normal. Now my life has changed forever and I'm as far away from normal as it gets. A living science experiment—not only can I see ghosts, but I was genetically altered by a group of people who call themselves The Edison Group. What does that mean? For starters, I’m a teenage necromancer whose powers are out of control: I raise the dead without even trying. Trust me, that is not a power you want to have. Ever. I'm running for my life with three of my supernatural friends—a charming sorcerer, a cynical werewolf, and a disgruntled witch—and we have to find someone who can help us gain our freedom back before The Edison Group finds us first. Or die trying." -GoodReads

My Review:
This is the second book in the Darkest Powers trilogy. I had to laugh when I re-read my review of book one, The Summoning. It’s funny what a little perspective and reading the next book will do to you. I do remember The Summoning being a bit slow, more character building than anything else. The Awakening was a lot more exciting and I was surprised when I finished it so quickly. This book picks up right where we left off, with Chloe trapped at The Edison Group and her friends on the run. I’ll have to keep this short to prevent any spoilers, which makes it hard because I wouldn’t mind discussing everything that went on in this installment. I’ll just say that there is something about these books that are intriguing. Chloe is a great heroine and the chemistry with her and “one of the guys” is fun to read. One issue that wasn't really addressed was Chloe's necklace. On the cover of The Summoning and in the story Chloe’s necklace is red, now it has changed to blue with no explanation. What is going on with the necklace?? When I reached page 300 I was wondering how Armstrong was going to tie everything up and it did seem that the book ended right when things were finally getting started, both story-wise and romance-wise. I guess I will just have to wait, patiently, for the last book to come out next May. In the meantime, I recommend these books to anyone who likes a little fantasy, mystery, romance and adventure.

Reading Order:

Book One: The Summoning

Book Two: The Awakening
Book Three: The Reckoning (May 2010)

Other Reviews:

The Faerie Path by Frewin Jones

"Swept away into a court of magic and beauty, she discovers she is Tania, the lost princess of Faerie: the youngest daughter of Oberon and Titania. Since Tania's mysterious disappearance on the eve of her wedding five hundred years before, Faerie has been sunk in darkness and gloom. The courtly Lord Gabriel Drake, who Tania was once to marry, has found her and brought her back. With Tania's return, Faerie comes alive again as a land of winged children, glittering balls, and fantastic delights. But Tania can't forget Anita's world, or the boy she loved there. Torn between two loves and between two worlds, Tania slowly comes to discover why she disappeared so long ago. She possesses a singular magical ability and she must use it to stop a sinister plan that threatens the entire world of Faerie." -GoodReads

I’d say that I enjoyed this book, although I was a little confused about what was going on in the beginning, which I guess is what we’re suppose to feel. Anita (Tania) is drifting between two worlds, that of the “mortal world” and the other “faerie world.” At first she thinks she is dreaming and simply decides to go along for the ride. Soon she realizes that it is not a dream and wants to figure out a way to return home, only she doesn’t know which realm is her true home. I enjoyed the story, although I had a sense for what was going to happen early on. It was still a pleasant read and I plan on reading the other books in the series. The romance left a bit to be desired, I didn’t really feel anything for either Gabriel or for Edric. There needs to be a little more tension, chemistry or something in the next books. We’re told that Tania is in love, but I don’t really feel it. Other than that it was an entertaining read and I think others would enjoy it as well.

Book One: The Faerie Path
Book Two: The Lost Queen
Book Three: The Sorcerer King
Book Four: The Immortal Realm

Other Reviews

Everything Austen Challenge


There is a fun challenge taking place over at the Written Word, called the Everything Austen Challenge. Since I am a huge Jane Austen fan I thought this would be a fun challenge to participate in. What I like about this challenge is that it gives you a lot of freedom to choose what Austenish things you want to review: books, movies, etc. To find out more about the rules or to participate yourself just click here. The deadline to enter is July 15th, so you better hurry! I've decided to mix my pile up a bit. I'll be choosing two novels written by Jane Austen, I'm choosing two that I'm not as familiar with. Two of my favorite Jane Austen movies and two Austen-themed books. These are my choses for now, as the contest goes on I may change things around a bit.

Books by Jane Austen
Persuasion (Updated 08/18/09)

Movies based on books
Emma
Sense & Sensibility

Austen-themed books
Enthusiasm (Updated 08/18/09)

Retro Friday Review: The Face on the Milk Carton

"No one ever really paid close attention to the faces of the missing children on the milk cartons. But as Janie Johnson glanced at the face of the ordinary little girl with her hair in tight pigtails, wearing a dress with a narrow white collar--a three-year-old who had been kidnapped twelve years before from a shopping mall in New Jersey--she felt overcome with shock. She recognized that little girl--it was she. How could it possibly be true? Janie can't believe that her loving parents kidnapped her, but as she begins to piece things together, nothing makes sense. Something is terribly wrong. Are Mr. and Mrs. Johnson really Janie's parents? And if not, who is Janie Johnson, and what really happened?"


For this edition of Retro Friday I decided to go with an old favorite, The Face on the Milk Carton. Like last week, this was one that I read in middle school and fell in love with and is one few books that I actually remember almost everything about it. It’s been years since I’ve read it but I can still picture Janie Johnson sitting in the lunchroom cafeteria as she recognizes her very own face on the back of a milk carton! What a shock that must have been. This was a great mystery novel, as Janie tries to uncover the truth of her identity and possible reconnect with her biological family. Of course there is a little romantic story going on with the very handsome boy-next-door, Reeve.


I don’t remember the other books in the series as well, but I found a nice surprise last night as I was preparing for this post I realized that there is actually a fourth book in this series, I always thought it was a trilogy. In part two, “Whatever Happened to Janie?” Janie is reunited with her biological family and is trying to come to terms with her past. Growing up as a only child with everything she needs and then being thrown into a small home with seven people is quite a shock on Janie.



In the third installment, “The Voice on the Radio,” Janie’s life is starting to settle down as she figures out who she is. Her boyfriend Reeve has gone away to college and she decides to go for a surprise visit. When she arrives she finds out he has been telling her personal story over at the local radio station. This brings some unwanted attention her way and the calm life she was wanting is once again shaken.



And lastly, “What Janie Found,” in this final book we finally come face to face with Janie’s kidnapper, Hannah. Hopefully, Janie will be able to finally get some closure on her past and look forward to a birght future with Reeve and two families that love her. I have requested a copy from my local library and am excited to get my hands on a copy. This is a fun series, very creative and I would recommend it to everyone.




Other Retro Friday Reviews

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Princess of the Sword by Lynn Kurland

Kathy previously reviewed this book in March of this year but I have more to say on this book so I hope you won't mind the repetition. The other two books in this series were such fun reads and I was excited for the conclusion. Sadly, like a lot of books I read, this book was in need of a good editor. There was a glut of characters and locations that meant nothing to me. So much so that when characters died or had bad things happen to them I couldn't have cared less! I can sum up the book in the following: Miach and Morgan were tired, they love each other, they are camping, they sneak away from each other, they look/steal spells. This sequence is replayed over and over throughout the book. Once the action was over and the well was closed the book drug on for 3 more chapters and even the epilogue, which should be short, sweet, and tie up all the loose ends, was drawn out and Kurland seemed to want to just keep telling the story. Morgan's character annoyed me because Kurland spent so much time telling us how tough she is only for Morgan to continually fall apart at stupid things, like the fact she can do magic. I wanted to yell, "get over it Morgan you've known you could do magic for 2 books now!" A notable bright spot is Miach's character. I must confess that I have a huge crush on him! He reminded me of Gregory Peck in The Big Country. The Big Country is a western that you should rent tonight if you have never seen it. Miach is a kick butt guy that never has to prove himself to anyone and I was super attracted to his cool confidence. His character really made this book worth it to me.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

"Bod is an unusual boy who inhabits an unusual place-he's the only living resident of a graveyard. Raised from infancy by the ghosts, werewolves, and other cemetery denizens, Bod has learned the antiquated customs of his guardians' time as well as their timely ghostly teachings-like the ability to Fade. Can a boy raised by ghosts face the wonders and terrors of the worlds of both the living and the dead? And then there are things like ghouls that aren't really one thing or the other. " -GoodReads

This was a fun, creative book. I really enjoyed the story and getting to know Nobody Owens. Since he is raised by ghosts from all different times he is able to gain a very eclectic education. He is full of curiosity and is constantly getting himself into trouble. The story fallows Bod as a baby into his teens. It was fun watching Bod grow up and I was sad when the story ended. Silas, his guardian, was an interesting character and you’re always wondering just what is going on under the surface. Although the book has a satisfying ending, it would be fun to have a sequel and see what new adventures Bod gets into. I think this is a book both kids and adults would enjoy.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Breathing by Cheryl Renee Herbsman

"What if the guy who took your breath away was the only one who could help you breathe? Savannah would be happy to spend the summer in her coastal Carolina town lying in a hammock reading her beloved romance novels and working at the library. But then she meets Jackson. Once they lock eyes, she’s convinced he’s the one—her true love, her soul mate, a boy different from all the rest. And at first it looks like Savannah is right. Jackson abides by her mama’s strict rules, and stays by her side during a hospitalization for severe asthma, which Savannah becomes convinced is only improving because Jackson is there. But when he’s called away to help his family—and seems uncertain about returning—Savannah has to learn to breathe on her own, both literally and figuratively." -GoodReads

About twenty pages into this one I just about gave up. This book takes place in North Carolina and was written entirely in the first person, from Savannah’s perspective. Since it takes place in the south the entire book is written in deep Southern drawl, which was a bit annoying at first. Although Savannah is supposed to be very well read, top of her class, she ends up coming across a little dumb. Luckily I didn’t give up and I pushed through and got to where I didn’t really notice the Southern drawl as much. There is just something about Savannah that is very endearing and Jackson is just a sweetheart. You could feel that they had something special and it was a nice romantic tale. This was a fun summer read, and aside from a bit of swearing (mostly d’s and s’s) it was a really clean book. I would recommend this book to others.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Taken by Storm by Angela Morrison

"Leesie Hunt has many rules: No kissing. No sex. No dating outside the Mormon faith. When Michael Walden—a deep-sea diver who lost his parents in a violent hurricane—arrives in town, Leesie sees someone who needs her. They fall for one another, even though his dreams are tied to the depths of the ocean and hers to salvation above. Will their intense chemistry be too strong to resist? Leesie and Michael must make the hardest choice of their lives: whether to follow their beliefs or their hearts." -GoodReads

I really enjoyed this book. It was extremely well written and I was totally absorbed in the story of Leesie and Michael. They have amazing chemistry together, which is very evident throughout the story. Their relationship has several ups and downs and you’re rooting for them to figure out a way to be together (not meaning sex, but a real relationship). Although Michael doesn’t understand her beliefs he cares for her and tries to respect them. The majority of the story is told from Michael’s “dive book” and you can’t help but feel the pain he is suffering from the tragic loss of his parents. He makes some mistakes along the way, but finally learns how to let go of his guilt and find a fresh path for himself. I’m not sure I’m pleased with how the book ends, they both have achieved certain dreams/goals and overall I’m happy with the choices they make. I’m hoping there is a sequel, although it feels like it is more of a stand-alone novel. A great novel that I think everyone would enjoy!

Other Reviews:

Saturday, July 4, 2009

The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan

"All year the half-bloods have been preparing for battle against the Titans, knowing the odds of victory are grim. Kronos's army is stronger than ever, and with every god and half-blood he recruits, the evil Titan's power only grows. While the Olympians struggle to contain the rampaging monster Typhon, Kronos begins his advance on New York City, where Mount Olympus stands virtually unguarded. Now it's up to Percy Jackson and an army of young demigods to stop the Lord of Time." -GoodReads

This is the last book in the Percy Jackson & the Olympian saga, and definitely one of the best. Rick Riordan is a very consistent author. The characters grow and face new challenges in each book and yet they remain the same loveable characters that we met in The Lightning Thief. Percy is a great hero and he faces each new obstacle with unwavering bravery. Along for the ride are his two closest friends Annabeth and Grover. Different characters and events from the four previous books are cleverly woven into the story and reminded me of how much I enjoyed this entire series. It was sad to have it come to the end but I felt hopeful reading the Acknowledgment page at the end of the book where Riordan says, “As the first Camp Half-blood series draws to a close…”, which makes me think there will be another series down the road. Hopefully we will be reunited with Percy, Annabeth and some of our other favorite characters along the way. Definitely a fun and entertaining series for both the young and young at heart.

Book One: The Lightning Thief
Book Two: The Sea of Monsters
Book Three: The Titan's Curse
Book Five: The Last Olympian

Friday, July 3, 2009

Retro Friday Review: Summer of the Monkeys

Angieville has started a fun new feature called Retro Fridays. To read more about this click here. I thought this was a very fun idea and think I will copy her. I must have been born reading a book. Growing up I have fond memories of going to the library or the book store and having my Mom tell me I could pick out whatever I wanted, then eagerly returning home to curl up on our living room couch to read for hours. I only wish GoodReads had been around back then so I could actually remember all the books I had read. There are a few gems that have stuck with me throughout the years and Retro Fridays will be a great opportunity to return to those treasures and share them with everyone.

Summer of the Monkeys by Wilson Rawls (first published 1992)
To kick things off I decided I would write about an old favorite, Summer of the Monkeys. I think the title and cover art is probably what drew me to the book in the first place. I am a big animal lover and the thought of spending a summer with monkeys seemed like a dream. This is one of those books that pop into mind every now and again bringing me back to the beautiful Ozark Mountains and the wonderful Lee family. Jay is only 14 years old when he learns that a bunch of circus monkeys have escaped and the circus is offering a reward for their return. Jay could sure use that money and decides he wants to try and capture the monkeys with the help of his Grandfather. The monkeys turn out to be a lot more trouble than he realizes, and he is soon faced with another challenge--whether to keep the reward money for himself or use it to help his crippled sister, Daisy, get a surgery she desperately needs.

I just love this book, it truly is a classic. It transports you into another time and you can feel the adventure of trying to catch monkeys, the hot summer days and the turmoil going on within little Jay. A great summer read and one that everyone would enjoy.
 
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