Monday, June 30, 2014

Breaking Twig by Deborah Epperson

Breaking Twig
This is a heartbreaking, disturbing, and intense story of a girl who had an abusive mother and was abused by others in her life. The story is well written and captivating although many of the characters and situations are very unlikable and disturbing. 

Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier

The Night Gardener
Wonderfully unique, imaginative, and creepy fantasy for kids! I totally loved this story and had a tough time putting it down. Just a totally fabulous story! When 14 year old Molly, and her 10 year old brother, Kip, who has a crippled leg, take a job at a creepy house in the sourwoods to avoid being put into the orphanage, they have no idea just what they are getting into. Why is the family wasting away? Who leaves the mysterious muddy footprints? What is behind the green door? I enjoyed this author's first book, "Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes" and I think I like this book even better. It is just absolutely, totally, completely fabulous.

Friday, June 27, 2014

The Bone Road by Mary Holland

The Bone Road by Mary  Holland
Fascinating story with a unique concept which you don't learn until the end. The first part of the book is the story of Rhona, a Wid, who goes to a lander settlement to meet a woman named Selina in order to fulfill her mother's death wish. In Rhona's story, we are introduced to the world of Deo which has three "races" of people, the Wid, the Zeosil and the Shun. And then there are the Riders who are something else altogether. The second half of the book follows the life of Aniles from birth to age fifteen. The book is totally fascinating, the world built within it is intriguing and I enjoyed it very much. I received this book free to review from Netgalley and I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Book of Lost Things (Mister Max #1) by Cynthia Voigt, Iacopo Bruno

The Book of Lost Things by Cynthia Voigt
Fun mystery for middle school kids. When 12 year old Max Sterling's parents leave their theatrical company to go to India, they are supposed to take Max with them. But, when they disappear without him and the boat that they were supposed to go on does not exist, Max and his grandmother know something is very wrong. Max decides to live in his parent's house, which is next to his grandmother's house, and get a job and live independently while they try to find out what happened to his parents. Using his own acting skills, Max gets various jobs helping people solve problems and finding lost things and people. He decides to call himself a "solutioneer" and he helps a variety of people. He finally finds clues about his parents at the end of the book which is a cliffhanger leading to the next book. I enjoyed this book very much and I think that children ages 8 to 14 and above will enjoy it as well. I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Impossible Folding Puzzles and Other Mathematical Paradoxes by Gianni A. Sarcone, Marie-Jo Waeber

Intriguing paper folding puzzles and other mathematical puzzles fill the pages of this fun-filled book. From the simple to the complex, this book contains directions and illustrations for puzzles that will astound your friends and you too! I think this book would be a fun addition to a classroom or homeschool collection. I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Umami: Unlocking the Secrets of the Fifth Taste by Ole G. Mouritsen, Klavs Styrbæk

Umami: Unlocking the Secrets of the Fifth Taste
This book goes into the "scientific" explanation/description of the "fifth taste" known as umami. It seems that MSG gives that flavor to foods among other things. I found the "scientific explanation" part of the book to be rather dull. I was not impressed with the recipes because the instructions did not make sense. For example, in Sicilian Ratatouille, one of the ingredients is 2 to 4 fresh artichokes which it says to cut into cubes. Does that refer to just the artichoke heart? Do they mean for you to cut up the whole thing? It then says that if fresh artichokes are not available, oil -preserved artichokes in a jar can be substituted, which would only be the hearts. In addition, many of the ingredients are things I have never really used or seen in a store - like salt cod or pork cracklings. I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly by Rashin

There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly

This is a cute, colorful, rather creepy version of the classic story. It is funny and I think that most children will enjoy it although younger children may find it a bit disturbing. I received this book free to review from Netgalley.                  

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Chase (Fox and O'Hare, #2) by Janet Evanovich , Lee Goldberg

The Chase by Janet Evanovich
Cute, fun, mystery/thriller/romance. Kate O'Hare, FBI agent and ex-navy seal has been secretly teamed up with Nick Fox, con-artist and thief to help the government catch bad guys. Together, they traverse the world hunting down international art thieves, and committing crimes of their own. The book is fast paced and fun and the characters are likeable - including Kate's dad and his cohorts. I received this book free to review from Netgalley and I really enjoyed it.

Friday, June 20, 2014

The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant (V, #1) by Joanna Wiebe

The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant by Joanna Wiebe
Well, that was interesting. Unexpectedly weird paranormal sort of romance with bizarreness mixed in. Anne Merchant is at a new school with very strange rules. Everyone else seems to understand the rules but her. She does not understand the race for the "big V" and wonders if this school she is in might be a reform school or perhaps a well disguised mental hospital. When she finally learns the truth, it is even more bizarre than she could have imagined. The ending of this book is rather odd, but it is apparently the first book in a trilogy so the ending must be leading into the next book. I received this book free to review from Netgalley. It is rather unique and bizarre and I look forward to reading the other books in the trilogy.

Whisper (Lakeview #2) by Stacey R. Campbell

Whisper (A Lakeview Novel, #2)
This is the second book in the Lakeview series. This book follows Halle, the younger sister of Blakely who was the main character in the first book, and Leigh, a friend of Blakely. Halle is in 8th grade and this is her first year at Lakeview Academy, a prestigious boarding school. Leigh, a friend of Blakely, is a senior and has promised to watch over Halle and help her out during the school year. While helping clean out a building that is set for remodeling, Halle finds an old diary that had been hidden under a floorboard by Elise, a girl who died the first year the school opened and who has been haunting it for the past hundred years or so. Leigh is drawn into the mystery along with Calum, a guy who Leigh has a hate that was once near love relationship and together with others they search for a missing gold crest that Elise apparently wants them to find. Romance and mystery abound in this 2nd novel in the boarding school series. I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Hush (A Lakeview Novel, # 1) by Stacey R. Campbell

Hush by Stacey R. Campbell
Reminiscent of "Princess Diaries", this is a story of a seventeen year old adopted girl named Blakely who has no idea that she is actually a royal heir to a fictitious country. Max, a high school senior in a journalism program finds evidence that she is a royal heir and manages to get his school to transfer him to her prestigious private school for one semester so he can investigate and find out if she is indeed who he thinks she is. Romance and murder plots, rugby and boarding school drama abound in this YA novel. This book is the first in a series. I enjoyed the book and look forward to reading the next one. I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Undone by Cat Clarke

Undone by Cat Clarke

Heartbreaking. So sad. After Jem's best friend Kai is bullied because an incriminating video of him is shared, and he commits suicide, and she is heartbroken. She is determined to follow in his footsteps until his sister delivers an envelope to her with 12 letters from him to be opened once a month. She then decides to find out who posted the video and take revenge on them. Jem is quite unlikeable as we see her thoughts as she plots revenge and carries out her plans. In the end, she is every bit as bad as whoever posted the video if not worse. The book is gripping and tragic. I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Jacob Smith is Incredibly Average by Erin Hayes

Jacob Smith is Incredibly Average by Erin Hayes
Totally fun sci-fi for kids! Thirteen year old Jacob Smith is average. He can't make the football team, can't beat his best friend at video games is bad at math and makes mostly "B"s in school. And being so perfectly average is what makes him the perfect specimen for the aliens - if they can catch him, that is. I received this book free to review from Netgalley and I absolutely loved it! It has an alien named Bob. I think kids will enjoy it too because it is just such a fun read. I highly recommend this book.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

John Dreamer (John Dreamer #1) by Elise Celine

John Dreamer
Intriguing story. Told mostly by Andy, who finds herself in a white room with six strangers and 7 very different chairs that fit the personalities of each person. Then, a man who calls himself the Guardian shows up and tells them that they are in a space of dreams in order to make their dreams come true and that they can't get out so they had better like each other. That part reminded me a bit of "No Exit" although they were not in hell. Anyway, each person's dream helps them to work through a huge problem in their life although all members who remain participate in each dream. As each member's dream is fulfilled, he or she disappears and we learn how their dream impacted their life. Until the last two - which leads on to the next book as this is set to be a trilogy. The story is rather short, but interesting and an easy read. I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Elephant in the Sky: A Novel by Heather A. Clark

Elephant in the Sky by Heather A. Clark
Nine year old Nate's mental illness and it's impact on his family is explained in this book. Based on a true story and told alternately by Nate and by his mother, Ashley, we see both Nate's thought processes and how his parents try to come to grips with the fact that there is something wrong with their beautiful child. Ashley is an overworked advertising executive and honestly, I found the first parts of the story by her about her work to be boring. The rest of the book, however, is intriguing and touching and eye opening. I think it is a good view of how a mentally ill person may be thinking and how their family can be affected. This book can be helpful to families who have one or more members affected by mental illness and to those who do not to help them to understand what it is like. I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Shucked by Megg Jensen

Shucked by Megg Jensen
This was a quick, easy, kind of fun read. The problem was the total unbelievability of the plot and one-dimensionalness of the characters. Tabitha's mom is an archaeologist and they have traveled around the world together while Tabitha is sort of homeschooled. For the past several years, Tabitha has stayed with her grandparents in the summers on their farm in Illinois. Until this year when her mom sends her a postcard telling her that she will have to stay for the school year too. The book has many bizarrely unbelievable parts. Even though it is a small town and she has been there every summer for several years, Tabitha knows no one. Her grandmother did not make her meet other kids at all so when she has to start high school, having never been to school at all in her life, she knows no one. Then, since the school requires that she either be in some sort of sport or school activity and since she is a black belt in tai-kwon-do, they make her be a cheerleader even though she has no experience or desire to be one. That part just blows my mind. Has the author not ever been to high school? Cheerleaders have to try out and be voted in. It is a highly desirable position and at least one Texas mom tried to kill a girl who was competition for her daughter's position on a cheerleading squad. There is no way a school would just stick a new kid on a cheerleading squad. Pretty much everything else in the book is exaggerated and so far out of reality that is unbelievable as well. I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Circa Now by Amber McRee Turner

Circa Now by Amber McRee Turner
Circa's dad was a photo restorer and he had been teaching her how to restore old photos and how to make what he calls "Shopt" photos, pictures that he had altered via photoshop and made up stories about. After he died delivering photos during a storm, a 13 year old boy with amnesia shows up at their house with one of the photos that he had delivered. The boy calls himself Miles and he stays with 11 year old Circa and her mom as they grieve her father's death and the area recovers from the violent storm that has destroyed many lives. While looking at the Shopt photos, Circa becomes convinced that some of the things that her father has put into the photos have become real and perhaps Miles is one of them. The story is sad and funny and touching and I think that kids will really enjoy it. I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Monday, June 9, 2014

The Forbidden Library by Django Wexler

The Forbidden Library by Django Wexler
This is a fun and intriguing fantasy for kids. The ship that Alice's father is on sinks a few days after Alice sees her father speaking to an evil fairy. Alice is sent to live with an "uncle" who she had never heard of where she learns that she is a "Reader", someone with the skill to read the magic in books and enter them. However, the books that she enters are prisons and the only way out is to kill the prisoners. In the magical library filled with talking cats and moving shelves and books leaking magic, Alice must fight to save herself. The concepts in the book are rather unique and intriguing and there are plot twists and surprises. I found the ending rather unsatisfactory though. It seems to be set up to be the beginning of a series although that is not stated. I enjoyed the book and I think others will too.

Nihal of the Land of the Wind (Chronicles of the Overworld, 1) by Licia Troisi

Nihal of the Land of the WindThis story has potential, but it is poorly translated and poorly edited. I received this book free to review from Netgalley and I was struck by how awkward the wording was. In many places, the words just read wrong. When I looked up the book and found that it was originally written in Italian and this is the author's first book to be translated into English, that seemed to explain the odd wording. It is also, however, poorly edited as well. I highly suggest that if the author is to have any more books translated into English that she hire a better translator, one who is also an author who can chose better wording. In addition, the world building in the book is incomplete. Nihal lives in the Land of the Wind in the Overworld which is threatened by an evil sorcerer known only as the Tyrant. The distinction between the Overworld and the Underworld is never explained, and the worldbuilding lacks enough details to make it seem understandable and real. I did like Nihal's character - she is a strong female warrior who displays weaknesses as well as strengths, but even so, in some ways her character felt flat and unrealistic. If the editing and translation had been better, I would have given this book a 3 star rating because it is interesting. This book is the first book in a series and ends with a cliffhanger. I would like to read the next book in the series, but I do hope that the translation and editing will be better.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Knitalong: Celebrating the Tradition of Knitting Together by Larissa Brown, Martin John Brown

Knitalong by Larissa Brown
Lovely, inspiring book about knitalongs - groups of people all knitting the same pattern at the same time or just knitting together. The book discusses the history of knitalongs, wartime knitting, and internet based knitalongs and has several knitting patterns. There is knitting for others, for charity, for art, in cafes knitting blogs, as a part of challenges and more. I enjoyed the book, but to me, the patterns seemed rather difficult. I am trying the sock pattern and will see how I do with it. I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Getting Waisted: A Survival Guide to Being Fat in a Society That Loves Thin by Monica Parker

Getting Waisted by Monica  Parker
This is a really funny, honest, funny memoir. Monica tells her story of her life, centered around her weight struggles and self-image issues. I think that many women will relate to her struggles and enjoy her sense of humor about it. She is an actress and comedian and shares stories about her family, about living in Beverly Hills and more. In the end, it sounds like she has realized that everyone has issues and that obsessing over your weight by going from fad diet to fad diet does much more harm than good. I received this book free to review from Netgalley. I enjoyed it very much and I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover

Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover
This is a sad and touching romance with several plot twists. The story is captivating and the characters are likable and the book is well written. If you enjoy this authors' other books, you will enjoy this one as well.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Silver Bay by Jojo Moyes

Silver Bay
This is a lovely story set in Silver Bay, Australia, a slow, seaside town with a whale and dolphin watching trade. Kathleen owns the only hotel there and her neice Liza and Liza's 11 year old daughter, Hannah live with her and help her run the hotel and Liza has her own whale watching boat. Mike is a property developer from England who is sent to Silver Bay to sell the town on allowing his company to develop a resort there. The more time he spends there, however, the more he comes to love the town, the wildlife, and the people - especially Liza, who has a troubled past. It took me a while to get into the book, but once I did, I really enjoyed it. The writing is lovely and the story becomes intriguing. It made me want to go see whales and dolphins and I really liked the characters. I received this book free to review from Netgalley and I highly recommend it!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Dreams of Gods & Monsters (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, #3) by Laini Taylor

Dreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Taylor
To be honest, I found this book to be rather long and a bit confusing. I kept trying to figure out who Eliza was. Had she been introduced in a previous book and I forgot about her? The whole Eliza and the Stelians parts were a bit confusing and rambley seeming. I did enjoy the parts with Mik and Zuzana and of course Akiva and Karou and there were some other fun twists too. Decent ending to a good trilogy.