Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Serafina and the Psycho Sous-Chef (Serafina's, #4) by Marie Treanor

Serafina and the Psycho Sous-Chef (Serafina's, #4)
If you like the other books in the Serafina series, you will enjoy this one as well. This book features Linnie, who has no memory past a month before who is living in a house that is being investigated by Serafina's because it is haunted and when Sera discovers during the investigation that Linnie is also linked to a missing child case that she is working on and learns that her vampire friend Phil recently rescued Linnie from some unscrupulous men, having recognized her from seeing her photo in a mysterious lab where he was brought when he was kidnapped, the mystery is only beginning. Toss in a psycho Sous-Chef, who I imagine will be featured in the next book in the series along with a torrid and unusual romance between Linnie and Phil and a few glimpses of the mysterious founder and you have another fantastic book in this funny and sexy mystery series. I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Mind Games (Mindjack Origins #1) by Susan Kaye Quinn

Mind Games (Mindjack Origins, #1)
This is a very, very, very short story. In fact, that sentence was almost longer than the story. I really don't think it is worth paying for. It is like a short chapter in a book. If you like the Mindjack series, you will enjoy this short story about Raf and how he has had a crush on Kira for a long time. But it is a very short "story". I received this book free to review from Netgalley.                  

The Darkling by R.B. Chesterton

The Darkling
This is a classic scary horror story like people would tell around the campfire. Twenty one year old Mimi is a governess for a wealthy family and things are going well until the family takes in Annie, a 16 year old orphan with amnesia. Shortly after her arrival, the family's own 16 year old daughter, Margo, disappears. Mimi sees a strange creature and finds claw marks and is convinced that Annie is evil and is behind all of the bad things that begin happening once she arrives. I did not really like Mimi's character very much. I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

City of the Sun by Juliana Maio

City of the Sun
Set in Cairo in 1941, this is a historical romance war novel. The romance blooms between Maya and Mickey, who are both hiding the truth about their identities for different reasons. Maya is a Jewish refugee who is trying to get to Palestine with her father and her brother. Mickey is an American journalist who is hired as a spy to find a Jewish scientist and while his job starts out interesting, it later becomes dangerous and deadly. To me, the book started out really slow and I had a hard time getting into it. I did find the historical facts about Egypt during that time period interesting and I enjoyed the romance. I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Wednesdays in the Tower (Castle Glower #2) by Jessica Day George

Wednesdays in the Tower by Jessica Day GeorgeI would have given this book 5 stars, because it is a great book, but it is a short book that ends with a cliffhanger. I do not like that. It would be better to just write the whole thing as one book than to end a book like that. Really annoying.
So, in this book, Princess Celie is entrusted with an egg by the castle which prevents others from knowing about it. When it hatches into a griffen, which Celie cares for, the castle hides it as well from most people. As Celie and her brother Bran and their friend Pogue try to figure out what griffens have to do with the castle, the mystery unfolds and they try to avoid the evil seeming magician Arkwright. Lovely book, great story, ends in dreadful cliffhanger.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Book of Maggie Bradstreet by Gretchen Gibbs

The Book of Maggie Bradstreet by Gretchen Gibbs
This is a well written historical novel set near Salem during the witch trials. Based on truth, this fiction story tells the tale of 13 year old Maggie Bradstreet, who tells her story of her life during the infamous witch trials. The story is riveting and I could not put it down. I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Everyone Prays: Celebrating Faith Around the World by Alexis York Lumbard ( Author), Alireza Sadeghian (Illustrator)

Everyone Prays: Celebrating Faith Around the World
This is a nice, inclusive book about religion for young children.  It shows people who participate in a wide variety of religions praying from Jews, Christians and Muslims, to Buddhists, Maasai, and Native Americans.  I like that the book is very multi-cultural and accepting of all religions, but, by stating that "everyone" prays, it leaves out the children who are raised in households that do not pray.  It might be more inclusive if it said something like many people pray. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Bullying Under Attack: True Stories Written by Teen Victims, Bullies + Bystanders by John Meyer (Editor), Emily Sperber, Heather Alexander, Stephanie H. Meyer

Bullying Under Attack: True Stories Written by Teen Victims, Bullies + Bystanders
This is a collection of stories, poems, photos and drawings by teens who were bullied, or were bystanders or who were bullies themselves. The stories are eye-opening, touching and some are heartbreaking. I think it is a good book for teens and middle school children to read all or parts of. I substitute teach and the school district where I teach has anti-bullying programs in place in all levels of the schools. However, I am not sure how effective they are since I still see lots of bullying going on. And yes, I step in to stop things when I can, but it is obviously a systemic, ongoing problem. I hope that this book can help to encourage teens who are bullied to take hope and to encourage the bystanders to take action and encourage the bullies to quit bullying. I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Patience With God: Faith for People Who Don't Like Religion (or Atheism) by Frank Schaeffer

Patience With God by Frank Schaeffer
Ok, this book is totally NOT what I was expecting. I mean, look at the title - Patience With God: Faith for People Who Don't Like Religion (or Atheism). So, I was thinking the book would be about faith for people who are uncomfortable with religion, but who are not atheists either - but really, this book is a diatribe by the author against people and views that he disagrees with. He gripes about the "new atheists", Bill Maher, Dawkins, Hitchens, Rick Warren, and the "Left Behind" series in the first part of the book. That was totally not what I was looking for and I quit reading all the griping after a little while. I did look and see that the second part of the book is what the author is calling a "memoir-and memory with a touch of essay". I skimmed through it and he discusses Reformed theology, evangelical/fundamentalist missionaries, Dawkins again, more griping about evangelical/fundamentalist beliefs, Darwin, Higgins again and his family. I did not find the book to be helpful or useful or interesting and I think it has nothing to do with the title.

Progeny by Anita Bihovsky

Progeny by Anita Bihovsky
Fascinating concept, intriguing medical mystery with some unexpected plot twists. I enjoyed the story and the concept behind it although I was not totally thrilled with the writing itself. However, as the author's first full-length novel, it is quite good. In this book, Selene's dying mother confesses that she is not Selene's biological mother, having had an IVF procedure done. Selene then goes on a search to find out who her biological mother/egg donor is and discovers a shocking mystery which has far more repercussions than just Selene's parentage. Assisted by Deandra, a pediatrician who is looking for files from the same doctor who performed her IVF and Max, a handsome PI hired by Deandra, there is romance, mystery, scandal and more in this fast paced novel. I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Shapes in Math, Science and Nature: Squares, Triangles and Circles by Catherine Sheldrick Ross, Bill Slavin

Shapes in Math, Science and Nature: Squares, Triangles and Circles

Covering math, science and physics, this book should appeal to and be useful for the upper elementary school grades through high school. It explores shapes and how they are found in nature and in mythology, and mathematical formulas and includes how to make paper shapes, origami and more. From the Sydney Opera House to Stonehenge, pyramids to igloos this book has lots of fun experiments, math problems and activities all relating to shapes. I like the book but and think that it can be useful in schools and for homeschooling as well. I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Stone Soup with Matzoh Balls A Passover Tale in Chelm by Linda Glaser, Maryam Tabatabaei

With lovely illustrations, this is the tale of stone soup put into the setting of the town of Chelm, a fictional town of fools from Jewish folklore. In this story it is Passover and the stone soup is stone matzoh ball soup, but otherwise follows the traditional stone soup story. I think this is a fun story for children for Passover and a very cute book. I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Jacob's New Dress by Sarah Hoffman, Ian Hoffman, Chris Case

This is a well-written, beautifully illustrated book about a boy who liked to wear dresses. I love that his parents, even though they were not sure if they should let him wear a dress to school, supported him and his mother even helped him to sew his own dress. I think that this is a great book for children to read and to learn that it is ok to dress the way they want to. It helps children learn to accept one another and themselves. I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

What Can You Do with Only One Shoe?: Reuse, Recycle, Reinvent by Simon Shapiro, Sheryl Shapiro, Francis Blake

What Can You Do with Only One Shoe?: Reuse, Recycle, Reinvent
I love this book! It has photos of recycled objects, like a toilet used as a planter filled with flowers and a bicycle made into a sculpture of a dog combined with funny poems about the objects, and funny drawings as well. This book would be fun to use in a preschool or elementary school art class when making art from recycled objects or to read to kids when studying recycling or even as part of a poetry unit. I love the poems - they are great! I think that older children and adults will enjoy it too. I received this book free to review from Netgalley and I highly recommend it!

Sammy Spider's First Passover by Sylvia A. Rouss, Illustrated by Katherine Janus Kahn

Sammy Spider's First Passover
Cute book for young children about shapes and about Passover. Nice, colorful illustrations and colorful shapes illustrate this story about Sammy, a young spider who learns how to spin a web while watching a family observe Passover. I received this book free to review from Netgalley.                  

Do your laundry or you'll die alone by Becky Blades

Do Your Laundry or You'll Die Alone
Lovely little book of advice for college students. Would make a great gift for a high school graduate. Nice illustrations, pithy advice and real advice given by a mom to her daughter. I received this book free to review from Netgalley as a digital book. I think it would be best given as a gift in the paper book form. If you are looking for a fun graduation gift, this is it!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Dead Beautiful by Yvonne Woon

Dead Beautiful by Yvonne Woon
Bella - I mean Renee, is 16 years old and Edward, I mean Dante, is 17. When Bella's parents die on her 16th birthday and she finds their bodies, her life changes and she eventually realizes that their death was no accident. Her grandfather sends her to a rather creepy boarding school where she meets Dante, who is not a vampire. Really. What he is though, is what she must discover. While the relationship between Renee and Dante certainly had many shades of Bella and Edward, the story is much better - better writing and the story shows more intelligence - what with the Latin and all. I think it is a great teen paranormal romance and I look forward to reading the next two books - I already put them on hold from the library. I received this book free to review from Netgalley and I highly recommend it.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
Beautiful writing, ugly topic. I totally loved the first part of this book. It begins briefly near the end, then flashes back to when Theo Decker is 13 years old and his mother dies in a terrorist explosion in the Metropolitan Museum . That tragedy leads him to a friendship with an antique furniture restorer and to the possession of a small, but famous painting called The Goldfinch. After his mother's death, he lives with the family of a friend for a while and then has to go live with his alcoholic father in Las Vegas where he befriends Boris, a Russian/Ukrainian boy whose father is also an alcoholic. During his time with his father and Boris, Theo does lots of drugs and the drug use continues throughout the book. The writing in many places is beautifully descriptive like this part - "And the flavor of Pippa's kiss - bittersweet and strange - stayed with me all the way back uptown, swaying and sleepy as I sailed home on the bus, melting with sorrow and loveliness, a starry ache that lifted me up above the windswept city like a kite: my head in the rainclouds, my heart in the sky." There are fantastic descriptions and details, phrases in Spanish, Russian, German and perhaps Ukrainian, lovely descriptions of how to restore antique furniture and long, drawn out descriptions of how Theo felt on drugs. The drug thing got to be too much for me and I began skimming those parts because once I had read more than one description of his scattered, drugged-out thoughts, I pretty much have read enough of that. There is action, plot twists and romance.  There are wonderful themes in the book, of friendship, love, and fate. The writing is richly descriptive and a joy to read.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Knitting for Peace: Make the World a Better Place One Stitch at a Time by Betty Christiansen

Knitting for Peace by Betty Christiansen

This book is truly inspiring and very touching. The author tells the history of wartime knitting and showcases 28 charitable knitting organizations. Some groups donate knitted items to others, like blankets, and hats for babies in hospitals, hats and blankets for poor people who live in cold areas, stuffed animals for children, and shawls and blankets to go to people in old folks homes, homeless shelters and other places. Other groups are those that make and sell their knitted items bringing much needed income to women in poor or war-torn countries. There is even a prison knitting program mentioned in which prisoners knit items to give to charities thus helping them to help others. The book includes links to each group and knitting patterns for some of the items that some groups accept as donations. I was very inspired and it made me wish that I was a better knitter. I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
Written in lyrical beautiful prose, this book is haunting and disturbing, lovely and wonderful. Fourteen year old Susie Salmon has been raped and murdered and she tells her story from her version of heaven where she can watch her family, loved ones and murderer and see what happens to each of them in the aftermath of her death. She sees how her father knows who her murderer is, but without evidence, the police can do nothing. Her father cannot let it rest and together with Susie's sister, plans to get the evidence needed. I love the writing and the imaginative view of heaven. Fantastic book!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Cricket Cove (Firefly Hollow, #5) by T.L. Haddix

Cricket Cove by T.L. Haddix
This 5th book in the series follows the romance and drama of the relationship between Amelia and Logan. Both are shape shifters, both have been hurt in the past and they are strongly attracted to one another. Their relationship almost ends before it begins, however, when Logan tries to deny his feelings for Amelia with some angry words that, unbeknownst to him, she overhears. When her friend's abusive husband begins stalking her, Amelia knows that she is in trouble. Full of drama, angst and steamy romance, if you enjoyed the other books in this series, you will love this one as well. I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Poison by Bridget Zinn

This is just a lovely little YA fantasy/romance. It is lighthearted and magical and the main character is a feisty, strong 16 year old girl. Kyra is a potions master, who, after having tried and failed to kill her best friend, the princess, is on the run and is still trying to figure out a way to kill the princess. Armed with a magical piglet and a handsome, and rather bothersome sidekick, Kyra sets off to save the kingdom from the now evil princess. I totally loved this story and highly recommend it. I chose this book to read because it is a Texas Bluebonnet Award winner.  I was very sad to learn that the author has  passed away at a young age due to cancer.

Cattail Ridge (Firefly Hollow, #4) by T. L. Haddix

Cattail Ridge by T.L. Haddix
Like the other books in this series, this story is a well-written romance with some paranormal overshades. This book tells the story of the romance of Emma and Archer. Emma is a single mother afraid to trust any man after the father of her child treated her so badly. Archer, who barely survived being shot by his first wife, has trust issues himself, but he loves Emma and her daughter Sydney, but knows that he needs to take things slowly with them for Emma's sake. Lots of drama and romance abound in this book. If you enjoyed the other books by this author, you will enjoy this one as well. I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Outcast by Aileen Fish

It's Dec. 21, 2012, a fact that we don't learn until later.  Nikki is trapped in her apartment after a massive earthquake and is rescued by JC, a guy who used to bully her when they were in high school.  His family has been killed and she and JC travel together along with a friend of his in this now post-not-quite-apocalyptic world.  There are earthquakes, tsunamis, meteor strikes, the possibility of aliens, doomsday preppers, superpowers like the ability to talk to ghosts and superhuman strength, Mayan prophesies and Anasazi Indians from another time period. In a "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" like way, JC is mysteriously pulled to go over the mountains. I found myself looking back repeatedly to see if I had missed some details and nope - they just are not there.  The characters are not well fleshed out and the lack of description and details makes the book rather jumpy and confusing.  It sounds interesting, but is really lacking in details and descriptions.  I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu

The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu
Alice is a victim of the teen rumor mill in a small town. According to the rumors, Alice is a slut who slept with two guys in one night at a party and was later responsible for the death of the high school quarterback, one of the guys she had slept with. The characters are very stereotypical and the story is told by several of them. As each one tells their experiences, we quickly learn that Alice is not guilty of the things she is accused of and we learn why each lie was told. It is a sad story of bullying via the rumor mill.
I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
Ok, so this it totally my very favoritest Rainbow Rowell book yet!
It is 1999, but 28 year old Lincoln is NOT partying. Instead, he is living with his mother again, still mourning the loss of his first and only love, his high school girlfriend, and working at a newspaper as an internet "security officer". To his dismay, the "security" that he does, is reading flagged interoffice e-mails. In doing so, he becomes caught up in the e-mails between two of the newspaper employees, Jennifer and Beth. He follows their e-mails like a soap opera and falls in love with Beth even though he has never seen her. The story is intriguing and romantic and totally awesome! And finally, Rainbow Rowell ended a book with an actual ending instead of just leaving the reader hanging wondering what happened. I received this book free to review from Netgalley and I highly recommend it!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The World Outside by Eva Wiseman

The World Outside by Eva Wiseman
Fascinating and captivating story. Chanie, a senior in high school, is a Lubavitcher Hasidic girl in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, New York, in 1991. In this book, we learn about the riots during that time there, the extreme fundamentalism of the Hasidic Jewish community and see how Chanie struggled with her love of music and singing and a young man while those things were forbidden to the Hassidic Jews. A coming of age story with romance, rebellion, family and religion playing large parts. I received this book free to review from Netgalley and I highly recommend it.