Friday, October 31, 2014

The Olive Tree by Elsa Marston, Claire Ewart

The Olive Tree by Elsa Marston
Set in Lebanon, this story has lovely illustrations and teaches a lesson about being friendly and helpful. When Sameer's neighbors return to their home after being gone for many years due to "troubles" in the country, he hopes that they will have a son who he can be friends with. Instead, they have an unfriendly daughter who tells him that the wonderful olives that fall off of the tree that grows in her yard, but overhangs into his yard belong to her family only. Then, lightening strikes the tree and though the adults walk away sadly, the children finally find a way to share and become friends. I received this book free to review from Netgalley and I highly recommend it.

Thoughtful Gardening: Practical Gardening in Harmony with Nature by Ed Ikin

Thoughtful Gardening: Practical Gardening in Harmony with Nature

This book contains very good gardening advice with thoughtful explanations on a variety of gardening topics from soil and water to compost, planting systems, gentle insecticides and more. I have found a lot of the advice in this book very useful to me in caring for my own backyard vegetable garden. I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Imitation by Heather Hildenbrand

Imitation by Heather Hildenbrand

This is a young adult paranormal romance. Ven is an Imitation, a clone, who has been raised in a laboratory building along with other clones of rich, important people. The clones are taught that they are products, inferior to humans, whose only purpose is to serve. When Ven is taken away and assigned to pretend to be Raven, the authentic who she was cloned from, she learns that she is meant to be a decoy, a target. She meets Linc, a cute and caring bodyguard who of course, falls in love with her. Together, along with others, they learn about the real purpose for the Imitations and it is sinister. The story ends with a huge cliffhanger. The world building seemed rather incomplete as the cloning process was not described well, and the character development was also lacking. The book was well written and well edited. I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Every Ugly Word by Aimee L. Salter

Every Ugly Word by Aimee L. Salter
This is a very raw and emotional look at the effect of bullying on a teenage girl put into an interesting paranormalish type of perspective. The story is told by Ashley, who is in a mental institution, hoping to be released if she cooperates with her psychologist and tells him what happened to her. She tells about being bullied in high school, and how she expressed herself through her artwork. She tells about Matt, another art student, her best friend who she has a secret crush on, and about how she speaks with her "older self" in the mirror. Her older self gives her advice, but she does not always follow it and she does not trust her older self because she knows that she is not telling her everything. The book is captivating and the story is compelling. I read it all in one day. I received this book free to review from Netgalley and I highly recommend it.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Once Upon a Time: New Fairy Tales Paula Guran (editor)

Once Upon a Time by Paula Guran
This is a collection of short stories that are fairy tales, mostly based upon older stories. While I did like some of the stories - very much - there were more that I did not enjoy than there were that I enjoyed. My favorites were the stories "Castle of Masks", "The Giant in Repose", and Blanchefleur". They are original and unique and interesting fairy tale like stories. I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle #3) by Maggie Stiefvater

Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle, #3)
Such a fabulous book! I totally love the author's writing style in this series - it is just beautifully descriptive. The story has mystery, romance, magic and lots of humor. Now that Blue's mother, Maura, has disappeared, Lily and her Raven boys, Gansey, Adam, Ronan and Noah, along with Mr. Gray, the hit man who is her mother's boyfriend, are searching caves for her and for the three sleepers, one of whom, should not be woken and one of whom is Glendower, the king. They find a cave on a farm in an old tower that the farmer says is cursed and within it they find a grave containing Gwelliian, one of Glendower's daughters who was buried there 600 years ago but did not sleep. She is a witch and is rather insane from lack of sleep among other things. The friendship among Lily and the boys is a big part of the story as is the forbidden love between Blue and Gansey. Many of the adult characters are also fleshed out more in this book and I enjoyed that the author managed to make the hit man a likeable person. This book is just so fantastic and wonderful! I am looking forward to the next book. I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Orchard of Hope (The Orphanage of Miracles, #2) by Amy Neftzger

The Orchard of Hope by Amy Neftzger

In this second book in the series, Kelsey is off on an adventure to save hope. The king has sent her with two travelling companions; Roland, who is death and appears as a fox to Kelsey, and Maggie, a girl with no apparent talent who is unable to see or hear Roland. As they travel to the orchard of hope to try to save it from being eaten by the wolves, Nicholas is being trained in sorcery by a scatterbrained magician named Moss and Newton, a gargoyle who Moss has brought to life. Both parties are occasionally assisted by Megan, the wise healer who is also a leopard. Rather a mix of parable and fantasy, this is an excellent story although it does end with a rather steep cliffhanger. I received this book free to review from Netgalley and I highly recommend it.

Friday, October 17, 2014

What Einstein Didn't Know: Scientific Answers to Everyday Questions by Robert L. Wolke

What Einstein Didn't Know by Robert L. Wolke
This is a well-written book with simple easy to understand explanations of the science behind every day things. It is a cornucopia of scientific trivia written in a way that most people can understand including facts about things like why and how iron is added to food, the science behind espresso, what blurping is and what causes it, why flames are different colors and more. There are many explanation about how chemistry works in our everyday lives in things like soda, rubber, styrofoam, auto glass, prestressed concrete, rust, and antifreeze. Thre is information about natural events as well like ocean breezes and waves, and the greenhouse effect and more. I received this book free to review from Netgalley and I highly recommend it.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Lagasse Girls' Big Flavor, Bold Taste--and No Gluten!: 100 Gluten-Free Recipes from EJ's Fried Chicken to Momma's Strawberry Shortcake by Jilly Lagasse, Jessie Lagasse Swanson

The Lagasse Girls' Big Flavor, Bold Taste--and No Gluten! by Jilly Lagasse
I like that this cookbook, as they state, uses ingredients that you can actually find in the grocery store like Arrowhead Mills Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Mix. The recipes are well written and look yummy, but many of them seem very labor intensive. This is gluten free gourmet cooking. And if that is what you are looking for, you will enjoy the recipes in this cookbook. I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Since You've Been Gone by Mary Jennifer Payne

Since You've Been Gone by Mary Jennifer Payne
Intriguing, sad and touching, this is a story about how domestic abuse can affect young people. For years, Edie and her mother have been on the run, leaving as soon as her father catches up with them. When they go from Canada to London, they think they have outrun him, but then, Edie's mother disappears. Assisted by Jermaine, a classmate who Edie has inadvertently gotten into trouble, Edie searches for her mother and tries to avoid being caught. The book is a fast paced quick read. I received it free to review from Netgalley.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Spellbound and Determined by Dax Varley

Spellbound and Determined by Dax Varley
This is a very cute, fun, lighthearted YA paranormal romance. After a strange man comes into Cam's grandmother Mimi's new age magic shop, she finds that he has dropped an ancient spell for power supreme. Deciding that power supreme would help her high school GPA, Cam enlists the help of her best friend, Reade, and Zach, the smartest boy in school to find the bizarre ingredients needed for the spell. As Reade pursues wacky ways to get the new boy Troy to fall in love with her and magic shop customers buy items to try to make things go the way they want, Cam studies Shakespeare with Zach and Mimi finds a love interest who is a fantastic cook. Meanwhile, the strange man who dropped the spell seems to be following Cam and her friends as they procure the spell's ingredients. I received this book free to review from Netgalley and I enjoyed it and highly recommend it.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Girl, the Gold Tooth and Everything by Francine LaSala

The Girl, the Gold Tooth and Everything
This book starts out kind of slow and confusing, partly because the main character, Mina, is confused because she is suffering from amnesia and is not real clear about what is real and what is not. I skimmed some of the first part of the book to get to the plot. Mina has a 3 year old daughter and her husband Jack travels a lot for work. They are having financial problems and bill collectors call frequently. So frequently that Mina has become phone friends with one of the bill collectors. Because her doctor has said that she should recover her memories on her own, no one will fill Mina in about her past or what happened to cause her to lose her memory. Her elderly neighbor Esther, helps her by babysitting her daughter, but the other younger neighbors do not like Esther. As her memories begin to return, Mina meets her Uncle Alex and a friend named Char'a-tee, only to learn a little while later that her uncle died two years ago. Fearing that she is losing her mind, Mina tries to dig into her past even though the doctor has told her not to. She finds more trouble than she had imagined. I liked the story once I got into it, but it had some inconsistencies and really unbelievable parts. I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Jacob, King of Portalia (The Pillars of Life Trilogy # 1) by Casey Clubb

Jacob, King of Portalia (The Pillars of Life Trilogy, #1)
Totally fabulous YA fantasy. I received this book free to review from Netgalley. As a coming of age story, this book is about a young boy facing his fears and discovering his strengths. As a fantasy, it is about a world in a parallel universe that Jacob accidentally opens a portal to and learns that he is heir to the throne. Only he has the power to save that world and earth from evil beings. As a book about LGBT, it is about a young boy who, like many, is afraid of what other people will think if they know that he likes boys instead of girls and who tries to hide what he is because he is afraid of it. I found the book to be a fabulous fantasy and an empowering story. I look forward to reading the next book in the series.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Beautifully Different Autism: viewing the world through a different lens by Makiko

Beautifully Different by Makiko
This is a beautiful and different book about children with high functioning autism. It contains information about autism along with photographs and writings about and by some autistic children. It provides a unique look at the way these children see and interact with the world. The photographs of the children are lovely and the stories about them and told by them are fascinating. I like that this book shows that while these children are different, they are also very beautiful. I received this book free to review from Netgalley and I highly recommend it.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

We Should All Be Feminists
I received this "book" free to review from Netgalley. It is a transcript of a Ted Talk that the author gave. It is very short to be called a "book". That being said, it is a wonderful speech, thought provoking and intelligent. I totally agree with Adichie that we should all be feminists. Her definition of feminist is "a man or a woman who says, yes, there's a problem with gender as it is today and we must fix it, we must do better." I enjoyed reading this and I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Color Song (Passion Blue #2) by Victoria Strauss

Color Song (Passion Blue, #2)
I liked this book even better than the first one!  Giulia, now 18 years old is pressured by the convent as well as by Humilita's father to give them the recipe for the paint color passion blue that Humilita had given to her on her deathbed and asked her to keep secret.  Realizing that she will be enslaved in the convent no matter what she does, Guilia disguises herself as a boy and heads out to Venice to apprentice herself to her former master's friend.  Although she has some bad luck, she is befriended by a kind and wealthy woman who pledges to help her any time she needs help.  There is danger and romance, secrets and lies, passion and hope in this lovely story about a woman painter in the Italian Renaissance. I received this book free to review from Netgalley and I highly recommend it.

Whole in the Clouds by Kristine Kibbee

Whole in the Clouds by Kristine Kibbee
I received this book free to review from Netgalley. It is written for children, in grades 3 to 12, but I do not recommend it for children because I think that it projects the wrong message. In this book, Cora is an overweight 12 year old who has been bullied about her weight all of her life. Her mother tries to get her to eat healthy but her father sneaks junk food to her. On her way to school one day she detours through the woods and meets an odd little man who tells her that her real parents (she is adopted) live in a city in the clouds and that they only sent her away for her own safety and that they want her to return. When she finally does go to Clouden, the city in the clouds, she becomes thin and beautiful because in Clouden, you look like your inner self and her inner self is a thin beautiful person. In Clouden, she can eat whatever she wants, which is things like hot fudge sundaes and she never gains weight. There are fantasy creatures and a love interest, but to me, this short book - almost a short story rather than a novel, promotes some very unhealthy concepts. Mothers in the book are all rather evil and junk food is glorified. Fat is ugly and thin is beautiful and it seems that the author has issues with food and with her mother. The book is edited well and the writing is not bad, but the entire concept behind it is just very unhealthy and I do not recommend it.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Remember Me (Collective, #2) by Stacey Nash

Remember Me by Stacey Nash
In this second book in the series, Mae and Jax are kidnapped by the Collective and have their memories wiped so that they do not remember being part of the resistance. Anamae does not remember any of her past at all and is told that she is a member of the Collective and was injured in a training accident. She makes friends with a girl named Cynnie and feels a sense of deja vu about a boy named Jason (who is Jax). Will, in the meantime feels that Beau is not trying hard enough to rescue Mae and he takes things into his own hands. I enjoyed the story and look forward to reading the next one.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Passion Blue by Victoria Strauss

Passion Blue by Victoria Strauss
This is an intriguing YA historical novel. After 17 year old Giulia's father passed away, his wife, who has always hated that Giulia's mother had been his favorite mistress, sends Giulia away to a convent. Determined not to repeat her mother's mistakes, Giulia is convinced that the only way she can live a life free to do what she wants, which includes art, is to find a man to marry. Having seen her horoscope, which predicted that she would not marry, Giulia is determined to change her predicted future and she goes to a sorcerer to do so. After that, she is convinced that she will meet and marry a man even though she is in a convent so she determines to make that happen. In the meantime, a nun at the convent discovers one of Giulia's drawings and brings her into the artist's workshop in the convent where she learns to paint. Giulia is torn between a young man who she meets who romances her and the painting education that she is receiving in the convent. I totally enjoyed this book and look forward to reading the next one.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Unmade (The Lynburn Legacy, #3) by Sarah Rees Brennan

Unmade by Sarah Rees Brennan
Excellent ending to the series. Since the town is terrified of Rob Lynburn and his evil cohorts, it is up to Kami and her friends to stop him. I enjoyed how Kami's father interacted with Lillian and I think that this book carried on the fun sense of humor among Kami and her friends that is found in the first two books as they laugh their way through tragedy after tragedy. There is romance and danger and witchcraft in this thrilling conclusion to the series.