Wednesday, December 25, 2013

For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund

Elliott North is a Luddite, the elite sect of society, but she longs for more than her life has given her.  She cannot stop thinking about Kai, a Post boy, who is thought to be beneath her station.  Elliott and Kai communicate through letters until Elliott's mother dies and she is forced to make an unthinkable decision.  Kai leaves and Elliott believes that she will never see him again.  However, her father's extravagance has forced her to take on tenants on part of her grandfather's land, and Kai is among them.  Yet, Kai is different--self-assured and stand-offish.  Elliott feels guilty for what she was forced to do four years prior, but Kai will not listen to her.  What will happen in the society as things are changing?
This story is told in an interesting fashion as alternating chapters are letters written by Elliott and Kai in their childhood.  It was fascinating to get the back story in this way.  I highly recommend this good read.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Coraline by Neil Gaiman

Coraline is a curious young girl who is "bored" and wants to explore.  Many people tell her not to go through the door, but she is irritated with her parents.  SO...she decides to explore a little.  What could be the harm?
When she gets to the other side, she sees her parents--or at least that is what she thought.  They actually refer to themselves as her "other parents".  Coraline quickly realizes that this place is not the place she wants to stay, but when she goes back home she realizes that something is not right there either.  She must go back to the strange place with her "other mother" to get things back to normal.
This book has been around for a long time, but for some reason I had never picked it up.  Alas...the 7th grade book club wanted to read it together.  It was pretty good, but Coraline was a bit annoying to me.  I did like the storyline, and I felt like it had a good message. is a good read-just not my personal first choice.

Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine

Caitlin's world has been black and white until "The Day Our Life Fell Apart".  Caitlin takes everything literally which can make communicating and understanding quite difficult.  When Caitlin tries to make sense of what happened and her life in general, she realizes that she needs closure.  In her attempt to find closure, she helps others as well.
This was an amazing book that a wonderful friend of mine suggested for me to read.  The author has done an amazing job of telling the story from the point of view of an 11-year-old child with Asperger's.  It is a quick read that gives a new perspective on life in general.  I realize that I did not give a long description, but I do not want to give away any information about the day.  It is such an important part of the story that in my opinion you need to experience as a reader.
Definitely, pick up this great read.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool

Jack is a Kansas boy who just lost his mother to a brain aneurysm. His father sends him to Morton Hill Academy in Maine.  Jack is like a fish out of water.  He does not fit in well at first, but he finds a boy who is interesting.  Enter...Early Auden.  Early is a boy who is different from the other boys at the academy, but he befriends Jack.  They develop a relationship based at first around rebuilding a boat.  After a mishap with the boat, Jack decides to join Early on a journey to find the great Appalachian bear, a boy named Pi, and his brother Fisher who supposedly died in the war.  Early is convinced that if he can find the bear--he will find his brother.  Jack thinks he is crazy, but he goes with him nonetheless.  Throughout the journey, you learn about both boys as they learn about themselves and what they are really seeking.
I am not going to lie--it took me a while to get into this story.  But, once they started on their adventurous journey, I was hooked.  I highly recommend reading this one.  You will be hoping that Fisher is alive as well.

Summer of the Mariposas by Guadalupe Garcia McCall

Odilia Garza and her four sisters find a dead body floating in the river.  The five sisters decide that they should return the man to his family in Mexico.  After they deliver the dead body, they set off on a journey to get to their grandmother's house where they hope to find their father.  Along the way, they encounter many beings from Mexican folklore including witches and the evil chupacabra.  In this story, the girls must be careful what they wish for because the answers they got revealed a secret they might have liked to have kept hidden.
This story was a great one about sibling relationships especially in adversity.  I recommend reading this good read.

Shooting the Moon by Frances O'Roarke Dowell

Jamie is a 12-year-old Army brat whose brother, TJ, has graduated and going off to war--The Vietnam War.  Jamie cannot wait to hear all about his war experiences, but TJ does not write her any letters.  Instead he sends her undeveloped rolls of film and asks her to develop them and send the proof sheet back to him. Jamie learns to develop film and becomes quite good at it.  At first, she is very disappointed that he does not write letters to her until she sees the story of the war in his pictures.
This is an excellent book about relationships, family, and the tragedy of war.  I highly recommend this book, but I will tell you that the ending though realistic was very disappointing for this reader.  What do I mean by it and find out.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Looking for Alaska by John Green

Miles Halter decides that he wants to leave home to attend a prep school.  Miles has no friends, and he hopes to make them at Culver Creek Preparatory School.  What he does not realize is that he is walking into an interesting caste world of haves and have-nots.  The "haves" just stay at school during the week and go home on the weekends while the "have-nots" stay all of the time.  Even though Miles's family has money, his roommate is part of the group of "have-nots", and that is where Miles fits in.  Enter--Alaska--gorgeous, thought-provoking, fearless, bold girl who lives down the hall.  Alaska is different from other girls because nothing seems to phase her, but Miles soon finds out that there is more here.  Alaska has a boyfriend, but she always flirts with Miles.  He is completely enamored with her, so he is talked into staying at school during Thanksgiving instead of going home.  Over this holiday, Miles gets very close to Alaska and finds out more about her family life--or the lack thereof.  This was all before...then there is after...

Now, I know that you will want more than that, but my rule is not to spoil the book.  I want you to read it.  If I tell you before and after what--I will spoil it.  Please don't search this to find out--wait.  It was not what I thought originally.  Green does a good job of throwing you off to think it is something else.

One other item--I would categorize this as a high school level book.  There are some mature themes that in my personal opinion are better placed at high school.  However, some may disagree with my assessment.

Well developed characters, interesting story line.  Makes for a great novel.

Perfect Scoundrels by Ally Carter

Hale has been able to do whatever he wants because he had all the money needed to do anything at his disposal.  Now, his grandmother has died, and she has named him as the heir to her fortune.  He cannot go jetting around the world following Kat.  But, his accountants are telling him that the family no longer has any money.  Kat, a thief and Hale's girlfriend, must figure out how to pull off the con of a lifetime to protect Hale.  The roles are switched here, and Kat is brought into the real world of W. W. Hale III.

This is the third book in the series, and I cannot wait for the next one. Hurry up, Ms. Carter.  Seriously, this was a great, action-packed novel.  If you have not read any from this series, you can start anywhere but you probably want to start at the beginning.  Heist Society, Uncommon Criminals--then Perfect Scoundrels.

SR--Wonder by RJ Palacio

Auggie is a young boy born with a cranio facial difference.  His parents decide that he needs to go to school, so they decide to send him to a private school.  As you can imagine, many of the children are unkind to Auggie because he looks different from them.  This novel chronicles his year as well as the year through other people's eyes as well.

It is hard for me to put into words how I feel about this book.  I just love the characters.  I like the story, but the characters are what sells me on the book.  I even felt sorry for Julian in the end.  When you read the book, you will know why that is a big deal.  Also, I loved Mr. Tushman's graduation speech.  It was wonderful and inspiring.

"When given the choice between being right and being kind, choose kind."

This saying sums up a major theme in the book.  I can honestly say that I have not lived by this, but I am really trying now.  I am trying to choose kind, and I can see that others are as well.  But, honestly, if I were the only one who was choosing kind--the world would still be better because of all of the people that I see and talk to on a daily basis.  If I can choose kind, then maybe one of the people that I was kind to--can choose kind later, etc, etc.

Please read this book, and choose kind.  It really could save someone--maybe even yourself.

SR--Ripper by Stefan Petrucha

Jack the Ripper killed women in London in the 1800's.  Years later in New York City--women are being killed in the same fashion.  Jack the Ripper was never found, but he was assumed to be dead.  He had kept quiet for so many years.  And, New York City was so far from London.  Still...

That is the scenario that is facing the police in New York City and Carver Young, a young orphan boy.  Carver dreams of becoming a detective, but he does not know how to go about it.  Carver is in an orphanage, and he has little hope of being adopted.  Until one day, Detective Hawking from the Pinkerton Detective Agency decides to take him under his wing.  Carver begins working with Detective Hawking to figure out the case.  Carver meets the police chief, Teddy Roosevelt, and they develop a working relationship as well.  Hawking knows a lot about the criminal mind, and he encourages Carver to figure out who his father is and where he might be.  This all weaves together to be quite a page turning mystery novel.  Don't miss out on the action--see if you can figure out who Jack the Ripper truly is.

SR--The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen

The kingdom is full of discontent and on the brink of civil war.  If only, the king's long-lost son had not died in the accident so many years ago.  If only there was a person who could come in and unite the kingdom.  What if there was?  What if he did not die after all?  That is the lie that Conner, a nobleman of the court, hopes to spin when he finds someone who will act as the prince.  Conner finds 4 young men that look like the prince, but he must choose wisely.  He must choose the one that can carry off the look and actions of the prince.  As the 4 boys are with each other every day, they soon become aware of the fact that once Conner makes his decision--only 1 will get to be the prince.  No witnesses can be left of this high act of treason.

I listened to this book on a road trip with a couple of teenage boys.  We all loved it, and if we had to make a pit stop--we had to agree not to turn on the book until everyone was in the car.  It was action packed, and I loved it.  Don't miss this first book--then of course you will want the second one, The Runaway King.

SR--Curveball: The Year I Lost My Grip by Jordan Sonnenblick

Peter Friedman is now a freshman in high school.  He was a good baseball player, but he was injured at the end of the season.  He is a good photographer, and he has joined the journalism staff at school.  Even though he might not be playing baseball any longer, he has found a place at school.  But, Peter has a close relationship with his grandfather--in fact his grandfather is an award-winning photographer and taught Peter all he knows.  However, his grandfather is not acting the same.  He is different, and this makes Peter's world very different as well.

As always, Jordan tells a great story.  His characters are believable and real.  And, he does not mind dealing with a tough subject.  I have an uncle who I adore that is similar to the grandfather in this story.  It was heartbreaking to read at times, but WOW! it helped me visualize exactly what my uncle may be going through.  Don't miss this great book.

SR--Under the Mesquite by Guadalupe Garcia McCall

Lupita is the oldest of seven children and has to take the lead when her mother's illness takes both of her parents away to the hospital.  Money is tight, and Lupita and her siblings are scared.  But, Lupita is strong and resilient like the mesquite tree where she goes to write.

This book is written in verse and reads so easily.  There is so much depth here that I can't say that it is a quick read, but it did not take me long to read it.  My grandmother was the oldest girl in her family, and her mother became ill when she was a teenager.  I imagine that my grandmother's experiences were much like Lupita's.  I guess that is why I enjoyed it so much.  I definitely recommend this first novel for Texas author--Guadalupe Garcia McCall.

SR--The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine

Marlee is in middle school in 1958 Little Rock, Arkansas, and like many girls--she has not found a best friend.  Until she meets Liz.  Liz is awesome and helps Marlee stand up for herself.  Marlee believes that this might not be so bad after all.  But, outside of this middle school, many other things are going on.  In 1957, there were 9 African American teens who attended Central High School in Little Rock, but the governor has refused to open the schools because he does not believe in integrating the schools.  Marlee's sister is sent to live with her grandmother so that she can attend school; Marlee's mother is getting paid to teach, but she has no students.  Many things are going on, but none of that matters because Marlee has a best friend.

Until one day, Liz does not show up for school.  There are many rumors, and Marlee is hurt when Liz refuses to see her.  What will Marlee do?  What should they both do?  No matter what they do--someone is going to be hurt.

This was a great historical fiction novel.  I did not know about the year after the Little Rock Nine.  It was appalling to me that they were able to do that for a year.  I had the chance to go to Little Rock this summer and see the high school and the zoo.  I even had my picture taken with the lions in the zoo--well, they were in a cage, but still...when Marlee talks about hearing the lions roar at night from her bedroom window, I now can tell you that is possible.  They were very loud!

SR--Insignia by S. J. Kincaid

It is WW III.  The planet is almost completely out of natural resources, so the war is fought to get assets from the solar system.  The enemy is winning, but Tom Raines may be the saving grace.  Tom is seduced by the money, the power, and a girlfriend.  But, everything he is told is not quite what it seems.  What will become of the world as they know it?  Who are the good guys and who are the bad guys?

This is a great book.  There is a lot of action, and it leaves you wanting more.  Which is good--because there is a sequel--Vortex.

The Ugly One by Leanne Statland Ellis

This is what the publisher has to say about this book:

I had always been ugly, as far back as I could remember.
Micay has a deep scar that runs like a river from her right eye to her lip. The boys in her Incan village bully her because of it, and most of the adults ignore her. So she keeps to herself and tries to hide the scar with her long hair, drawing comfort from her family and her faith in the Sun God, Inti. Then a stranger traveling from his jungle homeland to the Sacred Sun City at Machu Picchu gives her a baby macaw, and the path of her life changes. Perhaps she isn't destined to be the Ugly One forever. Vivid storytelling and rich details capture the life and landscape of the Incan Empire as seen through the eyes of a young girl who is an outsider among her own people.

I really wanted to like this book.  I love reading about people who overcome through adversity.  However, I found it to be a slow moving story.  After a while, I got into it so that I can appreciate the story.  But, I would not say it is a great book.  

SR-Steve Jobs: The Man Who Thought Different by Karen Blumenthal

Steve Jobs--quite frankly, I did not know much about him.  It is fascinating how he made it big but only after several failures.  This biography showed his faults, his failures and his drive to overcome and create.  I highly recommend reading this book.  It shows a lot about the human spirit.

SR--How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous

Have you ever wondered how famous people really died?  George Washington, Cleopatra, Napolean...just to name a few.

Read about these gruesome deaths in this disgusting volume.  Be prepared to be grossed out!

SR--Smart Girls Get What They Want by Sarah Stohmeyer

Gigi decides to run for student rep, but she'll have to get over her fear of public speaking—and go head-to-head with gorgeous California Will. Bea used to be one of the best skiers around, until she was derailed. It could be time for her to take the plunge again. And Neerja loves the drama club but has always stayed behind the scenes—until now.
These friends are determined to show the world that smart girls really can get what they want—but that could mean getting way more attention than they ever bargained for. . . .

Gigi, Bea, and Neerja are three extremely intelligent girls who are on their way to Ivy League schools, but they are afraid that they might be missing out on what high school life is all about.  So, they make a pact.  They will each take on a challenge so that they can have people know them as people instead of as just brainy girls.  They meet new people and have new experiences, but they have to learn to deal with these new experiences while still being true to themselves.

This was a good book that I read really quickly.  It is great when the smart girls are also pretty and don't let either of those things go to their heads.  Definitely a good read--worth your time.

The City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

I know that I am just now blogging about this, but I did read it in anticipation of the movie.  Well, I read it before it came out--which was 3 months ago--and I still have not seen it.  Alas...

Clary Fray wants to get away with her best friend, so they go to The Pandemonium Club in New York City.  She sees an interesting boy, so she follows him.  However, she got more than she bargained for...she witnessed a murder.  When she went to find her friend to tell him what happened--the body was gone.  But, the murderers were not--and now, they were interested in her.  But, it is not what you might think.  Clary has just encountered the Shadowhunters--warriors trying to rid the earth of demons.  Why are they interested in her and her mother?  They are just ordinary people, aren't they?  This is just the beginning of the story for Clary to find out who she is and who her parents are.

Wow!  What a book!  It is a thick, fast-paced, page turner.  Definitely you do not want to miss out on reading The City of Bones...and the rest of the series as well.

Here is the trailer for the movie.  

Nobody's Secret by Michaela MacColl

Emily Dickinson is a precocious young woman who is trying to find her place in an archaic society.  One day, she meets a mysterious young man who does not want her to know who his family is.  In fact, she does not even know his name.  She begins to call him Mr. "Nobody".  After a couple of chance meetings, they make a plan to meet at another time.  However, he does not show for this meeting.  She is heartbroken, but she is distracted when a dead man's body is found in the family's pond.  Emily sneaks in to see who the man is and realizes that it is the same man she has named Mr. "Nobody".  Now, she sets off to see if she can figure out who he is and why he came to town in the first place.

I loved this book.  It was a quick read that had a bit of history, a bit of romance, and a lot of mystery.  Definitely a good choice for reading.

SR--Every Other Day by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Every. Other. Day. Kali is a normal teenage girl worried about fitting in and making friends.

Every. Other. Day. Kali is a demon hunter worried about killing all demons that are in her path and surviving.

On her demon killing day, Kali notices a strange mark on Bethany's back, and she realizes that a demon has possessed her body.  Kali takes care of it--but that is only a symptom of the big demon battle going on.  Now, Kali is back in her human form, and they are after her.  Will she survive?  Will she make it to the other day?

This was a great read.  It was full of suspense and action.  I highly recommend it.

Every Other Day Book Trailer

SR--Counting Backwards by Laura Lascarso

Taylor Truwell is sent to Sunny Meadows after she is found driving a stolen car.  She does not want to be there and works hard to find a way to escape.  However, she meets some friends that help her to face the truth of why she was there in the first place.
I have to be honest about this one.  When I read the back, I thought this was going to be a thriller.  It was not that at all.  It is about a girl who has teenage angst.  Once I got over my initial disappointment, then I was able to read it for what it was.  It ended up being a good book, but "Sunny Meadows" for a psychiatric facility??  Anyway, if you are looking for a book that has a teenage girl who feels misunderstood and makes really poor decisions then sees the error of her ways--this is a good one for you.  (Oh, I forgot to mention--there is a romance as well...)

SR--Zebra forest by Adina Gewirtz

Annie Morgan and her brother love playing in the forest outside their house.  They live with their grandmother because their father was killed in a knife fight.  Their grandmother is protective of them, and she tells them to be very careful especially in the forest.  However, summer is here and they have big plans to play out there.  Until one day, a prison escapee shows up on their doorstep.  He has a gun and everyone is scared for their lives.  Who is this strange man who seems to know a lot about their family?  Could he be the man who killed their father?  Or, is he someone else?
This book was a quick read and I would recommend it.  I was a little disappointed when there was no big reveal at the end.  I kept thinking that there must be more to the story.  Still, it was worth the time.
Enjoy this good book.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Fault in our Stars by John Green

Hazel is a walking miracle.  She was diagnosed with terminal cancer and given a short time frame.  But, she is still alive.  Her parents are worried because all Hazel wants to do is stay home and read her books.  She does not want to interact with anyone--even them at times.  Hazel's mom insists that she join a support group.  Hazel grudgingly goes and meets Augustus Waters who is a cancer survivor.  At first, Hazel does not want to hang around with Augustus, but he will not go away.  They develop a friendship, and they discuss everything including a book that has truly shaped Hazel's mindset on life.  Hazel gets sick again, and Augustus decides to give his "wish" to her so that they can meet the author of the book.  This leads them on a life-changing journey that grabs your heart.

This book is so raw and gritty because Hazel does not hold back.  She tells like it is--the anger, the frustration, everything that you can only imagine someone who has been diagnosed with a terminal disease must feel.  What I loved most about the book was how she saw how her disease and ultimate death would affect those around her.  While I don't always like to contemplate my own mortality, I believe it made me look at life a little more closely.  Be grateful--just one of the many lessons in this book that I learned.  Okay--another GREAT READ!

The Selection by Kiera Cass

Sixteen-year-old America Singer is being pressured by her mother to enter into the "random" drawing to be part of The Selection.  In the Selection, thirty-five girls are randomly selected to be a part of the process to find a new wife for the prince.  Of course, every young girl would want to be a part of this, right?  Oh, no!  America is not excited at all because she has already fallen in love with a special boy.  America's family is poor, and all of the chosen girls receive a stipend.  So, she feels like she has to enter.

When she gets there, it is not quite as she thought it would be, but she strikes a bargain with the prince.  She tells him that she will be his friend that will be honest with him to find a good wife.  He agrees to keep her around--but...that is right.  He has feelings for her.  As the story unfolds, America's feelings are shifting, and she is happy.  Until the boy that she loves is now in the picture...and the love triangle is drawn.

Wow!  What a book!  It is a cross between The Bachelorette and Downton Abbey.  I absolutely loved it.  Put it on the GREAT READ list.  I can't wait to read the second book, The Elite.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

SR--The Duck Commander Family: How Faith, Family, and ducks created a dynasty by Willie Robertson

This book gives a close-up of the Robertson family who star in A&E's show, Duck Dynasty. It is told from the perspective of Willie and Korie Robertson. There are even some recipes found within the pages. Just FYI, the macaroni and cheese recipe was okay, but there needs to be some cheese added to the white sauce. Just IMHO, of course.

This summer I finally began reading this biographical story of the Robertson family. My daughter has been telling me to read it for some time.

I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised at the candor on the pages. It was very interesting to hear how Willie's and Korie's families were different but shared a common faith. The most interesting thing that I noted was that I also read a biography about Steve Jobs. Both Phil Robertson and Steve Jobs are geniuses in their own fields and misunderstood by many people. However, each man chose a different path in their personal lives, and that is the difference between their life satisfaction. Just IMHO, of course.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Towering by Alex Flinn

So, school started again, and I noticed that I did not blog about all of the books that I read this summer.  I will try to blog about them in the next few weeks mentioning that they were summer reads.

Now, onto this book...Towering by Alex Flinn.

Rachel lives in a remote tower and cannot see anyone except her "Mama".  She has long flowing, fast growing hair and healing tears.  One day a boy, Wyatt, comes to her tower and is able to reach the top by climbing her hair.  Sound familiar--yes, this is a modern retelling of Rapunzel.  Rachel and Wyatt have a strong bond so much that they can send messages to each other even when they are far apart.  Rachel must stay in the tower because there are people who want to kill her, but Wyatt does not know why.  Through a fast-paced story, Flinn leads us to discover the dark secrets of a town and how Rachel can help to save them all.

I really liked this book, and I whipped right through it.  Flinn is a great story teller, and this one does not disappoint.  I highly recommend this good read.

Monday, August 5, 2013

SR--Planet Tad by Tim Carvell

Tad decides to begin a blog, and he writes in it almost every day.  He writes his thoughts and happenings for an entire year. 

I have to admit; I put this book off for a long time.  Based on the cover and the title, I just WAS NOT INTERESTED.

Write it down, folks.  I was SO wrong.  Diary of a Wimpy Kid is put to shame with this one.

This book was so very funny.  I read most of it in one sitting, and I was literally laughing out loud!

I strongly recommend this one.

SR--Break My Heart 1,000 Times by Daniel Waters

So...based on the title, it sounds like it is a sappy romance story.  But it is far from that.  This book opens up with Veronica seeing a new ghost in her bathroom one morning while she is in the shower.  She goes down to breakfast to tell her mother and father.  Her mother is not too concerned, and her father does not respond.  That does not sound too odd until you consider that her father is a ghost.  You see--in this small town, ghosts appear all over the place just like clockwork--literally.  You can set your watch by the time that the ghosts appear every day.  Meanwhile, down the street, there is a specific ghost appearing every morning to Mr. Bittner, a high school history teacher.  The ghost that appears on his step every morning was violently murdered almost 4 years prior.   Veronica notices that Mr. Bittner is paying a lot of attention to her lately--and when he finds out her birthday--he REALLY starts watching her with special attention.  Could Bittner have had something to do with Mary's death 4 years before, and is he interested in Veronica now?  Only the ghosts have the real proof, but will Veronica and her friend, Kirk, be able to figure out the clues in time...
This was a creepy, page-turner.  It did take me a few pages to get into this book while the author set up the premise, but once I got past that...I could not put it down.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

SR--Almost Home by Joan Bauer

Sugar is a precocious sixth grade girl who definitely speaks her mind. One day she finds a sweet pup named Shush, and the two of them have a special bond.  The problem is--Sugar is strong headed, but her mother is less so.  After Sugar's dad takes all of their money, her granddad dies, and her mom loses her job, they suddenly find themselves without a home. 
Sugar's mom decides to go to Chicago to find a job, but when they get there--the job is gone.  Sugar is put into foster care while her mother tries to pull herself together.
Now, this sounds like it would be a depressing story, but Sugar is such a fantastic heroine.  I mean--she has this great life spirit that keeps her going through some very difficult situations.  I have been reading Bauer's books for a decade now, and I have met her a couple of times.  This is by far my favorite of hers--and there are 2 others that I truly love.  I can't say enough about how precious this story was to read.  I am not much of a dog lover, but I fell in love with Shush.  Bauer captured the healing effects of what a pet can do for people. 
This was a great read!


So...I have had real trouble with this blog and being able to post.  I think I may have it figured out.  Yay!!!
I have read so many books, and I hope that I can catch up with them over the next few days.
Stay tuned!

Just saw a movie trailer for an oldie but a goodie--Sea of Monsters.  I think I may have to go see it.

Here is the clip.

Monday, July 8, 2013

SR--Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Alina Starkov is just a mapmaker and not a very good one.  When she must enter into the Shadow Fold and sees her best friend in mortal danger, she shields him with her body and something else.  She has no idea what happened, but she feels responsible for not being able to save more people.  When the Darkling whisks her away to his castle where the elite are trained, she cannot understand what is happening.  She tries to reach her best friend, but he will not answer her letters.  Alina is not sure what to think because she has suddenly turned into her country's best hope to defeat the dangerous creatures in the Shadow Fold.  But, there is more that she has to figure out.  The Darkling has taken a romantic interest in her, and she is flattered.  When her best friend shows up at the castle, she is not sure what to do.  Ravka, her beloved country, is at stake, but there is much more.  Nothing is what it seems, and Alina must put her feelings aside to figure it out--or does she?
This book began slowly for me; however, once I got about 30 pages into it--the action took over.  There are many nuances that took some time to cover, but this is part of a trilogy.  So, alas...I must get Siege and Storm now.  <sigh>  Great adventurous read.

SR--An Elephant in the Garden by Michael Morpurgo

Karl and his friends play out in the snow at the nursing home where his mother works.  After all of his friends go home, his mother is looking for him.  She finds him in the room of Lizzie, a cantankerous old woman, who is telling Karl a story about her life.  Karl is fascinated by the story that Lizzie regales about how an elephant saved her family's life after the 1945 bombing in Dresden, Germany, during World War 2.  It seems a little far fetched that they actually traveled with an elephant, but this is actually based on a true story.  I really loved the way that the author used different fonts to show when it was present day and when it was the past.
This was not a fast moving story, but it was very interesting to think about how average German citizens might have felt when the Allied forces invaded.  No matter what the story--it is important to understand the sides and that there is a human element that needs to be considered.  A good read.

SR--Outlaw by Stephen Davies

Jake is always looking for adventure no matter what the cost.  When he is suspended from the British boarding school he is attending for sneaking out and playing a game called Geothimble where he scales buildings,etc.  Jake has the latest technology and is pretty happy about his privilege as the son of an English Ambassador.  When he is suspended, he is more than happy to join his parents and sister in Africa.  While attending a ritzy party with his family, he and his sister are kidnapped presumably by the country's worst outlaw.  Jake and his sister, Kas, are doing what their father told them by not resisting until the kidnappers receive orders to kill them.  What will they do now?  Who are the good guys?  Are there any good guys in this story?

Davies lives in this country, and he has written a fast-moving page-turning adventure with underlying ideals to ponder.  This is most definitely a good read.  Now, I want to read his other book, Hacking Timbuktu.

SR--Prodigy by Marie Lu

June and Day have escaped execution and are on a train to join the Patriots where they will be able to be free and work against the Republic.  But, these two are too famous; the Patriots have other plans.  There are strings attached if they are to get the protection of this group of rebels.  June and Day must assassinate the new Elector.  Both agree to this demand, but after meeting with the new Elector, Andan, June is not sure he is the problem.  Or, is she just attracted to him?  Or, is he just that good at manipulating her?  Will June choose Day or Andan?  Is Andan really a choice for her?  Read this second installment in this trilogy to see how June and Day figure out the right side to support in this revolution.

Generally, I read the first book in a series/trilogy, etc., and I am done.  However, Marie Lu has written a wonderful story that I wanted to continue after Legend (see previous post). And, after reading Prodigy, I am ready for the third book.  Doggone it!  Champion is not available until November 2013.  Oh, well, I will just have to read other books in the mean time.

Back to Prodigy, so...June and Day are still attracted to each other, but they have to figure out whether or not they are attracted to other people as well.  Day has to trust June who has been entitled all of her life.  June has to figure out what is most important to her.  June's memories of her brother still haunt her, and she is not sure what he would want her to do.  Ultimately, this great story not only shows the development of a revolution but of these great characters.  Told in alternating chapters--you really get the opportunity to see what each of them is thinking.  Great Read!!!!

And it is time to catch up...

Well, I invited a guest blogger, and he agreed.  Then he had second thoughts, so I have not had as many posts as I had hoped.  That being said, I have read quite a lot, so I will be posting today and tomorrow to catch up on what I have read in the month of June.  I was out of town helping my mother who broke her ankle; I was at a week long mission camp here in the Austin area; I was building a porch in my back yard.  Even with all of that--I read quite a lot--I just did not blog about it.  So, now is the time to catch up.  I am trying to only post about books that I have read this summer, but I will have to make a couple of exceptions. There are some books that are on the Lone Star reading list that I read before the summer began, but I want to write a quick post about them.  They are definitely worth reading.

So...without further adieu...I will start writing about books--that is what you want to read about anyway. ;-)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

SR--Bewitching by Alex Flinn

Kendra is an interesting witch who has been "helping" people for centuries.  She is now in the 21st century, and she has made friends with Emma just in time to help her with her new step-sister, Lisette.  Lisette seems like a perfectly nice girl, but looks can be deceiving which Emma soon finds out.  Kendra wants to help Emma, but she is afraid that her good intentions will not end up well.
This story begins with Kendra finding out that she is a witch when everyone in her family except for her little brother dies from the plague and she is untouched.  She knows something is odd when she prays particularly hard for her brother one night, and the next day he is miraculously cured.  Kendra realizes that she and her brother must run, so they do into the forest where they meet another witch who has a gingerbread house.  Hmmm...does that story sound familiar?  Hansel and Gretel, maybe??
Anyway, it would seem as though these stories are not related, but Flinn actually weaves them together well. She combines facets of fairy tales with bits of history from the Plague to the Titanic where Kendra was not successful with her magical attempts.  Kendra was the witch in Flinn's retelling of Beauty and the Beast in Beastly.  I loved it when I read it years ago--I'll post about it in a day or so.  She alludes to that story throughout the book as well.

This book took some time for me to get into.  I loved the story with Lisette and Emma, but some of the other parts dragged a bit for me.  Still, I enjoyed it.  And, it was a GOOD Read!
Check out the book trailer here.

SR--Rebel Spirits by Lois Ruby

Sixteen year old Lori cannot believe that her parents have purchased a bed and breakfast and moving to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  What could possibly be fascinating about that place--Lori wonders.  Until she gets there...and finds that she has the gift to converse with the dead.  When they arrive, she notices a shadow in her bedroom window, and she sees it again in the screen when she is skyping with her brother.  Pretty soon, Nathaniel--a Civil War soldier--reveals his identity to her.  He also reveals that he needs her help in figuring out who murdered him in 1863.  How can Lori possibly figure out who committed this murder so long ago--if indeed it was a murder?  Find out in Rebel Spirits by Lois Ruby.
I love this type of book.  It has history--Civil War, no less.  It has a mystery with bad guys.  And, it does have romance as well.  Did I mention that Nathaniel is gorgeous?  Oh, and there is also a cute guy who works for her parents.  Which guy will she choose?  I know that sounds crazy because one is a ghost and one is living, but it works somehow.
This is definitely a GOOD read.cover_image

Away too long and an announcement

Well, I thought I would keep up with this more regularly, but alas...  I have been reading, but it takes extra time to write about my reading even if it is pitiful entries as those I have thus far.
So...I have enlisted some help to get more titles out there.  There will be a guest blogger who will share some titles that he has read.  The good thing about having him post is that he will read some titles that I have little interest in reading and writing about.  Therefore, we get more titles in front of the public--which I am always in favor of doing.  That being said...we should have titles enough to have caught up for the days that I was delayed in writing and then some...Stay Tuned.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

SR--Keeping the Castle by Patrice Kindl

Althea has the burden of maintaining her family's estate, specifically Crawley Castle, with little money.  In this time period, her only option is to find a rich husband.  Her options are slim until Lord Boring comes to stay with his aunt and uncle.  He is attractive, charming, and attentive.  However, his cousin and business manager accompanies him on all of his visits to see her.  Althea does not know what to do because she is not sure how she is going to win Lord Boring's heart with the bothersome Mr. Fredericks always in the way.  Of course, there are the two stepsisters who are interested in Lord Boring as well.
This short novel is reminiscent of Pride and Prejudice with simpler language.  It is my favorite kind of fiction--historical romance.  I saw how the story was going to end in the second chapter, but I still liked reading it.  If you like a sweet romantic book--give this one a try.

Definitely--a good read here.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

SR--Revenge of a Not So Pretty Girl by Carolita Blythe

Faye is a fourteen year old girl who believes that she is ugly on the outside and on the inside.  She begins hanging out with some bad girls who convince her that they should get revenge on all of the rich, pretty girls by stealing from them.  This starts her on a dark path that leads to stealing from an elderly woman and almost ended up in murder.  Faye cannot get rid of her guilt, so she visits the woman, Evelyn Rider, to see if she is okay.  When she discovers that Evelyn is not dead, she should feel like she is off the hook, but something still nags at her.
Meanwhile, Faye's father reveals that he is moving to Florida with his new love, and this news sends her mother into a rage.  Faye then feels as though home is not a great place, so she invents an excuse to spend time with Evelyn.  At first, Evelyn is resistant--imagine that, but over time these two develop a relationship that Faye has been missing.  As it turns out, Evelyn had been missing that relationship as well.
At first, I did not like this book AT ALL.  I did not like Faye at first because I just could not figure out why she thought that robbing an old woman was a good idea.  What really bugged me was that she rationalized her behavior.  Then, she grew on me.  The more time she spent with Evelyn--the more I grew to like her character.  Blythe did a great job of developing this relationship.  I had a great relationship with my grandmother, and in so many ways it has shaped me into the person that I am today.  I have to admit that I have a real soft spot for books that promote inter-generational relationships--especially when they are not blood related.  In so many ways, I believe that our society would be so much better if these two generations spent more time together listening to each other.  Both could learn from the other--just my two cents on the subject.

So...this is definitely a good read.  The book trailer above dramatizes the scene where Faye and her "friends" steal from Evelyn.

Friday, May 31, 2013

SR--Timekeeper by Alexander Monir

Timekeeper is a sequel to Timeless and is about Michele, a young girl who found out that she is part of a special group of people who can travel through time.  However, she learns much more as she finds her father's journal in an attempt to save her life.

Okay, I better back up...Rebecca Windsor lived in the late 19th to early 20th century, but she is haunting her descendants in an attempt to get even with Irving Henry.  Irving Henry is the father of Michele, and Rebecca has vowed to get even with Irving Henry by erasing all traces of him including Michele.  Michele must figure out what happened between Irving and Rebecca in just 7 days because that is the amount of time that Rebecca must be in the current time period for 7 days before she can fully materialize.

As if that is not enough for Michele to deal with, the love of her life shows up at her high school--but they fell in love in 1904.  She knows that it cannot possibly be the same person, but she cannot focus on anything until she figures that out either.

So...Michele must figure out why Rebecca wants to kill her, how her father got his gift, what her gift is, and who this boy is that just appeared one day at her high school bearing a striking resemblance to her love from the early 20th century.

It is a quick read and definitely a page turner. Now, I must warn you that I usually love a good romance, but this one is a bit sappy even for me.  That being is still what I would consider a good read.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

When I started reading this book,  I could not put it down.  It was wonderful except for the ending--but I will get to that.
Cinder is a teenage mechanic who is well known for being the best mechanic in town.  As you can probably guess from the name, she is similar to another famous literary character who has an evil stepmother and stepsisters.  Cinder is a bit different in that she has synthetic parts including, you guessed it, one of her legs that later on will be significant at a ball.  Hmmm...are you with me?
Of course, Cinder is working hard one day when an attractive young man walks in with something for her to fix.  He is the prince who will one day be taking over the throne.  There are some sparks between them, but Cinder does not want him to find out about her true identity.  Will she go to the ball and fall in love with the prince and live happily ever after?  You will have to read to find out the interesting twists and turns in this new take on an old story.  Oh, about the ending that I mentioned just ends with me dying to read the next in the series.  Which is titled Scarlet.

SR--Legend by Marie Lu

Well, so many people had been telling me to read this book that I put it to the top of my stack and read it over the weekend.  It was rather good, but I have to admit that it was really similar to another dystopian trilogy I just finished.  That being said--it was a good read.
There are 2 main characters--June and Day.  They are from different social classes but both of them are looking to survive amidst war and grief in their personal lives.  June is the prodigy who made a perfect score on her qualifying test while Day supposedly failed his.  June has been sent to the best school and even after she has a personal tragedy is expected to find the Republic's worst criminal.  Day is a renegade because he failed his test and bad things happen to the ten year olds who do not pass the test.  You guessed it--Day is the renegade that June must find and bring to justice.  She does indeed bring him to justice, but it is not exactly what she envisioned.
The book has many nuances that I appreciated including allusions to present United States as well as the weaving of the different characters' stories.
This one definitely falls under the GOOD category.  I highly recommend reading this one, and in fact, I plan to pick up the sequel--Prodigy--as soon as possible. For your enjoyment--here is a video to give you more of the story.

Friday, May 24, 2013

SR--The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson

Well, I should have realized that by the title this was not a complete stand alone book.  In other words, there was a book before this one.  Yikes!  However, I still got the gist of the novel.  I enjoyed it quite a lot, so let me tell you a bit about it.  Ginny receives 13 blue envelopes in the mail from her aunt that died from cancer.  These envelopes lead her on an adventure in Europe that also affords her the opportunity to meet some rather interesting characters.  She even meets and has a relationship with a certain young man.  She has one more envelope left, and she decides to take a swim in Greece.  Ginny and her friend leave their belongings with some Greek boys--hmmm...sounds like trouble.  Well, you guessed it her bag was taken and along with it all of the envelopes.  She does not get to find out what her aunt has left in store for her.  Now, that all happens in the first book.

Finally, up to the second book--the one I actually read...the last little blue envelope.  Ginny receives an email telling her that someone accidentally got possession of her letters.  He offers to meet her to give them to her. Ginny is excited and makes plans to go to Europe for Christmas and spend it with her aunt's husband.  She also hopes to meet up with her love interest.  She can hardly wait to see what is in store for her.  However, when she meets the boy who has the letters, she gets more than she bargains for and she is in for another adventure.  Interesting read about life not always being what you expect.

I do recommend this one as a GOOD read.

Here is a quick video for both books.