Book Review: Awaken

Book: Awaken
Author: Meg Cabot
Recommend: Worth finishing the series but only just…

I loved the first two books in this series. It was actually fun to read which was shocking considering how much the author usually annoys me. However, this book seemed to have far too much going on with no breath between any action sequence – at all. The author was attempting to go for fast paced and exciting but it became so frenzied that it toppled over and caused me as a reader to become annoyed and detached due to the fact that it never slowed down. This one needed to be longer and not quite so easy to predict.

It wasn’t all negative though. the story was decently pulled towards a reasonable conclusion and I find it satisfying to reach the end, even though I was not even remotely as enamored with the characters as I had been. I also think that it would have been better if I had read them as a complete set instead of having to wait for book three. By the time it came out, I was so far removed from the first two that it was hard to get back into it.

Not a bad read but nothing that made me super excited to check out.

Final Rating:

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Weekly Reader No. 4

So, I was bound and determined after last week to get some more reading in. I tackled the new Robert Galbraith (a J.K. Rowling pseudonym) first, something I have been excited to read for quite a while and it did not disappoint. I am not, as a rule, a fan of mysteries or detective novels but this series is great. It has the perfect balance of originality and familiarity to make it a ton of fun to read, not to mention that there are just some hilarious spots in this book. The second of the Cormonran Strike novels, The Silkworm is definitely worth a read. Rating -★★★★★

Then I immediately tackled something else in the stack, reaching for the first thing I could get my hands on, which happened to be Arclight by Josin L. McQuein. This YA book is a dystopian novel that gives off the feel of a zombie/vampire book along the lines of The Passage but YA and turns out to be something completely different which was a nice surprise.  The twist in this one was not at all what I expected and it made for quite an enjoyable reading experience. I put a hold on the next book in the series the moment I finished this one. The writing was a bit weak but the plot was great. Rating – ★★★★

The I tried to read a book called The Revisionists by Thomas Mullen. I got started and simply couldn’t get into it. I don’t know if my timing was bad or what but the book was dull and it shouldn’t have been since it was supposed to be about time travel. It felt like a poor version of the time agents from Doctor Who without all the fun or a severely smudged and extremely waterlogged quick sketch of Stephen King’s 11/22/63. So I threw it back in my library bag and reached for something else. Rating – ★

What I ended up with was Bellman and Black by Diane Setterfield. I have heard wonderful things about this author but for some reason, I haven’t been able to get to her first book yet (The Thirteenth Tale), although I have wanted to for quite some time. However I was able to get my hands on her second book and have put off reading it because I heard  that it wasn’t bad but it wasn’t great. I picked it up, fulling realizing after my last book that it would probably join the unread but back to the library pile. I very much enjoyed this read. It was a slow thoughtful read with a bit of mystery. I can see why she calls it a ghost story although it offers little in the way of thrills or chills, rather a book about a life lived in the shadow of death, the ghost of what could or should have been. Definitely worth a read if you can keep an open mind.  Rating – ★★★★

At this point, I was on a roll and picked up the book on top of the stack called The Bookstore by Deborah Meyler. I was expecting light fluffy goodness. What I got was an author taking her writing way too seriously and her main character making some of the strangest choices I have ever read. It was a romance novel trying to be literary fiction and failing miserably. Why did I keep reading, because the author can write, she just can’t plot. Rating – ★

I started in on another book but kept getting interrupted and so I decided to go back to my book cleaning project. I finally finished removing every sales sticker, library pocket and anything else you can think of from every book on my shelves late on Saturday night. I can’t tell you how glad I was to see the end of that project. I cut my fingers a few times and got so tired of prying stickers off of books (not to book sellers – certain adhesives and books should just not happen – ever). Now with a trashcan full of old library dust jacket covers, I love the look of my books.

Wish I had this much room for books

Then I moved forward with organizing my books. When we moved in, I just threw everything on the shelves for the most part. A few of my favorites found each other but for the most part, I didn’t bother organizing much and it started to drive me crazy. For example, I have all of the books in the Dark Tower series but couldn’t find the first one and the rest were in sets of two or three in a few different places. I had also started buying a few duplicates of books because I wasn’t sure if I had them or not. So I decided that I needed to organize everything and create an inventory that I could search while I was out book shopping to hopefully keep myself from buying books I already have.

I love this site (click on image to find out more)

I started with the inventory. I used goodreads and my phone to scan the bar-codes from a majority of my books unless they didn’t have one due to age (or something else). I started to rethink the large number of old paperbacks that I have because I had to enter those all by hand. By the time I finished, the final count was 642 physical books.

11 Dangerous place for a libraryThen I started organizing my books. I separated the fiction and non-fiction first. The non-fiction was then further separated by category and shelved. Those took up two of my smallest bookcases (while I have some non-fiction, the majority of my collection is fiction). The fiction mostly stayed together. The only things I really separated completely were my classics and Christian fiction. The rest ended up separated by author and series. Some authors got their own shelf or had to share it with one other author (Orson Scott Card being the author with the most books in my collection). By the time I got that done, I sorted what was left by size and loosely by genre to get as many books as possible onto the shelves. I think the final result turned out great.

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My tall shelves

Yeah, okay the one above isn’t mine (but I wish it was). Mine, as you can see,  looks quite a bit more cramped and unfortunately isn’t that big (although I wish it was). I had to really crowd to get my books in, so I think it might be time to buy another bookshelf or two.

The shorter ones (two more aren't pictured)

The shorter ones (two more aren’t pictured)

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Weekly Reader No. 3

I didn’t do much reading this week. This week’s lack of reading is brought to you by the Doctor. I was a bit preoccupied watching Doctor Who. Okay, I may have done some reading – of Doctor Who fanfiction. (Yep – I have a Doctor Who problem – I know. But honestly Doomsday is still hard to watch without trying to rewrite that ending).

Then it was the fourth of July. My husband had the day off on Thursday which is extremely rare. The only day off he normally has is Sunday, and honestly, Sunday is just not really a day off for people who are active in church. So I spent quite a bit of time with him. Then we got a call on the 4th from my dad to let us know that my grandfather had passed away. Needless to say, was a bit of a mess the rest of the weekend.

Grandma and Grandpa Hill

My grandparents, both gone now.

I did finally finish a book today. I read Cress by Marissa Meyer, the third book in her Lunar Chronicles series, which starts with Cinder. I absolutely love this series. Starting with Cinder it takes fairy tales and weaves them together in a world of cyborgs, crazy science and aliens in a way that is completely brilliant and fun to read. I can’t believe how much longer I have to wait for the next (and last) book in this series to make its appearance. Definitely worth a read. Rating -★★★★★

I really am going to try to do some more reading this week. I should have more time on my hands – I hope.

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Weekly Reader No. 2

I have had a hard time getting any reading done this week. I got into this book that had a rare effect on me. It was forcing me to read it slowly, which I did gladly. Have you ever had a book just grab you and pull you in to the point where you savor every word? It happens to me only occasionally and I can’t remember the last time it happened with a fantasy novel. Patrick Rothfuss’, The Name of the Wind is definitely worth your time.  Find a full review of it HERE.  Rating – ★★★★★

Then for some reason this week, tons of books came flooding in at the library. I picked up three books I’ve been waiting ages for this week – The One by Kiera Cass, Cress by Marissa Meyer, and The Silkworm by J.K. Rowling.  The only problem is that I had no idea which to tackle first. So I went and checked my library list to see which one was due back first. I realized that I had another book that I was going to have to read almost immediately and so I put the three aside in order to pick up The Accidental Creative by Todd Henry. I had heard quite a bit about this one and so I didn’t want to let it slip through my fingers.

The Accidental Creative was not at all what I expected it to be. While I got some good ideas from the book, I felt myself pushing to get to the end.  I was hoping for tricks to activate your creativity when you are stuck instead of a life management system. While he had some good ideas, I am pretty good at knowing what works for me and setting my limits, so I found it interesting but not effective for me, however I could see it being extremely helpful for someone else. Rating – ★★★★

The next thing I picked up was The One by Kiera Cass. I fought reading this series so many times but eventually gave in and was completely hooked. So much so that I did something I have never done before. The day the book came out, I went to Barnes and Noble and sneaked a peak at the last couple of pages. I didn’t think I could handle reading it if it didn’t turn out the way I thought it should. Then I read the book. I should have stuck with reading the ending. While it ended the way I wanted it to, the rest of the book was simply annoying, not to mention the climax that just wasn’t a climax…. dumb. I think most of the fanfiction out there might have had less plot holes than this last novel did. What a let down! Rating – ★

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My library book haul :)

Then Saturday happened. We have great library warehouse here that has sales once a month. For teachers books are between $0.50 and $1. I got there not long after they opened and didn’t leave until close to the end (it’s a four-hour event). My final result was 46 books for $34.50. I think I’m going to have to buy a new bookshelf… again.

I’ve also been learning a bit about book repair and the safe removal of library stuff from books (dust jackets, card holders, RFID tags, etc) and got through a one of my bookshelves working on that while watching Doctor Who. There is a great satisfaction on taking a book that you got for 0.50 and making it look like a ‘normal’ book. I only have four more book cases to go… this is going to take forever! Hope fully next week will contain more books!

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Book Review: The Name of the Wind

Book: The Name of the Wind

Author: Patrick Rothfuss

Recommend: Absolutely! This is one of the best fantasy books I’ve read in a long time.

I picked this one up on a recommendation from a friend of mine who has similar reading taste. So far everything she had recommended to me has been basically brilliant and this one was no exception. The book starts with a quiet innkeeper who is not quite what he seems and a threat pressing in from an unexplained war. Then the book takes you in directions you didn’t know that you wanted to go.

I think the biggest positives about this book for me was the richness of the story telling. Something about the way the author spun his tale made me savor every word. Normally I rush through something like this, however due to the richness and depth of the writing, I found myself slowing down and often stopping to ponder exactly what the author had just done. This took me an unprecedented three days to read. I can’t remember the last book that took me three days to read but due to the way he wrote the book, I found myself moving slowly through, hoping it would last even longer.

I looked on goodreads and was shocked to find that there were basically two kinds of reviews for this book, five-star reviews and one star reviews. I really can’t see the reasoning behind the one star reviews. I tend to be rather objective but for some reason this one just captured me to the point where I found their arguments not making a bit of sense to me.  I will say that this book is high fantasy but will not be what you expect and I think the readers who come away disappointed or can’t finish it might feel that way because it doesn’t go in a direction their preconceived notions can accept. There are some who argue that the main character suffers is a Mary Sue, which I completely disagree with. This book has too much emotional depth for that to be the case. I honestly wanted to ask the reviewers if they were reading the same book that I was.

This one is definitely worth picking up if you are a fan of a good fantasy novel. I immediately put in a request for the second one and will be looking for this series when I go to my local library’s warehouse sale this weekend to see if I can pick them up and add them to my library. These books definitely need to join my collection.

Final Rating:

Need more than one copy!!

Need more than one copy!!

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Weekly Reader No. 1

So, I have this problem. I’ve been reading tons and tons of books and feeling very guilty about not writing reviews on all of them. After all, what is the point of book blogging if I read and don’t blog?? However, I’ve been on a major reading binge ever since school got out and the idea of sitting down to write reviews on all the amazing (and some not so amazing) books that I’ve been reading, just seemed like a bit much. Also, when I read this way I get a huge backlog of book reviews. So I’m going to try posting things that I’ve read from week to week on Mondays. If I feel like a book needs a lengthy review, I’ll write it but most books are going to get a few sentences. For the purposes of this format, we are going to go to a simple five-star rating system (regular reviews will still use the regular blog system).

 

89507-hp5The week started with a reread of the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. I used to reread all the time. I love the thrill of going back to something familiar. It’s like visiting an old friend from college. You rehash the same stories with a joyful air knowing exactly what will happen. You catch greater nuance and discover things you never knew but it still has a comfort level that a new book simply misses.  This time through the books, the complexity of the relationship between Harry and his muggle family stood out to me most. Petunia and Dudley in particular.  I do wish that we had seen Dudley standing on platform 9 and ¾s during the epilogue. It would have been poetic justice.  I love going back to visit this world and will always wish that Rowling would go back to her magical world. While I’m excited to read her latest, nothing will ever quite compare to Harry Potter. Rating –  ★★★★★

 

I had a bit of book hangover after reading that series. I couldn’t seem to pick up anything for a couple of days. Finally I settled down and dove into VIII by H.M. Castor. A fictional retelling of the life of Henry the VIII which was exactly the kind of thing I needed to get through my Harry Potter book hangover. So often historical fiction about his reign comes form the point of view of one of his many wives. It was interesting as the author strove to get inside his brain. I think what I found most interesting was all of the politics that went on with his first marriage. This book would be a great starting point to create interest about Henry the VIII. Rating – ★★★★

 

I have a love/hate relationship with Charles de Lint. I love some of his stuff and simply can’t get through other things he writes. I think it’s largely me. I’ve picked up some of his Newford stuff and loved it. However I tried to get through Dreams Underfoot, the first book and I simply couldn’t do it.  Sadly this one went back in my library bag, mostly unread. I might return to it at some point. I think I just picked it up at the wrong time. I hesitate to rate it right now but I rate everything so… Rating – ★

 

I’m not a judge a book by it’s cover kind of girl, but this one is lovely.

I’m not quite done with The Chaos of Stars by Kiersten White but should finish in the next hour or so.  I have a feeling I know exactly where this book is going and I think I’m going to enjoy getting there. I love the idea of looking at Egypt’s mythology as the focus. So far the main character is very enjoyable to read and the author captures the idea of not fitting in anywhere in a somewhat simplistic but sincere manner.  While it is definitely light reading, it is entertaining. Rating – ★★★

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Book Review: While Beauty Slept

Book: While Beauty Slept

Author: Elizabeth Blackwell

Recommend: If you like retold fairy tales from another point of view then definitely.

I have been wanting to read this book for weeks. I started in on it at a Barnes and Noble and  got about a fourth of the way in before I got tapped on the shoulder and was kindly but firmly reminded that the store, in fact, was closing in five minutes and they would be happy to help me at the register. While I love my bookstore, I simply didn’t have the cash that day to pick it up and so I walked out, sadly empty-handed, wanting to read more.

I finally got my hands on a copy this week and devoured it in one sitting. What a great retelling of the Sleeping Beauty tale that is devoid of all the fairy nonsense and instead paints a much more realistic picture. Think of this as the Sleeping Beauty version of the movie, Ever After. In fact, I wonder if the author got the idea for this book from the movie.

The only issue that I had with the story was that while it definitely didn’t focus on the girl of the fairy tale, I do wish Rose had been in it a bit more. it felt a bit rushed in a way. The events that had factored into the tale we know don’t come into play until at least halfway through the book and the central line of the story isn’t in place until the last thirty pages.

I absolutely loved the main character of this book. She seemed leap from the pages of the book. This book accomplished what so many can’t, the words seemed to disappear and instead of just seeing it, it was like being a part of it.

I dove in expecting Rose and got lady-in-waiting which was actually a find than what I had expected. Definitely worth the read!

Final Rating:

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The Lupus Encyclopedia by Donald E. Thomas, M.D.

Lupus Book Review

The Lupus Encyclopedia

The Lupus Encyclopedia

The Lupus Encyclopedia: A Comprehensive Guide for Patients and Families (A Johns Hopkins Press Health Book) by Donald E. Thomas, Jr., M.D., FACP, FACR, was recently released.  Within the astounding 43 chapters is an in-depth and exhaustive discussion of the many facets of lupus.  This book is for lupus patients, but is not a quick read, but between two covers holds a broad library of balanced lupus topics that are worthy of investing some time and study.

There is so much in this book, but where should you start?  Begin in the Preface, where Dr. Thomas sets forth seven specific steps a lupus patient may use right away to get the greatest benefits from his book:

  1. Go to the 3 page Lupus Secrets Checklist in Chapter 44
  2. Read the listed specific chapters Dr. Thomas recommends reading next
  3. Get a copy of your medical records, notes, labs, x-rays, etc.
  4. Skim interesting chapters to find and go back to spend more time on ones that apply most to you
  5. Consult the Patient Resources at the end of the book
  6. Visit Dr. Thomas’ Facebook page and follow him on Twitter for current lupus news
  7. Consider sending an email to Dr. Thomas with suggestions for future editions

After ferreting out reliable lupus information for more than twenty years since my diagnosis in the early 1990s, it really seemed there were few sources of fresh information about Lupus, without going to books and references written for the medical community.  This book provides an understandable reference resource appropriate for patients. Happily, there is great depth and much to learn from reading and referring to this important book!

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Check out this new Lupus book!

Dr. Thomas clearly demonstrates his broad understanding of Lupus, and this book should stand the test of time as one of the great books about this complex auto-immune disease.  The first printing of this exhaustive patient reference initially sold out in both hard and soft cover edition at a reduced price through Amazon.com but a few more copies are now available, and more are on the way.  It is also sold at BarnesandNoble.com in both cover styles and as a Nook e-book at the lowest price I have seen online so far.  If other sources are out of stock and you don’t mind paying full list price, purchase it direct from the publisher’s website at John Hopkin’s University Press.

I heartily recommend The Lupus Encyclopedia, and urge you to check it out, too.

Final Rating:

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Book Review: The Road

Book: The Road

Author: Cormac McCarthy

Recommend: This one is not for the faint of heart but worth the read.

I have heard so much about this book. It is mentioned almost constantly when discussing post-apocalyptic works as the standard to measure against and now that I’ve read it, I can completely understand why.

This story centers around a boy and his father as they travel through a burned out country where most of the people they meet are corpses or much worse.  The lack of complete detail in this book about why the world is the way that it is actually adds to its intensity. You have no idea why the world burned or what caused their struggle, only that they fighting to stay alive in the grim world they are faced with.

Definitely worth picking up but the gore level and suicidal tendencies might keep younger readers from this one. Not easy to get through but well worth the journey.

Final Rating:

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Book Review: The Snow Queen

Book: The Snow Queen

Author: Mercedes Lackey

Recommend: It was a fun read but not as good as some of the others have been.

This is the next book in the Five Hundred Kingdoms series and I have been having quite a bit of fun getting through these. I really love discovering an established series like this because you don’t have to wait months or even years for the next book like you might have to if you are reading a series through as they are published. I often find myself not getting to the next book in a series once it does come out simply because I don’t want to be disappointed in the end. However, when you’ve got a handful of books to go through at once, you want to keep reading through like I have been with this set.

This story focuses on the tale of The Snow Queen almost exclusively but it takes it and explains to the reader that we’ve only misunderstood this cold figure. In fact, she is one of the godmothers but she is responsible for one tale and one tale only. She takes self centered brats and gives them exactly what they want until they realize that they don’t want it after all. However when someone begins to do the things that she would never, even if the legends say otherwise, she must step off of her throne and into the story in order to stop the false Snow Queen from taking her place and establishing evil in her kingdoms.

I loved the idea behind this one but I am actually ready for her to return to one of the more familiar tales. While most of these touch on one I’ve heard once or twice, I would find it more interesting if it was Sleeping Beauty or Beauty and the Beast (although I know that one is coming). Even a retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk or The Swan Princess would be good. I just think that she had spent the last couple of books in things that weren’t quite familiar enough for this audience. Although they are fun reads, I think she would do better if they were more familiar ones. Still, I can’t wait to crack open the next one tomorrow.

Final Rating:

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Book Review: Redshirts

Book: Redshirts

Author: John Scalzi

Recommend: If you’re a fan of star trek and understood what the title meant without looking then absolutely!

I’m a big star trek fan. My favorite series is Next Generation by far. I can’t stand the original series in more than tiny occasional doses. I have liked some of the other series and have one I simply couldn’t stomach but yep, I am  Trekkie. When I was younger I used to sneak out after I was supposed to be in bed and hide behind the couch in order to watch episodes of TNG, only getting caught occasionally.

So when I saw this book at the library it simply had to end up coming home with me and when I finally got a chance to crack it open, it definitely did not disappoint. The whole thing was hilarious and set in a show that was a bad ripoff of Star Trek (probably due to copyright issues). There are few books that made me laugh as much as this one did.

The only slight negative that I could find was that in some places the adult situations while not overly explicit simply didn’t feel like the fit the overall tone of the book. There are a couple of places where you can really feel the author poking through which can be a bit distracting. Other than that, if you are a Star Trek fan and can handle a bit of Trekkie satire, this one is worth picking up.

Final Rating:

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Book Review: One Good Knight

Book: One Good Knight

Author: Mercedes Lackey

Recommend: Yes, this is a great follow-up to The Fairy Godmother.

I picked up the first book in the series yesterday and I’m already through book number two. This one centers around a girl named Andromeda who is a Princess but isn’t exactly what her mother thinks a princess should be. Just as she finally gets the attention she had always craved from her mother, who is beginning to see her value at last, a dragon begins to terrorize the kingdom and everything spirals out of control.

I am really loving these books because they manage to smash a whole lot of fairy tales together, show the characters fighting against what the tales want them to do, all while attempting to do the right thing. Fractured fairy tales are some of my favorites to read and this series really doesn’t disappoint. From beginning to end you find yourself rooting for Andie, hoping that somehow she’ll get her happily ever after, after all.

The writing in this book is much improved over the first one. The whole thing feels tighter and like it had better editing. The only thing that mad me roll my eyes were the dragons. However, while I was rolling my eyes I was also laughing so the pun wasn’t too terrible. The ending was sweet but could have used a bit more build up. Other than that, this was a great read.

Final Rating:

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Get it used…

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Book Review: The Fairy Godmother

Don’t let the cover keep you from picking this one up!

Book: The Fairy Godmother

Author: Mercedes Lackey

Recommend: If you enjoy a classic fantasy tale with a fairy tale twist, this is the starter of a series that has been fun so far.

I have been told by a bunch of people that this author was right up my alley. The thing is, she had written a ton of books, which is great but figuring out where to start was going to be difficult. So when I saw there was a series of books based on fairy tales, I decided that I would start there. I love when a fairy tale is retold well and this series seemed to do exactly that.

The first book in the series explained exactly how fairy godmothers become what they are. It follows a girl who was supposed to become a Cinderella type tale but there was no available prince the right age and so she was stuck with her stepmother, living out a life of slavery without a chance of relief in sight. At least, until a fairy godmother comes along looking for an apprentice.

I loved how the writer explained this fairy tale based world. The characters are interesting and the pacing is really good. The characters were easy to connect with while still maintaining their archetype characteristics, even as they step outside the bounds of their fairy tales.

The only thing that I wish was that the writing quality had been a bit higher. While it definitely wasn’t bad, it lacked a level of energy that I think the story needed to be more effective. Not to say that it wasn’t enjoyable, I just feel like it was so close to being amazing and missed the mark just slightly.

Really good, solid read and I can’t wait to get into the rest of the series.

Final Rating:

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Get it used…

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Book Review: The Elite

Book: The Elite

Author: Kiera Cass

Recommend: If you are a fan of angst, this one is for you – if not, run far and fast!

I hoped. I really did. I was all ready for something somewhat simple. I hoped actually that it wouldn’t turn into this big huge fight over the prince but I knew that it would have to be that. I mean why else would you write a book like this honestly? This one feels much more like a reality TV show and less like a classic story except for a scene stolen from Anna and the King (or The King and I – whichever you prefer). I get all the conflict. I really do but I was hoping that I wouldn’t have to go through all that angst. I really wanted something simple and sweet instead of catty, conflicted and confusing.

Honestly at this point in the story, one of the main players is feeling completely unnecessary. I really wish this character would just disappear, even though I know he or she won’t because they are too central to the plot. While I really enjoyed this one, there were some times through the book that it almost went flying across the room.

The big negative for me was the change in the prince. Yes, I get that we are seeing past his veneer in some ways but I feel like it could have been handled in a much more graceful manner. He does redeem himself throughout the book but there are also points where America’s conflict feels somewhat forced. I also think the story could have gone on just fine without a couple of scenes that made me want to hurl a little.

I would say the biggest strength of this series is the complex storyline that they author is able to balance while still focusing on the small group of main players. I am rather annoyed with the second book but in a way that will make me rush to get the third installment, The One, in my hands as soon as I can. I’ll be hunting down this one as soon as possible.

Final Rating:

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Children’s Book Review: Nick and Tesla’s Secret Agent Gadget Battle

Book: Nick and Tesla’s Secret Agent Gadget Battle

Authors Bob Pflugfelder and Steven Hockensmith

Recommend: Definitely! Great for the young readers in your life…

So I got this book as an advanced reader copy after having reviewed the first two books in the series. I was happy to get my hands on this one, which i addition to the first two books have been passed on to my nephews.

These books again follow the adventures of the twins, this time both the twins and their uncle are being spied on and they must figure out what is going on before it is too late! I love the readability of these books for young kids and the way they make science look fun and interesting not only for the future but for things they can do now. I love this simple but fun way to integrate science into reading. It is a great example of cross-curricular material. This week, I gave the most recent book to my sister-in-law and she commented on how she was thinking about using it for homeschooling and that she liked the fact that the books seemed to stick to physics and engineering without diving into more controversial subjects, like evolution.

The idea of using fiction as a vehicle to science is a great one and after being inspired by my sister-in-laws’ comments, I just might have to show these to the teachers at my school.

Definitely worth the time to read and a great way to find a learning activity that your child will want to do with you.

Final Rating:

Get it new!

Buy it new :)

 

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Book Review: The Selection

Book: The Selection

Author: Kiera Cass

Recommend: Surprisingly yes!

Okay, I’ve heard about this book from fellow reviewers and when I heard the main character’s name I simply couldn’t get over it and decided that I wouldn’t read this one even though there was a ton of buzz about it. An author who can’t even come up with a decent name was not about to take up my time. However, when I had a close friend tell me that I simply had to read it despite the name, I reluctantly picked it up and I’m so glad that I did!

With hints of the Biblical story of Esther combines with reality TV, this series has a fresh new spin that has been lacking for quite a bit of the YA I’ve read lately. The main character is truly conflicted and is trying to figure out who she is and what she is capable of. I love how this character really struggles with what she she do in a way I haven’t seen in much YA recently. There really isn’t an obvious choice and I have picked a boy that I’m hoping to win for the first time in a long time because it’s not obvious what her choice will be.

The only real weakness with this book is the names. They really are painful but after a while they can be avoided.

This is definitely one to pick up if you are a YA fan.

Final Rating:

Get it new!

Buy it new :)

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Filed under Review, romance, Sci-Fi/ Fantasy, Teen Book review

Book Review: The Weird Sisters

Book: The Weird Sisters

Author: Eleanor Brown

Recommend: This is a very different and original tale. One that is outside what I normally read but I loved it!

There are different kinds of reads. Some books race through forcing page turn after page turn, making it impossible to put down until you make that final flip. They make the reader frantic, cause hearts to race and can leave you breathless. There are books that tear the reader’s heart out a little more with ever page turn and bring them back up with only a few words. Then there are books that really make you think. One where you put it down every few pages and contemplate what the author is saying. This book is one of the last kind. It took my twice as long as it should have to get through this one because it kept me thinking the whole way through.

This story tells the tale of three sisters who have grown up in a small college town with their professor father and stay at home mom. The girls had all come home after some kind of failure or another to a mother sick with cancer and a father trying to cope with his wife’s illness. Each of the girls dealing with the mess that their lives have become. One pregnant without having any kind of plan. Another freshly fired for stealing from her job. The third about to tear apart her relationship out of fear.

This book really dived into common aspects of what the girls were going through that could be understood and related to by any reader. While I don’t have a parent with cancer, I do have one with a severe illness that can cause her issues. I am the oldest child like the main character. We have all done things we regret and continued to do others in order to not deal with the guilt like Bean. We have all felt completely unprepared for adulthood like Cordy. Add in a family that reads like mad and you have something that almost any reader can connect with and learn from.

The only slight negative I might be able to come up with is that the narrator can be a bit hard to pinpoint, however it is very effective for the story being told. If you aren’t ready for a bit of confusion on this it might through you a little bit. Definitely worth the slight aggravation though.

This book is one that deserves a lot more attention than it has received.

Final Rating:

Need more than one copy!!

Need more than one copy!!

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Filed under general fiction, Review

Books Review: Nick and Tesla’s High Voltage Danger Lab and Robot Army Rampage

Book: Nick and Tesla’s High-Voltage Danger Lab

Book: Nick and Tesla’s Robot Army Rampage

Recommend: This is a great kid series that is heavy on the science in a really fun way!

So I was contacted by an agent on this one. I decided that I definitely wouldn’t mind reading some books and letting my librarian know if they were worth getting at the school and possibly sending them on to my nephews when I had finished with them and so I wrote back, volunteering to do a review on these. I am so glad that I did.

These books center around twins, Nick and Tesla whose parents have to go away on some kind of research trip. The two kids are sent to stay with their rather eccentric uncle who is a bit absent-minded professor combined with a bit of mad scientist. While the kids enjoy the freedom they have at their uncle’s house to experiment, they miss their parents and end up getting themselves in over their heads in both books.

A bit detective novel, a bit science manual and a whole lot of fun, these books include instructions to conduct some of the experiments in the books and to build some of the contraptions that are included. The book is very clear that kids should get adult supervision and some thing might require a parent read first so that the supplies are on hand when the kids get to that section of the book. However, the idea that kids can take what they are reading about and immediately create it is one of the coolest ideas I’ve seen since Choose Your Own Adventure books.

Not only am I going to be recommending this to my school librarian, I am also going to send it to my brother. I can see my home-schooled nephews getting a great kick out of these books because they love to build whatever they can get their hands on. Definitely worth picking up!

Final Rating:

Get it new!

Buy it new :)

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Filed under Children's book review, Review, Spy/intrigue

Book Review: Monument 14 Sky on Fire

Book: Monument 14 Sky on Fire

Author: Emmy Laybourne

Recommend: This was interesting but a bit thin in both length and depth of material.

I loved the first book in this series even though on paper it sounded like almost every other dystopian novel I had read. So when I heard about the second book in the series I knew I had to get my hands on it as soon as possible so I put in for a reserve. Well, it came out and I read it and was sadly disappointed. It had nothing on the first book and was a pale imitation.

First of all, the first book was on the shorter side. The second book hardly qualified as a full book. While this definitely furthered the plot, it seemed rushed. The author seemed to have been forced to write this one on a very short timeline or the editor overdid it and cut far too much. I was hoping for a strong follow-up and instead got a pale imitation instead. Not worth the time and I don’t think I’ll be finishing this story.

Final Rating:

Get it free

Get it free

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Filed under Review, Teen Book review

Book Review: Dead Ever After

Book: Dead Ever After

Author: Charlaine Harris

Recommend: If you’ve read the rest of the series, I don’t think you’ll be able to avoid it, although I think poor fan fiction would be better written than this book…

I have read this whole series form the first book on. A friend of mine at work recommended them after she realized that I loved the Twilight series and that I could probably use something more adult. While I enjoyed the first few books of the series, I got tired of Sookie‘s constant relationship shifts. After the fourth or fifth one, I was done with the ridiculousness although I continued to read because I was so far into the series.

I kept hoping that somehow she would get a fresh inspiration and decided where she wanted the whole thing to go but by the last book of the series it was still feeling stale and the ending was crazy forced. Let’s not even discuss who Sookie ends up with at the end and how annoyed I was by that whole thing. It felt like it came completely out of left field and was done to tick off a large portion of the audience. While there was no way to make everyone happy, she picked the ending that I think made the least amount of people happy.

The last book was completely anticlimactic and the story was lacking. Definitely not a good reason to start this series up but if you’ve read to this point I don’t quite know how you could resist the last book in the series. All the same, I’m glad I picked this one up at the library instead of paying for it.

Final Rating:

TRASH IT!!

TRASH IT!!

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Filed under mystery, Review, Sci-Fi/ Fantasy