Jessica's books

The One and Only Ivan
Revolutionary War on Wednesday
Leprechaun in Late Winter
Ella Enchanted
The Courage of Sarah Noble
Plain Murder
Gone-Away Lake
Circling the Sun
Maggie and Max
The Haunting of Sunshine Girl
The Night Sister
Tuck Everlasting
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Bedknob and Broomstick
Mister Monday
Alice Through the Looking Glass
The Birchbark House
The Hobbit
The Witch's Daughter

Jessica's favorite books »

Monday, April 25, 2011

Book Review: Moonglass by Jessi Kirby


Title:  Moonglass
Author:  Jessi Kirby
Publisher:  Simon & Schuster
Publication Date:  May 3, 2011
Source:  Good Golly Miss Holly Tours

Synopsis (from Goodreads): 
From Jessi Kirby, a debut novel about confronting the past in order to move ahead.

I read once that water is a symbol for emotions. And for a while now, I've thought maybe my mother drowned in both.

Anna's life is upended when her father accepts a job transfer the summer before her junior year. It's bad enough that she has to leave her friends and her life behind, but her dad is moving them to the beach where her parents first met and fell in love- a place awash in memories that Anna would just as soon leave under the surface.
While life on the beach is pretty great, with ocean views and one adorable lifeguard in particular, there are also family secrets that were buried along the shore years ago. And the ebb and flow of the ocean's tide means that nothing- not the sea glass that she collects on the sand and not the truths behind Anna's mother's death- stays buried forever.

My Thoughts:  This book did hook me at the beginning.  In fact, I had a somewhat hard time to get into it but I'm glad I stuck with it because it did get better.
I really enjoyed how well developed the characters were.  Anna acted like a real teenager.  She wasn't too childish but wasn't a complete spoiled brat either.  I really liked the relationship between Tyler and Anna.  It was very realistic.
I loved the description of Crystal Cove!  The author made everything seem real and I could picture it all clearly.  I loved the descriptions of the ocean and how Anna feels while at the beach and while running.  I loved her competition at the first track practice and her determination to beat the best runner on the team. 
So, while it was a little slow for me at the beginning, it was well worth the read.  The ending was very well done and it will leave you wishing for summer at the beach!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Book Review: Vicious Little Darlings by Katherine Easer

Title:  Vicious Little Darlings
 Author:  Katherine Easer
Publisher:  Bloomsbury USA Children's Books
Publish Date:  June 21, 2011

Synopsis (from Goodreads):  Sarah Weaver wasn't looking forward to starting at an all-girls school. But that was before she met Maddy. Maddy and her best friend, Agnes, are fun and rich and interesting—and for some reason, they seem to really like Sarah. Before long, Maddy and Agnes have moved Sarah into a big house off campus, where they cook together, buy each other presents, and share each other's secrets. So why does Sarah feel like something's bizarrely wrong? As more and more cracks start to show in Maddy's and Agnes's perfect veneers, Sarah notices some strange and disturbing things: Maddy's compulsive lying, Agnes's obsession with Maddy, and the deterioration of their friendship. And just when Sarah begins to question her own sanity, things turns deadly. Fans of Pretty Little Liars will devour this juicy debut novel.

My Thoughts:  If I had to describe this book in one word it would be:  Bizarre!  And creepy....very creepy.  However, it was so creepy and bizarre that I could not stop reading it!  I had to find out what was happening and why.

Sarah's grandma sends her to Wetherely College so she will "become a lady".  Sarah's parents are nonexistent and her grandma does not approve of Sarah's wild and promiscuous ways.  Once at Wetherely, Sarah finds her room...and her roommate Maddy.  In fact, she walks in on Maddy and Maddy's boyfriend in a very private moment. 

From there, things just get weird.  Maddy and Sarah go to a cafe to eat and meet Maddy's very best friend, Agnes.  Agnes is classy and old fashioned and extremely protective of Maddy.  Agnes is almost obsessed with Maddy.  On the way home Agnes hits a fawn and the girls take it to their dorm room and hide it while they nurse it back to health.

Then Agnes decides that they need to move off campus into a house together.  Agnes and Maddy are both very wealthy and Agnes tells Sarah she will pay for all the expenses.   Sarah doesn't know whether the girls are friends or lovers and spends her time there trying to decipher their relationship.

Sarah is your average girl. She is always trying to please people because she really just wants to feel like she belongs somewhere.  Sarah is not wealthy and has problems with taking things from Agnes for free.  Sarah tries to get a boyfriend and a job but these things are mysteriously sabotaged. 

Maddy was crazy.  She had a very Jekyll and Hyde personality.  She appears to be a chronic, pathological liar.  She seemed like a young child to me most times.  She has this strange obsession with dying young and death in general.  She was someone that kept me on my toes!

Agnes is very cold and detached unless it has to do with Maddy.  She doesn't like Sarah at all but puts up with her because Maddy likes her.  She is very possessive and appears to be a lesbian and madly in love with Maddy. 

This has got to be one of the strangest books I have ever read.  I never knew what was going to happen and I loved it!  I could not put the book down at all just because I had to find out who was good and who was pure evil. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Book Review: Born at Midnight by C.C. Hunter

Born at Midnight (Shadow Falls, #1)

Synopsis (from Goodreads): 
Don’t miss this spectacular new series that will steal your heart and haunt your dreams, Welcome to Shadow Falls camp, nestled deep in the woods of a town called Fallen…
One night Kylie Galen finds herself at the wrong party, with the wrong people, and it changes her life forever. Her mother ships her off to Shadow Falls—a camp for troubled teens, and within hours of arriving, it becomes painfully clear that her fellow campers aren’t just “troubled.” Here at Shadow Falls, vampires, werewolves, shapshifters, witches and fairies train side by side—learning to harness their powers, control their magic and live in the normal world.
Kylie’s never felt normal, but surely she doesn’t belong here with a bunch of paranormal freaks either. Or does she? They insist Kylie is one of them, and that she was brought here for a reason. As if life wasn’t complicated enough, enter Derek and Lucas. Derek’s a half-fae who’s determined to be her boyfriend, and Lucas is a smokin’ hot werewolf with whom Kylie shares a secret past. Both Derek and Lucas couldn’t be more different, but they both have a powerful hold on her heart.
Even though Kylie feels deeply uncertain about everything, one thing is becoming painfully clear—Shadow Falls is exactly where she belongs…

My Thoughts:  I had so much fun reading this book!  I loved the sarcastic humor throughout the book and it was a fast and easy read.

Kylie is not having the best time of her life.  Her Nana passed away, her parents are getting a divorce and her father insists that Kylie stay with her "ice queen" mother and her boyfriend broke up with her.  To take some of the stress off, Kylie heads to a party with her best friend.  Of course, as luck would have it, this party gets busted by the cops for underage drinking.  To deal with this "rebellious" behavior, Kylie's mom ships her off to a summer camp for juvenile delinquents that Kylie's shrink has recommended.  Kylie is so not looking forward to a summer with the "freaks" she meets on the bus.

After Kylie gets to the camp, she realizes it is not what it appears to be at all.  Instead of juvenile delinquents, these "freaks" are supernatural beings.  Kylie is not sure why she is at Shadow Falls since she is a "normal" human being....or is she?  As her camp counselor talks to her and shows her that Kylie is seeing ghosts, Kylie has to wonder if she really is normal and if not, what kind of supernatural being is she?

Kylie was snarky and fun and she really wasn't a "bad" girl.  She was in the wrong place at the wrong time.  I really liked how she pined for Trey a little but when it came down to it, she was strong enough to say "enough".  She was not whiny, just sarcastic.  I didn't find Kylie at all annoying.  I found myself not wanting to put the book down so I could find out what exactly Kylie was.  I loved the mystery that surrounded her. 

Kylie's roommates were awesome!  Miranda is a cute little witch that is super boy crazy.  She was dyslexic and felt like a failure because she always messed up her spells (just ask poor Mr. Pepper).  I loved the curse she put on Mr. Pepper and I enjoyed how he would just "pop" in to say hi to Miranda. 

Della is a vampire who comes across as strong and untouchable.  However, she is deeply afraid of how her traditional Chinese father and the rest of her family will take the news that she's a vampire.  She is hurt by Miranda and Kylie's disgust of her drinking blood and won't even ask them to donate blood for her.  I really liked Della and liked how her problems were semi-solved in the end.

Then there are the boys!  Trey, Kylie's ex-boyfriend is a jerk.  He wants sex and only sex and when Kylie won't give it up, he breaks up with her.  Lucas is a boy from Kylie's past.  I'm hoping his story develops more in the next because otherwise, I'm not quite sure what his part was all about besides just being a part of a love triangle.  It could have been left out and there wouldn't have been a huge difference.  Derek is a Fae and another love interest.  I really liked Derek.  He was a gentleman but not so much that he didn't come across as a real teenage boy.  And finally, Burnett, the FRU agent that has the hots for Holiday, one of the camp counselors.  He comes across as a jerk but really I think he was a decent guy.  And finally, there's Perry.  Perry is a shape-shifter who is madly in love with Miranda but won't tell her.  I loved Perry, especially as a kitten (must read the book to find out what this means).

This book was funny, mysterious, romantic and slightly suspenseful.  It was a super fast read and completely entertaining.  I cannot wait for Awake at Dawn now!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Book Review: Other Words for Love by Lorraine Zago Rosenthal

Other Words for Love

Synopsis (from Goodreads):  When an unexpected inheritance enables Ari to transfer to an elite Manhattan prep school, she makes a wealthy new friend, Leigh. Leigh introduces Ari to the glamorous side of New York--and to her gorgeous cousin, Blake. Ari doesn't think she stands a chance, but amazingly, Blake asks her out. As their romance heats up, they find themselves involved in an intense, consuming relationship. Ari's family worries that she is losing touch with the important things in life, like family, hard work, and planning for the future.

When misfortune befalls Blake's family, he pulls away, and Ari's world drains of color. As she struggles to get over the breakup, Ari must finally ask herself: were their feelings true love . . . or something else?

My thoughts:  I wasn't sure if I would love this book or hate it but I was pleasantly surprised to find that I really enjoyed it.  I was not disappointed at all!

Taking place in the 1980s, this story is about a normal teenage girl, Ari.  She is self-conscious and her best friend is also her worst enemy (isn't that how it always is in high school?).  She transfers from her public school into a private school (after receiving some money when her uncle passes away)and there she meets Leigh and Leigh's cousins (Blake and Del).  Blake and Ari become involved and I really enjoyed reading about their relationship.  Blake was not pushy about sex at all and I liked that about him.  The 1980s was the beginning of the big AIDS scare and Ari witnesses the effects of a teenage pregnancy when her sister gets pregnant at 17.  Luckily for her sister, the baby's father, Patrick, marries her and she is having another baby.

I really liked Ari.  She was SO real!  I remember feeling exactly how she feels sometimes.  She is desperate for some male attention (her father is very distant) and develops a crush on her brother-in-law.  Then she meets Blake and all her dreams get pushed aside and her grades drop.  I loved how the story wasn't your typical "happily ever after" unrealistic ending.  I felt for Ari but she ended up becoming a very strong character at the end.

I loved that the book dealt with some depression issues as well.  Evelyn, Ari's sister, spent some time in the psych ward and is constantly battling depression.  Ari has to deal with growing apart from her sister and her sister's horrible insults. 

I thought this book dealt with a lot of tough issues and it dealt with these issues beautifully.  The characters (all of them!) were well developed and awesome.  The ending was (in my opinion) perfect and I would highly recommend this to young girls and adult women!  I look forward to reading more from Rosenthal!

**I received this book from Good Golly Miss Holly ARC tours**

Teaser Tuesday: 4/12/11

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)

  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
 "No, as in I didn't wake up screaming bloody murder.  I just passed out when  a bloody ghost showed up for a visit.  After a visit from a shape-shifting kitten and a perverted toad."  ~pg. 134 of Born at Midnight by C.C. Hunter

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Some New Information!

Everyone who follows me knows that I love to read!  I mean, really, that is what this blog is all about but now I'm going to change it up a little.  I'm still reviewing and reading, don't worry.  But I'm going to add some posts on other things that I enjoy.  Things like getting a great deal! 

There was a time when my family was broke!  My husband is a cop in a small area and while the pay is pretty good for a cop in a small area, it's still not great.  After getting pregnant with my second child I had to quit my job due to a high risk pregnancy.  I never went back to work so we did what a lot of people did and used credit cards, took out loans and lived way beyond our means.  Of course, it didn't take long to catch up with us.  Long story short...we got out of debt, no longer have credit cards (except Les Schwabs) and live within our means.  We are doing pretty good now....BUT...when I can save money, I will.  Why pay full price for things when you don't have too?

I started looking at our grocery bill.  I didn't shop sales, didn't use coupons or anything.  Just bought what I wanted without even glancing at prices.  I was spending anywhere from $250 to $400 EVERY TWO WEEKS!  Then, my good friend over at California Clippin' started posting her savings, stockpiles, etc.  I entered one of her giveaways, won and here I am now! 

I'm just starting out but I am pretty excited about my trip this week!  I am just building up my stockpiles but it's fun for me to see what I can get for free or at least way cheaper.  Am I as good as those extreme couponers?  Not yet but once I get my stockpiles built up I hope to save at least 50% everytime! 

So, here is my trip this week:


This trip included 2 gallons of milk, 6 bags of Tyson chicken nuggets/strips/patties, 10 Easy Mac cups, 10 cans of spaghettios, 6 cans of tuna fish, 4 (4-packs) of Dole fruit cups, 3 bodywashes, 2 kids mouth rinse, 3 deodorants, just to name some of it. 

Total before savings:  $169.63
After rewards card and coupons:  $98.03!


Includes a 6-pack of paper towels, Secret Clinical (2), Purex crystals, Dawn (2), KY Your & Mine, Pantene and Always Infinity pads plus more.

Total before card and savings: $138
Total after card and savings:  $60.09 (plus I received $5 in Wal-Greens register rewards bringing my total down to $55.09)!

So like I said, it's not extreme couponing yet but I can't wait to start shopping for free and building up my stockpiles!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Book Review: Fallen Angel by Heather Terrell

Fallen Angel

Synopsis (from Goodreads):  
Ellie was never particularly good at talking to boys—or anyone other than her best friend and fellow outcast, Ruth. Then she met Michael.
Michael is handsome, charming, sweet. And totally into Ellie. It’s no wonder she is instantly drawn to him. But Michael has a secret. And he knows Ellie is hiding something, too. They’ve both discovered they have powers beyond their imagining. Powers that are otherworldly.
Ellie and Michael are determined to uncover what they are, and how they got this way . . . together. But the truth has repercussions neither could have imagined. Soon they find themselves center stage in an ancient conflict that threatens to destroy everything they love. And it is no longer clear whether Ellie and Michael will choose the same side.
In this electrifying novel, Heather Terrell spins a gripping supernatural tale about true love, destiny, and the battle of good versus evil.

My Thoughts:  I really wanted to like this book.  Really, I did.  However, it just didn't cut it for me.  I didn't hate it but I really didn't like it that much either. 

Ellie is your average 16 year old, high school student.  Except for the fact that she can fly.  Oh, and she can get "flashes" from people when she touches them.  She meets Michael and discovers that he shares her secrets.  He also tells her that they met before in Guatemala but she has no recollection.  And after dating for all of 5 minutes, they kiss and then drink each other's blood. 

This story was far-fetched and the characters were flat and/or down right annoying!  Ellie's "do-gooder" attitude got old really fast.  Ruth's constant forgiveness and obsessive behavior was ridiculous and Michael was just sickening.  Plus, the whole story behind the "vampire legend" was ridiculous! 

I was also disappointed in the suspense factor.  The author would build up a suspenseful

I also wasn't crazy with the way Ellie and Michael dealt with their differences.  Ellie thinks she is flying in her dreams and then Michael takes her out and shows her that she is really flying.  Her reaction?  "Really?  I can fly and I like to drink blood?  I must be a vampire".  Hmmm....okay, I guess I would accept that super easily too....yeah right!  Then, Ellie gets ready to sneak out to meet Michael and her parents catch her.  She tells them that they don't know anything about her and her mother's response is "you think you're a vampire, don't you".  Silly girl!  What were you thinking?  It was just ridiculous (have I said how ridiculous this book it yet?). 

Oh, and the was (can you guess?)...ridiculous!  They are in an extremely crowded market place, in the middle of a huge fight between Zeke and Michael and no one notices.  Then, the way that they take care of Michael was rushed and completely unbelievable.  The next chapter, Ellie and Michael are back at home as if nothing has happened. 

So, despite the fact that I really wanted to like this book, it fell short for me.  Big time!  I doubt I will read the second book in this series. 

**I received this book from Star Book Tours**

Book Review: Strings Attached by Judy Blundell

Synopsis (from Goodreads):  
From National Book Award winner Judy Blundell, the tale of a sixteen-year-old girl caught in a mix of love, mystery, Broadway glamour, and Mob retribution in 1950 New York.
When Kit Corrigan arrives in New York City, she doesn't have much. She's fled from her family in Providence, Rhode Island, and she's broken off her tempestuous relationship with a boy named Billy, who's enlisted in the army.
The city doesn't exactly welcome her with open arms. She gets a bit part as a chorus girl in a Broadway show, but she knows that's not going to last very long. She needs help--and then it comes, from an unexpected source.
Nate Benedict is Billy's father. He's also a lawyer involved in the mob. He makes Kit a deal--he'll give her an apartment and introduce her to a new crowd. All she has to do is keep him informed about Billy . . . and maybe do him a favor every now and then.
As she did in her National Book Award-winning What I Saw and How I Lied, Judy Blundell traps readers in a web of love, deceit, intrigue, and murder. The result? One stunner of a novel.

My thoughts:  I loved this book!  I really enjoy historical fiction, especially if the details are accurate and precise. I also love a good mystery!  This book had mystery, murder, romance and the mob. 

 Strings Attached takes place in mostly in 1950 with some flashbacks to the 1940s.  Kit Corrigan is one of the (formerly) famous Corrigan Three.  Being part of a triplet, performing act since birth, Kit knew she was destined for the big stage.  After a family fight, she leaves her traditional Irish home for New York City. 

While there, she meets up with Nate, her former boyfriends father.  Nate is also an attorney for the Mafia.  Wanting to get his son Billy and Kit back together, he offers Kit an appartment of her own, new and fashionable clothing and a job as an elite "Lido Doll".  While it's not Broadway, it's a paying job and so Kit agrees.  The only condition is that she let Nate know what his estranged son is up too and when he comes to town.  At least, that is what Kit thinks the condition is.  As she gets further entangled with Nate, not only does she find out secrets about her own family, but she becomes Nate's spy for the mafia. 

I really identified with Kit because of her issues with her boyfriend/ex-boyfriend, Billy.  I had a boyfriend just like Billy once.  One that was prone to jealous fits, angry outbursts and completely immature behaviour.  However, unlike Kit, I said "screw it" and left.  Kit continually put up with the abuse and swore she couldn't live without Billy. Because of this, I thought Kit was somewhat weak and annoying. 

I hated Billy.  Maybe it was because I kept picturing my ex-boyfriend and it dredged up old feelings or maybe that was the author's intention.  I had no sympathy for Billy, even after the details of past events came to light.  I thought he was completely childish and self-absorbed.  However, I did not expect what happened to Billy at the end.  I liked that I was thrown off like that. 

I really liked Kit's father (Jimmy) and her aunt (Delia).  I could understand the things that Delia did.  I loved how there was a slight mystery to her disappearance and then an ending that answered all questions and tied everything together.  Again though, I was caught completely off guard with what happens to Delia at the end.  I had a suspicion of what would happen in the paragraph before but no clue before then. 

Kit's brother was a mystery to me as well.  I'm still trying to figure out if he was straight or gay, if he had a crush on Billy or not and if anything ever happened between him and Billy.  A lot of unresolved questions for me but maybe I just missed something.

Strings Attached had vivid descriptions of New York City and not just during the day.  Kit was a "Lido Doll" and didn't leave the club until 3:00 AM.  However, she described walking through the New York streets at that crazy hour and how alive it was.  I could picture the apartment perfectly, right down to the ray of sunshine that crossed the kitchen table. 

The research and details of New York in 1950 was great!  The characters were well developed and the story had just the right amount of romance, mystery and suspense.  I could hardly put the book down!

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Friday 56: 4/1/11

The Friday 56 is hosted by Freda over at Freda's Voice!

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56.
*Find any sentence that grabs you.
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post in Linky.

It's that simple.
"He had been a beautiful thing to watch - until the blood began to flow, and I had to run out of the room." ~Strings Attached by Judy Blundell