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 »

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Book Review: Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky

Title:  Awaken
Author:  Katie Kacvinsky
Publisher:  Houghton Mifflin
Publish Date:  May 23, 2011

Synopsis (from Goodreads):  Maddie lives in a world where everything is done on the computer. Whether it’s to go to school or on a date, people don’t venture out of their home. There’s really no need. For the most part, Maddie’s okay with the solitary, digital life—until she meets Justin. Justin likes being with people. He enjoys the physical closeness of face-to-face interactions. People aren’t meant to be alone, he tells her.

Suddenly, Maddie feels something awakening inside her—a feeling that maybe there is a different, better way to live. But with society and her parents telling her otherwise, Maddie is going to have to learn to stand up for herself if she wants to change the path her life is taking.

In this not-so-brave new world, two young people struggle to carve out their own space.

My Thoughts:  Wow!  This book was so good that if it were mine, I would turn around and start reading it all over again!  Seriously, it was THAT good! 

Maddie spends her life inside on computers.  She goes to school via computer, shops via computer, goes to movies via computer.  In fact, there is really no need to leave your house. 

Two years ago, Maddie rebelled and now is on probation. Maddie's father is the creator of DS or Digital Schooling.  Two years ago, Maddie went against DS and now has had her chat groups blocked...for the most part.  Maddie meets Justin online on an online study group.  Justin finally talks Maddie into meeting him in person.  From that moment on, Justin changes Maddie's life and her way of thinking.

I found this book to be a bit scary.  Why?  Because I can see this happening for real.  Can you think of a day where you have been "unplugged" recently?  I am always on my laptop or iPhone.  My kids are always on their DS systems, my phone, etc.  It's crazy to think that you could literally do everything online these days! 

Not only does Maddie do everything online but there are no longer things like trees, leaves, grass, etc.  Everything is plastic.  Convenient?  Yes but really not cool!  I would love to always have perfectly green grass that I don't have to cut but honestly, I won't give up my real grass for that! 

I loved Maddie!  She was rebellious, strong but real.  She had real fears and insecurities without being too weak.  Justin was just hot!  He was strong, brave and stubborn.  I wanted them to get together SO bad!  I was totally on the edge of my seat when it came to their romance!

I enjoyed reading this book because of where it took place as well.  I live an hour from Portland, OR so I could relate to everything the author wrote at the end during Maddie's father's speech.  I know where the Waterfront is and the Freemont Bridge so that was cool for me. 

I am hoping there will be another book after Awaken because I didn't care for the way it ended.  This is my only complaint on the book.  I want the happy ending and there are so many unanswered questions!  If there is another book, you can be sure that I will be first in line to read it!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Book Review: Awakened by P.C. and Kristin Cast

Awakened (House of Night, #8)

Synopsis (from Goodreads):  At the start of Awakened, the pulse-pounding eighth installment of the bestselling House of Night series, Zoey has returned, mostly whole, from the Otherworld to her rightful place as High Priestess at the House of Night. Her friends are just glad to have her back, but after losing her human consort, Heath, will Zoey—or her relationship with her super- hot Warrior, Stark—ever be the same? Stevie Rae is drawn even closer to Rephaim, the Raven Mocker with whom she shares a mysterious and powerful Imprint, but he is a dangerous secret that isolates her from her school, her red fledglings, and even her best friends. When the dark threat of Neferet—who is coming closer and closer to achieving her twisted goal of immortality—and Kalona returns, what will it take to keep the House of Night from being lost forever, and what will one desperate girl do to keep her heart from being irreparably broken?

My Thoughts:  I have enjoyed the House of Night series but I'm thinking it's time to add something new to the plot.  This book was certainly wasn't WOW! 


So, here is what I didn't like about Awakened...
Neferet is still evil and the High Council is still a bunch of dumb vamps.  I mean seriously, don't you think they would have caught on by now?  Everything about Neferet is evil and fake. 

Zoey's wasn't really "a queen in training" for the Isle of Skye.  At least, not in my opinion.  She got some great advice but in no way did the book show how she was being trained.  In fact, I knew that she wasn't going to stay in Skye and the book excerpt kinda made it sound like that was an option.

I really got tired of all the romance.  Jack and Damien were really too mushy for me, as were Zoey and Stark.  And for once, Aphrodite and Darius were not!  I was disappointed in the fact that Zoey is still mourning over Heath one minute and then hops in bed with Stark the next and there is no more on Heath.  All of the sudden she is in love with Stark.  Just a little fast for me.

There was this big deal at the beginning of the book about the rogue red fledglings and so I thought we would be seeing some more of them but I was disappointed. There was one small mention of them and that was it. The same thing with Zoey's grandma, whom I love. She was mentioned in one small part of the book and then we heard no more from her.

The whole book just seemed a little off to me.  The big climax was not at all big, the big fight between good and evil wasn't really that big.  In fact, at the end of the book I was left thinking "that's it?". 

Things I liked about it were...

Stevie Rae and Rephaim's relationship finally got settled, for the most part.  I also liked the relationship change with Kalona and Rephaim.  And I enjoyed how Kalona stood up to Neferet but I wish there would have been some more into that.  Maybe in the next book?

Heath is back!  I like how he is going to play into the next book.  That alone has me wanting to read the next in the series. 

While I didn't like Zoey's mom, I really didn't think she deserved to die.  But, it adds something new to the story so I guess I will add this to the "like" list. 

So, that's about it.  I am not sure how the authors are going to drag out 4 more books in this series.  I'm thinking it's time to wrap things up at the House of Night.  At least, with Zoey, Neferet, etc. -Oh, another good thing about this was fairly short.  I finished it within 2 days and I think that if it had gone on much longer I wouldn't have been able to finish it. 

Like I said, it wasn't bad but it wasn't great.  If you have been reading House of Night books and are loyal then you should read it.  If you don't really may want to pass on it!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Book Review: Best Books for Boys by Pam Allyn

Pam Allyn's Best Books for Boys: How to Engage Boys in Reading in Ways That Will Change Their Lives

Title:  Best Books for Boys
Author:  Pam Allyn
Publisher:  Scholastic Teaching Resources
Publish Date:  May 1, 2011

Synopsis (from Goodreads):   Get all boys reading with this extraordinary guide—chock-full of a wide range of must-read titles organized by interest, age, and development. With this resource in hand, you'll never again struggle to find the right book for even your most reluctant readers. The carefully chosen book selections are accompanied by brief explanations of each book, and a recurring feature, Talk About It, will help you extend the book through conversation, supporting and enhancing the reading experience. In addition, ready-to-use lessons align with themes and topics of special interest to boys that will motivate and inspire them to read more. Finally, Pam answers your most pressing questions about the challenges for boys as readers and shows you how you can maximize environments, routines, and structures to ensure that boys are reading widely and passionately. For use with Grades K-8.

My Thoughts:  I was contacted to read and review this book and as a homeschooling parent (of 2 boys) and a former preschool teacher, I thought it would be right up my alley!  

This book was easy to read and very informative.  I loved the explanation of the different reading styles that boys have.  It really helped to realize that each of my boys has a different reading style and lists different, sometimes non-traditional materials to read.

This book was a great reference for different books out there for kids.  It was broken down by genres, which was great since my older boy loves adventure/mysteries!  I was able to go to that genre and pick out the books I thought he would like.  Of course, what was really great was when my son actually DID like the books that I had brought home from the library. 

I have to be honest boys love to read so it really isn't an issue for me to find them books they like.  They will spend time reading without me telling them too.  However, as a teacher I have run into times when I could not bribe a kid to read with the biggest candy bar!  This is a great resource in helping these boys pick out books that will help them develop the love of reading.

This is a great book for teachers!  It helps them set up their classrooms with the books that will be most interesting to the kids.  As a parent, I found it just as helpful though!  I have a list of books that my 8 year old has written out for me that he wants to read now.  I love that it was encouraging too!  There was no bashing the parent or teacher for their child not liking to read.  It was full of great information on how to help each boy learn to love to read, from the list of different books to how to set up the classroom/reading area to make the boys comfortable!

The best part of this was filled with popular books!  It wasn't just boring, old classics (not that their is anything wrong with those...I personally love them) but books that boys will find entertaining from the cover!  I was able to find the books easily at my library, local book store and even our local USED book store!  A truly amazing book for both teachers and parents!

Get this book at here:

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Book Review: Falling for Hamlet by Michelle Ray

Falling for Hamlet
Title:  Falling for Hamlet
Author:  Michelle Ray
Publisher:  Poppy
Publish Date:  July 5, 2011
Source:  Book It Forward ARC Tours

Synopsis (from Goodreads):  
Meet Ophelia: a blonde, beautiful high-school senior and long-time girlfriend of Prince Hamlet of Denmark. Her life is dominated not only by her boyfriend's fame and his overbearing family, but also by the paparazzi who hound them wherever they go. As the devastatingly handsome Hamlet spirals into madness after the mysterious death of his father, the King, Ophelia rides out his crazy roller coaster life, and lives to tell about it. In live television interviews, of course.
Passion, romance, drama, humor, and tragedy intertwine in this compulsively readable debut novel, told by a strong-willed, modern-day Ophelia.

My Thoughts:  I have to admit that I have never read Hamlet before (I know....gasp right?).  In high school I had to read King Lear and after that I never wanted to read Shakespear again!  So, it was with great fear and tripidation that I picked this book up!

I LOVED it!  Ophelia was a very realistic character!  She was strong and yet she loved Hamlet so much that she would almost do anything for him.  There were times when I thought she was a little dumb but hey, aren't we all when it comes to love?

Hamlet was sweet and a complete jerk!  There were times when I wanted to punch him in the face and times when I wanted to kiss him.  When he goes crazy, it is very believable!

I really like Horatio and Sebastian!  Horation is the ultimate best friend.  He sticks by both Hamlet and Ophelia through thick and thin.  Sebastian was also great!  I loved that there was a chance for him and Ophelia at the end.  He was a huge character but had just enough of a presence.

I really enjoyed how the book went from Ophelia's point of view to the Investigator's interview to the talk show interview.  It helped to break the book up a little and just give it a little something different. 

Like I said, I haven't ever read the real Hamlet (but I plan to now) but I really liked this book.  It gets a 5 out 5 for me (I'm not on my home computer so I don't have my star graphics).

Thursday, May 19, 2011


Hello my faithful followers! I know that I've been away for awhile. My laptop's powercord quit working so my laptop is down and I only have my phone which is annoying to type with! So, I should have my new cord soon and have a few reviews to post so stay tuned!

Friday, May 6, 2011

2011 Challenge Update

Here is the update for the challenges I am involved in this year.  Some are going great and others I need to get moving on!

Cozy Mystery Challenge:  I have read one out of 5 for this challenge but I have the rest on my shelf so I will be completing this one for sure!  Click on the picture to see what I have read and my thoughts.

Something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue.  I completed this challenge!  You can click on the picture above to see what I read for this challenge and my reviews.

I have read one out of 8 books for the Back to Classics Challenge.  Yikes!  I better get moving on this one too.  Click above to see what I have read, what I will be reading and my reviews.

This is by far the challenge that I have done the best on.  I have read 17 out of 50 books for this one. Again, click above to see my reviews and what States I have visited!

My intentions were so good with this one and yet I am failing!  I have only read one lonely book out of 50!  But, you can click on the picture to see what that one book was. 

So, now that I have seen how horribly I am doing, I am going to post this and go read!  I gotta get moving here, people!

Book Review: The Liar Society by Lisa and Laura Roecker

The Liar Society (The Liar Society, #1)
**I received this book from Around The World ARC Tours**

Synopsis (from Goodreads): 
 Kate Lowry didn’t think dead best friends could send e-mails. But when she gets an e-mail from Grace, she’s not so sure.
Sent: Sun 9/14 11:59 PM
Subject: (no subject)
I’m here…
sort of.
Find Cameron.
He knows.
I shouldn’t be writing.
Don’t tell.
They’ll hurt you.
Now Kate has no choice but to prove once and for all that Grace’s death was more than just a tragic accident. But secrets haunt the halls of her elite private school. Secrets people will do anything to protect. Even if it means getting rid of the girl trying to solve a murder.

My Thoughts:  I thought this book was pretty good until the end.  It caught my attention from the first page and it was certainly interesting and mysterious and even a little suspenseful.  I was a little let down with the ending though so it doesn't get 5 stars.

Kate's best friend died in a mysterious fire on school grounds last year.  Kate is slowly working through her grief until she gets an email from her dead best friend, giving her clues to what really happened.  Kate enlists the help of Seth and Liam  and even briefly, Cameron (Grace's boyfriend) to discover what happened that night. 

I really liked Seth.  He was a goof and your typical nerdy guy but he was so sweet and friendly that I think you have to like him.  He's a little crazy with the conspiracy theories but hey, we all have our quirks right?  He was always there for Kate and that is what really mattered.  He had a good heart and was a true friend.

Liam was mysterious and the hottie.  I liked him too and I liked the mystery that surrounded him.  The explanation even made sense once it was told.  It wasn't some way out there explanation and I liked that.  I liked that there was some romance between Liam and Kate but not a ton.  It was just the right amount. 

Kate was a decent main character.  She was smart when it came to getting the clues but dumb in the fact that she believed that her dead best friend was somehow a ghost.  When "Grace" asks Kate to meet her alone at the end of the book and Kate goes alone, I was a little disgusted.  How stupid to knowingly put yourself into danger for a ghost.  But, that is typical of heroines in my opinion.

Like I said, the ending for me was disappointing.  The book builds up this whole secret society and murder conspiracy and when you find out who and what happened, it just kind of leaves you wanting a lot more.  I am also not sure of the fact that everyone in the town seemed to have some part in the conspiracy.  I guess I wanted more villains who were actually villains and less "accidents".  Maybe this will be resolved in the next book? 

I believe this will be part of a series and if so, I will be reading the second book.  The first leaves you hanging an little and like I said, I would like to see more villains and less accidents. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Book Review: The Tiptoe Guide to Tracking Fairies by Ammi-Joan Paquette

The Tiptoe Guide to Tracking Fairies

Synopsis (from Goodreads):  What better way to celebrate the wonderful world of nature all around us than a hunt for local fairies? Children learn to spot the tell-tale signs of fairies in residence in this delightful mix of photos and illustrations. Then children can take their tracking skills outside to discover the magic in their own backyard. A perfect book for spring or summer!

My thoughts (or my daughter's thoughts really):  My almost 6 year old daughter really enjoyed this book!  It was easy for her to read and the pictures were amazing!  She wanted to head outside and look for fairies right away.  We enjoyed looking at all the things from nature like acorns and dandolion fluffs that we have in our backyard. 

I thought the fairies were very cute and girly.  The fairies were drawn over real photographs of children and my daughter thought that was fun.  She wants me to put fairies over her in a picture now...anyone familiar with photoshop?  :) 

This was a cute story for elementary ages girls.  The pictures were pretty, appropriate and colorful.  It's a great book for spring and summer!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Teaser Tuesday: The Liar Society 5/3/11

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!
The Liar Society (The Liar Society, #1)

"Her email didn't move or disappear or do any of the creepy things I'd expect an email from a ghost to do.  It was just there.  Existing."  Page 1 of The Liar Society by Lisa and Laura Roecker

Book Review: Shadowcry by Jenna Burtenshaw

Title:  Shadowcry
Author:  Jenna Burtenshaw
Publisher:  HarperCollins
Publish Date:  June 21, 2011
Source:  Dark Fairies ARC Tours

Synopsis (from Amazon): 
The Night of Souls—when the veil between the living and the dead is thinnest—is only days away.
Albion is at war . . . and losing.
The wardens have descended, kidnapping innocent citizens for their army, but looking for one in particular.
And fifteen-year-old Kate Winters has just raised a blackbird from the dead.
As her home is torn apart by the wardens, Kate's discovery that she is one of the Skilled—the rare people who can cross the veil between life and death—makes her the most hunted person in all of Albion. Only she can unlock the secrets of Wintercraft, the ancient book of dangerous knowledge. Captured and taken to the graveyard city of Fume—with its secret tunnels and underground villages, and where her own parents met their deaths ten years ago—Kate must harness her extraordinary powers to save herself, her country, and the two men she cares for most. And she'll make a pact with a murderer to do it.
Those who wish to see the dark, be ready to pay your price.

My Thoughts:  I raced through this novel!  It was so good that I could not put it down.  It was very fresh for me as it was more fantasy and I haven't read from this genre since reading Garth Nix's Abhorsen series. 

Kate is living with her uncle and helping him run his little bookshop.  They know about the Wardens but having seen them in a long time.  However, Kate's uncle gets some information and is getting ready to take Kate and hide when the Wardens invade the town and Kate, her friend Edgar and her uncle must hide in the cellar.  There, Kate brings a dead bird back to life, discovers she is one of the skilled and that is where her trouble begins.

I loved Silas Dane!  He was the perfect evil character.  A man brought back from the dead and living with no soul, Silas thinks Kate can help him die.  He is completely mysterious and dark and I loved that!  He gave me chills every time he entered the scene.

Kate, the main character, was okay.  She was your typical heroine who was both brave and strong and gullible and naive all at the same time.  She didn't really annoy me but didn't have me cheering for her either. 

The descriptions of the Night Train, the Station and the city under attack by blackbirds was so detailed and alive!  I felt like I was right in the middle of all of it!  The book is very dark and full of magic and mystery and worth every minute!  I found myself saying "just one more chapter" and then after that chapter thinking "well, I can't stop now"!    It reminded my of Garth Nix's Abhorsen series (Sabriel, Lirael and Abhorsen) so if you liked those books, pick this one up!