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 »

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Book Review: Happy Birthday to Me by Brian Rowe

Happy Birthday to Me (Birthday Trilogy, #1)

Synopsis (from Goodreads): Seventeen-year-old Cameron Martin has a huge problem: he’s aging a whole year of his life with each passing day!

High school is hard enough; imagine rapidly aging from seventeen to seventy in a matter of weeks, with no logical explanation, and with prom, graduation, and the state championship basketball game all on the horizon. That’s what happens to Cameron, a popular pretty boy who's never had to face a day looking anything but perfect.

All Cameron wants to do is go back to normal, but no one, not even the best doctors, can diagnose his condition. When he finds love with a mysterious young woman, however, he realizes his only hope for survival might be with the one person who started his condition in the first place...
My Thoughts: This book starts out with Cameron, the main character, in his hospital bed at the age of 80. He is really anxious to get out of the hospital to see "her". You can tell it is so important to him but you aren't sure who "she" is or why it's so important. From that moment, I was sucked into the book.
Rewind 3 months to when Cameron was 17. Yes, you read that only took Cameron 3 months to age from 17 to 80! Cameron was a popular senior at school who had a lot going for him. He was good looking, the start basketball player and had the hottest girl as his girlfriend. He was "perfect". Well, except for his attitude. He was vain, selfish, arrogant and cocky. He picked on people and looked down on people. He was just an overall jerk!
After winning an important basketball game, Cameron heads to the local pizza joint to celebrate. Cameron has a game he plays that he thinks is hysterical. He tells people it's his birthday to get free stuff, whether it be free tans or a free slice of cake. His mistake was playing this "game" with the same waitress twice in one week. Liesel obviously knows it isn't Cameron's birthday but brings him the cake and sings to him anyways. Cam thinks nothing of it...until a couple weeks later when he has aged one year for every day.
The story takes you through Cameron's life as he progressively ages. He decides to still attend school and he gets to see how he has treated everyone from the little, nerdy guy, Paul to the Librarian and of course, Liesel. He gets to know how it feels to have his looks count more than his personality as his super popular girlfriend, Charisma, drops him like a hot potato and even his own father tries to change him.
I hated Cameron and his father and Charisma until the middle of the story. Cameron's father is superficial and a complete jerk, trying to do plastic surgery on Cameron to make him "perfect". Charisma is just as superficial and will use anyone to get what she wants. However, towards the middle of the book I ended up liking Cam and his father a lot. Charisma....yeah, well, there has to be one character you never like right?
I loved how Cameron grew through the story. He found out what was important to him and that it matters how you treat people. He finds new friends and in the end....well, you will just have to read it to find out what happens to Cameron.
The one thing that kinda bothered me (and it wasn't really a huge deal) was that Charisma put SO much emphasis on Cameron getting facial hair. She says over and over again that she will not sleep with Cameron, who has yet to grow any facial hair, until his is a man, which to Charisma means until Cameron grows a beard. It was just silly to me.
All in all, I think this book was very emotional and an excellent read! I would recommend it to teens over 16 due to some sexual content.
**I received this book free from the author for an honest review**

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Book Review: Phantom Evil by Heather Graham

Synopsis (from Goodreads): 
A secret government unit is formed under the oversight of Adam Harrison, famed paranormal investigator. The six members he’s gathered know a little of the otherworldly — each has honed a psychic talent of their own.
Jackson Crow, part English, part Cheyenne, heads the group. Haunted by his experience with an ancestral ghost who saved his life as a child, and the recent murders of two previous teammates, Jackson can’t tell if Adam’s demoted him or given him an extraordinary opportunity. Despite his link to the realm of spirits, he’s well aware that the living commit the most heinous crimes, with spiritualist charlatans existing merely to fool and seduce the unwary.
To counterbalance Jackson’s careful skepticism, Adam Harrison has paired him with Angela Hawkins, a young woman who learned the painful lesson of loss at an early age. A police officer utilizing her paranormal intuition in Virginia, she already has her hands full. But Adam’s call to New Orleans is strong.
The case: In a historic mansion in New Orleans’ French Quarter, a senator’s wife falls to her death from a balcony. Most think she jumped, distraught over the loss of her young son. Some say she was pushed. And yet others believe she was beckoned by the ghostly spirits that inhabit the house — once the site of a serial killer’s grisly work.
Whether supernatural or all too human, crimes of passion, greed and desire will cast the pair into danger of losing their lives... and their immortal souls.

My Thoughts:  Heather Graham is one of my favorite adult paranormal authors!  I think her books are spooky and fun to read and Phantom Evil is no exception!

Jackson Crow is recruited by Adam Harrison (whom you will recognize if you've ever read any of Graham's other series) to head up a unique team after losing members from his old team.  Jackson is not sure if this is a promotion or a demotion but decides to go along with it and heads to New Orleans to meet his new team and try to solve the question of whether a Senator's wife committed suicide or was murdered.

Once in New Orleans, Jackson meets Andy, the detective in charge of the case.  While at the police department, another team member, Angela arrives.  Jackson returns to the Senator's house to find Angela digging up the bones to a body in the basement.  From there, the story speeds up as the other members of the team arrive and the whole team discovers that they each have some talent of speaking with or seeing the dead.

The house has it's own sordid history of murder and tragedy.  The Senator wants to know whether his wife, distraught after the loss of their only child, jumped to her death or whether ghosts killed her.  There were many avenues and characters to check out and that had me guessing until the very end!

The romance between Angela and Jackson was pretty predictable (especially if you are familiar with Graham) but was still fun and sexy.  In fact, by the end of this series, I wouldn't be surprised if the whole team was paired up into couples.

I loved the setting!  New Orleans is obviously a perfect place for a haunted story and the author does an amazing job in describing the city so you feel that you are right in the middle of things.  The characters are well developed as well and while some of the parts seem a little over the top, is about ghosts right? 

I really enjoyed this fast read!  I think it was well developed and loved that it kept you guessing until the very end.  I will be picking up the other two in this series for sure!

Book Review: Wildfire by Karsten Knight


Title:  Wildfire
Author:  Karsten Knight
Publisher:  Simon & Schuster
Publish Date:  July 26, 2011

Synopsis (from Goodreads):  Every flame begins with a spark.

Ashline Wilde is having a rough sophomore year. She’s struggling to find her place as the only Polynesian girl in school, her boyfriend just cheated on her, and now her runaway sister, Eve, has decided to barge back into her life. When Eve’s violent behavior escalates and she does the unthinkable, Ash transfers to a remote private school nestled in California’s redwoods, hoping to put the tragedy behind her. But her fresh start at Blackwood Academy doesn’t go as planned. Just as Ash is beginning to enjoy the perks of her new school—being captain of the tennis team, a steamy romance with a hot, local park ranger—Ash discovers that a group of gods and goddesses have mysteriously enrolled at Blackwood…and she’s one of them. To make matters worse, Eve has resurfaced to haunt Ash, and she’s got some strange abilities of her own. With a war between the gods looming over campus, Ash must master the new fire smoldering within before she clashes with her sister one more time… And when warm and cold fronts collide, there’s guaranteed to be a storm.

My Thoughts:  I both loved and hated this book yet I really enjoyed reading it.  Yes, I am really that confused right now. 

The book opens with action right away.  Ashline is in her high school parking lot in a physical fight with a girl over a boy.  In rides her older sister, Eve, who puts an end to the fight.  You can feel the tension between Ash and Eve but your not really sure what is going on. 

Fast forward to that night and you find out that Eve is a runaway and Ash and Eve's adoptive parents have gone out to look for her when the girl Ash was fighting with at school (Lizzie) and her friends come to exact revenge on Ash.  Somehow, Ash and Lizzie end up on the roof of Ash's house and again, Eve comes to end the fight, once and for all.

Fast forward again, this time 8 months!  Ash is in some nowhere town in Northern California at a private school.  She is trying to put her past behind her and start anew.  However, a night out changes everything Ash ever knew about herself and Eve and about 6 other students at the school.  Slowly, you learn what is going on...kinda. 

I thought this book was a little slow after the initial first chapter.  Getting into Ash's life at the Blackwood took quite awhile however the characters were so great that I didn't really want to put it down.   Ash was a great heroine.  She was strong, independent and didn't let her older sister brainwash her.  I really enjoyed the romance between her and Colt because it wasn't too over the top.

My favorite characters were Raja and Rolfe.  Raja was a perfect Egyptian princess.  Her attitude was snotty and cold and first but I loved how she warmed up and fell in love with Rolfe.  Rolfe was so fun!  He was a total surfer boy and had a great sense of humor. 

Eve was psychotic and made for a great villain!  She had no problems killing someone who got in her way and was out to harass Ash to no end.  The best fight between the sisters was a great tennis match.  Although, how the opposing team didn't suspect the player wasn't theirs...yeah, wasn't sure about that one.

The main thing I had an issue with was that things just weren't explained very well.  All of the sudden, Ash is at this prep school with no explanation as to how she even found it and decided to go there.  There was no explanation as to how Ash explained Lizzie's death.  There is a big question regarding Ash and Eve's other family member that I would have liked to know more about and then what was up with "the Cloak"?  What was the reason for their existence?  Why was there the danger of Ragnorak occurring?  There were just a lot of questions left unanswered for me. 

However, even with the questions and the slowness of the book in the beginning (after the first chapter), I really enjoyed reading it.  It was a fast read (despite being 390 pages) and was fun with great characters.  I enjoyed the diversity and the cliffhanger at the end has me wanting to read more!  So, like I said at the beginning...I'm a little confused on my feelings for this book but think I would recommend it!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Book Review: Just Your Average Princess by Kristina Springer

Just Your Average Princess
Title:  Just Your Average Princess
Author:  Kristina Springer
Publisher:  Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publish Date:  October 11, 2011

Synopsis (from Goodreads):  Jamie Edwards has loved everything about growing up on a pumpkin patch, but ever since her cousin Milan Woods arrived, things have really stunk. Jamie can’t imagine it was easy for Milan to leave her life back in Los Angeles and move to Average, Illinois, population one thousand. But it’s kind of hard to feel sorry for her since (a) Milan’s drop-dead gorgeous; (b) she’s the daughter of two of Hollywood’s hottest film stars; (c) she’s captured the attention of everyone in town, including Danny, Jamie’s crush since forever; and (d) she’s about to steal the title of Pumpkin Princess right out from underneath Jamie!

My Thoughts:  I thought this was a very cute, fast read!  I was able to finish it in a couple hours because it was so fun and easy to read.

Jamie is a responsible teen that works at her family's pumpkin patch in a small town.  She has her crush and her friends and her dream of becoming Pumpkin Princess.  Then, her flashy, mature cousin arrives from Hollywood.  There is a slight mystery as to why Milan has come to the help out at the "Patch".  Jamie tries to befriend her cousin but Milan brushes her off.   Then, Milan does the worst thing ever....she runs for Pumpkin Princess as well!  Now Jamie has to figure out how to keep the crown that she has dreamed of since she was a little girl!

I liked this book because it was clean and had a good lesson for young girls (rumors spread quickly and hurt people).  Jamie is a responsible teen (maybe a little too responsible?) but she is very realistic in the fact that she is very jealous and angry at Milan. 

Milan is a spoiled brat!  She is demanding, rude and mean.  You do find out why she is sent to Average, Ill. but I wish the author would have gone into Milan's history a little more.  It might have made her a little easier to understand.  I also wish the author would have done a little more with Milan's change of heart at the end.  I've been in high school with nasty girls and they don't just change that quickly! 

I loved the whole Pumpkin theme (Autumn is my fave time of year) and think the author did a great job in describing the "Patch".  I was drooling over the caramel apples and could see all the big pumpkins and decorations.  It was my favorite part of the story!

I think this book is perfect for young girls to read!  It has a very good message and things are resolved without any major hurt.  It was a fun book and I really enjoyed it!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Cinder and Ella Author Interview: Melissa Lemon

I am very happy to welcome Melissa Lemon to my blog to talk about  herself and her new book, Cinder and Ella!

BLM:    What made you decide to make Cinderella into two separate people?
ML:  I’m not sure. It probably comes a little from my middle child syndrome. (Yes, I’m a middle child sympathizer.) Once the idea came, I fell in love with it and moved forward with it.
BLM:  I am sure many people want to know...can you tell me if there will be a second book regarding Cinder and Ella?
ML:  That is something I am considering. I have a plot outline, I just haven’t decided whether or not to execute. I would love to do another book. I think I would call it The Legend of the Trees.

BLM:  Are you considering doing any other fairytale retellings?
ML:  Yes! I would like to do several. Look for some fun twists!
BLM:  Okay, now for some random, fun questions: If you could invite three people to dinner (living or dead), who would they be?
ML:  I think Nelson Mandela would be excellent company. Amelia Earhart would be fun to interview and maybe she could take us for an airplane ride after the meal. And Bill Cosby because he makes me laugh like crazy.
BLM:  What is one book you think everyone should read?
ML:  We all have a unique taste, so I think that will vary from person to person. I love classics and literary fiction, but I know that isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.
BLM:  What is your favorite music?
ML:  I love all kinds of rock, especially if it’s got a funky beat and lyrics that I like. I especially love tenor and alto voices because I can sing along.
BLM:  Where is your favorite place to write?
ML:  Anywhere that I am ALONE.
BLM:  What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?
ML:  I enjoy exercise, reading, and hanging out with my family.
BLM:  What is something that is on your bucket list?
ML:  Hmmmm, tough one. I used to want to skydive, but I think that would just make me throw-up anymore. I would have to say traveling outside of the US since that is something I have never done (unless you count Tijuana).
BLM:  What is the last book you read?
ML:  Messenger by Lois Lowry
BLM:  If you could go back in time, what decade would you choose and why?
ML:  Another tough one. Every time period seems to have its advantages and challenges. I think being on Prince Edward Island with Anne Shirley sounds pretty good.

A huge thank you to Melissa Lemon for taking time out of her busy schedule to answer my questions!  Make sure to check out  her book, Cinder and Ella!

Blog Tour: Cinder and Ella by Melissa Lemon

I am honored to be a part of the Cinder and Ella Virtual Book Tour hosted by Cedar Fort Publishing and running from June 1 - June 30, 2011.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):  After their father’s disappearance, Cinder leaves home for a servant job at the castle. But it isn’t long before her sister Ella is brought to the castle herself—the most dangerous place in all the kingdom for both her and Cinder. Cinder and Ella is a Cinderella story like no other and one you'll never forget.

My Thoughts:  Forget everything you have ever known about the Cinderella fairytale!  Melissa Lemon takes an old fairytale and completely revamps it!  There are no Fairy Godmothers, no evil step-sisters or step-mother and while their is a Prince, he is not the nice, charming prince in the original story.

Cinder and Ella are sisters.  They have two other sisters, Katrina and Beatrice.  At one time, they had a happy family, complete with Mother and Father.  Then one night the prince came to speak to the Father and things started going downhill after that.  The father disappeared, the mother completely shut down, Katrina became vain and demanding and Beatrice became a spoiled rotten little brat.  Only Cinder and Ella were functional.  Cinder then goes to the castle to work and Ella can't handle her family and leaves.  In the meantime, the family forgets about Ella and melds Cinder and Ella into one person. 

I really liked the legend about the trees!  It was a great concept and I wish the author had gone a little more into the legend.  It was a very refreshing and unique concept and was my favorite part about the whole book.

I really liked Tanner (the kind knight).  He was sweet and loyal while being completely clumsy!  He was so sweet in his humiliation and totally loyal and protective of Ella. 

The ending seemed a little abrupt with a missing prince and some questions left unanswered but maybe that means there will be a second book?  Regardless, it was a fun and refreshing take on an old fairytale and I think it would be perfect for middle school readers!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Book Review: Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

Paranormalcy (Paranormalcy, #1)

Synopsis (from Goodreads):  Evie’s always thought of herself as a normal teenager, even though she works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she’s falling for a shape-shifter, and she’s the only person who can see through paranormals’ glamours.
But Evie’s about to realize that she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures.
So much for normal.

My Thoughts:  I seriously loved this book!  It was funny, the characters were great and the plot is creative!  I've never read a book like this before and I enjoyed it immensely!

Evie is an orphan who never knew her parents.  She was found at the age of 3 and put into the foster system.  Then, at age 8, she was found by the APCA (American Paranormal Containment Agency) due to the fact that she could see through glamours.  Since then, she has worked for the now IPCA (I = International) to help contain paranormal creatures. 

Enter Lend, who is a creature that no one has ever seen before.  Of course, Evie is very interested in him because of this reason.  Oh yeah, it helps that he is hot too!  Lend can change shapes but is a watery, almost invisible substance. 

The IPCA is suddenly put on edge when paranormal creatures are being killed.  They must find out who is doing this and why.  Evie and Lend try to help but the IPCA wants no help from Lend.  Then, chaos breaks loose and Evie has to decide what to do.

Evie is an amazing character!  Strong, independent, stubborn and sarcastic.  I loved her sense of humor and how she would blatantly disobey Raquel just because she could.  Evie just wants to be normal and I loved how she really wanted to just go to high school and have a locker!

This book was a great paranormal romance with a lot of humor in it!  I loved everything from the titles of the chapters, to the first lines in the book to the suspenseful ending.  I absolutely cannot wait for Supernaturally (luckily I get to review it early via an ARC tour)!  Seriously, you have to read this book if you like YA paranormal! 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Book Review: Rodeo Queen by Marci Peschke

Rodeo Queen (Kylie Jean)

Synopsis (from Goodreads):  When the rodeo comes to town, Kylie Jean decides she wants to be the Rodeo Queen! But to do that, she must learn rodeo tricks.
My Thoughts:  My daughter and I have never read any other Kylie Jean books before.  Now I have a list of all the ones my daughter wants to read.  She loved this one!  I mean, what 6 year old girl wouldn't like a book with pink and glitter on the front right? 

This was a great beginning chapter book.  My 6 year old is an advanced reader so she was able to read this one very easily but she enjoyed every minute of it!

The story was a cute, fun story.  Kylie Jean is sassy and funny and her dog has a great name...Ugly Brother!  My daughter laughed everytime she read the dog's name. 

As a parent, I liked that the book dealt with some let downs and how to handle them as well as some uplifting moments.  I also liked how it was about following your dreams and not giving up despite different setbacks.  I also liked the discussions questions in the back.  I was able to make sure my daughter actually comprehended what she read (when she read it by herself). 

The illustrations were also fun and quirky!  I enjoyed them as well as my daughter.  This book is perfect for little girls that are beginning to read chapter books. 

Book Review: The Daytona 500 by Nancy Roe Pimm

The Daytona 500: The Thrill and Thunder of the Great American Race (Spectacular Sports)

Synopsis (from  Who won the first Daytona 500? What do teams do to prepare their cars for 500 miles of hard, high-speed racing? Who gave the Daytona 500 the nickname the ""Great American Race""? Learn all about stock car racing's biggest event and the drivers and crew who make it possible in this fascinating, fact-filled book. You will join in the excitement of forty-three cars running nose-to-tail and side-by-side at almost 200 miles per hour. You'll also discover the rich history of stock car racing and find out why it's one of the most popular sports around.

My Thoughts:  Okay, I have to admit here...I am not a huge NASCAR fan!  In fact, before my 8 year old became completely obsessed with everything NASCAR, I had absolutely no interest in it.  However, my son means the world to me so when he started becoming interested in it and wanted my husband and I to watch with him, I did and surprisingly, I enjoyed it!

I saw this book on NetGalley and immediately requested it so my son and I could read it together.  My son loved the pictures of all the car wrecks!  Besides that though, we really enjoyed reading about the history behind the Daytona 500.  Did you know that the first Daytona race was actually held on the beach?  I certainly didn't!  My son loved the "Bullet" car that was one of the first to race in the Daytona (this was, of course, before NASCAR was an event). 

What I liked most about this book was that it was easy for my 8 year old to listen too or just look at the pictures.  He was not bored at all by the book and was thrilled to know all the facts behind the race.  In fact, for days after we read the book he told everyone the history behind the Daytona and the "Allison Family Duel" amongst other facts!  I liked that it had a glossary in the back so I could understand the different slang that was used (although my son already knew it all) and the interview with John Andretti.

The author obviously spent a lot of time researching and included a lot of the fun facts in sidebars.  The pictures were amazing and I thought this book was much better than some of the previous ones my son had brought home from the library.  My son is constantly asking me to look at the book so he can reread it.  I think I am going to have to buy him his own copy!

Winners Announced!

Congratulations to the two winners of the Pride and Prejudice and Zombies:  Dreadfully Ever After giveaway!  Winners were chosen using  I will be contacting the winners by email shortly and they will have 48 hours to respond or I will have to pick a new winner.

Winners Are:

Ricki @ Reading Challenged


Autumn Frailey

Thank you to all who entered!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Reminder: Giveaway ending tonight!

Just a reminder that my giveaway for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies:  Dreadfully Ever After end tonight at 11:59 PM.  There will be 2 winners and eacy winner will get a copy of the book and a poster!  To enter, go here!

Winners will be picked using  I will announce the winners tomorrow and they will have 48 hours to contact me with their addresses.  Prizes will be mailed out by the publisher!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Book Review: Ripple by Mandy Hubbard

Title:  Ripple
Author:  Mandy Hubbard
Publisher:  Razorbill/Penguin
Publish Date:  July 21, 2011

Synopsis (from Goodreads):  Lexi is cursed with a dark secret. Each day she goes to school like a normal teenager, and each night she must swim, or the pain will be unbearable. She is a siren - a deadly mermaid destined to lure men to their watery deaths. After a terrible tragedy, Lexi shut herself off from the world, vowing to protect the ones she loves. But she soon finds herself caught between a new boy at school who may have the power to melt her icy exterior, and a handsome water spirit who says he can break Lexi's curse if she gives up everything else. Lexi is faced with the hardest decision she’s ever had to make: the life she's always longed for - or the love she can't live without?

My Thoughts:  I was so excited to read this book because it was about something different.  I have never read anything about Sirens or Nixes and I was not disappointed at all! 

Lexi is starting her senior year in high school.  She is a loner as she has pulled away from all her friends.  But she has a good reason for pulling away.  She doesn't want to kill them.  Two years ago, a tragedy occurred and her friends blame her for it.  Lexi blames herself as well.

At the beginning of the story, Lexi has no friends and everyone is horrible to her.  Everyone except Cole.  Cole is sweet, caring and hot, of course!  I loved him and his strong personality.  He didn't care what others thought of him.  He didn't care if he lost his popularity.  As long as he was with Lexi, he was happy.  When Lexi's ex-best friend, Sienna, starts talking to her, Lexi feels like maybe she can have her old life back again.  As things progress with Cole, Lexi finds herself happy yet wary.  How far can things go with Cole with Lexi holding all these secrets inside? 

Then, when Lexi's relationship with Cole is going so well, Erik enters the picture.  Erik knows what Lexi is and tells her that he can help her break the curse.  The only thing is, Lexi must leave Cole and fall in love with Erik.

That's all I can say about the actual story line so I don't give any of the major surprises away.  And let me tell you, there were some serious surprises and twists at the end that I did not see coming AT ALL!  I loved it!

I loved Lexi's character!  She was strong and determined and while she was lonely and felt guilty for what happened, it wasn't a total whine-fest with her.  There were no pity parties and Lexi tried to stay true to her feelings. 

There are two things I didn't like about this book (although it wasn't a huge deal and certainly didn't take away from the enjoyment). 

1.  As usual, there were no parents involved.  Lexi lived with her grandma and Hubbard did explain where Lexi's parents were but still...Lexi is gone every night and her grandma NEVER notices?  Seems a little strange to me.  Then, Sienna's parents are never around.  While there is mention of that, there is really no explanation for it.  And Cole's parent's apparently didn't exist at all.  There is one part of the book **SMALL SPOILER AHEAD**  where Lexi sleeps over and Cole's and nobody notices or is there?  There is no mention of his parents at all.  The only parents that are mentioned are Lexi's and Erik's. 

2.  The whole background to Lexi's curse wasn't that great.  I wanted to know a little more about why Lexi was a siren.  I wanted to know more about the curse but there was just a brief history in a diary that Lexi found. 

Besides those two issues, I thought Ripple was amazing!  A different spin on the usual paranormal YA books out there made it refreshing and the twists in the ending were excellent!  If there is a second book, I will be reading it for sure!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Book Review: The Summoner by Layton Green

The Summoner (The Dominic Grey Novels)

Synopsis (from Goodreads):  A United States diplomat disappears in front of hundreds of onlookers while attending a religious ceremony in the bushveld of Zimbabwe.

Dominic Grey, Diplomatic Security special agent, product of a violent childhood and a worn passport, is assigned to investigate. Aiding the investigation is Professor Viktor Radek, religious phenomenologist and expert on cults, and Nya Mashumba, the local government liaison.

What Grey uncovers is a terrifying cult older than Western civilization, the harsh underbelly of a country in despair, a demagogic priest seemingly able to perform impossibilities, and the identity of the newest target.


The first work in a globe-hopping series whose protagonists investigate the world’s most bizarre and dangerous cults, The Summoner is a stylish, haunting novel of mystery and suspense that will linger long after the last page is turned.

My Thoughts:  Dominic Grey works with Diplomatic Security as a Special Agent.  His newest assignment:  travel to Zimbabwe to find the missing head of the Consulate,  William Addison.  Addison was last seen at a Juju ceremony where he mysteriously disappeared. 

Grey is assigned to work with two other investigators, Viktor Radek and the beautiful Nya Mashumba.  Viktor is a complete mystery and Nya is set on revenge.  After another disappearance of a young girl occurs, they are led to a small village where no one will talk about the girl.

I really enjoyed this book!  The descriptions of Zimbabwe made me feel like I was there.  I loved learning about Zimbabwe's people and cultures and enjoyed reading about the Juju religion.  There were some parts that were disturbing to me (torture, cruelty, etc.) but nothing that put me off the book.  I made the mistake of reading this book at night with my husband and work and I have to say, I was double checking to make sure my doors were locked!  Plus, I stayed up all night to finish it.  This is one book that you will not want to put down once you start it. 

This is the first book in the Domnic Grey series and I cannot wait to get my hands on the second book!  The unpredictability, the surprises and the twists and turns make it a fast read and one that you won't forget easily!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Book Review: Playing Hurt by Holly Schindler

Playing Hurt

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

Synopsis (from Goodreads): 
Star basketball player Chelsea "Nitro" Keyes had the promise of a full ride to college-and everyone's admiration in her hometown. But everything changed senior year, when she took a horrible fall during a game. Now a metal plate holds her together and she feels like a stranger in her own family.
As a graduation present, Chelsea's dad springs for a three-week summer "boot camp" program at a northern Minnesota lake resort. There, she's immediately drawn to her trainer, Clint, a nineteen-year-old ex-hockey player who's haunted by his own traumatic past. As they grow close, Chelsea is torn between her feelings for Clint and her loyalty to her devoted boyfriend back home. Will an unexpected romance just end up causing Chelsea and Clint more pain-or finally heal their heartbreak?

My Thoughts:
Chelsea was the star basketball player at her high school until she slipped on some spilled soda during a game and blew her hip out.  After graduation, Chelsea and her family head to Minnesota to a resort where Chelsea meets Clint.  However, Chelsea has a boyfriend waiting for her at home and Clint has a tragedy of his own to get through. 

I enjoyed this book and thought that it was very realistic when it came to the issues Chelsea and Clint were going through.  I wish they weren't the "perfect, tan, beautiful and/or handsome" cliche but I thought they were well rounded characters. 

Now, while I thought the characters were well rounded, it doesn't mean I liked them.  I thought Chelsea was selfish and self absorbed.  I don't like cheaters and while I understand she is young and doesn't really know what love is yet, it is no excuse to cheat on her boyfriend.  She knew things weren't right with Gabe but instead of just ending it when things heated up with Clint, she let it go on (and kept telling Clint it wasn't  his problem) and that I don't agree with.  I also didn't care for her constant obsession with being a virgin.  I don't mind the teen sex part (after all, I am not dumb...I know it happens) but for Chelsea to put so much emphasis on how "bad" it is to be a virgin after graduating from high school was a little much for me. 

Now, since I am an adult here, I did enjoy the romance between Chelsea and Clint.  It was hot, steamy and not too graphic.  But, since there was the indication of sex in the book, I would recommend it for older, high school, over 16 aged kids. 

I thought the whole "overcome your troubles and live life to the fullest" message was great and I enjoyed the book. I loved Brandon, Chelsea's annoying little brother and I thought Gabe was okay. He was a little needy and sappy but I still don't think he deserved to be cheated on.

If you like contemporary YA romance books, you will enjoy this one.  The writing was wonderful and I will read more of Holly Schindler's books.

Book Review: A Pug's Tale by Alison Pace

A Pug's Tale

Synopsis (from Goodreads):  There are pugs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art!

Hope McNeill has worked at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for years, but this is the first time she's been able to bring along her pug, Max. (Officially at least. Previously she's had to smuggle him in inside her tote bag.)

The occasion: a special "Pug Night" party in honor of a deep-pocketed donor. Max and his friends are having a ball stalking the hors d'oeuvres and getting rambunctious, and making Hope wonder if this is also the last time she gets to bring Max to the museum.

But when a prized painting goes missing, the Met needs Hope's--and Max's--help. In her quest for the culprit, Hope searches for answers with an enigmatic detective, a larger-than-life society heiress, a lady with a shih tzu in a stroller, and her arguably intuitive canine. With luck, she'll find some inspiration on her trips to Pug Hill before the investigation starts going downhill...

My Thoughts:  Hope McNeill has a great job at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a sweet and loving boyfriend, Ben and the cutest pug, Max. 

During "Pug Night" at the Museum, Hope finds out that one of the famous paintings has been stolen and replaced with a copy.  She soon starts receiving mysterious emails that give her clues and send her on a scavenger hunt throughout the museum.

I really loved this book!  It was a fast read but had enough mystery to keep my attention.  I loved the descriptions of Max and his snorting.  I liked how he would appear to Hope in her dreams to help her solve various clues.

What I really liked about this book, aside from the mystery and comedy, was the fact that you did not have to read the first book (Pug's Hill) to understand the second.  I was easily able to fall in love with Hope and Max and Daphne and Madeline.  I wasn't completely surprised by the ending but didn't have it completely figured out either. 

I was able to curl up on my couch and read this book all in one sitting (of course, my kids were at their grandparent's so that made it easier).  It was a funny, mysterious and fast read and great for animal lovers. 

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Book Review: Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey

Title:  Haunting Violet
Author:  Alyxandra Harvey
Publisher:  Walker Childrens
Publish Date:  June 21, 2011

Synopsis (from Goodreads):  Violet Willoughby doesn't believe in ghosts. But they believe in her. After spending years participating in her mother's elaborate ruse as a fraudulent medium, Violet is about as skeptical as they come in all matters supernatural. Now that she is being visited by a very persistent ghost, one who suffered a violent death, Violet can no longer ignore her unique ability. She must figure out what this ghost is trying to communicate, and quickly because the killer is still on the loose.
Afraid of ruining her chance to escape her mother's scheming through an advantageous marriage, Violet must keep her ability secret. The only person who can help her is Colin, a friend she's known since childhood, and whom she has grown to love. He understands the true Violet, but helping her on this path means they might never be together. Can Violet find a way to help this ghost without ruining her own chance at a future free of lies?

My Thoughts:  It's the late 1800's and Violet is forced to work with her mother performing fake seances.  Violet hates lying to people and does not believe it ghosts at all.  Until she meets one while at a fancy estate outside of London.  Violet's mother is performing the biggest seance of her life and all their livelihood depends on how well they do.  Violet is shocked when she sees a young girl in her nightclothes, dripping wet and with bruises around her throat.  Violet is thrown into a dangerous game of murder and betrayal. 

I love historical fiction and think the author did an amazing job describing 1800s England.  The smog, the people and the clothing were all very realistic and at times I felt like I was right in the middle of the Lord's estate or the city streets of London. 

Violet was a great character.  She was strong, independent and had a love for books.  She is a great friend to Colin, Marjie and Elizabeth, even though she can't tell Elizabeth the truth.  I loved Elizabeth as well!  She was quirky, funny and romantic.  She was thrilled to be able to help Violet solve the murder of Rowena.  I really loved reading about Elizabeth.

Colin was, of course, the hot guy.  He was protective of Violet, sweet and had just the right amount of jealousy.  He wasn't the proper "rich man" from the peerage but I loved the romance that bloomed between Violet and Colin.

Celeste, or Mary, Violet's mother was a witch.  Not in the paranormal sense because she was actually a complete fraud but she was conniving, manipulating and downright mean!  I hated her but thought her character was very well developed.  You weren't meant to like this character and the author did an awesome job making sure you didn't. 

There was just enough romance in this book without being overwhelming.  The murder mystery was great (even though I had it figured out halfway through).  There were some good "scary" parts in this book as well.  This book was fast paced and a fun summer read. 

Friday, June 10, 2011

Book Review: Nightfall in Mogadishu by Veronica Li

Synopsis (from  Nightfall in Mogadishu is a spy thriller and historical novel set in Somalia. It weaves the country’s history, politics and culture into a tale of international intrigue. Susan Chen, a CIA agent is sent to Mogadishu to thwart a plot to overthrow the government. She finds a nation that has lost its soul and is whirling into a vortex of violence and terror.

My Thoughts:  Wow!  This book was not something I would typically read but I really enjoyed it.  I don't know a lot about Somalia so it was really interesting for me to read about all the chaos and upheaval there.

It is the early 1990s and CIA Agent Susan Chen is sent to replace a U.N. Representative in Somalia.  Once there, Susan must try to stay alive while hunting someone who is killing high-ranking, international officials.

This book was filled with suspense and was fast paced.  The author makes you feel like you are in the streets of Somalia with her descriptions.  Her characters are well developed and I felt that I had a connection with Susan.  There is some romance and some sex but it is mostly a really intense thriller. I learned about the fall of Somalia without even realizing it because it was so entertaining.   I was up way past my bedtime last night to finish it but it was worth it!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Book Review: Between Here and Forever by Elizabeth Scott

Between Here and Forever

Synopsis (from Goodreads):  Abby accepted that she can’t measure up to her beautiful, magnetic sister Tess a long time ago, and knows exactly what she is: Second best. Invisible.

Until the accident.

Now Tess is in a coma, and Abby’s life is on hold. It may have been hard living with Tess, but it's nothing compared to living without her.

She's got a plan to bring Tess back though, involving the gorgeous and mysterious Eli, but then Abby learns something about Tess, something that was always there, but that she’d never seen.

Abby is about to find out that truth isn't always what you think it is, and that life holds more than she ever thought it could...

My Thoughts:  Abby's sister is in a coma after a car accident.  Abby visits her sister daily.  However, it is the same thing with Tess day after day.  Until one day Eli stops by to say hi and Abby thinks she sees her sisters eyes move.  Then she has a plan but she has to decide is she really wants her sister to wake up.  After all, she has lived in her sister's shadow all her life. 

This book was just okay for me.  I hated how insecure Abby was.  She spent the whole first half of the book comparing herself to her sister.  Abby wasn't as pretty as Tess or as smart or as popular, blah blah blah.  It just got old pretty fast. 

I loved Eli!  As a person who struggles with OCD (and not just being anal-retentive but honest to God OCD), I thought the author did an amazing job is describing how completely this disorder can take over your life.  OCD is not just "my house has to be spotless" or "these clothes have to be folded a certain way or I'm not happy."  It is more like "I must get out of bed 10 times to check and make sure the doors are locked or I CANNOT sleep" or I have to vacuum a certain way 10 times or I cannot leave my house.  This disorder is serious and I have heard so many people say "I'm OCD" when really they have no idea how consuming it is. 

I thought this book was a little slow.  I did like the revelation about Tess at the end but it wasn't a huge surprise to me.  However, I think this book had some good issues in it and I think girls could benefit from reading it...if they can get past Abby's whining all the time. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Book Review: Witches of East End by Melissa de la Cruz

Title:  Witches of East End
Author:  Melissa de la Cruz
Publisher:  Hyperion
Publish Date:  June 21, 2001
Source:  Book it Forward Tours

Synopsis (from Goodreads:  From the author of the highly addictive and bestselling Blue Bloods series, with almost 3 million copies sold, comes a new novel, Melissa de la Cruz's first for adults, featuring a family of formidable and beguiling witches.

The three Beauchamp women--Joanna and her daughters Freya and Ingrid--live in North Hampton, out on the tip of Long Island. Their beautiful, mist-shrouded town seems almost stuck in time, and all three women lead seemingly quiet, uneventful existences. But they are harboring a mighty secret--they are powerful witches banned from using their magic. Joanna can resurrect people from the dead and heal the most serious of injuries. Ingrid, her bookish daughter, has the ability to predict the future and weave knots that can solve anything from infertility to infidelity. And finally, there's Freya, the wild child, who has a charm or a potion that can cure most any heartache.

For centuries, all three women have been forced to suppress their abilities. But then Freya, who is about to get married to the wealthy and mysterious Bran Gardiner, finds that her increasingly complicated romantic life makes it more difficult than ever to hide her secret. Soon Ingrid and Joanna confront similar dilemmas, and the Beauchamp women realize they can no longer conceal their true selves. They unearth their wands from the attic, dust off their broomsticks, and begin casting spells on the townspeople. It all seems like a bit of good-natured, innocent magic, but then mysterious, violent attacks begin to plague the town. When a young girl disappears over the Fourth of July weekend, they realize it's time to uncover who and what dark forces are working against them.

With a brand-new cast of characters, a fascinating and fresh world to discover, and a few surprise appearances from some of the Blue Blood fan favorites, this is a page-turning, deliciously fun, magical summer read fraught with love affairs, witchcraft, and an unforgettable battle between good and evil.

My Thoughts:   This book is Melissa de la Cruz's first book in the Beauchamp series and it was a great start!  I loved that it was about witches which was quite refreshing after so many werewolf and vampire and even fairy novels.  It is also the author's first adult paranormal book.

Joanna Beauchamp and her two daughters, Ingrid and Freya, are witches.  However, they are forbidden to practice magic due to the chaos of the Salem Witch Trials.  If they wanted to stay immortal, they must live in a human world with no magic.  This is going along quite well for hundreds of years until the girls decided they had had enough of their friends' troubles. 

That is when their trouble begins.  After Freya concocts a magical love potion and Ingrid ties a small knot, two people disappear.  Along with a strange silver substance that appears on the ocean and many of the townspeople getting sick, the witches know something evil is happening and that they must stop it.

I really liked Freya.  She was sassy, strong and a fun character.  Her romance starts out with Bran but quickly (within pages) she is torn between him and his brother Killian.  Killian is your typical bad boy.  He is mysterious and sexy and Freya can't help herself, despite the fact that she is engaged to Bran.  Bran is the nice, kind, generous brother.  The boring brother but Freya can't help but think that he is the one she has been looking for all these years.

Ingrid is your typical librarian.  She wears a tight bun and is very strict about how her library is run.  But she has a kind heart and despite the fact that she thinks she doesn't need or want love, she finds herself feeling something for the local detective, Matt. 

Joanna is a great character as well.  She has a lot of love for Tyler, her housekeeper's son and will do anything to make him happy.  She also ends up resorting to magic and even going so far as to bring someone back from the dead. 

I love all the friends the girl has as well.  Hudson is Ingrid's coworker.  He is gay and a terrific addition to their "girls" group at the library (Ingrid, Tabitha and Hudson).  I loved his character and hope to see more of him in future novels.  Tabitha was sweet and I couldn't help but feel for her with her struggle in getting pregnant.

For those of you that have read and enjoy the Blue Blood series, Mimi and Oliver also make a short appearance.  I'm not quite sure what their purpose really is in this series yet but again, maybe we will find out in later books.  I am also not quite caught up on all the Blue Blood series so maybe if I was it would have made more sense to me.

The only issue that I had with this book was when the girls were taken to the police station to be questioned.  They weren't being arrested yet they were put in the back of a police car and taken to the station with lights and sirens on.  Trust me, as the wife of a police officer, I know that they do not escort persons of interest to the station with lights and sirens.  Just doesn't happen.  So, besides the unrealistic investigation process, I really enjoyed the book!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Teaser Tuesday: 6/7/11

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!
"There was somethign not quite right about the three dead birds on the beach that morning, the ones that she had burried a little ways away in the sand, but Joanna could not put her finger on it just then.  Was it a warning?  And for what?  And from who?"  ~pg. 36 of The Witches of East End by Melissa de la Cruz 
**ARC copy, subject to change**

Monday, June 6, 2011

Book Review: Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce

Sisters Red (Sisters Red, #1)

Synopsis (from Goodreads):  Scarlett March lives to hunt the Fenris--the werewolves that took her eye when she was defending her sister Rosie from a brutal attack. Armed with a razor-sharp hatchet and blood-red cloak, Scarlett is an expert at luring and slaying the wolves. She's determined to protect other young girls from a grisly death, and her raging heart will not rest until every single wolf is dead.

Rosie March once felt her bond with her sister was unbreakable. Owing Scarlett her life, Rosie hunts ferociously alongside her. But even as more girls' bodies pile up in the city and the Fenris seem to be gaining power, Rosie dreams of a life beyond the wolves. She finds herself drawn to Silas, a young woodsman who is deadly with an ax and Scarlett's only friend--but does loving him mean betraying her sister and all that they've worked for?

My thoughts:  This book was a very different and dark version of Little Red Riding Hood.  I was hoping this book would blow me away and sadly, it did not.  I did enjoy it and it was a pretty fast read but it won't go on my top 10 list ever.

Scarlett was attacked when she was younger by a Fenris, a werewolf type creature, while saving her younger sister's life.  Now, 7 years later, it is Scarlett's passion to find and kill Fenris so they can't hurt other girls.  Like with so many other YA novels, there are no parents in this book.  Oma March (the girls' grandmother) was killed during the Fenris attack and the girls' mother has run off so it is just the 18 and 16 year old girls.  There is some explanation though as to why there is no CPS involved so at least it wasn't loose ends. 

I found Scarlett to be quite annoying with her obsession of killing Fenris.  It was an all-consuming obsession that left her thinking of no other life for herself but also no other life for her younger sister (whom she believes should hunt with Scarlett since Scarlett saved her life) and her partner and neighbor, Silas.  I thought she was selfish and just downright bratty at times. 

Rosie, is Scarlett's younger sister.  She feels greatly indebted to her sister for saving her life so long ago but also craves a real and "normal" life.  She is not content hunting Fenris day and night, year after year.  She also discovers she is in love with Silas but doesn't want to act on it due to Scarlett's feelings.

I really liked Rosie.  While she felt guilty for leaving her sister, she still went behind Scarlett's back and took classes at a community center and let her feelings for Silas grow.  She didn't let Scarlett hold her back and I'm am glad for that.  Otherwise I probably would have thrown the book out the window!

Silas is the neighbor boy.  His dad, Pa Reynolds, helped take care of the girls after Oma March died and so they have all grown up together.  Silas comes back from a vacation to help Scarlett hunt but also to do "normal" things.  He is also finding himself falling in love with Rosie and I loved to watch that whole romance unfold. 

I loved the description of the Fenris!  These were not your typical hot and sexy werewolves.  These were disgusting, soulless, scary creatures!  Nothing soft and cuddly here!  I also liked the twist at the end although I honestly knew it was coming almost right away.  A bit predictable but still a great twist all the same!

Overall, this is a decent book to read, especially if you like fairytale retellings but it wasn't anything I would want to buy to have forever. 

**Okay, blogger's picture uploading is not working so I would give this 3 out of 5 stars**

Friday, June 3, 2011

Giveaway: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dreadfully Ever After!

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dreadfully Ever After (Quirk Classics)

I was really excited to have the opportunity to review Pride and Prejudice and Zombies:  Dreadfully Ever After by Steve Hockensmith but I am more exciting to tell you guys that I am hosting a giveaway!  I am giving away  two copies of the book and two posters!  There will be two winners and each winner will get a copy of Dreadfully Ever After and a poster!  Exciting huh?  The prizes will be mailed directly from the publisher.  If you want to read my review (and possibly leave a comment for an extra entry or two), it is here

**Sorry but this giveaway is only open to US residents**

**Giveaway ends June 18, 2011 at 11:59 P.M.  I will notify winners June 19 and they will have 48 hours to respond to my email before I pick a new winner**

All you have to do is fill out the form:

Book Review: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Steve Hockensmith

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dreadfully Ever After (Quirk Classics)

Synopsis (from Goodreads):  Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and its prequel, Dawn of the Dreadfuls, were both New York Times best sellers, with a combined 1.3 million copies in print. Now the PPZ trilogy comes to a thrilling conclusion with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dreadfully Ever After.

The story opens with our newly married protagonists, Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam Darcy, defending their village from an army of flesh-eating “unmentionables.” But the honeymoon has barely begun when poor Mr. Darcy is nipped by a rampaging dreadful. Elizabeth knows the proper course of action is to promptly behead her husband (and then burn the corpse, just to be safe). But when she learns of a miracle antidote under development in London, she realizes there may be one last chance to save her true love—and for everyone to live happily ever after.

My Thoughts:  I bought Pride and Prejudice and Zombies:  Dawn of the Dreadfuls this last winter at our book fair and was thrilled when I was offered the chance to review Dreadfully Ever After a couple months ago! 

This book grabbed me from the beginning!  It starts with a bang and continues this way until the last page.  I was not bored at all with this story! 

It's been 4 years since Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth have married and they are still childless.  As Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth are returning to Pemberly after going to see Jane and her new baby, Mr. Darcy is bitten and Elizabeth has to try to find the cure.  She goes about this by contacting Lady Catherine de Bourgh.  Lady Catherine agrees to help Elizabeth but at a price!

I loved that there was more of some of the smaller characters like Mary and Kitty.  In fact, Kitty was probably my favorite character in this book.  She really developed throughout the story and her "role" of seducing the doctor's son was hilarious and fun!

I thought this book was full of action, some romance and was really funny!  It was a great mashup and an equally great ending to the trilogy.