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, October 25, 2011

Book Review: Between by Jessica Warman


Synopsis (from Goodreads):  Elizabeth Valchar--pretty, popular, and rich--wakes up the morning after her eighteenth birthday on the yacht where she'd been celebrating with her closest friends. A persistent thumping noise has roused her. When she goes to investigate, she finds her own drowned body is hitting the side of the boat. Liz is dead.

She has no memory of what happened to her, and can only observe in horror the fallout of her death. She's also soon joined by Alex Berg, a quiet boy from her high school who was killed by a hit-and-run driver. The two keep each other company, floating in and out of memories and trying to piece together the details of what happened to each of them.

In her regular life, Liz was a runner. It wasn't abnormal for her to run 8-10 miles per day. But as memories from closer to her death begin to surface, Liz finds that she'd been running much more than normal, and that she'd all but stopped eating. Liz's mother, who died when Liz was nine, had battled with anorexia as well, and those around her worried Liz was following in her mother's footsteps. But something more sinister was consuming Liz from the inside out. . . .

From critically acclaimed author Jessica Warman comes a shocking mystery, a heartbreaking character study, and ultimately a hopeful tale of redemption, love, and letting go.

My Thoughts:  This was a perfect book to read around Halloween.  Not that it was scary but it was an amazing mystery that had me hooked from page one!

Liz has it all...or so it seems.  She's beautiful, popular and rich.  What more could you ask for huh?  Unfortunately for Liz, these things don't keep her alive past her 18th birthday.  Liz wakes up on her family's boat the night of her 18th birthday and is annoyed by the continuous thumping on the side of the boat.  She goes out to investigate only to discover it's her own dead body! 

From there Liz is kept company by Alex who has died his own mysterious death.  Neither of them know why they are paired together since they have nothing in common (she's rich and popular, he's middle-class and a little nerdy) but they have the feeling that they must find out.  As Liz takes a look back at her life and realizes that it wasn't perfect and neither was she, she is able to slowly piece together the mystery behind Alex's death and her own. 

I had this book figured out about half way through for the most part but there were still some things that kept me guessing until the end.  Even though I had it figured out, it still had me completely enthralled through the whole book!  I loved how the book went back and forth between present and past.  It was not confusing at all!

Liz was a character that you loved to hate.  She was selfish, conceited and mean.  Her group of friends were superficial and flaky.  Throughout the book though, you find that you are connecting with Liz and you see how she grows and changes.  I connected with both Liz and her mother as I have suffered from anorexia.  I understand the need to control the one and only thing you think you can control.  I felt Liz's pain and stress and she fought both with starvation and running.

I loved Alex too.  He didn't hold a grudge and the scene at Homecoming (won't say anymore about it) was so sweet!  I liked how Alex and Liz worked through their relationship and ended up connecting and I really liked how Alex deals with what he already knows.  He lets Liz figure out what she needs to figure out on her own while being there to support her and guide her through it. 

This book was long...454 pages but totally worth it!  You won't even notice how many pages are in it as it was so gripping.  I highly recommend this one!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Book Review: Tris & Izzie by Mette Ivie Harrison

Tris & Izzie

Synopsis(from Goodreads):  A modern retelling of the German fairytale "Tristan and Isolde", Tris and Izzie is about a young witch named Izzie who is dating Mark King, the captain of the basketball team and thinks her life is going swimmingly well. Until -- she makes a love potion for her best friend Brangane and then ends up taking it herself accidentally, and falling in love with Tristan, the new guy at school.

My Thoughts:  I really wanted to like this book.  I mean, the cover is gorgeous right?  Well, unfortunately, the cover was the only good thing about the book. 

First, the whole story was so unbelievable.  And not unbelievable in a paranormal kind of way but more corny like.  I just kept thinking "Really?  Is this how the whole book is going to go?"  Yeah, corny is a great way to describe it.  Izzie is totally in love with Mark who is the "king" of the school.  I found it very annoying that he was the one and only person who could determine your popularity.  At one point, Izzie tells us that if she wants Mel (an annoying character) to be exiled, all she had to do was tell Mark and he would tell his "posse" not to talk to Mel and therefore Mel would be exiled.  Yeah, I'm serious here!

Izzie is very conceited, self-centered and arrogant.  I did not like her nor could I connect with her.  She decides to mess with her best friend's love life by stealing one of her mom's love potions and having her best friend and a new guy, Tristan, drink it.  Only after Tristan drinks it, Izzie ends up drinking the other half instead of Branna.  Instantly, Tristan is telling Izzie how much he loves her and how he will die for her.  Izzie, while not vocalizing her feelings, is feeling the same way for Tristan. 

Then, Izzie tells Mark that Branna is in love with him and he should be with Branna since Izzie is still being affected by the love potion and immediately (although only 30 seconds before he was madly in love with Izzie), Mark is in love with Branna.  So, can you say unrealistic?

Honestly, the best part of this book was when I (finally) finished it!  I really had to make myself sit down and read it every night.  I kept thinking maybe it would get better but the characters were not developed well (you couldn't connect to any of them), the plot was corny and unrealistic and the "magic" is just out of place.  Maybe this book would be better for younger (ages 12-14) girls to read.  For me, it just didn't work!

**Book received from Around the World ARC Tours**

Monday, October 17, 2011

Book Review: Supernaturally by Kiersten White

Supernaturally (Paranormalcy, #2)

Synopsis (from Goodreads):  
Evie finally has the normal life she’s always longed for. But she’s shocked to discover that being ordinary can be . . . kind of boring. Just when Evie starts to long for her days at the International Paranormal Containment Agency, she’s given a chance to work for them again. Desperate for a break from all the normalcy, she agrees.
But as one disastrous mission leads to another, Evie starts to wonder if she made the right choice. And when Evie’s faerie ex-boyfriend Reth appears with devastating revelations about her past, she discovers that there’s a battle brewing between the faerie courts that could throw the whole supernatural world into chaos. The prize in question? Evie herself.
So much for normal.

My Thoughts:  I loved the first book in this series, Paranormalcy.  It was just about as perfect as a book could get for me so I was kinda expecting this one to not live up to the first and sadly, I was right.  It wasn't as good as Paranormalcy but it was still really good and a super fun read.

I just love Evie!  She is super funny, not too moody although a little more "feel sorry for me" than in the last book.  She didn't have as much fun finding paranormals in this book since she has left the IPCA but we did see some bag & tags.  I didn't like how much she was dependent on Lend in this book.  She lost a little of her appeal here but still a great character!

I was sad that we didn't see as much of Lend in this book as we did in the last.  I loved how in Paranormalcy he was fun and quirky.  In this one, he seemed grown up, serious and tended to nag a lot.  I wanted him to be his funny, invisible self but it just wasn't quite there for me in this book.

I liked the other characters, Ariana, Raquel and even Reth but there were some things in this book that just didn't make sense to me really.  I didn't really think Jack was a needed character, although he was fun until the end.  I wasn't sure what the deal was with Nona and the other paranormals, the Dark Fairie Queen and Evie's father.  These things were brought into the story and then were just kinda left hanging there.  I can only hope that all this is to set up the third book, Endlessly. 

So, while I did still enjoy this book and I found it fun and a quick read, it wasn't nearly as good as Paranormalcy.  I can't wait to read Endlessly and see how all of this comes together.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Book Review: Deady Cool by Gemma Halliday

Deadly Cool

Synopsis (from Goodreads):  
First I find out that my boyfriend is cheating on me. Then he’s pegged as the #1 suspect in a murder. And now he’s depending on me to clear his name. Seriously?
As much as I wouldn’t mind watching him squirm, I know that he’s innocent. So I’m brushing off my previously untapped detective skills and getting down to business. But I keep tripping over dead bodies and I’m still no closer to figuring out who did it. And what’s worse: all signs seem to point to me as the killer’s next victim.
I really need to pick a better boyfriend next time.

My Thoughts:  Deadly Cool is a fun and fast paced mystery that was a great change from the paranormal books I've been reading lately.  Don't get me wrong here...I love my paranormal stories but once in awhile I need a break and this was a refreshing read!

I loved Hartley, who always seem to get herself into the craziest situations.  She was determined and strong-willed and even though her boyfriend Josh cheated on her, she was willing to help clear his name.  I loved how snarky she was and found her quite entertaining.

Sam is Hartley's sidekick.  She is a great partner-in-crime for Hartley and together they make a hilarious team.  She is always there for Hartley and I enjoyed her charcter almost as much as I liked Hartley.  She was a strong and loyal friend.

I did figure out who the killer was before the end but for the most part, the book kept me guessing.  It took awhile for me to figure it out but I did.  However, despite this little downer, I thought the book was quirky and fun.  I couldn't put it down because I didn't want to miss another crazy situation the girls got in.  I laughed throughout most of the book and really enjoyed this light and fluffy read!  I would highly recommend it to those who like a mystery that is full of fun!

**I received this book from Around the World ARC Book Tours**

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Book Review: Heist Society by Ally Carter

Heist Society (Heist Society, #1)

Synopsis (from Goodreads):  When Katarina Bishop was three, her parents took her on a trip to the Louvre…to case it. For her seventh birthday, Katarina and her Uncle Eddie traveled to Austria…to steal the crown jewels. When Kat turned fifteen, she planned a con of her own—scamming her way into the best boarding school in the country, determined to leave the family business behind. Unfortunately, leaving “the life” for a normal life proves harder than she’d expected.

Soon, Kat's friend and former co-conspirator, Hale, appears out of nowhere to bring Kat back into the world she tried so hard to escape. But he has a good reason: a powerful mobster has been robbed of his priceless art collection and wants to retrieve it. Only a master thief could have pulled this job, and Kat's father isn't just on the suspect list, he is the list. Caught between Interpol and a far more deadly enemy, Kat’s dad needs her help.

For Kat, there is only one solution: track down the paintings and steal them back. So what if it's a spectacularly impossible job? She's got two weeks, a teenage crew, and hopefully just enough talent to pull off the biggest heist in her family's history--and, with any luck, steal her life back along the way.

My thoughts:  This was such a cute and totally fun book!  It was a really easy read and as soon as I started I had to finish it!  Seriously, I could not put it down!

Kat finally has a "normal" life.  She stole her way into one of the most prestigious schools and is just trying to be your everyday, normal teenager.  We won't mention the fact that her family is full of thieves.  Kat however is blamed for a prank played on the Headmaster and is soon kicked out.  She soon finds out why.

Kat is picked up by her old friend Hale.  He has a message for her.  Her father is in trouble.  It seems that he has stolen some very valuable art from a mobster and that mobster wants it back yesterday!  Kat must find out if her father really did this and regardless of his guilt or innocence, she must rejoin the family "business" and get the art back!

I loved Kat.  She was strong, smart, didn't let romance or her feelings get the best of her and was just all around awesome!  I loved her attitude and the underlying romance between her and Hale.  Kat was determined to make things right all the way around and I loved how she accomplished that.

I loved the boys!  Hamish and Angus were just a bunch of goofballs.  They knew what they had to do and did their job well but they also had fun.  They kept things entertaining and fun throughout the book.  They were a great comedy team.

Hale and Gabrielle and Simon were also great characters.  Hale was smart, hot and always there for Kat.  The romance between them is just beginning so I hope to see more of that in the next few books.  Simon is the smarty pants of the group.  Gabrielle was the beautiful drama queen and Kat's enemy.  I enjoyed how they overcame their hostility toward each other though when things got serious.

The author made this book so vivid.  I could actually see Simon in his "office" during the heist and actually laughed out loud.  The description of Hale's mansion was perfect and I can also see Marcus very clearly.  The book made me feel like I was right there.  In fact, at the end, when everything goes down I was actually so tense that I couldn't sit still while reading. 

There were a few things that I didn't really get like what Nick's character was really there for.  He just seemed like he was kind of thrown in there and I thought the book could have easily gone on without him.  The only thing he provided was another potential love interest for Kat and someone to make Hale jealous. 

I would also have liked some more history on how exactly Kat got into Colgan (the private school) but that isn't a huge thing for me.  The history surrounding the art could have had some more detail as well but all in all, it was a fun and light read.  It has the perfect amount of romance, humor and action.  I have already ordered the second book and can't wait for a third!