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, March 29, 2012

Charity Around the World Giveaway Hop!

Welcome to the Charity Hopping Around the World Giveaway Hop
March 30th to April 4th

Hosted by:
I Am A Reader, Not A Writer
Reading Away the Days
Reading a Little Bit of Everything

Purpose: To promote a charity that I support.
The charity I want to let you all know about is called Children's HopeChest.  Some of you may know that my family is on a journey to adopt a child from Ethiopia.  This has become very important to us and we want to help the children from Ethiopia in other ways besides adoption.
That's when we discovered Children's HopeChest.  At Children's HopeChest you can chose to sponsor a child from Ethiopia, Russia, Swaziland, Uganda, South Africa or India.  You can also chose to do a one time donation, buy something from the store, etc.  We chose to sponsor a child from Ethiopia and we have his picture on our fridge now.  
A little about Children's HopeChest (from their website at
Children's HopeChest - Engaging, Connecting and Transforming The World's Orphans


Children’s HopeChest believes that every orphan has the right to know God, experience the blessing of family, and have the opportunity to develop independent living skills.


Children’s HopeChest was founded in 1994 in response to the devastating need of orphans in Russia following the fall of the Iron Curtain. These children had serious basic needs – for clothing, food, medical and facilities – but more compelling was their need for love, human interaction and care, and future hope. In response, Children’s HopeChest developed a holistic approach which meets medical, physical, educational, emotional, and spiritual needs of orphaned children and youth, in fulfillment of our mission.


Children’s HopeChest connects Christian communities in the U.S. and Canada with impoverished communities of orphans overseas.  This unique “community-to-community” sponsorship leverages the power of one community of Christians making a long-term, transformational impact on a community of orphans and vulnerable children. Ultimately, these relationships and resources empower orphans to survive, thrive, and succeed within their home culture.

Who We Partner With

HopeChest partners primarily with churches, businesses and Christian communities such as blogs, online groups, book clubs, and small groups. These sponsoring communities are providing help, training, and discipleship for over 10,000 orphans.  HopeChest has over 100 active partnerships in Russia, Swaziland, South Africa, Ethiopia, Uganda, Haiti, Guatemala, Moldova, and India.

What We Believe

HopeChest was founded as and remains to this day an evangelical Christian organization. Our statement of faith affirms our core beliefs and doctrine. In practice, we believe strongly in putting faith into action as an expression of our faith in Jesus Christ. In the tradition of Matthew 25, we believe in demonstrating the power of the gospel by meeting earthly needs within a spiritual context and for an evangelical purpose. Our ministry is demonstrative, hands-on, and purposeful in our faith. We have been accused by some as too Christian, and by others as not Christian enough. It is our heart to incarnate the agape love of Jesus Christ to every orphan we minister to and, in doing so, bring them into wholeness in this world and eternal life for the world to come.

Governance and Financial Accountability

Children’s HopeChest is a member in good standing of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability. In accordance with their standards and principles, we are governed by a board of directors. HopeChest’s board has the full fiduciary responsibility for the organization and takes active steps to safeguard our financial, spiritual, and programmatic integrity.

There is much more information on their website.  Just click their logo above to be taken there.


My prize comes from a sweet little online shop called Just Love Coffee.  They have coffee from Ethiopia so we joined with them and all those who buy coffee through our storefront helps with our adoption.  I am going to be sending you a sample pack of Ethiopian coffee with a travel mug.  Ethiopia is known for their coffee as it is one of their major trades.  It is amazing coffee!

If you don't like coffee, it makes a wonderful gift for that coffee lover in your life!  So, fill out the rafflecopter below to enter!  

I want to thank you so much for learning a little about my charity.  I can't tell you how awesome it is to get pictures and letters from the child you sponsor and know that you are the one helping!  Thank you again and good luck!

Book Review: Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin

Masque of the Red Death 

*Received from Around the World ARC Tours for review*

Synopsis (from Goodreads):   

Everything is in ruins.

A devastating plague has decimated the population. And those who are left live in fear of catching it as the city crumbles to pieces around them.

So what does Araby Worth have to live for?

Nights in the Debauchery Club, beautiful dresses, glittery make-up . . . and tantalizing ways to forget it all.

But in the depths of the club—in the depths of her own despair—Araby will find more than oblivion. She will find Will, the terribly handsome proprietor of the club. And Elliott, the wickedly smart aristocrat. Neither boy is what he seems. Both have secrets. Everyone does.

And Araby may find something not just to live for, but to fight for—no matter what it costs her.

My Thoughts:

This was a great book!  I started reading it and did not want to put it down.  It captures your attention from page one until the end!

Araby lives with her parents.  Her father is a scientist for the Prince but he is one of the few that gets to live outside the castle walls.  Her father has invented a mask for those who are not infected with the plague (and those who can afford to buy them) to wear when in "unclean" air. 

 Araby feels like the unwanted since her brother died.  He was always the golden child and he died from the plague.  Araby decides after he dies that she will not experience anything that her brother wasn't able to experience.  She won't fall in love, won't kiss anyone, etc.  This doesn't become a problem until she meets Will and Elliott.

Will is the "inspector" at the club Araby goes too.  The club has clean air so you can take your masks off there but first you must go through a series of tests to make sure you aren't infected.  This is Will's job.  Will is sweet and caring underneath is serious attitude.  He works hard and takes care of his little brother and sister.  I really liked Will!

Elliott is April's brother.  April is Araby's best friend and the two often go to the club together but Araby doesn't ever meet Elliott until after April disappears one night.  Elliott wants to take the prince down and make masks available to everyone.  But, since the prince and Araby's father are the only two who have the prototype, Elliott needs Araby.  Araby depends a lot on Elliott as well. 

Together, they need to find a way to take down Prince Prospero, find April and not get infected.  They want to be able to make masks for the old and young, rich and poor unlike.  In a world full of death and plague, this is quite the challenge.  

The love triangle between the three wasn't a huge issue.  I was kept guessing which boy would be "the" boy and I enjoyed that.  Triangles get old but this one was not bothersome at all.   

This book is fast paced and exciting from start to finish. The characters were well developed and likeable.  I think this one is a must read!

And the winner is...

Thank you to everyone who entered my Kick-Butt Characters Giveaway!  The winner of Bloodrose is....


Congratulations Heather!  I have sent Heather and email and she has 48 hours to respond or I will have to pick another winner.  

Thank you again everyone who entered.  Stay tuned for more giveaways!  I have a ton of books to giveaway to others to enjoy them.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Kick-Butt Characters Giveaway Hop

The Kick-Butt Characters giveaway hop is hosted by Kathy over at I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and Good Choice Reading.

Bloodrose (Nightshade, #3)I am giving away a copy of Bloodrose by Andrea Cremer.  Why?  Because, hello!  Ren is a total kick-butt character!  He's hot, sweet, loyal, a great fighter...oh, I could go on and on!  Calla did not deserve him in my opinion!  

Anyways, I have a hardback copy of Bloodrose to give to one lucky US winner.  Just fill out the Rafflecopter below and then hop to the other giveaways!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Book Review: Breaking Beautiful by Jennifer Shaw Wolf

Breaking Beautiful
 **Received book from Around the World ARC Tours for review**

Synopsis (from Goodreads):  Allie lost everything the night her boyfriend, Trip, died in a horrible car accident—including her memory of the event. As their small town mourns his death, Allie is afraid to remember because doing so means delving into what she’s kept hidden for so long: the horrible reality of their abusive relationship.

When the police reopen the investigation, it casts suspicion on Allie and her best friend, Blake, especially as their budding romance raises eyebrows around town. Allie knows she must tell the truth. Can she reach deep enough to remember that night so she can finally break free? Debut writer Jennifer Shaw Wolf takes readers on an emotional ride through the murky waters of love, shame, and, ultimately, forgiveness.
My Thoughts:  I am sure that I will probably one of the only ones who didn't care for this book so much but I have to give my honest opinion.  It wasn't that it was a bad book, it was pretty good but the main character drove me crazy!  There were SO many times I wanted to smack her.  
The story starts with Allie recovering from a car accident that killed her boyfriend and left her scarred.  Everyone is asking her what happened but she has no memory of anything that led up to the accident.  She only knows what people have told her:  her boyfriend's truck went over the cliff into the ocean and she someone made it out of the truck before it went over.  Some say that Trip (her boyfriend) pushed her out to save her while others say she jumped.  
Allie hasn't been back to school yet and is obviously very depressed.  Her parents and her twin brother (who suffers from Cerebral Palsy) finally make her go back and she is surrounded by friends that she never had before the accident.  Now she has to figure out who her real friends are and what really happened that tragic night.
Allie was so weak in my opinion!  Throughout the story we see snip-its of her relationship with Trip and we find out that Trip is not really the golden boy everyone thinks he is.  Sure, he comes from the wealthiest family in town and he is super popular but underneath all that is a violent streak.  What I didn't like about this book was that even though Trip and Allie were together for only a year (maybe a little more) and still in high school, everyone was acting like Allie was some widow and her husband of YEARS had died.  Even Allie!  She couldn't talk to other boys because what would "other people" think?  She couldn't date anyone else or be happy or have any fun because the people in town might think it was too soon.  Excuse me?  It's sad yes but she was a teenager!  There is no set amount of "mourning" time.  It was really ridiculous.  Allie also annoyed me with how she blamed herself for everything.  Towards the end of the book, Allie makes a decision that is so terribly weak and I almost quit reading the book altogether.  However, after a short break, I picked it up again and finished it.  I was mad at how inconsiderate Allie was and how she put Blake is so much danger but it worked out.
I loved Blake.  He was Allie's friend from when they were little and Allie would visit her grandma.  After Allie's family moves to Pacific Cliffs and Allie starts to date Trip, her relationship with Blake ends.  Now that Trip is gone, she turns to Blake to help her get through school but of course, only in secret because no one can know she might have a friend and be happy.  Blake was a rebel and a bad boy but deep down he was caring and protective.  
Andrew is Allie's twin brother.  He suffers from Cerebral Palsy from lack of oxygen when they were born (of course, Allie blames herself for this).  He doesn't feel sorry for himself however and makes the best out of school and what he is able to do.  He gets a girlfriend and is not shy about going to school dances or anything.  He is just happy.  He loves his sister very much and really tries to protect her and keep her safe.  
Caitlyn is Andrew's girlfriend and I enjoyed her eccentric personality.  She was quirky and likes Andrew despite his handicap.  She helps take care of him and makes sure he has fun at parties and dances.  I loved her sense of style and how she just really didn't care what others thought.  I thought that Allie could learn a lot from her!
The story touches on some very serious subjects and deals with them pretty well.  I just got tired of the self-blame, self-pity and secrecy.  I also got tired of how everyone in town thought Allie (an 18-year-old girl) should be in mourning for a long time.  It just seemed ridiculous.  The person behind all the notes Allie gets is odd too.  I can't say much because I don't want to tell you who it was but really?  I didn't understand why this person would go to all this trouble and why they would care.  It was strange.  
So, this wasn't my favorite and I won't be rushing out to buy it (or even buy it at all) but it wasn't horrible.  It was a book that dealt with a lot and was a somewhat fast read.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Book Review: Hemlock by Kathleen Peacock

Hemlock (Hemlock, #1) 

**I received this book from Around the World ARC Tours for review**

Synopsis (from Goodreads):  Mackenzie and Amy were best friends. Until Amy was brutally murdered.

Since then, Mac’s life has been turned upside down. She is being haunted by Amy in her dreams, and an extremist group called the Trackers has come to Mac’s hometown of Hemlock to hunt down Amy’s killer: A white werewolf.

Lupine syndrome—also known as the werewolf virus—is on the rise across the country. Many of the infected try to hide their symptoms, but bloodlust is not easy to control.

Wanting desperately to put an end to her nightmares, Mac decides to investigate Amy’s murder herself. She discovers secrets lurking in the shadows of Hemlock, secrets about Amy’s boyfriend, Jason, her good pal Kyle, and especially her late best friend. Mac is thrown into a maelstrom of violence and betrayal that puts her life at risk.

Kathleen Peacock’s thrilling novel is the first in the Hemlock trilogy, a spellbinding urban fantasy series filled with provocative questions about prejudice, trust, lies, and love.

My Thoughts:

Mackenzie's best friend, Amy, was killed by a werewolf a few months ago.  Now, a werewolf is terrorizing Hemlock again and Mac, Jason and Kyle are in the middle of it all.  After the Trackers arrive in Hemlock, Mac decides she is going to investigate the death of Amy as well. Trackers hunt the werewolves and put them into "rehabilitation" camps.  I thought it sounded more like a concentration camp in Nazi Germany.  They were cruel, violent and pretty much just stupid.  

Mac lives with her cousin, Tess. Mac's father left her with Tess when she was younger and while Tess forgets to buy groceries sometimes, she is really caring and sweet.  Mac is really loyal, strong and brave.  She has her naive moments but hey, who doesn't?  I really liked how strong her bond with Tess was too.  They were always there for each other. 

Kyle was probably my favorite character.  He is very protective of Mac and tries to do what is best for her.  He cares about people and even spends time with his psycho ex-girlfriend to make sure she is okay.  He has a big secret that you will have to read the book to find out but he was by far my favorite!

Jason is your ultimate spoiled, rich, bad boy.  He was Amy's boyfriend and is torn apart after she is killed.  He is self-destructive and is looking to join the Trackers.  He drinks all the time and pays to get himself out of trouble. However, you can tell that his is hurting and dealing with it the only way he knows how. 

I really enjoyed how Amy was still in the story even though she was dead.  Amy would "haunt" Mac's dreams at night.  I loved their interactions and how Amy was still a big part of Mac's life.  

I also liked how the werewolves were acknowledged by the whole world.  While you didn't want to let everyone know that you were infected with LS, it wasn't something that people didn't believe in. There were books on the illness and the CDC even had information on it.  It made the whole story seem more realistic somehow.

Overall this was a very suspenseful and fast-paced book.  It only took me a few days to read and I really didn't want to have to put it down.  The romance isn't overdone and the characters are well developed.  I can't wait to read the second book to see what happens next!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Book Review: Keep Holding On by Susan Colasanti

Keep Holding On

**Received book from Around the World ARC Tours for review**

Synopsis (from Goodreads):  Between Noelle’s difficult home life and the bullying she endures at school, all she wants is to get out of her small town. Noelle would give anything to be with Julian Porter. But staying with her emotionally distant boyfriend is safer. When things heat up between Noelle and Julian, she has to decide whether she can be her true self with him.

My Thoughts:  This is the first book I have from from this author and I'm always excited to read new-to-me authors.  I was not disappointed by this book even though it isn't really my usual type of book.  It was heart wrenching and has a great message.  It's one of those books that I think teenage girls all over should read, despite a few problems I had with it.

Noelle has a rough life.  Her mom hates her, she has no father and her high school life is miserable.  The popular girls are mean to her because she isn't rich like them.  She doesn't have the ultra cool clothes, doesn't have her own car and can't even make a decent lunch for herself because there is no food in the house. She is constantly picked on.  

Noelle does have a boyfriend however he wants to keep their relationship a secret.  Matt meets up with Noelle in their "secret place" to make out but other than that, he is never around.  Is it because he is not ready for a relationship or because he is embarrassed to be seen with Noelle?

The Julian, the boy that Noelle is crushing on but is sure he is out of her league, starts talking to her.  In fact, he starts paying a lot of attention to her.  Noelle really likes him but she is so certain that she is not enough for him that she stays with Matt and their "secret" relationship.  When Matt and Noelle get caught in their "secret place", Noelle finds out some secrets Matt has been hiding and these secrets change everything.

I really liked Noelle most of the time.  There were times when I was really annoyed with her though.  There was another girl who was an outcast like Noelle.  She would ask Noelle to come to her house or hang out and Noelle would turn her down all the time for fear of being seen with her.  I was angry that Noelle was doing the same thing to this girl as the popular girls were doing to Noelle.  While she even admitted it was wrong, Noelle wouldn't do anything to change her attitude towards this girl.  I understand she didn't want things to "get worse" but it was a little hypocritical.  I was also annoyed with how Noelle would whine about having no money and no food in the house yet she was able to get free lunches from the school but wouldn't.  Why?  Because she didn't want people to know that she was that poor.  Really?!  The mustard and mayo only sandwiches didn't show that already?  People didn't already know that?  Man, if I were that hungry, I would accept free lunch.

Julian was amazing!  He was popular but really didn't care what others thought when he talked to Noelle.  They had a lot in common and he liked her for who she was and not how popular she was or how much money she had.  He was really sweet and I liked how he didn't just give in to Noelle after she made a mistake.  He really had to think about things.  

Sherae and Simon were also awesome.  Simon had his own style and just went with it.  He really didn't care what people thought and actually would go out of his way to be different.  He really cares about Noelle as a friend and tries to protect and help her without being obvious about it.  Sherae has her own secrets and problems but she is always there for Noelle.  She tries to take care of Noelle as well and once Noelle actually opens up to her, Sherae really helps Noelle in other ways.  

Noelle's mom is a single mom who obviously doesn't want to take care of Noelle.  She really resents Noelle and won't talk to her or even look at her.  The only time they talk is when her mom is ranting about her horrible job or how poor they are.  She never asks about Noelle and will even go as far as stealing Noelle's money.  Not exactly the ideal mother.

The one thing I really didn't care about in this book was the ending.  It was kinda "Brady Bunch" like in that everything gets resolved for the better.  Noelle gets the hottie boyfriend, is on the Lit. magazine and has this great new confidence after a horrible tragedy occurs.  Her mom gets scared by the school counselor and suddenly does an about face and starts caring about Noelle.  It just resolved itself too easily.  I wish all bullying situations could be resolved that easily and quickly but as someone who has gone through high school, I have seen these things happen and know that they aren't quite so quick to turn around.  

So I still think it is a book teens should read because it does deal with bullying and it does show you what could happen when you treat someone so horribly.  It does have some issues but all in all, it's a book that will pull at your heartstrings.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Book Review: A Temptation of Angels by Michelle Zink

A Temptation of Angels 
**I received this book from Around the World ARC Tours for review**

Synopsis (from Goodreads):  Even angels make mistakes in this page-turning epic romance...

When her parents are murdered before her eyes, sixteen-year-old Helen Cartwright finds herself launched into an underground London where a mysterious organization called the Dictata controls the balance of good and evil. Helen learns that she is one of three remaining angelic descendants charged with protecting the world's past, present, and future. Unbeknownst to her, she has been trained her whole life to accept this responsibility. Now, as she finds herself torn between the angelic brothers protecting her and the devastatingly handsome childhood friend who wants to destroy her, she must prepare to be brave, to be hunted, and above all to be strong, because temptation will be hard to resist, even for an angel.

Michelle Zink masterfully weaves historical fantasy with paranormal romance to create a gripping tale of love and betrayal.

My Thoughts:  This book is one of those hard ones for me to review.  Not because I loved it or hated it but because it didn't cause any major feelings in me.  It was just a book I read...not bad or good.

The story begins with Helen lying in bed listening to her parents and their "associates" having a meeting.  She can hear the voices and feels the tension but knows nothing about what her parents are doing.  Then her mother rushes in and hides Helen with special instructions.  After that, there is nothing left of Helen's parents or her childhood home.  

She follows her mother's instructions and ends up at the Channing house.  The brothers, Darius and Griffin, seem to be waiting for her but surprised at how young she is.  They briefly explain a few things to Helen and leave her even more confused than she was.  They tell her she is one of the Keepers.  In fact, she is one of only three left.   The Keepers are being killed off one by one.  It is up to the Channing boys and Helen to figure out how to stop it.

This book was not full of action or suspenseful.  I could easily put it down and do other things like clean my house and cut coupons so it wasn't one of those amazing "can't put down until the end" books.  It did keep my interest somewhat because I was able to finish it with no problem...just not as quickly as I would have liked.

The story takes place in England sometime in the past.  There is never really a time mentioned and not a lot of descriptions to help you figure it out.  At one point it is written that Helen wears a corset, has her dresses made and I think one or two mentions of a horse and carriage.  Other than that, there is nothing to tell you what time period you are reading about.  

Then there is the story behind the Keepers, the Legion and the Dictata...or rather, there is no story behind them.  It was frustrating because you were told just a tiny bit about them but there was no back story.  You really didn't know a lot about what the role of the Dictata was or what was behind the Legion.  

The love triangle was not really a love triangle at all.  I'm totally fine with no love triangle but the author tried to bring one in and it just fell flat for me.  I didn't see the point in it at all.  I also wasn't impressed with the "insta-love" between Griffin and Helen.  Helen didn't really grieve for her parents or all that she lost and then suddenly she is madly in love with a guy she has known for two days?  

So, for me this book was unimpressive.  It wasn't good or bad....just forgettable.  There wasn't even a cliffhanger at the end to make me want to read more (if this is suppose to be a series).  I would recommend borrowing this book before buying it.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Giveaway over at Sweeping Me for her One Year Blogoversary!!


One of my favorite blogs, Sweeping Me, is having her one year blogoversary!  She is giving away your choice of a Kindle Touch or a $100 giftcard!  Nice huh?  I mean, who wouldn't want a Kindle?  Or if you already have one a giftcard would be awesome too! 

So, head on over to Sweeping Me's blog and look around.  It is seriously a fun blog to visit!  Then enter to win...or better yet, don't enter to win so I have better chances!  :)  Just kidding...maybe.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Book Review: Perception by Kim Harrington

Perception (Clarity, #2) 
**I received this book from Around the World ARC Tours for review**

Synopsis (from Goodreads):  When you can see things others can't, what do you do when someone's watching you?

Everybody knows about Clarity "Clare" Fern. She's the psychic girl in school, the one who can place her hands on something and see hidden visions from the past.

Only Clare would rather not be a celebrity. She prefers hanging back, observing. Her gift is not a game to her.

But then someone starts playing with her head . . . and heart. Messages and gifts from a secret admirer crop up everywhere Clare turns. Could they be from Gabriel, the gorgeous boy who gets Clare's pulse racing? Or from Justin, Clare's hopeful ex-boyfriend who'd do anything to win her back?

One thing is certain. Clare needs to solve this mystery, and soon. Because the messages are becoming sinister, and a girl in town has suddenly disappeared.

My Thoughts:  With all that happened last summer (or in the last book for us readers), Clarity Fern is now no longer the "freak" but part of the popular crowd.  She has become the local celebrity, much to her dismay.  She is still trying to decide between her ex-boyfriend, Justin, who saved her life and Gabriel, the hot new guy who is also skeptical of all psychics.

When Clare starts getting sweet notes and gifts from her "secret admirer" she is at first flattered.  She has become friends with another girl (who is labeled "freak") and she shares her little notes and gifts with her.  Clare and Mallory become quick friends and Clare really wants to help Mallory with her secrets.  Mallory is the neighbor of the girl who has recently disappeared and Clare is sure there is more to the relationship between Mallory and Sierra (the missing girl) than what Mallory is letting on.  

When things escalate with the missing girl and with Clare's secret admirer, Clare starts to get scared.  She is not sure who to trust anymore.  She also can't decide whether she should help with the investigation or stay away like her mom wants her to do.  

I thought this was a great book and read it quickly simply because I couldn't put it down.  I always liked the relationship between Clare and her mom and brother, Perry, and I still enjoyed it in this book.  Perry has some issues that I can personally relate too but it was nice to see him (somewhat) overcome them.  

The triangle between Gabriel and Justin is a no brainer to me but Clare struggles with who to chose.  She feels comfortable with Justin and maybe a little obligated since he did save her life last summer.  However, Gabriel is so sweet and mysterious.  I personally think Clare and Gabriel have more in common than Clare and Justin.

The mystery was intriguing and although I figured out who the villain was about halfway through the book I had to keep reading to make sure I was right.  I don't think it took away from the story at all.  The villain was an excellent villain too, in my opinion!

The only thing that I had an issue with was Clare's "dumb" moment towards the end.  Clare gets a text and I would like to think that if it were me and I knew what Clare knew, that I would think twice before answering it.  That's all I can say about it though.  You will have to read the book to find out what exactly I am talking about.  Again, it didn't take away from this fast paced, fun book!