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 »

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Book Review: The Girl in the Park by Mariah Fredericks

Synopsis (from Goodreads):  When Wendy Geller's body is found in Central Park after the night of a rager, newspaper headlines scream,"Death in the Park: Party Girl Found Strangled." But shy Rain, once Wendy's best friend, knows there was more to Wendy than just "party girl." As she struggles to separate the friend she knew from the tangle of gossip and headlines, Rain becomes determined to discover the truth about the murder. Written in a voice at once immediate, riveting, and utterly convincing, Mariah Frederick's mystery brilliantly exposes the cracks in this exclusive New York City world and the teenagers that move within it.

My Thoughts:  I love a good mystery and this was a good mystery!  There were lots of clues to "who dunnit" and I figured it out early but it didn't necessarily take away from the book.

Rain and Wendy used to be friends.  They have grown apart though and don't talk much anymore.  They attended the same party though and when Rain is woken up by a phonecall from Wendy's mom, things start to spiral downhill.  Wendy's mom calls Rain to find out if Wendy is over there because she didn't come home that night.  Rain had seen Wendy at the party the night before but had left before Wendy had. 

Later, Wendy's body is found in the park.  She had been strangled and left there.  Rain feels that she needs to help find out what happened to Wendy, especially after everyone is saying mean things about her.  It's true that Wendy wasn't the most liked girl and she had her issues but Rain doesn't feel that she deserves to be treated in death this way.

As you  follow the clues with Rain, you also get taken back in time to when Rain and Wendy were friends.  You find out how Rain became accepted finally in her school and how Wendy became so intensly disliked by most of the girls.  You find out why Wendy and Rain parted ways as well and you get glimpses into Wendy's life and clues as to what may have happened. 

So, like I said, I figured it out about halfway through the book but I didn't necessarily know why this person killed Wendy.  I had a pretty dang good idea as to why but I wanted it confirmed.  I also wanted to see how Rain came to find out who it was. 

This book is a very fast read and definitely keeps your interest through the whole book.  I loved that the flashbacks were not confusing at all and they all made sense and helped develop the story.  If you like mysteries, I am pretty sure you will enjoy this one.  It's a great book to pick up for a quick, fun read!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Book Review: Amber House by Kelly Moore, Tucker Reed & Larkin Reed

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

Synopsis (from Goodreads):  "I was sixteen the first time my grandmother died . . ."

Sarah Parsons has never been to Amber House, the grand Maryland estate that's been in her family for three centuries. She's never wandered its hedge maze or explored its secret attics; she's never danced in its ballroom, or hunted for the diamonds said to be hidden in its walls.

But as Sarah, her brother, and their icy mother settle into Amber House, she finds herself drawn to both handsome Richard, who introduces her to a world of wealth and privilege, and intriguing Jackson, who dares her to find the diamonds. She discovers she can see visions of the mansion’s history—like her mother as a young girl, unimaginably warm and happy, or the cruel sea captain who lost the jewels long ago. Piece by piece, she uncovers the secrets of Amber House: its ancient crimes, and its fresh betrayals.

Where are the diamonds? Who caused her mother’s unhappiness?  And what tragic act still echoes through Amber House? Sarah needs answers soon. Because when her visions threaten the person she holds most dear, she must untangle the web of the past before it traps them all forever.

My Thoughts:  I love me a good ghost story!  This was a fun ghost story that kept my attention from the beginning.  The end threw me for a loop and I am glad to know that there are more to come because if that was it then I would not be a happy camper!

Sarah is at her grandmother's house for her grandmother's funeral.  She hardly knew her grandmother and had never visited her at Amber House.  Amber House is one of the most talked about houses in Maryland and Sarah is anxious to see what all the fuss is about.

Sarah meets Jackson while at Amber House.  Jackson and his grandma, Rose, live on the property.  Rose took care of Sarah's grandma and helps around Amber House.  Jackson appears to know quite a bit about Sarah before he even meets her.  She is very perplexed by this and a little put off by it.  Jackson tells Sarah about a lost treasure and asks her to help him find it though so she gets to know him more and starts to understand how he knows so much about her.

Sarah's mother hates Amber House and does not want to stay there at all.  It is only after Sarah and her little brother, Sam, come up with a plan that she gives in and they end up staying for the 10 days that they are in Maryland.  She warns Sarah that the house makes funny "noises" but Sarah and Sammy are excited to be able to stay and explore the house. 

The next day, Sarah meets Richard who is the son of one of her mother's friends.  Sarah's mother decides to throw Sarah a Sweet 16 party at Amber House and Richard is put in charge of helping Sarah meet some friends.  Sarah's mom thinks that the party will help her sell Amber House so they can get back to Seattle as soon as possible.

There was a love triangle (of course) but it wasn't too horrible.  The relationship between Jackson and Sarah was a little more muted than that of Sarah and Richard.  Sarah's mom is also very quick to point out that the boys must want something from her because everyone uses everyone else so you are constantly wondering (as is Sarah) if Sarah is being used or if these boys honestly like her.

The ending was a little confusing for me but it's only because it left me with more questions than when I started the book.  Like I said though, there are more books to come so I think that will answer a lot of those questions. 

I enjoyed this book and thought there were some really great spooky moments.  I liked all the treasure hunts but I wasn't sure about Sarah's "gift".  Sometimes it seemed a little cheesy the way she was able to "see" the past and some of the flashbacks were a little pointless but for the most part it was a great read!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Book Review: The Blessed by Tonya Hurley

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

Synopsis (from Goodreads):  From the author of the "New York Times" bestselling ghostgirl series, the start to a captivating and haunting teen trilogy about three girls who become entangled with an enigmatic boy--a boy who believes he is a saint.What if martyrs and saints lived among us? And what if you were told you were one of them?

Meet Agnes, Cecilia, and Lucy. Three lost girls, each searching for something. But what they find is Beyond Belief.

My Thoughts:  I probably won't be popular here and I'm sure I'll be in the minority on this one but that's okay with me.  I'm asked to give my honest opinion on books and this is my honest opinion.  I did not like this book at all!  It was just bizarre and didn't flow well for me.

The story begins with three teen girls all in the same Catholic hospital E.R.  Agnes has just tried to committ suicide, Cecilia was found face down in a mud puddle, drowning and Lucy was highly intoxicated.  They are all kept overnight for observation.  While there, Cecilia meets Sebastian, a young man that snuck into her cubicle in the middle of the night.  He gives her a beautiful but strange bracelet and then leaves.  When Lucy wakes up in the morning, she finds a very similar bracelet on her nightstand.  Agnes, while waiting for the psychiatrist, meets a young boy who gives her yet another similar bracelet.

Lucy goes home after her stint in the E.R.  She is a self-made socialite and only cares about herself and how she can promote herself more.   Her mom ran out on her and her father when she was young and her father is nowhere to be seen.  Lucy has dropped out of school and spends her time partying and making sure she gets a lot of free stuff.  She runs through her monthly allowance quickly and then relies on all hte free promotional stuff she gets to get her through the rest of the month.  She blows all her money on her appearance so she comes across as very wealthy. 

Cecilia is a runaway musician.  She ran away from her parent's home in Philidelphia and made it to New York where she sleeps with anyone and everyone and plays in dumps.  She obviously has also dropped out of school and lives on her own.  Her only "friend" is Bill, a homeless junkie, that she lets live on her apartment rooftop.  She brings him breakfast and booze in the morning.

Agnes is the only one who attends school (a Catholic school) and has a parent.  Her mother is very overbearing though and Agnes rebels by dating Sayer, a boy who her mother hates.  When Sayer  cheats on Agnes, Agnes decides to slit her wrists.  Her mother isn't really worried about her daughter though.  She is more worried about what everyone will think of her.

As a storm is brewing, Lucy gets kicked out of a club and takes off (driving drunk) in a taxi cab...and yes, I said she was driving the cab.  Cecilia leaves a show early and gets evicted from her apartment and Agnes decides to leave home.  They all end up in this old Catholic church and guess who is also there?  Yep, Sebastian.  During the worst storm of the year, all four get stuck in the church for 3 days.  And from there, it just gets weird. 

I did not connect to any of the characters and found the whole thing just strange.  First, Lucy and Cecilia both drop out of school and have no parents around but are making it just fine in NYC.  Well, okay, maybe.  But it just didn't work for me.  Then the whole Saint thing was messed up.  I am not *technically* Catholic.  I was baptized Catholic and that is all so I don't really know a lot about the Saints.  I am, however, a religious person and this book just made me completely uncomfortable.  It is my opinion and my opinion only.  But I didn't like the way the book left me feeling at all.

I also didn't like all the extreme violence at the end.  For three girls who are suppose to be Saints, they are EXTREMELY violent in the end.  One of the girls did make the comment that they were Saints, not Angels but still, that did not work at all for me. 

So, this was just one of those books that did not work for me at all.  I didn't get the point in it and will not be looking to read any more in this series (if it is a series). 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Book Review: The Diviners by Libba Bray

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

Synopsis (from Goodreads):  Evie O'Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City--and she is pos-i-toot-ly thrilled. New York is the city of speakeasies, shopping, and movie palaces! Soon enough, Evie is running with glamorous Ziegfield girls and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is Evie has to live with her Uncle Will, curator of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult--also known as "The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies."
When a rash of occult-based murders comes to light, Evie and her uncle are right in the thick of the investigation. And through it all, Evie has a secret: a mysterious power that could help catch the killer--if he doesn't catch her first.

My Thoughts:  Flapper girls, speakeasies, romance and ghosts!  What more could you possibly ask for in one book?  This book had it all for me and I did not want it to ever end!  However, like all good things must, this book did end so now I have to wait for the next book in the series.  Hopefully it won't be too long!

Evie has a gift.  At least, some people call it a gift.  She kind of thinks of it as a curse more than a gift.  Especially when this "gift" gets her in trouble.  The good thing though, she gets sent to New York to live with her uncle and who doesn't love New York? 

Back to Evie's gift though...Evie can "read" items from a person.  If she gets a personal item from someone, especially if that someone had strong emotions while wearing it or holding it, etc., she can tell what happened in the past. This comes in handy later in the story.

Evie meets Sam as soon as she gets to NYC.  She is not impressed with him however, especially after he steals $20 from her!  She continues on her way to her uncle's museum of "creepy crawlies".  There she meets her Uncle Will and his assistant, Jericho.  Everything is fun and games for Evie until her uncle gets called to help solve a ritualistic murder.  While at the scene with her uncle, Evie touches the dead girl's shoe and gets a vision.  She doesn't want to tell her uncle though because she doesn't want him to think she is crazy.

Theta is a Ziegfield girl who lives in the same building as Evie's uncle.  She lives with her friend, Henry, who is a piano player.  Theta has a past she is hiding from and a secret that no one but Henry knows.  She doesn't realize it but she is tied to Evie in a way that neither suspects.

Memphis and his brother, Isiah, live with their aunt.  Their mom died when they were young and their father left them shortly after.  Memphis is a numbers runner just trying to stay under the radar.  At one time, Memphis could "heal" people but after he tried to heal his mother, the gift left him.  His little brother, Isiah, can see the future.  Memphis tells Isiah to tell no one but Isiah is young and doesn't want his brother to boss him around. 

Evie, Jericho, Sam, Theta, Memphis and Isiah all come together with their gifts as Diviners.  The only thing is, they have no idea what is in store for them!

I loved how the story was told through the POVs of Evie, Theta, Memphis and sometimes Jericho, Will and Sam.  It made it interesting and wasn't the least bit confusing for me.  I also really enjoyed the paranormal mystery surrounding the murders.  It was very spooky and kept me up at night when my hubby was gone!  Not very many books can freak me out like that but I loved it!

I liked the relationship between Sam and Evie a lot and was actually very surprised by the romance that happened at the end.  I'm not sure I like the match but I did like that it was a little unexpected for me. 

This book is a seriously fun read with the very spooky mystery and murders!  If you like ghost stories, flappers and fun, this one is definitely for you!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Teaser Tuesday: The Diviners by Libba Bray

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

"The ritual begins again," the stranger said.  He pulled Ruta into the hidden room, and all she could do was scream.                 ~Page 71 of The Diviners by Libba Bray

Monday, July 2, 2012

Book Review: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

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

Synopsis (from Goodreads):  “There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

My Thoughts:  I loved this book more than I liked the Shiver series!  Seriously!

Blue lives with her mom, her mom's best friend, her two aunts and more recently, her third aunt, Neeve has shown up.  All of these women are psychics however Blue did not inherit any of their gifts.  She has always been told though that her true love will die by her kiss.  Therefore she has vowed never to kiss a boy.

Blue lives in the small town of Henrietta, which lies on the Ley Line (also known as the Corpse Road).  Every St. Mark's Eve, Blue and her mom go to the Corpse Road where Maura (Blue's mom) is able to see what town people will die in the upcoming year.  Blue has never been able to see the spirits but there is something about Blue's energy that helps the psychics "see" things more clear. 

This particular St. Mark's Eve, Blue is on the Corpse Road with Neeve, her aunt.  For the first time, Blue is able to see the spirit of a boy.  The boy goes to the local private school, Aglionby.  All she knows is that his name is Gansey and that the only reason she can see him is because he is her true love or she kills him.  When she meets Gansey in real life, she isn't sure she wants to get to know him at all but something pulls her into Gansey's little group.  Together, they all must find out how to wake the Ley Line but someone else does.

This book was so entertaining!  The characters were funny in their own ways.  I loved all of their names as well!  Blue is down to earth and fun and all her aunts are quirky and eccentric. Maura was always there for Blue and I loved that she wasn't one of those "absent" parents.  Neeve was different and I'm still not sure what her part was in the book.  I imagine we will find out more about her in the upcoming books.

I loved Gansey, Adam, Noah and Ronan.  Ronan is broody and sullen.  He is sarcastic and sometimes just downright mean.  But you were able to see his softer side when he was with Chainsaw and Noah and even in the end, with Adam. 

Gansey is a rich boy but he doesn't act spoiled.  He honestly doesn't understand why someone like Adam won't let Gansey help him financially.  He often says things that come across as inconsiderate or rude but he really doesn't mean to me.  I liked how much he cared for Adam and wanted to protect him and how he would go to bat for Ronan at the school.  He definitely seemed like the "parent" of the group.

Noah was a very interesting character!  His story took me completely by surprise and I loved that I totally didn't expect it.  He is very quiet and you don't see a ton of him at the beginning of the book but it is explained later on with a great twist!

Adam is very proud and shy.  He really likes Blue but at first is too shy to speak to her.  Adam is not rich like the other boys but he also attends Aglionby with a partial scholarship.  Adam has his fair share of family problems at home and there were times I just wanted to yank him out of there and make him listen to Gansey.

This book had me at the first page and I could not stop reading it.  It was fast paced and constantly throwing you for a loop.  I thought I had something figured out and then it would totally surprise me.  I cannot wait to read this whole series!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Book Review: Diva (Flappers #3) by Jillian Larkin

Diva (Flappers, #3)

**I received this ARC from NetGalley for review**

Synopsis (from Goodreads): Parties, bad boys, speakeasies—life in Manhattan has become a woozy blur for Clara Knowles. If Marcus Eastman truly loved her, how could he have fallen for another girl so quickly? Their romance mustn't have been as magical as Clara thought. And if she has to be unhappy, she's going to drag everyone else down to the depths of despair right along with her.

Being a Barnard girl is the stuff of Lorraine Dyer's dreams. Finding out that Marcus is marrying a gold digger who may or may not be named Anastasia? A nightmare. The old Lorraine would have sat by and let the chips fall where they may, but she's grown up a lot these past few months. She can't bear to see Marcus lose a chance for true love. But will anyone listen to her?

Now that the charges against her have been dropped, Gloria Carmody is spending the last dizzying days of summer on Long Island, yachting on the sound and palling around with socialites at Forrest Hamilton's swanky villa. Beneath her smile, though, Gloria's keeping a secret. One that could have deadly consequences . . .

My Thoughts: I know I have said this before but I love the 1920s! The flappers, the dangers of drinking and getting caught, the music and dancing...I love it all! So it was no surprise to me that I enjoyed this series. I was sad that this was the last book but it was a very enjoyable and quick read.

Gloria is out of jail but only on one condition. She needs to find how Forrest Hamilton has so much money. The FBI is sure that it is something illegal and they send Gloria in, undercover, to find out. Gloria, not knowing where Jerome is, agrees to do it in the hopes that she can keep herself and her fiance out of jail.

Once she meets Forrest, she realizes he is actually a good guy. She meets him, his shady man, Pembroke, and his other houseguests, Glamour and Glitz and Ruby and Marty. She quickly discovers that there is more between Forrest and Ruby than meets the eye. She must discover how Forrest is getting his money and get proof for the FBI, find Jerome and help Forrest and Ruby. Sounds easy right?

Meanwhile, Clara, Goria's cousin, is still heartbroken over her breakup with Marcus Eastman. This is made worse when she finds out that he has quickly found another woman and gotten engaged. She tries to put Marcus behind her and continue with her journalism career at The Manhattanite, the local rag magazine and even goes out with her boss, Parker, a few times. At a party put on by Forrest Hamilton, she is reunited (sort of) with Gloria and Lorraine Dyer. Lorraine tells Clara that the woman Marcus is marrying is a gold digging con artist and together they must expose her and stop Marcus from making the biggest mistake of his life.

Lorraine is a student at Barnard College. She is still disliked by everyone for her part in putting Gloria in jail. Her only friends are her roommate, Becky, and Melvin, the nerdy guy who has hung around her since school started. Lorraine thinks she is madly in love with Marcus Eastman and follows him through the campus of Columbia. When she discovers that he is engaged to a con artist, she seeks out Clara and together with Melvin, they attempt to expose the con. While working with Melvin, Lorraine finds out that maybe there is more to a guy than just his looks and his wallet.

I loved all the main characters in this book! They were strong, smart and funny! I liked how everything came around full circle and even though they all left each other in the first book, they all find each other again in this one. Lorraine grew up a lot in this book and I enjoyed seeing that.

The secondary characters were great too! Glamour and Glitz were flaky and all they cared about was drinking and dancing but they were fun to listen too. Pembroke was completely creepy and Forrest was very mysterious. Melvin was sweet and he put up with a lot from Lorraine but wasn't a total pushover.

I liked how this book ended the series. It was a complete happy ending, for the most part. I thought the wedding events were a little unrealistic. I mean, really? How much excitement can you have in one wedding? But it was still fun to read and it was definitely exciting!

This book comes out in July and if you have read the first two books, I highly recommend picking up this one. If you haven't read the first two books, what are you waiting for? Go read them so you can be ready when this one is released (July 10th)!