Jessica's books

The One and Only Ivan
Pollyanna
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, December 18, 2014

Book Review: The Perfect Mother by Nina Darnton


Synopsis (from Goodreads):  When an American exchange student is accused of murder, her mother will stop at nothing to save her.

A midnight phone call shatters Jennifer Lewis’s carefully orchestrated life. Her daughter, Emma, who’s studying abroad in Spain, has been arrested after the brutal murder of another student. Jennifer rushes to her side, certain the arrest is a terrible mistake and determined to do whatever is necessary to bring Emma home. But as she begins to investigate the crime, she starts to wonder whether she ever really knew her daughter. The police charge Emma, and the press leaps on the story, exaggerating every sordid detail. One by one, Emma’s defense team, her father, and finally even Jennifer begin to have doubts.
  A novel of harrowing emotional suspense, The Perfect Mother probes the dark side of parenthood and the complicated bond between mothers and daughters.
 
My Thoughts:
 
Jennifer is awoken in the middle of the night by a phone call from her oldest daughter, Emma.  Emma is attends school at Princeton but is studying in Spain for the year.  The news Jennifer gets shocks her.  Emma has been arrested in Spain for the murder of a young boy.  As Jennifer tries to sort through everything Emma is telling her and trying to free her daughter, she discovers that she doesn't truly know Emma at all.

This book is obviously loosely based on the Amanda Knox story so I was instantly interested in it.  As a mother, I found myself wondering what I would do in this situation.  I found Jennifer to be very naive when it comes to her children.  She is constantly telling Emma's lawyer and the private investigator and even her own husband that if Emma said it happened this way then that's what happened because Emma wouldn't lie.  Now, as a mom myself, I want to believe my kids are perfect.  However, I know they're not and I know that they don't always tell the truth.  I would certainly want to give my child the benefit of the doubt but Jennifer seemed to be very blinded.  

I didn't care for Jennifer's husband, Mark, either.  Mark is an American lawyer and instead of heading to Spain to be with his wife and daughter, he stays to finish up some cases.  Throughout the book, while Jennifer is in Spain the entire time, dealing with all these issues by herself, Mark constantly tells her that he has to work to pay for all the legal expenses and Jennifer's living expenses in Spain.  I do see where the expenses would be a serious issue and how he might need to stay and work and also be there for their other kids, I thought he appeared cold and not very caring.  

There were a lot of unresolved issues in this book.  First off, is Emma really telling the truth?  There is quite the twist at the end but it just left you hanging.  There are unresolved issues with Jennifer and what she ends up doing with her life now.  What happens between Jennifer and Mark (did Mark ever cheat on her?  Was he currently cheating on her?  Do they make their marriage work?) and what happens with the relationship between Jennifer and Roberto.  There are just a lot of remaining questions that I have and it annoys me (just my personal feelings here) when I don't have all the loose ends tied up.  

I enjoyed this book and it definitely showed me what kind of mother I do NOT want to be.  I really would have liked more answers at the end but the book was easy to read and had some twists the kept you interested.

**I received this book from NetGalley for an honest review**
 
 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Book Review: The Dark Witch (Cousins O'Dwyer #1) by Nora Roberts


Synopsis (from Goodreads): 
With indifferent parents, Iona Sheehan grew up craving devotion and acceptance. From her maternal grandmother, she learned where to find both: a land of lush forests, dazzling lakes, and centuries-old legends.

Ireland.

County Mayo, to be exact. Where her ancestors’ blood and magic have flowed through generations—and where her destiny awaits.

Iona arrives in Ireland with nothing but her Nan’s directions, an unfailingly optimistic attitude, and an innate talent with horses. Not far from the luxurious castle where she is spending a week, she finds her cousins, Branna and Connor O’Dwyer. And since family is family, they invite her into their home and their lives.

When Iona lands a job at the local stables, she meets the owner, Boyle McGrath. Cowboy, pirate, wild tribal horseman, he’s three of her biggest fantasy weaknesses all in one big, bold package.

Iona realizes that here she can make a home for herself—and live her life as she wants, even if that means falling head over heels for Boyle. But nothing is as it seems. An ancient evil has wound its way around Iona’s family tree and must be defeated. Family and friends will fight with each other and for each other to keep the promise of hope—and love—alive…

My Thoughts:

I have really enjoyed novels by Nora Roberts in the past.  I cannot necessarily say the same for this book.  It wasn't horrible but definitely not up to Roberts usual standards.

Iona is the main character in this story.  She is the main character however you really don't ever learn a lot about her.  Iona comes from America and is somewhere in her 20's (I think) but you don't even know how old she is.  You learn a little about her parents, how they divorced when she was young and how they really never cared or paid much attention to her.  You know she loves her Nan and that she loves horses.  That's all you really get.  Maybe that is enough for some but I wanted to know a little more about her.

Iona decides to sell all her possessions, quit her job and move to Ireland.  You might be asking why.  Well, because her Nan told her a story about a witch in Ireland and that Iona was part of that witch.  Nan told her she had cousins in Ireland and that together they needed to defeat some evil being.  That's all it took for Iona to make a drastic, life changing decision.  

Iona pops on over to Ireland, finds her cousin and introduces herself.  The cousin, Branna, accepts everything Iona says and welcomes her with open arms, as does Branna's brother, Connor.  Within two days, Iona has a job and a love interest and getting ready to move in with her cousins and starting to learn magick.  Yeah...realistic much?

Iona annoyed me SO much!  She said literally anything that popped into her mind.  Things that no normal person would ever say.  She just barely meets her cousins and their friends and she is already telling them that she finds Boyle incredibly sexy and attractive and that she is having sex dreams about him.  Did I mention she has only known these people for a week?  She talked way too much and sometimes I just wanted to smack her!  She was not a strong character for me.  

I enjoyed Branna and Meara.  I could relate to both of them a lot more than I could relate to Iona.  Branna is not nearly so optimistic and chipper and Meara says things like they are, no sugar coating anything.  The male characters, Boyle, Connor and Fin, were fine.  Boyle didn't really have a personality at all and seemed to be grumpy a lot.  

My other complaint is that you never find out the back story to any of the other characters.  Branna and Connor are related to Iona.  They live together in Ireland.  There is absolutely no mention of their parents (presumably Iona's aunt and uncle) nor does Iona ever ask about them.  You find out nothing about Boyle, where or who his family is or where he came from.  The only thing you know about Fin is that he is a distant relative to Meara.  It was very unrealistic to me.  If I moved to Ireland on a whim and met up with my cousins, I would at least try to find out a little about my aunt and uncle as well as my cousins.  From what I got out of the book, Iona had never before met these relatives so you would think she might find out a little about them.  

Iona, Branna and Connor have to fight the evil Cabhan, who wants their powers.  Cabhan was defeated years ago by the groups distant relative, Sorcha.  There are some action scenes with Cabhan but nothing overly exciting or suspenseful.  The plan at the end lacked a lot of, well, planning and was a little rushed for me.  

This book was an easy read that didn't take much thinking.  I could easily put it down to do other things and was not distracted by it in any way.  I do like the fact that it was about witches and magic and, since I already have the other two books, can only hope the series gets better.  

 
  

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

WWW Wednesdays (Nov. 19)

W... W... W... Wednesdays is a weekly meme hosted by MizB of Should be Reading. To play along, just answer the following questions.


  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you'll read next?

 What I am currently reading:

I am currently reading 206 Bones by Kathy Reichs.  I love the Bones books and need to get caught up!



 I am also reading Dark Witch (Cousins O'Dwyer Trilogy #1) by Nora Roberts.  I really enjoy her books but I wanted to wait until all three in this trilogy were out.  I hate waiting long periods of time
between books.  Now I have them all!
What I just finished reading:
I just finished Shades of Earth (Across the Universe #3) by Beth Revis.  I was anxious to find out what happened to Amy and Elder after I read the first two books but this book got shoved to the bottom of my pile.  I'm so glad I moved it up and finished the trilogy.  




What I am reading next:


I am reading The Perfect Mother by Nina Darnton.  This book sounds like it is loosely based on the Amanda Knox case, which fascinated me.  I can't wait to get into this one!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Teaser Tuesday: 206 Bones by Kathy Reichs and Dark Witch (The Cousins O'Dwyer #1) by Nora Roberts

TeaserTuesdays2014e
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!

 My teasers this week come from 206 Bones by Kathy Reichs and Dark Witch (The Cousins O'Dwyer #1) by Nora Roberts.

206 Bones (Temperance Brennan, #12)Sounds fill the stillness.  The clink of my pirated tools.  The tick of mortar falling on brick.  The wheeze of air in and out of my mouth.

I was sweat-soaked and panting when the door finally popped free and dropped with a clunk.

I inched to the edge and peered out. 

~page 197 of 206 Bones by Kathy Reichs 


Dark Witch (The Cousins O'Dwyer Trilogy, #1) 


Iona woke trembling.  Her right hand throbbing with pain, she groped for the  light with her left.  In its flash she saw the raw gashes, the run of blood.  On a shocked cry, she scrambled up, dashed toward the bath, snatching a towel as she lurched toward the sink.
~page 52 (on my Nook) of Dark Witch (The Cousins O'Dwyer Trilogy #10 by Nora Roberts 

Giveaway Winners!

Congratulations to Susan K. and Tabitha W.!  They each won a copy of Gillian Anderson's A Vision of Fire from my giveaway.  Susan and Tabitha, I have emailed you guys with the information I need.  You have 48 hours to email me the information so I can pass it on to Simon & Schuster.  Simon & Schuster will then send you your copies of the book via UPS. 

Thank you all for entering my giveaway!  Stay tuned for another giveaway soon!



Book Review: Devil Bones by Kathy Reichs

Devil Bones (Temperance Brennan, #11) 

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Following her most successful book to date, Kathy Reichs -- international number one bestselling author, forensic anthropologist, and producer of the Fox television hit "Bones" -- returns to Charlotte, North Carolina, where Temperance Brennan encounters a deadly mix of voodoo, Santeria, and devil worship in her quest to identify two young victims.In a house under renovation, a plumber uncovers a cellar no one knew about, and makes a rather grisly discovery -- a decapitated chicken, animal bones, and cauldrons containing beads, feathers, and other relics of religious ceremonies. In the center of the shrine, there is the skull of a teenage girl. Meanwhile, on a nearby lakeshore, the headless body of a teenage boy is found by a man walking his dog.

Nothing is clear -- neither when the deaths occurred, nor where. Was the skull brought to the cellar or was the girl murdered there? Why is the boy's body remarkably well preserved? Led by a preacher turned politician, citizen vigilantes blame devil worshippers and Wiccans. They begin a witch hunt, intent on seeking revenge.

Forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan -- "five-five, feisty, and forty-plus" -- is called in to investigate, and a complex and gripping tale unfolds in this, Kathy Reichs's eleventh taut, always surprising, scientifically fascinating mystery.

My Thoughts:
I have to admit that I am very interested in Voodoo and witchcraft.  I don't believe in it but I find it fascinating.  So I was very excited to start this book.  I was so involved in this one (which was not the case with the last "Bones" book, even though it was good) and finished it within two days because I could not put it down.

Tempe gets called to investigate the findings an underground chamber of an old home.  She finds a cauldron, chicken bones and a human skull.  While Tempe is investigating the findings, a body is found with an inverted pentagram carved into the chest.  From there, Tempe and two other detectives are thrown in to learning about Voodoo, Wicca and Santeria.  They are also faced with an Evangelical preacher/politician that is creating fear in the people with talks of satanism.  Top that with Tempe's always confusing relationship with Ryan and now another man and Tempe has herself some problems that spiral out of control.  

There is a lot of forensic science talk and some of that always goes over my head.  I honestly don't think that the author needs to describe every little procedure in complete detail, mostly because those of us who have not studied forensic science will not understand it all.  So that part is a little slow and dry for me but I love the mystery, Tempe's snarky attitude and meeting the new characters.  I found this book to be much more fast paced than Ms. Reich's last book and for the most part, I enjoyed every bit of it.  


Friday, November 14, 2014

Book Review: Shades of Earth (Across the Universe #3) by Beth Revis


Synopsis (from Goodreads):  
Amy and Elder have finally left the oppressive walls of the spaceship Godspeed behind. They're ready to start life afresh--to build a home--on Centauri-Earth, the planet that Amy has traveled 25 trillion miles across the universe to experience.

But this new Earth isn't the paradise Amy had been hoping for. There are giant pterodactyl-like birds, purple flowers with mind-numbing toxins, and mysterious, unexplained ruins that hold more secrets than their stone walls first let on. The biggest secret of all? Godspeed's former passengers aren't alone on this planet. And if they're going to stay, they'll have to fight.

Amy and Elder must race to discover who--or what--else is out there if they are to have any hope of saving their struggling colony and building a future together. They will have to look inward to the very core of what makes them human on this, their most harrowing journey yet. Because if the colony collapses? Then everything they have sacrificed--friends, family, life on Earth--will have been for nothing.

My Thoughts:
It has been awhile since I read the first two books in this series so I was a little worried that I wasn't going to remember how they left off or all the characters.  As soon as I started reading, though, everything came back to me and I was instantly caught up in the story.

Shades of Earth begins with Amy and Elder and about 1500 of the people from Godspeed in the shuttle getting ready to land on Centauri-Earth.  Everyone is worried about what they will find on this new planet and if they will even be able to live there at all.  But first, Amy and Elder have to actually land the shuttle safely, which turns out to be more difficult than they thought.

After landing, all chaos ensues.  People are hurt and some are even dead, the Frozen are waking up and there are monsters outside the shuttle on a planet that no one has ever been on.  As Elder tries to maintain some control, Amy is excited to finally be able to see her parents again.  

As soon as Amy's dad and the rest of the military wake up, there is a fight for control.  The shipborns do not trust the military at all and the earthborns think the shipborns are strange and different and they don't really trust them either.  Amy's dad starts leading the people off the ship but the people soon find out that they are fighting against the unknowns of a new planet as well as monsters that they aren't able to see.  

I liked Elder a lot but sometimes he got really annoying and showed that he was really more of a child than a leader.  He demanded to be in control of his people but then he never really took any control.  Amy couldn't decide if she was going to stand behind Elder or stick with her parents.  She would think Elder was right in something but her father would disagree and instead of standing up for herself or Elder, Amy would just meekly follow her father.  I would get so frustrated with Amy and that disappointed me.

I am so glad that the people finally got off Godspeed and were on a planet with real air, sky and trees but there wasn't a lot of exploration of the planet.  The colony went from the ship, through the forest to the ruins where they stayed.  There was a lake and the compound and that was all.  I would have really liked to have seen more of the planet explored but with the ptero monsters out there,  I guess it wouldn't make sense for the people to go off exploring.  

I knew who the traitor was right away.  There are subtle clues throughout the book that I was able to pick up on.  I wasn't sure what the whole twist in the story was though, so it didn't detract in any way.  Once the twist was revealed, I actually felt sorry for the traitor.  I could totally understand what happened.  

I seriously could not put this book down!  It helped that we had our first snow of the year (which means everything shuts down here even though we get snow every year) so I was able to spend the days reading while my kids played.  This book was action packed and so full of questions that you couldn't stop reading until you got the answers.  


Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Friday 56 (Nov. 14, 2014)

The Friday 56 is hosted by Freda's Voice

Rules:
*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader
(If you have to improvise, that's ok.)
 *Find any sentence, (or few, just don't spoil it) that grab you.
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post below in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url. It's that simple.




For one second Maanik's eyes rolled to meet hers and Caitlin felt raw horror wash down her spine.  She had seen young people trapped in terrible circumstances - held hostage by a parent, pinned by a landslide -  but here she felt as if she were looking at someone who had wakened in a coffin and found herself buried alive.  The girl took an uncertain step and her eyes rolled to the ceiling.  She was still trying to scream.
 *This book was so fascinating!  Enter my giveaway to win it HERE. 



Noise swells from the cryo room, interrupting my dark thoughts.  At first I think it's just the natural volume of fifteen hundred people cramped together in one giant room, but then a voice screams in fury over the sound of all the others.
 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

W...W...W...Wednesdays

W... W... W... Wednesdays is a weekly meme hosted by MizB of Should be Reading. To play along, just answer the following questions.


  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you'll read next? 
What I'm currently reading: 
I am currently reading Shades of Earth by Beth Revis.  It is the last book in the Across the Universe trilogy.  I read the first two awhile ago and then got so behind on my TBR pile.  I'm excited to see how this series ends.



What I recently finished:

I just finished A Vision of Fire by Gillian Anderson with Jeff Rovin.  I loved the X-Files when I was a kid and wanted to be Scully so I was really excited to read this one.  I could not put this book down.  It was so fascinating!  If you are interested in it, enter to win my giveaway for it HERE.





What I plan to read next:
 I love Nora Roberts paranormal stories (well...I guess I love any of her books).  This is the first in her Cousins O'Dwyer trilogy.  I wanted to wait until all three books were out so I didn't have to wait a long time for the next book to be published.






So, what are you reading right now? 

Giveaway Time! Win A Vison of Fire (Earthend Saga) by Gillian Anderson with Jeff Rovin

I am giving away two copies of A Vision of Fire (Earthend Saga) by Gillian Anderson with Jeff Rovin. 

The first novel from iconic X-Files star Gillian Anderson and New York Times bestselling author Jeff Rovin: a science fiction thriller of epic proportions.

Renowned child psychologist Caitlin O’Hara is a single mom trying to juggle her job, her son, and a lackluster dating life. Her world is suddenly upturned when Maanik, the daughter of India’s ambassador to the United Nations, starts speaking in tongues and having violent visions. Caitlin is sure that her fits have something to do with the recent assassination attempt on her father—a shooting that has escalated nuclear tensions between India and Pakistan to dangerous levels—but when teenagers around the world start having similar outbursts, Caitlin begins to think that there’s a more sinister force at work.

In Haiti, a student claws at her throat, drowning on dry land. In Iran, a boy suddenly and inexplicably sets himself on fire. Animals, too, are acting irrationally, from rats in New York City to birds in South America to ordinary house pets. With Asia on the cusp of nuclear war, Caitlin must race across the globe to uncover the mystical links among these seemingly unrelated incidents in order to save her patient—and perhaps the world.

To enter to win this book, go to my giveaway HERE.   Right now, the giveaway has very low entries (only 2) so your chances of winner are pretty good!  The giveaway ends on Sunday night so get your entries in.  This was a great book full of mystery and suspense.  I don't usually read science fiction but found this story to be fascinating!  So hurry, go enter for a chance to win a free book!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Book Review: Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

Nineteen Minutes 

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Jodi Picoult, bestselling author of My Sister's Keeper and The Tenth Circle, pens her most riveting book yet, with a startling and poignant story about the devastating aftermath of a small-town tragedy.

Sterling is an ordinary New Hampshire town where nothing ever happens--until the day its complacency is shattered by an act of violence. Josie Cormier, the daughter of the judge sitting on the case, should be the state's best witness, but she can't remember what happened before her very own eyes--or can she? As the trial progresses, fault lines between the high school and the adult community begin to show--destroying the closest of friendships and families.

Nineteen Minutes asks what it means to be different in our society, who has the right to judge someone else, and whether anyone is ever really who they seem to be.

My Thoughts:
I have only read two other Jodi Picoult books (Salem Falls and My Sister's Keeper).  I liked both books but they weren't books that made me want to read everything she ever wrote.  I happened to pick this book up from our Little Free Library (a community box of books that you can swap).  I could not put this book down because I had to find out what really happened. 

Peter Houghton is the boy that everyone picks on in school.  He has been teased and bullied mercilessly since the first day of Kindergarten.  The book begins with him entering his high school and shooting students and staff.  From there, you begin to get an insight into who Peter was and why he did what he did.  Is bullying ever an excuse to murder?  Absolutely not!  However, with that being said, I can honestly say that this book made me THINK.  It made me think about how awful high school can be for some kids.  How judgmental the kids there can be and how kids so desperately want to just fit in.  It was heartbreaking to me, as a mother of two boys and one girl,  to read what Peter went through on a daily basis.  

I enjoyed how we saw the story through Peter's eyes as well as Josie's, the parents of Peter and the mother of Josie, the defense attorney and the detective.  I think that it helped to understand everything that happened and not just that Peter was bullied.  I felt like I really got to know the characters as well as their history in this book.

I did not like Josie one bit.  She was friends with Peter up to a point and didn't care what others thought of her.  Then she gets popular and she just turns into a horrible person, in my opinion.  She knows that the things her boyfriend and his friends are doing to Peter are wrong on so many levels and yet she won't do anything at all about it because she is so scared of losing her popularity.   She stays with a boy who abuses her because he is one of the most popular boys in school.  Then there is the twist at the end that I can't tell you but that clinched it for me.  I did not like her.

This book hit me emotionally on many levels.  There has recently been a school shooting at a school in my state (Marysville-Pilchuck High School) and I immediately thought of this book and the emotions I felt while reading it.  It's so heartbreaking on so many different levels and for every single person involved.  I think this book made me open my eyes a little and look at things in a slightly different way.  Before I would always just say what a sick individual it was that shot up a school (and I still think that...because anyone who would do that has serious mental health issues and it is not excusable for any reason) but now I think a little more about the shooter and why he or she would do it.  Again, not saying that it is acceptable for any reason but it makes you really wonder what went on behind the scenes.  It makes you THINK and I believe that that makes the book worth reading.






 

Teaser Tuesday (Nov. 11): A Vision of Fire by Gillian Anderson with Jeff Rovin & Shades of Earth by Beth Revis


TeaserTuesdays2014e
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!

     "Even as Maanik began to breathe somewhat normally, Caitlin was still on high alert.  She was afraid to look around, to give credence to something she was feeling:  that something had come back with the girl." ~page 188 of A Vision of Fire by Gillian Anderson (check out my giveaway for this book here)


    






     "Something - a rocket failing? a computer malfunction? -  knocks the shuttle off course again.  I can see features of the planet's surface now:  mountains and lakes and cliffs.
     And we're going to crash into them.  ~page 16 of Shades of Earth by Beth Revis




What are you reading today? 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Book Review & Giveaway: A Vision of Fire (Earthend Saga) by Gillian Anderson & Jeff Rovin

A Vision of Fire (Earthend Saga #1) 

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
The first novel from iconic X-Files star Gillian Anderson and New York Times bestselling author Jeff Rovin: a science fiction thriller of epic proportions.

Renowned child psychologist Caitlin O’Hara is a single mom trying to juggle her job, her son, and a lackluster dating life. Her world is suddenly upturned when Maanik, the daughter of India’s ambassador to the United Nations, starts speaking in tongues and having violent visions. Caitlin is sure that her fits have something to do with the recent assassination attempt on her father—a shooting that has escalated nuclear tensions between India and Pakistan to dangerous levels—but when teenagers around the world start having similar outbursts, Caitlin begins to think that there’s a more sinister force at work.

In Haiti, a student claws at her throat, drowning on dry land. In Iran, a boy suddenly and inexplicably sets himself on fire. Animals, too, are acting irrationally, from rats in New York City to birds in South America to ordinary house pets. With Asia on the cusp of nuclear war, Caitlin must race across the globe to uncover the mystical links among these seemingly unrelated incidents in order to save her patient—and perhaps the world.

My Thoughts:
I have to admit that I was a little apprehensive when I was asked to review this book.  I mean, I loved the X-Files when I was growing up so I certainly knew who Gillian Anderson was but I am not a huge science fiction fan.  However, I found this book to be more of a thriller than science fiction.  I was happy to find out that not only did I enjoy this book but I really didn't want to put it down.

The book starts off with Maanik, a young girl who's father is the Indian Ambassador to the United Nations.  Maanik and her father experience a harrowing event and, although Maanik is shaken up, she appears to be fine.  That is, she if fine until she ends up in strange fits in the middle of her class.  She is scratching herself, talking in tongues and not responding to her parents.  Ben, who works with Maanik's father as a translator at the UN, calls in Caitlin to help.  Caitlin is a psychiatrist but even she has not seen anything quite like this.  

Caitlin travels from Haiti to Iraq, talking to other people who have experienced the same kind of episodes.  She meets and receives (some) answers from a High Priestess and a Hindu Priest.  As Caitlin and Ben dig deeper, the discover that Maanik and the other two people are experiencing something from another time and place.  

This book completely surprised me by gripping me at page one and keeping me wanting more until the very end.  I was caught up in the tensions between Pakistan and India and stress that Maanik's father, as well as Ben, were dealing with and the helplessness of Maanik's mother and even Caitlin at points.  The mystery surrounding Maanik's "episodes" kept me reading to try to figure out what was going on with her.  Now I am anxiously looking forward to reading the next book in the Earthend Saga!

 Now for the fun part...If you would like to win a copy of this book, please fill out the rafflecopter below.  A winner will be chosen on Saturday, November 15, 2014 and Simon & Schuster will send a copy straight to the winner.

A huge thank you to Simon & Schuster for allowing me to review this book in exchange for an honest review! If you want to join Simon & Schuster Insiders, where you can share your love of books, get special access to new books and earn rewards, sign up HERE.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
#simoninsiders: I'm required to disclose a relationship between my blog and Simon & Schuster. This could include Simon & Schuster providing me with content, books, access or other forms of payment.
Vision of Fire on Simon & Schuster's Website

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Book Review: The One (Selection #3) by Kiera Cass

The One (The Selection, #3) 

Synopsis (from Goodreads):   The Selection changed America Singer's life in ways she never could have imagined. Since she entered the competition to become the next princess of IllĂ©a, America has struggled with her feelings for her first love, Aspen—and her growing attraction to Prince Maxon. Now she's made her choice . . . and she's prepared to fight for the future she wants.

Find out who America will choose in The One, the enchanting, beautifully romantic third book in the Selection series!


My Thoughts:  I've loved this series since book one and I wasn't disappointed with The One.  I am very happy with the way it ended and I'm happy with the choice that America made.  

America finally grew up and dealt with things with a little more maturity.  She doesn't spend her time whining about how unfair things are and she finally makes a decision as to what she wants and decides to fight for that choice.  

I am glad that America was able to put aside her bad feelings for Celeste and they started to become somewhat friends.  It was refreshing to see Celeste as a decent human being instead of the horrible one that she was in the first two books.  She still has issues but at least she is tolerable now.

I do think that America could have handled her relationship with Aspen so much better, especially when it came to telling Maxon about him.  There were many opportunities when she could have spoken to Maxon about the relationship and America was never brave enough to do it.  In the end, it (of course) causes a lot of unnecessary heartache.  

I thought there was a good amount of action in the book and I liked how America tied all the pieces together about who was involved with the Northern Rebels and how the Northern Rebels were so different from the Southern Rebels.  I enjoyed the new characters that were from the Northern Rebel gang.

I thought the book ended on the right note.  America gets to fight for her man (whether she gets him or not is another question) and the trouble with the Rebel groups keeps things interesting and action packed.  If you have enjoyed the other two books in the series, I think you will be happy with this one as well.


Book Review: The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls by Clair Legrand





Synopsis (from Goodreads):  Victoria hates nonsense. There is no need for it when your life is perfect. The only smudge on her pristine life is her best friend Lawrence. He is a disaster—lazy and dreamy, shirt always untucked, obsessed with his silly piano. Victoria often wonders why she ever bothered being his friend. (Lawrence does too.)

But then Lawrence goes missing. And he’s not the only one. Victoria soon discovers that The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls is not what it appears to be. Kids go in but come out…different. Or they don’t come out at all.

If anyone can sort this out, it’s Victoria—even if it means getting a little messy
.

My Thoughts:  This book is the perfect book to read before Halloween!  It is a creepy book that is guaranteed to give you the shivers! 

Victoria is the perfect child.  She is obedient and very smart and ambitious.  She doesn't put up with silliness at all and because of this, Victoria really has no friends.  Victoria decides to become friends with Lawrence to "fix" him.  She doesn't realize that she is actually coming to care for Lawrence until the day Lawrence disappears.  

As Victoria tries to find out what happened to Lawrence and some of the other kids that have mysteriously disappeared from  her school, she starts to discover the mysteries of the Cavendish House for Boys and Girls.  The House is at the end of the road and although it is an orphanage, no one ever sees the children out and about.   Now Victoria has to figure out how to save Lawrence and the other children.

This book had me hooked from the very first page.  I could relate a lot to Victoria as I have the same personality (although not quite to her level).  I loved the creepy old house with its mistress and her gardner and all her creepy puppets and birds.  

Mrs.Cavendish was perfectly creepy and her house was so mysterious.  It took me a long time to figure out if her house was helping Mrs. Cavendish or helping the children.  The beetles were a great touch and the little goblin creatures were horrifying.  

If you enjoy spooky books you will honestly love this one.  The book's ending will have you wanting to find out more and leaves you with a slightly unsettled feeling.





Saturday, July 12, 2014

Book Review: Ruin and Rising (The Grisha #3) by Leigh Bardugo


Synopsis (from Goodreads):  The capital has fallen.

The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne.

Now the nation's fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army.

Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives.

Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova's amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling's secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction—and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for.

My Thoughts:  I picked up this series at the beginning of this year.  I am so glad I waited because, to be honest, I don't think I could have waited for the other books to come out.  I am so sad this is the last book in what has quickly become one of my favorite series (trilogies).

Just a warning...this review will most likely have spoilers for this series so if you haven't read the books then don't read this review yet...

Alina is recovering from her showdown with the Darkling.  She is under the very watchful eye of the Apparat in the White Chapel.  She has people worshiping the ground she walked on.  She is the Sun Summoner.  She has a lot at stake however as the Darkling is still stalking her.  She knows she has to find the last amplifier and do her best to ruin the Darkling.

I loved all the characters in this trilogy.  Alina is strong despite having to deal with three men who all want her (although for different reasons).  Mal has finally overcome his jealousy and has come to terms with the fact that he and Alina have no future together.  I am still a major fan of the Darkling too though.  He is just one of those characters that you love and hate at the same time.  He did some things that made me truly want him dead (Nicolai, Keramzin) but I still wanted a somewhat happy ending for him.  Nicolai is still funny and I was very upset with what happened to him.  Zoya was my least favorite character in the first two books as she was obnoxious but she grows in this book and while she can still be obnoxious, she is also funny and loyal.

I absolutely was thrilled that we finally got the whole story behind the Darkling and more importantly, Baghra's story.  It was fascinating to learn about them both and also about Morozova and how they all tied in with Alina and Mal.  

I loved the ending...and I've read a lot of reviews where people hated the way it ended but I thought it was perfect.  It was heartbreaking but so perfect. I loved what happened when Alina wore all three amplifiers.  It was completely unexpected.  

This book takes off from page one and is full of excitement.  You come to love all the characters and you can't help but feeling at least a little bit sorry for the Darkling.  Although I am sad to see this trilogy end, I am happy to say that I thought it ended well!



 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Book Review: Don't Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Don't Look Back 

Synopsis (from Goodreads):  Samantha is a stranger in her own life. Until the night she disappeared with her best friend, Cassie, everyone said Sam had it all-popularity, wealth, and a dream boyfriend.

Sam has resurfaced, but she has no recollection of who she was or what happened to her that night. As she tries to piece together her life from before, she realizes it's one she no longer wants any part of. The old Sam took "mean girl" to a whole new level, and it's clear she and Cassie were more like best enemies. Sam is pretty sure that losing her memories is like winning the lottery. She's getting a second chance at being a better daughter, sister, and friend, and she's falling hard for Carson Ortiz, a boy who has always looked out for her-even if the old Sam treated him like trash.

But Cassie is still missing, and the facts about what happened to her that night isn't just buried deep inside of Sam's memory-someone else knows, someone who wants to make sure Sam stays quiet. All Sam wants is the truth, and if she can unlock her clouded memories of that fateful night, she can finally move on. But what if not remembering is the only thing keeping Sam alive?

My Thoughts:  If you have read my blog before, you know that I love JLA and her books.  Her Half-Blood series is probably my favorite series ever and her Lux series comes in a close second so I was excited to pick up this book.  I wasn't disappointed in it but it wasn't one of favorites, I am sad to say.  

This books starts out with Sam walking around barefoot in her town with no idea what has happened to her or where she has been.  She's taken to the hospital where they call her family and tell them she has amnesia and doesn't remember a single thing from the past.  She also finds out that her best friend, Cassie, was with her and is still missing.  Sam wants to remember to help the police find Cassie, even though she doesn't remember Cassie at all and has no feelings towards her at all. 

Upon arriving home, Sam realizes that her family is extremely wealthy.  After talking to her brother and meeting her friends and boyfriends, Sam discovers that she was a complete bitch.  She was mean, shallow, had no respect for herself or others and cared entirely too much about image.  Now though, Sam is a completely different person.  She doesn't seem to care so much about money, doesn't care about image and really, she doesn't like her friends or boyfriend at all anymore.   

I could not connect with Sam at all.  She was a little bit naive and way too trusting for my liking.  I would be completely on guard and not trusting anyone if I had no memories.  Her boyfriend, Del, lied to her the entire time about their relationship and she only questioned it a few times.  Del was creepy and a jerk and way too pushy.  Sam's "friends" were your typical "Mean Girl" type friends.  They would back stab each other in a New York minute without a single thought (as you find out later with Cassie) but this is typical of high school (in my opinion).  

I figured out the whole mystery in this one about halfway through the book.  I knew who did it just because of their attitude through the whole book and it wasn't long before I had a sneaking suspicion as to why this person did what they did so that was kinda a letdown for me.  I like a mystery that keeps me wondering until the end.  

I also didn't feel the story was very suspenseful. The notes weren't very scary and the "shadow man" never really did anything to make it scary.  In the end, all this is explained and you see why it is important but it still didn't do it for me in thrill factor department.

However, all that being said, this was still a fast read that kept my attention for the most part.  I enjoyed the amnesia factor and the romance, while a little typical, was sweet.  I got sucked into the book and despite the fact that I had it figured out, I still wanted to find out if Sam stayed "sweet Sam" or went back to "evil Sam".  It's definitely worth a read...it just wasn't one of my favorites.


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Book Review: Bones to Ashes by Kathy Reichs

Bones to Ashes (Temperance Brennan, #10) 

Synopsis (from Goodreads):  Temperance Brennan, like her creator Kathy Reichs, is a brilliant, sexy forensic anthropologist called on to solve the toughest cases. But for Tempe, the discovery of a young girl's skeleton in Acadia, Canada, is more than just another assignment. Evangeline, Tempe's childhood best friend, was also from Acadia. Named for the character in the Longfellow poem, Evangeline was the most exotic person in Tempe's eight-year-old world. When Evangeline disappeared, Tempe was warned not to search for her, that the girl was "dangerous."Thirty years later, flooded with memories, Tempe cannot help wondering if this skeleton could be the friend she lost so many years ago. And what is the meaning of the strange skeletal lesions found on the bones of the young girl?

Meanwhile, Tempe's beau, Ryan, investigates a series of cold cases. Three girls dead. Four missing. Could the New Brunswick skeleton be part of the pattern? As Tempe draws on the latest advances in forensic anthropology to penetrate the past, Ryan hunts down a serial predator.

My Thoughts: I have enjoyed all of Kathy Reichs "Bones" books and this one is no exception.  I can always count on these books if I am in a reading slump.

This book starts out with some of Tempe's childhood history.  You learn a little about Tempe's family, the death of her brother and father and her good friend, Evangeline.  Tempe hasn't really thought of Evangeline in awhile.  Evangeline disappeared with her sister when Tempe was young.  When a detective brings Tempe a skeleton of a young girl, Tempe wonders if it might be Evangeline's (there are some clues that lead her to think of Evangeline).  

In the meantime, Tempe is also helping Ryan with some missing girls/dead girls cases.  This part of the book was very disturbing to me, in particular, one somewhat graphic scene, that I had to actually just skim past.  I have an 8-year daughter so that part was tough for me to read.  Somehow, Ryan's case ties into Tempe's friend's case and through that, Tempe is able to find out what has happened to Evangeline and her sister.  

This book was very fast paced and kept me on my toes.  This book dealt with Leprosy, which was interesting to me to read about since I knew very little about it.  It seems a little strange to me that the family (who has money) would not seek medical care but I also know people who are very wary about hospitals and the government in general so I can see it happening.

If you like Kathy Reich's books, you won't be disappointed in this one.

 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Book Review: Origins (Lux #4) by Jennifer L. Armentrout






Synopsis (from Goodreads):  Daemon will do anything to get Katy back.

After the successful but disastrous raid on Mount Weather, he’s facing the impossible. Katy is gone. Taken. Everything becomes about finding her. Taking out anyone who stands in his way? Done. Burning down the whole world to save her? Gladly. Exposing his alien race to the world? With pleasure.

All Katy can do is survive.

Surrounded by enemies, the only way she can come out of this is to adapt. After all, there are sides of Daedalus that don’t seem entirely crazy, but the group’s goals are frightening and the truths they speak even more disturbing. Who are the real bad guys? Daedalus? Mankind? Or the Luxen?

Together, they can face anything.

But the most dangerous foe has been there all along, and when the truths are exposed and the lies come crumbling down, which side will Daemon and Katy be standing on?

And will they even be together?

My Thoughts:  

If you haven't read this series then don't read this review.  It has some spoilers in it from the last book that you just don't want to know about yet.  
So, after the rescue mission for Beth went horribly wrong, Katy is now in the hands of Daedalus and Daemon is livid!  The book begins with Daemon's point of view which was awesome.  Daemon has decided that nothing will stop him from rescuing Katy.  After knowing what they did to Dawson and Beth, can you blame him for that?

While Daemon is in the process of his rescue mission, we switch to Katy's point of view.  Katy is being held at Daedalus and is not having a pleasant time.  There are things that happen that make cheer though (sorry...no spoilers for this book) but I wasn't quite sure why Katy felt the need to hide what she did from Daemon.  

Things start out in this book with a bang and they don't stop.  The whole book is a roller coaster ride of emotions and so much action.  I loved the fact that it had alternating POVs (Katy's and Daemon's).  Katy and Daemon's relationship grows in many ways in this book.  They have been through so much together and I loved the spontaneous moves they made.  

There are some serious surprises in this book as well.  I could not believe what happened with Matthew but figured out what was going on with Beth and Dawson almost right away.  I really enjoyed getting to know Archer and Luc better and I hope that Dee gets some much needed romance in the next book.

The end of the book isn't as much of a cliff hanger as Opal but it leaves you with only about a million questions.  My goal was to space out the reading of this series so that Opposition was out by the time I finished Origins but once I started, I couldn't stop.  So now I have to wait.  I have a feeling it will definitely be worth the wait though!




Saturday, May 24, 2014

Book Review: Opal (Lux #3) by Jennifer L. Armentrout


Synopsis (from Goodreads):  No one is like Daemon Black.

When he set out to prove his feelings for me, he wasn’t fooling around. Doubting him isn’t something I’ll do again, and now that we’ve made it through the rough patches, well... There’s a lot of spontaneous combustion going on.

But even he can’t protect his family from the danger of trying to free those they love.

After everything, I’m no longer the same Katy. I’m different... And I’m not sure what that will mean in the end. When each step we take in discovering the truth puts us in the path of the secret organization responsible for torturing and testing hybrids, the more I realize there is no end to what I’m capable of. The death of someone close still lingers, help comes from the most unlikely source, and friends will become the deadliest of enemies, but we won’t turn back. Even if the outcome will shatter our worlds forever.

Together we’re stronger... and they know it.

My Thoughts:  I finished this book last month but we are wrapping up school and have some house stuff going on (a kitchen remodel) so I'm slacking here.  
My first word of advice for this book is to have the next book, Origin, ready to read because the cliff hanger on this one is crazy!  My heart broke when I read the end of this one so I was happy that I could immediately jump into the next book.

Katy and Daemon are finally together and admitting their feelings for each other without any hesitation.  With that being said, I have to tell you, I miss the romantic tension there.  It's not quite as fun to read about them because you aren't waiting on edge for the romance to happen anymore.  Daemon is still funny and sarcastic though and I love him for that.  Katy still makes some dumb choices but hey, we are all human right?  Well, I guess maybe not in this case but you know what I mean!

Blake is a jerk.  I can't stand him but honestly, there are times when I actually feel a little sorry for him.  I am still not really sure what his part is in this whole story but he's still hiding a lot (which becomes painfully obvious at the end).  I think he really does miss Katy as a friend though and I think he did really like her but I cannot bring myself to like his character at all.

When it comes to Katy and Dee's friendship, you can't help but feel for both of them.  Katy made some seriously bad choices in the last book so I can understand why Dee is so angry at her.  But at the same time, it wasn't ALL Katy's fault.  I really want Katy and Dee to repair this friendship but I'm not sure how that's going to turn out.  

This was not my favorite book in this series.  I felt that out of the three that I have read, there wasn't really a lot of action until the end.  Dawson is back and they are trying to find a way to save Beth but it wasn't all that exciting.  Don't get me wrong, it was still a good book but it wasn't an "I cannot put this book down" kind of book like the first two were.  

If you haven't picked up this series yet, I really recommend that you do.  Even though this book wasn't my favorite, the ending made up for a lot of it.