I hate spending time reading about the plot of a book on review sites - just tell me, Did you like it or not?

Monday, December 30, 2013

The Bride Wore Size 12

The Bride Wore Size 12 (Heather Wells Mysteries #5)

392 pages
Published Sept. 24, 2013 by William Morrow Paperbacks 
Another light, fluffy, formulaic murder mystery by Meg Cabot. Not the best book Cabot has written, but entertaining enough. Heather Wells is an endearing character, with cleverness and wittiness in spades.
There is some swearing and some glossed-over sex. I probably wouldn't let my mom read it.

P.S. Just FYI, we just had an magnitude 5.2 earthquake over here in Italy - and we sure felt it! It was my first earthquake - but we all are OK and nothing collapsed. Yay!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Siege and Storm

Siege and Storm (The Grisha #2)


Published June 4, 2013 by Henry Holt and Co.

After reading the first in this trilogy, Shadow and Bone, I couldn't wait to read this one.

I actually tried to read another book before reading this one (a light Meg Cabot book) - but I got too antsy. I had to know what was going to happen next in the lives of Alina and Mal! When that happens, I know that what I'm reading is good - the words are reaching out and grabbing me by the wrist and forcing me to sit down and read.

And luckily, No. 2 in the Grisha trilogy delivers. It's such a relief when you read a sequel and it's just as good (if not better) than the first.

We continue to see growth in all the characters. We follow the struggles to free Alina's world from evil. And just to make things more interesting - the love story hits some snags.

Little to no swearing and no sex.

Can't wait til the last book comes out. It's already on my To Read list.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Shadow and Bone

Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1)


4 stars

358 pages
Published June 5, 2012 by Henry Holt and Co.

Happy, happy day! This fantasy is right up my alley. Part coming-of-age story, part love story and part magical power story.

This is a story about a girl who discovers her inborn powers and her struggle to learn to use them - and not be used by others. She also loses her innocence and naivete by trusting the wrong people.

I was intrigued by the premise and held captive by the plot. I read this book quickly - much to the dismay and neglect of my family.

Pick this up. It's fantastic. No swearing and no sex. Yay!

Saturday, December 21, 2013


Steelheart (Reckoners #1)

4.5 stars

386 pages
Published Sept. 24, 2013 by Delacorte Press 

I admit, I love superhero movies - but not books about superheroes. They're just so cheesy. I've tried.

BUT ...

I loved, loved this superhero book! It's a totally new take on superheroes ... they're EVIL! And regular people have to figure out their weaknesses and take them down so protect all the other regular people.

The first part of the book is pretty disturbing and violent. Actually the whole book is filled with fighting and violence and death, so I won't be letting my 10-year-old read it for a couple years. But as an adult - and maybe I'm desensitized - I could overlook it a bit and focus on the plot and the struggle for freedom from tyranny and fear.

The writing was fantastic and in places, quite witty. There was little to no swearing and no sex. Just a thrill ride from start to finish.

Based on this book, I'm going to find other books by Brandon Sanderson. And I will definitely be reading the next in line in this series.

Well done, Brandon!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Deep Blue Secret


4 stars
370 pages
Published July 29, 2011 
This is another teen love story, with elements of the paranormal sprinkled within. It has a good plot, good character development and a decent “obstacle to love” – every good love story has one. This one is the ol’ “boy protector shouldn’t fall in love with protectee,” but of course it happens, and he feels all sorts of guilt and angst about it. Girl needs boy and is annoyed at his sense of duty and reluctance to just let go.
Sounds cheesy, but it somehow works.

Christie Anderson knows how to write a angsty love story and get the reader to really root for the relationship.

I have to admit that the girl is a bit whiny – and the boy a bit too righteous, but like I said before, it works.

I also enjoyed the icky bad guy. I wish there were more of him – though I think that he will be in the next book quite a bit.

Can’t wait to find out, because I will be reading the second book!

Thank you to Mark My Words Publicity for providing this book for review.

Monday, December 16, 2013

A World Without Heroes

A World Without Heroes (Beyonders #1)

Published Mar. 15, 2011 by Aladdin (first published Mar. 1, 2011)
For a juvenile fiction book, this one is fantastic. My 10-year-old was recommended this book by her friend, and she LOVED it! It's got action, adventure, a quest, puzzles, some gross stuff - all things that my kid loves. I also enjoyed it.

She's now well into the second one.

Let me just tell you, it warms my heart to see my kid reading a nice, fat book.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Actor and the Housewife

The Actor and the Housewife


Published June 9, 2009 by Bloomsbury USA (first published Jan. 1, 2009)

Sometimes YA authors should stick to their genre. (Kathy Reichs, I'm not talking about you! I adore your YA books!)

Here, Shannon Hale, author of the popular Princess Academy books and Books of Bayern series dives into adult fiction. It's not a happy dip.

I've read 8 out of Hale's 10 published books, and there is an obvious trend - her YA books outshine her adult fiction books. So be warned.

The book starts out as every housewife's dream: meeting and having dinner with their movie star "crush." But from there, it just kind of got unbelievable - the two becoming best friends and all. That NEVER happens.

But what really bugged me is that Hale uses cancer to force some emotion into the book. Not cool.

Plus, her dialogue and repartee seemed just a bit too clever for its own good. Who talks like that? Who can come up with one-liners like that on the spot? It got old after a while.

Another thing, if you're not Mormon who has spent any time in Utah, you will not get half of the jokes.

Monday, December 9, 2013


I've been out of town for a week - hence the lag in posting. But I'm back!

Champion (Legend #3)


4.5 stars

369 pages
Published Nov. 5, 2013 by Putnam Juvenile

I was sad when this series ended, because overall it was a well-written, exciting dive into a post-apocalyptic, dystopian society. I was happy though, that most, if not all the loose ends were tied up nicely - if a bit too abruptly. But I can't complain too loudly when an author doesn't neglect her duty to satisfy readers' needs for closure.

The ending was happy, with a touch of sadness - lots of room for hope and healing. I enjoyed that very much.

No swearing, but one slightly glossed over sex scene.

I'd love to see a spin-off of this series set in the world of Antarctica. That place was intriguing.

Good job, Marie Lu, I like your style!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Anna Dressed in Blood

Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna #1)


316 pages
Tor Teen First Edition
Published September 2011 by Tom Doherty

I can't recommend this book based on a couple of things.

First the language is horrible. Really, really bad. I felt like I was with a bunch of Marines, not a couple of teenagers. The F-bomb is liberally slathered throughout the book - and for NO REASON! I found myself skipping whole passages in order to cut down on the number of curse words I had to read.

Second, there is quite a lot of guts and gore. People dying right and left. Police didn't do much, which was not believable, especially with WHO the victims were. They asked maybe 3 or 4 questions and decided that was fine. The gore was all very slasher movie-esque.

The ending was OK, but I'm not sure I understood exactly what happened. There was an epilogue, but it only gave information about what happens in the near future. I wanted to know what happens much later on.

I will not be reading any other books by this writer if the cursing continues to taint the stories.

Friday, November 29, 2013


Prodigy (Legend #2)


3.5 stars

371 pages
Published Jan. 29, 2013 by Putnam Juvenile

An exciting sequel to Legend. It has everything I love - survival, anti-government rebellion, a good love story with "issues," so it's not too boring.

I also appreciate how the main characters don't know who to trust, but ultimately decide to trust each other. I will read the last in the trilogy to see how it all plays out.

Little to no swearing, and no sex. A bit of violence, but it's mostly glossed over. Nothing like the first book where it was glorified and reveled in and described in minute detail.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Bitter Kingdom

The Bitter Kingdom (Fire and Thorns #3)


4 stars

Published Aug. 27, 2013 by Greenwillow Books

This is the way a trilogy is supposed to end. Happy, with all loose ends tied up and the main character ending up with the guy she's supposed to end up with. Throughout the trilogy you see the queen grow from a wimpy, but intellectual, girl - into a strong, fierce woman. And likewise, the author Rae Carson has matured and developed into a competent and exciting storyteller. She figured out pacing and plot. She developed deep characters with myriad facets to their personalities. It was a delight to read her literary journey.

I hope Carson keeps writing, because I'll keep reading her stuff.

No swearing and just one glossed over sex scene.

Can recommend!

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Last Storyteller: A Novel of Ireland

The Last Storyteller: A Novel of Ireland


Published Feb. 7, 2012 by Random House

At first, I didn't think I was going to make it through this book (which I won in a First Reads giveaway), but there's something oddly compelling, darkly beautiful and exquisitely twisted about the book. I love all things Irish, but if you're looking for a story filled with rainbows, leprechauns and Darby O'Gill, this book is not the one for you. The story revolves around a man writing his memoirs to his 2 children, to be read after his death. As an 18-year-old, he falls in love with an older woman. Then the woman is stolen away by her family, never to be seen again.

The plot isn't so much a quest to find her as a search to find himself, with a healthy dose of Irish history, politics and legend interspersed within. Honestly, I looked forward to the retelling of the legends parts, because those parts shone some sunlight into such a melancholy story. But it's all so eloquently written and characters so fully fleshed out, it was hard not to finish. It's not a "page-tuner," no, not by any stretch of the imagination, but it is thought-provoking. I recommend.

Friday, November 22, 2013

You Have Seven Messages

You Have Seven Messages

Published Sept. 13, 2011 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers (first published Jan. 1, 2011)
I just finished this book, like 10 minutes ago, and I'm not sure what I think of it. It's a very sad, depressing book, and it has some relationship ideas that I wouldn't deem appropriate for the audience this book was written for. It delves into things that are deep and controversial, but the writer puts it out there like his beliefs are the only true and right way.

That being said, I liked how the story emphasizes that people aren't perfect and that we all make mistakes, and that we should be willing to forgive. That theme alone is why I give this book three stars.

Maybe in a few days, after I give it time to stew, I'll change my star rating, but three is feeling just right.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Eon: Dragoneye Reborn

Eon: Dragoneye Reborn (Eon #1)


2.5 stars

531 pages
Published Dec. 26, 2008 by Viking Juvenile (first published Jan. 1, 2008)  
I have a number of adjectives describing this Eastern-culture inspired novel:

way too long

So why did I finish it? I'm not sure. Maybe there was something compelling about the theme - not the characters, though, they were one-dimensional and weak; or the plot - which was over-simple and over-written.

The theme - accepting strength in womanhood - is contrived, yes. And the book does it no justice with the weak characterization of Eon/Eona. But the universal truth of the theme made me interested to see how Eon/a came to realize it. Unfortunately, by the time Eon/a got her head on straight, the book was pretty much over, so I stuck it out til the end.

This book actually drained me so much that instead of reading the next book on my To Read list, I watched TV! Ach! The tragedy!

The bright spot was that there was no swearing and no sex. But there are some transvestite and eunuch characters, if that bugs you. Actually the best character in the book was the transvestite. S/he was pretty awesome.
I will not be reading the sequel.

Monday, November 18, 2013


Legend (Legend #1)


Published Nov. 29, 2011 by Putnam Juvenile

This was just the book that I needed to get over a super crappy book I had just previously read. (See post below.)

Marie Lu really knows how to write an exciting, intriguing story - complete with decent character development, evil bad guys and a bit of computer hacking! I loved it.

I did think the torture scenes were a little too gleefully gratuitous, hence the one star docking. And I didn't like some of the characters doing a complete 180 - first they hate, now they don't. Or conversely, nice guy turns uber-evil. It was a bit jarring.

But overall, I deem it a fantastic book. No swearing, yay!

I've added #2 and #3 to my to-read list. Thankfully the last in the trilogy was just published, so no having to wait for the next one to come out!!

I can recommend to all!

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Friday Night Knitting Club

The Friday Night Knitting Club (Friday Night Knitting Club #1)

352 pages 
Published Jan. 18, 2007 by Putnam Adult (first published January 1st 2006)
I had waited a few years for this book to finally be added as an ebook at my local library. I thought I would like this book - yarn and women crafters with a touch of romance thrown in? Sounds good! I love working with yarn, although I enjoy crocheting more than knitting. Maybe I was hoping for a bit of inspiration to get me back into knitting. I rarely delve into adult fiction, but I thought I'd make an exception for this one.

Unfortunately, when I closed the cover on my Nook after reading the last sentence, I was decidedly underwhelmed and not a little bit disgusted. I remember all sorts of hype associated with this book. Why? The ending was crap. If I had known what was going to happen (and I purposely did NOT read any spoilers beforehand), I would not have wasted my time. The only reason I gave it 2 stars was that the writing was pretty good - except for the swearing. TOO MUCH! I mean, come on! This is a book about knitting! You don't need to be dropping the f-bomb when you're purling!

So, I cannot recommend this book to any of my friends. Sorry. Actually - I'm not.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Glimpse (Zellie Wells #1) by Stacey Wallace Benefiel

Glimpse (Zellie Wells #1)


Published May 9, 2010 by Write Free (first published Apr. 20, 2010)

I got this ebook for free on Barnes and Noble for my Nook more than 2 years ago. I didn't have high hopes for it, but it surprised me. I actually enjoyed it! If you can overlook some flat characterization and uneven plotting, you will enjoy it, too.

Didn't like the adultery aspect, though. Or the mild swearing.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Crown of Midnight

Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2)


What a fantastic sequel to the Throne of Glass. We find out more about who Celaena really is and how she works. I especially appreciated the subtle Star Wars moment.

One thing bugged me, though, and that was the unnecessary swearing. This is a fantasy book - swearing should have no place in this world. And the horrific killings committed by Celaena. That was disturbing - but she is an assassin, so I guess that's expected.

I can't wait for the next book to come out.

Friday, November 8, 2013

The Swiss Family Robinson

The Swiss Family Robinson


First published in 1812
I tried reading this book with my kids, but the vocabulary was beyond my 3rd and 5th graders - this edition one of the first translations, so many, many words were archaic and out of use. I'm going to find an Illustrated Classic version to read to them, which I think they'll enjoy.

I loved this book, though. A lot of the flora and fauna which the Robinson family found on their island was improbable - elephants on an island? Bison? Plus so many types of birds. That many birds would mean being close to a major landmass, and hence in shipping lanes, and hence being found much sooner. But I loved the book anyway. I wish I could be as knowledgeable as Mr. Robinson - he had an encyclopedic knowledge of, well, everything. He knew how to make drawbridges, looms, treehouses, husbandry, farming, slaughtering and wide variety of animals, etc.

I can see why this book is a classic. It's a fun read.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


Bitterblue (Graceling Realm #3)


3 stars

563 pages
Published May 1, 2012 by Dial

The title of the book is perfect, because after I read the thing I was left feeling Bitter and Blue. Bitter, because I'm going to have to wait for the NEXT book to come out; and Blue, because this book is pretty dark, twisty and depressing. It's all about the effects that one person can have on so many other people. One person's choices can hurt many, many people - even after that person is gone.

I couldn't get this book out of my head for a few days - it really is that dark. I usually don't finish these types of books because I hate feeling depressed. The reason I stuck with it was because of the main character, Queen Bitterblue. She was a strong, good, decent person trying to rectify the wrongs of her evil father. She was trying to give hope to those who were deeply affected by her father's atrocities. So that glimmer of hope gave me the wherewithal to keep slogging through to the end.

Another great theme of this book is the importance of friendship. Bitterblue relies heavily on her friends and their loyalty. Surrounding yourself with good, decent people who are trying to do what's right will help you be and do better.

The reason for the three stars is that the story was convoluted and hard to follow. And some of the characters were pretty flat. I especially disliked how Bitterblue's love interest had such a reverse of feelings - it was love, hate, love. Bam, bam, bam. Very disorienting. AND the book was soo flippin' long! Edit, please!

Anyway, not bad, but not great. I'll read the next in line, but I may not go further if that one is anything like this one. I don't need any depression in my life.

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Friday Society

The Friday Society


440 pages
Published Dec. 6, 2012 by Dial 
I wavered between giving this 3 or 4 stars. I really liked how these girls - assistants to "great" men - branch out, join up and kick butt. They each used their unique abilities to fight the bad guys and save the world (well, London anyway). I also love steampunk, and there was a bit of that included inside.

I did wish the characters were a little better developed and that not so much emphasis was placed on their looks.

I did enjoy the twist at the end. The bad guy wasn't who I thought it was at all.

I appreciated the fast pace and adventures presented. But the writing was a bit weak. I almost gave up on the book in the first chapter because the voice was annoying. It got better, thankfully.

Mild swearing, no sex. So I can recommend.

Friday, November 1, 2013

16 Lighthouse Road

16 Lighthouse Road (Cedar Cove #1)


Published Jan. 1, 2001

I read this purely because I used to live in the town that is featured in this book - Port Orchard, WA. I loved the town when I lived there and miss it now that I'm away. I wanted a little reminder of my time there - and this book was a good answer to that.

Although it helped my home-sickness a little, the story was much like a soap opera. Drama everywhere, and a few love stories thrown in for spice. Not fantastic literature, but I can see how people can get hooked on it. 

I will probably read more in this series, but only when I am in the right mood. Which won't be too, too often. I know the books are there whenever I want them.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Born of Illusion

Born of Illusion (Born of Illusion #1)


Published June 11, 2013 by Balzer & Bray

Thankfully, this can be read as is - I can almost consider it a stand-alone book. The writing was good enough that I was compelled to read the novel in two sittings.

I liked that the heroine was struggling between what she knew to be right and what she knew she needed to do to survive.

It was a bit predictable at the end. The bad guy was exactly who I thought it was going to be.

There is some mild swearing and some forays into the occult.

I am looking forward to read the next in the series.

Monday, October 28, 2013



Published June 1, 1974 by Amereon (first published 1939)
I got lucky when my friend handed me this out-of-print book. I had never heard of Elswyth Thane, but now that I have I just may find other books by her.

This book melded some of my favorite genres: romance and the supernatural. Basically - a girl falls in love with a ghost. But she's never seen or spoken to said ghost.

I enjoyed such a different and fresh take on the supernatural.
And no swearing and sex made it that much more palatable!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Fall of Five

The Fall of Five (Lorien Legacies #4)

Published Aug. 27, 2013 by HarperTeen
Again, the fictional author Pittacus Lore has written another pulse-pounding novel in the Lorien Legacies series. This time we see betrayal plague the Garde.

I almost wish the title was a little more vague. It basically tells you the plot of the entire book. The only thing you are left wondering is HOW.

Despite that, the book is well-written, clever, and full of action. We also are treated to a few more clues to how the story will end. But nothing too much.

I, of course, will be reading the next in the series.

Thursday, October 24, 2013


Rise (Eve #3)


Published April 2, 2013 by HarperCollins

Sooo ... I liked this book. Mostly. There were some things that I would have changed or included, but on the whole it was a decent ending to the Eve trilogy.
One thing that bugged me was the abruptness of how the book ended. I got down to the last 20 pages or so, and said to myself, "How is Carey going to end this book in 20 pages? Maybe there is another book?" There was just too much going on to be able to satisfactorily finish the series in just 20 pages. I was right. The blunt ending left me turning the page, and say "Where's the rest of it???"
I hated the fact that we never find out what happened to the girls who were locked away pregnant. Or to the children of those girls. What happened to Charles? The women in Califia? The boys in the dugout? Or any of the other characters we met throughout the series??
An epilogue would have greatly enhanced the book. It would have left the reader with a better taste in her mouth. The one I have now is slightly bitter.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Ivan Ramen

Ivan Ramen: Love, Obsession, and Recipes from Tokyo's Most Unlikely Noodle Joint

Expected publication: Oct. 29, 2013 by Ten Speed Press
This half-biography/half-cookbook completely turned my American version of ramen on its head.  I have been completely clueless about what "real" ramen is supposed to be. I have been used to the 15-cents-a-package version you boil for three minutes, add the powdered flavor and away you go!
Real ramen, I've learned is not this AT ALL. Ramen is a near religion for some in Japan. It is an intensely precise and patience-demanding endeavor. If you're looking for very authentic Japanese noodle recipes, this is a great book. ‘Cause these recipes take a bit longer than three minutes.
I am a ramen neophyte and was hoping to get some good beginner noodle recipes from this book – something accessible. After reading it, though, I'm not sure I can actually embark on the journey  Orkin presents – the recipes are definitely for an ambitious, intermediate-to-advanced cook, who is well-versed in Asian cuisine and terminology.
Orkin recommends making the first recipe – shio ramen – over the course of a week! He freely admits that his recipes are “daunting,” but doable with patience. He starts his “gold standard” shio ramen recipe by first laying out the recipe, and second, defining each component that is included in recipe. There are eight. And each of these eight components has a recipe of its own – all from total scratch. Home cooks will find this approach frustrating and unrealistic for families busy with homework, soccer, and dance and tae kwon do lessons.
But for an experienced cook with time and ambition to spare, this book is perfect. It allows a cook to revel in the history, flavor and energy each ingredient brings to the table – or pot in this instance.
Orkin also provides many recipes to use up all those hard-earned – and now leftover – ingredients from the shio ramen. All look to be about the same difficultly level as the shio ramen.
Some of the ingredients – actually most – are hard-to-find. Orkin provides a resource page at the end of the book to point you in the right direction to obtain these elusive ingredients. The main idea: The Internet is your friend.
One big complaint I have with the prose is that the language is too lowbrow and features waaay too many curse words. Ramen is treated in such a highbrow manner in this book; it just seems disrespectful for the author to debase his passion with base words. It lowers the quality of the entire book.
I loved the photos found inside, although I wish there were more of them. Cookbooks can never have too many photos in my opinion.
I can recommend this cookbook to those wanting to try challenging recipes with a splendid payoff.
Thank you NetGalley and Ten Speed Press for allowing me to review this book.

Friday, October 18, 2013


Once (Eve #2)


4 stars

354 pages

Published July 3, 2012 by HarperCollins 
I liked this sequel to the dystopian novel Eve. A bit of teen sex, which is icky, but at least it was glossed over. And there isn't a love triangle! Yay! The author tries to force another guy on our heroine, but it doesn't stick. Hopefully, we'll keep that theme going through Number 3, which is out already, so I don't have to wait!

In this book, we find Eve captured and taken to Las Vegas to lived with the king of New America. We witness her attempts at escape and her relationship with rebels and with Caleb, her love interest.

The plot is simple - escape and overthrow the king. Pacing is pretty good, with lots of high points full of action and tension. The ending will leave you wanting -  nay, needing to read the last book, Rise. It is waiting patiently on my Nook for me to delve into.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


Eve (Eve #1)

Published Oct. 4, 2011 by HarperTeen

Friday, October 11, 2013

Charlie And The Chocolate Factory

Charlie And The Chocolate Factory (Charlie Bucket #1)


Published 1989 by Cornerstone Books (first published 1964)

Well, of course I'm going to give this book 5 stars. That's a given. Roald Dahl is one of my most favorite authors of all-time. He writes magic. He is the Dr. Seuss of Juvenile Fiction.

I read this as a bed-time story to my son. He ate it up (no pun intended). Fabulous writing, a delightful plot and a not-so-subtle commentary on "bad" children meld to create a book that is entirely readable, loveable and unforgettable.

The books is infinitely better than the movies - yes, BOTH movies. Wonka is portrayed in the book as a bit eccentric, but not creepy. Yeah, I said it - Johnny Depp was freakin' creepy as Willy Wonka!

Anyway, before I get off topic too much ... I recommend this book to anyone with a brain. Anyone who breathes. Read this book!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Little Lady Agency

The Little Lady Agency (The Little Lady Agency #1)


4 stars

406 pages 
Published Sept. 5, 2006 by Gallery Books

A little Sophie Kinsella-ish, but the main character actually has some morals, if a bit innocent (which is refreshing). There is very little swearing and no sex at all! I enjoyed it quite a bit. Although, I think she ended up with the wrong guy at the end!

Monday, October 7, 2013


Sent (The Missing #2)

320 pages
Published Aug. 25, 2009 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Quickie Review:

I read the first and second books of the series one after the other, and it was a fun read. The second book is filled with history, which I love, but it was a bit confusing. I really just had to push on through her "explanations" and focus on the story. Some inconsistencies, as well, but nothing too distracting.

Friday, October 4, 2013

The Camelot Caper

The Camelot Caper

352 pages
Published Jan. 9, 2001 by Avon (first published 1969)
I got through this. It was OK. If you can forget the fact that half the storyline details are dropped and just focus on the general plot, you will enjoy it.

Alas, it's next to impossible for me to ignore glaring gaps. The love story aspect is not developed correctly at all. Details are glossed over - then BAM! they're engaged. What just happened??

Character development was seriously flawed and jagged.

And the ending SUCKED - confusing and lackluster.

I think the reason I actually got through this was the writing. It wasn't bad. In places, it was quite witty and clever. It's like ... you have high quality ingredients for a cake recipe - but you put them together totally wrong and the cake flops. This is what this book was - a flopped cake with great ingredients.

So much potential. Such bad execution.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


Scarlet (Scarlet #1)


Published Feb. 14, 2012 by Walker Childrens

I gotta be honest here, I didn't finish this book because my "editor" OCD kicked in and had a horrendous hissy fit.
The author, apparently in an attempt to enhance the authenticity of the speech, substituted the word "were" for "was." I just couldn't get past that audacious lack of respect for grammar!!! Every time I encountered the word "were," I had to stop and see if the word "was" was actually the word that was supposed to be used. I couldn't concentrate on what was happening, because I was on the constant look-out for all that bad grammar. So, even if it had a good plot, I wouldn't have noticed.

Yay for OCD!


Monday, September 30, 2013

The Maze Runner series

The Maze Runner (The Maze Runner #1)


The first in this series The Maze Runner was OK. This is what I had to say about it back when I originally read it:

 "A young adult adventure/action story. It wasn't bad."
So not an overwhelmingly fantastic review, but not horrible.

It gets worse ... 

The Scorch Trials (The Maze Runner #2)


I have to be blunt ... I skimmed this. I read the first 40 or so pages and just couldn't stand all the terrifically awful deaths of these teenagers.

And honestly, I really only wanted to know how it ended. It seemed like I was thinking through the whole book "How can 'they' put these poor kids through this? They can't take anymore!" Indiscriminate killing, horrific scenes, and confusing plot line all required me to give it the 2 stars. I will read (or skim) the last book just to see how it ends. It had better have a good ending!

Can it get worse? Oh, yes it can ... 

The Death Cure (The Maze Runner #3)


325 pages
Published Oct. 11, 2011 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers

Lame, lame, lame ending. Please don't waste your time on this.

 The first book was decent, if completely unnecessarily violent. Book 2 was more disappointing. And this one was pretty terrible. The ending will make you say, "What?? THAT'S how he ends it? What was the point?"

Save yourselves!

Skip it.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs #1)


5 stars

32 pages
Published Apr. 1, 1982 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers (first published 1978)

I was so excited when they came out with a movie about this book, because this book is one of my absolute favorites from growing up. Too bad the movie didn't live up to its inspiration (do they ever??)

The clever story, wonderful illustrations and fabulous writing make this a memorable romp in childhood frivolity and food fantasy. I introduced Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs to my children, and they loved it just as much I did. Even now that they are older, they still love getting it out and reading it.

If you have seen the movie, but not read the book ... GO READ THE BOOK! It's a hundred times better and so, so enjoyable. Literally generations of children have read and adored this book!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


Reboot (Reboot #1)


4 stars

365 pages
Published May 7, 2013 by HarperTeen

Finally, a zombie book that's not really a zombie book. It's a fresh new take on a stale subject. In fact, the word "zombies" isn't used in the book (that I can remember). The word "reboot" is used. As in, a body is rebooted after it's turned off. Much like a computer.

In this dystopian world ravaged by KDH virus, people are rising again. Yes, technically they are dead, but the virus reanimates them. The number of minutes the victim was dead equates to how closely they resemble the humans they once were. The lower the number the more "human."

Higher numbers are feared and/or respected for their un-human-ness. And this is where we are introduced to Wren 178. She was dead 178 minutes before she reanimated. She is feared and rightfully so. She, although a petite 5'2" girl, is lethal.

I'm usually not a fan of this type of book - zombies eating people is not on my list of fun things to read, but Amy Tintera turns these dead kids into real people, with feelings and dreams, and turns her book into something other than a zombies-eat-brains book.

The action is fast-paced and gripping. The writing (there is some swearing) had some very witty parts that had me laughing out loud. The characters, if a bit flat, are engaging and well-written. The ending was satisfying and left me wanting more, but not in a crazed, I-must-read-the-next-book-now! sort of way.

I can recommend to anyone who likes or doesn't like zombies, because it really isn't a zombie book, yet has zombies as the main characters.

I will be reading the next in the series.

Monday, September 23, 2013

3 Below

3 Below (Floors #2)


4 stars

240 pages
Published Sept. 1, 2012 by Scholastic Press

I read this book as a bedtime read-aloud to my 8-year-old son. He loved it, and couldn't wait for bedtime so I could read it to him. Since I got to read, and he stayed quiet for longer than 5 minutes, this was a win-win for all parties.

3 Below is Juvenile Fiction at its best - there are kids performing things that no responsible parents ever in a million years would let their kids do. No parental supervision at all, which I think is a kids' ultimate dream. Very Roald Dahl.

There are monkeys and burping and zip lines - things that would appeal to any kid. But beyond those silly things, the writing is spot-on for its audience. It's funny, and it doesn't use incredibly large words, so kids can understand what's going on; but it doesn't use dumb words either, so vocabulary is strengthened and stretched. A good balance between entertainment and education. But mostly entertainment.

And if it gets my kid excited about reading, I'll take it!

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Testing

The Testing (The Testing #1)


3.5 stars

336 pages
Published June 4, 2013 by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children

(Mild Spoilers)

Is this a The Hunger Games knock-off? The odds are ever in your favor ... so yes. It absolutely is. A completely unabashed, blatant knock-off.

That being said, it is a good knock-off. I enjoyed it thoroughly once I accepted the similarities between the two books. The plot is basically the same as Hunger Games - except in The Testing, the applicants want to go to the Testing (Hunger Games) because if they pass, they can go on to University and their families back home get compensation.

The main character - Cia - is a clever, resourceful, smart, lucky, strong heroine who falls in love with her travel companion/fellow applicant. Sound familiar? I know, I know. But just as I loved Katniss, I thought Cia was awesome. Slightly flat at first, but she is developed further as she loses her innocence during the phases of Testing.

The majority of the book is focused on the 4th phase of The Testing, which makes sense, because it is the most exciting and longest test the applicants must go through. Traveling in a designated area, they must reach their goal any way they can. Killing is neither encouraged nor discouraged. Some applicants are good. But most turn vicious. It's sad that the author decides to put forth the theme that people are intrinsically bad - and will revert to base instincts whenever possible. I agree there is evil in the world, but I have hope that people at least have the desire to be better and to do better things. Am I naive? Probably. But I still lock my doors and keep my wallet safe. I ain't stupid.

There is some mild swearing and some violence (obviously, since it's Hunger Games reincarnated).

Anyway ... if you liked the Hunger Games, you'll probably like this. It's basically the same. Hopefully Number Two in this series will go in a different direction than Catching Fire did. I'll read it when it comes out and let you know.