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

Friday, August 30, 2013




2 stars

Published Aug. 6, 2013 by Amazon Children's Publishing

I've read a number of Donna Jo Napoli's books and have enjoyed them, so when I had the chance to read this book, I jumped! Her writing is usually spot-on for the YA genre and audience.

The theme of "Skin" - overcoming anxiety and anger about being and looking different - was stellar. A 16-year-old girl discovers she has a skin condition called vitiligo, where patches of skin lose their pigmentation. It's mostly cosmetic - but to a teen (or anyone else, for that matter) - the stigma that comes with vitiligo - of looking different - is challenging and scary. I appreciated the journey that Pina had to go through. And I enjoyed reading about how her parents and friend supported her and gave encouragement, even when she was depressed and angry.

In that regard, this book would be perfect for any young adult going through a tough time in life. But unfortunately, there are aspects of the book that preclude me from being able to recommend this book with a whole heart.

First, the language is very rough and vulgar. Admittedly, I am on principle very anti-cursing, and I tend to lose respect for books that use excessive amounts of these words. But I understand that sometimes these types of words are used to enhance the story - although this technique is used successfully very seldom. In this book, it was not.

I lost count of how many f-bombs there were. I don't usually read past the third f-bomb in a book, but since this is a review I had committed to, I felt a responsibility to finish the book, and so I forged ahead. I realize that teens speak like this - but does that mean that books have to sink to that level? I don't buy it. YA writers have the unique opportunity to introduce creative word use to an audience still forming and learning their vocabulary. Why not improve their language instead of debasing it?

Second, teen sex. There was way too much of this. Some of it graphic, too. One of the characters admits to having sex at 14, and the other character thinks that's OK! That is insane. These are 16-year-olds having sex in the back of her mom's car and while she's baby-sitting. Classy.

Third, the way that Pina finally comes to grips with her condition and accepts it is very abrupt and lacks believability. Literally, one day after months of anger and depression, she decides she's "coming out." And she's OK - happily ever after. That doesn't ring true to me, especially for a teenager. There is more to it than that.

So, if you don't mind crass language and loose morals in favor of a decent coming-of-age story, by all means, read this book. But it likely will not be one I can recommend to my friends.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Beautiful Chaos

Beautiful Chaos (Caster Chronicles #3)


2.5 stars

516 pages
Published Oct. 18, 2011 by Little, Brown and Company

I don't know why I continue to slog through this series. The books are too long, where nothing happens, and I don't really care about the (way too many to count) characters.

And to add to my dismay, this book ends with the cheesiest cliff-hanger ending ever. It's as if the authors knew that the rest of their book was boring and bland, so they decided to try and force the readers into actually caring about what happens next. I'm all for subtle manipulation, but this ventures into the realm of anvil-over-the head maneuvering.

The pacing of the story is dawdling and uneven. There are many chapters where nothing of importance is said or done. I'm a huge proponent of a good editor. I've said it before - USE one who is unafraid of the delete key! And if that shrinks the length of your book - fabulous. Trim the fat! 500+ page books are only as good as the writing. Condense and omit. It will make a better, more entertaining book.

I do appreciate the general lack of swearing and sex, though. That is a positive.

But we'll see if I get to the last book. It's not looking good.

Monday, August 26, 2013


Delirium (Delirium #1)


3 stars

441 pages 
Published Feb. 3, 2011 by HarperTeen 

Another dystopian, teen story. This one reminds me of Scott Westerfield's Uglies series.

Teens in society reach a certain age, then get a "procedure" that will make them "happy." But in reality it is taking away a key part of what it means to be human. In the Uglies books, it's free-will - trading being pretty for a stress-free lifestyle. In "Delirium," it's the ability to love - trading the threat of pain for numbness.

Besides the fact that this is a totally far-fetched idea (who wants to live in a world without love?), I really despised the ending. I know there is another book coming soon, but there were way too many loose ends left hanging. I don't mind cliff-hangers in books, but you gotta give me something.

Also, there is swearing in this book. Totally unnecessary and quite distracting. Oliver has created a world of numbness, and in that world, there should be no need for swearing. Swearing is a mark of a passionate mind. The author just sticks them in ... the words don't jive with the feel of the book. Hated that part.

But I'll probably read the next book when it comes out, just to satisfy my curiosity.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Bernard Clayton's New Complete Book of Breads

Bernard Clayton's New Complete Book of Breads

30th Anniversary Edition, 704 pages
Published Nov. 25, 2003 by Simon & Schuster (first published 1987)
I love this cook book! I got this for my birthday a few years ago and it's my go-to bread baking cookbook. It is chock-full of recipes that I actually want to bake. Everything from basic loaf bread to sopapillas, crackers, and ethnic breads.

It doesn't go extensively into method, but I wasn't looking for that. It's very easy to read, and I like Clayton's writing style. It's very down to earth and friendly. I also like how the author heartily approves of substitutions. Some authors won't even entertain the notion. 

I've made fabulous dinner rolls, bread bowls, potato rolls, sandwich bread, sweet cinnamon bread, hamburger buns, and many other recipes. I am happy to report that they all turned out exceptionally well.

This is a must-have for any serious, or wannabe serious baker.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


Inheritance (The Inheritance Cycle #4)

Published Nov. 8, 2011 by Alfred A. Knop
What a boring book. Which makes me sad and a bit mad that I spent how many hours reading and reading, just to get to an "eh" ending. But do you know what really irks me?? All the freakin' loose ends!!! Who was Angela, really? Who was the woman with the sword-fighting teen-age girl? What happens to Elva when she grows up? What about the dragons? Do Eragon and Arya ever get together? Did Jeod ever get to ride Saphira? And what happens to King Orrin? Oh, sooo many loose ends ...
This book would greatly be improved with a lengthy epilogue. An EPILOGUE, I say!!!

Monday, August 19, 2013


Heartless (Parasol Protectorate #4)


385 pages
Published July 1st 2011 by Orbit
A solid fourth performance by Gail Carriger. I love these books! The wit, the charm, the manners! 

So why did I rate this only 3 stars? Unfortunately, the story was weak. The plot thin. In my view, the book only acted as a bridge to the next book in the series.

Yet, that major flaw was oddly easy to overlook because Carriger's writing style is so entertaining and engaging. Her vocabulary is incredibly extensive. After reading a few chapters, I always feel smarter!

I will read the next book in the series.

Friday, August 16, 2013


Floors (Floors #1)


Published Sept. 1, 2011 by Scholastic Press

I read this book with my 8-year-old son as a bedtime story over the course of a few weeks. He absolutely loved this book!

He loved how the main character - Leo - went on a sort of scavenger hunt and discovered secret floors in the hotel where he lives.

My son also liked the minor robot character - Blop. He thought he was hilarious.

As an adult reading this, I can see flaws in the story and writing - mostly the blatant mirroring to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - but this does not translate into a bad book for children. Children have the ability to just enjoy a book and not analyze like adults do.

More than the book itself, I enjoyed the chance I had to read with my son. I will be checking out Number 2 in the series, because he's asked for it already. Yay!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


Brisingr (The Inheritance Cycle #3)

Published Sept. 20, 2008 by Alfred A. Knopf
I re-read this book, and I have to agree with my first review of this book. SOOOOO slow!! And nothing of true substance happens. Honestly, this book could use some major condensing.

This was the slowest paced book of the three I've read. Lots of character development, but not much actually happening. I counted two battle scenes, which was far too little to keep me happy! I hope the last book will be a bit more of a page-turner.

Monday, August 12, 2013




2 stars

293 pages 

Published May 14, 2013 by HarperTeen

I am pretty bummed I had to give this book so few stars. It had such potential - part love story, part paranormal mystery - but the execution was lacking.

"Towering" is touted as a modern re-write of the Rapunzel tale, but the only tie-in the book contains is that one of the protagonists has long hair, which she cuts to make a rope so she can escape her tower prison/safe-house. The rest is an anti-drug PA (which I'm all for: Drugs=Bad!), but it just didn't jive with the spirit of the original Rapunzel tale. That, paired with poor character development, uneven pacing, and too many unanswered questions at the abrupt and unsatisfying ending made this book an unfortunate and forgettable work.

I did dig the book cover, though.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Dream of Time

Dream of Time


4 stars

424 pages
Published July 9, 2013 by Synchronista LLC

I must say, I was pleasantly surprised with this debut novel by Nancy Price.
If you can get past the bland title, and the confusing beginning pages, this book will reward you with hours of entertainment and rich San Francisco history. A perfect beach read.

Time travel is a tricky subject to get right to have it be believable.  Price solves the problem and impossibility of physical time travel by having her main character’s psyche travel back and occupy the body of a girl who has “died.” Basically her “host” was brain dead, and Robin – the heroine – takes her over.

I was enthralled with the story – once I figured out what was going on. Perhaps the author meant for this confusion to be present, since it mirrors the confusion the main character deals with in the book’s opening pages. The writing flows well, and the pacing is steady and well done.

The ending was complete and logical. It was a mite predictable, but happily Price throws in a bit of an unpredictable twist to make it more interesting.

Through the entirety of the book, bits of San Francisco history are worked into the story. Obviously, the author loves the city and has a depth of knowledge to match – the book is not only a love story between a man and woman, but between an author and a city. Price has clearly done mountains of research, which only fleshes out and humanizes historical San Francisco.

I loved Robin. Price develops her protagonist extremely well. She is a modern single mother who loves her children fiercely. I connected with her on this level and could see myself thinking the same thoughts Robin does. I also admired how Robin wasn’t obsessed with greed and trying to make her “Now” self rich by abusing her “Then” status. She only wanted to help others and prevent bad things from happening to people. I’m not sure how many people presented with such an opportunity would go down that path. I’d probably invest in something!

The love story between Travis and Robin/Gennie is genuine and lovely. And I appreciated the glossed-over sex. I also respected the lack of cursing and general bawdiness that usually accompanies adult fiction – especially when there is a romance angle. This is a book I would be comfortable recommending to my friends.

I am delighted I got to read this book. A solid first performance for Price, and I genuinely hope there many encore performances from her.

Thank you NetGalley and Synchronista LLC for the opportunity to review this fabulous ARC.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013


Eldest (The Inheritance Cycle #2)

A super-quick review. I re-read this book in my quest to finally finish the series. And it takes a lot for me to re-read something.
I again enjoyed it quite a bit.

But I'm hoping that all these loose ends get tied up neatly at the end.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Sleep Solutions

Sleep Solutions: Quiet Nights for You and Your Child From Birth to Five Years

192 pages
Published April 1st 2013 by Lion Hudson
I picked up this book hoping it would offer some different advice from the hundreds of other books out there written by so-called experts on getting your baby and/or child to sleep through the night. My 10-month-old still gets up once during the night wanting to eat. Even after we used the "cold turkey" method of sleep training.

Unfortunately, this book offers nothing new. It's the same advice, the same reassurances, the same everything. The only positive spin I can put on this is that since everybody is giving the same advice, it must be good advice.

In the book, Waddilove provides a rough "sleep timeline," where a parent can see approximately what a normal sleep schedule looks like. She does warn that a parent must be flexible. I agree. Flexibility is the buzz word of parenting. I wasn't a fan of the timeline idea. I felt like it was too rigid a concept to be offered in sleep solutions book. Not all babies will conform to such an idea. Nor all parents. But it can act as a decent guideline.

I do like how Waddilove is a firm, no-nonsense, yet loving, advice-giver. She is calm and confident in her reassurances. That is a definite plus for us sleep-deprived, half-crazy parents. I also appreciate her little spirituality blurb at the end of the book. It's refreshing to be reminded that our little angels are not "of the devil!" - even if they act like it sometimes.

I do like the way that the book is divided into chapters: each stage of growth is pinpointed, with special emphasis on newborns and the first year. So you can zero in on your child's age and see exactly what Waddilove says your child should be doing.

Also positively, at the end of each chapter, she relates a couple of case studies of people who successfully got their child to sleep better by using Waddilove's advice. While these testimonials help give hope to those of us who have a "waker," it also can be a source of depression - "Why can't MY baby be like that? Why don't these solutions work for me?"

Although this sleep book is organized well and provides the same advice as any other sleep solutions book, it just doesn't provide anything MORE. But it does give parents another resource to validate what all other "sleep experts" are saying.

Thank you NetGalley and Lion Hudson Plc for the opportunity to review this book.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Beautiful Darkness

Beautiful Darkness (Caster Chronicles #2)


3 stars

503 pages
Published Oct. 12, 2010 by Little, Brown and Company

The second book in the "Beautiful Creatures" series was ... well, gothic, dark, depressing, sad and at time really confusing. But it was also pretty thick on plot and character development - yay! I thought it was well done, mostly. There were problems with a few things: 1) Pacing was molasses at times, especially at the beginning. I almost quit the book 40 pages in, I was so bored. There's only so much self-loathing I can take from a character. 2) The book was so flippin' looooong. I mean, 500 pages?? The book definitely could have used an editor who ain't shy with her "delete" key.
That being said, it wasn't unreadable. It WAS entertaining and clever; it just wasn't a stay-up-all-night page-turner.
Some new baddies are introduced in this book - ones with strange superpowers and abilities that defy "the order of things." And that helped move things along.
I wonder if I'll read Number 3. I've actually got it already. Let's see if it grabs me.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

One Hundred Candles

One Hundred Candles (Past Midnight #2)


3 stars

240 pages
Published Feb. 15, 2011 by Harlequin

In all honesty, I probably should give this 2.5 stars, but since I liked the first one pretty well, I'll bump it up.

This book was not quite like the first one. It was much, much more dark. The "entity" bugging the main character was not a sad 16 year old.

The book was creepy, which if that's what you are after, it will fit the bill. I'll actually probably read the next in the series if I can find it.