Foster wants to become the first kid with a cooking show on the Food Network. Her specialty is cupcakes and muffins but she can cook anything. She practices for her show every time she cooks. The only problem is she and her mom just moved to small town Culpepper and who is going to discover her in Culpepper? They had to leave Memphis fast to get away from her mom’s Elvis impersonating boyfriend and Culpepper is where they ended up. Culpepper is a quirky little town with a reclusive Hollywood diva, a young documentarian without a camera and a host of other fun characters.
I love small town books. They always have the quirkiest characters. I think this book has a nice mix of crazy and sane. I like Foster’s ambition and determination to make it big. I also enjoyed the fact that she had a little dimension. She can’t read and she tries to hide that fact with everything she can. Once her secret is out she accepts the help of those around her. I do wish there would have been a little more development for Foster, but overall this was a fun little book.
Days of Blood and Starlight picks up after the events of Daughter of Smoke and Bone. This is not the light romantic book you expect after reading the first one; this book is about war and grief and loss and consequences. It is darker and more depressing than the first book, but it is oh so good. I love the world Laini Taylor has created and I love that her formula for this series does not seem to be following a formula. This is not a happy ever after world; this is a world of slaughter and war and I don’t think anyone in this book is anywhere approaching happy.
The angels have burned the portals into the human world and have waged a violent war on the chimera. Most of the chimera have been slaughtered and those left are running for their lives ahead of the angels war machine. Akiva, thinking Karou is dead, is back in the fold of the Misbegotten. Sure he has his doubts about the killing of innocents but he is part of something larger than himself. We find out that Karou is not dead but alive in the human world. She has brought some of the survivors of the war to a kashbah in the desert where they strike at the angels in Eritea and where she has become the resurrectionist since Brimstone is gone. She is working with Thiago to create his army or revenants, but she is also wallowing in her guilt of the world she believes she created. Both Akiva and Karou feel responsible for bringing about this war and both deal with it in their own ways. They feel guilty that they dreamed of a better life; a life of peace where angels and chimera could live together. Instead they have a life of war and blood and death. Their relationship is doomed and their is no way they can come back from the genocide of the chimera people.
This book is heavy; there were times when it was so dark and depressing I really had to put it down for a few minutes. But I quickly snatched it back up because I was so invested in these characters and wanted to know how they were going to resolve the situation they found themselves in. Karou was so sad and shamed during the first half of the book that I came to realize how much I missed her character from Daughter of Smoke and Bone. She reacts in such a true way to her circumstances that I am just in enthralled with her. Who wouldn’t be sad and depressed after the genocide of your people and realizing that your forbidden relationship brought it about. However, in the second half of the book she finds herself and her strength again and starts her quiet rebellion. Akiva doesn’t have quite as much character growth but in his way he too overcomes is shame and starts working for the better world they dreamed of.
This book ends with blood and hope. The war is still raging but some of the players have changed. Is there hope for Eritea? Is there any chance for Akiva and Karou? What is in store for the human world? I really can’t wait to see where the third book in this series goes.
Oof, this was a tough one. I actually forced myself to finish this after putting it down day after day. I remember really enjoy Pathfinder, but this one was a clunker. I think Orson Scott Card is a brilliant writer but sometimes brilliance does not translate well on the page. And sometimes writer’s views on things get a little heavy handed. This is one such book. Card has put a lot of political and religious rhetoric into this book. Sure he weaves it into the story, but you can tell these are his views that he is pushing on the reader. It takes away from the enjoyment of reading. Everyone is entitled to their opinions and I have no problem with them writing about those opinions and views even if they differ from my own. However, I don’t expect them to be pushed on me in a sci-fi book. If I wanted to read about politics and religion I would, but I wanted something else from Ruins.
The rhetoric was not my only problem with this book. This book picks up after the events in Pathfinder. Our troop of heroes has passed through the wall and find themselves in a different world. They have to figure out what is going on in each of the wallfolds they visit and figure out what to do about the visitors from earth who are on their way. They are exploring their time shifting/traveling powers and becoming stronger. However, they are also the biggest bunch of whiny babies I have ever read. I found that I couldn’t stand a single one of them. It is nothing but jealousy, envy, impetuousness, struggling for power for this group. No one acts as they should; they go back and forth on their feelings for each other. There are constant struggles to be the top dog of the group. These people were supposed to be friends; they came through some terrible events and yet all the seemed to care about was themselves. I didn’t find any redeeming qualities in these characters and it really wasn’t until the last few pages that they actually started working together. I also had a huge problem with how this was written. There is a lot of exposition in this book and not a lot of dialog. And the dialog is often filled with pages of exposition. A character will speak and then the other character will take two pages analyzing and griping about what was said before finally responding. Seriously! It got old really fast.
I am a fan of Card’s work. I loved Ender’s Game and actually want to reread it again. But I think his writing is uneven across books. He gets a little too wrapped up in getting his “message” out that he forgets to just write a good story.
This is the continuing saga of Bean, Petra, Peter and the rest of the kids from Battle School after the war with the buggers. In this book, Peter is trying to hold onto his power as the Hegemon while dealing with villain Achilles. Bean and Petra are on the run but falling in love. China is still the big bad invading country and the Muslims are all uniting under one leader.
I like Bean and Petra and even Peter, but this book really didn’t do them justice. Petra especially became something of a joke character. She goes from being this battle school hardened graduate to only wanting babies. Seriously!@?! All she talks about during the majority of the book is her desire to have Bean’s babies and she ends the book pregnant. Great message about underage moms. Bean has been so adamant about not passing on his genetic problems, but Petra somehow convinces him it is ok. No worries about dying to young to even see his kids, they will just freeze some embryos and Petra can have as many little beans as she wants.
There is a lot of political stuff going on in this book of course. China has invaded pretty much all of Asia. The people in India start a quiet nonviolent revolution. The Muslim world is uniting under one leader. And of course Europe and America are doing nothing. Card lays out is view of the world pretty thick as always, but I found the political stuff fairly easy to swallow. It was really the social commentary that I had problems with. At one point there is a gay man who talks about how lonely his life is because he is gay and can’t form real relationships; so he decides to marry a woman and probably have kids with her. Then there is the whole Petra wanting babies and wanting to propagate the species. Card could not have been more clear on his religious and social views.
Despite all that I still love the Ender world and these characters. I will probably read the rest of the Shadow series and any other books that come out.
This is a very sad story. Wilberforce has worked years developing his own software business. His finance manager Andy tells him he needs to find some friends and have some fun. Life isn’t all about work. While driving home one day he passes a wine merchant’s store and since he knows nothing about wine decides to stop in. He meets Francis Black and his friends and is encouraged to do some tasting. From that moment on his life changes, first for the better, but later for the worse. Francis has thousands of bottles of wine and no heirs to leave them to. He asks Wilberforce to take on this responsibility. Wilberforce agrees but then becomes an alcoholic, although he says he just enjoys drinking wine. I think Wilberforce was lonely and really needed friends but he didn’t realize he would become obsessed with wine. Sad story.
Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin is your typical small suburban town. Typical that is until most of the boys in the high school move away or transfer to other schools. Suddenly there is a definite lack of male companionship, girls are scrambling for boy’s attention and prom dates. Boys who would usually not have a chance are suddenly hot commodities because of the boy recession. Hunter is one such boy. He is a lazy slacker with no ambition other than sleeping. He and his friends hang out at the gas station and don’t do much at all. But now they are the center of attention; they are joining sports and the school play and being productive members of the high school population. Kelly is just your average girl who happens to have a crush on Hunter. But with the boy recession he is quickly taken and she doesn’t feel like she has a chance. What she doesn’t know is that Hunter likes her too. Now they just need to get together.
I thought The Boy Recession was a fun, light teenage romance novel. I really liked Hunter and Kelly and their friends. they all seemed like your typical teens. Sure there were extremes like entrepreneurial Eugene and the spandexers, but for the most part they could be kids in any high school only interested in the opposite sex, parties, school teams and themselves. I enjoyed the alternating narrators of Kelly and Hunter. I liked how their stories intertwined and the dual narrators was not jarring, but flowed well in the story. This is also a pretty clean book; little to no swearing, no sex or nudity. Sure they talk about the opposite sex and there is kissing and drinking but otherwise a very clean book.
Mibs Beaumont (short for Mississippi) is really looking forward to her 13th birthday and her savvy. All the Beaumonts are special; when they turn 13 they get a savvy. Her grandpa Bomba can make land, her grandma Dollop could gather the airwaves to her, her mom does everything perfectly, her brother Rocket makes electricity, and her brother Fish can create the weather. Only her poppa is without a Savvy. Then her poppa is a in a car accident and in the hospital. Mom and Rocket rush to be with him and leave the rest of the family home with Grandpa Bomba. In to their lives comes the preacher’s wife. She invades the house and starts taking care of everybody even if they don’t want it. Instead of the quiet birthday with family Mibs wants, she gets a full-blown party at the church with everyone she from school. Mibs can’t take it and decides she has to get to Salina to be with poppa. She hides out on a big pink bible sales bus, but she is not the only stowaway. Fish and her other brother Samson join her on the bus as well as the preacher’s kids Bobbi and Will Jr. Bobbi is a typical teen with a crush on Rocket, but is really lonely. Will Jr. is the same age as Fish and has a secret.
Mibs, Fish, Samson, Bobbi and Will along with the bus driver Lester and hitchhiker Lil embark on a journey delivering bibles, gaining strength in themselves and discovering who they really are and what they are capable of. Mibs learns what her savvy is and how to use it. Fish finally learns to scumble his savvy and not let it control him. Bobbi loosens up and learns to be a real friend. And Will tells his secret and opens up to Mibs. They finally do make it to Salina Hope Hospital and Poppa.
This story is a wonderful journey of self-discovery. I really enjoyed all the characters and their savvys. I thought Law did a great job creating a story that was interesting, different and fun. Mibs is a typically young girl; she has problems at school and at home. She wants to do so much but is not always successful in her attempts. I really enjoyed the family relationships in this book. Little Samson really steals the show in the book! I listened to the audiobook and the narrator does a great job. I will definitely have to check out Scumble.
What book has all of my favorite genres in one? The Diviners. It is historical fiction with a murder with paranormal fantasy elements mixed in to both the main characters lives and the mystery. Fun and full of atmospheric descriptions and twists and turns in the mystery plot.
Evie O’Neill has embarrassed her family in small town Ohio and been shipped off to live with her uncle in 1920s New York City—and she is pos-i-toot-ly thrilled. Her parents want her to stay out of trouble and calm down but New York is the city of speakeasies, shopping, and movie palaces as well as where her best friend from childhood lives. Soon enough, Evie is running with a glamorous Ziegfield girl and a rakish pickpockets. When a rash of occult-based murders comes to light, Evie’s uncle is called in by his police friend as a consultant and Evie winds up right in the middle of the case. But Evie has her own secret. Her mysterious power that got her in trouble in her hometown and makes her feel different from everyone else her age, but can it help her solve the mystery and what secrets do her new friends have?
My only disappointment was that I didn’t know when I started that book that it was book one of a series. But that just means you get to spend more time with Evie, her uncle and all the other characters in books to come!
What would happen if all of Earth’s music is beloved by all of the alien cultures out there in space and then they discover the Earth’s copyright laws and that they owe us gazilions of billions of dollars? Would they try to reach a legal settlement, try to hide the fact, copy all the music and blow up the Earth and go on…
Find out in this fun science fiction novel, .
Every Christmas Kate Kingsbury has a new cozy mystery with a holiday theme. The owners of Pennyfoot Hotel, Cecily and Baxter, look forward to the holidays because their hotel is always full of guests. This year a series of murders has scared a few guests away. The Christmas Angel is killing it’s victims and then sticking a gold angel on their foreheads. Also a lock of hair is cut off. The staff are also worried since they don’t want to be the next victim. Cecily has promised her husband that she won’t help the local constable although in the past she has been successful in solving murders. I’ve been reading this series since the beginning so I know all the local characters and staff of the hotel. Room With a Clue is the first book if you like to read a series in order. They are easy to follow and a fun read.
Before Hudson Avery’s dad left, she thought her life was all about figure skating. She had her future all planned out. Win regionals, go on to the Olympics, become a pro skater. Then she finds out her happy family isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Now, Avery’s a girl who’s had her hopes dashed and her heart broken, no longer skating or following her dreams. Baking cupcakes and dreaming about what could have been, Avery works at her mother’s diner to help make ends meet, and avoids facing her past.
When she receives a second chance to fulfill her dreams of becoming a professional skater, she must discover what she wants and decide how much she is willing to sacrifice to get there. A quick read, this book is all about sacrifices, understanding what is truly important in life, and realizing that your decisions do affect more people than just yourself.
This is a super story of two young boys and their experiences at a carnival around Halloween time. This was no ordinary carnival, though, it was conducted by very strange supernatural beings who were collecting people. There was a caliope ride that could make one much older or younger than when they got on, with surprising results. There was also a mirror house that few people escaped from, at least in the way they were when they entered. The Illustrated Man, who ran the circus wanted the two boys and almost caught them until they were rescued by the library janitor, father of one of the boys. This story brings to mind the beautiful and scary things one remembers from a circus and is very easy to pull you into the scene – hard to put down.
When Mack and Cece began working in the same restaurant, they never thought they’d be falling in love. Mack is quiet and has difficulty looking anyone in the eye. He also has a record, which he is certain will prevent anything good from happening in his life. Cece is a hard-working girl who hopes her studying will be her ticket out of her life. Mack’s saving grace is his habit of pit bull rescue. It’s the only thing that makes him feel calm. That and his best friend, Anthony, who also happens to be Cece’s brother. Cece hates dogs, but loves her brother dearly. When Anthony decides to enlist in the military, everyone is rattled. Anthony asks Mack to keep an eye on his sister for him and tells Cece to accept Mack’s company. Fortunately, Mack and Cece have started to realize that they have a genuine connection. Mack is even able to cure Cece’s fear of dogs by introducing her to his newest rescue, a pit that he has personally trained and intends to give to Cece and her family.
It’s all very sweet and the pair are happier than they’ve ever been. Until the the unthinkable happens and Mack finds himself in jail, this time for up to 25 years. Cece is heartbroken and Mack, hoping that Cece will move on, refuses to let her see him in jail.
This is a truly heartbreaking story. Mack and Cece have not had easy lives, so to see them lose what means the most to them is tough on the reader. Even tougher is the whole dog-rescue animal. As a major dog-lover, I was close to tears more than once. The ending was a bit on the predictable side, but readers will certain latch on to these characters and their situations.
The first thing you need to know: this is not like most other coming-of-age stories. Lucky Linderman has been bullied by Nader McMillan ever since they were in elementary school. Nader is the worst sort of bully; the type that picks on anyone smaller and weaker, yet still manages to charm adults into thinking he’s a stand-up guy. Lucky is a genuine stand-up guy, but doesn’t really know it yet. He’s too scared to face his personal demons. His parents are both completely absorbed in their own lives, so Lucky is more or less on his own. Added to the mix is the long-standing family drama of having lost his paternal grandfather in Vietnam. Not “lost” as in “died”, but MIA. The spectre of the Linderman hangs heavy over Lucky, who was named for his grandfather. In Lucky’s dreams, he goes again and again into the jungle on rescue missions to free his grandfather from POW camps. In Lucky’s real life the bullying gets so bad, his mother decides it’s time for her and her son to take a trip to Arizona where she and Lucky will stay with Lucky’s aunt and uncle. There, Lucky is able, for the first time, to find a chance to be himself and remake his life on his own terms.
This is a really unusual book and I loved it for that. The juxtaposition of dream-time jungle prison escapades works so well against the backdrop of Lucky’s life. Other quirks here are the ants that only Lucky can see/hear who provide not only some comic relief, but also act as the little voice in Lucky’s head. He knows he shouldn’t see ants that provide running commentary on his life, but he’s willing to keep it to himself. I love the characters too. The friends and family in Lucky’s life are fully-realized and complex. A.S. King is also a master of pacing and each successive chapter reveals surprises that deepen the reader’s understanding as well as propelling the story along at a rapid pace. This will absolutely make my list of recommendations to the Gateway Committee. I think it has great potential for discussion and readers will very likely relate to Lucky in some way.
Eva, Christopher, Olivia, Kelly and Jason are all addicts and have all found themselves in the same rehab facility. Each has a different addiction that they believe defines them, but in the course of their treatment, they discover that they have far more in common than they had at first believed. Told in alternating narratives with journal excerpts and group session dialogues, the book details the wide variety of forms addiction can take. What really sets this book apart from the rest of the “teens-in-rehab” oeuvre are the characters themselves. Eva is addicted to alcohol and painkillers. She has lost her mother and her father has grown distant. Christopher is the only son of a morbidly obese, fanatically religious and completely oblivious mother. He has spent the vast majority of his young life in church and is home-schooled. Christopher is, on the surface, a good Christian boy. So why does he wind up in rehab for meth addiction? Olivia’s story is perhaps the saddest of all. Under pressure from her family to be as ambitious as they, Olivia begins taking the diet pills that her mother got her a prescription for. The diet pills take their toll and cause her to OD in the street while out for a run. Kelly loved alcohol and cocaine. Until she drove her car into the neighbor’s front porch. Jason is the angriest of all them. He’s an alcoholic weighed down by terrible guilt. They’re an odd bunch and none would likely have been friends outside of the rehab center, but over the course of a month, they’ll realize that these are the best friends they’ve ever had.
Completely compelling and slightly off-beat, this problem novel rises above many of the others. There are no easy answers here and there’s no way to tell whether their stint in rehab is enough to keep these kids sober. Hopefully teens going down this path will pick up this book and see a bit of themselves in it, enough to pause and consider their own situation. A listing of resources for drug addiction at the end would have been beneficial, however. This is an important issue and one that many teens may not know how to address.
Hannah is from Moldova, one of the poorest former Soviet states. After her parents die in a bombing, she is left to take care of what’s left of her family. She works hard every day helping her grandmother whose eyesight is failing. Things are tough, but they quickly get worse. One of Hannah’s uncles vanishes without a trace and Hannah is forced to drop out of school to support her family. When she is approached by a friend of her aunt’s with an offer to move to America to work as a nanny, she jumps at the chance. She is promised $400 a week, which she plans to send home so that her grandmother can get the eye surgery she so desperately needs. She begins her journey from Moldova with nothing but hope, but things start going wrong from there on out. Her passport is taken and she is given a fake name. She is told to “act Russian” or she’ll be caught and sent to jail. She does her best, still acting in good faith. When she meets the family she will be a nanny for, she hopes for the best. Unfortunately, the mother of the family is angry and exacting. Hannah is rarely, if ever, allowed to leave the house and, when she asks for her payment, she is told that she actually owes the family for her travel and agent fees. Hannah had hoped to be able to send money home and take English classes at night. Her disappointment at being forced to work all day and all night is palpable. She adores the children, but constantly lives in fear of their parents. When she does something that the mother of the family doesn’t like, the punishments get increasingly severe. Escape is not an option. Hannah fears imprisonment and is told over and over that if anyone suspects she isn’t legal, she will be sent to jail and beaten. She is also told that her friends and family back in Moldova are at risk if she doesn’t obey.
While Hannah’s story is fictional, the circumstances she experiences are not unusual. Hundreds of thousands of people are trafficked into other countries to become slaves. Some are domestic slaves, like Hannah, some are forced into prostitution (which Hannah is threatened with), some are forced to fight in armies or militias; there are many types of human trafficking and all of them are illegal. Unfortunately, in many cases, the victim is threatened with violence against them or their loved ones. They are often told they’ll be the ones in trouble for illegally being in the country to which they have been transported. In some countries, this can actually be the case. The plight of those who have been trafficked is rarely addressed in YA fiction, which makes this book all that much more important. Moreover, it is a well-written and fast-paced story; guaranteed to keep the reader on edge as Hannah’s fate plays out.
As the book begins, Alex has just had a fight with his family about going to visit his cousins in Illinois. He gets his way and stays home for the weekend. As he’s playing World of Warcraft, the power goes out and the noises begin. The next thing he knows, a giant projectile has crashed through the roof of his house and set it on fire. He manages to escape the burning house, but quickly realizes his problems are just beginning. Yellowstone has just erupted, and it’s the largest eruption in human history. Even though Alex is over 900 miles away in Cedar Rapids, IA, he is deafened by the ensuing noise. By this time, ash is beginning to fall from the sky and the light is diminishing rapidly. As soon as the noise dies down, Alex decides he is going to find his family. Thus begins a 140 mile trek across an ashen wasteland, populated by the occasional farm house with gun-wielding occupants, impromptu small town refugee centers and large-scale FEMA camps.
This is very dark and gritty. The threat of starvation and exposure appears to bring out the worse in the vast majority of those affected. Alex struggles to retain his humanity in the face of dire circumstances, which makes him an admirable character. Recommend this to fans of survival fiction, they won’t be disappointed.
I’ve been a long-time reader of “The Bloggess”, so when I found out that its author had a book coming out, I was pretty excited. I put it on hold and then waited. And waited. And then finally I got my hands on a copy and was not disappointed. I was a bit surprised, though, to find that it was more of a straightforward memoir than I was expecting. I had assumed that it would be mostly entries from her blog, so I figured I would have read most of the book already. I was wrong. But in a good way. Lawson takes it all the way back to her rather unusual childhood in Western Texas and reveals the numerous speed-bumps along the way. From her experiences with her eccentric taxidermist father, to her struggles with OCD and anxiety, all the way to raising a child with her long-suffering husband, Victor; nothing is held back. The result is a hilarious, if painful, tale of acceptance and healing.
Jason Stafford has made some bad choices in his life. One of them got him a prison sentence, he took the fall for a bad trade deal at his Wall Street job. The other was marrying a super model with no clue how to handle money or a relationship. After he did his time he decides to take care of his autistic son since his ex is incapable. He gets hired as a consultant at another Wall Street firm when one of the traders is murdered. It gets interesting when he is followed by the FBI and his ex wife’s new husband attacks him. I really like this story and the author, who is a former Wall Street director, does a good job of explaining the ins and outs of this stressful job without making it too complicated. Jason tries to find a way to communicate with his son and try to live a normal life. I’m happy to find a new author to follow.
Kiera Allen and Kellan Kyle are together after a love triangle that almost ruined everything. They have decided to stay together and work on their relationship to make it last. Their only problem is that their relationship started in the worst of circumstances and now Kellan has been offered his dream that will test their relationship.
Reluctantly I read Effortless the second book after Thoughtless. I say reluctantly because Thoughtless was so frustrating! Not just because I wanted to scream at the characters to grow up and grow some balls, but also because the book was just to detailed for me. But, I could not resist any longer, curiosity wanting to know what happens in the second book, and boy am I happy I read it. I laughed and cried, and was genuinely surprised by the characters. Of course there were still frustrations from the two main characters Kiera and Kellen, but still well worth the read.