Friday, November 18, 2016

One Paris Summer by Denise Grover Swank

One Paris Summer 
by Denise Grover Swank
352 pages
Published by Blink

Plot: When Sophie and Eric’s father moved to Paris a year ago, the last thing they expected was to be coming to Paris for the summer to attend his wedding!  It’s even worse when their soon to be stepsister, Camille, is doing everything she can to make Sophie wish she never came.  The only thing keeping Sophie sane is the fact that her father promised to provide her a piano in order for her to practice for an upcoming competition.  But, when her father fails to come through with his promise, Sophie is lucky enough to meet a boy who can help.  The only problem is, this boy is friends with Camille, and Camille is not very fond of Sophie.  Can Sophie’s summer get any worse?

Review: One Paris Summer by Denise Grover Swank was such a fun read!  Sophie and Eric have to spend the summer in Paris with their dad who is going to get remarried and it is not something they are looking forward to. There is a lot of hurt and anger towards their father and when Sophie's dad fails to deliver his promise to provide her with a piano to practice for a competition, it makes it even worse.  In addition, her soon to be step-sister, Camille, is making Sophie’s life miserable. Luckily, a cute Parisian boy named Mathieu comes to her rescue by offering his mother’s piano to practice on.  Swank does a great job in portraying the feelings of real teenagers. Lots of drama, young love, sibling rivalry, and family issues makes this story connect well with readers and makes it even harder to put down! Recommend for 14 and up.

Rating: 4 Hearts

Rich Mom Smart Mom by Kimberly Palmer

Smart Mom, Rich Mom 
by Kimberly Palmer
257 pages
Published by AMACOM

Review: Smart Mom, Rich Mom by Kimberly Palmer is filled with great ideas and advice.  Has a great “to do” list that will help anyone get started.  Lots of practical advice for mothers to apply financial and investment strategies. There so much information in this book and I love how Ms. Palmer put this book together.   With a great easy to read layout, it's a must read for every mother!  
Rating: 5 Hearts

Sweetness by Christy Jordan

by Christy Jordan
304 pages
Workman Publishing Company 2016

Review: Sweetness by Christy Jordan was wonderful!  Full of recipes you'll want to make over and over!  Don't worry they are easy to make and the directions are simple to follow.  So, even if you are a newbie baker you'll be just fine!  Oh, the muffin varieties are the best!  A must have for your kitchen shelf!

Rating: 5 Hearts!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

An Ember in the Ashes
 by Sabaa Tahir
480 pages
Published by Razorbill

Plot: When Laia's brother is arrested for treason, she seeks out those who would help to free him.   But, when she seeks the help of the Resistance, a group of rebels determined to overthrown the Martial Empire, she finds more questions than answers.  Amd, after agreeing to become a spy in return for their help, Laia realizes the secrets and dangers go even deeper the more involved she becomes.

Under the Martial Empire everyone is a slave, even if you are their finest solider like Elias.  Determined to graduate from the military academy at Blackcliff, Elias makes plans to desert and be free from his duties, much of which include killing innocents.  But, before he can do so he crosses paths with a slave named Laia who complicates his plan of escape.  To makes matters worse, he's chosen to compete for the chance to become the new Emperor.  A opportunity he doesn't want but can't refuse.

Review:  I LOVED this book.  I can't say that enough.  I though the story was so original and interesting!  I really enjoyed the POV switch between Laia and Elias and think their relationship was developed really well.  As much as I disliked the Commandant, she was a very good villain.  You never knew what she was going to do!  Very unpredictable and kept me on the edge of my seat!  Everything about this story was great and it's definitively one of my favorites so far this year.  CANNOT wait to read book 2.  Recommend for 14 and up!

Rating: 5 BIG hearts!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

A Week of Mondays by Jessica Brody

 Plot: Ellison Sparks has the perfect boyfriend and couldn't be happier with her life.  Tristan is everything Ellie could want.  He's super popular, gorgeous, and the lead singer in a rock band. To the annoyance of her best friend Owen, Ellie will do anything to keep Tristan happy.  Even if it means not being completely herself.  But, after their first fight, Tristan suddenly breaks up with Ellie and she pleads to the universe for a do-over.  Soon, she realizes that her wish has been granted and comes up with all sorts of plans to prevent Tristan from breaking up with her.  Monday keeps repeating itself, and Ellie is going crazy because no matter what she does to change her first Monday, Tristan still breaks up with her by the end of the day.  Ellie must figure out how to make things right; otherwise, she'll repeat the same Monday forever. 

Review: A Week of Mondays by Jessica Brody was so much fun to read! I couldn't put it down! Ellie's character is very lovable and your cheering for her right from the start.  And, even though you want to dislike Tristan for breaking up with Ellie- over and over again - he still is a very likable character that you still find yourself rooting for.  Owen is such a sweet and loyal best friend that you know will give Ellie a hard decision to make in the end.  If you love Ground Hog Day with a hilarious Y.A. twist, your're gonna love this book!

Rating:  5 out of 5 stars

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Reign of Shadows by Sophie Jordan

Plot: On the day Princess Luna was born, there was an eclipse that brought a darkness across the whole world. And with the darkness came the Dwellers, monsters from under the earth that now have the ability to stay above ground for much longer.  On the same day, Luna's parents were betrayed and killed by High Chancellor Cullen.  But among all the chaos of that fateful day, Luna was saved by a guard and whisked away into the dark woods.  Seventeen years later, the eclipse continues to darken the world and the dwellers have killed and consumed most of the kingdom.  Raised in a tower in a cursed forest all her life, Luna stays with her rescuers Sivo and Perla.  But, Luna longs to leave the tower and live her life - however long or short that may be.  Outside, the threat of the dwellers are relentless and the dangers too great for them to even consider leaving.  But, on a quest to show Sivo that she can survive the outside on her own, Luna leaves the tower only to find a young man named Fowler and two siblings in need of her help.  She brings them back to the tower with her, only to trigger a course of events that will change her world and her heart forever.  
Review: Full of adventure, action, and romance, Reign of Shadows was a great read from start to finish!  Luna and Fowler had such a beautiful connection and I loved how their feelings for each other developed over the course of the story.  You can sense that Jordan was slightly inspired by the story of Rapunzel in her novel, but I definitely wouldn't call this a retelling.  With Fowlers troubled past and Luna's uncertain future, their story is one I can't wait to read more about. Perfect for Y.A. readers 13 and up!

Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars!

Friday, July 29, 2016

Ruined by Amy Tintera

Ruined by Amy Tinera
355 pages
(Published by Harper Teen)

Plot: When Emelina Flores' parents are brutally murdered and her sister Olivia taken away by the King of Lera, she plots revenge.  The King of Lera fears the magic powers of the Ruined people and will stop at nothing until every last one of them is dead. Unfortunately, not all Ruined are born with magic, and Em is one of those powerless few - even though her mother was a very powerful Queen. But, with the help of her Ruined friends, Aren and Damien, Em comes up with a plan to infiltrate the Lera throne by marrying Prince Casimir.  Pretending to be a princess from another kingdom, Em, along with Aren, have successfully tricked the Lera royals.  But, Prince Casimir is not what Em expected him to be, and the more time she spends with him she realizes he's nothing like his father.  Falling for the prince was not part of the plan, but everything Em holds dear rides on her playing her part.  Em must choose between her people and her love, but either one is deadly.

Review:  Ruined by Amy Tintera was one of the best books I've read so far this summer.  It's right up there with the Winner's Curse series by Marie Rutkoski.  Tintera does a great job bringing Em's world to life and she has you really caring for the characters.  I enjoyed the gradual relationship between Em and Cas. It was very believable since Em had a lot of tragedy and anger to deal with.  I also enjoyed the POV switch between Em and Cas throughout the story.  It gives the readers a lot of insight as to why certain characters act the way they do.  I'm very curious as to the extent of the Ruined powers.  Tintera gave us just a taste of it with Aren and Olivia. There is a lot at stake for Em and Cas with all the bad blood between Lera and the Ruined, so it's hard to see how they would ever be able to continue their relationship.  A fast-paced, and exciting read I just couldn't put down until the last nail-biting page! Recommended for ages 13 and up.
Rating:  5 out of 5 stars! A Must Read!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Lazy Crafternoon by Stella Fields

Lazy Crafternoon by Stella Fields
128 Pages
(Published by Capstone for Young Readers)

Review: Lazy Crafternoon by Stella Fields is the perfect craft book for easy DIY maker-spaces for libraries, or for spending time with your kids creating fun projects at home!  I was pleasantly surprised at all the different craft ideas that were not just creative, but easy to do!  From lamp shades to flower pots and from birdhouses to school supplies!  There is so much to choose from that you will definitely find a project to enjoy every afternoon!

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Dream Casters: Light by Adrienne Woods

 Dream Casters: Light by Adrienne Woods
436 Pages
(Published by Fire Quill Publishers)

*I received a DRC of this book for an honest review.

Plot: 17 year-old Chastity "Chas" Blake was your normal teenager until one day golden sand started coming out of her hands.  She soon finds out from her mother that she is a Dream Caster.  A being who can not only control dreams, but also create anything she wants from the sand she wields.  But, although her father was a Light Caster, her mother is a Shadow Caster.  Which means, light and dark sand can flow through Chas' hand and it's up to her to choose.  But, being a Shadow Caster means you cast nightmares and not dreams.  And, you don't get to live in the beautiful Light Caster's realm of Revera. So, Chas' mother doesn't want her to be like her because then she will be sent to Oblivion - a place of horrendous nightmares.  When Light Casters find out about Chas, they want to take her to Revera.  But, this means she will be taken away from her mother and that's not something she wants.  

So, Chas' mother comes up with a plan to hide her Shadow Caster heritage, but when she is taken to Revera she is afraid to show her sand because she doesn't know if it will be gold or black.  With the help of Leigh, a mysterious boy from the virtual realm of Revera, Chas is trying to figure out a way to stay out of Oblivion and reconnect with her mother.  But, keeping her Shadow Caster secret is not her only problem. Shadow Casters are looking for Chas and after a few attacks, Chas' presence is starting to raise suspicion among Revera's leaders. Chas' only hope is to hide her dark side by not using her sand.  But, when the world of Revera is threatened to the point of extinction, Chas will have to decide if the life of her friends is worth being exiled to Oblivion forever.

Review: Dream Casters by Adrienne Woods is a very imaginative and interesting story where dreams and nightmares have their own worlds - literally!  I loved the concept of Chastity being a combination of both Shadow and Light.  The backstory of how Revera and Oblivion came to be was a little confusing, but the reader will still be able to get the gist of it.  It will be interesting to see the relationship of Chas and Leigh in the second book.  He is real in the virtual realm, but not in Chastity's world.  So, she mostly sees him in her dreams or when she enters the virtual realm.  I am looking forward to the next book, which should give us more answers as to Chastity's Shadow Caster heritage, what happened to her mother, and Chastity's unique powers. Great start to a new series!  Recommend 13 and up.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

No Love Allowed by Kate Evangelista

No Love Allowed by Kate Evangelista
228 pages
(Published by Swoon Reads)

Plot: Caleb has one rule about relationships - Do not fall in love.  When his last girlfriend breaks his number one rule he dumps her.   However, he didn't know that his now ex-girlfriend is the daughter of his father's most wealthiest client.  Not wanting his gap year vacation to Europe taken away, Caleb has to work as an unpaid intern at his father's law firm and attend all their events and parties.  Now, Caleb desperately needs a fake girlfriend to help him uphold all his obligations.  He also needs someone to help keep the match-making mothers of his family's social circles at bay.  Didi Alexander, a recently fired waitress and aspiring painter, doesn't want to have a boring summer and is more than happy to be Caleb's fake girlfriend.  In return, she gets to enjoy parties and wear pretty new clothes.  And pretending to be a gorgeous, rich boy's girlfriend doesn't sound so bad either! But, Caleb makes it clear to Didi that she must not fall in love.  The only problem is, Caleb is having way too much fun with Didi and he can't stop thinking about her.  Soon, Caleb is the one who finds himself in trouble of breaking his own rule!

Review: No Love Allowed was a fun summer read! I really enjoyed Caleb and Didi's characters and how their relationship grew throughout the story. Evangelista added a good mix of romance and humor that really made this book hard to put down.  I liked that Didi and Caleb both had their issues and it was interesting to see how they dealt with them.  Caleb with his family issues and Didi with her health and financial troubles.  I also enjoyed how Didi always remained true to herself, even though her life had a lot of ups and downs. The other characters in the story, especially Caleb's cousin Nathan, were funny and really made Didi's experiences with Caleb even more entertaining. Recommend for readers 13 and up.

Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Girl of Myth and Legend by Giselle Simlett

Girl of Myth and Legend  by Gisselle Smilett
346 Pages
(Published by WWS Publishing, Ltd.)
*I was given a DRC (Digital Reader Copy for an honest review

Plot: On her 16th birthday, Leonie Wooville finds out that she is a Chosen, a being from another dimension.   Not only is she a Chosen, she is also a Pulsar.  But, Pulsars have been extinct for over 200 years in the Chosen's world of Duwyn.  Pulsars are the most valued beings in Duwyn because they have the most power.   But, Leonie was never told about her heritage by her parents and she doesn't know how to use her powers.  But Chosen people are not allowed to live in the human realm and so she is forced to travel to Duwyn.

All Chosen are assigned a Kytaen, an immortal being whose sole purpose is to protect the Chosen it is bonded too.  Soon, Leonie is bonded to Korren, a Kytaen who can shape shift into a hideous beast or a beautiful boy. But, Korren has been around for thousands of years and the last time he was forced to protect a Pulsar was 200 years ago.  He hates that Kytaen are considered slaves to the Chosen.  He especially hates the leaders of Duwyn who treat his kind as if they are less than animals.  But, Leonie has a lot to learn about her role as a Pulsar, and desperately needs a friend to help understands her role in Duwyn.  But, Korren is determined to make the Chosen pay for what they have done to his kind for centuries. Yet, he is not prepared for Leonie, the girl from the human realm who treats him like her equal.  A girl who he so passionately wants to hate, but it's not as easy as he thought it would be. And the Kytaen are not the only ones with a reason to hate the Chosen and especially the Pulsar. There is a group of Duwyn rebels that want Leonie too.  The question is: What do they want her for, and how far are they willing to go to get her? 

Review: Girl of Myth and Legend was a very interesting read.  It did start off a little slow, but mainly due to world building. I think Leonie's character was a good portrayal of a teenager from a broken home and no friends. She had a lot of emotional ups and downs, which would make sense due to what she was dealing with. The story was pretty fast paced and action packed once Leonie got to Duwyn.  Korren was a well developed character with his tragic and mysterious past.  Simlett does a good job letting us see the two main characters through their own POVs, which I really enjoy in stories.

I did have trouble remembering the names of the characters and everything in Duwyn, so it was a bit confusing.  There were lots of characters with different roles, and each role had it's own name too.  You don't get to see Leonie's powers at all in this book, which I was hoping for towards the end. So, I'm hoping book 2 will reveal that.  I also wanted to see more of a connection between Leonie and Korren.  It's there, but very subtle.  I'm not sure how Korren really feels about Leonie.  He does fight his emotions a lot when it comes to her. So, although I would have liked to see his heart melt a little more, his past makes it easy to see why he wouldn't take to her for a while.  Very curious to see what happens in book 2! There were a lot of questions left unanswered, but I know it's to set up the next book. Looking forward to it!! Recommend for 13+ and up.

Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Monday, July 18, 2016

Love, Lies, and Spies by Cindy Ansty

Love, Lies and Spies by Cindy Anstey
344 pages
(Published by Swoon Reads)

Plot: When Miss Juliana Telford agrees to attend the Season with her cousin
Carrie, she did not intended to go on the husband hunt.  Instead, she would use her time in London to find a publisher for her and her father's research on the "lady beetle." Little did she know that safeguarding her heart would be more difficult than she initially thought.

Spencer Northam has no time for relationships, and especially no time for parties with The Ton and their silly marriage mart games once the Season begins.  However, his work at the war office has put this handsome bachelor directly in the center of what he wants to avoid.  Finding spies for the French has lead him in the company of Miss Juliana Telford, and somehow Spencer has to keep reminding himself that he has no time for relationships, and especially no time for love.

Review: Love, Lies and Spies by Cindy Anstey is a must read for any Jane Austen fan!  I completely adored this book.  Juliana and Spencer are both very likable characters and you cheer for them right from the beginning. Juliana is smart, good-hearted, but spunky too.  She is not one to be walked all over or fall for devious plots.  Spencer is the perfect gentleman and tries his best to balance his job, all while keeping a close eye on Juliana.  All for work purposes, of course.  Anstey has adds the perfect balance or humor and intrigue to keep the reading wanting to know what will happen next.  The story also alternates between Juliana and Spencer's POV, which I really enjoy in storytelling.  It gives the reader a better opportunity to get to know the main characters much better.  Recommended for 13+ and up.  A clean read.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Upcoming YA Reviews

Here is a glimpse into my summer reading!  These are a few of my upcoming book reviews, so stay tuned!  I do have more books I will be reading in addition to these, but here is a sneak peak! Not in any particular order.   

*The format of my reviews will be a little different than in the past - just an FYI.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Siren by Kiera Cass

Cass, K. (2016). The Siren. New York, NY: HarperTeen.

Plot Summary:  The Ocean is alive...and hungry.  To survive, she must feed off people her Sirens drown with their hypnotic voices. Kahlen couldn't know her life was about to change forever.  It was time to feed the Ocean when she was on cruise ship with her family.  The Sirens did their duty and brought all the passengers to their watery graves.  Except for one.  Kahlen was given the chance to live.  In return, she must serve the Ocean for the next 100 years as a Siren.

Review:  After 80 years of servitude, Kahlen is tired of the killing and the loneliness.  All she has ever dreamed of is to fall in love and have a family.  But, she still has 20 years of service left when she meets the boy of her dreams, Akinli.  A boy she desperately wants to have a future with.  But, Kahlen is trapped between her duty and her heart.  She is one of the oldest of the remaining Sirens and loves the other girls like sisters. She feels it's her duty to protect them and be the example, but she can't forget Akinli.  There are serious consequences for disobeying the Ocean, and Kahlen must choose just how much, and who, she is willing to risk for a chance at love.  

3.5 out of 5 Stars - The plot is interesting; however, I did struggle a little with the beginning.  It was a little slow to get to the more intriguing parts of the story. Kahlen is a likable character and you do feel for her situation because of everything she is dealing with.   Cass also does an amazing job in bringing the Ocean to life with her own personality.  I do feel Kahlen falls in love with Akinli way too quickly; however, Cass does explain why this love would happen so fast later in the story.  Kahlen's Siren sisters are an interesting and diverse bunch of girls with their own distinct voices and likable qualities.  Overall, a good read for any Cass fan or someone who enjoys mermaid type tales.  This is a stand alone novel and not part of a series.   Considered to be Y.A., but it's a clean read and middle grade audiences will enjoy as well.  Recommended for readers in grades 6 and up.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

More Y.A. reviews coming soon!

I've been out for a while, but my reading hasn't stopped and I plan on posting reviews of several books I've read over the past few months. Stay tuned!