Saturday, November 26, 2016
Like a River Glorious
By Rae Carson
Leah and her friends have arrived in California and are ready to stake their claims and make it rich. However, Leah's uncle Hiram is still desperate to use her "witchy" gold-finding talents to make it rich himself, and he sends an old enemy after her to help him get what he wants. Leah must find a way to defeat her uncle once and for all if she is ever to have peace and be free--and it will take all of her ingenuity and an improvement on her talents that she didn't know she had in order to best Hiram once and for all.
I love the historical fiction element of this series, showing the Gold Rush and settling California in a realistic light, combined with the slight twist of Leah's special power to find gold. Leah's a great character, and I love her friend Jackson's devotion to her, and I think the other supporting characters add so much to the book--without them, the story wouldn't be half as interesting. I love seeing the "family" they've cobbled together and how they look out for each other and care for each other. I'm excited to see what happens in the third book, with the new add-ins to their family. And I totally loved the ending!!
Tuesday, November 22, 2016
By Adele Griffin and Courtney Sheinmel; illustrated by Sara Palacios
This short chapter book follows best friends Agnes the pig and Clarabelle the chicken throughout the year. In the spring, the two of them plan a surprise birthday party for Clarabelle; in the summer, they confront Agnes's fear of the beach; in the fall, they survive a mishap at a store; and in the winter, it's time to make a special treat.
With cute characters, adorable illustrations, and funny stories, this is a great book for kids who are ready to move on from early readers. I received a copy through Net Gallery. All opinions are my own.
Monday, November 21, 2016
By Shannon Hale and Dean Hale; illustrated by LeUyen Pham
After fighting fifteen monsters this week, the Princess in Black is exhausted, so when a new monster-fighter, the Goat Avenger, suggests that she take a vacation while he watches out for monsters, the princess heads for the beach to rest and relax. When a sea monster threatens the people at the beach, though, Princess Magnolioa must transform into the Princess in Black once more.
The Princess in Black books are so much fun. The illustrations are awesome; they are cute and fun, and the fact that they are on nearly every page helps make the book extremely readable. The text is funny and simple but not baby-ish, making this a great choice for readers who ready to move beyond easy readers into short chapter books. Totally adorable and tons of fun!
*Although this is the fourth book in the series, the books don't really have to be read in order to be enjoyed.
I read a copy through NetGalley. All opinions are my own.
Sunday, November 20, 2016
By Lydia Syson
Sixteen-year-old Peggy, her mother, and her younger brother Ernest are living on their relatives’ farm near Romney Marsh. Ernest, who is awkward and fearful, is obsessed with the instructions they’ve been given about doing their part for the war effort and especially looking for spies. When Peggy finds a downed airman, Polish pilot Henryk, who can’t bear to return to flying and fighting after all that he was experienced, she knows she is supposed to report him, but she can’t bring herself to do it and helps him hide instead. As she continues to help him, their feelings for each other blossom and she can’t bear the thought of him leaving. But with Ernest’s curiosity as well as unwanted attention for others who are suspicious of their family, Peggy might not be able to keep him safe.
There were so many interesting facets to this book, including learning a little more about the Polish pilots who fought alongside the British RAF, the family dynamics (there’s a subplot involving Peggy’s father), persecution of those who don’t support the war efforts, and the emotional toll war takes on soldiers. I thought that the relationship between Peggy and Henryk would be my favorite part of the book, and while I did enjoy that part, I think what might have been most fascinating is seeing how Ernest tried to cope with all of the information and situations that he faced. I was a little disappointed in the ending—the final chapter didn’t have as much information as I would have liked, as it skips to the end of the war and doesn’t give much detail about what happened in the previous five years—but I think that’s my one quibble with the book. I received a copy from NetGalley. All opinions are my own.
Saturday, November 19, 2016
By Jennifer A. Nielsen
Ani has long heard about the Scourge—a disease that first surfaced in the land 300 years ago but now has returned. When two wardens capture her, saying the governor wants to test five River People for the Scourge, Ani is shocked—the River People have never gotten the Scourge—but also determined to escape. When she tests positive for the disease—after a not-so-pleasant meeting with the governor—Ani is forced to move to Attic Island, where all victims of the Scourge are sent to live out the remainder of their lives. Joined by her best friend Weevil, who goes to the island to be with her even though he has no signs of the disease, Ani can’t help but question everything going on there. After all, as one of the River People, she is feisty and determined and not one to bow down to authority, and even though her very nature puts her at risk, Ani refuses to be broken, especially as she and Weevil start to put the pieces together and find out the Scourge and the island aren’t what the governor has told everyone they are.
What a great story! I loved all of it. Ani was awesome—I loved how she could only stay out of trouble for about two minutes. And Weevil was a great compliment to her; I loved how they were determined to take care of each other. The plot was interesting; I liked seeing the clues unfold and figuring out what was really going on. The story moves quickly, with plenty of action and adventure as well as humor even in the dark situation. Highly enjoyable story!
Wednesday, November 16, 2016
By Jen Turano
Margo Hartman enjoys being a pop star, but she's ready for a break. So when her mother starts talking about an international tour, Margo dyes her hair, turns off her phone, and starts driving across the country to hide. Her plans hit a snag when she lands in a lake--literally--in an Amish village after being run off the road. And when someone shoots Margo, she winds up in the middle of a mystery she couldn't even begin to imagine. Margo finds the town creepily familiar and wonders if there's a reason she wound up there. Brock Moore, an FBI agent who accepted a temporary job policing the small town so he can also investigate his sister's death--which he refuses to believe was a suicide, as it was rule--quickly comes to Margo's aid, helping her hide from both her fans and her parents and trying to figure out who shot at Margo and why.
The book has lots of character--it's quirky and humorous. Margo and Brock have some pretty funny conversations, and the meddling side characters are fun, too. There were times, though, that it felt like a little too much--like Margo's mother was a little too crazy and her father a little too evil--and it seemed a little over the top. Overall, I liked the book, the mystery was interesting and unique, and I'm interested in reading the other books in the series--but I have to say that I like Jen Turnano's historical fiction quite a bit better.
I received an ARC through NetGalley. All opinions are my own.
Tuesday, November 15, 2016
By Louise Bradford and Christine Battuz
Although Wade's mother has warned him that his antlers will fall off, he is still upset when they start to wiggle. Afraid they'll fall off if he's too active, he sits out while his friends play. Eventually, though, he comes to realize that he'd rather play, too, and he will be okay if his antlers fall off.
This is a cute book about growing up and the changes that come. The illustrations are terrific! I love the colors, which cover most pages, and the patterned backgrounds. This is a really cute book that could be used to talk to children about anxiety about growing up.
I read a copy available through NetGalley. All opinions are my own.
Monday, November 14, 2016
Their Fractured Light
By Amie Kaufman and Megan Spooner
Sofia will do anything to get her revenge on Roderick LaRoux; he’s responsible for her father’s death, so she intends to repay him in kind. So she has learned how to read people, how to play on their sympathies and emotions, and how to reinvent herself to be whoever she needs to be in order to get closer and closer to LaRoux.
Gideon is a master hacker who wants to do more than just destroy LaRoux; he wants to take down all of LaRoux’s empire—and he’ll hunt down whoever is closest to LaRoux in order to exact revenge of his own. Used to hiding their true identities, neither Sofia nor Gideon is ready to bare all when their paths collide. But even as they can’t allow themselves to truly trust anyone, including each other, combining forces may be the only way to take down LaRoux and to save their entire universe from being destroyed.
I loved this book! I loved trying to guess what secrets Gideon and Sofia had and seeing what their motivations were and how they changed throughout the book. The plot was intense; there was so much action (but it wasn’t TOO much action), and it the book moved quickly. I couldn’t wait to see how things played out. I was also glad for the chance to see the main characters of the previous two books as they were brought into the story. Really exciting book; I couldn’t put it down!
Wednesday, November 9, 2016
By Sarah M. Eden
Corbin Jonquil has always been the quietest of the seven Jonquil brothers--which has been fine as he's been building up his business as a horse breeder. However, it doesn't work so well when it comes to interacting with women, and when widowed Clara Bentford moves to the neighborhood, Corbin finds himself wishing he knew the right things to say to get her to love him as he loves her. His brothers offer him advice, but each time he tries to put it into practice, it works out badly for him. Clara isn't used to kindness from men; in fact, she's used to anything but kindness. So her first impression of Corbin Jonquil is to think he's haughty or aloof. However, as she watches his kindness with her children, she comes to realize that maybe not all men will hurt her as she's been hurt in the past.
I like Corbin so much--maybe because he reminds me of my own husband, who isn't much of a talker but is definitely a do-er and takes care of me :) I loved seeing how he tried to follow his brothers' advice only to fail, but ultimately found he could be true to himself and still be worthy of love. I also liked seeing how kind he was with Clara's kids. I actually loved seeing his family's interference, how they all meant well but didn't really know what they were talking about--that led to lots of humorous moments and comments.This was another great clean romance novel from Sarah Eden and it gives hints of what's to come in the fourth book in the series, as Corbin's twin Jason has his chance at love.
Tuesday, November 8, 2016
Drops of Gold
By Sarah M. Eden
When her father's death leaves her destitute and no one to turn to, Marion lies about her name, her class, and her qualifications in order to obtain a position as a governess. When she arrives at Farland Meadows, she finds that Caroline, although really too young for a governess, is a delightful child but both she and her handsome but troubled father, Layton need more joy brought into their lives. Layton Jonquil is pleased with the changes in his daughter brought about the new governess and finds himself falling for her, but after the tragedy of his first marriage, combined with the difference in their stations, he can't allow himself to act on those feelings.
Yet another delightful read for fans of Regency romances in general and Sarah Eden's works in particular. Both Marion and Layton are endearing characters, and Caroline is adorable. Guest appearances of Layton's large family (including Phillip, hero of Friends and Foes) add to the fun. There's a good mixture of deep issues and humor, and there's really nothing not to like. (On a small side note...the issue of why a governess is hired instead of a nursemaid and the discrepancy in the salary occurs wasn't ever really explained, so I wasn't sure what the point of that little plot point was...and I would have liked a little bit more of an explanation.)
*I've read the book and listened to the audiobook as well and enjoyed both.
By Josi S. Kilpack
Walter Scott falls in love with Mina Stuart the first time he sees her—and spends the next five years planning their future together. Mina is flattered by Walter’s attention and swept up in his romantic flattery, but she doesn’t know for sure if her heart truly belongs to him...and when her parents encourage her to consider the attentions of William Forbes, she finds herself more torn than ever. Charlotte Carpenter is a Catholic, French-born orphan, with the added disadvantage of being the daughter of an adulteress, so she doesn’t expect to ever marry. She has made peace with that and is determined to learn how to be an independent woman, managing her own household and life. When she meets Walter Scott, though, she finds maybe she wants more—but is Walter’s heart free to love or does it still belong to Mina? I wasn’t at all familiar with Sir Walter Scott’s background before reading this book, so it was interesting to find out a little bit about him. I like how Kilpack showed his personality, his romanticism and idealism, contrasted with Charlotte’s more practical nature, while Mina’s hesitancy and doubts were realistic of a young girl figuring out her own heart. I was captivated by the story; I couldn’t wait to find out who Walter would end up with and how it would all work out. I was really tempted to peak ahead to the end of the book or do some quick internet research to find some answers, which I think is indicative of how well the author pulled me into the story. This would make a great book for discussion—there are some interesting points about true love and whether there is such a thing as love at first sight and how love grows. 5 stars.
Saturday, November 5, 2016
By Sondra Kraak
Mary is determined to save her family's dairy farm, which is her connection to her mother, who died giving birth to her. Her father, whose health prevents him from helping much on the farm anymore, is ready to sell, but Mary is set on finding a way to hold onto her mother's dream. Luke left home years ago to become a Texas Ranger, but now, both wounded and falsely accused of being in league with outlaws, reluctantly returns to the town he couldn't wait to leave. Back home, he is constantly crossing paths with Mary, and while they continue the banter that began in their childhood, this time, neither one can deny the attraction between them. But with Luke set on leaving again as soon as he can, and Mary squally set on staying, can they find a way to make things work?
I liked this book quite a bit more than the first book in the series. (I liked that one, just not as much). I loved Mary, who is sassy and strong a d tells it like it is. I loved Luke, who is haunted by his past and who might tease Mary but is also equally prone to run to help her. Seeing ? Luke come to terms with his past, seeing Mary's struggle to keep her farm, and seeing their relationship blossom were all satisfying and engaging plot lines. 5 stars.
Thursday, November 3, 2016
Saints and Sinners
by Josi S. Kilpack
Neville has never thought of Eloise as more than a friend--she's just Eloise. But when his friend Burke starts paying attention to her--and even goes so far as to suggest they try to see which of them can steal a kiss from her first--Neville starts to think of her differently. Eloise has long cared for her friend, and she can't help but hope that a Christmas ball will give them a chance to kindle a romance, but when instead of seeming to return her feelings, he chastises her for her choice of dress, it seems even maintaining their friendship might be too much to hope for...but Neville finds he'll do anything to see her happy. I loved seeing Neville come to terms with his feelings.
Although the plot line of boy-not-realizing-his-feelings-for-his-female-friend is a familiar one, it was still a fun story and I enjoyed seeing how things worked out. There were numerous misunderstandings in the story that kept the plot moving along well, and Neville and Eloise were both likeable characters.
The Christmas Angle
by Carla Kelly
Able Six has nothing to recommend him to any woman; he's on half-pay from his position as a master in the navy due to the current peace and he's a foundling with uncertain parentage who grew up in an orphanage. A friend from the Navy finds him a temporary position tutoring two young boys for a month, and Able takes the position, soon finding that he, who has an extraordinary mind and can read books in a matter of minutes and remember everything he's ever seen, has an aptitude for teaching. He also finds that he has an instant connection with his pupils' aunt, Meridee. As a gentlewoman with no dowry, she's not really in a position to marry, and even if she could, she's above Able in station, so a romance between them seems doomed.
When I first started reading this story, I didn't think I would like it much; I was a little confused by Navy aspect of things (I'm still not entirely sure what a Master does!), but I ended up absolutely loving it. Able and Meridee are such endearing, unforgettable characters, and their struggles were portrayed so realistically. I loved seeing how they ended up fighting for their romance--and Meridee punching Able's superior officer when he's lax in lending his aid was awesome! Totally loved this novella.
The Perfect Christmas
by Jennifer Moore
Archie is going to provide the perfect Christmas for his closest friends--Jonathan, who is overburdened by his responsibilities after the passing of his father; Maryann (Jonathan's wife), Mother Kathleen (Jonathan's mother), and Jane (Maryann's sister), who is only recently free from the home where her family sent her due to her periodic panic attacks. Archie is particularly hopeful that spending a simple Christmas at his country estate will be a peaceful, uplifting experience for this group--and that it will be the perfect opportunity for him to propose to Jane. However, when they arrive at his estate, they find that his letter with instructions for the servants to prepare the house never arrived, and they spend their Christmas in the gardener's cottage, roasting cheese and bread over the fire. Although it initially seems that all of Archie's plans are ruined, will this simple Christmas be exactly what they need?
It was touching to see how this group of characters cared for each other--not just Archie and Jane but the whole group. All of the characters were kind, and I liked seeing how they supported each other and enjoyed being together for their simple Christmas. This was a sweet story. I loved this collection. All of the stories were great! With clean romance, a Christmas theme, and great characters, there's nothing not to like about this collection. I truly enjoyed each story! I received a free copy of the book from the publisher. All opinions are my own. 5 stars.