Saturday, July 26, 2014

Review: Bewitched in Oz

Bewitched in Oz
Bewitched in Oz by Laura J. Burns

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Zerie has been told to hide her magic. It is against the law for any of the common people to practice magic. If they are caught, the magic is taken from them and in the process some of their memories disappear also. Zerie and her two closest friends all have magic and are secretly practicing with each other. When a flying monkey takes away one of the girls, Zerie and two companions set out to find Glinda the Good. They have been told that she is the only one who can help them against the Princess Ozma.

Bewitched in Oz is the first book in what is clearly a new series. Some of the world will be familiar with readers of the original Oz series, yet the events in this book takes place many years after Dorothy’s adventures. The overall story is shallow, yet the twist at the end was unexpected and causes me to consider looking for the next book in the series. Bums does not create too many characters and the few main characters learn truths about themselves and those around them in a predictable sequence. This is being promoted as a children’s book and will probably be too simple for teens to get into. Middle school students looking for an escape read will find this a possibility.

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Review: Some Boys

Some Boys
Some Boys by Patty Blount

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The only reason Grace went to the party that night was in the hopes of seeing Ian, but when too much drinking leads to her being raped by the school’s golden boy, she is called a liar and a slut. No one believes her, including her family. Through a series of unrelated events, Grace and Ian are given the punishment of cleaning the student lockers. Not only is Grace required to work side by side with her crush, Ian is also the best friend of the boy who raped her. Will Grace find friendship and healing?

Some Boys is told in alternating chapters between Grace and Ian. One of the interesting aspects of this book is when they both tell about events they both were present for. The reader discovers what happened to the first character and then when the next chapter is started, the reader has to back up in time to see it from a different point of view. I liked that we were able to know what each of these teens were thinking and feeling during these events. Blount’s writing style is easy to read and will be quickly devoured by teens and adults alike. Many deep and troubling truths are presented in this romance novel.

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Monday, July 21, 2014

Review: The Bridge from Me to You

The Bridge from Me to You
The Bridge from Me to You by Lisa Schroeder

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Colby’s father wants him to have his best football season so that he can get a scholarship for college. Colby has no problem going to college, but doesn’t want to play football. He wants to study how to design bridges. Lauren has a secret. She has left her family and is now living with her aunt and uncle in this small town. When Colby and Lauren meet, there is an instant spark. They want to trust each other, yet they have a pull toward their own priorities.

The Bridge from Me to You is a romance novel with something for male and female readers. The story is told in alternating chapters between Colby and Lauren. Colby’s football practices and college sport issues are enough to make the story complete, but not so much that this would be considered a sports book. The small town atmosphere with a priority on high school football is something that many teens and adults will have never experienced, yet the reader will enjoy the tale and yearn for Lauren and Colby to find a path to their dreams. I recommend this quick read to anyone who enjoys a realistic fiction escape.

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Saturday, July 19, 2014

Review: The Young World

The Young World
The Young World by Chris Weitz

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The youth in Washington Square are survivors. A mysterious illness has killed the very young and the adults and only those in the middle age group are alive. They have pulled their resources and expertise to adapt to a world without modern amenities, yet they hope for a cure before they also bite the dust. When one of their group believes he has discovered a clue to the Sickness, they head outside of their secure home and begin an adventure that they hope will save mankind. Unfortunately, not all survivors are friendly and they must cross other people’s territory in order to arrive at their destination.

The Young World is a post-apocalyptic adventure in a time that seems to be bubbling with post-apocalyptic YA stories. Even though this type of story is a current trend, Weitz is able to create a believable world with realistic characters. There was no point in my reading that I felt like saying, “Yeah, right!” What the boys and girls went through would be a possibility in a world gone wild and their responses are completely understandable. This is the first book in a trilogy, yet the main component of the story is wrapped up before the end with a new twist woven in to leave a cliff hanger for the reader. It is not a throw the book across the room cliffhanger, but it is enough of a tease to leave the reader with anticipation.

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Friday, July 18, 2014

Review: The Fortune Hunter

The Fortune Hunter
The Fortune Hunter by Daisy Goodwin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Charlotte is a dream catch. She is due to inherit a fortune; she is smart and very accomplished. Her heart is quickly claimed by Captain Bay Middleton who is known to be a ladies man and they agree to a secret engagement. In rides the Empress Sisi of Austria. Even though she is a grandmother, she is desired by every man including the Captain. He wants to be faithful to Charlotte, yet the pull of Sisi is more than he anticipated. As duty and attraction fight in Bay’s mind he lets his heart lead him around and the choices he makes creates ripples through the countryside.

The Fortune Hunter is an historical fiction story based on a real nineteenth century Empress and a suspected affair with an English Captain. Readers who are looking for a romance with deep characters and not a lot of lusty details will be pleased with this story. Goodwin’s readers will be delighted with this latest novel and will quickly devour the pages. Charlotte is not a weak socialite willing to do what her elder’s say and she has no problem making choices about her own future. Since this is a standalone novel, readers can pick it up at any time and enjoy the richness of a time long gone by.

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Monday, July 14, 2014

Review: The Burnouts

The Burnouts
The Burnouts by Lex Thomas

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It has now been two years since the outbreak of the deadly virus and the quarantine of Will’s high school. He has reunited with his brother, David, and they believe everything is going great. They are outside of the school and helping create a better world. What they soon find out is that Lucy is all alone. She has no gang, no hope and she is pregnant. David and Will must make a crucial decision. Will they risk their lives for the girl that both of them fell in love with? Is there any hope of the quarantine ending?

The Burnouts is the third and final book in the Quarantine trilogy. Readers who enjoyed the fast pace and rolling action of the first two books will thoroughly devour this installment. It is hard to review this particular book without giving away any key points, but the ending will give the readers hope in the midst of despair and they will be left with some unanswered questions. All in all this is a great series and will pull in many male and female reluctant readers. Readers … please start with the first book before the second and third.

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Saturday, July 12, 2014

Review: yolo

yolo by Lauren Myracle

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Maddie, Zoe and Angela have always been best friends, yet they have decided to go to three different colleges. Maddie is in California, Zoe is in Ohio, and Angela stayed in Georgia. All are having issues. Maddie’s suite-mates all went to high school together and she feels as if she is the eighth wheel, Zoe is worried that her boyfriend, Doug, wants to break up with her since he is also at a different school and Angela is questioning whether she really wants to pledge to be a Zeta.

YOLO is the fourth book in the Internet Girls series and readers who have enjoyed the previous books will completely devour this one. If you are new to this series, feel free to jump into this book. It is a story all its own and can be read by itself. All of the information is given to the reader in texts and instant messages. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Skype are all referenced throughout, but the reader only knows what the characters share in the texts and IMs. Myracle has created another quick read that explores issues relevant today and presents it in a fun format.

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Friday, July 11, 2014

Review: Welcome to the Dark House

Welcome to the Dark House
Welcome to the Dark House by Laurie Faria Stolarz

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Justin Blake is having a contest. Individuals can enter by writing an essay about their worst nightmare in 1000-words or less. Seven essays will be selected and the winners will receive a behind the scenes look at his newest project. The winners include Ivy, who dreams about the man who killed her parents; Parker, who won’t go in water due to his fear of sea serpents; Garth, a horror film fan and a few others with their own quirks. The group quickly realizes that the seventh member of the group is missing and their time away with Justin Blake includes more than what they were expecting.

Welcome to the Dark House is a scary book on par with the Scary Movie series. The fear is only surface deep for the reader, yet they will still follow the characters through the events taking place. Readers should not expect a thriller. This is more of a tongue in cheek … you know what is coming next, read. Stolarz does not create very deep characters since there are so many main characters, yet they are still fun to read about. A fun book that would make a great escape read.

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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Review: One Past Midnight

One Past Midnight
One Past Midnight by Jessica Shirvington

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Every night at midnight Sabine switches lives. It is the only thing that she has ever known and she must keep the lives separate. Some physical changes do not go with her (hair dye, piercings … etc.), but injuries do and she must experience everything twice. She is getting ready to celebrate her 18th birthday, but between the two lives it should be her 36th. Then things changed. She missed a step and broke her arm. How is she supposed to explain this in her other life? Maybe she should fall down the stairs after the Shift so that there won’t be questions. That night when she wakes up in her other life she realizes that her arm is not broken. This is a first and she wonders if it has anything to do with her birthday. She has developed a series of experiments to see how far she can push it. Will it be possible to end one life and live the other?

One Past Midnight is a captivating story that pulls readers in and keeps their attention locked down the entire time. Although there are two lives taking place, Sabine’s consciousness is the same in both and that creates a story that easily flows after midnight. How can Sabine decide which life to keep? What will be the tipping point to help her decide which life or both lives? As I got to the end of the book I didn’t want to put it down. I wanted to know how it would end and what the consequences would be. As I read the last page I thought to myself, “Wow! That was a great read!”

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Sunday, July 6, 2014

Review: Mindwar

Mindwar by Andrew Klavan

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Rick has withdrawn into his room and online gaming in order to escape two catastrophes that happened close together. His father suddenly left his family to return to a college girlfriend and a car accident that seriously injured his legs and stopped his football plans. He is avoiding his old friends and his girlfriend in order to wallow in his own misery. During a walk that his brother and mother guilt tripped him into, he is abducted and told he is the nation’s best chance against a new threat. The Realm was created so that terrorists could attack real people through cyber space. This Mindwar may seem like any other computer game, but if a person is injured or dies in The Realm their body is also affected in the real world. These agents would like Rick to help them, but since he may lose more than a game it is completely voluntary. Can Rick confront his deepest fears and survive The Realm?

Mindwar is the first book in a new series by Andrew Klavan. There is a lot of world building and character development in this book and Klavan does a great job of still including a strong story with a definite ending. Many questions are left unanswered and there are a lot of avenues for the story to branch out and develop. Readers will want to follow the adventures to come and Klavan has opened the way for a prequel series with some of the supporting characters.

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Friday, July 4, 2014

Review: Sacrificial Muse

Sacrificial Muse
Sacrificial Muse by Maegan Beaumont

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Detective Sabrina Vaughn is still recovering from psychological and physical damage she endured during the events chronicled in “Carved in Darkness.” Every day she receives nine red roses from an unknown person and passes them off to different people within her department. She doesn’t think much about this until the day she receives eight roses, a Berkeley student is murdered and the killer begins to send her messages and clues. Through circumstances beyond her control, she must work with the newspaper reporter who has been airing all of her dirty laundry and must complete her investigation outside of official police business. Why has this new psychopath targeted her? Can she stop him before all nine roses are gone?

Sacrificial Muse is the second book in the Sabrina Vaughn series. I highly advise readers to start with the first book and ride the experience into this tale. Both books will hook the reader from the beginning and keep them guessing who the perpetrator is. Unfortunately, if the reader starts with this book, it will spoil many elements if they wish to return to the first volume. Beaumont has truly created a cast of characters that are easy to understand and love. Reader will try and decide who is out for Sabrina, but hopefully they are able follow the clues and deduce along with this feisty detective. I gave the first book 5-stars and am shocked that I am giving the second book 5-stars. Most second books fall flat, but I am glad to say this breaks the mold.

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Thursday, July 3, 2014

Review: Altaica

Altaica by Tracy M. Joyce

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An enemy is at their doorstep and Isaura convinces her father and others to flee on a vessel to a foreign land. Many didn’t want to leave and when the voyage seems to take too long and supplies begin to run low the ship’s moral becomes weaker. As sickness begins to take its toll, members of the group learn dark facts about Isaura and redouble their doubts and start to question her every action. It doesn’t help that she is of a different race than those around her and many superstitions fuel the group’s fear. During the flight across the water, Isaura’s power is recognized by a person in another land, and it is the efforts of this person that dramatically changes the path Isaura’s life is heading.

Altaica is the first book in a new fantasy series. Although the book is Isaura’s story, she is not the only main character. Many subplots are happening and the events of those stories are told through other people’s voice. Joyce weaves these voices into a book that the reader should be able to follow without too many curled eyebrows. I found the intrigue and interconnected stories fascinating and will look forward to the next book. Unfortunately, I can’t tell my readers when this might be.  Altaica is an entirely new world with a rich history for readers to learn about, yet they won’t be inundated with so much minutia that they skim over large passages.

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