Friday, April 29, 2011

Review: The Guardians of the Hidden Scepter by Frank L. Cole

Title:The Guardians of the Hidden Scepter
Publisher:Cedar Fort
Imprint:Bonneville Books
Pub Date:03/01/2011
Pages:          289

Amber never dreamed her archaeology class would turn into a top secret mission that would take her across the globe, but when her teacher goes missing, Amber realizes it's up to her to protect the Hidden Scepter or risk unleashing an ancient power too terrifying to imagine. This guaranteed page-turner from the bestselling author of the Hashbrown Winters series is perfect for the adventurer in your family.

(Summary and cover via Goodreads)


This book was fantastic! I did not want to put it down. The book follows Amber, a high school student with an apititude for puzzles and archaeology. After receiving a mysterious letter from their teacher, Amber and 3 fellow students start to worry about her. Their concern soon turns into an adventure that takes the around the world. 

I love having a strong, smart female character. I know there are others, but I feel like you can never have too many good role models for young women. Especially ones that show it is good to use your brain at all times. The story was fast paced, but it never felt rushed. I read half the book in one sitting without even realizing how much I had read. If I were a few years younger I probably would have finished it in one sitting. There were twists and turns that kept me on the edge of my seat.

This book had action and adventure in heaps. Someone calls Amber "Indiana Jane," and I think this is an accurate nickname. I was fascinated by the world and stories presented. I highly recommend this book if you like fun, fast reads full of peril and discovery. This book is set up perfectly for sequels, and I would love to have more of Amber and crew. This is a great book!

Galley provided by publisher for review.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Review: Between Two Ends by David Ward

Publisher:Abrams Books
Imprint:Amulet Books
Pub Date:05/01/2011

Pages:          304

When Yeats and his parents visit his grandmother's creepy old house, Yeats reunites a pair of pirate bookends and uncovers the amazing truth: Years ago, Yeats's father traveled into The Arabian Nights with a friend, and the friend, Shari, is still stuck in the tales. Assisted by the not-always-trustworthy pirates, Yeats must navigate the unfamiliar world of the story of Shaharazad--dodging guards and tigers and the dangerous things that lurk in the marg
ins of the stories--in order to save Shari and bring peace to his family. 

(Summary and cover via Goodreads)

The idea of being lost in a story is familiar to almost any avid reader. It's a reason many of us read. To escape the world and become part of a new one. This is what happens to young Yeats in Between Two Ends. He goes into a story to rescue someone who has become lost in the book. Literally.

I loved this book! There was a beautiful mix of poetry and drama. Of course, what would you expect of a book with the main character named for a famous poet. It was a quick read, but it never felt rushed. Things moved at a steady pace until the end. There was a wonderful absurdity to the dialogue. The author painted such a vivid picture that it was easy for me to become lost in the worlds of this book. Both of them. You can almost hear some Rimsky-Korsakov in your head as events in Shererazade's world unfold. 

I've always loved the story of Scheherazade. I almost wish we could have seen a bit more of what it was like to live the part. However, I can see how it wasn't relevant to the plot at hand. I would highly recommend this book to children and adults. It's a fun read, and it left me wanting more adventures with Yeats and his crew. 

Galley of book provided by publisher for review.

Giveaway Winner: Hoppy Easter Eggstravaganza Blog Hop

Well, my first giveaway is in the record books now, and we have a winner.


Congratulations! Winner has been contacted and is plotting which book(s) to get already. Thanks to everyone who entered. I hope you all stick around for more posts, reviews, and giveaways!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Hoppy Easter Eggstravaganza Giveaway Hop!

Welcome to the Hoppy Easter Eggstravaganza Blog Hop!

This hop is sponsored by I Am a Reader, Not a Writer and Once Upon a Twilight.

This is my very first blog hop, so I'm super excited! I know there are a lot of blogs involved, so let's get to the real reason we're here. What's up for grabs?

A $15 Amazon Gift Card!

For our international friends, you can get $15 worth of books from Book Depository. Please ensure they ship to your country.

How do you enter? That's the easiest part!

Mandatory entry: Follow my blog on Google Friend Connect

+1 entry for friending on Goodreads
+1 entry for following on Twitter
+1 entry for tweeting about this contest

To enter, just fill out the form below. Contest runs from April 20th to April 25th. Winner will be decided by sometime on April 26th. Winner will have 48 hours to respond to e-mail or a new winner will be picked. Please be sure to check out all the blogs in the hop (a full list is at the end of this post). Thanks for stopping by and GOOD LUCK!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Review: Inviolate by Michael Link

INVIOLATE is about a young girl who is brutally raped and learns to accept that while her physical virginity was stolen from her, only she can choose when and to whom she will surrender it spiritually. It relates the long-lasting trauma from the terror and humiliation of sexual assault and the collateral damage that is inflicted on a victim's loved ones. The story depicts the conflict of character between two men, one a violent sex predator who is able to hide his deviate psyche from even those closest to him; the other a gentle and kind man who is unjustly suspected of being a pedophile. A story of love, friendship, and character values, it illustrates the contradictions inherent in human nature when circumstantial events suggest that a trusted friend may be guilty of committing an evil act.

(Summary via Goodreads)


First, I have to warn that if you were the victim of sexual abuse, this book will likely trigger bad memories, so you may want to stay away. This was a hard read on several levels. It is split into 5 sections. The first is about a young girl who is molested. The second is about a young girl who is raped. The third section covers a precocious young woman and a much older man. The fourth section is about a man who pursues a woman the correct way, and the final section wraps up most character story lines.

Let's start with what I liked. I liked that it was very clearly delineated what kind of behaviors were wrong. Also, blame was never placed on the victims. Even in the third section about Tiffany, the older man Alan clearly took responsibility for his actions. The rape victim sought help from her clergy and a mental health professional. Alan sought help also. Both these people were able to take positive steps forward, and I like the message this sends. It is important to seek help for all aspects of your life.

Now for what I didn't like. I felt the pacing was uneven. At times it seemed like the plot ran forward like an Olympic sprinter, and then there were times where it seemed to meander along with no direction. The dialogue felt equally unequal. There were parts that seemed very realistic, and then large sections of dialogue with no contractions at all. This made it seem very formal and stiff. This also lead to a clinical feel to some of the story. I often felt no emotional attachment to the characters, although considering what they all went through this might have been a good thing. At times I felt like I was reading a text book, because it all felt so formal.

There were no euphemisms used when describing things, just the correct anatomical terms. I like this approach, because I think it's important to not try and lighten the impact of actions with cutesy terms. However, when reading it, it does seem very graphic. The language is also strong but realistic. This is not a book for young people though. There were a couple plots points I found strange or unrealistic. I realize the girl in the third section was meant to be unusually mature for her age, but she seemed a bit too precocious to me. Also, one character had a bizarre obsession with dating girls who are virgins. This weirded me out a lot. The plot line with the rapist wasn't really wrapped up as well as I would like. I also found the ending to be a bit creepy.

Overall, I feel that there are some good messages in this book. It is worth a read, but don't expect a fully polished, emotional book. It can be very harsh and cold, which is sometimes fitting to the subject matter. In the end though, it left me feeling rather flat.

Copy of this book won on a book website.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Review: Bent Road by Lori Roy

For twenty years, Celia Scott has watched her husband, Arthur, hide from the secrets surrounding his sister Eve's death. As a young man, Arthur fled his small Kansas hometown, moved to Detroit, married Celia, and never looked back. But when the 1967 riots frighten him even more than his past, he convinces Celia to pack up their family and return to the road he grew up on, Bent Road, and that same small town where Eve mysteriously died. 

While Arthur and their oldest daughter slip easily into rural life, Celia and the two younger children struggle to fit in. Daniel, the only son, is counting on Kansas to make a man of him since Detroit damn sure didn't. Eve-ee, the youngest and small for her age, hopes that in Kansas she will finally grow. Celia grapples with loneliness and the brutality of life and death on a farm. And then a local girl disappears, catapulting the family headlong into a dead man's curve...

(Summary via Goodreads)


What a fantastic book! It brings to mind the feelings evoked when seeing "American Gothic" in person. Sure, it looks like a simple painting, but underneath simmers an entire world of secrets and lies. It starts with a fairly simple premise: a family moves from Detroit to rural Kansas, the home of the patriarch Arthur Scott. While there he must face the past he ran away from and the present that may prove even more toxic.

The writing paints a vivid picture. I could see everything happen so clearly, playing like a movie in my head. Stick Kate Winslet in there, and you have an Oscar winner. It's gritty. It's real. Yet despite all the tragedy and heartache, there still lies a real sense of hope in the end. There's just the whisper of a chance that maybe this family will get past this, break the cycle, and make a better life for themselves and their community.

I highly recommend this book. Lori Roy was able to find the beauty in the stark reality of this family. I was left wanting to know more about their future and past. I will definitely look for more from this author.

Copy of this book won in Goodreads First Reads contest.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Review: Meant to Be by Tiffany King

Krista Miller feels like she has lived her entire life in a glass box with her every emotion on display. She can’t help feeling like a defect as her sensitivities have made her socially inept and without any real friends; the one exception being the boy that visits her each night in her dreams. 

Krista’s emotions are put to the test when a move to California triggers a devastating change to her fantasy world. The nightly comfort that the boy provides has now become a recurring nightmare as he is taken from her by an unseen force. 

Struggling to appear normal, Krista enrolls in a new school and finds it to be nothing like she thought. Her new life is sent spiraling out of control from a strange connection with a boy, Mark, who claims to know all her secrets. 

As Krista begins to explore the emotions that Mark evokes in her, secrets from their past about their shared connection threatens to separate them just when they have found each other. (Summary via Goodreads)


There is a lot to love about this book. At first, I was afraid this was going to fall under what I refer to as "Twilight Syndrome." You know, imperfect girl meets perfect guy of her dreams who then exhibits bizarre almost stalkerish behavior that is passed off as "romantic." I'm clearly not a fan of that. This book turned out to be much more though. Once I had finished, I was left with the urge to start again from the beginning, as I was seeing everything in a new light. The plot was very interesting, and there were plenty of surprises until the end.

That being said, there were a few technical issues. For some reason the formatting was kind of weird on my e-reader. There were be breaks in paragraphs in random places. It was especially bothersome when there were breaks in the dialogue. Sometimes I'd have to read it a few times to see who was speaking via context clues. I'm not sure what the issue was really. Also, there were some grammatical issues. This may not be a problem for some people, but it tends to pull me out of the narrative. That's more of a personal issue though.

The pacing in the beginning felt a bit slow, but any shortcomings were made up for in the last 40 pages or so. It felt like that's where the story really became fully realized, and it was a fantastic ending. Not only did the story feel original, but it left me wanting more. I really was on the edge of my seat, and I would love to know what happens next.

I would recommend this book for sure. It starts out as one thing, but turns into another book entirely by the end. The romance aspect that I felt was overdone in the beginning made perfect sense in the end. I will definitely look for the authors next book.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Review: Magyk by Angie Sage

The seventh son of the seventh son, aptly named Septimus Heap, is stolen the night he is born by a midwife who pronounces him dead. That same night, the baby's father, Silas Heap, comes across a bundle in the snow containing a new born girl with violet eyes. The Heaps take this helpless newborn into their home, name her Jenna, and raise her as their own. But who is this mysterious baby girl, and what really happened to their beloved son Septimus? 
The first book in this enthralling new series by Angie Sage leads readers on a fantastic journey filled with quirky characters and magykal charms, potions, and spells. Magyk is an original story of lost and rediscovered identities, rich with humor and heart. (Summary via Goodreads)


This was a really great book! It surprised me in the way it was able to grab me from the beginning. The characters were all interesting, and the world was fairly fresh as far as fantasy worlds go. There's actually not a lot else to say, as it's a fairly simple book. It is written for children, but it is enjoyable to adults (or at least this one). The plot had a little "surprise," but I figured it out a while before. That didn't take any enjoyment out. One of my favorite things was being able to get narration from many creatures. From human to shield bug, you got to see a little bit of their world. It was fantastic!

One somewhat bothersome thing had to do with the words themselves oddly enough. Any word that was related to magic was bold. That could take you out of the story a bit. However, I found that to be a minor thing. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a fun story in a fascinating world.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Review: Homespun Bride by Jillian Hart

Montana Territory in 1883 was a dangerous place -- especially for a blind woman struggling to make her way through an early winter snowstorm. Undaunted, Noelle Kramer fought to remain independent. But then a runaway horse nearly plunged her into a rushing, ice-choked river, before a stranger's strong, sure hand saved her from certain death.

And yet this was no stranger. Though she could not know it, her rescuer was rancher Thad McKaslin, the man who had once loved her more than life itself. Losing her had shaken all his most deeply held beliefs. Now he wondered if the return of this strong woman was a sign that somehow he could find his way home. (Summary via Goodreads)


I want to preface this review by saying I don't normally read romance novels. They're just not my thing. However, the e-book was free, and I am not one to pass up a free book. So I thought I'd try it. It was pretty much what I expected. It felt very slow to me. I kept reading and then looking at the page count. I was unsure how the author was going to fill it as they were pining for each from page 1. It ends exactly how you expect it's going to from the beginning. No huge surprises or twists. However, I don't think that this book was trying to be anything but a simple romance novel. It performed that role very well.

One technical thing that bothered me was that the narrator would switch a lot, sometimes mid-paragraph. That made it really hard for me to follow sometimes. I would often have to go back a few sentences to figure out where it had switched and who was talking now. If you're expecting a smooth flowing, fast paced book, this is not it.

It's not a story that made me think or had me hanging on ever word. However, it was simple and sweet. I don't think it's a bad book, just not one that I particularly enjoy. This book isn't going to make me rethink the genre. However, if you was a sweet, clean, romantic book, this will probably fit the bill for you. 

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Magical World of Book Blogs

So my good friend Reader Riah introduced me to the magical world of book blogs the other day. There are so many fantastic ones out there! So I thought I'd add to it...just what the internet need, right? Another blog? But I have ideas and thoughts that must be heard!

However, as I got a Nook, I found I had more time to read (squeezed in between diaper changes and such). And I want to talk about these books with other people. I also told my husband the other day that I really needed to re-read all the books I had, and then decide what I wanted to keep. Right now my books are just another thing for my son to throw on the floor. So then I decided, wouldn't it be fun to review all those books online? I think it will help me really clarify my thoughts on them. Of course, I'll also be reviewing new books too. I'm excited about this. I think it will be a fun exercise in something I love. I hope so anyway.