Monday, May 25, 2009

Young Adult - City of Ashes

City of Ashes (Mortal Instruments) by Cassandra Clare
Learning more everyday about the world of Shadowhunters, Downworlders and Demons that her mother tried to keep from her, Clary (Clarissa Fray) discovers the differences. Finding she has a father (Valentine Morgenstern), and a brother (Jace) that are on different sides of the Shadowhunter’s view about how to handle the Downworlders and the Demons puts Clary in a postion that leaves her wondering who to believe in. The people she turns to first are her mothers long time friend Luke Garroway (who happens to be a werewolf) and her own best friend Simon (who is turning in to more than a friend). With there help and a few other Shadowhunters and one High Warlock, Clary and Jace are determined to fight for what is right, even if it is their own father.

**** 4 star - Book 2 ….. Wow, talk about a jam packed book. So much happened in just the first half I would have been satisfied if it ended there. It kept going and just got better as it went. There are a lot of fighting scenes and some are really good, well written. I was a little surprised by what happened to poor Simon, there are actually several things that took me by surprise in this one (but a few things didn’t), I think what Imogen Herondale (the Inquisitor) said to Jace will come out and be understood (as a good thing). It ended with certain expectations of what the 3rd book (City of Glass) will have in it. Now that Valentine has the cup and the sword, the only Mortal Instrument left would be the mirror.

May 25, 2009

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Young Adult - City of Bones

City of Bones (Mortal Instruments) by Cassandra Clare
Having had her 'sight' taken from her every 2 years, Clarrisa (Clary) Fray never knew her mother was a Shadowhunter. She never even knew what that was or that they existed. Now Clary is thrown into the world that her mother (Jocelyn) had tried so hard to keep her away from. To get her started, she had to battle some half demons, including the type that had kidnapped her mother. Clary found herself and her new Shadowhunter friends (Jace Wayland and Isabelle and Alec Lightwood) searching for a very special cup that had been stolen many years earlier from the leaders of the Shadowhunters. In there time together (so far), they fight against the forsaken, raveners, vampires, werewolves and other demons or half demons.

**** 4 - Book 1 ..... What a way to be introduced to this group of teens. I like the characters, the way of bringing them all together was great. I also liked the reality of the dislike that was felt with Alec and Isabelle even if the slight twist changed the way they interact with Clary. Most of this story was predictable, even the twist wasn't a complete surprise. This book is considered for young adults, it is about teens, but I have to warn about a bit (small bit) of language, and some violence (of course, they are fighting demons) and there is also a bit of alcohol, drug and sex talk (but not much). Looking forward to book 2: "City of Ashes"

May 19, 2009

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Book - Mysteria

Mysteria by Mary Janice Davidson, Susan Grant, P.C. Cast, and Gena Showalter
This is a collection of 4 stories, by 4 paranormal romance writers, all about 1 town in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Mysteria was originally established by a group of settlers that were slightly different from the normal. This is a place were the slightly different actually fit in. All creatures are welcomed, the Demon High Lord that has been banished from hell for committing random acts of kindness, the vampires who have found ways to not crave the taste of blood, the witches, the werewolves and the non-magical humans have all found ways to live - and thrive in the small town - together.

*** 3 - Susan Grant, Mary Janice Davidson, Gena Showalter and P.C. Cast worked so well together on this project, it was almost a continuing story (especially the last 2). I typically write a review for each individual story, but this one doesn’t need individual rating, they are all good stories. Short little stops in this very interesting town where you can run into anything and anyone, I liked the way several of the authors just continued each others stories, just a heartbeat later. Getting to know some of these characters made it feel like a novel instead of several novellas. Mary Janice Davidson has an Author’s note about how this story relates to her others (‘Bewitched, Bothered and Bevampyred’ and ‘Derik’s Bane’), I haven’t read them, but I might now. Anthologies are great for introducing new authors, I have read Susan Grant and Gena Showalter, and was happy to be introduced to May Janice Davidson and P.C. Cast.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Youth Fiction - Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw by Jeff Kinney
The day to day life of Greg Heffley, a middle school student, as he wrote it out in a diary format. Starting January talking about resolutions, Greg details some of the events of the first half of his year. Everything from the snack bin at home to school events. Greg thinks he is a pretty good kid, his brother (Rodrick) is annoying and his other brother (Manny) is spoiled. When things start to go terribly wrong and his Dad (Frank) decides to send him to Military school, Greg knows he is in need of some kind of strategy, but what can Greg do to change his Dads mind?

** 2 - I tried to like this one, I usually enjoy the juvenile fiction section at the library, but this one ….. I didn’t like much. I didn’t find it all that funny but maybe they would. For a juvenile book, just getting kids to read may be a good goal and if this one does that, great. As a juvenile book, I would hope that it could teach (even if they don’t realize it) ethical and / or moral lessons (coming from a moms point of view here), this one doesn’t. If anything, it just gives more ideas to young kids about how to treat one another poorly and possibly cause more problems. I was a little disappointed because of how much I had heard about these books. Not sure what age group it was written for, but it was an easy book to read and the pictures that were on almost every page made the diary entries more interesting and easy to follow. If this book was written for anyone, it would probably be for young boys, maybe 9-12. Again, if it gets kids to read (and I have heard that it does) I guess I shouldn’t be over critical, it just wasn’t something I enjoyed.

May 11, 2009

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Book - The Pagan Stone

The Pagan Stone (Sign of Seven) by Nora Roberts
Every 7 years for 7 days, ever since their 10th birthday (July 7), Caleb Hawkins, Fox O'Dell and Gage Turner have tried to take care of Hawkins Hollow when the evil came. Blaming themselves for unleashing it on the town. Since the arrival of Quinn Black (reporter of the strange and now engaged to Cal), Layla Darnell (strangely drawn to Hawkins Hollow and to Fox), and Cybil Kinski (supernatural researcher and Quinn's best friend), the group have been able to find more information on the demon and the guardians that are suppose to keep them. Finding the diaries and meeting (so to speak) some of their ancestors, then figuring out how the bloodstone could be put back together (it was left in 3 pieces after the boys at their 10th birthday made a blood brother ritual), now they just need to figure out how it all comes together, how the information they have will help them use the bloodstone as a weapon to destroy the demon they have come to know as Twisse.

****4 - Book 3 ..... No real surprise in this one, or in any of them really. Over the past 3 books, getting to know these characters has been so much fun, from the (as I call her) whirlwind of Quinn, the simple girly girl of Layla to this book that shows so much more of Cybil. She is sophisticated, tough, and smart and that is the combination that is needed to break through to Gage and his abused, 'I don't need anyone' attitude. Where Cal is the hometown hero type and Fox is the hippie (their words not mine) lawyer, as a group this six aren't just friend, they are family and the emotions are there. The paranormal / supernatural stuff is a lot more intense in this book (since the time is closer) but the romance, the adventure is always the best part. I found myself caring for Cybil so much more than I ever thought I would.

* Over view of the whole series: As always with Nora Roberts, the character creation is excellent with a wide variety of personalities so picking a favorite person and couple is difficult for me, there are aspects of each that I really enjoyed. That being said, I have to go with - Gage and Cybil, don't get me wrong, I absolutely adored Cal, Fox and Layla, (Quinn was a bit to hectic for me), but my favorite book pick would go to ... The Pagan Stone, for the romance of it. It hit more of an emotional cord with me than any of the other books. The faith, the hope and the vision of the past, the now and the what will be.

May 9, 2009

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Book - The Hollow

The Hollow (Sing of Seven) by Nora Roberts
The time of their shared birthday was nearing (July 7, 1977) and each of them hoped that this would be the one that would end the nightmares that Caleb Hawkins, Fox O'Dell and Gage Turner had been living every 7 years for 7 days since they had made a blood brother pack on their 10th birthday out at the Pagan Stone. Now with the help of Quinn Black (reporter & Cal's fiance), Layla Darnell, and Cybil Kinski (a paranormal researcher) they may finally find the direction that they needed to stop this evil that has been terrorized Hawkins Hollow for 20 years. After finding a diary of a distant ancestor of the boys (Cal, Fox and Gage), the girls (Quinn, Layla and Cybil) believe that the clues to defeating this evil could come from her but with only the one diary it wasn't enough. The search takes the group to find more diaries and then using the information, mixed with speculations, they return to the Pagan stone to in the hopes of gaining even more information or tools to help them defeat this evil and who has been a part of each of their lives for longer than they knew.

****4 - Book 2 .... The characters are great, as with most of Nora Roberts series. The different aspects of each one of these six gives the reader the chance to connect with each of them together as a team, as couples and as individuals. The spook end is minor but the relationships make up for it. It is a supernatural experience that they are going through and that is sometimes hard to pull of without being on the edge of horror. This one is more mystery, suspense and romance. With the pairing of the six in a natural order. Quinn is still a whirlwind, Layla is a bit more timid than the rest and Cybil, she is leaving me wanting to know more (always a good sign for a series). I am eager to see Gage and Cybils' story, and the conclusion of this trilogy with "The Pagan Stone"

May 7, 2009

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Book - Blood Brothers

Blood Brothers (Sign of Seven) by Nora Roberts
Sharing a birthday (July 7, 1977) made it for a natural fit, Caleb Hawkins, Fox O'Dell and Gage Turner became the best of friends. On their 10th birthday, they decided to celebrates the way boys do. A camping trip out at the clearing called Pagan Stone, they drank the beer Gage stole from his dad, ate the Little Debbie cakes Fox bought at the store and drank the lemonade that Cal's mom had packed. At midnight they decided to become blood brothers. After their pack was made, the words were spoken and the blood was mixed, something evil seemed to be released out of the stone like altar and nothing was ever the same again. Every 7 years, for 7 days the little town of Hawkins Hollow is terrorized by this evil and now after about 20 years, with the help of Quinn Black (a reporter of the strange and unusual), Layla Darnell (who was strangely drawn to Hawkins Hollow) and Cybil Kinski (Quinn convinced her to come) they might find a way to stop it all. The combination of psychic sensitivities, visions or dreams of the past and the information gained from their ancestors might give them a clue to how to putting the pieces together again.

**** 4 - Book 1 - Heavy, heavy into character creation. That is one of the best parts of a trilogy, more than half of this book is just about setting up the story and the characters. Once you get to know the who and the what, the story can play out all that much better. Cal is a wonderfully responsible yet easy person to really enjoy. Quinn is a handful, she is like a whirlwind in and around everyone and everything, they make the perfect connection (hope I didn't give too much away). These characters are easy to care about and the situation is obviously just getting started. The slight hint of supernatural gives it a little twist that makes it more than just a thriller romance. The who and the what is set, now lets see more in the next book of this "Sign of 7" trilogy (The Hollow)

May 5, 2009

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Book - Summer on Blossom Street

Summer On Blossom Street by Debbie Macomber
As the owner of A Good Yarn, Lydia Goetz knows most of the people that live or work on Blossom Street. It is not surpising that the interest was there for another knitting class. Knit to Quit was just what Phoebe Rylander was looking for, anything that would help her get over the horrible way her ex-fiance has betrayed her trust ... again. As for Alix Turner, she and her husband, Jordan, wanted to start a family, but after all the stress of getting married, Alix had started smoking again. Then the man that had signed up for the class walked in, Bryan "Hutch" Hutchinson had taken over the family business after the unforseen death of his father and now had the high blood pressure and stress that went with the job. His doctor had recommended he learned how to knit, now that he had been to see the class, he was glad he did. Lydia's own situation was a little closer to home, wanting to adopt a baby, her and husband Brad decided to foster a 12 year-old for a couple of days, which turned into more. All the while Anne Marie Roche, the owner of Blossom Street Books, was enjoying her and her adopted daughters (Ellen) summer vacation, a handsome man (Tim Carlsen) had been looking for them. His interest leaned more towards Ellen, and the reason was made clear that he wanted to know if he was more family to Ellen then Anne Marie was, biologically if not legally.

****4 - Book 5 ..... What a lovely home coming that was, to find all my old friends on Blossom Street and all doing so well. I really enjoyed meeting the new characters, from Casey and Tim to Phoebe and Hutch. I enjoyed reading about the newest of Lydia's classes and the return of so many of the former characters was the best. So much of this book isn't wrapped around the yarn store or the class, but everyone involved has something to do with each other. The feeling of belonging, how to find it and the desire for it is all over this one. Some of Anne Marie's story surprised me, but in the end it seems to have almost been workded out.

May 3, 2009

Friday, May 1, 2009

Book - The Italian's Suitable Wife

The Italian's Suitable Wife: Italian Husbands (Harlequin Presents)… by Lucy Monroe
A tragic accident put Enrico (Rico) DiRinaldi into a coma. His brother had no way of contacting their parents, and it would take Andre DiRinaldi many hours to reach him. Calling long time family friend Gianna (Gia) Lakewood was the easiest way to make sure someone was with Rico in the hospital. Gia never waited to find out what had happened, she heard that Rico was in need so she jumped in her car and made the 2 hour drive to New York as quick as she could. Finding out that Rico's fiancé had only stayed for a short time angered her, Gia was determined to stay by his side till he woke from his coma. For 5 long days, Gia held his hand and encouraged him to return, she spoke of her love for him and knowing that once he woke he would want his beautiful super-model fiancé instead of her made no difference, she loved him enough to want him to wake up anyway. After waking to find that his fiancé was not the person he needed most, Rico asked Gia to marry him, she had always loved him so Gia couldn't say no. The reason for the marriage is what Gia was questioning.

*** 3 - The innocence of Gia is so heartwarming, it was easy to connect with her. The whole family was easy to connect with, even Rico - after he dumped the super-model. I enjoyed having a villain in this one that was so easy to hate. The pride of Rico, the break down of that pride for the woman he married and the realistic effect that things said and done had on Gia were great. The sorrow, longing and even the acceptance she felt for and around Rico were well done - not teary eyed over it, but I could feel it.

I listened to this on my mp3 player, I got it from audible.com.

May 1, 2009