Saturday, December 17, 2011

Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George

Title: Tuesdays at the Castle
Author: Jessica Day George
Reviewer: Stephanie
Genre: YA Fantasy
Rating: LOVE
Alerts/Warnings: None
Premise: Tuesdays at Castle Glower are Princess Celie's favorite days. That's because on Tuesdays the castle adds a new room, a turret, or sometimes even an entire wing. No one ever knows what the castle will do next, and no one-other than Celie, that is-takes the time to map out the new additions. But when King and Queen Glower are ambushed and their fate is unknown, it's up to Celie, with her secret knowledge of the castle's never-ending twists and turns, to protect their home and save their kingdom.

Opinions: I fell in love with Jessica Day Georges' writing several years ago when she wrote "Dragon Slippers". Then fell deeper in love when I read, "Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow". So it was with great excitement that I picked up "Tuesdays at the Castle". Although I admit, I didn't have any idea what it was about. So I was very pleased to find out it was about a magic castle that could grow and change as was needed to help the royal family.

This is an interesting story of intrigue, bravery and there is some funny moments too. I love the practical jokes. I love Celie and her siblings. But honestly, one of my favorite characters was the castle. It was amazing. I wanted to go and visit it.

Jessica Day George is an amazing author with a great command of storytelling. I hope she plans to write another book about Celie and the Castle. I would be first in line to buy it. I loved this one so.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Contest Winners Announced!!!

Thanks everyone for participating in our holiday contest. We received some awesome ideas of traditions. The two winners of our contest are..............drum roll please...........

1st Place - Becky Rose
2nd Place - Jenny Moodie

As 1st place winner Becky gets to choose between The Hourglass Door by Lisa Mangum or Being Sixteen by Allyson Condie. Jenny will receive whichever book Becky did not pick. If you two lovely ladies could email us your addresses to and I will get the books out to you as soon as possible.

Congratulations to our winners and we hope all of you get lots of books to read for Christmas. ;-)

Stay tuned for future glorious posts and contests that will be coming in the new year.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Slayers by C.J. Hill

To enter our contest, go here.

Title: Slayers
Author: C.J. Hill
Reviewer: Stephanie
Genre: YA Fantasy
Rating: Worship
Alerts/Warnings: There is dragon violence and a battle scene. The "Slayers" are teenagers that use firearms to protect people from the dragons.
Premise: Dragons exist. They’re ferocious. And they’re smart: Before they were killed off by slayer-knights, they rendered a select group of eggs dormant, so their offspring would survive. Only a handful of people know about this, let alone believe it – these “Slayers” are descended from the original knights, and are now a diverse group of teens that includes Tori, a smart but spoiled senator’s daughter who didn’t sign up to save the world.

The dragon eggs have fallen into the wrong hands. The Slayers must work together to stop the eggs from hatching. They will fight; they will fall in love. But will they survive?

Opinions: I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE this book! I am a huge fan of C.J. Hill's other works (this book is written under a pseudonym) and was a bit hesitant to read this one. Cause it is a far cry from the other types of books she's written. But BOY HOWDY! is this one good!

Tori has always been obsessed with dragons and she has always believed that they were real, then she goes to "Dragon Camp" and discovers that not only are they real but she was born with special abilities that allow her to fight them.

This book follows Tori and the other Slayers as they train to save people from a Dragon attack. But of course there are adjustments for everyone to make and lots of learning for Tori. Okay, and honestly, I could go on and on about the things I liked, but I don't want to give any spoilers. So just know that this is an AWESOME book. (Can you tell I really liked it?) And I am super excited for the next book in the series.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

To enter our contest, go here.

Title: Between Shades of Gray
Author: Ruta Sepetys
Reviewer: Stephanie
Genre: YA Historical Fiction
Rating: LOVE
Alerts/Warnings: There is a mention of a groping in a prison camp and some brief mentions of forced prosititution. But nothing graphic.
Premise: In 1941, fifteen-year-old Lina is preparing for art school, first dates, and all that summer has to offer. But one night, the Soviet secret police barge violently into her home, deporting her along with her mother and younger brother. They are being sent to Siberia. Lina's father has been separated from the family and sentenced to death in a prison camp. All is lost.

Lina fights for life, fearless, vowing that if she survives she will honor her family, and the thousands like hers, by documenting their experience in her art and writing. She risks everything to use her art as messages, hoping they will make their way to her father's prison camp to let him know they are still alive.

It is a long and harrowing journey, and it is only their incredible strength, love, and hope that pull Lina and her family through each day. But will love be enough to keep them alive?

Opinions: Such a powerful, heart-wrenching book. I sobbed several times in this book. There was a moment when I had to stop reading because I was crying so hard. As I was reading this book I realized how little I knew about what happened in Russia and the neighboring countries during Stalin's reign of Terror, and this book opened my eyes to it. Intellectually, I knew that Stalin was horrible and that he caused the death of millions of people. But I had never had a class on it or read a book about it. That changed this week when I read this amazingly touching novel.

Lina, her brother Jonas and her mother Elena, are "deported" from their home to Sibera. They don't know where they are going and people are dying all around them. But they are determined to stay together and to stay alive. You follow their journey for over a year and find that even through all the stink and horror they go through, there is still hope and determination to not let these horrible people beat them.

This is a power and moving book that I highly recommend. It is an amazing debut novel for Ruth Sepetys and I for one am anxious to read what she writes next.

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Berlin Boxing Club by Robert Sharenow

To enter our contest go here.

Title: The Berlin Boxing Club
Author: Robert Sharenow
Reviewer: Stephanie
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: LOVE!
Alerts/Warnings: This deals with Nazi Germany so there are some moments of racism. There are also some mentions of male genitalial in connection to circumcision and trying to hide his heritage. There is nothing graphic.

Premise: Fourteen-year-old Karl Stern has never thought of himself as a Jew. But to the bullies at his school in Naziera Berlin, it doesn't matter that Karl has never set foot in a synagogue or that his family doesn't practice religion. Demoralized by relentless attacks on a heritage he doesn't accept as his own, Karl longs to prove his worth to everyone around him.

So when Max Schmeling, champion boxer and German national hero, makes a deal with Karl's father to give Karl boxing lessons, Karl sees it as the perfect chance to reinvent himself. A skilled cartoonist, Karl has never had an interest in boxing, but as Max becomes the mentor Karl never had, Karl soon finds both his boxing skills and his art flourishing.

But when Nazi violence against Jews escalates, Karl must take on a new role: protector of his family. Karl longs to ask his new mentor for help, but with Max's fame growing, he is forced to associate with Hitler and other Nazi elites, leaving Karl to wonder where his hero's sympathies truly lie. Can Karl balance his dream of boxing greatness with his obligation to keep his family out of harm's way?

Opinions: Wow! Can I tell you this is one of the best books I have ever read about Nazi Germany. Don't get me wrong, there are some powerful and touching books out there, but this one just spoke to me.

Robert Sharenow is an amazing author with a great talent for writing and storytelling that draws you in so that the story consumes you in that delicious way that you don't want to do anything but read and discover what happens. I cared so much about Karl and his family that I couldn't stop thinking about them even when I wasn't reading the book. Then when I was reading another book (review coming soon) that took place around the same time, I kept thinking about what Karl and his family would have been doing.

While the topic is sad and depressing, I loved how Robert Sharenow slowly depicted the denegration of the lives of the Jewish people in Germany. I felt that through the course of the book I was falling with Sterns. I was so drawn in that I felt like I was part of the Stern family and the Berlin Boxing Club.

This is an amazing book that everyone should read. It is a profound book that is written by an amazing storyteller who is also an impressive writer.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Secrets of the Magic Ring by Karen McQuestion

To enter our contest go here.

To see my review of "Celia and the Faeries" by Karen McQuestion click here.

Title: Secrets of the Magic Ring
Author: Karen McQuestion
Reviewer: Stephanie
Genre: YA Fantasy
Rating: Love
Alerts/Warnings: None
Premise: When nine-year-old Paul explores the hole dug for his backyard swimming pool, he discovers a box containing a ring—a ring that turns out to be magical. Moments later, a mysterious boy shows up demanding the ring; luckily, Paul’s trusty dog Clem scares him away. To keep the ring safe, Paul hides it in his pillow case, where, to his horror, it’s discovered by his mother, who loans it to his Aunt Vicky. Things get even stranger when Vicky, a non-swimmer, falls into the now-finished pool and discovers that her greatest secret wish has been granted—she can swim! As the ring gets passed around and wishes are made, a wild series of talents and circumstances threaten to turn their lives upside down…forever.

Opinions: I have to admit to being very excited to read this book. I really enjoy Karen McQuestions writing style. She has a unique voice and talent for writing kids in a way that makes you believe that it's real. I love that her writing and characterization is so beautiful that I'm sucked into the characters and I truly believe that what is happening and their choices could be real. Especially in a fantastical setting, it makes you think, "Huh, maybe this could be."

Paul was one of my favorite characters in "Celia and the Faeries" and I was thrilled to find him the main character in this book. Again I really liked the relationship between him and Celia. I also liked that he loved his parents but he was also frustrated with them. But as a mom, I could see both perspectives and I loved that.

I loved the wishes and that unexpected things kept happening. This was a fun, sweet book that I thoroghly enjoyed. I look forward to reading to my boys when they are just a little bit older. (I don't think my 2 year old is quite ready for it yet.) But it is a book that I know they will love, I mean, two words, Talking Dog. You're hooked now aren't you?

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Secret Kingdom by Jenny Nimmo

To read my review of the first book in the Charlie Bone series please click here: Midnight for Charlie Bone.

Title: The Secret Kingdom (Book 1 Chronicles of the Red King)
Author: Jenny Nimmo
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: YA Fiction (or mid-grade depending on the library)
Rating: Fabulous
Alerts/Warnings: None
Premise: "Timoken and his sister, Zobayda, under the protection of a forest jinni and accompanied by a talking camel but pursued by evil virideed, straddle the world of men and the world of enchantments, seeking a home while remaining young by drinking a potion called Alixir." (King County Library System)
Opinions: If you loved the Charlie Bone series then you definitely should read this book. This book tells the beginnings of the life of the Red King from the Charlie Bone series and how he became who he was. I loved delving into a life of a man that we only saw peripherally in the other series. I love the world that Jenny Nimmo has created, especially the magical abilities of various characters. I am fascinated by her creating of the Viridee and I LOVE Gabar the camal. This book is full of adventure, magic, and intrigue and is definitely worth the read. I just recommend that you read the Charlie Bone series first (this book will make much more sense if you do).

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan

For my review of book one of the Kane Chronicles please click here: The Red Pyramid.

Title: The Throne of Fire (Book 2 Kane Chronicles)
Author: Rick Riordan
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: Mid-Grade Fantasy
Rating: Fabulous
Alerts/Warnings: None
Premise: "Carter Kane and his sister must prevent the chaos snake Apophis from breaking free in a few days' time or the world will come to an end. To have any chance of battling these Forces of Chaos, the Kanes must revive the sun god Ra." (King County Library System)
Opinions: I am LOVING this series. Now that I'm used to the switch between point of views each chapter I have really gotten into the plot a lot easier this time around. I love the intensity/urgency that Sadie and Carter must keep up to reach their goal. I love the underlying humor. I LOVE BES!!!! I mean how can you not love a speedo wearing dwarf god. Rick Riordan is brilliant with his characters.

Sadie and Carter continue as strong characters as they work together to try and revive the Sun God Ra in time to fight off his arch-enemy Apophis. I love the strength they find while working together, but also the truths they discover about themselves when alone. I love seeing new magicians working with the Kane's and the new talents that they possess. This sequel is a definite must read.


Hello world. It's a new month and time for a new contest and we are giving away TWO fabulous prizes.

To enter you can:

1. Leave a comment on this or any other post until 9 pm on December 15th answering the following question - What is your favorite holiday tradition? (1 entry)
2. Follow our blog (3 entries)
3. Post a link to our blog on your blog. Please leave a link to your blog (5 entries)
4. Blog about our blog or giveaway on your blog. Again please leave a link (5 entries)
5. Convince someone to follow us and enter this contest. If they do and put your name down you get 10 entries!
6. Write a review for us. There is no limit to the number of reviews you write for us. Please use our format. (Below) Email us your reviews at Also if you would like us to link to your blog, please give us your blog address.


What prizes might be worth all of this effort? Well, how about an autographed copy of Being Sixteen by Allyson B. Condie and an autographed copy of The Hourglass Door by Lisa Mangum. To read our reviews of these two books please click here: Being Sixteen, The Hourglass Door.

The first place winner will get their choice between the two books and the second place winner will get the other book. Win a book for yourself or to give away for the holidays. Remember the contest will go from today, Dec 1, to 9 pm pst on Dec 15th. We look forward to hearing from you and to reading your responses.