Friday, December 28, 2012

Monster High by Lisi Harrison

Title: Monster High (Monster High Series book 1)
Author: Lisi Harrison
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: Teen Urban Fantasy
Rating: Love
Alerts/Warnings: None
Premise: "Frankie Stein was created in a laboratory, and when she enters Mount Hood High School camouflaged as a "normie," all she wants is to fit in, but it takes the help of another new student who believes that everyone should be treated equally before Frankie even has a chance" (King County Library System).
Opinions: I know there is a whole world of toys, clothing lines, etc. revolving around Monster High, but this world is brand new to me. . .and I am fascinated by it. Lisi Harrison does a brilliant job of mixing teen fads and fabs with emotional drama.  She does a brilliant job of showing difficulties and drama that a teenager my experience, but in a new light with a monster twist and a lot of fun. I LOVE Frankie and Melody and seeing the different struggles each one experiences as they are introduced into a new world and new high school.  I loved seeing their growth and strength and riding along with them as they learn what is truly important.  I was intrigued by Lisi Harrison's use of movie monsters in a fun and humorous way to portray the difficulties of fitting in and being accepted by society. I recommend this as an easy, enjoyable read for teen girls.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Garment of Shadows by Laurie R. King

I apologize for the slow pace at which I'm posting this last little while. I have been working on writing a new novel for NaNoWriMo and am Beta reading several new books for up-coming authors (You will see posts for their books soon. . . and I can't wait for you to read these books. I feel spoiled for getting sneak peaks).  In the meantime, thank you for your patience.

Here is a list of the other titles in this series.  The ones with the hyperlinks are the ones I have reviewed so far on this site. Hopefully, soon, I will be able to re-read the entire series and provide you with reviews for the ones I haven't written yet.

- The Beekeeper's Apprentice (Book #1)
- A Monstrous Regement of Women (Book #2)
- A Letter of Mary (Book #3)
- The Moor (Book #4)
- O Jerusalem (Book #5)
- Justice Hall (Book #6)
- The Game (Book #7)
- Locked Rooms (Book #8)
The Language of Bees (Book #9)
- God of the Hive (Book #10 )
- The Pirate King (Book # 11)

Title: Garment of Shadows (Mary Russell Series #12)
Author: Laurie R. King
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: Adult Mystery/Suspense
Rating: Like
Alerts/Warnings: Mild violence associated with espionage
Premise: "The shadows of war are drawing over the ancient city of Fez, and Holmes badly wants the wisdom and courage of his wife, whom he's learned, to his horror, has gone missing. As Holmes searches for her, and Russell, suffering a temporary memory loss, searches for her"self," each tries to crack deadly parallel puzzles before it's too late for them, for Africa, and for the peace of Europe" (King County Library Sytem).
Opinions: I quite enjoyed the premise of this book in the Mary Russell series. It was intriguing to see how Mary reacts as an amnesiac--what instincts she still goes on and yet seeing the world from new eyes. I am still fascinated by her relationship with Holmes and how well they work together, even when one or the other is not at their top game, to uncover the truth behind political espionage. It was enjoyable to be reintroduced to great characters from earlier books in the series and to see them in a new country.  Overall, though, my favorite character is this mute boy named Idir.  He is fasincating, spunky, and intriguing. I loved getting to know him. 

At times I did feel a bit overwhelmed by the backstory of the political unrest in the area the story takes place. However, they are fascinating details and pertinent to the plot.  What really strikes me is the author's ability to interweave details so intricate that the reader often does not realize that an entirely different story is being told then the one you think is being told (if that made any sense).

I continue to enjoy the entire Mary Russell series by Laurie R. King and highly recommend it to those who are fans of Sherlock Holmes or enjoy a good mystery.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

To read my reviews of the first two books in this series click here: The Hunger Games, Catching Fire.

Title: Mockingjay (The Hunger Games Series #3)
Author: Suzanne Collins
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: YA Fiction/Dystopian
Rating: Like
Alerts/Warnings: High Violence associated with war
Premise: "The Capitol is angry that Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice, stirring unrest by having defied the rules, and President Snow has made it clear that she, her family and friends, and the people of District 12 may all be held accountable" (King County Library System).
Opinions: This was a great and tragic and beautiful ending to this series. This is a hard series, full of dark times, but Suzanne Collins writes the story well. Throughout all three books we see Katniss fighting for her friends and family no matter what it takes. We get to see a whole other side to Peeta which was difficult but understandable.  It was also great to see more of Gale and Katniss's interactions with him and how their friendship develops and changes through difficult situations.  I love how so many people looked out for each other.  I love getting to learn all of the secrets that were hinted at through the last book come to light in this final installment. And I love getting to see a deeper side to the story. 

Again, because of the extreme level of violence (though still written tamely) due to the war and atrocities that occurred I felt I couldn't give this book more than a like, but I still really enjoyed the read. Just be prepared to cry throughout.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

To read my review of the first book in this series, click here: The Hunger Games.

Title: Catching Fire (Hunger Games #2)
Author: Suzanne Collins
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: Young Adult Dystopian
Rating: Like
Alerts/Warnings: High Violence and Disturbing Scenes
Premise: "By winning the annual Hunger Games, District 12 tributes Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark have secured a life of safety and plenty for themselves and their families, but because they won by defying the rules, they unwittingly become the faces of an impending rebellion" (King County Library System).
Opinions: My husband and I read this book together as I had persuaded him to read the first book, The Hunger Games, and he enjoyed it.  We both agree that Suzanne Collins does a brilliant job of showing that life continues outside of the main character's influence.  For example, you know that something is going on by the way certain characters are acting/reacting and as I reader was enticed by this; curious to know what else is happening that we don't know about.  Then, in the end, we find out the bigger picture.  Loved how well Ms. Collins does this. Katniss is not my favorite character of the book.  There are times that she got on my nerves, but in all honesty she acted completely in-character and was well written. We also get to see more dimensions inside of her as the main character, which did help us to keep reading.  I LOVE Peeta. I love the sacrifices that he is willing to make.  I'm also intrigued by Gale and look forward to, hopefully, seeing more of him in book three, Mockingjay. 

Major Warning though for parents.  Both my husband and I really enjoyed this book. It was well written, intriguing, and entertaining, but due to the premise of this series, there are scenes of horrific violence.  They aren't overly described (which I am grateful for), but they are described well enough to seriously make me cringe.  I would recommend reading this book before your children do, to better determine if it is something that your child can handle.  The violence is the main reason I gave this book a LIKE rating, rather than something higher. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Variant by Robison Wells

Title: Variant (Variant Series #1)
Author: Robison Wells
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: Teen/YA Fiction Dystopian
Rating: Love
Alerts/Warnings: Moderate Violence (some hinted at and others openly shown)
Premise: "After years in foster homes, seventeen-year-old Benson Fisher applies to New Mexico's Maxfield Academy in hopes of securing a brighter future, but instead he finds that the school is a prison and no one is what he or she seems" (King County Library System).
Opinions: This was an intriguing book to read.  I was completely fascinated by the plot about a teen from the foster care system who gets into a private school only to find out there are no adults anywhere.  Talk about cool.  Then the twists kept coming.  Oh my goodness!  (Can't give away too much.) I kept trying to figure Benson out and what was really going on.  Trust me...I had no clue and my jaw dropped when I found out.  Even the end of book made me sit up and say, "NO FREAKING WAY!!!!"  This book is a psychological thriller.

I did wonder about Benson as he appeared callus toward things that some of the students said that had happened at Maxfield Acadamy before his arrival.  But, then again I wondered if I were coming from a life of abandonment would I act the same, and I honestly might have.  I think the main reason I didn't give this book a fabulous rating is because I spent the whole time reading the book trying to ascertain who was really in control and at the end I still have no clue.  But, hey, that just makes me want to read book two - Feedback - which came out this last week.  Well played Robison Wells.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

NERDS by Michael Buckley

To read Stephanie's review of this book, then click here: NERDS.

Title: NERDS: National Espionage, Rescue and Defense Society (NERDS #1)
Author: Michael Buckley
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: Junior/Mid-Grade Fiction (depending on the library then possibly YA)
Rating: Fabulous
Alerts/Warnings:  None
Premise: "While running a spy network from their elementary school, five unpopular misfits combine their talents and use cutting-edge gadgetry to fight evil around the world". 
Opinions: This book is creative, imaginative, superlative, etc.  This book is just pure fun.  Weaknesses become strengths.  Popular guys become nerds, and nerds become heroes.  I loved the sense of humor and the hidden growth of characters hidden amongst outrageous creativity.  My favorite character by far is the Hyena - a 12 year old hired assassin with a super power all her own and the ability to use fabulous footwear to get the job done.  I love how Michael Buckley creates a world where you can suspend believe and enjoy the ride.  It even has a semi-hidden message to all bullies in the world....Be nice to NERDS, one day they will rule the world.  Well, there's a lot more to it then that, but you'll just have to read this book to find out.  ;-)

Monday, September 24, 2012

Key Lime Pie by Josi S. Kilpack

To see my reviews of the first three books in the series click here: Lemon Tart, English Trifle, and Devil's Food Cake.
Title: Key Lime Pie (Culinary Mystery #4)
Author: Josi S. Kilpack
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: Adult Mystery
Rating: Adore
Alerts/Warnings: None
Premise: "Part-time detective and full-time food lover Sadie Hoffmiller has traveled to the Florida Keys to help her new friend, Eric, track down the whereabouts of his missing daughter, Megan" (King County Library System).
Opinions: This book continues on with the life of spunky, tenacious, food-addicted Sadie Hoffmiller.  I adore that the book begins with Sadie filling her community service duties as penetence for what happened in the last book.  I also loved the additional tension as Sadie has to determine her feelings for Eric (met in book 3) vs. Pete (met in book 1).  This is a great book for showing Sadie growing by leaps and bounds and she is full of faith in people and in food.  Josi S. Kilpack does a fantastic job carrying on an incredibly fun mystery series with inventive twists and turns that keep me reading.  I've already put book five on hold at my library.  I recommend you do too.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Janitors by Tyler Whitesides

Title: Janitors (Janitors #1)
Author: Tyler Whitesides
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: Middle-Grade Fantasy
Rating: Like
Alerts/Warnings: None
Premise: "A sixth grader stumbles upon a secret that threatens to turn schoolchildren everywhere into mindless automatons" (King County Library System). 
Opinions: This was an interesting book to read.  The plot is inventive.  I mean who else would come up with the idea of school janitors mixed with magic.  I loved Tyler Whitesides ability to take things that we take for granted when going to school and putting unusual twists to them.  I'm intrigued by the main characters - Spencer and Daisy.  Spencer is slightly OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) and often feels the need to clean his room and to wash his hands.  Daisy is highly gullible, especially when she is nervous and is often misled by the school bully because of it.  However, Daisy and Spencer make a great duo for combating the evils that invade their school. This book is definitely written for a younger audience, but would be great for parents reading together with their young kids.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Title: The Hunger Games (Hunger Games #1)
Author: Suzanne Collins
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: YA Fiction/Dystopian
Rating: Adore
Alerts/Warnings: High Violence but with a soft touch (I'll explain below)
Premise "In a future North America, where the rulers of Panem maintain control through an annual televised survival competition pitting young people from each of the twelve districts against one another, sixteen-year-old Katniss's skills are put to the test when she voluntarily takes her younger sister's place" (King County Library System)..
Opinions: I know!!! I am SO behind the times.  I just barely read The Hunger Games.  In my defense, when I first tried to place a hold on this book at the library I was #96 in line.  Now having read it I see why so many be are absolutely nuts about it.  For me...I quite enjoyed it, but I'm not obsessed by it.The reason is that it was more violence than I usually prefer.  However, I do have to give major kudos to Suzanne Collins.  Even though the story requires there to be that violence she actually does quite a tame job with it.  There is no overly extensive description of that violence.

Overall, I quite enjoyed reading this book.  It's smooth reading and the characters are well developed.  The plot is highly intriguing and engaging and the book was hard to put down.  My favorite characters by far are Rue followed by Peeta.  Again, my only issue was a personal preference of less violence.  As such, I recommend this for older teens and adults, unless our Fabulous Reads parents out there read it first to see if their children can handle it.  So if you enjoy dystopian novels than I highly recommend reading this book.  As for me, I am going to borrow book two and three from a friend so I don't have to wait to get it from the library.  Then, once I'm done then I will enjoy the movie.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Clockwork Three by Matthew J. Kirby

Title: The Clockwork Three
Author: Matthew J. Kirby
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: Junior Steampunk Fiction
Rating:  Fabulous!!!
Alerts/Warnings: Some Violence
Premise: "As mysterious circumstances bring Giuseppe, Frederick, and Hannah together, their lives soon interlock like the turning gears in a clock and they realize that each one holds a key to solving the others' mysteries" (King County Library System).
Opinions: The Clockwork Three is a stand alone novel that is incredibly well written to the point that the story and the people came alive to my imagination and I found myself easy immerse inside of it.  Matthew J. Kirby does a wonderful job of interweaving three individual stories so that you can see how each person's actions can affect someone else.  Giuseppe, Frederick, and Hannah are amazing characters. I love Giuseppe's beautiful talent with music.  I admire the courage of Hannah when she does all she can to take care of her family.  And I am impressed by Fredrick's ingenuity and his heart.  The three youth may not always make the best decisions, but they learn to trust and build friendships with each other and grow through extensive difficulties. I highly recommend this book for all ages to read.

Friday, August 31, 2012

The Empress's Tomb by Kirsten Miller

To read my review of the first book in this series click here: Inside the Shadow City.


Title: The Empress's Tomb (Kiki Strike #2)
Author: Kirsten Miller
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: YAMystery
Rating: Adore
Alerts/Warnings: None
Premise: "Fourteen-year-olds Ananka Fishbein, Kiki Strike, and the other Irregulars encounter a Chinese mummy, a ghost, trained squirrels, and old enemies as they try to stop an art forgery ring and safeguard the secret streets hidden beneath New York City" (King County Library System).
Opinions:  The group of Irregulars, who were founded in book one (Kiki Strike: Inside the Shadow City), continue to be a fantastic mix of personalities and talents.  The Empress's Tomb is a perfect sequel in that it retained several aspects of the first book that I adored, but still increased the level of intrigue dramatically.  I still LOVE Ananka.  I loved seeing her delve into issues of faith in others.  I loved wondering if the Irregulars would stand through amazing trials as true friends, or be torn apart by mistrust. I love the diversity in characters.  I also enjoyed seeing the interactions between several of the girls and their "parents".  This series is a brilliant one for focusing on the inner strength and self-worth of teen girls. The plot is intriguing and the twists engaging.  I highly recommend this for anyone who enjoys a great adventure.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Council of Mirrors by Michael Buckley

To read my review of the first book in this series click here: The Sisters Grimm: Fairy-Tale Detectives.

Title: The Council of Mirrors (Sister Grimm #9)
Author: Michael Buckley
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: Mid-Grade Fantasy
Rating: Fabulous
Alerts/Warnings: Death related to fantastical battles
Premise: "Hoping to save their family and the citizens of Ferryport Landing from the evil plans of Mirror, Sabrina and Daphne Grimm seek counsel from the other magic mirrors, who advise them to join forces with the Scarlet Hand." (King County Library System)
Opinions: This series is brilliant on so many levels and this book provides an awesome conclusion.  Mr. Canis remains one of my favorite characters throughout the series, as well as Puck, The Trickster King.  But overall I still LOVE the sisters, Sabrina and Daphne and the sacrifices and growth they make in this final story. In fact, this book left me bawling, in a happy-resolved sort of way when we finished it last night.

Michael Buckley does a fantastic job of weaving in all sorts of fairytale characters in such a brilliant manner that they come alive for a whole new generation of readers.  I'm really hoping that this series will trigger kids of all ages to reevaluate classic fairy tales for themselves. In fact, this series made the Fabulous Reads list of Top 100 favorite books (to see what other books were on the list click here) a few years ago and it still belongs there,  So, if you haven't read this series, then stop waiting and go to your library right now and check it out.  Parents: This is one of those series that can entice even the most reluctant young reader out there and pique their interest.  Give it a try and let us know what you think.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Devil's Food Cake by Josi S. Kilpack

To read my reviews of the first two books in this series click here: Lemon Tart, English Trifle.

Title: Devil's Food Cake (A Culinary Mystery #3)
Author: Josi S. Kilpack
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: Adult Mystery
Rating: Adore
Alerts/Warnings: None
Premise: "When a literary agent dies at a library fundraiser, Sadie Hoffmiller finds herself on the trail of the murderer. As she digs deeper into the mystery she discovers connections to an unsolved decade-old murder-suicide" (King County Library System).
Opinions: Sadie strikes again and my kids suffered for it. I spent all day with my nose in this book.  I did take a break to feed my kids lunch, but opted for a granola bar for myself so that I could return to this book's pages.

I love how easy and smooth Ms. Kilpack's writing is and yet I was still surprised by some of the twists and turns...let alone the culprit.  I love how everything revolves around food when it comes to Sadie Hoffmiller.  I love her tenacity and her spunk.  I also love how she mentally reevaluates the choices that she makes along the way.  I was glad to get to see her son, Shawn, in this book which allowed a deeper entrance for the reader into a different aspect of Sadie's life.  Overall, if you want to read a fun mystery, then this series is for you.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Anatomy of Peace: Resolving the Heart of Conflict by Arbinger Institute

Title: The Anatomy of Peace: Resolving the Heart of Conflict
Author: Arbinger Institute
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: Adult Self-Help/Non-Fiction/Fiction (I'll explain below)
Rating: FABULOUS!!!!
Alerts/Warnings: None
Premise: "The world over, seemingly intractable situations are a source of frustration and anxiety. Sometimes it seems like no matter how much people may try to make things work, their best efforts continually fail. Whether a thorny relationship with a parent, a boss that just doesn't get it, or even warring people on the nightly news, these difficult situations often lead to waves of bitterness and regret. "The Anatomy of Peace" offers a potent solution to this devastating problem. Written as an engaging story, the book shows how mistaken views of ourselves can cause us to misread situations and exacerbate the issues we wish to improve. Arguing that it is only after we understand ourselves and get our internal house in order that we can correctly confront external conflicts, the book shows what can be done to make that happen, and how to make inner peace a potent tool for achieving outer satisfaction" (King County Library System)
Opinions:This book is FANTASTIC!!! I originally wasn't sure what to think when my husband came home from work reading this book.  When he was finished he told me that his boss had given it to his entire team and even suggested that their spouses read it as well.  Now I love a good self-help book, but when someone else tells you that you need help, if you are like me, my guard instantly went up and it may take a while to let it down again.  I was well prepared not to like this book. 

What surprised me is that even though this is a leadership training self-help book it is written in the style of a story--and a great one at that.  The characters are compelling and easy to relate to. The thoughts discussed throughout the story are profound and enlightening.  And the creativity superb.  What a powerful method of teaching how to see within oneself and honestly find areas that need improvement in order to establish an environment of peace that helps while dealing with all types of outer conflict. 

That is why I was unclear as to where this book fits within a genre, because its a self-help about non-fiction issues, but presented through a story. When I put this book down I kept thinking about the characters and how they might have implemented the changes in their life, and wished that there was a sequel.  Well, guess what? There sort of is.  Technically it was written six years prior to this book, but Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting out of the Box carries on the premise of this book describing how to implement the changes from this story within a work environment.  I look forward to reading that as well.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Title: Wonder
Author: R.J. Palacio
Reviewer: Stephanie
Genre: YA Fiction
Rating: LOVE!!
Alerts/Warnings: This book deals with prejudice and hatred of someone who is different.  So there are instances of cruelty toward the main character, but it is tastefully done and very realistic to true life.
Premise: August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He's about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you've ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie's just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he's just like them, despite appearances? (

Opinions: This is an amazing, amazing book.  I have to say, one of my favorite books that has been published this year.  RJ Palacio has written a book that takes you into the world of Auggie and the people around him (his sister, some of the kids he meets at school) and shows you realistically how people think and feel about people who are different.  Even people we love who are different.

The whole time I was reading this book I kept thinking of a line from a song that says, "We don't like what we don't understand.  And it scares us."  I felt it was fitting.  Auggie knows he is different.  He knows people stare.  But he is smart and wants friends and wants people to see beyond his physical appearance.

This is a touching story and RJ Palacio wrote it so beautifully.  It flows seamlessly and realistically.  It shows a loving and flawed family.  I think that is one of the best things she does in this story is to show the reality of people's emotions and motivations.  She is a talented writer and I am excited to see what she writes next.

Monday, August 13, 2012

English Trifle by Josi S. Kilpack

To read my review of the first book in this series click here: Lemon Tart.

Title: English Trifle (Culinary Mystery #2)
Author: Josi S. Kilpack
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: Adult Mystery
Rating: Love
Alerts/Warnings:  None
Premise: "What begins as a holiday trip for amateur sleuth and cooking aficionado Sadie Hoffmiller and her daughter, Breanna, turns into a bizarre mystery. First comes the discovery of a dead body in the sitting room of an English manor belonging to the family of Breanna's boyfriend, who is also heir to the family title. When the body comes up missing, Sadie begins her own investigation to find the killer" (King County Library System).
Opinions: So far, I am really enjoying this series.  I still love Sadie Hoffmiller.  This time around I was a little envious of her tenacity.  She sure gives the English Gentry (and their staff) a run for their money.  I would not have the gall to pull some of the stuff that she did, but good for her.  What is doubly great is that, with Sadie, everything revolves around food.  When she finds a food she loves she will hound the cook/chef for the recipe and then, whether or not she gets said recipe, she will go home and try to recreate and modify the recipe until she gets it perfect (according to Sadie).  Now, that's the way to go. 

I also loved getting to see more of Breanna and watch her develop through some difficult issues.  My favorite character has to be Grant, the butler.  I like him for many reasons, but especially because he is a complex character...and he stands up to Sadie when she pushes the social barriers.  I also still adore that there are recipes scattered throughout the book for the culinary reader to delve into and try out.  I dare you to try them yourself.  .As for's time to get in the library queue for book 3 - Devil's Food Cake.  Yummy!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Found by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Title: Found (Missing #1)
Author: Margaret Peterson Haddix
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: Mid-Grade Science-Fiction
Rating: Like
Alerts/Warnings: None
Premise: "When thirteen-year-olds Jonah and Chip, who are both adopted, learn they were discovered on a plane that appeared out of nowhere, full of babies with no adults on board, they realize that they have uncovered a mystery involving time travel and two opposing forces, each trying to repair the fabric of time" (American Fork Library System)
Opinions: I'm not sure what I fully think about this book, other than I think that I like it.  Margaret Peterson Haddix wrote several books/series that I ABSOLUTELY LOVE.  One specific series called The Shadow Children (the first book is called Among the Hidden) is a must read. So I was excited to realize that she had come out with another series that I had not yet read.  This book threw me for a loop.  It's about adoption and time-travel . . . not two topics that I would normally connect together, but Ms. Haddix combines them well. 

Her characters are highly believable and intriguing.  I enjoyed Jonah and Chip and seeing how they work together to discover the secrets around their adoptions, but I ADORE Jonah's sister, Katherine.  She is a hoot and a pure-bred little sister.  I enjoy her spunk and her creativity.  Ms. Haddix also does a brilliant job of showing the struggles that various parents go through in regards to dealing with adoption and whether or not to tell their child that they are adopted.  Overall, I like the promise of where this was going and look forward to checking out the rest of her Missing series.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Serpent's Shadow by Rick Riordan

To see my reviews of the first two books in this series click here:  The Red Pyramid, The Throne of Fire.

Title: The Serpent's Shadow (Kane Chronicles #3)
Author: Rick Riordan
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: Mid-Grade Sci-Fantasy
Rating: Love
Alerts/Warnings: Some Fantastical Violence
Premise:"Despite their best efforts, Carter and Sade Kane can't seem to keep Apophis, the chaos snake, down. Their only hope: find an ancient spell that might turn the serpent's own shadow into a weapon." (American Fork Library System)
Opinion:  This book is an exciting conclusion to the series.  I love seeing Sadie's growth and her continual struggle between liking both Walt (who is marked for death) and Anubis (the God of Death).  I also loved seeing the relationship between Zia and Carter and the intriguing tie that Zia has with the Sun God Ra. In fact, Zia has to be my favorite character in this particular novel, followed closely by Hapi the hippy God of the Nile. Seriously LOVE the fascinating characters that Mr. Riordan came up with.

This book, and the whole series, was an intriguing way to make Egyptian history fascinating to a new generation. I love the twists and turns and wondering who the characters could trust to help them fight against Apophis.  You never know if enemies will become allies, or will friends betray the siblings.  I also was intrigued and the continual enigmatic mention of characters/gods from Mr. Riordan's other series leaving me wonder if the author plans on doing a cross-over series between the Kane Chronicles and his Heroes of Olympus series.  Only time will tell.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Kiki Strike: Inside the Shadow City by Kirsten Miller

Title: Inside the Shadow City (Kiki Strike #1)
Author: Kirsten Miller
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: YA Mystery
Rating: Love
Alerts/Warnings: Minor Swearing
Premise: "
Life becomes more interesting for Ananka Fishbein when, at the age of twelve, she discovers an underground room in the park across from her New York City apartment and meets a mysterious girl called Kiki Strike who claims that she, too, wants to explore the subterranean world." (American Fork Library System)
Opinions: This was a fun read.  It is a book filled with fascinating twists and turns and strong young women characters.  It's a great book to show the strength and brilliance that pre-teen/teen young women can find within themselves.  Even though the story is told about Kiki Strike, girl detective, my favor character is the narrator Ananka Fishbein.  I love seeing her develop through the story and to find faith in herself and in friendship.  I also love the brilliant way the author interweaves interesting facts about New York that bring a different world to light for the reader.  Overall, this a great read for young women (and some not so young) who love mystery. I, for one, intend to seek out my library this week for book two in the series.  I let you know how it goes.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Icefall by Matthew J. Kirby

Title: Icefall
Author: Matthew J. Kirby
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: Youth/Junior or Young Adult depending on your library Historical Fiction
Rating: Fabulous
Alerts/Warnings: None
Premise: "Princess Solveig and her siblings are trapped in a hidden fortress tucked between towering mountains and a frozen fjord, along with her best friend and an army of restless soldiers, all awaiting news of the king's victory in battle, but as they wait for winter's end and the all-encompassing ice to break, acts of treachery make it clear that a traitor lurks in their midst." (King County Library System)
Opinions:  I love tales surrounding Norwegian history or mythology, so I thoroughly enjoyed delving into this world and learning more about it.  I loved the intriguing characters. Solveig is, by far, my favorite, and I felt very connected to her and to what she learns about herself and others. I also love the complexity of the relationship between characters, especially between the classes and roles and what happens when events start to make preconceived believes begin to unravel.   Mr. Kirby's writing and use of words are beautiful and descriptive and draws you into the tails that Solveig weaves.  Icefall is a great tale of discovering the strength within yourself and a book that I had a hard time putting down.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Long Way Home by Karen McQuestion

Title: The Long Way Home
Author: Karen McQuestion
Reviewer: Stephanie
Genre: Adult Fiction (Mildly Paranormal?)
Rating: Worship
Alerts/Warnings: There is a talk about a murder and two physical attacks on a character
Premise: For Wisconsinites Marnie, Laverne and Rita, life isn't working out so well. Each is biding time, waiting for something better, something to transport them out of what their lives have recently become. And then there's Jazzy: bubbly, positive, and happy even though she hears voices of the departed. Brought together by a chance meeting, the women decide to join Marnie on a road trip from Wisconsin to Las Vegas where she intends to reunite with Troy, the boy she raised as her own—and who she’s been separated from since her boyfriend’s death. Little do they know that as the road trip unfolds, so will their lives—in directions they never anticipated. Humorous, heartwarming, and bittersweet, the journey has something special in store for each woman.

Opinions: So this is the third book I have read and reviewed by Karen McQuestion.  The other two (here and here) are YA fantasy.  So I didn't know what to expect from this novel since it was not at all like the other two I've read.  This is most assuredly a book for adults.  Three of the characters are dealing with the death or loss of a loved one and the fourth character hears the voices of departed souls.  Unexpectedly thrown together, these four women go on a road trip to help one of the women try to reconnect with her stepson.

I love the use of the physical journey mirroring the mental journey these four women take.  I really felt the pain that they were in and the healing process they went through.  This is one of Karen McQuestions' strengths as a writer.  She writers her characters so effortlessly that you connect with them easily and quickly.  I was hooked from the very beginning of the book and I couldn't put it down.  I felt like I was a part of the group on the journey to Nevada.

This is a phenomenal book.  It was a great piece of fiction and I enthusiastically encourage you to take the time to read it.  It is worth it.

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Skeleton's Knife by Joni Sensel

Title: The Skeleton's Knife
Author: Joni Sensel
Reviewer: Stephanie
Genre: YA Fantasy
Rating: Worship
Alerts/Warnings: Deals with ghosts and spooks. There is a journey to the land of the dead that is creepy with some otherworldly violence.
Premise: When 14-year-old Ariel Farwalker sets out to return a dead enemy's knife to its source, she lends strength to an evil that seeks her attention. Aided by a new friend with a smuggler's savvy and a talent for charming the wind, Ariel must travel to the land of the dead to save someone she loves and bury both the knife and the past. If she fails, neither she nor her most beloved friends will survive.

Opinions: Now I have to admit I was SUPER excited to read this book.  In preparation for it, I read the first two books again so it would be fresh in my head.  And, honestly, it wasn't the story that I was expecting, but I loved it.  I thought it was a very satisfying ending to a great trilogy.  Ariel and Scarl go on a journey to purge themselves of the violence in their past that haunted them.  Zeke joins them and through this journey they all find  the closure they need.

It has a different feel to it than the first two books.  It's a little darker.  Okay, a lot darker.  But I loved it.  Joni Sensel is an amazing writer and I am excited to see what she writes next.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Timekeeper's Moon by Joni Sensel

Title: The Timekeeper's Moon
Author: Joni Sensel
Reviewer: Stephanie
Genre: YA Fantasy
Rating: Worship
Alerts/Warnings: none
Premise: When Ariel Farwalker hears the moon talking to her, she thinks she must be going crazy. Then she discovers an ancient map, and learns that the moon is part of a mysterious summons that's calling her on a new journey.

With her surly guardian Scarl by her side, Ariel sets out on an adventure that leads her to new friends-the beautiful Flame-Mage Sienna and the mute boy Nace, who captures Ariel's heart. As the four travel on, strange things start to happen-fragments of Ariel's past appear in the present, so that it seems that time itself is coming undone. At the end of the journey, Ariel will learn where her journey began, and have a chance to save her life as she knows it.

Opinions: I am ashamed to admit that I read this book over a year ago and forgot to write a review (hangs head in shame). So I am going to repent and write this review now. PLUS the next review I post will be the final book in this trilogy. The first book in this trilogy is "The Farwalker's Quest" (for my review go here.) When I finished "The Farwalker's Quest" I was completely satisfied. While I wanted to read a sequel, I wasn't sure there would be one. However! I am so glad that there is! I loved loved loved this book. It follows Ariel and Scarl on a journey pushed on Ariel by the moon.

One of the things I like about this book is that in "The Farwalker's Quest" Ariel is learning that she is a farwalker and what that means.  In this book, she is actually farwalking, and it is both interesting and complex.  I love how she grows.  I also really like how her character develops.  Plus the new characters appeal to me and are highly delightful.

This is an amazing series that I have loved.  Stay tuned for my review on the final book.  It's a good one.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Way to Start A Day by Byrd Baylor

Title: The Way to Start A Day
Author: Byrd Baylor (Illustrator: Peter Parnall)
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: Children's Picture Book
Rating: Love
Alerts/Warnings: None
Premise:"Text and illustrations describe how people all over the world celebrate the sunrise." (King County Library System)
Opinions: For our book club this month we are reading a series of Byrd Baylor books. I started by reading this Caldecott Honor book to my daughter this evening and thought it was quite beautiful. The book describes different cultures and ways that they honor the sun. The illustrations fit the language wonderfully and help children to follow along with each culture described. For anyone with little kids this book is a great tool to talk to your children about how everyone starts the day differently.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Lemon Tart by Josi S. Kilpack

Title: Lemon Tart: A Culinary Mystery (Book #1)
Author: Josi S. Kilpack
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: Adult Mystery
Alerts/Warnings: Murder and nefarious behavior assorted with such crimes
Premise: "Cooking aficionado turned amateur detective Sadie Hoffmiller tries to solve the murder of her beautiful young neighbor--a single mother who was mysteriously lured from her home while a lemon tart was baking in her oven. At the heart of Sadie's search is the woman's missing two year-old child." (King County Library System)
Opinions: I KNOW!!! Two reviews from me in under a week. Since I was crazy and had a third kid last year I haven't been able to focus my brain power on as much reading as I would like. However, I've had several people recommend to me the works of Josi S. Kilpack. So I rushed a request off to my local library and yesterday they had the first book in this series ready and waiting for me. I've said it before, but I am a mystery fan. Have been since I was about 10 or so (memories get fuzzy with lack of sleep...oh and age). So I picked it up yesterday and here I am at almost 11:30 pm writing a review about this book. Why? Because I could NOT put it down. It was FABULOUS!!!

I love Sadie, the main character, she is brilliantly written. She is absolutely the kind of woman I would love to know. She is witty, intelligent, has dealt with struggles in life, but come out ahead. She also is kindhearted and tries to be helpful whenever she can(even if it gets her in trouble with the police). She is a spunky, sassy, brilliant heroine. On a side note, I also LOVE that there are recipes included at the end of each chapter. And the frustrating part is now I have to go buy a copy just to have the recipes (let alone the great mystery that comes with them). The suspense is great, and the twists and turns keep you jumping around trying to figure out who really committed the crime. The library better be ready for me, because now I simply have to read the rest of the series and I suggest that you check them out as well.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

I Am Half Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley

To read my reviews of the other books in this series see: March 31, 2011 post for The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, April 20, 2011 for The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag, and Sept 1, 2011 for A Red Herring Without Mustard (I apologize that for some reason I can't get the hyperlinks to work at this time).

Title:I Am Half Sick of Shadows (Flavia De Luce #4)
Author: Alan Bradley
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: Adult Mystery
Rating: Love
Alerts/Warnings: Death associated with murder mysteries
Premise: "Colonel de Luce, in desperate need of funds, rents his beloved estate of Buckshaw over to a film company. They will be shooting a movie over the Christmas holidays, filming scenes in the stately manse with a famous and reclusive star. She is widely despised, so it is to no one's surprise when she turns up murdered, strangled by a length of film from her own movies! With the snow raging outside and Buckshaw locked in, the house is full of suspects. But Flavia de Luce is more than ready to solve the wintry country-house murder. She'll have to be quick-witted, though, to negotiate the volatile chemicals of a cast and crew starting to crack--and locked in a house with a murderer!" (King County Library System)
Opinions: I enjoy a really good murder mystery and this was a really fun murder mystery. Once again the preteen chemistry expert, Flavia de Luce, strives to solve a murder before the police. The thing that I quite enjoy about Flavia is that, even though she is brilliant, she is still a kid at heart and is looking for solid ground in life to stand on. She still has childhood wishes and dreams. This makes her a complex character that I love to read about. Flavia's ingenuity knows no bounds and her love for chemistry keeps the subject far from boring for one as me who isn't so proficient in that area. Mr Bradley does a fantastic job piquing the readers interest and leaving them looking forward to finding out what this pint-sized heroine will be up to next.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Call for Suggestions

We would LOVE to expand our reading horizons here at FabulousReads and we need your help. If you know of a book that you think is absolutely, remarkably, fabulous then please let us know. If our libraries have it then we would be honored to read it and, if we like it, then recommend it to everyone who follows this site. So start perusing those bookshelves of yours and let us know what you think we ought to read next.

Karen & Stephanie

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Posse of Princesses by Sherwood Smith

Title: A Posse of Princesses
Author: Sherwood Smith
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: YA Fantasy
Rating: Fabulous
Alerts/Warnings: None
Premise: "Rhis, princess of a small kingdom, is invited along with all the other princesses in her part of the world to the coming of age party of the Crown Prince of Vesarja, which is the central and most important kingdom. When Iardith, the prettiest and most perfect of all the princesses, is abducted, Rhis and her friends go to the rescue. What happens to Rhis and her posse has unexpected results not only for the princesses, but for the princes who chase after them. Everyone learns a lot about friendship and hate, politics and laughter, romantic ballads and sleeping in the dirt with nothing but a sword for company. But most of all they learn about the many meanings of love." (King County Library System)
Opinions: This was a fantastic read. I adored Rhis as a character. She was a dreamer with just the right touch of practicality and reality and all around good person. The first half of the book is spent establishing each of the characters and how they react to each other at a courtly event before the rest of the story unfolds, but its fun getting there. Once the rest of the story unfolds it was a struggle to get my family to leave me alone so that I could find out what happened next. There were parts of the story that I guessed about in advanced, but that did nothing to change how enjoyable the read was for me. This is definitely a great read for teenagers, young adults, and adults alike. My husband even read it before me and enjoyed it (keeping in mind he has highly eclectic tastes in books). So if you like books about strong princesses, fun intrigue, and dashing young men, etc., then this is a great book for you.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Dearly Departed by Tristi Pinkston

Title: Dearly Departed (Secret Sisters Mystery #2)
Author: Tristi Pinkston
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: LDS Fiction/Mystery
Rating: Fabulous
Alerts/Warnings: None
Premise: "Ida Mae Babbitt has done her community service and is a reformed woman—no more law-breaking for her. But when Arlette’s granddaughter Eden discovers a mystery in a fancy nursing home, Ida Mae—with the perfect excuse of a broken wrist and a broken ankle—checks herself into the place. After all, it is for the greater good. Soon she’s buzzing around in her motorized wheelchair, questioning the residents and swiping files from the office. She’s bound and determined to get to the bottom of this case. But can she solve the mystery before she becomes the next victim?" (
Opinions: Earlier this week I posted the review for the first book in the Secret Sisters series by Tristi Pinkston. I have to say that even though I loved the first book, I think the sequel is sensational. Just my non-professional opinion. If you're a lover of fun mysteries then this book will be right up your alley.

The humor carries through in this book just like the first one, which is a must. Plus, we get to see such fantastic characters excel to new heights. I adore Ida Mae and loved delving into her psyche even deeper and in such a tough physical situation for her. I also was excited to get to see more of Eden. She is my favorite character in this book. I love her internal battles, her spunk, and her willingness to dunk crispy bean burritos in ranch (rock on girlfriend - I thought I was the only one). I loved seeing the same crazy antics from some really awesome women placed in a new and exciting situation as they search into a possible murder. I can't wait to read um, Tristi (if you're reading this)...when is the next installment coming out?

Monday, February 27, 2012

Secret Sisters by Tristi Pinkston

Title: Secret Sisters
Author: Tristi Pinkston
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: LDS Fiction/Mystery
Rating: LOVE
Alerts/Warnings: None
Premise: "Ida Mae Babbitt, president of the Omni 2nd Ward Relief Society, didn't mean to become a spy. But when visiting teaching stats are low, and she learns that one family under her care is in financial trouble, she'll do whatever it takes to make sure they have what they need. If that includes planting surveillance cameras in their home and watching them from a parked car in the woods... well, isn't that what any caring Relief Society president would do? With the help of her counselors, Arlette and Tansy, Ida Mae soon learns that there's more to the situation than meets the eye. But it's all in a day's work for the Relief Society." (Book Cover)
Opinions: I had read another of Tristi's novels a while back, so when my family and I saw Tristi at Costco one day we went ahead and bought the book she was signing. The only problem is that it was book two of the Secret Sisters series and I hadn't read book one yet. So I promptly went to my local library and requested that they purchase book one. It came in last week!!!! I was so excited to get it and begin to read it. I have to say, it was a fabulously unique read. It is what I would call LDS Fiction (the majority of characters are "Mormon")with a twist of detective story and a lot of humor. I love these characters. They are all so human, and brilliant, and lovable - especially Ida Mae. On top of that, Tristi's turn of phrases are perfect (i.e. check out pg 72 first paragraph - I nearly dropped the book laughing), especially if you understand LDS culture. The plot originally seemed unusual but the more and more I thought about it, and the more I read, I realized that I could so see that happening to a group of well-meaning women. So overall opinion? If your library does not have this book, please request it. It will be worth it. As for me, I can't wait for a doctor's appointment tomorrow so that I can delve into book two, Dearly Departed. Keep your eyes posted for a forthcoming review.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King

Title: The Beekeeper's Apprentice: On the Segregation of the Queen (Mary Russell #1)
Author: Laurie R. King
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: Mystery/Historical Fiction
Rating: Fabulous
Alerts/Warnings: Mild Language
Premise: "A chance meeting with an elderly beekeeper turns into a pivotal, personal transformation when fifteen-year-old Mary Russell discovers that the beekeeper is the reclusive Sherlock Holmes, who soon takes on the role of mentor and teacher." (King County Library System)
Opinions: I LOVE this series from the moment I read this book for the first time. I just re-read it for the 5th time so that I could lead a book club discussion. I still LOVE this book. I've read many of the original Sherlock Holmes stories, and have seen even more of the film portrayals of them. I have always loved the way the stories are told, the mysteries, and the brilliant deductions. This book lets me continue my love for these type of stories by seeing the intricacies of the life of Sherlock Holmes from Mary Russell's point of view. The stories become even more brilliant because of Mary Russell herself. She is a complex character that matches wits with Sherlock Holmes and can possibly excel further from being under his tutelage. I love also seeing other characters from the traditional stories through a new, modern, and brilliant light. I also love how the characters become so real to you as you read. This is a must read if you love Sherlock Holmes or detective novels. And once you read this then you should read the ENTIRE series (I'm just saying....its that good).

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Framed by Malcolm Rose

Title: Framed (Traces #1)
Author: Malcolm Rose
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: YA Mystery
Rating: Love
Alerts/Warnings: Moderate descriptions of murder scenes
Premise: "Forensic scientist Luke Harding and his robot assistant must solve a series of on-campus murders, especially since Luke is being framed for the murders." (King County Library System)
Opinions: This was a fast and intriguing read. Set in the future in England the majority of people are brown-skinned and the white is considered the minority. In this world people are also "paired" together to produce the best genetic result based on the field that they are in. So if you are brilliant in science you will be paired with a mate who is also in science. If you are in athletics than you will be paired with a mate who will help produce the best genetic offspring for athletics.

What's even more intriguing about the world that Malcolm Rose created is his main character, Luke. Having just barely graduated as the youngest forensic investigator ever he is almost instantly put on assignment to investigate a murder at his own school. I also love "Malc" (Mobile Aid to Law and Crime). He is a mechanical "Watson" to Luke as "Holmes". I love the relationship between these two characters as they work to solve the crime where all the clues point to Luke himself as the main suspect. This book is a unique twist on the typical murder mystery. Some of the descriptions of the crime scenes might be too gruesome for some readers, but other than that I definitely recommend this book as an enjoyable read.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan

Title: The Son of Neptune (Heroes of Olympus Book 2)
Author: Rick Riordan
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: YA Fiction/Fantasy
Rating: Fabulous
Alerts/Warnings: None
Premise: "Demigod Percy Jackson, still with no memory, and his new friends from Camp Jupiter, Hazel and Frank, go on a quest to free Death, but their bigger task is to unite the Greek and Roman camps so that the Prophecy of Seven can be fulfilled." (King County Library System)
Opinions: Whereas the first book was from Jason's point of view visiting Camp Half Blood and those there that help him on his quest, this book we are back to Percy Jackson who is visiting Jason's home camp. I like the idea of this series of visiting two different cultures, Roman and Greek, where the pantheon of Gods is basically the same, but with different names and personalities. I like the idea of these two camps getting together and working through the disaster the Gia, the Earth goddess is throwing at them.

In this particular book I think my favorite characters are Hazel and Frank, Percy's fellow questers. Their histories are fascinating and their abilities brilliant. I love seeing things from a Roman standpoint; so even though Percy is the son of Poseidon, in the Roman world he is the Son of Neptune. It can be a little confusing at time, but still a brilliant idea. I especially love the Amazons and the harpies. I think mostly because they live in the Northwest - a place I'm personally very fond of. Mr. Riordan's continual attention to detail and imagery draws the reader in from the very start and makes this another one of his series that is hard to put down. I highly recommend it.