Monday, December 21, 2009

Emeralds & Espionage by Lynn Gardner

Title: Emeralds & Espionage
Author: Lynn Gardner
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: Mystery/LDS Fiction
Rating: Fabulous
Alerts/Warnings: Some violence related to international espionage
Premise: Allison Alexander, home in California on a brief vacation from her work at the United Nations, is shot at and pursued by mysterious intruders who have taken over the estate on which she and her mother have lives as caretakers since Allison was a child. Thus beings a terror-filled week during which she discovers that nearly everyone she loves is involved in some way with an international espionage ring--but are they the good guys or the bad guys? Is Bart, the man she has loved since they played together as children, a secret government agent--or does he answer to an underworld crime boss? If she doesn't go along with his unbelievable scheme, will it cost them their lives? Does he really love her, or is he just using her?
Opinions: Emerald & Espionage is the first in a series of mystery novels written by author Lynn Gardner that focuses around United Nations interpreter Allison Alexander, and all of them are focused around jewels and international intrigue. This was the second time I have read this book, and I enjoyed it so much that I could not put it down...finishing it in under a day. I LOVE books with strong female characters who do not wait for a man to save the day. Allison is a brilliant, intelligent character, plagued by fears of past abandonment having to deal with family and friends that suddenly return into her life after years of absence. Allison has to deal with the turmoil of emotions that arise as a result, the whole time that she is dodging bullets, saving a pair of royal hostages, traveling across the world in order to save loved ones and to find out the truth about herself and her family. This book is an amazing read that will keep you on the edge of your seat all the way to the end and on to the remainder of the series. Please, please read this book.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Moon--Spinners by Mary Stewart

Title: The Moon-Spinners
Author: Mary Stewart
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: Mystery/Romance
Rating: Love
Alerts/Warnings: None
Premise: The Greek isle of Crete is the setting for the final sale of a fortune in stolen emeralds by a ruthless, desperate thief. However, two youthful sleuths, an English girl on holiday with her aunt and a young man wrongly accused of the crime, set out to expose the criminal, and are drawn into a death-defying adventure. (Provo Library)
Opinions: This was the first book that I read by Mary Stewart for an English class back in junior high. I was immediately hooked on her ability to spin a good tale of mystery with a hint of romance in it. Nicola Ferris, a junior secretary at the British Embassy in Athens, arrives in the Cretan village of Agios Gerogios a day early to spend her Easter vacation. As her aunt isn't expected to arrive for another day, this impetuous young woman decides to stow her luggage in a nearby ravine and enjoy a day of exploring the mountains of Crete. While enjoying a brief respite at a nearby water source Nicola finds herself ambushed by a Greek man, Lambis, who threatens her life. She soon discovers that Lambis is only protecting Mark Langley, another English tourist, who has been wounded when he and his brother Colin, stumbled upon a murder. Mark was shot and Colin kidnapped. After helping Mark survive through another restless night while Lambis returns to their boat for medical supplies and food, Nicola attempts to do as the men wish and return to the village and her vacation as if nothing ever happened. Unfortunately, Nicola finds herself thrust deeper into the mystery and right into the unsuspecting hands of the murderers themselves.

Written in 1962 it is a wonderful story that shows the strength and Independence of a woman even when thrown into unsuspecting circumstances. I love that Nicola will not willingly standby to let an injustice occur, nor leave someone wounded without leaping into help, this story reminds me in many ways of the tale of the Good Samaritan from the bible (the story actually makes several references to the same affect). Though not severely deep or maybe book club worthy, this book is a great tale of mystery and the strength of the individual, and an overall blast to read.

On a side note, I know that a few years after this book's release, Disney made this book into a movie staring Hayley Mills which is a fun movie, but definitely does not do justice to this book and changes a good portion of the characterization and story line. So if you have to choose one, definitely read the book rather than see the movie.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Giveaway Ends

Our Fabulous Giveaway has ended! Thanks to all who entered. I know you just want to know who won. So, the winner is........

who said "I love playing the piano, but I've always wanted to play the flute."

Congratulations Emily!!

We only have one winner this time, so the other book will be given away at a later time. Check back to find out which one you still have a chance to win. Cause I'm not telling you yet! :) We also have a couple more signed books for giveaways next year, and let me tell you. They are AWESOME!!!

Have a Fabulous Holiday Season and we wish you FabulousReading!

Stephanie and Karen

Friday, December 11, 2009

This Rough Magic by Mary Stewart

Go here to enter our Fabulous Giveaway!

Title: This Rough Magic
Author: Mary Stewart
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: Mystery
Rating: Fabulous
Alerts/Warnings: None
Premise: British actress Lucy Waring believes there is no finer place to be "at liberty" than the sun-drenched isle of Corfu, the alleged locale for Shakespeare's The Tempest. Even the suspicious actions of the handsome, arrogant son of a famous actor cannot dampen her enthusiasm for this wonderland in the Ionian Sea. (King County Library System)
Opinions: Originally written in 1964, this is book is one of my all-time favorite books (and definitely my all-time favorite Mary Stewart book). I started reading Mary Stewart novels when I was a teenager and loved books with mystery, strong female characters, and a touch of romance. This book has all of those aspects as well as a fantastic locale (the Greek isle of Corfu), history, and even a dolphin.

Lucy Waring decides to take a break, after the play she was staring in folds, to visit her pregnant sister at her villa on the Isle of Corfu in Greece. Hoping for a few weeks of relaxing vacation to recover from her disappointment at the plays short run, Lucy instead finds herself immersed into a mystery as the Corfoite family that works for her sister is informed of the death of their son and brother, Spiro, who was accidentally thrown overboard while on a sailing trip with Godfrey Manning (the photographer that he is working for) during a midnight photography trip. Things quickly spiral out of control as Lucy finds herself being shot at by a silenced rifle while swimming with a dolphin in the Villa's private bay, and then later discovers another body washed ashore nearby. Lucy has to decide who she can trust, and as she takes matters into her own hands to help solve the occurrences that turn her restful vacation into a nightmare.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Great and Only Barnum by Candace Fleming

Our Fabulous Giveaway is half over. Go here for all the ways to enter.

Title: The Great and Only Barnum: The Tremendous, Stupendous Life of Showman P.T. Barnum
Author: Candace Fleming
Reviewer: Stephanie
Genre: Biography
Rating: Love
Alerts/Warnings: None
Premise: Biography of P.T. Barnum, showman and founder of the Barnum & Bailey Circus. Readers can visit Barnum's American Museum; meet Tom Thumb, the miniature man (only 39 in. tall) and his tinier bride (32 in.); experience the thrill Barnum must have felt when, at age 60, he joined the circus; and discover Barnum's legacy. (King County Library System)

Opinions: Okay, so I admit that I am not a huge fan of non-fiction. Mostly I enjoy fiction. However, I came across this book when looking at the current Newbery canidates and thought I would give it a try. I'm so glad that I did! P.T. Barnum led a fascinating life full of curiosity and fun. He was not above stretching the truth and pulling pranks. He learned at a young age that everyone enjoyed a good prank and didn't mind being on the receiving end of the prank. I loved this book for it's quick pace and interesting facts. I didn't want to put it down. I loved reading about Tom Thumb, the Feejee Mermaid and Jumbo. Barnum was surrounded by the most fascinating people and Candace Fleming allows us as a reader to enter this world for a brief moment with photos and beautiful writing.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan

Our giveaway is half over! Go here for all the ways to enter!

Title: Esperanza Rising
Author: Pam Munoz Ryan
Reviewer: Stephanie
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: Love
Alerts/Warnings: None
Premise: Esperanza and her mother are forced to leave their life of wealth and privilege in Mexico to go work in the labor camps of Southern California, where they must adapt to the harsh circumstances facing Mexican farm workers on the eve of the Great Depression. (King County Library System)

Opinions: Esperanza had a cushy life full of beauty, privledge and love. Yet when several unexpected events happen she ends up having to leave her beautiful and privledged life in Mexico behind for a chance to maintain the love in her life with her mother. So they go to California where Esperanza now has to work for the first time in her life. She learns menial tasks that were beneath her in Mexico. As Esperanza rises like a phoenix out of the ashes of her old life she becomes stronger and a better person.

I love this book. It is beautifully written. The prose is moving and the characters are very well developed. The symbolism throughout the book was moving and powerful. I love the way the story is divided into fruit and vegetable seasons instead of chapters. Not only do you have a beautifully organic feel to the book, you have a connection to the characters and the location. Added bonus you get a true feel for what it would have been like for the workers during the Great Depression.

This is a fabulous book and I hope you love it as much as I do each time I read it.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban

Have you entered our Giveaway yet? You haven't? Well, go here for all the ways to do so.

Title: A Crooked Kind of Perfect
Author: Linda Urban
Reviewer: Stephanie
Genre: YA Fiction
Rating: Love
Alerts/Warnings: none
Premise: Ten-year-old Zoe Elias, who longs to play the piano but must resign herself to learning the organ, instead, finds that her musicianship has a positive impact on her workaholic mother, her jittery father, and her school social life. (King County Library System)
Opinions: Okay, I admit it. I picked up this book to read because of the cover. (So embarrassed I judged a book by it's cover.) HOWEVER, I am deeply in love with this book. Zoe has dreams or performing the piano in Carnagie Hall, but reality sets in when her father gets her an organ instead of a piano. Everything in Zoe's life is just slightly crooked from where she wants it to be, but she grows to learn that perfection is sometimes better when it is slightly crooked. (Okay, I stole that last little blip from the book jacket, but it was just so well worded and I haven't had a lot of sleep this week.)

This book is a quick read and highly entertaining with a beautiful message. It was on my list of books that I thought should have/could have one a Newbery but didn't. This is a must read in my opinions. (And hey that's what I'm giving today.)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith

Don't forget to enter our Giveaway to win this or another book. And if more than 25 different people enter we will give away BOTH FabulousReads.

Title: No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency
Author: Alexander McCall Smith
Reviewer: Stephanie
Genre: Mystery
Rating: Adore
Alerts/Warnings: Some sexual content and violence
Premise: This first novel in Alexander McCall Smith's widely acclaimed The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series tells the story of the delightfully cunning and enormously engaging sleuth Precious Ramotswe, who goes against tradition and starts her own detective agency business - drawn to her profession to "help people with the problems in their lives."
Immediately upon setting up shop in contemporary Botswana, in a small storefront in Gaborone, she is in the thick of several perplexing cases. Hired to track down a missing husband, uncover a con man, and follow a wayward daughter, the case that tugs at her heart, and lands her in danger, is that of a missing eleven-year-old boy, who may have been snatched by witch doctors. (King County Library System)
Opinions: This book was really popular when it first came out. I was working in a bookstore and we had a hard time keeping it on the shelves. We would sell out so quickly. Finally I decided to read it and see what I thought about it. Well, it was not at all what I expected and much better than I had hoped. First off, I have only read the first book in this series. The other books are on my too read list (which is quite long) and someday I will get to them. So I am ONLY reviewing the first book.

Precious Ramotswe is one of the most engaging and realistically bold characters I have ever read. She is straight forward and realistic. She goes through a bunch of not so hot stuff (see alerts) but comes through it with a better understanding of human kind. This book not only has this bold and beautiful character, but it also gives you a look into the country of Botswana. This mix of character and location makes this book a gem to read.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tis the Season to Give

So we are doing our last Fabulous Giveaway this year. Not only are we giving away a FabulousRead, we are giving you a choice between TWO FabulousReads! (I know!)

The contest starts now and goes until Midnight PST December 14th. Then I will assign each entry a number and using a random number generator will select the winner.

Here's the caveat. If more than 25 different people (not entries but people) enter our contest we will give away both books!

So I bet you are wondering what the books are.

No. 1 Ladies Dectective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith



A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban

Ways to Enter:

1. Leave a comment on this or any other post until the 14th telling us the instument you wish you could play or your favorite instrument. (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 (10 entries)
5. Write a review for us. (5 entries per review) 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.

If you are under the age or 18 you must have a parent or legal guardian give consent if you win.
We have also in the past have had people have problems with our comment section. If you have a problem, you can email us your entry at

Reviews for these books will be up in the next day or two. If we get more than 25 people entered the first person will get to choose their desired book and the second winner will get the other book. But both of these are such FabulousReads we hope this is amenable to all. Good Luck all!!