Monday, July 26, 2010

Alcatraz versus the Scrivener's Bones by Brandon Sanderson

To see my review of the first book in this series please click here: Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians.

Title: Alcatraz Versus the Scrivener's Bones
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: MG Fantasy
Rating: Love
Alerts/Warnings: None
Premise: Thirteen-year-old Alcatraz Smedry and his companions seek Al's father and grandfather in the Great Library of Alexandria, where they face undead, soul-stealing wraiths called the Curators of Alexandria, and one of the Scrivener's Bones, a part-human, part-machine mercenary. (King County Library System)
Opinions: I really enjoyed the first book of this series so I was eager to read the next one. Now I can say I love this series. Its focused towards pre-teen to teen boys, but as an adult I got a huge kick out of reading this story. The overall voice of the story is quite unique and I love all the "asides" that the narrator/author goes off on. I loved getting to know the characters better and to see Alcatraz build on his talents in order to save his friends and family. Each character has a definite and distinctive personality which I love and adds whole new levels to the story. Even if you are not a pre-teen boy I definitely recommend this as a fantastic read.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Our Only May Amelia by Jennifer Holm

Title: Our Only May Amelia
Author: Jennifer Holm
Reviewer: Stephanie
Genre: YA Historical Fiction
Rating: Adore
Alerts/Warnings: None
Premise: As the only girl in a Finnish American family of seven brothers, May Amelia Jackson resents being expected to act like a lady while growing up in Washington state in 1899. (King County Library System)
Opinions: This is the story of May Amelia who is the only girl in the wilderness where she lives. She has lots of brothers and as a side effect is very much a tomboy. Yet most of the people in her life tell her she should be a lady, but she doesn't think that ladies have any fun. May Amelia is a interesting character. The reason I like this book is the interactions between the characters feels very real and true. I feel that Jennifer Holm has a good understanding of human relationships and reactions to situations. I have to say that I cried and I enjoyed this book.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Enchanted Glass by Diana Wynne Jones

Title: Enchanted Glass
Author: Diana Wynne Jones
Reviewer: Stephanie
Genre: YA Fantasy
Rating: Like
Alerts/Warnings: None
Premise: After his grandfather dies, Andrew Hope inherits a house and surrounding land in an English village, but things become very complicated when young orphan Aidan shows up and suddenly a host of variously magical townsfolk and interlopers start intruding on their lives. (King County Library System)
Opinions: I think my new favorite word is quirky and it definitely applies to this book. Diana Wynne Jones doesn't do anything but quirky in my book. From the housekeeper/cook who makes cauliflower cheese when she is mad at her boss, to the gardner who punishes his boss with giant turnips. Andrew is a young historian who inherits his grandfathers home and field of care without fully understanding all of the responsibilities that go with it. But when a young boy, Aidan, shows up in need of help Andrew puts forth all his powers to keep Aidan safe. I really enjoyed this book for the uniqueness that it was. I did however think the ending was rushed and I felt that Diana Wynne Jones was looking more to setting the book up for a possible sequel than concluding this book. It does end in a way that I would be happy not reading any future books, but I also feel fairly confident she is planning on writing a sequel---which I would read with enthusiasm.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer Holm

Title: Turtle in Paradise
Author: Jennifer Holm
Reviewer: Stephanie
Genre:Historical Fiction
Rating: Adore
Alerts/Warnings: None
Premise: In 1935, when her mother gets a job housekeeping for a woman who does not like children, eleven-year-old Turtle is sent to stay with relatives she has never met in far away Key West, Florida.
Opinions: This is a very quirky book. Turtle is sent to live with her aunt on Key West during the 1930's. While there she meets her cousins and grandmother (whom she was told was dead). This is a cast of fun and interesting characters in a crazy vinettey story. Turtle spends time working on a sponge boat, helping the diaper gang and searching for buried pirate treasure. Through this whole thing she learns the true meaning of home. This is a touching story and I really enjoy Jennifer Holm's writing style. Jennifer Holm is really good at historical fiction that is highly character driven. There is a lot of potty jokes in this, but as a potty-training mom I was laughing hysterically at the little boy who was always losing his pants.

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Rising Star of Rusty Nail by Lesley M. M. Blume

Title: The Rising Star of Rusty Nail
Author: Lesley M. M. Blume
Reviewer: Stephanie
Genre: YA Fiction
Rating: Adore
Alerts/Warnings: None
Premise:In the small town of Rusty Nail, Minnesota, in the early 1950s, musically talented ten-year-old Franny wants to take advanced piano lessons from newcomer Olga Malenkov, a famous Russian musician suspected of being a communist spy by gossipy members of the community. (King County Library System)
Opinions: Okay, I admit it. I picked up this book solely based on the fact that the title tickled me. Even further, I admit that I had very low expectations for this book. But the fact is I really enjoyed it. Franny is a very talented pianst who doesn't have the money that Nancy Orilee's parents have and has to take lessons from a teacher who falls asleep in the middle of them. Then a Russian woman moves to town causing all sorts of fear about how the "commies" are going to take over Rusty Nail, Minnesota. But Franny discovers that the Russian woman is not a spy but a world famous pianst. Through her sheer determination and stubborness she convinces Olga Malenkov to teach her.

I liked that this book discussed gossip, labeling and unknown fear. It talked about accomplishing greatness and standing strong in adversity. It was well written, and well presented. I enjoyed it very much. Plus I had a very specific idea of how the book would end, and I was suprised by the ending. It was better than the ending that I had imagined would have been.

The Language of Bees & The God of the Hive by Laurie R. King

To read my review of the first book in the series please click here: The Beekeeper's Apprentice.

Title: The Language of Bees & The God of the Hive (Books 9 & 10 of the Mary Russell series)
Author: Laurie R. King
Genre: Adult Fiction/Mystery
Alerts/Warnings: Violence associated with murder mysteries
Premise: The Language of Bees: In a case that will push their relationship to the breaking point, Mary Russell must help reverse the greatest failure of her legendary husband's storied past - a painful and personal defeat that still has the power to sting.this time fatally. For Mary Russell and her husband, Sherlock Holmes, returning to the Sussex coast after seven months abroad was especially sweet. There was even a mystery to solve - the unexplained disappearance of an entire colony of bees from one of Holmes's beloved hives. But the anticipated sweetness of their homecoming is quickly tempered by a galling memory from her husband's past. Mary had met Damian Adler only once before, when the promising surrealist painter had been charged with - and exonerated from - murder. Now the talented and troubled young man was enlisting their help again, this time in a desperate search for his missing wife and child. (PG Library System) The God of the Hive: Maintaining contact by cryptic notes with her husband, Sherlock Holmes, and with Holmes' young granddaughter in her safekeeping, Russell will have to call on instincts she didn't know she had they are pursued by a killer immune from the sting of justice. (King County Library System)

Opinions: I place these two books together in one review in hope to help you avoid some of the frustration that I felt. When I first read The Language of Bees I did not know that it was part one of the story. All of the other books in this series were stand alone stories though the characters and their history carry through the entire series. So when I got to the end of The Language of Bees I almost threw the book across the room when I saw "To Be Continued". I then had to wait a year for the rest of the story to be published in The God of the Hive. I don't want to tell you too much as I'm afraid it will spoil the experience if you are reading the series from the beginning. I will tell you though that the characters of Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes continue to be compelling, interesting characters. I love that Mary continues to grow as she attempts to protect Estelle (Holme's granddaughter) from those who would take her away. One of the most compelling parts of the story is the introduction of someone that Mary calls Robin Goodfellow...check him out and then call or email so we can talk about him. One of the differences over Ms. King's other books is that The God of The Hive has chapters that alternate between varying characters within the story providing you with a greater understanding of the story, though it takes a little getting use to as I don't recall any of her earlier stories being told that way.

Overall, Laurie R. King continues to tell page-turning stories that excite and transport me into the past and into her story. The Mary Russell series is one of my favorite of all times and I highly recommend that you start reading them from the beginning of the series as soon as possible.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Boston Jane: The Claim by Jennifer Holm

Title: Boston Jane: The Claim
Author: Jennifer Holm
Reviewer: Stephanie
Genre: YA Historical Fiction
Rating: Adore
Alerts/Warnings: None
Premise: The arrival from Philadelphia of her spiteful nemesis Sally Biddle and the return of her corrupt ex-fiance William Baldt spell trouble for seventeen-year-old Miss Jane Peck, who has survived on her own in Shoalwater Bay, a community of white settlers and Chinook Indians in 1850s Washington Territory. (King County Library System)
Opinions: This is the final book in this trilogy and it is very satisfying. Shoalwater Bay in Washington Territory is growing and Jane is enjoying the growth. She has a job at the new hotel and a claim where her new home is being built. But then Sally Biddle shows up. What follows is a funny and sad collection of events where Sally is trying to ruin Jane's life. Amongst this there is also a large amount of hostility and fear towards the Chinook Indians. Jane and some of the others try to promote peace among the settlers and Indians, yet the conflicts keep growing. This series only took me between 5-6 hours to read. I really enjoyed the historical aspects of the book, the quirky characters and the strong woman (Jane) who wants to be treated as a person of substance and a lady. I thoroghly enjoyed this trilogy and hope you do to.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Blade of Shattered Hope by James Dashner

As this book review is for the 3rd book in the series, please click on the following links to read my previous reviews for book one and two of the series: The Journal of Curious Letters and The Hunt for Dark Infinity.

Title: The Blade of Shattered Hope (Book 3 of The 13th Reality Series)
Author: James Dashner
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: MidGrade/Teen Sci-fi
Rating: Love
Alerts/Warnings: Tense scenes and violence
Premise: Mistress Jane has tapped into the universe's darkest secret to create the Blade of Shattered Hope, and in her quest to attain a Utopian reality for the future of mankind she is ready to risk billions of lives to set her plan in motion. (King County Library System)
Opinions: This book received mixed reviews on However, personally, this is my FAVORITE book of the series so far. The author's writing continues to approve and the storyline remains very compelling. As the characters have been established in previous books the author is able to play more with how situations effect everyone on a more internal level. Mistress Jane reeks solidly of evil though it is clear that she feels her logic regarding her actions are just. I also loved getting to know Mothballs family.

I do admit that some scenes were graphically violent, but if you consider the situation and what you might have done in the same situation then the action makes sense (though personally I wouldn't have described it in the same amount of detail). This book is great in that it makes the reader ask how far he/she would go if everything and everyone they loved were threatened. I would recommend this series as a great read for teens and adults alike, but would also highly recommend that families read it together so they can have discussions about what happens.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Boston Jane: Wilderness Days by Jennifer Holm

Title: Boston Jane: Wilderness Days
Author: Jennifer Holm
Reviewer: Stephanie
Genre: YA Historical Fiction
Rating: Adore
Alerts/Warnings: None
Premise: Far from her native Philadelphia, Miss Jane Peck continues to prove that she is more than an etiquette-schooled graduate of Miss Hepplewhite's Young Ladies Academy as she braves the untamed wilderness of Washington Territory in the mid 1850s. (King County Library System)
Opinions: The story of Boston Jane continues in the second book of this trilogy. This book takes place immediately where the first book ends. This book follows Jane and her stubborness and jealousy as another woman comes to Washington Territory and charms all the men leaving Jane feeling unappreciated. There is also a little love story thrown in as Jane and her friends try to save one of their own from a murderer.

Again this interesting cast of characters returns for an interesting look at the west during the 1840's. Jane is as stubborn as ever and goes through different trials, though by the end of the book has grown into a strong and self-assured woman. Not only is Jane a fascinating character to me, but the minor characters are quirky and fun. Russell spits on everyone's shoes, Jehu is quietly kind, Keer-uksu is wonderfully kind and funny, Swann is loveable and absentminded. It is truly a fun book. Again it only took me about an hour and half to read this book. It was just so fun. I read it immediately after I read the first and then when I finished this one, I picked up the third. Stay tuned for that review, coming soon.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Boston Jane: An Adventure by Jennifer Holm

Title: Boston Jane: An Adventure
Author: Jennifer Holm
Reviewer: Stephanie
Genre: YA Historical Fiction
Rating: Adore
Alerts/Warnings: none
Premise: Schooled in the lessons of etiquette for young ladies of 1854, Miss Jane Peck of Philadelphia finds little use for manners during her long sea voyage to the Pacific Northwest and while living among the American traders and Chinook Indians of Washington Territory. (King County Library System)
Opinions: Jane is a very interesting character. She is raised by her widower father who is a surgeon. She has a great love for cherry pies and mischief. She is a tomboy through and through. Yet when she is eleven the hurtful words of another girl make her change her mind to become more like a lady. What follows is the story of Jane growing into a woman and falling in love with a young man who has gone to Washington Territory. She follows after he proposes to her and then when her boat finally lands in Washington, he is not there. She learns about the Chinook Indians and the ways of the mountain men.

Jane is a really interesting character who wants to be a lady and no one allows her to be one, and so she does the best she can. She is strong willed and short tempered. This book is somewhat predictable, but I enjoyed the storytelling and the historical aspects of it. I read this book in about an hour and a half. I was sucked in and couldn't put it down. It's fun, quick and enlightening.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Land Keep by J. Scott Savage

Title: Land Keep
Author: J. Scott Savage
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: Mid-Grade Fantasy
Rating: Fabulous
Alerts/Warnings: None
Premise: Marcus, with the help of his companions, tries to complete the quest to find the other elementals that will help destroy the evil force of the Dark Circle. (King County Library System)
Opinions: Land Keep is the second book in the Farworld series. Click here to see my review of the first book in the series, Water Keep. After their adventures in book one to find a water elemental, Marcus and Kyja must now search after Land Keep and the mysterious land elementals. J. Scott Savage does a fantastic job carrying the overall story through to this new book while adding new twists and turns for the heroes to overcome to reach their goal. At times I did find myself frustrated with Marcus, and later Kyja, but that is done on purpose as the author spins greater understanding into what makes them standout from everyone else in the story. The leaps between Farworld and Earth create a oddly wonderful balance and help make the story compelling. I found myself definitely more intrigued by the Dark Circle as a little more was revealed about their purpose. The action and drama is incredible. One warning though...there are a few things that happen that I did not see coming toward the end of the book. When I was finished my jaw almost hit the floor. If you've read book one, then you MUST read book two. If you haven't read book one, then WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR????

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Being Sixteen by Allyson B. Condie

Title: Being Sixteen
Author: Allison B. Condie
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: Teen Fiction
Rating: Love
Alerts/Warnings: None
Premise: Juliet Kendall has been looking forward to her sixteenth birthday for what feels like forever. At first, it seems like being sixteen will be as perfect as she dreamed-she has great friends, a cute almost-boyfriend, a spot on the varsity girls- basketball team, and even a car of her own. But, as the year goes on, she discovers that her sister Carly is hiding a secret and realizes that, in fact, being sixteen may be her hardest year yet. (Amazon Product Description)
Opinions: This is book takes a hard look at how difficult it is to be a teenager in this day and age, especially when having to fight against what society considers a good personal image. The characters are deeply realistic and deal with the very real issue of eating disorders. I love how Allyson Condie shows the impacts of one sister's eating disorders impacts her family, her friends, and her view of religion. I found Juliet to be an incredibly in depth character and I found myself drawn into her story as her world goes from fabulous to disastrous. This is a definite must read for teens and adults alike.