Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley

Title: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
Author: Alan Bradley
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: Adult Mystery
Rating: Fabulous
Alerts/Warnings: Low Swearing, Murder (but it is a murder mystery after all)
Premise: "In his first novel, Alan Bradley introduces one of the most singular and engaging heroines in recent fiction: eleven-year-old Flavia de Luce, an aspiring chemist with a passion for poison." "It is the summer of 1950 - and a series of inexplicable events has struck Buckshaw, the decaying English mansion that Flavia's family calls home. A dead bird is found on the doorstep, a postage stamp bizarrely pinned to its beak. Hours later, Flavia finds a man lying in the cucumber patch and watches him as he takes his dying breath. For Flavia, who is both appalled and delighted, life begins in earnest when murder comes to Buckshaw"--Book jacket.
Opinions: I could NOT put this book down. I read it in under one day (even while dealing with two children and morning sickness). I was intrigued how this book could be in the Adult section or the library when the main character is eleven. Falvia is not your normal eleven year. Though she still plays pranks on her sisters like any other kid, she is intelligent beyond her years. Her passion for chemistry, and her own private chemistry lab, allow Flavia the ability to learn at her own pace. Her focus on chemistry gives Flavia a unique look on life that allows her to see truth where others do not. Her spunk as a pre-teen allows her to get into situations that, not only provide her with information important to solving the murder long before the adults, but also provide a hilarious flare.

Alan Bradley does a fantastic job creating a heroine that can rival Ms. Marple and would even give Sherlock Holmes a run for his money. As a fan of mysteries I look forward to reading much more from this author.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Scorch Trials by James Dashner

To read our review of the first book in this series click here: The Maze Runner.

Title: The Scorch Trials (Book 2 of The Maze Runner trilogy)
Author: James Dashner
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: YA Sci-Fi
Rating: Like
Alerts/Warnings: High Violence - Low Swearing.
Premise: "After surviving horrific conditions in the Maze, Thomas is entrapped, along with nineteen other boys, in a scientific experiment designed to observe their responses and gather data believed to be essential for the survival of the human race." (King County Library)
Opinions: This book is a New York Time Bestseller written for teenagers. I read one site that even said it was marketed for 9-12 year olds. In my opinion, do not let them read it until 14 or 15 at the earliest and only if you read it first. Why you may ask? Because this is a VIOLENT book. There is death left and right because this is a world in the middle of an apocalypse. Half the world has been killed by solar flares and the other half is at risk of catching the FLARE, a virus, that is spreading rapidly and with disastrous consequences.

Okay, now that you've had my disclaimers let me tell you what I really like about this book. I was drawn into the storyline and the characters -- plain and simple. If the world faced a major natural disaster that wiped out a good portion of the world and the survival of the rest of the world lay in the hands of two groups of teenagers put into horrendous circumstances wouldn't you be on the edge of you seat wondering if they would be able to do pull it off? Like the first book in this series, I was drawn to Thomas and Teresa as they have a complex past that reveals itself slowly through the story. The big frustration is that WICKED, the government organization placing the teenagers through the trials, likes to turn everything you know on its head. Can you really trust your friends? Is what you are experiencing reality? Who really are the good guys?

This book is an emotional roller coaster ride, but one that was hard to put down. Oh and for those who have read THE HUNGER GAMES many reviewers are comparing this series to that. I personally haven't read THE HUNGER GAMES yet as I'm still on the waiting list at the library. So you will have to let me know which series you prefer.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


Our favorite of readers and co-author of this blog and my best friend, Stephanie, will be returning to the country on April 2nd after living for the last three months in China. In honor of her return we will be hosting a GIVEAWAY.

I know, I know, you are all in shock. Its been at least a year since we've done one. Well hold on to your pants cause we have a whole stack of autographed books to give out this year. What better way to kick off the list by celebrating Stephanie's return?

So keep an eye out on Saturday, April 2nd when I will kick off the giveaway by posting the rules for our first giveaway. What is the prize you might ask? Well, how about an autographed copy of Princess of Glass by Jessica Day George in which this particular blogger posted a review for earlier this week.

So stay tuned and help me welcome back Stephanie.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Princess of Glass by Jessica Day George

Princess of Glass

Click here to read our review of Princess of the Midnight Ball.

Title: Princess of Glass (Sequel to the Princess of the Midnight Ball)
Author: Jessica Day George
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: YA Fantasy
Rating: Fabulous
Alerts/Warnings: None
Premise: "In the midst of maneuverings to create political alliances through marriage, sixteen-year-old Poppy, one of the infamous twelve dancing princesses, becomes the target of a vengeful witch while Prince Christian tries to save her." (King County Library System)
Opinions: I LOVE THIS BOOK!!! Okay is that extreme enough? I thoroughly enjoyed reading Princess of the Midnight Ball and was thrilled to learn that this book was to be a sort of sequel. Princess of Glass follows the life of Princess Poppy, one of the dancing princesses, several years later as her family tries to make amends to foreign lands for the deaths of the princes who had tried to originally discover the mystery behind the dancing princesses. Each unmarried daughter is sent to a foreign kingdom as an ambassador to prove Westfalin's good will and to get to know the royal families in hopes of creating alliances through matches between the families. Poppy is sent to Brenton to visit a cousin as the royal family isn't exactly welcoming (this is due to the fact that one of the royal family had died mysteriously after failing to free the princesses from their curse). As ambassador to Brenton it is Poppy's responsibility to heal the damage by attending balls and befriending the aristocracy. There is only one minor problem. Poppy HATES to dance. After being forced for years to dance by the King Under Stone with his sons, the last thing she wants to do is wear another pair of dancing slippers. So whenever she can, Poppy sneaks out of the balls to go play cards with the gentlemen. (I LOVE THIS LADY)

Then there is Prince Cristian. In an effort of his own kingdom to further alliances with other countries (preferably not Westfalin) his father sends him off to Brenton in hopes that he will fall in love with one of their princesses. Only one problem, they are 9 and 11. If that doesn't work his father plans on sending him off to one of the other countries. So when Cristian comes to Breton and learns that one of the mysterious Dancing Princesses is there, he seeks her out. Knowing full well that their duties won't allow them to fancy each other Poppy, Cristian, and Marianne (Poppy's cousin) become fast friends. As their friendship grows, they soon become entangled in intrigue regarding one of the maids, Ellen.

Ellen, aka Eleanora, was not always a maid. Once she was from a rich family that ran in royal circles. However, her father's financial downfall and subsequent death has lead her to the life of a maid. The problem is that no matter how hard she tries to be a good maid she continually burns the linens, breaks the tea sets, and destroys everything she touches. After being banished from service at house after house Ellen finds herself in the home of Poppy's cousins working as Poppy and Marianne's personal made. Her jealously of their lives, a life she once lead herself, leads her to agree to help from a mysterious Godmother who promises her the chance of living that way once again. Ellen's decision twists everyone's world together in a strange dance of intrigue and enchantment that kept both my husband and I entranced as we read this book.

The humor, the mystery, the love, and learning that you truly need to understand someone's past to discover why they are who they are today made this an absolutely FABULOUS read.

Friday, March 11, 2011

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

City of Bones (Mortal Instruments)

Title: City of Bones (Mortal Instruments Series - Book One)
Author: Cassandra Clare
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: YA Paranormal Fiction
Rating: Like
Alerts/Warnings: Some swearing, some violence from fighting monsters, and on a minor note a couple of minor characters are gay (so if that makes your uncomfortable don't read it). Though there are no sex scenes of any kind.
Premise: "Suddenly able to see demons and the Darkhunters who are dedicated to returning them to their own dimension, fifteen-year-old Clary Fray is drawn into this bizzare world when her mother disappears and Clary herself is almost killed by a monster." (King County Library System)
Opinions: I am not normally into paranormal fiction, but I'm striving to expand my reading base and introduce myself to authors that I've never read before. This is one such book. This book is set in modern day New York and shows a world of vampires, werewolves, demons, witches, mermaids, and much, much more living in the midst of, but unseen by, the normal human world.

It was a bit hard at first to get to know and understand the main character, Clary, but once the story gets going I had a hard time putting it down. In fact, I read I read it in less then a day. I was thoroughly intrigued by the premise and the twists of the story. There are fighting scenes where the Darkhunters have to fight and kill demons which may or may not bother some readers. As I said in the warnings, there are a few side characters who happen to be gay, but that isn't the focus of the story so I will leave it up to you if you want to read it. Personally, my favorite characters were Clary's friend Simon and Clary's "Uncle" Luke. There is a surprising twist at the end that left me dumbfounded, but I'm still eager to check out book two in this series.