Thursday, January 31, 2013

Dark Souls by Paula Morris

To read my review of the first book in this series, please click here: Ruined.

Dark Souls

Title: Dark Souls (Ruined #2)
Author: Paula Morris
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: YA Fiction/Ghost Story
Rating: Adore
Alerts/Warnings: Some descriptive images associated with ghosts
Premise: " Sixteen-year-old Miranda Tennant arrives in York, England, with her parents and brother, trying to recover from the terrible accident that killed her best friend, and while in the haunted city she falls in love for the first time as two boys, one also suffering from a great loss and the other a ghost, fight for her attentions" (King County Library System).
Opinions: As a twist, this second book in a series does not contain the same characters as the first.  I was slightly disappointed in this because I so desperately wanted to read more about what happened next after the first book. The surprise is, that even though this book takes place in a different setting, with a whole new set of characters, I loved it even MORE than the first book in the series. I was entranced getting to experience York, England through the eyes of the author, to learn its history, and so much more. I enjoy the various ghosts Miranda meets and the things that she learns about herself along the way as she strives to overcome a devastating past.  Along with her I wondered who was real and who was supernatural. I love the interplay between Miranda and her parents, as well as her brother Rob.  And Nick was an incredibly complex and intriguing character, but you'll have to pick up the book to find out why.  As I said in my previous post, I normally do not read ghost stories, but I must say. . .I am TOTALLY hooked on this series.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Griffin's Castle by Jenny Nimmo

Griffin's Castle

Title: Griffin's Castle
Author: Jenny Nimmo
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: Junior Urban Fantasy
Rating: Like
Alerts/Warnings: Might be a bit intense for children with highly active imaginations.
Premise: "After years of having moved around, eleven-year-old Dinah determines to make a huge, dilapidated old mansion into a home for her mother and herself, but the wild beasts she summons from a stone wall to protect her may also imprison her" (King County Library System).
Opinions: This book by the author of the Charlie Bone series is a sad, beautiful tale of a child trying to run away from some bad memories in her life. In the process, she learns that stone animals gracing a nearby castle begin to come to life for her.  Dinah learns about friendship and how to heal from her past sorrows and how to find a permanent home. The story is told in an omniscient point of view so to let us into the minds of, not only Dinah, but those who surround her as well.  Because of this the story feels more in-depth and we see the impact Dinah has on her schoolmates, her mother, and others.  However, it does tend to make it a little more difficult to become attached to the more frequent characters. Also, I have a highly active imagination so there were a few times that the girl's sadness, or some of the events she experienced made me a bit tense. As such, parents might want to read this prior to their children to make sure its something they could handle.  Overall, I liked the story, but I still much prefer the author's Charlie Bone series much more.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Ruined by Paula Morris

Ruined (Ruined, #1)

Title: Ruined (Ruined #1)
Author: Paula Morris
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: YA/Teen Fiction (depending on the library)
Rating: Love
Alerts/Warnings: Some scary images related to ghosts.
Premise: "A gripping supernatural mystery and romance set in post-Katrina New Orleans.

Rebecca couldn't feel more out of place in New Orleans. She's staying in a creepy house with her aunt, who reads tarot cards. And at the snooty prep school, a pack of filthy-rich girls treat Rebecca like she's invisible. Only gorgeous, unavailable Anton Grey gives Rebecca the time of day, but she wonders if he's got a hidden agenda.
Then one night, among the oak trees in Lafayette Cemetery, Rebecca makes a friend. Sweet, mysterious Lisette is eager to show Rebecca the nooks and crannies of New Orleans. There's just one catch.

Lisette is a ghost" (Publisher Summary).
Opinions: This is a fascinating story that takes place in location loaded with history. I was so spell-bound by the interesting facts/tidbits interspersed through the story about New Orleans and the various societies and backgrounds. I was intrigued that it takes place post Hurricane Katrina and talks about the effects the storm had on the people and how it's still striving to be rebuilt.  I was compelled by the characters and their depth and mystery and eager to find out more about them.  When I finished the book just now all I could think was "Holy Cow!" Maybe not the most reverent response to reading something, but I was flabbergasted. I always struggle at the end of any book wondering what the characters would do the next day in their lives just passed the words The End and most definitely do I find myself saying ". . .but what about this? and what about that? but but but but."  I am most relieved to have found out that this is only the first book in a series.  Book two is called Dark Souls and book three is Unbroken and I will most definitely be looking up my library to see if they carry them.  I want to know more. More about New Orleans, its history, its people, and the fascinating characters in this modern day ghost story.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Blackberry Crumble by Josi S. Kilpack

For my reviews of other books in this series please click here: Lemon Tart, English Trifle, Devil's Food Cake, and Key Lime Pie.

Blackberry Crumble

Title: Blackberry Crumble: A Culinary Mystery (Sadie Hoffmiller Series #5)
Author: Josi S. Kilpack
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: Adult Mystery
Rating: Like
Alerts/Warnings: None
Premise: "When Sadie Hoffmiller is hired by May Sanderson to investigate the death of her father, Sadie travels to Oregon and uncovers a complicated plot of greed, shady business dealings, and more than one member of the Sanderson clan with a motive for murder" (King County Library System).
Opinions: I personally had a rough time at the start of reading this book. Sadie runs into difficulty when someone from her past ends up painting her in a bad light, and I love Sadie as if she were part of my family. So I was peeved that someone would treat her in such a manner.  I mean. . .How dare they?  Shamefully, I admit that I returned the book to the library only half read, because I couldn't handle it.  (Blush - Yes I get that involved sometimes).  Being a new year, I decided to return to the story to see if I was ready to learn how it progressed. I am glad that I did.  I still love the characters.  I love this modern day Miss Marple placed in Colorado, but travelling the world helping to solve murders.  The more I read about Sadie's love interest, the more I am so happy he's a part of her stories.  Also, even though a certain individual toward the beginning of the book caused my temporary hiatus from reading this story, I was glad I went back to find out if the traitor was redeemed in Sadie's eyes or if Sadie would find herself traveling a similar path.  I definitely recommend this series for its fun characters, intriguing twists, and fantastic recipes.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Finished Being Fat by Betsy Schow

This book just released to the public on January 8, 2013.

Finished Being Fat: An Accidental Adventure in Losing Weight and Learning How to Finish

Title: Finished Being Fat: One Woman's Accidental Adventure in Losing Weight and Learning How to Finish
Author: Betsy Schow
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: Adult Non-Fiction
Rating: FABULOUS!!!!!
Alerts/Warnings: None (other than be prepared for lots of honest laughter)
Premise: "Not everyone can win the race, but everyone can finish it. In her quest to wish away an extra 75 pounds, Betsy changed her life for good. Using her Philosophy of Finishing, she snowballed her efforts from weight loss into a bucket list of seemingly impossible dreams. This inspiring account of one woman's journey will help you find the strength to conquer your most daunting goals and unfinished projects" (
Opinions: This is NOT a diet book!  This is a book about self-discovery and overcoming your own weaknesses.  I know Betsy personally, but I am still not biased. This book was fabulous. Major kudos to Betsy for opening her heart to the public to let us see her fears, her dreams, and her progress toward success. Betsy's honest, self-deprecating snarkiness is brilliant and fun to read and helps the reader feel like they are having a conversation with their own best friend. In fact, I felt so welcomed into her story that it was really hard to put the book down.

How can you not be drawn in by such statements like: When sharing a dessert, always assume that 90 of the calories are in the other person's half. Ghosts of Fat Past. Does God Have a Return Policy? And that's just a few chapter titles. There are similar jewels interspersed throughout the entire narrative causing multitudinous laugh-out-loud (LOL) moments. 

Betsy's open, honest, and hilarious story about her progression is so inspiring that the walls of reticence in my own life started to break apart. As a result, I now have my own list of self-evaluations I am doing and am more determined to be a finisher and not just a starter. Thank you so much, Betsy.  Please, please, read this book and then pass it on.