Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Dangerous by Shannon Hale


Title: Dangerous
Author: Shannon Hale
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: YA ????
Rating: Fabulous
Alerts/Warnings: Spy/Super Hero battles where someone dies (but not overly descriptive)
Premise: "When aspiring astronaut Maisie Danger Brown, who was born without a right hand, and the other space camp students get the opportunity to do something amazing in space, Maisie must prove how dangerous she can be and how far she is willing to go to protect everything she has ever loved" (King County Library System). 
Opinions: This book was a shock to the system. I LOVE anything by Shannon Hale, but this one took me by surprise. It was like when I read Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson. I was so used to his other books, that the shift to Super Heroes/Villains made me do a double take. Well Dangerous is like that for me. It's a Sci-Fi, Magical Realism, Dystopian, Apocalyptic kind of weird mesh, but with Shannon Hale's signature awesomeness abounding.  Its kind of hard for me to describe.  I just know that I LOVED it, and couldn't put it down. Even my kids got annoyed with me and kept trying to get my attention. This is a book to stay up late, shaking your head saying "No way", but really you can't get enough. I loved the internal struggles between right and wrong, justification of ones actions, and finding out who you are down to the core. I love the strength of family it shows and the awesome weirdness of the story.

I'm sorry I can't be more specific, but seriously I don't want to give anything away. You'll just have to read it for yourself.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross


Title: The Girl in the Steel Corset (The Steampunk Chronicles #1)
Author: Kady Cross
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: YA Steampunk
Rating: Cross between Like
Alerts/Warnings: Some blood, Mild Swearing
Premise: "Finley, who has a beastly alter ego inside of her, joins Duke Griffin's army of misfits to help stop the Machinist, the criminal behind a series of automaton crimes, from carrying out a plan to kill Queen Victoria during the Jubilee" (King County Library System).
Opinion: This is only the second ever Steampunk book that I've read (the first being The Clockwork Three by Matthew J. Kirby). I have mixed feelings about it. Overall, I really enjoyed the plot. It reminded me a lot of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, which I quite enjoyed. And if you read her acknowledgements, the author was intentionally trying to cross the feel of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen mixed with the X-Men. I loved Finley and learning of her family history as she does. I think her background and the internal struggles she deals with in her character arc make her a very fascinating person.  I love some of the interpersonal relationships and the friendships that they try to build upon. I also admire the author's imagination, item creation, and overall setting.

The difficulty I had with this book is that the main cast of characters are all supposed to be around 16/17/18 years old and I kept forgetting that. I saw them as being in their twenties at least. Plus, probably because its her first novel, there were some descriptions that seemed repetitive of some of the characters that pulled me out of the story a little. It also did bother me that Finely is blond in the book, but that the book cover shows her as being brunette, but that's a superficial nitpicking issue on my part.  I'm sure these very minor issues will be quickly overcome the more books that the author writes. However, that did not stop me from already requesting the sequel from my public library. I'm highly looking forward to seeing were the story goes next in The Girl in the Clockwork Collar.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Wednesday's in the Tower by Jessica Day George

To read my review of the first book in this series, click here: Tuesday's at the Castle.


Title: Wednesday's in the Tower (Castle Glower #2)
Author: Jessica Day George
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: Mid-Grade Fantasy
Rating: Fabulous
Alerts/Warnings: None (other than a desperate need to own a griffin)
Premise: "After discovering a giant egg in the magical Castle Glower, Princess Celie agrees to care for the egg and what creature it hatches" (King County Library System).
Opinions: Okay, this series is just FABULOUS!!!! and it keeps getting better. I want to live in this country, that castle, and to hang out with those kids. Celia is by far my favorite heroine in a mid-grade book and I love how her family believes in her and supports her.  This is a great read for kids and um, those who are no longer kids on the outside, but still running wild with a young heart. And hurrah for Rufus! I want a griffin too! Okay, enough said. Go read this series to your kids, now. As for me, I will be anxiously waiting for the arrival of book three, Thursday's with the Crown, which is schedule for an October 2014 release.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches by Alan Bradley

To read my reviews of the other books in this series, click here: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag, A Red Herring Without Mustard, I Am Half-Sick of Shadows, and Speaking from Among the Bones.


Title: The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches (Flavia de Luce #6)
Author: Alan Bradley
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: Adult Murder Mystery
Rating: Fabulous
Alerts/Warnings: some vivid scenes
Premise: "On a spring morning in 1951, eleven-year-old chemist and aspiring detective Flavia de Luce gathers with her family at the railway station, awaiting the return of her long-lost mother, Harriet. Yet upon the train's arrival in the English village of Bishop's Lacey, Flavia is approached by a tall stranger who whispers a cryptic message into her ear. Moments later, he is dead, mysteriously pushed under the train by someone in the crowd. Who was this man, what did his words mean, and why were they intended for Flavia? Back home at Buckshaw, the de Luces' crumbling estate, Flavia puts her sleuthing skills to the test. Following a trail of clues sparked by the discovery of a reel of film stashed away in the attic, she unravels the deepest secrets of the de Luce clan, involving none other than Winston Churchill himself. Surrounded by family, friends, and a famous pathologist from the Home Office--and making spectacular use of Harriet's beloved Gypsy Moth plane, Blithe Spirit--Flavia will do anything, even take to the skies, to land a killer" (King County Library System).
Opinions: This book was a beautiful mix of an eleven-year old dealing with intense grief in overwhelming circumstances while still hunting for the truth. It felt real, raw and emotional from Flavia's perspective. You see the emotional/psychological twists she endures now that she is seeing things in a different light, and is becoming her own most unique and intriguing grown-up. I'm continually amazed by the depth of characters among the plethora of people crossing Flavia's stage. However, the one who has my heart the most is Dogger. He is forever a hero in my book and a man I wish I could know in real life. One of the other things I love about this series is the intermittent references to history, literature and music that makes me want to delve even deeper into their amazing culture. 

Alan Bradley has done a remarkable job on a brilliant series that steps out of the norm for the mysteries that I have read (keeping in mind my scope is more limited than I would prefer to admit. In the end this book (and its series) has left me thoughtful, intrigued, and envious. I definitely recommend it, but suggest that a parent read it first to know if their specific child can handle the content).

Monday, April 21, 2014

Tres Leches Cupcakes by Josi S. Kilpack

To read my reviews of the other books in this series, click here: Lemon Tart, English Trifle, Devil's Food Cake, Key Lime Pie, Blackberry Crumble, Pumpkin Roll, and Banana Split.


Title: Tres Leches Cupcakes (Culinary Mystery #8)
Author: Josi S. Kilpack
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: Adult Mystery
Rating: Love
Alerts/Warnings: None
Premise: "Sadie Hoffmiller is working undercover for the BLM on an archaeological site in New Mexico when she stumbles across a pair of recently deceased bodies and becomes involved in the black market world of Indian artifact theft" (King County Library System).
Opinions: Sadie is living in hiding in New Mexico from a character in one of her earlier stories. To keep her busy she is working a side job for the BLM trying to uncover who is stealing Native American artifacts. I loved to see her working her way back into the investigative action, and finding her comfort zone again. I love the ever growing relationship between her and Pete and the trust that continues to grow between them. I was also fascinated by the new cast of characters and friends and the new places she goes. One of my favorite scenes is when she goes investigating in a bar and gets in a fight. LOVE IT!!!!  I've also written down several of the recipes, especially a Crock Pot Posole while I hope to make for my family this week. Sounds delectable. I can't wait to read the next one.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Crossed by Ally Condie

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


Title: Crossed (Matched #2)
Author: Ally Condie
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: YA Dystopian
Rating: Like
Alerts/Warnings: None
Premise: "Seventeen-year-old Cassia sacrifices everything and heads to the Outer Provinces in search of Ky, where she is confronted with shocking revelations about Society and the promise of rebellion" (King County Library System).
Opinions: Overall the writing is well done and the story is intriguing, but as a sequel I found Crossed to have a different flow than Matched had. In the first book we learn about the status quo and slowly learn about how that needed to change. Hence, Matched focused more on plot. In Crossed we get the chance to delve deeper into who Cassia and Ky are as individuals and what has led them to be who they are and wanting to be together. Since the story focuses on what they're thinking and feeling there are times that the story feels slow. However, I still found myself pulled along, wondering if Ky and Cassia would find each other again, and what would happen when the did. And I was most curious about the little bit we saw of Xander and where his story goes. I'm interested to see where book three leads and how their stories will end.