Monday, July 30, 2012

Rapture a Fallen novel

Title:  Rapture
Author:  Lauren Kate
Location:  YA Kate
Level:  12-19
Rapture, the final book in the Fallen series, begins with everyone returning from the announcers fear struck because Lucifer has caused the fall to happen again by using an announcer.  Should he succeed and reach Earth everyone will be wiped out.  History from the moment of the fall on will be rewritten.  Of course, this means Daniel and Luce will lose any knowledge they have gained to fight the curse.  Both sides agree they must find the site of the original fall if they are to stop Lucifer, but no one remembers where it is.  On the quest to find artifacts that can help them find the site they battle the Outcasts, the Scale and the Council of the Elders.  They are all counting on Luce to remember in time to save not just her relationship with Daniel but all of them.

This novel is much better than Passion, the third book, with minimal announcer travel.  I think I actually liked it better than any of the other books because Luce is thinking for herself, asking questions, and remembering.  Instead of being blinded or confused and questioning love, she is acting with love.  Make no mistake this is a love story and a good one. 

Bottom Line:  I was happy and satisfied with Rapture, the final book in the Fallen series.  Something I have suspected from the other books is revealed in this one.  At last readers will learn just how pure Daniel’s love for Lucinda is and why everyone seems to be waiting for something to change with her.  She truly does love Daniel as well. ( Only one announcer!)

Click on Fallen in the tags to see reviews of the other books in the series.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Amazing Animal Alphabet

Title: Brian Wildsmith's Amazing animal alphabet
Author:  Brian Wildsmith
Location:  JE Wildsmith

Amazing Animal Alphabet is one of the few alphabet books that shows both the upper case and lower case of each lettter, which is important for those beginning readers and early literacy.  Each page of this book shows both cases in the upper corner and the animal name in the bottom corner with a realistic and colorful depiction of the animal in the center.  The backgrounds are mostly one color to compliment the animal.  An additional bonus are the animal facts pages at the end.  This will be useful when your child asks about an animal you might not know anything about.  Don't worry, it's all very simple and on a young child's level, so if you read these pages before reading the book with your child he/she will be amazed by how much you know.

Bottom Line:  Amazing Animal Alphabet includes both upper and lower case letters with simple pages dipicting a wild animal both in picture and word.  Animal fact pages are a nice bonus.  I like this book because in addition to showing both cases it also enlarges a child's animal vocabulary with animals he/she might not have seen before.

1-2-3- Peas

Title: 1-2-3 Peas
Author: Keith Baker
Location: JE Baker
Level: 3-6 year olds

1-2-3 Peas by Keith Baker is a counting book with peas as the characters. It has rhyming words, for example- "One pea searching- look,look,look, Two peas fishing- hook,hook,hook" The next number starts a new rhyme sound. There are a couple of things I like about this book. First is shows both the word and the number in a large font. Secondly is goes past ten! So few books actually go further. This one goes to ten then covers 11-19 in one spread with just the numerals, after which it counts by tens up to one hundred using both the word and numeral again (and rhyme pairs).  All of the actions are things your child might actually do.  The illustrations are brightly colored and the peas are cute.

Bottom Line:  If you are looking for a counting book that goes past ten here is one.  1-2-3 Peas counts to 20 before starting to count by tens to 100.  The illustrations are cute and colorful.  Plus the text includes the word and numeral.

Read Next:    Keith Baker also has an alphabet book with the cute peas- LMNO Peas.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Memoirs of a Goldfish

Title:  Memoirs of a Goldfish
Author:  Devin Scillian
Location:  JE Scillian
Level: 2-8 years old

In memoirs of a goldfish the goldfish narrator tells us about his dull life.  Well, dull until others start getting added to the bowl.  Soon it is so crowded he wants his bowl back.  Will he miss the other occupants?  Will he ever see them again?  Read the book to find out.

This was my favorite picture book for the past year.  Every group I read it to loved it!  It's humorous, uses some possible new vocabulary, and the artwork enhances the story on each page.  The backgrounds are simple, usually white or light blue, making the main focus the fishbowl.  The narrator's face is quite expressive for a goldfish.  It even has a happy ending.

Bottom Line:  Memoirs of Goldfish by Devin Scillian is a great, humorous story with outstanding artwork.  I loved it and have told many many people about this book.  Find out what it's like to live in a fishbowl that keeps getting more crowded by the day.  I believe this book won a children's choice award.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Pete The Cat

Title:  Pete the Cat books
Author:  Eric Litwin
Location:  JE Litwin
Level:  3-6 years old

Pete the cat is one cool cat with a motto of , "It's all good.", how could he not be, he's soo cute.  Pete also likes to sing and you can download the songs to go with the books at the publisher's website.  Kids love Pete and his songs.  I do to.

In the first book Pete has new shoes that keep changing colors as he steps in different things.  But does Pete get mad- no way.  In Rockin his school shoes Pete learns about different areas of the school when he wears his new school shoes.  His four groovy buttons just don't want to stay on his shirt.  Of course, Pete doesn't get mad.  He just sings a song.  Just as Pete thinks he has lost his last button he finds one more.  This one has a cute ending.  Wouldn't the world be a better place if we all just sang a song instead of getting mad.

Bottom Line:  The Pete the Cat books by Eric Litwin feature Pete of course. He's one cool cat who likes to sing.  The illustrations are mostly bright primary colors.  The songs are catchy and sure to be sung again by your little ones.  I've found children 2-7 enjoy Pete books.

Read Next:  If you like Pete you might want to try Splat the Cat books by  Rob Scotton.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Uncommon Criminals

Title:  Uncommon Criminals a Heist Society novel
Author:  Ally Carter
Location:  YA Carter
Level:  11 years & up

In this Heist Society novel Kat Bishop has found a way to use her skills without actually being part of the family business.  Thanks to Visily Romani she can steal artwork so it can be returned to it’s rightful owners.  Thus, not really stealing, but righting a wrong.  Kat is starting to think she is pretty good on her own when she is approached by someone about getting Cleopatra’s emerald back from an unscrupulous dealer.  The lady says she was sent by Visily Romani.  But this particular gem is said to be cursed and trying to steal it is forbidden by Uncle Eddie.  Gabrielle and Hale try their best to talk Kat out of the job, but ultimately decide to help her.  Slowly the crew all comes back together, only Cleopatra’s emerald is the only thing being taken.

Bottom Line:  Uncommon Criminal  is written in much the same way as the first book.  Again a fairly light, fun read.  There is more going on between Kat and Hale this time.  A few kisses, but an otherwise good read for tweens and younger teens.  It’s fun trying to figure out how Kat and her crew are pulling off the heist.

Thursday, June 7, 2012


Title:  Hallowed- An Unearthly novel
Author:  Cynthia Hand
Location:  YA Hand
Level:  13 AND UP

Hallowed is the second book in the Unearthly series.  This series does need to be read in order.  As a warning, this review may spoil some aspect of Unearthly if you haven’t read it yet.

 Hallowed starts out much like Unearthly did.  School has started, Clara has changed her hair color again, and she is having a new vision.  From her vision she knows someone she loves will die.  This is quite naturally affecting her and she pushes in areas she may not have if the vision was clearer.  As she starts trying to decipher her vision her mother begins answering some of Clara’s angel questions, although not always to her liking.  The angel club is meeting with Jeffery as an added member.  He seems to be acting a bit odd, but it could just be the teen years.  Then their Mom surprises them when she finally lets them meet the angel community through a big campout.  From that point on everything changes.  Secrets are revealed, some thrilling and others devastating. Christian continues to try to get closer to her at a cost to her relationship with Tucker. Clara feels sorrow like never before and is desperate to protect those she loves from Samjeeza.
Bottom Line:  The continuation of the Unearthly series, Hallowed, doesn’t disappoint.  I was concerned when it began much the same way as Unearthly did, but it soon picked up steam.  Samjeeza returns to make life uncomfortable.   Jeffery plays a bigger role than he did in the first book.   Some major things are revealed which help explain some characters previous actions and will change life for Clara.  I enjoyed Hallowed and would recommend it to anyone who liked Unearthly or angel stories.

Fallen in Love

Title:  Fallen in Love
Author:  Lauren Kate
Location:  YA Kate:
Level: 12 and up

Fallen in love is part of the Fallen series, but it is not necessary to read it to continue following the story line.  This book is more of an aside.  It is broken into four sections, each four chapters long, telling the love stories of some of the more prominent characters starting with Shelby and Niles falling in love.  Really?  Didn’t we see that developing in the last book?  Roland’s and Arriane’s sections reveal a bit more about them.  The last section is of course Lucinda and Daniel.  It doesn’t give you their history at all.  I felt like I was reading Passion again, which isn’t a good thing.  There is one romantic scene, but it isn't enough to make the book worth the time invested.  The best part about the whole book is the inclusion of Rapture’s first chapter.

Bottom Line:  Don’t waste your time on this one.  I think someone is trying to get more money than the series is worth.  It may pass for eh or ok, but I think we deserved better after making it through Passion.  If you truly feel a need to pick it up just read the section about Roland and Arriane.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Heist Society

Title:  Heist Society
Author:  Ally Carter
Location:  YA Carter A.
Level:  11 year olds and up

Katarina Bishop is from a crime family.  No, not the mafia.  She is from a family of thieves.  Her parents started using her for a decoy when she was three.  Now she has pulled her own con to leave the family and get into a prestigious boarding school, but someone is trying to frame her to get her kicked out of school.  Why would anyone do that?

Her Dad, even though he says he doesn’t want it, needs her help.  A major heist, only a master thief could accomplish, puts him right at the top of Arturo Taccone’s list.  Arturo really is a bad guy, the kind who could make a person sleep with the fish.  He’s convinced Kat’s Dad has his belongings.  How is Kat going to be able to return something they did not steal?  She has two weeks to put together a crew and figure it out.

Bottom Line:  Although having your Dad’s life and your own threatened doesn’t seem like a light subject this is a fairly light, fun read.  It has just a touch or hint of romance, likeable characters, and suspense. It’s a great book to take to the beach or on vacation.  Plus it’s fine for tweens.

E. Aster Bunnymund and the warrior Eggs at the Earth's Core

Title:  The Guardians Book 2:  E. Aster Bunymund and the Warrior Eggs at the Earth’s Core
Author:  William Joyce
Location:  J Joyce
Level:  7-10 year olds

I’m just as enthralled with the second book of The Guardians series as I was with the first.  These are fantastic tales; great for reading aloud.  They are full of magic and imagination.

WARNING- This review will mention characters and possibly events from Book 1 Nicholas Saint North and the Battle of the Nightmare King.

E. Aster Bunnymund begins right where book 1 ended.  Katherine, North and Ombric are still with the Luna Llamas learning what they can from them and the Yeti.  Nightlight patrols each evening making sure Santoff Clausen is safe.  Just as they think they have learned something to help their quest Katherine discovers Nightlight is missing.  It can only mean one thing; Pitch, the nightmare king, has returned.  Join our heroes as they make unusual journeys to discover what happened to Nightlight, where Pitch might be, and what unusual creature might help them.  Do you believe?  Who can stop Pitch this time?

Bottom Line:  Before older reader’s turn up their noses at childhood myths I ask, Did your parents tell you the” Easter Bunny” was a pooka with an army of sword wielding mechanized eggs?  Find out for yourself.  I enjoyed the story, figuring out what happend to Ombric's books, and learning more about the myths.  I'll definitely look for the next book.

Note:  This series is being made into an animated movie, Rise of the Guardians, to be released in November 2012.  Book 3 will be published fall 2012.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


Title: Starters
Author: Lissa Price
Reading Level: Young Adult
Location: YA Price (when released)

After all adults between the age of 20 and 60 died during the Spore Wars, the United States is basically controlled by the Enders, those adults over the age of 60 who were vaccinated against the spores. The Starters, kids and teens under the age of 20 also vaccinated against the spores, must rely on protection from older relatives or find a way to survive on the streets. Ever since her mother and father died, Callie has been living in abandoned buildings with her younger brother and trying to avoid getting rounded up by the marshals, forced into slave labor or pummeled by hostile starters. However, Tyler is sick and getting worse. Callie must find some way to get money for medicine and food so he can recover.

Then another homeless starter tells her about Prime Destinations. Starters can sign over their body to be rented by a rich Ender. Meanwhile, the starter exists in a peaceful state of oblivion. At the end of the three-rental contract, the Ender walks away with their exciting youthful experience, and the Starter receives a ton of cash. Although Callie has reservations she signs up. It seems easy enough and they really need the money. But when Callie wakes up during a rental in the life of a rich ender, she knows things are getting weird. She can hear the renter’s voice in her head whispering one warning, “Don’t go back to Prime Destinations.”

Now, on the run but with her renter’s resources and a helpful new friend named Blake, Callie must figure out the evil aspirations of the Old Man who owns Prime Destinations before her life and that of other Starters is snuffed out for good.


I have to say, Starters was actually pretty amazing, much better than I thought it would be from the description. The main character, Callie, is someone you want to see win. She is incredibly smart. Her father prepared her for a potential life on the streets, so she is sufficiently tough and understands how her world works and ways to circumvent the system to survive. She has one goal, to keep her brother safe, and she never wavers from that commitment throughout the entire book. Even when she wakes up in the life of the wealthy ender, she has a hard time letting herself have any fun. She is loyal and very goal-oriented. You almost feel sorry that she can’t just be a normal teenage girl.

The story itself, while not always action-packed, is incredibly tense throughout. Even when Callie was not running from Prime Destinations or holding people hostage, I was on the edge of my seat wanting to know how it would all turn out. The Old Man is a sufficiently creepy villain. I was literally cringing anytime Callie’s plans included confronting him. There is a huge reveal near the end that I, embarrassingly, did not see coming. While many plot threads in this story wrapped up in a satisfying way, a surprising cliffhanger will keep readers coming back for more.  The last book in this two-book series, Enders, is reportedly due to be released on December 4, 2012.

The Bottom Line:  Starters was an exciting dystopia that I can honestly say reminds me, in some ways, of The Hunger Games. You have a strong heroine, good side characters, fun action scenes and an evil man as the main villain. This book kept me absolutely engrossed in the story and ravenously reading until the wee hours of the morning. Give it to fans of The Hunger Games, Incarceron and the dystopia genre in general.

The Publisher provided me with an advanced copy, through netgalley, for this review. Starters will be released on March 13, 2012

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Academie

Book: The Academie
Author: Susannne Dunlap

The year is 1799 and Eliza Monroe has just been unceremoniously deposited by her mother at a prestigious boarding school in France. Instead of the Parisian holiday she expected, Eliza must now undertake the difficult task of befriending members of the young French upper class, including Caroline Bonaparte, sister to the great Napoleon, and Hortense de Beauharnais, the daughter of Josephine Bonaparte, Napoleon’s wife.  Eliza was hoping for adventure and romance in Paris, will she find it while trying to deal with the intrigues and manipulations of Caroline and Hortense?

Hortense is growing fatigued by Caroline’s attempts to ruin her family and reputation. She wants to fall in love, to be caught up in a great romance, and the son of her music teacher just might do the trick.  Can Hortense find love on her own terms or will she be forever bowing to her controlling mother’s will?

Madeleine wants to be rescued from her life as the serving girl to her mother, an abusive, narcissistic actress.  Madeleine’s  lover, Eugene de Beauharnais, has promised to take her away and marry her.  Will he fulfill his vow or leave her to fend for herself with a mother who grows more unhinged by the day?

I had mixed feelings about this title. As a whole, this was a decent read set in a very interesting period in French history. The years following the French Revolution were uncertain and fraught with potential conflict, particularly for members of the upper class. One of the main reasons I enjoyed this title is because the author captured the precarious atmosphere of this period so well. This aspect of the book was fascinating. 

The Academie switches narration between Eliza, Hortense and Madeleine which builds suspense in some instances but in others only serves to unnecessarily replay particular scenes. I really enjoyed the character of Hortense. I actually wish the entire story would have been about her life before the events of this book. She must have had a fascinating upbringing which would have made for a better story than the one here. The character of Eliza seemed a little inconsistent. She did grow throughout the events of the book, but her development seemed forced. The character of Madeleine was simply a wasted opportunity. As an aspiring singer and actress, she could have been extremely interesting. In the end, she did little more than move the action forward which again, made for another inconsistent character.

I have to say, I wish this book had been better. I enjoyed it for the first half simply because the time period was represented so well and the characters held my interest. In the second half the story became tedious and the characters began to feel very underdeveloped and capricious. If you enjoy historical fiction, you may like this one, but the ending will probably disappoint most readers.  For better spins on this genre, try The Luxe Series by Anna Godberson and for the French Revolution with a supernatural twist try The Red Necklace by Sally Gardner.

The Bottom Line:  This is a book set in a fully realized time period with a disappointingly mediocre plot. I had no idea that life with the Bonaparte clan would ever seem this uneventful. If you like historical fiction, particularly the period after and around the French Revolution, give this one a try. For other books with similar themes, look to The Luxe by Anna Godberson or The Red Necklace by Sally Gardner.

The Publisher provided me with an advanced copy, through netgalley, for this review. The Academie will be released on April 10, 2012

Thursday, February 2, 2012

11 Birthdays

Title: 11 Birthdays
Author: Wendy Mass
Level: 9-12 Years
Location: J Mass

It's Amanda's 11th birthday and she is super excited -- after all, 11 is so different from 10. But from the start, everything goes wrong. The worst part of it all is that she and her best friend, Leo, with whom she's shared every birthday, are on the outs and this will be the first birthday they haven't shared together. When Amanda turns in for the night, glad to have her birthday behind her, she wakes up happy for a new day. Or is it? Her birthday seems to be repeating itself. What is going on?! And how can she fix it? Only time, friendship, and a little luck will tell...

Bottomline:  This was a fun quick read about true friends who need to mend their wounded friendship and it takes a repeating birthday to get things right.  The main characters are endearing and when they become selfless and start helping others is when they really shine.  I love a story when everyone is better off in the end!  Great story and written well for the younger reader.