Monday, July 27, 2015

Review of Endless by Amanda Gray (Young Adult)

Endless by Amanda Gray

Age Range: 12 and up

Grade Level: 7 and up

Series: None

Paperback: 384 pages

Publisher: Month9Books, LLC (October 8, 2013)

Source: Publisher via NetGalley

My rating: 3 of 5 stars







About the Book:

Jenny Kramer knows she isn’t normal. After all, not everybody can see the past lives of people around them. When she befriends Ben Daulton, resident new boy, the pair stumble onto an old music box with instructions for "mesmerization" and discover they may have more in common than they thought—like a past life! Using the instructions in the music box, Ben and Jenny share a dream that transports them to Romanov Russia and leads them to believe they have been there together before. But Nikolai, the mysterious young man Jenny has been seeing in her dreams who has now appeared next door, was there, too. Jenny is forced to acknowledge that Nikolai has traveled through time and space to find her. Doing so means he has defied the laws of time, and the Order, an ominous organization tasked with keeping people in the correct time, is determined to send him back. While Ben, Jenny, and Nikolai race against the clock—and the Order—Jenny and Nikolai discover a link that joins them in life and beyond death.

Find it:



My Thoughts:

This was just an okay read for me. I didn't love it, but I didn't hate it either. I liked the concept and the characters for the most part, but some things didn't add up for me.

Jenny spends a large portion of the book getting to know Ben, a rather grumpy, but charming boy. Then Nikolai appears, and even though we never really learn much about him, Jenny falls head over heels in love with him from the moment she slaps eyes on him.

My other complaint with the book came toward the end when time wasn't accounted for correctly.  According to the book, Jenny and her friends managed to fight off a psychopath, rescue each other from a burning building, give statements to the police, witness a kidnapping, drive for half an hour, have a serious conversation, and take another drive up a mountain -- all within 35 minutes.  There were quite a few other instances in the book when the passage of time didn't add up, but that was the biggest one.  I should mention that I read the ARC, and there is a chance that these issues have been (hopefully) fixed.

Other than the insta-love and impossible passage of time, I enjoyed the story for the most part. I liked the idea of time travel, reincarnation, and The Order. And I can't help myself, I love the idea of soul mates finding each other throughout time and space.  While this book had some big problems, I would still consider it a good read and a fun way to spend a few hours.

Content: a few mild curses and some kissing.

3 STARS


Friday, July 24, 2015

Review of SILVER IN THE BLOOD by Jessica Day George

Silver in the Blood by Jessica Day George

Age range: 12 and up

Series: Silver in the Blood #1

Genre: Historical fantasy

Hardcover: 368 pages

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens (July 7, 2015)

Source: Publisher

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars







About the Book:

As spoiled society girls from New York City circa 1890, Dacia and Lou never desired to know more about their lineage, instead preferring to gossip about their mysterious Romanian relatives, the Florescus. But upon turning seventeen, the girls must return to their homeland to meet their family, find proper husbands, and-most terrifyingly-learn the secrets of The Claw, The Wing, and The Smoke. The Florescus, after all, are shape-shifters, bound by a centuries-old tradition to do the bidding of the royal Dracula family and it is time for Dacia and Lou to take their place among the ranks. But when the devilish heir, Mihai Dracula sets his sights on Dacia as part of his plan to secure power over all of Europe, the girls choose to fight against this cruel inheritance with all their might. Only the dashing Lord Johnny Hardcastle and the mysterious Theophilus Arkady- members of a secret society charged with ridding the world of monsters-can help Dacia and Lou, but breaking the shackles of their upbringing will require more courage than the girls ever imagined.

The thrilling start to a richly drawn, romance-filled series, this epic adventure of two girls in a battle for their lives will have readers coming back for more.


Find it:




About the Author:

Jessica Day George is the author of many books for young readers, including the wonderfully whimsical Tuesdays at the Castle and three books in the Dragonskin Slippers series. Before becoming a full-time writer, she worked as a librarian and bookseller. Jessica lives with her family in Salt Lake City, Utah.





My Thoughts:

What an unusual and interesting setting for a book! It made me want to learn more about Romania and European history. I really liked the story, the characters, and the setting. It was different from other books set in a similar time period.

One of the things I liked about this book is that it has been branded as young adult, and it is clearly intended for that age group. Jessica Day George knows her audience and how to write for it. There is plenty of suspense and action, a dash of romance, and great characters. This is the first book in a series, but the ending doesn't leave you hanging. While some ends are left loose, it is a complete story that I felt satisfied with. I'm interested to see where the author will take us in the next book.

If you or your teen like historical fantasy, you will probably like this book too. The author's love for history and fantasy come alive on its pages and make for an enthralling read!

Content: violence and a couple of curse words (2 or 3)

4.5 STARS

SILVER IN THE BLOOD Read-Along Wrap Up + Author Interview!



Welcome to the SILVER IN THE BLOOD read-along!  We've finished the book!  I've included links to all our posts below so you can backtrack with Tressa (Wishful Endings) and I (Batch of Books) if you want.  If you have an update posted somewhere, please link it up.  If you don't, just leave a comment! :)

Schedule:

July 10: Kick-off!  Start reading (my post | Tressa's post)
July 17: Chapters 1-16 (my post | Tressa's post)
July 24: Chapters 17-END, final thoughts, and interview with Jessica! (my post | Tressa's post)
My Review | Tressa's Review


Use hashtag #SilverRA and feel free to tag me or Tressa if you tweet! @denabooks or @tressherm


My Thoughts on the First Half:

Thoughts about the characters:
I really like the changes in each of the characters, especially Lou. I was also glad to see Dacia grow into herself and her role. The villain(s) were interesting, and I'm curious to see how one of them comes into play in future books.

Thoughts about the plot: 
I really liked the plot! It builds gradually, then explodes about halfway through the book. I was hooked from page one.

Least favorite part so far, if there is one: 
I was sad that the girls found such a lack of support from their family members, on both sides. Lou's father, Aunt Kate, and Radu all disappointed me, even though they redeemed themselves by the end.

Most favorite part so far:
When the girls finally learn the family secret! That part was so wild and exciting, yet frightening at the same time. I loved it!

My favorite lines and quotes:
'"Get up, you foolish girl, and wash your face," Lady Ioana ordered. "You are stronger than this, and you must be stronger still.
"In two nights you will find out why you must forget your father."' - 40%

'She turned her back on them and fled higher up the mountain, into the trees, running faster and faster on her four legs.' - 50%

'Goodness, there were a lot of people she could imagine Dacia eloping with!' - 51%

'She supposed that she could tie it to a lamp, but that might hit someone on the head and make them less inclined to help her.' - 70%

Thoughts about the conclusion:
I like the way the book ended, and I'm really glad there was no cliffhanger. Some things were left open, but for the most part it was a complete story. I also liked the way the story wrapped up and the way things worked out. I was proud of both girls!

My predictions for book two:
I think the girls will get a new mystery to solve and go on another adventure. I think we'll see a return of a certain villain, although I'm curious to see what will motivate her in the next book.

Other thoughts...
I'm really interested to see what the next book brings.  This one wrapped up pretty nicely, so I'm curious as to whether the second book will be a separate adventure or if it will be a continuation of this one.

Any questions?
I wonder why being the Smoke is so important. What is it about that shape that makes them the leaders of the family? Can the Smoke do anything other than float around?  Are they dangerous in any way?  Will we see more involvement from the Wings in the next book?


What did you think about the first half of the book?  Share your thoughts with me in the comments or link up your blog post!


Interview with the Author:


Which character was your favorite to write?
I liked writing about the main characters’ grandmother, Lady Ioana, who was just so HORRIBLE.

What inspired you to write about shape shifting?
I’m not a huge fan of werewolves, per se, but I do love the idea of being able to turn into a certain animal at will. I’ve thought about it a lot, and I think it would be both very scary and very cool to have that power, so it’s something that I’ve always wanted to do in a book.

How did you come up with the villain(s) for this book?
To be honest . . . I don’t totally remember. This book just came together all at once, but it was about five years ago. Once I had a handle on the main characters, Dacia and Lou, I knew immediately who they would be facing.

Was anything particularly difficult about writing this book?
The only other time I’ve written a book set in a real country it was Norway, a place I studied all through college. So trying to stay true to the history and spirit of Romania, a place I had only briefly visited, was hard.

Will there be any strong gypsy roles in the story or the series?
Not really.

When you researched Romania for the book’s setting did you find anything interesting or intriguing that you’d like to share?
Yes, and the result is . . . this book!

What was your favorite thing about your visit to the country?
So. Many. Castles.

What was your most fulfilling or favorite thing from this story?
Lou coming out of Dacia’s shadow to be more independent.

What’s your favorite part of being an author?
There is nothing as thrilling as starting a rough draft!



About the Book:

As spoiled society girls from New York City circa 1890, Dacia and Lou never desired to know more about their lineage, instead preferring to gossip about their mysterious Romanian relatives, the Florescus. But upon turning seventeen, the girls must return to their homeland to meet their family, find proper husbands, and-most terrifyingly-learn the secrets of The Claw, The Wing, and The Smoke. The Florescus, after all, are shape-shifters, bound by a centuries-old tradition to do the bidding of the royal Dracula family and it is time for Dacia and Lou to take their place among the ranks. But when the devilish heir, Mihai Dracula sets his sights on Dacia as part of his plan to secure power over all of Europe, the girls choose to fight against this cruel inheritance with all their might. Only the dashing Lord Johnny Hardcastle and the mysterious Theophilus Arkady- members of a secret society charged with ridding the world of monsters-can help Dacia and Lou, but breaking the shackles of their upbringing will require more courage than the girls ever imagined.

The thrilling start to a richly drawn, romance-filled series, this epic adventure of two girls in a battle for their lives will have readers coming back for more.


Find it:




About Jessica:

Jessica Day George is the author of many books for young readers, including the wonderfully whimsical Tuesdays at the Castle and three books in the Dragonskin Slippers series. Before becoming a full-time writer, she worked as a librarian and bookseller. Jessica lives with her family in Salt Lake City, Utah.






Giveaway Rules: 

Open to international entrants as long as the Book Depository ships to you for free. You must be at least 13 years old to enter and have parental permission if under 18. Please ensure that you correctly enter your email (and check your junk mail folder) so that we have a way to contact you. Void where prohibited by law. Enter via the Rafflecopter below.
a Rafflecopter giveaway



Have you read the book? Link up your review or blog post if you have one, otherwise, let me know in the comments what you thought!







Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Review of In Good Company by Jen Turano

In Good Company by Jen Turano

Age range: Adult (appropriate for teens, too)

Series: A Class of Their Own #2

Genre: Inspirational/Humor/Romance

Paperback: 352 pages

Publisher: Bethany House Publishers (July 7, 2015)

Source: From publisher

My rating: 4 of 5 stars







About the Book:

"Turano continues to be one of the funniest voices in the inspirational genre, and her spunky heroines will appeal to readers across the romance spectrum."--Booklist

After growing up as an orphan, Millie Longfellow is determined to become the best nanny the East Coast has ever seen. Unfortunately, her playfulness and enthusiasm aren't always well-received and she finds herself dismissed from yet another position.

Everett Mulberry has quite unexpectedly become guardian to three children that scare off every nanny he hires. About to depart for Newport, Rhode Island, for the summer, he's desperate for competent childcare.

At wit's end with both Millie and Everett, the employment agency gives them one last chance--with each other. As Millie falls in love with her mischievous charges, Everett focuses on achieving the coveted societal status of the upper echelons. But as he investigates the suspicious circumstances surrounding the death of the children's parents, will it take the loss of those he loves to learn whose company he truly wants for the rest of his life?


Find it:




My Thoughts:

I can always count on Jen Turano to deliver a perfectly amusing story. I love her books.

When Millie gets dismissed from yet another nanny position, she winds up as the last resort for Everett, a member of high society that can't seem to keep a nanny in his employ. Millie quickly gets Everett's brats — er, I meant to say wards — under control, using very unconventional methods (of course). Meanwhile, Everett starts to fall for the spunky nanny that happens to be an accomplished escape artist and an extremely competitive tennis player.

Turano gives us her usual wit and charm throughout the story, making for a fun filled romp in historical Rhode Island. If you enjoy clean, uplifting humor with a touch of romance, you will love Turano's books as much as I do. Happy reading!

Content: clean

4 STARS

Friday, July 17, 2015

Silver in the Blood Read-Along Update #1: The First Half



Welcome to the SILVER IN THE BLOOD read-along!  We're at the half way point, but there is still time to join in if you want.  I've included a schedule below so you can follow along with Tressa (Wishful Endings) and I (Batch of Books) as we read.  You don't need a blog to participate, but if you have one, add it to the linky so we can stop by.   Otherwise, just leave a comment!

Schedule:

July 10: Kick-off!  Start reading (my post | Tressa's post)
July 17: Chapters 1-16 (my post | Tressa's post)
July 24: Chapters 17-END, final thoughts, and interview with Jessica!


Use hashtag #SilverRA and feel free to tag me or Tressa if you tweet! @denabooks or @tressherm


My Thoughts on the First Half:

Initial thoughts on the first chapter: 
The first chapter gave me the impression that this book would be humorous, but have a serious undertone as well. We meet the characters, learn about their personalities, and discover that there is something strange going on. I liked the first chapter and it had me hooked pretty quick.

Thoughts about the characters:
Dacia comes across as headstrong, silly, and a hopeless romantic. Lou is more serious and much less likely to cause a stir than Dacia. I love their friendship and the strength they find in each other. I'm not sure what to think of all the minor characters at this point.  Some of them are interesting, and others seem very flaky in their loyalties.

Thoughts about the plot: 
I honestly had no idea what this book was about when I picked it up. The fact that it was written by Jessica Day George was more than enough to have me salivating over it, so I had no expectations going in. I can now say that I was quite taken by surprise! It started off kind of slow, but things are getting veeeeerrry interesting! I can't wait to see what happens next.

Least favorite part so far, if any: 
I was really sad and disappointed with Lou's father. I had higher hopes for him, but if he had done what I wanted him to, the story also would have ended. So in a way, I'm glad he was a disappointment.

My favorite part so far:
I love the letters and journal entries at the beginning of each chapter. They give us a good look into the personalities of the girls and add that extra zip to the story. Is zip a word?

My predictions for the second half: 
I'm expecting to learn the big Family Secret and see the girls make some tough choices. I'm hoping they assert their independence, but the book could go anywhere at this point. I'm excited to keep reading!

Final thoughts: 
I really enjoyed this first half of the book. I liked the way it started off fairly innocently and blossomed into something dangerous. I can't wait to see where it goes!

It might be important to know that this is the first book in a series, so the ending will either wrap things up nicely, with only a few loose ends, or it could be left wide open for the next installment.

Questions I have: 
I'm dying to know the Family Secret! I didn't read the synopsis for this book on purpose, so I have no idea where this story is going. I also want to know if Lou's father will man up and keep his promise to her. The only way to find out is to keep reading!


What did you think about the first half of the book?  Share your thoughts with me in the comments or link up your blog post!


About the Book:

As spoiled society girls from New York City circa 1890, Dacia and Lou never desired to know more about their lineage, instead preferring to gossip about their mysterious Romanian relatives, the Florescus. But upon turning seventeen, the girls must return to their homeland to meet their family, find proper husbands, and-most terrifyingly-learn the secrets of The Claw, The Wing, and The Smoke. The Florescus, after all, are shape-shifters, bound by a centuries-old tradition to do the bidding of the royal Dracula family and it is time for Dacia and Lou to take their place among the ranks. But when the devilish heir, Mihai Dracula sets his sights on Dacia as part of his plan to secure power over all of Europe, the girls choose to fight against this cruel inheritance with all their might. Only the dashing Lord Johnny Hardcastle and the mysterious Theophilus Arkady- members of a secret society charged with ridding the world of monsters-can help Dacia and Lou, but breaking the shackles of their upbringing will require more courage than the girls ever imagined.

The thrilling start to a richly drawn, romance-filled series, this epic adventure of two girls in a battle for their lives will have readers coming back for more.


Find it:




About Jessica:

Jessica Day George is the author of many books for young readers, including the wonderfully whimsical Tuesdays at the Castle and three books in the Dragonskin Slippers series. Before becoming a full-time writer, she worked as a librarian and bookseller. Jessica lives with her family in Salt Lake City, Utah.






Giveaway Rules: 

Open to international entrants as long as the Book Depository ships to you for free. You must be at least 13 years old to enter and have parental permission if under 18. Please ensure that you correctly enter your email (and check your junk mail folder) so that we have a way to contact you. Void where prohibited by law. Enter via the Rafflecopter below.
a Rafflecopter giveaway



Did you read the first half? Link up your review or blog post if you have one, otherwise, let me know in the comments what you thought!







Thursday, July 16, 2015

Review of Finding the Worm by Mark Goldblatt

Finding the Worm by Mark Goldblatt

Age Range: 9 - 12 years

Grade Level: 4 - 7

Series: Twerp #2

Genre: Historical fiction

Hardcover: 352 pages

Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers (February 10, 2015)

Source: from publisher

My rating: 5 of 5 stars




About the Book:

The New York Post praised Twerp as “reminiscent of The Perks of Being a Wallflower.” Finding the Worm is a sequel that stands on its own--an unforgettable coming-of-age story about life, loss, and friendship. Perfect for fans of The Sandlot and readers who love books by Jennifer L. Holm, Andrew Clements, and Rebecca Stead.

It’s not a test unless you can fail. . . .

Trouble always seems to find thirteen-year-old Julian Twerski. First it was a bullying incident, and now he’s been accused of vandalizing a painting. The principal doesn’t want to suspend him again, so instead, he asks Julian to write a 200-word essay on good citizenship. Julian writes 200 no’s instead, and so begins an epic struggle between Julian and his principal.

Being falsely accused is bad enough, but outside of school, Julian’s dealing with even bigger issues. His friend Quentin has been really sick. How can life be fair when the nicest guy in your group has cancer? Julian’s faith and friendships are put to the test . . . and the stakes have never been higher.


Find it:

My Thoughts:

Mark Goldblatt has written another must-read book for middle grade readers. This companion novel to Twerp stands on its own and will give readers a lot to think about.

Jullian has been blamed for something he didn't do, but more than that, he's dealing with a lot of outside things as well. His Bar Mitzvah is coming up and the nicest guy he knows has a tumor on his brain. To top it all off, a girl keeps challenging him to a race. It's a heartfelt and realistic story about a boy dealing with all the difficulties of becoming a man.

Goldblatt knows how to deal with the heavy issues. In Twerp, he tackled bullying, honesty, and making retribution. In Finding the Worm, he deals with faith, growing up, and illness. Simply put, this book was incredible. It was emotional, honest, and funny.

 Content: clean

5 STARS

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Read it Again: The Lightning Thief, Percy Jackson and the Olympians Book 1

The Lightning Thief, Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan

Age Range: 10 - 14 years

Series: Percy Jackson and the Olympians (Book 1)

Genre: Fantasy/Legends

Hardcover: 384 pages

Publisher: Miramax Books/ Hyperion (June 28, 2005)

Source: Bought

My rating: 5 of 5 stars







I Read (and Loved) it Again:

I've heard a lot of controversy about this series, but for the life of me, I can't figure out what there is to complain about. I read the entire series a few years ago and just recently reread The Lightning Thief. It was just as much fun the second time around and I'm considering reading the rest of the books again.  This is such a good series and the fact that it has so many kids reading is reason enough to like it. It's funny, action packed, and has a great story.

Percy is not your typical hero, but that's what makes him so likable. He has ADHD and dyslexia, he's hot tempered, and he has a knack for finding trouble. He's a protagonist that kids can relate to.  Annabeth and Grover are good sidekicks and each add their own special element and depth to the story.

I can easily see why these books are so popular with middle school kids, and I hope that Rick Riordan keeps writing books for this age group!

Content: violence

5 STARS


About the Book:

Percy Jackson is a good kid, but he can't seem to focus on his schoolwork or control his temper. And lately, being away at boarding school is only getting worse-Percy could have sworn his pre-algebra teacher turned into a monster and tried to kill him. When Percy's mom finds out, she knows it's time that he knew the truth about where he came from, and that he go to the one place he'll be safe. She sends Percy to Camp Half Blood, a summer camp for demigods (on Long Island), where he learns that the father he never knew is Poseidon, God of the Sea. Soon a mystery unfolds and together with his friends -- one a satyr and the other the demigod daughter of Athena -- Percy sets out on a quest across the United States to reach the gates of the Underworld (located in a recording studio in Hollywood) and prevent a catastrophic war between the gods.


Find it:

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