Friday, February 22, 2013

City of Bones

By Cassandra Clare

When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder—much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It’s hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing—not even a smear of blood—to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?

This is Clary’s first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It’s also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace’s world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundane like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know…


So, with the impending movie, and having watched the trailer, and having had some friends tell me I must read this series, I decided to start.  My initial thought was: Why are they making a movie out of this book when there are so many other amazing titles out there? It’s really just a re-hash of what’s popular at the moment with a few interesting twists.  Basically it’s about a girl who finds out she has ‘the sight’ and has to rescue her mother from the villain, all the while meeting a gorgeous guy (why can’t he be ugly for once?) and feeling an inexplicable attraction. There are vampires, werewolves, monsters, and hunters.  This book is entertaining and I plugged away and finished it pretty fast, that being said, I was left sorta confused as to how I felt about it. I liked the werewolf part, but I’m strangely partial to wolves. I thought the relationship between Jace and Clary was a little weird and random.  She thinks he’s a jerk, but all I could see was that he was abrupt. It kinda made her look like a dunce, but hey, I’ll admit that people are stupid when they like someone else.  All in all, I’ll probably eventually read the other books, but I admit, I had to sneak a peek on the internet to find out one certain fact if I continued the series…so yes I actually spoiled it for myself.  If you’ve read these, you know what I’m talking about.

I give it a 3 out of 5 because it was average for what’s hot right now.

Here's the Trailer for the movie that comes out this summer.

20,000 Days and Counting

By Robert D. Smith

The day for change is today and it’s more simple than you realize.

 Most people sleepwalk through day-to-day life, passively letting time slip away. Unfortunately, the only thing that can usually wake people up to the intensity of life is impending death. But what if you didn’t have to be that way? 20,000 days presents breathtakingly simple strategies and concepts that, once applied, will enable readers to be 100% present and intentional with every passing minute of every day, for the rest of their lives.

The book is designed to be read in under an hour and the effect is immediate. Within each segment are tactics for mastering control of your life; principles such as:

·         Motivation is a myth

·         You only have two choices, yes and no

·         How to conquer rejection forever

·         How BECOMING the problem with SOLVE all your problems

·         Three sentences that will change your life immediately

 These timeless principles apply to everyone from the pending graduate to the seasoned business professional; from the time-starved parent to the weary pastor to the restless entrepreneur.

 On the 20,000th day of his life, the author sent an email that inspired and reminded a group of people of all ages to live in the moment. This group now includes you.


 So, true to the boast, I read this book in one sitting in about an hour and a half. It was pretty awesome, and I still go back to all the stuff I highlighted. It gives a lot of insight into the way we think the walls we get stuck in front of by simply focusing on the wrong things. One of my favorite parts of the book was the story he told about a young man who held onto this motto: No reatreats. No Reserves. No Regrets. This book is filled with little precious gems of wisdom, perfect for the start of any new goal or resolution. I’d recommend it to those people who have a hard time feeling successful, or wanting to change.  It’s a great self-help like book, but more about attitude and happiness.

I give it a 4 out of 5 Because it gave me some awesome epiphanies.

The Name of the Star

By Maureen Johnson

 The day Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London marks a memorable occasion. For Rory, it’s the start of a new life at a London boarding school. But for many, this will be remembered as the day a series of brutal murders broke out across the city, gruesome crimes mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper in the autumn of 1888.

Soon “Rippermania” takes hold of modern-day London, and the police are left with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. Rory spotted the man the police now believe to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him. Even her roommate, who was with her at the time, didn’t notice the mysterious man. So why can only Rory see him? And more urgently, why has Rory become his next target? In this edge-of-your-seat thriller, full of suspense, humor, and romance, Rory will learn the truth about the secret ghost police of London and discover her own shocking abilities.

 So I was obsessed with ghost stories as a kid, and this book was like going back to those times. I really enjoyed the tone and the story of this novel, which can dip into the darker themes at time (it is a book about Jack the Ripper).  I appreciated the history of Jack-the-Ripper with the map in the front with the area of White Chapel, it helped ground me. Also, having the protagonist from the U.S. going to London helped me get a feel for London in much the same way I would if I went, being from the U.S. myself. I enjoyed Rory’s point of view of living in London and the way people were the same and different from what she expected. There were plenty of funny moments that lightened an otherwise potentially dark book. I really enjoyed the mystery and the paranormal element and look forward to the next book, hoping it will keep the same tone, light, fantastical, and a little edgy.

I give it a 3.5 out of 5 but it’s really closer to 4!

What Came From the Stars

By Gary D. Schmidt

The peaceful civilization of Valorim is under siege…It’s about to fall to the dark Lord Mondus. In a panic, a few heroes bind all their world’s beauty into one precious necklace and send it across the cosmos, hurling past a trillion lighted stars…all the way into the lunch box of sixth-grader Tommy Pepper of Plymouth, Massachusetts.

Tommy puts it on, and soon he starts doodling pictures of the twin suns of Valorim and hearing strange music. But at first, he is too preoccupied to notice; his mother died recently, and his sister isn’t speaking, and his father is fighting a real-estate agency to keep their home. But when strange minions of Lord Mondus begin ransacking Plymouth, Tommy realizes he must protect his family from villains more dangerous than a vengeful realtor and her bus-stop-bully daughter. Gary D. Schmidt masterfully presents the epic story of a family trying to redefine itself in the wake of tragedy.


So…this was an interesting turn for this author, and while at first I was wondering about his choice of fantasy interwoven with real-life, I think I got it by halfway through the book.  Part of this book is the perspective of the different Valorim on the far away planet, and another part is in the much easier to understand perspective of Tommy Pepper.  At the beginning of the novel there was so much name dropping of alien people that I couldn’t tell left from right and wondered how a seasoned writer could make that mistake, and as I kept reading it kept niggling at me, but then I realized that this book really isn’t about the Valorim…it’s about Tommy and everything that happens with the Valorim, the monsters, the necklace, is a way to tell a story about loss and love and family. After I realized that, I also began to understand how cool it was that Mr. Schmidt tried this. Using the fantastical to approach well-known themes and problems is a great technique, and I enjoyed the book a lot more once I was focusing on what I knew I was supposed to. It’s actually a really symbolic book with a lot of poetic pieces to it. He’s a really talented author, and I’d recommend this to anybody who likes his other books. Nice job.

I give it a 3.8 out of 5 because of the beautiful tone and imagery and the underlying message.

Daughter of the Goddess

By Rita J. Webb

The Heart.

The God of Love seeks a bride who is pure in heart and full of life—full of soul. Instead of a woman, he finds a child with laughter in her heart. Waiting for her to grow up, he befriends her, pretending to be nothing more than a blue-eyed boy with wild, tangled hair.

 The Soul.

Left on the temple doorstep, a young girl turns the lives of the priestesses upside down…until one summer before her eighteenth birthday, a traveling oracle tells her she is to marry a stranger in a foreign land.

The Nightmare.

An ancient demon—half man, half snake—wants to destroy anything the gods love. When she was a child, he haunted her dreams, but now he stalks her across the countryside. If he catches her, he’ll devour her.



This was a fun find on my kindle that turned out much better than I expected.  It has a lot of the tone of classical mythology, I got stuck in paralleling it to the Greek pantheon, but strangely I got a lot of Christian themes within the book as I read. It was a sweet read, and I really connected with Peaches on a lot of levels.  This is a love story, but it’s also a story about good and evil and the power one person has to change everything in their own life and the lives of the people they love.  I’d highly recommend it if you enjoy mythology and fairy tale. It can be compared to certain Christian themes, but I see them because I’m Christian, so even if you aren’t you can still really enjoy this book.


I give it a 3.9 out of 5- it’s almost a 4 but not quite!

Chasing Lincoln's Killer

By James L. Swanson

Based on rare archival material, obscure trial manuscripts, and interviews with relatives of the conspirators and the manhunters, Chasing Lincoln’s Killer is a fast-paced thriller about the pursuit and capture of John Wilkes Booth: a wild twelve-day chase through the streets of Washington, D.C., across the swamps of Maryland, and into the forests of Virginia.


This is actually a pretty cool read. It’s a book about the events of the assassination of Lincoln, a hot topic right now in media for some reason, and the ensuing manhunt for John Wilkes Booth.  It’s the kid version of the New York Bestseller by the same author, called “Manhunt”, but I really like the young adult version (it’s a lot shorter). Not that I don’t like the long versions, but it can get kind of hard to get through after the first few hundred pages. It has lots of interesting pictures of Booth and the other conspirators, maps, and interesting information I never knew. It’s great for the kid (or adult) that enjoys his history and especially likes Mr. Lincoln.

I give it a 3.5 out of 5 Mostly for preference, I don’t usually read this sort of thing, but if you do, I’d give it more like a 4.

Sleeping Beauty

By Jenni James

The sleeping girl has no idea she is asleep.

After Aleyna witnessed the cruel deaths of her family, she was put to sleep by Ezralon the unicorn. He has been keeping her safe, hidden in the forest, until her true prince could come and rescue her.

While Aleyna is protected in the forest, her spirit walks the halls of her ruined, deserted castle in a dream-like existence, believing everything is still perfect. However, she is halted in this state—almost as if time were frozen—until the prince awakens her.

Prince Darien of Lybrooke Court loves a challenge as much as the next man, but believes it will be a fool’s errand to rescue a ghost who is already dead! He’s convinced no one could have survived sleeping thirty years, so what is the point of rescuing a girl who is quite content to haunt on her own?

Of course, if Darien wasn’t so afraid of ghouls, this whole thing could be much easier to fathom…

I was stoked to read this book after reading Jenni James’s “Beauty and the Beast”, and the fact that the hero was afraid of his damsel? How awesome! But, sadly, I was let down. Darien had a bad case of love at first sight, and overcame his fear in the blink of an eye. I was disappointed, hoping for a little more development. It was still enjoyable and sweet, and it’s a great twist on the fairy tale, but I still prefer Cameron Dokey’s “Beauty Sleep” for Sleeping Beauty retelling.

I give it a 3 out of 5 for an average entertaining read.

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

By Mark Twain

 The Great American novel about a boy and a runaway slave on the Mississippi river dodging the law, and meeting many charismatic people along their way.

This is one of those classics that if you didn’t read it in high school, it’s on your list of to-reads sometime in your life.  This was my second time around with this one and of course, since I’m older I got different things out of it.  When I started I couldn’t remember how it ended, which seemed strange to me, but when I got to that humdinger ending I could see how I blocked that out. With such a rich and morally stimulating book you get to the last part and you are thrown back into ridiculous and painful low comedy and you have to wonder if Twain just got sick of writing or if he did it on purpose. Anyway, this book is a wonderful read and I heartily believe that everyone (especially people from the U.S. ) should read this at least once. It is a classic for a reason.

I give it 4 out of 5

Red Ranger Came Calling

By Berkley Breathed

 The narrator relives his father's most amazing childhood Christmas. A moody young boy living with his aunt on an island, "Red" Breathed sees himself as the "Red Ranger from Mars", his hero from the movie serials, and cannot picture life without the gift of a Red Ranger bicycle. Red is far too "swanky a human being" to believe in Santa Claus, but nevertheless he pays a visit to the aged island hermit, Lord Sander Clos, rumored to be the legendary man himself, now living in lonely, joyless retirement. This meeting triggers an emotional response within the self-absorbed Red and leads to the most remarkable bicycle ever delivered on Christmas morning.

his is quite possibly the most delightful Christmas story I’ve ever read. It is filled with hilarious illustrations and the quirky story that I can see being told as a family legend. It has all the charm of books like “Pingo” by Brandon Mull with that old-story boyhood need that is so loved in the movie “A Christmas Story”. This is a must-have for your Christmas book shelf. Completely delightful!

I give it 4 ½ out of 5 for one of the best picture books I’ve ever read!


By Anita Valle

 Maelyn was not born a princess. The king found her as a child, the lone survivor of a poor village slaughtered by the Red Fever. Suddenly she became a princess of Runa Realm, the first of nine orphans adopted by the king.

By her eighteenth year, Maelyn rules over Runa and a family of nine sisters. But some call the princesses frauds and imposters, a handful of urchins raised into royalty. Even Uncle Jarros, the High Kind of Grunwold, seems determined to prove that Maelyn no longer deserves to be a princess. With a family losing faith in her, and a kingdom growing dangerously hostile, even Maelyn begins to wonder if she is truly a real princess. And if her riches will turn to rags once again…


 This is the first in a short Kindle novella series that I found for free and thought, “why not? I like Princesses.” I read this and was reminded of Shannon Hale with the fun telling of the princess sisters and the evil uncle-king. It wasn’t as neatly told, or as in-depth, but I loved it all the same. It’s fun and sweet. I enjoyed the bits of romance and the dynamic between the princesses. I plan to keep reading them and let you all know if they are worth it.
P.S. I know the cover is horrible, but don't judge it by that please!

I give it a 3 ½ out of 5 for potential!

Beauty and the Beast

By Jenni James

 A prince by day and a wolf by night-

Prince Alexander has been turned into a werewolf and has one year to find someone to love the beast and break the spell, or he will be a wolf forever. He has nearly given up achieving the impossible, knowing no girl would ever fall in love with such a monster.

Just when he is about to abdicate the throne to his cousin, he meets Cecelia Hammerstein-Smythe, while a wolf, and begins to hope for the first time in months. Can he balance both worlds as a human and beast, gaining the love and trust of a girl who has every reason to despise him?

Cecelia detests the prince. She only knows Alexander as the arrogant monarch—the tyrant who has made her life miserable-though perhaps he’s changed right before her eyes. He’s not as full of himself as he once was. The prince is gentle now…but then again, so is the beast.


This was so stinking cute.  As a story it held me captivated and I read it in a day. It was a lovely rehash of my favorite fairy tale. Basically you have the werewolf prince who was a jerk to everyone under his station, including Ceclia, who is one of those people who is annoyingly good. When he is turned into a werewolf it is a maturing experience for him, and he becomes both more observant toward others, but stoic and silent in his troubles of the kingdom and ruling when he isn’t even human. I enjoyed this so much because of the dynamic between beast, Cecelia, and Alexander. There were, of course, things that bothered me though.  As per usual, it’s difficult to show the slow process of change within the prince, so it felt like it was this sudden happening where all at once he became gentle and loving. The story was too quick for me, I would’ve rather had it drawn out more. I want to slowly fall in love with the characters as they start to really see each other. But this was fantastic for a romantic warm-fuzzy book. If you enjoy the fairy tale, I highly suggest this book.


I give it a 3 ½ out of 5


By Emlyn Chand

 Alex Kosmitoras’s life has never been easy. The only other student who will talk to him is the school bully, his parents are dead broke and insanely overprotective, and…oh yeah, he’s blind. Just when he thinks he’ll never have a shot at a normal life, an enticing new girl comes to their small Midwest town all the way from India. Simmi is smart, nice, and actually wants to be friends with Alex. Plus she smells like an Almond Joy bar. Sophmore year might not be so bad after all.

Alex is in store for another new arrival—an unexpected and often embarrassing ability to “see” the future. Try as he may, he is unable to ignore his visions, especially when they suggest Simmi is in mortal danger.

With the help of the mysterious psychic next door and friends who come bearing gifts of their own, Alex embarks on his journey to change the future.

So I think that I’m not the only person who’s ever wondered what it would be like to be blind, so of course this book appealed to me when I found out it was about a blind kid who could ‘see’ the future. Intriguing no? Alex is a frustrating character at times, but in the good way, as in he acts like a total idiot and as you read you want to shake him and tell him how…ahem…blind he is. (no pun I swear!) While Alex is trying to master his newfound psychic talent, and finding out that there are others like him, there is the romance budding underneath everything. Alex is crushing on Simmi, who smells like an almond joy (I’d be in love with that smell too!) but there is another girl who might be way better for him…and not to mention a potential murderer after them all.

I give it a 3 out of 5- it was average, entertaining, but not anything fantastic.

Love Sworn

By Tess Williams

An enchanted castle, a self-absorbed rich boy, a painful curse, and the quiet heart of a beautiful girl…
Can a monster fall in love?

Love Sworn is a modern day retelling of the classic story, Beauty and the Beast, with a werewolf twist.

Adelle is trapped by a man, a monster, with a serious attitude problem. Her only comfort comes from the furry, scaly, and feathered household help, and her unexpected friendship with a white wolf named Max.

Dmitri is trapped by a curse and now by a girl. One way or another, he has to find freedom.

So I’ve been hunting for ages for a really good beauty and the beast book, and this one came pretty dang close to fitting the mold for me. It went slower and developed the relationship between Adelle and Dmitri, which was sweet, if a little confusing at times. I liked Adelle, but she came across as a little dim-witted at times. Dmitri was (sadly) a gorgeous guy when he wasn’t a…gorgeous wolf. The beast part never really played in for me. Wolves are not what I’d considered Beast material, I think they are beautiful. Dmitri was also a little quick to ‘change’ for me, it seemed like he suddenly decided that he was going to be nice to Adelle and then just as sudden he realizes he loves her. Her feelings were a little slower and therefore more realistic to me. She was infatuated and curious, but love didn’t come until later. When all is said and done though, it was a fun and entertaining read as well as warm-fuzzy at moments. It’s a nice romantic read that I did enjoy despite my critiques. As far as Beauty and the Beast re-tellings go, this one is probably toward the top for me.

3 ½ out of 5 because it was sweet and fun.

Dangerous Voices

By Rae Carson

Errik has been a prisoner—and alone—for a long, long time. He lives for the moment each day when the window of his dungeon cell shines a bit of light onto his bearded face. But everything changes when he gets a new neighbor, a young girl with a voice as beautiful as springrise. They both know the rules: No singing. No speaking. Voices are dangerous. But they can’t help themselves. And soon enough, Errik begins to remember himself, why he’s here in this dark place, and why his captors will stop at nothing to ensure his silence.

This is a short story that I found for free on Amazon that I really liked. It was unclear on quite a few things, like why exactly they were in prison, which you have to hazard a guess at toward the end, but Ms. Carson gives you enough that you can make fairly good guesses to what happens, but that isn’t what she focuses on and what is most important. This is a story about being true to yourself and the things that make you who you are no matter who tries to cage you or control your actions. It really is beautiful and well done. I enjoyed it and highly recommend grabbing it on amazon. It’s free and fantastic. I definitely want to read some of her other work now.

I give it a 4 out of 5 for being hauntingly beautiful.