Thursday, February 28, 2013

Size 12 and Ready to Rock by Meg Cabot (Heather Wells #4)

Fisher Hall is hosting the Tania Trace Rock Camp after people around the famous pop singer keep getting hurt. So Heather Wells is stuck with her ex-boyfriend's pregnant new wife and a bunch of bratty teenage wannabes in her dorm. But the trouble the girls cause is nothing to what is happening around Tania.

For a generally snappy series, this entry in the Heather Wells series has some serious tones. It touches on domestic abuse and fertility issues. But really it only touches on the latter. The former plays out more explicitly. I wish the character of Tania was fleshed out a bit more, but it was nice to see more from the girl who "stole" Jordan away from Heather. And her story is given more substance which proves that everyone has something behind them.

But this is still a Heather Wells mystery and so it is still a pretty funny book. Heather is so good and sweet to people. And I love her and Cooper together. I'm glad to see their relationship progressing more. That's always nice see in a series (ahem, Stephanie Plum). Hopefully the next one will bring about a wedding. That would be pretty rare in a mystery series of this type. And I hope the next one has Jordan and Cooper's sisters in it because they were pretty hilarious.

Heather Wells Mysteries
Size 12 is Not Fat
Size 14 is Not Fat Either
Big Boned

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Blackout and All Clear by Connie Willis (audio) (Oxford Time Travel #3 & #4)

I decided to review both of these together since it basically one long book. They blend together seamlessly and you really can't read All Clear without having read Blackout. It would be confusing. I'm not sure what went into the decision to publish them separately but if you decide to read or listen to them make sure you have All Clear on hand to immediately begin reading after you finish Blackout.
It's Oxford 2060 and three historians are planning on traveling to World War II, each to observe something different. For her first assignment, Merope assumes the name Eileen O'Reilly and is sent to observe some 1940 London evacuees at a country manor house. Polly Churchill arrives in 1940 as well to observe the beginning of the London Blitz. And Michael Davies, who had been prepping to travel to Pearl Habor, has his assignments switch resulting in him going to 1940 to observe the Battle of Dunkirk. Each makes to their assignment and everything starts going wrong quickly after. None can get their drops to reopen and each is afraid that they have somehow started to change history, something that was previously thought impossible.

Blackout follows each historian as they transgress through World War II. They all have the same basic storyline. They arrive at their locations with Polly and Michael having some degree of "slippage," that is not arriving at the temporal location that was set up for them. Things go wrong for all of them at some point and then they discover that they cannot get back to their own time. The book ends with them trying to make their way to each other to hopefully use another's drop.

(SPOILERS) All Clear picks up where Blackout left off. The historians have found each other and try to work out where another historian is to hopefully find a way home that way. Each hopes for a retrieval team from Oxford and they begin leaving clues for Oxford 2060 in local newspapers, hoping for a rescue. They begin to think they are trapped in World War II because they have made horrible alterations to history. But none of them piece together the truth till much later.

If I have any criticisms it's that each book went on a tad too long. Especially the section where Micheal, Polly, and Eileen worry over the retrieval team. That part goes on too long. I also hated how Polly treated Eileen, like she was stupid when Eileen was shown to be more than capable. I guess that came from the fact that Eileen was younger than Polly and Micheal and so a little more naive.

But overall I enjoyed the story. The ending was predictable but still surprising and a bit sad. I learned a lot about the London Blitz and World War II. Eileen was a great character and Polly was too albeit a much more frustrating one since she could never seem to tell the truth about anything that Michael and Eileen might need to know. Once all the pieces came together it was easier to see how brilliant the story was. While this is not my favorite Connie Willis Oxford Time Travel story, it was certainly a wonderful addition to the world she has already built.

Katherine Kellgren is the narrator and she is once again amazing. I can't believe that I didn't like her to the first time I heard her on The Red Pyramid. She is honestly one of the most talented narrators and when I saw she narrated these Connie Willis I was so happy. Two of my favorites! Yes, please. She does a smashing job on both of these books and is a delight to listen to.

Blackout. 18 hours, 48 minutes
All Clear. 23 hours, 46 minues

Monday, February 25, 2013

Weekly Round-Up 2/25

Weekly Round-Up is my wrap-up of last week's activities and includes what I'm reading this week, reviews I've posted, books in the mail and anything else of interest plus From the Library, my weekly listing of what I've checked out from the library.
Last week I reviewed Only the Good Spy Young by Ally Carter. 

I'm reading Size 12 and Ready to Rock by Meg Cabot and listening to All Clear by Connie Willis, ready by Katherine Kellgren.

Size 12 and Ready to Rock by Meg Cabot (e-book)
Summer break . . . and the livin' ain't easy!

Just because the students at New York College have flown the coop doesn't mean assistant residence hall director Heather Wells can relax. Fischer Hall is busier than ever, filled with squealing thirteen- and fourteen-year-old girls attending the first ever Tania Trace Teen Rock Camp, hosted by pop sensation Tania Trace herself--who just happens to be newly married to Heather's ex-boyfriend, heartthrob Jordan Cartwright. But the real headache begins when the producer of a reality TV show starring Tania winds up dead . . . and it's clear that the star was the intended victim.

Grant Cartwright, head of Cartwright Records, wants to keep his daughter-in-law (and his highest-earning performer) alive. So he hires his oldest son, black sheep of the family and private investigator Cooper Cartwright--who just happens to be Heather's new fiance. Heather should leave the detecting to Cooper. But with a dorm full of hysterical mini-divas-in-training, she can't help but get involved. And after Tania shares a really shocking secret with her, this reality suddenly becomes more dangerously real than anyone ever anticipated.
Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage, read by Michael Friedman
A hilarious Southern debut with the kind of characters you meet once in a lifetime

Rising sixth grader Miss Moses LoBeau lives in the small town of Tupelo Landing, NC, where everyone's business is fair game and no secret is sacred. She washed ashore in a hurricane eleven years ago, and she's been making waves ever since. Although Mo hopes someday to find her "upstream mother," she's found a home with the Colonel--a café owner with a forgotten past of his own--and Miss Lana, the fabulous café hostess. She will protect those she loves with every bit of her strong will and tough attitude. So when a lawman comes to town asking about a murder, Mo and her best friend, Dale Earnhardt Johnson III, set out to uncover the truth in hopes of saving the only family Mo has ever known.

Full of wisdom, humor, and grit, this timeless yarn will melt the heart of even the sternest Yankee.

The Fox Inheritance by  Mary E. Pearson, read by Matthew Brown
Once there were three. Three friends who loved each other—Jenna, Locke, and Kara. And after a terrible accident destroyed their bodies, their three minds were kept alive, spinning in a digital netherworld. Even in that disembodied nightmare, they were still together. At least at first. When Jenna disappeared, Locke and Kara had to go on without her. Decades passed, and then centuries.

Two-hundred-and-sixty years later, they have been released at last. Given new, perfect bodies, Locke and Kara awaken to a world they know nothing about, where everyone they once knew and loved is long dead.

Everyone except Jenna Fox.

Pre-ordered (Publish date February 26, 2013)
The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson 
After her near-fatal run-in with the Jack the Ripper copycat, Rory Devereaux has been living in Bristol under the close watch of her parents. So when her therapist suddenly suggests she return to Wexford, Rory jumps at the chance to get back to her friends. But Rory's brush with the Ripper touched her more than she thought possible: she's become a human terminus, with the power to eliminate ghosts on contact. She soon finds out that the Shades--the city's secret ghost-fighting police--are responsible for her return. The Ripper may be gone, but now there is a string of new inexplicable deaths threatening London. Rory has evidence that the deaths are no coincidence. Something much more sinister is going on, and now she must convince the squad to listen to her before it's too late.
In this follow-up to the Edgar Award-nominated THE NAME OF THE STAR, Maureen Johnson adds another layer of spectacularly gruesome details to the streets of London that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end.

**descriptions from Goodreads**

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Only the Good Spy Young by Ally Carter (Gallagher Girls #4)

Cammie is the target by the mysterious Circle of Cavan, an terriost organization of spies. After her former teacher, Joe Solomon, risks his life to give her a coded message, she goes a mission to find out why the Circle wants her and what her father and Mr. Solomon have to do with the organization. With the help of her super spy friends and her sort of love interest, Zach, Cammie sets out to find the truth. But the truth is harder to find than she thinks.

It's been a while since I got into this series. The third book didn't do it for me but I enjoyed this one. I think the time off (and the fact that it wasn't following up a fantastic book) helped. Cammie and her friends really step up their game in this book which is good because the ending is drawing closer (it's a 6 book series) and all the players are being set up for the finale. We learn a little more about the Circle and who is in it and that makes for some surprising moments. We don't learn why they want Cammie and not too much more about Cammie's father though it is implied that he is still alive. But the story moves forward at fun pace and I'm anxious to read the next one to see what happens next.

Gallagher Girls series
I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You
Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy
Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover

Monday, February 11, 2013

Weekly Round-Up 2/11

Weekly Round-Up is my wrap-up of last week's activities and includes what I'm reading this week, reviews I've posted, books in the mail and anything else of interest plus From the Library, my weekly listing of what I've checked out from the library.
This week I reviewed Eagle Strike by Anthony Horowitz and check out a few Walt Disney World Guides.

I'm reading Only the Good Spy Young by Ally Carter and listening to Blackout by Connie Willis.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Walt Disney World Guides

We are going on vacation soon to Walt Disney World so I've been checking out some guidebooks because it is always fun to read up before I can. This is going to be my third trip to Disney World. The first was on my honeymoon in 2004, the second was a family trip with my family in 2010 and now we are going with my husband's parents. We are pretty excited about taking our kids, especially the 6 year old since he will be able to ride almost all the rides this time.

 I like this one the best. It has a lot of the information and they include a "scare factor" and a recommended age for each ride. It also has useful packing tips and tips for dealing with all age range of kids. There is even a section on projects kids can do for school if they are missing for vacation.
This one is also good. Most guides provide basically the same information. I found this one to be a little more negative than the others. It almost seemed like they didn't really like anything. But then it includes readers' letters so that accounts for more of the bad reviews. Good tips and it includes touring plans if you like that sort of thing.
This one has lots of color pictures and is a good overview of Disney World. I like this guide for those reasons.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Eagle Strike by Anthony Horowitz (Alex Rider #4)

While on holiday with his friend Sabina Pleasure and her family, an attempt is made on Sabina's father's life. When Alex learns his old foe, Yassen Gregorovich the man who killed his uncle, is behind it, he is determined to find out who would want to kill the journalist. Alex's curiosity leads him to Damian Cray, the ultra-rich philanthropist pop star who has an insane plan to save the world no matter the cost.

Another crazy madman, another crazy adventure. It's par for the course for Alex Rider at this point.  What is it with villains that in these books that they leave Alex alone with some trap? It's like in Austin Powers:

Dr. Evil: Scott, I want you to meet daddy's nemesis, Austin Powers
Scott Evil: What? Are you feeding him? Why don't you just kill him?
Dr. Evil: I have an even better idea. I'm going to place him in an easily escapable situation involving an overly elaborate and exotic death.
Dr. Evil: All right guard, begin the unnecessarily slow-moving dipping mechanism.
[guard starts dipping mechanism]
Dr. Evil: Close the tank!
Scott Evil: Wait, aren't you even going to watch them? They could get away!
Dr. Evil: No no no, I'm going to leave them alone and not actually witness them dying, I'm just gonna assume it all went to plan. What?
Scott Evil: I have a gun, in my room, you give me five seconds, I'll get it, I'll come back down here, BOOM, I'll blow their brains out!
Dr. Evil: Scott, you just don't get it, do ya? You don't.

So a giant video game set and they just leave him alone. So dumb. But it wouldn't be much of a book if they just shot him. But as adventure spy thrillers go, it is a pretty good book. I'll definitely finish the series but I am going to take a break for a couple of books, I think. It's funny because there was a giant reveal at the end of this book that leaves Alex and the reader questioning everything we've known about Alex's father up to this book. So I definitely want to find out about that.

Alex Rider
Point Blank
Skeleton Key

Monday, February 4, 2013

Weekly Round-Up 2/4

Weekly Round-Up is my wrap-up of last week's activities and includes what I'm reading this week, reviews I've posted, books in the mail and anything else of interest plus From the Library, my weekly listing of what I've checked out from the library.
Last week I reviewed Skeleton Key by Anthony Horowitz and I posted From the Library on Friday.

I'm still reading Eagle Strike by Anthony Horowitz and listening to Blackout by Connie Willis.

Friday, February 1, 2013

From the Library - Friday edition

 A Midsummer Tights Dream by Louise Rennison (Misadventures of Tallulah Casey #2)

Tallulah Casey is back and ready to Irish-comedy-dance her way through another term at Dother Hall, but now that she's been officially admitted to the performing arts program, that won't cut it anymore. Especially if she's going to help raise enough money to keep the school from closing at the end of the year.

There are also some . . . distractions to worry about: The boys of Woolfe Academy are lingering about. And they are still boys, so they are still confusing.

Will Tallulah be able to test out her new snogging skills and ace her performance in this term's project, A Midsummer Night's Dream? Only time and more Irish comedy dancing will tell.

Juliet Immortal by Stacey Jay

The most tragic love story in history . . .

Juliet Capulet didn't take her own life. She was murdered by the person she trusted most, her new husband, Romeo Montague, a sacrifice made to ensure his own immortality. But what Romeo didn't anticipate was that Juliet would be granted eternity, as well, and would become an agent for the Ambassadors of Light. For 700 years, she's fought Romeo for the souls of true lovers, struggling to preserve romantic love and the lives of the innocent. Until the day she meets someone she's forbidden to love, and Romeo, oh Romeo, will do everything in his power to destroy that love.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 13, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs... for now.

Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault.

Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.

Promised by Caugh O'Brien (Birthmarked #3)
After defying the ruthless Enclave, surviving the wasteland, and upending the rigid matriarchy of Sylum, Gaia Stone now faces her biggest challenge ever.  She must lead the people of Sylum back to the Enclave and persuade the Protectorat to grant them refuge from the wasteland.  In Gaia's absence, the Enclave has grown more cruel, more desperate to experiment on mothers from outside the wall, and now the stakes of cooperating or rebelling have never been higher.  Is Gaia ready, as a leader, to sacrifice what--or whom--she loves most?

Because It Is My Blood by Gabrille Zevin (Birthright #2)
Since her release from Liberty Children's Facility, Anya Balanchine is determined to follow the straight and narrow. Unfortunately, her criminal record is making it hard for her to do that. No high school wants her with a gun possession charge on her rap sheet. Plus, all the people in her life have moved on: Natty has skipped two grades at Holy Trinity, Scarlet and Gable seem closer than ever, and even Win is in a new relationship.But when old friends return demanding that certain debts be paid, Anya is thrown right back into the criminal world that she had been determined to escape. It’s a journey that will take her across the ocean and straight into the heart of the birthplace of chocolate where her resolve--and her heart--will be tested as never before.

Let's Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir by Jenny Lawson
For fans of Tina Fey and David Sedaris—Internet star Jenny Lawson, aka The Bloggess, makes her literary debut.

Jenny Lawson realized that the most mortifying moments of our lives—the ones we’d like to pretend never happened—are in fact the ones that define us. In the #1 New York Times bestseller, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, Lawson takes readers on a hilarious journey recalling her bizarre upbringing in rural Texas, her devastatingly awkward high school years, and her relationship with her long-suffering husband, Victor. Chapters include: “Stanley the Magical, Talking Squirrel”; “A Series of Angry Post-It Notes to My Husband”; “My Vagina Is Fine. Thanks for Asking”; “And Then I Snuck a Dead Cuban Alligator on an Airplane.” Pictures with captions (no one would believe these things without proof) accompany the text.

**All descriptions from Goodreads**