Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray (audio)

A plane full of beauty queens crash onto a island where a corporation has set up shop in a volcano in order to do an arms deal with a crazy dictator.

I've been sitting on this review for a while now because I am not entirely sure where to begin with this book. It's a commentary of how women are treated in society. It's a satire on beauty pageants. It's a Survivor meets  Lord of the Flies (with girls) meets Miss Teen USA. It's mostly just like nothing else. Libba Bray is the Tom Robbins of Young Adult fiction.

To say I loved it is an understatement. It is a truly enjoyable book that gave me a lot of food for thought. I enjoyed the diverse cast of characters and the treatment of the various issues that arose from transgender to race, nothing was off topic. Each girl's character was explored thoroughly and most if not all displayed tremendous character growth.

It was a fun book too. I loved the Captains Bodacious, the reality TV pirates. I loved the crazy dictator who is love with the former beauty queen turned presential hopeful and who loves Elvis and carried a stuffed lemur named General Goodtimes. I love the play on the standard shipwrecked trope mixed with the evil corporation mixed with the villian's lair being located in a volcano. I loved the footnotes and the commercial breaks and the running commentary interspersed through the book. It is a different kind of book but not one to be missed.

I am usually very apprehensive about author read audio books. Just because you can write doesn't mean you can read in an entertaining manner. But Libba Bray just delivers this book in an amazing way. There is a reason is she won the 2012 Audie Award Winner for Best Narration by the Author because her reading of this book really sells it and gives it something extra. Readings like this are the reason why I like audio books and why I always say the narrator makes a huge different in the quality of the audiobook.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross

Mira longs to visit the town she was born in where her parents died saving her. But her godmothers have forbidden it along with so many other things. But close to her 16th birthday, Mira sneaks out of town and travels to Beau Rivage to find her parents' graves and learn more about her past. There she finds more secrets and lies in a town where fairy tales come true and the people are marked with their destiny. 

I pick this up on the recommendation of Twitter who said it was an amazing book. So because I love fairy tales and twisted retellings, I bought it. It was okay. I was frustrated with Mira. I wanted her to see more than she was allowed. I know that her ignorance of fairy tales can be explained by her godmothers' banishment of any of that kind from her house but it frustrated me nonetheless. I was also frustrated by Blue who was obviously going to become the love interest. His character was so alarming in the beginning and yet he just kept showing up. But in the end he won me over. 

I liked the dark tone set by the fairy tales. It is pointed out many times that fairy tales don't always have a happy ending for everyone involved and they can be quite violent. And this makes for a fairly interesting story for Mira. I think some of the actions are a little gross though given the fact that she is only 15. The story seems to lose sight of that on occasion. So it was a decent read especially if you love fractured fairy tales. It just wasn't the most engrossing one I have read.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Someday by Alison McGhee and Peter H. Reynolds

I went to the bookstore the other day to get books for my son's birthday and for Christmas for him and my daughter. I was looking for a hardcover picture book for each of them. And I saw this one. I actually cried in the bookstore and I rarely just cry in public. It is so sweet and sentimental and touching that I immediately put it in the buying pile. I had to get it for my girl. It is a short book with lovely pictures that carried the mother and child from infant hood to old age, told very simply but very poignant nonetheless. I'm not entirely sure how I will get through it without crying when I read it to her (to them both really) but I am going to try.

On the Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman

On the recommendation of my sister-in-law I got this book from the library to read to my kids. It is a lovely book about how special the child is and how their birth was a miracle and something to be celebrated. The illustrations are darling and it really is a sweet book. I enjoyed it and I will have to pick up a copy of it to keep.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Artemis Fowl: The Last Guardian by Eoin Colfer (audio)

In the final installment of the Artemis Fowl series, Artemis is up against Opal again.  This time she is trying to open a magical gate that will lead to the destruction of mankind and will allow fairies to rule the world with her as the leader, of course. But the boy genuis and his friends will not allow that to happen especially since all of this takes place at Fowl Manor and Artemis' little brothers and Butler's sister are possessed by ancient fairy spirits bend on revenge against the humans.

An excellent finish to a great series! I am going to miss the adventures of Artemis Fowl, Holly Short, Butler and all the other great characters in this series. When I reviewed The Atlantis Complex I said I had no idea how the series would end. I guessed Opal would be involved and I was right. But I didn't really make any guesses beyond that because the Artemis Fowl books have always been surprising. And the ending of this book is really surprising and I enjoyed seeing Artemis grow so much as a person. He is such a different character in this book than in the first one and that is some amazing character growth. The adventure itself is sort of not again for the characters but it was fun and hilarious in some places. And I never doubted that they would win. I was genuinely surprised at how they won. Now I really want to go back and read the first book again, just to remind myself at how far the characters have come.

Nathaniel Parker is the narrator for this book and I enjoyed listening to him. He brings a great sense of urgency, excitement, and humor to his reading. I've pretty much only been listening to the Artemis Fowl books for a long time because they are great on audio and really one of the best audiobook series I've come across.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Messy by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

From Goodreads: 
After a rocky start in Spoiled, Brooke Berlin and her newly discovered half sister, Molly Dix, have settled into something like sisterly love, but the drama is far from over.
Now that Brooke's caught a taste of fame and her movie star father's attention, she wants to launch a blog that will position her as the ultimate Hollywood insider. But between schoolwork, party-planning committee meetings, and spa treatments, she hardly has the time to write it herself...
Enter Max McCormack, an aspiring author with a terrible after-school job pushing faux meat on the macrobiotic masses of La-La Land. Max reluctantly agrees to play Brooke's ghost-blogger for an impressive salary, and the site takes off, but how long can their lie last? In person, Brooke can't live up to the intellectual wit of openbrooke.com, and Max soon begins to resent hiding her genius behind a bandage dress-wearing blonde. Can the girls work together to stay on top, or will the truth come out and ruin everything they've built?

I adored Spoiled and I really loved Messy. Both have the terrific sense of humor and pop culture jokes that you'd expect to find from the Fug Girls. There are a lot of references to clothing and gossip, of course, but some of the best things are the made up stuff like the soap opera "Lust for Life." Max, as a character, didn't stand out in my mind from the first book but it was cool having her front and center with Molly returning as a secondary character. I enjoyed that and I enjoyed seeing more of Brooke. She is a very complex character and it is nice to see more development of her.

It was a good story too. It wasn't a groundbreaking plot or anything but it was very fun and the characters more than make up for some of the more generic plot elements.  There are a few surprises along the way and Max and Brooke grow a lot as characters. I enjoyed the character of Brady Swift as well. He was a genuinely nice guy as was Jake, the football player Max has a crush on, and that was nice to see. It is a very fun book, something to pick up for a good, quick read.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan (The Lynburn Legacy #1)

Kami has lived her whole life with a boy inside her head. But when that boy turns out to be real and one of the dreaded Lynburns, a family whose mysterious hold over the town causes fear and silence, Kami's perceptions of her life and her town are turned upside down. With her nap loving friend Angela and the other Lynburn, tall, polite Ash, Kami sets out to find out why the Lynburns are so feared in Sorry-in-the-Vale.

It's been a while since I've read a book that I haven't wanted to put down. For a long time now, I've lazily been reading books. Usually I ripped through books quickly taking a couple of days, sometimes a week but not much more. But not lately which is why I have been so quiet on this blog. But Unspoken was not a book to be put down. It pretty much demanded that I read it right now. And I am so glad it did. This is one of the funnies, smartest, and most engrossing book I've come across in a while. I loved it. While I didn't find what the Lynburns are to be that surprising, sometimes it is less about how original an idea is and more about how well it is executed. I did love the element that Kami and Jared are telepathically linked and how that came about. I loved the ending even though it broke my heart a little. I loved how funny this was. True story: I was reading this during a reference desk shift and started laughing out loud. Probably not my most professional moment but it could not be helped. This is a great book and I highly recommend it.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Snow Queen's Shadow by Jim C. Hines (Princess #4)

From Goodreads:
A broken mirror. A stolen child. A final mission to try to stop an enemy they never dreamed they would face.

When a spell gone wrong shatters Snow White's enchanted mirror, a demon escapes into the world. The demon's magic distorts the vision of all it touches, showing them only ugliness and hate. It is a power that turns even friends and lovers into mortal foes, one that will threaten humans and fairies alike.

And the first to fall under the demon's power is the princess, Snow White..

The last of the Princess series! I am sad about that. It was an excellent book and a great ending to the series. It really explores and twists the story of the Snow Queen.  All the elements are there from the story by Hans Christian Andersen, just remade to fit the story of Snow's possession of the demon who inhabited her mother's magic mirror and that demon's quest for power and Snow's desire for revenge. It was really well done how Hines managed to have the Snow Queen's story and yet make it about Snow White and fit the narrative of the series as a whole. I enjoyed how Talia and Danielle fit into the story and the exploration of Snow's past. She was the only princess prior to this book whose back story hadn't been fleshed out more and this book filled in that gap. There was a lot of action and definitely a lot of emotion. It was a good read and I am going to miss this series.

The Stepsister Scheme (#1)
The Mermaid's Madness (#2)
 Red Hood's Revenge (#3)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Hidden Gallery (The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place #2) by Maryrose Wood (audio)

In this sequel to The Mysterious Howling, Miss Penelope Lumley and the children venture to London. There they meet a playright who Miss Lumley develops a lovely friendship with and learn that the children are under a curse. The mystery of who the children are deepens as does the mystery of who Miss Lumley might be as well.

This is a charming series. It combines some of my favorite things: historical childrens books, mysteries, and some asides. It reminds me of A Series of Unfortunate Events, maintaining the same cheeky tone without being quite so gloomy and depressing. Miss Lumley is a delight and I love how she handles the children and how much she cares for them. For example attempting to "rescue" them from the zoo by trying to ride a velocipede. I love that. She is a good girl and very curious. The mystery doesn't make any real headway, mostly the events of the book just add more questions but I am very interested to see what will happen next.

Katherine Kellgren narrates this audiobook and once again does a fine job. Her howling and all the voices she does really show how much effort she puts into acting out an audiobook and that is why she is one of my favorite narrators.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Bitterblue by Kristen Cashore (Graceling Realm #3)

Eight years after the events of Graceling, Bitterblue is the queen of Monsea. Dealing with a kingdom waking up from Leck's evil leaves Bitterblue confused, bored and lonely with little clue about how her kingdom really is, she decided to venture of the castle to find out. This one decision leads her down a path filled with first love, assassins, and the truth behind who Bitterblue really is and what she had to do for her kingdom.

I enjoyed this sequel to Graceling. I had wondered about Bitterblue and how she was going to handle becoming the queen of Monsea. And this book explores that and more. Katsa and Po have roles in this though Katsa only makes a few appearance while Po is in the book the majority of the time with a much smaller role that in Graceling.

Bitterblue was basically the story of a kingdom unable to come to terms with the terror and atrocities that took place during Leck's rule. Some wanted to talk about it. Others were unable to deal with it and wanted to hush up the "truthseekers" fearing blame and recriminations from them. Bitterblue is confused and sort of straddles the line between the two. She wants to remember but remembering hurts and no one really knows why Leck did what he did. There is, of course, more to the book than that. Bitterblue finds and loses love, her advisers are deeply traumatized and she doesn't know what to do with them, there are conspiracies in every kingdom and the Council makes many an appearance. And there is an awesome librarian named Death.

(SPOILERS) I had assumed (rightly so it turned out) that the events in Fire would be tied into Bitterblue somehow and they were to a degree. I wish there'd been more with Fire instead of a few chapters if that. I don't know what I wanted but I wish she'd been a little more involved.


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Explosive Eighteen by Janet Evanovich (audio)

Stephanie Plum returns from a trip to Hawaii to find that once again people are after her. This time they are after a photo that they think was given to Stephanie aboard the plane. But Stephanie doesn't have it. So not only does she have to deal with a pair of inept thugs but she has a crazy assassin and a ditzy hairdresser after the photograph and none of them will believe that she is not in possession of the picture. On top of that Stephanie has problems with a purse snatcher stealing her car and tracking down her old nemesis, Joyce Barnhardt, who is a person of interest in a murder investigation and who has skipped out on her bond. It's just a typical adventure for Stephanie Plum.

The mystery of who Stephanie takes to Hawaii at the conclusion of Smokin' Seventeen is solved. Unfortunately it ended badly and Stephanie doesn't want to talk about it until halfway through the book. So in addition to waiting on that mystery to be solved plus the other standard ones that come with the book and Stephanie's inability to still catch a skip, it made for a good if maddening book. Seriously why can't Stephanie just catch someone easily for once? It borders on stupidity at this point. But I guess if she were a adapt bounty hunter the books wouldn't be as funny. I still like reading them but I really wish she'd pick a man and either get a new job or learn how to do this one better. It was still a funny book though the subplot with Joyce Barnhardt was wrapped up pretty neatly and quickly after spending a lot of time on it as was the main plot come to think of it.

Read by Lorelei King

Stephanie Plum series
          Twelve Sharp
          Lean Mean Thirteen
          Fearless Fourteen
          Finger Lickin' Fifteen
          Sizzling Sixteen 
          Smokin' Seventeen 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Wicked Business by Janet Evanovich

All Lizzy wants to do is lead a normal life baking delicious cupcakes. But her dreams are interrupted by Diesel who informs her that she has a special gift of sensing magical energy trapped in objects. Now the two of them are after  seven powerful stones each imbued with the essence of a deadly sin. This time it is the Luxuria Stone also known as the lust stone. Between Diesel's evil cousin Wulf and a crazy lady calling herself Anarchy, Diesel and Lizzy are going to have a hell of a time retrieving it. 

I am enjoying this series. I think Lizzy and Diesel make a good team and their adventures are pretty funny. I love how all these weird things happen and Lizzy just takes it in stride, for the most part. The scavenger hunt they go on to find the Luxuria Stone is pretty interesting and takes up most of the book. I really wanted there to be more when they did find the stone but it was still a good book. The addition of Anarchy is interesting and she makes for a better villain than Wulf because she is just crazy. Sometimes I get a little tired of Janet Evanovich's penance for ending a book on a cliffhanger or in the middle of interesting scene and that is what happened here. But I will definitely continue to read this series.

Second in the Lizzy and Diesel series
#1 Wicked Appetite

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

So I had a baby...

Just a quick update: I had a baby about two weeks ago. She is a wonderful baby, so sweet and very content. I just wanted to let ya'll know that I'm still around even if I never comment or post anymore. I just have something new and beautiful to take care of right now.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


Lately my heart has gone out of blogging. I don't know if it is the pregnancy occupying my mind or the fact that I've been busier both at work and at home or a little bit of both. But book reviewing is feeling more and more like a chore than something fun.  I started this blog so I could write down my thoughts on the books I've read, but along the way I got really involved with the whole world that can go along with book blog. And I loved making the new friends I've made and reading their blogs and generally becoming more involved in this whole aspect of the book world I didn't know about until I become a blogger. 

But life moves on and my family is expanding and I've taken on much more responsibility in the real world, so much that the blogging world has been pushed to the side. I feel like that isn't fair to my blog and to the readers I have left. In 2011 the amount of reviews I've published has diminished quite a bit and I really began to drop out of blogging months ago. But now I've finally decided to just go on hiatus and read a book that doesn't have to be reviewed. Is this permanent? I don't know. I really enjoyed blogging when I was into it. So maybe I'll be back. I'd like to be back. And I have a feeling I'll be posting reviews now and then. It's hard to stop someone who loves books as much as I do from talking about them. I just don't want to feel obligated. So I'll see ya'll around. Thanks for reading and I've enjoyed becoming blogging friends with you. Catch ya later.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

2011 Yearly Wrap-Up

I've had a good year over here.  I've read 79 books, listened to 30 audio books (290 hours).  I joined 13 challenges and finished 11 of them, abandoning 2 and 1 incomplete.

I read some really great new books this year and had fun reading some fun old series like the Betsy-Tacy books. I discovered some awesome new series like the Bloody Jack series. It was a good reading year for me.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2012 Audio Book Reviews

1.  Explosive Eighteen by Janet Evanovich (Stephanie Plum #18) read by Lorelei King
2. The Hidden Gallery (The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place #2) by Maryrose Wood, ready by Katherine Kellgren
3. The Last Guardian (Artemis Fowl #8) by Eoin Colfer, read by Nathaniel Parker
4. Beauty Queens by Libba Bray, read by the author

#Note: I listened to a lot more books than this. This are just the ones I reviewed this year.

2012 Reviews by Title




Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

Bitterblue by Kristen Cashore




Explosive Eighteen by Janet Evanovich




The Hidden Gallery by Maryrose Wood




Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross


The Last Guardian by Eoin Colfer


Messy by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan



On the Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman





The Snow Queen's Shadow by Jim C. Hines
Someday by Alison McGhee and  Peter H. Reynolds



Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan



Wicked Business by Janet Evanovich