Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Book Review: The Chapel Wars, by Lindsey Leavitt

The Chapel Wars is a cute, romantic contemporary that will warm your heart.

I enjoyed the unique background for this romance. The two main characters are from families that own Las Vegas wedding chapels. And they are right next to each other, and the families are feuding.

The owner of The Rose of Sharon Wedding Chapel is Holly's grandfather. At the beginning of the story, he has just died, and surprisingly has left the chapel to Holly to "save." You see, The Rose of Sharon is about to go bankrupt. So 16-year-old Holly puts everything she has into saving the chapel, with the help of her parents, her brother, and friends.

Holly's grandfather also left her a letter to give to Dax. It turns out Dax is the grandson of the owner of the competing wedding chapel.  They slowly get to know each other and begin a romantic relationship behind the backs of their families.

The Chapel Wars is cute. It has some predictable parts, but it's easy to read, and the plot keeps moving. I was intrigued by the business aspects of running a wedding chapel. Something I really hadn't even thought about before.

The Chapel Wars is an entertaining contemporary romance that I'm sure will be very popular among my teen girls.

Published by Bloomsbury USA, May 6, 2014
eBook obtained from NetGalley
304 pages

Rating: 4/5

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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Book Review: Savage Drift (Monument 14) by Emmy Laybourne @EmmyLaybourne

Savage Drift, the third book in the Monument 14 series, brings us right back to all the danger of the first two books.

(spoilers from Monument 14 and Sky on Fire are inevitable, so be warned.)

The feeling of safety in the refugee camp in Canada at the end of Sky on Fire doesn't last long in Savage Drift. We find out in the first few pages that Josie is alive and is being held in Missouri at a camp for Type Os. They are not being treated well, so Niko is determined to leave immediately to save her. We get a dual narration, by Dean and Josie, and Josie's story about life at Mizzou, is truly harrowing.

Astrid is frightened because pregnant women are disappearing from the camp. She is having cramping, but refuses to go to the clinic because she is afraid she will be taken away by the military for medical experimentation. Dean can't believe this, and finally convinces her to go, only to find out Astid was not at all incorrect.

With the help of a lot of people, a group of them are on the run across country again. Jake, Astrid, and Dean trying desperately to get to Niko's uncle's farm in Pennsylvania, and Niko heading for Missouri. The route, as to be expected, is circuitous.The excitement never lets up. There are rumors of "drifts" -- clouds of chemicals that drift through the air causing the same symptoms that we learned about in Monument 14. While the travelers don't want to believe this, it turns out these drifts will add to the danger and excitement.

They do get a lot of help, and they do meet many severe challenges. The resolutions sometime seemed a bit contrived; every time there seems to be no hope, something extraordinary happens to save the day. But I'm still glad that the ending made me feel good.

Savage Drift is a great survival story about teens that just refuse to give up no matter what. I really became attached to the characters and pulled for them. Even some of the new characters quickly became important to me. The brisk pace won't let you stop turning the pages.

If you've read the first two books, you must not miss Savage Drift. If you haven't started the Monument 14 series, it is definitely worth your time. These are great survival stories to recommend to reluctant readers, and they will appeal to both boys and girls.

Published by Feiwel & Friends, May 6, 2014
ARC obtained from Around the World ARC Tours
306 pages (Qualifies for my Books You Can Read in a Day Challenge!)

Rating: 4/5

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Monday, April 28, 2014

Book Review: After the End, by Amy Plum

I really enjoyed the story and the characters in After the End until I got to the end, and then I got angry.

Juneau grew up in a small, primitive village in Alaska believing that she was part of the only group of survivors of WWIII.  When her entire village is kidnapped by bad guys, Juneau sets out to find them. What she finds out is that she has been lied to her entire life.  She arrives in civilization and realizes that the entire world has gone on without her village. People are happy, normal, and living with technology that Juneau could never dream of.

While it is important to her to find her father, her mentor, and the entire village, she also wants to find out why she has been lied to. She ends up traveling with Miles, who happens to be the son of a powerful head of a pharmaceutical company. Miles' father is looking for Juneau, and Miles doesn't know why.

It's a complex and entertaining plot, as the reader figures out things along with Juneau and Miles. I did think she adapted very quickly to this new, modern life, but she's intelligent and spent most of her time reading old newspapers in the library to catch up, so it is somewhat explained.

There's also a paranormal aspect that is interesting. Juneau has powers that she believes come from her connection to nature -- but do they?

There is always something happening and the plot moves quickly. I never lost interest and couldn't wait to see how this all worked out. doesn't work out. After the End isn't a book -- it's 1/3 of a book. I don't mind cliffhangers -- the kind that keep you wondering what the next story is going to be -- but -- I cannot forgive authors that leave NOTHING resolved. The story just ends and nothing is resolved. Not any part of the plot has been resolved. Let me repeat -- NOTHING. This is unforgivable. I feel like the author copped out and went for the money.

So, I really enjoyed this story, but I will only recommend you read this when the next book (or books) comes out. Shame on you, Amy Plum.

Published by HarperTeen, May 6, 2014
eARC obtained from Edelweiss
336 pages

Rating: 3/5

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Saturday, April 26, 2014

Stacking the Shelves -- Some New Titles!

Time to show off what we got this week. Mine are all eBooks, but that's fine with me!

For Review:
I have no idea what this is about, but A. S. King is my favorite, so it doesn't even matter.

The Walled City, by Ryan Graudin from Edelweiss

Diamond Boy, by Michael Williams from Edelweiss

World After, by Susan Ee, ebook, purchased

So, that's my haul for the week. How about you? Leave me a link so I can add to my wish list.  Be sure to visit Team Tynga's Reviews, the hosts of our event!

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Friday, April 25, 2014

Feature & Follow Friday - Mollie the Wonder Dog!

Alison Can Read Feature & Follow

Happy Friday! This week's question for the hop is:

Have any pets? Tell us or show us.

Well, that's an easy one for me. Mollie is part of our family. She's a great dog, and loves to run and play with all the visitors to our family's apple orchard.

Can't wait to see your cuties. Thanks for stopping by, and be sure to visit our hosts, Parajunkee & Alison. Leave me a link!

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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Book Review: A Time to Dance, by Padma Venkatraman

A Time to Dance would interest readers who want to know more about India and dance, in particular.

Veda wants nothing more than to perfect her dance technique and become a famous dancer. She dances an ancient Indian dance form called bharatanatyam. She wins a prestigious competition and she is on her way--until she is in an accident and loses her leg below the knee.

The rest of the story is Veda learning to live her new life and realizing that she can still dance, even with a prosthetic leg. Romance is also part of the story, as well as family relationships.

A Time to Dance is a good, heartwarming story about a young girl overcoming obstacles with much courage. Not a lot happens plot-wise, and there isn't much that's unpredictable. However, I enjoyed the story and wanted Veda to succeed and be happy.

A Time to Dance is written in verse, but reads very much like prose, so don't let that keep you away. Actually, this would be a good "first book" if you've not experienced this type of fiction written in verse.

Published by Nancy Paulsen Books, May 1, 2014
ARC obtained from Library Media Connection Magazine
307 pages (Qualifies for my Books You Can Read in a Day Challenge!)

Rating: 3/5

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Book Review: The Taking, by Kimberly Derting

For a book that's supposed to be about alien abductions, The Taking screams, "romance!"

Kyra is 16 when she wakes up behind a quick shop and the last thing she remembers is being outside a car with her dad and seeing a bright flash of light. Kyra walks home, and soon realizes that things have changed a lot. Her mom and dad are divorced, her mom is remarried, and she has a new brother. Her boyfriend is now dating her best friend. She comes to realize that five years have passed since she disappeared.

Here's my problem. Kyra, YOU HAVE BEEN GONE FOR FIVE YEARS!!. This doesn't seem to phase Kyra very much, other than calling her new little brother "my brother" (yes, in quotes) instead of using his name. Kyra is a snot, but I forgive her for that. But what I don't forgive her for is OBSESSING about Tyler, the boy next door, and also the brother of her boyfriend from five years ago.

Awful things happen. She finds out the man who drew her blood at the hospital (a very strange blood draw, to begin with) has died. Doesn't phase Kyra..."Where's Tyler? When will Tyler be home?" Kyra has the same bruises and callouses and finds out her teeth are exactly the same as five years ago. Again, doesn't phase her, it's all about Tyler.

Her mother is panicked and wants her to stay close (of course, after thinking she was dead for five years.) Does Kyra care? No. Let's sneak over to Tyler's house. Her dad has gone off the deep end, trying to prove that Kyra was abducted by aliens -- she rejects him. When strange government officials start asking her questions, does she turn to her parents? Nope. Tyler.

Another little niggly thing. Kyra is gone for five years. She even states she had a Motorola Razr phone (that was still charged when she returned after five years.) She gets a new phone and is totally comfortable with the new smart phone technology. None of the technological changes that happened in five years was ever mentioned. iPads? eReaders? Like I said, niggly, but I thought it would have added a lot if Kyra had been "amazed" by some of the new stuff that is now available. I guess what I'm saying is that some details would have helped me believe the story. Kyra's reactions to the whole scenario were entirely "off."

The Taking got interesting after Kyra (and of course, Tyler) are on the run. She finally focuses on figuring out what happened. But by then I was so disgusted with her, I just wanted it to be over. And, even though I finished The Taking, it's not really over. This is the first book in a series, so we are left with a pretty big cliff hanger. I don't think I can stand the romance, so I probably won't continue the series.

Published by HarperTeen, April 29, 2014
eARC obtained from Edelweiss
368 pages

Rating: 2.5/5

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Audio Book Review: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, by Stieg Larsson

Stieg Larsson tells very intricate stories, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest is no exception. As the third book in the Millennium Trilogy, I found it the most detailed, and although I enjoyed it, it was my least favorite of the series.

Lisbeth Salander spends most of the book in the hospital. She's been found shot three times and almost dies. She's also been accused of attempted murder, among other things, and will be put in prison as soon as she is released.

One of my favorite things about the Millennium Trilogy are the interactions between Salander and Mikael Blomkvist. In this book they don't even see each other. Although Mikael helps her from afar, they are never together, and I really missed that.

There are many, many (many) characters and side stories in The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. It was difficult to follow, especially at the beginning, and I think the audio format didn't help. I couldn't flip back pages and remind myself who the characters were. But really, the way Larsson writes, those details aren't important to the overall arc of the story, and if you keep on, eventually it all comes together and makes sense.

Larsson also does a good job of reminding us of what happened in the first two books. As the crimes are being investigated, different parts of Lisbeth's past are retold -- sometimes to excess. It just makes the book even longer and more detailed.

The way Mikael and Lisbeth, each in their own way, go about figuring out all the intricacies of the case is the most interesting part of The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. From Lisbeth's hacking everyone's computers to Mikael's eluding the bad guys, it's one narrow escape after the other!

I'm sure Larsson intended to write more books in this series, and it is unfortunate that we will never know what happened to these characters. There is definitely potential for more adventures. The narrator, Simon Vance, does a great job, but I think I'd recommend the book for this one, because of the number of characters and complexity of the plot.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest is long and tedious, but certainly interesting.  I'd highly recommend the book to those who have read the first two, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played With Fire.

Published by Knopf, 2010 (Random House Audio)
Audio Book obtained from the library
576 pages

Rating: 3.5/5

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Monday, April 21, 2014

Book Review: The Silence of Murder, by Dandi Daley Mackall

I'm always looking for good murder mysteries for my teens, and The Silence of Murder is one I'll be happy to recommend.

Jeremy has been accused of murdering his coach and mentor. Jeremy is 18 years old, and hasn't spoken since he was about nine years old. The story is told by his younger sister, Hope, who is the only one who believes that Jeremy is innocent. The attorney is going for the insanity defense, but although Jeremy has a disease somewhere on the autistic spectrum, Hope knows he isn't insane.

Hope sets out to find "reasonable doubt" so that Jeremy will not be convicted. She is assisted by her best friend, T.J, and a new friend, Chase, who happens to be the sheriff's son. And Hope has a huge crush on him. As Chase and Hope's relationship develops into more than friendship, T.J. becomes jealous.

Hope is desperate, but she really does some stupid things in her search for the real killer. Some of the things she finds SURELY would have been found by any police investigation, no matter how inept. However, there is more to the story than just the murder. Hope's mother is an alcoholic, and there are some family secrets to be revealed that will change Hope's life forever.

I found the story to move a bit slowly at times. I had a couple of suspects from the beginning, and one of them turned out to be the culprit. But, I still wouldn't call The Silence of Murder predictable. I LOVED the ending. I loved the process that was used to find the real killer.

The Silence of Murder is a pretty short book, so the slow parts didn't bog the book down too much. I think everyone will be surprised, maybe not by WHO the killer is, but by HOW the discovery is made. It's a great story about family and love and being determined to find the truth. This book won the Edgar Award and will be enjoyed by both boys and girls.

Published by Ember, 2011
Copy obtained from the library
323 pages

Rating: 3.5/5

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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Stacking the Shelves - One More!

Welcome to Stacking the Shelves hosted by Team Tynga's Reviews. Here's what I grabbed this week:

For Review:

The Chapel Wars, by Lindsey Leavitt from NetGalley

So how about you? What's new on your shelves? Leave me a link so I can add to mine. Thanks for stopping by!

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