Friday, December 23, 2011

Crater Lake: Battle for Wizard Island by Steve Westover

Goodreads Description:  While visiting his crazy Uncle Bart at Crater Lake National Park, thirteen-year-old Ethan's world collapses when all the adults at Crater Lake disappear, including his parents. Now Ethan must rally his new friends and decipher the legends of Crater Lake to find the key to rescuing his parents from their earthen prison before he's captured too and their captivity becomes permanent.

My thoughts:  I really enjoyed this book!  I love books that are descriptive enough that you feel like you are actually in the book, that you can visualize everything that the characters are going through.

The story follows 5 youth, as they race against time to uncover the mysteries involving Crater Lake.  Everyone 16 and over has been swallowed up in the earth, and it's up to this unlikely group to save them.  I loved the typical sibling relationship between Ethan and Jordan, and loved the interaction between Allie and Ethan.  Jacob and Brady were awesome too, and so opposite, but they were able to work well together.

I loved all of the legend and mystery surrounding Crater Lake, and I'll bet that Ethan wished he had listened more to his "crazy" Uncle Bart.  Che-Tan always had me wondering, and Chief Llao was such a good, bad guy *shivers*.

What would you do to save those that you loved?

Received this book from Netgalley.  It is scheduled to be released in March 2012 by Cedar Fort Publishing.

Friday, December 16, 2011

If I have a Wicked Stepmother, Where's my Prince by Melissa Kantor

If I Have a Wicked Stepmother, Where's My Prince?

Goodreads Description: 
Wicked stepmother? Check. Evil stepsisters? Check. Miserable life? Check.

Lucy Norton’s life has all the makings of a Cinderella story. Her dad’s always away on business, leaving Lucy with her cruel stepmother and bratty stepsisters. She’s burdened with chores, and has a hard time fitting in at her new school. So when she sees Connor Pearson, the star player on the varsity basketball team, Lucy hopes her destiny has finally changed. With everything else going on in her life, doesn’t she at least deserve to get the handsome prince?

Melissa Kantor’s enchanting novel proves that sometimes the happy ending isn’t quite the one you’d expect. Lucy’s about to discover the truth about finding her real Prince Charming… and finding herself.

My thoughts:  This was a cute story.  Lucy's dad remarried, and then moved her across the country to live with her new stepmom and stepsisters.  Her father didn't die, but he kept his job where they used to live, so he was only with them on the weekends.  When he was home on the weekends, of course he wanted to spend time with his new wife.  Lucy's stepmom decorated the whole house except for Lucy's basement bedroom.  She only had an air mattress to sleep on, but she didn't have a closet or anywhere store her clothes.  Of course, her younger twin stepsisters had everything they wanted.

Lucy didn't have any friends at her new school, but luckily she was really into art, so she did have somewhere to escape to.  She also is very much into basketball, and when she accidently shows her knowledge and enthusiasm for the game, she catches the interest of one of the star High School basketball players.  She then finds herself part of the in-crowd at school.

I did enjoy the book.  It amused me that through most of the book, Lucy felt like she was living in the fairy tale.  I did expect, though, that her new friendship with the popular girls was going to turn out to be some type of a joke or a dare.  I loved the realizations that Lucy had towards the end of the story.

I did not like all the teenage drinking (which was heavy), and the language.  All in all, a pretty good book.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Fractured Light by Rachel McClellan

Fractured Light

Goodreads Description:  I’m dying, I thought. This was unexpected and not at all how I envisioned my death. I was supposed to die gardening in a flowerbed as a hundred-year-old woman, not as a seventeen-year-old trapped in a lake beneath inches of ice.

Llona Reese is used to living on the run. After the Vykens killed her parents, she knew they would eventually come for her too. She can’t take any chances. But when she starts to make friends for the first time in her life, she gets careless and lets her guard down. Big mistake.

As an Aura, Llona can manipulate light and harness its energy. But if she wants to survive, Llona will have to defy the Auran Council and learn to use her power as a weapon against the Vyken whose sole desire is to take her light. Now she’s caught in something even bigger than she can understand, with a power she can’t wield, and no one she can trust, except, just maybe, a mysterious stranger.

In this breathtaking and romantic adventure, Rachel McClellan delivers a truly mesmerizing story that will keep you guessing to the very end.

My thoughts:  I really liked this book!  Llona is a really strong girl, with really strong powers.  I felt bad for Llona, just for the fact that she didn't have her mother there (who was also an Aura) to teach her all about her great power and how to use it.

She is being raised by her uncle, who is a great guy, but the first part of the story, he is in a great depression following the death of Llona's father (who was his brother).  I liked when her uncle comes to his senses and starts being involved in her life.  But, even he can't help her with her powers, or her role as an Aura.

The Vykens are major bad guys, and I figured out pretty early in the story who the Vyken was.  That being said, there were still so many people in the book that raised suspicion, and I didn't know who exactly Llona should trust.

I really loved the relationship between Llona and Christian.  There was a lot of conflict there, but towards the end of the story I was able to understand why.

Oh, can I say that I loved May?

Looking forward to reading the next book in the series to see what is coming next!

Received this ebook from NetGalley for review.

Enduring Light by Carly Kelly

Enduring Light

Goodreads Description:  She leaned toward him and rested her elbows on the brass rail at the foot of her bed. “All right, cowboy, just when did you fall in love with me? I’m definitely curious now.”
He regarded her in the moonlight. “I knew I was a no-hoping goner when I caught that ridiculous hat of yours on the platform at Gun Barrel.”

 Julia sucked in her breath. She tried to be severe. “Mr. Otto, nobody falls in love that fast!”
“I did,” he said simply, as he left her room.

Julia Darling is finally able to marry Paul Otto for eternity. But it’s a harsh world for a rancher in turn-of-the-century Wyoming, especially a Mormon rancher. When alienation and threats begin, Julia must prove she’s her husband’s equal in strength and endurance as she learns to let go of scars on the outside and inside.

Bestselling author Carla Kelly has woven a new story of a determined rancher, his wife, and how they discover the depths of love.

My thoughts:  Wow, there were so many things that I loved about this book!  I really loved Paul and Julia, and their relationship!  I always chuckled at their pet names, as my hubby and I still have little names that we call each other even after 25+ years.

The differences in the world's that they lived in were enormous - Julia was from "civilized" Salt Lake City, and Paul from wild Wyoming.  Even though the differences were there, it was great to see how Julia was able to adapt to her new circumstances of wife of a cattle rancher.

Julia was an amazing character!  Her love for her husband, and her faith, helped her so many times!  One of my favorite parts of the book was the cattle drive that Julia was able to go on.  Her adventures with cooking with Cookie were great, except for the "Rocky Mountain Oysters" and sonofagun stew...  yuckyuckyuck.

I haven't read the first book of this series, but now will have to.  I want to see how this great love story started!

Received this ebook for review from NetGalley.

Twilight's Last Gleaming by Laurie L.C. Lewis

Twilight's Last Gleaming (Free Men and Dreamers, #2)

Goodreads Description:  While cannons roar and rockets ignite American skies, disease ravages the upper Connecticut Valley. Few notice the sufferings of the families . . . Of a single child . . . A remarkable lad named Joseph. Attentions are forced elsewhere on the Chesapeake, which guards the entrance to the infant nation's threatened capital. It is the height of the War of 1812. As the beleaguered American forces begin to rally, Britain's military is divided between battlefronts on two continents. Until Napoleaon can be toppled and all of the crow's resources can be diverted to the American campaign, Britain needs a tactical diversion. They attack the Chesapeake Bay! Lieutenant Jed Pearson heads to war, leaving his beloved Willows estate in the care of powerless freed slaves. But soon circumstances will blur the line between adversary and friend, family and foe, British and American. In this second volume of the epic historical series Free Men and Dreamers, witness the saga of five families caught in the tumult of the oft-forgotten war that cemented American Liberty and set the stage for the great work of the Restoration.

My Thoughts:  What a great 2nd book of an amazing series!  Most of the books that I have been reading this year have been YA paranormal/fantasy/dystopian, so this series is definitely out of my preferred genre comfort zone.  Having said that, I love these books!

The characters in these books are so well-thought out and wonderful (hello Jed and Hannah!) that you just get caught up in their story and sometimes forget that the things that they are going through are actual events in our country's history.

I just can't imagine what it would have been like, living back in the infancy of this great nation, but Laurie's writing really makes it come alive.  Would I have had the courage to deal with the slave issue, just as Jed did?

These books have been so well-researched and thought out!  Thank you Laurie, for bringing this pivotal time in our nation's history alive!  I love this quote that is on the back of a postcard that came with this book, "The Founding Fathers' vision of "One Nation Under God" was not left to chance.  But what if yours was the generation tasked with forging that nation?  And forced to defend her once again..."

Laurie was in town a couple of weeks ago, at our local Deseret Bookstore.  I had to stop by and meet her!  I bought this book there and had her sign it for me.  It was nice to have a few minutes to be able to chat with her.  What a neat lady, and what wonderful books!  Thanks again, Laurie!

Monday, December 5, 2011

No Holly For Christmas by Julie N. Ford

No Holly For Christmas

Goodreads Description:  As Brian McAlister struggles to move past being jilted not once, but twice by the only woman he's ever loved, he's all but given up on relationships. Then, on special assignment for the DA's office, he crosses paths with ex-socialite turned social worker, Holly Cavanaugh Winter-and romance blossoms.

Widowed, practically penniless, and reduced to shopping at WalMart, Holly is dreading the approaching Holiday Season. However, her angst isn't due to her husband's untimely death the previous December 25th, but because of a secret that could reveal itself unless she can find a way to avoid the coming Christmas.

Love at first sight quickly turns frigid for Brian and Holly when Holly gets pulled into a manhunt for an accused murderer who now has his sights set on her. His case unraveling, Brian finds himself tasked with keeping Holly and her two daughters safe while bringing an assassin and the powerful man who hired him to justice.

My thoughts:  This was a pretty good book.  I enjoyed watching how Holly and Briand were able to evolve and get past hard things that had happened in their past.  There was also a lot of suspense in this book.

Negatives:  There was a lot of language and some sexual situations in the book.  There was also an attempted rape scene that was a little rough.

Received this book for review.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Variant by Robison Wells

Variant (Variant, #1)

Goodreads Description: 
Benson Fisher thought that a scholarship to Maxfield Academy would be the ticket out of his dead-end life.
He was wrong.
Now he’s trapped in a school that’s surrounded by a razor-wire fence. A school where video cameras monitor his every move. Where there are no adults. Where the kids have split into groups in order to survive.
Where breaking the rules equals death.
But when Benson stumbles upon the school’s real secret, he realizes that playing by the rules could spell a fate worse than death, and that escape—his only real hope for survival—may be impossible.

My thoughts:  This was a good book.  It was very suspenseful, and had a great twist that I didn't even see coming!  The characters were written really well, and I didn't know, from the beginning, who to trust!

Meerkat Wars by H.S. Toshack

The Meerkat Wars
Goodreads Description:  It s all very well helping a young meerkat who s been poisoned by a scorpion. But when you've made friends with the whole Duwara tribe of meerkats, and you discover that they're at war with the Utongo, you may find yourself involved in that too, even if you re only a little black-and-white cat. And when you realise that the two tribes are fighting because each one believes it lives under The One True Sun, then you may have to undertake a very dangerous journey to help them see things differently. You may have to go through The Gorge.

My thoughts:  I really loved this book!  But then, I really love the Redwall series too!  This was such a good story.  It was about Sheena, a common housecat, that gets lost in the middle of the African wild.

She meets up with, and starts living with a tribe of meerkats.  It's amazing the adventures that Sheena finds herself in, and the plans that she comes up with.  Yikes, scorpions and flesh-eating ants?!!  I loved the personalities of all the animals, especially Sheena, Spickle - the baby porcupine, and Pebble - the Meerkat. 

A wonderful middle-grade book!

Geek Girl by Cindy C. Bennett

Geek Girl

Goodreads Description:  Jen's life of partying and sneaking out has grown stale. So on a whim, Jen makes a bet to turn Trevor, a goody-two-shoes geek, into a "bad boy." As she hangs out with Trevor, however, she finds it's actually kinda fun being a geek. But when Trevor finds out about the bet, Jen must fight for the things she's discovered matter most: friendship, family, and, above all, love.

My thoughts:  What a great book!  I just couldn't stop reading it!  As much as I didn't want to, I really liked Jen!  You just can't help but really be able to see beneath her tough, Goth exterior.  It's so fun to watch all the characters, and how they interact with each other.  It's sad seeing how some people reacted to Jen and her friends, and really made me think about how I treat others that are different than me.  Oh, and can I say that I fell in love with Trev too?  :o)

This book made me laugh, it made me cry, and it made me say "Awwwww"!