Monday, March 31, 2014

Review- Sherlock, Lupin and Me by Irene Adler

Sherlock, Lupin and Me- The Dark Lady by Irene Adler
Available Now
Publisher- Capstone Young Readers
Hardcover 238 pages
MG Historical Fiction/Mystery

To Buy Links-  Amazon/ Kindle/ Barnes and Noble/ Book Depository/ Indiebound

Goodreads-  While on summer vacation, little Irene Adler meets a young William Sherlock Holmes. The two share stories of pirates and have battles of wit while running wild on the sunny streets and rooftops. When Sherlock’s friend, Lupin, joins in on the fun, they all become fast friends. But the good times end abruptly when a dead body floats ashore on the nearby beach. The young detective trio will have to put all three of their heads together to solve this mystery.


Review

So, loving all things Sherlock, I couldn't pass up a chance to read another entry into the growing number of  books that include his character. I loved that this one also included Irene Adler and his brother Mycroft. If you watch Sherlock on the BBC, you'll understand why. 

Irene Adler is exactly what you would expect from a young Irene. She demands to be an equal with Lupin and Sherlock and gets her way. Lupin is the son of an eccentric circus performer and by extension, he's a bit eccentric himself. And then there is the young Sherlock, yes, showing all the signs of Sherlock, nose in a book, cryptic mumblings and unusual but highly effective escape plans. The three spend a very eventful couple of weeks trying to solve the murder of a man that washed up on the beach as they were exploring an abandoned manor house.

What I loved about this novel was that it was a perfect mystery for young readers. I had no idea who did it. None whatsoever. Typical Sherlock. I enjoyed the trouble they got into and how they got out of it. I had to follow the clues right along with this threesome to find out who, if someone did it. The original findings were suicide. Now, I want to assure that with all this talk of suicide and murder this is not a dark novel. It is very light. There is just a mention that the dead man died from suicide. That's it. And Sherlock and company don't believe it because they find the body first and investigate it. What they find makes them want to investigate further. And the one clue that breaks the case is one that you would never guess, ever!

It's an easy read for chapter readers. The chapters are short with large typeface and the page before has a picture on it. I recommend it for any reader that enjoys mysteries and Sherlock. It's a fun, quick read, the first in a series that I will continue to read.

I received a copy of this novel from the publisher for review. This did not influence my opinion at all. 
Thanks to the publisher Capstone Young Readers and Casey at Media Masters Publicity for connecting me with this novel.



Friday, March 28, 2014

Review- The Tyrant's Daughter by J. C. Carleson

The Tyrant's Daughter- A Novel by J. C. Carleson
Available Now
Knopf Books for Young Readers
Hardcover 304 pages

To Buy Links-
Amazon/ Kindle/ Audio CD/ Audible/ Barnes and Noble/ Book Depository/ Indiebound/ Kobo

From Goodreads-   From a former CIA officer comes the riveting account of a royal Middle Eastern family exiled to the American suburbs

When her father is killed in a coup, 15-year-old Laila flees from the war-torn middle east to a life of exile and anonymity in the U.S. Gradually she adjusts to a new school, new friends, and a new culture, but while Laila sees opportunity in her new life, her mother is focused on the past. She’s conspiring with CIA operatives and rebel factions to regain the throne their family lost. Laila can’t bear to stand still as an international crisis takes shape around her, but how can one girl stop a conflict that spans generations? 

J.C. Carleson delivers a fascinating account of a girl—and a country—on the brink, and a rare glimpse at the personal side of international politics. 

*Bonus Backmatter includes a note about the author's CIA past, and a commentary by RAND researcher and president of ARCH International, Dr. Cheryl Benard. Recommendations for further reading are also included. 


I am having a hard time reviewing this novel. It's an interesting story of a teenage girl, her mother and her young brother having just fled their Middle Eastern country. The father was assassinated in front of them by a man hired by the girl's uncle. My problem in reviewing it is that some of it really rings true and is very believable, but some of it is not. Really not believable.

Laila is in a daze when they hit the suburbs of Washington DC. Her father is dead, her mother is still calling her brother a king and she has to start school. There is no food in the house except boxes of cereal and they have to go to school. Enter Emmy, her appointed guide for all things school, American teenager and also the lowdown on what the rest of the world knows about Laila's father and country. From Emmy and later the internet, Laila learns that her father was actually not royal, just a leader who lead with military might, a legacy passed down through generations in her family. The ugly word "Dictator" is thrown around and Laila is shaken to the core, defending her father, yet wondering if maybe she didn't really know him at all.  

Emmy is well meaning. She isn't trying to hurt Laila, she just doesn't realize how sheltered Laila is. And she is very sheltered. When she first meets Emmy in her short skirt and tank top, Laila thinks, "whore". Though she wasn't raised in a particularly religious home, she is still modest, and prefers the clothes that drape and conceal, just hinting at what's underneath rather than all the skin that the girls in America show. I could understand her being shocked by the clothing, but thinking "whore" when she hadn't been raised in a religious home didn't seem to fit. It doesn't say in the book what she wears to school only that her shoes are the same she wore when she fleeing her country.  So, she's in school it's football season because she and Emmy go to games, and then there is a dance. Not homecoming. It's the dance before homecoming so she hasn't been there that long. And what does she wear? A short, satiny dress, cheap earrings, and makeup. And then bumps and grinds with a guy she doesn't know at all. I just don't believe she would turn her back on her culture like that so quickly. There are many immigrants here from all over the world that don't turn their back on their culture after years of living here. And she was just weeks into her stay.

Then there is her mother. She acts like she is holding court, brokering deals with former enemies. I can't believe that a woman holds any kind of power in the political workings of a country run by a dictator. Laila says her father always used her mother behind the scenes to make the deals, but now that her father is gone, I would think her influence would be gone as well. The uncle in power now is a fanatic. He thinks women should not be seen much and definitely not heard. But every time Laila's mother has a meeting with their so called enemies, people that would have been enemies in their old country, the pantry is full and their is money in the house.

Laila pushes all the boundaries when it comes to being an American teenager. I won't go into more detail, you can read it yourself. But what is believable are the flashbacks she has of life in the palace. The meetings of the women and girls where they sat and talked for hours and drank tea and ate sweets without any men around. Laila remembers these times fondly, times when she didn't have to worry about boys. She recalls sweet moments between her parents and loving moments with her father. And also terrifying events in the last days leading up to the coup. These things all sounds like they could happen and did happen. 

The country is not named, but I feel sure it is a mixture of countries, one with rich oil deposits and one that our government would take special interest in because of it. So, the special treatment for Laila and her family and the mother working behind the scenes as well.

I do think this novel is a great view into another culture and a good view into what someone from another culture must think of us when they first arrive. Shell shocked and alone. I believed all that. I just didn't believe that Laila would turn her back on her culture so quickly. Or that her mother would have any power in the US with former enemies.

I do think it's worth the read. It has some scenes that are sort of graphic. Otherwise it is fairly clean.
I do recommend it. There is a great article about Benazir Bhutto in the back of the book.

I received a copy of this novel for review from the publisher through NetGalley. I was not compensated for my review.



Wednesday, March 26, 2014

WOW- Waiting on Wednesday-

Waiting on Wednesday

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

I am a huge lover of Jeri Smith-Ready's series The Shade Series which actually had a couple of novellas too. (Broke my heart reading Shattered!!) Anyway, her next foray into YA is a novel called
This Side of Salvation coming out April 1st from Simon Pulse!


Everyone mourns differently. When his older brother was killed, David got angry. As in, fist-meets-someone-else’s-face furious. But his parents? They got religious. David’s still figuring out his relationship with a higher power, but there’s one thing he does know for sure: The closer he gets to new-girl Bailey, the better, brighter, happier, more he feels.

Then his parents start cutting all their worldly ties in to prepare for the Rush, the divine moment when the faithful will be whisked off to Heaven…and they want David to do the same. David’s torn. There’s a big difference between living in the moment and giving up his best friend, varsity baseball, and Bailey—especially Bailey—in hope of salvation.

But when he comes home late from prom, and late for the Rush, to find that his parents have vanished, David is in more trouble than he ever could have imagined...

Interesting and unique issue to explore I think!
Plus I read the first chapter and loved it!!

But I do have another book to share, one that I haven't seen on heard anything about. I am a lover of all things Mer, and this book has it all. I'll let you read the blurb and you can see for yourself.

Deep Blue by Jennifer Donnelly due out May 6th. From Disney!

Okay yes, I was initially drawn to the cover, but then the blurb. I'll let you read it. Oh and there will be four books in this series. Promised to be "epic".


The first in a series of four epic tales set in the depths of the ocean, where six mermaids seek to protect and save their hidden world.

Deep in the ocean, in a world not so different from our own, live the merpeople. Their communities are spread throughout the oceans, seas, and freshwaters all over the globe.

When Serafina, a mermaid of the Mediterranean Sea, awakens on the morning of her betrothal, her biggest worry should be winning the love of handsome Prince Mahdi. And yet Sera finds herself haunted by strange dreams that foretell the return of an ancient evil. Her dark premonitions are confirmed when an assassin's arrow poisons Sera's mother. Now, Serafina must embark on a quest to find the assassin's master and prevent a war between the Mer nations. Led only by her shadowy dreams, Sera searches for five other mermaid heroines who are scattered across the six seas. Together, they will form an unbreakable bond of sisterhood and uncover a conspiracy that threatens their world's very existence.


So with Deep Blue, you have six mermaids, all female (!!!) working together to save their world!! Power to the Mermaids! I cannot tell if their will be any romance, but with six females, it's very likely. Though they will be busy. Still I love that it's all girls and no guys. (What is the female equivalent to guy? Anyone? Anyone? I have never figured it out. We should come up with something.)


So I am dying to know what you have on your reading list on your WOW's this week!! 
Show me!!!

Oh, and for those of you following along, my first class starts next week, computer class to catch me up on all the technology that I do not know how to do. Like Power Point and Excel, basically anything in Microsoft Office. It is a requirement to get into school these days. I saw where my rising senior is going to be taking a similar course next year. Maybe I'll finally be more technology advanced than him!! Nowhere to go but up for me!!

Make it a great WEDNESDAY!!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Review- Pretty Sly by Elisa Ludwig and ARC Giveaway US only

Pretty Sly (Pretty Crooked #2) by Elisa Ludwig
Available Now
Hardback 336 pages
Received ARC from author for review
Purchase Links-
Amazon/ Kindle/ Barnes and Noble/ Book Depository/
Indiebound/ Kobo

Goodreads- Sequel to Pretty Crooked...

Willa Fox was told to stay out of trouble. In fact, it was an order from a very serious juvenile court judge.

However, that was before Willa found her house ransacked and a mysterious email from her mother telling Willa she had to leave Paradise Valley for a while and not to come looking for her. Willa knows her mom’s in danger and that no one at school will miss her after her recent sticky-fingered stunts with the Glitterati. So with the help of her pal Tre and with her degenerate crush Aidan as her wingman, Willa violates her probation and hits the California highway in search of her mom.

But when Willa and Aidan’s journey turns dangerously criminal and they wind up being the focus of a national manhunt, they realize it’s sometimes easier to escape the law than the truth—and that everything Willa thought she knew about her mom, and her life, was wrong.

Pretty Sly is Elisa Ludwig’s fast-paced sequel to Pretty Crooked, the second book in a trilogy that’s pitch-perfect for fans of Ally Carter. With a daring heroine who has one-of-a-kind spunk, a roller-coaster Bonnie and Clyde romance, a thrilling mystery, and a shocking twist ending, this book will have readers rooting for Willa as she makes the wrong choices to do the right thing. Fans will be eagerly awaiting the series conclusion.

Review

I received a copy of this novel for review from the author, so I really wanted to love this novel. And I really tried to love it. I did not love this novel. I did like it. But I wasn't dying to sit down and read it, keep me up late at night, that kind of read. And here is why (I think). The novel jumped all over the place trying to be two different types of novels and it never really married into one novel.  At times Willa was in love with Aiden. Cow eyed, stars in the sky, head over heels in love with Aiden. Yes, it's insta love. But I believe when you're being chased by cops and thieves and the FBI and breaking all kinds of laws that it adds to a heightened sense of feelings. There could be no feelings at all between them when the story is over. There is just this desperation right now that Willa feels and Aiden and her had something kindling before the trouble in this book started. And then, Willa does a 180 and decides she can't trust Aiden because he has these secrets and he won't tell her what they are and she reads his text messages which puts her in a tizzy. Really, if you aren't prepared for what might be in the text message, DON'T READ IT!

I know this isn't my format I usually use but it just doesn't work for this review.

The other novel, in this novel, was the straight up mystery. Now that was a good story. I couldn't imagine why Willa's super protective mother would leave her alone at the age of 15. She was supposed to live with Cherise's family. But Cherise wasn't speaking to Willa. And did she ask Cherise's parents? Who does that?
Apparently Willa's mom. But that is just the tip of the iceberg. Ludwig does a great job of leading Willa and Aiden (sometimes others) on a scavenger hunt for clues as to where to find Willa's mom. All, of course, while evading the police, homeowners who they "borrow" from and a very persistent FBI agent.
Oh and the bad guys. This was the story I loved. The clues, the near misses, the friends that helped at their own peril, the pain and suffering. Yes, Ludwig really abused Willa and Aiden. I could see them in their final destination looking for Willa's mom Joanne. Ludwig does a fine job painting the scenery for us.

And then Willa turns into the girl that can't decide if she's in love with Aiden or not. She becomes this whiny, ungrateful baby. Honestly I thought she was eight instead of fifteen. She became very unlikable at that point, which was almost the end of the story. But as I reflect back, I don't think I ever liked Willa that much. She's like a dog on a bone her focus is so intense trying to find her mother and everyone else's world becomes nonexistent to her. The things she whined about and the reasons she gave for disliking Aiden after liking him for so long, very childish. I realize she's fifteen, but on this adventure she needed to grow up and she didn't. Granted she had some rather shocking blows, but her ungratefulness just really took the cake.

So despite suffering from multiple novel syndrome and unlikable main character, there is some great writing to be found in the novel. There is some light romance. Sometimes it's heavier, but it's always PG.
Some humor. A great mystery and the set up for the last book which will include the final mystery- just who is Willa Fox??

Oh oops, the giveaway! I thought I'd pass my ARC along to anyone that wanted it. Leave me a way to contact you in the comments if you're interested. Leave a meaningful comment and say you want this ARC. Remember leave me a way to find you.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Blog Tour- Zips Goes Wandering by Chris Marsh





Welcome to my tour stop for Zips Goes Wandering by Chris Marsh.  This is a children's rhyming picture book.  This tour is full of reviews & runs March 14-April 2nd. Check out the tour page for the list of tour stops!





Zips Goes Wandering by Chris Marsh

Releases: March 15th, 2014 by BookTrope
Age Recommendation: Preschool through 2nd Grade

This is the first book of the series, Savannah Friends, and tells the story of Zips the Zebra and how, after being told by his mum about the dangers of walking off alone, decides to go on adventure by himself only to end up in trouble!

After getting chased by a hungry lion and crocodile it is down to Zips to find his way back home by asking his friends.

Zipping across the savannah from friend to friend Zips finally manages to find his way home and back to the safety with his mum.

Through rhyming and bright, exciting pictures Zips has proven exciting for many young children and their parents find it a useful tool to teach their kids about the dangers of wandering off alone and what to do if they get lost.




Praise for Zips Goes Wandering:

"Be prepared to fall in love with Zips in the magnificent and rugged African savannah.”—Della Connor, author of The Spirit Warrior series

"Plunge into the unknown with Zips the curious zebra and find a savannah filled with friends." —Jennifer L. Hotes, illustrator of the Inventor-in-Training series and author of Four Rubbings

“A charming book—the rhyming text makes it a great read-aloud. In addition, it gives kids an idea of the kind of animals that really do live in a savannah habitat.” —Roxie Munro, author/illustrator of Slithery Snakes and EcoMazes: 12 Earth Adventures

"Chris Marsh captivates with witty verse and charms with colorful scenes as Zip wanders from friend to friend across the savannah, finding his way back home. A treat for young readers and parents alike." - Steven Luna, author of Songs from the Phenomenal Nothing

Review
I don't have my copy of Zips Goes Wandering right now. Actually, I don't think I can call it mine anymore. It's wandering through the rooms of the elementary school less than a block away that my kids attended. My son took it to his kindergarten teacher to share with her class and I haven't seen it since. Suffice it to say, it's been a hit. What's not to love? Bright colors and cute animals, even the dangerous ones don't seem threatening for preschoolers. The sing song quality of the rhymes make the listener eager to hear the story. It captures the young reader's ear and keeps them attentive. For older readers, the rhymes help give reading clues. It's a fun reading adventure for parents to share at bedtime and young readers to learn on their own. Short, with a sweet message about listening to your parents and finding your way back home. The kids at the elementary school stand behind my recommendation. I'm glad I had a copy to leave with them. I guess I'll have to buy my own copy for my niece!


Interview with the Author:


1. Tell me about yourself.

I currently live in London, England and have done so for the last 7 years which is very different from where I grew up in the heart of the English countryside. Growing up in a rural village surrounded by farms, fields and forests gave me the opportunities to go on an endless number of adventures with my friends which allowed for my creative side to flourish. I'm a keen painter and pianist and love spending my spare time either drawing, writing or playing or listening to music. I have five nieces and nephews who also keep me very busy so I often rely on my creative streak to find exciting things for them to do and I hope that this will rub off on them.



2. Give a brief description of your book, Zips Goes Wandering.

Zips is about a young zebra who loves an adventure but doesn't realise the dangers involved with wandering off without telling his mum. After she warns him not to wander off, he does just that and soon finds himself in a spot of bother with a hungry lion and crocodile. Fortunately, he manages to get himself out of trouble but only finds himself lost and miles from home. By asking his various friends for help he darts backwards and forwards across the savannah and before nightfall, he finds his family.



3. Why did you write Zips Goes Wandering ?

My five very active nieces and nephews are pretty fearless when it comes to going on adventures, often without telling a grown up where they're off to. Knowing their love for stories and indifference to obeying rules I decided to create a story that they would pay attention to, enjoy and therefore remember. Zips Goes Wandering engaged them to ask questions about getting lost and since first hearing the story they haven't gone wandering off, unless it's to the kitchen to raid the sweet and cake cupboard.



4. Zips Goes Wandering has lots of animal characters. Which ones are your favorites?

I've always thought that zebras are pretty cool and interesting animals which is why I chose a zebra for the main character. But I also really like Alex Antelope, not only because I like his massive antlers but also because he's named after one of my nephews.



5. Is this book part of a series?

Zips Goes Wandering aims at teaching children not to wander off and to spark up a conversation between children and their parents or guardians. It had such a great impact on my nieces and nephews that I thought about covering a variety of issues that children will come across through life. The next book covers an issue that is a worry for all parents - bullying - but I wanted to make it slightly different to other bullying stories and that's to focus the book from the bully's point of view. So keep an eye out for that one!



6. Your illustrations in Zips Goes Wandering are so expressive. Can you tell us about your illustration methods?

I actually first created the characters when I was about 13 in a Home Economics class at school - we were making aprons and I decorated mine with Zips and his friends (although they didn't have names back then). When I first started writing the story of Zips onto paper I remembered the apron, dug it out and thought, here's a style of drawing I've never seen before and that would be recognisable. I really think that the characters are quite cute which will hopefully appeal to adults as well.



7. The page design of Zips Goes Wandering is vibrant. Can you tell us about why you chose to place the text inside the clouds?

The words on the page are separated from the actual pictures themselves so I wanted to connect the two somehow. As the words seemed to float about on the page I thought, why not have them float about in a cloud above the savannah?



8. Why did you choose to set this book in the African savannah?

I've always had a fascination with African savannah animals. I've never been to Africa but I've been to so many zoos and even from a little boy I remember being mesmerized by the giraffes, elephants, rhinos, zebras and lions more than the other animals. One day I'll get to Africa so I can see a real life Zips in the wild.



9. What kinds of children’s books have inspired you?

I'm so pleased that my nieces and nephews are great lovers of books because it gives me an excuse to read picture books to them. My favourite has to be Julia Donaldson. Her books are so much fun and the stories and rhyming draw the reader into the story every time.



10. What artists have inspired you?

Axel Scheffler is brilliant. He's so talented and has worked with Julia Donaldson on a number of books including The Highway Rat and The Gruffalo. I think I enjoy the pictures more than my nieces and nephews! As a child I was a huge fan of the Roald Dahl books and a large part of that was because of the illustrations drawn by Quentin Blake. They're quite simple but have a real impact on the reader because they're so unique, fun and match the character of the story they're in perfectly. "



About the Author:



Chris Marsh grew up in the heart of the English Countryside and spent many sunny days going on wild adventures and long expeditions, with his mother constantly reminding him to be careful. On those rainy days he would spend hours either reading, painting or drawing, letting his imagination go wild and creating a variety of stories and tales about his adventures. Surrounded by pets and constantly exploring the local wildlife and farm animals, Chris developed a love for animals which crept into his creativity. Years later it was Chris' turn to do the careful reminding to his adventurous nieces and nephews and he found the only way to engage them was through stories.






Giveaway:
20 ebook copies in your choice of format.
Open Worldwide.

a Rafflecopter giveaway





Monday, March 17, 2014

The Queen's Choice (Heirs of Chrior #1) by Cayla Kluver

The Queen's Choice (Book One Heirs of Chrior Trilogy)
by Cayla Kluver
Available Now
Harlequin Teen
Hardcover 512 pages
Available Now-
Amazon/ Kindle/ Audible/ B&N/ Book Depository
Indiebound/ Kobo

Goodreads:  Magic was seeping out of me, black and agonizing. I could see it drifting away. The magic that would let me pass the Road to reach home again.

When sixteen-year-old Anya learns that her aunt, Queen of the Faerie Kingdom of Chrior, will soon die, her grief is equalled only by her despair for the future of the kingdom. Her young cousin, Illumina, is unfit to rule, and Anya is determined not to take up the queen's mantle herself.

Convinced that the only solution is to find Prince Zabriel, who long ago disappeared into the human realm of Warckum, and persuade him to take up his rightful crown, Anya journeys into the Warckum Territory to bring him home. But her journey is doomed to be more harrowing than she ever could have imagined.

Review

This was a long novel. And some parts still seemed like they were too rushed. Others were definitely too long. So, yes, I guess I had a problem with the pacing, something I'm not sure I have ever written before.
But it was very clear in this novel. There were many problems and I am having problems with giving it a star rating on the sites that require stars because it really falls between stars. I'll explain.

Characters-
Anya- The Queen's niece. A faerie, water elemental. Bonded to Davic who she describes as "solid and predictable, like a form of gravity." Not quite a heartpounding romantic sentiment. Nonetheless she loves him. As I read the story from her point of view, trying to illicit some form of attachment to her, I kept reminding myself that Anya was a royal, a faerie and often they have been portrayed as remote, distant, unfeeling. So keeping that in mind, I was able to read this 500 page book. Anya has a horrible experience, right from the start of her journey, one that she shouldn't have been taking in the first place, one taken for selfish reasons and she pays the highest of consequences. Her motives are selfish yet she rationalizes that they are not. And despite the fact that she has ventured into the human world quite often, she doesn't listen to that "faerie sense" inside of her that tells her there is something wrong.

Shea- Becomes acquainted with Anya when Anya needs medial assistance. Her family takes Anya in and dresses her wounds. They are helping her heal. They are also well aware of faeries so they aren't surprised at what Anya is. The most remarkable thing about Shea is that she is brave enough or just reckless enough to want to depart with Anya when she leaves to search the cities for her cousins. Shea is around the same age of Anya but is very inexperienced in the world. Yet, Shea is allowed to go with Anya. Well, not so much allowed as she threatens to go on her own if she isn't allowed. Reading the size of her father and his countenance, she is brave.

Illumina- First in line for the crown in Chrior, but passed over because of her age, 14, and her weird predilections for carving phrases into her skin and her anti human prejudices. The crown is pro human/faerie rights. Illumina would have another war with the humans an wipe them out of she could.

Zabriel- The Queen's half human/half fae son who ran off at 15 to the human world, shunning his responsibilities to the Fae World of Chrior. Zabriel has no elemental connection, that is he is not earth, air, fire or water spirit. He does have wings. But some of the Fae would refuse to follow him b/c he was not full fae, others loved him. He had a falling out with his mother the Queen after secrets she kept from him came out. He would have been the ruler of Chrior if he hadn't run.

The World- Chrior is nicely described. It sounds like a utopia of sorts. Only darker elements do show up. In flashbacks from Anya. Faeries live in nooks in the great Redwood tree or in the woods just beyond the Blood Road. There is a lot of confusion in the beginning. Someone has been killed or died before he ever sat on the throne. Someone else was banished. There is something going on at court as the story starts and Anya is flying in from the Blood Road. There is the Queen on her throne and all the royal seats surrounding her, many vacant. I couldn't figure out why. I didn't know who anyone was or belonged to. So there is confusion and it is cleared up, but it's like a pebble in a dryer that keeps going around and around, making so much noise that the idea never lets me keep my mind on the story until I could figure out what was going on with the thrones. Thankfully it didn't take too long. 

There isn't a lot of information on the human and fae war. The one that caused the fae to create the Blood Road that keeps the Humans away from the Fae. There are certain anti-human factions within the fae that would have all the humans destroyed. There are humans that would see all the fae destroyed. Presumably, that is what the first war was about. But really, we aren't allowed any information about it.  

The human world is unique. There is no electricity. No plumbing. Travel is done by foot, horse or boat. The fae fly of course. There are strict laws and debts to be paid. There are wealthy and poor and all manner of people between. Soup kitchens, halfway houses and drug dens. Pirates, traitors, spies. A varying array of people and places. And at the head of it all is the Governor. But we only meet his son who is taking care of business in his stead as the Governor  is ill.

Setting- It seems to be in the past, any time but no time specific.  There is strict security, border guards. To travel one must have papers. The Fae are known to have forged documents. Tension seems to be higher than usual in the human world, more guards are out and about. Children are disappearing. Fae are also disappearing. Mythological creatures seem to be on the prowl. In the Fae World, anti-Human demonstrations abound. Many fae disregard the Queen's pro-human leanings and lead protests and marches against the humans. Fae are disappearing as well. Or showing up with their wings cut off, their source of magic removed. It prevents them from going home, from crossing the Blood Road.

My Take- My Take- One thing I absolutely loved about this story was that the two main characters were Anya and Shea. Two female main characters on a quest! Yes, without nary a man in sight. In fact, Anya's intended, Davic, seems to be a bit afraid of even going out to the human world. So Anya is the one that goes out seeking Zabriel. And then Shea goes with her. The two are complimentary to each other, they show each other the way when the other strays, they are wisdom when the other is not, they hold each other up. I don't recall any other book where the two women were such great friends and so accomplished at their quest. For Shea, it doesn't matter where they are going as long as it's away from where she is now. For Anya, she figures it can't hurt to have a human along with her. Though the two get into a lot of trouble and Anya isn't exactly forthcoming about why she is there or rather who she is there for, they look out for each other and make a great pair. Their combined talents get them out of all kinds of sticky situations.
I very much love that it is two young women that don't need men to get them where they need to go.

So it's got that going for it, which is very good. And the story itself, it's very good. I love the story line. Great plot, great subplots. And I think they are carried out very well. So what is my problem with the story?

As I said, the pacing is off. Anya is hurt badly yet is up and around in three days. It doesn't make sense to me with such a terrible wound. Time spent in some places seems to be endless and unnecessary. In others, it seems to go too fast. The writing is good, descriptive and engaging. Of course, the ending was predictable, at least that something was going to happen. How could it not, it was a trilogy and it was the obvious choice. But I don't think it was the wrong choice or poorly done. And so now, as I write this, I am seeing that the pacing is the worst problem I had with it. And so now, I'm thinking, given some time away from the story, that I actually liked it more than I thought I did at first. The characters have stayed with me. The ending, though heartbreaking, left me wanting to know what would happen going forward. I felt Anya didn't listen to her better sense towards the end of the novel. But then, we all question ourselves and shut our inner voice up bowing to the voices of others at times. I can't expect more from my characters than I do myself.

So pacing aside, an original story with intelligent, more than capable female main characters, sharing a camaraderie for adventure and freedom. Faeries and humans, working together and against each other, showing prejudice at work and the evils it perpetrates in a highly creative way. I'd recommend this one. And I will read the next one in the series. I think a few less pages might help, but I never considered not finishing it. I think if you enjoy faeries, conflict, spies, court intrigue, politics and betrayals, along with some humor and a little romance, I think you'll find this an entertaining story. 

Thanks to the publishers for a copy of the novel for review. This did not affect my review in any way. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.

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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Waiting On Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday

A meme hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine  where bloggers and book lovers share with each other the books they are just dying to read!!

Here's mine!!

Forbidden by Kimberley Griffiths Little
Release date- November 4, 2014
HarperCollins
Goodreads-  FORBIDDEN is a sweepingly epic and sensuous novel, a story of peer pressure and cults set against the ancient art of belly dance, in which 16-year-old Jayden’s faith and character is tested to their limits, even death, as she watches her family and the world around her fall apart. 

Betrothed to the tribal leader's son, Jayden is blackmailed over the murder of their beloved leader when he is found poisoned, all while hiding her forbidden love of Kadesh, a stranger from the secret frankincense lands. 

The Goddess temples of Ashtoreth may be Jayden’s only escape, even though the allure of the sexual rites tempt the women of the desert to turn their back on everything they hold sacred.

Jayden must undertake a deadly journey to save the ones she loves—and find a true love for herself.


Okay, so I've been on a cultural kick lately. Anything but my culture! There is something about the lure of belly dancing....I've wanted to take lessons. Anyone else??? I think it sounds a little strange to say "set against the ancient art of belly dance" but I still can't resist this one. It sounds like tents in the Sahara and "allure of the sexual rites tempt the women of the desert". Wait does anyone know if this is YA??? 

What are you waiting to read??? Please share with me!! I find the best books for my wish list on Waiting on Wednesdays!! This is my favorite meme!! Leave your links or I'll find you through your blog button!

                                                    Have a rockin' Wednesday!!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee Review

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee
Available Now
Knopf Books for Young Readers
Middle Grade
Hardback 240 pages
To Buy Links:
Amazon/ Kindle/ Audible/ Audio Book CD/ B and N/ Book Depository/ Indiebound/ Kobo 

Goodreads- A modern-day fairy tale set in a mysterious museum that is perfect for readers of Roald Dahl and Blue Balliett.

Unlikely heroine Ophelia Jane Worthington-Whittard doesn't believe in anything that can't be proven by science. She and her sister Alice are still grieving for their dead mother when their father takes a job in a strange museum in a city where it always snows. On her very first day in the museum Ophelia discovers a boy locked away in a long forgotten room. He is a prisoner of Her Majesty the Snow Queen. And he has been waiting for Ophelia's help. As Ophelia embarks on an incredible journey to rescue the boy everything that she believes will be tested. Along the way she learns more and more about the boy's own remarkable journey to reach her and save the world. A story within a story, this a modern day fairytale is about the power of friendship, courage and love, and never ever giving up.

Review

This is an interesting tale, incorporating the story of The Snow Queen in a very unique setting with an intrepid, sad, heroine, who finds her courage in the quest to save the Marvelous Boy. The story unfolds slowly with a beginning told from the Marvelous Boy's point of view and then opens again in a more modern time with Ophelia and her sister, Alice and their father in the museum as he sets up a display of swords, the finest in the world, set to open on Christmas Eve.

Characters-  Ophelia is of course, the main character. She is timid, but curious and bored with sitting around watching her father or getting fashion tips from her older sister, Alice which she declares "are useless" on her. So she goes wandering this strange museum. She misses her mom and reminisces about good days with her. But when she finds the Marvelous Boy locked in a secret room, her scientific mind tells her he is not possible and his story is improbable. However, her mother believed in imagination, she was a horror writer, and as her mother begins to whisper to her when Ophelia questions herself, Ophelia begins to wonder, if the story the boy told her was true, if she can believe her own eyes, ears, and feelings.
She shows remarkable growth from a young girl, moping about, to a girl who wants to save the world.

Unfortunately, Dad is absentminded and not very present. Alice, older sister to Ophelia is easily swayed by the Snow Queen, seeking beauty and an escape from her own sorrow.

The Marvelous Boy- tells his story through flashbacks. His story is very unusual. He has no name. The wizards that sent him to Ophelia's world hundreds of years ago, took his name and despite his desperate trying, he cannot remember his name. He has been locked in his room for hundreds of years by the Snow Queen who is waiting for a clock to run out, for a charm put on him to expire. Then she will be able to kill him and rule the world, Ophelia's world.

The Snow Queen- It is obvious as the story begins who the Snow Queen is and what the story is about. I won't say, but leave it to anyone that doesn't know the story to figure it out for themselves. But she is just as icy and wicked as any Snow Queen, ever!

The Setting- The setting is the museum and it is fascinating. It reminds me a lot of a room in Hogwarts that changes every time you go in it. I think it was whatever you needed it to be, in Hogwarts. In this story, there is a room that changes as circumstances change. The museum seems to change, becoming more sinister as the Snow Queen becomes more wicked and shows herself more. It does seem dark in some places and Ophelia travels in a forbidden elevator to rickety stairs up and down, past dinosaurs, dollhouses, a room of broken toys, beautiful ball gowns, a gallery of portraits of beautiful, young unsmiling girls and on and on. It is definitely a museum of many things.

The StoryI can imagine the museum sparking the imagination of Ophelia, but she isn't one given to imagination. She is scientific, a member of the Children's Science Society of Greater London which met on Tuesday nights. And yet.... she is drawn into the Marvelous Boy's story and the magic of the museum.
It is a great story of a family slowly drifted apart by the sorrow of the death of the woman that kept them glued together. And this story somehow, includes all the members of Ophelia's story, bringing them in as different parts of the story of the Snow Queen reshaping. I have to say, it isn't really a retelling. Ophelia is a great heroine, especially for young girls, she isn't the typical girl you would expect as the girl that tries to save the day.

My take- I loved this story. It was short and engaging. The museum was a great backdrop with it's own mysteries. The Marvelous Boy's story was a sharp contrast to the main story line and I felt attached to both characters. I want to believe in all the fantasy characters I read about, but like Ophelia, I believe what my eyes see. I think the real magic, is in the beauty of a well told story, friendships, doing more than you believe you are capable of. This story was magic.

Absolutely wonderful story for  MG readers and up. I read the e- Arc so I am not sure about the chapters, how long they are, but I think it would be a great read aloud story for a teacher or parent and child if they are younger!

I received a copy of this novel from the publisher for review. It did not influence my opinion of this novel. All opinions expressed are my own.

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