tHe crooKed WorD

As of April 30, 2014 we will no longer be posting reviews on tHe crooKed WorD. Reading is like breathing for us - and discovering new books and authors has been a wonderful adventure - but the time has come for us to move on. Thank you for your support, for allowing us into your lives, and for letting us influence in some small way the contents of your bookshelves.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Lost Stones

The Lost StonesThe Lost Stones
by Paul Rimmasch

192 Pages
Published November 8, 2011

This book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

1600s Mexico- The Aztec Prince Ixtililxochitl writes that the first people to inhabit his land came from the Tower of Babel at the dividing of tongues…Scholars dismiss his writings as myth.
-----
1800s Mid Western United States- Settlers dig into ancient burial mounds and discover thousands of slate tablets covered with a strange hieroglyphic writing and drawings depicting Jesus Christ…these artifacts are denounced as a hoax.
-----
1909 Arizona-a newspaper runs a story describing how a cave containing metal artifacts and Egyptian-type hieroglyphics was discovered in the Grand Canyon by a group of Scientists from the Smithsonian Institute…the Smithsonian categorically denies the account.
-----
These and other amazing facts make up the world of forbidden Book of Mormon Archaeology. It is a world BYU student and Iraqi War veteran Ammon Rogers never knew existed. He is thrust headlong into this world when he asks the enigmatic adventurer John Byrd a simple question. When John is kidnapped in Mexico, Ammon joins forces with John’s beautiful daughter in a desperate attempt to not only save John, but to find his answer…an answer that will change the world…an answer one sinister foe will do anything to suppress.


* * *

This is a fun, quick read. Short chapters keep the story moving, and tons of research and true knowledge fill the pages. The characters are well-rounded and likeable

While the theme is LDS (Mormon), I think anyone interested in archaeology, history, or adventure would enjoy the story!

Check out the book trailer:



Some thoughts:

When I started the book, I was a little worried. Book openings can be tough to write, and I didn't really feel drawn into this one. *** Spoiler*** Well, I did until it turned out the opening was a dream. When I was snapped into a different world, things changed. I didn't really care for Ammon's daily life. That said, about 10% of the way in, I dropped that and enjoyed the story.

I really, really, really wanted there to be more of an "Indiana Jones" feeling to this book. There were moments here and there, but I would have loved to see it happen more!

There are a number of passages where long conversations take place in order to get a lot of information and history across. While I enjoyed it (and learned a few things from it), I'm not sure younger teens will appreciate it, as it means less action through those parts.

I find the topic of Book of Mormon Archaeology fascinating, and always have. I hope Mr. Rimmasch is considering sequels!

4/5 stars

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Solo

Solo

by Sarah Schofield











Paperback, 272 pages
Published January 17th 2012 (first published December 17th 2011)

As a military brat, Eliana Davis is no stranger to moving from place to place. However, moving in the middle of her sophomore year to the small Oregon town where her parents grew up is something she never expected. Knowing she will only be there for a year, she is torn between making new friends or keeping to herself. Will she listen to her heart or keep flying solo?

***

I enjoyed this book! The story is predictable, but in a good way. Although this isn't a vampire book, there are definite echos of Twilight in the plot. It's full of high school drama with some funny and entertaining situations. It's a quick and easy read that's really enjoyable! The author's blog notes the sequel will be released later this Summer.  I'll be looking for it!


4/5 stars

Friday, August 24, 2012

Friday Feature: 'Scuse Me While I Kill This Guy

Friday Feature is where we share books we love that have been out for several years. We don't want these treasures to get lost just because they aren't babies anymore!
 

'Scuse Me While I Kill This Guy (Bombay Assassins, #1)'Scuse Me While I Kill This Guy (Bombay Assassins, #1)
Leslie Langtry

325 Pages
Published July 31, 2007

YOU CAN'T PICK YOUR FAMILY...
Death by Chocolate is her favorite dessert. And those knitting needles aren't just for craft projects. To most people, Gin Bombay is an ordinary single mom. Then again, they don't know she's from a family of top secret assassins. Somewhere between leading a Girl Scout troop for her kindergartner--would nooses count for a knot badge?--and keeping their puppy from destroying the furniture, Gin now has to take out a new target.

BUT YOU CAN PICK THEM OFF
Except this target has an incredibly hot Australian bodyguard who knows just how to make her weak in the knees. But with a mole threatening to expose everything, Gin doesn't have much time to let her hormones do the happy dance. She's got to find the leak and clear her assignment...or she'll end up next on the Bombay family hit list.

* * *I absolutely loved this book! Yes, I realize, a lot of people will complain that it's kind of shallow and ditzy, and that the plot isn't the very strongest you could find.

But trust me, it's funny. It's what I call "brainless reading," meaning that you don't have to really concentrate in order to get what's going on, which we all need sometimes. Especially if you have kids running wild around you.

Maybe it's because I love spy-type stories, but this one just struck home with me. I'll definitely be reading the rest of the series!

4.5/5 stars

Monday, August 20, 2012

Blackwood

Blackwood by Gwenda BondBlackwood
by Gwenda Bond

416 pages
Published September 4, 2012

This is a pre-release review. A heartfelt thanks to the publisher, Strange Chemistry, for allowing me to read it early!

On Roanoke Island, the legend of the 114 people who mysteriously vanished from the Lost Colony hundreds of years ago is just an outdoor drama for the tourists, a story people tell. But when the island faces the sudden disappearance of 114 people now, an unlikely pair of 17-year-olds may be the only hope of bringing them back.

Miranda, a misfit girl from the island’s most infamous family, and Phillips, an exiled teen criminal who hears the voices of the dead, must dodge everyone from federal agents to long-dead alchemists as they work to uncover the secrets of the new Lost Colony. The one thing they can’t dodge is each other.

Blackwood is a dark, witty coming of age story that combines America’s oldest mystery with a thoroughly contemporary romance.


* * *

This is the second book I've been able to read from this new publisher, and I have to say I'm impressed!

I was only vaguely aware of the story of the Lost Colony of Roanoke (and the only reason I'd heard of it was because I lived in North Carolina for a year). It's fascinating. An entire colony disappearing with out a trace? How is that possible?

"Blackwood" is a fantastic story based on the legend of the colony. The writing is incredible. It's hard to surprise me, but there were a couple of twists I didn't see coming, which was fantastic.

Thoughts on Miranda: It would be incredibly hard to live the life she did. The outcast not only at school, but across the whole island? A father who's always drunk, and mother who died when she was young? Picked on because of the history of the family she was born into? It says a lot about her that she could come through all the ridicule and be so NORMAL.


Thoughts on Phillips: A teenage boy who hears the voices of the dead, but only when he's on the island? Intriguing, right? And then he feels the desperate need to protect Miranda without knowing what the danger is. Hmm.


I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and look forward to reading more of Ms. Bond's writing.


5/5 stars

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

UnEnchanted

UnEnchanted (An Unfortunate Fairy Tale, #1)UnEnchanted (An Unfortunate Fairy Tale, #1)
by Chanda Hahn

181 Pages
Published 2011

Mina Grime is unlucky, unpopular and uncoordinated, that is until she saves her crushes life on a field trip, changing her High School status from loser to hero overnight. But with her new found fame brings misfortune in the form of an old family curse come to light. For Mina is descended from the Brothers Grimm and has inherited all of their unfinished fairy tale business. Which includes trying to outwit a powerful Story from making her it's next fairytale victim.

To break the fairy tale curse on her family and make these deadly occurrences stop, Mina must finish the tales until the very Grimm end.


* * *

Yes, I love all things fairytale. And this book really is fun!

Honestly, this sat on my Kindle for a little while (and I read about 10 books between reading the blurb and getting to the book), which I think was a good thing. The blurb tells us who Mina's famous ancestors are, and I think that kind of messed with the way it's revealed in the story. But that's just me.


Very fun. I read it in a single afternoon. (And then started book 2.) Oh, and I loved the way she couldn't exactly escape the story she was trying to play out - particularly the way her clothes kept turning red.  :)


My one complaint was that it could have used a bit more editing.

4/5 stars

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Journeys of John and Juliain Chapter One: Genesis

The Journeys of John and Julia in Chapter One by AureliaThe Journeys of John and Julia in Chapter One: Genesis
by Aurelia

Published September 9, 2011

This book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

The Journeys of John and Julia begin.
The Twenty-Two are watching.
Reality is about to change.

It all starts when Julia’s parents totally mess with her summer. First Julia’s dad takes off to start a whole new family. Then Julia’s mom yanks Julia from cheerleader camp to spend the summer with her grandmother in the land of no signal, no mall, no best friend Kellie. Julia’s only hope for human contact is geeky John Freeman, who is six months younger than she and about a million years behind her idea of cool.

If only Julia knew that her mom plans to dump her at Grandma’s not just for the summer, but for a whole year. If only Julia knew that a collective of wondrous beings called The Twenty- Two are watching over her and trying to make contact. If only Julia knew that they could tell Julia every thought she never knew she had and bend her reality in any way they choose. And that she’d be with John Freeman when it happened. He’d think that was way cool.

And that is just the beginning. For this seemingly mismatched pair have cracked open the door to another reality. And their enemy-to-be, the beyond evil Niem Vidalgo Oten, is about to enter the picture.


* * *

This book wasn't quite what I expected it to be. From the blurb, I was under the impression that we'd be following Julia. Well, we were, but we were also following John (which totally worked, just wasn't in the blurb). And yes, The Twenty-Two are mentioned, but I didn't expect so much of the book to be them.

When the book starts, it's with The Twenty-Two. (Does there seem to be too much alliteration here?) They do a lot of watching Julia and John. Honestly, I got really bored.

However, about a quarter of the way through, things picked up. I really liked John's story, and would actually have liked to have a lot more of it. Maybe in the next book. Julia's story is good, too, once you stop being interrupted every other minute by The Twenty-Two. (And really, I could have done with a little less of the psycho-analysis.)

I'm looking forward to seeing where this series goes! And hoping that its focus is on John and Julia, because really, I could have done without the others.

3.5/5 stars

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Beneath the Slashings Blog Tour

We are excited to welcome Michelle Isenhoff, children's novelist, and to be one of the many stops on her blog tour!

Beneath the Slashings (Divided Decade Trilogy, #3) 

by Michelle Isenhoff




Paperback173 pages
August 1st 2012
This book was provided to us as an ARC by the author in exchange for an honest review.

After four uncertain years of war, twelve-year-old Grace Nickerson is desperate to return to a sense of normalcy. But when her father returns from the army, he sells the farm and drags the family off to a lumber camp in Michigan's northern wilderness. Grace is devastated; she's never been brave. When her tears and tantrums won't change Pa's mind, she stops speaking to him altogether.
Grace spends long hours working with her brother Sam and Ivan, the surly Russian cook, but at least in the kitchen she is safe from the lumberjacks. She's seen them from the window. They're rough, unkept, and terrifying. But slowly, with Sam's help, she comes to understand they're all missing home and recovering from loss, just like she is. Her fear begins to evaporate--until she learns one of them is trying to kill Pa.
Who is sabotaging the camp, and why? Will the winter in the woods bring the healing Grace needs? Or will it drive a wedge into her family?

***


Interview
I recently interviewed Michelle Isenhoff and really enjoyed the opportunity!
Here's what she shared with us!

Are all of your books historical fiction?

Not all of them, but four out of five are.  My first two books were inspired by family vacations to historical sites, so historical fiction sort of gave me my running start.  But HF has some definite boundaries that can be challenging to write inside of, so at one point I cast aside the research and wrote a fantasy (The Quill Pen) just for fun.  It was a refreshing change to let my story go anywhere it led.  Even so, my setting ended up decidedly historical.


Do you have any other books in the works?

I sure do.  I have a second fantasy (Song of the Mountain) due out in November.  This one takes place in ancient China.  Here's the blurb:

Orphaned at a young age, thirteen-year-old Wei Song has grown up listening to his grandfather recite legends of the distant past.  But it is his own history Song seeks to uncover to guide him toward the future, particularly the events surrounding his parents' deaths.  But that is a secret closely guarded by his grandfather.  Then Song discovers a puzzle box that links him to an ancient prophecy.  His destiny lies within the old tales he has scorned.  Song must follow the path that killed his father.  

Then in November I have to decide which of four story ideas I want to pursue next.  




If you could "move in" to any book or time frame, what would you choose?

If I had a time machine, I’d travel back to Colonial America.  I would visit Philadelphia, Boston, New York, and Williamsburg in the fifty years leading up to revolution.  But eventually I think I’d settle in the Appalachians.  I’d be one of those pioneers pushing the limits of civilization.  (Think Last of the Mohicans.)  Of course if Indians attacked or if I had a medical emergency, I’d probably dash off home in my machine!

Do you have a favorite book(s) or author(s)?

I have many, and they rotate rankings all the time.  Today my top five would probably include Gary D. Schmidt, Avi, JK Rowling, Elizabeth George Speare, and Beverly Cleary.

What would YOU like your readers to know about this book or you in general?
I would like my readers, specifically parents and teachers, to know that while my books are adventurous and entertaining, they also pack a lot of substance.  They’re about learning, maturing, growing and bettering.  When a child closes the back cover, I want kids and adults to think, “That was worth the time spent on it.”

***
Review
I recently had the opportunity to read Beneath the Slashings and here's my review!
I really enjoyed this book!  Beneath the Slashings is a work of historical fiction which tells the story of Grace, a young girl who's facing many struggles and changes in her life.  As the book begins, Grace has already suffered many hardships and is looking forward to her life getting back to the way it used to be.  She doesn't know that more changes are on the way and her entire world will be turned upside down.   I loved the various personalities and mannerisms of the characters in this book.  As Grace learns to look  past the appearances and exteriors of others, she finds they aren't so different from her after all.  She is able to make friends with people from various backgrounds and lifestyles.  I think many people can relate to Grace and also to her father as life changes and they must learn to adjust and find a place in the world.  Grace shows us that friends can be found in unlikely places and that with strength and courage we can face the unknown.  
5/5 stars


I had the opportunity to review the first two books in this trilogy too.  Click to see the reviews:  The Candle Star (#1)  and Broken Ladders (#2).
Where to find the author:


Where to find Beneath the Slashings:


Thanks to Michelle Isenhoff for including us on your tour!  We've enjoyed it!





Friday, August 10, 2012

Friday Feature: Heidi

Friday Feature is where we share books we love that have been out for several years. We don't want these treasures to get lost just because they aren't babies anymore!

Heidi (Illustrated Junior Library)Heidi
by Johanna Spyri

327 pages

Johanna Spyri's classic story of a young orphan sent to live with her grumpy grandfather in the Swiss Alps is retold in this beautifully bound hardcover edition. Heidi has charmed and intrigued readers since it's original publication in 1880. Much more than a children's story, the narrative is also a lesson on the precarious nature of freedom, a luxury too often taken for granted. Heidi almost loses her liberty as she is ripped away from the tranquility of the mountains to tend to a sick cousin in the city. Happily, all's well that ends well, and the reader is left with only warm, fuzzy thoughts.

* * *

I'll never be able to say how much I love this book. I will say that because of it I had a "Heidi dress" when I was about seven (which I wore until it fell apart), and when I decided to start collecting a Christmas village I chose an Alpine Village. I want to live in this book.

I hadn't read this in a long time, and it was so fun to read it again! I love everything about it--the incredible descriptions, Heidi's excitement over everything from the opening flowers to the sound of the wind in the firs, the heartache when she thinks she can't go home. I still cry with and for her, even though I've read it more times than I can count.

The message that we get can gain so much happiness from the simple act of caring for those around us is such a great reminder for each of us to take the time to see the needs of those around us and do something to help them.


And yes, it MUST be this edition!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Assassin's Curse

The Assassin's CurseThe Assassin's Curse
by Cassandra Rose Clarke

416 pages
Published October 2, 2012

This is a pre-release review. Thanks to the publisher, Strange Chemistry, for letting me read it early!

Ananna of the Tanarau is the eldest daughter of a highly-ranked family in the loose assortment of cutthroats and thieves in the Pirate's Confederation. When she runs away from the marriage her parents have arranged for her, they hire Naji the assassin to murder her.

When a mysterious woman in a dress shop offers her magical assistance for dealing with the assassin, Ananna accepts. She never went in much for magic herself -- she lacks the talent for it -- but she's not quite ready to die yet, either. Unfortunately, the woman's magic fails.

Fortunately, Ananna inadvertently saves the assassin's life in the skirmish, thus activating a curse that had been placed on him a few years earlier. Now, whenever her life is in danger, he must protect her -- or else he experiences tremendous physical pain. Neither Ananna nor the assassin, Naji, are pleased about this development.

Follow Ananna and Naji as they sail across the globe, visiting such mysterious places as the Court of Salt and Waves, in their desperate effort to lift the curse. Soon they will discover that only by completing three impossible tasks will they be able to set themselves free.


* * *

This book had me from the first glimpse of the cover. (Isn't it cool?)Then I read the blurb.

Magic? Yep. Adventure? Sure. Pirates? Hooray! Assassins? Of course. Curses? Um, could this get any better? I really don't think so.


Wonderful characters, beautiful language, great adventure. I couldn't ask for more. Well, maybe just a little. I have two complaints: I have to wait to find out what happens next, and then there was the matter of a certain kiss that didn't happen.


5/5 stars

Monday, August 6, 2012