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.

Saturday, June 30, 2012


Thumped (Bumped, #2)Thumped (Bumped, #2)
by Megan McCafferty

304 pages
Published April 24, 2012


It’s been thirty-five weeks since twin sisters Harmony and Melody went their separate ways. And now their story has become irresistible: twins separated at birth, each due to deliver twins…on the same day!

Married to Ram and living in Goodside, Harmony spends her time trying to fit back into the community she once believed in. But she can’t forget about Jondoe, the guy she fell for under the strangest of circumstances.

To her adoring fans, Melody has achieved everything: a major contract and a coupling with the hottest bump prospect around. But this image is costing her the one guy she really wants.

The girls’ every move is analyzed by millions of fans eagerly counting down to “Double Double Due Date.” They’re two of the most powerful teen girls on the planet, and they could do only one thing to make them even more famous:

Tell the truth.

* * *

I loved this book. I couldn't put it down--meaning, I read it in a day.

While I enjoyed the first book, if I'm being totally honest, Harmony and Melody kinda got on my nerves. Just a little. But in this one, they didn't. The whole concept of the books is fantastic. One of the things that makes it so good is that, given the right circumstances, I could easily see our society turning into the one in the book.

I don't want to give any spoilers, but I have to say I loved the way everything unwound when Harmony goes into labor. It was great.

4/5 stars

Friday, June 29, 2012

Friday Feature: Rebecca

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!


Paperback380 pages
Published November 1st 1994 by Avon Books (first published 1938)
"Last Night I Dreamt
I Went To Manderley Again." So the second Mrs. Maxim de Winter remembered the chilling events that led her down the turning drive past ther beeches, white and naked, to the isolated gray stone manse on the windswept Cornish coast. With a husband she barely knew, the young bride arrived at this immense estate, only to be inexorably drawn into the life of the first Mrs. de Winter, the beautiful Rebecca, dead but never forgotten...her suite of rooms never touched, her clothes ready to be worn, her servant -- the sinister Mrs. Danvers -- still loyal. And as an eerie presentiment of evil tightened around her heart, the second Mrs. de Winter began her search for the real fate of Rebecca...for the secrets of Manderley.

I believe that Rebecca will stand as a book that is read over and over by generations to come.  The plot is so mysterious and compelling while the descriptions paint such amazing pictures and lend to the overall timber of the book.  The characters are complex yet have traits and motives that make them as real today as they were in 1938 when the book was written.  Everyone should read this book!  It's wonderful!

5/5 stars

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Happily Never After

Happily Never After (The Grimm Chronicles, #2)
by Isabella Fontaine

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

200 years ago, the Brothers Grimm unleashed their stories upon the world.


Now the characters of the Grimms’ stories walk among us. With every day that passes, they grow more evil. They are the Corrupted, and only a hero can save them.

For 18-year-old Alice Goodenough, that means taking precious time off from her summer vacation. In addition to volunteering at the local library, Alice must stop the Corrupted who are now actively hunting her down. With the help of her magic pen and her trusty rabbit friend, the world has suddenly gotten a lot more complex. The Corrupted are everywhere, and only Alice can see them for what they truly are.

Meanwhile, at night, Alice’s nightmares have begun to grow more real. Terrifying man-eating rats are plaguing the city of Chicago, and it’s up to Alice to figure out a way to stop them. But before she can do that, she’ll have to face off with an even more dangerous enemy sent to kill her.

An enemy that has killed heroes before …

This book also contains the following Grimms’ fairy tales:
-       The Frog-Prince
-       Fundevogel
-       Aschenputtel

* * *

This installment finds our hero, Alice, recovering from finding out who her boyfriend was (Prince Charming) and having to make him disintegrate.

We meet a number of new fairytale characters, go on a trip, and we even get a chapter from another character's point of view.

I do wish we could see more of Alice's fencing skills, but that's just me! Since Alice is interning at the library for the summer, she has a chance to look through a lot of books, learning how different things work. That diligence pays off at the end of the book!

Both books in this series include the fairytales the characters come from at the end, which is a nice addition to the story.

Another quick, fun read. I can't wait to see what title is given to the next installment!

4/5 stars

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Prince Charming Must Die

Product DetailsPrince Charming Must Die (The Grimm Chronicles, #1)
by Isabella Fontaine

91 pages

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

On the eve of her 18th birthday, high school junior Alice Goodenough feels on top of the world. Classes are almost finished. She’s about to start her summer job at the local library, where she’ll be surrounded by all of her favorite books. And she has a wonderful boyfriend.

Then the rabbit shows up. The giant talking rabbit. He has a message:
200 years ago, the Brothers Grimm unleashed their stories upon the world.

With the help of a magic pen and paper, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm brought all of their characters to life. The world was a more magical place … for a time. Cinderella found her prince. Briar Rose's spell was broken. The dancing princesses spent their nights hidden away in a secret underground city. The old miller's boy found true love.

Then, slowly, the Grimms’ characters began to change for the worse. They became Corrupted. Evil. They didn’t belong in our world, but it was too late for the Brothers Grimm to destroy them.

Only a hero can save the day. Every generation for the past 200 years, a hero has been chosen to fight the Corrupted and rid the world of the Grimms’ fairy tales. To her horror, Alice has been chosen as the next hero. As her 18th birthday nears, she begins to realize life is never going back to normal. School will never be the same.

As for her boyfriend, Edward … well, he might be hiding a terrible secret.

* * *

Let's face it, titles are rough. Some of them are absolutely horrible, while others might as well have sprouted arms for how quickly they grab you. This is one of the good ones!

This is a very quick read, and if you like anything to do with fairytales, or adventure, or high school drama, you need to read it. Although, if you're handing it to a young teenager or tween, you should be aware that there's some material you may not want them reading unless you're using it as a discussion jump-off (alcohol, sex).

I loved the fact that Alice fences (something I've always wished I could do), and that she's strong. She doesn't need others to approve of her. She has an "in" to join the "in" crowd, but doesn't take it because they wouldn't be accepting her for herself. I think that says a lot about her character!

I'm thoroughly enjoyed it, and am looking forward to the next installment!

4/5 stars

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Uneasy Fortunes

Uneasy Fortunes
by Mandi Ellsworth
pub. June 12,2012
240 pages


Battered by his past, Pete knows he has no business falling for anyone. But when time can’t heal a wound, love steps in to make it right. Based on a true story of the post–Civil War South, this gentle rustic romance will pull you in from the first page and leave you with a renewed hope in the power of real love.


    Let me preface this review with the statement that I am not a reader of romance novels or historical romances in general. This is mostly due to the fact that they are usually incredibly gratuitous with sex scenes and such. If it serves the story and is essential to character development and is handled well, I love it (I don't expect everyone to be prudes), but that is not always the case.
    Uneasey Fortunes is the perfect romance! There is so much sexual tension in this book and you never read about more than kissing. That, ladies and gents, is difficult to achieve. I could not stop reading this and stayed up until 3am just so I could get to the end. And then I was half-tempted to wake my husband up.
    The characters were well-rounded, but wholesome! The only thing that bothered me was the flash backs - they took me out of the story. I just wish there had been a less abrupt way to get that information.
    It is told from both June and Pete's point of views, but it's separated and clearly distinct whose viewpoint you are experiencing the story from - yay!  The writing is effortless (which takes far more effort than one might think) and the story intoxicatingly addictive.
    It is not often that I read a book that I want to run out and tell everyone to read it (either because it was pretty good, but not noteworthy; or because my taste in books is not the norm among women that I know), but EVERYONE READ THIS BOOK!!!! You will love it!

Thank-you to Mandi Ellsworth for the free copy in exchange for an honest review!

9.5/10 stars (You know how rare this rating is for me if you've read any of my other reviews!)

Monday, June 25, 2012

Any Love but Mine

Any Love but Mine (Book One of The Erosians)
by Debbie Davies

Kindle Edition290 pages
Published March 3rd 2012 by Night Publishing

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

Look but don't touch has never been more true...

The gods forbade her to love, but love is a powerful force. Acacia has been created purely for Eros' pleasure but discovers within moments of being summoned into his presence that he has no interest in her whatsoever. Rejected, she is banished to Earth to serve as Eros' minion with the task of promoting the blissful state of love among all those around her, a state she must never indulge in with a human being herself on pain of immediate destruction. And then comes Josh, someone whose power of attraction over Acacia is so intense she will find it utterly impossible to resist him. But is he human? Is he a god? Or is he a trick of the gods? 
And what would happen should they kiss?


This book is a fun change to the YA literature I've read lately.  Acacia is a strong character with a likable personality.  I really enjoyed her story!  She's easy to relate to and drew me into her life.  I so wanted to give this book five stars but two things stopped me.  Acacia's inner dialogue about Josh and her own life was a little too verbose.  By half-way through the book or so it wasn't a problem, but it caused the first part of the book to lag in places for me.  Further in, the pace of the book is great- I couldn't stop reading to the end!  Second, the number of typos was a bit of a distraction from the plot.  Don't let that stop you from reading it- it's worth it!  Overall, I thought the story was really fun!  I think teens would really enjoy it!  I hope the next book comes out soon- I want to know what happens!

3.5/5 stars

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Lucy in the Sky

Lucy in the SkyLucy in the Sky
by John Vorhaus

Published April 23, 2012
328 pages

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

A coming-of-age tale set in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1969, Lucy in the Sky lightly touches on such weighty issues as the meaning of life, the purpose of art and the existence of God. For those interested in answers to The Big Questions or just keen to revisit a simpler time, Lucy in the Sky promises a fun and compelling trip – and that’s trip in every sense of the word. Gene Steen is an earnest, intelligent, truth-seeking teen stuck in the cultural wasteland of his suburban home. He wants to be a hippie in the worst way, but hippies are scarce on the ground in the forlorn Midwest of Gene’s 15th year. Then, propitiously on the Summer Solstice, his life is turned upside down by the arrival of his lively, lovely, long-lost cousin Lucy. She’s hip beyond Gene’s wildest dreams and immediately takes him under her wing. Lucy teaches Gene that being a hippie isn’t about love beads and peace signs, but about the choices you make and the stands you take. Yet for all her airy insights into religion, philosophy and “the isness of it all,” Lucy harbors dark secrets – secrets that will soon put her on the run, with Gene by her side. Lucy in the Sky resonates of such classics as Summer of ’42 and Zen in the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, and invites the reader into a richly detailed vision of the ‘60s, as realized by Vorhaus’s sure-handed prose and authentic sense of place and time. With frank talk about sex and drugs, Vorhaus pulls no punches about the realities of the era, yet delivers an uplifting message about personal power and the path to enlightenment. A rewarding read for young seekers and old geezers alike.

* * *

Huh. I don't quite know what to say about this book. It wasn't quite what I expected from the blurb. 

It's very well-written. The characters are fully developed. The era is portrayed expertly. I just felt like almost nothing happened. (Unless you count the near-constant sex fest.) I had a hard time getting through it.

I do know people who will love this book. And I know others who will hate it.

I think on this book, I'm going to refrain from rating. Just because I can't decide which aspects outweigh the others.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Friday Feature: 44

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!

44 (44, #1)44 (44, #1)
by Jools Sinclair

158 pages
Published March 10, 2011

Last year after falling through the ice, seventeen-year-old Abby Craig woke up from death - but she woke into a world she barely recognizes. She can't see colors, memories have been erased, and her friends all hate her. And then there's Jesse, who she loves, but who refuses to forgive her the one mistake she made long ago.

Just when she thinks it can't get any worse, the visions begin. In them, she sees a faceless serial killer roaming the streets. While the police believe that there have been a lot of accidents in town lately, Abby knows differently. And she soon realizes that it's up to her to find him. But to stop him, she'll have to confront more than just the killer. She'll have to face something else that was lost in those dark waters: the truth.

* * *

I actually enjoyed this book more than I expected to.

The title, "44," comes from the fact that Abby was dead for 44 minutes.

Wouldn't you be absolutely terrified if you were seeing real-life murders in your dreams? And then, to finally see the face of the killer, to recognize him? To know that you've seen the killer before, while you were awake.

I thought Ms. Sinclair did a great job. I'm excited to read what happens next!

4/5 stars

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Once a Witch (Witch #1)

Once a Witch (Witch #1)

Tamsin Greene comes from a long line of witches, and she was supposed to be one of the most Talented among them. But Tamsin's magic never showed up. Now seventeen, Tamsin attends boarding school in Manhattan, far from her family. But when a handsome young professor mistakes her for her very Talented sister, Tamsin agrees to find a lost family heirloom for him. The search—and the stranger—will prove to be more sinister than they first appeared, ultimately sending Tamsin on a treasure hunt through time that will unlock the secret of her true identity, unearth the sins of her family, and unleash a power so vengeful that it could destroy them all. This is a spellbinding display of storytelling that will exhilarate, enthrall, and thoroughly enchant.
Overall, I really enjoyed Once a Witch. The first chapters set the stage for the plot but seemed a little slow to me. To be fair, that could be because I read the sequel, Always a Witch first so I was ready to jump in with the fun style which develops later in the first book and continues in the second. You can find my review of Always a Witch here. The plot is fun and the characters are personable. I think many people can relate to Tamsin, the main character. She doesn't quite fit in the world she's born into and is searching for a way to find her own life while looking for a way to be accepted by her family. I liked the plot development and by the end I was hooked!
3/5 stars

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


by Peter Anthony Kelley

Published January 9, 2012

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

For siblings Jim and Erica Winters, a summer vacation to London promises adventure and a bit of freedom from their overprotective mother. But once they arrive, they end up with more excitement than they bargained for. Their mother is kidnapped and her captors demand the one thing they can’t produce – their long-absent father.

Unable to trust the authorities, Jim and Erica set off in pursuit of their father, racing across Europe and fending off mysterious assailants. As the trail of clues dries up, help arrives in the form of a raven-haired beauty. Is she the answer to their prayers or a romantic distraction?
With the kidnapper’s deadline looming, the truth about their father’s shadowy past is revealed. In a last ditch effort to save their mother, Jim and Erica must climb high into the Swiss Alps where a perilous choice confronts them. Can they trust their father who has repeatedly betrayed them?

* * *

A middle-grade spy adventure? Hooray!

The story is told from both Jim's and Erica's points of view, and they are both great characters. Yes, they have a great adventure (if you call being chased, threatened, kidnapped, etc. great), but they're scared half the time, and worried the other half. In other words, they're believable.

In a couple of years, I plan to read this with my son. (And that's pretty high praise.)

5/5 stars

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Hell's Game

Hell's Game
by Teresa Lo
Kindle Edition
published 2012


On Halloween night in Deer Creek, Kansas, Jake Victor, Ashley and Ashton Gemini, and Kristin Grace convince Ronnie Smalls to meet them at the town cemetery, which local folklore has always rumored to be the Gateway to Hell. Their intention was only to scare him, but soon the wicked prank becomes actual horror as the group learns the Gateway is all too real. After demons snatch Ronnie and drag him to Hell, the terrified foursome vow to keep what they had seen a secret.

Two years later, the group receives a mysterious letter, an invite to play a high-stakes game in Hell. If they win, they release Ronnie’s soul as well as their own from eternal damnation. If they lose, they are stuck in Hell forever. Choosing to play, they face nightmare after nightmare as each level escalates in intensity and forces them to face the seven deadly sins.

Inspired by the legends of the Gateway to Hell in Stull, Kansas, Hell’s Game explores the cruelty that teenagers can inflict upon each other as well as the horrors that exist amongst mankind. It is a dark, action-packed young adult novel that will both scare its readers and make them question the true meaning of evil.


It has been quite a long time since I've read any horror stories, though I grew up on them. I read Stephen King by a shockingly young age. Of course, I also devoured R.L. Stine, Lois Duncan, and there's one more that I remember loving, but for the life of me cannot remember the author's name, or the name of any of the books. It is probably unhelpful to note that Hell's Game reminded me of the the books by the author whose name I can't recall.
That being said, let's talk Hell's Game! The story was engaging and a quick read. I was genuinely interested in how the game was to be played, the shifts in group dynamics between the "friends," the motives of their host, and of course, how it would end. I must say that while I guessed some the ending, most of the specifics were a surprise (which I love, of course). I liked that even the unlikeable characters had their own backgrounds that allowed you to empathize with them. And I liked that there were negative consequences to being a complete jerk.
Hell's Game is written from an omniscient point of view and Lo definitely milks it; maybe too much. I've made no secret about my general apathy toward this point of view, and the constant jumping from one character's inner thoughts to another's still feels slightly lazy. However! I don't see how Lo could have written this from just one character's point of view and still gotten the mileage out of everyone's emotional baggage. Maybe if it could have been by chapter, or at least clear breaks in between. Perhaps it would have felt cleaner to me. But, now I'm being pretty picky and completely subjective. I was never confused as to whose thoughts I was reading (which is more than I can say for House of Mirth, which is one of my all-time favorited books), it never detracted and you get used to it.
My only other complaint is the language. Be aware there are several f* words and other vulgarities. While I can tell that Lo used restraint as to the placement and that they were in character, I don't have to like it.
Overall, it was a fun and creepy escape. Thanks to the author for the free copy of Hell's Game in exchange for an honest review.
I try to rate these reviews by the kind of book they are (It isn't fair to compare a YA Horror novel to a classic Russian novel after all!) - keeping that in mind I would give Hell's Game

7.5/10 stars

Monday, June 18, 2012

Broken Ladders (Divided Decade Trilogy, #2)

Broken Ladders  (Divided Decade Trilogy, #2)


Friday, June 15, 2012

Friday Feature: The Host

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!

The Host (The Host #1)

Hardcover619 pages
Published May 6th 2008 by Little, Brown and Company

Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away. Our world has been invaded by an unseen enemy. Humans become hosts for these invaders, their minds taken over while their bodies remain intact and continue their lives apparently unchanged. Most of humanity has succumbed.

When Melanie, one of the few remaining "wild" humans, is captured, she is certain it is her end. Wanderer, the invading "soul" who has been given Melanie's body, was warned about the challenges of living inside a human: the overwhelming emotions, the glut of senses, the too-vivid memories. But there was one difficulty Wanderer didn't expect: the former tenant of her body refusing to relinquish possession of her mind.

Wanderer probes Melanie's thoughts, hoping to discover the whereabouts of the remaining human resistance. Instead, Melanie fills Wanderer's mind with visions of the man Melanie loves - Jared, a human who still lives in hiding. Unable to separate herself from her body's desires, Wanderer begins to yearn for a man she has been tasked with exposing. When outside forces make Wanderer and Melanie unwilling allies, they set off on a dangerous and uncertain search for the man they both love.


I've read this book several times and I still really love it! The characters have such vivid personalities and motives. On my first reading, I read this book twice in a row and I still wasn't ready for it to end.  One thing I really like about The Host is how it boils everything down to priorities.  Once survival becomes the center of life, all the "fluff" disappears as the focus moves to taking care of those we love.   Definitely a favorite!

5/5 stars

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Feyland: The Bright Court

Feyland: The Bright CourtFeyland: The Bright Court
by Anthea Sharp

Published May 2012
340 pages

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


Jennet Carter escaped the dark faeries of Feyland once. Now, fey magic is seeping out of the prototype game, beguiling the unwary and threatening everyone she cares about.


Tam Linn may be a hero in-game, but his real life is severely complicated. Still, he’ll do whatever it takes to stop the creatures of Feyland, even if it means pushing Jennet toward the new guy in school—the one with an inside connection to sim-gaming… and the uncanny ability to charm everyone he meets.


Despite the danger, Jennet and Tam must return to Feyland to face the magic of the Bright Court—and a powerful new enemy who won’t stop until the human world is at the mercy of the Realm of Faery.

* * *

Wow. Just---wow.

I loved the first book, and as much as I was looking forward to this one, I was a little concerned that I'd be let down. (It happens a lot with second books. I didn't need to worry. The Bright Court reminded me how much I loved The Dark Realm.

There's no need to say how happy I was to see Tam again. He's one of the best book characters I've ever read.

If there's anything that could have made this book even better, it would have been just a little bit more happening within the Feyland game. I love that place!

Anyone and everyone who enjoys fantasy, gaming, a great story, amazing characters, incredible writing, worlds that are so alive they don't stay within the pages---I could go on and on---MUST read this. If you haven't started this series yet, do not wait another second. You won't regret it!

Now comes the horribly hard, frustrating job of waiting for the next book.


10/5 stars (Yes, I know that doesn't exactly work. Deal with it.)

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Substitute

The Substitute
by Holly Barrington

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

“The Substitute” is set in an alternate Britain, where Vampires and Mortals co-exist more or less in harmony. However, that may soon be about to change . . .

Emily Brown starts her new job at Pathway Software, and at first everything goes well. She makes new friends there and her bosses are impressed so things are really looking up for Emily. Until her friend is killed. Murdered. The official account said it was a gang hit gone bad, and rumours suggest she had drugs in her possession.

However another, unofficial, report suggests that the bullet wounds were all post-mortem, and the drugs were planted on her in the morgue. It also says that she suffered multiple broken bones, cuts, contusions and…vampire bites. Everything suggests that her friend died a brutal and vicious death at the hands of a number of vampires.

Vampire and Mortal relations are, on the whole, very good. Ever since The Compact, there have been eighty five years of unprecedented peace between the two worlds. But there are some dissenters, the foremost of which are the sinister Circle of Ixiom. And Emily is about to become their bitterest enemy . . .

* * *

This was a really great twist on the vampire theme. I loved the way vampires were able to live "normal" lives, working and living alongside humans.

I think my favorite part of this book was the spy story. Yes, it's a vampire spy book. Where else are you going to get that? I'm a sucker for spy stories.

The characters were well-developed, and interesting. I loved all the Doctor Who references. (Seriously, though, who wouldn't?)

I have to say, though, that there was one drawback to this book for me. Intermixed with the actual story, there were history lessons and flashbacks. While the information was great, I would have loved to see it worked in with the story a bit more instead of being removed from the storyline to be given the information.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. Ms. Barrington has a lot going for her, and I look forward to watching her career develop.

4/5 stars

Friday, June 8, 2012

Friday Feature: Divergent

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!

Divergent (Divergent, #1)Divergent (Divergent, #1)
by Veronica Roth

487 pages
Published May 3, 2011

In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves… or it might destroy her.

Debut author Veronica Roth bursts onto the literary scene with the first book in the Divergent series—dystopian thrillers filled with electrifying decisions, heartbreaking betrayals, stunning consequences, and unexpected romance.

* * *

Okay, I know this book isn't old, by any means, but I had to use it for the Friday Feature. I just liked it that much!

This book has been on my TBR list since before it came out last year, and finally, I've gotten to it. I wish I'd moved it up the list.

I absolutely loved it. Honestly, this is one of the best dystopian books I've read. It might even be better than "Hunger Games."

While I usually try to say something about the book, I don't want to give a single thing away. Just read it. You'll be happy you did!

5/5 stars

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Candle Star (Divided Decade Trilogy, #1)

The Candle Star (Divided Decade Trilogy, #1)
by Michelle Isenhoff

Paperback168 pages
Published April 2011 by Candle Star Press

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

When Emily was a little girl, her father had taken her outside in each season and pointed out the pictures in the stars, explaining the ancient lore behind them. She wondered if he was looking up at the same stars right now.

"They're beautiful, aren't they?"

Emily started. She hadn't heard Malachi approach.

"Looks like you can just reach up and pluck one down, maybe set it in a ring," he said. "It'd be the most beautiful piece of jewelry you ever laid eyes on."

He pointed to the Big Dipper. "See the last two stars in the bowl of the spoon? They line up just right and point the way to the North Star."

Emily had learned that when she was six.

"When I was little, I remember Mama setting a candle in the window on the nights Daddy would get in late. I slept sound on those nights, confident that beacon was guiding my daddy home."

He paused as he contemplated the night sky. "The North Star is kind of like a candle God hung up special to guide His lost children home. Lot of black folks looking up at it right now, directing themselves home to freedom." Ages 10+


The Candle Star, a work of historical fiction, is the story of a girl who, after being thrown into a completely different world, comes to see the flaws in her long-held beliefs.  Growing up on a plantation in the South, Emily had never questioned slavery.  When her parents sent her up North, she found herself in a world where slavery was not only nonexistent, but was considered morally and ethically wrong.  As she tried to cling to her beliefs she saw the suffering in the lives of those around her and came to see that she had been wrong.  I love the character Malachi.  Instead of just arguing and preaching to Emily, he shows her little by little how people can live equally regardless of their race.  This book is great for late elementary grades and up.  It's appropriate and very enjoyable!

4/5 stars

Monday, June 4, 2012

Indian Maidens Bust Loose

Indian Maidens Bust LooseIndian Maidens Bust Loose
by Vidya Samson

Published April 21, 2012
313 pages

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

East and West may meet, but sometimes they shouldn't. That's what Nisha Desai's conservative Hindu family thinks when a black-sheep American aunt and her trouble-magnet teenage daughters come to visit them in India. The guests are seen as an invading force, equipped with weapons of mass corruption.

But to Nisha, the rich aunt looks like a one-woman foreign aid program and a way to escape the horrible suitors her father keeps foisting on her. She makes every effort to charm the visitors. This is not an easy task, for the aunt is a New Age space case, and the cousins’ appetite for disasters threatens to level the city of Ahmedabad. In short order, the demented cousins instigate an elopement, a public protest, and a riot that gets Nisha thrown in jail.

It's only when Nisha's father adopts a pet cow and convinces half the city it's the reincarnation of a Hindu deity that the two families are united in a common goal: to bilk thousands. The result is Madison Avenue's idea of a religious experience, which is not a controllable situation.

Indian Maidens Bust Loose is a hilarious romp in the land of cows, curry, and the Kama Sutra.

* * *

This book starts with two sisters, Nisha and Vinita, are doing everything they can to avoid having to marry the horrible prospective husbands their father keeps picking out. And they are horrible.

When the American cousins come to visit, Nisha is hoping to convince them to take her home with them and let her study journalism. She's determined to make a good impression, while everyone else---with the exception of the grandmother---are determined to make the aunt and cousins miserable.

This book is hilarious, and a very quick read (I read it in a day). There were only a few times where I wished things would speed up a little.

I have to admit, I kept forgetting the girls were as old as they were. They'd finished college, and several times I had to remind myself they weren't high school girls. It's just a cultural thing.

4/5 stars

Saturday, June 2, 2012

1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created

1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created
by Charles C Mann
537 pages
pub. Aug 9, 2011

From the author of 1491—the best-selling study of the pre-Columbian Americas—a deeply engaging new history of the most momentous biological event since the death of the dinosaurs.

More than 200 million years ago, geological forces split apart the continents. Isolated from each other, the two halves of the world developed radically different suites of plants and animals. When Christopher Columbus set foot in the Americas, he ended that separation at a stroke. Driven by the economic goal of establishing trade with China, he accidentally set off an ecological convulsion as European vessels carried thousands of species to new homes across the oceans.

The Columbian Exchange, as researchers call it, is the reason there are tomatoes in Italy, oranges in Florida, chocolates in Switzerland, and chili peppers in Thailand. More important, creatures the colonists knew nothing about hitched along for the ride. Earthworms, mosquitoes, and cockroaches; honeybees, dandelions, and African grasses; bacteria, fungi, and viruses; rats of every description—all of them rushed like eager tourists into lands that had never seen their like before, changing lives and landscapes across the planet.

Eight decades after Columbus, a Spaniard named Legazpi succeeded where Columbus had failed. He sailed west to establish continual trade with China, then the richest, most powerful country in the world. In Manila, a city Legazpi founded, silver from the Americas, mined by African and Indian slaves, was sold to Asians in return for silk for Europeans. It was the first time that goods and people from every corner of the globe were connected in a single worldwide exchange. Much as Columbus created a new world biologically, Legazpi and the Spanish empire he served created a new world economically.

As Charles C. Mann shows, the Columbian Exchange underlies much of subsequent human history. Presenting the latest research by ecologists, anthropologists, archaeologists, and historians, Mann shows how the creation of this worldwide network of ecological and economic exchange fostered the rise of Europe, devastated imperial China, convulsed Africa, and for two centuries made Mexico City—where Asia, Europe, and the new frontier of the Americas dynamically interacted—the center of the world. In such encounters, he uncovers the germ of today’s fiercest political disputes, from immigration to trade policy to culture wars.

In 1493, Charles Mann gives us an eye-opening scientific interpretation of our past, unequaled in its authority and fascination.


Wow, the summary on Goodreads is like a review in and of itself. Nevertheless, here are my thoughts as well :)

This is all about how Columbus coming to the Americas was one of the biggest pushes towards our current globalization and how that actually changed societies, economies, agriculture, and religion.

Did you know that...

Potatoes orginated in South America (most likely Brazil) and there were hundreds of varieties.

American Indians would plant small amounts of a variety of food within the forests in whatever soil was open. No plowing or fields for them.

Rice did not originate in any of the Asian countries.

Rubber trees are considered "forest" in China, but strip the soil of all its nutrients and make it unusable for years. But, because they're cheap to plant and can yield profit, acres and acres and acres of land are being planted with them.

Early European settlers weren't racist against SKIN COLOR and in fact, had many interracial marriages and children. So many, in fact, that they they tried to classify the different combinations and had dozens of different classes. (They did discriminate though! They just thought the "evil" was in the blood, not the color of skin. Not much of a distinction overall, but still interesting. That's why interracial was okay in their eyes though, because if the children had one European parent, it was thought to override the bad blood from the other parent)

This is just a handful of interesting things that were new to me. The book is well documented, thoroughly researched, and he lets you know when what he is saying is an opinion or conjecture. He's not making a case for whether globalization was bad or good (why would he? There's really no way to reverse it), but very skillfully points out the pros and cons. And that sometimes the pros are the very thing that lead to the cons.
A fascinating read! Well written and thankfully devoid of pompous, boring jargon!

10/10 stars!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Friday Feature: Keeper of Dreams

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!

Keeper of Dreams
by Orson Scott Card

656 pages
published 2008

This huge new collection of the short stories of one of Science Fiction’s most beloved and popular writers is sure to please his millions of fans. The volume contains 24 stories, Card’s new introductions for each story, and commentary on his life and work.

Like the earlier Maps in A Mirror, this collection is a definitive retrospective of the short fiction career of the writer that The Houston Post called “the best writer science fiction has to offer.”


Over 600 pages worth of short stories and jam-packed with fascinating and diverse, but almost always moving, tales. (Sci-fi, fantasy, "mormon", and realistic) One of the best things about a collection of short stories (if they're good, that is) is it's easier to put the book down at night (because if you're like me, "just one more chapter" usually ends at 4am as the book slips from my exhausted hand).
 My favorites are "Inventing Lovers on the Phone", "Feed the Baby of Love", "Dust", "50 WPM", "The Yazoo Queen", "Angles", and "Worthy to be one of Us". I would recommend this book to everyone just to read "Feed the Baby of Love" though. A very very powerful story!

Easily 10/10 stars!