Tuesday, July 26, 2016

A quick read:

Dead River by Cyn Balog is part mystery, part ghost story, and part fairy tale. When Kiandra Levesque was seven, her mother walked into the Delaware River and drowned.  That's when Ki started hearing the river's voice whispering to her and seeing visions of the dead. Fearing that she might share her mother's fate, Ki's father packs them up and moves to Wayview, Maine, far away from any water.

Now Ki is a high school senior, and instead of going to prom, she and her boyfriend, Justin, are going white water rafting on the Dead River. She's sure everything will be fine. But once she's near the river, the voices and the visions return. Along with a handsome ghost named Jack, who wants something from her, and another ghost named Trey, who claims he's there to protect her. And when they both tell her that her mother is Mistress of the Waters and is just on the other side of the river, she doesn't know what or who to believe.

This is a very readable, if slightly superficial Ya novel. I liked the fairy tale aspect of Ki becoming Mistress of the Waters like her mother, but I kept wishing that particular part of the story had been a little more well-developed. I had questions about their respective roles and responsibilities that never quite got answered. And the way everything got wrapped up at the end, especially with the ghosts, felt just a little too convenient. But it's still a fun read. And a quick one, too. I just wish it was a book with a little more depth.

Happy Reading!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Some bookish advice:

If your mom hands you a book this week and tells you to read it because "It's such a good book; you'll love it!" -- Read it. Especially if the book happens to be Take Me With You by Catherine Ryan Hyde. Because she's right. It's not only a really good read, it's also touching, well-written, and the perfect summer road-trip book.

Here's what I loved about it:

  1. August Shroeder, the lonely high school science teacher who's headed to Yellowstone National Park with his dog, Woody, in order to sprinkle some of his son's ashes there.
  2. Seth and Henry, the two young boys who end up traveling with August while their Dad spends ninety days in jail. (Especially Henry.)
  3. The fact that on their way to Yellowstone they also visit Zions and Bryce Canyon...two national parks that I love because they're right here in Utah and they're amazing!
  4. The poignant relationship that develops between August and the two boys over the course of the summer and where it eventually leads these three unique and extremely likeable characters.
You know what? My mom was right. I did love this book. Makes me think I should've read those other books she was always telling me to read when I was growing up. Oh, well. Live and learn!

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Charmed by Charming...

"I come from a long line of dragon slayers ... I used to be one of the modern-day knights who patrol the borders between the world of man and the supernatural abyss that is its shadow. I wore non-reflective Kevlar instead of shining armor and carried a sawed-off shotgun as well as a sword ... until the day I discovered that I had been cursed by one of the monsters I used to hunt. My name is Charming by the way. John Charming. And I am not living happily ever after."

John Charming may be hunted and alone, but he's also super-fast, strong, handsome, dangerous, irreverent, wolfish and funny. If it sounds like I'm gushing, I am. I have a bit of a bookish crush on John Charming.  I also really like Sig, the blond Valkyrie he meets in Charming, Elliott James' excellent urban fantasy adventure. Sig is beautiful and tough, with supernatural powers of her own; she's as good in a fight as John, if not better, which comes in handy when they have to hunt down a dangerous vampire hive. Can you tell that I loved this novel? It's fast-paced humorous magical fun. And there's at least three more books in the series! (Which I can't wait to check out of the library because I'm already itching for another dose of the very charming John Charming.)

Happy Reading!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

A bookish update...

Just finished reading:

Quote of the week:
"You sin against yourself if you don't struggle to be everything you can be
and follow your own road regardless of where it leads you."
--Victoria Woodhull

Listening to:

Recently checked out of the library:
Miss Buncle Married by D.E. Stevenson
Office Girl by Joe Meno
Be Frank With Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson
13 Days of Midnight by Leo Hunt
Dead River by Cyn Balog

Up Next:

Happy Reading!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Amy Snow by Tracy Rees

The Where & When:  England, 1848

The Who:  Amy Snow, who is abandoned as an infant, and Aurelia Vennaway, the young heiress who saves her from freezing to death.

The What:  Despite the difference in their ages and social standings (and the objections of Aurelia's parents), Amy grows up with Aurelia at Hatville Court and becomes her friend and companion. But then Aurelia gets sick and dies. Her parents, Lord and Lady Vennaway, unceremoniously dismiss Amy from Hatville Court, ordering her never to return. But Aurelia planned for this eventuality and left Amy a very different legacy:
"...this is the start of my last treasure hunt for you. Think of my letters as the clues--each will lead on to the next. I have planned for my story to unfold just a little at a time, with every letter taking you farther from Hatville, farther from the ignominy of your treatment there:  safer and stronger and freer....Our friendship is precious and I hope that you will never regret it, but it kept you a prisoner also, tied to this house and dependent on me. Now you  can fly free, little bird! And I will help you, for you have helped me, more than you will ever know."
 So begins Amy Snow's journey. Aurelia's treasure hunt will take her across England, leading her to new friends, hidden secrets, and unexpected truths. I liked the people she met more than I did her search to uncover the secrets of Aurelia's past; I wish she could have spent more time with each of them, but she always had to move on to the next clue. Still, there are great characters in this book. Amy herself is very naive and young when she leaves Hatville Court, and I have to confess that it took me several chapters to warm up to her. But both she and the story get better as they go along. The only problem I had with this novel was the uneven pacing:  sometimes I got really caught up in the narrative and the pages just flew by, but there were other moments when I felt like the story dragged. Overall, though, it's an excellent read with a fun premise. I mean, who doesn't love a well-plotted treasure hunt?

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Art of Reading...

William Orpen -- The Window Seat, 1901
"It's never too late to be what you might have been."
--George Eliot

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Create your own Jane Austen adventure...

Title:  Lost in Austen
Author:  Emma Campbell Webster

Your mission:  You get to be Elizabeth Bennet in this choose-your-own-adventure novel.  "Equipped with only your wit and natural good sense, your mission is to marry both prudently and for love, eluding undesirable suitors and avoiding family scandals..."

My thoughts:  This book is fabulously frivolous and fun. It's a basic retelling of Pride and Prejudice, with direct passages taken from the original text, but with a few additions and subtractions. As you read you earn points in five areas: intelligence, confidence, accomplishments,connections, and fortune. They ebb and flow along with the story. As Lizzie, my fortunes quickly fell into negative numbers...and my list of failings and inferior connections grew and grew. (How did she and Darcy ever get together with all that going against her?) But it's the little asides the author throws in as she tells you to add or deduct from your points that make this book so incredibly funny. I laughed all the way through. It's not hard to make the "right" choices as you go, but I sometimes deliberately opted for the "wrong" choice just to see what would happen. (That's when the story really takes some strange and humorous turns.) If you love Pride and Prejudice, you'll like this book. I know I did. It's almost as fun to read as the Pride and Prejudice board game is to play. I even managed to get Lizzie her happy ending, which is all that really matters.

Happy Reading!