Thursday, October 30, 2014

Holiday Thursday Review: Christmas Bouquet

Last Christmas Caitlyn, caught a wedding bouquet. Getting married in the near future isn't in her plans, but plans often change. When Caitlyn realizes she's pregnant, she's not exactly thrilled.

Noah wants to marry her, but Caitlyn's dragging her feet. Marriage and a baby spell the end of her dream of going back to Africa and helping as a doctor there.

With hectic schedules and added pressure of trying to figure out her future, Caitlyn isn't ready to make major life choices.  Will she be able to have a family and make her dreams come true?
My Thoughts:  I love the O'Brien family but they're a bunch of meddlers when they don't get their own way. They add humor to the story. I love the family meals and seeing favorite characters again. I love seeing Caitlyn and her twin grown up. I hope her twin gets her own story next. I admired Caitlyn for wanting to help others and return to Africa, but the story didn't seem like it had enough conflict. While I enjoyed this book, it wasn't my favorite in the series. The cover and the title are a little deceiving as the book takes place during the entire year, although it starts and ends at Christmas. I wish there were more details of the season. Still, it was a fun fast entertaining read.

Cover Thoughts: Cute
Source: My Library

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Halloween

This week's topic is Top Ten Books/Movies To Read Or Watch To Get In The Halloween Spirit OR Top Ten Characters Who I Would Totally Want To Be For Halloween. Now, I don't like to be scared, so I don't watch horror movies or read scary books. I'm so much of a wimp that I can't read cozy mysteries after dark if I'm alone in the house...
Halloween Costumes: 
Katniss (Before the movie and everyone thought I was Robin Hood)

A Gallagher Girl

One day: I'd love to be Hermoine and Kat from Heist Society 

  Bonus: My Potterhead Dog

Other things that get me in the mood for Halloween

Anything pumpkin sweets

Wait Till Helen Comes: A Ghost Story
Wait til Helen Comes - LOVED this book as a kid

Plus RL Stine and Christopher Pike 
The Prom QueenSpellbound

And this movie:
Hocus Pocus

Tween Tuesday Review: Great Greene Heist

Jackson Greene is out of the con game after the last one list him a good friend and his crush.  The same girl's running for class president and the worst guy in school announces he's running against her.

Jackson knows that he can't let Keith win. Even though Gabby isn't talking to him; he has a plan.  It's ambitious and most likely it will never work. But if you're going down, it might as well be in flames.
My Thoughts: I read this book ages ago and loved it.
1. I'm a sucker for heists (books/movies)
2. All the plans (I never saw them coming)
3. Middle School  = horrible times
4. Entitlement kids got what they deserved
5. Lots of misunderstandings from the previous heist (added drama)
6. Best intentions
7. Choosing Sides
8. School Clubs (I wish I went to a school where the clubs had access to that kind of resources)
9. Power
10. Understanding people (back to the plans upon plans)

Cover Thoughts: Great
Source: My Library

Monday, October 27, 2014

An end to a trilogy Mortal Heart

* 3rd companion book in the Gave Mercy Trilogy *
Annith watched her two friends and sisters go off on missions while she patiently awaits her turn. Annith's now tired of waiting and wondering when her turn will arrive. When another sister leaves the covenant, who isn't trained as much as herself, Annith's had enough.

She's not an obedient person - someone who can be molded into the perfect person. Her determination won't let this matter lie. Upon learning her fate in the covenant, she strikes out on her own hoping to expose the truth her home and to finally learn some answers.  Does Annith find what she's been seeking all these years?
My Thoughts: I loved this trilogy. It's the perfect blend of historical fiction with romance, friendship, politics, and religion. I can't praise these books enough. For the past three years, they have been in my top picks for the year. Given I read more than 300 books a year, that's huge. Plus all three books are fantastic and each build upon the previous book. I hand these book out whenever I can at the library. I'm sorry to see this trilogy end!

Cover Thoughts Perfect
Source: BEA 2014

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Adult Review: Matter of Grave Concern

Abigail doesn't want her father's school - Aldersgate School of Medicine to close because they have no understanding of anatomy. She takes matters into her own hands. Abigail sets up a meeting with a group of grave robbers to secure a body. She's done it before, but this time it goes terrible wrong.

Max's working with Jack Hurstill - digging up bodies and selling them, but he has a secret. He's not about to let anyone ruin his plan, least of all a young girl.  When he helps Jack double cross Abigail, he think he's doing the girl a favor. Of course it backfires on him. Now Max must keep her same from Jack as all costs; he's not having another death on his hands.
My Thoughts: A great historical fiction novel - perfect for the fall.  I liked Abigail - she was sassy, feisty, and determined. She's willing to get her hands dirty for the people she loves. Her quick thinking gets her out of trouble often. I love how she wants to be a surgeon, even though her own father isn't sure this is the best course for her.  I liked Max - he's protective and gentle, but he can be scary when he wants to be.  He's a great flawed hero. It's a fascinating look at history and societal norms that isn't often talked about in books or in history.  

Cover Thoughts: Nice
Source: Sent for Review

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Mysterious Saturday Review: Inherit the Word

* Book 2 in the Cookbook Nook series
The Cookbook Nook will be hosting the annual Grill Fest - a local cooking competition. Natalie's been the winner the past 8 years and she's looking for her 9th win this year.

During the first round of the competition, someone pulls the fire alarm in the building. Everyone evacuates the shop. When they return to the competition, it's clear that Natalie's missing. They find her body in the alleyway next to the store.

Jenna becomes involved in looking for clues when a close family friend becomes the prime suspect after fighting a day eariler with the deceased. Soon, Jenna's back to asking questions and trying to piece together the mystery of that day.
My Thoughts: Another winner in this series! I loved the cooking competition - so perfect given all the similar shows on TV. The grilled cheese combinations (among other treats) made my mouth water. i like that she's taking cooking lessons from her friends.  I loved the conversations about the long cookbook titles. I loved the talk of cozy mysteries, especially noticing the ones that I've read myself. I felt horrible for Jenna and dealing with her personal life. For the record, I thought something else happened entirely when I read that letter. Still I wasn't expecting that, I sympathized with Jenna. I'm glad she had the support of her friends and family plus that cute kitten of hers to keep her mind occupied.

Cover Thoughts: Fantastic
Source: My Library 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Review: Side Effects

Whitney's mom died and five months later, her dad disappears. Her life's turned upside down. Her oldest brother returns home from med school to pick up the pieces.

Everyone starts behaving differently. Whitney needs medication to help, but they give her hallucinations (often in the form of musical numbers).  Lexi (her sister) finds solace in guys and parties. Jason (her twin) gives up baseball. Sam just tries to hold on.

When the family finds out their home's in jeopardy, they make a last ditch effort to find their dad - together. 
My Thoughts: I love Jen Calonita's books. It's a good read that reminds me of the TV show Party of Five sweet and full of drama. Everyone in the family deals with the loss of their mother and then their father in different ways - not all of them good ways, but all of them are realistic. I like how they bicker and fight like family, but also how they have each other's back. Even though Side Effects mentions romance, bullies, sports, and friendship drama, it's mostly about family.

Cover Thoughts: Ok
Source: Sent for Review

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Mini Review: All Access

Tagline from PublisherYour Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Coolest People, Places and Things!

Set-UpThis book's divided into three categories: People, Places, and Things.

The Good:
I Love the Lift and Look Pages
Great facts (fascinating, gross, and weird) 
Love the variety
Loved the history blended with the currently world

The Bad:
I wish it was longer!
Overall: Seriously cool book that any reader would enjoy.
*Sent for Review

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

What's On My Hold's List (93)

My Librarian friend Jess from I Read to Relax came up with a great idea.  It's to highlight the books on hold at the library. I usually have 20-40 items checked out at the library and another 20 items on hold. 

More Christmas Romances - here's the first post of this year's books.
The Lodge on Holly Road: 6th book in the Icicle Falls series - small town charm, great friendships, and hot romances.

Maybe this Christmas: I Love this series set in Vermont and it's a friends to lovers story!

Christmas on Chestnut Street: Set in Nantucket for a winter wedding. I love that cover.

What Christmas books are you looking forward to reading this year?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Blog Tour: Double Vision: The Alias Men

I'm happy to be hosting a spot on the blog tour, I've read and loved the first two books in the Double Vision trilogy and super excited to see how it all turns out. FT Bradley's here to answer some questions about being a spy!

1 Would you like to be a spy? Do you think you'd be good at it?
I’d be a terrible spy… I’m almost six feet tall with red hair—everyone sees me coming from a mile away. No covert gigs for me. Also, I’m a bit of a chicken, so dangerous spy missions are not something I think I’d be good at. I’m more like Linc’s gadget guy Henry in the Double Vision books: I’d rather be safe.

But I love writing about the whole secrecy surrounding spies, and there’s a wealth of story material. If you look at history, there have been spies going back to Egyptian times. It’s fascinating stuff. Spies are cool.

I do love the idea of spies, but I'm not sure I could be one either.

2 Could you break a code if you needed to?
Uhhh, only with a decoding book of some kind, like Linc has in the first book, Double Vision. I had to learn about codes and ciphers for all three Double Vision books—and the code at the end of the third book, Double Vision: The Alias Men is a real whopper. If anyone reads the book and figures it out before Linc does, send me an email! I’d love to know.

3 If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
That’s a tough one—there are so many places I’d still like to visit. Italy is at the top of my list, though. Lots of places to visit, and excellent food. I’m big on food, so a lot of places on my wish list involve dinner…

 Do you have a favorite spy from history?
Famous chef Julia Child has to be at the top of my list. Who would’ve ever expected her to be a spy?

Something I find fascinating is that throughout history, it was often female spies who were most effective in their missions, because people just didn’t expect them to have their own agenda. I love digging into history for story material like that.

Yes, I love reading about female spies and what they did differently. 

What are you working on now that the final book in the Double Trilogy is over?
I’m working on a middle-grade mystery that’s a lot of fun, but it’s still in the early writing stages. I’ll keep you posted on the latest…

Oh good! 

About Fleur:
F.T. (Fleur) Bradley is the author of the Double Vision trilogy (Harper Children’s), a series of fun spy mysteries for middle-grade readers that School Library Journal calls "a must-read for mystery fans, including reluctant readers." She lives in Colorado with her husband, two daughters and entirely too many cats. For more information on F.T. and her books, visit

The Alias Men Blog Tour:
Oct. 6-10: The Secret Files of Fairday Morrow features Double Vision: The Alias Men with a review, author interview, plus a GIVEAWAY..!
Oct. 13: Linc hangs out at the great Erik’s blog, This Kid Reviews Books. Linc talks about spy techniques he picked up on his Pandora missions. And there’s another GIVEAWAY
Oct 13:
Middle Grade Mafia interviews F.T. Bradley about writing a trilogy.
Oct. 14: Double Vision: The Alias Men is released! Have a virtual party at the YA Sleuth blog…! And follow F.T. on Twitter @FTBradleyAuthor for more kid spy fun.
Oct. 16: F.T. Bradley gives you Five Ways to Bring MG into The Classroom at the Unleashing Readers blog, plus a GIVEAWAY.
Oct. 17: Linc is interviewed by Lizzy, Fairday and Marcus over at The Secret Files of Fairday Morrow blog. A fun post!
Oct. 20: The fabulous Ms. Yingling reviews Double Vision: The Alias Men on her blog for Marvelous MG Monday…
Oct. 21: Another favorite blog, YA Book Nerd, hosts F.T. Bradley and the Double Vision trilogy, plus a GIVEAWAY
Oct. 21: F.T. Bradley hangs out at Sleuths, Spies and Alibis
Oct. 24: F.T. Bradley gives tips for parents of reluctant readers, Seven Ways to Get Your Kid to Read, at Pragmatic Mom’s blog, plus a GIVEAWAY!
Oct. 25: At the Nerdy Book Club, find F.T. Bradley’s top 10 books for reluctant readers...

Giveaway: If you want to read these books (trust me, you do!), here's your chance. We're giving away the entire trilogy! in Hardcover! and Signed!
 US only please

Top Ten Tuesday: New Series

This week's topic is new series to read. I'm breaking my list up between older titles I still need to read and new titles coming out next year that I'm super excited about. Since I'm a huge series reader, it's hard to limit these, but I'll do my best.
Older Titles:
 Shatter Me 
Charmed Life 
Ever After High 
Map to Everywhere 
Model Undercover 

Shatter Me (Shatter Me Series #1)Caitlin's Lucky Charm (Charmed Life #1)The Storybook of Legends (Ever After High Series #1)
The Map to EverywhereModel Undercover: Paris

 New Next Year: 
Court of Thorns and Roses (no cover yet)
All Fall Down 
Shadow Study 
Orphan Queen 
Red Queen

Embassy Row #1: All Fall DownShadow StudyThe Orphan QueenRed Queen

Monday, October 20, 2014

Mini Review: Industrial Revolution for Kids

Tagline from Publisher: This educational activity book introduces young readers to the Industrial Revolution through the people, places, and inventions of the time, from the incredibly wealthy Rockefellers and Carnegies and the dingy and dangerous factories of the day to the creation of new forms of transportation and communication.

Includes: timeline, photographs, bibliography, recommendations (both books and places to visit), and 21 kid friendly activities.
The chapters break up discussing the changing of the times, factories and other new jobs, tenement housing and immigrants, jobs for kids, unions and strikes, hope for a better life, and cultural changes to the country.

The Good:
The photographs are amazing and they bring history to life.
The information ranges from very poor families to the very wealthy ones.
The revolution's broken up into two time periods and shown how society advances in each
It asks the question - was it good? Yes the technology improved some lives, but it also made things harder.

The Bad:
Overall Impressions: A great book for older kids/tween readers, which gives readers plenty to think about after learning about this historical time period. 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Mysterious Saturday Review: Sealed with a Lie

 * Sequel to Two Lies and a Spy *
Kari and her brother Charlie are now living in Paris and attending an international school for spies. Kari's still reeling from finding out the truth about her parents, but she's trying to get by. Then the worst thing happens - someone kidnaps her brother.

She's not allowed to go for help;instead she must break a thief out of prison. Luckily, her annoying housemate follows her. Together, with her other friends, they hatch a plan.

Nothing is more important to Kari than her brother. She's desperate to know who took him and why. 
My Thoughts: I really enjoyed this book - for the action, the danger, the banter, and the friendship. I felt horrible for Charlie and his ordeal, I can't imagine what Kari felt as she desperately tried to save her brother. I enjoyed her banter with Evan - snarky, witty, and amusing. Gustav also added some humor into the story. Both the banter and the added humor blended nicely to defuse some of the tension in the story.  I'm curious to see where the story will go after the small cliffhanger.

Cover Thoughts: Ok
Source: My Library

Friday, October 17, 2014

Review: Percy Jackson's Greek Gods

From the Book Itself:

A publisher in New York asked me to write down what I know about the Greek gods, and I was like, Can we do this anonymously? Because I don't need the Olympians mad at me again. But if it helps you to know your Greek gods, and survive an encounter with them if they ever show up in your face, then I guess writing all this down will be my good deed for the week.
My Thoughts: A witty look at the Greek Gods and Goddesses from a demi-god who interacts with them first hand. Readers of both mythology books and Percy Jackson books will love this one. Percy Jackson describes the history of the gods and also shares a few tales from their past. Pop culture references (American Idol, Jeopardy, Friends, and more) are sprinkled through the book. Plus the illustrations are great. Pick this one up for your library!

Cover Thoughts: Great

Source: Sent for Review

Thursday, October 16, 2014

NaNoWriMo: Are you thinking about it?

I LOVE November - not just for the fall flavors, the boots, and the chilly crisp air but also because it's the one time of year that I stick to a writing schedule.

I've done NaNoWriMo for 6 years now and I'll be working on my 7th this year. I love it and here's why:

1. Everyone knows I do it, so I'm not pressured into saying yes for other things this month
2. I write Daily (or almost daily, I do take some days off)
3. The creative juices flow and I get into the heads of my characters
4. I feel accomplished after hitting my word count for the day
5. I talk about writing on twitter with other writers - and it's all encouraging
6. I know the words don't have to be perfect -they just have to be there (This was tripping me up before whenever I started writing, but thanks to the short window, now it doesn't matter. I have all the time in the world to go back and fix them.)
7. I have a plotting dinner date with my husband each year before November at the restaurant of my choice. He listens to me plot and offers suggestions when I get stuck.

So, if you're on the fence, bite the bullet and do it. You won't regret it!

Also, I've written a few handy tips here and here should you still be deciding.

When you join up, don't forget to friend me! (YA Book Nerd of course)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Books I'm Dying to Read: December Edition

Here are the books I'm looking forward to reading this month. There's still not many, so I'll be playing catch up and reading holiday romances! 

Operation Cinderella: I saw this advertised in an Ingram magazine and it caught my eye. Sounds like a good adult thriller 
Death with All the Trimmings: I've started this one and it's great so far! Love this series set in Key West. It always makes my mouth water.

Spell Booked: A new series about witches training their replacements when their spell book is stolen.
Ghost and Mrs Meyer: Book 2 in a pet friendly hotel series where a supernatural TV show has come to town for filming.
If You've Got In, Haunt it: New series about ghosts and vintage fashion

Top 10 Clues, You're Clueless: Looks really cute!
In the Cards: Debut that sounds really good

Meet Your Baker: Family bakery could be a place to heal, until someone is murdered
There's this Thing: Cute picture book for Valentine's Day