Tuesday, July 19, 2016

ONE PARIS SUMMER by Denise Grover Swank

Most teens dream of visiting the City of Lights, but it feels more like a nightmare for Sophie Brooks. She and her brother are sent to Paris to spend the summer with their father, who left home a year ago without any explanation. As if his sudden abandonment weren't betrayal enough, he's about to remarry, and they’re expected to play nice with his soon-to-be wife and stepdaughter. The stepdaughter, Camille, agrees to show them around the city, but she makes it clear that she will do everything in her power to make Sophie miserable.

Sophie could deal with all the pain and humiliation if only she could practice piano. Her dream is to become a pianist, and she was supposed to spend the summer preparing for a scholarship competition. Even though her father moved to Paris to pursue his own dream, he clearly doesn't support hers. His promise to provide her with a piano goes unfulfilled.

Still, no one is immune to Paris’s charm. After a few encounters with a gorgeous French boy, Sophie finds herself warming to the city, particularly when she discovers that he can help her practice piano. There’s just one hitch—he’s a friend of Camille’s, and Camille hates Sophie. While the summer Sophie dreaded promises to become best summer of her life, one person could ruin it all.


 Opening line:

 “We are now making our final descent into Charles de Gauelle.”

Sophie does not want to be in Paris, much less live with her father and his new wife and the new stepsister. But both her mother and father insisted that Sophie and her brother Eric enjoy a few months in France.

Once there, Sophie is bullied by her stepsister and friends, she clashes with her dad and her need to be loved by him but pushing him away because he left her and she has no piano for an outlet for her emotions. Basically, her summer sucks.

Even though there is a lot Sophie can whine about, and she does, she doesn’t come across as a self-centered teenager. She’s trying her best to please everyone and be happy but there are so many elements working against her. Even the cute Parisian boy she meets doesn’t seem to like her.

I enjoyed the storyline of a blended family trying to work out for the best. Those emotions were real to me and I think will resonate with many readers. The characters were well-developed and had their own arcs throughout the story. There were characters I wanted to hug and others I wanted to throat punch. The love interest wasn’t love at first sight, thank heavens, but progressed through the story.
The setting was lovely and felt authentic (now I want to visit Paris!). Overall, I think this was a great summer read for any age and I would defiantly pass it along to any teen (or adult).

A good, clean read.

I received this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Monday, July 11, 2016

A Night Divided by Jennifer A Nielsen

  From New York Times bestselling author Jennifer A. Nielsen comes a stunning thriller about a girl who must escape to freedom after the Berlin Wall divides her family between east and west.

With the rise of the Berlin Wall, twelve-year-old Gerta finds her family divided overnight. She, her mother, and her brother Fritz live on the eastern side, controlled by the Soviets. Her father and middle brother, who had gone west in search of work, cannot return home. Gerta knows it is dangerous to watch the wall, to think forbidden thoughts of freedom, yet she can't help herself. She sees the East German soldiers with their guns trained on their own citizens; she, her family, her neighbors and friends are prisoners in their own city.

But one day, while on her way to school, Gerta spots her father on a viewing platform on the western side, pantomiming a peculiar dance. Then, when she receives a mysterious drawing, Gerta puts two and two together and concludes that her father wants Gerta and Fritz to tunnel beneath the wall, out of East Berlin. However, if they are caught, the consequences will be deadly. No one can be trusted. Will Gerta and her family find their way to freedom?


I have a hard time reading or watching anything about WWII. It hearts my heart. I literally can only read OR watch one story about the time a year. A year! That’s how much the injustices and hardships and pains and deaths weigh on me. And then I get Jennifer’s book and I HAVE to read it, even if I’d already read a WWII book this year. Why did I HAVE to read? Because Jennifer is an awesome writer and I will read anything she writes. Even if it’s just her signature on a napkin (smiley).
This story is set right about the time the Berlin Wall went up. Gerta and her family are seperated and she’s determined to reunity them, even though she’s only twelve. She’s spunky and brave and leaves the reader wondering if we can be brave too. I found myself rooting for her and her plans, especially toward the end of the book.
A good, clean read that I would recommend to all ages but especially to younger readers (sixth grade up) to help understand a little bit what went on behind the wall.

L: No
V: Scariness because of the times
S: No

Monday, July 4, 2016

The Sheriffs of Savage Wells by Sarah M. Eden

He's the most fearsome sheriff in the West. A force to be reckoned with. The stuff of legend.

So is she. . . . May the best sheriff win.

Paisley Bell knows the eccentric people of Savage Wells. From the absentminded shopkeeper who always thinks she's been robbed to the young man who has returned shell-shocked from the war, Paisley has compassion for them all. When the sheriff up and leaves town, Paisley steps up and assumes the responsibility, partly because she loves the work, but also because she needs the income to take care of her sick father. So when the town council decides that the position of sheriff should really go to a man, Paisley finds herself fighting to prove that she's the perfect candidate for the job, even though she wears a skirt.

Cade O'Brien is heartily sick of shooting people. In his many years as a lawman, Cade has seen his share of blood and violence. So when he answers an advertisement for a sheriff job in the sleepy town of Savage Wells, he believes he's found the peace and quiet he's always desired. But when he discovers that his biggest competition for the job is a woman, he begins to question his decisions.

Tension between the two begins to sizzle when both Cade and Paisley realize the attraction they have for each other, but when Paisley's former beau shows up in town, along with a band of bank robbers, the blossoming relationship between the two sheriffs is tested. They will have to work together to thwart the bank robbers and keep the town safe.


First line:

"Sheriff Cade O'Brien was heartily sick of shooting people."

And with that line we know we are about to begin a fun and witty ride into the Wild West, courtesy of Sarah M. Eden, who is also fun and witty.

The Sheriff of Savage Wells (nice name!) has up and left his post for trees. Now, Savage Wells needs a new sheriff and the application pool is full of men and one woman.
Paisley Bell filled the temporary position and feels she should keep the job. But most people is the 1800's don't think a woman should be the sheriff. Paisley is spunky and smart and the conversation between her and Cade is brilliant. Paisley is also very caring and loves her little town.
Cade O'Brien is sick of rounding up and/or shooting bad guys. He wants to move somewhere boring. Savage Wells may just be the place. He also doesn't want any complications but Paisley might be a problem to that goal.
The characters in the book are all unique and it's easy to fall in love with them.
Sarah Eden is a great storyteller and writer. You should read her books!!

Thanks to Shadow Mountain and Netgalley for the early read!

V: a tad bit
L: in this day and age? No!
S: holding hands *blushes* talk of courting *blushes*

5 STARS

Monday, June 27, 2016

Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet by Charlie N Holmberg


Maire is a baker with an extraordinary gift: she can infuse her treats with emotions and abilities, which are then passed on to those who eat them. She doesn’t know why she can do this and remembers nothing of who she is or where she came from.
When marauders raid her town, Maire is captured and sold to the eccentric Allemas, who enslaves her and demands that she produce sinister confections, including a witch’s gingerbread cottage, a living cookie boy, and size-altering cakes.
During her captivity, Maire is visited by Fyel, a ghostly being who is reluctant to reveal his connection to her. The more often they meet, the more her memories return, and she begins to piece together who and what she really is—as well as past mistakes that yield cosmic consequences.
From the author of The Paper Magician series comes a haunting and otherworldly tale of folly and consequence, forgiveness and redemption.


I have no idea how to review this book. I rate it high because the writing is great! Charlie can write! I'm just not sure how the story affected me. It's intriguing and twisty and strange and clever and what? and oh! and sigh.

Maire has amnesia. She can only remember her name. But she has a gift of baking emotions into the foods she bakes. She loves the people who took her in and are helping but soon Maire finds herself captured and sold to a strange, groudy man. Maire tries to escape and is almost crippled from a bear trap so she can't go anywhere unless the groudy man takes her. Their relationship is strange. But her time with him is kinda cool only because she's forced to bake a human-sized gingerbread house for a witch and a living gingerbread boy, among other treats.

Maire is visited by someone from her past, which keeps her sane and motivated. The more he appears to her, the more her fragmented memories start falling into place. But who they are and their place is crazy strange and unique.

This is a story of one's journey and the cosmic effects our choices make on others and the world.

V: Physical abuse and war
L: No
S: kissing, committed relationship 


5 STARS

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Deliverance ~ The Moses Chronicles vol. 2 by H.B Moore

 Experience the life of Moses as never before, following his journey from fugitive of Egypt to prophet of God. In this exhilarating follow-up to H.B. Moore’s biblical drama The Moses Chronicles: Bondage, the account of Moses’s flight from Egypt continues. Moses’s life as he knew it is over. He has chosen to stand for his beliefs at the cost of being cast out of his royal home and family. He is free of the wickedness of Egypt, but peace is not to be found, for Moses is as much an aimless wanderer as those in the nomadic tribe he encounters in the wilderness.

Exhausted by long weeks of travel, he nevertheless jumps to action when he observes a group of young women accosted by a band of Badrayan men at a communal well. These lovely daughters of Jethro are grateful for his help, and their Midianite tribe welcomes Moses with open arms. As he learns the ways of the Midianites, his kinship with Jethro grows—as does his admiration of one of Jethro’s daughters, Zipporah. But when Moses suddenly receives a burning call to free the very people he has long oppressed, will he have the courage to return to the land from which he has been exiled?



Opening line:
 "Moses's bruises had long since faded from deep purple to mottled blue, and finally to a pale yellow like the sane taht stretched beneath his feet."

Another great story based on Biblical events from Heather Moore. Her characters. setting, and story are fantastic.

The story alternates between Zipporah and Moses kept me intrigued and reading and falling in love with characters I know from the Bible but don’t really know. I loved reading about

Zipporah’s life in the desert and Moses’ transition from palace life to living as a desert nomad, how they met, and fell in love. Zipporah, Moses, Jethro, were all well-developed characters that I wished I could meet. The nomadic life was rich and full with yummy sounding food. The tribal wars were intense and realistic.

Heather always done a great job in her research and she writes in a way that weaves it all into a well-paced, tense, romantic story. Her writing is so good that sometimes I forget I’m reading fiction! BUT what if in the hereafter this story is close to the truth?

V: Tribal fighting
L: No
S: kissing

Thanks to netgalley for the advanced read in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Willowkeep by Julie Daines book review

  Charlotte Darby’s ship is sinking. Penniless and alone, she is struggling to care for herself and her young sister in the harsh seaport town of Kingston upon Hull. When a solicitor from London brings news that she is the heir to a vast estate in Kent, it seems her days of rough seas are over. Willowkeep is prosperous and grand, far too much for a shipping merchant’s daughter to manage, and she quickly comes to rely on the help of Henry Morland, the estate’s kind and handsome steward.

Henry has worked hard his entire life, but all the money he’s saved won’t be enough to get his father out of debtor’s prison. Henry’s fondness for Charlotte and her sister is only another reminder of his low status and lack of money. Though he is willing to do whatever it takes to keep Charlotte happy and looked after, as the county’s wealthiest lady, she can never be his.

Courted by a charming man of the ton, threatened by those desperate to get their hands on her money, and determined to keep her sister safe from the same fate that cost her the rest of her family, Charlotte turns to the ghost of the beheaded queen, Anne Boleyn, for help. But no matter the size of the fortune, life—and love—are never smooth sailing.


I LOVE THE COVER!

Opening line:
“Twelve thousand a year?”

Henry and Charlotte. What better named pair? I loved reading their story!

Charlotte Darby is destitute and caring for her handicapped sister when she becomes the heiress to Willowkeep. She’s a kind, strong, funny lady with a fierce sense of protection and loyalty to those she loves, especially her sister who is frightened of almost everyone. I immediately started rooting for her. She’s also lucky to have a wonderful steward who feels compelled to take of her and her sister.

Henry Morland is taken in by Charlotte’s honesty and lack of airs. And somehow, Susan, the little sister, is comfortable and comforted with him. Henry is THE sweetest person with his own flaws that make him lovable. But he can never be with Charlotte because he is beneath her socially. And Charlotte has vowed never to marry.

An added bonus to the story is the letters Charlotte writes to Anne Bolen. Loved it and the cover that goes along with this part of the story. Keep reading past the last chapter for more love and affection.
The characters are well-written, the story flows and the pace is consistent. I couldn’t put the book down. If you want a good regency romance with wit, bravery, love of family, and a possible ghost, this book is for you! It’s worth your time!



L: No
S: No
V: some tense moments

Thanks to netgalley for the advance read in exchange for my honest review!

5 STARS!

Monday, June 13, 2016

Beauty and the Clockwork Beast by Nancy Campbell Allen

 When Lucy Pickett arrives at Blackwell Manor to tend to her ailing cousin, Kate, she finds more than she bargained for. A restless ghost roams the hallways, werewolves have been reported in the area, and vampires lurk across the Scottish border. Lord Miles himself is clearly hiding a secret. He is brash and inhospitable, and does not take kindly to visitors—even one as smart and attractive as Miss Pickett. He is unsettled by the mysterious deaths of his new wife, Clara, and his sister, Marie. Working together, Miles and Lucy attempt to restore peace to Blackwell Manor. But can Lucy solve the mystery of Miles? Can she love the man—beast and all?

First line:
"It had never been proven that Lord Blackwell had killed his wife, but then the man in question hadn't actually denied it, either."

Oh my. I loved this book more than I thought I would! Because a twist on Beauty and the Beast with a twist of steampunk? I wasn't sure. But yes. I loved it.
Lucy's cousin is ill, which is very unusual for her so Lucy takes it on herself to help her get better. She arrives at Blackmoor Manor to rude servants, rumors of ghosts and murder most foul.
Lucy is smart (she's a botanist!) and witty (she takes on the Beast, er, Earl of Blackmoor) and brave (she survives so many attacks! Seriously! How many can one girl take?). She uncovers many of the mysterious surrounding the Manor and the family and in the meantime, finds herself caring for the Earl. He, on the other hand, pulls away from anyone who might betray him or hurt him and his brother. He's very protective of those close to him and doesn't give much to the wiles of women. But somehow, Lucy draws him in with her wit and spirit and bravery.
This story is set in the Victorian era with a bit steampunk, werewolves, vampires, magic and mystery and fairy tale. It's a great, clean romantic book that I would recommend to anyone.

L: No
V: animal and human attacks, poisonings, murder, but none graphic
S: kissing


5 STARS




Thanks to netgalley for the advance read in exchange for my honest review.