Saturday, July 31, 2010

THE CINDERELLA SOCIETY by Kay Cassidy ARC Review


When the Prom Queen becomes your fairy godmother…

Sixteen year old outsider, Jess Parker, gets the chance of a lifetime: an invitation to join a secret society of popular girls dedicated to defeating the mean girls of the world. The Cinderella Society guides all new recruits through its top secret ultimate life makeover. It’s all part of preparing them to face down the Wickeds and win. Determined not to let the Cindys down, Jess dives in with a passion. Finally, a chance to belong and show the world what she’s made of.

… be careful what you wish for.

Jess’s transformation wins her the heart of her dream crush and a shot at uber-popularity. Until the Wickeds–led by Jess’s arch enemy–begin targeting innocent girls in their war against the Cindys, and Jess discovers the real force behind her exclusive society. It’s a high stakes battle of good vs. evil, and the Cindys in power need Jess on special assignment. When the mission threatens to destroy her dream life come true, Jess is forced to choose between living a fairy tale and honoring the Sisterhood… and herself.

What’s a girl to do when the glass slipper fits, but she doesn’t want to wear it anymore?


I like the phrase, "Be careful what you wish for..." because reality is popularity and heart throbs are not what they seem on the outside.

Kay Cassidy has given girls a handbook for feeling good about themselves and made it into a story. I have to admit, when eagerly read the ideals of the Cinderella Society and I found myself wanting to be a better person; being nicer and doing my best.

I believe the author went from one extreme-in personalities, message and love-to get her message across, so it's not missed. Because of this, the characters have little depth. I'm hoping the sequel shows more depth because the message is in this book. Ms. Cassidy's story is message driven. The message is a good one and gives girls the power to overcome bullies and mean girls with confidence.

Jessica is a loner but also, surprisingly, a cheerleader. Her family moves around a lot and cheer is her constant. In her new school, she made the team over Lexie, who had been on the squad. Lexie is not happy to be bumped and bullies Jess. But Jess is in for a surprise when she's invited by popular to join a secretive Cinderella Society.

Who wouldn't want a pretty, confidant, kind and popular girl taking you under her wing and teach skills that will not only help you get through turbulent high school years but life.
Jessica is taught = Personality+Appearance+Strength. Jessica makes many mistakes as she tries to do what she thinks she is right but soon loses sight of who she really is inside. She has to learn to be herself.

I don't particularly care that the groups are divided into the Cindy's (Cinderella's) and Charmings, and, Wickeds and Villians but it's quickly pointed out that the Cindy's are not perfect and Wickeds are not evil.

This is a good, clean read that also teaches that alcohol, drugs and sex are not for the Cindy's. Even 'Wicked Chatter' (talking badly about yourself or others) isn't tolerated, yet, on a couple of pages, the author threw in 5-6 swear words which really seemed out of character for the story. I read the ARC and hope those words didn't make it to the final cut.
Overall, I think this is a great book for teen girls.

Rating: PG
V: Bullying
L: A few words
S: Kissing

Page 69 test:
"Remember what it means and you'll never go astray. That's the secret to surviving the Alphas."
I knew she was kidding. then I thought about her enormo binder and decided there was probably a hint of truth in there too. After surviving hundreds of pages of lessons and projects, I'd deserve every charm and then some.
"Okay, let's talk basics." Sarah Jane unbuckled and turned toward me. "The goal of the appearance part of your Power Plan is to refine your image to make you feel completely comfortable and confident."
I barely resisted pumping my fists in the air in triumph. Finally, the good stuff!
"Signature style is the ultimate example of you being comfortable in your own skin. Gaby was right about that being the key to confidence with your new look. It's where you pull all the pieces together-hair, makeup, wardrobe, accessories-to show who you really are.. Are you casual or glam or girly or sporty or a combination of two or three? Once you're clear on that, you've got your signature style."
To help me understand, we wandered through the park and checked out the hodge-podge of people. Skater boys with down-to-there waistbands and basketball players in cut-off muscle shirts ad high-tops. Not exactly the fashion mecca you'd expect for a Power Plan intro,
SJ slowed in front of a baseball diamond where I recognized some kids from school. Some teachers too.
"This is the annual Student-Teacher Summer Slam," she explained. "The teachers and students always play each other for bragging rights the next year. Yesterday was the basketball game-we crushed 'em-and today's the baseball game."

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

THE GOLDEN SPIRAL by Lisa Mangum


His eyes. His touch. His kiss. Dante was unlike anyone Abby had ever met. Now he’s gone, and Abby will do anything to get him back… The hourglass door has closed behind Dante, sending him back in time to hunt down Zo, Tony, and V. Abby knows that Dante, as a Master of Time, is the only one who can stop them from destroying time itself. She also knows that he will need her help. But almost immediately, things start to change and Abby’s worst fears are realized when Zo begins targeting her past specifically. With each new change that ripples into her present, Abby’s life continues to spiral out of control. Her relationships with Jason, Natalie, and even her family, are threatened to the breaking point – and beyond. Zo’s power is greater than Abby ever imagined, and as she struggles to free Dante, she receives help from an unexpected – and unlikely – ally. As Abby’s world fractures around her, she must face a terrible truth: either Dante didn’t make it through the door, or he is lost forever. So with Dante’s blueprints in hand, she begins construction on a new door, a new time machine that will either save Dante – or doom him. The river of time is running wild, churning up secrets and betrayals, revelations and promises. With each new turn of the river, Abby faces a new challenge. Who can she trust? And how many more changes can she survive? The bank is eroding, the barriers are thinning. And time is running out.

Interesting, well-written story. I would strongly suggest reading The Hourglass Door before picking the second installment in this trilogy. It took me quite a few chapters to get back into the swing of the story and even then I was still lost on a few details.
I felt like either I was missing something important with the whole time river idea or I was making it harder to understand than it was.
I didn't feel like I connected with character except the crazy ones. I had no sympathy for their plight.
The romance didn't make my heart thump. I actually liked Zo and his creepiness. He seemed to have more depth than Dante.
I'm debating if I want to read the last book. But in most trilogies, it seems the second book is the weakest. So maybe I should give the third a chance??

Rating: PG 13
V: Some
L: No
S: No

Page 69 test:
"By the time I woke up in the hospital four days later, he was already gone. That had been the last time I'd seen him. Until today.
I opened my eyes to check the time, and a fracture of white in the field of black caught my attention. Perhaps something had survived the blaze after all.
I ducked under the tape, carefully avoiding the burnt beams and twisted metal that lay scattered on the blackened earth.
It wasn't so easy to avoid the memories that flooded through me with each step.
Here was where the Signature Wall used to stand, collecting the names of my friends in their individual scribbles and scrawls.
Here was where Leo had tended bar, and where he had offered me his famous Midnight Kiss, filled with a story and a wish.
Here was the stage where Dante had recited his poem and where Zo and his band had played "Into the River" for the first time.
Here were the stairs that led to Dante's room, where I had forced my way to the bank to save him--only to let him go.
A sliver of white glimmered like polished bone amid the wreckage of the Dungeon. I crouched down, carefully brushing away the gray ash that coated the ground.
A delicate face smiled up at me. I recognized it immediately as the porcelain ballerina from Leo's cabinet of curiosities. I was amazed that anything had survived the fire, especially something as fragile as this. I turned her over carefully in my fingers, wiping..."

THE IRON KING by Julie Kagawa


Meghan Chase has never fit in at her small-town high school, and now, on the eve of her 16th birthday, she discovers why. When her half brother is kidnapped, Meghan is drawn into a fantastical world she never imagined--the world of Faery, where anything you see may try to eat you, and Meghan is the daughter of the summer faery king. Now she will journey into the depths of Faery to face an unknown enemy . . . and beg the help of a winter prince who might as soon kill her as let her touch his icy heart. The Iron King is the first book in the Iron Fey series.

Honestly, people! I'm getting tired of trilogies! I just want to read a good book, set it down and not have to wait for the next book!
Now that I've had my rant, I'll continue with my review...
This book was action packed from beginning to end. Meghan is of two worlds, mortal and fey. She doesn't realize her heritage until she recognizes that the strange things happening around her are not of her world. Even her BFF isn't of the mortal world.
Not until her four-year old brother is kidnapped does she come to grips with an unseen world and an adventure/quest that will take her to the depths of despair where she will find her true powers.
Of course, every good book has a love triangle, right? And of course, Meghan has to fall for the wrong guy. But he is a cute and princely guy.
There were a few errors that took me out of the story. I had to reread a few sentences and paragraphs to find the right meaning.
There is a lot of swearing in the book. I gave it three stars on goodreads because I think it takes more creativity to find a way around using expletives and get the same effect.
THE IRON KING ends well, meaning no major cliff hanger but enough to wet my appetite for the next book. Please tell me it will be good! Sometimes the second book in a trilogy is just a bridge or info dumping for the third book...

Rating: PG 13 (only because of the swearing)
V: Yes. Fighting, blood, death
L: Yes.
S: No.

Page "69" test:

"Ah, no. That's not how the joke goes," called Rob. "I say 'knock, knock,' and you're supposed to answer with 'who's there?'"
"F*** off!"
"Nope, that's still wrong." Robbie seemed unperturbed, I, however, was horrified at Ethan's language, though I knew it wasn't him. "Here," continued Rob in an amiable voice, "I'll go through the whole thing, so you'll know how to answer next time." He cleared his throat and pounded on the door again. "Knock, knock!": he bellowed. "Who's there? Puck! Puck who? Puck, who will turn you into a squealing pig and stuff you in the oven if you don't get out of our way!" And with that, he banged open the door.
The thing that looked like Ethan stood on the bed, a book in each hand. With a hiss, her hurled them at the doorway. Robbie dodged, but on paperback hit me in the stomach and I grunted.
"Please," I heard Rob mutter, and a ripple went through the air. Suddenly, all the books in the room flapped their covers, rose off the floor and shelves, and began dive-bombing Ethan like a flock of enraged seagulls. I could only stare, feeling my life get more surreal by the second. The fake Ethan hissed and snarled, swatting at the books as they buzzed around him, until on hit him smack in the face and tumbled him off the mattress. Spitting in fur, he darted under the bed. I heard claws scrabbling against the woods as his feet vanished into the crawl space.. Curses and growls drifted out from the darkness.
Robbie shook his head. "Amateurs." He sighed as the books swooping around the room froze midflight and rained to the floor with echoing thuds. "Let's go, princess."

Saturday, July 24, 2010

EVE AND THE CHOICE MADE IN EDEN by Beverly Campbell

Is the way that women evaluate their own worth affected still by the biblical story of Mother Eve? Author Beverly Campbell suggests, -In much of the literature and in most of the histories referring to women there is an undercurrent of apology, as though there is something not quite 'all right' about being a woman. In looking for the source of this unease, I came to recognize that it could be traced to accounts of the Creation and to the ever-prevalent and negative characterizations of Eve.-

She writes of three levels from which the story of Eden must be viewed: as historical fact, as a series of symbols and metaphors, and as a place for a beginning our own search for spiritual understanding and relevance in life. This compelling book may change forever your perception of our first parents and the choice they made.

This is a good book to read to refresh a women's understanding and knowledge of Eve. Women are not evil or sinful or stupid because of what Eve supposedly did in the garden. Adam and Eve were a partnership. I knew these things but it was nice to be validated by scripture and prophets that Ms. Campbell used liberally in her book.
Any woman and man would enjoy this book.
I have to add, I read any religious book with a grain of salt unless written by The First Presidency or The Twelve. There were many things in Ms. Campbell's book that I thought may be true but weren't proven yet but the church.

Rating: G
S:No
V: No
L: No


Page 69 test:

"7
The Enticer
We arrive at the question crucial to the story: Did Eve partake of the fruit with the understanding that she must do so to inaugurate mortal life, or was she completely deceived? It is at this point that laws, customs, and cultures assume sin and ignorance on the part of eve and place them in absentia upon the heads of all her daughters.
Satan appeared in that pastoral and peaceable setting and engaged Eve in conversation, focusing her attention on the fruit and making many claims. The scriptural account does not speak of her motives.. We're not shown if she differentiates the truth ("Your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil"; Genesis 3:5) from the half-truth ("Ye shall not surely die": Genesis 3:4). We are given no insight into Eve's recognition of this moment as the opportunity to begin the journey that would lead to the fulfillment of her grand mission. But we do know something of her intellect, her nature, and the teachings that had been..."

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Trapped by Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen


A forged letter, a golden vial, an ancient curse...

Her expression remained somber, but excitement crept into her voice. You are the Firstborn She...You must go to them. You want me to act as bait? Not bait, Emi. A spy. Our Trojan horse.

When Emi Warrin wakes one night to find a thief in her mother's house, she has no idea the intruder has planted a trap - a mysterious letter that will change her life forever. Lured to the Austrian Alps with Daniel, the man she loves, Emi is thrown into a perilous, mafia-like world of feuding families and a devastating curse that spans generations. As the Firstborn She - the only firstborn female in hundreds of years - only Emi can free her family from the curse that will soon afflict her as well. But for Emi to break the curse, she must delve into evil designs. As Emi struggles to understand her destiny as the Firstborn She, she learns that everything isn't as it seems and that all choices have consequences. Can Emi break the curse before it's too late?

I received this book to review. I started reading and felt like I was in a dream. I somehow or some time have read this book. It was weird...like me :)
Rhonda's newest book is a mystery/paranormal/romance story. Emi, the main character, is the first female born in years into her family and they are all anxious for her to break the curse placed on them generations ago.
I had a hard time getting into the book because of so much detail, I guess. It was interesting but a little slow. I'm also critical and guessed the bad guy from the beginning. BUT! There are many twists and turns that Rhonda takes her readers on and the ending is good.
And like any good mystery or suspense story, I wondered if the good guys were the bad guys etc.
The story of the curse is in and of itself an interesting story. Rhonda could probably write a whole book just on the curse.
The romance didn't click with me but Rhonda does introduce beautiful people :)
This is a good, clean read for any age.

Rating: PG
V: Kidnapping, fights
L: None
S: None

Page 69 Test:
"We just arrived. But so far, yes," Daniel answered.
She smiled, glancing at me and then at Daniel again. "I hope I am not bothering you, but I heard you speak of Traugott. I am a tour guide. Would you like me to take you there?"
I stared. "Yes!"
The woman grinned back.
Taking hold of my arm, Daniel asked, "Is it far?"
"Two hours."
I looked back at the sausage cart. Hans's mother kept glancing at us as she served the two men who had stood in line with the young woman.
"I have a car," the young woman added. "I will give you a good price." She wrote the amount on a piece of paper and handed it to Daniel.
"When can we go?" I asked."I think my father might be there."
"Oh?"
"Yes. Maybe you've heard of him. His name is Alexander Tillman."
Hans's mother stared at me then, her black eyes as wide as Hans's had been when he learned we were Americans.
The young woman's face remained expressionless. "No. I do not know him. But we can go tomorrow, okay?"
"Yes, that would be great."
Daniel took his small notebook from his back pocket. "What time should we meet you?"
"Don't worry about writing it down, I told him. "I'll remember."
He ignored me.
The young woman smiled again. "We can go anytime you want. Maybe 10:00?"
"Could we start earlier?" I asked. "How about 8:00?"

Friday, July 16, 2010

INCARCERON by Catherine Fisher


Incarceron -- a futuristic prison, sealed from view, where the descendants of the original prisoners live in a dark world torn by rivalry and savagery. It is a terrifying mix of high technology -- a living building which pervades the novel as an ever-watchful, ever-vengeful character, and a typical medieval torture chamber -- chains, great halls, dungeons. A young prisoner, Finn, has haunting visions of an earlier life, and cannot believe he was born here and has always been here. In the outer world, Claudia, daughter of the Warden of Incarceron, is trapped in her own form of prison -- a futuristic world constructed beautifully to look like a past era, an imminent marriage she dreads. She knows nothing of Incarceron, except that it exists. But there comes a moment when Finn, inside Incarceron, and Claudia, outside, simultaneously find a device -- a crystal key, through which they can talk to each other. And so the plan for Finn's escape is born ...

This was an unusual read for me. I'm not sure, but I think it would be considered steam punk...
Incarceron is a prison for the undesirables and portrayed as a paradise for the outside world, to soothe their conscience. The prison is a place to contain the evil in men. But men bring the evil from inside themselves, don't they? Incarceron is a dark, scary, mean place. It sorta reminds me of Mad Max stuff like people fighting for survival.
Not only do the prisoners fight against each other, they have to out smart the prison, for the prison has a mind of it's own.
The Warden is on the Outside where a long ago king decided to stop time because if there is no time there is no bad. He has also ordered time to revert back to corsets, horses, and no electricity era. Except a few break those rules, one being The Warden. He has have electricity to watch and run the prison.
The Warden also has a daughter who is to marry a simpering, over-indulged prince who she can't stand. She was once engaged to his step-brother but the step-brother died...or did he??
Interesting twists that I DID NOT see coming and made the story a little over the top but fascinating.
I'm debating whether I want to read the next one or not. Do I want to invest that much time again to a story that is so different and unusual it almost takes me out of the story?
OK. I asked my library to order the next one...

Ratings: PG 13
V: Prison fighting.
L: A few words
S: None

Page 69 test:
"...least half an hour ago, but his impatience was hidden with iron control. If he was impatient. She didn't even know.
Now he said it. "His Lordship and I will ride out this morning, Claudia, and take a brief lunch at one p.m. exactly. Afterward we will resume our negotiations."
Over my future, she thought, but only nodded, noticing the fat lord's dismay. He couldn't' be such a fool as she seemed or the Queen wouldn't have sent him, and though he tried hard, a few shrew comments had slipped out. But he was hardly a rider.
The Warden was aware of that. Hr father had a grim humor.
As she stood he rose with her, meticulously polite, and drew the small gold watch from his pocket. The timepiece gleamed. It was beautiful, digitally accurate, and totally out of Era. It was his one eccentricity, the watch and the chain and the tiny silver cuber that hung from it.
He said, "Perhaps you'd touch the bell, Claudia. I'm afraid we've kept you long enough from your studies."
She went quickly to the green tassel by the hearth and he added without raising his head, "I spoke wit Master Jared in the garden earlier. He looked very pale. How is his health these days?"
Her fingers froze a fraction from the bell. Then she pulled it firmly. "He's ell, sir. Very well."
"He put the watch away. "'I've been considering. You won't need a tutor after your marriage, and, besides, there are several..."

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting


Violet Ambrose is grappling with two major issues: Jay Heaton and her morbid secret ability. While the sixteen-year-old is confused by her new feelings for her best friend since childhood, she is more disturbed by her “power” to sense dead bodies—or at least those that have been murdered. Since she was a little girl, she has felt the echoes the dead leave behind in the world . . . and the imprints that attach to their killers. Violet has never considered her strange talent to be a gift; it mostly just led her to find dead birds her cat had tired of playing with. But now that a serial killer has begun terrorizing her small town, and the echoes of the local girls he’s claimed haunt her daily, she realizes she might be the only person who can stop him. Despite his fierce protectiveness over her, Jay reluctantly agrees to help Violet on her quest to find the murderer—and Violet is unnerved to find herself hoping that Jay’s intentions are much more than friendly. But even as she’s falling intensely in love, Violet is getting closer and closer to discovering a killer . . . and becoming his prey herself.

Wow! For a first time author, wow!
The author was able to weave mystery, fantasy and romance into one story.
Violet has a gift of sensing the imprint of a killer on the dead, whether it's animals or people. She started noticing the gift with her cat; she could hear/smell/see the imprint of his kills on him. soon, her gift expands to people.
As she and her parents come to terms with this gift, we are introduced to her best friend, Jay, who Violet suddenly has a crush on. But Jay seems oblivious. Especially when he starts hanging out with the most popular senior girl.
Then girls start showing up dead and the author has written chapters for the killer. It's creepy to see inside the mind of the hunter as he goes after his prey.
Violet realizes she has the ability to find the killer and she enlists Jay to help her.
The romance is sweet and tender and tugs at my teen heart strings. There is some heavy making out...
The mystery has a good twist. The author does a good job foreshadowing and I picked up on many clues but missed the twist.
And the fantasy...very unique to have the ability to hear/smell/feel/see the imprints coming from the dead person and matching ones on the killer. This is something not found in any books I've read. I went back and read certain passages because I liked the way she wrote them.
I think this is a trilogy, so I'd be interested in knowing what the story lines will be.
Honestly, I'm not sure I'll read the rest. I liked the writing and story but the swearing seriously took me out of the story quite a bit...

Rating: PG 14
V: Yes. Chapters seen through the killers mind; dead bodies.
L: Yes.
S: Make out scenes.

Page 69 test:
"To her it felt like she might never break free. But somehow, even if she didn't entirely buy into it, it made her feel better just to hear him saying the words.
She would be okay.
"We should get home," she reminded him, suddenly wanting to shift the focus away from her. "Mom's probably getting pissed that we're taking so long."
"Yep, I'm sure I'm gong to get an earful about it." He patted her leg and then started the car.
Violet couldn't shake the melancholy feelings that clung to her, infiltrating every pore of her body. She leaned back and closed her eyes, wondering if the nightmares from her childhood were about to return, to haunt her sleep once more."

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Alma the Younger by H.B. Moore

Alma the Younger, son of the aging high priest, once was taught by the wisdom of the prophets. Now, ensnared by the wiles of strong drink and harlots, he’s a bitter dissenter determined to overthrow the church and lead the people into new “freedoms.” But en route to one of his malicious missions with his royal henchmen, Alma is halted by an unexpected opponent: an angel of the Lord, a messenger of the very God he has sought to defame. What unfolds is a story of miraculous redemption, a story building on the poignant Book of Mormon account to show how even the vilest of sinners can be transformed by the Savior’s amazing grace.

Another well-written Book of Mormon story from author Heather Moore.
Alma the Younger has been raised in the Church of which his father, Alma the Elder, is high priest. But along the path of life, Alma the Younger chooses to exercise his free agency and rebel against his father and the church.
He justifies his anger at his father by 'preaching' to saints that the church is wrong and leading them astray. He doesn't realize the pain he is causing, especially to his parents.
He goes too far in leading people against the chuck and God sends an angel to Alma, a answer to many prayers including Alma the Elder.
Heather has added quite a few fictional characters to give the readers more depth to the scriptural ones. But it's not hard to separate them as the fictional names are not from the Book of Mormon.
The next book from Heather to look forward to reading is AMMON.

Here is a link to her website My Writer's Lair

Rating: PG
V: Some non graphic killings and fights
L: None
S: None

Page '69' Test:

"No...we aren't," he said, the words hanging heavy in the air. he couldn't stand it any longer, and he reached out and brushed the lock of hair hat had escaped her braids.
Cassia inhaled sharply, though she didn't move. is fingers lingered near her neck as he leaned toward her, dropping his voice to a whisper. "Do you ever wonder what might have happened if--"
Voices filled the corridor on the other side of the door. He straightened and let his hand hall.
Cassia put her finger to her lips until the hallway was silent again, her gaze holding his.
Alma's heart pounded as he looked at her. It was almost enough to make him want to make peace with his parents.
"I'd better return to the banquet before someone come looking for m," she said, breaking the tension of the moment.
Alma nodded, reluctant to move aside.
She hesitated, then touched his arm. "Don't do this, Alma," she whispered. "Come back to your family, to those who love you. Even if you don't know for yourself, trust in those who do." She reached up and kissed his cheek. "Please."
He stared at her, then opened his mouth to answer, but she disappeared through the door.