Thursday, August 29, 2013


Max Starling's theatrical father likes to say that at twelve a boy is independent. He also likes to boast (about his acting skills, his wife's acting skills, a fortune only his family knows is metaphorical), but more than anything he likes to have adventures. Max Starling's equally theatrical mother is not a boaster but she enjoys a good adventure as much as her husband. When these two disappear, what can sort-of-theatrical Max and his not-at-all theatrical grandmother do? They have to wait to find out something, anything, and to worry, and, in Max's case, to figure out how to earn a living at the same time as he maintains his independence. This is the first of three books, all featuring the mysterious Mister Max.
Hardcover, 1st ed, 400 pages
Expected publication: September 10th 2013 by Knopf Books for Young Readers

First line:
"On a bright Sunday morning in the early years of the last century, a bellhop from the Hotel Excelsior knocked at the front door of 5 Thieves Alley, the home of William and Mary Starling of the Starling Theatrical Company, and their son, Maximilian."

A rollicking good story with mystery and solutions.
Max's parents left him while they went to live in a palace and perform. Well, Max was left accidentally. Luckily, Max's grandma lived just behind the Starling's home and was there to help Max not be a loner at the age of twelve.
Middle grade readers will enjoy this book with Max as the main character. His partner later in the book is Pia and she's a fun and fast-talking partner to Max who isn't a detective but finds solutions to problems.
Max's parents are well-known actors and own their own company and theater. When Max is left to almost live on his own, he has access to his father's costumes and acts the parts that he has seen so many times. When he needs to be a detective, he wears a certain costume or when he needs to look the part of a teacher, he wears those clothes that suit the situation.
And Max is able to solve several mysteries with his quick thinking and smarts. It was fun to try and guess the outcome of the mysteries. This is why I know middle grade readers and up will enjoy this book. It might also be fun as a book to read out loud.
This is the first book in the series and has a cliffhanger.

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


Adults who couldn't see past Max's costumes (I do realize this is MG and will appeal to MG readers)

Thanks, netgalley!


Monday, August 26, 2013

MRS. POE by Lynn Cullen

A vivid and compelling novel about a woman who becomes entangled in an affair with Edgar Allan Poe—at the same time she becomes the unwilling confidante of his much-younger wife.

It is 1845, and Frances Osgood is desperately trying to make a living as a writer in New York; not an easy task for a woman—especially one with two children and a philandering portrait painter as her husband. As Frances tries to sell her work, she finds that editors are only interested in writing similar to that of the new renegade literary sensation Edgar Allan Poe, whose poem, “The Raven” has struck a public nerve.

She meets the handsome and mysterious Poe at a literary party, and the two have an immediate connection. Poe wants Frances to meet with his wife since she claims to be an admirer of her poems, and Frances is curious to see the woman whom Edgar married.

As Frances spends more and more time with the intriguing couple, her intense attraction for Edgar brings her into dangerous territory. And Mrs. Poe, who acts like an innocent child, is actually more manipulative and threatening than she appears. As Frances and Edgar’s passionate affair escalates, Frances must decide whether she can walk away before it’s too late...

Set amidst the fascinating world of New York’s literati, this smart and sexy novel offers a unique view into the life of one of history’s most unforgettable literary figures.

Hardcover, 336 pages

Expected publication: October 1st 2013 by Gallery Books (first published September 10th 2013)

First line
"When given bad news, most women of my station can afford to slump onto their divans, their china cups slipping from their fingers to the carpet, their hair falling prettily from its pins, their fourteen starched petticoats compacting with a plush crunch."

Three things about this book:
1. Depressing
2. Bleak
3. Edgar Allen Poe

Franny's husband has left her alone in the world with no money and two children. A dear friend invites Franny's little family to live with them. Someone in society has decided to put on artistic gatherings where rich and poor alike can mingle and enjoy educational presentations. Franny goes and there she meets the mystery author of "THE RAVEN" whom everyone raves about.
Franny soon falls in love with "Eddie" who happens to be married. It seems he shares her affections. And while they try to be discreet with their outward demonstrations, many see through their hidings, even Poe's wife. 
Ms. Cullen had a good way of keeping the reader wondering about the sanity of the main three characters. I was also pulled in by the literary scene in New York 1845. Franny drops names through out the story from this era (like Louisa May Alcott), which I thought was fun. But overall, this book is a bit depressing. No one really gets what they want.
The ending was sad but justified.
Readers have to remember that this story is fiction, so take it all with a grain of salt.

Rating: PG 17
L: No
S: Kissing, affair
V: No

Interesting story


31/2 STARS

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

NOWHERE GIRL by A.J. Paquette

Luchi Ann only knows a few things about herself: she was born in a prison in Thailand. Her American mother was an inmate there. And now that her mother has died, Luchi must leave the only place she's ever known and set out into the world. Neither at home as a Thai, because of her fair skin and blond hair, nor as a foreigner, because of her knowledge of Thai life and traditions, Luchi feels as though she belongs nowhere. But as she embarks on an amazing adventure-a journey spanning continents and customs, harrowing danger and exhilarating experiences-she will find the family, and the home, she's always dreamed of. Weaving intricate elements of traditional Thailand into a modern-day fairy tale unique unto itself, Nowhere Girl is a beautifully rendered story of courage, resilience, and finding the one place where you truly belong.

First line:
"For the first time in days, I hear voices."

Luchi is born in a Thai prison to an American mother who is hiding from her past. Her mother dies and Luchi has to go into the world, by herself (that was disturbing to me. A little girl, alone in Thailand??). But the warden's son takes her to Bankock, where Luchi claims her family lives. There are obstacles along the way, which are sometimes conventiently taken care of.
People also showed up who helped and hindered Luchi. And sometimes that help was convenient too.
The ending felt too quick and, uh, well, convenient. It was a happy ending.
BUT this is a good book! Ms. Paquette has a beautiful writing style. I did enjoy it and I know middle grade readers would enjoy it as well.

Rated: PG
V: No
S: No
L: No

Book Cover
Luchi's growth

Last confrontation

Monday, August 19, 2013

HOW TO DELIVER A TED TALK by Jeremey Donovan

How To Deliver A TED Talk" is a complete guide for creating presentations that inspire others through your story. Based on intensive study of the most popular TEDTalks, this step-by-step playbook shows you how to select your topic, craft your narrative, master your delivery, and refine your design.

First line:
"Spread your ideas"

Good book with tips to help anyone deliver a good and motivating talk. A quick read.

Thanks to netgalley


Wednesday, August 14, 2013


For Charli Blake, being seventeen is a tough gig.
She's been branded a troublemaker, her reputation is in tatters and she's stuck in Pipers Cove, a speck of a town on the coast of Tasmania.
Thankfully, it's temporary. Her lifelong dream of travelling the world is just months away from becoming reality. All she has to do is ride out the last few months of high school, which is easier said than done thanks to a trio of mean girls known as The Beautifuls.
When Adam D├ęcarie arrives in town, all the way from New York, life takes an unexpected turn. His arrival sets off a chain of events that alters her life forever, convincing her of one thing. Fate brought him to her.
Saving Wishes is the story of a girl who doesn't quite fit the life she's living, and the boy who helps her realise why.

First line: 
"Alex, my brother, sometimes calls me wicked."

Charli wants to leave her home as soon as she graduates. The island she lives on is too small for her adventurous soul. She doesn't see herself as talented and yet, one of her pictures brings a stunning man, Adam, to the island.
Adam and Charli hit it off quick and hard and fast. Too fast for me. Adam seemed to stablize Charli even as you tried to resist the pull.
Charli's brother has taken care of her since their mother died. He owns a diner where Charli and her friend work. 
Charli made a big mistake when she was younger and some of her peers won't let her forget it. And they are jealous of the attention Adam is giving to her. 
All of these plots weave in and out of the story as we read about Charli, her actions and decisions. And her best choice comes at the end of the book. She makes an unselfish/selfish decision. 

Rating: PG 16
S: innuendos, kissing, making out,
V: bullies
L: A few words

Charli's spunk
Book cover

love at first sight
Weird familial twist

Thanks to netgalley for the copy


Monday, August 12, 2013

HOOKED by Liz Fichera

When Native American Fredricka ‘Fred’ Oday is invited to become the only girl on the school’s golf team, she can’t say no. This is an opportunity to shine, win a scholarship and go to university, something no one in her family has done.

But Fred’s presence on the team isn’t exactly welcome — especially not to rich golden boy Ryan Berenger, whose best friend was kicked off the team to make a spot for Fred.

But there’s no denying that things are happening between the girl with the killer swing and the boy with the killer smile...


First line:
"I believed that my ancestors lived among the stars."

I enjoyed this book more than I thought I would. 
Fred is your typical girl who feels she is not special and no way could any boy fall for her. 
Ryan is the typical hot boy who everyone loves. He's also a star player on the school golf team. 
Their two worlds intersect when Fred is invited to play on the all-boy golf team. And she's good. Better-than-all-the-boys good. Which doesn't fly for the other teammates.
And, she's a Native American who lives on the reservation, or rez, in a trailer and who's dad is the groundskeeper for the local golf course.
I really enjoyed reading about Fred and her heritage. I love how her friends and family watched over each other and took care of each other. 
Ryan's life is the contrast to Fred's.
I enjoyed some differences with this YA romance compared to others:
1. Fred was a girl.
2. Fred's passion was golf, and she was good.
3. Fred was Native American.

Fred was an intriguing character. But Ryan had the most growth I think. He stood up for Fred several times. I wish we could have read more about Ryan and Fred's relationship and their interactions.  A few times as I was reading, I thought of Romeo and Juliet.

The top book cover can really throw someone off reading this book so I included the other cover, which I'm not really a fan off because I can't tell what's going on...

Rating: PG 16
L: Yes. Swearing throughout (one girl likes to use the "F" word)
S: Kissing, making out
V: Fighting, bullying

Golf themed story

Romantic relationship not more developed

Thanks for netgalley for the galley

3 1/2 STARS


Wednesday, August 7, 2013


Carl Owen returns from the Civil War to find the family farm destroyed, his favorite brother dead, food scarce, and his father determined to leave the Shenandoah Valley to build a cattle empire in Colorado Territory. Crossing the continent, Carl falls in love with his brother's fiance.

First line:
"The gaunt-featured young man with the lanky build choked down the last of his moldy bread, then got to his feet and climbed atop the stone against which he'd been sitting."

I've been wanting to read one of Marsha's book for a long time! She is such a sweet person and I feel a connection to her in that we lived in the same small town in Arizona. 
Marsha's got a good handle on setting and dialogue set in the time of the Civil War. Carl left his family to serve in the war and when he got home, things had changed. Instead of being able to settle down, Carl's dad is ready to leave for Colorado and start a business he has no idea how to run. Add to that the fact that his dad has also got him a fiance, the journey will be interesting. 

Rated: PG
V: some fighting
L: No
S: Some kissing


Meddling dad :)

3 1/2 STARS

Monday, August 5, 2013

REALITY ENDS HERE by Alison Gaylin

With a major crush on an adorable pop star, annoying younger siblings, and a mom and stepdad who are too strict, Estella Blanchard is a typical teenage girl-except that her daily struggles are plotlines on the reality show
Seven Is Heaven, which relentlessly documents her life as the older half-sister of sextuplets. Estella's an Oscar-worthy actress at hiding her true feelings from the camera.

However, she can't outrun the spotlight when she receives a Christmas present from her biological father...who died ten years ago under mysterious circumstances. Blamed for this "sick prank," Estella is placed in an unorthodox support group for troubled child stars-including a twenty-three-year-old has-been, a backstabbing drama queen, and a super-cute (but very off-limits) boy bander. And, as weird as the group is, when a creepy paparazzo starts stalking her, claiming that her dad is actually alive, Estella's going to need their help to uncover the truth and stay alive.

First line:
""It happened again," said my sister Gracie."

I'm not a watcher of reality TV. I'm really not except, like, Storage Wars or Duck Dynasty and those only a few times a month. I often wonder how those on the shows fare outside of the show. 
This book gives a glimpse into one girl's life on and off a reality show. Estella is the oldest of seven, the other six are sextuplets. The step dad decided they would make a great reality show and Estella's life has been turned upside down, espeically now with ratings down. Now someone is setting her up to boast ratings...or are they??
I liked this quick, clean read. Full of intrigue, mystery and romance, I think many young readers will also enjoy this book. It has reality show stuff, teen stars and big TV/movie names. 

Thanks, netgalley

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


Quick conclusion

3 1/2 STARS