Saturday, December 27, 2014

Unmade - A Interesting Mesh of Fun and Excitement

Title: Unmade (Entangled #2)
Author: Amy Rose Capetta
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers 1/13/15

Unmade is book two in the Entangled series and really needs to be read in order.  It continues the story of Cade and her friends as they try to defeat the Unmakers and find a new home for the humans.  It is very reminiscent of Battlestar Galactica at times with a little bit of Firefly thrown in when it comes to the crew.

There is some tragedy - people die that I really, really didn't want to die and it tears the remainder of the crew apart.  At times it went a little over the top with the drama, especially with Mother - but this does allow us to see a different side to many people, a darker emotional side that we really didn't know existed at first.

This is a great sci-fi series for young adults that may be new to the genre.  The types characters and a lot of the emotional concepts will be familiar to them, while the story will show them how much fun it can be to visit new an far away places.

*ARC provided by Amazon Vine in exchange for an honest review*

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Burn Brightly

Title:  All The Bright Places
Author: Jennifer Niven
Publisher: Knopf  1/6/15

Violet is the popular girl. Finch is the school freak.  Two people who would never so much as look at each other.  Until the day they both end up on the same tower, contemplating suicide.  And what starts as an ending turns out to be a beginning, but can the darkness be held at bay?


I've just finished All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven.  My eyes are red.  There's crumpled up tissue in the trash can.  I used it to wipe my eyes.  I'm even sniffling as I type.

All the Bright Places reduced me to tears.  

It's a bit challenging to write this review for a couple of reasons.  First, I don't want to spoil it for you.  Second, because I'm still feeling very emotional about it.   I am not a weepy person.  I read horror and butt-kicking action novels.  Books where things go boom.  I don't cry at books!

This is a smart, edgy, contemporary YA novel.  It's got so much sweetness and sadness that it hurts to read it at times.  About halfway through the novel, I took a break and read something else.  I knew that there was simply no way that the book didn't contain some sort of heartbreak.  And boy did it.  Heartbreak upon heartbreak mixed with love and hope.

The story is simply beautiful.  And oh, I don't want my daughter to grow up to be one of these teens. And I don't want to be these parents.

When I was a teen, I would have devoured this book.  Funny as it seems since he's a guy, Finch is like the Sylvia Plath of a new generation.  He burns brightly, but still burns.

I'm drained.  I don't think I'll read this book again, simply because I can't take it.  But I want everyone I know to read it.  And then breathe.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Christmas cookie books I love

This is the month for baking cookies.  Even if you rarely eat sweets, chances are that you make cookies some time in December.  I own a shocking number of baking books and a lot of them are specifically cookie cookbooks.  But I have a couple "go to" books for Christmas baking.

I have been a big fan of Rose Levy Beranbaum since The Cake Bible came out (that was my very first baking book) and so Rose's Christmas Cookies was my first cookie specific cookbook.  It has only 60 recipes so it is not an all-purpose cookie book.  But there are good reasons to like this book.  First, she gives measurements by weight (ounces and grams) in addition to volume -- measuring by weight will give you better results.  Second, there is a color picture for every recipe and detailed illustrations for some of the more technical creations (like the gingerbread Cathedral of Notre Dame).  And last but not least, it has some great classic Christmas cookie recipes that I love.  I haven't yet baked my way through all the recipes but have made quite a few.  I made the Mexican Wedding Cakes (aka Russian Tea Cakes) for my friend's cookie exchange a couple weeks ago.  And I use her Peanut Butter and Jelly Jewels recipe to make Peanut Butter Blossoms because her recipe is so much better than the usual one.  There is even a recipe for Bone a Fidos -- dog cookies that my Mom's dog loved.  This is a cookie book that belongs on every baker's shelf.

My church has a cookie sale every November to raise money for some ministry projects and it is my excuse to go a little crazy with baking cookies.  Most years I make between 50 and 150 dozen cookies for the sale.  At those numbers you can't get too fancy and I don't want the ingredients to cost more than they charge for a dozen cookies so I need some more basic recipes.  Icebox cookies -- where you make and chill cylinders of dough, then slice and bake -- are an efficient way to make a lot of cookies.  I can make the dough ahead of time then have a marathon baking session in the church's commercial kitchen.  So for my cookie sale baking, I rely on Taste of Home Cookies which has 620 recipes.  These are the kind of recipes your mother or neighbor would make and most have been submitted by readers of the Taste of Home magazine.  Unlike the lengthy and detailed recipes that Ms. Beranbaum writes, these are short and simple and measurements are given only by volume.  It gives me a lot of varieties of cookies to make for the sale and I usually work my way through the "slice & bake" section.  The recipe for Double Delights is a perpetual favorite.  You make a vanilla dough with chocolate chips and nuts and a chocolate dough with white chocolate chips and nuts then slice each cylinder in half lengthwise and put one half of each flavor together.  Yum!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Fans of Jeremy Bishop's Jane Harper series need to make some noise!

I hate when I get hooked on a book series only to find out that the publisher may not think it has sold enough to be worth continuing.  Bad enough when each book in the series stands more or less alone, but really frustrating when the last book leaves you with a bombshell cliffhanger ending!

Right now, this is how I feel about the Jane Harper series written by Jeremy Bishop (pen name for Jeremy Robinson).  He self-published the first book, The Sentinel and in 2013 the Amazon imprint 47North picked up that book plus the second book in the series, The Raven.  The third book is in limbo.

I need more Jane Harper and if you like feisty sarcastic ass-kicking zombie-fighting heroines, you need more Jane too.  Not to mention that these are not your stereotypical slow stupid shuffling zombies.  The zombies in The Sentinel are ancient Viking zombies awakened on an island off Greenland.

And the zombies only get better in The Raven.  Two words:  zombie whales.  Zombie. Whales.

I don't want to spoil the book so I'll just say that you really have to experience yourself the awesomeness of zombie whales.  And then there is the bombshell dropped in the last sentence that makes me want that third book so much.

So just as Peter Pan called on all the children in the world to clap their hands and believe to save Tinkerbell, Jane Harper needs all the zombie book fans to tell 47North they want more Jane.  Tweet them (@AmazonPub) or email them ( Make some noise so we can get the third book.

And if you haven't read the Jane Harper series, do yourself a favor and read them now.  Zombie Vikings.  Zombie whales.

I received an ARC of The Raven free from Amazon's Vine program in exchange for a review.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Hey, Author...Yes, You. Your Book Needs an Ending!

Note:  Most of the books in this photo are keepers that I 
have NOT wanted to throw against a wall. 

I'm noticing a theme in some of my reviews lately.   As every single book out there becomes part of The Dreaded Trilogy (okay, slight exaggeration, but a lot of them!), authors aren't ending their books. 

I'm reading along at a fevered pace.  It's epic.  I love the hero and hate the villain.  I'm hoping that YA girl chooses boy B (or C or D) or that she defeats the evil queen.  I am excited.  Suddenly, our heroine races through the castle.  She's about to confront the baddie.  The baddie sees her and smiles and…

Wait a second.  Where's the next page?

If I'm reading a physical book, I'm likely throwing the book against a wall.  If it's on Kindle, I lovingly lower my Kindle before muttering curses.  And then I write my review.  And can you guess what happens next?  Five stars becomes two or three stars because instead of ending the book feeling like I need a cigarette or a drink, I'm irritated with the author. Okay, I don't actually smoke, but you know what I mean. I feel cheated. 

The Art of the Cliffhanger is one that needs studying by many of today's authors.

I'm not sure if what I'm writing here is a rant or more of a plea.  Tie up most of the loose ends.  Yes, you can leave one or two open for the next book, but the reader should feel like something - anything - was concluded in this book. 

You see, I'm not only investing my money and time in your book, I'm investing my heart and soul.  You've left me laughing, gasping, or crying.  I'm riding this journey with you.  And I deserve an ending…even if it isn't happy.

And in exchange, I promise that I won't throw your book against the wall!


There were many good books that came out as Advanced Reading Copies this month, and there are many excellent books coming to shelves near you.   

But by general hands-up I think I can safely say that for the Unrepentant Bibliovores that Pierce Brown's GOLDEN SON was the hottest, most squee worthy ARC for December.

bookcover of GOLDEN SON (Red Rising #2) by Pierce Brown

Now we need to get down to devouring and savoring it.


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Connect...Or Else!

Author:  David Jacob Knight
Publisher:  DJK

* Note: Reader copy provided by the authors for impartial review.

Steve's life isn't what it used to be.  His wife died from cancer and his relationship with his kids seems to be dying along with it.  When the phone company comes to town, giving everyone in town a new phone called a Tether, it seems like a godsend. 

Students thrive as information is at their fingertips.  The local police can get an instant background check (and lie detector and breathalyzer) immediately.  Instant popularity apps? Check!  An X-ray feature so that you can see if students in school have weapons?  Check!  Track your children anywhere?  Check!

But it turns out the connection may be from a very darker place as everyone Steve knows seems to descend into some sort of horrific madness.

The Phone Company mixes the surreal social conscious horror of Bentley Little, with the epic, in depth eeriness of Stephen King.   While certainly ratcheted up a level or two, the things The Phone Company's Tether can do in this book are scarily plausible.  In fact, the social commentary on our current world - a world where 'likes' matter more than actual opinion and where your entire social life is based on online 'friends' - is biting, timely, and all too accurate.

Now, I used the word epic before and that's not hyperbole.  This is one of those great big reads that leaves you feeling like you've entered another world for a while.  It's a little gruesome in parts, while not being splatter-filled, and should even please those folks who are new to modern horror.

An excellent read and highly recommended!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014


bookcover of THE BOY WHO DREW MONSTERS  by Keith Donohue
3.43 STARS — 571 GoodReaders

THE BOY WHO DREW MONSTERS is an interesting book. It's part horror novel and part drama. The setting is a small island. The sort of place where the population explodes during the summer months, but where homes can be isolated and alone during the winter.

Involved in the story are two families. Both have only children who are boys, but there's a tremendous difference between the two tweens as one has been diagnosed as having Aspergers Syndrome.

This latter comes into play as it becomes a source of friction between the boys. Nick, the boy without Aspergers, is beginning to feel oppressed by their friendship which frequently seems a one-way street.  And the friction is not relegated to just the boys. As strange unexplained events begin to creep into their lives, both marriages are stressed, and we find out that there were infidelities between the couples.

From Kirkus Review:
Jack's parents and Nick are beginning to hear and see things that seem otherworldly, and it becomes clear that Jack's drawings reflect, or perhaps even create, the odd sounds and creatures. His parents, Tim and Holly, baffled by the happenings and frightened by the cracks in their marriage, try desperately to solve the growing mysteries.A sterling example of the new breed of horror: unnerving and internal with just the right number of bumps in the night.

The part of this book that really worked for me was not the horror. I never found this book scary or even tense. What I did like was the mystery of figuring out where the monsters were coming from and why they were there. What drew them from the old sunk wreckage, and why were the dead were tormenting the boys and their families.

What I actually loved was the backstory. I think Donohue perfectly caught the difficulties and emotion that comes from of dealing with a child who is 'different'. He captures the parents' anguish about not being able to help their child-- to 'fix' their child. And I felt for Jack's parents. How difficult it must be to have 'well meaning' strangers make the situation worse with their thoughtless comments.

Soooo.... good characters with a classically style horror/mystery attempt.  I found it an enjoyable read but those looking for gory horror are going to be disappointed .

**More Adult themed and nuanced.  This book is suitable for the older YA crowd.


by Keith Donohue

**all ratings from GoodReads 

Reading Information:
Page Count: 288
--See Excerpt here


by Keith Donohue


A pale yellow sun hung low in the salt sky. Winter had blown in overnight, and the cold gave an air of lonesomeness to the empty roads and deserted vacation homes. Tim loved the dying light of December and the absence of the people and set about his business with a kind of gleeful freedom. He had a dozen properties to take care of in the village and another dozen scattered on the eastern edge of the peninsula, and he had worked his way through three of the four homes on his list for the day with not a soul to bother him.

Monday, December 8, 2014

From Cornfields to Taxidermied Cats, Eccentricity Rules in Kathleen Hale's "No One Else Can Have You"

Earlier this autumn, Kathleen Hale made headlines for all the wrong reasons: not for her mad writing skillz or even the fabulously witty cover of her debut YA novel, but for her inability to cope with a Twitter comment and a negative review on Goodreads. Indeed, Hale began to conflate all dislike of her book with this single reviewer, "Blythe Harris", and became obsessed by the woman she seems herself to identified as her critic in chief. Online stalking turned to the real thing -- and then Hale, in apparent bid for understanding and sympathy, wrote about it. Even then, she didn't seem to understand just what she had done wrong; surely what mattered more than her stalking of a reviewer, Hale argued, was the possibility that that reviewer had chosen to operate under a pseudonym? Even now, six months later, the mere mention of Hale's name is still enough to ignite frenzied debate in the blogosphere.

At the time the hullabaloo broke lose, a number of copies of Hale's novel, No One Else Can Have You, were still available for members of Amazon's Vine review community to request. Since all of the members of this group blog are part of that community, we decided it would be a great opportunity to make up our own minds about the book at the heart of the controversy. Is is as dire as "Blythe" suggested? Is it subversively witty and creative? Or does it fall somewhere it between: just another edgy YA novel trying to find an audience in an increasingly crowded market?

We've read it, and rather than just post mini reviews, we though we'd have a book circle-style discussion about what worked for us -- and what didn't. Will we want to read Hale's new novel (due out in 2015) Nothing Bad Is Going to Happen? More than enough has been written and said about the "author behaving badly"; we're here to talk about the book. (Some of us blog using our own names; some, using pseudonyms or incomplete names. Whether or not we choose to use our real names has no impact on our decision to share our honest opinions about this, or any other books that we review on this blog.) So, let the discussion begin...


Suzanne: So, who found the Wisconsin setting convincing? I've heard lots of comparisons to the Coen brothers and Fargo; some say it's a similarly exaggerated view of small towns in the Midwest.

Sandy Kay: I grew up in a small town in Minnesota,  which is (for the geographically challenged) right next door to Wisconsin.  I loved Fargo and thought it was hilarious. I think the author was going for that same vibe but she doesn't have the skill to pull it off. The setting and characters in this book fell completely flat and I found myself being offended on behalf of my neighboring Cheeseheads.

JWP: As a Minnesotan who is part naturalized Wisconsinite due to geography and school association, I too found myself shaking my head at the depiction of Friendship, WI (a place that really exists, though likely not as the novel presents it just like Fargo is not in MN, but North Dakota). The part that makes less sense to me the more I think about it is actually the corn chopping that occurs at the beginning of the book. Considering the amount of farmers who rely on their crops for income, I don't feel any farmer would allow that to happen. It had zero impact on the investigation as the author presented it and added nothing to the plot.

Sandy Kay:  I completely agree about the corn chopping. It would never happen.

Jasmyn: Having visited small town Wisconsin many times, I can say that there are a few people out there that fit the stereotypes found in the book. However, finding a whole town full of nothing but?  That was a little too hard to believe. I did think it was very reminiscent of the movie Fargo.  The corn chopping blew my mind as well. So, they chopped it early (meaning it wasn't ready) and then had a fundraiser to sell it?  Made no sense.

Outlaw:  Specific to the Wisconsin 'rubes' in the book, I actually read the book long before the controversy and one of the main points in my review was that I felt folks from Wisconsin would be terribly insulted by the book.  That said, while the book was a little too quirky at times, I largely enjoyed it.

 Silea: I enjoyed the scenery descriptions, like the cornfield at the center of town, though I can't speak to any accuracy. I, too, read the book well before the excrement hit the fan, but even back then I thought that the author made nearly everyone in the town sound like they'd been dropped on their heads a few times as children. If she were describing my hometown, I'd have been offended.

Suzanne: I think my main problem with the book was what to me felt like excessive quirkiness. I loved the fact that Hale had such a distinctive voice, but everything was quirky and slightly off kilter, as if seen through one of those wacky carnival mirrors. I realize that was her choice, but it didn't work for me as a reader. It was exhausting.

Pam: The book reminded me of Twin Peaks, and I think the intent was theater of the absurd. So I don't think it was over-the-top.  Than again, I liked Green Acres.

Sandy Kay: I was ambivalent about the main character, Kippy.  I really like the idea of a socially awkward protagonist who has experienced a lot of tragic loss, but she never clicked for me. Was I just letting my feelings about the author bleed over onto the character?

JWP: I did wonder if Kippy was a weird version of a Mary Sue at times, so maybe there was character-author bleed over. It's very difficult to write a story and not have some connection to your main characters in particular.

Jasmyn: Kippy seemed like yet another overblown stereotype of every Young Adult protagonist out there. She had suffered loss, was an awkward and unpopular teenager, was smarter than the adults, had no friends, and was a whiz at school. It seemed very overdone. There was so much wrong with the girl's life that I wasn't able to really see how she felt about any one part of it.

Silea: Kippy felt very Mary-Sue to me. She was the only smart person in town, for starters. And when she reads her dead Best Friend's diary and is unfazed by the contents? That rang so utterly false.

Suzanne: I liked several elements of Kippy -- her intelligence and her sass. She wonders why she isn't getting the memos about "coordinated grief gear" when the rest of her classmates (throwing themselves into group mourning for a girl they didn't know in life) all show up in black, and says that when she thinks about vigils, "I think of a hundred ponytails bursting into flames".

Sandy Kay: I read this book after all the publicity about the author and wonder if that colored my perceptions. Perhaps I would have disliked the book less without all the background drama. Did knowing about the author affect how you felt about the book?

JWP:  I try to remain objective toward authors as much as possible because, as a creative writing major in undergrad, I understand the process of putting a story together and the many years it can take to make it click. What colored my reading more was the obvious lack of research and understanding in regard to what small town life is really like.

Jasmyn:  I actually found I enjoyed it more than I had expected after reading so much about how people didn't like it.  Perhaps I set my expectations low enough that it managed to exceed them?  I try hard to be objective, but once you know something or hear an opinion, it's hard not to consider that when reading the book. This story actually showed some potential. It needed a lot of work, mostly in the character development area, but I did find some redeeming qualities.

Suzanne: Nope. I put that behind me as soon as I started reading the book. I simply wanted to form my own opinion. The only element of the fracas that I wondered about was why Hale's loathed critic disliked the book as violently as she did. I didn't like it all that much, but to describe as the worst book I'd read this year? It didn't come close. She can write, and has a distinctive voice: talents a lot of writers lack.

Silea: I read it well before the drama and I thought it was dreadful. I think I said something to the effect that it seemed like it was written by a teenager, not for teenagers. The whole 'adults are stupid and ignore all the clever things teenagers think of' just had me seething by the end.

JWP: I often felt that the adults in Kippy's life were more caricature than characters and present only for the purposes of thwarting her investigative attempts. Thoughts regarding the depiction of law enforcement/adults in positions of authority?

Jasmyn:  I hated the law enforcement in the book.  They were the worst part of the overly stereotyped characters, in my opinion. The very first scene had me wanting to throw the book solely on the dialog from the officer. For the entire police force to be that inept, and the entire town to just go along with it, was the most unbelievable part of the story for me.

Suzanne: That was infuriating, because it required complete suspension of disbelief on the reader's part. Even knowing that this is aimed at YA readers prepared to believe that all adults are blind idiots and fools, a savvy author knows how to make a character like the sheriff blind in the right way -- to the realities of teenage life, not to reality.

Silea: The presentation of the sheriff was the most annoying and offensive part of the entire book. I almost sympathized with him at first, when he chose a villain and ignored evidence that contradicted the contrived story that implicated him. But later, Kippy comes to the sheriff with evidence that implicates the chosen suspect, and the sheriff brushes her off because she's a kid.

Sandy Kay: The character of Jim Steele worked for me as a caricature because he was close enough to real life to be funny. I once worked with a lawyer whose office was packed with taxidermied animals. Also, Steele's New York attitude in small town Wisconsin amused me. And no one objects to lawyers portrayed as arrogant idiots!

Suzanne: I got so sick of the constant references to dead, taxidermied animals....

JWP: For some reason I feel like Jim Steele should have been a pro wrestler.  The names for me are somewhat problematic in their excessive oddness.  Colt Widdacombe feels like a bad pun or inside joke that I'm not getting.

Jasmyn:  Let's not just criticize.  Was there anything that stood out that you enjoyed about the story: I actually enjoyed the mystery/sleuthing part of the book.  It reminded me of a lot of the teenager turned detective stories out there. She could have included a few hints about who the bad guy was - it did come out of nowhere, but watching Kippy follow the trail of clues was the best part.  I also enjoyed her stay at the hospital and her support group. I don't know if it was intended to be comedic but those scenes really had me grinning and chuckling.

Suzanne: I don't think that it came out of nowhere. Look at the different responses to accidents involving dead animals and attitudes to death in general. I was pretty clear as to who I thought the killer was by halfway through, even though the motivation (other than the obvious) was lacking.

JWP: I like Davey. He's damaged but he's also the one thing that really helps Kippy connect to what's happening and encourages her when no one else will. I would argue that he's the most 'real' character in the book.  I think I would have preferred him to be the main character. Also, I do think the book shows potential and the author has a sense of how to construct a story, but needed more rewrite time to develop everything better. Even though I was vastly disappointed by the suddenness of the reveal and that I felt like the final third was disconnected from the rest of the story, there was some sense of suspense throughout. Unfortunately, for me, the humor often fell short, but I can appreciate the attempt to make this a quirky, small-town tale.

Suzanne: Agreed; I loved the character of Davey. He was easily the most real and the most interesting. Yes, he was quirky, but in a good way. And vivid. For me, he was the most successful part of the entire novel.

Jasmyn: Davey was definitely a great and very well-written character.  He seemed to be the most developed in the entire book. If Kippy could have been more rounded and written with a depth similar to Davey's she would have really shone.

Pam: My favorite character was actually the diary. I found it hysterical that Kippy was caught off guard by her friend's disdain.  By the way, I seem to recall a similar use of diary in another novel.  Anyone recall what it might be? (Silea: Harry Potter? Wait, no...)

Suzanne: So, who will read Hale's new book, which will be out next year? I think I'll probably pass, although I'll be doing so based on the exaggerated eccentricities of the characters and the disappointments of the plot here, rather than the hullabaloo.

From Kathleen Hale, "Am I Being Catfished?"
The Guardian, October 18, 2014
Pam:  I won't be reading it. Reading this present book was an experiment, but I feel strongly about the inappropriate nature of her behavior. Strongly enough that I've actually deleted my reviews of Robin Wasserman's books on GoodReads because she thought Hale's behavior was okay.

Silea: I wouldn't touch it with a ten foot pole. I actively disliked her first book, and that alone is reason for me to ignore any future publications. But this is an author who stalked someone based on a single tweet. The rest was confabulation and confusion. I'm not sufficiently scared of her to delete my existing review (or to not comment here), but I'm cutting my losses.

Sandy Kay: I'll pass on the next one as well -- not because of Hale's behavior but because I didn't like this book.

JWP: Undetermined.  Hale showed she has potential, but I think she needs something that's not as much of  a stretch for her talents as No One Else Can Have You obviously was at times.

Blog Readers: What are your thoughts on the book? Join the discussion, in the comments section, below!

FTC Disclosure: Participants in this discussion received an advance review copy of the book from the publisher via the Amazon Vine program in exchange for a review containing our honest opinions. Our individual reviews may be found on the book's page on

Sunday, December 7, 2014

A great holiday gift idea for younger children: "The Cat, The Dog, Little Red, The Exploding Eggs, the Wolf, and Grandma" by Diane and Christyan Fox

Two things make me love a children's book:  an offbeat sense of humor and the opportunity to use funny voices while reading it aloud.  This book succeeds on both counts and will amuse adults as much as -- perhaps even more than -- their children.  I'm not a big fan of the overly sweet and sincere types of children's books and this one just hit my funny bone.  I laughed out loud in the children's section of the library the first time I read it.  And book pusher that I am, I forced it onto a father who was there looking at books with his children.  As part of my evil plan to ensure that every child gets a book for the holiday season, I suggest this would make a delightful gift!

Although this book is ostensibly about Little Red Riding Hood, it is really about the two main characters:  Cat and Dog.  Cat is a bit of a superior know-it-all and Dog is an overly enthusiastic goofball. Cat is reading -- or trying to read -- the story of Little Red Riding Hood to the Dog.  But Dog loves stories about super heroes and super villains and exasperates Cat with his constant interruptions and questions. Nevertheless, Dog's recap of the story after Cat finally gets to the end makes a lot of sense!  The illustrations are simple but perfectly fit the story and the text is hilarious.

I wondered if children would find this book as funny as I did, so I loaned it to a co-worker for a weekend to see how her four-year-old daughter liked it.  They read it every night. Her daughter thought it was hilarious and had to tell her Grandpa about the exploding eggs and now my co-worker thinks she might have to buy it for Christmas.  I think that is an excellent idea!

Because Cat and Dog are such characters, this book gives great opportunities to pull out some funny voices when you read it aloud.  It really begs to be read with distinctly different voices for Cat and Dog -- preferably ones that fit their personalities in the book.  It will enhance the reading experience.  There is a lot of back and forth between the two characters and the Dog is constantly interrupting the Cat so the different voices will help clarify the conversational flow as you read aloud.  (And be really fun.)

I received a free copy of this book through the Amazon Vine program in exchange for my honest  review.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Reconnaissance - When Sci-Fi Meets YA the Right Way

Reconnaissance (Paradise Reclaimed #2) by Aubrie Dionne

Title: Reconnaissance (Paradise Reclaimed #2)
Author: Aubrie Dionne
Publisher: Inkspell Publishing 4/5/13

Nova Williams has lost her one shot at Lieutenant hood and at love. Lieutenant Crophaven has promoted her rival, Andromeda, all because her lifemate, Sirius, sacrificed their mission to win back Andromeda’s love.

While sneaking out to prove Andromeda is a fake, Nova finds an alien ship hovering over their colony. Lieutenant Crophaven assigns her to a reconnaissance mission, giving her a second chance to redeem herself. Sirius must fly her and a research team to the vessel to decide if they are a threat. Thrown together with the lifemate that betrayed her, she battles with her own jealousy while her team battles for their lives.

Can she forgive Sirius in order to save her team and warn her colony?


This was an amazing sequel. The story has a lot of classic science fiction elements paired with a great cast of main characters. Book one flows directly into book two with a shift in perspectives from Andromeda to Nova - rivals since school. There is a hint of a love triangle - but it dissolves very quickly and is more of a school age crush finally ending than anything.

Most of the story takes place on the alien ship that Nova has discovered hanging out nearby. These aliens are not nice creatures. They were written brilliantly and gave me the heebie-jeebies everytime that skittered (yes, they skitter) into a room or scene. There was quite a bit of suspense as Nova and Sirius explore the ship and I loved every word of it.

The romance was really on the back burner most of the time. I knew it was there hovering in the background waiting for the right time to pop up again. It was nice not having teenage love shoved in my face every few minutes. I would highly recommend this to any sci-fi YA lovers out there.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Parallel Books in Parallel Universes - The Duplexity

I really hoped i'd like this book, as both the plot and the meta-plot (two books, each tracing one side of the universe-swap) appeal to me.

I didn't just like it. I loved it. Even the minute bits like a girl-scientist, a platonic hetero-friendship, a boy-artist, all the stuff that never seems to make its way into YA fiction felt very natural here. And yes, there was an unlikely romance that developed quickly, but it wasn't just gazing into each other's eyes and knowing instantly that they were soul mates; they actually had to get to know each other first. And the icing on the cake: no forced love triangle! In fact, no love triangle at all!

The mystery of what the heck happened to Danny weaves into Eevee's own personal renaissance to make a story that just has a life of its own. Real world obligations prevented me from reading it all in one sitting, but i totally could have. And when the sequel comes out, i'll call in sick if i have to.

Because if there's one thing wrong with this story, it's that the whole time i wished i was reading Part 2. Dystopia Danny coming to a reality that seems a lot like ours was riveting, but i'm twice as excited to read about Slacker Danny landing in dystopia.


Now That You're Here (Duplexity Part 1) 
Author: Amy Nichols
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (December 9, 2014) 
Received free of charge from the Amazon Vine program