Saturday, March 31, 2012

When the Smoke Clears: A Review

Summary from back cover: After a brush with death due to equipment failure, smokejumper Alexia Allen is ordered to take time off while the incident is under investigation. She makes a last-minute decision to recuperate at her mother's home and attend her high school reunion. Yet trouble seems to be following her, and within hours of arriving home she is confronted with murder, arson--and a handsome detective.

But the conflicts ahead are nothing compared to the ghosts of her past. As she struggles to accept and forgive her family's past, she must also decide if the secret she's been guarding for the last ten years must finally come to light.

My thoughts: This book is a thrilling adventure full of twists and turns. Most of all, I love the layers to the plot. Alexia isn't just trying to find out who is trying to kill her with the help of a cute police officer (the plot of every romantic suspense). She's also dealing with her past: an abusive father who could be the one out to get her, a brother who can't be found, a mother who kicked her out the house, and the memories of a fire that was blamed on her. The character development is a nice touch and balances out wild shootouts.

Overall, a great fast read that will leave readers wanting book two. 

Loving: A Review

Warning: Spoilers

In the third book of the series, one sentence stood out to me: Your first love isn't always your forever love. Although Kingsbury had invested years in the Cody and Bailey relationship and fans had grown to love them both as they read about their growth from teenagers finding their way to adults fulfilling their God directed destiny, I could buy that after so many missed chances for happiness, it was just too late for them. (Although, it could be argued that they had so many missed opportunities for love so that the publisher could drag out more books on the same people.) At the end of the third book, I knew I would be happy with whichever guy Bailey ended up marrying.

However, this series could have been wrapped up in two books. Because it was a four-book series, I felt the author was dragging out the story lines and ended up giving us the same story from a few years ago. This book could have been called Dayne and Katy Part Two. It was the same plot, and at Bailey's wedding, they even played the same song from Dayne and Katy's wedding. I skimmed through most of the Bailey and Brandon scenes because I felt like I was rereading the Fame series.

I'm a character-driven reader. Bailey was one of my favorite characters in the Baxter series, but she became stagnant and boring. I grew tired of hearing her thoughts, going back and forth between loving Brandon and not wanting to live in LA. Readers heard all that before in Katy. I felt she  never struggled and therefore never grew. She was a flat character. I liked Brandon in the third book, but he became tedious in this book. Too perfect. Too predictable. I don't know if that's because Kingsbury based them on her family and therefore didn't want to write about their flaws, but it made for a boring read.

Cody is an amazing character. He struggled, he messed up, and he grew. I loved the Cody and Andi scene at the beach, and I love the redemption in both their lives. I didn't like how fast they "fell" for each other, but at least they seem real. The most touching scene was when Andi was able to see the little boy she gave away for adoption. Kingsbury should stick to stories like that instead of celebrity-driven plots based on her family.

Kingsbury's books have always been about real life experiences. Sometimes they are too real and I long for a happy ending. :) But, this series was too unbelievable and far-fetched to be life-changing fiction. 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Out of Sight, Out of Time: A Review

Ally Carter is my favorite YA author, and sometimes when you have a favorite author, you expect their books to be so amazing that the book is often a letdown.

That is NOT the case with the latest addition in the Gallagher Girls series.

Book five takes a darker twist than the earlier books as Cammie struggles to find out what happened to her the last four months, the time she spent on a mission to find out what the Circle wanted from her and what exactly happened to her father. The time she can no longer remember. The time that somehow changed her from a regular spy to one who can put together weapons she had not seen before and point a gun at someone without thinking twice. This book delves deeper into Cammie's character, and I enjoyed seeing a character I've liked for years grow up into a strong and resilient senior who is no longer a chameleon but a fighter.

The action in the book is more intense as secrets are revealed...secrets that go well beyond the characters in the book.

The romance is prevalent in this book. I don't want to give away too much, but it's there and readers will be happy with it.

This fifth installment will satisfy readers yet leave them wanting book six to come out tomorrow!

As I always say, there are two things I love about Carter's books. First, you can tell she takes her time writing and editing. Each little plot thread weaves together to make the overall book perfect. Second, the girls, while obviously fictional, are good examples of strong, intelligent girls. In my opinion as a librarian, today's YA needs more characters like them.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Congrats to Bethany for winning Multiple Choice. I just sent you an email.

Today, I'm giving away The Coming Storm by Tracie Peterson. This is another one I haven't read...I'm so behind on my reading. It makes me a little sad to see my reading list on my kindle and on my bookcase and even sadder when I think of how I spend my days surrounded by thousands of books I'll never have time to read.

To enter to win, leave a comment about what's coming up for you. I'm excited about the upcoming summer break. My school year has been going GREAT, but I'm in countdown mode. :)

Follow the blog and leave a second comment letting me know you follow. I'll pick a winner next week. (In case you were wondering, this is how I pick a winner. I ask someone--like my mom or a random friend who doesn't read the blog--to pick a number between 1-however many comments there are. It's not scientific, but the last few times I tried, it didn't work for me.)

I can only ship to the US.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Lone Wolf: A Review

Luke Warren spent his life researching wolves, a passion that pulled him away from his wife and two kids for two years as he lived as a member of a wolf pack. However, finding a place in the wolf world cost him everything in his human world: his wife and his son Edward, who left home at eighteen and never looked back. When Luke and his daughter Cara are involved in a serious car accident and Luke is put on life support with little chance for recovery, Luke's family must come to grips with the past and its secrets and decide Luke's future.

I love Jodi Picoult's books. I love the well-developed characters. I love that both sides of a moral/ethical/legal issue are presented and emotionalized (not sure if that's a word) while leaving the reader to decide his or her world view. I think that's what is missing most from this book: well developed characters. I am a character driven reader, and I didn't care about these characters. They were lifeless and boring. Edward finally came alive in the last 1/4 of the book, but by that time, I just wanted to see the end result.
The second problem in the book is that there is very little action. Most of the action is in the forms of Luke's memory, and the only action in those is the wolves. The plot's slow pace finally picks up towards the end, but again, it's too little too late.

As a Picoult fan, I'm disappointed in this book.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Firethrorn: A Review

In Nightshade's final ride, someone is after the team. Griffen Riddell was set up for murder and sits in jail while his team is attacked. When Kazi, a covert operative with her own set of secrets, breaks him out of prison, the two must find a way to work together to put the pieces of Nightshade back together before it's too late.

The final installment in a roller coaster ride series definitely had some loops and twists in it. The story was fast, with lots of jolts and excitement. Although I enjoyed the book, it wasn't my favorite in the series. I think the author was trying to wrap up the story lines while still keeping the fast pace, which led to some gaps and some jumps in the plot that left me shaking my head in confusion (Dante).

Overall, it was a wild read, which is what I have come to expect from Ronie Kendig's work. Fans of Christian suspense will enjoy this book, but read the books in order!

I received this book in exchange for my review. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Wolfsbane: A Review

When Danielle Roark's Army Corps of Engineers group is captured, she is tortured for six months. After escaping, she returns home to the US and charged with espionage. Forced to go back to prove her innocence, she must return to the place where she was held a prisoner. Nightshade member Canyon Metcalfe is assigned to help Danielle on her mission, and he must fight his growing feelings for her as the two are captured. Will they be able to escape with their lives and their love for each other?

This is my favorite book in the Nightshade series. I think it's because Danielle is such a strong character. I love her feisty personality and her strength after being brutally tortured. In addition, Canyon's family is a nice addition of characters, and I wish we (as readers) could find out more about them.
As always, there are enough action-packed scenes to keep the reader on the edge of his/her seat, wondering how they would survive whatever precarious situation in which they found themselves.

Fans of Christian suspense and military thrillers will devour this addition to a fantastic series.

Digitalis: A Review

Colton "Cowboy" Neeley struggles to hold it all together: raising his daughter by  himself, his flashbacks from his time served in combat, and his work with the covert military group Nightshade. When he finally allows a woman to catch his attention, will her secrets keep them apart and put the team in danger?

This book is a fast-paced thriller. The action scenes are amazing, and the author's knowledge of military life and its effects on all those involved is apparent and creates authentic characters and situations.

Digitalis is even better than Nightshade, the first book in the series. I would recommend reading them in order. You can follow the storyline without it, but you'll know (and love) the characters more if you read them in order.

Fans of Christian suspense, especially military thrillers, will not be able to put this one down!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


Congrats to Susan for winning last week. I would love to be a full-time writer. I work several jobs and find it so hard to find time to write. Some times I am so busy, I think my story in my head instead.

Also, Vera, I sent you an email. I would like to give a couple books to the school library since I am a librarian and went to private school. :)
Today, I'm giving away Multiple Choice. I haven't read it to know if it's good, but it looks cute.

I'm sorry I'm a day late. Yesterday I spent time with my friend who lost her husband in January. He was one of my childhood friends and so young--only 32. Life is so precious. Leave a comment about what you do to savor life. I feel like I am getting to know some of you regular commenters through what you share....I enjoy it.

I'll pick a winner next week.
I can only ship to the US.
I promise I am mailing the past few winners today! :)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Mother Daughter Book Club: A Review

When four sixth grade girls are forced by their mothers to join a book club, they are afraid they'll find nothing in common with each other or Little Women, the book they are assigned to read. As they muddle through middle school, the unlikely friends find they may need each other after all and that a book written a long time ago still has relevance today.

Told from all four girls' perspectives, this book has something to offer every reader looking for a character like herself. Emma struggles to fit in, Jessie's misses her mother who left the family, Megan's mother refuses to acknowledge her daughter's dreams, and Cassidy is still grieving her dad's death and her family's move from California. The typical struggles are included: boys, appearances, popularity, and dealing with family, and I think that's why tweens will enjoy this book--they'll be able to identify with the girls and their struggles.

As a librarian, I also love the parallels to the classic Little Women. Readers don't need to have read the book to follow this book, but hopefully some will go check out the Alcott's story of four girls.

Sketchy Behavior: A Review

When Kate Carter's high school art teacher assigns the class to draw a picture based on a verbal description, no one could predict that Kate's drawing would help the police find a killer. Even though the killer is caught, Kate is thrown into the spotlight as a hero and as a target for the killer's partner.

While this book is different from Mangum's usual book, it's a fun read. I love suspense books, and I really enjoyed Mangum's light-hearted approach to a mystery. Kate is a great character, and I loved her relationship with her parents (who are as different as night and day) and her outlook as she went to church for the first time (hilarious scene).

Fans of YA will enjoy this book that is a perfect balance of funny and thrilling. I hope there is a sequel!

Book Giveaway!

Congrats to Melanie for winning last week's giveaway. :)

This week, I'm giving away Three Days by Melody Carlson. There are three more days until Spring Break, and I'm so ready! One of the parts of being a school librarian I love most is the great vacations.

To enter to win, leave a message about something you love about your job. To get a second entry, follow the blog and leave a second message saying you follow.

I can only ship to the US. I'll pick a winner next week.