Monday, August 24, 2015

Wabanaki Blues (The Wabanaki Trilogy) by Melissa Tantaquidgeon Zobel

 Wearing a shirt for the Dead Kittens Band, complete with graphic images, was not the right choice of attire for Mona Lisa LaPierre’s senior year.  It got her some strange looks and a one-way ticket to the principal’s office.  Bigger than the shirt, though, in Mona Lisa’s mind is the mystery of what happened to Mia Delaney, a student who died in the school years before.  Wakanaki Blues by Melissa Tantaquidgeon Zobel, sets out to solve the mystery and usher Mona Lisa into adulthood.
            Mona Lisa is not an average high school student.  Her parents are serious academics and chase their interests all over the world.  Mona plays the blues on her trusty guitar, Rosalita.  She immerses herself in music and in her ability to sense spirits.  When a flirtation with a classmate seems set to move forward, Mona Lisa is forced to move to her grandfather’s rustic cabin.  It is here, with her grandfather, her other relatives, and the spirit of her ancestors that she is able to move more fully into herself.
            There are so many good things about this book.  First, the characters are not stock, standard cutouts.  They are interesting and complex.  Mona Lisa is not your typical, vapid high schooler and neither are her love interests.  The Mohegan and Abenaki cultures are presented as integral to life, and their traditions are celebrated and validated.  I liked this in particular.  I felt as though Mona Lisa had an identity—she belonged somewhere.  In addition, her family—from her grumpy grandfather to her aunt, Black Racer Woman, were well-drawn characters.
            My issue with Wakanaki Blues was the plot.  It was all over the place.  First, I thought the main plot was about solving Mia’s murder.  (It is solved).  Then, I thought the book was a coming of age story about her finding a boyfriend.  Then, it became a book about her music career.  (Both her and a love interest are mentioned as becoming famous, and then it is rarely mentioned again).  Finally, I thought it might be a book about family reconciliation.  Having finished the book, I am still not sure plot is central to the book.  The multiple plot-lines were not confusing to me—they were just not complete or fully realized.  This really affected my enjoyment of the novel.
            I applaud the settings and characterizations of the novel, but the plot fell flat for me.  A tighter focus (and some showing and not telling) would make this novel more compelling.

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  Regina

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Miss Mayhem (Rebel Belle #2) by Rachel Hawkins

Life is almost back to normal for Harper Price. The Ephors have been silent after their deadly attack at Cotillion months ago, and her best friend, Bee, has returned after a mysterious disappearance. Now Harper can focus on the important things in life: school, canoodling with David (her nemesis-turned-ward-slash-boyfie), and even competing in the Miss Pine Grove pageant.

Unfortunately, supernatural chores are never done. The Ephors have decided they’d rather train David than kill him. The catch: Harper has to come along for the ride, but she can’t stay David’s Paladin unless she undergoes an ancient trial that will either kill her . . . or make her more powerful than ever. 

Miss Mayhem was the continuation of the book I reviewed a while ago, Rebel Belle. The main character Harper is finally starting to find peace in her hectic life as the new Paladin. Her boyfriend, David the oracle, and ex-boyfriend, Ryan the mage, have both brought her spirits up after losing her best friend, Bee, during the fight at Cotillion. The unlikely band have started to change events that could happen around their town from good to bad, all because of David’s visions. 

Unbeknownst to David, Ryan and Harper have put a spell on him so that he will only receive these small visions, for the fear that he might let the Oracle in him become more powerful then his own soul. When David receives a vision that the Ephors, the secret society to only wanted to kill David not too long ago, want to see him and his friends, they take a trip out to see them despite Harper’s complaints. Their meeting with the Ephors doesn’t go as planned when they find Bee, who is a newly trained Paladin, and find out that Harper has to complete a series of trials to test her Paladin skills and if she fails, she will die.

 After the meeting, the four teens that are wrapped up in this ancient and deadly scheme, are pushed to the limits. Their unfortunate circumstances test friendship,loyalty, love, and courage. Will Harper’s tale end in flowers and butterflies, or will her world come crashing down?

I would give Miss Mayhem a seven on my “Amazingly Fabulous Book Scale”, for good storyline and plot twists. There may be some inappropriate content in this book, so please choose carefully when picking for younger readers.

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  Hannah

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Young Adult Giveaway Hop

Welcome to the Young Adult Giveaway Hop hosted by BookHounds! This hop runs from August 14 - August 21st and all blogs on the hop are having a young adult book giveaway in some format.

We are giving away a $10.00 Amazon Gift Card!

Just fill out the Rafflecopter to enter and then scroll down and hop to the next blog on the hop.  Have fun & Good luck!!

Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave

There are secrets you share, and secrets you hide….
Growing up on her family’s Sonoma vineyard, Georgia Ford learned some important secrets. The secret number of grapes it takes to make a bottle of wine: eight hundred. The secret ingredient in her mother’s lasagna: chocolate. The secret behind ending a fight: hold hands.
But just a week before her wedding, thirty-year-old Georgia discovers her beloved fiancé has been keeping a secret so explosive, it will change their lives forever.
Georgia does what she’s always done: she returns to the family vineyard, expecting the comfort of her long-married parents, and her brothers, and everything familiar. But it turns out her fiancĂ© is not the only one who’s been keeping secrets….

Eight Hundred Grapes is a wonderful book that tells the story of a family in crisis.  Every person is trying to do the right thing but unfortunately they are messing it all up.
Georgia runs out on her fiance and runs back to the last place she thought she would go, home.  Her parents are separated and selling the family vineyard, a place that Georgia turned her back on.  The one place she actually feels most at home.
Unfortunately she meets the man buying her family’s livelihood and she doesn’t like him one bit.  Then her fiance shows up trying to win her back. Both men send Georgia into a tail spin that is a fun ride for her and the readers.
Then there are her parents who love each other but are having a hard time showing it.  They have decided to start over, but should they start over without each other is the question.
Finally there are Georgia’s brothers, Finn and Bobby. Twins who are always at each other’s throats.  They have a lot to work out.
The pace of this book is great.  I really enjoyed it and couldn’t put it down.  I was actually sad when I finished it.  I was sad that I wouldn’t be able to touch base with characters I had grown to love.  I’m actually hoping there is a sequel to this book.
I love Laura Dave’s writing.  She really knows how to make you like characters even when you want to hate them.  She brings to life the scenes and scenery on each page.
I would highly recommend this book to everyone.  Such a good story about a family that is flawed (and they know it) and falling about; and how they get back together.
Laura Dave is the author of the critically acclaimed novels Eight Hundred Grapes, The First Husband, The Divorce Party, and London Is the Best City in America. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times; O, The Oprah Magazine; Ladies Home Journal; Glamour; Redbook; Self; and The New York Observer. Dave has appeared on the CBS Early Show, Fox and Friends, and All Things Considered; and Cosmopolitan recently named her a “Fun and Fearless Phenom” of the year. Her novels have been published in eighteen countries and have been optioned for film by Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston, and Universal Studios. Fox 2000 optioned the rights to Eight Hundred Grapes with Dave writing the screenplay.  

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Stephanie

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Jeremy Camp CD Review - I Will Follow

Absolutely delightful! I continue to be impressed with Jeremy Camp's music. Like any great artist he keeps growing and inspiring. This is one of those CD's that I don't mind letting play all the way through from beginning to end ( including the bonus tracks ). There seems to be something here to suit many tastes.

 The lyrics are as always, very uplifting and thoughtful. Camp has this way of conveying the very message of the song simply with his tone on each and every one. His songs feel very personal and deeply resonating, partly because of how his passion for what he is saying practically pours from every lyric. A few of my favorites from this album are I Will Follow, Can't Be Moved, and 'Til The End. Great songs, great voice, great album! If you enjoy songs that have a great message with a soft rock/alternative sound then I would highly suggest that you give Jeremy Camp's I Will Follow album a try.

*I received a complimentary copy of this CD in exchange for my honest review. April

Monday, August 3, 2015

What to Do with a Bad Boy (The McCauley Brothers #4) by Marie Harte

Mike McCauley had his soul mate for a precious time before she died giving birth to their son. She left him with the best boy a guy could want, so why is everyone playing matchmaker? He's sick of it . . . until he meets Delilah Webster. 

For some reason, the foul-mouthed, tattooed mechanic sets his motor running. He sees the loving woman buried within. But the closer they get, the more the pain of past wounds throws a monkey wrench into a future he's not sure he can handle...

First of all let me just say I love this title! "What to Do with a Bad Boy", hmm... I can think of a few things ;-) . Especially when the bad boy in question is as yummy as Mike McCauley. Mike is the oldest, biggest, and baddest of the McCauley brothers. But just like his brothers he has a good heart and a good head on his shoulders. One thing I think that makes Mike so appealing is that he may be tough but he has this whole other side to him, especially when it concerns his son, his family, or his deceased wife. I mean what woman wouldn't want a man that's a great father but at the same time can wipe the floor with any scumbag messing with her if it comes down to it? 

Speaking of a woman wanting a man... Del and Mike make such a good match. It really irritated me when Mike's mom kept throwing this other woman at him and such an annoying and manipulative one at that! Ugh! Then Mike ( insert big eye roll here ) trying to run from his feelings for Del and almost letting this other woman mess things up for them, had me seriously wanting to yell at him for being such an idiot.

 I loved that Del wasn't normally his type and I understand it being scary with him finally moving on from his wife's passing. I think Del was just the person to help push him. Harte did a great job with Del's character putting just the right amount of vulnerability to this strong, tatted up, lady mechanic. The other brothers have all found their match, now it's time for big bad Mike to settle down as well.

 But I think my favorite thing about the book was getting to hear Colin's point of view a few times. He's such a little cutie and I really enjoyed hearing about his antics to get Del and his dad together. If you haven't read the other books in this series you could read this book by itself but of course I think you would get more enjoyment out of it if you read the entire series. These brothers are just too yummy to pass up! ;-)  Lots of steam and that yummy tension when a stubborn man meets his equal, What to Do with a Bad Boy is a must read for romance lovers! 

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. April

Thursday, July 30, 2015

High Country Nocturne: A David Mapstone Mystery (David Mapstone Mystery #8) by Jon Talton

A cache of diamonds is stolen in Phoenix. The prime suspect is former Maricopa County Sheriff Mike Peralta, now a private investigator. Disappearing into Arizona’s mountainous High Country, Peralta leaves his business partner and longtime friend David Mapstone with a stark choice. He can cooperate with the FBI, or strike out on his own to find Peralta and what really happened.

Mapstone knows he can count on his wife Lindsey, one of the top “good hackers” in law enforcement. But what if they’ve both been betrayed? Mapstone is tested further when the new sheriff wants him back as a deputy, putting to use his historian’s expertise to solve a very special cold case. The stakes turn deadly when David and Lindsey are stalked by a trained killer whose specialty is “suiciding” her targets.

In depressed, post-recession Phoenix, every certainty has become scrambled, from the short hustle of the powerful real-estate industry to the loyalties Mapstone once took for granted. Could Peralta really be a jewel thief or worse? The deeper Mapstone digs into the world of sun-baked hustlers, corrupt cops, moneyed retirees, and mobsters, the more things are not what they seem. Ultimately, Mapstone must risk everything to find the truth.
High Country Nocturne is an ambitious, searing, and gritty novel, with a fast-paced story as hard-edged as the stolen diamonds themselves.

 An intriguing story from the start. The whole of chapter one reads “In the end, the truth was almost beside the point”. This book is about the 9th in a series about private investigator David Mapstone. Mapstone is a history major/former sheriff who has to figure out what is going on when it seems his partner shot a guard and stole some diamonds. 

The story is not only a whodunit but a “what really happened” mystery (hence the first chapter). The list of possible bad characters not only include his possible rogue partner but also the FBI, a random hit woman, and his girlfriend. The character’s (and by some extent, the author himself) love of Phoenix, Arizona is evident in the rich descriptions throughout the book.

 Not having read any books prior to this one, I’m not sure if the love expressed for what was Arizona before people and housing developments moved in is as evident in his other books. The various angles of the story coupled with such detailed descriptions of the city makes for a great story overall.

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  Roberta

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Nurses: A Year of Secrets, Drama, and Miracles with the Heroes of the Hospital by Alexandra Robbins

In this lively, fast-paced narrative, New York Times bestselling author Alexandra Robbins digs deep into the subculture of nursing, drawing readers into a brilliantly captivating in-depth investigation of the extraordinary working lives of nurses and the shocking behind-the-scenes secrets that all patients and their loved ones need to know.

The Nurses is told through the real-life stories of four women in different hospitals: Molly, funny, well-loved, and confident enough to quit a longtime job after her hospital ramps up its anti-nurse policies. Lara, a superstar nurse who tries to battle her way back from a near-ruinous prescription-drug addiction. The outspoken but compassionate Juliette, a fierce advocate for her patients. And Sam, a first-year nurse, struggling to find her way in a gossipy mean-girl climate she likens to “high school, except for the dying people.”

The result is a riveting page-turner, insightful and thought-provoking, that will leave readers feeling smarter about their healthcare and undeniably appreciative of the incredible nurses who provide it. 

Starting the book I was excited to read and see what it’s like for nurses working every day in the chaos that is their life and career. Prior to reading this book I never really thought about all the nurses that work all the time right along with the doctors. I never stopped to think about how hard the nurses work and how emotional it can be for them.

 I really enjoyed reading the different viewpoints of the nurses and getting to learn a little bit about each of them; as I finished reading about each of these people I learned how their job becomes either a small or big part of them. There were some parts in The Nurses where I laughed and other parts where I was just as mad as the nurses or where I cried as if I was the nurse having to deal with that particular situation.  

I loved how Ms. Robbins had written and put the book together. It was easy to read and the stories flowed well from one person’s story to another’s. By the end of the book I realized that the nurses are the ones who keep the doctors going and usually have to deal with the rude people more than any other medical staff. 

They do more for the patients than the doctors ever do and I feel like they should get more recognition than they do! I think The Nurses is a great way to give them some well-deserved recognition in the world. I give The Nurses and Alexandra Robbins a “10.”

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Tiffany