Monthly Archives: March 2011

Secondhand Charm

Berry, Julie. Secondhand Charm (2010). 342 Pages. Bloomsbury. $16.99

From the Cover

Deep in the forest, in a secluded village, a young girl has become known for her unique powers as a healer. Even gypsy charms– mere trinkets when worn by others– seem enchanted when Evie ties them around her neck. The love charm may be especially  potent, since Aidan, the handsome stonemason’s apprentice, has been unusually attentive lately. But Evie wants more than a quiet village and the boy next door. She longs to travel to the city, to study at University.

When His Majesty the king pays an unexpected visit for the town’s annual feast day, Evie gets her chance. He awards her a scholarship, and suddenly– accompanied by both Aidan and her best friend, Prissy– Evie is on her way. But this story is no simple fairy tale*. Her journey takes unexpected twists, from the high seas to t he royal palace. And Evie will discover not just intrigue, adventure, and romance, but a most incredible legacy… a magic within herself she is only beginning to understand.

First Lines

“What will you do when school is done, Evie?”

Priscilla peered at me through her thick spectacles. They had the unfortunate effect of making her already watery eyes swim large and fishlike. That didn’t bother me. After eight years as academic rivals at Sister Claire’s school, Priscilla and I had both decided that it was much easier being friends. And what were fish eyes between friends?

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Filed under Book Review, Children's Fiction, Fantasy, High Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult Fiction

This Girl is Different

Johnson, JJ. This Girl is Different (2011). 288 Pages. Peachtree Publishers. $16.95*

This review is pre-release: It comes out April 1, 2011

This Girl is Different CoverEvie is not your typical teenage girl. Her mother is a New-Agey hippie who has spent a lot of time raising her daughter to be a student of the world. The official word for it is “homeschooled” and in some ways, that puts Evie at a disadvantage. All she knows of normal school dynamics is what she’s seen from movies. Luckily for Eve, she’s already met Rajas and Jacinda, so she’s not completely alone in this alien environment.

Unfortunately for Eve, there’s a lot she still has to learn, and this lesson is going to be a tough one.

First Lines

I manage to grab the snake, but not without twisting my foot and falling butt-first into the creek. When I stand, lightning shoots through my ankle.

I take a long, deep yoga breath, an Ujjayi ocean breath, to be calm. Steady. Strong. Hopping on one foot, I hold the wriggling snake and scramble over to a large rock. As I unshoulder my backpack, the snake flicks its tongue at me. It must think I’m crazy.

I can think of worse things. Better crazy than mild.

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Filed under Book Review, Contemporary Romance, General Fiction, Young Adult Fiction

Call Me Irresistible

Phillips, Susan Elizabeth. Call Me Irresistible (2011). 385 Pages. HarperCollins. $25.99

Wynette, Texas | Book Six

There is a sort of chronology to these books, but they certainly don’t have to be read in order. In roughly story-order, this one is book six. Earlier books in the series told the tale of Theodore’s parents– Fancy Pants is about his early years. Seemingly he makes another appearance in Lady Be Good, and then features as the hero in Call Me Irresistible. Meg Koranda’s parents are in Glitter Baby, and Lucy Jorik’s parents are in  First Lady. I’ve read a few of those, but I’m taking my time coming up with opinions.

From the Cover

Lucy Jorik is the daughter of a former president of the United States.

Meg Koranda is the offspring of legends.

One of them is about to marry Mr. Irresistible– Ted Beaudine– the favorite son of Wynette, Texas. The other is not happy about it and is determined to save her friend from a mess of heartache.

But even though Meg knows that breaking up her best friend’s wedding is the right thing to do, no one else seems to agree. Faster than Lucy can say “I don’t,” Meg becomes the most hated woman in town– a town she’s stuck in with a dead car, an empty wallet, and a very angry bridegroom. Broke, stranded, and without her famous parents at her back, Meg is sure that she can survive on her own wits. What’s the worst that can happen? Lose her heart to the one and only Mr. Irresistible? Not likely. Not likely at all.

First Lines

More than a few residents of Wynette, Texas, thought Ted Beaudine was marrying beneath himself. It wasn’t as if the bride’s mother was still the president of the United States. Cornelia Jorik had been out of office for over a year. And Ted Beaudine was, after all, Ted Beaudine.

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Filed under Book Review, Chick-Lit, Contemporary Romance, Romance

Anniversary Giveaway

This Giveaway is now closed. Winners can be found in this post.

Well, on April 5th, this blog will have been running for a full year. (Hooray!) To celebrate this, I’ll be hosting yet-another giveaway. I have fun distributing prizes.

There are three simple steps to entering this giveaway.

  1. Click here & fill out the form. link removed, giveaway closed.
  2. Spread the word & comment for additional entries.
  3. Check back on April 5th to find out who won.

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A Girl, A Ghost, and the Hollywood Hills

Zindel, Lizabeth. A Girl, A Ghost, and the Hollywood Hills (2010). 302 Pages. Viking Juvenile. $16.99

Sometimes I have far too much fun exploring the newly-input lists at the local library, and I end up with my holds maxed out at 10 and more items I still wanted to get. This is one of those books. It’s a Hamlet spinoff, but it follows the interpretation which I don’t entirely agree with.

From the Cover

Something is twisted in the state of Cali

It’s winter break, and Holly has come home from boarding school to face her dad’s new girlfriend, Claudia– who also happens to be her mom’s sister. Gross. Holly’s mom died less than a year ago, and already Claudia has taken over her movie production company, her house, and now her husband.

Then the ghost of Holly’s mother appears, claiming that Claudia murdered her. Holly vows to avenge her mom’s death no matter what it takes, but as the stakes get higher, she starts to wonder: What does this ghost really want from her, and why?

Throw in an adorable college guy named Oliver, an all-night house party with a pack of Australian surfers, and a shopping disaster on Rodeo Drive, and you wind up with a Hamlet-inspired ghost story unlike any other.

First Lines

It was ridiculously early as I sat on the steps of Reed Hill waiting for the cab to take me to the airport. I was bundled in my favorite red peacoat and warm hat with earflaps that looked like some nice grandma had knitted it.

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Filed under Book Review, Fantasy, Horror, Paranormal, Realistic Fiction, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction

Steam & Sorcery

Pape, Cindy Spencer. Steam and Sorcery (2011). 305 Pages*. Carina Press. $5.99**

Don’t let the cover stop you. The contents of the story are much better than the cover suggests with its cheesiness.

From the Publisher

Sir Merrick Hadrian hunts monsters, both human and supernatural. A Knight of the Order of the Round Table, his use of magick*** and the technologies of steam power have made him both respected and feared. But his considerable skills are useless in the face of his greatest challenge, guardianship of five unusual children. At a loss, Merrick enlists the aid of a governess.

Miss Caroline Bristol is reluctant to work for a bachelor but she needs a position, and these former street children touch her heart. While she tends to break any mechanical device she touches, it never occurs to her that she might be something more than human. All she knows is that Merrick is the most dangerously attractive man she’s ever met– and out of reach for a mere governess.

When conspiracy threatens to blur the distinction between humans and monsters, Caroline and Merrick must join forces, and the fate of humanity hinges upon their combined skills of steam and sorcery…

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Filed under Adult Fiction, Book Review, Chick-Lit, Fantasy, High Fantasy, Historical Romance, Paranormal, Romance, Speculative Fiction

I am Tama, Lucky Cat

Heinrichs, Wendy & Yoshiko Jaeggi (illustrator). I Am Tama, Lucky Cat: A Japanese Legend (2011). 32 Pages. Peachtree Publishers. $16.95

This review is pre-release. It is due out August 1, 2011.

When I joined NetGalley.com, I spent ages scouring the books, looking for those which looked interesting. Luckily for me, I found I am Tama, Lucky Cat, fairly quickly. I am big on mythology from around the world– especially Japanese, as I was an East Asian Studies minor– so I was excited to get to see this book early*.

The Story:

Tama the Calico– and therefore Lucky– cat went in search of shelter. She was lucky enough to find a caring monk in a worn down temple. To gain entrance, she sat in front of the doorway with her paw held up in traditional maneki neko pose. She brings happiness to the monk, and one day brings him luck as her beckoning saves a wandering lord. He becomes the patron of her temple, and everyone’s luck improves.

The Illustrations:

The illustrations were well balanced to the story, with soft colors and nice composition. It is the sort of storybook which is mellow enough to make good bedtime reading.

Thoughts:

I’m always excited to see children’s books exploring mythology, especially when they do it well. With lovely illustrations, and simple-but-effective vocabulary, this book manages to convey the story in a way which kids will relate to. In the back of the book is a brief note with some information on the legend, including speculation as to which temple and which lord the legend may be about.

I’ll give this one a solid 4/5; I really liked it, and was impressed, though I was not completely blown away.

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* Disclosure: I received my copy free from the publisher through NetGalley.com

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Filed under Book Review, Children's Fiction, Fairy Tales Retold

Tortall and Other Lands (Anthology)

Pierce, Tamora. Tortall and Other Lands (2011). 369 Pages. Random House. $18.99

Tortall and Other Lands CoverI pre-ordered this book as soon as I heard it was being written. Then, the day I got it, I tore through it. Way too much fun to read this particular anthology. It was made even more bittersweet by the fact that it had a teaser for Mastiff in the back.

For Pierce fans, there are a few old, familiar characters. You might remember Aly and Nawat (Trickster’s Choice & Trickster’s Queen) and Daine & Numair (Wild Magic, Wolf Speaker, etc.)*. There are cameos of characters who you might not remember at first, because they weren’t huge, but they were cool.

So, onto brief summaries and story-specific comments. I’ll try to keep them spoiler-free.

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Filed under Book Review, Fantasy, High Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction