Saturday, February 28, 2015

Stacking the Shelves 2/28/15

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews and is meant to highlight all the books we've received in the past week!

This week, I got some ARCs from Netgalley. Yes, I know I was on a ban, but in my defense...I am weak-willed when it comes to pretty covers and interesting descriptions. So you really can't blame me.

My titles this week are:

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Fifteen by Jen Estes
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Burn Baby Burn Baby by Kevin Craig
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The Last Good Day of the Year by Jessica Warman
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Siren's Fury by Mary Weber
So that's all for this week. I am really excited to read all of these! How was your guys' book haul this week? Let me know in the comments below!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Review: Beat the Turtle Drum by Constance C. Green

Beat the Turtle Drum

By Constance C. Green

Blurb: An ALA Notable Book and an IRA-CBC Children’s Choice: Losing your sister can mean losing your best friend too

Thirteen-year-old Kate is thrilled for her sister, Joss, when Joss finds out she gets to keep a horse for a week as a birthday present.

Then in one tragic moment, all of the happiness is gone, and numbness and grief overwhelm the family. Kate cannot imagine how she’ll survive but knows somehow she must come to terms with her loss. In this heart-wrenching story, Kate strives to find a place where joyful memories and painful loss can coexist.


Genres: Juvenile, Realistic Fiction

Publication Date: January 7, 2015

Pages: 118

Series: N/A

My Rating: 2 stars

 I think that maybe if I hadn't read the blurb of this book before reading it I would have liked it more. Because if you read the blurb, you know the whole story already. There is no element of surprise whatsoever.

So, there will be spoilers in this review. But considering that everything I will mention in this review is mentioned in the blurb, I'm thinking that's okay in this one instance.

First off, this is really freaking boring for the first 80% of the book. Kate just talks about her sister Joss. And honestly, that would have been fine, if I could just make an emotional connection to either of these two girls, but I couldn't. I think I was kind of preparing myself for Joss to die, which ended up not happening until the last twenty pages or so, and so I didn't want to get too emotional over her.

Secondly, the book doesn't seem to have any resolution. It was more like, "my sister's dead, now my life is terrible." I know that sounds unbelievably harsh, but that is literally what it was. That is not how you want to end a book. Even if it is a tragic story, there has to be some resolution, and it didn't seem like there was in this instance.

The one thing I did like about this book was the narrative, but it is for a more personal reason than any serious literary one. When I was still in middle school, my school's library was really old and 80% of the books were from the 70s, which is when this book was published, so it reminded me of the books that I used to read back then. That was one of the few things I enjoyed about this story.

It is interesting, though, to see how word usage and slang has changed since the 70s. The new version doesn't update the actual text (or if it did, only a few bits, because there were words that were definitely outdated in this book), so its exactly how it was when it was first published. That was entertaining for me.

This isn't exactly a book I'd recommend. Maybe I would have enjoyed it back when I was still little and cried over almost every single book, but at my current age, I was really unmoved by Beat the Turtle Drum.


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Review: Chasing Ravens by Jessica E. Paige

Chasing Ravens

By Jessica E. Paige

Blurb: Orphaned at a young age, 15-year old Anouk’s punishment for being too outspoken is an arranged marriage worse than any she could imagine. Fleeing on horseback, yet without a sense of where to turn, she stumbles upon an idyllic village where she finds safe haven. Could this be home?

When a curse threatens to kill the villagers she’s come to love, Anouk takes on the dangers of the natural and magical worlds to save them. Her journey takes her deep into the Dark Woods where she must draw on all her strength to survive, but will come to realize that these magic woods hold the key to discovering a gift she never knew she had.

Ultimately, it will lead her to confront the very face of death, yet amidst the danger and darkness, she meets a handsome woodsman and finds a glowing blue flower with power beyond her wildest dreams.

Inspired by Russian fairytales and steeped in ancient folklore, Paige’s novel is ripe with fantasy, love, and courage.


Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy

Publication Date: December 16, 2014

Pages 183

Series: N/A

My Rating: 1 star

There's definitely a unique story somewhere in here; but it's hidden do the choppy and unrefined writing style. I just couldn't get into it, no matter how hard I tried. And trust me; I tried hard.

I'd been wanting to read Chasing Ravens for the longest time, you see. The story sounded so unique. But even though Chasing Ravens has a unique plotline, it didn't feel special to me. It didn't have that wow factor.

Reason numero uno for this was due to the major infodumps at the beginning. Alas, the main way of getting information across about Anouk's backstory was this questionable writing technique. And therefore, while Anouk's backstory could have been an interesting way for me to get to know her character and start to like her, it ended up simply being tedious.

The writing also seemed very rushed. Especially in the beginning; again, the story became tedious when it could have been a nice way to get to see what shaped Anouk's life. It skipped from scene to scene with only three asterisks as a lead in. As a result, it was hard to transition from the previous setting to the next.

As for the characters...meh. I never cared much for Anouk; she didn't have the spirit or the wit, save for like two scenes, that I like to see in my main characters. I'm not saying they all have to be insult-slinging assasssins with fiery tempers, but...I don't like boring main characters either.

Romance? Yippee. Not. It was tacked on later in the story, and if there is anything I hate in books, it's a romance thrown in for the heck of it. Which seemed to be what happened in Chasing Ravens. I'm having a hard time remembering the love interest's name; that was how exciting I found this element of the story.

The plot had the potential to be great; the lush Russian folklore was what initially attracted me to this story. *Cough* and the cover *cough*. But I never got immersed in it, probably because of all the other issues I had with the book. I will say, I did come away with a desire to learn more about the background for all of this story. It isn't like anything I've read recently.

So, this book is getting a no from me. I do think the premise was good, so I'd like to find another book similar to this one, but Chasing Ravens itself wasn't my kinda book.

 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Review: The Right Song by Shane Morgan

The Right Song

By Shane Morgan

Blurb: Pain never truly goes away, until you find something deeper and meaningful that cures the heart and fills it with love.
That is what Aurora desperately wants to believe. That somehow her music can save her, or even touch the unreachable heart of the guy she has liked for years.

Rora yearns for his attention and wants to experience this so-called love that could possibly end her long suffering and inspire her to chase after her dreams.

In deeply understanding the feelings of others and herself, will Aurora give up on ever finding true happiness, or will an intriguing soul teach her about the greatest song ever written?


Genres: Young Adult, Romance, Realistic Fiction

Publication Date: July 31, 2014

Series: N/A

Pages: 340

My Rating: 4 stars

I was surprised at how in love with this book I ended up being; romance is usually hit or miss with me, and lately it's been way more misses than hits. There are a few exceptions, but overall it's not been great. But seriously, by the end of this book I was half in love with Daegan myself.

The greatest part of this romance is that it's a slow burn. There is no insta-love. There is a slight love triangle, but it's not done in an annoying way. And since a third of that love triangle was Daegan, I was totally fine with it. Rora and Daegan start off being unlikely friends, and while you can practically feel the romantic tension between them, it takes a while for them to actually get together.

I'll be honest, when the author first started to describe Daegan I wsa sure I wouldn't like him. You see, almost any time a character is a loner with a tragic past (and Daegan is both of those) he ends up being a total jerk with emotional issues, and I've started to realize that isn't anywhere near as romantic as the book always tries to make it sound. But Daegan completely defies that stereotype. While it seemed like that was the way he was going to be at first, his character ended up being really sweet. He's not some alpha male, he's not demanding...he's just really not used to friendship.

Alex, Rora's best friend, is an entitled dousche. When he doesn't get what he wants in the beginning of the book, he starts yelling at Aurora and saying all sorts of nasty things to her. He got better later, but I couldn't ever get myself to like him because of how atrociously he acted originally.

Milo is...eh. He's that bland, really nice but really boring type character. I didn't love him, but there were no murderous thoughts towards him either, so...I mean, that's good.

Rora herself was an amazing MC. She was very fleshed out as a character. I loved the passion she had for music and the relationship between her and her aunt. I loved her friendship with Daegan and her struggles of dealing with the death of her parents. I loved everything about her in general.

The plot was really good; contemporary is starting to grow on me, it seems. I loved the interactions between the characters and the tough decisions that Rora needed to make.

The writing was for the most part good. There were little things that I nitpicked; for example, when Daegan is talking on the phone to Rora, he's described as smirking when speaking. But the story is told from Rora's POV in first person, so how can she possibly know that he's smirking if she can't see his face? But those are really small details. They didn't make for atrocious storytelling at all.

Considering I usually hate romance and yet I loved The Right Song, I think this is something I would definitely recommend. 

 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Stacking The Shelves 2/21/15

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews as a way to show off all the books we've received this week!
Book thrift shopping was how I acquired a nice bundle of books this week. I got a few I've read and loved, and a few others have read and loved and I'd thought I'd try. No ARCs this week because I'm trying to stop myself from requesting too many until I finish the ones I already have. (It may take a while...)

From the top up:

The Great Good Thing by Roderick Townsley (this was one of my favorites when I was younger!)
Anna of Byzantium by Tracy Barrett
Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy by Ally Carter
Scarlett Fever by Maureen Johnson
The Iron King  by Julie Kagawa
The Help by Kathryn Stockett (One of my all-time favorites, and I got a really pretty copy too)
Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier

I'm really happy with this haul. I was pleasantly surprised at how many good books my thrift store actually had! How was your book haul this week? Let me know below!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Review: The Gossip File by Anna Staniszewski

The Gossip File

By Anna Staniszewski

Blurb: The Gossip File:

-Chandra lets little kids pee in the pool.
-Melody stole $ from the cafe register.
-Ava isn’t who she says she is…

Ava is cool. Ava is confident. Ava is really Rachel Lee who is lying her butt off.
Rachel is visiting her dad at a resort in sunny Florida and is ready for two weeks of relaxing poolside, trips to Disney World and NOT scrubbing toilets. Until her dad’s new girlfriend, Ellie, begs Rachel to help out at her short-staffed cafe. That’s when Rachel kinda sorta adopts a new identity to impress the cool, older girls who work there. Ava is everything Rachel wishes she could be. But when the girls ask “Ava” to help add juicy resort gossip to their file, Rachel’s not sure what to do…especially when one of the entries is a secret about Ellie.


Genres: Juvenile, Realistic Fiction, Humor

Publication Date: January 6, 2015

Series: The Dirt Diary (book 3)

Pages: 224

My Rating: 4 stars

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

Read more of my reviews at My Full Bookshelf Reviews

I haven't read any of the other Dirt Diary books, though I want to. Still, I read the Gossip File because it apparently could be read as a standalone too. I liked it a lot; this is the kind of middle grade book that I really like.

Rachel is going down to Florida to see her father, and she is really excited. Except for the fact that her dad's girlfriend is ruining the whole thing, and she's lying to the group of friends she just made.

Rachel was such a relatable character. I may not have experienced much of the things that she has, but I still knew exactly how she felt when she was experiencing them herself because her emotions were explained so well. She searches for acceptance and she feels like she's getting ignored by her father; I just wanted to give her a hug. Even if some of her decisions were less than smart, I still liked her.

Another thing I liked was even though Rachel did have all this stuff going on, it never felt like it was becoming a depressing angst fest. The book always had a bit of an upbeat tone to it, and there were always little humorous bits thrown in to make the book not seem too sad.

The plot was cute. I liked reading about Rachel's intearactions with Ellie. I really didn't like that lady. It's not that she was an evil stepmother or anything, but she was such a control freak and I couldn't stand reading about her. Even in the end, when she was supposed to be shown as a really nice lady, I still didn't like her.

I didn't like the idea of the Gossip File and I wish Rachel hadn't gone along with it. You could just see that it would end up being kind of disastrous later on.

I thought the ending was maybe a bit too neat for my liking. Everything turned out so perfectly; maybe I have been getting used to YA where not everything gets perfectly resolved more times than not, but it just seemed a bit unrealistic.

This is a cute, fun read that I enjoyed a lot! Fans of middle grade should check this series out.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Review: Mindwar by Andrew Klavan

Mindwar

By Andrew Klavan

Blurb: Rick Dial has the potential to be a hero. He just doesn't know it yet.

Rick's high school football team couldn't be stopped when he was leading them as their quarterback. He was going to Syracuse on a scholarship. But then his dad abandoned them and a terrible accident left him crippled.

Certain his old life is completely lost, Rick spends months hiding away in his room playing video games. He achieves the highest scores on so many games that he's approached by a government agency who claims to be trying to thwart a cyber attack on America that would destroy the technological infrastructure of the entire country. The agents say that the quick-thinking of a quarterback coupled with Nick's gaming experience make him perfect for this assignment. The problem is that there are no extra lives and this isn't just a game . . . but Rick doesn't have many other options at the moment.

Entering "The Realm" gives Rick the one thing he thought he'd never have again: a body that's as fast and as strong as he ever was before the accident. But the more time he spends in The Realm, the more questions he has. What secrets are these agents keeping from him? What really happened to his father? How many others have gone into The Realm already . . . and failed? And perhaps most important, is he the hero they think he is?


Genres: Young Adult, Christian, Action, Science-Fiction 

Publication Date: July 8, 2014

Series: Mindwar (book 1)

Pages: 336

My Rating: 1.5 stars


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

Mindwar doesn't make much sense. If you really think about what's going on in the story, the logic behind why it's happening...just is nonexistent. That isn't the book's only problem, but it is its main one.

The first thing that I noticed about this book and didn't like was the main character, Rick. He's very mopey and depressing at the beginning of the book, and I just couldn't feel sorry for him. When he starts going into the Realm, he pays no attention to the life-saving advice he was given by the people who sent him there and almost dies. Great. A lot of his decisions weren't well thought out, and honestly, I'm kind of surprised he wasn't dead by the end of this book.

And I'm sorry, but I don't see how getting depressed and deciding to play video games 24/7 makes you the best video game player in the world, or whatever. I mean, there are people who actually play video games professionally. How did Rick get so much better than them in such a relatively short amount of time? Even if he does have great reflexes or whatever because he's an athlete, it seems a bit implausible.

When it got to explaining the Realm, I became skeptical. I didn't get a lot of the design choices behind it. Like, why are the guards all alligator people. Why. Who thought that was a good idea. If you are trying to take over the world with this thing, make less laughable decisions when you design it.

The narrative was also really hard to get into. Rick was such a boring main character that there wasn't a lot of emotion in it. It was very dry and I just couldn't get into the story because of it.

The secondary characters were not fleshed out. The agents, Rick's family, the people he meets in the Realm...they were all very one dimensional. We didn't to learn much about them and what we did seemed very cliche.

I definitely am stopping here with this series, because this book was actually a bit painful to get through. There is no one who I'd recommend this to. I've read some of Andrew Klavan's other books and I enjoyed them, but Mindwar was not good.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Review: True Calling by Siobhan Davis

True Calling

By Siobhan Davis

Blurb: Planet Novo, nestled in space twelve hundred miles above the surface of the Earth, is the new home of 17 year old Cadet Ariana Skyee. Confused by the government-sanctioned memory erase and distressed at her impending forced marriage and motherhood, Ariana’s plans for the future are thrown into complete disarray.

As the traumatic events within her family life enfold, Ariana grows increasingly alarmed at the authorities apparent pre-occupation with her and feels progressively more isolated and alone.

Her growing feelings for fellow Cadet Cal Remus intensify as the recently announced pageant, ‘The Calling’, gets underway. Struggling to comprehend the continuous, inexplicable dreams of the mysterious Zane, discovering the past helps shape her future, with devastating personal consequences.


Genres: Young Adult, Romance, Science Fiction, Dystopian

Publication Date: July 28, 2014

Series: True Calling (book 1)

Pages: 410

My Rating: 2 stars

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

I am conflicted with True Calling, because I really did get into the story, but the writing was not great at times, the random switching POVs was less than necessary, and Cal...oh god, Cal...somethings just weren't right with that boy.

First, the writing seemed clunky at times. The sentences were simple and not varied whatsoever. It was a lot of 'I said this, I did this, he did this, etc, etc.' There are also a lot of unnecessary details strewn about; I mean, do we really need a paragraph on how Ari has to check every single photo of herself because she blinks more than the average human and doesn't want to appear asleep/drunk? Let's double think that, please. Don't get me started on the amount of run-ons this book suffered from; it was downright distracting.

The best way to describe True Calling's world building was lacking. Not only did we learn most of our information about Novo through infodumps--I had trouble remembering all the information that was just poured out in paragraphs near the beginning of the book--a lot of the stuff just doesn't get properly explained. Like Ari's sixth sense, for example. I never fully understood it. And even stuff that did get somewhat explained I didn't get the logic behind. Why would the government turn The Calling into some weird Dystopian Bachelor? Despite any explanations given, I could never come to grips with the fact that couples had to be filmed and primped for this; it seemed like a waste of time and money. It would have been easier if they just skipped the televised part, in my opinion.

The dialogue, too, seems a bit forced at times. There are times when Cal was shouting (he did this a lot) and there just didn't seem to be any emotion in his words. It was hard to take the talking seriously when I didn't think it sounded realistic.

Now for the characters...well, Ari's a bit of a Mary Sue, honestly. There was no character growth, and if you put aside the previously mentioned fact that she apparently struggles with taking photos, she didn't have a lot of flaws either. I couldn't relate or connect to her in any way.

Cal had anger issues, and it was a bit concerning. He shouts and gets possessive of Ari a lot. Though most of the time he was sweet and loving, I thought his outbursts were concerning. I would have dumped him by the end of the story if he was my boyfriend.

I didn't like Zane. He was the Gary Stu to Ari's Mary Sue. Not only was his narrative incredibly boring (the POVs switched in the middle of the story, and it was the worst because Zane's story was snoozeworthy) he's as perfect as Ari! Not only that, this love triangle of sorts was just not fun to read about.

The plot, however, I really liked. The story was engaging, and had the characters been better developed, I probably would have eaten this book up, because it is really exciting to read about. The corrupt government, the strange dreams, and even The Calling (though I still hold to the fact that it doesn't make complete sense) make for a really thrilling storyline.

True Calling fell flat for me. It had a myriad of flaws that culminated and made this reading experience not that great. I wasn't a fan of this one.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Review: The Oathbreaker's Shadow by Amy McCulloch

The Oathbreaker's Shadow

By Amy McCulloch

Blurb: With an original setting and fast-paced plot, Raim's story is epic fantasy at its finest

Fifteen-year-old Raim lives in a world where you tie a knot for every promise that you make. Break that promise and you are scarred for life, and cast out into the desert.

Raim has worn a simple knot around his wrist for as long as he can remember. No one knows where it came from or which promise of his it symbolizes, and he barely thinks about it at all--not since becoming the most promising young fighter ever to train for the elite Yun guard. But on the most important day of his life, when he binds his life to his best friend--and future king--Khareh, the string bursts into flames and sears a dark mark into his skin. Scarred now as an oathbreaker, Raim has two options: run or die.


Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Adventure 

Publication Date: February 8, 2015

Series: The Knots Sequence (book 1)

Pages: 384

My Rating: 3 stars


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

I had given up on this book, when out of the blue, it got much better, to the point where I am actually considering reading the sequel.

The problem with The Oathbreaker's Shadow is that, like many fantasies, the book is bogged down with pointless details and boring descriptions. Like comparing the work ethics of the different peoples in this world. Or the weight of their goats.

Also, while I appreciate that the worldbuilding was not neglected here--I actually understood what was going on, and the Mongolian roots of the world was something unique that I haven't seen before--the fact that it took so dang long for the book to step away from worldbuilding and go into the actual story really annoyed me. I'm all for being thorough, but literally the first third of the book was all worldbuilding. I really wish I was exaggerating.

Basically, until around the 40% mark, I was dangerously close to falling asleep while reading the boring snoozefest that was The Oathbreaker's Shadow.

However, seemingly all at once, the story got immensely better. It took a complete 180 degree turn from where it had been and became really interesting.

First off, Raim and Khareh's relationship was super complicated and weird, but in a good way. Khareh is a major dousche, and I called that from a mile away, but then there's Draikh. So is Khareh all bad, or is he? Also, even if he is all bad, Raim has made an unbreakable vow to him. So how will that play out? It was really interesting to read about.

The sages were also interesting. The whole process for becoming a sage was well-thought out in regards to the worldbuilding. I enjoyed seeing Raif and Draikh work together, because they really were good friends, and it was an interesting dynamic.

The mystery surrounding Raif and his broken vow was never really solved. We got some hints, but I still want to know what he did. I have some theories, but they are all basically just random guesses because we didn't learn a lot about that. I have to say, that disappointed me. I was really looking forward to finding that out, and the fact that this is never discovered is basically the whole reason I'm planning on picking up the sequel and reading it.

I can't say I loved The Oathbreaker's Shadow, but it definitely piqued my interest for what happens next. I'd only recommend this to people with a lot of patience, because that is what you will need to get through the first third of this book, but once you do this book becomes really fun.


Sunday, February 15, 2015

Review: Positively Beautiful by Wendy Mills

Positively Beautiful 

By Wendy Mills

Blurb: Jodi Picoult for teens meets Lurlene McDaniel. Beautiful written, beautifully moving, a vivid contemporary story of a girl’s unusual but terrible dilemma - and the love story that springs from it.

16-year-old Erin is a smart if slightly dorky teenager, her life taken up with her best friend Trina, her major crush on smoky-eyed, unattainable Michael, and fending off Faith, the vision of perfection who’s somehow always had the knife in for Erin. Her dad, a pilot, died when she was very young, but Erin and her mom are just fine on their own.

Then everything changes forever one day after school when Erin’s mom announces she has breast cancer. And there’s even worse news to come. Horrified, Erin discovers that her grandmother’s death from cancer is almost certainly linked, the common denominator a rare gene mutation that makes cancer almost inevitable. And if two generations of women in the family had this mutation, what does that mean for Erin? The chances she’s inherited it are frighteningly high. Would it be better to know now and have major preemptive surgery or spend as much life as she has left in blissful ignorance?

As Erin grapples with her terrible dilemma, her life starts to spiral downwards, alleviated only by the flying lessons she starts taking with grumpy Stew and his little yellow plane, Tweetie Bird. Up in the sky, following in her dad’s footsteps, Erin finds freedom chasing the horizon. Down on the ground it’s a different story, and facing betrayal from Trina, humiliation from Faith, and a world of disappointment with Michael, Erin knows she must discover the truth about herself. Sure enough, she’s positive for the gene that’s slowly killing her mom.

Suddenly, Erin’s life has turned into a nightmare, and the only person she can truly talk to is a girl called Ashley who she meets online. But when, in a moment of madness, Erin flies away with Tweetie Pie to find her new friend, she finds herself on a journey that will take her through not only shock and despair - but ultimately to a new understanding of the true meaning of beauty, meaning, and love.


Genres: Young Adult, Romance, Realistic Fiction

Publication Date: March 3, 2015

Series: N/A

Pages: 368

My Rating: 4 stars

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All quotes included are from an ARC, and will be checked with the finished copy of the story once it is released.

Which would you rather, to have a long miserable life, or a short, beautiful one?


This book was a beautiful sob-worthy read and I honestly don't think I've ever highlighted so many quotes in a story for no other reason than the fact that they somehow spoke to me. (For instance, the quote above.) This book was Positively Beautiful. I started out not knowing if I would like it, but by the end, I knew; I didn't just like it, I loved it.

Erin Bailey's mother has just been diagnosed with breast cancer, and what's worse, Erin finds out she may have a genetic mutation that puts her at risk too. She has to decide whether she wants to know and try to protect herself, or go the way of "ignorance is bliss" and live her life. I loved Erin. I felt the way she dealt with everything felt real; sometimes the decisions she made weren't necessarily the best decisions, but they all were things that people under an insane amount of stress and grief could do. She is faced with a lot of heartbreaking questions, things that no teen should have to think about, like what will happen if her mother dies, or if she has BRCA gene that could cause her to get breast or ovarian cancer, and she still carries on. She was a very complex character, and by the end of the story I was quite proud of her for overcoming so much.

Erin finds comfort in a person she meets on a BRCA website in a forum, Ashley. I constantly would highlight the things Ashley told Erin; it was good advice, and really deep. When Erin finally meets Ashley face-to-face, I was totally shocked. I hadn't guessed what would happen or how it would happen. I loved it.

I loved that this story focused on relationships in a non-sugarcoated way; Erin's best friend becomes estranged from her because of a fight. The boy she kind of likes doesn't end up being the love interest. (more on that later.) Erin's mother, who I loved--she was kind and loving and she and Erin had a great relationship--might die, and Erin has to deal with that.

The writing is simply beautiful. There are so many gems of sentences to be found in this book. Not only that, but the character's emotions were artfully showed through the writing to the point where I felt exactly how they felt just reading.

The plot is wonderful; the lesson I took away from it was to live life to the fullest, because you never know what's ahead, and it went about showing this phenomenally. Erin's journey is great to read about. I loved everything about it. By the time Erin was learning how to fly a plane, I was downright inspired to go out and do something.

The romance was awesome because it was so unexpectedly unique. At the start of the book, I was sure the boyfriend was going to be Michael, who Erin seems to like. I was not looking forward to this; Michael has an unhealthy obsession with death, and I didn't love him as a character, much less a love interest. But it doesn't go that way; Erin realizes he's not the boy for her. Later, a new person is introduced, and I loved Bailey and him together. Their relationship was messy at times but it all came together in the end.

The ending ripped out my feelings and threw them away. Oddly, I didn't cry. I felt absolutely hollow inside, and my throat choaked up, but there were no tears. Still, I was overwhelmingly sad. There was a light at the end of that dark tunnel, but I still felt very solemn as I read the last few pages.

I've decided not to conclude this review with a summary, but instead leave you with this quote.

Courage is not always big and bright and loud; sometimes it's as silent and small as true words, a smile when you'd rather weep, or getting up every day and living with quiet dignity while all around you life rages.


Saturday, February 14, 2015

Stacking the Shelves: 2/14/15

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews. Its purpose is to highlight all the new books you have acquired in the past week!

This week, all my books were gotten via my wonderful library. I haven't been in ages (too many ARCs I needed to catch up on!) but it was so fun to finally go back! I got four books that I've been dying to read for ages.
Books In Picture:

When Audrey Met Alice by Rebecca Behrens
Tiger's Curse by Colleen Houck
Tsarina by J. Nelle Patrick
Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson


I feel pretty excited about reading all of these! What did you guys get this week? Comment below!

Review: How to Fly With Broken Wings

How to Fly With Broken Wings

By Jane Elson

Blurb: 'If Finn Maison shouts jump you jump or you are dead.'

Twelve-year-old Willem has Aspergers Syndrome and two main aims in life: to fly and to make at least two friends of his own age. But all the other boys from the Beckham Estate do is make him jump off things. First his desk - and now the wall. As his toes teeter on the edge, Sasha Barton gives him a tiny little wink. Might she become his friend?

Bullied by Finn and his gang the Beckham Estate Boyz, Willem has no choice but to jump. As he flies through the air he flaps his arms, wishing he could fly and escape into the clouds. Instead he comes crashing down and breaks his ankle.

Sasha, angry with herself for not stopping Finn and his Boyz, is determined to put things right. And soon, while the gangs riot on their estate, Willem and Sasha form an unlikely friendship. Because they share a secret. Sasha longs to fly too.

And when Magic Man Archie arrives with stories of war-flying spitfires, he will change the lives of the kids on the Beckham Estate for ever. And perhaps find a way for Willem and Sasha to fly ...

Touching on themes such as friendship and bullying, this is a charming tale about overcoming obstacles and finding friendship in unlikely places.


Genres: Juvenile, Realistic Fiction 

Publication Date: March 3, 2015

Series: N/A

My Rating: 2 stars


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

It says a lot that only a few weeks after reading How to Fly With Broken Wings, I am having a hard time remembering a lot of details about this book. Actually, I had to look up two of the main character's names because I just couldn't remember them. Yep, it was one of those books.

The writing style was the first thing that caught my attention in a negative way. It's very flat, with simple sentences and little variation of sentence structure that made it hard to become engrossed in the book.

Secondly, the characters; yeah...once again, I couldn't even remember Willem and Sasha's names right away. Finn, for some reason, I remembered. I just really didn't care about them at all. I've seen characters like them before; a bullied boy who has issues making friends, a bully who has a bad home life, the girl who befriends the bullied kid. Honestly, there are plenty of books that deal with these dynamics between characters, and deal with it better.

The plot began to get a bit convoluted. I think it should have just focused on the relationship between Sasha, Finn, and Willem; that would have been enough. Instead, we also were treated to rioting gangs, and stories of dead pilots and their long lost loves, and a kindly old man who is Willem's neighbor. They were all nice plots, but they could be a distraction. Sometimes, less is more.

This book had a lot of potential, but that potential was totally wasted. How to Fly With Broken Wings had absolutely no emotional effect on me whatsoever, and I have a suspicion that in a few months I'll have practically forgotten it.


Friday, February 13, 2015

Tell Me Your Twitter!

Hello, dear readers. *waves* This is not a "real" post, it's just a little inquiry of sorts. Anyways, I have had a twitter for a while, but I am just now starting to actually, well, use it. It's come to my attention that I only follow like twenty people, and I'm trying to follow everyone that I follow regularly via GFC/Bloglovin (and possibly find some new blogger friends as well, of course) but it can be hard to get to everyone. So, if any of my fellow bloggers would like to leave their twitter accounts in the comments below, I'd love to follow you! I know I follow a couple people already, but definitely not all of you, so if you want me to follow you, just let me know with your twitter username or a link so I know who to follow exactly. Oh, and here is the link to my twitter account if any of you would like to check it out. Thanks, everybody!

Review: West of the Moon by Margi Preus

West of the Moon

By Margi Preus

Blurb: Astri is a young Norwegian girl desperate to join her father in America. After being separated from her sister and sold to a cruel goat farmer, Astri makes a daring escape. She quickly retrieves her little sister, and, armed with a troll treasure, a book of spells and curses, and a possibly magic hairbrush, they set off for America. With a mysterious companion in tow and the malevolent “goatman” in pursuit, the girls head over the Norwegian mountains, through field and forest, and in and out of folktales and dreams as they steadily make their way east of the sun and west of the moon.

Genres: Juvenile, Historical Fiction, Fantasy

Publication Date: April 1, 2014

Pages: 224

Series: N/A

My Rating: 3 stars


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

West of the Moon is different. What does that mean, exactly? Well, it means that this book is basically like nothing I have ever read before, which doesn't happen often. However, the ending sucked, to be blunt. So, that kind of brought down my love for this story.

What's nice about this book is that it is somewhat fantastical, but not really. I thought this really captured the feel of the book; it gave it a unique, authentic flavor that made the story feel a bit like an actual Norse folk tale. This is what I most liked about West of the Moon.

Astri, the main character, can be rather selfish at times, and she does things without the purest of intentions. I got mad at her more than a few times during the book. But she still manages to stay one of those characters that you want to have a happy ending.

The plot is interesting; it takes little bits from different folktales and fairy tales and weaves them into the story, and there's an aspect of mystery, which I always love. I went through the book wanting answers to Astri's past and the silent little girl that she traveled with. I got hints throughout the book, but it wasn't until the end that everything was revealed.

And that is where my liking of this book turned into disappointment. This ending is not happy in the slightest. It is not blatantly sad, but it definitely made me mopey. West of the Moon has more of an open ending, which is okay with some books, I suppose, but none of the things that I wanted to be resolved were! Or, if they were resolved, they were resolved in a way that made me mad, which is just as bad, if not worse, than having them left open.

This book did slightly redeem itself after the ending, though, because I read the author's notes. These are usually not that interesting (to me at least) but in this story, I really loved the explanations and the background history we got for this book. The story behind the idea for this book, for some reason, fascinates me. I want to know more about it, but I guess I won't be able to--it's history that we only get a snippet of.

The story is great, the ending is not. There's my warning to you for this book; if you want to take your chances, that's up to you. Personally, I'm not disappointed that I did.



Thursday, February 12, 2015

Review: Whole in the Clouds by Kristine Kibbee

Whole in the Clouds

By Kristine Kibbee

Blurb: Cora Catlin is a misfit at best, and an outcast at worst. She feels out of place, as if everything is backward and something is missing from her life.

And then, on her first day of middle school, everything changes.

When Cora encounters an elfin stranger who speaks of the magical world Clouden, an entire kingdom hidden up in the sky, she can’t wait to leave her boring, humdrum life behind. As Cora travels to her new home, where children sprout from the ground and rivers flow with chocolate, she finds herself transformed—and if that weren’t enough, she has to adjust to royal parents, talking Pegasuses, a raging war, and an alluring love interest as well.

Exploring this new land, Cora unearths wonders and secrets beyond her wildest imaginings, discovering the meaning of true friendship, love, and what it means to feel whole.


Genres: Juvenile, Fantasy, Romance 

Publication Date: November 6, 2014

Pages: 254

Series: N/A

My Rating: 1 star


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

Middle grade fantasy can be a little over the top at times. The best example I can give of this? Whole in the Clouds. It is sugary sweet; the type of sugary sweet that gives you a major cavity and you regret ever eating.

First, there is the main character Cora. Cora isn't the biggest problem I had with this book personality wise. However, I did have a problem with how the book portrayed her obesity. Cora is extremely overweight in the Backworld (our world), but she gets her true form in Clouden (the fantasy world), where she is extremely "slender" and "delicate" because this represents her extremely kind and good personality. Okay, one moment here *steps on soapbox*

What?!

The suggestion here that obesity=bad/mean (and yes, in this book it does, because the popular girls who bullied Cora's true form was that they were overweight and ugly) and slender=good/beautiful is dangerous, and I am am not okay with it at all. There are going to be young girls reading this, and I don't want them to come away with the conclusion that being if they aren't a certain size, they aren't good enough. I wish that instead of taking this road, the book could have had something about how all body types are equally beautiful, not just size 0 princesses.

*steps of soapbox*

Anyway, back to the review.

There are so many fantasy elements thrown into this one fantasy novel. It needs to be toned down. There's pegasus, all the animals can talk, people are born from seeds, and they get born old instead of babies and work their way down so that "youth isn't wasted on the young."...so basically, Benjamin Button. There were so many over the top fairytale-like details thrown in that the book began to look like this:

description

The writing style was annoying, because it was overly ornate and the fact is, nobody talks like this anymore, least of all twelve year old girls.

Example A: Cora made a promise to herself not to forget the plight of her parents in the Backworlds. The kindness they had bestowed upon her should be repaid with the like.

Example B: Her pessimistic nature took hold, her mind now envisioning years of unrequited waiting for her funny friend's return.

Something else I didn't like; the insta-love. Jasper meets Cora, and instantly they have an attraction. She's attracted to his eyes which are apparently bathed in innocence. It turns out they're marked for each other, which is basically like a soulmate. There's a romance. The other problem is? They're middle schoolers in real life.

description

Lastly, there's the fact that so much time is spent explaining Clouden and its magical-ness..there isn't actually that much of a plot. Yes, there's a feud between Cora and Jasper's family. But it's really put on the backburner for most of the story. Not cool. That should have taken precedence, in my opinion. Not more Clouden details.

This really wasn't something I'd recommend to anyone. If you want an interesting and well-written fantasy, read The Chronicles of Narnia.


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Review: Storm Siren by Mary Weber

Storm Siren

By Mary Weber

Blurb: “I raise my chin as the buyers stare. Yes. Look. You don’t want me. Because, eventually, accidentally, I will destroy you.”

In a world at war, a slave girl’s lethal curse could become one kingdom’s weapon of salvation. If the curse—and the girl—can be controlled.

As a slave in the war-weary kingdom of Faelen, seventeen-year-old Nym isn’t merely devoid of rights, her Elemental kind are only born male and always killed at birth — meaning, she shouldn’t even exist.

Standing on the auction block beneath smoke-drenched mountains, Nym faces her fifteenth sell. But when her hood is removed and her storm-summoning killing curse revealed, Nym is snatched up by a court advisor and given a choice: be trained as the weapon Faelen needs to win the war, or be killed.

Choosing the former, Nym is unleashed into a world of politics, bizarre parties, and rumors of an evil more sinister than she’s being prepared to fight . . . not to mention the handsome trainer whose dark secrets lie behind a mysterious ability to calm every lightning strike she summons.

But what if she doesn’t want to be the weapon they’ve all been waiting for?

Set in a beautifully eclectic world of suspicion, super abilities, and monsters, Storm Siren is a story of power. And whoever controls that power will win.


Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance 

Publication Date: August 19, 2014

Pages: 319

Series: Storm Siren (book 1)

My Rating: 2.5 stars

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

Eh. I'm kind of indifferent about this one, which sucks, because I had been waiting to read it for the longest time. Storm Siren was a bit of a mediocre book for me.

The characters were okay; some were good, some not so good. Nym was my favorite---we are introduced to her as a defiant slave with an ability that makes her despise herself. She is the kind of character that really piques my interest from the first page, and while I thought her personality got blander as the story progressed (I blame that on pointless insta-love, ugh) I still liked reading about her.

The secondary characters, however, really didn't capture my attention. I mean, some of them died, and I just couldn't bring myself to care. At all. They had interesting personalities, but I never got emotionally invested in them. I didn't get to know them well enough that I could cry if they died. There was potential there, but they didn't get enough time in the spotlight for that to happen.

Eogan, however, was not a character I liked. He was so boring to me; I couldn't help but think that I'd saw characters like him in dozens of books; he was a Four-esque type of guy. In fact, he reminded me a lot of Four, except for the fact that he wasn't as well-written as Four/Tobias was. And therefore, I didn't like him.

Seeing as I didn't like Eogan, it shouldn't come as a suprise that I never got into the relationship between Nym and Eogan. First off, insta-love. Not only do I hate it, it totally didn't fit how I thought Nym would act. Considering how many time she has been hurt, I think it's odd that she would start pining after some random man so soon after she met him. Secondly...yawn. Give me more action, not more tingly feelings about boring boys.

The worldbuilding was inadequate. I still don't fully understand how all the powers work in this land, or the history behind the antagonist, Draewulf. Because, aside from a few sentences, we weren't given much about these things. When worldbuilding is essential to the story, you have to give readers a bit more than that.

Lastly...ACTION! This book lacked that for most of the story. If there is a war going on, and a girl with deadly powers that she can barely control, I don't expect to be this bored. But the sad thing is, for the first half of the story, the story is lacking in that department.

The ending was shocking, possibly enough for me to read the next installment, but then again, maybe not. It definitely was a suspenseful way to end, and if I had liked this book more, I could see myself being in agony after finishing Storm Siren. But, I don't know if I will continue...there were a lot of flaws to this story that I'm not sure will be present in the sequel or not.

I wasn't a huge fan of this book. It ended up falling flat for me. It's hard to completely sell me on most fantasy books, as ended up being the case her. I never got immersed in the world Storm Siren painted. It's the kind of book that I don't exactly regret reading, but I probably wouldn't pick up again.


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Blog Tour Review: Henge by Realm Lovejoy


Henge 

by Realm Lovejoy

(Le Fay #1)
Publication date: November 11th 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

Blurb:

Modern-day Camelot. Where knights no longer carry swords. Magic is dangerous. And those who seek control are not to be trusted.

Sixteen-year-old Morgan le Fay is a fire user. An ordinary girl with an extraordinary skill, she has the ability to create and command fire at will. Her dream is to become the Maven—the right hand of the future King Arthur. In the chance of a lifetime, Morgan is selected to join Arthur’s Round, an elite group of young magic users from which the new Maven will be chosen.

Along with the other fire, water, and wind users in Arthur’s Round, Morgan is rigorously trained and tested. The handsome Merlin, a brilliant water user, takes a particular interest in her. Is his friendship to be trusted, or is Merlin simply trying to win the position of Maven for himself? Among the many rivals Morgan faces is the current Maven, Mordred, who seems determined to see her fail.

But Morgan has a secret—years ago, her mother was executed for using fire magic, and Morgan’s desire for justice makes her more than ready to take on the challenge before her. Can she prevail in Camelot’s tests of survival and magic? Only time—and Morgan’s powerful fire—will tell.

_________

“Camelot meets Hogwarts meets Panem in this intriguing, well-written beginning to a planned YA series.”–Kirkus Reviews



Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23151530-henge?ac=1

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9qoGAE2s8RE

Purchase:
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Henge-Fay-Book-Realm-Lovejoy-ebook/dp/B00PBV1HKK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1416855764&sr=8-1&keywords=Henge+Realm+Lovejoy

__________

My Rating: 4.5 stars

I am stunned at how amazing Henge was. It was refreshing, exciting, and I love Morgan. Really, I love everything about this story, but especially Morgan.

I have read the Arthurian legends before, but I was much younger and they were the simplified versions and they weren't retold very well so I don't remember much about them. I recognized a couple characters, but that was about it in this story. I think that helped me; reading this book not knowing about the characters in the original legends let me get to know them better, and I couldn't make any guesses about what would happen to them based on how their stories went in the actual stories.

And my, how I loved the characters. Morgan was refreshing to read about. She's a strong, independent, kick butt heroine, but not stereotypically so. The author made sure to give her a unique and well thought out personality. She has a goal to become Maven, and I loved how determined she was to achieve that. Morgan also is still dealing with the brutal death of her mother, and that comes into play and shows her more vulnerable side.  Her friendship with Guinevere was also something I liked about her, which is really unexpected for me. Usually, I'm indifferent to 'friend' characters, but this time around I was not. And the tension between Morgan and Merlin...I ate it up.

Merlin is one of those characters where you're never sure what to think of them. I liked him, but then he would do something that made me suspicious. His relationship with Morgan was complicated to say the least. This is the kind of 'romance' I like to read about; where it's really uncertain if the characters actually will end up together, and the sappiness is kept down to a minimum. Honestly, calling it romance is a stretch, but whatever it technically was, I loved it.

A story that revolves around a school of magic can be hard to pull off without me immediately comparing it to Hogwarts, but I thought Henge definitely put its own spin on that. It focuses a lot more on the action then the regular school classes. And when I say action, I mean the heart-pounding kind that makes you not want to stop reading until the last sentence has been finished. And the plot twists at every turn...I was never, ever bored reading this book. My, it was fun.

The worldbuilding wasn't overdone nor underdone. It didn't feel artificial or info-dumpy; I was just kind of immersed in it. It's really hard to pull this off, and I was impressed with the way Henge did it seemingly effortlessly.

The writing was great too. It was told in first person, and since I loved Morgan as a character that probably helped. The way the story was told added to the tension of the already action packed scenes. It was so addicting.

I'll definitely be reading the next books in this series, and recommending this one to my friends. I can't wait to see what happens next! Definitely a must-read.

AUTHOR BIO:
Realm Lovejoy is an American writer and an artist. She grew up in both Washington State and the Japanese Alps of Nagano, Japan. Currently, she lives in Seattle and works as an artist in the video game industry. CLAN is her first book. You can find out more about her and her book at
realmlovejoy.com

Author links:
http://www.realmlovejoy.com/index2.php#/home/
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7339930.Realm_Lovejoy
https://www.facebook.com/authorrealmlovejoy
https://twitter.com/realmlovejoy

Monday, February 9, 2015

Discussion: My Changing Tastes in Books


 (Please excuse the header. I know it doesn't really match my blog anymore, but I'm to lazy to completely revise it right now.)

This month, I started a review index on my blog. As I've been working on getting all my reviews linked up to it, I've been reading a lot of the old reviews. My thoughts on most of them went something like this:

1. Wow, these are really short reviews.
2. Oh my god, these are terrible. I obviously did not know what I was doing back then. (And still don't, but it's gotten a lot better.)
3. There is no way that book would have gotten that rating now. 

I've been reading these reviews, and...either I was extremely lenient with the rating, or my tastes majorly evolved. It's actually a combination of the both, actually.

The thing is, some of these ratings aren't accurate anymore. Honestly, the reviews really aren't either, in most cases. I've gotten a lot more critical throughout the two years I've been blogging, and now, I think that if I read a lot of the books I reviewed when I first started My Full Bookshelf, they would be getting one, two, or even three stars less than they originally got. I'm a lot more cranky now, I guess.

This is not the case with all of these books, of course. There are many that would stay the same.  (though their reviews would probably be more properly written then they previously were.) But the ones that wouldn't...bother me.

So, I've made a 2015 goal to do a reread month. I don't know when I'll be doing it; I'll have to get all my ARCs finished up and reviewed, first. But once I do, I'm going to be weeding through my 'read' shelf on Goodreads to try and see if anything has changed throughout the years in my book tastes. If they have...I don't know exactly what I'll do with the rating/review. Definitely change the rating, of course. But I don't want to completely delete a review that I probably spent some time on writing, either. I guess I'll cross that bridge when I get there. 

I can't be the only person whose tastes have changed when it comes to books. Have you guys ever had a situation like this before? If so, as bloggers, what did you do? Write a completely new review? Just keep it the way it was, but edit? Let me know in the comments!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Review: Ticker by Lisa Mantchev

Ticker

By Lisa Mantchev

Blurb: A girl with a clockwork heart must make every second count.

When Penny Farthing nearly dies, brilliant surgeon Calvin Warwick manages to implant a brass “Ticker” in her chest, transforming her into the first of the Augmented. But soon it’s discovered that Warwick killed dozens of people as he strove to perfect another improved Ticker for Penny, and he’s put on trial for mass murder.

On the last day of Warwick’s trial, the Farthings’ factory is bombed, Penny’s parents disappear, and Penny and her brother, Nic, receive a ransom note demanding all of their Augmentation research if they want to see their parents again. Is someone trying to destroy the Farthings...or is the motive more sinister?

Desperate to reunite their family and rescue their research, Penny and her brother recruit fiery baker Violet Nesselrode, gentleman-about-town Sebastian Stirling, and Marcus Kingsley, a young army general who has his own reasons for wanting to lift the veil between this world and the next. Wagers are placed, friends are lost, romance stages an ambush, and time is running out for the girl with the clockwork heart.


Genres: Young Adult, Steampunk, Romance, Mystery 

Publication Date: December 1, 2014

Pages: 273

Series: N/A

My Rating: 3 stars


It's been a while since I've read a steampunk novel, and I was really excited to get to Ticker. Well, it was definitely steampunk. And--dare I say it--this may be the reason I didn't like it as much as I wanted. I think the author may have tried too hard to embody the steampunk genre, to the point where it got annoying. The story is still overall pretty good, but it's a bit hard to get into.

The main reason for this is the writing style. For the first 2% of this novel, I thought, "Oooh! What an adorable writing style! So proper! So fun!" But after that it quickly changed to, "Make it stooooop, please, aaaaah." That feeling settled down as I went along because I was able to tune it out, but seriously; this writing style got annoying quickly. It uses antiquated and overly proper words in everyday speech, which is fine, to an extent, but when every. other. word. fits into one of those two categories, I got exasperated quickly.

However, once the story really got going, writing style aside, I was hooked. The story was so unique and interesting. Penny is a girl whose heart is a clock; she had it transplanted because of a condition that killed her two sisters and would have killed her if it hadn't been for a transplant. Penny doesn't let her disability get in her way--even though there are times when she should probably take it slower than she does. She is funny and strong.

The plot was really fast-paced, though it didn't start out that way. Maybe it was just due to my misgivings about the writing style, but I thought it took a while for the actual story to get fully laid out. Once it did, however, Ticker was impossible to put down. It's not just action-packed, there was an unexpected paranormal twist. It was very subtle and didn't take up too much of the plot, but it really added an extra flair to the story.

I feel like I'm perpetually complaining about this in my reviews, but whatever--I didn't like the romance. Once again, I thought it happened too quickly. When she meets the love interest Marcus, he's so hot her heart literally stops. Utter cheese. I don't need that. This was definitely not the book's strong suit.

It was nice to read a book with a definite end for once. This is one of those stories that definitely works better as a standalone, and I'm glad the author realized that. Everything was accomplished within one book. It was great.

Ticker was a nice steampunk experience. It had its exasperating moments, but I still liked reading it overall.


Saturday, February 7, 2015

Review: Enchantment Lake by Margi Preus

Enchantment Lake

By Margi Preus

Blurb: A disturbing call from her great aunts Astrid and Jeannette sends seventeen-year-old Francie far from her new home in New York into a tangle of mysteries. Ditching an audition in a Manhattan theater, Francie travels to a remote lake in the northwoods where her aunts’ neighbors are “dropping like flies” from strange accidents. But are they accidents?

On the shores of Enchantment Lake in the woods of northern Minnesota, something ominous is afoot, and as Francie begins to investigate, the mysteries multiply: a poisoned hot dish, a puzzling confession, eerie noises in the bog, and a legendary treasure that is said to be under enchantment—or is that under Enchantment, as in under the lake? At the center of everything is a suddenly booming business in cabin sales and a road not everyone wants built.

To a somewhat reluctant northwoods Nancy Drew, the intrigue proves irresistible, especially when it draws her closer to the mysteries at the heart of her own life: What happened to her father? Who and where is her mother? Who is she, and where does her heart lie—in the bustle of New York City or the deep woods of Minnesota? With its gripping story, romantic spirit, and a sly dash of modern-day trouble (evil realtors and other invasive species), Enchantment Lake will fascinate readers, providing precisely the charm that Margi Preus’s readers have come to expect.


Genres: Young Adult, Mystery,  Realistic Fiction

Publication Date: March 15, 2015

Pages: 200

Series: N/A

My Rating: 3.5 stars

First thing I thought when I saw this book; "Ooh, pretty cover!" Second thing; "Ooh, mystery!" And that was that. I went into this book knowing not much else; not about the author, or any previous reviews, or even about the specific plot. (I'd forgotten that by the time I finally picked the story up.) Thus, I was really surprised--not in a bad way, but definitely surprised--at the story that Enchantment Lake ended up being.

It's definitely NOT the serious mystery tale that I was expecting. The writing style is utterly quirky; which, as long as it doesn't got too over the top, I usually enjoy. And that was the case here. Francie's aunts were mostly what gave the book that flair; they are so ridiculous and funny in their own way that I began to wish they were my own aunts.

However, there is something sinister going on in Enchantment Lake; though the writing style does tend to make it seem lighter than it was, this book could get quite serious when it wanted to. What happened to Francie's dad all those years ago? Why is no one talking about her mom?

Francie's aunts are not the only strange ones in this weird town though. We are treated to quite the cast of characters. Seemingly, a lot of them behave irrationally and there is a bit of suspicion cast on most of them at one point or another. But in the end, everyone's motives are shown, and everything makes sense.

I did not see who the culprit was at all. Though, in hindsight, the signs were there and I probably should have realized that it was who it ended up being. Whatever, it made it more enjoyable to have not guessed. Something that really made this unveiling of the culprit unique, though, is the fact that it brings up some questions as well as answers them. Really huge questions that I want answers to.

That brings me to my complaint for this book. What ended up being my biggest frustration was that not all the questions that readers want answered end up getting answered. I will grudgingly admit that I completely see why; to get all the answers that Francie wanted (and I wanted, darn it all) would have been unrealistic...BUT I WANT ANSWERS.

Also, at times, it felt like not everything was as explained as it should have been. By the end, of course, I knew everything I had needed to know, but I feel like a lot of information could have been given a bit earlier than that, because I was a bit confused when it came to a lot of Francie's background at the beginning of the book. It wasn't stuff that necessarily needed to be revealed later; like more details of Francie's job, for example. Because I was seriously confused when all the 'detective' stuff came into the story.

I'll definitely be reading a sequel if one comes out, because I want answers to a few questions that didn't get resolved in here. Enchantment Lake wasn't what I was expecting, but I definitely liked it.