Friday, December 31, 2010

Wrapping Up 2010

Another year coming to an end.  Ugh.  I'm not sure I'm ready to say goodbye to 2010.  I had a lot I wanted to accomplish.  Now I'm going to have to set my goals high for 2011.  I think it would be nice to occasionally meet goals before the New Year starts and then don't set anymore!  They only lead to heartache. . . But enough of that.

2010 was a good year for reading!  I read 64 books this year which is a new record!  Well, actually I think it is.  I've only kept track for the last five years or so.  I can safely say that my numbers have improved every year since 2006.  I met two of the challenge goals that I set for myself last January so that's good.  

The highlights of 2010:

* The Hunger Games trilogy!  I discovered the series in 2010 and read all three books.  I am so glad that I did.  They are full of action and great characters.
* The Forest of Hands and Teeth and The Dead Tossed Waves:  Again, two books in a series that I seriously loved.  I can't wait for the third book.
* Under the Dome:  I fussed about how long the book took me to finish but I still think about it all the time.  It's good.
The Help:  Another book that will stay with me.  I read a few books about the horrors that humans can inflict on others just based on religion or race or color of skin.  It's not right and this book sheds light on that.
* The Book Thief:  Wow.  Just an amazing book again, focusing on human horrors - this time the Holocaust.  The difference in this book is that the book centers on a different view, one of the German people, innocent and yet still living in fear.
* Infinite Days:  Another vampire book, yet so different.  It was nice to read something so very different. 
* The Passage:  Another long book that took me FOREVER to read but it was worth it.  Very good book about survival.

The low-lights of 2010

* Going Overboard:  The more I think about this one, the more I think it was a waste of time. 
* Out of Eden:  A very boring romance.
* Briar Rose:  Very disappointing to me.  I didn't enjoy the story and I really expected something different.
* The Dangerous Days of Daniel X:  Pointless read.  Good thing it was quick.
* Witch and Wizard:  Another pointless Patterson book.  I didn't enjoy it at all.

The good news is that I enjoyed more books than I disliked.  That's always a positive!  I'm really looking forward to 2011 and the wonderful books that it will bring!

New Author Challenge Wrap Up 2010

My goal for the New Author Challenge was to read 25 new authors for 2010.  I am happy to say that I completed that goal with a few extras.  I read 33 new authors in 2010.  Please note that these are new authors to me, not necessarily new authors to the industry.   The links are attached to the reviews here on my blog.

1. Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
2.  Lauren Kate
3. Jeffrey Stepakoff
4. Suzanne Collins
5. Aprilynne Pike
6. Kieran Scott
7. Rick Riordan
8. Christina Skye
9. Kathi Appelt
10. Kathryn Stockett
11. Beth Ciotta
12. Jane Yolen
13. Sarah Dessen
14. Markus Zusak
15. Anna Quindlen
16. Robin Benway
17. Shannon Hale
18. Rebecca Maizel
19. Barbara Freethy
20. David Nicholls
21. Cathie Beck
22. Dona Van Liere
23. Maureen Johnson
24. Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez
25. Lucy Dawson
26. Carrie Ryan
27. Linda Urban
28. Margaret Peterson Haddix
29. Lauren Oliver
30. James Manos Jr. 
31 Eva Ibbotson
32. James Cronin
33. Joanne Fluke

A to Z Challenge Wrap Up 2010

Way back in January of 2010, I committed to read a book by an author for every letter of the alphabet.  Not long into the year, I thought that I might as well do the title challenge as well.  Oops.  I soon realized that I had lost the joy in reading.  It had become a chore to find the book, read the book, and review the book. Back in July, I made the decision to stop pursuing the title portion of the challenge. 

I'm happy to report that I did read a book by an author for every letter of the alphabet!  I completed the goal that I set for myself in January so I'm satisfied with my reading for the year.  And yes, I cheated for "X"

Here is my completed list for the A to Z Challenge!

A = Appelt, Kathi  (Keeper)
B = Barry, Brunonia (The Map of True Places)
C = Collins, Suzanne (The Hunger Games)
D = Divakaruni, Chitra Banerjee (One Amazing Thing)
E = Evanovich, Janet (Hot Six)
F = Freethy, Barbara (On Shadow Beach)
G = Giffin, Emily (Heart of the Matter)
H = Harris, Charlaine (Club Dead)
I = Ibbotson, Eva (Journey to the River Sea)
J = Johnson, Maureen (13 Little Blue Envelopes)
K = Kate, Lauren (Fallen)
L = Lancaster, Jen (My Fair Lazy)
M = Maizel, Rebecca (Infinite Days)
N = Noel, Alyson (Evermore)
O = Oliver, Lauren (Before I Fall)
P = Pike, Aprilynne (Wings)
Q = Quindlen, Anna (Blessings)
R = Roberts, Nora (Bed of Roses)
S = Stepakoff, Jeffrey (Fireworks over Toccoa)
T = Trigiani, Adriana (Big Stone Gap)
U = Urban, Linda (A Crooked Kind of Perfect)
V = Van Liere, Donna (The Angels of Morgan Hill)
W = Wickham, Madeleine (A Desirable Residence)
X = Haddix, Margaret Peterson (Found)
Y = Yolen, Jane (Briar Rose)
Z = Zusak, Markus (The Book Thief)

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner by Stephenie Meyer

I was reluctant to jump back into the world of Twilight with an unfamiliar character so it took me a long time to read this book.  I enjoyed it quite a bit!  The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner is a short little book about a minor character in Eclipse.  Bree is one of the newborn army sent to distract the Cullens while Victoria went after Bella.

Because I've read Eclipse, and have seen the movie, I know how Bree's story ends so that made the whole thing a little difficult.  She's a smart little vampire who thinks about more than her next meal.  I also liked the character of Freaky Fred and would like to know more about where he went and how his story continued.

If you've read the Twilight saga, you might as well read this one.  It fits in nicely and gives a different perspective.

2 Quick Reviews

Almost done with my reviews for 2010. . . Just a few more.

Seven Up by Janet Evanovich is the seventh book in the Stephanie Plum series.  I do enjoy coming back to this series and hanging out with the characters for a few days.  In Seven Up, Stephanie is on the hunt for old Eddie DeChooch.  He's a slippery old guy who likes to shoot at Stephanie.  While looking for him, she has to locate her missing friends Dougie and Mooner.

It's a fun book, with a ton of humor and ridiculous situations.  It's exactly the kind of book to read when you just need to be entertained.  Plus there is the whole triangle between Stephanie, Morelli, and Ranger.  It just gets more intriguing.

Sugar Cookie Murder, by Joanne Fluke is part of a series but unfortunately I haven't read any of the other books.  I don't think I will either.  While I found parts of the book to be fun, the rest was just a little boring and didn't hold my interest. I was also surprised that the whole second half of the book was recipes!  They do look good so I'm going to keep the book!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Happy Ever After by Nora Roberts

I'm just so sad that this series is over.  Maybe Ms. Roberts can write a book about Mrs. G!  She's due a wedding of her own.  Anyway. . . Happy Ever After is the fourth book in the Bride Quartet.  It isn't my favorite of the series but I still enjoyed it very much.  It was nice to read just a good romance with very little conflict, just love.

I've grown to care for the gals at Vows and it was nice to at least get one wedding (Mac and Carter's) in this book.  I want one more book so that I can read about the other weddings!  In Happy Ever After, Parker continues to be grumpy at Mal and Mal continues to pursue Parker.  It's a match made in heaven.  If you've read the other books in the series, you've already met Mal and probably already figured out that he's perfect for the extremely organized Parker.  He messes with her life just enough to make it interesting.

The whole series is just romantic and fluffy.  If you like Nora Roberts, you've probably already picked up this series, but if not, I do recommend it.  They make you want a happy ever after of your own.

The Passage by Justin Cronin

Have you ever picked up a book, started reading, enjoyed it, but still didn't know if you could finish it?  The Passage, by Justin Cronin, was like that for me.  So, if you are considering reading this really great book, just plug through.  You'll be glad you did.

The focus of the story is Amy, a young child who is just a little different and very brilliant.  When her desperate mother leaves her at an orphanage, the government swoops in.  The government is creating super weapons - vampire like creatures - to combat terrorism.  Of course, nothing quite works out the way they planned and after a mass escape, the creatures invade and infect at least the United States.  It's never clear how far it spreads. 

The next part of the book is about a pocket of survivors who are living on borrowed time and old batteries, with a system of walls and bright lights to protect them from the "virals".  When Amy arrives at their village, they discover a secret and a few set out to bring Amy back to where it all started.

Mr. Cronin crafted a very well detailed story with many surprises.  It is long and epic, spanning many, many years, but it's gripping and disturbing.  While it may be a vampire story, these are not your typical vampires.  They are not charming, that's for sure.  They are scary and not terribly human at all.  If I have any minor complaint it's the transitions between "sections" of the book.  I felt like so much was left hanging and all of a sudden I was one hundred years in the future trying to get to know a new group of characters.  Once I figured things out, the story began to flow again.  That's minor and it might not bother other people - I have a very linear mind, time-lines are very important to me in the books I read.  I do highly recommend this novel.  Just set aside a good chunk of time.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella

I was slightly disappointed by Sophie Kinsella's last book so I was hesitant to read Twenties Girl but I thoroughly enjoyed it.  It's a fun story that provokes some deep thoughts.

The story centers on Lara, a woman who is struggling in many areas of her life.  Her perfect boyfriend isn't so perfect, her business partner has abandoned her, and work isn't exactly pouring in.  To top it off, she has to go to her great Aunt Sadie's funeral, where Great Aunt Sadie's ghost happens to show up -with Lara the only one that can see her.   Sadie asks Lara to help find a necklace - and stop the funeral until she does. 

Sadie wants to have fun in her afterlife.  She wants to dance, flirt, and be playful.  Lara has a life to lead and work to do.  The odd pair finally work out a system to benefit them both, all while Lara searches for the missing necklace.

Twenties Girl is a book that will put a smile on your face while making you think about your own family and who and what is important to you.  Enjoy!

Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis

I still haven't seen the new movie version of Voyage of the Dawn Treader, so this review is strictly on the book, which is a good one.  I've been trying to journey through Narnia for several years now.  I think I received the set of books when I was around twelve or thirteen.  That means I've had them for well over twenty years.  I kept reading The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe over and over and over again.  I am now making progress.  I'm at least keeping up with the movies!

Voyage of the Dawn Treader is quite a fun adventure book.  We are introduced to Eustace, a spoiled cousin of the Pevensies.  Lucy and Edmond go to stay with Eustace and his family one summer and are whisked back into Narnia, with Eustace along for the ride.  They are hauled aboard a ship called the Dawn Treader where they find their old friends Caspian, Reepicheep, and others.  The ship is sailing to find the seven lost Lords of Narnia.

Through their search, they encounter strange islands and odd creatures.  This is where the story really gets going.  In my opinion this is one of the lighter and more fun books in the series.  I thoroughly enjoyed it and I regret that I didn't read it twenty years ago.  It could almost be read as a stand-alone book if someone was not familiar with the rest of the series.  Voyage of the Dawn Treader is recommended for all ages but there are a few places that might be a little intense.  If your kids aren't reading independently at this level, I recommend you read it with them.  You'll all enjoy it.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson

I picked up Journey to the River Sea, by Eva Ibbotson, strictly because I needed a book written by an "I" author.  Fortunately I chose wisely and thanks to the A to Z Challenge, I found a wonderful book that I probably would never have looked at otherwise.

Maia is an orphan who is leaving the security of her boarding school in England to travel to the Amazon to live with distant relatives.  She has images of her twin cousins becoming fast friends, and having adventures in the jungle.  Once she arrives, she realizes that nothing is as it seems.  Her aunt is paranoid, her uncle unaware, and her cousins are downright creepy.  It is Miss Minton, Maia's nanny and teacher, who protects Maia from her awful family.

Maia does find her adventure in the jungle, and with a great cast of characters, we the readers go along for the ride.  Journey to the River Sea is one of those special books that is going to stay with me.  I plan to share this book with many people and I really highly recommend it.  If any of you are teachers, it's an excellent book to read aloud, with all the twists and turns.

Family Affair by Debbie Macomber

Family Affair, by Debbie Macomber, is one of those quick, light reads that are good to fit in between big serious books. That being said, sometimes they are too quick and too light.

Lacey is recovering from a painful divorce and moves into a new apartment. Her neighbor is relentless in pursuing her but she wants nothing to do with him. Through a series of misunderstandings, the two finally connect.

This book is a re-print from an original publishing date of 1994. I definitely see a difference in Ms. Macomber's writing style and quality of work. It's cute but there is very little substance.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Another Response to Little Ellie Claus

*Spoiler Alert* 

If you don't want to know how the story ends, please skip this post and go down to the next, where there is a nice mild review. 

You know how some books stick with you, good or bad?  Some books I read, put away and don't really think much about.  Others seem to stay with me and Little Ellie Claus, by James Manos Jr. has.  Not in a good way.  I keep thinking, and thinking, and thinking about this story.  I thought about writing a letter to the author but I can't find an e-mail address. 

Here's my problem. . . I'm adopted.  I was adopted at birth and my parents are amazing.  They have done nothing but love and support me my entire life.  If, at age eleven, my birth parents had come back into my life, there is absolutely no way my parents would have just waved goodbye to me.  There is no way I would have let them. 

In Little Ellie Claus, Ellie finds out that she is adopted (not formally or legally, but essentially she was adopted).  She's only eleven years old but she immediately takes off for New York to find her birth mother.  There was nothing pointing to a strained or difficult relationship between Ellie and her parents.  She was raised by Santa and Mrs. Claus!  What could be bad?  When Ellie finds her birth mother, she bonds with her immediately and after some drama, she says goodbye to the parents who raised her so she could stay with the mother who was forced to give her up many years earlier. 

I can't imagine that the author really understands how adoption works, not the legal aspect, but the emotional bond.  Ellie was an infant when Santa took her in.  She had no memory of her birth mother, so why the instant bond?  I find it all very disturbing and frankly the ending ruined the book for me.  That's all I have to say.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Little Ellie Claus by James Manos Jr.

Little Ellie Claus, by James Manos Jr. has been sitting unread on my shelf for quite a while.  I was determined to read it this year.  Lucy and Peter are young, in love, and setting off on an adventure.  With all their pets in tow, they head to New York in 1933 where Peter has been offered a job.  When things don't work out quite like they hoped, they struggle along with most of the country, in the midst of depression.

I feel that almost everything else I put in a summary will ruin the story, so I'm going to refrain.  There were a few things that I loved about the story.  The basic idea was really great and I knew from the beginning that something I didn't like was going to happen.  It worried me and I considered putting the book back on the shelf.  I did plod through and I found a lot of joy in the story.  Peter and Lucy were great characters, with a lot of life and warmth.  Santa and Mrs. Claus were joyful and fun loving, just as Santa should be. 

I did not care for the character of Henry.  I didn't get it.  He confused me and was way to excitable.  He wasn't necessary to the plot.  I also had a problem with the very end.  Without giving anything away, I am an adoptee and I don't feel that the end was handled very well.  It just wouldn't happen.  Very hard to be specific without giving things away!!!

I think the book is worth a read.  It's pretty short and could be read fairly quickly.  I would go in knowing that some characters may annoy you and that the ending is a bit rushed.

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

I had no concept of what to expect with Before I Fall, by Lauren Oliver.  I bought it for my Kindle and by the time I read it, I had completely forgotten the summary and didn't bother to look it up online again!  All that to say that I was surprised by what I was reading.  The basic concept -and I don't think I'm giving anything away here - is that a teenager, Sam,  must re-live one day of her life, over and over and over again until she figures things out. 

I don't want to re-cap the story but I do want to hit some key points.  Sam is popular at school and can be a bit of a mean girl.  That struck me a bit because I can't relate.   Fortunately, Sam is a good person at heart and gets better as the story progresses.  The novel deals with drunk driving, bullying, and many other real teen issues.  I loved that it was real in that sense.  Sam had plans to lose her virginity to her boyfriend and as she relives that day over and over again, she realizes that he's probably not the one for her. She also tries to help the girl who is constantly picked on and finds that while her parents might not be cool, they are still fun to be with.

I really loved the story and the concept.  It was gripping and while it could have been boring to relive a day with the main character so many times, there were enough differences that I wanted to see what would happen next.  While I didn't love the ending - I was hoping for something different - I see where it was supposed to go and it all fits.  This book is appropriate for older teens because of the subject matter - and of course all you adults who love young adult books.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Call Me Mrs. Miracle by Debbie Macomber

Call Me Mrs Miracle, by Debbie Macomber, is the second Mrs. Miracle book.  It's a sweet, predictable story but I did find that I enjoyed it more than expected.  The story centers on Holly, a woman struggling to stay afloat in bad economic times.  She recently took custody of her eight-year-old nephew, Gabe.  Holly's brother Mickey has been deployed to Afghanistan and Gabe has nowhere else to go. 

Holly meets Jake Finley, son of the head of Finley's Department Store.  Jake and Holly have a very instant attraction and with a little help from one of Jake's employee's, Mrs. Miracle, they grow close.  As in the book Mrs. Miracle, several characters come together for a nice happy ending, despite a bit of drama. 

I'm not always a huge fan of sticky sweet books but I'm trying to embrace them this December!  While I think the whole story was rushed and that the so-called drama, really was anti-climatic, I was happy with the end.  I'm sure Mrs. Miracle will be back next Christmas with another family to help. 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

I read Mockingjay back in August so I can't believe I'm just now getting to review it!  Warning, don't read this if you haven't already read The Hunger Games and Catching Fire.  I can't promise not to spoil anything.

In Mockingjay, Katniss finds herself in District 13, which isn't supposed to exist anymore.  She learns that there is an underground army forming and she is expected to be the face of the revolt.  They want her, the Mockingjay, to be their spokeswoman of sorts.  She does the job but she has an agenda of her own, to kill President Snow.

Mockingjay is full of action, just as the previous two books.  The arena is gone and in it's place is the Capitol, just as nasty and full of traps as the arenas were.  Katniss, Peeta, and Gail have to make their way through the Capitol to get to the President.  It isn't easy.

The book was good yet I felt something was missing.  It didn't leave me with the insane love I felt when I read The Hunger Games.  I am satisfied with the ending and the story but I wasn't blown away.  I feel like Katniss was a little too whiny and broken.  She hid in closets instead of facing what needed to be faced.  Yes, she'd been through hell twice, but I wanted her to be stronger.  I wanted her to be bold and not hide away.  But that's only my opinion.  The Hunger Games Trilogy is a great series and I encourage everyone to read the books.  I'm so very glad I did and I look forward to whatever Suzanne Collins has coming out next.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Booking Through Thursday - 9 DEC

I haven't participated a Booking Through Thursday in quite a while but I'm ready to jump back in.  (I hope.  I make no promises!  My life is kinda crazy.)

So today's topic: 

Do you ever crave reading crappy books?

Oh yeah, I definitely do.  I balance every notable book with at least five crappy books.  And I love them all!!!  I'm all about the light and fluffy reading.  The fluffier the book, the better.  I actually don't think they are crappy at all.  Unless they are, because some books are REALLY crappy. 

A Whole Bunch of Reviews!!!

I am behind in my reviews which is fairly typical for this time of year.  I looked at the past history and August is when the downward spiral begins.  In order to at least say something about each of the books I’ve read this year, I thought I’d do a quick post which includes short and simple reviews of a few books.  

A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban

This is a very sweet little story about a young girl, Zoe, with a desire to play the piano.  Not only does she want to play the piano, she wants to be a maestro!  So her dad buys her an organ.  She embraces her new instrument with as much enthusiasm as she can as she and her teacher prepare for her to perform in a competition.  The story is about how a family that doesn’t quite fit the ideal, is actually pretty perfect in their own way.  It’s very good and I highly recommend it.

Found by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Found is the first book in a series by Ms. Haddix and I was a bit disappointed that more of the story wasn’t resolved before the book ended.  I haven’t read the second book yet and I feel as if I still haven’t finished the book.  The story revolves around two friends who discover that they were both adopted and there is a big mystery surrounding where they came from.  I didn’t love the book and really can’t recommend it unless you plan to read the series.  

Club Dead by Charlaine Harris

This is the third book in the Sookie Stackhouse series.  It’s a nice addition to the series and moves quickly.  Bill is missing and Sookie enlists the help of a werewolf, Alcide, to help her find him.  I love Alcide.  Honestly, I can’t remember all of the details but I remember the end and that Sookie stood up for herself.  Good for her. 

Witch and Wizard by James Patterson

Well, I read it.  All of it.  That’s about all I can say about this book.  At least it was a very fast read.  The book was silly, the characters were a bit manic, and the plot had holes.  I didn’t like it at all and don’t plan to continue the series unless the book falls in my lap and I have nothing better to do.

Metro Girl by Janet Evanovich

Metro Girl is a fun, quick read that I really did enjoy.   Metro Girl introduces us to Alex “Barney” Barnaby, the daughter of a mechanic who knows her way around an engine.  She heads to Miami when her brother disappears and she’s determined to find him.  During her search, she meets Sam Hooker, a NASCAR driver who sets his sights on Alex.  The two get mixed up with interesting characters and head off into dangerous situations on their search.  If you are familiar with Janet Evanovich’s writing, you’ll recognize the formula in the Metro Girl books, but they are fun and worth a read if you are looking for something quick and entertaining.

The Grand Finale by Janet Evanovich

The Grand Finale is a quirky, fun little piece of fluff.  Berry owns a pizza shop and hired three homeless ladies as delivery people.  The only problem is that they weren’t really cut out for deliveries, meaning Berry had to do it herself.  While out on a delivery, she climbs a tree to help a cat and of course falls out of the tree after getting a good look at a half naked man.  The man she was supposed to be delivering pizza for.  Jake falls hard for Berry and her trio of old ladies.   They form an odd little family with a very sweet happy ever after.  This is definitely a light read and there isn’t a whole lot of substance but sometimes it’s nice to not think so much. 

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Dead Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan

Because I loved The Forest of Hands and Teeth so very much, I had to read The Dead Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan.  While I didn't adore it as much as the first book in the series, it still ranks very high.  It's definitely one of my favorite books for 2010.

The Dead Tossed Waves takes place several years after The Forest of Hands and Teeth.  Mary is living in a lighthouse with her daughter Gabry in the small town of Vista.  Their job is to kill the unconsecrated (zombies), called mudo in this book, that wash up on the shores.  Gabry is completely content in her little town and has a crush on Catcher, the brother of her best friend.  In one night, everything goes wrong and Gabry finds herself on the run with Catcher, Cira, and a new friend Elias.

Gabry's past is exposed and she finds out that she wasn't quite who she thought she was.  Just like in the first book of the series, the story is action packed and heartbreaking.  The love triangle between Elias, Catcher and Gabry is sweet and I'm still left unsure of who she will ultimately choose.

The story will continue in a third book out this coming spring (2011) and I really look forward to what it brings.  If you've read The Forest of Hands and Teeth, there is no excuse to skip The Dead Tossed Waves but I do suggest you read Forest first as it does set the back story.  Go read!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

With little knowledge of the book but based on good recommendations, I decided to give The Forest of Hands and Teeth, by Carrie Ryan, a try.  Wow.  I am really glad I did.  Although I don't have a love for all thing Zombies, like some of my friends, I definitely loved this book.  I loved it so much I bought the sequel when I was only fifty pages in.

The story is about Mary, a young woman who is looking forward to her future.  She lives in a small village that happens to be surrounded by fences.  The fences are to protect the villagers from the "unconsecrated", we know them better as zombies.  When Mary loses her mother to the unconsecrated, she is forced to live with the Sisters, who run the town.  She begins to learn more about the unconsecrated and some of the town's secrets.  When the village is breached, she and some of her friends are forced into the forest on a series of protected paths.

Mary's goal is to get to the ocean.  She'd heard stories of it's existence but she had been so secluded in her village that she isn't sure it is still there.  The book moves quickly, with a great deal of action and adventure.  It's heartbreaking and terrifying.  I was so wrapped up in the story that I found myself dreaming about it!  That's the first time in a long time I can say that.  For fans of The Hunger Games, you'll see a similar quest for survival.  I highly recommend this book and can't say enough good things about it.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Carousel by Richard Paul Evans

The Carousel, by Richard Paul Evans, is a sweet but heartbreaking love story.  While it was a quick read, I wouldn't say that it was enjoyable.  Mr. Evans seems to write in the same vein as Nicholas Sparks.  Lovely little stories of love and tragedy.  One needs to be in the right mood to enjoy the books.  In this case, I'm writing the review a couple of months late and honestly, I had to look back through the book to remember it.  Uh oh.

My quick review in my journal - which is always written on time - states:  "Sweet and sad.  I'm not sure what to think!  It was good, just slow."

See I thought it was a quick read but maybe it wasn't.  Or maybe I meant slow moving?  Either way, I was confused then and I'm confused now.  The story revolves around Michael and Faye.  Michael is working his way through law school while Faye was about to begin medical school, several states away from their home in Utah.  Faye and Michael are deeply in love but Faye's father does not approve of the relationship.  Impulsively they get married but keep it a secret as they are living separate lives in different parts of the country.   Family tragedy strikes, as well as a personal one for the couple.  They are torn apart and their relationship changes.  I won't tell you what happens.

I don't think that there is anything remarkable about the story.  It wasn't good and it wasn't bad, it was just a story.  If you need a quick (I think) read, you might consider picking up The Carousel.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

What My Best Friend Did by Lucy Dawson

What My Best Friend Did, by Lucy Dawson, is a story of a young woman dealing with a friend who is suffering from a mental illness.  It's fairly depressing as a whole and I had a hard time relating to it.  That's probably a good thing.

Alice is a young woman, living with her longtime boyfriend when she meets Gretchen.  She and Gretchen become fast friends and Alice finds herself pulling away from Tom, her boyfriend.  When she begins a flirtation with Bailey, Gretchen's brother, things start to fall apart.

Alice soon learns that Gretchen is suffering from bi-polar disorder and is not always rational, especially when off her medication.  Alice feels guilty and responsible for helping to care for Gretchen even though she is dealing with her own problems.

I didn't really care for any of the characters in this story, except for Tom.  Alice was whiny, Gretchen was manic, and Bailey was selfish.  Tom was the only one who seemed to be relate-able.  Maybe it's because I have not had personal experience with mental illness, but I found the story to be boring and annoying.  I wish I enjoyed it more.  The big reveal at the end was even a let down.  This is one of those books that I will forget quickly.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Three Kings by Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez


The Three Kings by Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez was really an interesting read.  By the description I thought it was going to be a light and fluffy romance novel but it was actually pretty light on the romance.  My overall thoughts on the book were quite positive but I have a few minor issues which I’ll get to in a moment.  

Christy is a very successful interior designer.  She makes a lot of money and has been able to “escape” the barrio and live a very different life than her Mexican American family.  I grew up -and still live- in an area with a huge Mexican population.  I recognized many of the stereotypes laughed about in the book because I do see them on a daily basis.  Christy makes sure that nobody thinks she is Mexican.  She is Mexican American.  I never thought about the difference before.  

Christy is recently divorced so of course her family wants her to get married again.  Her wonderful cousin, Maggie, invites three men to one of her family dinners.  The three Reyes cousins, Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar all agree to take Christy on a series of dates at the end of which she’ll decide which she wants to continue to see.  They all open her eyes to who she has become and where she came from.  She learns important lessons from all three men and ultimately is a better person by the end.  

I learned some of the lessons along with Christy and I love that part of the book.  I love her realizations about her family and her background.  My only complaint is that I felt some parts were missing.  Somehow I missed her third date with Melchior which I assume didn’t happen but there was no mention of her cancelling.  I felt that parts of the story was disjointed.  Overall, I do recommend the story.  It’s really quite sweet.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson

13 Little Blue Envelopes, by Maureen Johnson, is a story about discovering the world, and oneself.  When Ginny’s aunt passes away, she is surprised to receive an envelope with instructions for a trip to Europe.  She can only bring a backpack, no guides, no language books, no electronics - including cell phones, and no extra money.  

For someone like me, that sounds completely terrifying.  Ginny embraced it as well as she could considering she was seventeen years old.  That was the biggest hurdle for me to get over.  She was only seventeen and her parents let her go to Europe completely on her own with now way to contact her?  My parents never would have considered that.  

Ultimately, the tasks that Ginny must complete - all told in a set of thirteen blue envelopes, allow her to grow as a person, discover who her aunt really was, and learn about the world.  She faces challenges that would defeat a normal person but she did what she had to do and was better for it.  She survived.  

I highly recommend this to anyone who likes to travel -regardless of age.  It’s an adventure for Ginny and the reader as we wait to find out what her aunt has in store for her next. 

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Angels of Morgan Hill by Donna Van Liere

The Angels of Morgan Hill, by Donna Van Liere is an extremely sweet book that kept me turning the pages.  The narrator shifts between a few characters but the principle narrator is Jane, a nine-year-old girl who has just lost her father.   The story is set in the late 1940’s in a small town in Tennessee.  The times are hard, the jobs are scarce, and life isn’t easy for the Gable family.  

After Jane and John’s father dies, their mother, Fran, struggles to raise her kids while dealing with the news that there is another baby on the way.  When a black family moves to town, the Gable family’s life is turned upside down.  Fran forms a friendship with Addy, despite what people think.  

I don’t want to give anything away but when the worst happens, the people of Morgan Hill come together to make things right.  They are the Angels of Morgan Hill.  The core group of characters are so wonderful to each other that it makes me long for a tight knit community like that.

While the ending was a little too neat and tidy, the story moved along at such a rapid pace, with so much happening in the span of a year, it was a relief to have a tidy ending!  I didn’t know what to expect from Donna Van Liere but I can say that this is a beautiful story with some good lessons.  It isn’t perfect but it’s worth a read. 

Monday, October 4, 2010

Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick

Crescendo, by Becca Fitzpatrick, is the sequel to Hush, Hush, which I reviewed in 2009.  In this sequel - which may be better than the original - Nora learns more about her family history and the death of her father.  The story begins with Nora and Patch happily dating although he is now her guardian angel.  He isn’t supposed to fall in love which causes a rift between the two.  

Nora begins to see her father - her dead father - and has strange dreams.  She becomes suspicious of a new guy in school and struggles with her lab partner in her summer school chemistry class.   

I enjoyed Crescendo, probably more than I did Hush, Hush.  I’m not sure I can explain why but I thought the story was richer.  I suppose it built on the story, as it should.  Both are good, exciting reads for teens (and adults like me).  I’m anxious for the next book as once again, we were left with a cliff hanger.  If you’ve started the series, I encourage you to continue it.   If you are new, make sure you pick up Hush, Hush first.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Cheap Cabernet: A Friendship by Cathie Beck

I'll be honest with you. . . I wasn't in the mood to read a memoir and I really didn't want to read a sappy story of friendship.  I was dealing with my own friend drama at the time I picked this book up and my mind was soured to the thought of reading it.  I'm so glad I did though.  It's certainly not sappy.  Thank goodness.

Cheap Cabernet: A Friendship is written by Cathie Beck, who had a friend named Denise.  This book is their story.  Cathie was in desperate need of friends and decided to start a women's group in order to find those friends.  While the group met for about a year and a half, the purpose of the group was fulfilled the first night with one person.  Cathie and Denise clicked in that rare, special way.  Denise was also suffering from MS.

Through their few years of friendship, they had extreme highs and lows where they wouldn't talk for weeks.  They argued, they disapproved, they laughed, and they celebrated.  I encourage you to read, enjoy, and grieve a friendship that ended too soon.  While I didn't love everything about it, I can respect the emotion behind it.

Monday, August 23, 2010

A Desirable Residence by Madeleine Wickham

A Desirable Residence, by Madeline Wickham, is a story with multiple characters and a hazy ending.  The story centers on the Chambers family.  Liz and Jonathan buy a tutorial college taking out several loans to do so.  They are both teachers and are anxious to get going on their new venture.  Their daughter Alice is a sulky teen who smokes in the garage of the house she no longer lives in.  Other characters include Marcus the realtor who is attempting to help Liz rent her house,  and Ginny and Piers, the new tenants.  We also get to see the story through the eyes of Marcus's stressed out wife and his two sons.

The lives of these characters intertwine in a very believable way.  There are affairs, crushes, obsessions, and career failures that color the few months time in which the book takes place.  We are ultimately left with a bit of hope and a bit of heartbreak.  The story never really ends.  There isn't a neat and tidy ending for any of them.  I'm still wondering where Ginny and Piers went.

All in all, the story was entertaining enough to keep me reading.  I was hoping for a happy ending.  Every book I read lately has an open ending.  I need to find a happy ever after book to read next!  It's a good book but not a great one.  It's worth a read.

Monday, August 16, 2010

One Day by David Nicholls

I had high hopes for One Day, by David Nicholls, and most of them were met.  The story is about a man and a woman who meet on July 15, 1988.  Every chapter takes place on July 15, year by year, for twenty years.  Emma wants to be a writer who changes the world.  She's a bit of an idealist at times.  Dexter just wants to have fun.  He wants to travel and do things that are exciting.

Despite their differences, their friendship thrives.  They have years where they don't talk at all.  They have years where they lean heavily on each other.  There are some chapters when I hated Dexter.  I hated that he drank too much, partied too much, and didn't realize that Emma was there for him.  There were chapters where I hated Emma.  She was too complacent and accepting of her dull life.  I, being the hopeless romantic, wanted them to fall in love from the start.

As frustrating as the story was at times, I couldn't help but want to know what was going to happen next.  A year in their lives would go by as I moved to a new chapter, but talented writing filled in the gaps.  Ultimately, the book left me heartbroken - but in a good way.  I miss Dex and Em.  Em and Dex.  I look forward to meeting them again in the upcoming movie.

One Day is a very high concept novel that really works.  It's just right.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin

Heart of the Matter, by Emily Giffin is one of those books that is completely frustrating and yet completely readable. The story is a triangle of sorts, two women, one man.

Tessa and Nick have been married for years, with two small children. By all accounts, they have a satisfying, happy marriage. Nick is a surgeon and works odd hours, something the family is used to. When Nick meets Valerie, the mother of a young boy in his care, he is instantly attracted.

The reader is treated to two views. We see the story through Tessa's eyes as she begins to doubt her husband's faithfulness. We see the story through Valerie's eyes as a woman who is falling fast for the good looking doctor. Personally, I liked both women. That's what made it all so difficult. I also kind of liked Nick despite him being a cheating husband.

I've read a few other books by Emily Giffin and recognized some of the characters from past books. I always enjoy those little connections. Heart of the Matter is a solid read with believable characters and a believable situation. I recommend it

On Shadow Beach by Barbara Freethy

My mother is very picky about books, movies, etc.  When she likes something, I take notice.  She enjoyed On Shadow Beach, by Barbara Freethy, and I did too.  It's always nice to read a romance novel with some substance.  Solving a murder that took place thirteen years prior, is good substance, especially when you care about the characters and don't figure out who "did it" until the end of the book.  I didn't even read ahead!  That's an accomplishment for me.

Lauren returns to Angel's Bay thirteen years after her sister was violently murdered.  Lauren had turned her back on the town and the people in it, including her father and her ex-boyfriend, Shane.   When Lauren and Shane meet again, their old attraction remains, despite the rift between them, and the lingering suspicion that he had something to do with Abby's death.  They join forces to finally solve Abby's murder and clear Shane's name.

The book was a quick and very satisfying read.  I found out later that it is the second in a series which upsets me because I'm very linear in my thinking.  I don't like reading books out of order!  That being said, I will definitely be looking for the first book and will continue the series.  I'm excited to find a new author that I enjoy!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Infinite Days by Rebecca Maizel

Finally!  I've been on a hunt for a young adult novel that was satisfying, and I finally read one!  Infinite Days, by Rebecca Maizel, is yet another vampire story.  The good thing is that it's new and different - at least to me.  The story is about Lenah, a 500 year old vampire who becomes human again - as a sixteen year old high school student.  She tries to find her place at the exclusive boarding school she's attending, while getting used to being mortal. There is danger lurking as her coven eagerly awaits for her awakening, unaware that she is human.

One thing that I appreciated about this novel is that Lenah wasn't terribly sorry for her life of murder and viciousness.  She accepted it.  She wasn't tortured by her past -at least at first.  I appreciate that she wasn't a tortured soul.  Lenah's romance with Justin was a bit rushed and didn't quite feel genuine to me.  I'm hoping that in the future books in the series, he will become more defined, and that we will learn what he's truly about.  I found myself quite suspicious of him but at this point there is no reason for that.

I definitely recommend this book to fans of the supernatural.  As I prove, you don't have to be a teen to appreciate a good young adult book.  I do recommend this for older teens as there is a bit of violence and a fairly casual attitude toward sex.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Actor and the Housewife by Shannon Hale

The Actor and the Housewife, by Shannon Hale, is a charmer.  It took me a long time to read and not because I disliked the book but because it was deceivingly long!  While the paperback looked completely normal,  the paper was thin and the font was small.  That's my theory anyway. 

The story is about a housewife, Becky, who loves her husband and children fiercely.  She loves being a wife and mother.  You can feel how much while reading.  She's so satisfied and happy.  It was nearly unrealistic, but Becky is such a real character that it was hard to find fault.  Felix, the actor, is Becky's best friend.  They meet while Becky is in Los Angeles selling a screenplay.  They become enamored of each other in a strictly platonic way - at least on Becky's part.  Felix is British, charming, successful, and terribly witty.  I fell in love with him.  I confess.

The dialogue between the two main characters made me smile.  It was fun, quirky and you could feel the chemistry.  I wanted this story to be a romance so badly!  But maybe at heart it really was.  If this story has a weakness, it's that Becky and Felix weren't together enough.  The two were magical together.  When they were apart, when Becky was going on and on about how happy she was with her family, it got a little long.  That's minor though.

Becky is a Mormon so there are several mentions of her faith and her relationship with God.   This doesn't bother me in the slightest but let that serve as a warning for those who would be bothered.  This is a great story of friendship that I highly recommend.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Decision

Reading is one of my favorite things.  (Big surprise!)  It's not quite top 5 for priorities in my life but it's right up there.  Everything about books makes me happy.  That being said, I'm not enjoying reading at the moment.  I started out the year planning on doing the A to Z Challenge and the New Author Challenge.  For the A to Z Challenge, my goal was to read an author for every letter.  I'm doing pretty well actually.  At some point I decided to do the titles as well.  That is fifty-two books just for that challenge.  As last year's total was around fifty I knew it was possible. 

It's probably still possible but I'm just not going to pursue it anymore.  I'll leave up the list on the right and fill it in as I read something that fits but trying to read that many books because they fit into the alphabet was taking too much pleasure out of reading.  I'm still planning on finishing the author section.  That was the original goal and it's really possible.  The titles will have to wait until next year - if I choose to continue.  The idea of picking a book off my shelf because I want to read it sounds pretty good right about now. 

Why do I put the pressure on myself?  I'll never know.  I have enough work/home/dog pressures to stress about what I'm reading - especially if I don't like what I'm reading.  Why bother?   The freedom of that decision makes me incredibly happy by the way.  I look forward to choice.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May, & June by Robin Benway

I wasn't sure what to expect from The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May, & June by Robin Benway.  I wasn't sure if it was a superhero novel or something supernatural.  Really, it was a neither.  It was at heart a story about growing up, dealing with circumstances beyond control, and living with changes.  Add in a few "super powers" and you have a strong story.

April, May, and June are sisters who are dealing with their parent's divorce.  They've moved to a new town with their mother while their father moves to a different state.  While dealing with a new school in a new town, strange abilities - that they noticed briefly as children - manifest themselves again.  April discovers that she can see the future, May can disappear, and June can read minds.  Initially their abilities are exciting but when April starts getting visions of a dangerous situation, her need to protect her sisters hurts their relationship.  They learn that they do best when working together.

I enjoyed this more than I expected.  It's a quick read and it's an interesting story.  I wonder if there is a sequel planned which might explain more about how the girls got their abilities.  It was hinted that there was a family history and I'd like to know more.  Highly recommended for older teens and adults as there is some alcohol usage and talk of sex.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

4th of July by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro

4th of July, by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro, is the fourth book in the Women's Murder Club series.  I've been slowly making my way through the series even though each is a quick typical Patterson read.  The characters are established and the rythym moves the story along.  The introduction of Yuki brings the group of women back up to four.  I read a lot of James Patterson's books although I have mixed feelings about them.  I won't get into all of that here and just try to review the book.  

This book begins with a horrible event that sends Lindsey to her sister's home in Half Moon Bay.  She needs a retreat and a break from the situation back in San Francisco.  The news of murders in the quiet town peaks her interest and she becomes involved with local police force.  She's suspicious about a link to the current murders and a John Doe that has haunted her since early in her career.

Lindsey's friends, Claire and Cindy, make cameo appearances but the focus is truly on Lindsey.  This is all her story.   Her boyfriend literally appears here and there as he flies back and forth to Washington.  I don't have high hopes for this long distance relationship.

I figured out one of the murderers towards the end of the book but the others were unexpected.  It was nice to not feel the need to read ahead (I'm a last page reader) as the book moved so quickly.  While it's not the best writing in the world, it is still a solid story and was fine for a summer read.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Blessings by Anna Quindlen

Blessings, by Anna Quindlen is one of those books where the story just stays with you because of it's simplicity.  There isn't an overwhelming plot, no truly unexpected twist, and a relatively small cast of characters.  It's truly the story of two people and how a baby that doesn't belong to either of them, changes their lives.

Skip is a young man who was in the wrong place at the wrong time.  After being released from jail, he goes to work for Mrs. Blessing.  She is an elderly woman who owns the grandest estate in the area.  She likes Skip and hires him as her groundskeeper.  She's formal, stuffy, and very much into her routine. She's got secrets though and is not as perfect as she looks.  They are an odd pair.

Skip finds a baby that was left at the estate and secretly cares for her.  He's afraid to turn her in and grows to love the baby girl, considering himself her father.  When Mrs. Blessing finds out about little Faith, she assists in her care and the deception.

The descriptions of the house and land are so lovely that the house almost becomes a character in the novel.  Mrs. Blessing is described so beautifully that I can see her standing at her window, looking disapprovingly at everything she sees. While the book isn't long, it is full of wonderful words.  I truly enjoyed the story and recommend it to everyone.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Insatiable by Meg Cabot

Disclaimer:  I am a fan of Meg Cabot.  I enjoy many of her books (not all) and I think she writes fun, quirky stories.  So I really wanted to enjoy Insatiable.  It's a vampire story by an author I enjoy!  What could go wrong?  Only a few things.

The story focuses on Meena, a writer for a soap opera called Insatiable.  When her new boss wants to do a vampire storyline, she gets upset because there are too many vampire stories out there.  While out walking the dog in the middle of the night, she meets a mysterious man who saves her from a swarm of bats - in the middle of New York City.  He sweeps her into a quick and intense relationship before telling her the truth about who - and what - he is.

The good . . . Everything moves along quickly and the supporting characters are quirky and fun, despite being slightly annoying.  The story builds off the historical story of Vlad the Impaler and I enjoyed the more traditional vampire traits - as seen in Bram Stoker's Dracula.  The historical take on things was interesting a different from what I've been reading.  I also appreciated that Lucian was not completely reformed.  He wasn't attacking innocents but he had a temper and he wasn't perfect.  Meena recognized this and that was good too.  It's nice to see a realistic heroine. 

The bad. . . The writing was slightly choppy with needless descriptions.  We (the readers) don't need to be told that Jon is her brother at end of the book.  We've been reading, we know this.  Jon is a major character.  That annoyed me.  The whole story took place in a matter of days which didn't give a lot of time to build a romance.  I'm assuming that this is the start of a series and the end was definitely left open to a sequel.  I do like a more solid ending.  Despite that, I will be reading the next book that comes along.  I'm interested enough to continue but not excited enough to mark my calender. 

Vampire fans may like the "pure" version of the vamps in the story but I don't know that it will satisfy.   I guess we'll just have to wait for next summer.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Looking Back

It's July 2nd, which means the year is half over.  Amazing. I still have a few reviews to catch up on but I want to review my year so far.  I hate when I get behind in my reviews. . .

2010 started out as a great year for reading.  I started off with my plan to at least complete the author side of the A - Z Challenge.  At some point I started reading titles too so now I am overwhelmed with all the books I need to read.  Lovely.  I'm doing all right though and I have a vacation coming in October which means lots of reading will be done.  I'm over halfway to my goal. 

January:  I read five books which is a really good start to the month.  All five counted toward my author goal which was fantastic.  My favorite for January was The Hunger Games.  I can't wait to read Mockingjay in August.  Unfortunately it won't count toward my goal.  My least favorite in January was Fireworks over Toccoa which was a good book.  It was hard to pick a least-favorite. 

February:  I only finished two books in February because the majority of the month was taken up by a book I finished in March.   Both books were good with Hot Six in the lead.  It was a good installment in the Stephanie Plum series and I was happy to hang out with Stephanie, Ranger and Joe Morelli again. 

March:  Four books finished in March.  That's pretty standard for me and it was good to finish Under the Dome and move on.  Ironically, it was my favorite book of the month so despite the fact that it took FOREVER to read, I did enjoy the book.   My least favorite was Going Overboard which wasn't great.

April:  Four books again.  I really can't pick a favorite.  While all four were good solid reads, none stand out enough for me to reward them.  

May:  I read eight books in May!  Wow!  That's pretty amazing for me.  I did go on a quick vacation but that is still a significant total for me.  The book I enjoyed the most was My Fair Lazy.  It was so fun.  It made me happy!

June:  I read five books in June which keeps me on track.  My favorite was The Book Thief but I liked all the books I read during the month.  It was a good month. 

Now I need to catch up on late reviews and move on toward July. 

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Wow.  That's the perfect word for The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak.  Yes, I loved the book.  I thought it was brilliantly written, incredibly moving, and terribly devastating.  This is the second book I've read that takes place during World War II and the Holocaust.  Believe it or not, I have two more on tap for the year.  Sometimes book themes come in waves, usually unintentionally.  I figure I'm supposed to be learning something.  I hope I do.

What makes The Book Thief different, and special, is that it is not the story of the soldiers.  It isn't the story of the Jewish people.  It's a story about a German family, trying to survive.  Obviously I knew that not every German during that time period was a Nazi, but I rarely thought about the people living in a devastated country, led by an insane ruler.

The Book Thief is narrated by Death -who or what he is can be your interpretation.  I choose to believe he was an angel of death, taking souls to some Heavenly processing center.  Death is moved -as much as death can be- by a young girl named Liesel and he tells her story.  Liesel's mother can not take care of her anymore due to her ties with the communist party.  On the way to Munich, where Liesel and her brother will be placed in foster care, Liesel's brother dies.  At his funeral, she spies a book in the snow and steals it, having no idea what it is called or what it's about.

Fortunately for Liesel, she is placed in a good home with good people.  Sure Mama has a temper and a foul mouth.  She still treats her new daughter with love.  Papa is wonderful.  He is warm and comforting to the girl plagued with nightmares of her brother's death.  He gives her the greatest gift by teaching her to read. She makes friends, steals more books, and learns how important words are.

I don't want to give anything away so I won't go on but I will tell you to go read this book.  It's a life changer.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Keeping the Moon by Sarah Dessen

I confess that I struggled to finish Keeping the Moon by Sarah Dessen. It took me a very long time to get into the book. It didn't help that I read it at night and only a chapter at a time. That doesn't reflect on my thoughts at the end of the book though.

The story is about Colie. She's fifteen years old and spent her childhood as the fat girl. She'd recently lost weight with her fitness/nutrition guru mother but never got over the trauma of being teased. Colie's mother heads to Europe on a promotional tour and sends Colie to live with her eccentric aunt.

While at her aunt's house, Colie makes friends for the first time in her life. She is taught how to feel beautiful and gains confidence. She even learns that being different is not always a bad thing.

By the end of the book, Colie has evolved and I can imagine that she goes home stronger and more confident than ever before. This is a great story for girls with body image issues. It may focus a bit too much on being thin, but I think it leans toward being healthy.