Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Trial By Fire

20613491I was first drawn to Trial By Fire because I liked the author's first trilogy so much (Starcrossed).  I didn't even know what it was about when I picked it up to read.  That didn't matter though.  The author has a way of drawing you into the story and hooking you from the very start.  Full of action, there was never a dull moment.

This story follows Lily, a girl weak of body but strong of mind.  She is practically allergic to the world.  All she sees of her future is the eventual isolation in a plastic bubble.  When her heart is broken, she succumbs to a voice in her head asking her to come with her.  Before she knows what's happening, Lily is sucked into a world different from her own.  This world is filled with magic.  The version of herself that belongs in that world is the most powerful witch in all the Covens.  All Lily wants is to go home, but Lillian has no intention of sending her back.  Lily flees the Citadel and runs across Rowan, former lover, current enemy to Lillian.  After some cajoling, Rowan begins to train Lily on how to use magic, for she has the same power Lillian possesses.

The question is, can she progress enough in her training before it is too late?  Can she find her way back to her own world?  Does she still want to go back?  This book is filled with great characters.  I just loved Lily.  Despite being thrust into a foreign and scary world, she is able to persevere.  She makes friends, learns to control her own power, and stands up for what she believes.  She is the kind of character you can get behind and find yourself cheering on at every turn.  Rowan is another character I really enjoyed.  Powerful in his own right, Rowan is distrustful and hesitant to let another Lily into his life in any form.  He is always on guard, but will ultimately do anything to protect Lily.  The two make a great pair/team.  I am definitely excited to see where their story goes.  This is a strong start to another promising series from Josephine Angelini.  I only wish I didn't have to wait so long for the next book.  Happy reading!

Monday, September 15, 2014

A Library Book for Bear

20708742I have talked about this series before, but it is still one of my favorites and a new one recently came out (July).  In A Library Book for Bear, our ever loving grouchy friend, Bear, is once again resistant to change.  His always optimistic and never deterred best friend, Mouse, is taking him to the library whether he likes it or not.  Bear of course thinks he already has enough books, 6, at home, covering all the topics he could possibly ever want.  A promise is a promise though, so Bear heads to the library with mouse.  He immediately thinks there are too many books.  Mouse brings him books about all kinds of topics, but Bear is only interested in finding a book about pickles.  Bear's grumblings turn into yelling, disturbing every library patron and drawing the attention of the librarian holding story time and all her rapt listeners.  Coaxed into joining the story, Bear is delighted to hear the book is about a Bear and treasure chest filled with pickles.    By the time the friends head home, Bear has seven new books on a variety of topics and a huge smile plastered to his face.  Once again, Mouse shows Bear that new things are not always bad.

This book is not as good as the others in the series, but I like it for two reasons.  First, it encourages cultivating a love of books, libraries, learning and reading.  I love books that encourage kids to expand their minds and learn new things.  I always love books that encourage reading.  Second, it introduces Bear's interest in pickles.  Since my daughter's nickname is Pickle, I always love it when I discover a book that talks about pickles.  She, of course, likes it too.  Bear and Mouse are always fun characters.  Give this new volume a try.  Happy reading!

Friday, September 12, 2014


18126198For all you Divergent fans out there, Four is a must read!  It is a collection of novellas about everyone's (mostly) favorite character.  I always loved Four/Tobias in all the books and was excited to get a deeper look into his head and learn more about his past.  If you haven't read the Divergent trilogy yet, this post and the book itself contains spoilers.  So, if you intend to read/finish the trilogy, do so before reading on.

In the first story (The Transfer), we learn about Tobias' aptitude test, his Choosing Ceremony and his transfer to Dauntless.  In the second story (The Initiate), we are right there with Tobias as he meets Eric for the first time, gains his nickname, and wades through the initiation process before becoming a full-fledged member of Dauntless.  The third story (The Son), takes us through the failed recruitment of Four into Dauntless leadership, his discovery of the connection between Erudite and Dauntless leaders, and the discovery that his mother is still alive.  The final story (The Traitor) takes place during Four's second year as an instructor (the year Tris is an initiate).  Some of the events are the same as those in Divergent, only from Four's point of view.  It tells of his growing attraction to Tris, his uncertainty about what to do with the knowledge of the upcoming attack on Abnegation, and his developing realization that he doesn't really belong in Dauntless.

There are also a couple scenes thrown in from Divergent, retold from Four's point of view.  It was very interesting to see Tris through Four's eyes.  We hear from him in Allegiant, but his character is very different in the beginning, as well as his relationship with Tris.  I really enjoyed seeing that initiation process through his eyes.  All four novellas, as well as the bonus scenes, where quite enjoyable.  It has been a long time since I immersed myself in the world Veronica Roth created, and I rather liked going back there.  The books are all good, so if you liked them (even if you only liked the first book), these stories are definitely worth reading.  I just love the character of Four, so getting to know him better was awesome.  Happy reading!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Dinosaurs Love Underpants

3618343I've been in a bit of a reading slump.  The last few books I've read haven't been worth sharing.  So instead, I am going to share a favorite picture book with you, Dinosaurs Love Underpants.  It is an adorable book.  I love the illustrations, the rhythm, and the humor.  It is what you could consider an alternate theory on how and why the dinosaurs died out.  It all started when the cavemen grew embarrassed about being naked and made themselves some underwear.  When the dinosaurs saw their new attire, they immediately wanted them too.  The problem was, once they procured them from the cavemen, they started fighting over them with each other.  Thus began the "Mighty Underpants War."  When the dust settled, the dinosaurs had all killed each other off, leaving the cavemen to carry on the tradition of the undergarments.  We are reminded at the end of the book to remember that underwear saved mankind so we should treat them with care.  I just think this book is wonderful.  The pictures are vibrant and descriptive.  The story engaging and entertaining.  I think it is a brilliant telling of how the dinosaurs faded into extinction.  I believe it.  After all, the perfect pair of underwear is worth fighting for.  Happy reading!

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Cat, The Dog...

20578968I came across this picture book the other day and just thought it was hilarious.  It is a very fun retelling of Little Red Riding Hood.  Cat is trying to read the fairy tale out loud to Dog, who keeps interrupting with questions and comments.  Dog wants to know why the wolf would go to so much trouble if he planned on eating Red all along.  If he ran into her in the woods, why not just eat her then.  Also, how smart can Red be if she couldn't tell the wolf wasn't her grandmother.  When Dog first hears the part about the cape/hood, he thinks it is a superhero story.  By the end, Cat is frustrated and Dog is disappointed.  The illustrations are simple, yet effective.  They portray the excitement, frustration, imagination and speculation of the animals quite well.  Adults may find it funnier than kids because the jokes the jokes are more subtle, but it is definitely a funny story.  I always love fairy tale retellings.  This one stuck to the story, just made the interpretation comical.  It showed the story through the eyes of someone hearing it for the first time and questioning the logic of it.  The story is a lot of fun.  It was a bit reminiscent of a comic strip, with the simple illustrations and speech bubbles.  Definitely worth checking out.  Happy reading!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Jasper Dent

This trilogy follows Jasper Dent, son of the most famous serial killer of all time.  His father Billy was finally arrested after 123 kills.  Jasper was raised by him to be his successor.  As the protege to a crazed sociopath, Jasper grew up with lessons on how to kill, torture, mutilate, as well as clean up a crime scene to ensure no evidence is left behind.  There were lots more lessons that Jasper can't get out of his head.  Billy's voice is always there, egging him on, telling him to kill.  All Jasper wants is to be normal, but he will never have that.  As Billy says, "You're a killer who hasn't killed yet."  Jasper is in constant fear that Billy is right.  He is determined to overcome his upbringing and his genetics, but isn't sure it is even possible.  He does what he can to keep himself from turning into another sociopath.  He befriends the weakest boy in town, Howie, a hemophiliac.  He makes sure that Howie is by his side whenever he is doing anything that toes the line.  He starts dating Connie, a black girl, because she is safe.  Billy never killed a black woman.  He keeps these two close, and they in turn are determined to keep him from becoming Billy.  He helps the police by pointing out things in crime scenes they may have missed.  After all, he has a serial killer in his head and knows how they think.  He helps the cops track down other serial killers, and gets sucked into their sick games.  The series is dark, twisted, and gruesome, a psychological roller coaster ride.  It is about serial killers, so couldn't really be anything else.  The characters are great and the intensity of the story just sucks you right in.  You can't help but cheer for Jasper as he struggles to stay on the right side of the line.  All he really wants is to put an end to Billy once and for all.  He is prepared to kill him if need be.  These books are very good.  The writing is excellent and the pacing keeps you up at night.  Like I said earlier, they are quite gruesome and intense.  You feel like you are right in there with Jasper and crew as the serial killers play with them and taunt them.  It is enough to give you nightmares, if this kind of stuff does that to you.  For me, I have a sick fascination with it.  I love Dateline and 48 Mysteries, etc.  Crime Dramas are my favorite TV shows.  This is right up my alley.  I loved every second of it.  Give it a try, if you dare.  Book three, Blood of my Blood, is set to release next week on Tuesday (9/9).  Happy reading!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

What I Thought Was True

15832932What I Thought Was True is a summer romance with a little more depth than usual.  I didn't think it was quite as multi-leveled as Sarah Dessen tends to pull off, but I was pleasantly surprised by the complexity of this seemingly simple summer romance.  It isn't a typical summer fling story though.  The main character, Gwen Castle, lives on a small island and definitely cannot wait to escape it.  She just has one more year of high school to go and she will be free.  She just has to make it through the summer first.  The one problem, she is constantly bombarded with the one boy she can't seem to get out her mind, despite their less than pleasant past.  He is a rich boy from across the bridge.  She shouldn't have to even see him over summer break.  Unfortunately, he has taken the job yard boy to the island.  Now she can't avoid him.  Over the course of the summer, she begins to realize that she never really knew him, or even herself really.  While all the relationships and people around her seem to be changing or revealing truths she never saw coming, Gwen is forced to decide for herself what she really wants and what will truly make her happy.  Mistakes is the underlying theme of this story, but perhaps some mistakes are not that at all.  Perhaps it is the mistakes that will shape the future and decide the truth path.  I rather enjoyed the characters in this book.  Gwen, trying to be herself despite an unfortunate and maybe undeserved reputation.  Cass, a good guy plagued by an unfortunate choice in best friend and a family that expects more from him.  Emory, the little brother that is not quite right, but finds his way to every heart.  There are more characters, but those three are my favorites.  I just loved little Emory.  Grandpa Ben was a lot of fun too.  Coming from a small town that is invaded by outsiders in the summer, I could relate a little to how Gwen felt.  For her though, it was a bunch of rich entitled people coming in for the summer and treating the island people like the hired help, even those who weren't.  Mrs. Ellington and her group of ladies provide a fun comic relief.  It did bother how long into the book you have to wait to find out what happened between Cass and Gwen in the spring.  It is alluded to throughout, but not revealed until almost the ending.  That bothered me because it left me unable to fully develop an opinion of Cass.  I liked him from the beginning, but couldn't know for sure if I should, since I didn't know whatever he did or didn't do to Gwen previously.  Overall, I enjoyed the book.  It was a solid three out of five stars for me (I rarely give anything five stars, so keep that in mind.  Three for some people may be low, but for me it is a solid book).  You can decide for yourself.  Happy reading!