Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Two misfits.
One extraordinary love.

... Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough...Eleanor.

Park... He knows she'll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There's a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises...Park.

Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.

   I was really excited to find out that I was getting a copy of this book to read and provide a review for. Although this book is intended for young adults and I am older than twenty-two, I thought this story would be a wonderful change from most books I have read lately.

 From this first page I was instantly hooked on this novel and the two main characters of the book (“Eleanor” and “Park”.) As I was reading the story I was instantly taken back to when I was in high school and how it felt to be at that age and go through everything a teen goes through. This book reminded me of Romeo & Juliet but set in modern day and much more interesting for today’s teens.  

     I was able to read this book within two days; the chapters were short and the way Ms. Rowell wrote the story was wonderful and easy to read. This is the second the book I have read of Ms. Rowell’s and this book is by far better than the first one. I give Eleanor & Park an “A+” and Rainbow Rowell an “A+” as well.

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

Monday, September 15, 2014

Chu's First Day of School by Neil Gaiman

After reading a board book starring Chu, an adorable panda, I was eager to read Chu’s First Day of School.  In this picture book, Neil Gaiman and Adam Rex, send Chu to school for the first time.  Will his sneezing troubles ruin his first day?
            Like all children (including those of the panda variety), Chu is worried about the other kids at school and whether or not they will like him.  His parents assure him that they will, but Chu is not so sure.  Each one of the children (really animals) at school, tell their names and one think that they love to do.  The giraffe and the monkey have no problem saying what they like to do.  Neither do the robin or the hippopotamus.  But when they get to Chu, all he can do is let out one colossal sneeze!  Of course, this wreaks havoc on the classroom, but everyone still likes Chu.  He is able to tell his parents what a great first day he had.
            I really liked this book for several reasons.  One, it deals with the back to school anxiety that many children deal with, and it reassures them that they will be accepted and loved at school.  In addition, I love that the animals, representing the students, are all different and are able to tell what makes them special.  Promoting diversity from an early age is always something positive.  Finally, this book encourages children to look to their parents for reassurance and guidance.
            Chu’s First Day of School would make a great addition to any child’s library, and I highly recommend it for teachers and parents to read especially around back to school time.  Fantastic!
*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  Regina

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Roses in December by Katie George

29-year-old Candice Michelin is used to spending her Friday nights with her best friends, Stacey and Reesey. She enjoys working as a columnist, eating at the Mexican restaurant across the street, and singing with her plump pooch, Peppermint. However, Candice's little sister, Ellie, announces that she is marrying a handsome Vanderbilt graduate, Liam, and the wedding will be held in a month's time. The catch: Candice must fly to North Carolina to plan the impending nuptials with her sister.

Relentlessly, Adele Desrosiers, the matriarch and mother of the Desrosiers clan, convinces Candice to go to the family's French-inspired Estate in the mountainous Appalachians, but Candice isn't focused on the beauty of the scenery. Instead, she unknowingly meets Liam's older brother Henry, who may hold the key to unlocking Candice's tough heart.

Told by the witty Candice herself, this novel includes poignant histories from characters such as Adele, Aunt Genevieve, and Henry, while maintaining the importance of family and friends. Candice may not realize it, but the Desrosierses will be changed by her forever, as she will also be changed from their influence.

I really enjoyed reading this book.  The characters were a pleasure to get to know.   Candice was witty with a flare for life.   She is what I would want to have in an older sister.  While reading this book I saw it play through my mind like a movie.  Henry was very debonair and I could see why Candice was so smitten by him. It was a quick book and because it was short it was an incredibly fast read.  People who enjoy quick romances, this would make a great beach read.  It was a sweet read rather than an erotic romance.

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

Friday, September 12, 2014

Notorious (Max Revere Novels #1) by Allison Brennan

Maxine Revere has dedicated her life to investigating murders that the police have long since given up any hope of solving. A nationally renowned investigative reporter with her own TV show and a tough-as-nails reputation, Max tackles cold cases from across the country and every walk of life. But the one unsolved murder that still haunts her is a case from her own past.

When Max was a high school senior, one of her best friends was strangled and another, Kevin O’Neal, accused of the crime. To the disgrace of her wealthy family, Max stood by her friend, until she found out he lied about his alibi. Though his guilt was never proven, their relationship crumbled from the strain of too many secrets.

Now Max is home for Kevin’s funeral—after years of drug abuse, he committed suicide. She’s finally prepared to come to terms with the loss of his friendship, but she’s not prepared for Kevin’s sister to stubbornly insist that he didn’t kill himself. Or for an elderly couple to accost her at the airport, begging her to look into another murder at Max’s old high school. Max is more interested in the cold case at her alma mater than in digging around Kevin’s troubled life, but she agrees to do both. As Max uncovers dark secrets, she finds herself caught in a complicated web of lies that hit far too close to home. And it’s becoming increasingly clear that someone will do whatever it takes to make sure the truth stays buried.

Maxine Revere is an investigative reporter who goes back home for the funeral of Kevin, her one time best friend who committed suicide. When they were in high school, Kevin was accused of killing their other best friend, Lindy. Although Kevin always maintained his innocence, Maxine and him grew apart and Kevin’s life was never the same. In a strange coincidence, a young man was also recently killed at the same site Lindy was found all those years ago.

The grandparents of the young man asks for Maxine’s help in figuring out who murdered their grandson. Pretty soon Maxine is using her skills to investigate his murder. And even though she has no intentions of re-opening old wounds for her and all that were involved, Maxine is quickly drawn into also re-investigating Lindy’s death. Allison Brennan does a great job of weaving these two storylines creating one great murder mystery. Many times the reader figures out who the killer is before the protagonist but Brennan does a great job of allowing the reader the pleasure of figuring out all the pieces of the puzzle at the same time as Maxine. The author also threw in some tidbits from Maxine’s past adventures that sounded very interested. 

I was looking forward to checking out these other books only to find out that this is the author’s first book introducing Maxine’s character. Given the excellent writing, I am definitely going to check out Brennan’s other books even if it doesn’t include Maxine Revere.

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

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Irenicon (The Wave Trilogy #1) by Aidan Harte

The river Irenicon was blasted through the middle of Rasenna in 1347 and now it is a permanent reminder to the feuding factions that nothing can stand in the way of the Concordian Empire. Concordian engineer Captain Giovanni is ordered to bridge the Irenicon - not to reunite the sundered city, but to aid Concord's mighty armies.

This is a review I put off writing.  At first glance, the book didn't appeal to me at all.  The cover screams "crusades," a little farther back in history than I care to go!  And I couldn't even read the title. The font was such that I couldn't make out the first letter.  Of course, everywhere else it was very clear. All in all, just not a good start for me.
On further inspection, though, this book has a lot going for it!  Most of the story is told through dialogue, not long descriptive passages, which is a big plus for me.  I struggle with the unusual names, but I know that's just me.  Most people would find that to be a normal, expected part of what they read.  The story keeps moving, too, with plenty of drama along the way.  I also enjoyed that the scene setting was blended into the story, so it wasn't overwhelming. At 600 pages, that's a good thing!!
The first of a trilogy, I think this could be a real treat for the right person.  I just don't think I'm the one.

Aidan Harte is also a sculptor, which you can see here http://www.aidanharte.com/, and I enjoyed his sculpture much more than his writing.

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  Carrie
*Guest Reviewer from Literary Litter

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Chu’s Day by Neil Gaiman

Chu’s Day by Neil Gaiman (illustrated by Adam Rex) is a charning board book, perfect for beginning readers or those who are too young to read on their own.  The main character is an adorable little panda named Chu. 
Chu has a problem!  When he sneezes, everything in the room gets messed up!  He goes to various locations, such as the library, a diner, and the circus.  At the library and the diner, he manages to hold in his sneeze.  But at the circus—WATCH OUT!  He sneezes so hard that the tent falls down and so does everything else!  Not to mention that his sneeze is SO powerful that it even affects the diner and the library.
Adam Rex’s illustrations are just adorable, and little ones will have a great time observing what changes Chu’s sneeze makes to his surroundings.  They will also have great fun pretending to sneeze, just like Chu. 
Chu’s Day is a terrific book with great illustrations.  Any child will love it    

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

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Summer Invitation by Charlotte Silver

Two sisters are summoned to their aunt's Greenwich Village flat, where they must start dressing like young ladies, cultivate their artistic sensibilities, and open themselves up to Life with a capital L.

When Franny and her older sister Valentine are summoned by their Aunt Theodora from foggy San Francisco to sunny New York City for one summer, they are taken to old-world locales like Bemelmans Bar, the Plaza, and the Sherry Netherland by their chaperone, Clover, Aunt Theodora’s protégé. As they discover New York City going lingerie shopping and learning about the simple elegance of a cucumber sandwich, they also begin to unearth secrets and answers about Aunt Theo's glamorous and romantic past, and they have a few romantic adventures of their own.

The "Summer Invitation" was a riveting and also uplifting story. It had many sense-oriented details and the author explained everything in a great reader-friendly way.

The plot line was about  two girls, fourteen and seventeen, going away to New York to visit their very eccentric aunt, Theodora. There they discover themselves and the world around them. This story has many surprising plot twists and a surprise ending. I would probably say give this to your middle-schoolers. It has bad drinking,sexual, and tobacco references.

On my "Amazingly Fabulous Book Scale", I would give this book a 7 for a good plot line, a riveting story, and many amazing settings, characters, and backgrounds.

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