Book Reviews

Three YA Books for Suspense Fans

After taking a short hiatus from my blog, I am back to posting every week.  I’ve been working on my novel, and will soon have some exciting news to share about it!

Today’s post is about a genre that often gets overlooked in the YA division – suspense. There are some really great YA suspense novels out there, and I have recently read three that I want to share.

The first is Velvet Undercover by Teri Brown.  This is the story of a girl who becomes a spy during WWI.  She is sent to the heart of the enemy – the German palace.  While posing as a governess for the the kaiser’s children, she must find another spy known as Velvet before they are both discovered and killed.

The second book is These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly.  The story takes place during the Victorian era (which I love to read about).  Jo is a rich young lady, who wants to become a reporter.  When her father dies, supposedly because his gun went off while cleaning it, Jo is suspicious.  She know her father knew better than to clean a loaded gun.  The more she discovers about his death, the more she is convinced there is more to the story.  With the help of a young reporter named Eddie, she searches for the truth.

The final book is Don’t Look Back  by Jennifer L. Armentrout.  This contemporary story is about Samantha, a popular girl who had it all. She disappeared with her best friend, Cassie.  When she is found, she has no memories, and is horrified to discover how mean she was.  The more she learns about herself the more secrets she uncovers, but someone doesn’t want her memories to come back.  Cassie is still missing, and Samantha knows that she was with Cassie the night she disappeared. If she can remember, she might know what happened to Cassie.  But will remembering cost her her life?

I highly enjoyed all three of these books.  They were page-turners that I couldn’t put down until the end.  If you like suspense, you should check out these books!

Book Reviews

A Book for St.Patrick’s Day

I just finished See Me by Wendy Higgins.  Though most famous for her Sweet series, this book was also exciting.  Set in Ireland with leprechauns and fairies, it is the perfect read for St. Patrick’s Day.

Robyn, an American girl, travels with her family to Ireland. Because her parents work for the fae, they have been instructed to marry Robyn to a man that lives in Ireland. His clan is about to die out, and the fairies believe this marriage can save it.

Robyn is shocked to find out that the man she is supposed to marry is a leprechaun.  She is relieved when she meets him. He is abnormally tall for a leprechaun, and thus, not shorter than her.

Though Robyn and McKale (her betrothed) get off to a rocky start, they do begin to care for one another.  Only an evil fairy stands in their way.  She wants McKale for herself and will stop at nothing to get him.

This book made me feel like I was there in Ireland.  Wendy Higgins created a wonderful place where leprechauns live hidden away from the rest of the world.  And I really want to go to Ireland now!  If you love St. Patrick’s Day and all things Irish, you won’t want to miss this book.

And next week, I’ll be posting an interview with Wendy Higgins, so stay tuned!

Book Reviews

Three YA Books That Will Put You in the Christmas Spirit

I love the holiday season, and nothing is better than a good book to help get you into the Christmas spirit.  Here are four of my favorite holiday reads:

1. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.  This is such a Christmas classic, that I can’t leave it off the list.  Seeing the movie doesn’t count, this is a book you need to read!

2. Jingle Boy by Kieran Scott.  This book is funny.  It keeps your attention, because as you read, you don’t know what will happen next.  It is told in first person by a teen boy who has always loved Christmas, until now.  Mishaps abound and everything he does to try and make things better just makes things worse.

3. Top Ten Clues Your Clueless by Liz Czukas. This book is also quite funny.  It literally made me laugh out loud in places.  Six teens who work at a grocery store are accused of stealing money from a donation box on Christmas Eve.  Held in the break room until the police arrive, they have to work together to figure out who actually stole the money.

These are just a few great Christmas books, and I am still reading more, so I may have another book or two to add to this list before Christmas!  Are there any holiday books you love to read?  Feel free to share in the comment section.


Book Reviews

“Silver in the Blood”

I just finished reading Silver in the Blood by Jessica Day George. It is the story about two cousins who travel to Romania and discover their family has a dark secret. A unique twist on Transylvania legend, the story was a page turner I could not put down until I had finished it. The Victorian era is brought to life, and the color and history of Romania made me want to go visit the country.

From the inside flap: As debutantes in 1890s New York City, cousins Dacia and Lou knew little about about their mysterious Romanian relatives, the Florescus. Now, upon turning seventeen, the girls must journey to Romania–a journey that seems to be both reward and punishment–to meet their cousins and their tyrant of a grandmother and to learn the secrets of their family. Secrets spoken of in whispers. Dangerous secrets known as the Claw, the Wing, and the Smoke.

But as dangerous as those family secrets might be, even more dangerous is the centuries-old bond between the Florescus and the royal Dracula family, and it seems that it’s time for Dacia and Lou to give up their life in New York society and take their place among the servants of the Draculas. When the devilish heir, Mihai Dracula, sets his sights on Dacia as part of his evil, power-hungry plan, the girls must accept or fight against this cruel inheritance. Do they have the courage to break the shackles of their upbringing and set the course of their own destiny?

I have read several of Jessica Day George’s novels and immensely enjoyed them all. I highly recommend her books. They will not disappoint. Also, next week’s post will be a special treat. I will be posting an interview with Jessica Day George, you won’t want to miss!

Book Reviews

Some Favorite Reads

One question I am often asked, “What is your favorite book?” For an avid reader, that is a difficult question to answer. There are so many wonderful books, that it is hard to choose just one or even two or three. After thinking about this for awhile, I finally chose five books that are not necessarily my only favorites, but are books that impacted me in some way. So here they are:

  1. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. I already talked about this book once in my “Why I Write” post here. This book was one of the first classics I ever read and is partially responsible for inspiring me to become a writer.
  2. Sinister Paradise by Carolyn Keene. This is a Nancy Drew Files mystery, a series which was written after the original mystery books. I enjoyed the original series as well, but the Files upped the game by involving murder and more romance. Nancy was also older. I could have picked any of these books, because I loved all of the Nancy Drew books, although I distinctly remember this book because it was one of the books that I owned, and thus read a few times. My love of mystery novels came from reading so many Nancy Drew books, and I always tried to figure out who the killer was before Nancy.
  3. Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry. I was actually in college before I read this children’s classic, but it had such heart and wild horses, that I instantly loved it. In fact, once I read it, I knew I had to visit the islands (Chincoteague and Assateague) where the story takes place. The islands were so beautiful, that I had my wedding on the beach of Assateague.
  4. Vinegar Boy by Alberta Hawse. This is a story about the boy who brings vinegar to Jesus at his crucifixion, and his life is changed forever by the events he sees. It was a touching story, one I could not put down, and it was the first book I remember that made me cry.
  5. Beauty by Robin McKinley. This was the first fairytale retelling I ever read. A retelling of Beauty and the Beast, it captivated me and began my love of fairytale retellings. It’s a magical story that takes you to another time and place.

Hope you enjoyed reading about some of my favorite books. Maybe you’ll find a new favorite from the list!

Book Reviews

Three Fairytale Retellings Worth the Read

I know I had a book list last week, but I wanted to post another one with my favorite fairytale retellings.  I love fairytale retellings and that is the subgenre I most enjoy writing, so I thought it fitting to post a few of my favorites.  For right now, I am just posting a short list, but I will post a longer list later with all of my favorites.

1. Sisters Red  by Jackson Pearce. Loosely based on Red Riding Hood,  this the story of two sisters who fights the werewolves that kill young girls.  Full of action, suspense and romance, the sisters’ bond is tested as they each come to grips with who they are meant to be.

2. Beastly by Alex Flinn.  This is a modern day retelling of Beauty and the Beast.  A sweet book full of heart, it was made into a movie a few years ago.  While the movie is cute, the book is definitely better!

3. Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George. A retelling of the Twleve Dancing Princesses, this story takes you to another time and place.  A magical story with humor and romance, it is a read you won’t forget.

There are so many good fairytale retellings, so be looking for my longer list within the next couple of weeks.

Book Reviews

My Picks for Halloween Reading

Halloween is the perfect time to read scary books with monsters, witches, vampires or werewolves.  I’ve picked four of my favorite to share.  Maybe you’ve already read some of them or even all of them.  If so, you might decide you want to read them again.  If you haven’t read any of them, maybe you’ll find some new authors and want to read all of their books.  Either way, Happy Reading!

 1. Sweetly by Jackson Pearce. A retelling of Hansel and Gretel, this book will keep you up until you’ve finished the last page.  

From the back cover:As a child, Gretchen’s twin sister was taken by a witch in the woods. Ever since, Gretchen and her brother, Ansel, have felt the long branches of the witch’s forest threatening to make them disappear, too.

Years later, when their stepmother casts Gretchen and Ansel out, they find themselves in sleepy Live Oak, South Carolina. They’re invited to stay with Sophia Kelly, a beautiful candy maker who molds sugary magic: coveted treats that create confidence, bravery, and passion.

Life seems idyllic and Gretchen and Ansel gradually forget their haunted past– until Gretchen meets handsome local outcast Samuel. He tells her the witch isn’t gone– it’s lurking in the forest, preying on girls every year after Live Oak’s infamous chocolate festival, and looking to make Gretchen it’s next victim. Gretchen is determined to stop running and start fighting back. Yet the further she investigates the mystery of what the witch is and how it chooses its victims, the more she wonders who the real monster is.

Gretchen is certain of only one thing: a monster is coming, and it will never go away hungry.

2. Glass Houses by Rachel Caine.  This is one story where the herione has no supernatural powers to defend her from all the monsters she encounters.  She has to depend on her own wits.

From the back cover: College freshman Claire Danvers has had enough of her nightmarish dorm situation, where the popular girls never let her forget just where she ranks in the school’s social scene: somewhere less than zero.

When Claire heads off-campus, the imposing old house where she finds a room may not be much better. Her new roommates don’t show many signs of life. But they’ll have Claire’s back when the town’s deepest secrets come crawling out, hungry for fresh blood.

3. The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd.  This book is inspired by H.G. Wells’s The Island of Dr. Moreau.  The mystery and suspense will keep you turning pages until you’ve finished the book.

From the back cover: Following accusations that her scientist father gruesomely experimented on animals, sixteen-year-old Juliet watched as her family and her genteel life in London crumbled around her—and only recently has she managed to piece her world back together. But when Juliet learns her father is still alive and working on a remote tropical island, she is determined to find out if the old accusations are true. Accompanied by her father’s handsome young assistant, Montgomery, and an enigmatic castaway, Edward, Juliet travels to the island, only to discover the depths of her father’s insanity. Torn between horror and scientific curiosity, Juliet knows she must end her father’s dangerous experiments and escape her jungle prison before it’s too late. Yet as the island falls into chaos, she discovers the extent of her father’s genius—and madness—in her own blood.

4. Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson. This classic Gothic story retells the Bluebeard fairytale.

From the back cover: When seventeen-year-old Sophia Petheram’s beloved father dies, she receives an unexpected letter. An invitation—on fine ivory paper, in bold black handwriting—from the mysterious Monsieur Bernard de Cressac, her godfather. With no money and fewer options, Sophie accepts, leaving her humble childhood home for the astonishingly lavish Wyndriven Abbey, in the heart of Mississippi.

Sophie has always longed for a comfortable life, and she finds herself both attracted to and shocked by the charm and easy manners of her overgenerous guardian. But as she begins to piece together the mystery of his past, it’s as if, thread by thread, a silken net is tightening around her. And as she gathers stories and catches whispers of his former wives—all with hair as red as her own—in the forgotten corners of the abbey, Sophie knows she’s trapped in the passion and danger of de Cressac’s intoxicating world.

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