Friday, May 30, 2014

Eyes Like Stars

This book was a gift for my birthday. I'm proud to say I read it before the next birthday came around!

Eyes Like Stars is SO ME! I'm a total fan of Ms. Mantchev. Her writing is right up my alley! A woman after my own heart. We share a love of theater. She just had the bright idea to write about it! 

I love theater. This book is all about theater. It even takes place in a theater. 

And then there are all of these Shakespearean characters and more running around to ooh and aah over. We've got heroes, villains, pirates, chorus girls, fairies, a cranky stage manager, the mysterious theater manager and Beatrice. Wonderful, out of the box Beatrice, and the book which holds all characters bound to the theater. 

The thing is, not all is well in the state of Denmark, so to speak and Beatrice, while being part of the problem, is also part of the solution. 

I am in literature YA love. I'm guessing this is classified as Fantasy, but I just call it brilliant! 

It is such an adventure to read and I applaud Ms. Mantchev's imagination, style of writing, and portrayal of characters. Stunning story line. I love the cover! I want some of that blue hair dye now. 

Yes, I'm gushing. I liked it that much.  

The best part . . . it's part of a trilogy!!! So there is more to read! So excited to see where this story goes. 

For parents, there's a kiss or two, a Turkish bath, and some serious pirate insults. I still think you can go PG-13 on it. Nothing to bump it up to PG-16 as I recall. 

A fabulous YA read!

Do you have a recommendation on a theater YA book for me to read? 

All her world’s a stage.

Bertie Shakespeare Smith is not an actress, yet she lives in a theater.
She’s not an orphan, but she has no parents.
She knows every part, but she has no lines of her own.
That is, until now.

Enter Stage Right

NATE. Dashing pirate. Will do anything to protect Bertie.

COBWEB, MOTH, MUSTARD SEED, and PEASEBLOSSOM. Four tiny and incredibly annoying fairies. BERTIE’S sidekicks.

ARIEL. Seductive air spirit and Bertie’s weakness. The symbol of impending doom.

BERTIE. Our heroine.

Welcome to the Théâtre Illuminata, where the actors of every play ever written can be found behind the curtain. They were born to play their parts, and are bound to the Théâtre by The Book—an ancient and magical tome of scripts. Bertie is not one of them, but they are her family—and she is about to lose them all and the only home she has ever known.

Lisa Mantchev has written a debut novel that is dramatic, romantic, and witty, with an irresistible and irreverent cast of characters who are sure to enchant the audience.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

X-men Days of Future Past

I've been a fan of the X-men films since the beginning. I don't read the comic books so don't judge my review against what happens in those. I have no idea what happens in those.

This movie ROCKS!

It twists, turns, and keeps you guessing the whole time. I loved the script! Thank you to the screen writers! If they don't do a good job, then it doesn't matter as much about how awesome the actors and special effects are if the story line makes you want to cry because it's so shallow.

I won't give anything away about the plot because I don't want to ruin it in any way.

And let me just say, the special effects and actors are spectacular. I was riveted to my seat. Love seeing people who have played roles in multiple films keep bringing more to the table instead of just the same-old same-old and not digging deep to add to what you love about the characters while still staying true to the character.

Did you follow all that? I'm not sure I did. Anyways . . .

This is the summer blockbuster that is worth the splurge to see in the theater! I even got to see it on opening day! Love that 10am showing. Stay to the end of the credits, there's a 30 second scene there that I have no idea how to interpret. If you do, send me a message.

In short: GO SEE IT!

Long live X-men!

Did this film live up to your expectations?


Friday, May 23, 2014

Bookmarked Bargains Promotion!


This sale is amazing. Dozens of books for $.99 or free and the chance to win all these fun prizes. Go to Bookmarked Bargains to click on the books you'd like to purchase and to enter to win. 

Here are the other participating authors. Happy reading!

Imperfect Love, Rebecca Talley

Wild Hearts, Heather Tullis

Fallen Angel, Lisa Swinton

The Daisy Chain, Heather Moore

Sweet Confections, Danyelle Ferguson 

A Portrait for Toni, Annette Lyon

My Own Mr. Darcy, Karey White

Home Matters, Julie N. Ford

Silver Linings, Kaylee Baldwin

Third Times the Charm, Heather Moore

Discovering Sophie, Cindy Roland Anderson

The Making of a Queen (Ariana Book 1), Rachel Ann Nunes

Prank Wars, Stephanie Fowers

Mr. Wrong, Alivia Anderson

Intercession, Vicki Budge

Amazon, Sunset, Marie Higgins

Loyalty’s Web, Joyce DiPastena

The Man from Shenandoah, Marsha Ward

Intertwine, Nichole Van

Illuminations of the Heart, Joyce DiPastena

Spinster’s Folly, Marsha Ward

Tell me No Lies, Rachel Branton

Spy Noon (Spy Another Day prequel), Jordan McCollum

A Change of Plans, Donna K. Weaver

Fourth of July, Cami Checketts

Homecoming Identity, Heather Justesen

I, Spy (Spy Another Day #1), Jordan McCollum

To Sleep No More, Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen

The Colony, Cami Checketts

There, Their, They're: A no-tears guide to grammar from the word nerd, 2nd edition, Annette Lyon   

Homeschool Lifestyles from Homeschool Moms, Valerie Steimle

The 2012 Book Bloggers' Cookbook, Christy Dorrity

Of One Heart: Being Single in the LDS World, Valerie Steimle

Nourish and Strength, Maria Hoagland

Wall of Faith, J Loyd Morgan

Intercession, Vicki Budge

Family Size, Maria Hoagland

Just Like Elizabeth Taylor, Lu Ann Staheli          

Worth It (an LDS love story), Taryn Taylor

The Princess Sisters, Stacy Lynn Carroll

Frogs and Toads, Stacy Lynn Carroll

Confessions of 16-year-old Virgin-Lips, Cindy Hogan

Samara: A Kilenya Romance, Andrea Pearson

Tides across the Sea, Lu Ann Staheli

Gravediggers, Cindy Hogan

Heroes of the Highest Order (1-3), Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen

The Secret Sisters Club (A Ginnie West Adventure), Monique Bucheger

The Stone of Valhalla, Mikey Brooks

The Key of Kilenya, Andrea Pearson

Simply West of Heaven: A Ginnie West Adventure, Monique bucheger

The Dream Keeper, Mikey Brooks

The Waxing Moon, author J Loyd Morgan

Blue Dragon (Dragonbound Series book one), Rebecca Shelley

Nexus Point, the Fall of the Altairan Empire Book 1, Jaleta Clegg

Soul Windows, Jaleta Clegg

DragonBound IV: Red Dragon, Rebecca Shelley

Inevitable, Tamara Heiner

Twisted Tales Trilogy, Stephanie Fowers

The Roilden Stones of Elf Mountain,  Anna del C.

Awakening: Book One of the Geis, Christy Dorrity

Fateful, Cheri Schmidt

The Silent Warrior Trilogy, Anna del C.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

What is Hidden

In a land of masquerades and mystery, Evie is a mask maker in Venesia, where masks represent rank and identity. When a cryptic bandit strips away Evie’s mask and destroys her home, she goes into hiding at the palace to find both a new identity—and revenge. Fantasy lovers will be caught up by the mystique, romance, and magic of What Is Hidden.

Lauren Skidmore grew up in Kansas, with stints in Ohio and New York, and currently lives in Utah. She attended Brigham Young University where she earned a BA in English Teaching with an emphasis in Teaching English as a Second Language and Japanese. She then spent a year in Japan teaching and travelling. She hasn’t made it to Europe yet, but it’s on the list and has been to 30 states in the U.S. so far. When she’s not exploring new places, you can probably find her on the internet with fifteen windows open and looking at just one more thing before actually getting something done.

This is my first read by Lauren Skidmore, and I believe her debut novel, so Congratulations!

This reads as a clean romance with an element of suspense, genre wise, so keep that in mind.

It is easy to engage with the characters. Evie is strong, talented, smart, resilient, and independent. All the things I like in a heroine. The hero's a good catch too! But, I won't spoil Aiden for you. The romance stems from a solid friendship and it's easy to see when the lines get blurry.

I was thrilled with the setting - an old version of Venice. Not surprising, given my love of all things Italian. I found the concept of the masks and the aversion to having one's face seen intriguing. The masks worn by the people in this society reveal loads about what they do and who they are. The cover is gorgeous!

The writing, pacing, and character development are all up to snuff. The descriptions really add to the beauty of the book.

I have just a few questions regarding the ending. And these aren't true spoilers, but you can skip them if you're concerned. What happened to the Chameleon? And, who was the girl with him? Where is the girl he searched for and why did he blame the prince for her disappearance? Who did he work for? Will someone else take his place? I don't like lose ends, especially in mysteries. They bug me. So, now I'm wondering if there will be a sequel to answer my questions. Sigh.

I hope to read more from Ms. Skidmore. She's totally made me a fan.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014


Easter as nearly a month ago, but life has been busy between then and now and this post is overdue. 

Hop is cute and the story line wasn't what I expected from the previews. I thought the dark haired lead male (James Marsden) and the featured blond female (Kaley Cuoco) would be boyfriend & girlfriend, but it turns out they are siblings. That changed the film significantly for me i.e. it wouldn't be a RomCom, just a Com. 

But as I said, it's cute. The soon-to-be Easter bunny wants to be a drummer and Marsden's character is a drift and in need of a job. Guess what happens? 

Easter is nearly ruined by the head Chick who wants to be the Easter bunny. See, not what you thought. 

Lots of fun cameos and fun moments. 

Worth a view? Yes. Cute to watch at Easter time.

Worth a buy? No. Rent it or DVR it off tv like we did. 

What did you think of Hop? 

Thursday, May 15, 2014


Why is that every time I finish one of Ms. Johnson's books I want to throw it against the wall?!

Abandon is the final installment of the Possession trilogy. I anticipated it greatly as both the first two books ended with major cliff hangers. This one, I'm glad to say, didn't end in a cliff hanger, but I still wanted to throw the book against the wall.


She killed off one of my favorite characters . . . actually several of them.

Granted this is a dystopian trilogy, so we have a controlling government and a resistance movement and just like in all trilogies of this genre, the final book is mostly battle, strategy, and casualties. Do Hunger Games and Matched ring any bells?

So, there you go.

The writing is solid as usual and in keeping with the style and tone she set in the first two books. All that I've come to expect in Ms. Johnson's standard of literature is there.

Things that bugged me. We only hear from the guys and I like it when she trades of and gives us the girl's point of view once in a while. I wanted more Raine and Gunn. Lastly, I didn't want my character to die. I wanted that one to ride off on a hoverboard into the sunset. So, there you go. Not deal breakers by any means.

Worth a read? Absolutely.

In fact, I'd like to read them back to back for a better sense of continuity and character arc.

Just be sure to read the other two books first or you will be totally lost. And pick up her related novellas too, because I absolutely loved those and gaining insight into those characters!

PS You should know there are a few swear words and kisses. I'd stick to 16 and up. No smut or sex.

The fight for independent thought becomes a matter of life or death in this sizzling and intense conclusion to the young adult dystopianPossession trilogy.

Vi has made her choice between Jag and Zenn, and the resistance may have suffered for it. But with the Thinkers as strong as ever, the rebels still have a job to do. Vi knows better than anyone that there's more at stake than a few broken hearts.

But there is a traitor among them...and the choices he makes could lead to the total destruction of everything Vi has fought for.

Vi, Jag, and Zenn must set their problems aside for the resistance to have any hope of ending the Thinkers' reign. Their success means everything...and their failure means death.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Tornado Warning

Tornado Warning by Tamara Hart Heiner

The true story about seven ordinary women and one extraordinary event... Summer is coming, and the residents in Joplin, Missouri anticipate the rush of freedom and activities that will follow: graduation, summer classes, vacations, overflowing gardens, family time, and plenty of photo opportunities. What they don’t anticipate is the mile-wide tornado that will devastate the town on May 22, 2011 in the middle of dinner preparations, visits to friends and family, and graduation ceremonies. The tornado kills over a hundred in the deadliest tornado disaster in a century and leaves thousands more homeless. In the face of this tragedy, seven women must gather their courage and hold their families together. Each will make different choices to protect loved ones and strangers and recover from the winds of destruction.

So, I thought this book would require a box of tissues, but I didn't end up crying. Not because the content isn't sad or heart tugging, or graphic, or worthy of it. I just didn't. I think because I knew I was going to read about a life-changing tragedy my brain disconnected from my emotions as a defense mechanism or something. It certainly had nothing to do with the story telling.

It's been quite a while since I've reviewed a non-fiction book. I think the last one was Lost in Austen. A very different subject than the tornado that hit Joplin, MO.

I found it very helpful to read the two sections at the beginning. They describe how tornadoes work/are formed and how the timeline of the Joplin tornado played out. You may be tempted to skip them thinking, 'I don't need to know that stuff to read the story'. Maybe not, but I'd advise you to read them. They really helped me understand what happened and why people there reacted the ways they did.

The 'story' part follows about seven families from before the tornado to after. I had a hard time keeping the families straight, and had to keep referring to the description of family page. Thanks for including that Ms. Heiner or I would've been very lost! But, I think my difficulties had more to do with my brain than the storytelling. These events were given in sequence through interviews with Ms. Heiner so they are all first hand accounts of what happened and then she used her beautiful ability with word craft to put them on the page and bring them larger than life into your imagination.

There is also a section at the end that tells you how to get prepared for a tornado and what to do in various scenarios if one should hit where you live. You may be tempted to skip this part too. But, keep this in mind, wherever you live, a natural disaster can occur. Tsunamis, hurricanes, tornadoes, mudslides, wild fires, earthquakes, etc. No one is immune. So, get your 72 hour kit and food storage together, along with all your important docs so you'll be ready. Lots of great info back there.

One thing that stood out about the book (SPOILER HERE) none of the families represented lost family members. All are intact at the end of the tornado. I inquired of Ms. Heiner why there was such an obvious imbalance in the stories represented as certainly there were many families who weren't so fortunate. Her response was along the lines of it was too painful to share and they didn't want to risk exploitation. I can appreciate both.

Worth a read? Yes. It will wake you up, make you appreciate all you have, and how easily and quickly it can be taken from you. Now go hug your loved ones!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Matched, Crossed, Reached

Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander's face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows he is her ideal mate . . . until she sees Ky Markham's face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black. The Society tells her it's a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she's destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can't stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society's infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she's known and a path that no one else has dared to follow. 

Chasing down an uncertain future, Cassia makes her way to the Outer Provinces in pursuit of Ky--taken by Society to his certain death--only to find that he has escaped into the majestic, but treacherous, canyons.  On this wild frontier are glimmers of a different life . . . and the enthralling promise of rebellion. But even as Cassia sacrifices everything to reunite with Ky, ingenious surprises from Xander may change the game.  On the edge of Society, nothing is as expected, and crosses and double crosses make Cassia's path more twisted than ever. 

Cassia’s journey began with an error, a momentary glitch in the otherwise perfect façade of the Society. After crossing canyons to break free, she waits, silk and paper smuggled against her skin, ready for the final chapter.

The wait is over.

One young woman has raged against those who threaten to keep away what matters most—family, love, choice. Her quiet revolution is about to explode into full-scale rebellion. With exquisite prose, the emotionally gripping conclusion to the international–bestselling Matched trilogy returns Cassia, Ky, and Xander to the Society to save the one thing they have been denied for so long, the power to choose. 

I picked up this series after having read the Possession trilogy and The Hunger Games trilogy, thinking it would be another strong dystopian read. It fell short of the mark for me. I never totally got emotionally invested in the characters. I sympathized with them, but didn't go on their emotional journeys like I was one of them. 

The writing is solid. The story well told and well thought out. From a craft point of view I have no complaints. 

I enjoyed the story and I finished it to the end because I wanted to know what happened and how it played out, not because I was tied into the characters. 

This trilogy lacks the action and motivational drive I was looking for. It's all about inner monologue, which is necessary, but gets tired after a while. 

A friend did let me know that this series is one of the earliest dystopian ones written and that may have something to do with my slightly flat reaction to it as opposed to some of its later colleagues. 

Worth a read? If you are a hard core dystopian fan, yes. But, by now you've probably already read it. 

Otherwise, you may want to pass. 

What do you think of this trilogy? 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Midnight in Austenland

I thoroughly enjoyed the first one and this one was just as fun. 

Charlotte is a different heroine, a divorced single mom, who happens to run a very successful business. This is her first vacation since the divorce and the numbness finally recedes. Lots of mishaps, charlatans, and blurred lines between real life and real life in Austenland. Humor. Romance. A murder mystery. All the makings of a good clean romance. After all, Regency rules must be obeyed! 

I especially liked the device used by Ms. Hale regarding Inner Thoughts. I totally relate to Charlotte that way. I get annoyed with mine too and have told them more than once to 'take a hike'! 

Will they make another movie of this one? I don't know. Maybe. A few of the actors would need to return including Jane Seymour and Jennifer Cooley. It could be very fun/funny. 

Worth a read? Yes. 

Now, is anyone up for a game of Bloody Murder? 

Charlotte Kinder is in need of true escape when she heads from Ohio to Pembrook Park, a Jane Austen-themed retreat in the British countryside. But as it turns out, this vacation is no time to relax. Hearts are racing and stomachs fluttering in a tangle of intrigues-real and pretend, sinister and romantic-increasingly tough to sort out. It's midnight in Austenland, and Charlotte is about to prove herself a heroine worthy of Austen herself.