From that time on, the world was hers for the reading....


Thursday, March 25, 2010

James Patterson: I, Alex Cross

I'm a huge James Patterson fan, but it's impossible to keep up with all the books he cranks out every year. Our library charges a daily rental fee for his books, so I usually have to wait until I find them at used book sales. The Alex Cross series is my favorite. Luckily, it's my Mom's too! She bought the latest--and sixteenth--book in the series, I, Alex Cross, giving me the chance to read it.

Synopsis:
Alex Cross's niece is found brutally murdered. Overcome with grief, Alex vows to take down her killer before he strikes again. But shortly after he begins the investigation, Alex discovers that his niece had gotten mixed up with some very important, very dangerous people. And she's not the only one who has disappeared.

The hunt for the murderer leads Alex and his girlfriend, Detective Brianna Stone, to Washington's most infamous club--a place where every fantasy is possible, if you have the credentials to get in. The killer could be one of their patrons, one of Washington's elite who will do anything to keep their secrets buried.

With astonishing plot twists and electrifying revelations that will keep readers on the edge of their seat, I, Alex Cross is James Patterson's most suspenseful Alex Cross novel yet.


This is a typical James Patterson novel, which is definitely NOT a bad thing. I enjoyed the rapid-fire pace of the story and how he kept the action moving with short chapters.

And there sure was A LOT of action. Some parts were gross. I mean, really nauseatingly gross. I had to close my eyes and shake off the gruesome murder scenes more than once. In addition, as the story revolved around a sex club, some chapters contained explicit sex. It was essential to the plot and not just there for shock value--though some of it was admittedly shocking to read. With each murder and act of depravity, I really wanted Alex to track down the corrupt perverts and punish them big time.

Another thing I like about the series is the presence of family, which balances the story out and adds an extra layer to Alex Cross. This book was no exception, with a touching subplot revolving around Alex's Nana. It was a dose of humanity in the midst of a very inhumane murder case.

I enjoyed this book, devouring it during one sitting. And the cliffhanger ending left me wanting more.


For more information, visit James Patterson at:
jamespatterson.com

Monday, March 22, 2010

Lindsay Eland: Scones and Sensibility

Long-time readers know I'm a Jane Austen fanatic, which means I jump at the chance to read anything inspired by her novels. So, of course, I was excited to find Scones and Sensibility by Lindsay Eland at my local library!

Synopsis:
Seek tirelessly and you shall not find a contemporary heroine of middle-grade literature as refined and romantic as Miss Polly Madassa. Still swooning over the romantic conclusions of Pride & Prejudice and Anne of Green Gables, twelve-year-old Polly decides her purpose in life: helping along lonely hearts in search of love. Polly's only task this summer is to make deliveries for her parents' bakery, leaving ample time for this young cupid to find hearts to mend--beginning with the kite-store owner, Mr. Nightquist, who will pair perfectly with Miss Wiskerton (the unfairly labeled town curmudgeon). Polly's best friend Fran Fisk is in desperate need of a mother ever since hers ran off with a man she met on the Internet; Polly must find a match for Mr. Fisk. And while she's at it, it wouldn't hurt to find Clementine, Polly's teenaged sister, a beau worthy of her (so she can shed that brute, Clint). Polly's plans are in full swing, so she definitely cannot be bothered by the advances of classmate Brad Barker.

But maybe Polly should have turned her attention to Miss Austen's Emma next, because she quickly learns the pitfalls of playing matchmaker. How will Polly patch up her own relationships, while ensuring that destined love can take its course?


Polly Madassa is quite the winsome character, and I adore her. She takes her favorite novels very seriously, allowing them to inspire the way she dresses, talks, and interacts with others. With books as her guide, she tends to get lost in whimsical fantasies and has a flair for the dramatic. But her heart is in the right place.

Though she sometimes slips up and talks like a modern girl, her narration is very much like reading novels by Jane Austen and Lucy Maud Montgomery. It was refreshing. And you really can't blame a girl for wanting a world filled with chivalry, romance, and cordial behavior.

Unfortunately, Polly is only twelve years old and hasn't experienced love on her own. The only things she knows about love come from books, which leads to a comedy of errors--including breakups, arguments, and even an arrest--as she plays matchmaker around town. I laughed out loud more than once and really wanted her to make a successful match.

But, like most true heroines, Polly holds her head high, rights her wrongs, and learns about real love and happiness. She even meets a romantic suitor of her very own.

Having Polly's parents own a bakery was the cherry on top of this very sweet story. I could almost smell the delicious treats that were baked and delivered to customers.

Scones and Sensibility was a lovely story from beginning to end. I'm eagerly awaiting Lindsay Eland's next book!


For more information, visit Lindsay Eland at:
@lindsayeland
lindsayeland.com

Friday, March 19, 2010

Maureen Johnson: Suite Scarlett

After reading and loving 13 Little Blue Envelopes, I knew I wanted to read more books by Maureen Johnson. The cover art for Suite Scarlett caught my attention--It's quite striking!--so I knew I had to read it next.

Synopsis:
Her new summer job comes with baggage.

Scarlett Martin has grown up in a most unusual way. Her family owns the Hopewell, a small hotel in the heart of New York City, and Scarlett lives there with her four siblings - Spencer, Lola, and Marlene.

When each of the Martins turns fifteen, they are expected to take over the care of a suite in the once elegant, now shabby Art Deco hotel. For Scarlett's fifteenth birthday, she gets both a room called the Empire Suite, and a permanent guest called Mrs. Amberson.

Scarlett doesn't quite know what to make of this C-list starlet, world traveler, and aspiring autobiographer who wants to take over her life. And when she meets Eric, an astonishingly gorgeous actor who has just moved to the city, her summer takes a second unexpected turn.

Before the summer is over, Scarlett will have to survive a whirlwind of thievery, Broadway glamour, romantic missteps, and theatrical deceptions. But in the city where anything can happen, she just might be able to pull it off.


Could you imagine living in a hotel? Who cares if you have to take care of rooms and guests! To me, Scarlett's life was unique and fun! I was so immersed in the story that I couldn't stop reading. I loved Scarlett's family and the supporting cast so much that I couldn't stop smiling as I read about them and their crazy adventures.

Seriously, I loved this book. Maureen Johnson included all of the perfect elements: eccentric characters, an offbeat hotel, theatre, stolen kisses, betrayal, an intriguing guest, family drama, triumph over adversity, and sparkling dialogue.

As the title suggests, Scarlett is the main character, but each of her siblings--older brother Spencer, older sister Lola, and little sister Marlene--get equal story time and end up being essential to the plot. Their individual stories added extra depth to the story. With so many likable characters, how could you not hope for the best and root for their success?

The supporting cast, especially the worldly Mrs. Amberson, was so skillfully woven into the story that it was easy to feel Scarlett's every emotion.

Having New York City as the characters' playground only made Suite Scarlett all the more exciting.

Maureen Johnson has now officially become one of my favorite authors. I can't wait to see what happens next in Scarlett Fever!


For more information, visit Maureen Johnson at:
@maureenjohnson
maureenjohnsonbooks.com

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Heather Hepler: The Cupcake Queen

I love cupcakes, so I couldn't resist The Cupcake Queen by Heather Hepler. I mean, look at that cover. Yummy!

Synopsis:
When her mother moves them from the city to a small town to open up a cupcake bakery, Penny's life isn't what she expected. Her father has stayed behind, and Mom isn't talking about what the future holds for their family. And then there's Charity, the girl who plays mean pranks almost daily. There are also bright spots in Hog's Hollow--like Tally, an expert in Rock Paper Scissors, and Marcus, the boy who is always running on the beach. But just when it looks as though Penny is settling in, her parents ask her to make a choice that will turn everything upside down again. A sweet novel about love, creativity, and accepting life's unexpected turns.

This book was absolutely charming!

Penny is such a lovable character that I couldn't help but cheer for her as she stood up to bullies like Charity, grappled with her parents' separation, and fell for Marcus. Watching her face trials and tribulations--instead of running from them--and find peace with her life was both moving and inspiring. Her narration is filled with so much poise and maturity that it was easy to forget that Penny is only thirteen years old.

Even better, the supporting characters--especially her quirky, cool best friend Tally--are just as endearing. One of the biggest characters is, of course, the many cupcake creations that Penny, her mom, and grandmother whipped up in the cupcake bakery. From the moment I started reading, I had an irresistible urge to bake and eat cupcakes--even if I couldn't make them as beautiful as Penny did!

If you're looking for a sweet, fun read, I think you'll enjoy The Cupcake Queen.


For more information, visit Heather Hepler at:
heatherhepler.com

Monday, March 1, 2010

Trailer: The Dead-Tossed Waves

I cannot wait to read The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan (March 9 / Delacorte Books for Young Readers)!

Synopsis:
Gabry lives a quiet life. As safe a life as is possible in a town trapped between a forest and the ocean, in a world teeming with the dead, who constantly hunger for those still living. She's content on her side of the Barrier, happy to let her friends dream of the Dark City up the coast while she watches from the top of her lighthouse. But there are threats the Barrier cannot hold back. Threats like the secrets Gabry's mother thought she left behind when she escaped from the Sisterhood and the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Like the cult of religious zealots who worship the dead. Like the stranger from the forest who seems to know Gabry. And suddenly, everything is changing. One reckless moment, and half of Gabry's generation is dead, the other half imprisoned. Now Gabry only knows one thing: she must face the forest of her mother's past in order to save herself and the one she loves.

Check out the trailer!



Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus: Dedication

I was very excited to receive a review copy of Dedication by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus (out in paperback March 2 / Atria Books)! I'm a big fan of their books, and this was no exception.

Synopsis:
Kate Hollis’s ex-boyfriend’s face plasters newsstands and TV, the Internet, and the multiplex. Jake Sharpe is one of the biggest recording stars on the planet, and every song he’s famous for is about Kate. For over a decade his soundtrack has chased her - from the gym to the supermarket, from the dentist’s office to the bars. Now thirty-year-old Kate gets the call that Jake has finally landed back in their Vermont hometown for an MTV special. The moment she has been waiting for has arrived.

On the eve of their prom, Jake Sharpe vanished, resurfacing when his song "Losing" - about his and Kate’s first sexual experience - shot to the top of the Billboard charts. And the hits kept coming, each more personal than the one before.

Now Kate gets her chance to confront Jake and reclaim her past. But after eleven years of enduring protracted and far-from-private heartbreak, everyone in Kate’s life has a stake in how this plays out. Kate must risk betraying the friends Jake abandoned, the bandmates whose songs he plundered, and her own parents, who fear this will dredge up a shared past more painful than any of them want to acknowledge. But after getting the call in the dead of night and jumping on a plane, can she turn back now?


Getting over your first love is hard enough. But hearing your first love sing about your relationship on his best-selling albums? Yikes! I couldn't blame Kate Hollis for wanting to confront her past.

Dedication has alternating chapters--the junior high/high school years giving the reader a glimpse into how Kate and Jake met and fell in love, as well as present-day chapters filling you in on what they're up to now.

I liked Kate. I thought she was a strong, interesting character. Sure, there were times where I wanted to grab her by the shoulders, shake her furiously, and yell, "Get over it!" But I understood her need to get closure on that heartbreaking time in her life.

Jake didn't seem worth all the fuss. He was narcissistic and inconsiderate. He made me take back every adolescent thought I ever had about dating my favorite popstars.

Luckily, Kate was surrounded by lovable characters that put her in her place, but loved and supported her when she needed it most. The friendship between Kate and her best friend Laura was sweet and fun. The dynamic between Kate and her parents was both bittersweet and inspiring.

All in all, I really enjoyed this book. It had a little bit of everything--love, friendship, a behind-the-scenes look at the music industry, and nostalgia (thanks to pop culture references from the '80s and '90s). Even better, it featured down-to-earth characters that I related to and cared about.


For more information, visit Emma and Nicola at:
@NannyDiaries
thenannydiaries.com
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