Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Last Little Blue Envelope

The Last Little Blue Envelope (Little Blue Envelope, #2)The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson

Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: April 26, 2011
Hardcover: 304 pages
Price: $16.99
Series: Little Blue Envelope #2

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After Ginny's summer whirlwind tour traveling through Europe, following instructions left by her recently deceased Aunt Peg, she returns home to New Jersey and back to her regular life. She's procrastinating writing her college application essay when she receives an email from someone she's never heard of before.

**Spoiler alert from the first book, 13 Little Blue Envelopes. Oliver Davies has the last envelope from her Aunt Peg that was stolen in Greece. That last envelope contains instructions on finding one additional piece of art, but Ginny will have to travel back to Europe during the Winter Break to find it. The catch is, that in exchange for the letter, Oliver wants a cut of the profit Ginny makes. End of spoiler.**

So Ginny returns to England, furious with Oliver but finding no way out of the situation. She's excited to see Keith again, but she doesn't know where things really stand with their relationship. But the experiences Ginny and her traveling companions will have help Ginny see clearly what she wants from her future as she internalizes the lessons Aunt Peg leaves her from the past.

I adored the first book in this series and was thrilled to see Maureen Johnson wrote a sequel. She said that this book receives the most questions and feedback from readers and she really wrote this book in response to that. I love that she is able to continue Ginny's story without it seeming forced. While this book is still really funny, I enjoyed Ginny's more contemplative side. This book is a delight to read and I loved how it ended. Thank you, Maureen Johnson, for continuing Ginny's story.

Also reviewed by: Ms. Yingling Reads ~ Your link here? 
Source: e-copy provided by netGalley and HarperTeen for review purposes.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Dangerous to Know

Dangerous to Know (Lady Emily, #5)Dangerous to Know by Tasha Alexander

On the library stacks: Adult fiction/Mystery
Series: Lady Emily #5

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

I really liked the first three books in this series. Book four was a disappointment, but thankfully this book is much better than the last one. In this installment, Lady Emily and her husband are busy recuperating from their adventure in Constantinople at his mother's country estate in Normandy, France. When Emily comes upon a gruesome murder scene unexpectedly while out for a ride with her horse one day, she wants to get to the bottom of the horrific crime.

But Emily's husband isn't so sure he wants her involved. After what happened in Constantinople, he would much rather that Emily keep herself safe, and return to her academic pursuits of studying Greek and cataloging artwork. Emily knows that what she wants does not conform with society's expectations of her, but she is having a hard time giving up the equality she was used to with Colin previously.

I actually really enjoyed delving into Lady Emily's personal domestic life a little more. It's not as perfect as it once seemed, and that makes it seem more believable. I heartily recommend this series for those who love historical fiction with a dash of mystery.

Also reviewed by: Confessions of a Book Habitue ~ Your link here?

Source: Library

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Millionth Circle

The Millionth Circle: How to Change Ourselves and The World--The Essential Guide to Women's CirclesThe Millionth Circle: How to Change Ourselves and The World--The Essential Guide to Women's Circles by Jean Shinoda Bolen

On the library stacks: Adult Non-fiction

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book about creating and maintaining women's circle has a holistic, New Age, feminist vibe. While that's not normally my cup of tea, this book is well worth the 45 minutes it takes to read.

I read this book on the recommendation of a friend because of a situation we were going through in our neighborhood. Not only did I find it applied to that situation, but I also gleaned insights applicable to other aspects of my life--my marriage, my book club and my own personal spiritual journey. Much of this short book is written in free verse, leaving the reader to contemplate and interpret the ideas according to their personal circumstances. I know I'll be thinking about this one for awhile.

Source: Kindle Purchase

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


HatchetHatchet by Gary Paulsen

AR Reading Level: 5.7
On the library stacks: Juvenile/YA Fiction
Awards: Newbery Honor; ALA Notable/Best Books; SLJ Best Book; State Award; Margaret A. Edwards Award
Series: Book 1 of 5 (Brian's Saga)
Recommended for: Ages 10+

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Hatchet is a survival story about a boy who spends 55 days alone in the Canadian wilderness after his single-engine plane crashes. Brian was on his way to spend the summer with his father after his parents' recent divorce when the pilot has a heart attack and dies. After Brian crash-lands the plane, he learns how to keep himself fed, protected, and warm with nothing but the hatchet his mother gave him before he left on his trip.

At it's heart, Hatchet is a coming-of-age story. Brian realizes how quickly life can be reduced to using basic human instincts and how relying on those will keep him safe. Before his trip Brian feels burdened by the cause of his parents' breakup, known to him as the Secret. But Brian realizes that his experiences have changed him and he views the world a little differently after his ordeal.

This is my third Paulsen book and I have to say that I prefer his humor to this more dramatic and serious side. This book is required reading for my 5th grader, and I think that kids will be captivated by this story, imagining if they were in Brian's situation themselves. I decided to read along since I find in the middle grades a lot of books contain start to contain "issues" (in this book it's adultery and divorce) and I want to make sure that as a parent I'm addressing those issues with my kids appropriately.

Also reviewed by: At Home With Books ~ The Movieholic and Bibliophile's Blog ~ Good Clean Reads ~ 2 Kids and Tired Book Reviews ~ Your link here?

Source: Purchased

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Paper Towns

Paper TownsPaper Towns by John Green

AR Reading Level: 5.4
On the library stacks: YA Fiction
Awards: Booklist Editors' Choice; Edgar Award/Honor Book; Kirkus Editors Choice; SLJ Best Book

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

So here's the deal with me and John Green. I loved An Abundance of Katherines. But I hated Looking for Alaska so much that I stopped reading it halfway through. John Green's fans are very loyal (and many also apparently have a lot of time on their hands). As a result, I still get personally attacked on Goodreads for my comments about Looking for Alaska.

I love John Green's exploration of human nature. In this book he does a great job fleshing out how we perceive others what we allow others to see of ourselves.  Here's two great quotes:
"It is easy to forget how full the world is of people, full to bursting, and each of them imaginable and consistently misimagined."

"When did we see each other face-to-face? Not until you saw into my cracks and I saw into yours. Before that, we were just looking at ideas of each other, like looking at your window shade but never seeing inside. But once the vessel cracks, the light can get in. The light can get out."
And he's dang funny. The section of the book from the graduation present through the road trip had me laughing so hard my husband had to leave the room so he could concentrate on his own book. But Green is crass and irreverent in a way that just doesn't work for me.

My other problem with this book is that I couldn't stand the elusive Margo Roth Spiegleman. And since the book is about Quentin's quest to find her when she goes missing right before high school graduation, I had a hard time staying emotionally invested in the story.

I'm so conflicted about this book. Maybe nothing was going to seem all that great after reading Jane Eyre. But I guess overall I sorta liked it.

Also reviewed by: Bart's Bookshelf ~ eclectic/eccentric ~ Teen Lit Review ~ Tiny Little Reading Room ~ Reviews by Lola ~ Regular Rumination ~ Dreadlock Girl ~ Piling on the Books ~ Reba Reads Books ~ Reviews of Young Adult Literature ~ Book Addiction ~ things mean a lot ~ Capricious Reader ~ Book Nut ~ Ms. Yingling Reads ~ The Bluestocking Society ~ It's All About Books ~ Bending Bookshelf ~ Becky's Book Reviews ~ Your link here?

Source: BookMooch

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre (Bantam Classics)Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

AR Reading Level: 7.9
On the library stacks: YA/Adult fiction
Recommended for: Ages 16+

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Since I don't think there's really anything I can add to the multiple thoughts, reviews, criticisms, essays and books written about this author and her classic work of literature, here are some random thoughts:
  • Why didn't anyone force me to sit down and read this earlier?
  • I had no idea this book was so readable. I was bracing myself for stuffy Victorian language and meanderings. But this book is straightforward and, even at times, a downright page turner.
  • There were whole sections that I had to go back and re-read numerous times because the language was so beautiful. 
  • I loved how Bronte dealt with themes of self-respect, integrity, morality, pity, and forgiveness. Sometimes her ideas are complex and I think may require more life experience to appreciate fully. For that reason I would recommend this book for an older teenager.
  • I liked how the romance element did not come to fruition in one fell swoop on the second to last page like I think happens too often with Jane Austen. Then again, this was written decades later so maybe social conventions of the time has something to do with it. This book certainly contains much more passion than anything in Jane Austen's writing.
  • This is one of the few books I know I will read again. I adored it.
Also reviewed by: Linus's Blanket ~ Ardent Reader ~ A Bookshelf Monstrosity ~ Fuzzy Cricket ~ Stephanie's Written Word ~ Bending Bookshelf ~ Rebecca Reads ~ Ashley's Library ~ At Home With Books ~ Becky's Book Reviews ~ things mean a lot ~ Ticket to Anywhere ~ Puss Reboots ~ Book Nut ~ The Library Ladder ~ A Work in Progress

Source: Gift

Saturday, March 5, 2011


Matched (Matched, #1)Matched by Ally Condie

AR Reading Level: 4.8
On the library stacks: YA Fiction
Series: Book 1 of 3 (Matched)
Recommended for: Age 13+

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Cassia Reyes has absolute trust in the Society. The government controls what she wears, what she eats, where she'll work, who she'll love, and when she'll die.  She's just about to attend her Matching Banquet where she will find out who is the perfect mate for her, and she can't wait. When her best friend Xander appears on the screen, she knows he is the right one for her.

But then a glitch occurs and for a second she sees another face, and she knows him too. It's Ky Markham, the mysterious quiet boy who watches her from the fringes of her circle of friends. The Society doesn't make mistakes, so Cassia wonders why this happened and what her life might be like if she were with Ky instead.

This book is more like Dystopian Lite since it is less gritty and heavier on the romance element. However, the death of Cassia's grandfather really packed an emotional punch with me. The world building was very well done and kind of felt like The Truman Show to me since it all feels very confined and localized in this book. I got the sense that this changes in the second book and I hope to learn more about the government at large.

I found all the characters to be very likable and I loved that this book includes positive and supportive parents. This book is another YA winner and I can't wait to read the next one in the trilogy.

Also reviewed by: Teen Lit Review ~ Ticket to Anywhere ~ A Bookworm's World ~ Reading Extravaganza ~ Emily's Reading Room ~ I'm a Reader, Not a Writer ~ The Bluestocking Society ~ Not Enough Bookshelves ~ Book Addiction ~ Bloggin' 'bout Books ~ The Book Nest ~ It's All About Books ~ At Home With Books ~ eclectic / eccentric ~ cucullus non facit monachum ~ Haiku Amy ~ Gelati's Scoop
Source: Gift

Friday, March 4, 2011

Inconceivable - TLC Book Tour

Inconceivable by Carolyn & Sean Savage

Publisher: HarperOne
Publication date: February 14, 2011
Hardcover: 304 pages
ISBN: 9780062004635
Price: $26.99
On the library stacks: Adult Non-fiction

This is the incredible true story of a botched IVF that resulted in a woman pregnant with the wrong couple's embryo. Even though I knew from the beginning that Sean and Carolyn Savage decide to carry the baby to term and give the baby to the biological parents willingly, I was still thoroughly engrossed in their journey.

Told from the perspective of both husband and wife, the book is absolutely heart-wrenching and honest. I respect the Savages not only for their profound gift of love, but also because they don't gloss over the ugly parts that might not put them in the best light. Their feelings are tangibly real and their decision to share their thoughts at every stage of their pregnancy takes amazing courage.

I can't remember the last time a book affected me so profoundly. I hurt for the Savages, I tried to put myself into the shoes of the biological couple, I wrestled with some of the religious predicaments and pondered God's will and role in all of it. Have tissues handy for this one.

The Savages can be found online:
Other book tour stops:

February 25th: Good Girl Gone Redneck
March 1st: A Birth Mother Voice
March 2nd: Heart Cries
March 3rd: After ‘I Do’
March 8th: One More Ladybug
March 9th: The Privileged Infertile
March 10th: Book Club Classics!
March 15th: 2 Kids and Tired Book Reviews
March 16th: Football and Fried Rice
March 17th: Luxury Reading
March 18th: Take Me Away

Source: I received this book from the publisher as part of the TLC Book Tour.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Westing Game

The Westing GameThe Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

AR Reading Level: 5.3
On the library stacks: Children's/YA Fiction
Awards: Newbery Medal; Boston Globe/Horn Book Award/Honors; ABA Children's Book Council; ALA Notable/Best Books; SLJ Best Book
Recommended for: Ages 10+

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Good heavens. How did I miss this book when I was growing up? It's a great book for tweeners who are done with kid's books but not quite mature enough for young adult.

Sam Westing was a self-made multi-millionaire who owned a mansion on the shores of Lake Michigan. Upon his suspicious death, sixteen individuals were brought together in pairs and each were given a set of clues. If they solved the mystery of Sam's murder, they would win $200 million.

If this quirky mystery were a play, I would go and see it in a heartbeat. It kind of read like a script for me and that's how it played out in my mind. The book is hilarious and also at times surprisingly thoughtful and deep. There were a LOT of characters to remember and the middle of the book kind of lagged for me. But the finale was so perfect and so right, it made up for it in spades. Great fun!

Also reviewed by: The Avid Reader's MusingsBermudaonion's Weblog ~ The Book Nest ~ The Bluestocking Society ~ It's All About Books ~ A Book a Day ~ A Reader's Journal ~ Booking Mama

Source: BookMooch