Tuesday, October 21, 2014


by Barry Lyga

Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Mystery

Synopsis: Meet Jasper Dent: the son of the world's most notorious serial killer.

Several months have passed since Jazz helped the Lobo's Nod police force catch the serial killer known as the Impressionist.  Every day since then, Jazz was dealt with the guilt of knowing he was responsible for his father's escape from prison.  Now Billy Dent is on the loose, ready to kill again.

Jazz's reputation has spread far beyond the borders of his sleepy hometown, and when a determined New York City detective comes knocking on Jazz's door asking for help with a new case, Jazz can't say no.  The Hat-Dog Killer has the Big Apple in a panic, and the police are running scared.

Jazz has already solved one crime, but at a high cost.  Innocent people were murdered because of him.  Is the Hat-Dog Killer his means of redemption?  Or will Jazz get caught up in a killer's murderous game?

And somewhere out there, Billy is watching...and waiting.
From the book jacket

Review:  This book was enjoyable just like the first book in the series however it was a lot more gruesome.  Some of the descriptions of the murders I had to skim because it made me a little squeamish.  Some of the scenes were quite disturbing and I really could have done with less descriptions.  I did find it a little unbelievable that the police in NYC would rely on a 17 year old boy, albeit the son of an infamous serial killer, to help with their investigation and that Jazz was able to make so many of the connects.  The end was quite the cliff hanger and I am not a fan of that at all.  I am hoping I can get the next book soon!

Rating: 3.5 stars

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Lost Sisterhood

The Lost Sisterhood
Anne Fortier

The Lost Sisterhood

Genre: Fiction

Summary (from the publisher):  The Lost Sisterhood tells the story of Diana, a young and aspiring--but somewhat aimless--professor at Oxford. Her fascination with the history of the Amazons, the legendary warrior women of ancient Greece, is deeply connected with her own family's history; her grandmother in particular. When Diana is invited to consult on an archeological excavation, she quickly realizes that here, finally, may be the proof that the Amazons were real.

The Amazons' "true" story--and Diana's history--is threaded along with this modern day hunt. This historical back-story focuses on a group of women, and more specifically on two sisters, whose fight to survive takes us through ancient Athens and to Troy, where the novel reinvents our perspective on the famous Trojan War.

The Lost Sisterhood features another group of iconic, legendary characters, another grand adventure--you'll see in these pages that Fortier understands the kind of audience she has built with Juliet, but also she's delivering a fresh new story to keep that audience coming back for more.

Review:  First of all, I think the author of this book did an amazing job depicting the life of Myrina, head of the elusive Amazon tribe of women, and tying her story in to the modern day discoveries of the philologist Diana.  I could never write a book this interesting in a million years, and I have nothing but admiration for someone who can.

I wanted to love this book - I like adventure stories about treasure hunts, I like historical fiction, I like books about women, and I especially like historical fiction where women are the main characters in a treasure hunt.  And the story of Myrina's life in ancient Africa, Crete, Troy and Germany was novel and interesting.  But, there were lots of things about this book that drove me nuts.  First, it was WAY too long and convoluted.  Second, the romance between Diana and Nick was inexplicable - she thought he was a villain, then discovered he'd been lying to her about everything, then fell in love with him?  No way, she was too smart for that.  Third, there seemed to be some kind of weird political anti-government and anti-American agenda going on, and it had no place in this novel whatsoever.  And fourth, there were too many coincidences that were just too unbelievable.

I think I would have enjoyed this book a lot more if it had focused primarily on Myrina, skipped the romance entirely, and been a good deal shorter!

Rating: 3 stars

The One and Only Ivan

The One and Only Ivan
by Katherine Applegate

Genre: Juvenile Fiction

Synopsis:  Ivan is an easygoing gorilla.  Living at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade, he has grown accustomed to humans watching him through the glass walls of his domain.  He rarely misses his life in the jungle.  In fact, he hardly ever things about it at all.

Instead, Ivan things about TV shows he's seen and about his friends Stella, an elderly elephant, and Bob, a stray dog.  But mostly Ivan things about art and how to capture the taste of a mango or the sound of leaves with color and a well-placed line.

Then he meets Ruby, a baby elephant taken from her family, and she makes Ivan see their home-and his own art-through new eyes.  When Ruby arrives, change comes with her, and it's up to Ivan to make it a change for the better.
From the book jacket

Becky's Review:  It's hard to really like juvenile fiction books because they seem so young to me but this book was not like that.  I loved that the author told the story from the perspective of the gorilla.  Ivan  is an interesting character and he has depth even though he's a gorilla.  This was an uplifting story of an animal who cares for others and does everything within his power to help his friends.  The chapters went by very quickly and there wasn't much writing on each page.  I did find that a little fragmented but perhaps it was done that way since this book is intended for a much younger audience.  I would definitely recommend this book to kids and their parents.

Becky's Rating: 4 stars

Marcie's Review: I had NO IDEA that this book was written from the point of view of a gorilla, and I'm not sure I would have chosen to read it if I had known this in advance.  I'm thankful that I didn't know, because I loved this book!  It was so interesting to read about Ivan's perspective on humans, how people talk too much, use too many words, and buy too many ridiculous things.  He was a very observant and intelligent gorilla, and I think adults could pick up some of his lessons about people even more than kids might, making this an appropriate book for all ages.  I was surprised to find myself identifying with a few of the animals in the domain, and even crying about the experiences that they were going through.  Some pages only have a few sentences, and there are pictures interspersed throughout, so I read this book in about two hours. 

The biggest problem I had with this book was that I don't believe animals can have the depth of emotion that was portrayed in this book.  But it was certainly interesting (and educational) to think about how they would feel if they did.

Marcie's Rating: 4.5 stars

On The Island

On the Island
by Tracey Garvis Graves

Genre: Chick Lit, Romance

Synopsis:  Anna Emerson is a thirty-year-old English teacher desperately in need of adventure.  Worn down by the cold Chicago winters and a relationship that's going nowhere, she jumps at the chance to spend the summer on a tropical island tutoring the sixteen-year-old T.J.

T.J. Callahan has no desire to go anywhere.  His cancer is in remission and he wants to get back to his normal life.  But his parents are insisting he spend the summer in the Maldives catching up on all the school he missed last year.

Anna and T.J. board a private plane headed to the Callahan's summer home, and as they fly over the Maldives' twelve hundred islands, the unthinkable happens.  Their plane crashes in shark-infested waters.  They make it to shore but soon discover that they're stranded on an uninhabited island.

At first, their only thought is survival.  But as the day turns to weeks, and then months, Anna begins to wonder if the biggest challenge of all might be living with a boy who is gradually becoming a man.
From the back of the book

Becky's review:  At first I thought this book was just going to be trashy and far too romancey for me but after the first 40-50 pages, the writing improved, the characters developed and the book became much better.  I was really disturbed by the age difference between Anna and T.J. and felt like the romance in this book would be totally inappropriate.  But luckily the characters were legal when the romance started and that made me feel better about the story line.  This was a quick and easy beach read.  There's not a lot of meat to it but it's fun and light.  It is a tad unbelievable at times but I was willing to overlook that for the sake of a fun novel.

Becky's rating:  3 1/2 stars

Marcie's review:  When I started reading this book, I knew it was a romance between a 30 year old woman and a teenage boy; I'm glad I did, because otherwise I would have been so disturbed by the idea of that that I would have put the book down.  And this turned out to be a quick and enjoyable read, so I'm glad I stuck with it.  I was relieved to discover that their romantic relationship didn't actually start until T.J. was 18, but the 13 year age difference still made me cringe when I thought about it.  Having said that, I always enjoy stories about castaways, and so I was eager to see how this unusual couple survived on their deserted island.  There were definitely parts where the reader had to suspend disbelief, and the author skipped over some aspects that I'm sure would have been challenging - like how did they manage to collect enough drinkable water during the dry sesason?  In addition to the details of their survival, I appreciated seeing the characters grow and mature, especially towards the end of the novel, but I was not thrilled with the frequency of the descriptive sex scenes.

Marcie's rating:  3 1/2 stars