Saturday, April 30, 2011

Little Girls in Pretty Boxes: The Making and Breaking of Elite Gymnasts and Figure Skaters by Joan Ryan

Little Girls in Pretty Boxes is engrossing and educational. It is rather one sided, leaning towards the negative aspects of figure skating and gymnastics.

Ryan discusses in lengthy detail the mental, physical and psychological problems that exists in the sport. He also weighs in on the eating disorders and the desire/need for teeny tiny female athletes in a sport where "old" is 20 years old.

Being an elite gymnast/figure skater is a sport dominated by the young, that requires strength, dedication and hard work -

As you read this, keep in mind that this book doesn't cover all aspects of the sport, it leaves out the good and bad (yes, more bad). If you are using this book as a way to make informative choices, seek plenty of other sources, as it is extremely one sided.

Grade: B

Synopsis [B&N]
From starvation diets and debilitating injuries to the brutal tactics of tyrannical gymnastics guru Bela Karolyi, "Little Girls in Pretty Boxes" portrays the horrors endured by girls at the hands of their coaches and sometimes their own families. An acclaimed expose that has already helped reform Olympic sports -- now updated to reflect the latest developments in women's gymnastics and figure skating -- it continues to plead for sanity, safety, and an end to our national obsession: winning at any cost.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Sing You Home: A Novel by Jodi Picoult

Picoult has a way of tackling controversial issues and bringing them to life. Her newest book, Sing You Home is no exception to this.

This book in particular deals with Gay rights and IVF. Picoult manages to explain a complicated issue with ease. Her characters are well developed and memorable.

Picoult managed to address both issues involving peoples feeling and beliefs in relation to Gay Rights and religion with taste and candor.

Expect the same type of formal she has used in previous books. This novel also has a predictable ending ---

Grade: A

Synopsis [B&N]
Every life has a soundtrack. All you have to do is listen.
Music has set the tone for most of Zoe Baxter’s life. There’s the melody that reminds her of the summer she spent rubbing baby oil on her stomach in pursuit of the perfect tan. A dance beat that makes her think of using a fake ID to slip into a nightclub. A dirge that marked the years she spent trying to get pregnant.
For better or for worse, music is the language of memory. It is also the language of love.
In the aftermath of a series of personal tragedies, Zoe throws herself into her career as a music therapist. When an unexpected friendship slowly blossoms into love, she makes plans for a new life, but to her shock and inevitable rage, some people—even those she loves and trusts most—don’t want that to happen.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Divergent (Divergent Trilogy) by Veronica Roth

Divergent is Roth's debut novel. The rights have already been sold to Summit Entertainment and if the rest of the trilogy is as fantastic as this first book, I will be hooked.

I goes on sale, May 3, 2011. Go out and purchase it because you will want to add this to your book collection.

Divergent takes place in dystopian, Chicago. Society is broken down into five factions each faction is based upon virtues that the leaders of those faction find of most importance.

1. Abnegation, which values selflessness.
2. Amity, which values love and happiness.
3. Candor , which values honest.
4. Dauntless, which values bravery.
5. Erudite which values knowledge.

When one reaches the age of sixteen they are "forced" to take an aptitude test and pick a faction. The main character, Beatrice/Tris belongs to Abnegation but when the results of her test come back inconclusive she is left to essential make a choice on her own about which faction to choose. Her choice set up the stage for this compelling and enchanting novel.

The main character is realistic and so full of life that her story quickly takes you into her world.

The writing is smooth and although the book is a hefty 500+ pages the pace is continuous, exciting and well crafted.

I found this book impossible to put down. I just had to know what was going to happen. The twist and turns keep you on edge and the ending is satisfying enough that you walk away happy rather the frustrated.

Don't let the heft of this book turn you away because it is action packed and intense.

My hopes are that the sequel(s) explore more of the other factions since so little is revealed about them in this book.

Grade: A+

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Shimmer: A Riley Bloom Book (Radiance) by Alyson Noel

Shimmer is disappointingly average. The plot line is interesting but the story itself isn't nearly as entertaining as the the first book, Radiance.

The main character becomes whinny and slightly annoying when before she was strong and full of spunk.

I won't let this particular book ruin the next book in this installment for me but I hope that it turns out better than this one.

Grade: C-

From the Publisher
Having solved the matter of the Radiant Boy, Riley, Buttercup, and Bodhi are enjoying a well-deserved vacation. When Riley comes across a vicious black dog, against Bodhi’s advice, she decides to cross him over. While following the dog, she runs into a young ghost named Rebecca. Despite Rebecca’s sweet appearance, Riley soon learns she’s not at all what she seems. As the daughter of a former plantation owner, she is furious about being murdered during a slave revolt in 1733. Mired in her own anger, Rebecca is lashing out by keeping the ghosts who died along with her trapped in their worst memories. Can Riley help Rebecca forgive and forget without losing herself to her own nightmarish memories?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

XVI by Julia Karr

Karr's debut novel is a must read Dystopian novel.

It is dark, intriguing, exiting and wonderfully crafted. It takes place in the year 2150 in which all females at age 16 must be marked with a XVI tattoo on their wrist. This tattoo signifies that they are "ready" and "willing" to have sex. Society does not allow for free thinking, every conversation can be tracked and heard and if you still have the GPS implant you can easily be found.

The characters are strong and well developed. The storyline is fun and easy to follow, which makes for an enjoyable read. I expect and hope that the sequel will be just as entertaining.

Grade: A

Synopsis [B&N]
Nina Oberon's life is pretty normal: she hangs out with her best friend, Sandy, and their crew, goes to school, plays with her little sister, Dee. But Nina is 15. And like all girls she'll receive a Governing Council–ordered tattoo on her 16th birthday. XVI. Those three letters will be branded on her wrist, announcing to all the world–even the most predatory of men–that she is ready for sex. Considered easy prey by some, portrayed by the Media as sluts who ask for attacks, becoming a "sex-teen" is Nina’s worst fear. That is, until right before her birthday, when Nina’s mom is brutally attacked. With her dying breaths, she reveals to Nina a shocking truth about her past–one that destroys everything Nina thought she knew. Now, alone but for her sister, Nina must try to discover who she really is, all the while staying one step ahead of her mother's killer.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Unplanned: The Dramatic True Story of a Former Planned Parenthood Leader's Eye-Opening Journey across the Life Line by Abby Johnson and Cindy Lamber

Unplanned is Abby Johnson's autobiography. She was the director of a Planned Parenthood in Texas and one seemingly simple day, she is called in to witness an abortion. This ultra sound abortion, along with a demand to INCREASE abortions in her clinic caused her beliefs to be challenged, tested and changed.

Johnson is honest and her book is difficult to read, not because it is poorly written but because of what lies on the pages.

The book was enjoyable until the focus changed to faith and god, which wouldn't have been so bad if I didn't feel that I was being converted.

Overall an informative and gentle read to a heated argument.

Grade: B

Synopsis [B&N]
“What I have told people for years, what I’ve believed and taught and defended, is a lie.
What if I’d known the truth, and what if I’d told all those women?”
Abby Johnson quit her job in October 2009. That simple act became a national news story because Abby was director of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Texas who, not long after assisting in an actual abortion procedure for the first time, crossed the line to join the Coalition for Life. What happened in that clinic to cause this Planned Parenthood leader and Employee of the Year to take such drastic action? And how did Planned Parenthood react to her abrupt departure?
Join Abby as she reveals her full story for the first time in Unplanned: a heart-stopping personal drama of life-and-death encounters, a courtroom battle, and spiritual transformation. Abby’s unique vantage point from both sides of the abortion clinic property line shines light and compassion into the political controversy that surrounds this issue. For anyone who cares about the life-versus-rights debate and helping women who face crisis pregnancies, Unplanned is a must-read.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Chaos (Numbers) Rachel Ward

The Chaos is second book in the Numbers trilogy and it is amazing. It doesn't even compare to the first book, Numbers.

Unlike the choppy pace in Numbers, Chaos flows. The characters are strong, relate able and the plot keeps you very interested. This book was impossible to put down - I was exhausted but HAD to finish the last few chapters!

The Chaos is dark --- Ward's disastrous world is frightening yet believable. The story is told by two characters, Adam and Sarah. It takes place in the not to distance future 2026-2027. A huge event is about to unfold, many will die and life is destined to change.

This book can stand on its own!

Grade: A

Synopsis [B&N]
The curse of the NUM8ERS continues in Rachel Ward's CHA0T1C, earth-shattering sequel!
Adam has more than inherited his mother's curse: When he looks in someone's eyes, he not only sees the date of their death...he feels the searing, shocking pain of it. Since Jem died, Adam has lived by the sea with his great-grandmother, Val. But when rising tides flood the coast, they return to London. The city is an alien, exciting, frightening place. Most disturbing of all, Adam can't help but clock how many people's numbers are in January 2027; how many are on New Year's Day. What chaos awaits the world? Can he and Sarah stop a catastrophe? Or are they, too, counted among the "twenty-sevens"?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Nightshade: Book 1 by Andrea Cremer

Nighshade is a rather entertaining novel, with a touch of romance, mystery and suspense. The mythology behind the werewolves is extremely interesting and unique. The romance scenes are steamy and the love triangle is trite.

This book is built around, Calla an alpha female werewolf , who is suppose to be a strong heroine however her character is rather weak and passive.

This story is a mix of, The Twilight Series, The Vampire Academy Series and The Immortal Series, just replace vamps and immortals with wolves. This isn't saying it's bad, just that the story, with the exception of the mythology isn't really all that different from other books out there.

There is a high degree of predictability and a typical cliff hanger ending however, I'm still interested enough to find out what happens, when the next book, Wolfsbane which, comes out July 26, 2011.

Overall, not that bad for a debut novel.

Grade: B-/C+

Synopsis [B&N]

Calla Tor has always known her destiny: After graduating from the Mountain School, she'll be the mate of sexy alpha wolf Ren Laroche and fight with him, side by side, ruling their pack and guarding sacred sites for the Keepers. But when she violates her masters' laws by saving a beautiful human boy out for a hike, Calla begins to question her fate, her existence, and the very essence of the world she has known. By following her heart, she might lose everything-- including her own life. Is forbidden love worth the ultimate sacrifice?

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter [ARC]

This review, is based on an ARC [Advanced Readers Copy] of, The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter.
The publication date is set for 4/26/11


The Goddess test is a story based on Greek mythology with a fresh and modern twist to it. It has romance, mystery and intrigue.

Kate is a strong heroine with a lot of spunk and you simple fall in love with her sweet, innocent and loving personality. The supporting characters are amazing and add a lot to this story, without them it would not succeed.

The story is rather unique and clever. You will be kept guessing until the very end!

This is a fairy easy and enjoyable read. You also don't have to know Greek mythology to understand and appreciate this little gem of a book.

Grade: A

Synopsis [B&N}
It's always been just Kate and her mom—and her mother is dying. Her last wish? To move back to her childhood home. So Kate's going to start at a new school with no friends, no other family and the fear her mother won't live past the fall.
Then she meets Henry. Dark. Tortured. And mesmerizing. He claims to be Hades, god of the Underworld—and if she accepts his bargain, he'll keep her mother alive while Kate tries to pass seven tests.
Kate is sure he's crazy—until she sees him bring a girl back from the dead. Now saving her mother seems crazily possible. If she succeeds, she'll become Henry's future bride, and a goddess.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf

These Things Hidden is a spectacular second novel for, Gudenkauf. The writing captures the heartache, pain and loneliness many of the the characters feel.
The story is told in mini-chapters by several characters, the flipping back and forth is done is such a simple fashion that there is never any confusion among identifying, different characters.

Gudenkauf writes in such a way that you find yourself , having sympathetic feelings for the main character Allison -- who's entire life changes one night. This change causes a domino effect and changes the lives of many.

The plot is realistic, the drama unfolds slowly until it bursts and you find yourself up much later than necessary finishing this particular book.

This is one entertaining read -- I only had two main issues with this book and it probably won't bother most readers.

Issue # 1 --- Gudenkauf uses the term jail rather than prison and there is a rather huge different between them.

Issue #2 --- I will not fully address since it deals with a rather important part of the novel, lets just say that a certain medical procedure changed many many , years ago and it is done incorrectly by a nursing student who would know better.

Other than these two issues that caused major distractions for me, the book makes for an excellent and gripping read.

Grade: A- [ Due to Issue #1]

Synopsis [B & N]
When teenager Allison Glenn is sent to prison for a heinous crime, she leaves behind her reputation as Linden Falls' golden girl forever. Her parents deny the existence of their once-perfect child. Her former friends exult her downfall. Her sister, Brynn, faces whispered rumors every day in the hallways of their small Iowa high school. It's Brynn—shy, quiet Brynn—who carries the burden of what really happened that night. All she wants is to forget Allison and the past that haunts her.
But then Allison is released to a halfway house, and is more determined than ever to speak with her estranged sister.
Now their legacy of secrets is focused on one little boy. And if the truth is revealed, the consequences will be unimaginable for the adoptive mother who loves him, the girl who t

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Redemption: A Story of Sisterhood, Survival, and Finding Freedom Behind Bars by Stacey Lannert and Kristen Kemp

Absolut-ely riveting!

This novel is heart wrenching. If you are overly sensitive, don't read this because a lot of the material is raw. The subject matter deals with sexual, emotional and physical abuse and in some instances animal abuse.

This book, makes for an emotional read and Lannert's recollection of her childhood trauma and her time spent in prison is candid however I feel as though she is (still) protecting her sister in terms of her fathers murder, leaving some important details out this book (which she is entitled too).

If you are a "fan" of true-crime novels, this is one that will captivate you and tear at your heart.

I also suggest that you take additional time to research this case because there are things left out. I also feel it would be interesting to read a book on this case from the prosecutes point of view since he is convinced that she is guilty.

Grade: B+

Synopsis [B&N]

"When I decided to look, I found more love and compassion than I ever imagined existed. Most significantly, I found forgiveness. I might even call it redemption."
On July 4, 1990, eighteen-year-old Stacey Lannert shot and killed her father, who had been sexually abusing her since she was eight. Missouri state law, a disbelieving prosecutor, and Stacey’s own fragile psyche conspired against her: She was found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to life without parole.
Redemption is Stacey’s candid memoir of her harrowing childhood and the pain and protective love of her sister that led her to that horrifying night. It is also an extraordinary portrait of what happened after she found herself in prison and how she grew determined to live positively, even triumphantly, despite her circumstances. Ultimately, and most profoundly, she learned the healing power of forgiveness.
After spending as many years in prison as she had out of it, on January 10, 2009, outgoing Missouri governor Matt Blunt commuted Stacey’s life sentence. Six days later she walked out of the gates a free woman.
Redemption is the story of how Stacey learned to be free while living behind bars. It is a coming-of-age story set in a parallel universe of a maximum-security prison. And, it is a story of sisterhood, courage, and justice finally served

The Embalmer by Caillé Anne-Reneé and Mullins Rhonda

The Embalmer is a short book around 80 pages or so. It's not as macabre as I was hoping but it is rather interesting. The book centers a...