Monday, June 25, 2012

GIANT Book Fair This Weekend!

Just so you know, there is a GARGANTUAN book fair this weekend from June 28-30 at the First United Methodist Church on Main Street in Freehold, NJ. If you go on Saturday the 30th, you will be given a large brown shopping bag and however many books you can or want to fit into it, the cost is only $5! I look forward to this fair every year, so I just thought I'd share it with all you bookworms out there. See you there!

Happy readings!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Kissed by an Angel (Omnibus) by Elizabeth Chandler

Kissed by an Angel (Omnibus) by Elizabeth Chandler (pseudonym of Mary Claire Helldorfer) contains three very intriguing, fast-paced, and suspense filled books: Kissed by an Angel, The Power of Love, and Soulmates. The trilogy follows the star-crossed love story of Tristan and Ivy (note the Tristan and Isolde similarities?) and their ill-fated romance. Ivy, after being wooed for months, finally succumbs to Tristan's romantic interests and agrees to go on a date with him. One date turns into two, and before long the two are inseparable. But their once-in-a-lifetime love is short lived when a car accident kills Tristan. Tristan reawakens as an angel, stuck somewhere between our world and the next, with a mission. The only problem: he doesn't know what his mission is, but as the circumstances surrounding the accident become murkier, his determination to save Ivy from whatever killed him becomes clearer. Meanwhile, Ivy is suffering from the loss and turns to her new stepbrother, Greg, for comfort. Greg recently lost his mother to an alleged suicide, and right now he seems to be the only one who understands what Ivy is encountering. As time goes on, Tristan, with the help of a fellow angel, begins to suspect that Ivy's friends are not what they seem and one of them is responsible for his death. With the plot thickening as a classmate of Ivy's and Greg's dies from what appears to be (another) suicide, Tristan doesn't know how to stop what's coming next: Ivy's murder. The trilogy takes the reader down a path more winding than the mountain that Tristan and Ivy drove on the night he was killed. Riddled with suspense, powerful emotions, and much more, Kissed by an Angel puts love to the test. But will love be able to conquer all?

Chandler wrote a phenomenal trilogy (these are from 1995) which she recently picked up again with two recent installations: Evercrossed and Everlasting, which have come out within the past sixteen months. The books are an easy read, but the plot makes up for any feelings of too-simple writing. There are very few curses, a few scenes with underage drinking, and one or two more violent episodes. If I had to apply an MPAA rating to Kissed by an Angel, it would be PG. This is definitely a strong recommendation, though. I couldn't put it down. I read the whole omnibus within 36 hours or less (I had a very long car trip to Virginia!)

Happy readings!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Fracture by Megan Miranda

After having drowned for 11 minutes, Delaney Maxwell is miraculously revived with no brain damage. In fact, she has just the opposite: a gift - or rather a curse - to sense when someone near her is about to die. Soon thereafter, she meets Troy Varga, a boy with an identical ability. Seemingly harmless and the only one capable of truly understanding what Delaney is going through, the two grow close. But something about Troy is a little bit fishy. Troy has another secret - one much more deadly than knowing when someone's about to die. But can Delaney change fate, especially when she can sense one of her friends is going to die?

Miranda crafted an interesting novel with some twists that, though foreseeable, still had me enraptured in her work. Overall, the book was fairly appropriate, with only a few scattered swear words. It's an easy read; I read it in one night (also credit to Miranda's skillful writing). The overall concept of the book, though explore in other pieces of literature, brought a fresh perspective to the idea of someone being able to sense death. We read stories about animals who have a gift similar to Delaney's, but it becomes so much more curious when it is a human who has been given this ability. I would definitely recommend this book, but it's not at the top of my list. Be warned, though; it is fairly chilling, and not just because Delaney was drowning in a frozen lake.

Happy readings!

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Thieves of Heaven by Richard Doetsch

To start off, this is probably one of the best books I've read in quite a while.

Michael St. Pierre is a reformed thief who now has a legitimate life, business, and small circle of friends. But when his loving wife, Mary, who stood by him through thick and thin - including jail - is diagnosed with cancer, Michael is offered a chance to pay for her pulling off one more heist. Morally torn between the promise he made to Mary never to steal again and the one opportunity to save her life, Michael chooses the latter and heads off to Vatican City to steal a pair of keys. What he doesn't know, however, that these keys open - and close - the gates of Heaven, and the man who hired Michael to do the job is the Devil himself. He completes the job, but money can't save Mary's life now. The only thing she has left is her soul, and her faith, and with the Devil in possession of the keys, Michael knows he must steal them back to save her soul, and maybe his faith too. But how do you beat Satan at his own game? Throw into the mix a parole violation, a sociopath serial killer, a priest who will stop at no end to protect that in which he believes, and a cop (who just happens to be Michael's best friend) whose values are always on the side of the law, and you've got a thriller you're not soon to forget!

Doetsch's writing style is superb, with a great variety of sentence structure, a wide vocabulary, and a well-crafted plot filled with ingenuity that is hard to come by these days. I was originally expecting something along the lines of The da Vinci Code, but was excited and enchanted with a story far from the adventures of Robert Langdon. The book is riddled with curses, some sexual references, and several fairly graphic scenes. This book is not for the weak-hearted - or the weak-stomached.

Happy readings!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Help to Increase Funding for Children's Cancer Research

Hey, there, Bookenders! I'm going to stray from reviewing a book or really anything book-related today, but this is something extremely important for which I, and many others, need your help.

Children's cancer affects thousands of families each year, including mine. Below you can find a link to sign a petition to help increase funding to find a cure for children's cancer. Children with brain cancer, for example, have a survival rate of less than 10%. I personally know someone who, last year, was part of the 90% who didn't survive from this horrible disease.

This petition requires 25,000 signatures. It's a lofty goal, I know, but every signature counts. That even means yours. Right now there are only 1,137 signatures, which means that another 23,863 are still required to meet our goal. It may seem like a Sisyphean task, but every signature will help bring another child closer to surviving and becoming part of the 10% who do.

So now I humbly ask you to please copy and paste the link below into your browsing bar, briefly make an account, and sign this petition. It takes under 10 minutes to do this, and it's probably taken you more time to read this post than it will for you to sign the petition. In that case, I will end this post by thanking you very much for your support and signatures. Your signature could be the one that saves a child's life.!/petition/increase-funding-childhood-cancer-2013-budget-submitted-congress/8dxHqYQY

Once you create an account, click on the link again, sign back in, then press the "back" button to get the "Sign This Petition" box to light up. Once it is a green box, you can click it, and that's all there is to it.

Thank you again for your time, support, and consideration.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Reasons to Be Happy by Katrina Kittle

Hannah Carlisle is your normal, everyday girl - except for the fact that her parents are both famous movie stars. But she still finds reasons to be happy, which she writes down whenever she thinks of a new one. Lately, though, Hannah's been having trouble finding new reasons, seeing as her mom is dying of cancer and Hannah feels that she wants to look "beautiful" for her mother before she dies. The stress of all that plus transferring to a new school for children of elite people (business executives, movie stars, etc.) is building up, and Hannah discovers a new outlet that helps her feel better: throwing up. Known as her "Secret Remedy" or "SR," Hannah begins to rely on it more and more, especially after her mother dies. Her world is falling apart around her with her mother dying, her not-so-friendly friends, and being sentenced to work in the school cafeteria after she's caught stealing cookies. The only people Hannah feels she can turn to - though hesitantly - are the school's social outcast Jasper and her Oscar-winning aunt. Aunt Izzy, recognizing Hannah's bulimia and her brother-in-law's return to alcohol, whisks Hannah off to Ghana with her to encourage Hannah to try to get her life back in order. The trip changes Hannah as she changes the lives of the people she meets. Slowly but surely, Hannah begins to find reasons to be happy once again.

There are few words to adequately describe how wonderful and poignantly written this book is. I can honestly say the book made me laugh, cry, and everything in between. Kittle weaves an excellent story while encompassing real problems real people face every single day. I could not put the book down and stayed up far past my bedtime reading it! (Don't tell my mom! ; ) ) Reasons to Be Happy is a refreshing read that puts a spin on the pressures of everyday society. It covers so many problems and carries the reader on Hannah's journey so perfectly that it became challenging at times to remember that the book is just a work of fiction.

As for content, I would recommend it for ages fifteen and up. Hannah's bulimia gets fairly graphic (even I felt queasy at a few points), the emotions penetrated and portrayed from her mother's death are for more mature teens, and her father's alcoholism can get a little rough for readers. Also, in one scene one boy tries to "feel up" Hannah at a pool party, though she quickly pushes him away. The book deals a lot with body image and being able to be comfortable with who you are and what you look like. There are very few, if any, swear words in Reasons to Be Happy.

Ms. Kittle has even inspired me to keep a little list of reasons to be happy, though the list is currently transcribed only in my head, not on paper!

If you or someone you know is suffering from an eating disorder, there is help out there for you and you are not alone. There are many teen hotlines available, as well as talking to a trusted adult. The National Crisis Line for Anorexia and Bulimia phone number is 1.800.233.4357. The National Eating Disorder Hotline phone number is 1.800.248.3285. More information and hotlines can be found by a simple Google search or on the extensive disorders are serious diseases and can be fatal. The life you save could be one you love.

Happy readings!

On the Shelf: Carrier of the Mark by Leigh Fallon

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

As I Wake by Elizabeth Scott

As I Wake is a short novel by Elizabeth Scott about a society in which people can travel to other times and alternate societies. One young girl is haunted by memories of a past society she lived in and the young man she came to love. Ava, the main character, is surrounded by friends and family who are entirely different than she remembers and in a different environment. Before long, Morgan, the boy she loves, keeps appearing to her, if only for a few minutes. Ava must decipher the truth and what really happened to her and how she woke up in a hospital bed in this society so different from the one in which she remembered living.

This was a very confusing book. It opened with Ava waking up in a hospital bed with very little or no back story. Though some of it becomes clearer throughout the book, Scott never gives her readers a clear answer as to the rhyme and reason of this multiple-worlds-like society. I found it very frustrating, disjointed, and rather boring. However, Scott does deserve some credit as I simply had to know what happened at the end of the book so I did continue to read it.

Overall, it was a pretty depressing book with some twisted characters. The ending was especially unsatisfying, but I won't ruin it for you!

There were some scenes of violence, some other thematic elements, but very little or no cursing and no sexual content. I would probably say ages twelve and up could read this book based on maturity levels.

On the Shelf: Reasons to Be Happy by Katrina Kittle