Sunday, September 14, 2014

James Clyde and the Diamonds of Orchestra

James Clyde and the Diamonds of Orchestra by Colm McElwain

(I took this summary from the back cover of the book.) "As an infant, James Clyde was deposited at a children's home by his wounded, blood-soaked grandfather. As a result, he grows up under a cloud of mystery. Eleven years later when he hears about his strange past, he vows to uncover the truth. But before he can, his grandfather hands him a magical and mysterious diamond of Orchestra. With the aid of his friends, Ben and Mary Forester, James must protect the diamond from evil forces. Soon, however, their lives are in grave danger. They are being hunted by a sinister man dressed in black and his blood-thirsty army. Outnumbered, James finds he must use the power of the diamond to escape their clutches--or become another victim of their murderous quest. So begins a journey that will transport them to an alternative world where they must confront the mysterious man in black for a final, winner-takes-all battle..."

First of all I must not judge this book by its cover. The cover looks very cheesy and childish. The story, however, is very different. I think this book needs a new cover. After I finished it, I handed it to my 11-year-old son. He's read everything, so I was excited to give him something different to read. He took one look at it and rolled his eyes. I told him it was good and to give it a chance. About three hours later he brought it back and said he was finished, and it was, "Awesome!" I enjoyed the story. I liked James and thought he was a likable character. I liked Mary and Ben as well. I liked the mysterious grandfather, but wished I had known more about him in the beginning. You learn more about him as the story goes on, but some of that info. would have been good to know earlier. The kids in the story sometimes act their ages, but sometimes act a little too old. They are a little too brave in some circumstances, but it is fantasy. The transition from one place to another was well done. I definitely wish I would have known more about Orchestra and the diamonds, but I think we learn more as we go along. This book has some mystery, some action, some fun, some villains, some heroes, some sacrifice, some fighting, some flying, and some surprises. It is a little predictable in places, but is surprising in others. I thought it was creative and different. 

There are some spelling and grammatical errors, and it could have used maybe a little more editing. The grandfather could have used more development, along with why he didn't keep James with him full time. There were two swear words, and some fighting violence. There are a couple of gruesome murders. Overall, I liked the story. My 11-year-old son loved it. 

Rating: PG+ (Two swear words, fighting violence, and two gruesome murders, along with fighting)

Recommendation: Third or Fourth Grade and up (The violence is no worse than Harry Potter, so if your child read Harry Potter in third grade, like mine did, then this will be fine in third grade. However, there are those swear words, so be aware of that.)

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Liebster Award

Awhile ago, on August 24th exactly, Felicia from A Silly's Girls Thoughts nominated me for a Liebster Award! Thank you Felicia!!! I had no idea what that was, so I googled it. Apparently, a Liebster Award is an award given to bloggers from bloggers. 

So, here are the rules:
  • Link and thank the person who nominated your blog
  • Answer the eleven questions they asked you
  • Pick eleven bloggers with less than two hundred followers to nominate
  • Ask them eleven questions
  • Let them know that you’ve nominated them by commenting on one of their posts

Okay, here it goes:
1. If you had to pick max three favorite books, what would it be?
     -Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas, and The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom
2. If you had to pick max three of your least favorite books, what would it be?
     -Allegiant (Divergent Book #3) by Veronica Roth, Mockingjay (Hunger Games Book #3) by Suzanne Collins, and Lord of the Flies by William Golding
3. Do you ever read a book, not so much because you think you will like it, but because it's one of those books you feel like you have to read?
     -Yes. I have tried to read Moby Dick so many times because I think I should like it, but I don't. I don't like it. (Shhhh!!! Don't tell!)
4. What's your thought on audio books?
     -I have never listened to an audio book.
5. Do you re-read books?
     -I used to. I would re-read all my favorite books, but I don't have time now.
6. What's the best school-assigned book you've read?
     -It's been a long time, but I liked The Great Gatsby.
7. Are you the type to usually root for the hero or the villain?
     -Oh, the hero. For sure. 
8. What's the one thing you wish everyone knew?
     -I wish everyone knew the joy of reading.
9. If you had the power to fix one thing you think is wrong with the world, what would it be? (And if you can, what would you do?)
     -Wow. That's deep. Well, I think I'd make sure that every child in the world had food to eat and clean water to drink, and a safe, warm place to stay. (Oh, and I'd definitely make sure they could read!)
10. If you could meet anyone, dead or alive, fiction or real, who would it be?
     -I'd love to meet George Washington or Abraham Lincoln.
11. What got you into blogging?
     -I got tired of reading books full of profanity and other stuff I didn't want to read, and I wanted a place to go that would rate the books like movies are rated. I couldn't find it, so I created it.

Okay, I nominate:

Here are your questions:
1. What was your favorite childhood book?
2.  Have you read a book that has changed your attitude towards something?
3.  Why did you start blogging about books?
4.  How many books have you read so far this year?
5.  Who is your favorite character (out of all the books you've read)?
6.  Why do you like or relate to that character? What is it about them that you like?
7.  If you don't like a book do you finish it or stop reading?
8.  Do you like to watch movies made from books? Why or why not?
9.  Where is your favorite place to read?
10. If you could meet any character from any book, who would it be and why?
11. If you could jump into any story and live it, what story would you choose and why?

Thanks again for the nomination A Silly Girl's Thoughts!!!!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


Believe (Movie)

(This movie summary is taken from an email the publicist sent me.) "In the early 80’s the legendary Manchester United football manager Sir Matt Busby helps a wayward boy fulfill his dream.

Having lived with football all his life and survived the tragic 1958 Munich plane disaster in which 8 of his promising young players were killed, Matt, still haunted by the ghosts of the “Busby Babes” comes out of retirement for one last coaching challenge, to transform a young group of scallywags into a dream team to compete for the upcoming Manchester United Football League Cup.

A funny and touching family film, Believe tells the story of how Matt is finally healed, while continuing to inspire generations of dreamers and leaving the world’s greatest football team as his legacy."

I know what you're thinking......a movie??? Yep! I do occasionally pull my head out of my books. This time it was because I was invited by Deseret Book to attend a media screening for this upcoming movie "Believe." Well, it's a soccer movie, and I feel like I live on the soccer fields with my kids these days, so I thought it might be fun. I grabbed my amazing sis (Yes, amazing. She got all the talent. Here's her site, you should check it out: to come with me, and guess what? It was the two of us and two other guys in the whole theater. was as if they played it just for us. 

There are a lot of inspirational sports films out there. My husband and I just went and saw this football one a couple of weeks ago. They're all very similar, right? You have the underdog and then you have the bullies. You have either an old famous coach or a brand new coach. You have some sports. You have some drama. And then you have success. Well, the only thing different about this movie is that it involves children's sports. I thought it was cute. I liked the coach's character, and thought he did a good job. He was into it, but it wasn't over done. He was believable. I also liked Georgie's character. He is a really cute kid, and I thought he did well in this movie. He was realistic and not too cheesy or unbelievable. He was likable even though he did some not very likable things. Coming from a mom's perspective, I thought the mother in this film did a good job. I think I would have reacted in the same way that she did. I liked that the education part of it was so important. I liked the relationship between coach and players. There was some humor and some drama, some cheese and some inspiration, and overall I liked it. It's predictable, and yet still enjoyable. I liked it, but I think my 12 year-old soccer player would love it. I am going to suggest to his coach that the team go see it together, because it has a good message of believing in yourself and dreaming big, then working hard to accomplish your goals. 

The film takes place in England, and there are some times where I thought the British accents were difficult to understand. Also, I thought that there were some things that could have been explained or developed more, but overall I enjoyed it. It's clean so it's kid-friendly, which is fabulous. It would make a great team building activity for all those soccer teams out there. 

Rating: PG

Recommendation: I'd say 6 and up. The six-year-olds might be a little bored, and may not understand everything, but I think they'd at least sit through it. 

Disclosure: I did receive a free ticket to go see this movie in exchange for my honest review.

Here are some links in case you want to know more about this movie:

Or you could watch the trailer:

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Animal Motions

Animal Motions by Melissa Pilgrim

(This summary is taken from an email the author sent to me.) ""Animal Motions" is a fun, easy to follow, low-impact movement routine told as a story in a colorful picture book for ages 3-6.  Follow Eric as he stretches and moves his body at the start of his day by using his imagination to become some of his favorite animals.  Travel with him to the jungle, the desert, the forest, the ocean—-and don’t forget to keep your body moving!  It’s inspired by the theatre games I used to play with my young actors in Chicago at my theatre there, and I’m hoping it helps all children everywhere stay “creatively fit!” 

The beautiful, full-page watercolor illustrations are done by the very talented Ira V. Gates."

This is a fun new children's book! I read it to my kids this morning. My six-year-old laughed and loved it, my eight-year-old said it was ok, and my eleven-year-old just shrugged. So there you go. It says ages 3-6 and that's spot on. Eric wakes up in the morning and stretches his body. He moves like many different animals, and each animal is a different position or stretch. My kids were eating breakfast when I read it to them, but if we had all been sitting together I would have made them follow along. I think this is a fun concept. It gives kids a more exciting way to stretch and move. Not only is it great for families, it would also be great for preschool, kindergarten, or first grade classrooms. (There are lesson plans to go along with the book on her website, which I will give below.) It would also be great for a younger dance or gymnastics class as well. The illustrations are so bright and colorful. They are captivating and really bring the story together.  

The website that coincides with this book is a great resource for parents and teachers. The website is: . There are lesson plans and a mini poster that you can print for kids to color. Also, there is an app that goes along with the book! It goes through all the animal motions and the kids can follow along. So fun! (It's FREE on for android today, Sept. 4th, so grab it while you can! It's also FREE on itunes today!!!)

Rating: G (Clean!)

Recommendation: It is recommended for ages 3-6. I think even toddlers could do it.

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Here is the link to the app on amazon:

Here is the link to the book:

Tuesday, September 2, 2014


Transformed by Debbie Kump

(Summary taken from "Thirteen-year-old Jessica Davis’ dull and average life ends abruptly when a vivid dream turns shockingly real, exposing dangerous family secrets. Flung into a world of shape-shifters, Jessica must begin training on a remote South Pacific Island. At first, homesickness seems her primary concern as she forges new friendships in this lush, tropical paradise. Yet her situation quickly deteriorates when she finds herself despised by a vengeful classmate and haunted with frightening visions of the guy she loves. While confronting these challenges, Jessica grows to realize her true potential, eventually discovering that not only has her physical appearance transformed…but also her soul."

I like the uniqueness of this book. Yes, a girl goes through a transformation, but it isn't a vampire hunter or a werewolf or anything of the sort. It's different, which is good. The part at the beginning when she transforms is quite funny. Jessica's voice is well done. Now, it is teenage talk, but the teenage talk is done well. She adds humor and is a fun character. She is fairly well rounded for being thirteen. Shredder, Dylan, and Allison were done well also. Even though they are young, they are dealing with some very adult issues. Speaking of, I usually do not like political issues in children/middle-grade books because children aren't old enough to form their own opinions of certain issues. They don't have all the information and can't/don't usually make an informed opinion, they just believe everything that is set before them. Anyway, in this particular book it was ok because it wasn't the focus of most of the book, and it doesn't come across as bullying the "other side," which I would have a problem with. And, I'll just step right off that soapbox and get back to my review. It's a clever story with some interesting twists and turns. I do think that some of the kissing and such that goes on doesn't really fit the age group. I know a lot of thirteen-year-old girls and boys, and they don't usually go around kissing. They're just barely getting past the cooties and starting to form little crushes. So, that seemed a bit off, but luckily it only happened a couple of times. I do think the drama and emotions were very close to the norm though. There were some hard issues dealt with in this book: bullying, low self esteem, being different, dealing with your past, and standing up for yourself.

There aren't any swear words in this book; however, she does use the Lord's name a few times. She says, "Oh my.......," which may not bother some people but it does bother me. Luckily, it's really only a few times. There is some violence in this book. The characters fight the "bad guys," and people do get hurt, and a main character dies. There isn't any "intimacy," but there is some kissing and lots of thinking and dreaming about crushes.

I liked this book, I think my boys (11 and 12) will like it. It does have a female main character, but there are enough boys and action that I think my boys will like it. Girls of this age group will also like it. There are some grammatical errors, some cheesy parts, and some parts that aren't written the best, but it was a cute story.

Rating: PG+ (Fighting violence, using the Lord's name, some kissing, the death of a main character, but no swearing or "intimacy.")

Recommendation: 5th grade and up

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Fault In Our Stars

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

(Summary taken from the inside of the book jacket) "Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at  Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten."

This book is written very well. It flows well, is easy to read and understand, and yet is also quite complex. The metaphors and literary terms abound in this book. There are also a lot of fabulous vocabulary words. I learned a few new words! The characters are developed well and come to life on the pages. Hazel (I love this name, it is my grandma's name. She hated it, but I love it.) felt like my best friend or close cousin. She is a typical teenager, and yet she's not. I love the attention to detail that Mr. Green used when writing her. She's feisty and tough, and sensitive and caring all at the same time. Augustus was also developed well. He's a complex guy. He definitely likes his metaphors and takes them to the extreme. At first you want to say, "Yeah, right.....that's totally fake." But then as you get to know Augustus better it just fits him. Isaac was a good character to be in there with them. I definitely felt bad for him. I'm not sure why I felt worse for him than I did for Hazel or Augustus, but it may be because of his attitude compared to theirs. I think Van Houten was kind of a weak link in this book. His character was mostly well done, but at the end I got annoyed with him and thought his actions seemed contrary to what he really was. I'm not sure I think his character would have done what he did at the end, and that bothered me. However, people grieve and suffer in their own ways, so I guess you never know what to expect. I began this book only knowing it was about a girl with cancer. (By the way, I don't know if I've ever read a book written by a male with such an accurate female main character. Kudos to Mr. Green for doing a great job with the female attributes, attitudes, emotions, and hormones.) I went into it 99% positive that she would die. Now, I'm not going to spoil it-she may or she may not die- but let's just say it wasn't exactly what I thought. It was about 2/3 through that I started thinking that maybe I was wrong. I was surprised and yet I wasn't. that confusing enough? You'll just need to read it and let me know what you thought. Don't think you have it completely figured out before you even start. It's much more complex than you think. I did cry, though. A lot. So there you go. You'll just need to read it.

There is quite a bit of language in this book. There is one "f" word, a bunch of others, and they take the Lord's name in vain. There is talk of being a virgin along with an "intimacy" scene. It's not detailed at all, but it is still there. It's also difficult to read in some places because of what happens to the characters. 

Rating: PG-13+ (Language, including the "f" word, along with innuendos and an "intimacy" scene)

Recommendation: At least 16 yrs and up. I think I'd feel more comfortable with my kids reading it at 18. I'm finding I'm quite conservative in my age-ratings, but that's just me.

Friday, August 22, 2014

As Sweet As Honey

As Sweet As Honey by Indira Ganesan

(Summary taken from inside the book jacket) "In her latest novel, Indira us an enchanting story of family life that is a dance of love and grief and rebirth set on a gorgeous island in the Indian Ocean. The island is filled with exotic flora and fauna and perfumed air. A large family compound is presided over by a benign, stalwart grandmother. There is a very tall South Asian heroine with the astonishing un-Indian name of Meterling, who has found love at last in the shape of a short, round, elegant English-man who wears white suits. There are also numerous aunts, uncles, and young cousins--among them, Mina, grown now, and telling this story of a marriage ceremony that ends with a widowed bride who, in the midst of her grief, discovers she is pregnant. While enjoying their own games and growing pains, Mina and her young cousins follow every nuance of gossip, trying to puzzle out what is going on with their favorite aunt, particularly when the groom's cousin arrives from England and begins to woo her. As Meterling--torn between Eastern and Western ideas of love and family, duty and loyalty--struggles to make a new life, we become as entranced with this family, its adventures and complications, as Mina is. And with her we celebrate a time and place where, although sometimes difficult, life was for the most part as sweet as honey."

I have a sister-in-law that is from India, so I was very interested in this story. Mina makes a point of the family not being Indian, but Islanders, and so I guess it's different, but some of the customs seem similar. The island they lived on seemed like a little piece of paradise. The descriptions of the island left me wanting to go there. The characters in this book are well developed and life-like. I liked Meterling, Simon, Mina, Sanjay, and Rasi. It was interesting to learn about an adult through a child's viewpoint. Things that may have been important to an adult were not important to the child, and the reverse would be true as well. Although it provided a different viewpoint, I didn't love it in this case. Having the niece narrate the story of her aunt just didn't really fit. I'm not sure why, exactly, but I think it may be because I never really felt connected to Meterling herself. There was a definite disconnect there. Also, Ms. Ganesan has a very different writing style that took me a long time to get used to. Whereas some reviewers loved it, I didn't. I found it difficult to read and understand. Ms. Ganesan also used a lot of Indian terms, which makes sense, but because I didn't know those terms it left me to guess their meanings, and consequently, I'm sure I lost a lot of meaning and content. There were also a lot of family members, and I tried, but I couldn't figure out who was who. By the end of the story I was a little more invested, but still never quite felt attached. 

There really isn't any language in this book, or violence. A character dies at the beginning of the story, but it's not too graphic or violent. There is talk of procreation and "intimacy" in this book, along with some kissing.

Rating: PG-13 (Some kissing, talk of procreation and "intimacy," but no scenes. No language)

Recommendation: 16 and up

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Objects of Her Affection

The Objects of Her Affection by Sonya Cobb

(Summary taken from an email the publicist sent me) "The Art Forger meets The Theory of Opposites in a riveting family drama that goes inside the art world’s black market. After the housing market collapse, Sophie and her husband, a museum curator, are in danger of losing it all—until Sophie realizes she’s found a dangerous way out of their crushing debt."

You know those books (and movies) where you can see the consequences of the choices the character is making before she can? And you know how you start screaming in your head, "Nooooo!!!! Stop!!! Don't do it!!!!" And it doesn't make any difference, the character obviously doesn't listen and it drives you crazy? Well, this book is full of those moments. Ahhhhhh!!! You just want to call Sophie on the phone and ask her what she is thinking and tell her to stop. Yeah. It's frustrating. Even though I did not like the choices Sophie made, I still really liked her character. I thought she was so cute and would be someone I would get along with. She just seems like a cute mom that lives in my neighborhood, and I'd probably be friends with her. I like her drive and her normal mom-ness. I love that she loves her kids but isn't perfect. I love that she struggles with being at home all the time and wonders where her formal self went (Maybe it's because I'm dealing with this right baby will start first grade this week.....). I just like Sophie; she's a fun character. I also like her husband Brian. He can be a little aloof at times, but that's normal for everyone sometimes, right? I thought he was well developed and real as well. I liked Carly most of the time. She made a few poor choices herself, but overall was a good supporting character. I could never get my finger on Harry. Sometimes I liked him and sometimes I did not. I don't think I ever trusted him as much as Sophie trusted him. The book was well written. I liked Ms. Cobb's writing style. I thought it was easy to read and understand, it flowed well, and the descriptions were well done. I loved the details in this book, and I loved how Ms. Cobb perfectly described motherhood. I also enjoyed learning a little bit about the world of art and museums. 

The only negative for me in this book is the language. Boo. Why? Why do authors feel the need for the language? I don't understand. It's distracting and irritating. I really enjoyed this book but cannot recommend it to my friends or family because of the language (Most of my friends and family dislike the language as well). There's not a whole lot of "normal" profanity, it's just that there are a lot of "f" words. A lot. Please authors, don't ruin a good story by splattering it with profanity. There are a few innuendos and an almost-"intimacy" scene. It doesn't quite happen, but almost. I did like this book, and if language doesn't bother you then I would recommend it.

Rating: R (There's no violence, but there are a few innuendos and an "intimacy" scene that almost happens. There are a lot of "f" words and a handful of other profane words.)

Recommendation: Adult

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Someone Else's Love Story

Someone Else's Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson

(Summary taken from the first page of the book) "At twenty-one, Shandi Pierce is juggling finishing college; raising her delightful three-year-old genius son, Nathan, aka Natty Bumppo; and keeping the peace between her eternally warring, long-divorced Christian mother and Jewish father. She's got enough complications without getting caught in the middle of a stickup in a gas station minimart and falling in love with a great wall of a man named William Ashe, who willingly steps between the armed robber and her son. Shandi doesn't know that her blond god, Thor, has his own complications. When he looked down the barrel of that gun he believed it was destiny: it's been one year to the day since a tragic act of physics shattered his universe. But William doesn't define destiny the way other people do. A brilliant geneticist who believes in science and numbers, destiny to him is about choice. Now, he and Shandi are about to meet their so-called destinies head-on, making choices that will reveal unexpected truths about love, life, and the world they think they know. Someone Else's Love Story is Joshilyn Jackson's funny, charming, and poignant novel about science and miracles, secrets and truths, faith and forgiveness; about a virgin birth, a sacrifice, and a resurrection; about falling in love, and learning that things aren't always what they seem--or what we hope they will be. It's  a novel about discovering what we want and ultimately finding what we need."

The characters in this book are well done. Each has a distinctive voice and personality. I had a bunch of guy friends in high school and college, so I could definitely picture the relationship between Shandi and Walcott. I loved the love that Shandi had for her son. I loved that she was trying to finish college and not let a teenage pregnancy rule the rest of her life. Walcott was one of my favorite characters. I thought he just seemed so nice, helpful, kind, considerate, patient, and gentlemanly. William was harder to read. I couldn't ever quite figure him out, but at the same time I thought he was genuinely sincere and had a good heart. I liked the impulsively nice things he did, like putting himself between the robber and Shandi's son Natty. Oh, Natty. I loved him. So cute and smart!!! Three is a hard age, but a fun one too. I had a hard time getting used to Ms. Jackson's writing style, and had to reread a few sentences to understand them, but by about half-way through I didn't notice it as much, and got sucked into the story. It's not the easiest writing style to read, but it got easier the more I read. I didn't like how she jumped from character to character. Sometimes it was in the character's mind and sometimes it was not in the other character's mind. I think it felt choppy and it took me a few sentences each time to figure out where we were. I ended up liking the story, ok. It came together well and there were some surprises at the end that completely got me! I liked how Shandi and William were able to move past some very difficult situations to find what they needed. Both of them showed personal growth; it was good to see. Although, I'm not quite sure her decision to maybe forgive at the end was realistic, especially without the whole truth. The lessons of accepting the past and moving forward, and figuring out what you really need are poignant. I wished it went on just a few more pages....I wanted a little bit more info at the end, but it was ok. I did enjoy the story in the end, but it did take me awhile to get into her writing style. I also figured out half the ending. I know, half, right? Well, the other half was one of the surprises.

It's a good thing the story was good because the language was awful. There is a lot of profanity in this book, especially the "f" word. There is also a lot of talk of, and discussions about, "intimacy." There is a rape that is discussed and a lot of "intimacy" scenes and discussion. It's not put delicately either. College frat initiations, high school boys that have reputations, that kind of thing, and it's quite detailed. You've probably read enough of my reviews to know that I'm not a huge fan of this. I did find parts of this book offensive, and the language was too much for me. But, I know I'm kind of by myself in this regard. The story was good, but it would have been so much better without the language and "intimacy." I know, some of it may have been necessary to set up histories and personalities, but for me it was too much. Putting all that aside, I did enjoy getting sucked into Shandi and William's worlds. I think I can learn their lessons and try each day to make my marriage stronger, not take for granted the loved ones in my life, and help make the world a better place.

**Update!!! I originally posted this review on 11/12/13, but I'm reposting it today because it comes out in paperback this week, and the publisher asked if I could help her get the word out!!!**

Rating: R (This does not follow the movie ratings exactly, it is just my way of saying it is not appropriate for younger readers.) Language, especially the "f" word, rape, intimacy scenes and discussions about, a robbery with a gun, and violence.

Recommendation: Adult. This book is not appropriate for younger readers.

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, August 4, 2014


Crossed by Ally Condie

(Summary taken from inside the book jacket) "Chasing down an uncertain future, Cassia makes her way to the Outer Provinces in pursuit of Ky--taken by the Society to his sure death--only to find that he has escaped into the majestic, but treacherous, canyons. On this wild frontier are glimmers of a different life and the enthralling promise of rebellion. But even as Cassia sacrifices everything to reunite with Ky, ingenious surprises from Xander may change the game once again."

One thing that is hard for me as a reviewer is that I have so many books that authors or publishers have asked me to read, that I usually do not have time to just read what I want to. That is the case with this book. I read the first book soooooo long ago that when I finally found time to pick up the second one (that has been sitting under my bed for at least two years....just waiting to be read), I really couldn't remember anything about it. I didn't have time to go back and reread the first one either, so I just started reading and hoped it would come back to me. I really liked the first book, so I was excited to get back into the series. Once I remembered the characters' names I was able to start getting back into the story. The writing style is simple and easy to read (I read it in a few hours), but not as exciting as I remembered the first one being. I liked the characters, but didn't feel as connected to them as I remember feeling about the first book. I didn't like the two person narration. The last book that I read like that (Divergent #3) was awful, so maybe it was just the anticipation of something bad, but in any case, I didn't really like it. There were times I couldn't tell who was speaking so I'd have to go back and look at the chapter heading to see if it was Cassia or Ky. The plot was kind of slow moving, but was fine, although I didn't feel that it really advanced the story much. It seems like they're in the same position as they were before, but in a different place. We met a few new characters and learned a few new things, but that's about it. I didn't really feel like either Cassia or Ky developed or grew much in the story. Yes, they had changed since the first book, but there wasn't a whole lot of growth in this story. I liked this book, but had hoped for more. If you've read the first one then you will want to read this one.

I did like that it was clean. There's not any profanity or "intimacy" scenes. There is a little bit of tension between Cassia and Ky, but it's clean. There is also some kissing. There is some violence with people and characters dying in the war, but those scenes aren't too graphic or over-the-top. I'd say it's YA approved, which is good. 

Rating: PG (Some kissing and some minor violence in the war, with a few characters dying)

Recommendation: 13 and up (YA approved!)