What is your reading goal this year?

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Dancing in the Storm

Dancing in the Storm by Shelly Maguire and Beth Huffman

(Summary taken from the back of the book) "What turns an angry adolescent and then a defiant teenager into an indomitable businesswoman who faced so many obstacles in life that she defied all odds for success? Told at the age of nine that she had a lethal disease that could take her life by the age of 18, for Shelly Maguire this was all she had to hear to push herself to the limits and stop at nothing to reach her goals."

What an inspiration! I will never complain about a hangnail or a cold again. Shelly has gone through so much in her life and always comes through with a positive attitude. This book is full of hard work ethic, positive attitude, and determination. It is also filled with love of life and very little complaining. These are many of the qualities I'm constantly trying to teach my kids, and it's tough. Shelly, however, has them down. She faces each challenge head-on and never gives up. She seems like a wonderful person and is a great example to all of us. I'm glad I had this opportunity to sneak a peek into such an inspirational life.

The format of this book was not my favorite because it seemed choppy. Once it got to where Shelly did most of the writing it flowed much better. I enjoyed this book a lot and recommend it, especially for someone who needs to stop feeling sorry for himself/herself.

Rating: PG+ (It is clean. There isn't any language or violence. I don't remember any "physical intimacy" scenes, but it does talk a lot about her relationships and a previously failed marriage.)

Recommendation: 16 years and up. I don't think children younger than this would "get it" or enjoy it.


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

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Shells of Chanticleer

The Shells of Chanticleer by Maura Patrick

(Summary taken from an email the author sent me)
"Come to Chanticleer, a magical land without chores or parents that abounds with festivals and forests, bountiful buffets, and the deliciously addictive warm caramel sugar that’s the only thing to drink. In Chanticleer there’s no reason to worry as eliminating your childhood fears is why you are there. But in Chanticleer it’s best to learn your lessons quickly and get out, as those who can’t, or won’t learn, are subject to a hideous fate.
For Macy Winters, keeping one step ahead of the powers that be seems easy enough. She has friends in the right places and a swooningly romantic secret boyfriend who she thinks will protect her. Unfortunately, she has caught the eye of Crispin Sinclair, the sinister artist whose creative visions make Chanticleer both delightful and terrifying. Can she escape his plans for her or will she discover that getting out of Chanticleer safely is harder than she imagines?
Enter a world of secrets where no one is quite who they seem to be, where what you dream comes true, and where what you fear … happens.

A mysterious world that, like life itself, is more complicated than it seems."

I wasn't sure what to expect with this book, and I have to say I was surprised. The concept of the book is very different from anything I have read before. It was a little mysterious with some adventure and romance. It is an easy read, which I liked, and I do think it is young adult appropriate. I liked the main character. She was not perfect, but ended up not being too wimpy. She learned from her mistakes and became stronger as the book went on. The character development was good, and I liked a lot of the characters. There are some things in this book that are just strange, and a little creepy. The shells, for example, are creepy. I didn't think that part of the book was resolved as well as it could have been. At first Macy thought they were creepy and wanted nothing to do with them, and then she was just okay with it? (Sorry, I don't want to give it away, so this explanation will be a little vague.) And the whole concept of who the staff members are is strange. And, the whole thing about Macy having an "old soul" was a little creepy to me. I didn't like that they allowed (and encouraged) her at such a young age to make such a monumental decision, especially if she wouldn't remember making the decision......

I did like this book. It was entertaining and different. It had some good lessons about overcoming fears and being your best self. It was a little strange and a little deep in some places. It was not as dark and sinister as the summary makes it out to be. It is clean and that is why I think it is appropriate for young adults.

Rating: PG (It is clean-there was one swear word I think, but that is all. There wasn't any "physical intimacy," besides a kiss, and no violence.)

Recommendation: 13 or 14 years old and up. I think parents might want to read it first to make sure the concept isn't too much for the younger or less mature readers.

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

Monday, July 9, 2012

Dancing on Broken Glass

Dancing on Broken Glass by Ka Hancock

(Summary taken from the back book cover) "Lucy Houston and Mickey Chandler probably shouldn't have fallen in love, let alone gotten married. They're both plagued with faulty genes--he has bipolar disorder; she, a ravaging family history of breast cancer. But when their paths cross on the night of Lucy's twenty-first birthday, sparks fly, and there's no denying their chemistry. Cautious every step of the way, they are determined to make their relationship work--and they put their commitment in writing. Mickey will take his medication. Lucy won't blame him for what is beyond his control. He promises honesty. She promises patience. Like any marriage, there are good days and bad days--and some very bad days. In dealing with their unique challenges, they make the heartbreaking decision not to have children. But when Lucy shows up for a routine physical just shy of their eleventh anniversary, she gets an impossible surprise that changes everything. Everything. Suddenly, all their rules are thrown out the window, and the two of them must redefine what love really is."

Grab your box of kleenexes ladies, you're going to need it! This book is amazing. And heart-wrenching. It's one of those books where I could see where it was going and thought about quitting before I got there, because I didn't know if I could handle it, but I just couldn't put it down. I was so involved in these people's lives that I had to see what happened. Ms. Hancock's character development is so good that I thought of myself as the Chandler's next door neighbor. I knew all the neighbors so well that I could have just moved on in and felt right at home. Nevermind that I have never been to Connecticut, I felt like I lived there.

As much as I cried, you'd think that I didn't like this book, but no, I can't say that. It is amazing. It is very well written and draws you in from the first sentence. I had a roommate in college that had bipolar disorder, and I could tell in seconds whether or not she had taken her medicine that day. That has been my only experience with bipolar disorder, but she had a lot of the same tendencies that Mickey has in the book. Thankfully she never crashed far enough to need hospitalization, but she had her up and down days. I could not imagine what Lucy went through being married to Mickey, but when you love someone you will do anything for them. I loved that message in the book. If Lucy and Mickey could make their marriage work through all those hard times, anyone can. Yes, it's hard, but you do it. You keep your commitment and love each other through the best and worst of times. I also loved the connection Lucy and her sisters had. I loved Charlotte and Harry and Jan. I highly recommend this book. Just grab your box of kleenexes and lock yourself in your bedroom where you can cry in peace.

There is some language in this book. There are also a few love making scenes, but they are tastefully done and very romantic. There are also some tragic deaths that are heartbreaking and difficult to read. However, there is also hope and inspiration, dedication and love.  I love how the title fits in.

Rating: R (This rating does not follow the movie ratings, it is just my way of saying it is not appropriate for younger readers.) Language, love making, death of a main character.

Recommendation: College and up. I really want to say married and up, because of the love making scenes, but they are tasefully done. For some, married may be better. This is definitely an adult book, though, and not appropriate for young adult readers.

Disclaimer: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. Thank you Ms. Hancock for allowing me to read and review this book, it was an honor.