What is your reading goal this year?

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Zenn Scarlett

Zenn Scarlett by Christian Schoon

(Summary taken from the back cover) "Zenn Scarlett is a bright and occasionally a-little-too-smart-for-her-own-good 17 year-old girl training hard to become an exoveterinarian. She specializes in the treatment of exotic alien life forms, mostly large and generally dangerous. Her novice year of training at the Ciscan Cloister Exovet Clinic on Mars was going well--until there were a series of inexplicable animal escapes from the school that Zenn finds herself blamed for. As if this isn't enough to be dealing with, her father vanishes under strange circumstances, and Zenn is worried that she has started hearing the thoughts of the creatures around her...With the help of Liam, a towner boy, and Hamish, an alien bug also training at the clinic, Zenn must try to find her father, rescue the animals and unravel the mystery of who is behind the attacks on the school. And all without failing her first year."

I liked this book. I liked its uniqueness. I think it is great that sci-fi is making a comeback. I liked Zenn, Otha, Hamish, and all the interesting animals in the book. Those characters were developed well, and were likable. The animals were very interesting. I mean, dimension-jumping Indras, sandhogs, rikkasets, and whale-hounds....what could be better than that? I felt bad for Zenn because she lost her mom, and then her dad just disappeared. She did make a few rash decisions that made me a little crazy, but that's what teenagers do, right? I never figured Liam out. Good? Bad? Both? I'm still not sure about him. The story line in the book is creative with some crazy twists. What kid hasn't thought about what it would be like to live on Mars? And Mr. Schoon actually shows what it could be like. Even though some people make it there, I think I will keep my feet on Earth. I like my mountains, trees, water, and air too much to leave. But I guess you never know!

There is some language in this book. There isn't any intimacy, but there is some violence. You watch as a character dies quite violently, and it's gruesome. It's really sad too. Overall, I liked the book. The ending is a cliffhanger, so.........where's book two??? 

Rating: PG-13+ (Language, violence, death of a character)

Recommendation: 14 years-old and up.

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

Monday, July 15, 2013

Swept Up By The Sea

Swept Up By The Sea by Tracy and Laura Hickman

(Summary taken from the back book cover.) "Determined to seek his fortune, Percival Taylor leaves behind his sleepy hometown and sets out to become a legendary pirate. It's the only way to win the heart of the beautiful Tuppence Magrathia-Paddock, who has mistaken him for a rogue out of one of her romantic tales. Percival eventually finds himself captain of a broken-down ship, complete with a crew of reluctant pirates, a jilted fiancee, and an old professor with a secret that could kill them all. Set sail for treasure and romance!"

The quote I read on this book said, "A delightful read....It's Pirates of Penzance meets Princess Bride." by Heidi Taylor of Shadow Mountain Publishing. I love both of those so I was very excited to read it. Unfortunately, this book did not live up to those standards. I had to restart it 4 or 5 times because I couldn't get into it, and there are so many characters that I couldn't remember who anyone was. I didn't love the writing style. I thought it was difficult to read, and like I said, I kept having to go back and reread pages to figure out what was going on. I didn't feel a connection to any of the characters, and didn't think the character development was very good. Unfortunately, I just didn't like this book. I had to force myself to finish it for my review today. Had I not had this review scheduled, I would not have finished this book. Sacrilege, I know. And it doesn't happen very often, but I just wasn't interested in this book at all. With about 100 pages left it finally got kind of exciting, but by then I was disinterested and really didn't care. It did wrap up all the loose ends nicely, and everything did come together in the end, but getting there was difficult.

It was clean, though. No profanity, intimacy, or violence.

Rating: PG+

Recommendation: 13 years-old and up. I don't really think a 13 year-old would be interested, but it's clean enough for her to read.

Monday, July 1, 2013

The Firebird

The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley

(Summary taken from the back cover) "Nicola Marter was born with a gift so rare and dangerous, she keeps it buried deep. When she encounters a desperate woman trying to sell a small wooden carving called "The Firebird," claiming it belonged to Russia's Empress Catherine, it's a problem. There's no proof. But Nicola's held the object. She knows the woman is telling the truth."

Let me just say: 526 pages definitely wasn't long enough! I loved this story! I was caught up in Nicola's world (and Anna's world...), and I did not want it to end. The two stories came together seamlessly, and I was honestly conflicted on which part I enjoyed more. In the end I couldn't decide, I enjoyed them both. Ms. Kearsley's character development is wonderful. Nicola, Rob, Anna, Captain Jamieson, Colonel Graeme, Vice Admiral Gordon, and Edmund, especially, intrigued and fascinated me. Rob seems like such sweetheart/hottie. I loved that he embraced his ability and wasn't afraid of what the world would think. Nicola grew so much in this book. It was interesting that it took learning about a woman in history to find herself. I had such admiration for Vice Admiral Gordon, helping Anna and taking her in as his own daughter.  I felt a connection with each of these characters, and felt as if I were right there. The descriptions in this book just pulled me in. Ms. Kearsley's writing style is fun, easy to read, and simple, yet at times very profound. While I was reading the book I didn't realize that it was based on actual people and events, and so it was fun at the end to learn that a lot of the characters were real people. There were some great lessons weaved throughout the book as well. One of the biggest lessons was to be yourself. Love yourself and be proud of who you are and what your talents are. And to use your talents for the benefit of others. I think Rob and Nicola were so involved in helping that they forgot they were helping, if that makes sense.

The only negative I would give this book is also one of it's positives. There are a lot of characters, and many of them have Russian names. At times I couldn't remember who some of them were, especially if it had been 100 pages since they were last mentioned. It would take me a minute and then I'd figure it out. There are only a few profane words, maybe 2 or 3, in the whole book, which I loved. The whole book I was so happy that it was clean. Then, at the very end there was a love-making scene. It's not extremely detailed and it's not very long.

I highly recommend this book! I really enjoyed it and will hopefully be able to read some of Ms. Kearsley's other work.

Rating: PG-13+ (Minor profanity, a love-making scene)

Recommendation: 18 and up (Yes, I know......but I'm not too fond of young adults reading about "physical intimacy"---even if it's a short scene.)

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