The Things We Wish Were True by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen
"From the outside, Sycamore Glen, North Carolina, might look like the perfect all-American neighborhood. But behind the white picket fences lies a web of secrets that reach from house to house. Up and down the streets, neighbors quietly bear the weight of their own pasts--until an accident at the community pool upsets the delicate equilibrium. And when tragic circumstances compel a woman to return to Sycamore Glen after years of self-imposed banishment, the tangle of the neighbors' intertwined lives begins to unravel. During the course of a sweltering summer, long-buried secrets are revealed, and the neighbors learn that it's impossible to really know those closest to us. But is it impossible to love and forgive them?"
I was excited to read this book because Marybeth Whalen is one of the amazing SheReads.org ladies! Let me tell you, this book did not disappoint! You know when you're sitting at the neighborhood pool or park over the summer with your friends and you get all the neighborly gossip? Well, this book brings that juicy gossip to life. Overall, this book is well written. There are a lot of characters, and it took me a minute to figure out who they all were, but once you get them all straight it's not too bad. The time changes from present to past events, and it's usually fairly easy to figure out in what time period you're reading. Even though there are a lot of characters, they are very well developed. Each character has his or her own personality and place in the neighborhood, and Marybeth does a great job of bringing them to life on the page. You seriously feel like this is your neighborhood and you are sitting right there with all the characters at the pool. Cailey is a cute character. She is well written and usually easy to like. Zell is an interesting character. She seems like the mom of the neighborhood. She is older and her kids have moved out, but she isn't ready to stop taking care of little ones, so she likes taking care of everyone in the neighborhood. There is a little bit of mystery surrounding her, though, and it makes you wonder what happened. Bryte seems like a fun young mom. These are just a few of the characters that I liked in the story. The book may seem simple on the surface, but there are many facets and layers to the story, and as each one unravels, more of the truth is revealed. There are quite a few twists and turns in this book that keep you turning the pages. And no, I could not put it down! My children may have been a little bit ignored as I read this book; oops!
Rating: R (There's some profanity in this book, but not a whole lot. There is "intimacy." There are innuendos, talk about it, and it does happen, but the scenes are not detailed at all-pretty much you know it happens and that's all. There's no violence. I rated it higher because there are adult themes in the book that I don't think are appropriate for younger readers.)
Recommendation: Adult (May be ok for 18+)
Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Mysteries of Cove: Gears of Revolution by J. Scott Savage
"After finding a compass and clues left by Kallista's father, Leo Babbage, Trenton and Kalista head west aboard their homemade mechanical dragon to search for the missing inventor. The teenagers hope to find answers about their mountain city of Cove, but instead, they find only a blackened forest, ruined buildings, and a small underground city. Almost immediately, Trenton and Kallista are caught up in a civil war between a clan of scavengers called Whipjacks and the Order of the Beast, people who believe that dragons are immortal and divine. Stranded in a new city, the two friends meet Plucky, a Whipjack girl with mechanical legs, and Ander, a young member of the Order who claims humans are able to communicate with dragons. Can they trust anyone, or have they unknowingly stepped into a trap? And high above in the sky, the dragons are gathering..."
I enjoyed the first book in this series, Mysteries of Cove: Fires of Invention, so I was excited to read this second book. It did not disappoint! Trenton and Kallista may have been the same, there was that same feeling of searching for answers, and yes, the mechanical dragon is there too, but other than that, this book is very different from the first one. I liked that we really got to know Trenton in this book. We get to see his strengths, weaknesses, successes, and failures, and we get to see him using his creative/mechanical abilities. There are a few new characters in this book that we get to know quite well. Plucky, Ander, and Cochrane are a few of the new characters. These new characters definitely have different names! There is a lot of tension in this book because Trenton and Kallista are constantly wondering who they can trust, and they're somewhat at odds with each other as well. There are some surprises in this book that totally threw me off, and then there were parts that were a bit predictable. I loved it when Trenton and Kallista were able to fly the mechanical dragon together. What a neat thing for them to be able to experience. Too bad there's not a "Build a Mechanical Dragon That Flies" kit I could purchase my boys for Christmas! Overall, this book is well written. There were a few parts that I saw as a little superficial, and a couple of places that I didn't think fit well, but other than that this book is well done. The characters are done well and the story is exciting and full of action. I didn't love the place where they found themselves, I thought it was a bit off, but having been through some tough times I'll give it some leeway. I did enjoy the book and would recommend it, especially if you enjoyed the first book.
This book is clean, thank goodness! There isn't any profanity and there isn't any "intimacy" at all. There is some violence though. The people are attacked by dragons and at least one character dies.
Rating: PG (There isn't any profanity or "intimacy." There is a little more violence in this book, but it is not too bad. The dragons attack and at least one character dies.
"Unlike the other Fablehaven books, this one is only half-finished....The missing ingredient is you! Begin by writing your name in the space provided on the front cover. Then get ready to write, draw, solve, and create, guided by the many activities inside!...The secret world of enchanted preserves is waiting for you to jump in--just make sure to avoid any deep pools filled with naiads!"
WARNING!! This book may cause fighting, tugs of war, and hair pulling between siblings (don't ask me how I know this...) I took this book out of the envelope and I immediately had all four of my children surrounding me, pulling at the book, yelling in my ears that they should get it first, and trying to open the pages to see what was there. Yeah, you'll definitely need one per child if you want to avoid similar situations in your house! This is such a fun idea! In the electronic age it's so great to give children another option, and a fun one at that! They already love the Fablehaven characters and creatures, so to be able to use those as a basis for some creativity is genius!! The kids (or you...) get to draw their own magical preserve, create a codename, draw a dragon's head, make a potion, bake a dessert, make a rain stick, write secret messages in wax, make ogre stew, make a magical web, and make a unicorn horn, just to name a few! So fun, right? And I LOVE the quotes throughout this book! One of my favorites is:
I also loved the quotes from the characters in the books! One of my favorites is Seth's quote:
Right? If dragons were cute little fluffy things we'd be totally disappointed. This book is so much fun! I had to safeguard it until I wrote my review, but now I'm sure the book will be fought over and thoroughly enjoyed by all my children, including the 15 and 13-year-old boys (Shhh!!! Don't tell them I said that...) It's lots of fun and Fablehaven lovers will definitely enjoy it!!
Rating: G (Clean!!)
Recommendation: Everyone, especially Fablehaven fans!!
Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
"The small town of Savage Wells is barely big enough for the people who call it home; it certainly isn't big enough for more than one sheriff. Yet when famed lawman Cade O'Brien rides into town, he finds he's not the only man ready to take on the job. What's more, one of his competitors is a woman. Paisley Bell loves her town and the eccentric people in it. She's been the acting sheriff for months and isn't too keen on relinquishing the job to anyone else. Not only does she love the work, but she also needs the income to take care of her ailing father. It's a true battle of the sexes, and sparks fly between the two as Cade and Paisley banter and boast, neither one ready to acknowledge the attraction they have for each other. But when Paisley's former beau shows up, along with a band of bank robbers, Savage Wells is suddenly faced with the kind of peril that only a sheriff can manage. Who will be man enough-or woman enough-to step up, claim the badge, and save the town?"
This is a proper romance, and it definitely lives up to that name! It is predictable, sweet, fun, and a bit cheesy; all of which make for a great love story. You know from the get-go who the main players are and where it will all go, but that doesn't mean that the journey is any less enjoyable. The characters are fun and mostly well developed. The banter between the two main characters is sweet and definitely cheesy, but that's what we love in a romance, right? There are enough other facets to the story that there are a few surprises here and there, and they add a different depth to the book. My grandpa had dementia, so I know how difficult it can be to care for those suffering from it. Reading about Paisley's father brought back memories of my grandpa. I liked that Paisley was a strong female character. I liked that she wasn't perfect, she had her hard moments and her shortfalls, but overall she was determined, strong, and usually a likable character. I liked the eccentricities in the town, like the Ribbon Emporium in the jailhouse. Those things definitely made me want to visit there. Overall, this is a sweet love story that draws you in, and I love that it's clean! There are a few typos, but I do have the Advanced Readers Copy, so those may be fixed in the actual published edition.
Rating: PG-13 (There isn't any profanity-thank you!- or "intimacy" besides some kissing. There is some violence-it was the wild, wild west remember- with shoot-outs and a character dies.)
Recommendation: I'd say it would be ok for a YA (13+) reader or older. Girls will definitely like this more than boys will.