Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Queen's Daughter by Susan Coventry

Joan's mother, Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine, is the most beautiful woman in the world. Her father is Henry II, the king of England and a renowned military leader. Joan loves them both - so what is she to do when she's forced to choose between them. As her parents' arguments grow ever more vicious, Joan begins to feel like a political pawn.

When her parents marry her off to the king of Sicily, Joan finds herself stuck with a man ten years her senior. She doesn't love her husband, and she can't quite forget her childhood crush, the handsome Lord Raymond.

As Joan grows up, she begins to understand that her parents' worldview is warped by their political ambitions, and that hers, in turn, has been warped by theirs. Is it too late to figure out whom to trust? And, more important, whom to love?
This is going to be an extremely short review because I did not The Queen's Daughter at all. I don't really have much to say except that it was sooooo boring. It read like a bland history textbook and I like history. So I'm guessing this is a problem. The one fault with The Queen's Daughter is that the first 150 pages takes place with Joan as a seven year old. And what was totally annoying is that she talked and acted like an adult. It was so bizarre. I don't care how mature you are, at age 7 you do not have complex thought processes. There was supposed to be all this royal intrigue and mystery but it was just ... boring! Oh my goodness, I hate using that word but I was not interested at all at what was happening. From the summary, you can see that the character of Lord Raymond sounds kind of important. I pretty much assumed that they would get together so I literally skipped all the book until I saw scenes with them. The parts with them were cute so that was fine. But the rest of the book was a fail. It's kind of hard for me to even comment on it because I didn't even really read it but what I trudged through was not enjoyable. I feel kind of bad that I just trashed The Queen's Daughter but I can't recommend it to anyone after falling asleep while reading it.

3 out of 10.

FTC: I received this book from the Henry Holt InGroup.

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Stolen One by Suzanne Crowley

Kat's true identity is a secret, even from her. All she has ever known are Grace and Anna and their small village. Kat wants more—more than hours spent embroidering finery for wealthy ladies and more than Christian, the gentle young farmer courting her.

But there are wolves outside, Grace warns. Waiting, with their eyes glowing in the dark . . . and Grace has given Kat safety and a home when no one else would.

Then a stranger appears in their cottage, bringing the mystery of Kat's birth with her. In one night, Kat's destiny finds her: She will leave. She will journey to London, and her skill with the needle will attract the notice of the magnificent Queen Elizabeth—and of the wolves of the court. She will discover what Grace would never tell her.

Everything will unravel. (Taken from GoodReads)

It feels like I've been reading The Stolen One for forever, but it's only because I've been reading other books in between. I've been wanting to read this book since it was released last summer, but I haven't been able to borrow it from my friend. I heard about this book from Seventeen Magazine (pretty odd, I know) and the ten-word description made it sound really good. I enjoyed The Stolen One but it was as good as I expected it to be. Seventeen included it in it's Sultry Summer Reads but this book wasn't that sultry. I was hoping for a lot of romance and clandestine meetings, but it was more of Kat trying to discover her identity. However, I did love the mystery and learning about Kat's history and what made it even better is that she is part of Queen Elizabeth's court. If you don't know this by now Me + The Tudors = love x1000. So how can I not read any book set during this period? Besides the romance being kind of blah, The Stolen One is a pretty good historical fiction novel. But if you're looking for a great romance, I would skip this one.

7.5 out of 10.

FTC: I borrowed this from my friend.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Crash Test Love by Ted Michael

The last thing Henry Arlington wants is a girlfriend. He's just very, very good with girls - reading their body language, knowing what they want to hear, and more importantly: getting them into the backseat of his car. But all that changes when he meets Garrett Lennox at one of the many Sweet Sixteen parties he crashes.

Garrett thinks she's done with guys. She was dumped by her ex when she moved from Chicago to Long Island, and now she realizes that she needs to find out who she is by herself, instead of witha boyfriend. What she really needs is some good friends.

Fortunately for Garrett, the J Squad - the "it" girls of East Shore High School - want her in their clique. All she has to do is pass one little test: get East Shore god Henry Arlington to take her to one the biggest Sweet Sixteens of the year, then dump him in front of everyone.

Garrett has promised herself not to fall for another guy, so playing with Henry's heart shouldn't be hard. Right?

And Henry doesn't fall for girls, so when he and Garrett start to click, it doesn't matter. Does it?

As William Shakespeare once said, "Love is blind," or in this case, the lovers may be, as Henry and Garrett fall in love - and into the trap that awaits them. Because neither of them can see what the girls of Henry Arlington's past have in store. (Taken from back cover)

I really enjoyed Crash Test Love. For some reason I'm always wary about romances written by men, but I loved The Diamonds by Ted Michael so I was expecting Crash Test Love to be good. And it was. I liked how it was written in alternating point-of-views so we could get each side of the story. It was nice to see the characters grow and develop as the story moved along, and with each of their point-of-views included, the reader could easily see the progress. In the beginning Garrett is really emotional and needs to have a boyfriend and Henry is the opposite. He hooks up with a lot of girls and is unable to get close to them. But by the end, they are practically different people, in a good way though. Another strong point for Crash Test Love was that it was extremely funny. Once while reading this I was drinking Gatorade and started laughing and actually choked on it. So be careful because you will laugh and you don't want anything in your mouth. As for the ending, the message was really good and I thought it was refreshing that it was not a traditional love story. I hope that doesn't give anything away, but you probably won't be expecting the ending that you read. But it's worth it. I promise.

8 out of 10.

FTC: I received this book through Random Buzzers.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Happy Birthday Simply Books!

I feel really bad because I just remembered that it was Simply Books's two year blogoversary! I am such a bad blogger haha. But I can't believe that it's been two whole years since I started blogging. It went by so fast! I've read and reviewed so many books and had such a good time doing it. Thanks to everyone who has commented or emailed or even just written interesting blog posts/reviews on their own blogs. Thanks for entertaining me!

Game Change by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin

In 2008, the presidential election became blockbuster entertainment. Everyone was watching as the race for the White House unfolded like something from the realm of fiction. The meteoric rise and historic triumph of Barack Obama. The shocking fall of the House of Clinton—and the improbable resurrection of Hillary as Obama's partner and America's face to the world. The mercurial performance of John McCain and the mesmerizing emergence of Sarah Palin.

Based on hundreds of interviews with the people who lived the story, Game Change is a reportorial tour de force that reads like a fast-paced novel. Character driven and dialogue rich, replete with extravagantly detailed scenes, this is the occasionally shocking, often hilarious, ultimately definitive account of the campaign of a lifetime. (Taken fron BarnesandNoble.com)

Game Change probably sounds extremely boring to some people. It's non-fiction, which ends up being a turn-off to some people and then it's about politics, which ends up being a turn-off to a lot of people. But not for me. Well, at least regarding the politics part because I love politics. Political science is a major for college that is floating around in the back of my head. So if you like politics you will love Game Change. It was the best non-fiction book I've ever read (which isn't saying much, unfortunately, because I usually go for fiction). Anyway, it was about the 2008 presidential election which was such a soap opera it might as well have been fiction. The book focuses a lot of content on the Democratic primary and mostly about the race between Obama and Hillary Clinton. But it was all extremely interesting. There are so many insider tidbits and information that I felt like I was delving into the intimacies of each campaign. What goes on behind closed doors is crazy. The book was extremely enlightening about the candidates, the campaign, and just presidential campaigns in general. I learned a lot from Game Change. Another plus to Game Change is that it's recent history and history I actually remember. Come on, we all know a book about the 1884 election would probably end up being a little boring, but the fact that we saw all these people on TV, saw their ads, their speeches, maybe even voted in the election, made it much more interesting. I recommend Game Change to anyone interested in politics or anyone who wants to learn more about presidential elections.

9 out of 10.

FTC: I borrowed this book from my dad.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Evolution, Me, and Other Freaks of Nature by Robin Brande

Your best friend hates you. The guy you liked hates you. Your entire group of friends hates you. All because you did the right thing.

Welcome to life for Mena Reece, whose year is starting off in the worst way possible. She's been kicked out of her church group and no one will talk to her - not even her own parents. No one except for Casey, her supersmart lab partner in science class, who's pretty funny for the most brilliant guy on earth.

And when Ms. Shepherd begins the unit on evolution, school becomes more dramatic than Mena could ever imagine as she is caught up in a controversy involving science, religion, freedom - and a heart-racing, blush-inducing, can't-stop-thinking-about-him crush.

Now Mena's own life is about to evolve in some amazing and unexpected ways.... (Taken from back cover)

I loved this book! It based on such an interesting topic and it was fascinating to watch this tale unravel. The debate on evolution vs. intelligent design and what should be taught in school is always a heated one but I think it was handled very gracefully. Obviously I agree with the book's opinion, so if you have a differing opinion you might not like this book. But I think Evolution, Me and Other Freaks of Nature is an important book for anyone to read because it somewhat reconciles science and religon. The protagonist, Mena, is very rooted in her faith, but she still believes in evolution. My favorite line from the book is "I believe in evolution, and I believe in God. I just haven't worked out the details yet." As you can see, Evolution, Me and Other Freaks of Nature gets kind of deep for a young adult novel (which is a very good thing). But there are also a lot of light-hearted parts. Mena's crush, Casey, is extremely funny and is able to make this novel humorous as well as serious. I think Evolution, Me and Other Freaks of Nature is just a great novel all around and anyone can enjoy it.

9 out of 10.

FTC: I received this book through Random House's Random Buzzers.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Nomansland by Lesley Hauge

Sometime in the future, after wars and fires have devastated the earth, a lonely, windswept island in the north is populated solely by women. The women have survived against all odds by working hard in their fields. Their lives are tough.

Among these women is a group of teenage Trackers - expert equestrians and archers - who are in training to protect their shores from the enemy. The enemy, they've been told, is men.

When these girls come upon a partially bured home from the distant past, they are fascinated by the strange objects - high-heeled shoes, teen magazines, makeup - found there. What are they to make of these mysterious things, which introduce a world they have never known? And what does it mean for their strict society where friendship is forbidden and rules must be obeyed - at all costs. (Taken from inside flap)

I was really excited to read Nomansland. It was dystopian and it seemed kind of like a feminist novel. I mean, it's set in world where there's only women and men are the enemy. Nomansland had a very interesting premise to say the least. Unfortunately, the book didn't live up to my expectations as much as I hoped it would. Even though it's written in first person, everything felt distant. It might be because the society in the novel discourages frienship, emotions, feelings, etc. So everything was pretty much emotionless coming from our narrator, Keller. I also didn't like the pacing of the story; it was too slow most the time, but it did speed up at the end. It also probably didn't help that I read Nomansland in two chunks, so it made the read a little choppy for me. However, I did love that the girls found a buried house from the past filled with stuff that is probably in my bedroom right now. It was so interesting watching their reactions to lipstick, high-heels, and magazines. It gives the reader a different perspective and an outsider view of what we consider normal. It's extremely enlightening. Besides a few grievances with Nomansland, it was a pretty good novel and an interesting take on the dystopian genre. I would recommend it to fans of science fiction or anyone who is interested in feminism.

7 out of 10.

FTC: I received this book through the Henry Holt InGroup review program.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Guest Post: Sean McCartney on His New Book

I am very excited to have author Sean McCartney on Simply Books to do a guest blog. His newest book, The Treasure Hunters Club: Secrets of the Magical Medallions, is going to be released tomorrow, July 6, 2010.

First off I would like to thank Megan for allowing me to talk with all of you. This is my first blog so it is quite exciting for me.

My name is Sean McCartney and I’m currently on a blog tour to promote my new young adult action adventure novel entitled THE TREASURE HUNTERS CLUB: SECRETS OF THE MAGICAL MEDALLIONS. It’s being released on July 6th, 2010 from Mountainland Publishing.

The story is about Tommy Reed and his treasure hunting friends Shannon McDougal, Jackson Miller and Chris Henderson. One day Tommy receives a rather ordinary looking medallion from his very famous treasure-hunting uncle “Diamond” Jack Reed and finds himself the object of an evil treasure collector named Manuel de la Ernesto. Now Tommy and his friends must find the secret behind the medallion before Manuel can get to them and the medallion.

When I set out to write The Treasure Hunters Club: Secrets of the Magical Medallions I wanted to pull together all the things from books and movies that I liked. The mystery of the Hardy Boys and Encyclopedia Brown, the adventure of Percy Jackson, a little magic from Harry Potter and the action and history of the movies Indiana Jones and national treasure.

Though this is the first book in the Treasure Hunters Club series, with your help to make it a success, the next books will follow. I have planned six treasure hunting books as they follow the club through the 8th grade and into high school. Of course, as they get older their treasure hunts get more dangerous and more exciting.

I have been asked why I created a series around treasure hunting. The truth is I believe treasure hunting is something everyone can do. You don’t need super powers just a desire to do research and find where to look. Also treasure hunting touches on the sidebars of history, the stuff not in the textbooks. That is usually the most interesting and provides a solid building block for the series.

My goal has always been to be published and have a series that kids can enjoy and have a lot of fun reading. I was lucky to find a publisher who believes in the series as much as I do. What I was surprised to find out was how much the publishing world has changed since I started this journey toward “being published.” The emergence of ebooks has shaken the publishing world like never before and I believe we have only scratched the surface of what this new technology can do to help promote reading.

In the meantime, I hope you take a moment to check out my website www.treasurehuntersclubbook.com and learn more about the series and read some short stories about the characters.

Thank you again for this opportunity and allowing me to be here and I hope you enjoy the book and the series.


Click here to view the book trailer. Thanks again, Sean!