What is JacketFlap

  • JacketFlap connects you to the work of more than 200,000 authors, illustrators, publishers and other creators of books for Children and Young Adults. The site is updated daily with information about every book, author, illustrator, and publisher in the children's / young adult book industry. Members include published authors and illustrators, librarians, agents, editors, publicists, booksellers, publishers and fans.
    Join now (it's free).

Sort Blog Posts

Sort Posts by:

  • in
    from   

Suggest a Blog

Enter a Blog's Feed URL below and click Submit:

Most Commented Posts

In the past 7 days

Recent Posts

(tagged with 'review')

Recent Comments

JacketFlap Sponsors

Spread the word about books.
Put this Widget on your blog!
  • Powered by JacketFlap.com

Are you a book Publisher?
Learn about Widgets now!

Advertise on JacketFlap

MyJacketFlap Blogs

  • Login or Register for free to create your own customized page of blog posts from your favorite blogs. You can also add blogs by clicking the "Add to MyJacketFlap" links next to the blog name in each post.

Blog Posts by Date

Click days in this calendar to see posts by day or month
<<August 2014>>
SuMoTuWeThFrSa
     0102
03040506070809
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930
31      
new posts in all blogs
Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: review, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 1,357
1. Novella Review: Nightingale by Cathy Maxwell

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I am of two minds about Nightingale.  I enjoyed this novella, but I would have enjoyed it better if I liked the heroine a little more. While I was finally able to cut her some slack, most of her misery is of her own making, and while past events are always viewed with 20/20 vision, it’s that murky, uncertain future that needs a lot of trust and faith that things will work out for the best.  They didn’t for Jemma, and instead of a spoiled, willful girl, she’s now a desperate, improvised woman.  Manipulated by her parents since birth, and now willing to trade her soul to save her brother from his own folly, she is forced to turn to the man she rejected years ago with a plea to allow her brother to live.

Now, while I had some issues with Jemma, I loved Dane.  He is dark and broody, still smarting after losing the love of his life.  While he can look back on their childish promises with clearer head, he still aches for what he can’t have.  After Jemma married another man without a word to him when he was away at school, Dane was a shattered soul.  To finally seek some peace for himself, he sets off to make his fortune and to try to forget about the woman who rejected him for a title and all the wealth that accompanied it.  Dane does find his fortune, as well as adventure aplenty, but a part of himself that still belongs to Jemma continues to long for what might have been.

Imagine his twisted emotions when Jemma’s brother challenges him to a duel.  With his pride at stake, Dane accepts the challenge.  If he’s honest with himself, he would even admit that he pushed and prodded so that the insult was given and the duel would be proposed.  What better way to get back at the woman who broke his heart, but to break her heart in return?

I wish the story had been longer, because there is so much angst and so many feelings for both Jemma and Dane to work through.   Jemma realizes that she made a mistake, and after suffering through a loveless, passionless marriage, she wonders how differently things would have turned out if she hadn’t agreed to marry a older, wealthier man.  She soon found herself with nothing, as her husband was not a competent manager of his fortune, and after his death, his family gave her the cold shoulder.  So it’s with a great deal of trepidation that she approaches Dane with a bargain to save her brother from certain death on the point of Dana’s blade.  Now the tables have turned; Dane is one of the wealthiest men in London, he’s been knighted, and he’s has the respectably he lacked when he was younger. With this one duel, he thinks he will retain his pride and finally put Jemma out of his heart.

If you’re looking for a quick read between Labor Day weekend festivities, Nightingale will keep you entertained for an hour or so.  I just wish it had been a little longing, because I felt that the ending wrapped up to quickly, and left me a little nervous about a forever HEA for Dane and Jemma.

Grade:  B / B-

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

Fate has brought them together—again.

At one time, Jemma meant the world to Dane Pendleton, but then she betrayed their young love.

Now Time has turned the tables. Dane is wealthy, respected, and knighted, while Jemma has nothing but her pride.

His honor for hers …

Dane’s name is on the lips of every beauty in London. They whisper that he learned “tricks” while he was in the Orient. But has he forgotten Jemma and what they once meant to each other?

And will he accept her devil’s bargain?

In every woman’s life, there is that one flame who slipped away. The man who makes her wonder “what if?”

But is this a momentary madness or a chance to rekindle a love that could last a lifetime?

The post Novella Review: Nightingale by Cathy Maxwell appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

Add a Comment
2. Graphic Novel Review: Skip*Beat! Volume 24 by Yoshiki Nakamura

 

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

Valentine’s Day seems like a complicated occasion in Japan.  It’s no wonder it gave Kyoko so much trouble in the 24th volume of Skip*Beat! Her interactions between the men in life are confusing to say the least.  There’s Sho, who tromped on her heart but now reluctantly harbors feelings for her, and Reino, the lead singer of a rival band of Sho’s, who stalked her and now that he’s captured one of Kyoko’s grudges, is demanding chocolates made with “her true feelings” from him before he’ll return what he’s stolen from her.  And then there’s Ren.  Ren.  Ren!  The guy who has gone out of his way to help her navigate the cut-throat world of show biz, but does she give even the slightest regard for his feelings?  No.  No.  No!  Sigh.  Kyoko, you need to worry more about the people who care about you because of who you are, and less about those who only want to manipulate you.

I loved this volume of Yoshiki Nakamura’s comedy romance.  It’s funny.  Kyoko makes a muddle of Valentine’s Day, and Sho is driven to misery when he thinks that Kyoko likes Reino.  I wasn’t so happy when Ren thought Kyoko liked someone else after dropping the chocolates she made with every bit of hate she possessed for the Beagle, or when she skipped around the movie set giving everyone obligation chocolates – everyone but him.  At least she gave him a birthday present, belated though it was, so I think Ren should cut her some slack.  Anyone who knows Kyoko well knows that she’s kind of a spaz.  What they don’t all know is that after Sho left her heart full of holes, she swore off love and guys, so because she’s not looking for a relationship, she doesn’t see the possibility for one when it’s standing right in front of her.  She is blinded by her need to have her revenge, and to silence all of her little grudge Kyoko’s. 

I love how this storyline sets up all kinds of opportunities for misunderstandings between, not just Ren and Kyoko, but between Kyoko and Sho, and even Kyoko and Reino.  I think that Kyoko’s personal, as well as professional life, is going to get very, very complicated,  and I can hardly wait to see what happens next!

Grade:  B+

Review copy purchased from Amazon

From Amazon:

Valentine’s Day is on its way, but Kyoko won’t be able to celebrate love and friendship the normal way. She’s getting blackmailed into giving chocolate to guys she hates, she has her ongoing revenge to oblige, and to top it all off, it’s Ren’s birthday! How can Kyoko give him a meaningful present when she’s slinging meaningless chocolate left and right?

The post Graphic Novel Review: Skip*Beat! Volume 24 by Yoshiki Nakamura appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

Add a Comment
3. Review: Islands of Rage & Hope by John Ringo

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

Once again, I succumb to the zombies’ siren call.  I was looking forward to spending more time with Faith and Sophia as they struggle to survive the zombie apocalypse, but I was disappointed with the pacing of the first half of Islands of Rage & Hope.  There weren’t enough zombies to keep me entertained, and the military aspects of the story bog things down for me.  I like the zombie battles, and even though they get repetitive, the zombie clearance missions.  There’s nothing quite like imagining a bad-ass 13 year old girl leading a squad of Marines into the thick of a zombie battle and showing her troops how to get the job done.  Faith’s efficient dispatch of the infected is something I look forward to with each new installment of the Black Tide Rising series.

The Wolf Squadron, in need of medical facilities to produce vaccine against the virus that has wiped out most of the population, leaving those that don’t die outright mindless, savage beasts with an endless hunger for flesh, have taken back Gitmo from the hordes of zombies that have taken up residence on the base.  In order to free the submarine crews from their vessels, the Wolf Squadron needs the vaccine.  They need the expertise of the personnel trapped on the subs.  One of the sad results of losing so many to the plague is a void of skilled scientists and engineers to help rebuild civilization.  The key to taking back the world from the infected lies with the submarine crews, and Steve Smith, leader of the Wolf Squadron, will do whatever it takes to get them vaccinated against the flu and back in active service with his troops.  He’ll even put his daughters, Faith and Sophia, at risk obtaining the materials necessary to manufacture the vaccine.

After securing Gitmo, the story stalled for me.  Faith has to learn how to get along with her new Gitmo Marine troops, and things just aren’t going well for her.  People she trusted have been promoted to other units to help prepare for missions against the zombies, and she’s struggling with her new duties and her new Staff Sergeant.  Military protocols are as much a mystery to me as they were to Faith, and the lack of action made me put the book now down for a while.  I just wasn’t in the mood for the personnel struggles;  I wanted more zombie killing action and less procedural training for Faith.  Who really cares whether she can write up a report when the world is overrun with zombies?

I picked up the book again and gave it another go while torturing myself on the treadmill.  Once Faith was given the mission to clear some islands, the plot picked up and I couldn’t put my Kindle down.  I even walked longer on the treadmill than I intended, because I didn’t want to stop reading, not even to relocate to a chair.  Back in her element, slaughtering plague victims, Faith proves her worth as a Marine.  Her skeptical new squad members see first hand that she’s a zombie killing machine, and her confidence is restored.  Report writing, meetings, and parade drills don’t mean much to Faith.  Killing zombies, though – now that makes all the sense in the world.

Islands of Rage & Hope ends on a high note, and I was sorry to hit the last page.  The Wolf Squadron now have most of the tools they need to begin restoring some sort of civilization to a world gone mad.  I am really looking forward to the next book, but I’m sad that it will be the last.  I don’t normally like reading series, but Black Tide Rising has been a fun ride, so I’ll be sad when it’s over.

Grade:  B

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

BOOK 3 IN THE BLACK TIDE RISING SERIES FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES BEST-SELLING AUTHOR. Sequel to To Sail a Darkling Sea and Under a Graveyard Sky.

With the world consumed by a devastating plague that drives humans violently insane, what was once a band of desperate survivors bobbing on a dark Atlantic ocean has now become Wolf Squadron, the only hope for the salvation of the human race. Banding together with what remains of the U.S. Navy, Wolf Squadron, and its leader Steve Smith, not only plans to survive—he plans to retake the mainland from the infected, starting with North America.

The next step: produce a vaccine. But for do that, Wolf Squadron forces led by Smith’s terrifyingly precocious daughters Sophia and Faith must venture into a sea of the infected to obtain and secure the needed materials. And if some of the rescued survivors turn out to be more than they seem, Smith just might be able to pull off his plan.

Once more, exhausted and redlining Wolf Squadron forces must throw themselves into battle, scouring the islands of the Atlantic for civilization’s last hope.

The post Review: Islands of Rage & Hope by John Ringo appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

Add a Comment
4. Review: Will the Real Abi Saunders Please Stand Up? by Sara Hantz

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I decided to read Will the Real Abi Saunders Please Stand Up? because Abi’s a kickboxer, and the movie set setting sounded interesting.  I really enjoyed the beginning of the book, but Abi’s lack of common sense derailed some of my enjoyment later on.  The ending was satisfying, but the middle stretch did test my resolve.  The story would have worked better for me if Abi had been 16 instead of 18, because she acted so immature.  Part of that is because of her speech impediment, which made her family and her friends want to take the lead and help her over life’s little hurdles.  It quickly got annoying when she continually craved their help and feedback, or when she blamed everyone but herself for the messes she found herself in.

With speech therapy, time, and practice, Abi has overcome her embarrassing stutter.  Bullied because of it when she was younger, her parents enrolled her in kickboxing lessons to help build her self esteem.  Discovering that she was good at it, Abi has become a champion kickboxer.  When her instructor suggests she audition as a stunt double for an indie movie that his friend is working on, she’s reluctant to step outside of her comfort zone.  Her friends Matt and Liv convince her to give it a shot, but Abi still has her reservations.  She’s never wanted to be in the limelight, and even though the job is to be star Tilly Watson’s stunt double, she’s scared she’ll have trouble interacting with a new group of people.

The audition is almost a complete disaster; her stutter returns with a vengeance, and she’s so nervous she can barely think.  When it’s time to show off her martial arts skills, however, she’s immediately calmed and is able to nail the job.  Once on the set, she starts to think that she’s made a horrible mistake.  Tilly is mean and taunts her about her speech impediment, and the director is a stern task master.  Just when she’s beginning to regret taking the position, Tilly’s boyfriend shows up on the set.  Mistaking Abi for Tilly, he greets her with a kiss – and Abi is smitten with the young actor.

As I stated earlier, I enjoyed the book at first.  Then after Abi starts her new job, I started to get annoyed with her.  She’s basically a doormat for Tilly, and starry eyed over Jon, she starts letting down her best friends.  She makes some very bad decisions, and then doesn’t take ownership of them.  She feels sorry for Jon because Tilly is cheating on him, and starting wondering what it would be like to be his girlfriend. He’s so kind to her, and he’s gorgeous, too.  I was disappointed in her, thinking that it was kind of low for her to even contemplate stealing someone else’s boyfriend, so when Jon’s attentions aren’t quite everything they seem, I thought Abi got a little bit of what she deserved.

At the start of the story, she is head over heels in love with Matt, but because she’s afraid of ruining their friendship, she keeps her feelings a secret.  Her flip-flop between the two guys made her seem shallow, and it looked like she was just using Matt.  As a distance grows between them, she’s confused and blames him for not accepting her new happiness with her job.  She finally feels like she belongs somewhere, but she can’t seem to meld her old life with her new one.  Soon, Liv isn’t speaking to her at all, and there’s a new awkwardness with Matt.

While Abi does finally understand that she is the cause for most of her grief, it takes a long time for her to get even the smallest hint that most of her problems are self-inflicted.  I liked the ending because she finally does grow up and stop taking her friends and family for granted, but it took a long time for that to happen.

Grade:  C+

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

Abi Saunders might be a kickboxing champion, but when it comes to being the center of attention, she’d rather take a roundhouse kick to the solar plexus any day. So when her trainer convinces her to audition to be the stunt double for hot teen starlet Tilly Watson, Abi is shocked—and a little freaked out—when she gets the job.

Being a stunt double is overwhelming, but once the wig and makeup are on, Abi feels like a different person. Tilly Watson, to be exact. And when Tilly’s gorgeous boyfriend, Jon, mistakes Abi for the real star, Abi’s completely smitten. In fact, she’s so in love with her new life, it isn’t long before she doesn’t have time for her old one.

But when the cameras are turned off, will she discover running with the Hollywood A-list isn’t quite the glamorous existence she thought it was?

The post Review: Will the Real Abi Saunders Please Stand Up? by Sara Hantz appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

Add a Comment
5. Graphic Novel Review: Skip*Beat! Volumes 22 and 23

I’ve been in a manga kind of a mood recently.  I’ve been reading some new series that caught my attention, as well as trying to catch up on some of my favorites that I’ve fallen behind on.  Skip*Beat! is one of those.  Kyoko is a fun protagonist; she’s a good girl who had her heart stomped on by the guy she loved, and now she’s out for revenge.  Sho is an up and coming celebrity, and in order to get back at him, Kyoko is determined to become more popular than he is.  When she’s in a rage, she’s possessed by her anger, which causes dramatic, and usually, hilarious results.

Now that we are quite a ways into the series, the tables have turned on Sho.  Now he has a crush on Kyoko, but he won’t come out and tell her directly (as is the shoujo way!), nor will she give him the time of day.  Kyoko just wants her revenge, revenge, revenge!  She’s even gotten over her earlier animosity for Ren, one of  Sho’s rivals.  The enemy of my enemy is my friend, right?  Only Ren has developed feelings for the stubborn Kyoko and her never say die spirit, but she’s so oblivious she doesn’t even notice.  Just like with Sho, all of her focus is on becoming a success in show biz.

In volume 22, Kyoko is having a hard time stepping into her latest role.  She’s confused about what the director wants, and she’s holding up shooting with her inability to immerse herself into her new character.  With some help from Ren, her acting mojo is recharged and viola!  She’s become Natsu, a high school bully, much to the dismay of Chiori, one of her cast mates.  Chiori is resentful of Kyoko’s success, and she wants desperately for her to fail.  Chiori’s career is stuttering, and the intense competition she feels for Kyoko isn’t helping her.

I thought that volume 22 dragged a bit, but volume 23 cranked up the drama and the action that I love this series for.  Kyoko and Chiori’s feud becomes explosive.  Chiori schemes against Kyoko, almost causing her great bodily harm. In return, Kyoko pushes Chiori to deliver the very best performance she’s capable of.  Their competition is intense, and I felt really bad for the actress who got caught up in the middle of it.

Volume 23 closes out with the beginning of a fun Valentine’s Day story, which I’m looking forward continuing in the next installment of the series.

Is there such a thing as being too good? With Ren’s help, Kyoko finally gets into her new character. But when she shows up on set and wows the crew with her new spin on the old bully role, it sends some of her costars over the edge! Kyoko’s used to dealing with her own demons, but can she stand up to someone else’s?!

Chiori’s rage threatens the whole production when she lashes out and hurts Kyoko. Kyoko is used to overcoming obstacles, and she uses her injury as an excuse to push Chiori into exploring her acting. But Chiori has a traumatic past. Will focusing on the dark side of her character bring it all rushing back?!

The post Graphic Novel Review: Skip*Beat! Volumes 22 and 23 appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

Add a Comment
6. Colores de la Vida



Review by Ariadna Sánchez

A vast variety of colors cover the universe. Their presence in the environment provides human beings with the inspiration necessary to create exquisite art pieces. Colors can cheer the spirit up in only seconds. They transform a lonely soul into a cheerful one by giving hope and serenity to it.
Colores de la Vida by Cynthia Weill has fabulous folk art by Artisans from Oaxaca, Mexico.  Weill’s perfect combination of art and colors results in a boost of power of the immense world of colors in English and Spanish. Page by page, Colores de la Vida is an open invitation to admire the beauty in our surroundings.
Visit your local library to check out other great books written by Cynthia Weill. Reading gives you wings!
For additional information regarding Weill’s work click the following link:
Listen in Spanish Cynthia Weill Interview

0 Comments on Colores de la Vida as of 8/20/2014 2:55:00 AM
Add a Comment
7. Novella Review: The Wager by Lily Maxton

 

 

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I was in the mood for a short, quick read, so I turned, once again, to the Entangled library to fulfill this need.  The Wager had me at “Novella.”  Yes, sometimes even I am easy to please.

Anne loves to make wagers with her sisters, and when she’s caught “borrowing” a scandalous novel from her host while attending a social function, she’s only somewhat taken aback.  When Michael, Earl of Thornhill, catches Anne red-handed stealing a naughty book, his interest is piqued.  After exchanging a series of letters, the first an apology from Anne that lacks conviction or finesse, their paths cross again, leading to a wager between Michael and Anne.  They’ll have a late night swim race, and if Michael wins, he’ll be reward with a kiss.  If she wins, he must answer a naughty question he dodged during their correspondence.

One wager leads to another, until the final stakes are both their hearts.  Who will win?

I really enjoyed the letters, which showed a believable progression of their affection for each other.  The main conflict in The Wager is Anne’s self-doubt.  A year earlier, Michael thought himself in love with Anne’s older sister, Elizabeth, but she rejected his suit because she was in love with someone else.  Anne now feels that she’s only second best, and refuses to take their flirtations seriously.  At times this made her come across as shallow and spoiled.  She can’t accept that feelings can change, and that Michael’s infatuation with Elizabeth was fleeting.  Her stubbornness almost costs her her happiness, because she’s so focused on the fact that Michael was attracted to her sister first.

This is a quick read with a fun, if somewhat over-indulged heroine, and a very sexy earl. The romance was a bit rushed, but I blame that on the length of the story.  I’m curious to read about Anne’s sisters now.

Grade:  B / B-

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

 

London, 1818

Anne Middleton never plays by the rules. She is willful when she should be obedient and unabashed when she should be decorous. Worse still, she can never resist a good wager… or a very naughty book. And Confessions of a Courtesan is about as sensational and risque as a book can be.

Michael Grey – Earl of Thornhill – had once courted Anne’s sweet and modest sister. But whilst Anne is certainly no lady of decorum, her bold impulsiveness slips through his armor, and propriety is forgotten. Now he too is immersed in the book of forbidden delights, where each page is an invitation to sin and a guide to pleasures unknown…

Roused by heady desire, Michael tempts Anne in a way she cannot resist – a wager. Thus begins a game of chance, where coins have been replaced by a currency that is far more illicit. And the stakes of seduction are dangerous indeed…

The post Novella Review: The Wager by Lily Maxton appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

Add a Comment
8. Review: Sisters’ Fate by Jessica Spotswood

 

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I love this series so much that I preordered Sisters’ Fate as soon as I noticed it listed on Amazon.  Book 2, Star Cursed, ended on such a great cliffhanger, and I could hardly wait to see what happened next. The wait was agonizing.  There are times when I enjoy a series, but then I lose interest in the period between releases.  The Sisters’ Fate release date was close enough to when I finished Star Cursed that I didn’t forget about it.  Good thing, too, since I have the attention span of a small bug.

The narrative picks up right were it left off.  Maura has erased Cate right out of Finn’s memories, and now she’s nothing but a stranger to him.  What?  Wow!  What an awful thing for her to do!  I hated Maura!  She has one priority, and that’s herself!  She will do anything to earn praise from Inez, the new leader of the Sisterhood, even betray her sister.  And then not be one bit apologetic for her horrible actions.  No wonder Cate simmered with rage every time she had to interact with her sister.  I really wanted to see Cate kick her butt, but I know that wouldn’t have done anything to change Maura’s attitude. 

Cate is worried about how the Brotherhood will react now that Inez has reduced their leaders to mindless vegetables.  Will they start a second Terror, killing any woman or girl suspected of being a witch, without a second thought?  Inez’s agenda frightens Cate, so she attempts to establish ties with the Resistance.  She knows that she has to stop Inez and her followers somehow, but she realizes that she can’t do it alone.  Making an uneasy truce with Merriweather, who runs an illegal newspaper that reports on the actions of the Brotherhood without censorship, things finally start falling into place.  Then her temper gets the best of her, threatening everything she’s worked so hard to accomplish.

To up the stakes, Cate is not only fighting against those that would destroy all witches, there is also a fever raging through New London, and nobody seems to be doing anything about it.  Since it originated among the poorest citizens of the city, there’s not a whole lot of concern at first.  So what if a bunch of river rats die of the fever?  When the disease jumps to the wealthier occupants of the city, it’s the perfect opportunity to blame the witches for cursing the populace with the illness.  Once again, the witches become a convenient scapegoat to control the population through fear and intimidation.  The Brotherhood did awful things to anyone who got in their way, and then they orchestrated convincing cover stories for every heinous act the committed. They made powerful, frightening villains.

I thought Sisters’ Fate was a fitting end for the series.  All of the loose ends are tied up, and the conclusion is very satisfying.  I was even able to forgive Maura, at least a little bit.  The romance was well done, and while it ended with a Happy For Now, you know that everything will work out for Cate in the end. 

I highly recommend The Cahill Witch Chronicles.  There’s a sweet romance, action, and interesting world building.  It comes to a satisfying end with Sisters’ Fate, so if you like YA paranormal romance, give this series a try.

Grade:  B+ / A-

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

A fever ravages New London, but with the Brotherhood sending suspected witches straight to the gallows, the Sisters are powerless against the disease. They can’t help without revealing their powers—as Cate learns when a potent display of magic turns her into the most wanted witch in all of New England.

To make matters worse, Cate has been erased from the memory of her beloved Finn. While she’s torn between protecting him from further attacks and encouraging him to fall for her all over again, she’s certain she can never forgive Maura’s betrayal. And now that Tess’s visions have taken a deadly turn, the prophecy that one Cahill sister will murder another looms ever closer to its fulfillment.

The post Review: Sisters’ Fate by Jessica Spotswood appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

Add a Comment
9. Graphic Novel Review: Food Wars! Vol 1 & 2 by Yuto Tsukuda and Shun Saeki

I like food so I thought I’d give Food Wars! a try.  I thought the first volume was okay, but it didn’t blow me away.  Soma’s family owns a diner, and Soma’s number one goal in life is to be a better cook than his dad.  I love this storyline; it kept me reading The Prince of Tennis for a long time (and I need to catch up on that one!).  I’m not sure why I find this trope so appealing, but it is one of my favorites.  The protagonist working to hone his skills, hoping to one day surpass the person who taught him almost everything he knows, yeah, I really like that.

Food Wars! Volume 1 ends the competition between father and son very quickly.  Soma’s dad decides he’s going to sharpen his cooking skills, and he leaves Soma with hardly a word.  Off he goes, we discover, jet-setting around the globe, creating fabulous dishes at 5-star establishments.  Soma, in the meantime, has been enrolled in a prestigious culinary school.  The only hitch? He has to pass a cooking test, or he flunks out of school before it even starts.  His judge is fellow student Erina Nakiri, and she’s one tough critic.  From a blue-blooded family of in the gourmet food biz, she has already created a name for herself in the foodie world.  Noted for her incredibly discerning sense of taste, she has no patience for anything less than the best.  Unfortunately for Soma, that includes him.  When Erina discovers his background is from a humble family diner, she has nothing but contempt for him and his cooking.

 

I think the thing I enjoyed best about Food Wars! is Soma’s personality.  He’s brash and outspoken, but he doesn’t mean to come across as a douche, though he often does.  He just wants everyone to appreciate all kinds of food, especially meals prepared with less expensive ingredients.  He’s also very confident in his own abilities, having worked in the family restaurant since he was a small boy.  He makes himself a target the first day of school by sounding like an obnoxious jerk, making a speech in front of the incoming class that is cringe worthy in its arrogance.  Since everybody has a bone to pick with him now, he suddenly has dozens of classmates rooting for, and even actively participating in efforts to see him fail.  Most of the students come from wealthy families, with esteemed backgrounds in gourmet food industries, and they don’t want his kind there.

Volume 2 introduces a parcel of eccentric personalities for Soma to interact with, as well as his first cooking battle.  If he loses, he’s agreed to pack his bags and leave school for good.  His opponent is a genius with beef, and since her family has made a fortune selling grade A cuts of the stuff, he probably shouldn’t have challenged her to a cook-off using meat as the main ingredient.  That’s what I like about Soma; he feels so strongly about an issue that he jumps to accept any challenge, without having the faintest idea or plan of how he’s actually going to win. It’s always Ready! Fire! Aim! with him, with very entertaining results.

So far, I am enjoying this series. The drama of the food wars is fun, and the descriptions of the food makes me drool. I hate cooking, but even I’m tempted to try some of the recipes included because they sound so darned tasty. I have my usual gripes while reading a comic aimed primarily at boys, and I’m not sure how these 14 year old girls can have boobs the size of their heads, but then I remember that I am not the target market. It’s still fun anyway.

About the book:

Soma Yukihira’s old man runs a small family restaurant in the less savory end of town.  Aiming to one day surpass his father’s culinary prowess, Soma hones his skills day in and day out until one day, out of the blue, his father decides to enroll Soma in a classy culinary school!  Can Soma really cut it in a school that prides itself on a 10 percent graduation rate? And can he convince the beautiful, domineering heiress of the school that he belongs there at all?!

Leaving home for the first time in his young life, Soma moves into the  Polaris Dormitory—a place run by an old crone and filled with crazy and eccentric students! Barely settled in, Soma quickly finds himself in one of Tohzuki’s legendary cooking duels—a shokugeki! Who will his very first opponent be?

Review copies provided by publisher

The post Graphic Novel Review: Food Wars! Vol 1 & 2 by Yuto Tsukuda and Shun Saeki appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

Add a Comment
10. Review: Keeping Secrets by Maggie Dana

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I always have the urge to read a horsey book right before a horse show.  I kept seeing the Timber Ridge Riders series on Amazon, and wanted to check it out, so when I had the chance to do just that, I jumped at it.  I don’t ride hunt seat, so I always find depictions of hunter shows interesting.  The horse care details were spot on, and nothing made me cringe due to inaccuracies.  I’ll tell you what did make me cringe: the behavior of Kate’s rival, Angela.  What a spoiled, selfish girl!  If I was her coach, she would have been booted from my barn.  Her casual treatment of the animals and her teammates had me boiling mad!

Keeping Secrets is a middle grade book, but it will appeal to horse enthusiasts of all ages.  I felt so awful for protagonist Kate.  She has spent the last six months blaming herself for the death of  a horse at her old barn.  A convenient scape goat, she was kicked out, banished for allowing the horse to escape from his stall, get into the feed room, and colic.  What a crappy thing to do to a 14 year old girl.  The old trainer earned zero respect from me, and poor Kate, heartbroken over the loss of her favorite horse, decided that horses would no longer play a part in her life.  Kate’s disinterested father didn’t help her with her grief.  The guy, a professor, was never home, and he probably didn’t even know about the horrible experience Kate was struggling to deal with.  Instead, he traipsed around the planet research butterflies. 

With her father on a trip, she’s moved in with her aunt.  Kate wants a job, so when she hears about a babysitting job, she applies for it.  Her charge is actually her own age, and Holly has been confined to a wheelchair after an auto accident.  Kate’s job is to be her companion for the summer, so her mom can continue coaching riders at the barn behind their small house.  Barn?  Yes, barn!  So even though Kate wants nothing to do with horses, she is stuck having to deal with them every day.  Holly’s dream is to get back in the saddle again, and she drags Kate to the barn every day.  To hide her new discomfort around the animals, Kate lies and tells Holly that she’s terrified of them, and, oh, yeah, she’s allergic, too.  When her secret is outted, she has to earn back Holly’s trust, as well as help save Holly’s mom’s job.

This is a very fast paced read, and I couldn’t put it down.  Once Kate gets back in the saddle, things accelerate even more.  She has to help win a team competition, but guess what?  Angela is out to get her, because Kate rides better than she does, so Kate has to learn quickly to avoid Angela’s attempts to sabotage her.  I loved all of the conflict Angela started.  She’s the perfect girl you love to hate, but because her mother demands constant perfection from her, you feel a smidge, just a smidge!, of pity for her.  She’s afraid that Kate will show her up in front of her mother, and all her mother cares about is that Angela is the best.  Her mother also has a lot of control over whether or not Holly’s mother will keep her job, it turns out, so there’s even greater friction between the girls.  Add in the fact that Angela is a bully and likes to pick on what she considers weaker girls, and you really have the perfect villain.

I enjoyed Keeping Secrets, and I’m looking forward to more adventures with Kate and Holly.  I’m sure that Angela will continue to make trouble for the girls, making for more entertaining reading.

Grade:  B/B+  (I love the cover – that gets an A)

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

A valuable horse is dead, and it’s all her fault, which is why 14-year-old Kate McGregor has banished horses and riding from her life … forever!

But her new summer job as a companion to Holly Chapman, a former riding star who’s now confined to a wheelchair, takes her back to the barn—the last place Kate wants to be. 

Can Kate keep her terrible secret from Holly, who is fast becoming her best friend? And, more important, can she keep her secret from Angela Dean, a teenage bully who lives for only two things: winning ribbons and causing trouble? 

Kate manages to keep her secret hidden until an accident forces it into the open … and it’s just the moment Angela has been waiting for.

The post Review: Keeping Secrets by Maggie Dana appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

Add a Comment
11. Book Review: Brown Girl Dreaming

title: Brown 9780399252518Girl Dreaming

author: Jacqueline Woodson

Date: Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin; August 2014

Main Character: Jacqueline Woodson

MIddle Grade Fiction

There are rules to children’s books you know, and Jacqueline Woodson just broke one.

Brown Girl Dreaming is the author’s poetic telling of her childhood and retrospective visits to childhood are supposed to be adult books. Somewhere along when Jackie learned to embrace words and the power they contain, she became entitled to a Poetic License that let this book be produced as a children’s book. Thank goodness!

For me, a Black woman of the same generation who grew up in Ohio with a mother from Mississippi, I quite often found myself pausing and connecting to the story while I daydreamed about my own life. But, this book wasn’t written for me. Will teens relate? Will they find themselves in the spaces Woodson creates when she talks about teeth, not being as smart as, about grandpa’s love and forever friends? I think that they will not only find themselves in these nuances, but they’ll also see how they fit into the larger stories of their family, community and history itself.

In creating a fictional autobiography, Woodson leaves huge spaces that all readers can dive into and find their own meaning. Woodson looks back as adult, but tells the story through the eyes of a child. Her family is her haven whether they’re in New York or South Carolina and even when it looks like things might be going wrong, Jacqueline’s family is perfect in the young girl’s eyes. This girl has a dream to fulfill and we’re going to find out where she gets her strength!

Young Jacqueline is disenchanted with the inaccuracies of memory and the confusion between storytelling and lying.

Keep making up stories, my uncle says.

You’re lying my mother says.

 

Maybe the truth is somewhere between

all that I’m told

and memory.

So, Jacqueline decides to give us her own truths in this story of self empowerment.

I’m so glad Woodson broke the rule!

I reviewed an ARC and am looking forward to adding a final copy to my collection as it will also contain photos.

Born in Columbus, Ohio, Jacqueline Woodson grew up in Greenville, South Carolina, and Brooklyn, New York. She graduated from college with a B.A. in English. She now writes full-time and has recently received the Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in writing for young adults. Her other awards include a Newbery Honor, two Coretta Scott King awards, two National Book Award finalists, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. source


Filed under: Book Reviews Tagged: african american, Jacqueline Woodson, review

3 Comments on Book Review: Brown Girl Dreaming, last added: 8/14/2014
Display Comments Add a Comment
12. Review: Falling for the Pirate by Amber Lin

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

After reading House of the Four Winds, I was in a pirate kind of a mood.  Good thing I had Falling for the Pirate locked and loaded on my Kindle.  I admit that I wasn’t charmed with the beginning, but after Juliana lost her memory, I was a convert.  I’m not sure why I felt that way, because she’s not annoying or a bad person.  Maybe her blind devotion to her missing father, and the risks she was willing to take to clear his name, didn’t work for me?  Or maybe I liked the person she became better when her circumstances better mirrored Nate’s previous meager life?  I’m totally baffled by my first response to her.  Maybe I just needed to get to know her better?

After Nate catches her sneaking around in his new building, a chase ensues, and Juliana is injured and almost drowns, but Nate saves her.  When she regains consciousness a few days later, she has no recollection of her past.  She can’t even remember her name.  Nate finds this all together too convenient;  first, she was sneaking around his property, snooping through the file room.  Second, he discovers that Juliana is the daughter of his greatest enemy.  Her father murdered his parents and destroyed his young life, all for his own greed.  Nate suspects that her father put her up to her midnight burglary.  I have to admit that all of these background details made me a little nervous.  How would Nate ever be able to trust Juliana and put his awful past behind him?  Could he?  How would she react when she regained her memory and learned of the horrible things her father did, and of Nate’s tireless quest for revenge?

Nate’s not really a pirate.  Though he was imprisoned during his youth, he’s an honest, caring man.  But because his hatred for the man who destroyed his family has driven him for the last ten years, he doesn’t allow himself to feel emotions. He lives for his revenge.  He dreams of it, and it’s the only thing that kept him alive during the most trying times in his life.  He’s gruff and abrupt with Juliana, though she slowly thaws his icy interior. Despite his desire to be perceived of as a harsh man, Nate simply isn’t.  His experiences have made a better man of him, and though he doesn’t realize it, he is incapable of being cruel.  Instead, he has a deep-seated need to protect the weak and the helpless from bullies.  I really liked Nate!

While Juliana may have lost her memory, she’s savvy enough to realize that she currently has nothing.  Regardless of her circumstances prior to falling under Nate’s protection, now she hasn’t two pence to rub together.  Everything she has is because of his good will, and she feels an obligation to pay him back.   While this gave him far too much power over her, he doesn’t take advantage of it.  Honestly,  all he wants is for her to exit his life so he can get on with his plans for revenge against her father, but since she has nowhere else to go, he’s kind of stuck with her.  And, yup, before he’s what’s hit him, he’s fallen head over heels for her.

Because this is an amnesia story, I had to leave certain things by the wayside – like a sense of reality.  Juliana’s forgotten memories are just a bit too convenient, but it didn’t bother me too much because I liked Nate so much.  This is a quick and entertaining read that will fill a void in your afternoon or evening.

Grade:  B

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

London, 1820

After the deaths of his parents and a dark, troubled childhood, Captain Nate Bowen vowed he would have his revenge. But he never expected to have the tool of his revenge dropped so neatly into his lap. Juliana Hargate is not only the daughter of his enemy, but is destitute, very much alone – and exquisitely desirable.

And now that Nate has saved her life, she’s at his complete mercy…

Captive. All Juliana wanted was to clear her father’s name. Instead, she’s been struck with amnesia – unable to recall even her name – and imprisoned by a tall, imposing, and entirely unscrupulous pirate. A pirate whose eyes seem to look past her skirts and many petticoats, and whose touch sends delicious ripples of desire through her. With every passing day, she finds herself tempted to give him the very thing he’s determined to take

The post Review: Falling for the Pirate by Amber Lin appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

Add a Comment
13. Shelter Me Review at Romance at Random!

 

I have a new review posted over at Romance@Random!  If you have time, check out my thoughts on Shelter Me by Catherine Mann.

The post Shelter Me Review at Romance at Random! appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

Add a Comment
14. Novella Review: Cursed (The Order of the Wolf) by Angela Addams

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I was in the mood for a quick read, so when I saw Cursed, it’s like it was calling my name.  All it took for me to start reading this were the following words: “Vengeance Dealer” and “Werewolf.”  Yeah, I was all over that!  I loved this short read – the pacing is blistering, the romance hot, and I loved the wolves.

I’m not going to lie, though.  It took a long time to like Darcy.  At first, she impressed me with her boldness and confidence.  Then I started thinking about what she was doing and I thought, “Damn, girl!  That is so not right!”  A Vengeance Dealer, Darcy’s clients engage her services to curse the men who have hurt them.  On the surface, that’s just great.  Girl power and all that.  But under closer examination, she’s not much better than the men she’s trying to teach a lesson to.  In fact, she’s worse.  She collects bodily fluids (semen, no less), casts a spell on it, and curses the guy to lust for her for the rest of his life.  She then promptly vanishes without a trace, reveling in the satisfaction of a job well done.  Ugh!

Not to worry, though, because Karma has a particularly nasty joke to play on Darcy.  After having the best sex of her life, she curses her latest victim.  Only to discover that he’s a werewolf.  Ho boy!!  Things can’t get any worse!  Or can they?  Werewolves have a gift for hunting, and they never forget a scent.  Darcy’s on the run for her life, with a very pissed off supernatural creature on her trail.  Her pathetic skills at witchery are no match for Raven and the rest of his pack, and Darcy is about to learn the error of her ways.

I am all about the pack.  I want to get to know each and every one of them.  I think Mayhem is my favorite, but that’s probably because he’s in charge.  Raven is a younger pack member, still coming into his powers, which can be tenuous when he’s emotionally charged.  The guys are members of a popular rock band, and while the idea is really cool, I wonder at the practicality.  How are they going to be guests on daytime talk shows or shoot music videos at the beach when they are confined to their wolf forms during the day?

Anyhoo, Cursed is the perfect read for a lazy afternoon.  It really is a fun read.  The hero is hot, the heroine is redeemed, and then she totally kicks ass.  Where is Book 2?  (It’s not out until October – boo!)

Grade:  B+

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

Her biggest mistake comes with fangs…and a nose for tracking her down.

The Order of the Wolf, Book 1

Wherever there’s a lying, cheating scumbag who’s broken a woman’s heart, Vengeance Dealer Darcy Wells is there. So what if she isn’t the most skilled witch around? She’s only using one spell, which leaves the hapless male suffering tormenting lust for one woman. Her.

The beautiful part? This curse comes equipped with a blinding agent, allowing her a clean getaway. Unrequited lust, coming right up! As far as Darcy is concerned, it’s justice served. Her next target: Raven Glock, rock band bassist and drop-dead-gorgeous sex god.

When Raven lays eyes on the luscious Darcy, he gives her what he promises all the starry-eyed groupies who toss their panties at him—one unforgettable night in his bed. Sex with Darcy is so epic that he forgets his cardinal rule: to get her out before morning.

At the crack of sunrise, Darcy serves Raven a face full of cursed ash. But something goes horribly wrong…and she finds herself magically tethered to one pissed-off werewolf.

Worse, breaking the spell could cost her everything…maybe even her life.

Warning: Sexually explicit language, tattoos, piercings, and giant…um…feet. Wet panties are a given. Author assumes no responsibility for spontaneous ravishment of significant others, pool boys, or local pizza delivery personnel.

The post Novella Review: Cursed (The Order of the Wolf) by Angela Addams appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

Add a Comment
15. Review: House of the Four Winds by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I admit it!  I wanted to read House of the Four Winds because of the cover.  I think it is absolutely breathtaking.  We all know the problem with judging a book by its cover, though.  Sometimes the story doesn’t live up to that gorgeous cover.  In this case, I’m glad I did pick it up.  While the pacing was occasionally frustrating, House of the Fours Winds was a gripping read none the less.

I can’t think of the last Mercedes Lackey novel that I’ve read.  It’s been years and years, so I was curious to see if I’d like her writing style now.  I don’t think I liked it way back when, but after reading this, I’m going to have to give her backlist another look. The storytelling reminded me of Diane Zahler, told to a slightly older audience.  While House of the Four Winds is an adult fantasy, I don’t think there is anything objectionable within the pages, making this a great candidate for a motivated younger reader looking for a challenge.  Clarice, the heroine, is 18, making her highly relatable to a teen reader, and I thought the writing skewed young.

The set up was a bit difficult to swallow.  Princess Clarice is the oldest of twelve daughters, and after her mother finally gives birth to a son, the girls are all informed that they must make their own way in the world.  Swansgaard, their tiny kingdom, would be ruined if the treasury had to provide for twelve dowries.  Instead, each girl will seek her fortune upon attaining the age of 18.  Clarice, gifted with a sword, has decided to become a swordmaster.  Unfortunately, she needs some practical experience if she expects to attract any students, so off she goes, seeking adventure.

Disguised as Clarence, she buys passage on a ship bound for the new world.  Once aboard the ship, she questions the wisdom of her decision.  The captain and the senior officers are cruel men, quick to punish the crew for any infraction.  The only solace is her friendship with the young navigator Dominick.  He is the opposite of the captain; good and kind, he is outraged by the treatment of the crew, but he is powerless to help them.  Until the day the men are pushed too far, and they take up arms against their leaders.  Before she knows it, Clarice finds herself caught up in the munity, even taking an active part when Dominick’s life is threatened.

So, yeah!  House of the Four Winds has a cross-dressing heroine, mutiny at sea, pirates, and magic.  The first 10% of the book dragged for me, and I was tempted to put it down.  I have so many books to read that a slow start almost guarantees a quick trip back to the TBR mountain.  By 15%, though, I couldn’t put it down.  The pacing slowed periodically, but I liked the characters so much that I didn’t mind getting to know them better.  Much of the book is character driven, with bursts of action and danger, and while I was expecting more action, I didn’t mind its absence.  The treacherous journey under the control of the evil sorceress more than made up for it,  and the end of the book was fraught with terrible challenges for the ever shrinking crew to deal with.

Another thing I enjoyed about the book – Clarice is a strong, intelligent heroine.  She saves Dominick far more often than he saves her, and I really enjoyed that.  Instead of waiting for her prince to find her, Clarice took control of whichever situation presented itself, and became her own prince.  That doesn’t happen nearly enough in the books I read.  Now I’m curious to see if her sisters are as confident and capable as Clarice, so I’m looking forward to the next book in the series.

Grade:  B

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

Mercedes Lackey is the New York Times bestselling author of the Valdemar series and romantic fantasies like Beauty and the Werewolf and The Fairy Godmother. JAMES MALLORY and Lackey have collaborated on six novels. Now. these New York Times and USA Today bestselling collaborators bring romance to the fore with The House of Four Winds.

The rulers of tiny, impoverished Swansgaard have twelve daughters and one son. While the prince’s future is assured, his twelve sisters must find their own fortunes.

Disguising herself as Clarence, a sailor, Princess Clarice intends to work her way to the New World. When the crew rebels, Clarice/Clarence, an expert with rapier and dagger, sides with the handsome navigator, Dominick, and kills the cruel captain.
Dominick leads the now-outlawed crew in search of treasure in the secret pirate haven known as The House of Four Winds. They encounter the sorceress Shamal, who claims Dominick for her own—but Clarice has fallen hard for Dominick and won’t give him up without a fight. 

Full of swashbuckling adventure, buoyant magic, and irrepressible charm, The House of the Four Winds is a lighthearted fantasy romp by a pair of bestselling writers.

The post Review: House of the Four Winds by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

Add a Comment
16. Graphic Novel Review: Vinland Saga Volume 3 by Makoto Yukimura

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I love this series, and I can’t figure out why.  It is violent and depressing, peopled with unlikeable characters.  These guys are unrepentant killers.  They cheerfully engage in murder and thievery, and most lack even the barest sense of honor.  I hate Askeladd, and was really hoping Thorkell would bash his head in with his mighty axe, but no!  The evil, self-serving marauder did not meet his end in the third volume of Vinland Saga.

This volume was over 400 pages of non-stop action.  My wrist is sore from the rapid page turning, and this massive book was literally glued to my hands.  Vinland Saga is one of the most exciting graphic novels that I’ve ever read, and the art is stunning in its brutality.  Fans of Berserk really need to read this, because the two series have a lot in common.  Tortured hero who lives by the blade.  Check.  Violent characters who don’t hesitate to make a deadly show of force.  Check.  One horrific bloodbath after another.  Check!  And worked into all of the glorious violence is the political wrangling for control of the Danish throne.  Which brings me to the only character I really like – young Prince Canute, who has been sent to war by his father King Sweyn, in hopes that he’ll be killed in battle. Like I said, there aren’t a lot of people to look up to in the series.  Everyone is out for their own gain, which makes everything they do suspect, even question a father’s love for his son.

The action gets thick and heavy when Thorkell discovers that Askeladd’s men are lying low in a small village after killing all of the inhabitants, save for the one woman who barely escaped with her life.  Suddenly the chase is on.  Can Thorkell catch Askeladd and reclaim the weak Canute for himself?  Askeladd’s men grow more desperate as the terrifying Thorkell and his men march ever closer to their position.  Askeladd’s men mutter darkly among themselves; Askeladd’s luck has turned, maybe it’s time to look to a new leader.  Oh, dear!  Will Askeladd keep control of his men, through the respect he’s earned with the blade of his sword?  Or will they turn on him like a pack of dogs?  More power to them, I wanted to yell.  Take that bastard down!  Not that any of the other warriors are much better, but wow!  Askeladd has done some horrible things in just three volumes!  Indiscriminate slaughter being just one of them.  These guys do like to kill, and they don’t care who gets caught on the end of their blade.

Thorfinn and Thorkell have a fierce battle.  The winner gets Askeladd.   Do you think Thorfinn is going to let an opportunity like that go by?  No freaking way!  Who cares that Thorkell is a giant, towering over his much smaller opponent.  What a great battle!  The art really shone here, with convincing movement and incredibly emotional facial expressions.  I’ll say it again – the illustrations are fantastic, driving the story forward at a frantic pace, catching your attention and refusing to let it go, or to give your poor eyes a break.  Weapons clash, blood spills, body parts fly off the pages.  It is so mind-numbingly intense!

While the battles were exhilarating, my favorite part of this volume was Canute.  He finally found his voice.  He found his resolve, and he found his power, and boy, oh, boy, his father had better watch out.  From a quiet, weak boy, to a proud, determined leader, all in the span of a few chapters.   Yes!  I want to know what kind of man he becomes, to see if he, too, is shaped into a cold, heartless leader like all of the men around him.

I enjoyed Vinland Saga Volume 3 so much that when I finished, I hopped onto Amazon to see when the next volume comes out.  Guess what!  It’s already out!  And at $5.49 for the Kindle, it is MINE!

Grade:  A

Review copy provided by my local library

From Amazon:

A BLOODY COMING OF AGE In a gambit to become the power behind the Danish and English thrones, Askeladd has taken the prince, Canute, and plunged deep into a winter storm behind enemy lines. Canute’s father, King Sweyn, gives him up for dead in his haste to suppress English resistance. But Askeladd’s small band can’t outrun the tenacious maniac Thorkell forever, and when the warriors finally clash, a storm of sweat and gore ensues that will turn a boy into a man and a hostage into a ruler of men!

The post Graphic Novel Review: Vinland Saga Volume 3 by Makoto Yukimura appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

Add a Comment
17. "Zorro" book's author and publisher disagree with "review"


-->

Last week, I covered a new, children's book, Boy Zorro and the Bully (El Niño Zorro y el Peleón), by Kat Aragon. My post opened with "U.S. readers definitely need more and more diverse books. Especially for children, both Anglo and the marginalized children of color. A bilingual book by Kat Aragon, published last month, relates to that need, as well as to the U.S. sickness of bullying."

I closed with, "Our First Voice books should aspire to be superior to others being written. If expecting books to meet such a standard offends someone, I prefer that to my saying nothing about our literature needing improvement. And when mine are published, I'll ask help holding them to similar standards. To help publicize Zorro, I'll give the author, publisher, and illustrator, for that matter, space here if they would like to explain more about the book."

The author and the publisher sent responses to my post and as promised, I include them below, as well as some others. Reading the original post will likely help you understand what's said below.

Reviews of any book are inherently done from personal perspectives; it's simply part of human frailty. Which is why authors sometimes disagree with their reviewers. Based on what follows, I displeased some people, got confused or maybe even don't understand certain things. I do sometimes do that. Although my review can't be considered thorough, it was my best attempt.

Normally, Anglo reviewers don't necessarily go "light" on Anglo writers, except insofar as they go "heavy" on ethnic writers or lit that's not part of the Anglo world. I believe Chicanos, Latinos, all People of Color also need to be as insightful and honest about "their" literature and writers. Maybe, more so.

Back in the 60s-70s, we Chicanos tended to hide our differences, not criticize ourselves in front of Anglos and generally looked with disdain on any Raza who dared to find fault in the Chicano Movimiento, its leaders or its politics. I tried not to be one of those. I continue to try to practice honesty in my writing and in assessing that of others. According to the author and publisher of Zorro, at least, I didn't do that in their case. You decide. 

The comments about my original post:
1. Rudy. Rudy. Rudy. You practically missed the book altogether. Starting with the misclassification of it as “A Latino Book”. This is a book about “Bullying”. You made it a book about Latinos and then used the book as a platform to go off into different tangents about race, skin color, lack of female representation, and injecting the word “punishment” -implying a negative connotation, as though it is related to the injustice of the system – which is indeed a problem, but not in this book.

A children’s book about a bully, that happens to be inclusive of Latinos, particularly Mr. Ramos the principal, and the iconic Mexican character Zorro, should be commended, not torn apart for not addressing every single issue regarding race. Are you helping or hurting those who actually do something in the world to provide quality education in today’s world with our Latino families?

The fact that I selected a publisher (and there aren’t too many), that focuses on bilingual books as a way to be inclusive of Spanish-speaking immigrant parents, and provides a practical solution to include Spanish-speaking parents in the discussion at schools, with language, reading and educational opportunities to improve our society, should be commended not slighted. - Kat A. - Author [of Zorro], Educator

2. I am the publisher at Lectura Books and I would love to clarify the intent of this special book – Boy Zorro and The Bully. The book is quite timely and is intended for the support of very young elementary kids, as a way to have discussions about the topic of bullying and what to do if they experience it, or witness it.

The Boy Zorro character, Benny, is very young, and the Zorro outfit was a creative expression of his young imagination, and perhaps his fascination with superheroes.

Boy Zorro does the right thing by having an adult handle the bully. And, doing the right thing, at the risk of being called a name like “snitch,” takes true courage.

Bullying is a serious topic today, and goes beyond teasing and snitching. Actual bullying happens over and over and creates ongoing fear in the victim – which is the case with the Big Ricky character in the book. Mr. Ramos, the principal, does the right thing, stays strong, and all outcomes are favorable – no matter their skin color or race.

As you can see from the text, Boy Zorro doesn’t “make a difference” simply by going to the principal. He ultimately makes a difference by taking it to the right person (instead of trying to fight the bully), who will bring it to the school community for discussion, accountability and policy.

As a child development expert, I love how this book spells out the consequences so that kids, parents, and teachers know what to expect. It’s also important that the offender, Big Ricky, had an opportunity to see that his actions were unacceptable and would not be tolerated in their community, and yes, there are real world consequences. Consequences should be spelled out clearly and followed through, as in every good parenting and leadership situation.

It’s true, this is a complex time in our society, which is reflected in our schools and I don’t think anyone has an easy fix for bullying. But, I do know that having ongoing discussions, about what is acceptable and what are the consequences, is a terrific model for parents, kids, teachers, and administrators. The book also has an age-appropriate play for young school kids to perform in front of their school community, which invites further opportunity to open up the lines of communication.

If you’d like more bilingual books with girls, boys, people of different colors, histories, traditions, and socioeconomic diversity, visit our website at: www.LecturaBooks.com - Katherine Del Monte, Publisher

3. I like the main character Boy Zorro and his fighting against Bullying. Putting aside the issue of light v. dark skin, the illustrations are great. Hopefully, Zorrito will appear in follow-up books fighting other problems. - Author Giora

4. I like the thoughtfulness and thoroughness of your review. I also like how you offer space to those who created the book for their comments. I remember some awful moments in school, some more terrifying than others. If I had told my Father everything, I feel certain he would've had me transferred -- I was a kid, and valued being with friends more than safety. I think it's great to teach kids how to deal and I also like adult awareness. I also agree that bullies won't teach themselves how and why to stop. Great post, Rudy! - Sylvia Riojas, Independent Writing and Editing Professional

5. Very good review, Rudy. You've really covered all of the pros and cons. Bullying happens both within and outside of cultures and needs to be always in our minds to protect children and show them how to work with and survive it. This book is a good start. - L. M. (Linda) Quinn, Marketing/Technical Writer Living and Writing in L.A.

6. Rudy, as always, you are honest, straightforward, and insightful in your comments. I, for one, appreciate this. No book is perfect. You pointed out plenty of good points about this book, so the author, illustrator, and publisher should feel good. Re: the cons, every book has some. Hearing honest reviews helps us authors keep pushing the envelope toward higher and higher quality. Thanks for not insulting us by expecting less. - Thelma T. Reyna, author

Final aviso: This post is not intended as a literary boxing ring. In my mind, there are no sides. There are opinions, and that's all they are. Anyone who chooses to comment to this post should keep in mind that only "constructive" criticism will improve "our" literature, assuming you include yourself in the "our."

Es todo, hoy,
RudyG, a.k.a. Rudy Ch. Garcia, Chicano speculative fiction author (honorable mention, International Latino Book Awards)

0 Comments on "Zorro" book's author and publisher disagree with "review" as of 8/2/2014 12:12:00 PM
Add a Comment
18. Review: Oliver and the Seawigs by Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre

 

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

Oliver and the Seawigs is a cute, cute book!  Ten year old Oliver Crisp has spent his entire life exploring all of the unexplored areas of the world, and he’s tired of it.  What Oliver wants is to wake up in his own bedroom, in his own house, and go to school every day.  When his parent sadly realize that there is nothing left to discover, they resign themselves to a boring life living in their long neglected house.  Oliver is delighted, and he is anticipating finally being settled.

Poor Oliver’s non-roaming life comes to an abrupt end.  After not even a day, his parents disappear.  They had taken their dingy out into the bay to explore the new islands that mysteriously appeared during their long absence from their house.  When the raft washes up on shore, minus his parents, Oliver knows he has to take matters into his own hands.  He grabs his explorer pack, hops in the dingy, and sets off in search of his missing mom and dad.

I loved Oliver.  He is a take-charge kid, and he doesn’t panic when his parents go missing.  He has had plenty of disaster training during his adventures with his dare-devil parents, and he immediately puts it to good use.  Little fazes him; not a talking seagull, a near-sighted mermaid, or even an island that isn’t really an island but a living,  breathing creature.  Okay, so the troop of sea monkeys almost does him in, but he quickly tamps down his fears and focuses on the task at hand.  He must save his parents from their own folly.

In addition to encountering one outlandish mishap after another, Oliver and the Seawigs is lavishly illustrated with amusing, cartoony pictures.  Working seamlessly with the prose, the illustrations add even more character to an already charming tale.  I believe this book will appeal equally to boys or girls, as well as their parents. 

Highly recommended.

Grade:  B+

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

 

A lively step up from early chapter books, this seafaring romp is packed with hilarious art, lovable misfits, meddlesome monkeys, and tons of kid appeal.

When Oliver’s explorer parents go missing, he sets sail on a rescue mission with some new, unexpected friends: a grumpy albatross, a nearsighted mermaid . . . even a living island! But the high seas are even more exciting, unusual, and full of mischief than Oliver could have imagined. Can he and his crew spar with sarcastic seaweed, outrun an army of sea monkeys, win a fabulous maritime fashion contest, and defeat a wicked sea captain in time to save Mom and Dad?

The post Review: Oliver and the Seawigs by Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

Add a Comment
19. Manga Review: Limit Volume 2 by Keiko Suenobu

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

It’s been a long time since I read the first volume of Limit, but I didn’t have any trouble picking up where I left off.  Only five high school students have been left alive after a terrible bus crash in the mountains of Japan, and they are struggling to survive with hardly any supplies.  Personalities clash from the get-go, so not only are they fighting the elements, they are fighting each other.  Morishigi, a victim of bullying, has the only weapon, and she wants some pay-back for all of the humiliation she’s suffered at school.  Konno, a pretty, popular girl, mocked Morishigi mercilessly, so now she gets a taste of grief.  Forced to fight with one of her friends, a girl who is smoldering with jealousy of Konno, Ichinose hesitates to lash out at her friend when Morishigi taunts her,  ripping apart her friendship with Konno and driving Ichinose into a rage.   Yeah, these guys need a conflict mediator, so they are lucky to have Kamiya.

 

I really like the art, and the tensions between the girls makes for captivating reading.  They are all tired, hungry, and scared, and without Kamiya, it’s doubtful that they would survive until they are rescued.  If they ever are, that is.  The adults with the responsibility for their well-being are clueless to say the least, and two days after their disappearance, have yet to realize that they are missing, or that most of the girls from their class were killed in a devastating bus wreck.  The teachers experience a massive miscommunication, and the bus company just wants their bus back so they can continue charging customers for charters.  Not one person in authority takes the time to actually verify that the class made it to the camp.  Not one!

Of all of the girls, Kamiya is my current favorite.  She’s level-headed, determined to survive, and completely focused on the end goal: getting back home to her family.  While the other girls allow raw emotion to sway their decisions and actions, Kamiya always thinks things through first.  She weighs the options and all of their consequences before she does anything, and that is going to go a long way into seeing her back home safely.  I hope. 

Grade:  B

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

In the second volume of The Limit, Mizuki has found herself in a position where her not only her social life is at risk, but her survival rests in the hands of the young women she was so desperately attempting to avoid. In the wild the strong survive, and while Alisa may not be smart or cute, she is physically strong. So she immediately takes command by gathering anything that may be used as a weapon to threaten the lives of anyone who may attempt to usurp her new found authority.

Mizuki will have to win over the trust of three people who truly despise her. Whether that means doing all the most dangerous tasks to survive or she must endure bullying, right now she understands that unity will be their only way home. Keeping that unity may be improbable, though.

The post Manga Review: Limit Volume 2 by Keiko Suenobu appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

Add a Comment
20. Review of Alphabet Wildlife A to Z by Nata Romeo, on THE BOOK REPORT!


Alphabet Wildlife A to Z 
by Nata Romeo
Reviewed by  J.D. Holiday

Children will enjoy the Alphabet Wildlife A to Z. Each letter is taught with Nata Romeo's unique and amazing style of artwork. The images
has a stunning effects in ink and pen, some in colored ink and others in black and white using shapes and various forms of line. Very creative.
It will appeal to new young readers on a few levels as they meet animals from around the world, viewing the book's fresh and innovative artwork, and learning at the same time. This book will surely do its job of introducing the alphabet and teaching them the letters needed to create words.
Alphabet Wildlife A to Z it is easy to follow and will be enjoyed by everyone.





That's my review of Alphabet Wildlife A to Z by Nata Romeoon THE BOOK REPORT!                                                          ~JD


Nata Romeo's site: www.nataromeo.com

0 Comments on Review of Alphabet Wildlife A to Z by Nata Romeo, on THE BOOK REPORT! as of 7/25/2014 12:14:00 AM
Add a Comment
21. Novella Review: For Her Spy Only by Robyn DeHart

 

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I picked up For Her Spy Only because I was in the mood for a quick read.  I enjoyed this quite a bit, but thought the ending was very rushed.  Maybe I just liked the characters so much that I would have liked to get know them even better.  There’s some intrigue, adventure, and an unconventional hero, which was a refreshing change.  Alistair couldn’t be further from a smooth talking operator, and I enjoyed that Winifred accepted him for who he was, and the thought of changing him never crossed her mind. 

When Winifred is stranded in a disabled coach on Christmas Eve, her unlikely rescuer is none other than Alistair, Marquess of Coventry.  Rumors swirl about the reclusive man, claiming that Alistair murdered his young wife, but after meeting him, Winifred dismisses them as idle talk.  Alistair’s dark reputation, however, gets her pulse pounding, and she decides that an affair with him will spice up her life.  She is also the victim of unkind rumors, which began after she was jilted at the altar, so she feels, with her reputation already in tatters, that she has nothing to lose. 

Six years later, Winifred has an unwelcome visitor.  Alistair is standing on her door step, asking after her husband, who has recently passed away.  Alistair reveals that he’s a code-breaker, and in order to protect the Crown, he needs the help of her late husband’s maps to help decipher his latest assignment.  Unfortunately, the maps he needs have been stolen.  Winifred agrees to help him locate the maps, mainly to get him back out of her life.  She has a big secret she’s keeping from him, and she’s terrified that he’ll discover that she’s been hiding his son from him for all these years.

I didn’t blame Winifred one bit for hiding Oliver’s existence from Alistair.  He made it very clear that he never wanted children, and took precautions to prevent an unwanted pregnancy during their brief time together.  Obviously unsuccessful precautions.  Winifred decided to raise her son without telling Alistair, but now she’s terrified that he’ll discover that he has a son.  She’s not certain what his reaction will be, but she’s sure it will be dreadful.

The hero made this read for me.  Alistair is somewhere on the autism spectrum, and while he’s a whiz at cracking codes, social interactions are a trial for him.  He is painfully blunt and has no sense of humor.  Most people bore him with their mindless nattering.  Winifred intrigues him because she doesn’t pester him with small talk, and she accepts him for who he is.   Bullied as a child and shown only distain from his mother, he prefers to keep his own company.  That is, until he is unexpectedly reunited with Winifred and begins to develop feelings for her. Gasp!

As previously stated, I thought the ending was very rushed, but the unusual hero made up for that shortcoming.

Grade:  B

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

England, 1814

When Winifred is rescued from her snow-stranded carriage by the notorious and reclusive Alistair, Marquess of Coventry, she is instantly drawn to him. Jilted by her betrothed and socially ruined by untrue rumors, Winifred is tired of paying for crimes she didn’t commit and decides to play the seductress London society claims she is. Thinking a night of passion shouldn’t leave any lasting effects, she instead finds her heart marked forever.

Six years later, Alistair is working for the Regent as a spy. A search for Napoleon’s English supporters leads him to the beguiling Winifred, recently widowed with a young son. He hasn’t forgotten how the unconventional beauty warmed his bed, and the heat between them rekindles immediately. The spymaster is determined to uncover all of plucky Winifred’s secrets. Especially the one regarding her son…

The post Novella Review: For Her Spy Only by Robyn DeHart appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

Add a Comment
22. Review: We Were Liars by E Lockhart

 

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

Wow! This is a hard book to review, because it’s so important for the reader to go in blind, or it won’t work.  The slow unfolding of Cady’s forgotten memory, like a languid summer day, is suspenseful and engrossing.  I started reading They Were Liars without even reading the blurb, and I’m glad I didn’t.  Knowing too much going in spoils the mystery of Cady’s lost summer, so I hadn’t even read any reviews for the book.  I hate spoilers!

I’ll give you a general overview of the story, with no spoilers, and try to tell you how I felt about it without ruining the read for you.  Deep breath – here we go!

Cady spends her summers on Beechwood, the family island.  Her grandparents, and each of their three daughters, have a house there, and Cady’s summer days are spent swimming, hanging out with her cousins, and enjoying the closeness of her extended family.  Everything seems so idyllic to her, until she turns fifteen.  Then her life slowly starts to unravel; her father leaves her and her mother, moving to Colorado with another woman.  Because her family doesn’t believe in actually expressing your feelings, her mother works out her hurt and grief by erasing every trace of Cady’s father from their life.  Their old furniture is given away, the house in Vermont is redecorated, and only then can they begin their summer vacation.

While Cady is hurt and confused, and hadn’t found the process of rearranging the house therapeutic, her mother continues on as though nothing has happens, and she expects Cady to do the same.  Stiff upper lip, steady square jaw, no emotional outbursts allowed.   It’s during this pivotal summer that Cady realizes how imperfect her family is.  Petty jealousies tear away at her aunts.  Her grandfather takes pleasure in fueling the discord between his children.  And Gat, her cousin Johnny’s friend, a boy she’s known forever, has suddenly stolen her heart, despite her family’s disapproval, because Gat doesn’t fit into their wealthy, white world view.

Cady is an unreliable narrator, and I was never sure when she was telling the truth, or what she thought was the truth.  When she forgets most of summer fifteen after suffering a traumatic brain injury, she frantically attempts to discover what happened.  Why was she swimming by herself?  Why won’t her mom or the rest of her family tell her what happened that warm summer night?

While I loved Cady’s voice, I’m not so sure that I liked this over-indulged, spoiled young woman.  Even though I was at odds about how I felt about her and her equally privileged cousins,  I could not put the book down.  Now that it’s a day after I finished We Were Liars, I can’t even tell you if I liked the book.  All I know is that it held me mesmerized, and all I wanted was to find out the truth behind Cady and her whacked family.  If you are looking for a quick, hard to put down read, We Were Liars has your name written all over it. 

Grade:  B/B+

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.
We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from New York Times bestselling author, National Book Award finalist, and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.
Read it.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.

The post Review: We Were Liars by E Lockhart appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

Add a Comment
23. Novella Review:

 

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I’m a huge Kelly Hunter fan, so when this novella popped up at Amazon for .99, I grabbed it with no hesitation.  Didn’t even read the blurb.  I just had to have it.  I am so glad that I hit the Buy button, because this is a fun, slightly angsty read.  And guess what?  The heroine is a costume designer and a co-player, and most of the story takes place at a gaming convention.  Talk about pushing all of my geek buttons!

Eli is still mourning the loss of his girlfriend, five years after her death.  He has cut himself off from almost everyone but his family.  His only joy comes  on Friday, during his weekly online gaming session with Fuzzy aka Zoey, another hardcore gamer.  She is a take no prisoners kind of girl, and Eli has developed a fondness for her over the two years they’ve been gaming together.  When his brothers plot to have them meet in real life, at a local gaming convention, he isn’t happy at first.  He’s down right put out.  His social life is just fine, thank you very much.  He’s reluctant to step outside of his comfort zone, but he doesn’t want to hurt Zoey’s feelings, either, so he agrees to go.

Zoey is delighted when Eli asks her to go to the convention with him.  She doesn’t know that the text she received is from his brother, but it probably wouldn’t have slowed her down if she had known.  That’s what I enjoyed so much about this fun novella.  Zoey is vivacious and full of life, while Eli has been avoiding life for the past five years.  Zoey loves people, she loves making everyone feel special, and she has to be in the thick of the action.  Sitting on the sidelines is not for her.  Jumping into new situations with both feet and never a backwards glance is how she’s wired, while Eli is much more reserved and cautious.  The push and pull between them was engaging, and it was nice to see the heroine take charge for a change.

If I have one quibble, it was with the potential relationship deal breaker, which seemed to come out of nowhere.  While it was the one thing that would have sent Eli packing, it came out of left field.  Other than that, this is the perfect read for a lazy afternoon.

Grade:  B+

Review copy purchase from Amazon

From Amazon:

They were on the honeymoon of a lifetime. Pity it wasn’t theirs.

Eli Jackson has just married the woman of his dreams. Sure, it was part of an online role-playing game and not exactly real, but he totally dominated the wedding battle that followed and his lady wife was very impressed.

Eli never imagined that his brothers would bestow on them a real-world honeymoon package at one of the Gold Coast’s premier hotels. He never figured on costume designer Zoey Daniels being such fun. Together they’re dynamite, but Eli’s not looking for a real relationship and Zoey lives only for the day.
Besides, no one falls in love this fast. Do they?

The post Novella Review: appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

Add a Comment
24. ¡El Cucuy!


Review by Ariadna Sánchez
The Bogeyman is one of the most iconic figures in the Latin culture. In addition, La Llorona (The Weeping Woman) and El Chupacabras are folkloric characters that seduce old and new generations into a mysterious and magical world. The legends, myths, and folk stories about these unique figures gave birth to a legacy that will last forever in Mexico’s villages and cities as well as the rest of Latin America.
¡El Cucuy! A Bogeyman Cuento in English and Spanish as told by Joe Hayes and phenomenally illustrated by Honorio Robledo is a must read during the summer break.
In Oaxaca, México El Cucuy is best known as el Coco. Hayes description of El Cucuy matches the one my abuelita used to tell me “a gigantic old man with a humped back and a large, red left ear that can hear everything. And he comes to town for lazy and disobedient girls and boys.”
The tale gives young readers a bittersweet experience as the two girls are carried by El Cucuy towards the mountain. The two sisters are afraid and sorry for their behavior with their father and younger sister. One day, a boy losses one of his goats. The goat starts to bleat louder and louder right above El Cucuy’s cave. The girls plea the boy for help. He takes his jacket and uses it as a rope to rescue the girls. The girls climb up. Once free and safe the three children walk to the valley. At last, the girls reunite with their father and sister. Since that day, the two sisters are the most helpful and polite girls in town. The good news is that El Cucuy never appears again.

Joe Hayes adds at the end of the book a special note to readers and storytellers about ¡El Cucuy! Visit your local library for more amazing stories. Reading gives you wings. Hasta Pronto 
Check the following link for more cool books by Joe Hayes: http://www.cincopuntos.com/products_detail.sstg?id=4
Joe Hayes Narrates El Cucuy! - YouTube



0 Comments on ¡El Cucuy! as of 7/30/2014 2:52:00 AM
Add a Comment
25. Review: Magnolia by Kristi Cook

 

 

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

Magnolia is a hard book to rate.  For the most part, I really enjoyed this Shakespeare inspired YA romance.  It’s Romeo and Juliet in reverse.  Jemma and Ryder have been at odds ever since the 8th grade, when a misunderstanding drives them apart.  Too bad their families keep pushing them together!  Nothing would make their parents more happy than if they became a couple, and their mothers have been doing everything in their power to make that happen.  From the time they were babies, they have shared cribs, vacations, and countless meals, but Jemma’s had enough.  While once Ryder lit up her world, his cruel words have driven them apart, and Jemma can’t wait to get away from tiny Magnolia Branch so she doesn’t have to deal with him anymore.

Second chance at love is my favorite trope, so I was looking forward to reading this.  After overhearing Ryder talking to his friends about her, Jemma’s young heart is crushed.  While she has developed a huge crush on him, she thinks that he’s only being nice to her to please his over-controlling mom.  She’s done everything in her power to avoid him for the last four years, but she seethes with anger every time she sees him.  Worse, they usually end up arguing about the stupidest things, which makes her even more upset.

In her senior year, Jemma has big dreams for the future.  She has a secret plan; she wants to attend film school in NYC, far away from her family and friends.  And far away from Ryder.  When her sister, Nan,  is diagnosed with a life threatening illness, her dreams are derailed.  Her parents have to fly to Houston with her sister for her treatment, leaving Jemma alone and confused.  Frightened for the well-being of her one daughter, her mother refuses to even discuss letting Jemma apply to a school as far away as NYC.  Worried and resigned that Nan’s future is more important than hers, Jemma waits at home, alone, for word of her sister’s progress.

While everyone is out of town, the worst hurricane since Katrina barrels down on Mississippi.  This was my favorite part of the book, because the author captured the intensity of the storm so vividly.  Howling winds, pelleting rains, surging floods – you name it, and Jemma and Ryder had to face these terrible threats alone.  The whole storm sequence was engrossing and I couldn’t put the book down.  Jemma and Ryder are forced to put their differences aside and work together to make it through the storm.  They arrive at a truce, and maybe something more, until life returns back to normal in the aftermath of the hurricane.  Then they are at odds again, but for entirely different reasons.

This is where the story fell ever so slightly off the rails for me, but I don’t want to go into detail because it’s a pretty major spoiler.  Suffice it to say, this latest roadblock to true love seemed very contrived and I just didn’t buy into the tragedy.  And, to be honest, it’s kind of hard to beat the tension and fear of eminent death brought on by the hurricane, so anything that happened after it blew itself out of town was kind of anticlimactic.

Grade:  B

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

Jemma and Ryder are far from friends—until a storm stirs up their passion in this contemporary southern romance from New York Times bestselling author Kristi Cook.

In Magnolia Branch, Mississippi, The Cafferty and Marsden families are practically royalty. Neighbors since the Civil War, the families have shared vacations, holidays, backyard barbecues, and the overwhelming desire to unite their two clans by marriage. So when the families finally have a baby boy and girl at the same time, the perfect opportunity seems to have arrived.

Except Jemma Cafferty and Ryder Marsden have no intention of giving in to their parents’ wishes. They’re only seventeen—oh, and also? They hate each other. Jemma can’t stand Ryder’s nauseating golden-boy persona, and Ryder would prefer it if stubborn-headed Jemma didn’t exist. And their communication is not exactly effective: even a casual hello turns into a yelling match.
But when a violent Mississippi storm ravages through Magnolia Branch, it unearths feelings Jemma and Ryder didn’t know they had. And the line between love and hate just might be thin enough to cross…

The post Review: Magnolia by Kristi Cook appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

Add a Comment

View Next 25 Posts