More contests!

Sorry I've failed to update recently. Stupid exams! I promise I'll be back and updating a lot more soon.

For now... Carol is sponsoring A TON of awesome contests in honor of her blogoversary so go check them out!

Here's a particularly great one (in my opinion) - a chance to win Sarah MacLean's The Season at

Anyway, so sorry again! But no fear - coming up soon I'll have a review of the conclusion of the Make Lemonade trilogy: This Full House as well as a review of Ed Decter's The One (and who knows... I'm considering a contest for the book as well since I feel so bad about being MIA).


Twenty Boy Summer

Sarah Ockler’s Twenty Boy Summer tells the story of Anna as she deals with the grief of the death of the guy she always loved. The thing is, after years of admiration from afar, Anna and Matt only acted on their feelings for each other a short while before his death. And did I mention that Matt happened to be Anna’s best friend Frankie’s brother and she promised him she wouldn’t tell Frankie about their secret, but rather leave it to him during family vacation. A year later, their vacation is finally rescheduled so that Anna and Frankie’s family can try to cope with Matt’s death, while Anna continues to struggle with the secret she holds so dear.

In this poignant young adult novel, Ockler takes the typical beach read novel – two girls and a beach and a hunt for guys – and expands upon it, creating a rich story about the trials of friendship and love. While Ockler could gone further with her use of the first person narrative to really expand on Anna’s inner emotions, I still felt that the reader was able to pick up on and relate to Anna’s raw grief, confusion, and frustration. Though Twenty Boy Summer doesn’t have the usual happily-ever-after ending, Ockler’s ending is as uplifting as would be suitable for the story and I was thankful for its grounding in reality as I believe this contributed to the impact of the story. Beyond the text, the cover is absolutely lovely and I was pleased to find how meaningful the pieces of sea glass are. More than anything else, I felt that Ockler’s Twenty Boy Summer taught the lesson of appreciating every moment you have – a lesson that will resonate with every reader. 10 out of 10.


Bookluver-Carol's Reviews: Elizabeth Scott contest!

Interested in winning any one of Elizabeth Scott's books? Check out this contest over at Carol's blog!

Bookluver-Carol's Reviews: Elizabeth Scott contest!


A Veiled Deception

Annette Blair’s A Veiled Deception introduces Madeira Cutler, better known as Maddie, a young woman with a taste for fashion, especially anything vintage. While home in Mystick Falls, Connecticut to help her sister, Sherry, with wedding plans, Maggie realizes that these vintage pieces speak their histories to her. Literally, thanks to her magic touch. Not long after arriving in New England, Maddie finds Sherry’s fiancĂ©’s former girlfriend strangled to death with Sherry’s veil around her neck. Determined to prove her sister’s innocence, Maddie conducts her own investigation. Along the way, Maddie enlists the help of a certain FBI agent who happens to be her on-again-off-again boyfriend and a resentful local police detective who she nicknamed Wiener as a child.

A Veiled Deception is one of the best mysteries I’ve read in a while. This novel is a quick read, filled with romance, history, magic, and cute fashion references. I especially appreciated the way Blair gave her characters depth, especially Maddie and Mr. Vancortland, by including meaningful family history plots to support the main mystery. Blair’s new series incorporates magic wonderfully, blending Maddie’s newfound psychic powers into the mystery through ghosts and visions that add an element of supernatural to the story without taking away from A Veiled Deception’s clear storyline. This book is a sure hit for any fan of Blair’s Accidental Witch Trilogy, Laurie’s Psychic Eye Series, or Alt’s Bewitching Mysteries. 8 out of 10.


Flashback of the Month I: The Key to the Golden Firebird

I've decided to introduce a new feature: the flashback of the month. I know that I tend to get caught up with anticipation for new releases, and I end up overlooking fantastic books that were written anytime from a few years ago to fifty. So, every month, I'll post a review of a book that isn't receiving a whole lot of attention anymore but still deserves to be read with excitement (and just think about how affordable these are - your library probably has it in stock, and if not, it's already been released in paperback). I'm also welcome to suggestions if there's a book you'd like for me to review for an upcoming month.

The Key to the Golden Firebird by Maureen Johnson was an incredible story of love, loss, friendship, and family. The three Gold sisters, Brooks, May, and Palm, have suffered through the loss of their father and have each responded in completely different ways. Johnson focuses on May’s side of the story, but with hers you learn a lot about Brooks, the older sister who has become wild, and Palm, the younger sister who has become a very intense pitcher.

Ever since her father’s death, everything in May’s life seems to be falling apart. And to add to it all, with Brooks’ lack of concern, May is stuck watching over Palmer and caring for her most of the time. So she is dragged into learning to drive, especially with the offer of her neighbor Pete. Meanwhile, their father’s old car, the Golden Firebird sits uselessly in the garage, not touched since he passed away. As to May’s driving, let’s just say she’s not exactly great and she’s overcautious while in the driver’s seat. With Pete’s help, she starts to slowly overcome some of this. At the same time, she’s beginning to realize Pete may not still be the immature, rotten little kid she remembers.

I was blown away with the power of this book. It was not just some story about girls after their father died and how they coped. There was just so much more to the story than that and I don’t really know how to put it. Each sister really came to life with their individual personalities and you couldn’t help but fall for Pete. I thought the ending was perfect and it really brought the entire book to a conclusion, tying all “loose ends” up well. As well, it was well written and simply realistic, with tiny details that people observe but normally don’t bother to write about. If Maureen Johnson were to write another story about the Gold sisters, I’d be sure to read it. I recommend The Key to the Golden Firebird to anyone looking for a truly touching and enjoyable read this summer. 9 out of 10.


Prom Queen Geeks

The Queen Geek Social Club strikes again in Preble’s third installment. This time, the club is tackling prom season, after having aptly noticed that prom is only attended by those popular kids who can afford the outrageous ticket cost. So of course, the perfect solution is to hold their own prom, a low-cost Geek Prom. Unfortunately, their independent thinking poses a threat to the popular clique, especially as the Geek Prom begins to show signs of success and is expanding. This simple enough idea turns Green Pines High into territory for war and all the drama that goes with it.

While I was a huge fan of Laura Preble’s first Queen Geeks novel, I must say that I found it challenging to get into this one. Though equal in length to the first two installments, the story becomes repetitive early on and loses the reader’s attention. As well, the extreme expansion of the prom by Shelby and crew seems unrealistic as compared to the adventures and drama in the previous two books, as if they plan on taking over the universe rather than holding a simple high school dance. This being said, Shelby’s voice is as entertaining as ever, leading the reader to share in the life of a geek, even when it means feeling downright uncomfortable. While the end of Prom Queen Geeks resolves the prom tension, the girl fights, and the boy drama, Preble leaves the Queen Geeks open to yet another installment. Hopefully the next time we encounter Shelby, Becca, and friends, their story will have returned to reality, with each character remaining as quirky as ever. 5 out of 10.


Stepsister Scheme

The Stepsister Scheme by Jim C. Hines revisits the classic fairy tales Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Snow White as the first installment of the Princess series. In Hines’ fantasy, these “happily ever after” fairy tales come to us with a twist. Cinderella’s (known to her stepsisters as Cinderwench) real name is Danielle Whiteshore, Sleeping Beauty is actually a martial arts master who goes by Talia and hates fairies despite their blessings, and Snow is a sorceress who changed her name to hide her royal roots. After Danielle’s stepsister attempts to take her life and her husband, Prince Armand, is kidnapped, these three princesses head out to Fairyland on a mission to find the evil stepsisters and rescue the prince. On the way, the princesses are forced to revisit their pasts, outthink riddles, conquer magical beings, and, most importantly, trust each other.

This princess trio is certainly one to admire, full of courage, wit, beauty, and fun. As a great lover of fairy tales, I enjoyed how Hines combined the traditional fairy tales with the Disney ones in his own retelling, empowering the female characters as they went to rescue the prince. These strong heroines were well-developed and relatable, and their unique abilities and personalities balanced each other well. The Stepsister Scheme is full of action, moving the plot along while helping to attract a male audience in addition to the obvious female one. After being introduced to Danielle, Talia, and Snow in The Stepsister Scheme, I can’t wait until The Mermaid’s Madness is released to see how Hines merges these tough princesses into the tale of The Little Mermaid. 7 out of 10.


The Musician's Daughter

Set in eighteenth-century Vienna, a time of court life and chamber music, Susanne Dunlap’s The Musician’s Daughter is a story that blends music and politics. When heroine Theresa’s father is found dead the night before Christmas with no sign of his murderers or his valuable violin, the only clue Theresa has to go by is the medallion found on his body. With the help of her godfather, Franz Joseph Haydn, Zoltan, and a few Gypsies, Theresa sets out to discover the truth of her father’s death, learning along the way that her father was involved in more dangerous activity than she ever expected.

Susanne Dunlap created a very likeable, though quite stubborn, heroine in Theresa. The Musician’s Daughter depended on her vivacity, wit, and boldness and the reader could connect to Theresa primarily because she was so genuine. Still, despite the inside cover’s claim that, “The Musician’s Daughter is an engrossing tale of murder, romance, and music,” this story seemed to lack in romantic content. Theresa’s interest in Zoltan is barely mentioned throughout the novel, and though positive, the ending was slightly disappointing. Though full of potential, their relationship is rarely addressed, and because of this the novel falls flat at times

Dunlap’s degree in music history is evident when reading The Musician’s Daughter. Dunlap admits that the story is truly a work of fiction, but each time music is mentioned, whether it is the comparison of violins and violas or the works of Haydn, it is portrayed with accuracy and true interest. The Musician’s Daughter is a thoroughly enjoyable read, especially for music lovers. If you are interested only because of romance, I would pass as that aspect is a bit lackluster, but otherwise this is a new work with an independent heroine that shouldn’t be missed. 8 out of 10.


GoldenGirl: A Bradford Novel

Micol Ostow begins the Bradford series with GoldenGirl, told primarily from the perspective of Spencer. Spencer is essentially an it-girl, along with her best friends Paige and Madison. Even as juniors, the trio rules Bradford Prep, getting everything they want all the time. That is, until California beauty Regan shows up. It turns out that Regan and Paige have a history (one that truly tests Paige’s limits) and it looks like Regan and Spencer’s ex (whose return to Bradford was a surprise in and of itself) have a future. A novel told through the internet, Spencer’s story is one of scandal and secrets that keep the reader plowing through the book.

The Bradford series is complete with a wide selection of web content. From character profiles on myspace and twitter to webpages for the school and hangout places, the realm of Bradford is extended impressively in through this assortment of websites (check out http://www.bradfordnovels.com/ for links). These make the characters come to life in a way they simply couldn’t in the book due to its entirely blog-driven nature. GoldenGirl certainly delves into today’s internet obsession.

For a light read, Ostow’s latest is fun and fast-paced. Rather than taking place in “the city” whether it is NYC or LA, GoldenGirl is set in the suburbs of Philadelphia, specifically the upper-crust Main Line. This helped the book stand out in my mind as compared to other novels. Still, probably because of the title, I immediately made a comparison between GoldenGirl and the Gossip Girl series. GoldenGirl is like a second tier Gossip Girl installment combined with Pretty Little Liars with lighter content for a slightly younger audience. 7 out of 10.