Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Paige by Annette Lyon

Paige by Annette Lyon
After a bitter divorce from her unfaithful husband, Paige moves from Utah to California with her two little boys and vows to make a fresh start. She finds a job at a dental practice that helps her get back on her feet, but it’s the friends she makes at her new book club who help her realize how strong she is and who give her support to carry on as she faces the challenges of being a single mom. She also meets Derryl, a wonderful, kind, attentive man who treats her right—something her ex never did. Yet, Paige struggles to figure out who she is as a woman rather than a wife, how to help her boys adjust to a broken home, and whether she can ever trust a man or love again. As Paige leans on the book club ladies and Derryl’s ever-present care, one thing becomes clear: healing from the past requires more than a change of address.   

After reading two other books in the Newport Ladies book Club I not exactly sure what to say about Paige. The plot is much similar to the other two books in that many of the major events are the same, and several others were hinted at in the storyline in Daisy’s novel. The book is different in the fact that Paige is a divorced LDS woman having a hard time finding a place to fit in, and so she joins the book club to find friends. She becomes close to Daisy, who also knows what it is like to be a single mom.

She also starts dating a non-member named Derryl who serves as the love interest in the book. He is kind and handsome and endearing, but I was kind of disappointed not necessarily in the fact that Derryl and Paige didn’t get together, but in that he seemed kind of pointless to the plot. Since Derryl and Paige don’t get together his sole meaning in the narrative to teach Paige that she needs to break up with him so she can spend more time on herself, spend more time with her kids, and aim for marrying a Mormon. Except for these are all the kind of surface answers that were basically no brainer from the beginning.

So, I am disappointed in the fact that the character arc in this story fell flat for me. I feel like the book ends where it should have started at the beginning.  The story  made me feel like the character just ran in a huge circle, and didn’t really make any real forward progress at all.

Despite my complaints Lyon maneuvers her character smoothly across all the major plot points of the series with perfect timing and transitions.  Paige is a good character, and the conflicts she faces are well developed and engrossing. I cared about her as a person, and empathized with her as a mother, and enjoyed reading her story.
For more info on the series visit the Newport Ladies Bookclub Blog

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Everneath by Brodi Ashton

Everneath by Brodi Ashton

"Last spring, Nikki Beckett vanished, sucked into an underworld known as the Everneath, where immortals Feed on the emotions of despairing humans. Now she's returned- to her old life, her family, her friends- before being banished back to the underworld... this time forever.
She has six months before the Everneath comes to claim her, six months for good-byes she can't find the words for, six months to find redemption, if it exists.
Nikki longs to spend these months reconnecting with her boyfriend, Jack, the one person she loves more than anything. But there's a problem: Cole, the smoldering immortal who first enticed her to the Everneath, has followed Nikki to the mortal world. And he'll do whatever it takes to bring her back- this time as his queen." (Summary from author's website)

So I really enjoyed this book. I really liked how the author set up the love triangle in a way that made the book feel different from other books in the same genre. Her attraction to Cole was directly related to how he could take her pain away because of his magical abilities and the author put the Nikki in a position where it felt realistic that she would make the choices she did. I also really liked how the author portrayed the depth of the love that Jack and Nikki had for one another without making them makeout in every scene. Huzzah! The mythology in this one was fun because while it included Greek and Roman myths the key to the myth’s magic was Egyptian. So I liked that twist and the fact that hints to the secret society the author created were found in many different myths from several different cultures.  So yeah, I would totally pick up the sequel to this one.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Freshman for President by Ally Condie

Freshman for President by Ally Condie
Fifteen-year-old Milo J. Wright and his best friend, Eden, are crazy to even consider participating in the election for President of the United States of America, aren’t they? Never mind that Milo is twenty years too young. Never mind the fact that he’ll have to balance the election with school, his lawn-mowing job, soccer practice, and trying to understand girls. There are time in life when you just have to go for something, no matter how impossible. Readers will discover that everyone, no matter what age, has something valuable to say. (summary from Author's Website)

So, I have been thinking about reading this book for a long time, but didn’t really have the gumption to pick up the book because after all it is a book about a teenager running for president. It was hard for me to get over the ridiculousness of that idea because it would never work. So, this book asks a lot from the reader from the get go, which why it took me so long to pick up the book. Yet, despite the big hurtle I enjoyed the book anyway. Milo fully realizes that he isn’t old enough to take office according to the constitution, but decides that it is worth running anyway.
I think one of my most favorite thing about Ally Condie is that she depicts teenagers in a real way. Even the best written YA out there is full of crazy, drama diva, rebellious teens, who often fall into extreme stereotypes that just make high school seem like a farce. Yet, Condie seems to hit things exactly right. Sure she puts her characters into a totally improbable situation, but her teenagers seem normal and real. They have that crazy energetic optimism of youth. They want to really make a difference and make the world a better place. Sometimes I think adults forget that many teens in all their boundary exploring and rebelliousness really do have some pretty cool ideas, and a sincere desire to impact the world positively. So, I really loved how Condie showed that aspect of her characters in this book.
This really is such an uplifting and refreshing read that shows that we don’t have to win to have an influence, and that sometime success really is measured in the journey and not the destination.  Even if this book’s premise is outlandish the characters make it worth the read.

Visit Ally Condie Website

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Hidden Branch by G. G. Vandagriff

The Hidden Branch by G. G. Vandagriff   
"Paul Mardian is a shining example of the American dream. The grandson of an Armenian immigrant who fled to the United States during the genocide of 1915, Paul is a self-made industrial tycoon and one of the most eligible bachelors in the country. But the dream is shattered when Paul turns up dead and his valuable collection of ancient Armenian artifacts goes missing. Hired to find the murdered man’s heirs, professional genealogist Alexandra Campbell and her sidekick, Briggie, are brought to the swanky beaches of Southern California and a community of Armenian relatives who all seem to be hiding a secret. When another family member is suddenly murdered, Alex discovers there is more at stake than an unclaimed fortune or missing antiques, but piecing together Paul’s complicated family tree may be more dangerous than she ever anticipated. Author G. G. Vandagriff combines mystery, suspense, and romance in this page-turning thriller!" (description from 

I liked the change in Alex’s character, much less mopey and more interesting to read about, now that she isn’t so angst ridden by her past. I felt the mystery in this story wasn’t as compelling as the others in the series. I think this in in part because the cast may be so huge or that the initial stages of the mystery were so chaotic. It seemed like there were many random clues and there were so many family members to keep track of and eventually three different crimes that had to be linked together. So while the mystery seemed frustrating to me at first I really did like how the author characterized the family members and I found them all pretty interesting. The setting made this book a perfect end of summer read, and I got caught up in the plot despite my earlier feelings that it got off the ground slowly.
Visit G. G. Vandagriff's website 

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Goddess of Yesterday by Caroline B. Cooney

The Goddess of Yesterday by Caroline B. Cooney
At age six Anaxandra is taken by King Nicander to be a companion to his crippled daughter on the island of Siphnos. Anaxandra has adjusted to her new life when, six years later, Siphnos is sacked by pirates, and she is the sole survivor. When a fleet of ships stops on the island to investigate, she assumes the identity of Princess Callisto to survive. The ships belong to Menelaus, king of Sparta, and he takes her back to Sparta with him. But Helen, wife of
Menelaus, does not believe that this child is Princess Callisto. Anaxandra manages to stay out of harm’s way—until Paris and Aeneas arrive. When Menelaus and his men depart to attend his grandfather’s funeral, Paris and Helen’s passionate affair plunges Sparta and Troy into war. (summary from good reads)

I really loved this heroic story of Anaxandra, who takes an epic journey from hostage to companion to a full princess, who owns an island. Set in the Aegean sea the author explores the beginnings of the Trojan war and what the events must have been like from the point of view of the woman involved. She portrays Helen as a powerful and cruel character, who wants the glory that comes when men lay down their lives for her.  She makes a terrifying enemy for Anaxandra, who must live in her household but avoid her notice as much as possible. When Helen leaves Sparta with Paris, Anaxandra  disguises herself as Hermione, Helen’s daughter, so that Hermione can escape. She watches over and protects Menelaus’ infant son, whom Paris wishes to kill.

When in the walls of Troy Anaxandra makes friends with Andromache, and Cassandra of Troy, whom the author portrays as real and sympathetic characters. I loved reading about Cassandra as I have always found her to be a fascinating and tragic sort of character. The novel did have a fair amount of violence that would make me suggest this book for the older teen set.  A great read for those that are currently enjoying the YA mythology craze.