Thursday, September 24, 2015

Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer | Audiobook Review

Eclipse (Twilight, #3)

Today I'm over at Tynga's Reviews, talking about why Eclipse was kind of a let-down after Twilight and New Moon.  To find out why, click on the cover image above.  (And never fear:  I've already started reading Breaking Dawn!  I'm going to see this through!)

*I checked out my copy of Eclipse from my local library.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith | Book Review

Grasshopper Jungle

Today I'm over at Tynga's Reviews, talking about my mixed feelings for this book.  Click on the cover image to see what's what!

*I received an ARC of Grasshopper Jungle from the publisher in exchange for my fair and honest review.  Thank you!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

What Janie Found by Caroline B. Cooney | Audiobook Review

What Janie Found (Janie Johnson, #4)

What Janie Found is the fourth book in the Janie Johnson series.  No spoilers for it below, but no promises that there won't be spoilers for the first three books.

Janie is still "recovering" from Reeve's betrayal in The Voice on the Radio when Frank Johnson suffers a bad stroke.  Suddenly she finds herself spending the summer going through her father's office, trying to piece together her parents' finances, and helping Miranda make decisions concerning their future.  Fortunately, she has begun to make up with Reeve, and he's now a friend again, and her NJ brother Brian has come to spend the summer with her.  So she's not alone as she works.  However, nothing could prepare Janie for what she finds in her father's "Paid Bills" drawer....

Poor Janie!  Things just never go right for her.  She finally has both of her families (sort of) sorted out, and then one father ends up in ICU.  She's starting to make up with Reeve, and planning her own college future, and then she has to interrupt her summer plans to help take care of her parents.  She's playing the dutiful daughter, helping out her parents, then she finds something in her father's study that could destroy both families all over again.

This book didn't advance Janie or Reeve very much, but it did introduce the reader more closely to Stephen Spring, who is attending college in Colorado.  I'm still not sure how I feel about Stephen.  He's a tough cookie to crack.  I think Cooney did a good job giving the reader plenty of material, but Stephen does not fit neatly into a box; no stereotype characters here!  He's complex, and I liked some parts of him and disliked others.

A small flaw with the book was the implausibility of one road trip.  I promised no spoilers, so I won't say who goes where, but I found it hard to believe that parents would just let teens go off very spontaneously on a trip without any supervision.  Especially when those families have been through everything that the Johnsons and Springs have been through.

Overall, another exciting thriller from Caroline B. Cooney.  I don't think this is my favorite of the series, but it does serve to advance the series and give character development; it's not a stagnant bridge book on the way to the finale.  Like the other books, this one won't be up for a Printz, but it's entertaining and gripping.

I listened to the audiobook of What Janie Found, and I give it a thumbs up, just like I did for The Voice on the Radio.  Same narrator, same clear voice and steady cadence.

*I checked out my copy of What Janie Found from my local library.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a fun meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  For more information, or to join the fun yourself, check out their blog!

Top Ten Random Loves!

These are ten books that I absolutely love, and would love for everyone else to read and love too.  I've read, or would be willing to read, most of these books many times over!  As you can see, I have pretty diverse reading habits.

Anne of Green Gables (Anne of Green Gables, #1)
1. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

At Home in Mitford (Mitford Years, #1)
2. At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon

The Monkey Wrench Gang (Monkey Wrench Gang, #1)
3. The Monkey Wrench Gang by Edward Abbey

The Hobbit (Middle-Earth Universe)
4. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Fellowship of the Ring (The Lord of the Rings, #1)The Two Towers (The Lord of the Rings, #2)The Return of the King (The Lord of the Rings, #3)
5. The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien (really; you can't like just one!)

The Gunslinger (The Dark Tower, #1)The Drawing of the Three (The Dark Tower, #2)The Waste Lands (The Dark Tower, #3)Wizard and Glass (The Dark Tower, #4)Wolves of the Calla (The Dark Tower, #5)Song of Susannah (The Dark Tower, #6)The Dark Tower (The Dark Tower, #7)
6. The Dark Tower series by Stephen King (another one that you can't like just one of)

Meet Felicity: An American Girl (The American Girls: Felicity, #1)
7. Meet Felicity by Valerie Tripp (this one's a throwback; read it a bunch of times as a kid)

Too Many Crooks Spoil the Broth (Pennsylvania Dutch Mystery, #1)
8. Too Many Crooks Spoil the Broth by Tamar Myers (love the whole series, really)

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Harry Potter, #1)
9. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling (another series I love, but this is my fave book)

Velva Jean Learns to Drive
10. Velva Jean Learns to Drive by Jennifer Niven

Thank you for visiting today!  Leave your link in the comments and I'll definitely come visit!  Excited to see what topics everyone chose!

Monday, September 14, 2015

The Voice on the Radio by Caroline B. Cooney | Audiobook Review

The Voice on the Radio (Janie Johnson, #3)

The Voice on the Radio is the third book in the Janie Johnson series; beware spoilers for the first two below, but I do promise no spoilers for this one.

It's been a little more than a year since Janie found her own picture on the milk carton, and life is finally settling into a slightly less chaotic pattern.  She still lives with the Johnsons, but she regularly visits the Springs, and some of the Spring siblings visit her.  Janie's life is alright, but she misses Reeve terribly.  He's gone off to college in Boston, where he takes a job working at the local college radio station.  One night he finds himself with a talk radio time slot, and an hour to kill.  Before he knows it, he's telling Janie's story to fill the time.

I'd venture to say that The Voice on the Radio is almost more Reeve's story than Janie's, which kind of breaks up what could become a rather self-centered series.  This book also allows the reader to get a feel for the story from Reeve's point of view.  (The Face on the Milk Carton is from Janie's point of view.)  We get to see how the kidnapping affected a very wide circle of people, even beyond the Johnsons and Springs.  Reeve was the perfect supportive boyfriend through it all, and that's emphasized in this book.  Both Reeve and Janie reminisce about how she would literally and physically lean into him for support during the investigation and aftermath.  This is Reeve's time; he's off at college, trying to find himself, and he makes a stupid mistake by telling Janie's story on the radio.

As an adult reading this book, I was equally outraged at Reeve for the breach of trust, and also a little sympathetic.  I mean, what teen/young adult hasn't made a stupid mistake?  He was too perfect in the first two books: it was almost unreal how patient he was with Janie and how he never seemed to need time to pursue his own interests or anything.  So I was mad at him for betraying Janie, and yet glad for him to be off at college pursuing an interest.

Janie isn't completely in the background on this one; the reader still gets to spend time in her thoughts too, and to see her character also grow and mature.  Particularly of note is the growth of strength in her relationships with Jody and Brian Spring.  They really become much closer in this book than they did in Whatever Happened to Janie?  

Like the two previous books, this one won't be winning a literary award but it's just such an entertaining series!  And for me, it was a delightful trip down memory lane, as I had begun the series when it was first released way back when.  :)

I listened to The Voice on the Radio rather than reading a physical copy, and I give the narration a thumbs up.  Nothing spectacular to note, but it was good.  Nice even tone and clear enunciation.

*I checked out my copy of The Voice on the Radio from my local library.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Whatever Happened to Janie? by Caroline B. Cooney | Book Review

Whatever Happened to Janie? (Janie Johnson, #2)

Flashback Friday Review!

As I mentioned last Friday, I read this book and The Face on the Milk Carton way back in middle school, but never finished the series.  Well, over the last couple of weeks I finished them up via audiobook, but I wanted to do flashback reviews of the first two first.

I remember loving these books, and reading them more than once.  I also remembered the plot and most of the characters; that really shows how much I was crazy into these books!  I do not remember these being Printz Award-worthy, but they could definitely win popularity contests.  I also vaguely remember feeling like this book was really necessary; like maybe The Face on the Milk Carton ended too abruptly?  Didn't matter; they're both pretty slender reads, and I definitely recommend them.

I don't think Goodreads was even around when I was in middle school, so I couldn't write a review, but here's the back cover synopsis:  No one ever paid attention to the faces of missing children on milk cartons.  But as Janie Johnson glanced at the face of the little girl who had been taken twelve years ago, she recognized that little girl-it was herself.

The mystery of the kidnapping is unraveled, but the nightmare is not over.  The Spring family wants justice, but who is to blame?  It's difficult to figure out what's best for everyone.

Janie Johnson or Janie Spring? There's enough love for everyone, but how can the two separate families live happily ever after?

*I read this a very long time ago, and can't remember if I borrowed Whatever Happened to Janie? from the library or from a friend.  :)

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Wicked Awakening of Anne Merchant by Joanna Wiebe | Book Review

Today I'm over at Tynga's Reviews, talking about The Wicked Awakening of Anne Merchant.  Click on the cover above to find out more!

*I was gifted my copy of The Wicked Awakening of Anne Merchant from a coworker.  Thank you!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a fun meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  For more information, or to join the fun yourself, check out their blog!

Top Ten Finished Series I Have Yet to Finish

Heist Society (Heist Society, #1)
1. Ally Carter's Heist Society trilogy.  (I've read #1 & #2; yet to read #3.)

Ink (Paper Gods, #1)
2. Amanda Sun's Paper Gods trilogy.  (I've read #1; yet to read #2 & #3.)

A Brief History of Montmaray (The Montmaray Journals, #1)
3. Michelle Cooper's Montmaray Journals trilogy.  (I've read #1; yet to read #2 & #3.)

The Color of Magic (Discworld, #1; Rincewind #1)
4. Terry Pratchett's Discworld series.  (I've read #1-#6; yet to read #7-#41.)

Beautiful Creatures (Caster Chronicles, #1)
5. Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl's Beautiful Creatures series.  (I've read #1; yet to read #2-#4.)

Twilight (Twilight, #1)
6. Stephenie Meyer's Twilight Saga.  (I've read #1 & #2; yet to read #3 & #4.)

Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, #1)
7. Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke & Bone series.  (I've read all the main series novels; yet to read the novella.)

Home to Holly Springs (Father Tim, #1)
8. Jan Karon's Father Tim books.  (I've read #1; yet to read #2.)

Taliesin (The Pendragon Cycle #1)
9. Stephen Lawhead's Pendragon Cycle.  (I've read #1 & #2; yet to read #3 & #4.)

The Amulet of Samarkand (Bartimaeus, #1)
10. Jonathan Stroud's Bartimaeous series.  (I've read #1 & #2; yet to read #3 & #4.)

And you?  What are the top ten finished series that you have yet to finish?

Friday, September 4, 2015

The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline B. Cooney | Book Review

The Face on the Milk Carton (Janie Johnson, #1)

Flashback Friday Review!

I first read The Face on the Milk Carton when I was in middle school and I loved it.  Me and a bajillion other middle school girls.  I went on to read the sequel, and I believe I read those two over and over again, but I never did make the leap into the third, fourth, or fifth for whatever reason.  Now I'm an adult and I needed some audiobooks for the commute, and so I downloaded the rest of the series.  Before I review those, I'm "completing the record" by doing Flashback Friday reviews of The Face on the Milk Carton and Whatever Happened to Janie?  

As I mentioned, I originally read this when I was in middle school.  I bet Goodreads wasn't even around then!  So I don't have much of a review.  I remember being fascinated by the story, and I think I might have even owned a copy.  If it was anything like the last three books in the series, it wasn't going to win any literary awards, but it definitely won popularity awards.  And it's long-lasting!  We still have these books on our shelves at the library today.

Here's the synopsis from the jacket:  The face on the milk carton looks like an ordinary little girl: hair in tight pigtails, a dress with a narrow white collar, a three-year-old who was kidnapped more than twelve years ago from a shopping mall in New Jersey.

As fifteen-year-old Janie Johnson stares at the milk carton, she feels overcome with shock.  She knows that little girl is she.  But how could it be true?

Janie can't believe that her loving parents kidnapped her, until she begins to piece together clues that don't make sense.  Why are there no pictures of Janie before she was four?  Her parents have always said they didn't have a camera.  Now that explanation feels feeble.  Something is terribly wrong, and Janie is afraid to find out what happened more than twelve years ago.

In this gripping page-turner, the reader will unravel-as Janie does-the twisted events that changed the lives of two families forever.

*I can't remember:  I either owned my copy of The Face on the Milk Carton, borrowed it from the library, or borrowed it from a friend.  I was about twelve.  :)

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Fire in the Sea by Myke Bartlett | Book Review

Fire in the Sea by Myke Bartlett

Today I'm over at Tynga's Reviews, talking about what I loved and what I didn't quite feel about Fire in the Sea.  Click on the cover image to read more!

*I received a copy of Fire in the Sea from the publisher in exchange for my fair and honest review.  Thank you!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Penguins With People Problems by Mary Laura Philpott | Book Review

Penguins with People Problems

This book is really short, so the review will be too, but I HAD to write about it:  it's hilarious and adorable!  In fact, everyone should go check this book out at a bookstore or library.

The author takes penguins (see front cover) and illustrates them experiencing "people problems."  For instance, there's a penguin who exercises self-control by having Greek yogurt.... topped with nuts, chocolate, and marshmallows.  Or the penguin who doesn't know that his new spray tan does not look natural.

My sister and I love, love, love the Going for the Bronze books, and this book is the perfect addition to that kind of collection!  Lighthearted and cute; a recommendation for anyone.

*I checked out my copy of Penguins With People Problems from my local library.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a fun meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  For more information, or to join the fun yourself, check out their blog!

Top Ten Characters I Just Didn't Click With

Lingering Echoes (Lingering Echoes, #1)
1. Allie from Lingering Echoes by Erica Kiefer.

The Miniaturist
2. Nella from The Miniaturist by Jessi Burton.

Somebody Up There Hates You
3. Two birds with one stone: Ritchie and Sylvie from Somebody Up There Hates You by Hollis Seamon.

Where She Went (If I Stay, #2)
4. Mia from Where She Went by Gayle Forman.  Interesting note: I actually liked her better in If I Stay.  When she was in a coma.  So I guess that doesn't say much.

Guy in Real Life
5. Lesh from Guy in Real Life by Steve Brezenoff.

City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments, #1)City of Ashes (The Mortal Instruments, #2)City of Glass (The Mortal Instruments, #3)City of Fallen Angels (The Mortal Instruments, #4)City of Lost Souls (The Mortal Instruments, #5)City of Heavenly Fire (The Mortal Instruments, #6)
6. Clary from the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare.  I liked the guys better.

Summer House with Swimming Pool
7. All of the adults in Summer House With Swimming Pool by Herman Koch.

Marked (House of Night #1)Betrayed (House of Night, #2)Chosen (House of Night #3)Untamed (House of Night #4)Hunted (House of Night, #5)Tempted (House of Night, #6)Burned (House of Night, #7)Awakened (House of Night, #8)Destined (House of Night, #9)Hidden (House of Night, #10)Revealed (House of Night, #11)
8. Zoey from the House of Night series by P.C. and Kristin Cast.

Easy (Contours of the Heart, #1)
9. Jacqueline from Easy by Tammara Webber.

Austenland (Austenland, #1)
10. Jane from Austenland by Shannon Hale.

What about you?  What characters have you just not clicked with?