Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Candace Reviews Necromancing the Stone by Lish McBride

Necromancing the Stone (Necromancer #2) by Lish McBride
Hardcover, 342 pages
Published: Sept 18th, 2012 by Henry Holt
Source: Purchased

With the defeat of the evil Douglas behind him, Sam LaCroix is getting used to his new life. Okay, so he hadn’t exactly planned on being a powerful necromancer with a seat on the local magical council and a capricious werewolf sort-of-girlfriend, but things are going fine, right?

Well . . . not really. He’s pretty tired of getting beat up by everyone and their mother, for one thing, and he can’t help but feel that his new house hates him. His best friend is a werebear, someone is threatening his sister, and while Sam realizes that he himself has a lot of power at his fingertips, he’s not exactly sure how to use it. Which, he has to admit, is a bit disconcerting.

But when everything starts falling apart, he decides it’s time to step up and take control. His attempts to do so just bring up more questions, though, the most important of which is more than a little alarming: Is Douglas really dead?
 This review will also be posted at Candace's Book Blog.
 Excuse me for a moment... Oh, sorry- I just had to go do a bit more squealing... So far I just can't seem to get it out of my system.  All the jumping and happy dancing just isn't doing it.  So hopefully this over the top raving about this book will help a bit. 

I love, no, I ADORE, this book.  I loved Hold Me Closer, Necromancer, but it's not nearly as good as this book was.  This book had me laughing so hard I nearly peed.  But it also had me crying big fat crocodile tears.  Oh, don't worry, this isn't a sad book, not really.  It had a moment or two though.  And really, I just want you all to know that this book will really bring out the full range of emotions.  There were the laugh-so-hard-you-pee moments, the cry-till-you-run-out-of-tears moments, and the grip-the-edge-of-your-seat moments.  If you remember my review of the first book you may remember that I was expecting funny but not the serious.  I was actually expecting MORE funny though.  Well, that funny delivered in this one.  It made up for any lack of funny in the first (even though it still had plenty of funny).  

This book delivered on all fronts for me, but I'm starting with characters.  I love a good male POV and Sam is a fabulous MC.  He's funny (HILARIOUS inner voice) and he's kind, and sweet and he's just someone you can't help but love.  He's not perfect, but that makes him more real.  He makes mistakes, he doesn't see the whole picture sometimes, and he's not real kick ass, yet.  But he's getting there.  He's growing as a character.  

All the side characters, from the pukis James, to the best friend werebear, Ramon, to the were hound/werewolf sort-of-girlfriend.  They all delivered.  Each and every character has a distinct personality and I couldn't help but love each and every one.  Now, there are a ton of new characters in this book, but they are more background then forefront.  But they add a lot of humor to the book.  And they just stand out with their ridiculous personalities.  These new characters are a full range of supernatural creatures.  From gnomes, to minotaurs, to big foot and chupacabra.  There's not much, if anything, that's been left out. But instead of it being too much, it's just right.  I think that's because this book is a bit over the top.  Some things are slightly ridiculous, some are more tongue-in-cheek humor.  But it all just goes so well, so perfect.
The plot side of things also delivered 100%.  We see things from more angles than Sam so we know when things are right in front of him, when he needs to open his eyes and see what's going on.  We see when someone might be betraying him (even though we're not sure cause it seems like there's more to it...) and we scream out to warn him.  We know that things aren't going to be pretty cause we see them coming before him.  This is because we get chapters (short ones) with the bad guy.  So we get an idea of what he's planning.  At the same time we see some of his memories and it explains some things about why he became what he became, etc.  It humanizes him a bit more and we see him as more than just a villain.  I love when authors do this.  And in this case we don't exactly grow to like him, but we see him a bit differently.

I honestly cannot possibly recommend this book any more highly.  It's one that I actually wanted to turn over and just start rereading again.  And how often does that happen?  I am totally in love with these characters and this world and I will scream to the world "READ THIS BOOK!" for many months (probably even years) to come.  And I really hope the author is writing more.  I really don't know as the book is pretty well tied up and there's not really any (or many) strings left open.  But there's always more that could be done and I have my fingers crossed that it's one that goes on...and on... and on...

One thing I want to point out is that while this is marketed as YA, and fits that fine as far as appropriateness goes, the characters are college age and on their own.  It also has a tad bit of a feel of adult urban fantasy.  I say it's a perfect mix of YA urban fantasy and adult urban fantasy and that just elevates it even more for me.  I probably wouldn't recommend this for younger readers as there's some heavy stuff going on and it gets a bit bloody in the first book.  There's also a bit of bad language (but what teen doesn't hear bad language everyday?).  I guess I'd say if a person is super sensitive to content you may want to be cautious.

This is going on my favorites of 2012 list, FOR SURE.

Candace is a wife and mother to two. She’s blogged at Candace’s Book Blog since November 2008. She enjoys a variety of genres including anything and everything young adult, some adult urban fantasy, a little bit of adult paranormal romance, some historical fiction and reads lots of childrens books. You can find her on her blog at, twitter @candacemom2two and on goodreads.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Guest Post with Linda Benson and Giveaway of Walking the Dog

 Today we have Linda Benson is on the blog with a Guest Post as well as a giveaway!

Can animals help kids get through difficult situations with their undivided love? I believe many of us can attest to this. Do animals in stories make hard topics easier for young people to read about and sort through?
My newest novel, Walking the Dog, at first glance appears to be about the soulful looking dog on the cover. Make no mistake, there are plenty of dogs in this story: therapy dogs, animal shelter dogs, rambunctious teenage dogs, and even one independent orange cat. But the main storyline is about two kids, Sophie and Jared, and their attempts to deal with some very adult problems. Told in Jared’s voice (a typical kid who struggles with math and has a pesky kid brother) - here is the first paragraph:

Rumors float around about Sophie from the day she arrives. We hear things whispered in the hallway and on the playground. Most kids don’t change schools this late in the year, when we can almost taste summer and freedom. Sophie got transferred here to get out of a difficult situation. Something bad happened to her.

Want more? A short synopsis:

Jared is smitten when his teacher seats the new girl, Sophie, right next to him. Even with the scar running up the side of her face, Jared thinks she’s the most beautiful girl in the entire fifth grade. But why did she transfer here so late in the year? Rumors say something bad happened to her.

Jared and Sophie become friends while walking the guidance counselor’s new puppy, but when his parents object to this arrangement, Jared fabricates a series of elaborate lies to meet Sophie on the sly. But little brothers can be pests. First Petey lets the orange cat loose at the animal shelter where Jared and Sophie have been secretly walking the dogs. Then Petey turns up missing.

And Sophie's past finally catches up with her.

Walking the Dog is a hopeful, coming-of-age, animal-filled friendship story that also deals with bullying and the aftermath of child abuse. It’s a short novel that packs a punch, and I hope you’ll give it a try today. Available as an ebook almost everywhere – only $2.99.




Musa Publishing:

Linda Benson is the author of several middle grade and young adult books, including Walking the Dog, Six Degrees of Lost, The Girl Who Remembered Horses, Finding Chance, and The Horse Jar.

Her passion for nature and animals often finds its way into her writing. She has been a veterinary assistant, zoo keeper, race track groom, realtor, children’s librarian, and owned both a native plant nursery and a saddle shop.

Ms. Benson lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and a variety of animals, all of them adopted. When she's not petting a dog, cat, horse, or donkey, traipsing through the woods, or enjoying a good glass of wine, she's most likely working on her next book.
To find out more -
Visit her website:

Linda is giving away one ebook copy of Walking the Dog to one lucky winner.
Open internationally.
Must be 13 or older to enter.
Ends 11/25/12
Just leave a comment to enter.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Candace Reviews North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley

 North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley
Hardcover, 373 pgs.
Published Feb. 1st, 2009 by Little, Brown
Reading Level: Young Adult
Source: Purchased

As he continued to stare, I wanted to point to my cheek and remind him, But you were the one who wanted this, remember? You're the one who asked-and I repeat-Why not fix your face?

It's hard not to notice Terra Cooper.
She's tall, blond, and has an enviable body. But with one turn of her cheek, all people notice is her unmistakably "flawed" face. Terra secretly plans to leave her stifling small town in the Northwest and escape to an East Coast college, but gets pushed off-course by her controlling father. When an unexpected collision puts Terra directly in Jacob's path, the handsome but quirky Goth boy immediately challenges her assumptions about herself and her life, and she is forced in yet another direction. With her carefully laid plans disrupted, will Terra be able to find her true path?
Written in lively, artful prose, award-winning author Justina Chen Headley has woven together a powerful novel about a fractured family, falling in love, travel, and the meaning of true beauty.

This review was first posted at Candace's Book Blog.
We all have books that hit us profoundly.  Ones that may have us bursting into tears at random moments even when we're not even reading the book just because we thought of something in the book that was so sad, or so amazing or just so perfect.  Books don't have to be sad to make me cry.  And this was one of those books.  I cried a little in the first half, which was definitely darker and more full of bad things,  but cried lots in the second half which was full of discovery and more happier moments.  It was the discovery of them finding bits and pieces of themselves, of them remembering, of them discovering that really moved me to tears.  
This book is about Terra and Terra has a birthmark on the side of her face.  It's big and purple and very very obvious.  She's an expert at hiding.  Not only her face but from her father who is very verbally abusive. He's a bully and he spends his time putting down his wife and his child and ordering them about to do his bidding.  He is cruel and he made me so so angry.  I felt so bad for Terra and almost even worse for her mother who had to deal with him even more.  This story is not only Terra's, it is her mothers as well.  She's completely lost herself and eats for comfort, resulting in lots of weight gain and a very low self esteem.  And her husband is constantly nagging at her and calling her names.  She feels like she has no choice but to stay with him and has no strength left to do anything else.  At least that's what she thinks....
Terra and her mother run into Jacob and his mother {nearly quite literally} and this unexpected event created an unexpected friendship which leads their lives in completely unexpected directions.  This is a friendship {Jacob and Terra as well as Jacobs mother and Terra's mother} that is certainly life changing.  And while Jacob has a bit of his own journey to embark on he becomes a rock for Terra.  He is more laid back and go with the flow while Terra is a planner and has to have things prepared ahead of time.  Jacob helps her in discovering what is important and what true beauty really is.  
All the characters in this book were amazing.  They all had their own journey's of self discovery.  While it's told from Terra we still watch what the others go through, especially her mother.  I actually loved how the author told it through Terra but still managed to do a fantastic job in making it about so much more then just her.  This is the kind of book that even adults who don't read YA may enjoy, mothers especially. 
This is a book that resonates.  That really sticks with you.  Days, weeks, months, even years later you'll remember bits and pieces of it and the wonderful messages that come through and it'll give you just a little bit of strength to push you through whatever obstacle you may be facing at that time.  It reminds you about what beauty really is.  It gives you strength to pursue dreams you may have been afraid to go after.  It reminds you to follow your heart.  
This was a pretty clean read with little to no swearing, no sex {just a little kissing} and no physical violence {just verbal abuse but with no cursing}.   
This is a book that goes on my top 10 list.  Yes, I loved it that much.  Please, please, please do me a favor and read this book.  Tell your mothers, your sisters, your friends.  Tell the world, read this book.  
Note: I reviewed this almost exactly one year ago on November 11, 2011.  I still remember the book very well (which is rare since I read so much) and it still affects me the way it did back then.  It really is an amazing book if it stuck with me so strongly for over a year.
Find the author on her website.
And in looking her up I discovered she has a new book coming out! I have been waiting, so this is GREAT news!
Expected Publication is Jan. 15th, 2013.
Nothing is going as planned for Rebecca Muir. She's weeks away from starting college--at a school chosen specifically to put a few thousand miles of freedom between Reb and her parents. But her dad's last-minute job opportunity has her entire family moving all those miles with her! And then there's the matter of her unexpected, amazing boyfriend, Jackson, who is staying behind on the exact opposite coast.
And if that isn't enough to deal with, mere days after moving cross-country, Reb's dad drops shocking, life-changing news. With her mother and brother overwhelmed and confused, Reb is left alone to pick up the pieces of her former life. But how can she do that when everything can change in an instant? How can she trust her "perfect" boyfriend when her own dad let her down? Reb started the year knowing exactly what her future would hold, but now that her world has turned upside down, will she discover what she really wants?
Justina Chen, the acclaimed author of North of Beautiful, has created a moving and powerful novel about the struggles that arise from betrayal, the uncertainty of life after high school, and the joy that ultimately comes from discovering what's truly in your heart.
Doesn't it sound amazing?!

Candace is a wife and mother to two. She’s blogged at Candace’s Book Blog since November 2008. She enjoys a variety of genres including anything and everything young adult, some adult urban fantasy, a little bit of adult paranormal romance, some historical fiction and reads lots of childrens books. You can find her on her blog at, twitter @candacemom2two and on goodreads.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Lost Code: Book 1 of the Atlanteans by @KCEmerson

The Lost Code (The Atlanteans #1) by Kevin Emerson
Hardcover, 435 pages
Published May 22, 2012 by Katherine Tegan Books
Source: ARC from bookstore I work at

In the year 2086, Camp Eden promises summer “the way things used to be,” back before the oceans rose, the sun became a daily enemy, and modern civilization sank into chaos. Located inside the EdenWest BioDome, the camp is an oasis of pine trees, cool water, and rustic charm.
But all at Camp Eden is not what it seems.
No one will know this better than 15-year-old Owen Parker. A strange underwater vision, even stranger wounds on Owen’s neck, and a cryptic warning from the enchanting lifeguard Lilly hint at a mystery that will take Owen deep beneath Lake Eden and even deeper into the past. What he discovers could give him the chance to save the tattered planet. But first, Owen will have to escape Camp Eden alive…

Do you remember going to camp when you were younger?  I do, I went to Abraham Lincoln camp in Iowa when I was 12 or 13.  I still remember the horse back riding, swimming in the lake, creating crafts and learning gymnastics.  What did you do at camp?  I'm going to guess that your camp was not held in a Dome of some sort.  Or even that you had to be part of a drawing to win a place there.

Owen is one such lucky camper.  He wins a chance to experience a place with grass, swimming in a lake and seeing bugs he's never seen before.  Well, if you call the experience Owen has at Camp Eden as lucky after reading this story then we will have to talk.

I started this book a few days after I met Kevin, the author you silly people, at Wordstock in Portland.  It was interesting to hear his camp stories and see photos, yes ACTUAL photos of his cabin mates at camp.  After hearing Kevin talk about his camp days and 'The Lost Code' I was intrigued.  I wanted to find out what happened at Camp Eden.  Plus, Kevin is a really funny guy, so I knew his book was going to a fun read.

The book starts out with Owen drowning during his swim test.  Well, come on people, he lives, so I'm not ruining a plot line here.  Owen is injured when he makes it out of the lake and things change.  He is injured but talked into lying by Lilly, the hot lifeguard.  Well come on, this book is from Owen's perspective and he thinks she's hot.  So of course, he does what she asks and lies to the Doctor who is checking him.  This event is what turns the book into a thriller.  Okay there is a little bit of romance and a ton of adventure.  Sneaking out in the middle of the night, building confidence, and exploring places that are dangerous.  This is my kind of book.  It has everything to keep me reading.

The characters, Lilly, Owen, Dr. Maria, Leech and Paul, the camp director, are all interesting and have great backstories.  Throughout the book I enjoyed trying to figure out if the different characters were going to be someone to trust or not.  I was definitely surprised by a few of them, when it turned out they were the opposite of what I thought originally.

I went away from this book tweeting to Kevin about how excited I was to read the next one, 'The Dark Shore', which comes out next May 2013.  I think I might end up moving to Seattle and camping on his doorstep in order to get a copy.  But at least he is near Theo Chocolate so I will have sustenance!

About the author: Kevin is the author of the OLIVER NOCTURNE series and CARLOS IS GONNA GET IT. His next novel, THE LOST CODE, the first book in the Atlanteans series, comes out in May 2012 with Katherine Tegen Books. His next middle grade novel, THE FELLOWSHIP FOR ALIEN DETECTION, comes out in January 2013 with Walden Pond Press.

Kevin is also a musician. His current project is THE BOARD OF EDUCATION, where he writes imaginative, poppy songs about elementary school and life in the spirit of Schoolhouse Rock.

Find Kevin at: Goodreads and Twitter and of course his website!

Disclosure: I picked up this ARC at the bookstore I work at and all opinions expressed are my own.  Unfortunately, Kevin has not bribed me with Theo Chocolate to write this review.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Lindsey Lost Review by Suzanne Marie Phillips

Lindsey Lost by Suzanne Marie Phillips
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published September 13, 2012 by Viking Children's
Source: ARC from my bookstore

The Bourne Identity meets I Am the Cheese in this taut thriller

Even though Micah’s a star pitcher, his older sister Lindsey is the real deal—a runner so good, she has a shot at the Olympics. The two of them urge each other on, and are each other’s best support. Then the unthinkable happens: Lindsey is murdered, and Micah may have been the last person to see her. But he can’t remember what happened, no matter what their parents tell him, no matter what the police say. Did he witness his sister’s murder—or commit it? Can he recall the truth before his life is sentenced to end, too?

Ok first of all I am in love with this cover.  I love the creativity in the 'font' they used for the title.  In fact, take a minute and look at it yourself.  Go on, I'll wait.   What do you think of it?  It's quite enjoyable when covers include non-typical fonts.  Anyway, onto the book itself.

Micah and his older sister Lindsey are both strong in their sports, baseball and running, respectively.  Micah is given more freedom then his sister which is obvious at the beginning of the book.  He is worried about Lindsey who doesn't seem quite herself.  The real question is which pressure is getting to Lindsey the most?  Coach Kelly (her running coach), her father (seriously he is stressful to me!) or her boyfriend  Reed (who doesn't understand why Lindsey turned him down for prom) or maybe it's something else?

This book is completely from Micah's point of view.  I enjoy reading from his point of view, he includes his school day, thoughts about his girlfriend Vivian, and trying to remember what exactly happened when his sister Lindsey doesn't come home.  Micah deals with traumatic memory loss.  His greatest fear being that he killed Lindsey himself.  But as he relives again and again more of what happened that day the twists including others surprised me into reading this book as quickly as I could.  I wanted to know did Micah kill her?  If not him, who had the greatest motive?

You will want to read this story to find out what really happened the day Lindsey was lost.

Find more here about Lindsey Lost or see what other people are saying about the book: Goodreads

***Disclaimer- I did not buy this book, I was able to get the ARC of it from the bookstore I work at. I am not being compensated nor was I asked to write about it. All thoughts and opinions are my own.