Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson

Rating: 4/5 Hoots

Release Date: April 26, 2011

Summary from
Ginny Blackstone thought that the biggest adventure of her life was behind her. She spent last summer traveling around Europe, following the tasks her aunt Peg laid out in a series of letters before she died. When someone stole Ginny's backpack—and the last little blue envelope inside—she resigned herself to never knowing how it was supposed to end.
Months later, a mysterious boy contacts Ginny from London, saying he's found her bag. Finally, Ginny can finish what she started. But instead of ending her journey, the last letter starts a new adventure—one filled with old friends, new loves, and once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Ginny finds she must hold on to her wits . . . and her heart. This time, there are no instructions.

My Review:

I adored Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes, so I was thrilled to be able to get The Last Little Blue Envelope from NetGalley. This book was a lovely follow-up to the original. We pick up with Ginny, more mature and willing to take risks after her first European adventure, but struggling to capture that experience in a meaningful way in her college application essays. The adventure with the final envelope from her Aunt Peg gives her an opportunity to figure out a few more things about herself, her aunt,  and her future. In this book Ginny doesn't experience as much personal growth and change as she did in the first one, but she is able to use her new strengths to cope with the ups and downs she experiences as she follows the last letter's instructions.

Readers who loved the European travel in Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes will be pleased that the spirit of adventure and spontanaeity is prevalent in this book too. It is so much fun to read about Ginny's travels!

My favorite aspect of the book is the cast of characters. Each of them are unique and well-developed. My absolute favorite character is Ginny's uncle Richard, he is so sweet and funny and he is always there for Ginny. It is also fun (but bittersweet) to get to know Ginny's Aunt Peg through her letters and through the memories her friends share about her. I could totally relate to Ginny's experience with Ellis, her maybe-boyfriend's maybe-girlfriend...she is too sweet and bubbly to dislike, no matter how much you want to! The only character I was disappointed in was Keith...I felt that he was a little over the top with bullying Oliver and it was hard to see what Ginny found attractive about him.

The romance in the story was was a little bit predictable but still satisfying, with a wonderful kiss too!

Overall, The Last Little Blue Envelope was a great read, with elements of romance, adventure and self-discovery that readers will love.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

In My Mailbox (#4)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.
Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin (GoodReads)

From the Library:
Strings Attached by Judy Blundell (GoodReads)
Confessions of a Not It Girl by Melissa Kantor (GoodReads)
Little Princes by Conor Grennan (GoodReads)
The Hidden Gallery (Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place, #2) by Maryrose Wood (GoodReads)
From NetGalley:
Wherever You Go by Heather Davis (GoodReads)
The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross (GoodReads)
68 Knots by Michael Roberts Evans (GoodReads)
Two Moon Princess by Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban (GoodReads)

Sorry for the lack of posting this week...I have been doing a lot of reading though! I have reviews in the works for: 

Sharks & Boys by Kristen Tracy (GoodReads)
The Magnolia League by Katie Crouch (GoodReads)
My Soul to Take by Rachel Vincent (GoodReads)
The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson (GoodReads)

Please check back this week to see reviews of these great books and more!

Thanks and Happy Reading!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

In My Mailbox (#3)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren. This week I received lots of great books from the library- a lot of books I had been waiting for finally came in! I also got some amazing ARCs from NetGalley, and one ARC in the mail that looks awesome too!

From Library:
The Iron Thorn by Caitlin Kittredge (GoodReads)
Across the Universe by Beth Revis (GoodReads)
Demonglass (Hex Hall #2) by Rachel Hawkins (My Review|GoodReads)
Jenna & Johnah's Fauxmance by Emily Franklin & Brendan Halpin (GoodReads)
My Soul to Take (Soul Screamers #1) by Rachel Vincent (GoodReads)
Desires of the Dead (Body Finder #2) by Kimberly Derting (My Review | GoodReads)

From NetGalley:
Bumped by Megan McCafferty (GoodReads)
Hereafter by Tara Hudson (GoodReads)
Putting Makeup on Dead People by Jen Violi (GoodReads)
Queen of the Dead (Ghost & the Goth #2) by Stacey Kade (GoodReads)
Sharks & Boys by Kristin Tracy (GoodReads)
Shine by Lauren Myracle (GoodReads)
The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson (GoodReads)
The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab (GoodReads)

ARC for review:
Falling for Hamlet by Michelle Ray (GoodReads)
I am reading My Soul to Take  and Sharks & Boys right now, so look for those reviews coming soon!

Have a great week of reading, everyone!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Demonglass by Rachel Hawking

Demonglass (Hex Hall #2) by Rachel Hawkins

Rating: 5/5 Hoots

Release Date: March 1, 2011 Summary:
Sophie Mercer thought she was a witch.

That was the whole reason she was sent to Hex Hall, a reform school for delinquent Prodigium (aka witches, shapeshifters, and fairies). But that was before she discovered the family secret, and that her hot crush, Archer Cross, is an agent for The Eye, a group bent on wiping Prodigium off the face of the earth.

Turns out, Sophie’s a demon, one of only two in the world—the other being her father. What’s worse, she has powers that threaten the lives of everyone she loves. Which is precisely why Sophie decides she must go to London for the Removal, a dangerous procedure that will destroy her powers.

But once Sophie arrives she makes a shocking discovery. Her new friends? They’re demons too. Meaning someone is raising them in secret with creepy plans to use their powers, and probably not for good. Meanwhile, The Eye is set on hunting Sophie down, and they’re using Archer to do it. But it’s not like she has feelings for him anymore. Does she?

My Review:
I absolutely loved Demonglass! I read Hex Hall last year, and while I enjoyed it I wasn't overly impressed. Maybe I was just in a funk when I read the first book, because I adored this one! Sophie is such a fun, compelling character. I love her sarcastic sense of humor- something she and I definitely have in common! Many of her one-liners had me laughing out loud. In Demonglass, one of the things she struggles a bit with is learning who she should trust- she has been betrayed before, or so it seems, and many of the people in her world are not who they seem.

Sophie's friends and family are great as well- Jenna is a supportive, loyal BFF, plus she is an uber-girly, pink-loving vampire- what a combo! Nick and Daisy are creepy, but so interesting! And who could forget the TWO swoon-worthy guys- Archer, the heartbreaker she fell for in book 1, and  Cal, the cute, quiet boy with a talent for healing and growing things. You can't go wrong with those two! Sophie gets to know her father better in this book as well, and there is a lot more to him than we saw in the first book!

Another issue that Sophie is working through in this book is learning to embrace her demon side. It is hard for her to decide whether to risk eventually hurting someone and keeping her powers or to attempt going through the Removal to ensure she never does. Although the demon aspect of the story is truly unique, I think teens will relate to Sophie's struggle to reconcile all the different parts of her self.

The story was fast-paced and quickly drew me in.  Hawkins deftly weaves together elements of friendship, romance, politics and self discovery to create a story I did not want to leave. I was reading it on my lunch break and I hated to put it down and go back to work! I had to finish it as soon as I got home. 

I hope the next book is coming out soon, because I cannot wait to find out what happens to Sophie and her friends!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Desires of the Dead by Kimberly Derting

Desires of the Dead (The Body Finder #2)

Rating: 5/5 Hoots

Release Date: February 15, 2011 Summary:
The missing dead call to Violet. They want to be found.
Violet can sense the echoes of those who've been murdered—and the matching imprint that clings to their killers. Only those closest to her know what she is capable of, but when she discovers the body of a young boy she also draws the attention of the FBI, threatening her entire way of life.
As Violet works to keep her morbid ability a secret, she unwittingly becomes the object of a dangerous obsession. Normally she'd turn to her best friend, Jay, except now that they are officially a couple, the rules of their relationship seem to have changed. And with Jay spending more and more time with his new friend Mike, Violet is left with too much time on her hands as she wonders where things went wrong. But when she fills the void by digging into Mike's tragic family history, she stumbles upon a dark truth that could put everyone in danger.

My Review:
I adored The Body Finder and had been eagerly awaiting its sequel, Desires of the Dead. I am happy to report that I was not disappointed!   Desires of the Dead had the same spooky, suspenseful tone as The Body Finder. I have read some great books lately, but this is the first one in a while that I truly could not put down. I had to find out what would happen to Violet next!

In this book Violet is being threatened by an unknown classmate and also trying to come to terms with her peculiar gift to sense and locate the dead. Over the course of the book she begins to change the way she views herself and her talent- she begins to see it as something which could be useful, instead of a curse that she is saddled with. I really enjoyed that element of growth in Violet.

The mystery/suspense elements of the book were great too. I kept thinking I had figured it out, then I would turn a page and *GASP* it wasn't who I thought it was! Plus, the book opens with a terrifying scene, and then goes back several weeks and covers all the events leading up to it, so you are already afraid for Violet from page one and have to wait over the whole book to see if she can get herself out of it.

In addition to the great suspense and character development, the romance in Desires of the Dead is very sweet as well. Violet and Jay experience some ups and downs and go through many changes in their relationship which I think many teen readers will be able to relate too. Jay is such a thoughtful and romantic boyfriend for Violet- he makes a great book crush!

The only thing that I found to be a little distracting in Desires of the Dead is how much time is devoted to describing Violet's obnoxious BFF Chelsea and her crush on the new guy, Mike. Otherwise, it was an excellent book that it is easy to become completely absorbed in!

I would pair Desires of the Dead with the Touch series by Laurie Faria Stolarz, All Unquiet Things by Anna Jarzab, The Space Between Trees by Katie Williams, and the Pretty Little Liars series by Sara Shepard.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Darkest Mercy by Melissa Marr

Darkest Mercy by Melissa Marr

 Rating: 4/5 Hoots

Release Date: Feb. 22, 2011 Summary:
The Summer King is missing; the Dark Court is bleeding; and a stranger walks the streets of Huntsdale, his presence signifying the deaths of powerful fey.
Aislinn tends to the Summer Court, searching for her absent king and yearning for Seth. Torn between his new queen and his old love, Keenan works from afar to strengthen his court against the coming war. Donia longs for fiery passion even as she coolly readies the Winter Court for battle. And Seth, sworn brother of the Dark King and heir to the High Queen, is about to make a mistake that could cost his life.
Love, despair, and betrayal ignite the Faery Courts, and in the final conflict, some will win . . . and some will lose everything.
The thrilling conclusion to Melissa Marr's New York Times bestselling Wicked Lovely series will leave readers breathless.

My Review:
Darkest Mercy was an exciting and highly satisfying conclusion to the Wicked Lovely series. Just as she did in her previous books, Melissa Marr creates a beautiful, dangerous world that draws the reader in. The juxtaposition of beauty and cruelty in faerie is fascinating. Marr also explores the fine line between love and hate and sanity and madness.

I loved the strength of the female characters in this book. Aislinn is finally coming into her own as the Summer Queen and Donia, who has always been strong, is now the toughest and most stable of all the regents and always puts her court first above her own desires. Even the story's ruthless antagaonist, Bananach, is awesome in her own, evil way.

I don't want to spoil the ending for anyone, so I won't go into how all of our favorite characters end up. I will say that I was thrilled with the final outcome and loved how all the storylines of the previous books came together. The only character that I wanted to know more about was Ani- after hearing so much about her in Radiant Shadows I was surprised that she didn't appear more in this book.

The only thing that kept me from giving it 5/5 hoots was that I spent the first half trying to remember who everyone was and what their motivations were, and how things stood at the end of the last book. It's my own fault, but I think I would have enjoyed Darkest Mercy more if I had re-read at least some of the earlier books in the series. I would definitely say the whole series is worth reareading and I will probably revisit all of the books later.

I would pair this book with Wondrous Strange by Lesley Livingston, Glimmerglass by Jenna Black and Lament by Maggie Stiefvater.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

In My Mailbox 3/7/11-3/13/11

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren.

I didn't get many hardcopy books this week, but I did get several ebooks from my library and Netgalley.

From library: 
Close to Famous- Joan Bauer (reviewed earlier this week)
Evernight- Claudia Gray (ebook)
Fairy Tale- Cyn Balog (ebook)
Gone- Michael Grant (ebook)
Once Dead, Twice Shy- Kim Harrison (ebook)
Touch- Francine Prose (ebook)
Vampire Academy- Richelle Mead (ebook)
Please Ignore Vera Dietz- A.S. King (ebook)

From NetGalley:
The Goddess Test- Aimee Carter (ebook)
Magnolia League- Katie Crouch (ebook)

Rumors- Anna Godberson

That's it this week! Can't wait to see what everyone else received!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Close to Famous by Joan Bauer

Close to Famous

Rating: 3.5/5 Hoots

Release Date: February 2011

Summary from 

Foster McFee dreams of having her own cooking show like her idol, celebrity chef Sonny Kroll. Macon Dillard's goal is to be a documentary filmmaker. Foster's mother Rayka longs to be a headliner instead of a back-up singer. And Miss Charleena plans a triumphant return to Hollywood. Everyone has a dream, but nobody is even close to famous in the little town of Culpepper. Until some unexpected events shake the town and its inhabitantsÑand put their big ambitions to the test. Full of humor, unforgettable characters, surprises, and lots and lots of heart, this is Joan Bauer at her most engaging.

My Review:

Close to Famous is a warm and fuzzy, read-it-in-one-sitting book. Main character Foster McFee is a future Food Network star who not only excels at baking but at bringing people together with her confections. She is spunky, sweet and wise beyond her years. The book offers a slice (or should I say a cupcake?) of small town life, with a great cast of supporting characters. Miss Charleena, the cranky, retired Hollywood actress who opens her heart to Foster after learning that she has trouble reading; Angry Wayne the gruff bar/restaurant owner who stocks Foster's cupcakes; Perseverence who works tirelessly to save the town church; and Foster's talented and loving mama Rayka are just a few of the wonderful inhabitants of Culpepper, West Virginia. Foster and the rest of the Culpepper inhabitants aren't afraid to dream big, and they begin to see that ambition pay off over the course of the book. I read a review on GoodReads that likened the town to the Gilmore Girls' Stars Hollow, and I think that is a great way to describe it.
The characters and relationships really make this book stand out. I also loved that the Bookmobile librarian had a cameo! It is great when author's include positive portrayals of librarians! :-)

Close to Famous had lots of sweet moments that resulted in many wonderful quotes. I was already tearing up 20 pages in, when Lester asks Rayka to let him take care of her and Foster because he had been in the Army like her late husband. Some of my favorite lines from the book are:

"I'm trying hard not to agree with anybody who says I'm a loser." (Foster, p.25)

"When you're going through a tough spell, it's easy to think that's all your life is about. You forget the good things, forget the quiet places. But they're always inside of us and we can pull them up when we need to set ourselves right." (Lester, p.179)

The book is very readable and moves at a quick pace, as I said above I devoured it in one sitting. The only thing that surprised me about this book is that we had it cataloged/shelved as YA. I think it would be more appropriate in Juvenile fiction because it is a great read for tweens. 

Close to Famous reminded me of Home is Where the Heart Is by Billie Letts or a Fannie Flagg book, but for tweens. I would pair it with The Cupcake Queen by Heather Hepler as well as Richard Peck's A Year Down Yonder

Click HERE to download recipes for Foster's cupcakes from Joan Bauer's website.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Sweetest Thing by Christina Mandelski

The Sweetest Thing
Rating: 4/5 Hoots

Release Date: May 10, 2011

Summary from  
In the world of Sheridan Wells, life is perfect when she's decorating a cake. Unfortunately everything else is a complete mess: her mom ran off years ago, her dad is more interested in his restaurant, and the idea of a boyfriend is laughable.

But Sheridan is convinced finding her mom will solve all her problems - only her dad's about to get a cooking show in New York, which means her dream of a perfect family will be dashed.

Using just the right amount of romance, family drama, and cute boys, The Sweetest Thing will entice fans with its perfect mixture of girl-friendly ingredients.

 My Review:

The Sweetest Thing is as yummy as it sounds! Main character Sheridan Wells is at her best when she is decorating cakes- the rest of the time her mind is overloaded with missing her mom and wondering why she hasn't heard from her in years, dealing with the possibility of her Dad becoming an Extreme Cuisine TV star and forcing leaving her perfect small town world behind, and figuring out the intentions of two crushworthy guys.

Sheridan is far from perfect, she can be immature and short-tempered, but she is so real and lovable that readers will want to reach through the pages and give her a hug. She is a well-rounded character with flaws and strengths, and it is easy to see the motivations for her actions as the reader experiences heartache, longing, confusion and frustration along with her. I loved how the author did not just gloss over Sheridan's passion for cake decorating- it is such an important aspect of who she is and her connection to her mother and I enjoyed reading the descriptions of her creations and how she made them.

Another thing I loved about The Sweetest Thing was the well-developed cast of supporting characters. Nanny, Mr. Roz, Lori, Jack and Ethan were all fleshed out characters who felt very real. You can feel the warmth of Nanny's comforting, steadfast love for Sheridan and Mr. Roz's sunshiney affection for her.  Lori is a great best friend- funny, honest and supportive. And Jack is a swoon-worthy best friend turned boyfriend with great hair and a knack for reading Sheridan's mind. (Love the sweet birthday gift he gives her too, but I won't spoil the surprise). I thought it was great that Ethan was not portrayed as a popular guy foil. He may not have had the best motivations for dating Sheridan, but he seemed to genuinely care for her and tried to do the right thing, although he sometimes seemed conflicted about what that might be. Father Growly and Mrs. Evans the art teacher were supportive too- I really liked the mix of peers and adults that cared about Sheridan and formed an extended family for her.

The Sweetest Thing had lots of touching moments too. The romance was sweet and well-paced, and seemed to develop naturally.  Some of the most moving passages involved Sheridan by herself, coming to terms with the fact that she may not have a perfect family with a doting Mom & Dad, but she did have lots of wonderful people in her life who do love her. Sheridan's relationship with her father is complex and damaged but it is healing by the end of the book, and there are some tear-jerker moments when they begin to patch things up. One of my favorite lines  from the book was "It's like I've spent the last eight years working so hard to remember my mother that I forgot my father." Mandelski captures the nuances of their complicated relationship really well.

Although parts of the novel hurt to read because I felt for Sheridan and the painful experiences she goes through, I really loved this book. It had a great balance of interesting characters, family drama, romance and self discovery, which I think almost any young person can relate to. I highly recommend this book for contemporary fiction readers and fans of Sarah Dessen and Susane Colasanti.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

First In My Mailbox Post!

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren.

Here is what I got this week:

Darkest Mercy by Melissa Marr- The Fifth and final Wicked Lovely Book. Got this at the library this week. I love this series and can't wait to read this installment!

I was lucky enough to receive  4 ARCs this week, thanks to a Booklist webinar I attended a few weeks ago.

The Sweetest Thing by Christina Mandelski-Release date May 10, 2011. This one is supposed to be a great fit for Sarah Dessen fans! I started it last night and am really enjoying it so far.

 Hourglass by Myra McEntire- Release date May 24, 2011. Gorgeous, gorgeous cover!

I am J by Chris Bean- Released March 1, 2011. Looking forward to reading this one about a transgeneder teen.

Huntress by Malinda Lo- Release date April 5, 2011. Absolutely cannot wait to read this! I loved Ash and this one is set in the same universe.

That's it for this week- I got some great books that I can't wait to read! Reviews to come soon!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Flesh and Blood So Cheap by Al Marrin


Pink Owl Reads Rating: 4/5 Hoots Summary:

On March 25, 1911, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York City burst into flames.  The factory was crowded.  The doors were locked to ensure workers stay inside.  One hundred forty-six people—mostly women—perished; it was one of the most lethal workplace fires in American history until September 11, 2001.But the story of the fire is not the story of one accidental moment in time.  It is a story of immigration and hard work to make it in a new country, as Italians and Jews and others traveled to America to find a better life.  It is the story of poor working conditions and greedy bosses, as garment workers discovered the endless sacrifices required to make ends meet.  It is the story of unimaginable, but avoidable, disaster.  And it the story of the unquenchable pride and activism of fearless immigrants and women who stood up to business, got America on their side, and finally changed working conditions for our entire nation, initiating radical new laws we take for granted today.
With Flesh and Blood So Cheap, Albert Marrin has crafted a gripping, nuanced, and poignant account of one of America's defining tragedies.

My Thoughts:
Flesh and Blood So Cheap by Al Marrin was an easy-to-read book chocked full of information about the Triangle Shirtwaist Company Factory Fire. I have been fascinated by the Triangle Factory fire since I read Ashes of Roses by Mary Jane Auch several years ago. I think one of the reasons I find it so fascinating, and what I believe will also make it feel relevant to young adult readers, is that most of the women who worked in the factory were between 14 and 20 years old. These girls struggled through unbelievable working and living conditions to support themselves and their families. It is inspiring to read about these ordinary young women who worked and sacrificed to try to improve working conditions, sometimes being verbally abused and even beaten by police officers while doing their shifts on the picket line. Some of them were arrested for striking and others were blacklisted from working in the garment district ever again.

Flesh and Blood So Cheap took an interesting and unique approach to the factory fire. While the books I’d read on the topic in the past focused on the individual experiences of the workers, Flesh and Blood So Cheap looked at the bigger picture. The author explored many contributing factors to the tragedy, including the reasons people emigrated to America, what their living conditions were like once they arrived, the demand for ready made garments, and the factory owners’ motivations. The chapters on the fire itself were matter-of-fact but still extremely moving. Marrin described the exact conditions within the building which contributed to the large number of
casualties. The book did not end with the tragic fire. Marrin discusses the push for reforms and unionization which was inspired by the disaster at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in the years that followed. Many of the survivors went on to be leaders of unions and other labor organizations. I was surprised to learn that the female workers’ plight was also tied to the fight for women’s suffrage. All of these elements contribute to a comprehensive picture of the tragedy and it’s place in American History.

I was highly satisfied by this book and was amazed by the amount of information it conveyed in a really accessible format. The book was clearly written and well-supported with photographs and an impressive bibliography.

I would recommend pairing this book with the following historical fiction titles: Ashes of Roses by Mary Jane Auch, Lost by Jacqueline Davies, Uprising by Margaret Peterson Haddix, and Threads and Flames by Esther M. Friesner.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Keepers' Tattoo by Gill Arbuthnott

 The Keepers' Tattoo by Gill Arbuthnot

Pink Owl Rating: 3/5 Hoots

Synopsis from

Ten years ago, Alaric, leader of the Shadowmen, killed most of the Keepers—teachers of ancient knowledge that threatened his barbaric rule. Young Kit was captured, but his twin sister, Nyssa, escaped. Only later will she learn that both she and her lost brother bear the secret words of their people: three lines each of strange, unintelligible writing tattooed on their scalps. Now the Shadowmen are on the attack again, determined to quell a growing rebellion. Nyssa must find her brother, and together they must unlock the meaning—the power—behind the mysterious words.

My thoughts:

Overall, I think The Keepers' Tattoo is an enjoyable read. The book has an exciting beginning- Nyssa is torn from her comfortable but monotonous life as the adopted daughter of an inn keeper in a small village, and must go on the run with a man she has just discovered is actually her uncle. Alaric, the tyrannical ruler of the Archipelago has his Shadowmen after her, and if he finds her it won't be just her own life at stake but the fate of all the islands. We discover right from the beginning that Nyssa is no damsel in distress- she is a strong, stubborn young woman who does not let her emotions get the best of her. She is also fiercely loyal to her family and friends. I admired these characteristics in Nyssa and enjoyed reading about an independent and non-stereotypical female main character. Additionally, there are many other women in positions of power in the novel (other than evil tyrant Alaric) such as the Priestesses of Rushiadh and village matriarch Bethoc.

Nyssa's long lost twin brother, Kit, is another interesting character. After living a life of torment and abuse at the hands of Alaric, he is emotionally and physically scarred as well as selectively mute. He uses self-mutilation to cope with the horrors of his past. It was a switch to see a male character as the vulnerable one in need of rescue and protection. I appreciated that although he was hurting and haunted, he was  never portrayed as weak and he experienced a lot of growth over the course of the book as he learned to trust people again and even eventually love and nurture his family.

I liked the backstory and mythology of the Keepers. I also liked the island setting and the unique details such as the prevalence of tattoos as family markings etc.

There were a couple of drawbacks to the book that kept me from giving it a higher rating. The point of view seemed to mainly focus on Nyssa, but she often felt distant. While I admired Nyssa, I never felt quite connected to her. Along the same lines, sometimes the perspective would change from one character to another within a chapter, which was confusing at times. The other aspect of the book that was a bit disappointing to me was that the climax was somewhat anti-climactic.

***Spoiler Warning***
Highlight to read:

I felt that Alaric being crushed by the statue was somewhat convenient and not as satisfying as if the twins had taken him out themselves, but I suppose it goes along with the idea that they summoned the Earth Goddess to defeat him.

I would recommend this book to readers looking for strong female characters and adventure in a unique setting. I think it would pair well with Esther Friesner's Nobody's Princess and Nobody's Prize.