Saturday, May 22, 2010

We Interrupt this Blog for My Complete and Total Mental Breakdown

So, yesterday I was going through my inbox, deleting things left and right and feeling a bit like a mass murderer when I came across a disturbing email from one Miss Jeanette Green. Miss Green sent me this email in November and it somehow got buried in my inbox (I get so much fanmail, you know.*) only to resurface last night and tear apart my world.

I have the ability to quick view emails without opening them (helpful when on a emailicidal rampage) and what I saw there made me stop in my tracks. My finger hovered over the delete button. I can barely type her words, so I shall copy and paste:

hey there, not to rain on your blog i'm sending this to you at this address--it's "strait" jacket (usually "straitjacket,") not "straight." common mistake. wouldn't have mentioned it but this is a blog about reading, and it didn't seem to be a joke, so thought you might actually appreciate knowing. if it's a joke, and i didn't get it, sorry for being dense.


I flew to Google and clicked through to Wikipedia.
Sure enough, my spelling of straight jacket in our blog header** had been deemed erroneous.


That header, and more specifically, that phrase has been on the blog since it's inception. Not only that, but it is on pretty much every blog directory from here to eternity.


I am mortification personified.
I am this big.

You know how sometimes you're out to dinner with friends, or on a date, or giving a public speech and having a jolly old time and then it all comes to an end when, after said dinner, date, or speech, you look in the mirror only to find a giant piece of broccoli in your teeth?

"Wait. What? Huh? How long has THAT been there? HOW MANY PEOPLE SAW ME WITH FOOD IN MY TEETH?!!?"

So, my question is this:

How many of you knew and didn't tell me!?!?!?

Don't be afraid to come forward. I'm not going to hurt you, per se...

On an entirely different topic:

I'm busy.
Kari's busy.
Dan's busy.
Emily's busy.
Heather's busy.
Kim's busy.
Chris's busy.
("Busy" is a funny word if you really look at it)

We need a mini-break.

Don't cry, we'll be back to posting by Tuesday, JUNE 1st.
Until then, have a great Memorial Day!

And for heavens sake, if you see someone with broccoli in their teeth - TELL THEM!

*In case it wasn't clear. I'm being sarcastic.
**It's no use looking up there. I already fixed it.

Friday, May 21, 2010

True Story : Murder, Memoir, Mea Culpa - Michael Finkel

Summary: In True Story: Murder, Memoir, Mea Culpa, disgraced New York Times writer Michael Finkel recounts the story of the murderer who assumed his identity and examines the reasons for his own fall from journalistic grace, in a memoir that is gripping, perceptive, and bizarre. In 2002, Finkel, a rising star at the Times, was fired for fabricating a character in a story about child laborers in Africa. Just as the story of his downfall was about to become public, he learned that a man named Christian Longo, arrested in Mexico for the murder of his wife and three small children in Oregon, had been living under an assumed identity: Michael Finkel of The New York Times. Sensing a story--and an opportunity for redemption--Finkel contacted Longo, initiating a relationship that would grow increasingly complex over the course of Longo's trial and conviction. (Summary taken from reviewer Erica Barnett)

My Review: This is a prime example of turning lemons into lemonade. Imagine being caught in a lie that destroys your career at the exact same moment that your identity is stolen by a murder...not a good day. Unless you can get the only interviews with said murderer and write a book about it.

The bizarre fact that both stories parallel each other makes for a well organized story and an interesting study of the similarity and differences between the two "main characters." (It is a non-fiction, are there still main characters?) Essentially it presents a spectrum of narcissism and lets you wonder where you fall. Not surprisingly the author tries hard to present himself as a penitent man hoping to return to good graces, with the understanding that having been branded, professionally, as a liar we have no reason to believe him. This is a book you want to discuss with a psychologist (we had one in our book club at the time) for real insight into various pathologies, including your own. (Yikes.)

The subject matter, the gruesome murder of a woman and her children, is presented in a factual reporter-like way. It was neither sensationalized nor sanitized. I was nervous about reading it, and it is horrifying to think that anyone could do that to their family, but it didn't give me nightmares or cause me to distrust mankind.

**Sidenote: If you like this book you'd probably like "Devil in a White City" by Erik Larson and maybe "In Cold Blood" by Truman Capote.

My Rating: 4 stars

In one sentence: If you tell a big lie, write a parallel story about a murderer and you'll come out smelling like roses.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Lost Without "Lost"?

Okay, I'll be the first to admit that I am not a fan of Lost. (Gasp) Before you Google my address and start sending me hate mail, it's not that I haven't seen an episode here or there and been mildly entertained. I have. I just haven't watched it from the beginning and have no idea what is going on*. Whatever it is, I don't have the time or inclination to get caught up now. I'd rather be reading.

HOWEVER, if you are a fan of Lost and about to be in severe withdrawl once the season ends, I came across a few lists of books that are guaranteed to "fuel your imagination" once Lost ends. Yes, the first is from TV Guide. Weird, but still a nice list. Enjoy them both!

The Lost Reading List : 13 Books that Helped Mold the Series

and from Online Universities (and one Miss Kaitlyn Cole)

25 Books Every Lost Fan Should Read

*Please note how I did not make the overused "I am completely Lost" joke. I hope you appreciate my restraint.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Dark Matter Directive - D. Charles Wilson

Summary: Something very strange is happening to fourteen-year-old Eric Jessing, and his thirteen-year-old brother, Kevin. They are attracting super-natural forces like a pair of paranormal lightning rods. Now, torn between the normal life they need to hang onto, and the irresistible pull of a world filled with dark forces they can control, they arrive at an astonishing turning point. An ancient ghost, known as The Red Horseman, has emerged form the mists of time to capture the boys, and absorb their newfound ability. And it is much too powerful to control.

So much for getting anything done in first semester.

Guided by the wisdom of a retired particle physicist and a paranormal expert named Harker Jefferies, Eric and Kevin embark on a frightening journey overseas to try and defeat the powerful entity. They learn that a forgotten tomb in the middle of an English swamp holds the key to saving both of them, but it will arrive at an unimaginable price. Now the boys must find deep courage, and untangle a terrifying secret that will change their lives forever. (Summary from book - Image from )

My Review: This book sat on the top of my piano FOREVER, as some books are consigned to do. I have a really large Need to Read stack and this one got lost in it until the other day when I decided to get my behind in gear and tackle the books given to me for review.

I could get in to all the reasons that I didn’t like this book, but in an effort to be kind, I’ll be brief. It started out well with all manner of delicious creepiness, and then I abruptly lost interest. I can point to the exact moment when I stopped caring. It was when Eric, Kevin, and their father, Matthew, visit an eccentric bookshop owner who seems to have all the answers to all their problems. Unfortunately, his answers just didn’t interest me. After that any adventures or hardship seemed quickly contrived and all too convenient. Things that happened quickly should have happened slowly and vice versa. By the end I was just skimming so that I could be finished. This book doesn't even really end so much as it hangs, waiting for an obvious sequel to be picked up. I sincerely doubt that it will be.

On the upside (depending on your perspective), this book was scary from the get-go –the kind of freaky weirdness that makes you double check the locks and hide under the covers. I’ll probably be kept up at night thinking about certain parts and every time I go to a hotel I’m going to get visual images of that thing in the stairwell. Thanks a lot.

My Rating: 2 Stars. For the sensitive reader: I haven't read a lot of YA horror, but this seemed pretty scary in parts.

Sum it up: It started out creepy and mysterious, but when things became clearer, I didn't like what I read.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

184 Books YOU Love

If RFS-ers were in charge of picking the literature that survived a global catastrophe, these are the books our society would be rebuilt on...
16 Readers picked :
Bible/Scriptures - various
6 Readers picked:
The Hunger Games (and here) - Suzanne Collins
(One of the) Harry Potter books (also here, here, here and here) - J.K. Rowling
(One of the) Lord of the Rings Books - J.R.R. Tolkien
4 Readers picked:
Gone With the Wind - Margaret Mitchell
3 Readers picked:
Little Women - Louisa May Alcott
Love in the Time of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Pride and Prejudice (we've only reviewed the Zombie one) - Jane Austen
The Goose Girl - Shannon Hale
The Help (and here) - Kathryn Stockett
To Kill A Mockingbird - Harper Lee
Where the Sidewalk Ends - Shel Silverstein
2 Readers Picked:
A Brief History of Time - Stephen Hawking
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass - Lewis Carroll
Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
Art of Racing in the Rain - Garth Stein
East of Eden - John Steinbeck
Jane Austen books
Jodi Picoult books (like here, here and here)
Mists of Avalon - Marion Zimmer Bradley
Outlander - Diana Gabaldon
The Alchemist - Paulo Coelho
The Book Thief (and here) - Markus Zusak
The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire - Edward Gibbon
The Giver - Lois Lowry
The Sneetches - Dr. Suess
The Twilight Series - Stephenie Meyer
Water for Elephants - Sara Gruen
1 Reader picked:
1-2-3 Magic - Thomas W. Phelan
A Swiftly Tilting Planet - Madeleine L'Engle
A Trip to the Beach - Melinda Blanchard
Amarcord: Marcella Remembers - Marcella Hazan
American Gods - Neil Gaiman
Anne of Green Gables - L.M. Montgomery
And Then There Were None - Agatha Christie
Brian Keene books
Beautiful Creatures - Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
Beautiful Darkness - Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
Big Girl - Danielle Steel
Billie Standish was Here - Nancy Crocker
Bitter Sweets - Roopa Farooki
Caddie Woodlawn - Carol Ryrie Brink
Calvin and Hobbes - Bill Watterson
Calvin's Institutes (in one volume) - John Calvin
Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins
Caught - Harlan Coben
Chelsea Handler books
Child 44 - Tom Rob Smith
Children's Writers and Illustrators Market - Alice Pope
Chocolate Beach - Julie Carobini
Chronicles of Narnia - C.S. Lewis
City of Ashes - Cassandra Clare
City of Bones - Cassandra Clare
Dead to the World - Charlaine Harris
Desiring God - John Piper
Don't Let the
Pigeon Drive
the Bus! - Mo Willems
Eat, Pray, Love - Elizabeth Gilbert
Elegance of a Hedgehog (or here) - Muriel Barbery
Eva Luna - Isabel Allende
Fablehaven : Keys to the Demon Prison - Brandon Mull
Forever Amber - Kathleen Winsor
Franny and Zooey - J.D. Salinger
Freckles - Gene Stratton Porter
Future Grace - John Piper
Georgette Heyer books
Good Omens - Terry Pratchett
Grimm's Fairy Tales - Brothers Grimm
Hand Tool Essentials - Popular Woodworking Editors
Hotel on Corner of Bitter and Sweet - Jamie Ford
House Rules - Jodi Picoult
How Clarissa Burden Learned to Fly - Connie May Fowler
How the Grinch Stole Christmas - Dr. Seuss
I Capture the Castle - Dodie Smith
I Know This Much Is True - Wally Lamb
Inkdeath - Cornelia Funke
Innocent - Scott Turow
Jeffery Deaver books
Jelly Roll : Poems - Allen Ginsberg
Juliet - Anne Fortier
Junie B. Jones (series) - Barbara Park
Last Night in Twisted River - John Irving
Les Miserables - Victor Hugo
Lightning - Dean Koontz
Little Bee - Chris Cleave
Love, Lucy - Lucille Ball
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand - Helen Simonson
Me Talk Pretty One Day - David Sedaris
Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
Mere Christianity - C.S. Lewis
Michael Connelly books
Miracle in the Andes - Nando Parrado & Vince Rause
Moloka'i - Alan Brennert
Mountains Beyond Mountains - Tracy Kidder
Mudbound - Hilary Jordan
The Dream Encyclopedia - James R. Lewis
My Sister's Keeper - Jodi Picoult
Never Let Me Go - Kazuo Ishiguro
Nicholas Sparks books (like here, here, and here)
No, David! - David Shannon
North and South - Elizabeth Gaskell
Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
One Fish, Two Fish - Dr. Seuss
Patricia Cornwell books
Pearl of China - Anchee Min
Peter Pan - J.M. Barrie
Polgar's chess puzzles - Lazlo Polgar
Pomegranate Soup - Marsha Mehran
Raven Stole the Moon - Garth Stein
Robert Ludlum books
Rosie Dunne - Cecilia Ahern
Secret Keeper - Mitali Perkins
Secrets of Eden - Chris Bohjalian
Selected Poems of Mary Oliver
Serendipity - Stephen Cosgrove
Shanna - Kathleen Woodiwiss
Shutter Island - Dennis Lehane
Skeletons at the Feast - Chris Bohjalian
Slaughterhouse-Five - Kurt Vonnegut
Sloppy Firsts - Megan McCafferty
Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You - Peter Cameron
Sookie Stackhouse series - Charlaine Harris
Stardust - Neil Gaiman
Survive! - Les Stroud
Swan Song - Robert R. McCammon
Tennyson - Lesley M.M. Blume
The 1850 manners book
The Baseball Box Prophesy - Bruce Newbold
The Blue Castle - L.M. Montgomery
The Boy Detective Fails - Joe Meno
The Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger
The Collector - John Fowles
The Complete Lewis Carol
The Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
The Darkest Kiss - Gena Showalter
The Darkest Night - Gena Showalter
The Energy Bus - Jon Gordon
The Gargoyle - Andrew Davidson
The Girls - Lori Lansens
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (and here and here) - Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows
The Host (and here) - Stephenie Meyer
The House of Night series - P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast
The Ice Queen - Alice Hoffman
The Illustrated Man - Ray Bradbury
The Lost Symbol - Dan Brown
The Lost Ravioli Recipes of Hoboken - Laura Schenone
Archaeology of the Mary Rose (Volume 4) - Julie Gardiner
The Night Trilogy - Elie Wiesel
The Notebook - Nicholas Sparks
The Piano Man's Daughter - Timoth Findley
The Poisonwood Bible - Barbara Kingsolver
The Princess Bride - William Goldman
The Red Tent - Anita Diamant
The Sandman (Series) - Neil Gaiman
The SAS Survival Handbook - John Wiseman
The Screwtape Letters - C.S. Lewis
The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
The Secret Life of Bees - Sue Monk Kidd
The Stand - Stephen King
The Summerhouse - Jude Devereaux
The Tales of O. Henry - Nextext
The Tummy Mummy - Michelle Madrid-Branch
The Virgin Suicides - Jeffrey Eugenides
The Weight of Silence - Heather Gudenkauf
The Work and the Glory - Gerald N. Lund
The Yada Yada Prayer Group - Neta Jackson
The Zombie Survival Guide - Max Brooks
These is my Words - Nancy Turner
Timothy Findley books
Tom Sawyer - Mark Twain
Under The Dome - Stephen King
Vampire Academy Series - Richelle Mead
Van Gogh's Bad Cafe : A Love Story - Frederic Tuten
Wednesday is Spaghetti Day - Maryann Cocca-Leffler
West with the Night - Beryl Markham
Winter Garden - Kristin Hannah
Wrinkle in Time - Madeleine L'Engle
Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
Zoya - Danielle Steel
What do you think? Is there hope for future generations?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Under the Jaguar Sun - Italo Calvino

Summary: Taste, hearing, and smell dominate the lives of the characters in these witty, fantastical stories. In “Under the Jaguar Sun” a couple tours Mexico to discover a startling combination of sublime and erotic love in the cuisine of fire-hot chiles and exotic spices. In “A King Listens” the enthroned tyrant is prisoner not only of his power but also of his ear, as echoes in his huge palace carry contradictory messages of deliverance, love, and betrayal. In “The Name, the Nose” a man of the world consults a fashionable Parisian parfumerie in search of a scent worn by a mysterious masked lady, while in London a drugged rock musician is lured into the crazed pursuit of a female whose odor has inflamed him. (Summary from book - Image from

My Review: These three stories are part of a series of five, each centered on a different sense, that was left unfinished by the author’s death. Before reading them, I hadn’t realized what a loss two unwritten stories could be. Each of the three existing stories, though very different in tone and style, is a small, multifaceted masterpiece.

One of the startling aspects of these stories for me is the effect they have in the hours, days, and weeks after I’ve read them. The first story—in addition to making me crave spicy foods—has forced me to re-evaluate the way I handle myself in my close relationships. Who would have thought that cannibalism could be inspiring as well as entertaining?

The second story is a sort of existential nightmare, a shifting minefield of meaning and identity. If modern philosophy—from Hegel’s dialectic to Foucault’s critique of power relationships—were a tragic love story, this would be it. Or perhaps it’s the story of an ego divorced from its id. Either way, you don’t need to know, or care, about philosophy or psychoanalysis to get caught in this story’s mad web of words.

For me, the third story was the weakest, but that might be because I have a nonfunctional sense of smell, so it’s hard for me to relate to characters who live through their noses. Like the sense that it centers on, this story seemed a bit muddled, lacking the crispness of the other stories. But perhaps that was the point. Regardless, Calvino’s off days would be another writer’s strokes of genius, so perhaps I’m just jealous.

Star Rating: 5 stars. Contains mature themes maturely handled.

Sum it up: Three of the most entrancing short stories I’ve read; whoever let Calvino die before he finished the other two should be shot.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Winner of the 7 Book Giveaway is...

Well, I won't tell you who the FIRST winner was, because it turns out they didn't follow the blog. Shoot. But the NEXT person who won is...
Congratulations! We'll be contacting you soon to discuss your books!
For all of you who didn't win,
don't worry,
there will be plenty of chances to win our next giveaway
and followers can always enter without any hassle!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

What My Girlfriend Doesn't Know - Sonya Sones

Summary: My name is Robin.

This is a book about me.
It tells the story of what happens when after almost fifteen pathetic years of loserdome,
the girl of my dreams finally falls for me.

That seems like it would be a good thing, right?
Only it turns out to be a lot more complicated than that.

Don't get me wrong--my girlfriend's amazing.
But the way things have been going lately,
I'm starting to believe that the only thing worse
than not getting what you want,

is getting it.
(Image from - Summary from back of the book.)

My Review: This is a fast read. And not just because of the way the book is organized--almost every page is set up like a new poem, free verse in style. Initially it looked like a book I would bypass: I'm not (for the most part) into sappy love stories or chick-flick type reads with petty romance and betrayal. I decided to get the book for my classroom collection when my students kept asking for it for silent reading. Although this still didn't convince me to crack the cover. It wasn't until I gave my students the option of picking a book, any book they wanted as long as it was paperback, and I'd see if I could finagle a way to buy one for them and get it in their hot little hands before summer break, for their own, to keep forever. A majority of my students wanted the second in the series of The Hunger Games, (Catching Fire) but this came in second. Finally, I opened to page one.

It was such a refreshingly fast read. And it was hilarious. I laughed many times out loud causing my students to think I'd fallen off my rocker. Now, don't get me wrong on the content. It's definitely high school level in content. But the way the pages are separated into poems with titles that flow into the story and the breaks in the lines adding emphasis to the story, it was a fun break from the usual set up. There's something satisfying about flying through a book so fast you surprise yourself with how fast it's finish. This is definitely a book you could read in one sitting.

Robin is a pathetic boy who's never fit in. It's not because he isn't an interesting guy. It's because he made one simple mistake in elementary school that followed him, plagued him, until high school. In fact, he's a very cool kid. This is his story of growing up, breaking barriers he thought would never be torn down, and coming of age.

As is typical for me, I didn't read the back of the book, but this time I didn't check who the author was either. I was 45 pages in before I even thought to look. Surprise: it's written by a woman! She has middle school/high school hormonal-boy down, pat. I honestly thought it was a male author. Her depictions of males were accurate in that it shows how easily they are sexually stimulated at that age, but also that some are truly caring, thoughtful young men fighting against natural instincts.

Themes in this book I'd bring up for discussion with my students are social acceptance, changing your perception of yourself and the world, fidelity, trust, honesty, how to deal with anger, teen angst, self-acceptance, how we treat others, getting outside yourself, developing your talents, and many more.

I'm not sure this book is for every high school kid. It is one I would use for students who struggle with reading, find books boring and difficult to read because of all the words on the page, and students who are more interested in the social aspect of school life than the academic. While I think the academically minded kids could enjoy this and would find the read quick and funny, I think the audience it best suits is lower level, or non-readers. It builds confidence, is humorous, and manages to hit on the issues that many of those kids are facing on a daily basis while surviving the high school grind.

***NOTE: There's a lot of sexual reference. Basically first and second base are covered. Nothing more. If you're uncomfortable with your teen reading that much, steer clear. If you don't mind the realities of what kids are doing in relationships these days (and far more, I assure you), and can find humor in how a hormonal boy views the world, you'll get a kick out of this book.

Rating: 4.5 Stars--I dropped it down a bit for content just because at times it's a bit shallow. But, it's so spot on and hilarious, it almost deserves a 5, although as a YA read only, not adult reading.

Sum it up: Engaging and entertaining to the point of hilarity--a true high school saga.


Don't wait!

Today is your last chance to enter
It closes tonight at 11:59PM! 

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Book of Unholy Mischief - Elle Newmark

Summary: In a world of violence and intrigue, who guards the truth?

It is 1498, the dawn of the Renaissance, and Venice teems with rumors of an ancient book that holds the secret to unimaginable power. It is an alchemist's dream, with recipes for gold, immortality, and undying love. Everyone, rich and poor alike, speculates about the long-buried secrets scrawled in its pages and where it could possibly be hidden within the labyrinthine city. But while those who seek the book will stop at nothing to get it, those who know will die to protect it.

As a storm of intrigue and desire circles the republic that grew from the sea, Luciano, a penniless orphan with a quick wit and an even faster hand, is plucked up by an illustrious chef and hired, for reasons he cannot yet begin to understand, as an apprentice in the palace kitchen. There, in the lavish home of the most powerful man in Venice, he is initiated into the chef's rich and aromatic world, with all its seductive ingredients and secrets.

Luciano's loyalty to his street friends and the passion he holds for a convent girl named Francesca remain, but it is not long before he too, is caught up in the madness. After he witnesses a shocking murder in the Palace dining room, he realizes that nothing is as it seems and that no one, not even those he's come to rely on most, can be trusted. Armed with a precocious mind and an insatiable curiosity, Luciano embarks on a perilous journey to uncover the truth. What he discovers will swing open the shutters of his mind, inflame his deepest desires, and leave an indelible mark on his soul. (Summary from book - Image from

My Review: Initially I was offered this book for review, but due to some unforeseen and lamentable circumstances, the book was never sent out. Now, some review copies I can take or leave, but not this one. No, this one I wanted. For a while I waited to see if it would eventually be sent out and tried not to harass the publisher too much, but when I saw a copy just sitting on the shelf at a local library I snapped it up like Ghirardelli left laying around.

The story follows Luciano, a street urchin adopted as an apprentice by the doge’s head chef. While performing menial labor and hoping for promotion, Luciano witnesses some strange activity that leads to an exciting mystery. Throughout this book, Luciano is manipulated by various characters and plagued with mistrust. I was a little irritated when his loyalties changed with nearly every chapter but, irritation aside, I feel his fickleness was in character for someone who spent a majority of his young life on the streets. Chef Ferrero was the picture of kindness and honor, yet it was his tendency to spout heretical theory and his passion for cooking (and interfering) that made him one of my favorite characters.

Even though I reveled in the culinary bits, was pleased by the characters that Newmark created, and really enjoyed reading this book, when I closed it I wasn't satisfied –mostly, but not completely. I wanted a little more mystery and a little more revelation – conflicting desires, to be sure. Some parts of this book (especially in regards to who had the book) were completely obvious, and other parts (like what the book held and how it was coded) were never fully explained at all.

My Rating: 4 Stars, but just barely. For the sensitive reader: The story has one or two briefly crude moments and arrives at some fairly heretical conclusions that might offend the kind of person who was offended by Da Vinci Code (sorry I can’t be more specific). It didn't bother me.

Sum it up: A promising novel that almost lived up to my expectations.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Forty-Eight X : The Lemuria Project - Barry Pollack

Summary: A colonel with a shadowy past… A new kind of war and warrior… A military science experiment out of control… On the island of Diego Garcia in the middle of the Indian Ocean, the United States has gathered together its most talented scientists to conduct top secret experiments. Their goal—to create a revolutionary new warrior. A warrior so strong, so valiant, so expendable that the age of “casualties of war” becomes only a sad and distant memory. And so, the Lemuria Project is brought to life—by a Nobel laureate in genetics and a three-star general seeking redemption in a long-lost and forgotten metaphysical civilization.

Haunted by a dark and dangerous past, Colonel Link McGraw is the officer chosen to train and lead these special “soldiers.” In the course of battles to renew his tattered reputation, he, above all, knows what constitutes the perfect soldier. It’s simple: Follow orders, command decisively, make no excuses, and have no regrets.

When Egyptian beauty Fala al-Shohada and Israeli Joshua Krantz, romantically paired archaeologists, stumble across the top secret project, they are determined to uncover its true nature and pursue their quest to the island of Diego Garcia. Science and politics clash, as do Krantz and McGraw, who vie for Fala’s affection. When they discover they aren’t the only ones on the island competing for her attention, shocking truths are revealed.

The future of the entire human race comes to a crossroads on Lemuria. Will humanity find there its loftier spirit or become a lesser species in earth’s evolution? (Summary from book - Image from - Review copy courtesy of publisher)

My Review: I should have heeded the warning on the gimmicky paper seal that held this book when it arrived in the mail: “Warning: Detailed information about the Lemuria Project is contained within this novel.” If I knew then what I know now, I would have set the book aside and saved myself the trouble of learning about what is surely among the least thrilling secret military projects ever devised by aspiring fictioneers.

It’s not that the plot was predictable and the characters wooden; one comes to expect these things from genre fiction, and see past them. In fact, using a stock plot, near-stock characters (aside from the military mens’ unexpected new-aginess, about which more later), and background research that had all the depth of a Wikipedia article should free an author up to focus on grand visions, penetrating insights, or thought-provoking speculation. No such luck here, though; Forty Eight X-The Lemuria Project fills its pages with plodding exposition, dialogue that reads like late-night infomercial transcripts, and platitudinous hand-wringing about the ethics of war and genetic manipulation. Finally, it drags itself to a series of heavily-telegraphed plot “twists” that serve in place of any true climax.

But on the bright side, the novel’s very clumsiness opens the door for moments of true entertainment. The image of a battle-hardened, square-jawed general getting touchy-feely with his flaky “spiritual guide” above the cosmic vortices of Sedona will stay with me for—at least a bit. Such moments abound, thanks to the book’s attempts to shoehorn all of its poorly-fitting themes into a coherent plot. In other words, this one’s for you, B-movie fans and connoisseurs of the unintentionally ironic. All others, consider yourselves warned.

Star Rating:
2 stars. Warning for delicate sensibilities: It’s not the graphic carnage that has the potential to offend so much as the distressingly awkward sex scenes and the cavalier chauvinism with which they’re handled.

Sum it up:
Jurassic Park with apes and reincarnation, but with less dramatic tension.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

25 Books That Will Make You Angry

What, you thought I was going to list them? Nope. I'm far too busy for that. I'm also on a strict post-partum regimen of happy endings right now. A list like this might turning me into a sobbing, hysterically psychotic mess. However, when I got this email from Abebooks I knew I had to pass it on to all of you. Just because I am in a literary bubble right now, doesn't mean you have to be.

"Some books make us angry by design - they have themes of injustice, evil characters doing unconscionable things, or address topics sure to elicit rage. Other books don’t intend to make the reader angry, but do so by accident with poor writing, disappointing endings, plot holes or other failings, or by simply presenting a point of view drastically at odds with their audience. Regardless, a book that makes our blood boil enough to throw it across the room is sure to have us talking about it." (Excerpt from Abebooks email)

Here are Abebook's 25 Books that will leave you fuming...

Are there any books you think are missing from the list?
Do you disagree?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Blue Moon - Alyson Noel

Summary: Just as Ever is learning everything she can about her new abilities as an immortal, initiated into the dark, seductive world by her beloved Damen, something terrible is happening to him. As Ever's powers are increasing, Damen's are fading—stricken by a mysterious illness that threatens his memory, his identity, his life. Desperate to save him, Ever travels to the mystical dimension of Summerland, uncovering not only the secrets of Damen's past—the brutal, tortured history he hoped to keep hidden—but also an ancient text revealing the workings of time. With the approaching blue moon heralding her only window for travel, Ever is forced to decide between turning back the clock and saving her family from the accident that claimed them—or staying in the present and saving Damen, who grows weaker each day... (Summary and Image from

My Review: I know what you are thinking. As if the gentle criticism on the similarities wasn't enough, she had to go and give it a title that conjured up all the New Moon hype we have been seeing. To top it all off, they are both the second in their series.

After surviving her seventeen year old boyfriend's 600 year old ex-wife (yes, you read that right), Ever is beginning to get used to her new abilities and her new relationship with Damen. She makes peace with her demons and finds her place in her school and in Damen's arms. When Damen starts acting....well...normal, Ever has to figure out what has happened to her invincible soul-mate and more importantly who is responsible. As their relationship unravels, Ever will explore new dimensions of our world , and new dimensions of her heart as she faces the knowledge that to save him she may have to have him forever.

I read the this novel, the second in Noel's Immortals series, in less than 24 hours. It was so hard to watch these character fall apart after I had come to love their little teenage love affair so much in the first book. I liked the direction she took this book, casting doubts on everything she had revealed in Evermore and leaving you wondering if Damen and Ever will ever find happiness after 400 years of tragedy and heartbreak.

My Rating: 4 Stars. Again, these books would be appropriate for 14 plus years of age.

Sum it up: Looking forward to the third book in the series -- Shadowland.

Read Kim's review or Mindy's review of Evermore, the first book in Noel's The Immortals Series.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Evermore - Alyson Noel

Summary: The first book in Alyson Noel's extraordinary new Immortals series. Enter an enchanting new world, where true love never dies...After a horrible accident claims the lives of her family, sixteen-year-old Ever Bloom can see people's auras, hear their thoughts, and know someones entire life story by touching them. Going out of her way to avoid human contact and suppress her abilities, she has been branded a freak at her new high school--but everything changes when she meets Damen Auguste.

Damen is gorgeous, exotic, and wealthy. He's the only one who can silence the noise and random energy in her head--wielding a magic so intense, it's as though he can peer straight into her soul. As Ever is drawn deeper into his enticing world of secrets and mystery, she's left with more questions than answers. And she has no idea just who he really is--or what he is. The only thing she knows to be true is that she's falling deeply and helplessly in love with him. (Photo from - Summary from back cover)

My Review: Before I begin my review I would like to apologize for my extended absence. I had what can only be described as severe reviewers block. It's the truth, seriously. I truly harrowing experience.

Back to Evermore..

Ever Bloom is cursed, or so she thinks. When a tragic accident claims the lives of not only her parents, but her younger sister and golden retriever, Ever wakes up to discover she can hear peoples thoughts. In a high school full of preppy cheerleaders and jocks who have branded her a "freak", she chooses to bed down with a hoodie and a blaring ipod to survive her days. On her return to her Aunt's house, with whom she was placed after the accident, she spends afternoons talking to her dead sister and immersing herself in blame for her family's death.

Isolating herself with her only two friends (a Gothic wanna be and a homosexual thespian), Ever's world is turned upside down when Damen walks into her art class and for the first time the thoughts swirling around in her head are quieted.

The story is typical, especially in the wake of the Twilight rage, but Evermore stands on it's own. Noel dares to take us where Meyer did not. Exploring the world of teenage sexuality and the pressure that these "freaks" are put under each day at the hands of fellow classmates. Not to mention a bout of severe alcohol abuse, and teenage tattooing.

As Ever and Damen continue on their journey they encounter obstacles that are (quite literally) not of this world. I found myself slightly enchanted by the world the the author created. I sympathized with Ever and her situation at school. But mostly (I am only slightly embarrassed to say), Evermore gave me that zing. That first kiss, butterflies in your stomach feeling that you get when your are indulging yourself in a teenage romance novel. Come on, you and I both know there was a time before kids and husbands where just a look from a cute boy set our hearts to pounding. It is a fun feeling and I believe that is why these books are such a popular genre.

Sidenote: Although these novels received some criticism for there similarities to the Twilight series, I am going to go ahead and say what I have been thinking which is that yes the similar plot line is there, but in my opinion Noel showcases more writing talent with her first two novels in her Immortal series. It is strictly my OPINION, please don't bombard me with hate mail......)

My Rating: 4 Stars. I would say this novel is appropriate for 14 plus years of age.

Sum it up: A good guilty pleasure.

Also reviewed by Mindy.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

To Our Mothers

Happy Mother's Day
to our moms
You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be -
I had a mother who read to me.
~Strickland Gillian

~ Mindy ~

When I found out I was having a little girl of my own, some of the first books I purchased were the Anne of Green Gables boxed set. At a very young age, I remember my mom reading this series to my sister and I while we were snuggled in our bunk beds, hanging on her every word.

I am a red-head (in both hair and nature) and so it wasn't hard to cast myself in the role of one Miss Anne Shirley. I lived those books as my mom read them to me. I was the Lady of Chalot. I lost Rachel Lynde's cow and won the Rollings Reliable Baking Powder Contest. My mother had a way of reading that sparked our imaginations and led us straight into Avonlea, face to face with Marilla, Anne, and the oh so dreamy Gilbert Blythe. Thank you, Mom, for introducing me to so many amazing books! I am glad, now that we are both older and wiser, that we can share our love of books together. I love you. Love, Mindy

~ Kari ~

My childhood memories wouldn't be complete without a scene of my mother reading, four children piled on her lap, spilling over the sides, her arms reaching as far as possible so that all four of us could see the pictures of the library book she was reading. We'd sit there for hours going through a stack so large I don't know how we were able to get it home from the library. This is one of my happiest memories and happened at least two or three times a week.

My favorite book though, amidst the thousands we read, is Love You Forever by Robert N. Munsch. My mother would sing the little lullaby in the story. Then and now I could feel the truthfulness of those words and the conviction in her voice. Mom, you are a major reason I learned to read and love to read. I love you! Love, Kari


~ Dan ~

I don't remember when I first learned to read, but I do have a first memory of reading. I remember nestling deep in the blankets of my parent's water bed and trying to follow the tiny black print as my mom read me The Hobbit, one chapter a night, as a bedtime story. I was four, maybe, or five, and hearing my mother’s voice soon made Tolkein’s imaginary world as real to me as the world I inhabited the rest of the day.

By the time she had gotten to Return of the King a few months later, I was sneaking into her bedroom during the day to take the book off the shelf and try to read ahead. I wasn't able to puzzle out more than a page or two, but that didn’t matter—I was reading, and I’ve never looked back, except to thank my mom for taking the time to show me the wonders that lie beyond the gate of an open book.


~ Kim ~

When I sit down to read (every spare moment I get), I often wonder what I can do to make sure that my children grow up knowing the joy of books. All books. As I think about this, I remember my mother reading me book after book, story after story, and I remember losing myself in my own imagination as she brought each word to life. I remember Where the Sidewalk Ends, and wondering if I really could be eaten by a boa constrictor. I remember The A-Z of Mammals and her reading bits to me so I would know what animals were in the pictures. And, perhaps my favorite, I remember a book called The Simple Prince. I still cannot determine what is was I so loved about this book, but something about the way we read it together has stuck firmly in my mind for over 25 years. I remember it line by line.

Dear Mom, Thank you for everything you have given me. Your time, your praise, your compassion, and mostly your love. Thank you for being a reader, and supporting me with all my reading endeavors, even when you were unsure a 12-year-old should be reading Patricia Cornwell. I love you.


~ Heather ~

The one story I remember my mother reading frequently to my sister and I is Where the Wild Things Are. It was with this book that I realized the power of reading. Just by opening the cover you can escape to another world -- wherever you want to go surrounded with whoever you choose. And thus my love of books began. Thanks Mom, for helping to write this chapter of my life.


~ Emily ~

It often happened that everyone in my family would be sitting around reading on a Sunday afternoon. This family of fast readers can only give credit to our mother. But what I want to talk about is a little lesson that my mom may have innocently and inadvertently taught me. At some point in the late 90s I realized a trend. My mom would get a book or two for Christmas and then in early January she'd be struck down with a energy sapping illness. Coincidence? Probably, after all, she did look pretty miserable when I'd peak in the bedroom...but...

Nowadays, when I really need/want to read a book, or do any other "me" type of activity, I remember that our lives went on while my poor mom recuperated in her room with a good book. And you know what? While my young kids do need a bit more daily assistance than I did as an older teenager, the other stuff, the house...and um, house, can wait just a few more chapters while I recoup from whatever ails me. My mom taught me to love reading, and she also taught me to "do what is best for you." And she also taught me that when the book is over, get up and finish the dishes.


Don't forget to thank the woman in your life for all that she has done for you!

Saturday, May 8, 2010


We've been honored by some exciting awards* lately...

The Blog Monster Award
was given to us by Lori at Dollycas's Thoughts
This award is for bloggers who aren’t afraid to take a bite with their honest reviews and enjoyable content. You amaze me, you inspire me so I call you a blog monster.
Matt's Blog of Negativity - He will make fun of this award, but in a snarky can't-help-but-laugh sort of way. He also won't pass this along to anyone. Even if I tell him to.
So this award doesn't die with him I also nominate...
PassiveAgressiveNotes - Don't make these people mad or they'll post-it you.


The Beautiful Blogger Award
Thank you Paula over at WWE Girl for this gorgeous award.
Seriously. It's so pretty.

A Few Blogs We'd Like to Nominate:

Fighting for FA - A beautiful blog for a beautiful cause.
(Seriously. You should check this one out. And buy something).
[Shabby] Apple a Day - Ooh La La. Clothes I can WEAR!
Sensibly Styled - Modest clothing from all kinds of places.
Nie Nie Dialogues - How can I NOT? One beautiful lady (and blog)
Zenhabits - Because simple is beautiful.



I'm giving this award out to blogs that brighten my day (or Kari's) when we see a new post.

The Book Nest - Love the layout. Love the reviews.
Rambling Spoon - How I travel and eat vicariously.
Gerbera Daisy Diaries - Gorgeous and full of bookish-goodness
Care's Finds - She finds the coolest things on the web
Food and Travel - Yum. Just yum...and so jealous.


*I hope you will forgive me for ignoring the rules on these awards. Awards don't mean anything if you have to fill a quota when you give them out to someone. 5 people were required for the first award, 15 for the second, and 12 for the third. Seriously. I like to read blogs but I don't read them THAT much and I would have had to surf the net pulling blogs I'd never heard of or read to fill those kind of numbers.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon - Patty Lovell

Summary: Molly Lou Melon is short and clumsy, has buckteeth, and has a voice that sounds like a bullfrog being squeezed by a boa constrictor. She doesn't mind. Her grandma has always told her to walk proud, smile big, and sing loud, and she takes that to heart. But then Molly Lou has to start in a new school. Ronald Durkin calls her "SHRIMPO!" and "BUCKY-TOOTH BEAVER!" But Molly Lou has learned a lot from her grandma and knows just how to put him in his place--in a very satisfying way. (Summary from publisher - Image from kobou.c0m)

My Review: Molly Lou Melon is adorable. She's is everything that the summary entails and - because her grandmother is such a wise woman - proud of it. When the vertically-challenged Molly Lou moves to a new school and starts getting picked on, she holds her head high, stays true to herself, and doesn't give up. I absolutely love this book! From the exaggerated illustrations of the wonderful David Catrow to it's sweet and powerful moral message, Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon is a book that I will read to my children until the cover falls off...and then I'll go buy another one.

My Rating: 5 Stars

Sum it up: A wonderful example of how be proud of who you are and to love what makes you unique.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Snow Falling on Cedars - David Guterson

Summary: San Piedro Island, north of Puget Sound, is a place so isolated that no one who lives there can afford to make enemies. But in 1954 a local fisherman is found suspiciously drowned, and a Japanese American named Kabuo Miyamoto is charged with his murder.

In the course of the ensuing trial, it becomes clear that what is at stake is more than one man's guilt. For on San Piedro, memory grows as thickly as cedar trees and the fields of ripe strawberries--memories of a charmed love affair between a white boy and the Japanese girl who grew up to become Kabuo's wife; memories of land desired, paid for, and lost. Above all, San Piedro is haunted by the memory of what happened to its Japanese residents during World War II, when an entire community was sent into exile while its neighbors watched. Gripping, tragic, and densely atmospheric, Snow Falling on Cedars is a masterpiece of suspense--but one that leaves us shaken and changed. (Summary from back of the book and image from

My Review: Atmospheric is spot on. You can tell Guterson knows the Puget Sound and knows island life. He gets island (or what I am guessing you could equate to small town) people down to their core. This was one of those books that was so well written, you have to admire the prose by itself even if you didn't like the rest of the story. It was also one of those books that seemed to have more description than necessary or than you'd ever really need. After a time I began skimming sections because I already 'got' the atmosphere, the intricate details, the mood and tone the author was trying to portray. Truthfully by the end, I was just wanting to know the final outcome. Flashbacks are great, tell a lot of how the story came to be, but when it all comes down to it I really just wanted to know the verdict!

I have to mention that it seemed this author had a strong inclination towards anything sexual. Almost every character had some sort of description regarding his or her sex life. Some of the relationships seemed so shallow because they existed solely because of sex. How depressing. While I realize that this is based post-WWII and that many men came back altered to the point of having little to no communication skills, it still seemed over the top. But, then again, I've been informed that many people's relationships are solely about the sexual relationship. This could be quite accurate--sad if you ask me, but accurate.

Guterson did an amazing job depicting each character, showing the flaws and the strengths, helping you find value despite the weaknesses each one had. He also did an amazing job portraying prejudice, how war corrodes even the most gentle people, and how it trains the way you look at the world forever after.

While I can't say I'll read this again, I find myself thinking about the island, the people, their trials, and wondering if, as they moved on with their lives, they were able to mend some wounds that seemed unable to heal. This is a mark of a good book in my eyes: one in which you wonder about the characters long after you've finished it.

Rating: 4 Stars. It was too depressing to be 5 and also, for my taste, contained too much sex.

Sum it up: A complex story of history, war, prejudice, and convoluted facts leading to what could be a disastrous ending for Miyamoto.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Hourglass - Claudia Gray

Summary: Bianca will risk everything to be with Lucas. After escaping from Evernight Academy, the vampire boarding school where they met, Bianca and Lucas take refuge within Black Cross, a fanatical group of vampire hunters. Bianca must hider her supernatural heritage or risk certain death at its hands. But when Black Cross captures her friend--the vampire Balthazar--hiding is no longer an option.

Soon, Bianca and Lucas are on the run again, pursued not only by Black Cross, but by the powerful leaders of Evernight. Yet no matter how far they travel, Bianca can't escape her destiny.

Bianca has always believed their love could survive anything...but can it survive what's to come? (Summary from book - Image from )

My Review: In my reviews of Evernight and Stargazer I expressed concern that the YA series would introduce more adult themes. In Hourglass, Lucas and Bianca do eventually make their way into the bedroom (and for more than just a good cuddle). While Gray still manages to keep the interaction fairly vague, with descriptions of foreplay but none of the actual act, I am still disappointed that she had to take that step. I’m not surprised, but I am frustrated, that authors think they need to push characters to have sex in order to maintain a reader’s interest. How about spending more time on plot development? Hourglass could have used it.

It’s been a while since I read the books preceeding Hourglass, but I seem to remember them being a lot more thrilling. Lucas and Bianca are stuck feigning loyalty to Black Cross while they attempt to save up enough money to break free from the group. That portion of the story felt drawn out even though it really was only the first 88 pages. There were plenty of opportunities to escape that the characters didn’t take. It seemed like Gray was intentionally making something hard that should have been easy within the story.

One of the things that I loved about Evernight, and liked about Stargazer, was that I didn’t always know what was going to happen. Evernight gave me something new. Stargazer kept me interested. Hourglass didn’t do any of those things until almost the very end of the book. Someone dies (I won’t say who) and something interesting happens* (I won't say what) and then THE BOOK ENDS. BAM.

It’s a testament to how NOT into this book I was that I didn’t fling it across the room. I just put it down and walked away. I don’t know if I’ll be picking up the next one or not. Where are they going to go next? A pregnant vampire? Oh please, NO! I’ve had enough of pregnant vampires to last the next three lifetimes.

My Rating: 3 Stars. This book was just okay for me. Parents - there is teenage sex (albeit mild) in this book. Know that if you pass it along to your kids.

Sum it up: Eh. It was okay.

*I will say that some things came a little too easily to Bianca. This won't mean anything unless you've read the book.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Last Olympian - Rick Riordan

Summary: All year the half-bloods have been preparing for battle against the Titans, knowing the odds of a victory are grim. Kronos' army is stronger than ever, and with every god and half-blood he recruits, the evil Titan's power only grows.

While the Olympians struggle to contain the rampaging monster Typhon, Kronos begins his advance on New York City, where Mount Olympus stands virtually unguarded. Now it's up to Percy Jackson and his army of young demigods to stop the Lord of Time.

In this momentous final book in the New York Times best-selling series, the long awaited prophecy surrounding Percy's sixteenth birthday unfolds. And as the battle for Western civilization rages on the streets of Manhattan, Percy faces a terrifying suspicion that he may be fighting against his own fate. (Summary from the inside cover flap and image from

My Review: What a fantastic ending! I love how the prophecies have you guessing all the way up until the end. You keep thinking you know what's coming and then Riordan throws a twist. All those tangled girl relationships in book #4 are resolved in this one. Percy really does seem to have matured and grown up since the first book. The ending shows growth and selflessness, which as a theme for the Greek myths and their gods is a welcomed change.

Riordan has a way of telling the battle scenes that can keep my attention--and this is tricky considering I prefer character driven plots. The imagery is strong. He keeps the suspense building so that hours can go by while reading and you're not aware of how many pages you've burned through. It really gives a feeling of 'I have to know how this ends!"

By adult standards maybe it was too 'tie everything up with a nice bow' to be 5 stars. As a YA book, it was great. I'm so glad I read this series. It kept you on your toes, gave lots of Greek mythology, and added a fun, modern twist. And, I think it will lure in my male students to enjoy reading.

Rating: 5 Stars

Sum it up: A climactic end to a great series.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Battle of the Labyrinth - Rick Riordan

Summary: Percy Jackson isn't expecting freshman orientation to be any fun. But when a mysterious mortal acquaintance appears on campus, followed by demon cheerleaders, things quickly move from bad to worse.

In this fourth installment of the blockbuster series, time is running out as war between the Olympians and the evil Titan lord Kronos draws near. Even the safe haven of Camp Half-Blood grows more vulnerable by the minute as Kronos's army prepares to invade its once impenetrable borders. To stop the invasion, Percy and his demigod friends must set out on a quest through the Labyrinth--a sprawling underground world with stunning surprises at every turn. (Summary from book - Image from

My Review: Battle of the Labyrinth continued along similar lines as the previous novels – action, adventure, almost certain death followed by miraculous escape. While previous novels have been set primarily in human world, with occasional jaunts into the mythological realm, this book was the opposite. Most of the action took place in an underground labyrinth riddled with monsters, ghosts, and deadly traps. I found that I wasn’t nearly as taken with this book as I have been with the previous three. I much preferred the heroes above ground adventures to the Labyrinth and the time they spent in it.

I’ve heard people criticize this series as being too “cinematic” and they are right. Riordan’s books are very cinematic, but that is what I like about them. He always keeps the story moving (a surefire way to keep a young, reluctant reader or this tired mom’s attention) and I can always see the action quite clearly in my head. What can I say? Sometimes my imagination needs a little encouragement.

I definitely sensed a change in the characters and storyline in this book. Battle of the Labyrinth shows a darker aspect than any of the previous novels with themes of revenge and betrayal, while still staying relatively kid-friendly. As with most series (ahemHarryPotterahem) Percy is growing up and so is his story.

My difficulties with this book did nothing to temper my eagerness for the final novel, The Last Olympian, which is currently out in hardcover. The only thing that is keeping me from buying it and completing my series is that I’m one of those weird people that needs my series to all be the same format (mass market, trade paper, or hardcover). I can’t mix and match. It bugs me. So, I’m 10 out of 13 in the library reserve line and it is not-quite-but-almost killing me.

My Rating: 3.5 Stars

Sum it up: My least favorite of the series, but still worth reading.

Also reviewed by Kari.

Come back tomorrow for Kari's review of the final book in the series, "The Last Olympian".


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