Review: My Favorite Mistake by Georgina Bloomberg and Catherine Hapka

 

Title: My Favorite Mistake

Author: Georgina Bloomberg & Catherine Hapka

Publisher: Bloomsbury

ISBN: 978-1599906423

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Tommi, Zara, and Kate are all elite riders on the A Circuit. Tommi, the billionaire heiress, is training a young horse to prove she can make horses a real career. But when her new beau, Alex, convinces her to skip a horse show to party in the Hamptons, the results could be disastrous. Zara, the celebutante wild child, is finally taking her riding seriously. Until the new "nanny" her dad hires threatens to upstage Zara’s party girl status. Then there’s Kate. She doesn’t have money to burn like the others, but she does have Fitz, the barn’s resident hot guy. But when the pressure of being a working student builds, Kate’s perfectionist tendencies threaten to get in the way of her relationship and her riding.

Readers who are growing out of the Canterwood Crest series or searching for an A-list fix have found just what they’re looking for in the A Circuit series.

Review:

If you have been following the blog, you know that it’s no secret that I love horses and books about horses.  When I first saw the A Circuit, I was so excited to read it that I almost expired from heart palpations.  Seriously!  There are so few books around that offer an accurate view of horse shows and owning horses that I was instantly curious to see where this book fell.  Would it feel authentic?  Yup. it did, so I was eager to read the next book in the series, My Favorite Mistake.

I wasn’t as charmed this time around, because I have a hard time relating to the wealthy protagonists.  While I feel right at home with Kate, and could emphasize with her financial struggle to compete in the horse show world, her fellow barn buddies did not endear themselves to me.  Tommi, at least, didn’t grate on my nerves like Zara did, and I even appreciated her internal struggle when she receives an offer on her project horse, Legs.  An aggressive rider from another barn wants to purchase him, but Tommi has serious reservations about his continued health and happiness if she sells him to her.  This  concern for her horse’s welfare totally redeemed her in my eyes.  When she started flaking out and putting her new boyfriend ahead of her dreams and ambitions for the future, I got annoyed with her, because she never seemed to be the wishy-washy type.  She didn’t seem to be the kind of girl to put a boy ahead of the goals she has been striving to conquer, and I did feel let down by her sudden change of personality.  The internal conflict about Legs did win her lots of brownie points, though.

Zara is just an annoying, selfish brat.  Both of her parents are celebrities, and they are both busy advancing their careers and are often not home.  Zara feels that she is not at the top of their priority lists, and she acts out to get their attention.  She comes across as self-centered and unlikable, though she occasionally manages to pull through and actually think about somebody else.  Everything is handed to her on a silver platter, including her awesome horses.  She doesn’t appreciate anything she has, and she goes out of her way to annoy her father.  Too bad he doesn’t pay any attention to her, which makes her act out even more.  I don’t feel that her character is developing much, and I think that is why she is my least favorite of the three very different protagonists of this series.

Kate is having some issues this time around.  I was so disappointed with her by the end of the book, because so much of what is troubling her could be easily solved if she would just open up and confide to her friends.  Kate is anal, bordering on OCD, and she is starting to really harm herself as she continues to push herself at the barn and at shows, finding little time to take care of herself or even eat.  She puts so much pressure on herself to be the best at everything, and in the process, she is compromising her health.  What made this so frustrating is that she has some wonderful friends who have the means to help her.  They genuinely like her and want what’s best for her, but with all of the barn drama, they don’t notice that she is suffering.  Even boyfriend Fitz is too caught up in himself to consider that Kate might be having some serious issues, even after seeing the evidence first hand.

Even though this installment of the series didn’t hit all of the right notes for me, I still enjoyed it and the view into the competitive world of showing hunter/jumpers.  It isn’t much different from the Morgan circuit – everyone is out to have the class of a lifetime and win.  While we don’t have half as much money, or nearly as much drama at our barn, we still manage to have just as much fun. 

Grade: B

Review copy provided by publisher

 

 Subscribe in a reader

Review: Between the Sea and Sky by Jaclyn Dolamore

 

Title: Between the Sea and Sky

Author: Jaclyn Dolamore

Publisher: Bloomsbury

ISBN: 978-1599904344

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

For as long as Esmerine can remember, she has longed to join her older sister, Dosinia, as a siren–the highest calling a mermaid can have. When Dosinia runs away to the mainland, Esmerine is sent to retrieve her. Using magic to transform her tail into legs, she makes her way unsteadily to the capital city. There she comes upon a friend she hasn’t seen since childhood–a dashing young man named Alandare, who belongs to a winged race of people. As Esmerine and Alandare band together to search for Dosinia, they rekindle a friendship . . . and ignite the emotions for a love so great, it cannot be bound by sea, land, or air.

Review:

I enjoy Jaclyn Dolamore’s writing style.  She reminds me a lot of Patricia McKillip or Robin McKinley, with gently flowing prose and interesting world-building tidbits, but she doesn’t spoon-feed a ton of details to the reader.  The plot is slowly unraveled, a thread at a time, in a somewhat leisurely fashion.  While there are moments of extreme danger for the protagonists, the challenges they face never seem insurmountable, and you know that they will eventually be overcome.  The protagonist in Between the Sea and Sky is Esmerine, and I had total confidence in her from the first page.  So the reading journey wasn’t so much about whether she would accomplish her goals, it was about how she would achieve success, and how much she would change because of her journey.

Esmerine has eagerly waited to become a siren so that she and her beautiful older sister, Dosia, can sing together with the other sirens and warn off ships when they don’t pay tribute to the mer-people.  When Dosia disappears, Esmerine is frantic with worry.  Was she kidnapped by a human? Is she being held against her will?  Ignoring the concerns of her parents, Esmerine determinedly strikes out after her sister.  She can’t rest until she is certain that Dosia is not in danger.

I liked the world-building for the mermaids.  Some of them are drawn to be with humans, even though it means the risk of having their magical belts stolen.  Whoever owns their belt owns the mermaid and her powers, so it’s imperative that Esmerine protect hers at all cost.  When she is away from the water, and when she walks in human form, her feet and legs are in constant pain.  There is a price to be paid to be away from her sea, and  Esmerine must endure the agony if she is to find her sister.

Esmerine meets up with an old friend in the city, and at first she is delighted to see Alan again.  Soon, though, she begins to fret that he considers her a nuisance.  Did she read too much into their childhood friendship?  I enjoyed the sweet romance between Alan and Esmerine.  Alan is of a winged race, and a future for them seems impossible.  Esmerine convinces him to help her find her sister, though, and the two head off to face the unknown.  With the odds of them finding Dosia stacked against them, and peril on the road, their journey appears unlikely at best.  It’s Esmerine’s stubbornness that keeps them moving forward, and her sheer force of will that propels her toward success. 

Between the Sea and Sky is a character driven fantasy that may not move fast enough for some readers.  Events build upon themselves, slowly gaining momentum and crescendoing to a satisfying conclusion.  I am looking forward to more of Jackie’s books!

Grade: B

Review copy provided by publisher

Review: The Vision by Jen Nadol

 

Title: The Vision

Author: Jen Nadol

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens

ISBN: 978-1599905976

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Cassie Renfield knows the mark tells her when someone is going to die and that she can intervene and attempt to change fate.  But she still doesn’t understand the consequences, especially whether saving one life dooms another.  With no family left to offer guidance, Cassie goes in search of others like her.  But when she meets Demetria, a troubled girl who seems to have the power of the Fates, Cassie finds the truth isn’t at all what she expected.  And then there’s her heady new romance with bad boy Zander.  Dating him has much graver repercussions than Cassie could ever have imagined, forcing her to make choices that cut to the essence of who she is and what she believes. 

Jen Nadol offers readers a romance with big stakes and an ethical dilemma with no easy answers in this riveting sequel to The Mark. Paranormal fans who love the psychological thrill of Lisa McMann’s bestselling Wake trilogy will flock to this series.

Review:

When I heard there would be a follow-up to Jen Nadol’s The Mark, I started counting down the days until I could read it.  I loved the first book, and I couldn’t put it down until I turned the last page.  I was a little apprehensive about whether the magic of Cassie’s moral dilemma would fuel another book, but I shouldn’t have worried.  This is another winner if you enjoy character driven books or stories where the main focus is on the protagonist trying to figure out one thing that is virtually impossible – their purpose in life.

Cassie has moved to Bellevue, near Chicago, and she is sharing an apartment with Petra.  She has left her small hometown behind, again, because she feels she needs a larger concentration of people surrounding her before she can puzzle through the mystery of the marks she can see.  She works at a funeral home, and at first, her fascination with death is more than a bit morbid.  It is down right disconcerting.  Given her ability to see when someone is about to die, though, Cassie’s actions make perfect sense.  How else does one understand death than by working with the dead and the people who mourn them?

I love the central theme of the series.  Cassie can tell when someone is going to die, within a 24 hour time span.  She has learned that she can change their fate and save them.  But she suspects that in doing so, she is trading their death for someone else’s.  Is it really her place to sacrifice one life for another? Is she just being selfish when she wants to save someone and warn them about the mark?  Just because she can change their fate, should she?  This is the question that keeps me going back to this series.  Cassie is struggling to accept the ethical and moral ramifications of her power, without any outside help.  She can’t exactly run around and tell people about her ability – that would freak them out and make her look like she should be locked up in a loony bin.  It’s not surprising that her mother cracked under the pressure of her powers, and there were times when I thought that Cassie would, too.

When Cassie meets another person with knowledge of the mark, she thinks she’s found someone she can trust, someone who will help her figure everything out.  Nope, that’s not how things work out.  How frustrating!  To finally find someone who knows about her powers, but can’t understand her reluctance to use them.  Someone who becomes infuriated with her for refusing to accept her role in the game of life and death.  Wow!  There was so much tension with this plot thread!  It made me even more upset with Cassie’s grandmother.  How could she keep everything a secret from Cassie?  That was like turning a lamb out with a pride of lions.  Cassie is totally unprepared to face the reality of her life, and I place most of the blame for that firmly at her grandmother’s feet.

I loved this book, and can hardly wait for Jen Nadol’s next outing.  The Vision has it all; drama, romance, suspense.  Most importantly, it has a protagonist who you can’t help but cheer for.  No teenager should have to make the kinds of decisions that Cassie is forced to.  She shouldn’t have to bear the burden of life and death, especially when she still doesn’t understand the ramifications of all of her actions.  If she saves this person, will he turn into a serial killer?  Or will he discover the cure to cancer?  How could anybody make that decision, let alone a high school student?

Grade: A-

Review copy provided by publisher

Review: After Obsession by Carrie Jones and Steven E. Wedel

 

Title: After Obsession

Author: Carrie Jones & Steven E. Wedel

Publisher: Bloomsbury

ISBN: 978-1599906812

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Aimee and Alan have secrets. Both teens have unusual pasts and abilities they prefer to keep hidden. But when they meet each other, in a cold Maine town, they can’t stop their secrets from spilling out. Strange things have been happening lately, and they both feel that something-or someone- is haunting them. They’re wrong. Despite their unusual history and powers, it’s neither Aimee nor Alan who is truly haunted. It’s Alan’s cousin Courtney who, in a desperate plea to find her missing father, has invited a demon into her life-and into her body. Only together can Aimee and Alan exorcise the ghost. And they have to move quickly, before it devours not just Courtney but everything around her.

Filled with heart-pounding romance, paranormal activity, and rich teen characters to love-and introducing an exciting new YA voice, Steven Wedel-this novel is exactly what Carrie Jones fans have been waiting for. Meet your next obsession.

Review:

I am a big fan of Carrie Jones’ Need series, so I was eager to jump into After Obsession.  A joint effort with author Steven E. Wedel, the book features alternating viewpoints between protagonists Aimee and Alan.   This is a fast-paced, creepy read with an evil spirit intent on taking over Courtney, Aimee’s best friend and Alan’s cousin.  Causing strife in their small Maine town, everyone but the two teens refuse to believe that the discord roiling through the populace could be caused by the malicious River Man. Aimee believes, and she knows that the River Man is the reason for her mother’s death. Suffering from a reoccurring nightmare,  Aimee also knows that the river behind her house is anything but the safe haven she always viewed it as.  Instead, death lurks beneath the river’s seemingly placid surface, and she fears that she won’t be able to prevent the horrible accident that threatens to befall someone she knows.

This is a scary read.  I loved the creepy and dark story, and thought that both authors did a great job building the threat of the River Man.  Aimee’s viewpoint was my favorite.  She displayed so much courage and character growth as she faced her fears and slowly came to forgive her mother for leaving her.  Suffering from bi-polar disorder, everyone as assumed that her mother committed suicide, but as the events of the story unfold, Aimee begins to doubt the cause of her mother’s death.  She begins to wonder if the evil that has descended again on their town had something to do with it.  Aimee has always feared that she will be like her mother; she has dreams that sometimes come true, and she has the ability to heal.  She tries to deny these gifts, fearful that if she accepts them, she will follow her mother down into a spiral of madness and death.  As she begins to understand how strong her mother really was, she learns to embrace the powers that they share.

Now, don’t think that I didn’t like Alan, because I did.  I liked him a lot, too!  He is having identity issues, and it doesn’t help when his mother up and moves them to a dinky town in Maine.  The high school doesn’t even have a football team!  The star of his Oklahoma high school’s team, Alan bemoans the lack of football at his new school.  I could really sympathize with him!  The poor kid has to live with his aunt and prickly cousin, and he also has to give up the one sport he loves and excels at.  Thanks to the River Man, Alan and Courtney are soon at odds, which makes his life even more miserable.  Gaining strength from the discord he unleashes, the River Man quickly makes Alan’s time at home a trial. 

Incorporating Native American mysticism and good old-fashioned horror elements, After Obsession is a fun read with lots of scary “things that go bump in the night” moments.  Some of the plot twists were a little too convenient, and I don’t think anyone could learn how to perform an exorcism even with the help of Google, so I did have to suspend disbelief quite a bit.  I didn’t mind, though, because the characters are likable, and the pacing is so swift that I often didn’t have time to question the logic of some of the plot elements.  In this case, going with the flow of the story without over-analyzing it, was a good thing.  It’s a fun read, and it kept me entertained and engaged in the book for the duration. 

Grade: B

Review copy provided by publisher

Cover Shot! My Favorite Mistake by Georgina Bloomberg and Catherine Hapka

I loved The A-Circuit, so I’m super excited to see that there will be a follow-up book.  The horse is a cutie, but I am not so sure that I like the model.  I certainly don’t like what she’s wearing.  I can’t image tackling a few jumps dressed in that!  It would make Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction appear tame.  Wearing that is like wearing flip-flops to work your horse; just think about what you might step in, and better yet, a steel or aluminum shod hoof trampling on your toes.  Despite the fashion disaster that’s waiting to happen, I can hardly wait to get my hands on My Favorite Mistake by Georgina Bloomberg and Catherine Hapka.

Tommi, Zara, and Kate are all elite riders on the A Circuit. Tommi, the billionaire heiress, is training a young horse to prove she can make horses a real career. But when her new beau, Alex, convinces her to skip a horse show to party in the Hamptons, the results could be disastrous. Zara, the celebutante wild child, is finally taking her riding seriously. Until the new "nanny" her dad hires threatens to upstage Zara’s party girl status. Then there’s Kate. She doesn’t have money to burn like the others, but she does have Fitz, the barn’s resident hot guy. But when the pressure of being a working student builds, Kate’s perfectionist tendencies threaten to get in the way of her relationship and her riding.

Readers who are growing out of the Canterwood Crest series or searching for an A-list fix have found just what they’re looking for in the A Circuit series.

In stores March 2012

Bind Up News! The Drake Chronicles by Alyxandra Harvey

I have made no secret about how much I love The Drake Chronicles by Alyxandra Harvey. There’s good news for those of you who have yet to read them!  The publisher is making the first three volumes available for $9.99!  Yup!! For 10 bucks, you can read Hearts at Stake, Blood Feud, and Out for Blood in one convenient volume with a new cover!  That’s over 800 pages of Drake hotness for $9.99! 

 

MEET the Drakes:

A darkly romantic, irresistibly alluring family of royal vampire blood

READ Alyxandra Harvey’s Ruling Passion:

A haunting, humorous saga, now gathered into one juicy volume!

RULING PASSION

By Alyxandra Harvey

Publication date: September 27, 2011

978-0-80272-802-9 / $9.99 / 816 pages

www.alyxandraharvey.com

Bind up contains: Hearts at Stake, Blood Feud, and Out for Blood

(Previously published separately as The Drake Chronicles)

"A refreshing take of the familiar teenage vampire drama . . . Harvey builds an engaging world of vampire cultures balanced wit a smart mix of darkness and humor."

Publishers Weekly

“A fabulous and fast-paced read! The action is superb . . . this is the perfect

escape read."

Romantic Times


You can read excerpts from all three books by visiting the links below:

Hearts at Stake: http://issuu.com/bloomsbury/docs/heartsatstake/1

Blood Feud: http://issuu.com/bloomsbury/docs/bloodfeud

Out for Blood: http://issuu.com/bloomsbury/docs/outforblood/1

If you haven’t read The Drake Chronicles yet, you don’t know how much fun you are missing out on!  Use the handy widget below to order your copy today.  The book will be in stores September 27, so you can also visit your favorite bookseller for a copy.