Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Book review: "Since You Asked..." by Maurene Goo

Title: Since You Asked...
Author: Maureen Goo
Publisher: Scholastic, 2013

First off, love this cover. Except for maybe the color pink in the model's sunglasses, it seems pretty much perfect. This was a funny debut, and I would certainly check out Goo's next book, but I did have some issues.

Holly Kim is just starting her sophomore year. She has three best friends who are also her only friends, and she has a job on the school newspaper team as copy editor. However, things change real fast for Holly when she accidentally submits a joke column in the first newspaper issue of the year instead of the real one, and she somehow finds herself with a new job as columnist. This comes with mixed results, since she was kind of offensive and snarky in the joke column, so she gains some haters as well as, surprising to her, fans. Either way, Holly ends up snarking her way through 10th grade with her monthly column, and finds herself and her worldview changing a bit along the way.

I was actually surprised at how little this book has to do with Holly's column. At the beginning of each month, we are treated to her entries, so we as readers know exactly what the school is reading. However, from the description of the book I expected that to be the focus. It was not. Much of the book is about Holly trying to balance her American identity and her Korean heritage, made especially difficult by her strict parents (especially her mother) and her desire to have a "normal" American life. I actually got tired of reading how Korean her family is, as she seemingly takes every possible opportunity to mention it. As I kept reading, I did realize this is integral to the book and to Holly's identity, but sometimes it seemed too much.

The humor is good, and there are some clever lines and dialogue that I enjoyed. Again, at some points it seemed too much, but I was never put off by it.

One of my biggest problems is with the ending, if only because there are so many loose ends that aren't resolved. Because of this, I'm fully expecting there to be a sequel, since so much is left to uncertainty, and Holly obviously has some more growing to do, especially with some new obstacles thrown in her way at the end of the school year. If there isn't a sequel, I'll be disappointed.

Disclosure: I received this e-galley via NetGalley.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Audiobook review: "Of Poseidon" by Anna Banks

Title: Of Poseidon
Author: Anna Banks
Publisher: AudioGO!, 2013 (print available from
Narrator: Rebecca Gibel 

I really enjoyed listening to this audiobook, and I'm grateful to AudioSync for making it available for free for one week!

Emma, after meeting a strange boy named Galen and his twin sister Rayna, witnesses something horrific in the ocean in Florida. When she gets back home to New Jersey, all she wants is to forget what happened, but knows nothing will be the same for her again. Imagine her surprise when she sees Galen on the first day of school—and he's in all of her classes. Soon it becomes clear that Emma has a secret, though she doesn't even know what it is. And this secret may be the key to saving Galen's people.

Galen is Syrena, or as humans refer to them, a merman, and a Royal, no less. He knows Emma is Syrena too, and to make matters even more complicated, it looks as if she might have the gift of Poseidon, a gift that can save the Syrena race. But Galen must fight his growing attraction to her, since she must mate with his older brother to keep the peace between the two kingdoms of Syrena. Like I said, complicated.

There were a lot of things I liked about Of Poseidon and the world Banks has created. The Syrena culture is well thought out, and we learn about it as Emma does. I also liked the mystery surrounding Emma's parentage, since she grew up believing herself and her parents to be human. The romance didn't seem overdone to me, either. It's not love at first sight, though both Galen and Emma find themselves attracted to each other despite their best efforts. I was also pleased with the secondary characters, most notably Rayna, Toraf, and Rachel, who were fun to read about/listen to and added a lot of humor to the story.

The real kicker was the twist at the end. I kind of saw it coming, but not too far ahead of time, and the cliffhanger ending isn't too cliffhanger-y, if that makes se
nse. We know there is a second book, and we know the many questions and loose ends that will be addressed, but our MCs are not in any immediate danger or anything.

I thought Rebecca Gibel did a great job with the narration. She has a pleasant voice, I could distinguish each character easily, and she put the appropriate amount of emotion into the dialogue and Emma's inner monologue. I never felt it was over- or underacted. I would certainly listen to another book narrated by her.

I hope I can find a copy of Of Triton on audio soon, as I would love to continue listening to this story.

Disclosure: I got a copy of this audiobook through the free SYNC downloads this summer. Find this week's selections here!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Book review: "Aloha Rose" by Lisa Cox Carter

Title: Aloha Rose
Author: Lisa Cox Carter
Publisher: Abingdon Press, due out November 2013

One of the latest books in the Quilts of Love series from Abingdon Press, we travel to the Big Island, all because of a quilt.

After finally finding her birth family thanks to them recognizing the photograph of a quilt she was found in when she was a baby, Laney flies to the Big Island of Hawaii to meet them, hoping to find a place she can call her forever home. What she doesn't expect is the news that her birth mother is dead, nor the attraction she feels for Kai, adopted into the family after a turbulent childhood of his own. Laney looks for family and acceptance, all while trying to ignore her growing feelings for Kai, who is doing his best to ignore his own feelings for Laney.

This was not the best written book I've ever read, for sure, but if you like the Love Inspired series from Harlequin, this would be a good series to try. It's Christian fiction so there is a lot of that, which I like, but I know not everyone does.

The romance was a bit unbelievable for me; it felt like they fell for each other way too fast, and I would have liked less of the internal monologue of sappiness from both main characters.

Toward the end we got a few nice twists and some action, which were much needed, so all in all it wasn't too bad. I wish there had been a bit more action or exploration of the island, or more development earlier in the book in Laney's relationships with the other newfound members of her family. I don't think I'll be reading other books in this series, but that's just because they're not really my thing.

This book would be completely appropriate for teen readers, considering there is minimal physical romance, just emotional.

Recommended to fans of Christian fiction, romance, and the Love Inspired series from Harlequin.

Disclaimer: I got a copy of this e-galley via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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