Saturday, March 15, 2014

Candlelight Christmas

Candlelight ChristmasCandlelight Christmas by Susan Wiggs
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Logan O'Donnell is a dedicated father who's worked hard to provide for his son, Charlie, creating and running a prosperous insurance company in the small town of Avalon. When his ex-wife's new husband gets transferred to a far away military base, Logan is left with a Charlie-sized hole in his life, and he decides to embark on a new business venture, one that fills him with the passion and purpose his insurance company never has. It's his sister's friend, Darcy, who gives him the idea.

Darcy has just divorced her cheating ex-husband and vows never again to marry, especially not a man with kids. Giving up her stepchildren was as difficult as giving up her marriage. Still, it's hard to resist Logan, and even harder when he sets out to persuade her to give them a chance.

I am so delighted to see Logan get the happiness he deserves! I felt so bad for him in Marrying Daisy Bellamy because he tried so hard to make things work and be the best father he could be, and it wasn't his fault that Daisy was in love with someone else. I'm glad Ms. Wiggs gave him his own book. Interestingly, according to the timeline of book #2 in this series, The Winter Lodge, this book takes place in about 2018.

For readers' advisors: story and character doorways. Some sex scenes but nothing terribly explicit.

View all my reviews

Monday, March 10, 2014

Dixie Wants an Allergy

Dixie Wants an AllergyDixie Wants an Allergy by Tori Corn
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When Dixie goes to school, it seems like all her new friends have exciting allergies that let them do fun things like wear sparkly bracelets, eat special snacks, and go for rides in ambulances. Dixie feels left out, and she wants an allergy, too! All too soon she learns to be careful what she wishes for because having an allergy is not all it's cracked up to be. The next time she makes a wish, she'll wish for something better.

This is a cute picture book to introduce the concept of allergies to a young child. I liked how the illustrations showed Dixie daydreaming about having an allergy like each of her friends and being the center of attention, but then discovering that being the center of attention can be quite uncomfortable. My one suggestion to parents and grandparents would be to pair it with a story where the main character doesn't always get what s/he wishes for, since in this book both of Dixie's wishes come true, giving a mild underlying impression that all wishes come true, which isn't the lesson I'd want to teach.

I received a free ebook copy from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

View all my reviews

Friday, March 7, 2014

The Chase

The Chase (O'Hare and Fox, #2)The Chase by Janet Evanovich
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Master thief Nick Fox and FBI Special Agent Kate O'Hare have returned, teaming up to steal back an ancient Chinese statue from former White House Chief of Staff, Carter Grove, who stole it years ago from the Smithsonian Museum--a fact only a select handful of people know. China wants their statue back now, though, so Nick and Kate have only a couple of weeks to break in to Grove's heavily guarded and wired mansion, grab the statue, sneak in to the heavily guarded private airplane of the Chinese playboy sent to retrieve it, and swap the real one for the fake one in the safe. What could go wrong?

Carter Grove is a Bad Guy (patterned a bit after Karl Rove, perhaps?)--he's manipulative, greedy, unscrupulous, controlling, and runs a private security forces company staffed by mercenaries chosen because they enjoy killing. He feels entitled to have whatever he wants, including a wide variety of expensive artwork belonging to other people. When he realizes he's been robbed, his fury knows no bounds, and he sets out to destroy everyone who tricked him.

Luckily, Kate and Nick have backup: Kate enlists her dad--a retired black ops agent--and a couple of his old cronies. Nick finds a disgruntled Geek Squad techie willing to put his hacking skills to use for the greater good. Plus Boyd and Willie make encore appearances as well.

Whereas the first book in the series reminded me of a combination of the TV shows White Collar and Burn Notice, the second book also reminds me of the movie Ocean's Eleven. Nick manages to merge Matt Bomer's (White Collar) intelligent con artist with that of Simon Baker's (in The Mentalist) and add it to Jeffrey Donovan's (Burn Notice) and George Clooney's (Ocean's Eleven) strategic thinking. Special Agent Kate strikes me as a blend of Mary McCormack's character in In Plain Sight and Sandra Bullock's character at the beginning of Miss Congeniality, albeit less frumpy.

I think I liked this one a little better than the first one, mostly because all the setup was out of the way. Once you accept the basic premise of a straight-laced FBI agent sacrificing some of her principles to work with the very criminal she's dedicated her career to putting behind bars, then you can just sit back and enjoy the wild ride. What I don't understand is why this book is called The Chase and the first is The Heist, when really it would make more sense the other way around.

For readers' advisors: it's a fast-paced adventure with no sex and very little swearing. Story doorway is primary.

I received a free ebook Advanced Reader's Copy (ARC) from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

View all my reviews

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Kenny and the Dragon

Kenny and the DragonKenny and the Dragon by Tony DiTerlizzi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Kenny Rabbit is a bookish sort of a boy. He lives on a farm with his parents, and his best friend is the town's bookseller. Then Kenny's dad spies a dragon on their farm, and Kenny learns that not everything you read in books is true, certainly not when it comes to dragons. THIS dragon loves creme brulée and hasn't ever eaten a princess. Unfortunately, the townsfolk are fearful of having a dragon in their midst, and Kenny must come up with a daring plan to save his new friend.

I absolutely fell in love with this sweet story of friendship, loyalty, bravery, and ingenuity! I can see why it won Switzerland's Prix Chronos award, which, according to Tony DiTerlizzi's website is "an inter-generational book award with the ambition to encourage people to read and to bring together generations: children at the age of 10 to 12 and elderly people together read and review five nominated books."

For readers' advisors: It's got some great vocabulary words, so it might be a bit of a stretch for some 3rd and 4th graders, but it would make a great choice for reading with an adult at bedtime.

View all my reviews