Thursday, December 18, 2014

Review: CHRISTMAS IN VENICE by Meadow Taylor (short story)

Olivia's Christmas trip to Venice, Italy should be a holiday dream come true. But when she’ s confronted by a handsome Italian cop about her unattended luggage, she worries she won't even make it out of the Marco Polo Airport…

My thoughts: After living in Italy for 3 months, I now know more than ever that I would definitely want to go back. And on the list of places to go: VENICE! And, after reading this story, I want to make it a goal to go during Christmas. The problem was that the reader never makes it beyond the airport.

First rule of thumb when traveling ANYWHERE: Never leave your luggage unattended. For Olivia, the trip didn’t start off so well with the polizia on your tail.

I liked the way it started, but I felt like there could’ve been more to it. I wanted to hear about the lustrous scenes of Venice. But what do you expect for a short story?

My rating: 3 stars

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Review: THE DOLL by J.C. Martin

CUIDADO EN La Isla de la Muñecas
On La Isla de la Muñecas (Island of the Dolls), dolls worn and withered throughout the years are hung in memory of a dead girl. Most of them look like Chuckie—very creepy. “Don’t touch the dolls,” they say, for it will disturb the spirit. Why even take a tour like this?

Ever since that tour day, Joyce has been freaked out about those dolls. Then she realizes that her daughter has a new imaginary friend, but is she really imaginary…or is it the curse of the doll?

Now, she must figure out a way to break the curse or deal with the consequences.

This was a quick mystery; however, I felt that the story could’ve elaborated a bit more on the curse and history of the dead girl.  
My rating: 3 stars

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Review: FAST FORWARD by Juliet Madison

What would you do if you woke up 25 years into the future—into your old, wrinkly body? I’d probably have a heart attack…or, at the very least, wishing for one.

Kelli Crawford has it all—gorgeous looks, a successful modeling career, and a hunky boyfriend. No wonder her “pudgy” sister was always jealous of her. But what happens when the young supermodel wakes up at 50? Yikes! What a nightmare!

“Yesterday, [she was] young, unmarried, and…firm, and, now [she was] old, married, and…saggy!” (268) Oh, the horror!

So many things have changed in the future, like the ubiquitous use of an auto-driving, talking car with coffee maker, for instance. And what the heck was an e-pad? The future sort of reminded me of Marty McFly’s travel experience to his own future, which had holograms and flying cars.

I was perplexed and somewhat perturbed by how quickly we delved into the character’s old self without a single clue or reason to how she got there in the first place. I mean, even in Back to the Future, we at least knew it was the Delorean that got Marty McFly to a different time.

Most of the book revolved around the confusion of Kelli’s senior life. We had to learn the “who, what, where, and why.” Well, of course! Reading it was like watching a comedy movie set in the U.K.

I especially loved her foot-in-the-mouth moments and the scene with her struggling to squeeze her fat body into a slim suit.

In the end, this unexpected leap to her future was a real eye-opener for the conceited model. According to the psychic, there was a reason she was propelled into the future. But what? One had to hope that Kelli would figure out a way to get back to her former, young life, where she belonged.

My main criticism was the amount of time spent on all the gushy family drama. The character drawled on and on about people she didn’t know and all that went on with the facial. I think it deviated too much from the time-travel idea. The concept was good, but the execution of it could’ve been better—it could’ve been shortened and more focused.

My rating: 3.5 stars

Friday, December 12, 2014

Review: BESWITCHED by Molly Snow

Surla is a magical, black cat, and Idis is a witch and her keeper. In an attempt to escape the mean and evil witch, Surla accidentally switches bodies with a high school girl named Cathy. The two must live the life of the other while hiding from the wrath of Idis.

In the interim, the cat shows Cathy how to show off, be cool, and just pretty much how to survive high school. As with any typical high school, there are cute jocks and mean girls, and the two must live through it all—and figure out how to escape the witch and switch back!

This was another Freaky Friday story—but with felines. Oddly enough, some parts of the story were told from the eye of the cat. Well, of course, these were magical cats, for god’s sakes!

It kind of reminded me of the movie, Hocus Pocus, with its Disney antics and fumbling witch that may have taken a likeness to the funny Bette Midler, but there wasn’t as much magic as I thought it would’ve had.

By the end, Surla made some really good friends in Todd and Chrissy, just like Sabrina in Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, but what’s to happen when she must leave and return to her cat body?

The showdown, I thought, was sort’ve confusing. I didn’t really know what the heck was going on. And, above all else, it ended with a cliff-hanger, which I hate. “Idis is…” That’s it? See, the writers/publishers do this to you on purpose, because they want to force you to get the next book in the series. What a jip! And why is there a series? I mean, how many times can you switch lives with a cat? Well, judging from the title of the next book, BeSwitched Witch, someone might be switching with Idis, the evil witch. That might be worth checking out a little.

Overall, this was a cute, funny, easy-to-follow story that was mostly intended for the 12-year old audience judging from the simple writing style.
My rating: 3 stars

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Review: DON'T DIE, DRAGONFLY by Linda Joy Singleton

The Story: Now living with her grandmother after being kicked out of school, Sabine Rose hides her psychic powers from everyone. Yet, Sabine can't seem to get the bossy voice of Opal, her spirit guide, out of her head . . . or the disturbing image of a girl with a dragonfly tattoo.

My thoughts: Sabine is a typical high school girl with a not-so-typical psychic gift. Like most 16-year-olds in that awkward stage, she’s underdeveloped (no boobs) and acts like a giddy fool in front of her crush.

When I first started reading this, it reminded me of those Goosebumps book series I was so into growing up, with scenes drawn out of bedtime stories that had monsters in the closet and whatnot; then, as I continued, it transcended into something more like those Sweet Valley High books I used to always avoid, with girls right out the movie, Clueless. As if!

Sabine has to struggle with wanting to do the right thing, but not being branded a freak. Like Buffy, she wants to be the popular girl dating the cute guy and participate in high school activities, like the prom; she does not want to have to chase unknown demons with a power she neither wants nor knows how to use. Sabine wants to ignore the visions she’s having and be “in love” with her guy. Quite frankly, I’ve always been repulsed by “teenage love”—so sickening and stupid, and often resulting in PDA’s (Public Displays of Affection.) Who counts the seconds of togetherness? “Oh, we’ve been together for 2 weeks-8 days-and-6 ½ hours”—Gag!

When Sabine eventually finds herself in a grueling mess, she must force herself to open up and use her powers to find a way out. For me, this was where it got exciting, as I’ve always had a fascination with seers and psychic gifts. I especially loved how there was more than one character with a special gift.

Although the ending left me in a quandary because of the cliffhanger, it was still a quick read you can get through in one night. I may have to get the second book in this series just to find out what was in that box.

My rating: 3.5 stars

Monday, December 8, 2014

Review: THE MIND READERS by Lori Brighton

The reader hears the heart and tortured soul of a mind reader, a young girl named Cameron.

Knowing the truth about everyone can sometimes put a damper on Cameron. She cannot believe the people she calls “friends” are a bunch of two-faced liars. Besides, “most people’s thoughts were annoying.” (374) I agreed with Cameron about there being “so many more important things than school crushes.” She wasn’t flaky and vain like the other kids. I dug that about her.

The plot suddenly thickens when a body mysteriously appears on a beach shore and the words “I killed her” filters into Cameron’s head amid the screams of rambling thoughts. But who said it? Then a strange boy—one Cameron can’t read—shows up out of the blue. Could Lewis be like her?

I just loved Lewis! He was an intriguing heart throb with mystifying allure and a protective nature.

The hunt for the Mind Readers was on and Cameron could be in danger—unless she goes with Lewis to a school and trains her abilities. I couldn’t help but be impressed by all their powers.

You could feel Cameron’s hard work and frustrations as she tries to master her powers. In the meantime, she’s still this shy, giddy girl, especially when she was around Lewis. But are Lewis’ feelings genuine? Was the mentor, Aaron, being honest? Or were they both just using her?

Well-written and enjoyable! A story that pulls you into a vortex of mystery and excitement.

I can’t wait for more of the Mind Readers.

On TBR list: The Mind Thieves (Book 2)

My rating: 5 stars

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Review: THERE’S ALWAYS LOVE by Joycie Russ

Jade, a young homicide detective has strange dreams that lead her into reopening a cold case. As she searhes for answers, she discovers old family secrets and a world she never knew existed.

My thoughts: Questions without answers. That’s what our heroine, Jade, has after the recurring dream of finding that dead body.

The mystery behind the dreams and the puzzling murder draw you in, but then the plot deviated to a lackluster story pattern. Suddenly it became all about the engagement, the marriage, and about the love of being in love. Oh, give me a break. What about the dead body?

I wanted to learn more about the dream, but when all she could talk about was "happy" life together, I quickly became disillusioned and disinterested.

If I were a lover of love, this would be an okay story with a pedestrian writing style.

My rating: 2 stars