Isabella’s Pink Umbrella (New York)

Isabella's Pink Umbrella New YorkIsabella’s Pink Umbrella New York by Yvette Cragun

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

As a kid I used an umbrella for so many things. Of course it was great to use in the rain, but I loved pretending it was a parasol when it was sunny, and as a big fan of Mary Poppins an umbrella could have all kinds of magical properties as well. So when I read about Isabella’s adventure with her umbrella it just gave me warm fuzzies. My girls often request this book as our bedtime story, so I know it sparks excitement, imagination, and interest for them too. It is also an entertaining way to teach a little about the sights and sounds of New York City.  The rhyming scheme is a fun addition to the storytelling though there are a few parts where the rhyming feels a little awkward.

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Eruption

I have had a great couple of days wrapped up in this book. I am excited to share my review!  And even more excited for my friend Adrienne Quintana who wrote it.

Eruption

Eruption by Adrienne Quintana

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Summary from Goodreads: “Jace Vega has finally landed her dream job—working for Omnibus, an up-and-coming tech firm. But a mysterious message from her future self sets Jace and her old friend Corey racing to piece together clues before Omnibus destroys their future—and their past. This fast-paced thriller will keep you guessing till the very last page.”

My Review

I have waited eagerly for almost a year to get the published copy of this book into my hands. It was completely worth the wait. If only I didn’t have to wait for the next book now!

Eruption is unique in many ways; I love that Jace Vega is not an annoying teenager still trying to figure out how to not care what the cheerleaders will think of her. She is a young professional with smarts and drive and confidence. Of course there are some deep-rooted issues that she is trying to figure out, otherwise where would we find a plot? But rather than bumbling around whining about all her problems she has coping strategies that allow her to still function and contribute to the world. The coping strategies don’t solve it all; she does have to face her problems and deal with them, but it was so refreshing to have a capable adult’s perspective rather than a teenager’s while also enjoying all of the excitement, drama, suspense, and romance that we have come to love from the current popular young adult fiction.

You won’t find a storyline and plot like Eruption anywhere else. It is an intricate science fiction techno thriller with a large dose of psychological insight and just good clean romance. From page one it draws you in and the pacing and plot revelations are perfectly timed. As each mystery is introduced the suspense builds gradually. Pieces of the puzzle are presented at just the right moment to keep your interest. Then there is the action peak and it’s full speed ahead. You won’t want to put it down until all has been revealed.

The smarts in coming up with this plot and arranging it to make sense and keep the suspense is admirable. Reminds me of the workout my brain had after watching the movie “Inception.” Eruption will keep your mind busy for days after as you think and rethink about how it all fits together. The implications of this unique take on time travel will give you plenty of food for thought as well. I enjoyed the use of social media in the plot and character development. Problems and benefits of social media are presented in a completely “non-preachy” way. Instead readers can simply evaluate and draw their own conclusions about what’s good and bad and how it all fits into their own relationships.

The writing style is enjoyable too. Interesting and consistent characters with a great mix of dialogue, description, 1st person narrative, and action sequence allow you to get caught up in the story and lose all track of time. It is an easily entertaining read, but with substance. It sticks with you and gives you the opportunity to ponder more than just who will end up with you; though rooting for your favorite suitor has its pleasures too.

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Age Recommendation: The writing is not difficult to read, but the time travel concepts may not be understood by younger or immature readers so I would recommend it for 14 and older.

Appropriateness: Clean and suspenseful. No immorality or profanity or anything else  offensive in my book, but plenty of excitement including a scene in which my needle phobia kicked into high gear. Anyone else ever almost faint from reading about cuts and stitches?

Book Recommendations: If you like Eruption you may also enjoy Armageddon Summer by Jane Yolen and Bruce Coville, The Giver by Lois Lowry, City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau, or A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle

Uncovering Cobbogoth

My husband is so awesome to support my reading addiction! Whenever there is an author doing a book signing at our local Costco he will peruse the book, talk to the author, and if it looks like something that would interest me he gets the book signed and buys it for me. Way cooler than getting flowers! Though flowers are always nice as well.

Uncovering Cobbogoth was one of these Costco discoveries, so my book has a fun note and signature from the author, Hannah L. Clark.

Here is the summary of the book from Goodreads:

“Norah Lukens needs to uncover the truth about the fabled lost city of Cobbogoth. After her archaeologist uncle’s murder, Norah is asked to translate his old research journal for evidence and discovers that his murder was a cover-up for something far more sinister.
When she turns to neighbor and only friend James Riley for help, she realizes that not only is their bitter-sweet past haunting her every step, but James is keeping dangerous secrets. Can Norah discover what they are before its too late to share her own?”

And Here is what I thought about the book. (It was cool to see that the author actually “liked” my review on Goodreads too.)

Uncovering Cobbogoth (Cobbogoth, #1)Uncovering Cobbogoth by Hannah L. Clark

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was hooked pretty much immediately. Within the first chapter I definitely wanted to unravel the mysteries that were being introduced. I appreciated the unique story world. This didn’t feel like recycled version of current popular books (though I did have some flashes to Twilight with the romance.) The action sequences were well-written. I was tense and reading quickly to hear what would happen next. The descriptions evoked emotion, but were not so graphic as to completely gross me out.

While I thoroughly enjoyed the book and couldn’t wait to find out what would happen, there were some “wrinkles” that could have been better ironed out. I thought that about halfway through the pacing and order of the plot development became rushed. There was a lot of “telling” to reveal information, and there were some questions brought out that didn’t get explained at all. As the main character is being given important information she asks a clarifying questions and the other characters simply say, “It’s a long story,” or “I’ll explain later,” but then they don’t. Very unsatisfying as a reader. Either don’t bring up those questions at all if they can’t or won’t be explained or else explain them. If they will be explained in a sequel then don’t bring up the question until the sequel.

There were other questions that I asked as a reader that were never brought up which made it more difficult for me to understand the laws and workings of this reality the author has created for her story. I enjoyed the details that were included to make this fantasy world fit into our own; however, there were enough details missing that I wasn’t completely pulled in. I couldn’t fully accept the fantasy because I didn’t have enough context for how this could possibly happen in our world without the “normal folk” knowing about it.

In general I felt that the revelation of information was disorganized. There was too much given here and too little given there. It was hard to file it all away when it wasn’t really pertinent to the events at hand, and then other times it was confusing and difficult to accept the events because I didn’t know enough or have enough background information.

All in all I give it 3 stars. Despite some disorganization the writing style was enjoyable and the unique idea is refreshing. I definitely will get my hands on the sequels when they are available, and I will probably read this one again before that. It was enjoyable enough for a second read, and I would want the remind myself about the rules of the Cobbogothian world to be sure I would know what was going on in the sequels.

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Age Recommendation: 14 and older and possibly even as young as 12 would enjoy this book. The language is easy to read, but not dumbed down either.

Appropriateness: Some action sequences may bother very sensitive readers, but I didn’t find them overly graphic. Just exciting. Otherwise nothing else that I would warn about. The characters are likable and respectable people.

Other Book Recommendations: If you like this one I would recommend the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series as well as the related series Heroes of Olympus both by Rick Riordan. You may also like his Kane Chronicles series but I didn’t get into it as much. All of these are children/teen books but I found them funny and exciting. You may also enjoy The Sea of Trolls and The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm both by Nancy Farmer. I would also recommend Fablehaven and The Beyonders  by Brandon Mull.