Vailia's Page Turner

Dream Factory

Dream Factory - Brad Barkley, Heather Hepler Welcome to the world of "Happily Ever After." Well, here at Disney, the staff aren't so happy but the show must go on so Disney hires some temp replacements: Ella (Cinderella), Mark (Prince Charming), Luke (Dale) and Cassie (Chip) amongst other new cast members.

The setting seemed very well written. While I have never been to Disney World, this book helped give me an interesting visual behind the scenes. The is a huge parkwide scavenger hunt the new cast participates in that gives us some interesting look-sees plus the best insight into the characters themselves (more on the hunt to come). The story is given to us from two perspectives. Ella and Luke take alternating chapters to give us the story.

I wasn't a great fan of the characters. Ella I can sympathize with as she is going through a really tough time, and having to smile all day at strangers doesn't often make things easier. However otherwise she seemed a bit dull to me. Luke was a bit better, with a quirky sense of humor and a middle name that left me grinning. With the exception of how quickly he changes his interest in girls, I liked him overall. But I cannot blame him for that. While Cassie is spunky, she shows some true colors when she bails on him for the scavenger hunt. This is how Luke and Ella's story begins. And lets not forget Prince Charming! Why isn't he fighting for his princess? Well partly because he isn't her boyfriend in real life plus he is more amused it seems just watching things unfold.

This is a cute, if not cliche story but I enjoyed it over. Not the greatest YA by any means but any fans of disney should read this. The romance is light and sweet and very fairy tail-esque.

Mine Till Midnight

Mine Till Midnight - Lisa Kleypas Thoughts on this book -review in progress

I do not think this book is for me. It was very well written but for the life of me, I felt nothing for it. While is sad, since I heard so many great things about it.

The main focus of the Story is on Cam and Amelie. But there is also other characters, in particular Merripen (strange name) and Win. I'd just be getting into what is happening with our main stars, then WHAM! My focus is forced elsewhere. Often that is fine, but for some reason it kept me disconnected from the characters.

What I can say is I liked that this is not your typical, insta-love romance. In fact, Cam has his his work cut out (okay i guess it it insta-love for his part). Amelia's focus is elsewhere and not in looking for a man.

As I already stated, the writing is very good. And there are a few hot scenes between out couples. But no matter how hard I wanted to, I just felt very distant the entire time.

Real Mermaids Don't Wear Toe Rings

Real Mermaids Don't Wear Toe Rings - Helene Boudreau I had a great time with this. Jade is one fantastic girl and the humor portrayed in this book had me shaking with laughter at the time. If I were still 14 and knew Jade, she probably would have been one of my best friends growing up. She is just that kind of girl!

The book starts off with what would top any girl's list as one of the worst days Ever. i both laughed, was mortified and sympathetic toward Jade. Often all at once. From period disaster, to crush humiliation, all a girl needs is to sprout a fin to top off the day, right? Yep!

It is just Jade and her father and she is about to learn that, while her mother has passed away, she also passed along a genetic trait to Jade. She is a mermaid! And Jade is far from happy about it! One thing I do wish though, is to get a better feel for her crush and her father. the focus was very tunneled for the story.

This is just book one in the series and I am eager to see where it goes. Quirky, cute and full of fun, with just enough drama to set things in balance, I really enjoyed it. This book is aimed more a the younger side of the YA genre to middle grade. But even as an adult, I got a few kicks out of it. Medium paced story, with a few surprise twists and if you don't laugh at least once, get your sense of humor checked! :)

The Fairy Rebel

The Fairy Rebel - Lynne Reid Banks, William Geldart I was sucked in from the cover. Honestly, the description only determined that it was something potentially cute. But honestly, it would have had to been a horrible plot to turn me away! I had to read about these awesome looking fairies!

Tiki was fantastic! Caring, determined and strong! She helps the human Jan to have a child and then continues to be very involved in their lives in the years to come. Yet when her queen finds out, she is in a world of trouble.

Now from the summary I expected that trouble to come sooner. Each page I kept waiting for it. Well, it doesn't come until much closer to the end. That is when the story really heats up. Until then, it is honestly a bit slow. Cute, but slow. Bindi was an adorable kid, Jan and her husband was just randomly there with no personality. But the fairies-they are another story, full of life and personality and silly quirks!

This is perfect for tweens readers. Lynne Reid Banks continues to impress me with her unique creative worlds. This book is no exception.

Safe and Sound (A Fields of Elysium Novella)

Safe and Sound (A Fields of Elysium Novella) - A.B. Whelan I think I made a mistake in reading thins when and how I did. See, I have yet to read the first official book to the series. Some books you can start with the prequel. Not here. I was so confused.

Due to this, I am not considering this an official review (you won't yet find this on my blog or amazon, etc). My plan is to read the first book in the series, then come back and see how I think this ties in, once I know more. This just jumps right in but it is easy to tell I am missing part of the story, leaving me with a lot of questions. These questions just kept building as I read with few of them answered. But after chatting with a few others, it seems if I read the first book, I should be okay. So fair warning to anyone else who has not read the series!

What I did like was the characters. This book goes through quite a few as it is given to us over many years. Although I must admit the time jumps can be a bit disconcerting, especially when you just start to get the feel of what is going on. But even the glimpses we get, I see lots of diverse personality. The parent's tale is quite tragic and Victor's is intriguing.

I liked the writing. Very fast-paced and engaging and doesn't really let up. Something is always happening or changing so it is impossible to be bored reading this.

My Name is Joe

My Name is Joe - Stefan Bourque This is one of those reads that really makes you stop and THINK about the life you are living.

Joe is you average middle-age guy who has now family or social life. He is diagnosed with a terminal cancer and this sets him on a course to re-evaluate his life. So many people, to certain extents, remind me of Joe. Living their life, day-to-day with no real goal or impact. Before he dies, Joe wants to change that.

This story is short but beautiful. I absolutely love how it was written. It is not a fast-paced book. Each moment in this story is full of meaning. Many times did I find myself with thoughts turning inward as I read this. And more than once did a silent, slow tear trickle down my cheeks. Especially toward the end. So fair warning, tissue might be handy. It is a very emotional, moving story.

Seeing things from Joe's perspective was easy to relate to and follow. I highly recommend this. we all find ourselves in life's ruts and this puts things in their place.

The Substitute Bridegroom

The Substitute Bridegroom - Charlotte Louise Dolan This has to be one of the most distant relationship romances I have ever read! The marriage of convenience, turns to love romance theme doesn't work for me in the way we get it here. The husband is never around!

Basically what happens it Elizabeth is hurt by captain Darius' lack of caution. This cases her to lose her fiance, and social status. So Darius is pressured to marry her as compensation. For the first 3/2 of the book I did not like his character at all! He never tires to honestly make things up to her. not even a simple "sorry." Then he doesn't trust her, then ignores her! Great start to their marriage, right? Over time, the couple does apparently get to know each other, but with how it plays out if just never feels real.

Elizabeth's character, however, I liked. For all she goes through, she stands strong. The other characters in the book were interesting but I cannot say I cared much for them(some of them are more horrible than her husband!). but I was shocked how much they were involved. I am used to these romance books so focused on just the couple but this does not. It is a wider world which was interesting. the time period is well described which made the book more real.

The writing style is far from my favorite. It all seems a bit scattered to me, making it less enjoyable to try and follow what is happening, and when. Timeframes get a bit blurred.

A Midsummer Night's Dream: Fully Dramatized Audio Edition

A Midsummer Night's Dream: Fully Dramatized Audio Edition - William Shakespeare, Full Cast Dramatization Lyrical and mesmerizing! I got a dramatized audio copy of this book. It really brings this story to life!

A very different love story for the ages. Couplings, love triangles, love quads, and love chases. It is all here. Thank you fantasy forest for all this wonderful chaos. Some parts a whimsical, others near tragic, some comedy. You never know what the next scene will hold.

When just listening to this, it can take a bit to follow the story at first. I had no idea who anyone was and names are not mentioned enough to quickly catch on. The only indication to the setting is the sounds you here. It really is just like listening to a play. They even have a full cast for the audio so each character is voiced by someone new. While it makes it far more enjoyable it just made things take a little longer.

I finally got to learn where several famous quotes and expressions came from. Hearing certain lines brought a smile to my face. Now I just need to read the print version of this book so I can be sure I didn't miss anything. I now have a mental soundtrack to go with it.

Victoria's Promise

Victoria's Promise - Julie Wright A must for fans of The Bachelor! Have you ever wondered about some of the 'behind the scenes' of the show? This is you chance to get a partial look behind the curtain. Or at least what Julie Wright envisions there. It adds an interesting element to this story.

Let me start with saying I love Tori and Christopher. Tori is strong, independent and witty. Christopher is the dreamy-worthy county guy. Both characters are writing with great care and depth. Them being attracted together is a huge no-no but both are drawn toward one another. This causes a lot of ups and downs in the book.

This is a very emotionally-led novel. While most light-hearted and fluffy it has its moments that are nearly worthy of being tearjerkers. The setting in wonderful. Can I go?

When I read this, I did not realize it is part of a series. It can be read as a stand alone. Although now I want to go back and read the rest of the series

Life and Death of a Tough Guy (Prologue Crime)

Life and Death of a Tough Guy (Prologue Crime) - Benjamin Appel An okay read. Welcome to the 1920's! Benjamin Appel seems well educated about the time era and gangster life that was popularly known. So I felt it was more realistic than some novels.

I also felt it was too short to get into his character. I hated Sadie's character. How he could fall in love with her is beyond me, although I certainly never got the feeling the Joey was actually in love with Sadie. If just seemed weird to me. It doesn't help that to me the story so dry. Not slow, as a lot goes on, but it is how the story is told I didn't care for. At first I felt bad for him (he was really picked on to the point of it being dangerous!). But then everything just goes bland.

So while I did learn more about the time in which this takes place, Joey's story did nothing for me in the end.

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie - Laura Joffe Numeroff, Felicia Bond Cute! One thing leads to another is this adorable childrens book. The story is catchy, the images fantastic. There a re a few challenging words that will test a child skill or they might need help with depending how young they are and what their reading level it. But overall, I think any child can love this book.

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency

The Miracle at Speedy Motors - Alexander McCall Smith Ramotswe is one interesting character. Tough, caring, intelligent and humorous. While this story is not what I expected, I still overall enjoyed it. The cultural change was an interesting viewpoint. And there is a distinct voice to this story.

However, it was not what I was expecting. I wanted mystery. And while there are mysteries to be solved, the book itself is not. We don't get to see the clue piecing and the questioning I desire in a mystery. This is more about what and how she does what she does.

So while it was nicely written, it just was not my thing solving all these mini-cases that had no real bearing on the story. Also, I found it a bit slow paced for my taste.

Before He Was Famous

Before He Was Famous - Becky Wicks A sweet best friends, turned to romance story with a mix of stardom. Chloe and Noah are "just friends" at least on the surface. What simmers underneath is another story but of course they can't admit to that. Noah gets a shot to be a famous musician and Chloe, being such a good best friend, follows him.

While there is no doubt she is his most loyal fan, he is also hers. Protective, caring and sweet, I loved Noah's character. How can you not love a guy who rights such beautiful songs for his "friend." The awkward divide between them from their past drove me nuts. I hate seeing how that seemed to be the hangup for admitting what is really between them. It didn't help that I didn;t much care for Chloe. Not that she is bad, I just couldn't click with her as a main character.

The stalker suspense didn't flow with the story. It either should have been more prominant or removed, in my opinion. It's like tossing garnish on a dinner plate to make it look more appealing but serves no real purpose.

The writing was alright but I was a bit all over the place with the story telling At times, I felt connected to what was happening, especially with Noah around, and other times I felt oddly distant and nearly bored. So mixed thoughts on this one.

Frindle

Frindle - Andrew Clements, Brian Selznick Did you ever question why something is called what it is? Nick here does. He decides a pen is not a pen, but a Frindle. Apparently, everyone likes the idea and it catches quick. Unrealistically quick, but this is a middle grade book so taking that in stride.

I loved his teacher Mrs. Granger. She lets nothing slip past her and if you try, you'll regret it! She and Nick push each other but it also challenges one another in good ways. Although I do wish she has a slightly better attitude toward the outcome of the plan she unwittingly unleashed. Especially when she starts making the students write sentences. And, on a side note, apparently writing sentences isn't very common anymore. My brothers have nod idea what that is in school. So it might seem a bit dated now to some youth.

This story makes you stop and think but is also lighthearted and amusing. The levels Frindle reaches are crazy yet it is what makes it such a good story.

Owen

Owen - Kevin Henkes Ever heard of the blanket fairy? Until reading this, I never had.

The mouse family in this book is very cute! I loved the expressions they have. Young Owen is very attached to his blanket. His parents try all sorts of methods to get him to part with it.

Parents can relate to having to separate the baby items (first stuffy, blanket, pacifier, etc) from their child and kids can read this for alternatives and that every kid goes through adjustments in their life.

Two Old Potatoes and Me

Two Old Potatoes and Me - John Coy Ever wanted to grow potatoes with your kids? Read this with them! Great father/daughter bonding story where the girl gets to learn how to plant and grow their own potatoes. This actually covers a lot of basic details that impressed me.

What I didn't care for so much was the art. Especially the characters (eyes in particular). Too jumbled and just looked sloppy to me. You know it is bad when a few kids in the group you are reading to comment on how they can color better and how the artist couldn't stay in the lines.

I am torn about how the story is told. The words are wrapped around the pictures. part of me finds in unique and created. Yet it also seemed to add to the jumbled chaos of the images and the kids have to work and find the next sentence which could add frustration when it throws them off I learned.

So story is great but would love to see new art style attached.

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