Vailia's Page Turner

Do You Want To Play With My Balls?

Do You Want To Play With My Balls? - Cifaldi Brothers, Santiago Elizalde ****NOT FOR CHILDREN****

This is for adults. While amusing it is not innocent. While this images may seem childlike the wording is not. These are the type of lines that had I said in front of my parents, as a teenager, would have had my mouth washed out with soap for dirty talk. For those who want stupid sex innuendos this can be funny. I found it mostly eye-rolling but I can see where adults or teens can get a kick out of it.

book needs a disclaimer and should not say it is 'for young and old alike.' I would be furious is my little kid got a hold of this. The looks are too deceiving.

Apple

Apple - R.A. Black I am both shocked and impressed by this book. I came in expecting a paranormal gothic tale of a young girl. I did not expect the horrific experiences she goes through. While this book is written from the eyes of a twelve year old girl, it reads for a more mature audience. This book captivates me right away and kept me there until the end. Read the whole book in just a few short hours. I hated putting it down even to get a quick bite to eat.

It starts off with farm-girl Apple (Nicknamed so by her brother) and Skye (the previously mentioned brother). Skye is very sick and they even expect him to die. While he does not die, he does not fully recover either. Unable to contribute to their already struggling family, eighteen year old Skye sets off on his one. Apple refuses to leave her brother so she follows him.

There journey is anything but pleasant but some hope is found when Apple stumbles across a doctor who takes her and Skye in and offers to help her brother in return for their services. She is even taught to read and write by him! But something in the house is wrong...very wrong...

I liked both Skye and Apple in this book. Loved their sibling relation to one another. Although I am a bit mad sick Skye dares allow his little sister to tag along when he can't even take care of himself. As for Apple, she is one perceptive 12 year old.A bit foolish at times but she is just a kid so it just makes the story more believable.

This book has a lot of dark aspects. From Cannibals, murderers and crazy doctors to ghosts and reapers! It is a short read, under 200 pages and works for a range of ages. From the mature middle grader to adults. If you are looking for a happy ending, don't read this. while it is a fitting ending, it is no fairy tale. I look forward to future books by RA Black.

*I was given a copy of this book from the author in exchange for a fair/honest review.*

unFocused

unFocused - Roselyn Jewell This was not what I was expecting. While I expected Hilary to be homosexual and into girls I did not expect homosexuality to rule the book! I feel like the rest of the plot is lost amongst that battle.

In her community, homosexuality is not accepted and heavily frowned upon so Hilary is constantly defending herself against liking girls. She has a one track mind on her career goal. So when she is sent off for a job she didn't want, with a boy she doesn't like to a city she doesn't wnat to be, it is easy to sympathize with her. No real life choices here apparently.

SHe is set up to work as a detective and I saw some great story potential. Yet every couple clicks of the pages of my kindle and it was clear the real focus was her homosexuality, others sexuality and the lack of acceptance.

I felt like it was being slapped in my face and if I wanted that to be the only focus my time would have been better spent at a Pride Festival or something. Seriously, they even start a homosexual club in this book.

So much potential is lost here. Possible dystopian society plot and black market secrets overruled by a Pride Festival in novel format it seems. Potential was here but the focus was way too strong in one area and had I known that area was going to be such a focal point, I would not have read the book to be honest. Just not my cup of tea but it does not mean others cannot enjoy this.

While the world building needs work, the characters have potential and Hilary is easy to get a story from.

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair/honest review*

Winnie the Witch

Winnie the Witch - Valerie Thomas, Korky Paul Cute book about a witch who lives in an all black home and has a black cat who she sometimes has a hard time seeing (since everything is black). A short journey as she works to fix the problem. Most cute and amusing!
The art is playful and actually has a surprising amount of detail to it. You can tell a good deal of time was put into the pictures which is something I always appreciate in a good children's book.
This is the first book about Winnie. We will continue looking to add the others to our family's book collection.

Dark Triumph

Dark Triumph  - Robin LaFevers *Final review in progress*

This was SO much better than the first book of the series. It mostly stands on it's own so you don't have to read the first book but there is some overlap and the first book does better cover the convent Sybella hails from and Mortain, whom she serves.

The pacing was much better and while still containing lots of historical information, the focus on the plot was much clearer. This story wastes no time getting into the thick of things. The timeline overlaps the lasts parts of Ismae's story in Grave Mercy but the entire story is from Sybella's poitn of view.

I loved her character! While she seems harsh and a bit cold it is a mask she wears and the further into the book you get, the more you see beneath it. And let me let you, this girl has been put through the ringer a few times in her life. I don't think you can help but feel strongly for her.

In this book Sybella must come to terms with her family, and her personal history, dark as it was. With help from the Beast, she comes slowly around. There is a romance in this book, but it is slow and sweet and I loved it!

There is also a lot of action and death. Sybella is no girl to be trifled with. She will risk everything to help those who need it, and will even enjoy it if she can take down a few marqued by Death.

The blend of action, intrigue, history, and romance was wonderful. This really redeemed the series for me and now has me excited to see what else the author might come out with.

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair, honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are strictly my own.*

Captive

Captive - Aimee Carter *Review in progress-these are just some roughly shared thoughts.*

An interesting sequel to Pawn. Kitty is forced to step up and start taking decisive action. The problem is no one seems to want her to. The Hart family sure has there secrets and one of them is why they choose Kitty. Seems there is a bit more than what we get in the first book.

When Kitty finds herself in elsewhere she needs to learn who to trust. Or better yet: To trust no one. Betrayals are common place in this book. This book throws a few twists at the reader and keeps us on our toes.

For being smart, she sure can be oblivious at times and still has a lot to learn, but she does try in this book. I see a lot of untapped potential with her and I look forward to seeing what she does with it in the third book.

Memoirs of a Geisha

Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden Absolutely beautiful! This story was so rich and vivid. With attention to personal details, you could almost think this is a real memoir.
from her childhood as Chiyo, her days as a maid and finally her transformation into Sayuri and her life as a geisha. It was a remarkable, heartfelt journey. She goes through so many hardships to obtain the best life possible and make her dream come true. It is a show of how life does not always go as we want. That others actions can affect our own.

The glimpse we get for the secrets of geisha are incredible to read about. Even just the lifestyle for the time period in general. From the make=up and dressing, to their training. How they entertain, what process they have to go through to get ready for an event, the different stages ans so much more.

***This review is not complete but these are my basic thoughts. More to come...***
I will admit the big downfall to me was the odd obsessive romance for a 12 year old girl toward a 45 year old man as it continues through the years. Admiration is one thing, but she really does go too far.

A great cultural eye-opener. I would love to read other historical novels by this author!

Sleeping Tom

Sleeping Tom - E.V. Fairfall 3.5 stars

An intriguing story that really keeps the reader guessing. While not quite a mystery we get a peculiar situation that demands answers from us as spectators.

Rebecca is a teen girl recently abandoned by her abusive boyfriend. So, starting in the first chapter, she decides to call herself Caden. Hitching a ride with a boy named Gabriel, she goes to his condo and starts to live with him in return for cooking/cleaning.

Caden only feels comfortable wearing black, an estranged relationship with her mother, and no real friends to call on. So it is easy to take some sympathy with her plight. However, she is apparently an amazing cook. Too good, in my opinion, for a teenager! This girl makes some pretty fancy dishes. I have never known any teenagers to even come close to what she does. She is quickly attracted to Gabriel, despite his crappy attitude. Frankly, I think she is just asking for more trouble. But what kind of story would we have if she left?

Gabriel comes from money and is trying to avoid his parents so he snuck off to a condo they own in another state. He is a bit elusive, hot tempered and has a controlling side. But under that gruff exterior he seems like he MIGHT have a heart. Also underneath everything is a side to him few ever see...

At night Gabriel becomes Tom. While of the same body, the eyes change and Tom is only of the mentality of a young boy. Every night is is locked up in the bedroom, in the dark. Yet with Caden around he has his first friend. Is Tom a split-personality or something more?

Overall I liked this book. Trying to figure out what is going on with Tom/Gabriel kept me riveted to the pages. The manner in which we get the story keeps the reader wanting more and content with the pace. The romance is light to moderate. While there is a fast attraction and desire it is not the insta-love "this is my soul mate" mentality. Such a refreshing change of pace!

The thing that bothers my the most is that I do not see these characters as teenagers. How can Gabriel's parents let him leave on his own each summer? Why isn't Caden's parents doing more to keep her from living with strange men (well her mother does finally step in a little too late)?! They both cook really well and act and think more like they are in their early twenties. Not once did I get a "teen" feel from them.

Caden trying to figure everything out by herself also drives me a bit crazy. from tryng to solve the mystery and "fixing" Gabriel, to a certain situation at the end that really riled me up. What she does there is the closest thing to "teen" possible behavior we get.

The ending is a cliffhanger that really has me with even more questions. So now I must wait impatiently for the next book.



**I received an eArc copy of this book in exchange for a fair/honest review.**

The Ishbane Conspiracy

The Ishbane Conspiracy - Angela  Alcorn, Karina Alcorn, Randy Alcorn A relatively interesting book about a group of teenagers and the spiritual battle that is wages over theirs souls. Lots of good points are made in this book in how easy it is to fall prey to evil without even realizing it.

On the flip side, I felt the book was a bit too preachy, even for Christian fiction. I love a good religious discussion but I have never liked being talked AT. And I feel that is what this book does. While parts can be an eye opener for certain life aspects it came across as nagging especially when it comes to Rob's character. Still, it is a thought provoking book.

The chapters are short and each one includes a letter correspondence from a a demon. at first the letters were amusing and even insightful but about halfway through I just started to half-skim over them and just read the actual chapters. They became way to repetitious.

The ending was unexpected and not sure I liked it. The Characters varied. Rob came across as a Bible-thumper, which is something even as a Christian I do not like. Ian is more a side character until the end so when his story becomes vital I just could not relate. Jillian, Daniel and Brittany were okay but none of the characters really jumped out at me.

The messages the book conveyed were good and the style was interesting. Even though I do not see demons writing letters to each other, the plotting they were at felt very real. It really makes you think what is going on around us that we don't see.

**I received this book in exchange for a fair, honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed are strictly my own.**

Resignation

Resignation - Amanda Thome This was an alright continuation of the first book but it din't really grab me and pull me into the story. I always felt a but detached with this book.

Nessa seems less mature, Ty more arrogant. While Nessa's character was okay overall, I found myself not liking her reasoning to what, how and why she would do something. And I feel so bad for Garrett. Between Garrett and Ty, I much prefer Garrett's character. he gets screwed on all sides yet still tries to be a classy guy, even with Ty being a jerk with him. Honestly reading from Garrett's perspective was the one thing I liked most with this book.

The pace felt a bit broken. The story seemed like it could have used more balancing and better character building. even though I liked Garrett overall, even he seemed a bit flat. So I am really hoping more time is given to the next book to smooth things out. When I read a series, I need to see character change and I am not seeing that here very much. Although I think part of the problem is I felt a bit detached from book 1 to here. If you have not read or do not remember details of the first book, you will be very lost, very fast. Whie I don't want a huge recap, tying what is happening from one book to another can be helpful in my opinion.

The story itself is interesting. A tense rescue mission and an unexpected story twist gave it the needed potential to keep me reading. I enjoyed not having all all the answers right away. Amanda Thome did a good job giving in giving us just enough to create questions about who, what and why and gives us answers at good intervals to keep the reader interested in what is going on. I liked that the results were not obvious.

The book ends with another cliffhanger. I will continue the series but I must admit, even with the ending I don't feel like it is a rush to read. This book was decent but not as good as I was hoping so my desire for the next book is toned down. Still, I liked it enough to continue.

Owl Moon

Owl Moon - Jane Yolen, John Schoenherr Lovely art and a poetic story about a young girl who goes owling with her father. very picturesque and even though I have never been owling, this makes it sound mysterious and fun.
While some kids may find this boring, take your kids out into the woods or something one night to look for nocturnal animals. Then read this just to add and compare the experience. Lots of fun for the kids. Otherwise I advise, older, patient kids for reading this book.

Again, lots of praise for the artwork. It was beautiful and told a story all it's own. We could practically feel the cold, nippy air while reading this!

Old Bear

Old Bear - Jane Hissey This was wonderful. I loved the old toys as they schemed ways to get Old Bear down from the attic. Fans of Toy Story will enjoy this one.

The art is wonderful and the characters are based of Jane Hissey's kid's toys. Highly recommended. A blast from the past for the toys any adult can appreciate and a fun, imaginative story for the kids to enjoy. We love this book in our house!

'CAN'T YOU SLEEP, LITTLE BEAR?'

'CAN'T YOU SLEEP, LITTLE BEAR?' - MARTIN WADDELL 3 1/2 stars. Cute book where Big Bear tries to get Little Bear to sleep but Little Bear is scared of the dark so big Bear must find a solution. The art was nice but I felt the ending could have been executed better. Still, a sound read for bedtime.

Honestly I think I enjoyed this more than the kids with how Big Bear wants to get back to his book but he patiently puts Little Bear to bed each time. Something any parent can relate to.

Stina

Stina - Lena Anderson This was a sweet book of a young girl and her summer with her grandfather. Not a lot of words to this so a very simple read. we had more fun looking at the pictures and discussing what we can look for and do on the beach. The kids loved all her little treasures she collects in this book. Also a great lesson is held within. loved the illustrations and the imaginative simplicity to everything. This is a calm read and even if you don't life in near a beach the lesson is still valid and the treasures can be substituted for what to find at a park, etc.

Crocodile Beat

Crocodile Beat - Gail Jorgensen MAYBE 2.5 stars

The animal sounds are fun for a once through but this makes the crocodile look like a bad guy, compared to all other animals which just didn't sit right with us. Also the kids didn't quite get the ending. They thought there should have been more but it just ends abruptly.

Rooms

Rooms - James L. Rubart My rating of this is a 3.5, but since I cannot do 1/2 stars, I'll go on the generous side. Let me also start off by stating very clearly that this novel is Christian Fiction. Very strongly so. That is fine with me but I know some do not enjoy reading it and the plot synopsis does not exactly share that crucial tidbit.

So there is my first urging to all readers-if this novel's Christian basing does not match your beliefs, there is a good chance you will not enjoy this book. Even for me, as a Christian, I can see this book as being potentially intimidating and how the path to God is shown here would have bothered me deeply, even if it is taken to an extreme. When I first grabbed the book, I did not know if was a religious novel so the original summary does not express that at all and I feel that it should. I have since read a few variations that have improved upon this, luckily for future readers.

The story itself was enjoyable for me. Micah starts of as a wealthy, worldly man who gets a strange inheritance in the form of an amazing and very special house. I want to quickly interject here that upon his first tour of the house I would LOVE to live there myself! Some of the rooms he discovers are fantastic, others a bit more disturbing, but each is very unique.

Micah's journey and transformation was quite interesting. What an experience! I cannot say too much on this without giving anything away though. And at the same time I would not want to live the dual lives he finds himself in.

The messages in this book are great but a bit over the top in how they are expressed, even for a novel. While it's form is spot on, the presentation needed a lot of polishing as did the writing. These things cost a the book for me. it was predictable. Parts were too outlandish to match the rest of the book and characters seemed like they needed a lot of polishing up in my opinion.

Still I enjoyed reading it. A fun read for Christians, but if your faith differs or is shaky this may not be the book for you as the messages and the manner in which they are laid out are a bit "preachy."

Currently reading

Kindred
Octavia E. Butler
Friend-Zoned
Belle Aurora
The Goddess Inheritance
Aimee Carter
The Iron Trial
Holly Black, Cassandra Clare
Black Moon
Kenneth Calhoun
The Gateway Through Which They Came
Heather Marie
Entwined (Dark Souls, #2)
Ketley Allison
The Unicorn Thief (Unicorns of the Mist)
R. R. Russell
Steampunk! An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories
Holly Black, Cassandra Clare, Delia Sherman, Shawn Cheng, Elizabeth Knox, Dylan Horrocks, Kathleen Jennings, Ysabeau S. Wilce, Gavin J. Grant, Cory Doctorow, Kelly Link, M.T. Anderson, Libba Bray, Garth Nix, Christopher Rowe
The Anime Encyclopedia: A Guide to Japanese Animation Since 1917, Revised and Expanded Edition
Helen McCarthy, Jonathan Clements