Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Tales From a Not-So-Glam TV Star by Rachel Renee Russell-4 stars

Russell, Rachel Renee, Tales From a Not-So-Glam TV Star. Simon and Schuster Audio, 2014. (unbar.) 3 CDs. 3:45 hrs. 

Nicki Maxwell has a lot on her plate. After getting an invitation to meet with a big record producer, Nicki and her friends, Chloe, Zoe, and Brandon get offered a recording contract and Nicki, her own reality show for the month of March. Not, however, before catching McKenzie, the school bully, and her friends stealing Nicki, Chloe, and Zoe’s backstage passes. Jealous and furious with Nicki, McKenzie is determined to break any chances Nicki has with dating Brandon and becoming a pop star. To add pressure on Nicki, Brandon needs Nicki’s help in writing a scholarship essay in order to stay at WCD, the expensive private school everyone goes to. As Nicki’s schedule gets filled up with vocal lessons, recording studio time, her increased homework load, and reality tv show problems, Nicki begins to wonder if she will be able to handle all the pressure. To make matters worse, she keeps forgetting to meet with Brandon. Will Nicki find a way to stop McKenzie from ruining her chance with Brandon without ruining them herself? Will she be able to handle her dream of being a pop princess? 

Narrator, Jenni Barber has a unique voice and easily distinguishes the characters. The author’s and narrator’s narrative styles are complementary of each other and easily engage the reader.  Although the characters are a little under-developed, they are likable and entertaining. The plot is engaging, realistic, and will appeal to elementary and middle school students who enjoy books like Diary of A Wimpy Kid. Listeners who like realistic fiction, school stories, and friendship stories will enjoy this audiobook. 

4 stars, Grades 4 to 8

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Mind Games by Christine Amsden-5 stars

Amsden, Christne, Mind Games. Christine Amsden, 2014. Audible download.

Ever since Evan Blackwood broke her heart, Cassie Scot has had a hard time adjusting back to real life. When Matthew Blair, a local mind mage, asks her out, Cassie decides to say yes despite her reservations. She finds herself growing close to him and falling in love, but everyone keeps telling her that Matthew is using his mind magic on her. Meanwhile, when the Pastor Roberts’ wife is killed in her own house, the Gateway Christian Church parishioners start a witch hunt for everyone they suspect is a witch, including Cassie and her family. To help solve the dispute and restore order, Evan shows back up in town on the heels of Alexander Dupree, a magical practitioner interested in creating a unified magical government. To top off Cassie’s plate, she discovers the truth about why she doesn’t have magic and Evan and his family are a part of it. Are the incidents are related? Is Matthew using his mind magic on Cassie? Will Evan and Cassie resolve their differences?

Narrator, Melissa Reizian Frank is a perfect match for Amsden’s book. Her unique voices for each character are easily distinguishable and bring to life the well-developed personalities of each character. The plot is not only well-developed, but engrossing and hard to put down. The plot twists and turns are abundant and keep the reader guessing the ending. The mix of intrigue, mystery, and action blend together well and Frank does a great job of transitioning between them. Readers who liked the first two books or who like mystery, romance, and humor will thoroughly enjoy reading this book

5 stars, ADULT

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Awakening by K. Lippi-4.5 stars

Lippi, K.. Awakening. Pgs. 231. Mirror Publishing, 2009. 

15-year-old, Emilia Miani has quite a lot on her plate. As her grandfather’s supernatural predecessor, she is the next Death Angel for God and Lucifer. With that, comes poisonous blood that could not only kill her enemies, but her as well. Since her Guardian Angel was taken away from her by a hybrid named Marcus when she was a baby, a demons-possessed being named Shin Kurosaki has taken over the job. Her job: to stop Marcus, an ex-death angel, who is bent on destroying Emilia as well as the world? Add on that, Shin following madly in love with her and his dark past, and Emilia’s got her hands full. Will she succeed and find a way to save herself from her blood? Will she accept Shin’s love? Will she save the world from Marcus?

The characters in this book are a little dramatic, but entertaining.  The plot is engaging and well-developed. Although there aren’t a lot of plot twists, the mystery behind Emilia’s past and what Marcus really wants takes on a very complex mix that easily grabs readers. People who like reading paranormal romance and mystery/suspense will enjoy reading this book. 

4.5 stars, Grades 7 and up