(Review)The Secret Society of the Pink Crystal Ball

TITLE: The Secret Society of the Pink Crystal Ball
AUTHOR: Risa Green
PUB DATE: August 2010
PAGES: 315
PUBLISHER: Sourcebooks Fire

SOURCE: I received this from the publisher.

Description (from publishers site)

In a world where nothing is certain, a little magic couldn’t hurt…right?

When Erin Channing’s favorite aunt dies, Erin is bequeathed a pink crystal ball and a set of weird instructions. Granted, Aunt Kiki (aka Aunt Kooky) always lived “outside the box.” But now Erin and her two best friends are convinced that the pink crystal ball holds the key to their future—or at least the key to getting dates…

Consider Your Fate to Be Sealed . . .

Absolute knowledge is not unlimited; let the planets be your guide to the number.
There are sixteen ways to die, but four of them you will never see.
The future belongs to you alone. Other voices will be disappointed.
One rotation is as far as you can see. Only uncertainty lies beyond.

This is Risa Green’s debut YA novel. She has also written two adult novels called: Tales from the Crib and Notes from the Underbelly. This is my first time reading Risa Green. Although I have had Notes from the Underbelly on my wishlist for awhile now I have never picked it up but that might be changing now since reading The Secret Society of the Pink Crystal Ball.

The Secret of the Pink Crystal Ball has been on my radar since BEA. I have to thank my amazing contact for sending me this to read. This was one of the first books I read over the Christmas holiday and I enjoyed it.

I am thinking from the ending that there could possible be another book to go with this but I can’t find anything online. Does anyone know if there will be a book two?

I was pleasantly surprised when I started reading this and I had to finish it in one sitting because I was curious what would happen next. I even had some moments in the book where I was laughing out loud and almost cringing because you and I both know things happen for a reason and that honestly I think things are all planned out for us and messing with the universe is not good.

Erin is your typical teenager in high school living a normal life although to her its boring and does nothing exciting. She has two best friends, Lindsay and Samantha.

When Erin finds out her estranged aunt Kiki dies (strike by lightening) she is upset because for the past year she hasn’t heard from her. Her dad thinks she is crazy. Which she probably would be to some people but I didn’t think she was and perhaps that is because I had an aunt like here.

When they attend the memorial service, one of Kiki’s friends gives Erin a box. The catch is Erin must open it when she is alone. Hmm what could it be?

Several days later Erin remembers the box so when she is alone she opens it to discover inside the box is a pink crystal ball with a enveloped taped to the bottom with a rolled up scroll. Inside the scroll is a bunch of names and Kiki’s name. Next
she opens the envelope thinking its a letter explaining what has happened this past year but its not its only this:

*Absolute knowledge is not unlimited; let your planets be the guide to the number.
*There are sixteen ways to die, but four of them you will never see.
*The future belongs to you alone. Other voices will be disappointed.
*One rotation is as far as you can see. Only uncertainty lies beyond.

When Erin puts the pieces of the puzzle together she realizes that the Pink Crystal Ball can actually make her wishes come true. In order to that Erin realizes that she must think logically to solve the clues. When Samantha asks for help Erin realizes afterwards that for her friends things end badly.

I had fun trying to figure out the clues and I think that’s what made the book so enjoyable and it was nice when I realized I didn’t know the answers that Erin figured it out and I would say “Oh yea, that makes sense now.”

This was a super fun read and I am sure alot of teenage girls would enjoy this.

copyright 2010, Cindy (Cindy’s Love Of Books)
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The Summer of Skinny Dipping Review

TITLE: The Summer Of Skinny Dipping
AUTHOR: Amanda Howells
PUB DATE: June 2010
PAGES: 295
PUBLISHER: Sourcebooks Fire

SOURCE: I received this copy from Sourcebooks Fire for review.

Sometimes I still wake up shivering in the early hours of the morning, drowning in dreams of being out there in the ocean that summer, of looking up at the moon and feeling as invisible and free as a fish. But I’m jumping ahead, and to tell the story right I have to go back to the very beginning. To a place called Indigo Beach. To a boy with pale skin that glowed against the dark waves. To the start of something neither of us could have predicted, and which would mark us forever, making everything that came after and before seem like it belonged to another life. My name is Mia Gordon: I was sixteen years old, and I remember everything.


When I first heard about this book I knew I wanted to read it for three reasons:
-this is Amanda Howells debut original YA novel (Did you know she was the ghost writer for the Sweet Valley High books? No neither did I until I heard about this book)
-Amanda lives near the ocean and she grew up on a small bay on the Atlantic Ocean (very similar to me where I grew up)
-The Summer of Skinny Dipping sounded like a fun read

I pretty much devoured this book in one sitting. For me this was the perfect book to start off the summer season. As I am reading this it brought back memories to when I was Mia’s age (16 years old) and a summer filled with romance and of course drama.

Mia is heading on family vacation from Georgia to the Hampton’s to visit with her aunt, uncle and cousins. She is excited to spend time with her cousins but quickly realizes that alot has changed since she last saw them. In my opinion they came off as spoiled rich brats. Mia tries to fit in but quickly realizes she doesn’t but she stays true to herself and makes it a point to never change herself.

To help Mia get through the summer she decides to sneak out at night and walk the beach because that is were she feels most comfortable. Its during these walks late at night that she meets Simon. The furthest thing from her mind is a summer romance because she is still getting over a broken heart from her ex cheating boyfriend.

It wasn’t long before Simon swept Mia of her feet and she began to trust again. This was the summer romance. We all know that some summer romances don’t last and that is exactly what happens here. Its a summer romance that has ended too soon. Its a summer that Mia will never forget.

My favorite part of the book is on page 95:

I’d always held back from boys. I didn’t fall for them the way my friends did. While Kristin and Lacey hooked up with different guys and had crushes that were returned or rejected or fizzled, I just waited. Sometimes I wondered if the boy I was waiting for even existed. Until Jake came to our school. Then I knew. Except I never thought he’d even look at me. He was far too cool and far too cute to notice a shy, ordinary girl in a sea of admirers. And yet here he was, my queen of hearts in his hand.

When I read that I instantly thought that Amanda spoke to me. Where was she when I need her some 25 years ago? That above quote was something I thought and felt alot about back then. So if you think you are shy and ordinary let me say you will stand out in a sea of admirers. It will happen trust me.

I want to send out a huge thank you to Carrie at Sourcebooks Fire for sending me this great debut novel to read. I really enjoyed it and I have to say it brought back alot of memories of my first summer romance when I was starting high school. He was my Simon in the book and will always have the little piece of my heart.

copyright 2010, Cindy (Cindy’s Love Of Books)
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We Hear The Dead Review

TITLE: We Hear the Dead
AUTHOR: Dianne K. Salerni
PUB DATE: May 2010
PUBLISHER: Sourcebooks Fire
PAGE: 428

I began the deception when I was too young to know right from wrong. Only with the passing of time did I come to understand the consequences of my actions.

I do not believe that I have ever intentionally deceived anyone. Maggie has a different understanding of the events that have happened. To her the spirits were always a game. For me they were my life’s calling. I have no regrets.

It starts as a harmless prank…then one lie quickly grows into another. Soon Kate and Maggie Fox are swept into a dizzying flurry of national attention for their abilities to communicate with the dead. But living a lie is sometimes too much to handle, even if you have the best intentions. Based on a true story, We Hear the Dead reveals how secrets and lies can sometimes lead you to what’s real and what’s right. And how sometimes talking with the dead is easier than talking with the people around you.

Another huge thank you goes out to Paul from Sourcebooks for sending me an Advance Readers Copy of this book.

This is Dianne’s debute novel and I have to say that I am looking forward to her upcoming books if they are anything like this.

I love the cover don’t you? Just something about the cover jumps out at you. If I saw this book in the store I would definitely buy it for that purpose.

What I discovered before reading this book is that its a true story of Kate and Maggie Fox. You can check out this site We Hear The Dead. They basically started the Spiritualist craze in the 1840’s. You can goggle them to read more about them.

For now this is a mini review because I haven’t quite finished the book and I am really surprised as this is the first time I didn’t have the book finished by the time I had a scheduled review for it. As I started to read it I became curious about the Fox sisters that I have been goggling left and right to read more about them and quickly became distracted and let the book slip.

The book so far is more about Maggie then Kate. We Hear The Dead is told from their view points. The girls cousin is coming to visit and the girls aren’t happy and try to come up with a way to get her to leave so they make up a pretty harmless prank but it quickly gets out of hand and out of control.

The story of the Fox sisters will truly grip you and keep you reading and wanting more and not wanting the story to end.

copyright 2010, Cindy (Cindy’s Love Of Books)
If you are reading this on a blog or website other than Cindy’s Love Of Books or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Picture The Dead Review

TITLE: Picture The Dead
AUTHOR: Adele Griffin
PUB DATE: May 2010
PUBLISHER: Sourcebooks Fire
PAGES: 272 (Hardcover)

A ghost will find his way home.

Jennie Lovell’s life is the very picture of love and loss. First she is orphaned and forced to live at the mercy of her stingy, indifferent relatives. Then her fiancé falls on the battlefield, leaving her heartbroken and alone. Jennie struggles to pick up the pieces of her shattered life, but is haunted by a mysterious figure that refuses to let her bury the past.

When Jennie forms an unlikely alliance with a spirit photographer, she begins to uncover secrets about the man she thought she loved. With her sanity on edge and her life in the balance, can Jennie expose the chilling truth before someone—or something—stops her?

Against the brutal, vivid backdrop of the American Civil War, Adele Griffin and Lisa Brown have created a spellbinding mystery where the living cannot always be trusted and death is not always the end.

I have to send a huge thank you to Paul from Sourcebooks Fire for sending me an advance copy of Picture The Dead to read. I really enjoyed reading this.

I was pleasantly surprised when I started to read it because I normally don’t read books that take place in this time period. The time period was the during the civil war. History wasn’t my favorite subject when I was in school and since then have shyed away from those kinds of subjects and genres, but that could change.

Before I started the book I decided that I would read the press release that came with the book and they say:
“Picture the Dead, a mystery novel (with extensive graphic elements)”. Which I have to say is very true. I liked how the mystery was built up and it happened gradually.

Jennie is an orphan who is living with her aunt and uncle. She had a brother, Toby but lost him in the civil war. You can see she is trying to fit into this extended family but it seems like her aunt and uncle are anything but nice to her. She fits in more with the hired help then she does with them.

Jennie is engaged to her cousin Will. He is now fighting in the civil war but Jennie fears he is dead because Quinn, Will’s brother returns home wounded physically, mentally and emotionally.

When the family goes to get a family portrait done, Jennie is over come and faints. Its only when she goes back to pick up the portrait that Geist has something to tell and show her? Will she believe what she sees?

Jennie knows only what she is told such as that the army says Will died honorable in battle but Quinn tells her differently and that he died a violent death in prison camp. She quickly begins to realize that perhaps she isn’t being told the truth and doubts everyone. Will she be able to solve the mystery of what really happened to Will?

It took me awhile to get into the book but once I did I really enjoyed reading it and I have to say that I loved all the illustrations that Lisa Brown did in the book. At the starting/finishing of the chapters she drew quite a few illustrations to go with the story. I think that element tied in perfectly with the story. I would have loved to have been able to read some of the letters that were on those pages.

This is the first time I have heard of Adele Griffin and read her book but I found out that she is the author of several books called Rainy Season, Witch Twins, Vampire Island, Sons of Liberty and Where I want to be. Which I am curious to look for and read.

Lisa Brown is also a best selling author and illustrator of books such as How to be, Sometimes and the board book series called Baby Be of Use.

I just wanted to share the cover of the Advance Readers Copy that I got and I have to say that that one is my favorite.

What do you think?

copyright 2010, Cindy (Cindy’s Love Of Books)
If you are reading this on a blog or website other than Cindy’s Love Of Books or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Merlin’s Harp Tour and Review

TITLE: Merlin’s Harp
AUTHOR: Anne Eliot Crompton
PUB DATE: March 1, 2010
PUBLISHER: Sourcebooks Fire
PAGES: 256
GENRE: Young Adult

Among the towering trees of magical Avalon, where humans dare not tread, lives Niviene, daughter of the Lady of the Lake and apprentice to Merlin the mage. Her people, the Fey, are folk of the wood and avoid the violence and of man. But the strife of King Arthur’s realm threatens even Avalon’s peace, and Merlin needs his apprentice to thwart the chaos devouring Camelot. And so Niviene must use her special talents to help save a kingdom and discover the treachery of men and the beauty of love. A mystical love story, now back in print, sure to become a modern teen classic.

When I started blogging over a year I told myself that I was going to step outside my comfort zone to read other genres. You never know you could stumble across a certain book that you might not have read otherwise that is a hidden gem.

This is a book that I might not have picked up on my own to read unless it was facing me on the shelf because I have to say that I love the cover. I think its a pretty cover. Don’t you?

The book is about a subject that I know nothing about the King Arthur period. I did recognize quite a few names such as Lancelot, Arthur etc.

Merlin’s Harp is told in the perspective of a woman. Although she isn’t a normal woman she is a Fey. The story is told by Nivienne and she ends up helping Arthur’s kingdom during their war with the Saxons.

I have to admit when I started to read the book for some reason it felt like I was reading another language and had a hard time to get into it. After struggling to get through the first chapter I decided to check what others on the tour were saying so far about the book and I felt much better realizing I wasn’t alone.

I decided that I wasn’t going to abandon the book and that I would push forward in reading it and once I past that hurdle things seemed to be going good. Saying this I liked the book but its not a favorite for me.

Here are some bloggers who enjoyed the book:
Book Journey
Books and Literature For Teens
Today’s Adventure
Sarah’s Random Musings
Biblio File

I liked the premise of the story and how Anne Crompton told it and I think perhaps if I knew more about that period of time I might have enjoyed it more.

Thanks to Paul from Sourcebooks Fire for sending me this book to read,review and for allowing me to be part of the tour for this book. This is another new release under the Sourcebooks Fire imprint.

If You would like you can read the First Chapter.

http://dolcebellezza.blogspot.com/ 23-Mar
http://www.capriciousreader.com/ 24-Mar
http://examiner.com (Portland) 25-Mar
http://www.theveronicaproject.blogspot.com/ 26-Mar

copyright 2010, Cindy (Cindy’s Love Of Books)
If you are reading this on a blog or website other than Cindy’s Love Of Books or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.