Sunday, June 27, 2010

Deadly Gamble

Author: Linda Lael Miller
Publisher: Harlequin
Copyright: 2006

Mojo Sheepshanks has been on the run since she was five years old. After she witnessed her parents' murder and her half-brother Geoff was convicted after he confessed, Mary Jo Mayhugh's babysitter grabbed her and ran. Mojo doesn't know why, and it's too late to ask Lillian, who is in a nursing home in failing health. But when her uncle turns up and starts rekindling family ties, many strange things begin to happen. For one thing, Mojo is now conversing with ghosts! Her dead ex-husband appears, waiting for her forgiveness, along with her cat which Geoff had killed on her fourth birthday party. Along with that is Geoff's sudden appearance at one of Mojo's favorite haunts, her foster sisters' problems, some weird stuff about her cop sort-of boyfriend, Tucker, and attacks on her landlord, Bad-Ass Bert. With all this going on, and with her foster sister's "retainer" for her services as a private eye, Mojo is determined to get t the bottom of all this mystery.

Mojo sounds like a really fun person to be around! Not that she's a party girl. But the story is told in first-person point of view, and the tone throughout the whole book is quirky, sarcastic, and downright funny at times. Things get weirder and weirder, events pile up one after the other, and Mojo retains her sarcastic streak through it all. It's easy to read and pulls you along for the ride as it makes you feel like you're on a ride!

The plot of the story is amazing too. Twists and turns keep you guessing as to who is behind everything and what exactly is going on. And let me tell you - the answers will be a real surprise!

Basically - I loved this book! A great read, with plenty of laughs.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Blog Award

Wow! This is a great idea - bloggers awarding their favorite blogs. Thanks to Misty of Misty's Book Mess for giving this award to Reader's Dialogue.

1. Thank whoever gave you the award and link to them
2. State what is is you look for in a blog
3. Give the award to 7 people whose blogs pertain most to you
AND (be sure to let them know they won!)

I mainly follow book review blogs, and what I look for is clear writing, a little bit of objective analysis, and a personal opinion about the book as a whole. I want a thought-out review that shows a knowledge and appreciation of the craft of writing, and a combination of critical analysis and subjective reading.

I give this award to:

(not exactly a book review blog, but a great resource for book-review-lovers!)

Check them out! They're worth it!

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Girl Who Chased the Moon

Author: Sarah Addison Allen
Publisher: Bantam Books (Random House)
Copyright: 2010
Genre: (I'm not really sure what to label this book. It's not really a fantasy, though it has an element of the fantastic. It's also not strictly a women's fiction book and not strictly a Young Adult novel. I would call it an upper-teens-girl book, for which I'm sure there is a professional label, but I don't know what it is!)

After her mother's death, Emily Benedict comes to Mullaby, North Carolina, to live with the grandfather she'd never met and had never heard about. As soon as she arrives, she feels something different about the town, something that makes her feel out of place and unwelcome. Her budding friendship with Win Coffey seems to only make things worse as neither her family nor the Coffeys are at all excited about their friendship.

Meanwhile, Julia Winterson  is counting the months left to her stay in town as she keeps her father's barbecue restaurant open long enough to pay off the mortgage and make a profit from selling it. But in these last few months, memories and people from her past in Mullaby force her to relive events and rethink what actually happened.

One word - Incredible!!!

This book is just so amazing... The writing is clear and engaging, and filled with little bits of humor. The plot is engaging as well - mysterious and intriguing, with pieces of clues dropped throughout keeping the reader hooked on finding out just what is going on - and then what could possibly happen after everything is discovered.

But the main point of the story is the characters, and they are the shining part of the book. Each character - and there are lots of them, being that this is really two stories merged into one - is unique and individual. Allen manages to keep each one's voice separate from all the others, so that when they say or do something, it feels like the natural response for that character. And on a personal note - I fell in love with (almost) all the characters, flaws and all. I think it's really hard to introduce characters with flaws and still make them likable, but that is exactly what Allen does in The Girl Who Chased the Moon. When Julia finally cries, I felt my heart constrict and almost cried along with her. In my humble opinion, that is the mark of a true masterpiece!

(P.S. If you finish reading this book by June 23, drop by to join the book club live online chat at 9PM Central time.)

The MacKade Brothers: Devin and Shane

Author: Nora Roberts
Publisher: Silhouette Books (Harlequin)
Copyright: 2009 (two-in-one paperback)
Genre: Romance

Devin is the sheriff in Antietam, devoted to protecting his town and especially Cassie Dolin, who turned to him for help in getting out of her abusive marriage. But Devin has been in love with Cassie ever since they were children and wants to be more than just the sheriff to her. Cassie, though, is still fighting to find herself and be her own person, and her two children are just learning how to be normal children. With love and persistence, Devin protects Cassie and teaches her to trust herself and her heart.

Playboy Shane has closed himself off to the supernatural. But when his sister-in-law's college friend, Dr. Rebecca Knight, comes to Antietam with the specific purpose of studying the supernatural activity, Shane has to confront more than just ghosts. Rebecca is his breath of fresh air, forcing Shane to rethink his philosophies on life as he finds himself falling deeper and deeper in love. For Rebecca, what started out as an experiment of rebellion turns quickly into more than she could ever have dreamed of.

One of the (many!) things I love about Nora Roberts books is the completion of the characters. Their stories don't start when the two protagonists meet, and they don't end when they fall in love and get married. The little prologues included in both of these stories gives the guys a childhood, but even without the prologues, the stories are full of events and impressions left from earlier in life, for both the guys and the girls. It rounds out the whole story and makes it so much more compelling. And the benefit of having a series like this, as with so many of Nora Roberts's series, is that by the time Shane's story is ready to be told, Devin and Cassie already have a child! It's really great to follow the characters just a little further than the basic love story.

Another great thing about some of Nora's books is the integration of the supernatural. She makes it so natural for ghosts to be around, for people and relationships to be tied to events of the past. It adds another dimension, to sort of be following two stories at once.

And, of course, what goes without saying - the writing is incredible! For someone just wanting a good read, these stories draw you in and make you live the story along with the characters. At the same time, for someone with an appreciation for language, these books are so rich that I had to stop every so often and reread some passages simply to savor the absolute brilliance of language use!

If you've ever read a Nora Roberts book, you know why I'm so enthusiastic about them. If you haven't - what are you waiting for?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Author: Leah Cypess
Publisher: Greenwillow (HarperCollins)
Copyright: 2010
Genre: YA Fantasy

The Shifter is an ancient creature bound by magic to protect the king of Samorna. But when Prince Rokan comes to get her from the Mistwood, she can't remember anything about her past. As she learns about the dangers facing the king-to-be and about her own history, things become even more confusing than before.

The intricate plot of Mistwood is full of intrigue and surprise twists. Every time I thought I finally figured out what was going on, something else popped up to turn the story in a new direction. The question of the Shifter/Isabel's true nature is pervasive throughout the book (and is actually the main focus) and the answer to that was a complete surprise to me! Of course, I was able to figure out a few things by the time her true nature is revealed, but the final few pages bring everything together in a whirlwind of events.

This book is really plot-driven, not character-driven (which I tend to prefer) so I didn't get completely involved in the story. That said, in its own merit the book is really great, crafted and put together in an amazing way. The plot manages to be both complicated and completely clear at the same time, and the pace is fast and exciting. I would recommend this as a good read.

Friday, June 4, 2010


Author: Kristin Cashore
Publisher: Harcourt Books (Houghton Mifflin)
Copyright: 2008
Genre: YA Fantasy

Katsa is a young girl who possesses a Grace she is not sure she wants: the power to kill and maim. Her uncle and king, Randa, uses her Grace for his own means and in essence treats her as a tool, forcing her to carry out his punishments on all who cross him. To counter her feelings of being trapped and helpless in this situation, Katsa forms a Council whose mission it is to help the victims of the seven kingdom's corruption. On one puzzling mission, saving the kidnapped father of the king of the Lienids, an island kingdom which does not take part in the cruelty and madness of the others, Katsa meets Po, a Lienid prince in search of his grandfather, Graced with fighting skills. Eventually, Katsa defies her uncle and breaks free of his hold on her, and she and Po set out to discover who had ordered the Lienid grandfather's kidnapping and to find an explanation for the strange events. Along the way, Katsa comes to terms with who she is and, with Po's help, finds out things about herself she had never known.

Graceling is really rich in detail and emotion. The plot is filled with twists and turns and there is never a dull moment - even when the characters are traveling for days on end, Kristin Cashore fills the pages with compelling dialogue and descriptions. The details of how they travel are so real and plentiful that at times I almost felt the harsh roads and freezing weather!

The characters are also very real in their emotions and in how they deal with and react to various situations. Katsa's problems of finding herself and dealing with her strengths are not limited to someone who has power- they are relevant to every teenage girl confused about who she is and what she can do. Po is just as real and has his own issues to deal with, which adds to the depth of the whole story.

The concept of magic, of the Graces, is so tied to the story that it is not secondary, but is essential to the plotline. I love how the characters' discoveries about their Graces parallel their discoveries about themselves and each other, how as they find out how their magic works, they also find out how human emotions work.

It was a little hard to write this review, because it was hard to think of the story objectively and analyze it critically - I got too emotionally involved in the story and realized I ran the risk of simply gushing about how much I loved it instead of explaining what I liked about it. So here, I'm going to gush a little! Once I got into the story, I couldn't put the book down. Katsa and Po both captured my heart, as did Bitterblue (princess of Monsea) later in the story. I just fell in love with these characters! The plot is also amazing, and I found myself breathless at times. I also figured things out one step before the characters sometimes, and I love when that happens - there are enough clues so that I could say "aha!" just before the characters do, but not too long before that. The relationship between Katsa and Po is just so beautiful... It's real and filled with ups and downs as each one grapples with different issues, and it's sweet and charming and full of depth.

I love love love this book!