Saturday, July 31, 2010

Enchanting Review: The Poison Diaries

YA Fantasy
Balzer + Bray
ISBN# 0061802360
288 pages
Hardcover – Available Now

Rating: 4 Enchantments

Weed is an orphan taken to live with the Luxton family. He has a particular talent for herbal remedies and has a wealth of knowledge about plants and their uses. He forms a particular connection to Jessamine with whom he forms a friendship and eventual romance with.

Jessamine spends her days in an isolated cottage tending her garden. She has learned from her father about the power of plants and how to cure illnesses with them.

Jessamine Luxton lives with her father in an isolated cottage and spends her time learning about plants and tending her garden. Her father, a respected apothecary taught her about plants and the powers that they possess. She has always wanted to explore the locked garden of dangerous plants that her father would never let her enter. One day, an orphan is dropped off at her cottage to live with the Luxtons. Weed possesses a great amount of knowledge about plants and how they can be used to cure illnesses. He forms a quick friendship with Jessamine and eventually fall in love. The lure of the poison garden remains strong and threatens to tear down their newly formed relationship.

THE POISON DIARIES was a beautiful combination of fantasy and romance. It reminded me of a darker The Secret Garden with a touch of romance. I loved the darkness of this book. Some readers may not appreciate the darkness of this book because it is a great departure from Woods’ other books which were more lighthearted. I thought that the detail and care taken with each and every description was just amazing. The description of the poison plants was just plain old creepy. I also loved that each plant had it’s own voice and personality that reflected the characteristics of the plant. I really loved the last two parts of the book because there was a darkness in those chapters that really encapsulated the feeling of the rest of the book.

I thought Weed and Jessamine were wonderful characters. They were both so sympathetic and vibrant. Jessamine was such an amazing character. She had this innate curiosity about her that I really identify with. Weed was a mystery throughout the whole book. I loved his dependence on Jessamine. They really had a very sweet relationship that started with a dependence, turned into friendship and then eventually became love. People will compare them to Edward and Bella from Twilight but to me, they reminded me more of Mary Lennox and Dickon from The Secret Garden. Their relationship was very sweet and although they were very tentative with each other, they had great chemistry.

I was, however, quite disappointed with the ending. I wanted there to be a more firm conclusion but, I guess, in YA you never really get that until the end of the series. I can’t wait until the next book.

Maryrose Wood began writing fiction after a life in the theater. She has written several teen novels and her most recent series for young readers is The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place. She currently lives in New York City.

Grace Loiacono
July 2010

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Enchanting Review: Bad Blood

Paranormal YA
Berkley Jam
ISBN# 9780425232644
230 Pages
Trade—Available Now

Rating: 4.5 Enchantments

Seventeen year old Sunny McDonald is ready to take a big step forward with her thousand year old vampire boyfriend and coven leader Magnus, until she finds out the Blood Coven has decided upon a Blood Mate for him—Jane, who isn't what she seems. But Magnus won't listen to Sunny's claims, playing it off like she's just jealous...but when Sunny enlists the help of her twin sister, Rayne, to help discover the truth, the two set off for Vegas and find a lot more than they bargained for.

BAD BLOOD is the fourth book in the 'A Blood Coven Vampire' series, but it's first book in the series I've read and I have to say it wasn't hard to get pulled into the story. Things were well laid out so I could slip easily into the story, and didn't feel like I'd missed a ton having not read the previous books. I have to say I really liked Sunny and Rayne and their relationship. Sunny's determination to prove to her boyfriend that she's right about Jane was great and her trek through Las Vegas in search of info that proves her right is both fun and entertaing. It's a path that leads her to a small theatre inside an old hotel and casino that's seen better days, but when she realizes the truth, Magnus isn't exactly easy to convince.

This was one book that once I started I couldn't put down and finished it in an afternoon. Ms. Mancusi does an excellent job keeping the reader in the story, unable to wait to discover what's really going on with Jane, and how she got past the supposed background check of the Coven. Sunny's way of tracking her down is a little more tame than Rayne's ideas, but nonetheless, work. My favorite scenes are when Sunny is at the rehearsal's for the Sun Hotel's production of 'Bram Stoker's Dracula'. You're just waiting for Sunny to get more info, and nervous that she's about to be discovered by the bad guys. The sisters' get an added complication with their staying arrangements, instead of being in one of the hotels, they're staying with their step-mother and the half-sister they never knew about, which causes some animosity between Sunny and Rayne, with Sunny at least attempting to be nice.

Filled with twists and turns, fun characters and a shocking ending that leaves readers demanding the next in the series, BAD BLOOD is a great paranormal read, perfect for summer.

Visit Mari Mancusi online at and on myspace at

Enchanting Reviews
May 2010

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Enchanting Review: Whisper

YA Paranormal
Harper Collins
ISBN # 978-0-06-179925-9
282 pages
Hardcover Available now

Rating: 4 Enchantments

Joy can hear people’s thoughts or whispers. She’s learned to use this to her advantage. Her other sister Jessica, does the exact opposite thing. She uses whispers to hurt others. Then on Joy’s fifteenth birthday her ability changes. She finds out what her friends really think. And it’s not all good. To make matters worse, Jessica taunts her. This causes Joy to lash out and tell her sister to leave. Later, Joy finds out Jessica is missing. Her mother isn’t being truthful and her father is oblivious. It’s now up to Joy to find her one Aunt who has silenced other’s whispers. Maybe then Joy can find the truth and also her older sister before it’s too late.

This intriguing tale shows what happens when a paranormal ability turns out not to be so great after all. The beginning of the story is a tad bit slow with a little too much back story. But once you read about the pivotal event that changes Joy’s life, you can’t put the book down. I liked the sister relationship, which was totally realistic. Jessica, alias Icka, is shown at first as a resentful presence. She’s a major pain in the butt and takes pleasure in putting Joy down. It would have been easy to keep it at that. Instead the author fleshed Jessica out to show her vulnerabilities which included her trying to warn Joy of what would happen to her gift when she turned fifteen and how she tried to connect with her telepathically.

The relationship between Jaime and Joy is interesting. I liked how each of them complimented the other. I also liked how the author shows how Jaime deals with his paranormal ability in a different way.

WHISPER takes an intriguing twist on a paranormal ability that makes you want to read more!

Phoebe Kitanidis lives in Seattle, Washington, with her husband and big gray cat. A former Language Arts teacher, she now writes full time. To find out more check out

Kim Baccellia
June 2010

Enchanting Review: Saving Maddie

YA Contemporary
Delacorte Press
ISBN# 978-0-385-73804-0
231 pages
Hardback Available now

Rating: 4 Enchantments

Everyone, including Joshua Wynn’s pastor father, expects him to be the perfect teen. So far he doesn’t disappoint as he chooses abstinence and religious retreats over partying and getting into trouble. Then one day an old friend shows up and turns his world upside down.

Maddie Smith comes to one sermon dressed in a very revealing dress which causes just about everyone to gossip. Everyone except Joshua. He still remembers the girl he’d meet at the blackberry brushes. But that girl has changed. No longer does Maddie want anything to do with organized religion. And rumor has it she has a bad reputation. Everyone, including Joshua’s father, discourages him from seeing Maddie. But Joshua can’t. He feels he can save Maddie. But in the process of doing this, will he lose his own way?

I really liked this story. Joshua’s struggles to be the ‘perfect’ son are very true. So are his challenges to not let his father down. Maddie coming back to town causes turmoil. Joshua starts to question his own faith and beliefs. I liked how the author shows Joshua struggling to still be the obedient son while fighting his growing attraction to Maddie.

The relationship between Joshua and Maddie is intense at times. Maddie’s shield does come down just enough for us to see that she’s not the stereotypical ‘slutty’ girl. Though I liked the interaction between Joshua and his parents, I would have liked the author to dig a little deeper. I felt that Joshua’s mother might have had more of a reason why she resented Maddie showing back up.

SAVING MADDIE digs down deep to break apart the stereotypes of what it means to be worth saving. It also shows how one teen does just that while in the meantime finding himself.

Varian Johnson is the author of MY LIFE AS A RHOMBUS. He lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife and their two cocker spaniels. He’s a graduate of the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA Program for Writing for Children and Young Adults. Find out more at

Kim Baccellia
May 2010

Enchanting Review: Nightmare: Too Scared Too Sleep

Kid’s horror
ISBN #978-0-545-10463-0
80 pages
Print Paperback- Available Now

Rating: 5 Enchantments

NIGHTTIME: TOO SCARED TO SLEEPwas a fun collection of scary short stories. My kids really enjoyed these around Halloween. We would snuggle up and I would read it to them. The stories of course are not scary for me but have just enough spook for my kids. Some of the stories are longer than others but all of them are fun. From what I can tell there are two more books in this set, and I will be getting those soon. My kids really enjoyed this book and can’t wait for more.

One of our favorite stories was THE NICEST BABYSITTER IN THE WORLD. This was a story of a babysitter who convinced the kids she was babysitting to tell her all about the boy who is being mean to them. They told her what they would like to do to him in a perfect world. I believe it was throw rocks at him while he is on his bike. The next day… he had rocks thrown at him. My kids loved it, and it taught them a lesson to not wish mean things on other people.

NIGHTTIME: TOO SCARED TO SLEEP was a fun collection of spooky stories perfect for children ages 5 to 10.

Todd Strasser is the author of children books from grade 2 and up. To find out more about his wonderful books please visit his website at

November 2009

Enchanting Review: Borderline

YA Contemporary
Harper Collins
ISBN # 978-0-06-145111-9
298 pages
Hardcover­—Available now

Rating: 4 Enchantments

Life isn’t easy for Sami Sabiri. After one incident with a girl, his father puts him in a private school where he’s the only Muslim teen. Then Sami catches his father in a lie and checks out what’s going on. Come to find out others, which include the FBI, are interested too. When the FBI comes and takes his father away, Sami’s family becomes the center of an international terrorist investigation. It’s up to Sami to find the truth before his world unravels.

I really liked Sami’s POV in this story. Sami describes how hard it is being Muslim in a post 9/11 world in a very realistic and believable way. Some ways he shows this is how he finds a secret place to say his prayers at the school. He also compares how different his life is from his non-Muslim friends and how it sometimes makes him feel invisible and left out. The scene where Eddy, the star football player and bully, torments Sami because of his faith struck a chord with me. My own brother-in-law and nephews are Muslim so I’ve heard from them how easy it is for others to quickly judge someone who’s different.

Sami’s friends at first seem indifferent to his plight but later show their true colors once Sami sets out to find the truth. I liked the interaction between the friends that didn’t feel forced at all. Also I liked how one teacher tries to stand up for what’s wrong with racism and to show Sami that he needs to not accept the bullies abuse but to stand true to who he is.

I feel this is a perfect book for a book club selection as it shows a Muslim teen dealing with very real issues in a post 9/11 world. This book addresses such themes as prejudice, racism, and fear of the unknown. Also how easy it is to believe the worse of someone because of their differences.

Allan Stratton is the author of the Printz Honor Book Chanda’s secrets. He’s the winner of other numerous citations. He lives in Toronto with his partner, two cats, and a pond full of fish. Visit him at to find out more on his books and latest projects.

Kim Baccellia
May 2010

Enchanting Review: The Van Alen Legacy

Young Adult paranormal
ISBN# 978-1905654796
400 Pages
Hardback- Available now

Rating: 4 Enchantments

THE VAN ALEN LEGACY is the fourth book in the Blue Bloods series. The series follows the lives and actions of three girls, Schuyler, Mimi, and Bliss with the primary story line following Schuyler. This book starts following the catastrophic events of Book Three REVELATIONS.

Schuyler is a wanted girl and is on the run with her best friend Oliver for crimes she did not commit. She is on the trail of her family’s legacy and to find out the cold hard truth no matter what stands in her way. However there is a fork in her road. Her head tells her which way is safe but her heart leads her on a different path.

Bliss is facing her own battle. She wakes up in a body she is unable to control. Her mind is her only safe haven however she seems to have no control of that either. What happened to her? How did she get in this position? And if it is not her living her life then who is?

Mimi is reveling in her new found power. She is one of the Venators. She has changed her life and is no longer Miss Priss. She is something to be feared. With this new change comes new love. But will Mimi trade in her destiny for a chance at a new life?

I would like to say that this book was perfect but it wasn’t. It took forever for any action to happen. I also did not like how this book takes place one year after the end of REVELATIONS. I would like to have had it immediately following the end of book three that way we could have gotten to see what happened when the disaster at the conclave was found out. The book did pick up after a bit and I was please to see some new characters start to be more active. One part of this book and series that I love is it really does show that nothing is set in stone. These characters are acting completely opposite of the way their destiny is telling them. They are having new roles in life and new loves. The ending of THE VAN ALEN LEGACY was quite shocking and a complete cliff hanger but this is the style of Miss De La Cruz. I for one cannot wait for the nest book in the series MISGUIDED ANGEL which comes out October 2010.

Melissa De La Cruz is the author of the Ashleys series, the Au Pairs series and now the new Blue Bloods series. To find out more about her and her books please visit her website at

February 2010