Review: Exile by Anne Ousterlund

by First Mate Keira

Title: Exile
Author: Anne Ousterlund
Format: Trade Paperback
Page Count: 304 pages
Grade Reading Level: Grades 7-12

Summary: Aurelia has exiled herself from the court in the last book, bearing her name, when she refused to marry the creepy king of a neighboring kingdom. She plans to tour the country of Tyralt (her soon-to-be kingdom) and visit the whole of it to get a feel for the people from every part. Almost immediately she suffers another assassination attempt. Who’s behind it this time? Can it be that her sister, Melony, has their father’s support now? Is there nobody she can trust? Well there’s one… Robert.

Why I started this book:

I was given a copy by the author.


  • The growing relationship between Robert and Aurelia. It’s sweet and grounded with room to blossom.
  • Aurelia’s ability to charm those around her even when they’re hostile. A good quality for a leader.
  • The trip up the Gate… I mean the gauntlet. Very vivid imagery and sad too when they come to the wagon wedged into the rock.
  • The desert tribes sequence was one of my favorites. Loved it.


  • The first assassination attempt in this book leads to a major melt down for Aurelia. Luckily it doesn’t last forever.
  • Aurelia’s real mother. Talk about a trying parent. That woman needs a kick in the rear and someone to shake some sense into her.
  • I got tired of the guilt both Robert and Aurelia visited time and again for doing what they had to do in order to survive the final confrontations in the previous book. A little was fine, even expected, but it dragged the story down and made it more somber.

Last Minute Thoughts: Robert takes a while to confess his love, but you’ll love it when he does. She too is pretty reserved until she isn’t. This can be at times very frustrating! I’m so glad he finally made a move and stood his ground not willing to be cowed because of her title. Who’s ready for the next book? I am! I want to know more about the new Heir of Vashone.

Buy: Exile

Rating: 3.5 Treasure Chests

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Review: The Iron King (Iron Fey, Book 1) by Julie Kagawa

by First Mate Keira

Title:The Iron King
Author: Julie Kagawa
Format: Kindle Ebook
Page Count: 368 (Paperback)
Grade Reading Level: Grade 7+

Summary: Meghan Chase is just your ordinary unpopular girl trying to navigate the hierarchy of high school, get her driver’s permit, and possibly a date with the hottest boy. Her best friend, Robin Goodfellow, calls her princess, an endearment she despises. What she doesn’t know is just how apt that nickname is because she is the bastard daughter of Oberon, King of the Seelie fairies and of Summer. When her younger half brother, Ethan, is kidnapped and taken to the Nevernever, Robin sheds his glamour and reveals that he is her protector and Puck, yes that Puck, from Shakespeare’s play A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In very little time Meghan finds her whole world turned upside down and that rescuing her brother will require help, loads of help, in the form of a cat, an Unseelie prince, and her best friend.

Why I started this book:

I requested a reader copy from the publisher because I love romances and was eager to read something from Harlequin’s new teen romance line. I picked this novel also because I had seen the title appear a lot on the YA blogosphere.


  • Julie Kagawa is absolutely brilliant. Her world building is vibrant, full and lively, and it literally leaps off the page. I enjoyed her new type of fairy species—a masterful stroke that really gives the story a new dimension. I would go into more details but it’s so much more fun discovering the answer for yourself.
  • Ash, the Unseelie prince, is a spectacularly drawn character. He’s that aloof hero whose motives are hard to determine. He hides a soft heart behind a cold hard façade and makes for a truly forbidden love interest. Yum.
  • Puck, he’s the wayward merrymaker who at times isn’t the best judge of when too far is too far. I have a feeling he’s also in love with Meghan but as of yet hasn’t made his feelings known and Meghan views him as her best friend, not a love interest.
  • Grimalkin or Grim, the cat. He reminds me of the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland and is another fantastic well drawn character. He’s sarcastic, condescending, and witty. He trades favors and barters without a plan seemingly in mind in order to extract another promise or favor from someone else. You can find him wherever something interesting is taking place.

Last Minute Thoughts: The worst part of the book is that it ended! The next in novel in the series cannot come too quickly for me. I can’t wait to read The Iron Daughter.

Buy: The Iron King (Harlequin Teen)

Rating: 5 Treasure Chests

P.S. The Iron King is the perfect story to read for any Twilight fan looking for a new series to love.

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GIVEAWAY + Review: Croc Capers (Bindi Wildlife Adventures, Book 7) by Bindi Irwin and Chris Kunz

Reviewed by First Mate Keira

Title: Croc Capers (Bindi Wildlife Adventures, Book 7)
Author: Bindi Irwin and Chris Kunz
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 112 pages
Grade Reading Level: Ages 7 and up

Summary: Bindi and Robert Irwin are visiting one of their favorite places in the world when their idyllic location and crocodile captures is interrupted by some noisy new neighbors.

Why I started this book:

I was offered the book by the publisher and it sounded cute.


  • Bindi, one of the authors (and the heroine!) is a young girl, age 13. Woo! Have you seen her on the Discovery Channel?
  • Crocodile-tagging adventures are cool. I can’t imagine wrestling one can you? Yikes!
  • The fact sheets at the end of the story are great for sharing fun tidbits about the animals.
  • The great bowerbird event was pretty neat. Not everything is as it seems! Good lesson to remember!


  • The book could do better to quickly share who is who for those who haven’t been in Bindi’s world before this, but it is relatively minor.

Last Minute Thoughts: Visit for more from Bindi and Robert and the activity guide for more fun with the books.

Buy: Croc Capers: Bindi Wildlife Adventures

Rating: 4.5 Treasure Chests

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GIVEAWAY: You could win all 7 books in the BINDI WILDLIFE ADVENTURES series! Open to residents from the US or Canada. Ends August 10, 2012. Enter by leaving a comment! Tell us about one of your wildlife adventures!

Review: I Learned a New Word Today… Genocide by Elizabeth Hankins

by First Mate Keira, guest reviewer

Title: I Learned a New Word Today… Genocide
Author: Elizabeth Hankins
Format: Paperback
# of Pages: 150 pages
Grade Reading Level: 5th – 8th grade

Summary: Javier Mendoza is a 5th grade student at Franklin D. Roosevelt Elementary. As part of an assignment for social studies he must keep a journal and tell what he learns about the new unit being taught by Mr. Steinberg, his social studies teacher. The unit is about genocide and specifically six genocides that happened in the last 100 years. It’s a fictional story filled with factual information.

Why I Read This Book:

This book was given to LYAF as an ARC. My sixth grade sister was going to read it but she found the subject too sad to really get into it for pleasure reading. I picked it up after that and read it over a couple of days.


  • Elizabeth Hankins keeps everything age appropriate. There are no gory details. When things are tough she keeps it light by having Javier boil the topic down to its basic components: genocide is sad, evil, terrible, and devastating.
  • A lot of factual information is condensed into this 150 page book and through Javier’s definitions, reiterations, lists, and commentary one learns a lot. It will be easy for kids from 5th grade to 8th grade to understand.
  • Two of the things gone over in the book are how genocide starts and how it is hidden or glossed over by others.
  • It is a thinking book. Young and older readers will think about what genocide is and figure out how to spot it even when it’s not being labeled as genocide.


I have only one dislike. Javier begins to question God’s presence in a world where genocide exists and He doesn’t stop it. Javier also questions whether or not God is good (page 58-59).

I was hoping at the end of the book Javier would come to a conclusion about both, but it was left unresolved and that really bothered me. I couldn’t tell why it was left that way even after Javier came to the conclusion he wanted to be a doer and not a watcher. What was the purpose?

One of the reasons for genocide listed in the book is religion and how people worshipped God. The book does say religion by itself does not cause genocide and Javier thinks if God is good and fair He would hate people fighting over Him. In my opinion genocide doesn’t happen because of God. It happens because there is a lack of Him, even and especially if people are using God as an excuse to do what they do.

In addition, faith groups are mentioned as great sources for good in the fight against genocide.

Still, I really wish once it had been brought up it had been dealt with more thoroughly. It is my only concern about the book because the message is unclear.

Last Minute Thoughts: Genocide is a sad topic and while the book a little heavy it is not overwhelmingly so for young kids. I think it would be a great companion for a unit study or in a literary group. I also think it would be a good book for adults looking to learn more about the subject without getting too wrapped up in the horrors involved. You can fill in the blanks well enough.

Buy: I Learned a New Word Today … Genocide

Book Rating: 4 Treasure Chests

Keira runs a book review blog for readers by readers on romance novels entitled Love Romance Passion. She’s been reading romance since she was in her teens and began blogging about romance so she could share her passion for her favorite genre. She loves reading paranormal, Regency, historical America, and highlander most of all and completely adores blind and wounded heroes.

Review: Goddess Interrupted (Goddess Test, Book 2) by Aimee Carter

goddess interrupted

Reviewed by First Mate Keira

Title: Goddess Interrupted (Goddess Test, Book 2)
Author: Aimee Carter
Format: Digital ebook
Page Count: 304 pages
Grade Reading Level: Ages 14+

Summary: Kate Winters back from her forced summer holiday as the new Queen of the Underworld, has found her husband, Henry to be very distant. She doesn’t understand why he is acting like that when she thought they were thawing the ice and loved each other. What gives? But now that Kate is in the Underworld and everywhere there are reminders of Henry’s first wife, Persephone. Is she the wedge between them? Will Kate have to fight for her husband’s love? Determined to do what’s right despite her misgivings for Henry’s secretiveness, she proceeds to the coronation and right smack in the middle of it Chronos makes an appearance and stops the ceremony cold. Henry dashes off to fight and gets abducted… and now Kate will have to fight for Henry in more ways than one!

Why I started this book:

Because the first book was epic!


  • Oh the angst! This novel is full of it and I love it. Love it. LOVE IT. Not only does Kate have feelings of insecurity and doubt, but misunderstandings abound between her and Henry. They each feel they know what the other is feeling and that causes problems. It might have been resolved faster had Henry’s abduction not gotten in the way, but that was the point. Kate waffles about how she’s going to deal with Henry’s love for Persephone.
  • There seems to be bit of a love triangle and I’m not referring to the Kate/Henry/Persephone triangle, but another one. What I like best about it is that the second guy who wants to be with Kate hasn’t got a chance though he keeps trying to persuade her by telling her Henry loves Persephone and the like. Kate won’t cheat on Henry. (If you know your Greek mythology a lot of the gods and goddesses cheat, all the time… apparently Hades and Hera never did though.)
  • I like that Kate rescues Henry and not the other way around. Girl power! Rah! Rah! Rah!
  • When Kate and Henry do talk? Swoon! Also Henry’s super duper uber protectiveness at the end… *grin*


  • The evil cliffhanger. Ahh!

Buy: Goddess Interrupted (Harlequin Teen)

Rating: 5 Treasure Chests

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Review: The Shadow Throne (Ascendance Trilogy, Book 3) by Jennifer Nielsen

the shadow throneReviewed by First Mate Keira

Title: The Shadow Throne (Ascendance Trilogy, Book 3)
Author: Jennifer Nielsen
Format: Ebook
Page Count: 341 pages
Grade Reading Level: Grades 8-12

Summary: The Kingdom of Carthya is surrounded on all sides by enemies. Allies are too far away to help. King Jaron must use his wits to outwit neighboring kings and their armies in what is essentially a no-win situation. Carthya doesn’t have enough troops to support all fronts of the war… something must give… then Imogen is kidnapped and Jaron has to decide – does he save the girl or his kingdom?

Why I started this book:

I requested and received this book from NetGalley because I loved the first two books in the trilogy.


  • I’ve always liked Jaron/Sage. His character is so deeply embodied, he practically leaps off the page brandishing his sword. I love how Jaron simply does not accept no-win scenarios as the only conclusion or solution. He’s clever enough to spin webs and webs of trickery and seem so innocent while doing so.
  • The romance between Jaron and Imogen. It is sweet, convincing, and emotionally rich.
  • The final scenario and solution to the war and the ending of the trilogy is one of the best endings to a series that I have ever read. All my expectations were met and more were fulfilled that I didn’t know that I wanted. You will not be disappointed. All threads are wrapped up and it’s very, very satisfying.


  • It’s over! Jennifer, please write another trilogy! I’m ready!

Final Thoughts: I loved this trilogy and recommend it to all readers, both young and old. The world of the Ascendance Trilogy is rich, the characters vibrant and palpable, and the story captivating.

Rating: 5 Treasure Chests

Buy: The Shadow Throne: Book 3 of The Ascendance Trilogy


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