Sunday, March 28, 2010
Scandal: Private book 11
by Kate Brian
After her terrifying Carribean vacation, Reed can't wait to get back to campus and resume her normal life of classes, shopping trips with the Billings Girls, and late-night gossip sessions. But when she arrives at Easton, she gets the shock of a lifetime.
Billings House is gone.
The administration has razed the scandal-rocked dorm and separated the Billings Girls. Outraged, Reed takes immediate action, turning Billings into a secret literary society - with a whole new set of rules. Eleven spots are open to any girl strong enough to endure the initiation. Every girl on campus wants in, and it's up to Reed to pick the best and brightest. And only the strongest will survive...
Okay, so I am totally addicted to this series. I practically drool when the new book comes out...every time! There is just something compelling about trying to figure out exactly how much disaster Reed can survive. The girl has been drugged, almost killed multiple times, backstabbed by best friends...and she keeps coming back for more! Plus she goes through boys like they're candy.
I know, I know...not great morals to be putting out there as examples, but I just can't help but devour these and as an adult, I don't have to worry about being able to discern that what I read in a book is not always the right behaviour to emulate! This is a series to pass on to girls who like Gossip Girl (though I didn't, hated the books, but LOVE the TV series).
What I loved about this particular entry into the series was that Reed took back the "Billings" label and made it her own. She stands up for what she believes in and takes the Billings Girls back to their roots as an organization made up of smart, loyal, nice, and brave women...not just the girls on campus who are connected (like a cashmere mafia!). Unfortunately, this doens't seem to work out...
Holding my breath already for Vanished in November.
I Kissed a Zombie and I Liked It
by Adam Selzer
Eighteen-year-old Algonquin "Alley" Rhodes lives in a town where post-humans have officially "come out of the coffin" and are now participating in normal society. Alley isn't into the whole post-human thing, thinking all vampires are just brooding, self-absorbed jerks, until the night she goes to the Cage to review a local band and falls for the "real goth" guest vocalist. For the first time ever, pale skin and black clothing are exactly what Alley finds hot!
When she and Doug start dating, Alley falls so hard she misses some key signs that there may be more going on with Doug than just an emo trend. He doesn't seem to change clothes, he smells a little funny, and he can't hold lengthy conversations. Finally, she gets clued in...Doug is the real deal...not just goth, he's a ZOMBIE!!
Alley knows that she needs to break up with Doug, but just can't seem to do it. Even with his "quirks," Doug is the most interesting guy Alley's been with...ever. Unfortunately, the vampire counselor at Alley's school thinks that if she's going to date Doug she's gonna have to go all the way and convert. Is Alley willing to die for her date?
This is a funny little gem of a book! It is full of snarky human, societal commentary, romance, teenage horomones, and yes, even zombie horror. What I loved most about this book was the realism amidst the paranormal horror. Alley is told she'll have to "convert" (a.k.a. die!) to continue seeing Doug and she goes online to do research. Finding sites and chat rooms devoted to people in human/post-human relationships, Alley uses first hand accounts and plans for their futures to help her decide what she should do. It was eerie how close Selzer was able to make some of those conversations sound like ones that teens have about other topics...
I don't want to ruin anything because I want people to read this book!! It's only 177 pages, so it took me about 2 hours to read, and I laughed A LOT! I think it ends very realistically...Selzer did a great job.
Friday, March 26, 2010
Fired Up: Book One of the Dreamlight Trilogy
by Jayne Ann Krentz
More than three centuries ago, Nicholas Winters irrevocably altered his genetic makeup in an obsession fueled competition with alchemist and Arcane Society founder Sylvester Jones. Driven to control their psychic abilities, each man's decision has reverberated throughout the family line, rewarding some with powers beyond their wildest dreams, and cursing others to a life filled with madness and hallucinations.
Jack Winters, descendant of Nicholas, has been experiencing nightmares and blackouts-just the beginning, he believes-of the manifestation of the Winters family curse. The legend says that he must find the Burning Lamp or risk turning into a monster. But he can't do it alone; he needs the help of a woman with the gift to read the lamp's dreamlight.
Jack is convinced that private investigator Chloe Harper is that woman. Her talents for finding objects and accessing dream energy are what will save him, but their sudden and powerful sexual pull threatens to overwhelm them both. Danger surrounds them, and it doesn't take long for Chloe to pick up the trail of the missing lamp. And as they draw closer to the lamp, the raw power that dwells within it threatens to sweep them into a hurricane of psychic force.
An excellent addition to the Arcane Society series. Jack and Chloe had great chemistry and I love this start to the particular Dreamlight trilogy. I cannot wait to see which characters the next two books in the trilogy feature. Fallon Jones has been a side character in several previous books in the series and I hope that he might be the main character in the third book.
My favorite part of the Arcane Society series overall is that there are three different types of Arcane books. Amanda Quick, the historical fiction pseudonym that Krentz adopts, puts out the books set in the Victorian era that give the Society's origins. Jayne Ann Krentz puts out the contemporary Society books. Jayne Castle, another Krentz pseudonym, puts out novels set in the future in a space colony. The books are being published simultaneously and I am amazed that Krentz can keep track of three worlds that are dependent upon one another.
I know this series is not YA, but this is one of my guilty pleasure adult series and I thought I would share! Can't wait for book two, Burning Lamp.
by Ally Carter
When Katarina Bishop was three, her parents took her on a trip to the Louvre...to case it. For her seventh birthday, Katarina and her Uncle Eddie traveled to Austria...to steal the crown jewels. When Kat turned fifteen, she planned a con of her own--scamming her way into the best boarding school in the country, determined to leave the family business behind. Unfortunately, leaving "the life" for a normal life proves harder than she'd expected.
Soon, Kat's friend and former co-conspirator, Hale, appears out of nowhere to bring her back into the world she tried so hard to escape. But he has good reason: a powerful mobster has been robbed of his priceless art collection and wants to retrieve it. Only a master thief could have pulled this job, and Kat's father isn't just on the suspect list, he is the list. Caught between Interpol and a far more deadly enemy, Kat's dad needs her help. For Kat there is only one solution: track down the paintings and steal them back. So what if it's a spectacularly impossible job? She's got two weeks, a teenage crew, and hopefully just enough talent to pull off the biggest heist in history--or at least her family's (very crooked) history.
This was a fun, fun, fun book! I loved it. Katarina, a.k.a. Kat, Kitty Cat, Kitty, is a great character. I loved how she wanted to go straight to do something different...to be different...by being "normal" for a while. I also loved how she stepped up and took charge when her family was in trouble. She has tons of spunk!!
I also really loved the relationships she had with all the characters around her. Hale, especially! It was somewhat refreshing to see a boy who obviously loved a girl to the umpteenth degree, but didn't pressure her about it...at all!! He was supportive and let her make her own decisions. Yay Hale!
I was totally bemused by the brothers Hamish and Angus. They were funny and sweet. Kat's cousin Gabrielle was a great example of how to combat stereotypical characters. She was hot, but by no means vapid! Simon was funny...especially when he finally noticed Kat was a girl.
All that gushing being said...I cannot wait to see what caper these characters get up to next!! A must read!
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
by Cyn Balog
Reviewed from ARC sent by SLJ. Publication date: July 13, 2010
(Delacorte Books for Young Readers)
Eron DeMarchelle isn't supposed to feel this connection. He is a Sandman, a supernatural being whose purpose is to seduce his human charges to sleep. Though he can communicate with his charges in their dreams, he isn't encouraged to do so. After all, becoming too involved in one human's life could prevent him from helping others get their needed rest.
But he can't deny that he feels something for Julia, a lonely girl with fiery red hair and sad dreams. Just weeks ago, her boyfriend died in a car accident, and Eron can tell that she feels more alone than ever. Eron was human once too, many years ago, and he remembers how it felt to lose the one he loved. In the past, Eron has broken the rules to protect Julia, but now, when she seems to need him more than ever, he can't reach her. Eron's time as a Sandman is coming to a close, and his replacement doesn't seem to care about his charges. Worse, Julia is facing dangers she doesn't recognize, and Eron, as he transitions back to being human, may be the only one who can save her...
Even once they've become human again, Sandmen are forbidden to communicate with their charges. But Eron knows he won't be able to forget Julia. Will he risk everything for a chance to be with the girl he loves?
I enjoyed this book a lot. It was fairly short, but chock-full of new paranormal lore. The Sandmen concept was fascinating. Humans are chosen to fill a Sandman/Sandwoman position for 100 years after they die, then once they fulfilled their term, they can go back to being human at the age they were when they died.
Eron, about to go back to being human, realizes that his favorite charge, the one he should admit he's become way too attached to, is being threatened in a very mortal way. Eron has difficulty protecting her, though, since sometimes he's human, sometimes he's a Sandman (therefore invisible) and the threat comes from another Sandman, someone almost impossible to stop.
Though I am very, very sick of using Twilight as any type of a reference at this point, I have to admit that Twilight fans will eat this book right up. It has an ill-fated, but all consuming love, danger coming from an unusual and hard to understand source, even the friend trying to become more than just a friend! This is not just a Twilight-esque book, though. It is a well done book that any fantasy reader can enjoy.
In a genre that is bursting at the seams right now - often with poorly written, unimaginative books put out just so that teens will keep buying, buying, buying - Sleepless is an excellent addition to the YA paranormal fantasy realm.
Monday, March 22, 2010
by Marissa Doyle
Penelope (Pen) Leland has come to Ireland to study magic and to prove to herself that she is as good a witch as her twin sister, Persy. When the dashing Niall Keating begins to pay her court, however, she can't help but be distracted from her studies.
Little does Pen know, Niall is acting upon orders from his sorceress mother. And although it starts as a sham, Niall actually falls deeply in love with Pen, and she with him. But even if he halts his mother's evil plan, will Pen be able to forgive him from trying to seduce her into a plot? And what of Pen's magic, which seems increasingly powerful?
I really enjoyed this second book in the Leland Sisters series. I had loved Persy as a narrator in the first, but found myself drawn even deeper into the story with Pen narrating this time. Her social naivete coupled with her magical knowledge made for many interesting situations.
I loved the "earthiness" of the female goddess' magic and the Irish setting. I will caution Librarians that this book was more sexually explicit than the first. It wasn't horrific, but it is very clear that Niall needs Pen to lose her virginity so that she cannot complete his mother's spell and he attempts to seduce it out of her - though in a very nice way since he plans to marry her.
All in all, a fabulous read and I really, really hope for a third book in this series!
Saturday, March 20, 2010
I just reviewed Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show in my last post and now the publisher is offering a free copy to the winner of my contest! Very exciting.
If you would be interested, just comment on the review (found here) before April 3rd and I will randomly draw a winner!
Friday, March 19, 2010
Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show: a Novel
by Frank Delaney
"She sprang from the womb and waved to the crowd. Then she smiled and took a bow." And so we first meet Venetia Kelly, the beguiling actress at the center of this new, spellbinding, and epic novel by Frank Delaney, the bestselling author of Ireland and Shannon.
January 1932: While Ireland roils in the run-up to the most important national election in the Republic's short history, Ben MacCarthy and his father watch a vagabond variety revue making a stop in the Irish countryside. After a two-hour kaleidoscope of low comedy, Shakespearean recitations, juggling, tumbling, and other entertainments, Ben's father, mesmerized by Venetia Kelly, the troupe's magnetic headliner, makes a fateful decision: to abandon his family and set off on the road with Miss Kelly and her caravan. Ben's mother, shattered by the desertion, exhorts, "Find him and bring him back," thereby sending the boy on a Homeric voyage into manhood, a quest that traverses the churning currents of Ireland's fractious society and splinters the MacCarthy family.
(copy taken from inside jacket)
Delaney does a marvelous job in this lyrical and interesting book. Deftly interweaving the political roil of the early 1930's in Ireland, into the story of one family, Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show both captivates and educates.
The main character, Ben, becomes embroiled in a web of scheming and incestous relationships, unable to fully entangle himself, even as he writes his story as an old man. As I read, I marveled at the way that he reacted to the others around him, at their expectations of him, and the way that many of them depended upon him - he, the youngest character in the entire book.
Venetia Kelly and her mother, Sarah, both seemed entrancing and undeniable. I felt myself drawn into the circle of their world with ease, following Ben blindly as he wanted to learn more. Nuances of their relationships with each other and the other people that surrounded them (i.e. - King Kelly, Mrs. Haas, Cody, etc.) were compelling and drew me deeper into the novel with every chapter.
At first, I attempted to skip over some of the political pieces mentioned in this novel, but soon realized how intregal they became to the story so I started really paying attention. Once I picked up on some of the smaller details, I found that I learned a lot about Ireland's political history in this time and that was very interesting.
This 400+ page novel is definitely an adult, not YA book, but it is beautifully written and worth the read. Eventually, I plan to go and check out some of Delaney's other novels. (I think I will miss Blarney - the ventriloquist doll that was almost elected to office - in the next one that I read, though!)
Full disclosure: Hardcover provided by publisher/author for review
If you would like more information, you can check out Frank Delaney's website at www.frankdelaney.com or his Facebook fan page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Frank-Delaney/400446510051?ref=ts
Sunday, March 14, 2010
Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant
Adapted from the Cirque du Freak series by Darren Shan.
I just watched this movie tonight and I have to say it was pretty good. I haven't read the books so I don't know how it is comparitively, but I definitely enjoyed it just as a movie. The special effects were pretty good, it wasn't too gross, and I liked 95% of the casting choices. In fact, this movie did it's job, as I now want to go and read the series!
Just a little FYI, if you are thinking about showing this movie in your library, with proper licensing, of course, there are a few blantant swears and there is quite a bit of violence. Just warn your viewers that it is rated PG-13.
A Pearl Among Princes
by Coleen Murtagh Paratore
Welcome to the island where Princes learn to be charming...
Gracepearl Coal is the Cook's daughter on Miramore, the island all Princes visit for their summer program in the Charming Arts. Each year Princes-in-training arrive on gallant seacraft, guided by captain's trained to navigate the island's treacherous waters. Passage on one of these boats is the only way to leave the island - thus betrothal to a royal is the only way for Pearl to find her far-off destiny, the one that's started haunting her dreams. Luckily, this year's crop of Princes include some promising prospects, but how will Pearl leave behind her ailing father or - hardest of all - marry a boy other than her long-time beloved, Mackree...who now finds it too painful to even speak to her?
This was a charming book. I found Gracepearl to be a likeable character. She was nice, sweet, conscientious, but also balanced. Her love was true, even if it was confused. She never led on the boys she was considering and she took her friends feelings into consideration all the time.
The other main characters were all likeable as well. Some were gruff, some misunderstood, some shy, but all were true to themselves. This is a good book to give to a tween or less self-assured teen who needs a little dose of a "nice" book where the characters treat each other fairly well and remember who they are when all's said and done.
Parts of the plot were a little predictable, and it all seemed to work out very well at the end, but it is such a nice story that I was left smiling at the end anyway. I think there are a lot of readers who would have this same reaction. A good read!
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Kiss in the Dark
by Lauren Henderson
Book Three in the Scarlett Wakefield Series
With Dan McAndrew's murder finally behind her, Scarlett has high hopes for a fresh start at Wakefield Hill Collegiate, the elite English boarding school her grandmother runs. Unfortunately, those hopes are dashed when her nemesis, the infamous Plum Saybourne, is transfered to the school.
Plum wastes no time turning Scarlett's impressionable classmates against her. Scarlett has dealt with Plum's nasty schemes before, and she can handle her archenemy very nicely, thank you - until Plum sets her sights on Scarlett's best friend, Taylor, and her new boyfriend, Jase. Then Scarlett is more than willing to fight for what's rightfully hers.
Things only get worse after Scarlett becomes entangled in a mysterious death on campus. Scarlett is compelled to investigate because she wants to protect someone close to her. She never imagines that she'll uncover secrets related to her parents' fatal accident so many years ago...
Publication date: April 13, 2010
Monday, March 8, 2010
Sunday, March 7, 2010
by Catherine Fisher
Incarceron is a prison unlike any other: Its inmates live not only in cells, but also in metal forests, dilapidated cities, and unbounded wilderness. The prison has been sealed for centuries, and only one man, legend says, has ever escaped.
Finn, a seventeen-year-old prisoner, can't remember his childhood and believes he came from Outside Incarceron. He's going to escape, even though most inmates don't believe that Outside even exists. And then Finn finds a crystal key and through it, a girl named Claudia.
Claudia claims to live Outside--her father is the Warden of Incarceron and she's doomed to an arranged marriage. If she helps Finn escape, she will need his help in return.
But they don't realize that there is more to Incarceron than meets the eye. Escape will take their greatest courage and cost far more than they know.
"Incarceron...A Prison like no other...It gives life...It deals death...It watches all."
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It's an intriguing new idea...a prison that governs itself. One that's not too far from a possibility in our future. That's what I really love about most of the YA dystopias out right now; the realization that these stories are possible...maybe not probable, but possible.
What I really enjoyed, too, about this particular dystopia was that it also had a steampunk feel. Once their society advanced too far, the ruling King decreed that the realm would live in a state of "Protocol." Though they had developed technology, they would no longer be allowed to use it. Society was repressed to the simplicity of a society like our Victorian Age. By all appearances, society obeyed, but underneath the surface, most still used their technological advancements to make life easier.
I loved Incarceron as a character. It was creepy and philosophical at the same time. Cool.
I liked Claudia, Jared, Finn, Attia, and even the Warden as characters. I was not as fond of Keiro, but then, I don't think I was supposed to like him...:P
I did not always enjoy their interactions with each other, though. I found the "revelation" that Finn may be Giles was a little predictable and unexciting. I was much more impressed with the revelations that Claudia was born in Incarceron, that the Warden could enter Incarceron, and that Sapphique had not really escaped his imprisonment.
All that being said, though this book took me a few more days than I had expected to read and some bits felt slow, I definitely look forward to reading the next book. It ended on a high note!
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Books of Umber: Book 2
by P. W. Catanese
Happenstance would like nothing more than to stay in the comfort of the Aerie, Lord Umber's spectacular cliffside home, without having to worry about the secrets of his past -- or the undetermined role he must play in Umber's desperate mission.
But adventure beckons when Umber receives two mysterious messages. One is a desperate plea for help from Caspar, the man who stole precious documents from Umber's archives that could unlock the mysteries of Hap's powers. Caspar is trapped on a forbidden island, the victim of a nightmarish curse. He is willing to reveal his secrets to Umber and Hap -- but what he demands in return may be impossible to achieve.
The second message is from an oppressed kingdom ruled by a brutish monarch, where an old rival of Umber's has stolen a cache of dragon eggs. The eggs have begun to hatch, and the question is, what do they plan to do with those infant dragons?
I give P. W. Catanese a lot of credit for writing an excellent fantasy series! I loved the first book, Happenstance Found and the followup Dragon Games definitely lived up to its predecessor. The author has created a whole new world full of interesting creatures, characters you can't help but become drawn to, and an overarching mystery that sucked me in completely. There is so much detail in the plot of each book that they could almost stand alone, but discovering little bits about Happenstance and why he exists truly is the intriguing and dazzling focus of the series. I can't wait to read the next volume.