Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Kiss in the Dark
by Lauren Henderson
Scarlett Wakefield series, book three
With Dan McAndrew's murder finally behind her, Scarlett has high hopes for a fresh start at Wakefield Hall Collegiate, the elite English boarding school her grandmother runs. Unfortunately, those hopes are dashed when her nemesis, the infamous Plum Saybourne, is transferred 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 new boyfriend, Jase. Then Scarlet 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 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...
(description from Amazon.com)
There is not alot that I can say about the plot of this book without getting things away...hmmm...so, I'll just tell you that I really enjoyed it. I devoured it in fact. It was well worth the wait!
A lot...and I mean A LOT of little tidbits are revealed in this book, setting things up for book four. Though I was very sad at the end of this book...and no, I won't tell you why!, I was satisfied with the book...and now I am drooling for the next. Already. I feel a little as if Lauren Henderson just loves to tease me. Ah well.
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Congratulations!!! I will email you to get your full mailing address then have the swag pack sent out to you!
*Van_Pham, I tried to email you, but it wouldn't go through...can you email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your mailing address so that we can get the swag pack out to you?*
Monday, June 28, 2010
by Amy Brecount White
Something - some power - is blooming inside Laurel. She can use flowers to do things. Like bringing back lost memories. Or helping her friends ace tests. Or making people fall in love.
Laurel suspects her newfound ability has something to do with an ancient family secret, one that her mother meant to share with Laurel when the time was right. But then time ran out.
Clues and signs and secret messages seem to be all around Laurel at Avondale School, where her mother had also boarded as a student. Can Laurel piece everything together quickly enough to control her power, which is growing more potent everyday? Or will she set the stage for the most lovestruck, infamous prom in the history of the school? (description taken from Amazon.com)
This was a very good fantasy for readers that don't want to delve into high fantasy. The magic is woven so delicately into the storyline, that non-fantasy readers may even enjoy picking this one up. I had already known about the Victorian Language of the Flowers, but learned a lot more from this book. It's a fascinating topic often forgotten.
The grief that Laurel feels from losing her mother is handled very delicately, but realistically here, as well. She grieves, she feels anger, she forgives, and she works to remember. Laurel forms new relationships with her grandmother and a kind professor at school, both of whom knew her mother well, and through them she is still connected.
I love magic. I love romances. This book had both... neither was the main focus of the book, yet the story could not move on without them. Laurel learned who she truly was and it was all linked together. I cried at the end...in such a wonderful way. I am looking forward to more from this author.
Once a Witch
by Carolyn MacCullough
Tamsin Greene comes from a long line of witches, and she was supposed to be one of the most Talented among them. But Tamsin's magic never showed up. Now seventeen, Tamsin attends boarding school in Manhattan, far from her family. When a handsome young professor mistakes her for her very Talented sister, Tamsin agrees to find a lost family heirloom for him. The search - and the stranger - will prove to be more sinister than they first appeared, ultimately sending Tamsin on a treasure hunt through time that will unlock the secret of her true identity, unearth the sins of her family, and unleash a power so vengeful that it could destroy them all. (description taken from Amazon.com)
This was a gem of a witchcraft based fantasy story. Tamsin is a wonderfully multi-faceted character that readers can get behind and also relate to closely. Her relationships with family members are loving but strained. Her perfect sister is favored frequently, her mother just doesn't understand her, and everyone else alienates her because she is not "Talented."
When her oldest friend, Gabriel, suddenly reappears...he's changed. Not only is he more confident, but he's, well, HOT! Tamsin doesn't quite know what to make of him, but Gabriel has definitely made up his mind about her. Together they travel through time attempting to find the object that Tamsin promised to Allistair, but the danger may be too great, and she may have doomed her entire family.
When old secrets are revealed, new dimensions of the family emerge. MacCullough doles out the tidbits sparingly until right at the end, leaving readers anxious for more. The way this volume ends, it could be a stand alone or it could be the first in a series. I'm hoping for the latter!
Monday, June 21, 2010
Sunday, June 20, 2010
by Kiersten White
Evie's always thought of herself as a normal teenager, despite the fact that she works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she's falling for a shape-shifter, and she's the only person who can see through paranormals' glamours.
But Evie's about to realize that she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures.
So much for normal.
(back cover copy)
I literally jumped up and down and squealed like a little girl when this book came in the mail...you can ask my co-workers! I made a total fool of myself. *Sigh* Oh well...it was TOTALLY worth the humiliation!!
This book was amazing! Sucked me in from the first page. Evie is the new "Buffy," and I love, love, love her! Any girl who carries a pink, bedazzled taser nicknamed "Tasey" totally rocks. Evie is the perfect blend of girly teenager and kick-butt superhero. Oh yeah, and did I mention the "victim" vulnerability that gets added to the mix? This is a fully faceted, intriguing, awe-insipiring character that I would love to see featured in more books.
Her love interest, Lend, the cool water elemental shape-shifter is another great character. Heck, even her ex, Reth, that I hated through most of the book, turned out to be a very, very interesting character...
There were some hot and steamy moments in this book, balanced out by sweet, and scary moments. White wrote a book that I just did not want to put down!
Really all I can say without giving it all away is a.I want to see the awesome golden flames and b. Can I have more PLEASE????
Full disclosure: ARC received from Publisher (Thank you, thank you, thank you!!)
by Ally Condie
Society matched them, but love set them free
In the society, Officials decide. Who you love. Where you work. When you die.
Cassia has always trusted their choices. It's barely any price to pay for a long life, the perfect job, the ideal mate. So when her best friend appears on the Matching screen, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is the one...until she sees another face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black. Now Cassia is faced with impossible choices: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she's known and a path no one else has ever dared follow - between perfection and passion. (back cover copy)
I could not put this book down. I almost finished it in one setting, but finally had to put it down with only 5 chapters to go (the agony) so that I could get up at 5am the next morning. Ugh. I just wanted to keep reading and reading and reading.
Matched is compelling. Cassia is a great character. She is smart and loyal and loving, yet also realistic in that part of her just wishes to live her life as expected. To be safe and secure. Both Ky and Xander are guys that would make any girl question her life choices...they're both smart, hard-working, brave, willing to do anything for her...and oh, did I mention cute?
The most fascinating thing about this story, though, was the Society. It was easy to see that this was a futuristic society set after the fall of our own. Run by Officials, citizens have every single decision in their lives made for them. This was a chillingly realistic dystopia that kept me on edge the whole way through.
Condie very successfully tied in elements from some major classic dystopias. The Society was very reminiscent of 1984's Big Brother. They also ruled with pills to keep their citizens content and unaware like in Brave New World. This may become a new classic...
I sincerely hope that a sequel is written to this book. I don't want to give spoilers, but Cassia makes quite a few great discoveries, both about the Society and her own self, the passion between Cassia and her love interests is palpable and exciting, and the book ends leaving room for an exciting sequel!!PS - I LOVE this cover! Not only is the bubble image evocative, the green is exquisite and perfectly matches a description of Cassia in the book, but there is a very subtle texture pattern to the white background giving a metallic appearance (you can't tell in a picture) that just matches the tone of the book. One of the best covers I've seen this year!
Full disclosure: A friend actually found this ARC and gave it to me...can you believe it?!
Friday, June 18, 2010
by Melissa Marr
Wicked Lovely, book 4
Hunger for Nourishment. Hunger for Touch. Hunger to Belong.
Half-human and half-faery, Ani is driven by her hungers.
Those same appetites also attract powerful enemies and uncertain allies, including Devlin. He was created as an assassin and is brother to the faeries' coolly logical High Queen and to her chaotic twin, the embodiment of War. Devlin wants to keep Ani safe from his sisters, knowing that if he fails, he will be the instrument of Ani's death.
Ani isn't one to be guarded while others fight her battles for her, though. She has the courage to protect herself and the ability to alter Devlin's plans - and his life. The two are drawn together, each with reason to fear the other and to fear for one another. But as they grow closer, a larger threat impails the whole of Faerie. Will saving the Faery Realm mean losing each other? (description taken from Amazon.com)
I really enjoy this series, though I was a little leery after reading Fragile Eternity (book 3). That book was good...but it didn't completely flow. I kept putting it down and not being sure I really wanted to pick it up again, though by the end, I loved the storyline.
I find the Wicked Lovely world compelling. I love dark fae and dark magic and Marr has a way of making both her humans and fae fascinating in their darkest moments. Of the series so far, I think that Wicked Lovely and now Radiant Shadows are my favorite volumes.
In this book, Ani and Devlin both ride the line of "people" who can and have done very bad things, and yet want to be good. Their passion for doing the right thing and finding and keeping each other is palpable. It leapt right off the page and I found myself frantically trying to finish this book in one sitting. I did not want to stop reading!
I really loved to, beyond their romance, the upheaval and resettlement that takes place in the larger Fae realms. I don't want to spoil this for anyone, but there were some really good betrayals, loyalty tests, and political maneuverings in this book. With the way it ended, I am very, very curious to see where Marr plans to take this in the final fifth book.
Monday, June 14, 2010
Zan-Gah: A Prehistoric Adventure
by Allan Richard Shickman
Zan, about to become a man, petitions his tribe to be able to participate in a massive hunt. A lion has been picking off the weak from all the local tribes, so all the men, regardless of tribe, will come together to hunt and Zan wants to use this opportunity to show his strength and bravery. He does so in spades. Zan faces down an angry lioness alone and earns the name Zan-Gah, Zan of the Rock.
Once proven a man, Zan undertakes a second mission. His twin brother, Dael, disappeared and Zan-Gah was determined to find him and bring him home. His lone quest takes him to new lands, encounters with new, strange tribes, captivity, starvation, and some startling discoveries.
Zan-Gah: A Prehistoric Adventure is a book with an exciting premise. Zan-Gah faces down a lion alone. His bravery sets him up to become a leader to his people. He invents the slingshot. He gleans secrets from other tribes that will ensure the survival of his tribe for many more generations.
This book is fairly short and is written in short, easy to read sentences. Reluctant readers should find the subject matter compelling and will be hard pressed to put this book down. Shickman even sneaks in some interesting background information without detracting from the plot. I am curious to see what happens in the sequel Zan-Gah and the Beautiful Country.
Full disclosure: Received from publisher for review
The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner
by Stephenie Meyer
An Eclipse Novella
Bree Tanner is a newborn vampire, created by "her" and corralled into compliance by a slightly older vamp named Riley. As more and more newbies are created and subsequently keep dying in accidents, Bree begins to question what she will have to do to survive in this new second life. One day on a hunt she meets another newbie, Diego, who seems to feel as she does about keeping quiet and smart and safe...not showing off and letting the bloodlust overcome...that's how vampires die. As Bree and Diego begin to trust each other, they figure out that Riley may have been lying to them about what they are really here for...why they were created in the first place. Can they stir things up without tempting fate and facing death a second time?
I have to be honest. I am SO over Twilight now that when I heard this book was being published my first thought was that Meyer was just looking for another way to make money. I still think that to some degree, but once I broke down and read this book (because I'm a teen librarian and since it's gonna be huge I consider this to be part of my job) it surprised me.
It was better than I expected. Though I did not remember Bree at all from Eclipse, I read it such a long time ago, it was an interesting new perspective on the Twilight world. Meyer really delved into what the human-hunting vampires thought about and felt in their daily existence. Bree was interesting because she was smart and street savvy (unlike Bella! Sorry, just had to get that dig in there somehow :P) and her relationships with Diego and Fred were fun to read about.
What I didn't like was that even though it was almost 200 pages, it had no chapter breaks at all. I need a place to put the book down when I have to go to work, etc! Also, it was kind of like watching Titanic, I knew ultimately how it ended...
Overall, though, not too shabby.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Better Read Than Dead
by Victoria Laurie
Psychic Eye Mysteries, book 2
Word of Abby's talents reading tarot cards has reached a mob boss who wants her help in some business matters and he doesn't take no for an answer. When the police seek out her psychic intuition to shed light on a masked man who's been attacking women, Abby finds herself working both sides of the law on her own, leading her to wonder, why didn't I see this coming?
What a fun series. These books are so easy to tear right through. Dutch is a hottie, and Abby is fun and relatable. This book was interesting because it involves the Greek mafia...a little more unusual than the Italian version we are all used to. I learned a little bit about tarot card reading. I really loved getting to jump into Abby's life again. Laurie has a way of drawing out tension to really rachet up the suspense.
The Last Dragon
by Silvana De Mari
When the last dragon and the last elf break the circle, the past and the future will meet, and the sun of a new summer will shine in the sky.
In a world shrouded in darkness and continually lashed by rain, a young elf named Yorsh struggles to survive. His village has been destroyed by the torrential waters, leaving Yorsh suddenly orphaned and alone - the earth's last elf. But soon Yorsh discovers he is part of a powerful prophecy to save the world from the Dark Age that has begun. First, however, the young elf will have to find another orphaned creature - the world's last dragon.
(description from Amazon.com)
Originally, I tried to read this in print format since it is one of our Nutmeg (CT book award) nominees for grades 7 and 8. Somehow, I just couldn't get into it. I waited about a month and then got The Last Dragon on audio and...loved it!
For me, this was really a case of needing the storytelling format to get into the plot. The narrator, Trish Connelly, weaved the tale in a lyrical voice. I felt like someone was reading me to sleep at night. It was wonderful.
Once I got into the proper mood, I fell in love with Yorsh. He is a caring, sensitive, and somewhat naive character that is worthy to be the center of a prophecy about saving the world.
Yes, it was awesome to imagine riding on a dragon. Yes, the romantic element was fun. What really sold me all the way through, though, was Yorsh's voice. He was so...good. Without realizing it, he stands up against discrimination, spreads love and wonder wherever he goes, and makes others around him belief in the better things in life.
A good, solid fantasy, though a little slow to start.
by P.C. and Kristin Cast
House of Night, book 7
When friends stop trusting each other, Darkness is there to fan the flames...
Things have turned black at the House of Night. Zoey Redbird's soul has shattered. With everything she's ever stood for falling apart, and a broken heart making her want to stay in the Otherworld forever, Zoey's fading fast. It's seeming more and more doubtful that she will be able to pull herself back together in time to rejoin her friends and set the world to rights. As the only living person who can reach her, Stark must find a way to get to her. But how? He will have to die to do so, the Vampyre High Council stipulates. And then Zoey will give up for sure. There are only 7 days left...
(description taken from Amazon.com)
Another addictive addition to the House of Night series. The Casts really know how to write a soap opera of a vampire story! I have to say the more I read about Stark the more I root for him. I love Stark! The sacrifices he makes for Zoey are amazing. There is a lot of soul searching and maturing in this book. The depths of friendhip and love between these characters are amazing.
Can't say much more without having spoilers, so I'll just say...LOVED IT!
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
The Body Finder
by Kimberly Derting
Violet Ambrose is grappling with two major issues: Jay Heaton and her morbid secret ability. While the sixteen-year-old is confused by her new feelings for her best friend since childhood, she is more disturbed by her "power" to sense dead bodies - or at least those that have been murdered. Since she was a little girl, she has felt the echoes the dead leave behind in the world...and the imprints that attach to their killers.
Violet has never considered her strange talent to be a gift; it mostly just led her to find dead birds her cat left for her. But now that a serial killer is terrorizing her small town, and the echoes of the local girls he's claimed haunt her daily, Violet realizes she might be the only person who can stop him.
Despite his fierce protectiveness over her, Jay reluctantly agrees to help Violet find the murderer - and Violet is unnerved by her hope that Jay's intentions are much more than friendly. But even as she's falling intensely in love, Violet is getting closer and closer to discovering a killer...and becoming his prey herself.
I really liked the supernatural twist on this serial killer story. The echoes that Violet gets are really cool because they can be visions, smells, or even sounds. No echo is alike and Derting really changed it up with the different types of echoes that Violet came across.
I love the developing relationship between Jay and Violet. Their crushes on each other are so cute, yet passionate. He is so protective and caring and sweet. Ahhh...a little bit crushworthy!
Though there wasn't a ton of actual traditional mystery/detection going on in the story, since Violet really only relies on her supernatural sense, there were a couple of really good twists and Derting does an excellent job building suspense throughout the story.
by Violet Haberdasher
All Henry knows is life as an orphaned servant boy at the Midsummer School, bullied by the privileged sons of aristocracy. But all that changes when Henry is the first commoner to pass the entrance exam for the prestigious Knightley Academy, where he will be trained as a modern-day knight alongside the cleverest and bravest fourteen-year-olds in the country.
Henry and his roomates, two other students from decidedly un-Knightley backgrounds, are not exactly greeted with open arms by their classmates. In fact, it soon becomes apparent that someone is going to great lengths to sabotage the trio's chances at becoming knights. But Henry soon learns that there is more at stake here than his future at Knightley, and only he can sound the alarm. Is anyone going to believe a former servant on the brink of expulsion? (description taken from Amazon.com)
I devoured this book...and then I sighed with happiness. It is very reminiscent of Harry Potter. To clarify, it is not one of the carbon copy wizard books that came out just after the whole wizarding explosion in MG/YA. What it has is the feeling that Rowling was able to evoke in her readers.
Yes, there is an orphan, some downtrodden, looked poorly upon friends, a slight romantic tension, and the struggle to fight for what's right...manners, valiance, fighting oppression, tyranny, and discrimination.
What makes this book special is that you are drawn into a new world with fantastic, well drawn characters. Henry, Frankie, and even his school nemesis, Valmont are mutli-faceted characters that grow and support each other right in front of the reader's eyes. The narrator's voice is also really funny, sarcastic, and similar to Lemony Snicket.
Another thing I loved was the blend of modern and medieval. This is what I would refer to as steampunk without the sci-fi feel. This book is set in "modern" times, yet there are still knights in society. They are detectives, police officers, and more, but they are KNIGHTS. Awesome!
If you've been missing something since Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows came out, ending an era, you need to try this new series!!
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Shadow of the Moon
by Rachel Hawthorne
The Dark Guardians, book 4
I can feel every shifter's emotions except Daniel's - the only one whose heart I long to know.
Hayden was born a werewolf, a Dark Guardian. But her ability to sense the feelings of fellow werewolves has made her life unbearable. She runs away, only to be tracked by charming, mysterious Daniel, a newcomer to the pack and the one Shifter immune to her powers. As she reluctantly follows him home, Hayden feels herself falling dangerously in love...
But even as her feelings for Daniel deepen, Hayden begins to wonder if he is who he claims to be. Where did he come from and why has no one ever seen him transform? When they stumble upon the body of a Shifter still in wolf form, her worries grow. Someone is killing her kind. Is her handsome tracker really a hunter? And is Hayden now his prey?
I love this series. I really, really do...they are short, sweet, and even though somewhat predictable, they are fantastic to fall into!
So far, honestly, this is my favorite of the series. I really loved the first, Moonlight, but this newest book has not only the wonderful Dark Guardian werewolves, but other shifters, secrets, and one steamy romance!!
If you haven't read this series yet, you should run out right now and grab book 1. Seriously!
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
The Red Pyramid
by Rick Riordan
The Kane Chronicles, book 1
Since their mother's death, Carter and Sadie have become near strangers. While Sadie has lived with her grandparents in London, her brother has traveled the world with their father, the brilliant Egyptologist, Dr. Julius Kane.
One night, Dr. Kane brings the siblings together for a "research experiment" at the British Museum, where he hopes to set things right for his family. Instead, he unleashes the Egyptian god Set, who banishes him to oblivion and forces the children to flee for their lives.
Soon, Sadie and Carter discover that the gods of Egypt are waking, and the worst of them -- Set -- has his sights set on the Kanes. To stop him, the siblings embark on a dangerous journey across the globe -- a quest that brings them ever closer to the truth about their family, and their links to a secret order that has existed since the time of the pharoahs.
I really enjoyed delving into the Egyptian mythology that has fascinated me since I was a kid with Carter and Sadie! Riordan again manages to incorporate so much about the gods into the storyline without taking away from the action. It's such a seamless process.
I love the new main characters and Bast, the cat goddess, is now one of my favorite woman's power characters ever! I will say, though, that there were times that I felt like Sadie's and Carter's sibling roles would reverse for me. I would catch myself thinking that Sadie was at least fourteen and the older twin. (especially when she was eyeballing the hot, young-ish god...)
That was also an issue for me when the narration would switch from one twin to the other. Since I didn't always get a clear picture of each twin's voice I would have to keep an eye on the twin label at the top of the page to know whose first person narration I had dropped into.
Once I get past that, though, I really did enjoy the storyline and am anxious to read book 2! Can't wait to see what the godlings get up to next!
*It was brought to my attention today that I accidentally referred to Sadie and Carter several times as twins in my review...when I checked I realized it was totally true! Whoops. This just reinforces for me the fact that I could not keep straight in my head what ages Carter and Sadie were supposed to be...they sounded the same age so often that I must have gotten that stuck in the back of my mind. I apologize. For the record - Carter is fourteen, Sadie is twelve.
The Strawberry Picker
by Monika Feth
Three girls room together in a small city in the German countryside. While the hunt is on for a serial killer moving through their area, two of the girls begin to worry about the "secret" boyfriend their roommate has been hiding. When she is murdered, suspicion is immediately cast upon the unknown boyfriend. As the girls investigate, and one finds a new boyfriend...who likes to be unknown...will they discover that he's the killer before it's too late?
To be honest, I am not a fan of serial killer books since they are usually kind of gory. It's only recently that I've been able to start watching shows like "Criminal Minds," without getting nightmares and having to check the locks about a thousand times. That being said...
This book was just like watching an episode of "Criminal Minds." You know from the beginning that the strawberry picker is the serial killer but you have to wait until the main characters come to the same conclusion. It was also fairly cinematic in that the chapters alternated between the killer, the girls, the police, and the writer...all of whom are involved in the mystery in some important way. You get to see all facets of the issue and how they connect.
Even as a book I wouldn't normally pick up, it was well written and suspenseful. If you like murder mysteries, thrillers, and especially books where you get to see the killer's perspective, you should try this novel. Definitely geared for upper high school into college age readers.