Monday, July 5, 2010
by Rae Mariz
In a startlingly possible dystopian society, the school system has failed to the point that the government gave over control of national education to corporations. These conglomerates have banded together to create what are known as "Game Centers." Here students like Katey Dade, or Kid, go to "school" daily in refurbished shopping malls. They swipe cards to get in and out, they carry issued cell phones with GPS trackers, they post continuously to profile pages and status feeds (eerily similar to Facebook and Twitter), while administrators and corporate officials monitor their every move. Students who acheive the highest scores in games, set the coolest fashion trends, and gain the utmost popularity are "Branded," instantly becoming infamous nationwide and assisting the corporations to plug their wares.
Kid coasts, never looking to become "Branded," until one day through her drawing attention to a malicious seeming prank, Kid is taken up by not just one corporate sponsor, but two, as a "trendspotter" instead of a trendsetter. As she tries to balance new expectations suddenly placed on her life with betrayals by lifelong friends and new relationships, including a potential new boyfriend, Kid also begins to question the structure around her. Drawn to the prank pulling group calling themselves "The Unidentified," Kid longs for her previous anonymity and blissful ignorance of the shady dealings all around her.
Fans of The Hunger Games and The Maze Runner will enjoy this new dystopian society. It was actually somewhat scary to imagine our education system converting to something like this, yet it wasn't inconceivable. The fact that corporations run so much in our lives already made this scenario feel ridiculously possible.
Kid felt very "real" to me. She wants to date the cute guy, hang out with her friends, and have fun. She doesn't, however, want to be the next "it" girl, and that's where everything starts to go wrong for her. Her friends were also very realistic characters with flaws that made them seem exactly like today's high school students, just in a really cool new type of school.
Since it's very easy to inadvertently give spoilers in this type of book I will just say that this book made me think, creeped me out a little because it felt possible, and left me filled with hope in the end. A very good read!
Full disclosure: ARC received to review for School Library Journal.
by Gail Carriger
The Parasol Protectorate, book one
Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations. First, she has no soul. Second, she's a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social ettiquette.
Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire - and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.
With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia is responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London's high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart? (taken from back jacket copy)
This is paranormal romance at its finest. This is steampunk at its finest. This is the best combination of the two that I have come across yet! I LOVED the start of this new series and kicked myself that I did not read this book sooner.
Alexia is my favorite kind of heroine. Determined, intelligent, independent, resourceful, yet still vulnerable. I love that she carries a specially ordered parasol for protection. I love that she can be snarky with the head London Werewolf. You have to love that chutzpah!!
Lord Maccon, Conall, is one sexy beast...and yes, I do mean that almost literally. He is an Alpha Werewolf and he wants nothing more than to have Alexia for his own. His second, Professor Lyall, cracked me up...balancing propriety with scientific advancement and practicality to assist his Alpha in all aspects of pack life.
What made this great steampunk is the setting and descriptions. Alexia and the others are in Victorian London, complete with hackney carriages, strolls in Hyde Park, going to routs, etc., but they also have dirigibles, exsanguination machines, and many other more advanced scientific machinations. The delicate balance between Alexia's manners, dress, and societal expectations with her bluestocking nature and interest in all the advancements around her pulls readers right into a world that feels natural.
Add to that mix a sprinkling of vampires, werewolves, ghosts, automatons, and more! Ahh, I was in heaven. I cannot wait to read Changeless and Blameless!!
Sunday, July 4, 2010
by Lili St. Crow
Strange Angels, book two
No more little miss nice girl.
The Real World is a frightening place. Just ask sixteen-year-old orphan Dru Anderson, a tough girl who has taken on her fair share of bad guys. She's armed, dangerous, and not going down without a fight. So it's gonna take her a while to figure out who she can trust...
Poor Dru. Her parents are long gone. Her best (okay, only) friend Graves has been bitten by a werwulf. And she just learned that the blood flowing through her veins isn't entirely human. Now Dru's strange and handsome savior, Christophe, has her hidden away at a secret Schola for djamphir and wulfen teens. Trouble is, she's the only girl in the place. The really bad news? Dru's killer instinct says that one of her schoolmates wants her dead.
St. Crow did it again. I started this book and could not put it down. I gobbled it up in one sitting and then immediately wanted the next one! Dru is an awesome character...like Buffy or a female version of Dean from Supernatural.
The cover of this book really captures the characters well. Dru is confused and trying to survive in unfamiliar territory, unsure of who her enemies are and what powers she may grow to have as a svetocha. Graves, now a loup-garou, able to utilize werwulfen powers without becoming furry, only wants to protect Dru. Christophe on the other hand, claims he wants to protect and train Dru, but keeps disappearing and leaving Dru to be looked at by others...some of whom may not have her best interests at heart.
While Dru is struggling to figure things out she is also confused about her feelings for these two very different young-ish boys. In a whirlwind few days, Dru is able to run with the werwulfen, has to fight off the bloodlust, can sense new things, and questions everything around her. As it seems more and more likely that someone is out to get Dru, who can she really afford to trust?
Excitement. Danger. Betrayal. Secrets. Passion. Friendship.
Just plain awesome!
by S.A. Bodeen
Mason has never known his father, but longs to. All he has of him is a DVD of a man whose face is never seen, reading a children's book. One day, on a whim, he plays the DVD for a group of comatose teens at the nursing home where his mother works. One of them, a beautiful girl, responds. Mason learns she is part of a horrible experiment intended to render teenagers into autotrophs - genetically engineered, self-sustaining life-forms who don't need food or water to survive. And before he knows it, Mason is on the run with the girl, and wanted, dead or alive, by the mysterious mastermind of this gruesome plan, who is simply called The Gardener.
Will Mason be forced to destroy the thing he's longed for most?
To be totally honest, I was disappointed in this book. It had gotten great reviews and I loved her earlier book, "The Compound." The concept for this book intrigued me. Turning teens into self-sufficient soldiers...cool.
While I thought Mason was a really interesting character and I liked the relationship that he had with his mother...I spent most of my time mentally yelling at Mason. Though there was a lot of action, Mason spent most of the time running around oblivious to all of the things that seemed blindingly obvious to me. If he had been a little more intuitive I would have enjoyed the rest of the book a lot more.
Zan-Gah and the Beautiful Country
by Allan Richard Shickman
Well past the middle of the night Zan felt a shaking of his shoulder as he slept, and then an impatient foot kicking at him. Instinctively grabbing for his spear, he looked up and saw the orange glow of a torch, and as his eyes adjusted to the invading light he recognized his brother's ghastly face. Dael's dangerous brow was furrowed, and the vein of his forehead bulged under the old scar. His teeth were clenched, and his eyes darted nervously back and forth. His every motion expressed a profound agitation, and Zan knew that what he had been dreading had come.
"It is time, Zan. Let us go!"
"Where? It's dark!"
"I want to find where the river comes from."
The volcanic turbulence that shakes Dael's mind carries him to vicious extremes. It is Zan's task to calm his brother and lead him away from thoughts both destructive and self-destructive. But even the paradise of the Beautiful Country will not erase them. (taken from back cover copy)
Again Shickman draws readers into the turbulent prehistoric world of Zan-Gah and his Ba-Coro tribe. Since rescuing his brother, Zan-Gah has continued to be treated as a leader. After Dael's wife dies, his grief drives him almost to madness. As thoughts of revenge on all those who had previously wronged him, including his once beloved twin, Dael becomes another leader, causing those who follow him to question breaking their tribe apart for good.
This fast paced, easy to read book includes love, betrayal, jealousy, courage, inventiveness, and fanaticism, making for an exciting read. Each character grows in interesting ways and many concepts about right and wrong, good and evil, are explored.
A good pick for a middle school reader looking for some excitement! Readers do not even have to start with the first book. Enough is recapped in this one that it is not necessary, though it would be recommended.
Full disclosure: Received from publisher for review.
Saturday, July 3, 2010
by Tina Wells
Mackenzie Blue, book three
Mackenzie Blue is hitting the trails!
It's time for Brookdale Academy's camping field trip, but Zee has much more to deal with than a lesson about nature.
I'm not sure how I feel about spending an entire week in the woods away from home.
Pros: 1. My BFF, Ally, is visiting all the way from Paris! Ooh la la!
2. My friends and I are so going to win the environmental scavenger hunt!
Cons: 1. We have to stay in teeny-tiny log cabins. How will we all fit?
2. The legendary (and terrifying) Mountain Man...
Zee is determined to have a great time at Brookdale Mountain, but when her friends stop getting along she can't help but wonder: Will the trip be a bust?
This is a series I wish had been around when I was entering middle school. Mackenzie is such a relatable character...she's started a new school, her BFF moved away so she had to make all new friends, and she's starting to have real feelings for boys.
What makes Zee stand out, though, is that even when she's unsure or scared, she's still herself. She's unapologetic about the things she likes and she really cares about everyone around her. She is a fantastic role-model for tween readers! Zee likes to customize her clothes, room, accessories...everything. She is in an awesome new band. She loves adventure and wants to be a rock star.
I want to be Zee!!
In her newest adventure, Zee and the other "Beans" head out on the school's week-long camping trip. Zee has never been away from home before and is somewhat anxious. When she starts to have encounters with the legendary "Mountain Man" her tension really amps up. Add to that, awful stomachaches, her fears that the band might be breaking up, and her two girl BFFs not getting along, and Zee is facing one stressful trip!
Wells does a great job building tension, exploring tweens' fears and feelings, building awesome friendships and even popping in environmental and social concern issues without overwhelming the characters and basic plotline. It flows really well and is fun to read.
Tween girls will love this series as it is peppered with diary entries, drawings, instant messages, emails, and lots of "things" to look at along the way. If they liked Diary of a Wimpy Kid definitely steer them in this direction.
Don't forget to check out Mackenzie Blue and The Secret Crush!
Highly recommended for the tween set.
Full disclosure: Provided by publisher for review
Friday, July 2, 2010
by Chloe Neill
Chicagoland Vampires, book three
Shapeshifters from across the country are convening in the Windy City, and as a gesture of peace, Master Vampire Ethan Sullivan has offered their leader a very special bodyguard: Merit, Chicago's newest vampire. Merit is supposed to protect the Alpha, Gabriel Keene - and to spy for the vamps while she's at it. Oh, and luckily Ethan's offering some steamy, one-on-one combat training sessions to help her prepare for the mission.
Unfortunately, someone is gunning for Gabriel, and Merit soon finds herself in the line of fire. She'll need all the help she can get to track down the would-be assassin, but everywhere she turns, there are rising tensions between supernaturals - not least between her and a certain green-eyed, centuries old master vampire.
(description taken from Amazon.com)
Let me just say I was stoked, no, beyond stoked to find this on the shelf at my local Borders, since it doesn't officially come out until Tuesday. What a stroke of luck. I rushed home, opened it, and steadily devoured every word! I love this series and every book keeps getting better.
Merit still kicks some major butt and with a great, snarky attitude that I am absolutely 100% behind! Woot. Without giving spoilers, I'll tell you that we get to see a LOT more of the shapeshifters in this one. I especially loved getting to see more Jeff, who happens to be my favorite of ALL the guys. Yes, even including Ethan. I am Team Jeff all the way.
However, I will admit that chapter eight...oh chapter eight...is very, very steamy and well worth reading. No more on that right now...you'll have to read for yourself.
Here there is betrayal, family loyalties that are divided, lust, revenge, jealousy...all the elements that make me flip a page almost faster than I can actually read it! I am so ready for book four to come out...like tomorrow!!
This is the first book in the ten book series by Louise Rennison. Miss Georgia presents her life in a diary full of hilariousity, generosity, geniousity, snogging (that's Billy Shakespeare-land speak for kissing for those of you from Hamberger-a-go-go land, also known as America) and a Sex God, a Luuurve God, and a Laugh!
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!!