Friday, December 30, 2011

2011 Zombie Reading Challenge Wrap Up Post

All right, it's fessin' up time. I signed up for this challenge aiming to read at least 10 zombie books this year. Let's see how many I actually shuffled my way through!

2011 Zombie Reading Challenge titles:
Kiss Me Deadly ed. by Trisha Telep
Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry
Three Quarters Dead by Richard Peck
The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan
Bad Taste in Boys by Carrie Harris
Enclave by Ann Aguirre
Graveminder by Melissa Marr
Infinity by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Die for Me by Amy Plum
Working Stiff by Rachel Caine

10 Titles - Woot! Just shambled my way through this one, lol.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Raven Summer

Raven Summer
by David Almond

Liam and his friend Max are playing in their neighborhood when the call of a bird leads them out into a field beyond their town. There, they find a baby lying alone atop a pile of stones—with a note pinned to her clothing. Mystified, Liam brings the baby home to his parents. They agree to take her in, but police searches turn up no sign of the baby’s parents. Finally they must surrender the baby to a foster family, who name her Allison. Visiting her in Northumberland, Liam meets Oliver, a foster son from Liberia who claims to be a refugee from the war there, and Crystal, a foster daughter. When Liam’s parents decide to adopt Allison, Crystal and Oliver are invited to her christening. There, Oliver tells Liam about how he will be slaughtered if he is sent back to Liberia. The next time Liam sees Crystal, it is when she and Oliver have run away from their foster homes, desperate to keep Oliver from being sent back to Liberia. In a cave where the two are hiding, Liam learns the truth behind Oliver’s dark past—and is forced to ponder what all children are capable of. (description from

I had a really hard time with this book. It's short and easy to read, so it wasn't a comprehension thing, was that I had no connection with the characters. I would latch on to one piece of the plot and then the author would switch focus to a totally different aspect of what was going was disjointed and I just couldn't make heads or tails of the real point of the book.

It was not the right book for me.

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer
by Michelle Hodkin

Mara Dyer doesn't believe life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there. It can.

She believes there must be more to the accident she can't remember that killed her friends and left her strangely unharmed. There is.

She doesn't believe that after everything she's been through, she can fall in love. She's wrong. (description from

Everything you've heard about this book - it's true.

I can't tell you what it's about without giving things away. What I can tell you is that I could not put it down. I stayed up too late reading it. I snuck chapters at work. I dreamed about this book.

All I can say is read it. It will haunt you.

2011 Debut Author Challenge title

Saturday, December 24, 2011

My "Bests" of 2011...

For the last couple of years, I have painstakingly agonized over reviewing all of the books that I read that year and carefully chose one great book for many, many different genres or categories. This year, I'm simplifying!

I realized the other day that I already had a great system in place for my "best of" choices... my GOLD STAR reviews! Duh. LOL.

So, without further ado, and in order only by alphabetizing the title (not reflective of one being chosen over another), here is my BEST OF 2011 list:

A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin
Adult Epic Fantasy - Martin is a master storyteller! He manages to weave a huge amount of characters and storylines together, seemingly effortlessly, to create a whole new, intriguing, and compelling world.

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
YA Romance/Realistic Fiction - Her debut novel blew so many people away! Perkins is the only author with not only two books on my list, but they are her *only* two books! Phenomenal. Anyway, the Parisian setting, the swoon-worthy boy, the realistic emotional journey... this book is a winner.

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
YA Realistic Fiction/Satire - So, so ridiculously funny! This book is the perfect satire of everything our society has become known for, plus it has reality TV pirates, exploding makeup, and girls who learn that they can kick butt. Awesome.

Clarity by Kim Harrington
YA Mystery - Fast paced and compelling. Fern's psychic perspective was so fascinating. I couldn't put this one looking forward to Perception!

Darkness Becomes Her Kelly Keaton
YA Dystopia - The Setting. OMG, the setting. Lush, creepy New Orleans. Creepy characters, creepy society, creepy setting, I COULD NOT put this book down. Literally. One sitting - done.

Divergent by Veronica Roth
YA Dystopia - This, this is the next best dystopia after The Hunger Games. I can't wait for the follow up, to see what Tris does next. Excellent.

Everfound by Neal Shusterman
YA Dystopia - The finale of a phenomenally done trilogy. Shusterman manages to raise so many fantastic moral questions and totally sucks readers into his characters' (after)lives.

Hourglass by Myra McEntire
YA Science Fiction- Time travel romance. Need I say more? This one had me sighing as I read. (Though more for the secondary guy character... don't tell!)

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
YA Romance/Realistic Fiction - Perkins' sophomore novel proves that she is a master at romance. I liked this one even better than the first. The characters are phenomenal and unique!

New York to Dallas by J. D. Robb
Adult Murder Mystery - I love this series hard. Robb not only creates fascinating murder mysteries, but also has a whole world of character development going on outside of the murders. Eve and Roarke's relationship scorches readers right off the pages. This particular book in the series delves deeper into Eve's past and had me bawling. SO GOOD!

Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt
YA Historical Fiction - The companion to The Wednesday Wars, Schmidt does an even better job here! Doug is a character that will pull at your heartstrings, and you will cheer him on the whole way through.

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly
YA Historical Fiction - The biggest tearjerker on my list this year. A phenomenal blend of information about the French Revolution and the angst and grief of a girl who has lost her little brother. Wow.

Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry
YA Science Fiction - A zombie book that is full of heart. The frontier setting made for a great "western" feel. The characters were phenomenally well drawn. This was another book that proves the zombie genre is not so much about the zombie attacks as it is the survivors.

The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan
YA Science Fiction - The ultimate in questioning what humans would be willing to do to survive. Suspenseful, compelling, heartbreaking...I was on the edge of my seat right until the very end.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
YA Fantasy - This book reminded me so strongly of my all time favorite book, Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce. It has a strong, flawed heroine. It has a wonderfully well developed new fantasy world. It has an intriguing new religion. I'm thoroughly looking forward to book two!

Now, this is my list as of today. There are still a little under two weeks left in 2011. I may have to add a title, I'm not sure... We'll see.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Dear Twenty-Something @ Reclusive Bibliophile

Hey. I don't know if you've had a chance to come across this, but Melanie over at the Reclusive Bibliophile has a whole awesome series this month called, "Dear Twenty-Something." Each post is from someone writing a letter to themselves during their twenties. They are full of good advice, sweet anecdotes, and well, fun!

I was so happy to be able to contribute. :)
Check out my "Dear Twenty-Something" letter here.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Cover Craving... The Girl in the Clockwork Collar

The Girl in the Clockwork Collar
by Kady Cross
The Steampunk Chronicles, book two

Publication date: May 22, 2012

Aside from loving the first book in this series, The Girl in the Steel Corset, with its awesome steampunkishness, this series has been blessed with some rockin' covers! I cannot wait to read this one and pet the pretty cover...

Love the gorgeous color and exotic look of her outfit!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

EW posted the exclusive CINDER book trailer today!

I can't tell you how excited I am to read Marissa Meyer's debut book, Cinder!

I had previously posted information about the upcoming Lunar Chronicles series because it is a scifi/fairy tale blend that sounds awesome. Anyway, Entertainment Weekly posted the exclusive trailer here today - and it does a really great job of letting you know what the book's about and still being totally intriguing.

I cannot wait to read this book!!

Check it out and let me know what you think~

Monday, December 19, 2011

2012 Debut Author Challenge!

I'm super excited to sign up again to do the Debut Author Challenge, hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren! This gives me the chance to check out all the new and hopefully upcoming authors in YA. :)

*To read & review a minimum of twelve young adult or middle grade debut novels between the dates of January 1, 2012 – January 31, 2013.*
*The 2013 extension is so that December Debuts can be read and count toward the challenge.

*Any advance reader copies you read from 2012 BEFORE the January 1st start date DO NOT count toward the challenge!

*You can read twelve books in one month, or one book a month. It doesn’t matter as long as you have 12 read by the end of the year!

*You must have a Blog to post your reviews or be a member of Goodreads.

*Your blog must be written in English.

*Deadline to join is May 31, 2012. You can sign up on The Story Siren.

*Must be a young adult or middle grade title.

*Must be the author’s YA or MG debut, released in 2012.

*If an author has a previous novel published for adults or children, they can still qualify for the challenge.

*If an author has a previous YA or MG title, they do not qualify for the challenge.

Queen of Kentucky by Alecia Whitaker - 1/2/2012
The Cabinet of Earths by Anne Nesbet - 1/3/2012
Cinder by Marissa Meyer - 1/3/2012
Everneath by Brodi Ashton - 1/3/2012
Fracture by Megan Miranda - 1/3/2012
Incarnate by Jodi Meadows - 1/31/2012
Harbinger by Sara Wilson Etienne - 2/2/2012
Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi - 2/7/2012
Article 5 by Kristen Simmons - 2/14/2012
When the Sea is Rising Red by Cat Hellisen - 2/28/2012
Illuminate by Aimee Agresti - 3/6/2012
Katana by Cole Gibsen - 3/8/2012
A Breath of Eyre by Eve Marie Mont - 4/1/2012
The Selection by Kiera Cass - 4/24/2012
Welcome Caller, This is Chloe by Shelley Coriell - 5/1/2012
Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown - 6/12/2012
Level Two by Lenore Appelhans *Pub date not yet set*
Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger *Pub date not yet set*

If You Like: Holiday Romances

"If You Like…” is a feature highlighting blogger recommendations for books, authors, TV shows, movies, and music based on the things you already know and love.

Tis the season...and if you love a little romance during the holidays, check out all these great books, movies, and music recommendations!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Drink Deep

Drink Deep
by Chloe Neill
Chicagoland Vampires, book five

Clouds are brewing over Cadogan House, and Merit the vampire can't tell if this is the darkness before the dawn, or the calm before the storm. With the city itself in turmoil over paranormals and the state threatening to pass a paranormal registration act, times have never been more precarious for the vampires. If only they could lay low for a bit...

Then magic rears its ugly head when Lake Michigan turns black. The mayor insists it's nothing to worry about, but Merit knows a panic is coming. She'll have to turn to friends old and new to find out who's behind this, and stop them before it's too late for both the vampires and humans. (description from

Chloe Neill is a master of the urban fantasy genre. Her books just keep getting better and better! After the end of Hard Bitten I think that we all were slightly panicked about how the series would continue without one of its main characters. Chloe managed to banish all doubts!

This book not only answered that lingering question about how Merit would go on...and in several interesting ways... but also introduced a huge new intriguing twist! The elemental magic and new supernatural beings introduced kept the storyline fresh and compelling and I can't wait now for book six!

One of my all time favorite series - with a kick @ss heroine.

Essay Contest for Aspiring YA Writers!

The Book Wish Foundation is hosting an awesome essay contest for aspiring YA writers!

Win a literary agent or acclaimed author's feedback on your unpublished manuscript for young adult or middle grade readers. This rare opportunity is being offered to the six winners of an essay contest recently announced by the literacy charity Book Wish Foundation. See for full details.

You could win a manuscript critique from:

  • Laura Langlie, literary agent for Meg Cabot
  • Nancy Gallt, literary agent for Jeanne DuPrau
  • Brenda Bowen, literary agent and editor of Karen Hesse's Newbery Medal winner Out of the Dust
  • Ann M. Martin, winner of the Newbery Honor for A Corner of the Universe
  • Francisco X. Stork, winner of the Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award for The Last Summer of the Death Warriors
  • Cynthia Voigt, winner of the Newbery Medal for Dicey's Song and the Newbery Honor for A Solitary Blue

All that separates you from this prize is a 500-word essay about a short story in Book Wish Foundation's new anthology, What You Wish For.

Essays are due Feb. 1, 2012 and winners will be announced around Mar. 1, 2012.

If you win, you will have six months to submit the first 50 pages of your manuscript for critique (which means you can enter the contest even if you haven't finished, or started, your manuscript). You can even enter multiple times, with essays about more than one of the contest stories, for a chance to win up to six critiques.

If you dream of being a published author, this is an opportunity you should not miss. To enter, follow the instructions at

Friday, December 16, 2011


by Ally Condie
Matched Trilogy, book two

*Caution! Spoilers Ahead...*

In search of a future that may not exist and faced with the decision of who to share it with, Cassia journeys to the Outer Provinces in pursuit of Ky - taken by the Society to his certain death - only to find that he has escaped, leaving a series of clues in his wake.

Cassia's quest leads her to question much of what she holds dear, even as she finds glimmers of a different life across the border. But as Cassia nears resolve and certainty about her future with Ky, an invitation for rebellion, an unexpected betrayal, and a surprise visit from Xander - who may hold the key to the uprising and, still, to Cassia's heart - change the game once again. Nothing is as expected on the edge of Society, where crosses and double crosses make the path more twisted than ever. (description from

I have to say that, sadly, I was disappointed in this book. I *loved* Matched and this follow up totally fell flat for me. While I still think that the world concept is very cool, I lost interest in what was happening with the characters.

While the first book captivated me with the danger of discovery, the depth of society's control, and the forbidden romance that was developing...the second lost all of these elements. Though Ky and Cassia are both facing imminent physical danger, this book lacked the suspense of the first. I never felt like either of them was really going to die...or have to live without the other.

Though I will assuredly read the final book in the trilogy because I want to know what happens with the characters, the Society, and especially the mostly absent (in Crossed, anyway) Xander, this book fell into the trap of a "middle" book. It was overlong, not too much happened, and I just wanted to get to the next one.

I'm also finding that the older I get the more I want my love stories to be filled with realistic strife. Love is not easy. And I mean that emotionally, not necessarily that the characters have to be in danger or cannot get to one another... I mean that they will not admit their love, they will fight their love, they will not recognize their love. It will build slowly and it will last. Cassia and Ky's love built well in the first book, but sadly once they are on the run, they both just spent all of their time pining for one another. It was a classic case of two people feeling as if they cannot be whole without the other. I found myself becoming bored with the fact that neither really did anything until they came together again...

I hope that Condie can bring back the magic of the first book when she completes the trilogy.

Full disclosure: Audio book received to review for AudioFile

Thursday, December 15, 2011


by Tamora Pierce
The Legend of Beka Cooper, book three

Beka and her friends will face their greatest and most important challenge ever when the young heir to the kingdom vanishes. They will be sent out of Corus on a trail that appears and disappears, following a twisting road throughout Tortall. It will be her greatest Hunt—if she can survive the very powerful people who do not want her to succeed in her goal. (description from author's website)

Picking up three years after Bloodhound, Beka embarks on her most important case, yet. She and Achoo must truly prove that they are the best scent team in Tortall to find the heir to the throne. In their search, they uncover the many pitfalls the kingdom faces by allowing the slave trade to run through it's borders.

I find Beka's cases fascinating. It's like reading about medieval policework and it's sooooo intriguing. Some readers complain about the style of this series - that it's written in journal form, that it jumps too quickly on the timeline, with years passing between books. This is one of the best features of this series for me.

Tamora Pierce has created one of her strongest characters yet. Beka is tough, she is dedicated, and she is defined by her job. That's why it doesn't matter how much time has passed between books. We only see the most important parts of Beka's life. Her big cases. The moments that define her life. What happens day to day doesn't affect her truly, it's the big moments that make her who she is.

Without letting you know all the secrets in this book (you'll have to read it for yourself, lol!), there is a romance that develops. It is sweet and believable. That is another thing that makes Tamora Pierce my favorite author. She creates strong female characters and they never have to compromise for love. The men in their lives love them for who they really are...they accept them wholly and do not ask them to change. They become the strongest pairs and their love lasts because they are truly meant for each other.

Finally, (I know, enough gushing!!) I just want to mention that my favorite book of ALL TIME is Tamora Pierce's, Alanna: The First Adventure. Immediately upon finishing this title, I did something I hardly ever have time to do anymore. I spent an entire afternoon rereading my beloved Alanna series. Though I have shelves of unread books, this particular one inspired me to immediately rip into my old favorites. It was blissful. :)

If you love strong female characters, are fascinated by police cases, and like a touch of fantasy, you would do well to check out this series by Tamora Pierce.

Monday, December 12, 2011


by Elizabeth Miles

It’s winter break in Ascension, Maine. The snow is falling and everything looks pristine and peaceful. But all is not as it seems...

Em is thrilled that the guy she’s been into for months is finally noticing her. But if she starts things with him, there’s no turning back. Because his girlfriend is Em’s best friend. And on the other side of town, Chase’s social life is unraveling and the stress of his home life is starting to take its toll. But that’s nothing compared to what’s really haunting him. Chase has done something cruel....And it’s only a matter of time before he’s exposed.

In Ascension, mistakes can be deadly. There are three girls—three beautiful, mysterious girls—to choose who will pay. Em and Chase have been chosen. (description from

This book was interesting. I liked the contemporary stories dealing with Em's relationship dilemma and Chase's horrific betrayal. I liked the concept of the Furies punishing those who broke life's moral rules.

But, something felt like it was missing... I felt a disconnect - like the two parts of the story did not match up. Maybe part of it was that Miles wrote this knowing it was part of a trilogy, so not everything about the Furies needed to be revealed. I longed through this book for...more. More about where the Furies came from, more about how they choose their victims, more about where they go when their "job" is done.

I'm really hoping that in the next book in the series, much more will be revealed. I would love to see more of the mythology behind the Furies!

2011 Debut Author Challenge title

If You Like: Stories About New Adulthood

"If You Like…” is a feature highlighting blogger recommendations for books, authors, TV shows, movies, and music based on the things you already know and love.

This week's recommendations are all books, movies, TV shows, and music that feature "New Adulthood," the twenty-something years...the transition to college...becoming a real adult. A seriously underrepresented section in YA Literature! For our recommendations, check here!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Faceless Ones

The Faceless Ones
by Derek Landy
Skulduggery Pleasant, book three

Valkyrie screamed, sprinting toward Skulduggery.
He looked up and reached out to her, but it was too late.

If you've read the other Skulduggery Pleasant books by Derek Landy (and you really should have read them by now), you've seen it all before: Some bad guy wants to bring about the end of the world, and Skulduggery and Valkyrie fight valiantly to stop it from happening. A few people get hurt, sure, but everything's all right in the end.

Well, not this time. (description from

Though I really enjoyed the first two books in this series, I found it really hard to get into the third. I don't know if it was because I was reading it at work and so only read a chapter or so at a time, but there were a LOT of characters to keep track of and the plot didn't suck me right in.

I did like that Valkyrie is starting to have to reconcile her "real" life with her magical one. I also really liked the plot in the last quarter of the book. There were some cool chase scenes, but overall I was a little disappointed in this book.

However, the very end has a great hook and I may have to pick up the next one just to see what happens next. We'll see...

My Life in Pink and Green

My Life in Pink and Green
by Lisa Greenwald

Twelve-year-old Lucy Desberg is a natural problem-solver. At her family’s struggling pharmacy, she has a line of makeover customers for every school dance and bat mitzvah. But all the makeup tips in the world won’t help save the business. If only she could find a way to make it the center of town again—a place where people want to spend time, like in the old days. Lucy dreams up a solution that could resuscitate the family business and help the environment, too. But will Lucy’s family stop fighting long enough to listen to a seventh-grader? (description from

This was a very cute tween read. Perfect for a girl that wants to learn to become more confident in her own abilities. Great for a tween who's just starting to think about boys.

Lucy is a very sweet and smart girl. She makes a goal for herself and she sticks with it. She treats everyone as well as she can, even if she doesn't like them. She wants the best for her friends and family.

This is one of those books that you will breeze through and just end up smiling when you are done reading it. It probably won't stick with you forever, but if you're looking for a "beach" type read, this would be a great choice.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Half Brother

Half Brother
by Kenneth Oppel

Ben Tomlin was an only child for thirteen years. Then his parents brought home a baby chimp.

It isn't long before Ben is Zan's favourite, and Ben starts to see Zan as more than just an experiment. His father disagrees. Soon Ben is forced to make a critical choice between what he is told to believe and what he knows to be true -- between obeying his father or protecting his brother from an unimaginable fate. (description from author's website)

I was really impressed with the majority of this book. I loved the relationship between Ben and Zan, Ben's friendship with the research assistant, Peter, and the troubled family dynamics that Oppel explored once Zan became part of Ben's family.

To truly appreciate some aspects of this book, you have to remember that it's set in the 1970's. Oppel drops a lot of great hints, but it's not until a small, but significant portion of the book has been read, that Ben confirms the year. It was nice to finally know for sure that this was the 70s.

Once you knew the setting, though, it makes the perfect backdrop for not only the familial issues that Ben was experiencing, but also for his troubled romantic life. The sweetness of his attempts to worship the pretty, popular girl and his complete and utter failure to finally win her. (Don't worry...not a true spoiler! There are other happenings in the cards for Ben!!)

The real star of this book, though, will always be Zan. Not only is he unique and interesting simply because he is a chimpanzee, but he is lovable and sweet because of who he was raised to be. Zan is his own, fantastic character that steals the show 100%.

City of Orphans

City of Orphans
by Avi

The streets of 1893 New York are full of life: crowded, filthy, dangerous.

If you are a newsboy like thirteen-year- old Maks Geless, you need to watch out for Bruno, leader of the Plug Ugly Gang whose shadowy, sinister boss is plotting to take control of all the newsies on the lower East Side.

With Bruno’s boys in fierce pursuit, Maks discovers Willa, a strange girl who lives alone in an alley. It is she, stick in hand, who fights off the Plug Uglies--but further dangers await. Maks must find a way to free his sister Emma from The Tombs, the city jail where she has been imprisoned for stealing a watch at the glamorous new Waldorf Hotel. Maks, believing her innocent, has only four days to prove it.

Fortunately, there is Bartleby Donck, the eccentric lawyer (among other employments) to guide Maks and Willa in the art of detection. Against a backdrop alive with the sights and sounds of tenement New York, Maks, as boy detective, must confront a teeming world of wealth and crime, while struggling against powerful forces threatening new immigrants and the fabric of family love. (description from

I thoroughly enjoyed this historical adventure.

Maks and Willa were both strong, interesting characters. Their friends and family were also fascinating and well fleshed out. There were people representing all facets of live in New York City in the 1890s.

Avi did an amazing job creating a vibrant and living historical New York City. It felt as if you could walk right into the lobby of the Waldorf. You could smell the garbage on the streets. You could feel the cold, hard floor that Willa slept on...

Though I was able to connect all the mystery dots before the end of the book, it was so intriguing to see everything actually play out that I did not mind at all. I loved watching Maks and Willa actually put everything together as they figured out pieces of the puzzle.

Full disclosure: Audio book received to review for SLJ

What’s the Buzz about 21st Century Libraries? A Virtual Panel Discussion - From Jonathan Maberry's Big, Scary Blog

Check it out! Jonathan Maberry, author of Rot and Ruin, and many other books, held a virtual panel discussion on his blog. He asked us Librarians what we thought was happening with Libraries in the 21st Century. Read it here!

For those of you in the CT area, not only was I interviewed, but two of my great friends in the YA community, Geri DiOrio from the Ridgefield Public Library, and Andrea Ingala from the Windsor Public Library, were also participants!!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Untitled Project

The trailer our Tween Time group made for Ally Carter's I'd Tell You That I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You.

Untitled Project

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Girl, Stolen

Girl, Stolen
by April Henry

Sixteen year-old Cheyenne Wilder is sleeping in the back of a car while her mom fills her prescription at the pharmacy. Before Cheyenne realizes what's happening, their car is being stolen--with her inside! Griffin hadn’t meant to kidnap Cheyenne, all he needed to do was steal a car for the others. But once Griffin's dad finds out that Cheyenne’s father is the president of a powerful corporation, everything changes—now there’s a reason to keep her. What Griffin doesn’t know is that Cheyenne is not only sick with pneumonia, she is blind. How will Cheyenne survive this nightmare, and if she does, at what price? (description from

This was a really well done book. I was impressed by how Henry really gives insight into what it's like to lose your vision and then having to relearn how to do everything without sight. Cheyenne's struggles to have a regular day to day life and completely compounded by her victimization. She is a strong character that you couldn't help but root for through and through.

This book also brought up a lot of really great questions - about morality, about what makes a person good or bad, whether or not you can be forgiven for making a serious mistake. Can Griffin overcome the horrible things he was taught by his father? If Griffin kidnapped Cheyenne, but then tries to help her, is Griffin a good guy or a bad guy? Is anyone really good or bad?

Finally, as a dog lover and someone who has two dogs that are both part bully breeds (pit bull, basically), I loved the dog component in this book. Not only do you hear a lot about Cheyenne's seeing eye dog, but she ends up rescuing a junk yard pit-bull. She proves that dogs are not inherently mean, but are taught to be by bad people... I loved it!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Traitor's Son

Traitor's Son
by Hilari Bell
The Raven Duet, book two

Publication Date: March 20, 2012

When Jason catches the small bag that a girl throws to him at the Canadian/Alaskan border during a gun fight, all he can think is that the bag must contain drugs. But if the small, brown powder is some sort of illegal substance, it's certainly nothing he's ever seen before.

Jase is half right. He's never seen this stuff before, but it's not drugs. The bag contains magical dust, a substance so powerful, it can heal the earth.

So powerful, certain creatures think nothing of killing him to get it. (description from back jacket)

I have to admit that I have not read the first book in The Raven Duet, Trickster's Girl, but now having read its counterpart, eventually I want to go back and eventually get to it. I haven't actually read anything by Hilari Bell before, but I liked her writing style.

First of all, this book was surprisingly short. In the new days of most YA books coming in easily at 300 pages, this one is only just over 200. And yet, it packed a lot of punch. The characters were interesting, the world was intriguing, and the danger was scintillating.

This book is set in Alaska in the 2080's. The world has become very technologically advanced and dependent, yet because of the native Alaskan tribes, Jase's world is a mixture of the old beliefs and magics, and the new. His family is in turmoil, precisely due to this dichotomy.

The world is also suffering. Humans have literally poisoned the planet (the environmental message is strongly present in this duet) and it's up to the mysterious Raven to get humans to help heal the earth. The spirit worlds lie alongside ours and certain people, like Jase, can actual travel them.

This book will not appeal to everyone, but if you are intrigued by the idea of spirit travels, magic, and environmental issues (almost like Fern Gully!), you might want to check this book, and its predecessor, out!

Full disclosure: ARC received to review for SLJ