Friday, September 28, 2012

Twisted Heart by Eden Maguire

Between the cheesy cover and the uninspired titles, this series really shouldn't be of any interest to me. But I absolutely LOVED Eden Maguire's Beautiful Dead series, and the first book in this new trilogy, Dark Angel, surprised me by keeping my attention through to the end. This second book in the trilogy starts off with a much more powerful bang, and keeps with the intense action and emotion that I expect from such a great author.

Tania is back and hanging out with celebrity types. Last time it was Zoran, the teen rock star. This time, it's Zeigler and Amos, the film-maker and his crowd of juvenile delinquents. I can't imagine a scenario where a group of bad kids comes into a town to be mentored by good kids and some sort of trouble doesn't start up. But even with the very predictable plot, I enjoyed this story.

Where there were a few intense scenes in the first book, this one has a LOT of nail-biting, uber-emotional, impactful bits. Including the final scene. These books would make for a pretty intense bunch of teen movies! I also appreciated that Tania's psychic episodes were dialed down a bit. They were not nearly as interesting as the other things that were happening in real time. Jarrold was a confusing character, making me swoon for his angst one minute, then feel repulsed by his attitude the next. I am curious to see if he shows up in the next book, making a case for a better boyfriend than the less-than-attentive Orlando.

The Dark Angels were after Grace in the first book, Holly in this book, so I can only guess that they will go directly towards Tania in the third. Looking forward to reading Broken Dream.

Overall Rating: 4 Stars

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday 9/26/12

LULLABY by Amanda Hocking

Harper only wanted a safe, normal life. But when her younger sister Gemma runs off with a dangerous clique of beautiful girls, Penn, Thea, and Lexi, everything changes. Vowing to get her sister back no matter what the cost, Harper must face dangers unlike any she's ever experienced. Fortunately, she has Daniel by her side, a gorgeous guy who's devoted to helping her find her sister—and who's immune to the girls' dark powers.

While Harper searches for her sister, Gemma struggles to adjust to her new life. Gemma's powers are growing by the day, and the longer she lives with her new "sisters," the harder it is to resist entering their magical world. It's a realm both dark and beautiful, and where she's plagued by strange hungers and unspeakable needs. Just as she's drifting far away from her old life, Harper and Daniel find her...but no one can deny how much she's changed. All she wants is to return to her family and the mortal world, but how can she do that when she's become something else entirely—and will they still love her once they learn the truth?

I recently read the first book in this series, Wake, and loved it. Hocking has developed a world where mer-creatures aren't what you think they are, and I enjoyed the break from the typical. This second book promises to bring more of the same surprises and great characters. 

Release Date: November 27, 2012

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Spindlers by Lauren Oliver

Caution: If you do not like spiders, you may want to pass on this book. If your stomach can handle those pesky, creepy crawlers, you will be rewarded with a tender and adventurous story.

Liza is a spunky young girl with a huge heart. In the beginning of the story, we hear a bit about how her younger brother Patrick lives to annoy her, yet when she senses something changed about him, she sets off on a grand adventure to get him back without a single hesitation. Her bravery is noble and will be a good role model for girl readers.

It took me a while to warm up to Mirabella the rat. She's not very sympathetic to Liza, but easily takes the lead role to help her along. I wanted to like her but couldn't lower my guard enough to welcome her into Liza's journey. Perhaps this was Lauren Oliver's intent all along.

There aren't many twists, but the ones there are caught me off guard and made a large impact on the story. In fact, the last third of the book is by far the very best part, with the strongest and most intense action scenes. While this is a good book for Middle Grade readers, I see it as a great novel for parents to read together with their children.

Overall Rating: 4 Stars

Friday, September 21, 2012

Inspired to Art (8)

Fever Crumb by Phillip Reeve, is inspiring in more ways than one. The action was pitch-perfect, the characters were fully fleshed out and realistic, the world-building was spectacular, and the story truly hit all the right marks. Can you tell I loved it? I was stoked that there are two more books in the series already because I seriously did not want to leave Fever and her plight. Instead, I decided to create some of the epic visions Reeve wrote about. WARNING: As hard as I tried not to reveal too much, there may be a few plot spoilers, below.

Fever wears an oyster shell identifying necklace when she travels into London. That piece would be easy. What I wanted to try were the Assassin Paper Boys. Oddly terrifying, the thought of those. Unique, too, in the creativity on Reeve's part to develop them. And then last, the paperboys brought me a singular event in the book involving a needle and Fever's blood. I made the needle first.
Using a glass tube, two bead ends, an earring base, and a bit of my own special "blood" recipe, this is what it looks like. Does it look like it would fit into the steampunk world of Fever's?

Then I whipped up a quick box to put these elements into. The paper used was DCWV Tattered Time collection, and the gold paint edging is DecoArt Metallics in Glorious Gold. Inside paint was a basic cream.

Next, I placed all items into the box, and added a few tiny bits and bobbles to give it some extra glitz.

Not my best nook art, but still felt great to pull Fever Crumb's world into ours. The finished product:
 Back to reading!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday 9/19/12

UNDEADLY by Michele Vail

Molly Bartolucci wants to blend in, date hottie Rick and keep her zombie-raising abilities on the down-low. Then the god Anubis chooses her to become a reaper-and she accidentally undoes the work of another reaper, Rath. Within days, she's shipped off to the Nekyia Academy, an elite school that trains the best necromancers in the world. And her personal reaping tutor? Rath. Who seems to hate her guts.

Rath will be watching closely to be sure she completes her first assignment-reaping Rick, the boy who should have died. The boy she still wants to be with.To make matters worse, students at the academy start turning up catatonic, and accusations fly-against Molly. The only way out of this mess? To go through hell. Literally.

I am curious about this story for the paranormal bring-the-dead-back-to-life element, but I am a little nervous about the whole gods bit. Hopefully, the plot will stay down to earth and be everything the beautiful cover promise - lots of angst.

Release Date: November 20, 2012

Monday, September 17, 2012

Flock by Wendy Delsol

I have to start by mentioning the cover of Flock. Is it not the most gorgeous cover ever? Does her hair not have the most perfect waves you've ever seen? The colors, the birds in the background... it's all just so stunning. Well done, Candlewick designers, well done.

That's not the only good thing about this book. Flock is a fabulous finish to one of the most surprising trilogies I have come across in the inflated YA paranormal market in recent years. I love that Katla is a Stork, and member of a sisterhood of various birds and deliverers of souls. It's refreshing, interesting, and thought out. The first book, Stork, was brilliant and left me feeling very satisfied at the end. Then there was the second book, Frost, which carried the same interest level, but stray far from the stork ideas presented in the first book. We met new characters and developed Katla's circle of friends in a different but still enjoyable read. Now Flock joins both worlds seamlessly.

Katla truly has a lot at stake in this final book. There is her relationship with Jack, her duties to the Storks, her frail little sister Leira, and on top of it all, the evil presence threatening to take over her small town folks. Through it all she maintains her sense of humor, one of my favorite parts in the writing. I was expecting to be annoyed with the heightened roles of Marik and Jinx, but they surprised me with their contributions to Kat's life. Even Penny and Kat's Mom turned things around with their smaller roles.

The ending is brilliant, powerful, and perfect. Wendy Delsol has landed a unique, well-written, and well thought out trilogy.

And I want her hair. Best cover ever.

Overall Rating: 4 Stars

Friday, September 14, 2012

Fear Street Flashback (32)

Why? Because FEAR STREET was like, my favorite series growing up.

Originally released in April, 1997.

Classic Fear Street goodness. The twists in this one keep coming right up until the end. I liked that the POV was from Sydney (the rich girl) and not Emma, who gets all of the action. As a storyteller, Sydney was very dry and uninteresting, but it was also perfect because then the reader was in the dark as to what was happening around her. This story is isn't scary with the paranormal, but there is plenty of tension around three kids sharing a huge secret. Jason in particular provides most of the nervous bits, and I liked that he was equally likeable and bothersome. It is fun to think of what I would do if I found a bag of discarded money! My only complaint with this book is again, the lack of parents in the girls' lives. Other than that, The Rich Girl is a quick read, and a nice addition to the Fear Street world.

Fear Rating:  out of 3 Screams

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday 9/12/12

SACRED by Elana Arnold

Growing up on Catalina Island, off the California coast, Scarlett Wenderoth has led a fairly isolated life. After her brother dies, her isolation deepens as she withdraws into herself, shutting out her friends and boyfriend. Her parents, shattered by their own sorrow, fail to notice Scarlett's pain and sudden alarming thinness. Scarlett finds pleasure only on her horse, escaping to the heart of the island on long, solitary rides. One day, as she races around a bend, Scarlett is startled by a boy who raises his hand in warning and says one word: "Stop." 

The boy—intense, beautiful—is Will Cohen, a newcomer to the island. For reasons he can't or won't explain, he's drawn to Scarlett and feels compelled to keep her safe. To keep her from wasting away. His meddling irritates Scarlett, though she can't deny her attraction to him. As their relationship blossoms into love, Scarlett's body slowly awakens at Will's touch. But just when her grief begins to ebb, she makes a startling discovery about Will, a discovery he's been grappling with himself. A discovery that threatens to force them apart. And if it does, Scarlett fears she will unravel all over again.

Doesn't that romance sound deep and intense? Part of the allure of this upcoming title is it's Catalina Island setting. I've never been there but have always wanted to go. Perhaps I will schedule a trip to coincide with reading this book!

Release Date: November 13, 2012

Monday, September 10, 2012

Over You by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus

Getting over an ex or fresh from being dumped? This book is not for you. However, if you have a friend that is either of those things, this would be a great read for instructions on how to get them back on his or her feet.

High school drop-out (!) Max Scott is Wonder Woman. Not literally, but she is quite amazing. She's started her own business of helping girls get over their exes, and it actually works. I was inspired by the way she had two employees and was super organized with her clients. She's buttoned up with her business, and best of all, totally funny. Her dialog, especially with Ben, is brilliantly witty.

Unfortunately, that's not really enough to carry the story. When Max wasn't helping a client, she is boring and whiny - everything she loathes to see in others. It was difficult to think she was so cool and watch as she helped others up, and then get down on herself and deny the obvious during other times. Luckily, her friends Phoebe and Zach are superb secondary characters that pulled the story along when Max couldn't do it herself.

Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus are new to writing YA books, this being their debut for the younger crowd. I've read all of their other books and have thoroughly enjoyed them. After reading Over You, I think they should stick to the more adult fare. Girls who get dumped may not be ready for the advice in this book, but women will revel in the ideas and suggestions for retribution.

Overall Rating: 3 Stars

Friday, September 7, 2012

Origin by Jessica Khoury

In one word, Origin is awesome.

It is much more than simply that, however. There are so many pieces to this book. A love interest, coming-of-age, questions of moral science, a paranormal element, betrayal, and secrets. It may sound overwhelming, but it made for a fantastic read that was very difficult to put down.

My heart ached for Pia and her situation inside Little Cam. She has all that she could ever want and yet is extremely sheltered. It was fascinating to be trapped inside Pia's contained life and see how she is raised and taught to be the perfect being and a great scientist. There are few science-minded female leads in books these days. I felt like all I wanted her to do was escape, and got frustrated when she showed weakness on this issue. For as smart as Pia was, it was annoying that she should fall so immediately in love with Eio, the first boy her age she has ever met.

But Eio was also a well-written character. He is strong-willed like Pia, a perfect match. He has grown up in an entirely different world than Pia, and I wanted to explore more of the Ai'oan culture. Perhaps his story would make an interesting spin-off book. All of the "Uncles" inside Little Cam were hiding intriguing back stories as well. Rather than a sequel, I want to go back in time before Pia to learn how it all came about!

One more thing I wanted to note was that I approve of the decision not to show an actual face for Pia on the cover. This allowed me to imagine her how I wanted - futuristic or plain Jane. When the cover for this book was first released, it didn't grab my attention at all. But now having read the story, the cover could not be more perfect. Well done, cover artists!

Overall Rating: 5 Stars

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday 9/5/12


Wren MacAvoy works as a coal miner for a domed city that was constructed in the mid-nineteenth century to protect the royal blood line of England when astronomers spotted a comet on a collision course with Earth. Humanity would be saved by the most groundbreaking technology of the time. But after nearly 200 years of life beneath the dome, society has become complacent and the coal is running out.  Plus there are those who wonder, is there life outside the dome or is the world still consumed by fire? When one of Wren's friends escapes the confines of the dome, he is burned alive and put on display as a warning to those seeking to disrupt the dome’s way of life. But Alex’s final words are haunting. “The sky is blue.” 

What happens next is a whirlwind of adventure, romance, conspiracy and the struggle to stay alive in a world where nothing is as it seems. Wren unwittingly becomes a catalyst for a revolution that destroys the dome and the only way to survive might be to embrace what the entire society has feared their entire existence.

Besides the beautiful cover art, I am interested in this book from that stunning premise.  I am looking forward to exploring the future post-apocalyptic world and getting to know Wren. It sounds very "City of Ember", but I am hoping for something original.

Release Date: November 13, 2012

Monday, September 3, 2012

Pizza, Love, and Other Stuff That Made Me Famous by Kathryn Williams

This book has a super cute premise, but fell very short of my expectations. The only really interesting parts were scenes from the show when it was actually filming. The judgment scenes we are so familiar with reality TV contest shows, that I found myself craving them. For everything else in the book, I had to stifle a yawn.

There are a lot of pieces to this story. There's Sophie's strained relationship with her father, her growing attraction to her best friend Alex, her desire to cook and be a chef, and then there's being the television show itself. Many different aspects of Sophie's life to balance, and in the end, no one piece got enough attention.She came across as a very flat character. When Luc entered the picture in Napa, I was hoping something would really spark in her personality, but it didn't. Which just made me wonder what happened to Alex? He's another character that really showed very little emotion, and when he did, it felt much too contrived.

Luckily, there is the reality TV show. A fantasy for teens everywhere. Most of the TV scenes felt very rushed, but readers will recognize the format and be pleased with the way the voting and contestants play out on the show. The only other bit that felt thin was the actual cooking. Many teens looking to this book for recipes or long paragraphs on cooking will be disappointed.

Overall I felt underwhelmed, but the few exciting scenes make this story one worth reading.

Overall Rating: 3 Stars