Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Gardener by S.A. Bodeen

Mason is like many other teenagers - he lives with his Mom in a small town. Only his town is owned by a large corporation called TroDyn, which produces genetically altered plants in the name of sustainability. The only thing he knows about his father comes from a DVD of his Dad reading him a children's book. Other than that, he has never met the man before. Then one day he discovers his Mom is hiding her past from him and goes to confront her at Haven of Peace, her place of work. From there, Mason meets the most beautiful (and curious) girl he has ever seen, and the adventure of his lifetime takes off. In the following twenty-four hours, Mason will learn about himself, his family, the new girl he loves, and will find himself confronting some very complicated situations.

Like many other readers, I have been into the whole dystopian-lit trend as of late, so this was an anticipated read. The Gardener has a creepy and cool premise that will get readers to think about the food supply around them. There were times in the story that I thought were a little too contrived, such as Mason learning about autotroph snails in Biology class the day before rescuing a genetically similar girl, or the fact that there just so happened to be a free ATV for Mason and Jack to use right when they needed an escape. Additionally, in that sense the plot was enormously predictable. All that aside however, and this was a fast-paced, easy-to-understand science fiction read. I especially liked the scene in Portland's very own Powell's Bookstore. Yay for Powell's! The Gardener would also be a great pick for the reluctant male reader. S.A. Bodeen is definitely an author to watch.

Overall Rating: 4 Stars

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday 4/28/10

SHADOW HILLS by Anastasia Hopcus

After her sister Athena's tragic death, it's obvious that grief-stricken Persephone "Phe" Archer no longer belongs in Los Angeles. Hoping to make sense of her sister's sudden demise and the cryptic dreams following it, Phe abandons her bubbly LA life to attend an uptight East Coast preparatory school in Shadow Hills, MA -- a school which her sister mysteriously mentioned in her last diary entry before she died. Once there, Phe quickly realizes that something is deeply amiss in her new town. Not only does Shadow Hills' history boast an unexplained epidemic that decimated hundreds of its citizens in the 1700s, but its modern townies also seem eerily psychic, with the bizarre ability to bend metal. Even Zach -- the gorgeous stranger Phe meets and immediately begins to lust after -- seems as if he is hiding something serious. Phe is determined to get to the bottom of it. The longer she stays there, the more she suspects that her sister's untimely death and her own destiny are intricately linked to those who reside in Shadow Hills.

Have had this one on my radar for a while now, and am getting quite anxious to get my hands on it. Not sure how well it will actually play out, but excited to crack it open nonetheless.

Release Date: July 13, 2010

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Stormchasers by Jenna Blum

Karena Jorge is one-half of twins. Her brother, Charles, has been missing for some time, with no contact. Then, on the day of their thirty-eighth birthday, Karena gets a phone call from a mental ward in Wichita, Kansas, saying her brother had been there and they needed her help bringing him back in. Charles, who is Bi-Polar, has always loved chasing tornadoes. Karena knows she will have to chase a few storms herself if she wants any hope in finding her lost brother. With the help of a handsome tour guide named Kevin, hope is on the horizon. But is Karena really ready to face her past with Charles?

This book was quite the whirlwind ride. There were tons of fascinating facts and information about tornadoes and storm chasing. Sign me up for a chasing tour! I am also a sucker for twin stories, so bonus points for Jenna Blum there. Except that the more I read, the less I found myself wanting to actually find Charles. There was nothing in his character that appealed to me, ultimately, and would have been just as satisfied to leave him be. I thought it was a very sweet and tender romance between Karena and Kevin. Even though the dialogue was often cheesy and too-perfect, it totally pulled at my heart strings and made me say "awwwww" out loud. I was rooting for them from the very beginning. Readers who like Lori Lansens, Jeannette Walls, and Ann Packer will like this book too.

Overall Rating: 5 Stars

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Fear Street Flashback (2)

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

Originally released in May, 1992

Special Mother's Day edition! Killer is motivated by hatred of mother! In other news, this book is particularly creepy, because the main character (and therefor the main VICTIM) is named Chelsea. Ack! But since it's Fear Street, my don't-read-books-about-Chelsea's rule does not apply. I like this story, in all honesty. I think it's scary (Chelsea spends a lot of time alone in her house and her place of work at night) and sweet (the other man Sparks, friend Nina, and even a Shadyside Cop are uber concerned about Chelsea). Will is a terrifying idea of a blind date. No thank you! My last note is about the cover art, which was always a little too plain for my tastes. The poor girl looks like she is ready to keel over from his onion breath...

Fear Rating: 3 out of 3 Screams

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Wildflower Bride by Mary Connealy

Glowing Sun, or Abby, has lived with the Salish tribe longer than she ever lived with her white father's family. When her tribe is attacked and slaughtered, she is rescued by the one man she didn't think she would see ever again. Despite the tragic events which brought them together again, Wade Sawyer is thrilled to have Abby in his sights once more. But he has to reconcile with his dying father first. And throughout it all, he and Abby will have to learn to see each other for who they really are, as well as deal with their growing attraction for each other.

Wildflower Bride opened with a brutal scene that sucked the air right out of my lungs. There is a lot of clash between the historical white and Native American cultures in this book, and it shows that Mary Connealy spent a lot of time researching before writing. The feelings Abby has towards the people she meets are strong and often lead to very dramatic scenes. I have also mentioned before how well Connealy writes her villains. She rounds out their characters so their intentions and motivations are deep, however flawed and tragic they may be. Her descriptions are light but thorough, so that I can almost smells the fields of flowers and feel the dirt settle into my clothes. I never fail to get fully lost in her books, the real world around me disappearing as long as my nose is stuck between the pages.

One last thing to mention about the Montana Marriages series (books one and two reviewed) is that I feel Mary Connealy truly understands how to create characters, families, and settings that the reader can really immerse themselves into. This three-book series manages to feel like it could go on forever, that the reader has known the characters for a lot longer. Often in trilogies like these, each book is about another couple, and while it is nice to have different stories, I do enjoy the fact that Connealy kept all of her lead couples involved till the end. Seeing Cassie and Red Dawson interact with Silas and Belle as established couples was such a joy!

As much as I have really enjoyed this trilogy, I am SO looking forward to Doctor in Petticoats, up next from Mary Connealy!

Overall Rating: 4 Stars

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday 4/21/10


Bartholomew Fortuno, the World's Thinnest Man, believes that his unusual body is a gift. Hired by none other than P. T. Barnum to work at his spectacular American Museum—a modern marvel of macabre displays, breathtaking theatrical performances, and live shows by Barnum's cast of freaks and oddities—Fortuno has reached the pinnacle of his career. But after a decade of constant work, he finds his sense of self, and his contentment within the walls of the museum, flagging. When a carriage pulls up outside the museum in the dead of night, bearing Barnum and a mysterious veiled woman—rumored to be a new performer—Fortuno's curiosity is piqued. And when Barnum asks Fortuno to follow her and report back on her whereabouts, his world is turned upside down. Why is Barnum so obsessed with this woman? Who is she, really? And why has she taken such a hold on the hearts of those around her?

I am anxious to read this one simple for the circus freak aspect. I'm a sucker for a good circus story, and this one sounds on par with Like Water For Elephants.

Release Date: June 22, 2010

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Rise of Renegade X by Chelsea M. Campbell

Golden City has a rather high concentration of people with super powers. On their sixteenth birthday, super teens get marked with an H (hero) or a V (villain) on their thumbs. Villain Damien Locke can't wait for his V to appear, but what he gets instead is an X. As in half hero, half villain. It doesn't take him long to figure out who his real father is, and he's not too thrilled about it. But his father negotiates six weeks with him, to convince Damien of his potential for being a hero instead of a villain. Days (and many hero/villain lifestyle clashes) later, a situation arises that will ultimately test which side Damien prefers to be on.

This is a super awesome book. I am a long time fan of hero comics, so this book was high on my reading list. And it felt a bit like the X-Men with an element of Dawson's Creek, so bonus for me. I loved the two women interests of Kat and Kink (was SO cool!) and would read a spin-off with either of them as the star. Damien's dialog is at times very funny, and the whole book has a writing style that could easily be adapted for film or comic book. Seeing Damien and his step-family clash was realistic - all kids with divorced parents will be able to identify. Add super human elements and it turns into fun. Campbell has written a totally cute, edge-of-your-seat action book. Can't wait to see what she does next!

Overall Rating: 5 Stars

Books to Pine For, April 2010

Real Mermaids Don't Wear Toe Rings by Helene Boudreau
Mermaid by Carolyn Turgeon

Forbidden Sea by Sheila A. Nelson
Siren by Tricia Rayburn

The Stars Below by Marjorie M. Liu
The Summer of Moonlight Secrets by Danette Haworth

Friday, April 16, 2010

My Soul To Keep by Rachel Vincent

This series continues to capture my interest and attention since My Soul To Take was reviewed here.

Kaylee Cavanaugh is at a typical high school party, avoiding drinking and dancing with her studly boyfriend Nash, when a car accident outside reveals Demon's Breath in the driver's body. She soon discovers that a few boys in her school are using the dangerous Netherworld substance to get themselves super high. Then someone very close to her gets a little too involved and needs her help. Some tough decisions are presented, and the book speeds off to a very climactic ending!

The Soul Screamers books are always quick reads, but ones I can't put down until I finish. I totally love the character of grim reaper Tod, because he is funny and a genuinely good guy. I would like to see a book from his point of view some day! I like Nash too, but there were a lot of moments in this story where I found myself wanting nothing more than for Kaylee to dump him and move on. The Netherworld descriptions make it seem like both a breathtakingly beautiful and terrifying place to see. Vincent writes well-choreographed fight scenes that get my heart pumping. And I like that the high school featured so prominently in this story. I would like to see more of the town landmarks in the future.

This series continues to reel me in with cleverness and plenty of twists and turns. Can't wait for number four!

Overall Rating: 4 Stars

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Fear Street Flashback (1)

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

Originally released in October, 1989.

The Overnight. Good ol' camping-on-an-island horror. Classic. I love the character dynamic in this book. Fear High's Suki with her platinum spiky hair, Ricky Shorr with his chronically bad jokes. Out on an island without adult supervision is a pretty awesome high school fantasy. Fun times, anyone?

What's a little different about this story versus other Fear Street's is the actual killer. Won't give it away for those of you out there who might want to read this book, but suffice it to say it doesn't fit into the typical format.

Fear Rating: 2 out of 3 Screams

Waiting on Wednesday 4/14/10

FORGIVE MY FINS by Tera Lynn Childs

Lily Sanderson has a secret, and it’s not that she has a huge crush on gorgeous swimming god Brody Bennett, who makes her heart beat flipper-fast. Unrequited love is hard enough when you’re a normal teenage girl, but when you’re half human, half mermaid like Lily, there’s no such thing as a simple crush.

Lily’s mermaid identity is a secret that can’t get out, since she’s not just any mermaid – she’s a Thalassinian princess. When Lily found out three years ago that her mother was actually a human, she finally realized why she didn’t feel quite at home in Thalassinia, and she’s been living on land and going to Seaview high school ever since, hoping to find where she truly belongs. Sure, land has its problems – like her obnoxious, biker boy neighbor Quince Fletcher – but it has that one major perk – Brody. The problem is, mermaids aren’t really the casual dating type – when they “bond,” it’s for life.

When Lily’s attempt to win Brody’s love leads to a tsunami-sized case of mistaken identity, she is in for a tidal wave of relationship drama, and she finds out, quick as a tailfin flick, that happily-ever-after never sails quite as smoothly as you planned.

Oh my. MUST HAVE. As I am a total sucker for the mermaid literature, this book is definitely going to be top priority for me.

Release Date: June 1, 2010

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Boneshaker by Kate Milford

Besides having the constant hurdle of the title (didn't I just read this?!?) I was super stoked to get this book and read it. And to let you know straight up front - it was NOTHING like the other Boneshaker.

Natalie's father built her the world's fastest bicycle. Trouble is, she can't ride it. Old Man Tom Guyot tells her all she needs a little more confidence. Then the mysterious Nostrum Fair and Technological Medicine Show stops at the crossroads outside of town, and all of the residents of Arcane, Missouri is altered. Natalie feels a great shift in her world, but doesn't know what to do about it. Her mother is sick, her family is falling apart, and she doesn't trust the newcomers one bit. In a matter of mere days, Natalie will not only have to learn to ride her fancy bike, but will also have to figure out how to save her family, friends, and life as she knows it from impending doom.

The Boneshaker moved along at perfect story-telling pace. I loved the folk tales that popped up within the plot, as part of Arcane's history. Every small town has those stories that get passed down from generation to generation, and I got pleasure out of reading about Tom Guyot. Milford does an incredible job of describing every detail- of painting a beautiful picture of what Natalie is seeing, without bogging down the reader. An equally creepy and inspiring story. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

Overall Rating: 5 Stars

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Oracle of Dating by Allison van Diepen

Kayla is an oracle. An Oracle of Dating, to be specific. She doles out relationship advice to anyone who contacts her from her website (after paying a small fee!) and makes a pretty nice business out of it. But she must keep her Oracle identity a secret from her friends. If they knew Kayla was the Oracle, they would laugh, because Kayla's never been in a strong, long relationship. When suddenly some advice she gives out goes wrong, Kayla begins to doubt herself. To top it off, her on again/off again friendship (or more?) with classmate Jared is getting more confusing by the day. Kayla will need to learn to trust her own Oracle advice if she hopes to make it through these weird times.

The Oracle of Dating is a short read, stuffed chock-full of relationship advice for the reader. I thought it was cool that she had her own website and blog, as so many teenagers do these days. Computer savvy girls are not all that prominent in fiction, so having Kayla be web smart is refreshing! The first-person speaking style of writing sometimes came across as very cutsie, making Kayla sound younger than the high school crowd, but there are some genuine laugh-out-loud moments. Additionally, the specifically diverse crowd of friends (including the gay male!) seemed a little forced. All in all, this book will appeal to all girls who have ever had a mega-crush.

Overall Rating: 3 Stars

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday 4/7/10

NOMANSLAND by Lesley Hauge

Sometime in the future, after devastating wars and fires, a lonely, windswept island in the north is populated solely by women. Among these women is a group of teenaged Trackers—expert equestrians and archers—whose job is to protect their shores from the enemy. The enemy, they’ve been told, is men.

When these girls come upon a partially buried home from the distant past, they are fascinated by the strange objects—high-heeled shoes, teen magazines, make-up—found there. What are they to make of these mysterious things, which introduce a world they have never known? And what does it mean for their strict society where friendship is forbidden and rules must be obeyed—at all costs?

A beautiful cover, an interesting plot idea. That's enough to get me hooked! Doesn't sound like all of the other post-apocalyptic stuff out there right now, so this one will definitely be worth reading.

Release date: June 22, 2010

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Dark Life by Kat Falls

Ty was born and raised completely underwater. The world suffered the Rising, where water levels rose and forced humans to live squished into massive high-rises above ground or settle in experimental living spaces on the ocean floor. During Ty's routine exploring of the ocean floor, he runs into Gemma, a girl from Topside, who is underwater searching for her missing brother. A bond between Ty and Gemma is formed instantly, despite their two very different upbringings. Then life as Ty knows it is threatened by a gang of deadly Outlaws, and he and Gemma must face both of their fears head on if they want to survive.

Oh man was this novel fun! The book began with a nail-biting opening sequence and hardly slowed the whole way through. I thought there was some very cool science fiction in the story, especially aimed at young adults. There is something called Liquigen, that when sucked into the lungs, provides enough oxygen so the settlers can stay underwater longer. There is also a cool futuristic language, complete with situational appropriate words like "glacial" meaning cool, and "don't ink me" meaning don't fool me. Although the main character is male, I would probably recommend this book to girls and boys equally. An easy reading level, ocean fantasy, and lots of action makes it a great read all around!

Overall Rating: 5 Stars

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Bound by Book-to-Movie Law: Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Book-to-Movie Law states that once you have read the book, you are bound by the media to go see the movie based on said book, and therefor compare to two.

I have been a looking forward to this movie. Go ahead and laugh. I've read all of the books, and the trailer made me laugh. It's really not the greatest story out there, especially if you're looking for a positive influence on young boys. But the film came out this weekend, and I saw it today.

It was... good. I had fun. Laughed a little, was grossed out plenty. A very good, very close adaptation of the first book. I thought the casting was spot on, especially for Greg's brother, Roderick. And no review of the movie can go without mentioning the cheese touch. There is a small part of me that wishes I were still in middle school, just to see if this cheese touch phenomenon spreads through classrooms everywhere.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Top 5 YA Literary Crushes

This post is with special thanks to Steph Bowe.

Confession time! My top 5 YA literary crushes (in no particular order) are:

1: Jude from the Immortal Series. We met him in the third book, Shadowland, and I couldn't get enough. His smooth moves, stunning green eyes, mysterious and somewhat shady past... so yummy. I want to tell Ever to stay away and leave Jude for me!

2: Seth from the Wicked Lovely series. The perfect man for the girl who wants to get away from life. He lives on his own, he'll believe all your stories, and best of all, he'll protect you.

3: Sam from Shiver and Linger. I thought Sam was a particularly sweet guy, for having such an odd paranormal quirk to him. Those yellow wolf eyes sound so dreamy. And there was something about the poetic prose of Stiefvater that made their whole unique story all that more romantic.

4: Fang from the Maximum Ride series. Oh, Fang. The strong and silent type. The protective type. Oh yeah, and he can FLY. *drool* I was always attracted to his brooding, quiet self during the series. Haven't yet read Fang, but omigosh I cannot wait to dig in!

5: Dustfinger from the Inkheart trilogy. Okay, so he may be a little old, but I couldn't help liking him! Especially in book 2, Inkspell. He's a loner, a bit angsty, and that whole "fire eater" thing is such an added bonus. HOT!!!

Who are yours?