Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday 3/30/11


She thought there was something wrong with her. She was right.
Finley Jayne has known for quite some time that she isn’t ‘normal,’ but when she beats up the son of her employer and is forced to flee, she stumbles into a world where there are bigger freaks than her. They take her in, treat her like family and demand her trust. How can Finley trust them when she can’t trust herself? And why is she drawn to the powerful Griffin as well as the dangerous Jack? She has to get herself under control before she gets into trouble she can’t get out of.

Griffin King is one of the most powerful men in Britain but he couldn’t save his best friend from almost dying. He is determined to save Finley and help her become the person he knows she can be, but there’s evil afoot in London. Machines have attacked humans under the orders of a nefarious criminal called The Machinist. He has sworn to protect his country against such a threat, but he’s never faced any foe like this. However, when he discovers The Machinist’s connection to his past, Griffin vows to end the villain once and for all — but he’ll need the help of all his friends, including the beautiful Finley Jayne – the girl in the steel corset.

*drool* Need I say more? Steampunk, YA, beautiful cover. YUM! And a well thought-out synopsis to make me want it even more. Will have to set aside some time to devour this book in one sitting!

Release Date: May 24, 2011

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens

Kate, Michael and Emma are orphaned, after a mysterious night when their parents send them away and disappear. Kate is the only one with any sort of memory of their life with their mother and father. As the children grow, they are bounced around through various orphanages, until landing at the strange house of Dr. Stanislaus Pym. While exploring one night, the three stumble upon an old book hidden deep within the basement. They quickly learn this book is very powerful. As the children set off on an adventure to discover more of the book, they will meet evil witches, angry dwarves, and the most terrifying creatures - Screechers!

The Emerald Atlas was exactly what I expected it to be: a fun adventure, if not a little tedious at times. John Stephens' vision of the magical book is well-executed, though I personally wanted to do more traveling through it. Kate is by far the most interesting character, as she seems to be the one holding all of the powers. But Emma is also oh-so-adorable, and extremely courageous. Some characters are silly and overdone, but this is a good thing, especially in the mean old Miss Sallow. A few scenes are chuckle-out-loud funny, thanks in part to Stephens' exceptional dialog between the children. As an exciting tale with twists and danger at every turn, I think this new series will appeal more to fans of Fablehaven over those of Harry Potter.

Overall Rating: 3 Stars

Friday, March 25, 2011

Bound by Book-to-Movie-Law: Beastly

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.

One word: costumes. The costumes made this movie truly come to life. Such beautiful, dreamy, awe-inspiring dresses! And interior decorating, too! I am a fan of Alex Finn, and loved Beastly. It was a neat updating of Beauty and the Beast, and captured my imagination. But to see it on the big screen... well it far exceeded my expectations. Mary-Kate Olson was over-the-top cheesy but beautiful in her witchy role. The make-up gory scars on Kyle was horrifying. The movie was cute. Sweet. Perfect for a rainy, gray day. I would definitely recommend reading the book first - especially because of the ending - and then enjoy the movie!

Bottom Line:
The movie was fun! The visuals made the whole thing and therefore I think the movie wins this one.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday 3/23/11

DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth

In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

I've been feeling like I can't get enough YA dystopian fiction these days, so Divergent simply can't come soon enough! The reviews I've read so far are just mediocre, but I am holing out high hopes for this one.

Release Date: May 3, 2011

Monday, March 21, 2011

In the Arms of Stone Angels by Jordan Dane

Brenna Nash is in trouble. Her mother has just moved them back to Shawano, Oklahoma, the site where two years ago she was all but accused (but not convicted) of a terrible deed. It's hard enough for Brenna to live with what she saw her then-boyfriend White Bird do, but the residents of Shawano certainly aren't going to cut her any slack. However, with strength she wasn't sure she possessed, Brenna go to visit White Bird, re-living that horrible night and the days leading up to it. But if bringing so much pain to the surface reveals the truth, it may be worth it after all.

This is a rather dark book. Really. Brenna is very moody and her angst spills off every page. It pained me to watch Brenna go through such torture from the other kids without being able to stand up for herself. But it was nice to read scenes from her mother's POV as well, because the reader saw how Brenna's mom really was trying to help. There is a light paranormal element throughout the story, but for the most part it is all reality. Jordan Dane has thought closely about her characters and their actions, and it shows through in the dialog especially. I must admit that the first half of the book was pretty intense, even for me. Readers who stick it out past the brutal scenes will be rewarded with a much more mellow second half, as well as answers to all of their questions. A surprising read and a worthy journey.

Overall Rating: 3 Stars

Friday, March 18, 2011

Fear Street Flashback (15)

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

Originally released in August, September, and October 1993.

THE BETRAYAL. A great place to start the series, in my opinion. I remember the first time I read these, how thrilled I was to finally be learning the secret to why Fear Street was filled with such evil. This first book was good. I was instantly drawn in with the old timey atmosphere and the constant threat of the witch hunt. I kept looking back at the cover to study her mysterious claw pendant. The latin phrase inscripted on it is an awesome addition to the evil. Stine found a nice way to twist actual history into his Fear Street series.

THE SECRET. An intriguing middle. Honestly not much in the way of adding to the overall story, but this book was scarier than the first. I would not recommend reading these out of order, as there was literally no exposition in this second book to retell what happened in the first. Which followers of this blog know is okay with me. There are nice twists and hidden names and more of the good old family feud. And then a huge reveal at the end! YAY! Onto the final chapter and the infamous Simon Fear! Was hoping the choker from the girl on the cover would play a part, though. Especially since the claw pendant is such an integral part of the whole story.

THE BURNING. And a fantastic finish. The best part of the trilogy by far. Simon and Angelica make a fantastic couple. By the time readers get to this third book, the completely hopelessness of the family feud between the Fiers and the Goodes really starts to cement itself in the reality of Fear Street. There really is no escaping it! Again, I liked the role the amulet from the first book played throughout the trilogy. It was a great way to tie everything together and give readers a visual for the evil. Read this trilogy and learn where it all started! I guarantee it will make future books in the Fear Street series all that much better!

Fear Rating: 2 out of 3 Screams

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday 3/16/11

HOURGLASS by Myra McEntire

For seventeen-year-old Emerson Cole, life is about seeing what isn’t there: swooning Southern Belles; soldiers long forgotten; a haunting jazz trio that vanishes in an instant. Plagued by phantoms since her parents’ death, she just wants the apparitions to stop so she can be normal. She’s tried everything, but the visions keep coming back. So when her well-meaning brother brings in a consultant from a secretive organization called the Hourglass, Emerson’s willing to try one last cure. But meeting Michael Weaver may not only change her future, it may change her past.

Who is this dark, mysterious, sympathetic guy, barely older than Emerson herself, who seems to believe every crazy word she says? Why does an electric charge seem to run through the room whenever he’s around? And why is he so insistent that he needs her help to prevent a death that never should have happened?

It seems everyday there is more and more buzz about this one popping up around the web. I am not as taken by the cover as some out there, but the plot has certainly captured my attention. Hopefully it won't fall into the same secret-society type traps that The Eternal Ones suffered from. I will be checking this one out!

Release Date: May 24, 2011

Monday, March 14, 2011

Rage by Jackie Morse Kessler

Missy Miller is one of those girls you see walk down the hallways at school dressed in all black with goth makeup and a scowl on her face. Beneath all that, however, lies a sensitive girl with real feelings. There are the emotions surrounding her ex-boyfriend Adam, and the struggle to keep from cutting herself with a razor just to watch herself bleed. Oh yeah, there's also the small fact that Death came to visit and wants Missy to be the next War Horseman of the Apocalypse. In one whirlwind weekend, Missy is going to have to shed her carefully constructed image and do some deep soul-searching in order to survive.

I liked this one more than Hunger. Perhaps it was because Missy's voice was so raw and honest. Perhaps it was due to the fact that her struggle was with rage and anger instead of food and body image issues. Whatever it was, Rage was an excellent, short read. These books are about such heavy topics, and are executed very well. Kessler took care to make Missy's voice sound different from her character of Famine, and I appreciated how solid she kept the other characters of Death and Pestilence from book to book. My only complaint would be that I didn't think the kids who tormented Missy so terribly should have gotten off as easy as they did. Seriously, those guys were CRUEL! This book is short, and an easy read. I would recommend it to teens out there with anger issues, but also to readers who are looking for something a little off the beaten path. Will there be another book in the series? I am still waiting to read from sexy man Death's point of view!

Overall Rating: 4 Stars

Friday, March 11, 2011

Wither by Lauren DeStefano

In Rhine's world, men are dying off at age twenty-five and women at age twenty. This has thrown her society into chaos, and now girls are forced into polygamous marriages as teenagers. Rhine is sixteen when she is abducted and sold to be a bride to a wealthy man named Linden Ashby. Together with Linden's two other wives, Jenna and Cecily, the girls explore their huge new home with different eyes. Jenna and Rhine see only a prison. Young Cecily sees the elegant splendor of high-society, and loves being waited on twenty-four hours a day. But when Rhine begins to speak with Gabriel, a lowly servant boy, she realizes there is something much more sinister going on in the mansion. Between Gabriel and her forced husband, Rhine will fight feelings of wanting to stay and needing to escape.

Wow, what an incredible book! A very powerful beginning and world set-up. Though it feels cliche to say it, this book totally grabbed my attention from the very first chapter, with the feeling of dread spilling out from the pages. I wanted to slow down and savor every single word at the same time I wanted to rush through and get to the next chapter as fast as possible to know what happens next. My favorite part was definitely the stunning descriptions of color that created such a vivid picture of what Rhine's world looked like. Color is an important factor in the plot, and Lauren DeStefano does an expert job filling it in. Especially the gorgeous dresses that were made for Rhine and the beautiful holograms everywhere. *sigh* Rhine was a great female character, handling the unknown information and terrible situations with real, down-to-earth emotion and actions. And the romance between Rhine and Gabriel was so tender and urgent that I whimpered for more. Wither left me panting for the next book in the planned trilogy, which can't get here soon enough!

Overall Rating: 5 Stars

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday 3/9/11

MECHANIQUE by Genevieve Valentine

Outside any city still standing, the Mechanical Circus Tresaulti sets up its tents. Crowds pack the benches to gawk at the brass-and-copper troupe and their impossible feats: Ayar the Strong Man, the acrobatic Grimaldi Brothers, fearless Elena and her aerialists who perform on living trapezes. War is everywhere, but while the Circus is performing, the world is magic.

That magic is no accident: Boss builds her circus from the bones out, molding a mechanical company that will survive the unforgiving landscape.

But even a careful ringmaster can make mistakes.

Two of Tresaulti’s performers are trapped in a secret standoff that threatens to tear the Circus apart, just as the war lands on their doorstep. Now they must fight a war on two fronts: one from the outside, and a more dangerous one from within…

Combining my great love of the circus with the super hot steampunk fad? SIGN ME UP! I am hoping this is a good book, but only reading it will tell for sure!

Release Date: April 19, 2011

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Raising by Laura Kasischke

To anyone outside of her small community, Nicole Werner's death might just seem another tragic accident. But on the night of that fateful car crash, the lives of those involved were forever changed. Craig, the boy driving the car that night, continues to see Nicole around campus. Shelley, the only other witness to the accident, is haunted by the lack of truth in the newspaper reports following. Perry is Craig's roommate and Nicole's long-time friend, who has been holding in some troublesome secrets of his own. And Professor Mira Polson is the person who will ultimately bring these people together again to confront both the lies and the truth.

Hmm. I wasn't sure what to think of this book. Was it a ghost story? Was it a murder mystery? Either way, it was certainly a powerful story. The writing was beautiful and lyrical. There is almost a strong intellectual feel to the structure, as if it is a professional academic text of some sort. The story does not move fast by any means, but the incredibly short chapters pulled me along relentlessly, making the whole book feel as though it went faster. The scenes alternate between characters and chronology at every turn, which could also account for the story feeling faster than the action actually was. And I will admit, there were a few downright spooky parts, which were scary in a subtle, very creepy way that totally snuck up on me. The characters of Perry and Mira were enjoyable to read, though there wasn't anything new or terribly exciting about either of them. The interesting one in my mind was the elusive and very angry Josie, who was Nicole's roommate and sorority sister. I wanted to see more from her point of view! She seemed to have so much more to her than what we saw. Overall, a good book for a dark and rainy winter's day.

Overall Rating: 3 Stars

Friday, March 4, 2011

Mermaid by Carolyn Turgeon

Margrethe is currently living in a convent with nuns, but in truth she is a princess in hiding. Her father is the king of the Northern lands, and there is talk of war brewing with the Southern lands. Lenia is the youngest daughter to the merfolk that live in the sea near the convent. She loves her home in the water, but finds herself constantly longing for more than she has. On her eighteenth birthday, she is permitted to travel to the surface for a quick viewing. While up there, however, she witnesses a terrible storm and a large ship on the brink of sinking forever. In a moment of weakness, she rescues a man from drowning, carrying him instead to land and dropping him at the feet of Margrethe. It is from this act of heroics that these two women from very different worlds find themselves bound together forever.

Mermaid was just about the most perfect re-telling of a classic story I have ever read. It's told in a rather unique adult fairy-tale style of voice, one that you can almost imagine someone else reading aloud to you. I was surprised by how the story was really quite spiritual. There is a lot of talk of souls and the eternal life, but this did not necessarily add or distract from the main plot. Turgeon's writing was so spot on, so gentle, so funny and tragic and hopeful, for these two women finding out the world is not what they were always told it would be. I first fell in love with Carolyn Turgeon's writing in Rain Village, but have not yet read her sophomore book Godmother: The Secret Cinderella Story. After reading Mermaid, however, I definitely want to dig into a retelling of Cinderella. If you love mermaid stories, then you will absolutely love this book!

Overall Rating: 5 Stars

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday 3/2/11


Can an accountant defeat a supervillain? Celia West, only daughter of the heroic leaders of the superpowered Olympiad, has spent the past few years estranged from her parents and their high-powered lifestyle. She’s had enough of masks and heroics, and wants only to live her own quiet life out from under the shadow of West Plaza and her rich and famous parents.

Then she is called into her boss’ office and told that as the city’s top forensic accountant, Celia is the best chance the prosecution has to catch notorious supervillain the Destructor for tax fraud. In the course of the trial, Celia’s troubled past comes to light and family secrets are revealed as the rift between Celia and her parents grows deeper. Cut off from friends and family, Celia must come to terms with the fact that she might just be Commerce City’s only hope.

Since I'm still on my Carrie Vaughn kick, I thought I would feature her next book on this week's Waiting on Wednesday. Superheroes? YES, PLEASE. A strong female character? YES, PLEASE. Love the cover too. Can't wait to get my paws on it!

Release Date: April 12, 2011

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Steel by Carrie Vaughn

While other high school girls are cheerleaders or play volleyball, Jill Archer is sword fighting. Or fencing as it's called, and she's quite good at it. At least she thinks she is. Then Jill finds an old, rusty piece of sword sticking out of the sand during a family vacation and suddenly she is transported to a real life pirate ship! With no time to dwell on where she is and who these strangers are, Jill quickly adapts to life on the high-seas. But when a vindictive pirate begins to seek revenge on the crew she's with, will Jill finally get a chance to prove herself once and for all?

This is my first Carrie Vaughn reading experience, and I was so pleased that I moved Voices of Dragons up the TBR pile, and put the forthcoming After the Golden Age on my purchase list! Steel was fun and kept me on the edge of my seat with adventure. At first I thought Jill was entirely too quick to accept her fate aboard the ship, but she was still a uniquely strong female character. She never complained about having to work as hard as the others or whined about not having her modern day comforts with her. I liked Captain Cooper too, as far as nurturing-type female pirates go. The battle scenes were vivid and not over-done. Carrie Vaughn was not afraid to get bloody, but kept it to a realistic amount, which I also appreciated. She manages to choose just the right amount of words for her descriptions, providing exactly what I want to read and not over doing it. Girls will love this book because of Jill's heroics. Guys will love this book for the awesome bilge-rat pirate action. I highly recommend you give it a try!

Overall Rating: 4 Stars