Monday, August 30, 2010

Dead Beautiful by Yvonne Woon

After Renee's parents die mysteriously in the woods of California, her grandfather sends her off to a private, elite boarding school in Maine. And though Gottfried Academy isn't anything what Renee expected, she quickly makes friends and things don't look so bad. Especially handsome hunk Dante, who pays her extra attention from the moment they lay eyes on each other. However, it is not long before Renee begins to notice that all is not as it seems at the prestigious school. The elite students are hiding a secret, and the closer Renee gets to finding it out, the scarier things from her past become.

Surprisingly, I liked this book. Ended up reading it all in one day. The settings and descriptions were vivid without being overwhelming. I completely got lost in the characters, both major and minor. Dante is a dreamy guy for sure, but I found myself much more drawn to Renee's nerdy friend Nathaniel. Gottfried was a very interesting school, I would love to have gone there myself and taken Horticulture class! For a debut novel, Yvonne Woon has done a spectacular job. I am not sure if I would read more in this series, but I would absolutely read more from this author. On a final note though, I do not like this cover at all. It didn't do much to capture my attention in the first place, but after reading the novel, does nothing to fill in the story and characters. Perhaps we will see some better art on the paperback!

Overall Rating: 4 Stars

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Kneebone Boy by Ellen Potter

Meet the Hardscrabbles: Otto is the oldest who wears a scarf all the time and hasn't spoken a word since the day his mother disappeared, Lucia is a hard-headed girl who is perfectly content to take the lead, and Max is the youngest who has a keen eye and never turns down a moment to think. When their father takes off on one of his routine mysterious trips and leaves them with poor instructions, the children suddenly find themselves chasing after clues and answers. With nothing but the clothes on their backs and a five-legged cat, the Hardscrabbles set off on an adventure more important than any one of them could have imagined.

From the cover art, the tone, the siblings, and the unnamed narrator, there is no denying the similarities of the Hardscrabbles to Lemony Snickett's Baudelaire's. However, the resemblances end there. Ellen Potter quickly creates her own mystery and action to set her apart from her colleague and it works. Her writing is very easy to melt into, the descriptions clear and simple for readers to picture the scenes easily. I found myself attached to all three Hardscrabble kids equally, though there was something about Otto that lingered longer in my mind after putting the book down. Perhaps it was his blond hair and brooding good looks from the cover art that caught my eye. All in all, a good middle-grade book, but nothing that really impressed me.

Overall Rating: 3 Stars

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday 8/25/10

ENCHANTED IVY by Sarah Beth Durst

What Lily Carter wants most in the world is to attend Princeton University just like her grandfather. When she finally visits the campus, Grandpa surprises her: She has been selected to take the top-secret Legacy Test. Passing means automatic acceptance to Princeton. Sweet!

Lily's test is to find the Ivy Key. But what is she looking for? Where does she start? As she searches, Lily is joined by Tye, a cute college boy with orange and black hair who says he's her guard. That's weird. But things get seriously strange when a gargoyle talks to her. He tells her that there are two Princetons—the ordinary one and a magical one—and the Key opens the gate between them. But there are more secrets that surround Lily. Worse secrets.

When Lily enters the magical Princeton, she uncovers old betrayals and new dangers, and a chance at her dream becomes a fight for her life. Soon Lily is caught in a power struggle between two worlds, with her family at its center. In a place where Knights slay monsters, boys are were-tigers, and dragons might be out for blood, Lily will need all of her ingenuity and courage—and a little magic—to unite the worlds and unlock the secrets of her past and her future.

I admit I fell in love with this book solely based on the cover and long before the synopsis was ever available. But how can you blame me? Luckily the story sounds as interesting as it looks. WANT!

Release Date: October 12, 2010

Monday, August 23, 2010

Room by Emma Donoghue

The only world Jack has ever known is the inside of a single, 11 foot square room. He and his Ma eat, exercise, sleep, and even go to the bathroom there. A few times per week, a man Jack calls Old Nick brings them necessary supplies and sometimes gifts. He has never stepped foot outside of those four walls. But he has no reason to be unhappy, this is simply his life. Until his Ma becomes more and more desperate to escape. Now Jack finds himself pulling together all of his knowledge and strength in order to overcome the impossible.

WOW, does this book pack a mean punch. I was so horrified through most of it- watching two human being go through such a terrible life. Yet I couldn't look away. It was fascinating to get the whole story from five-year-old Jack's POV. A little tedious to read at times, because there is so much he obviously doesn't understand. In the end, I felt it much more rewarding to see the situation through the innocence and awe of his eyes and thoughts, see things the way no adult could. I am amazed at how genuine the voice sounded, don't know how Emma Donoghue accomplished such a feat. The incredible activities and things Ma invents for Jack is more proof of Donoghue's brilliance. I found myself trying to imagine how I would act in such a scene, but it was truly unfeasible. This is a perfect pick for those edgier book clubs out there. Tons to discuss and ponder if you can get past the tragedy!

Overall Rating: 5 Stars

Friday, August 20, 2010

Firelight by Sophie Jordan

Jacinda is a surviving draki, a dragon that can also take human form. There are not many left in the world, and the ones that remain go to great lengths to hide themselves from human discovery. So when she pulls a late night stunt that almost gets her killed by a gang of human hunters, she puts her entire pride at risk. Rather than suffer a terrible punishment, Jacinda's mom moves the family (or what's left of it) to a place where Dragon King Severin cannot find them. But what Jacinda finds instead is a breathtaking boy named Will. Unfortunately, Will is involved with dragon hunters, a fact which means certain death for Jacinda. Will Jacinda be able to keep her true identity a secret? And more importantly, can Jacinda and Will overcome their destinies to relish in true love?

Dragons are not my first choice for paranormal beings, but WOW I liked this book. Major credit goes to the first three chapters for totally sucking me in! I think I literally swooned the first time Jacinda and Will met. Their forbidden love was more forbidden than I have seen in a long time. Will is a hunter and she is the prey - HOT!! I also liked the unpredictable actions of Jacinda's mother. Not only was she present in Jacinda's life, but the choices she made were pivotal to the plot. I thought Jacinda's voice was very cute - sarcastic with witty timing. Not overly forced or dramatic, but very true to how teenagers might talk and think these days. Some laugh out loud moments in between those dreamy, romantic ones! Sophie Jordan also wrote some intense action sequences that had me reading feverishly towards the climax. A lot of fun to read. Thank you Sophie Jordan! Can't wait for more!

Overall Rating: 5 Stars

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday 8/18/10

PETTY MAGIC by Camille DeAngelis

Evelyn Harbinger sees nothing wrong with a one-night stand. At one hundred and forty nine years old, Eve may look like she bakes oatmeal cookies in the afternoon and dozes in her rocking chair in the evenings, but once the gray hair and wrinkles are traded for jet-black tresses and porcelain skin, she can still turn heads as the beautiful girl she once was. Can’t fault a girl for having a little fun, can you?

This is all fine and well until Eve meets Justin, who reminds her so much of a former lover, and one night is no longer enough. Eve spends more and more nights—and days—romancing Justin as her younger self, and noticing the many peculiar ways in which he is so like Jonah, her partner behind enemy lines in WWII and the love of her life. Experts in espionage, Jonah and Eve advanced the Allied cause at great personal sacrifice, and Jonah lost his life. Now Eve suspects that her Jonah has returned to her, and despite the disapproval of her coven, and the knowledge that love with a mortal man can only end in sorrow, she can’t give him up. But can she prove it’s really him?

I totally liked Camille DeAngelis' first book Mary Modern, and have been waiting for her to write another one ever since! Very much looking forward to this.

Release Date: October 5, 2010

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

Malcolm (Mackie) knows he is not normal. In the small town of Gentry, he has to keep everyone else from knowing he is not normal too. His father is the local pastor, who tries his best to keep up appearances that nothing is wrong with the town. But things are about to get a lot more difficult to hide. Mackie's condition starts to worsen by the day, and he knows he will have to come to terms with the dark truths he's always known were there a lot sooner. Plus, a girl named Tate has been sniffing around, asking Mackie a lot of questions about her dead baby sister and who he really is. If Mackie hopes to save his town and get the girl, he is going to have to toughen up and go back to the ugly place he originally came from.

I liked this book! Changeling stories are one of my favorites. It is both exciting and scary to think of babies being swapped for troublesome little creatures from another world! Mackie speaks and thinks wise beyond his years, a fact that made this book very enjoyable to read. I also really liked Tate. She was such a rough and tough girl, so assured of herself! Very refreshing and sexy! Mackie's older sister Emma was also a fresh character. A sister who loves and cares about her brother - imagine! And this review would not be complete without mentioning how awesome Mackie's friend Roswell is. We all should be so lucky as to have a friend like him. The changeling lore was fun and I liked that Brenna Yovanoff never actually named the other beasts. Honestly, I was expecting there to be a lot of loose ends, but all my questions were answered by the climax, and not in an overly rushed way. I am definitely looking forward to more from this author!

Overall Rating: 5 Stars

Friday, August 13, 2010

Fear Street Flashback (7)

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

Originally released in May, 1994.

This flashback doubles as a Friday the 13th spook fest! THE THRILL CLUB is in my top 10 favorite Fear Street books. I thought the story was fairly original. Don't want to give away too many spoilers, but it involves a mysterious cassette tape (!) and some chanting. And the things poor Talia had to go through! I'd like to think she could have put two and two together after her friends started dying according to her stories, but hey. I can look past that little detail for now. Perhaps it was the thought of a private little club of your friends that was being tortured by all of these bad things happening to the members that was so spooky. This story could have easily gone on for another 150 pages and still been as interesting. Sequel please, Mr. Stine?

Fear Rating: 3 out of 3 Screams

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday 8/11/10

WHEN ROSE WAKES by Christopher Golden

Her terrifying dreams are nothing compared to the all-too-real nightmare that awaits. . . .

Ever since sixteen-year-old Rose DuBois woke up from months in a coma with absolutely no memories, she’s had to start from scratch. She knows she loves her two aunts who take care of her, and that they all used to live in France, but everything else from her life before is a blank.Rose tries to push through the memory gaps and start her new life, attending high school and living in Boston with her aunts, who have seriously old world ideas. Especially when it comes to boys. But despite their seemingly irrational fears and odd superstitions, they insist Rose not worry about the eerie dreams she’s having, vivid nightmares that she comes to realize are strangely like the fairy tale Sleeping Beauty. The evil witch, the friendly fairies, a curse that puts an entire town to sleep—Rose relives the frightening story every night. And when a mysterious raven-haired woman starts following her, Rose begins to wonder if she is the dormant princess. And now that she’s awake, she’s in terrible, terrible danger. . . .

Sounds right up my alley, no? The cover art is a little funky, but I will definitely be reading this one.

Release Date: September 28, 2010

Monday, August 9, 2010

The False Friend by Myla Goldberg

Celia Durst was eleven years old when she lost her best friend Djuna to an abductor on the side of the road. Now she is thirty-two and heading home to tell the truth about what really happened that day. Unfortunately for her, this is not as simple as it sounds. Her other friends from that time don't believe her story, and not even her parents think her memory could have actually occurred. Add in a stale relationship with her long-time boyfriend and coming back to the place where she grew up is not going to be an easy trip.

I read Myla Goldberg's Bee Season, but didn't fall in love with her writing until her second work of fiction, Wickett's Remedy. THE FALSE FRIEND a little depressing by comparison. The story is short and not a whole lot happens. I found it hard to swallow the fact that Celia still used the terms "Mommy" and "Daddy" at age 32, instead of the more adult versions like "Mom" or "Mother". Also, I never felt it was clear why Celia needed to go back and finally reveal the true events from her childhood. I liked that as a reader I wasn't entirely sure if Celia's memory could be trusted. However, there was still the same engaging writing style from Goldberg to keep me turning pages furiously. The way she interspersed Celia's memories into her daily life felt very real, the way memories spring up in true life. Plus, having the few moments from another point of view (boyfriend Huck) were a welcomed respite and helped to round out the characters. Perhaps I was just looking for more action.

Overall Rating: 4 Stars

Friday, August 6, 2010

Halo by Alexandra Adornetto

Bethany is visiting earth for the first time in her life. She is an angel, and alongside her old siblings Gabriel and Ivy, is staying for a bit in Venus Cove. Their only job is to help humans, but then Bethany unexpectedly falls in love with a mortal named Xavier and her priorities shift. The both of them are quickly caught up in each other's love, and nothing else matters. That is, until the arrival of another boy named Jake Thorn. It doesn't take long for Bethany to figure out Jake is more than he seems, but she will have to find a way to take care of him without revealing herself.

I am not entirely sure what I expected from this book. It was a huge BEA-buzzed book, and I was looking forward to reading it. Just check out that cover!! But it wasn't what I thought it would be. First, the forbidden love story between angel and mortal was just okay. Sure there was paranormal powers and the like, but I thought Bethany's naivete was rather annoying. She is supposed to be an other-worldly being, and yet she spends most of the book whining like an average, pathetic, teenage girl. I also thought the character names were cheesy. A few things I did like were the siblings Ivy and Gabriel. Give me a prequel about them! I also really liked Xavier. He was probably the deepest character with the most fleshed out background. And he was so sweet to Bethany! Jake Thorn was a bit abrasive, and I wasn't completely convinced he could really get away with being what Adornetto made him out to be. The story felt like it was taking it's sweet time, and then the final quarter of the book is super rushed. Despite all that, however, I did enjoy the book. Will have to check out sequels Hades (Fall 2011) and Heaven (Fall 2012).

Overall Rating: 4 Stars

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday 8/4/10

DREADNOUGHT by Cherie Priest

Nurse Mercy Lynch is elbows deep in bloody laundry at a war hospital in Richmond, Virginia, when Clara Barton comes bearing bad news: Mercy’s husband has died in a POW camp. On top of that, a telegram from the west coast declares that her estranged father is gravely injured, and he wishes to see her. Mercy sets out toward the Mississippi River. Once there, she’ll catch a train over the Rockies and—if the telegram can be believed—be greeted in Washington Territory by the sheriff, who will take her to see her father in Seattle.

Reaching the Mississippi is a harrowing adventure by dirigible and rail through war-torn border states. When Mercy finally arrives in St. Louis, the only Tacoma-bound train is pulled by a terrifying Union-operated steam engine called the Dreadnought. Reluctantly, Mercy buys a ticket and climbs aboard.

What ought to be a quiet trip turns deadly when the train is beset by bushwhackers, then vigorously attacked by a band of Rebel soldiers. The train is moving away from battle lines into the vast, unincorporated west, so Mercy can’t imagine why they’re so interested. Perhaps the mysterious cargo secreted in the second and last train cars has something to do with it?

Mercy is just a frustrated nurse who wants to see her father before he dies. But she’ll have to survive both Union intrigue and Confederate opposition if she wants to make it off the Dreadnought alive.

I LOVED Boneshaker, and have been pining for more blight zombies and adventures in this world that Cherie Priest has created. Can't wait to read this one!

Release Date: September 28, 2010

Monday, August 2, 2010

An IRON-filled February

Is it just me, or does it seem there is an iron theme for this upcoming February 2011 book releases? I am looking forward to these three in particular:

THE IRON THORN by Caitlin Kitteredge

In the city of Lovecraft, the Proctors rule and a great Engine turns below the streets, grinding any resistance to their order to dust. The necrovirus is blamed for Lovecraft's epidemic of madness, for the strange and eldritch creatures that roam the streets after dark, and for everything that the city leaders deem Heretical—born of the belief in magic and witchcraft. And for Aoife Grayson, her time is growing shorter by the day.

Aoife Grayson's family is uniq
ue, in the worst way—every one of them, including her mother and her elder brother Conrad, has gone mad on their 16th birthday. And now, a ward of the state, and one of the only female students at the School of Engines, she is trying to pretend that her fate can be different.

THE IRON WITCH by Karen Mahoney

Freak. That's what her classmates call seventeen-year-old Donna Underwood. When she was seven, a horrific fey attack killed her father and drove her mother mad. Donna's own nearly fatal injuries from the assault were fixed by magic—the iron tattoos branding her hands and arms. The child of alchemists, Donna feels cursed by the magical heritage that destroyed her parents and any chance she had for a normal life. The only thing that keeps her sane and grounded is her relationship with her best friend, Navin Sharma.

When the darkest outcasts of Faerie—the vicious wood elves—abduct Navin, Donna finally has to accept her role in the centuries old war between the humans and the fey. Assisted by Xan, a gorgeous half-fey dropout with secrets of his own, Donna races to save her friend—even if it means betraying everything her parents
and the alchemist community fought to the death to protect.

THE IRON QUEEN by Julie Kagawa

Not yet available, but is the final installment in the Iron Fey trilogy.