Monday, February 28, 2011

Beyonders: A World Without Heroes by Brandon Mull

Jason Walker's life as a normal American boy get turned upside down when he accidentally falls into the hippopotamus tank at the local zoo. Instead of being eaten though, he finds himself in a completely new world. Thus begins his journey through Lyria, a land run by the evil King Maldor. He joins up with Rachel, a girl who also accidentally found herself transported to the strange kingdom, and together the two of them meet many others on their quest for a magic word. The trick will not only be to survive the enemies and treacherous landscapes, but also to find their way home.

I have to say, Brandon Mull's Fablehaven series is one of my FAVORITES of all times. I've recommended it to more people than I can keep track of. I was sad to see it end but was thrilled how the final book wrapped up so nicely. I've had Fablehaven-inspired dreams and fantasies. So Mr. Mull had some pretty large expectations to meet with this new series of his. And meet them he does, mostly. A World Without Heroes did not strike my fancy as much as I had hoped it would, but it was still a fantastic adventure and reading experience. I thought the premise of finding the pieces of a magic word was fun and clever. As with Fablehaven, there is a fun boy/girl duo pulling the story along. Rachel and Jason both brought their own skills and weaknesses to the team, but the two of them together provides all readers with something with which to identify. The story was stuffed so full of exposition, people, and places that it sometimes felt as though I would never be able to keep it all straight. But Mull is no stranger to creating complex worlds and so I found that I was never completely lost. I definitely think this series is aimed at a much older audience than his Fablehaven books were. There are some very dark moments in the plot, as well as a slew of slightly more difficult words and concepts. I loved how witty and intelligent Jason was. Plus there were so many other interesting and unique characters introduced in this first book that readers are bound to be rewarded with seeing more of their favorites in future installments. Fans of Cornelia Funke's Inkheart series will love jumping into the world of Lyria as well. Book two, Seeds of Rebellion, is due to arrive next year!

Overall Rating: 4 Stars

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Cover Colors Part 7

After reading Vixen, I've begun to notice just how many 1920's stories are hitting shelves lately. And why not? The time period is known for some many things, the best of which is women having fun! I am looking forward to sticking my nose in these other books.

Anyone else know any good 1920's reads?

Friday, February 25, 2011

Bound by Book-To-Movie-Law: I Am Number Four

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.

The casting of Diana Agron (from Glee) for Sarah was a good idea for looks, but that girl cannot act. Seriously. The more I see her in things, the more I think I am just not a fan. And the guy who played Number Four, Alex Pettyfer, was way too old looking, I thought. However, these slight annoyances aside, the movie was surprisingly all right. The action was good, the make-up wasn't over-the-top-too-cheesy, and it followed the book quite nicely. Teresa Palmer totally stole the show as Number Six, along with the adorable puppy dog. I enjoyed the soundtrack, which was cranked way up at just the right moments. The whole time I was reading the book I kept thinking how perfectly written for the big screen it was, so it really wasn't much of a huge stretch to make it work. I am impressed with Michael Bay for surpassing my expectations though. Oh, and it was fun to see the trailer for Beastly (also with Pettyfer) on the big screen! Looking forward to seeing that one.

Bottom Line: Book was just okay, and so was the movie. But in this case I think the movie pulls ahead.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday 2/23/11

THE GODDESS TEST by Aimee Carter

It's always been just Kate and her mom--and now her mother is dying. Her last wish? To move back to her childhood home. So Kate's going to start at a new school with no friends, no other family and the fear her mother won't live past the fall.

Then she meets Henry. Dark. Tortured. And mesmerizing. He claims to be Hades, god of the Underworld--and if she accepts his bargain, he'll keep her mother alive while Kate tries to pass seven tests.

Kate is sure he's crazy--until she sees him bring a girl back from the dead. Now saving her mother seems crazily possible. If she succeeds, she'll become Henry's future bride, and a goddess.

Sorry guys, I wish I had a larger cover. I am looking forward to reading this book first and foremost because I am a sucker for Hades stories. PC Cast can be thanked for that - her version of the Lord of the Underworld was downright sexy. Will be interesting to see what Aimee Carter does with the story!

Release Date: April 19, 2011

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Iron Thorn by Caitlin Kittredge

Aoife is about to turn sixteen and has a lot on her mind. Sixteen is the age both her mother and brother went mad, and in the City of Lovecraft, madness is not taken to very kindly. A few weeks shy of her birthday, she receives a mysterious note from Conrad asking her to help him. Grabbing her best friend Calvin, the two of them set off to figure out what really happened to her brother. This task will not be easy, however, as right away they encounter terrible things that want to eat them, imprison them, and infect them with the deadly necrovirus. But Aoife must push on, as the alternative choice is much worse.

Wow, was this book ever quite the fantastic adventure! The details were fully imagined and thoroughly thought out. I felt as though I actually went somewhere and did something extraordinary with these characters. There were secrets I was not expecting and twists I never would have thought possible. The whole book was this great gothic/paranormal/steampunk combination. Aoife is a very smart girl, never succumbing to her feelings for a boy or giving in to a moment of girlish weakness. She was truly a girl for readers to aspire to be. She stayed strong through some very creepy creatures and hair-raising situations. Kittredge's writing had the perfect amount of beautiful description to offset her captivating dialog and action. The worlds felt so real and alive, and the use of machines and clockwork were some of the best executions I have read to date in the steampunk genre. Fans of Cherie Priest's Boneshaker will devour this book. I have not read any of Kittredge's adult books (and I am not yet sure I will) but this book will haunt my thoughts until the next installment in the Iron Codex comes out!

Overall Rating: 5 Stars

Friday, February 18, 2011

Outside In by Maria V. Snyder

It feels like only yesterday when Trella was just a pipe scrub, sleeping in the air ducts and causing trouble wherever she went. Now, she is an underground leader with a large spotlight on her. Since the rebellion, everyone in Inside knows who she is. But it seems the shift in the people has done more harm than good. As unrest spreads, strange and dangerous things begin to happen to Inside. Before long, it is almost impossible for Trella to know who to trust, who is double-crossing her, and what she can do to fix things. And something from Outside wants in...

Omigosh I have totally been waiting for this book since reading the first in the series, Inside Out. I loved that book. Reading this one felt great to be back in the claustrophobic world of Trella and Riley and the others. But overall, I was not as impressed as I was the first time around. Perhaps it is because this story is quite heavy on the politics, creating tensions with who is controlling people instead of with thrilling chase scenes. Also, I felt there was not as much human interest on Trella's part - she seemed much more cold and detached in her relationships than in the first book. Still, this was a great read with plenty of exciting scenes and twists. I missed getting all new tech gadgets, but it was enjoyable to be re-acquainted with a few favorites from before. Maria Snyder has a way of writing that makes me feel like I am watching her stories on TV, rather than reading them. The action flows and the reader is never left for long without a clue to knowing more. Will there be another book in this series? I certainly hope so!

Overall Rating: 4 Stars

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday 2/16/11


Two years ago, Brenna did the unthinkable. She witnessed the aftermath of a murder and accused her only true friend—the first boy she ever loved—of being a killer.

Now sixteen, Brenna returns to Oklahoma only to discover that Isaac “White Bird” Henry isn’t in juvie. The half-breed outcast is in a mental hospital, frozen in time, locked in his mind at the worst moment of his life. And when Brenna touches him, she’s pulled into his hellish vision quest, seeing terrifying demons and illusions she doesn’t understand.

Feeling isolated and alone, she’s up against the whole town, targeted by bullying former classmates, a bigoted small town sheriff, and a tribe who refuses to help one of their own. But when Brenna realizes she’s as trapped by the past as White Bird is, this time she won’t turn her back on him. She’s the only one who can free them both.

Even if she has to expose her secret—a “gift” she’s kept hidden her whole life.

An interesting sounding book, no? I am curious to see how the action plays out with so many elements seemingly against her. A title from Harlequin Teen that I will definitely check out!

Release Date: April 1, 2011

Monday, February 14, 2011

Fear Street Flashback (14)

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

Originally released in March, 1996.

This one had so much potential! A high school theater group... a stalker... lots of characters that could double as suspects... tons of potential, I say. Unfortunately, it fell a little short of the cheap thrills goodness that I have come to expect from Mr. Stine and his infamous Fear Street. Serena isn't a very likable character, always focused on herself and a little mean to those around her. The guys aren't dreamy either, as neither of the three make any real sweet gestures towards Serena. And then the big reveal at the end, while intense, wasn't all that well explained. The only part I liked about this book was the silly idea of little sun stickers scaring poor Serena. A good marketing team would have included a few with the sale of the book!

Fear Rating: 1 out of 3 Screams

Sunday, February 13, 2011

One Hundred Candles by Mara Purnhagen

After the disturbing situation in Charleston, Charlotte Silver's life is finally settling down. She's got steady friends and even a boy or two interested in her. But this comfort is short-lived. Another creepy happening occurs on a mission with her folks, and things go downhill shortly after that. A weekend party makes things worse a few days later. Throw in the increasing fights and awkwardness between Charlotte's mom and dad, and it is going to be a really rough time!

Have you read Past Midnight? I liked it, and was looking forward to meeting more ghosts with Charlotte and the family. This sequel started off with a fairly spooky scene, but there weren't nearly the scares in this one as there were in the first book. Which was okay with me, honestly. It lent more time to get to know Charlotte and develop some of the relationships around her. I liked the premise of the ghost story - that of one hundred candles being lit over stories. Clever! Fans will definitely want to check out the short ebook Raising the Dead and then book three, Beyond the Grave, when it comes out in September.

Overall Rating: 3 Stars

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Bound by Book-to-Movie-Law: The Romantics

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 read this whole book on the plane from Detroit to LA, and I usually don't read on planes at all. It was engrossing and I couldn't put it down. Some scenes felt like they were written expressly for a movie version, there was no denying that. I missed this movie when it was out in theaters, so it feels like I have been waiting forever to watch it on DVD! The similarities between book and movie are very strong. This is a very close comparison. As well it should be, because the author also wrote the film script and directed the movie. How's that for a smooth book-to-movie transition? When all is said and done, however, I think I preferred imagining the scenes in my own head as opposed to watching them on screen. I mean, those bridesmaid dresses....!?!

Bottom Line: I liked BOTH but the book pulls ahead by a narrow margin.

Friday, February 11, 2011

I Heart These Publishers

In getting so close to Valentine's Day, I have been thinking about those few publishers out there who routinely put out books that I love. Some publishers never let you down- it's as simple as that. Or perhaps not as simple, as releasing books that I will only love sounds like it would be a very tricky feat to accomplish. And yet, the following publishers have pulled it off.

FLUX. Are these guys good or what? My first Flux book experience goes back to Lament by Maggie Stiefvater in October of 2008. Following by The Sky Always Hears Me by Kirstin Cronn-Mills in September of 2009. Then Everything You Want by Barbara Shoup in November 2009. There were other books before these, but these were the first I picked up and read, and by the time I realized I was looking forward to Lament's sequel Ballad, I knew I had found a new publisher to like. Flux's titles are unique, and fill me with joy while reading them. Plus, the quality of the printing and binding of their books is top notch, with bleached white paper and a sturdy paperback cover. Everything about holding a Flux book in my hand feels substantial, and I look forward every month to opening a new title.

TYNDALE. My fondness for this publisher came with the beginning of Susan May Warren's contemporary book Reclaiming Nick. Those who know me understand there will always be a spot for the troubled cowboy on my bookshelf, and the entire Noble Legacy Trilogy so excellently filled that space in my heart. From there I read My Sister Dilly by Maureen Lang and totally loved it. I have her new Great War series and am looking forward to digging my nose into it. Most recently I read Ransomed Dreams by Sally John. Not my usual fare, but I was completely engrossed nonetheless. The story was breathtakingly beautiful. I also think it is worth mentioning that Tyndale has an incredible cover art department. Just stunning covers, guys. Love 'em.

FIRST SECOND. Do you know First Second? It's probably worth mentioning that this is an imprint of Macmillan and a fairly new one at that. Maybe you know the title American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang? The award-winning graphic novel that told what it was like for one boy to feel like an outsider in his own family. Robot Dreams was an adorable graphic masterpiece as well. I will definitely pick up Level Up, also by Yang, and check it out! First Second's books all have that little something for readers of all sorts to identify with. Graphic novels can be tricky business, but I have found this publisher to consistently release well-written, well thought out stories. If you haven't yet, give them a try.

Of course, the few listed are not nearly the tip of the iceberg of the books I have read from these publishers, but it would take all day to mention all of them. Trust me that I have read a LOT of titles from each of the above. I would love to hear your thoughts on which specific publishers out there you like. Please let me know!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday 2/9/11

ENCLAVE by Ann Aguirre

New York City has been decimated by war and plague, and most of civilization has migrated to underground enclaves, where life expectancy is no more than the early 20's. When Deuce turns 15, she takes on her role as a Huntress, and is paired with Fade, a teenage Hunter who lived Topside as a young boy. When she and Fade discover that the neighboring enclave has been decimated by the tunnel monsters—or Freaks—who seem to be growing more organized, the elders refuse to listen to warnings. And when Deuce and Fade are exiled from the enclave, the girl born in darkness must survive in daylight, in the ruins of a city whose population has dwindled to a few dangerous gangs. As the two are guided by Fade’s long-ago memories, they face dangers, and feelings, unlike any they’ve ever known.

I've tried reading Aguirre before and failed (her Corine Solomon series) but I have heard good things about her Sirrantha Jax series and look forward to trying it out someday. But this one will probably come first in my reading pile. It's got a great premise and is YA, so it already has points going for it. We shall see!

Release Date: April 12, 2011

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell

Amelia isn't sure what to expect when she is shipped off to stay with her Aunt and cousin Zora in Baltimore. Upon arrival, her life turns into one exciting adventure after another. Zora is extremely social and daring, introducing Amelia to girl friends and boys alike. But Amelia is hiding a secret, and when Zora finds out what she can do, life as Amelia knows it changes fast and furiously. The two girls make the best use of Amelia's talents as they can, creating quite a name for themselves. Then someone gets hurt and it becomes difficult to know who to trust. Plus Zora meets a mysterious boy who may or may not have powers of his own.

This is a tender and tragic little read. The atmosphere is filled with historically accurate references of the times (Zora and Amelia go to get calling cards printed, for example) that are delightful to experience. The writing was surprisingly sensual, breaking away from the prudish, stuffy air of proper society. Amelia's interest in Nathaniel Witherspoon is innocent and arousing. Zora's bright outlook on life and willingness to be her own gal is downright contagious. Saundra Mitchell expertly captures the language and rules of the time period. The plot takes it's time getting going, but once it does, the reader is thrown into happiness and dances and the mystique. Then, when things take a turn for the worse, I couldn't help but feel bad for poor Amelia. However slow, silly, or sad the story may be however, the ending is so completely worth it.

Overall Rating: 3 Stars

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Rendering by Joel Naftali

When The Rendering opens, Doug is blogging furiously about what has happened to him. Wrongly accused of killing his Aunt Margaret, his goal is to tell the world what really happened that fateful day. Between fighting off terrifying boidroids, befriending cyberskunk hybrids, and attempting to finish his homework, Doug's story is one high-octane adventure!

The Rendering is an exciting book for those boys (and girls!) out there who embrace their computer-loving, dorky side. Packed with so much action, there's hardly time to pause and catch your breath. The story is quite a high concept, and there is a lot of science and tech to back it up. Readers will have to be up-to-snuff on their computer tech knowledge if they don't want to feel lost in the action. Doug's friend Jamie is brilliant - the super smart female best friend who's always there to lend him a much-needed hand. I absolutely loved how Joel Naftali played around with font sizes and styles to help emphasize certain parts of the blog. Very creative and a welcomed break from the monotony of blog format. And he wrote Doug's voice with a perfect blend of sarcasm and hilarity. While not my usual cup of tea, I certainly enjoyed the ride.

Overall Rating: 3 Stars

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday 2/2/11


There are many things that Annah would like to forget: the look on her sister's face before Annah left her behind in the Forest of Hands and Teeth, her first glimpse of the Horde as they swarmed the Dark City, the sear of the barbed wire that would scar her for life. But most of all, Annah would like to forget the morning Elias left her for the Recruiters.

Annah's world stopped that day, and she's been waiting for Elias to come home ever since. Somehow, without him, her life doesn't feel much different than the dead that roam the wasted city around her. Until she meets Catcher, and everything feels alive again.
But Catcher has his own secrets. Dark, terrifying truths that link him to a past Annah has longed to forget, and to a future too deadly to consider. And now it's up to Annah: can she continue to live in a world covered in the blood of the living? Or is death the only escape from the Return's destruction?

Words alone cannot express how excited I am for this book. Carrie Ryan does zombies better than anyone else I have ever read. They are very realistic and her stories pack a strong dramatic punch. I've even enjoyed her short zombie stories that have appeared in various anthologies/ This is a solid world she's created and I want more more more!

Release Date: March 22, 2011