Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday 6/29/11


It is a dark time at Ralph McQuarrie Middle School. After suffering several Origami Yoda–related humiliations, Harvey manages to get Dwight suspended from school for being a “troublemaker.” Origami Yoda pleads with Tommy and Kellen to save Dwight by making a new case file—one that will show how Dwight’s presence benefits McQuarrie. With the help of their friends, Tommy and Kellen record cases such as “Origami Yoda and the Pre-eaten Wiener,” “Origami Yoda and the Exploding Pizza Bagels,” and “Origami Yoda and Wonderland: The Musical.” But Harvey and his Darth Paper puppet have a secret plan that could make Dwight’s suspension permanent . . .

OMG. I totally loved The Strange Case of Origami Yoda. That book was brilliant. That book was magic. That book rocked my world. I was completely sure it was going to be a one-hit wonder. And then this second book was announced and I yelped with delight! I so can't wait for this book. If you haven't read Origami Yoda yet, you MUST. Go. Now. Such good books!

Release Date: August 1, 2011

Monday, June 27, 2011

Lost Voices by Sarah Porter

With her mother dead and her father in jail, Lucette lives with her abusive Uncle in a small coastal town in Alaska. When a particularly brutal night causes Luce to accidentally slip off the cliff and into the ocean below, she does not expect to survive. However, Luce soon wakes up and discovers she is now one of the many young girls to become mermaids of the sea. Luce meets others like herself and quickly adapts to her new life underwater. But when queen mermaid Catarina begins to act secretive and vindictive, Luce needs to think for herself... before something terrible happens.

Those of you who follow this blog know I read a LOT of mermaid books. So there are a lot I can compare this one to. and while there are mermaid stories that are much better, this one wasn't that bad, really. Nothing in story came even close to being as beautiful as the cover art, but it was still an enjoyable read. Luce is a very compassionate 14-year-old girl. She so often thinks of others before herself. The other character in comparison felt a little flat and undeveloped. But I liked that the girls still had your typical girl troubles (mostly in getting along with each other). I also appreciated the science and biology of Sarah Porter's mermaids, especially in their coveted singing abilities. My only complaint is the serious lack of guys in this book! You can't possibly convince me that teen girls weren't on the lookout for boys! Lost Voices is a lovely mermaid story that is just as playful as it is dark and moody.

Overall Rating: 4 Stars

Friday, June 24, 2011

Saving June by Hannah Harrington

Harper Scott has recently lost her older sister June to suicide, and is having trouble coping. So is her mother. Which is why when Harper gets an idea to drive her sister's ashes to California, she knows she must do it at all costs. Luckily, she meets a quiet boy named Jake Tolan, who offers to drive her there. Jake seems to know more about June than he lets on, so with her best friend Laney by her side, the three set out across the country for California. Harper isn't quite sure what to expect from this adventure, but one thing is for sure: she will never be the same again.

This book was not only beautiful, but it was tender and fierce and tragic and uplifting as well. That is to say, I loved it! Harper is so raw and real, as are the other supporting characters of Laney and Jake. Jake! The tension between him and Harper was so deliciously thick in some scenes, that I thought I would scream if I didn't get some relief. But it is in Harrington's superb writing that honest and true-to-life scenes like these fill the story with such great emotions. I was cheering for Harper's closure, as well as rooting for Laney (who might be the bestest friend EVER in a book). With an amped up dose of teen angst, this novel was an incredible debut. I am looking forward to more from Hannah Harrington!

Overall Rating: 5 Stars

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday 6/22/11

FOREVER by Maggie Stiefvater

In Maggie Stiefvater's SHIVER, Grace and Sam found each other. In LINGER, they fought to be together. Now, in FOREVER, the stakes are even higher than before. Wolves are being hunted. Lives are being threatened. And love is harder and harder to hold on to as death comes closing in.

Not much of a synopsis, I know. But does this third book in a trilogy really need one anyway? If you have read the first two, then you are probably like me: frothing at the mouth for this series conclusion. I love Maggie's soft yet powerful storytelling style, and Sam and Grace are one of my favorite literary couples of all time. Can't wait!

Release Date: July 12, 2011

Monday, June 20, 2011

Starcrossed by Angelina Josephini

Helen Hamilton has always tried her hardest to be normal and fit in with the rest of the crowd at school. This has never been easy for her, however, as she continues to grow abnormally tall and is super strong and extra fast. But when the mysteriously gorgeous Delos family moves into town, Helen's powers are magnified even more so. With slight reluctance, the Delos family helps Helen learn about who she is and where she came from. Still, as Helen grows and fine-tunes her powers, a darker, more sinister being awaits for the perfect opportunity to strike.

As much as I loved the cover for this book, I wasn't at all sure I would actually like the story. Perhaps the low expectations made for a nice surprise, as I ended up liking this book well enough. It was refreshing to see that Helen always knew she was different, even if she wasn't quite sure how or why she wasn't normal. She is aware of her powers but finds them more confusing that those other characters that suddenly wake up and have unique abilities. Though one of her powers specifically (you will know which one when you read it!) seems very out of place compared to the others in the book. The writing sounded a bit amateur in places, as Angelini preferred to tell things rather than show them. But the overly alluring characters made up for the weaker writing. Many readers will see similarities to the Twilight Saga (especially with the beautiful new family coming to town), but really the similarities stop there. Angelini works hard to make this story her own, and it is obvious she loves her Greek mythology. The long chapters pull the story along, moving the reader through the action in large chunks. I am not yet sure if I will read the next book, but this was is worth the read.

Overall Rating: 3 Stars

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Vampire Stalker by Alison Van Diepen

Amy Hawthorne is your average teenage girl who loves reading paranormal novels. And like many of those girls, she has fallen in love with Alexander Banks, the main character in a new series of books by author Elizabeth Howard. So imagine Amy's surprise when she one day notices a stark Alexander look-alike in her school! But as Amy gets closer to Alexander, she also notices a mysterious guy around town that happens to closely resemble Vigo Skaar, the villain from the popular novels. Things quickly become clear to Amy, and she will need to put her love of reading aside if she hopes to help Alexander catch Vigo!

I felt almost giddy before I started this book, because the premise is just SO alluring. I mean seriously, how many of you out there have ever fallen in love with a character in a book? Wished they would jump off the pages and into your real life? Kudos to you, Allison Van Diepen, for exploring the concept of literary physics! Anyway, this book was pretty adorable. It was a little difficult to suspend my disbelief in some places, but the rest of it was so fun that I found I didn't mind the unbelievable too much. Amy was a fun character, but her friends really took center stage for me. They were so supportive and chipper! The same goes for Mrs. P, from the school library. I found myself wanting to know more about her and how she came to be so educated on literary physics. On the flip side, Alexander and Vigo were a little lacking in development, and accepted what happened to them all too quickly. All in all, The Vampire Stalker captures the excitement and anticipation every avid reader out there knows all too well, especially when it comes to finding out what happens next in a series!

Overall Rating: 3 Stars

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday 6/15/11

SIRENSONG by Jenna Black

When Dana is invited to Faerie to be officially presented at the Seelie Court, it’s no easy decision. After all, everyone knows Titania, the Seelie Queen, wants her dead. But Titania claims not to be the one behind the death threats; and her son, Prince Henry, makes the decision a whole lot easier when he suggests Dana might be arrested for (supposedly) conspiring with her aunt Grace to usurp the Seelie throne. So she and her father better do as they're told…

The journey through Faerie is long – and treacherous. Dana thought it would be a good idea to have friends along, but her sort-of-boyfriend, Ethan, and her bodyguard’s son, Keane, just can’t seem to get along, and Kimber’s crush on Keane isn’t making things any easier. When a violent attack separates Dana from their caravan, the sexy Erlking saves her just in the nick of time… and makes it clear that he hasn’t given up on making her his own.

Arriving at Titania’s beautiful palace should be a relief. But Dana is soon implicated in an assassination attempt against Titania’s granddaughter, and is suddenly a fugitive, forced to leave her father behind as she and her friends flee for their lives. Will she be able to prove her innocence before the forces of the Seelie Court – or, worse, the Erlking – catch up with her? And will she save her father before he pays the ultimate price in her stead?

This series has continued to delight me, despite hesitations that the second book might not be as good as the first. Now at book number three, I am really hoping Jenna Black can keep up the good work. But I will put my faith in her and read this as soon as it comes out!

Release Date: July 5, 2011

Monday, June 13, 2011

Fear Street Flashback (18)

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

Originally released in April, 1995.

Another high-ranking Fear Street book, in my opinion. Lily is a great character. She is focused on her schoolwork, helps her grandfather at his pharmacy, and tries hard to make time for her friends at school and elsewhere. The horror comes mostly from the characters themselves, and not the acts of violence. Poor Lily has all of these people around her dying! Her reaction to the deaths got a little annoying sometimes, when she didn't grieve much, and instead went right back to her focus on school activities. But when she found out who the killer was (about half way through) the story really picked up speed and was very enjoyable!

Fear Rating: 3 out of 3 Screams

Friday, June 10, 2011

Lovely Shoes by Susan Shreve

Francine Hall was born with a birth defect that affects her feet, but she still has a fairly nice life. That is until the Valentine's Dance at school. After a humiliating accident with her orthopedic shoes, she insists upon staying in her room for the rest of her life. But then her Mother comes up with the idea to contact the famous shoemaker Salvatore Ferragamo and ask him to make Franny a special pair of shoes. His answer comes as a surprise and Franny and her mother are soon on their way to Italy in a trip that will change Franny forever.

This book was tedious for me to read. There's really no other way to say it. It has an adorable premise and a very pretty cover, but inside it required a lot of work to get through it. Perhaps the biggest problem was that Franny was hardly a sympathetic character. I got the impression she enjoyed feeling like no one liked her. It was hard to believe that a short trip to Italy left enough time to have such life-changing appeal to it. The mom was the only real redeeming piece of this book, as she wanted nothing more that to see her daughter happy. I appreciated how Franny's mom was very much a part of her life but also left Franny to her own decisions and growth. The story has a sweet and tidy ending, but I am not sure the YA audience is going to be interested in reading this book just because it has a cool mom in it.

Overall Rating: 2 Stars

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday 6/8/11

RIPPLE by Mandy Hubbard

Lexi is cursed with a dark secret. Each day she goes to school like a normal teenager, and each night she must swim, or the pain will be unbearable. She is a siren - a deadly mermaid destined to lure men to their watery deaths. After a terrible tragedy, Lexi shut herself off from the world, vowing to protect the ones she loves. But she soon finds herself caught between a new boy at school who may have the power to melt her icy exterior, and a handsome water spirit who says he can break Lexi's curse if she gives up everything else. Lexi is faced with the hardest decision she's ever had to make: the life she's always longed for - or the love she can't live without?

The cover for this book hit the internet blogs a long time ago, and I was instantly intrigued. The startling green dress, the look on his face, the watery background... how could I NOT enjoy this book?

Release Date: July 21, 2011

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross

We are first introduced to Miss Finley Jayne as she uses brute force to ward off the unwanted advances of her employer's son. She flees the scene and is taken in by a Duke named Griffin King. Griffin is no ordinary boy, however, and neither is the company he keeps. Griffin can see into the Aether and holds deep family secrets. Sam's body is infused with machines, leaving him super strong and plenty angry. Emily is an incredible doctor. And Finley herself is battling emerging powers she is only beginning to understand. Put these characters together, and they become quite the team. Which is good, because there is a terrible criminal out there who can only be stopped by the combined forces of this group.

I didn't want this book to end. What a fantastic world Kady Cross has created! This wasn't the sort of steampunk with airships and clockwork villains, but rather the kind of steampunk that is full of well-oiled machines and fancy corsets. An actual steel corset! I totally want one. And the automatons were fantastic! Used in everything from chauffeurs to surgeons to housemaids. Brilliant! Finley is a wonderfully tough chic, much like Aoife in The Iron Thorn. Fans will love this book! The minor paranormal elements were marvelously thought out. Sometimes I thought they might not fit too well with the steampunk world, but they actually blend quite nicely. I like the strong Jekyll & Hyde undertones as well. Kady Cross writes gorgeous dialog that is subtly funny and powerful in style. My favorite passages in the book were the ones filled with vivid colors and textures. This is a great stand alone book, but the last few pages leave a wide opening for book two. I personally can't wait!

Overall Rating: 5 Stars

Friday, June 3, 2011

Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma

Lochan and Maya do not have an easy life. With three younger siblings and an alcoholic mother, Lochan and Maya have played very adult roles for most of their lives. Then something wonderful happens and both Maya and Lochan find someone who is perfect for them in every way. Someone they can talk to, feel relaxed around, share everything with. But this new love is also the worst possible thing that can happen. Because Maya and Lochan have fallen in love with each other.

Forbidden is not an easy book to read. It is very powerful and extremely well-written. But this is a subject matter that is not very common to read about, nor is it very comfortable to read about. I wanted to be able to wish Lochan and Maya true happiness, but I couldn't. Tabitha Suzuma writes a character in Lochan that is more emotionally raw and angsty than I have seen in quite a long time. He was so tender one moment and so frightening the next. I had mixed feelings about how I wanted the book to end, and ultimately I think Suzuma does the best she can, given the topic. Again, this was an incredible, brave book. It will be interesting to see the kinds of responses this book receives when it is released in the US in June.

Overall Rating: 5 Stars

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday 6/1/11

UNDERCURRENT by Tricia Rayburn

The sirens are back, but Vanessa may be the biggest threat of all. . . .

Nothing has been normal since Vanessa Sands learned that her sister was murdered by sirens—femme fatales of the watery depths—and that everything she believed about her family was a lie.

Her boyfriend Simon’s been the only person Vanessa feels she can really trust. But now there are some secrets she can’t tell even him. And when Vanessa finds herself in the sights of Parker, Hawthorne Prep’s resident charmer, she needs someone to confide in more than ever. Doubting her relationship with Simon, unsure of Parker’s intentions—and of her own—and terrified by what she’s learned about herself, Vanessa has never felt so alone.

But personal problems must be put aside, because the Winter Harbor sirens are back for revenge. Now, Vanessa must face her past and accept that she is just like her enemies—every bit as alluring, every bit as dangerous.

I liked the first book, Siren. How could you not like it, really? It was an interesting take on the siren/mermaid lore. I am not sure I am down with the new cover treatment for this sequel, but I am looking forward to reading this one!

Release Date: June 12, 2011