Friday, July 29, 2011

Rebirth by Sophie Littlefield

It has been a few months since Smoke helped Cass get her daughter Ruthie back and make a new life for herself. This has not always been easy, in a time when Beaters and Rebuilders roam the land, both equally intent on killing people. But life is good, if not stable. But then Smoke gets news that pulls him away from Cass and Ruthie, and their world is once again turned upside down. Cass and Ruthie leave with Dor, the leader of the Box they live in, and begin the hunt to track down other surviving family members. Add to this the fact that Ruthie is starting to show signs of being something more than she seems, and the stakes are higher than they have ever been before.

What an incredible, compelling sequel! I was completely blown away by the powerful first book, Aftertime. It was hands-down the best adult zombie book I have ever read. Sophie Littlefield has set the standard for bleak, rough landscapes- where it is depressing to live, but hopeful to survive. This second story picks up shortly after the first one ends, and not much has changed. Cass has Ruthie, who is an instantly likeable little girl. As was Dor, which I found surprising, since he was not portrayed in a nice light in the first book. Littlefield is not afraid to write gory and graphic scenes, which make the world all the more real. I love traveling with Cass as she navigates her heart and desires, and can't wait for the next installment!

Overall Rating: 5 Stars

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday 7/27/11

DUST & DECAY by Jonathan Maberry

Six months have passed since the terrifying battle with Charlie Pink-eye and the Motor City Hammer in the zombie-infested mountains of the Rot & Ruin. It’s also six months since Benny Imura and Nix Riley saw something in the air that changed their lives. Now, after months of rigorous training with Benny’s zombie-hunter brother Tom, Benny and Nix are ready to leave their home forever and search for a better future. Lilah the Lost Girl and Benny’s best friend Lou Chong are going with them.

Sounds easy. Sounds wonderful. Except that everything that can go wrong does. Before they can even leave there is a shocking zombie attack in town. But as soon as they step into the Rot & Ruin they are pursued by the living dead, wild animals, insane murderers and the horrors of Gameland –where teenagers are forced to fight for their lives in the zombie pits. Worst of all…could the evil Charlie Pink-eye still be alive?

In the great Rot & Ruin everything wants to kill you. Everything…and not everyone in Benny’s small band of travelers will make it out alive.

Oh man oh man oh man. Rot & Ruin was an incredible book, one I talked about for months after reading it. One I would put up there on the shelf next to Carrie Ryan for best zombie books. He is an incredible writer and the zombie world he has created is one of beauty and terror. Only those who have read the first book will know why the cover for this second one is so perfect. Sooooo excited for this one!

Release Date: August 30, 2011

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Edge of Grace by Christa Allen

Caryn Becker has a busy life. Following the sudden death of her husband, she has to balance being a single mother to her son Ben with running her own catering business on a daily basis. Then one day she gets a call from her brother David, telling her he is gay. Caryn already has a hard time accepting this announcement, but then comes the even more disturbing news that David is the victim of a hate crime. Now Caryn will need to do some deep soul-searching in order to reconnect with the ones she loves.

This is the second book I have read by Christa Allan, and I was not nearly as impressed as I was with Walking On Broken Glass. For one, the plot was not quite my cup of tea. I felt incredibly trapped in Caryn's unforgiving, small head. She seemed very out of place in today's tolerant world, but I am sure there are still many people out there who struggle the same as Caryn does. Still, I think I would have enjoyed seeing the point of view from others, like her friend Julie, or even David. And I liked Ben, who performed like a true little kid would speak and act. This book carried the same easy and powerful writing style that I came to love from Walking On Broken Glass. Allan's dialog really packs a punch when conveying the conflicting emotions of her characters. I will definitely pick up Allan's next book, but I am hoping for a tough issue that's more relevant to today's lifestyle.

Overall Rating: 3 Stars

Friday, July 22, 2011

Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey

Violet Willoughby isn't thrilled to tag along with her mother's schemes as a Spiritualist Medium for society's upper crust, but it is the only life she knows. When her mother gets called upon to do seance's at Lord Jasper's estate, Violet is both thrilled and hesitant to go along. Luckily, her good friend Elizabeth is there to keep her entertained, along with her childhood friend Colin. But then Violet sees a ghost - one who wants her help - and things take an adventurous and dangerous turn.

I was surprised by this book. I wasn't sure I would like it, as mysteries aren't normally my cup of tea. But once I got to the second chapter, I knew I was in it to the end. This is a delightful tale of debutantes of high-society London, romance, and ghosts. Alyxandra Harvey has created a likeable character in Violet, one I enjoyed hanging around. Her friend Elizabeth was, of course, funny and totally enviable. And WOW, was Colin ever dreamy! The things he said and did to Violet made me swoon! Harvey also did a wonderful job creating atmosphere. When they were at a ball, the dresses and music and food were perfectly described to make me feel like I was there. The ghost scenes were super creepy and gave me chills. I did, however, think that the first half of the book was much more exciting than the second half. Once I got used to the ghosts and the investigating, it was a slow slog towards the end reveal. Even so, check this one out if you like mysteries!

Overall Rating: 3 Stars

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday 7/20/11

RIPTIDE by Kat Falls

Return to the subsea frontier with Ty and Gemma! The mysteries of the deep are deadlier than ever when Ty'With time running out for his parents, Ty's desperation leads the two teenagers to the underwater underworld...and into an alliance with the outlaws of the Seablite Gang. But one mystery soon leads to another. How has an entire township disappered? Why is the local sealife suddenly so aggressive? And can the Seablite Gang be trusted...or are Ty and Gemma in deeper water than they realize?

A short synopsis, but I thought I would stick to the sea books this month. There are so many good sea-themed books coming out soon and I am seriously looking forward to all of them! I absolutely loved the world Kat Falls created in Dark Life, and was chomping at the bit for more. Disney has optioned these books for a movie, which I would love to see happen. They could do a good job with it, I think. Can't wait to join Ty and Gemma again!

Release Date: August 1, 2011

Monday, July 18, 2011

Fins Are Forever by Tera Lynn Childs

Ever since Lily stepped on land to be with Quince and finish her human schooling, she has never been more stressed. The SATs are coming up and her grades could use some hard work. Then the earth moves (literally!) and her bratty cousin Dosinia shows up on her doorstop. Exiled from their underwater home, Doe will hanging out with lily and her Aunt Rachel for a while. As if this isn't enough already, it quickly becomes clear that Lily's former crush Brody is interested in Doe. And an ex-flame with an agenda comes back into her life as well. With so much going on, Lily's impending 18th birthday seems like the least of her problems!

As the second book in the series, I think Fins Are Forever is better than the first book, Forgive My Fins. This is definitely one of the sillier mermaid stories I have read, but the quirks that annoyed me in the first book were so much more enjoyable in this one. Like the fish talk and sea-sayings. They were totally cute in this story! Perhaps I was just drawn to the Good Girl/Bad Girl plot line between Lily and Doe. The scenes with them together were the best! I also have to say it was refreshing to see a YA character who is struggling with their grades, instead of passing over school subjects as though they didn't matter. I really liked the way Quince and Lily interacted with each other, too. At first it seemed a little abrupt, especially after all they went through in the first book. But I quickly settled in to the Lily/Quince lifestyle. If you made it through the first one, be sure to pick up this next installment. It's totally worth the read!

Overall Rating: 4 Stars

Friday, July 15, 2011

It's the First Day of School... Forever! By R.L. Stine

Artie Howard is having some trouble on his first day of fifth grade. It starts with him falling out of bed and gets much worse after that. Everything he does at school seems to go terribly, horribly wrong. He makes enemies of the biggest and scariest boy in school, loses the class pet, and gets creepy warnings from the principal. And just when he thinks he may have made it through the worst day of his life, he starts it all over again!

Ahhh.... R.L. Stine. Does middle-grade horror get any better than this? I think not. As a long time (my whole life, practically) fan of Mr. Stine, I am always stoked when he writes another book. This time, it is his first with Feiwel and Friends, and I certainly hope this is the start of a great publishing relationship! The story was pure, classic Stine. Short chapters, with cliffhangers at the end of every one of them. Spooky imagery and tense scenes. Artie was humorous and likeable, even when he got into all of those accidents. And the twist ending will make young readers gasp with surprise, before they laugh at the brilliance of it!

Overall Rating: 4 Stars

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Fear Street Flashback (19)

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

Originally released in March, 1994.

This book started off pretty silly, but by the middle gets really good. Maggie and Andrea and such competitive sisters - they fight all the time, are both on the swim team, and even look alike. I found myself feeling like Maggie - ecstatic about the beautiful canopy bed (what girl doesn't want a canopy bed sometime in their life?) and then getting scared for her when things begin to go wrong. Maggie is a fairly unique character for Fear Street in that she knows she is not crazy but it is difficult to explain the insane things that are happening to her. The chapters in this book seem to be slightly longer than the normal Fear Street books, and I think it allows more room for character development. Bad Dreams is a spectacular piece of the Fear Street series!

Fear Rating: 3 out of 3 Screams

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday 7/13/11

EVERBLUE by Brenda Pandos

Best friends share everything with each other. Or do they? Seventeen-year-old Ashlyn Frances Lanski is tired of her boring, single life. Spending time with her best friend Tatiana, dreaming about kissing Tatiana's twin brother Fin, and swimming competitively are her only sanctuary. The girls plan to leave their drab lakeside town far behind for college. But when Tatchi fails to return home after a family emergency, and no one knows where the family has gone, Ash chooses to do something drastic to find them.

Ashlyn is about to discover what she’d thought to be true her whole life, wasn’t, and the truth, too fantastical to imagine. Secrets lurk beneath the deep blue waters of Lake Tahoe, secrets that will change Ashlyn's life forever.

Merrrrrrmaid..... *drooool*. I have not yet read any of the Talisman books by Brenda Pandos, but apparently she knows that if she really wants to get my attention, she has to write a mermaid story! I also like that it is lake fin-folk rather ocean/sea creatures. Can't wait!

Release Date: July 31, 2011

Monday, July 11, 2011

Small Town Sinners by Melissa Walker

Lacey Byer has always been a good girl and perfect Christian. She also just turned sixteen, which not only means she gets her driver's license, but also makes her old enough to try out for a lead role in this year's Hell House. Lacey's father is the Children's Pastor at the local community church in her small town, so the Hell House production has always been a "movie moment" goal for her. And this year's show promises to be the best ever. But then things begin to happen in the lives of her best friends around her, and she begins to doubt the words her father preaches. Add to that the new boy in town, and things are getting rather confusing in the once simple life of Lacey.

Small Town Sinners is an enthralling book. Predictable, yes, but it doesn't pretend to want to surprise you with its actions. I had not heard of the phenomena of Hell Houses before this books, and found myself fascinated with the whole experience. Lacey was an unbelievably raw character. As the reader is pulled along through her doubt and re-invention of herself, Lacey remains unflinching honest. Melissa Walker wants to tell an authentic, open story, bold and without apology. Teen readers will have characters to identify with and are sure to find similarities in their own rebellion against their parents. I also think this is an important book for teens to read, not just for the lesson in thinking for yourself, but also for the beautiful love story that is equally as much the point of Lacey's journey. This is the first book of Walker's I have read, but I will definitely pick up her others to give them a whirl!

Overall Rating: 5 Stars

Friday, July 8, 2011

Bound by Book-To-Movie Law: The Time Traveler's Wife

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.

Even though this movie has been sitting on my shelf for quite a long while now, I had not watched it until recently. The Time Traveler's Wife was such a powerful, unique, incredible book, that I was terrified that the motion picture could never do it justice. I was thrilled that it was made into a movie in the first place, but it turns out my fears were correct, and it really was a terrible film. I think the main cause of this is due to the beautiful and complicated chronology in which the book is written. The reader is left to sort out time and plot as it is slowly revealed to them. The movie, on the other hand, tells the story in one solid time period, using flashbacks to portray past history. This felt very cheesy in most instances, and I am sorry to say that it is just not that effective in building suspense and amazement. To the movie's credit, the "traveling" effect was pretty neat (and sometimes creepy!). I liked how Eric Bana would slowly fade until he was gone. I will give this movie a few more viewings to see if it gets any better, but for now my opinion is set.

Bottom Line: The book was WAY better.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday 7/6/11

FURY by Elizabeth Miles

It’s winter break in Ascension, Maine. The snow is falling and everything looks pristine and peaceful. But not all is as it seems...

Between cozy traditions and parties with her friends, Emily loves the holidays. And this year’s even better--the guy she’s been into for months is finally noticing her. But Em knows if she starts things with him, there’s no turning back. Because his girlfriend is Em’s best friend.

On the other side of town, Chase is having problems of his own. The stress of his home life is starting to take its toll, and his social life is unraveling. But that’s nothing compared to what’s really haunting him. Chase has done something cruel...something the perfect guy he pretends to be would never do. And it’s only a matter of time before he’s exposed.

In Ascension, mistakes can be deadly. And three girls—three beautiful, mysterious girls—are here to choose who will pay.

Em and Chase have been chosen.

I am completely attracted to the mystery this synopsis holds... must read to find out what Chase did! And look how stunning her bright red hair is on the cover. Beautiful cover art. A new read with plenty of mystery and gorgeous cover art. I can't wait!

Release Date: August 30, 2011

Monday, July 4, 2011

Never Knowing by Chevy Stevens

Sara Gallagher is a woman who understands how important parents are. Not only was she adopted and grew up with foster parents, but she is also a single mother of a six-year-old daughter named Ally. Now happily engaged to Evan and feeling good about her life, Sara decides to give looking for her real birth mother one last shot. To her surprise she finds her mother, which quickly leads to figuring out who her biological father is. Unfortunately, it turns out her real father is a very well-known and dangerous man. Equally as bad is the fact that now that he knows who Sara is, he won't leave her alone.

Never Knowing is a fabulous sophomore novel by Chevy Stevens. Her first book, Still Missing, had me on the edge of my seat and ignoring everything around me until I finished it. This book had me feeling the same way. Such high tension! Chevy Stevens creates intense emotions in poor, tortured Sara. I felt bad for those around her, like Ally, Evan, and her sisters, because of the way she was so focused on the terrible things that were happening to her. As much as the reader knows how horrific Sara's real father is, Stevens is careful to write him realistically. There were a few moments when I was even rooting for him. The plot is narrated through Sara via her recorded sessions with her psychologist, and I think this ends up working very well. The twist ending was not necessary, but definitely gave me an OMG moment. Make sure you put aside enough time because once you start this book, you will want to sit in one place until you finish it. I am looking forward to more from Chevy!

Overall Rating: 5 Stars

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Rites & Wrongs of Janice Wills by Joanna Pearson

Janice Wills is an observer. She enjoys sitting on the sidelines and watching her fellow classmates move through the tricky and often confusing landscape that is high school. This also works well to promote her interest in anthropological studies. But Janice's junior year may prove to be a little different than the previous years. For one, there is the overrated Miss Livermush Pageant, which Janice thinks is over-hyped and underwhelming. Plus, there are two boys vying for Janice's attention, making her observations and studies become even more important!

The Rites & Wrongs of Janice Wills was a cute and wholesomely innocent book. The note-taking interruptions were funny and worked well as a literary convention. Perhaps like-minded readers will be inspired to take notes of their own! Joanna Pearson has a sunny style of writing. All of the characters in the book were seemingly happy all of the time and often funny as well. I am usually a little wary of the getting-revenge-on-the-popular-girls story, but this book has a lot of heart. I found myself rooting for not only Janice, but for her friends Paul and Margot as well. And nice cover! It was a perfect fit with the book.

Overall Rating: 3 Stars