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Mini Reviews

Mini Reviews

Mini Review Time. Here are some books that I devoured during my reading spree that I thought were fantastic. However, many of them have been all around the blogosphere already, so I thought I would just do some mini-reviews.

[Rating: 4.5]

Love is the Higher Law by David Levithan
Publisher:
Knopf Books for Young Readers
Release Date: Aug. 2009
Pages:
167
Source:
ALA
Buy from (affil. links) : Amazon, Powell’s, Indie Bound

Everyone will always remember where they were on September 11, 2001. For three New York area teens, Claire, Jasper, and Peter, there will always be a before and after. But don’t let the 9/11 theme scare you away. This story is about how one event can change our lives and redefine how we connect to people during tragic times. It’s about discovering new friendships and bonds as lives intertwine in ways they wouldn’t have before. This has easily become one of my favorite solo Levithan books, second only to The Realm of Possibility. I felt connected to each character and thought their emotions were raw and honest. I thoroughly enjoyed the journey with these three teens and was a little sad to leave them as the story ended.


[Rating: 4.5]
Ash
by Malindo Lo
Publisher:
Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date:
Sept. 2009
Pages: 272
Source:
ALA
Buy from (affil. links)Amazon, Powell’s, Indie Bound

Say hello to the newest Cinderella retelling. Wait, wait, this isn’t your average Cinderella story. This is a world filled of old magic and fairies. Stories that Ash’s mother use to tell her as a child. It’s those stories that keep her going after her father dies and she is left in the care of her step-mother. Forced from her family home and to be a servant, Ash dreams of dancing and belonging to the fairies. That is until she meets Kaisa, the king’s huntress, and finds herself falling in love and having to decide which world she longs for more. Ash was slow-moving at times, but I really enjoyed the little twists that Lo added. It was refreshing to not have Cinderella chase after the prince. And while I will admit the lesbian aspect is what first drew me to Ash there is much more to it. It’s about self-discovery and finding love and where you belong. While I wish Lo would have explained the fairy world just a little more, I understand it was not what the book was really about. If you’re looking for a new look at Cinderella I would highly recommend trying this one out.


[Rating: 5.0]
Fire
by Kristen Cashore
Publisher:
Dial
Release Date:
Oct. 2009
Pages:
480
Source:
ALA
Buy from (affil. links)Amazon, Powell’s, Indie Bound

Fire is the last human monster left in the Dells. Fire, with her multi-colored hair, irresistible beauty, and mind control, is considered a huge threat. The danger of being hunted exists even the secluded land that she lives through. The danger only increases when her gift is needed by Young Nash at the capitol. Her powers may just be the thing that can help them win the war that is coming. It the midst of political struggle and power plays, Fire finds herself falling for Brigan, the one person she can’t control…if only she can get him to look past what to is to discover who she really is. While I think Graceling is still my favorite, I really enjoyed Fire. While there were some similarities between the two, the approach is very much different. Fire is more about strategy through political and mind games where as Graceling was all about the action and adventure.  The political games is interesting to me, but it slow-moving and I can see how others can get bored. I really adored Brigan and wish he would have been in the book then he had been. (And so I’ll never repeat this, but I think I may even like him more than Po *gasp*) All in all, Fire was amazing and I can’t wait to see what Cashore has in store with Bitterblue!

Book Review: Eyes Like Stars

Book Review: Eyes Like Stars

Book Review: Eyes Like Stars
Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev
Series: Theatre Illuminata #1
Publisher: Macmillan
Release Date: July 2009
Pages: 368

The only home that Bertie Shakespeare Smith has ever truly known is the Théâtre Illuminata. No, she's not an actress, she actually lives there. This may seem odd, but the Théâtre Illuminata is not your normal theatre. It's a place that characters from every play ever written call home, where a scene change magically happens by speaking into a headset, and where four tiny fairies can be your sidekicks. It's also a place where your main love interest can either be a dashing pirate or a seductive airy element. The Théâtre Illuminata is the only place that Bertie has ever wanted to be, but now she may just lose it all. After a stunt gone wrong, Bertie must prove that she is invaluable to the theatre. Will Bertie be able to do it or will she'll be forced to take her final bow and brave the world outside alone?

I really don’t know what I can say about this book other than I simply ADORED it. It did take a couple of pages for me to understand what was going on, but once I did I couldn’t put it down. It was fun to see my favorite Shakespeare characters come alive in a way I had never seen them before. I couldn’t help but giggle at the traits that the characters carried on and off the stage. Of course, there are plenty of smaller characters I’d never noticed before, but will never forget after reading Eyes Like Stars. (Team Nate!) And Bertie…I loved her with her blue hair and mischievous spirit. She’s the type of heroine you secretly wished you had as a best friend. She may get you into a lot of trouble, but you’d be sure to have fun along the way!

Eyes Like Stars will have you laughing, cheering, and possibly screaming at your favorite characters with every page turn. There was never a dull moment and I thoroughly enjoyed the journey with the Bertie. The only bad point? I want more NOW. As in yesterday. I seriously hate waiting and have no idea how I’ll be able to handle to a year-long wait to find out what happens next. Oh well, I guess I’ll just have to read some Shakespeare to hold me over until book two hits the shelves!

Book Review: Fragile Eternity

Book Review: Fragile Eternity

Book Review: Fragile Eternity
Fragile Eternity by Melissa Marr
Series: Wicked Lovely #3
Publisher: Harper Collins
Release Date: April 2009
Pages: 400

Seth never expected he would want to settle down with anyone—but that was before Aislinn. She is everything he'd ever dreamed of, and he wants to be with her forever. Forever takes on new meaning, though, when your girlfriend is an immortal faery queen. Aislinn never expected to rule the very creatures who'd always terrified her—but that was before Keenan. He stole her mortality to make her a monarch, and now she faces challenges and enticements beyond any she'd ever imagined. In Melissa Marr's third mesmerizing tale of Faerie, Seth and Aislinn struggle to stay true to themselves and each other in a milieu of shadowy rules and shifting allegiances, where old friends become new enemies and one wrong move could plunge the Earth into chaos.

My Thoughts

While it’s been a couple years since I’ve read Wicked Lovely (I only skimmed Ink Exchange, but do plan to go back and READ it), Marr easily pulled me back into her world of faeries. Fragile Eternity returns to Seth and Aislinn and their struggle and challenges since Wicked Lovely. I’m still no closer to loving Keenan, but I can’t help feeling sorry for him a little. He’s trapped in this unfortunate situation just as Aislinn is. I do really believe he would change the circumstances if he could…well almost. The way he manipulates Aislinn drives me batty. He comes off sweet and loving, but underneath I worry he’s just twisting her to his will.

I enjoyed meeting Sorcha and learning more about her court. I hope this will not be the last we see of the Unchangeable Queen or her realm. I felt like Marr only gave us a taste of Faerie and that there is much left to be uncovered. Though I suppose that can be said about any of the monarchs and their courts. There are so many whisperings of war and balance that the possibilities that could unfold are endless.

I will warn that there is a lot of repetition, especially when it comes to the mortality issues and the whole love triangle (square?). Aislinn is stuck in this rut of rehashing the same problems over and over as she tries to come to terms with them. Also, if you look at that big scheme of things there is no resolution for this book. However, I put my focus on Seth and his journey and wasn’t too bothered by the ending. My only real complaint in the no-resolution department is when it comes to Aislinn and Seth. Their future is much too shaky and uncertain for my likes. I fear the many paths that they could travel and where it may take them.  But I’m still holding out hope that they will get their forever.

Marr certainly seems to be setting the stage for something big and I can’t wait to see where it will go!

 

 

Book Review: Wicked Lovely

Book Review: Wicked Lovely

Book Review: Wicked Lovely
Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr
Series: Wicked Lovely #1
Publisher: Harper Collins
Release Date: 2009-10-06
Pages: 352

Rule #3: Don't stare at invisible faeries.Aislinn has always seen faeries. Powerful and dangerous, they walk hidden in mortal world. Aislinn fears their cruelty—especially if they learn of her Sight—and wishes she were as blind to their presence as other teens.

Rule #2: Don't speak to invisible faeries.Now faeries are stalking her. One of them, Keenan, who is equal parts terrifying and alluring, is trying to talk to her, asking questions Aislinn is afraid to answer.

Rule #1: Don't ever attract their attention.

But it's too late. Keenan is the Summer King who has sought his queen for nine centuries. Without her, summer itself will perish. He is determined that Aislinn will become the Summer Queen at any cost—regardless of her plans or desires.Suddenly none of the rules that have kept Aislinn safe are working anymore, and everything is on the line: her freedom; her best friend, Seth; her life; everything.Faerie intrigue, mortal love, and the clash of ancient rules and modern expectations swirl together in Melissa Marr's stunning 21st century faery tale.

My Thoughts

A friend of mine lent me this book, and within a day I had read it and wanted more. The story is of Aislinn, a girl who has seen fairies her whole life, and all the rules she had to follow in order to not let them know that she can see them. The characters in this book, stood out so beautifully. While the main focus is on Aislinn, Seth and Keenan, the other characters in the book have distinct voices, and would I believe, be able to stand on their own in a story of their own. Which they do in the following book, Ink Exchange.

The story, is amazing. It made me actually feel for Aislinn, and made me cheer for her. I felt that she would be someone I would be friends with. Keenan sounds like he would be a bit bossy, and overbearing, but Seth. Oh my Seth, he would be a wonderful boyfriend. Both sensitive and strong, and always having Aislinn’s back. I couldn’t put this book down, couldn’t stop reading it, and when it was over I wanted to re-read it. Which I did.

Book Review: Princess Academy

Book Review: Princess Academy

Book Review: Princess Academy
Princess Academy by Shannon Hale
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing USA
Release Date: 2005
Pages: 336

Mount Eskel is known for one thing; mining precious blocks of stone called Linder. Imagine everyone’s shock when the king’s priests name Mount Eskel as the home of the next princess. Surely, the lowlanders must be playing a joke on them. However, they soon find it is no joke as every eligible female is herded off to an academy to learn how to be a “proper princess”.

Miri is one of these girls. Thanks to her small statue her father has never allowed her to step inside the quarry. She has spent most of her life feeling like a burden…someone who can’t pull her own weight because of this decision. When the academy first starts, she fights against the harsh governess and her cruel tactics to keep them in line. But when a beautiful gown and first dance is promised to the head of the class, Miri finally sees her chance to make a difference. If the prince can just pick her, maybe, just maybe, she can help improve life on Mount Eskel. Of course, Miri never imagined that the stuff she would learn to be a princess could be used to reshape life at home, even without the prince. Soon, she finds herself torn between wanting to being chosen and reinventing her village. Will the prince discover that Miri is the one…if so, can she really leave the mountain that she loves so dearly?

 

My Thoughts

So first off, don’t pick up this book late at night. Otherwise, you’ll end up reading until 2 am because you simply cannot put it down. Princess Academy has easily made its way to the top of my favorite list. While at first glance, it may not seem like a book for boy, I believe there is still enough action that they could like it. In fact, one of the reasons I liked the book so much is because there is a little of something for everyone; there’s action, romance, and intelligence. Hale does a nice job showing that women can be strong, no matter what there size may be. Not only does little Miri show this through intelligence but it can be seen in others through strength and wisdom. Although I was able to pick who would be chosen, I wasn’t able to guess the reasons why. It was a nice little twist and sock to the rigid rules that royalty can have. (Or I’m just a hopeless romantic and like seeing love win.)

Book Review: Ever

Book Review: Ever

Book Review: Ever
Ever by Gail Carson Levine
Publisher: Harper Collins
Release Date: 2010-03-23
Pages: 288

Olus is the Akkan god of the winds. He is also a very lonely god. At the age of seventeen he is the youngest god (the closest one is 300 years his elder). Yearning for a friend, Olus tries to live among the mortals. After several failed attempts, his goal to find mortal company seems hopeless…that is until he meets Kenzi.

Kenzi is a beautiful fifteen year old who loves to weave rugs and dance. She seems so carefree and happy and Olus loves to waste his days away by watching her. However, Kenzi's happy life is soon shattered as she finds herself the victim of an unbreakable vow. By the end of the month her life will be sacrificed to the one and only Hyte god, Admat. The only way to save her life and thwart fate is for Olus and Kenzie to complete dangerous and near impossible tasks. Will they be able to overcome the odds to live happily ever after or will death be the only path for Kenzi?

 

 

My Thoughts

While I enjoyed Ever it is not my favorite of Levine’s books. It lacks the instant charm of some of her other works like Ella Enchanted. With Ella I was instantly hooked and in love the story and characters, but I noticed with Ever I was a quarter of the way through before I was hooked. The book at time feels a little rushed, especially when it comes to the romance. I never really feel like I know Kenzi nor Olus or truly believe their love. It does get better as the book moves along, especially with the tasks, but a lot of the book seems to be overshadowed by the religion aspect. Not only does Kenzi struggle with the concept of there being more gods than just Admat, but Olus himself often wonders if this god exists and how he relates to his world. Overall, Ever is a good read, just not one of my favorites.