November 18th, 2009

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!

November 16th, 2009

Book Review: Candle Man: The Society of the Unrelenting Vigilance

Book Review: Candle Man: The Society of the Unrelenting Vigilance
The Society of Unrelenting Vigilance by Glenn Dakin
Series: Candle Man #1
Publisher: Egmont USA
Release Date: Sept. 2009
Pages: 312
Source: Publisher

Theo's life has been ruled by the number three. Thanks to a mysterious "illness", he has found himself in the care of three people who rarely allow him beyond his three locked rooms. The only time he's let out of his rooms is on his birthday, which is usually only to walk around a graveyard. Yet, this last birthday, promises to change everything. His life is about to be shaken up like the snow in the odd snow globe left by an unknown person. Theo can sense that there's someone out there that knows more about him, but will they have the answers that will finally unlock the truth? Or will he just be trapped in a new sort of prison?

 

 

The Short of It: I’m still not sure what to think about Candle Man. I enjoyed it overall, but often found myself frustrated by not knowing what the heck was going on. Even so, I’m pretty sure I’ll pick up book two once it’s out to see where Dakin takes it.

Plot: If I had to sum up the plot for Candle Man in one word it would be complicated! Half the time I had no idea what was happening or how it would all tie together. There are a lot of characters and plot twists that a reader has to keep track of. I was never quite sure who to trust, who the good guys were, and what the heck Theo was/what was happening to him. Ok, so maybe I did figure those things out along the way, but there were times I wanted to doubt that the good guys were really the good guys. And really, I still kind of have my doubts and will be interested to see where Dakin takes the series.

Characters: Honestly, I didn’t have a strong like or dislike to most of characters. No instant BFFs here. Theo has been shut up since birth and really has no concept of how to interact with others normally. (Does anyone know how old Theo is?!) He’s pretty socially awkward and relies heavily on good manner books that Dr. Saint has given him over the years. I can see a lot of potential in what Theo can be, but right now I really still see him as an infant. He has a couple of choices of roads he can travel and that could drastically change him. It will be interesting to see how much of his innocence is sapped away as he’s pushed into a role he doesn’t seem to truly want.

And then there is Chloe. Talk about a girl with a lot of spunk that is not afraid to leap. She’s the one that I’m most looking forward to getting to know more. There are still a lot of secrets surrounding Chloe (and most of the other characters) and I hope Dakin continues to unravel them. I was kind of sad when her presence left and really wished she had been around more. (Trying to be careful about how much I say here) I can only hope Book One is not the last we see of her!

Romance: None. Theo has a hard enough time trying to deal with normal human interactions let alone a romance! I could see a possible hint of one though, but we’ll see if it actually goes that way in the up-coming books.

Writing: Writing is very simplistic, but then Candle Man is aimed at a younger audience. I’ve read my fair share of JUV books and Dakin fits solidly among them. The writing is easy enough that 4th & 5th graders will be able to read it but still something older kids will enjoy. The only thing that really bothered me was the “That’s so nice of you, Mr. Nicely” & “Very saintly of you, Dr. Saint”. The first time I saw it I kind of chuckled, but after that it got kind of annoying. I was glad that Dakin did seem to use it less frequently as the story moved along.

Librarian-Mode: On the back of the book they mentioned Percy Jackson, but I’m not sure that Candle Man quite falls into the same category. Some Percy Jackson fans may like it, but I have a feeling it would do better among those who like Series of Unfortunate Events or The Mysterious Benedict Society. Those who love mysteries and lots of fast-paced steam punk action will love this book.

Ok, now it’s your turn! Have you read Candle Man? If so, what did you think?

 

 

September 7th, 2009

Book Review: Catching Fire

Book Review: Catching Fire
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Series: Hunger Games #2
Publisher: Scholastic Inc.
Release Date: Sep. 2009
Pages: 400
Source: ALA

Life should be perfect and carefree now that Katniss and Peeta won the Hunger Games, right? Walking out alive? Check. Never worrying about money/shelter again? Check. Happiness and Bliss? Houston, we have a problem! The Capital is not happy about Katniss and Peeta's win and is viewing it as an act of defiance. Add in the hushed whispers of an uprising, and all hell is about to break loose. Katniss and Peeta know they will be the ones blamed for the chaos. Will they be able to appease the Capital and restore compliance among the districts? Or will this finally be the chance to take down the oppressive government? Catching Fire, the sequel to Hunger Games, is sure to leave you on the edge of your seat and wanting more.

 

I’m not going to do a review-review for this book because it’s so hard to do a proper one without giving anything away. And I really don’t want to mess around with spoiler spaces or anything like that. Plus, I have some exciting news to announce that ties in perfectly with this book & my low-key review. (So that means read to the very end!)

First things first, the review; this book can be summed up in one simple word. WOW. Just…wow. I went into Catching Fire with very high expectations and I was sure that Collins would never be able to live up to them. Boy, was I wrong! This book is exceptionally written and was better than I could have ever imagined. I had had some thoughts about where she could take the storyline, but I never expected the twists she threw in. Although, I do have to admit that at first I was very taken back by what she did. I thought it was overly convenient and too easy, but the more I thought about it the more I realized how perfect it was. It was spot-on on how the government thought and how they took action.

The love-triangle is, of course, still there. I enjoyed being able to see more of Gale, although, it was still not enough. I think I’m also falling more and more in love with Peeta. He has totally won my heart over and may be becoming one of my favorite characters. (But I’m still Team GALE!) I can totally sympathize with Katniss as she continues to try to deal with such a complicated and delicate situation. She was thrown into something as a way to win a game and now untangling her emotions is becoming so hard. I doubt I would be handling it as nicely if I were in the same situation.

And, sadly, this is where my review must stop. I’m too worried that I may give away something I shouldn’t! Besides, if I tell you everything now, there would be nothing to discuss at the first YA book group meeting that is being held by Michelle and myself! The Literary League (Read ‘Til YA Drop) will begin online discussion of Catching Fire on Sept 22nd and will end with a Skype talk the weekend of Oct 4th. I’ll be posting more info/details as it gets closer. I look forward to seeing all of you there!

May 8th, 2009

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!

 

 

April 7th, 2009

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.

April 6th, 2009

Book Review: City of Glass

Book Review: City of Glass
City of Glass by Cassandra Clare
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Release Date: March 2009
Pages: 560

A few months ago, Clary was a normal girl leading a normal life. But the moment she met Jace her world turned upside down. She was plunged into a life that had been hidden from her, a world of demons, Shadowhunters, and other Downwordly things. While she knows that nothing will ever be the same again, the only thing she can think about is saving her mom from a magical coma. To do this she must go to Idris…the City of Glass.

The plan was simple. She was to go to Idris with Jace and the Lightwoods, but when they leave without her everything changes. Clary doesn’t care that she doesn’t know the magic to open a portal or that she doesn’t have permission to enter. The only thing that matters is saving her mom. Of course, once she gets there things go from bad to worse when she discovers that Jace doesn’t want her in Idris and that Simon (her best friend) has been locked away in the Shadowhunter prison. Her only bright spot is her new ally, a mysterious Shadowhunter named Sebastian. She finds herself instantly drawn to her dark prince lookalike; he’s no Jace, but perhaps he could be the next best thing?

As Clary’s quest continues, she finds herself in a tangled web of family secrets about experiments, magic, and cruelty. The truths about her father, mother, and the world she never knew was not what she had ever expected. But as the lies begin to unravel, Clary may just have all she needs to save her mom, to make old enemies into allies, and to have her heart’s true desire.

 

My Thoughts

All over, I really enjoyed this book. It was not my favorite in the series by far, but it was an enjoyable wrap up to the series. Before I go into complaints, I have to get my YAYs out of the way. So…YAY Alec and Magnus and YAY Luke and Jocelyn. Ok, now the complaints, which really I have very few of. I suppose my main one is the end felt so rushed. We had been building to this moment over the past three books and if you blinked…well then you missed it. It felt too easy in a way. I’m not saying that I expected a 200 page fight were every one dies, I just wanted more. It was like BAM, we’re done kthanxbai. And to be honest, I’m not exactly sure HOW she defeated Valentine. I know that she somehow changed the rune of the ritual, but I’m not sure if I understand how that bound her to the ritual. Can anyone help a poor girl out? It’s been a while since I’ve read the other two and I’m not sure if I’m just forgetting something from them.

The only other thing that bothered me is that the Jace-Clary relationship and the lack of tension. Okay, so I guess I shouldn’t say lack of tension, because it was still there but it was very off. I was still locked into the frantic page turning for another scene with them, but felt less satisfied about it. I fully understand that Jace was trying to push her away as far as possible, but shouldn’t that have just increased the tension? Their final scenes were very sweet though and made me happy over all. (Okay, but I still wanted more!)

February 20th, 2009

Book Review: Betrayed

Book Review: Betrayed
Betrayed by Kristin Cast, P.C. Cast
Publisher: Macmillan
Release Date: October 2007
Pages: 320

Fledgling vampyre Zoey Redbird has managed to settle in at the House of Night.  She's come to terms with the vast powers the vampyre goddess, Nyx, has given her, and is getting a handle on being the new Leader of the Dark Daughters. Best of all, Zoey finally feels like she belongs--like she really fits in. She actually has a boyfriend...or two. Then the unthinkable happens: Human teenagers are being killed, and all the evidence points to the House of Night. While danger stalks the humans from Zoey's old life, she begins to realize that the very powers that make her so unique might also threaten those she loves. Then, when she needs her new friends the most, death strikes the House of Night, and Zoey must find the courage to face a betrayal that could break her heart, her soul, and jeopardize the very fabric of her world.

 

After reading the first book in this series, Marked, I knew that I would have to pick up the next installment. And boy, oh boy am I glad I did. This book had it all, suspense and mystery, with a touch of romance and realism. I like Zoey’s character much more in this book, because she seemed so normal.

Zoey had finally gotten used to everything at the House of Night. Her circle of friends was strong, and her reign as the leader of the Dark Daughters, while making her nervous, was going well. Her love life was confusing. But then again what teenage girl’s isn’t? She had both the yummy Erik Night and her ex-almost boyfriend Heath fighting over her. Even though sometimes she’s not sure if it’s really Heath, or his blood that she is attracted too.

Then everything seems to be going wrong. Some human boys that she knew from school wind up missing, and then later are found as dead. Zoey believes that nobody from House of Night would do that, but all the signs are pointing towards them. Zoey’s best friend, Stevie Rae, is getting sick. And when Heath ends up missing as well, Zoey knows that it’s time to step in and get to the bottom of this mystery.

December 29th, 2008

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.)

December 26th, 2008

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.