Book Review: Low Red Moon


Book Review: Low Red MoonLow Red Moon by Ivy Devlin
Release Date: Sept 2010
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing USA
Pages: 192
Source: ALA

Avery Hood is now an orphan. Her parents were brutally murdered at their home; a murder that Avery witnessed. But all she can remember is flashes of silver moving inhumanly fast, and lots of blood. What exactly happened and who did it remains out of her grasp.

While nothing will ever be the same again, Avery tries to keep things semi-together by returning to school. A place where she is completely friendless--that is until Ben arrives. The new boy in town--one with a dark secret and one that she is utterly drawn to. But when she learns that Ben is a werewolf with inhuman silver eyes and no memory of the night her parents died, she doubts everything she knows about him. Could he be the mysterious killer they’re looking for? Or is it all just a case of odd coincidences? Avery holds the key to the truth...if she could just unlock her memories before time runs out

The Short of It: So, I kind of knew I’d love this one before even starting. The author has rarely let me down and definitely did not disappoint this time. The only thing I wish is that it has been a little longer.

Plot: I’m trying to be careful about the plot without ruining anything. As far as paranormals go, this was something I hadn’t really seen before. Okay, yes, werewolves are nothing new, but it was the additional elements that Devlin added in that I enjoyed. For example, the connection that Avery has to the forest? Kind of love it. And I can say that I kept switching my vote on who killed her parents. I will admit that I didn’t guess the right person, but I was so very close! There is still a lot of unanswered questions by the end of the book, especially about her grandma. I certainly hope that a sequel is in the works because I would love to see where the story leads.

Characters: Avery. I’m not sure what to really say about her. Her upbringing made her a bit different from any other YA character I’ve read before. I mean, after all, you don’t see too many main characters who have grown up secluded. Yes, I know they did go into town, but she didn’t have many friends. And being home-schooled just made her seem more isolated from her peers. However, she really acted like a normal teenager would. She was kind of down to earth and had her head on straight. And considering her parents were just murdered, that is saying quite a lot. I just wish she would have been a bit more cautious at certain times and had learned to trust the right people a little more.

Romance: This is the one spot I felt was a little weak. I would have liked to see a bit more relationship building when it came to Ben and Avery. I know that Devlin explains why they have an instant connection–especially Ben, but I would have liked to see more. I know I’m being kind of vague, but I don’t want to ruin the paranormal parts of their relationship. I will say that it has been done before, but I still enjoyed it nonetheless.

Writing: No complaints here. Devlin’s story kept me entertained throughout. I will say there were a couple of spots that I would have liked to be fleshed out more. I don’t mind being kept in the dark sometimes, and I get that’s where the mystery/suspense part comes in, but there were some parts I just wanted to know MORE. Again, I assume there is to be a sequel, but I really wish there had been just a little bit more answered in this book.

Librarian-Mode: This one will go easily with the paranormal lovers. It can be grouped easily with Shiver, Dark Divine, and the like. Although, I think those who like mystery/suspense will eat this one up as well, as long as they’re not totally turned off by paranormal.

So, now it’s your turn…have you read Low Red Moon? If so, be sure to let me know what you thought.

Book Review: Things I Know about Love


Book Review: Things I Know about LoveThings I Know About Love by Kate le Vann
Release Date: June 2010
Publisher: Egmont USA
Pages: 160
Source: ALA

Livia Stowe hasn't had the best luck when it comes to boys. She's come across those who have lied and those who have left her broken hearted when she needed them the most. But this is the summer where she hopes everything will change. After finally beating her battle with cancer, she has convinced her mom to let her spend the summer with her brother in the States. This was to be the summer about inner reflection and figuring out the things she has known about love through her private blog. And while she is endlessly talking about love, she never thought that a holiday love would happen to her. Not until Adam that is. If she can just grab his attention, this may become the best holiday ever. If only Livia can move beyond writing about love and risk the chance to experience it...

The Short of It: I adored this book…until the end. Really, honestly, until the last 20 pages or so. I kind of suspected it was going to end the way it did, but I had high hopes that I was wrong. When I figured out I was right, I literally threw the book across the room and left it there for a while. I did end up finishing it, but the ending really did disappoint me. And although I didn’t cry, I would recommend having some tissues close on hand.

Plot: I liked the plot. Really I did. Or at least I did until the last 20 pages or so. I love the idea of a girl truly reflecting on love and taking it seriously. It’s not about bad boys or quick, unrealistic or unhealthy love. It was still a bit quick, but she had met him before and sometimes first impressions can be very strong. She learned from her past mistakes, no matter how small they were, and took them into account as she moved forward. I will admit, that most seventeen girls do not think this way, but I wish they would! This book has one of the more healthier messages I’ve seen in YA in regards to romance.

Now, I really wish she had been wiser when it came to the rest of her life. She should have ignored the things that she did. As a cancer survivor, I think she would have planned things just a bit more safe. However, I do understand as a young girl tasting her first chance at freedom in years would get carried away. I only wish Le Vann wouldn’t have felt it necessary to end it as she had. I’m sure some of my opinion on this area is that I’m a sap for happily-ever-afters, but the larger part of me felt like it was a ill-fit. She could have done so many other things and the ending just felt too fast, a tad forced, and unrealistic.

Characters: Livia is a very likable character. I was reminded of my own seventeen year old self and could easy relate to her. (Ok, so my twenty-something self can as well.) I was right with her as she tried to figure out something that is completely illogical and irrational…love. Her stories were ones that any normal girl could see herself in. Haven’t we all had a boy twist the truth to make himself look more favorable? Or leave us when we least expected it? Even her lists and final conclusions were honest and raw. Her view on a possible holiday romance was refreshing and I truly enjoyed my journey with her.

Romance: The moment Adam entered the picture, I knew he would be perfect for Livia. Normally, I’m not sure I would approve of the age gap for someone that young, but it really didn’t bother me in this case. Perhaps it was because I was excited to see a truly realistic boy for once. One that was incredibly sweet and kind, but that wasn’t sure of his footing. It was refreshing to see a boy’s doubts as he worries about missed chances, perfect dates, and falling in love. It was cute how their thoughts echoed each other almost perfectly. And even if the romance didn’t last forever, it was a nice reminder that love can hit without any warning when you least expect it.

Writing: I really enjoyed the blog style that Le Vann chose to use. It gave it a more personal, story-telling effect without feeling overwhelming. Yes, there wasn’t necessarily a lot of dialogue, but it worked well in this case. After all, the story was more about Livia and what she has learned about love than an actual love story. It’s her personal thoughts and reflections on the things she has already experienced in order to help with what she will someday experience. This book was her facts and no one else’s, so a blog seemed the perfect way to go. I am glad, though, that Le Vann decided to have Adam do a blog as well. It was nice to see his perspective and his voice added quite a bit to the story, in more ways than one. His thoughts truly made the story richer and may just be the reason that the blog style really worked in this book. I never felt like I needed more or that I was missing pieces of the story/inner thoughts of someone else. And while I may have hated the ending of this book, I would love to read something else by her.

Librarian-Mode: Hands down I think this book will fit the best with those who love Lurlene McDaniel. You may also try recommending it to those who enjoyed Sing Me To Sleep as well. Simply put, those who love those sappy, tear-jerker endings will adore this one.

So, now it’s your turn…have you read Things I Know About Love? If so, be sure to let me know what you thought.

 

Book Review: The Ghost and the Goth


Book Review: The Ghost and the GothGhost and the Goth, The by Stacey Kade
Release Date: July 2010
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Pages: 288
Source: ALA

After a close encounter with a bus, Alona Dare goes from homecoming queen to Queen of the Dead. She's stuck as a ghost in the land of the living with no sign of the big, bright light to take her to a better place. To make matters worse, the only person who might be able to help her is Will Killian, a total loser outcast. More than anything, Will wishes he didn't have the rare ability to communicate with the dead, especially the former mean girl of Groundsboro High

The Short of It: Interesting concept that held my attention throughout the entire book. There were times that it moved a little slow, but this was mainly when Kade was getting important/relevant background info in. I was pretty excited to learn there will be more books with these two and cannot wait to see their story develop more.

Plot: So, this brings “I see dead people” to a whole new level. Poor Will. While I love to go “ghost hunting”, I can safely say that I would never want his ability. I mean, to hear all those people talking around you whenever you’re in public. How could you honestly NOT go crazy? And of course, he can’t really tell anyone for fear they’ll think he really should be in a mental ward. I have no idea how he made it as long as he did and still stayed reasonably sane. Like I understand his little tricks worked, but how was he ever able to concentrate on school and not hear what was being said? I enjoyed how Alona was able to come in and basically save the day. I figured she would be important, but I never guessed how important she would be. Of course, I don’t think they knew either. After all, Will had spent his whole life avoiding the dead and all Alona wanted was the bright lights. I’m anxious to see how their roles will continue to develop as the series progresses.

Characters: Poor, poor Will. I really did feel sorry for him. Most people thought he was a freak of nature, well, ok maybe he is a little. After all, he can see dead people. However, he isn’t just some goth kid who enjoys wearing black and talking about death. Honestly, he’s just misunderstood. Yes, he’s sarcastic and aloof, but that’s his defense mechanism. As long as people generally leave him alone, he doesn’t care what they think. His main goal is to survive high school and move to where there are less people and less of the dead. It was heartwarming to see how he cared and his few friends and his mom, especially his mom. He would bend over backwards to make his mom happy and on several occasions resisted a fight because he can see how much it wears on his mom. And once you got down to who Will really was, he was a pretty cool guy, one I would easily love to have in my life.

Oh, Alona. Make way for another misunderstood character. Yes, she may be miss popular and look like everything is perfect, but it truly isn’t. Once you learn what her life is really like, you can’t help but have a little sympathy for her. After all, no teen should have to deal with the home life she had. But that’s when she was alive. I’m not sure that death has been all that much kinder to her. I mean, being hit by a bus…ouch! Not to mention, she got to see people’s true colors once they thought she was gone. And the comments she heard and actions she witnessed were probably things that no one would want to hear or see. However, death and Will acted as a small wake-up for her. She was used to being blunt and even mean, but the problem was she didn’t see it that way. When she told someone their sweater was ugly, she was trying to help by getting them to care more. Good intentions, but totally wrong way to do it. In death, she has to learn to say nicer things. (There is a reason but I won’t say why.) She learns how to be honest in more gentle fashion. I also enjoyed that she wasn’t just some dumb blonde. Alona proved time and time again how strong and intelligent she was. It was fun to see Alona grow into someone with much more character and I am excited to see how she continues to transform as their story continues.

Romance: This one is a little…odd. I don’t know how else to describe it. After all, Alona is dead. And while the dead do have a solid substance when they’re near Will so that they can touch and what not, but um still dead. Yet, despite all that I still kind of rooted for something to develop between them. After all, Will has been crushing on her since they were in the sixth grade and, well, being the only living being to see her kind of gives him the advantage. In all seriousness, while there are some sparks flying, at this point it was more about a friendship and getting beyond their old stereotypes to the point of actually caring about each other.

Writing: Another alternating view point book. I’ve read TONS of these lately and I’m discovering that I really like them. I enjoy being able to step into both main characters’ points of view. Adds a whole new depth to what is happening, especially when they’re not together. And the alternating chapters keeps the story from jumping all over the place. Of course, it does annoy me a little. There were times I had wanted to stay with Alona or Will a bit longer and was instead thrown into the other POV.

On the story telling front, Kade does an excellent job. I had this book for months before reading it because initially hadn’t caught my attention. And, honestly, I may have passed it up all together had it not been for some of the buzz going around. I was pulled into the story within the first few chapters and had a hard time putting it down on occasion. In fact, I had a temptation to skip an author event to finish up the book…or at the very least read the whole way there and ignore the person driving. (I promise I did neither!) All in all, this one ended up a very pleasant surprise indeed.

Librarian-Mode: Hmmm, I think one is going to go well with the paranormal readers. Yes, it’s not your typical werewolves or vampires, but ghosts are just as much fun! I would say that those who liked Once Dead, Twice Shy or Shiver would enjoy this one as well. There are still romantic undertones in this one (as with any good paranormal read), but it isn’t your straight out romance. I think the romance-crazed readers will like it as well, but it may be a harder sell for them.

So, now it’s your turn…have you read The Ghost and the Goth? If so, be sure to let me know what you thought.

Book Review: The Rise of Renegade X


Book Review: The Rise of Renegade XThe Rise of Renegade X by Chelsea M. Campbell
Release Date: May 2010
Publisher: Egmont USA
Pages: 356
Source: ALA

Damien’s 16th birthday was supposed to be a happy occasion. It should have been the day that he finally got his V and head onto Vilmore to become the supervillain. But imagine his surprise when instead of the V an X appears on his thumb, an undeniable sign that his villain mother had hooked up with a superhero. And if that weren’t bad enough, when he learns which superhero is his father, Damien is forced to go live with him and his superhero family. Given six weeks to prove to his father that there’s not an ounce of superhero in him, Damien will do anything to get back to the life he knew. But along the way he may just find that each decision leads him down a road he could have never expected.  Will Damien find himself slipping into the superhero lifestyle? Or will he be able to prove once and for all that he is all villain and turn that X into a V?

The Short of It: Adored it. I’ve been wanting to read this book since I first saw the cover/heard the description last year and I’m kicking myself for waiting so long to do so. I can’t say enough good things about this one. And can I mention that Campbell throws in some of the best lines ever? I’ve been going around quoting my favorite one-liners since finishing (and probably will be for some time!)

Plot: I don’t think I’ve read anything quite like The Rise of Renegade X. I mean, sure, we’ve all sort of grown up on superhero comics/cartoons/movies, but this one is a little different. I felt like Campbell managed to pull a true sense to humanity to these larger than life characters, especially the supervillains. I enjoyed Damien’s struggle between becoming the villain he feels he was meant to be and doing what he believed was right. Of course, doing what he believed was right was not always about doing good or being a hero. It was about what his convictions led him to and proved how many shades of gray there really is in this world. But I also liked the message that one incident doesn’t define who you are. Just because you save the world doesn’t mean you’ll be a hero. Yes, it may put you one step (ok LEAP) closer, but there will be many more forks in the road and choices down the line that can change or redeem you.

Okay, I just realized I made this plot sound a lot more serious than it truly is. Yes, all this issue is touched upon a lot as Damien is struggling with his future, but there is TONS of fun and laughter mixed in. In fact, I’m betting you’ll notice the quirky girl, the dancing flower, and funny quips more than you will the other stuff. Okay, that may be a slight overstatement, but Campbell really does do an excellent job with mixing it all together.

Characters: Ah, Damien. There are moments where I wanted to shake the boy senseless, but most of the time I just wanted to give him a hug. I mean, one very small letter on his thumb literally changed his life upside down. Had it only gone the way it was supposed to and he would be on his way to becoming a supervillain at Vilmore. Instead, he got ripped from everything he knew and thrown into a new goody-good family. Yet, perhaps that was the best thing that happened to him, especially when you see how his home life really was. His mom wouldn’t exactly be winning any mother-of-the-year awards. Every time he went home I just wanted to give him cookies with milk and tell him it’d be ok.

On the other hand, Damien proves often enough that he doesn’t need that. He may be feeling lonely and unwanted, but he still knows who he is. He’s not afraid to risk his life for those he loves…and sometimes those he may not even know. Sure, maybe he won’t be the big, awful supervillain but I’m not sure he was ever meant to be. He always had this line that he couldn’t cross and no amount of training would have changed that. I was glad to see that sense of his right and wrong didn’t change through all he had to go through. He may have learned it wasn’t his mother’s or father’s right or wrongs, but they were his and that was enough.

Romance: Honestly, this is the hardest part for me to write about. There was romance, but there wasn’t. Does that make sense? What he has with Sarah isn’t really a relationship, even if they do produce some of the best lines. I think they both felt something for each other, but it never would have truly made it. She saw him as something he wasn’t. However, when it comes to Kat, well, that is where Damien’s heart belonged. And oddly enough, though she wasn’t in the a lot of the book, I found myself routing for a hot make-out session leading to undying love between them. Do I know why? No clue, but there’s was something about them that I loved almost instantaneously, even if she did kind of screw things up before. Maybe it was just how well she truly seemed to know him and was willing to admit the horrible mistake she made. Or maybe I’m just a sap for second chances. Either way kudos to Campbell for making me love unsafe, kind of in the background romance.

Writing: I really enjoyed Campbell’s style. I know I’ve mentioned the quotable one-liners, but it deserves yet another mention. Of course, I’m an odd girl and some of the ones I found funny others may not. As a D&D girl, there was a tabletop game reference that had me rolling. Beyond that, Campbell knows how to spin a good story. There were a couple of spots that the pacing felt a tad bit off, but it’s hardly worth mentioning. I can’t wait to see Campbell’s future work. I have a feeling she’ll just get better and better.

Librarian-Mode: So, this is definitely one I’ll be recommending to my teens this summer. In fact, it’s already on my recommended book list for High Schoolers that will be viewed by all my summer reading participants. However, I’m kind of stumped on what to pair it with. I’ve been pondering a couple different pairings like John Green or the Looking Glass Wars but I’m not quite sure they’re quite right. I can’t even think of any other superhero books beyond Hero by Perry Moore. And while they have some similar themes, I’m really don’t think they would work together. If you all have any good read-a-like suggestions I would love to hear them.

So, now it’s your turn…have you read The Rise of Renegade X? If so, be sure to let me know what you thought.

Book Review: Radiant Shadows


Book Review: Radiant ShadowsRadiant Shadows by Melissa Marr
Series: Wicked Lovely #4
Release Date: April 2010
Publisher: Harper Collins
Pages: 368
Source: ALA

One decision can change everything. One order not followed, an act of mercy, will have an effect that no one could have foreseen. Surely, Devlin could have never guessed how special Ani would be. Ani, a half blood, is unlike any other Faery alive. She is driven by hunger of both the flesh and emotions. A hunger that keeps her from living peacefully in the mortal world like her siblings, but not quite strong enough to truly be part of the Hunt or Dark Court like her father. Yet, it's an ability that no one else has ever possessed and it's drawing unwanted attention, including attention from Devlin. Of course, their next meeting will be much different from the first, and this time it'll be a kiss that changes everything. The start of an attraction that could bloom into more, if they can stay alive and outrun the danger that surrounds them. But if they can, they may find out that they were meant for each other and that that fact could change the Faery Courts forever.

 

The Short of It: Radiant Shadows is my favorite Faery Court/Wicked Lovely book to date. I was sucked into Ani’s life immediately and was quite sad to leave it. I read this one back in January and to be honest, I’ve been itching to reread it ever since, which is something I rarely ever do. In fact, I can count on one hand the number of books I’ve reread, yet, this one may still join that elite list as I impatiently wait for book 5 next year.

Plot: Ok, first things first, Radiant Shadows is Ani and Devlin’s story. Yes, Ash, Keenan, and Seth all make an appearance, but this book is not the continuation of their story. In fact, I would say it really is more of a continuation of Ink Exchange. I will admit that I read Radiant Shadows before Ink Exchange, so it can be done, I just wouldn’t recommend it. Ink Exchange is where you first meet Ani, plus the knowledge of the Dark Court really helps you understand what Ani is going through, especially when you take her special ability into account. I really enjoyed seeing Ani and Devlin both grow as characters. In the previous books they kind of annoyed or irritated me, something that was in the background, but now they’re real and fleshed out. It’s kind of hard to really talk about this plot without giving anything away. Instead, I’m only going to say I absolutely adore how Marr is pulling all the different elements of all the books together. I knew they were both going to hold an important place in the courts, but I never would have guessed how it really ended up being. And I love how one simple action can change so much. If Devlin had done what Sorcha asked when Ani was young, I’m afraid to see how much trouble the Faery Courts would be in right now. Sorcha is so unbalanced since changing Seth that she can barely rule. If not for Devlin or Ani, I’m certain that Bananach would have tore about the High Court…and the rest of the courts for that matter! This book is definitely about returning balance to a world that was quickly becoming chaos.

Characters: Ani. Ani. Ani. What could I possible say about Ani beyond that I easily adore her. She swiftly made herself my favorite character of the series. I love her spunk and courage, not to mention the love and unselfishness she has when it comes to those she loves. I don’t think I’ve ever rooted for a character as much as I have for Ani. I hated what Irial was doing to her, but loved she was willing to do it to save her court. And my heart so went out to her as we got a glimpse of her loneliness caused by not belonging to either world; she was too faerie to live as a mortal, but not faerie enough to be part of the Hunt. Of course, I also love her namesake, Ani Difranco, and Ani-the-character was almost the embodiment of Difranco’s music. It’s hard to explain, but it was as if Ani’s soul was an echo of Difranco’s music; so much so that I’m itching to create a playlist to go along with the book.

Devlin. Wow, Devlin really shined in this book. In Fragile Eternity, I thought he was a major, cold-hearted jerk and hated when he appeared on the page, but my opinion has done a complete 180. I never really realized how lonely he must be himself. Sorcha would never truly love him, he was an instrument to do her bidding and add a certain balance to their world. He watched as she doted on others, but never him. It was heartwarming to see how he treated Ani and Rae. He would have literally done anything to protect both of them…and really did for Ani. I also liked seeing him break the rigid formal attitude he had in the previous book. It was kind of fun watching him bend, break, and shatter the rules that had been previously been placed on him. I can’t wait to see where his fate takes him as I have a feeling there are still big things awaiting him.

Romance: Ani and Devlin’s romance isn’t your normal romance. After all, if Ani gets carried away feeding off him physically and emotionally she could easily kill him. However, at the same time it is hot! They were absolutely the perfect match for each other. Something about them just clicked right away and seemed to work so well. Although, to be honest, I’m not sure anyone else could have handled them; no one else could have satisfied their needs and allowed them to escape the chains that were holding them back. I also enjoyed seeing how protective each could be of the other, even though they were both strong faeries, their protectiveness came when it was needed the most. I could easily go on and on about how much I love this couple, but instead I’ll simply say they’ve become one of my favorite couples second only to Niall and Irial.

Writing: Man, what is there to say here? Marr’s writing continues to surprise me. I always think that surely she can’t top her previous book and she continues to prove me wrong. When I first picked up Wicked Lovely I could have never guessed this is where she would have taken the story. She is masterfully pulling all the different stories and plot lines together with supreme grace. They way she slowly reveals a little more of her master plan with each book is both tantalizing and torture. I’m so anxious to see how it will end that it’s not even funny. (How will I ever make it a year?!) It’s no wonder that Marr is one of my favorite YA authors!

Librarian-Mode: Ok, I must confess that this is the hardest part for me. I haven’t read other faerie books so I can’t necessarily lump it in with those. I do tend to recommend this one a lot to my fantasy-loving teens, though. It usually gets lumped in with my other favorites such as City of Bones and Graceling. I know the styles of all three books are very different, but I have found some teens who have liked all three. Marr’s books are a little darker than the other two, so the recommendation may not work for all. You may also want to consider Holly Black’s Modern Faery’s Tale Series. I would love to hear if anyone else has some read-a-likes that I can add to my list.

So, now it’s your turn…have you read Radiant Shadows? If so, be sure to let me know what you thought.