Archive for April, 2011
by Lauren Kate Series: Fallen #1
in 2009 Genres: Fantasy
, YA Pages:
452 Source: Library Goodreads
There’s something achingly familiar about Daniel Grigori.
Mysterious and aloof, he captures Luce Price’s attention from the moment she sees him on her first day at the Sword & Cross boarding school in sultry Savannah, Georgia. He’s the one bright spot in a place where cell phones are forbidden, the other students are all screw-ups, and security cameras watch every move.
Even though Daniel wants nothing to do with Luce–and goes out of his way to make that very clear–she can’t let it go. Drawn to him like a moth to a flame, she has to find out what Daniel is so desperate to keep secret . . . even if it kills her.
It took me a very long time to pick this book up. I’d seen it around the blogosphere for a while but after reading the blurb I hesitated. I’m not much one to go in for true love stories. I’d like to believe in it, but I’m so skeptical that it has to be really well done for me to buy into it. Now that I’ve read the book, I can honestly say I’m glad I did. Kate did a very good job of setting up the romance without overdoing things, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Probably my favorite part of the book was the setting. I have a weakness for boarding school stories (Harry Potter anyone?) and I love the dark atmosphere at Sword and Cross. At the same time, that darkness is mixed with the St. Trinian’s type attitude of the students, making for a very interesting overall read.
My only complaint, and it’s not really a complaint at all, is that I wanted to see more of Luce gradually falling for Daniel. The exposition happened so quickly that I didn’t quite trust Luce’s infatuation with him – it felt more like puppy love than true love to me. On the other hand, Luce gradually falling would probably have ruined the story because Daniel would have caught on and pushed her away or left. Kind of a Catch-22 really.
Final verdict: This is a must read for fans of Nightshade, Twilight and other paranormal romances. I am so excited to get my hands on the next book!
Media Type: Feature Film
Director: Tim Hill
My Review: This is just going to be a really short collection of opinions, as it’s been more than a week and I’m a bit behind on reviews.
First of all, let’s be honest about what this film is. In essence, it’s Alvin and the Chipmunks, minus the singing. Not that that’s a bad thing, I enjoyed Alvin and the Chipmunks, it was very cute. But I do get slightly annoyed when someone goes “Hey, this film did really well, let’s change one little thing, and BAM we’ll have an instant best-seller!” (<—that’s actually a major reduction of what happens. I think Hop was slightly more original than that. But it still annoys me that this is probably what happened).
Second, bunnies are cute. So is James Marsden. Automatic plus for me =)
Third, I didn’t laugh at many of the jokes, but I can see how a kid (the original intended audience) might. And the jokes that I laughed at, well, I laughed pretty hard.
Fourth, yeah, I’d recommend the movie, especially to anyone with small children or looking for a reminder of their childhood. No, I probably won’t ever watch it again, if given the choice of a new film.
OK, so now comes the part where I apologize profusely for not posting often enough. See, funny story, I got a job. And while it’s only part time, until school’s over, I usually have 12 hour days and by the time I get home at 10, all I want to do is drop into bed and sleep. But I am 5 reviews behind at the moment, and I promise as soon as I get a free minute I will write them up and you will have them! Thanks so much for sticking with me!
A Tale of Two Castles
by Gail Carson Levine Series: A Tale of Two Castles #1 Published by HarperTeen
in 2011 Genres: Fantasy
, MG Pages:
328 Source: NetGalley Goodreads
Twelve-year-old Elodie dreams of becoming a mansioner--an actress. She journeys across the sea to the town of Two Castles in hopes of becoming an apprentice to a mansioning troupe, but things do not go according to plan. In spite of Elodie's great talent, the troupe already has plenty of apprentices. Elodie is out of luck: She has no money, no apprenticeship, and no home.
But an opportunity arises. The wise dragon Meenore is in need of an assistant to proclaim ITs powers of deduction and induction. Elodie is in need of a position. And so she becomes the dragon's assistant. When the town's hated ogre, Count Jonty Um, seeks the dragon's help in finding his stolen dog, Elodie is sent to the ogre's castle to get to the bottom of the mystery. More is afoot than just a missing dog. The ogre is in grave danger, and Elodie must use her mansioning skills and her powers of deduction to discover the source of the threat.
I have loved Gail Carson Levine for a very long time. Ever since I read Ella Enchanted back in elementary school I knew I had to read anything I could manage. So, when I saw this book up on NetGalley for review, I jumped at the chance.
I will admit, I’ve grown out of MG novels, in general. Even when I was the right age for them, I was very picky – I hated books that were condescending (or that I thought were condescending) just because they were geared toward a younger audience. Levine never does that, and that was why I loved her. And I still love her, but it did take me a while to readjust to a MG novel after not reading any for many years.
This book did not disappoint. Levine sets up her cast of interesting characters well, leaving just enough mystery to keep us interested. I particularly enjoyed the character of Meenore – hints of Sherlock Holmes ran through it’s characterization, but they all seemed to fit really well. I also really enjoyed the juxtaposition of the “monsters” and the “people” and how the definitions of both change through the book.
But the best thing about this book for me, was the story. I genuinely enjoyed this book simply for the pleasure of hearing a story told (or reading one, rather). I enjoyed the twists and turns of the mystery, felt sorry for Jonty Um the ogre, and felt hurt with Elodie. This book was pure fun all the way through, and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a decent story!
The Ghost and the Goth
by Stacey Kade Series: The Ghost and the Goth #1 Published by Hyperion
in 2010 Genres: Fantasy
, YA Pages:
281 Source: Library Goodreads
Alona Dare–Senior in high school, co-captain of the cheerleading squad, Homecoming Queen three years in a row, voted most likely to marry a movie star… and newly dead.
I’m the girl you hated in high school. Is it my fault I was born with it all-good looks, silky blond hair, a hot bod, and a keen sense of what everyone else should not be wearing? But my life isn’t perfect, especially since I died. Run over by a bus of band geeks—is there anything more humiliating? As it turns out, yes—watching your boyfriend and friends move on with life, only days after your funeral. And you wouldn’t believe what they’re saying about me now that they think I can’t hear them. To top it off, I’m starting to disappear, flickering in and out of existence. I don’t know where I go when I’m gone, but it’s not good. Where is that freaking white light already?
Will Killian–Senior in high school, outcast, dubbed “Will Kill” by the popular crowd for the unearthly aura around him, voted most likely to rob a bank…and a ghost-talker.
I can see, hear, and touch the dead. Unfortunately, they can also see, hear and touch me. Yeah, because surviving high school isn’t hard enough already. I’ve done my best to hide my “gift.” After all, my dad, who shared my ability, killed himself because of it when I was fifteen. But lately, pretending to be normal has gotten a lot harder. A new ghost—an anonymous, seething cloud of negative energy with the capacity to throw me around—is pursuing me with a vengeance. My mom, who knows nothing about what I can do, is worrying about the increase in odd incidents, my shrink is tossing around terms like “temporary confinement for psychiatric evaluation,” and my principal, who thinks I’m a disruption and a faker, is searching for every way possible to get rid of me. How many weeks until graduation?
I started this one looking for a light fluffy read. After the trouble I had (and shouldn’t have had) with The Iron Thorn I knew I needed something different. This book certainly had a different feel to it, but it wasn’t the fluff piece I was expecting.
Firstly, I loved the characters. Alona may have been so far from who I was in High School, but I could really relate to her in ways that sometimes don’t work for cheerleader types in stories. Plus I found Will, also very different from me, and the type of person I hung out with, extremely attractive. I have a new book boyfriend! (added to about 100 others, but they don’t know so it’s ok! lol)
I also found the story very engaging. It was kind of a cross between Nevermore and Just Like Heaven (this really cute RomCom with Reese Witherspoon and the guy from 13 going on 30). I love the idea of people who are meant to be together and end up getting a second chance – for a while I was obsessed with the movie The Lake House because I love that kind of storyline. I’m so excited to see where she takes this one, though, since the second chance seems doomed to failure simply because Alona is dead.
In the end, I would definitely recommend this to anyone open to the idea of paranormal romance. It’s so fun, and yet so meaningful at the same time!
The Last Little Blue Envelope
by Maureen Johnson Series: Little Blue Envelope #2 Published by HarperTeen
in 2011 Genres: Chick Lit
, YA Pages:
282 Source: NetGalley Goodreads
Ginny Blackstone thought that the biggest adventure of her life was behind her. She spent last summer traveling around Europe, following the tasks her aunt laid out in a series of letters before she died. When someone stole Ginny’s backpack-and the last little blue envelope inside—she resigned herself to never knowing how it was supposed to end.
Months later, a mysterious boy contacts Ginny from London, saying he’s found her bag. Finally, Ginny can finish what she started. But instead of ending her journey, the last letter starts a new adventure, and Ginny finds she must hold onto her wits-and her heart. This time, there are no instructions.
When I read 13 Little Blue Envelopes I was a Freshman in college. I was young and naïve. I’d only ever been overseas on tours with music groups and even then we didn’t do much outside our itinerary. I loved to travel though and the idea of traveling around the way Ginny did really impressed me. I was sure I could never do what Ginny had done, but I sure wished I could.
Oh, how things can change.
4 years later, here I am about to graduate and I have a totally different perspective. I have now spent a year abroad and wonder of wonders, I had my own Little Blue Envelopes trip (though not quite so extreme). I’ve grown as Ginny did, and now I can relate to her again, in a different way.
First stop: Paris. Such a glamorous city! Aunt Peg is right, there is no way you can “know” a city from just one visit. This time instead of being green with envy, I was able to sit back a bit and recognize some of the places I’d been and reacquaint myself with them. I like to think Les Petits Chiens was just around the corner from the Hostel we stayed in, next to the quaint little bookshop I had to visit. You can really tell that Johnson has done this at some point and it is so wonderful that she can share the experience so vividly through her characters’ eyes.
But my perspective was not the only new thing this time. I really loved the addition of Oliver to the cast. He was pleasantly frustrating and mysterious, and his story was part of the reason that I couldn’t put the book down.
View Spoilers »
I was never very sure about Keith the first time around and I am so glad that Ginny didn’t end up with him forever. Oliver seems so much better for her than Keith would have been, even if he did some things I don’t really approve of. We all do things like that sometimes. Ellis was also a nice addition, though her character was used mostly for Keith/Ginny conflict. She seems like the kind of girl I would love to be friends with, even if she was dating the guy I still had a crush on
In the end, this wasn’t just a book about traveling. It’s about creativity and art and finding beauty where you least expect it. As an artist myself this really spoke to me. Two quotes from Aunt Peg really stuck with me and I’d like to leave you with them:
“People always say they can’t do things, that they’re impossible. They just haven’t been creative enough.” – pg. 48 (advance e-proof copy, page numbers may not be the same in finished copy) The Last Little Blue Envelope, Maureen Johnson
“I think something is art when it is created with intention.” – pg. 156 (advance e-proof copy, page numbers may not be the same in finished copy) The Last Little Blue Envelope, Maureen Johnson
Thank you, Maureen Johnson. You inspire me to find my art, no matter what anyone else thinks, and that is the greatest inspiration any artist can have.
One of the issues we, as book enthusiasts, run across is how to feed our addiction. Let’s face it – books are expensive! While the expense is hard on any budget, it’s especially hard on those of us who have little or no income (talk about poor college student, here!) There’s obviously solutions out there – I went to my local library 3 days in a row this past week, and that’s fairly normal. But not everybody has as good a library system as I do, and frankly there’s nothing like actually owning the books you love. So what do you do, when you’re feeling a little tight in the wallet? Do you have any tricks or tips to share?
I actually went shopping this week and found 3 different books to buy. That’s a nearly record amount for me – I generally buy my books one at a time and only if I feel like I need a treat. It got me thinking about the whole book buying issue. So, my tricks for buying the books you want without breaking the bank:
1) Always shop around. I love Amazon, especially because they’ll give me free shipping for being a student, but even with the free shipping, they don’t always have the cheapest price. Sometimes The Book Depository beats them, or if it’s something I’m willing to get a used copy for it’s cheaper to buy that and pay the shipping, than to not pay shipping and buy a new copy.
2) Get in on book swaps! I personally use Paperbackswap.com but I’m sure all of them work well. You can’t be guaranteed to find the newest releases, but often if you’re looking for something released a few years ago you can find 6 or 8 copies waiting to be swapped. Plus, it’s a great place to get rid of books that you’re willing to part with and make room for all those new lovelies you’ll be swapping in.
3) Look at your local grocery store. We don’t have any bookstores in town, so I’ll look every time I go to see if they’ve changed stock. They usually only have the bestsellers, but often you can find better deals there than at an actual bookstore. As an extension, check your nearest co-op or bulk store. We have a Sam’s Club about half and hour away that my mom’s a member of. While she only goes once every couple of months, I always beg her to take me along – their book selection is iffy, but you can often find the biggest hits at the absolute lowest price you will find anywhere! I bought The Iron King the other day there for $4 (!) less than the lowest price I’d found online.
4) I rarely, if ever, buy hardbacks. If I know I want to read a hardback, generally I’ll get on the list for it at the library before it even comes out, then if I loved it as much as I thought I would, I’ll preorder the paperback version. This may be difficult, especially when something you love is coming out, but trust me, you’ll save hundreds every year if you can manage it!
What do you do to save money on your book addiction?
The Iron Thorn
by Caitlin Kittredge Series: Iron Codex #1 Published by Delacorte
in 2011 Genres: Steampunk
, YA Pages:
492 Source: Library Goodreads
In the city of Lovecraft, the Proctors rule and a great Engine turns below the streets, grinding any resistance to their order to dust. The necrovirus is blamed for Lovecraft's epidemic of madness, for the strange and eldritch creatures that roam the streets after dark, and for everything that the city leaders deem Heretical—born of the belief in magic and witchcraft. And for Aoife Grayson, her time is growing shorter by the day.
Aoife Grayson's family is unique, in the worst way—every one of them, including her mother and her elder brother Conrad, has gone mad on their 16th birthday. And now, a ward of the state, and one of the only female students at the School of Engines, she is trying to pretend that her fate can be different.
First things first, I would love to meet Caitlin Kittridge someday. The mind that can think up all the complicated rules of this society and keep them straight must be one heck of an organized mind! In fact, the intricacy of the story and the setting is one of the things I really loved about this book! The world is amazing and I would love to learn more about it.
Unfortunately (and I really mean that) I was going into this book with a severe case of burnout. I’d been working really hard on this creative project aka recital, and I couldn’t allow myself enough breaks, and by the end of it, anything creative, right on down to reading, sounded very un-fun to me. The worst bit was, I didn’t even realize it until I was halfway through the book and found myself slogging along! I think if I’d been in a different mood, and not in the situation I was in, I would have loved this book, but as it was, this book took much longer and was harder to understand than it should have been for me.
That said, I would definitely recommend it! I loved the dynamic between Aoife and Dean (anyone know what Aoife means, btw? Or even how to say it? That bugged me a tiny bit.) I never saw the twists coming, and I enjoyed the intricacy of the setting. Just be warned that you must be in the mood for this book before you pick it up, because it’s complicated and will take some work to understand.
The Demon Trapper's Daughter
by Jana Oliver Series: The Demon Trappers #1 Published by St. Martin's Griffin
in 2011 Genres: Fantasy
, YA Pages:
340 Source: Library Goodreads
Riley Blackthorne just needs a chance to prove herself – and that’s exactly what the demons are counting on…
Seventeen-year-old Riley, the only daughter of legendary Demon Trapper, Paul Blackthorne, has always dreamed of following in her father's footsteps. The good news is, with human society seriously disrupted by economic upheaval and Lucifer increasing the number of demons in all major cities, Atlanta’s local Trappers’ Guild needs all the help they can get – even from a girl. When she’s not keeping up with her homework or trying to manage her growing crush on fellow apprentice, Simon, Riley’s out saving distressed citizens from foul-mouthed little devils – Grade One Hellspawn only, of course, per the strict rules of the Guild. Life’s about as normal as can be for the average demon-trapping teen.
But then a Grade Five Geo-Fiend crashes Riley’s routine assignment at a library, jeopardizing her life and her chosen livelihood. And, as if that wasn’t bad enough, sudden tragedy strikes the Trappers’ Guild, spinning Riley down a more dangerous path than she ever could have imagined. As her whole world crashes down around her, who can Riley trust with her heart – and her life?
I’m a little behind on this review – sorry! I actually finished this one a few days ago, but I’ve had other reviews scheduled and I didn’t bother with writing it up. Sorry!
First of all, can I just say “About time!” It seems like urban fantasies like this aren’t nearly as common among YA novels – obviously we have City of Bones but even that gets out of the urban fantasy eventually. This one is Urban Fantasy all the way through. The only difference from an adult urban fantasy was the lack of racy material, and I’m ok with that.
One of the things I really liked about this book was the detail put into the hierarchy of demons. Magpies and Biblio-fiends sound so cute, though they should keep far away from my library. I’d like to learn more about all the demons, because they seem like there’s more to them than just “gotta kill them all!” I know I say this a lot about books that have new creatures in them, but I want a catalog of pictures and specs on some of these demons! What can I say, I’m that kind of person.
I also enjoyed Riley as a character. She’s tough, and she doesn’t give up. I spent a lot of time feeling bad for her, cause no matter what she did she could not catch a break. Her author was very mean! But it makes for a good story so I’m not going to complain.
In the end, I’d give this one two thumbs up – this is the perfect book for anyone who loves Urban Fantasy or YA. This is a great introduction to either genre!
The Goddess Test
by Aimee Carter Series: Goddess Test #1 Published by Harlequin Teen
in 2011 Genres: Fantasy
, YA Pages:
293 Source: NetGalley Goodreads
EVERY GIRL who has taken the test has DIED.
Now it's KATE'S TURN.
It’s always been just Kate and her mom—and her mother is dying. Her last wish? To move back to her childhood home. So Kate’s going to start at a new school with no friends, no other family and the fear her mother won’t live past the fall.
Then she meets Henry. Dark. Tortured. And mesmerizing. He claims to be Hades, god of the Underworld—and if she accepts his bargain, he’ll keep her mother alive while Kate tries to pass seven tests.
Kate is sure he’s crazy—until she sees him bring a girl back from the dead. Now saving her mother seems crazily possible. If she succeeds, she’ll become Henry’s future bride, and a goddess.
If she fails...
I may be slightly prejudiced because I am a huge fan of ancient mythology, but I loved this book! The premise is simple – Hades (aka Henry) has lost Persephone, but he cannot rule the underworld alone. For thousands of years he has been trying to find a girl to rule with him, but all eleven have died trying. Kate enters into the bargain anyway, in hope of saving her mother who is dying of cancer.
Firstly, I loved the portrayal of Henry. 99.9% of the time, if Hades shows up in a book, he’s the bad guy. For good reason, obviously, we like to blame the guy who is associated with death for everything, but every once in a while, you gotta feel sorry for the guy. Carter’s portrayal shows him as a sensitive guy who gets blamed for stuff because of who he is, but isn’t actually too bad. In fact, despite the obvious references to mythology, the strongest thread running through this story for me, was a retelling of Beauty and the Beast (which just so happens to be my favorite fairy tale, like Persephone is my favorite myth). I actually liked Henry, because he was willing to stand up for Kate and he felt sorry for what he was asking her to do – the evil bad dude that always turns out to be Hades is couldn’t do that without some really good acting skills, and I’m hoping those never surface, because I like Henry the way he is.
I also loved the fact that Kate isn’t going with Henry because she “can’t live without him.” I’ve seen plenty of love stories recently that play with this theme, and while I was willing to put up with it in the beginning, it’s starting to get a little old. But Kate isn’t like that. Even once she begins to realize her feelings for Henry she is willing to leave him once her six months are up, and frankly is more worried about passing the tests so her mother can live than figuring out a relationship with Henry. I find this much more believable than the whole “Love you so much I can never leave you! Nothing else matters in the world!” and I enjoyed the book because of it.
I’m so excited to share this book with everyone, and I cannot wait until the next book comes out! What happens next?
by Ally Condie Series: Matched #1 Published by Dutton
in 2010 Genres: Sci Fi
, YA Pages:
369 Source: Library Goodreads
Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander's face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate . . . until she sees Ky Markham's face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.
The Society tells her it's a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she's destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can't stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society's infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she's known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.
I have always been a fan of dystopia, ever since I read The Giver for the first time in fourth grade. Now, I know everyone has already made this comparison, but Matched felt like reading The Giver all over again. Some people complained that this was a problem and that Matched wasn’t original enough, but I disagree. I think Matched balanced its references to its predecessors with originality in such a way that made reading it an enjoyable experience. We’ve all had those books that we finish and wish that we could read it for the first time again. The only way to do that is to read something similar.
That said, I did get a little frustrated with Cassia. I don’t think it’s really her fault, it’s just that I’ve seen the topic of “girl has two boys and can’t decide which she wants” so many times now that it’s starting to get very old. Yes, fine, they’re both gorgeous, wonderful boys, but since when does being a girl automatically mean that you can’t make a decision? I don’t think this would have bothered me if it was the first time I’d seen this trope, but after a gazillion times it’s starting to get on my nerves.
On the other hand, I really loved the character of Ky. He is mysterious but sweet and helpful to Cassia when she needs it. But the thing I loved most is that even though I can tell that he’s part of the revolution, he isn’t looking for a fight. He believes in a different world, and if he had to he’d fight for it, but you can tell he doesn’t want to. That’s one of the major places I found originality in this series, and I liked it just for that. Yes, it does make for a more philosophical book than, say, the action packed trend The Hunger Games started. But it also makes a good point – sometimes violence isn’t necessarily the answer, and even if it is the answer, you shouldn’t go chasing after it until it’s the last resort.
So overall, enjoyable, but not for everyone. It has its good points, and it does have strong nods towards previous books. But, don’t go in expecting a ton of action, or you will be disappointed.