Book Review: Sisters Red

Sep
14
2 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Book Review
Sisters Red Sisters Red by
Series: Fairytale Retellings #1
Published by in 2010
Genres: , ,
Pages: 328
Source:
Goodreads

Scarlett March lives to hunt the Fenris--the werewolves that took her eye when she was defending her sister Rosie from a brutal attack. Armed with a razor-sharp hatchet and blood-red cloak, Scarlett is an expert at luring and slaying the wolves. She's determined to protect other young girls from a grisly death, and her raging heart will not rest until every single wolf is dead.

Rosie March once felt her bond with her sister was unbreakable. Owing Scarlett her life, Rosie hunts ferociously alongside her. But even as more girls' bodies pile up in the city and the Fenris seem to be gaining power, Rosie dreams of a life beyond the wolves. She finds herself drawn to Silas, a young woodsman who is deadly with an ax and Scarlett's only friend--but does loving him mean betraying her sister and all that they've worked for?

My Review:

Talk about a change of pace after reading Cloaked! Sisters Red is the polar opposite of Cloaked despite both being about fairy tales.

I have heard so many good things about Jackson Pearce. It seems like everywhere I turn there’s another book blogger raving about her books. Honestly, this one had been on my list for a while, just for peer pressure. That said, it did not disappoint.

I think the thing I liked best about this book is the relationship between the sisters. They often describe their own relationship as being 2 halves of the same heart. While poetically this is a great description, I think it is also a great literary device. In a way, each girl is Red Riding Hood, representing different sides of her personality. Pearce uses this to explore the many facets of human nature. The way she writes it, she shows that both personality types can be good – we feel sorry for each in their turn, and at times I honestly couldn’t decide which I believed was right.

I also really liked the turn around take on the story – the hunted (red riding hood) is actually the huntress. It’s almost like this could be the “what comes next” story instead of just a retelling. There are so many layers to this book! Every time I think about it, I discover something else intriguing and amazing. I’m just a little bit speechless when it comes to what I liked about the book. I want to say “I loved ALL OF IT!” but that wouldn’t be a very interesting review now would it? lol

I’m meandering a bit. The point is, if you’re one of the few people who have been living under a rock (like me!) and somehow managed to miss out reading this one, then I’m telling you DO IT NOW! You won’t regret it.





Book Review: Cloaked

Sep
12
2 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Book Review
Cloaked Cloaked by
Published by in 2011
Genres: ,
Pages: 341
Source:
Goodreads

I'm not your average hero. I actually wasn't your average anything. Just a poor guy working an after-school job at a South Beach shoe repair shop to help his mom make ends meet. But a little magic changed it all.
It all started with a curse. And a frognapping. And one hot-looking princess, who asked me to lead a rescue mission.
There wasn't a fairy godmother or any of that. And even though I fell in love along the way, what happened to me is unlike any fairy tale I've ever heard. Before I knew it, I was spying with a flock of enchanted swans, talking (yes, talking!) to a fox named Todd, and nearly trampled by giants in the Everglades.
Don't believe me? I didn't believe it either. But you'll see. Because I knew it all was true, the second I got cloaked.

My Review:

I adore Alex Flinn. Case in point: When I returned from vacation nearly a month ago, I’d racked up something like 10 reviews to write so I put myself on a book reading ban – read slowly, if at all, reread so there’s no review to write, and read multiple at once so you don’t finish any of them. I picked up Cloaked and that all flew out the window. I raced through the book in a day, unable to stop myself or slow down.

One of the things I love about Flinn’s books is her accessible, informal tone. Her stories read like The Princess Diaries or  Anna and the French Kiss but they have magic. They tell the ancient, wonderful stories we first heard as kids, reworking them and making us believe in them.

I especially enjoyed Cloaked because it draws on some of the much lesser known fairy tales. As a fairy tale junkie myself I recognized most of them, but she pulled out a few even I didn’t know! As some of my favorites are these lesser known tales (my only mainstream favorite is Beauty and the Beast) I was really excited for this one. I was not disappointed in the least. The tales worked themselves out with true poetic justice and the fairy tale flavor just lightly colors the real world love story.

With all 3 of her fairy tale books on my favorites list, Flinn has officially made it on to my “Favorite Authors” list. I will read anything she puts out as soon as I can get my hands on it. She’s THAT good people!





Book Review: Starcrossed

Sep
03
4 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Book Review
Starcrossed Starcrossed by
Series: Starcrossed #1
Published by in 2011
Genres: ,
Pages: 487
Goodreads

How do you defy destiny?
Helen Hamilton has spent her entire sixteen years trying to hide how different she is—no easy task on an island as small and sheltered as Nantucket. And it's getting harder. Nightmares of a desperate desert journey have Helen waking parched, only to find her sheets damaged by dirt and dust. At school she's haunted by hallucinations of three women weeping tears of blood . . . and when Helen first crosses paths with Lucas Delos, she has no way of knowing they're destined to play the leading roles in a tragedy the Fates insist on repeating throughout history.
As Helen unlocks the secrets of her ancestry, she realizes that some myths are more than just legend. But even demigod powers might not be enough to defy the forces that are both drawing her and Lucas together—and trying to tear them apart.

My Review:

I. Love. This. Book! It’s got all my favorites – Mythology, a sizzling romance, a twisty complicated plot – I just loved it!

I have to admit it wasn’t always like that. At first I did a lot of eye rolling. The first 40 pages or so read like a semi-retelling of Twilight – New guy moves into town with his strangely reclusive family and the girl “doesn’t care” though you know she’ll end up with him somehow. Before long, though, that “been there, done that” feeling pretty much blows up in your face.

From the time Helen meets Lucas this novel is extremely fast paced and action packed. I finished the book before I even realized it and was left turning invisible pages looking for more! And Lucas! I’d take him over a vampire any day! He’s kind, thoughtful, smart and loyal, and of course absolutely gorgeous!

I realize I haven’t actually said that much about what’s actually in  the book so far. In fact, I don’t think I will. One of the things I enjoyed so much about this book was how it kept me on my toes constantly and every twist took me completely by surprise. If I say much more, I could be spoiling a wonderful experience for someone else. Suffice to say it is a fabulous book that you NEED to read now!

 





Book Review: Blood Magic

Sep
02
5 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Book Review
Blood Magic Blood Magic by
Series: The Blood Journals #1
Published by in 2011
Genres: , ,
Pages: 405
Source:
Goodreads

It starts off simply.Draw a circle ... place a dead leaf in the center ... sprinkle some salt ... recite a little Latin ... add a drop of blood ...

Maybe that last part isn't exactly simple. Yet somehow it feels right to Silla Kennicott. And nothing in her life has felt remotely right since her parents' horrific deaths. She's willing to do anything to uncover the truth about her family—even try a few spells from the mysterious book that arrived on her doorstep ... and spill some blood.

The book isn't the only recent arrival in Silla's life. There's Nick Pardee, the new guy next door who may have seen Silla casting a spell. She's not sure what he saw and is afraid to find out. But as they spend more time together, Silla realizes this may not be Nick's first encounter with Blood Magic. Brought together by a combination of fate and chemistry, Silla and Nick can't deny their attraction. And they can't ignore the dark presence lurking nearby—waiting to reclaim the book and all its power.

My Review:

Yet another debut! I’m going to have to stop with the debuts soon so I can get some others read!
This book is decidedly different from anything I’ve ever read. Sure it’s a teen novel and there’s romance to it, but aside from that it’s got a dark flavor to it that I’ve never really seen before. Part of that is the type of magic it deals with – Blood magic almost always has really negative connotations, probably because it’s almost always portrayed like the antagonist uses it in this one. It is almost never considered as something that could be used in a positive way. Even this novel is ambiguous on that point. There are obviously going to be sequels and I’m curious to see if it turns out it really can be used for good or if it becomes too much of a temptation to Silla and Nick.

The thing about featuring something as dark as Blood magic is it’s rarely thought out in the detail that other, less unsavory magics are (probably because it can get exceedingly gory if the author isn’t careful). This gives the writer tons of space to play with the specifics and give us something completely new. The image of the magic supply trunk, complete with small vials of dust and herbs and a blood-letting quill was so vivid that it is still branded in my mind.
Basically, I really enjoyed this book. If you’re looking for something a little bit different, something slightly off ordinary, then this one is for you! I’m eagerly looking forward to the next book!

 





Book Review: The Iron Knight

Aug
25
2 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Book Review
The Iron Knight The Iron Knight by
Series: Iron Fey #4
Published by in 2011
Genres: , ,
Pages: 399
Goodreads

Ash, former prince of the Winter Court, gave up everything. His title, his home, even his vow of loyalty. All for a girl… and all for nothing.
Unless he can earn a soul.

To cold, emotionless faery prince Ash, love was a weakness for mortals and fools. His own love had died a horrible death, killing any gentler feelings the Winter prince might have had. Or so he thought.
Then Meghan Chase—a half human, half fey slip of a girl— smashed through his barricades, binding him to her
irrevocably with his oath to be her knight. And when all of Faery nearly fell to the Iron fey, she severed their bond to save his life. Meghan is now the Iron Queen, ruler of a realm where no Winter or Summer fey can  survive.
With the (unwelcome) company of his archrival, Summer Court prankster Puck, and the infuriating cait sith Grimalkin, Ash begins a journey he is bound to see through to its end— a quest to find a way to honor his solemn vow to stand by Meghan’s side.
To survive in the Iron realm, Ash must have a soul and a mortal body. But the tests he must face to earn these things are impossible. At least, no one has ever passed to tell the tale.
And then Ash learns something that changes everything. A truth that turns reality upside down, challenges his darkest beliefs and shows him that, sometimes, it takes more than courage to make the ultimate sacrifice.

My Review:

WARNING! SPOILERS FOR THE FIRST THREE BOOKS!

This book seems to be one of the most anticipated sequels of the year. After the way Iron Queen left off I’m not surprised. That is not the way you end an epic story like that. Even if the love story isn’t the focus of the story the reader feels gipped if it doesn’t get wrapped up properly.

Iron Knight is definitely the wrap up readers are looking for. It follows Ash, the winter prince, in his quest to find a way around Meghan’s orders. It provides a lot of back story that didn’t particularly belong in the previous books but that I was definitely curious about. It also explores the Wildwood, in my opinion the most interesting part of the NeverNever. Nothing like going to the end of a world to learn what the true limits of that world are.

The only thing I’d say about this one is it still didn’t feel like an ending yet. Well, that’s the wrong way to put it. It is AN ending, but it doesn’t feel like THE ending. There are so many possible future problems that could make for really interesting novels. Even if the future novels don’t have much, if anything, to do with Meghan and Ash.

Maybe I’m just having trouble letting go. Kagawa has created a beautiful rendition of one of my favorite places to read about, and I just don’t want to put it down!





Book Review: The Near Witch

Aug
18
2 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Book Review
The Near Witch The Near Witch by
Series: The Near Witch #1
Published by in 2011
Genres: ,
Pages: 282
Source:
Goodreads

The Near Witch is only an old story told to frighten children. 

If the wind calls at night, you must not listen. The wind is lonely, and always looking for company. 

And there are no strangers in the town of Near.

These are the truths that Lexi has heard all her life. But when an actual stranger-a boy who seems to fade like smoke-appears outside her home on the moor at night, she knows that at least one of these sayings is no longer true.

The next night, the children of Near start disappearing from their beds, and the mysterious boy falls under suspicion. Still, he insists on helping Lexi search for them. Something tells her she can trust him.

As the hunt for the children intensifies, so does Lexi's need to know- about the witch that just might be more than a bedtime story, about the wind that seems to speak through the walls at night, and about the history of this nameless boy.

My Review:

Another high(ish) fantasy! I am loving this trend!

One of the things I really liked about this book was the message. It is clear from very early on that certain characters are extremely prejudiced against strangers. Throughout the book this prejudice is consistently shown as the root of the problems. This message is very timely considering certain global problems our society is facing.

Another thing I enjoyed about the book was the feel. Despite the novel format, the style and tone gave the story the air of an ancient ballad, told by some bard in the local tavern. I want to see this story as a story couched within another, like the 1001 Arabian Nights stories. The stories Scheherezade tells are just as interesting as her story itself. I’d be interested to know if the author plans to make a series out of this – not necessarily dealing with these characters ever again, but returning to this world to tell other stories about other aspects of the world.

All in all this was a very good debut novel. I’ll be looking forward to her next one eagerly!





Book Review: Ruby Red

Aug
09
0 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Book Review
Ruby Red Ruby Red by
Series: Edelstein Trilogy #1
Published by in 2011
Genres: , ,
Pages: 322
Source:
Goodreads

Gwyneth Shepherd's sophisticated, beautiful cousin Charlotte has been prepared her entire life for traveling through time. But unexpectedly, it is Gwyneth, who in the middle of class takes a sudden spin to a different era!
Gwyneth must now unearth the mystery of why her mother would lie about her birth date to ward off suspicion about her ability, brush up on her history, and work with Gideon--the time traveler from a similarly gifted family that passes the gene through its male line, and whose presence becomes, in time, less insufferable and more essential. Together, Gwyneth and Gideon journey through time to discover who, in the 18th century and in contemporary London, they can trust.

My Review:

First, let me apologize if my gushing and dribbling comes out of the screen and hits you in the face. Not sorry for the gushing, but sorry if you got wet.

This book has been added to my Favorites of 2011 list – the list is only 3 books long so far, so it’s pretty exclusive. That is how amazing this book is. It grabbed me soon as I started it and I could not put it down. I had it finished withint 12 hours and at least half that time was devoted to sleep! Then, soon as I set it down I went searching for the sequel, and, finding it was only in German, desperately turned to Twitter to find someone to teach me German, so I could read it now! It’s THAT good people!

Firstly, there’s Gwen, the Ruby of the title. She is so painfully normal at first you can’t help but like her. You feel her pain as everything she knows falls apart around her. It is easy to imagine yourself in her shoes, floundering through this new skill and hurting when she gets blamed for something she couldn’t possibly have known about.

Then we have Gideon, the antagonist/love interest. He starts out as such a jerk! At the beginning I couldn’t imagine Gwen ever liking him, despite the hints in the blurb on the back cover. Slowly though we begin to see another side to him. Sure he’s still mostly a jerk at the end of this book but I can see how he might be redeemed and I’m desperate for the rest of the books to find out how they’re going to do it!

And of course I can’t go without mentioning the plot, for what would be an amazing cast of characters without interesting things for them to do? I love time travel stories but I have never seen one like this. The laws of the world are extremely well planned, accounting for the typical problems of time travel with seeming ease. The plot is complicated enough to keep you on your toes, but not so complicated that you have to work to keep up.

And, of course, I must congratulate the translator. The story and language flowed smoothly and I didn’t ever have to step back from the narrative to realize that the story wasn’t originally in my language.

In short, this is a fabulous book that you must find and read, sooner rather than later!





Book Review: The Emerald Atlas

Jul
02
2 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Book Review
The Emerald Atlas The Emerald Atlas by
Series: The Books of Beginning #1
Published by in 2011
Genres: ,
Pages: 417
Source:
Goodreads

Kate, Michael, and Emma have suffered through ten years of odious orphanage "care"; now they have slipped into the care of the eccentric, disturbingly mysterious Dr. Pym. While exploring their new home, the children discover a magical green book. With that discovery, a decade of tedium dissolves into cascades of dangerous time travel adventures and struggles with a beautiful witch and decidedly less attractive zombielike Screechers.

My Review:

Sometimes the books we love are huge bestsellers we hear about for weeks before they’re published. Then again sometimes we pick something on a whim, based on title, blurb or whatever, just to see. For me The Emerald Atlas was one of the latter. I’m actually really surprised, with so many people doing the Debut Author Challenge, that I haven’t seen one single review of this book yet, good or bad. This is especially surprising considering how much I loved the book!
Of course, it’s not all that surprising that I loved the book in the first place, since it really is a mixture of all my favorite YA/MG series’ rolled into one. Take Harry Potter, add in a good dose of Series of Unfortunate Events and Percy Jackson, and just a touch of Faerie Wars, Peter Pan, and The Mortal Instruments and you’d have something very similar to The Emerald Atlas. Stephens gets the blend of reality and fantasy just right to create my own personal Neverland. (As an aside, I love it when authors create a world so well that it seems to explain other stories as well as their own, and this seems like the perfect explanation of Peter Pan too!)

But the thing I love the most, I think, is that there’s someone and something for everyone in this book. Younger readers will identify with Emma and her need to be different from her siblings, while older readers will identify with Kate, who feels a responsibility to protect Michael and Emma, despite their best efforts at getting into trouble. Those of us much older than the intended audience will see the similarities to the novels we grew up with – Harry Potter and His Dark Materials among others – while reveling in the new and interesting ways these tropes have been put together.

The point, if you haven’t guessed already, is that this book, and it’s sequels, are books to look forward to, to read and to cherish. Find yourself a copy, if you haven’t already, and help spread the word!





Book Review: Department 19

Jun
28
2 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Book Review
Department 19 Department 19 by
Series: Department 19 #1
Published by in 2011
Genres: , ,
Pages: 540
Source:
Goodreads

Jamie Carpenter's life will never be the same. His father is dead, his mother is missing, and he was just rescued by an enormous man named Frankenstein. Jamie is brought to Department 19, where he is pulled into a secret organization responsible for policing the supernatural, founded more than a century ago by Abraham Van Helsing and the other survivors of Dracula. Aided by Frankenstein's monster, a beautiful vampire girl with her own agenda, and the members of the agency, Jamie must attempt to save his mother from a terrifyingly powerful vampire.

My Review:

Yet another debut novel. Officially my twelfth, so YAY I completed the Debut Author Challenge, though of course I will continue to read debuts as they present themselves to me.

The best way to describe Department 19 is a combination of James Bond and Dracula. At the age of 14 Jamie Carpenter watches as his father is gunned down for terrorism. 2 years later he discovers just what kind of group his father was in, and it wasn’t terrorists! Jamie soon meets Frankenstein (yes The Frankenstein) and the descendants of several famous characters from the original Vampire story, Dracula. The mix was so interesting  – the mixture of spy thriller and paranormal makes for an action novel that can appeal to all.


Just one disclaimer: this novel is extremely violent and gory. More than once I found myself gagging and passing over several paragraphs. So, if you have an easily turned stomach, this is NOT the book for you, no matter how good it sounds. Sorry.





Book Review: White Cat

Jun
25
2 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Book Review
White Cat White Cat by
Series: Curse Workers #1
Published by in 2010
Genres: , , ,
Pages: 320
Source: ,
Goodreads

Cassel comes from a family of curse workers — people who have the power to change your emotions, your memories, your luck, by the slightest touch of their hands. And since curse work is illegal, they're all mobsters, or con artists. Except for Cassel. He hasn't got the magic touch, so he's an outsider, the straight kid in a crooked family. You just have to ignore one small detail — he killed his best friend, Lila, three years ago.
Ever since, Cassel has carefully built up a façade of normalcy, blending into the crowd. But his façade starts crumbling when he starts sleepwalking, propelled into the night by terrifying dreams about a white cat that wants to tell him something. He's noticing other disturbing things, too, including the strange behavior of his two brothers. They are keeping secrets from him, caught up in a mysterious plot. As Cassel begins to suspect he's part of a huge con game, he also wonders what really happened to Lila. Could she still be alive? To find that out, Cassel will have to out-con the conmen.

My Review:

I always seem to forget how unique and entertaining Holly Black’s novels are. I read Tithe and Ironside many years ago and enjoyed them but never got around to reading the rest. Then, after all the hype surrounding Red Glove, I decided I’d better see what all the fuss was.

The first thing that really caught my attention on this one was the setting. Cassel comes from a family of “workers” that live to serve their Mob boss overlords. Even though he’s not a worker and isn’t of any use to the crimelords, everything is about the con for him. He even runs a small gambling pool at school to keep his hand in. Holly Black’s edgy style and modern voice fit this setting perfectly, lending to an extremely interesting Urban Fantasy setting.

I tend to divide the books I read into 3 categories: ones where I can see the ending a mile off, ones where I can see the ending but have no clue how to get there, and ones where I have no clue what’s going on in the first place. They can all be good reads, depending on how well they’re written, but the first can get boring and the last can be frustrating. The most interesting, and yet probably the hardest to write, is the second of the three, and I would unreservedly put White Cat in that category. I could see what had to happen coming but I had no idea how they were going to make it happen without screwing over the future books. I was amazed every time she revealed a tidbit and several times I had to stop and read a section over again.

If you’re still on the fence about reading this book, then I’ll tell you it comes with my highest recommendation. This fantasy is a masterpiece and you won’t regret it!

Disclaimer: Some of the facts I’ve told you about the book turn out to be blatant lies. I just couldn’t bring myself to spoil it for you. The opinions on the other hand, are still and will always be 100% truth.





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