Book Review: Shadow Hills

Jun
15
0 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Book Review
Shadow Hills Shadow Hills by
Series: Shadow Hills #1
Published by in 2010
Genres: , ,
Pages: 388
Source:
Goodreads

After her sister Athena's tragic death, it's obvious that grief-stricken Persephone "Phe" Archer no longer belongs in Los Angeles. Hoping to make sense of her sister's sudden demise and the cryptic dreams following it, Phe abandons her bubbly LA life to attend an uptight East Coast preparatory school in Shadow Hills, MA — a school which her sister mysteriously mentioned in her last diary entry before she died.

Once there, Phe quickly realizes that something is deeply amiss in her new town. Not only does Shadow Hills' history boast an unexplained epidemic that decimated hundreds of its citizens in the 1700s, but its modern townies also seem eerily psychic, with the bizarre ability to bend metal. Even Zach — the gorgeous stranger Phe meets and immediately begins to lust after — seems as if he is hiding something serious. Phe is determined to get to the bottom of it. The longer she stays there, the more she suspects that her sister's untimely death and her own destiny are intricately linked to those who reside in Shadow Hills.

My Review:

Yet another boarding school book! (I told you I loved those right?) This one had a slight flavor of Greek Mythology with a tinge of Salem Witch Trials to it, both big plusses in my book!

The premise is pretty typical, but then again not. Phe goes to Devenish after finding a journal of her sister’s that talks about it. She has no clue about anything at this school except that it may be the answer to the strange dreams she’s been having. I thought the mystery of the whole scenario was really interesting. I’m still working it all out in my head, but I loved the fact that it was based in science. The closer and author brings their “magic” to a real possibility, the better. So having her explain it all with completely modern and scientifical terms is extremely exciting. Devenish could actually exist!


And of course there’s always the plus of a gorgeous male lead – Zach sounds too good to be true! He is totally my type, from her descriptions, and he has the charm and gentlemanly manners that I would want from a man. Move over Phe, Zach’s mine!


Anyway, I would highly recommend this book to anyone, and especially those who liked books like Haven or Fallen!





Book Review: City of Fallen Angels

Jun
14
0 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Book Review
City of Fallen Angels City of Fallen Angels by
Series: The Mortal Instruments #4
Published by , in 2011
Genres: , ,
Pages: 424
Source:
Goodreads

City of Fallen Angels takes place two months after the events of City of Glass. In it, a mysterious someone’s killing the Shadowhunters who used to be in Valentine’s Circle and displaying their bodies around New York City in a manner designed to provoke hostility between Downworlders and Shadowhunters, leaving tensions running high in the city and disrupting Clary’s plan to lead as normal a life as she can — training to be a Shadowhunter, and pursuing her relationship with Jace. As Jace and Clary delve into the issue of the murdered Shadowhunters, they discover a mystery that has deeply personal consequences for them — consequences that may strengthen their relationship, or rip it apart forever.

Meanwhile, internecine warfare among vampires is tearing the Downworld community apart, and only Simon — the Daylighter who everyone wants on their side — can decide the outcome; too bad he wants nothing to do with Downworld politics. Love, blood, betrayal and revenge: the stakes are higher than ever in City of Fallen Angels.

My Review:

Have you ever had one of those books where everyone loves it and you want to too but you just can’t? I mean, it’s not that I didn’t like the book, I did. I just don’t have a very strong opinion about it either way. I’ve been feeling a little burnt out recently so it may be my fault. No matter what the problem is it’s making it extremely difficult to write a review. 

Unfortunately, for me, I felt like this was a filler book. This often happens when a series is extended past its original intention (wasn’t TMI supposed to be only 3 books long?) It certainly wasn’t on par with Clockwork Angel, my favorite of hers. Then again even Cassie Clare’s worst book would be better than many authors’ best books, so what am I complaining about, right?


All that said, there were some things I really liked about this book. It focused a lot on Simon, who has always been my favorite character. (Jace is too angsty and Clary is too drama-y for me.) I thought that the story did move forward, plot-wise which was the intention, though I don’t feel the characters grew as much as they could have.


I guess the bottom line is that this one is essential to the story line so please do read it if you’re into the series. I just didn’t find it quite as good as the rest.





Book Review: Darkest Mercy

May
25
2 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Book Review
Darkest Mercy Darkest Mercy by
Series: Wicked Lovely #5
Published by in 2011
Genres: , ,
Pages: 327
Source:
Goodreads

The Summer King is missing; the Dark Court is bleeding; and a stranger walks the streets of Huntsdale, his presence signifying the deaths of powerful fey.
Aislinn tends to the Summer Court, searching for her absent king and yearning for Seth. Torn between his new queen and his old love, Keenan works from afar to strengthen his court against the coming war. Donia longs for fiery passion even as she coolly readies the Winter Court for battle. And Seth, sworn brother of the Dark King and heir to the High Queen, is about to make a mistake that could cost his life.
Love, despair, and betrayal ignite the Faery Courts, and in the final conflict, some will win . . . and some will lose everything.

My Review:

Finally, after far too long a wait, I have been able to read the final installment in the Wicked Lovely series. It was a long wait, but it was well worth it. I have loved this series since I opened the very first book last fall, and it continues to be one of my absolute favorite series’ of all time! That said, this will probably be a rather short review. It is unbelievably easy to spoil earlier books just by talking about this one, and I hate to spoil any book if I can avoid it.

The gang’s all here for one final adventure. It must have been some kind of juggling act keeping up with all the story lines she set up in the earlier books, and I’m well impressed with the result. By the end of the book I found that my curiosity about all the storylines was finally sated, and despite feeling sad that a good thing had ended, I felt that this was the perfect ending to a wonderful series.

If you haven’t read the rest of the series, don’t start here. You’ll be far too confused. Start at the beginning and work your way here, though, it is well worth it!





Book Review: Haven

May
17
0 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Book Review
Haven Haven by
Series: Winterhaven #1
Published by in 2011
Genres: , ,
Pages: 401
Goodreads

One month into her junior year, sixteen-year-old Violet McKenna transfers to the Winterhaven School in New York’s Hudson Valley, inexplicably drawn to the boarding school with high hopes. Leaving Atlanta behind, she’s looking forward to a fresh start--a new school, and new classmates who will not know her deepest, darkest secret, the one she’s tried to hide all her life: strange, foreboding visions of the future.

But Winterhaven has secrets of its own, secrets that run far deeper than Violet’s. Everyone there--every student, every teacher--has psychic abilities, 'gifts and talents,' they like to call them. Once the initial shock of discovery wears off, Violet realizes that the school is a safe haven for people like her. Soon, Violet has a new circle of friends, a new life, and maybe even a boyfriend--Aidan Gray, perhaps the smartest, hottest guy at Winterhaven.

Only there’s more to Aidan than meets the eye--much, much more. And once she learns the horrible truth, there’s no turning back from her destiny. Their destiny. Together, Violet and Aidan must face a common enemy--if only they can do so without destroying each other first.

My review:

OK, so I know I’m a little behind on this but I simply must add to the Haven love going around the blogoverse right now. Short version: Haven is AMAZING!

First of all, I’m sure we all know by now I have a weakness for boarding school stories. But a boarding school for the psychically gifted? Uh, yes please! I am so there! I want to know all about it, from how it was started to what classes are offered and all the different “Gifts” over the years. Heck, forget wanting to know all about it, I want to live there!

I also found the cast of characters really enjoyable. I don’t think I loved any one character so much as loving their interactions with each other. They remind me of my group of friends in high school, and even more of the group of friends I wished I had. These girls seem just like normal girls, just with some unusual quirks.

My only complaint, and it’s not really one at all, is that the romance happened just a tiny bit too fast. That said, when I finished the book, I was not upset about it at all. Cook gave us a very reasonable explanation for the sudden initial attraction and the progression of the relationship from there seemed natural. So, like I say, not really a complaint at all.

I’m so looking forward to the next book that I went hunting for release date of book 2 to mark on my calendar (couldn’t find it though – anybody know?) Where will you be?





Book Review(ish): Howl’s Moving Castle

May
13
0 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Book Review
Howl's Moving Castle Howl's Moving Castle by
Series: Castle #1
Published by in 2001
Genres: ,
Pages: 336
Source:
Goodreads

In the land of Ingary, such things as spells, invisible cloaks, and seven-league boots were everyday things. The Witch of the Waste was another matter.
After fifty years of quiet, it was rumored that the Witch was about to terrorize the country again. So when a moving black castle, blowing dark smoke from its four thin turrets, appeared on the horizon, everyone thought it was the Witch. The castle, however, belonged to Wizard Howl, who, it was said, liked to suck the souls of young girls.
The Hatter sisters--Sophie, Lettie, and Martha--and all the other girls were warned not to venture into the streets alone. But that was only the beginning.
In this giant jigsaw puzzle of a fantasy, people and things are never quite what they seem. Destinies are intertwined, identities exchanged, lovers confused. The Witch has placed a spell on Howl. Does the clue to breaking it lie in a famous poem? And what will happen to Sophie Hatter when she enters Howl's castle?

My Review:

I love Diana Wynne Jones. Why? Because every single book or series is different. Sure, there are some I can’t stand but that s because she’s done everything and I don’t like everything. Howl’s Moving Castle is a favorite of mine second only to the Chrestomanci series, and I decided to re-read it in honor of her passing away recently. But go read them both, like yesterday, if you haven’t. SERIOUSLY!

Since I almost always have trouble with reviewing re-reads without gushing all over myself, I thought I’d do something fun and different today. Though there has been an animated movie made, this book is so good it deserves to be made into a Live Action film, so I decided to share my dream cast. (Keep in mind that the story is set in an alternate UK so I tried to keep it an all British cast)

Howl: This is the first read-through that I’ve actually been able to cast Howl, he’s so difficult and quirky. But, finally, I think I have the perfect choice (at least for me).

Quirky and lovable as the 11th Doctor, I could actually hear Matt Smith saying Howl’s lines in my head.

Sophie Hatter:

Emma Thompson is a wonderful actress and I think she could really pull off both young and old versions of Sophie.

Calcifer: (no picture for this one, because it’s just about the voice) Either Andy-Lee Potts, known for his roles in Primeval and Syfy’s Alice, or David Tennant, known for the title role of Doctor Who (though I prefer his scottish accent for this particular role).

The Witch of the Waste:

For those who have never seen Emilia Fox in anything, she does an AMAZING beautiful bad lady. Look her up in Merlin as Morgause. Pretty, yeah, but so evil!

Lettie Hatter:

I actually haven’t seen Holliday Grainger in that much, but I think she’s perfect for the gorgeous younger sister Lettie.

Martha Hatter:

And finally, for Sophie’s youngest sister Martha, Talulah Riley, known for her roles in Pride and Prejudice and St. Trinian’s. It is only too bad that Martha wouldn’t show up as much, because Talulah is an amazing actress.

I could go on (Maggie Smith as Mrs. Pentstemmon, don’t you think?) but that’s the main characters. What are your thoughts on casting?





Book Review: Timeless

May
11
0 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Book Review
Timeless Timeless by
Series: Timeless #1
Published by in 2011
Genres: ,
Pages: 290
Source:
Goodreads

When tragedy strikes Michele Windsor’s world, she is forced to uproot her life and move across the country to New York City, to live with the wealthy, aristocratic grandparents she’s never met. In their old Fifth Avenue mansion filled with a century’s worth of family secrets, Michele discovers a diary that hurtles her back in time to the year 1910. There, in the midst of the glamorous Gilded Age, Michele meets the young man with striking blue eyes who has haunted her dreams all her life – a man she always wished was real, but never imagined could actually exist. And she finds herself falling for him, into an otherworldly, time-crossed romance.

Michele is soon leading a double life, struggling to balance her contemporary high school world with her escapes into the past. But when she stumbles upon a terrible discovery, she is propelled on a race through history to save the boy she loves – a quest that will determine the fate of both of their lives.

My Review:

I have always loved out-of-time love stories. I was rather obsessed with Kate and Leopold and The Lake House when they came out, and I love the Doctor Who episodes like “The Girl in the Fireplace.” So when I heard about Timeless I got really excited!


The story itself was fairly interesting. I loved Philip! I always feel like I should have been born in another time because I cannot stand modern boys (for the most part). I want gentlemanly behavior and chivalrous treatment, and frankly boys look better in suits. (This is probably why I love steampunk as a genre – I’m too attached to my modern appliances to truly live back then, but I want to live before chivalry died.) I also thought she solved most of the convoluted-ness of the situation fairly well, but in some ways she explained everything, while in others nothing. 


This brings me to my second point. While I wanted to love the book, it felt like a prequel. It didn’t grab me and suck me in the way I wanted it to, because I spent the whole time waiting for something big to happen. Then, the last few pages finally felt like the start of the real story, but it ended! I think this is a result of what she chose to explain. In my mind, a prequel explains all of the little details in the backstory that weren’t absolutely essential to the original story, while the true “first book” explains all the really big important stuff. I wanted to know how Irving/Henry figured out how to time travel, and why he chose Michele’s mom and more of that story, but instead I got the side story of Michele’s romance.


That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the book, and I will definitely be looking for the second in the series. It’s a great book, especially for a debut! If you think you’ll like it, try it. If not, maybe wait until the rest of the series comes out and then try it.





Book Review: The Faeman Quest

May
10
4 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Book Review
The Faeman Quest The Faeman Quest by
Series: Faerie Wars #5
Published by in 2011
Genres: , ,
Pages: 368
Source:
Goodreads

When Mella, the daughter of King Consort Henry and Queen Holly Blue accidentally travels to the country of Haleklind, she discovers rebel forces preparing an invasion using a terrifying new magical weapon.

My Review:

I think first I need to ask has anyone heard of this series besides me? It’s one of my favorites, but every time I talk about it I get such blank stares! (Including internet *blank stares* which just makes me sad. This wonderful community should have at least one other person in it who knows the wonder of the Faerie Wars!) I’m considering a read-a-thon re-reading these, would anyone be interested in joining in?


I was a little surprised at the time skip from the end of the last book, even though I knew it had to happen. I think it was really well done though. We now get to see Henry as a grown-up – he has a 16-year-old daughter so he has to be at least 35, and is probably 40. It’s rare that we see a character (especially a main character) age that much in a YA or MG series (Faerie Wars is sorta borderline – think Harry Potter mixed with Artemis Fowl). The amazing thing is that Brennan still kept Henry the same and yet believable. He was still the Henry I loved originally but he’s become a father figure while I wasn’t looking.


I also loved the addition of Mella to the cast. She is such a mixture of Henry and Blue that she couldn’t possibly be anyone else’s daughter. She’s spunky independent and slightly quirky and completely loveable.


I’m so glad this isn’t the last book (it better not be!) and I eagerly await the next installment! (ASAP please Mr. Brennan. That wasn’t a very nice place to stop!)







Book Review: The Mysterious Benedict Society

May
09
0 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Book Review
The Mysterious Benedict Society The Mysterious Benedict Society by
Series: Mysterious Benedict Society #1
Published by in 2007
Genres: ,
Pages: 492
Source:
Goodreads

After Reynie Muldoon responds to an advertisement recruiting "gifted children looking for special opportunities," he finds himself in a world of mystery and adventure. The 11-year-old orphan is one of four children to complete a series of challenging and creative tasks, and he, Kate, Constance, and Sticky become the Mysterious Benedict Society. After being trained by Mr. Benedict and his assistants, the four travel to an isolated school where children are being trained by a criminal mastermind to participate in his schemes to take over the world. The young investigators need to use their special talents and abilities in order to discover Mr. Curtain's secrets, and their only chance to defeat him is through working together.

My Review:

This book was a little out of my comfort zone, but I’d heard good things about it, so I decided to give it a try. It is most definitely an MG novel, which I don’t mind so much as long as it’s well done, and I think this book was one of the best MG novels I’ve read. As an adult reader, I still had some questions, but they weren’t so pressing that they overwhelmed my enjoyment of the book. I think that’s the true test of a novel for a younger genre (either YA or MG) – can the book be enjoyed without all the answers.

Part of the enjoyment, of course, was the cast of characters. I found Reynie very easy to relate to, despite our difference in age. Kate and Sticky were the perfect Ron and Hermione to Reynie’s Harry, and Constance… well Constance was a nuisance as she is supposed to be, but it makes sense once you find out how old she is. And Benedict, dear old Mr. Benedict, is so cute! He really personified that “tired old man” vibe that we get from all the great mentors; Merlin, Dumbledore and all the rest.

But perhaps the best part for me, and one of the reasons I will definitely be recommending it to all ages, is the tone of the novel. One of my hugest pet peeves as a kid was being talked down to just because I was young. I wanted to be treated as an equal by adults, and I hated people, and novels, that just assumed because I was younger, I was ignorant, and unable to understand. This novel not only avoids that tone, it acknowledges the problem. This is the novel I wanted to read in Elementary School, because I would have felt just as put-upon as Reynie when his orphanage master didn’t even let him try to get into another, better school. Granted Reynie is the extreme, but the main point is still one worth listening to: Children are nowhere near as dumb as adults often make them out to be.

If you haven’t read this one yet, then I suggest you immediately put it on your TBR pile. Besides being educational, it’s pure fun!





Book Review: Fallen

Apr
28
2 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Book Review
Fallen Fallen by
Series: Fallen #1
in 2009
Genres: , ,
Pages: 452
Source:
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.

My Review:

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!





Book Review: A Tale of Two Castles

Apr
24
2 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Book Review
A Tale of Two Castles A Tale of Two Castles by
Series: A Tale of Two Castles #1
Published by in 2011
Genres: ,
Pages: 328
Source:
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.

My Review:

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!





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