Monday, December 27, 2010

The Lost Saint



The non-stop sequel to The Dark Divine delivers an even hotter romance and more thrilling action than Bree Despain's first novel. Grace Divine made the ultimate sacrifice to cure Daniel Kalbi. She gave her soul to the wolf to save him and lost her beloved mother. When Grace receives a haunting phone call from Jude, she knows what she must do. She must become a Hound of Heaven. Desperate to find Jude, Grace befriends Talbot - a newcomer to town who promises her that he can help her be a hero. But as the two grow closer, the wolf grows in Grace, and her relationship with Daniel begins to crumble. Unaware of the dark path she is walking, Grace becomes prideful in her new abilities - not realizing that an old enemy has returned and deadly trap is about to be sprung. Readers, ravenous for more Grace and Daniel, will be itching to sink their teeth into The Lost Saint.
from amazon.com

Beth says 3.5 Stars...

This falls squarely under the category of fun books that are great for the holiday. The plot of the book was relatively well done, but there were still some flaws that detracted from the novel. A good deal more of the lore was explained, but most of it happened in a history lesson format, which always feels rather sloppy to me. The ending plot twist caught me only partially by surprise, and I figured out most of the supposed shockers throughout the novel. Although I read it rather quickly, it wasn't terribly engrossing and I could put it down rather easily. Nothing was really particularly exceptional, although nothing was awful either.

Throughout the book I was constantly annoyed with Grace. Her mood swings and irrational behavior drove me up a wall because she could have solved all of her problems so simply. Also, the chemistry between Grace and Daniel didn't particularly sizzle or smolder. There was definitely some there, but it just didn't reach the level that it really needed to. I really wanted the rest of the characters to gain more depth, but alas, that didn't happen. Instead of fleshing the other characters out, Despain introduced new ones that remained flat as well.

This really is just a book for a break. It doesn't have a particularly complex plot or characters, but still remains fun. If you liked the first one you should enjoy this one as well, but it's honestly nothing spectacular. This series is for those who simply can't get enough paranormal romance, but if you're reaching your quota go ahead and skip it.
Book from Publisher

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Extraordinary


I'm terribly sorry for the long absence, but I have an excuse! I just finished my finals, and as much as I love the blog I love passing my classes even more.

What does it mean to be extraordinary? Phoebe finds herself drawn to Mallory, the strange and secretive new kid in school. Soon the two girls are as close as sisters . . . until Mallory’s magnetic older brother, Ryland, appears. Ryland has an immediate, exciting hold on Phoebe—but a dangerous hold, for she begins to question her feelings about her best friend and, worse, about herself.

Soon she’ll discover the shocking, fantastical truth about Ryland and Mallory, and about an age-old debt they expect Phoebe to pay. Will she be strong enough to resist? Will she be special enough to save herself?
from nancywerlin.com

Beth says 3.5 Stars...

I adored Impossible and was really excited for this book. I was expecting to be blown away yet again, but I wasn't. It's not to say that the novel was awful by any means, but it just couldn't live up to my expectations. Once again, Werlin fuses fantasy and reality, however, the fantasy elements were slightly more pronounced throughout the book. One thing that really bothered me was how the book was formatted. The story was punctuated with little conversations with the faerie queen, showing the opinions and plots of the fay. I found it highly distracting and thought that it detracted from the story as it created a split in my attention. I had an idea of why Mallory and Ryland were doing things, but didn't fully understand. By the same token, I wasn't as confused as Phoebe so couldn't fully relate to her. This was the main problem of the book because it caused a severe disconnect for me, as I was unable to focus on either plotline. The rest of the plot was actually well done and very intriguing, but just suffered from a slight case of a split personality.

I had an issue connecting with the characters. I found Phoebe rather irritating and self absorbed. I wanted her to be stronger throughout the book, instead of just in flashes. I know that it's impossible to be strong all the time, but significantly more would have been realistic. The way Mallory was written made me dislike her for large chunks of the book, but overall I found her more appealing than Phoebe. Pyland was purposefully unlikeable, and so he did absolutely nothing to enhance the characterization.

Overall the book wasn't actually bad. I wouldn't put it anywhere near the top of my list, or even on it. This is one to wait for until it comes to your library. As much as I hate saying it, it wasn't nearly spectacular enough to capture my love. It felt rather ordinary.
Book from Library

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Exiled Queen


You can't always run from danger...

Haunted by the loss of his mother and sister, Han Alister journeys south to begin his schooling at Mystwerk House in Oden’s Ford. But leaving the Fells doesn’t mean danger isn’t far behind. Han is hunted every step of the way by the Bayars, a powerful wizarding family set on reclaiming the amulet Han stole from them. And Mystwerk House has dangers of its own. There, Han meets Crow, a mysterious wizard who agrees to tutor Han in the darker parts of sorcery—but the bargain they make is one Han may regret.

Meanwhile, Princess Raisa ana’Marianna runs from a forced marriage in the Fells, accompanied by her friend Amon and his triple of cadets. Now, the safest place for Raisa is Wein House, the military academy at Oden's Ford. If Raisa can pass as a regular student, Wein House will offer both sanctuary and the education Raisa needs to succeed as the next Gray Wolf queen.

The Exiled Queen is an epic tale of uncertain friendships, cut-throat politics, and the irresistible power of attraction.

Beth says 5 Stars...

I love Cinda Williams Chima. Her first trilogy was excellent, and the first Seven Realms novel was really good. However, The Exiled Queen was significantly better than The Demon King and surpassed my expectations. It's a prime example of epic high fantasy, which I've been craving of late. I know I've said this before, but with the market so saturated with paranormal romance a good epic adventure in a far-flung realm is hard to come by these days. Chima satisfied my craving and then some. I literally could not put this book down; I read it in two sittings, and the only reason it took me two was because I had to sleep. The plot is split between following Han and Raisa in their journeys to and in Oden's Ford. It's beautifully paced and flows completely naturally. There wasn't a forced moment in the entire book that I could tell. If one did exist, I didn't notice because I was utterly engrossed in what was happening on the page. The world completely came to life on the page for me.

Han just keeps getting better and better. I wasn't his biggest fan until the end of the last novel, but I now officially adore him. He's become much more than just a rough and tumble street lord with exceptional power and a fondness for his family. He finally reveals more about who he is, and I liked it. Raisa is basically awesome. She manages to walk the line between royal and relatable without seeming contrived. I both sympathized with her and looked up to her strength. She gained more independence and a firmer grip on the realities of the responsibilities being a future queen. The change of locale forced the characters to change and explore different sides to their personalities, which pushes them forward from a developmental standpoint. The supporting cast adds greatly to the story, but the brunt of the focus rests on the two main characters who bear it well.

I'm sorry if this review is a little gushy, but I just can't help it. This was an amazing continuation of a series I'm head over heels for. The ending was a cliffhanger (of course) and I can't wait to get my hands on the next novel. I thoroughly recommend this series for any fantasy lovers, or, honestly, pretty much anyone. This was one of my favorite reads of the year and has me anxiously awaiting another book.
Book from Library

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Torment


Lucinda is sure that she and Daniel are meant to be together forever. Now they are forced apart in a desperate bid to save Luce from the Outcasts–immortals who want her dead. As she discovers more about her past lives, Luce starts to suspect that Daniel is hiding something. What if he has lied to her about their shared past? What if Luce is really meant to be with someone else?
from laurenkate.com

Beth says 4 Stars...

This book was just fun. Serious literature; heavens no. I was actually expecting a little less, so the book came as a pleasant surprise. The change of scenery was really helpful in creating a new atmosphere to differentiate this novel from Fallen. I loved the new school, and it was a great device to allow more information about the angels to be given to the reader without seeming forced. Unlike in other novels, having Lucinda go to class really made sense. One of my biggest complaints with many recent novels is that they don't really explain any of the mythology. Lauren Kate finally did, and it made me even more interested, particularly the highly blurry relationship between good and evil. I also really liked how she developed the role of the creepy shadows. In general, the school environment was just more layered and delightful. The pacing of the plot, unfortunately, was off. It felt like a middle book because there were long stretches where nothing would really happen.

The characters were better, particularly Lucinda. Daniel remains the swoon-worthy and emotionally conflicted fallen angel. He didn't actually become more interesting, although he and Lucinda continued to smolder whenever they were together. I was impressed by Lucinda, though. Initially I thought that she was just another stereotypical paranormal romance heroine who couldn't do a thing by herself. Imagine my shock when she proved me wrong on multiple occasions! Specifics would be too spoilery, but suffice it to say that she officially isn't wrapped up in meeting the love of her life as a teen. The supporting cast was relatively good as well, but nothing absolutely stellar.

If you liked Fallen, or even just thought it was okay go ahead and grab Torment. It improves where Kate left off, but be prepared for a slower read that's definitely setting up for the next installment. It won't blow your mind, but you'll have a good time reading it.
Book from Library

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Linger


This is the story of a boy who used to be a wolf and a girl who was becoming one.

Just a few months ago, it was Sam who was the mythical creature. His was the disease we couldn't cure. His was the good-bye that meant the most. He had the body that was a mystery, too strange and wonderful and terrifying to comprehend.

But now it is spring. With the heat, the remaining wolves will soon be falling out of their wolf pelts and back into their human bodies. Sam stays Sam, and Cole stays Cole, and it's only me who's not firmly in my own skin.
from maggiestiefvater.com

Beth says 4.5 Stars...

This wasn't quite as good as Shiver, however, it was still quite enjoyable. Again, I LOVE the design of the book. Come on, the text is color coordinated with the book (this time it's green!!). The book lacked a true air of mystery, despite attempting to project one. I could see almost all of the end coming from the very beginning. If it hadn't attempted to feel mysterious it would have worked better. The plot was well done, although there were a few moments that left me scratching my head. There was, however, a lack of urgency which made it really lovely. Things just flowed from one to the next without any feeling of being forced. It was also relatively well paced, without any dramatic changes in action speed. Stiefvater also pulls off writing from multiple perspectives effortlessly. It is helpful that the chapters are labeled (not going to lie here), but the characters have such unique voices that it's impossible to mistake one for another.

Speaking of the characters, Cole was a delightful addition. His issues and backstory make for fascinating reading, plus he's a perfect foil for Sam. Grace and Isabel compliment each other, and I appreciate the direction in which their friendship is moving. However, the most important relationship is Grace and Sam's, which shows no sign of becoming boring or weakening. It changed in this book, though, to be one almost like an older married couple. It had that feel of sweetness and understanding to it instead of just puppy eyes and hormones.

Overall, I really enjoyed it. There's no point in reading it without having read Shiver because it won't make any sense at all. If you liked the first one then you'll enjoy this. It elaborates on the werewolves and raises some unexpected questions about their existence. It's a relatively quick read, and thoroughly enjoyable. It's a paranormal romance that won't have you throwing a feminist ideals induced fit (well, not a bad one anyway). If you're looking for a bit of fantasy and romance without the insipid heroine this series might be for you.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Clockwork Angel


Magic is dangerous--but love is more dangerous still.

When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London's Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, keep order amidst the chaos.

Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, members of a secret organization called The Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform, at will, into another person. What's more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa's power for his own.

Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters of the London Institute, who swear to find her brother if she will use her power to help them. She soon finds herself fascinated by--and torn between--two best friends: James, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arm's length...everyone, that is, but Tessa. As their search draws them deep into the heart of an arcane plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world...and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all.
from amazon.com

Beth says 5 Stars...

I can't even pretend not to love Cassandra Claire. Her books are delightful, with a fabulous grit and sheen at the same time. If you, like me, fell in love with her Mortal Instruments series, then the wait for Clockwork Angel was a grueling one. I had extremely high expectations when I laid hands on this novel. Needless to say, Claire did not disappoint. Instead of modern-day New York City, the action takes place in Victorian London, but not quite what Jane Austen would have seen. The steampunk elements of the book were simply delightful. They weren't overdone, but seemed to be a natural part of the book. The mystery element of the plot was well done, and I didn't see the ending until right before it happened. I was absolutely sucked into the story and couldn't put the book down.

The characters were delightful, just as I had hoped. Tessa is just vulnerable enough; she pulls at your heart without being weak. Her confusion elicits sympathy, but she has an undercurrent of strength that makes you want to identify with her. Of course, the Shadowhunters are beyond fantastic and deadly. The new crop has some familiar names, but they are all different and their own characters, although there are a few traits that are apparently genetic (have fun figuring them out!). Will and Jem work so well together, but are both intriguing. It appears as if all of them have their own secrets that will hopefully come out in the next book or two. It's also so much fun to get to see a bit of Magnus Bane's past, and, honestly, he's just plain awesome.

This is a must-read for those who loved Claire's other books and those who've never picked them up. The blend of the Victorian era, Shadowhunters, and Claire's writing create a magical novel that runs like clockwork (groan if you want to... totally warranted). For a great blend of fantasy and adventure, with a dose of sarcasm for good measure, grab this one now, and by now I mean yesterday.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Bloodthirsty


Some vampires are good. Some are evil. Some are faking it to get girls.

Awkward and allergic to the sun, sixteen-year-old Finbar Frame never gets the girl. But when he notices that all the female students at his school are obsessed with a vampire romance novel called Bloodthirsty, Finbar decides to boldly go where no sane guy has gone before-he becomes a vampire, minus the whole blood sucking part.

With his brooding nature and weirdly pale skin, it's surprisingly easy for Finbar to pretend to be paranormal. But, when he meets the one girl who just might like him for who he really is, he discovers that his life as a pseudo-vampire is more complicated than he expected.

Beth says 4.5 Stars...
After all of the build up, the review is finally here! This book was just hilarious. The plot was so entertaining; I mean seriously. The main character pretends that he's a vampire in order to get a date. It has some delicious satire of the vampire crazy. Let's be honest people; it's gotten way out of control. The plot and writing kept me in stitches constantly. Finbar (an excellent name) gets into some ridiculous situations, and I loved it. The pacing was well done overall, despite the fact that the book took a smidge to get going. The writing was almost creepily spot on for the voice of a 16 year old guy. It has all the things in it that I thought a guy would think, if that makes any sense.

Finbar was just what I wanted. He's the sensitive guy who should, if the movies were right, get the girl, but never does. His "transformation" is too funny. His obsessive pursuit of vampiric knowledge to his attempts to attain the proper vampire attitude had me giggling constantly. His family and the rest of the characters were perfectly adequate, but none gave me quite the level of delight that he did. The fangirls were probably second on the list of most entertaining; they reminded me a bit too much of people I've seen.

Overall the book was really good and one of the best debuts of the year. It did get a bit preachy, which I found a bit irritating; that's why I knocked it down some. However, this is a perfect read for those who love to hate the vampire craze, or just think that it's kinda funny. This is a refreshing bit of satire in a world saturated with vampire novels.
Book from Publisher

Friday, October 15, 2010

Contest Winners!


We're so excited to announce the winners of Bloodthirsty! They are *drumroll please*

Amy
Maddie M.
thetherin

If our lovely winners don't contact us at bnbookblog@gmail.com then we will go back to the random number generator and find these books a good home :) Thanks to everyone who participated, and our review of the book will be up this weekend. You all are in for some laughs.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

I Now Pronounce You Someone Else


Today we're a part of the blog tour for I Now Pronounce You Someone Else!

Seventeen-year-old Bronwen Oliver has a secret: She's really Phoebe, the lost daughter of the loving Lilywhite family. That's the only way to explain her cold, manipulative mother, distant stepfather, and good-for-nothing brother; Bronwen must have been switched at birth, and she can't wait to get back to her real family.Then she meets Jared. He's sweet, funny, everything she wants-and he has the family Bronwen has always wanted too. When he proposes four months after they meet, she says yes. But as the wedding day approaches, Bronwen begins to wonder if Jared is truly what she needs. And if he's not, she has to ask: What would Phoebe Lillywhite do?
from borders.com

Beth says 3.5 Stars...

This book was rather divisive for me. There were some things that I really liked about it, and other things I simply didn't. I think that McCahan has a good deal of talent as far as pure prose is concerned. The town felt delightfully realistic, not contrived at all. An issue that I often have with realistic fiction is that some authors try to be too real and end up completely missing the mark. The setting of this book felt true to life, impressive for a first showing. The pacing was also well done with the book keeping a constant tempo throughout. The plot begins where I had my issues, however well paced it was. The crux of the book is that Bronwen ends up defining herself by her relationship. I shall not get on my special soapbox *again*, but it's something that really bothers me.

That brings me to Bronwen. I REALLY didn't like her. I found her to be weak and lacking in a fully formed identity. While some girls may relate to her issues and faults, I didn't and instead found them to be irritating. I will say that her voice was very fully formed and distinctive, with her character well drawn as well. However, none of this made me like her. That was my fundamental issue with the book. It would have been very good if I'd actually found the main character tolerable, but, alas, that was not the case. I found Jared to be rather blah; a nice guy, but lacking the smolder needed to carry the role of leading man.

Again, I'm very divided when it comes to this book. It's obvious that McCahan has talent, but I intensely disliked the main character, whose point of view the story is told from. Additionally, I was not a fan of the ending, but I shan't say more to spoil it. This will hit the spot perfectly for those who love romances and stories of girls struggling to find themselves.
Book from Publisher

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Daughter of the Flames


Inside an ancient temple in the mountains, fifteen-year-old Zira trains in the martial arts to become a warrior priestess who can defend the faith of the Ruan people. Bearing a scar on her face from the fire that killed her parents, the orphaned Zira is taught to distrust the occupying Sedornes. Terror strikes when the forces of the tyrannical Sedorne king destroy the only home she knows. To survive, Zira must unravel the secrets of her identity, decide her people’s fate — and accept her growing feelings for a man who should be her enemy.
from randomhouse.ca

Beth says 5 Stars...

I was super excited when I picked up this book because I absolutely adored Marriott's debut, The Swan Kingdom. I had high expectations, which actually weren't met. The book was so different from what I thought it would be that it just threw all of them out the window. I thought that this was going to be one of those sweeping and epic fairytale novels, but I was completely wrong. Instead I was treated to a book that managed to examine issues of fate, identity, and political unrest beautifully. The plot was so unexpected, but absolutely delightful. I really enjoyed reading it; I couldn't put it down! The world was so interesting and simply sucked me in. I loved how detailed it was in such a small tome.

The characters were fantastic. Zira was a delightful heroine whose struggle with her identity wasn't overdone. I could feel her conflict, which was without self pity. It was simply trying to find her place and adjust to new knowledge of her past. She really changed throughout the course of the story, but it felt natural. Her strength, tenacity, and reason made me feel for and connect with her. The rest of the cast was equally well drawn, and another aspect I felt really shined was the main romantic relationship. It wasn't what has become the typical popular idea of love, instead it was based on mutual respect and earned trust. It was incredibly refreshing.

This is a delightful book. I would recommend it for fans of Tamora Pierce or other fantasy novels that feature a strong female main character. I read that there's going to be a sequel, but I'm honestly not sure how it'll work. I thought that it wrapped up rather nicely, and didn't leave everything hanging like most series books. I'm excited to see where Marriott takes the story, and will pick up the next book as soon as I can. Grab this one whenever you get a chance!
Book from Library

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Bloodthirsty Giveaway!!!!!


We're super excited to be able to bring you free books! Thanks to our lovely friends over at Little, Brown books we have 3 HARDCOVER copies of Bloodthirsty to give away. We've posted a summary below, so read it and enjoy the hilarity. We're going to be posting a review relatively soonish, so get excited. So now to the rules of the contest which will end on the 13th of this month. They're the same as normal, just tweaked to fit the excellent theme:

+1 entry for leaving a comment with your favorite vampire (and why if you want to explain)*
+1 entry for becoming a follower
+2 entries for already being a follower
+1 entry for any tweet, you can get up to 5 (send us links)
+3 entries for making a blog post (send us a link)

EDIT: Sorry guys, this is for US and Canada only as per publisher requests :(

(Here's the summary from Amazon)
Some vampires are good. Some are evil. Some are faking it to get girls.

Awkward and allergic to the sun, sixteen-year-old Finbar Frame never gets the girl. But when he notices that all the female students at his school are obsessed with a vampire romance novel called Bloodthirsty, Finbar decides to boldly go where no sane guy has gone before-he becomes a vampire, minus the whole blood sucking part.

With his brooding nature and weirdly pale skin, it's surprisingly easy for Finbar to pretend to be paranormal. But, when he meets the one girl who just might like him for who he really is, he discovers that his life as a pseudo-vampire is more complicated than he expected.

This hilarious debut novel is for anyone who believes that sometimes even nice guys-without sharp teeth or sparkly skin-- can get the girl.

*(Beth totally votes for Spike from BtVS... swoon)

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Mistwood


Isabel remembers nothing. Nothing before the prince rode into her forest to take her back to the castle. Nothing about who she is supposed to be, or the powers she is supposed to have.

Prince Rokan needs Isabel to be his Shifter. He needs her ability to shift to animal form, to wind, to mist. He needs her lethal speed and superhuman strength. And he needs her loyalty—because without it, she may be his greatest threat.

Isabel knows that her prince is lying to her, but she can't help wanting to protect him from the dangers and intrigues of the court . . . until a deadly truth shatters the bond between them.

Now Isabel faces a choice that threatens her loyalty, her heart . . . and everything she thought she knew.

from harperteen.com

Beth says 2.5 Stars...

I was super excited about this one. Something that wasn't a paranormal romance, plus a debut. I was unfortunately let down. It had the same sort of general feel as Kristen Cashore's novels, but without the power and combination of everything that makes them so remarkable. The storyline had the potential to be interesting, and it and the concept were the two best parts of the book. I say potential because the writing kept everything from becoming great. The plot had issues with pacing and clarity. I didn't always know what was going on and why I should have been interested in whatever was occurring on the page. I spent a good deal of the book wondering why I was reading it. There was also an unequal distribution of revelations in the mystery aspect of the story, which can kill the pacing with swift blows. Additionally, the background and mythology of the universe weren't explored at all, which increased the feeling of artificiality in the world. I wanted to learn more about what made the magic tick, and was completely let down.

The characters weren't any better. I felt no connection to Isabel, which was partially due to her nature as wild and different. Even though I understood the need for this, it served to alienate me from the story; keeping me from becoming emotionally invested in her fate. Rokan was the most likeable of the characters, but that's really not saying terribly much. Every one of them was so incredibly flat that I couldn't bring myself to care about what was happening. It's not the fantasy element, but just that there wasn't anything remarkable in the slightest about this book.

This was so disappointing. I wanted to love it but simply couldn't. I honestly don't think that it's really worth it at all. So, even though I hate saying this about a book, don't pick it up. You won't miss a thing.
Book from Library

Monday, September 27, 2010

Incarceron


Incarceron is a prison so vast that it contains not only cells, but also metal forests, dilapidated cities, and vast wilderness. Finn, a seventeen-year-old prisoner, has no memory of his childhood and is sure that he came from Outside Incarceron. Very few prisoners believe that there is an Outside, however, which makes escape seems impossible.

And then Finn finds a crystal key that allows him to communicate with a girl named Claudia. She claims to live Outside—she is the daughter of the Warden of Incarceron, and doomed to an arranged marriage. Finn is determined to escape the prison and Claudia believes she can help him. But they don’t realize that there is more to Incarceron than meets the eye, and escape will take their greatest courage and cost more than they know. Because Incarceron is alive.
from us.penguingroup.com

Beth says 5 Stars...

Wow. I must say that this book rocked my socks off. First of all, the concept is so incredibly fascinating. You have the self contained living prison that is Incarceron, which is mind blowing in and of itself. However, the depths of the prison have yet to be explored and I can't wait to see where they lead. Fisher didn't just stop with one amazingly crafted world, though. She just had to be an overachiever and fashion another completely separate kingdom for a world within a world. You'll have to read it to find out which is which, though. Another delightful thing is the ambiguity in the time sequence. I was never entirely sure of when the book was taking place, if it was the future, the past, or something entirely separate and loved every minute of it. The book not only kept me guessing with the story, but it made me think. It assumed that its readers were intelligent and could be taken on a wild ride without condescension. The plot moves along at a delightful pace, and manages to keep it up despite constantly switching perspectives from Finn to Claudia.

The characters were fantastic as well. They weren't the best ever, but they fit into the flow of the book perfectly. The chemistry between Finn and Claudia was perhaps not as amazing as it could have been, but it wasn't the most important part of the story. They were much more interesting as individuals in their separate worlds. They handled situations completely differently which further emphasized how for removed they were from one another.

I honestly can't wait to see where this series goes. I have no idea what can be done for the second novel and can't wait to find out. This is a refreshing fantasy that assumes intelligence on the part of the reader and most definitely does not fall into the paranormal romance genre.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Awesomeness of Michelle Zink


(So as a disclaimer, Michelle would like everyone to know that this photo was taken on the 7th day of her tour and that she's super exhausted.)

So, last night I drove close to 2 hours to meet the fantastic Michelle Zink, author of Prophecy of the Sisters and Guardian of the Gate. If you haven't read her books you really should, because they're excellent, and I'm not just saying that.

So, to the event. I made my way to the Barnes and Noble and managed to not look creepy while wandering around for 10 minutes before finding the area for the chat/signing. Michelle was absolutely the sweetest, recognizing me from this lovely interweb. There wasn't a gigantic crowd, so we ended up arranging the chairs in a circle and just chatted. There was a rather varied group, consisting of some parents, middle and high schoolers (who had seen her at school visits earlier), and then myself and a lovely young teacher named Eva (who's in the picture up top as well). The topics varied, but centered around books and writing. It was so much fun and very intimate, plus I totally sat beside her :)

After the Q&A was finished she sat down and signed books for everyone who wanted to buy them, which was everyone. The store was also really awesome and raffled two books away. I didn't win one, but thought it was so lovely of them to do. Eva and I ended up staying later and just talked with Michelle while she signed stock. It was an absolute blast. Michelle was so willing to talk to everyone who came, no matter what age, but I loved the end as she was getting ready to go. I can't even put into words how sweet and wonderful she is! This was the first real book signing I'd ever been to and was an amazing experience. If Michelle ever comes to your area my advice is GO (and buy her books :P)! I wish this sort of thing happened every Friday night.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Line


Rachel lives with her mother on The Property. The good thing about living there is that it’s far from the city where the oppressive government is most active. The bad thing, at least to most people, is that it’s close to the Line—an uncrossable section of the National Border Defense System, an invisible barrier that encloses the entire country.

She can see the Line from the greenhouse windows, but she is forbidden to go near it. Across the Line is Away, and though Rachel has heard many whispers about the dangers there, she’s never really believed the stories. Until the day she hears a recording that could only have come from across the Line.
from terihall.com

Beth says 3 Stars...

I really didn't enjoy this one, which was upsetting. The concept behind it is so fantastic that I wanted to love it, but couldn't. The issue I had was really with the writing. This was the most disappointing of the debuts for me thus far. All I can say was that the writing was stylistically odd. I never really felt connected to the characters because the perspective kept changing. The 3rd person narrative shifted focus whenever it was convenient, which just became confusing with the mystery elements of the narrative. The issue was that all of the people had different amounts of knowledge about the story, and this just created inconsistencies for me as the reader. I was never entirely sure of what was going on. These problems with the writing also really kept me from connecting with the characters. I need to be completely drawn into the world, and really wasn't. Without that pull, I didn't really care what happened to them, as awful as that sounds. Also, in order to get all of the necessary information in Hall had Rachel recite history lessons to her mother. It just felt forced and placed in there solely for the purpose of explanation. This is going to be a short review because I just don't have that much to say about it. It wasn't awful, but it could have been a whole lot better. What could have happened was that it could have lived up to the potential of the original idea and been a fascinating look at a scary future.
Book from Library

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Dead Tossed Waves


Gabry lives a quiet life, secure in her town next to the sea and behind the Barrier. She's content to let her friends dream of the Dark City up the coast while she watches from the top of her lighthouse. Home is all she's ever known, and all she needs for happiness.

But life after the Return is never safe, and there are threats even the Barrier can't hold back.

Gabry's mother thought she left her secrets behind in the Forest of Hands and Teeth, but like the dead in their world, secrets don't stay buried. And now, Gabry's world is crumbling.

One night beyond the Barrier...

One boy Gabry's known forever and one veiled in mystery...

One reckless moment, and half of Gabry's generation is dead, the other half imprisoned.

Gabry knows only one thing: if she is to have any hope of a future, she must face the forest of her mother's past.
from carrieryan.com

Beth says 4 Stars...

I'd been looking forward to this book for a while, because I really enjoyed Ryan's first novel and wanted to support a local author. I was extremely impressed by the writing. It was so different from The Forest of Hands and Teeth stylistically, yet managed to feel authentic. Gone were the stilted phrases and antiquated vocabulary that set her first novel apart. Instead they were replaced by the remarkable realistic and angsty voice of an average modern-day teen. I was expecting a sequel at first, and this wasn't one at all. There were a few familiar characters, but this wasn't a true continuation of Mary's personal story. The burden instead falls upon her daughter Gabry, but I'll get to her later. The plot was interesting, but it took a little while to really get going. Being in a different place threw me for a loop and I had to get my bearings. I didn't really get the point of the story until I was significantly into the book, but one I found it it was great.

So now we come to Gabry... not my favorite. She wasn't awful, but she just kept moping and angsting. I understand that there were some intense and crazy things going on in her life, but seriously? When she wasn't experiencing a mood swing she was scared out of her wits. I have this thing for the uber-strong female main characters, so one that comes across as a little weaker rather irks me. By the end of the novel she had grown on me slightly, but will never rank high on my awesome list. The other characters were much more satisfying. I loved both of the boys in their different ways. I also thought it was interesting to see another side of the same world from The Forest of Hands and Teeth. I had a completely different sense of the things that had happened from Gabry growing up somewhere else. It really enhanced the world and story overall.

This really was a good companion novel. Even though the main character didn't rock even my shoes off, the story and enhancement of the world made it a worthwhile read. It's a different take on zombies. Also, I'm excited for the next book, because with this ending there has to be one. Things were getting insanely interesting... anyway, this is a fun series to offer an alternative to the paranormal romance for those who want something slightly deviant.
Book from Library

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Mockingjay


*I'm going to attempt to be spoiler-free about this one, but there are going to be huge spoilers if you haven't read the other two. I can't help that, though*

Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice. But now that she’s made it out of the bloody arena alive, she’s still not safe. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge. Who do they think should pay for the unrest? Katniss. And what’s worse, President Snow has made it clear that no one else is safe either. Not Katniss’s family, not her friends, not the people of District 12.
from amazon.com

Beth says 5 Stars...

Oh. My. God. That was my reaction when I finished this book. Quite often hyped books disappoint, but Mockingjay wasn't one of them. Whatever I had expected from Collins, this wasn't it, but in the best possible way. Yes, it still moved the story forward, but it wasn't a repeat of the first two. This novel centers on the rebellion and Katniss's struggle to find her place in the new world she's been thrust into. It was very interesting to get to learn more about District 13, which has always been this mythical place; an example of the might of the Capital in it's supposed destruction. Well, shall we say that things are a bit more complicated than that. The plot was beyond amazing. I never knew what was coming next, and only was able to predict one twist. I was constantly on the edge of my seat and couldn't put it down, despite having homework...

This one, even though it's as action packed as expected, really belongs to the characters. I felt that I truly got to know Katniss in a way that doesn't happen very often. Perhaps it was the combination of the first person narrative and the intense action, but I feel that the main connection came from how much of the book was psychologically focused. Collins really delved deep into what makes Katniss tick, and it's fascinating and scary. I think that quite often in books there's all of this violence and everyone is completely fine. In this one, they aren't. You get to see the toll that living this life has taken on all of them, from Katniss to Peeta to Gale to the multitudes of rebels.

I'm going to have to cut this one a little short, because I'm afraid that I'll ruin it for everyone else. Grab it yesterday, because it's one of the few books for which the hype is completely deserved. If you haven't read this series, get out from under the rock where you've been living and read them ASAP. You won't regret it.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Princess and the Hound


He is a prince and heir to a kingdom threatened on all sides, possessor of the forbidden animal magic.

She is a princess from a rival kingdom, the daughter her father never wanted, isolated from all except her hound.

In this lush and beautifully written fairy-tale romance, a prince, a princess, and two kingdoms are joined in the aftermath of a war. Proud, stubborn, and bound to marry for duty, George and Beatrice will steal your heart—but will they fall in love?
from harperteen.com

Beth says 4 Stars...

One of the biggest things I didn't understand about this book was that it's billed as a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. To that I say a resounding, what? I saw basically no overlap in the two tales and just found the description bizarre. That being said, this is an incredibly interesting novel. What I think might turn some readers off is that it's slow, as in slower than molasses flowing uphill in winter for the first third or so. That whole chunk of the book is background information, but I honestly didn't mind that much. Yes, it is something of a flaw, but at the same time could be considered a strength. This book isn't based on a thrill ride of a plot that moves fast enough to give you whiplash. Instead it's about speculation and the world Harrison creates. Almost all of the information is necessary to understand George as a person, although I was not a fan of the disjointed nature of the forward progression of the narrative. Quite frequently it was difficult to determine where in time the action was taking place.

The characters were interesting. I'll say as much as I can without getting spoilery, because there are some big ones. As much as I understood George I just wasn't able to connect with him. I honestly can't say why, but it changes nothing. Beatrice was interesting, but kept at a distance from the reader because she was viewed through George's eyes. Also, I think the fact that there wasn't very much dialogue put some distance between the characters and the readers. This isn't to say that anything's bad, it simply is.

Overall, I think that this is the type of YA that we need. It isn't concerned with being ordinary and dares to do something different. It isn't going to be a universal crowd pleaser, but it's a worthwhile novel. It has musings about the nature of power, and how our parents and everyone else's expectations can shape our lives and personalities.
book bought

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Beautiful Creatures


We were pretty much the epicenter of the middle of nowhere.
At least, that's what I thought.
Turns out, I couldn't have been more wrong.
There was a curse.
There was a girl.
And in the end, there was a grave.

Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she's struggling to conceal her power, and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.

Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town's oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.

In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.
from bn.com

Beth says 4 Stars...

I know that this book has been both loved and hyped, and honestly I understand it. What it does is take the trend (which is really starting to get tired) of the paranormal romance type novel and do it well in a slightly different way. The whole supernatural element of the story (no spoilers here) was not the typical redemptive evil monster deal, which was refreshing. The plot kept me interested, but I thought there were some serious problems with pacing. The movement of the story really slowed at some points and then the authors had to play catch up. I also liked the concept of the flashbacks, but felt that they interrupted the flow of the book, and that there could have been a better way to give readers the necessary information. Stylistically it's very interesting because it was written by two different people and reads like the work of a single author. There's no switch of perspectives, a la Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, or even obvious character discrepancies. The background writing is absolutely delightful and helps to create a lush and mysterious setting.

One of my issues was with the dialogue. It was very highly stylized to make the reader feel as though they are in the South, and at times was over the top. I'm sorry, but as a Southern girl myself some people down here do know how use decent grammar. The characters were interesting, and I love small town stories. I guess I can just imagine it more vividly, or perhaps it's just that I find it to be more relatable, but for whatever reason they tend to capture my imagination. Ethan and Lena were so great together and apart, but it was very interesting to see the story from the male perspective. Ethan's voice seemed very authentic to me, but maybe it's because that's how I think that a guy would think, if that makes any sense. I also appreciated the fact that their relationship and feelings for one another were a part of their lives, but not all consuming. The character given to the dog Boo was one of the nice little touches that helped separate this book from the multitudes of others with similar central themes.

Overall this was a fun and slightly (very slightly) different novel. This is for all of you fans of Twilight and all of the other paranormal romance novels that line the shelves. It's a promising debut and I look forward to reading the second book in what promises to be a fun series, if sometimes a little overdramatic.

Book Bought

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Peeled


Something's rotten in the heart of apple country!

Hildy Biddle dreams of being a journalist. A reporter for her high school newspaper, The Core, she's just waiting for a chance to prove herself. Not content to just cover school issues, Hildy's drawn to the town's big story—the haunted old Ludlow house. On the surface, Banesville, USA, seems like such a happy place, but lately, eerie happenings and ghostly sightings are making Hildy take a deeper look.

Her efforts to find out who is really haunting Banesville isn't making her popular, and she starts wondering if she's cut out to be a journalist after all. But she refuses to give up, because, hopefully, the truth will set a few ghosts free.
from bn.com

Beth says 4 Stars...

I honestly don't know why I grabbed this book (although it might have to do with the clearance shelf at Books-A-Million) but I'm glad I did. It was just a great deal of fun and rather unexpected. When I read the summary I thought that it would be a cute little book about a small town girl with some quirky characters. I can always appreciate small town quirk since where I live is home to about 4000 residents; I can relate. The plot ended up being something completely different and unexpected. The main focus was on the journalism being done by Hildy, which was how both she and the readers got information. There was a lovely element of mystery, which enhanced the story without detracting from the characters. The setting was cute and quaint, but anyone afraid of apples needs to beware. Produce and farming permeated the novel and it completely made sense, although some of the names just got a bit silly.

The main fun to be had was with the characters. Hildy was filled with spunk and journalistic drive that oozed out of the page. As someone who's never been particularly interested in the inner workings of a newspaper, it could have been beyond boring, but it wasn't. That was due to the hilarious supporting cast that made up the rest of the staff at The Core (again a reference to apples). The town was filled with wild personalities, from a motherly Polish woman, a over-dramatic psychic, to a suspicious editor of the local newspaper. Hildy's family also played a role in the book, and they helped to balance out some of the stranger personalities.

Overall this is just a really cute read. It does try to make you think about the truth and freedom of the press, but not very successfully. If you want some light intrigue and more than a dash of quirk pick Peeled from a store near you (I couldn't resist a little fruit-themed humor).
Book Bought

Monday, August 16, 2010

Fantasy Reading Challenge

So, we just happened to stumble upon this challenge yesterday, and decided to go for it! We're going to shoot for the Obsessed level, which means that we have to read 20 books by the end of the year. The list is going to be in a sidebar and starts with Guardian of the Gate. There's not too much time left in the year, but this is supposed to be a challenge after all! If we can't hit 20 from today forward, we'll put what we've already read (this year) on the list. In fact, we might just do it to see how many fantasy books we've read. Allons-y!

(here's the link to the challenge http://alainereading.blogspot.com/2009/12/2010-fantasy-reading-challenge_05.html)

Guardian of the Gate


The ultimate battle between sisters is nearing, and its outcome could have catastrophic consequences. As sixteen year-old Lia Milthorpe searches for a way to end the prophecy, her twin sister Alice hones the skills she'll need to defeat Lia. Alice will stop at nothing to reclaim her sister's role in the prophecy, and that's not the only thing she wants: There's also Lia's boyfriend James.

Lia and Alice always knew the Prophecy would turn those closest to them against them. But they didn't know what betrayal could lead them to do. In the end, only one sister will be left standing.
from amazon.com

Beth says 5 Stars...

I'm seriously in love with this series. I must say that this wasn't the follow up that I expected. What I loved about Prophecy was its dark and gothic tone, which changed in Guardian, but it wasn't bad. In fact, it was delightful. The cause of this difference was the altered setting; this time the story moved to England and other locations that I shan't name in order to attempt to remain spoiler free. Instead of dark and foreboding I was treated to exotic and intoxicating. I was swept up in Lia's journey and loved every minute of it. The plot moved along very nicely, slowing down and speeding up to keep things interesting. Even when there wasn't a lot of movement in the middle I understood why because instead of going somewhere new physically, I got so much new information that enhanced the mythology of the prophecy.

This book was amazing for Lia. It was astounding to see her without the constant foil of Alice. This isn't to say that she wasn't in the book, but she instead became an ominous figure looming in the background. Personally, that made her even more creepy. Now back to Lia. It was really interesting to see her on her own because she turned into a different character. She became so much stronger, but these changes weren't overdone. It felt as though Lia adapted to the circumstances and came out a force, one that will be needed in the third book. There's also some love triangling, with Lia away from dear James while Alice still is near him, and the addition of a dark and mysterious man. It gets a little steamier, but you'll have to read to find out the details. Sonia and Louisa continued to have layers added to their characters, but this really was about the evolution of Lia.

The main question is when the third book is coming out. The end leaves things hanging and primed for the final chapter in this delightfully different series. Pick these books up if you're tired of reading the same paranormal romances over and over. Michelle Zink creates a lush and entrancing gothic world different from anything you're likely to read. If you haven't read this series yet, go and get it right now. This was an amazing continuation of a great story, and I'm anxiously awaiting the third novel.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Darklight


Faerie can't lie . . . or can they?

Much has changed since autumn, when Kelley Winslow learned she was a Faerie princess, fell in love with changeling guard Sonny Flannery, and saved the mortal realm from the ravages of the Wild Hunt. Now Kelley is stuck in New York City, rehearsing Romeo and Juliet and missing Sonny more with every stage kiss, while Sonny has been forced back to the Otherworld and into a deadly game of cat and mouse with the remaining Hunters and Queen Mabh herself.

When a terrifying encounter sends Kelley tumbling into the Otherworld, her reunion with Sonny is joyful but destined to be cut short. An ancient, hidden magick is stirring, and a dangerous new enemy is willing to risk everything to claim that power. Caught in a web of Faerie deception and shifting allegiances, Kelley and Sonny must tread carefully, for each next step could topple a kingdom . . . or tear them apart.

With breathtakingly high stakes, the talented Lesley Livingston delivers soaring romance and vividly magical characters in darklight, the second novel in the trilogy that began with wondrous strange.
from harperteen.com

Beth says 4.5 Stars...

This was very good, but didn't have quite the same magic as the first novel. I think that what was missing was the theater aspect. In Wondrous Strange the stage melded seamlessly with the rest of the action whereas here it just didn't work. It just felt excessive, and while I saw a few points where it made sense overall the Romeo and Juliet sideline was less than stellar. Other than that, the plot was really lovely. It was great to be able to delve more deeply into the mythology of Livingston's world and to visit Faerie for the first time. Her descriptions became even more vivid, and I loved that her version was slightly different from what I'd read before. I guess because I had just finished with Marr's Radiant Shadows the differences were magnified and came to my attention.

The characters just kept getting better. There were more of them, and the old ones changed in ways both positive and negative. Some of the revelations at the end were very unexpected, and that I loved. As far as development of the characters this definitely felt like a middle book. They progressed and changed, particularly Kelley who was forced to grow into her powers much more, but only to a certain point. There's still a good ways to go for all of them, but they have another book in which to make it happen.

The book ends poised for the final chapter in this lovely trilogy. I can't wait for the third book because this one did it's job perfectly; it moved things forward without overdoing them. This is a great faerie series for those who want some romance without all the darkness.
Book Bought

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Love Is the Higher Law


The lives of three teens—Claire, Jasper, and Peter—are altered forever on September 11, 2001. Claire, a high school junior, has to get to her younger brother in his classroom. Jasper, a college sophomore from Brooklyn, wakes to his parents’ frantic calls from Korea, wondering if he’s okay. Peter, a classmate of Claire’s, has to make his way back to school as everything happens around him.

Here are three teens whose intertwining lives are reshaped by this catastrophic event. As each gets to know the other, their moments become wound around each other’s in a way that leads to new understandings, new friendships, and new levels of awareness for the world around them and the people close by.
from amazon.com

Beth says 4.5 Stars...

This is still a touchy subject. I think that everyone can still remember exactly what they were doing when they heard the news of the attacks on 9/11. This is and isn't about what happened. Yes, there are the physical details about New York City, but again this is a book by David Levithan. The main focus is on the characters, of course. The plot isn't really that solid; there's no major action. Instead it's about how these people deal with what's happened in their lives. They all end up intersecting in interesting ways and coming together because of this tragedy that has impacted all of them.

As in the rest of his books, Levithan absolutely creates unforgettable characters. They all just meld so well together, but also have distinct issues and problems. I thought that it could have been crass and awful by using 9/11 as a plot device, but it didn't. It was a very organic reaction to what happened and wasn't contrived. I was really able to feel the pain and healing of the characters, and also the city itself. The setting was almost like another character as well. This was a lovely book which really gives everything to the reader. It's impossible to not feel the pain and beauty of this story.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Dirty Little Secrets


Everyone has a secret. But Lucy’s is bigger and dirtier than most. It’s one she’s been hiding for years—that her mom’s out-of-control hoarding has turned their lives into a world of garbage and shame. She’s managed to keep her home life hidden from her best friend and her crush, knowing they’d be disgusted by the truth. So, when her mom dies suddenly in their home, Lucy hesitates to call 911 because revealing their way of life would make her future unbearable—and she begins her two-day plan to set her life right.

Beth says 4.5 Stars...

This was unexpectedly good. It took me into a world that I never even thought about or really known existed. It's impossible to imagine what would make someone hoard, but even more so how you would be able to live with a hoarder while not one yourself. This is what Lucy has to deal with every day. Counting down the days until she can leave the mess and secrets behind we get a glimpse at her world at a pivotal moment. When her mother dies you get to see her thought process about how to make sure that her secret stays safe. The plot was different because there wasn't the normal epic journey forward. Instead, it was reactionary growth and introspection which really deepened my connection with and understanding of Lucy.

Lucy is an interesting character who is acutely aware of people's perceptions. It's interesting to see the world from inside her mind. She goes about normal human interactions in a completely different manner in order to keep her secret hidden. I was absolutely immersed in her perspective and began to see the world through her eyes. The only issue I had was that the supporting characters were underdeveloped. All the focus was on Lucy, and how she viewed everything and everyone, and that detracted from the rest of the characters. I really would have liked to see more of her siblings in order to further my understanding of the family dynamics and how their mother's condition affected them all. I did enjoy the use of flashbacks, because that was the only was that we got to know Lucy's mother.

Overall I enjoyed this book. It's definitely a quick read, but I wouldn't say it's a fun one. The novel is an intense look into a secret world that exists right beside our own. It should make you think about yourself and also people you know, and wonder what type of secrets they're keeping.
Book from Library

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Contemps

Hello everyone! Reviews are coming (we promise), but we just got an exciting e-mail. An awesome group of authors has gotten together and they're trying to get the word out about great YA realistic fiction. The main point is to let the world know that there are books out there for teens that feature real life scenarios.

Now, here at in BetweeN the pages you might have noticed that we're not the biggest readers of realistic fiction. However, this doesn't mean that we dislike it; in fact we love pretty much everything! Plus, this group is about to launch a crazy fun site (www.thecontemps.com) on 8/17. They'll have posts from authors, book spotlights, various author events, and, oh yeah, contests! You can also follow them on twitter now at YAContemps.

We're pumped about this and wanted to share with y'all. There are 22 authors involved and here's the list:

Brent Crawford
Hannah Harrington
April Henry
Kirsten Hubbard
Denise Jaden
Kody Keplinger
Jo Knowles
Lindsey Leavitt
Sarah Darer Littman
Cynthea Liu
Michael Northrop
Sarah Ockler
Micol Ostow
Lisa Schroeder
Elizabeth Scott
Mindi Scott
Emily Wing Smith
Courtney Summers
Kristen Tracy
Melissa Walker
Sara Bennett Wealer
Daisy Whitney

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Lord Sunday


Seven days. Seven keys. Seven virtues. Seven sins.

In this thrilling conclusion to Garth Nix's Keys to the Kingdom series, Arthur Penhaligon must complete his quest to save the Kingdom he is heir to...and Arthur's world.
from amazon.com

Beth says 4.5 Stars...

So another series comes to a close. Garth Nix (who's one of my favorite authors) has taken us on a ride through the House that controls the universe and all of the worlds that compose it. As a closer this book was good. It did get choppy at times, but that was really because it attempted to tie up all of the loose plot ends. I felt that particular goal was accomplished rather successfully. He doesn't leave everything hanging, and the few lingering questions are just the normal ones for a series ender. The only other thing that I had an issue with was the pacing. It got really slow in the middle, and then ended with a final chunk so fast it almost gave me whiplash, but I enjoyed the ride. I was not expecting the ending, which was refreshing. Nix wrapped up everything in a way that proved why he's a great talent in fantasy.

Arthur grew yet again in this book, and what's more, this book belonged to him. I don't think that he's ever remained stagnant, which is remarkable. This time he became even more Denizen than anything else, and felt that weight. He was more aloof and quick to anger, but a major part of the book is Arthur's struggle to retain his humanity and identity. There were, of course, other characters, but they all paled in comparison and importance to Arthur. I love the fact that Nix isn't afraid to place that sort of content in a book meant for middle schoolers. Nothing is dumbed down for the sake of an age group that supposedly can't comprehend complex issues. The high point of this philosophical and intense musing is in the final chapters, which bring the series to a beautiful close. They send a message that validates the books without getting too heady or preaching.

This was a lovely closer. The main issue that I had was that it got rather slow in the middle. The grand scope of this series wasn't lost in attempting to wrap everything up in a tidy little package. Instead, although it created some struggles, Nix pulled the threads together and wove them into a workable ending. The gaps are slight, proving that this is a fantastic, and epic, series.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Fallen


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.
from laurenkatebooks.com

Beth says 4 Stars...

Finally, a paranormal romance that works! The shelves have been inundated by less than stellar rip offs of Twilight (which actually isn't that amazing to begin with) and I've gotten tired of it. Seriously, who needs to read the exact same story 15 times with different paranormal creatures? The first thing that made this one different was the setting; a Southern (not so different) reform school/mental institute (now that's something new). The cast of characters was interesting overall, partially because you knew that they all had secrets as to why they were at the school. The pacing of the book did get a bit slow in the middle, but it picked back up nicely once Kate decided to give the readers some more information.

Luce is interesting, but not the most riveting main character. The issue I had was that in repressing her own traumatic memories the readers were deprived interesting information that helped explain her personality. Also, she was kinda, well, wishy washy with the guys. The love triangle was interesting, but Daniel was the star. He smoldered through the page and was delightful when he got all dark and broody (after watching Buffy I have a thing for broody). It was nice how he wasn't (quite) the typical male lead, but he still followed the same patterns.

The issues I had were that even though there were parts that were original, a good deal wasn't. I got some similarities to the Immortals series by Noel and a touch of hush, hush. Fallen shows promise because it's well written. Hopefully that will come through and the plot will move in different directions in the next book(s?). This is a story that really pulls you in and refuses to let go until the mystery is finished. A nice summer read if you want something that's on the dark side.

Book Bought

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Shade


First in a young adult urban fantasy series about a world of ghosts only the young can see.

When Aura’s boyfriend meets a most untimely end, she is forced to reconsider her relationship with the living and the dead.
from jerismithready.com

Beth says 4 Stars...

Another fun paranormal from the Debs! Honestly, I think it's just that I'm drawn to the genre, but I find that there are more and more of them out there. That's great for lovers of fantasy and magic like me, but then there's also the problem of everything sounding the same. Yes, there were some very typical elements in this story, but they were fun. The concept itself, with everyone born after "the Shift" being able to see ghosts, was something that I hadn't seen before. How it was used, in part, was very familiar though. A large portion of the story revolves around the love triangle between Aura, her dead boyfriend Logan, and the attractive yet mysterious new Scottish guy in town.

The triangle was fun. There was enough added quirk that it didn't become tiresome or too familiar. Aura was a really lovely character, whose struggles never became too much. You could understand what she was going through and felt her pain without ever being annoyed. I have this problem of getting annoyed with mopey characters, and despite all of her pain Aura never became mopey. Logan, however, got kind of annoying. I can't exactly put my finger on it, but perhaps it's that he constantly stayed self centered and never really thought about Aura or anyone else, for that matter. Zachary on the other hand was delightful. Maybe it's the fact that I could hear a Scottish accent in my mind, but I found him to be so much more appealing. He showed all of the signs of being a great male counterpart, and has a backstory that I want to know more about.

The best part of the book is the world and the concept. It's unique and something that I want to know more about. The ending makes a sequel necessary and I believe one is on the way. I can't wait to learn more about the Shift, and the very interesting magical goings on that were hinted at and seen in this book.

book read on Pulse It

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Paper Towns


Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs back into his life - dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge - he follows.

After their all-nighter ends and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues - and they’re for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees of the girl he thought he knew.
from bn.com

Beth says 3 Stars...

I think that I may be the only person, but I didn't particularly care for this book. I just didn't see the point; everything went around in circles. At the end I felt like nothing had really moved forward and that we were at the same point where we started. I know that Green places much more of an emphasis on the characters, and they were good. Don't get me wrong, they were amazing, but just not good enough to compensate from the complete lack of forward movement that I felt. The true bright spot of the book was the dialogue. It was so quick, fantastic, and filled with a lovely wit. The one-liners were spaced throughout the book and brimmed with sarcasm.

I honestly can't really explain why I didn't like this one. I've read other novels where there isn't too much of anything going on and loved them, but somehow this just didn't strike my fancy. I know that most people really have enjoyed this one, but it just didn't do it for me. I'm having trouble articulating right now, and I apologize, but jet lag and I aren't best friends. Suffice it to say that for whatever reason I didn't love this book.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Viva España!!!!!


I know that this is supposed to be about books, but this is too awesome to not blog about. So I think that I mentioned on the blog that I'm in Spain studying right now, but last night Spain won the World Cup. In the US it isn't that big of a deal, but here it's crazy. This was the first time that they've won and it was a crazy nation wide party. As in people in the streets yelling, winging, and waving flags at 3 am kind of deal. So, I wanted you all to know why I haven't posted. Well, I've been celebrating because yo soy español!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Are We There Yet?


Sixteen-year-old Elijah is completely mellow and his 23-year-old brother Danny is completely not, so it’s no wonder they can barely tolerate one another. So what better way to repair their broken relationship than to trick them into taking a trip to Italy together? Soon, though, their parents’ perfect solution has become Danny and Elijah’s nightmare as they’re forced to spend countless hours together. But then Elijah meets Julia, and soon the brothers aren’t together nearly as much. And then Julia meets Danny and soon all three of them are in a mixed-up, turned-around, never-what-you-expect world of brothers, Italy, and love.

Are We There Yet? isn’t about a place on a map, it’s about a place in the heart. David Levithan has written a magical story of a journey definitely worth taking.

from daivdlevithan.com

Beth says 3.5 Stars...

I didn't love this book. It rather pains me to say it, because I've adored everything else I've read by Levithan. This means that I know good and well that he's a character writer and plot doesn't tend to matter. However, I felt like this one really could have used something. The characters were good, don't get me wrong, but I just wanted something more. The book centers around the trip that two very different brothers take to Italy together after they've been set up by their parents. The "plot" follows them through multiple cities and their daily lives. It is actually a psychological examination of their relationship and how they view one another and the world.

Danny,the older brother, is much more painfully self-aware and has no comprehension of his brother's life. It's interesting to see him develop an understanding and change his views of himself. Elijah is the opposite, someone who lives life freely and doesn't really feel awkwardness. The psychological study was interesting one you got into it, but it took a while. The first 5 or 6 chapters just did absolutely nothing for me. I think a problem was that I couldn't really relate to them. I'm on neither extreme personalities wise, and am also an only child. Even though the relationship between siblings is interesting to me, I don't have the experience to understand it.

Overall this book fell short. It would be more interesting for people with siblings, or that are really interested in psychological character profiles. If you want to try some David Levithan, I'd grab one of his other novels as your introduction.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Claire de Lune


Hanover Falls hasn’t had a werewolf problem in over one hundred years. Seattle, Copenhagen, Osaka–they’ve had plenty of attacks. But when humans begin dying in Claire Benoit’s town, the panic spreads faster than a rumor at a pep rally. At Claire’s sixteenth birthday party, the gruesome killings are all anyone can talk about. But the big news in Claire’s mind is the fact that Matthew Engle–high-school soccer god and son of a world-renowned lycanthropy expert–notices her. And flirts with her. A lot.

That night, Claire learns that she is the latest in a long line of Benoit werewolves, and that contrary to popular belief, all werewolves are female. Killing humans is forbidden by the code of the pack, but a rogue werewolf has been breaking that law, threatening the existence of Claire’s new pack. As the pack struggles to find and fight the rogue werewolf and Claire struggles with her lupine identity, her heart and her loyalties are torn in two. Claire must keep her new life a secret from even her best friend–and especially from Matthew, whose father is leading the werewolf hunt…and with whom Claire is impossibly and undeniably falling head-over-paws in love.
from christinejohnstonbooks.com

Beth says 3.5 Stars...

I expected a little something different from this book. It ended up simply being another paranormal romance, with heavy emphasis on the romance. The plot was decent, but the mystery wasn't too complicated. I managed to guess the "bad guy" about a third of the way through the book; it was that transparent. The false leads weren't very good if you were paying attention, but if not they might make it much more entertaining. One of my biggest issues was with the world building. I wanted to know more about the history of werewolves in this alternative universe, yet was more than disappointed. I really wanted to know so much more about the mythology and feel like that really would have helped the book. It would have added a much needed element of layering to everything.

Claire was a very good character. Her struggles were made relatable and her voice felt authentic, as did the personalities of most of the others. Her relationship with Emily was fun to read because despite their ups and downs they really remained best friends. It was nice to see a representation of two girls actually getting along without attempting to push one another down the stairs. Matthew felt a little meh to me, to put it scientifically. He was just rather cute and cookie cutter, and didn't smolder. It was the same with his relationship with Claire, which ended up becoming the main focus of the book. There needed to be a little more heat and a little less cute to make it really work.

I think that Johnson has potential, but this book just wasn't quite for me. It could have been much better than it was due to its unique perspective on werewolves. Instead it fell prey to the Twilight copycat syndrome. Heavy on the romance and light on basically everything else. Also, I found the ending to be a bit too filled with sunshine and rainbows. The one hope is that it looks primed for a sequel, which would hopefully deepen things more than a bit. This would be a good summer read for a lover of the genre who wanted something light and possibly mysterious.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Musician's Daughter


Amid the glitter and glamour of musical and court life in 18th century Vienna, fifteen-year-old Theresa Maria Shurman is trying to solve a brutal mystery. Who killed her father, an acclaimed violinist, and stole his valuable Amati violin? When Haydn himself offers her a position as his assistant, it gives Theresa access to life in the palace–and to a world of deceit. Theresa uncovers blackmail and extortion even as she discovers courage and honor in unexpected places: from a Gypsy camp on the banks of the Danube, to the rarefied life of the imperial family. And she feels the stirrings of a first, tentative love for someone who is as deeply involved in the mystery as she is.
from bn.com

Beth says 4.5 Stars...

This book was lovely. I might be a little prejudiced because I'm a band/music geek, but it just warms my heart when music plays a prominent role in a story. The setting was so perfectly done that I was transported to Vienna, and upon recalling my trip there everything was described exactly right. Often historical fiction feels contrived and stale. Dunlap deftly avoided this problem and created relatable characters despite the differences in periods. One thing that I do love about historical fiction is when it blends reality with fantasy (not the magic kind, although that's awesome as well) as was done in this novel. The main characters were complete fabrications, but others, including Haydn, were based off of real people. The partially real characters were well written in that they became individuals in their own rights. The music played such an integral role in the story, but it didn't make it unintelligible for someone with no knowledge of music. They would still be able to enjoy the story. The issue I had was that sometimes the plot became a little much. The mystery got out of hand and didn't flow as smoothly as it could have. There were a few too many threads for Dunlap to control, but I feel like some of that will come with time and experience. The characters were great, especially the gypsies. They brought a delightful vibrancy to the story that lept off of the page. Theresa performed her role adequately but wasn't the greatest heroine ever. The thing was, she didn't need to be. The strength of the book was in Dunlap's world building talent. This is for someone who either loves music, or wishes to jump back in time to the world of the Hapsburgs.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Sorcery and Cecelia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot


Hola from Spain! Both Nathan and I are abroad with spotty internet connections. We'll post whenever we can (I'll try now that I'm settled with my host family), but thing might not be happening frequently. It will get better... I promise.

A great deal is happening in London this season.
For starters, there's the witch who tried to poison Kate at Sir Hilary's induction into the Royal College of Wizards. (Since when does hot chocolate burn a hole straight through one's dress?!)
Then there's Dorothea. Is it a spell that's made her the toast of the town--or could it possibly have something to do with the charm-bag under Oliver's bed?
And speaking of Oliver, just how long can Cecelia and Kate make excuses for him? Ever since he was turned into a tree, he hasn't bothered to tell anyone where he is!
The girls might think it all a magical nightmare . . . if only they weren't having so much fun.

Beth says 5 Stars...

This is very possibly the cutest book in existence. It's simply oodles of fun, and it makes ME, the chemistry loving feminist that I am, want to debut in London. Plus it has two possible titles. Come on. The format of the book is part of its appeal; it's written in the form of letters between two cousins, one who is at home at the country estate and the other who is having her season in London. Of course, various hijinks and balls ensue. All of this leads to a delightful plot, which flows well from both perspectives. The magic is present, but isn't in the forefront. The world is full of gentlemen wizards who do things like work with the Duke of Wellington instead of slaying dragons.

The characters are simply delightful. Kate and Cecy are warm and funny while taking you on their adventures. It really feels like you are browsing through the correspondence of some friends instead of reading something that doesn't exist. The leading men are fantastic as well. I show a preference for the hilariously sardonic Thomas, but there's nothing wrong with James. I simply like a bit of cynicism with my mysterious (or odious) Marquis. The aunts are so much fun, and I love how their personalities are so distinct. They fill the same role in completely different ways.

This is the perfect book for summer. It's light and fluffy, but won't do anything to bring down your IQ. Take it to the beach, or anywhere, but just read it. It's a fairly quick read so then it's time for the next two in the series. This one is definitely for girls and would make a great gift as well. Basically, it's awesome and is a summer must-read.