Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Secret Year

Take Romeo and Juliet. Add The Outsiders. Mix thoroughly.
Colt and Julia were secretly together for an entire year, and no one—not even Julia’s boyfriend— knew. They had nothing in common, with Julia in her country club world on Black Mountain and Colt from down on the flats, but it never mattered. Until Julia dies in a car accident, and Colt learns the price of secrecy. He can’t mourn Julia openly, and he’s tormented that he might have played a part in her death. When Julia’s journal ends up in his hands, Colt relives their year together at the same time that he’s desperately trying to forget her. But how do you get over someone who was never yours in the first place?
Beth says 4.5 Stars...
The first debut I've read this year! Excitement and thrills. I honestly don't know why I picked this book up. It isn't what I generally gravitate towards since I normally go for fantasy. I'm glad I branched out a little for this one. It's interesting in that there isn't much of a plot. There's some tension and interplay between the rich kids and poor kids, but it doesn't drive the story. Instead, the story is about the characters and Colt's grieving process. Most of the really interesting action is told through Julia's journal entries and Colt's flashbacks to whatever was happening at the moment. This made the story structure very interesting, since it super-imposed the past and the present without really overlapping the two. It was different than anything I'd read recently, which was refreshing. I love it when authors are bold enough to do something different. The romance wasn't the only thing happening in the book. It also explored the dynamics of Colt's family, which was so fascinating. It wasn't sunshine and puppies, let me tell you.
The characters make this book. All of the important ones are so well done; they felt very real while I was reading. I can't believe that Colt was written by a woman! He sounded like an actual teenage guy, not how a girl would think a guy should be. The depth of emotion he delt with was remarkable. The supporting characters are also amazing; I feel a particular soft spot for Colt's older brother Tom. Some of the periphery characters fell a bit flat, but it wasn't too bad. The novel is completely driven by the characters, and because of Hubbard's skill at creating them was able to succeed. There's so much teenage angst, and while I understand the reasons for it, it did get to be a bit much for me, but just barely. That's actually a huge compliament, because generally whenever there's more than a teensy bit of angst I get annoyed and want to smack the main character. Instead I felt sorry for Colt (most of the time).
Overall, this was a great way to start my year reading debuts! I'm excited for whatever Hubbard brings to the table next, because this shows real talent and a lovely voice. This is for fans of realistic fiction, in particular those who like romantic books. This is looking at it from the other side, something that doesn't get done often. A really good read, and a fast one as well.
Book from Library

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

hush, hush

Romance was not part of Nora Grey's plan. She's never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how hard her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her. Not until Patch comes along. With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Patch draws Nora to him against her better judgment.
But after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora's not sure whom to trust. Patch seems to be everywhere she is and seems to know more about her than her closest friends. She can't decide whether she should fall into his arms or run and hide. And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds herself near a truth that is way more unsettling than anything Patch makes her feel.
For she is right in the middle of an ancient battle between the immortal and those who have fallen -- and, when it comes to choosing sides, the wrong choice will cost Nora her life.
Beth says 3.5 stars...
I thought that this book was going to great, I mean, look at the cover. The plot sounded so interesting and fun. Alas, it didn't live up to my expectations. The plot was not at all what I expected, and not in a good way. It felt very typical and so much more unoriginal than I expected. The pacing felt off, and not much was revealed until the end, when suddenly a large amount of information was dumped. I wanted more paranormal or something exciting, but all I got was flat romance. I also wished for more of a spark between the two main characters. I didn't feel the fire that was supposed to drive everything forward; the connection was the point of the book.
The characters individually weren't extraodrinary. At times, Patch really irritated me. Instead of being interestingly haughty, he came of as a bit of a jerk. Nora did nothing to redeem the book either. She wasn't great, but she wasn't bad. My problem is that I adore strong female characters, and I wouldn't put her in that category. The book revolved so much around those two, that a lot of the supporting characters didn't really get to be developed.
The main thing this book has going for it is that it's the beginning of a series. The ending showed promise for the rest of the series. I might pick up the next one, but I certainly won't be the first in line. Think of this as Twilight with fallen angels instead of vampires. Not the greatest debut, but still fun.
Book From Publisher

Thursday, March 18, 2010

2010 Debut Author Challenge

This year we decided that we are going to do at least one challenge, so, after much long debate, we decided to participate in the debut author challenge! We're really excited about it, and are looking forward to discovering great new authors. Last year had some amazing debuts, so hopefully this years are just as great. We want to know, what debuts are you excited about that we should ad to our list? (it's in the sidebar by the way)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Fire: Tales of Elemental Spirits

Master storytellers Robin McKinley and Peter Dickinson, the team behind Water: Tales of Elemental Spirits, collaborate again to create five captivating tales incorporating the element of fire.
In McKinley’s “First Flight,” a boy and his pet foogit unexpectedly take a dangerous ride on a dragon, and her “Hellhound” stars a mysterious dog as a key player in an eerie graveyard showdown. Dickinson introduces a young man who must defeat the creature threatening his clan in “Fireworm,” a slave who saves his village with a fiery magic spell in “Salamander Man,” and a girl whose new friend, the guardian of a mystical bird, is much older than he appears in “Phoenix.”
With time periods ranging from prehistoric to present day, and settings as varied as a graveyard, a medieval marketplace and a dragon academy, these stories are sure to intrigue and delight the authors’ longtime fans and newcomers alike.


Beth says 4 Stars...

I love Robin McKinley. I'm putting it out there because I'm completely biased because of how much I adore her. The Blue Sword is probably still my favorite book and I take it with me everywhere, inculding to college. This book was good, but not great. I really enjoyed all of the stories; Dickinson can hold his own in my mind. This is the second short story collection from a powerhouse couple in YA fantasy (I think that it's too cute that they're married). The stories have a common theme of fire that binds them together, but that's it. Some are higer fantasy, while others only graze the supernatural. McKinley and Dickinson are both master authors. The worlds that they create are palpable even though they're only in short stories.

The main problem I had with the book is that McKinley insists on writing in first person, although this effort fares significantly better than the ill-fated Dragonhaven (even I'll acknowledge how terrible that one was). I miss the beauty and lyricality that was a trademark of her writing. Her strength is her prose, and while it was still really good, it could have been better. It's difficult to pick a favorite story; none differ significantly in quality from the others. They all fit together and flow to create a pleasant collection.

While not a revelation, this is a really fun book. This is for fans of either author, those who enjoy short stories, or just a lover of fantasy. All in all, I'm glad I read it and am still excited about the continuation of this series.
Book from Library

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


So, we're hosting a contest! Thanks to our friends at Goodman Media, we're offering 5 (yes 5!) bottles of nail polish to celebrate the release of The Dark Divine by Bree Despain. The nail polish is a really fun and pretty purple color, and the bottles have the book title and everything on them. They're so adorable! So, the rules for the contest are as follows:

+1 entry for leaving a comment below that includes a story of a promise that either you or someone else broke.
+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)

The contest ends April 1. Good luck!

Happy Reading

Sunday, March 7, 2010

River Secrets

Razo--short, funny and not a great soldier--is sure it's out of pity that his captain asks him to join an elite mission--escorting the ambassador into Tira, Bayern's great enemy.

But when the Bayern arrive in the strange southern country, it’s Razo who discovers the first dead body. He’s the only Bayern able to befriend both the high and low born, people who can provide information about the ever-increasing murders. And he’s the one who must embrace his own talents in order to get the Bayern soldiers home again, alive.

Beth says 5 Stars...

As everyone knows, often series don't work. The first book is great, but then there's a serious letdown. By the time the third or fourth book rolls around it isn't even worth picking up. The Books of Bayern do not suffer from this fate. I think one of the main reasons is that Hale tells the stories of different characters. This plot was very different from that of the first two books, yet there were some distinct similarities (which I won't say so I can avoid spoilers). One of the major differences was that the main character did not posses any type of magical talent. His internal conflict therefore had to come from a completely different place than Enna's or Isi's. It belongs entirely to Razo, a character that had flitted around the edges of the first two novels. He made himself known, but his character wasn't really developed.

Razo goes through major growth, and the remarkable thing is that it's all believable. Nothing about his changes felt forced or false. I adored the new characters that were brought in; they added so much fun and a new flavor to the mix. It was also nice to be in a different country where Hale could enrich the world she'd created by showing us a new and different culture, and its relationships with the other countries we'd already been acquainted with. Other characters, those already known and loved, were also given their fair share of growth. Enna, for one, did not stay stagnant, and neither did her relationship with Finn. Even though all of this was carried out on the periphery of the story, it was still there and noticeable.

This is a fantastic book. You don't have to have read the other books to understand it, however, I'd recommend picking them up first. There's a whole level of richness that comes with having read them before. The characters are deeper, and everything just makes a little more sense. Overall, this series is fantastic. If you haven't read it go get Goose Girl right now and start. You won't be disappointed.

Book from Library

Friday, March 5, 2010

Deadly Little Lies

Sorry about the posting delay... my internet was having some issues with working, as in it wasn't. However, it's all fixed now!

Last fall, sixteen-year-old Camelia fell for Ben, the mysterious new boy at school who turned out to have a very
mysterious gift--pyschometry, the ability to sense the future through touch. But just as Camelia and Ben's romance began to heat up, he abruptly left town. Brokenhearted, Camelia has spent the last few months studying everything she can about psychometry, and experiencing her own strange brushes with premonition. Camelia wonders if Ben's abilities have somehow rubbed off on her. Can the power of psychometry be transferred?

Even once Ben returns to school, Camelia can't get close enough to share her secret with him. Despite the romantic tension between them, Ben remains aloof, avoiding contact. Then when an unexpected kiss leads to a frightening argument, Camelia makes the painful decision to let Ben go and move on. Adam, the hot new guy at work, seems good for her in ways Ben wasn't. Adam is easygoing, and seems to really care about her.
But when Camelia and Adam start dating, a surprising love triangle results. A chilling sequence of events upturns secrets from Ben's past--and Adam's. Someone is lying, and it’s up to Camelia to figure out who—before it’s too late.

Beth says 4 Stars...

Laurie Faria Stolarz knows how to scare the crap out of me. She has an uncanny skill with psychological torment that I keep coming back for (though I don't know why). This novel was no different; there were plenty of twists and turns to make me shake my head. The supernatural element was kept surprisingly minimal. It was always there, lurking, but never truly made its way to the forefront. I almost wish that it had a little more prominance, but I'm always all for more of the supernatural. The plot was interesting, but it was the thriller mentality of the novel that kept me going. It wasn't the most original, but I didn't expect the ending. Maybe I'm just thick, but it seemed to come from a completely different direction than I thought it would. I absolutely loved the creepy little journal entries interspersed throughout the book. They added an additional (and much needed) layer to the story, and also threw me for a loop when I actually realized their significance.

Something that isn't too thrilling about this book is the lack of character development. Yes, more information about the characters is revealed, but they don't really grow. They just stay in the same places that they started the book in. I guess I always expect more growth from series, but they have longer to work with the characters. I just wish that they would have gone somewhere different; they try to move on but can't.

Overall, this book is good, but nowhere near great. I found it fun and engaging without a lot of substance. You have to have read the first book in the series to really understand what's going on. If you read and ejoyed the first one go grab it, but if you're not willing to deal with freaky psychological stalking, run away fast.
Book from Library

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Juliet Club

Italy . . . Shakespeare . . . but no romance?
Kate Sanderson inherited her good sense from her mother, a disciplined law professor, and her admiration for the Bard from her father, a passionate Shakespeare scholar. When she gets dumped, out of the blue, for the Practically Perfect Ashley Lawson, she vows never to fall in love again. From now on she will control her own destiny, and every decision she makes will be highly reasoned and rational. She thinks Shakespeare would have approved.
So when she is accepted to a summer Shakespeare symposium in Verona, Italy, Kate sees it as the ideal way to get over her heartbreak once and for all. She'll lose herself in her studies, explore ancient architecture, and eat plenty of pasta and gelato. (Plus, she'll be getting college credit for it—another goal accomplished!) But can even completely logical Kate resist the romance of living in a beautiful villa in the city where those star-crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet met and died for each other? Especially when the other Shakespeare Scholars—in particular Giacomo, with his tousled brown hair, expressive dark eyes, and charming ways—try hard to break her protective shell?
"In fair Verona, where we lay our scene . . . "


Beth says 4 Stars...

This book was basically adorable. It was simply cute, but nothing really spectacular. The only real problem was that is was insanely predictable. At the beginning of the book I figured out the entire plot of the novel. The writing style was nice, but occasionally it jumped from character to character with little warning. At those points it was a bit odd, but within the first paragraph it became easy to tell who was speaking at the moment. The Shakespeare quotes and references were fun to spot, and the similarities found in the plot were fun, though they may have made it so predictable.

I thoroughly enjoyed Kate, the main character. I found her no-nonsense ways charming and slightly refreshing. I get irritated by large amounts of angst and flippancy in books, and was a bit scared that this one would contain a great deal of one or both. The rest of the characters provided equal amounts of amusement, and were a lovely supporting cast. The main male, Giacomo, was just what one would expect; dashing, good looking, and very stereotypically Italian.

Overall this book was just fun. Light and fluffy, it made for a great read after finishing my midterms. If you want some serious Shakespeare grab something by the Bard himself. If some cute chick-lit suits your mood, this is perfect. Don't expect anything surprising, but enjoy the ride anyway.