Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Magic Under Glass

Nimira is a foreign music-hall girl forced to dance for mere pennies. When wealthy sorcerer Hollin Parry hires her to sing with a piano-playing automaton, Nimira believes it is the start of a new and better life. In Parry's world, however, buried secrets are beginning to stir. Unsettling below-stairs rumors swirl about ghosts, a madwoman roaming the halls, and Parry's involvement with a league of sorcerers who torture fairies for sport. Then Nimira discovers the spirit of a fairy gentleman named Erris is trapped inside the clockwork automaton, waiting for someone to break his curse. The two fall into a love that seems hopeless, and breaking the curse becomes a race against time, as not just their love, but the fate of the entire magical world may be in peril.
from amazon.com

Beth says 4 Stars...
I must say that I'm glad this book got a new cover. The old one is lovely, but completely wrong for the book and characters. This one is much more fitting. This book needs to be removed from the controversy and the covers. I enjoyed this one despite everything that I'd heard. The setting was intriguing, a combination of history and fantasy that enthralled me.

The characters were nice. Nothing amazing, but they did well. They didn't jump right off the page at me, however, there is at least another book for them to deepen. Also, the relationships should gain some more complexity, which I felt was missing in this book. The plot moved along well, and had some elements that I found to be rather surprising. I wasn't able to predict everything and that I enjoyed.

Overall this was a decent debut. The novel shows promise as a beginning of a series and just as a first effort. It works as a nice Victorian-ish read for summer. It's just light enough to be fun, but not pure fluff. I would recommend this to someone who wanted a nice romantic era fantasy with enough of a blend of the foreign and the familiar.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


Things should be great for Janie—she has graduated from high school and is spending her summer with Cabel, the guy she’s totally in love with. But deep down she’s panicking about how she’s going to survive her future when getting sucked into other people’s dreams is really starting to take its toll.

Things get even more complicated when she meets her father for the very first time—and he’s in a coma. As Janie uncovers his secret past, she begins to realize that the choice thought she had has more dire consequences than she ever imagined.
from simonandschuster.com

Beth says 4 Stars...
I've enjoyed this series and am sad to see it close. Again, the unique style employed by McMann took a little getting used to, but then became enjoyable. The issue I had was that it took the first third of the book to get anywhere at all. It didn't feel as though there was a plot, and the book had no direction. It was just kind of angsty and Janie just moped around. Once it got going it was really enthralling, and because of the writing style it moved so rapidly

The characters developed just enough. They could have grown more, but I wasn't left feeling severely disappointed. It was great that Janie's mother played a larger role and that their relationship, though dysfunctional to say the least, was explored. Of course, Janie and Cabe were a major focus. There were a couple of things that really surprised me that were a part of the book.

Overall this was a fun book. I've enjoyed the series and am sad to see it come to a close. This was a fitting end, although with a very different plot point from particularly the second book. If you've read the other two definitely grab this one to see how it all ends. I'm actually not quite clear on precisely what happened in the end, but it works. A good quick read for the summer.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Black is for Beginnings

Prophetic dreams. Near-brushes with death. Killers pursuing her and her friends. Stacey Brown knows that being a hereditary witch isn't all it's cracked up to be.

Stacey's nightmares are back. And all she wants to do is go to Colorado and work things out with Jacob, who hasn't been able to remember her since he lost his memory in his brush with death. But before Stacey and Jacob can have a future, they must face their pasts. Black is for Beginnings reveals the never-before-seen backstory—and what lies ahead—for the young, spellcasting lovers.

from amazon.com

Beth says 2 Stars...
I was really disappointed in this book. I absolutely love this series, and thought that a graphic novel would add another level of interest to the saga. This book was just not that great. Stolarz's signature is killer suspense that makes the book impossible to put down. This was completely lacking in that key element. I understand that this was supposed to be backstory, but it felt as though a majority of what went on was summarizing the first four books. Since I'd already read the rest of the series, it ended up just being dreadfully boring.

There was supposedly an element of suspense I certainly didn't see it at all. The visions really weren't creepy in the slightest, and I get terrified extraordinarily easily. Everything was just so much smaller... including the book. It wasn't nearly long enough, and so the plot and the characters didn't really have a chance to get going.

Overall I really disliked the book. It didn't do anything at all for the series, or my opinion of Stolarz. The new format was a nice change, but suffered from a pointless storyline and length constraints. I just wish that it could have carried the characters farther and actually added something to the series. I did appreciate the new information about how Stacey and Jacob grew up, but it didn't need an entire book. This was a true disappointment, and hopefully the series can recover.
Book from Publisher

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Perchance to Dream

Guys, we're so terribly sorry this has taken so long, but both of us were taken hostage by the monster that is finals and the end of freshman year. Now, we're home and everything should go back to normal!

We are such stuff as dreams are made on.
Act Two, Scene One
Growing up in the enchanted Thèâtre Illuminata, Beatrice Shakespeare Smith learned everything about every play ever written. She knew the Players and their parts, but she didn’t know that she, too, had magic. Now, she is the Mistress of Revels, the Teller of Tales, and determined to follow her stars. She is ready for the outside world.
But the outside world soon proves more topsy-turvy than any stage production. Bertie can make things happen by writing them, but outside the protective walls of the Thèâtre, nothing goes as planned. And her magic cannot help her make a decision between—
Nate: Her suave and swashbuckling pirate, now in mortal peril.
Ariel: A brooding, yet seductive, air spirit whose true motives remain unclear.
When Nate is kidnapped and taken prisoner by the Sea Goddess, only Bertie can free him. She and her fairy sidekicks embark on a journey aboard the Thèâtre’s caravan, using Bertie’s word magic to guide them. Along the way, they collect a sneak-thief, who has in his possession something most valuable, and meet The Mysterious Stranger, Bertie’s father—and the creator of the scrimshaw medallion. Bertie’s dreams are haunted by Nate, whose love for Bertie is keeping him alive, but in the daytime, it’s Ariel who is tantalizingly close, and the one she is falling for. Who does Bertie love the most? And will her magic be powerful enough to save her once she enters the Sea Goddess’s lair?
from amazon.com
Beth says 4.99 Stars...
I love this series. Eyes Like Stars quickly won a spot on my favorites shelf, and this second installment doesn't disappoint. Mantchev takes a risk by leaving the familiar setting of the Thèâtre and literally taking the show on the road. It was the slightly stereotypical hero's journey and traveling of a second book in a trilogy. However, what could have been flat and boring was lifted into the realm of entertaining by the quick wit that permiates the novel. Literary allusions abound, and there's impressive hilarity for those well-read enough to understand the jokes. I didn't get them all, but when I did I felt a small sense of pride and had a chuckle.
The funniest part of the book was the fairies. From the very first page they had me in stitches whenever they appeared. There were some fun new characters who added to the dynamic, but I still missed everyone from the Thèâtre. Bertie grew as a person, and so did her relationships with both Nate and Ariel. I love that they went in different directions and weren't stereotypical. I'm interested to see how everything resolves in the final book. The different magics in that world were also significantly explored, and I'm waiting for more. Bertie's powers have begun to take a fascinating shape, and what the other different characters can do is intriguing was well.
Overall I really liked this book. The reason I didn't give it 5 stars is that there was just something little missing that would have made it amazing. I can't put my finger on it, but it was there in Eyes Like Stars and not in this one. However, the book is still fantastic. Mantchev proves that she has a singiature style that absolutely delights and avoids the pitfall of a terrible sequel. I'm thoroughly excited for the next book. This is a good continuation of the series and sets up what should be a hilarious thrill ride of a final act.
Book from Publisher

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Scones and Sensibility

Seek tirelessly and you shall not find a contemporary heroine of middle-grade literature as refined and romantic as Miss Polly Madassa. Still swooning over the romantic conclusions of Pride & Prejudice and Anne of Green Gables, twelve-year-old Polly decides her purpose in life: helping along lonely hearts in search of love. Polly's only task this summer is to make deliveries for her parents' bakery, leaving ample time for this young cupid to find hearts to mend--beginning with the kite-store owner, Mr. Nightquist, who will pair perfectly with Miss Wiskerton (the unfairly labeled town curmudgeon). Polly's best friend Fran Fisk is in desperate need of a mother ever since hers ran off with a man she met on the Internet; Polly must find a match for Mr. Fisk. And while she's at it, it wouldn't hurt to find Clementine, Polly's teenaged sister, a beau worthy of her (so she can shed that brute, Clint). Polly's plans are in full swing, so she definitely cannot be bothered by the advances of classmate Brad Barker. But maybe Polly should have turned her attention to Miss Austen's Emma next, because she quickly learns the pitfalls of playing matchmaker. How will Polly patch up her own relationships, while ensuring that destined love can take its course?
from borders.com

Beth says 3.5 Stars...

This book was really cute. In fact, it went overboard on the cuteness factor. That was the main issue I had with the book. It became so cloyingly sweet that I didn't know what to do. Everything was saturated in pure sugar, and not in a good way. Overall, though, it wasn't bad. Eland is highly talented, as shown by the creation of Polly's highly stylized voice. The plot wasn't the most original concept, but it was less predictable, particularly the ending, than I thought it would be. I guess another major problem I had was the message that everyone needs to be coupled up. This really hits a nerve, because *gets on soapbox* I see it permeating YA and now MG books, and it distresses me. We need to be telling our young girls that they can be complete just by themselves. There's no need for a 12 year-old to be rushing into having a boyfriend. There is no need for anyone to have to define themselves and their value by whether or not they're in a romantic relationship. It concerns me that the next generation will think that this is completely normal. *steps off soapbox*

Polly was likeable enough, but every once in a while I had the strongest urge to strangle her. Speaking like a Victorian lady was cute at first, but then got really irritating. It felt completely contrived, although the phrases were lovely. I think that honestly it's just me, but I really don't enjoy that sort of thing. The supporting case was good, nothing great, but not bad either.

Overall, the book wasn't bad. It just ended not really being to my taste as far as tone, but that's my issue. I think that there's some promising writing talent in Eland, and I look forward to seeing what else she can do. This could be fun for middle school girls looking for something, light fluffy, and overflowing with cuteness.
Book from Publisher

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Scones and Sensibility Blog Tour!!!!

Today we're so excited to be a part of the Scones and Sensibility blog tour! Lindsay is a MG debut author, and we decided it would be fun to get to know her a little bit more. On that note, we conducted a lovely interview:

  1. What's your favorite Victorian novel? I’d have to say that it’s a three-way tie between Jane Austen’s Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice, and Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Erye.

2. What inspired you to write Scones and Sensibility? I was inspired by my desire to create a character who was very different than a lot, if not most, middle grade female main characters, as well as a character who reflected a lot of who I was as a middle grade reader…and actually, come to think of it, who I still am.

3. How difficult was it to write the very stylized voice of Polly? It wasn’t hard at all and it was actually tons of fun. Polly cracked me up and I remember anxiously awaiting my writing time each day in anticipation of what she would say or do next. The hardest part of writing her voice was actually to STOP writing or speaking like her after I was done writing for the day.

4. Were you ever a matchmaker and how did that work out? Thank goodness no! I’ve played matchmaker in my head though, and have always been thankful that I never said anything out loud…my matches would’ve been disastrous!

5. In your opinion, what's the best scone? Chocolate chip scones dusted with powdered sugar on top (cause everything tastes better with powdered sugar, right?). Cranberry orange scones are close behind.

6. Do you have a special pastry that you love to make? Yes, I love to make, and devour, chocolate éclairs. In my opinion, they are the epitome of the perfect pastry.

7. Are you more like Clemmy or Polly, and how? Definitely more like Polly. I’m guilty of being overly-dramatic, overly-romantic, and I too would love to go back and live in Regency England if for nothing else than to wear those gorgeous dresses and read all day long.

8. What was your favorite part of writing the novel? I think it was Polly. She was hilarious to me so writing the first draft…which is always the hardest part of writing for me…was completely and utterly fun.

9. How old were you when you read your first Jane Austen book? I’m actually embarrassed to say so, but I didn’t read Pride and Prejudice until I was about 22 or so! And of course, after finishing it, I quickly devoured all her others along with Jane Erye and all of Charles Dickens.

If you want to learn more about Scones and Sensibility look for our review, which will be coming up VERY soon! Also, if you want to continue following the tour, then head over tomorrow to Steph Su at http://stephsureads.blogspot.com/.