Thursday, July 29, 2010


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.

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.

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.


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.

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.

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.