Sunday, August 29, 2010


*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.

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?

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.

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


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.

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

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.

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


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.

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.

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 ( 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.

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


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.

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