Thursday, June 30, 2011

Summer reading

This week, I'm hanging out at the beach. It's beautiful here: white sand dunes, wild sea oats blowing in the wind, loggerhead turtles and dolphins swimming in the ocean. A perfect time to get some reading done. And I have. When I first got here, I read two books (SMOKIN' SEVENTEEN and MISS PEREGRINE'S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN) and a pile of magazines in two days. But now, I'm stuck. I can't seem to get into another book. WHY?!?! I DNF-ed two and am perilously close to giving up on another one because the main character is annoying me (she's one of those snarky, uses-grand-hand-gestures, and speaks-super-fast-because-the-author-thinks-that's-how-all-teens-talk chicks. Uhg.).


I have my Kindle but nothing on it looks appealing at the moment. Luckily, there is (spotty) internet service so I can always buy a book through Whispernet. What I need are good beach-worthy suggestions. Nothing too dark or depressing. Nothing that involves too much thinking -- brain candy books are what I need. Humor is a plus as is action. YA, urban fantasy, fun mysteries or chick lit would all suit, I think.


Any suggestions? Please, help a girl out! Thanks and happy reading!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Waiting on...EVERNEATH by Brodi Ashton

Last spring, Nikki Beckett vanished, sucked into an underworld known as the Everneath, where immortals Feed on the emotions of despairing humans. Now she's returned- to her old life, her family, her friends- before being banished back to the underworld... this time forever.

She has six months before the Everneath comes to claim her, six months for good-byes she can't find the words for, six months to find redemption, if it exists.

Nikki longs to spend these months reconnecting with her boyfriend, Jack, the one person she loves more than anything. But there's a problem: Cole, the smoldering immortal who first enticed her to the Everneath, has followed Nikki to the mortal world. And he'll do whatever it takes to bring her back- this time as his queen. 

Hum...sounds kind of like a Persephone story, doesn't it? Kind of an interesting twist. Plus, I love the flow-y dress and the smoke rising on the cover (but where's her face?). EVERNEATH comes out in January 2012 from HarperCollins.


Waiting on is a meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

MISS PEREGRINE'S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN by Ransom Riggs

YA Paranormal
352 pages
Available now
Review copy provided by publisher

A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. And a strange collection of very curious photographs. It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children who once lived here—one of whom was his own grandfather—were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a desolate island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

Positive: The surprising plotline. This is something I haven't seen before and I really enjoyed it a lot more than I even thought I would. (No vampires or angels or demons in this paranormal!)

Positive:The settings. It all starts out so mundane -- an average boy in an average house in an average town. But after Jacob's grandfather is brutally murdered and Jacob sees the monsters his grandfather always warned him about, we move to an eerie, isolated island off the coast of Wales. The island is filled with close-mouthed locals, cliffs, bogs, and a rotten, falling-down mansion that freaks out the townspeople. *shiver*

Positive: Grandfather's stories and the accompanying creepy pictures. Did you know that all the pictures in this book are real? This isn't to say that the images weren't manipulated back when they were taken but, because they're "real", it kind of makes you wonder a bit as you gaze at the photo little levitating girl or the boy with bees swarming all over his upper body.

Wish: That this weren't a series. It would have made a fantastic-fabulous stand-alone. However, I do appreciate that there wasn't a massive cliffhanger, though much is still up in the air.

Overall: Deliciously creepy and well worth a read. MISS PEREGRINE'S is a monsters-under-the-bed story wrapped in a freak show peopled by some very peculiar children.

Available on Amazon | IndieBound

Monday, June 27, 2011

UNCOMMON CRIMINALS by Ally Carter

YA Contemporary
298 pages
Available now
Review copy purchased

Katarina Bishop has worn a lot of labels in her short life: Friend. Niece. Daughter. Thief. But for the last two months she’s simply been known as the girl who ran the crew that robbed the greatest museum in the world. That’s why Kat isn’t surprised when she’s asked to steal the infamous Cleopatra Emerald so it can be returned to its rightful owners. 

There are only three problems. First, the gem hasn’t been seen in public in thirty years. Second, since the fall of the Egyptian empire and the suicide of Cleopatra, no one who holds the emerald keeps it for long — and in Kat’s world, history almost always repeats itself. But it’s the third problem that makes Kat’s crew the most nervous, and that is . . . the emerald is cursed.

Kat might be in way over her head, but she’s not going down without a fight. After all, she has her best friend — the gorgeous Hale — and the rest of her crew with her as they chase the Cleopatra around the globe, dodging curses and realizing that the same tricks and cons her family has used for centuries are useless this time.

Which means, this time, Katarina Bishop is making up her own rules.

Positive: Oh, the caper. What an awesome crime they pulled off (It'd be so cool to hold a huge, cursed emerald...wait, on second thought maybe not) and then the twisted caper at the end! Boy, Kat and her team are wicked smart.

Positive: Kat. She's so intelligent and yet very vulnerable, especially when it comes to asking for help. Oh, and in love. Poor girl. She likes Hale so much but she's determined to keep her distance. Luckily, Hale isn't quite so willing to let her do that.

Positive: The cons. I love the crazy names, the people involved (I mean, who doesn't love Hamish and Angus? Crazy Scots.), and the conning of the cons.

Wish: That Kat seemed more her age. She's supposed to be sixteen (is that right? Maybe I'm wrong.) but she acts much older. Maybe it's because of the type of family she grew up in or the work she does, I'm not sure. Whatever the reason, it didn't take away from my enjoyment of the story.

Overall: So awesome. UNCOMMON CRIMINALS is a fun, fast-paced summer read.

(Sorry for the kind of babble-y review. It's late and I'm thinking I probably shouldn't write anymore tonight. Still, this book did rock.)

Available on Amazon | IndieBound

Saturday, June 25, 2011

RED GLOVE by Holly Black

YA Paranormal
325 pages
Available now
Review copy purchased

Curses and cons. Magic and the mob. In Cassel Sharpe's world, they go together. Cassel always thought he was an ordinary guy, until he realized his memories were being manipulated by his brothers. Now he knows the truth—he’s the most powerful curse worker around. A touch of his hand can transform anything—or anyone—into something else.

That was how Lila, the girl he loved, became a white cat. Cassel was tricked into thinking he killed her, when actually he tried to save her. Now that she's human again, he should be overjoyed. Trouble is, Lila's been cursed to love him, a little gift from his emotion worker mom. And if Lila's love is as phony as Cassel's made-up memories, then he can't believe anything she says or does.

When Cassel's oldest brother is murdered, the Feds recruit Cassel to help make sense of the only clue—crime-scene images of a woman in red gloves. But the mob is after Cassel too—they know how valuable he could be to them. Cassel is going to have to stay one step ahead of both sides just to survive. But where can he turn when he can't trust anyone—least of all, himself?

Love is a curse and the con is the only answer in a game too dangerous to lose.

Positive: The twisty turns of this story. There are layers upon layers within this novel. Not so much that it gets confusing (though it is helpful to have read the first novel in The Curse Workers series) but enough to cast doubt and create a fabulous mystery.

Positive: Cassel. He's not a good guy but he's good in comparison to his crazy family. He's not a bad guy but he's bad when compared to most non-workers. I do love a good anti-hero, someone who's forced into terrible situations with ugly choices, who has to use his head to survive. Go Cassel.

Positive: Sam. Sam's awesome -- a super-normal guy who's a little freaked out about his roomie Cassel and his powers but Sam hangs in there, and gives Cassel his first real friend.

Wish: I wish I'd read this book earlier! I totally meant to. After all, it's been sitting on my shelf since April and I loved WHITE CAT. So why didn't I pick it up until yesterday? Poor book had other books shoved in front of it and I completely missed it. Thank goodness for summer reading!

Overall: I wasn't expecting to like this book as much as I did. But it completely rocked--I couldn't put it down! Can't wait for BLACK HEART, which comes out in 2012 (Scheduled for April at the moment).

Available on Amazon | IndieBound

Friday, June 24, 2011

BLOOD MAGIC by Tessa Gratton

YA Paranormal
405 pages
Available now
Review copy received through GoodReads Bookswap

It starts off simply. Draw a circle ... place a dead leaf in the center ... sprinkle some salt ... recite a little Latin ... add a drop of blood ...

Maybe that last part isn't exactly simple. Yet somehow it feels right to Silla Kennicott. And nothing in her life has felt remotely right since her parents' horrific deaths. She's willing to do anything to uncover the truth about her family—even try a few spells from the mysterious book that arrived on her doorstep ... and spill some blood.

The book isn't the only recent arrival in Silla's life. There's Nick Pardee, the new guy next door who may have seen Silla casting a spell. She's not sure what he saw and is afraid to find out. But as they spend more time together, Silla realizes this may not be Nick's first encounter with Blood Magic. Brought together by a combination of fate and chemistry, Silla and Nick can't deny their attraction. And they can't ignore the dark presence lurking nearby—waiting to reclaim the book and all its power.

Positive: The mythology of Blood Magic. There are so many layers involved in the practice and who can do it and why and how. Once Silla and Nicolas start trusting one another and working together, they discover so much more about Blood Magic, their abilities, and their complicated family histories.

Positive: The writing. Through her lyrical descriptions, Tessa Gratton transports her readers to the tiny town of Yaleylah, Missouri with its crumbling cemetery, tangled forest, and dark, dirt roads and surrounds them with the copper-penny tang of blood.

Positive: The multiple perspectives. Silla and Nicolas take turns telling the story through their eyes, with their own ideas and experiences. Both of these teens are damaged in their own ways, though Silla's the most seriously damaged, what with the horrible death of her parents. And then there are the letters that begin over a century ago. The letters of a girl who becomes a Blood Witch, one who turns dark and twisted and who's been alive more than one hundred years and intends to live forever. Very, very creepy.

Wish: That the very sad death near the end of the book didn't have to happen. Made me cry. *sniff* No. I'll say no more...

Overall: This book was so different than many of the paranormal/magic-related books out there. Haunting and beautifully written, BLOOD MAGIC transports the reader to a dark, bloody world.

Available on Amazon | IndieBound

Thursday, June 23, 2011

FAIRY BAD DAY by Amanda Ashby

YA Paranormal
336 pages
Available now
Review copy purchased

While most students at Burtonwood Academy get to kill demons and goblins, fifteen-year-old Emma gets to rid the world of little annoying fairies with glittery wings and a hipster fashion sense. She was destined to be a dragon slayer, but cute and charming Curtis stole her spot. Then she sees a giant killer fairy - and it's invisible to everyone but her! If Emma has any chance of stopping this evil fairy, she's going to need help. Unfortunately, the only person who can help is Curtis. And now, not only has he stolen her dragon-slayer spot, but maybe her heart as well! Why does she think it's going to be a fairy bad day?
Positive: Emma (I just love that name). Strong, capable, and very stubborn (when she finds out she's not the dragon slayer, she just about drives her principal nuts trying to prove to him that she's the right chick for the job and almost gets expelled), Emma is still smart enough to know when she needs help (usually). Her stubbornness gets her into some serious trouble, though.

Positive: The little fairies! These guys, Trevor, Rupert and Gilbert, are hilarious! (But don't call 'em little. It just ticks them off.) They love Skittles but hate the sour ones, hairspray makes them ugly to the opposite sex, and they hang out at the mall. The mall! Why would anyone want to slay these poor dudes? Hum...might be because they're a tad bit annoying.

Positive: The interplay between Emma, her friends, and Curtis. There's some seriously snappy dialogue between the characters, which I love.

Wish: That Curtis wasn't so secretive through most of the book. It makes him seem kind of wishy-washy and that's rarely a good look on a guy. Still, I really liked him and, once his secret is revealed, it all makes sense. Personally, I think I'd hide that little issue too, especially if I was the fancy-pants new dragon slayer.
Overall: An awesomely fun summer read and exactly what I was looking for after several weeks of nothing but post-apocalyptic/dystopian darkness. FAIRY BAD DAY is junk food for the brain. Yum!

Available on Amazon | IndieBound

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Waiting on...ONCE EVERY NEVER by Lesley Livingston

Clarinet Reid is a pretty typical teenager. On the surface. She’s smart, but a bit of slacker; outgoing, but just a little insecure; not exactly a mischief-maker… but trouble tends to find her wherever she goes. Also? She unwittingly carries a centuries-old Druid Blood Curse running through her veins.

Now, with a single thoughtless act, what started off as the Summer Vacation in Dullsville suddenly spirals into a deadly race to find a stolen artifact, avert an explosive catastrophe, save a Celtic warrior princess, right a dreadful wrong that happened centuries before Clare was even born, and if there’s still time—literally—maybe even get a date.

This is the kind of adventure that happens to a girl once every… never.
 
Doesn't that sound awesome (though I did have to giggle about her name. Seriously...Clarinet Reid?!? Fabulous. Poor girl.)? I love druid and Celtic mythology! But I think it's only being released in Canada at the moment (According to GoodReads, it's due to be released by Penguin Canada July 14, 2011). Boo! I tried to find it on both Amazon and Book Depository but nada yet.

Waiting On is a meme run by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

TRIAL BY FIRE by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

YA Paranormal
368 pages
Available now
Review copy provided by publisher

There can only be one alpha. Bryn is finally settling into her position as alpha of the Cedar Ridge Pack—or at least, her own version of what it means to be alpha when you’re a human leading a band of werewolves. Then she finds a teenage boy bleeding on her front porch. Before collapsing, he tells her his name is Lucas, he’s a Were, and Bryn’s protection is his only hope.

But Lucas isn’t part of Bryn’s pack, and she has no right to claim another alpha’s Were.  With threats—old and new—looming, and danger closing in from all sides, Bryn will have to accept what her guardian Callum knew all along. To be alpha, she will have to give in to her own animal instincts and become less human. And, she’s going to have to do it alone. Bryn faces both the costs, and the rewards, of love and loyalty, in this thrilling sequel to Raised by Wolves.

Positive: The pack dynamic. I love how Bryn, the human alpha, connects to them all and really knows them. While she doesn't change with they change, she can still run with them, feels the wolf calling, and the pull of the wild. It's a visceral experience.

Positive: The characters. Bryn, the main character, is a very smart, very strong girl who's had to deal with more than any normal 16-year-old but she shoulders the responsibility beautifully. It helps that she has a wonderful support system in the form of her pack and inner circle: her beta, her best friends, and her boyfriend. They're all well-drawn characters that I grew rather attached to over the course of the novel.

Positive: The storytelling. You must know how much I dislike cliffhangers. This book does NOT have one (hallelujah!). In fact, though this is the second in a series, it can easily be read as a stand-alone. There's a complete, well-written story within this novel, one that had me staying up way past my bedtime to finish it and find out how Bryn and her pack overcome the threats against their very survival.

Wish: That I'd read RAISED BY WOLVES! Not that you have to read the first book in the series first with these books but TRIAL BY FIRE was so good, I now know I'm totally missing out by not reading it. *downloads Book One to Kindle* Okay, I'm set now.

Overall: In a glutted paranormal market, TRIAL BY FIRE distinguishes itself as one of the best stories (werewolves rock!) out there. So worth the read!

Available at Amazon | IndieBound

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Saturday Quickie: NIGHTFALL by Ellen Connor

Post-Apocalyptic Paranormal Romance (adult)
327 pages
Available now
First in a series
Review copy received from author

Growing up with an unstable, often absent father who preached about the end of the world, Jenna never thought in her wildest nightmares that his predictions would come true. Or that he would have a plan in place to save her-one that includes the strong, stoic man who kidnaps and takes her to a remote cabin in the Pacific Northwest.

The mysterious ex-Marine named Mason owes a life-debt to Jenna's father. Skilled and steadfast, he's ready for the prophesied Change, but Jenna proves tough to convince. Until the power grid collapses and mutant dogs attack-vicious things that reek of nature gone wrong.

When five strangers appear, desperate to escape the bloodthirsty packs, Jenna defies her protector and rescues them. As technology fails and the old world falls away, Jenna changes too, forever altered by supernatural forces. To fight for their future, she and Mason must learn to trust their instinctive passion-a flame that will see them through the bitter winter, the endless nights, and the violence of a new Dark Age.

Positive: Magic returns to the world. I enjoy stories where magic comes back to the planet (would be kinda cool if it could happen IRL though maybe not in the crazy-violent style of NIGHTFALL). This book's the first in a trilogy, so the change-over's just started. I'm interested to see what happens once the magic's fully returned.

Positive: Jenna. Despite being kidnapped and dragged off to a remote cabin in the woods, she holds it together. She's the one who forces Mason to open the door to some survivors and holds them all together when the beasts attack. She's the one who pushes them all to survive, despite the odds. A strong, well-written character.

Positive: The tone of the whole story. It's dark. Very dark. The magic's back but those who are evil adjust to the magic first, leaving those who are good to fend for themselves against terrible beasts. Those who haven't already changed are ripped to shreds and eaten or infected and left to die in hideous ways. Chances of survival are minimal (*rubs hands together* Excellent.).

Wish: That Mason were a bit more accessible. He's constantly pushing Jenna and everyone else away. Sure, he's had a rough life but there are some serious trust issues here. Therapy would have been a good option for the man (too bad all the therapists were eaten).

Overall: An awesome addition to the genre, and a great team effort by Ellen Connor, aka Ann Aguirre and Carrie Lofty.

Available from Amazon | IndieBound

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Thursday Quickie: HEXED by Kevin Hearne

Adult Urban Fantasy
294 pages
Available now
Review copy purchased


Atticus O’Sullivan, last of the Druids, doesn’t care much for witches. Still, he’s about to make nice with the local coven by signing a mutually beneficial nonaggression treaty—when suddenly the witch population in modern-day Tempe, Arizona, quadruples overnight. And the new girls are not just bad, they’re badasses with a dark history on the German side of World War II.

With a fallen angel feasting on local high school students, a horde of Bacchants blowing in from Vegas with their special brand of deadly decadence, and a dangerously sexy Celtic goddess of fire vying for his attention, Atticus is having trouble scheduling the witch hunt. But aided by his magical sword, his neighbor’s rocket-propelled grenade launcher, and his vampire attorney, Atticus is ready to sweep the town and show the witchy women they picked the wrong Druid to hex.


Positive: Atticus. Oh, Atticus, despite your advanced age (dude, you certainly don't look it), you're a man after my own heart. Smart, up on necessary geek knowledge, enjoy a good beer, and yummy (and useful) tattoos, all FTW. While I do wish you wouldn't slip into the vernacular of the people you talk to (I'm not a huge fan of dialect in dialogue even if you are talking to Coyote and trying not to get killed), I wouldn't mind grabbing a pint and some fish and chips with you. Any time. Call me!


Positive: Oberon, Atticus's Irish Wolfhound. Oberon rocks. He's witty, he's loyal, and he's into French Poodles. He adds such spice and humor to the story. I love books with awesome dogs like Oberon in them, especially when they don't get killed off (You're not going to kill him off, are you Kevin Hearne? Please don't. I hate crying.).


Positive: Action, magic, and a damn good story. There is a ton of well-researched mythology from a multitude of cultures layered throughout the story, and Atticus uses his vast storehouse of experience and knowledge to outwit those who'd rather he were dead.


Wish: More. Now. Sure, I'm getting three books in three months (yay for May and HOUNDED, June and HEXED, and July and HAMMERED) but I want more. I mean, I'm thrilled to know there are two more Iron Druid novels coming in 2012 (and one more in 2013) but that's a year away and I'm short on patience. I want to devour a boatload of The Iron Druid Chronicles in one massive gulp. *sigh*


Overall: If you like urban fantasy, especially in the vein of Jim Butcher, check out Kevin Hearne, an intriguing new voice on the fantasy scene. Me, I've already pre-ordered HAMMERED -- I've got to know how Atticus is going to take on Thor ('cause everyone hates Thor).


Available at Amazon | IndieBound

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Waiting on...BAD TASTE IN BOYS by Carrie Harris and KATANA by Cole Gibsen

BAD TASTE IN BOYS by Carrie Harris
Release Date: July 12, 2011 (Delacorte)


Someone's been a very bad zombie.

Kate Grable is horrified to find out that the football coach has given the team steroids. Worse yet, the steroids are having an unexpected effect, turning hot gridiron hunks into mindless flesh-eating zombies. No one is safe--not her cute crush Aaron, not her dorky brother, Jonah . . . not even Kate!

She's got to find an antidote--before her entire high school ends up eating each other. So Kate, her best girlfriend, Rocky, and Aaron stage a frantic battle to save their town. . . and stay hormonally human.



Yay! Football player zombies! How can you go wrong? Plus, it's got a rockin' cover (and I'm a sucker for pretty covers).


KATANA by Cole Gibsen
Release Date: March 2012 (Flux)


Seventeen-year-old Rileigh Martin wanted to spend her summer hanging out with friends, shopping, and working at a hair salon...too bad fighting ninja is a full time job in itself.


Um, NINJAS?!? Hells yeah -- I'm in!


Waiting On is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Tuesday Quickie: BLOOD RED ROAD by Moira Young

YA Post-Apocalyptic
459 pages
Available now
Review copy provided by publisher


Saba has spent her whole life in Silverlake, a dried-up wasteland ravaged by constant sandstorms. The Wrecker civilization has long been destroyed, leaving only landfills for Saba and her family to scavenge from. That's fine by her, as long as her beloved twin brother Lugh is around. But when a monster sandstorm arrives, along with four cloaked horsemen, Saba's world is shattered. Lugh is captured, and Saba embarks on an epic quest to get him back.


Suddenly thrown into the lawless, ugly reality of the world outside of desolate Silverlake, Saba is lost without Lugh to guide her. So perhaps the most surprising thing of all is what Saba learns about herself: she's a fierce fighter, an unbeatable survivor, and a cunning opponent. And she has the power to take down a corrupt society from the inside. Teamed up with a handsome daredevil named Jack and a gang of girl revolutionaries called the Free Hawks, Saba stages a showdown that will change the course of her own civilization.

Positive: Saba. What a powerful character she is. Her development over the course of the story is beautifully crafted. I really like how she changes from a rather self-involved, closed-off girl who focuses only on her goal of saving her brother and nothing else to a strong, competent and much more open young woman who learns to trust and care for others while seeing the bigger picture. Plus, the budding romance between Saba and Jack is fun to watch, as he teases her and she fights her attraction every step of the way.

Positive: This story's Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome meets Dune with a dash of Star Wars thrown in for good measure. As I read, that's totally the vibe I got: the Cage fights and the gauntlet, the huge clawed worms and the chaal, and the bleak desert landscape (plus, the guards are called Tonton, and my mind went straight to The Empire Strikes Back...not that they're that kind of Ton-ton. They're just men. But still.) SciFi geeks rejoice! 

Positive: No cliffhanger! Yahoo! The ending just works for me, tying up the major events while setting the reader up for the next novel in the series. (And I'm really looking forward to delving back into Saba's world.)

Wish: Quote marks. I know the no quote mark thing is part of the style of the book but that coupled with the characters' speech patterns made it a tad bit difficult in the beginning. However, once I got into the story, it was all good.

Overall: This book blew me away. I didn't want to put it down (hence my crabbiness when I was forced to -- sorry, Mom!). With this amazing 2011 debut, Moira Young is most definitely an author to watch.

Available from Amazon | Indiebound

Monday, June 13, 2011

Monday Quickie: QUEEN OF THE DEAD by Stacey Kade

YA Paranormal
288 pages
Available now
Review copy provided by publisher


After being sent back from the light, Alona Dare - former homecoming queen, current Queen of the Dead - finds herself doing something she never expected: working. Instead of spending days perfecting her tan by the pool (her typical summer routine when she was, you know, alive), Alona must now cater to the needs of other lost spirits. By her side for all of this - ugh - “helping of others” is Will Killian: social outcast, seer of the dead, and someone Alona cares about more than she’d like.

Before Alona can make a final ruling on Will’s “friend” or “more” status, though, she discovers trouble at home. Her mom is tossing out Alona’s most valuable possessions, and her dad is expecting a new daughter with his wicked wife. Is it possible her family is already moving on? Hello! She’s only been dead for two months! Thankfully, Alona knows just the guy who can put a stop to this mess.

Unfortunately for Alona, Will has other stuff on his mind, and Mina, a young (and beautiful) seer, is at the top of the list. She’s the first ghost-talker Will’s ever met—aside from his father—and she may hold answers to Will’s troubled past. But can she be trusted? Alona immediately puts a check mark in the “clearly not” column. But Will is - ahem - willing to find out, even if it means leaving a hurt and angry Alona to her own devices, which is never a good idea.


Positive: Alona and Will's relationship. They're good for each other, though they don't always realize it. Alona's learning to be a better person (well, teensy bit) and Will's expanding his horizons, breaking out of his shell. I love the conversations between them and their interplay.


Positive: The humor. Alona, bless her snotty little heart, hasn't changed all that much but when she gets verbally rude or mean to someone, she starts to fade. So, she has to say nice things until she's whole again. This bit (taken from the ARC) comes during an argument with a ghost, Liesel, who's been plaguing her since book one:
Whole sections of Liesel's torso were see-through, and my legs were gone from the knee down. Damn it.
"You seem very determined to make up for your mistake, which I admire," I offered begrudgingly.
"I like your hair," she said with equal disdain.


Positive: The new characters. Mina, she's got some issues but she's alive and a better choice for Will to lust after than the unattainable Alona. This also makes for a different type of love triangle, one I liked, though I kind Will might end up losing out in the end. Poor Will. And now there's this mysterious organization...oops. Can't go into that!


Wish: I wanted more Alona and Will together moments. They really went their own merry ways in this novel, which was necessary for plot and character development but I like them working together! Ah--and the end! What's gonna happen? It's a huge development!


Available on Amazon | IndieBound

Short and Sweet Week

On Thursday last week, I had surgery on my left hand to repair some nerve damage. Now, I'm in a cast (my mom calls it my paw) and only have use of my thumb which makes tying a tad bit difficult. So, instead of skipping posts entirely, I've decided to keep my reviews short and sweet (and hope my thumb doesn't cramp...). Hopefully, I'll be in a less restrictive cast next week, maybe one that'll grant me use of at least two fingers. Dare to dream.

And, like usual, I'm going to try and visit everyone who comments, it might just take me a bit longer!

Okay, off to peck out my first review of the week...hope you enjoy Short and Sweet Week!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Thursday Quickie: GRAVEMINDER by Melissa Marr

Since Melissa Marr is in my town today, signing at our Barnes & Nobel, I figured it was a good time for a quickie with her (lol). It's cause for celebration because so few authors actually make it to Columbia--most head up to Charlotte or down to Atlanta and skip us right over. Sadness. Especially considering Columbia is #16 on Amazon's Most Well-Read Cities in America while Atlanta's #20 and Charlotte isn't even on it! (I swear, I'm not making this up. Check it out HERE.) Come on, authors, Columbia? We love books. We love authors. Come visit.


Paranormal (adult)
324 pages
Available now
Review copy purchased


Three sips to mind the dead . . .


Rebekkah Barrow never forgot the attention her grandmother Maylene bestowed upon the dead of Claysville, the small town where Bek spent her adolescence. There wasn't a funeral that Maylene didn't attend, and at each one Rebekkah watched as Maylene performed the same unusual ritual: She took three sips from a silver flask and spoke the words "Sleep well, and stay where I put you."


Now Maylene is dead, and Bek must go back to the place she left a decade earlier. She soon discovers that Claysville is not just the sleepy town she remembers, and that Maylene had good reason for her odd traditions. It turns out that in Claysville the worlds of the living and the dead are dangerously connected; beneath the town lies a shadowy, lawless land ruled by the enigmatic Charles, aka Mr. D. If the dead are not properly cared for, they will come back to satiate themselves with food, drink, and stories from the land of the living. Only the Graveminder, by tradition a Barrow woman, and her Undertaker—in this case Byron Montgomery, with whom Bek shares a complicated past—can set things right once the dead begin to walk.


Although she is still grieving for Maylene, Rebekkah will soon find that she has more than a funeral to attend to in Claysville, and that what awaits her may be far worse: dark secrets, a centuries-old bargain, a romance that still haunts her, and a frightening new responsibility—to stop a monster and put the dead to rest where they belong.

Positive: Such an interesting concept -- completely different than anything I've read in recent memory. I love how the Graveminder is in charge of making sure the dead stay put and, if they don't, helping them find peace. Oh, and the Undertaker's role, now that was cool, too! (No, I'm not going to tell you all about it because that info doesn't come until a bit into the book & I don't want to spoil it.)

Positive: The dual narratives written in third person. I really enjoyed how we got a peek into what several of the characters were thinking without using third person omniscient. The way it was set up set the characters apart but, by the end, it brought them together (Does that make any sense? Maybe not. But, if you read the book, you'll totally get what I'm attempting to say. I hope.).

Positive: The relationship between Bek and Bryon. So complicated. So bittersweet. It was beautifully developed, seamlessly weaving together their difficult past with their potential future. Yay for romance!


Wish: The pace was a bit slower than I like. This could be because I'm used to jumping right into the action with all my YA reading but it took quite a while for everything to come together including the setup, worldbuilding, and even the main characters realizing their purpose. Poor Bek had no idea what she was supposed to be doing for most of the book and no one could/would tell her.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Waiting on...THE NAME OF THE STAR by Maureen Johnson

There are sooo many books I'm anticipating (including the two whose covers debuted yesterday and that I featured HERE) but this week, I chose to feature one of my absolutely favorite authors, Maureen Johnson. She's an awesome writer, a lot quirky, and adventurous. Her newest novel, THE NAME OF THE STAR, comes out in September from Putnam and features Jack the Ripper-type crimes. Yay for London boarding schools and creepy murders!


The day Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London marks a memorable occasion. For Rory, it's the start of a new life at a London boarding school. But for many, this will be remembered as the day a series of brutal murders broke out across the city, gruesome crimes mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper events of more than a century ago.

Soon "Rippermania" takes hold of modern-day London, and the police are left with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. Rory spotted the man police believe to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him. Even her roommate, who was walking with her at the time, didn't notice the mysterious man. So why can only Rory see him? And more urgently, why has Rory become his next target? In this edge-of-your-seat thriller, full of suspense, humor, and romance, Rory will learn the truth about the secret ghost police of London and discover her own shocking abilities.



Waiting on is hosted by the fab Jill over at Breaking the Spine.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

And now for something completely AWESOME...

Have you seen Jodi Meadows's cover for INCARNATE? She just revealed it over on her blog HERE (plus a contest) and, oooh, I want the pretty!
From GoodReads: About the only girl who is new in a world where everyone is perpetually reincarnated, and her quest to discover why she was born, and what happened to the person she replaced. (Not much to go on but it sounds interesting!)
And Courtney Allison Moulton shared the cover for her new book, WINGS OF THE WICKED (Angelfire #2):
I loved ANGELFIRE and this one sounds awesome, too: 
Life as the Preliator is harder than Ellie ever imagined. 
Balancing real life with the responsibility of being Heaven’s warrior is a challenge for Ellie. Her relationship with Will has become all business, though they both long for each other. And now that the secret of who she really is has come out, so have Hell’s strongest reapers. Grown bold and more vicious, the demonic threaten her in the light of day and stalk her in the night.

She’s been warned.
Cadan, a demonic reaper, comes to her with information about Bastian’s new plan to destroy Ellie’s soul and use an ancient relic to wake all the souls of the damned and unleash them upon humanity. As she fights to stay ahead of Bastian’s schemes , the revelations about those closest to her awaken a dark power within Ellie that threatens to destroy everything—including herself.

She’ll be betrayed.
Treachery comes even from those whom she loves, and Ellie is broken by the deaths of those who stood beside her in this Heavenly war. Still, she must find a way to save the world, herself, and her love for Will. If she fails, there will be hell to pay.
You can check out the trailer on her blog HERE.
Not that I want summer to be over or anything (especially since it's just started!) but I can't wait to read these two books.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

YA Saves: The WSJ Has It All Wrong

So, if you haven't heard, the Wall Street Journal has a very poorly researched article that yet again attacks the YA genre (see, kids, this is why you have to look at more than one source!). You're welcome to read the article (click HERE), which goes on and on about how dark and terrible and utterly without hope or happiness the books labeled YA are these days and how we should return to the good old days (as in 30, 40 years ago), when there wasn't really even a YA genre and everyone was forced got to read awesome classics like LORD OF THE FLIES (yeah, the one where English schoolboys go all feral and start killing everything). THE OUTSIDERS? Downfall of civilization or start of the fabulous genre known as Young Adult? The former, according to WSJ. Oh, but don't bother to try and comment unless you're already registered. They're "temporarily upgrading" their system. Convenient.


Anyway, I wanted to share some pictures of my students participating in the dark and destructive genre known as YA. Dystopian and post-apocalyptic YA, to be exact. They loved it. Most of them read many more than the one book that was required of them. READ. BY CHOICE. Yep. It's the downfall of civilization as we know it.
Reading THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH by Carrie Ryan
and ENCLAVE by Ann Aguirre
Reading THE MAZE RUNNER by James Dashner
and DELIRIUM by Lauren Oliver
Reading HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins
and a couple more FOHaT and ENCLAVE readers
Reading FAHRENHEIT 451 by Ray Bradbury (a classic!) and
some "off the list" readers who, after finishing their required reading
picked up THE RISE OF RENEGADE X by Chelsea Campbell and
AMONG THE HIDDEN by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Yeah, buddy! These teens passed books among themselves, made recommendations on GoodReads to people in other classes and in the halls during passing, and they ASKED when we were having reading time in class (I wound up setting aside a dedicated half-hour every day because demand for quiet reading time was so great -- it was awesome and I got to read, too!). I had multiple students mention how they didn't think they were going to like a certain book because they don't like to read but that they stayed up late into the night reading because they had to know what happened. THAT, my friends, is the power of YA. #YAsaves.


Happy reading, indeed!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Saturday Quickie: STEEL by Carrie Vaughn

YA Historical (Time Travel)
304 pages
Available now
Review copy purchased


Sixteen-year-old Jill has fought in dozens of fencing tournaments, but she has never held a sharpened blade. When she finds a corroded sword piece on a Caribbean beach, she is instantly intrigued and pockets it as her own personal treasure.

The broken tip holds secrets, though, and it transports Jill through time to the deck of a pirate ship. Stranded in the past and surrounded by strangers, she is forced to sign on as crew. But a pirate's life is bloody and brief, and as Jill learns about the dark magic that brought her there, she forms a desperate scheme to get home—one that risks everything in a duel to the death with a villainous pirate captain. 



Positive: Jill. She's a tough, pirate's booty-kicking gal who, despite falling overboard and winding up aboard a pirate ship, doesn't fall down upon her knees weeping. She guts it out and winds up earning her place among the crew. 


Positive: Pirate Queen. Oh, yeah. We've got a pirate queen sailing this vessel, buddy (which is probably a good thing -- a guy captain might have tossed Jill to the crew and thought nothing of it). And her dark and twisted romance-turned-burning-hatred with the dastardly pirate, Edmund Blane, is the reason Jill and the sword piece travel back in time.


Positive: Sword fights. Jill's already a fencing champ but she learns a bit more about fighting dirty when she winds up aboard the pirate ship. There are some pretty awesome sword fights and battles between ships in this story. Kind of made me want to take up fencing. At least that way, I'd get to swing a sword and cry, "Aaarrrggg!"


Wish: Ditch the romance. Henry and Jill just didn't have the chemistry to pull it off. Plus, he's a pirate and she's a modern girl--it could never be more than a fling and Jill just isn't the fling kind of girl.