Friday, October 15, 2010

The Mark


The Mark by Jen Nadol
Publication Date: January 19, 2010
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Pages: 228
Format Read: ARC from publisher (thank you!)

Summary: Sixteen-year-old Cassie Renfield has always seen the mark -- a light flow reminiscent of candlelight -- but it's not until she follows a man to his death that she understands what it means. Cassie can see when a person is marked for death. She doesn't know how or where, only when: today. when the mark appears on Cassie's grandmother, she tries and fails to change her fate. The mark seems utterly useless, but Cassie can't ignore it. Desperate for answers, she searched her memories, her summer philosophy course, even her new boyfriend, Lucas, for any clue that might explain her ability. when she convinces Lucas of her power, he encourages her to test fate each time the mark appears. Cassie's not entirely sure she should use the mark like this, but with each occurrence, she finds answers she needs -- answers she never expected.

This book began quite well. The character Cassie seemed to have issues with herself and her "problem." In a seemingly normal world, she was able to see who would die soon, and she was learning to cope with this issue. With the death of her grandmother, Cassie became sullen and reserved, and she was shipped to live with a relative whom she barely knew, in a town she used to belong to. There, she met a boy. Typical girl meets boy story. This is where the novel began to go south. Their relationship developed intensely quickly, and I am always disappointed by the spiraling relationships. They are unrealistic, especially for young teens, and one cannot actually get to know a person through one cup of coffee. In addition to the social topics plummeting, the paranormal problem Cassie has is explained to easily. In such a realistic and solid world, the reasoning given behind Cassie's ability was completely insane and unbelievable. Yes, this is a supernatural gift she possesses, but under the premise of such a consistent world we know, the cause of this gift should not have been what it was.
Without giving away much else, I am able to say that this is a "read-once-do-not-repeat" story. However, if you're pressed for time, pick something else to begin with.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Where the Truth Lies


Where the Truth Lies by Jessica Warman
Publication Date: September 28, 2010
Publisher: Walker Childrens
Pages: 308
Format Read: ARC from publisher (thank you!)

Summary: On the surface, Emily Meckler leads the perfect life. She has three best friends, two loving parents, and the ideal setup at the Connecticut prep school where her father is the headmaster. But below the surface, Emily is suffering from devastating nightmares about either fire or water, and nobody knows why. When the enigmatic Del Sugar enters her life, Emily is immediately swept away--but her passionate relationship with Del is just the first of many things that aren't quite what they seem in Emily's life. And as the lies she's been told start to unravel, Emily must set out to discover the truth regarding her nightmares; a journey that will lead her to question everything she once thought she knew about love, family, and her own idyllic past.

This book blew me away. I assumed it would be another cheesy romace-boarding school-prep story. It sort of was. But Warman took it to a whole new level. Emily's nightmares were described with enough terror that made them real and psychological issues. In addition, the relationships Emily forged with people on campus were wonderfully realistic. I adored two of her friends that were twins and Warman's ability to add bickering and love into the same sentence. 

I was only a teeny bit disappointed with a plot twist. It seemed to unrealistic and unmanageable, and I wasn't convinced for a second that the situation could actually happen, but overall, I was very impressed. This was a book that I couldn't really put down and finished in nearly one sitting.

And did I mention how much I adore the cover? I love the girl's clothing. The colors blend perfectly with the scene around her, and her face is hidden, allowing me to create my own image of her in my imagination, which is why I LOVE covers without the characters.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

It's CONTEST TIME!: Hush [by Eishes Chayil] review and giveaway!


Thanks to the generous publishers at Bloomsbury, I have one copy of Eishes Chayil's book Hush to giveaway! First, the contest rules, and a review will follow. It's a great book, so make sure you enter!

To enter, you must:
1. Be a US resident (or have a US shipping address)
2. Provide your email (without it, you will not win!)
3. Be a follower of my blog!

Simple and easy! Contest will end on October 31! So tell your friends!
To earn extra entries, you can post on your blog, sidebar, tweet, whatever, just leave a link and I'll add 3 entries for each thing you've done!

And now for the review:

Hush by Eishes Chayil
Inside the closed community of Borough Park, home to many Chassidic groups, the rules of life are very clear, determined to the last detail by an ancient script written thousands of years before - and abuse has never been a part of it. But when young Gittel witnesses the abuse her best friend Devory has been suffering at the hands of Devory's own family member, the adults in the community try to persuade Gittel, and themselves, that nothing happened. And even when the fallout reveals an unimaginable horror, the community continues forward as if it had never occurred. Now a teenager, Gittel's guilt over her silence forces her to question her own innocence, her memories of the past, and everything she was raised to believe in.

This book immediately took me by surprise in its opening page. It was a haunting tale of misery and longing to do what is right. Gittel's character was thoughtful in the way a teenager would be, but she was clearly traumatized by what she had witnessed. Chayil expertly demonstrated the life in a religious society like this one, not taking a side, but presenting the facts of what it was. In addition, Gittel's periodical letters to Devory were a wonderful addition, allowing the reader to see her innermost thoughts about her questioning innocence.
One of my favorite characters was Kathy, the woman who lived in Gittel's attic. She proved to be a true friend to Gittel, and assisted her whenever she needed help. I loved the eccentricity of her character, and Chayil illustrated her beautifully.
I know I don't like to read giant reviews, and I could gush about the details forever, but this was a truly great novel.

Now you better go enter the contest before it's too late!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

MIA

Sorry, gang. I will be MIA for a few more days (hence the fact that no reviews have been posted) because I am packing and moving to University of Evansville for my first year at college!

Just a heads up!

Reviews will come whenever I can get a handle on classes (18 hours...yikes) and newspaper, etc.
See you then!

Monday, August 2, 2010

And Then Everything Unraveled / And Then I Found Out The Truth

I am doing this series of two as a joint post.


And Then Everything Unraveled by Jennifer Sturman
Publication Date: July 1, 2009
Publisher: Point
Pages: 244
Format Read: Hardcover from publisher (thank you!)

Summary: When Delia Truesdale's mother, T.K., goes missing, everyone thinks she's dead. Well, everyone except Delia, who knows T.K.'s way too organized to simply disappear. But Delia is s
till shipped off to New York City to live with her two aunts - one a downtown bohemian, the other an uptown ice queen. She also has to deal with a snooty new school and trying not to fall for the wrong guy. Oh, and finding
her mother. As she delves deeper into a tangle of conspiracies and lies, Delia begins to suspect that the wrong guy may be the right guy ... and that some secrets - especially the dangerous ones - were never meant to be unraveled.

The characters in this book were outstanding. Plain and simple. Charley, the bohemian aunt, was a delight with her secret love of 80's classics and ice cream for dinner. Patience, the other aunt, was very consistently uptight, and I was impressed with my ease to like her even though she was the strict one. Although I had a slight issue with a boy being named Quinn, I enjoyed his personality even more the farther I read in the books. I liked Delia, but she was just too normal of a main character for me to be able to love her and sympathize with her. Her genius friend Natalie, though highly unbelievable, proved to be funny by appearing whenever Delia needed an expert hacker the most.

While I enjoyed each character's distinct personality, I was not so fond of the plot. It was a good one; not too stereotypical but not too original. The only problem I encountered was the book split. This could have easily been one novel, without the boring beginning bit of the sequel explaining what happened in the first book. It was an unnecessary split, but did not cause so much distress as to make me hate the book.

I did enjoy the comedic feel of it. Even though Delia's mother went missing, her aunt Charley still finds time to be in an independent film and Delia worries about acting out Romeo and Juliet. It had a great feel and was the perfect light summer read.

And Then I Found Out the Truth by Jennifer Sturman
Publication Date: July 1, 2010
Publisher: Point
Pages: 272
Format Read: ARC from publisher (thank you!)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Jane


Jane by April Lindner
Publication Date: October 11, 2010
Publisher: Poppy
Pages: 373
Format Read: ARC from publisher (thank you!)

Summary: Forced to drop out of an esteemed East Coast college after the sudden death of her parents, Jane Moore takes a job as a nanny at Thornfield Park, the estate of Mico Rathburn, a world-famous rock star on the brink of a huge comeback. Practical and independent, Jane reluctantly becomes entranced by her magnetic and brooding employer and finds herself in the midst of a forbidden romance. But there's a mystery at Thornfield, and Jane's much-envied relationship with Nico is tested by a torturous secret from his past.

Lindner began with a relatively original idea. Although modernizing classics has become ever-popular, she chose to remake Jane Eyre into a romance for a rock star. I was thrilled that this wasn't another teen vampire romance novel, and I applaud Lindner for her creativity. In addition, I have not read the original Jane Eyre (I know, tragic), but I suspect if it ended the same way this novel did I wouldn't like it very much.

This was a typical tale about an ordinary girl who meets a fantastic man (seemingly much older, which I did have a slight problem with. I had a very hard time believing the two fell in love, but I suppose it could happen). Their love is forbidden, although it didn't seem too dangerous or secretive to me. The deadly secret from Nico's past that would come back to haunt him was enchanting. I was impressed with the way Lindner kept the whole story a secret until the right time to reveal the story presented itself. She had me guessing the whole way through the novel.

I fell in love with Maddy, Nico's daughter, whom Jane was originally hired to take care of. She took her to school, played with her, and fed her every day. Maddy was a delightful character who was portrayed well. She was a young girl who knew her power, and was manipulative over her father's small willpower. She demanded gifts, but in a way that wasn't "bossy child" and more "child who misses her father, but still wants her souvenir." She also was a normal girl that liked to play dress up and going to play dates with her friends.

Lindner did an excellent job of writing this story, and I truly enjoyed reading it. The only problem I had with it could potentially by Charlotte Bronte's fault. I have no idea. So I suppose next on my list shall be Jane Eyre.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

CONTEST for The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller


It's time for another contest! This one is for an ARC of The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller! This is only open to US residents, sorry! Shipping costs a lot of money! If you have a US shipping address then that's fine, as well. Here's what the back of the book says:

Haven Moore has always lived in the tiny town of Snope City, Tennessee. But
for as long as she can remember, Haven has experienced visions of a past life as a girl named Constance,whose love for a boy called Ethan ended in a fiery tragedy. One day, the sight of notorious playboy Iain Morrow on television brings Haven to her knees. Haven flees to NYC to find Iain and there, she is swept up in an epic love affair that feels both deeply fated and terribly dangerous. Is Iain her beloved Ethan? Or is he her murderer in a past life? Haven asks the members of the powerful and mysterious Ouroboros Society to help her unlock the mysteries of reincarnation and discover the secrets hidden in her past lives, and loves, before all is lost and the cycle begins again. But what is the Ouroboros Society? And how can Haven know who to trust?

Now, how to enter the contest. Simply comment below with a name and email (you must have an email listed so I have a way to contact you if you win!). To earn extra entries:
+2 if you put me on your blogroll
+2 if you post this on a sidebar or tweet (leave a link)
+5 if you post as a separate page on your blog (leave a link)
+2 if you follow or become a follower

Let me know which ones you do!

Good luck! Contest ends on JULY 31st!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

In My Mailbox (7/5 - 7/11)



In My Mailbox was started at the Story Siren! This was a good week for me and I got a giant package from Bloomsbury (thank you SO MUCH!) and I hope to be reading these soon! Although I am falling behind a great deal as I'm working a lot now during the summer. Enjoy!

Cold Magic by Kate Elliot (pub. date: 10 sept 2010)
An Ice-bound world is on the brink of an industrial revolution. Factories are springing up across the country and technology
is changing the very foundation of the world. But the old ways do not die easy. Magical forces still dominate the world, and the cold mages who have ruled will not go quietly. Catherine Hassi Barahal is a child of that revolution. As university she studies the new technologies that are changing her world, and dreams of becoming an explorer like her father. But all of that will change when the cold mages come for her.


Cate of the Lost Colony by Lisa Klein (pub. date: oct 2010)
Lady Catherine is one of Queen Elizabeth's favorite court maidens-- until her forbidden romance with Sir Walter Raleigh is discovered. In a bitter twist of irony, the jealous queen banishes Cate to Raleigh's colony of Roanoke, in the New World. Raleigh pledges to come for Cate when he sails for the settlement with supplies, but as the months stretch out, Cate begins to doubt his promise and his love. Instead it is Manteo, a Croatoan Indian, whom the colonists-- and Cate-- increasingly turn to. Yet even as Cate's longings for England and Raleigh begin to fad and she discovers a new love in Manteo, Raleigh will finally set sail for the New World.


Jane by April Lindner (pub. date: 11 oct 2010)

Forced to drop out of an esteemed East Coast college after the sudden death of her parents, Jane Moore takes a job as a nanny at Thornfield Park, the estate of Nico Rathburn, a world-famous rock star on the brink of a huge comeback. Practical and independent, Jane reluctantly becomes entranced by her magnetic and brooding employer and finds herself in the midst of a forbidden romance. But there's a mystery at Thornfield, and Jane's much-envied relationship with Nico is tested by a torturous secret from his past.

Past World by Ian Beck

PastWorld is the greatest theme park ever devised. It's London - the real London - transformed into a living, breathing recreation of the Victorian era. To Eve, a lifelong resident of PastWorld, horse-drawn carriages and gas lamps are modern technology. Eve doesn't even know she's living in a simulation - until she is forced to flee the only home she's ever known and to confront the truth about the city and herself. To Caleb, a tourist visiting PastWorld, the theme park is the perfect antidote to the stifling conformity and regulation of 2048. The gritty wildness of the past is thrilling - until he finds himself at the scene of a murder, holding the knife, and suddenly becomes a fugitive from an antiquated justice system. And in the midst of it all, in the thick London fog, a dark and deadly figure prowls, claiming vic
tim after victim. He's the Fantom, a creature both of the past and of the future, in whose dark purpose Caleb and Eve will find their destinies combined.

Secondhand Charm by Julie Berry (pub. date oct 2010)

In a secluded village, magic sparkles on the edges of the forest. There, a young girl named Evie possesses unusually strong powers as a healer. And a gypsy's charms - no more than trinkets when worn by others - are remarkably potent when Evie ties them around her neck. Her talents, and charms, have not escaped the notice of the shy stonemason's son. But Evie wants more than a quiet village and the boy-next-door. When the prince's entourage arrives one day, and his footman has fallen ill, Evie might just get her chance after all... But this young girl's destiny is no mere romantic fairy tale. Her fate, and the journey she is about to embark upon, will take her far from her tiny village, uncovering serpentine powers and a legacy she never dreamed possible.

The Sweetness of Salt by Cecilia Galante

Julia just graduated as her high school valedictorian and has a full ride to college in the fall. But when her troubled older sister, Sophie, shows up at the graduation ceremony determined to unload a long-buried family secret, Julia's carefully constructed plans come to a screeching halt. Instead of starting her prestigious summer internship, Julia follows Sophie back to Vermont, where her sister plans to open a bakery - and is struggling to come to terms with some painful secrets of her own. What follows is a season of revelations; some heartwarming, some heartbreaking, and all slowly pointing Julia toward a new understanding of herself, the nature of love, and why sadness is sometimes needed to bring out the sweetness in life.

Sprout by Dale Peck

Sprout Bradford has a secret. It's not what you think - he'll tell you he's gay. He'll tell you about his dad's drinking and his mother's death. The green fingerprints everywhere tell you when he last dyed his hair. But no one is prepared to talk about what happens when Sprout's very personal choices have a profound effect on the lives around him - even as he tried his hardest to simply observe his world.


Low Red Moon by Ivy Devlin (pub. date: sept 2010)

The only thing Avery Hood can remember about the night her parents died is that she saw silver - deadly silver, moving inhumanely fast. As much as she wants to remember who killed them, she can't, and there's nothing left to do but try to piece her life back together. Then Avery meets the new boy in school - Ben, mysterious and beautiful, with whom she feels a connection like nothing she's ever experienced. Ben is a werewolf, but Avery trusts him - at first. Then she sees that sometimes his eyes flash an inhuman silver. And she learns that she's not the only one who can't remember the night her parents died.

Overall, a great week! Some obviously don't have pictures because the cover isn't final yet, but hopefully I can get some up soon!

Insatiable

Insatiable by Meg Cabot
Publication Date: June 8, 2010
Publisher: William Morrow
Pages: 451
Format Read: Hardcover from publisher (thank you!)

Summary: Sick of hearing about vampires? So is Meena Harper. But her bosses are making her write about them anyway, even though Meena doesn't believe in them. Not that Meena isn't familiar with the supernatural. See, Meena Harper knows how you're going to die. (Not that you're going to believe her. No one ever does.) But not even Meena's precognition can prepare her for what happens when she meets-- then makes the mistake of falling in love with-- Lucien Antonescu, a modern-day prince with a bit of a dark side. It's a dark side a lot of people, like an ancient society of vampire hunters, would prefer to see him dead for. The problem is, Lucien's already dead. Maybe that's why he's the first guy Meena's ever met whom she could see herself having a future with. See, while Meena's always been able to see everyone else's future, she's never been able to look into her own. and while Lucien seems like everything Meena has ever dreamed of in a boyfriend, he might turn out to be more like a nightmare. Now might be a good time for Meena to start learning to predict her own future...If she even has one.


I also could not be more sick of vampire novels. I strongly dislike Twilight and I am highly disappointed in the lack of creativity from authors to be able to think of anything else to write about. However, this was a Meg Cabot novel, and it showed up unexpectedly in my mailbox about three weeks ago. Meg Cabot is fabulous, as everyone knows. She proved it once again in Insatiable. Her characters are well-developed and true. They all have a personality that clearly shows in each detail about them.

I was also concerned that Meena would fall in love with the vampire and live happily ever after. I won't give away the ending, but the camaraderie between characters kept my interest well and was not the typical guy-gets-girl story, which I am always pleased with. It was also left very well. It could stand alone as a novel or be followed by others, which I would love to see in the near future (here's a hint Meg!). 

I was extremely pleased with this novel and literally couldn't put it down once I picked it up. Highly recommended to Meg Cabot fans and everyone else. So get out there and buy it!

Friday, July 2, 2010

In My Mailbox (6/28 - 7/4)

This has been yet another fantastic week for books. The whole month of June has brought me nearly an entire library. In My Mailbox was started at the Story Siren. Also be looking for a contest VERY soon! I got duplicates of a book this week!

The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller
THERE WILL BE A CONTEST FOR AN ARC OF THIS EXTREMELY SOON! WATCH FOR IT!
Haven Moore has always lived in the tiny town of Snope City, Tennessee. But

for as long as she can remember, Haven has experienced visions of a past life as a girl named Constance,
whose love for a boy called Ethan ended in a fiery tragedy. One day, the sight of notorious playboy Iain Morrow on television brings Haven to her knees. Haven flees to NYC to find Iain and there, she is swept up in an epic love affair that feels both deeply fated and terribly dangerous. Is
Iain her beloved Ethan? Or is he her murderer in a past life? Haven asks the members of the powerful and mysterious Ouroboros Society to help her unlock the mysteries of reincarnation and discover the secrets hidden in her past lives, and loves, before all is lost and the cycle begins again. But what is the Ouroboros Society? And how can Haven know who to trust?

Other books I received for review include:
Fallout by Ellen Hopkins
Tyger Tyger by Kersten Hamilton
Wicked Girls by Stephanie Hemphill
Virals by Kathy Reichs
Nice and Mean by Jessica Leader
The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff
Split by Swati Avasthi
The Red Umbrella by Christina Diaz Gonzalez

I also bought Queen of Babble in the Big City by Meg Cabot today at work (I work at Border's, by the way. So I end up spending all of my paycheck at work, but I get a hefty discount).

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Immortal Beloved

Immortal Beloved by Cate Tiernan
Publication Date: September 7, 2010
Publisher: Little, Brown Books
Pages: 407
Format Read: ARC from publisher (thank you!)
Summary: Nastasya has spent the last century living as a spoiled party girl, numbing herself to forget the violent and fatal tragedy that robbed her of her birthright--and her entire family. She feels nothing and truly cares for no one, until one night, when she witnesses her best friend, a dark immortal, torture a human. and her world is ripped apart. She flees her "friends" and seeks refuge at River's Edge, where wayward immortals are rehabilitated. There she meets a gorgeous, undeniably sexy immortal (aka Viking god), who seems inexplicably linked to her past. Nastasya finally begins to deal, to actually care about life, and to feel safe. But when she discovers the dark immortals are after her, she suspects that danger may be closer than she ever imagined.


Towards the beginning of this novel I was a bit confused as to the significance of Nastasya's friends, and I still am not quite sure how they tied in to the story, but I was drawn into the main plot of River's Edge. I was pleased with the attention to detail but quick movement through each main event that took place throughout the story. 

At no point did the story drag on or become boring, and I always was kept interested and in tune. I know this is the start of a series, but I was disappointed with the seemingly dangerous friends of hers at the beginning. They were explained well enough, but with the rising action at River's Edge, they seemed to be forgotten and weren't given anymore pages to come back and find Nastasya. That is my single complaint, but I know it will be wrapped up in later books. I did enjoy the connection between Reyn and Nastasya. It seemed real and love/hate, which always makes for a fun relationship. Simple ones where they fall in love all too quickly bore me, so the bantering between the two of them was especially fun to see unfold. I was extremely pleased with how this novel was written and can't wait for more!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

In My Mailbox (6/21 - 6/27)

In My Mailbox was started at the Story Siren!

Island Sting by Bonnie J. Doerr

Kenzie trades New York streets of Key pollution cleanup, and now instead of hailing cabs, she's tracking down a poacher of endangered Key deer. Her new home does have some benefits- mainly Angelo, and island native, who teams up with her to nab the culprit. But will they both survive when the killer turns from stalking deer to hunting humans?


Folly by Marthe Jocelyn

When Mary Finn falls into the arms of handsome Caden Tucker, their frolic changes the course of her life. Shat possesses her? She's been a girl of common sense until now. Mary's tale alternates with that of young James Nelligan, a new boy in an enormous foundling home. Three fates intertwine in this moving and fascinating story about life-changing moments.


Hunger by Jackie Morse Kessler

Lisabeth Lewis has a black steed, a set of scales, and a new job: she's been appointed Famine. How will an anorexic seventeen-year-old girl from the suburbs fare as one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse? Traveling the world on her steed gives LIsa freedom from her trouble at home-- her constant battle with hunger and her stuggle to hide it from the people who care about her. But being Famine forces her to go places hwere hunger is a painful part of everyday life, and to face the horrifying effect of her phenomenal power. Can Lisa find a way to harness that power--and the courage to fight her own inner demons?

Summer in Paris by Michele Ashman Bell
Kenzie Williams has it all: wealth, friends, popularity, talent. But when her father declares bankruptcy, her whole New York City would turns upside down. Her parents' solution, while they sort though their problems, is to send Kenzie to live out the summer with her relatives in Paris... Idaho! Feeling like she's been sentenced to three months in Hickville Prison, Kenzie arrives in Idaho feeling like a square peg with name-brand clothes, crammed into a round, horribly podunk hole. Leaving everything she loves behind, Kenzie is forced to get up at the crack of dawn, do chores, and hang out with her cousin's loser friends. She feels like she's about to die...until she meets Adam White, the town outcast, who has been accused of killing his best friend and is being blamed for some trouble that's been happening around town. Not only is Adam the best looking guy she's ever met, he's also the most fascinating, and Kenzie is determined to get to know him better and discover his secret.

Spin by Catherine McKenzie
Kate Sandford has just landed an interview at her favorite music magazine, The Line. It's the chance of a lifetime. So what does she do? Goes out to celebrate--and shows up still drunk at the interview. No surprise, she doesn't get the job, but the folks at The Line think she m
ight be perfect for another assignment for their sister gossip rag. All Kate has to do is follow "It Girl" Amber Sheppard into rehab. If she can get the inside scoop on Amber (and complete the thirty-day program without getting kicked out), they'll reconsider her for the job at The Line. Kate takes the assignment. But things become complicated when real friendships develop, a cute celebrity handler named Henry gets involved, and Kate begins to realize she may be in rehab for a reason. She has to make a decision--is publishing the article and winning the job worth the price she'll have to pay?

Three Rivers Rising by Jame Richards
Sixteen-year-old Celestia vacations with her family at the elite resort at Lake Conemaugh, a shimmering Allegheny Mountain reservoir held
in place by an earthen dam. Tired of the superficial cheer and sly judgements of the society crowd, she much prefers to swim and fish with Peter, the hotel's hired boy. It's a friendship she must keep secret--her parents would never approve--and when companionship turns to romance, it's a love that could get Celestia disowned. These affairs of the heart become all the more wrenching on a single, tragic day in May 1889. After d
ays of heavy rain, the dam fails, unleashing twenty million tons of water onto Johnstown, Pennsylvania, in the valley below--the town where Peter lives with his father.

The Queen's Daughter


The Queen's Daughter by Susan Coventry
Publication Date: June 8, 2010
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Pages: 373
Format Read: signed hardcover from author (thank you!)

Summary: Joan's mother, Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine, is the most beautiful woman in the world. Her father is Henry II, the king of England and a renowned military leader. Joan loves them both-- so what is she to do when she's forced to choose between them? As her parents' arguments grow ever more vicious, Joan begins to feel like a political pawn. When her parents marry her off to the king of Sicily, Joan finds herself stuck with a man ten years her senior. She doesn't love her husband, and she can't quite forget her childhood crush, the handsome Lord Raymond. As Joan grows up, she begins to understand that her parents world-view is warped by their political ambitions, and that hers, in turn, has been warped by theirs. Is it too late to figure out whom to trust? And more importantly, whom to love?

Although the book's beginning did not start off well, I did enjoy it by the end. I suppose I was expecting something different, but there was much more to this novel that I originally thought there would be. The plot revolved around the kingdom and war heavily, which I wasn't expecting. I got used to it, however, by the end. I believed part two and three were considerably better because Joan had grown older. The story lines became more developed as did her character. I was also impressed with the amount of research that must have been done about every kingdom and community, in addition to the knowledge of all the rulers and their successors. Joan did not always get a choice, which was a highly accurate account of a young girl from the middle ages, and I wasn't expecting quite a bit of the ending. Another character I liked was King William. Even though he was too kind and sweet to be a good king, his development was nice and he became a respectable man. The book's beginning was not that great, but it was worth the read!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

In My Mailbox (6/14 - 6/20)

This was a very good week as far as books go, and I've even finished one I got two days ago (which will be linked to my review!) In My Mailbox was started at the Story Siren.

Deception
by Lee Nichols
When Emma Vaile's parents disappear on a mysterious business trip, her life begins to unravel. The eerie visions she had as a child return, her best friend abandons her, and a new friend notifies social services that she is living alone. Enter Bennett Stern, her older brother's best friend and Emma's knight in J. Crew armor. Bennett whisks Emma away to New England to live in his family's museum-like mansion and attend Thatcher, an old-fashioned private school. Emma makes friends with the popular legacy crowd quickly and spends her free time crushing on Bennett. But the haunting visions are only getting worse. Emma has memories of Thatcher she can't explain--it's as if she's returning home to a place she's never been. Bennett finally confides that he and Emma are ghostkeepers, people who can communicate with ghosts. He's been keeping Emma close to protect her, but now Bennett needs her help tracking an other-worldly murderer.
(I've already read this one and it was wonderful! Go to my review!)

The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin
by Josh Berk
It was a da
rk, gloomy class field trip. Because it was in a coal mine. Somewhere the star quarterback swore as he tumbled to the bottom of a mine shaft. Probably. Will Halpin could only guess about the cursing. Because he's deaf, y'see? But here's the thing about murder: even if it's silent, it's still deadly. Being hefty, deaf, and the new guy in school isn't an easy ticket to popularity. at Carbon High, Will is put in the corner in every class. True, it's to help him read lips. And true,most treat him like a houseplant. But Will doesn't intend to stay stuck in any corner. And houseplants are privy to a lot of dirt. So when he teams up with the second least popular guy to figure out what happened in that mine, Will discovers that the suspects are many and not so usual. Was it the too-sexy-for-calculus math teacher? The crackpot bus driver? The sad prom queen? That scuzzy guy who talks to his fingers?

And Then Everything Unraveled by Jennifer Sturman
Delia Truesdale has no idea her life's about
to change forever. She's too busy enjoying the California summer. Her Internet tycoon mother, T.K. Truesdale, is out of town, and that means Delia can spend all her time at the beach, surfing. That is, until everything unravels. Her mother suddenly goes missing, and everyone thinks she's dead -- except Delia, who knows T.K.'s way too organized to simply disappear. But Delia's still sent to New York to live with her two aunts -- a downtown bohemian and an uptown ice queen. And in case that's not bad enough, she also has to deal with a snooty new school and trying not to fall for the wrong guy. Oh, and finding her mother. As she delves deeper into the tangle of conspiracies and lies surrounding T.K.'s disappearance, Delia begins to suspect that the wrong guy might be the right buy... and that some secrets -- especially the dangerous ones -- were never meant to be unraveled.
I also received the sequel to this, And Then I Found Out the Truth. I plan to have both reviews
up soon!

Lifted by
Wendy Toliver
Poppy Browne had never stolen anything in her life before moving to Pleasant Acres and meeting M
ary Jane and Whitney. But when Poppy walks out of the mall with her two new friends and her first pair of stolen jeans, she's hooked. Before long, Poppy is lifting whenever she gets the urge -- it's never about the merchandise, it's always about the thrill. But when her secret gets out, the girls in Poppy's clique turn on one another. As she watches her life collapse around her, Poppy must decided where her loyalties lie... and how far she'll go to protect herself.

The Queen's Daughter by Susan Coventry
Joan's mother, Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine, is the most beautiful woman in the world. Her father is Henry II, the king of England and a renowned military leader. Joan loves
them both-- so what is she to do when she's forced to choose between them? As her parents' arguments grow ever more vicious, Joan begins to feel like a political pawn. When her parents marry her off to the king of Sicily, Joan finds herself stuck with a man ten years her senior. She doesn't love her husband, and she can't quite forget her childhood crush, the handsome Lord Raymond. As Joan grows up, she begins to understand that her parents world-view is warped by their political ambitions, and that hers, in turn, has been warped by theirs. Is it too late to figure out whom to trust? And more importantly, whom to love?

Friday, June 18, 2010

Deception


Deception by Lee Nichols
Publication Date: June 8, 2010
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Pages: 310
Format Read: ARC from publisher (thank you!)

Summary: When Emma Vaile's parents disappear on a mysterious business trip, her life begins to unravel. The eerie visions she had as a child return, her best friend abandons her, and a new friend notifies social services that she is living alone. Enter Bennett Stern, her older brother's best friend and Emma's knight in J. Crew armor. Bennett whisks Emma away to New England to live in his family's museum-like mansion and attend Thatcher, an old-fashioned private school. Emma makes friends with the popular legacy crowd quickly and spends her free time crushing on Bennett. But the haunting visions are only getting worse. Emma has memories of Thatcher she can't explain--it's as if she's returning home to a place she's never been. Bennett finally confides that he and Emma are ghostkeepers, people who can communicate with ghosts. He's been keeping Emma close to protect her, but now Bennett needs her help tracking an other-worldly murderer.

I received this book for review this morning in the mail. It is now 4:23 and I'm finished with it, if that gives any indication as to how much I enjoyed it. Now I'm just disappointed the next one doesn't come out for ages. The story was a strange one, and I was not entirely sure which characters were good and which ones were evil, which always makes for an interesting novel. I like being kept in the dark about significant plot secrets and love for the author to reveal those much later in the novel. 


Deception had that exact suspense factor. It kept me intrigued but did not reveal too much of the ending until it actually hit you in the face. By the end, I was shocked, and I couldn't stop. Before I knew it, the book was finished. Emma and Bennett's relationship was one I truly loved, as well. In addition, I stand by my belief that the best stories don't always end completely perfectly. 


This is one of the best and most captivating novels I've read in a long while, and I absolutely cannot wait for the second one. Because there most certainly will be a second one.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Astonshing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl


The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl by Barry Lyga
Publication Date: September 6, 2006
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Pages: 311
Format Read: signed paperback from the author (thank you so much!)

Summary: Fanboy has never had it good, but lately his sophomore year is turning out to be its own special hell. The bullies have made him their favorite target, his best (and only) friend seems headed for the dark side (sports and the popular kids), and his pregnant mother and the step-fascist are eagerly awaiting the birth of the alien life form known as Fanboy's new little brother or sister. Fanboy, though, has a secret: a graphic novel he's been working on without telling anyone, a graphic novel he is convinced will lead to publication, fame, and--most important--a way out of the crappy little town he lives in and away from all the people who make it hell for him. When Fanboy meets Kyra, a.k.a. Goth Girl, he finds an outrageous, cynical girl who shares his love of comics as well as his hatred for jocks and bullies. Fanboy can't resist someone who actually seems to understand him, and soon he finds himself willing to heed her advice--to ignore or crush anyone who stands in his way. But Kyra has secrets, too. And they could lead Fanboy to his dreams... or down a path into his own darkness.


This novel didn't blow me away. It didn't really even entertain me. I did finish the novel, so I suppose the plot was good enough to keep me reading. The real problem I had was with the main character. Fanboy (who apparently doesn't have a name until Kyra christens him this) was a very whiny fifteen-year-old. He complained about jocks, bullies, Kyra, the most popular girl in school, Bendis (the most famous comic author), and everything else I can possibly think of. He couldn't stand when Cal, his only friend, couldn't come to a convention with him because of a sports team commitment. Even when Cal finally drug him to a party, all Fanboy thought about was what great material it would be for his graphic novel.

However, I did enjoy that it wasn't a typical read. I don't come across many adventures about comic books. And the cover is one of the best I have ever seen, being a blue metallic. I will probably read the sequel Goth Girl Rising because I am interested in the storyline, but if Fanboy doesn't grow up I might just have to quit reading it.

Monday, June 14, 2010

House Rules


House Rules by Jodi Picoult
Publication Date: March 2, 2010
Publisher: Atria Books
Pages: 532
Format Read: Hardcover purchase

Summary: Jacob Hunt is a teenage boy with Asperger's syndrome. He's hopeless at reading social cues or expressing himself well to others, and like many kids with AS, Jacob has a special focus on one subject--in his case, forensic analysis. He's always showing up at crime scenes, thanks to the police scanner he keeps in his room, and telling the cops what they need to do... and usually he's right. But then his town is rocked by a terrible murder and, for a change, the police come to Jacob with questions. All of the hallmark behaviors of Asperger's-not looking someone in the eye, stimulatory tics and twitches, flat affect--can look a lot like guilt to law enforcement personnel. Suddenly, Jacob and his family, who only want to fit in, feel the spotlight shining directly on them. For his mother, Emma, it's a brutal reminder of the intolerance and misunderstanding that always threaten her family. For his brother, Theo, it's another indication of why nothing is normal because of Jacob. And over this small family the soul-searing question looms: Did Jacob commit murder?

Jodi Picoult astounds me with her ability to craft novels centered around character development when there are so many characters. The chapters rotate between Jacob, Emma, Theo, the lawyer, a police officer, and Jacob's father. It is clear an extensive amount of research was done to ensure Jacob's thoughts and behaviors lined up with traits of Asperger's. 

I was engulfed in the world of the characters, and the plot was just as gripping as the people themselves. Picoult uses vivid descriptors and imagery to describe elaborate crime scenes and the tiniest of details. However, I was able to predict the result of the crime well before the truth was revealed. Even with the well-developed plot and characters, I was disappointed with the lack of a surprising ending. 

In addition, the novel did not really end. It seemed as though she got bored writing and wanted to start a new novel. The ending is the only thing that keeps this book from 5 stars. The rest of it is so good, however, it is well worth the read. If you enjoy crime and mystery novels with a hint of romance, this novel is for you.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

In My Mailbox (6/7 - 6/13)

This is only the second In My Mailbox post I've ever done, but I'm going to attempt to keep up. Now that high school is finished I actually have time to spend here! In My Mailbox was started at the Story Siren!

Immortal Beloved by Cate Tiernan (thanks little, brown & co!)
(Sept. 2010)
Nastasya has spent the last century living as a spoiled party girl, numbing herself to forget the violent and fatal tragedy that robbed her of her birthright--and her entire family. She feels nothing and truly cares for no one, until one night, when she witnesses her best friend, a dark immortal, torture a human. and her world is ripped apart. She flees her "friends" and seeks refuge at River's Edge, where wayward immortals are rehabilitated. There she meets a gorgeous, undeniably sexy immortal (aka Viking god), who seems inexplicably linked to her past. Nastasya finally begins to deal, to actually care about life, and to feel safe. But when she discovers the dark immortals are after her, she suspects that danger may be closer than she ever imagined.


Half Way Home by Hugh Howey

We were sent out among the stars, five hundred of us, to be raised in vats and grown into dutiful colonists. Our mission, like so many thousands of others, was a coin-flip. Heads, and our planet is habitable. We emerge, fully-formed, and conquer a planet, extracting its resources, bending it to our will. Tails, however, and our planet isn't worth settling. My fellow colonists and I are treated to a chemical bath; we're given a baptism of fire as our mission is aborted, and we along with it. These are the odds. Heads or tails. Only, fate is never so simple. Our colony did something unique. Something no one ever planned for. It landed, like a coin on its edge, and it remained there, balancing and teetering, poised on this planet, our home halfway between anything. A mere fraction of us survived what happened next. Those of us who did were born fifteen years premature, and with only half our training complete. We stumbled out into a world full of possibility, but also of danger. Now we're in a constant fight for our lives. We struggle to feed ourselves. We struggle to solve the mystery of our new home. Even worse, we struggle to survive each other. We have no idea what we were expected to find here. We don't know what our forefathers had in mind when they sent us among the stars. It's impossible to guess what could have been, or should have been. All we can tell you is what happened.

Insatiable by Meg Cabot

Sick of hearing about vampires? So is Meena Harper. But her bosses are making her write about them anyway, even though Meena doesn't believe in them. Not that Meena isn't familiar with the supernatural. See, Meena Harper knows how you're going to die. (Not that you're going to believe her. No one ever does.) But not even Meena's precognition can prepare her for what happens when she meets-- then makes the mistake of falling in love with-- Lucien Antonescu, a modern-day prince with a bit of a dark side. It's a dark side a lot of people, like an ancient society of vampire hunters, would prefer to see him dead for. The problem is, Lucien's already dead. Maybe that's why he's the first guy Meena's ever met whom she could see herself having a future with. See, while Meena's always been able to see everyone else's future, she's never been able to look into her own. and while Lucien seems like everything Meena has ever dreamed of in a boyfriend, he might turn out to be more like a nightmare. Now might be a good time for Meena to start learning to predict her own future...If she even has one.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Candor


Candor by Pam Bachorz
Publication Date: September 22, 2009
Publisher: EgmontUSA
Pages: 272
Format Read: ARC from publisher (thank you!)

Summary: Stepford makes the perfect wife, but Candor teens are changed for life. Everything is perfect in the town of Candor, Florida. Teens respect their elders, do their chores, and enjoy homework...because they're controlled by subliminal messages. Only Oscar, the son of the town's founder, knows how to get kids out--for a price. But when Nia moves into town, Oscar is smitten. He can't stand to see her changed. Now he must decide to help Nia escape Candor and lose her forever, or keep her close and risk exposure...


This had been sitting in my to-be-read pile since last year, and I finally got around to picking it up. I was immensely glad I did. It might have been because I found myself fascinated with psychological behaviors and disorders, but I truly enjoyed this book. 


From the beginning, it did not have the premise of a normal young adult book. Its plot developed a gripping tale revolving around Oscar, the model-boy for the perfect teen. He completes his homework on time, gets perfect grades, and is friendly to everyone. His father is sending subliminal messages through music that plays all over town to force kids to follow these rules. Only Oscar knows how the system works, and only Oscar can save teens that move to this town. What I liked most about this novel was that it was twisted in a way that did not reveal the ending. While the characters normally draw me in, it was the plot that grabbed hold of me. I couldn't put this book down, and I am a sucker for books with un-perfect endings.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Fang by James Patterson

WARNING! IF YOU HAVEN'T READ ANY OF THE MAXIMUM RIDE SERIES, THERE WILL BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW. IF YOU'RE LOOKING TO SEE IF YOU WANT TO READ THEM, DO IT! GREAT SERIES!

Fang by James Patterson
Publication Date: March 15, 2010
Publisher: Little, Brown & Co.
Pages: 309
Format Read: ARC from publisher (thank you!)

Summary: Fang will be the first to die.
For years, Max has been desperately on the run from evil forces trying to prevent her from her destiny to save the world--but nothing has ever rocked her world like this horrifying prophetic message. Fang is Max's best friend, her soul mate, her partner in leading her flock of winged children. A life without Fang is a life unimaginable.
Max's desperate desire to protect Fang brings the two closer than ever. But their world is turned upside down yet again when another winged boy, the beautiful Dylan, is introduced into the flock. Raised in a lab, like the flock, he exists for only one reason: He was created to be Max's perfect other half.
Now a battle of science against soul and perfection versus passion unfolds, twists, and turns...and meanwhile, the apocalypse is coming.
I have been a fan of the Maximum Ride series since its debut a while back. However, recently I have been mildly disappointed. Fang, while not the worst, could have been far better. Beginning with the positive points, I'd say I was pleased with the conflict. However, the conflict was not as it seems. Back in previous books, the smallest of the flock, Angel, had become a serious threat to Max with her mind-reading and devious personality. Angel, once again, seemed to be the main focus of fight in this novel, not the new addition. 


Rather, I felt badly for Dylan, and I really enjoyed his fresh character because of his honesty and naivety. Another enemy was the obvious Jeb, who raised the flock from their test tubes. Although he claims he is helping the flock, Max seems to think otherwise. His constant ability to locate the group of kids has always helped the story line, because what would a book be without conflict? 


On the contrary, I disliked the relationship between Fang and Max. I enjoy the small gestures and the secret romance, but in the beginning of the novel, all was focused on the two and their love. I began to get bored. I wanted my kick-ass action back, and for the first fourth of the book, it was MIA. While later on I realized this romance was key to the plot, I still feel it could have been lessened to a degree. On the whole, I still enjoyed the new addition to the series. Of course I had problems with it, but I would still recommend it, along with the rest of the series, to anyone.