Friday, May 27, 2011

Viola in Reel Life

Viola in Reel Life by Adriana Trigiani
Publication Date: September 1, 2009
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 288
Format Read: ARC from author (thank you so much!)

Summary: Three reasons why Viola Chesterton knows she'll never survive her first year at boarding school:
   — she has to leave behind her best friend, Andrew
   — ... and replace him with three new roommates who, disturbingly, actually seem to like it there
   — "There" is South Bend, Indiana, which feels about as far away from her hometown of Brooklyn, New York, as you can get

I've had this book for quite a while, and honestly, I'm not sure why I didn't pick it up until now. I just received the sequel for review, so I decided to pull it off the to-be-read pile and begin. For starters, I love the cover. It's pretty difficult to get me to like a cover, because I hate when people's faces are on the front. I like to imagine the characters for myself, and I don't need a picture of them on the front before I've even read the book, thank you very much. This, however, was lovely. It showed just enough about the character about which I was getting ready to learn, including the lovely camera on the side of the book, which I did notice before I started.

Once moving into the novel, we learn that Viola is an aspiring filmmaker. She carries her camera everywhere, and she keeps her own video diaries and plans on documenting the horror that is Prefect Academy in Indiana (I was a little sad that Indiana was portrayed so sadly, but South Bend is North, I'm on the South side, and it's like a totally different country, so it was okay) to send to Andrew back in Brooklyn. Turns out, cliche proving itself to be true, she actually likes the school a little bit, and her roommates become her really great friends. I loved one of them in particular. Marisol was her Mexican roommate from Virginia, and she seemed like a truly genuine person, and she always seemed to pull Viola out of her selfish self and get her to think about how awesome her life is.

In general, the plot line was predictable but fun. The kicker with the plot is that when Viola films some of the grounds of the school, she catches a glimpse of a lady dressed in red. Later, while researching, she finds out more, and thinks that this lady is a ghost that haunts the academy's grounds (I won't say why because that might give some of it away). After Viola meets a boy from the neighboring boys' academy, she learns about a film contest in the Midwest and uses the footage of the Lady in Red to develop her very first short film.

It's a really light read, and I'm excited to read the next one! So hopefully that won't disappoint! (especially since I really kind of like her friend from home, Andrew) I'm interested to see what develops! As always, happy reading!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Heist Society

Heist Society by Ally Carter
Publication Date: February 9, 2010
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Pages: 287
Format Read: library book

Summary: When Katarina Bishop was three, her parents took her to the Louvre ... to case it. For her seventh birthday, Katarina and her Uncle Eddie traveled to Austria ... to steal the crown jewels. When Kat turned fifteen, she planned a con of her own — scamming her way into the best boarding school in the country, determined to leave the family business behind. Unfortunately, leaving "the life" for a normal life proves harder than she'd expected. Soon, Kat's friend and former co-conspirator, Hale, appears out of nowhere to bring her back into the world she tried so hard to escape. But he has good reason: a powerful mobster's priceless art collection has been stolen and he wants it returned. Only a master thief could have pulled off this job, and Kat's father isn't just on the suspect list,he is the list. Caught between Interpol and a far more deadly enemy, Kat's dad needs her help. For Kat there is only one solution: track down the paintings and steal them back. So what if it's a spectacularly impossible job? She's got two weeks, a teenage crew, and, hopefully just enough talent to pull off the biggest heist in her family's (very crooked) history — and with any luck, steal her life back along the way.

This was such a fun book! I've always loved Carter's books — teenage spy school? AWESOME! So I was very excited to see this at the library; I was practically jumping up and down. Carter did not disappoint. The story begins as interesting as the rest of the book — Katarina is getting pulled out of boarding school by her former friend and co-conspirator Hale to help clear her father's name. After all, the family had a reputation to uphold. The relationship between Katarina and Hale was perfect — they weren't lovey-dovey or too bickery of friends. There was just enough spark there that made me want to see where this was going. In addition, there is a rival for Kat's heart.

I absolutely loved that this story was about art (rather, the stealing of it). It's focus on real paintings in real museums was fascinating, and it definitely made me want to visit the Henley. I was also pleased with the pacing behind the story. It moved quickly, but still kept the readers informed of everything that was going on, especially with the evil character whose artwork was stolen. The kicker is that he takes a strange liking to Katarina, and he seems to think that she is an excellent thief and may want to work with her again in the future (there IS a book numero dos!). In addition, there's definitely a big question left open to be continued, and I MUST find a copy of the second book soon, otherwise I might die of anticipation.

There is so much that goes on in this book, it's impossible to say how much I loved it all! Basically, the point is, GO READ IT!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Tempest Rising

Welcome to the Tempest Rising blog tour for May! This book actually came out May 10, right in time for everyone to read it for the summer! So let's dive right in to the review!

Tempest Rising by Tracy Deebs
Publication Date: May 10, 2011
Publisher: Walker Books
Pages: 352
Format Read: ARC from publisher for blog tour (thank you!)

Summary: Tempest Maguire wants nothing more than to surf the killer waves at her California coastline home; continue her steady relationship with her boyfriend, Mark; and take care of her brothers and surfer dad. But Tempest's mom, gone since Tempest was eleven, abandoned the family for a reason: to return to the sea where she had been born. Yes, Tempest is half mermaid, and as her seventeenth birthday approaches, she will also have to decide whether to remain on land or give herself to the ocean. Even though Tempest loves her life and family, the pull of the water is becoming increasingly insistent. So too is her attraction to Kai, a mysterious and gorgeous surfer whose uncanny abilities hint at an otherworldly identity as well. And when Tempest does finally enter the fantastical underwater world, full of mermaids, sea witches, and even her mother, she finds that a larger destiny awaits her — one that hangs the entire ocean's population in the balance.

This was an interesting book — I've always been a fan of paranormal books about these sea (as opposed to those oh-so-original vampires), and I've fallen in love with several selkies (see Seven Tears Into the Sea — it's an older book from the 90s, but absolutely FANTASTIC), so I was okay with reading this one.

It started off rather slowly, and I was having a hard time getting into it. However, as I got to know the characters, I became more and more intrigued in this (resulting in today's sunburn from sitting outside reading too long). Tempest was unique because she didn't like to be taken care of, which I really liked about her. She didn't want people groveling or pretending like she was royalty, and she didn't always want the affection of her boyfriend, Mark. I actually grew sad about this. While Kai was a foreign exotic beauty that I really loved, I also found myself feeling bad for Mark. Tempest kept the mermaid deal a secret from her boyfriend, which clearly frustrated him, and he was such a sweet guy and he shows a lot of care for Tempest. I just found it incredibly sad sometimes that she was so independent and weary of this whole mermaid thing.

Of course, Kai was lovely. Enough said. Pretty much anyone could fall in love with him, mermaid or not. And if you read it, with my previous opinions, you'll soon find out why I really liked him. 
As far as the actual story, it had nice pacing, though I did get tired of Tempest fighting against the sea, going to school, then at night going back outside, only to struggle with the sea more. It became tiring, but once she finally entered the world (for entirely different circumstances), it definitely picked up. Once she was underwater, I was fascinated by the events taking place. My only issue is that the ending didn't wrap a lot of things up for me. I sincerely hope there will be another one because I still have a lot of questions and I'm not sure the book was entirely finished, so let's all hope there will be a second one. If there is, then the ending was a perfect cliffhanger, enough to make me want to read the next one. If not, well, I'm really sad we won't be seeing more of Kai :)

A lovely summer read, I know we're all looking for those as summer actually sets in along with boredom, which is the perfect time to grab a book and read outside! (Just don't get engrossed and then sunburnt!)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Moonglass

(Before I actually get down to it, can I just say how much I love this cover? It's GLITTERY! So major bonus points for a lovely cover — also, it's purple! my favorite!)

Moonglass by Jessi Kirby
Publication Date: May 3, 2011
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pages: 232
Keywords: seaside, beach, moving
Format Read: Hardcover from publisher (thank you!)

When Anna was little, she and her mother walked the beach together every day looking for sea glass. But one night her mother walked into the ocean and never came out, leaving Anna with only memories — and a collection of ocean-tumbled glass. Ten years later Anna's father has accepted a job transfer, and Anna's life is again swept up in a tide she can't control. Despite her reluctance to move, Anna is slowly won over by the beachfront cottage, the gorgeous lifeguards, and early morning runs along the shore. But her new home is a place that holds long-buried history. It's where her parents fell in love, where strangers seem to know more about her family's past than she does, and where she finds that the red piece of sea glass she wears around her neck has a history all its own. As Anna combs the beach for bits of glass scattered in the sand, she discovers that there may be more to her mother's life and death than she and her father have been able to acknowledge. The sea glass in Anna's collection proves that time can smooth rough edges — but what about when the jagged hurt of loss remains as sharp as ever?

This was a very captivating summer read. I always love fun beach stories during the summer season, and this book did not disappoint. It even had a darker side to it — Anna's mother's suicide. But Anna struggled internally with this event throughout the whole book, and it was a really interesting storyline that kept me interested. Anna was a truly lovely character, and I enjoyed the side of her that likes to run. She joins the new school's cross country team because (well really because her new friend Ashley talks her into it) she likes to run — it allows her the opportunity to get away from things.

However, past Anna, I was a bit disappointed with some of the character developments. Jillian, a girl on the cross country team, seemed to get along with Anna well, and they had a lot in common. Jillian understood what Anna was going through, but we see very little of her through the novel, and I was highly disappointed about that, since I really liked her. I also wanted to know more about Tyler, one of the cute lifeguards on the beach. There wasn't enough to him, and I felt like there could have been so much that was done with his character, I just felt a little confused as to why he wasn't much more than a cute beach guy.

Overall though, I really did enjoy the book. The pacing was good, quick enough to not get boring, but it still developed in some heavy important areas. I also liked seeing glimpses of Anna's memories. They added so much to the story, and helped clear up things that, in the beginning, I thought were highly confusing and didn't make any sense at all. It's a wonderful debut novel, and a nice quick read if you're looking for that fun summer story!

Read When : You're feeling for a beach-y book, but not necessarily too light and fluffy. You want a little substance to your summer romance story.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Betrayal

This is the second installment in Lee Nichols' "Haunting Emma" series, and I have reviewed the first one here. If you haven't read any of this series, head on over to the review of the first one, because the next several paragraphs will make absolutely no sense to you!


Betrayal by Lee Nichols
Publication Date: March 1, 2011
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Pages: 288
Format Read: ARC from publisher (thank you!)

Summary: Emma Vaile is the most powerful ghostkeeper in centuries. Which is great when she's battling the wraith-master Neos and terrible when she's flirting with fellow ghostkeeper (and soul mate) Bennet Stern. When ghostkeepers fall in love, the weaker one loses all power, and that's not something Bennet can handle. Heartbroken and alone after Bennet disappears, Emma tries to lose herself in school. But when two new ghostkeepers arrive — one a snarky teen boy, the other a British scholar — Emma throws herself back into training to battle Neos. After all, she's not the kind of girl who pines for a boy forever. But as the team grows stronger, they are threatened by one of their own. One Emma never suspected...

Lee Nichols has done it again. I finished the first book in about 4 hours time, and this one wasn't any different. She kept me captivated up until the very end. I think one of the reasons I felt compelled to keep reading was that every chapter (much like a James Patterson book) ended with some sort of suspense, and I found myself saying, "Just one more chapter, then I'll sleep." Not the case. 

I always really liked Bennet, but their relationship seemed almost too perfect to me, which made me a little angry. Since Bennet disappears in the first bit of this book, it made things more complicated, and a problem developed later on in the book that made me (certainly not Emma) quite a bit happier. I'm not a sucker for things that work out perfectly, and it was just the conflict I was looking for, again, making this a really excellent story.

The other thing I love about this series is the actual element of mystery. There's always something that I want to know more about, that leaves me hanging, because it doesn't answer enough. This is a good thing. I love being kept in suspense, and Nichols is starting to make me angry because I simply can't wait until the third comes out (there HAS to be a third, otherwise, I have a LOT of questions). 

The newcomer characters — LOVED THEM. I fell in love immediately with Lukas, the teen who immediately warmed up to Emma and Natalie, and his sarcastic side was adorable. Simon was another brilliant character, even though he was shy, I really took a liking to him. (We also see a return of the Rake, whom I adore. Too bad he's a ghost...)

If you haven't gotten the idea, this series is genuinely lovely, and I cannot wait to read the next installment!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Secret Society


Secret Society by Tom Dolby
Publication Date: September 29, 2009
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Pages: 352
Format Read: ARC from author (thank you!)

Summary: Once you get in... you can never get out.
Do you ever wonder how some people have it all? The best schools, the hottest parties, the priciest clothes, the easiest jobs? Maybe it's not because they work hard or get a lucky break every once in a while. Maybe it's because they're part of a secret group. A secret society.

I've had this for a while and I just hadn't gotten around to reading it until just now. It had such an interesting premise, and I really loved this book a lot. The story switches perspectives, which I always enjoy, as long as it's not too many characters. And it wasn't. It revolved around four main teens in New York City: Phoebe, Lauren, Nick, and Patch. The first three, right in the beginning, get initiated into the Society, which is a group that helps people succeed. Patch is Nick's best friend, but he does not get invited. He, however, knows Nick did, and he wants to see what this legend is all about. After all, that's what the Society is: a group that pretends it does not exist. Members are not allowed to talk about it, and they are sworn to secrecy. 

On top of the interesting beginning, the prologue brings up an entirely new twist on the whole story: a dead body. One is found on Thanksgiving day, and he has an ankh tattoo on the back of his neck — the same tattoo all members of the Society have. 

It's a lot to take in all at the beginning, but it starts before and goes through everything slowly. Not too slowly, though, otherwise this reader would be very bored. It keeps a wonderful pacing throughout the book, and it kept me intrigued enough to begin the second book, The Trust, right away. I also really liked the development of the different characters, though I'm still left with many questions about each of them, Patch in particular. His family history was described but not explained, and his mother, kept in a mental institution, had the same ankh tattoo on the back of her neck as everyone in the Society did. And we were left with nothing else into that matter. 

It's hard to do a thorough review as I haven't finished the second book, so I'm not sure yet as to how Dolby plans on answering all these really interesting plot lines. All I can really say is that the protagonists are fascinating, and the antagonists are lovely villains, and it's really fun to watch the kids try and overcome these evil masterminds. I did really enjoy this first installment, so we'll see how things go as I finish up the second one. 

KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR AN AUTHOR INTERVIEW WITH JOY PREBLE, AUTHOR OF DREAMING ANASTASIA AND HAUNTED, AS WELL AS MY REVIEWS FOR THOSE! THEY'LL BE COMING SOON!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Love Story

Just like to say a happy Derby weekend! (Though since I've been at university I'm realizing not everyone in the world knows what that is — one of the biggest horse races in the world. Now you know)
In honor of that, I read a book recently that I was very excited to receive, and I read the back, and BEHOLD! It's about a girl from Louisville! Home sweet home! Turns out I really liked it! (Also, it's signed, so I'd like to say thanks to Mrs. Echols and all the folks behind that!)

Love Story by Jennifer Echols
Publication Date: July 19, 2011
Publisher: MTV Books
Pages: 243
Format Read: ARC from Jennifer (Thank you so much!)

Summary: Erin Blackwell is headed to college in New York City to study creative writing. Her grandmother has other plans: she approves of the college, but she wants Erin to major in business and then come back home to Kentucky to run the family's famous racehorse farm. But Erin won't agree. Studying in New York and writing her way into a career as a novelist is her escape from the farm and the tragedy that happened there. So Erin's grandmother decides Erin should experience life as a starving artist. She takes Erin's inheritance and college tuition, and gives it all to Hunter Allen.

Hunter has lived on the farm for years. He's Erin's age, and he's the romantic dream of every girl in her high school. But Erin gives him a wide berth since he was involved in the family tragedy. She's furious that he conned her grandmother into giving him Erin's birthright and sending him to Erin's college. At least she's free of him in her writing class. So she pens a story that has haunted her lately, in which the horse farm heiress starts a forbidden affair with the lowly stable boy. Unfortunately for her, the day she's sharing this story with her classmates, Hunter walks in. He's switching to her class. And after reading about himself in Erin's story, he writes his own sexy assignments that lure Erin into dangerous fantasies about what could have been between them...and what might be.

I absolutely loved this story. I needed something very fun right after getting home from my first year at university, and this was the perfect choice. I loved how the stories were built into the main story, so there were several different things developing very quickly in the story: the relationship between Hunter and Erin and the relationship between their stories. Their stories were a lot of fun to read; it was almost as if they bickered back and forth, making it quite comical, though they were very unrealistic stories for a college creative writing class (I took one — we wrote no romance whatsoever. Strictly prohibited). However, it was still a joy when the words would become italicized and I could read another fun steamy story from one of the characters' minds.

I loved Erin's roommates at college, Summer and Jordis. They had small appearances, but I thought they certainly had a lot of character for relatively small roles in the story. The only character I had a problem with was Erin's grandmother. I understand we're meant to not like her, but it's unlikely that a grandmother with that much money would simply cut her granddaughter off completely and force her to work while she's at school, and pay for everything on her own. There are a lot of students that have to pay themselves, but the two were on good terms until just before the story begins, which is why I have such a hard time believing that.

It also took some unexpected turns towards the end, which I am always a fan of. I love being surprised, and I loathe reading predictable books. Books like these are always relatively predictable, but it had several surprises for me that made me enjoy this book that much more. I highly recommend this, especially as a kick-off-to-summer book. I know everyone will be stopping school soon, and this was perfect to sit outside and read in the sun!