Monday, October 17, 2011

Delcroix Academy — The Candidates

The Candidates: Delcroix Academy by Inara Scott
Publication Date: August 24, 2010
Publisher: Hyperion Books
Pages: 293
Keywords: boarding school, telekinesis, magic
Format Read: ARC from publisher (thank you!)

Dancia Lewis is far from popular. And that's not just because of her average grades or her less-than-glamorous wardrobe. In fact, Dancia's mediocrity is a welcome cover for her secret: whenever she sees a person threatening someone she cares about, things just...happen. Cars skid. Structures collapse. Usually someone gets hurt. So Dancia does everything possible to avoid getting close to people, believing this way she can suppress her powers and keep them hidden. But when recruiters from the prestigious Delcroix Academy offer her a full scholarship, Dancia's days of living under the radar may be over. Only, Delcroix is a school for diplomats' kids and child geniuses — not B students with uncontrollable telekinetic tendencies. So why are they treating Dancia like she's special? Even the hottest guy on campus seems to be going out of his way to make her feel welcome. And then there's her mysterious new friend Jack, who can't stay out of trouble. He suspects something dangerous is going on at the academy and wants Dancia to help him figure out what. Dancia isn't convinced. She hopes that maybe the recruiters know more about her 'gift' than they're letting on. Maybe they can help her undertand how to use it...but not even Dancia could have imagined what awaits her behind the gates of Delcroix Academy. 

I received this book a long time ago and grabbed it for my pile that came to school with me because the premise sounded so good. And it was pretty fascinating. I really loved the basic concept. I'm loving the different supernatural turns in books now — super sick of vampires, werewolves, etc. So the fact that Dancia was pseudo-telekinetic was pretty cool. I wanted a little more explanation of where her power came from, since there really wasn't any at all, but maybe that will be resolved in the second book. After all, Dancia only really explores her power after she gets to Delcroix, (and because of spoilers, I won't say anything else) but she can't really know that much yet, I don't believe. 

I loved the friends that Dancia made at Delcroix. They were Hennie and Esther, and I absolutely adored them. I was back and forth on how I felt about Jack. He really cares for Dancia, and wants her friendship and her trust so badly. However, he is very paranoid about being followed, and at times, it was a little excessive how paranoid he was. But overall, I really liked his character. Though he did something at the end that was really hypocritical and just pissed me off, quite frankly. I'm also not quite sure how I feel about Cam, who is the hottest boy in school mentioned in the summary. That's what I really liked about this book. It still has me guessing, wanting to read the next one to figure out how I really feel about all these people.

The only person I feel sure about is Dancia herself. While confused and trying to figure everything out, she was kind of annoying. She was mean to her friends and to Jack. Yes, sometimes she just wanted to be left alone, but I still didn't really like that. She also stereotyped a lot of people when she first got to the school, and later on, they turned out to be perfectly nice to her. Yes, it really can be attributed to the fact that her whole life, she's been avoiding relationships. But still, it just made me sad. 

This was a relatively good book. It made me want to read the second one. After finishing this, I read several mixed reviews of the novel, and I was really surprised to learn that people seriously didn't like it. I did not think that at all. This was definitely a worthwhile read, and I read it in about 2 days. So it is also very easy to get through if you're looking for a quick read. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

Unrelated News about HARRY POTTER

So this has nothing to do with reviewing, but it is definitely Harry Potter related, and I'm definitely extremely excited for this! I'm studying abroad next semester (flying out on January 5) in England, just near a town called Grantham — it's about an hour north of London.



Tonight I just purchased tickets for exactly six months from today to tour the official Harry Potter sets (yes, the ones they LITERALLY used in the films) at the Warner Bros. studio in Leavesden, which is right outside of London. Yes, I get to see the actual sets!

I cannot begin to express how excited I am for this trip. I'm probably going to hyperventilate when the time actually comes to go there!

(For anyone that's interested, I'm also going to do a separate blog of my overseas adventures, and I'll definitely update things on here and post a link, in case anyone wants to see what I'm up to!)

Click here to see the Warner Bros. home page and see what the touring business is all about!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Haunted

THIS IS A REVIEW OF  HAUNTED, THE SECOND BOOK IN THE SERIES. IF YOU HAVEN'T READ THE FIRST ONE, DO NOT READ THIS REVIEW!


Haunted by Joy Preble
Publication Date: February 1, 2011
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Pages: 290
Keywords: Anastasia, paranormal, magic
Other books read by the author: Dreaming Anastasia
Format Read: paperback from author (thank you!)

Summary: Anne is trying her best to live a normal life, but she's still got some power sparking inside her. She's hearing and seeing things that she tries her best to ignore-like being haunted by a Russian sea nymph that claims the princess Anastasia is still alive.
That's when Ethan Kozninsky-he of the stunning blue eyes, thick brown hair, and former immortal status-returns. Anne soon realizes that everything she's been trying to forget might be impossible to bury.

I was a little disappointed with Dreaming Anastasia, which is the first in the series. Not enough was explained for me to fully understand how the magic worked, why Anne was chosen, and different things like that. I feel like Haunted should have just been attached with the first book. There is so much that is explained in this sequel that had to do with the first book, I feel like if you haven't read the first one, you'd be awfully confused as to why some bits were important. Often, there were bits of the story mentioned that had nothing to do with Anne's current problem, but they focused on what happened in the first book. So this was great for me, because it cleared up TONS of questions I had at the end of the first book, but bad for those who didn't want to read the first one.

I was still a little frustrated about the whole teenage-girl-attached-to-her-cell-phone aura about Anne last book, but that was a little better in this one. She seemed to have grown up quite a bit, after all that happened previously, which I really liked. The character development was so much better. I also loved the way Tess grew up. She became a much more developed character with a bigger part to play in this book, and that led to us seeing more of her, of which I definitely approved. Ethan was about the same, which kind of disappointed me, though he wasn't afraid anymore to exhibit his true feelings for Anne. But he was really the same character at the beginning of the book as he was at the end.

And, of course, Ethan has a rival this time around. When he gets back from Europe at the beginning of the book, Anne now has a new boyfriend named Ben. I understand the purpose of Ben — to make Ethan jealous and make Anne realize she actually loved Ethan! That's not new stuff. However, I really just thought he was rather unnecessary. And there were random inserts about Anne thinking about having sex with him, and how he always felt her up. I mean, this could have been okay had it been a really steamy scene, but they were in a pool house where Ben worked as a lifeguard. I just thought that WHOLE bit was really out of place and strange.

As far as what happened, there was a lot more action going on than in the first novel, but it didn't start until about halfway through. The first half was kind of like the Ethan vs. Ben show. Then the action started. Once it did, it was truly interesting. A rusalka (Russian mermaid) has been appearing to Anne over and over again, saying she needs help. Well, obviously Baba Yaga has something to do with it, so there is a reappearance to her forest, and flashbacks back to the whole Anastasia debacle. This is when it starts to answer some questions from the first book, but if you haven't read that, you'll just be really confused.

I was more impressed with Preble's style in this book — it developed immensely and created a much better story. There were still a few things I didn't like, but for the most part, this book cleared up any issues I was having with the first, and it was a bit more entertaining to read just because everything was developed much better!

Don't forget to keep checking back for my interview with Joy Preble!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Dreaming Anastasia

Dreaming Anastasia by Joy Preble
Publication Date: September 1, 2009
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Pages: 310
Keywords: Anastasia, paranormal, magic
Format Read: paperback from author (thank you so much!)

Summary: Anastasia Romanov thought she would never feel more alone than when the gunfire started and her family began to fall around her. Surely the bullets would come for her next. But they didn't. Instead, two gnarled old hands reached for her. When she wakes up she discovers that she is in the ancient hut of the witch Baba Yaga, and that some things are worse than being dead.
In modern-day Chicago, Anne doesn't know much about Russian history. She is more concerned about getting into a good college—until the dreams start. She is somewhere else. She is someone else. And she is sharing a small room with a very old woman. The vivid dreams startle her, but not until a handsome stranger offers to explain them does she realize her life is going to change forever. She is the only one who can save Anastasia. But, Anastasia is having her own dreams…

I really love the mystery behind the whole Anastasia Romanov deal (they solved it, but still... in case some people don't know the true story I won't ruin the mystery here), and I think that's such a fascinating bit of history.

As far as the book goes, I was really surprised to see that there were a lot of people out there that weren't too crazy about this. I really enjoyed it. Yes, it's not been my favorite, but I still really liked reading this. I had never read a book based on the Anastasia mystery, so I really loved that. I also loved the characters, though I was a little perplexed by why Anna was so obsessed with her cell phone. Ethan was lovely as well, and he was really genuinely concerned about saving people, which I loved. He was honest and truthful, and a very steady character. I'm interested to see where things go in the second novel, as I'm not quite sure how it's going to continue (which is super duper exciting!).

The whole magic theme was interesting, and I loved that the whole story was more than just running from bad guys. However, the magic was totally unexplained. I wanted to know more about how it got to be in those people, why it worked that way, and why Anna inherited it. There were just a lot of unanswered questions that I would've liked to have known the answers to. Periodically throughout the book were letters written from Anastasia to members of her family. I loved getting her perspective on things, and they were one of the most interesting parts about the book, but the font was so difficult to read, which really disappointed me. They added so much of the mystery into the plot, giving us information only she would know, but it took me twenty minutes to read three pages because the font was just too hard to read.

For the most part, it was really well done, and I don't see why so many people have given it the thumbs down. Even the historical bits are not boring, and it sums things up nicely so you don't have to have an extensive knowledge of the Bolsheviks or Russia or anything that happened really during that time period. There's not much more to say about it other than that I would recommend it, it's a great book that's worth your time. Not perfect, but I still really liked it, and I'm excited to see how everything pans out in the second novel, Haunted.

Don't forget to check out my first author interview EVER with Joy Preble, author of above mentioned book! It will be coming soon! Keep watching!!