Archive | December, 2011

Nightspell by Leah Cypress

24 Dec

Nightspell

Author: Leah Cypress

Pages [hardcover]: 326

Companion to:
Mistwood

Favorite Characters:
Kestin & Callie

Summary:

A stand-alone companion novel to the much-acclaimed MISTWOOD. When Darri rides into Ghostland, a country where the living walk with the dead, she has only one goal: to rescue her younger sister Callie, who was sent to Ghostland as a hostage four years ago. But Callie has changed in those four years, and now has secrets of her own. In her quest to save her sister from herself, Darri will be forced to outmaneuver a handsome ghost prince, an ancient sorcerer, and a manipulative tribal warrior (who happens to be her brother). When Darri discovers the source of the spell that has kept the dead in Ghostland chained to this earth, she faces a decision that will force her to reexamine beliefs she has never before questioned – and lead her into the heart of a conspiracy that threatens the very balance of power between the living and the dead.

Review:

I was so incredibly excited to read this book, after loving Mistwood to pieces. However, this companion really fell short . . . And I’m not entirely sure I’d have read it through to the end, if it hadn’t been for my feelings toward the other book.

The characters of Nightspell are varied, though most are royalty and all are flat. I never seemed to care whether or not most of them were in danger or perfectly safe, because some-for example, Dari’s brother, Varis-were detestable to me, and never redeemed themselves. I assumed that at some point he would grow into a better person, perhaps recognize what was wrong about his beliefs, but this never happened. I think that coming from my own experience, I was finding it unbelieveable that someone could care so little about whatever terrible fate their siblings fell to. I was hoping he’d at least get what he deserved.

And the ending barely resolved anything for me. The major conflict, which I was actually drawn into near the end, was never fully solved, just left as it was. Some sort of resolution was hinted at, and though sometimes I enjoy books that don’t spell out everything that will happen after the action takes place, this just didn’t do it for me. Some who were evil were never dealt with. Some of the problems they simply walked away from.

I did like the setting which was carefully constructed, so I have to acknowledge that. But most of the plot twists were easily seen before they happened, so there was little impact there, just a confirmation of my intuition.

I find it hard to see that these two books were written by the same author, let alone being set as companions for one another. I can’t tell if my expectations were too high, or my tastes have changed since February, when I read Mistwood, but I know that I’m not entirely at fault. So I can say I will probably not be reading more by this author.

DISAPPOINTINGLY DULL. 2.5/5 stars

Perfect by Ellen Hopkins

24 Dec

Perfect

Author: Ellen Hopkins

Pages [hardcover]: 622

Memorable Quote:
Love

Is
a curious thing. Sometimes
it barrels into you, leaves you
breathless.

Favorite Characters: Andre &  Cara

Summary:

Everyone has something, someone, somewhere else that they’d rather be. For four high-school seniors, their goals of perfection are just as different as the paths they take to get there.

Cara’s parents’ unrealistic expectations have already sent her twin brother Conner spiraling toward suicide. For her, perfect means rejecting their ideals to take a chance on a new kind of love. Kendra covets the perfect face and body—no matter what surgeries and drugs she needs to get there. To score his perfect home run—on the field and off—Sean will sacrifice more than he can ever win back. And Andre realizes that to follow his heart and achieve his perfect performance, he’ll be living a life his ancestors would never have understood.

Everyone wants to be perfect, but when perfection loses its meaning, how far will you go? What would you give up to be perfect?

A riveting and startling companion to the bestselling Impulse, Ellen Hopkins’s Perfect exposes the harsh truths about what it takes to grow up and grow into our own skins, our own selves.

Review:

I’ve read one other novel by Ellen Hopkins-Tricks-and I’ve already decided she’s a fabulous author, and I’ll probably read anything she comes up with, for the rest of my life. She certainly had a way with characters, making them completely deplorable and detestable one moment and worthy of redemption and respect the next. This feat, not easily pulled off, is only accentuated by the wonderful verse writing that lets the emotions drip off of the page, and the characters feel as if they’re right in the room. Telling me their own story, through their own words.

Everything is incredibly heartrending, breathtaking, and just real. I love authors who hold nothing back-however much of a risk they may be taking-and decide to show (because this and others like it are young adult books) teens that although their problems may not be as pressing as Cara’s or Andre’s or Sean’s, they’re not alone in their addictions or disorders, or whatever they might be struggling with. Everyone has to know (however vaguely) someone whose life has fallen to pieces because they couldn’t figure it out themselves, or had no one to help them along the way. And that’s why I think everyone should give these books a chance, however much they think they won’t enjoy them, because you’ll come out of it with a new perspective on . . . everything.

I can’t wait to read more by Ellen Hopkins. I have a feeling this is an author I’ll be following for a long time. I was actually wary of starting in on her books, because I assumed they were nothing but bland poetry, but you know what they say about assumptions . . . And I was completely proven wrong. Everything seems much clearer, and easier to picture, through her style of writing. And it’s completely perfect.

POETIC BRILLIANCE. 5/5 stars

Every Which Way But Dead by Kim Harrison

22 Dec

 

Every Which Way But Dead

Author: Kim Harrison

Pages [paperback]: 501

The Hollows #3
Book 1: Dead Witch Walking
Book 2: The Good, the Bad, and the Undead

Memorable Quote:
Join us next time for Days of the Undead when Rachel learns her long lost brother is really a crown prince from outer space.

Favorite Characters: Jenks & Ceri

Summary:

There’s no witch in Cincinnati tougher, sexier, or more screwed up than bounty hunter Rachel Morgan, who’s already put her love life and soul in dire jeopardy through her determined efforts to bring criminal night creatures to justice.

Between “runs,” she has her hands full fending off the attentions of her blood-drinking partner, keeping a deadly secret from her backup, and resisting a hot new vamp suitor.

Rachel must also take a stand in the war that’s raging in the city’s underworld, since she helped put away its former vampire kingpin–and made a deal with a powerful demon to do so that could cost her an eternity of pain, torment, and degradation.

And now her dark “master” is coming to collect his due.

Review:

I’ve quickly fallen in love with the Hollows series, and am already trying to get my hands on book four. Every Which Way But Dead picks up a few months after book two ended, with Rachel stuck as a demon’s familiar and a new, powerful threat in town ready to take over while Piscary’s in jail.

A few new characters were introduced in this book, both allies and enemies, and they were all as equally brilliant as the returning faces I was happy to see. And, a few people who mildly annoyed me from before had the good sense to stay out of the plot, making it even better. I finished the book in a few days, because each chapter flowed seamlessly into the next, and kept me rooting for Rachel and wanting to know where the plot would twist next. Because everything I didn’t expect seemed to happen.

I like it when a book can take me by surprise, still make sense, and really stick with me. Some books I read, the characters’ names slip out of my head as soon as I set it down. Not so for this series, and I don’t see it happening anytime soon. I don’t want to anticipate too much and disappoint myself, but I think I’ll definitely read these books through to the end. Which I hope is a long time coming.

SUPERNATURALLY THRILLING. 5/5 stars

My Beating Teenage Heart by C. K. Kelly Martin

19 Dec

My Beating Teenage Heart

Author: C.K. Kelly Martin

Pages [hardcover]: 288

favorite characters: Ashylyn & Breckon

summary:

Ashlyn Baptiste is falling. One moment she was nothing—no memories, no self—and then suddenly, she’s plummeting through a sea of stars. Is she in a coma? She doesn’t remember dying, and she has no memories of the life she left behind. All she knows is that she’s trapped in a consciousness without a body and she’s spending every moment watching a stranger.

Breckon Cody’s on the edge. He’s being ripped apart by grief so intense it literally hurts to breathe. On the surface, Breckon is trying to hold it together for his family and his girlfriend, but underneath he’s barely hanging on.

Even though she didn’t know him in life, Ashlyn sees Breckon’s pain, and she’s determined to find a way help him. As her own distressing memories emerge from the darkness, she struggles to communicate with the boy who can’t see her, but whose life is suddenly intertwined with hers. In alternating voices of the main characters, My Beating Teenage Heart paints a devastatingly vivid picture of both the heartbreak and the promise of teenage life—a life Ashlyn would do anything to recover and Breckon seems desperate to destroy—and will appeal to fans of Sarah Dessen, John Green, and David Levithan.

review:

I loved this book from start to finish, and really wasn’t ready to let it go. The plot is simple enough that without great writing and characterization, it wouldn’t have been the story it is. Yet C. K. Kelly Martin did a wonderful job creating Breckon’s world and showcasing it through his and Ashlyn’s alternating viewpoints.

The story starts off with Ashlyn not knowing anything of her past, so we learn about her as she begins to recover her memories. As she isn’t entirely certain about where she is or why the only person she can follow around is Breckon-while she can’t seem to find her own family-mystery surrounds the pair until the last few chapters, when all is revealed. I found myself eagerly anticipating the end, wanting to know what all of the buildup was about. It definitely doesn’t disappoint, though it is unexpected.

This novel is great, and I highly recommend it. I flew through the pages and finished it in record time. The writing is simple and flows nicely, the style something I definitely like. I definitely need to read more by this author!

UNBELIEVABLY BRILLIANT. 5/5 stars

SLEEPERS by Megg Jensen – COVER REVEAL

19 Dec

While I’ve yet to read SLEEPERS by Megg Jensen-it’s currently tempting me from my TBR pile (well, the ebook one)-I’ve heard nothing but good things about it.
And now, I’m lucky enough to be part of the new cover reveal! Sleepers is being re-launched in January under this fabulous new cover. And, without further ado, here it is:

Gorgeous, right? And here’s a summary:

An adoptee raised in a foreign land, sixteen-year-old Lianne was content with her life as handmaiden to the queen, until a spell cast on her at birth activated. Now she’s filled with uncontrollable rage and access to magic she thought had been bled from her people years ago. Even her years of secret training in elite hand-to-hand combat and meditation can’t calm the fires raging inside her.
Her heart is torn between two boys, the one she’s always loved and the one who always ignored her. But when the kingdom threatens to tear itself apart due to rumors surrounding the queen’s alleged affair, who will Lianne protect and who will she destroy?

Interested? It’s on sale now for only 99 cents! Can you get a price better than that?

Find out more about Megg Jensen right here.
And where to buy the book, over here.

Read the book? Have a review? Post a link to it in the comments. I’d love to have a look at it.

Ashfall by Mike Mullin

18 Dec

Ashfall

Author: Mike Mullin

Pages [hardcover]: 466

Ashfall Book 1

Memorable Quote: Maybe we were ghosts of a sort, spirits from the world that had died when the volcano erupted.

Favorite Characters: Alex & Darla

Summary:

Under the bubbling hot springs and geysers of Yellowstone National Park is a supervolcano. Most people don’t know it’s there. The caldera is so large that it can only be seen from a plane or satellite. It just could be overdue for an eruption, which would change the landscape and climate of our planet.

Ashfall is the story of Alex, a teenage boy left alone for the weekend while his parents visit relatives. When the Yellowstone supervolcano erupts unexpectedly, Alex is determined to reach his parents. He must travel over a hundred miles in a landscape transformed by a foot of ash and the destruction of every modern convenience that he has ever known, and through a new world in which disaster has brought out both the best and worst in people desperate for food, water, and warmth. With a combination of nonstop action, a little romance, and very real science, this is a story that is difficult to stop reading and even more difficult to forget.

Review:

I’ve heard a lot about this book, and so I was definitely excited to read it. I’ve also read that it’s a great book for boys-and while, that didn’t turn me away from it, I can definitely see why some who are struggling to find ‘guy’ young adult books would recommend this one. Filled with action, suspense, and a bit of romance, this day by day account of survival in the apocalyptic world left about the explosion of the volcano at Yellowstone is a book you’ll never want to put down.

It can get tiresome, reading a book with so many plot twists you barely have time to catch a breath. But I also love books like this for that very same reason; so addictive they keep me reading late into the night . . . And choosing to read over studying. Not knowing what was going to happen next, just like Alex didn’t know, really put me into the moment, and it was easy to relate to his reactions.

With his karate (okay . . . taekwondo) moves and survival skills, Alex was definitely a force to reckon with. Add in Darla-who can fend for herself and has no problem letting Alex know this-and there’s a pair of awesome main characters. Even if things are told from Alex’s  point of view, Darla’s character-as well as that of the various minor characters scattered throughout the book-easily shines through. I really think the author, Mike Mullin, has talent with this, and I can’t read to read more by him.

Including the sequel. Ashen Winter is set to release in 2012, and I’ll definitely be reading it to continue Alex’s story.

A CAPTIVATING STORY OF SURVIVAL. 5/5 stars

Can You Survive: Sherlock Holmes by Ryan Jacobsen

15 Dec

Can You Survive: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

Author: Ryan Jacobson

Pages [paperback]: 152

Summary:

He’s the world’s most famous detective, and thanks to this brilliantly adapted book, he’s you! The cases, the clues, the suspects, they’re yours to sort through in this exciting Choose Your Path book. You are Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. You make the choices. But be careful; the wrong decision could lead to your doom.

Review:

I’ve loved ‘Choose Your Adventure’ books even since I could understand what they were, though unfortunately they don’t make as many as I’d like. And I haven’t read one in years, as they’re mainly geared toward elementary school kids. But this Sherlock Holmes edition is one I think can be enjoyed by a variety of ages, because while the wording is simple enough to be understood by children, the themes and stories can be appreciated by teens and adults as well.

I breezed  through this book, finishing the entire thing in just over an hour. I loved being able to go back again and again to choose different paths for myself, because I seem to have a knack for making exactly the wrong decisions. Maybe I wouldn’t be such a great detective after all.

What I love about this is that you’re actually Sherlock Holmes, because the book is written in second person. That means ‘you’ are being addressed, so you’re also given responsibility for your life. (And Watson’s, sometimes. I have to apologize because I ended up killing him, more than once.)

It’s simple good fun. Nothing deep or dragging about it, which I actually liked. And the three stories involved are actually based off Sherlock Holmes tales. So if you need to get someone to start reading classic literature, this is one way to start them on it.

MYSTERIOUSLY CAPTIVATING. 4/5 stars

A Matter of Perception by Tahlia Newland

14 Dec

A Matter of Perception

Author: Tahlia Newland

Pages [ebook]: 78

Favorite Stories: The Bone Yard & Not me, it can’t be 

Summary:

What is real and what is not? Take modern gods, alien monsters, ghosts in the service of sirens, a battle of magical light, a mysterious hole in the pavement, a dream of a future past and a pair of rose-coloured glasses, mix them with a little romance and a smidgen of philosophy and you might be left wondering if it isn’t all just a matter of perception.

This thought-provoking collection of urban fantasy and magical realism stories includes ‘The Drorgon Slayer’s Choice’ and ‘The Boneyard’, a semi finalist in the Aussiecon 4 Make Ready fantasy/scfi competition of 2010

Review:

This collection of short stories is a very quick, easy, and fun read. Each story has a unique, overall message, and though some dwell more in urban fiction and fantasy than others, all have an otherwordly aspect to them that I really enjoyed.

I love it when I read a collection like this and the stories aren’t so similar that I automatically get confused. Which happens more often than you would think. I think the order they were in helped the flow stay continuous and smooth, and I was able to keep everything distinct. And yet, my favorite stories are from opposite ends of the collection.

While making the stories longer would have definitely given the chance to flesh the characters out a bit more, their personalities still managed to shine through, and when paired with an addictively interesting plot, the length no longer mattered as much. Except when I didn’t want it to end. That was a problem. xD

I really recommend this collection by Tahlia Newland, to both regular fans of stories like these and ones who usually don’t go for it. If you’re searching for a way to ease into the genre, pick A Matter of Perception. If not…pick it anyway.

ADDICTIVELY AMAZING. 4.5/5 stars

Shift by Jeri Smith-Ready

11 Dec

Shift

Author: Jeri Smith-Ready

Pages [hardcover]: 367

Shade #2
Book 1: Shade

Favorite Characters: Dylan & Zachary

Summary:

Aura’s life is anything but easy. Her boyfriend, Logan, died, and his slides between ghost and shade have left her reeling. Aura knows he needs her now more than ever. She loves Logan, but she can’t deny her connection with the totally supportive, totally gorgeous Zachary. And she’s not sure that she wants to.

Logan and Zachary will fight to be the one by her side, but Aura needs them both to uncover the mystery of her past—the mystery of the Shift.

As Aura’s search uncovers new truths, she must decide whom to trust with her secrets…and her heart.

Review:

I was so excited to read this sequel to Shade! The first book was wonderful, and I think I put off reading this for so long because I knew the third and final book in the trilogy wouldn’t be coming out for a while (and past-me was right: It won’t be released until summer 2012. Can I wait that long? No.) Now that I’ve finally gotten around to reading it, I think I may have built up my expectations far too much.

Shift gave me everything I could have wanted-romance, ghosts, running from law enforcement. Yet I expected to have the actual plot, the full mystery of the Shift, furthered much more than happened, instead of the book’s main focus being on the love triangle. Sure, it is an important part of the book, and I can’t say I disliked every aspect of it. But when Aura is supposed to be facing life or death situations, and figuring out her past and future, she’s busy moping because either Logan or Zachary is angry with her. And both boys ended up annoying me at different parts of the novel, something that neither really redeemed themselves from, so that wasn’t helpful, either.

But, other than that, there were really great scenes in there that captured my interest, and other points that hooked my curiosity and dragged me in for good. Now that I can assume that all of the parts that had me doubting whether I would actually enjoy the novel or not were probably solved before the third book, I’m doubly excited to read it. I desperately need to know what is going to happen!

I recommend this book if you like a good paranormal romance, but if you’d like more action and ghosts than love and gushy parts, it’s probably not for you.

DISAPPOINTING BUT WORTHWHILE. 3.5/5 stars

November 2011 Wrap Up!

9 Dec

Better late than never! Here’s what I read in November:

Dead Witch Walking – Kim Harrison

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children-Ransom Riggs
The Sound and the Fury-William Faulkner
Happy Birthday to Me Again-Brian Rowe
The Lightning Thief Graphic Novel-Rick Riordan
Atonement-Ian McEwan
The Good, the Bad, and the Undead-Kim Harrison
The Death Cure-James Dashner

Books I purchased: 0
Won in Contest: 0
Borrowed from friend: 6
Checked out from library: 1
Review books: 1
Pages read: 2678

Challenge Status:

Show Me the Free: 2/12
2011 Debut Author Challenge: 1/12
Edgar Awards Reading Challenge: 1/5
2011 Book Blogger Recommendation Challenge: 11/15
Retold Fairy Tales: 9/6
Nicholas Sparks Reading Challenge: 2/4

This month was great! With Thanksgiving, and all of the build-up toward Christmas, this month flew on by. And while I’m excited for December, I’m sad to see it go. How was your November?

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