Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Monthly Picks

Favorite Book:

Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier
I really enjoyed this one with its science fiction flair and a main character who is adorable.  I'm anxious for the next book to come out in the U.S.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann

In Quill, people are divided at the age of 13 into three categories, Wanteds, Necessaries, and Unwanteds.  The Wanteds are sent to university and get the higher level jobs, the Necessaries do the menial labor and the Unwanteds are sent to their death.  But all is not what it seems because at the Death Farm, there is a magical world, Artimé, behind the gates that takes in the Unwanteds and grows their artistic talents (the reason they are Unwanted in the first place).  Alex is an Unwanted with a drawing ability while his twin brother, Aaron, is deem Wanted.  The two brothers are very different and that might cause the biggest problems of all between Quill and Artimé.

I really did feel sorry for Alex and all the other Unwanteds.  Sentenced to die for having creative ideas is terrible.  But the High Priest is determined to keep everyone under her control and forward-thinkers would challenge that so out they go.  But luckily for them Mr. Today, the so-called "Death Farmer," has created a magical parallel universe hidden from Quill to save the Unwanteds and not only foster their artistic abilities but to teach them magic based on their abilities.  So the drawing students learn to paint themselves invisible and use clay to bind people and many other pretty awesome things. The Unwanteds thrive in this world.  But they must say hidden from the land of Quill otherwise the consequences would be dire. It's a pretty neat concept and I liked the magic involved as well as the characterization of Alex and his Wanted twin, Aaron.

I was expecting more older middle grade but this was read younger middle grade to me.  The story was very simple and everyone was fairly straightforward.  Nobody really had gray areas in their personality.  But it was cute and I enjoyed it.  The cover says The Hunger Games meets Harry Potter and that is far from the truth, having neither the grittiness of The Hunger Games nor the world-building of Harry Potter.  It is still charming though.  If I compared it to anything it might be Diana Wynne Jone's Chrestomanci series but it still lacks that intangible quality that makes those books great.  What I'm getting at is that it is cute and fun and provides a largely one-sided view of creativity and that it is worth reading, but it lacks that something that makes a book a classic.  Children will enjoy it, some adults will enjoy it as well.  I would recommend it, just don't go looking for greatness.

Provided by the publisher
Publisher: Aladdin (Simon and Schuster)
Publish date: 8/30/11
ISBN: 9781442407688

Monday, August 29, 2011

Weekly Round-Up 8/29

Weekly Round-Up is my wrap-up of last week's activities and includes what I'm reading this week, reviews I've posted, books in the mail and anything else of interest plus From the Library, my weekly listing of what I've checked out from the library.
This week I'm reading Huntress (Lo) and Ashes (Bick) and I'm listening to Paranormalcy (White). After I finish that I'll start In the Wake of the Lorelei Lee (Meyer).

Last week I read The Unwanteds (McMann).
Other reviews posted: Fury (Miles)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Vintage Nancy Drew books!

My friend got me these early 1950's Nancy Drews at a library booksale.  How awesome is that! They are pretty neat and in good condition.   They all have the blue tweed board covers and some pretty illustrations.  The end papers are nice too, most are the blue "Digger" endpapers, except for one which is the blue silhouette endpaper.  I'm going to have to read them soon! Aren't they pretty?

Top left: The Mystery at the Ski Jump
Top right: The Mystery at Lilac Inn
Bottom left: Nancy's Mysterious Letter
Bottom right: The Secret at Shadow Ranch

Blue Digger end paper for Nancy's Mysterious Letter

Frontispiece for Nancy's Mysterious Letter

Blue Silhouette endpaper for The Mystery at the Ski Jump
Frontispiece for The Mystery at the Ski Jump

Friday, August 26, 2011

Fury (Fury #1) by Elizabeth Miles

Emily and Chase have each done something bad.  Em hooked up with her best friend's boyfriend while Chase's idea of revenge got a little out of hand.  When three beautiful and mysterious girls turn up in their town and begin manipulating Em and Chase, they are in real trouble.  Sometimes sorry isn't enough and someone has to pay.

Jeez, this was a creepy story.  There was one part I read right before going to bed and I regretted it.  It reminded me of Final Destination in a way.  Because in those movies if you escape death it will come for you until it gets you.  The Furies' determination to make Emily and Chase pay is relentless.  And the thing is that both Emily and Chase did something that was terrible but I don't think it was quite up to what happened to them.  Maybe it was and I just felt sorry for them.  I don't know.  This was a riveting book and I almost couldn't put it down.  The writing wasn't as polished as some of the books I've read lately but the story was good and made up for some of the clunkier writing.  It is apparently a trilogy so it will be interesting to see where Miles takes the rest of the story.

From the publisher for review
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publish date:  8/30/11
ISBN: 9781442422247

Monday, August 22, 2011

Weekly Round-Up 8/22

Weekly Round-Up is my wrap-up of last week's activities and includes what I'm reading this week, reviews I've posted, books in the mail and anything else of interest plus From the Library, my weekly listing of what I've checked out from the library.
This week I'm reading The Unwanteds (McMann) and something else that has not been determined yet.  I'm listening to Paranormalcy (White).

Last week I read Darkness Becomes Her (Keaton).
Other reviews posted: Rapture of the Deep (Meyer)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Darkness Becomes Her by Kelly Keaton

When Ari goes searching for her mother it leads her to New 2, the city formally known as New Orleans, now a washed out shadow of itself after two hurricanes devastated the area.  There she finds all manner of people and she begins to learn about the curse that has taken the life of her mother and so many before her.
I'd just killed a man - my fingers flexed on the hilt of the blade - with a goddamn miniature sword.
Family time with the Sandersons never covered this.  p.22
The good: New Orleans, baby!  It was fun reading a book and knowing all the places the author was describing.  From Covington and Mandeville (where my in-laws live) to the drive across the Causeway to the Garden District and the French Quarter, I know it all and I love it in a book.  Especially a book about New Orleans basically existing outside of the United States and being truly its own place. The atmosphere was just right for a book about paranormal creatures because what better place than New Orleans.  Ari is a pretty kickass character though she jumps to conclusions too quickly and is always ready to just leave when she doesn't like how things are going.  Sebastian too is pretty awesome and definitely a worthy boy for Ari.  I think Violet, a mysterious little girl, might be my favorite character.  Something about her intrigues me.

The bad: My problem with this book is that it reads like an adult writer writing a young adult book.  While I'm not opposed to language in a book (I rarely mention it in a review) this cursing felt forced in places.  Some of the characters who used curse words just seemed wrong saying them.  It was odd.  And I felt like it pulled me out of the book and made me contemplate whether or not such a character would really say that. I also felt like the author just threw every supernatural or paranormal creature at the book hoping something would stick. I was initially disappointed by the reveal of the main antagonist and who Ari turns out to be.  It just felt random.  But I can see it working too so maybe I withhold judgement on that point.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Rapture of the Deep: Being an Account of the Further Adventures of Jacky Faber, Soldier, Sailor, Mermaid, Spy by L.A, Meyer

Mere hours from marrying her beloved Jaimy,  Jacky is taken by British Intelligence and given a mission to dive for sunken treasure off of the Florida Keys. 

Jacky is sent a mission looking for sunken Spanish gold and she runs into a whole lot of trouble along the way (of course).  Between a serious a** of a Spanish lieutenant and an old pirate friend, Jacky has her work cut out for her.  I really hated Lieutenant Cisnero.  He was so horrible to Jacky and with very little provocation.  I was glad to see a good-looking guy who was hateful remain that way though.  Very often with Jacky, she makes all these guys fall in love with her and do her bidding.  So it was nice to see her charms next work quite right.  Though what is up with every guy she meets wanting to have sex with her?  Seriously.  I mean, she is suppose to be pretty but I can't really believe that.  And why is she almost raped in almost every book?  Maybe it is suppose to be a reflection of the time period and the situations she is in.  I'm not sure, but it's getting a little old.  As is the fact that she has become the "everything but girl" and is still holding out to give her virginity to Jaimy.  I mean good for her but they need to get in on at some point or another.  I know that sounds terrible, but she is always making out and doing other stuff with other guys and poor Jaimy is held to different moral code or something.  

12 hours, 19 minutes

At the end of this book there was a discussion between author L.A. Meyer and narrator Katharine Kellgren that was very interesting.. It was cool to hear about both the writing process and how Kellgren prepares for a Bloody Jack book.  I also like hearing how the audio books effected the writing process.  And also Meyer mentions that the last book has been written so it was a relief to know that there was going to be an ending at some point.  Not that I want it to end soon, but it was nice to hear.

Bloody Jack
Whisper in my Ear

Monday, August 15, 2011

Weekly Round-Up 8/15

Weekly Round-Up is my wrap-up of last week's activities and includes what I'm reading this week, reviews I've posted, books in the mail and anything else of interest plus From the Library, my weekly listing of what I've checked out from the library.
This week I'm reading Darkness Becomes Her (Keaton) and The Unwanteds (McMann).  Sorry that I've been mostly absent from the blog lately.  My head is not in a reading space right now.

Last week I read Ruby Red (Gier) and Fury (Miles) and finished Rapture of the Deep (Meyer) on audio.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier

The time travel gene runs in Gwyneth's family and is supposedly going to affect her cousin, Charlotte.  But Gwen is the one who begins spontaneously traveling in time.  Paired up with Gideon, Gwen is introduced into the mysteries of the society who takes control of the time travels.  The two of them are sent on a simple mission that soon turns dangerous. 
I hated myself for admiring how cool she was right now.  To me, the idea of suddenly landing in the past was totally terrifying.  p.19
I love time travel and so this book was right up my alley.  The idea of a person being able to time travel on their own is pretty awesome.  Gwyneth is not expected to be the time travel in the family because of a deception on her mother's part so she is unprepared when it happens to her.  I think her reactions are pretty spot-on for having no idea what to do when she lands in a different time period.  Gwen is a pretty cool girl and I was cheering for her from the beginning.  I didn't like how most of the adults and her cousin treated her and, even though Gideon is the love interest, he rubbed me wrong at first too.  But Gwen actually has some backbone and does her best in every situation.  I was really hoping that the other two books had been translated from German into English already but the next book, Sapphire Blue, doesn't come out till the spring of next year.  Sadness.  I can't wait to read more about Gwen and Gideon and their mission and see if Gwen will finally tell everyone how she can see ghosts.  Love this book doubly since it reminded me (for some reason) of Connie Willis' To Say Nothing of the Dog, one of my favorite time travel books. 

Sent by the publisher for review
Publisher:  Henry Holt and Co
Publish date: 5/10/11
ISBN: 9780805092523

Monday, August 8, 2011

Weekly Round-Up 8/8

Weekly Round-Up is my wrap-up of last week's activities and includes what I'm reading this week, reviews I've posted, books in the mail and anything else of interest plus From the Library, my weekly listing of what I've checked out from the library.
This week I'm reading Ruby Red (Gier), Darkness Becomes Her (Keaton) and Fury (Miles) and listening to Rapture of the Deep (Meyer).

Last week I read Overbite (Cabot) and A Long, Long Sleep (Sheehan).

From NetGalley
Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publish date: 2/14/2011
Senior year is over, and Lucy has the perfect way to celebrate: tonight, she's going to find Shadow, the mysterious graffiti artist whose work appears all over the city. He's out there somewhere—spraying color, spraying birds and blue sky on the night—and Lucy knows a guy who paints like Shadow is someone she could fall for. Really fall for. Instead, Lucy's stuck at a party with Ed, the guy she's managed to avoid since the most awkward date of her life. But when Ed tells her he knows where to find Shadow, they're suddenly on an all-night search around the city. And what Lucy can't see is the one thing that's right before her eyes.

Friday, August 5, 2011

A Long Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan

Rosalinda Fitzroy is woken from a sixty-two year chemically induced sleep by a kiss.  Confused by her long stasis and grieving for her lost time and her long dead parents and boyfriend, Rose begins to confront the reason she was put in stasis in the first place and deal with a new threat in her current time.

I really loved this book.  It surprised me because I figured it to be some sort of science fiction Sleeping Beauty (which is was) but it was took the story and molded into something beyond the fairy tale. It became less of just a Sleeping Beauty retell and more of a story of abuse and lost love.  I was glad that there was no real romantic storyline other than the one in Rose's past because it would have felt more artificial.  When Rose develops a crush on, Bren, the boy woke her up, I was worried since it seemed less like her feelings and more like a contrivance, but that is cleared up eventually.  The "realest" relationship would be Rose's friendship with the odd alien-human hybrid, Otto.  That was a relationship that was enjoyable to watch progress. Overall, it was easy to see where the story was going, except for two details revealed at the end that I wasn't expecting at all.  It was nice to be surprised.  One of my few complaints was how heavy handed the Sleeping Beauty or Briar Rose comparisons felt at times.  The story had all the earmarks of that fairytale without it being forcibly shoved into the story.  My only other complaint was an unresolved storyline that would be good for a follow-up book.  I certainly hope it gets written since I am curious about what happens to Rose next.

Provided by NetGalley 
Publish date: August 9, 2011
Publisher: Candlewick
ISBN: 9780763652609

350 Page

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Overbite (Insatiable #2) by Meg Cabot

Meena Harper is now working for the super secret Palatine Guard using her psychic abilities to keep its employees safe.  But when her ex-boyfriend, the prince of darkness and vampire king, Lucien reappears, she knows her life is about to get crazy again.  Something is going on in New York and within the Palatine Guard itself and Meena is right in the middle of the whole thing ... again.
And true, their relationship had gone from amazing to unmitigated disaster in record time because he'd kept biting her.  And then the members of his family kept trying to do the same.  And now vampires all over the world seemed to think of Meena's blood as a refreshing pick-me-up, like Dr. Pepper.  p.30
Another fun book from Meg Cabot and I'm guessing the last book in this series which is fine.  Meena is not very good at keeping in control of her life and she seems to attract the Alpha Male types, like Lucien and Alaric, neither of whom I liked very much.  Both of them rankled my nerves and I have a hard time believing someone as generous and kind as Meena would ever really love either of them.  But I am obviously wrong and, also, not the writer of these characters, because for some reason she does love them both.  So there is the kinda sorta love triangle, only not really because Lucien is a giant ass through the whole book and even Meena had to recognize this at some point.

I thought the mystery of who was turning everyone Meena knows into vampires was very good.  The perpetrator was a little obvious, but it still worked as far as mysteries goes. The book moved at a pretty good clip so there wasn't a lot of down time and Meena and her crew  have to work very fast to figure things out.  There were some funny moments as per any Meg Cabot book and I love Meena's brother who provides the most comedic relief.  The POV switched around so the reader gets a little bit of each person and the story unravels in a more whole manner.  It was a cute and funny story and definitely not the standard vampire story going around these days.  It's more old school than new school and I don't mind that at all. 

Monday, August 1, 2011

Weekly Round-Up 8/1

Weekly Round-Up is my wrap-up of last week's activities and includes what I'm reading this week, reviews I've posted, books in the mail and anything else of interest plus From the Library, my weekly listing of what I've checked out from the library.
This week I'm reading Overbite (Cabot) and listening to Rapture of the Deep (Meyer).

Last week I finished Smokin' Seventeen (Evanovich), Matched (Condie). I finished My Bonny Light Horseman (Meyer) on audio.

From Audible: 
Rapture of the Deep: Being an Account of the Further Adventures of Jacky Faber, Soldier, Sailor, Mermaid, Spy by L.A, Meyer, read by Katharine Kellgren
On the very day that Jacky Faber is to wed her true love, she is kidnapped by British Naval Intelligence and forced to embark on yet another daring mission—this time to search for sunken Spanish gold. But when Jacky is involved, things don't always go as planned.

Jacky has survived battles on the high seas, the stifling propriety of a Boston finishing school, and even confinement in a dank French prison. But no adventure has quite matched her opportunistic street-urchin desires—until now

Overbite by Meg Cabot
Meena Harper has a special gift, but it's only now that anyone's ever appreciated it. The Palatine Guard — a powerful secret demon-hunting unit of the Vatican — has hired her to work at their new branch in Lower Manhattan. With Meena's ability to predict how everyone she meets will die, the Palatine finally has a chance against the undead.

Sure, her ex-boyfriend was Lucien Antonescu, son of Dracula, the prince of darkness. But that was before he (and their relationship) went up in flames. Now Meena's sworn off vampires for good ... at least until she can prove her theory that just because they've lost their souls doesn't mean demons have lost the ability to love.

Meena knows convincing her co-workers — including her partner, über-demon-hunter Alaric Wulf — that vampires can be redeemed won't be easy ... especially when a deadly new threat seems to be endangering not just lives of the Palatine, but Meena's friends and family as well.

But Meena isn't the Palatine's only hope. Father Henrique — aka Padre Caliente — New York City's youngest, most charming priest, has also been assigned to the case.

So why doesn't Meena — or Alaric — trust him?

As she begins unraveling the truth, Meena finds her loyalties tested, her true feelings laid bare ... and temptations she never even imagined existed, but finds impossible to resist.

This time, Meena may finally have bitten off more than she can chew
Pathfinder by Orson Scott Card
Only his father knew that Rigg possessed the power to see deep down the paths of people's pasts. But it was only after his father died that Rigg discovers that he has another special gift: the power to change the past. Unfortunately, with that knowledge, all certainty and safety began to melt away. Thinking of it as a coming-of-age novel at triple speed.