Thursday, December 30, 2010

Out for Blood ~ Alyxandra Harvey review

Out for Blood (Drake Chronicles #3)
Walker Books for Young Readers
December 21, 2010
304 pages
Buy/info at Amazon



Alyxandra Harvey's third Drake Chronicles book, Out for Blood, focuses on different characters than the first two books in the series (as each of them did) but still utilizes characters from those books. The main characters of this book are Hunter Wild, a student at the Helios-Ra school and Quinn, one of the Drake brothers.

Hunter is friends with Kieran Black--one of the more central characters of Hearts at Stake, the first book. Hunter, a model student, is returning for her senior year at the school that trains hunters-vampire killers. It looks like it's going to be a normal year (albeit with some vampire interaction thanks to Kieran and his relationship with the Drakes). That is until things begin happening barely a few days after the students arrive.

The school year hasn't even technically started yet and already students are mysteriously ill and the school looks to be under attack.

Hunter will have to find out who she can trust (and surprisingly that just might include a vampire) in finding out what is happening.


Out for Blood is a real treat. After Hearts at Stake and Blood Feud, I'll admit that I was expecting to enjoy it, but not nearly as much as I did. It was like thinking you're getting a chocolate chip cookie--one that you'd be completely happy with--then getting a hot fudge sundae complete with whipped cream and a cherry on top. I thought I knew what I was getting and would have loved it--but was blown away with what I got instead.

I loved Blood Feud because I love the story that Alyxandra Harvey weaves and the different characters and backgrounds she works in. I loved Hearts at Stake super much because I loved the characters, the humor, the action, and the way everything worked together.

Until now Hearts at Stake was my favorite of the series but now I think Out for Blood has taken the crown. And for one reason: Harvey's writing has reached a whole new level.

The characters in Blood were as great as in Hearts (I didn't like Isabeau and Logan quite as much), the plot was great and it was really nice to see a look inside the world of the Helios-ra, but it was all so fantastic because of the quality of the writing.

Blood was so well, well written that I am now very, very much looking forward to anything (and maybe everything) from Alyxandra Harvey. The writing of this is so fantastic that I know I can enjoy any world she crates--even one without the Drakes and the Helios-Ra and the other characters that I love so much.




10/10

Thank you to Bloomsbury for this book for review.


Giveaway!!
Also, thanks to the publisher, I have one copy to giveaway to one of you lucky readers. I really loved this book so I hope you will enter--and encourage others to do so as well.

Details: Winner must have a US mailing address (no PO Boxes) and be 13 or older. Contest ends January 10, 2011 at noon Eastern.

Fill out the form below to enter--comments won't enter you but they'd be greatly appreciated :)

ENTER HERE


Blood Feud ~ Alyxandra Harvey review

Blood Feud (Drake Chronicles #2)
Walker Books for Young Readers
June 22, 2010
272 pages
Buy/info at Amazon


*(Spoilers for Hearts at Stake (Drake Chronicles #1) be here)*


Solange Drake has gone through the change and is now a vampire. Despite what an ancient prophecy said, she is not Queen, however. Her mother is going to be the new Queen. While Solange couldn't be happier about not being queen--she never wanted it in the first place, she still has to deal with the Montmarte, her very unwanted suitor.

Packages continue to be left at her doorstep and she's still in danger from the overzealous (hopeful) paramours. Blood Feud isn't about (at least not solely) Solange, though. Her brother, Logan, is the main Drake in thus book.


As all of the different vampire clans come together for the new Queen's coronation, Isabeau St Croix is sent for the Hounds, a group of mystical vampires who raise dogs and live in caves.

With Montmarte still hoping to have the crown himself, Isabeau and Logan are soon working together to keep his family safe.

It's not long before both the trouble and their feelings deepen.


In the way that Hearts at Stake was about a bigger, action-y danger but also about some romance of its central characters, Blood Feud is about a threat to really all not-entirely-evil vampires, but also about Logan and Isabeau. Isabeau's life is told through some flashbacks to her life as a human (during--quite literally--the French Revolution) and now as a vampire.

Without giving too much of the story away, I wasn't sure that Isabeau's actions and her timeline quite matched up, however. Sometimes she seemed too well transitioned for how things were said to have happened. I did enjoy the looks back at her French life, however and the Hounds were a really interesting additon to the Drake Chronicles world.

I think I have crushes on all of the Drake brothers, so the fact that I kind of love Logan (not the most, but still quite a bit) shouldn't really come as a surpise.

While this wasn't my favorite of the series, I am glad I read it and it definitely includes crucial plot points that will be a part of/start out the third book.



7.5/10


(no, half numbers are not good--but I can't decide)

Monday, December 27, 2010

Once in a Full Moon ~ Ellen Schreiber

Once in a Full Moon (Full Moon #1)
Katherine Tegen Books
December 28, 2010
288 pages
Buy/info @ Amazon

Ellen Schreiber, the author of The Vampire Kisses series, has a new series starting, this one about werewolves. This, the first in the series, introduces Celeste Parker who lives in Legend's Run, a town with it's very own werewolf legend. A legend no one gets much use out of, save for telling scary stories around camp fires.

Celeste has a great life, big house on the 'right' side of town, two best friends--and they're all dating best friends. But things change when the new boy, Brandon Maddox shows starts school. Celeste finds herself drawn to him, unable to sate her curiosity in the new boy from the wrong side of town.

Throw in more than one close encounter with a pack of wolves, a strange visit to a psychic for fortune telling and a right/wrong side of town school division and things get even more difficult and confusing.


Once in a Full Moon was a very light paranormal romance, werewolf story. There was the story line about about Celeste not being happy with the division in the school among the rich kids and the not rich kids (the Eastsiders and the Westsiders) and kind of trying to do something about it. Then there was the story line about Brandon and who/what he was. Then there was the storyline about the werewolf legend. And then there was the part about Celeste and her friends and their friendship. For me, they didn't all quite work together great nor did any of them really stand out.

It was sort of a popular-girl-trying-to-be-better story meets a werewolf story but one of the two needed to be stronger or more developed for it to really work. It was like the Celeste at school stuff took away from the paranormal side of the story without adding to it.

I do think I will read more of the series, though, to see if Celeste develops into a stronger character (I think she was)--I didn't connect with her much in this book--and because I found the 'legend' interesting.

For the competing story lines and the fact that I didn't connect with the character:

Rating: 6/10


(read via NetGalley)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Entice ~ Carrie Jones review + giveaway

Entice (Need Pixies #3)
Bloomsbury USA Children's Books
December 14, 2010
272 pages
Buy/info @ Amazon

**(Spoilers for Need and Captivate, books 1 & 2, found below)**

It's common knowledge Nick and Zara are meant to be together--too bad pixies aren't common--and neither is Bedford, Maine or it's recent goings on.

And to make matters even more complicated, Nick is dead--or mostly dead--and has been taken to Valhalla, an ancient mythical place for warriors and Zara has turned pixie thanks to Astley's pixie kiss, something she asked for in hopes she'll be able to rescue Nick from Valhalla, somewhere humans can't venture.

There's also the evil group of pixies that's been attacking the town. Not the same group that Zara and co. locked in a house in Need but an evil, evil group doing things like attacking school buses.

Bedford and its residents, the teens especially, are soon in near constant danger. The pixies are drawing more than a little attention to themselves.


Zara has to divide her time and attentions between saving the town from the evil pixies and figuring out how--or even if--she can save Nick from Valhalla.

Nick was absent from a lot of this book, but the strength of the other characters made his absence not a gaping one, just a sad one. I absolutely love Carrie Jones for taking Cassidy and moving her from a character that really kind of peripherally annoyed me before and turned her into character I find pretty adorable.

I also really want Issie to have her own book now--one that somehow involves Buffy and awesomeness.

The imagination Carrie Jones showed in Entice was reminiscent of the brilliant ending to Need. I'm going to be finding the copy of Tips of Having a Gay (ex) Boyfriend I own but never read and start it soon--but I'm also really, really going to be hoping for more fantasy books from Jones because the worlds and situations she can come up with are brilliant.

Oh, how I hope there's going to be more of this series--and soon because I'm not quite ready to leave Zara, Issie or anyone else behind just yet, not to mention the ending was pretty open and left me wanting so much more all on its own.

10/10


Here are some amazing links to check out, too: Need Pixies Facebook which has tons of fun stuff like excerpts, videos, links, giveaways and more; Bloomsbury Youtube; and, of course, the Bloomsbury Teens Facebook.



Contest:

Thanks to Bloomsbury who gave me the ARC of this to review, I also have one copy of Entice to give away. It will be like a late Christmas (or general holiday time/back to school) present to yourself since I will be picking the winner in January (once contacted, the winner has 48 hours to reply or I pick a new one).

Details: Ends January 3, noon eastern
Open to those with a US mailing address that is not a PO Box
1 entry for your name/tallying points; bonus entries for the other stuff;
enter only one time per person
Prize will be shipped by the publisher.
Fill out the form to enter.

H E R E

Captivate ~ Carrie Jones review

Captivate (Need Pixies #2)
Bloomsbury USA
January 5, 2010
288 pages
buy/info @ Amazon

*Review + Giveaway of Entice is coming momentarily*
(Contains spoilers for the first book in the Need Pixies series, Need--my review)

The evil pixies--including Zara's biological father--might be locked up and barricaded in the house in the middle of the woods, but Zara and her friends know this isn't likely to be the end of their pixie troubles.

Of course, they're right, too. Soon a new pixie is in town--Astley. A new king who wants Zara as his own, Astley claims to be one of the good guys, but his arrival brings even more trouble to Zara, Nick and their friends. And to Zara and Nick's relationship.

Once again Zara and Nick are fighting to keep both themselves and their relationship alive.


Like Need, Captivate is a quick read that grabs you from the beginning and pulls you in until the amazing end. This series has, possibly, my favorite cast of characters of any YA series out there; Devyn, Nick, Issie (who has my undying love for her Buffy referencing), and Betty really add to the story and are lovable, quirky, well developed characters that I can't live without.


Things really expand in Captivate --more characters are added, the setting isn't as limited to the school and Zara's house as I remember Need being. It was fun to get more of the pixie world (and it seems there's going to be even more in Entice) while not forgetting about the original characters and their lives.

Captivate does leave you hanging like crazy with its ending, though. Be thankful that Entice is already out and consider buying it whenever you buy Captivate!!

8/10

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Slice of Cherry : Excerpt link

Here's a link to the Simon & Schuster site where the first chapter of Dia Reeves' super-soon-to-be-released book, Slice of Cherry's first chapter is up as an excerpt.

Books : Slice of Cherry : Excerpts

Sorry if you follow me on Twitter and are getting this twice--I'm just really 'yay!!!!' about this :) (And I can use 'yay'-ness this week so I'm getting all I can out of it.)

Waiting on Wednesday

Choker by Elizabeth Woods

I've only seen good reviews of this on Goodreads and I really can't wait until I'm able to read it for myself. (I hope it lives up to all of their great comments!)


it's out January 4, though--same day as Slice of Cherry which I just about have a countdown stopwatch for in my head--so I don't have to wait much longer.

And I'm going with the very vague summary because I love it: "What if the only friend you could trust turned out to be dangerous? A new thriller from debut author Elizabeth Woods!"


Choker another debut author book for me to read, from Simon & Schuster.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Newer Update

So, the whole 'yay, I'm back, ready to figure out the non-charging/plug-in-able computer situation and start writing reviews' plan? Kind of got derailed by yesterday news that one of my dogs is really, really sick.

I'm not where she is right now so we had to hurry to buy ne a plane ticket so I could see her before she dies or has to be put to sleep. Right after Christmas I'll be going there (and crossing everything I have that she's okay for a week-she should be).

So, while my Entice & Out for Blood tour posts will get done, I can't promise how much else will (at least until sometime in the beginning of January-I have quite a few awesome January ARCs to review ;)).

Monday, December 20, 2010

Back(ish)

Back in town after ( a very hectic) more than a week out of town. I should be able to figure out the non-charging computer situation now--or at least borrow someone's computer long enough to schedule some posts! (As much as I l love my phone full posts written on it would drive me crazy!!)

Wish me luck :)

Somehow my schedule (above the posts) will be followed, don't worry.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

My Soul to Take ~ Rachel Vincent review

My Soul to Take (Soul Screamers #1)
Harlequin Teen
August 1, 2009
384 pages
Amazon



While this is the first book in the series, it does take place after the novella, My Soul to Lose so this review will have spoilers for that if you haven't read it yet.

As the book opens, Kaylee and her best friend Emma are sneaking into a club. Everything's going pretty well--even including the slight lecture from Emma's older sister who works at the club and is the reason they got in--until Kaylee sees a girl and feels something building in her throat. Something very much like the scream she let out that day in the mall that got her checked into the hospital's psychiatric ward for a stay.

And all of this just when cute boy Nash appeared, too.

If Kaylee's able to keep herself under control--and find out why exactly it is she feels the need to let out ear splitting screams after seeing certain people who just don't look the way they should, maybe she can actually have a normal life.

Yeah, right.


The first book in Rachel Vincent's YA series (her adult series starts with Stray) is a really fast paced, fresh, and great read. Not only is it about a supernatural being that I haven't read any other book, let alone a YA book or a series on (banshess-or bean sidhes as it's spelled in the book), but Rachel Vincent is a really gifted and talented writer.

Her characters are well developed, her plots well laid out and thought through and while My Soul to Take involves high schoolers and is partially set in a high school I think readers of her adult series could enjoy it, too.

The story develops well from start to finish, pulling bits and pieces from earlier in to help later in the story but leaving enough hanging (plot and character-wise) to make you really, really want to rush out and get the next book. (In fact my review of Book Two, My Soul to Save should be posted pretty soon).

If you've already read the Werecats series from Rachel Vincent or heard great things about it but thought it was too adult for you (it's possible), then definitely, definitely pick up My Soul to Take, I doubt you'll be sorry . . . and if you are, look into that regifting thing that all the 'news' shows are talking about ;)

9/10

Friday, December 10, 2010

Children Make Terrible Pets ~ Peter Brown review

Children Make Terrible Pets
Little Brown Books for Young Readers
September 7, 2010
40 pages
Amazon


Children Make Terrible Pets is a children's book so I can't really write a full review of it (it's not long enough, etc to critique the plot, characters and such), but I do want to say a little bit about it because of how cute it is.

Prior to receiving it in the mail from the publisher, I had actually already wanted to buy this book. Granted I'm someone that still loves animated Disney movies, but the title and the cover made it look like a cute, fun book.

Children Make Terrible Pets is a book for four to eight year olds that was published earlier this fall. In the story a bear, Lucy, finds a young boy and wants to keep him as her pet. At first her mother disagrees, warning Lucy that, "Children make terrible pets." Lucy, however is able to convince her mother that she will take care of the boy--who's appealing to her because he, "Squeaks!" Lucy and the boy have fun--but Lucy also has trouble training the boy to do some things.

With really unique, fun illustrations (the back of the book describes that they're done in pencil, with cut construction paper, some wood and some digital tweaking) and a quirky storyline this tale will appeal--and likely teach something--to the younger children to which it's aimed, but it'll also be entertaining to those reading it to them.

I can see this being a favorite book of parents, older siblings and babysitters who are either the ones in charge of reading the book to younger children or the ones who are also a part of story time.

And with all of the text in big word bubbles, it should be easy for beginning readers to read as well.


If you have a younger reader--or pre-reader--on your holiday list this year, consider this book for sure.


10/10


(Humongous thank you to the publisher for this book!)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Oogy ~ Larry Levin review

Oogy: The Dog Only a Family Could Love
Grand Central Publishing
October 12, 2010
224 pages
Amazon
(aka the review I was writing when my computer's a/c adapter broke-yay for borrowed computers!)


Larry Levin and his twin boys took their dying cat to the vet, never expecting to find a dog to adopt. But they did. They found Oogy, the puppy missing his left ear and his face slightly asymmetrical from dog fighting injuries. They found Oogy--or Oogy, still just a little puppy, found them and something convinced them to take this dog into their home and their life with Oogy and Oogy began.





I received this book expecting it to be about a family whose cat passed away and they unexpectedly rescued a funny looking dog and loved him more than they thought they could. Oogy was so much more of a book than that. Granted I thought I would love it even if it was that because I love dogs and I love books so ergo I usually love books about dogs. I'm glad this book was so much more, however.


Oogy is a book about rescuing/adopting dogs, it's a book about how yes, you'll love that adorable golden retriever puppy, but you can also love that other dog who might look a little goofy or the one who has some scars--or the one who's seven years old and isn't a puppy but has the sweetest eyes.

It's also a book about adopting babies--of the human variety--and the joy that can bring to one's life--and also the great way those babies can view it when they're older. And if you happen to do both, adopt a dog (or cat) and a baby, it's about the bond they can form with each other, knowing they do, in a way, come from the sort of place.

Now, obviously, that's a very simple way to talk about this book, but it's also a very true way. Oogy is a beautiful book because it does talk express all of the things mentioned above but without ever seeming like it's really trying to. It's just Larry Levin telling the story of his and his family's life and their dog Oogy and the rest comes with it.




10/10


(received from GoodReads FirstReads program)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Reviews

Hoping to get reviews resumed (and not just the scheduled ones) soon--my computer's power cord broke this week so I've had very, very limited computer access.

I'm borrowing a computer for a little while now to try to edit a few reviews now and get some scheduled to post. My computer situation should be fixed soon (and someone's visiting that has a charger that works on my computer, too so for a few days that will help!).


Sorry!!

Wanted (PLL) ~ Sara Shepard review

Wanted (Pretty Little Liars #8)
HarperTeen
June 8, 2010
272 pages
Amazon

With a man now arrested and charged with both Ali and **spoiler**'s murders, Spencer, Aria, Emily and Hanna think they might finally be safe. This is Pretty Little Liars, though, and there's still this one last book, so, of course, things can't be that simple.

Things are turned pretty upsdie down when Ali's family calls a press conference and requests the girls attendance. Soon, the girls learn that they might not have been as crazy as they though when they 'saw' Ali after the barn fire.


Filled once again with danger, intrigue and more--and often faster-- twists and turns than a roller coaster, this last installment of the Pretty Little Liars series finally wraps up everything.

Questions asked (and then asked again) over the previous seven books are finally given some answers in Wanted. Not all of the answers are all that logical and most of them are very unexepected--but that's almost to be exepected from this series by now.

I'm not sure if this series got pulled out longer than originally planned but the latter books seem to have been a little more 'out there.' It was nice to have a resolution after eight books, but after so much back and forth, it didn't always feel like the whole story had been building to this resolution.

I did enjoy this book quite a bit more than the seventh one, but not quite as much as the first few. I think it's really worth reading if you've read the rest of the PLL series, though, because it really does resolve pretty much everything.

7/10

Monday, December 6, 2010

Heartless (PLL) ~ Sara Shepard review

Heartess (Pretty Little Liars #7)
HarperTeen
June 8, 2010
304 pages

Synopsis: After the girls are rescued from the barn fire, they're sure they've seen Ali, but is anyone going to believe them? Chalking their sighting up to smoke inhalation, those in charge dismiss their claims before starting to turn against them. Are the girls just looking for attention with all their wild claims?

But their (somewhat) new found notoriety isn't all the girls have to deal with: A's still around. Sending Emily on an expedition, even. Meanwhile Aria's looking to seances, along with a unique new friend from school, for answers about Allison, Hanna's sent to a 'facility' to 'recover from her trauma,' and Spencer finds out more about her birth.

Once again drama ensues, secrets are kept, and some truths are revealed in this penultimate instalment of the Pretty Little Liars series.


Review: I think of this as PLL's 'Lost' equivalent. Just about everything from the past few books got taken back or undone in some ways (someone was mistaken, that person didn't mean it, this person saw things wrong in that book, etc). Basically nothing is what you thought it was going into the book and more than once you get left with a 'huh?' feeling.

I don't know if this was because Sara Shepard wanted to do things differently,if she had remorse over how things had been written in the previous books (especially the fifth and sixth) or if it was really planned to take everything that had been established over several books and undo it.

Once I got used to nothing really being what it seemed and events in this novel not exactly building on those of the previous novels, I did enjoy it, however. Quite a lot happened and it was nice to see the characters moved along so much and I'm anxious to read the final installment, Wanted.

Series: (in order)
Pretty Little Liars
Flawless
Perfect
Unbelievable
Wicked
Killer
Heartless
Wanted

Rating: 7/10

Friday, December 3, 2010

Thursday 13 ~ Dog Books

Thirteen Dog Books (Adult, Children's, Fiction, Non-Fiction)

  1. Nubs: The True Story of a Mutt, a Marine & a Miracle by Brian Dennis

  2. Oogy: The Dog Only a Family Could Love by Larry Levin (writing that review now)

  3. Cormac: The Tale of a Dog Gone Missing : Based on a True Story by Sonny Brewer

  4. A Dog's Purpose by W Bruce Cameron (my review)

  5. The Art of Racing in the Rain: A Novel by Garth Stein

  6. Scent of the Missing: Love and Partnership with a Search-and-Rescue Dog by Susannah Charelson

  7. Dogs & Devotion by The Monks of New Skete (I didn't review it but it's a great, sweet, beautiful book)
  8. Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know by Alexandra Horowitz

  9. Stay by Allie Larkin

  10. Rose in a Storm: A Novel by Jon Katz
  11. The Lost Dogs: Michael Vick's Dogs and Their Tale of Rescue and Redemption by Jim Gorant

  12. Cracker!: The Best Dog in Vietnam by Cynthia Kadohata

  13. From Baghdad with Love: A Marine, the War, and a Dog Named Lava by Jay Kopelman and Melinda Roth


Bonus:
Pet Photography 101: Tips for taking better photos of your dog or cat by Andrew Darlow
and Tea and Dog Biscuits: Our First Topsy-Turvy Year Fostering Orphan Dogs by Barrie Hawkins (I know, it makes it 15 but I was going to have the photo book anway and then I found this one while getting my links!)

A Blue So Dark ~ Holly Schindler review

A Blue So Dark
Flux
May 8, 2010
288 pages
Buy/info @ Amazon


A Blue So Dark takes an honest and often painful look at schizophrenia through a teenagers eyes. Aura Ambrose has to deal with what a lot of fifteen-year-olds have to deal with: divorced parents, a dad who's not around enough, tough friendships and a tricky relationship with her mother--but in Aura's case it's all compounded (if not caused) by the fact that her mother's a schizophrenic.

In her debut novel, Holly Schindler does a beautiful job portraying Aura's mother's illness, the isolation Aura feels in being the only one to deal with everything day to day, Aura's fear that she'll one day end up like her mother, and Aura's eventual need to ask for help.


This novel was the first book a long, long time that I've sat down and read in (almost) one sitting. I have to say almost only because I'd read the first even or so pages already and then I was going to read 50 pages or x many chapters but I got so engrossed in the story I ended up reading to the end. (It's a good thing it was a nice day outside where I was and my dog was behaving!)

The way that creativity was seen by Aura as a possible gateway to insanity was really, really interesting to me. I don't have any mental illness in my family, but I am creative so to try to think like Aura on that was different. (And I couldn't imagine how hard it would be for her to have-or think she had-that choice.)

The relationships between all of the characters were all very well written and developed--the bits of the past also helped you see more of who they were and I enjoyed that.

It was a beautiful story yes about a teenage girl whose mother has schizophrenia but it was also a beautiful story about a teenager who has too much on her plate and needed to learn how to manage it and accept help from others.

A Blue So Dark
is a great read for teens and young adults (and adults, too, really) not only because it's an amazing book, but also because far too many people don't know about or understand schizophrenia and this book, while fiction, depicts it very well I think.





10/10 --and I so cannot wait for Playing Hurt even if it's a totally different genre, I think I love Holly Schindler's writing

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Lying Game ~ Sara Shepard review

The Lying Game (#1)
HarperTeen
December 7, 2010
320 pages
Amazon


Sutton Mercer lives a privileged life: loving parents, beautiful sister, tight group of best friends, hot boyfriend, expensive clothing, her own car, she has it all. But Sutton Mercer's not around to live that life anymore, she's dead.

Emma Paxton's lived in foster care since she was five years old: no real parents, no boyfriend, no expensive anything. Emma believes herself to be biologically an only child until she sees a video online of a girl who looks exactly like her. After sending the girl a message on Facebook they make plans to meet.

Soon, with ghostly Sutton accompanying her (unbeknownst to Emma), Emma finds herself forced to fill in for the missing Sutton. Can she fool Sutton's friends and family, who don't seem to know Sutton's missing, into believing she's her twin while she unearths what happened? (And keep herself safe?!)


The Lying Game is more than a little bit like Pretty Little Liars, Sara Shepard's other series, with death/murder (that I want to say like mehdehr), backstabbing, treachery, and tons of twists and turns.

Having, in essence, one and a half main characters, with Emma doing everything but usually as Sutton and Sutton taking part as sort of her subconscious (that she couldn't hear) made for a very interesting telling. Usually when there's a 'dead' character in a book that is a part of the story someone else can hear them or they're more separate from everything, but with Sutton participating in everything, but also really removed, it made for a unique reading experience.

I'm really inters ted to see if this style, with Sutton and Emma continues for the rest of the story or if Sutton gets more involved.


This first book in the series was really an introduction to the series and ending without resolving much, but it definitely got me hooked on the story enough that I really cannot wait for the next installment(s) to find out more about the both Sutton and Emma and their lives and have more of the mystery unfold.

(NB: The prologue of The Lying Game was a little confusing, but things really picked up (and made more sense) once the first chapter started--so if you pick it up to see if you're interested, I'd suggest reading at least that far! )

8/10

Monday, November 29, 2010

Matched ~ Ally Condie

Matched
Dutton Juvenile
November 30, 2010
369 pages
Buy/info @ Amazon

Ally Condie's Matched is one of those rare books that you hear a million awesome things about and then finally read--and it's even better than everyone said.

Cassia is a member of the Society. The Society decides what its members will eat, watch, wear, learn, and do with every minute of their day--or, rather, their lives. It's total control, but everything is also seen as perfect.

When we meet Cassia she is just turning seventeen and it is thus time for her Matching Ceremony--the Society's form of arranged marriage. During one beautiful night of beautiful dresses and cake, the teens are Matched to someone from somewhere, that the Society has deemed as their perfect match. One's Match is the person they will marry, have children with, spend their whole lives with--it's a great night for Cassia.

Cassia's match comes up as Xander, her best friend who lives on their same street, something that hasn't happened in years and years. The idea is exciting to her, until the next morning when she puts in the card that's supposed to display information about Xander.

Another boy's face flashes on the screen for an instant before it goes black.

Cassia is quickly assured that it's just a malfunction, nothing to worry about, but she can't get it--or, soon, the other boy out of her head. She finds herself questioning more and more about the Society and what all of their rules mean.


Matched was a great story about a girl who has to decide between the boy she's known forever who's comfortable and safe and expected and the new, unexpected, dangerous one. Then add in the Society and its Big Brother elements and it gets really fantastic.

Ally Condie really made this a top notch novel by thinking everything out so well. Every aspect of a citizen's life is well and truly controlled. There aren't places (or I completely missed them) where the plot falls apart or there are gaps or things you have to just go with. Everything really fits--there are times where I was really surprised what such little things were thought of or that quite so much thought was put into creating this world where Cassia lives. The extent of Ally Condie's creativity and attention to detail in Matched is amazing!

It's not all left up to the things and the world/setting, though, to carry the story--the characters and the relationships are equally strong and drive the story to a very, very compelling end. An end that has me just about biiting my nails for the next installment.

I hope that when Matched, the first in a trilogy comes out tomorrow, you'll be first in line at your local bookstore buy it or order it now from Amazon!!


10/10


Received for review thanks to Library Thing Early Reviewers

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Haunted ~ Jessica Verday review

This & my review of The Hollow are posted today to go along with the anniversary of Washington Irving's death--I thought it fit with the books . . .


The Haunted (The Hollow, Book 2)
Simon Pulse
August 31, 2010
480 pages
Buy/info @ Amazon


**BEWARE O' SPOILERS FOR THE HOLLOW (BOOK 1) IN THIS REVIEW (BOOK 2)--MY REVIEW OF THE HOLLOW IS HERE**


In this follow-up to The Hollow, Abbey Browning is still mourning her best friend, Kristin, who died the year and reeling from the discovery that her love, Caspian, and new friends Nicholas and Rose are actually ghosts.

Taking a mental break from her life--and school and Sleepy Hollow (and Caspian)--with her Aunt Marjorie--Abbey is taking some time to regroup and find out if she went crazy or just what happened to her in the wake of Kristin's death.

Now, though, it's time for her to return home to Sleepy Hollow--early, too to give a speech as they dedicate the finish bridge to Kristin's honor. Whether Abbey can handle the return--and what she will find there is the question of The Haunted.

The Haunted is the book that The Hollow (and especially its ending) set readers up to enjoy. While The Hollow only let you in on its secrets at the end, with The Haunted you already know enough of those secrets to be truly intrigued and captivated. That's not to say there aren't secrets in The Haunted --there most certainly are. And I can't wait to read The Hidden to find out those answers.

There was a lot more devlopment between the characters in this novel than the first in the series (between Abbey and Ben, Abbey and Caspian, etc) now that everyone was introduced and their basic who and what revealed.

I really liked that storylines from the first book were continued (and expanded) but that new things were also introduced. Things weren't just forgotten, the new didn't overrun the old, but you were also rewarded for having read the first book, too.

Passages like those describing Abbey's dreamed of store really show Jessica Verday's skill in discription, too--I can't tell you how much I wish it were a real story I could visit.

I'm now anxiously awaiting the third book in the series and more from this author.



9/10

Thank to the author for a copy of this book for review

The Hollow ~ Jessica Verday review

The Hollow & The Haunted reviews were supposed to be posted on Halloween but I missed that so they're posted today, 28th November since it's the anniversary of Washington Irving's death--which I found fitting for the series.

The Hollow
Simon Pulse
August 3, 2010 (paperback)
528 pages
buy/info @ Amazon


After the disappearance (and presumed death) of her best friend, Kristin, by the bridge next to Sleepy Hollow cemetery, Abbey is all alone. With no other friends, not quite ready to accept that Kristin's dead and no one else to understand what she's going through she finds tries to find comfort in creating perfumes--a pastime she loves.

Soon, she finds herself back at the bridge and the river that were the sight of Kristin's death. It's there that she meets the beautiful boy who will become her distraction--and so much more--in the months to come, Caspian.

Caspian's more than a little mysterious and Abbey only ever seems to see him when they happen to meet by the bridge or in the cemetery, but she can't help the intense feelings she quickly develops for him. Even if she does have to keep him secret from everyone in her life.


The Hollow is set in Sleepy Hollow, New York and uses quotes from "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" to start every chapter. Abbey also visits Washington Irving's grave quite often, so the Headless Horseman's tale is a pretty bit part of The Hollow--just how big of a part, however, is saved until the end of the novel.

The 'mysterious boy that girl falls deeply and quickly in love with' plot line is not really a new idea and a times I'll admit to being really frustrated with Abbey. I wanted her to push Caspian, to ask more of him, from him, about him, etc. She seemed to have so many questions, at times, about Kristin and could be so inquisitive but then she just let such weird things go.

But other parts of the story (some of the secondary characters, the entire idea of Abbey making perfumes and her plans with it) were interesting enough to me that it kept me reading. And I'm so, so, so glad I did.

Some books are fabulous right up until the end and then the end is just so-so (I have a review of one of those coming, actually) and then some books are alright . . . until the ending. Those books have amazing endings and you either wish there was more of the book or rush off to pick up the book in the series--this was definitely one of those books and had me reaching over to pick up The Haunted without hesitation.


7/10 (but read it so that you can know what's going on in The Haunted!)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Need ~ Carrie Jones review

Need (Need Pixies #1)
Bloomsbury USA Children's Books
December 8, 2009
338 pages
Buy/Info @ Amazon


After her stepfather dies, on their kitchen floor, right in front of her, Zara has trouble dealing. Her mother gets so worried about her that she sends Zara to Maine to live with her stepfather's mother. The transition from warm, sunny Charleston to snowy--already in October!--Maine is challenging at first for Zara.

Not only is she dealing with the death of the only father she's ever known and getting used to freezing temperatures and snow, but there's a mysterious guy she keeps seeing--one that she first saw at the airport in Charleston.

The friends she soon makes, Issie, Devyn, and Nick help her investigate this mysterious character and just who--or what he might be.


I doubt it's spoilery to say this series has pixies in it, but it should be mentioned for the review. I do like that the whole story isn't pixies!pixies!pixes right from page one. Zara's introduction to her new school and the characters takes is well done and introduces the story well, it sets everything up and establishes all of the relationships so that when the 'supernatural' is brought in you already like the characters.

I really enjoy books that have a plot that the progresses and develops and characters that are well rounded and developed with supernatural elements woven in (which is not to say that the supernatural is not a large part of this novel).

As with almost every book that has a 'new student' character, Need seemed to have Zara's start at the school be very, very easy for her based on my experiences--but that's fiction.

I really liked Gram and Issie especially, they were both great side characters and I hope they're featured a lot in the next books.

While this book has been compared a lot to Twilight and I suppose I can see that, I don't really think it's much like that novel at all. They do both have teen girls who are sent from a warm state to a colder state by their mothers and start a new school and there's a mysterious male character, but that's about all.

I think Need is much better than Twilight--I read Captivate much, much faster than I've so far managed to read New Moon!

Need also has one of my favorite endings of any of the books I've read lately. I was worrying that it was ending soon, that it would wrap up too quickly, but then I just loved the ending.


**Audio book note: Some of this I read and some of it I listened to the audiobook. I really do suggest the audiobook if you have access to it. The narrator does a great job and it's a lot of fun to be able to listen to the accents of the different characters, too. **


9/10
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