Monday, November 29, 2010

Matched ~ Ally Condie

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!!


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


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.


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. **


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Waiting On Wednesday

The Lost Crown: A Novel of Romanov Russia by Sarah Miller

Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia. Like the fingers on a hand - first headstrong Olga, then Tatiana the tallest, Anastasia the smallest, and Maria most hopeful for a ring. These are the daughters of Tsar Nicholas II, Russian grand duchesses living a life steeped in tradition and privilege. For these young women each on the brink of beginning their own lives at the mercy of royal matchmakers, summer 1914 promises to be a precious last wink of time to be sisters together - sisters that still link arms and laugh, sisters that share their dreams and worries, and flirt with the officers of their imperial yacht.

But in a gunshot the future changes - for them, and for Russia.

As World War I ignites across Europe, political unrest sweeps Russia. First dissent, then disorder, mutiny - and revolution. For Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia, the end of their girlhood together is colliding with the end of more than they ever imagined.

At the same time hopeful and hopeless, naive and wise, the voices of these sisters become a chorus singing the final song of Imperial Russia. Impeccably researched and utterly fascinating, acclaimed author Sarah Miller recounts the final days of Imperial Russia with lyricism, criticism and true compassion. (synopsis from Goodreads)
coming in hardcover from Atheneum in July 2011. The Lost Crown on Amazon & Goodreads

I love, love stories of the Romanovs--lots of historical fiction, but really the Romanovs more than most others. I really like that this book is going to focus on all of the sisters and not just Anastasia. While I do love stories about her, I think it will be really interesting to read about them as a family and sisters interacting together and going through things together.

Plus, I kind of love the author, Sarah Miller's, Goodread's biography :) You should really check that out next time you're at Goodreads.

I hope you've found some great new books to read this week!

Monday, November 8, 2010

In My Mailbox Monday

Books I received this week:

Vesper: A Deviants Novel by Jeff Sampson (January 25) & The Secret Journeys of Jack London, Book One: The Wild by Christopher Golden & Tim Lebbon, illustrated by Greg Ruth (March 1) ARCs from the publisher

The Darkest Edge of Dawn (Charlie Madigan, Book 2) by Kelly Gay, Unraveled (Intertwined's Sequel) ARC by Gena Showalter & Troublemaker Book 1: Alex Barnaby Series 3 by Janet Evanovich from a Reading with Tequila contest win

The Transformation of Things: A Novel by Jillian Cantor from Library Thing's Early Reviewers

The Unidentified by Rae Mariz which I bought several weeks ago but just got this week (I had someone else buy it & they just got back in town)

and I think these were actually last week, but I realised I haven't been including my NetGalley books here: The Lying Game by Sara Shepard(December 7, 2010) & Trickster's Girl by Hilari Bell (January 3) e-galleys from the publishers.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Wildthorn ~ Jane Eagland review

Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
September 6, 2010
352 pages

Louisa Cosgrove is not your typical Victorian girl. As a child she pushed the boundaries, loved science and dissecting things and was not at all a girly-girl. Now as a teen, she wants to be a doctor like her father, who educated her himself, much to the dismay of her mother and hates going on social calls with her mother.

Now, at the age of seventeen, she's on her way to be the companion to the sister of her brother's friend. Or so she thinks. When her carriage arrives, she finds herself at Wildthorn Hall, an insane asylum. Getting no assistance from her chaperone, Louisa is turned over to the staff at Wildthorn who insist that her name is Lucy Childs. The more she claims the be Louisa Cosgrove and not insane, the worse things get.

Stuck in a Victorian mental hospital, Louisa (or Lucy) knows she doesn't belong and has to get out.

If you can imagine a sort of Girl Interrupted (which I'll admit I haven't seen in a long, long time) and meets Rebel Angels (you'll remember that Bethlem Royal Hospital [Bedlam], played an itty part in that book), then you'll have an idea of why Wildthorn was so amazing.

Wildthorni was told in flashbacks of the main character's life that gradually met up with the present, allowing you to get to know her both in the present and the past at the same time. Learning so much about Louisa while reading about her being 'Lucy' in an insane asylum and the back and forth really did make me wonder at times whether she was legitimately insane or put there to make someone's life easier. It made reading the novel very suspenseful and enjoyable.

The other characters added to the suspense (and questioning of her true sanity). There were women in Wildthorn that were actually insane, but others that were admitted for reasons that would have been used in Victorian times. It not only made the story more enjoyable, but more believable, too. It also made me really happy to live in a place and time where I can be praised for wanting to learn, learn, learn as a girl.

I was fully engrossed in Louisa's story as she told it and couldn't wait to see how things would end for her (and if she had been slanting things). Sincerely looking forward to more from Jane Eagland


(read thanks to NetGalley)

Cover Reveal!

Melissa Walker did the Cover Reveal (early) for her upcoming novel Small Town Sinners:
I think it's a pretty awesome cover. To me it looks reserved (or what have you) enough for all the actual young adults that read YA fiction and the adults too, but still fun for young readers--and one that can have an apple on the cover and not look like it's trying to be anything at all like Twilight, so super points there.

Definitely a cover that would make me pick it up!
Take The Contemps Challenge!
Also, Small Town Sinners is one of the Contemps books and you can still sign up (until November 15) for their challenge (to read 18 of their 21 books between now and August 15, 2011). The books are all listed on their site and I've also made an Amazon Listmania! list H_E_R_E.

You should really think about signing up, it's some great books to read (including Melissa Walkers Small Town Sinners) with the possibility of a fantabulously aaaamazing prize.

Melissa Walker is the author of the Violet Wakefield series and Lovestruck Summer (my review of that), Small Town Sinners preordering/info can be found on Amazon or Goodreads (& others).

Here's the synopsis from Goodreads:

The story of Lacey Anne Byers, a small town girl who is excited to star in Hell House, her church's annual haunted house of sin, until a childhood friend reappears and makes her question her faith.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Waiting On Wednesday

My Waiting On book for today is: All You Get is Me by Yvonne Prinz which will be published in hardcover December 21, 2010 (from HarperTeen).

What happens when a city girl is transplanted onto a ramshackle organic farm in the middle of nowhere? Everything. Sixteen-year-old Roar has been yanked from her city life and suddenly she’s a farm girl, albeit a reluctant one, selling figs at the farmers' market and developing her photographs in a rickety shed. And then she witnesses a crime that will throw the whole community into an uproar. Caught among the lure of a troublemaking friend, her love for a brooding boy, and her complicated feelings about her father’s human rights crusade, Roar is going to have to tackle it all. And with a camera around her neck, she’s capturing it all, too.

Yvonne Prinz and her novel The Vinyl Princess have ignited the teen blogosphere and entertainment media. Once again, she’s taken the pulse of culture and emerged with a book that is timely, quirky, and unforgettable.
I haven't read The Vinyl Princess or Yvonne Prinz's other books yet, but I'm really, really interested in this one. I love the city girl stuck on the farm (and actually farming!), but also the photography (I have a love for books with characters doing photography).

And there's crime and romance mixed in, too. It sounds like a plot similar to a 1950s/60s novel a la To Kill a Mockingbird with teenagers but set in the present (her dad has a 'human rights crusade,' she's in the middle of it, rural settings always lend themselves to 'days gone by' [and I've lived in a really rural place], etc).

I'm also kind of liking her name being Roar--I like when characters have unique names/nicknames that come from somewhere.

All You Get is Me
at Amazon and Goodreads
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