Friday, May 27, 2011

The Royal Treatment ~ Lindsey Leavitt ARC review

The Royal Treatment (Princess for Hire #2)
Hyperion Book CH
May 3, 2011
**Spoilers for Princess for Hire (my review) below**

In Princess for Hire, Lindsey Leavitt's first novel in this series, we met Desi Bascomb and, along with her, learned about MP, magical potential that some girls have. It's what allowed Desi to see the ad in the newspaper that brought Meredith into her bathroom via a traveling bubble.

A new member of Facade, as a Level 1 Desi became the sub for different royal girls wanting to get, temporarily, away from their lives from one reason or another.

But being Desi she put her own spin on things.

Now aiming for Level 2, Desi has things to learn--or try to learn--in order to take on more high profile jobs.

But with Level 2 comes more fun, too. Roller skating, yachts, and the chance to see the prince that got her in trouble last time.

Not to mention Desi's in her school's production of Midsummer Night's Dream and has rehearsal's on top of her subbing duties!

Is it possible for Desi to live both parts of her life to the fullest . . . even when she's starting to think there's more to Facade than meets the eye?

The Royal Treatment has a more complex plot than Princess for Hire getting more into Desi's life outside of being a sub and more into the agency outside of Meredith taking Desi to her assignments. Seeing the expansion in the storyline was really enjoyable--readers still got to see Desi being a sub (and it was possibly more fun this time around), but things outside of that were expanded.

Different plot points were introduced in this second book that look like they're going to lead to an even more exciting third (and fourth?) book. Things were left open enough to lave you just itching to read the latter books but not at all unsatisfied with the one you just finished.

The secondary characters were once again great--and more involved in the story, too. The newer characters were lovely, too and I can't wait to see where future books lead their story lines.

Lindsey Leavitt has created a series that is fun and a super enjoyable read for anyone from middle grade readers on up. The Princess for Hire series is one that just leaves readers feeling happy, you can't go wrong with that.


Huge thank you to Disney Hyperion for my advance copy

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Armchair BEA

Today decided to get crazily busy! I wanted to take part in Armchair BEA, though and they have the best suggested topic for today: Best of 2011 which can include not only the best books of 2011 that I've read/read in 2011, but the books that people will be lucky enough to snag/hear about at BEA that I think will make their way onto my favorites list!

There are so many upcoming books that I just cannot wait to read, that I'm going to focus on those...starting with those that some will get at BEA:

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodgkin
Shatter Me by Tehereh Mafi (seriously, people get me either this or the above and I will <3 you *so* much)
Ashes by Ilsa Bick
Original Sin by Lisa Desrochers (well a signed one, I do already have an ARC)
The Carrier of the Mark by Leigh Fallon

and these may be at BEA (I have been trying not to find out just how many amazing books I"m missing out on) or not but I still want them so much--I see them being high on my list of enjoyed books of 2011:

Haunting Violet by Alxyandra Harvey
Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel
After Obsession by Carrie Jones
Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
Undercurrent: A Siren Novelby Tricia Rayburn (I think this one's coming ... sure hope so!!)
Texas Gothic by Rosemary Clement-Moore
Crossed (Matched #2) by Ally Condie
Uncommon Criminals (A Heist Society Novel) by Ally Carter
The Pledge by Kimberly Derting
Small Town Sinners by Melissa Walker
Wildcat Fireflies by Amber Kizer
Bad Taste in Boys by Carrie Harris (unlike zombies, this cover will never go bad)

and I have it (currently reading) but it deserves mentioning for its awesomeness:
Hourglass by Myra McEntire

Monday, May 23, 2011

Tomorrow Girls: Behind the Gates ARC review Eva Gray

Tomorrow Girls: Behind the Gates (#1)
May 1, 2011

A blogger had this book as part of one of their Mailbox posts and I thought it looked interesting and so when I saw an offer for the ARC I requested it on what was, quite honestly, a bit of a whim. I am so, so, so glad I did.

Not only does the first page introduce the characters in the parking garage of a mall I used to go to in elementary school (and I seem to have a soft spot for books with things happening in places I've been), but it starts off right in the thick of things.

In a future where people rarely travel anymore (a trip to the gas station to fill up your car for a trip around town is a luxury of the past) and with a decades long war being waged, Louisa is one of the lucky few getting out of the city. She and her best friend Maddie are on their way to Country Manor School.

No one knows where CMS is - not Louisa, not Maddie, not Louisa's parents or anyone else i the mall's parking garage that day. It's for their own protection.

A lot of things are 'for their own protection' in Louisa's world.

Including the survival skills CMS's classes teach the girls. It might be different from what a regular school would teach, but Louisa's enjoying the fresh air (something she had far too little of back home) and new things far too much to really question things.

But are the strange classes, taking away the girls phones, the lack of Internet, phones and all technology really all 'for their own safety'?

Or is something else at play?

This book gave me a lot more than I was expecting. It's a dystopian but it doesn't focus as much on the dystopian world as it does on the characters. Readers learn about the characters' world--and what's wrong with it--through little mentions via the characters and their experiences. Though given the ending (that leaves you just begging for the next installment), I think there might be more of the dystopian-ness in the next book.

The characters in this book were fabulous. The four girls that things focused on really built relationships and we got to know them as they got to know each other. They also stayed age appropriate. The were supposed to be 13 (The ARC copy of Behind the Gates I have says it's a MG book and I think that's probably more correct content wise than the YA it's being labeled as no [at least on internet sites].) and they acted that age.

The age of the characters was also a benefit. If they had been older, the being away from home might have been easier on them and their relationships would have been much different. I'm glad that they were the ages they were and that it actually affected the story.

Tomorrow Girls: Behind the Gates is definitely an introduction to the rest of the series, but it has its own plot and does't rely on the reader having other books in which to 'get' a story.

Can't wait for more of this series (this was May 1 and there'll be a book every two months--four in total).


ARC thanks to the publisher

Friday, May 20, 2011

Tempest Rising ~ Tracy Deebs ARC review

Tempest Rising
Walker Children's
May 10, 2011
352 pages

Tempest Maguire enjoys her life--getting up each morning and surfing several hours before school at the beach across the street from her home, hanging out with her friends and on-off boyfriend Mark, and helping her dad with her two younger brothers.

But Tempest is half mermaid and she knows that with her seventeenth approaching, she'll soon have to decide between her human teenage life, Mark, her friends, her father, and her brothers Moku and Rio . . . . and leaving it all behind for a life in the sea as her mother did six years before.

Thanks to the letter her mother left for her, Tempest know the pull of the ocean will be strong, but just how much it will try to draw her in, she never could have guessed. Or just what will await her if she does decide to venture under the water.

Tempest Rising is different from many other mermaid books in that Tempest is not yet a mermaid, but also knows that she may become one. The reader gets to go along with Tempest as she comes of age as a half-mermaid and reaches the time when she has to make her decision.

It's nice to have an introduction to Tempest's human life, but with the undercurrent of 'she's part mermaid' still there. Surfing is a large part of Tempest's life--her father was a pro surfer--so it's not at all a struggle to have the characters near the water at any point in during the book.

Tempest's mother leaving to go be a mermaid--but not returning at all for unknown reasons which angers Tempest--puts a new spin on the absentee parent storyline and gives Tempest a big reason to not want to be a mermaid.

That there's much more to Tempest's struggle and decision that just 'live with my dad and brother's and be a real girl with legs' or 'go live in the ocean with a fin and scales as a mermaid' is what really makes this story enjoyable. It's complicated--and a complicated decision that isn't (at least all) sprung on Tempest in some big revelation, it's something she's been aware of forever.

The last quarter to third of the novel is probably the strongest--the point where you really just do not want to put it down, but also don't really want it to end. There are times in that same part of the the book where Tempest feels almost more like an adult character than a teen character, but not enough to really detract much from anyone's reading or enjoyment.

Tempest Rising is Tracy Deebs first YA novel and I hope she writes more, this one was a fresh take on an increasingly popular genre.


An author interview with Tracy Deebs may be coming . . . I will link it here and link to the review in that post if it does happen :)

thank you to Kate at Bloomsbury for my review copy of this book.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The A Circuit ~ Georgina Bloomberg & Catherine Hapka ARC review

The A Circuit
Bloomsbury USA Children's Books
May 24, 2011
288 pages

The A Circuit is the top tier when it comes to horse shows. And Tommi, Kate, and Zara are all trying to prove they have what it takes to be--and compete--there.

Tommi is the daughter of one of New York's richest men. With an older sister everyone compares her to and a father who hangs out with New York's mayor, people expect a lot form Tommi. But what she expects from herself and what they expect might not be the same things.

Kate works with the horses that cost possibly as much as her house for the opportunity at riding them, knowing her parents could never afford it otherwise. She might not have the money of everyone else in the barn, but she's going to work hard--bordering on too hard--to prove she deserves to be there--and make the most of her chance.

Zara's the daughter of a rock star and a movie star. Used to being stalked by paparazzi in LA she's looking for a change of pace in this New York barn . . . she just didn't expect quite how different it was going to be. Can the party girl really buckle down and take showing seriously?

Three girls, each with something to prove to someone--maybe even themselves--about their commitment to horses and showing all come together in The A Circuit.

If you already know about horses and shows (and especially if you also love Gossip Girl or similar series) then this is the book for you. However, if you don't, you'll miss a little in The A Circuit.

There's a fair amount of terminology used--for everything from preparing the horses to what the horses actually do to what happens to the horses, etc--that never gets explained. I don't mean that there needs to be a paragraph by any means but there are places where a comma and a few words would have helped me.

As I said, though, if you do know all of what they're talking about then you get more enjoyment out of the story because you get all of it (and a fair amount of people will know it from reading previous books and it's being marketed to horse show enthusiasts/that world).

I did actually like that the horse care, talk was so much a part of the book (if not better explained) because it made the book not just another Gossip Girl-esque story. It really set the story in its own world and the characters had something they were passionate about and truly cared about.

Since the characters were so different (each of the three main female characters was very unique), I would have liked to see more of them individually. It felt like the book started to get into them, but then either backed off or ran out of time ... There were a lot of secondary characters (it actually got a little confusing in the beginning with the horse terminology and the lots of characters introduced right off), if there's more in this world I hope it focuses more on the central characters.

This is a fun read but definitely much, much more fun if you know about horses and showing so you can understand everything that's said.

(And Amazon currently says this is reading level 9-12 years---content wise, I'm not sure that's appropriate? Not sex, but drinking and some light drugs and a line like 'making out like porn stars' [can't find it to quote exactly].)


big thank you to Kate at Bloomsbury for my review copy of this book

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Bumped ~ Megan McCafferty eARC review

Balzer + Bray
April 26, 2011
336 pages
Goodreads/Amazon/Book Depository

Melody lives in a future where a virus has made everyone over the age of 18 infertile. Couples pay teenage girls to get pregnant and give them the baby. Teen pregnancies are now all the rage--instead of something generally looked down on.

Fake 'bumps' are sold in stores, pregnancy (and the contracts that pay for them) are to be envied, and the school even serves food for optimal pregnancies.

Not quite everyone thinks teen pregnancies are the best thing ever. the Church finds it wrong.

And Harmony, Melody's lost, unknown twin sister has been raised in a Church compound her whole life.

But now she's shown up on Melody's doorstep, sure she can 'save' her sister.

Both girls have a lot to learn, though.

Megan McCafferty has written a dystopian that's not as serious and scary (or frightening?) as most other dystopians. In fact, it's rather funny, too.

I really enjoyed the the premise of McCafferty's first YA novel but the novel itself didn't really work for me. (Part of why this review is late is I had to work through my thoughts on this book first.)

The way that the Church was portrayed in Bumped just hit me wrong. Through the characters they were given so few redeeming qualities, but their actions made them seem much less worse than that perception. It's hard to explain why that storyline struck a wrong chord with me the way it did . . .

I also wished there would have been more with Melody's friend whose trouble was constantly referenced, almost teasingly. I really wanted to know what had happened but felt almost let down when it was finally revealed because I still wanted more.

I liked the characters alright--and the relationship between Zen and Melody but I didn't feel the characters had enough motivation for their actions or change in beliefs/actions.

The premise is interesting enough, though, and the ending open enough that I think I will look at the future books in this series in hopes that the characters are more developed.


read via NetGalley, with thanks to the publisher

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Waiting On Wednesday ~ Daughter of Smoke & Bone

It's hard to pick just one book a week with all of the end of summer/start of fall book releases I keep discovering!!

For whatever reason, I thought this book was coming out much later than it is...The 'this' book is Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor.

Here is the synopsis (via Goodreads):
Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil's supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she's prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands"; she speaks many languages--not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she's about to find out.

When one of the strangers--beautiful, haunted Akiva--fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

I really loved Laini Taylor's previous book, Lips Touch: Three Times. I loved the creativity of the three stories and how they were written. I am so ready to read a new book by her . . .

(and the cover is different, but I love it)

October 3, 2011 from Little Brown Books for Young Readers

Friday, May 6, 2011

Die for Me ~ Amy Plum ARC review

Die for Me (Revenants #1)
May 10, 2011
341 pages

Dear Everyone: Buy this book! Or at least get it from the library and read it!! Sincerely, Me.

Die for Me is one of those books you find yourself wanting to find people simply so you can recommend it to them, holing it up to your friends and saying, "Read this!"

After Kate and Georgia's parents are killed in a car accident they make the fateful decisions to leave New York behind and live with their paternal grandparents in a city they've visited every summer, Paris.

While Georgia, the older sister, is ready to get out and live, Kate needs some coaxing to even leave the apartment.

When she finally does, chance encounters lead her to meet Vincent. Vincent Delacroix is handsome, charming--and everything else a teenage girl could ever dream of wanting in a boy. Kate knows she could easily fall for Vincent if she only gave herself the chance.

But Vincent also brings danger with him. Not exactly human, Vincent also has some secrets he'll have to share with Kate . . . and some enemies.

Is Kate willing to put herself and what's left of her family in danger to take a chance at true love?

Die for Me is unlike any other paranormal I've read--or read about. Those who liked Twilight by Stephenie Meyer or Dead Beautiful by Yvonne Woon should love it--those who didn't like either of those books should love it.

It's almost impossible to read Die for Me and believe that it's author Amy Plum is a debut author and hasn't written other (published) things to get to this level of storytelling. While other paranormal tales run the risk of having no story for readers to connect with or enjoy if the supernatural element were to be removed, that's not true here. Plum developed such great chemistry between not only her romantic lead but also the side characters and a connection between the familial characters that, (though you can't separate the story like that) you can see them carrying a story on their own.

Each of the characters has their own unique personality and traits with each doing things that, while possibly seeming trivial at the time, come back to play a part in the book's plot later. The plot is complex without always seeming so. (A definite good thing.)

The paranormal sort of mythos that Amy Plum created here is really pretty amazing. The detail she gave it really draws you in and connects the reader with all of the characters-and their stories. (If there were any holes in the logic, I certainly didn't find them.) I am absolutely thrilled this is going to be a series because I cannot wait to read more about these characters and hopefully their relationships with each other. (I want to know what Jules' thing 'is about' and more with Charlotte, mostly Jules though ;) ... and no more almost spoilerness.)

One last thing: Die for Me is perfectly set in Paris and Paris is the perfect setting for Die for Me. This book truly could not have taken place anywhere else. Paris absolutely sets the scene for everything. It sets the mood and give off a feeling for the reader. The things we learn about daily life in Paris are just cream for the delicious French pastry.

(Not to mention, I think I'll forever read revenants with a French accent.)


biggest of big thank yous to Harper for my review copy!!!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Dead is Not an Option ~ Marlene Perez eARC review

Dead is Not an Option
May 2, 2011
252 pages

Like the four previous books in the Dead Is series, Dead is Not an Option is a cute, quick, fun read about Daisy Giordano, her family, their town of Nightshade and the bevy of supernatural creatures that live there.

Now a senior, Daisy is looking at colleges and wondering whether she will be leaving Nightshade--and whether she and her boyfriend Ryan will be going to different schools. But with no acceptance (or rejection) letters in sight for Daisy, she needs somewhere else to focus her attention. Of course, this being Nightshade, distractions are never in short supply.

There's a bit of a Fangs versus Fur (vamps against shifters) war going on with former friendships crumbling and new fights breaking out every day. Even if Daisy's own home. With one sister dating a vampire and the other two dating werewolves things are getting a little tense.

Can things settle down enough for Daisy to graduate and figure out where she's going?

I really enjoyed that Dead is Not an Option built on storylines from earlier books and also started new ones. It's nice to have characters that grow throughout the series--you get to see them achieve things but also change as they age.

This fifth book, however, seemed to lose course partway through. It started as a Vamps vs Shifters in an all out war around Nightshade story and I liked that. It was sort of a West Side Story meets Twilight fandom. But then that sort of fizzled out. It was resolved, but it sort of just stopped being the central storyline.

The ending did tie up some loose ends from other books in the series and some things were resolved from earlier books that I was happy to see. Overall, though, I think the book wasn't as strong as the others in the series.


(read thanks to NetGalley & the publisher)
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