Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Vesper ~ Jeff Sampson review

Vesper (Deviants #1)
Balzer + Bray
January 25, 2011
304 pages
Amazon


Emily Webb prefers wearing baggy clothes to hide her figure, watching Buffy or reading to going to parties, but as we're introduced to her, she's trying to sneak out of her room --only she doesn't know why. It's a call from Emily's best friend Megan Reed, Reedy, that startles her back to reality during her sneaking out--a call telling her that Emily Cooke, the 'other' Emily at school has been murdered.

Having a girl murdered just a few streets a way is soon not the strangest (or scariest) thing for Emily W., however. Every night after Emily C's death she finds herself a stronger Emily, no longer needing her glasses, and wanting to sneak out of her house in sexy clothing (borrowed from her stepsister)--all things she'd never have dreamed of doing just days earlier.

Referring to her wilder self as 'Nighttime Emily,' Emily W begins to wonder if she's being possessed by the recently murdered Emily C. As Nighttime Emily puts her in more dangerous situations and more students at her high school are shot, Emily knows she needs to figure out what's happening to her. She also needs to find out why, ever time she's 'Nightime Emily' she goes searching for a boy with a certain scent . . . almost as if she's needs to find them


Vesper is a really unique book. While it is a werewolf book--or the start to a werewolf series, it's a lot more about a girl uncovering what's happening to her and around her than werewolves. In fact, there's not actually a lot of werewolveyness in Vesper at all, but I think it's likely that there will be more in the latter books. This book was more of a mystery with Emily trying to figure out why she was turning into a different person every night, someone so unlike herself and finding a way to manage that new self.

I would have liked to have more of the story to know where this was going but since there's not more of it out just yet I guess I'll just have to wait and see where Vesper, Emily, and the 'Deviants' take things. Vesper's definitely a book that would have me picking up the next book in the series if it was available. If you don't like first books in series that are almost like introductions, I would suggest you wait until, at least, there is a release date for Book 2 in this series.

I did enjoy that Emily wasn't an extreme character. She wasn't the one always getting teased, she wasn't the super popular girl, she wasn't terribly awkward . . . yes, she was a geek who liked her sci-fi stuff and wasn't comfortable with her physical appearance, but she was really just, well, average. She was anybody in that sense.

The transcripts of Emily Webb's interrogations with someone from the Vesper Company being included made things almost suspenseful. You knew something was going to happen to Emily--something worthy of her being questioned about--you just had to get to it. After reading the book and knowing why she was being questioned and what all she uncovered, I'm really looking forward to more in this series and seeing just how things do develop.

This is a book that keeps you reading--not necessarily one that keeps you having to know just exactly what will happen in the next instant, but still one that keeps you reading until the end and I can only see it getting better.


7/10


thank you to the publisher for sending me this book

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Book of Tomorrow ~ Cecelia Ahern ARC review

The Book of Tomorrow: A Novel
Harper Collins
January 25, 2011
320 pages
Buy/info at Amazon


After Tamara Goodwin's father finds himself unable to pay off all his debts and commits suicide, she and her mother are exiled to the countryside, to Tamara's aunt and uncle.

Gone is the pool and bath with a built in television. Gone are the posh Dublin friends and fancy foods; the shopping trips to London and weekends in Paris. Now Tamara finds herself living in a tiny village, in the gatehouse to an ancient castle, with her crazy aunt and her uncle who hardly ever speaks a word. And her mother who's still 'grieving'--but in a way that means that she never comes out of her room or speaks to anyone.

Tamara's going stir crazy when, one day not long after her arrival, Marcus, a local boy, shows up driving the traveling library. Tamara finds one book in the library that she decides and after finally prying open the lock on it, she finds diary entries. Entries written in her own handwriting. Dated the next day.

Tamara's at first skeptical, but with her life seemingly flying out of control--just what is going on with her mother, and why won't her aunt have her seen by a doctor?--and the journal turning out right that first day, Tamara decides to give listening a shot.

Maybe the book will give her some answers.


I've only read two of Cecelia Ahern's other books, PS I Love You and Rosie Dunne/Love, Rosie, and while I really liked those books, this one was loads better. The Book of Tomorrow had a lot more depth than Cecelia Ahern's other books that I've read. It was suspenseful and emotional--but without being Lifetime moviesque--and the characters, their relationships and the different dynamics were really well done and, quite frankly, rather unexpected, too.

This is all on top of a character that would not have been at all out of place in a Hitchcock or Stephen King tale. She was creepy, I'm telling you. As I've said I haven't read all of Ahern's writing so I don't know if any of them are in the same vein as Book of Tomorrow but I certainly hope that some of her future work is because, if so, readers are certainly in for a treat.

While Cecelia Ahern can do romance and sweet and cute, she can really do mystery with a hint of creepy & magic.


The main character in The Book of Tomorrow is a teenager, but Tomorrow is really an ageless book (if that's even a thing--if not, I am now making it one!). Readers of any age--those of Tamara's age up to those of Rosealeen's age and beyond--will easily enjoy this tale. There is mention (and I believe just mention/recollection more so than action) of teens doing things that good teens maybe wouldn't do, so some might not like it for younger teens there. But because nothing's explicit and everything really does have consequences, I really wouldn't even stop them from reading this.


10/10

(won a galley from the publisher)

The Iron Queen ~ Julie Kagawa ARC review

The Iron Queen (Iron Fey #3)
Harlequin (Teen)
January 25, 2011
368 pages
Amazon

(I'd hoped to review books 1 & 2 along with this one, but since I have a cast on part of my arm and am not supposed to be typing . . . those are coming later--they were awesome, though, I promise you that!)

**(contains spoilers for Iron King & Iron Daughter--Books 1 & 2 in the series)**

Meghan Chase thought she was done with the fey; she'd returned her brother safely home, banished the changeling, killed the Iron King. Oh, and been banished from Nevernever along with Ash and Puck. Now, gone from her home for almost a year, she's spending some time with the exiled Queen again when she gets an interesting--and dangerous--proposal. A proposal that could lead to her death or to Puck and Ash being welcomed home once again.

Is Meghan willing to venture back through possibly even more danger than before so that Puck and Ash will be welcome back in faery lands?


First of all, I absolutely recommend reading the first two books (Iron King & Iron Daughter) before reading Iron Queen, the books really build on each other.

I love the world Julie Kagawaa has created with the Iron Fey and how she stays consistent from book to book but also adds to her mythology. What other book would talk about faery history involving a Eurpopean country then, within a few pages, mention a spork? Hmmm? I'm guessing no other book.

Parts of this book didn't keep me as consistently enthralled as the previous two, but I still absolutely loved it. The characters were true to themselves and we learned more about them, and their relationships deepened. New charaacters were introduced and became an enjoyable part of the story--I hope some of them show up again...maybe?

And, and, and the only thing that really, really, really bothered me from the earlier books got righted in this book so there could have been a major breakdown in its awesomeness (there was not) and I still would have loved it just because of that! (And no, I'm not saying what it was!)


8/10

(Winter's Passage, Iron Fey novella is up for download here at the Iron Fey website)


(read thanks to the publisher-Harlequin-and NetGalley)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Here Lies Bridget ~ Paige Harbison ARC review

Here Lies Bridget
Harlequin Teen
January 18, 2011
224 pages
Amazon


Here Lies Bridget is another one of those rare books that gives you permission to dislike the main character. Not only does it give you permission, Bridget and Bridget herself give you multiple reasons to more or less hate her. Whether it's her stepmother who takes care of her while her father's almost constantly away with work, her teacher Mr Ezhno, random kids at school or even her friends, no one escapes Bridget's harsh tongue.

The meanest of the mean girls, Bridget is the ruler of her school, but things start changing when the new girl Anna Judge arrives. With everything falling apart around her (through a series of events that are revealed throughout the book), we're introduced to Bridget as she's about to crash her speeding car. on, what seems to be, purpose. The reader is then taken back in time (just a little bit!) to meet Bridget and see how she got to the point of wanting to crash her car. Eventually, we meet up with accident and it's then that Bridget is in a sort of limbo and finds out that the five people she meets there, aren't exactly wishing her well.

Like the book summary/website says: "What do you do when the five people you meet in limbo all want you to go to hell?"

With the chance to walk in each of those five person's shoes and see just how she affected them, Bridget might not save her life, but she might just be able to set some things right.


Here Lies Bridget had a really interesting premise that definitely drew me to the book, but it never all really came together for me. I loved the idea of a book with such an unlikeable main character that admits you're not going to like that character and revolves around that. Only, I never really found Bridget to be sympathetic so I continued disliking her even when I don't think I was supposed to.

Maybe if Bridget's meeting everyone in limbo and seeing their perspectives' had been a larger part of the book, I would have liked things better. As it was, the beginning, with Bridget being the mean girl that led up to the car crash and her in limbo took up more of the book than I would have liked.

Bridget was also a lot more self aware than I thought made sense. She made observations about things in her past and how they made her act one way or another that I wasn't sure someone with either her age or her demeanor would be able to make. At least not without a lot of therapy. And then, if she could see all of that, I can't see her acting like she did.

Overall, the book just didn't connect for me, but because the plot really was a creative one, I will check out the plot of Paige Harbison's next book.


(read thanks to the NetGalley & the publisher)

Friday, January 21, 2011

The False Princess ~ Eilis O'Neal ARC Review

The False Princess
EgmontUSA
January 25, 2011
336 pages
Amazon


Nalia, is the Princess of Thorvaldor--and as the Princess she has a privileged life, She's been tutored her whole life in history, languages, and everything else it takes to be a princess; she's fed gourmet foods every day, given beautiful dresses, lives in a castle, and everything else that one would expect comes with being a Princess and heir to the throne.

But, just after her sixteenth birthday, while romping around the palace one morning with her best friend Kieran, Nalia is called to meet with her parents--something strange in and of itself. They inform her that she is not the real Princess. She is a false princess, brought as a baby to stand in for the real Princess who was sent away for her protection.

Now that it is safe for the real Princess to return, Nalia--or Sinda, her real name, is sent away to live with her biological ant a dyer in a far away village. Sinda is never able to quite able to fit in with the people of the village--nor is she able to learn the tasks required of a dyer.

And soon she's discovering she posses magic, something a part of that world, but not the royal family 'Nalia' believed herself a member.

With magic sizzling inside her, an aunt who doesn't like her, a best friend she was forced to leave behind, a village where she doesn't belong, and a life that was a lie, Sinda will have to decide what to do next. Little does she know her choice could change the Thorvaldorian history, forever.


The False Princess is such a great book. At first some of the names of places and characters threw me a little, but once I got used to them, I kind of like it. One of the things that worked well for me, was that except for really one part, it was harder to tell just when this book was set (date-wise). It was as if it was in a nameless time and place so I wasn't trying to connect it with actual dates and places while reading.

Sinda was a very easy character to relate to and I loved seeing how she changed and developed throughout the story. She was a great main character and really led the story very well.

I was a little weary at first about the way magic was going to be used but it was just a part of the story, it fit in seamlessly. If you like magic in your books at all, you should really try this one--and if you don't you should still read this!

The plot of The False Princess had more twists than I went into it expecting it to be and I'm really glad that it did. It was a great mystery but there was still the romance and the intrigue and some action as well.

I think if you liked reading Avi's Cripsin books, you'll like reading this book. This one is a tad more grown up, but I still think it's in the same vein as those books.

Overall, I think you will like The False Princess if you like books with magic, if you like fantasy historical, if you like fantasy romance (it's not quite paranormal romance), or just a good book).

9/10


thank you very muchly to the publisher for a copy of this for review

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Dark Divine & The Lost Saint ~ Bree Despain reviews

The Dark Divine (The Dark Divine #1)
EgmontUSA
December 22, 2009
384 pages
Buy/info @ Amazon (paperback)


Grace Divine, the local pastor's daughter, gets (almost) the shock of her life when Daniel her long disappeared friend/surrogate brother returns to school with no warning. Grace has always known something happened the night Daniel Kalbi disappeared and her brother Jude showed up at their home covered in blood.

Now that Daniel has returned, there's more than a little tension between him and his once best friend, Jude--and Grace is stuck in the middle of it.


Once Grace begins to uncover what really happened that night--and exactly what it all means--whether or not she can keep herself (and her soul) safe becomes a true question.


The Dark Divine is a supernatural story that almost doesn't let on that it's a supernatural story for a long while. Reviews have mentioned it, yes, but based just on the summary and first part of the book, you wouldn't really know that.

A retelling of the Prodigal Son (with a twist for sure!), The Dark Divine does involve religion--Grace's father is the pastor, etc.--but not so much that it feels like Christian Fiction and not secular YA Fiction (for those that do not prefer Christian Fiction).

I think I would have liked a little bit more of the supernatural elements earlier in the story, but I did appreciate the way the character relationships were built, their history was slowly brought in (and added to the story), and how the different story lines came together in the end.

While initially I will admit to being at least partially interested in this book because some of the main characters shared my dogs names (what--they're best friends, too!), I am really happy I read it and it left me looking forward to the sequel . . .


7/10




A sneak peek of The Dark Divine's first chapter is on Bree Despain's website


SPOILERS BE BELOW FOR THE DARK DIVINE.
Stop reading now if you haven't read The Dark Divine and/or don't want spoilers for it!!!


The Lost Saint (The Dark Divine #2)
EgmontUSA
December 28, 2010
400 pages
Buy/info @ Amazon



The Lost Saint picks up soon after The Dark Divine ended. Willing to lose her own soul, Grace made the ultimate sacrifice to Daniel's life. With Daniel now human, Grace a werewolf, Jude on the run, and Grace's mother all but lost in her own mind, Grace's world has turned on itself.

Grace Divine knows that she now has to become a Hound of Heaven, that she has to keep from turning into a dangerous werewolf. But when two new characters show up in town, each with very different plans for Grace, her plan becomes a little more difficult.

One of the newcomers, Talbot, promises to help Grace become a hero, what she longs to be. The closer Grace gets to Talbot, however, the more trouble and distance it creates between her and Daniel.

Will Grace be able to find the right path--the one that truly leads her away from darkness and losing herself? And what about the mysterious, warning phone call from the brother she hasn't seen in so long?


With much more romance, danger, action, and supernatural elements than The Dark Divine, The Lost Saint hits the ground running. This time around it's not a mystery that there are werewolves--only, maybe, just who is one--or that things do, in fact, go bump in the night.

The relationships between the characters developed in the first book are still there and utilized very well. Some new characters are introduced and the old characters are developed more in Saint. There is still religion and lore in this second book, too and ,once again, I felt that it really added to things, made the story stronger.

I enjoyed The Lost Saint quite a bit more than the first book, likely because the basis of the story was already established and the story expanded from the central characters to include a few others. And the ending!! Oh, the ending!!

9/10

The Lost Saint website with first chapter, etc.




(Copy of The Lost Saint received for review. Thank you to the publisher. The Dark Divine was bought by me.)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

These Things Hidden ~ Heather Gudenkauf review

Sorry for the delay of reviews (not being able to type two handed without shooting pains in one hand kind of slows things down)--but I'm working on it!!

These Things Hidden
Mira Books
January 18, 2011 (I think Goodreads is still saying March 1)
352 pages
Buy/info @ Amazon

In These Things Hidden, much like she did in The Weight of Silence, Heather Gudenkauf uses the relationships--and intimacy--of a family and a small town to weave a literary tale that feels so real you'd sear it has to at least be 'based on' a true story. Like, Gudenkauf's debut (to be reviewed here soon!), however, These Things Hidden is completely fictional and completely amazing.

After five years in prison, Allison Glenn is being released. And going home to Linden Falls. Former perfect girl, Allison, now only college aged, isn't going home to her parents, though. Both her parents and her former friends want nothing to do with her anymore.

None of that helps her transition, but the only one Allison is actually concerned with contacting is her sister, Brynn. Brynn, the one who stayed behind while Allison went to jail and went through high school with all the gossip and the town's whispers. And she's the only one, besides Allison, who really knows what happened that night, the night whose events sent Allison to jail.

A secret being kept between two sisters is tearing them apart, but if it gets out it threatens to tear much more apart--including the life of a young child and his adoptive parents.


For almost half of the story I thought that These Things Hidden was going to lack the mystery that The Weight of Silence had that was such a fundamental part of my enjoyment of the story. When things did really begin to develop, however, I was very pleasantly surprised and loved what it added to the tale.

The way that Heather Gudenkauf focuses on familial relationships and then works those families together through their relationships/friendships in the town is really brilliantly done. Not only does it expertly involve all of the characters in a way that a lot of books only strive to do, but because everyone is connected like they are, it makes it feel like a real story, where people are connected that way.

I loved The Weight of Silence so much (again, reviewing that very soon!) and had high expectations for this one and I have to say it very much met my expectations. Heather Gudenkauf is an author I will not only be eagerly anticipating more from, but one I will gladly recommend to other--including you!


10/10



egalley read via NetGalley--thank you to the publisher

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Across the Universe Release

Sorry for the lack of posts lately--I sprained my wrists last week (the same day we had to put my dog to sleep) so I've been resting and not typing much since then.

I do have a very exciting post today to coincide with the release of Across the Universe by Beth Revis . . .

This is a book I've been wanting to read for a long, long time now and I'm so glad that I'm now *this* close to getting a chance!!

If for some reason, you don't know about ATU or don't know if you want too read it, here is the trailer for it:


and if you're like Maureen Johnson and don't ger/like book trailers, here's a video with author Beth Revis (this one made me want to read the book so much more than the trailer did, actually!)




Now that you are aware of Across the Universe's awesomeness, there are tons of places for you to 'like' and 'follow' and otherwise stalk: the ATU Facebook fan page, ATU website, Beth Revis’ author website, her blog and her Twitter.

And, of course, the publisher--Penguin Teen's website, Twitter, & Facebook fan page


If--like me--you've won or pre-ordered ATU or decided to order it just now and can't wait to start reading, the fantastical io9 exclusively has a 111 page excerpt up to read from 11:11 am Eatern until 11:11pm Eastern today! How brilliant. Here is the link to io9

Buying links for Amazon, Borders, B&N, Indiebound, &Book Depository


(one handed typing is NO fun--and I am slow doing it!)

Contest Winners!!!!

The contest winners for both Carrie Jones' Entice and Alyxandra Harvey's Out for Blood have been selected and emailed . . .

Adeola won Entice
and
Aurora M. won Out for Blood


congratulations to both of you!! If you didn't win, I hope you'll still read the books because they really are great :)

(now for some more ice for my sprained wrist/hand so I can get back to normal typing/updating/reviewing...grrr)

Monday, January 3, 2011

Unearthly ~ Cynthia Hand review

Unearthly
HarperTeen
January 4, 2011
448 pages
Buy/info at Amazon


Clara is not only a teenage girl dealing with the usual teenage girl struggles, she's also a Quartarius--one quarter angel. Thankfully for Clara her mother is a half angel and there to help her through coming into her angel-yness (her father's not around or any part angel).

Clara has started to have visions--well a vision, multiple times. The vision is there to tell her her 'purpose'. Every angel or angel-blood has a 'purpose', something they were put on Earth to do. After a while Clara is able to piece together the clues in her vision and knows where the event is going to take place.

Soon, the family-Clara, her mother and her brother Jeffrey are moving to Jackson Hole, Wyoming to help Clara fulfill her purpose.

On the first day of school she meets Christian--the boy at the center of her vision and their lives become linked. There's also Angela, the girl who possibly gives Clara a strange look during the classes' '3 Unique Facts About Me' exercise, Wendy--one of the self professed Invisibles who pretty much instantly becomes Clara's friend, and Tucker, Wendy's infuriating twin brother.

And, of course, there's Clara's need to learn how to be a Quartarius, to learn what being an angel-blood entails and just how she's meant to fulfill her purpose. All while being the New Girl at the same time.


Unearthly being about angels automatically made it different than the other, current paranormal stories, but Cynthia Hand's writing and imagination made it a different worth reading. Each of the characters had their own thing (or things) going on that made them interesting to read about and great additions to the story. I really loved that the setting was so fully utilized in this story, they didn't just live in some town because, the location inspired events in the story and was used almost as a character itself.

And I can't say enough for my love of the romance in this book. It was not solely a romance but the romantic relationship in Unearthly was better written than most I've read in books where there was no supernatural element or other plotline. Hand created two characters I was rooting for from the beginning all the way through to the end. I loved both of them and I loved them together.

The first few chapters of the book had me thinking it was just a really good book, but then when I picked it up again and it really got going, the story sucked me in and I couldn't put it down. (I had a cold and I kept thinking, 'Just a few more pages,' until I got up to take my cold medicine but the only getting up I did until the ending was to turn on a light!

The development, pacing, characters, plot, and mythos of Uneartlhy are all brilliant. I really can't wait to read more from Cynthia Hand and I applaud her for this fantastic debut.

a glorious 10/10


(read this both via NetGalley egalley and a print ARC I won from PitchDarkBooks)

Trickster's Girl ~ Hilari Bell review

Trickster's Girl
Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
January 3, 2011
288 pages
Buy/info @ Amazon


It's a century after 9/11 and the world--or at the least the US--is now a mix of Big Brother with everything more secure and a science-y Jetsons with vehicles that 'fly.' People might have found a way to prevent murders and track everyone's whereabouts, but they haven't found a way to heal the environmental troubles. In this new, sophisticated, advanced world, magic might be the only answer.

Yes, magic.

Kelsa's a teenager who understands the security of her world, but also that nothing can protect her from death. Her father has just died from cancer--a rising epidemic in society. It's just after his funeral when she's approached by an odd boy. He claims that the planet is dying--by human's doing--and that only magic, that he needs Kelsa's help with can save it.

Kelsa will have to travel far, far out of her comfort zone both to believe him and help him.


I went in to reading Trickster's Girl thinking it was going to be something other than what it was. I think I thought it was going to be more about the future, more of a dystopian novel where magic was a part of it. In a way, I suppose, that's what it was, but it also was not.

I actually found myself thinking quite a bit of the Buffy episode 'Pangs' while reading this (if anyone knows it, it's in Season Four, the one on Thanksgiving). **slight spoiler** There were shapeshifters in the book and there's a scene like that in the episode, too ;) The talk in the book of all the harm human's had caused the Earth reminded me of Willow's arguments in that episode, too. **end slight spoilers**

The beginning of the book was rather interesting, setting up some of the way the world worked in 2098 and how it was different from 2010 and how it was not. I also enjoyed meeting Kelsa and seeing how she was morning the loss of her father. (Not because it's enjoyable, but because it was well done and you also learned more about the society while learning about her grief.)

In the middle, things seemed to drag on for a little while. I understood what the characters were doing and why they were doing but it seemed to take a while for them to get from event from event. It also seemed like there was always something going wrong or side trips but not in a way that made things particularly interesting, but just for something else to do.

I was looking for more . . . ooomph with a lot of the book.

The ending was more enjoyable, again, than the middle and, as I believe this is a series--or at least has a sequel--I will read the next book, or at least give it a try, but I don't think I'll buy it.


**spoilers** This book is likely worth reading if only for the fact that it has shapeshifting Indian/Native American spirits in it. And things about ley lines and 'healing' the Earth after we humans have damaged it. I don't believe I've heard about or read any other books that have the same plot points. I think it could have been a stronger book, but it was unique and contained interesting and original (to YA fiction) ideas. **end spoilers**


6/10


read thanks to NetGalley

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Reminder!!

I was about to not have a post for 1/1/11--I don't think that should be allowed.

A reminder that my giveaway of Entice by Carrie Jones ends January 3 (Monday) at noon Eastern.

Enter Here
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