Monday, February 28, 2011

Fallen Grace ~ Mary Hooper ARC review

Fallen Grace
Bloomsbury USA Children's Books
February 1, 2011
320 pages
Amazon for buying/more info

Synopsis:

Grace Parkes is able to keep herself and her sister fed and housed--but just barely--by selling watercresses in the streets of London. Grace and her older sister, Lily, a 'simple' girl were orphaned a decade ago when their mother died and have been handed one trouble after another since then. Now, pregnant by less than pleasant circumstances Grace has given birth to a a stillborn baby.

It is what happens next, while Grace is following the midwife's advice to find a rich person's coffin to place her baby's body in (to avoid it being put in a pauper's grave) that will bring more to the girls' lives than they ever dreamed. Good and bad alike.


Review:

Fallen Grace was so much more than I had expected. I wanted to read it because I very much enjoy historical fiction and the time period and little bit of the plot I knew appealed to me. I ended up absolutely loving it.

Along with giving you readers a fantastic sense of Victorian London and what the time would have been like for someone who was not a wealthy upper-class woman, Mary Hooper's latest novel is full of quirky little details that readers likely would not know otherwise.

Grace and her sister Lily are both incredibly endearing and, thanks to chapters told from each girl's perspective, the reader feels an almost immediate connection with them--and their connection with each other. It's obvious how much the sisters care for each other and adds another enjoyable layer to the story.

Something I really didn't expect from Fallen Grace was the suspense, the incredible suspense.



Fallen Grace is the absolute best kind of historical fiction: the kind that works in interesting facts (and not just the large ones, but the little ones that actually are fun to know), gives you a marker of an actual historical event (if it's not about a major historical figure), all while involving characters and a plot that really draw readers in and get them hooked right from page one.


I'm definitely looking forward to reading more of not only Mary Hooper's past books, but also her future ones as well!



10/10


Author Interview with Mary Hooper:

What prompted writing your first historical fiction novel?
I had covered most problems that beset modern teenagers, and couldn't think what I was going to write about next. Then I came upon some material concerning the Great Plague in London (1665) and found it so fascinating I wanted to set a book during that period. Once I had started on historicals, they were so much more exciting to write than modern stuff that I decided that I would never write another modern story again. No Facebook, no iPods, no Blackberries, no Tablets! Instead, highwaymen, midwives, funeral mutes and searchers of the dead.

Do you think you'll ever write about more modern time periods (closer to modern times, but still historical fiction)?
I might get as close as World War II, but nothing newer than that.

If you could travel anywhere and to anytime in the world, where would it be?
Restoration London. But I'd have to be rich!

Are there any historical figure or time periods you particularly like reading about?
Every era has its own fascinations.

Is there any YA historical fiction that you think people should know about and be reading
There are lots of great YA historical fiction titles out there now. Let's get away from vampires and get real!


Thank you, Mary, for the interview!


Huge thank you to Kate at Bloomsbury for sending me the book for review--and setting up the interview!!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Jenna & Jonah's Fauxmance ~ Emily Franklin & Brendan Halpin review

Jenna & Jonah's Fauxmance
Walker Books for Young Readers
February 1, 2011
240 pages
Amazon for more info/to order

Jenna, played by Charlie Tracker, and Jonah, played by Fielding Withers (a stage name) have been in a fauxmance for years. What's a fauxmance you may ask? When two attractive young stars of a popular tween television show pretend to be madly in love with each other--much to the delight of fans and the press--that's a fauxmance. A faux romance.

Say what you will about Charlie and Fieldings acting on their show (it's a bit like Hannah Montana with the teen who's secretly a popstar), but no one's yet figured out Jenna and Jonah's big secret: they can't stand each other.

That's right, they might have all the moves down pat--they've even given some of them names--but really Jenna and Jonah want nothing more than to be rid of their relationship.

...And they just might have their chance now that the paparazzi seem to have found out their big secret! Charlie and Fielding are forced to hide out from, well, everyone and find out who they really are.


Jenna & Jonah's Fauxmance is one of those books where it's surprising that at least part of the idea hasn't really been done before (or if it has, I missed it) because it's so much fun! There are always actors or other celebrities that have TMZ, et al guessing 'Are they, or aren't they?' Now there's finally a book where everyone's guessing wrong....but on the actors' doing.

Besides there being the fun of Charlie (Jenna) and Fielding's (Jonah) animosity toward each other as things start, there's also a lot readers learn over the course of the book about Charlie and Fielding. We learn how they got to be the stars of a TV show--and why it may or may not be exactly what they want.

While this book is undoubtedly cute, it has substance as well. The characters and their relationships with each other develop right from page one on to the end.

Co-written by Emily Franklin and Brendan Halpin is an example of how a book by two authors can be even better than a book by one author. The chapters alternate between Charlie (Jenna) and Fielding's (Jonah) perspectives with, I am guessing, each author writing for the same character each time. Each character had their own distinctive voice and Charlie definitely saw Fielding differently than he saw himself, and vice versa, as well. It was little differences but things that seemed like a single author would have trouble getting entirely out of one characters head to write for the other. Basically, I loved that this was co-written.



9/10


thank you to Kate at Bloomsbury for sending me this book for review

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

LT Question

Question about LibraryThing:

Paid accountss just allow more than 200 books, right? Everything else is the same as a free account?

(my LT profile . . .)

The Transformation of Things ~ Jillian Cantor review

The Transformation of Things
Avon A
November 2, 2010
304 pages
Amazon for more info/to order

Jennifer Levenworth is getting her hair done when her world begins to come undone. The television in the salon is tuned to the news and it is from it that Jennifer learns that her husband, Will, the handsome young judge has been indicted on bribery charges.

Jen leaves the salon mid shampoo--hair still wet--sure that Will will tell her it's all some huge mistake.

Instead it looks like her husband just might be through with being a judge . . . and Jen might be done with being the well to do wife of a judge who runs fundraisers and plays tennis in the mornings. Whether she wants to be or not.

Forced to try to reconnect with the life she left behind when she and Will moved from Philadelphia to wealthy Deerfield, Jen also finds herself having strange dreams. Dreams where she's someone else. Living the life of her friends and family in these dreams, knowing, once she wakes up, things she shouldn't know if it's only a dream, Jen tries to discern what's happening.

And what this new life means for her marriage and for her.


The Transformation of Things (Jillian Cantor's first adult novel after the two YA novels The September Sisters and The Life of Glass) looks at Chuang Tzŭ/Zhuangzi's butterfly dream in which a man dreams he's a butterfly and when he wakes doesn't know if he's a man dreaming he's a butterfly or a butterfly dreaming he's a man.

(relevant paragraph below [starts with 'Last night..'])


Stefan Petrucha's Split (my review) used the same idea as its base so I thought it was really interesting to read a second novel with the same start but such a different plot.

I'll also admit to wondering for almost all of the book just how The Transformation of Things was going to play into Transformation. I understood that Jen was having the dreams that were insights into the lives of her close friends and family but the book seemed to be about her trying to get her life back together a lot more than it was about what the dreams really were.

It was getting really close to the end of the book and i was really wondering how things were going to be resolved so quickly.

When things were explained, I'm not sure I loved it. It made sense, it did work for the story, but I'm just not sure it's what I was looking for. This was almost a book that I wished I knew the end from the start or one that I might want to read again now that I know the end because I'm just really not sure how I feel about the ending. (Which is also why I took a little while to review this--I had to think about it!)

The ending aside, the rest of the book is a really enjoyable chicklit type of book with substance. Jen and Will are working on rebuilding their lives after what they thought was for sure suddenly disappears. Readers learn about their relationship from the start (including help from some of Jen's dreams). We also learn about Jen's friends and where she is with them now but how she's let some relationships slide and worked more on others.


7/10


received from LibraryThing's EarlyReviewers

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Deadly ~ Julie Chibbaro eARC review

Deadly
Atheneum
February 22, 2011
304 pages
Amazon for buying/other info


Sixteen-year-old Prudence Galewski lives in a time where girls are expected to go to school (if they do at all) only to learn how to be better wives and mothers or perhaps obtain a secretarial job. 1906 is also a time when typhoid and other disease outbreaks are quite common around New York (where Prudence lives).

With a father gone off to war--and missing for years now--and a brother who died before that, Prudence has seen death and despair. Instead of leaving her longing for the security of a husband and family much as her friends want, Prudence instead finds herself instead interested in disease.

She wants to find out what's causing people to get sick and prevent it.

When a job helping in the sciences presents itself, Prudence knows she's found her calling. And with Deadly based on the woman who became known as "Typhoid Mary," there's a lot for Prudence to investigate.


Told in diary form, Deadly is a unique look into not only what it was like to be a girl in 1906, but to be a girl who was a little different from the norm. It's also a look into what science was like in 1906 and what people believed and did.

I'll admit to not knowing anything about 'Typhoid Mary' before starting Deadly so I can't say what it would be like for a reader who did already know about typhoid and Mary, but I really enjoyed the book. There wasn't a breakdown of the sickness so you don't truly get a feel for what typhoid did to people but that works for the story being told through Prudence and her diary.

The little superstitions that people believed at the time, what was expected of girls, where science/biology was at the time really interested me and, I thought, added a lot to the story.

I think this would be a fantastic read for either history classes because even without exact, large events to match it to, Deadly really gives you a feel for the time with a character readers can connect with and relate to. I also think it'd be great for science classes because I found myself a lot more interested in the experiments I'd done in biology and looking through a microscope after reading this book and the 1906 perspective.

I think this book has some of Prudence's drawings included in it, but my egalley didn't include them so I can't review that part of the book--I'm definitely going to look for a finished copy and see, however!

Now a high reading level YA, could even be MG/YA but still very enjoyable for YA and older readers.


9/10


(read thanks to Simon & Schuster's Galley Grab)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Haven ~ Kristi Cook eARC review

Haven
Simon Pulse
February 22, 2011
416 pages
Buy/info @ Amazon

When her stepmother accepts a prestigious new job in New York, Violet has two choices, stay with her grandmother in Atlanta where she's lived her who life or move to New York with Patsy. Worried that her grandmother can't manage taking her on, Violet decides on New York--and a boarding school: Winterhaven.

The girl that even her friends would half jokingly call a 'freak,' Violet has been told she has a seizure disorder. Only Violet knows she doesn't actually have seizures, but psychic visions. Visions that are usually violent or dangerous and always involve someone close to her.

Violet hopes to have a fresh start at her new, beautiful, elite school outside of New York City. What she doesn't know is that no one at Winterhaven is going to be calling Violet a freak because Winterhaven is a school for those with psychic abilities.

In more ways than one, Violet is going to find a lot more than she expected at Winterhaven.


I've seen Winterhaven compared to Twilight but I think it's more like Evernight or even Dead Beautiful than Twilight. Also, Amazon once again has mega fun spoilers in its synopsis if you ask me!!)

Paranormal books set in boarding schools start out made of awesome for me and either go up or down from there so I do have to admit that I started this book with high expectations . . . and it mostly met them. I loved the introduction of the school and Violet's roommate and her friends.

There was some mystery with one or two characters and just what their role both in the story and with other characters was that added some intrigue--which I loved.

I missed some of the development between Violet and her romantic interest in the book. I would have liked to see more chemistry, I guess between them but I think some of that had to be left out for the rest of the story so I can easily forgive it. (I think I also have super high standards in that arena after reading a few books that really blew me away there!)

I also don't know if it was the layout of the eGalley but sometimes (time) transitions seemed to happen just one paragraph to the next with no breaks which was a little confusing . . . (if I see a finished copy I will try to check on that!)

The beginning of the book was a fast, engrossing read that really drew me in. Then, a little bit of the middle did go a little slower, but definitely stick with it because the ending (and middle/end) really gets going again and draws you right back in! Overall, I really did enjoy this book and hope for more from Kristi Cook!

8/10


Read thanks to Simon & Schuster's Galley Grab



(nb: the only thing I can figure for why there's a butterfly on the cover is because a [yellow]butterfly was flitting around my backyard for a long time while I was reading the middle/end-ish of the book . . . Other than that, I'm not sure.)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Rival ~ Sara Bennett Wealer review

Rival
HarperTeen
February 15, 2011
336 pages
Buy/info @ Amazon


There's Brooke the popular, "It" girl of her high school. Almost anyone does her bidding. And she hates it. All she really wants to do is use her singing voice to get herself back to New York--where her family lived before her father left her family for a male movie star.

Then there's Kathryn who's been a social outcast ever since Brooke punched her at a party junior year. Kathryn the overachiever--who's family has very little money--is also counting on her singing to get her out of their tiny Minnesota town, to college.

Brooke and Kathryn might rivals now but they used to be friends . . .

Tiny Lake Champion, Minnesota might not have much to offer two aspiring opera singers, but it does have the prestigious Blackmore competition. With entrants from all over the country and a prize that would bring them both the needed money and prestige to get where they want, Brooke and Kathryn are both looking to the Blackmore to save them.

These two former friends who are not bitter rivals will have to compete against each other on the biggest stage of their lives. And they just might find, again, that friendship they lost so suddenly the year before.


Rival doesn't rely on romance to propel it through to the end. It's not about horribly mean girls (while it does have some pretty mean ones) nor is it about crazy drunken or drug doing teens.


Rival is awesome because it is about two girls who used to be friends until something drove them apart. That something isn't revealed right away, but while the story alternates between Junior and Senior years we see Brooke and Kathryn as they are now and as they were as friends. While Rival does show how cruel girls can be, it's not the sole focus of the story--and it is realistic.

I love how much of the book is about the girls' singing and their ambitions. Anyone who did anything with theatre or chorus, etc in school--or just likes watching Glee!--should love Rival for this aspect alone. I think having the music/singing be so much the focus brings a unique aspect to Rival. Not only does it give the book something very unique, but it gives Brooke and Kathryn something in common and keeps them together throughout the story.

Friendship (or lack thereof) really drives Rival and it was really refreshing to read a book that wasn't about girls going gaga over a boy or debating the best way to get a date. It's not that Rival is innocent . . . it just focuses on a part of life that exists and is important but seems to get overlooked in books.

(There is still some romance in Rival, however, and I absolutely, absolutely love it! Love the main male character, as well.)

9/10


Thank you to the publisher for my copy of this book.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Girl Who Became a Beatle ~ Greg Taylor ARC review

The Who Became a Beatle
Feiwel & Friends
February 15, 2011
288 pages
Buy/info @ Amazon


At some point, we've all probably made an off hand wish or two (or fifty) that, if it actually came true, would drastically change our lives.

For Regina Bloomsbury, that wish is : “I wish I could be as famous as the Beatles.”

Lead singer of The Caverns and absolutely all about music, Regina's world is falling apart when she makes her wish--or really, her remark; two of the band's other three members are threatening to leave the Caverns for a rival band. Not knowing what to do to save her band, Beatles lover Regina, goes to sleep in her Beatles memorabilia filled bedroom depressed and disheartened . . .

. . . Only to wake up the next morning to a completely different world.

A world where Regina is not only as popular as the Beatles, her band has replaced the Beatles in history.

Can Regina deal with this new world where everyone but her seems at home and no one else knows that she doesn't belong? Or is Regina going to need to find a way back to her world--the one where the Caverns are falling apart and the Beatles reign supreme?

Who would have thought that becoming the world's mot famous rock band might not be everything she ever wanted . . .


I really, really love the concept of this book. You don't have to love the Beatles, have your own band, or be obsessed with music like Regina to understand her 'wish' or to understand how she could like her new glamorous lifestyle--and find it challenging.

You also don't have to like the Beatles to enjoy this book. There's quite a bit of reference to the Beatles, their songs, and even some of their performances, but none of it's obscure enough or lacking in explanation enough that you need to already know those things to get them. It's likely that if you do already know a ton about the Beatles or you're a fan that you'll enjoy the book more, but not won't take anything away from the book for readers.

In the first few chapters, Regina read like an adults idea of a teenager, but that quickly changed and I started to enjoy her and her music and Beatles love . . . and her struggles.

The plot was a lot more complex than I had expected and very well imagined. I don't know that I would have read this book if I'd just seen it at the library or bookstore so I'm really glad I won a copy of the galley from the publisher because I very, very much enjoyed it.

8/10





won an advanced copy from the publisher

Angelfire ~ Courtney Allison Moulton ARC review

Angelfire (Angelfire #1)
Katherine Tegan Books
February 15, 2011
464 pages
Buy/info @ Amazon

Ellie is having nightmares every night. Nightmares she pretends to her parents have gone away. Nightmares of monsters, terrifying creatures attacking her.

Now, with the appearance of 'just call me Will," a mysterious boy who seems to show up out of nowhere, Ellie's nightmares seems to be coming to life. At first she's able to convince herself the nightmares are sill just that, dreams but soon she has to face that fact that they're actually happening.

Will hasn't started appearing in her nightmares, her nightmares have become real. Will, a teen boy she feels like she already knows awakens an ancient power inside Ellie.

Ellie is more than just a wealthy teenage girl shopping for designer dresses for her seventeenth birthday party and anxiously awaiting the new car she's going to get for said birthday. The car isn't the only thing Ellie's going to get on her birthday--Will is also going to return her powers on her birthday. Powers that will awaken lifetimes of memories reminding her how she's the one powerful enough to kill the creatures lurking in the dark lately, the same ones from her nightmares. The ones that happen to be very, very real.


Angelfire has a lot of lore in it (think season five and six of Supernatural, maybe) which--for whatever reason-is making it hard for me to summarize . . .

It's really kind of great because of that, though, because it takes an average girl, a la Buffy, who enjoys being popular and spending time with her friends, throws in this mysterious, kind of enchanting supernatural-y guy with big news of 'you're not exactly average.'

Then now-not-so-average-girl has to figure out being the one girl who can fight these big nasty things with being the fun teenage girl with friends and things to do. All this while trying to learn this ins and outs of the world no one else knows exists, who's the biggest bad and how to stop them from killing her and Mr Mysterious Guy . . . who just might present romance potential.

See, kind of like Buffy in the big points. But really different when reading/watching :)

I really liked that Ellie was a fun girl who loved her pretty dresses and parties while this was a supernatural book. It might just be my reading choices but a lot of books seem to have girls that are able to fight (even with powers given to them) hate fashion or anything girly.

The evil beings having hierarchy and names, etc. reminded me of Supernatural here, but I loved it because a) I love Supernatural (hey, I do!) and b) it helped me keep some of it straight--I'm really hoping some of this is recapped in book two because I don't know if I'll remember all of it!

One aspect of the story also had me really wanting to rewatch a certain season of Angel!

While I have compared this book (or at least parts of it) to Buffy, Supernatural, and Angel, don't think that Angelfire is only a mash-up of existent paranormal TV shows put into book form. Angelfire is still very original and highly creative. In fact, if you enjoy any of those TV shows, you've lucked out because now there's a book series you'll enjoy!

Really looking forward to book 2 in this series!

8/10


(won an ARC from PitchDarkBooks on Twitter!)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Waiting On Wednesday

It's a little late in the day but since it's still Wednesday, I didn't want to miss this week (I've missed far, far too many!!).

One of the many, many books I'm very interested in reading is Illegal by 2011 debut author Bettina Restrepo

The summary from Goodreads:


Nora is on a desperate journey far away from home. When her father leaves their beloved Mexico in search of work, Nora fights to make sense of her loss while waiting for her father’s return and a better day. When the letters and money from her father stop coming, Nora decides that she and her mother must look for him in Texas. After a harrowing experience crossing the border, the two are all alone in a strange place called Houston. Now, Nora figures out how to survive while still aching for small comforts: friends, a new school, and a quinceañera to mark her fifteenth birthday.

Bettina Restrepo’s powerful and deeply hopeful debut novel captures the challenges of one girl’s unique yet universal immigrant experience
This sounds like not only a great story, but also a very timely one. I hope people will give it notice and read it. Hopefully I'll be able to read it soon and it will be as great as it sounds :)

info and pre-ordering on Amazon

Illegal will be published by Katherine Tegan (a Harper imprint) on March 8.

Mad Love ~ Suzanne Selfors review + interview

(Interview after the review!)

Mad Love
Walker Books for Young Readers
January 4, 2011
336 pages
Buy/info @ Amazon

Alice Amorous isn't only the daughter of the Queen of Romance, she's the daughter of a woman secretly hospitalized for mental illness. Most would expect Amorous, the author of dozens of hit romance novels and her teenage daughter to be living the high life--and Alice wants them to keep on doing so.

Only a handful of people know the truth about Alice's mother and its getting harder and harder for her to keep it that way. Alice has been just able to manage everything in her mother's absence, but now the Queen of Romance's next book is overdue and Alice needs a story.And fast.


Enter Cupid. Or a boy, named Errol, who seems awfully convinced that he is Cupid. A boy who says he has a story to tell Alice--the greatest love story ever, that of his love with Psyche.

After trying to fend off the weird boy, all while working on figuring out what to do with the cute boy she sees every day, Alice starts hearing his voice in her head. And she knows one thing for certain: either she's more like her mother than she'd like . . . or Errol might not be so odd.


Mad Love is an interesting blend of a mostly contemporary YA with just enough fantasy to satisfy those readers that need that little fantasy kick but not put off readers that don't usually read fantasy. It's also not nearly as lighthearted as I expected it to be--but it's cute and fun so it never feels weighted down, either.

I'm really happy to see Young Adult books broaching the subject of mental illness as a part of life and not just a mythical thing -- and even happier at how well and kindly it's being done. The fact that Alice's mother is ill is dealt with by her throughout the book and I really enjoyed watching that part of her grow.

The secondary characters in Mad Love were each very interesting in their own right. They weren't cookie cutter, expectable characters, nor were they expectable in their unique, quirkyness. I appreciated each of them for what they added to the story.

I would have to say that the only let down in both the plot and characters, for me, was with Errol. For being such a large part of the story, I would have liked to have seen him developed more. So, so much was done with Alice (obviously, given that she as the main character) and I connected much more with the other characters than I did with Errol. I really do think that was the only placed where I wished for a little 'more.'

I am moving Coffeehouse Angel up my 'to read' list now for sure.

Rating: 9/10



Interview with Suzanne Selfors
(author of Mad Love and also the YAs Coffeehouse Angel and Saving Juliet):


How do you think you would react if someone came up to you and said they were Cupid?
I'd probably react the same way Alice did--I'd think the guy was nuts. Of course, I'd need proof. I write about magic but that's entirely different than believing in it--though wouldn't it be nice to be able to conjure a love spell now and then?

Do you have a favorite fictionalizations of Cupid? (other than your own!)
I was a huge fan of that campy show, Zena: Warrior Princess, and I remember a really funny version of Cupid from that show. He looked like a suntanned blonde Ken doll. My version is a bit, well, a bit earthier.

What was it like working on The Novel: Live? Do you think you would enjoy co-writing a book (with one other author?)
What an amazing group of writers. I was so lucky to be invited to join, being I'm still an unknown. But I admit I was a bit scared to write live. It's like getting dressed in front of people. But I think everyone understood that we were creating a first draft and that took some pressure off. I would enjoy co-writing a book, and I've thought about it. Time is hectic right now, since I'm writing for two publishers, but it's on my radar as a possible future project.

Are there any new/recent YA books or authors that you really enjoy?
It's not a new book, but I recently read Nancy Farmer's The House of the Scorpion and loved it. Thanks for the interview.


Thank you, Suzanne, for the interview!! I now have a new book on my TBR list . . . and a hope of a possible future co-written book!

I hope everyone enjoys reading Suzanne's answers--please think about leaving her (or me) a comment :)




If somehow, you're still not sure, HERE is a link to the book trailer on YouTube


very big thank you to Kate at Bloomsbury for arranging the interview (and book tour) and sending me the book to read and review!!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Desires of the Dead ~ Kimberly Derting ARC review

synopsis, review and (obviously) book have mega spoilers for the first book, The Body Finder, so just read that one if you haven't yet!! (my review is here)

Desires of the Dead (Body Finder #2)
Harper
February 15, 2011
368 pages
buy/info @ Amazon


Violet and her town are finally safe from the serial killer abducting and killing teenage girls--who even tried to kill Violet. But she's not safe from her 'gift,' her ability to sense and locate dead beings and match their killers to them.

On a day with one of her friends, a day just trying to be a normal teenage girl--as Jay is still the only one of her friends who knows what she can do--she comes across another echo, another body calling to her.

It's her discovery of this body that brings Violet under the notice of the FBI and threatens to make what she does not so secret anymore.

Violet has no idea who to go to with this new development--she would have gone to Jay, but now that they're dating things seem different and anyway, he's always spending time with his new best friend Mike.

With everything seemingly coming apart around her, Violet starts looking into Mike's more than tragic family past--and wondering how and when everything went so wrong. And how to fix it.


Desires of the Dead is interesting because it both expands the story from what The Body Finder focused on (moving out from just Jay, the girls and Violet, her family and the murders to more characters and more locales) but also becoming more focused. Desires of the Dead, logically looks more at Violet and her ability and what that would logically mean for someone in more of the long run. What it would mean if you found bodies, if someone found out, how someone would try to leverage that or you.

Because neither of those things loses anything or is weak so that the other can be strong, I think that Desires of the Dead might even be a stronger book than The Body Finder. The characters are still great. The new characters add a lot to the story; and there's depth to them that adds to the plot as well.

Violet and Jay aren't left in flux nor are they just coasting along so that everything else can be developed. Things aren't given conflict for conflicts sake, either.

The fact that Violet and her 'ability' were taken to another level really made this story realistic even when in one sense it's not.


10/10 for this . . . and when oh when can I find out about more either from Kimberly Derting and/or in this series!!!

won this from PitchDark books on Twitter!


(also I know there's something in my summary that's off from the first book but I didn't want people just glancing at it to see it and spoil themselves for the first book . . . even if I did have a warning!)

The Body Finder ~ Kimberly Derting review

The Body Finder (#1)
HarperTeen
March 16, 2011
336 pages
Buy/info @ Amazon (hardcover) [& out today in paperback]

(also for a limited time, releasing Feb 22, The Body Finder along with a preview of Desires of the Dead is $1.99 for Kindle, NOOK, [and possibly others])


Violet has been drawn to dead bodies for as long as she can remember. The echoes of their death call to her. Until she's laid them peacefully, properly to rest.

After discovering--and digging up--the body of a dead girl while in elementary school, Violet knows that it's not only assorted animals she has the possibility of unearthing.

An end of summer day on the water with friends is supposed to be fun until Violet feels that familiar tug again . . . and this time she doesn't think it's going to be someone's dog gone astray.


Violet finds a murdered girl at the lake that day. And soon she isn't the only girl who's murderer that town is trying to find.

A murder Violet may be uniquely able to help find. Not only does she feel the echoes that the dead leave, she feels the imprint those dead leave on their killers--a sort of match game no one else can play.


The Body Finder seems to stand alone in being a beautifully written YA novel that does its characters justice, develops their relationships, builds a mystery, absolutely creeps the reader out, has more than a little suspense--and works at solving a crime, too! Anyone who loves police or crime shows on TV should really, really love Kimberly Derting's book. And if you want to love crime drama books but there's just too much gore in them, this one's perfect because there's still violence but every page isn't covered in blood.


Of course, that's not to say that it's not able to be as creepy or scary as any adult crime/thriller book . . . possibly even more so.

All of this is all while giving readers real characters in high school with believable relationships that they'll not only connect to but be routing for at the end.

The Body Finder will likely creep you out along the way but you won't be able to put it down anyway, so that's okay. And be sure you have Desires of the Dead (out today) on hand when you're finished . . . no way will you be able to stop after just one book!


10/10


(assuming my computer continues semi-cooperating, my Desires of the Dead review is coming in just a few minutes)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Cryer's Cross ~ Lisa McMann ARC review

Cryer's Cross
Simon Pulse
February 8, 2011
240 Pages
Amazon

Dear Amazon Synopsis for Cryer's Cross,
It is my opinion that you give far, far too much of the book away and I am very glad I read you after reading the book. I am going to suggest, though, that people not read you because I find you mega-spoilery!
Sincerely,
Book Sp(l)ot Reviews


Now that's out of the way . . . Cryer's Cross is Lisa McMann's fourth book and the first not in the Wake series. Main character, Kendall lives in teeny, tiny (pop. 212) Cryer's Cross, Montana. The entire town--including Kendall and her best friend--are still dealing with the disappearance the previous spring of Tiffany Quinn, a teen in the town.

Everyone searched for days for Tiffany but nothing was found and life had to get back to normal. Now, with everyone back in school, things are different, Tiffany's absence, her empty desk, are more noticeable.

No one notices the empty spot more than Kendall. Her OCD leaves her wanting things orderly and consistent and the possibility of an empty desk has her worried.

The new year gives Kendall something new and different to worry about, however, when two new students show up. Not only does the girl, Marlena fill Tiffany's empty desk, her brother proves to be a great annoyance to Kendall.

Unable to even find solace in soccer, the place she's able to forget her OCD and let go, as Jacian proves to be quite the player. The only thing keeping Kendall's life sane is her friendship with Nico and the promise of college coming son.

Until Nico, too, soon disappears.

In such a small town, the disappearance of two teens is unheard of and soon raises not only the anxiety of the residents, but the interest of the national media.

While dealing with the disappearance of her best--and usually, only--friend, Kendall will try to find who--or what--has taken both Tiffany and now Nico.


As a horror story, Cryer's Cross never quite made it for me--it just wasn't creepy or scary. I still really enjoyed the book. Kendall's OCD was built into the story and used as a part of the plot and not just something for one of the characters to have to make things more interesting. Jacian and Marlena were also a great addition to the story and I loved that they were much more than one dimensional side characters.

The characters were really what made this book. Each had something (or some somethings) that made them different from the typical YA book characters but it never seemed like they were being made different just for the sake of difference.

I would have liked a little more creepiness in Cryer's Cross or even suspense, but not if it meant taking anything away from any of the characters.

Despite the lack of horror/scary, the plot unfolded fairly well and kept me reading to see how things would end. I enjoyed the ending and the fact that it wasn't obvious but also didn't spring up out of nowhere, either.

For the great characters, but lack (for me!) of suspense/tension/scariness:

7/10


(read thanks to GalleyGrab)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Delirium ~ Lauren Oliver review

Delirium
HarperTeen
February 1, 2011
448 pages
Amazon

Seventeen-year-old Lena is just three months (ninety five days if you want to be exact, which she does) away from her procedure. The procedure that will save and/or cure her of deliria nervosa--something we currently know as love.

Love is seen as a disease in Lena's world, something to be feared and avoided at all costs. The cure is celebrated and people who lived in before there was a cure are pitied. Delirium is slightly similar to Matched in that there's a world the main character lives in where she believes herself to be happy, an outside world of rarely (if ever) acknowledged people who don't follow the rules of the society, people are paired together for marriage, and there's an unexpected romance that blossoms that brings the character to certain realizations.

Delirium is a fantastic tale, very much worth reading because even if it might have some things in common with Matched it is very much its own book with its own characters and story.


And of all the dystopians published recently, Delirium has probably the most frightening idea of a future society: one that has (all but) eradicated love. And while people have arranged marriages of a sort and count themselves lucky if they never fall in love (as love is a disease), it's not just romantic love they are proud to be rid of, either. Mothers and fathers no longer feel any true affection for their children, siblings can't say they love each other and are distant once they've had their procedure.

Words obviously get you in trouble, but actions will also betray you as not truly 'cured' as well.

A cure that Lena was absolutely sure she wanted, was sure was the right thing until she met Alex and he turned her view of things on its head.


Now, as Lena journeys toward the date of her procedure, readers will go along with her as she discovers more about her world, where she comes from, and maybe where--and who--it is she wants to be at the end.



10/10



read thanks to NetGalley and the publisher
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