Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Witches of East End ~ Melissa de la Cruz (arc) review

Witches of East End (Beauchamp Family #1)
Hyperion
June 21, 2011
288 pages
Goodreads/Amazon

Witches of East End is author Melissa de la Cruz's first novel for adults, following her best-selling young adult Blue Bloods series. Joanna Beauchamp and her two daughters Freya and Ingrid and witches living in North Hampton on Long Island . . . witches that have gone centuries without being allowed to practice their magic.

Joanna can't bring people back from the dead or heal them, Ingrid is banned from predicting the future and weaving her knots, and Freya is unable to make her charms and potions.

After centuries, though, these women, who the town doesn't know are witches, each find themselves in a situation where they decide to try using their magic again. Soon they're each practicing again and all is well until a woman goes missing.

The Beauchamp women know it's time to uncover who and what is working against them.


During the first part of the book I wasn't sure if I was already supposed to know these characters, if they had been introduced somewhere else (be it a Blue Bloods book or somewhere else). I felt like the reader just wasn't quite getting the whole story. It felt like we started in the middle of something (and I don't mean the prologue) and went forward without the past explained at all until nearly the end. I think that may have been the plan, though, as this is a series, to slowly reveal the family's history and story and it was just a little too slowly to really engage me (or something).

Witches can be either be an older YA book (with, it should be noted, more than a fair amount of graphic sex) or an adult book. I'm not sure how much the story or the characters overlap with the Blue Bloods series - it was what appealed to me at first, I like the Blue Bloods series, but I"m behind in it - but a few of the characters do appear.

Blue Bloods readers should note however that Witches is more grown up and aimed at a more adult audience than the YA series.

Non Blue Bloods readers or fans don't have to despair, though, the character appearance was small, it was explained who they were and I didn't remember much at all of the Blue Bloods story and did just fine.


The relationship between Ingrid and Freya was nice in this first book, though, given how long they've been sisters/around, I do hope some more of it is developed in the next novels.

This is the first in the series and we now know what everyone can do, the basic gist of how they got to North Hampton, what they're doing now, and the side characters. We still don't know some of the back story and probably the bigger events in their lives (or the finer points of those events) so I hope some of that shows up in future books along with more exploration of interpersonal relationships.


7/10

(won from LibraryThing's Early Reviewers)

Friday, August 26, 2011

Hurricanes

Here's what you'll need for getting through a hurricane*:

Water!
Lots of water to drink but also water (you can fill up a bathtub or something) to flush your toilets, etc if the water gets shut off/breaks somewhere. (You'll appreciate it much more than you think.)

Food
It's great if you have a gas stove because those stay on even if your electricity goes off. If not, gas grills are helpful . . . once they outside's not trying to blow you away! No using grills inside!

That's all kinds of dangerous.

Dogs
Dogs might need something to calm them down when a hurricane comes. Tranquilizers (not the kind they shoot bears with when they climb telephone poles, very mild ones) are available from vets and Thundershirts are excellent for calming down anxious dogs. Also, be careful if you have to let them out while it's still windy/crazy rainy. If you have to evacuate anywhere make sure you have them, all their info and things they'll need (food, any medicine, etc.) (I have no idea how cats react to hurricanes.)

Chainsaws
It may sound obvious, but don't use chainsaws. A lot of people use chainsaws to clean up after hurricanes and more people seem to get hurt/killed cleaning up from hurricanes than do from the actual hurricane.

Extracurricular Activities
Make sure you have lots of candles, book lights and flashlights (a crankable weather radio with flashlight, cell charger, etc is great for here) in case there're no lights. The weather radio'll also give you updates on the storm.

What's important to keep from going stir crazy, though and here's where the BOOK INFO comes in, is that you have some books to read, too (and maybe some playing cards)!!

Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer is the first in a trilogy about a meteor shower hitting the moon, knocking it off its axis and closer to Earth. A family in the New York area struggle to survive as volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and more devastate the US. (The Dead and the Gone is book two; This World We Live In book three.)


Hurricane: A Novel from Amazon: Based on Hurricane Mitch's devastation of Honduras in 1998, Terry Trueman's powerful story is about a young boy's fear and courage in the face of a force of nature too huge to even imagine (I apparently reviewed this for FirstReads but didn't save my review. It's more MG than YA but a good book.


Or, if you're not like me and don't like the outside to set the mood for what you're reading
(I read Trapped by Michael Northrop during a huge snowstorm while I was freezing under a pile of blankets!), some great books I've read recently are:

So Much Closer by Susane Colasanti (review)

Die for Me by Amy Plum (review)

Putting Makeup on Dead People by Jen Violi (review)

Between by Jessica Warman (review)

The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter (review)

Hourglass by Myra McEntire (review)


Most, if not all of these are available for Nook and/or Kindle - and remember using those with wifi off makes them last for a crazy long time :)


*disclaimer: please actually check some disaster preparedness site and don't just rely on me and my experience/memory to tell you!!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Day Before ~ Lisa Schroeder (eARC) review

The Day Before
SimonPulse
June 28, 2011
320 pages
Goodreads/Amazon


The Day Before by Lisa Schroeder is a beautiful example of what a YA verse novel can be. Amber wants to spend The Day Before alone, by herself. So she takes off for the beach leaving only notes for her family to tell them that she’ll be back later, in time.

With her life gradually no longer under her control, she wants a day that’s just her. Not a day dictated by the rules or her parents, or by anyone.

But then she meets Cade. With their instant attraction, soon Amber and Cade are spending more and more of the day together.

Deciding to spend a perfect day together: no talk of the past, no regrets, and no fear, the two soon learn things about each other anyway.

And Amber learns that while she’s living for the moment, for the perfect Day Before, Cade’s living each moment like it’s his last—and she’s becoming more and more worried for him.


Told in beautiful verse, The Day Before lets you a little bit more into the characters’ lives with each line.

We might not know what The Day Before is actually the day before for a while, but we gradually learn the situation. And, not knowing the situation, readers connect first with Amber’s reaction to what’s happening and then form their own reaction or opinion to it once they know the facts.

This is a case where not knowing the whole story really brings you closer to the character.

The relationship between the two characters, short though it may be, is just about perfect, too. Each has their own baggage that they bring to the Day making things interesting.

Even with the stories that each character had – both of which could have written to play up the drama, seem unrealistic – the entire novel was incredibly realistic, true to life. This book will leave you wanting to read the rest of Ms Schroeder’s writing if you haven’t aleady.

9/10

(read thanks to GalleyGrab)

soundtrack: Glitter In The Air by P!nk (kind of need to own/have this to listen to for reading The Day Before)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Buffy Season 8 Vols 4 & 5 ~ Joss Whedon, et al reviews

Time of Your Life (Vol. 4)
Joss Whedon (Author), Jeff Loeb (Author), Karl Moline (Illustrator), Andy Owens (Illustrator), Eric Wight (Illustrator)
Dark Horse
May 19, 2009
136 pages
Goodreads/Amazon


In Volume 4 of Buffy Season 8, Time of Your Life, Buffy travels (not on purpose) 200 years into the future and meets Fray, a Slayer there. Time of Your Life’s plot is about the two of them and Buffy helping Fray fight baddies and save herself –and Buffy get herself back to the present.


If you don’t read Fray or know about it already (which I did not), this will be one confusing read. There is slang that Fray uses that confuses Buffy (and unsuspecting readers) making these issues hard to understand. Buffy, and unfamiliar readers alike are thrown into a confusing world.


The art doesn’t help much, either. It’d beautiful but doesn’t work well for Buffy. Fray’s sister looks more like Buffy usually does than Time of Your Life’s Buffy does. And a big reveal at the end is slightly spoiled because it’s hard to be sure how the character actually is.


Another storyline with Dawn is interesting because we get to learn more about why she’s a giant. And it fits with the usually Buffy rules (and the consequences characters usually face).

This volume really lost me, however. It left me wondering where the girl power I love Buffy for has gone. We’ve seen some naked (or almost) girls but I really want some of that girl power back, please.


5/10


Predators and Prey (Vol. 5)
Joss Whedon (Author), Jane Espenson (Author), Steven S. DeKnight (Author), Drew Z. Greenberg (Author), Jim Krueger (Author), Doug Petrie (Author), Georges Jeanty (Illustrator), Cliff Richards (Illustrator)
Dark Horse Comics
October 7, 2009
144 pages
Goodreads/Amazon


Predators and Prey: Buffy Season 8 Volume 5 was probably the least realistic, strangest, and most out-there volume so far . . . and also the one I enjoyed most. Go figure. Without giving too much away, Harmony gets a The Hills-esque reality show, Slayers become hated, evil robotic toy vampires are discovered, a haven for Slayers may or may not be what it seems, Buffy and Andrew have to work together to find a group of rogue Slayers, and Buffy has to help Dawn (again).

See, kind of crazy – and I left some stuff out.

This volume is definitely not trying to do things that could be on a show, it’s taking full advantage of it’s medium. And for this instance, at least, it works.

Both Harmony and Kennedy (who I didn’t recognize for a bit – again I’m having some trouble recognizing characters in their comic form) were much less annoying than I found them on the show. I think my reaction to Harmony was due to her different location, etc. Kennedy however might have been different than on the show.

The evil robot vamps cats wanting to eat the girls’ ovaries (seriously) brings me back to the girl power thing (the lack thereof), though. I don’t know if this is supposed to be some reverse girl power thing. But having one of your ‘villains’ want to eat the Slayers’ ovaries is … I don’t even know.

Buffy and Andrew’s trip seemed to be back to Slayer Buffy and I really liked that. The story with Faith once again required you to know Faith’s back-story to really understand and enjoy it.

“Living Doll” was a bit creepy and didn’t do that much, but it was a nice resolution for Dawn. I also enjoyed the artwork there.


8/10

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Line ~ Teri Hall review

The Line (Line #1)
Dial (Speak for pb)
March 4, 2010
224 pages
Goodreads/Amazon - I read the hardcover, but paperback came out in April




The Line
by Teri Hall is a book that gets better and better and better until a conclusion that will leave you flipping the last page back and forth sure there has to be more. Rachel and her mother live on an estate, The Property, that borders the Line. Her mother is Ms Moore's housekeeper and Rachel works with the orchids in the greenhouse and does her schooling with her mother at night.

All of this, though, leaves enough free time for Rachel to be plenty curious about the Line and those that live Away on the other side. The Line has been maintained as a tangible border around the US since the Korusal dropped bombs. The Others are trapped on the other side of the Line but Rachel's time that's just that.

That doesn't stop Rachel from wondering, especially living as close to the Line as she does. A curiosity that's only heightened when she receives a messages from the Others asking for help.

Is there a way for Rachel to help the Others? And not get caught and punished?


Rachel's attempt - or at least desire - to help those in Away brings to light a lot of the history and secrets of how everything got to how it is (with Away and the Line and Others). It's a great way of telling the story and history without it making it seem like a The Line history lesson.

It's fantastic the way The Line slowly unravels. In the beginning it's an interesting tale that you are, okay, kind of invested in but as you read you get more and more into the plot and the characters and wanting to know what happened.

By the end I'd decided I love this book and wanted to tell everyone to read it if they hadn't already!! (And find one of those stress balls, it has one crazy cliffhanger ending - it's why I'm posting this now actually, the second book comes out on the 15th so I'm giving you less time to go crazy waiting on what happens.)

Books that slowly unfold and unveil their story as you go are something that can really be a pleasure to read. (Hard to summarize and even review sometimes - but a great joy to read.)

The Line doesn't focus solely on Rachel so while readers do get to know her and she's well developed this isn't a character study book. Rachel's mother, Ms Moore, and Rachel are all important characters in The Line and the world they live in is used to tell their stories, too.

I am looking forward to more of the characters in the next book now that we know things about them and seeing how they grow and develop.

I really can't wait for September 15th when the second book comes out and I can see where the characters and the story progresses.

10/10

(won this from LibraryThing's Member Giveaways)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Putting Makeup on Dead People ~ Jen Violi review

Putting Makeup on Dead People
Hyperion Book CH
May 24, 2011
336 pages
Goodreads/Amazon


Putting Makeup on Dead People is a debut, by Jen Violi, that should have gotten so much more attention—so much more. Since her father’s death four years earlier, Donna has been just going through the motions; isolated from everyone with no real friends, without a real relationship with her mother, and with no idea what she wants to do after high school’s over.


That all changes, though, while at a classmates funeral. Standing by the coffin, Donna realizes there just might be something for her, comforting people in death. She just might want to be a mortician.

The discovery sets Donna’s new life in motion. She makes friends with a new student, notices a boy – who might be noticing her, too – and throws herself into mortuary studies. Despite what her mother will think.

By taking risks and doing what she really wants, Donna looks to discover who she really is – the girl who was hidden under all that grief for the past several years.


Putting Makeup on Dead People is a novel about transformation and self-discovery in possibly the most unique guise I’ve ever seen (or, rather, read). Jen Violi has found a super innovative way of dealing with death, grief, and moving on. It’s easy to get so wrapped in the story of what Donna wants to do, what she is doing, that you don’t realize it’s a story about her growth – it becomes simply a story about Donna.

Violi writes Putting Makeup so well that her prose seems easy. It just flows. Nothing’s choppy or stumbles. It’s …easy.

I really loved that Donna wanted to be something unique (to her and the characters) that actually was unique. There are times when someone in a book wants to be something that is supposed to be terribly different but really they just don’t want to be a doctor or a lawyer, etc. Donna wanting to be a mortician actually is a bit different and I enjoyed that. I also enjoyed that it wasn’t treated as a joke and was researched, treated with respect.

Jen Violi’s debut was definitely a lot more under the radar than most its season/year but definitely not due to its quality.

10/10

Monday, August 15, 2011

Buffy Season 8 Vols 2 & 3 ~ Joss Whedon, et al reviews

No Future for You
Brian K. Vaughan (Author), Joss Whedon (Author); Georges Jeanty (Illustrator), Cliff Richards (Illustrator), Jo Chen (Illustrator)
Dark Horse Comics
June 11, 2008
120 pages
Goodreads/Amazon (Bargain Price right now)

No Future for You: Buffy Season 8 Volume 2 is all about Faith. It’s hard to summarize these without giving spoilers so my synopsis will be super short: Giles approaches Faith about a new Slayer who has been killing other Slayers. He tells Faith that if she kills that murderous Slayer, he, Giles, will give her the money to go wherever she wants.


Faith accepts and we see her go on the mission – and what she learns about the girl as well as what memories (flashbacks, really) it brings up of Faith’s life.

It’s still (as in Volume 1) really necessary to have seen the show – or at least somehow know what happened – to truly understand and get these storylines. A lot of Faith’s past pops up, in flashbacks, and without knowing her story, readers won’t get what they are.

It was nice to see more of Faith explored. Fans of hers will especially like to see more of her. Volume 2 contains No Future for You Numbers 6 through 9 so it’s four parts of Faith. The last part of Volume 2 is Anywhere But Here, involving Willow and Buffy as well as Xander and Dawn.

Anywhere But Here is not part of the arc of the earlier parts but does provide some answers that help the series overall.

Art wise, in some of the flashbacks, it was slightly difficult to tell who a few of the characters were – tell them apart. The dialogue, though, was true to the characters and it was nice to see an arc over several of the issues.



Wolves at the Gate (Vol. 3)
Drew Goddard (Author), Joss Whedon (Author), Georges Jeanty (Illustrator), Jo Chen (Illustrator)
Dark Horse Comics
November 12, 2008
136 pages
Goodreads/Amazon


Volume 3 starts with the one shot “A Beautiful Sunset” and then has the four issue, “Wolves at the Gate” that finishes the volume.

Wolves at the Gate got back to the Buffy TV concept of having a Big Bad with Buffy having a confrontation with the Twilight, a mysterious villain in the first installment.

Then things get . . . interesting with a relationship that comes out of seemingly nowhere.

And then it’s story arc time again with the Wolves at Gate four issues. Old characters come back to help the new gang (much, much bigger and much more well-armed than the old ‘gang’) fight the baddies of this volume.

Volume 3 is much more like the television series (if they’d had a gigantic travel budget?). More relationships are developed in this volume giving one character in particular more depth and making him more relational to readers.

I will admit that one aspect of this volume seemed, to me, to not fit with the usual story lines – or with the characters. I wasn’t sure if it was done because this was a comic and it could be done in a few pages and then moved on from. It was a left field sort of thing. It seemed like something for comic boys (to me, it did) but not a true Buffy thing.

I’m not sure this is truly sticking to the Buffy strengths – it does, but then loses its way a little.

6/10 for both

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Never Have I Ever (The Lying Game) ~ Sara Shepard review

Never Have I Ever (The Lying Game #2)
HarperTeen
August 2, 2011
320 pages

*contains spoilers for The Lying Game (#1) - my review*
This review is being posted today (and wasn't earlier in this month) because The Lying Game TV series premieres on ABC Family on Monday, August 15 at 9/8c (and repeated at 10/9c)



Never Have I Ever
by Sara Shepard is the second in Shepard's new 'The Lying Game' series. Emma is still living in her long-lost (and now dead) twin sister Sutton Mercer's home. Eating Sutton's food, sleeping in Sutton's bed, wearing Sutton's clothes . . . calling Sutton's parents Mom and Dad, answering to the name 'Sutton,' pretending to be Sutton.

It's Goldilocks to the extreme. Only Emma, one new friend, and Sutton's killer know that Emma is not really Sutton. And that's Emma's goal, to find out who killed Sutton . . . while keeping herself alive.


It seems like it would be easy for a teenage girl to figure out which of her now dead sister's friends or acquaintances would have killed her, but not so much with Emma and Sutton. Sutton and her friends enjoyed playing the Lying Game - pulling unbelievably dangerous pranks on each other that quite often looked like murder attempts and all could have left someone angry enough to kill.

Now, Emma has to figure out who it is leaving her the notes telling her to keep pretending to be Sutton 'or else,' who was really angry with Sutton, and where everyone was the last night Sutton was alive.

Slowly she tries to clear everyone's name and avoid danger.

The Lying Game series is a lot like Pretty Little Liars in that there's a disappearance that there's a murder that needs solving and readers get a little bit of the puzzle each book. A little bit less than you think you're going to get, actually, because at the end things are revealed to have one more twist that means things aren't quite solved yet.

But you still want to keep coming back for more and more because they're so much fun. Both series are truly thrilling mysteries.

Never Have I Ever is actually narrated in the first person by Sutton (who is the I) but with Emma doing things so there's lots of 'I remembered [......] after seeing Emma say [....]' It gets kind of confusing sometimes with the almost dual narrators. To have Sutton as the 'I' but Emma as really the main character who is also talking a lot about Sutton ... After a while, however, you get used to it (or, at least, I did).

I, of course, wish more had been revealed in this book, but that's just because I really want to know what happened! I'm really happy that the next book is coming out in February - which is not too far away.

8/10




Thank you to Harper for my copy of this book

Friday, August 12, 2011

Fairy Bad Day ~ Amanda Ashby

Fairy Bad Day
Speak
June 9, 2011
352 pages
Goodreads/Amazon


Fairy Bad Day by Amanda Ashby is full of fairies, dragons, other supernatural beings . . . and the teenagers that slay them. Emma has known her whole life that she’s going to be a dragon slayer. It’s her destiny.


Except when it comes time for the students at Burtonwood Academy, Emma’s school to receive their assignments, Curtis gets the job Emma sees as hers.

And Emma is made a fairy slayer. The first. Students’ aren’t made fairy slayers because the annoying little things, in band tees and jeans aren’t seen as a real threat.

Emma sees her fairy slayer designation as an insult.

Then she sees a giant killer fairy.

And it looks like the only person who can help her is cute, charming, but so incredibly annoying to Emma, Curtis who stole her spot.


This novel brings Buffy (be it the television series or the Season 8 told through the graphic novels) a bit: The characters have powers that the general populace does not know about, powers that they come into at some age or another, and there’s a character where they all are together and safe and trained. (I guess this could be seen as Harry Potter or something else, but I’m going with Buffy.)

At first Fairy Bad Day can seem more like a middle grade novel, than a young adult novel—due to some of the characters actions, or lack thereof—but you have to remember that the characters are all 15-years-old. They’re simply acting their age. A lot of YA novels tend to have characters act older than their age-or at least on the higher end of how teens that age do act—but Fairy Bad Day does a great job of keeping the characters real and age-appropriate without making them seem na├»ve or incorrectly innocent.

With humor, magnificent character relationships and a main character that grows brilliantly through the course of the novel, Fairy Bad Day is a great novel. (With more depth than the cover leads you to believe but still all the fun.)

This is also a great book for all the readers that haven’t quite gotten into the fae love with all of the faery books published as of late. Those in this book are different. You’re not supposed to find them sexy or crazy charming or anything of the like.

(Fear not, though, if you do love the fae, you can still really enjoy Fairy Bad Day - I did.)

8/10

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Queen of the Dead ~ Stacey Kade (eARC) review

Queen of the Dead
Hyperion Book CH
May 31, 2011
272 pages
Amazon/Goodreads


Queen of the Dead is Stacey Kade’s incredibly enjoyable follow-up to The Ghost and the Goth. In this sequel, Alone Dare, former Homecoming Queen current Queen of the Dead, is stuck doing one of the things she likes the least: helping people. And it’s requiring work, too.

Back from the light, Alona is helping other lost spirits, along with Will Killian. Will, a seer and the social outcast Alona was all too ready to write off during her life.

Just as Will and Alona are starting to get their interaction figured out, someone new – a girl named Mina – shows up.

Alona decides right away the new, mysterious girl’s not to be trusted. Will, though, is intrigued by her. She is, after all, the first other ghost-talker he’s met and she might be able to provide him with some answers about his past and/or his father.

Just how big of a rift will this girl create between Alona and Will? And could she have come at a worse time – with Alona’s family – her mother & her father and his wife – moving on and Will and Alona trying to figure out if they’re more than ‘just friends?


Stacey Kade’s second novel is an excellent follow-up to her debut. Queen of the Dead builds on Ghost and the Goth without requiring the reader to remember (or, I suppose, know) everything from that first novel. Several of the secondary characters make repeat appearances, but the action mainly focuses on Alona and Will and their relationship.

Told, like the first in the series, in chapters of alternating perspectives, Queen gives readers glimpses into both characters minds and how they view each other. It’s easy, then, to connect with both of them.

The new character – and what she brings with her – brings a great new angle to the story. The potential for Will to learn about his father (and by extension himself and his seer ability) is a great temptation and a fantastic way to bring a new, possibly divisive character into play.

It’s great to see the two characters grow from where they were in the first novel – and over the course of the second. No backtracking was done and nothing was illogical based on the first novel to the second.

Really the only people I wouldn’t recommend this to (and this is a light not because they can take it) is people who abhor cliffhangers because Queen of the Dead ends with a doozy of one. Can’t wait for more!

8/10


Read thanks to NetGalley and the publisher :)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Long Way Home (Buffy S8 V1) ~ Joss Whedon review

(Sorry there was no additional post yesterday; crazy thunder(and lightning)storms came out of nowhere so I had no internet.)


Long Way Home: Buffy Season 8, Volume 1
Joss Whedon (author), George Jeanty (illustrator)
Dark Horse
December 1, 2010
136 pages
Goodreads/Amazon

*Review contains spoilers for finale of Buffy (TV finale) and probably random spoilers for the show. Reviews of the next seven volumes possibly will, too.*

The Long Way Home: Buffy Season 8, Volume 1 brings up back into the world of Buffy Summers and her Scooby gang. At this point they've closed the Hellmouth – and collapsed all of Sunnydale in the process. Still grieving from lost friends and lovers, the Scoobies are moving on and doing what they do best: Working from somewhere akin to any army base Buffy and most of the newly called Slayers are working at defending the world kind of like she did before, just on a much, much larger scale.

Readers are thrown right into the action as we’re shown what the gang is doing –and how they’re doing it.

And, oh yeah, Dawn’s a giant.

(Synopses for this series are going to be super short since they’re 100-150 page comics.)

Starting this was different for me since I don’t read comics- or graphic novels – but seeing new Buffy was definitely of the good. I liked that the characters did look older (since there’s supposed to have been a gap between the end of the series and the start of this eighth season. It was also nice that hings from Angel Season Five were used – whether they were built on or discredited.

You do definitely need to know Buffy and Angel, the television series to fully understand what’s going on in Buffy Season 8, but tha’s who this is aimed at really – BtVS and AtS fans – so that’s understandable.

A few parts were confusing to me – I had trouble understand just what was going on, etc but that could just be me not being used to the medium.

The art was fantastic and it both represented the characters well and is gorgeous.

I'm definitely interested in where the rest of this goes. Right now it's reading like good (beautifully illustrated) fanfiction that has some of Joss Whedon's signature whit.


8/10


(read first thanks to Dark Horse and NetGalley)

Monday, August 8, 2011

Between ~ Jessica Warman review

Yesterday (when I picked the 7th as my post date, I thought it was a not-Sunday day!), I posted my review of Jessica Warman's amazing Between . . . if you missed it, you should definitely give it a look:

Between ~ Jessica Warman review


I'll be posting a review for today later :)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Between ~ Jessica Warman (ARC) review

(When I picked the 7th for my Between tour/review post date, I thought it was a week day (I don''t now) - so you get the review today and a reminder/link tomorrow!)

Between
Walker Children's
August 2, 2011
464 pages
Goodreads/Amazon

Between, Jessica Warman's new novel, is an amazing read that just gets better as it goes. Emily Valchar is awoken early the morning of her eighteenth birthday by the sound of something persistently knocking against the side of her family's boat. Well, yacht really, the Elizabeth. The yacht where she and six of her friends have just spent the night celebrating her birthday.

When no one else wakes up, Liz goes to investigate on her own.

The things making the noise isn't a fish like Liz first thought; it's a body trapped between the dock and the boat.

Liz's body.

As Liz is forced to unravel both her life (which she can't remember very well) and her death, she learns that she may have been pretty and popular, but her life wasn't as perfect as it appeared to be. Nor are her friends all that they seem - or all that she thought they were.


Fans of Lauren Oliver's Before I Fall will want to check out Between. As in Before I Fall, Elizabeth is the popular, pretty girl with the close group of friends. But, like Oliver's Samantha character, Liz is also not a very likable person. In Between, though, Liz is shown - through another character and memories - just how unlikable she is/was.

The memories are a great way for the readers to learn about Liz's life/her past and how she's gotten to be who she is now - or at least who she was when she died.

The way that Liz's life is slowly unveiled, almost unraveled, for both Liz and the reader is brilliant. Things aren't remembered consecutively so it's hard to know what to trust in a given situation or what each statement really means until you're later given more information. Readers are really taken along with Liz as she discovers who she was in life and what it's going to mean for her in death.

Parts of the story and parts of the characters' personalities that don't seem to fit or don't seem right (or even healthy) you have to wonder if it's a mistake the author made . . . or something we just don't know about yet. It's really magnificently done.

One of the best character studies I've read this year for sure - and maybe ever - Between is also a great mystery that builds and builds and builds until the ends, leaving you wishing you could turn the pages faster and faster. And then sorry that it's all over because it means leaving Liz behind.


10/10


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

Friday, August 5, 2011

Sharks & Boys ~ Kristen Tracy (eARC) review

Sharks & Boys
Hyperion Book CH
June 28, 2011
272 pages

Sharks and Boys by Kristen Tracy shows us somewhere even crazier that a relationship on a ‘break’ can lead than ‘Friends’ did. When the book first stars Enid Calhoun and her boyfriend Wick Jarboe are together – making marzipan sea creatures for a wedding cake, no less –but before their afternoon is over, Wick lets Enid know he thinks they should take a break.

The break, of course, leads Enid to think Wick wants to be with another girl – or girls. So, while she’s with her mother delivering the wedding cake (the one with the sea creatures), she does a very irresponsible, un-Enid like think: she takes off. Not just to anywhere, though. To Maryland.

The boys, including her twin brother Landon and Wick are having a party and Enid is sure Wick is going to use the opportunity to cheat on her. So she’s going to use the opportunity (that she’s made) to spy on him and find out.

Only things go terribly wrong when the party moves to a boat and the boat moves to sea . . . and a hurricane comes. Shipwrecked miles from shore with sharks surrounding them, the teens will have to confront their fears and problems with each other if they hope to survive.

And even then it’s only a hope.


When I first began reading Sharks and Boys I forgot the summary and thought that the sharks on the cover were just referencing the marzipan sea animals and that I’d gotten the real shark/survival part wrong. I was glad to know I had not made it up. (Not because I’m some crazy person who wants teens eaten by sharks but because it had the possibility to make a much different tale.)

Having eight teenagers stuck in the ocean for almost all of a novel is definitely different and very interesting. I really liked the issues that arose due to the circumstances. There was thought put into how they would have to survive, what they would have to do – it wasn’t just used to get them away from civilization and then they were floating pleasantly along.

The characters names were a little distracting, however. Usually I like different names, I think this time because it was only the characters for so much of the book, I just kept wondering why their names were what they were. (Some of them were explained towards the end of the book and maybe if they were explained earlier on, it would have been easier.)

Because the majority of the book is the characters on the water, you really have to like the characters (Enid especially) to love this book. I didn’t dislike the characters, per se, but I did not love them either. I could understand why Enid and Wick were on a break, they didn’t seem to be these to people that should be together. The characters all had quite a few issues (family wise, etc) to make them human & unique but I never quite connected with them.

6/10

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for my eGalley of this title.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Tour Info

There's an amazing author tour everyone should know about: From Ash to Nash.

Going to Asheville, North Caroline to Nashville, Tennessee and quite a few places in between, Beth Revis, Myra McEntire, and Victoria Schwab are at all the dates and lots of authors are at another date or two.

Here's the description from the website:

The Ash to Nash Tour

After Myra McEntire, Victoria Schwab, and Beth Revis met at a writing retreat, they realized two important things: (1) they didn't live too far away from each other and (2) book tours never went through their rural, Southern hometowns.

So they put their heads together and decided if book tours didn't come to the rural South...they'd just have to make a book tour of their own. Starting near Asheville (Beth's homebase), the three would travel together to Nashville (Myra and Victoria's homebase) and stop at many bookstores on the way--also inviting along many other local authors to join in the fun!


Definitely check out the site and if you're lucky enough to be anywhere in the vicinity of any of the signings, GO, GO, GO!!



(and don't forget to enter my contest for a copy of Retribution HERE)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Giveaway ~ Retribution by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Thanks to Zeitghost Media, I have a great giveaway today, Sherrilyn Kenyon’s newest Dark-Hunter novel (#20) Retribution.


(giveaway entry & details at the end of the post)


Here’s the synopsis for the book released just yesterday:


Setting: Las Vegas, NV

Harm no human…

A hired gunslinger, William Jessup Brady lived his life with one foot in the grave. He believed that every life had a price. Until the day when he finally found a reason to live. In one single act of brutal betrayal, he lost everything, including his life. Brought back by a Greek goddess to be one of her Dark-Hunters, he gave his immortal soul for vengeance and swore he’d spend eternity protecting the humans he’d once considered prey.

Orphaned as a toddler, Abigail Yager was taken in by a family of vampires and raised on one belief- Dark-Hunters are the evil who prey on both their people and mankind, and they must all be destroyed. While protecting her adoptive race, she has spent her life eliminating the Dark-Hunters and training for the day when she meets the man who killed her family: Jess Brady.

A gun in the hand is worth two in the holster…
Jess has been charged with finding and terminating the creature who’s assassinating Dark-Hunters. The last thing he expects to find is a human face behind the killings, but when that face bears a striking resemblance to the one who murdered him centuries ago, he knows something evil is going on. He also knows he’s not the one who killed her parents. But Abigail refuses to believe the truth and is determined to see him dead once and for all.

Brought together by an angry god and chased by ancient enemies out to kill them both, they must find a way to overcome their mutual hatred or watch as one of the darkest of powers rises and kills both the races they’ve sworn to protect.

I’m too behind on this series to read it myself right now, but I”ve really enjoyed the others I have read (they’re not YA like her Chronicles of Nick series but do overlap slightly).

If you are caught up on this series – or read things out of order or just want the book – then I’m excited to have this giveaway for you!!

Open now & closes August 10th at 10am Eastern time. Must be at least 13 to enter. Open to those with US/Canadian mailing addresses only.

Winner has 24 hours to reply to my email (with their address) or a new winner will be chosen.

Fill out this form:





More about the author and the book:

Macmillan’s Sherrilyn Kenyon site; Sherrilyn Kenyon’s site page for Retribution - with excerpt, character info, and back story; and if the embedded trailer isn’t working, here’s the url. The book on Goodreads & Amazon, too.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Epic Fail ~ Claire LaZebnik (ARC) review

Epic Fail
HarperTeen
August 2, 2011
304 pages

Epic Fail, Claie LaZebnik's YA debut is a Pride and Prejudice inspired bit of super cute, enjoyable fun. It's not easy starting at a new high school. Especially when that new high school is a private high school in Los Angeles full of super rich kids, often the children of celebrities - and you're not.

Especially when your mother is said school's new principal. And possibly a little star struck.

But the Benton girls are going to have to figure it out because they're starting the year Coral Tree Prep.

Having movie star parents everyone knows-or at least knows of, Derek Edwards is treated like royalty at Coral Tree. When Elise's sister beautiful sister falls for Derek's best friend, Elise gets stuck with Derek.

But she refuses to fall at his feet like every other girl in the school just because his parents are famous, instead befriending the outcast Webster Grant.

Will Elise realize that maybe there might be a reason Webster and Derek don't get along? Or wil she blindly take sides and allow her love (and social) life to be an epic fail?


Epic Fail is really cute. You can see that overall it was inspired by Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice but it's not a retelling that follows things scene, just modernized with updated dialogue and setting. That inspiration, however, does supply a lot of twists and turns to the plot keeping things a lot more eventful than a simple girl-meets-boy-girl-falls-for-boy-the-end.

Despite the girls going to a school full of super rich teens, Epic Fail doesn't turn into Gossip Girl. Possibly because it's so focused on the Benton girls who come from something else (money & value wise) -or the P&P inspiration- but it's enjoyable to have the setting and some of the plot points it allows without lots of drinking and sex and all out extravagance. (And in a way that didn't seem like it was missing or didn't fit the story - any of that would actually have seemed out of place.)

Elise and Juliana are great female main characters. They're well written, strong, have depth, are well rounded and developed and you can connect with both of them. Having the two sisters be the two main characters is great, too. It brings something else to their relationship and with the girls starting the new school it gives them someone they already know, someone familiar.

This was Claire LaZebnik's first YA novel and I do hope she writes another - I enjoyed this one a lot; it had humor, romance, and great relationships.

9/10
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