Friday, December 28, 2012

Best Reads of 2012

Now, I still have a couple reading days left in 2012, so I may end up adding books to my final total (and I'll for sure let you know if I read anything between now and the end of the year that is amazing enough to get added to this list :D), but for now, the 2012 reading stats look like this:

Total books read: 103 (according to goodreads)

Total books reread that didn't end up on my goodreads count: 20ish

Most read genre: YA Fantasy (see chart)

Favorite YA Fantasy novel:

Best Runner-Ups:
Everneath by Brodi Ashton
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Girl of Fire and Thorns / Crown of Embers by Rae Carson
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan
Touch of Power by Maria V. Snyder
Mistborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson
Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst
Incarnate by Jodi Meadows

Favorite YA Dystopian:
 Best Runner-Ups:
For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund
A Million Suns by Beth Revis
Legend by Marie Lu
Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver
Reached by Ally Condie
Partials by Dan Wells
Insignia by S.J. Kincaid

Best YA Other (Contemporary/Historical Fiction)

Best Runner-Ups:
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
Scarlet by A. C. Gaughen

 Best Children's Fiction:
 Best Runner-Ups:
Okay For Now by Gary D. Schmidt
Liesl and Po by Lauren Oliver
Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George
The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen
Wonder by R. J. Palacio
Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick
The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan

Best Adult Fiction/Classic/Mystery
 Best Runner-Ups:
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie/The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag by Alan Bradley
Miss Buncle's Book by D.E. Stevenson
Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens
These is my Words by Nancy Turner
And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

It was a fun reading year and really, really, hard to pick favorites! Did you have a favorite book this year that didn't end up on my list?

Friday, December 21, 2012

Minis: 12 - 21 - 12

Happy Apocalypse!

Hmmm... I should have read something apocalyptic today to celebrate. :D

It has been a crazy month! I've been wanting to blog, but my goal with this blog is that I should never do it if it feels like a chore and I'm afraid I've been so busy I just didn't want to add it to my to-do list. Until today! I've just finished getting my music students all ready for their recital and I had a sudden afternoon open. It's glorious. Hot chocolate. Blogging. Making my lists of favorite books of the year and books I'm most looking forward to (those posts coming soon!).

I hope you have a wonderful Christmas season! For now, here's a quick batch of minis. I'll be back soon with my lists!

My Rating: *****

I haven't given one of those out in a while! I loved Days of Blood and Starlight. Laini Taylor's writing is incredible, so gorgeous, so lush, so heart-wrenching. This story is much more violent and heartbreaking than the first book (Daughter of Smoke and Bone), but every bit as captivating. I love Karou. And Akiva. And Karou's human friends Zuzana and Mik! I feel like gushing, but I'm sure I couldn't do that without spoiling anything from the first book. Just know that I recommend this story wholeheartedly.
 My Rating: ****

Another sequel (the first book is Blood Red Road). First off, I really don't like this cover. And they changed the cover of the first book too! I hate it when they do that. Ok, so I loved Blood Red Road, completely raved about it last year. This one was a little disappointing. The story was just as intense and fast-paced, but I didn't feel as emotionally involved in Saba. She kept making stupid decisions (WHY couldn't she just trust Jack??????) and I was beyond irritated at the introduction of a love triangle. Also, some weird magical elements got introduced into the story that didn't seem to fit the same gritty, post-apocalyptic world of the first book. Definitely some beefs, but overall this was still a good read.

From Goodreads:
Within the walls of Baalboden, beneath the shadow of the city's brutal leader, Rachel Adams has a secret. While other girls sew dresses and obey their male Protectors, Rachel knows how to survive in the wilderness and deftly wield a sword. When her father, Jared, fails to return from a courier mission and is declared dead, the Commander assigns Rachel a new Protector, her father's apprentice, Logan--the same boy Rachel declared her love for two years ago, and the same one who handed her heart right back to her. Left with nothing but a fierce belief in her father's survival, Rachel decides to escape and find him herself. But treason against the Commander carries a heavy price, and what awaits her in the Wasteland could destroy her.

At nineteen, Logan McEntire is many things. Orphan. Outcast. Inventor. As apprentice to the city's top courier, Logan is focused on learning his trade so he can escape the tyranny of Baalboden. But his plan never included being responsible for his mentor's impulsive daughter. Logan is determined to protect her, but when his escape plan goes wrong and Rachel pays the price, he realizes he has more at stake than disappointing Jared.

As Rachel and Logan battle their way through the Wasteland, stalked by a monster that can't be killed and an army of assassins out for blood, they discover romance, heartbreak, and a truth that will incite a war decades in the making.

My Rating: ****
First off, don't even read the blurb. It is very misleading. If you've just read it, forget it. :D It makes you think that Rachel and Logan escape the city and battle through the wasteland together, right? Doesn't happen. There were about 50 pages of the book left before they'd each finally escaped (separately) finally met up again. This book just wasn't what I wanted it to be. I wanted the romance to be less gushy and have more of a slow build-up. I wanted Rachel to be a little more complex than she was (she was so I-am-warrior-hear-me-roar it was very hard to get to know her and like her). Logan was awesome and I loved his nerdy, inventor side. BUT, I just didn't get how the world could have so much technology but still feel so medieval. No transportation, no modern conveniences, nothing beyond rudimentary weapons, but tracking devices and complicated explosives? Sure!

But, I loved the setting. I'm such a fan of the fantasy/dystopia mix. The story had me hooked from the beginning and pssst... there are dragons!!! I will definitely be reading the sequel, but I just wish this book had been what I wanted it to be.

From Goodreads:
Enter a tangled world of secrets and intrigue where a girl is in charge of other’s destinies, but not her own.

Sixteen-year-old Adelice Lewys has always been special. When her parents discover her gift—the ability to weave the very fabric of reality—they train her to hide it. For good reason, they don’t want her to become a Spinster — one of the elite, beautiful, and deadly women who determine what people eat, where they live, how many children they have, and even when they die.

Thrust into the opulent Western Coventry, Adelice will be tried, tested and tempted as she navigates the deadly politics at play behind its walls. Now caught in a web of lies and forbidden romance, she must unravel the sinister truth behind her own unspeakable power. Her world is hanging by a thread, and Adelice, alone, can decide to save it — or destroy it.

My Rating: ****

Crewel got me out of a reading funk, where I just didn't want to sit down and read because I was so busy doing other things. Sure, I loved Days of Blood and Starlight, but it took me a long time to read because it's the kind of book that needs to be digested slowly. I read Crewel in a day.

Crewel is fascinating and I flew through it. I loved the idea of being able to manipulate time and matter like threads on a loom! It's so Norse, so mythological. But the story itself is fast-paced and dystopian, very modern and cool. The world-building here is top-notch. Brava to Gennifer Albin!!! Such a complex mix of sci-fi, mythology, and fantasy! But it's well fleshed-out and the confusing things are explained at a very good pace. Enough to keep me from feeling constantly lost, but without info dumping.

And the characters were great. Adelice is geniunely likable and not stupid. I hate it when characters in dystopians are clueless about how screwed up their worlds are. Adelice is clever and sneaky and snarky. She's also a fighter. The romance was good (despite the love triangle) and there were some sweet moments.

But be prepared. Crewel is cruel (haha - except now I'm wondering if that's where the title actually came from). People die. Families are ripped apart. Children face peril. There's no mercy and the story can be relentlessly brutal.

Final word? If you like dystopians but are sick of reading the same plot line over and over, try Crewel. It is refreshingly original and surprisingly unpredictable. And the ending. I just... WOAH... Sign me up for book 2!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Princess of the Silver Woods

From Goodreads:
When Petunia, the youngest of King Gregor's twelve dancing daughters, is invited to visit an elderly friend in the neighboring country of Westfalin, she welcomes the change of scenery. But in order to reach Westfalin, Petunia must pass through a forest where strange two-legged wolves are rumored to exist. Wolves intent on redistributing the wealth of the noble citizens who have entered their territory. But the bandit-wolves prove more rakishly handsome than truly dangerous, and it's not until Petunia reaches her destination that she realizes the kindly grandmother she has been summoned to visit is really an enemy bent on restoring an age-old curse. The stories of Red Riding Hood and Robin Hood get a twist as Petunia and her many sisters take on bandits, grannies, and the new King Under Stone to end their family curse once and for all.

My Rating: ****

Another beautiful fairy tale retelling from Jessica Day George. She's one of my absolute favorites! Petunia was a fabulous heroine, all feisty and brave and handy with a pistol to boot. :D I liked being back in Westfalin and liked seeing more of the kingdom. It makes me love the whole series even more (and just for your information, this is the third and final book about the 12 princesses - the first is Princess of the Midnight Ball and the second is Princess of Glass). All of my favorite characters are back from the other two books, but if you haven't read the other books recently it might make your head spin trying to remember them all and keep track of who's who amongst the twelve. It's an ambitious cast of characters for sure.

The story is a typical fairy tale, but beautifully done. Expect people to fall in love too fast, expect simple good vs. evil battles, expect a very cheery happily ever after. That may not be everyone's thing, but it's certainly mine! The story is simple and sweet and a little juvenile. It's not overly epic or grand, but it's perfect for younger teens and for those days when you just need a nice fairy tale.

Highly recommended for fans of fairy tale retellings and fans of Jessica Day George's previous works.

And many thanks to NetGalley and Bloomsbury for providing me with an early copy of this to read. I've been very impatiently waiting to post this review, since I read it a couple months ago. Good news! Princess of the Silver Woods is out as of yesterday and would make a perfect Christmas gift for the teenage girl on your list. They didn't ask me to say that, by the way. I just loved it that much! :D

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Mini Reviews: 12 - 4 - 12

Sorry I've been MIA! I was doing Nanowrimo in November (Nation Novel Writing Month, for those of you not in the know), which ate up all my blogging time. My life is settling back into normal (not that my normal isn't still pretty crazy) and I can now get caught back up on blogging. I still did a bit of reading in November, I just didn't have any time to blog. Anyway, here's a quick batch of minis. And look forward to more blogging soon! I'm currently devouring Laini Taylor's Days of Blood and Starlight and can't wait to tell you about it.

Kami Glass loves someone she’s never met . . . a boy she’s talked to in her head ever since she was born. She wasn’t silent about her imaginary friend during her childhood, and is thus a bit of an outsider in her sleepy English town of Sorry-in-the-Vale. Still, Kami hasn’t suffered too much from not fitting in. She has a best friend, runs the school newspaper, and is only occasionally caught talking to herself. Her life is in order, just the way she likes it, despite the voice in her head.

But all that changes when the Lynburns return.

The Lynburn family has owned the spectacular and sinister manor that overlooks Sorry-in-the-Vale for centuries. The mysterious twin sisters who abandoned their ancestral home a generation ago are back, along with their teenage sons, Jared and Ash, one of whom is eerily familiar to Kami. Kami is not one to shy away from the unknown—in fact, she’s determined to find answers for all the questions Sorry-in-the-Vale is suddenly posing. Who is responsible for the bloody deeds in the depths of the woods? What is her own mother hiding? And now that her imaginary friend has become a real boy, does she still love him? Does she hate him? Can she trust him?

My Rating: ****

I loved Unspoken. So clever and intense and knock your socks off funny. I adored Kami and can't wait for the sequel because her voice is one of the most entertaining I've ever read. I loved the whole speaking-telepathically-to-Jared thing. It was so well done. This isn't insta-love, by the way. This is Kami and Jared, who have been each other's best friends since they were infants. They've been there for each other their entire lives and when they finally meet in person, it completely freaks them out. They are very uncomfortable with the idea of their relationship being romantic. I just thought their entire relationship progressed so naturally; it was perfect.

Two quick negatives. Jared... well Jared is so unlikable. Except when he's talking to Kami in her head. Then he's the sweetest, most trustworthy friend in the world. In person... not so much. AND THE ENDING. I can see why and everything's in character, but it was truly awful.

The other negative is that sometimes the mystery and the magic system and Jared's complicated family (I could never tell his aunt and his mom apart) weren't explained very well. Oh - and one more thing I'd like to mention is that there is a small gay side plot. It seems like every contemporary book has to have the obligatory one these days.

Overall, though, Unspoken is a brilliantly executed piece of magic, mystery, and suspense. It's hilariously entertaining and I enjoyed it.

Gwen’s life has been a rollercoaster since she discovered she was the Ruby, the final member of the secret time-traveling Circle of Twelve. In between searching through history for the other time-travelers and asking for a bit of their blood (gross!), she’s been trying to figure out what all the mysteries and prophecies surrounding the Circle really mean.
At least Gwen has plenty of help. Her best friend Lesley follows every lead diligently on the Internet. James the ghost teaches Gwen how to fit in at an eighteenth century party. And Xemerius, the gargoyle demon who has been following Gwen since he caught her kissing Gideon in a church, offers advice on everything. Oh, yes. And of course there is Gideon, the Diamond. One minute he’s very warm indeed; the next he’s freezing cold. Gwen’s not sure what’s going on there, but she’s pretty much destined to find out.
My Rating: ****
A great sequel, and exactly what I wanted it to be. If you haven't discovered this YA time travel series yet, I highly recommend you add it to your to-read list (Ruby Red is first). Gwen is hilarious and the story is mind-boggling (in the very best way). I love a good time-travel story, where people end up in hilarious situations and do horribly anachronistic things (Gwen excells at this - there's a dinner party scene that is SO funny) and where people see future and past versions of themselves and everything goes wrong and happens in a totally non-linear way. Sapphire Blue has all that (plus kissing!) so you really can't go wrong. The mystery and the danger are revving up here and the final book, Emerald Green, should be spectacular.
I got frustrated with Gideon at times because I didn't know what was going on inside his head and he's very on/off with Gwen. Gwen may be ok with that, but I wasn't. I wanted to smack him upside the head. Several times. :D I have hopes that the final book with smooth out their relationship and explain the secrets Gideon is hiding. Also, I recommend you read the first book right before the second. They go very tightly together and Sapphire Blue doesn't give the reader much of a recap. Maybe just wait another year and read all three back-to-back
A great fun and clean read and HIGHLY recommended.

 Inhale. Exhale.
Breathe . . .
The world is dead.
The survivors live under the protection of Breathe, the corporation that found a way to manufacture oxygen-rich air.

has been stealing for a long time. She's a little jittery, but not terrified. All she knows is that she's never been caught before. If she's careful, it'll be easy. If she's careful.

should be worried about Alina and a bit afraid for himself, too, but even though this is dangerous, it's also the most interesting thing to happen to him in ages. It isn't every day that the girl of your dreams asks you to rescue her.

wants to tell him that none of this is fair; they'd planned a trip together, the two of them, and she'd hoped he'd discover her out here, not another girl.

And as they walk into the Outlands with two days' worth of oxygen in their tanks, everything they believe will be shattered. Will they be able to make it back? Will they want to?

My Rating: ***

As dystopians go, this one is kind of unremarkable. It wasn't bad (thus the three stars), but not much originality. Everything here has been seen before (minus the whole world without oxygen thing). Why is it that it takes these teens so long to realize that their whole world is a lie and everything is a conspiracy? It seemed pretty obvious to me...

And that summary makes it sound like there's a horrible love triangle going on, right? Well it doesn't last long at all, which makes me wonder why it was included in the first place.

Sure, when it all comes down to a fight and it's rebellion vs. the big corporation it was kind of exciting, but I wasn't riveted. The book ends in a nicely settled place, so I don't think I'll be picking up the sequel.

My Rating: ***

I got The Perks of Being a Wallflower as a free ebook, otherwise I don't know that I would have picked it up. It's a depressing book full of issues, sex, drinking, smoking, drugs, and messed-up teens. But despite all that, I think it has some merit. It's hard not to like Charlie. Poor Charlie, with all the trauma he has faced and what read to me like undiagnosed Asperger's has not had it easy. He starts high school in this book (something that's not easy for anyone) and manages to make some friends. What follows is a complicated mess, but Charlie grows up and figures things out. Well, some things at least. It's a story about bullying, about reaching out to people who are different, about mental health and the effects of trauma and abuse. I kind of enjoyed the unreliable narrator thing and trying to figure out what was really going on in the world, despite getting all my information from Charlie's perspective.

I think it was an interesting book, one full of discussion possibilities, but it's definitely an issues book, so consider yourself warned by me that it is heavy and with some objectionable content. And now, I'm trying to decide if want to see the movie. :D Anyone seen it? Thoughts?

Monday, November 12, 2012


From Goodreads:
They called her Water Claire. When she washed up on their shore, no one knew that she came from a society where emotions and colors didn’t exist. That she had become a Vessel at age thirteen. That she had carried a Product at age fourteen. That it had been stolen from her body. Claire had a son. But what became of him she never knew. What was his name? Was he even alive?  She was supposed to forget him, but that was impossible. Now Claire will stop at nothing to find her child, even if it means making an unimaginable sacrifice.

Son thrusts readers once again into the chilling world of the Newbery Medal winning book, The Giver, as well as Gathering Blue and Messenger where a new hero emerges. In this thrilling series finale, the startling and long-awaited conclusion to Lois Lowry’s epic tale culminates in a final clash between good and evil.

My Rating: ****

I was really surprised to hear that Lois Lowry was coming out with another book in the Giver series. The other two sequels to The Giver, Gathering Blue and Messenger, weren't exactly smashing successes (in my opinion) and both came out several years ago. Plus, Messenger's ending was very final. But I was really excited about this too, because I knew Son would be told from the viewpoint of Gabe's mother.

The first half of the book was my favorite. I loved learning about the vessels, and the whole birthing process and I liked being back in the original Giver world at the same time period as The Giver. The stories are parallel, and I really liked seeing it from another point of view. I liked Claire, and believe me, the injustice of seeing her give birth at age fourteen and then get pushed off to work in the fish hatchery where she would never see her child again was infuriating. Claire becomes obsessed with her child, something I don't blame her for. If it had been my baby I would have felt the same way.

But the story slowed way down the moment Claire left her community in search of Gabe. You'd think that would make things better, more exciting, right? Nope. And one of the things that I think makes the original book better than the sequels is the fact that when The Giver ends, you're left with hope that Jonas and Gabe have found something better, a world without all the conformity and tyranny and misery. You don't know what's outside, but you can hope that it's better. Well, Gathering Blue, Messenger, and now Son all show the world waiting outside The Giver and it's not pretty. And it drives me crazy. Why exactly is it that everyone outside the regulated communities has to live a medieval lifestyle? Why is it that the people who are free don't have medicine or electricity or any sort of technology at all? It's a strange unbalance and it doesn't sit well with me.

Anyway, back in the story here we're crawling along, Claire is depressed, but she eventually finds a purpose, trying to escape the community that she escaped to. She has to train her body to climb up a cliff face to escape. This process takes several chapters. And then she actually makes the climb, which takes several more chapters. Not exaggerating. If the writing hadn't been beautiful (this is still Lois Lowry we're talking about here) I would have skipped parts, just to get past it.

And finally things start happening. No spoilers, but we're reunited with characters from all the books and Son really does a nice job of tying the quartet together. Of course, there's a final battle with evil, and I won't say much, but this is the same evil that I thought had been defeated at the end of Messenger, and since it lived I'm really questioning the necessity of killing off a character at the end of Messenger if his sacrifice wasn't going to even defeat that character for good - seemed ridiculous that the evil just shows right back up... And I also think Lois Lowry is a bit heavy-handed with her philosophical morals in the Giver sequels. I wanted more explanations of Gabe's gift and her magic system in general, but everything wrapped up quickly with few details.

Anyway, the book is a nice addition to the Giver series, but I have plenty of problems with it so no raving from me. The writing is lovely and the closure is nice. Recommended for fans of the original.

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Assassin's Curse

From Goodreads:
Ananna of the Tanarau abandons ship when her parents try to marry her off to an allying pirate clan: she wants to captain her own boat, not serve as second-in-command to her handsome yet clueless fiance. But her escape has dire consequences when she learns the scorned clan has sent an assassin after her.

And when the assassin, Naji, finally catches up with her, things get even worse. Ananna inadvertently triggers a nasty curse — with a life-altering result. Now Ananna and Naji are forced to become uneasy allies as they work together to break the curse and return their lives back to normal. Or at least as normal as the lives of a pirate and an assassin can be.

My Rating: ****

I'm glad that the goodreads summary is different than the summary on the back of the book, because the book's blurb gives away almost the entire plot and even outlines the second book! Weird. If you read this, do not read the back of the book.

And I really recommend that you do read this, because it is a rollicking good adventure and a seriously fun read. Ananna is about as entertaining as any pirate character I've ever read/watched. I do wish perhaps that she didn't swear like a sailor, but it's definitely in character and light on the heavier words (there was one "F" word). Her grammar is atrocious, which bothered me at first, but I got used to it fast. And that's enough of the negatives, because there really aren't any others. Ananna is hilarious, a good fighter, a loyal friend, an independent thinker, and a smashing good sailor and, on ocassion, thief.

I found Naji, the assassin, a bit more bland. But not a bad character, mind you. He was just so quiet. I wasn't sure why he was an assassin, or why Ananna started falling for him by the end of the book (come on, that's not a spoiler - you knew that's where this book was going, right?). There were several things I just wanted more from in this book. Naji for one. Other than that, I wanted more magic and more answers in general. This book needs its companion. It does not stand alone at ALL. Expect half a story and half of the answers you need. I will definitely be reading the sequel, but I kind of wish I'd waited for them both to be out before reading the first.

But not really, because this book is still a lot of fun and full of adventure and humor and magic. Ananna absolutely makes it worth it. Very much recommended and I can't wait for the sequel!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Crown of Embers

From Goodreads:
In the sequel to the acclaimed The Girl of Fire and Thorns, a seventeen-year-old princess turned war queen faces sorcery, adventure, untold power, and romance as she fulfills her epic destiny.
Elisa is the hero of her country. She led her people to victory against a terrifying enemy, and now she is their queen. But she is only seventeen years old. Her rivals may have simply retreated, choosing stealth over battle. And no one within her court trusts her-except Hector, the commander of the royal guard, and her companions. As the country begins to crumble beneath her and her enemies emerge from the shadows, Elisa will take another journey. With a one-eyed warrior, a loyal friend, an enemy defector, and the man she is falling in love with, Elisa crosses the ocean in search of the perilous, uncharted, and mythical source of the Godstone's power. That is not all she finds. A breathtaking, romantic, and dangerous second volume in the Fire and Thorns trilogy.

My Rating: ****

What absolutely gorgeous high fantasy Rae Carson writes. I loved The Girl of Fire and Thorns, but this tops that. I liked the story better, the romance better, Elisa better, everything. Elisa is a wonderful heroine; she's so easy to like and to sympathize with. She's so uncertain of herself at times, but then she'll be so completely kick-butt at others. In this book, Elisa is now queen and she's not necessarily doing a good job of it. But she grows into her new role, all the time dealing with assassination attempts, unfriendly magic, constant battles and a quest for the power to face her enemies.

And then there's Hector. Hector is a true friend to Elisa and I loved watching them interact. I won't say more about how it goes on from there, but that I loved it. Their relationship unfolded naturally and perfectly. Elisa has not had it easy in the romance department (which you'll know if you've read Girl of Fire and Thorns) and I'm sorry to say that Rae Carson isn't giving Elisa any easy breaks here either. There's no simple happy ever after for Elisa - well, maybe, hopefully, after book 3 The Bitter Kingdom, but we'll see. I didn't love the way Crown of Embers ended, but I didn't hate it like I hated the way the first book ended. Was that vague and cryptic enough? I'm really trying to avoid spoilers.

I do wish I had re-read the first book again. There were a couple times when characters showed up and I couldn't remember who they were, making my brain constantly spin wondering why exactly I was supposed to hate certain people.

For sensitive readers: There's nothing explicit, but there is a major plot point (especially towards the end of the book) about Elisa's sexuality. I wouldn't recommend this book for younger teens. But I would recommend it for just about anyone older. It's beautifully written. My favorite type of fantasy.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Why I love YA

 (click the graphic to link back to the contest and enter it yourself!)
Ok, I'm not usually one to do things for contests, but this one... I REALLY want every chance possible to win it. Seriously - just look at that thing! 50 signed books??? WANT.
I'm even considering creating a twitter account, so I can tweet about it and get one more entry. It may come to that. :D
One of the requirements for an extra ten entries was to share somewhere on the web why I love YA. I'd call that an easy requirement, since it's one of my favorite subjects. I'll try to be concise, though. We all know I'm prone to rambling.
Top Ten Reasons I Love YA:
1. I may be about 12 - 13 years older than the typical YA character, but I have no problems remembering what it was like being that age. I loved my young adult years, both for the fun and innocence and for the tumultuous decisions I was constantly faced with.
2. Young Adult novels are out of this world creative and imaginative.
3. YA has generally cleaner content than adult fiction, something I personally appreciate.
4. I love filling my library with YA because I can lend them out to friends and neighbors and students without worrying about content.
5. Talking about YA with teens is a great way to make friends with them :D (which is important to me since I interact with teens every day).
6. I love YA for the community of bright and clever people I've gotten to know through it. So many amazing and passinate bloggers and authors are as obsessed with YA as I am and I love reading their thoughts on books and writing for young adults.
7. I love YA because there's no shortage of amazing books to fill up my to-read lists!
8. YA deals a lot with first love, something I love reading about. I remember how all-consuming and powerful first love is, and reading about it somehow always manages to remind me how it felt to fall in love with my own husband (which always makes me fall in love with him all over again).
9. I love the way YA bridges age gaps. I have friends off all ages who love YA. And finding someone who also loves YA is an easy way to make an instant new best friend.
10. There's something so powerful about YA characters and the way they realize their individual talents and abilities and grow up and find love and face adult problems. Every YA book is the Heroic Journey repeated. We've all been there, being forced away from the comfort of home and parents and people who take care of us, all of a sudden having to grow up and face our problems and overcome them in heroic ways. YA is empowering to teens and adults. Reading YA reminds me that I have the ability to face anything and overcome it.
In short, I love YA because IT IS THE BEST!!!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Mini Reviews: 11 - 2 - 12

I keep telling myself to review as I go, but sometimes books just pile up! What can I say? I read too quickly. :D
 My Rating: *****

How is it possible Rick Riordan keeps getting better??? This is my favorite book by him so far. Which means a lot, because I've certainly given him a lot of love on this blog in the past. The story was richer and deeper, the characters more intense, conflicted, and lovable. And the humor? Off the charts hilarious. I've been waiting for this book for a long time. To finally get all these characters interacting together has been completely worth the wait. It's like how all the superhero movies have been fun (Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, etc...), but The Avengers trumps them all. :D

And Annabeth? She gets all the gold stars here. She's always been a favorite, but hearing parts of the story from her perspective was incredible. I'm not being very specific here, but it's hard to add details when you're so deep into a series without giving away any spoilers. Just trust me. Absolutely brilliant.

But ARRRRGHHHH!!!!!!!!! What a cliff-hanger!!!! GAHHH!!!!

Is it too early to pre-order The House of Hades?


Goodreads summary:
In a desert world of sandstorms and sand-wolves, a teen girl must defy the gods to save her tribe in this mystical, atmospheric tale from the author of Drink, Slay, Love. Liyana has trained her entire life to be the vessel of a goddess. The goddess will inhabit Liyana’s body and use magic to bring rain to the desert. But Liyana’s goddess never comes. Abandoned by her angry tribe, Liyana expects to die in the desert. Until a boy walks out of the dust in search of her.

Korbyn is a god inside his vessel, and a trickster god at that. He tells Liyana that five other gods are missing, and they set off across the desert in search of the other vessels. For the desert tribes cannot survive without the magic of their gods. But the journey is dangerous, even with a god’s help. And not everyone is willing to believe the trickster god’s tale.

The closer she grows to Korbyn, the less Liyana wants to disappear to make way for her goddess. But she has no choice: She must die for her tribe to live. Unless a trickster god can help her to trick fate—or a human girl can muster some magic of her own.

My Rating: ****

I really enjoyed Vessel. It's the kind of book I wish I could write. (This is also the first book I've ever read by Sarah Beth Durst, but you can bet I'll be checking out more from her). I loved the world she's created here. So rich and atmospheric and full of magic and mythology and history. Sarah Beth Durst has described her desert land (with its people and their wealth of stories) with gorgeous writing.

And I really enjoyed Liyana as a character. Practical almost to a fault, it was kind of refreshing to have such a cool-headed heroine. Most of the heroines I read are high emotion, high drama types, and I loved Liyana's ability to chill, assess a situation, and get right to work solving the problem.

I felt a little like I was left wanting in a couple places. The romance was a little meh for me. I didn't love the way it ended and on top of that Liyana's practicality made it hard for me to feel like her heart was involved. Then there's Korbyn. I'm a huge fan of trickster gods, but I thought Korbyn was a bit of a disappointing one. I was waiting for him to turn trickster and be all unexpected, but he never did. 

Still, I loved every moment I spent reading this and was completely engrossed in the story (and especially the setting). Lovely writing!

Recommended for: Fans of fantasy and mythology. It reminded me a bit of Rick Riordan's Egyptian series (with gods and mortals working together in the same body), and while I'm on that vein, also kind of like The Host (it's difficult when the person possessing you is in love with the same person you're falling in love with...).


From Goodreads:
Don’t look at Them. Never let Them know you can see Them.

That is Ethan Chase’s unbreakable rule. Until the fey he avoids at all costs—including his reputation—begin to disappear, and Ethan is attacked. Now he must change the rules to protect his family. To save a girl he never thought he’d dare to fall for.

Ethan thought he had protected himself from his older sister’s world—the land of Faery. His previous time in the Iron Realm left him with nothing but fear and disgust for the world Meghan Chase has made her home, a land of myth and talking cats, of magic and seductive enemies. But when destiny comes for Ethan, there is no escape from a danger long, long forgotten.

My Rating: ***

I recently got into NetGalley, which is a great source for professional readers (which I happen to be as a book blogger :D - don't I sound all hoity-toity calling myself a professional reader?) where I can request a digital copy of books to read for review from various publishers. When I first got on to NetGalley I was like a kid in a candy store. I can read books before they're published! Wahoo! So I requested several and was shocked when I actually got approved for most of them! This is the first review I've done of a NetGalley book and I want to say thank you to NetGalley and Harlequin Teen for letting me read The Lost Prince early. It is now released (as of the 23rd, I believe) so you can buy this book or request it from the library if you're interested!

I chose The Lost Prince because it sounded great and not because I'm a fan of Julie Kagawa's Iron Fey series. Not that I don't like her other books... I just haven't read them yet. I was a little worried about that when I requested The Lost Prince, but decided to just go for it anyway, since The Lost Prince is the beginning of a whole new series in the same world. So, from experience, let me just tell you that if you haven't read the other Iron Fey books, you can start here and not feel too lost or left out of the loop. Sure there were times when it felt like Julie Kagawa was going, "Look! It's your favorite character here for a cameo!" but it didn't happen too often and the story stayed Ethan's.

I really liked Ethan. He made a great tormented hero. He acted like a complete jerk, but since I was inside his head I knew he was actually just afraid of the fey and terrified of getting close to people who might end up dead because of his tendency to be attacked by monsters.

I've always been a fan of faery stories and this one did some great things with fey mythology. I liked the whole magic system and the difference between the iron fey and regular fey. The villains were perfectly terrifying too.

My complaints? The romance developed too quickly and there was a soap-opera-y twist to it at the end too. And overall, while I liked it, it was easy to put down and I found myself constantly peeking ahead to see if I could get to something more interesting. The pacing felt a little slow. But when it finally picked up I liked where it went.

Recommended for: Fans of Julie Kagawa's Iron Fey series.

From Goodreads:
"Long live the King" hailed "Entertainment Weekly" upon the publication of Stephen King's "On Writing." Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer's craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King's advice is grounded in his vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported near-fatal accident in 1999 -- and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery. Brilliantly structured, friendly and inspiring, "On Writing" will empower and entertain everyone who reads it -- fans, writers, and anyone who loves a great story well told.

My Rating: ****

Not my usual read, but I've been wanting to do NaNoWriMo this year and I thought a book on writing might be just the kickstart I need. And it was. After reading it I've been feeling much more motivated to squeeze a few hundred words in a day. This book is totally inspiring.

And Stephen King's writing advice is excellent. As I read I kept wanting to take notes and highlight favorite sections and sentences. I resisted since it was a library book, but I may just need to buy a copy for myself.

Although... I'm not sure I'd want to read the whole thing again. The section on his life was interesting, but I can see why he became a horror novelist. He had kind of a twisted childhood. And the language in this book is pretty foul. He didn't use the "F" word as casually as J.K. Rowling did in Casual Vacancy, but it was plenty enough times for me (and really, Casual Vacancy isn't a very good measure because a book could have twenty "F" words per page and still not be as bad as Casual Vacancy).

But, like I said, the section on writing is genius. I immediately pulled out a recent transcript and turned into a serial killer, hacking and slashing at adverbs and dialogue tags and passages with passive voice.

Hmmm.... Maybe reading a book by Stephen King has been a bad influence on me. :D Too violent a metaphor?

And I'm pretty sure I never want to read any of Stephen King's novels. Just the brief blurbs and bits and descriptions of his inspiration were enough to give me nightmares. No thanks.

Highly recommended for: Anyone wanting some writing inspiration!

Done for the day! I think I should stop calling these mini-reviews. :D Sorry for being long-winded!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Ten/And Then There Were None

Ok, so it was really fun reading these two books back-to-back. Especially since the weather where I live has been rainy and overcast and gloomy and perfect for curling up with a murder mystery! Up first, Ten by Gretchen McNeil.

From Goodreads:
Don't spread the word!
Three-day weekend. House party.
White Rock House on Henry Island.
You do NOT want to miss it.

It was supposed to be the weekend of their lives—an exclusive house party on Henry Island. Best friends Meg and Minnie each have their reasons for being there (which involve T.J., the school’s most eligible bachelor) and look forward to three glorious days of boys and fun-filled luxury.

But what they expect is definitely not what they get, and what starts out as fun turns dark and twisted after the discovery of a DVD with a sinister message: Vengeance is mine.

Suddenly people are dying, and with a storm raging, the teens are cut off from the outside world. No electricity, no phones, no internet, and a ferry that isn’t scheduled to return for two days. As the deaths become more violent and the teens turn on each other, can Meg find the killer before more people die? Or is the killer closer to her than she could ever imagine?

My Rating: ***

So normally, this isn't the kind of book I just pick up. Especially with that horror label that came on the spine. I'm NOT a horror kind of person. But... this is a retelling of my favorite favorite favorite Agath Christie novel of all time (I read it probably thirty times when I was a teenager) and I just had to see how it translated to a contemporary teen novel.

Surprisingly not bad! I can't say I absolutely adored it. Was it original and clever? Not so much. But it made for a fun spooky read and I was exactly in the mood for it when I read it.

One of the things I was worried about was gore, and it was such a relief to me that this wasn't gory. It was about as descriptive of the violence as Ms. Christie's original. So, definitely some detail, but nothing to make me gag. There's plenty of death, but not in a nasty way.

I read this before rereading the original, a choice I'm glad I made. It kept my reading from being interrupted too much by that inner voice that constantly snarks about the original being better. There are plenty of things here that turned out differently than the original, but with enough nods to the source that it made me happy.

I liked Meg as a character. She didn't wimp out and cower. She took action and the whole story moved along thanks to her. The touch of romance was nicely done, but without taking focus away from the whole point of the book: SOMEONE IS KILLING EVERYONE! I was a little disappointed by the way the plot turned out - just your basic bullied girl gone psycho which has been done a million times, but I enjoyed it all the same. A little too tongue-in-cheek sometimes, though. Like after that DVD was watched, several people squealed and one said, "That's how horror movies start." You think?

Recommended if you need a YA murder mystery. Perfect for Halloween.

From Goodreads:
First, there were ten - a curious assortment of strangers summoned as weekend guests to a private island off the coast of Devon. Their host, an eccentric millionaire unknown to all of them, is nowhere to be found. All that the guests have in common is a wicked past they're unwilling to reveal - and a secret that will seal their fate. For each has been marked for murder. One by one they fall prey. Before the weekend is out, there will be none. And only the dead are above suspicion.

My Rating: *****

Quite frankly, the best murder mystery ever written. In my opinion.

Ten characters seems like a lot, but somehow Agatha Christie humanizes them all and makes it easy to get inside their brains. We get all their backstories, but without getting sucked into the past. And the danger and intensity are real, folks. It is terrifiying to watch them get murdered one by one, and to find out slowly why each has been targeted. And when at the end they are all dead, each clearly murdered, and with absolutely solid proof that no one else was on the island... well, it never ceases to blow my mind.

And when I read the epilogue and see how it was done I think every time what a complete genius Agatha Christie was.

It was great to read this again, especially because I was having a hard time remembering who did it. I haven't read it since I was in high school. It was fun. And it drove me crazy! There'd be segments where each character's thoughts were written and one of them was obviously the killer and I'd sit there and agonize over those segments, trying to figure out who was the killer because I knew I ought to remember, but just couldn't. And sometimes I could rule people out and sometimes I couldn't! Insane. But in a good way.

My number one recommendation to you this Halloween!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Why I couldn't finish The Casual Vacancy

When Barry Fairbrother dies in his early forties, the town of Pagford is left in shock.

Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war.

Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils...Pagford is not what it first seems.

And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations?

The Casual Vacancy is J.K. Rowling’s first novel for adults.

I'm sorry J.K. Rowling. I really wanted to like your adult novel. I really tried.

But it was obvious to me by twenty pages in that I wasn't going to be able to stomach the inappropriate content. The whole "adult" part of an "adult novel".

And what rubbish, really. Just because I'm an adult doesn't mean I want to read hundreds of "F" words and detailed sexual thoughts and acts. And that was in just the first twenty pages. By the time I stopped (at 150 pages in) I'd read thousands of "F" words and some seriously nasty details about people I'd now like to scrub out of my brain.

So much of this book is vile and offensive that it's hard to get invested in the good parts.

And by the way, this is NOT a murder mystery. It's really just about the people in the town of Pagford (many of whom are seriously screwed up) and how their local city council's civil war over a drug rehab center is affected by the random death of Barry Fairbrother. I guess it's supposed to be some sort of deep and emotional character study, except don't expect to like any of the characters. Not a one of them has any sort of redeeming value. Except maybe Barry. And he dies in the first two pages.

I am saying nothing against J.K. Rowling's writing style in general. If anything, she's far too good a writer. When she writes about awful things, she does it in a creative and stick-in-your-brain kind of way. Not necessarily a good thing when what's left stuck in your brain are details about child abuse, prostitution, drug use, affairs, cutting, depression, and sex, sex, and more sex. I shudder to think what I would have read about if I'd actually finished the book.

So if you're considering reading The Casual Vacancy, I hope I've given you fair warning.

NOT recommended.

Friday, October 12, 2012

A Little Regency Romance...

 I have a weakness for good, clean period romance. I'm obsessed with Jane Austen, love the works of Fanny Burney and Elizabeth Gaskell, and am always on the lookout for a good new find from that period (such as Julianne Donaldson's recent new release Edenbrooke). Occasionally I'll get a certain itch that only period romance can scratch. Here are some recent reads:

From Goodreads:

Lilly Haswell remembers everything -- whether she wants to, or not...

As Lilly toils in her father's apothecary shop, preparing herbs and remedies by rote, she is haunted by memories of her mother's disappearance. Villagers whisper the tale, but her father refuses to discuss it. All the while, she dreams of the world beyond --- of travel and adventure and romance.

When a relative offers to host her in London, Lilly discovers the pleasures and pitfalls of fashionable society and suitors, as well as clues about her mother. But will Lilly find what she is searching for --- the truth of the past and a love for the future?

My Rating: ***
Okay, I'm torn on this book. For one thing, I loved all the period details and the writing was fabulous. The story flowed along and I was completely interested in and invested in Lilly. Loved that she was so brilliant at apothecary science and really, all the apothecary details were my favorite. It fascinates and disgusts me what passed as medicine back then.

It really was a good read and I couldn't put it down but several things irritated me. Each of them were male. Too many suitors for your main character, Ms. Klassen! I hate that because I don't know who I'm supposed to root for or what's going to happen. Strange, but I actually like predictability in a romance (to a certain extent). There were a couple other storylines that ended up being dropped, which irritated me because I thought they were rather important. These are all personal opinions. Overall I thought the writing was nice and the romance clean, if frustrating. This is technically Christian Fiction, but don't let that turn you off. All it means is that Lilly occasionally decides to pray about her situation.

 From Goodreads:

The only place Darcy could share his innermost feelings was in the private pages of his diary...

Torn between his sense of duty to his family name and his growing passion for Elizabeth Bennet, all he can do is struggle not to fall in love.

Mr. Darcy's Diary presents the story of the unlikely courtship of Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy from Darcy's point of view. This graceful imagining and sequel to Pride and Prejudice explains Darcy's moodiness and the difficulties of his reluctant relationship as he struggles to avoid falling in love with Miss Bennet. Though seemingly stiff and stubborn at times, Darcy's words prove him also to be quite devoted and endearing - qualities that eventually win over Miss Bennet's heart. This continuation of a classic romantic novel is charming and elegant, much like Darcy himself.
My Rating: ***

I've been looking for a good P&P retelling for a while and this had some of the best reviews on Goodreads. There's another one I'm interested in, but it's actually a three book series by Pamela Aiden (Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman), but I decided I didn't really have time for three books. One was just right for my Pride and Prejudice fix.

It was fun to read it. There was a lot of straight up retelling of the book at times, but Darcy's perspective really added to certain parts. Of course he's dying to rush over and hold Elizabeth when he finds her crying over Jane's letter! We all know it, but it was fun to read. :D This story stayed true to the book, even going on a bit after the wedding (no bedroom scenes, thankfully) like the book does and I really loved that.

The writing is my main complaint. Some descriptions were very repetitive. Yes, I got the message; everything Elizabeth Bennett does is "satirically". But other than that, this was plenty of fun. Recommended for major P&P fans.


When Sir Hugh Stanton-Lacy went off to Brazil on a diplomatic mission, he entrusted his eighteen-year-old daughter Sophia to the care of his sister, Lady Ombersley. From the moment Sophy arrived, it was clear that she was no ordinary girl. She is The Grand Sophy - impulsive, direct, fearless, and a scandal to the proper society of London. But Sophy's energy, wit, spunk, and courage shook up and revitalized the entire family, especially her steely cousin, Charles Rivenhall. Saddled with the responsibility of paying his father's debts and keeping his younger brothers and sisters out of trouble, Charles was also engaged to a pious and prim young woman - until Sophy came along.

My Rating: ****

This is my first Georgette Heyer and I'm calling it a huge success. I ADORED Sophy. She was hilarious and just full to the brim with gumption. I loved watching her throw out convention and propriety at times to do what she thinks is right and she always had some ridiculously amusing scheme going on. She was so refreshing compared to other period heroines. My love for Sophy is right up there with Elizabeth Bennett. I found the whole novel incredibly entertaining.

But I don't think Georgette Heyer's writing is for everyone. It's seriously wordy and so packed full of unfamiliar details and dated slang that anyone (even Regency-obsessed people like me) would have a hard time following it at times. I know there were definitely passages I struggled with. But overall, the whole thing is so gosh darn fun that I couldn't dock it more than a half a star. I'd easily call this a four and a half star book. I will definitely be reading more Georgette Heyer.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Mini Reviews 10-4-12

I've been having a mini-crisis in my family these past couple weeks so I've fallen a bit behind on blogging. You know what that means: MINI TIME! Lots to catch up on. :D

 From Goodreads
The prequel to the New York Times bestselling Maze Runner series.

Before WICKED was formed, before the Glade was built, before Thomas entered the Maze, sun flares hit the earth and mankind fell to disease.

Mark and Trina were there when it happened, and they survived. But surviving the sun flares was easy compared to what came next. Now a disease of rage and lunacy races across the eastern United States, and there’s something suspicious about its origin. Worse yet, it’s mutating, and all evidence suggests that it will bring humanity to its knees.

Mark and Trina are convinced there’s a way to save those left living from descending into madness. And they’re determined to find it—if they can stay alive. Because in this new, devastated world, every life has a price. And to some, you’re worth more dead than alive.

My Rating: ***

The Kill Order was exactly what I expected it to be, maybe just a pinch better. It carries all of Dashner's distinctive writing traits, crazy creativity and a focus on non-stop action. There's barely time to breath. I think the world of The Maze Runner is fascinating and terrifying, but I was not satisfied with the way the series played out. There were some serious sacrifices made in character development to keep up that non-stop action pace throughout the books and some major questions left unanswered. That was the main reason I wanted to read this. Did I have my questions answered? Nope.

But still, it was an intense read and I felt like there was a little more emphasis on the plot and the people, instead of just the gore and the plague-ridden psychos. I liked seeing how it all started and I'm glad I read it. There were some weird inconsistencies, though, for example Mark and his friends all start to realize the plague is spreading so they sacrifice some of their friends' lives to keep from getting infected... but then... they meet an adorable four year-old girl who has OBVIOUSLY been infected and they go, "Oh... she's so cute! Let's all hug her and bring her with us! We don't care about getting the plague anymore!" It all made sense later why this particular girl was supposed to live, but at the time I just kept thinking, "LAME! INCONSISTENT!"

I had plenty of issues with the writing and the pacing, but overall better than I was expecting.

 From Goodreads:
Miranda wakes up alone on a park bench with no memory. In her panic, she releases a mysterious energy that incites pure terror in everyone around her. Except Peter, a boy who isn’t at all surprised by Miranda’s shocking ability.

Left with no choice but to trust this stranger, Miranda discovers she was trained to be a weapon and is part of an elite force of genetically-altered teens who possess flawless combat skills and powers strong enough to destroy a city. But adjusting to her old life isn’t easy—especially with Noah, the boyfriend she can’t remember loving.

Then Miranda uncovers a dark truth that sets her team on the run. Suddenly her past doesn’t seem to matter... when there may not be a future.

Dan Krokos’ debut is a tour-de-force of non-stop action that will leave readers begging for the next book in this bold and powerful new series.

My Rating: ****

Interesting! I really enjoyed this and thought the concept was nicely original and very well carried out. I'd like to see more of this kind of sci-fi in YA. Lots of deep ethical questions, balanced with a killer plot, nice action sequences, cool powers, sincere friendships, and nice romance.

It wasn't perfect, and some things about the memory loss bugged me. Miranda lost all of her memories, but they came back at strategically convenient moments. She never seemed to be without a memory when she really needed it. The whole thing wasn't explained all that well and I wasn't sure why she could remember certain things with no problems and not others. Then I also thought the love triangle took it too far. It's one thing to not be sure what you want... it's quite another to decide you want both and just go around kissing whenever the other person's back is turned. Too much snogging.

But there was a lot that I really liked and I think it's a definite read if you like sci-fi YA, memory loss, and X-Men style powers.

 From Goodreads:
After pulling some spectacular heists, Amy and Dan have become two of Interpol's most wanted criminals. So when Vesper One orders them to steal the world's largest diamond, they know they're facing life in prison...or worse. But with the Cahill hostages still in peril, Amy and Dan have no choice but to launch a mission that leads them to an ancient city full of dangerous secrets. With a Vesper mole sabotaging the Madrigals from inside, Amy and Dan have to fulfill their enemy's request before it's too late. Vesper One has developed a taste for killing Cahills, and Amy and Dan aren't going to wait to see who's next.

My Rating: ***

Book 4 in the Cahills vs. Vespers and I think I'm finally a bit sick of them. I'll be waiting a long time to get back to this series, probably until a solid three or four more are out. Everything's just too dragged out and stretched out for me and it's driving me crazy! At least Dan and Amy are no longer heisting. That was beginning to bother me. Still, this is a fun series for middle graders and I highly recommend it for the history, the travel, and the excitement.

 From Goodreads:
This first novel in Alexander McCall Smith's widely acclaimed The No. I Ladies' Detective Agency series tells the story of the delightfully cunning and enormously engaging Precious Ramotswe, who is drawn to her profession to "help people with the problems in their lives." Immediately upon setting up shop in a small storefront in Gaborone, she is hired to track down a missing husband, uncover a con man, and follow a wayward daughter. But the case that tugs at her heart, and lands her in danger, is that of a missing eleven-year old boy, who may have ben snatched by witch doctors.

My Rating: ****

I've been reading more "book club - ish" books lately and this one is lovely and entertaining. It's not all pretty though, in fact, some of the uglier aspects of African culture (particularly in regards to how women are treated) really made me angry. But mostly this book was humorous and interesting. I loved watching Precious on the case! She's intelligent and witty and absolutely delightful to follow.

From the description I was expecting to find a big overarching story arc based on that last case it mentions, but there's really none of that. It's a collection of short stories, and sprinkled throughout are stories from Precious's life and childhood. There are tons of books in this series, and I'll will probably eventually get around to more, but not for a while.


The purest intentions can stir up the darkest obsessions.

In this prequel to Mary Shelley's gothic classic, Frankenstein, sixteen-year-old Victor Frankenstein begins a dark journey that will change his life forever. Victor's twin, Konrad, has fallen ill, and no doctor can cure him. Unwilling to give up on his brother, Victor enlists his beautiful cousin Elizabeth and his best friend, Henry, on a treacherous serach for the ingredients to create the forbidden Elixir of Life. Impossible odds, dangerous alchemy, and a bitter love triangle threaten their quest at every turn.

Victor knows he must not fail. But his success depends on how far he is willing to push the boundaries of nature, science, and love - and how much he is willing to sacrifice.

My Rating: ****

One down on my Halloween book list! I really liked it. Even more than I thought I would. I was worried it would be too dark and that Victor would be all stereotypical brooding Gothic hero, but the whole thing was more - in a good way. I really loved the identical twin dynamic between Victor and Konrad. I also loved the shades in Victor's character. There's some wonderful good in him and even though I know he's headed towards being a psychotic mad scientist, I was cheering for him to succeed and not let the bad overcome the good. Also, the love triangle was not bad. Elizabeth knew exactly what she wanted, and there wasn't a lot of swapping kisses back and forth. No, Victor is mostly just a victim of unrequited love and it wasn't hard to feel sympathy for him.

The quest was a bit formulaic: translate needed ingredient, discover it is conveniently within an hour or two's trip to get it, experience major danger getting it, wash, rinse, repeat.

But who can complain when the setting is in gorgeous Geneva set in a deliciously gothic chateau with secret passageways and hidden libraries?

Not me. :D

Highly recommended if you need a spooky-ish read this October!
When does obsession become madness?
Tragedy has forced sixteen-year-old Victor Frankenstein to swear off alchemy forever. He burns the Dark Library. He vows he will never dabble in the dark sciences again - just as he vows he will no longer covet Elizabeth, his brother's betrothed.
If only these things were not so tempting.
When he and Elizabeth discover a portal into the spirit world, they cannot resist. Together with Victor's twin, Konrad, and their friend Henry, they venture into a place of infinite possibilities where power and passion reign. But as they search for the knowledge to raise the dead, they unknowingly unlock a darkness from which they may never return.
My Rating: ****
The sequel was MUCH scarier! Like I had constant chills and couldn't read it at night. Plenty of communicating with the dead and creating bodies and demons and caves and such *shudder*. I feel like I can easily recommend the first one (it wasn't nearly as scary as I think it pretends to be), but this one you might want to steer clear of if you don't like horror.
Victor is definitely getting closer to being the Dr. Frankenstein we all know and love. But book Dr. Frankenstein, not pop-culture Dr. Frankenstein. One thing I really loved about this series in general was how true I felt it stayed to the source material. Frankenstein is obsessed with science and has good motivations. He just went too far. That is exactly what's going on with Victor. I also liked the subtle nods to the original work, like the street named Wollstonecraft Alley (Wollstonecraft is Mary Shelley's maden name) and Henry Clerval's poem ("She walks in beauty like the night") which was really written by Lord Byron (who was there that night when Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein).
Anyway, overall this is a very interesting series and well done. I don't know if there will be another, but I'll be reading it if it does!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Fall Reading List

I'm trying to be more organized about what I read and maybe a bit less gluttonous, so I've made a list of the books I want to read this fall. Hopefully It'll help me be a bit more well-rounded as a reader (I'm trying to include more classics and such in my diet :D)

Books for Halloween:

Read 3 - 5

My options are:
 It's a classic, right? I've never read it.

 My husband (the German scholar) is a huge Faust fan and is always telling me I should read a translation. It's totally creepy and would be perfect for Halloween. If only it wasn't so long...
 Frankenstein would be a reread for me, but I loved it so much I really should read it again.
 These two are Frankenstein prequels, YA style. They've been on my radar for a little while and are currently both waiting at my library for me to pick up. Will definitely be reading them!

 I love Agatha Christie! I haven't read this one yet, but I own it, so I think I'll pick it up soon.
 My favorite Agatha Christie! Time for a reread.
 A new YA retelling of And Then There Were None. I'm really looking forward to seeing how it translates into a modern story. The reviews on Goodreads are pretty polarized (seems people either hate or love it) so I guess I'll have to see where I fit into the mix.
 Creepy and highly recommended to me by several friends. I think it's a must for this year.
 I've already read it but I can't think of a more perfect Halloween book!
 More Flavia. Need I say more?
This one makes the Halloween list since it is a murder mystery. I'm so worried about it! The blurbs all sound so boring. But.... it's J.K. Rowling. How can I not read it? I'm right in the front of my library's hold line for it, so I think I'll be getting it soon.

Classics I Own (both rereads and first reads):

Read 1 - 2


 It's been years since I read it, but the movie trailers are making me want to pick this classic back up.
 It's a favorite. And it's been too long.
 1. I've never read it. 2. I'm dying to see the movie. Pretty good reasons, no?
 I bought this a while ago and have been meaning to read it ever since. I love Arthurian legends and Disney's The Sword in the Stone. It's high time I actually got around to it.
 It's about rabbits. I know. But I keep hearing amazing things and I think I really ought to read it once in my life and I've been putting it off too long.
My least favorite Austen. She deserves another chance.

Georgette Heyer:

Read 1

Georgette Heyer is an author I've been meaning to read FOREVER. It seems like I really ought to like her books, but I've never gotten around to it. So, I've been researching blog posts and goodreads listopia and I've finally made a list of potential Georgette Heyers to try. These are supposed to be her best. Please, PLEASE tell me if you have a favorite. Here are my options:
The Grand Sophy
The Talisman Ring
The Convenient Marriage
A Civil Contract
These Old Shades
The Devil's Club
The Masqueraders
False Colours
Friday's Child

Writing Books:

Read 1

I'm trying to read more about writing, and this is supposed to be one of the best. Also, being by Stephen King, it puts off a sufficiently creepy vibe for October reading. :D

YA/MG New Releases (and others):

Read lots :D

 Out October 2nd! I've already pre-ordered it and can't wait to dive in.
 Sequel to Ruby Red, which was a favorite from last year. Wonderful time travel!
 I'm a little behind on this one; most everyone I know (in the book blogging world) has already read it since it started much-hyped. The hype has died down a bit and this book disappointed a lot of people, but I'm still looking forward to reading it myself.
 Another much-hyped recent release. Most reviews I've seen are alarmingly positive. I'm excited to check it out!
 Girl of Fire and Thorns would be a reread. I really liked it last year, but I was so heartbroken by the ending. From what I'm hearing about the sequel, I'm in for some serious goodness. The Crown of Embers is already released too! I need to get on it!

 Pirates. Assassins. Curses. Magic. Romance. YES!!! Out October 2nd.
 Sequel to Daughter of Smoke and Bone, which I loved. Can't wait to read this! Out November 6th.
Final book in the Matched trilogy! Out November 13th. I can't wait!

I think that might keep me busy for a bit. :D

What's on your to-read list this fall? Do you like reading classics? Any YA releases out soon I missed? Any Georgette Heyer or Halloween recommendations for me? Too many questions? ;)