Saturday, July 16, 2011
In the interest of keeping track of the books I have read so far, here's a quick and dirty list.
Shift by Jeri Smith-Ready
This is the second in the Shade series. Really interesting premise- trying to figure out the mystery of why everyone born after Aura is able to see ghosts. I also really like Zachary as a love interest. 4 Stars
Providence by Jamie McGuire
This book was entertaining enough, but not especially well written or memorable. There were some interesting paranormal elements, but the whole 'world' didn't really make sense to me and some parts of the story were undeveloped to me. 3 Stars.
Cascade by Lisa T. Bergren
This was the second in the Rivers of Time series. I love the female characters and how fierce they are. I am fascinated by the concept of time travel and so that really makes the story for me. 4 Stars.
Entwined by Heather Dixon
This was a retelling of the fairy tale of the 12 Dancing Princesses. I didn't realize that when I started reading it, so it took me a minute to figure everything out (I really need to do a better job of reading book summaries instead of just picking pretty covers from my Amazon Wishlist). I thought it was a pretty fleshed out story- there were so many details and so much background that made the book much deeper than just a fairy tale. 4 Stars
The Angel Experiment, School's Out Forever, Saving the World by James Patterson
This series was recommended to me by a student, and there were parts of it I really liked. I love Max's snarky, fresh voice. I love the quick pace. But the whole story line was so ridiculous and far-fetched and random, I could never fully get on board. It was action-packed, which is great for young readers, but to me it just felt less nuanced than I would have liked. I think I am done with the series after the first 3 books. It still gets 3 Stars from me for humorous dialogue, which I love.
Fire Study by Maria Snyder
It took me months to get through this book because I kept putting it down without wanting to pick it up again. I loved the first in the series SO much (Poison Study), but the series went downhill for me. This one sadly is 2.5 stars. I just wanted everything to feel finished, so I read it, but almost wish I would have stopped after Poison Study.
Rival by Sara Bennet Wealer
This was a pretty average book, and not at all what I expected. I wouldn't really recommend it to a friend- it didn't really feel like anything happened, and I didn't fall in love with any of the characters. 2 Stars
Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini
This book I really enjoyed! I love Greek mythology, and I couldn't put it down. Helen ends up being remarkably beautiful and talented, and I actually didn't hate her. She was raised with a sense of humility, which felt sincere to me. I wasn't as in to the love story as I thought it would be, and it was a major focus of the book. I was most interested in the way the story was unfolding. My only complaint was that the writing wasn't always clear- like something would happen literally, but the writing was so vague I couldn't figure out if it was actually happening or if the author was being figurative. It led to some minor confusions, but overall I enjoyed this one. 4 Stars.
Forgotten by Cat Patrick
This book was so intriguing. The main character can't remember the past, only the future (and only in glimpses). She writes notes to herself to get through each day, and uses her future interactions with people to interact with them in the present. The premise was fascinating, and I really liked the main characters, the love story, and the plot twist at the end. It really made me think a lot about the brain and memory, and I loved trying to figure out the complexities of having a character with no history- only a future that she doesn't know if she can trust or she can change. 4 Stars.
Matched by Ally Condie
Matched is another dystopian Young Adult novel. Cassia is living in a perfect world where all of her decisions are made for her- and she can't wait to find her perfect match as determined by the data. When she is paired with her childhood best friend, Xander, she thinks it's perfect. However, her feelings become complicated with another childhood friend, Ky. I liked the way that this story was told, particularly how words and poetry were the catalyst for Cassia's growth and independence. The English teacher in me loves that. 4 Stars.
One Night that Changes Everything by Lauren Barnholdt
This is a cute love story where Eliza's ex-boyfriend and friends got their hands on her journal with a list of things she was too afraid to do, and put her through a night of dares straight from the list in order to get it back. I thought it was entertaining how Eliza's best friends bickered and egged her on. I liked Eliza and Cooper together, they were both kind of weak or insecure in realistic ways, but I still rooted for them throughout the book. The ending was a bit anticlimatic (I feel like this always happens with books that are told over a short period of time, like a day in this one). 3 Stars
HourGlass by Myra McEntire
I really liked Hourglass. The cover is beautiful, I loved the main character's name, Emerson Cole, and it has the time travel element that I enjoy so much. The whole supporting cast of characters was so strong- I loved Emerson's brother and his wife. They were so loving. This was probably my favorite book that I've read in awhile, and it's definitely 5 Stars for me.
Monday, April 18, 2011
A love out of time. A spaceship built of secrets and murder.
Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.
Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone-one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship-tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn't do something soon, her parents will be next.
Now Amy must race to unlock Godspeed's hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there's only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming.
I have mixed feelings about this one. I liked the premise of the book, but I wasn't prepared for how disturbing it was. It wasn't violent, it just creeped me out. A lot. The book was very provocative- I liked the part about rewriting history. I thought the characters were decent, but not especially endearing. It wasn't a bad book, I just didn't really enjoy it. I'm not even sure why. 2 stars.
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Desperate to flee these terrifying dreams--and her small town--she accepts a spot at a boarding school in France. Only, when she arrives, her nightmares get worse.
But then there are her amazing dreams, so vivid and so real, with visits from an alluring, mysterious, and gorgeous Italian boy from the 1500s. Caitlyn knows they are soul mates, but how can she be in love with someone who exists only in her dreams?
Then, as her reality and dream world collide, Caitlyn searches for the real reason why she was brought to this school. And what she discovers will change her life forever.
The Mortal War is over, and sixteen-year-old Clary Fray is back home in New York, excited about all the possibilities before her. She's training to become a Shadowhunter and to use her unique power. Her mother is getting married to the love of her life. Downworlders and Shadowhunters are at peace at last. And—most importantly of all—she can finally call Jace her boyfriend.
But nothing comes without a price.
Someone is murdering Shadowhunters, provoking tensions between Downworlders and Shadowhunters that could lead to a second, bloody war. Clary's best friend, Simon, can't help her. His mother just found out that he's a vampire and now he's homeless. Everywhere he turns, someone wants him on their side—along with the power of the curse that's wrecking his life. And they're willing to do anything to get what they want. Not to mention that he's dating two beautiful, dangerous girls—neither of whom knows about the other one.
When Jace begins to pull away from her without explaining why, Clary is forced to delve into the heart of a mystery whose solution reveals her worst nightmare: she herself has set in motion a terrible chain of events that could lead to her losing everything she loves. Even Jace.
Love. Blood. Betrayal. Revenge. The stakes are higher than ever in City of Fallen Angels.
I have had good luck with books this week, because here is my third 5 star rating in a row! I really enjoy Cassandra Clare's books, and this one was no exception. It is the fourth in the City of Bones series (which was originally a trilogy) and it picked up after all of the Valentine conflict had been resolved. It is told in alternating narratives, so that we see what is happening with Clary, Jace, Simon, etc.
I enjoyed this one a great deal, and I am happy that there will be another book in the series after this (well, I'm assuming from the conclusion and all of the cliffhangers). I really feel bad for some of the characters (ahem, Jace) and would like to see Clare cut them a break once in awhile! As soon as you feel comfortable with a resolution, it gets yanked away! But, stories devoid of conflict aren't really worth telling (as I tell my students all the time!) This one is full of drama and conflict, and is another really good book. There isn't too much I can say about where the story picks up and where it heads that won't totally give away the first three books, so I will just leave it at that.
I also enjoyed this because many of my students have started reading the series (I had like 10 copies of City of Bones and they have been gobbled up by some of the girls in class). It's just more enjoyable to have someone else sharing a reading experience with you, and I can't wait for them to catch up and read this latest installment! 5 Stars
Meanwhile, Princess Raisa ana’Marianna runs from a forced marriage in the Fells, accompanied by her friend Amon and his triple of cadets. Now, the safest place for Raisa is Wein House, the military academy at Oden's Ford. If Raisa can pass as a regular student, Wein House will offer both sanctuary and the education Raisa needs to succeed as the next Gray Wolf queen.
The Exiled Queen is an epic tale of uncertain friendships, cut-throat politics, and the irresistible power of attraction.
Times are hard in the mountain city of Fellsmarch. Reformed thief Han Alister will do almost anything to eke out a living for himself, his mother, and his sister Mari. Ironically, the only thing of value he has is something he can’t sell. For as long as Han can remember, he’s worn thick silver cuffs engraved with runes. They’re clearly magicked—as he grows, they grow, and he’s never been able to get them off.
While out hunting one day, Han and his Clan friend, Dancer catch three young wizards setting fire to the sacred mountain of Hanalea. After a confrontation, Han takes an amulet from Micah Bayar, son of the High Wizard, to ensure the boy won't use it against them. Han soon learns that the amulet has an evil history—it once belonged to the Demon King, the wizard who nearly destroyed the world a millennium ago. With a magical piece that powerful at stake, Han knows that the Bayars will stop at nothing to get it back.
Meanwhile, Raisa ana’Marianna, Princess Heir of the Fells, has her own battles to fight. She’s just returned to court after three years of relative freedom with her father’s family at Demonai camp – riding, hunting, and working the famous Clan markets. Although Raisa will become eligible for marriage after her sixteenth name-day, she isn't looking forward to trading in her common sense and new skills for etiquette tutors and stuffy parties.
Raisa wants to be more than an ornament in a glittering cage. She aspires to be like Hanalea—the legendary warrior queen who killed the Demon King and saved the world. But it seems like her mother has other plans for her--plans that include a suitor who goes against everything the Queendom stands for.
The Seven Realms will tremble when the lives of Han and Raisa collide in this stunning new page-turner from bestselling author Cinda Williams Chima.
Saturday, April 9, 2011
Yet these unwanted children are more remarkable than they could possibly imagine. Ripped from their parents as babies,
Before long, Kate, Michael, and Emma are on a journey to dangerous and secret corners of the world...a journey of allies and enemies, of magic and mayhem. And—if an ancient prophesy is correct—what they do can change history, and it is up to them to set things right.
The Emerald Atlas brims with humor and action as it charts Kate, Michael, and Emma's extraordinary adventures through an unforgettable, enchanted world.
Sunday, April 3, 2011
I love the covers for this series. In fact, I love a lot about this series - Sophie, the politics of her magic world, her friends and love interests, and how the author keeps the pace going throughout the book so that it never drags! One thing I am not loving- the huge cliffhanger at the end of the book that is making me desperate for the next one in the series! This is another one that is good for middle-school aged kids- I can picture a lot of the girls in my class being sucked in by the cover and then enjoying a fast paced, funny series (like Percy Jackson). 4 Stars
This review is tough- I'm not entirely sure how I feel about this one. It has a very dark, morbid, Poe-esque feel to it, which I liked. Another thing I liked were the supporting characters- they were pretty amazing. I really liked Theia's development throughout the story. (Her name is Greek for goddess- I'm wondering if the author will be playing that angle in the future books). As I'm sure you can all tell by my other reviews- I'm tired of the girl falling for the dark, evil boy who is stalking her either because he loves her or wants to murder her. And there is a lot of that going on here. Besides that, it was an OK start to a new series with some potential. And a debut author too! 3 Stars.
Here's another one that I solidly enjoyed. The main character was quirky and original, yet still as self-absorbed as our teenage years demand. The premise of the novel was cute- in order to work through a family issue, the M.C. Payton Gritas is forced to see the school psychologist. She is given an assignment- find an inanimate 'focus object' to journal about for several weeks. She chooses Sean's head, as he sits in front of her in classes since grade school. As she starts to get to know him for 'research', Payton realizes there is a lot more to Sean than his oversized melon, and comes to terms with her issues. It was cute and touching, and a fun read even for middle-school aged kids as the content is P.G.
First of all, I love this cover! As for the book itself, I liked it. It wasn't what I imagined at all. I was a bit unbelieving of the world that Oliver builds- it was so much like ours but with demons running around- I found it unsettling. Regardless, I will continue on in the series because I really liked Beck and I want to see what happens between Riley and him. Some cool mythology and a major cliffhanger pretty much hooks me every time...
I know that the cover is less than enticing- but I truly love Richelle Mead and her books. The Dark Swan series is probably my least favorite, but it's still enjoyable. Lots of action, some character development, and definitely a set-up for a future book. I hope Eugenie makes up her mind on some major issues in the next one...
So I apologize that these following reviews will be the quick and dirty version- some of these I read a month ago!
Saturday, March 5, 2011
As soon as I read this book blurb on Amazon, I wanted to read it immediately. About 10 months later, I finally did! I read this one immediately after North of Beautiful, and finished within 48 hours (North of Beautiful took me over 3 weeks because I kept putting it down). I thought A Match Made in High School was cute and funny, and a pleasurable read. 4 Stars!
Fiona is fun- she is sassy, confident, and completely imperfect. She has all the narcissism of her teenage years. I love Fiona because she wasn't a wallflower type in need of a makeover- she had spunk and self-confidence and humor. She evolved as her senior year progressed in the novel.
O.K.- so the marriage class is clearly contrived. Once I swallowed this unrealistic bit down (I had to do so quickly, since it is absolutely essential to the story), the plot is really quite enjoyable. I loved the pranks and sense of humor in the characters. I loved that none of the characters perfectly fit the archetype they seemed to be set in at the beginning of the story.
I can't say anything on this front, as it would spoil the whole novel. You'll have to read to find out! Things aren't as they seem....
It's hard not to notice Terra Cooper.
She's tall, blond, and has an enviable body. But with one turn of her cheek, all people notice is her unmistakably "flawed" face. Terra secretly plans to leave her stifling small town in the Northwest and escape to an East Coast college, but gets pushed off-course by her controlling father. When an unexpected collision puts Terra directly in Jacob's path, the handsome but quirky Goth boy immediately challenges her assumptions about herself and her life, and she is forced in yet another direction. With her carefully laid plans disrupted, will Terra be able to find her true path?
Written in lively, artful prose, award-winning author Justina Chen Headley has woven together a powerful novel about a fractured family, falling in love, travel, and the meaning of true beauty.
Saturday, February 26, 2011
But Eon has a dangerous secret. He is actually Eona, a sixteen-year-old girl who has been masquerading as a twelve-year-old boy. Females are forbidden to use Dragon Magic; if anyone discovers she has been hiding in plain sight, her death is assured.
When Eon's secret threatens to come to light, she and her allies are plunged into grave danger and a deadly struggle for the Imperial throne. Eon must find the strength and inner power to battle those who want to take her magic...and her life.
Monday, February 21, 2011
Sunday, February 6, 2011
In order to develop a secure defense against a hostile alien race's next attack, government agencies breed child geniuses and train them as soldiers. A brilliant young boy, Andrew "Ender" Wiggin lives with his kind but distant parents, his sadistic brother Peter, and the person he loves more than anyone else, his sister Valentine. Peter and Valentine were candidates for the soldier-training program but didn't make the cut—young Ender is the Wiggin drafted to the orbiting Battle School for rigorous military training.
Ender's skills make him a leader in school and respected in the Battle Room, where children play at mock battles in zero gravity. Yet growing up in an artificial community of young soldiers Ender suffers greatly from isolation, rivalry from his peers, pressure from the adult teachers, and an unsettling fear of the alien invaders. His psychological battles include loneliness, fear that he is becoming like the cruel brother he remembers, and fanning the flames of devotion to his beloved sister.
Is Ender the general Earth needs? But Ender is not the only result of the genetic experiments. The war with the Buggers has been raging for a hundred years, and the quest for the perfect general has been underway for almost as long. Ender's two older siblings are every bit as unusual as he is, but in very different ways. Between the three of them lie the abilities to remake a world. If, that is, the world survives.
Princess and heir to the throne of Thorvaldor, Nalia's led a privileged life at court. But everything changes when it's revealed, just after her sixteenth birthday, that she is a false princess, a stand-in for the real Nalia, who has been hidden away for her protection. Cast out with little more than the clothes on her back, the girl now called Sinda must leave behind the city of Vivaskari, her best friend, Keirnan, and the only life she's ever known.
Sinda is sent to live with her only surviving relative, an aunt who is a dyer in a distant village. She is a cold, scornful woman with little patience for her newfound niece, and Sinda proves inept at even the simplest tasks. But when Sinda discovers that magic runs through her veins - long-suppressed, dangerous magic that she must learn to control - she realizes that she can never learn to be a simple village girl.
Returning to Vivaskari for answers, Sinda finds her purpose as a wizard scribe, rediscovers the boy who saw her all along, and uncovers a secret that could change the course of Thorvaldor's history, forever.
A dazzling first novel, The False Princess is an engrossing fantasy full of mystery, action, and romance.
Sinda was a pretty decent main character. The story and the world reminded me a lot of Poison Study (which I absolutely loved). I don't think that Sinda could compete with Yelena, who was so vibrant and authentic. But, I liked that she handled her situation with grace. I liked that she was on a journey to figure out who she is and where she fits in the world. I was a bit confused by the ease with which she leaves behind her life- she doesn't really mourn her family and friends in the way I might expect. But, her reaction to her situation ended up being a part of her development, so it did make sense for the story. She was strong and solid as far as a character goes.
My one complaint with characters is that they seemed to play their part in the story and then disappear. For example, Sinda's parents and aunt. There wasn't any continuity to the minor characters- it was very Sinda-centric.
I liked the story- full of political intrigue, magic, and the start of a romance. A lot happened in the book, the plot evolved at a fast pace.
There is no hint of romance in the book blurb, so I don't want to give too much away. I'll just say- there was some sparkage as the story progressed, but the relationship went from 0 to 60 in no time. I was a bit disconcerted by that. But, I liked Sinda's romantic partner as a character.
It was pretty good- I loved the premise of the story and there were no major flaws in the book. 3 stars!
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Saturday, February 5, 2011
But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss? Stephanie Perkins keeps the romantic tension crackling and the attraction high in a debut guaranteed to make toes tingle and hearts melt.
Sunday, January 23, 2011
Tamora Pierce begins a new Tortall trilogy introducing Beka Cooper, an amazing young woman who lived 200 years before Pierce's popular Alanna character. For the first time, Pierce employs first-person narration in a novel, bringing readers even closer to a character that they will love for her unusual talents and tough personality.
Beka Cooper is a rookie with the law-enforcing Provost's Guard, and she's been assigned to the Lower City. It's a tough beat that's about to get tougher, as Beka's limited ability to communicate with the dead clues her in to an underworld conspiracy. Someone close to Beka is using dark magic to profit from the Lower City's criminal enterprises--and the result is a crime wave the likes of which the Provost's Guard has never seen before.
What Lily Carter wants most in the world is to attend Princeton University just like her grandfather. When she finally visits the campus, Grandpa surprises her: She has been selected to take the top-secret Legacy Test. Passing means automatic acceptance to Princeton. Sweet!
Lily's test is to find the Ivy Key. But what is she looking for? Where does she start? As she searches, Lily is joined by Tye, a cute college boy with orange and black hair who says he's her guard. That's weird. But things get seriously strange when a gargoyle talks to her. He tells her that there are two Princetons—the ordinary one and a magical one—and the Key opens the gate between them. But there are more secrets that surround Lily. Worse secrets.
When Lily enters the magical Princeton, she uncovers old betrayals and new dangers, and a chance at her dream becomes a fight for her life. Soon Lily is caught in a power struggle between two worlds, with her family at its center. In a place where Knights slay monsters, boys are were-tigers, and dragons might be out for blood, Lily will need all of her ingenuity and courage—and a little magic—to unite the worlds and unlock the secrets of her past and her future.
This book actually surprised me. About 50 pages I was wondering where it was going- the story I was expecting was playing out way too quickly. And- I was pleasantly surprised. I thought I had the book pegged in the beginning, but it wasn't what I expected.
There is not a lot of upfront characterization in this book. I had no idea what Lily looked like (unless I read it and instantly forgot the physical description). She is on Princeton's campus for a an alumni weekend with her grandfather, and almost no attention is paid to what her life is like before. At times, it almost felt like she didn't exist before the story started. There were a few hints about Lily's life before the story starting, but nothing that I could put together in a comprehensive picture of her. As for characterization that happens as the story is unfolding- I don't know! She seemed very perfect at parts. I didn't always understand her feelings or reactions. I'm still a little confused on Lily as a character.
I really enjoyed the story. I was actually surprised at different points- this does not happen often! Various elements of the story were woven together- it seemed very well-planned. There was a lot of action. There were many more conflicts than the Book Blurb lets on. The themes were conveyed brilliantly. Moral ambiguity abounded. I was expecting a one-dimensional story- and it wasn't at all!
Again, my feelings towards Lily might cloud this one. I never really could figure out how she felt about Tye, or some of the other potential love interests. The whole relationship was a bit anticlimatic. I don't think this is a series, so it did feel unfinished to me, despite an epilogue-ish chapter at the end of the book that gives the reader an idea how things turned out for everyone.
I'm torn between 3 stars and 4 stars on this one. I definitely enjoyed it, but did have a couple of qualms with Lily.
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This book was recommended to me by my sister Clare. It was so cute! It was fun and light-hearted. I was entertained from start to finish, and really enjoyed how Cabot told the story through e-mails from character to character.
The characters are all cute- that's the best word I can think of to describe them. It doesn't deviate too far from what you'd expect from a romantic girl-meets-boy story in terms of characterization. Mel is sweet, kind-hearted, and funny. John is family-oriented, loyal, and charming. I rooted for both of them as I read. All of the minor characters are equally likeable.
Again, I thought the way the story was told through e-mails was clever and enjoyable. It gave the book a different feel, even though the story falls into a typical romantic novel schema. I enjoyed the fact that there was no over-written sex scenes- it was light and fun all the way through.
I loved Mel and John, and it was so fun to hear about their developing feelings through emails to family and friends. They had the normal miscues of a new relationship, and one extremely not-normal identity issue that served as the conflict for the story.
It was a fun read, easily read in one sitting. It wouldn't be a book I would ever pick up to re-read, but it was good the first time around. As I look over the review, the words "light", "cute", and "fun" keep showing up. So- overall it was light, cute, and fun, and I give it 4 stars!