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Monthly Archives: December 2010

The Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa

Cover of "The Iron Daughter (Harlequin Te...

Cover of The Iron Daughter (Harlequin Teen)

Book Title: The Iron Daughter (Iron Fey #2)

Author: Julie Kagawa

Publisher: Harlequin Teen

Original publication date: August 1 2010

Genre: Young Adult

Format/pages: Trade Paperback 359 pages

Format read: NetGalley ARC

Date read: December 29 2010

Rating: 5 / 5 Stars

My thoughts:

This is a great series and one of the few where the sequel actually improves on the first book. The second book in the Iron Fey series is action packed and without a dull moment. It was easier to become immersed in the story in the second book and the story is well balanced with just the right amount of action and romance.

The short summary below contains some light spoilers for the first two Iron Fey books:

The Iron Daughter picks off where The Iron King & the novella Winter’s Passage left off. Meghan and Ash are heading to the Winter Court as per Meghan’s contract with Ash. They had become closer on the journey to the court, but upon arrival Ash turns cold on Meghan again. Meghan is being held captive and without her powers to save her. When the scepter of the seasons gets stolen, Queen Mab holds the Summer Court responsible. It is up to Meghan to find the scepter and return it to Queen Mab before it gets into the wrong hands and before a war begins between the two courts.

Some favorite characters return in this book including Puck, Ash, and the cat that always shows up at just the right time Grimalkin. One of my other surprising favorite characters is one we were introduced to in the first book but who plays a more prominent role in this book. When you read the book I’m sure you will know who I’m referring to. The new characters such as the faerie Leanansidhe blended in seamlessly into the story.

Meghan grows and matures in this story and rises to the challenges facing her. I really want to learn more about her powers.

For those wanting more romance in The Iron King I think you will be pleased with The Iron Daughter. With the return of Puck, the romance is amped up and the love triangle is back in full force. Meghan has a tough decision to make between Ash and Puck.

This series is gracefully written and blends mythology, action and romance flawlessly. I’m hooked and eager to read the conclusion of the series with The Iron Queen, due out January 25 2011.

Thank you NetGalley and Harlequin Teen for providing the ARC for review.

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End of 2010 Survey

Jamie at the Perpetual Page Turner came up with this fun survey called The Best of 2010 in Books. I thought this would be fun to complete to close out the year.

Best Book of 2010: Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver. I was really moved by this book and blown away by Lauren Oliver’s writing. One of my all-time favorites! I also loved Delirium by the same author, although it technically comes out in 2011.

Worst Book of 2010: I found some redeeming quality in all the books I read this year, and can’t really call out any book as the worst.

Most Disappointing Book of 2010: Crescendo was not as satisfying a read for me as Hush, Hush. I couldn’t really get into Incarceron, but I know a lot of people loved it. Misguided Angel was not my favorite installment in the Blue Bloods series.

Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2010: Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour was a favorite this year, as well as Anna and the French Kiss. Both are heart-warming and charming books.

Book you recommended to people most in 2010: The Hunger Games trilogy- I recommend this series to everyone. It’s a great series that appeals to so many types of readers.

Best series you discovered in 2010: The Iron Fey, Pretty Little Liars, The Parasol Protectorate, Perfect Chemistry, The Glass series, The Summer I Turned Pretty

Favorite new authors you discovered in 2010: Lauren Oliver, Julie Kagawa, Stephanie Perkins, Kristin Cashore, Gail Carriger, Jenny Han, Simone Elkeles

Most hilarious read of 2010: Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares, Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side, and Audrey, Wait! all had me laughing out loud this year.

Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2010: It was hard to put down Mockingjay, and I wanted to read it quickly to avoid spoilers.

Book you most anticipated in 2010: Mockingjay, and The Last Sacrifice

Favorite cover of a book you read in 2010: I think the cover of Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares perfectly matches the tone of the book. Nightshade also has a striking cover.

Most memorable character in 2010: It was the year of the Mockingjay: Katniss Everdeen

Most beautifully written book in 2010: Fire by Kristen Cashore, Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly, and Room by Emma Donoghue.

Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2010 : I thought Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson was very well done. I read it during banned books week. Also The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney was a powerful book.

Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2010 to finally read: Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, also Wintergirls by the same author.

Book Blogging in 2010:

New favorite book blog you discovered in 2010: I’m new to the book blogging world, so all of the blogs were new to me. My favorites that I check out frequently are on the sidebar.

Favorite review that you wrote in 2010: Some of the reviews that I enjoyed writing this year are Room by Emma Donoghue, Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins, and The Iron King by Julie Kagawa.

Best discussion you had on your blog: I have not had any discussion posts yet, but maybe I’ll be brave enough next year!

Most thought-provoking review or discussion you read on somebody else’s blog: I have enjoyed the thoughtful discussion posts on Steph Su Reads.

Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.) San Diego Comic-Con was very memorable, and I was able to visit several publisher booths and see some favorite authors.

Best moment of book blogging in 2010: I just started blogging about five months ago, and it has been a lot of fun so far! I love the author, reader and blogger community in general.

Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.) I got a kindle this year and love it – I don’t know how I lived without it for so long. NetGalley has been a great resource, they are great to work with, and have a wonderful selection of books. And I joined LibraryThing this year and am enjoying finding my way around there.

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Top 10 Books of 2010

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish featuring a new top ten list each week. I have enjoyed reading their top ten lists each week but this is my first time participating.

This week’s topic is appropriately Top 10 Books of 2010!

Listed in no particular order, here is my top 10. Surprisingly, I read four of these books in December:

1. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver – OK, I lied -  this is my favorite book of 2010. I fell in love with this book and Lauren Oliver’s writing. Before I Fall has a great story and I was hooked immediately. I never thought Ms. Oliver’s follow-up to Before I Fall could ever compare- however Delirium is astounding as well!

2. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins – Just read this one in December. Very charming, sweet and witty. It is romantic and heart warming and sharply written with a great cast of characters. A new favorite author!

3. Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson – Touching story mixed with romance and humor. Love the playlists and the little details in this story. An engaging and heartwarming story.

4. The Iron King by Julie Kagawa- Another book I just read this month. Loved the writing and characters, the world building and the romance.

5. Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan – Such a funny, smart and sweet story. Love the New York at Christmas-time setting. Really enjoyed reading this over the holidays. There are some laugh-out-loud moments in this book.

6. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins – Probably a controversial choice. I have read The Hunger Games series a few times and appreciate this book more and more. An emotional and satisfying conclusion to the series. The first dystopian series I was introduced to and I was hooked.

7. Nightshade by Andrea Cremer – A thrilling start to a new paranormal series. Creative and well-written, with strong characters, interesting mythology and world building. And there’s a love triangle to top it off-  my choice for Calla is Ren – looking forward to seeing how it all plays out. This one has stayed with me and I can’t wait to read the follow-up Wolfsbane.

8. Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready – A new twist to the paranormal genre that is smart and unique. There is fantasy, mystery, politics, friendship, family, grieving and a love triangle. Can’t wait to read book two Shift.

9. The Dark Divine by Bree Despain – I liked the mix of drama, mystery and romance, and the pacing of the story. I was hooked from beginning to end. The sequel The Lost Saint should be arriving on my kindle any minute – can’t wait!

10. Last Sacrifice by Richelle Mead – I was sad the Vampire Academy series had to end, but was thoroughly satisfied with the conclusion. Last Sacrifice was action packed and full of growth and self-discovery for all the main characters. The murder investigation kept me guessing throughout. Looking forward to reading the spin-off series Bloodlines.

A few other books I really enjoyed this year:

Ghost Town by Rachel Caine, Soulless by Gail Carriger, Linger by Maggie Stiefvater, Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King, Heist Society by Ally Carter, Sea by Heidi R. Kling, Freefall by Mindi Scott

Looking forward to seeing everyone’s top ten list! What were your favorite books of 2010?

The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

Cover of "The Iron King (Harlequin Teen)&...

Cover of The Iron King (Harlequin Teen)

Book Title: The Iron King (Iron Fey #1)

Author: Julie Kagawa

Publisher: Harlequin Teen

Original publication date: February 1 2010

Genre: Young Adult

Format/pages: Trade Paperback 363 pages

Format read: Own copy

Date read: December 26 2010

Rating: 5 / 5 Stars

Summary from the back cover:

Meghan Chase has a secret destiny—one she could never have imagined…

Something has always felt slightly off in Meghan’s life, ever since her father disappeared before her eyes when she was six. She has never quite fit in at school…or at home.

When a dark stranger begins watching her from afar, and her prankster best friend becomes strangely protective of her, Meghan senses that everything she’s known is about to change.

But she could never have guessed the truth—that she is the daughter of a mythical faery king and is a pawn in a deadly war. Now Meghan will learn just how far she’ll go to save someone she cares about, to stop a mysterious evil no faery creature dare face…and to find love with a young prince who might rather see her dead than let her touch his icy heart.

My thoughts:

I’ve owned this book for many months now and I’m kicking myself that it has sat on my shelf for so long. My daughter picked it up over the holiday break and devoured the entire series in a matter of days and told me I had to read it. I have to say this book is worth the hype and is definitely one of the better series about faeries.

Meghan Chase has always felt like the odd girl out at school and home. She has one close friend, Robbie, who calls her princess. Her mother has a new husband and young son after Meghan’s father mysteriously disappeared. When strange things start happening on her sixteenth birthday she has to go on a quest to the faery land of Nevernever. Luckily she has her friend Robbie, who is actually a fae known as Puck, to escort her on her journey. This is really where the book took off for me, as Puck and Meghan leave the human world.

The protagonist Meghan is an average girl, and it’s easy to relate to her. She is somewhat feisty and brave and deals with the task at hand without too much self pity. She is facing some tough realities and challenges with courage and resourcefulness.

Meghan has Puck as her guide in the faery realm, and the Cheshire cat, Grimalkin. Some of the other characters making an appearance will be familiar to faery enthusiasts and those familiar with A Midsummer Night’s Dream such as King Oberon and Queen Titania. The characters overall are well drawn and come alive in the story.

The writing flows very well, and the story is well paced. The world building and descriptions are vivid and very detailed and it is easy to visualize Nevernever. The story is action packed, and it can be violent at times. The fey politics, and the Summer, Winter and Iron courts were really fascinating to me.

In addition to the faery adventures and politics, there is also a love story, or actually a love triangle. Puck is Meghan’s good friend and protector and knows her better than anyone and so is a natural fit for Meghan. But Meghan is drawn to bad boy Ash, the Winter prince. Ash is aloof and mysterious, and an enemy of Puck, but he and Meghan are pulled to each other. Both Puck and Ash seem to be fine choices for Meghan, and I wonder how the love triangle will play out. The romance aspect balances very well with the action and mythology of the story.

The Iron King is recommended for fans of young adult fantasy, faery fans, or fans of love triangles. The Iron King is one of my favorites of the year and I’ve already started the sequel The Iron Daughter, which I like even better.

After reading The Iron King, check out the novella Winter’s Passage. It adds more details to the story including some good Ash and Meghan scenes and segues nicely into The Iron Daughter.

For more information:

Amazon / Goodreads / Authors blog

Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King

Book Title: Please Ignore Vera Dietz

Author: A.S. King

Publisher: Knoph Books for Young Readers

Original publication date: October 26 2010

Genre: Young Adult

Format/pages: Hardcover 326 pages

Format read: Library book

Date read: December 21 2010

Rating: 4 / 5 Stars

Summary from the publisher:

Vera’s spent her whole life secretly in love with her best friend, Charlie Kahn. And over the years she’s kept a lot of his secrets. Even after he betrayed her. Even after he ruined everything.

So when Charlie dies in dark circumstances, Vera knows a lot more than anyone—the kids at school, his family, even the police. But will she emerge to clear his name? Does she even want to?

Edgy and gripping, Please Ignore Vera Dietz is an unforgettable novel: smart, funny, dramatic, and always surprising.

My thoughts:

Vera is just trying to live her life flying under the radar, finishing high school and working full time delivering pizza. She lives alone with her dad, and is grieving over her ex-best friend Charlie, who died before they could reconcile. Vera’s a responsible student, she volunteers with animals, and is working to pay for college, but the stress of Charlie’s death has sparked a habit of drinking alcohol to cope.

Please Ignore Vera Dietz is a unique contemporary novel about grieving, growing up, and making life choices. The story is mainly told through Vera’s perspective, but there are occasional chapters told by “the dead guy” and Vera’s father, which fill in some of the details of Vera’s story. A town landmark also provides a perspective which works better than it sounds.

The protagnonist Vera lives a refreshingly normal life. She is smart, witty, and somewhat of a geek. She’s dealing with normal life problems while seeking redemption and dealing with the remorse she feels about Charlie’s death. She is trying to overcome the family demons in her closet and is concerned about turning into her mom while coming to terms with her dad. Vera is strong and responsible generally, but she makes some poor choices while she is trying to come to terms with Charlie’s death. She is at a crossroads figuring out her next step.

The tone is light and matter of fact while dealing with some heavy themes. Charlie’s story is a heart breaking and complex one and as the story unfolds we get to find out what causes his death. Charlie “appears” to Vera constantly after his death, and she feels his presence everywhere, even as a pickle in her sandwich. Vera knows she needs to help Charlie in order to help herself move on.

This storytelling is very unique, compelling and well written. I was turning pages eagerly to find out what happened with Charlie’s death, and how Vera will deal with the aftermath.Vera’s stories about delivering pizzas were horrifying – this is a more dangerous job than I realized!

This is the first book I have read by A.S. King but I’m looking forward to catching up on her first novel The Dust of 100 Dogs. If you liked other unique realistic fiction about grief such as The Sky is Everywhere, Revolution, or Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour I encourage you to check out Please Ignore Vera Dietz.

For more information:

A.S. King’s blog / Amazon / Goodreads

Waiting on Wednesday: Dark Parties by Sara Grant

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we are eagerly anticipating! Want to participate? Post your own WoW entry on your blog, and leave your link at Breaking the Spine.

This week’s selection is Dark Parties by 2011 debut author Sara Grant. I chose this book because it’s a dystopian novel and I’m still hooked on that genre. The premise sounds very dark, mysterious, and exciting. I’m also intrigued by the title and the cover.

Description from the publisher:

Sixteen-year-old Neva has been trapped since birth. She was born and raised under the Protectosphere, in an isolated nation ruled by fear, lies, and xenophobia. A shield “protects” them from the outside world, but also locks the citizens inside. But there’s nothing left on the outside, ever since the world collapsed from violent warfare. Or so the government says…

Neva and her best friend Sanna believe the government is lying and stage a “dark party” to recruit members for their underground rebellion. But as Neva begins to uncover the truth, she realizes she must question everything she’s ever known, including the people she loves the most.

Dark Parties is due to be published August 3 2011 by Little, Brown.

For more information:

Goodreads / Amazon

What are you waiting on this week?

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Book Title: Anna and the French Kiss

Author: Stephanie Perkins

Publisher: Dutton

Original publication date: December 2 2010

Genre: Young Adult

Format/pages: Hardcover, 372 Pages

Format read: Kindle edition

Date read: December 17 2010

Rating: 5 / 5 Stars

Summary from the the author’s website:

Anna was looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. So she’s less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris—until she meets Étienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, Étienne has it all . . . including a serious girlfriend.

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.

My thoughts:

What a charming debut! I fell in love with this book, and am already reading it a second time. It is romantic and heart warming and sharply written with a great cast of characters. The romantic city of Paris provides the perfect backdrop to this story and will leave you longing to visit. Anna is definitely one of my favorite books of 2010, and very deserving of the hype. It is hard to believe this is Stephanie Perkins debut novel. Anna deserves a spot on the top of holiday wish lists.

Anna is a high school student from Atlanta, Georgia who is sent to study at an American school in Paris for her senior year. She loves to write film reviews and hopes to one day be a famous film critic. She unfortunately does not speak French and leaves behind her best friend and her crush in Atlanta. Once in Paris, she is scared to order food in the cafeteria and is embarrassed to be taking beginner’s French. Anna is taken under the wing of a group of friends including the British/American Etienne St. Clair.

As the love interest, Etienne is charming and sweet and perfect for Anna, except for the fact that he has a serious girlfriend. And Anna is still interested in the boy back home. Anna’s friendship with Etienne is well developed and believable, and they have great chemistry. He shows her around Paris, and accompanies her to see classic American films at the revival houses in Paris.

In addition to the love story, Anna also explores friendship drama, such as when two friends fall for the same guy. Family relationships and school bullies are some of the other stories found in Anna. The city of Paris is another central character to the story and visiting the landmarks adds to its charm.

Anna and the French Kiss is a gem and recommended for fans of YA Romance, or anyone looking for a well-written feel good novel. Anna will have you beaming from ear to ear. Enjoy it curled up with a cup of chocolat chaud!

There will be two companion books to Anna and the French Kiss. Lola and the Boy Next Door is due out September 29 2011 and will be followed by Isla and the Happily Ever After in the Fall of 2012.

For more information:
Amazon / Goodreads / Stephanie Perkins blog

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