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Monthly Archives: March 2011

We’ll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han

Book: We’ll Always Have Summer (Summer #3) by Jenny Han

Published by: Simon & Schuster, April 26 2011

Genre: Young Adult

Format/pages: Hardcover 288 pages

Format read/Source: e-Galley via Simon & Schuster Galleygrab

Date read: March 8 2011

Rating: 5 / 5 Stars

Summary from the author’s website:

It’s been two years since Conrad told Belly to go with Jeremiah. She and Jeremiah have been inseparable ever since, even attending the same college– only, their relationship hasn’t exactly been the happily ever after Belly had hoped it would be. And when Jeremiah makes the worst mistake a boy can make, Belly is forced to question what she thought was true love. Does she really have a future with Jeremiah? Has she ever gotten over Conrad? It’s time for Belly to decide, once and for all, who has her heart forever.

My Thoughts:

This has been a fun trilogy, and I have enjoyed these books over warm sunny days. This series is a coming of age story about a girl named Isabel (Belly) and her relationship drama as she is torn between two brothers, Conrad and Jeremiah Fisher. The setting is a cozy beach house in Cousins Beach where Belly spends the summers along with her mother and brother at the Fisher’s house. Belly was always looked upon as the annoying little sister until things changed one summer. Conrad is the brother Belly has always had a crush on, but he is the more unattainable of the two. Jeremiah has a sweet and sunny disposition that capture’s Belly’s attention as well. Much drama ensues to bring us here to the final book where Belly will end this triangle once and for all.

This installment takes place a couple years after the last book, and the characters have grown quite a bit. Belly is now in college with Jeremiah and trying to go by Isabel now. Belly is endearingly her uncertain self and facing several difficult challenges. I think that the passing of time has changed the vibe of the books a bit. It hasn’t changed in a bad way; the tone just feels a little different. The characters have matured in surprising ways. It was somewhat unsettling to see some of the changes in the two brothers in this book. Though still recognizable, the brothers have some out of character moments. It was great to have Conrad’s view represented and get to know him better as he gets a turn at some of the narration.

There is the usual drama and angst in this book to keep things interesting, but it’s balanced with happier times too. My eyes were glued to the pages till the end to see how it would all shake out. I was pleased with the ending and felt that it was an emotional and satisfying end to the series.

This is a fun beach-read type series. The writing flows well, the setting is lovely, and the story is emotional and sweet. It is a great time to start on this trilogy so you can read them straight through. The first two books in the series are: The Summer I Turned Pretty followed by It’s Not Summer Without You . Author Jenny Han is following the Summer series with something different – a YA supernatural trilogy called Signs. The first book is called Burn for Burn and it is due out in 2012.

Check out Jenny Han’s website for more info about the book including the book’s music playlist and follow her on twitter. Find out more about the book at Goodreads or preorder at Amazon.

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Dark Mirror by M.J. Putney: Book Review and Giveaway

Book: Dark Mirror by M.J. Putney

Published by: St. Martin’s Griffin, March 1 2011

Genre: Young Adult

Format/pages: Trade Paperback 320 pages

Format read/Source: ARC via LibraryThing Early Reviewers

Date read: March 28 2011

Rating: 4 / 5 Stars

My Thoughts:

Dark Mirror is the first book in a unique new YA series by M.J. Putney. It is a historical fiction novel set in England in 1803 about Lady Victoria “Tory” Mansfield and her paranormal adventures. This book actually tells two historical stories in one through the magic of time travel. Along with a bit of romance, this book has it all!

Tory has just discovered she has some magical power when she finds herself floating above her bed. This power soon comes in handy and helps her to save a young boy’s life. Her family, however, is shamed rather than grateful for Tory’s magic and immediately sends her away to Lackland Abbey to learn to control her magic with other mages. In the beginning Tory wants to be cured, but soon is intrigued to learn more about her new powers. She suddenly finds herself on a new adventure when she stumbles through a magical time travel mirror 100 years in the future. She finds herself wondering why she is there and if she was sent there with a higher purpose.

This book starts out a bit slow, but I was soon caught up in the story and found myself quickly turning the pages. I thought the historical aspect was fascinating and seeing how the future England compared and was similar to Tory’s present day England. The book got more interesting and exciting for me once Tory travels to the future. Although her classmates and teachers at Lackland are intriguing, it felt like the plot moved along more swiftly when the action moved to the future and with the added characters.

The magical aspect is compelling and it is interesting to see the different powers her classmates possess. There are all kinds of mages in the book including those that control the weather, create heat, or can heal. In addition to practicing magic, Tory is also involved in the beginnings of a romance. The romance angle is not a huge part of the book, which is more about Tory learning about her powers. I’m curious to find out what happens in the sequel.

I liked the descriptive writing and the imaginative story, and felt like I was transported in time reading this book. I recommend this series for fans of paranormal, romance, fantasy and historical fiction.

Currently there is a free bonus Dark Mirror eBook short story available on Amazon to give you a taste of the book. Dark Mirror also has a sequel due out in September of this year titled Dark Passage.

For more information:

Amazon | Authors website

Update: Random.org has chosen Hira as the winner! Congrats Hira – Dark Mirror is on it’s way to you.

 

 

Waiting on Wednesday: Enshadowed by Kelly Creagh

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine highlighting 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 Enshadowed, the sequel to last year’s Nevermore. The cover and the synopsis were just announced last week and the book is expected to be released in January of next year. It will be a long wait, but it’s something to look forward to. The description sounds very intriguing and exciting, and it looks like there will be more angst in store for Varen and Isobel. I can’t wait to read it.

Summary from Goodreads:

While Varen remains a prisoner in the dream-world, Isobel is haunted by his memory. He appears to her in her dreams and soon, even in her waking life. But is she just imagining it? Isobel knows she must find a way back to Varen. She makes plans to go to Baltimore. There, she confronts the figure known throughout the world as the Poe Toaster—the same dark man who once appeared to Isobel in her dreams, calling himself “Reynolds.”

Isobel succeeds in interrupting the Toaster’s ritual and, in doing so, discovers a way to return to the dream-world. Soon, she finds herself swept up in a realm which not only holds remnants of Poe’s presence, but has also now taken on the characteristics of Varen’s innermost self. It is a dark world comprised of fear, terror, and anger.

When Isobel once more encounters Varen, she finds him changed. With his mind poisoned by the dream world, he becomes a malevolent force, bent on destroying all—even himself. Now Isobel must face a new adversary, one who also happens to be her greatest love.

ENSHADOWED is due to be published January 24 2012 by Simon & Schuster. Plenty of time to read or revisit NEVERMORE before then.

For more information:

Goodreads | Author’s Blog

What are you waiting on this week?

Top Ten Tuesday: Top 10 Bookish Pet Peeves

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish featuring a new top ten list each week. Everyone can participate- head on over to their blog and sign up.

This week’s topic is Top 10 Bookish Pet Peeves. This includes all those things that annoy you in a story, with book covers, bookstores, etc. I seem to have many bookish pet peeves and had no problem making this list. Here is my top 10 in no particular order:

1. Inconsistent pricing between paper books and e-books – I have an e-reader and due to space and convenience would prefer to purchase e-books. However, I’ve noticed many times that new release hardcover books will be priced cheaper than the e-book. Wish that the e-book price could match the paper version or if the paper version would include a link for an e-copy.

2. Inconsistent book formats within a series (books change from paperback format to hardcover) - I understand that this is to make more money when the series gains popularity. However, now the books don’t match on my shelves.

3. Cover art style change in the middle of the series – This was brought up recently with the Nightshade series, and I also noticed it with Vampire Academy. It seems silly, but in the case of Nightshade the cover drew me to the book initially and I grew attached to the style.

4. Too many books in a series / Unnecessary sequels- Some series books go on a little too long, and some of the installments are not as fulfilling as others.  Also, it’s OK to have a standalone book. When I was a kid I used to wish that certain books I read would continue with sequels. Now it is uncommon to find standalone books.

5. E-books availability in libraries / legal e-book sharing – It would be nice to check out e-books from libraries, or find more of a selection. I just found out about Booklending and ebookfling for legal e-book sharing. I’m going to offer to lend some of my books and see how it works.

6. Dog-eared pages or dirty, torn pages in library books – The condition of some of the library books is pretty bad. I generally stick to new releases, but I really notice the condition in older books I borrow.

7. Book blurbs that give too much away or are misleading – I like to know just enough about the story in the book blurb, and try to avoid spoilers. Strangely, in some cases the blurb does not match up well with the book at all.

8. Quotation marks left off of dialogue in books – I can’t recall the book, but there was a book I read recently where it was difficult to figure out which character was speaking due to the missing quotation marks. It was confusing and distracting to read.

9. Love triangles – In many YA books I read chances are there is a love triangle. Wish that this device were used a bit less frequently.

10. Typos – I’m noticing a lot more typos in books lately. I don’t mind if there are one or two, but I’m noticing them more and more. I usually read books when they are first out, so maybe they are fixed in later editions. My daughter likes to spot and correct typos in her books.

Speaking of which, I polled my husband and daughter and they have a few bonus pet peeves to share.

Husband’s pet peeves:

  • Expensive books bought online that are poorly packaged for shipping and arrive dented and bent
  • Buying a used book and finding pages torn out
  • Large format books with a lot of text that are too heavy to read in bed

Daughter’s pet peeves:

  • Typos
  • Books that do not use standard spacing
  • No blank pages in the back, no author photo on book.
  • Book doesn’t end the way I want it to.

What are your bookish pet peeves? Feel free to share your links below so I can comment on your list.

Demonglass (Hex Hall #2) by Rachel Hawkins

Book: Demonglass (Hex Hall #2) by Rachel Hawkins

Published by: Hyperion Books CH, March 1 2011

Genre: Young Adult

Format/pages: Hardcover 359 pages

Format read/Source: Kindle Edition

Date read: March 19 2011

Rating: 4 / 5 Stars

Synopsis from Amazon

Sophie Mercer thought she was a witch.

That was the whole reason she was sent to Hex Hall, a reform school for delinquent Prodigium (aka witches, shapeshifters, and fairies). But that was before she discovered the family secret, and that her hot crush, Archer Cross, is an agent for The Eye, a group bent on wiping Prodigium off the face of the earth.

Turns out, Sophie’s a demon, one of only two in the world—the other being her father. What’s worse, she has powers that threaten the lives of everyone she loves. Which is precisely why Sophie decides she must go to London for the Removal, a dangerous procedure that will destroy her powers.

But once Sophie arrives she makes a shocking discovery. Her new friends? They’re demons too. Meaning someone is raising them in secret with creepy plans to use their powers, and probably not for good. Meanwhile, The Eye is set on hunting Sophie down, and they’re using Acher to do it. But it’s not like she has feelings for him anymore. Does she?

My Thoughts:

Demonglass is book two in the Hex Hall trilogy by Rachel Hawkins. I liked Hex Hall and the humor that sets it apart from other paranormal boarding school type books. Demonglass continues down the same witty and action-packed path and is as enjoyable as it’s predecessor.

This time around it’s Summer break and our spunky heroine Sophie packs her bags for England where she gets to bond with her dad before going through the Removal process. She wants to have her demon powers removed so that she can avoid hurting those around her. But even though the setting has changed from boarding school to English mansion, some of Sophie’s friends end up tagging along. She brings along her best pal Jenna the vampire and unexpectedly Cal, the school healer is asked to join them as well. A few other familiar faces turn up too to cause mischief and mayhem. I liked the mansion setting and the addition of the new characters to freshen up this installment. It was a nice surprise to see Sophie’s father and learn more about him to satisfy my curiosity from the first book.

In addition to learning more about her heritage and her demon powers, Sophie is still dealing with the aftermath of her entanglement with Archer. She is conflicted about her feelings for him, and to complicate matters he has also been spotted in England. The stage is set for Sophie to star in a love triangle with the dangerous warlock Archer and the older and father-approved healer Cal.

Sophie has some excitement in England when she gets caught up in a mystery with some new friends. She gets to play with her powers and it is fun to see her around other paranormals in these situations. The new characters bring a sense of the unknown, as it is hard to know whom to trust.

Overall this is a fun, fast-paced and action packed series and fans of the first book won’t be disappointed with the sequel. The game changing ending has me anticipating the final book in the series. I recommend this series to fans of YA paranormals such as Paranormalcy, Clarity or the Mortal Instruments. The final Hex Hall book is due out in 2012 so there is plenty of time to catch up with this series.

For more information:

Amazon | Goodreads | Author’s website

Chime by Franny Billingsley

Book: Chime by Franny Billingsley

Published by: Dial Books, March 17 2011

Genre: Young Adult

Format/pages: Hardcover 368 pages

Format read/Source: eGalley via LibraryThing Early Reviewers

Date read: March 18 2011

Rating: 5 / 5 Stars

Synopsis from the author’s website:

Before Briony’s stepmother died, she made sure Briony blamed herself for all the family’s hardships. Now Briony has worn her guilt for so long it’s become a second skin. She often escapes to the swamp, where she tells stories to the Old Ones, the spirits who haunt the marshes. But only witches can see the Old Ones, and in her village, witches are sentenced to death. Briony lives in fear her secret will be found out, even as she believes she deserves the worst kind of punishment.

Then Eldric comes along with his golden lion eyes and mane of tawny hair. He’s as natural as the sun, and treats her as if she’s extraordinary. And everything starts to change. As many secrets as Briony has been holding, there are secrets even she doesn’t know.

My Thoughts:

I fell in love with this magical book. CHIME is unique, funny and utterly original and completely deserving of the 6 starred reviews it has earned. The characters are eccentrically wonderful and the story is charmingly written and full of surprises. CHIME is a YA paranormal historical set in Swampsea village in turn of the century England. It includes fantasy and romantic elements that captivated me from start to finish. In addition to the mystery and romance, mystical creatures including Witches, Dark Muses, and Old Ones help to set the stage.

The characters in CHIME really bring the story to life. Briony is unusual in that she is self-loathing, but with a witty and clever sense of humor. As a narrator she is at times misleading as she leaves out some details. Briony believes she is a witch and that she is responsible for the sickness and death that have fallen upon her family. She keeps her fears to herself to avoid a witch’s prosecution.  Briony carries around a lot of guilt for the pain she believes she causes to those around her. She feels a terrible responsibility to protect the swamp creatures whose lives are threatened by the plans for the railroad that threaten their swamp home. She must stop the progress of the railroad before more children can be cursed with the dreaded swamp cough.

Briony starts to see herself in a new light when Eldric arrives to live with her family. Eldric is a burst of sunshine in Briony’s life that refuses to believe anything negative about her. The relationship between Eldric and Briony is very sweet and unique and one of my favorite parts of the book. They have a fun banter and respect for one another. Briony lives with her father and her identical twin sister named Rose who has some charming quirks about her. Rose is another one of my favorite characters that made me smile with her off the wall behavior. Their stepmother recently died under mysterious circumstances, and it seems like Rose knows more than she lets on.

The fantasy elements add a dark and eerie sensibility to the story. Briony tries to stifle her witch side, but keeps getting pulled into the supernatural world by the creatures that follow her around.

CHIME is a lovely and inventive story that is sure to appeal to fans of YA fantasy and fans of adult fiction. As soon as I finished the story I wanted to start reading it again. CHIME is one of my favorite reads so far this year.

For more information:

Amazon | Authors website

Wither by Lauren DeStefano

Book: Wither by Lauren DeStefano

Published by: Simon & Schuster, March 22 2011

Genre: Young Adult

Format/pages: Hardcover 368 pages

Format read/Source: eGalley via Simon & Schuster Galley Grab

Date read: March 11 2011

Rating: 4 / 5 Stars

In a dark future world, geneticists have attempted to create a perfect human race. However, their  miracle cure went haywire and now the lifespan for women is only 20 years, while men live to be 25. While the geneticists try to fix this problem, crime, poverty and the number of orphaned children have skyrocketed. Young girls are auctioned off to men to breed children as part of a polygamous union. At age 16, Rhine Ellery is kidnapped from Manhattan and sold to a rich man to become his bride along with two other girls. She now lives in a mansion in Florida with her new husband Linden, and her sister wives Jenna and Cecily. Rhine is putting on a brave face but behind the scenes is concocting a getaway plan so she can return to her twin brother. Helping her along the way is servant Gabriel who she has genuine feelings for. Rhine bonds with her sister wives but is not sure whom she can trust in her situation. She is also conflicted by her feelings for her husband who seems to care for her. Rhine’s father in law is mysterious and menacing. He is researching a cure in the basement, and always looking for another body to conduct his research on. Can Rhine escape her gilded prison and return to her brother before she succumbs to the disease?

Wither is beautifully written and engaging. I found it hard stop reading, even though the premise is so disturbing. The dark tone gave me an uneasy feeling while I was anticipating the scenarios that could occur. The descriptions are vivid and it was easy to imagine all the details of the life Rhine led in the Floridian mansion.

The characters come alive with their complexities. The sister wife dynamic was interesting and I felt for each of them and their situation. They all come from different tragic upbringings, however Rhine is the one who is really motivated to escape. Cecily is comfortable at the mansion and confident that a cure will be found. Jenna despises Linden but is resigned to staying in the comforts of the mansion for the remainder of her life. Surprisingly, even Linden comes off as somewhat of a sympathetic character in this story.

Although most of the action takes place in the confines of the mansion, I felt the dystopian world building was well done. The desperation and despair of inevitable death is conveyed through the actions of the characters. There is a sense of urgency that hangs over the story because the characters are racing the clock before the deadly illness hits.

One minor complaint is that the ending felt a little rushed compared to the pace of the rest of the story. However, I’m curious to find out what happens next in the sequel.

Wither packs a punch and succeeds as a thought provoking and compelling read. I read it in one day and couldn’t put it down. Recommended for dystopian fans looking for a unique and dramatic story. Wither is the first book in The Chemical Garden Trilogy.

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