Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Review of Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi

Title: Through the Ever Night (Under the Never Sky, #2)
Author: Veronica Rossi
Published by: HarperCollins
Pages: 352
Source: Library
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 5 stars

Summary from Goodreads: It's been months since Aria last saw Perry. Months since Perry was named Blood Lord of the Tides, and Aria was charged with an impossible mission. Now, finally, they are about to be reunited. But their reunion is far from perfect. The Tides don't take kindly to Aria, a former Dweller. And with the worsening Aether storms threatening the tribe's precarious existence, Aria begins to fear that leaving Perry behind might be the only way to save them both.

Threatened by false friends, hidden enemies, and powerful temptations, Aria and Perry wonder, Can their love survive through the ever night?

What an adventure.  Veronica Rossi sure knows how to demand your attention; I couldn't put this book down.  It was so jammed packed with action, deceit, and unknown that one more page turned into one more chapter, which turned into staying up way too late to finish the story.  The Aether is still building and destroying the Tides along with other settlements, so not only does Aria need to find the Still Blue but so does everyone else and they'll stop at nothing to discover that secret.

Through the Ever Night introduces us to some new characters.  Some of these characters are wonderful and will earn a place inside your heart.  Others will make you cringe and make you want to channel your inner warrior to take these people out and to do it painfully.  At times there was almost a mob mentality, especially among the people of the Tides.  Not only does it put Aria's life in danger, but also puts Perry in an intense and complicated dilemma. 

I forgot how much I missed Aria and Perry until I started reading Through the Ever Night.  Personally I think they are one of the best YA couples because their feelings seem so pure and their relationship so uncomplicated.  Don't get me wrong, their lives are one battle after another, but when they are together everything seems perfect.  I wish there were more couples like them.  So often we get the dreaded love triangle or a bad relationship...not with Aria and Perry, they have this calming and serene quality that puts a smile on my face.

Through the Ever Night definitely lived up to it's predecessor.  While the novel does connect the series as a whole, it still had it's own plot and overall story line.  I'm highly impressed with Veronica Rossi and only wish that she would write a bit faster.  I want to know what's going to happen next!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Review of Entangled by Nikki Jefford

Title: Entangled (Spellbound, #1)
Author: Nikki Jefford
Pages: 142
Source: NetGalley
Format: ebook
Rating: 3.5 stars

Summary from Goodreads: Two months after dying, seventeen-year-old witch Graylee Perez wakes up in her twin sister Charlene’s body.

Until Gray finds a way back inside her own body, she’s stuck being Charlene every twenty-hour hours. Her sister has left precise instructions on how Gray should dress and behave. Looking like a prep isn’t half as bad as hanging out with Charlene’s snotty friends and gropey boyfriend.

The “normals” of McKinley High might be quick to write her behavior off as post-traumatic stress, but warlock Raj McKenna is the only person who suspects Gray has returned from the dead.

Now Gray has to solve the mystery of her death and resurrection and disentangle herself from Charlene’s body before she disappears for good.

Move over Halliwell witches because a new set of magical sisters are in town.

Nikki Jeffords takes us on an adventure of jealousy, revenge and at time downright pettiness.  Entangled involved a set of witches who happen to be twin sisters.  The dynamic between the sisters in this novel is delicious; Graylee is the well-behaved, respectful daughter, while Charlene is a bit of the wild child with a side of evil.  While I can't understand Charlene's behavior or motives in Entangled I still enjoyed the dramatized sibling rivalry.  It kept the story shocking and at times irresistible. 

I really enjoyed flow the of this story.  It was lively and entertaining.  Something new was always happening or a new secret was waiting to be unveiled.  However, at times I felt that the conflicts were a bit rushed.  I wanted to savor certain scenes and was sad to see them pass by so quickly.  They story was a rather short one so I think adding more detail and flushing out each scene would have given Entangled that extra push towards greatness.

Besides the rushed scenes, I was also a bit confused by the relationship between Graylee and Raj.  He seemed in love with her from the start, but at the same time it was obvious they didn't really interact or like each other.  I felt there was a bit of insta-love (which I am not a fan of), but also this underlying reason for Raj's infatuation that we never told about.  I think they may tie into the fact that we don't know much about the characters besides their current situations and how each person is determined to get what they want. 

As a whole though I really enjoyed Entangled and I can't wait to see what happens to the Perez sisters next. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Dear Teen Me: Authors Write Letters to Their Teen Selves

Title: Dear Teen Me: Authors Write Letters to Their Teen Selves
Authors: Various
Published by: Zest Books
Pages: 192
Source: Library
Format: Paperback

Summary from Goodreads: Dear Teen Me includes advice from over 70 YA authors (including Lauren Oliver, Ellen Hopkins, and Nancy Holder, to name a few) to their teenage selves. The letters cover a wide range of topics, including physical abuse, body issues, bullying, friendship, love, and enough insecurities to fill an auditorium. So pick a page, and find out which of your favorite authors had a really bad first kiss? Who found true love at 18? Who wishes he’d had more fun in high school instead of studying so hard? Some authors write diary entries, some write letters, and a few graphic novelists turn their stories into visual art. And whether you hang out with the theater kids, the band geeks, the bad boys, the loners, the class presidents, the delinquents, the jocks, or the nerds, you’ll find friends--and a lot of familiar faces--in the course of Dear Teen Me.

Dear Teen Me is a powerful book filled with many issues that teenagers deal with everyday.  Each of these authors wrote a letter to their teen selves.  Some were funny, some heartbreaking, but each one important to not only the authors but to many teens going through the same issues. 

Instead of a real review on this book I thought I'd open myself up a bit and write a letter to my teenage self.  This was quite difficult for me to do, but it was therapeutic at the same time.  I encourage each of you to do this also.  It really is quite powerful. 

Dear Teen Me,
It's your future self here.  Ok, I know you don't believe it's me because you are super skeptical, but stretch your imagination and trust me (and yourself) this once.  Please!

Ok, we're all good right?  Well we better be because there are some things you need to hear.  The amount of worrying you do is not normal.  This is something you are going to struggle with and truth be told we still do.  The worrying and anxiety will just lead to dark and lonely places you don't want to be.  You cannot control every aspect of your life.  Stop trying...you will be so much happier when you just let yourself experience the moment without analyzing everything about it.  Stop hiding behind your perfect facade and go talk to someone.  It will help. 

I know you have everyone fooled, but not me.  You are scared of what people will think, but I'll let you in on a secret...they don't matter.  Seriously you will only keep in touch with three people from high school and they love you unconditionally no matter how messed up you are. 

Let it all go.  You don't have to be perfect.  That little chant you tell yourself about being perfect so that when you are the first lady they won't dig up any incidents to hold against your husband is RIDICULOUS.  Let me spell it out.  You are not going to be the first lady so instead of trying to be perfect, have a little fun instead of pretending you are having fun.  Don't hold yourself to those impossible standards....no one else does.  You will look back someday and realize that you missed out on so much.  Please don't continue to let your life pass by without living it.    

You may not believe this but you have a great life and it's only going to get better.  So stop worrying about your future and what tomorrow may bring...instead find the good in everyday and every situation.  Oh yeah, and that boy...you know the one.  Stay away from him.  Trust me on this one.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Audio Review of Collateral by Ellen Hopkins

CollateralTitle: Collateral
Author: Ellen Hopkins
Narrator: Rebekkah Ross
Published by: Simon & Schuster Audio
Length: 8hrs, 38mins
Source: Publisher
Format: Audio
Rating: 4 stars

Summary from Goodreads: Collateral centers on Ashley, an MFA student at San Diego State University. She grew up reading books and never dreamed she would become a military wife. One night she meets a handsome soldier named Cole. He doesn’t match the stereotype of the aggressive military man. He’s passionate and romantic. He even writes poetry. Their relationship evolves into a sexually charged love affair that goes on for five years and survives four deployments. Cole wants Ashley to marry him, but when she meets another man, a professor with similar pursuits and values, she begins to see what life might be like outside the shadow of war. 

I commend military wives.  Of those in my family or ones I know, I don't think I tell them this enough.  I've always admired their strength, but seeing their lives up-close it has also taught me that you don't always choose who you love.  I've told myself time and time again that I could never be a military wife, but I'm sure some of those wives said the same thing...at least that is what Ashley always thought until she met Cole. 

Ashley and Cole are very dynamic characters.  In Collateral you follow bits and pieces of their lives over five years and four deployments.  As mush as anyone grows and changes in five years, Ashley and Cole are not the same people; time has changed them, war has changed them.  At times I loved both of these characters and at times I couldn't stand either of them.  First I really liked Cole.  He was sweet, sensitive and swept Ashley off her feet.  Who would not fall for a rugged marine who writes poetry...and good poetry at that?  But alas as I mentioned before, he changes.  This was quite an unexpected surprise for me...and not a good one. 

The story is told switching between present day and flash backs of Ashley and Cole's relationship.  Since I listened to the audio this tripped me up a couple of times, but I soon got used it and went with the flow.  It was interesting to see where their relationship started started and where they are now, but not necessarily in that order.  This style of switching between present and past helped explain more about their relationship than I think I would have gotten if it was told chronologically.   

As for the audio part of this book, Rebekkah Ross is becoming one of my favorite narrators.  She brought the characters to life for me and gave me sympathy for them at times when I didn't think I had any left.  The main plot of Collateral is examining Ashley and Cole's relationship; it's success and struggles.  I think that by listening to the audio I was kept more engaged than I would have been by reading the book.  Hearing Ashley's story made it more personal by connecting a voice to the words and therefore made me more invested.    

Collateral is a very captivating read, but one that deals with some serious issues.  At times it was very difficult to read, but definitely worth it. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Review of Nobody by Jennifer Lynn Barnes & Giveaway!

NobodyTitle: Nobody
Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Published by: Egmont USA
Pages: 393
Source: Publisher
Format: ARC
Available: January 22nd 2013
Rating: 3.5 stars

Summary from GoodreadsThere are people in this world who are Nobody. No one sees them. No one notices them. They live their lives under the radar, forgotten as soon as you turn away.

That’s why they make the perfect assassins.

The Institute finds these people when they’re young and takes them away for training. But an untrained Nobody is a threat to their organization. And threats must be eliminated.

Sixteen-year-old Claire has been invisible her whole life, missed by the Institute’s monitoring. But now they’ve ID’ed her and send seventeen-year-old Nix to remove her. Yet the moment he lays eyes on her, he can’t make the hit. It’s as if Claire and Nix are the only people in the world for each other. And they are—because no one else ever notices them.

Alluring and enticing.  These are two of the first words that come to mind after I finished reading Nobody.  While the book may have started off a bit slow by the end I was tearing through the pages waiting to see what would happen next. 

The whole idea behind Nobodies are intriguing and a bit heartbreaking.  Can you imagine going through life without the attention of another person, to be completely unnoticed and immediately forgotten?  What a lonely and desolate life.  I'm not really sure how Claire made it on her own until she met Nix.  Throughout the novel these two characters come into their own.  They have a dangerous mission to carry out not only to make their lives better, but also others.  I thought that probably took more strength than anything.  They risked their lives to save others, even though nobody even notices them.   

While the characters were interesting, the main focus of the story was the plot.  The Society wants to control everything and one thing they can't control are Nobodies.  The people in charge want Nobodies eliminated and as soon as Nix and Claire figure this out they know they have to take down The Society.  There were little burst of action throughout the story, all leading up to the battle at the end.  Was this battle epic?  No, but it was nail biting with a couple of twists to keep you glued to the pages.   

Want a chance to read Nobody by Jennifer Lynn Barnes?  Enter the rafflecopter below for a chance to win not only a win one hardcover copy of Nobody, but also the new paperback release of Every Other Day provided by the wonderful people at Egmont USA. 

NobodyEvery Other Day

That means you could win two books by Jennifer Lynn Barnes!

Giveaway rules:
You need to be at least 13 years old to enter
The Giveaway is open to US and Canada readers
The winner will have 3 days to respond before a new winner is chosen
I am not responsible for any lost or damaged items.
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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Audio Review of Belles by Jen Calonita

Belles (Belles, #1)Title: Belles (Belles, #1)
Author: Jen Calonita
Narrator: Julia Whelan
Published by: Blackstone Audiobooks
Length: 9 hr., 5 min.,
Source: Library
Format: Audio
Rating: 3 stars

Summary from GoodreadsFifteen-year-old Isabelle Scott loves her life by the boardwalk on the supposed wrong side of the tracks in North Carolina. But when tragedy strikes, a social worker sends her to live with a long-lost uncle and his preppy privileged family. Isabelle is taken away from everything she’s ever known, and, unfortunately, inserting her into the glamorous lifestyle of Emerald Cove doesn’t go so well. Her cousin Mirabelle Monroe isn’t thrilled to share her life with an outsider, and, in addition to dealing with all the rumors and backstabbing that lurk beneath their classmates’ Southern charm, a secret is unfolding that will change both girls’ lives forever.

Lately life has been crazy and when life gets crazy that equals me sitting in a coffee shop on weekends doing data analysis and trying to somehow get caught up.  I don't know how many of you have tried working in coffee shops before, but apparently I missed the memo that they are extremely noisy.  Seriously, how can people study there?  So to drown out all the chatty people, I will often listen to audio books as I work.  This means that the audio books have to be somewhat light and easy to catch the point of. 

Belles was perfect for this.  While the subject matter may not have been light, the way it was presented happened to be.  I sort of felt like I was listening to a teen rom-com; it had it's sweet parts, heart-wrenching parts, and horrible backstabbing mean girls parts.  Plus the surprise at the end wasn't a huge surprise, but it still worked well with the novel.  I'm guessing most people will figure it after the first couple of chapters, but that didn't necessarily take anything away from the story.  All-in-all Belles was cute book and really easily to get lost in. 

Isabelle has lost everything and is forced to move in with an uncle she never knew she had.  Saying she got an upgrade in her socioeconomic status is an understatement.  Not only does she gain an insta-rich family, but also an evil stepsister.  (Well not necessarily evil, but a little lost herself which leads to some poor choices.)  However, the characters at times seemed a bit unbelievable.  I guess this is such a stretch from my everyday life, that I have a hard time picturing the ultra-rich, ultra-popular girl getting away with everything she did.  I also felt like a lot of the characters were conveyed as shallow and one dimensional.  Plus what is with all the backstabbing...seriously people get over yourselves. 

While this was a great audio to fit my needs at the time, it didn't have the substance I was hoping for.  But if you just need a book to help you escape for a while and help you give in to that mind candy mode, Belles is the book for you. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

DAC Tour: Review of The Fire Horse Girl by Kay Honeyman

 The Fire Horse GirlTitle: The Fire Horse Girl
Author: Kay Honeyman
Published by: Arthur A. Levine Books
Pages: 336
Source: Debut Author Challenge ARC Tours
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 4 stars

Summary from Goodreads:  Jade Moon is a Fire Horse -- the worst sign in the Chinese zodiac for girls, said to make them stubborn, willful, and far too imaginative. But while her family despairs of marrying her off, she has a passionate heart and powerful dreams, and wants only to find a way to make them come true.

Then a young man named Sterling Promise comes to their village to offer Jade Moon and her father a chance to go to America. While Sterling Promise's smooth manners couldn't be more different from her own impulsive nature, Jade Moon falls in love with him on the long voyage. But America in 1923 doesn't want to admit many Chinese, and when they are detained at Angel Island, the "Ellis Island of the West," she discovers a betrayal that destroys all her dreams. To get into America, much less survive there, Jade Moon will have to use all her stubbornness and will to break a new path . . . one as brave and dangerous as only a Fire Horse girl can imagine.

Immigration is not a dirty word.  And yet, that is how Americans used to imagine Chinese immigrants.  They didn't want them in their country and made it extremely difficult at times to enter.  So why did people from China still choose to try their hand at becoming an American...opportunities and freedom.

Freedom...that is all Jade Moon could think about.  She's lead a cursed life, being a Fire Horse, and has brought her family nothing but shame.  When the opportunity to come to America arises, she knows she must seize it or be caught in this cycle of despair forever. 

Jade Moon is a great character.  She feisty and will do anything to survive, even when it gets her in trouble.  She is determined and uses her knowledge and skills to not only help herself, but others.  Even when she is betrayed and forced into hopeless situations, she uses her knowledge and skills to find a way out.  This novel is really about her coming of age and finding her place in this new world. 

I have not read much about Chinese immigration, especially in the 1920s.  Kay Honeyman reveals the struggles lead by many Chinese to keep their traditions while blending into a new environment.  The novel is rich with Chinese culture and the blending of tradition with a more modern character is intriguing and exciting.  There is a little bit of mystery and some romance to hook all types of readers, while still producing an engaging plot and mostly well developed characters.  

I thoroughly enjoyed this debut novel by Kay Honeyman and I look forward to seeing more from her in the future. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Audio Review of The Fox Inheritance by Mary E. Pearson

The Fox Inheritance (Jenna Fox Chronicles, #2)Title: The Fox Inheritance
Author: Mary E. Pearson
Narrator: Matthew Brown
Published by: Macmillan Young Listeners
Length:  9 hr., 33 min.,
Source: Library
Format: Audio
Rating: 3 stars

Summary from GoodreadsOnce there were three. Three friends who loved each other—Jenna, Locke, and Kara. And after a terrible accident destroyed their bodies, their three minds were kept alive, spinning in a digital netherworld. Even in that disembodied nightmare, they were still together. At least at first. When Jenna disappeared, Locke and Kara had to go on without her. Decades passed, and then centuries.

Two-hundred-and-sixty years later, they have been released at last. Given new, perfect bodies, Locke and Kara awaken to a world they know nothing about, where everyone they once knew and loved is long dead.

Everyone except Jenna Fox.

The Adoration of Jenna Fox is one of my all time favorite books.  Never had I come across something so original and unique.  Also, the fact that it had me debating moral issues long after I put the book down made me know it was a keeper.  When I heard that there was going to be a second Jenna Fox novel I was excited, yet hesitant.  Would it be as good?  How would they continue after an ending like that?  But curiosity won.

The Fox Inheritance follows the afterlives/new lives of two of Jenna's friends with whom she had the original accident with.  I liked the angle that Mary E. Pearson took with this book.  It wasn't a continuation of The Adoration of Jenna Fox, but it built on the original story and took a different direction.  While Jenna had her loving parents to help ease her through her new transition, Locke and Kara had the cold calculation of a scientist looking to show off his new invention.  Their lives were not easy and this has changed not only them, but the entire world around them. 

The story was intriguing as new situations and people kept popping up.  This helped to make the story interesting, but I felt like it was missing the spark of the first novel.  The idea was no longer new and exciting.  Plus, Kara was just plain weird.  We never really got to know her or understand her, so while she came off as a flat character she actually dictated much of the plot and that didn't sit right with me. 

The narration was good, and I liked that the story was told from Locke's point of view.  However, I felt there could have been a little more variation in the tones of each of the characters.  I think this would have made the audio a bit smoother. 

While I did enjoy the story, it fell short of the brilliance of the first novel. 

Monday, January 14, 2013

Review of The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker

The Art of Hearing HeartbeatsTitle: The Art of Hearing Heartbeats
Author: Jan-Philipp Sendker
Published by: Other Press
Pages: 325
Source: Borrowed from a friend
Format: ARC
Rating: 4 stars

Summary from Goodreads: A poignant and inspirational love story set in Burma, The Art of Hearing Heartbeats spans the decades between the 1950s and the present.  When a successful New York lawyer suddenly disappears without a trace, neither his wife nor his daughter Julia has any idea where he might be…until they find a love letter he wrote many years ago, to a Burmese woman they have never heard of. Intent on solving the mystery and coming to terms with her father’s past, Julia decides to travel to the village where the woman lived. There she uncovers a tale of unimaginable hardship, resilience, and passion that will reaffirm the reader’s belief in the power of love to move mountains.

Do you ever read a story that makes you believe in the power of love?  I'm not talking about love at first sight, or tortuous and tormented love, but the love that transcends time and requires sacrifice.  The love that doesn't breed doubt, but instead builds a person up.

The Art of Hearing Heartbeats makes me long for a love like that.  The story of Tin Win and Mi Mi is powerful and heartbreaking.  These two characters have a strength and tranquility that can only arise from sacrifice.  Throughout the novel the author reveals who each of these characters truly are through bits and pieces of their past. Their devotion and complete trust in one another is miraculous, even when separated and alone they still believed in their love. 

Tin Win and Mi Mi's story is told to Julia by a local Burmese villager as she searches for answers about her father.  I enjoyed this exchanged between past and present as Julia discovers who her father was and his devastating past.  The Art of Hearing Heartbeats is a work of literary art.  The writing was gorgeous in a way that is soft and gentle and almost cradles your mind as you read it.  It slowly evokes emotions and unravels your prejudices as you become part of this tale. 

If you are looking for a beautiful tale with elegant writing, The Art of Hearing Heartbeats is the novel for you.   

Friday, January 11, 2013

Friday Night Date Night: Pitch Perfect

Friday Night Date Night is a feature on my blog that showcases movie reviews (mostly movies that were adapted from books). Hopefully some of these reviews will help you decide what to watch on your date night or a night of relaxing at home.
Pitch Perfect: The Quest for Collegiate A Cappella Glory

I hadn't heard much about Pitch Perfect (and I never realized it was a book), but when it came up on my amazon homepage for "Featured Recommendations" I decided to give it a try.  I am so happy I did.  I am completely and utterly in love with this movie.  It's cute, funny and a bit touching.  The best thing is that the characters are not trying to be cool or getting people to believe that their group is cool...they are geeks and are proud of it.  They are comfortable with who they are and what they like.  I loved that about this film! 

Essentially Pitch Perfect is about a girl who arrives at college and doesn't really fit in.  She ends up auditioning for an a cappella group to appease her father and found herself in a group of misfits who somehow belong together as they fight their way to the top. 

While there are some known characters in this movie, a lot of them are fresh to the screen.  I think this added to the movie because I had no expectations of them.  Rebel Wilson was hilarious as was the rest of the cast and the singing was superb.  (I had no idea that Anna Kendrick could sing...she was even nominated for a Tony award when she was younger).  I was also pleased by Skylar Astin (who played the leading male) and I hope to see him in more movies in the near future.  He was cute and a bit different then your typical leading male.  It was quite refreshing. 

If you haven't seen this movie yet, I highly suggest it!  I personally loved it and I hope you do too.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Review of The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay

The Sea of TranquilityTitle: The Sea of Tranquility
Author: Katja Millay
Published by: Atria Books
Pages: 448
Source: Netgalley/Publisher
Format: ARC ebook
Rating: 5 stars

Summary from Goodreads:  Former piano prodigy Nastya Kashnikov wants two things: to get through high school without anyone learning about her past and to make the boy who took everything from her—her identity, her spirit, her will to live—pay.

Josh Bennett’s story is no secret: every person he loves has been taken from his life until, at seventeen years old, there is no one left. Now all he wants is be left alone and people allow it because when your name is synonymous with death, everyone tends to give you your space.

Everyone except Nastya, the mysterious new girl at school who starts showing up and won’t go away until she’s insinuated herself into every aspect of his life. But the more he gets to know her, the more of an enigma she becomes. As their relationship intensifies and the unanswered questions begin to pile up, he starts to wonder if he will ever learn the secrets she’s been hiding—or if he even wants to.

Words escape me to describe the beauty and emotion that rolls off of every page in this novel.  The Sea of Tranquility is one of those books that continues to haunt you long after you've set it down, but it is worth it just to hang on to those characters a little longer. 

For me, The Sea of Tranquility is one of those books that remind me of a secret...part of me wants to tell the world about it because it's that good, and another part of me doesn't want to tell anyone about it because it is very special and I want to hold on to that feeling a little longer.  But alas, I realize this book is just too amazing not to share. 

Josh and Nastya are broken.  They've lost everything, including themselves.  While both try to stay away from others and not to form any sorts of relationships, they are drawn to each other in a way that can only be described as magnetic.  While I loved spending time with Josh and Nastya, I couldn't get enough of the other characters that seemed to infiltrate their lives as well.  This whole cast of misfits seems to form an unlikely family.  They are not always good people or do the right things, but they are who they are without any excuses.  They were quite amazing.   

As the plot unfolds you learn more about Nastya and Josh's past, how those events shaped their lives and essentially tore out a part of them.  Do they need each other to heal or is healing even a possibility?  Are they so broken that they can't even fix each other?  These question not only go through their minds but also the readers. 

I was utterly amazed by this novel and the ending...unexpected, but complete perfection!  What an amazing read to start of 2013! 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Audio review of The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

The Raven Boys (Raven Cycle, #1)Title: The Raven Boys (Raven Cycle, #1)
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Narrator:Will Patton
Published by: Scholastic Audio Books
Length: 11 hours / 10 CDs
Source: Library
Format: Audio
Rating: 4 stars

Summary from Goodreads: Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble

Maggie Stiefvater has a way with words.  Her descriptions are like a creek the cascades gently over stones lulling you into a tranquility you'd never expect, especially in a novel like The Raven Boys.

This novel is filled with the mystery and all things ambiguous that revolve around magic.  Gansey is obsessed and though he believes other people possess magic, he wants proof.  Him and his unlikely crew of misfit boys devote their lives to solving this puzzle and along the way discover a connection with Blue as well. 

The characters in this novel are ones you are unlikely to forget.  Each one is unique with specific  personality traits that are not always likable, and yet work together seamlessly.  Maggie Stiefvater gives us glimpses into each of the character's lives as the story unfolds, explaining their histories and how they became involved in this adventure. 

Will Patton did an excellent job of narrating this novel. His accents seemed spot on for Gansy and had the perfect amount of pretentiousness that seemed to flow well with certain characters. With this novel following many characters, Will Patton had to capture not only multiple accents but also multiple personalities, which he did wonderfully.

As for the plot it started out a little slow for me, but soon picked up.  There are interweaving mysterious that seem to tangle all of the characters together into one big mess as well as new secrets being revealed along the way.  Maggie Stiefvater did an excellent job of keeping readers on their toes, by giving the unexpected and shocking with each new page.  While some of those mysteries are solved others are not, which seems sets the scene for the rest of the series.  I do wish that a little more action would have happened in The Raven Boys, along with a little romance, but I guess we will have to wait for the next book to see that.        

The Raven Boys was a great start to what I'm sure will be an addicting series. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Review of Don't Expect Magic by Kathy McCullough

Don't Expect Magic (Magic, #1)Title: Don't Expect Magic
Author: Kathy McCullough
Published by: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Pages: 256
Source: Library
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 3 stars

Summary from Goodreads: Delaney Collins doesn't believe in fairy tales. And why should she? Her mom is dead, her best friend is across the country, and she's stuck in California with "Dr. Hank," her famous life-coach father—a man she barely knows. Happily ever after? Yeah, right.

Then Dr. Hank tells her an outrageous secret: he's a fairy godmother—an f.g.—and he can prove it. And by the way? The f.g. gene is hereditary. Meaning there's a good chance that New Jersey tough girl Delaney is someone's fairy godmother.

But what happens when a fairy godmother needs a wish of her own?

We've all read about vampires, fairies, werewolves, angels, witches, etc. but Kathy McCullough brings us an often overlooked fantasy character...fairy godmothers, and not in the way we'd  expect them.

Delaney Collins is such a great character.  When tossed into a new situation she doesn't conform to the popular crowd, instead she stays true to herself and her spunky personality.  Delaney and her father have a strained relationship, but things get better when she finds out he's not only a fairy godmother, but she might be one too.  A series of events unfold as she tries to prove to him that she can handle being a fairy godmother, while still leading a normal life. 

The rest of the characters in Don't Expect Magic are just as great.  They are original and extremely realistic, and while they are not necessarily the type of characters you'd expect, they are so much themselves that you can't help but love them.  They defy typical stereotypes and that in my book makes them the best type of characters. 

The storyline itself was a bit cheesy and expected.  There was not a whole lot of magic, despite what you'd think from the title, but the magic that was there was used to help people.  There was no using magic for self-promotion and it was not always meaningful, but it was used to help peole who truly wanted something.  The writing was light and at times hilarious.  There were laugh-out-loud moments and a couple of aww moments too with the little bit of romance laced throughout the novel. 

This was a cute story, and if you're looking for something a little different try Don't Expect Magic.