Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Wonder of Cinder


A dear friend of mine frequently asks me for book recommendations because we enjoy reading similar things, a.k.a. awesomeness.  Most recently when she asked me for something else to read, I just happened to have a copy of both Cinder and Scarlet by Marissa Meyer to loan her.  What I didn't tell her was that there were two more books to come in the series. Hehehehe!  As you'll see, she really hates it when I get her hooked on series without the entire series being available.  But I totally did and she agreed to write a review.  And though she is typically a woman of many words, her review is quite brief.  Without further ado, help me welcome Miss Elisha Patten to my blog:




Cinder is the epitome of why I so strongly dislike book series. Cinder had me on the edge of my seat from cover to cover, the only problem is there are soooo many covers to go! I want to know where all the excitement is leading. And I want to know right now! Since discovering the rewritten fairy tales, I wish every classic folk tale had a cyborg adventure counterpart! Cinder is an excellently scintillating modern fairy tale! 


Thank you Elisha!  The Lunar Chronicles is one of my most favorite new series.  We even used Cinder and Scarlet in our Library Institute class last summer, and we got to Skype with Marissa Meyer! SQUEEEEEEE!!!  

You may be asking what prompted me to finally start posting on my blog again...well it's because we're trying to win an advanced copy of Cress!  WE WANT IT NOW!  Especially Elisha, who will probably disown me for getting her hooked on these books if we don't get a copy.  



 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Hush!

Time for a bit of a professional rant: I'm really tired of hearing how libraries have had a hard time embracing technology. Am I saying this is completely unfounded? No. Libraries have a hard time, but so many bloggers, article writers, and "deep thinkers" seem inclined to place all of the onus for this resistance or slowness on the "library" meaning those in charge of running the library. However, I would like to posit this to my readership (bahaha!): many libraries have had a hard time embracing technology because of people and technology itself.

Many communities in America still face massive poverty, language, and literacy gaps. In South Dakota we have those things plus massive gaps in physical space. Yes, in today's world of 4G there are places here that are still on dial up and places where you loose cell phone services because you are on the bottom of a hill (my mom knows this well). To say that today's libraries have a huge range of needs to meet might be the biggest understatement this millennium. Library budgets are shrinking faster than the cost of materials and equipment. Not to mention that there are plenty of people who control library funding who don't understand the need for libraries to adopt new technologies because that's not the type of library they grew up with. Throw in the fact that people want to use the newest technology in the comfort of their own home, and everyone plus the family dog wants to have their own gadgets - for a library that serves even 300 people and the cheapest laptops costing nearly $100 on sale...you're smart, reason it out.

That cost factor I previously mentioned might be the biggest concern. How many of you have dropped a book on the sidewalk? How did that turn out? Yeah, maybe a little dirt or grit, possibly a bent page or two. Now, how many of you have dropped your cell phone on the sidewalk and subsequently were looking for a new phone? Now imagine hundreds, possibly thousands of people using the same piece of technology every week. Wear and tear + shrinking budgets = reluctance to purchase technology that is going to be out of date in two years or less (iPhone 5 anyone?). And those cheap laptops I also talked about? Those won't last more than 3 months in your average public library. Yet most libraries in America are doing what they can for their community in terms of providing the most useful technology for those in need of it.

So stop telling me how libraries are having a hard time embracing technology. Go to the next library board meeting or city council budget hearing and advocate for better funding for your local library.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Corsets & Clockwork: 13 Steampunk Romances

Ya'll I was so excited to find this title because I was seriously jonesing for some more really good steampunk after The Girl in the Steel Corset!  Unfortunately, this did not satisfy my craving.  Despite the word "steampunk" being in the title, that element seemed very optional in most of the stories - some were almost pure fantasy, historical, or supernatural with a robot or two thrown in.  Don't get me wrong - I liked most of the stories but they weren't really steampunk.  One was about a set of conjoined twins, one of which was in love with a guy who turns out to be a vampire; one set in the 1960s and was about aliens and racism; and one was set during WW2.  However, one of the more steampunk-esque ones is set in Deadwood, South Dakota, so holla!

Plus I think they used the same model from the original cover art for Specials by Scott Westerfeld, gave her a tan, turned her face sideways, and superimposed some gears over it all.  This type of not being original with cover art always bugs me. 

All ranting aside, the stories are interesting but if you're looking for steampunk here, keep moving.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Revolution

Alexandrine Paradis has known both hunger and plenty.  As a performer she dreams of being on the great stages of Paris, and when she is offered a place in Louis the XVI's house to be a companion to the crown prince she feels her luck is finally changing.  Then a pesky thing called the French Revolution happens and ruins everything.

Andi Alpers is broken.  Reeling from her little brother's death, living with a half-sane mother, and furious with her absent father, she'd rather disappear in music most days. On a forced trip to Paris with her father (sucks huh?), Andi discovers Alexandrine's diary and is sucked into her world - literally.

I think Jennifer Donnelly might be of French descent because there was a definitely feeling of "maybe one day we'll get to the point" with this story for me.  Or maybe it was just poor descriptions of the the plot that had me annoyed because I kept asking myself when this Certain Thing about the story was going to happen and it didn't happen until way into the second half of the book.  By which time I kinda didn't care any more.  Oh and there was the fact that Paris was rarely painted as a place I would want to go - between the bitter cold of winter break during the Andi parts and the stinky excrement, sweat, and rivers of blood-filled descriptions of Alexandrine's parts, Paris has never seemed less appealing.  I was happy to finish the book and thankful to move on to lighter fare.

Goose Girl

Princess Andori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee of Kildenree, while no stranger to tragedy, has lived a pampered life.  The princess also has something of a secret - she has a connection to animals, particularly birds, which allows her to communicate with them.  Even though her "gift" has been discouraged by her mother, it is a great comfort to her as she finds speaking with people difficult.

When Ani is sent to marry the prince of the neighboring kingdom or Bayern, she is betrayed by her lady-in-waiting and several of her guards during the journey.  Running for her life, she stumbles upon a forest family who takes her in.  While they are kind, Ani know she cannot stay with them but must try to reach the capital city in hopes of finding an ally.  Early discouragements nearly undo her, but she takes a position helping to care for the king's geese.  As Ani makes friends in this new place, she begins to form a plan to reclaim her destiny.  

Shannon Hale writes such sweet stories.  They are lyrical and leaving a lasting sigh of light satisfaction on the reader's soul.  Sometimes I became frustrated with Ani and her lack of backbone, but in the end I can't imagine her story being told any other way.  Even though Ani is is sixteen this is a fantastic book for tween and younger teen girls. 

Stolen

While waiting in the Bangkok airport for a flight to Vietnam with her parents, Gemma is stolen.  While Gemma hasn't necessarily been thrilled with her parents' role in her life - they're rather absent and pushy, but she's well, a teenager - she never wanted to be kidnapped and taken to the remote Australian Outback.  The story is Gemma's remembered story written as a letter to her kidnapper, Ty, which you know from both the front flap and the verb tense.  Ty has been planning the kidnapping for years, carefully watching Gemma at her London home and building the small compound of buildings that he takes her to in the Outback.

Wow - what a premise for a book, huh?  I wanted so badly for this book to be awesome, but I was not impressed.  Gemma's halfhearted attempts to escape only come across as frustrating, instead of heart-pounding.  Having not been kidnapped myself, but having watched & read the news stories of high profile kidnapping cases in recent years, I'll go out on a limb here and say that Gemma's story is probably close to a realistic situation.  But good gracious, it makes for a very boring YA book.  Nothing happens, ever.  The story goes absolutely nowhere.  Most of the book is taken up with endless descriptions of how hot Gemma is and her being in a haze because she can't be bothered to eat anything so she can build up her strength, stay mentally alert, and foil all of Ty's plans to keep her there. Then suddenly it's over.

So yeah, not going to recommend this as a must-have in your collection. Sorry Lucy Christopher!  I'm not trying to hate on you so please try again with another book!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever


 Jeff Kinney wrote the book, but this review is an interview with Sam Slocum (my co-worker's son) - a soon-to-be 8th grader.  I received a free copy of the book from the publisher (thanks Abrams, Harry N., Inc.)  I've never read the other books, and I thought it would be fun to have someone else read the book and get their take on it.  Sam agreed and then some time went by when life happened, but the other day Sam asked his mom, "Does that lady still want to interview me about this book?"  Which of course, I did so Sam gave up some summer vacation time, came over to the office this afternoon, sat on the big yoga ball I sometimes use as a desk chair, and let me ask him some questions.  For the sake of flow, I have omitted the extra prompting questions I sometimes asked.

So without further ado, I present to you Sam Slocum's take on Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever in his own words (I typed them as he talked). 

Give me a quick summary in your own words.
There’s this kid named Greg and how Christmas goes in his house and how winter goes in his house.

Do you relate to Greg at all?
No, but he is funny.  He’ll do stupid things and then get caught.  In this one he was shoveling driveways, and couldn’t keep up.  He’d do one side and then by the time he finished the second side the first side would be covered again, so he used water to wash it off and then the guy slipped and fell so then he had to get the ice off with just shovel. 

What are some of the things you like about the book?
How it’s not just constant reading, like how there’s comics in it.  It’s not all serious.  

Was there a part of the book you didn’t like?
Nope

Who is your favorite character and why?
I like his friend, Rowley.  His parents are overprotective, so he’s kind of a baby even though he’s in middle school.  

Would you lend the book to any friends?
All my friends have read it.

Have you read all the other Wimpy Kid books and are you going to read the next one?
Yeah, I read them all in a month.  Yeah probably.  (Especially if I give it to him) 

Anything else that you want to tell me about the book?
It's just like the other ones but I like the style.


Thanks Sam!  I promise I won't inflict this torture on you ever again!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Shutout

High school freshman and best friends Amanda and Lena are already planning their soccer season together - suffering through on the junior varsity squad until some of the seniors graduate.  Having played soccer together for years they are a great duo, despite Amanda battling Sever's disease (where your bones grow faster than your muscles and tendons).  Yet, both of them still dream about making varsity as freshman (who doesn't?), but when Lena actually does, leaving Amanda behind on JV, their friendship starts to unravel. Lena makes new friends, leaving Amanda even more alone but determined to not be a total loser - on and off the soccer field.


Brendan Halpin has a fun and breezy style of writing.  This is a quick, enjoyable book and Halpin does a decent job of getting teen girls right.  About the soccer...I couldn't say, having never played and only watched a few matches in college because I was dating a soccer player at the time.  Having read more books than I've watched soccer matches, I do think this could be a great read for female reluctant readers.

Friday, June 29, 2012

What Happened to Goodbye

Mclean knows how to pack a house and how to reinvent herself.  She's done it more times than than she likes to admit.  What she doesn't know how to do is say goodbye.    Maclean's mom decided several years ago that she wanted more out of life and left to be with Maclean's namesake  - the coach of Maclean's father's favorite basketball team.  With a hole blown through her life, Maclean decides that she'd rather live with her father than ever trust her mother again. Her dad is a restaurant consultant - think "Restaurant Impossible" with no video cameras, no decor overhaul, and more time spent over-hauling than will fit in an hour-long episode. Every time Maclean's dad gets a new restaurant to "fix," they move.  And every time they move, Maclean tries on a new persona - sporty girl, preppy girl, theater girl - with a version of her real first name (Elizabeth) to match. 

Now in her senior year of high school Maclean decides to give being her real self a try.  The real Maclean catches the eye of the adorable yet sorta nerdy guy next door.  As Maclean learns about who she really is again, new friendships start to blossom - which is, of course, about the time that Maclean would usually have to move.  But it seems her dad isn't too keen to leave just yet even though his work seems done.  When Maclean's new friends find out about her "other selfs," she panics and agrees to try staying with her mom for a while to get away.  Fixing restaurants seems so easy for her dad, but how will Maclean fix things with her mom and her friends?

All of Sarah Dessen's novels are sigh and swoon-filled.  Nothing too steamy, nothing too cold.  It's like she writes a just-right-baby-bear-bed romance every time.  Reading her books are a like a breath of fresh air after a lot of intense dystopians.  There are always plenty of quirky characters and a likeable herione.  Now if we could just do something about those headless models on all the book covers...

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Awaken

As violence in schools grew out of control, one man put a plan into action to protect the future: the Freeman Digital School.  Being the daughter of the man who is considered a hero and one of the most powerful in the nation, Maddie barely knows human contact is.  Now almost everything in Maddie's life is done digitally, but something about this bothers Maddie. When Maddie meets Justin, an exciting and people-loving young man who "rescues" others from a constantly plugged in life, she feels truly alive for the first time.    

Kate Kacvinsky creates a world that could eerily be not so far away from where society is right now, which is what makes this a very engaging read.  However, while there was an attraction written between Maddie and Justin, it fell a little flat for me because it was well, you know, scripted. I also had a seriously hard time not comparing this to Matched, which really knocked it out of the park.

There is a sequel coming that I think I'll still read because for a first novel, it's got a lot of potential.  

* Read for possible inclusion on the 2012/2013 YARP list.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Inheritance

Even though it was three very long years since Brisingr came out, Inheritance was more than worth the wait.  The detail of the story is so rich and I really felt like all the characters got to have a chance to shine, even Elva who creeps me right out.  The relationship between Eragon and Arya became both beautiful and excruciating.  My most favorite relationship was developed between two of the most unlikely people, but I can't say who in case you haven't read the book yet (even though you probably have because it's taken me so long to write the dang review).  But it's a really good one!  The only character I wanted to know just a little more about was Angela.  We never got her back story, but maybe that would have lessened her mystique too much.

One of the best parts of any of these books is figuring out who gets the dragon that's pictured on the cover, and this one is just as fantastic!  Oh and by the way, I want my own dragon.  So if anyone knows of one for cheap (let's face it, I'm a public servant), let me know.

My favorite part of the whole book though was the very end.  I rarely feel so satisfied at the end of a series.  Hats off to you Paolini for taking your time to bring closure to the story and not rush things.  After the big stuff is over, there are almost 100 pages that are used to tell the reader who ended up where and how.  With an ending like that, who needs an epilogue?  So thank you many times over Christopher! 


Waiting for me to blog again took about as long as it did for Inheritance to come out - or at least I bet it felt that way.  Or maybe none of you missed me.  Either way, apparently Blogger changed the way everything behind the scenes looks and I hate it.  Anyhoo, I'm back now so on with the show!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Crossed

Part of me thought that November 1st was never going to be here - that's when Crossed was released. As soon as it appeared on my Nook, I was on it like well, like a YA librarian on a YA sequel.  The trick with this review is to not spoil the story because I really don't want to give anything away. 

Cassia is now working in the Outer Provinces.  Her mission is to find Ky.  When she receives a surprise visit from Xander at her work camp, she has the opportunity to speak with another archivist and gets an idea on where to start her search.  When the opportunity comes to escape with fellow camp worker Indie, Cassia makes a break for the Carving - a long series of canyons that may contain the rebel group known as the Rising.

Ya'll may hate me but I'm not saying anything else than that.  It would ruin the tension and I just can't do that to you.  I do have to say that I was a little disappointed in the book as whole.  Sometimes after I'm done reading a book that I haven't enjoyed 100% I have a hard time putting my finger on just what it was.  Thus, waiting a couple months to do the review gives me some perspective and I can usually name whatever it was that I didn't like, but not this time.  Part of me wants to say that there was a lack of things happening, but really there wasn't.  Maybe it was a lacking a sense of constantly being caught, although there was some of this.  The book was really more about relationship building and Cassia growing as a person/learning about herself.  I know Ally Condie is really proud of this book, as she should be, but I hope the third really packs a wallop.  For me Crossed fell prey to middle-book-of-a-trilogy syndrome.  The good news - there's a immense cliff-hanger of an ending. 

Fat Vampire

If it wasn't abundantly clear from the title of my blog that I don't read vampire books, I'll tell you this in conversation, not just out of the blue but if the topic arises naturally.  But the unthinkable happened - Adam Rex wrote a vampire book.  Some of you may remember that I was a bit torn about this.  To keep the shame of being seen with a vampire book to a bare minimum, I read it on my Nook - HA!

Doug's a vampire.  Not only is he NOT Edward Cullen (yes, I know who he is), he's none of the Cullens.  He wouldn't even make it as an extra into this scene (yes I saw that movie, purely to laugh at it though).  Doug is a dork with pretty much no friends.  Being a vampire just makes him pale and not able to tolerate any sun.  Feeding isn't sexy because he's been using cows.  His vampire mentor is an old weirdo.  The foreign exchange student he thought he might have a chance with only thinks of him as a friend, and a kind of creepy one at that.  So why would anyone read this book?  Because Doug's attempts to be sexy and use his vampire nature to impress anyone are hilarious.  Even his attempts to feed are humorous.  At one point he gets assaulted by a baby panda (you'll just have to read it). 

Clever and exactly what I imagine it would be like to see things from a teenage male's perspective (so it's a little gross at times), the book was entertaining.  To me the book was more about dorky Doug being a teenage boy, he just also happens to have an unfortunate condition. 

So yeah, I read a vampire book and it didn't completely suck (I had to!) but it also didn't turn me (couldn't help that one either).  I do really, really love the cover though. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Mastiff

Ya'll can I just tell you how excited I was when I found out that the third Beka Cooper book was coming out?  Ridiculously excited!  I love these books and shameful as it may seem, they are the only Tamora Pierce books I've ever read.  Why haven't I read any other ones?  It's my I-don't-like-bandwagons thing.  If you have no idea what I'm talking about, just ask me some other time because I just want to talk about this book right now.

First of all, I pre-ordered it for my Nook and I am so super thankful that I have an awesome person in my life (Elisha Patten) who bought the Nook for me so when rather weighty books - 608 pages! - come along that I just must read, I don't strain my back carrying them around anymore.  I do have to say that the only downside to Nook Books are pages that have maps - you can make text bigger but not the actual page, so maps tend to be really small.

Anyway.....Beka Cooper is dealing with something new, grief with a hardy side of self-loathing.  The book starts with Beka writing about the burial Holborn - fellow Dog, and until he died, her man.  Beka feels awful because things had started to sour between them, and then got himself killed while on duty.  But what better way for a Dog, particularly Beka, to get over such a thing?  Why a highly secret and dangerous mission to rescue the prince, of course!  Beka, her partner Tunstall, Lady Sabine, a handsome and roguish magician named Farmer, along with Beka's scent hound Achoo and constellation-in-cat-form Pounce set out on a journey fraught with traps, double-crossings, slavers, jealous nobles, and evil magicians in order to find the prince and return him to his parents.

The stories of Beka have always kept me spell-bound, and even though the books are massive I never want them to end.  I loved this book just as much if not more than the others.  This was one of those books that really sucks you in and you want to jump through the pages and throttle someone even though you know they don't exist in real life.  I also enjoyed the fact that Beka grew as a person, she learned things about herself, and she wasn't just the same old Beka.  What also made this story really come alive was the issue of slavery, particularly child slavery.  While the issue was not a major part of the storyline for most of book, Pierce makes it clear in the dedication that it will be addressed, and the ending does not disappoint!  I recommend this book most highly to any Tamora Pierce lover, any kick-butt heroine lover, and anyone who needs to good read.  But please make sure you've read the other ones first.  Oh, and these are definitely for high school.  Nothing gratuitous, but Beka is an adult, albeit a young one. 

How to Save a Life

What do you do when your "normal" is no longer anything like it used to be?  How do you give your child the best life you can when you barely know what a good life is to begin with?

Jill has yet to truly deal with the death of her father but her mother, Robin, seems determined to move on.  The first step is cutting off her long hair. Jill has been doing some cutting off too...herself from everyone around her including her friends, her boyfriend, and her mom.  Then her mother decides she needs a new life and wants to adopt a baby. Enter Mandy, a pregnant teenager whose own mother was emotionally absent from her raising her daughter.  Mandy and Robin meet online and decided to do a private adoption, with Mandy coming to live with Robin & Jill for the last few weeks of Mandy's pregnancy.  With all the new people in Robin's life, Jill feels that she obviously isn't enough for her mom and shows her displeasure with the situation by giving Mandy the cold shoulder.  That is, until after a few short conversations with Mandy where things don't seem to add up.  Indeed, Mandy has been hiding some things from Robin and the closer she gets to her due date, the more Mandy starts to question her decision to give up her baby.

Only Sara Zarr could take a situation as hopeless as this sounds and make it completely amazing.  Each chapter alternates between Jill and Mandy, which at first had me siding with Jill and being completely annoyed by Mandy.  Yet somewhere about 3/4 of the way through the book, I realized that Mandy was completely a product of terrible parenting.  Her naivety still bugged the heck out of me, but I didn't want to roll my eyes any more.  Actually the person who bothered me the most was Robin.  She's supposed to be this highly intelligent and sensitive woman, but she has no idea how to grieve with Jill.  She just grieves near Jill and completely leaves her out of any attempts to move forward in their life as mother & daughter.  But I know the storyline wouldn't have the tension that it did if Robin hadn't been written this way.  In the end, I loved Mandy even though she still kinda seemed like a dumb blond and Jill was still a little bit spiky, because hey, people aren't perfect.

*This book was sent to me by the publisher - anyone who comments by February 22nd will be entered in a drawing for the book!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Eon & Eona

Eon works harder than any of the other young men training to become the next Dragoneye apprentice - young men who study under the current and powerful Dragoneyes.  The Dragoneyes work with the even more powerful energy dragons to avert disaster in their land and keep wealth flowing to the emperor.  Eon works the hardest not just because he is the smallest, but because Eon is really a girl and therefore forbidden to ever be a Dragoneye.  At the end of Eon's training comes the choosing ceremony, where the ascending dragon will choose the next apprentice.  When the ascending Rat Dragon does not chose Eon at the ceremony it seems that she will be sent back to a life of back-breaking work in a mine.  But before the ceremony concludes, the Mirror Dragon, who had not been seen for over 500 years, mysteriously appears and chooses her.  As there is no master for Eon to be an apprentice to, full Dragoneye status is granted.

What should be a time of training and communing with her dragon quickly turns to a time of deceit and dangerous games.  There is unrest in the Dragoneye council and in the realm.  Before Eon can train even the slightest, open war is upon the Imperial throne and Eon is sworn to defend it.

What follows in the rest of Eon and into Eona is a tale of intrigue, forbidden love, folklore, and fighting.  Set in a lush and vibrant world, Alison Goodman creates a fascinating and original story.  Although I have to say that sometimes I wanted to smack Eon/Eona just a little bit. She has the potential to be such a strong heroine, and she did excel at that...sometimes.  I appreciate flawed characters but wishy-washy, constantly cringing or self-doubting ones I cannot abide.  Eona got this way on numerous occasions in both books and it was starting to grate on my nerves.  Characters who don't grow emotionally (other than just falling in love) but only physically and educationally are not always fun characters to read.  That being said, I bought both books voluntarily for my Nook and I don't regret it.

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Girl in the Steel Corset

London, 1897

The moment she saw the young man walking down the darkened hall toward her, twirling his walking stick, Finley Jayne knew she'd be unemployed before the sun rose.  Her third dismissal in as many months. 

Finley is still having trouble controlling the rage that overtakes her when she or someone she cares about is threatened.  After cleaning the clock of her employer's handsy son, Finley finds herself in the company of a strange group of people.  Oh they appear normal enough, one of them is even the ridiculously rich and titled Duke of Greythorne, or Griff as he's known to his friends; but they've all got very special talents.  These friends - namely Emily, Sam, an American gunfighter called Jasper, and of course Griff - help her start to unravel the mystery of how she came by her supernatural strength.  Throw in a plot to over throw the Queen, the handsome yet roguish Jack Dandy, and a blossoming romance betwixt Finley and Griff, stir and simmer for a good length of pages and viola!  A fantastic romp of a steampunk novel! 

My most favorite part is learning how Finley came to have the kick-butt skills she does but I can't tell you anything else about it because it will ruin it completely.  The next book in the series doesn't come out until May and I'm not being patient!  Write faster Kady Cross! 

The Strange Case of Finley Jayne

Well, for better or for worse I have found another new favorite series.  The part that makes me giggle with anticipation is this: it's steampunk!   Dystopian fiction is still hot but steampunk really stokes my fires!  If I had the money, I would buy this outfit for Halloween next year.  Heck, I might just wear it on Tuesdays. 

While I love being a librarian, being Finley Jayne might be the next best thing.  However, Finley doesn't always think being her is all that great.  In this very short prequel (on my Nook it's 73 pages) to The Steampunk Chronicles, Finley is hired to be a companion to a young debutante named Phoebe, who is engaged to Lord Vincent.  Lady Morton, Phoebe's mother, has some suspicion about Lord Vincent's true intentions for her daughter and thinks Finley is just the man, or better yet, woman for the job.  Here's the thing about Finley - for some inexplicable reason she's incredibly strong and not easily intimidated.  While Lady Morton believes this will both give protection for Phoebe and provide an opportunity for Finley to uncover some of Lord Vincent's secrets, Finley is scared that the rage that comes over her - bringing on the strength and fearlessness - will be her undoing.  Not to mention, it's hard to find a job when you've smacked your last employer across the room.  They tend to not give glowing references. 

Finley is fierce and fantastic!  Kady Cross, you've written a leading lady that I seriously wouldn't mind being, if I wasn't me of course.

Folks I'm pleased as a Finley sucker punch to announce that the first full-length book in The Steampunk Chronicles is already out.  AND it's the next book to be reviewed!  

Oh and uh, The Strange Case of Finley Jayne is a free Nook Book so what they heck are you waiting for?!?!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Fixing Delilah


I'm trying something new this time.  I made an Animoto video for a summary!  Yay me!  FYI: Animoto is really easy to use but I am so picky that making this took forever and a couple days.  But without further ado I give you Fixing Delilah...


Sarah Ockler has such a sweet and simple way of writing real characters.  Reading her books are always a very rich experience, like eating a great meal with good friends - the kind that takes hours.

This book was sent to me by a publisher and is up for grabs - anyone who posts a comment by January 6th will go in a drawing for the book!





Thursday, October 20, 2011

Divergent

O. MY. BA-GA!  I think I've just found the next series to ruin me - but in a good way, of course.

What do you value most of all- honesty, knowledge, kindness, selflessness, or courage?  Are you Candor, Erudite, Amity, Abnegation, or Dauntless?  The separate factions keep Beatrice's society peaceful and functioning.   Every sixteen-year-old takes an aptitude test to confirm your faction status.  However, you may choose which direction your life will take - you can stay in the faction you were born into or you may transfer to another, dependent upon your test results.  Beatrice's results revealed a dangerous secret: she's Divergent, meaning she shows almost equally strong aptitude for two factions: Abnegation and Dauntless. 

When she chooses Dauntless over Abnegation, she must leave her family behind and learn to be stronger than she has ever had to be.  Training sessions for Dauntless initiates are brutal both physically and mentally, and Tris (and she renames herself) is the smallest of the entire group.  Shedding her old image as a "Stiff" requires more than exchanging her drab gray tunic and pants for tattoos and form-fitting black clothes.  As Tris battles her way through training to become one of the few to pass the final test and be fully accepted into Dauntless, the last things she expects to learn about is tenderness and who it comes from: Four, her training instructor who has his own secret.  Above all else, Tris has to keep the fact that she is Divergent from Eric, the ruthless leader of the Dauntless.  When Tris and Four uncover a plan to send the factions into war, they must show how courageous they really are.

Let me just say: Tris rocks.  She is my new favorite heroine.  I sorta feel disloyal to Katniss for saying that but she went a little too off the deep end for me.  Oh, and did I mention the swoon o'meter totally reached and 10 between Tris and Four?  I found myself rooting for them and whatever this crazy thing is that they have together from the very beginning.  And I could not be more happy that there's no "other guy" in this story!

My prediction: Veronica Roth - you have the next big thing in YA lit.  And congratulations, I am now languishing until the next book comes out!  Are ya happy?  Are ya?!?!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Wilfair

This was quite the quirky little book. It's only available in e-book format and it's only 114 pages.  It was a quick read and the writing style is definitely breezy.  What's also fun is that it's about a young adult - not a teenager, an adult who is still very young.

Fair Finley is officially in charge of her very own hotel: The Wilfair.  Built by her grandfather in the 1940s the hotel, on the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Fairfax in L.A. (hence the hotel's name), the hotel was added on to over the years, mostly at the whims of her eccentric yet somewhat business-ruthless parents.  From the first level on up the styles of the hotel are themed: Traditional, Spanish, Deco, Rococo, Gothic-Storybook, Mission, and Modern.  The Wilfair also has the 500 Dip Bar.  That's right, a restaurant with 500 different kinds of creamy dips.  What they don't have is a pool.  Finley, has been charged with stealing the pool from the embattled establishment around the corner: the Fairwil.  The Wilfair tried adding an entire pool level once but all that's left of it is a drip in Finley's office.  As Finley tries to reconcile her less-than-pushy personality (she solves every guest problem with a fruit basket) with the demands of her parents, she finds herself in some strange circumstances.  The Fairwil seems to be haunted and the young cousins that run it, Monty and Gomery, are pretty dreamy. 

This may not appeal to many teens but I really liked it.  So this might be one for you grown-ups!  The only drawback is the tendency of Fair to get wordy and to mash up words.  At first it was funny, but then it just got a little too gimmicky.  But, once the next in the series is released, I'll be downloading it post-haste.  The growing swoon between Fair and one of the Montgomeries will be more than worth it!

White Crow

Let me just start by saying I should not have read this book in the dark.  I should never read Marcus Sedgwick books in the dark.  Once again, Sedgwick takes historical events and shapes an incredibly believable and incredibly creepy story out of them.

Set in a small sea-side village on the western coast of England the story is told from three interwoven perspectives: Rebecca has just moved to the village with her father under mysterious circumstances.  Ferelith has lived in the village her whole life but is now an orphan.  The priest lived over 200 years ago in that same village.  Over the years violent storms have sheered away the land, causing the village to change shape as buildings and graves from the old churches fall into the sea.  Time has also faded the memory of rumors...rumors of terrible and gruesome experiments performed in the manor house by a rich doctor.  As Rebecca forms an uneasy and sometimes volatile relationship with Ferelith, they start to unravel the mystery of what happened all those years ago.

All of Sedgwick's books are short and even though this one has female main characters for the most part, I still think boys will eat this up.  I'm not a fan of the horror genre but there is something so, dare I say luscious, about the way Sedgwick writes that I can't help myself!  For me though, I have to read something funny and light after finishing his books!

Withering Tights

In a cousin series to the Georgia Nicholson books, Louise Rennison has created a  new heroine for the middle school crowd. Tullulah Casey is off to Dother Hall, a private performing arts school, in Yorkshire to unearth all her acting talents.  Hopefully she can also simulatneously burry her legs, which she feels are way to long for her own good.  She also wouldn't be opposed to meeting a few boys either.

Because she applied late, Tullulah doesn't actually get to stay at Dother Hall, rather with a rather odd but loving Dobbins family in the town adjacent to the school.  And it turns out that that Dother Hall doesn't have boys anymore because of, well hormones.  Yorkshire isn't a total bust though because it turns out that there is a boys school nearby and you never know who you'll meet in the woods!  A sweet and eccentric group of new gal friends, a group of zany teachers, and a genuine Heathcliff archetype make this story full entertaining.

It wouldn't be a Rennison book if there weren't plenty of inside jokes, British slang (and probably a few made-up words), and abounding confusion about who is interested in whom.  Tulluah's summer adventures aren't quite as screamingly hilarious her cousin Georgia but they are still funny enough to keep me wanting to read the rest of the series. 

Friday, September 9, 2011

The New World

Hello friends and fellow YA book lovers!  How's your day?  Bright and shinny I hope!  You really are a sharp bunch and good-lookin to boot!

Now that I've buttered you up, I must ask you to not throw tomatoes at me.  Why?  Because this is going to be another seriously short review.  Before you get all huffy and puffy let me explain/blame it on Patrick Ness.  He's the one who only made this 23 pages long!  I demanded more from my Nook but it blatantly ignored me.

The New World is a short story prequel to Ness' Chaos Walking series.  Featuring just Viola and her family, the reader gets more insight into Viola's character before she crash lands into Todd's life.  You might think that since it's only 23 pages Ness could have worked it into the other books, possibly in flash backs.  Let me stop you right there...I thought the same thing at first but in all honesty it would have ruined things before they were revealed.  So there you have it! 

Oh and uh, it's only available as an ebook - you can take that one up with the publisher!

The Shattering


Jake, Schuyler, and Matthew have very little in common except that they are dead - suicide, by all appearances. 

Keri, Janna, and Sione have very little in common except they don't believe their brother's killed themselves.  United by a shared passion to catch the serial killer who murdered all of their older brothers, they discover a terrifying pattern - a teenage boy, the eldest in a family, "commits suicide" after celebrating New Year's in Keri and Jana's breathtaking resort hometown of Summerton, New Zealand.  The unlikely trio sets out to discover who is doing this and in the process they discover the horrifying reason why.

Alright, alright - I know that was like the shortest synopsis ever but it's so hard not to give anything away!  Karen Healey knows how to mix magic, strong characters, a superb plot, and pop culture just right.  And personally, I love the way Healey writes the setting as a character itself.  It's not just set dressing - it's a living, breathing part of the story.  The fact that the setting is New Zealand (I want to go there...drool, drool) only enhances it's depth.  I should also clarify that this is a mystery, an intense mystery, but not horror.

Pluuuuuuus, the U.S. version of the cover (which you see here) is pretty brilliant.  At least I think so.  Sure, the broken glass visually conveys the title, but wait until you finish the book....there's a double meaning, especially once you understand whose face that is behind the glass.

If you like The Shattering you'll also like Healey's first book Guardian of the Dead which I haven't reviewed on the blog only because I read it before I started blogging reviews and if I retro-actively reviewed...well, I'd never be able to leave the computer.

The Sweetest Thing

Does that U2 song start playing in anyone else's head when you see that title?  Bet it does now that I said that!  Christina Mandelski's book has absolutely nothing to do with that song though.

Sheridan Well's life sounds pretty great.  She's got two fantastic best friends, a serious talent for cake decorating (lookout Cake Boss!), and her dad is an incredible chef who owns his own restaurant.  He's so good in fact, he is about to get his own TV show in New York.  Unfortunately, New York is a long way from where Sheridan and her dad currently live in Michigan.  Plus, Ethan, the dreamy guy at school she's never had the guts to talk to, has started paying attention to her.  When the suits from the television show start arriving in her little town, Sheridan hatches a plan to keep her father in Michigan - mostly involving finding her mother who left years ago and convincing her to come back.

Most of my affection for this book comes from the confection.  (Okay, I'm a dork but it was too good to pass up!)  Not having had cable television for years, I came late to all the baking shows but I love them.  This was a cute story and what I'm going to start calling "chick-lite."  Sure there's family drama, a love triangle,* plenty of learning about oneself, but you kinda know it's all going to end up fairly well for everyone.  Still, it was a fun read and there's some cheesy yet adorable/adorkable swoon:

"He doesn't speak; just stares down at me, his eyes cutting through the darkness. Then he takes a step closer.  He looks hungry; he looks like he wants me. I let go of the door.  Jack lifts a hand and touches my cheek. 'I'm sorry if this ruins everything, Sheridan. But if I don't do it now, I have a feeling I'm gonna be sorry.' He brings up his other hand and holds my face, all the while looking at me with those starving dark eyes.

'What are you doing?' I whisper, but it's a stupid question, because I already know the answer.

He lowers his head and his lips touch mine.  His mouth presses softly, tender but firm, so that I have no doubt it's happened.  Then I feel that same electric current, the one I felt that night at my house, only this time multiplied by a thousand.  My eyes snap shut, and I am transported like those people on Star Trek, blown into a million pieces and floating weightless through outer space.  And my brain begins to process what is happening: Jack is kissing Sheridan."


Yeah, that could be read aloud in one of those goofy, over-dramatic, faux-British accents, but lay aside the jaded grown-up side of yourself and think back to when you were almost 16.  Now, how saaa-weet is that?  There's also a Sheridan's paternal grandmother, Nanny, who owns the bakery where Sheridan works.  Nanny's originally from the South and a bit feisty so I couldn't help but picture her as Paula Dean as I was reading.  All in all, not an essential purchase for YA collections but it wouldn't be a hard sell.


*Seriously, why are these called triangles?  It's not like the same-gender characters ever hook up in these books, thus connecting all the lines between points, a.k.a. characters, to make an actual triangle.  It's more like a love tug-of-war rope.