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.

Did I drop off the face of the planet?

Nah, but have I been...
  • traveling?
  • busy?
  • facing a wicked case of writer's block?
Yep.   But I have been reading so there's going to be a veritable slew of reviews coming.  I might even get fancy and attempt to make a book trailer for one of my reviews.  So stay tuned and show some love in the comments!