Sunday, July 31, 2011

Shattered Dreams: A Midnight Dragonfly Novel by Ellie James

Title:  Shattered Dreams: A Midnight Dragonfly Novel
Author:  Ellie James
Genre:  Young Adult
Publisher:  Griffin Original
Format/Pages:  Paperback/342 pages
Release Date:  December 2011

Trinity Monsour has spent her life in the secluded mountains of Colorado, raised and homeschooled by her grandmother. After her grandmother passes away, Trinity moves to New Orleans to live with her aunt.  Trinity knows virtually nothing about her parents, or the city she was born in.  Once in New Orleans, Trinity strives to fit in and lead a normal life. Unfortunately, Trinity herself isn’t normal. She’s psychic.

Trinity’s life begins to change as her visions accelerate. But not everyone believes that she is having visions; some people believe that she is really responsible for the disappearance of the school’s head cheerleader.  Trinity is pulled into a world she never believed was possible, a world her mother was involved in. As Trinity learns secret after secret and more truths are revealed, things around her begin to spin out of control. Will the truth push her over the edge?

Shattered Dreams is a compelling, intriguingly unique story with well-written characters. Trinity is the seemingly typical high school girl, a little bit confused and scared, but wanting everything to be normal.  The “mean girls” at the high school, in particular Amber, are the epitome of the nasty, self-centered teenage girls every one has experienced.  The male leads of the story, especially Chase, at first seem like bone-headed jocks, but grow into characters with more depth than imagined.  My favorite part of the story was the characters.

I enjoyed Ellie James’ descriptions of New Orleans.  She captured the beauty of the city, as well as the haunting loss the city has experienced since Hurricane Katrina.  She obviously has a vast knowledge of the city and she utilized that knowledge to bring the city to life.

While I enjoyed the story James’ wrote, at times it felt a bit out of sync.  This became more noticeable as the book neared the end. New characters were brought in, seemingly out of nowhere, and became an integral part of the story.  A love triangle appeared in the last 60 pages of the book, one that was totally unexpected.  The motives of some characters seemed odd, even questionable, and were never explained.  Fortunately, the story ended well, redeeming itself. 

This is a book I would recommend to my girls, though I don’t think I would encourage them to move it up on their list. Definitely readable and enjoyable. 

I received this book as a LibraryThing Early Reviewer. It will be released in December 2011.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Reading in the Rain, Just Reading in the Rain!

Hello all!

I wanted to post a quick update to let you know I haven't given up on my blog!  I am in Prescott, AZ chaperoning marching band camp with my girls ("and this one time at band camp...").  We are busy, busy, busy. Ok, well, they are busy, busy, busy. I am working on band booster board stuff, and when I have free time, I am reading.

I am currently reading:

Both of these are Young Adult novels that not yet available for release. I will post reviews as soon as I finish them. 

For those of you that have recently started following my blog, I apologize that I have been unable to follow back, the wireless connection up here is awful! Once I can, I will give you a follow back!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

A Book Lover's Win!

I had a very exciting day on Thursday! Not only did I finally get my air conditioning fixed after 6 days of sweltering, unbearable heat in my house, but I also won a Kindle from a local radio station!  I was sooo excited!

Now, some of you who know me or follow this blog might be saying, "Wait, don't you already have a Kindle?"  Well, yes I do. But, it's one I share with my husband. And as patient as my husband is with my book obsession, he sometimes doesn't get it. He doesn't understand my fascination with the young adult genre, he doesn't understand why sometimes I just can't wait for it to come out in paperback and he doesn't understand how I can read so many books in a month (he has been reading the same book for about 5 weeks--he falls asleep everytime he reads it)! So, he makes that frowny face of his everytime he gets an email that I bought a book for the Kindle and usually gives me a "not again" sigh.  And he would never let me get books on the Kindle that I already own physical copies of, such as my beloved Twilight series.

Well, those days are over!! And I can finally, FINALLY, I say, get the Twilight series and the Mortal Instruments series for my Kindle! Thank you 98.7 The Peak and Chris and Monica in the morning!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Sleepwalkers by J. Gabriel Gates

Title:  The Sleepwalkers 
Author:  J. Gabriel Gates
Genre:  Adult Horror
Publisher: HCI Publishing
Format/Pages:  Netgalley/329 pages
Publication Date:  October 4, 2011

Privileged and popular Caleb Mason is celebrating his high school graduation when he receives a mysterious, disturbing letter from his long-lost childhood playmate, Christine.  Caleb and his jokester friend Bean decide to travel to his tiny hometown of Hudsonville, Florida, to find her.  Upon arrival, they discover the town has taken a horrifying turn for the worse.  Caleb’s childhood home is abandoned and his father has disappeared.  Children are going missing.  The old asylum is reopened, and Christine is locked inside.  Her mother, a witch, is consumed with madness, and Christine’s long-dead twin sister whispers clues to Caleb through the static of an AM radio.

The terrifying prophesies of the spirits are coming to pass.  Eighteen clocks are ticking; sixty-six murdered souls will bring about the end of the world.  As Caleb peels back layer after layer of mystery, he uncovers a truth more horrible than anything he had imagined, a truth that could only be uttered by the lips of the dead (Book jacket description).

Gates tells an interesting tale; he takes a normal, down-to-earth teenager on the brink of a new life, and shoves him into a new future affected by his barely remembered past.  The mystery of the story is well-played out, stringing the reader along and keeping them wondering. I did figure out the biggest mystery a couple of chapters before Caleb did, though. <Insert smirk here>  The story is pretty scary at times, with dark tunnels, creepy kids and strange sounds emanating from all around.  I felt my breathing speed up and my pulse race on multiple occasions.  I loved the character of Bean; he was the perfect blend of sarcasm, bravado and honest friendship.  You knew he cared about Caleb, and I loved reading their various interactions throughout the book.   

All in all, this is a good read.  It keeps the reader interested; you want to know what is going to happen to the different characters in the book.  I enjoyed the writing style; rather than follow just one point of view, it shifts from character to character. I thought this kept the story interesting and flowing.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr

Title:  Ink Exchange
Author:  Melissa Marr
Genre:  Young Adult, Paranormal
Publisher:  HarperCollins
Format/Pages:  Paperback/325 pages

Seventeen-year-old Leslie knows nothing of faeries or their shadowy power struggles.  When she is attracted to an eerily beautiful tattoo, all she knows is that she has to have it, convinced it is a tangible symbol of changes she desperately craves for her own life. 

The tattoo does bring changes—not the kind that Leslie has dreamed of, but sinister, compelling changes that bind Leslie to Irial, a dark and dangerous faery king fighting for the soul of his court.  Slowly, Leslie is drawn deeper and deeper into the faery world, unable to resist its allures, and helpless to withstand its perils. (Description from paperback book cover)

Melissa Marr creates yet another fascinating story of the faery world and its courts. Just as in Wicked Lovely, she weaves a world worth visiting, a world that inexplicably draws you in.

I am finding the faery world created by Marr extremely intriguing. Both Wicked Lovely and Ink Exchange are books that can be read alone, without the necessity of reading the previous book (though it is helpful—and enjoyable). Marr walks the fine line between young adult and adult surprisingly well; she merely suggests at the sexuality and depravity of the Dark Court, leaving the exact details to the reader’s imagination. This is something about her books I really love; she doesn’t go too far while still not holding anything back.

There were times I felt a bit disjointed as I read the book, feeling as if I was floating along catching occasional glances of the story within. Then I realized, this was Marr’s way of allowing the reader to feel some of what Leslie was feeling. Amazing writing! 

Again, I highly recommend this book, just as I did Wicked Lovely.  YA fans will want to get lost in Marr’s faery world!

Monday, July 18, 2011

We Interrupt This Regularly Scheduled Blog.... tell you that I am so unbelievably miserable due to a severe lack of air conditioning that I can't even read!

While we were on vacation in Montana, our AC went out. Bad news when you live in Arizona and it's 110 outside. I am one giant ball of sweat and I am so miserable that I don't even want to read. I keep picking up my book, I read 2 or 3 sentences and I put it back down. I also have several netgalley books to read, but it is too hot to sit with my laptop on my lap and read them. So, until this stupid thing is fixed, I think I am on a reading hiatus. Bummer. Hopefully, it will be fixed soon.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr

Title:  Wicked Lovely
Author:  Melissa Marr
Genre:  Young Adult/Paranormal/Romance
Publisher:  Harper Collins/Harper Teen
Paperback/Pages:  352 Pages

Rule #3: Don't stare at invisible faeries.
Aislinn has always seen faeries. Powerful and dangerous, they walk hidden in mortal world. Aislinn fears their cruelty—especially if they learn of her Sight—and wishes she were as blind to their presence as other teens.

Rule #2: Don't speak to invisible faeries.
Now faeries are stalking her. One of them, Keenan, who is equal parts terrifying and alluring, is trying to talk to her, asking questions Aislinn is afraid to answer.

Rule #1: Don't ever attract their attention.
But it's too late. Keenan is the Summer King who has sought his queen for nine centuries. Without her, summer itself will perish. He is determined that Aislinn will become the Summer Queen at any cost—regardless of her plans or desires.

Suddenly none of the rules that have kept Aislinn safe are working anymore, and everything is on the line: her freedom; her best friend, Seth; her life; everything.

Faerie intrigue, mortal love, and the clash of ancient rules and modern expectations swirl together in Melissa Marr's stunning 21st century faery tale. (Amazon Product Description)

I discovered Wicked Lovely thanks to an eavesdropping associate at my local Half-Price Books. As my eldest daughter and I searched for some new reading material to take on vacation, we heard a disembodied voice floating from amongst the stacks telling us to try reading Melissa Marr’s books. I laughed at first, but when the associate told me that anyone who loved Twilight needed to read them, I decided to take the plunge. I only bought the first two books (dang it!), but I am glad I did. I will definitely have to seek out the others in the series.

I loved this book! Melissa Marr weaves a world so amazing and intriguing that it practically leaves you breathless!  I was drawn into the world of the fey from page one and I could not pull myself out of it, nor did I want to. I have read books with faeries, but none as amazing as Wicked Lovely. Marr creates characters that are so irresistible, that I couldn’t choose a side. On one page I was siding with the fey and on another I was siding with the mortals. Keenan and Seth are both so beautiful and amazing, choosing between them seems nearly impossible. I am thankful I am not Aislinn.  The mortal characters are just as interesting as the fey characters. I am desperate to learn more about this world that Marr has created and I will be picking up the rest of the series.

If you are a fan of paranormal romance, this book is for you. I recommend it for anyone who enjoyed the Mortal Instruments series or the Twilight series.  Actually, I recommend it for everyone!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Cinder Edna by Ellen Jackson

Title:  Cinder Edna
Author:  Ellen Jackson
Illustrator:  Kevin O'Malley
Genre:  Children
Publisher:  Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Books
Hardback/Pages:  29

Once upon a time there were two girls who lived next door to each other. Cinder Edna was forced to work for her wicked stepmother and stepsisters, just as her neighbor, Cinderella, was. But Edna learned a thing or two from doing all that housework, such as how to make tuna casserole sixteen different ways and how to get spots off everything from rugs to ladybugs....(inside book jacket)

Cinder Edna is a very cute story about Cinderella's neighbor, Edna, who learns to be independent and self-sufficient. It shows young girls how life can be lived without the help of a fairy godmother. And how much better it can be!

I thought this was a well-written story with beautiful illustrations. Fun read!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Gravity: A young adult paranormal romance by Abigail Boyd

Gravity is an original story about ghosts and romance from a new, young author, Abigail Boyd.

I really, really wanted to say that I loved this book. It has so much potential. But the English teacher in me is having a hard time getting past the sophomoric writing and lack of editing.  Too many times I stumbled upon blatantly obvious mistakes that could have been corrected with proper editing.  There were times I became confused by sudden changes or jumps in the story. At times I felt as if Ms. Boyd forgot what she had written in her story, leaving me confused and agitated.  I hope that these errors are corrected in future books.  

I did enjoy the original story--ghosts--and Ariel and Theo were refreshing characters. I am hopeful that Ms. Boyd continues writing and working diligently toward bringing a fresh perspective to the young adult genre.

All in all, Gravity is not a bad read. I guess I just expect a lot more from my authors, like proper sentences and editing. No one is perfect, but if you plan on releasing a novel for the public to read, make sure it is ready to be read by those with a scrutinizing eye.  

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Sophie and Carter by Chelsea Fine

Sophie and Carter have been neighbors since the 3rd grade. They can look into each other's windows and see the life the other leads. But those lives are dysfunctional at best. Sophie and Carter know the best and the worst about each other. They are best friends. As their lives evolve and change as graduation draws near, will that friendship change and become something more?

This was a very sweet and endearing story. Chelsea Fine captures the bitterness and uncertainty of growing up very well. I read this story in one sitting, clicking madly through the chapters on my Kindle to see what would happen next. A very well-written young adult novel.

Sophie and Carter makes a great read, especially for a reluctant reader. It is an uncomplicated read, short, but not too short. A great introduction to the young adult genre for the transitioning reader.

I do have to confess that I have known Chelsea since she was in high school. I am very excited to see this young lady making her way in the young adult genre! I wish her the best of luck!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Will the world ever find perfection? In the future created by Veronica Roth, society has been divided into factions-Abnegation, Amity, Candor, Erudite and Dauntless. Choose for life or be factionless. Each faction values certain human characteristics above others and some factions don't like how other factions are doing things. When Tris chooses her faction, it changes her life forever. But she is not what she thinks, she is Divergent.

Roth's Divergent is yet another look at our world's future. After war has apparently destroyed society as we know it, the powers-that-be divide people into different factions. You choose your faction after your 16th birthday, choosing to stay with your family in the faction you were raised in or choosing to leave everything you know to start over in a new faction. The story grabs you in the beginning and holds you until the very end. The characters are believable and relatable. The burgeoning romances are tender, sweet and unpredictable. I didn't connect the dots in the story until the heroine, Tris did. I love a story where I don't figure it out before the main character does. This book is a great addition to the young adult genre. A definite keeper!

Fantastic read, I recommend it to anyone who is a fan of the young adult genre.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Back-to School Rules by Laurie Friedman, illustrated by Teresa Murfin

Percy Isaac Gifford is ready to tell us his rules for going back-to-school. Only his rules tell us what NOT to do in school. Percy gives the reader his ten simple rules for going back to school and assures us that if these rules are followed, the act of going back-to-school will be a success.

Friedman’s delightful book gives children a fun heads-up as to what NOT to do when they are in school. Paired with Murfin’s colorful illustrations, Friedman’s rhythmic prose tells every child the best way to survive middle school. The rules are fun and interesting, while actually accurately depicting rules that teacher’s would appreciate students following, such as “Don’t sing too loud or stare” or my favorite rule, “Don’t slither on the floor!” A great must-read for those children entering school and feeling a little bit nervous, this book will definitely lighten the mood!

No More Pears by Jackie French and Bruce Whatley

Pamela the cow loves pears. She loves pears so much, that no one else can get any! Will any one else ever get any pears or will Pamela eat them all?

This is a very cute story of an adorable cow who loves pears. The illustrations were very well done; I loved Pamela the cow’s heart!  This book is a fun, simple read for young children.  The repetition makes it easy to pick out the oft-repeated words for the new reader, but it also offers some more difficult words—like wombat—for the emerging reader.  This makes a great book to read out loud to children or for the beginning reader to tackle themselves.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Ditched: A Love Story by Robin Mellom

Prom is supposed to be every girl’s dream, right? Except Justina’s. Prom really isn’t her thing, but she agrees to go with her best friend, Ian Clark. Justina is hoping that tonight will be the night, the night a girl will remember forever, the night that maybe things with Ian will change.  But instead, she ends up ditched, literally and figuratively, and explaining what happened to her, and her dress, to two ladies in a 7-Eleven.  If she can piece it all together, she might be able to figure out how she ended up without a date. And maybe she can figure out if love can still happen, despite what happened on Prom night.

What a refreshing story! I really enjoyed this fun, quirky story about Justina and the prom night where everything went wrong.  The characters in Ditched: A Love Story were original and interesting, as was the story. What teenage girl hasn’t succumbed to pressure from their mom, or made assumptions that were completely wrong?  The transitions between chapters using the prom dress were great and I loved the chapter titles. I really liked Mike and the Other Mike; they made for great comic relief. I could totally picture two lovable, innocent, stoned-out dudes in my head. I also appreciated the way Mellom approached her storytelling, using the dress stains and Justina’s injuries to lead the story.  Very original. I will definitely be recommending this book to my students, as well as the teachers and librarians I know, and most importantly, my own teenage daughters.

The release date on this book is January 10, 2012.

Friday, July 1, 2011

July is NetGalley Month!

July is NetGalley month:

This should be fun! Maybe I can read a lot!

If you don't know what NetGalley is, check it out here:

Honestly, Red Riding Hood was Rotten by Trisha Speed Shaskan

I reviewed this book for Netgalley.

This is a very cute story of Red Riding Hood as told by the Wolf.

We’ve always heard Red Riding Hood’s story told to us from Red’s point of view. But the Wolf has a story too, right? After all, he was there just like Red and Granny.  This inventive narrative gives the reader the Wolf’s side of the story and we discover that everyone has a different perspective.

The Wolf isn’t a horrifying human-eating monster. He’s really just a really hungry vegetarian who is practically starving after all the apples are gone and harvest time is not happening anytime soon.  And Red, well, she’s kind of annoying. 

I thought this story was well-written and original. The illustrations were also well done, with beautiful colors and clever drawings.  I especially liked the “Think About It” portion of the book at the end.  The glossary of various literature terms is a great way to introduce children to the different elements of storytelling.

Fun read for those with children!    

Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick

This book was amazing! Utterly, totally and completely amazing!  This is by far one of my favorite reads this year. I could not put it down, I blew through it in 2 days, stopping only when forced to!

Book description: 

It could happen tomorrow...

A cataclysmic event. An army of "The Changed."
Can one teen really survive on her own?

An electromagnetic pulse sweeps through the sky, destroying every electronic device and killing billions. For those spared, it's a question of who can be trusted and who is no longer human...

Desperate to find out what happened and to avoid the Changed, Alex meets up with Tom---a young army veteran---and Ellie, a young girl whose grandfather was killed by the electromagnetic pulse.

This improvised family will have to use every ounce of courage they have just to survive.

I don't want to give away too much about Ashes; this book has one twist after another!  This book was fast-paced, exciting and suspenseful. Each time I came to the end of a chapter, my pulse was racing and my thoughts were flying and I was dying to know what happened next!  Bick really captured the insaneness of a world gone crazy and she created characters I really cared about.  I had expected this to be just another young adult, dystopian world novel. I was thoroughly mistaken!  This is definitely NOT typical, it's fascinating!  The story was not what I expected at all and the end blew me away. I sat with my mouth hanging open, muttering, "No, no, it can't be over!"  I hope that Bick is planning a sequel to this amazing novel.

Just a few notes:  I think this novel is best suited to high-school age students and up. It can be pretty bloody and gory at times; it is not for those with a weak stomach. There are a few swear words, but nothing too major.

The expected publication date is September 6, 2011.