Saturday, April 28, 2012

Review: Intangible by J. Meyers

Title:  Intangible  
Author:  J. Meyers
Genre:  Young Adult Fantasy, Paranormal
Format:  Ebook—Kindle addition    
Release Date:  January 31, 2012
            *book was provided by author in exchange for an honest review*

Twins Sera and Luke have a well-kept secret—she heals with a touch of her hand, he sees the future. All their lives they’ve helped those in need on the sly. They’ve always thought of their abilities as being a gift.

Then Luke has a vision that Sera is killed. That gift they’ve always cherished begins to feel an awful lot like a curse. Because the thing about Luke’s ability? He’s always right. And he can’t do anything about it (summary courtesy of Goodreads).

I receive multiple requests each week from authors asking me to read and review their work. I am always honored that they ask and I honestly wish I could review every one of them, mostly because I am a people-pleaser who hates to say no.  Sometimes I find a good book and sometimes, I find a clunker. Well, Intangible falls in a category all its own—absolutely amazing. Intangible turned out to be so much more than I anticipated and I am so glad I agreed to read it.

The synopsis of the book provided by Goodreads doesn’t even hint at what this book has to offer. Mythical characters, a captivating love story, Gifted children and a Realm of indescribable beauty are just the tip of the iceberg. The reader also gets great characters, a well-written plot and a good read. Which is really what we are all looking for—a good read. I liked all of the characters in this book. Okay, wait, I didn’t like all of the characters, I liked how all of the characters were so well-written. Because believe me, there are a few nasty baddies in this book that you just love to hate. The main characters, Sera and Luke, are so fundamentally good that you can’t help but be drawn to their story and to root for everything to work out for them in the end. And honestly, I absolutely adored Luke—he is witty and has a corny, wry sense of humor. Some of my favorite lines came out of his mouth. I wasn’t too sure how I was going to feel about Marc, but he turned out to be one of those characters that worms their way into your heart, digs his feet in and won’t leave. His intense vulnerability just tugs at your heartstrings. I could go on and on about pretty much every character in this book, but that might get boring and give away a little too much. Meyers manages to construct a story that lives and breathes, a story that begs to be told and begs to be enjoyed. Her plot development and overall writing style is very reader friendly; she doesn’t overwhelm you with unnecessary, pretentious prose or an insincere, under-developed storyline. Her writing makes reading fun.

While I know I have gone on and on about how wonderful Intangible is, I do want to point out that the book is not perfect (but then again, few books are). There were a few minor editing issues, but there were very insignificant, so much so that I forgot to make note of their location. I was too engrossed in the story. Also, there is a mind-reader who can’t read the mind of the girl he is attracted to, which of course is reminiscent of Twilight. At first I thought this might bother me, especially since I hate it when people try to rip-off my favorite series, but for the most part, it is inconsequential to the story and not a blatant attempt to copy the mega-selling vampire series. But my biggest pet peeve regarding Intangible is that it looks like there will be a sequel. Why does this bother me you might ask? Because I will now have to wait! That drives me crazy!

So, in a nutshell, please, please read Intangible. Not only will you be reading a truly great book, but you will be supporting an independent author trying to make it in the crazy world of publishing.

My grade for Intangible by J. Meyers:

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Feature and Follow Friday #32

Feature and Follow Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Rachel at Parajunkee’s View and Alison at Alison Can Read. It is a great way for bloggers to make new friends and find new blogs to follow. Go to either blog, follow ALL the instructions and then add your link to the list. It’s just that easy!

This week’s question:

Have you ever had a character that disappointed you? One that you fell in love with and then "broke up" with later on in either a series or stand alone book? Tell us about him or her.

Well, I can't think of one that I fell in love with and then broke up with them. There are some characters that I have liked and then they irritated me so much that I quit liking them and they have yet to redeem themselves. I may get virtually punched for this, but the one that comes to mind first is Simon from The Mortal Instruments series. I just felt like he got really whiny and self-centered as the books progressed. I know he was going through a lot and having a difficult time, but guess what, so was Clary. But, with that being said, he has been getting a little better over the course of the last couple of books, and I hope that trend continues.

Since this meme is all about the following, feel free to follow me via GFC, Linky Followers or Networked Blogs. If you leave a comment in the comment section, I will swing by your blog and follow back! Happy weekend everyone!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Feature and Follow Friday #31

Feature and Follow Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Rachel at Parajunkee’s View and Alison at Alison Can Read. It is a great way for bloggers to make new friends and find new blogs to follow. Go to either blog, follow ALL the instructions and then add your link to the list. It’s just that easy!

This week’s question:

If you could have two fictional characters battle it out (preferably from books), who would they be and who do you think would win?

I decided to choose villains/antagonists for this question, because I don't want to see any of my favorite protagonists fighting to the death! I have chosen Sebastian from the Mortal Instruments series and Mimi Force from the Blue Bloods series by Melissa de la Cruz (while Mimi may not be a villain to every reader, she is to me. I really don't like Mimi, I've tried, I really have, but it will never happen). Quite frankly, I think that Sebastian would win this round, because he is just so unbelievably E-V-I-L. He is the embodiment of evil, ruthless and heartless. And not above using any means to win, including harming those Mimi loves. And as much as Mimi loves herself, she would probably falter if someone she truly cared about was in danger. Sebastian cares about no one but himself, so ultimately, he would win.

What about you? Who did you choose to see battle it out? Leave a link to you Feature and Follow Friday in the comment section and I will go check it out.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Review: Pretty Crooked by Elisa Ludwig

Title:  Pretty Crooked  
Author:  Elisa Ludwig
Genre:  Young Adult Thriller
Publisher:  HarperCollins
Format:  Kindle via NetGalley
Release Date:  March 13, 2012

Willa’s secret plan seems all too simple: take from the rich kids at Valley Prep and give to the poor ones.

Yet Willa’s turn as Robin Hood at her ultra-exclusive high school is anything but. Bilking her “friends”-known to everyone as the Glitterati-without them suspecting anything, is far from easy. Learning how to pick pockets and break into lockers is as difficult as she’d thought it’d be. Delivering care packages to the scholarship girls, who are ostracized just for being from the “wrong” side of town, is way more fun than she’d expected.

The complication Willa didn’t expect, though, is Aidan Murphy, Valley Prep’s most notorious (and gorgeous) ace-degenerate. His mere existence is distracting Willa from what matters most to her-evening the social playing field between the have and have-nots. There’s no time for crushes and flirting with boys, especially conceited and obnoxious trust-funders like Aidan. 

But when the cops start investigating the string of burglaries at Valley Prep and the Glitterati begin to seek revenge, could he wind up being the person that Willa trusts most? (Summary courtesy of NetGalley/HarperCollins)

After living a life of barely scraping by, Willa is suddenly living a life she never imagined; money, popularity, parties and gorgeous guys. As she eloquently puts it, she was thrust into the “epicenter of Valley Prep social life.” Her new friends, nicknamed the Glitterati, are the power group at her new elite private school. And some how, Willa has managed to make her way into their inner circle. But life isn’t as great as it would seem as one of the popular people; Cherise, Kelly and Nikki are actually not very nice, in particular Kelly and Nikki. After the Glitterati start tormenting Valley Prep’s scholarship students, Willa decides things need to change. And that she is the one who needs to help make that change.

While I enjoyed Pretty Crooked and I thought that the plot had a fun premise, it required more suspension of disbelief than I think I was able to muster. Willa’s decision to start stealing from her rich friends is a HUGE jump from her decision to just help them. I was amazed at the ease in which Willa made the decision to become a thief; she really seemed to have no qualms about it at all. In fact, she seemed to get a kick out of it. I didn’t love the message Ludwig pushed through either—that what you wear is more important than your personality. Once the scholarship girls started receiving their gifts from Willa, their lives changed. I would hope that an entire school full of kids wouldn’t be as shallow as they are portrayed in this book. It seemed a bit unrealistic to me.

I also felt that Ludwig needed to do a bit more research as well. I live in Arizona, so I’m a bit familiar with the layout of the state. So I know that you don’t go “up” to the University of Arizona from Paradise Valley, you go down. A little bit of research into the juvenile justice system would have been a good idea; some of the parts involving it were very unrealistic and rushed. 

Overall, I enjoyed the book. With a few changes and a bit of research, I think it could have been even better. I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

My grade for Pretty Crooked by Elisa Ludwig:

Monday, April 16, 2012

Teaser Tuesday April 17

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
·         Grab your current read
·         Open to a random page
·         Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
·         BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
·         Share the title & author, too, so that other Teaser Tuesday participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teaser!

My teaser this week is from the digital galley of The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman:

"Max, on the other hand was hard. Convoluted and cloudy, full of things I wasn't supposed to ask and places I knew better than to go. With Max, I didn't have to pretend."  (quote may change after publication)

I am absolutely loving this book and I am only 17% into it. It has pulled me in and I can not wait to find out what happens!

Please leave a link to your Tuesday Teaser and I will stop by and check it out! 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Review: Titanic: Voices from the Disaster by Deborah Hopkinson

Title:  Titanic: Voices from the Disaster    
Author:  Deborah Hopkinson
Genre:  Non-fiction
Publisher:  Scholastic Inc.
Format:  Paperback ARC provided by publisher
Release Date:  April 1, 2012

Early morning on April 15, 2012, the RMS Titanic, on her glorious maiden voyage from Southampton to New York, sank after striking an iceberg in the North Atlantic. Thus the ship declared to be unsinkable was lost in one of the most infamous tragedies in history. Even now, a century later, the events surrounding the Titanic continue to haunt and intrigue us.

Author Deborah Hopkinson weaves together the voices of Titanic survivors and witnesses of the disaster to bring the horrors of that terrible night to life. There’s nine-year-old Frankie Goldsmith; Violet Jessop, a young stewardess; Jack Thayer, an American high school senior; Colonel Archibald Gracie, a well-to-do gentleman; William Murdoch, a brave seaman; Charlotte Collyer, a young mother on her way to start a new life, as well as many others.

Their recollections are filled with heart-stopping action, devastating drama, and fascinating historical details.
Together with a trove of historical photographs and illustrations, the stories of these survivors capture the fateful voyage, from the majestic liner’s celebrated launch in Belfast to her cataclysmic ice end and the Carpathia’s rescue of the survivors. (Summary condensed from back of book)

I am not a big non-fiction reader, though I do make the occasional exception, especially if the topic happens to be of some interest to me. Ever since I saw 1997’s Titanic by James Cameron, I have been curious about what really happened to the ship. I know that movies embellish a great deal for dramatic effect and I wanted to understand the truth about the sinking of Titanic. It has been several years since I read anything regarding the Titanic, so I was pleased to receive a request to review this book. With the one hundred year anniversary of the sinking being commemorated this week, I was more than happy to oblige.

Titanic: Voices from the Disaster is published by Scholastic, Inc. It is geared toward younger readers, approximately sixth grade and up; though it would make a good reference for students of any age that are researching the Titanic. It is chock full of good information, statistics and first-hand recollections. Perhaps my favorite part of this book was those stories from the survivors that are intermingled throughout the entire book. Frankie Goldsmith’s stories of exploring, Violet Jessop’s stories of working for the White Star line, along with many others, brings a human side to the story that is not always experienced in other books.  Hopkinson uses letters, photographs and documented first-hand accounts to bring those experiences to the reader. I definitely enjoyed that personal touch.

Hopkinson fills her book with a lot of useful information, but she doesn’t overload her readers with unnecessary statistics that no one cares about. I liked how she included sections dedicated to explaining why the watertight doors didn’t work and why there were not enough lifeboats on board. I also appreciated Hopkinson including a section about the Carpathia and the bravery of not only its captain, but the outpouring of love and kindness of its crew and passengers. There are a lot of great facts included in this book: what happened before, what happened during and even what happened after the sinking of the great ship. Hopkinson also includes a section encouraging readers to be a “Titanic researcher” and gives them questions and resources for beginning that research.  

Titanic: Voices from the Disaster is a well-written book that I would recommend to anyone interested in finding out more about the sinking of the Titanic. This book should be read by the age group that has received most of their information about the Titanic from the movie of the same name. I will be recommending it to our school librarian and anyone who wants to learn more about the infamous ship. 

My grade for Titanic: Voices from the Disaster by Deborah Hopkinson:

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Independent Blogger Awards

I am not much of one for self-promotion, but I am going to suck it up and just go for it!

I am participating in the Independent Blogger Awards in the Young Adult and Children's category. If I receive enough votes from you, my readers, in the first round, I will advance to the second round with a change to win a trip to New York to attend Book Expo America.  If you like my blog, I would appreciate it if you would consider voting for me. Voting is open until 11:59 pm EST on April 23.

Please click HERE or in the sidebar to vote for Mom Reads My Books. Thank you so much for your support!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Review: Fairy Metal Thunder (Songs of Magic #1) by J.L. Bryan

Title:  Fairy Metal Thunder (Songs of Magic #1)  
Author:  J.L. Bryan
Genre:  Young Adult
Publisher:  CreateSpace
Format:  Kindle
Release Date:  September 16, 2011
               *book was provided by author in exchange for an honest review*

Jason plays guitar in a teenage garage band called the Assorted Zebras, but they have no fans, no gigs, and they’re going nowhere. Even worse, Jason has a crush on the lead singer, but she already has a near perfect boyfriend.

Then Jason steals instruments from the fairy world, and soon the band is enchanting crowds, but the new gear is brimming with dangerous and destructive magic. The band struggles to gain control of their instruments and avoid supernatural bounty hunters sent by Queen Mab of Faerie to track them down… (Summary courtesy of Goodreads)

Fairy Metal Thunder is a fun, quick read that takes the reader on a wild journey through the land of Faerie and into the world of the rock star. J.L. Bryan leaves no stone unturned in his quest to bring the reader into a world no one has ever seen before. His take on Faerie is creative and intriguing. I especially enjoyed how he brought all sorts of mythical creatures to life, including not only fairies, but also ogres, goblins, elves and even unicorns. There were a couple of parts when Bryan took the story to the land of Faerie that seemed to drag a little, with a bit too much detail thrown in. But I understand that Bryan was trying to create a world that no one has ever seen, so over-explanation is necessary at times.

Perhaps my favorite parts of Fairy Metal Thunder take place in the human world (or man-world as the mythical creatures call it) when the Assorted Zebras are playing the stolen fairy instruments. Bryan manages to capture the excitement and intensity of a crowd of people really enjoying a good rock show and he brings that to life for the reader. He doesn’t rely heavily on descriptions of how the instruments are played or why the crowds reacted they way they did, yet he still manages to get the feeling of intense excitement across to the reader; you just seem to know and understand after reading. I appreciated the fact that he knew his readers would understand what it is like to be swept up by the music and carried away. Bryan keeps it simple.

Bryan also built a good cast of supporting characters, such as Hoke the Elf, Jason’s sister Katie, Mrs. Dullahan and Jason’s parents. I thought Jason’s parents were very well-portrayed. They were your typical “we don’t trust you or your friends with the multi-colored hair who are in a band” parents. I felt sorry for Jason having such mistrusting parents, actually. Jason’s sister was a riot, she kept me laughing. Hoke the Elf was an oddity, but an interesting one and Mrs. Dullahan was just the right kind of scary.

About the only thing that I didn’t like about Fairy Metal Thunder was the abrupt ending. Literally, I am reading along and then BAM, it’s over. It seemed like a strange way to end a book. I know that the book has sequels but I just didn’t care for the way it ended at all.

I think this would be a great book for tweens. I am not sure older, more sophisticated teenagers will take the time to pick it up, but I know quite a few eleven to fourteen year olds who would enjoy it.

My grade for Fairy Metal Thunder (Songs of Magic #1) by J.L. Bryan:

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Feature and Follow Friday #30

Feature and Follow Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Rachel at Parajunkee’s View and Alison at Alison Can Read. It is a great way for bloggers to make new friends and find new blogs to follow. Go to either blog, follow ALL the instructions and then add your link to the list. It’s just that easy!

This week’s question:

Have you ever bought a book BECAUSE of a bad review?

I can't say that I have. I know that sometimes a bad review might put a book on my radar, but I have never read a bad review and said to myself "I have got to have that book!" I try to read multiple reviews before making a decision about a book (unless I am reviewing it, then I avoid reviews so as not to taint my opinion). There can be so many varied opinions about a book that just one review doesn't always give me enough information about it. I know that there have been books that I have given "bad" reviews to that other reviewers have absolutely loved. We all have an opinion, varied as they may be.

Now for the follow fun! I have three ways available to follow me--Linky Followers, Networked Blogs and GFC. If you leave a link in the comment section, I will stop by and follow back! 

Happy Easter everyone!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Review: Titan Magic by Jodi Lamm

Title:  Titan Magic  
Author:  Jodi Lamm
Genre:  Young Adult
Format:  Kindle
Release Date:  September 2011
    *book was provided by author in exchange for an honest review*

Mute, heartless and tormented by auditory hallucinations, Madeleine Lavoie never questions why her family has hidden her from the world.  But the night her brother casts her out, she learns the mysterious voice she thought existed only in her mind is no delusion, and no matter how hard she tries, she can never disobey it.

Now Madeleine must find her own voice in a cacophony of powerful tyrants, monsters and gods. If she fails, she will forfeit her life and the lives of everyone who loves her. But if she succeeds, she may finally gain the ability to love someone in return. (Summary courtesy of Goodreads)

Titan Magic is an extremely well-written young adult novel that reads like an intriguing fairy tale. The story is perhaps one of the most original I have read in a while, especially from a self-published author. I was quite impressed with Lamm’s prowess at writing—hers is the first self-published novel I have read that has not been fraught with grammar, spelling and other writing errors. That in itself was refreshing.

I liked the premise of Titan Magic—Madeleine Lavoie, or Maddy as she is called, has lived three years mute, sequestered away in her family home and tortured by strange hallucinations only she can hear. After her brother Marcus sends her away, she begins to learn more about her past—a past that is strange and unbelievable. It is difficult to write more about the book without giving away too much of the story and Maddy’s adventure.

Well I liked Titan Magic, I did find it confusing. There was a LOT going on. Most of the characters had complicated background stories, interwoven with the other characters, as well as characters that were not even introduced. Frieden, where the story takes place, had an extensive history that was only touched on. Midway through the book, the story started to drag—a huge amount of time was spent in conversation. While much of it was vital to the story, it took a lot time. This was a difficult investment for me as a reader, because I felt that I was investing more time in being confused. While some of the confusion was cleared up as the story progressed, not all of it was, leaving me wondering if a sequel is in the works. I worry that Lamm’s target audience, young adults interested in a good fantasy, will lose interest or become so confused they stop reading. In this age of immediate gratification and instant answers, I have found that tweens and some teens won’t give a book a chance if they have to invest too much time or thought in a book.

I liked Titan Magic; it was a good story. I will be trying to get students I know are interested in fantasy to give it a try; I think if I can get them to invest some time, they will find a story they like.

My grade for Titan Magic by Jodi Lamm: