Thursday, May 30, 2013

Splintered by A.G. Howard Review

Title: Splintered
Author: A.G. Howard
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: Splintered, book one
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
The bottom line: A beautiful, magical retelling of Alice in Wonderland, I loved Splintered so much I started it over three times so I could read it from the beginning--one of my very favorites of 2013.

Alyssa Gardner is very strange: she can understand and speak to plants and insects. And it gets weirder, believe it or not--all the women from generations before have gone mad from this. Alyssa discovers that she and her female descendants might not be so crazy after all, and realizes that she must unlock the secret of her family before time runs out.

What I enjoyed:
-The purple text--that was so cool!
-The flowing prose
-The pacing of the novel--it flew
-Morpheus, and his wily seduction--all to hide a tender heart
-Jeb, and his conviction to protect Alyssa to the death
-Alyssa, and the way she slowly grows into her own skin
-The creative, fun spin on a classic--I was hanging on the edge of my seat and I loved it
-The magical world that drew me in from the first page

What I didn't enjoy:
-Gossamer and her sprites

I loved Splintered and cannot wait for Unhinged! This is one of my favorites of 2013--beautiful. Check it out, guys! Next on deck: The Friday Society by Adrienne Kress!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

After Obsession by Carrie Jones and Steven E. Wedel Review

Title: After Obsession
Author(s): Carrie Jones and Steven E. Wedel
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Horror
Series: N/A
Star Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
The bottom line: Though a brave attempt at a frightening ghost story, After Obsession fell flat at times for me--if you want a spooky story by the same author, check out Need.

Aimee is noticing some strange things going on--everyone in her small Maine town is starting to be mean and cruel to one another--all the while people are dying mysterious on the water--and Alan comes to town to support his cousin Courtney through the loss of her father. The two meet and are immediately drawn to one another, through their connection as people and the connection to the supernatural--and the two find themselves fighting for their lives in a battle against an ancient evil.

What I enjoyed:
-The tie to the supernatural, and how the whole town was involved in a way
-The spooky vibe of the ghost and the way it flowed
-The tense, scary prose
-The River Man
-Aimee's mother, grandfather, and brother
-Alan's family

What I didn't enjoy:
-I wanted it to be a little spookier--Need was better fear wise
-Aimee's dad
-I wish it could've moved a little faster
-I wish the supernatural could've been expanded on some

Overall, this book, for me, was just okay--I personally like Jones' Need series better, but if you like ghost stories, grab it. (Another good ghost story is Anna, Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake.) Next on deck: Splintered by A.G. Howard!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead Review

Title: Vampire Academy
Author: Richelle Mead
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: Vampire Academy, book one
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
The bottom line: A hilarious, sexy mystery, Vampire Academy is the first in a new series that promises to be even better as it goes on--I loved it!

Rose Hathaway is a dhampir: a half-vampire, half-human teen who guards her best friend, Princess Lissa Dragomir--the girls have run away from the Vampire Academy, from a secret that haunts them both. But after two years, they are caught, and both girls are brought back, kicking and screaming. Suddenly, odd things keep happening: animals are dying, and neither girl knows who to trust, even as they fall in love.

What I enjoyed:
-Rose, and her badass attitude
-Lissa, and her sweet, kind nature
-Dimitri, stern and strict and somehow still relatable
-The pacing of the novel, it flew--I can't wait for Frostbite!
-The mystery that was wrapped up in romance throughout the novel
-The sizzling romance between Rose and Dimitri, and Lissa and Christian
-The way the mythology of the novel still stays true to vampire lore

What I didn't enjoy:

I really, really, really loved Vampire Academy--it was great, and I especially loved Rose--more please! For those of you who love romance, action, and badass girls, pick up Vampire Academy! Next on deck: After Obsession by Carrie Jones and Steven E. Wedel!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray Review

Title: Beauty Queens
Author: Libba Bray
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fiction
Series: N/A
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
The bottom line: A hilarious, sizzling satire, Beauty Queens was a real treat that had me cracking up at every few pages!

The Teen Dream beauty pageant contestants are excited for the chance to win money and be crowned as winner--that is, until their plane crashes on a deserted island in the middle of the ocean--and the girls must decide what's more important: competing against each other, or for survival, and finding their true selves along the way.

What I enjoyed:
-The hilarious tone of the novel, and the way it flowed
-The satire of it, and the way it makes fun of how the media objectifies women
-The vast cast of characters and how it was easy to follow along and keep track
-The footnotes
-The funny personal pages about the girls
-The mystery that was wrapped up in humorous packaging
-The way the book got serious at the end

What I didn't enjoy:
-Ladybird Hope
-Agent Jones

This book was hilarious. Anyone looking for a light, fast-paced, frothy read should pick up Beauty Queens. If you're looking for something darker by the same author, go for The Gemma Doyle Trilogy or The Diviners. Next on deck: Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin Review

Title: Masque of the Red Death
Author: Bethany Griffin
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Dystopian Fiction
Series: Masque of the Red Death, book one
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
The bottom line: Terrifying, beautiful, tense, and thrilling, Masque of the Red Death is a beautiful dystopian tale designed to keep readers on their toes and thrill them with the tense, frightening prose.

Araby Worth is a rich young woman whose life consist of parties, drugs, and wealth; she enjoys a high position over the rest of the population--her father being the scientist who saved humanity from the plague, with the invention of masks that filter the air people breathe. Unfortunately, only the rich can afford these masks, and on a night of trying to forget about the death around her--including her brother's--Araby meets two boys, both gorgeous and both with secrets--Elliot and Will. Araby finds herself in the middle of a love triangle as well as a revolution, and something to live for.

What I enjoyed:
-The tense, terrifying, yet beautiful prose that had me on edge the entire time I was reading the book
-Araby, and her desperation to find oblivion and forget the pain of her past
-Will, and his siblings, Elise and Henry
-The constant bombshells that continued throughout the book
-The fast pacing--I gobbled up this novel
-The atmosphere--at times I kept wondering if I was going to jump or even scream
-The love triangle

What I didn't enjoy:
-Araby's parents

If you guys are looking for a scary dystopian thriller, pick up Masque of the Red Death! The sequel, Dance of the Red Death, comes out the second week of June. Next on deck: Beauty Queens by Libba Bray!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Graceling by Kristin Cashore Review

Title: Graceling
Author: Kristin Cashore
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: Graceling, book one
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
The bottom line: Original, beautifully told, and completely absorbing, Graceling was a wonderful find--easily a new favorite--and I cannot wait for the companions, Fire and Bitterblue--absolutely stunning!

Katsa is a Graceling: a wild young woman gifted with the Grace--the supernatural gift--of killing, and is forced to work as her uncle Randa's thug, the muscle behind the King's iron-handed rule. On an originally routine mission, Katsa meets Po, a Graced Prince of a neighboring kingdom, and when she does, she discovers love, controlling her own power, betrayal, and what it means to be truly human.

What I enjoyed:
-The intricate web Cashore weaves as Katsa's world
-Katsa, half girl and half animal, and completely relatable as the compelling protagonist, as she strurggles to find her own independence
-Po, and the way he challenges Katsa to be a weapon for herself and herself alone
-Bitterblue, whose story will be continued in the last companion novel of the same name
-The way Gracelings were integrated into the world's culture
-The beautiful prose
-King Leck
-The complex cast of characters
-How even though it was a high fantasy, it was easy to follow

What I didn't enjoy:
-The culture wasn't explained enough for my taste in spots, but that was all that was wrong--it was wonderful!

I loved this novel. Any fan of high fantasy novels and girl power books should grab this one--it is a complete, sparkling gem, worth keeping, and it deserves the hype that one hears about it. Beautiful! Next on deck: The Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin!

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker Review

Title: The Golem and the Jinni
Author: Helene Wecker
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: N/A
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
The bottom line: Told in lyrical, beautiful prose, The Golem and the Jinni is a rich, glittering gem of a novel that doesn't disappoint, delivering magic, mystery, and a coming of age, all wrapped up in a mindblowing debut.

Chava, a golem, a being made of clay, comes to New York alone after her master dies, struggling to live in an unfamiliar city congested with people, and Ahmad, a jinni imprisoned in human form, is released from an oil flask, landing in the middle of a metal-smith's shop--they encounter a colorful, vibrant cast of characters as both struggle to find their way and their identities.

What I enjoyed:
-The lyrical writing, and the way the story unfolded like a fairy tale
-The cast of characters, and how easily everything flowed; it was easy to keep track of everyone
-The way the supernatural flowed so easily into everything
-The pacing--the book flew and I gobbled the book up in two days
-The way how it satisfied everything--it was a mystery, a coming of age, and a magical tale of identity
-The way the plot was rooted in 1899, as if the country was coming of age as well as Ahmad and Chava were
-The setting of New York City
-Everything was absolutely wonderful, and I really enjoyed it.

For those of you looking for a deep, sparkling tale, pick up The Golem and the Jinni--I promise you all will enjoy it--there was nothing I didn't love about this dark tale! Next on deck: Graceling by Kristin Cashore!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Nameless by Lili St. Crow Review

Title: Nameless
Author: Lili St. Crow
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy/Horror
Series: Tales of Beauty and Madness, book one
Star Rating: 1 out of 5 stars
The bottom line: An attempt at a Snow White retelling, this book was confusing, hard to follow, and didn't make up its mind on its genre or what it was about--and was mediocre at best--things didn't pick up until the last one hundred pages, and as I loved the Strange Angels series, this novel was a huge disappointment to me.

Camille is an orphan, taken in by The Family, a magical group of vampires in the snowy land of New Haven, scarred by a past she cannot remember. Desperately in love with her foster brother, Nico, Cami feels she does not belong and begins to dig into the past that haunts her so thoroughly--leading her down a path of terror, identity, and darkness.

What I enjoyed:
-The valiant, if misguided, attempt at a vampire retelling of Snow White
-The structure of the Family
-The way magic tied into the foundation of the novel
-The last one hundred pages

What I didn't enjoy:
-The pacing of the novel was far too slow
-Things only picked up after the last one hundred pages
-It was way too hard to follow
-The novel seemed to try to genre-jump; it was about vampires, magic, and a fairy tale retelling--the message of the book wasn't clear
-This was a real disappointment, as St. Crow's other vampire series, Strange Angels, was wonderful

If you guys can handle a scary novel and get through it all the way, then pick up Nameless, but if you guys are looking for a cool vampire series, go for Strange Angels--Nameless isn't worth the money, at least in my opinion. Next on deck: The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes

Title: Falling Kingdoms
Author: Morgan Rhodes
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: Falling Kingdoms, book one
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
The bottom line: Though it had some quite obvious parallels with the adult series A Song of Ice and Fire, Falling Kingdoms as a wonderful epic in its own right.

Mytica has enjoyed peace for a long time. But there are people in the kingdom experiencing unrest--and there are four teens instrumental in the coming storm: Cleo, the pampered princess, Lucia, the sorceress, Magnus, her brother, the misunderstood prince, and Jonas, the bitter, angry rebel.

What I enjoyed:
-Even though there was a vast cast of characters, it was easy to keep track with the flowing narrative and the list of characters at the front of the novel
-The pacing and the way everything wove together so neatly
-The prologue at the beginning that tied later into the novel
-The way everything seemed so believable
-The mythology of the three different parts of Mytica

What I didn't so much like:
-King Gauis
-The obvious parallels to A Song of Ice and Fire

Despite the parallels and the slight cliches, I really enjoyed Falling Kingdoms and look forward to reading Rebel Spring in December. Next on deck: Nameless by Lili Saint Crow!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo Review

Title: Shadow and Bone
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: The Grisha Trilogy, book one
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
The bottom line: Lush, beautiful, and utterly riveting, Shadow and Bone was an amazing adventure with a wonderful cast of deeply layered characters: namely the main character, Alina, her soldier, Mal, and the mysterious Darkling.

Alina is a nobody--an orphan raised to become a soldier for the country of Ravka. Her life is simple, fighting for her country, risking her life by facing the Shadow Fold, and trying to deny her feelings for her best friend, Mal. But that all changes on a mission when a mysterious light explodes from inside Alina--identifying her as The Sun Summoner, savior of the country, the stuff of legend. She is then thrust into a world of royal intrigue, and becomes the pet of the mysterious, seductive Darkling--and Alina must figure out who she can trust and find the strength to control her own destiny.

What I enjoyed:
-Alina--slowly gaining confidence throughout the novel as she gains control of her power
-Mal, her best friend and one of the best soldiers in the country's forces
-The Darkling, and the way he was mysterious and beautiful, and his slippery way of acting
-The integration of Russian culture in the novel
-The mythology, and the way the magic was integrated so easily into the novel
-The way the world seemed so believable

What I didn't enjoy:

But I'm picking at straws--this novel is absolutely beautiful, a wonderful treat worth savoring, especially for those who like magic, mystery, and adventure. It was a complete joy to read and I enjoyed it so much, I couldn't put it down! Next on deck: Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Velveteen by Daniel Marks

Title: Velveteen
Author: Daniel Marks
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult (Recommended for older teens.)
Genre: Horror
Series: N/A
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
The bottom line: A dark, macabre, delicious treat, Velveteen was a scary, thought-provoking tale that haunted me--and had me constantly laughing or cringing--it was absolutely beautiful!

Velvet is a ghost, hell-bent on revenge--having died young at the hands of a twisted, psychopathic killer. Stuck in purgatory, head of a ghost squad, she sneaks away to try and thwart her killer's repeat performances, all the while trying to keep busy. Once in purgatory, she meets Nick, and learns to love again--along the way trying to solve a mystery that happened long before her time.

What I enjoyed:
-Velvet and her kickass attitude--despite her brashness, I still sympathized with her
-Nick, and the way he prompted Velvet to open up again
-The rest of Velvet's team
-The beautiful prose
-The mystery that wasn't solved completely until the last ten pages of the novel
-The mythology of it
-The humor, dark and funny

What I didn't enjoy:
-At times it was a little confusing and hard to follow along
-It was incredibly graphic at points (Read at your own risk!)
-Isadora and her team

I really, really loved Velveteen. If you guys want anything spooky, scary, or darkly funny, pick it up--it was an absolute treat and I loved it! More please, Daniel, please! (P.S.: There's a story in Kiss Me Deadly by Trisha Telep that features Velvet and Nick. <3) Next on deck: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier Review

Title: Ruby Red
Author: Kerstin Gier
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: Ruby Red, book one
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
The bottom line: A new book with an interesting premise and a fun cast of characters, I really liked Ruby Red even though the mythology was a little confusing at times.

Gwen lives with her eccentric family in England--a family of time-travelers. She feels as if she's the only ordinary one in her family--that is, until she starts experiencing dizzy spells that result into her catapulting into the past. She soon finds herself entrenched in a family's old mystery, and finds herself falling for Gideon, her male counterpart, all the while wrapped in danger and deception...

What I enjoyed:
-Gwen and her wry voice--I loved her sense of humor
-Gwen's crazy family
-Robert, and Gwen's ability to speak to ghosts
-Mr. Squirrel
-The mystery wrapped in Gwen's coming-of age

What I didn't like:
-The whole time-traveling mythology was a little confusing at times
-Count Saint-Germain
-Aunt Glenda

Overall, I really liked this book--I would recommend it to girls looking for a clean, funny romance--there are also two more in the series: Sapphire Blue, and Emerald Green. Next on deck: Velveteen by Daniel Marks!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev Review

Title: Eyes Like Stars
Author: Lisa Mantchev
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: Theatre Illuminata, Act I
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
The bottom line: Magical, gorgeous, and absolutely hilarious, Eyes Like Stars swept me up and held me captive until the very last page, especially the love triangle between Nate, Bertie, and Ariel--I can't wait to see what happens next!

Bertie Shakespeare Smith is a girl who lives in a theatre, surrounded by well-known characters: Ophelia from Hamlet, Ariel from The Tempest, and the mischievous fairies from A Midsummer Night's Dream, all destined to relive their plays again and again. They are her family, the only one she's ever known. But all that changes when the Theatre Manager tells Bertie she must leave to find her own place in the world, setting off a chain reaction of events--with Bertie right in the center, stuck between the dashing pirate Nate and the seductive, beautiful air spirit Ariel.

What I enjoyed:
-the beautiful, free-flowing poetry that was the narration
-The pacing--the book flew and I absolutely adored it
-Beatrice, and her spunky attitude, as well as her unrelenting desire to discover her past
-Nate, and his dashing pirate ways--it was so adorable to see him protecting Bertie!
-Ariel--he gave me the shivers at times
-The constant surprises--I cannot wait for Perchance to Dream and So Silver Bright!
-Most of the theatre staff
-I couldn't stop laughing, especially at the fairies
-The fairies
-Mrs. Edith

What I did not enjoy:
-The Stage Manager
-Ariel, at times
-It reminded me a bit of Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor at the beginning, before it spun into its own plot
-Mr. Tibbs

I really, really adored this book--it was so much fun to read! I can't wait to read the last two. Recommended for those in love with theater, fantasy, or spunky heroines! Next on deck: Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Diviners by Libba Bray Review

Title: The Diviners
Author: Libba Bray
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy/Horror
Series: The Diviners, book one
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
The bottom line: Set in the glittering era of the Roaring Twenties, The Diviners swept me away with a wonderful cast of characters, a terrifying villain that scared me to death, and a wonderful, well researched mythology!

Evie O'Neill, after an embarrassing incident at home, is sent to New York City to live with her Uncle Will--and she couldn't be more thrilled to be out of claustrophobic Ohio. Once there, she discovers her uncle has an unhealthy obsession with the supernatural, and he runs a museum the locals call 'The Museum of Creepy Crawlies'. But the gang soon discovers there is a serial killer on the loose, with a terrifying plan.

What I enjoyed:
-Evie, as well as the cast of characters she meets
-Naughty John
-The spooky mythology--there were times when I was up all night, no joke
-The research that went into the novel
-The setting of the Roaring Twenties--it couldn't have been more perfect
-I want to know more about Project Buffalo!
-Everyone's powers
-The spooky, fast-paced story telling

What I didn't like:
-Nothing! I can't wait for the next book, and I think Bray has done a wonderful job with this new series--in some ways it reminded me of her Gemma Doyle trilogy, and it was wonderful. Next on deck: Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev!