Saturday, December 28, 2013

Ashes on the Waves by Mary Lindsey Review

Title: Ashes on the Waves
Author: Mary Lindsey
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy/Romance/Horror
Series: N/A
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
The bottom line: A beautiful, dark love story expanding on Edgar Allen Poe's poem Annabel Lee, Ashes on the Waves drew me in completely--a favorite of 2013! I only wish there was more!

Liam MacGregor lives on the island of Dochas, a place steeped in myth, darkness, and tradition. Seen as a demon due to a deformity at birth, he's accepted his fate: to live and die ostracized on the island. But it all changes when Annabel Leighton, Liam's childhood playmate, comes back--and the two fall passionately in love. But dark forces are stirring, betting on whether the lovers will stay together.. Even if the price is death itself.

What I enjoyed:
-The beautiful, grim island of Dochas, which Lindsey paints skillfully, a dark, cruel place hiding still more secrets
-The mythology of the novel--I loved the way the author used Irish mythology so artfully--it was really different and I enjoyed it a lot
-Liam, a strange boy completely out of his element even on the island, but even more so when Anna comes into his life, and his evolution throughout the novel
-Anna, the sweet, loving, headstrong young woman that Liam falls so helplessly in love with
-The pacing of the novel--it moved along very smoothly and quickly and kept me glued to the book
-The tests that the lovers had to face throughout the novel
-Brigid Ronan
-The ending--I cried my eyes out!
-Muireann and most of the selkies in the book

What I didn't enjoy:
-There was nothing I didn't love about this novel--it was an absolute triumph! I loved it!

I loved Ashes on the Waves--one of my favorites of 2013! I'd recommend it to anyone who loves dark paranormals, or anyone who loves a heartmelting love story. Next on deck: The Beautiful and the Cursed by Page Morgan!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Ink by Amanda Sun Review

Title: Ink
Author: Amanda Sun
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: Paper Gods, book one
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
The bottom line: A lush, gorgeous, deliciously different tale both dark and fantastic, I really enjoyed Ink--it was lovely, and worth reading!

Katie Greene has just moved to Japan. Lost in a completely different world after tragically losing her mother, she's just trying to tread water. But it all changes when she meets Tomohiro, a beautiful, aloof boy who can make strange things happen: pens explode, drawings move, and ink drips in out of nowhere. Reluctantly drawn to him and desperate to discover the truth, she soon finds herself thrust into a world of magic, danger, and ink--and she must decide where her loyalties lie.

What I enjoyed:
-The lush, gorgeous background of modern Japan, beautiful and almost like a fairy tale, so much different than other stories
-The dark, different premise of the novel, captivating, creative, and a lot of fun
-Katie, and her evolution throughout the novel from reluctant American to a heroine that all of Japan should be cheering for!
-Tomo, and his talent, different and cool--as well as the depth of him, despite outside appearances
-Yuki and Takana
-The pacing of the novel, completely breakneck and perfect--I couldn't see anything coming and it was all timed perfectly
-The ending--I can't wait for book two!

What I didn't enjoy:
-Tomo annoyed me at times, simply because the aloof hot boy is a dime a dozen these days

I really, really enjoyed Ink--I'm glad I went with my gut and bought it! Anyone looking for a dark paranormal with an interesting premise should snatch it up! Next on deck: Ashes on the Waves by Mary Lindsey!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Demonosity by Amanda Ashby Review

Title: Demonosity
Author: Amanda Ashby
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: N/A
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
The bottom line: A drop-dead, hilarious novel full of magic, demons, and crazy hijinks, I loved Demonosity--especially the fresh main character, Cassidy!

Cassidy Carter-Lewis finds herself in a real pickle. After getting a temporary tattoo, strange things begin happening to her: She's seeing ghosts, finding demons--and oh, a girl is glowing at her school and suddenly she must become a warrior. But soon as she struggles to protect those she loves, she finds herself at the face of a near impossible choice.

What I enjoyed:
-Cassidy, hilarious and fresh and fun--she made the novel worth reading for me, even when things got a little tired, and her evolution throughout the novel
-The pacing--it was breakneck and never slowed
-The premise of the novel, cool and different--I really enjoyed it, it's not like any other book I've read
-Nash was also a big selling point for this book for me--he was absolutely hilarious, even as he became a little pretentious
-Thomas--I really felt for him throughout the novel
-Cassidy's family
-The ending--it was perfect!

What I didn't enjoy:
-At times I found myself rolling my eyes at the teenagers--though Cassidy was anything but typical

I really, really liked this book! Anyone looking for a lighter take on the paranormal genre should pick it up. Next on deck: Ink by Amanda Sun!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Teardrop by Lauren Kate Review

Title: Teardrop
Author: Lauren Kate
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: Teardrop, book one
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
The bottom line: Though it took me a while to really get into this book, once it picked up, I really enjoyed it--I can't wait for the sequel!

Eureka Boudreax has an unusual thing about her: She never cries. Not ever. Her mother drilled that into her at the ripe age of nine, and she's kept her word ever since, despite all the reasons to: Her mother's mysterious death out of nowhere, her difficult family life, the fact that there's been a strange boy following her around. Her mother has left her three strange heirlooms: a book she can't read, a mysterious stone, and a locket that won't open. As Eureka digs deeper into her own past, she realizes that there just might be a reason to never cry..

What I enjoyed:
-The beginning of the novel, the prologue
-Cat, and her fierce loyalty to Eureka
-Eureka herself, a tender, sweet girl struggling under the weight of heavy grief
-The mysterious mythology of the novel, which I loved
-The ending--I can't wait for the sequel!
-The love triangle that formed throughout the novel
-Madame Blatvasky

What I didn't enjoy:
-At first Eureka annoyed me--she seemed so angry
-Brooks at times annoyed me as well, with his unusual behavior
-A bit at the ending was a little graphic and violent and it made my stomach turn
-It took a really long time for me to get into the novel

I really, really loved Teardrop and I'm glad I bought it! Anyone who's a fan of Lauren Kate should pick it up--and anyone looking for a different, unusual premise! Next on deck: Demonosity by Amanda Ashby!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Magnolia League by Katie Crouch Review

Title: The Magnolia League
Author: Katie Crouch
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: The Magnolia League, book one
Star Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
The bottom line: This novel promises a lot--magic! Hot boys! The South!--but fails to deliver. It was just okay--I only read it through so I could move on. Really disappointed with how this book turned out.

Alex isn't a typical Southern girl. Living on a commune in California for most of her life, she's happy where she is. Until her mother dies in a fatal car accident, and she's shipped off to Savannah, Georgia. All she can think about is leaving--but she soon finds herself sucked into a world of dangerous, tempting magic. But magic just so happens to be like crack--you can't get enough of it once you've had it, and when she discovers a terrifying secret about her heritage, she realizes that no one can be trusted.

What I enjoyed:
-I liked it at first
-The premise seemed really promising
-Hayes and Madison

What I didn't enjoy:
-Alex just seemed to whine the entire novel--there was no real depth to her
-The premise seemed really promising, but it took 205 pages for the ball to get rolling on any kind of plot
-There was no real character depth anywhere
-I felt like this book promised big things, but it just fell short
-I only finished it so I could move on to my next book

I really feel like The Magnolia League had a lot of potential, but it was just bad. Really disappointed that I spent my money on this one. Next on deck: Teardrop by Lauren Kate!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett Review (Possible Spoilers!)

Title: The Nightmare Affair
Author: Mindee Arnett
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy/Mystery
Series: Arkwell Academy, book one
Star Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
The bottom line: A hilarious, laugh out loud mystery, I enjoyed The Nightmare Affair, which was lighter than what I usually go for--but it was a great mystery that kept me on my toes.

Ever dream about being able to see people's dreams? Walk through them? If you have, you'll enjoy Dusty Everhart. She's a Nightmare--literally--needing to feed off of dreams in order to practice magic. As if this wasn't enough for a teenager girl, Dusty discovers that people are being murdered, with a macabre pattern--a hand is missing from each of the bodies. Determined to find the killer, she starts to investigate--and she realizes that there's always a suspect.. And you never quite know who it is until it's too late..

What I enjoyed:
-Dusty--she's what kept me hanging on in this book--hilarious, awkward, clumsy, and headstrong--I really enjoyed her as a narrator
-The complex system of magic that the author employs--magic not in plain sight, in different classes in an urban setting
-The mystery--I didn't see the ending coming--and this book really thrived as a mystery--I couldn't guess what was happening with all the twists and turns!
-The ending, openended and the sequel coming was obvious--I'm looking forward to seeing more of Dusty

What I didn't enjoy:
-At times Dusty's whining got on my nerves
-It was almost too light and cute for my tastes--I expected it to be darker
-I wish we'd gotten to see more of the social system of the classes of magickind
-I wish there was more to it

I liked The Nightmare Affair, but as a paranormal series, this just fell short for me for some reason--I'm a little disappointed, truthfully. Next on deck: Emma by Jane Austen!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Antigoddess by Kendare Blake Review

Title: Antigoddess
Author: Kendare Blake
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Horror
Series: The Goddess War, book one
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
The bottom line: A terrifying, action-packed thriller using mythology as its platform, Antigoddess completely swept me away--this new take on mythology will appeal to many readers!

Cassandra is a psychic--the psychic from the myth. But she doesn't know it yet. She also doesn't know that the ancient Greek gods are dying--yes, literally, dying--and killing one another off in a bloody war, creating carnage no one has seen since Troy, in a bid to prolong their own lives, driven mad by illness. Athena, Hermes, and a very reluctant Cassandra ally with Aidan, her boyfriend, to try and fight--but they might just be putting off the inevitable..

What I enjoyed:
-The evocative prose that is Blake's trademark, sucking me in from the very first page
 -The intriguing idea of the series itself--gods are popular these days, but you never see them like this! The novel was deliciously different
-The pacing, breakneck from the beginning, the prose moving quickly and smoothly from chapter to chapter
-The research Blake did in creating the characters of this gods, so much like the gods of the myths but with modern, unique spins
-Athena, and her desperation to win the war despite it not making her the most popular character--even I felt disgusted with her at some points
-Hermes, and the comic relief he brings to an otherwise heavy novel
-Hera, Aphrodite, and Poseidon
-Cassandra, both prophet from the stories and awkward teenage girl, a perfect, reluctant heroine
-The ending, and the open ended cliffhanger that promises sequels

What I didn't enjoy:
-Sometimes Athena's thickheadedness got on my nerves
-Hermes's bitching
-At times Aidan annoyed me, not seeing the bigger picture

I loved, loved, loved Antigoddess and I'm so glad I bought it! It's a freaky, beautiful horror story that fans of Blake--and Greek mythology--should check out! Next on deck: The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Some Quiet Place by Kelsey Sutton Review

Title: Some Quiet Place
Author: Kelsey Sutton
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: Some Quiet Place, book one
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
The bottom line: A beautiful, creepy thriller, Some Quiet Place swept me up entirely--an original, lovely debut that had me biting my nails! I loved it!

Elizabeth Caldwell sees emotions--literally. She sees the manifestations of Emotions--Longing next to the boy at school, Courage alongside her best friend dying--and of course, beautiful, lovely, enigmatic Fear, her only friend--capricious and mysterious, sometimes he torments her, other times he shows he wants more than she can give. When Elizabeth begins to feel a dark presence stalking her, she races to find the truth, before its consequences catch up to her.

What I enjoyed:
-The beautiful prose of the novel, poetic and perfect and lovely and creepy at some points
-The whole premise of the novel was really cool--literally every emotion and element personified--and most of all it was different
-The pacing of the novel--it was maddeningly quick throughout most of the novel
-Elizabeth, and her strangeness--despite it being disconcerting at first, it made sense later on
-The mystery that Elizabeth races to unravel throughout the novel--it kept me on my toes and I didn't see it coming
-Fear, who was my favorite character of the novel, complex and deep and frightening all at once--at times I had goosebumps on my arms!
-Joshua, and the way he befriends Elizabeth
-The villain of the story
-The slow, torturous way Elizabeth's origins were doled out

What I didn't enjoy:
-At times Elizabeth came across as really flat
-Sarah, especially with her willingness to stay in her situation
-Sometimes the violence in the novel was a little too much to handle for me--it was too graphic

I loved Some Quiet Place and I can't wait for the sequel in July! Anyone looking for a paranormal novel that's different should pick it up at their nearest bookstore or library. Next on deck: Antigoddess by Kendare Blake!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Unbreakable by Kami Garcia Review

Title: Unbreakable
Author: Kami Garcia
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Horror
Series: The Legion, book one
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
The bottom line: A frightening, taut horror novel that had my heart racing and my fingers anxiously turning pages, Unbreakable was wonderful, though the main character kind of bogged the novel down for me a little bit.

Kennedy Waters isn't the type to believe in the supernatural. She and her mom are happy and just fine with one another. But that all changes when Kennedy comes from from an outing to find the house dark--with her dead mother inside. Setting off a chain reaction, she meets a ragtag gang of misfits, all demon hunters--and she must discover how she belongs, before it's too late..

What I enjoyed:
-The pacing of the novel--it was amazing and I couldn't stop reading--there were thrills at every turn!
-Kennedy's wry narrative, most of the time, though her insecurities and her sadness made me want to scream at other parts
-Jared and Lukas
-The taut love triangle between Jared, Lukas, and Kennedy, fraught with tension throughout the whole book
-The mythology of the novel--a lot of the book itself reminded me of Supernatural
-The race against time throughout the novel--the ghosts the kids encounter especially shine

What I didn't enjoy:
-The ending!
-Kennedy got on my nerves often--I wish she were less whiny. She just wasn't too strong of a character for me, but that changed in the end

I loved Unbreakable! Fans of ghost stories and demon hunters should pick it up at the local bookstore or library. Next on deck: Some Quiet Place, by Kelsey Sutton!

The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa Review

Title: The Immortal Rules
Author: Julie Kagawa
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Horror/Dystopian Fiction
Series: The Blood of Eden, book one
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
The bottom line: A dark, thrilling dystopian ride, I loved The Immortal Rules--vampire books are a dime a dozen nowadays, but this book truly shines! Definitely a favorite for me!

Allison Sekemoto lives in New Covington, a city in which vampires rule human "cattle" with iron fists. She forages with her friends, orphaned and struggling for survival, driven by her hatred for the government and for vampires in general, as well as the Rabids--terrifying creatures that are like zombies, only with the craving of blood instead of human flesh. But one night Allie is viciously attacked. On the cusp of death, she chooses to become a vampire. And in doing so, she discovers what it truly means to be human.

What I enjoyed:
-The dark, tense world that Kagawa paints, thrilling and terrifying and truly scary, as well as depressing and hopeless throughout a good amount of the book
-The way that the author chose not to romanticize Allie's transformation, showing that vampires are not creatures of dark seduction
-Allie herself, and her narrative of the story, a girl truly skilled at survival, but trying to find a moral balance as well, even after turning--her whole evolution was truly amazing to see
-Kanin, Allie's sire and teacher and the father figure she's never had, teaching her how to survive in the human world
-Jeb's flock, although I didn't like Ruth
-The constant twists and turns that I never saw coming, even after reading this book once before in the previous year
-Jackal--I can't wait to see what happens with him and Allie in the sequel!
-The ending

What I didn't enjoy:
-At times the book felt a little bit too dark for me--I wished there were more humor, just to lighten up an otherwise heavy, dark novel

I loved The Immortal Rules--it is truly a gem for me! Anyone who loves vampire stories and strong heroines should pick it up from their local bookstore or library! Next on deck: Unbreakable by Kami Garcia!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Icons by Margaret Stohl Review

Title: Icons
Author: Margaret Stohl
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Science Fiction/Dystopian Fiction
Series: Icons, book one
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
The bottom line: A taut, unique, science fiction thriller, Icons had me frantically turning pages--I loved it! Easily a favorite of 2013!

Nothing has been the same for Dol since The Day: The Day her parents dropped dead in their home, The Day she started to feel the emotions of everyone around her. The Day The Lords invaded Earth and won a war Earth didn't even know it was fighting. She lives for the most part peacefully with The Padre, Ro, and the rest of the inhabitants--until the Sympa soldiers invade her home and take her away. Meeting two other people with mysterious powers, Tima and Lucas, Dol must make a terrifying choice: to fight, or to stay silent, because the consequences will be dire..

What I enjoyed:
-Dol's narrative, magnetic and real and raw, beautiful and taut
-The pacing of the novel, breakneck from the very beginning--there was action in every page!
-The terrifying world that Stohl paints, where to be human is to be in constant danger--literally
-Dol herself, sorrowful and sad and brave, despite her want to just stay silent at the beginning of the novel
-Ro, and his relationship with Dol, as well as his fiery personality--I really enjoyed him
-Lucas--he was one of my favorite characters and the one I related to the most
-Tima, angry and fearful but still strong
-The ending--it was amazing, perfect, and I didn't see it coming!
-I love the way the twists were incorporated--I was pleasantly blindsided by everything

What I didn't enjoy:
-The Colonel
-The Ambassador

I loved, loved, loved Icons--I can't wait for the sequel in July! Anyone looking for a good science fiction novel should snatch this gem up! Next on deck: The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas Review

Title: The Burning Sky
Author: Sherry Thomas
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: The Elemental Trilogy, book one
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
The bottom line: Though it took me a while to get into it, The Burning Sky is an engaging, magical fantasy that has something for everyone: an exciting premise, magical creatures. an impossible adventure, and a fiery, volatile couple--it was wonderful!

England, 1883. Magic is real, though the more ancient type--elemental--is fading due to the rise of subtle magic--magic practiced for convenience. Iolanthe Seabourne is the greatest elemental mage of the time, trying to stay under the radar and take care of her guardian, as well as honing her magical skill. But with one ill-conceived bolt of lightning, her life is shattered. Titus, the Ruler of the Domain, is desperate to have her power for himself to defeat the most powerful mage in the land--The Bane. But what will come of this uneasy partnership? Will our two heroes make it out unscathed..?

What I enjoyed:
-The complex magical system outlined the book, a little like Harry Potter, but uniquely different, and easily followed thanks to the helpful footnotes in the back of the novel
-The uneasy, frightening world of England, seen anew in Thomas's new world
-Once the book picked up the pacing was breakneck
-Iolanthe, and her role in the story--brave and clever and strong, but with a soft interior--I enjoyed her throughout the novel, especially as Fairfax
-Titus, and the way his arrogance and rage hid a boy easily hurt, despite everything
-The relationship between Titus and Iolanthe
-The shocking surprises around every corner
-The constant adventures Titus and Iolanthe find themselves in
-The ending

What I didn't enjoy:
-Sometimes the narrative was really hard to follow, as it jumped all over the place in some sections of the book
-The pacing stuttered a little at the beginning
-The Inquisitor
-Lady Callista
-Most of Titus's family and the court that surrounds him

I really, really enjoyed The Burning Sky--it was worth waiting for! Next on deck: Icons by Margaret Stohl!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson Review

Title: The Girl of Fire and Thorns
Author: Rae Carson
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: Fire and Thorns, book one
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
The bottom line: A start to an epic adventure trilogy, The Girl of Fire and Thorns took a while to keep my attention--but once it picked up, I loved it, especially the main character, Elisa!

Elisa has lived her whole life in her older sister's shadow--her whole life in the background. She is betrothed to a king on her sixteenth birthday, and she finds herself thrust into a dangerous world of magic, betrayal, and secrets. When she is suddenly displaced from the palace, Elisa discovers that she must find the depth of her own strength and power, despite her misgivings--or it could indeed be the end of her..

What I enjoyed:
-Elisa's narrative, as soon as it picked up
-The pacing was breakneck--so much so I was frantically turning pages trying to keep up!
-Elisa herself, in particular her character evolution throughout the novel from a meek, quiet little mouse to a warrior and truly badass heroine
-The many characters that Elisa encounters and later befriends, like Cosme and Humberto
-The huge, sprawling, magical world that Carson creates, almost like something out of a Tolkien novel
-The ending--I can't wait for the sequels!

What I didn't enjoy:
-Elisa in the beginning annoyed me--she was very whiny and it bothered me, but that changed once the book progressed

I loved this novel--not immediately, but I loved it! It was a wonderful treat of an adventure novel. Any fantasy fan should grab it at the library! Next on deck: The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Rags and Bones: New Twists on Timeless Tales edited by Melissa Marr and Tim Pratt Review

Title: Rags and Bones: New Twists on Timeless Tales
Editor(s): Melissa Marr and Tim Pratt
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Anthology; different genres
Series: N/A
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
The bottom line: A great collection for anyone looking for twists on classic, forgotten stories should pick up Rags and Bones--it is a treat for all ages!

This is an anthology, so I'm going to be reviewing this a little bit differently: Instead of reviewing the anthology as a whole, I'm going to review each story at a time. The theme is retellings, new twists on classic stories.

That the Machine May Progress Eternally by Carrie Ryan, inspired by E.M's Forster's "The Machine Stops": 5 out of 5 stars. A deliciously creepy, scary, dystopian story about a boy who ends up underground in the Machine, and ends up worshiping it as a god. Wonderful!

Losing Her Divinity by Garth Nix, inspired by Rudyard Kipling's "The Man Who Would Be King": 4 out of 5 stars. A darkly ironic, funny, wry story of a man's journey, finding a goddess and helping her turn into a mortal--and taking something for himself too. I loved it, every part of it, especially the narrator! It was great!

The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman, inspired by "Sleeping Beauty": 5 out of 5 stars. A new, dark twist on the traditional fairy tale, this uniquely layered tale was a spectacular homage to the original, done with Gaiman's signature flair! Amazing!

The Cold Corner by Tim Pratt, inspired by Henry James's "The Jolly Corner: 3 out of 5 stars. A strange tale that made my head hurt at first trying to follow it of a man who is seeing ghosts of his pasts--literally. It was a fun, time-bending tale I enjoyed once I got my head around it.

Millcara by Holly Black, inspired by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu's "Carmilla": 4 out of 5 stars. A sweet, tender tale of dark friendship between a vampire and a young girl, written as a confessional. Sad and heartbreaking and beautiful. This one made me cry!

When First We Were Gods by Rick Yancey, inspired by Nathaniel Hawthrone's "The Birth-Mark": 3 out of 5 stars. A seriously twisted, crazy story of a terrifying future in which the rich can live forever--quite literally--and a couple whose love is tested by such boundaries. It was confusing throughout the story, but Beneficent and Georgiana's love story made it bearable.

Sirocco by Margaret Stohl, inspired by Horace Walpole's "The Castle of Otranto": 3 out of 5 stars. A little confusing at first, but a genuinely creepy, spooky story that had chills running up and down my spine! It reminded me of her Beautiful Creatures series a little bit.

Awakening by Melissa Marr, inspired by Kate Chopin's "The Awakening": 5 out of 5 stars. Possibly my favorite of the whole collection, this story rings true to its forebear, with a magical component mixed in: selkies! Dark and gritty and romantic, I loved this story of a young woman's freedom--it was beautiful!

New Chicago by Kelley Armstrong, inspired by W.W. Jacobs's "The Monkey's Paw": 4 out of 5 stars. A fitting homage to the original horror story, Armstrong tells a spooky, frightening tale of a poor, desperate boy who makes three wishes.. Three wishes that could cost him his life. Wonderfully thrilling and scary!

The Soul Collector by Kami Garcia, inspired by The Brothers' Grimm's "Rumpelstiltskin": 5 out of 5 stars. A gruesome tale of a young woman trapped in terrifying circumstances, she turns to a stranger for help--and ends up paying the ultimate price. Gritty, gory, and wonderful--a great modern spin on a well-loved fairy tale!

Without Faith, Without Law, Without Joy by Saladin Ahmed, inspired by Sir Edmund Spenser's "The Faerie Queene": 2 out of 5 stars. This story was really confusing to me--it was kind of hard to follow, though the ending was good. I didn't like it very much until the end.

Uncaged by Gene Wolfe, inspired by William B. Seabrook's "The Caged White Werewolf of the Saraban": 4 out of 5 stars. A creepy, delicious, sensual story of a man who may or may not be married to a leopard-woman who seems to be going on a killing spree.. This was a great thrill ride for me!

Charles Vess's illustrations also added great depth and an old-school feel to the collection--for such illustrations to be included was a lovely treat in and of itself. An amazing, lovely collection for everyone of all ages to enjoy, I'm so glad I bought Rags and Bones! Next on deck: The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Sweet Peril by Wendy Higgins Review

Title: Sweet Peril
Author: Wendy Higgins
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: Sweet Evil, book two
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
The bottom line: Though not as good as its predecessor, Sweet Peril was a worthy sequel to Sweet Evil--it kept me on the edge of my seat!

I won this book on Goodreads in a first reads giveaway. Anna Whitt promised herself that she wouldn't corrupt souls, wouldn't do her father's work. But she'd been naive. Her survival instinct kicking in, Anna does whatever she has to to stay alive and under the radar--even if her morals happen to be torn to shreds. But soon a secret resurfaces, and she finds herself on a trip around the world with her fellow Neph, Kopano, to try and recruit for the coming conflict. Meanwhile, she tries to deal with her intense attraction--and love--for Kaidan--and she soon realizes that not even love may even be worth risking life and limb for.

What I enjoyed:
-The pacing of the novel was breakneck--I finished the book in a matter of hours
-Anna, and her change from sweet, innocent girl to a young woman with a kick-ass survival instinct, all the way to the end of the novel, but in love she retains her softness
-The epic quest that Anna and Kopano undertake, and I can't wait to see how the sequel turns out
-Kaidan, and his complicated relationship with Anna that at times made me want to scream
-The Neph that we meet along the way--particularly Zania and Flynn
-Anna's narrative
-The crazy tension between Anna, Kopano, and Kaidan
-The ending
-Kopano, Blake, Marna and Ginger, and the way they all seem to be like a quirky little family to Anna
-The promise of a sequel

What I didn't enjoy:
-At times both Kaidan and Anna made me want to scream, I was so frustrated

I really liked Sweet Peril--it was great, and I can't wait for the final book! Thanks Goodreads! Next on deck: The Book of Madness and Cures by Regina O'Melveny!

Sweet Evil by Wendy Higgins Review

Title: Sweet Evil
Author: Wendy Higgins
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: Sweet Evil, book one
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
The bottom line: The start of an original new series, Sweet Evil had me entirely captivated--with romance, danger, a crush-worthy antihero and an innocent main character, this book has something for everyone.
This review is spoiler free!

Anna Whitt isn't like normal girls. She can see people's emotions. She isn't sure why; she's had that ability all her life. Along with many other differences, Anna doesn't realize what they mean until she meets the dangerous, alluring Kaiden Rowe: she is the offspring of a demon and a fallen angel. Forced to accept her heritage, Anna discovers that the world she must navigate is dangerous and frightening, and death may not be far behind. Add to this an intense attraction to Kaidan, and well.. What's a girl to do?

What I enjoyed:
-The compelling, complex yet innocent and sweet narration, provided by Anna--I couldn't put it down!
-Anna herself, sweet and innocent and yet capable of doing so much--I can't wait to see how she grows in the series
-The complex, intense world of the Neph and the Dukes of Sin--the mythology of this was cool and different and I had no problem understanding it
-Kaiden, and his bad-boy attitude, all hiding the soft heart underneath--Kaiden was one of the best selling points of this novel for me
-Kopano, Blake, Ginger, and Marna, all struggling to survive but with very real personalities of their own
-The ending and the way it promises more, and how it got deep under my skin--I can't wait for Sweet Peril!
-Jay and Veronica

What I didn't enjoy:
-At times Ginger had me rolling my eyes, taking the bitch thing a little far, but I enjoyed her nonetheless

I really, really enjoyed Sweet Evil! It was a great book, one of my favorites of 2012 easily. Next on deck: Sweet Peril by Wendy Higgins!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Under the Light by Laura Whitcomb Review

Title: Under the Light
Author: Laura Whitcomb
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy/Romance
Series: Light, book two
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
The bottom line: The enthralling companion novel to A Certain Slant of Light, I adored its sequel--just as beautiful and deep as its predecessor, it was a rare, lovely treat to read!

I won this book on a giveaway from Goodreads. Thanks! Jenny and Billy are the focus of this companion novel. Still reeling from the aftermath of what happened only six days before, the two find that both of them have alarming memory gaps. As they struggle to make sense of what happened to them, Helen realizes that she has done a wicked thing and stays by Jenny's side as the girl struggles. This sweet, awkward couple grows together slowly.. Even as outside forces threaten to tear them apart.

What I enjoyed:
-The fact that the author was kind enough to write a novel about the characters that took a backseat in the previous novel
-The hypnotizing narrative, beautiful and tender and sad, from both Jenny and Helen's point of view
-Jenny herself, who becomes a character of surprising strength and depth that you don't see right away--she was a great heroine
-Billy, and his connection to her, as well as his struggle to be himself and be what he considers a good person--he had amazing depth as well!
-Helen's role in the story, and the way she struggles with her maternal instinct toward Jenny, partially because of her own daughter
-The dream world that Jenny and Billy inhabit through some of the novel
-The ending--it was absolutely perfect
-Everything was tied up so perfectly, lovingly--I really enjoyed that Whitcomb has such respect for her characters--and her readers
-Almost everything about this novel was perfect--I loved it so much and it even made me cry in places

What I didn't enjoy:
-Most of the church ladies
-Cathy at times really bothered me--she was selfish, flat, and self-centered throughout most of the story

I loved Under the Light. It was amazing. Thanks, Goodreads, and thank you, Miss Whitcomb! Next on deck: Sweet Evil by Wendy Higgins!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb Review

Title: A Certain Slant of Light
Author: Laura Whitcomb
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy/Romance
Series: Light, book one
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
The bottom line: Romantic, deeply moving, haunting and beautiful, A Certain Slant of Light is simply one of my favorite books if all time--an amazing triumph!

I won this book in a giveaway here on Goodreads. Helen has been benignly haunting a teacher for over a hundred years. Unable to be seen, heard, or touched, she is content with her quiet, voyeuristic life, even if it isn't the same as being alive. Until a boy can see her. Thus forms a quick, almost desperate infatuation that turns into love--James is everything Helen wishes she had and more. But soon Helen is brought to her limit in every way, and it all comes down to one huge question: What will she be willing to risk for contact, and for love?

What I enjoyed:
-The beautiful, sweet narrative that read to me more like a long poem than prose--I drank it all in like water
-The pacing--slow and leisurely at some points but breakneck in others
-Helen, and her narration, as well as her flawed, but still lovable character--her love of literature and life especially drew me to her
-The cast of characters that Helen so greatly loves (Cathy, The Knight, The Saint, The Poet--especially Mr. Brown)
-James, and his whirlwind courtship with Helen
-Jenny--she was a very fragile character for me
-The dilemma and the ending

What I didn't enjoy:
-Many of the church women (talk of their religion brought back bad memories for me)

I loved A Certain Slant of Light! A romantic, tender ghost story observing the human condition--I simply loved this novel and will treasure it forever! Next on deck: Under The Light by Laura Whitcomb! 

Rapture by Lauren Kate Review

Title: Rapture
Author: Lauren Kate
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy/Romance
Series: Fallen, book four
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
The bottom line: The fourth and final book in the bestselling Fallen series, Rapture completely captivated me--a full and satisfying end to an amazing series! I loved it!

Luce is back. Returned from a tumultuous journey through the Announcers--and more lives than she can count, as well as reeling from a shocking, terrifying betrayal--Luce now realizes that everything--her life, her world, her relationship with Daniel--hinges on her unlocking the secrets to her past. But even worse than this, Luce may not exactly like what she finds.. And her past may not lead to Daniel after all!

What I enjoyed:
-The pacing of the novel, which was breakneck and perfect, but not too quick for me
-The narrative of the novel, drawing me in completely
-The mysteries that abound throughout the novel, unlocked at a perfect pace and kept me frantically turning pages, until the final one that had me crying my eyes out
-The ending--it was perfect!
-This book was the greatest of them all, and possibly my favorite, especially with how everything turned out
-The enjoyable cast of characters, sticking with Luce throughout the series, as well as the new ones in the novel
-Daniel, and his complex relationship with Luce, all brought to a head near the end of the book

What I didn't enjoy:
-There was nothing I didn't love about the last novel in this series--it was the perfect way to wrap things up! The only thing I'm sad about was that it ended at all! Brava!

I loved Rapture, and the entire Fallen series as a whole--beautiful! A great angel series! Next on deck: A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb!