Friday, January 31, 2014

Doon by Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon Review

Title: Doon
Author(s): Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy/Romance
Series: Doon, book one
Star Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
The bottom line: A romantic fairy tale for young adults, Doon was a good book, despite some flaws--I enjoyed it.

This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Veronica and Mackenna are best friends, and they go to Scotland for summer vacation after a rough school year, particularly for Veronica. When the girls find two rings and a mysterious journal from Mackenna's aunt, the girls find a portal to a fairy tale world called Doon. Everything seems perfect--at least on the surface. But below the glossy veneer, a ring of darkness encircles their dream world.. And only they can save it.

What I enjoyed:
-I loved the premise of this book--it read like a modern fairy tale--stepping into another world--it pleasantly reminded me of all those adventure stories I was addicted to as a child
-Veronica and Mackenna--two girls who seemed a little boy crazy at first, but were each sympathetic to me as the novel went on
-Jamie and Duncan, two boys straight out of dreams but very real, both with real appeal--I don't know which one I liked better!
-The worldbuilding was wonderful and made perfect sense--it wasn't hard to follow at all
-The pacing was good--I couldn't put it down!
-I liked the ending, how it provided closure and a cliffhanger all at once

What could've been better:
-The dialogue was a little too simple to me unfortunately
-At times I found myself rolling my eyes at Jamie's antics
-At times it also seemed as though the girls were obsessed over their love interests

I enjoyed Doon--it was a good book! Next on deck: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

Title: The Thirteenth Tale
Author: Diane Setterfield
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Gothic Fiction
Series: N/A
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
The bottom line: A beautiful, gothic ode to reading and books, as well as a mystery, love story, and family drama, The Thirteenth Tale snatched me up and didn't let go--a favorite of the new year!

Margaret Lea is a biographer. One day while working in her father's shop, she gets a mysterious letter from a reclusive author, inviting her out to her home to take her biography. With some reluctance and nervous, Margaret agrees--and she and Vida Winters both fact the pasts they've kept hidden, all the while discovering some secrets that may have been better off buried..

What I enjoyed:
-The gorgeous prose that snatched me up and held me by the throat from the first paragraph
-Margaret, and her fierce love for her books, though she is trying to live a life apart of them, and her strength--I loved the character development that was seen throughout the novel with her
-Vida, and her sharp contrasts throughout the novel between bitter old woman and a lost girl trying to deal with the ghosts of her past
-Aurelius, sweet Aurelius, who wants nothing more than a family
-The interweaving stories of both past and present
-The ending--I loved the way everything tied together
-The creepy, gothic feel of the novel, lovingly evoking feelings of Jane Eyre and Rebecca
-The genre-bending of the novel

What I didn't like:
-There was nothing I didn't love about this book! Wonderful! Next on deck: Pirates!, by Celia Rees!

How Books Saved My Life.

I don’t talk about this kind of thing very often, but I just wanted all my followers to know.
As a child, I grew up in an abusive home. I suffered mental, physical, and emotional abuse at the hands of my mother and siblings, and I’m still suffering for it now, believe it or not. I used to be athletic when I was a child—I loved sports, especially basketball, running, and swimming. Countless times I begged my mom for a chance to try. But she’s always been very overprotective, and as a result, I got turned to books.
I never had to ask for books. We always had plenty of them and our local library was right around the corner, so I could always walk if my mom didn’t want to take me. At first it became a crutch, a way to escape when I was told no or when I was being picked on. But then I fell in love with it. Harry Potter was the huge part of why I loved reading—and still do, now—and what made my home life bearable. To this day, I try to read the whole series once a year. I grew up with Harry, and with Harry came other doors in my childhood: classics, mysteries, fantasies.
Now I realize that I may do it a lot, but now I don’t need to use it as a crutch anymore. I read less now than I do in my entire life, now that I have my husband, best friend, and the rest of my family. I can honestly sit here and tell you all that if I hadn’t had my books when I was younger?  I may have hurt myself or someone else, and it made me love reading, and writing, and my goal now is to become a writer and have other people read my stories, so I can provide comfort to those in need.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Another Faust by Daniel and Dina Nayeri Review

Title: Another Faust
Author: Daniel and Dina Nayeri
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: Another, book one
Star Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
The bottom line: A clever, witty retelling of the Faustian bargain story, Another Faust was fun--a great spin on a classic for teens, though at times the dialogue got a little repetitive.

Belle, Bice, Valentin, Christian, and Victoria--five children taken five years ago from their beds. all different kids with different desires. What unites them is the mysterious Madam Vileroy, a beautiful governess who seems to know more than she's telling.. Gifted with seemingly simple abilities, all of the teens focus on getting what they want, even if it means, quite literally, selling their soul..

What I enjoyed:
-The very idea of the novel--Faustian bargains in high school, of all places--it was a great twist on a classic
-The scary, but compelling Madam Vileroy
-Each of the teenagers, all chasing their individual obsessions, yet incredibly three-dimensional--I could really relate to them all in their drastic bargains
-The pacing of the novel--I was frantically turning pages
-The mystery that is solved at the end
-The ending

What I didn't enjoy:
-At times the teens' dialogue seemed to get repetitive
-I would've liked to know more about some of the characters, especially Vileroy

I liked Another Faust--it was an entertaining read. Next on deck: Another Pan by Daniel and Dina Nayeri!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Endless Knight by Kresley Cole Review

Title: Endless Knight
Author: Kresley Cole
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy/Horror
Series: The Arcana Chronicles, book two
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
The bottom line: Even better than Poison Princess, Endless Knight had me completely riveted--with even more twists and turns, romance, and action--but it was Evie who made this book shine! I can't wait until the last in the trilogy!

Beginning where Poison Princess left off, Evie is left to deal with the aftermath--learning to control her powers, trying to get Jack to understand her, and struggling to survive. Spiraling and on the run with Jack, Matthew, Selena, and Finn, she is still haunted by voices of the other Arcana, all wanting to kill each other and face off against Death--who seems to seriously hate her, for reasons she doesn't remember. But strangely, she is drawn to him, despite it, and that attraction just might be the death of her..

What I enjoyed:
-Evie--she was a lot more grown up this time around and her character development was satisfying--I liked her a lot more than in the previous volume
-Jack, and his fear of Evie and her powers, despite his obvious love for her
-All of the Arcana encountered in this volume were really very interesting
-Death, the mercurial man who grows to desire Evie and more
 -The ending

What I didn't enjoy:
-There was very little I didn't enjoy about this novel, but there were flaws
-I wish that Selena, Finn and Lark had developed a little bit more
-I can't wait for the last book!

I really, really enjoyed Endless Knight--I can't wait for the final book! Next on deck: Legacy by Cayla Kluver!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Poison Princess by Kresley Cole Review

Title: Poison Princess
Author: Kresley Cole
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy/Horror
Series: The Arcana Chronicles, book one
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
The bottom line: Despite some flaws, Poison Princess was a great thrill ride--I enjoyed it. Worth waiting for!

Evie Greene's world has turned upside down. Lakes have dried up, freak storms spring up out of nowhere, and people are eating one another--literally. Stuck in a world that is falling apart, she reaches out to a classmate--brooding, sexy, unreadable Jack Deveaux--for help. Journeying across the broken country, the two encounter other kids with mind-blowing powers, and Evie must discover the key to her powers, for in the coming war, it isn't clear who is on which side..

What I enjoyed:
-The mythology of the novel, so unlike other fantasies and perfectly believable
-Evie, and her slow evolution from spoiled princess to heroine
-The pacing of the novel--it was breakneck
-The dark, atmospheric world in which Evie and the others live
-The ending--I can't wait to see what happens!

What I didn't enjoy:
-Selena--she was an icy bitch, and totally rude to Evie
-Jack--he was very hot and cold and just an asshole--I didn't like him very much and I hope that he gets better
-Evie got on my nerves now and then with her constant obsession over Jack

I really enjoyed Poison Princess--it was wonderful, despite its flaws. Next on deck: Endless Knight by Kresley Cole!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Elphame's Choice by P.C. Cast Review

Title: Elphame's Choice
Author: P.C. Cast
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: Partholon, book four--first young adult in the series
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
The bottom line: A fun, different novel, I really enjoyed Elphame's Choice, despite there being a few flaws--it was a great fantasy novel anyway.

Elphame is a young woman unique in Partholon, a community of centaurs--she is part centaur, part human, part goddess. Revered and set apart by most people, she is frustrated--just wanting to be treated like a normal person. But when you're blessed by a Goddess.. People tend to notice! But when she goes to restore an old castle, her life changes forever. Not only does she find her purpose, but she finds love. Love that just may cost her everything she holds dear..

What I enjoyed:
-The rich world of Partholon, expansive and magical and full of danger
-Elphame, the strong heroine throughout the novel, and her evolution from sheltered teenager to mature young woman
-Lochlan, and his romance with Elphame, as well as his determination to save his people, battling with his urge to be with his goddess
-Cuchulainn, and his devotion to his sister--all of Elphame's family delighted me
-Brighid--I'm looking forward to more of her in the next young adult novel of this series
-The romance between Elphame and Lochlan that was a huge focus of the story
-The ending

What I didn't enjoy:
-At times Elphame was hard to picture
-I felt at times that the romance in the novel wasn't developed enough and moved too quickly for my taste

I really enjoyed Elphame's Choice--it wasn't a bad read. Next on deck: Poison Princess by Kresley Cole!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore Review

Title: Bitterblue
Author: Kristin Cashore
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: The Graceling Realm, book three
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
The bottom line: The final installment in the Graceling Realm novels, Bitterblue is possibly the best of the trilogy, with everything a reader could possibly want: a great heroine, a nail-biting mystery, and a heartwarming romance--I loved it!

Bitterblue is now eighteen, after becoming queen of Monsea at a tender seven years old. Her advisers keep her ignorant of political issues, and she is beginning to suspect that the legacy her father left behind--full of death, blood, and darkness--has more repercussions than even she foresees. Driven by the urge to be a true queen and help her people, she starts digging for answers, and when she does, she doesn't exactly like what she finds..

What I enjoyed:
-Cashore's style of writing, big and epic and at the same time somehow intimate and tender
-The pacing of the novel, breakneck in some places and slower in others, creating a good rhythm
-Bitterblue herself, and her evolution from ignorant young woman to true queen--to watch her grow was an amazing thing
-The legacy that Bitterblue digs into, horrifying and terrible but necessary to know to help her people
-The huge, sprawling mystery that came with uncovering that legacy, perfectly executed--I was madly turning pages!
-The characters that the reader meets throughout the novel--far too many to name--but especially Saf and Teddy
-The cameos of previous characters, such as Katsa and Po and Giddon
-The constant surprises of the novel that had me alternately screaming and crying

What I didn't enjoy:
-There was nothing I didn't love about Bitterblue--it was an absolute triumph, a treasure of a book that I will cherish forever!

I loved all of the Graceling Realm novels, but Bitterblue shines as its true star! Wonderful, a favorite of the year! Next on deck: Precious Blood by Tonya Hurley!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Angel Burn by L.A. Weatherly Review

Title: Angel Burn
Author: L.A. Weatherly
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: Angel, book one
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
The bottom line: A great twist on a tired focus--angels--Angel Burn completely swept me away--an amazing read, and a favorite of the new year!

Angels live among humans. Beautiful, benevolent beings with the power to heal with a single touch, people clamor for their blessing. But no one knows the truth: angels are predators, feeding off of humans to live, and in doing so, spreading disease, cancer. Among all this lives Willow Fields, a girl who has had psychic powers--she's had them all her life. But when the gorgeous assassin Alex arrives to kill her for her origins, her life shatters. Thrust into a world of danger, she's on the run--and along the way must find the strength to do the impossible, and maybe, just maybe, fall in love..

What I enjoyed:
-The pacing was wonderful--breakneck and smooth, and I liked the way the action was tempered by friendship, and later, romance
-Willow, an amazing heroine, and a great main character--her evolution throughout the novel was an amazing thing to see
-Alex, and his attraction to Willow, at war with his instincts to annihilate the evil angelic forces that have taken residence on the earth, and eventually, their relationship that comes of it
-The brave, cool new twist that Weatherly uses as a clever selling point--evil angels!--it was new and different and really innovative
-The ending
-The twists and turns that were artfully executed throughout the novel
-The cast of characters that we meet throughout the novel--especially Nina, Beth, and the angels
-I can't wait for the sequel!

What I didn't enjoy:
 -There was nothing I didn't love about this novel--it has something for everyone!

I loved, loved, loved Angel Burn--easily a favorite of all time! Next on deck: Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel Review

Title: Dearly, Departed
Author: Lia Habel
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Horror/Steampunk
Series: Gone With The Respiration, book one
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
The bottom line: A dark, hilarious novel that cleverly combines steampunk elements with the horror of the living dead, Dearly, Departed was great--though at times the narrative was a tad hard to follow, and the pacing didn't keep.

Nora Dearly is a woman of the future. New Victoria isn't perfect, but hey, it's the time she lives in. Still mourning the death of her father, she also must contend with her social-climbing horror of an aunt trying to sell her off to the highest bidder. But soon she's spirited away from her home by zombies--and soon finds that nothing is as it seems. Fighting for her life, she finds friendship, and love, which is all good and well.. But she might not live to reap their benefits..

What I enjoyed:
-The frightening, but stifling, atmosphere Habel paints, claustrophobic and repressed but still kind of beautiful
-Nora--she is one of my favorite heroines ever--so brave and kind and loving and stubborn
-Bram, and his growing relationship with Nora
-I really enjoyed how the romance progressed--the pacing of it was perfect for me
-The quirky cast of characters the reader is introduced to, living and dead, and all likable, and undeniably human--especially Bram, Renfield, Coalhouse, Chas, and Tom
-The multiple points of view gave depth to the novel--luckily the plot was easy to follow, so I didn't get confused too often
-The twists and turns that had me frantically turning pages
-The horror scenes were straight out of a Romero flick, spine-tingling and scream-worthy--I was practically biting my nails
-The ending

What I didn't enjoy:
-The pacing stuttered a lot at the beginning--I almost didn't get into it because it faltered so much
-The multiple narratives at time were confusing

I really, really, liked Dearly, Departed--and I'm picky about my zombie novels! Anyone who wants a good horror story, a good romance, or just a dark, hilarious novel should snatch it up! Next on deck: Angel Burn by L.A. Weatherly!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The Beautiful and the Cursed by Page Morgan Review

Title: The Beautiful and the Cursed
Author: Page Morgan
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: The Dispossessed, book one
Star Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
The bottom line: I loved the idea of this novel--gargoyles!--but something about it just fell flat to me. Though I finished it, it was just okay--I'm hoping that the sequel is better.

Ingrid and Gabby Waverly have just moved from London to Paris on the heel of an unfortunate, unusual accident. But when they get to Paris, and their brother, Grayson, they find an old, crumbling abbey, and their brother gone. Desperate to find him, the girls are thrust into a dangerous world of darkness, malicious intent, and frightening creatures--as well as love, passion, and lust.

What I enjoyed:
-The concept of the novel--gargoyles able to shift into human form--it was a novel idea, but it wasn't executed too well
-Ingrid, and her bravery and her determination to find her twin
-The love triangle between Ingrid, Vander, and Luc
-Luc himself, a tortured gargoyle who hates his duty until Ingrid
-Gabby, and the way she was a main character too

What I didn't enjoy:
-The mythology was strange and oddly far-fetched, and in my opinion not enough was explained
-Several of the characters seemed flat and one dimensional to me, particularly those of the Alliance
-The ending really fell flat
-I would've liked to know more about Grayson, particularly about his past

This book was okay, but it didn't live up to my expectations. I'm hoping that the sequel is better. Next on deck: Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel!