Monday, January 31, 2011

The Treasure Map of Boys by E. Lockhart

The Treasure Map of Boys by E. Lockhart
Release Date:  July 28, 2009
Publisher:  Delacorte

Ruby is back at Tate Prep, and it’s her thirty-seventh week in the state of Noboyfriend. Her panic attacks are bad, her love life is even worse, and what’s more: Noel is writing her notes, Jackson is giving her frogs, Gideon is helping her cook, and Finn is making her brownies. Rumors are flying, and Ruby’s already-sucky reputation is heading downhill.

Not only that, she’s also: running a bake sale, learning the secrets of heavymetal therapy, encountering some seriously smelly feet, defending the rights of pygmy goats, and body-guarding Noel from unwanted advances.

In this companion novel to The Boyfriend List and The Boy Book, Ruby struggles to secure some sort of mental health, to understand what constitutes a real friendship, and to find true love—if such a thing exists. - Goodreads.com


This is part 2 of a 3 review series of E. Lockhart's "Boyfriend" book series about Ruby "Roo" Oliver.  You can view my initial review of The Boyfriend List, and part 1 of this review series on The Boy Book, the sequel.  This third installment of the series has Roo learning how to make new friends now that her old ones have abandoned her.  Boys are coming out of the woodwork to distract her and she's trying to figure out which ones really matter, and which ones she should forget.

During the course of this story, this girl awakens to even more nuances of her own personality and the origins of her panic attacks.  She learns more about what makes a true friend, and what makes a guy worthy of being a "boyfriend."  As with the last two books, Ruby learns a little bit more about herself and what makes her tick, and she grows a little further, yet again.  I seriously love watching the slow progression that E. Lockhart moves her through toward the final conclusion.

The additions of Meghan into the mix is a welcome one.  Although Meghan has been there throughout, Roo begins to really see Meghan for what she truly is...a good friend.  It is nice to see Ruby having some people to turn to a little bit in the absence of her longtime friends who have deserted her.

This one, thus far, is my favorite of the three I had read.  Although the series continues to get even better as each book goes along, I loved seeing Ruby begin to make some real progress here.  You can see some rewards for her efforts beginning to line up for her, and this was awesome.  You so badly wanted Ruby to catch a break at this point.

I love this series and couldn't wait to read book four.  Look for the last installment review of the Ruby Oliver series coming up next!

If you liked this book, you might also like:

Sunday, January 30, 2011

In My Mailbox (4)

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren.  I had a few cool additions this week, both purchased, and in galleys from NetGalley.com.

Purchased:

I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore
Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
Jane by April Lindner
Reaper by Rachel Vincent
Unearthly by Cynthia Hand


NetGalley:



Leave a comment and let me know what you received in your mailbox this week!


Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Boy Book by E. Lockhart

The Boy Book by E. Lockhart
Release Date: September 26th, 2006
Publisher:  Delacorte Books

Here is how things stand at the beginning of newly-licensed driver Ruby Oliver's junior year at Tate Prep: Kim: Not speaking. But far away in Tokyo.  Cricket: Not speaking. Nora: Speaking--sort of. Chatted a couple times this summer when they bumped into each other outside of school--once shopping in the U District, and once in the Elliot Bay Bookstore. But she hadn't called Ruby, or anything.  Noel: Didn't care what anyone thinks.  Meghan: Didn't have any other friends.  Dr. Z: Speaking.  And Jackson. The big one. Not speaking. But, by Winter Break, a new job, an unlikely but satisfying friend combo, additional entries to The Boy Book and many difficult decisions help Ruby to see that there is, indeed, life outside the Tate Universe. - Goodreads.com

This is part 1 of a 3 part review series on E. Lockhart's Ruby Oliver books.  See my previous review of the first book in the series at The Boyfriend List.  I didn't review them all together because I have to admit these books are so funny that I usually have waited until I'm having a bad day to read the next one because I know it will cheer me up.

In this second installment, The Boy Book, Ruby "Roo" Oliver is still seeing Doctor Z for her panic attacks and generally still trying to make sense of her life after the big Jackson breakup and the subsequent loss of all her friends.  And being known as a "famous slut."

Roo stays true to her character, funny and irreverent about life and her own circumstances.  I absolutely adore this character and am actually really sad to have finally read the last book, as I know that means the end of my awesome escapism into her hysterical life.

In The Boyfriend List, Doctor Z had Roo create a "boyfriend list" that detailed each guy that was significant in her life.  In this book, Ruby draws information from The Boy Book, which is more like a rules for the road for girls to read about boys.  Her insights in this book are an absolute riot.  I love watching Roo grow even more in this book, as she had already come so far in the last book.

Does she end up with a boyfriend in the end of The Boy Book?  Can't tell you.  It might ruin the other stories.  Suffice it to say, boyfriend or no boyfriend, this book is not to be missed.  If you have read any of Ruby's books, you have to read them all. 

Excellent sequel!  I would say I can't wait for the third book but...I have already read it.  Be looking for the next review: Book 3 of the Ruby series: The Treasure Map of Boys.

Friday, January 28, 2011

First Blog Hop Friday!

Blog Hop is a weekly meme hosted by Crazy For Books. Answer the weekly question and then, Friday through Monday, hop to see what other blogs are saying.  This is a great way to meet new friends and blogs!

This week's Blog Hop question came from Aliyah at Des Absurdites.
 
 "What book are you most looking forward to seeing published in 2011?  Why are you anticipating that book?"
 
My answer is:
 
Ripple by Mandy Hubbard
Release Date: July 21st, 2011

Lexi is cursed with a dark secret. The water calls to her, draws her in, forces her to sing her deadly song to unsuspecting victims. If she succumbs, she kills. If she doesn’t, the pain is unbearable. To keep herself and those she cares about safe, she shuts herself off, refusing to make friends or fall in love—again. Because the last time she fell in love with a boy, he ended up dead.

Then Lexi meets Cole. Against her better judgment, she finds herself opening up again, falling in love when she knows she shouldn’t. But when she’s offered the chance to finally live a normal life, she learns that the price she must pay to be free of her curse is giving him up.

In Ripple, Mandy Hubbard spins a sea-ravaged tale of melancholy beauty, and the choices one girl makes between land and waves, love and freedom, her future—and her heart. - Goodreads.com

 
Why this story?  I love the idea of a modern story using the Greek siren mythology.  I'm a sucker for Greek myth stories.  And that they fall in love.  I'm also a sucker for a good romance.  What can I say?
 
What are YOU looking forward to?
 

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Jane by April Lindner

Jane by April Lindner
Release Date: October 11, 2010
Publisher: Poppy

Forced to drop out of an esteemed East Coast college after the sudden death of her parents, Jane Moore takes a nanny job at Thornfield Park, the estate of Nico Rathburn, an iconic rock star on the brink of a huge comeback. Practical and independent, Jane reluctantly becomes entranced by her magnetic and brooding employer, and finds herself in the midst of a forbidden romance. But there's a mystery at Thornfield, and Jane's much-envied relationship with Nico is tested by a torturous secret from his past.

Part irresistible romance and part darkly engrossing mystery, this contemporary retelling of the beloved classic Jane Eyre promises to enchant a new generation of readers. - Goodreads.com


And enchant me it did.  This was a wonderful book.  So much of the time, I check out a re-telling of an old story and find that although it was good, the author brought nothing new to the story.  Most re-tellings are duplicates of the original with, perhaps, different character names.  The plots are too predictable because of this and you could almost recite it as long as you know the new character's names and the new setting.  I read one recently that was like that.  April Lindner did something here with Jane that is so much better!  She created an entirely new story out of an old one.

I don't mean to say she didn't stay true to the original Jane Eyre, because she did.  But she also made this into her story, unique and new.  It follows the original plot perfectly, and even shares some dialogue with the original, but it doesn't sound or feel like a copy of the original.  She handled this so skillfully that I found myself falling in love with "Jane Eyre" all over again.  The author stated in her book cover that Jane Eyre was a favorite of hers, and it showed.

I was worried at first that Jane would turn out to be a mousy character, since this Jane has a modern setting, while the old one had an older setting where women were more subjugated in society.  I was worried how this would translate into a modern version, but Jane was perfectly handled.  Yes, she starts out rather beaten down by life and circumstances, but she has a core of strength that is nurtured throughout the story.  It was awesome to watch.

Nico Rathburn was also a worthy nod toward the original Mr. Rochester.  He could be harsh at times, in the beginning, but Jane peals his layers away and he thrives under her attention.  I loved watching this character change and grow. 

Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre gave a beautiful love story to the world, and April Lindner's Jane is now introducing that love story to a new generation of readers.  Her effort to recapture Bronte's original magic was a thrilling success that was a pleasure to read.

If you liked this book, you might also like:

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

First Waiting On Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine. WoW posts are about books that you can’t wait to get your hands on.

This is my first time to do a WoW post, but there are some books I just can't wait to release!  The first one should come as no surprise, since I've posted more than once here on the blog and on Twitter and Book Blogs about how much I adore this book.  Here goes:


Release Date: February 1, 2011
Why I Love it: There is no reason NOT to love it. It was awesome!
Buy It On Bookreads



Release Date: February 15, 2011
Why I Love it: High school opera girls; one popular, one the underdog.
Buy It On Bookreads

Which books are you jonesin' for this week?


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

My First Teaser Tuesday!

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 TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!


My teaser this week comes from:

Across the Universe by Beth Revis
Release Date: January 11, 2011
Publisher: Razorbill

Short blurb from Goodreads.comSeventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon.

Teaser from page 155: "I have never felt this lost - this alone - before in my life.  All the people who should be with me - my parents, Jason, my friends - are gone. Without them, the ship feels empty and small - I feel empty and small."

What books are you doing for your Teaser Tuesday?

Readergirl

Monday, January 24, 2011

Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Delirium by Lauren Oliver
Release Date: 2/1/2011
Publisher: HarperCollins

Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing. They didn’t understand that once love - the deliria - blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the governments demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holoway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy.

But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love. - Goodreads.com


It is 6:20am and I have not been to bed yet due to the fact that I was up finishing this book.  That should speak for itself.  All I can say is WOW.  Lauren Oliver knows how to hook you and keep you reading.  This was a fantastic, outstanding novel.

First, the characterization of Lena was brilliant.  This is a girl who has always admired the society she lives in, believed whole-heartedly in its rules and regulations, and looked forward to the day when she would receive the "cure" for love.  The way the author systematically and carefully peals away Lena's layers of stubborn belief was brilliant.  Watching her fall in love against her better judgement was almost agonizing because she is doing it despite believing that love is a horrible disease and her internal struggle was often heartbreaking to witness.  She grows so much as a character during the course of this story and I love what she becomes.

Alex was a patient, loving character that gently leads Lena toward the truth.  I don't want to say too much more about him for fear of ruining the story for others, but suffice it to say that I fell in love with him.  He was kind, brave, smart, and loving.

All the characters in this story were well drawn, despite the fact that many of them had to be somewhat lacking in personality because of the nature of the cure's affect on one's personality.  The author has done a fabulous job here by letting these people be real, three-dimensional characters while still maintaining their emotionlessness.

There are so many amazing themes and messages in this story that I almost wanted to read it over again as soon as I finished it.  The pacing was fast, and a couple surprises await near the end.  It seems as if the ending leaves a tiny speck of room for there to be a sequel, but I haven't read anything to confirm that.  I hope so!

Despite the fact that I read this book from a publisher galley, I am eagerly awaiting the release in February, as I must buy a copy for my keeper shelf.  I have nothing but the highest praise for this book and its author.  Mark February 1 on your calendars and get a copy of this book!!

If you like this book, you might also like:

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Lipstick Laws by Amy Holder

The Lipstick Laws by Amy Holder
Release Date: April 4, 2011
Publisher: Graphia

At Penford High School, Britney Taylor is the queen bee. She dates whomever she likes, rules over her inner circle of friends like Genghis Khan, and can ruin anyone's life with a snap of perfectly manicured fingers. Just ask the unfortunate few who have crossed her.   For April Bowers, Britney is also the answer to her prayers. April is so unpopular, kids don't even know she exists. But one lunch spent at Britney's table, and April is basking in the glow of popularity.   But Britney's friendship comes with a high price tag. How much is April willing to pay? - Goodreads.com

Review 2 on this year's Debut Author Challenge!

The first thing that drew me to this book was the cover.  I hate to say that I'm the kind of person who will judge a book by its cover, but when it comes to books, well, I do sometimes.  A good cover will often have me picking up the book and buying it, and I am often pleasantly surprised by what I find inside.  This is the case with The Lipstick Laws.

This was a highly enjoyable, light, and cute read.  The pacing is really fast, so I was able to read through this one in a relatively quick amount of time, and I really loved it.  April was a character I, or anyone, could relate to.  If you've ever been to high school, you understand the dynamic involved in this story.  A little-known girl who wants to be popular.  The group of untouchable girls who you both hate, but at the same time, want so badly to fit in with in order to achieve social status at school.

At first, I thought Britney and the other "mean girls" were going to be very cliche, but the author brought a great uniqueness to them.  They invent The Lipstick Laws, which brings a new twist into an older story, but she also gave the girls their own flaws that make their behavior more understandable.  They aren't mean just for the sake of being mean.  Maybe they might act the way they do because of their own insecurities, pasts, or issues.  I thought this gave a great lesson to the reader on why you should "walk a mile" in someone's shoes before judging.

I enjoyed the romantic element in the story, although it was rather secondary to the main story.  I am a gal who really loves her romance, so I thought it would disappoint me that the romance wasn't the main focus.  It didn't, though.  I was too busy rooting for April in the awesome actions she takes against the "laws."

All in all, this was a very fun, light-hearted story, and I really enjoyed it.  I look forward to future stories from this great new author!

If you liked this book, you might also like:

Saturday, January 22, 2011

In My Mailbox (3)


In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren.  I don't have a lot of additions this week.  It was a slow week.  I didn't get to shop!  Can you imagine that?  Here we go:

Purchased:





Other Words For Love - Loraine Rosenthal
Telling Secrets - Lauren Barnholdt
Falling Hard - Lauren Barnholdt
Real Live Boyfriends - E. Lockhart
Across the Universe - Beth Revis


Friday, January 21, 2011

Across the Universe by Beth Revis

Release Date: January 11, 2011
Publisher: Razorbill

As the spaceship Godspeed travels toward a new earth, the lives of 100 cryogenically frozen settlers hang in the balance after someone endeavors to quietly murder them. The other passengers aboard the ship have never known life outside its walls and are enslaved by the machinations of Eldest, their tyrannical leader, who divides them into three distinct classes. When Amy, a frozen settler from earth, survives being thawed in a murder attempt, she immediately bonds with Elder, Godspeed's lone teen and future leader. Amy’s individuality, her rebellion, and her fierce desire for freedom, inspire Elder to act on his own doubts and defy Eldest--his mentor and keeper--with shocking results. Eldest’s methods of twisting history and altering the lives of this captive community are a frightening echo of tyrants in our own history, and Across the Universe challenges readers to consider the impact of unchecked power, blind trust, and the ability of one dissenting voice to make a difference.  - Amazon.com

This is my first review for the 2011 Debut Author Challenge.  I couldn't have picked a better book to start with than Beth Revis' debut of Across the Universe.  This was one of the most unique YA books I have ever read.  I'm not usually a fan of science fiction-y type stories, which I would definitely have described this book as such.  But somehow, I was able to ignore that and sink myself into this story completely.

First, let's talk characters.  Amy was a very strong character which was a unique mix into the emotionless world she's thrust into.  Her narrative was compelling, as she struggles to reconcile herself to the strangeness of this new world.  She has to battle a new claustrophobia of knowing she's stuck on a ship, can't see her parents and has no one in the world, except, perhaps, for Elder.

Being trained as the new leader, Elder has never really questioned the society he lives in aboard the ship, until he meets Amy.  Her very uniqueness is the catalyst that causes him to begin questioning everything.  As they both start to investigate the unfreezing of certain cryogenically frozen passengers, he begins to see how wrong things are in a society he has never questioned.  I love the fact that he was able to come to slow realizations of the wrongness around him.  He was willing to listen to her and see reason rather than holding stubbornly to his longheld beliefs.  These characters play off each other very well in the story.

Told in alternating points of view between Amy and Elder, this book sucked me right in.  I really couldn't point to a single part of this book that was slow and failed to hold me. I read it in like one day, which should speak for itself.  Beth Revis' writing was riveting, interesting, paced well, and at times very beautiful.  To hook a reader who has never liked this type of story like she did me, she shows her talent, and the fact that she's going to have some staying power in storytelling.

The twist at the end floored me.  I had even thought of it at one point, but dismissed it.  Yet, it still shocked me.  I was amazed how the author was able to keep it from coming out earlier in the book.  If I had one complaint, it was that the ending felt a little rushed to me.  However, I later found out that there is supposed to be a sequel, so it makes sense that the ending would hang a little bit.  Although, don't get me wrong, it did have a satisfying resolution.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone.  I'm so glad I picked this one for my first 2011 Debut Author Challenge.

If you liked this book, you might also like:

The Stillburrow Crush by Linda Kage

Release Date: January 27, 2010
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press

Sixteen year old, Carrie Paxton, isn't the most popular girl in her small town of Stillburrow. But that's never concerned her before. Her life revolves around her writing, and she loves her job as the student editor of the school paper. But when she gets assigned to interview the football team's beloved quarterback, she takes one look into Luke Carter's blue eyes and is a goner. Suddenly, she doesn't like her lowly rank so much. Then her dreamy, popular crush surprises her when he starts to act as if he likes her in return. But there's no way Luke Carter could possibly ever like a nobody like Carrie Paxton. Is there? - Amazon.com

I expected this to be a cute little YA book that would just give me some much needed escapism.  Much to my surprise, the book gave me even more than that. It turned out to be a lot deeper than I was expecting, and I enjoyed it completely. 

Carrie is, at first, the epitome of the high school nerd girl who isn't popular.  She's the school paper photographer and shows up at the football games to take pictures.  She is so much more than that.  Kage gives such great characterization to this 16 year old girl.  She is spunky, independent, sarcastic, and smart.  I love this type of character. 

On the flip side, you expect Luke to be your typical high school jock, and for this to be the typical story of the nerd girl who worships the quarterback from afar.  I've read stories like that before and often thought it was unrealistic when the quarterback starts to return the affections of the adoring nerd girl.  Kage does something different, however.  She shows Luke's flaws, his fear of what his friends will think of him, and the peer pressure that has him making up excuses for why he's spending time with Carrie.  This is what makes the reader love him, however, as he slowly begins to crack through that peer pressure and stand for what he wants.

Kage also deals with a sub-plot on teen pregnancy and ramps up the action and stakes for Carrie as she is directly affected by the pregnancy and her family's life and harmony are threatened.  I won't say more, as I don't want to ruin it for anyone.

This book was well worth the read.  I look forward to seeing what Linda Kage will put out in future.  This one is definitely on my "keeper" pile!

If you liked this book, you might also like:

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Replacement


In this grim debut novel, the Doyles hide the terrible secret that 16-year-old Mackie is a changeling who was swapped for their real son when he was a baby. In their town of Gentry, there is an unspoken acknowledgment that a child is stolen every seven years in an uneasy bargain for the town's prosperity. Mackie's struggles to go unnoticed are made more difficult by his severe allergies to iron and other metal, his inability to set foot on consecrated ground such as his minister father's church, and his tendency to become severely ill around blood. Now he is dying. When a classmate's baby sister is abducted and a Replacement left in her place, Mackie is reluctantly drawn into the age-old rift between the Morrigan and the Lady, sisters who lead the two changeling clans who live underneath Gentry. Mackie agrees to help the Morrigan maintain the unwitting townspeople's goodwill in exchange for a drug he needs to survive. Meanwhile, he and his friends plot to rescue Tate's stolen sister from the Lady. - Amazon.com

This is one of the most unusual stories I've picked up since I started reading YA.  It was a lot darker than what I'm used to, but this didn't prevent me from enjoying the story.  The characters were very interesting, as was the basic idea of the story...that of children being taken and replacements put in their place.

I really liked Tate as a lead female character.  She was strong, smart, and tenacious.  She was determined to figure out what had happened to her sister and nothing was going to stop her.  I like this determination and felt her to be a really strong character that you could sympathize with.

Mackie was definitely an interesting character.  At first he seems kind of wimpy, but it seemed to me as if that was intentional.  I got the feeling that the author wanted the reader to find him that way.  He was so used to trying to hide so no one would guess his origins, which seems like a natural move for someone in his position to make.  So his initial timidity was pretty believable.  However, I really loved watching him grow and change.  He went through such a journey in this story, where he grew some strength and backbone.  I'm not sure if it would have happened if he hadn't met Tate and she had not challenged him as she did.  So these two characters played off of each other really well.

I would have liked to have seen a little bit more explanation regarding the origins of this town's strange stigma.  Where did the Lady come from?  Where did the others come from?  Why did they choose this town?  When did it all start?

Just a few questions I would have liked to see answered a bit more thoroughly.  All in all, this was a very good story, and although a lot darker than I usually read, I enjoyed it.

If you liked this book, you might also like:

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Awakened - P.C. & Kristin Cast

 Zoey has returned, mostly whole, from the Otherworld to her rightful place as High Priestess at the House of Night. Her friends are just glad to have her back, but after losing her human consort, Heath, will Zoey—or her relationship with her super- hot Warrior, Stark—ever be the same? Stevie Rae is drawn even closer to Rephaim, the Raven Mocker with whom she shares a mysterious and powerful Imprint, but he is a dangerous secret that isolates her from her school, her red fledglings, and even her best friends. When the dark threat of Neferet—who is coming closer and closer to achieving her twisted goal of immortality—and Kalona returns, what will it take to keep the House of Night from being lost forever, and what will one desperate girl do to keep her heart from being irreparably broken? - Goodreads.com

I was a big fan of this series starting out, as I thought it was innovative and interesting, with a great pairing of vampire myth and magic.  I still like those pieces, but my enjoyment of the series is being tried a bit with these latest installments.

I feel like characterization has taken a hike somewhere along the way, as most of the characters seem to have become rather stagnant.  As far as the main characters, it seems like we've reached somewhat of a standstill.  On the one hand, Zoey is now starting to see who she belongs with, thankfully, as she's spent the majority of the series flip-flopping back and forth between her many guys.  So I am glad to see this part somewhat resolving itself.  Stark has always been an interesting character to me and I still love him.  He's strong, he cares about Zoey, and I like where his story is going as far as his role as her guardian. 

My favorite character in the story, however, is Kolona, as he has the most to learn, to change, to grow, etc.  I see great potential and possibility in where his story might be headed.

What did I like about this installment: I like where Kalona and Stark are going.  I think this is a unique twist that might be developing here, and I have hope that Kalona is actually going to end up reconciling with Nyx.  Although this is purely speculation for me.

What I did not like was that we don't seem to be advancing too much in the overall story.  I didn't really buy the idea that everyone's believing Neferet might be innocent.  She threw out some rather silly and childish explanations for her actions and then everyone believed her except for Zoey's small group of friends?  I just don't buy that they're the only ones who would be able to think and reason their way through this.  The explanations are simple enough that a child could see through them.

I'm rapidly reaching the point where I want to see the resolution for this story.  I feel like things are being stretched just for the sake of seeing the story keep going.  I am not quite ready to quit the series, but I do hope we can see a nice, strong wrap-up fairly soon.  I think the authors are dragging things out too much at this point.

The authors are very talented and great story tellers.  This installment of the series, however, fell a little flat for me.  I'm looking forward to seeing things pick up from here.

If you liked this book, you might also like:

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Richelle Mead's Bloodlines is coming!!

For those of you chomping at the bit for some more Vampire Academy, you'll be excited to know that Penguin has posted their official Bloodlines page!  This is the title for the first book of Richelle Mead's VA spin-off series, and also the title of the series.  I, for one, am over the moon to hear that Ms. Mead is not planning to leave the VA world any time soon, and I simply CAN'T WAIT for this new series to come out. 

Check out Penguin's countdown page

And for a little bit more to go on, here's an update from Richelle Mead herself!!

Last Sacrifice - Richelle Mead

Rose Hathaway has always played by her own rules.

She broke the law when she ran away from St. Vladimir’s Academy with her best friend and last surviving Dragomir Princess, Lissa. She broke the law when she fell in love with her gorgeous, off-limits instructor, Dimitri. And she dared to defy Queen Tatiana, leader of the Moroi world, risking her life and reputation to protect generations of dhampir guardian to come.

Now the law has finally caught up with Rose- for a crime she didn’t even commit. She’s in prison for the highest offense imaginable: the assassination of a monarch. She’ll need help from both Dimitri and Adrian to find the one living person who can stall her execution and force the Moroi elite to acknowledge a shocking new candidate for the royal throne: Vasilisa Dragomir.

But the clock on Rose’s life is running out. Rose knows in her heart the world of the dead wants her back… and this time she is truly out of second chances. The big question is, when your life is about saving others, who will save you? - Goodreads.com

What can I say about this book, except, WOW!  This review might be a tad long.  Bear with me.  This series is rather special to me and there's a short story behind it.  The Twilight series was my first foray into YA/Teen stories.  I liked those so much, I decided to go troll through the YA/Teen section to see if, perhaps, there might be other great series out there I liked just as much.  My first YA book I picked up was The Vampire Academy.  From that moment on, I was enthralled with the series, in love with Richelle Mead, and hooked on YA.  I've been a fan of the series and YA ever since.  This series made me a fan.  This last book in this phenomenal series met all of my expectations and then some.  First, let's talk characters:

Every character in this series is so well-rounded and 3 dimensional you can't help but fall in love with them.  Although Lissa tended to get on my nerves a little in the first couple books, she grew up and became a really strong character.  And that is one of the things I love most about this series and this book.  All of the characters have come through such a wonderful and vivid emotional growth that by the time you reach this final book, you are cheering them on even more and are so proud of the moves they make in their journey.

Rose was my favorite heroine for all 2010 books I read, and the reason is all because of her 3 dimensional, raw, and honest characterization.  She has flaws, she has strengths, she has weaknessses, but that's what you love about her.  So much of the time, you see a strong heroine in a story but that's all she is...strong.  You're not given any of her weaknesses.  You're not always given an opportunity to see them make mistakes, almost like the author wants to keep them out of trouble.  But this girl made mistakes.  She did things that were wrong.  But you love her all the more for it, especially since you can see, throughout the books, how much she grows and changes on her journey.  She earns the ending she receives in this book.

Dimitri.  What can I say?  This is one of the hottest guys in YA fiction.  Not just for his looks and that awesome Russian accent.  (Don't laugh...I can hear it in my head.)  He's also an honorable, tough, amazing character that you adore.  He goes through such hard times but battles it out in his head and heart.  Love him!

Adrian, again with the character growth.  He changes on so many levels throughout the story.  Richelle Mead is awesome at character journey, and it really shows with Adrian.  When I was first introduced to him, I wasn't sure I liked him, but he progresses so much as a character throughout the series that I found myself falling in love with him.  At one time, I had thought I could never see Rose with anyone but Dimitri, but Adrian changed my mind to the point that I would have been happy had she ended up with either of them.  I'm not saying what happens, though! 

All in all, this was my one of my favorite 2010 books.  It was bittersweet to read it, only because I was sad it had to be over.  But it was a fitting, perfect conclusion to an exceptional series.  If you haven't read these books, run, don't walk, to the bookstore and get them.  They are amazing...and Richelle Mead deserves accolades for being a fabulous author.  My highest praise goes to this book.

If you liked this book, you might also like:

In My Mailbox (2)



In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren.  I don't have a lot of additions this week.  It was a slow week.  I didn't get to shop!  Can you imagine that?  Here we go:

Purchased:


The Replacement - Brenna Yovanoff


Electronic Galleys:





Delirium - Lauren Oliver
Those That Wake - Jesse Karp

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Eeny Meeny Miney Moe!

Is that how you spell that?  Anyway... so I've got a question for all you blog readers out there.  I have four books to review coming up.  They are:

Last Sacrifice - Richelle Mead
Awakened - PC and Kristen Cast
Avalon High - Meg Cabot
The Stillburrow Crush - Linda Kage

Which one do you want to see first?  It's up to you!!

Prom and Prejudice - Elizabeth Eulberg

After winter break, the girls at the very prestigious Longbourn Academy become obsessed with the prom.  Lizzie Bennet, who attends Longbourn on a scholarship, isn't interested in designer dresses and expensive shoes, but her best friend, Jane, might be -- especially now that Charles Bingley is back from a semester in London.

Lizzie is happy about her friend's burgeoning romance but less than impressed by Charles's friend, Will Darcy, who's snobby and pretentious.  Darcy doesn't seem to like Lizzie either, but she assumes it's because her family doesn' thave money.  Clearly Will Darcy is a pompous jerk -- so why does Lizzie find herself drawn to him anyway?

Will Lizzie's pride and Will's prejudice keep them apart?  Or are they a prom couple in the making? - Amazon.com

This was a fun read, and a cute retelling of the Jane Austen classic, Pride and Prejudice.  Although I did enjoy it, it fell a little flat for me.  Obviously the story was bound to be a little predictable, if you've read Pride and Prejudice, but I felt that it was just a little too predictable.  It went beyond just a general parallel and became more like an exact duplicate.  I really felt the author could have done a little bit more with this and brought something new into the mix.

Although I liked the Lizzie character in this story, there was strength to the original Lizzie that I missed in this one.  This Lizzie seemed to let herself be bothered too much by the things around her, whereas the original Lizzie held herself rather above it and was able to keep it more in perspective, until the very last large event occurs that disrupts her entire family.

Similarly, Will Darcy seemed a little lifeless to me.  I would have liked to have known a little bit more about this character, his life, and his feelings.  I wanted to see some emotional reaction or get to know his inner workings a little bit better and see him more as a three dimensional character.

My favorite character in this retelling was Jane.  She seemed to fit the original Jane rather well, but the author actually improved on her a little bit and gave her a littie of her own strength that the original Jane didn't have.  I found this change refreshing and unique.  I felt the author brought something new into the character that was very appealing, while still holding true to the original.

I did enjoy reading this story, as it was cute and light-hearted.  I love this author and think she's enormously talented.  I can't wait until her next book comes out.  I would recommend this book to others, especially if they haven't read Pride and Prejudice before.  Overall, a very fun read.

If you liked this book, you might also like:

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

All You Get Is Me - Yvonne Prinz

Things were complicated enough for Roar, even before her father decided to yank her out of the city and go organic. Suddenly, she’s a farm girl, albeit a reluctant one, selling figs at the farmers’ market and developing her photographs in a ramshackle shed. Caught between a troublemaking sidekick named Storm, a brooding, easy-on-the-eyes L.A. boy, and a father on a human rights crusade that challenges the fabric of the farm community, Roar is going to have to tackle it all—even with dirt under her fingernails and her hair pulled back with a rubber band meant for asparagus. – Amazon.com

Okay, this was one of those that I really wanted to like, and actually thought I would like.  Aurora "Roar" is a 15 year girl who loves photography and carries her camera with her everywhere.  Reminds me of my daughter.  Yay!  That's where my interest stopped, unfortunately.

The premise was very interesting and had me buying the book... the idea of a girl falling for a boy who happens to be the son of the woman who just happened to be responsible for killing someone you know by reckless driving....loads of conflict, right?  It just didn't go anywhere for me. 

The author could have done so much more with that conflict, but in many ways, I think she took the easy way out.  For instance, Roar keeps it a secret from Forest that her dad is suing his mom.  What happens when he finds out?  He's not outraged at all on his mother's behalf.  Even if you don't agree with something your relative has done, you're going to want to be defensive, at least a little bit.  At the very least, go away angry and come back and give it one of the old, "I've had time to think about it and..." moves.  I just didn't find his complete agreement and acceptance realistic.

That is something I could overlook.  The biggest problem to me was pacing and detail.  There seemed to be a lot of random stuff in the book that had nothing to do with anything important.  You could have left Storm out of the story entirely and you wouldn't have missed anything... not because she's not an interesting character but because her storyline with Roar was completely irrellevent.  Nothing tied in together.

I just had trouble maintaining interest in general.  Will I keep this book?  Probably not.  Will I ever read another book by this author?  Of course I will.  I like the author... one book I didn't care for won't turn me off entirely.  And there were elements I did enjoy.  I liked her friendships with her coworkers, life on the farm, and her photography.  I just wish the author had done more with this.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Monday's Month in Retrospect (December 2010)

Happy Weekend!

I'm starting a new tradition of Monday's Month In Retrospect where I intend to post on the first Monday of each month to give you my thoughts on the Best Ofs for the previous month.  Let me qualify that first by saying that the book didn't have to have come out the previous month.  These are favorites based on what I read the previous month, regardless of actual release date.

If you have any ideas for better categories, or any additions you'd like to see, just comment on the post, or email me.  Now to the fun stuff!

Best Book I read last month:  It's a tie!
Matched - Ally Condie
Release Date:  11/30/2010
Why it was my favorite: This was really the first Dystopian I had ever read.  I can't imagine how I ever stayed away from them before.  I fell in love with this book and its characters.  Can't wait for the sequel.
Reviewed:  Coming Soon.

Last Sacrifice - Richelle Mead
Release Date: 12/7/2010
Why it was my favorite:  It was a fitting and very satisfying ending to a much-loved series.
Reviewed:  Coming Soon.

Best Heroine:
Rose Hathaway from Last Sacrifice.
Why she's my favorite: I have always loved Rose from the Vampire Academy books because she's strong and tough, but somehow also manages to be sweet and vulnerable.  She stayed true throughout the series but also grew.  She had flaws and the author didn't sugar coat them, but you loved her despite it.

Best Hero:
Richelle Mead has it again with Last Sacrifice's Dimitri Belikov. 
Why he's my favorite: Dimitri has been a favorite hero for me since I first picked up The Vampire Academy last year.  He endured such a journey throughout the books and ended with a strong finish.  Add to that the fact that he's one of the hottest male characters in Teen fiction, and there you have it.  Oh yes.  I want him for my very own.

Best Villain:
I didn't have a favorite villain this month, as most of the books I read didn't actually have an evil protagonist.

Best Cover:
Why it's my favorite:  Having read the book, the concept of a girl stuck in a glass bubble, testing the solidity of it with her hands outstretched... let's just say that image really epitomizes the entire concept and main idea of the book itself.  Love it!

Until next month!

Matched - Ally Condie

For Cassia, nothing is left to chance--not what she will eat, the job she will have, or the man she will marry. In Matched, the Society Officials have determined optimal outcomes for all aspects of daily life, thereby removing the "burden" of choice. When Cassia's best friend is identified as her ideal marriage Match it confirms her belief that Society knows best, until she plugs in her Match microchip and a different boy’s face flashes on the screen. This improbable mistake sets Cassia on a dangerous path to the unthinkable--rebelling against the predetermined life Society has in store for her.  - From Amazon.com

This ended up being one of my favorite books of 2010.  Although I read YA/Teen fiction all of the time, I had somehow managed to accidentally avoid this type of book.  So this was the first time I've read a dystopian, and I am so happy that I did.

Aside from the fact that the basic plot was so unique, the author did an excellent job in setting up the reader to understand and dislike the constraints of Cassia's social world.  There was such detail that it made me feel as if I was really there and could picture those circumstances, settings, and social/governmental strictures personally.  It reminded me somewhat of The Giver, but was unique enough that you didn't feel like it was a copy of that book.

I had read mixed reviews on how quickly the relationship developed between Cassia and the guy she falls for (no, I'm going to avoid saying which one, Ky or Xander).  I did not find this to be a factor at all.  In a society where pretty much all personal freedoms have been removed, your feelings and emotions are the only thing you have left, even though society tries to control those too.  The two characters wanted, in their hearts, to break out of those strictures, and I think this sucked them into their own romance even more quickly than if they didn't live under the disciplines of their community.  I loved these two together.

I can't get by without a brief nod at "the other guy" as well.  I really liked his character, and was so happy that the author did not choose to turn him into the cliche of jealous boyfriend who shows his "true colors" as being dark and ugly.  He stayed true to who he truly was.

I can't wait for the sequel to come out, as this one ends with a few "unresolved issues" I guess you could say.  Of course, these unresolved issues don't detract from the enjoyment of the book at all but serve more as a cliff hanger and an invitation to read the sequel.  I'll leave it at that, as I don't want to ruin anything for those who haven't read the book. 

I loved this book and would definitely re-read it in future.

If you liked this book, you might also like:

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Debut Author Challenge!

2011 is the year of the Debut Author Challenge!!  If you are a book blogger of any type, whether it is as a reviewer or simply a fan-reader, this challenge is a worthy endeavor.

Why?  Some of my favorite books, and some seriously groundbreaking books, have been by debut authors over the years.  I want to support and promote these excellent authors and their books however I can.  Joining the DAC is a wonderful way to do this.  If you are unfamiliar with the DAC, or would like to read more about it, visit The Story Siren's DAC page for all the details!

So, here are the Debut Author books I intend to read in 2011.  Releases arranged by month:

January:
Warped - Maurissa Guibord
Unearthly - Cynthia Hand
Head Games - Keri Mikulski
Timeless - Alexandra Monir
Other Words for Love - Lorraine Zago Rosenthal

February:
Rival - Sara Bennett-Wealer
Waterfall - Lisa T. Bergren
Haven - Kristi Cook
Here Lies Bridget - Paige Harbison
Where I Belong - Gwendolyn Heasley
Darkness Becomes Her - Kelly Keaton

March:
Wake Unto Me - Lisa Cach
Wither - Lauren DeStefano
Falling Under - Gwen Hayes
Born at Midnight - C. C. Hunter
Those That Wake - Jesse Karp

April:
The Lipstick Laws - Amy Holder

May:
Starcrossed - Josephine Angelini
The Goddess Test - Aimee Carter
Tempest Rising - Tracy Deebs
OyMG - Amy Fellner Dominy
Popular - Alissa Grosso
Awaken - Katie Kacvinsky
The Sweetest Thing - Christina Mandelski
Girl Wonder - Alexa Martin
Die For Me - Amy Plum
Divergent - Veronica Roth

June:
Sirenz - Charlotte Bennardo & Natalie Zaman
Possession - Elana Johnson
Luminous - Dawn Metcalf
Forgotten - Cat Patrick

July:
Lost Voices - Sarah Porter
Falling For Hamlet - Michelle Ray

August:
Populazzi - Elise Allen
Cleopatra's Moon - Vicky Alvear Shecter

September:
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer - Michelle Hodkin

October:
None Yet

November:
None Yet

December:
None Yet

Friday, January 7, 2011

In My Mailbox

In My Mailbox (1)

This is my first In My Mailbox (IMM) post for Readergirl Reviews a Teen Book.  IMM is hosted by The Story Siren.  Thank you for allowing other bloggers to join!

So I’ve categorized what’s In My Mailbox according to books I’ve acquired by: Purchase or electronic galley.

Purchased:











Awakened – P.C & Kristen Cast
October Breezes – Maria Rachel Hooley
The Boy Book – E. Lockhart
The Treasure Map of Boys – E. Lockhart
Prom and Prejudice – Elizabeth Eulberg


Electronic Galleys:













Trickster’s Girl – Hilari Bell
Populazzi – Elise Allen
Always a Witch – Carolyn MacCullough
The Lipstick Laws – Amy Holder
Lost Voices – Sarah Porter

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