Tuesday, July 17, 2012


I'm sure you will not be surprised when I say:

"I need to take a break from book blogging."

My blog is getting more and more boring and sporatic. My heart just isn't into it right now. I may come back to it in the future, but for right now this will be my last post.

I am on goodreads and am going to keep up reviews there. If you'd like to be my friend or follow, here I am.

Thanks to everyone who has read my blog! It's been a pleasure. I'll be hovering around, reading and commenting on blogs here and there. So I won't completely disappear.

And as for the winners for my giveaways from a few weeks ago, Romeo Redeemed went to Lexie@bookbug, and The FitzOsbornes at War goes to Stephanie. Thanks everyone for entering!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

ALA recap and GIVEAWAYS!

I went to ALA last weekend. It was wonderful. I got a lot of books signed by cool authors and spent a lot of money buying books and picked up a lot of really exciting ARCs. Probably the highlight was stumbling across Maggie Stiefvator and the two readers for her book, The Scorpio Races. The Scorpio Races is one of my all time favorite audiobooks, and there, on the stage, were the voices of Puck and Sean! They WERE Puck and Sean (or also known as Steve West and Fiona Hardingham). It was surreal. And completely awesome. I am so sad I didn't get a picture taken with them! Really, so sad. Why didn't I? I don't know!

This is the best I did:

Sean is so handsome. Especially with that voice. Sigh...

I picked out the books I was most excited to read, and here they are:

They taunt me. Since ALA I've only read three books. I need more time in a day!

That brings us to my giveaways. Two of them. How awesome am I?

GIVEAWAY #1: The FitzOsbornes at War by Michelle Cooper
This is the third and final book in the Montmaray Journals, historical fiction that takes place during WW2. I have really enjoyed this series and was so excited to get this book the very first day of ALA. I started it that night when I got back to the hotel. It was so meticulously researched and Sophie is so witty and the story was engrossing. I laughed a lot. I was disappointed in the character's attitudes towards sexuality, sex, and physical relationships. It did not ring true to the 1940s, it felt more like a soap opera from 2010.

There is a stipulation on winning this book: You have to have read at least the first book of the series. This is the third and I really like the series and I want to give it to someone who will actually read it, and won't leave it on a shelf to rot. Especially if I'm paying to ship it.

US only. Ends Sunday July 15

ENTER HERE for the FitzOsbornes at War

GIVEAWAY #2 Romeo Redeemed by Stacey Jay
I'm not sure why I picked this one up before all the others. I didn't like Juliet Immortal, but I got this one at ALA because I was interested to know what happened to Romeo. Where his story leaves off in JI was much more interesting than Juliet's story. So I read it. Liked it better than the first, but now it's time to pass it on to someone who cares.

Anyone can enter. As long as you live in the US. Ends Sunday July 16.

ENTER HERE for Romeo Redeemed 

Stay tuned! If I ever get the time to read the books I brought back from ALA, I'll probably have more giveaways. Unless I love them and want to keep them forever and reread them till they fall apart. Then not.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

review: The Last Princess by Galaxy Craze

pub date: May 1, 2012
publisher: Little, Brown for Young Readers
pages: 295
source: ARC from publisher (with my job, not this blog FYI)
appeals: dystopic, future, royal family, romance, adventure, family
content: some violence and death

Three main things disappointed me about this book.

First, the writing. I felt like it was a travel log, a brief overview of events. Eliza went here, then there, then somewhere else. There was no depth or growth or excitement.

Second, the story. It was a weak plot. There wasn't much to it and by the end it was just a big let down. The characters just Were the way they Were. I didn't understand motivations behind actions beyond the simple fact that they needed to do something to keep the story moving forward.

Third, the romance. The love was instantaneous and unrealistic and boring.

That is all I've got. There isn't much more to say. I had to skim the last 100 pages just to get through it.

On the positive--the cover is cool. I just wish that what was inside matched.

A series of natural disasters has decimated the earth. Cut off from the rest of the world, England is a dark place. The sun rarely shines, food is scarce, and groups of criminals roam the woods, searching for prey. The people are growing restless.

When a ruthless revolutionary sets out to overthrow the crown, he makes the royal family his first target. Blood is shed in Buckingham Palace, and only sixteen-year-old Princess Eliza manages to escape.

Determined to kill the man who destroyed her family, Eliza joins the enemy forces in disguise. She has nothing left to live for but revenge, until she meets someone who helps her remember how to hope—and to love—once more. Now she must risk everything to ensure that she not become... The Last Princess.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

review: Raised by Wolves by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

pub date: June 8, 2010
publisher: EgmontUSA
pages: 418
source: Library
format: audio
appeals: wolves, romance, paranormal
content: some violence

Some books should not be listened to. This is one of them.

The first two discs NOTHING HAPPENED. Or at least very little happened, besides setting up this world of wolves through the eyes of Bryn, a human girl adoped by the pack as a four-year-old. Boring. And rather tedious. I'm not sure I would feel that the beginning was so tedious if I wasn't listening to EVERY WORD. While reading, I can skim.

Then there was also the repetition. Three different kinds of repetition.

1) Information. Repeated over and over and over and over. Again and again and again and again. Yes, I know you have a mark on your hip, under the waistband of your pants, Bryn. You've told me fifty times already! Yes, I know Callum is your alpha and you must obey. I GET IT.

2) Words. The same words. Blood. Blood, blood, blood, blood. BLOOD! I got the point. There is blood. Survive, survive, survive. SURVIVE! Are you saying you want to survive? That's what I assumed.

3) Ideas. Bryn would say something once, then again using different words. THEN A THIRD TIME using more different words. I GET IT. I got it the first time.

The repetition drove me CRAZY. It might have in book form also, but not to this extent.

The story did pick up around the ending of the fourth disc. Which I was very grateful for. And then the ending was rather cool and intriguing and for a few moments I thought about picking up the next in the series. But honestly--even skimming I don't know if I can deal with the repitition if it's anything like this book.

Adopted by the Alpha of a werewolf pack after a rogue wolf brutally killed her parents right before her eyes, fifteen-year-old Bryn knows only pack life, and the rigid social hierarchy that controls it. That doesn't mean that she's averse to breaking a rule or two.

But when her curiosity gets the better of her and she discovers Chase, a new teen locked in a cage in her guardian's basement, and witnesses him turn into a wolf before her eyes, the horrific memories of her parents' murders return. Bryn becomes obsessed with getting her questions answered, and Chase is the only one who can provide the information she needs.

But in her drive to find the truth, will Bryn push too far beyond the constraints of the pack, forcing her to leave behind her friends, her family, and the identity that she's shaped?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

review: Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

pub date: August 30, 2011
publisher: Tor Teen
pages: 316
appeals: horror, male protagonist, friendship, ghosts
content: swearing (including a few f-bombs), gruesome dead people, intense scenes

For a while now I've struggled getting onto books. And I don't think it's always the book. I think it's me. What is wrong with me? I don't know, but I suppose that is for a different post, not this one.

As I mentioned above, this is one of the books I struggled getting into. I think part of it was because I had so much going on and was also reading two other books at the same time. Whatever the reason, I don't really think it was the story itself, and once I got to about page 80, I was hooked. And once I reached the end, I was so bummed I had to wait until August to get the next installment of the story. I wanted more. Series books kill me sometimes.

This was a really well written book, populated by great, realistic, charismatic characters that I really liked. What I really enjoyed was the ghost lore. And Anna Dressed in Blood and her creepiness. And the surprises in the plot and the very cool and suspenseful ending. Especially the ending. The romance was a little blah, but I like romantic romance in my books and this didn't get all that romantic, so it's just me.

So, that was really vague. Kind of useless, too. But I read this book a few months ago and all I got left is vague. But since I wrote this review, I'm going to post it anyway. Enjoy!

Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.

So did his father before him, until his gruesome murder by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father’s mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. Together they follow legends and local lore, trying to keep up with the murderous dead—keeping pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

When they arrive in a new town in search of a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas doesn’t expect anything outside of the ordinary: move, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he’s never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, but now stained red and dripping blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.

And she, for whatever reason, spares his life.

Monday, June 11, 2012

review: Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

pub date: March 22, 2011
publisher: Philomel
pages: 346
source: library
appeals: WWII, family, survival, labor camps, Lithuania, based on a true story
content: harsh treatment

I read this book months ago, but I didn't know what to write. Based on Truth books always throw me for a loop when I try to write my ideas down. But I've been wanting to write a review for a while, especially because the author, Ruta Sepetys, came to Utah a few months ago and I heard her speak. And WOW. It was amazing.

I knew very little about Stalin and what he did during WWII to the Lithuanians. Which, after reading this book and listening to Sepetys, I know that very few people did know about Stalin's treatment of the Lithuanians. Fantastic book, but also a difficult read. This is real life, based on real experiences. And it's just horrible. All the lives that ended, all the pain and heartache and loss so many people suffered.

I love the message of the novel, though: that there is darkness in the world, but there is also hope.

Like I mentioned, listening to Sepetys speak was a remarkable experience. I got teary-eyed as she shared stories. This book is based on so many different people's experiences, including her family's.

It's been a few months, so I might have some of the details wrong, but her grandfather was in the Lithuanian army and Stalin was arresting military men so he fled. His family thought he was dead, while he and immediate family, including Sepetys' father who was a young boy, were living in a refuge camp for several years before making their way to America. The family left in Lithuania were deported to Siberia because Sepetys' grandfather fled. Sepetys' freedom came at the price of her extended family's enslavement. This is written into the story, because Lina's cousin escapes to America, causing Lina and her family to be arrested. So awful.

Sepetys said that as she collected stories from survivors of the deportation, they would say things like, "This is a wonderful thing you're doing, but no one cares. The world doesn't care about us." So the fact that Between Shades of Gray has been published in so many countries is amazing and awesome.

If you haven't watched this video on the official Between Shades of Gray website, you should. Be warned, it's heart wrenching.

Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they've known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin's orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.

Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously - and at great risk - documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father's prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives. Between Shades of Gray is a novel that will steal your breath and capture your heart.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

review: 172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad

pub date: April 17, 2012
publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
pages: 355
source: for review at Kiss the Book
appeals: Space!, horror, scifi, suspense, life and death, future-ish
content: some swearing

It's been decades since anyone set foot on the moon. Now three ordinary teenagers, the winners of NASA's unprecedented, worldwide lottery, are about to become the first young people in space--and change their lives forever.

Mia, from Norway, hopes this will be her punk band's ticket to fame and fortune.

Midori believes it's her way out of her restrained life in Japan.

Antoine, from France, just wants to get as far away from his ex-girlfriend as possible.

It's the opportunity of a lifetime, but little do the teenagers know that something sinister is waiting for them on the desolate surface of the moon. And in the black vacuum of space... no one is coming to save them.

In this chilling adventure set in the most brutal landscape known to man, highly acclaimed Norwegian novelist Johan Harstad creates a vivid and frightening world of possibilities we can only hope never come true.
I do not read suspense often, but I'm assuming that suspense books normally focus on story, and not so much on character's development. The first half of this story focused on characters, mostly the three teens who are chosen to go to the moon. But I never felt attached to the characters and there didn't seem to be much to them and they weren't really developed. Since there wasn't much going on, it was a little slow. And boring. It took me a week to get through the first half of the book.

Once the five astronauts and three teens got to the moon...much more interesting. Things were happening, people were dying (was that a spoiler? sorry if you hadn't guessed that already), and the suspense was good. But I also felt like it was rushed. Like I said, I don't read suspense so maybe I don't know what I'm writing about, but I think the suspense would have been more suspenseful if it had built over days, instead of hours. They are supposed to be on the moon for 172 of them, not 20. If between horrific events, the characters stewed about it a while... But, whatever. There was suspense and my interest was held. My impression of the book went up quite a bit.

I read the last of it while I was house sitting...and it rather freaked me out. I was in a strange house with strange noises. It was cool.

As for the premise...sending random teens up into space? Really? I get the publicity aspect of sending the teens (sort of), but I also thought it was a stupid idea. Especially because the higher ups at NASA have top secret information and they have specific goals for going to the moon (I think) and teens would just get in the way. And it's dangerous.

The whole, "what else is on the moon," question...the answer is odd. But cool. And the ending was good.

Let me just say, these "possibilities" will never come true.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

review: Someone Else's Life by Katie Dale

pub date: Feb 14, 2012
publisher: Random House Children's Books
pages: 464
source: for review at Kiss the Book
appeals: romance, family, mystery, travel
content: off page sex, swearing

When 17-year-old Rosie's mother, Trudie, dies from Huntington's Disease, her pain is intensified by the knowledge that she has a fifty percent chance of inheriting the crippling disease herself. Only when Rosie tells her mother's best friend, "Aunt Sarah," that she is going to test for the disease does Sarah, a midwife, reveal that Trudie wasn't her real mother after all. Rosie was swapped at birth with a sickly baby who was destined to die.thoughts:

Devastated, Rosie decides to trace her real mother, joining her ex-boyfriend on his gap year travels, to find her birth mother in California. But all does not go as planned. As Rosie discovers yet more of her family's deeply buried secrets and lies, she is left with an agonizing decision of her own, one which will be the most heart breaking and far-reaching of all.

I read this book a few weeks ago, so I'm a little fuzzy on the details. But I will start off with: The cover is BORING. I like the UK cover much better--they have some color and personality. With the US cover, just blah. 

And now the story...

I was impressed with how surprising this novel was. When I began, I expected the story to go in one direction, and then it went in a new direction and took a few twists along the way. I liked the originality.

There were really two stories being told, Rosie's and an unnamed girl who had a page here and there between Rosie's narrative. It was interesting how the two girls and their stories met up and how they were resolved.

I thought the writing was interesting, the character's and their stories interesting, and the how twisted it all was.

I will say that Rosie and the mystery girl did get on my nerves at times. Mostly because I wanted them to behave in a different manner then they did. But, not everyone is me so they did their own thing and it worked for the story being told.

I liked.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

review: Welcome, Caller, This is Chole by Shelley Coriell

pub date: May 1, 2012
publisher: Amulet Books
pages: 299
appeals: radio, romance, friends, family, happy main character
content: clean

Big-hearted Chloe Camden is the queen of her universe until her best friend shreds her reputation and her school counselor axes her junior independent study project. Chloe is forced to take on a meaningful project in order to pass, and so she joins her school’s struggling radio station, where the other students don’t find her too queenly.

Ostracized by her former BFs and struggling with her beloved Grams’s mental deterioration, lonely Chloe ends up hosting a call-in show that gets the station much-needed publicity and, in the end, trouble. She also befriends radio techie and loner Duncan Moore, a quiet soul with a romantic heart. On and off the air, Chloe faces her loneliness and helps others find the fun and joy in everyday life. Readers will fall in love with Chloe as she falls in love with the radio station and the misfits who call it home.

This is a sweet story with a great main character. What is so appealing about Chloe is she is not angsty or bitter with the difficult things that are happening to her with her friends and family. She makes fun, happy things and takes control in finding the good. She is also very forgiving of those who treat her poorly. Which is really nice and refreshing.

Besides all the meanness from many of the other characters populating the book, I liked them. Especially Duncan. He wasn't necessarily heartthrob material, but he was way sweet.

Some of the story I found unrealistic--for example her call-in show becoming uber popular in a matter of three weeks. But who cares--it was fun.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

review: Geek Girl by Cindy C. Bennett

pub date: December 2011
publisher: Cedar Fort
pages: 318
source: library
appeals: clean romance, high school, realistic fiction, contemporary
content: clean

I came across this book at the library one day this month, had never heard of it before, but after reading the back and a page in the middle I was interested in reading the whole thing. So I took it home and finally read it this past weekend.

I must say, it was cute.

Jen, the main character, had a fun voice. A tad self-deprecating, and very honest. She struggled with stuff in her life, had built a wall around herself, and was on a self-destructive path to not much. I thought her growth as a character was real.

I did think the pacing was off. The ending seemed to drag a little, and places in the middle sped by where I would've liked more. It also wasn't very rounded as a story--all the focus was on her relationship with Trevor, hardly any of it was about any other aspect of her life. For example, her relationship with her foster parents/family was undeveloped, so when events happened with them it was very out of the blue and odd. But really, the main draw of this book was Trevor and their developing relationship, so who cares about her foster family?

I did really enjoy Trevor and his influence on Jen and the way their relationship developed. I giggled and smiled quite a bit.

So overall, very enjoyable. I actually went back and skimmed my favorite parts after I'd finished it the first time.

Jen's life of partying and sneaking out has grown stale. So on a whim, Jen makes a bet to turn Trevor, a goody-two-shoes geek, into a "bad boy." As she hangs out with Trevor, however, she finds it's actually kinda fun being a geek. But when Trevor finds out about the bet, Jen must fight for the things she's discovered matter most: friendship, family, and, above all, love.

Friday, May 25, 2012

classic retellings booklist: a new twist on an old tale

I've been putting together a YA book display at the library of classic retellings, and thought I would share the list here. I had intended to put pictures and summaries, but the list is long so you just get links to goodreads.

Most are young adult, some are a little younger, some a little older.

This is a work in progress, one I'm going to keep updating as I find new books to add, so if I'm missing some please put them in the comments!

Fairy Tale Retellings
Beauty and the Beast
Tiger's Curse by Colleen Houck (2011) [goodreads]
Beauty by Robin McKinley [goodreads]
Beastly by Alex Flinn (2007) [goodreads]

Little Red Riding Hood
Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce (2010) [goodreads]

12 Dancing Princesses
Entwined by Heather Dixon (2011) [goodreads]
Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George (2009) [goodreads]
Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier (2007) [goodreads]
The Princess Curse by Merrie Haskell (2011) [goodreads]

Cinder by Marissa Meyer (2012) [goodreads]
Cindy Ella by Robin Palmer (2008) [goodreads]
Just Ella by Margaret Peterson Haddix (2007) [goodreads]
Shadows on the Moon by Zoe Marriott (2011) [goodreads]
Cinderella: Ninja Warrior by Maureen McGowan (2001) [goodreads]
Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine (1997) [goodreads]
Ash by Mainda Lo (2010) [goodreads]

Snow White
Wicked Jealous by Robin Palmer (July 2012) [goodreads]
Snow White Sorry by Cameron Jace (Oct 2012) [goodreads]Snow White and Rose Red by Patricia Wrede (1989) [goodreads]

East of the Sun, West of the Moon
East by Edith Pattou (2005) [goodreads]
Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George (2008) [goodreads]
Ice by Sarah Beth Durst (2009) [goodreads]

Sleeping Beauty
Sleeping Beauty: Vampire Slayer by Maureen McGowan (2011) [goodreads]
A Kiss in Time by Alex Flinn (2009) [goodreads
Briar Rose by Jane Yolen (1988) [goodreads]
Enchantment by Orson Scott Card (1999) [goodreads]
The Wide Awake Princess by E.D. Baker (2010) [goodreads]

Sweetly by Jackson Pearce--Hansel and Gretel (2011) [goodreads]
Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale--Maid Maleen (2007) [goodreads]
Goose Girl by Shannon Hale--The Goose Girl (2003) [goodreads]
The Blue Castle by Lucy M. Montgomery--Blue Beard (1926) [goodreads]
The Brixen Witch by Stacy DeKeyser--The Pied Piper (2012) [goodreads]
A Curse Dark as Gold by Elizabeth Bunce--Rumpelstiltskin (2008) [goodreads]
Zel by Donna Jo Napoli--Rapunzel (1996) [goodreads]
The Frog Princess by E.D. Baker--Frog Prince (2002) [goodreads]

Fairytale Mashups
Enchanted by Aleathea Kontis (2012) [goodreads]
Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross (2012) [goodreads]
A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz (2010) [goodreads]

Shakespeare Retellings
Romeo and Juliet
Juliet Immortal by Stacey Jay (2011) [goodreads]
Saving Juliet by Suzanne Selfors (2008) [goodreads]
Son of the Mob by Gordon Korman (2002) [goodreads]
Romeo's Ex: Rosalind's Story by Lisa Fiedler (2006) [goodreads]
When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle (2012) [goodreads]
Temptation by Karen Ann Hopkins (2012) [goodreads]
Falling for Hamlet by Michelle Ray (2011) [goodreads]
Ophelia by Lisa M. Klein (2006) [goodreads]

A Midsummer Night's Dream
This Must Be Love by Tui T. Sutherland (2005) [goodreads]
Wonderous Strange by Leslie Livingston (2008) [goodreads]
The Loser's Guide to Life and Love by A.E. Cannon (2008) [goodreads]

Enter Three Witches by Caroline Cooney (2007) [goodreads]

Much Ado About Nothing
Confessions of a Triple Shot Betty by Jody Gehrman (2008) [goodreads]

The Tempest
Ariel by Grace Tiffany (2005) [goodreads]

Twelfth Night
Illyria by Elizabeth Hand (2010) [goodreads]

 Jane Austen Retellings
Pride and Prejudice
Prom and Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulbert (2011) [goodreads]
Prada and Prejudice by Mandy Hubbard (2009) [goodreads
Epic Fail by Claire LaZebnik (2011) [goodreads]
Enthusiasm by Polly Shulman (2006) [goodreads]
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith (2009) [goodreads]
Pride and Popularity by Jenni James (2011) [goodreads]

For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund (2012) [goodreads]

Sense and Sensability
Sass and Serendipity by Jennifer Ziegler (2011) [goodreads]
The Dashwood Sisters' Secrets of Love by Rosie Rushton (2006) [goodreads]
Northanger Abby
Northanger Alibi by Jenni James (2012) [goodreads]

The Espressologist by Kristina Springer (2009) [goodreads]

Classic Retellings
Jekyll and Hyde
Jekel loves Hyde by Beth Fantasky (2010) [goodreads]

Sherlock Holmes
Death Cloud by Andrew Lane (2010) [goodreads]

Robin Hood
Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen (2012) [goodreads
Pretty Crooked by Elisa Ludwig (2012) [goodreads]

Peter Pan
Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson (2012) [goodreads]
Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson (2004) [goodreads]

King Arthur/Merlin
Avalon High by Meg Cabot (2006) [goodreads]

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Jane by April Lindner (2010) [goodreads]
A Breath of Eyre by Eve Marie Mont (2012) [goodreads]
The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey (2012) [goodreads]

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Catherine by April Lindner (2013) [goodreads]
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
His Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel (2011) [goodreads]
Mister Creecher by Chris Priestley (2011) [goodreads]

Don Quixote
Going Bovine by Libba Bray (2009) [goodreads]

Turn of the Screw
Tighter by Adele Griffin (2011) [goodreads]

Poe's The Raven (poem)
Nevermore by Kelly Creagh (2010) [goodreads]

Rebecca by Daphne de Maurier
New Girl by Paige Harbison (2011) [goodreads

Another Faust by Daniel and Dina Nayeri (2009) [goodreads]

Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand
Flawless by Lara Chapman (2011) [goodreads]
At Face Value by Emily Franklin (2008) [goodreads]

Shut Out by Kody Keplinger (2011) [goodreads]

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
The Humming Room by Ellen Potter--The Secret Garden (2012) [goodreads]

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
Ten by Gretchen McNeil (Sept 2012) [goodreads]

The Coming of the Dragon by Rebecca Barnhouse

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Marly's Ghost by David Levithan (2005) [goodreads]

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
The Mother-Daughter Book Club by Heather Vogel Frederick (2007) [goodreads]
Myth Retellings
Abandon by Meg Cabot (2011) [goodreads]
Radiant Darkness by Emily Whitman (2009) [goodreads]
Everneath by Brodi Ashton (2012) [goodreads]
The Goddess Test by Amie Carter (2011) [goodreads]

Helen of Troy
Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini (2011) [goodreads]
Nobody's Princess by Esther Friesner (2007) [goodreads]

King of Ithaka by Tracy Barrettt (2010) [goodreads]
Torn from Troy by Patrick Bowman (2011) [goodreads]

Monday, May 14, 2012

audio review: Stolen: a Letter to my Capture by Lucy Christopher

pub date: May 4, 2009
publisher: Chicken House
pages: 301
source: library
audiobook reader: Emily Gray
appeals: kidnapping, Australia, England, letter
content: there is swearing, including the f-bomb. Besides that, it's been so long, I don't really remember. But it is about a girl who is kidnapped by an older man, and it is emotionally brutal

It is now May, and I listened to this book back at the beginning of March. A loooong time ago, so my thoughts on the book are a little fuzzy. I debated about writing a review on the book since it's been so long, but decided I really wanted to. This book left me dazed and confused and a tad upset. It packed an emotional punch that lasted a few days. I wasn't lying when I said it was emotionally brutal.

I listened to the audio of this book. I like to listen to audio books in my car, and usually when I select audio books I just browse the shelves for what's checked in. Which means the audios I listen to are ones that I normally wouldn't read. If there is a book I really want to read, I read it in days. Audio books take me a few weeks to listen to, and I'm usually too impatient for that when it's a book I'm excited about. Sometimes the audios I pick up are duds, but sometimes it's a serendipitous find, like Stolen.

The day I picked this book off the shelf, it was the only teen novel that wasn't too long (I try to stick with audio books that are only 6-7 discs), and I knew it was a Printz honor. 

It grabbed me from the get-go. I loved the premise, that this was a letter written by Gemma, to her kidnapper, Ty. She wrote as if she was speaking to him face-to-face and it made it more personable, more real. Though there were times Gemma really got on my nerves, I understood her motivation for everything she did/didn't do.

Ty takes Gemma to Australia. Christopher does such a wonderful job at describing the landscape, the life led on the outback. It was so rich and real. It build a world for this story that was truly remarkable.

The ending sort of traumatized me. It ended the way I thought it needed to, but the way I didn't want it to. Gemma and Ty felt so real to me that I wanted their stories to be different, to end different. I had to remind myself that it was fiction, not nonfiction. It was just a story.

Emily Gray, the reader for the audio, was also fantastic. She had a voice that sounded young and innocent and angry and scared and lost, but not all at the same time. It added to the story.

A really superb book.

It happened like this.

I was stolen from an airport.
Taken from everything I knew,
everything I was used to.
Taken to sand and heat, dirt
and danger. And he expected
me to love him. This is my story.

A letter from nowhere.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

audio reviews by Jaye: The Year of Secret Assignments by Jaclyn Moriarty

Yay! another review by Jaye! This is a book I listened to first, then gave to Jaye because I enjoyed it so much. I agree with everything Jaye wrote, or I would've written one of my own, too.

pub date: April 1, 2005
publisher: Scholastic
pages: 340
appeals: A light, humorous romance; School serves as the main backdrop; Told entirely through correspondence; The girls are the main characters, but the guys are heavily involved, stealing the spotlight at times; Multiple, diverse characters that are pretty well-drawn, but not deeply so
content: Some language and innuendo, no sex or graphic situations

Jay's thoughts:
Wealthy Ashbury 10th graders Emily, Lydia and Cass were not excited to start the “pen friend” program with “low-life” Brookfield students. However, once Em began corresponding with Charlie, and Lydia with Seb, things started to look up. Cassie, on the other hand, has an unexpected and frightening experience with Matthew.

This book is composed entirely of written correspondence, whether it is letters back and forth, notes from parents, or entries in Lydia’s NotebookTM (she’s an aspiring author). It was confusing at first, trying to get a solid hand on who was writing who and each of their situations. It did settle down a little further into the book.

The beginning was chronological, but as I got further in, it took turns focusing on one “couple” before going back and showing what other characters had been doing at the same time. Maybe that helped in keeping the characters straight, and I did get to follow each drama to its conclusion. However, it was confusing in its own right, and I would have liked everything to follow along without the inadvertent time travel.

I listened to the audio, which had a cast rather than a single narrator, and that helped define characters as well. Everyone performed very well, and made the characters their own. It takes place in Australia, so the accents were enjoyable, too.

The characters had distinctive voices, and it was nice to learn about the girls’ friendship, and get to know the guys they were writing. They all had faults, but I liked them anyway, even if I did roll my eyes at Emily’s snobbishness, or Seb’s over-the-top flirting. Favorite character: Charlie, and even he wasn't without fault.

They were all surprisingly willing to break the law. The main difference was that the girls mostly managed to avoid getting caught, but the guys were pretty familiar with the form master’s office. I was laughing out loud at parts, wondering how their antics were going to play out. Sometimes I was outraged on someone’s behalf, and a few times I had to cheer them on, even when what they were doing was stupid. There were some definite surprises.

It was a solid, enjoyable read with romance, drama, and a hint of danger. Plus, a hilarious “courtroom” scene near the end.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

review: Wonder by R.J. Palacio

pub date: February 14, 2012
publisher: Random House Children's Book
pages: 313
source: for review at Kiss the Book
appeals: mulitple narrators, male protagonist, facial deformity, school, bullies, contemporary fiction, friendship, family
content: clean

I'm not sure why I picked this book up, since it's for a younger audience then I usually enjoy reading and I didn't know much about it beyond knowing it had gotten good reviews from professional reviewers.

But I'm glad I picked it up and I'm glad I then read it. It was amazing.

The story is told through 5 points of view, first person. Auggie has the largest 2 sections, the first and the last. But in the middle we get to read Auggie's story through four other people as well, his sister Via, Via's friend, and two of Auggie's friends at his new school. It gave a more complete picture of Auggie and really showed how remarkable this ten-year-old boy was. The multiple view points were one of the reasons I loved the book so much.

The novel is also extremely well-written and populated with real, flawed, and amazing characters. This is one of those books where the characters have these insights into their lives like a light bulb flashing on, but they're also insights into life in general. Just a really amazing book.

I am curious about the audience. Has anyone else read this book? Who do you think it's for? Auggie is ten, he's in fifth grade. But the level of reading for this book seems more like sixth or seventh. But would a six or seventh grader read this book about a fifth grader? Any opinons on that? I do think a teacher would need to direct students to this book. Doesn't seem like one they'd just pick up read on their own, and they should! It is a fantastic book.

I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse.

August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He's about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you've ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie's just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he's just like them, despite appearances?

R. J. Palacio has written a spare, warm, uplifting story that will have readers laughing one minute and wiping away tears the next. With wonderfully realistic family interactions (flawed, but loving), lively school scenes, and short chapters, Wonder is accessible to readers of all levels.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

reviews by Jaye: My Sister's Stalker by Nancy Springer

I convinced my friend Jaye to write some reviews for me. And here is her second review. Enjoy.

pub date: February 20, 2012
publisher: Holiday House
pages: 128

Jaye's Thoughts:
This book is almost a novella, and that may be part of the reason for its being so different than many teen books around today. It comes in at a whopping 93 pages, and pretty much every one of them moves.

Synopsis: Rig discovers a stalker-ish website about his sister, who is away at school and gets worried. From there, it diverges from typical teen books, in that the first person he thinks to go to is his dad. In my experience, parents—most any adult, really, is the last person teens go to for help, and parents are generally largely absent. But hold on, it gets better—his dad believes him, and they start working together. Even his absentminded, sweetly na├»ve mom gets involved. And drives him crazy. I liked that.

I like how Rig’s character was drawn. 93 pages isn’t much time to flesh out the characters, but with thrillers, that’s not usually a high priority. Still, I found Rig a sympathetic hero, someone to root for. He went through a bit of self-discovery, too, which was interesting, though I would have liked more development and exploration with it. One aspect of this self-discovery was revealed at the very end, and it didn’t seem to fit. Came straight out of left field, and left me wondering, “Huh?” Other than that, a fun, short read. One for an afternoon. At least an hour of one, anyway.

When 15-year-old Rig, a loner, discovers that his popular older sister is being stalked while away at college, he sets out to save her, with unexpected help from his divorced parents.

Monday, April 30, 2012

review: Bitterblue by Kristen Cashore

pub date: May 1, 2012
publisher: Dial
pages: 545
source: LibraryThing Early Reviewers
appeals: it's a continuation of Cashore's Graceling.
content: violence, innuendo, a lot of boring parts

I loved the book Graceling when I read it years ago. Fire, meh. I was intrigued with Bitterblue because I wanted to read about the little princess from Graceling. I was happy when I received the copy from LibraryThing, until I saw how big it was. Did you see the page count? Five-hundred-forty-five pages! A very Looooong five-hundred-forty-five pages.

I would like to say the reason I didn't enjoy the book much was because it was all so political. Bitterblue is queen of Monsea, trying to navigate a kingdom that has been deeply scarred by her father's rule. There is so much politic that I found the story Tedious to read. Yet one of my all time favorite books is The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner and that book is full of politics. I've read it at least five times, and I've never been bored with Gen's story. But Bitterblue's? A snooze fest. Maybe not the politics so much?

Maybe the fact that I didn't care for Bitterblue? I didn't dislike her, but I didn't love her either. Maybe her impossible romance with a romantic interest that I wasn't too thrilled with, either? Maybe the mystery that wasn't even a mystery until half way through and when it was apparent, kept going in circles, round and round, but never actually went anywhere? Maybe the nonexistent plot? Whatever it was, this book wasn't all that interesting to me.

Add to all of that how much I got sick of Leck and his history and Bitterblue's determination to learn more about how wicked Leck was. There were times Leck seemed like the main character of this story, not Bitterblue.

I must say that I thought the actual writing stellar, like always. Cashore is an amazing storyteller, even when the story she's telling isn't all that interesting. And she did a great job giving reminders for what happened in Graceling for those readers who read it years ago (like me), without going overboard. (Except for all of that about Leck, of course).

When I keep reading books that I should really just give up on, I have to wonder why I keep reading them. Sometimes, like in this case, I just feel like I have to complete it so I can check it off my list. And, when I get a copy for review like I did Bitterblue, it makes me that much more compelled to keep going. I really need to learn how to stop. Especially when the book is five-hundred-forty-five-freakin pages (too) long.

Eight years after Graceling, Bitterblue is now queen of Monsea. But the influence of her father, a violent psychopath with mind-altering abilities, lives on. Her advisors, who have run things since Leck died, believe in a forward-thinking plan: Pardon all who committed terrible acts under Leck’s reign, and forget anything bad ever happened. But when Bitterblue begins sneaking outside the castle—disguised and alone—to walk the streets of her own city, she starts realizing that the kingdom has been under the thirty-five-year spell of a madman, and the only way to move forward is to revisit the past.

Two thieves, who only steal what has already been stolen, change her life forever. They hold a key to the truth of Leck’s reign. And one of them, with an extreme skill called a Grace that he hasn’t yet identified, holds a key to her heart