Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Princess of Glass by Jessica Day George

Hoping to escape the troubles in her kingdom, Princess Poppy reluctantly agrees to take part in a royal exchange program, whereby young princes and princesses travel to each other's countries in the name of better political alliances—and potential marriages. It's got the makings of a fairy tale—until a hapless servant named Eleanora is tricked by a vengeful fairy godmother into competing with Poppy for the eligible prince. Ballgowns, cinders, and enchanted glass slippers fly in this romantic and action-packed happily-ever-after quest from an author with a flair for embroidering tales in her own delightful way.

Again, I've been lucky lately. I've read quite a few fantastic books in a row (with the exception of one or two books). This one was not a disappointment, which was nice since I had it on hold at the library for ages. As much as I loved Princess of the Midnight Ball, I loved this one even more. It was a much faster read. I loved the author's reinvention of the classic Cinderella story. There are no evil stepmothers or sisters. Only people who want to help. Eleanora (aka Ellen aka Lady Ella) who was once in High Society, has been reduced to a maid. She is disgruntled and seemingly vengeful as she destroys almost everything she touches. When a "godmother" seeks her out and promises to make her life better, Eleanora jumps at the chance to be a "Lady". Soon everyone but Poppy and two others have fallen under Lady Ella's enchantment and it's up to them to save Ella from a terrible fate.

I loved Poppy in this book. She has so much spirit and after reading about her and her sisters, it was fun "getting to know her better". Although this book is a completely different story, if you haven't read Princess of the Midnight Ball, I would recommend it before reading this. It makes quite a few references to it that may not be understood otherwise.

I loved almost all the characters in this book. I thought they were all well developed and gave so much more life to the story with all their different personalities. It made me laugh to read about all their varying reactions to the enchantment too. :)

Another great book from Jessica Day George. :) Happy Reading!

Nightshade by Andrea Cremer

Calla Tor has always known her destiny: After graduating from the Mountain School, she'll be the mate of sexy alpha wolf Ren Laroche and fight with him, side by side, ruling their pack and guarding sacred sites for the Keepers. But when she violates her masters' laws by saving a beautiful human boy out for a hike, Calla begins to question her fate, her existence, and the very essence of the world she has known. By following her heart, she might lose everything— including her own life. Is forbidden love worth the ultimate sacrifice?

You all know how I feel about werewolf books... cough,cough OVERDONE!, which is why I was a little surprised at how much I truly loved this book. It was so different from any other werewolf story I've come across. First of all, Calla is an alpha. Yes, a female alpha. There are Keepers and Searchers and Guardians-- and there are rules. Lots of them. No one rips out of their clothes to change to a wolf (Take that, Jacob Black). None of this gets explained right away though, so when the book began and Calla changed from wolf to human in front of the hiker she rescued, I was (naively) thinking, "Shouldn't she be a little embarrassed or trying to cover up or something? Maybe she just has an incredible body and isn't shy. Or she's overly confident. Who knows? Weird." (This was my actual thought process.)

This book is FULL of butt-kicking AND romance. Go figure, right? I thought it was so well done though. The love triangle between Ren and Calla and Shay had me so torn because they're both good guys. Usually, it's easy to hate one of them or to be fiercely attached to one or the other (Teams Edward and Peeta FOREVER!) but I found myself rooting for each of them at different times throughout the book. I'm curious to see how things progress in Wolfsbane, the second book in this series, due out next summer.

I loved this book, all except for the very end. I thought it was a little...rushed? And then it wasn't resolved very well. I get that it's supposed to be set up for a sequel, but it still felt like there was a giant build-up and then the conflict was too rushed and it just, well, ended. I guess the sequel will just have to be released ASAP so I can figure out what in the world happens! :)

Another great read! Don't bother trying to put this on hold at the library. This is one worth buying.

Happy Reading!

P.S. I don't do cover comments, but I have to say that this is by far my favorite cover of the entire year--maybe ever. So beautiful!

The Six Rules of Maybe by Deb Caletti

Scarlet spends most of her time worrying about other people. Some are her friends, others are practically strangers, and then there are the ones no else even notices. Trying to fix their lives comes naturally to her. And pushing her own needs to the side is part of the deal. So when her older sister comes home unexpectedly married and pregnant, Scarlet has a new person to worry about. But all of her good intentions are shattered when the unthinkable happens: she falls for her sister’s husband. For the first time in a long time, Scarlet’s not fixing a problem, she’s at the center of one. And ignoring her feelings doesn’t seem to be an option...

Yes, this is as weird as it sounds. Actually, thinking about it, I think the person who recommended it to me said this, "I know it sounds weird, but I loved it. You should definitely read this." Let me say, I did NOT share her enthusiasm for this book. I actually thought it was tacky and a bit offensive. Shame on Scarlet for trying to make a move on her knocked-up sister's husband. Gross. I could totally see this happening somewhere in the world as I am writing this and it makes me sick. What a messed up world! And the fact that an author can't find something better to write about bothers me.

Anyway... Yuck. This was a stupid book. (For lack of a better word.) Don't bother.

The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller

Haven Moore can't control her visions of a past with a boy called Ethan, and a life in New York that ended in fiery tragedy. In our present, she designs beautiful dresses for her classmates with her best friend Beau. Dressmaking keeps her sane, since she lives with her widowed and heartbroken mother in her tyrannical grandmother's house in Snope City, a tiny town in Tennessee. Then an impossible group of coincidences conspire to force her to flee to New York, to discover who she is, and who she was.

In New York, Haven meets Iain Morrow and is swept into an epic love affair that feels both deeply fated and terribly dangerous. Iain is suspected of murdering a rock star and Haven wonders, could he have murdered her in a past life? She visits the Ouroboros Society and discovers a murky world of reincarnation that stretches across millennia. Haven must discover the secrets hidden in her past lives, and loves¸ before all is lost and the cycle begins again.

My sister's first reaction to this book, based on the cover and title was, "You're reading another vampire book??" So let me say, no this is not a vampire book. It's actually about reincarnation. Crazy, I know. Who writes about reincarnation?? Let me tell you-- Kirsten Miller does, and she does an amazing job at it.

I loved this book. I honestly couldn't put it down. I never thought I'd get so tangled up in a story about people who have lived over and over and over, but it's an addicting book. I liked Haven's character-- she was just a teeny bit "damsel in distress-ish" which bugged me, but I overlooked it because, in her shoes, I would probably be a little wish-washy too. I liked that she took control and sought out answers instead of waiting for them to just reveal themselves.

Iain Morrow... I don't really know what to say about him. I was torn in a love/hate relationship with him throughout the entire book, which I think was the author's intention. I can't say how that love/hate relationship ended for me, because it would spoil the book. 

There were quite a few crazy twists in this book and the concept was so intriguing that by the time it was over, I was wishing I had the sequel. And there will for sure be a sequel on this one. It's totally set up to be a series, although it very easily could have been a stand alone book, had the author not added one line to the end of the book. Either way is fine with me-- although I am excited that there will be more!

This a must read! Enjoy! 

Friday, November 26, 2010

Spirit Bound by Richelle Mead

Salvation has its price.

The words stunned Adrian for a moment, but he kept going. "You're lying. What you're describing is impossible. There's no way to save a Strigoi. When they're gone, they're gone. They're dead. Undead. Forever."

Robert's next words weren't directed at Adrian. They were spoken to me. "That which is dead doesn't always stay dead...."

After a long and heartbreaking journey to Dimitri’s birthplace in Siberia, Rose Hathaway has finally returned to St. Vladimir’s—and to her best friend, Lissa Dragomir. It's graduation, and the girls can’t wait for their real lives outside of the Academy’s cold iron gates to finally begin. But even with the intrigue and excitement of court life looming, Rose’s heart still aches for Dimitri. He's out there, somewhere.

She failed to kill him when she had the chance, and now her worst fears are about to come true. Dimitri has tasted her blood, and she knows in her heart that he is hunting her. And if Rose won't join him, he won't rest until he's silenced her...forever.

But Rose can't forget what she learned on her journey—whispers of a magic too impossible and terrifying to comprehend. A magic inextricably tied to Lissa that could hold the answer to all of Rose's prayers, but not without devastating consequences. Now Rose will have to decide what—and who—matters most to her. In the end, is true love really worth the price?

Fall in love with Rose and Dimitri all over again in Spirit Bound, the eagerly awaited fifth novel in Richelle Mead's enthralling Vampire Academy series.

I am still trying to figure out who in the world that's supposed to be on the cover. Dimitri is described as having long hair. Rose has almost black hair. The guy could be Christian, but Lissa has super blond hair. Who knows. It's a mystery. Maybe it's supposed to be Rose and Adrian? But that's too weird for me.

Anyway, on to the book. Loved it. Not a big surprise. :)

I am dying for the last one! I want to know how the Rose/Dimitri/Adrian and Lissa/Christian stories end.

I think I might have said this before, but READ THESE! haha

Blood Promise by Richelle Mead

After the massacre at Vampire Academy, Rose Hathaway faces the most daunting task of her life and she knows that she must do it alone. With Mason departed for the other world, Rose must hunt down and kill Dimitri Belikov, the man she most loves. The fourth nail-biting episode of Richelle Mead's popular vampire series dramatically shows the fatal power of a promise.

Poor Dimitri... :( I loved him, and now I feel guilty because I still love him. I want there to be hope for him and Rose! I was on the edge of my seat the whole time I read this book. I was trying to figure out how in the world this major mess would get fixed. With Rose halfway across the world, Lissa makes new friends and bad choices. When it comes down to life and death for Lissa, Rose is half out of her mind too. Then, at the end of the book, when you think things have finally gotten as resolved as they can, Rose gets a bombshell from her mom and a letter that changes everything.

I read one of these books and think "This one is my favorite!". Then I read the next one. :)

If you haven't started this series, get on it!

Shadow Kiss by Richelle Mead

For Rose Hathaway, everything seems out of kilter. Ever since she made her first Strigoi kills, a dark shadow has been creeping over her. Looming in the background, too, is another realization: If she follows her forbidden love for guardian Dimitri Belikov, she might lose her best friend forever. And these sleep-shaking worries couldn't have come at a worse time. The immortal unloving are prowling everywhere, famished for vengeance against her.

This book picks up a few weeks after Mason's death and Rose is still dealing with his loss. I have to say, when Mason died in Frostbite, I was shocked! I wasn't expecting it, so this book was weird-- I had to get used to him not being in it. Also, I was so happy about Rose and Dimitri at the end of the last book, and then it's back to them avoiding each other in this one. Although, I have to say, I was hooked from the first line in this book. Poor Rose. If only she could get out of Lissa's head. haha

By the end of this book, I was broken-hearted...yet again. Another GIGANTIC and morbid twist left me completely shocked. The more I read this series, the more I can't put them down. I just love Rose. She's so sassy, and she can definitely hold her own.

Luckily I had the next book in the series on hand as soon as I finished this, so I couldn't stop myself from immediately picking it up. It was THAT BIG of a cliffhanger-- the saddest one yet.

It's like a giant rollercoaster of emotions, but in a good way. :)

My Ridiculous, Romantic Obessions by Becca Wilhite

Sarah Howard's first year at the university is everything and nothing she expected especially when a very cute boy named Ben in her Art History class starts to show interest in her.

Sarah feels like she's an average, normal, everyday girl. So, when Ben (to whom she secretly refers as Adonis because she thinks he could be a Greek god) begins to take interest in her, Sarah is in denial. For one thing, last year she was deeply crushed and humiliated by Jesse James a guy who she thought liked her.
She's determined not to get burned again. But in her heart of hearts, what she really wants is a Jane Austen kind of romance. Ridiculous, right? That kind of romance doesn t exist anymore . . . or does it? Sarah is smart and fun to be around and even pretty, despite her Medusa-like red curls. She even plays the guitar. (So does Ben!) Yes, Sarah is everything Ben has wanted. He's crazy for her, but Sarah is just not getting it. She's playing hard to get, and if she s not careful, she s going to lose a real hot gentleman -- her 21st-century Mr. Darcy.

I went to the library the other night to pick up a few books that I had on hold. After I got them, I figured I would roam around for a bit and look at books. I don't do this very often, but I didn't have my kids with me, so I decided to take advantage of it. I found this book. I loved it.

This was a really short book, maybe 200 pages? It was a cute story too. Sarah meets Ben -aka- "Adonis" (I laughed out loud when she called him that) and they become friends. Ben continually tries to make moves and Sarah just doesn't get it. He gives up and she realizes what she lost.

It's a classic story of "dumb" girl who doesn't believe a gorgeous guy would want her. There were a few bumps in the road that I didn't expect and that either broke my heart or made me laugh out loud, which made this book stand out for me. I really liked both Ben and Sarah's characters-- and Sarah's zany co-worker who is super smart but still says goofy, out-there things at random moments.

It's a clean, cute read, and even though it's not very long, it has a little bit of everything.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Wizard, the Witch and Two Girls from Jersey by Lisa Papademetriou

When mortal enemies Veronica Lopez and Heather Simms get hit by a bar code scanner while fighting over the last copy of Queen of Twilight, it takes them a moment to realize that they aren't in a New Jersey bookstore anymore. In fact, they're in the novel. Too bad they don't realize it until after they accidentally kill the book's heroine, Princess Arabelle, aka "The One." Only The One can restore light and peace to the land of Galma, long held in thrall to the evil Twilight Queen. Now Vero and Heather have no choice but to try to save Galma from the Twilight Queen. But can the two girls find their way to the end of the story and home again without destroying Galma or killing each other?

I happened across this book a couple of months ago at the library, and it sounded funny so I brought it home. It's been gathering dust, and been renewed a few times since then so I figured I should probably finally read it. I actually liked this book. (No, I'm not surprised.) It was a little slow but it had enough humor to keep me reading. I thought it was amusing to read a kinof-fantasy book kind of make fun of fantasy books. I guess not so much the books themselves, but the WAY they are written. Anyway, this was a cute book that I would recommend to just about anyone. :)

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Everafter by Amy Huntley

Madison Stanton doesn't know where she is or how she got there. But she does know this - she is dead. And alone in a vast, dark space. The only company Maddy has in this place are luminescent objects that turn out to be all the things she lost while she was alive. And soon she discovers that, with these artifacts, she can reexperience - and even change - moments from her life.

Her first kiss.

A trip to Disney World.

Her sister's wedding.

A disastrous sleepover.

In reliving these moments, Maddy learns illuminating and frightening truths about her life - and death.

I've been really lucky. I've read quite a few really good books in a row. That doesn't happen very often. This was another one of those books that I just really couldn't put down. I can't stop thinking about it. It was another concept that I really liked. How many times have you read a book and thought "I want to know more about this person's life. I wish I had some background info." I do it all the time. Since Maddy is dead, and revisiting moments in her life, you get to really see her grow up. She doesn't visit these moments in order. One moment she'll be 17 and the next memory will be when she's 8.

I loved reading about her relationship with her sister go from hate to love over the years. How she met Gabe. The Daddy-Daughter Dance. Buying baby shoes. Remembering her mom.

Then the moments leading up to her death.

This book sucked me in, and like I said, I can't stop thinking about it. This is one to definitely put on your to-read list.

Being Sixteen by Allyson Braithwaite Condie

Juliet Kendall has been looking forward to her sixteenth birthday for what feels like forever. At first, it seems like being sixteen will be as perfect as she dreamed---she has great friends, a cute almost-boyfriend, a spot on the varsity girls' basketball team, and even a car of her own. But, as the year goes on, she discovers that her sister Carly is hiding a secret, and realizes that, in fact, being sixteen may be her hardest year yet.

Being Sixteen is a coming-of-age story about two sisters and their different struggles. It addresses what it means to have a testimony, what it meant to be a friend and a sister, and what's involved in the dealing with and overcoming an eating disorder.

So, I haven't really been a fan of LDS fiction for a while now. Not that there is anything wrong with it, I just feel like I've read the same exact story about a million times told by so many different authors. It just got... old. So I stopped reading them.

This book was so completely different from any LDS fiction I've read. I actually really liked this book. I liked that it talked about REAL things. Real struggles that real girls have. As a member of the LDS church, I looked at age sixteen much as Juliet does. It was when I finally got to experience life. ;) Driving, dating, high school dances (and high school drama), etc. And much like Juliet also realizes, 16 wasn't all that it was cracked up to be.

I could also relate to Carly in this book and my heart broke for her and her family. What girl doesn't know what it's like to have body issues? I remember when I was in Jr. High... puberty hit and my body started changing. It sucked. I had gone from having a tiny little-girl body to having a more grown-up hourglass figure, and  although I was still thin, it bothered me. One day at lunch, a guy I had a huge crush on made a not-so-nice comment about my "curves". I was devastated. From that day on, for a very long time, I wouldn't eat around anyone. I never ate school lunch. I wouldn't eat meals with my family. I really didn't eat much ever. I don't remember what finally made me change. Maybe it was once I hit High School and really just didn't care anymore. Maybe it was that the girls all had "curves" like me by then. I don't know. But I am so glad I let all of my (major) body issues go. I don't know if I know a single person, men included, who look in the mirror and are 100% content with how they look.

I love that someone (Ally Condie rocks!) had the guts to address this issue that is so much bigger than we all think. It is SO HARD being a teenager. And yes, I know not everyone ends up with an eating disorder, but it's one of those ugly things that no one ever wants to talk about so it gets swept under the rug and everyone pretends it doesn't exist. Especially with Bulemia. I applaude Ally Condie for taking on the huge task in such a respectful way.

I think mothers, daughters, sisters-- women in general should read this book. And then let your body issues go. :)

Incarceron by Catherine Fisher

Incarceron -- a futuristic prison, sealed from view, where the descendants of the original prisoners live in a dark world torn by rivalry and savagery. It is a terrifying mix of high technology -- a living building which pervades the novel as an ever-watchful, ever-vengeful character, and a typical medieval torture chamber -- chains, great halls, dungeons. A young prisoner, Finn, has haunting visions of an earlier life, and cannot believe he was born here and has always been here. In the outer world, Claudia, daughter of the Warden of Incarceron, is trapped in her own form of prison -- a futuristic world constructed beautifully to look like a past era, an imminent marriage she dreads. She knows nothing of Incarceron, except that it exists. But there comes a moment when Finn, inside Incarceron, and Claudia, outside, simultaneously find a device -- a crystal key, through which they can talk to each other. And so the plan for Finn's escape is born ...

Can I just say wow?

I LOVED this book. I thought it was brilliantly written with intriguing characters. From the very first chapter, I didn't want to put this book down. It took me about a week to get through it-- but that's not because it has a slow storyline. It's just such a great, new, different concept-- a prison with a mind of its own. I wanted to process it all and make sure I didn't miss anything vital. And trust me. EVERYTHING is vital. Some parts were (I think) purposely predictable although there were quite a few things that I could never have guessed. I just... loved this book. If you like fantasy and you are sick-to-death of werewolves and vampires, this is the book for you.

I can't wait to read book two, Sapphique. It's sitting on my dresser begging to be picked up! :)


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Parade of Shadows by Gloria Whelan

Sixteen-year-old Julia Hamilton is restless. Determined not to be left behind again—stuck in the cold house where her mother died ten years earlier, with only her dreams to keep her company—Julia begs her father to take her with him on his next expedition. When he unexpectedly agrees, Julia is intrigued. Will this be her chance at adventure and romance?

Traveling across the sands of the ancient world known as the Levant, Julia meets a French antiques collector, a British horticulturist, and a dashing young student—each harboring secrets as elusive as a mirage.

As she learns more about her companions and the dangerous world she's in, Julia must decide whom she can trust . . . and what she is willing to fight for.

Sounds intriguing, huh?? It was an interesting book, but slow and incredibly predictable. It is set in the early 1900s, starting in London, Julia joins her father on a trip through Syria where they come across all kinds of trouble. I knew from the moment strange things started happening, who the culprit was. So, like I said, it was a predictable book, but it was fascinating to see life through the eyes of someone who thought she led a strict, closed-off life and experience the change as she realizes she has much more freedom than most. All in all, it's a good read. I would recommend this. Just plan a week around reading it! :)

Frostbite by Richelle Mead

Rose Hathaway's got serious guy trouble. Her gorgeous tutor Dimitri has his eye on someone else, her friend Mason has a huge crush on her, she keeps getting stuck in her best friend Lissa's head while she's making out with her boyfriend, Christian.

Then a massive Strigoi attack puts St. Vladmir's on high alert, and the Academy crawls with Guardians-including the legendary Janine Hathaway...Rose's formidable, long-absent mother. The Strigoi are closing in, and the Academy's not taking any risks. This year, St. Vladmir's holiday ski trip is mandatory.

But the glittering winter landscape and the posh Idaho resort only provide the illusion of safety. When three students run away to strike back against the deadly Strigoi, Rose must join forces with Christian to rescue them. Only this time, Rose-and her heart-are in more danger than she ever could have imagined.

I really liked this book. Even better than book one, Vampire Academy. I liked that it had more drama (for lack of a better word) and more trouble (again, for lack of a better word). I love, love, love Rose's kick-butt character. Let me tell you, she gets her "sass" from her mother, who you'll meet in this book. I liked Christian more in this book, and Dimitri less... until the end when Dimitri got major browine points. :) Anyway, a great sequel and I can't wait to read the next in this series!

Happy Reading!