Friday, May 31, 2013

review: TOMORROW, WHEN THE WAR BEGAN by John Marsden

TOMORROW, WHEN THE WAR BEGAN
by John Marsden
Series: Tomorrow #1
Publisher: Scholastic (US)
Released: 1993
Source: Bookstore
Page Count: 304

Rating: Loved it!

THIS IS WHERE THE END BEGINS.

When Ellie and her friends go camping, they have no idea they're leaving their old lives behind forever. Despite a less-than-tragic food shortage and a secret crush or two, everything goes as planned. But a week later they return home to find their houses empty and their pets starving. Something has gone wrong - horribly wrong. Before long, they realize the country has been invaded, and their entire town has been captured - including their families and all their friends.

Ellie and the other survivors face an impossible decision: They can flee for the mountains or surrender. Or they can fight.

My Thoughts

This is at least the third or fourth time I've read this book over the years, but I've been dying to re-read this series ever since I watched the movie. Tomorrow gets better with every read.

For those of you who aren't familiar with the book, here's a quick rundown of the story: Ellie and Corrie, best friends since childhood, decide to get a bunch of their friends together for a campout deep in the bush before going back to school. Everything is going swimmingly . . . until they arrive home to find that the entire city is gone, no electricity, pets and livestock starved to death. Eventually, they discover that the country has been invaded, and their families are all being imprisoned by enemy soldiers at the Showground. They must decide whether they will try to wait out the war in their hidden campground or fight to take back Wirawee.

This book never fails to tug at the heartstrings. Written from Ellie's point of view in flashback form, the reader really gets into Ellie's head and experiences the victories and trials along with her. John Marsden is not afraid to make the characters as real as possible, nor is he unwilling to put them into harm's way. This is a terribly realistic portrayal of war and how this group of teenagers tries - sometimes successfully, othertimes not so much - to step up to the plate and fight for their country.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

review: FINDING SKY by Joss Stirling

FINDING SKY by Joss Stirling
Series: Benedicts #1)
Oxford University Press
Released: October 7, 2010
Source: Amazon UK
Page Count: 320

Rating: Really liked it!

Discovering your soulmate has never been so dangerous.

"You have half our gifts, I have the other . . . "

When English girl, Sky, catches a flimpse of bad boy Zed in her new American high school, she can't get him out of her head. He talks to her with his thoughts. He reads her mind. He is the boy she will love forever. Shadows stalk her past but a new evil threatens her future. Sky must face the dark even if it means losing her heart.

My Thoughts

After reading a number of glowing reviews, the latest of which being Sarah's at Feeling Fictional, I finally broke down and placed an order through Amazon UK. (There will be a few more UK books reviewed on this site, as I figured that if I'm already paying for shipping, I might as well get a few more!) And I am so glad I did! This was a great book.

I've mentioned this before, but I am adopted and love reading about well-written adopted characters. Though I was a little disappointed with Sky's parents, Sky herself is an honest portrayal of a wounded, adopted child who is still working through her memories of abuse and abandonment. I was lucky enough not to have to go through any of that, but I have a friend who did, and Sky's personality and actions perfectly mirrored those of that friend. Kudos to Joss Stirling for tacking such a difficult subject with aplomb.

One of my favorite quotes came right in the beginning of the book. "I'd seen plenty of films about American schools and was feeling more than a little insecure about my new place of education . . . I'd never fit in if the movies turned out to be true." That was exactly how I felt on my first day of high school! Thankfully, a lot of kids were just as nerdy, if not more so, than I was. I also loved Sky's neighbor, Mrs. Hoffman, who is described as "not requir[ing] anyone else to participate in her conversations." She reminded me of my favorite Brit - my nan, who is a hairdresser and can talk incessantly for hours. Ironically, a page later she is described as being not very British, but it still made my day!

It was refreshing to read a book wherein the main female protagonist does not immediately fall head over heels, always and forever, nauseatingly in love with the male protagonist. I loved that Sky fought to maintain her independence and did not immediately believe everything Zed told her. Sure, he's a sweet guy (... eventually), but that doesn't mean she has to lose herself in him! I hope more authors writing with a female audience in mind will pick up this trend in the future, as girls need more strong literary role models like Sky.

I found the pacing to be a little off about 2/3 of the way through the book - after a major action sequence, Sky kind of goes off into la-la land for a little while. Though her state of mind was understandable, it was a little jarring to go from tension-action-drama to such a lull in the action. Another issue was the dialogue. The Americans did not sound at all authentic. I wish that authors would work with someone from whatever culture they're trying to write in order to make the dialogue sound more authentic! (Before anyone says anything, I am including American writers as well. I know how bad they sound trying to write non-American characters.) Honestly, though, these were the only issues I had with the book, and for the most part it's easy to gloss over them.

I can't wait to read more from Joss Stirling! The sequel, Stealing Phoenix, will be out this fall - at least in the UK, you lucky ducks!

Monday, May 27, 2013

review: CLARITY by Kim Harrington

CLARITY by Kim Harrington
Series: Clarity #1
Scholastic: Scholastic Point
Released: March 1, 2011
Source: Bookstore
Page Count: 246

Rating: Loved it!

DON'T CLOSE YOUR EYES.

Clarity "Clare" Fern sees things. Things no one else can see. Things like stolen kisses and long-buried secrets. All she has to do is touch a certain object, and the vision comes to her. It's a gift.

And a curse.

When a teenage girl is found murdered, Clare's ex-boyfriend wants her to help solve the case - but Clare is still furious at the cheating jerk. Then Clare's brother, who has supernatural gifts of his own, becomes the prime suspect, and Clare can no longer look away. Teaming up with Gabriel, the smoldering son of the new detective, Clare must venture into the depths of fear, revenge, and lust in order to track the killer. But will her sight fail her just when she needs it most?

EXCEPT WHEN THE TRUTH IS TOO DARK TO BEAR.

My Thoughts

Clarity is Veronica Mars meets The Profiler, with a generous heaping of awesomesauce on top. I did a little dance when it finally arrived on my doorstep (much to the chagrin of the mailman, I'm sure) and read it as soon as I finished up my current read. In the hour and change that it took to race through it, Clarity took me on a roller coaster ride of emotions, and I haven't quite recovered from it yet. (Should she choose Gabriel? Can she look beyond her past with Justin? I DON'T KNOW! Ahh!) All I know is that I really want to read it again right now!

Clarity is a fantastic read, and it's not too paranormal-y. (Blasphemous? Yes. But still true.) This is a great book if you need a break from hardcore paranormals - i.e. I just wrapped up a somewhat gross zombie story,  and Clarity was a perfect contrast. Anyway, I would argue that the main focus is on the investigation, and Clare's visions are a necessary side story to move along the plot. That said, I would also bet that the paranormal aspect will become more featured in book two, and maybe we'll meet some of the more mysterious figures in Clare's family tree.

So if you get anything out of this review, it should be this: Clarity is awesome. Go grab a copy, stat!!!

Then we can discuss which couple we're going to ship . . . :)

Friday, May 24, 2013

review: MEMENTO NORA by Angie Smibert

MEMENTO NORA by Angie Smibert
Series: Memento Nora #1
Marshall Cavendish: Children's Books
Released: April 1, 2011
Source: Star Book Tours
Page Count: 184

Rating: Really liked it!

FORGET YOUR CARES AT TFC

On an otherwise glossy day, a blast goes off and a body thuds to the ground at Nora's feet. There are terrorist attacks in the city all the time, but Nora can't forget. So Nora goes with her mother to TFC - a Theraputic Forgetting Clinic. There, she can describe her horrible memory and take the pill that will erase it. But at TFC, a chance encounter with a mysterious guy changes Nora's life. She doesn't take the pill. And when Nora learns the memory her mother has chosen to forget, she realizes that someone needs to remember.

With newfound friends Micah and Winter, Nora makes a comic book of their memories called Memento. Memento is an instant hit, but it sets off a dangerous chain of events. Will Nora, Micah, and Winter be forced to take the Big Pill that will erase their memories forever?

My Thoughts

I was a little disappointed at the size of this book when I received it - the ARC is only 184 pages. How can a book that size possibly be any good? When it's written by Angie Smibert, of course!

Nora is just your average preppy girl - until she witnesses a bombing and sees a man killed before her eyes. Plagued by her dreams of the incident, she goes with her mother to the Theraputic Forgetting Clinic to take a pill and make it all go away. In the waiting room, she sees a boy from her school who writes the word "memento" on the cast on his arm and later signals to her that she shouldn't take her pill. Nora does just that - spits out the pill that's supposed to make all her troubles vanish - and her life changes forever. Because now she knows what her mother has been forgetting during her regular visits to the TFC. And now she's inextricably tied to Micah because of their shared experience and the comic book that they have created to help preserve their memories. How far is she willing to go to defy society and protect her friends?

Memento Nora was a surprisingly good read and covers a lot of heavy topics in such a small volume - censorship, domestic violents, terrorism, The Underground, the medicinal culture that tells us to take a pill for all our problems. Nora, Micah, and their friend Winter are all, again somewhat surprisingly, sympathetic characters. I do wish that the story had been drawn out a little longer, maybe exploring the characters' backgrounds a little more thoroughly, but otherwise it was good. The ending threw me for a loop, but it was perfect for the story. I am greatly looking forward to reading the sequel!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

review: THE DRAGON MASTER by Allyson James

THE DRAGON MASTER by Allyson James
Series: Dragon #3
Penguin: Berkley Sensation
Released: November 4, 2008
Source: Bookstore
Page Count: 281

Rating: Liked it

Carol Juan never really believed in her grandmother's old-world tales of dragons and legends . . .

. . . until she was set upon by a wildly sensual man sporting a blazing red mane - and nothing else. He is Seth, a fire dragon summoned into this world by a dangerous mage who is seeking to ignite his own evil ends by devouring Seth's fiery powers. What the fire dragon seeks is a life mate, a human female who can help him to explore the pleasures of the flesh.

Seth inflames more in Carol than the untapped magic surging inside her - and only she can save him from the mysterious mage who is guarded by an equally sinister cabal. Arousing Carol's latent Dragon Master powers is only the beginning. Now she must risk her own life to save the fire dragon lost in her world - the man she has come to love and desire.

My Thoughts

I loved the first two books in the series, but this one I had a hard time connecting with. This was probably because Carol was a lesser secondary character in the first two books, and Seth was not in them at all. Unlike with Malcolm and Saba in The Black Dragon, I had no prior attachment to Carol and Seth.

That said, James is a master of the paranormal, and dragons in particular. This series has only confirmed her place on my list of auto-buy authors! Dragon romances are few and far between, but she manages to pull it off really well without going into the realm of unbelievable. (Well, after taking out the whole dragon bit!) The whole backstory of The Order of the Black Lotus, Carol's mother, the Dragon Master, and even Seth's past experiences, was expertly interwoven with present-day suspense to create a sexy, action-packed romance. I can't stress enough that lovers of unique paranormal storylines will love this series!

It was incredibly disappointing to discover that this is the last in James's Dragon series. Hopefully one day she will return to this world so we can fall in love with the characters all over again. Until then, well, I'll just have to console myself with her backlist of other amazing books.

Note on the author: Allyson James is the author of one of my favorite urban fantasies, Stormwalker. She has also written a ton of other great romances under the name Jennifer Ashley. If you haven't yet read anything by her, make sure to put her on your check-out-soon list!

Monday, May 20, 2013

review: ENTWINED by Heather Dixon

ENTWINED by Heather Dixon
HarperCollins: Greenwillow Books
Released: March 29, 2011
Source: Star Book Tours
Page Count: 472

Rating: Really liked it!

Azalea and her younger sisters dance in the mysterious silver forest every night, escaping from the sadness of the palace and their father's grief. What they don't understand - although as time passes they begin to get an inkling of the danger they are in - is that the mysterious and dashing Keeper is tightening his snare with deadly purpose. Lush, romantic, and compelling, this debut novel by Heather Dixon will thrill fans of Shannon Hale, Robin McKinley, and Edith Pattou.

My Thoughts

Entwined is a retelling of the Brothers Grimm tale of The Twelve Dancing Princesses. Wikipedia has an overview of the original tale here. The girls are all named after flowers in Dixon's version - Azalea, Bramble, Clover, Delphinium, Evening Primrose, Flora, Goldenrod, Hollyhock, Ivy, Jessamine, Kale, and Lily. Azalea, as the oldest, is left in charge of her eleven sisters after their mother dies and their father, the king, leaves for war in a distant land. The girls are left all alone save for Mr. Pudding, who works for the household, and are forbidden to leave the castle, for they are a house of mourning for the next year. The worst part, even worse than the all-black clothing and the darkened windows, is that they are also forbidden to dance. When Azalea discovers a secret passage that leads to one Mr. Keeper and his dancing pavillion, the girls think that they have hit the jackpot. As time goes on, though, Azalea learns that Mr. Keeper is not the nice man they all thought he was - in fact, he is downright scary. And she doesn't know if she can keep her sisters and herself out of his clutches much longer.

I thought Dixon handled this retelling fantastically. Fairytale retellings are often overdone, with the author either straying way too far from the original tale or not straying enough to really consider it a separate story. Entwined, though, dances perfectly on that delicate line. Azalea isn't quite your typical princess - while she does have a few fainting spells here and there, she is in no way weak-willed and in fact has quite a fiery spirit. She has to be strong for her sisters, who are all also strong-willed like her. Fans of Robin McKinley should enjoy this novel.

Friday, May 17, 2013

review: WICKED LOVELY by Melissa Marr

WICKED LOVELY by Melissa Marr
Series: Wicked Lovely #1
HarperCollins: Harper Teen
Released: June 12, 2007
Source: Bookstore
Page Count: 328

Rating: Really liked it!

RULE #3: Don't stare at invisible faeries.
Aislinn has always seen faeries. Powerful and dangerous, they walk hidden in the mortal world. Aislinn fears their cruelty - especially if they learn of her Sight - and wishes she were as blind to their presence as other teens.

RULE #2: Don't speak to invisible faeries.
Now faeries are stalking her. One of them, Keenan, who is equal parts terrifying and alluring, is trying to talk to her, asking questions Aislinn is afraid to answer.

RULE #1: Don't ever attract their attention.
But it's too late. Keenan is the Summer King, who has sought his queen for nine centuries. Without her, summer itself will perish. He is determined that Aislinn will become the Summer Queen at any cost - regardless of her plans or desires.

Suddenly none of the rules that have kept Aislinn safe are working anymore, and everything is on the line: her freedom; her best friend, Seth; her life, everything.

Faery intrigue, mortal love, and the clash of ancient rules and modern expectations swirl together in Melissa Marr's stunning twenty-first-century fairy tale.

My Thoughts

I had been putting off reading Wicked Lovely for a long time, because I just don't seem to get into faery books. The only real exception to this rule is Anya Bast's Enchantment series, but that one's definitely for adults. Young adult faery books never seem to do anything for me.

Wicked Lovely, however, may have converted me - at least for this series. Melissa Marr has created a world in which the humans don't always have to bend completely to the faeries' will, and that makes it much more appealing. Aislinn is a strong character, and she is not willing to sacrifice herself, her love, and her plans for her future in order to "do the right thing" and save the Summer Court. She realizes that it's something that must be done, but she's not willing to lose herself in the process. That alone makes her a much better role model than a lot of the female protagonists out there in today's young adult paranormal literature.

I'm still not likely to jump into the faery subgenre with gusto, but Marr's series has piqued my interest. Once my backordered copy of Fragile Eternity arrives (what can I say, I'm a hardcover snob!), I plan on reading the rest of the series as soon as possible.

By the way, did anyone else know that Wicked Lovely is going to be a movie? Maybe I've been living under a rock (again), but that's pretty exciting!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

review: HAVEN by Kristi Cook

HAVEN by Kristi Cook
Series: Winterhaven #1
Simon & Schuster: Simon Pulse
Released: February 22, 2011
Source: Bookstore
Page Count: 401

Rating: Liked it

DESTINY BROUGHT THEM TOGETHER. NOW IT WILL TEAR THEM APART.

Violet doesn't understand why she feels drawn to the Winterhaven School. She just knows it's the right place for her. When she discovers the school's secret, it all makes sense: Everyone at Winterhaven has psychic gifts., For the first time in her life, Violet doesn't have to hide her visions. She's always seen them as a curse, but now she can hone her ability and try to control it.

But she's thrown completely off balance when she meets the most alluring - and most mysterious - boy in school. She's never connected with anyone the way she does with Aidan, and the intensity takes them both by surprise. But as their relationship deepens, she begins to have visions of Aidan's death - and sees that she's the one who's fated to kill him.

Violet's never been able to prevent her visions from coming true. But this time, she'll do whatever it takes . . . even if it means sacrificing herself for the boy she loves.

My Thoughts

When her stepmother - the only parent she has left - is transferred to New York, Violet is given a choice: she can either live with her grandmother in Atlanta or attend the Winterhaven School in New York. She doesn't want to be a burden on her grandmother, and she's drawn to Winterhaven. After her first day, though, she discovers that Winterhaven isn't just a boarding school - it's a haven for kids with paranormal abilities. For once, she will be able to live a normal life without everyone around her calling her a freak.

Haven is a great book and a very fast and compelling read, but it is also incredibly derivative. There are definitely major themes from Twilight and Buffy, with a dash of Vampire Diaries tossed in to boot. If you can look past all of this to see the original compilation beneath it all, then you will enjoy the novel. Otherwise, it may not be for you.

Monday, May 13, 2013

review: SO SHELLY by Ty Roth

SO SHELLY by Ty Roth
Random House: Delacorte Press
Released: February 8, 2011
Source: Princess Bookie ARC Tours
Page Count: 336

Rating: Didn't like it

High school junior John Keats has only tiptoes near the edge of the vortex that is Gordon Byron, schoolmate and literary prodigy. That is, until their mutual friend, Michelle "Shelly" Shelley, drowns in a sailing "accident."

After stealing Shelly's ashes from her memorial at Trinity High, Keats and Gordon set on a course for the small Lake Erie island where her body washed ashore, and where she wanted to be laid to rest. Granting her last wish would be Keats and Gordon's way of letting their friend have one final "so Shelly" romantic journey. As they make their way to Lake Erie, navigating obstacles and resisting temptations, Keats and Gordon flue together the shattered pieces of Shelly's and their own pasts while attempting to make sense of her premature death.

Ty Roth plunges into uncharted waters as he cleverly transforms poets Keats, Byron, and Shelley into present-day high school students. Sometime tragic, always outrageous, So Shelly captures the indomitable spirit of Romanticism.


My Thoughts
This book was really not my style. The blurb that I read when I signed up for the tour left out the last paragraph of the description above, so I was expecting something more high school-ish, not the incredibly disturbing and intense dissection of Shelly and Gordon's lives that it turned out to be. Honestly, the only reason I finished this book was because I wanted to know if the story could get any more depraved (... which it did).

Tough topics are one thing, but shock value for the sake of shock value - and allowing it because the person is artistic and/or has money - doesn't to anything for me. Those who are interested in the poets named above may be interested in this book. Otherwise, I personally wouldn't recommend it.

Friday, May 10, 2013

review: WITHER by Lauren DeStefano

WITHER by Lauren DeStefano
Series: The Chemical Garden #1
Simon & Schuster: Books for Young Readers
Released: March 22, 2011
Source: Star Book Tours
Page Count: 358

Rating: Loved it!

In the not-too-distant future, because of genetic engineering, every human is a ticking time bomb - males only live to age twenty-five, and Females only live to age twenty. To keep the population from dying out, girls are kidnapped and sold into polygamous marriages.

When sixteen-year-old Rhine is taken, she enters a world of wealth and privilege that both entices and terrifies her. She has everything she ever wanted - except freedom. With the help of Gabriel, a servant Rhine is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to escape before it is too late.

My Thoughts

Rhine spent her whole life being protected by her twin brother from the Gatherers, but one mistake lands her in a van with a bunch of other young girls, waiting to see if they are chosen to be a bride. She doesn't want to be a bride - the idea of having no freedom and being forced to churn out as many babies as she can before the arrival of her twentieth birthday sickens her - but it's better than being shot and left for dead on the side of the road. Rhine is chosen and wakes up a couple of days later in a mansion, living on the same floor as the two new brides. So begins her new life.

I had been anxiously waiting to get my hands on a copy of this book ever since I read the sneak peek at Simon & Schuster (link below) back in September. I finally received an ARC from a book tour on the day after Thanksgiving and promptly put down what I was reading to devour it. Wow, is this book fantastic! I had absurdly high hopes for Wither, and it now only met but exceeded my expectations. This is one of the best dystopians I have read in a long time. It's a little more psychological than action-packed, but DeStefano still manages to pack in twists and turns around every corner. If you like dystopian novels or books with understated social commentary, Wither is the book for you!

You can get a sneak peek at the first chapter of Wither here. Book 2 of the Chemical Garden trilogy will be released in spring 2012.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

review: THOSE THAT WAKE by Jesse Karp

THOSE THAT WAKE by Jesse Karp
Series: Those That Wake #1
HMH: Harcourt Children's Books
Released: March 21, 2011
Source: Blogger Trade
Page Count: 336

Rating: It was okay

People walk the streets of New York City with their heads down and their eyes averted, withdrawing from each other and into the cold comfort of technology.

Teenagers Mal and Laura have grown up in this new reality: Mal in the city, part of the foster care system; Laura in the suburbs, loved and protected. They’ve never met. Seemingly, they never will.

But then their worlds shift. On the same day Mal learns his estranged brothers has disappeared, Laura discovers that her parents have inexplicably forgotten her. Both begin a search for their families that leads them to the same terrifying truth: someone or something has wiped the two teenagers from the memories of every single person they have ever known. Thrown together, Mal and Laura must find common ground if they are going to reclaim a past that was stolen from them – and create a future no one can take away.

Melding a page-turning thriller with a message of hope in the face of adversity, Jesse Karp’s Those That Wake is a startling debut novel that explores themes of identity and conspiracy and examines the unimaginable influence of faceless corporations.

My Thoughts

I wanted to like this book! Dystopia is on of my favorite genres, and Those That Wake seemed to have it all. In execution, though, it fell far short of the mark.

The backcover blurb promised much more than the story delivered. First off, Mal and Laura's stories don't intertwine until about 120 pages in. Second, the two have no issues with each other and actually take to each other quite quickly, so there is no working together to "find common ground." And most importantly, the ending of this story is so ridiculously convoluted (The Matrix, anyone?) that there really is no message of hope, because that would require something that actually makes sense.

I know it's silly to feel cheated by a book, but I was just so excited to read it and then was so let down by the ending - or rather, the last 2/3 - of the book. It had lots of great ideas, but none of them were sufficiently fleshed out. The author tried too hard to be cool and only ended up with a confusing story. This is not something that I would recommend.

Monday, May 06, 2013

review: TRAPPED by Michael Northrup

TRAPPED by Michael Northrup
Scholastic: Scholastic Press
Released: January 1, 2011
Source: FirstReads
Page Count: 232

Rating: Really liked it!

The day the blizzard started, no one knew that it was going to keep snowing for a week. That for those in its path, it would become not just a matter of keeping warm, but of staying alive . . .

Scotty and his friends Pete and Jason are among the last seven kids at their high school waiting to get picked up that day, and they soon realize that no one is coming for them. Still, it doesn't seem so bad to spend the night at school, especially when distractingly hot Krista and Julie are sleeping just down the hall. But then the power goes out, then the heat. The pipes freeze, and the roof shudders. As the days add up, the snow piles higher, and the empty halls grow colder and darker, the mounting pressure forces a devastating decision . . .

My Thoughts

I was so excited to win a copy of Trapped from Scholastic's FirstReads contest on Goodreads! I had signed up for an ARC tour but there were still 9 or so others ahead of me, and I was dying to read this book.

First thought after finishing Trapped: It had better stop snowing soon! I unintentionally picked the worst day to read this book. The temperature swung from the 40s range down into the 20s, and the skies quite suddenly dumped about 8" of snow in the area. Being from Michigan, I am used to dealing with snow, but it's always a big bummer when the weather clears and all the snow melts, just to have it pile up again!

Anyway, back to the book. Trapped reminded me of a couple of my favorite survival books: Hatchet by Gary Paulsen and Tomorrow, When the War Began by John Marsden. Though Scotty is not alone like Brian is in Hatchet, he still has to muster his strength and courage to get out of the situation alive. And the narration style, more than anything else, reminded me of Tomorrow. There is also a touch of Susan Beth Pfeffer's Life As We Knew It, minus the whole moon being hit by an asteroid bit, as these kids are well and truly on their own, and their survival depends on their ability to remain calm under pressure.

There isn't a ton of action - though, really, that makes sense with it just being a group of kids stuck in a school building. It's not like there's a whole heck of a lot to do. I wouldn't have minded the author including more dialogue instead of sticking to an inner monologue, though, to break up the monotony. The choice is understandable considering Scotty is telling this story to the reader after the fact, but with little dialogue and limited action, well, it's a good thing the book is relatively short, or it would have been too much to handle.

This last bit isn't related to the writing, but I loved what the art department did with the beginning page of each chapter, changing the snow level to reflect the snow level at that point in the book. Very clever!

Trapped is a book with great crossover appeal: Adventurous girls will like it, but it's definitely written with boys in mind; it's not too mature for younger readers who read above their grade level but also not too immature for reluctant readers who read below their grade level. And of course, it's something that get readers in snowy climates thinking and make readers from warmer climates realize just how good they have it! :)

This is a great winter book. If you've been thinking about picking it up but haven't done so yet, know that it's definitely a worthwhile read!

Friday, May 03, 2013

review: I AM NUMBER FOUR by Pittacus Lore

I AM NUMBER FOUR by Pittacus Lore
Series: Lorien Legacies #1
HarperCollins: HarperCollins
Released: August 3, 2010
Source: Bookstore
Page Count: 440

Rating: It was okay

Nine of us came here. We look like you. We talk like you. We live among you. But we are not you. We can do things you dream of doing. We have powers you dream of having. We are stronger and faster than anything you have ever seen. We are the superheroes you worship in movies and comic books - but we are real.

Our plan was to grow, and train, and become strong, and become one, and fight them. But they found us and started hunting us first. Now all of us are running. Spending our lives in shadows, in places where no one wuold look, blending in. We have lived among you without you knowing.

But they know.

They caught Number One in Malaysia.
Number Two in England.
And Number Three in Kenya.
They killed them all.

I am Number Four.

I am next.

My Thoughts

I was torn about reading this one, as I discovered earlier this month on DJ's Life in Fiction how the book came about. I have no desire to support anyone the likes of James Frey! However, I also agreed with DJ's assessment that a good book is a good book, and, seeing as how I'd already bought it and was planning on seeing the movie this weekend before hearing about the controversy, I figured I might as well give it a fair shot.

First off, the book design is beautiful. The art department did a fantastic job with the colors, symbols, and embossing on the jacket and the book itself, as well as the Lorien Legacies name printed on the edges of the pages. The design was what drew me to the book - I bought it before hearing about any of the hype. (I know, I must have been living under a rock!)

As for the story itself, I wasn't as impressed with it as I was with the design. While it's an interesting concept, I just couldn't connect with John - even more unusual considering that the story is told in first person, and that's usually much easier for me to like. I had a hard time believing that someone who had been on the run for his entire life would not see the inherent problem with his behavior upon entering his new school in Paradise, Ohio. I also couldn't believe how long it took for some action to take place! It wasn't until about 225 pages in that there was some decent action (read: not high school bullying), and even then it was only a relatively short scene. The real action didn't start until about page 340. Had I not been so focused on finishing the book before seeing the movie later tonight, it probably would have gone in my to-finish-when-there's-nothing-better-to-read pile.

That said, I'm still going to see the movie. I'm curious to see what the big deal is Alex Pettyfer and whether he would be a good fit for some of the other movies rumored to be considering him. Will post a review of the movie either tonight or tomorrow!

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

review: KISS OF THE HIGHLANDER by Karen Marie Moning

KISS OF THE HIGHLANDER by Karen Marie Moning
Series: Highlander #4
Random House: Dell
Released: September 4, 2001
Source: Bookstore
Page Count: 399

Rating: Really liked it!

A LAIRD TRAPPED BETWEEN CENTURIES

Enchanted by a powerful spell, Highland laird Drustan MacKeltar slumbered for nearly five centuries hidden deep in a cave, until an unlikely savior awakened him. The enticing lass who dressed and spoke like no woman he’d ever known was from his distant future, where crumbled ruins were all that remained of his vanished world. Drustan knew he had to return to his own century if he was to save his people from a terrible fate. And he needed the bewitching woman by his side . . .

A WOMAN CHANGED FOREVER IN HIS ARMS

Gwen Cassidy had come to Scotland to shake up her humdrum life and, just maybe, meet a man. How could she have known that a tumble down a Highland ravine would send her plunging into an underground cavern – to land atop the most devastatingly seductive man she’d ever seen? Or that once he’d kissed her, he wouldn’t let her go? Bound to Drustan by a passion stronger than time, Gwen is swept back to sixteenth-century Scotland, where a treacherous enemy plots against them . . . and where a warrior with the power to change history will defy itself for the woman he loves . . .

My Thoughts

This one was really interesting, because the man was the first one to do the time traveling! And for once, the woman didn't automatically believe everything that was happening! I loved it!

This is also the first in a new set of connected storylines - books five, six, and seven also contain the same characters (though new ones are introduced as well).

Drustan McKeltar was spelled into an enchanted sleep, and would have stayed hidden that way forever had Gwen not lost her backpack - and then her footing - on a hike and tumbled through the roof of his prison, somehow managing to release him from his slumber.  At first, Drustan simply plans on using Gwen to get back to his own time, not caring what happens to her in the process. Gradually, though, he falls for her - and she for him, though she is less inclined to admit it to her self, seeing as how she thinks he's quite insane.

This one had some great characters - not just the main couple, but also the main secondaries that we meet along the way. The ending was also very sweet. I was very curious to see how Moning would write them into a happy ending, and she did a fantastic job. I was very happy with this book, and it's probably my favorite of the series so far!