Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Review: Second Chance

Second Chance
by Heather Brewer
The Slayer Chronicles, book two
Book Description:
The summer after Joss failed to kill the vampire Vladimir Tod, he gets a second chance to prove himself as a Slayer. He is sent to New York City to hunt down a serial killer that the Slayer Society believes is a vampire. It is up to Joss to lead his Slayer team, and through their detective work, they discover that there are actually four vampire brothers who are on the killing rampage. Joss must use all his skill to save the innocent people of New York City from the murderers. Joss's status as a Slayer depends on it.
Though I mostly enjoy these books as I'm reading them, I don't really remember them that well afterwards...I suppose that's a type of review in itself, right?  Like the first book, First Kill, Joss' story is full of action, danger, and deception. No one can be fully trusted and I know that I was kept on my toes throughout the book. 
What I liked best about this book, though, was the way that the author promised readers much more of a background to Joss and Vlad's connections later in the series.  Even as I was following along with Joss hunting down the serial killers plaguing New York City, I was really just dying to get more into his family's secrets and background...
I need to get my hands on the next book AND I really need to go back and read the Chronicles of Vladimir Tod series!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Review: Under the Never Sky

Under the Never Sky 
by Veronica Rossi

Book Description:


Aria has lived her whole life in the protected dome of Reverie. Her entire world confined to its spaces, she's never thought to dream of what lies beyond its doors. So when her mother goes missing, Aria knows her chances of surviving in the outer wasteland long enough to find her are slim.

Then Aria meets an outsider named Perry. He's searching for someone too. He's also wild - a savage - but might be her best hope at staying alive.

If they can survive, they are each other's best hope for finding answers.

I wasn't sure what to expect when I started this book. We've had so many dystopias come out lately that I've kind of become leery of new ones.  A few of my friends really enjoyed this one, though, so I decided to give it a good shot. 

I'm glad I did! This one has a very cool world where the upper cast of human society has gone to live in sealed domes, protecting them from the elements...and from the less desirable portion of humanity.  These people engage in a whole virtual world to keep them from being bored.  That technology aspect was pretty cool.  

What was even cooler, though, was seeing what had happened to the humans that lived outside the domes.  Perry and his tribesmen had some neat abilities.  Watching Aria adapt to surviving amongst them was fascinating and I found her to be a surprisingly strong character in the end.  

I'm very much looking forward to seeing how things progress in the second book, Through the Ever Night

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Review: Marathon

by Boaz Yakin
illus. by Joe Infurnari

Book Description:
It was a turning point in ancient history.

It inspires men to greatness.

It was the foundation of one of the greatest and most prevailing global peace efforts of the 20th century.

It was the greatest feat—and the tragic death—of a man whose legacy will never be forgotten.

In 490BC, an Athenian messenger named Eucles ran 153 miles from Sparta to Athens, and in so doing preserved ancient Greek civilization from subjugation to the Persian Empire.

While this is an interesting point in history and I liked getting to see the origin of the word marathon, I did not really enjoy this graphic novel that much. I found the drawing style to be very dark. I also had trouble telling some of the characters apart after their initial introductions. 

I would probably only recommend this graphic novel for use if you were reading as a group and could compare your reaction to the book, or if you are a hardcore graphic novel reader that enjoys history. Ancient Greece is fascinating and dark, but this graphic novel is also less reader friendly for new graphic novel readers.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Review: Poison

by Bridget Zinn
Book Description:
Sixteen-year-old Kyra, a highly-skilled potions master, is the only one who knows her kingdom is on the verge of destruction—which means she's the only one who can save it. Faced with no other choice, Kyra decides to do what she does best: poison the kingdom's future ruler, who also happens to be her former best friend.

But, for the first time ever, her poisoned dart…misses.

Now a fugitive instead of a hero, Kyra is caught in a game of hide-and-seek with the king's army and her potioner ex-boyfriend, Hal. At least she's not alone. She's armed with her vital potions, a too-cute pig, and Fred, the charming adventurer she can't stop thinking about. Kyra is determined to get herself a second chance (at murder), but will she be able to find and defeat the princess before Hal and the army find her?

Kyra is not your typical murderer, and she's certainly no damsel-in-distress—she's the lovable and quick-witted hero of this romantic novel that has all the right ingredients to make teen girls swoon.

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVED this book.

It was funny, it was exciting, it had a great main character, and took place in an interesting world.

The cover is a little deceiving. It makes Kyra look like a really tough character, a la Katniss, and while she does have some of that in her, the overall tone of the book and the characters is much, much lighter. I found myself giggling a lot and I read this one really quickly because I was enjoying it so much... 

In fact, I loved the lighthearted tone of this book so much that I am giving it a GOLD STAR review and recommend that everyone pick it up!!


Monday, March 18, 2013

Review: One for the Murphys

One for the Murphys
by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
Book Description:
Carley uses humor and street smarts to keep her emotional walls high and thick. But the day she becomes a foster child, and moves in with the Murphys, she's blindsided. This loving, bustling family shows Carley the stable family life she never thought existed, and she feels like an alien in their cookie-cutter-perfect household. Despite her resistance, the Murphys eventually show her what it feels like to belong--until her mother wants her back and Carley has to decide where and how to live. She's not really a Murphy, but the gifts they've given her have opened up a new future.

This book was an emotional rollercoaster ride! Carley was a great narrator with a story that will just twist your gut... there were moments that I started to cry because I couldn't believe poor Carley's situation with her mom, but then I would find myself grinning like a maniac as she played with the Murphy boys.  When Carley has to decide what to do for the rest of her life... it was such a bittersweet decision.

Even though this book is geared for a slightly younger audience, I would absolutely recommend this story for anyone who loves realistic and emotional stories.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Happy St. Patrick's Day!


Just wanted to wish you all the luck of the Irish this weekend!! (And...minions!)

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Review: The Madness Underneath

The Madness Underneath
by Maureen Johnson
Shades of London, book two

Book Description:
After her near-fatal run-in with the Jack the Ripper copycat, Rory Devereaux has been living in Bristol under the close watch of her parents. So when her therapist suddenly suggests she return to Wexford, Rory jumps at the chance to get back to her friends. But Rory’s brush with the Ripper touched her more than she thought possible: she’s become a human terminus, with the power to eliminate ghosts on contact. She soon finds out that the Shades—the city’s secret ghost-fighting police—are responsible for her return. The Ripper may be gone, but now there is a string of new inexplicable deaths threatening London. Rory has evidence that the deaths are no coincidence. Something much more sinister is going on, and now she must convince the squad to listen to her before it’s too late.
While I enjoyed this sequel to the thrilling The Name of the Star, I found that it did not hold my attention quite as thoroughly as the first. While I found Rory's story to be interesting and there were sections that I thought were phenomenally done, there were also bits where I found my attention wandering...

Perhaps it was the initial focus on Rory's "recovery" from her ordeal that left me feeling a little detached. I'm not sure. It wasn't until she really got back into ghost hunting that the book really picked up for me...and when the kidnappings occur...and the romantic tension...and... well, you'll have to read it to see. The last third of the book had me on the edge of my seat!

Overall, though, I really enjoyed it and I cannot wait to read the next book. This one leaves you hanging off a very interesting cliff...

Monday, March 11, 2013

DNF - Cuttlefish

by Dave Freer

Book Description:
The smallest thing can change the path of history.

The year is 1976, and the British Empire still spans the globe. Coal drives the world, and the smog of it hangs thick over the canals of London. Clara Calland is on the run. Hunted, along with her scientist mother, by Menshevik spies and Imperial soldiers, they flee Ireland for London. They must escape airships, treachery, and capture. Under flooded London's canals, they join the rebels who live in the dank tunnels there. Tim Barnabas is one of the underpeople, born to the secret town of drowned London, place of anti-imperialist republicans and Irish rebels, part of the Liberty—the people who would see a return to older values and free elections. Seeing no farther than his next meal, Tim has hired on as a submariner on the Cuttlefish, a coal-fired submarine that runs smuggled cargoes beneath the steamship patrols, to the fortress America and beyond. When the Imperial soldiery comes ravening, Clara and her mother are forced to flee aboard the Cuttlefish. Hunted like beasts, the submarine and her crew must undertake a desperate voyage across the world, from the Faeroes to the Caribbean and finally across the Pacific to find safety. But only Clara and Tim Barnabas can steer them past treachery and disaster, to freedom in Westralia. Carried with them—a lost scientific secret that threatens the very heart of Imperial power.

Very, very occasionally, I pick up a book that just doesn't work for me soooo badly that I can't even try to finish it.  This is one of those cases.  I call these books DNFs, or Did Not Finishs.

I very much loved the idea of this book. I'm very into steampunk and I loved the sound of a very interesting submarine adventure... As I read, though, I had a very hard time with the tone of this book. Within the first few chapters there are some very exciting explosions and escapes, yet they are revealed in such a third person past-tense way that there was no EXCITEMENT. It just fell flat for me. Unfortunately I have so many books that I need to read that I just couldn't make the time to finish this one.

If you think this book sounds cool, though, you should still check it out.  In fact, you can see some other reviewers opinions here:
Shiny Book Review
Justin's Book Blog
Lovey Dovey Books

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Review: Absent

by Katie Williams
Publication date: May 21, 2013
Book Description:
When seventeen-year-old Paige dies in a freak fall from the roof during Physics class, her spirit is bound to the grounds of her high school. At least she has company: her fellow ghosts Evan and Brooke, who also died there. But when Paige hears the rumor that her death wasn't an accident—that she supposedly jumped on purpose—she can't bear it. Then Paige discovers something amazing. She can possess living people when they think of her, and she can make them do almost anything. Maybe, just maybe, she can get to the most popular girl in school and stop the rumors once and for all.
This book is short, but very good.  It doesn't flinch away from the harsh truth of death and how other people perceive you...or how you perceive them.  This story feels really genuine.  The teen ghosts' despondency, Paige's quest for justice, vengeance, and the way that she yearns for acknowledgment from beyond the grave will definitely pull in most readers. As each student, both the living and the dead, finally find what they need to move on, you will not be able to put the book down until the very end. I know I couldn't!

Due to some drug related content and other mature themes, I would really recommend this book for high school or college age readers.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Review: The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls

The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls
by Claire Legrand
Book Description:
Victoria hates nonsense. There is no need for it when your life is perfect. The only smudge on her pristine life is her best friend Lawrence. He is a disaster—lazy and dreamy, shirt always untucked, obsessed with his silly piano. Victoria often wonders why she ever bothered being his friend. (Lawrence does too.)

But then Lawrence goes missing. And he’s not the only one. Victoria soon discovers that The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls is not what it appears to be. Kids go in but come out…different. Or they don’t come out at all.

If anyone can sort this out, it’s Victoria—even if it means getting a little messy.

Did you love Coraline?  Are you a Lemony Snicket fan? If so, this is a GREAT book for you...

Everything in Victoria's town has gone just a little bit twisty. Kids are disappearing, adults are ignoring things, and no one is willing to talk to Victoria about it.  She, however, is the last person to give up when she knows she is right...and she knows that something is wrong and the Cavendish Home has something to do with it. 

Once Victoria starts asking questions, though, she attracts the wrong kind of attention, and once she's been taken to the Cavendish Home, there may be no escaping.

Suspenseful and creepy.