Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

So, today at work I'm dressed as Annabeth Chase from the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan. So much fun. I think I hit it pretty well on the nose. 

*And for those of you sticklers, yes, I know that in the series it is a Yankees cap that Athena gives Annabeth, but...the Red Sox won the World Series last night, so I had to support them, LOL! 

Is anyone else rocking a character-based costume today??

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Review: The Turning

The Turning
by Francine Prose

Book Description:
A dark house.
An isolated island.
Strange dreams
and even stranger visions . . .

Jack is spending the summer on a private island far from modern conveniences. No Wi-Fi, no cell service, no one else on the island but a housekeeper and the two very peculiar children in his care. The first time Jack sees the huge black mansion atop a windswept hill, he senses something cold, something more sinister than even the dark house itself.

Soon, he feels terribly isolated and alone. Yet he is not alone. The house has visitors—peering in the windows, staring from across the shore. But why doesn't anyone else see them . . . and what do they want? As secrets are revealed and darker truths surface, Jack desperately struggles to maintain a grip on reality. He knows what he sees, and he isn't crazy. . . . Or is he?

I have to be honest. I wanted to like this one a lot more than I did. The idea was spooky and I liked the beginning, but I got bored reading. I actually found myself trying to skip to the end just to see what happened, because I was too impatient to wait until I naturally got there.

I didn't really connect to any of the characters and though I found the house to be cool and liked the remote setting, I don't think it was enough for me. Sadly, I just didn't enjoy it overmuch.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Review: The Fifth Wave

The Fifth Wave
by Rick Yancey

Book Description:
After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it's the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth's last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie's only hope for rescuing her brother--or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.

An excellent read.  This book feels real.  Cassie has to deal with being alone, trying to decide if anyone can be trusted.  When she realizes that anyone could be one of them... how can she trust anyone ever again?  Then Cassie meets someone that she desperately wants to trust... 

Her devotion to finding and saving her brother is admirable and heartbreaking.  Seeing in the alternating chapters what is happening inside the camp he's been taken to... I found myself wanting to yell through the book to the characters letting them know what was going on with each other.  Though I could see where things were going most of the time, Yancey's writing still kept me on the edge of my seat.  

For older readers looking for a thrilling, can't put it down type of science fiction read. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Review: The Gathering Storm

The Gathering Storm
by Robin Bridges
The Katerina Trilogy, book one

Book Description:
As she attends a whirl of glittering balls, royal debutante Katerina Alexandrovna, Duchess of Oldenburg, tries to hide a dark secret: she can raise the dead. No one knows. Not her family. Not the girls at her finishing school. Not the tsar or anyone in her aristocratic circle. Katerina considers her talent a curse, not a gift. But when she uses her special skill to protect a member of the Imperial family, she finds herself caught in a web of intrigue--and pulled between two young men who belong to very different and warring royal bloodlines. The time has come for Katerina to embrace her power as a necromancer, but which side will she choose--and to whom will she give her heart?

This book was very intriguing and yet at points it was also frustrating.  

I liked the idea of the Russian aristocracy being filled with paranormal beings and I loved Katerina as the main character.  She was strong and her power was interesting. I thought that the emotional roller coaster that Katerina experiences as events unfolds was very realistic.   

What frustrated me, though, were the Russian titles.  The author explains that each aristocrat would have a formal title and then a nickname, but to try to keep track of all the different princesses and counts was confusing at times.  It took until I was more than halfway through the book before I was able to easily distinguish the different MAIN characters of the book.  

Aside from that, I ended up enjoying this book a lot.  The historical setting was vibrant and beautiful.  The types of vampires and necromancers were interesting to read about... I definitely plan to continue the trilogy when I get time. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Books I Can't Wait to Get My Hands On: November Edition

Here are some books being released in November that I can't wait to read!!

After Eden by Helen Douglas
A mysterious boy... is he really from the future?

Curtsies and Conspiracies by Gail Carriger
Sophronia continued adventures at a very deadly finishing school...

Hostage Three by Nick Lake
When you are the least important hostage,
your life suddenly becomes worth a lot less...

Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher
Zoe spills her deepest secrets to a death-row pen pal...

Pawn by Aimee Carter
Will Kitty take on someone else's life for fame and power?

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Gold Star Review: The Diviners

The Diviners
by Libba Bray

Book Description:
Evie O'Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City--and she is pos-i-toot-ly thrilled. New York is the city of speakeasies, shopping, and movie palaces! Soon enough, Evie is running with glamorous Ziegfield girls and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is Evie has to live with her Uncle Will, curator of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult--also known as "The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies."

When a rash of occult-based murders comes to light, Evie and her uncle are right in the thick of the investigation. And through it all, Evie has a secret: a mysterious power that could help catch the killer--if he doesn't catch her first.

Creepy and fun!  

This book is set in the 1920's, which is one of my FAVORITE historical eras. So glamorous.  Speakeasys, flappers, jazz...New York City must have been one happening place.  I would have loved to have seen it.  As it is, I envy the clothes and the sense of freedom that the flappers must have felt.  

I loved the way this book unfolded.  It was subtle at first how all the different characters were going to end up intermingled into one big story. I liked how they all fit together eventually like puzzle pieces.  I found the reason for them developing their psychic abilities intriguing and I'm desperate to get my hands on the next book ASAP! 

The serial killer story was gripping and while it had it's gory moments, it wasn't overwhelming. It was the perfect blend of creepy and compelling.  I found the language to be helpful in this...even when Evie was staring at a gruesome murder or was learning grisly details, her horror was offset with her attempts at humorous colloquialisms, "And how!," "Jeepers Creepers." Those moments were helpful to deflect a little bit from the grotesqueness of the crime scenes.  

With fun language, a sit on the edge of your seat plot, and great characters, I have to give The Diviners a GOLD STAR.  I will most definitely read book two, Lair of Dreams, as soon as it hits the shelves! 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Review: A Girl Called Problem

A Girl Called Problem
by Katie Quirk

Book Description:
Thirteen-year-old Shida, whose name means "problem" in Swahili, certainly has a lot of problems in her life -- her father is dead, her depressed mother is rumored to be a witch, her family bears the weight of a curse, and everyone in her rural Tanzanian village expects her to marry rather than pursue her dream of becoming a healer.

So when the elders of Litongo make a controversial decision to move Shida's people to a nearby village, Shida welcomes the change. Surely the opportunity to go to school and learn from a nurse can only mean good things. Nonetheless, mysterious calamities plague Shida's people after their move. Desperate to stay, Shida must prove to her people that life can be better in their new home.

I found this book to be surprisingly easy to read and very interesting.  I learned about a period of African history that I knew nothing about previously.  I loved that Shida wanted so desperately to become a learned woman, a nurse, and that, though she met some resistance, there were people who supported her dream and that she persisted to help make her dream come true.  I liked the mystery aspect of this book and was pleased with how things worked out.  

A different book than I would normally read, but one that I would recommend! 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Review: Lost in the River of Grass

Lost in the River of Grass
by Ginny Rorby

Book Description:
A science-class field trip to the Everglades is supposed to be fun, but Sarah's new at Glades Academy, and her fellow freshmen aren't exactly making her feel welcome. When an opportunity for an unauthorized side trip on an airboat presents itself, it seems like a perfect escape–an afternoon without feeling like a sore thumb. But one simple oversight turns a joyride into a race for survival across the river of grass. Sarah will have to count on her instincts—and a guy she barely knows—if they have any hope of making it back alive.

Oooh. I was already kind of terrified of the Everglades and now, boy, I don't ever want to step foot in them without a majorly seasoned tour guide.  This book was one dangerous encounter after another.  I loved how as Sarah faced the possibility of death over and over, she became more and more capable.  She is truly a survivor.  One who when push comes to shove, must learn how to become more able on her who will do whatever she must to survive. 

If you like survival stories, ones that will keep you on the edge of your seat, this is a good one! 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Mini Reviews: The Lost Prince and The Iron Traitor

The Lost Prince
by Julie Kagawa
The Iron Fey, book five

Book Description:
Don't look at Them. Never let Them know you can see Them.

That is Ethan Chase's unbreakable rule. Until the fey he avoids at all costs—including his reputation—begin to disappear, and Ethan is attacked. Now he must change the rules to protect his family. To save a girl he never thought he'd dare to fall for.

Ethan thought he had protected himself from his older sister's world—the land of Faery. His previous time in the Iron Realm left him with nothing but fear and disgust for the world Meghan Chase has made her home, a land of myth and talking cats, of magic and seductive enemies. But when destiny comes for Ethan, there is no escape from a danger long, long forgotten.

I liked the change-up, getting to see the Nevernever from someone else's perspective. Someone totally human. Ethan is tough, but totally terrified inside and that made him easy to relate to and still feel like a true hero. I loved how desperately he tries to save Kenzie from what he knows to be dangerous and I loved getting to see Meghan and Ash and PUCK (MY FAVORITE, CAN YOU TELL?) again.

The Iron Traitor
by Julie Kagawa
Iron Fey, book six

Publication date: Oct. 29, 2013

Book Description:
After his unexpected journey into the lands of the fey, Ethan Chase just wants to get back to normal. Well, as "normal" as you can be when you see faeries every day of your life. Suddenly the former loner with the bad reputation has someone to try for—his girlfriend, Kenzie. Never mind that he's forbidden to see her again.

But when your name is Ethan Chase and your sister is one of the most powerful faeries in the Nevernever, "normal" simply isn't to be. For Ethan's nephew, Keirran, is missing, and may be on the verge of doing something unthinkable in the name of saving his own love. Something that will fracture the human and faery worlds forever, and give rise to the dangerous fey known as the Forgotten. As Ethan's and Keirran's fates entwine and Keirran slips further into darkness, Ethan's next choice may decide the fate of them all.

I love Ethan and Kenzie's relationship. I think that they work just as well together as Meghan and Ash did. I'm anxious to see how they cope after the events of this book... in fact, I'm desperate to see what happens next because the cliffhanger this book leaves you on... WOWZA.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Review: Little Fish

Little Fish 
by Ramsey Beyer

Book Description:
Told through real-life journals, collages, lists, and drawings, this coming-of-age story illustrates the transformation of an 18-year-old girl from a small-town teenager into an independent city-dwelling college student. Written in an autobiographical style with beautiful artwork, Little Fish shows the challenges of being a young person facing the world on her own for the very first time and the unease—as well as excitement—that comes along with that challenge.

This book is perfect if you are going to be going to college for the first time or even if you are just going through a totally new phase in your life. It's easy to read, easy to relate to, and made me laugh out loud in spots. Ramsey chronicles her first year in college through lists, journal entries, and zine articles. Each page felt as new and different and exciting as Ramsey's foray into Baltimore...her very first city experience.

As some one who occasionally has trouble following comics or graphic novels, I'm very pleased to report I had no trouble at all with this one. Each character is distinguishable from the others and are introduced in ways that make them pretty easy to remember. It's just like making new friends in real life. In fact, I found myself heartbroken to leave them all behind at the end of the year...and I'd actually love to read about Ramsey's sophomore year to catch up with them again!!

As a book set in college, this is not a book for younger readers but I think that older high school readers and those already in college will relate to and thoroughly enjoy this one!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Review: Infinityglass

by Myra McEntire
Hourglass, book three

Book Description:
No time like the present.
No time in the present.
No time left.

From the moment the Hourglass group violated the rules of the space time continuum to rescue a murdered loved one, time has been in flux. People from other centuries slide into our time, intruding into our space, threatening our world.

Frantically seeking a way to turn back this tide, the Hourglass begins a search for the legendary Infinityglass, tracking it to the city of New Orleans, a place where the past rests easily with the present.

Quiet, reliable Dune, the group's favorite geek, is selected to travel to the Crescent City and somehow retrieve the renowned object.

But there's a problem.

Because the Infinityglass is not an object, it's a person.
A beautiful, headstrong dancer named Hallie, a girl so enticing Dune can't take his eyes off her.

And time is not on her side.

I love this series.
They are fun, romantic, and while time travel doesn't always make sense in general, at least here it seems clear enough on the surface, and there are rules set in place so that there are consequences if things are not done properly.

But... back to the swoony-ness! Dune. Ah, Dune. He was very hot (and smart!! Which I love...) in this book. Even better, I really wanted to BE Hallie. She was cool, confident, smart...and yet, totally human. She was a kick-@ss character.

The setting. New Orleans. *sigh* Every book I read set there just makes me want to get on a plane immediately. I really need to see N'orlens soon. SOON!

I'm sad that this was the final book in the series, but I was satisfied. I hope to read more from Myra McEntire someday.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Review: The Case of the Deadly Desperados

The Case of the Deadly Desperados
by Caroline Lawrence
Western Mysteries, book one

Book Description:
When twelve-year-old P.K. (Pinky) Pinkerton's foster parents are murdered by Whittlin' Walt and his gang of ruthless desperados, Pinky goes on the run and is forced into hiding with Ma's priceless last possession: the deed to a large amount of land and silver mines in the Nevada Mountains. But relying on disguises will only keep Pinky hidden for so long, and the desperados are quickly closing in . . .

I loved this book SO much more than I ever thought I would. 

 P.K. is a spunky, interesting (maybe autistic) main character that I had no trouble rooting for... I loved all of the side characters. There were mean desperados, and helpful townsfolk, a new "foster" parent to look up to, and even an appearance by Samuel Clemens himself! The mystery was great and the setting was way more interesting than I'd thought it would be. 

 I found myself smiling as I read along and hope to read the follow-up soon!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Review: Savage Fortress

The Savage Fortress 
by Sarwat Chadda

Book Description:
After three weeks of vacation, Ash Mistry is ready to leave the heat and dust of India behind him. Then he discovers a gleaming gold arrowhead hidden in the sands---a weapon used to defeat evil King Ravana in legend.

At least, Ash is pretty sure it's only a legend . . .

But when Lord Alexander Savage comes after Ash, the legends are suddenly way too real. Savage commands an army of monstrous shapechangers called rakshasas, who want only to seize the arrowhead and restore Ravana to power. As they hunt Ash through magnificent fortresses and brutal deserts, he must learn to work with a powerful rakshasa girl named Parvati, and find the strength within himself to fight on no matter what. Because this isn't just a battle to stop the end of the world. It's a battle to stop the end of reality as we know it.

No pressure.

I thought that the Indian Mythology that was the background for the story was really interesting.  I had a hard time, though, because I didn't really like Ash and I couldn't connect with him as the story went on.  I felt like he made bad choices a lot.  

I think some readers will really love the action in this book. It just wasn't the book for me.