Friday, December 30, 2011

Review: The Space Between

The Space Between
The Space Between by Brenna Yovanoff

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Daphne is half angel and half demon. She is the offspring of Lillith (demon) and Lucifer (fallen, but angel nonetheless). She lives in a Hell were everything is steel and modern architecture. Daphne isn’t like her sisters, she has no interested in going to Earth or acting the role of succubus. However she does go to Earth to find her missing brother…the only offspring of Adam and Lillith. He’s left hell for the love of his life, another half-breed. Only Lillith discovers something has happened to her son and sends Daphne to try and find him.

This book had a very interesting take on hell and the fallen angels as well as the demons. Hell from Yovanof’s description sounded intriguing if you are living there as a supernatural being versus an evil soul sent there to be punished eternally.

Daphne, though inhuman, was interesting in her fascination with all things earthly. Daphne is in pain though she doesn’t really know why…she thinks it’s because she has no purpose. She meets Truman who is human and in terrible pain, so much so he’s killing himself slowly…he is also the last person who might have some idea where her brother is.

This was an incredibly poignant story. I cried throughout most of it. Love and loss, but there was also redemption, which made me smile through the tears! Yovanof certainly avoided the sophomore slump! I enjoyed this book so much more than The Replacements.

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Review: Trapped

Trapped by Michael Northrop

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

How would you like to be stuck at school, with no way home, when the Mother of all Nor’easter blizzards hits? Stuck at school for days with a couple of your buddies and a few other students you don’t really know. No electricity, no heat, and a locked cafeteria…sound fun…I didn’t think so either.

That’s what happens to Scotty and 6 other people in Trapped by Michael Northrup. And Scotty is up front, not everyone makes it out alive.

Having recently moved to blizzard country from the desert…this book scared me. The devastation that a little weather can cause never ceases to amaze me. The students were very resourceful and smart about their survival. However, I guess I thought it would have more action. The story wasn’t terribly long, but it was pretty slow going.

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Review: Hold Me Closer, Necromancer

Hold Me Closer, Necromancer
Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Sam doesn’t know it, but he’s a necromancer…can see and speak to the dead as well as raise them from the dead and make them do his bidding…but like I said, he doesn’t know it. Something or someone has been “cloaking” his power so he didn’t draw the attention of other supernaturals…specifically the necromancer that heads the Seattle Council!

I laughed through this book! Sam has all the snark and sarcasm I LOVE in a 17 year old boy. Correction, literary character. If my own son was that snarky and sarcastic with me, I’d probably sew his lips together. But I do so love to read it! This story just really went against the grain of the typical paranormal novel and the author did it beautifully!

The characters were all great and seemed to be much more fleshed out then the typical flunky/sidekick. If this were a play/movie, all the roles would be considered choice! It also appears that there will be more to this story…which thrills me no end. But this book didn’t read like it was part of a series. Necromancer had an ending, granted some ties were left loose for the reader to interpret, but more importantly I didn’t feel like I’d read the “back story” that sets up the coming books…which I hate! This was a complete novel that could easily stand alone, but the fact that there is more to come is WONDERFUL!

This book was also short listed for many awards when it came out in 2010…and for good reason. Lish McBride wrote a fun, acerbic story, beautifully and can’t wait to see where Sam and the gang go next!

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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Review: HUSHED

Hushed by Kelley York

published by Entangled Publishing

published on 6 December 2011

260 pages

He’s saved her. He’s loved her. He’s killed for her.

Eighteen-year-old Archer couldn’t protect his best friend, Vivian, from what happened when they were kids, so he’s never stopped trying to protect her from everything else. It doesn’t matter that Vivian only uses him when hopping from one toxic relationship to another—Archer is always there, waiting to be noticed.

Then along comes Evan, the only person who’s ever cared about Archer without a single string attached. The harder he falls for Evan, the more Archer sees Vivian for the manipulative hot-mess she really is.

But Viv has her hooks in deep, and when she finds out about the murders Archer’s committed and his relationship with Evan, she threatens to turn him in if she does not get what she wants… And what she wants is Evan’s death, and for Archer to forfeit his last chance at redemption. (goodreads)

WOW! Where to begin?! The first chapter of this book just sucked me in. It starts with a murder. Not something we see all too often in YA Contemporary. Archer has always tried to protect Vivian. In doing so, Arthur has lost himself. He does everything to make Vivian happy after she fell victim to a terrible assault that Archer could not save her from. From that moment on, Arthur has been trying to make it right in hopes of freeing Vivian from the shackles of that night.

In walks Evan, the knight in shining armor! He likes Arthur and can see that Vivian is controlling him to the brink of nuclear meltdown! With Evan, Archer can finally feel happiness and love. He can finally see a future for himself. Archer confides in Evan, telling him the terrible things he has done for Vivian. In the end, Vivian self-destructs and is willing to take everyone down with her.

This book was dark, calculating, suspenseful and yet it had a subtle gentleness. Evan and Arthur have some very tender moments and from one scene comes one of my favorite lines: "He shook his head, smiling. "I think I need to do less of needing people, honestly." As he turned to unlock the door, Evan grabbed his arm and pulled him back around. Barely a breath separated their mouths. "Want me, then," Evan murmured against his lips." If you don't need me, at least want me." Yes, this book is dark, but this book is so unique I think it is a must read. Kelley York did a fantastic job keeping me enthralled from page one to page 260! I rate the book a wonderfully dark 4 stars!

Review: Geek Girl

Geek Girl by Cindy C. Bennett

published by Cedar Fort Publishing

published December 2011

318 pages

"Think I can turn that boy bad?" 17-year-old Jen turns her life upside down when, out of boredom, she makes a bet that she can turn school geek Trevor into someone like her. Instead, the goth girl finds herself sucked into his world of sci-fi movies, charity work, and even-ugh!-bowling. To truly belong with him-and with her new foster family-she must first come to terms with her violent past.

Because of a bet (for a new lip piercing), Jen's whole life changes. Jen is a goth girl, dressed in black, combat boots and with red and black striped hair. She is among the group of kids who are more the outcasts and she likes it that way. Her volatile home life leaves her a victim and thrust into the foster care system, changing homes every year. Jen doesn't want to rely on anyone and she doesn't want anyone to know what happened to her real parents and the incidents leading to her placement in foster care. Basically, she shuts everyone out and puts up this wall on the outside to protect herself.

One day at school she bets her friends that she can turn good boy Trevor into a bad boy. She goes above and beyond to get Trevor to notice her and eventually they start hanging-out together and doing things Jen never thought she would do, like watching sci-fi movies, volunteering at the senior center and family bowling night. During what should be Trevor's transformation, it becomes clear that the person truly changing is Jen. Through Trevor she can see that her foster parents really care about her, and all those activities she thought were lame....well they are actually fun and being a part of a family is more important to her than she realized.

Jen's growth through the book is the true story here and it takes a few bumps along the road of life for her to see who she is and wants to be.

I thought this story was an original and entertaining read. Even though Jen should be the 'bad guy,' she is very likeable. It is her troubled past that opens her up to the reader, showing us her pain and why she acts the way she does. The book is not all roses and candy, there are hurtful moments but there is also growth and forgiveness. If you are looking for a YA Contemporary, this book should be on your to-read list. I rate this book at 4 Stars!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Review: Replication: The Jason Experiment

Replication: The Jason Experiment
Replication: The Jason Experiment by Jill Williamson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Meet J:3:3…aka Martyr. He lives on Jason Farms…a medical research facility in Alaska. Meet Abby Groyer she is newly transplanted to Alaska when her father accepts a job at Jason Farms. One day Martyr escapes from Jason Farms by hiding in the back of Dr. Groyer’s pick-up. Then Martyr hides in Abby’s bedroom. Abby finds Martyr and together they discover the truth behind Jason Farms.

This book tackles the eternal debate between Religion and Science…and the author does it with the kind of grace that those involved in the debate would show each other! After I finished I wondered which side of the debate the author stood on, then decided that it was probably the same side her main character was on. But I am still wondering…not that I think it would make any difference.

I loved that Abby had aspirations for a career in science and still had a very firm grasp on her religious beliefs, something her father could not understand. He didn’t believe the two could reside together in a person…but once he learned the truth behind what was going on at the farm, he was able to put some faith and trust in God in addition to his beloved science.

Martyr has to struggle with his life purposes…the one that was created for him, when he was created, as well as the one he creates for himself as he learns about life, love, and God. I loved learning about life outside of the farm through Martyr’s eyes. He found joy in everything, something we all need to do more of!

This book sucks you in from the beginning and doesn’t let you go until it spits you out at the end. I thought this was going to be more dystopian…but that is what made it different…Martyr’s world was a dystopian one. The author did a fantastic job of juggling all the different elements of this story without dropping a single ball. I’m anxious to find some more of her books after reading “Replication”.

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Review: On a Dark Wing

On a Dark Wing
On a Dark Wing by Jordan Dane

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Abbey lost her mother in a horrific car accident that almost took Abbey’s life as well. Abbey blames herself for the crash because she didn’t feel like taking the school bus home that day. It’s that time of year when Dad wants to spend time at the cabin remembering Mom. While there, Abbey runs into her major crush, Nate Holden, which is weird because Nate was supposed to be climbing Mt. McKinley that week. Abbey and Nate become close, very close, but then Nate starts acting strange and things aren’t adding up. Who is this guy?

I have to say this book was very slow going for the first 100 pages or so. Once the action started though, I stuck around to see how everything was going to resolve. I wasn’t a big fan of Abbey and her constant negativity. I was glad that she was able to see past her best friend’s wheelchair when so many of his pre-chair friends couldn’t. Tanner, the paralyzed best friend, was Abbey’s only friend…and they are both outsiders subjected to abject humiliation and cyber bullying. I’m sorry the author didn’t spend more time on the cyber-bullying aspect.

Overall it was an OK read for me. Nothing in particular really stood out and outside of finding out what happened to Nate I didn’t really care about the characters or what happened to them.

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Monday, December 19, 2011

Review: Between

Between by Jessica Warman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ooohhh! This was a very different mystery!

Elizabeth Valchar is the “IT” girl, “Queen Bee”, “Head Cheerleader”. She is also dead! While celebrating her 18th birthday with her group of friends on her family’s yacht, Elizabeth wakes up to find her body floating face down in the water, caught between the boat and dock. Not only is she a ghost, she also discovers she isn’t alone. Alex, a boy from school, who was killed in a hit and run, is there also. Alex and his friends were often victims of bullying from the popular kids, i.e. Elizabeth’s friends. Alex makes it clear from the beginning that he hates Liz and is pissed he’s stuck walking the Earth with her…But Alex also has a theory, he thinks that he and Liz have things they need to discover before they are able to move on. they reluctantly work together to solve the mystery of Liz’s and possibly Alex’s death.

I LOVED this book! When Liz and Alex become ghosts they don’t remember much of their life. So elements of story are told via memories. The memories are relived as the ghosts stand back and observe. Liz and Alex are also able to take each other into those memories…allowing each other to experience those key moments who made each person who they were. Alex coming from a poor, deeply religious family who is bullied at school…and Liz the daughter of a woman who died from anorexia, and the daughter of a man who married his old high school sweetheart very shortly after the Mom died. Liz and Alex were eventually able to let down their guards and really get to know one another. Redemption at its best!

We also witnessed the heart-wrenching aftermath that Liz’s family and friends experience after her death. And trust me when I say this was a book best read with tissues close by! But it was so worth it! I had so many ideas of where this story was ultimately going to go and I was so wrong in all my assumptions. This was a riveting story from beginning to heart-breaking end.

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Review: Every Other Day

Every Other Day
Every Other Day by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

My rating: 0 of 5 stars

This was a very different take on the paranormal.

Today, Kali D’Angelo is a hunter. Her prey is preternatural creatures…hellhounds, zombies, basilisks, dragons and their ilk. They are endangered species, but Kali hunts them because they kill humans. Today, Kali is not human, she is an indestructible killing machine. Tomorrow, however, she will be human and very destructible. For some reason, unknown to Kali, she is an inhuman killing machine one day, and the next day at dawn, she is human…and cycle keeps repeating itself. One day at school, Kali helps a girl who has been bitten by a chupacabra and it sets her on a path to find the answers she so desperately wants about who and what she is.

I thought the writing was a little bit confusing and a bit rough around the edges, also the characters lacked depth…but aside from those 2 things the story was very engaging and was a very different take on the preternatural stories that currently flood the market.

I have to give the author credit for not being a sentimentalist…she didn’t have any qualms about killing people off. And Kali had made it a point not to get close to people and she did a pretty good job of staying true to that throughout the book.

The author did leave a lot of unanswered questions as well as a HUGE opening for a series to start. I would really like to see more of Kali, learn more about Zev, and see what the fibbies were going to offer. If JLB did start a series, I would dearly hope that the characters develop significantly more.

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Monday, December 12, 2011

Dusty Covers Monday #6

It is that time once again for our weekly meme here on Novel Goddess! Time for me to select a book that has been collecting some dust as it waits for me to read and enjoy the story within its pages. This week I have chosen a book from 2009 that I have been anxious to get my hands on. It is...drum roll please....

The Demon's Lexion by Sarah Rees Brennan

Nick and his brother, Alan, have spent their lives on the run from magic. Their father was murdered, and their mother was driven mad by magicians and the demons who give them power. The magicians are hunting the Ryves family for a charm that Nick's mother stole -- a charm that keeps her alive -- and they want it badly enough to kill again.

Danger draws even closer when a brother and sister come to the Ryves family for help. The boy wears a demon's mark, a sign of death that almost nothing can erase...and when Alan also gets marked by a demon, Nick is desperate to save him. The only way to do that is to kill one of the magicians they have been hiding from for so long.

Ensnared in a deadly game of cat and mouse, Nick starts to suspect that his brother is telling him lie after lie about their past. As the magicians' Circle closes in on their family, Nick uncovers the secret that could destroy them all.

This is the Demon's Lexicon. Turn the page. (goodreads)

My reason's for selecting this book:

  1. I follow SRB on Twitter and feel like I should get to one of her books fast because she is pretty cool.
  2. A few of my friends have been prodding me to read it.
  3. The book has been on my TBR list for far too long
  4. My local library had it ready and available without waiting for a hold to process.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Review: The Future of Us

The Future of Us
The Future of Us by Jay Asher

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

think I've mentioned that I love me some time travel! This story wasn’t time travel is in the usual sense of the word, but I did enjoy almost as much. And I knew I would love it because Jay Asher’s name was attached. So thank you Mr. Asher for introducing me to Ms. Mackler!

It’s 1996 and Emma has just received a computer from her Dad. AOL is all the rage and Josh, her next door neighbor and former best friend, has just brought over a free trial CD his Mom got in the mail.

Emma loads the AOL, but when she initially logs in she is directed to a site called “Facebook”. The facebook page that comes up appears to be her’s 15 years in the future. And she is not happy about what she sees. Emma asks Josh about assuming it’s some sort of prank but he knows nothing about it. After poking around Facebook some Emma finds a page about Josh!

This wasn’t a true time travel story. Only glimpses into a future life that was on display on the walls of Facebook. Emma’s reaction to these glimpses is rather dramatic and she jumps to a lot of conclusions. I thought the author’s handled these views into the future really well and thought that Emma’s reactions, while extreme, were spot on for a 16yo girl. Josh tried to be Emma’s conscious and voice of reason.

I have to say that Emma struck me as terribly shallow...seemingly focusing only on outward appearances. But when I stopped and thought about what I was like at that same age and realized that was me too, I cut her some slack. Thankfully Emma does matured due to the experience. Josh, on the other hand, seemed more more mature from the outset, especially in how he handled the whole facebook issue and his feelings for Emma. Of the two, I would have much rather hung out with Josh.

Overall it was a great book and one I would recommend whole heartedly.

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Friday, December 9, 2011

Review: Obsidian

Obsidian: A Lux Novel

by Jennifer L. Armentrout

published on 6 December 2011

Entangled Publishing

268 pages

From the first chapter I was hooked on this book. The rapport between Daemon and Katy was hilarious, witty, brash and totally real world. I felt like I was in the scene watching two teens hash it out! The dialog was believable throughout the whole book, which is something that I find to not be the case in a lot of young adult books. The kids either sound too old or too immature. Jennifer L. Armentrout hit the nail on the head with her dialog. Witty and interesting dialog is always good, but was the story good? YES! Daemon and his sister, Dee are Aliens from the planet Lux and are pretty much stuck on Earth. Their planet was ravished by the Arum who have followed the Luxen to Earth to devour their powers. The Department of Defense knows of them, keeps them under watch and basically lets them be because they do not know what powers the Luxen actually possess. It is important for the Luxen to remain anonymous to avoid DOD repercussions and to avoid death at the hands of an Arum.

Katy moves next door to Daemon and Dee, Luxen who want to keep their distance yet just cannot seem to. Instantly there is chemistry between Daemon and Katy but there is more hate than love in their relationship...if you can call it that! The strife is palpable and visible between them throughout the book. It is the intense feelings for each other that neither one wants to admit or give in to. Daemon is smoking hot and I just loved and hated him to the point of lust! Dee and Katy become close friends much to the disgust of Daemon. He fears Katy's closeness to Dee will ultimately cause him, Dee and the other Luxen harm.

Obsidian is a quick paced book with a good first glimpse into the alien world of the Luxen. There are some 'fight for your life' scenes and a lot of sharp conversation that made me want to inhale this book in one sitting-- putting off all other obligations while doing so!

Don't bother me, I'm reading Obsidian and pining for book two, Onyx. 4 stars!!

Review: TOUCH

TOUCH: A Denazen Novel

by Jus Accardo

published on 1 November 2011

Entangled Publishing

251 pages

Leaving a party late at night, a boy stumbles at Deznee's feet and her world is forever changed. The boy, Kale, is strange, different, damaged. When Dez takes him home (more to upset her father than out of the goodness of her heart) she discovers that nothing is as it seems. Her father is a ruthless head of Denazen, a company that uses people and their unique talents to fit their agenda, to include killing.

Dez has a strong rebellious streak, which makes her pliable and open to understand the world that Kale managed to escape from. Along the way, Kale learns what it is like to be free and under his own devices while Dez discovers her talent and who can and cannot be trusted. Together Dez and Kale set out to free the other Sixes at Denazen and protect Sixes yet to be taken in.

I felt that this book had a bit of an X-Men feel to it. Not to the point that it was a total knock-off and unoriginal, but just enough to make me really like the direction the book was heading in. The story is interesting, fast paced and the ending leaves us wondering what is coming next!

Great read and a superb start to the Denazen series. 4 STARS!!

Review: The Invention of Hugo Cabret

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

by Brian Selznick

published 1 March 2007


533 pages

Orphan Hugo Cabret lives in a wall. His secret home is etched out in the crevices of a busy Paris train station. Part-time clock keeper, part-time thief, he leads a life of quiet routine until he gets involved with an eccentric, bookish young girl and an angry old man who runs a toy booth in the station. The Invention of Hugo Cabret unfolds its cryptic, magical story in a format that blends elements of picture book, novel, graphic novel, and film. Caldecott Honor-winning author-illustrator Brian Selznick has fashioned an intricate puzzle story that binds the reader like a mesmerist's spell. (courtesy of goodreads)

I will begin this review my saying this books was...MAGICAL! It is the first middle grade book I have read since The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. I am so glad I took the time to enjoy The Invention of Hugo Cabret! I was brought into the story not only through narration but the wonderful illustrations that helped bring it to life. It was an experience of multi-sensical joy! The whole time I was reading it I could see where a child would be captivated and on the edge of their seat wondering what would happen to Hugo Cabret next. A wonderful book for a 4th grader on up to read on their own or for a family to read together with younger children. There is magic, invention, suspense, joy, sadness, and strength...all qualities that make a book great! 5 STARS!!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Review: My Soul to Keep

My Soul to Keep
My Soul to Keep by Rachel Vincent

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Holy Hannah!

So in this installment…Kaylee and Nash discover that one of their classmates is high on a new drug called “Frost”. But they know what it really is…Demon’s Breath. Friends are starting to use Frost and lose their ever-lovin minds! So Kaylee and Nash start investigating how their friends are getting it and how to cut off the supply chain.

OK…I have to say that this book started out pretty much like the second book. I can relate to Kaylee’s need to save the world! I would like to think that if I had the power to save someone…anyone…from some devastating event/situation/etc. I would do it. And Kaylee has that drive as well…and it can be to her total detriment. That said, I think if every installment of the series has the weight and well-being of the world on Kaylee’s shoulders, the series would get boring…FAST! And that’s where I thought we were headed with this book. BUT I WAS SO WRONG! Even though R.V. left clues, I like Kaylee didn’t see them! WOW!

I really like Nash, but to quote Kaylee, “Why are you being such a dick?”. He was at times. I thought it was a hormonal, He-Man, kinda thing and I was really getting irritated by him. But the reality was truly heartwrenching! And I thought R.V.’s writing in that area was superb!

Ultimately, I thought the last half of “My Soul to Keep”, was the best of the series thus far! Really worth the price of admission!

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Review: Swoon

Swoon by Nina Malkin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Once again…not sure what I was expecting…but this was not even close to my realm of expectation!

Pulled out of NYC, Candice (AKA “Dice”) and moved to the town of Swoon, CT. She lives across the street from her Aunt, Uncle, and cousins…but her folks still work in NYC so she is basically unsupervised during the week and some weekends when her parents can’t make it home. Which leaves lots of time for trouble and her cousin Pen (Penelope) is usually the one finding it…including when she nearly dies from falling out of a tree. But the knock on her allows a ghost, Sinclair, in, and he has a mission. Sin is gonna need Dice’s help.

Here I assumed that “Swoon” was a reference to that back of the hand on the forehead, about to faint, type of thing…and it’s actually the name of the Conneticut town where the story takes place. LOL – I don’t think I could live in a town called Swoon! I’d be too tempted to actually swoon!

I don’t want to give away major plot points, because they will really drive you to keep reading…so what can I say? That’s the question.

First the storyline was very inventive. A little ghost story, a little time travel, a little “Witches of Eastwick”…at one point during the story I had jotted down that comment…although it total it was nothing like “Witches”. There is a bit of a triangle, but not the kind of triangle you would expect. There is a lot of revenge and good vs. evil. There was a lot going on but it all melded together beautifully and was not confusing or formulaic.

I really like Dice…she was smart, snarky, and yet typically self-conscious. Malkin didn’t pull any punches which I appreciated. Dice smoked pot and has a history of exploring anything and everything…she is probably most like a “human” teen than a lot of YA heroines. She’s been abandoned, for all intents, by her NYC editor Mom and character actor Dad. Dice lives in a house across the street from her Aunt, and her parents try to get home on the weekends…but aren’t always successful. Which explains Dice’s proclivities in a number of ways.

Sin, aka Sinclaire, had a complex story. I loved him at first, so charming! Then I hated him for being manipulative, then I kind of liked him again, then hated him with a passion, then loved him again…he really ran the gamut.

This was a tough one to put down! Because it was so different and so good, I hesitate to read the next book, “Swear” for fear it won’t measure up. Is that awful of me? I think I will read a few other books first and then get into “Swear” when “Swoon” isn’t so fresh in my mind.

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Monday, December 5, 2011

Review: The Candidates

The Candidates
The Candidates by Inara Scott

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Dancia is invited to attend Delcroix Academy as a Freshman. She is hesitant because she feels as though she has never fit in and going to an elite school like Delcroix is sure to magnify her mediocrity. But it’s that mediocrity Dancia uses to hide her secret…whenever she is fearful or feels threatened things kind of happen. Cars crash, buildings collapse, little things like that.

Cam, one of her recruiters, tries to make her feel at home at Delcroix, but the more she gets to know the other freshman, she can’t help but wonder what is so special about her. Why did Delcroix want her? It’s when she befriends Jack that strange things happen and Jack has a theory for why they are both there.

I thought this was going to be a typical love triangle…Dancia is crushing on Cam, a junior, who isn’t encouraging her, but isn’t discouraging her either. Then it becomes apparent Jack has feelings for Dancia, but she is oblivious. Meanwhile it seems Cam and his friends seem to be keeping really close tabs on Jack. The driving force that kept you reading was waiting to find out what was simmering just below the surface. You know there is something hinky at the Academy, but what?

You couldn’t help but like Dancia…she is the epitome of “misfit” and even at the Academy where she gets a completely fresh start, she can’t just let go of all her previous coping mechanisms, nor the negative self-talk. I just wanted to wrap her up in a hug and tell her how wonderful she is and remind her that school is only temporary.

I did enjoy The Candidates. It did lag a bit due to all the backstory, but I think Ms. Scott has created an intriguing world and I will be returning to Delcroix Academy to see where we go from here.

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Review: Shade

Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Aura loves Logan and decides to gift him with her for his birthday. Unfortunately he dies that night. Aura is devastated but thankful she was born after the “shift”. What is the Shift? It was something, unexplainable, that allowed everyone born afterwards to see and interact with ghosts.

Aura is devastated by the loss of Logan. Seeing him just isn’t the same. And when oh-so-Scottish and hunky Zachary moves to town, he makes it clear he only has eyes for Aura and is willing to wait!

I’ve discovered I’m not big on the ghost stories…THIS would be the EXCEPTION! There is the initial story of loss, in Aura’s case, the loss of her first love. But on the flip side she can still see and talk with him. Does that make the loss worse or better? Personally, using Aura as my case study, I think being able to see and talk to him would make the loss worse. There would be that constant reminder of what you had and can no longer have. I would think that would wear on both Aura and Logan after a while. And there are consequences to sticking around too long as well. As you can see Jeri Smith-Ready created a complex set of circumstances.

Then there is the other storyline that is occurring simultaneously…That would be the one with Zachary. He was born just before the shift and can’t see ghosts. Zachary and Aura’s storyline starts out simply but takes on a more sinister tone because they both learn there are several government watching them. For their own safety they shouldn’t be together, but yet are thrown together with school projects and burgeoning feelings toward one another.

I was impressed with how Smith-Ready was able to interweave two completely different storylines so deftly and without confusing the reader or allowing one to die out. Complex characters and very complex storylines make for a highly addictive read! I have the second book in the series and can can’t wait to see what happens next.

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Saturday, December 3, 2011

November Recap - only 3 days late!

Again, I lost track of time and didn't get my monthly recap done. As Homer Simpson would say, "D'oh!"!  Here it is...the books I read in November:

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Review: Hallowed

Hallowed by Cynthia Hand

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I believe I liked Hallowed even better than Unearthly! Lots of revelations! It was…WOW! Absolutely can not wait to see what happens next.

Clara continues to struggle with her purpose and it’s meaning…meanwhile her feeling for Christian deepen in meaning and complexity as do her feelings for Tucker. Clara is now continually dreaming of a very weird scene…Christian is at her side. They are sad. Slowly the scene reveals itself. Clara thinks it’s a funeral. But whose? And why is black wing there? Does it have to do with not fulfilling her purpose? Only time will tell.

What a pleasant surprise Hallowed was! The author totally avoided the “sophomore slump”, making Hallowed more riveting and different than Unearthly. So much was revealed in terms of Christian, Clara’s Mom and even her Dad! Clara grows so much with all that is revealed.

So many elements of the story were beautifully depicted, and there were some heartbreaking moments as well. I did the “ugly” cry in a couple of places! Hallowed really does run the gamut of emotions. One of those books that I truly hated to see end. I suspect that the next book will be equally beautifully written and I will be devastated to see this WONDERFUL series come to an end. But the beauty of having the books is the ability to return to Jackson Hole and see everyone anytime I want and this is one I will revisit often!

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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Review: Stick

Stick by Andrew Smith

Andrew Smith

Published 11 October 2011

Feiwel & Friends

292 pages

Stark (Stick) McClellan and his older brother Bosten endure hell on earth in their little town of Point No Point in Washington. They live by strict rules set down by their "perfect on the outside" parents. Behind closed doors the truth of the real horror is seen. Stark and Bosten are victims of child abuse at the hands of their parents. Together the boys have managed to work within the confines of their parents rules. They are stoic as they endure episode after episode of abuse.

As if being abused at home were not enough for a kid to deal with, Stark is born with anotia, a deformity at birth. This deformity impacts his daily dealing with everyone he encounters. He totally believes he is ugly, not worthy of love. He also seems to think everyone believes him to be dumb because of the deformity. This leads me to my only pet peeve of the whole book. Sometimes the way Stark's internal dialog is written he comes off slow and I felt that was a disservice to this dynamic character. Stark is a typical 13 going on 14 year old, who has raging hormones and is just trying to figure out his place in his dysfunctional world. He is bright, strong and a survivor.

When Stark discovers that Bosten is gay, he know that it is only a matter of time before their parents find out and Bosten will have to leave or face an unspeakable wrath from their father. When that day of discovery arrives, Bosten disappears leaving Stark behind. Stark know he cannot bear living alone with his father so he sets out to look for Bosten in the one place they were able to find happiness--California.

Although this book was an extremely emotional read for me, I have to say I was enamored with the story from the very start. I felt like I was in Stark's head, experiencing everything right along side him. Even though the story involved some heinous actions, it was written in a way that was dignified and endearing for the victims. You just want to be the one to speak up for them, to save them. The love between brothers, the acceptance they showed each other was phenomenal and I think it is what allowed them to survive their own personal hell.

Read this book, it is complex and emotional adventure that is not without hope. I give it 4.5 stars!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Review: Unearthly

Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Clara has one quarter Angel blood running through her veins. Which means she has wings, Glory, oh…and a life’s purpose. Clara started seeing her “purpose” through visions while still living with her Mom and brother in California. Her vision led them to Jackson Hole, Wyoming and Christian…the boy in her vision.

Clara is drawn to Christian like a moth to a flame, only as nice as he is, he only has eyes for Kay. That is until after the prom. Christian and Clara do become friends but it’s put on the back burner while Christian spends the summer in New York.

Clara knows the time is ripe for her vision to be fulfilled…but when she is faced with a choice, will she make the right one?

I do so enjoy the idea of Nephilim and the thought of them walking amongst us. And these angelic stories always grab my attention. The beauty of them is the ultimate in terms of the “good” and “bad” everyone has within themselves…evidenced in the choice Clara has to make.

This story was different than most because Clara knew what she was from the outset of the book as well as knowing she was created for her “life’s purpose”…the vision of what that purpose was didn’t come until later though. Hand does a wonderful job of pulling the reader into her vision of the story. Her storytelling is smooth and flows gracefully. I was totally absorbed and couldn’t wait to see what would happen next…and what happens next is usually something I was not expecting in the least. A couple of loose ends were tied at the end…but many more were left dangling!

I’m glad I didn’t read this until now…after that cliffhanger I don’t know what I would have done if I had to wait to see what would happen next…and I’ve been fortunate to receive a galley of the next book in the series. Can’t wait to dive into it.

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Review: Crave

Crave by Melissa Darnell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Savannah isn’t sure why all of her best friends suddenly turned against her back in 4th grade. One day they were all best friends and were staging a pretend wedding between her and Tristan and the next day she no longer existed. Now Savannah is in high school, still pining for Tristan, and still wondering what happened.

Now as Savannah is going through puberty, she is going through some major changes, and her family tells her the truth…so many truths and now it’s painfully clear what happened back in 4th grade. But it doesn’t change the fact that she is still pining for Tristan and Tristan seems to be going out of his way to be in her presence…but that truth remains and Savannah knows she should stay away from Tristan. But what can you do when your head says one thing, and your heart says something completely different.

I started this book to find out what happened in 4th grade…but stayed to see how it was all going to play out. While we never did really find out what happened in 4th grade, it was implied. I’m also still waiting to see how it’s all going to play out…can you say “series”…I knew you could!

One of my all-time favorite stories is “Romeo and Juliet” and this story definitely has that feel. The families descended from The Clann…and this one little family where Savannah’s parents did the whole star-crossed lovers thing before she was born. Yes, history is repeating itself in a big way. You can’t help but feel for Savannah…her family has been keeping some major, life-altering secrets from her, and as a result she is basically a pariah. Tristan is in the same boat…he doesn’t know what the deal is either. He just knows he is just as drawn to Savannah as he was back in the 4th grade…only know he is old enough to start asserting his wishes over those of his parents.

Savannah is very endearing. You sympathize with her as the “outsider”. Then again when she has to battle between head and her heart. Tristan is completely and utterly charming…you can’t help but fall in love with him…and any guy who will beat up his best friend for being an @$$hole is OK in my book.

The story has it’s predictable moments, but overall a very enjoyable and engaging read. I look forward to the future to see where we go after that cliffhanger.

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Review: Saving June

Saving June
Saving June by Hannah Harrington

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Harper Scott is the trouble maker, the instigator, she is everything her sister June is not. June is the “good” daughter…good student, tutor, golden child, everything comes easy to her. When June takes her own life, Harper has to come to terms not only with the loss of her sister, but also the changes in her that her sister’s death brings…and she does it via a road trip to California with her best friend and one Jake Tolan, who Harper suspects was in love with June.

I loved this book! It’s about suicide and a sister’s attempt to deal with the aftermath. It’s not condescending drivel…it’s witty, and snarky, and dark, and funny. The author’s handling of the subject matter was all the things you would expect…gut-wrenching, emotional, as well as the overwhelming thought of “what did I miss”. I haven’t experienced a loss through suicide, but the author nailed my perception of what it might be like.

Harper’s grief is like a cloak…it covers and absorbs you. Harper is sharp and complex…and watching her evolve during this road trip is something worth reading. Harper’s best friend, Laney, can be pretty shallow and self-absorbed and provides some of the best comic relief. Everything Laney does is with her best friend in mind. Laney is an only child and imagined June as her big sister as well. Laney and Harper are as different as night and day, and complement each other equally well. Which leaves Jake. Jake knew June in a different way and is able to provide insight into parts of her life Harper wasn’t privy to. He also provides a musical backdrop to the journey…his musical choices complement the story and bring it to another level. The version of this book I read, had the playlists listed in the back, I wish I had known because I would have loved to create playlists to listen to while I was reading. Just so happens Jake and I have similar musical tastes.

My only complaint would be the first stop on the trip…that was a strange group of friends and the whole “demonstration” just seemed out of place. Not quite sure what it’s purpose was other than to show that June had met this group in the past.

This was a wonderful book…I can’t recommend it highly enough.

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Review: The Stolen

The Stolen
The Stolen by Celia Thomson

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I’m going to be lazy and borrow the GoodReads synopsis for this one:
She argues with her mother. She occasionally skips class. And she alternately crushes on two totally different boys. But Chloe King is by no means your typical teenager. The girl can scale buildings and see in the dark. Sometimes, at night, she even likes to leap from rooftop to rooftop. Yes, Chloe has the instincts and ability of a cat. And that makes her unique indeed. It also makes her a wanted woman. Because the Order of the Tenth Blade does not deal kindly with people like Chloe. It stalks them. Preys upon them. And wants many of them -- like Chloe, for instance -- dead.

What brought me back to the Chloe King books was watching the series on Netflix. If you don’t know, the ABC Family channel brought this series to life for one season…it didn’t get picked up for a second and, of course, there was a cliffhanger. So, I was curious to see if that cliffhanger was in the book and what happened. It wasn’t…which was fine, I pretty much expected it, but I can’t say as I like where this book went.

I’m not a fan of this series…but I can’t quite pick out what it is that I don’t care for. I’m not sure if it’s the writing, the story, or a combination of the two. The characters are annoying in their whiney, “the whole world revolves around me” kind of way. Everyone just seems shallow and vapid which I expect from teenagers but not the adults. I forced my way through this book, but won’t be reading the third.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Review: The Lost Saint

The Lost Saint
The Lost Saint by Bree Despain

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It’s ten months since the end of “The Dark Devine”. Everyone is looking for Jude…especially Grace’s Dad. He’s been spending more time away than home. Meanwhile Grace’s Mom cycles between extreme lows and manic highs. Grace is trying to get Daniel to train her to use her powers, but he is reluctant.

Grace makes a new friend in Talbot who is more than happy to train Grace…he takes his “Hounds of Heaven” demon killing responsibilities very seriously. It’s also painfully obvious that he has feelings for Grace that go beyond Teacher/Pupil. Meanwhile Daniel is keeping secrets from Grace which is driving a wedge between them.

So many of the reviewers, below, thought this book was better than “The Dark Devine”…It was definitely more action packed, and built upon the mythology revealed in Devine…but I think I prefer the first story. As is typical, Grace and Daniel are past the blush of “new love” so they have moved onto lying and keeping secrets from one another to save the other. Cliched, I know…but the story was good, if a touch on the predictable side. And the cliffhanger was a good one! I am looking forward to see how the series finishes.

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Monday, November 21, 2011

Review: The Dark Divine

The Dark Divine
The Dark Divine by Bree Despain

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Grace Divine! How’s that for a name! And she’s a PK, a “Preacher’s Kid”. Grace always knew something awful happened between her brother Jude and his best friend Daniel (who she has loved for years)…but she never knew what. One night she and her younger siblings were sent to stay with her Grandmother for 3 weeks and when they came home Daniel was gone and no one ever spoke of “that night”

It’s now several years later and Grace discovers a very different looking Daniel in her high school AP Art class holding some of her work. She is shocked! She mentions that Daniel is back and the whole world starts to cave in on itself.

It’s a long journey to the truth of what happened…one no one will forget and some may never recover from.

Couldn’t put this one down…just devoured it in one sitting. I had to know what happened between Daniel and Jude! Ohhh and it was big enough to carry all the mystery and suspense! I could deduce what the secret Daniel was hiding, but didn’t see the other big reveal coming until it hit me. That was a surprise!

I could totally relate to Grace in regards to Daniel being her first love and all the emotional highs and lows that go with it…especially since everyone but Daniel seemed to know she was in love with him. Grace wanted, so much, to save Daniel…yet another aspect a lot of us women can relate to. I thought Daniel and Grace were really sweet together.

Thankfully I have the second book all queued up on the Kindle ready to dive in. I hope it’s as good as The Dark Devine was!

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Review: Wide Awake

Wide Awake
Wide Awake by Daniele Lanzarotta

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Kayla is 16 and was adopted as a very young child by a loving couple who basically give her everything! She tends to be a little spoiled and a bit snotty! But that changes when suddenly she is seeing this little girl just about everywhere she goes. It takes Kayla a while to realize that the girl is a ghost. When she makes that realization she also discovers there is a “guy” in her math class that is just bugging the heck out of her…only she can see him too…or so it seems. Turns out Hunter, a kid she grew up with, can see the girl and the guy as well but his interaction with them is a bit different. For example Hunter can’t see the girl, but he can physically interact with the male ghost. Hunter and Kayle discover the guy ghost is actually a demon and he is making life a living hell!

First I have to say that I HATED the ending of this book…it was so cheesy and abrupt. It reminded me of a Friday episode of any soap opera.

Kayla is a brat and calls the people who raised her by their names rather than “mom” and “dad”…I think the least they deserve is to be called Mom and Dad especially after all they have done and given Kayla! Kayla was wishy washy…she liked Hunter but wouldn’t give into it because of the high school caste system…he wasn’t “good enough” for her. So she kept going back to her previous boyfriend who had been cheating on her with one of her best friends. Um…HELLO!?!...anyone else want to smack some sense into this girl???

Hunter I did like…accept for the pining after Kayla crap! I would have preferred the story center around Hunter and the Academy rather than Miss Whiney! I will be checking out the next book in the series in the hopes that it will focus more on the Academy now that we’ve read all the backstory. Here’s hoping it reaches it’s potential!

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