Sunday, May 29, 2011

Dreaming Anastasia by Joy Preble

Dreaming Anastasia by Joy Preble
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Release Date: 9/1/09
Pages: 310
Grade: C

Synopsis (from Goodreads): Anastasia Romanov thought she would never feel more alone than when the gunfire started and her family began to fall around her. Surely the bullets would come for her next. But they didn't. Instead, two gnarled old hands reached for her. When she wakes up she discovers that she is in the ancient hut of the witch Baba Yaga, and that some things are worse than being dead.
In modern-day Chicago, Anne doesn't know much about Russian history. She is more concerned about getting into a good college—until the dreams start. She is somewhere else. She is someone else. And she is sharing a small room with a very old woman. The vivid dreams startle her, but not until a handsome stranger offers to explain them does she realize her life is going to change forever. She is the only one who can save Anastasia. But, Anastasia is having her own dreams…

Review: I love anything having to do with the Romanovs and Rasputin. Truth be told and I love anything Russian! So I was really excited to pick up this novel. While it didn't gloss over the horror of the Romanov's execution, it was kind of nice to pretend that maybe Anastasia might have lived. I loved how Joy Preble was able to intertwine the the Russian elements (folklore, matroshka dolls), history, and present day.

I was not a fan of the shifting perspectives...I often had to flip back a few pages to see whose name was at the top of the chapter and figure out who was "speaking". I would have preferred to have more info about Ethan and his life prior to finding Anne...actually I didn't have strong feelings for any of the characters, other than Anastasia.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Spellbound by Cara Lynn Schultz

Spellbound  by Cara Lynn Schultz
Published by: Harlequin Teen
Release Date: 6/28/11
Pages: 384
Grade: C+/B-

I'm a total sucker for a "star-crossed lovers" story and this is one. Emma has had an incredibly rough couple of years. Now she is living with her Aunt Christine and attending a private school in NYC. School is where she meets her soulmate, no, really, Brendan is her soulmate. And their meeting kicks off a curse that has been following them for a thousand years. Will they suffer the same fate in this life as they did in their previous reincarnations? Or can they find a way to break the curse?

This was just a fun, quick read. Brendan's character is not really fully formed. The story is predictable. But none of that matters when the story grabs you and won't let go. The prefect read for sitting by the pool this summer!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A. S. King

Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A. S. King
Publisher: Knoph Publishing
Release Date: 10/12/10
Pages: 336
Grade: B

**Printz Award Winner for Excellance in Young Adult Literature**

Vera Dietz is dealing with the aftermath of her former best friend, Charley Kahn's death. It's the story of their friendship, both kids surviving troubling home lives, and it's the story of their friendship's demise...that demise ultimately culminates in Charley's death a few days before the start of their senior year in high school.

The story is mostly told from Vera's perspective, but there are chapters by her father and "the dead guy", which made for some amusing moments. Vera and Charley are face with some moral dilemma's, where Charley makes the wrong choice, Vera chooses not to choose at all. Vera's inability to choose affects how she deals with, or doesn't deal with Charley's death.

I thought AS King did a beautiful job of creating a well rounded character in Vera. She has a great voice. She is imperfect and knows it. She makes bad choices and learns from them. Vera grows into the kind of young adult we wish everyone would grow into. I really loved Vera!

Eona by Allison Goodman

EONA by Allison Goodman
Publisher: Penguin Group
Release Date: 4/19/11
Pages: 637
Grade: A

Eona picks up right where EON left off. Eona has made it know to the true Emperor, Kygo, that Lord Eon is really Lady Eona and the Emperor has 12 days to challenge his Uncle for the Throne. But to do that, Kygo, must gather the resistance fighters and Eona must learn to control her dragon. Lord Ido, the evil Rat Dragoneye, is the only surviving Dragoneye, and he is jailed, so they must break him out so Eona can learn to control her dragon.

There is so much going on in this story, there is the impending war, avoiding detection while trying to meet with the resistance, two love triangles, magic, fighting dragons, families reunited, friends lost and found, politics, honor/morality issues, made for a real swashbuckling adventure that I found impossible to put down...starting and finishing the book all in the same day.  I have so many library patrons that ask for strong central female characters and I will be pointing them in the direction of this series.

Allison Goodman has such a vivid imagination. She was juggling so many plot points and still managed not to lose anything.  All the loose ends were neatly tied up and while everything indicates that this series will only be the two books, I think there was enough room left for a third, if not, the ending of Eona was beautiful and left sappy, old me with tears running down my face.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Release Date: Sept 13, 2011
Publisher: Doubleday
Pages: 400
Grade: A

"The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it, no paper notices on downtown posts and billboards. No mentions or advertisements in local newspapers. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not." And so starts The Night Circus. A richly and beautifully detailed story that takes place at the turn of the 19th century, in a circus that only operates from dusk until dawn.

Celia and Marco are the unwitting pawns in a game where they don't know the rules or how the winner is determined. It is a game of magic and the venue is the black and white striped tent of The Night Circus,  with it's utterly exquisite amazements.

The width and breadth of the author's imagination is worth the price of admission alone! She creates such a beautiful and vivid landscape. There is a love story that was a little slow developing, but it was beautifully told, adding to my inability to put the book down. My only complaint would be the timeline that hops back and forth, while it made the story intriguing, I noticed a couple of complaints about the "jagged timeline" from other readers, I only had to check dates once and that was towards the end.

"You may tell a tale that takes up residence in somone's soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows what they may do because of it, because of your words. That is your role, your gift." ~ Erin Morgenstern, The Night Circus

I LOVED this story and found somewhere on the net that the movie rights have already been purchased, so it may be hitting the screen somewhere in the next couple of yourself a favor and read the book! It is so beautifully imagined and written, it has to be read to be believed!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

EON: Dragoneye Reborn by Allison Goodman

EON: Dragoneye Reborn by Allison Goodman
Release Date: 12/26/08
Publisher: Viking Press
Pages: 536
Grade: B

I really hadn't planned on reading this story, but, the library received the second book from the Junior Library Guild. Now, I hate to have parts of a series. To me it seems pointless to only have the conclusion of this story...So I jumped on Amazon and ordered this, the first book.

Once it arrived, I opened it up and read the first couple of pages and was much for not planning to read this book.

It's the story of an Asian-like country, much like China or Japan say 500 years ago, where dragons still exist. Only the dragons aren't flesh and blood more like pure energy. These dragons choose and "link" with a human boy. These boys go through a 12 year apprenticeship, and then when they ascend to the title of Master, and another apprentice will be chosen. These masters are called Dragoneyes. These Dragoneyes can call upon their dragon to harness their energy and use it for the good of the people. Eon is one of the boys training to hopefully by chosen by the next dragon as an apprentice. One problem, all the people training to be chose as apprentices are 11 year old boys, Eon is actually a 16 year old girl!

This story moves fast and there is a lot going on. The author did not want to make this a "Japanese" or "Chinese" story, so she researched both, culturally, then tweaked it to make it fit her fictional country...You could feel that the basis was Asian, but it was only implied. 

Eon/a was pretty dense in parts...I was able to predict a lot of the big plot points. It may have been predictable in some areas, but that didn't detract from the writing or the story's style. The author was very detailed in her descriptions, but not to the point of boredom, she had a fine balance...enough to envision what she was trying to convey, but no unnecessary minutia.

I'm thankful that I didn't start EON until the second book Eona came out, because the author left you with quite a cliffhanger...I only have to wait until I get to work tomorrow to pick up where EON leaves off. So glad I didn't have to wait from 2008 when EON was written until now to find out what happens!

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Throne of Fire (Kane Chronicles #2) by Rick Riordan

The Throne of Fire (Kane Chronicles #2) by Rick Riordan
Release Date: 5/3/11
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Pages: 452
Grade: C

Throne of Fire picks up shortly after Red Pyramid ended. Carter and Sadie Kane have discovered that Apophis, the God of Chaos, is very close to breaking out of his prison. That prison will be at it's weakest on the Spring Equinox which is only 4 days away. Carter and Sadie think the only way to save the world as they know it is to awaken Ra...which no one has seen in thousands of years. The other Egyptian Gods don't think Ra is the way to go.

This was pretty standard Rick Riordan fare. Nothing terribly new or exciting. I do enjoy seeing what Gods Riordan will include and how and where they take the story. Riordan does do an incredible amount of research for his books. They are a pretty fun ride.

When God Was a Rabbit by Sarah Winman

When God Was A Rabbit by Sarah Winman

Release Date: 5/10/11
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Pages: 304
Grade: B

I won a copy of this book through the "First Reads" program on

"When God Was A Rabbit" is a coming of age tale of siblings Elly and Joe Maud. Joe is five years older and by his own definition is "different". Joe feels a strong sense of responsibility towards his little sister...a need to protect and watch over her. Elly, meanwhile is precocious, questions everything and very funny in her observations about life. When Elly is school aged she befriends Jenny Penny who is her "other half". Elly's family moves away and Elly loses touch with Jenny. Molestation and domestic violence are hinted at as the reasons behind how Elly and Jenny lose touch and why Elly has such a hard time making commitments throughout her life.

The story told in two parts, adolescence and adulthood, with a fascinating cast of characters. Ultimately this is a tale of loss...loss of friendship, family, innocence, one's self.  The character's grapple with a lot of loss, but are able to find those things that are most precious to them again and learn to hold on for dear life.

Sarah Winman is an engaging and witty writer. She grabbed my attention with the first page and did not let go. I felt there were a few questions left unresolved, but based on the book as a whole, I believe the intention was to leave those answers up to the reader's imagination. I did enjoy how the brother and sister related to one another, they held nothing back from each other. The kind of relationship those with siblings usually only dream of. I hope to see more books from Sarah Winman in the future.