Friday, April 29, 2011

"The Summer I Turned Pretty" by Jenny Han

"Belly measures her life in summers. Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August. Winters are simply a time to count the weeks until the next summer, a place away from the beach house, away from Susannah, and most importantly, away from Jeremiah and Conrad. They are the boys that Belly has known since her very first summer--they have been her brother figures, her crushes, and everything in between. But one summer, one terrible and wonderful summer, the more everything changes, the more it all ends up just the way it should have been all along."-goodreads

I have had several people recommend I read this book. It looked cute. It looked like one of those very straightforward, predictable, fluffy beach reads. I was in the mood for a light read, so I thought I'd pick this up. I was wrong. I still enjoyed it. It was still a tad light/girly/fluffy at times, but, it was MUCH more. 

Read the description, think of the title, take a look at the cover. You can't tell me you don't think the plot is like this: Girl hangs out with two boys for her whole life. They're friends, but, girl discovers that she'd like them to be MORE than friends. Girl falls in love with one/both of the boys. Yay. It works out. Dundundun blahblahblah happily ever after! However, the people that recommended me this book told me it was a lot more than what it sounded like, and I believed them. I'm so glad I believed them.

There are much deeper issues in this book. The plot is not straightforward. Most importantly, THE WRITING. The way the story was told, just the way it was written, that's probably my favorite part. The whole book takes place in summers. The main part of the book is in the summer where Belly is almost 16, but as the story progresses there are chapters of flashbacks to previous summers, with related stories to what's going on now and I loved that! It contributed so much important back story when it was needed and helped explain how everything was the way it was. The writing itself is really good too, distinct and clear.

I really appreciated that there were deeper themes and problems running through the book, parent's separations, divorces, and the lack of a father figure: complex family relationships. The impact of Belly's ever-since-she-was-little crush on Conrad. Susannah's illness. They all made this book more complicated, in a good way, and brought deep emotions out in all of the characters.

I really don't have anything bad to say about this book. I'm actually not the biggest fan of the main character, Belly, because I thought she was a little bit hard to connect to because she's a little bit whiny and she just had... interesting logic at times, but I think she was still pretty realistically a teenage girl, and her emotions felt real. I didn't mind that Belly annoyed me sometimes, it doesn't really impact my opinion on the book.

Overall, The Summer I Turned Pretty is a beach-y, coming of age sort of novel with actual substance. It's not your average fluffy-girly-beach book. I'm really looking forward to reading the second one. Read it. :)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

"Cloaked" by Alex Flinn

"I'm not your average hero. I actually wasn't your average anything. Just a poor guy working an after-school job at a South Beach shoe repair shop to help his mom make ends meet. But a little magic changed it all. It all started with a curse. And a frognapping. And one hot-looking princess, who asked me to lead a rescue mission.
There wasn't a fairy godmother or any of that. And even though I fell in love along the way, what happened to me is unlike any fairy tale I've ever heard. Before I knew it, I was spying with a flock of enchanted swans, talking (yes, talking!) to a fox named Todd, and nearly trampled by giants in the Everglades.
Don't believe me? I didn't believe it either. But you'll see. Because I knew it all was true, the second I got cloaked."-goodreads

I really like Alex Flinn's modern takes on fairy tales, and this is no exception. Cloaked is different than Flinn's previous fairy tale related books, as rather than the book focusing on one or two mainstream sorts of fairy tales, the book contains elements from a lot of different, lesser-known fairy tales. I never would have known that, the book didn't seem like it was slapped together, the plot was combined rather seamlessly. It was very interesting, probably more so that her other books, just in the way that you didn't really know what to expect since it's not like a fairy tale you've ever heard of.

Cloaked was not what I expected it to be. Looking back to before I read the book, I'm not particularly sure what I did expect. I don't mean this in a bad way, but the book just seems a little different then the description. I'm having a really hard time articulating this, sorry. I think the description made Johnny, our protagonist, sound a lot like Jack from A Kiss in Time or a bit like Kyle from Beastly. He was a little bit similar, but I also thought he was a lot different, if nothing else, because Jack seemed a little bit cocky at times just like Kyle. Confident. Johnny wasn't like that. It made the whole story seem a bit different from Flinn's other fairy tale books. This could be my imagination, but this review is for my opinion, right? It wasn't a bad thing, either, just something to note.

Other than that, while telling a different story, I felt that Cloaked was very similar to Flinn's other fairy tale adaptions. I felt Cloaked shared the same strengths and probably the same weaknesses as Beastly and A Kiss in Time. I don't mean this in a bad way as if I felt that I was reading the same thing or that it was boring, they're just similar. Overall, I enjoyed Cloaked and recommend it to anyone looking for a not-so-traditional fairy tale, as I recommend Alex Flinn's other books. I also really want to read Breaking Point, as it's a contemporary un-related to fairy tales (Alex Flinn has several of those.) and I'm interested to see how it is!

Monday, April 25, 2011

"White Cat" (Curseworkers, #1) by Holly Black

"Cassel comes from a family of curse workers — people who have the power to change your emotions, your memories, your luck, by the slightest touch of their hands. And since curse work is illegal, they're all mobsters, or con artists. Except for Cassel. He hasn't got the magic touch, so he's an outsider, the straight kid in a crooked family. You just have to ignore one small detail — he killed his best friend, Lila, three years ago. Ever since, Cassel has carefully built up a façade of normalcy, blending into the crowd. But his façade starts crumbling when he starts sleepwalking, propelled into the night by terrifying dreams about a white cat that wants to tell him something. He's noticing other disturbing things, too, including the strange behavior of his two brothers. They are keeping secrets from him, caught up in a mysterious plot. As Cassel begins to suspect he's part of a huge con game, he also wonders what really happened to Lila. Could she still be alive? To find that out, Cassel will have to out-con the conmen."-goodreads

I know that Holly Black has come out with a bunch of YA stuff other than the Curseworkers series, but White Cat is the first I've read. I didn't even realize she was coming out with any YA stuff for quite a while. I'm very glad I did find out. I love Holly Black's writing, and I've loved it ever since I was 7 or 8 and picked up her "The Spiderwick Chronicles" series, which I adored. Ate it up. I read all of them, over and over, in VERY short periods of time. I figured, after loving those so much, I'd have to adore her newer stuff. I did!

The crime family of 'workers' situation, a little bit like that of Heist Society by Ally Carter was very cool. The theme of complicated family situations throughout the book was great. The universe where everyone's a worker, or they're not, and that it's wrong, but it's not against the law-- that whole concept was really great. It was so out of the ordinary, yet Mrs. Black managed to make it feel like real life. The whole book felt really real, so real that it's probably an account of something actually happening. That's how real her writing is.

White Cat took a lot of complicated, surprising, sometimes very confusing twists and turns. I really enjoyed all of them as they were almost all VERY surprising, but they confused me at times. Big changes happened in very little time with little explanation sometimes. At first, I didn't like this at all but THEN I really liked it, because it felt very real, and felt very much like I was seeing everything the way Cassel was. He was confused. He didn't expect these things. He wasn't a worker. He didn't know what his family was doing... all of it just illustrated how he didn't know what he was doing, it just all lead back to a gritty real-ness of the whole book. 

Going along with the theme of real-ness, the characters were really complex and believable as well. I really liked Cassel and Lila and pretty much everyone. Barron was a tragic and interesting case. The cat was an interesting character, but I kind of already said that... didn't I? If you read the book you know what I'm talking about. If not, you'll find out.

I loved that it was complicated crime families. I loved that it was modern magic-- no faeries, no wands, no bunnies flying out of hats. A very believable fantasy, where magic is cursing and it effects people-- whether the person doing it knows it- or not. I really enjoyed White Cat and if you enjoyed Black's earlier books or Heist Society and anything else along those lines you'll like it too.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

"The Iron Queen" by Julie Kagawa (Iron Fey, #3)

(If you haven't read the first two books and 1.5 in this series, you should probably look at those reviews first! The Iron King, Winter's Passage, and The Iron Daughter.)
"My name is Meghan Chase.I thought it was over. That my time with the fey, the impossible choices I had to make, the sacrifices of those I loved, was behind me. But a storm is approaching, an army of Iron fey that will drag me back, kicking and screaming. Drag me away from the banished prince who's sworn to stand by my side. Drag me into the core of conflict so powerful, I'm not sure anyone can survive it.
This time, there will be no turning back."-goodreads

I thought I liked the Iron King. Then, I thought I liked the Iron Daughter even MORE. I thought The Iron Queen couldn't get much better than those? Right? Wrong! The Iron Queen was way better than the first two, and I adored it! Now, let's talk about why.

SURPRISING TWISTS. Jeez. If nothing else, this series is filled with some pretty epic twists. The end, for example? I did not expect that to happen to Meghan. Then I thought she was dead. Then I was surprised AGAIN. But, that's the thing, because there is WAY more to this series.

The modern world/faery world, that the whole Iron Fey series is set in is very different from anything I've ever read before. As I've said before, the world is probably one of the most fascinating parts. And, naturally, I love Meghan and Ash. Puck is still really funny. I felt kind of bad for him at times, as I did in The Iron Daughter. Also, has anyone noticed that Ash and Will from Clockwork Angel are very similar? They are to me, anyway.

If this review seems kind of random, it's because I'm trying VERY hard to say nothing that will totally spoil at least the first two books. So, it's kind of a mini-review. All I can tell you is that you absolutely must read the Iron Fey series if you want to read a fantasy that's quite different. Love it. The Iron Queen is the best one of the series! Mrs. Julie Kagawa is REALLY awesome. Just saying.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Cold Tom by Sally Prue

There were two things he needed very much to know.
Firstly, why did Edie feel herself under threat from the Tribe?
And, secondly, with all the exists guarded, however was he going to get out?
Tom is one of the Tribe... An elven race that lives in the Common, near the demon- human- city. They avoid the demons at all costs, making sure there's a guard whenever possible.
But one day Tom lets the demons in, and they almost find the Tribe. Tom knows he has to run away, and fast. Who knows what the Tribe would do to him?
He finds himself in the Demon city, the last place he wants to be. Hiding out in a little shack, with a injured foot, he's found by a demon, Anna. She's too loud and too warm and too bulky for Tom. He hates her, and he hates her brother, Joe, even more. He wants to leave. He wants to call on the stars and become invisible, and slip away. He needs to get away, before the demons enslave him. He needs to get away before he grows attached to him. At least his family- even though they're trying to kill him- does enslave them. No, the Tribe is free. Free and full of hatred.
But if Tom doesn't belong with the Tribe... And he doesn't belong with the demons...
What does he do?
"How should I know? It was probably Tom trying to kill me. And he got away."
"Or blown into a million pieces."
"Well, it's not my fault," said Joe irritably. "You don't think I encouraged him, do you? You don't think I said,
oh, and how about blasting the shed to smithereens? I mean, that's what I really wanted, wasn't it, having my eyebrows burned off and having to explain to Dad and Evelyn why half the garden's exploded."
I was going through my books yesterday, choosing which ones I wanted to keep, and which ones could go away. I sorted through most of them, but then I found Cold Tom. At first the cover almost made me not read it (I generally think that books with covers like this one has are going to be stupid, kind of like alliterating titles), but then I decided that... Hey... It's a short book. Only 187 pages, short chapters, and big print. I had a half a day to read it before I had to give it away... Why not read it, write a review, and then either decide to give it away or keep, based on how I liked it?

It took me three hours to read.
And I liked it.

Granted, It was very, VERY, predictable. I had predicted the so called "plot twists" miles away from when they came, and the characters weren't very deep. The ending was odd, and I didn't exactly like Tom.
But even though there were so many reasons why I shouldn't like this book, I really did. Weird.
It was interesting, and I haven't read anything like it. I'd give it about three stars.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

"Hex Hall" by Rachel Hawkins

"On her 12th birthday, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch. Three bumpy years later, after a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, she's exiled to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, faeries, and shapeshifters.
By the end of her first day, Sophie has quite a scorecard: three powerful enemies who look like supermodels, a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock, a creepy tagalong ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person and only vampire on campus. Then when a mysterious predator begins attacking students, and Sophie's only friend is the number-one suspect, a horrifying plot begins to surface. Soon, Sophie is preparing for the biggest threat of all: an ancient society determined to destroy all Prodigium, especially her."-goodreads

Hex Hall was a funny, cute book that was a relatively quick read. I enjoyed it, and I liked Sophie, who was a pretty good narrator. I thought it was interesting, with Sophie not really knowing what was going on with her being a witch or anything about her dad. The whole concept of Hecate Hall, where all the misbehaving creatures went was great.

I liked this book, but I admittedly had a problem with some character flaws. Sophie falls for Archer, the gorgeous warlock, which is fine and everything, predictable, but cute. The problem I had is that Archer was pretty mean to her, and regardless of how that suddenly changes, I don't really like it when books go all, girl likes boy, boy is mean, girl still likes boy, and acts like he has no flaws. Also, Sophie swore a lot, which is perfectly fine, I don't care, it was just that she seemed pretty logical and intelligent and everything and then she seemed to say things that didn't go along with that at all. So, those two things got on my nerves, although they didn't ruin the book for me or anything, I still enjoyed it.

My favorite elements of the book were probably the way the story ended up; who the 'ghost' was, how Sophie didn't know about what she was or what her family was, and the whole thing didn't end up the way I thought it would. I thought it was interesting how the school had all these creatures, the fairies, vampires, witches, warlocks, werewolves, and all of them were there because they'd done something or other they shouldn't have.

Anyway, if you're looking for a cute read, or if you need something light to get you out of a reading rut, this would probably be good. As well as if you want a written version of something kind of reminiscent of the Halloweentown movies for older audiences. I'll definitely be reading Demonglass soon. Also, I like the cover, even more so after reading the book-- but I do think it's a bit preppy/young girly looking for the book.

Monday, April 18, 2011

"Everlost" by Neal Shusterman

"Nick and Allie don't survive the car accident...but their souls don't exactly get where they're supposed to get either. Instead, they're caught halfway between life and death, in a sort of limbo known as Everlost: a shadow of the living world, filled with all the things and places that no longer exist. It's a magical yet dangerous place where bands of lost children run wild and anyone who stands in the same place too long sinks to the center of the Earth.

When they find Mary, the self-proclaimed queen of lost kids, Nick feels like he's found a home. But Allie isn't satisfied spending eternity between worlds. Against all warnings, Allie begins learning the "Criminal Art" of haunting and ventures into dangerous territory, where a monster called the McGill threatens all the souls of Everlost."-goodreads 

This book has been on my TBR list for a while. People told me it was good, but no one told me just how amazing it was and that if I liked 'different' kinds of Dystopias that almost didn't even seem like they were that I had to read this book. If I'd known that I would have read it sooner.

This is a dystopian novel published well before the Dystopian craze, so it hasn't been appreciated as much as it should have been. I love dystopian novels but I especially like it when the reason it's a dystopia, the controlling element that's creating the world so it runs as it does, so that everything is controlled, I like it when that's different. For example, in "The Dark and Hollow Places" there's no government creating such a terrible world, it's the fact that they're surrounded by ZOMBIES. In Everlost, the element is that the characters are Afterlifes. They are stuck in Everlost, a land that seems to be between the living and wherever the dead are supposed to go. The children are in the living world, but no one knows they are there. The only place where they are safe from sinking into the ground like the lost souls that they are is if they're on dead spots-- places where people have died-- and places that have a lot of love and memory still in them.

Which brings me to one of my favorite settings and elements of the story, The Twin Towers. There are many Afterlifes still living in the beautiful places that are the twin towers, because no one will forget them. It's safe for them and they still get to appreciate their beauty and live there in Everlost. There are other places like this as well, but they're the main ones of the story. 

The Afterlifes were fascinating on their own. The way they could forget themselves and what they looked like, and the way some of them acted. It was bizarre, and a concept (along with the rest of the world that is Everlost) that just seemed really brilliant to me. The world itself is probably my favorite part of the book.

The main characters were really great as well, they seemed very real. I tried to think about how I would react if I suddenly came to Everlost because of my untimely death and didn't know what was going on; and it was probably just how I would react. It's incredibly realistic.

The twists and turns. I really did not know where the story would end up while I was reading the last few chapters. I did not think about the coins at all or what they did, and I didn't think that Mary was doing what she was doing. I know it's a trilogy so I had thought that nothing much was going to happen at the end because that's how it was starting to turn out, but then the last few chapters. Wow. Lots happened. 

I really can't say anymore because I'm going to spoil everything, but Everlost was really good and if you enjoy an odd dystopian novel or more importantly a really excellent sci-fi novel that touches on so many different themes and ideas, you should definitely pick up Everlost. I can't wait to read the rest of the trilogy!
Thank you very much Simon&Schuster for surprising me with a review copy in preparation for the third book, coming soon.
Reader's Note: Review copies in no way, shape, or form change how I'd review a book, and they never  will. UNBIASED.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

"Clockwork Angel" by Cassandra Clare (Infernal Devices, #1)

Tessa Gray's parents are dead. She lives with her Aunt in New York. Her brother, Nathaniel, went away a while ago to London for work. Her aunt has died and she's going to travel across the seas to her brother so they can live in London. Little does she know, her brother doesn't wait for her in London, but terrible forces do. There's evil and lots of knowledge waiting for Tessa in London; along with her brother. She'll also meet up with a lot of shadowhunters, including an attractive; seemingly emotionless one. That's how Clockwork Angel starts.

Clockwork Angel is the first book in a planned trilogy that is going to be a prequel sort of series to The Mortal Instruments. The other two books in the Infernal Devices series are going to be called "Clockwork Prince" and "Clockwork Princess".

I have a confession: I haven't read the Mortal Instruments yet. I plan to, especially after reading this book, but I haven't yet. My friend told me there weren't any spoilers and I could start with Clockwork Angel if I liked. I decided to.

It was really good. I haven't read a whole lot of books regarding demons, so that was a plus. There were vampires, but not cheesy sparkly ones. There was talk of warlocks, which is cool. The thing I like about that is the multiple types of paranormal, not just one.

Tessa, Jem, and Will were fascinating characters, as were pretty much everyone else. I enjoyed their back stories, all unique. Tessa's unknowingly not being totally human. Jem's disease due to poison and torture. Will's mysterious background.

There was a lot of fighting and action, along with mysteries and good stories and descriptions, so that was good. A lot of enjoyable elements. It's another book set in the 1800s, which was kind of cool after having just read The Vespertine. It was very creepy and gothic.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and I think I will appreciate it even more after I read The Mortal Instruments! (Which I plan to do. Soon!) I'm also very much looking forward to Clockwork Prince!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

"The Vespertine" by Saundra Mitchell

"It’s the summer of 1889, and Amelia van den Broek is new to Baltimore and eager to take in all the pleasures the city has to offer. But her gaiety is interrupted by disturbing, dreamlike visions she has only at sunset—visions that offer glimpses of the future. Soon, friends and strangers alike call on Amelia to hear her prophecies. However, a forbidden romance with Nathaniel, an artist, threatens the new life Amelia is building in Baltimore. This enigmatic young man is keeping secrets of his own—still, Amelia finds herself irrepressibly drawn to him.
When one of her darkest visions comes to pass, Amelia’s world is thrown into chaos. And those around her begin to wonder if she’s not the seer of dark portents, but the cause."-goodreads

I've read lot's of Paranormal books, and many Historical books. Those are basically my two favorite sub-genres of YA, so you can probably imagine that when I found out about a beautifully written, pretty covered book by the name of The Vespertine, I was very excited by the prospect.

I was NOT disappointed at all. It was amazing, just like everyone kept telling me it would be. It was soooo beautifully written, I felt like I was in the 1800s with Amelia and really involved in the story, and the writing just flowed nice and painted a brilliant picture of what was going on at all times. I really didn't think that Paranormal could flow very well for me in the 1800s, because I'd just never read anything like that, but I was proved wrong.

Amelia's unpreventable glimpses into the future and their unpredictable, usually messy consequences were filled with lots of different emotions. Just the way she and Zora handled her ability and going around to people and using it with no worries at first... it was very interesting. Amelia and Zora's relationship was particularly interesting because their friendship was boring at first but then they came to be kind of rebels together. Well, as close to rebelling for a young lady as you could be in that period, I suppose. It was funny.

Zora and Amelia's friendship leads me to their dances and their gentlemen. Zora and Thomas were cute. And of course then there's Amelia's love, Nathaniel. It was interesting, him being a fourteenth and socially unacceptable because he's an ARTIST. A deep starving artist, right? Yeah. The twist about what he actually was, wasn't something that I expected and that was really good.

Overall, The Vespertine was an amazing story and I can't wait for the sequel! I can't wait to read more of Saundra Mitchel's writing and I'm eager to pick up Shadowed Summer, a horror novel that she released before The Vespertine. If you like historical stuff from the 1800s, paranormal elements, and a 'forbidden' romance because the guy is an artist, you'll love the Vespertine; because it was amazing.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

"Beautiful Creatures" by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

"Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she's struggling to conceal her power, and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town's oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.
In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything."-goodreads

I have to admit, I almost didn't read this book. There were several reasons involved in this: when it came out, it was during the time where every single book was about VAMPIRES. Read the description. The 'secret' could easily be vampires, right? Second; it's LONG. I LOVE long books, because as long as a book is good it can go on forever and I'll be happy about that. But, despite people saying good things about it I thought it was about vampires and I'd read enough of those.

Fast-Forward to 2 weeks ago at the library. I saw this book sitting on the shelf and read the description again. I recalled thinking it was about vampires, but realized it never said that, and a couple of my friends are really into this book and had recommended it to me. I decided I'd read it and if it was bad or about vampires or it was Twilight with a different cover, I wouldn't finish it.

I finally got around to picking it up and oh. my. god. It was so good! I loved how it was paranormal and a paranormal romance but it wasn't vampires. It wasn't poorly written- in fact, it was SUPER-written. It was 566 pages of AWESOME. It was a long book- but even after reading 566 pages of it I found myself not wanting it to end. Why? Read on.

First: Setting. This novel is paranormal and it's in the modern world, but it's set in the South in an area with constant Civil War reenactments and a lot of history. I think this is the first book that I've ever read that was a Contemporary/Paranormal/Historical/Romance all at the same time, without a lot of over-empowerment from any of those.

Characters. I loved Ethan. He seemed really cool. I haven't actually read that many books that I've enjoyed that are narrated by guys, and I definitely liked this one the best. I also just liked him as a character. Lena was really cool, obviously, and she was just unique all around.

Casters. The whole witch-type-of-thing-but-not-quite was pretty unique and I really liked it.

I'm not going to go on much more because I'll get overly gush-ish and I'll probably spoil everything for you, but all I can say is that if you're not afraid of large books (with equally large sequels, Beautiful Darkness is just as long), with cool writing, interesting characters, a great setting, and overall a book that I'm calling Contemporary/Paranormal/Historical/Romance, then I recommend picking up Beautiful Creatures.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

"Birth of a Killer" by Darren Shan (Larten Crepsley, #1)

"Before Cirque Du Freak...
Before the war with the vampaneze... 
Before he was a vampire.
Larten Crepsley was a boy. 

As a child laborer many centuries ago, Larten Crepsley did his job well and without complaint, until the day the foreman killed his brother as an example to the other children. 
In that moment, young Larten flies into a rage that the foreman wouldn't survive. Forced on the run, he sleeps in crypts and eats cobwebs to get by. And when a vampire named Seba offers him protection and training as a vampire's assistant, Larten takes it.
This is his story."-goodreads

I love, love, LOVE the Cirque Du Freak series and The Thin Executioner by Darren Shan. This book is the first in a four book series chronicling the life of Larten Crepsley (you know, pre Darren). I really liked Larten Crepsley throughout the Cirque Du Freak series so when I found out that there was going to be four books starring him that come before it I was so excited!

When I picked up "Birth of a Killer" I expected a book that was as good as the Cirque Du Freak series, probably similar, with Crepsley as the main character. This book was way more! I liked it better then I liked most of the Cirque Du Freak series. I'm not sure if this is because I like Crepsley better as the main character or if it is because Mr. Shan has developed more as an author since writing the Cirque Du Freak books, but whatever it is, it's great.

I liked seeing the beginning of what turned Crepsley into the great mentor and overall person in Darren's life. I thought the story was good with surprising turns, and new likeable characters. It was also really interesting to see Crepsley as the 'assistant' rather than Darren. Of course, there's also Darren Shan's amazing writing style which I enjoyed throughout the Cirque Du Freak books and The Thin Executioner before this.

I can't say much more without creating a rather spoiling review, but it was great! If you enjoyed other books by Darren Shan then you'll probably love this one as well! Also, the sequel, "Ocean of Blood" comes out this month!

Friday, April 8, 2011

HEY! DOMAIN NAME!!! *minor interruption*

Cool news, followers and everyone else that reads our blog!

We now own the domain name for Books4Hearts. Basically, that means that the website is now as opposed to *yay*

Cool right!??! Also, if you have links for the address or have that bookmarked, etc... it will still work, you don't need to change them!

So, thats everyone! Convenient, right?
Notice: At the time of the writing of this email, and for a little while, the website might not be accessible and some of the gadgets and features of the site may not be working properly due to the transferring of all the pages and data to the new domain.
-Cat :D

"Deadly" by Julie Chibbaro

"A mysterious outbreak of typhoid fever is sweeping New York.
Could the city's future rest with its most unlikely scientist?
Every week more people fall ill, and despite thorough investigation, there's no cause in sight. It's not until sixteen-year-old Prudence Galewski takes a job as an assistant in a laboratory that the evidence begins to fall into place. It seems one person has worked in every home the fever has ravaged: Mary Mallon, an Irish immigrant quickly dubbed "Typhoid Mary" by the press. Strangely, though, Mary hasn't been sick a day in her life. Is the accusation against her an act of discrimination? Or is she the first clue in a new scientific discovery?
    Prudence is determined to find out. In a time when science is for men, she'll have to prove to the city, and to herself, that she can help solve one of the greatest medical mysteries of the twentieth century."-the inside of the book

Deadly was a good historical fiction novel, portrayed by Prudence's diary entries beginning a little while before she takes the job as an assistant and goes on until the end of Mary Mallon's court case. I was actually surprised about how much I liked it, because until I started reading it I hadn't realized it was going to be a 'diary' style book; which I'm not usually a big fan of. However, it does usually work with me for Historical Fiction, and this is no exception. It reminded me of Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson, which I remember really liking, although I haven't read it in a long time.

My favorite part about Deadly was probably Prudence and her journey throughout the book. She starts out a kind of shy girl who wants to work as an assistant for the Department of Health and Sanitation, but she still doesn't really know what she wants. By the end she's more opinionated and she knows what she wants and that she's going to go get it; and she's not nearly as timid.

I really appreciated how Prudence wanted to explain to Mary and treat her nicely although she wouldn't allow it. She was the only character to truly attempt to understand her. I know there had to be 'that' character, but it was still good. I kind of felt myself thinking that although she took a journey, and we're reading her 'diary' entries, we weren't that close to Prudence. I didn't feel completely immersed in her character, even though it was in first person which for me helps.

I did feel immersed in the story of the historical fiction novel, and overall really enjoyed it. I'm loving historical YA lately and this is no exception. If you like historical fiction in diary form for pretty much any age then you'll probably like Deadly. Also, this is a rather quick read, probably because diary entry books tend to be that way, and also because there's all these cool drawings from Prudence in her 'diary'.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Necessary Parties by Barbara Dana

My parents never used to be concerned about other people's opinions. I personally think it's a poor idea to do something, or not do something, because of what someone else will think. No matter what you do there's always going to be somebody, somewhere, thinking you're weird. It's a price you pay for living.
Christopher Mills, aged 15, used to have the perfect family life. He and his sister got along amazingly well, their parents cared about them... And most importantly, their parents cared about each other.
Now, however, that's changing. Over dinner, Chris and Jenny (his sister)'s parents tell them they're getting a divorce. Chris thinks he should have seen it... After all, the fighting has been going on for a long time. But that doesn't mean he's happy about it. He's seen the affect of divorces... His best friend Haverman's parents have each been divorced four times. That's a total of 7 divorces. Each time, Haverman's life seems ruined.
Chris isn't going to let that happen to his family.
The thing is, his parents still love each other. Deep, deep, DEEEEEEEP down, they love each other. And Chris knows that as soon as they get divorced, they'll realize it and it'll be too late. What if they're married to other people? But what does a 15 year old boy do? It's his parent's life, right?
Or so he thinks, before the fateful Social Studies class. He realizes for the first time the importance of rights, and the pursuit of happiness.
Suddenly, his mind is made up.
He's going to sue his parents.
"But old and nes together make a group," continued Mr. Dunfee. "I think you'll find that just by sharing some of your thoughts here, a lot can get accomplished. I think we tend to think sometimes when we get in shaky situations..."
"You're a shaky situation," muttered Haverman.
I really liked this book. When I got it from the free library book sale (or, basically, a ton of withdrawn library books in a parking garage for free), I was basically throwing whatever books into my bag, and just hoping they would be good.
I didn't actually get around to even opening this book until about a week ago, when I was really bored and looking for something to read. I picked up the book, decided, "heck, yeah it's a really fat book.. whatever" and started reading it.
This was also quite a deceptive book.
First of all, my copy is quite thick. probably about an inch and a half, maybe two inches fat. Thick book. I was expecting that it would take a long while to read. Nope! I got about halfway through in about a day. Also, I was thoroughly expecting there to be a party during part of the book.
uh.. no.
I was also expecting the characters to act differently. For example.. Chris was a LOT less... mature... reasonable than I thought he would be. In that way, he was also far more believable. All in all, this was a good book (funny, too.. Haverman rocks!!!) and I'd give it five stars. :)
"It's driving me crazy," said Haverman. "It's on the tip of my mind."
"What peaches?" said Amy.
"The ones without any hair."
"Nectarines! Jesus, that's it! I couldn't think of what the hell they were called. You how that can drive you crazy?"
"You drive me crazy!" I said. "My parents are getting a divorce and all you can think of is nectarines? What the hell is wrong with you?"

"The Iron Daughter" by Julie Kagawa (Iron Fey #2)

"Half Summer faery princess, half human, Meghan has never fit in anywhere. Deserted by the Winter prince she thought loved her, she is prisoner to the Winter faery queen. As war looms between Summer and Winter, Meghan knows that the real danger comes from the Iron fey—ironbound faeries that only she and her absent prince have seen. But no one believes her.Worse, Meghan's own fey powers have been cut off. She's stuck in Faery with only her wits for help. Trusting anyone would be foolish. Trusting a seeming traitor could be deadly. But even as she grows a backbone of iron, Meghan can't help but hear the whispers of longing in her all-too-human heart."-goodreads

I liked "The Iron King" and "Winter's Passage" but I loved "The Iron Daughter"! It had all of the great elements of characters and writing styles, etc... without half the book setting the plot up as in the first book (which was fine, it was necessary!), this one was a lot easier to get into.

I really liked this book, and it took very surprising twists and turns. THE END OF THE BOOK, PEOPLE!?? It was late and I was reading it and I was like...'what!?'. That was surprising. I can't say what happened, you would all hate me for spoiling it but it was really surprising.

I though Puck got a bit more attention in this book which was nice, but on the other hand Meghan was kind of... obsessed with Ash. The whole time. Most of her thought process in the book is kind of...'something, Ash, something, Ash, Ash, Ash, Puck, Ash, something.' regardless of what is going on. That's fine, because that's the way Meghan's character is supposed to be now. It was cute. It was just kind of weird at times.

Regardless of Meghan's obsessiveness over Ash, I'm still team Ash. He got even more complex in this book. I almost became a Puck fan, I have to admit. I felt bad for him. It's kind of like The Hunger Games, I was almost a Peeta fan just because I felt bad for him... Anyway, the whole book (although a lot of it...) does not revolve around Ash and Puck.

The Iron fae are back. Winter and summer are still fighting! There's plenty of adventure and action to enjoy. Grimalkin the cat comes back in there somewhere, if you were a fan of him.

I would write other things but I'm trying to make this relatively spoiler free. It's kind of hard. Overall, I'll say if you enjoyed The Iron King then you should read The Iron Daughter! :D

Review copy through reviewing program at my library. Thank you!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Mini Review: "Winter's Passage" by Julie Kagawa (Iron Fey #1.5)

Winter's Passage is a novella that takes place between The Iron King and the Iron Daughter, and it's basically 60 pages of Ash and Meghan's journey to the Winter court. The Iron Daughter begins with Meghan at the Winter court, so if you want to see anything that happened inbetween, you can read "Winter's Passage". Also, if you love Ash and Meghan as a couple there's no Puck, so I guess you see a lot of them!

I started The Iron Daughter right after I read this novella and I have to say I'm glad I read the novella. While it wasn't entirely necessary and there was a flashback towards the beginning of The Iron Daughter of Meghan's arrival, I liked knowing how she got there and I thought it made it make the beginning of The Iron Daughter make more sense. If you enjoy Julie Kagawa's writing and liked The Iron King and plan to continue the series you should read Winter's Passage- or if you read the entire series and missed this one I suppose.

If you'd like to read it, it's available for free on the website for the series and you can download it for your computer/eReader/Printing here until the end of April (it's been available for free since June of last year but apparently it's only available until April of this year- maybe Harlequin Teen is planning on printing it in the next printing of the Iron Daughter or something.) You can also read previews of the Iron Fey series there as well!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

"The Iron King" by Julie Kagawa (Iron Fey #1)

"Meghan Chase has a secret destiny—one she could never have imagined…
Something has always felt slightly off in Meghan's life, ever since her father disappeared before her eyes when she was six. She has never quite fit in at school…or at home.
When a dark stranger begins watching her from afar, and her prankster best friend becomes strangely protective of her, Meghan senses that everything she's known is about to change.
But she could never have guessed the truth—that she is the daughter of a mythical faery king and is a pawn in a deadly war. Now Meghan will learn just how far she'll go to save someone she cares about, to stop a mysterious evil no faery creature dare face…and to find love with a young prince who might rather see her dead than let her touch his icy heart."-goodreads

I'll confess that when I first started "The Iron King" I didn't think I was going to like it that much. I expected a faerie book, and when I started reading it, it was a contemporary! I was confused. Then, as the story went on, it went better, got more interesting for me and I got very involved in it. It played out very differently then I expected it to; both from the description and then from the way the book started.

About halfway through the book things really picked up and started getting really interesting and from then on I couldn't put it down! The first half of the book spent a lot of time building Meghan's world and her family, as well as her past. The second half is when things really start moving and we get surprised.

I thought it was really innovative, the idea of a world with the fae and changelings and such in a very modern setting. I thought Kagawa expertly combined the traditionally classical world of faeries with the modern world that we're living in now. 

I really liked the characters, and I thought that Meghan is probably easy to relate to for a lot of people. Then of course, there's Puck, he was really funny and a good friend for Meghan. Now, let's not forget about Ash, here. I'm definitely 'Team Ash'. It's not that Puck isn't cool, it's just that I thought Ash was a more interesting character, more complex. (No, this is not all about a fiction-crush, hah.)

Overall, the Iron King was a really enjoyable, different book and I plan to start the story taking place in-between the Iron King and the Iron Daughter; "Winters Passage" soon, then the rest of the series! If you're into good fantasy books with faeries with a twist of the modern world, then you should read The Iron Fae series.

Friday, April 1, 2011

"Beastly" by Alex Flinn

"I am a beast.
A beast!
Not quite wolf or bear, gorilla or dog but a horrible new creature who walks upright. I am a monster.
You think I'm talking fairy tales? No way. The place is New York City. The time is now. It's no deformity, no disease. And I'll, stay this way forever ruined unless I can break the spell.
Yes, the spell, the one the witch in my English class cast on me. Why did she turn me into a beast who hides by day and prowls by night? I'll tell you. I'll tell you how I used to be Kyle Kingsbury, the guy you wished you were, with money, perfect looks, and the perfect life. And then, I'll tell you how I became perfectly...beastly."

I picked up Beastly because I really liked A Kiss in Time by Alex Flinn, and because I'd heard really good things about it. There's a movie now as well, which I'd like to see. I really enjoyed it. I thought it was really unrealistic, I realize that it should be, it's a modern Beauty and the Beast (A fairy-tale!) but at the same time I thought it'd be a bit more realistic anyway. The capture that wasn't a kidnapping, despite the good intentions of keeping HER (no spoilers) from her father, I didn't think that was real at all. No matter how it seemed the Beast wasn't going to hurt me or something, I wouldn't have lived like that! I would've jumped out a window! Or maybe stolen the phone, it probably wouldn't have been that hard!

I digress though, despite the unrealness of the book, it was very good. The transformation of Kyle was amazing. Lindy was really cool. I really liked Will for some reason, he just seemed cool. The way it turned out who Magda was in the end was really epic, I didn't expect that. A lot of the book was predictable, partially because it's loosely based off the fairy-tale so you vaguely know how it will end of course, but there were still some twists and turns I didn't forsee.

Beastly is written in first person and is a male narrative by Kyle/The Beast/Adrian (the main character) and I don't think this book would have worked any other way.  A lot of the book is Kyle's inner battles with himself and his personality. Who he thought he was, who he was, what he wanted to be, his cold realizations about the way he was or still was at the time acting; they were all a big deal. I liked that because that created a good emotional connection and understanding with the lead character for me. I also adored the ongoing theme with the roses, Kyle's attachment to them, Lindy liking them, and how they were there for most of the story. 'twas great.

There's also the best theme of the book, the one that underlies through the whole thing, that beauty is only skin deep (or the movie tagline: LOVE IS NEVER UGLY, but that's different!). It's a lesson everyone learns/should learn, so that's always good.

All in all, a good take on Beauty and the Beast set in modern day New York City! 

(By the way; if you can't get enough re-tellings of Beauty and the Beast, Angela reviewed "Beast" by Donna Jo Napoli, and I haven't read it but it looks good! It seems the opposite other then focusing on the Beast, so check out her review here. )