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Friday, July 29, 2011

Book Review: Texas Gothic by Rosemary Clement-Moore

Title: Texas Gothic

Author: Rosemary Clement-Moore

Publisher: Delacorte Book for Young Readers

Publication date: July, 2011
Hardcover: 416 pages

Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone

How I got this book: Bought

Why I chose this book: I’ve read Clement-Moore’s other novel, When the Splendor Falls, and loved it.  So of course I wanted to check out her new work.

Synopsis:

Amy Goodnight’s family is far from normal. She comes from a line of witches, but tries her best to stay far outside the family business. Her summer gig? Ranch-sitting for her aunt with her wacky but beautiful sister. Only the Goodnight Ranch is even less normal than it normally is. Bodies are being discovered, a ghost is on the prowl, and everywhere she turns, the hot neighbor cowboy is in her face.

Review:
When I first starting reading Texas Gothic, I was afraid it was going to be some kind of Scooby Doo remake with a cheesy story line and a predictable ending.  I’m pleased to say that it is similar to Sccoby Doo in some aspects, but with a more complex following and just a better air in general.  (Not that I’m smashing Scooby Doo here.)  I really loved Rosemary Clement-Moore’s earlier novel, The Splendor Falls, so I was anticipating this book in many ways.  I had high expectations.  So, did Clement-Moore meet them?  The answer is simple.  Yes–I was once again blown away.  By the writing style, the knowledge I learned, the relationship between the characters, and so much more.
Clement-Moore’s writing style is original, something that’s different than any other writer out there.  That’s part of what makes her novels so irresistable.  Somehow, she’s captured the teen mind perfectly, without sounding condescending or…well, dumb.  I’ve found that this can be a huge challege for writers.  So Rosemary should be proud of herself.
Another thing I loved about this novel is how much I learn from reading.  I love anthropology and archaeology, and reading this book is another way I learned so much about it.  I felt like the author really knew what she was talking about while she wrote it, and that carries on to the reader.  The learning really ties into the plot–which was amazing, by the way.  Full of mystery, suspense, romance–really, anything one could want out of novel.
There are no flat charcters with Clement-Moore’s writing, either.  Every character really pops out of the pages, sticking in my mind even after I’ve read this novel. 
Addicting, I read this entire novel in one sitting.  (Yes, my parents were furious.)  But I feel that there’s nothing better to waste away a day with than a good book.  I have to give Texas Gothic 4.5 stars. 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Book Review: Hereafter by Tara Hudson

Title: Hereafter
Author: Tara Hudson
Publication date: June, 2011
Publisher: HarperTeen

Hardcover: 416 pages

Stand Alone or Series: Series–this is the first in a series.
How I got this book: Bought
Why I chose this book: After reading the synopsis, I was really intrigued, and decided that I needed to read this book.

Synopsis:

Can there truly be love after death?
Drifting in the dark waters of a mysterious river, the only thing Amelia knows for sure is that she’s dead. With no recollection of her past life—or her actual death—she’s trapped alone in a nightmarish existence. All of this changes when she tries to rescue a boy, Joshua, from drowning in her river. As a ghost, she can do nothing but will him to live. Yet in an unforgettable moment of connection, she helps him survive.
Amelia and Joshua grow ever closer as they begin to uncover the strange circumstances of her death and the secrets of the dark river that held her captive for so long. But even while they struggle to keep their bond hidden from the living world, a frightening spirit named Eli is doing everything in his power to destroy their newfound happiness and drag Amelia back into the ghost world . . . forever.
Review:
I’ve never read a book like this.  (And I’ve read a lot of books, so that’s saying something.) 
Hereafter is so original, like nothing that’s out there on the YA market.  And it’s also been a while
since I found a book so completely un-put-downable.  I loved everything about it.
The writing style was simply amazing.  It was almost poetic or lyrical in its entricity.  On top of that
it really got my imagination going.  I could see everything with perfectly clarity.  The characters were
amazing as well.  Since there are so few characters in this book, I think Hudson really had to step
up her game, working harder than usual, to make them believeable–which she did an amazing job
of. 
I don’t come across ghost stories that often.  Or when I do, I tend to stay away from them, because
I know I won’t like the ending.  So it was with great cautiosness that I approached Hereafter.  I
wasn’t sure how I would feel about the novel, and the author’s future works, once I reached the
ending.  But, what I thought was a stand alone novel turned out to be the first book in a series–my mistake.  Now I’ll have to wait for the real conclusion to the story. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Book Review: Bloodlines by Richelle Mead

Title: Bloodlines

Author: Richelle Mead
Publisher: Razorbill

Publication date: August 23, 2011
Hardcover: 432 pages

Stand Alone or Series: Series–this is the first in a series.  Squee!

How I got this book: Galley from BEA.
Why I chose this book: It’s RICHELLE MEAD. 

Synopsis:
The first book in Richelle Mead’s brand-new teen fiction series – set in the same world as Vampire Academy.
When alchemist Sydney is ordered into hiding to protect the life of Moroi princess Jill Dragomir, the last place she expects to be sent is a human private school in Palm Springs, California. But at their new school, the drama is only just beginning.

Populated with new faces as well as familiar ones, Bloodlines explores all the friendship, romance, battles and betrayals that made the #1 New York Times bestselling Vampire Academy series so addictive – this time in a part-vampire, part-human setting where the stakes are even higher and everyone’s out for blood.

Review:
Starting Bloodlines by Richelle Mead was like coming back to an old friend–one I’ve missed dearly.  Since most of the character’s introduced in this novel were already introduced in the Vampire Academy Series, I felt like the story was more productive at delving deeper into the lives of my favorite moroi, dhamirs, and humans.  And boy, does Mead delve deep.
I didn’t know what to expect when I started reading this series.  The Vampire Academy series blew my mind.  Was it possible for Mead to do it a second time?  I needn’t have worried though.  Once a mind-blower, always a mind-blower.  I felt the same connections with the characters as I had previously, and got to know some more interesting people.  And with Mead, there are no static characters–they all jump off the pages. 
I was never left wanting much with this book.  I laughed, I gasped in surprise – many times – and sometimes I was downright speechless.  My one dissappointment–that it wasn’t longer!  I literally couldn’t get enough. 
One of the most precious parts of Mead’s novels, I believe, is the romance.  It is so carefully crafted, so slowly drawn out, that you have no doubt in your mind that it’s real.  (Well, you know what I mean.)  I’m not going to give away who gets involved with who.  That was another plot twist that left me speechless and insanely happy.  I’m not even giving away hints!
Getting to the point–this book is a must-read!  As in, stake-out-overnight-at-the-book-store, wait-for-them-to-stock-the-shelves, push-down-anyone-in-your-way, no-mercy must-read.
And…don’t forget to go to the contest page and sign up to WIN an ARC of BLOODLINES!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Book Review: The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa

Title: The Iron Knight
Author: Julie Kagawa
Publisher: Harlequin
Publication date: October 25, 2011
Softcover: 304 pages
Stand Alone or Series: Series–this is the last in a series.
How I got this book: E-galley from Netgalley
Why I chose this book: Hello!?  It’s THE IRON KNIGHT!  With Ash!
Synopsis:
Ash, former prince of the Winter Court, gave up everything. His title, his home, even his vow of loyalty. All for a girl… and all for nothing.

Unless he can earn a soul.

To cold, emotionless faery prince Ash, love was a weakness for mortals and fools. His own love had died a horrible death, killing any gentler feelings the Winter prince might have had. Or so he thought.

Then Meghan Chase—a half human, half fey slip of a girl— smashed through his barricades, binding him to her irrevocably with his oath to be her knight. And when all of Faery nearly fell to the Iron fey, she severed their bond to save his life. Meghan is now the Iron Queen, ruler of a realm where no Winter or Summer fey can survive.

With the (unwelcome) company of his archrival, Summer Court prankster Puck, and the infuriating cait sith Grimalkin, Ash begins a journey he is bound to see through to its end— a quest to find a way to honor his solemn vow to stand by Meghan’s side.

To survive in the Iron realm, Ash must have a soul and a mortal body. But the tests he must face to earn these things are impossible. At least, no one has ever passed to tell the tale.

And then Ash learns something that changes everything. A truth that turns reality upside down, challenges his darkest beliefs and shows him that, sometimes, it takes more than courage to make the ultimate sacrifice.

Review:
I’m going to make this short and sweet.  There are very (very) few books that I would give five stars to.  Here’s the criteria for a five star book: I feel like what has happened throughout the book was a part of my life; I feel like the characters are a part of me–their struggles my struggles; The book haunts me in my dreams; the story lives with me far after I’m done reading it; I wish it would never end.  I could go on and on as to what makes a five star book, but I think you’ve got the gist. 
So here’s what you’ve been waiting for: The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa is a five star book.  I’m so sad to see the series ending, but I love the insight that Kagawa has given me to the future of the characters.  I feel like they will live with me forever.  (Even though I know I will be reading this series over and over again.)
Two words to sum up this book: agonizingly epic.  Agonizing, because this book really makes me feel.  I don’t know how to go into detail on that point, but that’s what it does.  It makes everything around me stop, and takes me to another world.  And the epic part is pretty easy to understand.  This is a book I will force me children to read one day. (Read: I’m only sixteen.  We have a while.) 
I will definitely be reading anything else Kagawa puts out there!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Book Review: Everlasting by Alyson Noel

Title: Everlasting

Author: Alyson Noel
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

Publication date: June, 2011

Hardcover: 336 pages

Stand Alone or Series: Series–this is the last installment in the Immortals Series.

How I got this book: Galley from St. Martin’s Griffin

 

Why I chose this book: I had read the rest of the book in the series.  I couldn’t not read the last book in it ever, could I?!

Synopsis:

Their darkest enemies now defeated, Damen and Ever are free to embark upon their final quest—to free Damen from the poison lingering in his body.  If they can just find the antidote, they’ll finally be able to feel each other’s touch—and experience the passionate night they’ve been longing for.  But their fight to be together will lead them into the most formidable terrain yet…into the dark heart of Summerland.
Here in a land of scorched earth and endless rain, Ever and Damen will discover their relationship’s hidden origins, expose a secret history they never imagined…and come face to face with the true reason fate keeps tearing them apart.  Only then, when the final mystery is unraveled and the last secret revealed, Ever and Damen’s future will hinge on one ultimate decision that will put everything at stake….even eternity.

Review:
Everlasting has been boasted as an EPIC finale to the Evermore series… But is it true?
It’s very hard to review this book since I have to many conflicting emotions towards it.  We follow Ever and Damen as they search for the cure that will allow them to be together forever  On the one hand, this book had some amazing qualities in it.  The “time-traveling”, the ending, etc.  But it also left me wanting more out of it.  For an ending to a series, I just wanted more, in general.
But I will have to say, I am still in love with Ever and Damen.  Their love story is original and heart-warming (and once in a while heart-breaking.) 
So is this story “epic”?  Alas, no.  But it is pretty good, and if you’ve been reading the series, I would suggest you stick it out till the end.  

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Book Review: The Hidden by Jessica Verday

Title: The Hidden

Author: Jessica Verday

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Publication date: September 6, 2011

Hardcover: 400 pages

Stand Alone or Series: Series–this is the third and final installment in a trilogy.

How I got this book: E-galley from S&S

Why I chose this book: The other novels in the series are – no joke – heart-wrenching.  I simply needed to read this book.

Synopsis:

In the long-awaited conclusion to the bestselling saga of Abbey and Caspian, readers finally learn the truth about Kristen’s untimely death, the dark destiny that links Abbey to Caspian and ties them both to the town of Sleepy Hollow, and the hard choices that Abbey must make if she is to accept Caspian’s love and their unexpected fate. Beautifully spun, emotionally gripping, and irresistibly romantic, The Hidden will leave readers breathless.

Review:

I have a lot to say about this book, but I’m unsure of how to say it all!

This book gave me some mixed feelings.  I fell in love with the characters in the previous
installments, so I was already won over by the time I started this third and final installment.  They
felt real to me–their struggles were heartbreaking.

But I felt a little disappointed (and not just because this was the last installment in the trilogy).  I
just didn’t feel like this book, the conclusion, brought that impact that the last novel needs to bring. 
It didn’t leave me breathless, addicted to turning the pages, heartbroken.

But I will give some props to the ending.  I felt like there was no possible way I could like the
ending to this book.  Verday brought everything down to a low note, making it seem like there was
absolutely no way out.  And then BAM!  I’m not going to give anything else away…but be prepared
for an ending like no other.

I could write about Caspian forever.  He’s the perfect boy, the perfect friend, the perfect everything. 
And he’s the perfect other half for Abbey.  (And my heart melts a little more each time he calls her
Astrid.)  And Abbey is cool, edgy, the perfect heroine.

So, I’m going to go with 3.5 stars for this book.  It was good, but it was lacking something
exponential. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

Book Review: Damned by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie

Title: Damned

Authors: Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Publication date: August 30, 2011

Hardcover: 544 pages

Stand Alone or Series: Series–this is the second installment in a trilogy.

How I got this book: E-galley from S&S

Why I chose this book: I read Crusade, the first book in the series, and became addicted. 

Synopsis:

There is a fine line between love and sacrifice….

Antonio would do anything for his beloved fighting partner Jenn. He protects her, even suppresses his vampire cravings to be with her. Together, they defend humanity against the Cursed Ones. But tensions threaten to fracture their hunting team and his loyalty—his love—is called into question.
 
Jenn, the newly appointed Hunter, aches for revenge against the Cursed One who converted her sister. And with an even more sinister power on the rise, she must overcome her personal vendettas to lead her team into battle.
 
Antonio and Jenn need each other to survive, but evil lurks at every turn. With humanity’s fate hanging in the balance, they must face down the darkness…or die trying.

Review:

Damned was a wonderful book.  It was long enough that for a while, I could keep coming back to it, like an old friend.  It was comforting, a sanctuary of sorts. 

Damned starts off like any other book, with a plot, some characters, and a setting.  But once you start getting into it, it becomes so much more.  All of the characters – Father Juan, Antonio, Jenn, Skye, Eriko, Holgar, even Jamie – they become friends, acquaintances.  They have depth, and you feel what they are feeling.  You understand their struggles and plights. 

Though this book is long, it is not lacking in the action department.  There is always something happening: some vampire being staked, some love going wrong.  You will unintentionally favor some characters over the others.  (For instance, I find myself craving the scenes involving Antonio and Jenn.  While at the same time, I find it a struggle to feel compassion for Jamie.) 

Addicting, heartbreaking, and absolutely lovely, I give Damned by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie 4.5 out of 5 stars. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Julie Kagawa’s Big News

So, recently today (like 2 minutes ago) Julie Kagawa chatted live with some people (like me), and released some big news.  She talked about her Iron Fey series, her upcoming novel, The Iron Knight, and some tidbits that you won’t want to miss.  Read on!

Julie Announced that Teaser Tuesdays will be coming back to her blog soon, so don’t forget to check out her blog for more Iron Knight tidbits.  But that’s just the small news. 

ALSO, Julie has a new series coming out in 2012, called the Blood of Eden series.  It’s a post-apocalyptic book about vampires.  Awesome, no?  Watch shelves for the first book in the series, The Immortal Rules.

AND, that’s not the only JKawaga books hitting shelves in 2012.  Julie let us know that there might be another Iron Fey trilogy coming out.  But it’s not about Meghan or Ash.  It’s about Ethan, Meghan’s brother, all grown up!

There you have it folks, some mighty news!  Tell the press, your parents, whoever!

Book Review: Forever by Maggie Stiefvater

Title: Forever

Author: Maggie Stiefvater

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Publication date: July 12, 2011

Stand Alone or Series: This is the third installment in a trilogy

Hardcover: 400 pages

How I got this book: ARC from Scholastic

Why I chose this book: I read the first two books in the series and truly fell in love with the wolves of Mercy Falls.  (And M.S. is a GENIUS!)

Synopsis:

The thrilling conclusion to #1 bestselling Shiver trilogy from Maggie Stiefvater

then.

When Sam met Grace, he was a wolf and she was a girl. Eventually he found a way to become a boy, and their love moved from a curious distance to the intense closeness of shared lives.

now.

That should have been the end of their story. But Grace was not meant to stay human. Now she is the wolf. And the wolves of Mercy Falls are about to be killed in one final, spectacular hunt.

forever.

Sam would do anything for Grace. But can one boy and one love really change a hostile, predatory world? The past, the present, and the future are about to collide in one pure moment – a moment of death or life, farewell or forever.

Review:

Forever was poignant, heart-breaking, addicting, explicit, romantic, and will stay with me forever

Maggie Stiefvater has a unique writing style that I love.  It sticks so close to human thoughts, allowing me to easily relate to characters and differentiate personalities between each character.  (I also love how the point of view switches between characters in the novel.)  I can’t say enough about the characters.  I felt like I knew them all personally, and their story is my story.  Isabel, Cole, Grace, Sam, I know them all, I LOVE them all.  Even smaller characters, like Grace’s parents, the Culpeper’s, Rachel, Olivia, all have a special place in my heart (or a not-so-special place.) 

Seeing as Forever is the final installment in this amazing trilogy, I was worried that Stiefvater wasn’t going to be end with a bang.  But I shouldn’t have been worried.  Forever is one of those books that will keep you thinking long after you’re finished turning the pages.  And if you hate extreme happy endings (AKA endings that are so far fetched they make you want to retch), you don’t have to worry.  The ending of Forever is believable, and leaves just enough to the imagination.

I could write forever about Forever, but the point is this: you need to read this book.  You need to read this series.  Stiefvater is one of the leading authors of the YA genre, and she knows what she’s doing.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Book Review: Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey

Title: Haunting Violet

Author: Alyxandra Harvey

Publisher: Walker Childrens

Publication date: June, 2011

Hardcover: 352 pages

Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone (I think.)

How I got this book: ARC from Walker Childrens

Why I chose this book: It was sent to me to review, I loved the cover, and the synopsis sounded Ah-mazing!

Synopsis:

Violet Willoughby doesn’t believe in ghosts. But they believe in her. After spending years participating in her mother’s elaborate ruse as a fraudulent medium, Violet is about as skeptical as they come in all matters supernatural. Now that she is being visited by a very persistent ghost, one who suffered a violent death, Violet can no longer ignore her unique ability. She must figure out what this ghost is trying to communicate, and quickly because the killer is still on the loose.

Afraid of ruining her chance to escape her mother’s scheming through an advantageous marriage, Violet must keep her ability secret. The only person who can help her is Colin, a friend she’s known since childhood, and whom she has grown to love. He understands the true Violet, but helping her on this path means they might never be together. Can Violet find a way to help this ghost without ruining her own chance at a future free of lies?

Review:

Haunting Violet was original and addicting.

At first, I was skeptical as to whether or not I would enjoy reading this novel.  I love historical fiction  – and paranormal – but its hard to find a good mix with an even better writing style.  But this book brought it all: intrigue, romance, mystery.  It was amazing–I can’t say enough good things about it!

I don’t I can even pick out any flaws in this novel.  The romance between Violet and Colin was adorable and believeable.  Since they knew each other since childhood, and we got to see a few scenes between them when they were children, it really helped build the connection that a reader wants to see.  The mystery was amazing as well.  I had no idea who the killer was until the author wanted me to, which is very rare with me and books.  Usually the answer is obvious.  Notin Haunting Violet. 

If you like a good time and a good book, check out Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey.