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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Book Review: Devil’s Kiss by Sarwatt Chadda

 

Title: Devil’s Kiss

Author: Sarwat Chadda

Publisher: Hyperion

Publication Date: September, 2009

Hardback: 336 pages

Stand Alone or Series: Series—this is the first in the series

How I got this book: Bought

Why I chose this book: I’ve heard some great things from this book. When I attended a multi-author book signing, they had a giveaway for this book, and the ARC of the next book in the series—which comes out next year.  Unfortunately, I didn’t win, but it did prompt me to read this book sooner rather than later.

Synopsis:

                There’s Nothing To Fear But Fear Itself….And Billi SanGreal.
As the youngest and only female member of the Knights Templar, Bilquis SanGreal grew up knowing she wasn’t normal.  Instead of hanging out at the mall or going on dates, she spends her time training as a soldier in her order’s ancient battle against the Unholy. 

Billi’s cloistered life is blasted apart when her childhood friend, Kay, returns from Jerusalem,  gorgeous and with a dangerous chip on his shoulder. He’s ready to reclaim his place in Billi’s life, but she’s met someone new: amber-eyed Michael, who seems to understand her like no one else, effortlessly claiming a stake in her heart.

But the Templars are called to duty before Billi can enjoy the pleasant new twist to her life. One of the order’s ancient enemies has resurfaced, searching for a treasure that the Templars have protected for hundreds of years — a cursed mirror powerful enough to kill all of London’s firstborn.  To save her city from catastrophe, Billi will have to put her heart aside and make sacrifices greater than any of the Templars could have imagined.

Review:
The Cover: I really like this cover.  It shows empowerment, foreshadowing, blah blah blah.  Yes, most covers somehow relate to the story.  I’ve said that so much already.  But I just think this cover has something to it.  Not eye-catching necessarily.  It just has an air of mystery.  And my eye is really drawn to the giant sward!
The Characters:  Chadda gives each character a different light, which I love.  Not one character is the same, and I got to know even the smaller characters.  That waitress at the café—she seems so real, even though I don’t know her name. 
The main character, Billi, is one tough girl.  Her father is constantly pushing her to achieve the best, to be the best.  And when she is—he’s still not satisfied.  I think we’ve all wanted to make someone proud at one point in our lives, so it’s easy to empathize with Billi and her struggles.
Kay the Oracle.  I wasn’t able to tell whether Chadda was trying to make Kay a mysterious figure, but I found him quite easy to read.  In the beginning of the book, when he first comes back, he says something along the lines of “my emotions get in the way of my magic”.  It’s easy to pinpoint that he means his feelings for Billi.  And not just as a friendship.  But Kay has the jealous best friend down pat.  I really liked reading the scenes with Kay in them. 
Mike.  Now, Mike is a mysterious guy.  We can predict he’s not who he says he is almost instantly.  At least, I could.  I won’t ruin the story for you, if you hadn’t read it.  But I have a feeling there is more to him than we first learn in book one.  Hopefully there’ll be a reprieve in book 2.
The Plot:  We follow Billi on her journey of taking down the Unholy.  She is a part of a centuries old Templar that fights to keep the humans safe.  Except, Billi doesn’t want to be a part of the Templar.  Not when she gets no praise, is shown no affection, and can’t even get through a normal day of school.  And I can’t say I blame her. 
But as we weave further into the story, we realize that Kay might have accidently let some evil beings into the human realm.  Oops!  More specifically, one of the most powerful evil beings, the Watcher.
This story is fast paced and leaves you on the edge of your seat, though I was a little disappointed by the slight predictability.  The real identity of Mike?  Easy.  Now, what happens to Kay.  That’s a mind blower. 
Overall: This story was great.  If you like stories that are action packed, then you won’t want to miss this.  If you like a story with a few twists and turns, then you won’t want to miss this.  If you like a story with a great historical background, then you WON’T WANT TO MISS THS.  Are you seeing a pattern here?
Spare Thoughts: The second book, Dark Goddess, comes out in late January of 2011.  I will definitely be grabbing my copy off the shelf.
Final: Devil’s Kiss is an action-packed thriller with an invigorating hero.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Awakened by PC and Kristen Cast

Finally, the cover of Awakened by PC and Kristen Cast has been revealed!  Here it is…

         “My love, speak to me. Tell me everything.” Neferet went to Kalona, kneeling before him, stroking the soft, dark wings that unfurled loosely around the immortal.

         “What would you have me say?” He didn’t meet her eyes.

         “Zoey lives.” Neferet’s voice was flat, cold, lifeless.

         “She does.”

         “Then you owe me the subservience of your immortal soul.” She started to walk away from him.

         “Where are you going? What will happen next?”

         “It is quite simple. I will ensure Zoey is drawn back to Oklahoma. There, on my own terms, I will complete the task you failed.”

         Exonerated by the Vampyre High Council and returned to her position of High Priestess at Tulsa’s House of Night, Neferet has sworn vengeance on Zoey. Dominion over Kalona is only one of the weapons she plans to use against Z. But Zoey has found sanctuary on the Isle of Skye and is being groomed by Queen Sgiach to take over for her there. Being Queen would be cool, wouldn’t it? Why should she return to Tulsa? After losing her human consort, Heath, she will never be the same – and her relationship with her super-hot-warrior, Stark, may never be the same either…

         And what about Stevie Rae and Rephaim? The Raven Mocker refuses to be used against Stevie Rae, but what choice does he have when no one in the entire world, including Zoey, would be okay with their relationship? Does he betray his father or his heart?

         In the pulse-pounding 8th book in the bestselling House of Night series, how far will the bonds of friendship stretch and how strong are the ties that bind one girl’s heart?

Isn’t it wonderful!  Don’t forget to grab your copy of book 8 in the Marked series, January 4, 2011.

Book Review: Enchanted Ivy by Sarah Beth Durst

Title: Enchanted Ivy

Author: Sarah Beth Durst

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry

Publication Date: October, 2010

Hardback: 320 pages

Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone (so far)

How I got this book: Bought

Why I chose this book:  Who wouldn’t want to read a story of an enchanted college.  Especially since I have been looking into colleges myself, I thought this would be the perfect book for me. 

Synopsis:

          What Lily Carter wants most in the world is to attend Princeton University just like her grandfather. When she finally visits the campus, Grandpa surprises her: She has been selected to take the top-secret Legacy Test. Passing means automatic acceptance to Princeton. Sweet!

          Lily’s test is to find the Ivy Key. But what is she looking for? Where does she start? As she searches, Lily is joined by Tye, a cute college boy with orange and black hair who says he’s her guard. That’s weird. But things get seriously strange when a gargoyle talks to her. He tells her that there are two Princetons—the ordinary one and a magical one—and the Key opens the gate between them. But there are more secrets that surround Lily. Worse secrets.
 
         When Lily enters the magical Princeton, she uncovers old betrayals and new dangers, and a chance at her dream becomes a fight for her life. Soon Lily is caught in a power struggle between two worlds, with her family at its center. In a place where Knights slay monsters, boys are were-tigers, and dragons might be out for blood, Lily will need all of her ingenuity and courage—and a little magic—to unite the worlds and unlock the secrets of her past and her future.
   
Review:

The Cover: I’m not blown away by this cover or anything.  I understand the meaning of the gargoyle and (I’m guessing) dragon.  But I think there could have been some more improvements, something to make it more eye catching.  But like I said, I don’t hate it.  I like the idea of the fogged background, which sets the atmosphere of the magical aspects of the book. 

The Characters:  Dursts’ protagonist, Lily, is refreshingly independent.  She even tries to be badass, even though she hasn’t quite got the hang of it.  There’s a life to Lily which allows me to empathize with her.  She has the responsibility of watching over her mom, who’s a few fries short of a happy meal, keeping up her grades so she can get into college (meaning Princeton), and pleasing her grandfather, by trying to get into said college. 

Tye and Jake, the two boys vying for Lily’s attention, have both captured a tiny piece of my heart.  (Tye all the way!)  Tye has shown traits that I was surprised by.  Meaning, he has no trouble falling in love.  He’s funny, rebelling, and generally complex.  He lives in the magical Princeton, where his dad rules on the Council.  And why he seems to be fearless, up close you can tell he has a few fissures. 

Jake makes me a little weary.  In the story he’s described as a puppy.  Eager to please.  It seems all he wants is to be a part of the Vineyard Club, and nothing else.  He even goes as far as dumping Lily to the ground after she’s been injured, just because he fears she’s something unliked by the club.  In my perspective, I think he needs to mature a little–and hopefully we’ll get to see this happen in a sequel. 

The plot: A magical Princeton, full of talking gargoyles, were-tigers, knights, unicorns, dragons, and so much more.  It makes me want to apply to Princeton!  It takes a good imagination to come up with a story that won’t be sucked into the masses, and Durst has showed us that she has that. 

We follow Lily as she stays at Princeton with her grandfather and mother, trying to complete a test given her by the Vineyard Club.  The task she’s given: find the Ivy Key.  And if she succeeds: guaranteed acceptance into Princeton.  Wow.  What a deal. 

The story is fast paced as Lily immediately starts her journey, where she is joined by the “outlawed” Tye, the were-tiger.  Of course, were-tigers don’t exist!  And the talking gargoyles–it’s all wires and mechanisms.  At least, this is what Lily tells herself as she’s put through events that get stranger by the minute. 

As Lily troupes through her clues, trying to finish her test, she really matures, and learns to accepts the truths she can no longer deny.  All the while, she gets to ride some awesome beasts, fight through a battle, fear for the ones she loves, and fall in love. 

Overall: Such an amazing book.  I haven’t read any other books by Durst, though I’m betting they’re just as great.  The writing style just pulls you in, right to the core of Princeton University and all it’s magic.

Spare Thoughts:  It just adds to the books believability that Durst went to college at Princeton.  Her descriptions of the gargoyles and the setting where completely vivid and lovely.  There are a few loose ends by the end of the book–I hope this is due to a sequel and not just an error.

Final: Enchanted Ivy is vivid.  Durst wove together the magical world and the real world with perfect conviction.

Other books by this author: Ice, Into the Wild, Out of the Wild

Book Review: Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore

Title: Magic Under Glass

Author: Jaclyn Dolamore

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA

Publication Date: December, 2009

Hardback: 240 pages

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

How I got this book: Bought

Why I chose this book:  I was browsing through books online, when this one came up.  I read the synopsis, and instantly I was intrigued.  The original plot line itself had me anxious to read this book.

Synopsis:

              Nimira is a foreign music-hall girl forced to dance for mere pennies. When wealthy sorcerer Hollin Parry hires her to sing with a piano-playing automaton, Nimira believes it is the start of a new and better life. In Parry’s world, however, buried secrets are beginning to stir. Unsettling below-stairs rumors swirl about ghosts, a madwoman roaming the halls, and Parry’s involvement with a league of sorcerers who torture fairies for sport. Then Nimira discovers the spirit of a fairy gentleman named Erris is trapped inside the clockwork automaton, waiting for someone to break his curse. The two fall into a love that seems hopeless, and breaking the curse becomes a race against time, as not just their love, but the fate of the entire magical world may be in peril.

Review:

           I am thinking that this book did not get much publicity, because before I found it while shuffling through books online, I had never heard of it.  Yet, I believe it should be more wildly known, for it’s such a beautiful book. 
          The idea of a man being stuck in the body of an automaton is so completely new and different, that I was really anxious to read this book.  The way that the main character Nimira, communicates and gets to know Erris, the automaton, is very sentimental and endearing. 
          This book is one that can get you thinking, if you’re that type of person.  She often asks the question, what must that life be like: to only be able to play the piano, against your will.  To not be able to see beyond what is in front of you.  Unable to speak and ask for help.  It’s a little heartbreaking, I’m not going to lie.
          Dolamore had a lot of things working against her when she wrote this book.  For one, writing a book set in a different era.  You either can, or you can’t.  And Dolamore definitely can.  She uses the older perspective without making the story dull and unenjoyable.  I feel like I’m still reading a modern book.
         I don’t like that the idea of magical creatures is inserted so subtly.  The book is based in a place where people are aware of magic, mythical creatures, etc.  But it’s so little mentioned that it makes it hard for the reader to relate.  Is this a common anomaly?  What does Nimira think about that?  It was frustrating.
          While reading this book, I thought it was going to have a very predictable, happy ending.  I also thought it was going to be a one-book story.  Well, I was wrong.  I’m not going to ruin the ending–if you want to know, you’ll have to read this book.  And you won’t be disappointed.

Overall: I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys romance, mystery, magic, etc.

Final: Magic Under Glass is an enchanting and original storyline.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Book Review: Dark Flame by Alyson Noël

Title: Dark Flame

Author: Alyson Noël

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

Publication Date: July, 2010

Hardcover: 320 pages

Stand Alone or Series: Series–this is the fourth book in The Immortals series

How I got this book: Bought

Why I chose this book: I had started reading this series in 2009, with the first book, Evermore.  With the first book, I had read the synopsis, which really caught my attention.  It still had that common paranormal theme to it, yet it took that theme and twisted it into something new.

Synopsis:

               Ever is trying to help Haven make the transition into life as an immortal.  But with Haven drunk on her new powers and acting recklessly, she poses the ultimate threat–exposing their secret world to the outside.  But Ever’s struggle to keep the Immortals hidden only propels Haven closer to the enemy: Roman and his evil Companions.

              At the same time, Ever delves deeper into dark magick to free Damen from Roman’s power.  But when her spell backfires, it binds her to the one new guy who’s hell-bent on her destruction.  Now there’s a strange, foreign pulse coursing through her, and no matter what she does, she can’t stop thinking about Roman–and longing for his touch.  As she struggles to resist the fiery attraction threatening to consume her, Roman is more than willing to take advantage of her weakened state…and Ever edges closer and closer to surrender.

              Frantic to break the spell before it’s too late, Ever turns to Jude for help, risking everything she knows and loves to save herself–and her Future with Damen…

Review:

               I have to say, I’ve been pretty pleased with all the Immortals covers so far.  I’ve mentioned it before, and I’ll mention it again: I just have this fine appreciation for books with black backgrounds.  It’s very eye-catching.  And, depending on the material in the book, it can be very significant.  The cover for the first book is by far my favorite.
               Noël has a very witty writing style that I very much enjoy reading.  While I don’t like to compare authors, I’d say Noël is in the same field as Meg Cabot.  Anyway, I can assure you that while these books can be serious, mixed with talk of real-life issues, there are some good laughs thrown in.
              While I’m always skeptical about the new paranormal that comes my way, I was a little but of a newbie to the genre when I read this book.  And I’m glad, because I may not have given it a fair chance otherwise.  While Dark Flame is paranormal, there’s much more to it. 
              In this book, the main character, Ever, is dealing with many problems.  One of these happens to be her best friend, Haven.  Haven is a newly turned immortal, but she doesn’t understand all that comes with this title.  And Ever’s trying to help her figure it out.  It can be very infuriating when reading what happens between this two.  I mean, they’re supposed to be friends.  But I guess that’s all part of the plot.  Haven is insubordinate. 
           I have to feel some pity for Ever though.  Because while she is not only dealing with her problematic friend, she’s always dealing with the fact that she can’t touch her boyfriend.  I think this would drive anybody crazy!  So it’s no surprise that Ever dabbles a little in dark magick to try to solve this (even though Damen told her not to!).
         
Overall: It’s a good read, but I find it easily forgettable.  If you only read a book every so often, then sure, you’ll love this  book.  I’m not saying I didn’t.  I’m just saying, once you mix it in there with every other book about immortals and deception, the lines start to blur a little.  I think what definitely ties this book together is the characters–they sizzle! 

One small detail that I absolutely love is the idea of the flower interwoven through the book (for the life of me, I can’t remember the name of the flower!!).  It gives the eternal love between Damen and Ever a sentimental quality. 

Other book by this author: Radiance, Fly Me to the Moon, Faking 19, Art Geeks, Laguna Love, Kiss & Blog, Saving Zoë, Cruel Summer

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Book Review: Shrinking Violet by Danielle Joseph

Title: Shrinking Violet

Author: Danielle Joseph

Publisher: MTV Books

Publication Date: May, 2009

Softcover: 320 pages

Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone

How I got this book: Bought

Why I chose this book: Everything about this book screamed ‘cozy read’.  You know, the kind where you just wrap up in a blanket with a cup of hot chocolate and have a good read.  And since I love a good cozy read, I got this book.

Synopsis:

               High school senior Teresa Adams is so painfully shy that she dreads speaking to anyone in the hallways or getting called on in class. But in the privacy of her bedroom with her iPod in hand, she rocks out — doing mock broadcasts for Miami’s hottest FM radio station, which happens to be owned by her stepfather. When a slot opens up at The SLAM, Tere surprises herself by blossoming behind the mike into confident, sexy Sweet T — and to everyone’s shock, she’s a hit! Even Gavin, the only guy in school who she dares to talk to, raves about the mysterious DJ’s awesome taste in music. But when The SLAM announces a songwriting contest — and a prom date with Sweet T is the grand prize — Sweet T’s dream could turn into Tere’s worst nightmare….

Review:

The cover: I really liked this cover.  Since the main character, Tere, is extremely shy, a “shrinking violet”, this cover is very practical and makes sense.  I made the assumption that the girl on the cover is Tere, and while I usually like to be left to my own devices to imagine a character, I didn’t mind it with this. 

The characters: While I defined this book as a simple cozy read, the main character, Tere, is anything but simple.  I had a hard time relating with her the complexity of her shyness.  I understand shyness in general–I think most people have experienced it.  But in Tere’s case, it’s to such a magnitude that her mouth fills up with “peanut butter” and she can’t speak at all.  Joseph didn’t do the best job at making Tere bond-able with the reader.  Because of this, I think the book lacks that familiar quality. 

The plot:  But I definitely don’t think it lacks the reality quality.  Joseph took high school, simplified it, and put it perfectly in her book.  The book has a reality to it that makes it even more enjoyable. 

We start off simply, going through Tere’s senior year in high school.  In school, she’s a wallflower.  She sticks to the background with her one and only friend, Audrey.  But where Tere really lives is inside her head.  She makes up fake DJ speeches that she says on SLAM FM radio, the studio her step-father owns. 

When Tere finally gets the chance to go on the radio, as none other than Sweet T, she’s a little sluggish to grab at the chance.  But I cheered her through it, and eventually she was the co-DJ of the radio show, The Love Shack.  Little by little, Tere let’s go of the mask that hides her from everybody, and starts coming out of her shell–partially due to hottie Gavin Tam, a boy in her English class that seems to share her love of music. 

The books then takes a turn for the fairy tales when it ends up as a sort-of Cinderella story.  (You’ll have to read to find out what I mean!)

Overall:  This is one of those books that just makes your day better.  I hope you know the type, because I wouldn’t be able to get by without them.  It was sweet, and left the lingering taste of love in my mouth.

Final: Shrinking Violet is a sweet and addicting read.

Other books by this author: Indigo Blues

Killer Unicorns

Hey everyone!  If you’ve read the killer unicorn series, Rampant and Ascendant by Diana Peterfreund, then you should love this video. 

If you want more, you can go to http://www.killerunicorns.org/

Book Review: Dead Beautiful by Yvonne Woon

Title: Dead Beautiful

Author: Yvonne Woon

Publisher: Hyperion Book CH

Publication date: September, 2010

Hardback: 464 pages

Stand Alone or Series: Series–this is the first in a series.  (I’m pretty positive this is going to be a series, but I cannot find any definite word.

How I got this book: Bought

Why I chose this book:  Well, I definitely did not judge this book buy it’s cover.  Because, truthfully, I hate the cover.  I think it looks very amateurish.  The only part I like about it is the woods in the background, and on the back of the book.  Needless to say, I was enticed to read this book because of the title, and then the synopsis. 

Synopsis:

              A haunting love story about desire, danger, and destiny. After Renee Winters discovers her parents lying dead in California’s Redwood Forest in what appears to be a strange double murder, her grandfather sends her off to Gottfried Academy in Maine, a remote and mysterious high school dedicated to philosophy, “crude sciences,” and Latin: the Language of the Dead. It’s here she meets Dante, a dark and elusive student to whom she feels inexplicably drawn. As they get to know each other better, Dante can’t seem to control his attraction either, and their desires gradually deepen into a complex and dangerous romance. Dangerous because Dante is hiding a frightening secret. A secret so terrible, it has him fearing for Renee’s life.

             Dante’s not the only one with secrets, though. Turns out Gottfried Academy has a few of its own.  Like, how come students keep disappearing? Why are the prefect-like Monitors creeping around campus during the night? And what exactly are the Headmistress and Professors really up to? Renee is determined to find out why.
Review:

The cover: Like I said early, I’m very disappointed in this cover.  Good books need good covers.  Because most people, by which I mean myself, judge books on their covers.  I’m not saying I won’t read a book with a bad cover.  But the cover is what helps catch a persons eye.  A catalyst is you will.  On the cover, the girl is wearing a fancy black dress and a cape.  After reading the story, I still have no idea how this ties into the novel.  I’m assuming the girl on the cover is Renee.  As for the cape–I haven’t heard any mention of one throughout the entire novel.  So?  It remains a mystery.

The characters:  I thoroughly enjoyed learning about each of the characters in this book.  Woon has a way of making even the most insignificant characters lively.  But can this sometimes be a bad thing. 

One character in the book remains on my radar: Brett.  Throughout the story, Woon reiterates his extreme likeness to her former boyfriend, Wes.  But even by the end of the novel, there was no mention of how this connects to anything.  Also, Brett kind of gives me the creeps.  If there are more novels to come, I hope he is more involved and we get to learn his story–otherwise I will be disappointed and confused. 

The Plot:  In a world where everything is supposed to be normal, it’s starting to seem like everything is not.  On her way home with her best friend, Annie, Renee finds her parent’s car on the side of the road, abandoned.  Renee goes into the forest after reassuring Annie she’ll be right back.  Only she doesn’t come right back.  Because in the forest, a mile away from their car, Annie finds her parents dead, and in a strange situation at that.  There are coins scattered around their bodies, and their mouths are stuffed with gauze.  The police deem this situation a double heart attack.  Completely natural causes. 

The plot thickens as Renee is reacquainted with her grandfather, and sent to Gottfried Academy.  Which is where she meets Dante.  And things start unraveling. 

Overall:  I can’t say this book was amazing.  I didn’t finish it all in one sitting and I’m not shaking in my seat writing an amazing review.  But I can simply say this book was good.  Probably three and a half stars.  (out of five)  But if there is, in fact, another book coming for this series, I will be reading it.  There was a lot of backstory and research put into this book, that I can tell.  It is involved with an interesting history, one that I had fun reading of.  So my (theoretical) hat off to you, Yvonne!

Final: Definitely not what I was expecting, Dead Beautiful takes an enjoyable new roll on life, love, and death.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Book Review: Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready

Title: Shade

Author: Jeri Smith-Ready

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Publication Date: May, 2010

Hardcover: 320 pages

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

How I got this book: Read at Pulse It

Why I chose this book:  Initially, I wasn’t going to read this book, because based on the synopsis, I didn’t think I would like it.  But then I had the chance to read it for free – and the free time to do so – and after just a couple chapters, I knew this was my type of book.

Synopsis:

              Love ties them together.  Death can’t tear them apart.  Best. Birthday. Ever. At least, it was supposed to be.  With Logan’s band playing a critical gig and Aura’s plans for an intimate after-party, Aura knows it will be the most memorable night of her boyfriend’s life.  She never thought it would be his last.  Logan’s sudden death leaves Aura devastated.  He’s gone.

             Well, sort of.  Like everyone born after the Shift, Aura can see and hear ghosts.  This mysterious ability has always been annoying, and Aura had wanted nothing more than to figure out why the Shift happened so she can undo it.  But not with Logan’s violet-hued spirit still hanging around.  Because dead Logan is almost as read as ever.  Almost.  It doesn’t help that Aura’s new friend Zachary is so understanding…and so very alive.  His support means more to Aura than she cares to admit.  As Aura’s relationships with the dead and the living grow ever complicated, so do her feelings to Logan and Zachary.  Each holds a piece of Aura’s heart, and clues to the secret of the Shift.

Review:

The Cover: I’m not head over heals for this cover.  I understand that the general purple-ness is supposed to connect with the ghosts in the story. (They’re violet-tinged.)  But other than that, I don’t understand it, or the purpose behind it.  On the plus side, it’s aesthetically pleasing!

The Characters:  The a sweet real-ness about the characters–something I don’t think should be lacking from any book.  Smith-Ready really captured the essence of a teenager, and put it inside her teen characters.  Also, I enjoy the complexity she’s woven into each character’s persona.  Instead each character having one problem and one quality that makes them, she incorporates what you need to make a persona.

Take for instance, Logan.  He’s not just dealing with dying–which has to be greatly traumatic.  He’s dealing with his feelings for Aura, the general loss of his old life, the loss of his music, the sadness of his family, etc.  It’s not wonder he’s having some troubles in the “sorta” after-life.

Aura is a strong main character.  And since I’m a girl, I enjoy that Aura doesn’t depend on her male counter-parts.  Also, she’s not just ruled by her emotions.  I know I’m not the only one who appreciates these qualities.

The plot:  We follow Aura through her struggle of a life with ghosts.  She’s the first in a generation of ghost-seers.  The main conflict: she doesn’t want to be able to see ghosts.  But some more conflict arises when her boyfriend, Logan dies.  Now, not being able to see ghosts means losing Logan forever.  So, what do we do… we bring in Zachary, an irresistible guy with an accent.  (It’s a good thing Aura’s got some self-control.) 

Overall:  The general pace of the story was quick and well timed.  There weren’t many times that I was left wanting for answers.  I wish that we could have gotten more background on the relationship between Aura and Logan, for the purpose of better understanding what Aura is going through once Logan dies. 

Spare thoughts:  It was a good read.  I’m glad I got the chance to read this–it would have been regretful to miss.  I know I will definitely be reading the next in the series.  (Out in May, 2011)

Final: Shade was suspenseful and lovely–and overall good read.

Other book by this author: WVMP Radio Series, Aspect of the Crow series, Requiem for the Devil

Friday, October 15, 2010

Book Review: The Pace by Shelena Shorts

Title: The Pace

Author: Shelena Shorts

Publisher: Lands Atlantic Publishing, LLC.

Publication date: August, 2009

Paperback: 302 pages

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

How I got this book: bought

Why I chose this book:  While I was rifling through different books I could buy on my Kindle, I came across Shelena Shorts’ The Pace.  I was a little skeptical at first, but I decided to give it a try.

Synopsis:

             Nineteen-year-old Weston has everything.  He’s super hot, mysterious, dangerous, sincere, and vulnerable.  He’s also a one-of-a-kind evolution that will change the idea of immortality forever.  Anyone would be drawn to him, even without fate’s intervention, and when eighteen-year-old Sophie crashes into him, there’s no turning back.

            All that remains is figuring out who, or what, he is, and with a little perseverance, she’ll find out the indelible truth–right along with a century-old secret..and a threat for which neither of them are prepared.

Review:

The cover:  Can I just say I love black backgrounds on covers.  It really captures the eye and brings a clarity to what else is on the cover.  In The Pace‘s case, it’s an hourglass, which completely does the story justice.  Score one for Shorts!

The characters:  When I first learned that Sophie, one of the protagonists, goes to cyber school, I was intrigued, and a little bit excited.  Since it’s relatively new, and many people have different views, it’s not surprising I haven’t read about any characters who do it also. 

Weston Wilson III is a dork.  Yes, but he’s a hot dork.  And acts very un-dorkish.  Shorts does an amazing job at bringing this character off the pages with his personality.  He’s not your typical tall dark and handsome, and I love that.  It steps away from the usual stereotypical leading man. 

The plot:  The first chapter of the stories starts out with Sophie going to meet her mother for lunch at the college she teaches at.  The story was dragging a bit here, and I considered just doing away with the book.  Not many details were given, and it seemed a bit blan. 

But I am happy that I stuck with it.  Starting soon after the first chapter, the story really took off, barely giving me a chance to get off the edge of my seat.  Shorts wove together a plot that kept you guessing most of the time.  The main dilemma in the story is Weston Wilson’s secret.  Who he is.  (Or what he is.)  But instead dragging the same problem out throughout the book, Shorts brings in more.  Wonderful.  I do like a challenge. 

Overall:  Besides that first chapter, this book turned out to be one of my favorites.  It took a relatively popular topic, and turned it on it’s side.  I know I will be anxiously awaiting for each new installement, and I’ll be sad when it ends. 

Spare thoughts: I was a little surprised at how quickly Sophie believed everything Weston said.  Maybe I’m just a skeptic, but if somebody tells me I have a death-defying love, I might just laugh a little.  But I loved it so much I’ll be lenient.

Final: The Pace is truly magnificent.  It contains originality, mystery, and suspense.

Other books by this author: The Broken Lake

Book Review: Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

Title: Shiver

Author: Maggie Stiefvater

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Publication Date: August, 2009

Hardback: 390 pages

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

How I got this book: Bought

Why I chose to read this book: I tend to look at covers and titles when I decide to pick a book up off the shelf.  The cover of Shiver was intriguing to me, thus I read the inside cover.  What I really love about the cover is that you have to take a close look to see the wolf in amongst all the vines.  And I’m still curious abou the red spatter.  Is it blood?
Synopsis:
    
               For years, Grace has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house.  One yellow-eyed wolf – her wolf – is a chilling presence she can’t seem to live without.  Meanwhile, Sam has lived two lives: In winter, the frozen woods, the protection of the pack, and the silent company of a fearless girl.  In summer, a few precious months of being human… until the cold makes him shift back again.
              
              Now, Grace meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away.  It’s her wolf.  It has to be.  But as winter nears, Sam must fight to stay human–or risk losing himself, and Grace, forever. 
Review: 
The cover: As far as covers go, I would have to say this one rates pretty far up on my list.  I tend not to like illustrated covers–but this completely contradicted my preferences.  The cover, while illustrated, didn’t take away from the maturity of the book.  Also, it left me asking questions about what is to come in the book.  When I first saw the cover, I didn’t realize that the tree design actually depicted a wolf slightly obscured on the side.  Overall, I give this cover a thumbs up.
The characters: Maggie Stiefvater’s characters are truly mesmerizing.  It’s writing like this that encourages others to write also.  I felt like I was right in the middle of the story, as much a part of the plot as Grace, one of the protagonists.  However Stiefvater breathes life into her characters is beyond me, but I congradulate her.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see any one of her characters walking down the street some day.
My favorite character was, hands down, Sam, the other protagonist.  Sam isn’t human all the time.  Sometimes he’s a wolf.  And every time the coldness starts to seep into the air, Sam loses his human qualities for the remainder of the chill.  I found myself feeling the same emotions as Sam throughout the book, whether it be heart-wrenching sadness, or complete bliss.  He’s normalized (though, not completely) by his improptu lyrics, which are integrated throughout the book.
By the end of this book, I was in love with some of the characters (especially Sam) and even despised some of the others.
The plot:  Stiefvater was lucky enough to have published Shiver before Werewolf Mania really came about.  This lent the book a more orignial quality. 
The story follows Sam and Grace as they try to kindle their deep feelings for each other, and find a way to keep Sam from changing into a wolf once the cold takes over.  I really enjoyed how the plot offered up many twists and turns.  Too often, books become predictable, and boring to read.  This happened not to be one of those books.  I was unable to put it down. 
There’s also the believability factor involved with Shiver.  Yes, even with people changing into wolves.  Maggie really captured the teen voice, so I never found myself questioning her choice of words, or her character’s actions.  (One of my biggest pet peeves in a book is knowing how old the author is just by reading their writing.)  Also, each scene throughout the book flowed fluently.
I like that Grace’s parents were scarce throughout the book–with the explanation that they are hardly home due to work and outings.  This took away those awkward parent scenes that tend to take away from the atmosphere from the book.
Overall:  I was extremely pleased with this book.  I admit, I tend to love most books, but not so completely as this.  This is the type of book that leaves you lingering inside the pages for days after you’ve finished the book.  I don’t want to compare this to any other books in the same genre, because no two books are alike.  But I think anyone with an appetite for paranormal romances (or werewolves) will thoroughly enjoy this book.
Spare thoughts:  I was surprised and a little disappointed at first by the alternating points of view.  But I was quickly relieved.  Even though written by a female, Sam’s point of view actually reminisced of a teen boy’s–albeit, a very sensitive boy who has gone through a lot.
                   
Final:  Shiver is enticing, enchanting, and truly breathtaking. 
Other books by this author: Linger, Lament, Ballad